Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- June 10, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 06/09/2004 9:16:17 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. Most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
Thanks for the ping!
'They Want Us to Emigrate'
June 10, 2004
Dan de Luce
Thanks to Makhmalbaf and Kiarostami, Iranian cinema is acclaimed around the world. But can its film-makers survive Iran's new conservative censors? Dan de Luce investigates.
In the arid mountains of eastern Iran, director Babak Payami devoted long hours to making his latest film using a minimum of artificial light. At the end of this painstaking project, Iranian plain-clothes security agents seized the negative and Payami has not seen it since. Although he managed to create a second version of Silence Between Two Thoughts from computer files in an Italian studio, much of what he had been trying to accomplish with light was lost. When he saw the new version, Payami says, he felt crushed: "I was alone in a little lab and I cried my eyes out through the entire film."
Silence Between Two Thoughts tells the story of an executioner who begins to doubt his own blind faith. Although he felt the technical standard was flawed, Payami has allowed his film to be screened at festivals, and this Friday it gets a British release. "I would have preferred not to have shown the film but it was a matter of principle," he says.
Until recently, the state-regulated film industry in Iran had remained the one aspect of cultural life that had somehow circumvented the regime's suffocating influence. But since the recent appointment of conservative apparatchiks who vet films, the atmosphere has deteriorated. Payami's agonising experience illustrates the mounting censorship and restrictions faced by Iranian film-makers in recent years. Ambiguous rules are enforced in an unpredictable and arbitrary fashion. The authorities who confiscated Payami's film, and who detained and interrogated him, had not even seen it.
Following the 1979 revolution, film-makers have had to contend with strict censorship that forbids showing couples touching, or a woman without Islamic garments that hide her hair and body shape. These ideological restrictions may explain why some of the greatest Iranian films focus on children's lives or portray life outside on the street rather than inside the home.
Beyond these explicit rules, the conservative takeover of the government department controlling the film industry has meant that permits for scripts, for production and film screenings are getting harder to come by. Many now wielding authority over the industry - including Mohammad Mehdi Heydarian, deputy minister of film in the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance - used to work at the state television monopoly, which churns out ideologically correct programmes and has ties to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
On May 4 the ministry denied permission to the award-winning director Mohsen Makhmalbaf to make a new film entitled Amnesia. Makhmalbaf, director of Kandahar, had been working on the script for years and had planned to start filming last month. "It seems that the new censorship strategy intends to push the Iranian artists to migrate from the country," Makhmalbaf said in a statement. The director and his movie-making family often have found it easier to operate in neighbouring Afghanistan than under the stifling bureaucracy in Iran. The past three films made by the country's most prominent director, Abbas Kiarostami, have been banned from Iranian cinemas.
Although intriguing films keep winning awards at international festivals, there are fears that the climate of repression is taking its toll. The film A House Built on Water won six awards at Iran's film festival last year but after its premiere, the authorities demanded numerous cuts and deleted three scenes. Afterward, the film's director, Bahman Fahmanara, was in despair at having his film sliced up by a committee of bureaucrats and hinted that he might retire from domestic film production. "My knees are too old to dance to the tune they play for me," he was quoted as saying.
Foreign film critics often describe Iran's distinctive cinema as a response to the country's 1979 revolution, which installed clerical rule and strict Islamic censorship of the arts. But the films' oblique, subtle approaches represent an artistic tradition in a society that has never experienced genuine freedom of expression. According to Payami, these subtle methods grow out of a culture defined by poetry that has always employed indirect language and double meanings to broach taboo subjects. "Everybody seems to attribute the style of Iranian cinema only to the post-revolutionary era, but it has been nurtured over the course of centuries. The cultural keys are there in the poetry. The creative use of the Farsi language and grammar can be very colourful and multi-layered. So this is nothing new."
Moreover, film-makers find it patronising when outsiders credit censorship with bringing out the best in Iranian directors. "I think romanticising censorship is a great disservice to Iranian artists," says Maziar Bahari, a documentary-maker from Tehran. "Censorship has had a negative effect on Iranian arts for centuries. I believe without censorship we would have many other great artists and film-makers whose talent and effort cannot bear fruit because of governmental, religious and social restrictions."
