One year ago today, I began this thread.
Like many observers of the Middle East, I had looked forward the July 9th, 2003 demonstrations scheduled in Iran. I knew the students of Iran chose the date (July 9th) because it was the anniversary of the 1997 crack down on students where thousands of young people were imprisoned or disappeared.
I also knew the people of Iran were weary of their government. I knew that the people longed for freedom and a secular democracy.
But I was surprised that the demonstrations started a month early (Jun3 10, 2003).
So I began threads discussing the developments as they occurred. The demonstrations grew. The student leaders were arrested, demonstration after demonstration. As a result, when July 9th finally arrived, the people were leaderless and the much anticipated summer revolution fizzled.
Now a year has passed.
The world is much different now. Irans neighbor Iraq is beginning to experience the kind of freedom that Iranians long for. Democracy is being discussed throughout the Middle East.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is desperately trying to destroy the progress being made in Iraq, even going to the extent of soliciting suicide bombers to attack our troops in Iraq. The Mullahs of Iran are increasingly becoming more aggressive. They are threatening the United States, training terrorists in their capital and apparently actively pursuing nuclear weapons. They even felt the need to rig their already rigged elections to ensure their ultra conservative members replace the conservative members in their parliament.
But apparently there are limits to the level of repression the Mullahs of Iran can impose on the Iranian people.
For instance, a few months ago the people of Iran ignored the orders of their Supreme leader and celebrated ancient Zoroastrian celebrations. They did so largely as a means of protesting the regime and the regime backed down. More recently the regime backed down on a death sentence of a dissident academic (Hashem Aghajari). The protests were so great and Aghajaris defiance so courageous that the regime eventually backed down and removed the death sentence.
All this does not speak well for the future of the Mullahs of Iran. They know there are limits on what their public will accept. They cannot even trust their own military and security forces. The regime has to import security personnel from Lebanon, Syria, and more recently the Sudan. They are trying to intimidate their citizens. But the presence of these foreign security forces is an insult to the Iranian people.
Once again the Mullahs are attempting to arrest the student leaders prior to July 9. They have arrested some, but this time it appears that the students are not being drawn into a fight before they are ready. If all goes well, this July 9th may be the start of a nationwide series of protests against their regime. This could become the summer the regime falls.
Today people are in awe that Ronald Reagan was able to predict the collapse of the Soviet Empire. But Ronald Reagan also described Iran "one of the frontiers of freedom today," adding that those frontiers would be extended in the future.
It is important that our government and those of our allies support the people in their quest for freedom.
President Bush: Faster Please!
G8 Unveils Plan on WMD, Warns on N.Korea, Iran
Wed Jun 9, 2004 08:16 PM ET
By Caren Bohan
SAVANNAH, Ga. (Reuters) - The world's major powers endorsed a plan on Wednesday to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and singled out North Korea and Iran for concern.
Leaders of the Group of Eight -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia -- agreed on a one-year ban on the transfer of equipment and technology for uranium enrichment and reprocessing.
But the G8 "action plan" fell short of some of the goals laid out by President Bush in a major speech on proliferation in February and some analysts said it was too modest.
Pressed by the United States, however, the G8 -- holding its summit in Sea Island, Georgia -- had harsh words for North Korea and Iran in their statement.
They called on North Korea to abandon its weapons program and reiterated a commitment to nuclear talks among six countries -- North and South Korea, Russia, China, the United States and Japan.
"We strongly support the six-party process, and strongly urge (North Korea) to dismantle all of its nuclear weapons-related programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner," the statement said.
On Iran, the leaders stopped short of adopting the U.S. position, which is that there are grounds for suspecting that the Islamic republic is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
But the group urged cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and said that despite some progress, Iran was still dragging its feet on full disclosure.
"While we acknowledge areas of progress reported by the (IAEA director), we are, however, deeply concerned that Iran's suspension of enrichment-related activity is not yet comprehensive," the statement said.
"We deplore Iran's delays, deficiencies in cooperation and inadequate disclosures," the statement said.
The United States has been trying to urge Russia to suspend its plans to build a $800-million reactor at Bushehr. While Russia is still going ahead with the plans, it did give Washington a concession by insisting that Tehran meet the calls for cooperation by the IAEA.
While U.S. officials touted the action plan as one of the major accomplishments of the summit, Robert Einhorn, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the initiatives were not sweeping enough.
