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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

1 posted on 08/03/2004 9:00:45 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

2 posted on 08/03/2004 9:03:03 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

U.S. Vows Tough Stance On Tehran, But Will Europe Follow?

August 03, 2004
Radio Free Europe

Prague -- In perhaps the strongest signal yet of Washington's emerging policy on Iran, Bush administration officials say Tehran must be "confronted" and "isolated" over its nuclear activities -- and not "engaged."

Bush and White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice made it clear on 2 August that Washington intends to intensify international pressure on Tehran for failing to cooperate fully with the IAEA -- the nuclear watchdog agency of the United Nations.

But whether European nations engaged in negotiations with Iran are prepared to go along with that hard line remains unclear, even after Tehran announced this week it would not honor a pledge it made with them to suspend some nuclear-related activities.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Bush said the United States and the European Union's "big three" members are working together to ensure there is, quote, "full disclosure, full transparency of [Iran's] nuclear weapons programs."

"We are paying very close attention to Iran, and we have [been paying attention] ever since I've been in office here," Bush said. "We are working with our friends to keep the pressure on the mullahs to listen to the demands of the free world."

Later, in an interview on Fox television network, Rice intensified the U.S. rhetoric, saying the regime in Iran "has to be isolated in its bad behavior, not 'engaged.'"

She added that Washington is working with the Europeans on what she called "a very tough set of resolutions" demanding Iranian compliance on the nuclear issue.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently warned Iran that its case is likely to be referred to the UN Security Council for failing to meet IAEA commitments. A Security Council resolution could lead to sanctions on Iran.

But asked whether France would go along with U.S. plans to increase pressure on Iran, Rice said Washington will "just have to keep working with the French and the British and the Germans to make certain" that they follow the American position.

Whether they will is far from clear.

Analyst Steven Everts of London's European Center for Reform says there is growing frustration in Europe over Iran's failure to live up to vows that it has made on its nuclear activities. But Everts says Europe is unlikely to accept purely negative sanctions against Iran, noting that decades of similar sanctions have sparked n-o change in countries like Cuba.

"The only thing the Americans are putting on the table are further pressure, isolation, and sanctions -- and possibly more down the road," Everts said. "Europeans say Iran's a complex place; different people want different things. It should be possible to construct some form of positive incentives as well, whereby you say to the Iranians: 'If you accept denuclearization and the verification of denuclearization, here's what you can get in return, also from the United States.'"

A study released in July by the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York policy institute, also urged the United States to offer more incentives and fewer punishments as it seeks to effect change in Iran.

But the tough talk from Washington on 2 August appeared to reject the recommendations of that study, which also called for more engagement with Iran.

The Bush administration's warnings came after Iran announced that it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which the United States says are intended to enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told a news conference in Tehran on 31 July that Iran would respect a pledge -- made in October to Britain, France, and Germany -- to suspend all uranium-enrichment-related activities.

But he added that a separate deal on halting centrifuge-building would not be respected: "[Based on our agreements in October], we have accepted [suspending] uranium enrichment and we are continuing that uranium-enrichment suspension based on our definition -- meaning that we have not restarted enrichment. But we are not committed to our agreement in Brussels in February on halting building centrifuge parts, because the three big European countries have failed to meet their commitments toward us. We said we could resume making centrifuges. As previously announced, we have started building centrifuge parts at our factory after we took the decision."

Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which signatory countries vow to refrain from acquiring atomic weapons and can be punished by Security Council action for violations.

The oil-rich Persian Gulf state denies any interest in nuclear weapons, saying it needs enriched uranium for nuclear power stations to meet increasing domestic demand for electricity.

3 posted on 08/03/2004 9:03:58 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Dropping Low Profile, Israel Goes on Offensive Against Iranian Nukes

August 03, 2004
Leslie Susser

JERUSALEM -- After months of keeping a low profile on Iran’s nuclear program, Israel has launched an intensive diplomatic campaign to convince the international community to pressure Teheran to drop its efforts to produce a nuclear bomb.

Israeli officials say the campaign, involving the United States, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency, is focusing on a September meeting of the IAEA board of governors in Vienna. That body has the power to refer the “Iranian nuclear dossier” to the U.N. Security Council, where international sanctions could be imposed.

The Israeli diplomatic move has been accompanied by a veiled threat of attack on Iranian nuclear facilities if the international community fails to stop Teheran’s nuclear weapons drive. But the Iranians, undeterred, are continuing to pursue an ambivalent and potentially military nuclear program.

Like Israel, the United States is seeking stiffer international action. The E.U. position has been less decisive, however, and it is not clear whether the union will back a U.S. demand for sanctions. Europe’s position could be crucial. Israel stopped its public criticism of Teheran after Iran and Libya intimated a readiness late last year to cooperate with the international community in dismantling their nuclear weapons programs.

