TEHRAN FEARS POSSIBLE TOUGH MEASURES FROM BUSH
By Safa Haeri
Posted Friday, July 23, 2004
PARIS 23 July (IPS) Is Washington really planning a tough action against the Islamic Republic?
The question haunts many Iranian political analysts inside and outside, with most of them giving a positive answer.
Deducting from what comes out from Washington these last weeks and days, I seriously would say that the Bush Administration is considering serious measures against Iran, one prominent analyst told Iran Press Service on condition of anonymity.
He was referring to the latest report released on Thursday 22 July by the bi-partisan, independent 9/11 Commission pointing to contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al-Qaeda operatives.
According to the 19 months long investigations, the Islamic Republic allowed eight to 10 of the Sept. 11 hijackers to pass through its territory on their way from Afghanistan and other countries without stamping their passports.
"We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government", the commissioners said, adding however that no evidence had been found that the Iranian government was aware that the terrorist network was planning the attacks on New York and Washington.
The internet newspaper Baztab that belong to Mr. Mohsen Rezai, the former Commander of the Revolutionary Guards has warned that the report might serve (the Americans) as a pretext for preparing a military action against the Islamic Republic.
The report also says that there are signs indicating that the Iranian supported Lebanese Hezbollah organisation had a role in the bombings in 1996 at the Khobar Towers housing complex in Dharan, Saudi Arabia.
Following the operation, American press, quoting unidentified intelligence community sources, cited a high-ranking Revolutionary Guards officer as the coordinator of the Khobar attack.
President George W. Bush on Monday said Washington was probing the possibility that Tehran had offered assistance to some of the terrorists who conducted the 11 September attacks against the United States.
The United States is investigating possible ties between Iran and al-Qaeda, and wants to know if the Iranian government played a role in the attacks, President Bush said, adding, "We will look to see if the Iranians were involved".
However, he made it clear that there was no definite proof yet that this had occurred, and he didn't mention any possible consequences for Iran.
Shooting back, former Iranian president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Friday 23 July that the United States created al-Qaeda to destabilise the Islamic Republic and Americans should blame their government for failing to uncover the plot and protect Americans instead of pointing fingers at others.
"Every day, thousands of people come and go. ... Such people usually carry false passports. Moreover, many can illegally cross the border. It has been always like this", Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered as the regimes number two man after Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi said, referring to the report.
Not only the report says it was not certain that the hijackers passed through the country, but also even if it's true that they have passed through Iran, can you really incriminate Iran with this bit of information? he asked worshippers bussed to the traditional Friday Prayer in Tehran amidst chants of "Death to America!"
In fact, the Commission's report points also to "deep institutional failings" and missed opportunities to thwart the hijacking by al-Qaeda of four American airliners crushed on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing more than 3,000 people.
While rejecting all links with the al-Qaeda, Tehran has admitted the arrest of up to 450 operatives of al-Qaeda that had fled Afghanistan immediately after the massive military intervention of American forces.
However, the Islamic Republic is suspected to shelter some senior al-Qaeda leaders, including Sad Ben Laden, the elder son of Osama Ben Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda and Saif al Adl, the Organisations intelligence boss.
Commission Chairman Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said of Iran and al-Qaeda, "We know of a relationship. We don't know how deep that relationship is and whether it exists to this day".
The Shiia Muslim Iran was at odd with the staunchly anti-Shiate Taleban who had killed nine Iranian diplomats and a journalist when they stormed the northern city of Mazar Sharif on August 1998.
As well as its concerns about Irans support of terrorism, Washington also accuses the Iranian ruling ayatollahs to be in the process of creating a nuclear arsenal aimed at destroying Israel.
Tehran rejects the charges and insists that the atomic project it has under construction, including facilities for enriching uranium, is for civilian uses, mostly producing electricity.
But both the Americans and the Israelis do not accept the explanations, claiming that the nuclear-powered plant that is under construction in the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr with Russian help is a cover for developing an atomic bomb.
ENDS IRAN QAEDA 23704
Rice says US may not go to war with Iran
www.chinaview.cn 2004-07-24 03:53:48
WASHINGTON, July 23 (Xinhuanet) -- US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on Friday that the decision by the Bush administration to go to war with Iraq did not necessarily entail asimilar war decision with Iran.
"I do not think that the decision to go to war in Iraq necessarily means that you have to make a similar decision in Iran," Rice said during an interview with the National Broadcasting Corporation.
Rice said that every situation was different and Saddam Husseinwas a "unique" circumstance who was accused of defying the international community, and having used weapons of mass destruction.
Moreover, the United States had a regime-change policy toward the Saddam regime, Rice said.
Nonetheless, Rice expressed concerns about Iran's ties to terrorism and its nuclear program. "We have said all along that weare concerned about Iran's ties to terrorism. We have said all along and are working with the international community to deal with the fact that Iran is not living up to its international obligations on its nuclear program," Rice said.
The Sept. 11 commission, in its final report on Thursday, said there was no evidence suggesting any Iranian role in the Sept. 11,2001 terror attacks. Enditem
US highlights Libya as model to solve NKorea, Iran nuclear crisis
TOKYO (AFP) Jul 23, 2004
A top US arms control official Friday urged North Korea and Iran to follow the example of Libya, as Japan and the United States agreed to tighten cooperation on preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.
At a semi-annual arms control meeting in Tokyo, Japanese and US officials reiterated the need for tighter expert-level cooperation to ensure Pyongyang drops its nuclear ambitions, as well as focusing on Tehran's nuclear programme, said a Japanese diplomat who attended the session.
US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, who headed the US delegation, told the half-day meeting that North Korea would only benefit by disarming itself, according to the Japanese diplomat.
Bolton cited the example of Libya, which agreed in December to dismantle the country's nuclear, chemical and biological warfare programs and renounce the pursuit of such weapons.