"If what the administration was trying to do was to make major gains on non-proliferation initiatives, they have fallen short of that and had to settle for watered down versions of their proposals," he said.
For example, Einhorn said, rather than suggesting a one-year ban on the transfer of nuclear weapons technology, Bush in February suggested an outright ban on it.
He also noted that the "global partnership" to fight proliferation has not yet reached its goal of raising $20 billion, having raised about $17 billion so far.
Key EU nations want Iran's answer on IAEA questions
AP , VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Thursday, Jun 10, 2004,
Key European nations presented a draft resolution that would censure Tehran for not answering key questions raised by a UN atomic agency investigation into Iran's secret nuclear program.
The confidential document "deplores" the fact that Iran's "cooperation has not been complete, timely and proactive," a diplomat said on Tuesday, quoting parts of the proposed draft written by France, Britain and Germany.
At the same time, the diplomat said, the draft "acknowledges Iranian cooperation" in granting agency inspectors access to locations including "defense industry" sites -- essentially military bases.
In an allusion to Pakistan -- which indirectly supplied much of Iran's covert nuclear program through renegade scientist A.Q. Khan -- the draft calls on the "full and close cooperation of third countries" to clear up Iran's nuclear ambiguities.
Diplomats close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) say Pakistan has refused to allow IAEA experts to independently take samples that would test Iranian assertions that traces of weapons-grade uranium found in Iran came from equipment bought from Khan's network.
If the IAEA cannot match up isotope samples from Pakistan and Iran, it cannot verify whether Iran's version is accurate or a cover-up to hide the fact that it conducted experiments to enrich uranium to the levels used to make nuclear warheads.
IAEA diplomats are preparing for a 35-country review of Iran's suspect nuclear program.
The diplomats said the draft resolution -- circulated informally among delegations representing the IAEA's 35 board member nations ahead of their meeting Monday -- also focused on Iran's centrifuge program, the other main outstanding issue in the IAEA's more than yearlong probe.
After initial denials, Tehran has acknowledged that it had researched advanced centrifuges capable of uranium enrichment. But it denies suggestions it wanted to embark on full-scale enrichment using the equipment, despite IAEA findings showing that it had bought thousands of parts far in excess of what it would have needed only for research.
The draft, whose language could change before it is formally presented at the board meeting, called on Iran to "work proactively to enable to agency to gain a full understanding" of the scope of its P-2 centrifuge program.
It also urged Tehran to rethink plans to build a uranium conversion plant and heavy water reactors.
U.S. Favors Iran's NPT Exit
Jun 9, 2004, 22:28
The United States is mounting pressure on Iran to persuade the country to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to have the pretext for pushing Iran before the United Nations for sanctions, a university professor says.
"Iran's exit from NPT is exactly what the United States and its allies are following up. It will give them the pretense to report Iran to the UN Security Council," Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh told PIN in an interview. "The United States has been seeking to tell the world that Iran is producing atomic weapons. In the meantime, this country has failed to offer any evidence," he said, calling on the Iranian authorities to strip the United States of any pretext.
Mojtahedzadeh who heads London-based Eurosevic Institute gave a positive assessment of Iran's nuclear programs. However, he said, Iran's nuclear programs are subject to "ambiguity-mongering". The academic said the International Atomic Energy Agency had "illegally" published its report about Iran. "We should not close our eyes on this significant issue and we should file a complaint." "Iran should be cautious if it has the intention of resuming uranium enrichment," he said.
"Iran is hesitating to create nuclear industries and therefore the country needs to arrange the affairs before using P-2 centrifuges," he added. "Re-enrichment of uranium will be meaningful as long as Iran does not arrange its P-2 technology." Two Iranian deputies warned that the new parliament would consider pulling the Islamic republic out of a key nuclear arms control treaty if the IAEA is deemed to be too pro-American.
"If the IAEA again acts in the way that the Americans want and if the big powers use the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pressure Iran, parliament will examine leaving the NPT," MPs Ali Abbaspour and Hossein Nejabat said earlier. The warning comes ahead of a June 14 meeting of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where the body's executive -- the Board of Governors -- are due to review the progress of inspections of Iran's suspect bid to generate nuclear power.