At the time, Israeli experts said Libya was serious, but they didn’t trust Iran. Still, given the new situation and not wanting to draw attention to its own alleged nuclear capabilities, Israel decided to adopt a low profile on Iran, and let the United States and Europe take the lead in pressuring Teheran to drop its nuclear weapons drive.

Now Israel feels the international community has not been firm enough, and has allowed Iran to get away with a pretense of cooperation while clandestinely furthering its nuclear ambitions.

In late June, Israeli leaders decided to change tack. As a first step, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom initiated a July 2 meeting in Washington on the Iranian issue with the U.S. national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

Afterward, Shalom declared that the international community “cannot allow the Iranians to move forward in their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.”

Less than a week later, the IAEA’s director general, Mohammed El-Baradei, came to Israel, where all his interlocutors, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, stressed the danger to world peace of nuclear weapons in Iranian hands.

On July 22, when the E.U.’s foreign policy boss, Javier Solana, visited Israel, his hosts made sure his itinerary included a meeting with Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who provided Israeli intelligence material purporting to show Iran’s nuclear duplicity.

The day before, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon (Farkash) Ze’evi, briefed the Cabinet, delivering an assessment — immediately made public — that unless Iran was stopped, it would go nuclear by 2007 or 2008.

Hawkish legislators Ephraim Sneh of the Labor Party and Ehud Yatom of Likud took their cue.

“If the international community continues to show ineffectiveness, Israel will have to consider its next steps — and fast,” Sneh said.

Yatom was more explicit.

“Israel,” he said, “must destroy the Iranian nuclear facility just as we did the Iraqi reactor in 1981.”

Earlier there had been what appeared to be a calculated leak to the press. On July 18, the London-based Sunday Times reported that the Israeli Air Force had completed military preparations for a pre-emptive strike at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility and would attack if Russia supplied Iran with fuel rods for enriching uranium.

An Israeli defense source, who confirmed that military rehearsals had taken place, was quoted as telling the paper, “Israel will on no account permit the Iranian reactors — especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help — to go critical.”

By breaking its silence on Iran, Israel was indicating that it does not take the Iranian threat lightly — and neither should the West. Beside the obvious warning to Iran, the subtext of the Israeli message seemed to be directed at the international community: Act to stop Iran going nuclear or Israel may feel it must take preemptive military action, with all the potentially destabilizing consequences.

Then, on July 29, Israel conducted a successful test off the California coast of its Arrow 2 anti-missile system. Some observers saw the test as yet another message to Iran: In a conflict situation Israel would have the overwhelming strategic advantage of being able to intercept and destroy incoming missiles, another reason for Iran to reconsider its nuclear program.

The Iranians, however, are showing no signs of backing down. On July 25, Seyed Masood Jazayeri, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, warned that if Israel attacks, “it will be wiped off the face of the earth.”

A week later, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi confirmed that Iran had resumed building centrifuges that can produce weapons-grade uranium. His statement followed a meeting in Paris in which Britain, France and Germany failed to persuade Iran to stop making the centrifuges and allow spot inspections of its nuclear facilities as promised.

The Europeans had offered to close the “Iranian nuclear dossier” if Iran cooperated with spot inspections and stopped all production of weapons-grade uranium. But Iran has been delaying the inspections, and — though it repeatedly has insisted that it was not making weapons-grade uranium — it acknowledged that it was continuing to make centrifuges that could be used for uranium enrichment. It also has said nothing will stop it from joining the world’s nuclear club.

Like Israel, the United States maintains that Iran is dissembling, pretending to run a civilian-use nuclear program while clandestinely conducting a full-scale nuclear weapons drive. With huge oil reserves, U.S. officials note, Iran hardly needs nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

Israeli officials say much will depend now on how the Europeans respond to the latest Iranian rebuff in Paris, and what line they take at the September IAEA board meeting. If they back the American position, the result could well be a U.N. Security Council debate on a joint resolution threatening Iran with sanctions.

That would be a new phase in the international community’s efforts to stop Iran from getting the bomb. And if that happens, Israel may feel that its new more aggressive campaign had something to do with it.

Leslie Susser is the diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Report.

4 posted on 08/03/2004 9:04:47 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

5 posted on 08/03/2004 9:05:32 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran unbending on nuclear hard line
By Safa Haeri

PARIS - Continuing its policy of confrontation, the Islamic Republic of Iran confirmed on the weekend that it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, but at the same time said it was still holding back on enriching uranium, although this assurance is open to serious doubt.

"We still continue suspension on uranium enrichment, meaning that we have not resumed enrichment," Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazzi said at the end of talks with his counterpart from neighboring Azerbaijan, adding, however, that Tehran was not committed to any agreement with three European powers - the United Kingdom, France and Germany - on not building centrifuges.

An Iranian government spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, said that since the Europeans did not fulfill promises to close Iran's nuclear dossier at the energy agency's June meeting, Iran felt no obligation to abide by an agreement that demanded Iran suspend manufacturing and assembling parts used in nuclear activities.