In return, Washington lifted most sanctions against Tripoli in April.
"I think the point of the Libyan model is that Colonel Moamer Kadhafi, who is the central decision maker in Libya as Kim Jong-Il is the central decision maker in North Korea, took a very calculated look at the status of Libya in the world," Bolton said, repeating his point at a press conference.
"He made a cost-benefit analysis that came to the conclusion that Libya would be much safer renouncing the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. In fact, that was an accurate decision on his part.
"I think the Libyan example demonstrates we can move very quickly" to dismantle weapons of mass destruction and to deliver economic incentives elsewhere, Bolton said.
"That could be a way ahead both for North Korea and for Iran," he said.
The top US arms control official made a similar comment in a brief meeting earlier with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, telling her that "the international community must continue to call on North Korea" to disarm, according to the Japanese foreign ministry.
Bolton, considered one of Washington's most hawkish critics of Pyongyang, said the United States believed there "isn't any peaceful aspect to North Korea's nuclear program."
"I think the ball is in North Korea's court," Bolton said, urging Pyongyang to make a "substantive response" in the next, September round of the six-nation talks, which would bring together the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan, and Russia, to discuss ways to solve Pyongyang's nuclear crisis.
During the Tokyo weapons control meeting Bolton said that Iran must cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has conducted more than a year of inspections related to suspicions it is seeking to develop a nuclear bomb under cover of its efforts to generate nuclear power.
Iran has been the subject of a string of IAEA resolutions criticising its level of cooperation with the IAEA.
In the meeting, Japan reiterated at the meeting that Washington should ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and expressed its concerns over US research on so-called mini-nuke small nuclear weapons, the Japanese diplomat said.
What to do About Iran?
The 9/11 Commission cites limited Qaeda-Iran ties. But has the Iraq invasion strengthened Tehran's hand?
By TONY KARON
Thursday, Jul. 22, 2004
The 9/11 Commission's suggestion that Iran may have had more to do with al-Qaeda than Iraq ever did has prompted a wave of speculation about the possibility of U.S. action against Tehran. The Commission's report notes that some of the hijackers went through Iran en route to the U.S. from al-Qaeda's Afghan training facilities, and that while no operational relationship existed, an element in Iran's leadership may have created a permissive environment for Osama bin Laden's men on the basis that despite their sharp differences they shared a common enemy in the U.S. President Bush earlier in the week suggested these revelations would be looked into, although the U.S. government has obviously been aware of this information for at least the past two years. And neo-conservative ideologues who had first promoted the Iraq invasion took it as an opportunity to put regime-change in Tehran firmly onto the agenda of the next Bush administration (should it win reelection). But despite the enthusiasm of those who most aggressively championed the Iraq war for taking on Iran, the results of the Iraq war may, paradoxically, have actually strengthened the position of the Mullahs in Tehran, by making their cooperation essential to achieving U.S. objectives.
Divining the direction of U.S.-Iran relations has, in recent years, been greatly complicated by the deep policy divisions in both governments. In Tehran, the reins of formal government are held by Islamist reformers who want to extend individual freedoms and achieve a rapprochement with the West. But the real power remains in the hands of conservative mullahs who insist on maintaining an authoritarian clerical regime and who remain innately hostile to the U.S. and its allies. Tension between those two camps has resulted in often confusing signals emanating from Tehran on key security issues, from its nuclear program to its attitude towards al-Qaeda. And the buildup and aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has seen the balance shift more decisively towards the hard-liners.
But just as Tehran is divided over how to deal with Washington, so is Washington split over how to deal with Tehran. The neo-conservative ideologues in the in the Bush administration have never made any secret of their desire to see the U.S. military pursue "regime change" in Tehran next. "Real men go to Tehran" was one of their playful slogans during the buildup to Operation Iraqi Freedom. And they took Iran's inclusion in President Bush's rhetorical "Axis of Evil" as a sign that their agenda might prevail. The neo-con view is that the Iranian regime is incapable of significant reform but is also inherently brittle, and might crumble from within under even minimal application of force. The administration should therefore commit itself unambiguously to a policy of regime-change, and direct its actions accordingly.
The "realist" camp in the Bush administration, as personified by Secretary of State Colin Powell, was deeply skeptical of the Iraq invasion because of the dire consequences they believed it would beget. And on Iraq, they have long advocated greater engagement with the regime in Iran as the only way to address U.S. concerns, insisting that talk of regime-change is hopelessly optimistic and dangerously naïve. This perspective is outlined in a new report from the Council on Foreign Relations whose authors include top security officials from the Carter and Reagan administrations. It argues that the regime in Tehran is basically stable. Nor is direct military intervention by the U.S. in pursuit of regime change a plausible option Iran is three times the size of Iraq, and likely to be as hostile, if not more so to foreign occupation. The U.S. military is already stretched to its limits by its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an attack on Iran would almost certainly spark a mass Shiite uprising against the U.S. in Iraq. Absent options for changing the regime in Tehran by force, they argue, the U.S. needs to expand efforts to win cooperation in areas of mutual concern.
If the Iraq invasion helped tilt the balance in Tehran in favor of the hard-liners, its aftermath had the opposite effect in Washington. The failure of the wildly optimistic projections of the neocons to pan out in Iraq has seen the balance in the U.S. foreign policy shift inexorably back towards the realist camp. Where the State Department had initially been shut out of postwar planning by the Pentagon, by the beginning of 2004 it was effectively in charge of the Iraq mission.
