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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 02/28/2004 12:01:30 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 02/28/2004 12:03:41 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Spain Put Stamp Of Approval On Iran's Cooperation With IAEA

Feb 28, 2004, 04:29

Iran news - Spain's Foreign Minister Ana Palacio in Madrid Thursday expressed her satisfaction with Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Talking to IRNA, she reiterated Iran's cooperation with the IAEA is progressing. Referring to her meeting with IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna last week, Palacio quoted ElBaradei as saying that Iran and the agency have taken major steps toward bilateral cooperation. ElBaradei has said the two sides should keep going although some cases require further efforts.

Palacio voiced her country's readiness for reconstruction of the quake-stricken city of Bam, southeastern Iran. A deadly quake, measuring 6.3 degrees on the open-ended Richter scale rocked the historical city on Dec 26, killing some 30,000 people and leaving tens of thousands injured.
3 posted on 02/28/2004 12:05:24 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Uranium Traveled to Iran Via Russia, Inspectors Find

Published: February 28, 2004
NY Times

Inspectors have found evidence that some of the highly enriched uranium found on nuclear machinery in Iran came from Russia, European diplomats and American experts said Friday. The nuclear fuel appears to have come through the global black market, the experts added, and not with the blessings of Moscow.

With the findings, Russia emerges as a new and unexpected foreign source of supply to Iran's nuclear efforts. Recent revelations had shown that the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan had provided Iran with some sophisticated centrifuge technology that could be used to refine weapons-grade uranium through his hidden nuclear trading network, according to international nuclear officials and Dr. Khan's own testimony.

The Bush administration has long accused Iran of harboring a secret bomb project, which Tehran denies, saying its nuclear program is only for peacetime purposes.

In that light, last year's discovery in Iran of highly enriched uranium —a potential bomb fuel — set off an international crisis about the country's nuclear intentions and raised questions about where it had originated. Iran claimed it was contamination that came in on imported equipment, which Iranian officials said they acquired to concentrate uranium for reactors to generate electricity. The centrifuges spin rapidly to enrich uranium for both nuclear reactors and nuclear arms. High concentrations of uranium's rare 235 isotope can fuel warheads.

In a report on Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that its inspections had found that centrifuge equipment made indigenously in Iran — but not imported gear — showed many traces of the concentrated fuel, leading experts to doubt the Iranian explanation and suggest that Iran had enriched the uranium itself. Its purity was 36 percent U-235 — short of the 90 percent needed for most nuclear bomb designs but greater than that needed for most nuclear reactors.

On Friday, however, European diplomats said the agency's laboratory at Seibersdorf, Austria, had discovered a likely match between the atomic signatures of Russian uranium and samples agency inspectors had gathered from Iranian centrifuges.

In its sleuthing, the lab studies such things as a sample's isotopes — atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons. A distinctive mix of such isotopes can amount to a fingerprint that experts check against atomic databanks.

The agency, a diplomat cautioned, was being extremely careful in its interpretation of the Seibersdorf data and other evidence and was still actively looking at alternative explanations.

Michael A. Levi, a science fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington who has studied the recent I.A.E.A. report, said yesterday that he had independently deduced that the Iranian uranium originated in Russia. The strong clue, he said, was its 36 percent enrichment, a level that matches a kind of fuel used in certain Russian submarines and research reactors. Globally, he added, he knew of no other nuclear technology that used 36 percent enrichment.

"There's no reason for Iran to enrich to 36 percent," he said. `The only place that does that is Russia."

He added that it was highly unlikely that the Russian government sold Iran the uranium because its scientists could have easily concealed the telltale signature.

Rather, he argued, thieves probably stole the material either from Russia proper or elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and sold it on the black market.

Nations that use Russian reactors fueled with 36 percent enriched uranium, Mr. Levi said, include not only Russia but also the Czech Republic, Germany (in the former East sector), Hungary, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Poland, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. None of the similarly enriched Russian submarine fuel is exported through legal channels.

Poor security over such materials has been the rule rather than the exception since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mr. Levi said. For instance, in 1993, two Russian naval servicemen stole nearly four pounds of 36 percent enriched uranium from a naval base at Andreyeva Guba, Russia. They were caught and the material recovered.

Mr. Levi said Iran might have wanted a supply of 36 percent uranium because it could ease the production of bomb-grade uranium, making the process much faster and easier.

He estimated, for instance, that enriching one bomb's worth of material would take one year of running 66 pounds of 36 percent enriched uranium through just 25 centrifuges. A set of such centrifuges, known as a cascade, incrementally concentrates the U-235 isotope.

