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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

1 posted on 12/21/2003 12:17:28 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

2 posted on 12/21/2003 12:20:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
The Bridge To Iran

Washington Post - By Jim Hoagland
Dec 21, 2003

A black hole in the U.S. commitment to transform the greater Middle East hovers over Iran. An attentive newspaper reader can describe the goals that President Bush and Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, have in mind with respect to Iraq, Palestine and the Arab political order. On Iran, the jury of two is still out.

That is not a bad place for them to be. Iran's volatile internal politics -- and the strategic changes created by U.S. troops camping on Iran's borders and new international pressure on Tehran to give up its nuclear weapons program -- make planning ahead and staying flexible prudent.

There is no doubt about Bush's assessment of the nature of the ayatollahs' regime. His "axis of evil" designation in January 2002 made that clear. But he has noticeably failed to take up the suggestions of some U.S. hawks that the ayatollahs are about to fall and need only a little push, or that Iran should automatically be "next" on a preemption list.

Bush went out of his way in his last news conference to endorse the recent diplomatic initiative by France, Germany and Britain that led to Iranian agreement to accept more intrusive inspections and to halt reprocessing of fissionable material usable for bombs. That diplomatic high road is not the path a president looking for a chance to bash the ayatollahs militarily would take.

As it has with North Korea, the administration has "multilateralized" the drive to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. And behind the scenes, the United States has exerted heavy pressure on Pakistan to halt its clandestine nuclear cooperation with Iran and, with less success, tried to halt Russia's scheduled nuclear fuel shipments to Iran.

There is a refreshing lack of certainty at senior levels of this often-absolutist administration about Iran. Rice is said to have recently scrawled a plaintive query on a memo to an associate asking why American policymakers have had such a consistent record of guessing wrong on Iran.

Good question. Iran has been in constant ferment for a half-century. Movement toward a more open or secular society is constantly checked by the ayatollahs, only to resume again. One of the world's most ancient nations is infuriatingly postmodern and enigmatic in its politics.

But now that Rice is spearheading the president's most ambitious foreign policy initiative -- the political transformation of the greater Middle East and, indirectly, the Muslim world -- Iran cannot for long be left as a blank to be filled in later. Events, especially in Iraq, are dragging the Persians and the Americans toward either new accommodation or bitter and dangerous conflict.

Geography and religion give Iran inordinate interest in and influence over Iraq, which Tehran has chosen to exercise quietly and slowly since the coalition invasion. Bush's earlier threatening words toward Iran and his bold action in Iraq have shaped a new strategic landscape that the ayatollahs also approach warily.

Instead of urging their co-religionists in Iraq's Shiite majority to oppose the occupation and support the insurgency, the Iranians have kept a low profile. "They are building up their presence and their influence in low-key ways. They play for the future. They want us to fail in Iraq. But they want us to fail slowly," says one senior U.S. official.

Iraq's appointed leaders have been careful to keep Iran informed and indirectly engaged in the nascent political process that is underway in their occupied country. Their actions suggest that a liberated and stable Iraq could serve as a bridge between Washington and Tehran.

Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, recently visited Tehran and had a widely publicized meeting with President Mohammad Khatami. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is a frequent visitor to Iran. The current president of Iraq's Governing Council, Abdul Aziz Hakim, is a Shiite cleric who is close to the senior hard-liners in the Iranian regime.

So it did not go unnoticed in Washington last week when Hakim and Talabani went to Paris and were effusively welcomed by Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. Iran is the only available counterweight in the greater Middle East if France and Russia decide to challenge the now-dominant American position in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran could be a bridge of a different kind for them if the current Bush effort to mend fences in Paris and Moscow falls short.

American success -- or American failure -- in Iraq leads inevitably to a greatly changed U.S. relationship with Iran. It is time to be asking, as Condi Rice is, how Washington can get it right this time.

http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_4131.shtml
3 posted on 12/21/2003 12:22:48 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
MORE THAN 8.000 ALREADY REGISTERED FOR THE COMING ELECTIONS

TEHRAN, 20 Dec 20 (IPS)

With one week to the end of registration of candidates to the next Iranian Majles, or Parliament more than 8,000 people have signed up for candidacy to the 290-seat single House, the official news agency IRNA reported Saturday.

The elections for the seventh Majles under the Islamic Republic are scheduled for 20 February 2004, a race that many observers of Iranian political scene predicts a defeat of the reformist camp and a low turn out by the electorate, mostly the young voters, staunchly opposed to the ruling conservatives and disillusioned with the reformists who, under the leadership of the lamed President Mohammad Khatami, have failed to carry out their promised political, economic and social reforms.

Analysts say though the Islamic Republic takes pride at organising elections for the Majles or the president regularly and the results are less fraudulent than in most third world nations, but they can in anyway be considered free and fair, as all candidates to any election must be approved by the conservatives-controlled Council of the Guardians that has the right to reject any candidate without providing open explanation.

President Mohammad Khatami presented a bill to the Majles last year aimed at curbing the Guardians’ exclusive and much denounced right to veto candidates.

Approved by the majority of lawmakers, the Bill was however rejected by the Guardians, who also refused another bill aimed at enhancing the powers of the president.

Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace also called for reform in the present electoral system, saying that Iranians wants "free and fair elections giving them the right to chose their candidates directly".

Quoting un-named source close to the Interior Ministry’s Elections Headquarters, IRNA said out of the 8.000 candidates, 2090 listed to run for the greater Tehran constituency that represents 42 seats at the Majles, now dominated by the reformists.

In the Capital alone, 1753 people have registered.

There are also 328 women and 21 others representing religious minorities officially recognised by the Constitution, namely the Zoroastrians, Jews, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Armenians, with two of them women, the Agency said, adding that the list of the candidates was not complete.

The contenders had a weeklong deadline until Friday to register their names for the parliamentary race.

ENDS IRAN ELECTION REGISTRATION 201203

http://www.iran-press-service.com/articles_2003/Dec-2003/iran_election_registration_201203.htm
4 posted on 12/21/2003 12:29:17 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

and

Many even want the US to over throw their government.

Sounds like what we were told about the Iraqis in addition to the notion that they would all be dancing in the streets. Even with Saddam sitting in a jail, there are still a lot of them that want to blow us up.

