The Threat from Iran - Weekly News Summary
August 25, 2004
Iran va Jahan
A weekly account of Iran in the International Press
Fourth week of August, 2004
Allawi to warn Iran on interference in Iraq - Iraqi Interior Minister
Al-Jazeera Television, Aug. 16 - Iraq's interior minister, Fallah Naqib, said: "The recent developments are a conspiracy and a war against Iraq by a foreign country. The incidents Iraq is witnessing, including in Najaf, are conducted according to a plan and with the briefing of an administration with high capabilities. We have arrested a number of Libyans, Afghans and Iranians who were suspected of involvement in terrorist acts." In answer to a question on Iran's role in Iraq, he said: "Yes, the Iranians have infiltrated here, very much. Allawi will raise this issue with the government of that country."
Interior minister accuses Tehran of destabilizing Iraq
Fars News Agency (state-run), Aug. 15 - Iraq's interior minister repeated his previous claims on Iran, asserting that there are documents and evidence that show some neighbor states are involved in destabilizing in Iraq. In an exclusive interview with the UAE newspaper Al-Ittihad, Fallah Naqib contended that Iran tops these countries, asserting that Iraq is facing a multi-national war which aims to harass the Iraqi people and gain authority over their fate.
Videotape reveals Iranian interference
Al-Iraqia Television, Aug. 15, Iraq - In a press conference, Va'el Abdul-Latif, minister advisor in provincial affairs, stressed that elements who have named themselves supporters of Muqtada Sadr and intend to cause tension and create crisis in Iraqi cities, as well as many (others), including a number of Iranians and Afghans, have been arrested. He stressed that the government will no longer accept any armed individuals or groups and will counter them. He said, "We have a videotape that is telling of this situation."
The videotape showed a number of those arrested, including a 39-year-old Iranian who claimed to be from Mashad. Large numbers of light and medium weight weapons and ammunition with Farsi brands were also visible in the footage.
We have arrested some Iranians - Shaalan
As-Sharq Al-Awsat, Aug. 14 - Iraqi defense minister Hazem Shaalan: "We have arrested some people who are not Iraqis and cannot speak Arabic. They are Iranian and Afghani and after the interrogations end, we will show them on television."
Non-Arabs among 1200 arrested members of Al-Mahdi
Al-Iraqia Television, August 14 - Hazem Al-Shaalan said: 1200 members of the Al-Mahdi Army have been arrested among whom are individuals who do not speak Arabic.
Sistani to Iran: Leave Iraqi people alone
Al-Etjah ol-Akher, Aug. 14 - Khamenei's representative -who is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards' Qods Garrison and the Information office of Palestine, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi affairs office named Nasr- asked Sistani if there was anything he could provide for him. Sistani told him: "Tell the Iranian authorities and officials that the only thing that we need is for them to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs and leave the Iraqi people alone. We will be happy then!" The Iranian authorities had suggested taking Sistani to Iran for treatment but he did not accept.
The region is nervous about Iran - Rumsfeld
US Department of State Website, August 12 - Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld: "The region was nervous about Iran and has been for a couple of decades. You've got a very small handful of clerics running that country. They're developing nuclear capabilities in defiance of the IAEA. They are on the terrorist list. They are active with Hezbollah and funneling terrorist activities down through Damascus and into Lebanon and into Israel. They are unhelpful, distinctly unhelpful in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it's not surprising that countries in the region worry about their behavior. I suspect an awful lot of the Iranian people worry about the behavior of the government as well. And I think that it's an interesting problem, unlike all North Korea which has been more of a closed society, the Iranian people have a very good sense of what's going on in the rest of the world. And they can't help but see that they are being by their government denied the full benefits of interaction with the rest of the world."
Mullahs fear a democratic neighbor
VOA TV, Farsi edition, Aug. 18 - Moqtada Sadr is Kazem Al-Hosseini Al-Haeri's lackey in Iraq. He is a cleric who lives in Iran and is close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Republic.
Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan says Iran-made weapons have been discovered in the hands of criminals who have obtained them via the Iranian border. Adnan Al-Zarouqi, governor of Najaf, says it is clear that Iran supports Al-Sadr's group. Ahmad Al-Rahim, member of the research institute the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington says the clerical regime in Iran intends to halt the shift toward democracy in Iraq and take measures to deviate it. Mr. Rahim says these measures include strengthening Moqtada Sadr, Iran's ideological ally, and the Hezbollah terrorist group. Hezbollah is the product of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and is now present in Iraq, where it recruits. Iran wants to create an unstable and unbalanced situation in Iraq. It doesn't want to have a democracy as its neighbor. It fears that if the Iranian people see it, they might demand democratic reforms even more powerfully.
Kidnapped Iranian diplomat was RGC member
Le Monde, Aug. 17 - Al-Arabia television aired a footage showing the Iranian regime's kidnapped diplomat as a member of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. The video given to the television network showed an international identification card of the regime's abducted diplomat in Iraq as a member of the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Tehran aims to prolong its own rule by sponsoring Sadr
Asharq Al-Awsat daily, Aug. 17 - Moqtada Sadr became bold after visiting Iran. The rule of clerics (in Iran) faces a lethal crisis and they are trying to find a way out, similar to the Iran-Iraq war which prolonged the lives of both regimes.
Iran's rulers found what they sought for creating unrest and chaos in Iraq under the acceptable yet deceitful slogan of freeing Iraq from US Forces, in Moqtada Sadr.
Presently, the Iranian government's only asset is in increasing its presence, that means preventing construction in Iraq and destabilizing its security.
Mullah says Iraqis better die
Baghdad daily, Aug. 16, Iraq - The Iranian government is the origin of war and problems in Iraq. Today, fascism has appeared in Iraq in the attire of religion. Meshkini, who heads Iran's Assembly of Experts, openly declared on Friday that "the Americans must leave Iraq even if half of the Iraqis are killed. Iraq with a population of 10 million is much better than Iraq under the rule of US with a population of 20 million."
Opportunity across border
USA Today, Aug. 16 - U.S. officials say that for most of the year, they have been watching with alarm a buildup of Iranian spies and militants in Iraq. "We are aware that the Iranians have been engaged in some activities in southern Iraq," White House spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday...
"There's been a more aggressive Iranian pursuit of all options in Iraq," says Judith Yaphe, a Middle East expert at the National Defense University in Washington and a former analyst for the CIA who monitors developments in Iraq and Iran. "They are helping a number of elements within Iraq," including al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, she says.
Iran has retained ties to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an anti-Saddam group that was based in Iran until Saddam's ouster. Iran also has links to the Dawa or Islamic Call party, another important Iraqi Shiite group, and to Ahmad Chalabi...
Iran has established clinics and schools in Iraq as part of a campaign of economic aid that competes with U.S. assistance...
Inside the Zarqawi network
Weekly Standard, Aug. 16, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Jonathan Schanzer, Soref Fellow - A memo acquired by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy from Iraqi intelligence sources. provides a first glimpse into the configuration of Zarqawi's Iraqi network, which may be more dangerous than previously imagined. The memo, "Structure of Tawhid and Jihad Islamic Group," details several days of recent interrogations of one of Zarqawi's captured lieutenants. Umar Baziyani, Zarqawi's number four, a member of the Tawhid legislative council, and the "emir" of Baghdad, was captured by U.S. forces in late May 2004. The account of his confessions details the hierarchal structure of Zarqawi's group, its ties to Syria and Iran.....
Baziyani explained to his interrogators that the Zarqawi network received a great deal of assistance from Iran. One Tawhid and Jihad militant, Othman, was reportedly responsible for transferring former Ansar al Islam fighters and other jihadis back and forth from Iran to Baghdad once the U.S. occupation was underway. In other words, Iran has been involved in supplying fighters to tangle with U.S. soldiers. This should come as no surprise, given the 9/11 Commission's recent report that Iran was a transit state for 9/11 plotters.
Looking back, Sunni-Shia enmity has never been a concern for Iran when it comes to providing logistics to al Qaeda, or even supporting Sunni groups such as Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza. Iran, it is also worth noting, provided assistance to the Sunni and Kurdish Ansar al Islam on the eve of the 2003 U..S. invasion. Tehran allowed Ansar fighters to cross the border to escape the U.S. assault. According to several Ansar prisoners, Iran allowed fighters to remain there, and then later helped them back into Iraq to join the insurgency.
