Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - September 13, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 09/12/2004 9:02:05 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. As a result, most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog begins a meeting on Monday to consider a European draft resolution on Iran's atomic program, after diplomats and intelligence officials said Tehran was already working to build an atom bomb.
The European Union's "big three" states -- France, Britain and Germany -- have circulated a draft resolution ahead of the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran's nuclear program that falls short of reporting Tehran to the U.N. Security Council, as Washington would have liked.
The draft text will be revised before being formally submitted to the IAEA Board of Governors, but Western diplomats from some of the 35 board member states said the United States has little support for tough action against Iran now.
The text calls on Iran to dispel worries that it has a nuclear weapons program by November, at which time the board will "probably" consider whether any "further steps" are needed.
One Western diplomat said the vague wording did not lock the board into any particular course of action.
"It includes several possibilities. One is a report to the Security Council, which may or may not lead to economic sanctions," the diplomat said. "Another is that the board might choose to drop Iran from its agenda altogether. Or the IAEA just continues with Iran the way it's been going until now."
The IAEA has been investigating Iran's nuclear program for two years, ever since the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reported in August 2002 that Tehran was concealing several massive nuclear facilities from the U.N. watchdog.
It has uncovered many potentially weapons-related activities but has found nothing to confirm U.S. allegations that Iranian has a secret nuclear bomb program.
Iran insists its atomic program is entirely peaceful and aimed solely at generating electricity.
IRAN WORKING ON "WEAPONISATION"
Non-U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats cited recent intelligence reports that Iran is already working on weaponisation -- activities aimed at developing a nuclear warhead.
​ ​​​​ "They have ongoing activities in the realm of weaponisation," a senior intelligence official said, adding that Iran had recently conducted "high-explosive experiments" linked to atomic weapons research.
One diplomat cited intelligence reports that Iran is interested in buying bomb-grade uranium from communist North Korea, which Washington believes is already a nuclear power.
"Today the only people who have fissile material and where there's realistically going to be a chance to buy it is North Korea," he said, adding that Iran and North Korea are already cooperating closely on nuclear and missile technology.
The diplomat also accused the IAEA of being excessively cautious about Iran's nuclear program and criticized it for not stating openly that Iran wanted a nuclear weapons capability.
"The IAEA is working more like traffic police than criminal police. If they don't catch Iran in an actual crime, they can't do anything," he said.
Diplomats on the IAEA board said the EU trio's draft, which also calls on Iran to suspend all activities that could enable it to create weapons-grade uranium or plutonium, would have the support of a vast majority of the board.
Iran promised the EU trio last year it would suspend all fuel cycle activity but gradually resumed all work on it except the actual enrichment of uranium. Tehran reiterated on Sunday that it would never abandon its right to the full fuel cycle.
President Bush's top official on nuclear non-proliferation, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, indicated during a brief visit to Israel on Sunday the United States would step up pressure on Iran.
"President Bush is determined to try and find a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons," he told reporters. "But we are determined that they are not going to achieve a nuclear weapons capability."
"The president never takes any option off the table," President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told CNN. "But we believe that this is something that is best resolved by diplomatic means, and that can be resolved by diplomatic means."
The Movement paid, this evening, tribute to the victims of the Tragedy of 9/11 and to the American Nation during a commemorative gathering held at the Trocadero Place in Paris.
The SMCCDI Representative in France, Kaveh Mohseni who was speaking on behalf of the Movement, slammed the Islamist terrorism and all the governments which are still closing their eyes on such threat, blinded by commercial opportunities with fanatic and rogue regimes, such as, the Islamic republic. He reitrated the call for a firm and collective action against terror and tyranny by imposing sanctions against the Mullhacracy.
Over two hundred demonstrators had gathered by responding to the invitation of the "Mouvement Pour la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme" endorsed by SMCCDI and groups, such as, Hevel - Association de Soutien Post-Traumatique - Association Marianne Lehman Zaoui - D'ailleurs et d'Ici Mais Ensemble - Lutte Contre l'Obscurantisme - B'nai B'rith France - Union Laïque des Familles de Culture Musulmane de France - Droit et Laïcité - Conseil Européen des Fédérations Wizo - Primo Europe - Cercle Léon Blum - Mouvement pour l'abolition de la prostitution etde la pornographie - Union pour un Iran libre (pro-referendum) - Laïc Info - Union des Israéliens originaires de France, d'Afrique du Nord et des pays francophones - Fils et Filles des Déportés Juifs de France - Infoweb-j.net and Cap 21.
SMCCDI is so pro-US they make democrats look like the taliban.
Iran refuses to halt nuclear program in the face of critical IAEA meeting
By GEORGE JAHN
BERLIN (AP) - Iran's refusal to give up uranium enrichment -and banish suspicions it seeks nuclear arms - set the stage Sunday for confrontation before a United Nations' agency, with the United States lobbying to have Iran taken before the Security Council for possible sanctions.
Washington appeared unlikely to get its way immediately at Monday's meeting in Vienna, Austria, but its stand was bolstered for the longer term after European allies agreed to set a November deadline for Iran to meet international demands to suspend uranium enrichment and clear up other concerns about its nuclear program.
In a draft resolution prepared by France, Germany and Britain and made available to The Associated Press, the three European powers warned of possible "further steps" by November, the next meeting of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors.
Diplomats said "further steps" was shorthand for referring Iran's case to the Security Council if the Tehran regime hindered the IAEA's nuclear investigation or if it refused to suspend uranium enrichment.