I'd prefer the Iranians overthrow their own government. Last time the US was involved in Iranian internal affairs (when it was a secular country and Iranians enjoyed far more freedoms than today), they took American hostages and we got to listen to them here at home in our streets and campuses shouting "death to America" until our government finally sent them packing. I know because I had to walk past them wearing their hoods shouting how much they hated my country and countrymen and wanted us all dead. I didn't understand why I had to be subjected daily to that kind of hatred and threats from a group of non-citizens in my own home (I worked on a major university campus). I suspect there are a lot of Americans that also still remember those "death to USA" marches.

My guess is the Iranians will NOT overthrow their government.

5 posted on 12/21/2003 2:59:37 AM PST by hotpotato
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To: DoctorZIn
Bremer: Iran's People's Mujahedeen Will Not be Sent Home

December 21, 2003
AFP
The Peninsula

BAGHDAD -- Members of the Iranian opposition People's Mujahedeen being held in Iraq will not be sent home, but to three other countries, US civil administrator Paul Bremer has said.

"We want to involve the UN High Commission for Refugees in settling the Mujahedeen in three countries," Bremer was quoted on Arabic-language Iraqi television overnight, without saying what countries.

Bremer said the Iraqis would also be involved in the decision on where to send the Mujahedeen. "We are working in cooperation with the Governing Council to determine how to organise their departure and where to send them," he said.

http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=World_News&subsection=Gulf%2C+Middle+East+%26+Africa&month=December2003&file=World_News200312218948.xml
9 posted on 12/21/2003 9:00:59 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Nuclear Program in Iran Tied to Pakistan

December 21, 2003
The Washington Post
Joby Warrick

VIENNA -- Evidence discovered in a probe of Iran's secret nuclear program points overwhelmingly to Pakistan as the source of crucial technology that put Iran on a fast track toward becoming a nuclear weapons power, according to U.S. and European officials familiar with the investigation.

The serious nature of the discoveries prompted a decision by Pakistan two weeks ago to detain three of its top nuclear scientists for several days of questioning, with U.S. intelligence experts allowed to assist, the officials said. The scientists have not been charged with any crime, and Pakistan continues to insist that it never wittingly provided nuclear assistance to Iran or anyone else.

Documents provided by Iran to U.N. nuclear inspectors since early November have exposed the outlines of a vast, secret procurement network that successfully acquired thousands of sensitive parts and tools from numerous countries over a 17-year period. While Iran has not directly identified Pakistan as a supplier, Pakistani individuals and companies are strongly implicated as sources of key blueprints, technical guidance and equipment for a pilot uranium-enrichment plant that was first exposed by Iranian dissidents 18 months ago, government officials and independent weapons experts said.

While American presidents since Ronald Reagan worried that Iran might seek nuclear weapons, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies were unable to halt Iran's most significant nuclear acquisitions, or even to spot a major nuclear facility under construction until it was essentially completed.

Although the alleged transfers occurred years ago, suggestions of Pakistani aid to Iran's nuclear program have further complicated the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, a key ally in the war against terrorism.

In documents and interviews with investigators of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iranian officials have offered detailed accounts of how they obtained sensitive equipment from European, Asian and North American companies. Much of the equipment was routed through a transshipment hub in the Persian Gulf port city of Dubai to conceal the actual destination, according to officials familiar with Iran's disclosures.

The disclosures offer a striking illustration of the difficulties faced by U.S. officials in trying to detect and interdict shipments of contraband useful in making weapons of mass destruction. Iran appears to have obtained the equipment by exploiting a gray zone of porous borders, middlemen, front companies and weak law enforcement where the components of such weapons are bought and sold.

Iran's pilot facility, which is now functional, and a much larger uranium-enrichment plant under construction next door are designed to produce enough fissile material to make at least two dozen nuclear bombs each year.

China and Russia also made significant contributions to the Iranian program in the past, IAEA documents show. Both countries were the focus of a long-running U.S. campaign to cut off nuclear assistance to Iran.

In a new finding, sophisticated laboratory tests by the IAEA detected traces of Soviet-made highly enriched uranium at Iran's Kalaye nuclear facility, a former testing center for uranium-enrichment equipment, knowledgeable officials said. Several distinct types of enriched uranium have been found at the site, the officials added. Although there are other possible explanations, the finding could indicate that Iran obtained some fissile material from a former Soviet state to use in testing its equipment, the officials said.

By far the most valuable assistance to Iran came from still-unnamed individuals who provided top-secret designs and key components for uranium-processing machines known as gas centrifuges, the officials said.

Centrifuges are technologically complex machines that spin at supersonic speeds to extract the small amounts of fissile material present in natural uranium. Uranium that has been enriched at lower levels is typically used as fuel in nuclear power plants, while a more concentrated product known as highly enriched uranium is used in nuclear submarines, research reactors and nuclear weapons.

The blueprints, which the IAEA has reviewed, depict a type of centrifuge that is nearly identical to a machine used by Pakistan in the early years of its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials and weapons experts familiar with the designs. The plans and components, which were acquired over several installments from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, allowed Iran to leapfrog over several major technological hurdles to make its own enriched uranium, a necessary ingredient in commercial nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons.

"Acquiring the drawings and a few components was a tremendous boost to Iran's centrifuge efforts," said David Albright, a former IAEA inspector in Iraq and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington research group that tracked Iran's nuclear procurements for more than a decade. "The possession of detailed designs could allow Iran to skip many difficult research steps."

Surprising Disclosures

It is unclear exactly why the United States and its allies failed to detect and halt Iran's most significant nuclear acquisitions.

One possible reason, according to some former government officials and outside experts, is that U.S. agencies were looking in the wrong place. American administrations since the late 1980s viewed the Soviet Union and then Russia as the most likely source of nuclear aid to Iran, launching intensive efforts to persuade Moscow to sever or scale back technological links to the Islamic republic.

"For too long we were running our Iran policy through Moscow," said Jon Wolfsthal, a nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "We saw Russia as Iran's main source of technology, and if shut off, the flow to Iran's program would freeze in its tracks. That was shortsighted."

Former top U.S. proliferation officials contend that the attention paid to Russia was hardly misplaced. The United States foiled several efforts by Iran to obtain sensitive technology from Russia in the 1990s. But some officials acknowledged that they were stunned to learn of the progress Iran had made with the help of partners closer to home.

"While the U.S. was heavily focused on Russian assistance, the Iranians were getting help elsewhere on the centrifuge program and making major headway -- and the U.S. was essentially in the dark on that," said Robert Einhorn, the State Department's former assistant secretary for nonproliferation. "It took information from an Iranian dissident group to expose how far Iran had gotten."