And whereas hawkish ideologues had hoped that the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops and the installation of U.S.-dependent regimes in Kabul and Baghdad would leave Iran feeling surrounded and crank up the pressure on the Mullahs in Tehran, if anything the opposite appears to have occurred. The conduct of the hard-liners from stealing the most recent parliamentary election in broad daylight to their defiant handling of the International Atomic Energy Agency's investigation of Iran's nuclear program and their hardball negotiations with the U.S. over the fate of al-Qaeda leaders in Iranian custody suggests, if anything, that they're feeling rather lucky.
And the reason for their cockiness may rest in the sense that, from a strategic perspective, Iran has been among the greatest beneficiaries of the U.S. military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Both the Taliban regime and Saddam Hussein were bitter enemies of Tehran Iran fought a bloody eight year war with Iraq, and had backed Afghanistan's Northern Alliance against the Taliban and even came close to sending in its own troops in 1998. The U.S. has now disposed of two of Iran's most irksome regional enemies, but at the same time, the security burden inherited by Washington in both places has undermined its ability to apply similar pressure on that country.
Iran's cooperation in its traditional sphere of influence in northwestern Afghanistan has been cited, even by U.S. officials, as essential to the effort to stabilize the country under the new government of President Hamid Karzai. And given Iran's relationships with the most important political groupings among Iraq's Shiite majority, its cooperation there may be essential to help the U.S. realize its basic objectives. Tehran could, in fact, be argued to win either way in Iraq: If democratic elections are held on schedule next January, the resulting Shiite triumph will greatly enhance Iranian influence in Baghdad; but if the security situation prevents elections and the process is bogged down, then U.S. forces remain preoccupied and less able to threaten Iran. Both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, Iranian mischief which they have largely refrained from making could make life considerably more difficult for the U.S. and its allies.
Tehran, for its part, appears inclined to use the al-Qaeda operatives currently on its soil in custody, Tehran claims as a bargaining chip in its dealings with the U.S. It has reportedly offered to hand them over to the U.S. or its allies for interrogation, but only in exchange for some 400 members of the Iraq-based Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iraq-based Iranian opposition guerrilla movement branded "terrorist" by both Tehran and the U.S. But the hawkish element pushing for a policy of regime-change in Washington sees the group as a valuable proxy force to use against Tehran, and opposes handing them over. And the message from the mullahs in Iran appears to be that they won't play ball unless regime-change is taken off the table of U.S. policy options.
Even if the two sides could come to some form of modus vivendi in Iraq, Afghanistan and even on the question of dealing with al-Qaeda which, being an extremely sectarian Sunni movement remains, after all, a natural enemy of the Shiite regime in Tehran even if they share a common enemy in the U.S. it's far from clear that the path of engagement can yield the desired result in terms of Iran's nuclear program. Analysts fear that Tehran may now be racing headlong to build a nuclear weapon despite international pressure to desist, possibly sparking a preemptive military response from Israel, which views any challenge to its presumed nuclear monopoly in the region as an intolerable threat.
Regardless of what transpires in Iraq and in relation to al-Qaeda, developing a coherent policy response to the growing power of Iran may be the top national security priority of whichever administration occupies the White House next January. It's unlikely there will be any easy options.
Former Iran president: Roots of terrorism - in the US
Former Iranian president and the current Expediency Council (EC) Chairman, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday said that terrorism is a problem that has its roots in the West and the US.
Speaking at the weekly Friday Prayers gathering in Tehran University campus, he referred to the US-backed Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO) as responsible for the killing of many Iranian officials. "Even today, the MKO is supported by the US. If it did not have the support of Washington, its members would never have been allowed to stay in Iraq. "The fact that the MKO and supporters of the former dictator Saddam Hussein had been killing innocent Iraqis over the past 10-12 years means they had the support of the US as they would not have been able to continue committing crimes that long," he added, according to IRNA.
Rafsanjani was hopeful the US has learned its lesson from Iraq by now and that this would have an impact on a whole generation of Americans. (albawaba.com)
Rafsanjani Says U.S. Has Only Itself To Blame For 9/11
AFP - World News
Jul 23, 2004
TEHRAN -- One of Iran`s most powerful clerics made a stinging rebuttal Friday of allegations from the United States that the Islamic republic may have been linked to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In his weekly Friday sermon, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani also accused the United States of ignoring Iranian warnings of a growing Al-Qaeda and Taliban threat before the strikes on New York and Washington.
The comments from the charismatic cleric, still one of Iran`s most influential figures, came after a national commission in Washington probing hijackings spotlighted alleged ties between Al-Qaeda and Iran.
The panel said Tehran operatives maintained contacts with Al-Qaeda for years and may have provided transit for at least eight of the 19 hijackers.
Rafsanjani said the allegations had arisen from Washington`s "failure to provide security for its own people, as well as its failure to achieve its aims in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The administration of US President George W. Bush, he said, was made up of "egoists who need to blame other people".
"We are not sure if they are telling the truth. But suppose these eight people did pass through Iran. How many other countries did they pass through on their way to America?" he told thousands of worshippers at Tehran University in a sermon carried live on state radio.
"The big question we have to ask America is, assuming they (the hijackers) passed through Iran, who put them in Afghanistan and who supported them in the first place," he said.
"This is no big secret. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were created and nurtured by America in order to weaken the Islamic Republic of Iran."
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s, Osama bin Laden`s network of foreign fighters was one of the beneficiaries of CIA and Saudi funds channelled through Pakistan`s Inter-Service Intelligence.
The ISI went on to be one of the key backers of the Taliban, which were also recognised by Saudi Arabia and courted by US firms.
Rafsanjani said that during Iranian contacts with US officials, "we said openly that what you created will turn on you and cause trouble for you."
"But they did not pay attention to our advice," he added.
The cleric did not specify when those contacts took place.
Iran and the US severed diplomatic ties after the 1979 Islamic revolution here, but maintain contacts via the Swiss embassy here and have on occasions engaged in secret direct talks.