Jonathan Schanzer is a Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of the forthcoming Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror.
Rift grows as Iranians caught fighting for Sadr
Guardian, August 13, Baghdad - Security officials in Baghdad were last night urgently investigating the background of 30 Iranians who were caught fighting for a rebel Shia cleric in Iraq, amid mounting concern over the involvement of the Tehran regime in the uprising.
The Guardian has learned that the most senior members of the Iraqi government were briefed about the capture of the men yesterday, and also told of other evidence that fighters and equipment have been crossing the border from Iran.
The 30 men were captured in the southern city of Kut on Wednesday and officials are trying to establish whether they have any links to Tehran.
"We are checking their identities but if they are found to have links to the Iranians then that would be tantamount to a declaration of war by them," said a senior Iraqi source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source said members of Iraq's national security committee had yesterday been presented "with revealing information about the extent of Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs", which was being taken seriously at the "highest echelons of government".
There was increasing frustration "at our neighbour's apparent indifference to cross-border security, despite promises of cooperation"..
The source said two trucks laden with weapons destined for the fighters of the militant cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, had been stopped at the Iranian border on Wednesday night.
Sabbah Kaddim, a senior adviser at the ministry of the interior, declined to confirm the seizure of the two trucks or the arrest of the Iranians. But he confirmed "there were a number of non-Iraqi elements" captured in Kut.
He added: "There has been a continuous stream of vehicles over the last few weeks trying to ferry arms across the border from Iran.
"We catch some, others must get through. The trouble is knowing who exactly is behind all this."
The violence between US and Iraqi forces and Mr Sadr's supporters has destabilised Shia areas of the capital and several cities across southern Iraq where Iranian influence is at its strongest...
Relations between Iran and Iraq, who fought a ruinous war from 1980-88, have plummeted in recent weeks...
Foreign diplomatic observers in Baghdad have been alarmed by the "stoking up of tension" between the two neighbours. One senior diplomat said the Iranians were pursuing their activities in Iraq "more aggressively than three months ago, and they were hardly passive then"....
One Iraqi diplomat, a former member of the Iraqi opposition who took part in the postwar planning, said: "You know we didn't misread the reaction of the Shia in postwar Iraq, as many analysts have suggested; our big failing was to misread the reaction from our neighbours. They really don't want to give us a chance."
Iran is not behaving in a responsible manner - Powell
US Department of State Website, August 13 - Secretary of State Colleen Powell: "We would hope that as Japan examines its relationship with Iran, it would take into account, in any business transaction or any proposals that come along, the fact that Iran is not behaving in a responsible manner. The IAEA has found serious deficiencies in their program. The European Foreign Ministers 3, the three foreign ministers, entered into agreements with Iran, which Iran is not complying with. And it seems clear to us that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and it is essentially saying to the international community, "No matter what you think, we're going to go ahead and build centrifuges and preserve the option of going further." I would hope that the Japanese Government and Japanese businesses would take this into account as they make judgments as to whether this is the place that one should be making investments in or doing this kind of energy business with."
US, Canada see eye-to-eye on Iranian nuclear program, human rights concerns
Agence France Presse, Aug. 13, Washington - The United States and Canada share concerns about the extent of Iran's nuclear programs and Tehran's poor human rights record, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said Friday.
Washington and Ottawa will both look for tough action on Iran from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) when it meets next month in Vienna and will press Tehran to resolve lingering questions about the death in custody in Iran of a Canadian-Iranian photographer last year, they said.
"We are very preoccupied by the nuclear proliferation and we are not pleased at all with the way the Iranians are conducting this particular question of nuclear proliferation," Pettigrew told reporters after meeting Powell at the State Department.
"This is something on which we need to cooperate and make sure that Iran respects international obligations and absolutely limits that," he said.
Pettigrew on Friday called Kazemi's death an "assassination" and termed the Iranian investigation into the matter "a farce."
"We have no cooperation from the Iranian government," he said, noting the requests for Kazemi's body to be returned to Canada had not been met.
"We have realized that the whole justice system has been treating this as a farce, unfortunately," Pettigrew said, adding that he intended to raise the issue next month when the United Nations General Assembly convenes.