In Iran, writing about films can be more risky than actually making one. Several film critics and the editor of a film magazine were arrested and charged last year. They were later released after interrogation. Some of them have since gone silent, some have been used to entrap others and one writer has secured asylum in a European country, according to human rights monitors.
One former member of the Islamic clergy with an affection for film has been singled out for punishment. Ali Afsahi, a professor of cinema and an Islamic cleric, has been defrocked, imprisoned three times and stripped of his teaching privileges because of his passion for western films. Afsahi held screenings of his favourite films for students and fellow clergy, trying to defend cinema as a legitimate art form. He believes film can provide a window into the soul and into Islam itself. Afsahi even dared to show Natural Born Killers to a group of clerics, many of whom were deeply offended and angered. In court, he refused to recant his enthusiasm for Ingmar Bergman and Oliver Stone, and offered to show western films to the judge who convicted him.
The same clerical establishment that took a dim view of Afsahi helped ban the most popular film in Iran for years, The Lizard. The movie gently mocks the country's clergy and broke box-office records last month until it was belatedly pulled from cinemas. The Lizard, in which a thief escapes prison by donning clerical robes, was not a product of the avant-garde film-making elite and had a sentimental theme, in which the main character finds God through his experience. Having granted permission to screen The Lizard, allowing tens of thousands of people to see the film, the ministry of culture changed its mind following a hostile reaction by hardline ideologues and their supporters.
With the breathing space for cinema shrinking, film-makers may soon have to choose between sacrificing artistic freedom or working in exile and sacrificing ties to their homeland. Payami is searching for a producer for his next project, the story of Michelangelo da Caravaggio, the Italian painter condemned by church authorities for depicting religious figures as ordinary peasants. "It's about an artist fleeing the Inquisition." Iranian film-makers should have no trouble identifying with that story.
· Silence Between Two Thoughts is released tomorrow. Maziar Bahari's documentary on Aids in Iran, Mohammad and the Matchmaker, is screened on BBC2 next Wednesday at 10pm.
Resolution 1546 Licenses Occupation
June 10, 2004
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
Tehran -- United Nations security council finally passed resolution 1546 on the new interim administration in Iraq.
The resolution was passed while US and Britain's proposals were rejected for four times by UN security council member states and numerous amendments were made to the draft resolution, described by analysts as set-back for the occupying states.
Reviewing the content of the resolution, one easily finds that US and Britain have attempted to guarantee their continued presence in the country through inclusion of an article in the resolution which leaves the case to the option of the Iraq's interim government's request; history says that superpowers has always imposed their will on the governments in establishment of which they have had major role.
It is noteworthy that Iraqi people and religious authorities announced they will recognize Iraq's interim government on condition that it paves the way for the withdrawal of occupying forces. Therefore, the mentioned article is contrary to Iraqi public will.
Iranians 'Are at Risk'
June 10, 2004
More than 4,000 Iranian opposition supporters currently living in Iraq face possible expulsion back to Iran where they may be tortured and executed when the new Iraqi government comes into force at the end of the month, a specially formed group of international lawyers warned last week.
London-based human rights lawyers Geoffrey Bindman and Stephen Grosz, partners at Bindman & Partners, and Imran Khan, partner at Imran Khan & Partners, joined forces with former law lord Lord Slynn of Hadley and lawyers from Canada, Denmark and Norway to discuss the issue at a special conference last month.
Masoud Zabeti, an associate at Glovers in London acting for the British families of 100 Iranian dissidents, who are members of the Peoples Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), said: We fear the new [Iraqi] government will come under pressure from Iran to expel the PMOI supporters as soon as it gains power the present interim government had already announced its intention to do so. Members of our group have gone to Iraq to meet the coalition authorities and provided legal opinions.
Mr Grosz, who is also acting for British families, said: We have made representations to the Foreign Office, and are making efforts to find out what is going on from the coalition, which has said it will deal with the issue in the next few weeks. If these people are sent back to Iran, they will be in grave danger. A mass transfer of a civilian population against their will is a war crime.