The US commission said Al-Qaeda and Iranian operatives struck an accord in late 1991 or 1992 to provide training for assaults on Israel and the United States, and terrorist leaders and trainers went to Iran for instruction in explosives.
It said "intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior Al-Qaeda figures" after bin Laden returned to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.
"They have a superficial attitude, and they take people for fools," Rafsanjani said of the latest US allegations.
From 1996 to 2001, Iran was engaged in running weapons and cash to Afghan forces battling the Taliban, whose ranks had been swelled with foreign fighters. It also nearly invaded Afghanistan in 1998 after the Taliban executed a group of Iranian diplomats in northern Afghanistan.
"America cannot ignore its own responsibility and pin its own crimes onto others. They can make these claims, but nobody believes them."
And he also pointed to the continued presence in Iraq of the People`s Mujahedeen, the main Iranian armed opposition group, which was sheltered by Saddam Hussein.
"There is nobody more terrorist than them. But they are under the patronage of the Americans," Rafsanjani alleged. "We hope people of Iraq will bring them back to their senses for at least one generation."
Rafsanjani was Iranian president from 1989 to 1997, and currently heads the Expediency Council, the Islamic`s top political arbitration body.
Public expression of gratitude toward Senator Rick Santorum
Jul 23, 2004
Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran (SMCCDI)
by Amir Taheri
July 23, 2004
July 23, 2004 -- SERGIO Vieira de Mello, the U.N. envoy killed by terrorists in Baghdad al most a year ago, was no cynic. But he recognized cynicism where he saw it. Soon before his tragic death, he described attempts at putting the United Nations at the center of things in Iraq as "a cynical ploy" by powers not prepared to give it meaningful support.
De Mello had been sent to Iraq with instructions to steer as clear of the Americans as possible. He was even ordered to refuse American military protection for himself and his staff. The Americans were lepers to be avoided at all cost.
So when the terrorists arrived to destroy the U.N. building and kill de Mello and dozens of his staff, there was no one to stop the tragedy.
A year later, the lessons of de Mello's fate remain unlearned.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has named a new envoy to Baghdad: Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, an experienced diplomat and Pakistan's ambassador to Washington. And once again the United Nations insists on going to Iraq not as a partner of the U.S.-led Coalition and the newly installed interim Iraqi government, but as what would amount to an official opposition to both.
It would be criminal to send Qazi and his staff to Baghdad where, deprived of adequate protection, they would be easy targets of the terrorists.
For the U.N. to treat the Coalition as lepers is bad politics, to say the least. The United States and its 33 partners account for some 60 percent of the U.N.'s total budget. The Coalition is made up of nations from all continents, including two of the five veto-holding members of the Security Council.
Yet the U.N. bureaucracy insists that no one associated with the Americans should have a role in protecting its Iraq mission.
It was to avoid the American "lepers" that the Security Council voted seven weeks ago to create a special international force to protect the U.N. mission in Iraq. So far, however, not a single country has offered to join. And the French, Germans and Russians (who had most opposed the use of U.S. troops for the purpose) are not even prepared to contribute money for such a force. Worse still, they are pressuring other countries not to offer troops.
Annan's office speaks of "difficulties to be sorted out." That is not good enough. What we have here is an attempt at sabotaging Iraq's progress toward free elections.
The U.N. mission in Iraq is to help convene a national conference this summer and pave the way for elections by next January at the latest. The clock is ticking and, with a maximum of 24 weeks to achieve its goals, the mission can't afford to waste a day.
Those who are delaying the start of the U.N. mission's work surely know that the most effective means of defeating the terrorists and stabilizing Iraq is the creation of a government chosen by the people in free and fair elections. Indeed, it is also the shortest route to ending the Coalition military presence.
Thus, those who are trying to sabotage the holding of elections are helping to prolong both the terrorist campaign and the U.S. military presence in Iraq.
According to plans worked out by U.N. experts, Ambassador Qazi's mission would need a protection force of 4,000 men. Is it too much to ask that France, Russia, Germany and China, who do not want the Americans and their allies around, to offer 1,000 men each?
And would it not be nice if Spain's new premier, Jose Luis Zapatero, proposed to send back his country's recently repatriated 1,200 troops to Iraq, this time as part of the U.N. protection force?
Several Arab countries have offered to join the proposed U.N. force. But the Iraqis don't want Arab troops on their soil: Most Arab states have despotic regimes and would lack credibility as protectors of a process of democratization in Iraq.
Ambassador Qazi's own country, Pakistan, is also offering troops. There are reports that President Pervez Musharraf is even prepared to provide all the 4,000 men needed. But Pakistan can't finance such an operation while Russia, China, Germany and France refuse to foot even part of the bill.
And those who refuse to pay also insist that the proposed force not be financed by the Americans, either. As a French spokesman put it the other day, the U.N. force should not be seen as "a U.S.-financed show."
All this leads us to a crucial question: Does Iraq really need the complications caused by the dirty power politics played at the United Nations?
Most Iraqis don't want the U.N. to meddle in their affairs. For them, the U.N. is associated with 13 years of sanctions that wrecked many lives while enriching Saddam Hussein and his Tikriti mafia. Almost daily revelations about the extent of corruption generated by the U.N.-led Oil-for-Food program only add to the mistrust of the Iraqi people.
A discredited U.N. has no legitimacy to bestow on anybody in Iraq. The only way for the U.N. to remake its image in Iraq is to accept the liberation of that country as a positive event and to distance itself from circles that suffer from nostalgia for Saddam's despotic regime.
When all is said and done, the U.S.-led Coalition bears primary responsibility for seeing Iraq through its transition from dictatorship to democracy. The U.N.'s self-inflicted paralysis and the Byzantine games played by the opponents of the liberation do not absolve the United States and its allies of that responsibility.
