Posted Monday, September 13, 2004
VIENNA 13 Sept. (IPS) The international nuclear watchdog agency, the European Union's «big 3 in the one hand and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the other continued their exchange of nice words and compliments coupled with threats on Monday in Vienna.
Asked by this reporter if Iran's patience with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not reached its end, Mr. Mohammad Hoseyn Mousavian, the spokesman of the Iranian delegation said we will wait until November, an answer analysts immediately translated as a warning to the IAEA and Europe.
But IAEA's Egyptian General Director Mohammad ElBaradei said that there was no deadline for ending an investigation into Iran's nuclear program, even though Iran said it expects the probe to wrap up in November.
Britain, France and Germany, known as Europes Big 3 are reported to have offered Iran until November
"Its an open process and we will finish when I believe we are finished", said ElBaradei, as he went into a meeting of the IAEA.
Britain, France and Germany, known as Europes Big 3 are reported to have offered Iran until November to respond to concern about its nuclear program, in a draft resolution that brings them closer to Washingtons hard line policy on Iran.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw vowed to maintain pressure on Iran over its nuclear plans, warning that Tehran had made commitments and now must fulfill them.
"We've taken a consistent line, a firm line in respect to Iran with our partners in France and in Germany," he said, referring to the trio of EU heavyweights who have led Europe's diplomatic offensive with Tehran.
He said that Iran had promised the EU trio last October that they would suspend all uranium enrichment and related activities. "Since then they have said that they are going to restart part of that process.
"That has undermined confidence in the international community in Iran's intentions; they cannot turn the issue of confidence on and off like a tap," he said.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer echoed Straw's comments.
"We think Iran should do everything to meet its commitments," he said. It is in their interests," he said, warning of "the risk of a miscalculation" by Tehran.
"I hope they realize that ... otherwise we will find ourselves in a serious situation".
The United States and Europe appeared close to agreement at the IAEA board of governors meeting over setting a deadline for Iran to allay suspicions that it is secretly making atomic weapons.
"I never set any deadlines ... it depends on the cooperation of Iran and it depends on other member states", ElBaradei told the press ahead of the meeting of the IAEA`s Board of Governors to discuss Irans nuclear case.
However, he urged Iran to do its utmost to continue to pursue a policy of full transparency and show full and active cooperation with the IAEA.
I would urge Iran, therefore, to continue to accelerate its cooperation, pursuing a policy of maximum transparency and confidence building, so that we can bring the remaining outstanding issues to resolution within the next few months and provide assurance to the international community, he added.
Talking to reporters minutes before the start of the meeting, Mr. Mousavian repeated that not only Iran has fulfilled its engagements, but has even gone further by opening sites and projects to the Agency's experts that were not included in the agreements.
According to Mr. Mousavian, who, as the Head of the Supreme Council on National Security's international department, is considered Iran's number two negotiator with the IAEA, although suspending enriching uranium was a voluntary and temporarily decision, but Iran continue not enriching uranium, one of the central issues in ongoing talks between Iran, the IAEA and the European trio made of Britain, France and Germany.
"We think Iran should do everything to meet its commitments" said German Foreign Affairs Minister Joska Fischer. It is in their interests" he said, warning of "the risk of a miscalculation" by Tehran.
Addressing reporters on the sidelines of the sixth session of the IAEA Board of Governors on Iran, ElBaradei stressed that such a move by Iran would help settle the remaining issues within the next few months and would provide assurances to the international community.
I have continued to stress to Iran that, during this delicate phase while work is still in progress to verify its past nuclear programme, and in light of serious international concerns surrounding that programme, it should do its utmost to build the required confidence through the Agency, he said in his introductory statement to the opening of the Agencys Board of Governors meeting in Vienna.
"To me this should be precursor or trigger for a broader dialogue on many of the underlying issues that are under discussion between Iran and the Europeans in particular and the international community in general", he added.
Confirming the Iranian side of the issue, Mr. ElBaradei also noted that no additional undeclared Iranian activities had come to light since his last report to the Board in June.
Iran has also provided new information in response to Agency requests, although in certain instances the process needed to be accelerated, he said, adding that progress was also made towards ascertaining the source of high enriched uranium (HEU) found at the Kalaye Electric Company and Natanz, in part due to the cooperation provided by other States, and it appears plausible that this HEU contamination may not have resulted from enrichment by Iran at these locations. But the IAEA is continuing to pursue the identification of sources and reasons for such contamination.
The IAEA voiced hope that the ongoing board deliberations would "go smoothly".
He termed the discussions on Irans nuclear program an "important issue".
"With regards to advanced centrifuges, again we are making some progress but we still need to have further information to make sure to confirm or validate Iran`s statement that nothing has happened in the period of 1995 until 2002".
To a question about IAEA and the Wests double standard regarding Iran and Israel, a country that is said to have hundreds of nuclear warheads while no stone is left unturned to prevent Iran getting nuclear technologies, Mr. ElBaradei pointed out that while Tehran is a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Jewish State, or Pakistan, the first Muslim country with Atomic bomb, are not.
We have obligations towards members of the NPT, ELBaradei answered, adding that he hoped to see al nations becoming member of the Treaty.
