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

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

1 posted on 09/16/2004 10:15:10 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

2 posted on 09/16/2004 10:17:19 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Shell Confirms LNG Framework Pact With Iran Signed Thursday

[Excerpt]

Thursday September 16, 2:15 PM EDT

VIENNA -(Dow Jones)- Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD) confirmed Thursday that it has signed a project framework agreement with Iran, as part of its Persian liquefied natural gas joint venture with Spain's Repsol (REP).

Shell spokesman Simon Buerk told Dow Jones Newswires the deal was still subject to the approval of the Iranian authorities.

Earlier, Buerk said the pact with Repsol and the National Iranian Oil Co. would "take forward the Persian LNG project to the next stage of design. Although good progress has been made, significant commercial and engineering work still needs to be undertaken and we will not reach the stage of being able to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the project for at least two years." On the impact of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act on the deal, Buerk said; "ILSA is a government matter between the U.S. and the E.U."

ILSA was passed by the U.S. Congress and can be used to punish non-U.S. firms for investing more than $20 million a year in the energy sectors in Iran or Libya.

3 posted on 09/16/2004 10:19:48 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

AS TEHRAN AND WASHINGTON EXCHANGES ACCUSATIONS, US AND EU GET TOGETHER ON IRAN

By Safa Haeri
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2004

VIENNA, 16 Sept. (IPS) As the European Union’s so-called “Big 3” and the United States reached an agreement on a draft resolution concerning Iran’s controversial nuclear activities, the regime’s former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned the Europeans that there are limits to Iran’s capacity for compromise.

The United States reached an agreement with France, Britain and Germany on a draft U.N. resolution on Iran that calls for an immediate halt to Tehran's uranium enrichment program, a diplomat said late on Thursday.

The draft dropped the “trigger mechanism” that existed in the proposal by the Americans, Australians and the Canadians urging the international nuclear watchdog to report “automatically” the case of Iran to the United Nations Security Council for adopting sanctions in case Tehran did not comply with the demands formulated by the Board of Directors.

A diplomat at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the key points of the resolution calls for the IAEA to make a decision in November "whether or not to take appropriate steps" regarding Iran's commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), according to the British news agency Reuters.

The diplomat said that this meant that the board would decide whether to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which can impose economic sanctions, for violating the NPT by hiding its uranium enrichment program for nearly two decades.

"If they (EU’s trio) behave like this, our capacity for compromise will naturally shrink and we will act more independently", Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani said adding that Iran would “never part from our compromise policy, but we will not go back on our course either”

Iran would resist all international pressures”, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani assured.

The cleric, who, as the Chairman of the Expedience Council, is the regime’s number two man after the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i stressed that Iran is open to a “deal” with the Europeans as long as the country’s legitimate rights to peaceful nuclear technology is observed.

Iran would resist all international pressures”, the cleric assured, as the disclosure by an American television that Iran has hide a complex for production of nuclear weapons triggered a new round of accusations and counter accusations between Tehran and Washington.

ABC News quoted on Wednesday US experts saying that the Parchin military complex might be involved in the research, testing, and possibly production of nuclear weapons.

The complex, located about 30 kilometers southeast of Tehran, is a huge site dedicated to the research, development, and production of ammunition, rockets, and high explosives, David Albright, a scientist, has told the network.

The site is owned by Iran's military industry and has hundreds of buildings and test sites. According to the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), the IAEA has known about this site for some time and it has independently assessed its potential for nuclear weapons work. As a result of its analysis, the IAEA recently asked Iran about visiting this location. But Iran has so far not agreed, added the AFP report.

ABC said Iran has refused IAEA nuclear experts to visit the site.

But Mr, Hoseyn Mousavian, the spokesman for the Iranian delegation at the ongoing talks in Vienna dismissed the allegations as "a lie" and said that the agency had not asked to visit the site.

the key points of the resolution calls for the IAEA to make a decision in November

"This is a new lie, like the last 13 lies based on news reports that have been proved to be lies", Mr Mousavian told Iran Press Service, adding that the whole “bunch of lies” are aimed at influencing the Agency’s Board decision on iran, expected for Friday or Saturday.

A U.S. official expressed alarm Thursday about a possible nuclear-weapons-related test site in Iran and accused the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency of keeping silent on its own concerns about the issue.

"This is a serious omission", on the part of IAEA director general Mohammad ElBarade’i, said the official, alluding to the lack of specific mention on Parchin in a report written for the board by ElBarade’i on the status of a probe into Iran's nuclear activities.

The official said the United States would "go to the other board members" and make sure the suspicious site is considered in any Iran resolution submitted to the board meeting.

Mousavian said the allegation was timed to influence talks on a draft resolution on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran Foreign Affairs Ministry’s spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said on Thursday that experience has shown that Americans use pressure and resort to hue and cry whenever they run out of any justification and logic to convince others.

