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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 02/05/2004 12:05:01 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 02/05/2004 12:07:59 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran: A Theocracy, Intrinsically and Structurally Incapable of Reform

February 03, 2004
Asia Times
Nir Boms and Reza Bulorchi

Defying conventional wisdom, fresh voices of freedom appear to be coming from the Middle East as of late. Bashar Assad of Syria delivers his plans for democratization directly to the New York Times. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya delivers his to Newsweek as he claims to be an ally in the "war against terrorism" and invites the world to review his nuclear arsenal. Mohammad Khatami of Iran, the "moderate" president, threatens to resign due to an election crisis resulting from the Guardians Council's decision to disqualify more than 3,000 candidates from the ballot of his country's upcoming February 20 elections.

Among the disqualified candidates were 80 incumbent parliament deputies - including two deputy speakers. The banning of candidates, of course, is never a positive step. But the political crisis brewing in Iran must clearly show that voices of freedom are indeed making headway there - right?

Wrong. What you see is not always what you get when it comes to the Middle East, a region that has not yet began the process of democratic change. The cynical Syrian abuse of the crisis in Bam, Iran - the Syrians flew humanitarian aid into the earthquake-devastated city only to bring back weapons for terrorist groups - is just one example of these new cosmetics that are given to the same old faces. Nevertheless, knowing there are forces of reform in a country like Iran is welcome news in Washington, where there are many who would like to show that our policies in the Middle East are already producing results. There is only one problem: what Iranians have seen from Khatami and his faction over the past seven years has been nothing more than just the rhetoric of reform.

Iran's theocracy is based on a theory of government called the Velayat-e Faqih, or the absolute clerical rule. Velayat-e Faqih is at the core of the complex structure of the Iranian political system in which immense religious and political authority rests with the Supreme Leader, currently Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The interpretation of what is or is not an "Islamic principle" falls within the authority of the Supreme Leader and his hand-picked Guardians Council, the 12-member body tasked with vetting candidates for their "heart-felt" and "written" allegiance to the "Supreme Leader".

To be sure, there are factions within the Iranian political system, but the conflict is more of a power grab rather than a content debate over fundamental issues facing society, above all secular democracy. "I have principles for my path," said Khatami to parliament deputies, "and the most important principle for me is to conserve the system." Indeed, the so-called reformist faction has lost no opportunity to conserve the doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih.

In Iran, elections serve as a veneer to mask a rigid theocracy. The mullahs have perverted the pillars of Western democracies - elections and the parliamentary system - and ensured that those institutions would not pose a threat to their grip on power. This hybrid of theocratic soul and democratic gloss has created a paper democracy in Iran, giving ammunition to Tehran's advocates in Washington and Europe to justify "engagement" and "dialogue" with its clerics.

Khatami's "reformists", by the way, have some interesting associations. Among them, you will find Mullah Mohammed Mousavi-Khoeiniha, one of Khatami's close allies who was fully behind the US embassy takeover in Tehran in 1979. He was joined with the recently deceased Ayatollah Sadiq Khalkhali, the notorious hanging judge; Ali Akbar Mohtashami, the terror master, who directed the Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s and is believed to have coordinated the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barrack in Beirut; the US embassy hostage-takers; the architects of the Ministry of Intelligence and former commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. These and others were baptized as "reformers" following Khatami's presidency.

And this brings us to one of the biggest deceptions since Khatami's presidency in 1997: promise of rule of law and civil society. In a system erected on the anti-democratic doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih, this is a non-starter. This principle was built into the constitution to make it, in essence, reform-proof. In fact, the biggest beneficiary of Khatami's mantra of "rule of law" has been the rival faction that consistently invoked it, casting aside the president's faction by applying the existing election and press laws. In Iran, rule of law means rule of Velayat-e Faqih. In other words, Islamic Sharia law. The establishment never gave Khatami's faction any real say in domestic policies. His smile, his citing of Montesquieu and Alexis de Tocqueville, and his shallow discourses on lofty topics such as Islam and democracy and dialogue between civilizations served as a diplomatic facelift for Tehran.

The Iranian government is already besieged by domestic, social and political crises, as well as by international pressure for its sponsorship of terrorism and procurement of nuclear weapons. And despite the brave face they keep in public, Iran's leaders cannot escape the reality of what has happened in its neighboring countries to the east and the west.