So far, the Coalition and the new Iraqi leadership have met all the deadlines they have fixed for themselves. A draft constitution was published at the time promised and the handover of power to an interim government completed on schedule. There is no reason why U.N. maneuverings should upset the established timetable for the holding of elections.
The interim Iraqi government should stick to the timetable and hold elections with or without the United Nations.
Those who still regret Iraq's liberation may well hoot and jeer at such elections, as they have done at every measure taken by the Coalition and its Iraqi allies so far. What matters, however, is what the Iraqi people think, and that can only be ascertained through elections.
I'm personally looking forward to the day the Iranian people tear the Shiite mullahs to pieces with their bare hands. I plan to buy the video and watch it again and again. But, that's just me. ;')Iran Protests Enter Third DayHundreds of protesters called for the death of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei as thousands of onlookers watched early Friday, the third day of demonstrations in the capital despite threats by the hard-line regime to crack down to end the disturbances... They shouted chants including, "Khamenei the traitor must be hanged," "Guns and tanks and fireworks, the mullahs must be killed," and "student prisoners must be freed," witnesses said... Before they dispersed, police had prevented some two dozen pro-Khamenei vigilantes on motorcycles - at times chanting "oh the exalted leader, we are ready to follow your instructions," - from confronting the students. Thousands of people looked on, sometimes clapping with the protesters and taking up their chants. Residents near the university hospital left their doors open so that demonstrators could find quick shelter if the authorities cracked down... Khamenei, in a speech broadcast on state television and radio, referred to violence in 1999 when security forces and extremist supporters of hard-line clerics attacked students protesting media restrictions. At least one student was killed and the clash touched off the worst street battles since the 1979 revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah. "If the Iranian nation decides to deal with the (current) rioters, it will do so in the way it dealt with it on July 14, 1999," Khamenei said.
by Ali Akbar Dareini, AP
06/13/03 04:50 EDT
George W. Bush will be reelected by a margin of at least ten per cent
Iran Ranks 2nd in Int'l Physics Olympiad
Jul 23, 2004
Iran's student physics team earning two gold, one silver and one bronze medals, ranked second in the 2004 International Physics Olympiad held this year in Pohang, South Korea.
In the 35th International Physics Olympiad, Mehrtash Babadi and Behrouz Abiri were awarded gold medals. It added that Farhad Pashalu won a silver medal and Hamid-Reza Chalabi brought home a bronze medal.
The Iranian students competed against contestants from 73 countries and teams from China, Iran and South Korea ranked first to third. The Iranian team earned two gold and three silver medals ranking the fourth last year. Meanwhile, during the 2001 International Physics Olympiad, Iranian students ranked the second winning five gold medals.
UK Wants a Piece of Pie of Iran's South Pars Project
Jul 23, 2004,
The British government's export credit guarantee department (ECGD) is continuing its main focus on Iran's oil, gas and petrochemical business, which it hopes will lead to future participation of UK companies in South Pars huge gas field.
In its latest annual report, ECGD listed credit guarantees being approved for nine Iranian petrochemical projects worth a total of pnds 76 million (dlrs 136 m) in the year ending March 2004.
The success follows the UK continuing to support opportunities in Iran agreed under pre-under written limits set for the National Petrochemical Company and has led to several contracts being concluded with small and medium-sized British companies.
The large South Pars 9 and 10 project, which will increase Iran's production of LPG and gas condensate, is nearing conclusion and ECGD said it was supporting the UK element in the contract for goods and service provided by Man and Saltzgitter Trading UK.
I believe he is referring to Iraq. I believe, the Mullahs of Iran must ignite a civil war in Iraq if they are to remain in power. The conflict with Iran is inevitable.
Posted: July 24, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
For at least two years, the Bush-Cheney administration has been demanding that the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors judge Iran to be in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Should the IAEA Board make such a judgment, it would then be obliged to report that to the U.N. Security Council. It would then be up to the Security Council to decide what action, if any, was appropriate.
If the council concluded that Iran's nuclear program constituted a danger to peace in the region, it could pass a resolution that Bush-Cheney could use once re-elected as an excuse to do unto Iran in 2005 what they did to Iraq in 2003.
But first Bush-Cheney has to get IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to report that Iran is not fulfilling its NPT obligations.
The IAEA was made the international "Safeguards" inspectorate under Article III of the NPT.
Each non-nuclear-weapon state party to the treaty undertakes to accept Safeguards [as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency's Safeguards system] for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under the treaty, with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
As it became obvious to Iran and to North Korea that Bush-Cheney intended to invade Iraq purportedly to eradicate Saddam's illicit nuke program they reacted very differently.
The state-run Korean News Service of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea issued this statement on April 6, 2003, just days after Bush-Cheney invaded Iraq.
The United States is gravely encroaching upon the sovereignty of Iraq for the purpose of removing the present leadership of Iraq in defiance of even the elementary international code of conduct and, furthermore, putting the Mideast region under its control.
The present Iraqi crisis teaches a serious lesson: that the imperialists' inspection of weapons in sovereign states leads to disarming, it spills into a war and any concession and compromise with the imperialists allow the sovereignty and interests of countries and nations to be encroached upon and, in the long run, they will fall victim to imperialism.
The U.S. intends to force the DPRK to disarm itself.
The Iraqi war shows that to allow disarming through [U.N.] inspection does not help avert a war but rather sparks it. Neither international public opinion nor the U.N. Charter could prevent the U.S. from mounting an attack on Iraq.
Only the physical deterrent force tremendous military deterrent force powerful enough to decisively beat back an attack supported by any ultra-modern weapons can avert a war and protect the security of the country and the nation. This is a lesson drawn from the Iraqi war.
However, by the time Bush-Cheney invaded Iraq, Iran was already committed to the U.N. inspection route so disdained by the DPRK.