“Prior to the former session of the IAEA Board of Governors; the US had mentioned to the name of Lavizan, an area in northern Tehran with hue and cry hen it was proved a lie. This time, and as they are not sure to push with their resolution, they got Parchin out of their sleeves”, the spokesman observed.

Iran is not prohibited from enrichment under its obligations to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But it has faced mounting international pressure to suspend such activities, which can produce uranium for generating power or making nuclear weapons, as a good-faith gesture to prove it is not seeking to make atomic weapons.

The IAEA meeting adjourned Wednesday to allow for back-room negotiations and consultations with capitals. Plans were to reconvene Friday for a vote on a final version of the Iran resolution.

"We have done everything to build confidence, but if the Europeans want us to do something else we can discuss it", Mr. Mousavian said, warning that Iran’s patience “has limits”.

Although the IAEA has uncovered undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, it has found nothing to prove the U.S. allegations.

European diplomats believe the demand to report Iran to the Security Council immediately would be counterproductive.

“There are five members at the Security Council with veto right. If we decide on strong measures against the Islamic Republic, not only it will face veto by Russia or China, the measure would also help Iran’s hard line rulers to get out of the NPT and follow the path of North Korea”, one diplomat explained, speaking with IPS

But if Tehran goes ahead with its plans to enrich uranium, the EU trio would accept the idea of reporting Iran when the IAEA meets in November, diplomats say.

However, Mr Mousavian, who is also the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council on National Security’s Foreign Policy Committee, said Iran was not afraid of being reported.

"We are not really afraid of the Security Council, but it would be a setback in our cooperation (with the IAEA)", he said. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 16904

4 posted on 09/16/2004 10:26:22 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/107069/1/.html

US, Europe agree on draft resolution for Iran nuclear programme: US official

VIENNA : The United States and Europe's three main states reached agreement in Vienna on a UN draft resolution on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, a US official said.

The resolution does not set an October 31 ultimatum for Iran to comply with demands from the UN nuclear watchdog, according to a copy of the text obtained by AFP.

A US State Department official told AFP the text had been approved by President George W. Bush's top non-proliferation official, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, but still had to be approved by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It also must be approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors, meeting this week in Vienna. Many members of the board, including non-aligned nations, had been hostile to the US's insistence on an ultimatum.

The United States, which charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, would like to see the IAEA board judge Iran in non-compliance with nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards and take Tehran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

A Western diplomat close to the talks in Vienna said that despite the United States acceding to demands from Britain, France and Germany to drop the ultimatum, "the language is still pretty tough. There are the equivalent of two strong deadlines in the text."

The draft says it is "imperative" for Iran to clear up "outstanding issues" with the IAEA "before the board's November 25 meeting," such as "the sources and reasons for enriched uranium contamination and the import, manufacture and use of centrifuges."

It also said it "is necessary that Iran immediately suspend all enrichment-related activities, including the manufacture or import of centrifuge components, the assembly and testing of centrifuges and the production of feed material" for enriching uranium, the process that produces fuel for civilian reactors but also the explosive core for atomic bombs.

The draft says the IAEA board of governors will decide at a meeting in November "whether or not further steps are appropriate in relation to Iran's obligations under its NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) safeguards agreement and to the requests made of Iran by the board in this and previous resolutions."

Such steps could be to take Iran to the Security Council, although there is no automatic requirement for the board to do this, as the United States had wanted.

- AFP


6 posted on 09/16/2004 10:30:47 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn


Pedestrians walk by a movie theatre showing Michael Moore's film 'Fahrenheit 9/11' in Tehran [news] as cinemagoers in the Iranian capital are given their first glimpse of the controversial US documentary(AFP/Atta Kenare).

Michael Moore's flick was largely condemned by the Iranian populace as too political.

"They are showing this film to erase from our minds the idea that America is the great saviour," said Hirad Harandian, another cinemagoer at the uptown Farhang cinema.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1216998/posts
7 posted on 09/16/2004 10:34:09 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn

Analysis: Iran's Theological Community Contends With Changing World



Iran -- Khomeini, Ali, Ayatollah, 3
Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini
The 1979 Islamic revolution struck Iran's religious community as the dawn of a new and promising era for the country and its faithful. A quarter of a century later things don't look so rosy for the clerics -- many Iranians view them with disdain, and Al-Najaf, the center of Shi'a learning in Iraq, seems set to eclipse the Iranian theocratic center of Qom.

The major Shi'a cities in Iran are Qom and Mashhad. There are almost 60 seminaries in Qom, the most prominent of which are Fayzieh, Dar ul-Shafa, Hojjatieh, Sayteh, and Golpayegani. Qom also has 10 libraries, and several Islamic periodicals are published there. Mashhad is the site of the tomb of Imam Reza and 20 seminaries, including Khairat Khan, Mirza Jafar, and Navvah. There are also seminaries in Isfahan (ex: Chahar Bagh, Mullah Abdullah), Shiraz, Tabriz, Tehran, and Yazd.