Iran Warns G8 It Will Not Halt Nuclear Program
June 10, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iran warned the Group of Eight on Thursday it had no intention of halting its nuclear program despite criticism by G8 leaders of Tehran's cooperation with the United Nations's nuclear watchdog.
"Using peaceful nuclear energy is Iran's natural right and...G8 countries should not expect Iran to abandon this right," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement carried by state media.
G8 leaders from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia issued a statement on Wednesday accusing Iran of dragging its feet on full disclosure of its nuclear activities.
"We deplore Iran's delays, deficiencies in cooperation and inadequate disclosures," the statement said.
Iran strongly denies Washington's assertion that it is building a secret nuclear arms capability. Tehran says its nuclear program will be used exclusively to generate electricity.
Asefi described the G8 statement as "illogical."
"Iran has shown its full commitment to the non-proliferation of atomic weapons in practice and its wide and transparent cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is proof of that," Asefi said.
IAEA governing board members are due to discuss Iran's nuclear program next week based on an IAEA report which, while praising Tehran's increased cooperation, said it could still not confirm Iran's nuclear aims were entirely peaceful.
Asefi said G8 nations, instead of putting pressure on Iran, should provide technology and equipment to help it finish its nuclear program.
'Job application' online for suicide bombers
Iranian group recruiting for attacks on U.S. citizens, forces, Israel
Posted: June 10, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Paul M. Rodriguez
© 2004 Insight/News World Communications Inc.
Insight Online has obtained a shocking recruitment appeal seeking Iranians to commit suicide in deadly attacks on Israel, against American-led coalition forces in Iraq and on U.S. citizens around the world.
Obtained from an Iranian recruiting group, the deadly appeal is unmistakable and to the point. It seeks recruits for martyr assignments as well as to assassinate Salman Rushdie, the novelist Ayatollah Khomeini condemned to death in 1989 after publication of Rushdie's book "The Satanic Verses."
Reuters news agency reported June 5 that the group is known as the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign.
It quoted the group's spokesman, Mohammad Ali Samadi, as saying "some 10,000 people have registered their names to carry out martyrdom operations on our defined targets."
Ali Samadi, according to Reuters, says the alleged independent group's targets include "mainly the occupying American and British forces in the holy Iraqi cities, all the Zionists in Palestine, and Salman Rushdie ... the only nonmilitary target for us because we believe his attack against Islam was much worse than a military assault."
Insight Online found the proposal on a website where terrorists are being recruited. An English translation of a Farsi "job application" recruitment states:
In the Name of God
Preliminary Registration for Martyrdom Operations
I _____________, child of _____________, born 13_______ [Islamic calendar], the City of: _________________ proclaim my preparedness for carrying out martyrdom operations:
___ against the occupiers of the holy sites [referring to Najaf, Karbala, and other places in Iraq].
___ against the occupiers of [Jerusalem].
___ for carrying out the death sentence of the infidel Salman Rushdie.
Also, I would like to become an active member of the Army of Martyrs of the International Islamic Movement. Yes ____, No _____
An expatriate Iranian who alerted Insight Online to this "job posting" said that while recruitment of young suicide killers has been going on for many years, and there have been terrorist conferences, this is the first time that such groups have circulated application forms and done so publicly.
"It is extremely chilling and shows the contempt for civilized society that these radicals hold," a top Iranian monitor who asked not to be identified tells Insight.
As predicted in FR yesterday:
Kingdom, Iran Hold Talks on Extradition of Wanted Persons
JEDDAH, 10 June 2004 ? Saudi Arabia and Iran have reached an understanding on the need for a judicial agreement covering both the extradition of wanted persons and the transfer of prisoners to complete their sentences in their respective countries. The understanding was reached during a visit to Tehran by Saudi Justice Minister Dr. Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Sheikh.
Al-Sheikh held talks with Iranian officials on bilateral cooperation in judiciary matters. The minister was also received by Iranian President Muhammad Khatami.
The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat said the two sides have reached an initial understanding on a judiciary agreement that would be put before their two governments for review before being ratified.