A top U.S. official said the administration hoped for "a peaceful and diplomatic solution" in its effort to ensure Iran does not obtain atomic weapons in violation of its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, known as the NPT.
During a visit to Israel, Undersecretary of State John Bolton said Security Council sanctions were "not inevitable," but suggested they were likely.
He also hinted that all options remained open for dealing with Iran. "We're determined that they're not going to achieve a nuclear-weapons capability," he said.
Iran's government remained defiant ahead of the Monday meeting.
Speaking in the Iranian capital Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said his country would not give in to demands that it abandon uranium enrichment - a process with applications in both generating electricity and making nuclear warheads.
Asefi repeated that Iran was willing to provide guarantees it is not seeking nuclear arms, assurances that have been dismissed in the past by the United States and its allies as inadequate.
Enrichment does not fall under Iran's obligations under the NPT, but the Tehran government has been under international pressure for more than a year to fully renounce enrichment to counterbalance suspicions that arose from the discovery two years ago that it had hidden some nuclear activities for nearly two decades.
A U.S. official, who spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity, said Iran's defiance was helping Washington. He said Bolton, the U.S. point man on nuclear nonproliferation, was pressing the Europeans on Sunday to toughen their language in the draft resolution for the IAEA meeting.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards kick off major exercises
Sep 12, 2004, 20:19
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) kicked off major exercises Sunday aimed at testing out new equipment and maintaining its "spirit of Jihad and defence", state television reported.
The head of the IRGC, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, said the "Great Manoeuvre of Ashura" would involve 12 divisions from what he described as the "biggest deterrent power in the region".
He said the exercises across northwestern Iran were aimed at "testing and appraising new and advanced equipment and maintaining the spirit of jihad and defence among our forces" as well as testing "modern tactics".
"No place in Islamic Iran is outside the defence, security and supervisory domain of the Revolutionary Guards' defensive operations," the general was quoted as saying.
He said the manoeuvres would also try out "surface to surface missiles with different ranges, air defence systems with various surface to air missiles, fighter-bombers", and "for the first time in Iran, the transfer of T-72 tanks on gigantic planes".
"We have very good deterrent power, especially ballistic missiles," Safavi said. The exercises are due to end on Septmember 20, state media said.
The Revolutionary Guards, one of Iran's most powerful institutions, are a separate armed forces set up in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution, and have a separate command structure to the regular armed forces.
Senior Iranian MP brushes off EU pressure
Sep 12, 2004, 08:37
Iran's Majlis deputy and member of National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Akbar Aalami here Saturday lashed out at the pressures imposed by powerful countries on Iran on the nuclear issues.
Aalami said these pressures which aim to force Tehran to accept new obligations is in contrast with 1969 Vienna convention and is illegal and unlawful.
He said the obligations would be nullified even the country's officials accept it because they are contrary to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and additional protocol as well as International Atomic Energy Agency's articles.
Aalami added in case of turning over Iran's case to the UN Security Council, the European countries will lose more than Iran.
Tabriz deputy in Majlis emphasized that European economy in comparison with the US economy is more fragile and dependent on oil, adding if any problems is created in the Middle East especially for Iran which has an important role and influence in the region, Europe will be the loser.
He went on to say,"we believe the Europeans will adopt a wise policy in this regard which secure their national interests."
The Europeans know very well that it is not in their interest to surrender to American extravagant claims and inadmissible accusations against Iran, Aalami concluded.
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2004
VIENNA, 12 Sept. (IPS) «There would be no surprises at the tomorrow (Monday) meeting of the directors of the International Atomic Agency regarding to Iran's nuclear activities«, an informed source speculated in the Austrian Capital on Sunday.
Speaking to Iran Press Service on condition of anonymity, the source said the report the international nuclear watchdog's Chief would present to the meeting is a bag of «mixed positive and negative points addressed to Iran and its major interlocutors, including the Europe's big 3.
In their last meeting, officials from the trio, in a decision that pleased Washington gave the Islamic Republic until November to fully respect its commitments with them, mostly on the issue of enriching uranium, or face tougher conditions.
We have had good cooperation with the (International Atomic Energy) Agency and the Europe and will continue such cooperation.
This warning was initiated by Britain, a country that has one foot, one ear and one eye in the EU and the other is in Washington. At the same time, London is the trusted interlocutor of the Iranian ruling ayatollahs. I mean that don't expect too much from the Monday meeting the source added.
A Foreign Office spokesman said that the Iranians were guilty of "serious obfuscation" and called on Teheran to suspend work immediately. "We are extremely concerned about all aspects of Iran's nuclear programme," he said, "and we call on Iran to suspend all their nuclear activities, including the processing of uranium yellowcake".
The European Unions trio has proposed a draft resolution for a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) starting in Vienna Monday which gives Iran until November to dispel doubts about its nuclear program.
In Tehran, Foreign Affairs Ministry's Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi rejected setting any deadline by the European Union for Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, stressing there exists no secret issue in this respect, the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted him.
Talking to reporters during his weekly press briefing, Asefi said Irans talks with Europe are proceeding in a good atmosphere and the visit by Secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hassan Rohani to Europe, held in a very clear and constructive atmosphere, took place to this effect.
Europes and IAEAs main interlocutor on Iranian nuclear issue, Mr. Rohani, considered as a moderate cleric was in Holland, the EUs present roving chair country last week and assured officials there that Iran was committed to its engagements taken last year with Britain, France and Germany.
"We have had good cooperation with the (International Atomic Energy) Agency and the Europe and will continue such cooperation but we know the United States tries to show that talks were fruitless in order to prolong the crisis", Asefi pointed out in a visible effort to play the European card against pressures from the United States concerning Irans controversial atomic projects.