Fifteen years ago, Nikola B. Schahgaldian wrote in "The Clerical Establishment in Iran," (RAND Publication Series prepared for the Office of the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, [June 1989]), that the estimated number of Iranian clergymen ranged from 90,000 (media observers), to 200,000 (Iranian clerics themselves), to 300,000 (European sources). Another 50,000-60,000 Iranians had some religious training. There were about 40,000 theology students at Iranian seminaries. Finally, there were some 60,000 people with no formal training or qualifications who acted as urban preachers, rural-prayer leaders, and procession organizers.
Leading clerics' unhappiness with the country's politics is illustrated by the point that eight of the top 12 ayatollahs reportedly refused to vote in the February 2004 elections.


In early September 2004, a prominent theologian told a reporter that Iran remains very attractive to religious scholars. Hojatoleslam Husseini-Bushehri, who is either director of the Qom Theological Seminaries (Howzeh-yi Elmieh-yi Qom) or the Qom Theological Lecturers Association (Jameh-yi Mudarresin-i Howzeh-yi Elmieh-yi Qom), announced that there are hundreds of scholars from around the world studying at religious institutions in Isfahan, Mashhad, Qom, Tehran, and other cities, "Resalat" reported on 5 September. In Qom alone, Husseini-Bushehri said, there are 50,000 students from 70 countries. There are 300 religious research centers in Qom, he added, and 3,000 seminaries in the entire country.

Other major Shi'a centers are in the Iraqi cities of Al-Najaf and Karbala, and the Baghdad neighborhood of Khazimiyah. "Najaf has been the revered center of Shiite Islam for 1,000 years; it is the most respected shrine," Iranian scholar Abdolkarim Soroush said in an interview ("Rise of Iraqi Shiites Threatens Iranian Theocrats," "New Perspectives Quarterly" vol. 21, no. 2 March 2004). The seminary in Qom, Soroush added, "is barely 100 years old." With the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime, therefore, Al-Najaf is likely to become a center of apolitical and quietist Shi'a Islam.

Lebanon's importance as a site of Shi'a learning is growing, particularly in terms of teaching Lebanese ulama (see Rula Jurdi Abisaab, "The Lebanese Hawza of al-Rasul al-Akram: Toward a Redefinition of the Shi'ite 'Alim," in "Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years," Houchang Chehabi and Hassan Mniemnieh, eds., [London: IB Tauris, 2004]).

The number of religious students and seminary instructors in Iran appears to remain high even if the exuberance of the early revolutionary years has worn off. There is a practical explanation: clerics have a "head start" in seeking government jobs, and their children get into the best schools (Christopher de Bellaigue, "Who Rules Iran?" "The New York Review of Books," vol. 49, no. 11, 27 June 2002). Moreover, students who study under popular clerics receive a stipend, which is important given the difficulty of finding real jobs. A visitor to Qom told the "RFE/RL Iran Report" that one encounters individuals who have spent many years in the seminary without completing their studies.

Some seminarians' lack of purpose or identity or sense of rootlessness is furthered by the disdain many people have for the lower echelons of the clerical classes. In fact, such disdain is not a new phenomenon. During the 1960s and 1970s the "clergy were often described in unflattering terms as venal, greedy, and hypocritical," whereas leading clerics "were generally described as pious and learned" (Eric Hooglund, "Social Origins of the Revolutionary Clergy," "The Iranian Revolution and The Islamic Republic," Nikki R. Keddie & Eric Hooglund, eds., Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1986, p. 80).

The 1979 revolution not only affected the nature of the Iranian government but it changed the relationship between religion and politics. The traditional criteria for judging a clergyman's stature (such as theological learning, writing, jurisprudence, knowledge of canon law, and the opinion of other top clerics) became less relevant, and political factors now play a greater role.

Three incidents illustrate this point. The 1989 succession to the supreme leadership by Ali Khamenei and his hasty promotion to the rank of ayatollah was one such case. Khamenei was only a hojatoleslam but had served as president; the constitution was amended so the supreme leader no longer had to be a source of emulation (see article 109). With the deaths of Grand Ayatollah Abolqasem Khoi (1992), Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Golpayegani (1993), and Grand Ayatollah Ali Araki (died 1994), there was an attempt to promote Khamenei to the rank of source of emulation. Khamenei himself withdrew from consideration. (See "RFE/RL Iran Report," 23 November 1998.)

The third incident illustrating the impact of politics on the religious system relates to the 1997 presidential campaign. Thirty members of the Qom Theological Lecturers Association were invited to a meeting at which they were advised to declare their support for the leading conservative candidate. Several clerics avoided the meeting, but 14 of those in attendance informed the press that the seminary backed the conservative candidate. The clerics who did not attend the meeting subsequently expressed their dissent: "Those who pretend that none of the 30 members was against [conservative candidate Ali Akbar] Nateq-Nuri forget that Ayatollahs Mohammad Fazel [-Lankarani], Nasser Makarem [-Shirazi], [Ebrahim] Amini [-Najafabadi], [Ali Akbar] Masudi [-Khomeini], myself [Karimi] and a few others are also members of that association." (Azadeh Kian-Thiebaut, "Time for reform of the Islamic revolution," "Le Monde Diplomatique," January 1998.)