In contrast, if Iran started with natural, unenriched uranium, Mr. Levi said, the same production run would require 13,200 pounds of raw material running through 750 centrifuges. Such a cascade, he noted, "would be far harder to hide than the 15 centrifuge arrangement."
4 posted on 02/28/2004 12:07:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Rafsanjani: "All terrorists backed by US"

Saturday, February 28, 2004 - ©2004

TEHRAN, Feb 27 (AFP) -- Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said that all famous terrorists get their money and support from Washington, in response to the latest US government report slamming Tehran's human rights record.

"All the world-known and notorious terrorists are made with US money, support and experience," he said in his Friday sermon, broadcast live on state radio.

According to an annual United States government report released Wednesday, human rights conditions worsened last year in Iran as well as in China, Cuba and Myanmar.

The US State Department human rights report gave a bleak assessment of Iran's rights record, amid a "pursuit of numerous violations," against fundamental rights that notably targeted government opponents in politics and the media.

Younesi bluntly accused the United States of supporting terrorism because its State Department lists the Mujahedeen Khalq Organization as a terrorist organization.

The MKO was given sanctuary by Iraq's then-president Saddam in 1986 after being driven out of Iran in the wake of a vicious power struggle following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"An example of the US action which it calls combatting terrorism, are those terrorists who are serving the US, they explode the Shiite Muslim shrine of Imam Reza and martyred a lot of worshippers, and now they are in US asylum either in Iraq or the US," Rafsanjani said.

Nearly a dozen people were killed when a bomb exploded at the Shiite Muslim shrine of the eighth Imam Reza in northeastern city of Mashad on June 20, 1994.

Iran blamed the blast on the People's Mujahedeen, also known as the MKO, which were disarmed under a treaty with the US military in Iraq after the US-led war ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

The MKO's deal with the US forces angered Tehran, which accused Washington of being equivocal in its "war on terrorism".

About nine months ago, Iran's intelligence minister demanded the US extradite a suspect in the 1994 Mashad bombing.

Iran and the United States cut off diplomatic relations 23 years ago but have been holding talks recently on matters of mutual interest.

Rafsanjani also saluted Iranians' participation in last week's first round of parliamentary elections.

"The people's participation in the elections was able to neutralize the psychological war which was headed by the US, thus saving the country from the whirlpool they had envisioned for it," he said.
5 posted on 02/28/2004 12:08:41 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
The conflict between reformers and conservatives in Iran has been going on for years. But the Bush administration has offered no support for the reformist government of Khatami. The fact is, most young Iranians want a secular, democratic state, but that doesn't necessarily make them pro-American. I think the bellicose, war drum-beating by some US commentators sounds shrill to Iranian ears and only shores up support for the conservatives.

Or do you think the Iranians will be throwing flowers when US tanks roll into Tehran? Like in Iraq?
7 posted on 02/28/2004 12:09:18 AM PST by Bombay Bloke
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To: DoctorZIn
True democracy / freedom and Islam seem to be at odds.

How do you have a secular government functioning under the rule of law, with religious freedom for all, in an Islamic dominated state?

13 posted on 02/28/2004 4:54:47 AM PST by RAY ((Right or wrong, it is my country!))
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To: DoctorZIn
Mourners beaten up in Izeh

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Feb 28, 2004

Several mourners were beaten up and the last week's victims of the sham elections commemorative ceremony was ended brutally by the Islamic republic regime 's security agents.

The families of the victims, who had witnessed the official refusal of returning the bodies of the killed demosntrators, had created a ceremony. The regime's local authorities had asked huge sum of money in order to give the bodies for burrial.

The regime's move was intending to avoid more demos.

The situation is very tense in the region and many residents still under arrest.
18 posted on 02/28/2004 9:23:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Bahais Say Iran Released Two Prisoners

February 28, 2004
Victoria Advocate

WASHINGTON -- Iran has released two members of the Bahai faith who spent nearly 15 years in prison due to their beliefs, the U.S. Bahai information office said.

The office said Bihnam Mithaqi and Kayvan Khalajabadi were imprisoned in 1989 solely for associating with Bahai institutions, sentenced to death in 1991 by the Islamic Revolutionary Court but granted reduced sentences in 2001 after judicial review.

The Bahai office said more than 200 Iranian Bahais have been killed, hundreds imprisoned and thousands deprived of jobs or education because of their religion.

