Concerns Grow over Al Qaeda, U.S. Election
All Things Considered NPR (audio link)
Aug. 6, 2004
Is al Qaeda planning attacks that could influence the November presidential election in the United States? Some say political reverberations from the March pre-election bombing in Spain can only embolden terrorist planners. But it's unclear which U.S. candidate al Qaeda would like to see in the White House. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reports.
Michael Ledeen is included in the debate.
Report: N. Korea, Iran closer to nukes
KENNEBUNKPORT, ME, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The New York Times reports that U.S. intelligence experts believe that Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs have advanced in the past year.
Officials told the Times that Bush administration efforts to negotiate with North Korea and Iran or to enlist European allies have at most slowed nuclear weapons development a little.
The newspaper also said that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the former head of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, had helped the two countries get closer to nuclear self-sufficiency. That makes using covert operations or sanctions less likely to slow or stop Iran or North Korea's weapons development.
It quoted an unnamed senior official who said, "It's a much harder thing to accomplish today," said one senior American intelligence official, "than it would have been in the 90's."
Gholam Shire'i: Agressors Will Pay Dearly for Their Crimes
Aug 7, 2004, 11:49
The Iranian majlis spokesperson known as "Gholam Shire'i" in majlis condemned the renewed U.S. attacks on the holy city of Najaf.
Gholam Shire'i reminded that this was not the first time the U.S has desecrated holy sites in Iraq, and said the aggressors will surely pay dearly for their crimes. By attacking the holy cities and sites in Iraq the US is challenging the entire Muslim world, not merely their governments and international entities, he added.
The official also said the renewed attacks on Iraq's holy cities have deeply hurt all Muslims, who are now calling on the occupiers to leave the country and to let the people live in peace and security.
Behind the veil of Iran's shooter is a frustrated gymnast
The Star Online
August 8th, 04
TEHRAN: The only woman athlete Iran is sending to the Athens Olympics is under no illusions of winning a medal in her sport of shooting. In fact, she admits the sport is not her real passion.
ôIf the dress code was not an issue, I would have preferred to stick with gymnastics. I've been doing that since the age of three, Nassim Hassanpour, a petite 19-year-old told AFP.
With the Islamic republic viewing tight-fitting leotards as unsuitable public attire for women, Hassanpour is instead restricted to any sport that can be played wearing the obligatory headscarf and long coat. This rules out sports such as gymnastics, swimming, track and field athletics or beach volleyball.
Instead she chose shooting the air pistol on a 10 metre range. And in a gesture of slight rebellion, Hassanpour may be covering up her frame in beige, rather than the ubiquitous black.
She never took shooting seriously, even though it was on the curriculum in the sporting high school she attended in her hometown of Tabriz, northwestern Iran.
ôI am crazy about animals û I have two pet dogs û and I always associated shooting with hunting, she said while training in her run-down Tehran basement shooting range.
Eventually her talent was spotted three years ago, and her career launched.
Hassanpour was eager to exploit the opportunity to travel abroad, something that many of her compatriots are unable to do due to financial and visa restrictions.
Rather than having a passion, Hassanpour says simply she has acquired a taste for the sport.
Still, facilities for women athletes are sorely lacking in Iran, she complains. And even when they do compete, competitions are held behind closed doors and away from the prying eyes of the media meaning sponsorship deals are impossible to come by.
I've spent all my savings and borrowed from my mother to get by. My monthly allowance of 1,350,000 rials (US$150) is four months overdue, she explained, adding that working as a private rollerblading coach has also helped top up her income. AFP
This just in from a student inside of Iran...
Teachers protested today in front of ministry of education to demand the release of their arrested colleagues."
Iranian Diplomat Reportedly Held in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Militants in Iraq (news - web sites) said Sunday they had taken a top Iranian diplomat hostage, according to video shown on the Arab-language Al-Arabiya television station.
The video showed a bearded man identified as Faridoun Jihani speaking to the camera, though his voice was not audible. The video also showed nine forms of his identification, as well as his passport and a business card identifying him as the "consul for the Islamic Republic of Iran in Karbala," a southern Iraqi city.
The kidnappers, who called themselves the "Islamic Army in Iraq," accused Jihani of provoking sectarian war in Iraq and they warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq's affairs, according to Al-Arabiya.
The kidnappers did not appear to threaten Jihani and made no demands, according to the report.
Jihani would be the second senior diplomat taken hostage in Iraq in recent weeks. Mohammed Mamdouh Helmi Qutb, an Egyptian diplomat, was abducted July 23 outside a mosque in Baghdad and freed unharmed July 26.
The Stealth Nuclear Threat
Newsweek ^ | Aug. 16, 04 | By Fareed Zakaria
Posted on 08/08/2004 4:58:29 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
War of words mounts between Iran and Iraq
AFP - World News (via Iranmania)
Aug 8, 2004
TEHRAN - A war of words between Iran and Iraq intensified on Sunday, with the foreign ministry in Tehran now saying it was not prepared to discuss serious issues with Baghdad's interim authorities.
In the latest blow to relations, Iran's foreign ministry said Sunday it was summoning Iraq's top diplomat here over claims that four Iranian spies have been arrested in Baghdad.
"Today we are going to summon the Iraqi charge d'affaires to the Iranian foreign ministry, and we are going to ask him to give us proof," spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
"He should tell us whom they have arrested and if they have proof to give us," he added, saying Iraqi officials should also "stop creating a bad atmosphere" between Iran and Iraq.