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, insisting that it is only exercising its right to develop a civilian nuclear power industry, including its own indigenous supply of nuclear fuel. Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear power plant in the port city of Bushehr that both countries insist is a civilian nuclear project.

Last month, in the face of mounting international pressure, Iran's leaders agreed to open the country's nuclear facilities to surprise inspections and to turn over hundreds of pages of documents to the IAEA. The agency has not commented publicly on the contents of the documents, but several U.S. officials and diplomatic sources familiar with Iran's disclosures agreed to discuss them on the condition they not be identified by name. Some of the revelations about Iran's nuclear procurement program also are described in a draft of a new report by Albright's research group. A copy of the draft study was made available to The Washington Post.

The disclosures do not provide a definitive answer to the question of whether Iran was actively seeking to build nuclear weapons. But they do show that Iran was intent on keeping its nuclear acquisitions secret, and that it sought a range of technologies far beyond those typically found in countries with commercial nuclear power programs.

An IAEA report made public in November revealed that Iran had secretly manufactured small amounts of uranium and plutonium, a violation of Iran's agreements under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That report also documented Iran's efforts to enrich uranium using a variety of methods, including gas centrifuges and lasers. Iran's biggest success, the construction of a pilot gas centrifuge plant for enriching uranium, was a well-guarded secret until it was exposed last August by the National Council for Resistance in Iran, an umbrella group representing opponents of Iran's Islamic government.

When IAEA inspectors discovered 160 working centrifuges during their first visit to the Natanz plant in February, Iran initially claimed to have designed and built them alone. But Iran's story began to unravel when the inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium at Natanz and at a second, now-defunct pilot plant in Kalaye.

Iran, which insists it has never made highly enriched uranium, admitted receiving substantial foreign help, including numerous secondhand centrifuge components that were imported from an unnamed country.

Officially, Iran's leaders maintain that they bought the components on the black market, and they still don't know where the parts came from. But to the inspectors and independent experts on centrifuge design, the machines offer abundant clues.

The draft report by Albright's group, based on experts familiar with the Iranian machine, describes it as a modified version of a centrifuge built decades ago by Urenco, a consortium of the British, Dutch and German governments. The machine is about six feet high and is made of aluminum and a special type of high-strength steel. The design is one of several known to have been stolen in the 1970s by a Pakistani nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who later became known as the father of the Pakistani bomb.

Pakistan modified the Urenco design and manufactured a number of the machines before abandoning the centrifuge for a sturdier model, said Albright, co-author of the study. The blueprints obtained by Iran show "distinctive" modifications similar to the ones made by Pakistan, Albright said.

Traces of highly enriched uranium on centrifuge components in Iran indicated they had been used before. Most of the contaminants are of a type of highly enriched uranium believed to be "consistent with material produced in Pakistan," Albright said.

The evidence collectively supports a view widely held among nuclear experts and nonproliferation officials that Iran obtained castoff parts and designs from a centrifuge that was no longer needed by Pakistan, said Gary Samore, a former adviser on nonproliferation on the Clinton administration's National Security Council.

"The particular machine that Iran is using is not the mainstay of the Pakistani program," said Samore, now the director of studies at the Institute for International Strategic Studies in London. "Pakistan had these used aluminum-rotor machines that it no longer needed. The most plausible explanation for what happened is that Pakistan sold its surplus centrifuges, which have now turned up in Iran."

Much of Iran's basic nuclear infrastructure -- from research reactors to lasers used to manipulate uranium atoms -- was supplied by U.S. companies before Islamic revolutionaries deposed the shah in 1979. U.S. officials later discovered that the shah, a staunch U.S. ally, was conducting his own secret nuclear weapons research before he was overthrown.

Iran's revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, canceled the shah's contracts with a German company to build nuclear power reactors in Bushehr. But by 1985, during a war with Iraq, Iran reversed course, reopened its nuclear labs and began exploring its options for making enriched uranium and plutonium. It also began looking for new business partners to complete the Bushehr reactor, which had remained frozen since 1979.

Iran's explanation -- that it was only interested in developing nuclear power for electricity -- was greeted with skepticism then and now because Iran sits atop vast reserves of oil and natural gas.

A Big Break

U.S. intelligence officials began detecting attempts by Iran to acquire nuclear-related technology beginning in the mid-1980s. Much of the activity, as U.S. officials understood it at the time, involved Iranian efforts to acquire sensitive technology through legitimate deals with Russian, Chinese and East European companies. The United States sought to use a variety of diplomatic and commercial incentives and punishments to persuade Iran's potential trade partners to abandon projects, ranging from a proposed centrifuge plant to a Russian agreement to complete Iran's nuclear reactors in Bushehr.

"We were very concerned about Russian support of Iran's nuclear activity," said Robert Gallucci, a special envoy on nonproliferation during the Clinton administration and now dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. "At the same time, we were hearing about other activities involving the entire nuclear fuel cycle."

Iran's first big break came in 1987, when it obtained the complete set of designs and parts for gas centrifuges. Around the same time, Iran began receiving technical guidance from foreign experts who steered the country toward some of the same suppliers that had assisted Pakistan's nuclear program years earlier, said Albright, citing information obtained in the IAEA investigation.

"Armed with component specifications and drawings, Iran would be able to design and implement a strategy to develop a reliable centrifuge and create a manufacturing infrastructure to make thousands of centrifuges," Albright wrote in the report. "It would be able to find companies to make centrifuge components, often unwittingly."

Beginning around 1993, Iran launched a broader effort to acquire parts for hundreds of centrifuges, as well as machines and tools to create its own manufacturing center. According to officials familiar with Iran's disclosures to the IAEA, the effort relied on a small group of middlemen from European and Middle Eastern countries who put together orders, made purchases and arranged the shipping.

Iran provided names of a handful of agents to the IAEA, which has since sought to locate and interview them. According to Iran, the middlemen secured a long list of sensitive items, ranging from electronic beam welders and vacuum pumps to shipments of high-strength aluminum and steel that became the raw products for centrifuges.

Some of the shipments were intercepted by U.S. and European intelligence agencies and customs officials. But by the late 1990s, Iran had acquired all the parts it needed for a pilot centrifuge and was preparing to cross another important threshold.

"Iran appears to have secretly achieved self-sufficiency in centrifuge manufacturing," Albright said.

Questions Linger

In early December, there were reports in Pakistan about the disappearance of nuclear scientist Farooq Mohammed, a colleague of Kahn's in the creation of Pakistan's atomic bomb.

First thought to be missing, government officials later confirmed he had been detained by Pakistani security officials for extended questioning. Two subordinates were also picked up, according to a Western official knowledgeable about the incident.