Some clerics' rejection of political involvement or a theocratic state was not completely unexpected. In the mid-1980s scholars were writing that some of the leading clergymen prefer "the looser visayat-i fuqaha, which they interpret as general supervision by the clergy over affairs.... At the most, these clerics are willing to concede the principle of vilayat-i faqih in times of exceptional turmoil but contend that it lapses when a government is installed, a parliament is elected and a new state order comes into being." (Sharough Akhavi, "The Revolutionary Clergy," "The Iranian Revolution and The Islamic Republic," Nikki R. Keddie & Eric Hooglund, eds., [Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1986], p. 61.)

By the mid-1990s, withdrawal was, in some cases, becoming opposition to the Khomeini interpretation of the Islamic state in which clerics hold executive power. "Already, the higher-ranking ulama, under the banner of the institution of marja'iyat, are moving to their traditional role of opposing the state with seemingly traditional reasoning, i.e. the illegitimacy of the state in the absence of the Lord of the Age." (Maziar Behrooz, "The Islamic State and the Crisis of Marja'iyat in Iran," Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Vol. XVI, No. 2 [1996].)

The leading clerics' unhappiness with the country's politics is illustrated by the point that eight of the top 12 ayatollahs reportedly refused to vote in the February 2004 parliamentary elections (Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sanei, cited by the "Chicago Tribune," 2 May 2004).

Nevertheless, there still are many clerics in Iranian governmental institutions. In this case, it is the middle-ranking clerics who dominate and they are not likely to want the system to change because of its benefits to them.

"First, those mollas [sic] who have gained political power can be expected to be reluctant to return to the mosques to become once again simply preachers. Second, the fact that so many politically active mollas [sic] come from lower-class backgrounds, and also that so many of the tullab [religious students] have similar origins, means that their support of the concept of clerical political activism is tantamount to having an assured means of upward mobility. Third, clerical control of the government has meant clerical control of government revenues, and thus financial independence form the traditional support of private, lay persons." (Eric Hooglund, "Social Origins of the Revolutionary Clergy," "The Iranian Revolution and The Islamic Republic," Nikki R. Keddie & Eric Hooglund, eds., [Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1986], p. 82.)

Developments in Iraq, combined with the 25 years of mismanagement by the Iranian theocracy, indicate that the Shi'a community will undergo major changes in the coming decade. The Iranian theocracy is faced with two choices: complying with public sentiments and basing its legitimacy more on popular support than on religion, or continuing to impose itself on the Iranian people.


8 posted on 09/16/2004 10:42:19 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran's mullahs are smiling as America struggles in Iraq



By Karim Sadjadpour

Friday, September 17, 2004

In the spring of 2003, shortly after U.S.-led forces captured Baghdad with surprising speed, more than a few Western analysts began to foretell winds of change blowing toward Tehran.

Reconsider the possibilities: Iraq's burgeoning (secular) democracy would serve as a model for Iran, or perhaps inspire envious Iranians to rise up against their anti-democratic mullahs; Baghdad's fall and the subsequent envelopment of Iran by U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms would frighten Tehran's ruling mullahs into improving their behavior; Iran's most respected Shiite scholars and clerics - the majority of whom are opposed to Khomeini-style theocratic rule - would take flight from Qom to Najaf, where they could freely criticize the Islamic Republic's religious legitimacy and, potentially, incite the masses. For those familiar with the depth of popular discontent in Iran, such scenarios did not appear outside the realm of possibility.

However, they also assumed a smooth postwar transformation in Iraq. While Bush administration officials talked of how success in Iraq would change the political culture of the Middle East, few seemed to contemplate the regional repercussions for Washington if things didn't go as planned. In the case of Iran, the chaotic state of postwar Iraq has served not to intimidate Tehran's mullahs but rather to embolden them. Today, nearly 17 months after the fall of Baghdad, Iran's Islamic regime appears more entrenched than it has been in over a decade.

According to many analysts, postwar American difficulties in Iraq are due in large part to Iranian meddling. While on its own the explanation is overly facile, there is certainly some truth to it. Given that various Bush administration officials and advisers intimated that Tehran should be next after Baghdad, it was logical that Iran would do its best to make sure that the postwar transition in Iraq was anything but smooth. At the same time, however, Tehran's leadership has been cognizant of the fact that a civil war in Iraq - with the potential to spill over the Iranian border - would not be in its interest either. Hence Iran's de facto policy of "contained chaos:" generate enough unrest in Iraq to dissuade the U.S. from contemplating regime change in Iran, but refrain from supporting a full-fledged insurrection.