The Guardians Council's move has made one thing abundantly clear: under the current political structure a metamorphosis of the Islamic Republic from within by the likes of Khatami is an impossible task and a "reformed" Velayat-e Faqih system is a contradiction in terms. Change - by way of genuine reform - can only come from inside the country, but outside this regime.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has recently talked about Iran's "encouraging" moves and "new attitude". This is misplaced praise for a regime that still thrives on domestic terror and the export of fundamentalism. We need to see the clerical regime for what it really is: a theocracy, intrinsically and structurally incapable of reform. After a quarter of a century of acquiescence, the US must help the Iranian people and opposition forces tear down the clerics' house of cards.

Reza Bulorchi is the executive director of the US Alliance for Democratic Iran. Nir Boms is a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
9 posted on 02/05/2004 7:36:31 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
ElBaradei Says A.Q.Khan Just Tip of Atomic Iceberg

February 05, 2004
ABC News

VIENNA -- The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Thursday the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb was not working alone in creating an illicit network to sell nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

"Dr (Abdul Qadeer) Khan was not working alone," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters, saying he had help from people in many different countries. "Dr Khan is the tip of an iceberg for us."

Khan publicly confessed to leaking nuclear secrets on Wednesday, but said that the Pakistan government and military knew nothing of his black market activities.

ElBaradei said he was not even sure Khan was the one in charge of a nuclear black market created to skirt sanctions and sell sensitive technology to countries subject to embargo.

"I don't know whether he (Khan) was the head. He was clearly an important part," he said.

"We're still in the process of investigating this whole network of supply, so we haven't really seen the complete picture. I think that's really our number one priority."

He said Pakistan was being very helpful in providing the agency with information needed to help crush the nuclear black market though ElBaradei said he wanted more information from Islamabad.
10 posted on 02/05/2004 7:37:32 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Surrender or Prison!

February 05, 2004
Iran va Jahan
Iran va Jahan Network

Our sources in Iran have informed us that there is a strong likelihood that some “reformers” may be arrested today.

According to the same source, in a compromise between Khamenei and Khatami, the Intelligence Ministry will review the disqualifications, and the Government has agreed to proceed with organizing the sham elections of Feb. 20th.

Should the reformers refuse this so called compromise, or the final list to be published by the Intelligence Ministry later today, they risk arrest and religious persecution as implied by Khamenei yesterday.
11 posted on 02/05/2004 7:38:20 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Min: Israel Holding 4 Iranians Abducted In 1982

February 05, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press

BEIRUT -- Israel is holding four Iranians kidnapped during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Thursday, an allegation Israel has long denied.

The Iranians, who included two diplomats, were abducted at a checkpoint manned by an Israeli-backed militia north of Beirut. The militia, the now-disbanded Lebanese Forces, says the four were killed, but their bodies have never been found.

Kharrazi spoke on his arrival in Lebanon for talks on the second phase of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the militant group Hezbollah. Under the plan, whose first phase saw the swap of more than 400 captives last week, Iran and Hezbollah are to look into the fate of missing Israeli airman Ron Arad and Israel is to consider releasing its longest-held Lebanese militant.

"Those (Iranians) were taken prisoner in an area controlled by a (Lebanese) group linked to Israel," Kharrazi told reporters at Beirut airport. "Much information confirms that those (Iranians) have been taken to Israel in order to secure the release of a number of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held in Israel."

Kharrazi did not specify whether he believed the Iranians to be alive. The minister was accompanied by the son of one of the missing Iranians, charge d'affaires Mohsen Musavi, and relatives of the others.

"We are certain and there is much evidence that they (four Iranians) are alive and they are held in Israel," the son, Raed Musavi, told The Associated Press. "Many say that the Israeli side wants to exchange them for Israeli airman Ron Arad."

Kharrazi promptly held talks with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and later with Foreign Minister Jean Obeid.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has said his group will form a committee to seek information on Arad and the four Iranians.

The Iranian Embassy in Beirut says the four Iranians -Musavi, fellow diplomat Ahmad Motovasselian, photographer Kazem Akhavan and embassy driver Mohammad Taqi Rastgar Moghaddam -were abducted at a Lebanese Forces checkpoint on July 4, 1982 while they were traveling to Beirut from the northern city of Tripoli.

Lebanese Forces was a Christian militia backed by Israel during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war. The Israeli army was occupying large tracts of Lebanon at the time of kidnapping.