A CIA spokesman denied that any Americans were involved in rounding up the scientists, but other officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the U.S. government was aware of the incident and had been allowed to participate in the questioning. The episode followed what one official described as high-level requests by both the IAEA and the U.S. government for Islamabad to respond to new evidence suggesting that Pakistan's nuclear secrets had been passed to Iran.

Some experts see the detention of the scientists as a hopeful sign, suggesting that Pakistan is preparing to increase its cooperation with IAEA investigators.

"The Pakistanis know the Iranians have fingered them," said Samore, the former adviser on nonproliferation for the Clinton administration. "They know the IAEA is asking questions. This could be the beginning of what Richard Nixon used to call a 'limited hangout' operation."

But other experts see only more obstacles in an already difficult quest for the truth. Doubts are already being voiced regarding whether the IAEA, or anyone, will be able provide definitive answers about Iran's nuclear history and future intentions, said Henry D. Sokolski, a former Defense Department adviser on nonproliferation.

"What is most worrying is not what the Iranians did in the past, but, rather, what they're going to do," said Sokolski, who now directs the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington research organization. "What does our past experience with Iran tell us about the prospects of catching them in a lie in the future?"

http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=12&d=21&a=5
10 posted on 12/21/2003 9:03:35 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Slams US Decision to Send Mujahedeen to Third Countries

December 21, 2003
AFP
Khaleej Times

TEHERAN - Iran on Sunday slammed the United States’ decision to transfer members of the armed opposition People’s Mujahedeen in its custody in Iraq to third countries and demanded that they be repatriated immediately.

“The statements made by (the US civil administrator in Iraq) Paul Bremer are in contradiction with various resolutions and declarations, especially those of the European Union which has branded this group a terrorist organization,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

“It is unacceptable that the United States transfer these people to other countries.”

Bremer on Friday announced that some 3,800 members of the People’s Mujahedeen who have been in US custody northeast of Baghdad since the six-week spring invasion would not be sent home as Iran demands, but to third countries.

Bremer said Iraqis would be involved in deciding where to send the Iranian rebels.

The US-installed interim Governing Council announced on December 9 that it intended to deport the People’s Mujahedeen.

Two days later, council member Nurredin Dara suggested sending them back to Iran, a move the armed opposition group said would amount to a war crime.

The group mounted attacks inside Iran from neighbouring Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in power, but surrendered to the US-led coalition in May.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2003/December/middleeast_December386.xml&section=middleeast&col=
11 posted on 12/21/2003 9:04:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Filled with Fear and Frankness

December 21, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Robert Collier

Tehran -- In late October, as the Iranian government was plunging into a high- stakes dispute over allegations that its nuclear energy program covered up a secret weapons program, I wangled a much-coveted press visa, which U.S. correspondents rarely receive.

Why me? Tehran officials must want to do some public-relations spinning with California in a bid to undercut the Washington hard line against Iran, I assumed.

But PR, I quickly found out, was the furthest thing from the minds of the Iranian government's bureaucracy.

During my four-week stay in Iran, I received no answer to my repeated requests for interviews with government officials. Not even the Foreign Minstry spokesman would deign to speak with me. Despite being next on the regime-change list for some Washington conservatives, Iran seems curiously uninterested in explaining its case to the media.

The reformist government of President Mohammed Khatami, which won elections in 1997 and 2001 amid high hopes that he would reduce the hard-line ayatollahs' grip on everyday life, seems increasingly paralyzed and resigned to its imminent demise.

"Nobody wants to talk, especially to an American journalist, because nobody knows what the real policy is, and they're afraid they'll get it wrong and will get into big trouble for it," said one reformist member of Parliament in a private conversation.

On the streets, however, there's a peculiar mix of fear and extreme frankness and almost no consensus. In scores of interviews conducted at random in Tehran, Qom, Esfahan, Yazd and the Caspian Sea coast, I found almost as many opinions as people interviewed.

Radical reformers, who advocate an end to religious rule and want cultural liberalism, talk in language eerily reminiscent of leftist revolutionaries whom I met when I was covering Central America's civil wars in the 1980s -- except that these Iranians are militantly pro-American.

Some look forward with glee to legislative elections scheduled for February, when the more moderate Khatami faction is widely expected to lose its parliamentary majority to the religious conservatives allied with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"I hope the reformers lose, because only then will people get out of their heads the ridiculous hope that incremental change is going to get them anywhere," said one opposition activist in Tehran. "The only way is to force a confrontation, like in the protests last June, except for people not to be able to back down."

The student-led protests in June were crushed by the police and conservative vigilante groups after several days of clashes, with hundreds of protesters arrested and scores injured.

On the other extreme are the religious conservatives, who have been showing a pragmatic image in recent months, yet continue to espouse hard-line Muslim conduct that is rejected by most Iranians.

In the downtown Tehran bazaar, long a bastion of support for the religious fundamentalists, conservatives whip themselves into a fervor with lurid stories, perhaps apocryphal, of the moral depravity of the reformists.

Farhad Ranjbar, a cooking ware merchant in the Tehran bazaar, explained the inevitable chaos that leads from too much reform, as he saw during a recent bus trip to Turkey. "As soon as we crossed the border into Turkey, all women took off their hejab (veil) and even their shirts and were dancing in the aisles singing." His voice shook. "Just their, you know, their underthings. It was horrible. It made me so furious."

Sometimes, the stories are so far-fetched it's hard to know what to believe. A foreigner can hardly get through any conversation about current events without being fed a somewhat tortured worldview -- for example, how the United States and Britain are conspiring simultaneously with the ayatollahs, Israel and Iraq's Saddam Hussein to prevent democracy and maintain religious rule in Iran.

"I've never served in a place with more conspiracy theories or more wacky ones," a Western diplomat in Tehran told me. "Many Iranians certainly are free thinkers, though that isn't always a good thing."

What is definitely not a good thing is the Kamikaze craziness of Iranian drivers. Iran has one of the world's highest rates of traffic-related fatalities, and it's easy to see why. At nearly every intersection, you're likely to find swarms of motorcyclists driving in every direction, driving the wrong way down streets, flooding through red lights with not a care or caution in the world.

But Iran is also a proud, refined country with a high Persian culture dating back 7,000 years. The few Western tourists who visit the country -- mostly groups of middle-aged and elderly Europeans -- find gracious people, relatively sophisticated and worldly wise, coexisting with an almost medieval social conservatism, in which women cannot show a bare ankle or shake a man's hand in public.