Rather than put its money on one specific horse, Iran has diversified its Iraqi portfolio. Both Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who advocates an Islamic republic in Iraq, and Ahmad Chalabi, the secular Shiite expatriate with close ties to Bush administration officials, have links to Tehran. Above all, however, Iran seems to support the will of the seemingly moderate, respected Iranian-born cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Given a one-person, one-vote democratic election in Iraq, it is widely assumed that those aligned with Sistani would emerge victorious. And given Sistani's religious and cultural ties to Iran, Tehran is confident that a Sistani victory would ensure that its influence in Iraq exceeds that of Washington. For this reason, the idea of a democratically elected Iraqi government seems cause for greater concern in Washington than in Tehran.

Iran has displayed a similar combination of duplicity and cunning with regard to its nuclear strategy. Despite U.S. and Israeli threats and the risk of European condemnation, Tehran has shown little sign of retreat. Iranian officials - from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to President Muhammad Khatami to the influential Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - have consistently insisted that Iran is not interested in pursuing a nuclear weapons program. "We are ready to do everything necessary to give guarantees that we won't seek nuclear weapons," Khatami said recently. "As Muslims, we can't use nuclear weapons. One who can't use nuclear weapons won't produce them."

Given Iran's dubious track record with the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, few are convinced. "What they're doing is the equivalent of buying a $25,000 ball point pen," one nuclear analyst familiar with Iran's program told me. "If their sole interest is to build a civilian nuclear energy program, they're doing far more than what's necessary."

In addition to its nuclear ambitions, the vacuum caused by the Americans' removal of Saddam Hussein allows Tehran to pursue its ambitions for regional hegemony. The former head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaii, succinctly summed up Tehran's aspirations: "Why shouldn't Iran be the flag-bearer of peace, justice, development and democracy in the region? The region cannot have stability and security in the absence of Iran, and all nations need Iran's presence, even the Americans."

After years of putting intangible Islamic interests ahead of national interests, Iran's ascendant conservatives have ironically begun to use the same rhetoric once used by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi three decades ago. Then as now, Iran's neighbors are likely to view Tehran's self-anointed role as policeman of the Gulf with a certain degree of wariness.

But while Iran's hand seems to have been temporarily strengthened, it is still far too early to predict the ultimate reverberations of the Iraq war. Just as Iraq's future hangs in the balance, so too does that of its neighbors. So far, however, Tehran's ruling mullahs have far more reason to smile than their counterparts in Washington. Rather than extinguish Iran's Islamic regime, the Iraq war seems to have given it new life.

Karim Sadjadpour is a Middle East analyst based in Tehran and Washington. This

commentary was first published in bitterlemons-international

9 posted on 09/16/2004 10:49:48 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Last Update: Friday, September 17, 2004. 10:46am (AEST)

Aust secures Iran resolution for US

Australia and Canada have delivered the United States a compromise with France, Britain and Germany on a toughly-worded United Nation nuclear resolution on Iran that calls for an immediate halt to Tehran's uranium enrichment program, a Western diplomat said.

"It's a text that all six countries can live with," the diplomat close to the talks told Reuters, referring to discussions between Australia and Canada, both representing the US, and the European Union's "big three" on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran's program for uranium enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel for power plants or nuclear weapons, is the most controversial part of Tehran's atomic plans, which it says are limited to electricity generation.

Washington says Iran is developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power program.

Tehran denies the charge, insisting its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful.

The preliminary agreement, which still has to be approved by most of the 35 nations on the governing board of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ended nearly a week of discussions on the text, which the diplomat said would set the stage for a November showdown over Iran's nuclear program.

Another diplomat said the United States had to abandon its demand for an "automatic trigger" deadline forcing the IAEA to report Iran to the UN Security Council if it did not meet a number of demands, including suspending enrichment activities.

The diplomat summarised the key points of the resolution, saying it called for the IAEA board to decide in November "whether or not to take appropriate steps" regarding Iran's commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The diplomat said that this meant that the board would decide whether to report Iran to the UN Security Council, which can impose economic sanctions, for violating the NPT by hiding its uranium enrichment program for nearly two decades.

The draft text, which diplomats said would likely be adopted on Friday or Saturday with only minor changes, also called on Iran to answer all of the IAEA's outstanding questions about its nuclear program by the time the board meets again in November.

The IAEA has been inspecting Iran's nuclear program for two years.

While it has uncovered many previously concealed activities and facilities, it has found no clear evidence to back US accusations that Iran is developing atomic weapons.

New allegations were made this week.

A prominent international expert said on new satellite images showed the Parchin military complex south-east of Tehran may be a site for research, testing and production of nuclear weapons.

Iran rejected the new allegation.

"This is a new lie, like the last 13 lies based on news reports that have been proved to be lies," Hossein Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to this week's IAEA meeting told Reuters.