Asked about Kharrazi's comment Thursday, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman David Saranga recalled Israel had repeatedly denied taking the Iranians and added: "nothing has changed in Israel's policy."
12 posted on 02/05/2004 7:39:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
More than Don Quixote

February 05, 2004
Intellectual Conservatives
Nooredin Abedian

Iran's Defense Minister, Ali Shamkhani, is seen by certain experts as the Islamic Republic's true Don Quixote. Brandishing his armada of short and medium ranged missiles, he never misses a chance for saber rattling against Israel, the United States, and the "world arrogant powers," poised, in his thoughts, to attack Iran from all sides to tear it to parts. The 49 year old Revolutionary Guards' commander-turned-Rear-Admiral is, however, a bit more than a mere big-mouthed version of Cervantes' lovely hero.

He was the ruthless Revolutionary Guards' commander of his native province, Khouzestan. Quickly, he became the second in command of the Guards' Corps, commanding the infamous counter intelligence and security apparatus of the feared army. At one time, he served as the minister of Revolutionary Guards, and then as the commander in chief of the mullahs' navy, before ending as the Minister of Defense. During his years in office, he has turned the Defense and Armed Forces Logistics into a veritable producer of deadly weapons.

Only three days ago, his visit to an electronics center in the southern city of Shiraz was broadcast on National Television, boasting a dozen new weapons-related guidance and avionics systems ranging from sophisticated night vision apparatus to state of the art radars. A few days back, he presented the "Raad" missile, a short ranged guided missile capable of being launched from fixed or floating launch pads with a 70 percent hit-probability for the first and 100 percent probability for the second missile, at a range of well over 350 kms. But he does not always stick to short ranged stuff. The 1300 to 1500 km Shahab3 missile, an Iranian version of the North Korean No-dong1, already distributed to combat units of the Revolutionary Guards and capable of carrying an 800 kg conventional or NBC warhead, and the long range Shahab4, a version of the North Korean SS4, whose existence is denied by the regime but is confirmed to be under secret development, are just two examples to cite. This latest version is designed to a range of more than 2000 kms and is capable of carrying a warhead weighing 1.5 tons. In the beginning of January, he even boasted that the Islamic Republic would put its own satellite into orbit with an Iranian-made launch system within 18 months.

Shamkhani is as able and cruel a politician as he is a weapons' guru. In an interview on January 14 with the Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh, he warned Israel not to think about carrying out its "menace" towards the Iranian nuclear centers, the same way it acted on the Iraqi Ozirak in 1981. He even threatened to use "new forms of military operations" against Israel if it dared move against those centers.

"If Israel attacks Iran, we will respond in a way no Israeli politician has ever dreamed about," he warned in another interview by the Qatari al-Jazeera television. When he was asked if he was referring to nuclear weapons, Shamkhani gave a negative reply, but added that "time would tell" the nature of Iran's response.

He very cleverly chose a Saudi paper, and a Qatari Television, to menace Israel. If Israel is too far an enemy to reckon with, there are always closer ones at hand. In fact, his flawless Arabic would have been much more clearly heard and understood in the Gulf capitals than in Tel Aviv. Those Gulf States, in the fundamentalist vision of the mullahs, are "ripe" fruits to fall one after the other, to the mercy of their version of Islam, were it not for the US presence in the Gulf.

As far as regional ambitions are concerned, Shamkhani seems more a man of deeds than one of words. In fact, many countries have their stockpiles of surface to surface missiles, but few have had as much field experience as has Iran, and against live targets too. During their 1980-1988 war against Saddam, the mullahs let the Kuwaitis have a taste of their then-primitive Chinese-built Silkworm missiles. They have not stopped their field practice in missile technology ever since. Exploiting the Iraqi isolation since 1991, they have launched every now and then a few missiles into their western neighbor's territory, citing the presence of opposition elements near their borders. In April 2001, they launched not less than 70 short and medium range missiles in a matter of hours against more than 7 targets along the 1200 km long Iran-Iraq border, aiming to eliminate the bases of the opposition Mujaheedin Khalq in Iraq. Although they were keen enough to tell the UN that they had acted in "self defense," they were however reluctant to hide the true message of those 70 Scud missiles: a few days later, Ali Larijani, Shamkhani's look-a-like who is in charge of the mullahs' Radio and Television, told a crowd gathered for Friday prayers in Tehran: "Those missiles were a warning to these small countries around the Gulf not to play around with the Lion's tail."

Nooredin Abedian is an Iranian engineer based in Germany, and a former lecturer at Tehran University. He writes from time to time on Iranian issues and politics. email:
13 posted on 02/05/2004 7:40:30 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Iran MPs Resign en Masse After Bar on Most Candidates Upheld

February 05, 2004

Some 130 pro-reform MPs announced they would go ahead with their resignations from the Iranian parliament and a boycott of February 20 polls after hardliners reinstated just 51 of some 2,500 candidates barred from standing.