Iran accuses both the IAEA and the West, headed by the United States, to prevent the country getting what is its legitimate right under the NPT, meaning access to advanced nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Iranian officials in charge of the nuclear issue accuses the European Unions trio to have breached their part of the agreement signed last October in Tehran, assuring to help Iran getting the technology against signing the Additional Protocols to the NPT and suspending enriching uranium. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 13904
Top Arms Control Official To Discuss Iran In Israel
Gary Fitleberg, September 12, 2004
Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton is expected to travel to Israel on Sunday to meet with top security and intelligence officials for discussions about Iran's nuclear program, Reuters reported.
In talks with Israeli officials, Bolton would "compare notes" and discuss the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) Board meeting that starts Monday with an agenda focusing mainly on Iran.
Last week, the IAEA said in a report that Iran planned a "larger test" of a uranium conversion facility "involving 37 tons of yellowcake," which could result in enough uranium to build five nuclear weapons, Reuters reported.
Iran could develop nukes next year: Israeli official :
World News > Jerusalem, Sep 13 : Iran will be able to develop nuclear weapons by early next year if its atomic programmes are not obstructed, according to Israeli intelligence.
The Ha'aretz newspaper Monday quoted Israeli military intelligence chief Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash as saying: "If the processes continue as we are currently seeing them, the coming half year will determine whether Iran will achieve in spring 2005 an unconventional capability in the sphere of nuclear research and development," Xinhua reports.
"That is to say it will no longer require external aid to reach an unconventional capability," Ze'evi-Farkash told the Israeli-Jordanian Chamber of Commerce Sunday.
However, "this does not mean that it will have a bomb in 2005. It means that it will have all the means at its disposal to build a bomb", he said.
The Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces, Moshe Ya'alon, said Sunday that Iran's attempt to achieve nuclear weapons is not only a challenge to Israel but also to the Western world and its attempt to obtain unconventional weapons spells disaster for the stability of the Middle East.
The US has accused Iran of pursuing nuclear programmes secretly for years, a charge repeatedly denied by Tehran.
Instead, Iran claims that its nuclear ambitions are of a purely civilian nature.
Iran is now trying to take its nuclear issue off the meeting agenda of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors, which kicked off Monday in its headquarters in Vienna.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As he campaigns on a platform of having made America safer, President Bush usually does not talk about nuclear disputes with North Korea and Iran that show no sign of resolution.
Bush did not mention the two countries, once branded by him as part of an "axis of evil," in his recent Republican Convention address and he has not made them a campaign staple.
Jonathan Pollack, chairman of the Strategic Research Department at the Naval War College, said even though Vice President Dick Cheney and others have admitted time is running out for curbing the North's ambitions, Bush has displayed no sense of urgency and set no deadlines for acting.
"After years of wheels spinning on this issue in this administration, you don't get a sense that there is a clear executive level decision or understanding about what we should do," he told Reuters.
Henry Sokolski of the Non-proliferation Policy Education Center said "a clock is also ticking with Iran and it may have moved to the point where we have a nuclear ready nation."
But while faulting some aspects of Bush's policy, Sokolski said "at least he's moved off dead center" and is pushing the International Atomic Energy Agency to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible punitive action.
Sokolski is more critical of Democratic White House contender John Kerry for wanting to negotiate with Tehran, saying "we've passed the point of talking to Iran as equals" and a tougher approach, holding Iran responsible for its international obligations, is needed.
Bush focused on the issue in his first state of the union speech in January 2002, branding Iran and North Korea along with pre-war Iraq as members of the "axis of evil" in no small measure because of their nuclear ambitions.
Recent developments underscore the potential dangers as both Tehran and Pyongyang persist in moving forward with nuclear weapons-related activities that some say are more advanced than Iraq's program before the U.S. invasion.
On Monday, Iran said it was losing patience with U.N. inspections of its nuclear program and announced an agreement with the Europeans to halt uranium enrichment would soon end.
Washington accuses Iran of aggressively pursuing a nuclear program that could produce a weapon in three to five years. Tehran denies this, claiming it just wants to produce peaceful nuclear energy.
IENNA, Sept. 13 - The United States lobbied Monday to toughen an International Atomic Energy Agency draft resolution on Iran's nuclear program, hoping to include a clear "trigger" that would send Iran's case to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions if the country fails to comply with I.A.E.A. demands by November.
The proposed resolution, prepared by Britain, France and Germany, gives Iran a November deadline to clarify inconsistencies in its nuclear energy program, suspected of masking efforts to build a bomb. But it falls short of setting specific requirements or explicitly threatening to send the case to the Security Council.
Nonetheless, the draft resolution is the toughest yet in a yearlong effort to persuade Iran to cooperate more fully with the United Nations nuclear agency and shows a shift in Europe's attitude toward Iran. The three European countries have in the past resisted American pressure to deliver a harsher rebuke to Iran.
"The Europeans are taking a very hard line now," said a European diplomat involved in the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Iran warned Monday that it might resume efforts to produce highly enriched uranium that could be used to build a nuclear bomb if the United Nations continues pressuring it over its nuclear program. In March, Iran voluntarily agreed to suspend them.
"We can't imagine that the suspension will last very long," Hossein Mousavian, head of the Iranian delegation, told reporters at the I.A.E.A. headquarters here. He reiterated Iran's stance that under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty it has the right to produce fuel for nuclear reactors.
The United States and other countries, however, have long pointed to inconsistencies in Iran's program.