Sources quoted by the newspaper did not specify whether the two sides discussed the issue of Al-Qaeda detainees which includes some Saudis who are currently being held in Iran. Iranian sources, however, said the issue did not come up for discussion between the Saudi minister and his Iranian counterpart Hashimi Shahroudi. The Iranians said they have no objection to discussing all issues that concern the two sides.
The Saudi minister said his country is constantly endeavoring to modernize and reform its judiciary system.
Shahroudi condemned acts of terrorism committed by some extreme and violent Islamic sects. He called for the promotion of Islamic principles ? especially those relating to human rights and the rights of individuals in Islamic societies in Muslim countries ? to prevent enemies from seeking to use such principles against Muslim states.
IAEA WILL NOT DROP IRANS CASE, AS EXPECTED BY THE IRANIANS
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2004
VIENNA, 9 June (IPS) As Britain, France and Germany presented a new draft resolution to the United Nations nuclear watchdog criticizing Iran for failing to answer questions about alleged nuclear weapons activities, the Islamic Republic reiterated menaces of reviewing its cooperation with the Europes Big 3 in case they do not help closing Irans dossier with the Agency.
The resolution said that Iran's postponement until mid-April of a visit by IAEA inspectors resulted in a delay that made it all but impossible to resolve the Iran question at the June meeting, according to parts of the text read to the French news agency AFP by diplomats.
The draft "deplores" that Iran's "cooperation has not been complete, timely and proactive", according to extracts, but at the same time it insists for continued cooperation with Tehran, acknowledging Iranian cooperation in responding to agency requests for access to locations including workshops on military sites.
"It is a message. It makes it clear what we expect from them", a diplomat who asked not to be named told AFP.
The text, circulated informally among delegations representing the 35- nation Board of Governors of the IAEA of a board meeting that starts Monday calls for IAEA inspections to continue and urges "Iran to take all the necessary steps on an urgent basis to resolve all outstanding questions" on its atomic program, which Washington says is a front for developing arms.
But it does not mention reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, which the United States says would be justified given Iran's 18-year cover-up of a uranium enrichment program capable of making bomb material.
The resolution "deeply regrets that Iran has not fully implemented" promises to halt all activities related to enriching uranium, including "taking steps to produce" uranium hexafluoride, an enrichment fuel, and "continuing to produce centrifuge components."
The resolution also urges Iran to reverse decisions to work on the nuclear fuel cycle by starting up uranium conversion and the building of a heavy water research reactor.
We are waiting to see how the Europeans would deal with our problem in the coming session of the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agencys (IAEA) directors on 14 July and whether they help closing the file once for all. From their attitude would depend the future of our cooperation with both the Europeans and the IAEA, Mr. Mohammad Saidi, the Director for International Relations at the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) told the semi-independent Students news agency ISNA on Wednesday.
We have fulfilled our part of engagements and we expect the Europeans to do so, respecting their engagements concerning uranium enrichment and transfer of advanced nuclear technology, he said, adding, except few details like the P-2 centrifuges and contaminated part, there are no other outstanding difficulties between Tehran and the IAEA. Now all depends on the language and wording of the resolution.
On 21 October 2003, foreign affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany met in Tehran with Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the influential Secretary of Irans Supreme Council on National Security and the regimes top negotiator with the IAEA, agreeing on Iran signing the additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty and suspending its enriching uranium programmes.
But international inspectors were soon to find out that contrary to its pledges, Tehran not only had not stopped enriching uranium, but had introduced more advanced equipments for the purpose, including P-2 centrifuges.
A Western diplomat said the resolution had "strong language and was moving towards where the United States wants to be".
Diplomats also said that the Iranians must resolve the research into sophisticated P2 centrifuges that can make bomb-grade uranium and what is the source of highly enriched uranium contamination which IAEA inspectors have found", a Western diplomat said.
Washington accuses Iran of continuing to hide clandestine nuclear activities, after the IAEA report said agency inspectors had found more traces in Iran of highly enriched uranium that could be bomb-grade.
This cast serious doubt on Iran's claim that the contamination came from imported equipment rather than uranium it had introduced or tried to make.