-- Reuters

10 posted on 09/17/2004 9:55:33 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

13 September 2004, Volume  7, Number  31

BAHA'IS SOUND THE ALARM ON ABUSES IN IRAN.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States asserts, in an advertisement in "The New York Times" of 12 September, that the Iranian government has persecuted the 300,000 members of the religious minority for the last quarter century, the Baha'i World News Service reported (http://www.bwns.org/story.cfm?storyid=323; see the advertisement at http://www.bahai.org/pdf/ad20040912.pdf). The advertisement compares the Iranian theocracy's actions with those of the Taliban when it destroyed the ancient rock statues of Buddha at Bamian, Afghanistan.

The Iranian government's most recent attack on the Baha'i faith is the destruction in June of the Tehran house of Mirza Abbas Nuri, father of Baha'i founder Mirza Hussein Ali Nuri (also known as Bahaullah). A 13 September press release from the Baha'i community notes that, earlier in the year, Iranian authorities destroyed the gravesite in Babol of Mullah Mohammad-Ali Barfurushi, a prominent Baha'i known as Quddus. Bani Dugal, a Baha'i representative, described these developments as "part of a concerted plan on the part of the Iranian government to gradually extinguish the Baha'i Faith as a cultural force and cohesive entity." (Bill Samii)

11 posted on 09/17/2004 9:58:25 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

13 September 2004, Volume  7, Number  31

IS THE HOJJATIEH SOCIETY MAKING A COMEBACK?

Friday Prayer leaders throughout Iran warned their congregations in early July of renewed activities on the part of the Hojjatieh Society -- a strongly anti-Baha'i movement that has long been regarded as a potent, if secretive threat to the ruling elites (both imperial and clerical) that have run Iran since the Hojjatieh Society was created in the middle of the last century. In Shahrud, Ayatollah Abbas Amini said that Hojjatieh activists are recruiting new members in the city's mosques, Radio Farda reported on 11 July.

The Hojjatieh Mahdavieh Society was established in 1953 by a preacher from Mashhad, Sheikh Mahmud Halabi, who supported Prime Minister Mohammad Mussadiq. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi allowed the society to pursue its anti-Baha'i activities after Mussadiq's August 1953 ouster, in exchange for the clerical community's support for his renewed reign. Society member Mohammad Taqi Falsafi's anti-Baha'i sermons were broadcast by state radio, for example, and Tehran's Military-Governor Teimour Bakhtiar took a pick-ax to the Baha'i temple in Tehran in May 1955. Around that time, Halabi persuaded the Marja-yi Taqlid (source of emulation) Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Tabatabai Borujerdi to issue a fatwa banning transactions with Baha'is, according to Baqer Moin's "Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah" (1999).

After that, the Hojjatieh Society entered a period of relative inactivity, although the same cannot be said of Falsafi. The shah's court minister, Assadollah Alam, wrote in his diaries that in 1963 Falsafi preached against the shah's reform program and, after a June 1963 riot, Alam had Falsafi imprisoned (Assadollah Alam, "The Shah and I," Alinaghi Alikhani, ed. [1991]).

There is more to the Hojjatieh Society than its anti-Baha'i beliefs, however, although the depths of those beliefs say a great deal about the society. While Baha'i leader Mirza Hussein Ali Nuri (1817-1892) -- who declared himself a prophet known as Bahaullah (most Muslims view Muhammad as the final prophet in Islam) -- disputed the existence of a hidden imam, Hojjatieh members believe that true Islamic government must await the return of the hidden imam, or Mahdi, who is currently in occultation. For much the same reasons, the Hojjatieh Society opposed Ayatollah Khomeini's theory of Islamic government and Vilayat-i Faqih (rule of the supreme jurisconsult). It favors collective leadership of the religious community, and opposes religious involvement in political affairs.

The Hojjatieh Society enjoyed a revival after the 1978-1979 Islamic revolution; fearing a communist takeover, Sheikh Mahmud Halabi urged his followers to vote in favor of Vilayat-i Faqih in the December 1979 referendum on the country's form of government. Moin writes that the society was well organized at the time and its members had "impeccable religious credentials," so they were able to fill administrative gaps left by revolutionary purges, as was particularly the case in the educational sector. Some cabinet members allegedly had Hojjatieh links as well.

Prominent clerics of the revolutionary era who were Hojjatieh members or sympathizers included Ahmad Azari-Qomi, Ali-Akbar Parvaresh, Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani, Abolqasem Khazali, and Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, according to Mehdi Moslem's "Factional Politics in Post-Khomeini Iran" (2002). None of them acknowledged their relationship with the society, however, maintaining more open ties with the Islamic Coalition Association (now the Islamic Coalition Party) and with the bazaar sector.

Within a few years this situation changed. Concern arose about the society's secretiveness, as did resentment of its members' success. An increasingly intolerant Khomeini, Moin writes, attacked the society and what it stood for. He said in a 12 July 1983 speech: "Those who believe we should allow sins to increase until the Twelfth Imam reappears should modify and reconsider their position.... If you believe in your country [then] get rid of this factionalism and join the wave that is carrying the nation forward, otherwise it will break you." The Hojjatieh Society announced its dissolution on the same day, according to Moin.