Officials from the European Union's "big three" met with an Iranian delegation in Paris last Thursday and Friday, and emphasized their wish to see a halt to Iran's work on the nuclear fuel cycle.

Washington strongly suspects Iran is using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons project. It has been lobbying for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, to refer Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

According to contacts who spoke to Asia Times Online, the Iranians resumed enriching uranium on June 19, contrary to the official line that they had suspended this activity.

The weekend talks in Paris were to prepare the ground for a September meeting of the board of governors of the IAEA, which is expected to discuss Iran's program.

Neither the Iranians nor the Europeans would comment in detail on the latest talks, although some sources described them as "tense, but frank". A spokesman for the British and German foreign affairs ministries expressed "displeasure" at Iran's attitude, saying that they "do not understand the Iranian moves".

However, the hardline evening daily Keyhan, one of the mouthpieces of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, said on Saturday in Paris that the European trio demanded that Iran should agree to "never get out of the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty]" and inform the UK, France and Germany "systematically and in an orderly manner" about its nuclear activities.

"According to a four-page document, Iran would reiterate Britain, France and Germany's right of concern over any deviation by Iran from its peaceful atomic activities to military purposes," the paper said under the title, "Does majlis [parliament] know?"

Observers told The Asia Times Online that considering the position of Hoseyn Shariatmadari, the editor of the newspaper, a high-ranking intelligence officer specializing in interrogating political and intellectual dissidents and an advisor to Khamenei, who has the final word on all major issues, "he has easy access to confidential and classified documents".

Iran was also required to cooperate with the UK, France and Germany for detente in the Middle East on the one hand and fighting terrorism in the region on the other, and also coordinate the control of all its imports and exports with the three above-mentioned powers, Keyhan reported.

"What the Europeans are asking Iran is tantamount to an unconditional surrender, worse than any of the agreements the Western colonial powers imposed on Iran under the dark eras of the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties," Keyhan added, deliberately twisting history by not mentioning that the agreements it mentioned were imposed by czarist Russia on the Qajar kings.

The United States, Israel and some European governments claim that the final aim of the ruling Iranian ayatollahs is to use civilian nuclear projects for producing the atomic bomb, an allegation that Tehran rejects forcefully, insisting that the projects are mainly for producing much-needed electricity.

But they do not explain that if this is the case, why then not use natural gas to build electrical power stations, as Iran has the largest reserves after Russia and it is much cheaper, cleaner and safer than atomic processes, particularly one based on the aging and less reliable Russian technology that Iran uses?

"We were holding these [Paris] talks to reach further understanding and create more confidence in the direction that we are not seeking nuclear weapons," Kharrazzi said. "At the same time, we will insist on our legitimate rights," he added, referring to building nuclear-powered electrical plants.

"Each side was holding firm on its earlier and stated positions. It was deceiving, but no one was expecting any real breakthrough," the source told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity.

Diplomats in Vienna revealed last week that Iran had broken seals inspectors the IAEA had placed on installations at the huge Natanz site, 350 kilometers south of Tehran, designed to enrich uranium hexafluoride, which, when processed in centrifuges, can be enriched to low levels for power generation or high levels for nuclear weapons.

Experts say that while one needed 2,500 centrifuges to produce military-grade uranium, Natanz could accommodate 5,000 units.

"The Iranians might be telling the truth that they are not making the atomic bomb, but the fact is that their civilian programs are so sophisticated that very quickly, maybe in less than six months, they could also be used for military purposes," another source told Asia Times Online on condition not to be named for security reasons.

Talking to reporters during his recent tour of the Middle East, US Secretary of State Collin Powell made it clear that US patience on the issue was running out, saying "it is more and more likely" that the matter will have to be referred to the Security Council.

"Now Iran has made it clear that they do not intend to abide by all of those commitments, my three foreign-minister colleagues [in Europe] are concerned about this and they are working on the problem, and I stay in close touch with them. But I have made it clear to them that we believe they must insist on their commitments being met. And they have to factor it into any other actions the European Union might be thinking of taking, either in the economic sphere, the political sphere or elsewhere. It is a very troubling development," Powell said.

Coupled with a flurry of recent statements by lawmakers from the conservatives-controlled majlis, as well as articles in hardline newspapers, Kharrazzi's ambiguous announcement reflects Iran's growing displeasure with Europe's "Big Three".

"The Americans and their European allies are preparing the ground for the silent overthrow of the Islamic Republic on the pretext of the Iranian nuclear file, using it as a pressure instrument," warned Keyhan.

While threatening that they would not ratify the Additional Protocol to the NPT, hardline members of the majlis also press the government constantly to defy both the IAEA and the Europeans, expel UN inspectors and resume uranium enrichment.