Kit Bigelow, external affairs director with U.S. Bahais' National Spiritual Assembly, said "the overall situation of the Bahais in Iran remains serious."
19 posted on 02/28/2004 9:23:50 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Tehran Radio: Osama bin Laden Captured

February 28, 2004
Yossi Melman

Osama bin Laden has been captured along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a report Saturday on Tehran Radio.

In the report quoting "knowledgeable sources," the official Iranian media outlet does not specify when the Al-Qaida leader was captured, and the report has yet to be confirmed elsewhere.

It said that Bin Laden was apprehended in a region populated by tribes along the border of the two countries, adding that U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visit to Pakistan on Thursday was related to capturing the Al-Qaida leader.

Bin Laden has been the target of a massive manhunt by the United States since the September 11, 2000 attacks in which two hijacked airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center in New York, causing it to collapse, while another plane hit the Pentagon, and a fourth apparently crashed in a field when passengers resisted the militants. Thousands were killed in the attacks.

Earlier Saturday, DPA reported that hundreds of U.S.-led coalition troops launched an operation in the Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost to hunt down Al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives, citing the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

Qoting witnesses AIB said about 35 military vehicles and tanks were seen moving towards the southeastern part of the province close to the Pakistani border.

"The convoy has now reached around the areas of Tora Ghara, Toda Cheena and Mustalbar and has launched the search operation, along the Pak-Afghan border region," travellers moving across the border into Pakistani town of Miranshah told AIP.

Helicopters were also flying over the area that faces Pakistan's north Waziristan region in the east, they said.

According to AIP no Khost official was immediately available for comments on the new operation but U.S. officials had indicated last week that a big mobilization of coalition troops in Afghanistan was imminent to flush out militants suspected in the mountain region.

There had been rockets attacks in recent weeks from the southeastern part of the Khost aimed at U.S. and government targets.

Khost had been one of the main strongholds of the extremist Taliban regime in the years before they were toppled by a U.S.-led military coalition in late 2001.

Some 11,500 U.S. troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan to hunt down remnants of the ousted Taliban regime and members of the Al-Qaida network, mainly in the south and southeast.
20 posted on 02/28/2004 9:26:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

February 28, 2004

IN a reversal of its policy not to enter into military alliance with any foreign power, the Islamic Republic of Iran has just concluded a defense pact with Syria. Signed in Damascus yesterday, the pact commits Iran to Syria's defense against "the Zionist entity," which in the Iranian lexicon means Israel.

The idea of a pact was first raised by Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the immediate aftermath of the liberation of Iraq last April. The Syrian leader paid three visits to Tehran, pressing the Iranian leadership to come to the help of his beleaguered regime.

Sources in Tehran say the Iranians were at first reluctant to commit to a course that could make war with Israel almost inevitable. All changed sometime last November when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian "Supreme Guide," decided that the only way to deal with the perceived threat from America was to raise the cost of any attempt by Washington to implement further "regime changes" in the Middle East.

According to our sources, Iran's decision to strengthen its commitment to Syria is one of several factors behind President Assad's recent decision to adopt a tougher stance against both the United States and Israel.

Iran's defense minister, Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani (who signed the pact with his Syrian counterpart, Lt.-Gen. Mustafa Tlas), told reporters in Damascus yesterday that its "arrangements" also extend to Lebanon, where Syria maintains an army of 30,000 and Iran supports the Hezbollah (Party of God).

From Damascus, Shamkhani went to Beirut, where he presided over a war council attended by the entire political and military leadership of the Hezbollah. Top of the agenda was closer coordination between Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of which are supported by Iran.

The pact has three sections. One spells out the strategic partnership of the two nations on "military and intelligence" issues, including a framework for joint staff conversations, exchange of information, joint planning and exercises, and reciprocal access to segments of each nation's weapons systems.

The second section provides mechanisms whereby Iran and Syria will assist one another against aggression by a third party. The full text of the section has not been released, but Shamkhani and Tlas made it clear that "mutual defense" includes the commitment of troops and materiel to deal with any clear and present danger against either nation.

The third section is a memorandum on technical and scientific cooperation that commits Iran to build a national defense industry for Syria. The text also commits Iran to supply Syria with a wide range of weapons, including fighter-bombers and theater-range missiles, on a lend-lease basis. Iran has also agreed to train an undisclosed number of Syrian officers and military technicians, especially in the use of a wide range of missiles.

In a Thursday speech in Damascus, Shamkhani explained that Iran and Syria felt threatened by U.S. and Israeli "aggression."