European officials have said they want to allow more time for diplomatic efforts to produce a compromise that enables Iran to operate a peaceful nuclear energy program, yet relinquish control over fuel that could be used to make weapons.
Experts and diplomats at the UNs nuclear agency said the difference between the European Union with the United States is that Europe thinks that sanctions would cut all existing bridges and would eventually help Iran going faster on its military projects for making atomic bomb, IPSs source said, pointing also to the fact that contrary to Washington, the Europeans have all lucrative trades going on with oil rich Iran.
Efforts to prevent Irans access to peaceful nuclear technology are fruitless since we have already achieved the technology and have peaceful nuclear technology", Asefi declared, repeating that Iran was ready to assure Europe that it uses nuclear technology in a peaceful way and to give full guarantee in the framework of the NPT.
However, the international community was stunned this month when the IAEA revealed in a report that Iran planned to convert 37 tons of milled uranium, known as yellowcake, into a compound that can be used in a peaceful nuclear power program but also can be used to make weapons-grade enriched uranium.
The amount would be enough for three to five nuclear weapons, said a U.S. official dealing with the issue.
The international community was stunned when IAEA revealed that Iran planned to convert 37 tons of milled uranium that can help making nuclear weapons.
But Asefi dismissed the importance of the yellowcake issue. "Yellow cake is not an important issue. It can be seen wherever its mines exist. Yellow cake issue was not a secret case and we have informed the agency about it".
"President Bush is determined to try and find a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons," he said. "But we are determined that they are not going to achieve a nuclear weapons capability", the US State Department Undersecretary for nuclear issues John Bolton assured
He said sending Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council would not necessarily lead to sanctions being imposed on Iran.
"The most important reason to take Iran to the Security Council is to heighten political pressure", he said.
In his new report to be presented to IAEAs Board of Directors, Mohammad ElBradei is expected to call on the Islamic Republic to give the Agency clear and convincing assurances on its nuclear programs, but at the same time would warn Tehran that the continuation of enriching uranium would encourage the directors to refer the case to the United Nations. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 12904
Last Update: 13/09/2004 17:34
MI: Iran may have A-bomb production capability next year
|By Aluf Benn and Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondents and Reuters|
Israel's chief of military intelligence said in remarks broadcast on Monday that if Iran's atomic program is allowed to continue, Tehran will have the capability to independently develop nuclear weapons by early next year.
|Sep. 5, 2004. 01:00 AM|
A survivor tells of 1988 massacre in Islamic Republic
Thousands of men, women, children secretly executed
VERONIQUE MISTIAEN The 46-year-old Iranian with gentle brown eyes and a quiet smile is haunted by the smell of fear and death. Now working as an engineer in England, he walks with special soles in his shoes because his feet have been damaged by torture. For 16 years, he has carried unspeakable memories with him. And Payam is not his real name he asked for an alias because he believes his life could still be in danger. In the summer of 1988, most of his school friends, as well as thousands of other men, women and children possibly as many as 30,000 political prisoners were secretly slaughtered in prisons across Iran. Places like the large prayer hall in the dreaded Evin prison were turned into gallows. Children as young as 13 were hanged six at a time. Prisoners were loaded on forklift trucks in groups and hanged from cranes and beams in half-hourly intervals. Others were killed by firing squads. "At midnight," Payam says, "we heard a big thump under our cell's window, then another one, and another one. "We counted 50 thumps before we realized these were bodies being dumped into lorries. "For two months at midnight, lorries carried people we knew and loved into mass graves." In England, France, Germany, Australia and North America as well as privately in Iran survivors of the 1988 massacre and their families gather in early September to commemorate the greatest state crime in Iran's modern history. They hold vigils, organize rallies and disseminate information on the Web willing the world to look and listen, and at long last publicly acknowledge and condemn the mass slaughter. The execution of such a large number of individuals within such a short time, without any due process or trial, violates many articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, as well as several other international treaties. Yet the international community has never recognized this massacre as a crime against humanity. Payam was sent to Evin in 1984 for his non-violent leftist political activities while a student at Teheran University. In prison, he was tortured so severely he couldn't walk for five months. A year later, he was sentenced to 10 years for being a heretic and refusing to recant his political affiliations. He was later transferred to Gohardasht on the outskirts of Teheran, the largest prison in Iran, where he was at the time of the massacre. Since the Islamic Republic of Iran came to power in 1979 (and earlier under the Shah regime), Iranian prisons have been full of political opponents. Some were members or supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an Islamic armed group fighting against the regime. Others were part of ethnic minority groups. And many, like Payam, were leftists, intellectuals and students often serving long sentences for no more than distributing leaflets or having a banned book, or just being accused by "a trusted friend of the regime." In July 1988, at the end of the devastating Iran-Iraq war, the political atmosphere in Iran was volatile: People were angry about the long war and a large number of prisoners were due to be released. The government decided to crush all political opposition and purge its prisons of troublesome elements once and for all. Soon after signing the ceasefire, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who'd become Supreme Leader of Iran after the 1979 revolution, issued a secret but extraordinary fatwa an Islamic legal ruling advising the execution of all Mojahedin as "fighters against God" and all leftists as "apostates from Islam." On July 29, the executions began for the Mojahedin. A month later, it was the turn of the leftists. "Suddenly," Payam recalls, "the guards took all newspapers and televisions away. Visits were suspended and contact with guards prohibited. "Everybody was very quiet, trying to understand what it all meant." Mojahedin were separated from leftists and other groups, and all prisoners were classified according to their level of resistance. All over the country, prisoners were called in front of a "court" or "death commission" made out of an Islamic judge, a representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and a state prosecutor. They were told they would be released, but first needed to answer a few questions, such as "Are you a Muslim?" "Do you pray?" and "Do you recant your political activities?" "When (the prisoners) came out, some were sent to the right, others to the left," Payam says. After a while, the prisoners realized that far from being released, those on the left were gone forever. "We became silent. Everyone was sick with fear." Then, it was the turn of Payam's ward.