Iran insisted Sunday it had given a complete explanation of the contamination and urged the IAEA to focus its search on a "third country", apparently a reference to Pakistan. The IAEA also reported that Iran, which says its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes, has admitted to importing parts for sophisticated P-2 centrifuges for enriching uranium, going back on claims that it had manufactured the parts domestically.
Diplomats said even the EU-3 was getting impatient with Iran, as the IAEA has been investigating the Iranian program since February 2003 with Iran consistently failing to deliver on promises for full disclosure of its atomic activities.
Pointing out that Iran had agreed to suspend its enriching uranium activities on a voluntary basis aimed at confidence building, he said Iran is bound to produce the necessary fuel for the 7.000 megawatts electricity it intends to generate from nuclear-powered electrical plants by the Iranian year of 1400, meaning in 17 years.
To the question why Iran do not tap its huge natural gas reserves for producing needed electricity, Mr. Saidi said not only these energies are ephemeral, but there are many other nations with huge natural resources that, nevertheless, go nuclear.
Iran is already in the process of building its first nuclear-powered electricity station in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr with the help of Russia, but the works, due to finish on 2000, are constantly delayed and now it is expected to go on stream at the end of 2005.
But Washington and Israel say the Iranians so-called civilian nuclear-based projects are just a cover to built an atomic bomb, a claim rejected by the Iranian ruling ayatollahs.
Iranian experts also say Irans military nuclear programmes are kept highly secret and run by special units of the Revolutionary Guards.
A US official said the United States "feels very sure that the IAEA will take the appropriate firm action" on Iran.
But diplomats stressed that a showdown with Iran over it alleged nuclear weapons program would not happen in June.
The new report from IAEAs director, Mohammad el-Baradei brings in same old questions plus new ones. Therefore, we dont thing that, contrary to the expectations of the Iranians, the Governors would close Iranians file on coming Monday, Kenneth Brill, USs ambassador to the IAEA told Radio Farda, the Persian service of the Prague-based Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty.
We all think that there are still many things the Iranians must do. Also, we want the IAEA come clean with Iran, for, in our view, there are still many things that the Iranians are hiding, he said, adding that one has to wait until the Boards next meeting in September, a view shared by most diplomats, including the European envoys.
"We all agree that the Iranians cannot be trusted 100%", concluded a Board member.
ENDS IAEA IRAN 9604.
Iran Warns Against European Draft Resolution
June 10, 2004
Middle East Online
The dominant conservatives in the Iranian parliament threatened Thursday to block ratification of a tougher nuclear inspections regime after European states submitted a strongly critical draft resolution to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"If the IAEA board of governors politicizes Iran's file and adopts a hostile position, parliament will defend the national interest and ignore the agency's demand for it to adopt the additional protocol" of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, warned Allaeddin Borujerdi, a conservative MP widely tipped as the next head of the legislature's foreign affairs committee.
Agreeing to the snap inspections by IAEA teams demanded by the additional protocol was a key part of a deal brokered by the British, French and German foreign ministers here in October last year to address US charges that Iran was engaged in covert nuclear weapons development.
Another conservative MP warned that Iran might also go back on another key part of the agreement with the European Union big three and end its suspension of uranium enrichment.
"The Islamic republic will not be able to tolerate the board of governors renewing its past allegations or demanding a complete halt to Iranian nuclear activities," said Manushehr Motaki.
"If this happens, we will renew uranium enrichment."
Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday presented a draft resolution to the IAEA board of governors that was widely seen here as a sop to Iran's archfoe, the United States.
The draft stops short of provoking a showdown over Tehran's alleged secret weapons programme, but sharply criticizes Iran for failing to answer questions about alleged nuclear weapons activities, diplomats said.
Conservatives and reformers alike hit out at the draft.
"Europe hits out at Iran in the board of governors," said the headline in the reformist daily Tosseyeh. "Despite the three European countries' opposition to most aspects of White House Middle East policy... they wanted to move closer to Washington."
Another reformist daily, Sharq, bemoaned "the change of attitude by European leaders", while the government daily Iran complained of the EU's "rushed decision".