The United States argues Iran is secretly trying to build the bomb, but Iran insists its program is purely peaceful -- even though it emerged late last year the country had for years been covering up sophisticated activities. In the run-up to the June meeting, Iranian officials have been warning the IAEA not to be too harsh, or else risk pushing the Islamic republic's clerical leaders to cut off cooperation altogether.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said last week that Iran's cooperation with the agency had been insufficient but added that he had not drawn any conclusions over the nature of the country's nuclear program. If Iran comes under renewed criticism on June 14 and more doubts emerge over its cooperation, the IAEA board could refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which in turn could decide to impose sanctions.
Journalist Imprisoned for Online Articles
June 09, 2004
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders called today for the immediate release of Abbas Kakavand, who was imprisoned on 7 June for allegedly disseminating "false news" in articles he wrote for the website gooya.com since February after leaving the conservative newspaper Ressalat. His articles criticised corruption and the political payments received by many conservative leaders.
The organisation described the jailing of Kakavand as "flagrant evidence of the systematic violation of press freedom in Iran," and pointed out that "it came just a few days before talks on human rights are scheduled to get under way between the Islamic Republic and the European Union".
"The EU has apparently not yet realised that the situation of free expression has got much worse since this so-called "constructive dialogue" with Iran began more than three years ago", Reporters Without Borders said.
"No journalist is protected from repression, not even those who have worked for one of the most pro-government newspapers. Farsi-language websites, which play a major role in disseminating news, are being monitored more and more closely. The Islamic Republic continues to claim that it adheres to international human rights standards, in which case it should therefore immediately release the 13 journalists currently imprisoned in Iran," Reporters Without Borders said.
Charges were brought against Kakavand at a hearing of the Tehran criminal court on 7 June. The court ordered his immediate imprisonment when he was unable to pay bail of 100 million rials (about 11,600 euros). His articles criticising political corruption had appeared in both reformist dailies and on gooya.com, a very popular site which the authorities blocked along with other reformist sites for several days before the February legislative elections.
He was first summoned by the judicial authorities on 3 April. On the day of his 7 June court hearing, gooya.com published an interview in which he accused most of the conservative political leaders and members of the overwhelmingly conservative parliament of "stealing from the tills of the Imam Khomeini foundation" to finance their electoral campaigns. Hadad Adel, the currently parliamentary speaker, was named.
The Iranian regime censors thousands of websites considered to be "un-Islamic." It also harasses and jails online journalists. But the Internet is flourishing in Iran, online political debates are impassioned and weblogs are spreading fast.
On 22 June, Reporters Without Borders will bring out a report on the "The Internet under Surveillance" which will detail the methods used by the Iranian authorities to control online content. The full report will be available on the Reporters Without Borders website, www.internet.rsf.org.
Now with a total of 13 journalists detained, Iran is the biggest prison for the press in the Middle East
Jerusalem Post - By Barry Rubin
Jun 9, 2004
Last week, I discussed how "solutions" have made things worse in the Middle East because their creators misunderstand the nature of the area's politics. But the region's dominant forces have also ensured the failure of the "clever" plans intended to address their grievances.
Virtually every state in the region is dominated by radical forces or ideas:
In Iran, Libya, and Syria, radicals control the regime.
In countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, regimes propagate radical ideas even if their actions are relatively moderate conservative.
In countries like Jordan and Morocco, governments are held hostage by radical forces which they usually seek to appease.
In every Arab state, the main opposition movement is not liberal democratic, but radical Islamist.
Radical regimes and revolutionary opposition groups are not seeking negotiated compromise solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict or such things as domestic reforms, closer cooperation with the West, or democratic systems for themselves.
Instead, like communist and fascist movements, they have a two-fold strategy:
1. Keep power at home through centralized control, blocking change, and using xenophobic demagoguery to blame problems on others.
2. Engage in a struggle to control the entire region and even, in the jihadist Islamists' case, the world.
But how can they hope to defeat overwhelming forces abroad? In fact, the regimes don't need to defeat America, destroy Israel, or expel Western influence to survive. They must merely convince their people that this battle is the highest priority. Keeping the struggle going is more important than achieving material gains or partial success because their program successfully substitutes hope of ultimate, total victory for the material betterment Westerners mistakenly believe is more compelling.
Looking abroad, their strategy is to wear down enemies by attrition and win over onlookers by propaganda. It:
Creates an intolerable situation of violence, suffering, instability, and complaint, to which adversaries respond with concessions and bystanders with sympathy.
Offers and accepts no compromise solution that might resolve conflicts but would also undermine their power, create domestic dissent, and end the struggle.
Ensures no one else makes such a dangerous compromise agreement, which would allow, say, a peaceful Palestinian state or stable Iraq.