There is also a strong sense of grandeur, past and present. For example, anyone who travels to the city of Esfahan, 400 miles southwest of Tehran, will be awed by the Islamic architecture, the palaces and even the graceful riverfront promenade.

The best tourist site, however, is open to the public only a few weeks per year, around the holy month of Ramadan. The former U.S. Embassy in downtown Tehran remains just as it was left after the hostage crisis in 1979- 80, when students held American diplomats for 444 days.

There are predictably dreary exhibits about the evils of U.S. imperialism, but the former CIA section is worth the trip. Dozens of 1970s-vintage machines for eavesdropping, encrypting and transmitting rest there. There are also giant shredding machines with what appears to be bins full of original embassy and CIA documents, open for any visitor to grab a handful as souvenirs.

The most subversive influence on the local population is not the Great Satan, however, but right next door, in Dubai, the ultra-prosperous emirate just a short plane flight away from Tehran and other major Iranian cities where rich Iranians go to consort with Bulgarian and Iranian ladies of the night.

The skyscrapers and the glittery airport -- jam-packed all night with travelers and chic boutiques -- are a symbol of what Iran could become (for better or worse) if and when the ayatollahs relinquish power. It could be glorious, perhaps excessive, but a thrill to revisit.

Robert Collier at rcollier@sfchronicle.com

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/12/21/INGH63PDL31.DTL
12 posted on 12/21/2003 9:05:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
GOLDEN OLDIE: AMIR TAHERI INTERVIEWS KADDAFI'S SON

by Amir Taheri
National Review Online
December 21, 2003

With his head shaven in the manner of last year's World Cup winners, and his designer clothes, Seyf al-Islam Kaddafi at first glance looks like just another celebrity. But when he begins to talk at his luxury-hotel suite in London it soon becomes clear that the young Kaddafi — he was 30 last June — wants to be regarded as a man with a mission.

The question is: What mission?

Critics of his father, Libya's Colonel Muammar Kaddafi, charge that Seyf al-Islam has been dispatched on a tour of Western capitals to soften the image of one of the most-controversial regimes in the Arab world. Seyf al-Islam — whose name means "The Sword of Islam" — insists that he has no mission except "countering the misinformation campaign of which my country has been a victim over the years."

Reports in the Arab media claim that Colonel Kaddafi may be preparing Seyf al-Islam as his political heir. This would be in line with a recent trend in the Arab world, which began when Bechar al-Assad succeeded his father as president of Syria two years ago. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is also preparing his son Gamal as a possible successor, while Iraq's President Saddam Hussein has hinted that his second son Qussay may emerge as his political heir. Ahmad, a son of Yemen's President Ali Abdallah Saleh, for his part, has already began preparing for succession by becoming leader of the ruling party.

In an exclusive interview recently Seyf al-Islam Kaddafi responded to questions from Amir Taheri. Here are excerpts:

Amir Taheri: Could we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself. Where did you study and what is your position now?

Seyf al-Islam Kaddafi: I did part of my schooling in Switzerland before the Swiss authorities, no doubt under pressure from the United States, decided not to renew my visa. I continued in Austria where I studied economics and engineering. I now plan to continue my studies here in London, if possible. I am a private Libyan citizen with no official position. Nevertheless I take a keen interest in all issues that affect my people. It is on that account that, when given an opportunity, I have spoken out on various issues.

Taheri: You seem to be a rather opulent young man. Do you get your resources from the Libyan government or is it your father who pays?

Kaddafi: I have no connection with the Libyan government and there is, thus, no reason why they should pay me. I had initial help from my father. In recent years, however, I have developed business interests that permit me to be independent.

Taheri: Recently you have adopted a high profile, traveling to various European capitals, testifying at a court trial in London where you won a libel case, and talking to the media. There are also reports that you have met a number of Western officials. What are the reasons behind this burst of activity?

Kaddafi: My principal aim is to clear the air and offer a more realistic picture of my country to the Western public. Libya has been demonized for years. In my own case a British daily published an article in which I was accused of having helped distribute counterfeit money in Iran. And yet I was not granted a visa to come to London and defend my honor. It was only recently that the British government decided to lift its visa ban so that I could come to London. As you know, I won the case and the daily apologized and paid compensation. I believe that many of the slanderous charges made against Libya in general and my father in particular could also be refuted on the basis of facts.

Taheri: Let us focus on one charge. A senior former intelligence official from your country has been found guilty of organizing the destruction of the Pan American jetliner which led to the death of 291 people over a decade ago.

Kaddafi: The trial to which you refer was far from fair and proper. I believe that the man who was sentenced to life imprisonment is innocent. This is also the belief of many non-Libyan experts, lawyers, and media people. (Former South African President) Nelson Mandela himself recently went to Scotland to visit the prisoner, and later called for the case to be reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights. Why would Mandela do such a thing if he did not have at least some doubt that the man had been wrongly sentenced? The evidence used at the court was of the flimsiest kind possible and some of the witnesses were clearly working for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Taheri: And yet the Libyan government agreed to hand over the two suspects…

Kaddafi: We agreed in good faith and on the basis of mediation by Mandela. We wanted the sanctions that had made life difficult for our people to be lifted so that we can come out and offer a true image of our nation.

Taheri: But the Libyan government has offered to pay $2 billion in compensation to the families of the victims. Is that not an implicit admission of guilt?

Kaddafi: The offer to which you refer has not come from the government. It has been made by a number of Libyan businessmen who want an end to sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the United States. Under the initial deal brokered by Mandela, all sanctions were to be lifted once Libya had handed over the two suspects. That has not happened. The U.N. and the U.S. have reneged on their promises. In any case the offer of compensation is not unconditional. The objective to have the sanctions lifted as quickly as possible so as to avoid further hardship for innocent Libyans. It is also necessary that the U.S. stop including Libya in the list of nations sponsoring international terrorism.

Taheri: Should we believe that Libya was never involved in terrorism?

Kaddafi: We are not talking history. We are talking reality as it exists today. There is not a shred of evidence that Libya is involved in such activities now. In fact, Libya has offered full cooperation in the global war against terrorism. Don't forget that Libya, too, has been a victim of terrorist groups, some of which had their headquarters here in London along with other terrorist organizations from many different countries.

Taheri: In what ways is Libya cooperating in the war against terrorism?