"The protocol - that allows nuclear inspectors to visit all Iranian nuclear sites, installations and projects at any time and without restrictions - had been imposed on Iran by the evil chain made of the IAEA, the Americans, Europeans and Zionist lobbies, despite all international laws and regulations, including the IAEA's rules," Keyhan wrote, adding that the final objective of Europe's "Big Three" was "nothing less than destabilizing the Islamic Republic".

Last week, Mohamoud Mohammadi, deputy chairman of the majlis' Foreign Policy and National Security Commission, warned that the ratification of the Additional Protocol was "conditional to the IAEA approving our use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes".

"The fear is that the Additional Protocol could be used as a tool for political pressure. If they treat our dossier in a purely technical fashion, then we will cooperate," he said, adding, "The majority of my colleagues in the parliament think this way."

And on Monday, the official IRNA news agency published an interview with Mohammad Mousavian, head of foreign policy of Iran's Supreme Council on National Security, warning that "either Europe agrees to close Iran's file at the IAEA and transfer nuclear technology to Iran - in response Iran will ratify the Additional Protocol - or we cancel all previous agreements." He added that in the present circumstances, if the matter of signing the protocols were raised in majlis (controlled by the conservatives), it would be thrown out.

8 posted on 08/03/2004 9:14:16 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn

LABOR: Nurses Postpone Their Protest Rally

The nurses’ association postponed a protest rally planned for Wednesday after receiving assurances from the authorities that their demands for better pay and unified work rules would be met, an activist nurse tells Radio Farda.

Radio Farda Newsroom

August 2, 2004 - Head of the nurses’ association said a protest rally had been planned for Wednesday has been postponed, considering the promises nurses have received from the Islamic government authorities about raises and work rules improvements. Nurses had planned to demand for unification of work rules in hospitals operated by various government entities and different provinces.

“We had received permission for the rally, but considering the promises we received and after an internal opinion poll, it was decided to postpone the rally,” activist nurse Mojtaba Mousavi tells Radio Farda’s broadcaster Farin Asemi.

12 posted on 08/03/2004 9:38:13 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: F14 Pilot

Allawi still plans to visit Iran soon: spokesman

Xinhua, China
August 4th, 04

BAGHDAD, Aug. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi didnot cancel his visit to Iran, the Baghdad newspaper quoted hisspokesman as saying on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister intends to determine a date for his visit toIran in his coming tour, which includes a number of Islamic andArab countries, said Hirmis Sada, adding Allawi is keen ondeveloping positive relations between Iraq and Iran. Sada denied reports that Allawi had cancelled his Tehran tour,saying that such wrong news could harm the interests of Iraq andthe good relations between the two neighboring countries.

Media reports said earlier that the Iraqi Prime Ministercancelled his visit to Iran because of sharp differences betweenthe two countries, especially concerning the Iranian interferencein the Iraqi interior affairs.

Allawi did not deny some differences between the two sides, butthey would be settled diplomatically according to the interests ofboth and security of the region, Sada stressed.

24 posted on 08/04/2004 3:14:36 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn

Kerry, the EU and Iran

August 04, 2004
The Washington Times

In his quest for the presidency, John Kerry has sought to portray President Bush as someone with a mindless contempt for our European allies and the United Nations. The way to achieve success in Iraq, Mr. Kerry says, is to elect a president "who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side." In a Dec. 3 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry said that, if he were elected president, he would "go to the United Nations and travel to our traditional allies to affirm that the United States has rejoined the community of nations." This, Mr. Kerry would have us believe, is far superior to Mr. Bush's approach to dealing with Saddam Hussein — one which did not win the approval of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac or Gerhard Schroeder.

One would never know it from listening to Mr. Kerry, but his approach has been tried by the Europeans for more than a year in an attempt to halt Iran's nuclear program. It has been an abject failure, while Mr. Bush's more assertive foreign-policy approach has achieved some important successes.

Mr. Bush, for example, ended any possibility that Saddam Hussein could build more weapons of mass destruction and intimidated Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi into ending his WMD programs. By contrast, diplomats representing the EU 3 (Britain, France and Germany) said Sunday that talks in Paris produced "no substantial progress" in restricting Iran's nuclear activities. On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi announced that Iran has resumed building centrifuges to enrich uranium for atomic weapons.

Over the past year, the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a series of reports documenting Iran's illicit nuclear weapons programs. During this period, the Bush administration has reluctantly deferred to the Europeans' desire for a softer approach to Iran.

While this has been taking place, Mr. Kerry has actually attacked the Bush administration for being too tough on the dictatorship in Iran. In his Dec. 3 speech, for example, he said: "It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that this administration refuses to broker an arrangement with Iran." Mr. Kerry touted the EU's effort as a superior alternative to the Bush approach. In February, Mr. Kerry's national security issues coordinator, Rand Beers, accused the Bush administration of blocking U.S.-Iranian talks. That same month, the Kerry campaign sent a letter to the Tehran Times (a mouthpiece for Iran's Islamist government) suggesting that the Bush administration is to blame for many of the world's problems.