"In the existing strategic configuration in our region, Syria represents Iran's first line of defense," Shamkhani said. "Iran, in turn, must be regarded as Syria's geo-strategic depth."

Iran already has a military presence in both Syria and Lebanon. The Iranian military mission in Damascus consists of over 500 officers and experts in weaponry and military intelligence. The Corps of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard has a contingent of 1,200 men in Lebanon on missions including training, deployment and maintenance of certain categories of weapons, and military intelligence. Each year Iran also trains an unspecified number of Syrian officers and military technicians, plus hundreds of Hezbollah fighters and cadres.

The new pact is presented by the state-controlled media in Iran and Syria as a response to the close military ties between Israel and Turkey.

Iranian and Syrian analysts believe that Washington plans a new regional military alliance to include Israel, Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, seven regional countries are scheduled to sign an association accord with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) later this year. The leaders of the countries concerned (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan) have been invited to a NATO summit to be held in Istanbul in May.

As the only regional countries left out (along with Lebanon, which is de facto a Syrian dominion), Iran and Syria fear that their isolation could render them vulnerable to attack by either Israel or the United States.

The Irano-Syrian pact is scheduled to last for a period of five years but could be renewed with mutual consent.

To come into effect, the text must be approved by the Iranian and Syrian parliaments, which should happen early this summer. Syria's parliament, controlled by the ruling Arab Socialist Ba'ath (Renaissance) Party was never a problem. The new Iranian Majlis (parliament) is not expected to be a problem either since it will be controlled by groups loyal to the "Supreme Guide" and opposed to concessions to the United States.

The recent defeat of the so-called "reformist" camp in Iran is certain to concentrate control of foreign policy in the hands of Khamenei and his special foreign policy adviser, Ali-Akbar Velayati.

In a series of speeches and articles last year, Velayati urged the leadership to adopt "a position of strength" vis-à-vis the United States and Israel. His argument is that the Bush administration is committed to the overthrow of the Khomeinist regime and that the only way to counter its "conspiracies" is to raise the stakes to a point that would be unacceptable to American public opinion.

The Iran-Syria pact is only part of Velayati's grand vision. A more important part is Iran's decision to acquire a credible nuclear deterrent, probably within the next two to three years, thus raising the stakes even higher.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that the new Iranian tough line has been encouraged by the reaction of both the United States and the European Union to the recent election in Iran, in which only handpicked pro-regime candidates were allowed to stand.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed his "sadness" but insists that rapprochement with Tehran would continue regardless. The European Union has gone further by suggesting that the controversial election represented nothing but a dark patch in an otherwise serene sky. As for Washington, the announcement by CIA chief George Tenet that the Iranian regime is "secure" is seen by the hard-line Khomeinists as an admission of American despair.

Just three months ago, the Iranian and Syrian regimes had their backs to the wall. Now, however, they manifest a new self-confidence. And that could lead either to a serious dialogue with Washington or, more likely, a sharpening of the conflict with it, especially in Iraq, Lebanon, and the occupied territories.

21 posted on 02/28/2004 9:34:53 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Official: Iran and Iraq Have Freed All POWs

The Associated Press

Published: Feb 28, 2004

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran and Iraq have freed all prisoners of war from their 1980-88 war, an Iranian official said Saturday.
"There are no Iranian POWs in Iraq and no Iraqi POWs in Iran now," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Brig. Gen. Abdollah Najafi, head of Iran's POW Commission, as saying.

Najafi said the last POWs from both sides were freed last May under an exchange agreement.

The agreement was announced last March as former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein faced threats of a U.S.-led invasion that later toppled his regime. The move was seen as a bid by Saddam to win support from Muslims and Arabs.

The commission is now investigating the cases of 7,000 Iranian soldiers who went missing in action, and most are probably dead, Najafi said. He said his commission is talking to the International Committee of the Red Cross to verify the fate of the Iranian MIAs.

Thousands of Iranians went missing in the war, and their status remains a source of tension between the Iraq and Iran. The sides have accused each other of concealing the number of prisoners they hold.

Iran and Iraq have exchanged thousands of prisoners and remains of dead soldiers since the war ended with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been trying to repatriate all the remaining POWs since 1998, but says it doesn't know how many people were held.
36 posted on 02/28/2004 8:57:55 PM PST by nuconvert (CAUTION: I'm an acquaintance of someone labelled :"an obstinate supporter of dangerous fantasies")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Other Khatami

February 28, 2004
Babak Dehghanpisheh

It would have been easy for Mohammed Reza Khatami, 44, to let his brother Mohammed Khatami, the Iranian president, overshadow him. Instead, for the last four years he has led the nation's largest reform party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, and served as a deputy speaker of Parliament.