Kaddafi: Part of the answer concerns confidential material that cannot be made public at present. But those familiar with the issue at close range know, and I believe appreciate, that Libya is sincere. Don't forget that this is a global war that must be fought by major powers. The real battlefield in this war is in the political arena. The United States needs to cast a close look at its foreign policy to eliminate areas where it is dragged into conflicts that generate terrorism. Countries like Libya cannot but assume a minor part. And let me insist that we are doing our part. We are involved in humanitarian efforts to alleviate the pain inflicted on the victims of terror in many countries. My charity organization helped finance the rescue of Western hostages held by the Abu-Sayyaf group in the Philippines. We are also involved in the repatriation of the families of the so-called "Arab Afghans" who had gone to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets but who were subsequently drawn into the al Qaeda and Taliban movements.

Taheri: How many families of "Arab Afghans" have been repatriated? Are the wives and children of Osama bin Laden among them?

Kaddafi: I cannot answer that question. To succeed in what is an exceptionally complex task, our work must remain discreet. All that I can say is that we are talking of hundreds of families that means thousands of women and children.

Taheri: Where are these families now?

Kaddafi: Many are still in Afghanistan, in a state of semi-clandestine existence. Some are in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan where the Islamabad authorities have little control. Some have gone into Iran, probably without the knowledge of the Tehran authorities. We are helping those who want to return to their original homeland. But I cannot give any details on that issue.

Taheri: Very well. You mentioned earlier that Libya had been a victim of terrorism. There are reports that a fundamentalist terrorist group is fighting your father's forces in several parts of Libya…

Kaddafi: These reports are exaggerated. There was some infiltration from the Sudan in the late 1990s. A few Libyans who had fought in Afghanistan also became involved in acts of violence after they returned home. The last incidents date back to 1999. At present we are faced with nothing but a small isolated group of just a few people in the Jabal Akhdhar (Green Mountain) region. For years they had depended on foreign backing, including funds raised in London. My firm belief is that the group in question will be neutralized soon.

Taheri: Let's change the subject. Is there any truth in reports that your father is grooming you to be his political successor?

Kaddafi: This is a strange question. To start with my father does not have any official position in the Libyan state. He is not a king or a president or a prime minister and thus does not have a job to transfer to anyone. He is the Guide of the Revolution; that means a man of ideas, a philosopher, and a leader who traces the broad philosophical outlines of our national endeavor. And that is something unique to him, something that cannot be transmitted to any heir by an act of will. In any case my father does not believe in hereditary rule. He led a revolution that ended hereditary monarchic rule in Libya. He did not do that only to negate his own fundamental beliefs a few decades later.

Taheri: But the idea of sons succeeding fathers in politics is not new. We already have President Bechar al-Assad in Syria or, in a different context, even George W. Bush in the United States…

Kaddafi: I think the two cases you mentioned have nothing in common. George W. Bush did not inherit his votes from his father and won the presidency in an acceptable, though controversial, election. But let me remind you again that my father does not hold any official post that he could transfer to me. He is just a guide, like the late Ayatollah Khomeini was in Iran…

Taheri: That is not a good example. Khomeini did have an official position within the Iranian government as the " Faqih al-Wali" (Jurisconsult) and received a salary from the treasury. In other words Khomeini was an employee of the Iranian state. But, if I understand you, Colonel Kaddafi, does not work for the Libyan government…

Kaddafi: That is right. This is one of the points that Mandela was able to hammer into the heads of the Americans and the British during the dispute over Lockerbie. They wanted to implicate the Libyan government and then my father as responsible for the Libyan government. Mandela persuaded them that my father is, in fact, a private citizen whose philosophical ideals guide the Libyan government.

Taheri: Mandela bought that?

Kaddafi: Yes. Mandela is a man of immense goodwill and intelligence.

Taheri: So how do things work in Libya, how are decisions made? How can your father, who has no position whatsoever, pick up the phone and tell any official to do anything?

Kaddafi: In Libya we have a system called the Jamahiriyah for which there is no adequate word in any of the Western languages. It didn't even exist in Arabic and was coined by my father to denote direct rule by the people. In this system, nobody orders anybody to do anything. Matters are discussed at all levels and decisions are made collectively. Of course, when my father expresses his views on any subject people listen because they have confidence in his wisdom.

Taheri: An original system…

Kaddafi: Yes, and one that might look bizarre to you. But the idea was to disperse power so much among the people that no one could seize it with a single blow. If all Arab state are so vulnerable to the seizure of power by the military it is partly because so much power is concentrated in so few hands. Everywhere in the Arab world, without exception, people are afraid of expressing their views because they have been persuaded that power belongs to the few who rule them. The Libyan system was designed to teach the people that power belongs to them and that, as a result, they must also assume responsibility.

Taheri: In that case why not have a constitution and hold elections?

Kaddafi: That is the logical direction of our political evolution. But don't forget that transforming a basically medieval and tribal society into a modern democratic one in just three decades is no easy task. We cannot achieve in Libya what older democracies have achieved in centuries. Promulgating a constitution is not a difficult exercise. In fact, all despotic regimes in the Arab world do have constitutions, written by those who intend to, and do, violate them systematically. Holding elections has also become a kind of fashion in the Arab world — largely to please the Americans. But everyone knows that these are fake elections in which people have the right to endorse the rulers, often by the notorious 99.9 percent majorities, but not the right to vote them out. These so-called elections are insults to the Arab people. We in Libya will not accept such an insult. We are honest with ourselves. We realize that moving from tribal monarchy to modern democracy needs more time. We need time to evolve our culture, reform our social habits, and reinterpret our traditions in the spirit of pluralism. We also need a solid middle class without which no democracy is possible. And that, in turn, requires the presence of a large number of educated citizens who can generate enquiry and political debate.

Taheri: It sounds like paradise postponed…

Kaddafi: Not at all. We already have a number of committees working on a new constitution with the help of local and foreign legal experts. We are aiming at a federal system partly inspired by the Swiss model. The country will be divided into 15 autonomous cantons in which decision-making will be as close to the people affected by any policy as possible. Many issues of direct impact on the lives of the citizens could be decided through local referendums. Once again the key idea is that of the Jamahiryiah that provides for the distribution of power among the people at all levels so as to avoid the risk of a small group seizing power either by force or through a single election. We want people's involvement in decision-making to be part of daily life not an exercise that is organized every few years only.

Taheri: Will the new constitution turn Libya into an Islamic state?

Kaddafi: No. Libya is a Muslim nation devoted to the teachings of the Koran already and shall always remain so. The new constitution, however, will regard the sharia as one of the sources of legislation — not the sole source.