Mr. Kerry's formulation is quite simply false. When it comes to Iran policy, the fundamental problem thus far is that Washington has deferred to Mr. Kerry's ideological soulmates in Europe, whose diplomatic approach to Iran has yielded absolutely nothing and given the regime more time to develop nuclear weapons. There are few better recent illustrations of the bankruptcy of Mr. Kerry's foreign-policy approach.

33 posted on 08/04/2004 8:20:51 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran's Nuclear Challenge

August 04, 2004
The New York Times
Editorials / Op-Ed

The invasion of Iraq, which President Bush has often said would help stabilize the Middle East, is now hindering efforts to deal with a real nuclear threat: Iran. Despite its ritualistic denials, Iran gives every indication of building all the essential elements of a nuclear weapons program. And while the United States has hoped to pressure Iran into halting that program, the government in Tehran has clearly concluded that it has little to fear for now from an American government whose diplomatic credibility has been damaged and whose military capacities have been stretched by the war in Iraq.

Given Washington's unsatisfactory options right now, the best choice is to support Britain, France and Germany as they search for a diplomatic settlement. The chances of success do not look good; the European initiative has had minimal results and seems to be losing ground.

Iran announced on Saturday that it had resumed the construction of centrifuges that are capable of producing material for a nuclear bomb. Tehran says it is still honoring a pledge not to operate any of these centrifuges, but it proclaims its right to resume enrichment at any time.

There would be little reason for Iran to take the provocative step of restarting centrifuge construction now unless it also intended to resume operations at some later date. And since there are other, safer ways for Iran to get the less-enriched uranium used in power-producing reactors, it is fair to presume that Iran means to use the centrifuges to produce bomb fuel.

Constructing uranium centrifuges is, regrettably, legal under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Using them to produce fuel for bombs is not. Diplomacy can resolve this issue only if both sides ultimately want a deal, and it is not at all clear that Iran's ruling clerics do. They may just be playing for time to develop their enrichment capacity before quitting the nuclear treaty and building bombs.

The tone of Iran's dealings with the outside world has changed for the worse since early this year, when hard-line clerics seized control of Parliament by excluding many of their once-formidable reformist rivals. That shut down an experiment in partial democracy that many hoped would eventually lead to less confrontational foreign policies, like decisions to close the nuclear program and end support for terrorist groups. Since then, Iran has stepped up its meddling in Iraq, stopped trying to improve its abysmal human rights reputation and turned more belligerent in the nuclear negotiations with Europe.

Britain, France and Germany want Iran to renounce, permanently and verifiably, all technology capable of making nuclear bomb fuel. In exchange, they offer an equally firm commitment to use outside suppliers to guarantee an adequate supply of uranium for civilian power reactors. Such a deal could work only if Iran returned the spent fuel to the outside suppliers. Otherwise, plutonium could be extracted from it and reprocessed to make nuclear weapons. Unless Iran changes its position and forswears all rights to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium, there can be no deal.

For want of a better alternative, Europe is right to give Iran a little more time to change its mind. But the world cannot afford to wait long. Once the new centrifuges are completed, Iran's ambitions will become much harder to contain. If no agreement is reached soon, this apparent drive to build nuclear weapons should be recognized as a threat to international peace and security and taken up by the United Nations Security Council later this year.

34 posted on 08/04/2004 8:21:44 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Martyrs, Virgins and Grapes

August 04, 2004
The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof

The virgins are calling you," Mohamed Atta wrote reassuringly to his fellow hijackers just before 9/11.

It has long been a staple of Islam that Muslim martyrs will go to paradise and marry 72 black-eyed virgins. But a growing body of rigorous scholarship on the Koran points to a less sensual paradise - and, more important, may offer a step away from fundamentalism and toward a reawakening of the Islamic world.

Some Islamic theologians protest that the point was companionship, never heavenly sex. Others have interpreted the pleasures quite explicitly; one, al-Suyuti, wrote that sex in paradise is pretty much continual and so glorious that "were you to experience it in this world you would faint."

But now the same tools that historians, linguists and archaeologists have applied to the Bible for about 150 years are beginning to be applied to the Koran. The results are explosive.

The Koran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Koran, and there's growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.

For example, the Koran says martyrs going to heaven will get "hur," and the word was taken by early commentators to mean "virgins," hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant "white" and was commonly used to mean "white grapes."

Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown. But the scholar who pioneered this pathbreaking research, using the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for security reasons, noted in an e-mail interview that grapes made more sense in context because the Koran compares them to crystal and pearls, and because contemporary accounts have paradise abounding with fruit, especially white grapes.

Dr. Luxenberg's analysis, which has drawn raves from many scholars, also transforms the meaning of the verse that is sometimes cited to require women to wear veils. Instead of instructing pious women "to draw their veils over their bosoms," he says, it advises them to "buckle their belts around their hips."