Iran a nuclear threat, U.S. Says
The Washington Post, Aug. 18, by Dafna Linzer - Iran told British, French and German officials last month that it could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb within a year, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton said yesterday in arguing the case for international pressure on the Islamic Republic.
In a speech at the Hudson Institute, Bolton characterized Iran as a grave danger. He said the U.S. strategy would be to isolate rather than "engage" with the country, a tactic European allies are still hoping will work...
"They've told the EU three [Britain, France and Germany] that they could produce, they could enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon within a year and they could produce nuclear weapons within the range of our own assessment, which is a way of threatening the Europeans to get them to back down," Bolton said of Iran....
"This regime has to be isolated in its bad behavior, not quote-unquote engaged," Bolton said.
Lugar: Get very tough with Iran
United Press International, Aug. 15, Washington - The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged the United States Sunday to get "very tough" to prevent Iran from making a nuclear bomb.
"We're going to have to get very tough" said Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., when asked how to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons...
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Lugar said: "The Iranians are moving toward weaponization of the uranium experiment that they have. And they've been clearly doing this. I suspect to begin with economic sanctions on Iran... but not ruling out at the end of the day military sanctions against Iran."
Punish Tehran for nuclear cheating
Daily Telegraph, Aug. 19 - In 2001, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who now heads the Expediency Council, said that if the Islamic world achieved nuclear parity with Israel, it would be able to annihilate that state while sustaining only damages from any counter-strikes....
The government has evidently calculated that American preoccupation with Iraq and the presidential election has created a window of opportunity for the pursuit of its nuclear ambitions with impunity...
Iran has long sought nuclear status as a means of achieving regional hegemony. But it also remains a power determined to export Islamic revolution worldwide, with the goal of destroying the liberal democracies. As John Bolton, American Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, reminded us yesterday, the sooner the issue of its nuclear programme is referred to the Security Council, the better.
If it persists in cheating, Teheran must be further isolated and, if necessary, punished by sanctions. Beyond that, America and its allies should leave the clerics in no doubt that they will not tolerate their possession of nuclear weapons. In such hands, they would pose a far greater threat than Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
Iran delivered missiles to Hizbullah in Lebanon via Syria
Middle East Media Research Institute, Aug. 19 - The Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa recently reported that Iran has delivered missiles to Hizbullah in Lebanon via Syria, and that Iran and Syria are cooperating closely in missile development and deployment. The following are excerpts of the article:
"Two cargo aircraft landed on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2004, at one of the Syrian military airfields in north Damascus. There to greet the planes were Iranian Ambassador to Syria Riza Baqiri and Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mas'ud Idris."
Al-Siyassa also reported that "several Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers had arrived the previous day from their headquarters at a Hizbullah military camp near the town of Qasrbana in al-Buqa' in order to unload a significant number of surface-to-surface missiles."
According to information received from the Syrian opposition in London on Saturday, Aug. 14, the missiles "are of the most recent and improved Iranian model, with a 250- to 350-kilometer range, with which it is possible to hit any target in Israel." The sources also reported to Al-Siyassa that the two deliveries comprised 220 missiles "that Iran had not so far supplied to any foreign entity...
"Over Thursday and Friday [Aug. 12-13], the missiles were transported in civilian Syrian and Lebanese trucks to three Hizbullah military bases" in the regions of Jenta and Yahfufa near the Syrian border, as well as to southern Ba'albek.
The Syrian opposition said that according to information they claim to have received from a senior source in the Syrian military in Damascus, "the alert level of the Syrian missile corps, deployed mostly in the North and East of the country [i.e., Syria], has been raised to high after commanders in military intelligence and in the Ba'th party in Damascus received information about the possibility that the Israeli Air Force would attack the nuclear reactors in Iran via Jordanian, Iraqi, and Turkish skies."
It was also stated that in the event of such an Israeli attack, "Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon overseeing the deployment and maintenance of thousands of missiles of various ranges would fire these missiles at cities in the Hebrew state, which could expand the aerial attacks on the nuclear, chemical, and biological installations and uranium-enrichment plants in Iran, such that the attack would also include Syria and Lebanon."