Despite the suspension Iran promised in March, it has never halted the manufacture of centrifuge parts by private workshops. This month, Iran said it planned to convert about 40 tons of "yellow cake" uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas, the raw material for centrifuge enrichment. Nuclear experts warned that the quantity involved was sufficient to produce fuel for several bombs.
The draft resolution circulated by the three European countries calls on the I.A.E.A. chief, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, to produce a full report on Iran's nuclear activities before the next meeting of the agency's board of governors. It states that on the basis of that report, the board will make "a definitive determination on whether or not further steps are required."
Everyone involved understands that those "further steps" include referral to the Security Council, which could lead to sanctions against Iran. The United States, which has lobbied for tougher action against Iran since details of its clandestine nuclear program were disclosed last year, is working to harden the resolution's language further and to include a clear trigger for action in November by giving Iran a list of requirements, like a comprehensive suspension of enrichment activity, that it must fulfill before then.
In Washington, a senior Bush administration official said the United States would still like the I.A.E.A. to refer the issue to the Security Council this month, rather than wait until November. But European diplomats say that the United States has little choice, because there are not the votes on agency's board of governors for a quicker referral.
Once the United States and the three European countries have agreed on the draft, the resolution will be submitted to the board for approval this week. The board can call for a vote, but resolutions are usually approved by consensus to avoid politicizing the agency's decisions.
Iran, which is not on the 35-member board, is negotiating with Britain, France and Germany to soften the resolution in return for renewed commitments on suspending some of its activities.
Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes. But the discovery two years ago that its program was much broader than it had disclosed to the United Nations agency and contained inadequately explained irregularities have convinced the United States that the oil-rich country's goal is not to produce cheap energy but to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Some Iranian equipment, for example, was found to be contaminated with weapons-grade uranium, and Iran had worked on producing polonium 210, a radioactive isotope that can help set off a nuclear explosion.
"There's a whole host of activities that in our opinion don't have anything to do with putting electricity into a light bulb," one Western official said.
Meanwhile, Dr. ElBaradei gave the board additional information on South Korea's secret nuclear experiments, disclosed this month, calling them "a matter of serious concern."
He said that South Korea had produced about 330 pounds of "natural uranium metal" at three secret facilities in the 1980's and that some of the metal was used in laser-based enrichment experiments in 2000 to produce a small amount of enriched uranium.
The disclosure suggests that South Korea's nuclear experiments had a longer history than previously thought, though South Korea contends that rogue scientists were responsible. Dr. ElBaradei said he would deliver a fuller report on South Korea in November.
Steven R. Weisman contributed reporting from Washington for this article.
Sep. 9, 2004 8:58
My Algeria is here
By AMOTZ ASA-EL, HERB KEINON, AND GIL HOFFMAN
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on disengagement, Iran, Syria, the PA, the US election and political reform
Ariel Sharon has been through years even more turbulent than the one that ends this week. In years like 1983, when a judicial committee deposed him as defense minister, or 1999, when his political career was already being eulogized following Likud's crushing defeat by Ehud Barak and Shas, Israel's most famous warrior was even more embattled than he was in the Jewish year of 5764.
And yet, during the closing year, Sharon has endured the most protracted, focused, and potentially discrediting legal situation ever faced by an Israeli premier. At the same time, he unveiled a highly contentious settlement dismantlement plan, only to see it meet a surprisingly organized, disciplined, and efficient resistance.
Still, with himself and his sons having emerged last spring legally unscathed from the so-called Greek Island scandal, Sharon seems brimming with renewed political confidence and fueled by a fresh war lust. When he asserts that the disengagement plan will be executed despite all the opposition that has so far stalled it, he pounds on the desk and trumpets his statement loud, slow, and clear.
While clearly facing a dilemma as he seeks a coalition with which to lead this effort, he scoffs when asked to weigh the threat that rivals like Ehud Barak or Shimon Peres might pose to him. To Sharon, the situation seems clear: There are in town only one game and one player, and those are his plan and its writer.
The potentially violent opposition that the Gaza pullout might generate doesn't seem to be a big threat to him, either. Yes, all should be done to prevent it, and the settlers - whom he repeatedly praises - must be dealt with respectfully, but otherwise the plans are in place, the schedule is set, and as far as he is concerned, the government has already decided to execute his plan.
Still, while some of its supporters have tried to portray his plan as a gateway to peace - and Shimon Peres has even said that it is "the continuation of Oslo" - Sharon stresses that his plan is actually that plan's antidote, "the blocking of the Oslo disaster."
And indeed, the old hawk in Sharon has not vanished. When discussing Israel's attitude toward the broader Middle East, or when recounting his conversations in recent days with Russian president Vladimir Putin ("I said to him, 'no Israeli premier will ever compromise Israeli security'"), Sharon makes it plain that in his view, the world remains the dangerous place it has been throughout his life, and that the days when lambs will live with wolves have yet to arrive.
Even so, Sharon is proud to have found time to launch what he says are the most reforms ever introduced by an Israeli government, a statement that historians are likely to debate in the future, but that is also far from unfounded, considering this government's myriad economic measures , from raising the retirement age and privatizing pension funds to slashing social spending and breaking the seaport monopoly. Coupled with his new resolve to undo a controversial settlement project, Sharon's domestic and foreign policies frequently generate comparisons to Charles de Gaulle.