As ElBaradei reported to the board last November, "Iran has committed itself to a policy of full disclosure and has decided, as a confidence-building measure, not only to sign the Additional Protocol making way for more robust and comprehensive inspections but also to take the important step of suspending all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and to accept IAEA verification of this suspension."
Furthermore, Iran thought it had an agreement with UK-Germany-France that by committing itself to that policy and pursuing it, UK-Germany-France would ensure that the IAEA would never make a report of NPT non-compliance to the Security Council.
So last month Bush-Cheney attempted to take things directly to the Security Council. They got the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries which includes UK-Germany-France to demand that Iran comply with the NPT.
How did Iran react to this Bush-Cheney attempt to end-run the IAEA?
They've resumed enrichment-related activities. The Israelis claim they'll have nukes by 2007.
Bush-Cheney also got the G-8 leaders to call on North Korea to "visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle any nuclear-weapons programs."
How did the DPRK react to the Bush-Cheney attempt to end-run the "six-party" talks?
Do the countries styling themselves "advanced nations" like so much to spark the same miserable crisis as that in Iraq?
The paragraphs related to the DPRK in the document adopted at the G-8 summit only provides it [DPRK] with enough justification to increase its [DPRK] nuclear deterrent force for self-defense with the help of strong catalyst.
Report describes bin Laden contact with Iran and Iraq
By Jim Landers
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Posted on Sat, Jul. 24, 2004
WASHINGTON - In 1999, Saddam Hussein apparently invited Osama bin Laden to move to Iraq. In 2000, Iran reportedly "made a concerted effort to strengthen relations" with al-Qaida.
The Sept. 11 commission's report, which describes both overtures, says bin Laden rebuffed them - more from expedience than conviction. There were other times when he found friends in both places.
The 10 commissioners presented their report Thursday. They found plenty of contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq, and with Iran. They found no evidence directly tying either government to the Sept. 11 attacks.
But after learning that Iran and the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah helped several of the Sept. 11 hijackers in their travels, they urged the U.S. government to investigate.
Last month, the commission's staff reported that U.S. intelligence agencies had nothing pointing to a partnership between Iraq and al-Qaida. The conclusion raised a furor because it seemed to undermine one of the Bush administration's arguments for war with Iraq.
Vice President Dick Cheney criticized the finding and said he "probably" had access to intelligence the commission hadn't seen.
Commission chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said they had the same information as Cheney. In Thursday's final report, they put more of it on the table.
In 1990, bin Laden offered to organize an army of Islamic warriors to drive Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait. Later, he sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan.
This animosity faded after bin Laden made Sudan his base of operations. Sudan persuaded the al-Qaida leader to stop supporting activities against the Iraqi regime.
Bin Laden met a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Laden wanted weapons and training camps, but nothing apparently came of the requests.
In 1998, after bin Laden had moved to Afghanistan, more contacts were reported. Bin Laden's deputy, Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, reportedly used his own ties with Iraq to arrange a visit to Afghanistan by an Iraqi delegation.
The next year, after four days of U.S.-British air strikes against Iraq, bin Laden was offered a safe haven in Iraq.
That was all the commissioners found.
Cheney has pointed to a Czech intelligence report of a meeting in Prague on April 9, 2001, between an Iraqi diplomat and Mohammed Atta, the leader of the hijackers and the pilot of the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.
The commission looked at the Czech report about a meeting in Prague but concluded the only evidence that it took place was the Czech government's informant. Other evidence placed Atta in Florida both immediately before and after April 9.
"(T)he available evidence does not support the original Czech report," the commission concluded.
Cheney said earlier in July the Czech report hasn't been proven one way or the other.
The Sept. 11 commissioners reported they had no evidence indicating Iraq cooperated with al-Qaida "in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."
Osama bin Laden's religious beliefs spurn Shiite Muslims as apostates. But he put those convictions aside to establish cooperative ties with Iranian operatives as early as 1991.
The two sides reached an informal agreement covering training and cooperation in actions against Israel and the United States. The Sept. 11 commission concluded this relationship demonstrated that divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims "did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations."
The Sept. 11 commission said al-Qaida might have had a role in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. U.S. investigators have blamed the attack on Saudi Hezbollah and Iran.
Tawfiq bin Attash, a captured senior al-Qaida operative, told U.S. interrogators Iran tried to upgrade the relationship after the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
Bin Attash, also known as Khallad, said bin Laden put off the Iranians because he didn't want to alienate wealthy Saudi supporters. But bin Laden accepted an Iranian offer to help al-Qaida's Saudi members get in and out of Afghanistan.
The Saudi government was confiscating passports of Saudis with travel stamps showing they'd gone to Afghanistan via Pakistan. Iranian border guards were instructed to let Saudis into Afghanistan without stamping their passports.
The Sept. 11 commission said as many as 10 of the Saudi hijackers went through between October 2000 and February 2001. The trips were usually arranged by Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Despite the travel arrangements, the Sept. 11 Commission found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for the Sept. 11 attacks. "This topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government," the commission concluded.
Brookings foreign policy specialist O'Hanlon agreed.
"Iran's the problem. Iran's the big problem," he said.
Push to secure Iraq's borders reveals Iran's concerns
By Susan Sevareid
7:56 a.m. July 23, 2004
CAIRO, Egypt Iran, by offering to host a summit on security for Iraq, is signaling its commitment to stopping the flow of foreign fighters into its neighbor.
The United States has accused Iran of hosting terrorists, including al-Qaeda leaders, and the U.S. Sept. 11 commission said Thursday that Iran had provided safe passage to the al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the 2001 suicide hijackings. Iranian analysts say the security meeting shows the country is concerned about such accusations.
The new cooperation also shows just how much fear there is of an unstable Iraq, a stronger Islamic extremist network and an angry United States in a region where regimes often shelter each other's opponents.