The 46-year-old Iranian with gentle brown eyes and a quiet smile is haunted by the smell of fear and death.
Now working as an engineer in England, he walks with special soles in his shoes because his feet have been damaged by torture.
For 16 years, he has carried unspeakable memories with him. And Payam is not his real name he asked for an alias because he believes his life could still be in danger.
In the summer of 1988, most of his school friends, as well as thousands of other men, women and children possibly as many as 30,000 political prisoners were secretly slaughtered in prisons across Iran.
Places like the large prayer hall in the dreaded Evin prison were turned into gallows.
Children as young as 13 were hanged six at a time.
Prisoners were loaded on forklift trucks in groups and hanged from cranes and beams in half-hourly intervals. Others were killed by firing squads.
"At midnight," Payam says, "we heard a big thump under our cell's window, then another one, and another one.
"We counted 50 thumps before we realized these were bodies being dumped into lorries.
"For two months at midnight, lorries carried people we knew and loved into mass graves."
In England, France, Germany, Australia and North America as well as privately in Iran survivors of the 1988 massacre and their families gather in early September to commemorate the greatest state crime in Iran's modern history.
They hold vigils, organize rallies and disseminate information on the Web willing the world to look and listen, and at long last publicly acknowledge and condemn the mass slaughter.
The execution of such a large number of individuals within such a short time, without any due process or trial, violates many articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, as well as several other international treaties.
Yet the international community has never recognized this massacre as a crime against humanity.
Payam was sent to Evin in 1984 for his non-violent leftist political activities while a student at Teheran University. In prison, he was tortured so severely he couldn't walk for five months.
A year later, he was sentenced to 10 years for being a heretic and refusing to recant his political affiliations.
He was later transferred to Gohardasht on the outskirts of Teheran, the largest prison in Iran, where he was at the time of the massacre.
Since the Islamic Republic of Iran came to power in 1979 (and earlier under the Shah regime), Iranian prisons have been full of political opponents.
Some were members or supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an Islamic armed group fighting against the regime.
Others were part of ethnic minority groups.
And many, like Payam, were leftists, intellectuals and students often serving long sentences for no more than distributing leaflets or having a banned book, or just being accused by "a trusted friend of the regime."
In July 1988, at the end of the devastating Iran-Iraq war, the political atmosphere in Iran was volatile: People were angry about the long war and a large number of prisoners were due to be released.
The government decided to crush all political opposition and purge its prisons of troublesome elements once and for all.
Soon after signing the ceasefire, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who'd become Supreme Leader of Iran after the 1979 revolution, issued a secret but extraordinary fatwa an Islamic legal ruling advising the execution of all Mojahedin as "fighters against God" and all leftists as "apostates from Islam."
On July 29, the executions began for the Mojahedin. A month later, it was the turn of the leftists.
"Suddenly," Payam recalls, "the guards took all newspapers and televisions away. Visits were suspended and contact with guards prohibited.
"Everybody was very quiet, trying to understand what it all meant."
Mojahedin were separated from leftists and other groups, and all prisoners were classified according to their level of resistance.
All over the country, prisoners were called in front of a "court" or "death commission" made out of an Islamic judge, a representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and a state prosecutor.
They were told they would be released, but first needed to answer a few questions, such as "Are you a Muslim?" "Do you pray?" and "Do you recant your political activities?"
"When (the prisoners) came out, some were sent to the right, others to the left," Payam says.
After a while, the prisoners realized that far from being released, those on the left were gone forever.
"We became silent. Everyone was sick with fear."
Then, it was the turn of Payam's ward.
"They took me to the death committee three times and every time they sent me in the queue for execution. I wrote my name on my underpants so my body could be identified. I don't know why I survived."
By the end of the summer, Evin was eerily empty. In other prisons across the country, thousands were missing.
In December 1988, Amnesty International reported being "gravely concerned" by a wave of political executions in Iran:
"Those executed included political prisoners detained without trial, or serving sentences imposed after unfair trials, suspected political opponents still in prison after serving their sentences, and those rearrested after release."
Many were women and teenagers.
The U.N. Human Rights Commission received hundreds of petitions and letters from individuals around the world expressing what it sescribed as "deep concern at the alleged wave of executions and calling for U.N. intervention to bring such executions to a halt."
The Iranian regime flatly denied the massacre, but under international pressure and to mark the 10th anniversary of the republic's foundation, released several hundred remaining political prisoners in February 1989.
For months afterward, Amnesty International and the U.N. urged Tehran to fully investigate all allegations pertaining to the massacre, release the actual number of victims and their place of burial.
Strangely, the international community didn't put more pressure on the Iranian government to do so, and to this day, survivors and families of the victims are still waiting.
"At the end of the Iran-Iraq war, there was a certain interest in the part of the major powers not to stir up the pot and antagonize Iran," explains Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch's director of the Mid-East North Africa division.
The actual number of victims is still not known, but several sources estimate it to be around 30,000.