Taheri: When will the new system be introduced?

Kaddafi: As soon as the necessary work is completed. I hope it will be soon.

Taheri: You said 30 years is not long enough to judge the performance of your father's regime with regard to political evolution in Libya. But, what about your country's economic performance? Since 1969, when your father seized power, Libya has earned some $250 billion from exporting oil. This is no mean sum for a native population of 1.8 million 30 years ago and around three million now. And yet there are Libyans begging in the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi and accepting menial jobs even in Malta. Your country does not have anything to export except oil and is forced to import everything, including most of its food. What happened? Were did the money go?

Kaddafi: The situation is not as bleak as you suggest. But I admit that our economic performance has been less than satisfactory. Our economy has suffered from too much state intervention inspired by the now outmoded socialist models of the 1960s and 1970s. It is also true that we export only oil. But don't forget that much of our territory consists of barren desert and where there is fertile land there is little or no rain. So, you cannot expect us to be a big producer of agricultural goods. Libya has embarked on a slow but important process of economic reform that has not received the attention it merits.

Taheri: What are the key features of that reform process?

Kaddafi: The key aim is to develop a robust private sector. Libya now allows foreign investment in many fields and under extremely attractive terms. We have also opened the tourist trade that is creating new job opportunities. Libya has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean and some of the sea's most beautiful beaches. And yet the number of tourists we attract is minimal compared to, say, Tunisia. The economic reform process also includes a massive privatization effort that will see most state-owned industries transferred to private companies. We know that in an era of global markets Libya cannot remain isolated in its corner and depend on oil revenues that will one day come to an end.

Taheri: Is there any popular support in Libya for your father's African ambitions? For example, has anyone taken up his suggestion to marry a black African and receive a government reward of $5,000? Will you yourself consider marrying a black African?

Kaddafi: The cash bonus is certainly attractive. But I won't marry a black African. This is a matter of personal taste. I don't know how many Libyans have taken up the offer. More seriously, I can assure you that a majority of Libyans support the African policy spelled out by my father because they realize that the cause of Arab unity got us nowhere, except into trouble.

Taheri: Wouldn't it be wiser to emphasize Libya's Mediterranean identity? After all, Libya was part of the Greco-Roman world for long before it became a Muslim-Arab nation. As for Africa, the nearest black Africans to Libya's population centers are some 1,000 miles away while Italy is just across the water. Did you know that the man who bought Plato and freed him from slavery was a businessman from Benghazi?

Kaddafi: I did not. But there is no doubt that Libya does have a Mediterranean identity. Our culture, our way of life, and our traditions have a great deal in common with those of other Mediterranean peoples, especially the Greeks and the Italians. We also have important economic relations with the Mediterranean nations. Italy buys almost 30 percent of our oil and is our biggest trading partner. We have made significant investments in Italy and other European countries in the past 20 years. We are trying to diversify relations with Spain, France, and, indeed, the whole of the European Union. But the fact is that from the mid-1980s onwards, the Europeans, pressed by Washington, shut all the doors in our face. I was thrown out of my school in Switzerland, although I was just a child at the time. The Africans, on the other hand, welcomed us with open arms. They helped us negotiate the Lockerbie compromise that preserved the dignity of the Libyan state. We cannot forget that.

Taheri: Libya still features on the list of states sponsoring international terrorism as established by Washington…

Kaddafi: Yes. And that is just another sign of American ill will towards Libya. We had very positive relations with the United States until Ronald Reagan became president and initiated cowboy diplomacy. Under President Jimmy Carter, Libya was one of the most attractive places for U.S. investments, especially in the energy sector. Carter's brother even worked for us as public-relations adviser. Carter was the best president the Americans have had in a long time. Today there is no justification for keeping Libya's name on the list of sponsors of terrorism.

Taheri: But Libya is engaged in acquiring weapons of mass destruction…

Kaddafi: Where is the evidence? It is not enough to claim that Libya is building an atomic bomb for that to be accepted as gospel truth. Terrorism today does not require sophisticated weapons. A dirty bomb is easy to make and anyone could carry it to the target. Does Libya have any interest in such schemes against the U.S. or, indeed, any other country? The answer is a definite no. Libya wants its relations with the U.S. to be restored to full normalcy and cooperation, as was the case in the past. At one point I even contemplated a year or two of studies at Harvard. But I am not sure they will let me.

Taheri: We may be on the eve of an American military action to topple Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Would you support such a move?

Kaddafi: No one can support such a move that is in direct violation of all international law. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Iraqi leaders have committed many mistakes. And in politics, just as in real life, people end up paying for their mistakes. You cannot expect us to pay for the mistakes of someone else. The Iraqi leaders never asked my father to guide them. So, they cannot expect him to defend their mistakes.

Taheri: Some Arabs say they resent what they regard as Washington's refusal to intervene in the Middle East conflict to promote a solution. What is your view?

Kaddafi: I think President George W. Bush is right not to be dragged into the conflict. The situation is simply too hot for anyone to make a contribution from the outside. President Clinton spent so much time trying to promote a peaceful settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and failed. In fact, both sides played him for their own purposes. He was so naive. George W. is not naïve, or at least his advisors are not. He knows that neither side really wants peace — at least not now. So, he prefers to wait. And that is wise.

Taheri: Do you approve of the Palestinians suicide bombers?

Kaddafi: It is not a question of approval or disapproval. They have a philosophy behind what they do. They are acting in accordance with the holy Koran and the law of retribution….

Taheri: But the Koran specifically forbids suicide and the killing of innocent civilians even in the context of war. And the law of retribution, which is common to Jews as well, was designed to limit punishment not to give license to individuals to do as they pleased…

Kaddafi: We obviously have different readings of the Koran. There are no civilians in Israel. All Israelis are either in the army or have been or shall one day be soldiers. Most of them came from Poland and Russia to usurp the land of Palestine. So they should not be surprised by the violent reaction of the Palestinians. Let me make it plain that I do not encourage suicide-bombers. I don't approve of hurting even a fly. All I am saying is that I understand their pain and sympathize with their cause. You cannot dismiss their cause just like that. Even the wife of Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has expressed sympathy for the suicide bombers who act out of desperation.

Taheri: Do you think that Israel has a right to exist?

Kaddafi: Yes. But not as a Zionist state. My father has proposed one state for both the Jews and the Palestinians, like South Africa where black and white have learned to live together. There are many states in which peoples of different faiths and races live together. There is no reason why the Jews and the Palestinians could not do the same.

Taheri: Who are your heroes?