In recent weeks, the United States has stepped up demands on Iran to do more to stop foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq and accused Tehran of meddling.
Tehran does not deal directly with Washington. But in the initiative on Iraq, it is working with such close U.S. allies as Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.
On Wednesday, Iraq proposed an eight-nation conference to discuss the Iraqi infiltration, and Iran agreed to host it. Iraq's five other neighbors and Egypt also will attend, but no date has been set.
Such a gathering in Tehran would be unprecedented after decades of animosity between Iran and some of the nations it has invited including Iraq, with whom it waged a 1980-1988 war. It is expected to be only the first of regular meetings.
Officials realize it may take time for high-level exchanges to have any calming effect on Iraq, where foreign fighters and Iraqi insurgents are fighting U.S.-led forces and the U.S.-backed interim government.
Still, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Europe's envoy to the region both said they were satisfied, for now. The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, who was in Cairo to encourage Iraq's neighbors to help, said "things are going at the pace they can go."
Iranian analysts say Tehran's offer to host the meeting is a message, especially to Washington, that Iran understands al-Qaeda is a threat to Iraq and itself, and it wants the situation in Iraq to improve.
"Iran wants to show that it is willing to have a better and more positive position on Iraq," said Saeed Laylaz, a political and security analyst in Tehran. "It is, of course, a message to the new Iraqi government and the United States (that) al-Qaeda is a threat ... but it is also a card in a game ... (in which) we are trying to keep a very sensitive balance."
Laylaz noted Iran, Iraq and Turkey all have political, ethnic and religious interests in Iraq and a history of supporting each other's opposition groups.
"They are all strong enough to destabilize each other, and they are all threatened by al-Qaeda," he said.
It is in their interest, he said, "to keep each other peaceful and satisfied."
Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a professor of international law and a former Iranian diplomat, said holding the meeting in Iran indicates Tehran can play a key role in Iraq's political development.
Iraq has asked its other direct neighbors as well Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to ensure secure borders, and has said the foreign fighters detained in Iraq include Saudis, Jordanians, Iranians, Syrians and Egyptians.
The biggest problem has been the long, porous borders with Iran and Syria. Also, Iran's influence in Iraq which like Iran is predominantly Shiite Muslim is far greater than Syria's, so it makes sense to have Iran take a leading role in high-level security cooperation, Laylaz said.
Conflicting political, religious and ethnic interests and vastly different relationships with Washington have made it difficult for Arab nations to cooperate on Iraq. The task is compounded by their suspicions of the interim Iraqi government, which Iran and Syria consider a Washington puppet regime.
Zebari said Arab leaders welcomed Iraq's proposal for cooperation because they know that giving militants full rein to flourish now could hurt them in the future.
"They recognize that the situation can backfire on them. There is a limit on how far they can be indifferent," Zebari told The Associated Press. "I made that point very clear to them."
But he acknowledges getting the government ministers and security chiefs together, deciding what steps to take, sharing the necessary information and ultimately getting results on the ground will take time.
In the meantime, Zebari said, Iraq will continue to insist on other, unspecified steps to stem the flow of foreign fighters.
"All of them accepted to work with us on this issue, so it's up to us, really, to go back to them and approach them specifically on our requirements," he said. "And I think they will cooperate."
Iran cautions against attacking it
Tehran, Iran, Jul. 24 (UPI) -- The Iranian Republican Guards deputy commander warned Saturday against attacks on Iran's nuclear installations, which he said will be firmly defended.
"We will respond firmly and by all means to anyone who dares to attack any region of our country," Brig. Mohammed Zou al-Kader said, the Iranian News Agency reported.
He played down as "psychological war" threats and insinuations by the U.S. and Israel that Iran's nuclear facilities could be targeted.
"The psychological war waged against us is aimed at intimidating the officials and stopping Iran from keeping up efforts to acquire nuclear technology for use in peaceful purposes," Zou al-Kader said.
He cautioned Iran has a great defensive capacity "coupled with the revolutionary spirit and courage of the Iranian people who will confront firmly any attack on their country."
Lifting the veil on a modern Iran
By Paul Jacob
THE lobby of the Parsian Hotel is a frenzy of activity. There's a convention in town. Telecommunications, a growth area that's attracting attention. And scores have descended.
Harassed porters try to organise the luggage away from the reception area. But that means less room for those making a beeline for the convention's registration desk: Koreans with a local contact, Germans, more Europeans, Africans. Was that an Australian accent?
Amid the buzz, more arrivals. The crew from an international flight. More luggage.
The adjoining lounge area is equally packed. Groups of threes and fours, others larger. Hurried waiters deliver tea, coffee and cakes.
Sorry, there's no alcohol served here, or anywhere else for that matter, but there's an alcohol-free beer that seems to be popular.
An Iranian woman adjusts her dark blue headscarf, then lights a cigarette. She's across a small table from two men holding documents. They look like they're talking about a company's business plan.
Welcome to Teheran. Capital of one of President George W. Bush's famously labelled 'axis of evil' countries.
It's a Sunday afternoon in mid-July. And good luck to you if you can find a free couple of seats for a sit-down and a coffee. There's a buzz here, a sense of energy. A yearning to 'let's make a deal'.
It's a potential that, in part, brought Mr Goh Chok Tong on an official visit here earlier this month, the first by a Singapore prime minister since 1975.
For the Singaporean or other businessman who isn't here already, the question is: 'Why not?'
Unlike American businesses which have to abide by Washington's long-standing embargo on Iran, there is nothing to stop the Singaporean entrepreneur - bar his own apprehensions and unwillingness to get out there and examine the possibilities.
From the looks of things, there really is a lot happening, and much to get excited about. New condominiums hug the slopes along highways, a new hotel looks to be nearing completion in a downtown area.