The younger Khatami, a trained kidney specialist, started his revolutionary career like many other notable figures of his generation: by joining the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. Now the tables have turned. Khatami was among hundreds of candidates disqualified by hard-liners in the run-up to parliamentary elections last week. His political future, and that of the reform movement, is now in question. He spoke last week to NEWSWEEK's Babak Dehghanpisheh. Excerpts:

DEHGHANPISHEH: What lies ahead for reformist political parties?
KHATAMI: They can arrest us, close our papers and even apply pressure to get us fired from our jobs. But our party will definitely survive, even if we have to organize ourselves in smaller groups.

Does this mean you will be transformed into an internal opposition group?
There is no problem with that. But labels can be misleading in Iran. Opposition often means enemy. Yes, we are opposed to many of the policies adopted by the judiciary, by the Guardian Council and other appointed bodies of the government. So yes, in that sense, we are an opposition group, but one that likes to operate within the framework of the law. We don't want to overthrow the regime.

Are you worried you may be arrested?
It's possible. I didn't think I would be disqualified as a parliamentary candidate, but it happened. I don't think there will be a massive crackdown in the short term.

How do you think Iran's political system can be reformed at this stage?
Some people say the only means left is violence and revolution, but we don't agree. If we organize ourselves and our supporters better, [hard-liners] will slowly give up. Something like the Spain model, where Franco ruled like a dictator until his last day. But after his death the society transformed so much that reform took root and the system became democratic—without any bloodshed. We need to look at such models and work toward them.

Would hard-liners be willing to negotiate?
When the hard-liners feel threatened, they become very rational. We have many examples of this, like the nuclear issue. It shows they are not completely ideological and not willing to die for a cause. Conservatives have also adopted the language of reform—some have even used our slogans. They are putting aside their radical faces and presenting new, kinder faces to the public. This seems to be the death of conservatism in its radical form. This will also lead to their own downfall.

Are you keeping in touch with the clergy in Qum?
We think the senior clerics are on our side. Most of the grand ayatollahs have stayed quiet during the election crisis. The traditional clerics are leaning toward the idea of separating religion from politics. It's only under these circumstances that a cleric's words can carry weight. Look at Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq. These days, when Sistani utters a word, Bush and his administration have to listen. Many of our clerics today can't understand how we fought for 25 years, but we don't have a fraction of Sistani's influence against the Americans.

Do you also think it's important to strengthen your ties with students?
Yes, but only a small percentage of students are political. Most students are more interested in social and civil activities—and this is a positive sign. Our society is beginning to understand that political activism belongs within the framework of political parties. A newspaper should be a newspaper, not a rag for a political party.

Did you ask President Khatami to take a strong stand during the current crisis?
Our beliefs are the same, but we differ in tactics. We would like the president to use all the power given to him by the Constitution to stand up against the hard-liners. But he thinks some of our party members went too far and spurred the conservatives to crack down on us. He should have put the names of disqualified candidates back on the ballots. We believe if Khatami had stood firmly, the conservatives would back off. But he's not confrontational.

Why hasn't President Khatami used all the legal tools at his disposal?
He's afraid the society will fall apart. It's a valid concern. Khatami wants to treat his enemies with kindness. Whenever he gets angry at someone, he immediately wants to make it up to them. You can't change him. A friend once told him, "A politician should have some tricks, too." But Khatami doesn't. He's a person with a lot of moral values, and our opponents have taken advantage of this repeatedly.

Newsweek International

March 1 issue
37 posted on 02/28/2004 8:58:18 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Pakistani Army Denies Reports of Osama bin Laden's Capture

February 28, 2004
Yossi Melman

The United States and Pakistan on Saturday denied reports by Iran's official IRNA news agency on Saturday that al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has been been captured.

The U.S. Department of Defense denied the Tehran Radio report that the bin Laden had been captured in a border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistani Army spokesman Gen. Shaukat Sultan told The Associated Press "that information is wrong."

A Pakistani military operation has been under way in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan and a Pakistani official said previously that members of al-Qaida are being sought there, although bin laden was not a specific target.

Citing "knowledgeable sources," Tehran Radio reported that Osama bin Laden was captured, but the official Iranian media outlet did not specify when he was captured, and the report has yet to be confirmed elsewhere.