Despite appeals for leniency from Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a conservative-controlled vetting body has reinstated just 51 candidates.

"According to the information available to us, they have reinstated 51 candidates, eight or nine of them sitting MPs," said Islamic Iran Participation Front leader Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother of reformist president Mohammad Khatami.

He said that as a result, the party's promised boycott of the February 20 polls would go ahead. "It's the worst possible outcome," the party leader said.

Earlier, the pro-reform student news agency ISNA had said reviews of 600 out of the 2,500 barred candidacies had resulted in the reinstatement of 51 candidates so far.

But Khatami said that "after studying more than 120 cases submitted by the intelligence ministry, the Guardians Council has declined to hear any more."

Around 80 sitting MPs and a raft of key reform leaders were among the 2,500 candidates blacklisted by the Guardians, in what many see as the worst crisis in the 25-year history of Iran's Islamic regime.
19 posted on 02/05/2004 9:31:46 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
This just in from a student in Iran...

"Doc, There are some things I have to tell you:
1- Streets are blocked by the Militias and they inspect cars, Vehicles and people on the roads.
2- TV is showing bowling for Columbine in order to insult the Americans.

Thought you might like to know these updates."

DoctorZin Note:

The Mullahs of Iran like Michael Moore. I am shocked.

32 posted on 02/05/2004 1:00:02 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

By Safa Haeri

PARIS 5 Feb. (IPS)

The Islamic republic was confirmed as the biggest looser after a syndicate of international lenders signed on Wednesday an important undertaking for securing 2.6 billion dollars (two billion euros) in loans to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, removing the last major obstacle to completion of the controversial project.

A syndicate of 15 commercial banks, led by ABN AMRO, Citibank and BNP Paribas agreed this month to lend the project at total of 936 million dollars. The rest of the credit is coming from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and from national export credit guarantee agencies.

"This is a big victory for Turkey and a bigger defeat for Iranian diplomacy that, because of its irrational opposition to the United States, lost all opportunities for the pipe line passing by Iran, a route that all experts and financers were unanimous in declaring it the cheapest and the fastest to achieve", Dr. Fereydoon Khavand, an international economist based in Paris told Iran press Service.

In fact, not only Iran has a network of pipelines in use, but also its oil loading facilities at the Persian Gulf makes it the best route for delivering oil to thirsty Asian and European markets.

Four of the BTC shareholders, BP, Statoil, Total and ConocoPhillips, are to provide the rest of the credit themselves. BP -- which is also the biggest shareholder in the BTC consortium -- is putting up the lion's share, with a contribution of 560 million dollars.

The 1,100-mile (1.700 kilometres) pipeline that would carry from 2005 one million barrels per day of oil from the Caspian Sea links the Azeri capital of Baku to the Turkish port of Ceyhan at the Mediterranean across neighbouring Georgia.

Representatives from the three countries and a group of creditors signed the final agreement to a project that is expected to reduce United States and Europe’s dependence on the Persian Gulf, mostly from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and greatest known energy resources ahead of Iraq and Iran.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish Energy Minister Mehmet Hilmi Guler, the Chairman of Georgia international Oil Company’s Georgi Chanturia and representatives of the BTC shareholders and creditors attended the ceremony.

The young Aliev hailed the pipeline, 15 per cent of the works already finished, as having a "stabilizing" effect on the region.

"With the Wednesday agreement bringing the necessary funds to the project that some oil experts had contested its economic viability, the Islamic Republic has lost all hopes even for future pipe lines, as the Consortium envisages a second network for transporting the Caspian region’s natural gas to the European markets", Mr. Khavand pointed out.

Asked if in the oil giants and financiers would look to the Iranian routes for future projects, Mr. Nasir Shirkhani, an Iranian oil journalist covering for the London-based "Upstream" newsletter responded by the negative, "only if a country like the United States support the idea". "Economically and reasonably, the BTC project should have passed by Iran. But being a political issue, the Americans had decided from the outset to back it, rejecting Iran", he told the Farsi language Radio Farda.

Not willing to accept the profound changes that happened in the Caucasus and the Caspian regions after the collapse of the Soviet Union and persisting on illusions, the Iranians lost billions of revenues just in the name of engaging the so-called "Great Satan", forgetting that Washington has become a major player in the area", he said, adding that without the firm backing of the United States, the project could not materialise.