The formal end of the Hojjatieh Society did not necessarily mean the end to its role in politics. Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, for example, became the speaker of the fifth parliament and currently serves on the Expediency Council and as an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ali-Akbar Parvaresh served as deputy speaker of parliament and education minister. Ayatollah Ahmad Azari-Qomi-Bigdeli served as public prosecutor, represented Khomeini during a parliamentary review of the constitution, represented Qom in the legislature, served on the Assembly of Experts, and headed the Resalat Foundation (the regime eventually put him under house arrest for questioning the system of Vilayat-i Faqih and questioning the qualifications of Supreme Leader Khamenei; he died in 1999).

Warnings of renewed Hojjatieh Society activism appeared again in 2002. Minister of Intelligence and Security Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi told a press conference that a group of people in Qom was arrested on charges of supporting the society and trying to fuel religious discord, and their books and pamphlets were confiscated, "Toseh" reported on 27 August 2002. Rudsar and Amlash parliamentary representative Davud Hasanzadegan-Rudsari said a little later that the revived Hojjatieh Society is "exacerbating the Shi'a-Sunni conflict," "Aftab-i Yazd" reported on 1 September 2002. Hasanzadegan described the society as "the embodiment of obscurantism."

An editorial in the 1 September 2002 issue of the conservative "Kayhan" newspaper took a very different tack when discussing reports of renewed political activity by the Hojjatieh Society. It claimed there are many similarities between the reformist 2nd of Khordad grouping and the Hojjatieh Society. Both advocate the separation of politics and religion; just as the society opposes creation of an Islamic government, the reformists are "trying to separate the Islamic from the republic and then gradually turn the Islamic system into a secular system of government." Society members and reformists enjoy luxury and wealth, according to the editorial, and they both opposed Vilayat-i Faqih.

The editorial went on to claim that both groups accept all sorts of sin and social corruption. "The only difference is that association members say we should not fight vice so that it spreads and the Mahdi will emerge, while certain reformers say that the democratic principle demands that the people be left alone to do as they please, even if it means loose morals and social corruption." The Hojjatieh Society, mainly because it opposes Marxism, is pro-Western, according to the editorial, as is the 2nd of Khordad grouping.

The Hojjatieh Society was also mentioned occasionally in 2003. Government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh said on 8 January that Hojjatieh Society members who infiltrate the government would be dealt with in the same way as other citizens, "Iran Daily" reported the next day. Assembly of Experts member Hojatoleslam Hashem Hashemzadeh-Harisi said in the same newspaper that the infiltration of the government by such "radicals" threatens the Islamic system and undermines national solidarity. On the sidelines of the 9 March legislative session, Tehran representative Ali Shakuri-Rad allegedly said that the Hojjatieh Society should be licensed as a political party, "Resalat" reported on 10 March ("Towseh" put this into context on 10 March, when it reported that Shakuri-Rad was comparing his political opponents to the Hojjatieh Society).

"Aftab-i Yazd" on 7 October 2003 criticized an unnamed cleric for defending the Hojjatieh Society. This cleric reportedly claimed that Ayatollah Khomeini was deceived into criticizing the Hojjatieh Society.

Sectarian conflicts reemerged in spring 2004 (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 6 September 2004), which some sources linked to the Hojjatieh Society. Rasul Montajabnia wrote in a commentary for "Nasim-i Saba" on 4 May that members or supporters of the society have stopped their fight against the Baha'i faith and have turned their attention to creating divisions between Shi'a and Sunni Muslims. Montajabnia repeated this concern in the 12 May "Hambastegi."

Hussein Shariatmadari, director of the "Kayhan" newspaper, said, "The Hojjatieh Society has always been active as a creeping current," "Aftab-i Yazd" reported on 31 May 2004. Turning to its renewed activism, Shariatmadari warned, "In these days all the currents that suggest a secular establishment are the supporters of this society."

Ayatollah Abolqasem Khazali, who served on the Guardians Council, defended the Hojjatieh Society in the 18 May 2004 "Aftab-i Yazd." He said that stories of its renewed activism are "completely a lie." "I know these people [society members] very well. They are not working. They would have worked if they had known it was good for Islam. Therefore it is a complete lie when they say they have become active again."

It is difficult to verify if the Hojjatieh Society really has become more active as an organization or if recent warnings about it relate to something completely different and this is another case of governmental scapegoating.

Members of the Hojjatieh Society, according to Radio Farda, are followers of the Iranian-born but Al-Najaf-based Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani http://www.radiofarda.com/en_news.aspx?mm=7&dd=11&yy=2004#top. Such a claim has not been reported elsewhere, but it is not impossible and goes some way in explaining official Iranian concern. The Iranian regime bases much of its legitimacy on its religious credentials and connection with Qom. The Qom howzeh would fear the transfer of prominence to the Al-Najaf howzeh. As suggested by an editorial in the 8 June "Farhang-i Ashti," Al-Najaf is the "new Islamic Vatican" and it rivals Qom. Mashhad -- birthplace of the Hojjatieh Society -- also rivals Qom, especially because, according to the editorial, it views Islamic rule with "deep suspicion." The editorial explains: "Qom looks to merge religion and politics, while Mashhad thinks of separating the two."