The conservative daily Javan went further. "Parliament and government alike must resist the diabolical manoeuverings of the Europeans," it said.
The European draft "deplores" the fact that Iran's "cooperation has not been complete, timely and proactive," according to extracts read by diplomats.
But it "acknowledges Iranian cooperation in responding to agency requests for access to locations including workshops" on military sites.
Iranian Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi earlier labeled as irrational and unreasonable claims by leaders at the Group of Eight summit that Tehran is failing to fully disclose its nuclear program.
"Iran has practically demonstrated its full commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its safeguard clauses," he said.
He reiterated Tehran's insistence that "the peaceful use of nuclear energy is a legitimate right of Iran. The Group of Eight nations must not expect Iran to give up this right; rather they should provide Iran with the necessary means to make use of this technology.
At their meeting in Sea Island, Georgia on Wednesday, G8 leaders cited "serious concerns" about North Korea and chastised Iran as they unveiled measures meant to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
The measures aim to curb transfers of nuclear technology; enhance the powers of the IAEA and step up abilities to prevent and respond to biological weapons attacks.
The leaders stressed: "We deplore Iran's delays, deficiencies in cooperation, and inadequate disclosures."
Iran Seeks Cruise Missile to Support Shihab
June 11, 2004
Middle East Newsline
WASHINGTON -- Iran has been developing a cruise missile capability to support its arsenal of Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
U.S. officials and defense analysts said Iran appears to be developing a cruise missile with a range of 300 kilometers as part of a multi-layered guided weapons capability. They said Iran has pursued a dual development track that will ensure that cruise missiles will support the Shihab-3 and Shihab-4 intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Iranian cruise missiles were also meant to defeat U.S.-origin missile defense systems. The United States has offered the PAC-3 missile defense system to Gulf Cooperation Council states and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were said to have expressed interest.
The Iranian strategy, officials said, is directed largely against the U.S. presence in the northern Persian Gulf. But they said Iranian cruise missiles would also threaten land and sea targets in all of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf. This would include the United Arab Emirates, which has disputed the Iranian seizure of three islands claimed by Abu Dhabi.
Iran: U.S. Nuke Concerns Due to Misunderstandings
June 10, 2004
VIENNA -- A senior Iranian official dismissed U.S. concerns over Tehran's nuclear program as misunderstandings on Thursday after the U.N. nuclear watchdog held a closed-door meeting.
A diplomat at the meeting said the Iranian delegation had told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board that Tehran was cooperating fully with the agency's inspectors.
But Pierre Goldschmidt, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's deputy and head of the inspection program, "corrected the Iranians for the record... He said cooperation had not been 100 percent," said the diplomat, declining to be named.
The United States accuses Iran of using its atomic energy program as a front to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this, saying its ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.
"The U.S. has some misunderstandings about our nuclear program which we corrected," senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official Amir Zamaninia told reporters after a briefing for the 35 states on the IAEA board and Iran.
Zamaninia said the United States had two misunderstandings -- on Iran's advanced P-2 centrifuges capable of making bomb-grade uranium and the origin of enriched uranium traces U.N. inspectors had found in Iran.
"VERY GOOD MEETING"
"It was a very good meeting," Zamaninia said. "It was technical, not political."
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Kenneth Brill, said it was no misunderstanding and the IAEA report showed Iran had misinformed the U.N. about its P-2 program.
"I did not hear anything that corrected (what the IAEA wrote in its report)...although I did hear an effort to try to explain it away," said Brill.
"Many states, including the United States, believe that Iran is trying to hide a program they don't want brought to light."
The IAEA said last week in a report on Iran that it still did not know the full extent of Tehran's P-2 program. It also said Iran's statements the uranium traces resulted from used contaminated machinery bought from Pakistan were not plausible.
Tehran has said the two issues were minor and would soon be cleared up so Iran would be off the IAEA board's agenda as a special case as soon as possible. But diplomats said they were not minor and Iran would be under investigation for some time.
"The IAEA made it clear that it's impossible to say when the Iranian nuclear file can be closed," said a Western diplomat at the meeting who declined to be identified.