Likewise, a reference to Muhammad as "ummi" has been interpreted to mean he was illiterate, making his Koranic revelations all the more astonishing. But some scholars argue that this simply means he was not "of the book," in the sense that he was neither Christian nor Jewish.

Islam has a tradition of vigorous interpretation and adjustment, called ijtihad, but Koranic interpretation remains frozen in the model of classical commentaries written nearly two centuries after the prophet's death. The history of the rise and fall of great powers over the last 3,000 years underscores that only when people are able to debate issues freely - when religious taboos fade - can intellectual inquiry lead to scientific discovery, economic revolution and powerful new civilizations. "The taboos are still great" on such Koranic scholarship, notes Gabriel Said Reynolds, an Islam expert at the University of Notre Dame. He called the new scholarship on early Islam "a first step" to an intellectual awakening.

But Muslim fundamentalists regard the Koran - every word of it - as God's own language, and they have violently attacked freethinking scholars as heretics. So Muslim intellectuals have been intimidated, and Islam has often been transmitted by narrow-minded extremists.

(This problem is not confined to Islam. On my blog,, I've been battling with fans of the Christian fundamentalist "Left Behind" series. Some are eager to see me left behind.)

Still, there are encouraging signs. Islamic feminists are emerging to argue for religious interpretations leading to greater gender equality. An Iranian theologian has called for more study of the Koran's Syriac roots. Tunisian and German scholars are collaborating on a new critical edition of the Koran based on the earliest manuscripts. And just last week, Iran freed Hashem Aghajari, who had been sentenced to death for questioning harsh interpretations of Islam.

"The breaking of the sometimes erroneous bonds in the religious tradition will be the condition for a positive evolution in other scientific and intellectual domains," Dr. Luxenberg says.

The world has a huge stake in seeing the Islamic world get on its feet again. The obstacle is not the Koran or Islam, but fundamentalism, and I hope that this scholarship is a sign of an incipient Islamic Reformation - and that future terrorist recruits will be promised not 72 black-eyed virgins, but just a plateful of grapes.

35 posted on 08/04/2004 8:22:22 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Tehran's Tyrants

August 04, 2004
Nir Boms and Reza Bulorchi

Legal rulings in other countries do not often make headlines in the United States. But two recent verdicts in Iran have made democracy activists, both in America as well as around the world, sit up and take notice.

Last week, Hashem Aghajari, whom the Iranian Supreme Court had sentenced to death, had his sentence changed to a five-year prison term following appeals and a rare, direct intervention from Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Aghajari had made comments during a June, 2002, speech that were used by Iran's hard-line judiciary to launch a new front against Iran's embattled "reformist" faction. In his speech, Aghajari took a jab at the very foundation of Iran's theocratic regime, stating that Muslims were not "monkeys" who should blindly follow the teachings of senior clerics.

Aghajari was charged with "insulting the prophets" and with questioning Khamenei's rule. While it is astonishing that one of their "own" (Aghajari was a close confidante of Iranian President Mohammed Khatami) earned for himself a death sentence simply with a verbal assault against Iran's theocratic establishment, one can only imagine what happens in closed trials to those outside the establishment, like students and political activists, who are struggling to bring about real change.

Aghajari's case struck a chord with the Iranian student movement and triggered a grassroots campaign to reverse the court's decision. At Tehran University, some 1,200 students denounced "the medieval verdict" and signed a petition for Aghajari's release. Their action woke up the Iranian parliament, prompting 178 deputies to issue an open letter that called on Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, to overturn the verdict and allow Aghajari to go free. Following these events, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a rare order for a re-trial, resulting in Aghajari's sentence reduction from death to five years imprisonment.

Aghajari's was not the only Iranian trial to make world headlines this month. Following the Kafkaesque trial of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist and murder victim Zahra Kazemi's, the judge acquitted last weekend the only man charged in the case. The 54-year-old Kazemi was arrested in June of last year for taking pictures outside Tehran's notorious Evin prison. She died from a brain hemorrhage after being struck with a blunt object during interrogation.

Under intense pressure from the West and after warnings from the Canadian government, which later recalled its ambassador from Tehran, Khatami released a statement before the trial, asking the judiciary to identify "the real guilty person." But as a second round of hearings opened, Canadian, Dutch, and British diplomats were bluntly told to stay away. The trial judge then concluded that the suspect, Mohammad Reza Ahmadi, a junior agent, was innocent of any wrongdoing and that Kazemi's death was the result of "an accident" that occurred when she fell in her prison cell.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, a member of Kazemi's defense team, has accused Iran's judiciary of a cover-up. The Kazemi case, however, did focus much attention, long overdue, on the plight of Iranian political prisoners in interrogation rooms.

These two cases provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the Iranian "justice" system, and into the struggle between the ruling clerics and those forces calling for change and reform. On Monday, dozens of political prisoners in Tehran's Evin Prison ended a three-week hunger strike commemorating the July, 1999, Iranian student uprising, demanding the release of all political prisoners. Meanwhile, the mullahs' "justice" system was on full display; in the past few weeks, several people were hanged in public.