In January 2001, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, former designated successor to Khomeini, documented in his memoirs gruesome details about the barbaric purge.
These complemented and corroborated numerous previous reports and complaints, and proved that the orders came from the very top.
Montazeri's shocking revelations prompted renewed efforts from Iranians in exile to have those involved tried for crimes against humanity.
Many of those alleged to have been involved, including former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, are still in power, according to several sources.
"The brutal massacres of 1988 were a widespread and systematic series of summary executions, which had approval at the highest levels of the political leadership in Iran," concurs Drewery Dyke, Amnesty International's Iran researcher.
"They were what customary international law calls a `crime against humanity' and yet, over 15 years later, nobody has been brought to justice.
"Impunity for such appalling crimes only leads to further abuses of people's fundamental human rights."
Today, prisoners are still tortured and killed in Iran.
Human Rights Watch recently published a damning report on the treatment of political prisoners and the EU has condemned human rights abuses there, too.
For Payam and other survivors, the current situation has its roots in the summer of '88.
He and many other survivors were released in February 1989. But there was no jubilation or even relief.
"We were broken," Payam says.
"How could we accept that Muslims could carry out such horrific crimes in the name of God or Islam? How could we face the bereaved families?"
Payam was released under heavy bail and with his family house pledged against his good conduct.
He was under constant surveillance, couldn't leave the country and had to report regularly to an Islamic Guards station.
In 1996, still fearing for his life, he immigrated to England, where he is now a permanent resident and was able to finally finish his engineering studies.
Sitting in his rented room in a large Victorian house, he looks at the photgraphs of Iran's snow-capped Mount Damavand peak hanging on his wall.
He thinks of his parents and the friends he never sees.
He dreams of his beautiful country with its high mountains, forests, rivers and deserts.
Most of the time, he prefers not to think, not to dream.
So, he keeps obsessively busy with work or goes running with special soles in his shoes.
"I cannot continue on living if I remember," he explains. "But, if I do, I want it to be useful, I need to bear witness for those who have died.
"This is my second life a life I shouldn't have. I feel I was given this second life to tell the whole world what happened in Iran in the summer of 1988."
Veronique Mistiaen is a freelance journalist based in London.
The following is an edited transcript of an interview with Hossein Mousavian, secretary of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Supreme Council for National Security in Iran, conducted in the SCNS offices in Tehran on 11 September 2004.
Financial Times: The indications from the past week suggest Iran will extend the suspension of uranium enrichment, which it agreed to last October in discussions with Britain, Germany and France [the EU3]. Can you confirm that?
Mousavian: No, I cannot confirm it, because the main delicate issue remains unresolved between Iran and the EU3, which is enrichment. We have told the Europeans that enrichment is the legitimate right of Iran in the framework of the NPT safeguards and the Additional Protocol.
[Note: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commits existing nuclear powers not to spread nuclear weapons and commits non-nuclear signatories, like Iran, not to develop nuclear weapons. To verify compliance, signatories submit their nuclear activities to safeguards, including inspections, of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In November 2003, Iran signed an Additional Protocol to the NPT, which allows IAEA inspectors additional rights of access
The NPT also promises co-operation and assistance to signatories in developing civil nuclear programmes, and obliges China, France, Russia, the US and the UK to take steps towards nuclear disarmament].
Iran is not prepared to buy anything beyond international conventions, and Iran is not prepared for discrimination against members [signatories of NPT] enjoying legitimate rights.
Suspension has been a voluntary decision, after the Tehran statement of Iran and the EU3, to build confidence. The confidence building has been done. We signed Protocol 93-plus-2 [the Additional Protocol] and we have implemented it, to give confidence to the international community that the enrichment activities of Iran would remain peaceful for ever.
Secondly, the IAEA needed time to have the whole Natanz [enrichment] site under full supervision and control. This is also done. The IAEA has full access and has visited frequently, and there is nothing under question from the IAEA about the site.
We also gave the IAEA full access to any site for the production of material centrifuges, the assembly of centrifuges. We even gave them access to military sites.
This is the maximum we can do and the maximum they can expect. After such full co-operation with the IAEA, there is no reason to continue suspension.
Financial Times: So you cannot envisage Iran agreeing to extend voluntarily the suspensions of uranium enrichment?
For what reason?
Financial Times: For the same reason you agreed to the suspension in October.
The reasons we had in October 2003 have been removed. At that time, we had not signed the Protocol, we had not implemented the Protocol, Natanz was not under the full control and supervision of the IAEA. After 700 person-days inspections of every nuclear site in the country, there is no reason for suspension.
Financial Times: So you cannot envisage Iran continuing the suspension of uranium enrichment beyond next week?
At the moment, uranium enrichment is suspended, but the world should not expect that this is open-ended. This has been just for a temporary time, just for confidence building.
Financial Times: So the suspension could continue beyond next week?
It could continue, yes. We are waiting for the result of the new, very important package of co-operation that we have raised with the Europeans. This is a package that is much more important than the nuclear issue. We may continue the suspension of enrichment until the coming days to see the result of the new negotiation.
Financial Times: Might you also suspend, as part of this package, enrichment-related activities?
No, for what? When all activities are under the supervision and control of the IAEA? While enrichment is a legitimate activity recognized by the NPT and the Protocol?
The reason the Europeans are asking us to continue is that they want Iran to continue suspension until they reach cessation, and this will never happen.
Financial Times: So although you may extend the suspension of the actual enrichment, you will not extend the suspension of enrichment-related activities?
Some important negotiations are on the way, and Im not in the position to tell you what will be our final decision until we see the conclusion of these negotiations.