It said that Bin Laden was apprehended "some time ago" in a tribal region along the border between the two countries, adding that U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visit to Pakistan on Thursday was related to capturing the al-Qaida leader. It also said that U.S. President George W. Bush "is intending to use it for propaganda maneuvering in the presidential election."

The report was broadcast on the station's external broadcast, in the Pashtun language, which reaches Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Homayoun Jarir, son-in-law of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, said he could not confirm the report.

Shamim Shahed, the bureau chief for "The Nation," an English-language newspaper in Peshawar, was cited by the director of IRNA's Pashtun radio service as the source of the bin Laden report.

But Shahed denied in an AP interview ever telling the Iranian news service that bin Laden had been captured.

"I never said this, but I have for the last year been saying that he is not far away. He is within their (the Americans) reach, and they can declare him arrested anytime," Shahed said. He gave no evidence to back up that claim.

Washington says Bin Laden masterminded the September 11, 2001 suicide hijack attacks in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Also Saturday, an army spokesman said that Pakistani forces involved in ongoing anti-terrorism operations in a tribal region killed 11 people in an exchange of fire after a minibus failed to stop at a roadblock.

The shooting occurred early Saturday, the morning after armed men and soldiers exchanged fire at a military compound in the region. Pakistani forces have been carrying out a sweep for terrorist suspects, and tension is high in the area.

The minibus failed to stop at a roadblock in Zeri Noor, a village just outside of Wana, the main town in tribal South Waziristan, army spokesman Gen. Shaukat Sultan told AP. He said soldiers only shot at the bus after someone inside opened fire on them.

"It was a terrorist act," he said.

Allah Dad, a local resident, told AP that the bus was filled mostly with Afghan refugees on their way to the border. A taxi driving near the minibus was also hit, and the driver killed, Dad said.

He said as many as 12 people were killed, and seven more injured in the incident.

"They opened fire when the bus didn't stop," Dad said. "There is a lot of tension in the area and a lot of troops. The roads to Afghanistan have been sealed."

Two local officials who spoke to the AP earlier on condition of anonymity did not mention an exchange of fire, saying it was not clear exactly what prompted the shooting.

The deaths are sure to increase anger in the region. Tribal leaders deeply resent the presence of the army on their lands. Pakistani forces have been slowly increasing their presence under pressure from Washington to crack down on al-Qaida and Taliban suspects, who are believed sheltering in the region.

In the operation Tuesday in Wana, troops arrested 25 suspected terrorists, none of whom have been identified.

In Friday's raid, armed men tried to sneak into a military compound in Wana, sparking a shootout, Sultan said Saturday. There were no casualties and the spokesman said he had no details.

"I can only say that there was an exchange of fire but there were no casualties," Sultan told The Associated Press.

Wana is located about 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan has not revealed the identity of the suspects captured in the counterterrorism operation in Wana, the fourth by the army to track down suspects since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Security officials caution they have no confirmed information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, but say the operations are geared toward locating him.

They say Pakistani rapid reaction forces have been deployed to specific areas along the border with Afghanistan, a mountainous landscape that runs 3,300 kilometers (2,000 miles) from the Himalayas in Pakistan's northern territories to the desert of southwestern Baluchistan.

The latest operation in Wana began on Tuesday, and although authorities said it had ended, fresh paramilitary troops rolled into the town late Friday, setting up new checkpoints and examining documents.

Most of the 25 people arrested this week appeared to be tribesmen from a region whose inhabitants are linked by language and culture to Afghan Pashtuns, the ethnic group that was the Taliban's power base. Four of those arrested - a man and three women - appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin.

Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the American military in Afghanistan, said Saturday he had no information on the identity of those arrested in the Pakistani operation, or if any of them had been taken to Bagram Air Base.

Bagram is the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, where terrorism suspects are often detained and interrogated. The military refuses to give details of who is held there.

Military officials say ordinary Afghans are providing better intelligence on Taliban and al-Qaida activities, pointing to frequent tips on the location of arms caches as proof.

Asked if better intelligence was behind commanders' optimism that bin Laden and other top fugitives will be caught, Hilferty said only that there was an "overall sense of confidence that things are getting better."

"The Taliban no longer exist as a real movement. I think al-Qaida in Afghanistan no longer exists as a threat, as a military threat. So it's mainly just a sense of optimism in the country as a whole."

He said "typical operations" including patrols and searches were continuing across the south and east of Afghanistan, but declined to give details.