Such analogies between his career and that of the French general-turned-president's flatter him, says Sharon with a smile, except there is one difference: De Gaulle's Algerian war-zone was overseas, "my Algeria," says the prime minister, "is here."
You are now championing the idea of unilateralism with the Palestinians. Is this because you don't feel it is possible to get anywhere with them through negotiations?
We accepted the road map, with our 14 reservations, and formally the Palestinians also accepted it. But nothing came out of it. There was no progress. I came to the conclusion that we will get nowhere along this path.
The road map speaks of stages. In the first stage there has to be a complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement, and only after that, when it ceases completely, can we move forward. There also has to be reform, a change of leadership, dismantling of the terror organizations, fighting terrorism and so on. Nothing is being done in this realm.
So I was faced with a number of alternatives. One was to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, to attack it. I thought that would be a mistake, because that would mean Israel taking upon itself the responsibility for the welfare, jobs, education and health of more than three million Palestinians. I thought that would be a big mistake; Israel cannot take this upon itself.
The second alternative was that Israel would carry out something like the Geneva initiative, and that if Israel would only sign an agreement, terror would end. We have already tried that a couple of times, and it failed.
The third alternative - and many people told me this would be the most comfortable thing to do - was not to do anything, except maybe to hold a meeting here and there with Palestinians. That would have enabled the continued existence of the government - because the government was stable - until the next elections. This would not upset the coalition.
I thought this was mistaken; I didn't think it would be possible to continue the current situation the way it is. This would have brought heavy pressure on Israel to come up with solutions, and there were all kinds of suggestions for various solutions.
I don't think the US, dealing with all its problems, would be able to stand there all the time and prevent the presentation of plans that could be dangerous to Israel.
There was also a problem with organizations that help the Palestinians. There are today 1.8 million Palestinians supported solely by aid from various international organizations. These organizations told us clearly that if we continue to hold on to the territories and run everything, they can't give that aid.
So I came to the conclusion that we had to find a different way. Last November, in a meeting I had with a White House representative in Rome, I talked about the situation, the lack of a true partner with whom it would be possible to come to any agreement, and I presented the unilateral disengagement plan. This was not the road map. I said that if the Palestinians do what they have to do, it will be possible to move forward afterward, according to the road map.
The Europeans are adamant that the disengagement must be seen as part of the road map. You are adamant that it is not. Why? What is the difference?
It [disengagement] is not part of the road map. The minute I say it is part of the road map, I absolve the Palestinians of their responsibility to implement the stage without which it is impossible to go into the road map: dealing with terror.
In order not to find ourselves in diplomatic negotiations before the Palestinians do the main thing they need to, [it is important to say] we are not in the road map. We are taking a course of action that precedes the road map, that may lead to the road map.
What you are saying is that disengagement is a remedy to Oslo?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to give a full remedy here, because the worst thing that happened [as a result of Oslo] was the arrival of terrorists. But I would say this puts an end to Oslo, and attempts to move it to another track.
We ask this because Shimon Peres recently told the Post he wants to join your government because disengagement is a continuation of Oslo. You say it puts an end to Oslo. How are these two views to be reconciled?
We have seen what Oslo wrought, the victims killed. Regarding Peres's desire to join the government, Israel is standing today before a difficult and complicated situation that in my opinion necessitates the maximum unity possible. I never disqualified any party, certainly not the Labor Party, because I think everyone must stand together facing the dangers on one side, and hope on the other.
What is disengagement meant to achieve?
If the Palestinians do their part [under the road map], it is meant to open the door to a diplomatic process. That is the intention. And that is of course beyond the major achievements we [already] gained as a result of the agreement between us and the US on the disengagement plan.
This [US President George W. Bush's letter to Sharon in April] was the first time that we heard that the Palestinian refugees can't return to Israel, only to a Palestinian state, when it emerges - and it will only emerge after the road map, after the terror ends, because otherwise it will be impossible to go into the road map. This is an unprecedented statement Israel has never received before.
The letter also included the clear statement that it is impossible to ignore the new realities on the ground - the large settlement blocs - and that means that it will be impossible, even if we get to negations someday with the Palestinians, to ignore these settlement blocs. This will make it impossible to return to the 1949 armistice lines.
There are other major achievements [from the letter]. First, that it will be impossible to pressure Israel into any plan, except for the road map, and the road map is possible only when there is no terror. The right of Israel to self-defense, and the right to take action in areas where it withdraws.
Another thing that I think is of preeminent importance is the recognition of the existential threats facing Israel by forces in the region, not necessarily only those in close proximity. In other words, standing by Israel's need to retain deterrence, and defend its very existence - the recognition of the existential threats facing Israel.
Regarding the settlement blocs, you have the commitment in the Bush letter about recognizing new realities on the ground. How then do you explain the huge outcry when tenders are issued to build another few hundred units in Ma'aleh Adumim, which clearly falls within this definition? If the US agrees that these blocs will be part of Israel, why all the noise?
First, the US has since 1967 never agreed to Jewish settlements, and we should not expect that they will today stand up and say they support Jewish settlement. They also have their own problems.
But there is the letter, the commitment in the letter.
When you talk to the Americans, they always say, 'Wait a minute, today you are building hundreds of apartments in Betar Illit, more than that perhaps, hundreds in Ma'aleh Adumim, you are building.' It is clear, by the way, that Ma'aleh Adumim will be inside the fence; that is completely clear.