We have to wait and see over the coming days the reaction of the Europeans.
Financial Times: When you talk about a package, are you talking about nuclear technology or about a wider package?
We are talking about a wider package, including the security of the region, the elimination of mass-destruction weapons in the whole region, terrorism, human rights, comprehensive co-operation between Iran and the EU in trade and tourism, many important elements.
Financial Times: But this package could not include Iran losing full control of the [nuclear] fuel cycle?
The package would include Irans full compliance with NPT, safeguards and protocol. Iran would be only committed to international mass destruction conventions. There is nothing more.
Financial Times: At the July meeting in Paris, the Europeans went beyond these conventions in their demands of Iran.
The Europeans have demanded cessation, which is beyond the NPT and the Protocol. Some days the Europeans invite Iran to be a full member of the international community, to respect international law and regulations. Now we are inviting them to be completely committed to international conventions, and not to discuss anything beyond. Not one word less, nor more.
Financial Times: So you cannot envisage circumstances, as part of a wider package, where Iran gives up control of the nuclear fuel cycle?
Iran would be prepared to give further confidences, which would relax the Europeans about Irans future enrichment activities, that these would remain for ever peaceful and would never be diverted into military purposes. We are prepared for a very serious discussion to give all assurances.
Financial Times: Could than involve having European observers in Iran?
We can discuss [this], we do not reject [this]. This is something that experts should sit together and examine. But we are open. As we have decided not to go to military purposes for ever, we have no limitation for any kind of co-operation, openness, transparency and assurances.
But if they come and tell us that Irans rights under NPT and Protocol be forgotten, if they want to deprive us from our rights, this is not something we will accept. It would undermine our policy because we have decided to accept international conventions on mass-destruction weapons. We are the only country in this region that has signed all the major mass destruction weapons. If today someone comes to us and tells us that one article of the NPT is good for us but one is not, this is discrimination. Maybe tomorrow they would come on the chemical convention and say, We dont not trust you, only the articles of limitation apply, not the ones about technology.
If you forget articles related to peaceful technology and insist only on the ones regarding control, then Iranian public opinion and politicians will see that the Europeans and Americans want only limitations and not rights. Then the serious question would be: why should we be members of these conventions?
Conventions have negative and positive sides we take the negative side because we enjoy the positive side. If they deprive us of the positive side, why should we accept the negative side?
The propaganda is all concentrated on the fuel cycle, but here that is really not the issue. If we wanted to have a fuel cycle for atomic bomb, we should never have signed the Protocol so soon. We should never have implemented the Protocol so fast one month after the Tehran statement. The 700 person-days inspections in less than a year is unique in the history of the IAEA it has never happened with any other member.
The issue is depriving Iran from any rights. All the controls and limitations are welcome because of the right to enjoy peaceful technology.
Financial Times: Are you under domestic pressure? There are many critics of your approach in the media.
Definitely, because they really do not trust the West. They say that the weapons of mass destruction weapons in the Middle East have their source in the western countries. They say they are lying about weapons of mass destruction, because they have been exporting them. They say they supported Saddams invasion of Iran, they gave Saddam chemical weapons from which thousands of Iranians have been victims and now today they come and tell us they dont trust us. Why should we trust them?
Who gave mass-destruction weapons to Iraq? Who has supported Israel to possess nuclear bombs today? Everything is the West.
So the opposition [in Iran] argues they [the West] are only against the ability of Iran to be powerful in technology and economy they want a weak Iran. They say if we accept anything today, they [the West] will consider more discrimination [against Iran] in other conventions, and in five years we could have no rights to technology in nuclear, chemical or biological fields.
We are heavily under pressure from parliament, from public opinion, from a lot of politicians.
Financial Times: Do you feel, then, that you can reach agreement, at least with the Europeans?
I am still optimistic - if the Europeans come to be logical and realistic. Lets say they are worried about Iranian achievement in mass-destruction weapons, and we are worried about European support for the distribution of mass-destruction weapons in all regions. Each of us has our own accusation, so what can be the basis of trust? International conventions.
Iran is prepared for the full, comprehensive implementation of the NPT, safeguards and the protocol, with full co-operation with the IAEA in order to create maximum confidence.
If the Europeans come to compromise with us in this framework, I am very much optimistic that we will overcome the nuclear issue safely and that we will be able to compromise on other issues of concern like peace and stability in the whole region, terrorism, al-Qaeda, all these issues.
Financial Times: Do you think your position internally is strengthened or weakened by pressure on Iran?
Pressure on Iran is counterproductive. What they did in June [the resolutions of the board of governors meeting of the IAEA] was counterproductive.
Financial Times: On Friday, there was an allegation [from the Iraq-based Iranian opposition group Moujahidin-e Khalq, MKO] that Iran has a secret enrichment plant at Bandar Abbas. Is that true?
Close to every Board of Governors meetings, there is a routine, especially with the Americans, they raise something. Just before the June meeting, they released indirectly an allegation about nuclear activity at Lavisan-Shian and it became a major point of concern.
After the meeting, the inspectors came and took samples and notified that 15 years ago a military site was there and then completely demolished to make way for a park. They took samples.
Well, now they have raised new issues.
Financial Times: Like uranium hexoflouride [a gas used in the production of nuclear fuel]?
Uranium hexoflouride is not something hidden. From the first day of the project at Isfahan, this was under the full supervision and control of the IAEA. This cannot be a point of concern, it was completely announced from the beginning.
Financial Times: But it is being talked about now because it is a uranium enrichment related activity.