Meanwhile, U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism Coffer Black was in the capital Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials.

He met Friday with Tariq Osman Hyder, a senior Foreign Ministry official, to discuss cooperation in the global campaign against terrorism, a ministry statement said.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed Black's arrival but would give no details about his discussions.
38 posted on 02/28/2004 8:59:33 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Can Produce Nuke Warhead in Days

February 28, 2004

Iran has secretly developed its uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz, which is now considered the linchpin of the nation's nuclear weapons program, reports Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence news service.

U.S. officials said that Iran transferred research, development and assembly operations to Natanz in an effort to transform the site into the main facility for the Iranian gas centrifuge program.

Iran has ambitious plans for Natanz. Currently, the site includes centrifuge assembly areas and a pilot fuel-enrichment plant slated to hold 1,000 centrifuges. A production-scale fuel-enrichment plant is being constructed at Natanz to house some 50,000 centrifuges.

Iran has designed its nuclear weapons program so that it could produce enough enriched uranium to construct a warhead within days, official says.

"Natanz could be operated to make low-enriched uranium fuel until Iran decided it wanted to make weapon-grade material," David Albright and Corey Hinderstein write in the March/April 2004 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

"It wouldn't take long to enrich the low-enriched material to weapon grade. For example, if Natanz was operating at full capacity and recycled the end product – low-enriched uranium [5 percent uranium-235] – back into the feed point, the facility could produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a single weapon within days."

Officials said Iran possesses blueprints for the construction of the advanced P2 gas centrifuge, which can enrich bomb-quality uranium in half the time of first-generation Pakistani-origin centrifuges. Iran has acknowledged possessing hundreds of P1 machines at Natanz. The International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors is scheduled to meet March 8-10 in Vienna to discuss the issue.

U.S. officials and analysts have assessed that the Iranian nuclear facilities the IAEA inspected are part of an infrastructure designed to produce up to 30 nuclear weapons annually.

The Iranian nuclear infrastructure includes both open and closed facilities, such as the Bushehr nuclear reactor, the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, the Kalaye facility and the Arak heavy water plant.

Despite Iran's pledge to the IAEA, Teheran has continued to conceal its nuclear weapons program, including designs for the enrichment of uranium as well as experiments with polonium, an element that facilitates the chain reaction that produces a nuclear explosion, officials said.

"There's no doubt in our mind that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said.

"They have not been fully forthcoming with their arrangement with the IAEA and we need to continue our effort, along with our European friends, to gain compliance."

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said: "The information that the IAEA has learned is certainly consistent with the information that we had, and it's not surprising. It's another act of Iranian deception and not something that leads to any feeling of security, that they are carrying through on their commitment to suspend enrichment activity."

Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said that prior to Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment in November 2003, Teheran was conducting both single machine tests and small cascades with uranium hexafluoride at the pilot plant.

Iran was assembling four-rotor machines similar to the P1 design, each with a capacity of roughly three separative work units [swu] per year, he said.

Albright and Hinderstein, a senior researcher at the institute, said the pilot plant at Natanz could produce about 10 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium a year. This would be far less than the amount of enriched uranium required to provide fuel for all of the civilian power plants Iran intends to build over the next 20 years.

"Alternatively, the same capacity could be used to produce roughly 500 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium annually," Albright and Hinderstein wrote. "At 15-20 kilograms per weapon, that would be enough for 25-30 nuclear weapons per year."

Albright said U.S. and other intelligence agencies knew of Pakistan's contribution to Iran's nuclear weapons program as early as a decade ago. But the agencies were hampered by a lack of knowledge of Iran's nuclear program, particularly whether it was succeeding in procuring vital components.

By the mid-1990s, Iran had succeeded in concealing its procurement of critical centrifuge components from U.S. intelligence agencies. Albright said U.S. intelligence estimates regarding the time Iran needed to build a pilot centrifuge plant proved to be reasonably accurate.