Kaddafi: The only hero I can instantly acknowledge is my father. I am sure that history will recognize his wisdom and his achievements. I can also cite Gandhi. Yes, my father and Gandhi are my true heroes.

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http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/804
13 posted on 12/21/2003 12:52:22 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Unprecedented disqualification of trustees

Sunday, December 21, 2003 - ©2003 IranMania.com

TEHRAN, Dec 20, Iran Daily -- The Secretary of State Election Headquarters said the disqualification of 4,000 local trustees proposed by nationwide governors to the fundamentalist-dominated Guardians Council as members of election executive boards is unprecedented in the history of parliamentary elections since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

According to IRNA, Mohammad Ali Moshfeq added that among those 'disqualified' by the constitutional watchdog were disabled war veterans, former prisoners of war and senior government officials.

The Interior Ministry official also said that although the Election Law has not specifically stipulated that the Guardians Council-affiliated election supervisory boards are duty-bound to announce reasons behind disqualifications, the trustees can be disqualified only when they do not meet any of the nine criteria stressed by the law.

"The supervisors must take these nine criteria into account," he said, without elaborating further. Moshfeq went on to say that it is not the job of election supervisory boards to issue electoral statements--what he described as another unprecedented development in the run up to the parliamentary elections, slated for February 2004.

"This is against Article 99 of the constitution because the supervisory boards are only tasked with overseeing the process of elections and must not interfere with executive affairs," he said.

http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=20795&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
14 posted on 12/21/2003 1:54:07 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Hundreds Rounded up in Iraq

December 22, 2003
AFP
News.com.au

Several hundred people have been detained in Iraq in a sweep against insurgents helped by the capture of Saddam Hussein. The news came as, in the US, Time magazine named the US soldier as its Person of the Year.

General Richard Myers, head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the round-up of insurgents used intelligence obtained following the capture of Saddam Hussein.

He told Fox television that the US military believed some of the detainees were insurgency leaders.

The general said the raids followed the detention last weekend of the deposed Iraqi president.

"It gave us a better understanding of the structure of the resistance," Myers said in an interview. He said that between "a couple of hundred" and "several hundred" had been detained in the raids across Iraq.

"We think there is some leadership of the insurgency," he added.

Myers gave no other details of the raids, but commented: "The capture of Saddam Hussein and the intelligence we gleaned from him is a big step in the inevitable process of Iraq's march to democracy."

http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,8236168%255E2,00.html
16 posted on 12/21/2003 7:13:10 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
America Sets Sights on Disarming Remaining 'Rogue States'

December 21, 2003
Telegraph
David Harrison

Libya's decision to dismantle its secret weapons programme turns the spotlight on the remaining "rogue states" in Washington and London's sights.

North Korea is the biggest concern. Pyongyang's Communist regime responded to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by declaring that a nuclear weapon was the only way to keep the Americans at bay.

The country, led by the dictator Kim Jong-il, has a large conventional arsenal and has had a nuclear weapons programme since the late 1970s. The United States claims that North Korea also has advanced chemical and biological weapons and was trying to test-fire ballistic missiles in breach of its own moratorium announced last year.

The CIA says that Pyongyang has enough nuclear material to make a bomb but there is uncertainty as to whether it has the missiles required to deliver a nuclear warhead.

Washington is demanding inspections of North Korea's nuclear facilities and wants them to be dismantled. The administration wants to know the details of the nuclear programme, including where the uranium processing takes place and the location of any nuclear weapons.

The crisis erupted in October when officials in Washington said that North Korea had admitted running a secret nuclear weapons programme in breach of a 1994 agreement with President Bill Clinton's administration to freeze the programme in return for aid.

President George W Bush responded by suspending shipments of free oil, while North Korea expelled United Nations nuclear inspectors, pulled out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and restarted a mothballed nuclear reactor. Officials say that within months North Korea could have enough plutonium to make several nuclear bombs.

The US says that North Korea must agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme "completely, verifiably and irreversibly" before other matters can be discussed. North Korea says that without a serious change in US policy, it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself from the threat of an American attack.

Washington has tried to adopt a "softly, softly" diplomatic approach and has held six-nation talks in an attempt to curtail Pyongyang's nuclear arms programme. China hosted an initial round of inconclusive talks with the US, North and South Korea, Japan and Russia in August.

The US and its negotiating partners acknowledged this week that they were unable to arrange a second round of talks for this month. However, the Americans said on Friday that diplomatic efforts were still alive.

That hope took a blow yesterday when North Korea condemned the US decision to increase nuclear weapons research as "a grave challenge" to world peace and said that such moves compelled it to strengthen deterrent forces to cope with any attack.

The other "rogue state" causing concern is Iran. The US has accused Iran of using a civilian nuclear programme as a smokescreen for building weapons.

It is widely accepted that the government in Teheran is well on the way to developing its own nuclear bomb, but again Washington's approach has been to use diplomatic channels to persuade Iran to scrap its nuclear programme.

The approach bore some fruit last week when Iran signed a non-proliferation protocol that could lead to the dismantling of its weapons. Iran agreed to let the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conduct "snap" inspections across its territory.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former Iranian president, said that the protocol showed that his country's atomic ambitions were entirely peaceful, but Washington said that it would wait and see if Teheran fulfilled its promises.

The agreement comes almost 18 months after an exiled Iranian opposition group precipitated an international crisis by saying that the Iranian government was hiding nuclear facilities.

The allegations proved to be true. Iran had constructed nuclear facilities covertly, bought equipment on the black market, refused to allow free international inspections, and produced components that could be used only for nuclear bombs.

IAEA inspectors who visited a site at Deh-Zire earlier this year said that it could contain "the makings of Armageddon". The main complex is hidden deep inside the mountain in bombproof caves. It contains 160 gas centrifuges, which take uranium in its gaseous form and separate it into its radioactive parts. This process eventually produces highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient of nuclear bombs.

The inspectors also found parts for 1,000 additional centrifuges, and traces of highly enriched uranaium - much greater evidence of weapons of mass destruction than has been found in Iraq.

The third country that faces Washington's wrath is Syria, which the US accuses of developing chemical and biological weapons and of seeking to build a nuclear programme, though the evidence for this is much less clear.

After Libya's announcement on Friday, the pressure is on Pyongyang, Teheran and Damascus to follow suit or face the threat of a Gulf war-style military invasion.

http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/12/21/wgad321.xml
17 posted on 12/21/2003 7:22:14 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

19 posted on 12/22/2003 12:13:02 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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