The Europeans cannot bargain with us for ever about the suspension of enrichment. This was a voluntary decision. They cannot bargain with us about out legitimate rights under the NPT.
We did not promise to anyone to suspend enrichment for ever. Now they are going to bargain with us for continuation because their aim is not the NPT, not the Protocol, but beyond, to deprive Iran of its legitimate rights.
Financial Times: Which is control of the nuclear fuel cycle ?
It is not control we have no problem with control, which should be done by the IAEA. They [the Europeans] want to continue suspension until they reach a compromise with us about cessation.
Financial Times: Do you have any indications that the Europeans are turning away from this position?
This is a time for the Europeans to choose should Iran be a full member of international conventions, with full compliance, about mass-destruction weapons? Will they recognize the right of Iran to peaceful technology within the framework of international conventions?
They should decide.
If they want to go beyond this, towards discrimination, then Iran will rethink the policy of signature, membership, ratification and implementation of international conventions.
Financial Times: Do you think the Europeans are capable of acting independently of the Americans?
No. Up till now, I believe there has been a compromise between them and the Americans, who cannot think of an embargo and military activities against Iran because they have enough problems in Afghanistan and Iraq. They have a good lesson not to invade another country in the region.
This is rather a gesture to frighten Iran, and give the Europeans the opportunities to get more advantages from Iran. This is somehow co-ordinated between the Americans and the Europeans.
Financial Times: Soft man, hard man?
This is a good game. Even if they take us to the Security Council, what do they want to tell us. They cannot ask Iran for anything more than the NPT, Protocol and Safeguards the authorization of the United Nations is not more than this, and we have already done full co-operation and full access.
This is a political matter to single out and pressure Iran. We know this is a game.
Financial Times: When you spoke about a package offered to the Europeans, you mentioned terrorism. What did you mean by this? Does the package involve Irans relationship with militant Palestinian groups?
We have not gone into detail on every subject. In the package we have informed the EU that Iran wants partnership and co-operation to fight terrorism everywhere, with no discrimination. We would not tolerate European or American support for the terrorist group, the MKO.
If they are ready for a policy to fight terrorism bilaterally, internationally, without discrimination or singling out any group, then we are prepared to go into details.
Financial Times: What do you mean by terrorism?
Terrorising innocent civilians for any reason.
Financial Times: Including a Hamas bomb in restaurant?
We are not supporting any assassination, terror, or killing of innocent civilians. We would be prepared to sit and discuss, if we agree, first of all, about the package. We would leave the details to the future. First of all, we have the idea of a global, comprehensive co-operation with the EU, including the security and economic issues.
Financial Times: Can you envisage circumstances in which Iran would abandon its relationship with Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas?
First of all, let us go to the package and see what is the Europeans reaction. If they welcome this, then we would sit together on each of ten issues. We could agree principles and then go to details.
Financial Times: What are the ten issues in the package?
I am not permitted to announce them, but I have told you some important elements: the elimination of mass-destruction weapons, terrorism, human rights, security in the whole region including the Persian Gulf, central Asia, and the Middle East.
Financial Times: So the nuclear issue has to be situated within a wide framework?
No. The nuclear issue is completely separate. Even if we dont agree on the package we are prepared for full compliance with the NPT, the Protocol and safeguards not one step less, not one step more. If they are prepared to work with us in the framework of international conventions, then the doors of Iran are open.
Financial Times: What is the timetable for discussions?
We dont have too much time because our public opinion and parliament are tired of this lengthy process. After the Tehran statement, everyone thought the nuclear issue would be concluded at the November 2003 board meeting of the IAEA governors nobody expected this to go from November to March, from March to June, and from June to September [IAEA board meetings]. They have lost their patience. We, the people responsible for the nuclear process, know we dont have too much time.
Financial Times: It seems this will run until at least the November IAEA meeting.
That would be one year. This is the maximum we can wait.
Financial Times: Is the US presidential election a factor?
Definitely, no doubt about it. They have lost face with their claim of mass-destruction weapons in Iraq.
The IAEA was in the position in the June meeting to announce the remaining questions had been be resolved, and the issues could be followed within the Protocol and the safeguards. We have no doubt that only considerations about the US elections caused everyone to be cautious, because such an announcement would have created big damage for the Bush administration after they did not find weapons in Iraq.
The issue of laser enrichment was resolved in March, there has been no development since then, although it has been just announced now. The conversion was the most important claim of the Americans in the December 2003 meeting this is resolved. The contamination 36percent and 54 percent is resolved. What else is there? Some small technical issues as a game to prolong the process. But really we cannot wait longer than November.
Financial Times: Do you think the IAEA is acting objectively?
The IAEA has done good work. It is a difficult position, because we know how much pressure there is on them to bring the Iranian file in some other direction. Up until now, they have been committed to a technical process. The only complaint we have is that we know and they know the remaining issues were resolved in March 2003 and the prolongation of these issues is for political reasons with the Americans putting pressure on Mr [Mohammad] ElBaradei [head of the IAEA] not to close the file.
Financial Times: There has been a suggestion that the EU3 may press the IAEA [in the September 13 meeting] for a new, comprehensive analysis of Irans nuclear programme.
They already have a comprehensive analysis. They know that Iran has nothing more to declare. Maybe this suggestion has something to do with the November election in the US.
Financial Times: Was signing the Additional Protocol and extending inspections a good move for Iran?
Definitely. We did this because the strategic policy of Iran, the religious verdict of our leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Irans supreme leader], is that using mass destruction weapons is forbidden, is haram [unlawful in Islam]. For Iranians, this verdict is much more important than the NPT.