If you ask me what brings about these statements, I would say only the [Israeli] provocations - when you have a cornerstone-laying ceremony, and hold press conferences, and declare what you are doing, that makes it difficult for them.
Is there a quiet agreement with the US that construction can continue in the large settlement blocs?
I don't know if there is a quiet agreement, but if you ask me whether it will be possible to build in the large blocs, yes, we can build in the large blocs.
Regarding the smaller areas, looking back today - as you are working on evacuating Gaza - would you agree it was a mistake to establish settlements there in the first place?
I never like to pass off responsibly onto others, but the settlements in Gaza began when I was OC Southern Command, maybe even before that, by Labor governments. It is possible that they had different thoughts then. I don't attack that decision, I think that it was right, but many years have passed since then, and the data have changed.
I don't see any possibility today that a Jewish settlement can exist inside the Gaza Strip. There are 1.2 million Palestinians; it takes an enormous security effort [to protect the settlements]. It appears to me that disengagement is the right thing to do - from all points of view, diplomatic and security - in a place where it is clear that Jews will not be able to live.
In my opinion, the conditions that have been created since  are conditions that put Israel in a different security and diplomatic situation, and this [disengagement] will give us the opportunity to hold on to places with strategic importance to Israel in Judea and Samaria.
Why not hold a national referendum today on disengagement, which could be a counterbalance to the Likud referendum that failed?
If you ask me what mistakes I made, I would say that one of the mistakes was not going to a general referendum.
I don't know if it is possible now [to hold a general referendum] when we are in the midst of the process.
In an interview you granted us last year, you said Jews will live forever in Shiloh and Beit El under Israeli sovereignty. Is that comment still valid?
I don't see the possibility of Jews not living in Shiloh or Beit El, or not controlling Rachel's Tomb or living in Hebron. I don't see that possibility.
But much of what you say about the difficulty of sustaining settlements in Gaza can also be said about those areas in the West Bank that are densely populated with Palestinians.
The situation in Gaza is more difficult, from that standpoint. The areas of Judea and Samaria are strategically more vital.
How does that fit in with what your deputy Ehud Olmert said a few weeks ago, that after the four settlements in Samaria are evacuated, many others in the West Bank will follow?
I can't keep track of what everyone says.
So now we are asking?
I gave you an answer.
There won't be further evacuations in the West Bank beyond the four settlements in northern Samaria?
As long as we cannot get to a situation where negotiations are possible, nothing else is being discussed beyond the settlements in Gaza and the four in northern Samaria.
So are you saying that after disengagement there will be no more settlement evacuations until there is a Palestinian partner?
Not until it is possible to enter negotiations on the basis of the road map. As long as the terror does not completely stop, as long as the [Palestinian] reforms are not carried out, and the terror organizations are not dismantled and their weapons not confiscated, there will be no additional course of action beyond this one.
Regarding the fence, what do you make of the International Court of Justice's ruling?
It was a grave, politically motivated ruling, and we do not obey it.
Are you concerned about UN sanctions?
No, I think [sanctions] need to be prevented there [in the Security Council]. If it gets there, it needs to be prevented, and there is one country [the US] that can do so.
But a resolution for sanctions will still likely return for a vote in the General Assembly?
There [in the General Assembly] many things are said, many of them very grave. This only shows us that those who think the Jewish struggle for the existence of an independent Jewish state in the Jewish homeland has stopped are mistaken. Jews will need to continue to fight for their existence in the State of Israel.
When it comes to the security of Israel, only we will decide on this matter, and no one else can determine the security needs for Israel, only Israel. If Israel wants to exist as an independent country, only it will determine its security needs.
What do you say to those Jews who will wake up one morning, like in Ofra, and find themselves on the other side of the security fence?
Look, it would have been better if we could have built the fence farther east than where we built it. All the Jewish settlements will be protected, they will be protected beyond the fence, there will be some that are protected inside the fence, and some that are protected in a cluster of settlements by another fence.
It was impossible to include hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in enclaves inside the fence. This situation would not last. It is impossible to prevent a Palestinian farmer from working his land, or [tending] to his flocks, beyond the fence.
But to the world it looks like you wanted to do just that, and that because of the pressure from the world and the Supreme Court you were unable to.
You have to understand that our security areas do not end with the fence. The security zone does not end with the fence. Is Ariel not inside the security zone?
What do you mean by security zones?
If we say that Area A is under full Palestinian responsibility, Area B is shared Palestinian administrative responsibility and Israeli security responsibility, and Area C refers to complete Israeli security responsibility, then these settlements [beyond the fence] are inside Area C, inside the security zones. It would be impossible to place hundreds of thousands of Palestinians inside enclaves in this region, but the Jewish settlements will all be protected, in some cases as part of blocs, and in other cases as lone settlements.
Many people ask how you can evacuate 8,000 people from Gush Katif when we saw this week you can't move two mobile homes from outside of Nofei Prat.
We are working very hard now on all these issues. The IDF received directives to present a plan to the cabinet within 30 days.
Are you worried about civil war?
First, everything must be done to ensure that it [disengagement] passes quietly. We must understand that we are talking about exceptional people who are going through a major upheaval. There are places [in the Gaza settlements] where the third generation is living there. These are wonderful people, really exceptional. We need to understand the difficulties they are facing. It has to be done with as much appreciation, empathy and amicability as possible. I have given directives to act in this manner.