But as the struggle for justice continues to unfold in Iran, it is important to note the growing cracks in the mullarchy's wall of injustice. The world's increasing focus on Iran, particularly in light of its role in destabilizing Iraq and developing nuclear weapons - not to mention its ties to Al-Qaeda - provides a constant reminder of Iran's core problem: a fundamentalist regime that will do anything to maintain its grip on power.

Tens of thousands of reform-minded young Iranians-and not the mullahs- are the ones willing to offer a different vision of Iran to the world. The United States, Europe and those concerned about democracy must therefore continue to pressure Iran and increase their engagement not with the regime of today, but with those who are willing to lead the regime of tomorrow.

Nir Boms is a co-founder of the Pulse of Freedom Initiative and a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Reza Bulorchi is the executive director of the U.S. Alliance for Democratic Iran.

36 posted on 08/04/2004 8:23:11 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


NY Post

August 4, 2004 -- YOU don't see much about it in the media, but what is happening on the Iraqi po litical scene these days may well be more important than images of car bombs and kidnappings that have dominated the headlines for the past few months.

The first noteworthy event is the formation of an Iraqi electoral college, to be known as the national congress. Under the plan, around 1,000 prominent citizens from all walks of life, all ethnic communities and all regions will come together to elect a 100-member body that will act as an interim parliament for the newly liberated country.

Contrary to the wishes of many Iraqis, the 1,000 members of the electoral college will not be directly elected by the citizens. But since there is no central authority to impose its choices on the people, it is certain that those who will end up as members will enjoy some genuine popular support.

In other words, the members will "emerge" from their respective constituencies. All this is modeled on the Afghan tradition of Loya Jirga (High Assembly), the gathering of senior tribal, religious, business, cultural and political leaders, convened at crucial moments of the nation's history to decide the way ahead.

The 100-member interim parliament to emerge from the congress will tackle several important issues. It will prepare the final draft of a new constitution that would have been approved by the congress, and will establish the modalities of submitting it to a referendum. It will also finalize the rules under which elections for a full parliament are to be held.

Those who follow the political, as opposed to the media, side of the Iraq story these days are impressed by the moderation and maturity shown by almost all segments of Iraqi society. Intellectuals, merchants, tribal chiefs, clerics, politicians, trade unionists and leaders of numerous non-governmental groups are coming together to develop a culture of debate, compromise and consensus in an atmosphere of openness never known in Iraq before.

The interim government has helped foster that atmosphere by lifting the ban imposed by the now defunct coalition authority on a few publications, including Muqtada al-Sadr's weekly mouthpiece. It has also made it known that ordinary members of the banned Ba'ath Party will be allowed to play a role in building a new pluralist system.

The interim government decided to start the process of creating the congress after it became clear that the United Nations, which was supposed to organize and lead the entire exercise, is unwilling or unable to do so.

The U.N.'s excuse is that its staff needs protection against terrorism. But it does not want that protection to come either from the U.S.-led Coalition forces or from forces controlled by the interim Iraqi government. And since no other country has offered troops for the proposed 4,000-man U.N. protection unit, the whole exercise is in abeyance.

It is clear that many key members of the United Nations — notably Russia, Germany, China and France — are playing for time until after the U.S. presidential election. Having opposed President Bush's policy toward Iraq from the start, they are reluctant to come in and help make it a success.

All that should change after the American elections. If Bush is re-elected, his opponents would know that they can't afford to moan and sulk for four more years. If John Kerry wins, the powers that had opposed Bush could claim a role in Iraq without having to eat humble pie.

The Iraqis, however, have wisely decided not to wait for the United Nations (which they neither like nor trust). They have decided to go ahead with the elections plans, effectively rendering the U.N. role academic, at least at this juncture.

It is important that the interim government stick to the timetable for ending the transition. Iraq urgently needs elections to bestow legitimacy not only on its developing government structures but also (especially) on the pluralist system it needs for its survival as a nation-state.

The Iraqi political leaders are aware of the unique opportunity that a combination of factors has provided for them to build a modern nation-state based on unity in diversity. Despite the ongoing terrorist campaign, the interim government must not be tempted into reviving the institutions that turned Iraq into a republic of fear. Prime Minister Iyad al-Allawi's attempts at portraying himself as a law-and-order man with an iron fist may be profitable in tactical terms, but would be counter productive from a longer-term point of view.

The terrorists in Iraq, like anywhere else in the world, use violence precisely because they lack popular support. If they had such support, nothing would prevent them from organizing mass demonstrations, creating political parties and associations and contesting the forthcoming elections. But because they know they can never win in any free election, these practitioners of terror and violence are doing all they can to prevent elections. They are also trying to provoke the interim government into becoming like them, that is to say killing people at random solely to instill fear.