A potential link to the Hojjatieh Society is not the only cause of concern on the part of the Iranian government about Ayatollah al-Sistani. Like the Hojjatieh Society, al-Sistani does not advocate Vilayat-i Faqih. The government's concern about a religio-political organization that questions the basis of its theocratic system is therefore understandable. The society's anti-Baha'i message may not find much of an audience in modern Iran, and the right-wing tendencies of prominent members may not jibe with overall public sentiment. Its opposition to the system, however, may very well strike a chord with an unhappy public. (Bill Samii)

12 posted on 09/17/2004 10:01:07 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


parchin
August 13 satellite image of facilities within Parchin, Iran which are possibly involved in nuclear weapons research. Picture: AFP

Michael Costello: To survive, Israel will have to strike nuclear Iran



September 17, 2004

SOMETIME in the next year or two, Israel is going to have to make a decision. Will it accept that Iran has nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them against Israel? Or will it do what it did to Iraq's developing nuclear capability in 1981 and bomb it out of existence?

This sounds all rather apocalyptic. That is because it is - at least for Israel. Iran is developing a wide range of nuclear facilities and capabilities. It is doing so even though there can be few countries with less need for nuclear energy than oil-rich Iran.

But, surely, Iran is developing these nuclear facilities under the eagle eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body charged with ensuring that such facilities are developed for peaceful purposes only and not diverted to military use. True enough. Furthermore, the IAEA is charged with referring any concerns it may have of any possible diversion to military use to the UN Security Council for action.

Now this sounds all fine and dandy. But there are a few problems. The IAEA supervised Iraq's nuclear facilities and developments and swore they were for peaceful purposes only. Unfortunately for Iraq, its invasion of Kuwait in 1990 led to its military trouncing and to the imposition of UN weapons inspections. These weapons inspectors found that the American and Israeli assertions that Iraq was indeed developing nuclear capability were not accurate - they were far too optimistic. The Americans and Israelis had in fact underestimated - that's right, underestimated - how far Iraq had progressed down the path to nuclear weapons.

Then there was Libya. When Libya in the past 18 months decided to give up its nuclear facilities, lo and behold, once again it turned out that Western intelligence agencies had severely underestimated how far Libya had progressed down the nuclear weapons path.

And, of course, there are the fine fellows who lead the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Their nuclear facilities were also subject to IAEA safeguards. Yet they, too, have diverted so-called peaceful uses of nuclear energy to military purposes, and have left the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA system.

Former IAEA director-general Hans Blix has been replaced by a genuinely competent and much more serious person, Mohamed ElBaradei. The new director-general has done everything he can to try to bring the Iranians to heel. The Europeans demanded a central role in helping out on this, but every time things come to a head the usual suspects, Russia and France - and this time, to its shame, Britain - have refused to take the necessary action to force Iran to comply with its obligations. Only in the past few days they have again failed to take strong action.

The Iranian leadership is widely hated by its own people. It is a fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship that made a farce of the recent so-called elections - a fundamentalist dictatorship that is another great gift to the world from that fine nation France, just as Iraq's original nuclear reactor was a gift from the generous-hearted people of France. While the Iranian dictatorship is no friend to Osama bin Laden, it does agree with him absolutely on one thing: Israel should cease to exist.

Furthermore, we cannot rely on this kind of dictatorship having the same sense of self-preservation as the US and the Soviet Union showed during the Cold War. Although there were moments when we stood on the brink of nuclear war, each side accepted the terrible logic of mutual assured destruction and stepped back. This is not true of Iran's leadership. Their beliefs embrace death and martyrdom. To rely on a nuclear-armed Iran to show restraint would be a triumph of hope against reason.

So, sometime soon, Israel will be faced with this choice. Does it allow an implacable enemy determined to obliterate it as a nation to develop the means by which it can achieve that end? Or does it rely on the international community to protect it, an international community that cannot even agree on action to protect the hundreds of thousands of people being subjected to genocide right now in Darfur? Or should it simply "go gentle into that good night"? No, I don't think so. I think it will "rage against the dying of the light".

If Israel does undertake military action to protect itself, action that will be far more difficult, extensive and dangerous than that which it took against Iraq, the world will throw up its hands in horror. Instead the world should hang its head in shame for its failure to insist that Iran meet the commitments it has made.

Whether it is Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea, or Rwanda, or Darfur, or any of the other many and manifest blights on human decency, the international community continues to fail the great promise of those who founded the UN with such high hope: hope that it would bring to the world peace at last. Not peace at any price - but peace with justice and right.

13 posted on 09/17/2004 10:37:11 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

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14 posted on 09/17/2004 11:48:15 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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