Poses publicly as the victim of a situation they created while acting aggressively to weaken the adversary and provoke more concessions.
Makes but does not implement promises to ensure gains. No matter what they say, Iran is going to get nuclear weapons; Palestinian and Syrian leaders foment terrorism; the Egyptian and Saudi regimes will not stop anti-American incitement.
Encourages the adversary, which it portrays as imperialistic and evil but is in fact restrained and peace-seeking, to offers bigger concessions in an attempt to show its good intentions, end conflict, and ease suffering.
While the radicals view time, tension, hatred, and conflict as serving their interests, the other side thinks it can satisfy them and prove its own reasonableness by rushing toward peace. But the radicals will never be persuaded to cease their hostility.
Lets perspective victims criticize themselves for every real or imagined moral lapse. It does not reciprocate. Others may bemoan the suffering of the perpetrators' people; their own leaders will do nothing to alleviate it.
IS THIS a pessimistic assessment? No. Just like communists and fascists, radicals in the Middle East will lose. Their analysis of both their own societies and those of their enemies is wrong, their goals are too extreme, and the balance of forces is too much against them.
What does a strategy for defeating extremists and creating a more stable, peaceful, democratic, and progressive Middle East require? No fancy plans, instant solutions, or the kind of things that excite foundations and provide people first-class tickets to jet off to luxurious conference sites:
1. Patience. This is going to take a long time. Only after communism was defeated was it possible to reform the Soviet bloc or build democracies in Latin America. We are talking here of a historical epoch of 20 to 50 years.
2. Steadfastness. Only a willingness to wage a long-term struggle can succeed.
3. Fighting back by using everything from force to maintaining one's normal life.
4. Containing extremism by denying it victories, especially a chance to extend its rule to more countries.
5. Encourage alternative forces in the Arab and Islamic world, while understanding that outsiders' influence will be limited and transformation slow.
6. Tell the truth. Lies must be combated and struggle waged on the intellectual battlefield to combat the "useful idiots" (Lenin's term) and fellow travelers who echo the radicals' propaganda.
The battle against radical Arab nationalism and jihadist Islamism involves the willingness to fight for one's rights, to sustain that battle over a long time, to avoid appeasement, and to win possible allies. None of this is glamorous. But history will show that this is what the current era is all about.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) and Turkish Studies.
Iran and the EU 3
According to a report issued last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran continues to respond to inspections of its nuclear facilities with stonewalling and defiance. With the next IAEA board meeting scheduled for Monday in Vienna, the critical question now is whether three EU nations Britain, France and Germany, also known as the "EU 3" are prepared to join the United States in stepping up pressure against the Iranian regime.
Over the past seven months, three IAEA reports have documented Iran's deceptions. In November, the IAEA issued a 30-page report showing that Tehran has been deceiving the international community about its intentions for almost 20 years. In February, the IAEA criticized Iran for promising to provide details about its nuclear programs, but failing to do so.
The latest IAEA report, issued last week, suggests that two months after Iran pledged to suspend its nuclear program, it continues to produce items that can be used to build nuclear weapons. The IAEA suggests that Iran has provided false information about its nuclear program; that it takes repeated requests to pry loose information; and that the information it has provided is not particularly useful. One of the most troubling points deals with Iran's promise on April 9 to suspend production of centrifuge parts. While Iran suspended such activities at three state-run facilities, centrifuge work continued at three private companies. Iran's behavior "fits a long-term pattern of denial and deception that can only be designed to mask Iran's military nuclear program," said Kenneth Brill, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA. "Inconsistent stories and unanswered questions continue to be the hallmark of Iranian cooperation with the agency."
In the days leading up to next week's IAEA meeting, Tehran has sounded unrepentant. The head of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guards warns that the United States is pursuing a policy of "bullying" Muslim nations that "will stir up the hatred of more than 1 billion Muslims" and bring divine wrath upon America.
At issue now is whether Britain, France and Germany, which have been repeatedly embarrassed by Iran's broken promises over the past year, are prepared to take a more assertive stance. Indications are that the EU 3 will oppose any effort by Washington to get the IAEA to go on record declaring Iran in violation of its commitment not to build nuclear weapons. At some point, the European nations will be forced to choose between their commercial interests in engaging the current Iranian regime and the need to give real credibility to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a safeguard against the development of atomic weapons by rogue states. The hour is growing late.
'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.
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."