At a signing ceremony in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, the project's backers said finalising the loan package proved the critics wrong and underlined that the pipeline was now a reality.

Green groups lobbied international lenders not to back it, arguing that it could endanger the fragile ecology of Georgia's Borjomi valley, which is the site of unique mineral water springs. But the Consortium said those fears were "unfounded".

The BTC consortium comprises BP, Azeri state oil firm SOCAR, Unocal, Statoil, TPAO, ENI, Total, Itochu, INPEX, ConocoPhillips and Amerada Hess. ENDS BTC SIGNED 5204
35 posted on 02/05/2004 6:10:03 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

TEHRAN, 5 Feb. (IPS)

Iranian reformist lawmakers on Thursday reiterated they would not take part in elections that they denounced as "unjust, illegal and unfair" and accused the Council of the Guardians of a "parliamentary coup".

In a statement read to hundreds of Iranian and foreign journalists, the protesters reminded that not only the leader controlled CG had rejected all efforts to diffuse the electoral crisis amiably by accepting to review the situation of the reformist deputies it had barred from the 20 February elections, but it had even increased the number of disqualified candidates.

"In such a situation, the deputies who had stage a protest sit-in have no other choice than present their resignation and proclaim solemnly their decision not to take part in the elections, becoming part of a political offence", the statement added.

The unprecedented crisis which coincides with the 25th anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution started after the 12-members Council that, among other duties, looks into the backgrounds of all candidates to all elections in the Islamic republic rejected most of reformist deputies from running for the forthcoming Legislative elections.

In the statement, the disqualified deputies reminded that they had been barred on charges of "not believing in Islam, in the Islamic Republic and in the system of velayat faqih", or the leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i as well as "attachments to illegal groups".

The protesters also attacked both Ayatollah Khameneh’i, without naming him, for having denounced the lawmakers as "greedy and Mafiosi-type people" who "facilitate the plots of the enemies" and President Khatami for his "leniency and hesitations".

On Wednesday, Ayatollah Khameneh’i backed the decision of the Guardians and criticised the protesting lawmakers, describing them as a "bunch of greedy people who ask for more".

"Who are greedy and Mafiosi-type, the lawmakers who wants Constitution be applied or those who ignore it, make a sham of elections, who orders serial killings, who close down the universities, who insult representatives of the people", said Mr. Behzad Nabavi, the second deputy Speaker referring to article by Mr. Hoseyn Shari’atmadari, an intelligence officer specializing in interrogating dissidents appointed as the Editor of the evening daily Keyhan by Mr. Khameneh’i.

"With this sit-in we have forced those who oppose reforms to either hold the elections themselves or stage a military coup", he added.

Intervening at the press conference, Mr. Ali Qanbari described a meeting of the protesters with President Mohammad Khatami on Tuesday as "sad and chagrined" and asked "why a President who is in charge to apply the Constitution and speaks of détente is so fragile, doubting what is taking place?"

Reading the statement, Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the first deputy-Speaker and leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front said by stating the sit-in, the disqualified deputies wanted to protest the CG’s "illegal" right to reject candidates.

"For years, we were trying to get rid of this right the CG had bestowed on itself and also reform the electoral laws, but all our efforts were dashed by the Council of the Guardians", he pointed out while denouncing what he described as a "parliamentary coup" by the Guardians.

"With our action, we have in fact unmasked those who acts against the legitimate rights of the people in electing freely their candidates and revealed to the people a parliamentary coup that was in the making for two years", he added, not saying why they did not revealed the "coup" earlier?

"Our sit-in was for the defence of democracy. We have effectively torn down the pillar of authoritarianism. We have taken from their (hard liners) hand the tools of repression. By announcing our resignation and staying away from the elections, we also end our sit-in, the first phase of our protest movement", the younger brother of the embattled President announced, adding that the action "would continue".

Analysts said the statement was tantamount of a "divorce" between the reformist lawmakers with the President who, by his contradictory declarations, had badly weakened the ranks of the protesters.

While his cabinet had threatened to resign and the Interior Minister, Hojjatoleslam Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari was engaging the powerful CG for delaying the polling, Mr. Khatami said elections would take place on due time.

"What also encouraged the conservatives in standing firm to the reformists was the tragic lack of support from the public, deceived by the reformists and the President’s failure to carry out their promised reforms", commented Mr. Qasem Sho’leh Sa’di, a former Member of the Majles and a political dissident.