The aim of the terrorists is to establish moral equivalence between themselves and the new Iraqi political leadership. They want to create a situation in which they can say: Look, we are both the same, we both kill! And then they could claim further that they are killing on behalf of an abstract ideal, say pan-Arabism or pan-Islamism, while the new Iraqi leadership is killing "for the Americans."

The new Iraqi leadership, which includes all shades of the political spectrum except the terrorists, should not fall into that trap.

To be sure, Iraq (like any nation) needs an intelligence service and a counterterrorism force, an army and a police force. But, if perceived solely as means of using violence against adversaries, all that would be ineffective in terms of proper political power.

40 posted on 08/04/2004 3:23:10 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

34 Months vs. 444 Days: There Jimmy Carter Goes Again, Blaming America for His Failures

by Robert W. Tracinski (July 27, 2004)

Summary: Those looking for "a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations" might be tempted to remember, not the past 32 months, but the 444 days of the Iran hostage crisis, when Carter stood passive and paralyzed, his only attempt at action ending in a pathetically under-supported, doomed rescue mission. If one were to look for a moment at which America lost credibility and respect in the world, this would be it.


If one were forced to choose low point of Jimmy Carter's presidency, it might be his July 15, 1979, "national malaise" speech. The country was suffering under inflation, recession, and an "energy crisis"--and we were about to undergo the national humiliation of the Iran hostage crisis. But what was Carter's diagnosis of America's problem?

It was not his policies that were to blame. The problem was the American people, who had suffered an inexplicable "crisis of confidence":

"We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America."

The problem, in his mind, was neither the discredited socialist programs of the left or his weak and vacillating leadership. The problem was that we weren't strong enough to make his policies work, so we had to be scolded for allowing ourselves to succumb to a "national malaise." (Carter didn't actually use that phrase, which was coined by one of his advisors, but the speech came to be known by that title.)

Last night, before the Democratic National Convention, Jimmy Carter repeated that historic feat of evasion.

He began the body of the speech by declaring the need for "honesty" in our leaders. Ironically, the rest of the speech is a study in dishonesty, as Carter expects us to ignore the pressing and urgent threats of today, the evidence of history, and the record of his own career.

Repeating his theme of 1979, Carter thinks that the main threat to America's security is ourselves: "Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism." But what about the terrorists-and what actions do we need to take to combat them? The terrorists appear in this speech only in two indirect references; their attacks are treated like an accident or natural disaster, not as the actions of an enemy who must be fought.

Instead of clear and concrete action against the enemy, the only foreign policy goal Carter advocates is friendly relations with other nations. "A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations."

Those looking for "a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations" might be tempted to remember, not the past 32 months, but the 444 days of the Iran hostage crisis, when Carter stood passive and paralyzed, his only attempt at action ending in a pathetically under-supported, doomed rescue mission. If one were to look for a moment at which America lost credibility and respect in the world, this would be it.

It was also the moment that created the terrorist threat we face today. It allowed an Islamic theocracy to establish itself in Iran, becoming the leading sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East for the last 25 years. And it showed a generation of Muslim fanatics that terror attacks and hostage taking-the very strategies now employed by our enemies in Iraq-could defeat America.

In short, Carter presided over the most important foreign-policy failure in the last quarter of a century. Yet he has the temerity to project its results onto the policies of the current administration.

Even worse, he asserts: "Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice." Which policies? Overthrowing a brutal dictatorship in Iraq? Destroying a bloodthirsty theocracy in Afghanistan? No, the liberated millions in those two countries are ignored. The only "recent policy" Carter regards as worth thinking about is the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib-which was not, despite Carter's smear, a "policy."

Carter then gets more brazen, blaming Bush for Clinton's failure to achieve peace by rewarding Palestinian terrorists. "The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril." But the "progress" made by Clinton was only an escalating series of terrorist attacks against Israel-and the craven deal he brokered was smashed to pieces by Arafat four years ago, before Bush even took office.

He ends on the biggest whopper of the evening: "Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace, a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein, has been allowed to advance unheeded." Does anyone remember who brokered the 1994 deal in which the Clinton administration agreed to provided food and oil to North Korea, in exchange for its promise not to develop nuclear weapons-a promise the North Koreans promptly broke, allowing them to threaten us with a nuclear bomb today? That's right: it was Jimmy Carter.

This is the same psychological projection Carter employed in 1979. Back then, he suffered a crisis of confidence that left him paralyzed before the fateful challenges of the day-yet he projected his malaise onto the America people. Over the years, he championed a policy of appeasement that squandered America's power and respect in the world-yet he projects that result onto those who advocate any element of American assertiveness. And he is the one willing to obfuscate the facts to justify his feckless policies.

Well, there he goes again. Let's hope the American people don't find his evasions any more convincing than they did 25 years ago.

41 posted on 08/04/2004 3:31:14 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

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43 posted on 08/04/2004 9:01:57 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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