This is a very complex action that will necessitate a large number of soldiers to isolate the area, and of course, to prevent disturbances or firing on those who are evacuating.
But are you concerned about Jewish violence?
I hope it won't happen. We need to understand that we are talking about a government decision, and government decisions need to be carried out, with all the pain and difficulty that they entail.
Of course, incitement will impact on what happens. This plan will be carried out, period. I am saying now that no one should think that all the means necessary will not be made available - all the budgets needed - in order for it to be carried out.
There was a clear decision by the government on disengagement. And I will bring it to the Knesset. I promised to do so, and I will.
Regarding Syria, Bashar Assad made comments recently, as he has in the past, about a willingness to renew talks with Israel. Is there anything to talk about with the current Syrian regime?
Syria is a factor with influence on the terror against Israel. The headquarters of terrorist organizations - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] and a number of others - work from Damascus. The orders [for attacks in Israel] are given from there, and reports are sent back there. Together with Iran, they built Hizbullah. The Syrians allow Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon, in an area that has been under complete Syrian occupation since January 1976.
They armed Hizbullah, together with the Iranians, primarily the Iranians. They are preventing the Lebanese army from deploying on the border. Hizbullah, on Syria's orders, is deployed along the border, causing incidents and constant tension along the border.
Syria is under US pressure today because of its position on Iraq, and because it lets terrorists go through its territory on the way to Iraq. So it is clear to me that the Syrians, in order to make life easier for themselves, find it comfortable to say there are contacts, negotiations and so forth.
If their intention is real, the first thing they have to do is dismantle the terror headquarters, stop allowing the training of terrorist organizations on Syrian soil, and kick out the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
In order to show that their intentions are true, and not only a public-relations trick to reduce American pressure, they have plenty to do. The call for negotiations cannot be just a declaration, it has to be [accompanied by] action. They are standing behind terror to a large extent, they are letting Iranians, that is Hizbullah, operate inside Israel. And therefore [renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations] aren't on the horizon right now.
The announcement that they want peace does not create the background for peace negotiations. We can only look at what they do, and what they are doing shows no signs, even the smallest, that their intentions are serious.
Iran seems intent on obtaining nuclear arms. Is there an international force that can pressure Iran, and is not acting as it should?
Without a doubt, Iran is making efforts to have nuclear weapons. There is no doubt. That is its intention, and it is doing it by deception and subterfuge, using this cover or that. This is completely clear.
I don't see that [international] activity against it is enough to stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons. And that is a very big danger, especially since Iran managed to develop the Shihab-3 that has a range of 1,300 km. and puts Israel in its range. It is working on a missile with a range of 2,500 km. This is a country that calls for the destruction of Israel, the "moderates" call for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, and they are doing everything to get weapons of mass destruction.
Actions are being taken, but I don't think the pressure is enough. Two things need to be done. First is to increase supervision; we are talking about a huge country. And the second thing is to bring it to the UN Security Council, use diplomatic and economic pressure.
Israel is not at the head of this campaign. Israel is taking its own measures to defend itself. But apparently, if you want to stop Iran, and it is still possible, it will need to be taken to the Security Council.
Regarding the elections in the US, there is an impression that you support Bush. What do you say to those who believe this?
First of all, I don't interfere in elections. I never interfere in elections in other countries, and I hope that they will never interfere here either. I have no need to interfere and it is forbidden to interfere.
It is no secret that the US is Israel's devoted friend. There is a traditional friendship between the US and Israel. It is mutual.
There is no doubt that President Bush is a friend of Israel. And I also think that our array of ties and strategic cooperation between the countries is at a level where it has never been before.
With that, we do not interfere. And in my opinion, if John Kerry is elected, or if George Bush is elected, I am sure that the policy will be that which was established by President Bush.
Are you concerned that the simmering spy sandal in the US will have a negative impact on relations?
Israel is not carrying out any espionage activity in the US. On these issues there are unequivocal statements, and that is the policy, that is the way Israel acts - it does not carry out espionage in the US. The array of ties is not beyond what is acceptable. Israel does not spy in the US. I say this in the most emphatic way possible.
When will there be elections in Israel, and are you concerned more about Shimon Peres or Ehud Barak?
I think the elections should be held on the date they were set. I don't think that now, in the current situation, with the beginning of disengagement, we need to do anything that could harm that plan, which is so very important for Israel.
I don't think there needs to be new elections. I don't think we need to drag the country into elections at this time. I think we must make every effort to ensure that we don't go to new elections.
I am not concerned about him [Peres] or him [Barak]. What is there to be concerned about? I am in the midst of carrying out a series of revolutionary actions, which the government has done in the last three years in every facet of life. If you take the diplomatic issue - disengagement; if you take the security realm - the fence; in education - the Dovrat Reform we are working on now, the Dovrat plan. Everyone talks about the fence; I'm the one who started it, with all its problems. To drag the country now to elections would be a mistake.
How about election reform? Are you still interested in a universal-primaries law? Do you hope to pass it in this Knesset?
I see there is an awakening in this area, and it may be possible to do it.
Are you interested?
I think it is the right thing to do.
Many have compared you to Charles de Gaulle, a general-turned-statesman who looked for dramatic international solutions and made important internal reforms. What do you think about these comparisons?