"After the mid-1990s, according to former senior U.S. government officials, U.S. intelligence agencies learned little concrete about Iran's centrifuge progress," Albright said. "As a result, there was little concerted action until 2002 to stop Iran's secret centrifuge program or demand far more intrusive IAEA inspections in Iran. From 1995 until 2002, Iran moved relatively freely and secretly toward building a domestic centrifuge industry that could enrich significant quantities of uranium."
39 posted on 02/28/2004 9:01:08 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranians Unite Against Ruling Mullahs

By Reza Bayegan | February 27, 2004

With the disappearance of the last vestiges of hope for democratic transformation within the existing political system, the Iranian opposition to clerical dictatorship is closing ranks and converging on items of a common agenda for the future of the country. At the beginning of Khatami's presidency, even many of those Iranians who were sympathetic to the Islamic revolution privately voiced the view that the reform card was the regime's last chance. They argued that either Mohammad Khatami would succeed in transforming the religious state into a democracy, or his presidency would be remembered as the final nail in the coffin of the Islamic Republic. Not very surprisingly a term and a half into his presidential mandate, Mohammad Khatami looks increasingly like an undertaker. His public credibility has all but vanished and the political movement that became synonymous with his name lies in tatters.

Hashim Aghageri, a leading Iranian dissident reacting to the massive disqualification of reformist candidates by the Guardian Council has declared that Iran's reform movement is finished. In an open letter published by the Iranian news agency ISNA, this history professor who is a reformist himself said that hopes for mending the system from within are over and he advises Iranians to oppose the regime through passive resistance.

Passive resistance or civil disobedience is one of the items on the wish-list, which is uniting Iranian activists from all over the political spectrum. Many of the items on this wish-list entered the Iranian political lexicon with the publication of a book in 2002 called Winds of Change by Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah of Iran, who is leading a campaign to overthrow the mullahs' dictatorship from his home in exile in the United States. Arguing that violence breeds more violence, he has been insisting on a peaceful plan of bringing down the regime through political non-participation. He has also proposed a democratic referendum on the future of the country as the only way out of the present political quagmire. Many of the reformist intellectuals who once vehemently supported President Khatami and his effort to change the republic from within now have also come to see a referendum on the future of the country as the only viable option. One of these people is the prolific satirist Ebrahim Nabavi. Reflecting on the legacy of the reformist movement in a recently published article, this hugely popular writer says: 'What we can all do at this moment is to make up for our past mistakes. We have no choice but to carefully navigate our country's vessel through its surrounding stormy waters and towards the free and democratic world. The reformist movement at this point should concentrate on forcing the hardliners to accept a national referendum on the future of the country'.

What Nabavi means by 'forcing the hardliners' is putting them in a situation so they can see that a quiet departure is their only route to self-preservation and the most generous deal they can expect from the nation. Twenty-five years of mismanagement and impetuous policies in the name of revolutionary Islam has brought the country to the verge of collapse. Iranians are left unprotected not only against man-made and natural calamities, but also against a government that has consistently assaulted their human rights and freedoms. How such a government with such a disastrous record has been able to survive for such a long time has been the subject of mystifications even for some Iranians with long experience in politics. Fereydoun Hoveyda, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations during the time of the Shah, blames the British, French and Germans for propping up the Islamic Republic and preventing its downfall.

In an article published on 13 February 2004, he asks 'how a group of incompetent and often corrupt lower ranking clerics' who have brought nothing but misery and bankruptcy to our nation have been able to survive except with the backing of those powerful European governments in whose economic benefit it is to keep them in power.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with this theory, it is true however that the Islamic Republic has succeeded in defrauding, or as Mr. Hoveyda argues bribing the key European countries and even elements within the Democratic Party in the United States. Seeking the protection of these powers the mullahs have found it necessary to create the impression that they are interested in democratic reform. One should keep in mind that a dictator like Khomeini who thought nothing of ordering the mass execution of hundreds of his opponents also found it expedient to call himself a democrat. Many Iranian activists who had a soft spot for Khomeini's revolution turned a blind eye on profound and irreconcilable defects of the system. They waited patiently hoping that one day a democratic state could emerge from within the Islamic Republic.

One of these activists who supported the 1979 revolution was Shirin Ebadi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Faced with the mass elimination of candidates, she has declared that she will refuse to vote in an undemocratic election where people are deprived of the right to vote for whomever they wish. The decision of the influential Nobel laureate to stay away from the polls is bound to give a moral boost to the the advocates of political non-participation and civil disobedience.

Ironically, the reform movement which was an ineffective force in its prime, is showing signs of vitality at its deathbed. The disgruntled candidates not only boycotted the polls but have broken a taboo by openly criticizing Khamenei's role in their disqualification accusing him of duplicity.

The recognition that the Islamic Republic is the common enemy of freedom and democracy has induced the country's political activists; monarchists as well as republicans to form a united front against dictatorship.
41 posted on 02/28/2004 9:21:47 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!

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42 posted on 02/29/2004 12:04:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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