On Saturday a spokesman for the Iraqi interior ministry said four Iranian intelligence officers had been arrested by Iraqi authorities on suspicion of spying and carrying out acts of sabotage in the country.
Asefi also snubbed a call from Iraq's interim Defence Minister Hazem al-Shaalan, who has been widely lambasted in the Iranian press, that Tehran immediately return Iraqi planes sent to Iran before or during the 1991 Gulf War.
"We will discuss these (issues) with the coming elected government officials, and not with the interim government," Asefi said in what amounted to a major snub.
Iran has yet to formally recognise the Iraqi interim government, which has been described by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as "lackeys" of the Americans.
Shaalan said in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Anbaa that Iran should send back 130 planes "now".Tehran has insisted that it was holding only 22 Iraqi planes which Saddam Hussein's regime sent to Iran to avoid attacks by US-led forces liberating Kuwait and that it was ready to return them if asked by the United Nations.
Tensions between Iraq and Iran have mounted in recent weeks, after Shaalan told The Washington Post he had seen "clear interference in Iraqi issues by Iran" and accused Tehran of taking over some Iraqi border posts and sending spies and saboteurs into Iraq.
He also alleged that Tehran was working "to kill democracy" in his country.But Asefi said Iran wanted to hear from Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi "that what the Iraqi defence minister said has been manipulated and it was not like that."
"We are hopeful that in the future we will not witness such irresponsible comments. The Iraqis should be vigilant. Iraq should not be the place for crisis building," Asefi said.
"We have announced one too many times that we are not interfering in Iraq. We are looking forward to the security and stability of Iraq," he added.
Ties have also been strained over Saddam's trial, with Iran complaining that his use of chemical weapons against the Islamic republic during their 1980-88 war was left off the charge sheet.
In addition, Iran wants the issue of war reparations to be addressed.And Tehran has also voiced alarm over the reported presence of Israeli agents in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.
Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar has also advised Iran not to interfere in Iraq's affairs, but without accusing it of doing so.
He said that Iraq maintained "friendly relations" with Iran and stressed it was "in the interest of Iraq and Iran that bilateral relations be balanced, healthy and positive".
Iraq's prime minister has previously announced his intention to visit Iran, but has yet to receive an official invitation. Asefi only said a visit "was on the agenda".
"But we are not going to send a delegation there" to invite him, the spokesman added.
Rice Says World Is Determined to Prevent a Nuclear-Armed Iran
The New York Times
August 8, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With Iran stepping up its nuclear program, a top White House aide said Sunday the world finally is ``worried and suspicious'' over the Iranians' intentions and is determined not to let Tehran produce a nuclear weapon.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice also said the Bush administration sees a new international willingness to act against Iran's nuclear program. She credited the changed attitude to the Americans' insistence that Iran's effort put the world in peril.
She would not say whether the United States would act alone to end the program if the administration could not win international support.
Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, announced a week ago that his country had resumed building nuclear centrifuges. He said Iran was retaliating for the West's failure to force the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to close its file on possible Iranian violations of nuclear nonproliferation rules.
Kharrazi said Iran was not resuming enrichment of uranium, which requires a centrifuge. But, he said, Iran had restarted manufacturing the device because Britain, Germany and France had not stopped the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
``The United States was the first to say that Iran was a threat in this way, to try and convince the international community that Iran was trying, under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, to actually bring about a nuclear weapons program,'' Rice said on CNN's ``Late Edition.''
``I think we've finally now got the world community to a place, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to a place, that it is worried and suspicious of the Iranian activities,'' she said. ``Iran is facing for the first time real resistance to trying to take these steps.''
Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union address, included Iran with North Korea and Iraq in an ``axis of evil'' dedicated to developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
Since then, North Korea has publicly resumed its nuclear development program. In Iraq, invading U.S.-led forces have found no such programs after President Saddam Hussein was deposed.
Iran announced in June that it would resume its centrifuge program. Afterward, the U.S. official whose job is to slow the global atomic arms race, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, told Congress that Iran was jabbing ``a thumb in the eye of the international community.''
On NBC's ``Meet the Press,'' Rice reasserted that the world has fallen in line on Iran and said she expects next month to get a very strong statement from the IAEA ``that Iran will either be isolated, or it will submit to the will of the international community.''
She also said, ``We cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon. The international community has got to find a way to come together and to make certain that that does not happen.''
Iran re-starts cracking down on Music
AFP - World News (via Iranmania)
Aug 8, 2004
TEHRAN - The judiciary in the western Iranian province of Hamedan has ordered that anyone caught playing thumping tunes in their cars should be subject to jail terms or lashes, the official news agency IRNA said Sunday.
"Playing any type of music loud in the vehicles is regarded as a crime and violators will be dealt by legal measures," the agency quoted Hamedan province's judiciary as saying in a statement.
"The creation of any noise or racket, or unusual behaviour that disturbs public order and calm are considered crimes which deserve imprisonment from three months to one year with 74 lashes," the statement said.
The playing of loud music, particularly of the pop type, is frowned upon across the Islamic republic and often strictly controlled. But punishments usually amount to no more than a temporary confiscation of a car or a fine.
Western music has also been censored here since the 1979 Islamic revolution.The judiciary in Hamedan is considered particularly hardline. In 2002, a court there sentenced prominent dissident Hashem Aghajari to death for blasphemy after he said Muslims were not "monkeys" and should not "blindly follow" religious leaders.
That death sentence has since been quashed by the Supreme Court in Tehran.