36 posted on 02/05/2004 6:10:57 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 2-6-2004 |

By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor in Vienna
(Filed: 06/02/2004)

America has convincing new evidence that Iran is hiding an atomic bomb project despite Teheran's promise to open up all of its nuclear facilities to international inspectors, a senior US official has told The Telegraph.

He said the Teheran regime was secretly trying to build a second and more advanced uranium enrichment plant in parallel to the large facilities in the town of Natanz revealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year.

"There is no doubt in our mind that the Iranians have a lot that the IAEA does not know about," said the official. "The Iranians have a military programme that the IAEA has never set eyes on."

Another western source confirmed that the nuclear technology smuggling network headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's top nuclear weapons scientist, had sold much more equipment to Iran than Teheran has so far admitted to.

The latest intelligence on Iran, if corroborated, will ignite an intense international crisis with the Iranian regime.

The US seems, for the moment, to be seeking to strangle Iran's nuclear programme through inspections and diplomatic agreements brokered by Europe.

But the presence of US troops either side of Iran - in Iraq and Afghanistan - is a reminder to the regime that Washington retains the declared option of "pre-emptive" military action. Clear-cut proof of a secret nuclear weapons programme in Iran would be an acute embarrassment for Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, who has invested heavily in "engagement" with the clerical regime.

Last October three European countries - Britain, France and Germany - brokered a deal whereby Teheran supposedly came clean about its nuclear programme and in return was spared action by the United Nations Security Council.

Iran also agreed "temporarily" to suspend uranium enrichment at the Natanz plant. But western diplomats said it had continued to buy components, assemble centrifuges and test the equipment.

Senior diplomats from the big three European countries this week met Iranian officials in Vienna to demand that Teheran halt these subsidiary enrichment-related activities, but reached no agreement. It was not clear whether they discussed US suspicions that Teheran had a second secret enrichment plant.

Iran claims it has only sought to make low-enriched uranium as fuel for a planned civil nuclear reactor to generate electricity.

But it admitted to lying to the IAEA for 18 years, saying it had made a small quantity of highly-enriched uranium and also separated a few grams of plutonium - both weapons-grade fissile material. According to US and other western sources, it is now clear that Iran has been hiding much more. In particular, they believe Teheran has been trying to build a G2 centrifuge with high-speed rotors made of maraging steel, a light but high-strength form of the metal.

This is a more efficient model than the aluminium-based G1 design that is under IAEA inspection in Natanz.

Both versions are based on Dutch designs stolen in the 1970s by Mr Khan when he was working as a metallurgist in the Netherlands for Urenco, the British-German-Dutch nuclear fuel consortium. Libya bought both the G1 aluminium and G2 maraging steel versions from Khan's network. Moreover, a shipment of maraging steel centrifuge tubes destined for North Korea was seized by Japan last year.

Western intelligence agencies are trying to find out whether Iran and other countries have bought a design for a nuclear bomb that was sold to Libya by Pakistani scientists.

Officials will not say precisely how they have established that Iran is still working on an atomic bomb. But a wealth of information is emerging from the unravelling of the "nuclear supermarket" supplied by Mr Khan. Western intelligence services were already acting against the nuclear black market before Pakistani authorities began to "debrief" Mr Khan.

It is possible that along with the seizure of maraging steel shipments bound for Libya and North Korea, the intelligence agencies found a similar trail leading to Iran.

Nevertheless, officials admit that their information is still "sketchy".

It is unclear whether Iran has assembled a secret "G2" centrifuge plant, or even whether it has all the necessary components.

Diplomats in Vienna say, for instance, that Libya still had large "holes" in its centrifuge programme before abandoning the project.

"There is much that we don't know," said the senior US source. "We don't know how far the Iranians have gone, but they are making progress. "They are developing a completely indigenous capability. At some point cutting off the external support will not be enough to stop it."
43 posted on 02/05/2004 9:02:39 PM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: DoctorZIn; All
Excerpt from Wall St Journal article Feb 5, '04
"Martyrs and Individuals" by Ahmed H. al-Rahim

"The thread that connects the recurring stampedes in Mecca, the suicide bombings in Iraq, and the lopsided exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah is the deficit of respect for the individual in the Arab world. This erosion has occurred in a political context, where too many governments in the region deny their citizens basic individual rights in order to maintian a tight grip on society. When societies trample over the individual, human life is bebased."

"...calling people martyrs is just a cover for the disregard of the individual and the celebration of murder."
44 posted on 02/05/2004 9:15:41 PM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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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”

45 posted on 02/06/2004 12:05:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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