Therefore we have no problem with confidence-building, with openness, with co-operation.
Financial Times: Might the package involve handing over members of al-Qaeda held by Iran?
Iran is prepared for co-operation to fight terrorism, bilaterally, regionally and internationally. If we agree the principles, then we can go to details.
Financial Times: Can we be sure that Iran will resume uranium enrichment, at least by November?
The issue of suspension, for Iran, is finished. It is not important if we restart today, tomorrow, or even yesterday. This was done voluntarily to build confidence, and all confidence-building has taken place. They have inspected all the sites and delivered a full report. We have signed and are implementing the Protocol. As a normal member of the IAEA we have our right for enrichment. If they want to prolong the suspension in order the reach a cessation, they are making a mistake.
If they want to take it today to the Security Council, welcome.
Financial Times: But if they want to prolong the suspension in order to reach agreement on a package, this may be something Iran will go along with.
It depends. Lets see what is the reaction of the Europeans to the package.
The package was given - on the occasion of Mr [Hassan] Rowhani [Chief of the SNSC] to the Hague [earlier this month] - to the Netherlands foreign minister as head of the EU. We have asked them to distribute to all EU members.
Financial Times: Is Iraq in the package?
Yes. Peace and security in the region including Iraq and Afghanistan. This is an interesting and sensitive time for Europe [to choose] co-operation and partnership, or to go to confrontation.
Straw, speaking before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, said Tehran had promised France, Germany and Britain it would suspend all uranium enrichment and related activity.
"Since then they have said they are going to restart part of that process. That has undermined confidence in the international community in Iran's intention," Straw said.
"What Iran has to understand is that it cannot turn the issue of confidence on and off like a tap," he cautioned.
Straw's comments came as the United Nations' nuclear watchdog met in Vienna to consider a European draft resolution on Iran's atomic programme, which Washington says is a cover for developing a nuclear weapon.
Hossein Mousavian, head of Iran's delegation at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) talks, said the suspension would be "short and temporary". He gave no indication of when uranium enrichment might resume.
The European draft text calls on Iran to dispel by November worries that it has a weapons programme. If it does not, the draft resolution suggests the IAEA Board of Governors would then "probably" consider whether any further steps are needed.
However it lack an "automatic trigger" that would send Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions -- something the United States wanted.
"We are hoping that we can get a very good decision out of the Board of Governors this week," said Straw.
"What we want to see is Iran committing itself to a full suspension of its uranium enrichment and related activities and any reprocessing it is undertaking," he told reporters.
|UPDATED: 20:04, September 13, 2004|
Iran's Khamenei calls on Muslim world's unity against US
"The Muslim world should promote unity and stand against the global arrogance of the US anywhere and in whatever manner," Khamenei was quoted as saying.
"Today, the oppressive US has attacked the Muslim world and is killing people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine under the pretext of anti-terrorism and through mottos such as democracy and freedom," Khamenei said.
Khamenei also recalled the hatred of the Muslim world against the US, saying that Islamic countries should obtain energy from the hatred to fight against the US.
"The logic of the global arrogance of the US is assassination, oppression and aggression. This logic has never been dialogue and fair compromise," he said.
"The US, as a clear manifestation of evil, will never be content with anything but absolute domination over the Muslim world and the Middle East," Khamenei added.
Khamenei further criticized some Islamic countries for keeping silence toward the "atrocities of the US and Israel in the Muslim world" under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
"The US and the Zionists are the real sponsors of terrorism," he said.
Relation between Iran and the US has always been tensed since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Washington has accused Tehran of supporting terrorist and seeking nuclear weapons, labeling Iran as "axis of evil". In return, Iran terms the US as the enemy of all Islamic countries.
BRUSSELS, Sept 13 (AFP) - Around 5,000 supporters of Iran's main armed opposition group, the Peoples Mujahedeen, demonstrated in Brussels Monday in front of the Council of the European Union where EU foreign ministers were discussing Iran, police said.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran which called the rally claimed that 25,000 people took part.
The protestors, carrying Iranian flags and portraits of their leaders Massud and Maryam Rajavi, were demanding the removal of the Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen from the EU's list of terrorist organisations.
The 25 foreign ministers were not expected to raise the issue in their discussions on Iran, which are to focus on Tehran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Association in relation to Iran's controversial nuclear programme.
Iran has allowed the IAEA to carry out tough inspections of what it insists is an atomic energy programme, rejecting US claims that it is planning to produce nuclear weapons.
The British and German foreign ministers, respectively Jack Straw and Joshka Fischer, Monday called on Iran to "honour its commitment" to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
The Movement's Coordinator, Aryo B. Pirouznia, participated, this evening, in the "looking to Future"'s Radio Q&A program of the Persian service of "Voice of America" (VOA). The live program, hosted by VOA's Dr. Ebrahim Biparva, was broadcasted from 22:40 Iran's local time (02:10 PM US EST = 19:10 GMT) on SW 16.9 Meter band and on VOA's Internet website worldwide
The discussion was focused on the roots of Islamist Terrorism, the Wake Up call of 9/11, Iran's current situation and the geopolitical factors, such as, the Nuclear and US Presidential elections issues which are affecting the future of Iran's Freedom Movement and World's stability. Auditors were able to formulate, live, their questions and comments by calling the VOA during the program.
The program can be listened, in Real Audio, from the minute 12':50" of the following link till Monday the same time: http://www.voanews.com/real/voa/nenaf/fars/fars1800a.ram
It will be transferred after that to the VOA's website's archives.
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