It's a whole new frontier and Iran is marketing itself as a gateway to other parts of Central Asia and the Middle East.
Officials in Teheran, clearly unhappy that Washington continues to regard it as a rogue state, have declared that they welcome the increasing economic and commercial contacts with Asia and elsewhere.
Twenty-five years after the Islamic Revolution deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the conservatives who still hold the reins of power do not appear to be as fanatical.
Clearly the younger leaders among them have recognised the realities of having to engage with the modern world, to attract investments and generate jobs.
Their population of over 69 million, of whom two thirds are under 30, demand no less, especially when unemployment among the younger Iranians, aged 15 to 20, hovers at around 30 per cent.
And if businessmen from here don't attempt to get a toe in, or better yet a foothold, they are going to be increasingly behind the pack of many who are already making deals and signing on the dotted line in the lobbies of Teheran's hotels.
Singapore's trade with Iran totalled US$2 billion (S$3.4 billion) last year, much of it being in petroleum products.
But officials on both sides see vast potential, in areas like infrastructure development, construction, food processing, telecommunications, education, tourism and medical services.
The thing for businessmen though - and come to think of it, for others as well - is to first throw off the blinkered view of Iran as some kind of orthodox state where firebrand, bearded clerics enforce stifling laws and where all things foreign are haram.
Or where cloaked women glide two steps behind husbands or peak out of windows from the confines of their homes, avoiding the stares of strangers and foreigners.
Within hours of arriving and wandering around the lively city streets and shopping areas, jokes about hands being chopped off or someone being stoned for an indiscretion begin to wear thin.
The reality is that there are probably far stricter regimes ruling elsewhere in the Middle East.
Iran may well have a conservatives-dominated political structure despite the election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami in 1997, but it by no means appears to be stifling.
Reports say that an estimated three million homes receive satellite TV; this is despite the fact that satellite dishes and receivers are banned officially. Some five million Iranians also reportedly log on to the Internet regularly.
Five days in Iran is by no means sufficient time to get under the country's skin. But as a first-time visitor, the first impressions are anything but negative, the vibes are good.
And that's from being able to wander without official minders in tow. The people were welcoming, the street life active, the parks alive with families and young couples strolling hand-in-hand without any sign of harassment from any kind of 'morality police', and the traffic brought back memories of being back in Jakarta.
And just as the reality of what Singapore is all about is sometimes misrepresented abroad, those from here who have the opportunity should go there and lift the veil, to see and judge Iran for themselves.
Iran delays visit by U.N. rights team
22 Jul 2004 16:46:21 GMT
GENEVA, July 22 (Reuters) - Iran has postponed a visit by a United Nations human rights team that had been due in Tehran next week, the office of the world body's High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Thursday.
A spokesman said Iran indicated that the visit -- led by Diego Garcia Sayan who chairs a working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances -- could take place in October or perhaps before.
There was no immediate comment from the Iranian mission in Geneva on the postponement, but diplomatic sources said the official explanation was that the Tehran judiciary had not been able to coordinate meetings with its officials next week.
The development comes in the wake of a major controversy between Canada and Iran over the trial of an Iranian intelligence official accused of killing an Iranian-born Canadian journalist.
Iran's reformist government on Monday sided with Canadian officials and defence lawyers to accuse the country's hardline judiciary of charging the wrong man with the killing of Zahra Kazemi while she was in custody for taking photographs of a Tehran prison.
The new U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, is Canadian and former chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague.
At her first news conference she told reporters earlier on Thursday that for her "human rights are, above all, a question of justice."
She said that in her work she intended "to focus on the most vulnerable -- the very poor, the imprisoned, the disenfranchised, the targets of intolerance and hatred...."
'They're losing, because hope is spreading' in Iraq
by Dennis Ryan
Pentagrm staff writer
"They're losing, because hope is spreading," secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in a Pentagon press briefing Wednesday.
He and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, held their first news conference in almost a month.
The secretary called the invasion of Iraq a "speedy and skillful display of military power" to get rid of a man -- Saddam Hussein -- who had committed crimes against humanity. He cited the thousands of Iraqis serving in the defense forces and the opening of a stock market as hopeful signs.
Myers told how 39 of the 45 battalions in the Iraqi National Guard are at 75 percent strength. He also said 75 percent of eligible Afghanis have registered to vote. Iraqi insurgents have killed more than 100 civilians and security force members and wounded about 250.
Rumsfeld spoke about the National Guard's terms of mobilization, which is currently set at a two-year limit.
"We don't plan to extend beyond the 24 months, although one should never say never," Rumsfeld said. "We are at war. There is no doubt we have mobilized significant numbers of guard and reserve forces, and that the facts on the ground will determine what we do."
A question was posed about Sen. John McCain stating mistakes were made on the amount of troops used in the war.
"We always came down on the side of the combatant commanders," Myers said. "The answer is not more troops, according to Gen. [John] Abazaid."
Rumsfeld compared the Soviet's introduction of 200,000 to 300,000 troops in Afghanistan to our using "a few handfulls"and then said "the Soviets lost and we won."
The secretary answered a question about using force against Iran's nuclear facilities.
"There have been times when the United States has, for a variety of reasons, made judgements that preemptive actions have to be taken," he said. "We did in Afghanistan."
Myers said foreign fighters were the main opposition in Fallujah and former regime elements are prevalent in Samarra.
The secretary said NATO troops would be involved in security for the upcoming Olympic games as the government of Greece requests the security organization's help and "it's possible it will involve U.S. troops."
Recent revelations revealed Iran gave logistic support to al Qaeda before Sept. 11.
"Iran is on the terror list," Rumsfeld said. "They have been notably unhelpful on the borders. One can surmise Iran would be uncomfortable with democracy in Iraq."