I never met de Gaulle, but I know his history. I had very close relations with the French when I was a paratroop commander before the Sinai Campaign [in 1956]. My base was one of the places where the French came and stayed, that was during the honeymoon between Israel and France. De Gaulle doesn't need my compliments. We had good periods and difficult periods with him.
But if you are trying to compare our situation with Algeria, I have to say that the difference is that our Algeria is here. There is no possibility for Israeli residents to go somewhere else. This is Algeria, so that comparison doesn't hold.
Thousands of opponents of the Iranian government demonstrated in Brussels yesterday, demanding the European Union harden its policy on Tehran and remove a key exiled opposition group from its list of terror groups.
Waving banners declaring "The Mullahs are the terrorists", Iranian exiles called for referring Tehran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council, as Washington is seeking.
Rally organisers said over 25,000 joined the protest outside an EU ministers' meeting. Police put the figure at 4,500.
"We are only demanding that any support for the ruling theocracy, particularly at the expense of the Iranian people and resistance, be halted at once," Maryam Rajavi, one of the main leaders of the exiled Iranian opposition, told the rally.
The EU put the People's Mujahideen Organisation (MKO), the main armed Iranian opposition group, on its list of terrorist organisations in early 2002. It found that prior to the US-led Iraq war, the group had used the country to attack Iran and had several camps equipped with tanks, guns and helicopter gunships.
MKO supporters point to a recent decision by the US military to give its members protected status in Iraq after establishing they had not been combatants there.
EU officials were, however, unwilling to reassess the MKO. "I have seen no evidence in favour of removing them (from the terrorist list)," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters. "The answer to that is 'no'."
The political arm of the MKO, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, made headlines in 2002 by revealing that Tehran was concealing several nuclear facilities from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The EU has resisted US and other pressure to send the dispute to the UN Security Council, which could punish Tehran with sanctions, preferring instead to pursue dialogue with Iran.
In a new sign that the dialogue is faltering, Iran told a meeting of the IAEA in Vienna yesterday it was losing patience with inspections and announced its agreement with the Europeans to halt uranium enrichment would soon come to an end.
Pressuring Tehran on another front, EU officials in Brussels said the bloc would co-sponsor a possible UN draft resolution with Canada raising the alarm over human rights in Iran.
"The human rights situation is deteriorating all the time in Iran," Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds told reporters.
September 14, 2004
BY GEORGE JAHN
VIENNA, Austria -- Buoyed by growing European support, the United States lobbied the U.N. atomic watchdog agency Monday to send Iran before the U.N. Security Council for refusing to freeze work that can produce nuclear weapons.
A European diplomat said Washington had revised a resolution originally drafted by France, Germany and Britain, adding an Oct. 31 deadline and toughening language meant to force Iran to dispel all suspicions it is trying to make nuclear arms in violation of treaty commitments.
The draft, summarized by the diplomat, demands ''complete, immediate and unrestricted access'' to all sites and information requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency in its probe into Iran's nearly two-decade-long clandestine nuclear program.
The secret work was discovered only two years ago, bringing intensifying international pressure on Iran's government to end nuclear programs that have uses in both electricity generation and the production of atomic weapons, such as uranium enrichment.
The draft demands Iran provide a complete list of nuclear materials and know-how it imported, along with the black market suppliers, and the ''immediate suspension'' of all uranium reprocessing and activities related to uranium enrichment.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the draft also would require a ''definite determination'' by the IAEA of whether Iran fulfilled these conditions.
BAGHDAD, Sept 14 (KUNA) -- Director of the Iranian hajj (pilgrimage) and visits organization bureau in Baghdad, Reda Mohammadi was assassinated by armed men on a road between the cities of Najaf and Karbala.
The Iranian embassy here told KUNA Tuesday that the armed men attacked the vehicle of the Iranian official on the road leading to Najaf south of Karbala.
Spokesman of the embassy quoted the spouse of Mohammadi, who was with him ‏in the car, saying that four unidentified armed men opened fire at their vehicle which was driven by Mohammadi.
According to the embassy, Mohammadi, his wife and two children were heading to Najaf before their vehicle was attacked last Sunday, where they all survived except for Mohammadi.
The first secretary of the Iranian embassy, Khalil Nueimi was also assassinated on April15 th by armed men who opened fire against him near the Iranian embassy.
Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of three journalists arrested on 7-8 September 2004 in Tehran and of retired film director Said Motallebi, father of exiled journalist Sina Motallebi.
The international press freedom organisation condemned the "unfair detention" of Babak Ghafori Azar, Shahram Rafihzadeh and Hanif Mazroi and raised serious fears about their welfare.
It said it was "extremely worried, based on their families' suspicions of ill-treatment, and because they are being held in a 'special wing' of Evin prison notorious for the use of torture."
"The arrest of Said Motallebi, 62, aimed at gagging his son, Sina, an Iranian journalist who has sought exile in Europe, is a despicable act", it said. "We call on the Iranian judicial authorities to halt this vile blackmail," it added.
Three journalists detained in Evin prison
Three weeks after the authorities shut down the news site Rouydad (Events), journalists Babak Ghafori Azar, Shahram Rafihzadeh and Hanif Mazroi were arrested by Edareh Amaken - the Tehran police unit usually responsible for cases of morals and close to the Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi. Evin prison in the north of Tehran where they are being held is notorious for the use of torture, under which Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi died on 10 July 2003.