Mullahs may get uranium from S. Africa
Ha'aretz, Aug. 18 - Iran and South Africa signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday on bilateral cooperation. The deal paves the way for the two countries to expand trade ties, and may include South Africa selling uranium to Tehran.
The memorandum was signed by South African Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and his Iranian counterpart Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani. This was the first such visit by a South African defense minister to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
US and Europe cannot afford nuclear Iran
The New York Times, Aug. 14 - Unlike Iraq's long-dormant nuclear weapons program, Iran's program seems to be moving steadily forward, and it has drawn sharp criticism from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Tehran has defiantly proclaimed its intention to produce enriched uranium, which can be used in bombs as well as electrical-power reactors. ...Though Iran seems to be staying just within the limits of what is allowed under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it is positioning itself so it could withdraw from the treaty and make bombs once it has completed building the new equipment and has amassed enough natural uranium to begin enrichment.
The three European allies, while harboring few illusions about Iran's intentions, believe that tough-minded negotiations still have a chance of producing positive results. Until they conclude otherwise, they are unlikely to support any American request to impose coercive sanctions...
Neither Europe nor America can afford to wake up one day to discover that Iran is quitting the nonproliferation treaty and building weapons.
Revolutionary Guards General set to become Iran's censor in chief
Iran Focus website, Aug. 18, Tehran - A new budget amendment adopted by the dominant ultra-conservative faction in the Iranian parliament is set to concentrate enormous powers over the mass media in the hand of a former general of the Revolutionary Guards who now heads the Voice and Vision of the Islamic Republic, the state-owned broadcasting monopoly in Iran.
The amendment to the government's Fourth Development Plan, expected to be endorsed by the watchdog Guardian Council, will give exclusive control over Iran's internet network and access to satellite and cable television programs to the VVIR.
The amendment was opposed by a small minority of Majlis deputies, who wanted the control over access to the internet and satellite television to be given to several ministries, including the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
The Majlis decision turns Revolutionary Guards Brig. Gen. Ezzatollah Zarghami, who already heads the powerful radio and television monopoly, into the Censor in Chief of information in the Islamic Republic. Zarghami's agency is one of numerous state institutions that are not under government control, but report directly to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The move is also in line with Khamenei's efforts, in the past few months, to extend the control of the Revolutionary Guards over key government and state institutions.
Zarghami is one of Khamenei's most trusted confidants and has for long been involved in the suppression of dissidents at home and terrorist activities abroad. He has close ties with Maj. Gen. Rahim Safavi, the Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander in Chief, his deputy, Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr, and the Corps' counter-intelligence chief Morteza Reza'i.
In the 1990s, Zarghami, Saeed Emami, then deputy Intelligence Minister, and Brig. Gen. Ali Agha Mohammadi were responsible for the grisly murder of several dissidents in Iran and waged a propaganda campaign to discredit the opposition. Zarghami's new powers come in the midst of escalating clampdown on newspapers and publishers in Iran.
US seeking reason to act against Iran
Posted online: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 at 0053 hours IST
WELLINGTON/WASHINGTON, AUGUST 24: The United States is looking for a reason to act against Iran amid accusations that Tehran is secretly developing atomic weapons, Irans Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in remarks published on Tuesday.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog has been investigating Irans nuclear programme, which Tehran says is aimed solely at generating electricity rather than nuclear weapons. The US wants the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report Tehran to the UN Security Council for what it says are violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nobody can deny our rights to have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, the Dominion-Post newspaper quoted Kharrazi as saying during a visit to New Zealand. Animosity has prevailed in the US for many years now and therefore they have been looking for excuses (to act against Iran), said Kharrazi.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, acknowledging Irans assurances that its nuclear programme was peaceful, said it was absolutely critical that Iran complied fully with the agencys request to accelerate its co-operation.
Tehran had said last month that it had resumed making parts for uranium enrichment centrifuges, which can be used to make bomb material. It further said that it is entitled to carry out such activities under the NPT and said it would not give up its right to pursue enrichment technology to produce fuel for nuclear power reactors.
US sees China N-link
WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Monday admitted concerns on reports that China had recently transferred missile technology to Iran in violation of its previous non-proliferation assurances, but declined to comment on the details of the exports. We think they have made progress in non-proliferation... but concerns remain..., a spokesperson said. (Reuters)