Zamaninia declined to comment on a draft IAEA board resolution circulated earlier this week by France, Germany and Britain that sharply criticized Iran for not fully cooperating with U.N. investigations.
"It's only a draft," he said, adding Iran would insist on some revisions to the text before it is formally presented to the board next week.
The IAEA has been investigating Iran's nuclear program since August 2002, when an exiled Iranian opposition group said Tehran was hiding an underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and other sites from U.N. inspectors.
Diplomats: Iran Wanted Parts for Covert Nuke Program
Thursday, June 10, 2004
VIENNA, Austria Iran told a black market supplier it was interested in "tens of thousands" of parts for its covert nuclear program, diplomats said Thursday, as the U.N. atomic watchdog prepared to rebuke Tehran for hindering an agency probe of its activities.
The diplomats, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the revelation about Iran's offer was made at a closed-door meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
An IAEA (search) report leaked last week mentioned that Iran had acknowledged inquiring about 4,000 magnets needed for uranium enrichment equipment with a European black-market supplier and had dangled the possibility of buying a "higher number" of such markets.
At Thursday's preparatory meeting for Monday's IAEA board of governors' conference an IAEA official was more precise, saying that Iran had said it was interested in "tens of thousands" of such magnets in future contracts, said diplomats present at the closed meeting.
With two magnets per uranium enrichment centrifuge, tens of thousands of such parts would translated into a centrifuge program that significantly exceeds what Iran insists was only an experimental project.
Uranium enrichment (search) can be used to generate power or make nuclear weapons, depending on the level of enrichment. Iran insists it was interested only in energy generation and that its offer was purposely exaggerated to spark interest from the potential black market supplier.
The United States and other nations say such arguments are an attempt to cover up nearly two decades of covert activities aimed at making nuclear weapons and point to what they say is continued Iranian secrecy on the scope of its enrichment program and other activities.
The other main area of concern remains the source of traces of weapons-grade uranium on Iranian centrifuges. Tehran asserts the traces were inadvertently imported on purchases through the nuclear black market and that it has not enriched uranium beyond the low levels used for power generation.
But IAEA investigators have not been able to test that claim because Pakistan (search) the main source of the equipment has blocked free access to its nuclear material, meaning the agency cannot match isotope samples to the traces found in Iran. At the closed meeting Thursday, IAEA officials complained that the agency has in some cases waited in vain for information on enrichment since October.
Coming out of the meeting, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, Amir Zamaninia said his country had attempted to clarify "a number of misunderstandings on the part of ... mainly the United States."
But another delegate present said members of the Iranian and U.S. delegations had clashed on a number of issue at what was supposed to be a technical meeting, likening their deep differences on the nature of Iran's nuclear program to a chasm between "two worlds."
The testiness reflected tensions ahead of Monday's board meeting, which is expected to censure Iran for continued foot-dragging a year into the IAEA probe of its nuclear ambitions.
A draft resolution written by France, Germany and Britain is heavily peppered with negative terms, "deploring" omissions and delays by Iran in cooperating with the agency probe or noting them with "serious concern."
Diplomats all speaking on condition of anonymity said the United States, Iran's harshest critic, was generally satisfied with the tone of the draft. But they said Washington would push for some kind of deadline for Tehran to come up with the missing information needed to prove or disprove the Islamic Republic's weapons ambitions.
The board meeting will review the report on Iran by agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei (search), as part of the IAEA probe.
The report addresses the same concerns voiced in the draft and brought up at Thursday's meeting that Iran had tried to buy critical parts for advanced P-2 centrifuges and that ambiguity remains on the source of traces of weapons grade uranium found inside Iran.
In the face of mounting international pressure, Iran suspended uranium enrichment last year, and in April it said it had stopped building centrifuges.
Iran long has rejected U.S. allegations its nuclear program is for military purposes. ElBaradei said last month his agency had not found proof to date of a concrete link between Iran's nuclear activities and its military program, but "it was premature to make a judgment."
Diplomats: Iran Wanted Parts for Covert Nuke Program
Thursday, June 10, 2004
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