Fears for their welfare have been heightened by the fact they are being held in a 'special wing' of the prison, under the direct orders of prosecutor Mortazavi.
UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion, Ambeyi Ligabo and Louis Joinet, chair of the working group on arbitrary detention of the UN Human Rights Commission, were refused access to this part of the jail during their visits to Iran in 2003 and 2004.
Not even the prison governor can enter this part of the prison, to which only intelligence service interrogators under the orders of Mortazavi are admitted.
Detention of the father of journalist Sina Motallebi
Said Motallebi, father of journalist Sina Motallebi living in exile in Holland from where he runs the news site www.rooznegar.com, was arrested in Tehran on 8 September.
He was previously summoned by the justice system the day after a press conference in Paris at the headquarters of Reporters Without Borders on 8 June 2004. Sina Motallebi, both at this conference and in several articles published later, spoke out about torture and ill-treatment that he suffered while in solitary confinement from 20 April to 12 May 2003.
The Iranian authorities had threatened to make Said Motallebi "another Pourzand" (a reference to journalist Siamak Pourzand, 75, jailed since 30 March 2003 and whose health has badly deteriorated in prison) if his son did not keep silent. Said Motallebi is in a poor state of health and suffers from heart problems.
September 14, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
Review & Outlook
Who says we aren't getting a foreign-policy debate this election season? In addition to Iraq, the Kerry-Edwards campaign has decided to make an issue of how to handle two other members of the original "axis of evil," Iran and North Korea. In a phrase, they are proposing to take us back to the future of arms control.
Some of us were hoping that that doctrine had died along with the Cold War, but Mr. Kerry is bidding to revive it as the centerpiece of his anti-nuclear proliferation policy. The idea -- much loved during the "detente" with the Soviet Union during the 1970s -- is that the way to make the U.S. secure is to persuade adversaries to sign treaties promising not to build more weapons, or in the present era not to become nuclear powers in the first place. We will then dispatch U.N. inspectors to verify compliance, and everyone can sleep better at night.
This past weekend, Mr. Kerry suggested that President Bush is to blame because North Korea unilaterally withdrew from its nuclear nonproliferation agreement with the U.S. in 2002, and is now believed to possess at least a couple of nuclear warheads. There's one slight problem with this argument: North Korea is the party that broke its promise.
Under the arms control agreement negotiated by the Clinton Administration -- the so-called Agreed Framework of 1994 -- the U.S. attempted to buy off Pyongyang with fuel oil and two light water reactors in exchange for North Korea giving up its nuclear program. But as soon as the North deemed it convenient, it repudiated that pact, booted U.N. inspectors out of the country, and turned off the TV cameras monitoring its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon. It then began demanding even a larger payoff in return for giving up the nuclear program it had earlier vowed it didn't have.
Having been burned once, the Bush Administration has since been trying (in concert with our Asian allies) to negotiate a new nonproliferation regime that is more credible than one more North Korean promise. But Mr. Kerry seems to be worried that the White House has been driving too hard a bargain: He wants the U.S. to agree to sit down, one-on-one with the North (so much for multilateralism), and hash out another Agreed Framework. No wonder Pyongyang is avoiding any serious negotiations until after it sees who wins in November.
The same arms-control mentality also marks the Kerry strategy toward Iran. Mr. Edwards recently said that a Kerry Administration would allow Tehran to fire up its Russian-built nuclear reactors, and even provide them with fuel, so long as the mullahs agreed to let the international community repossess the weapons-usable byproducts.
This too is the triumph of hope over experience. Just yesterday the member countries of the International Atomic Energy Agency were meeting in Geneva to discuss the next steps in response to nearly 20 years of Iranian deception. Two years ago an Iranian resistance group alerted the world to Iran's previously undeclared nuclear sites, and subsequent inspections have provoked a familiar pattern of bluster and lies that practically screams "bomb program."
Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center points out that the fresh nuclear fuel that Messrs. Kerry and Edwards want to give the mullahs is already halfway along the enrichment process toward being weapons-usable. With sophisticated and hidden enrichment capabilities of the type we know Iran already has, the country could be within days of having a bomb core were it to seize and divert the reactor fuel. In any case, the mullahs are currently ruling out the possibility of a Kerry-Edwards type deal, demanding to be recognized as a normal nuclear nation with a right to control all stages of its nuclear fuel cycle.
IAEA member states are increasingly frustrated by the mullahs' deceptions and may be ready to refer them to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions by next time the IAEA meets in November. We wish we could be more confident that the Bush Administration was working on pre-emptive military options should they become necessary. But at least it has refused to accept the inevitability of a Persian nuke. "We're determined that they're not going to achieve a nuclear-weapons capability," says Undersecretary of State John Bolton.
The essence of the Kerry-Edwards proposals, by contrast, is that if Iran and North Korea have a history of dealing in bad faith it's because we Americans aren't being cooperative enough. "The idea that there's a big bargain out there that the Iranians will live up to is nutty in light of the last six months," says the Nonproliferation Center's Mr. Sokolski.
So Americans really are getting a proliferation policy choice presented to them this November. If voters think that arms-control agreements like those in the 1970s and during the Clinton years are the best way to rein in rogue states with nuclear ambitions, they should vote for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. ...