September 18, 2004
The Associated Press
Dow Jones Newswires
A 35-nation meeting of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency Saturday demanded that Iran suspend all aspects of a key process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, and set an indirect late fall deadline for Tehran to heed its conditions.
The U.S. - which accuses Iran of trying to make such arms - praised the text and urged the conference to act to send Tehran to the U.N. Security Council in November should it be found to have defied any of the resolution's conditions.
"To wait until the IAEA finds the nuclear weapons...is to wait until it is too late," chief U.S. delegate Jackie Sanders said in prepared comments to the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors.
"With every passing week, Iran moves that much closer to reaching the point where neither we, nor any other international body, will be able to prevent it from achieving nuclear weapons capacity," she said. "The time for decisive action is approaching."
Approved unanimously by delegates at the board meeting, the toughly worded resolution said it "considers it necessary" that Iran freeze all uranium enrichment and related programs and expressed alarm at Iranian plans to convert more than 40 tons of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride - the gas that when spun in centrifuges turns into enriched uranium.
It also said it "strongly urges" Iran to meet all demands by the agency in its investigation of the country's nearly two decades of clandestine nuclear activity, including unrestricted access to sites, information and personnel that can shed light on still unanswered questions on whether Tehran was interested in the atom for nuclear weapons.
It called on the IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei "to provide a review of the findings of a more-than one year probe of Iran 's nuclear activities which Tehran insists are strictly tailored toward generating electricity.
Suggesting that the Islamic Republic could answer to the U.N. Security Council should it defy the demands, the resolution said the next board meeting in November "will decide whether or not further steps are appropriate" in ensuring Iran complies.
The U.S. delegation, which accuses Iran of using the argument of peaceful nuclear aims to acquire the technology to make weapons, praised the text as sending a "stark" message to Iran .
"This resolution sends an unmistakable signal to Iran that continuing its nuclear weapons program will bring it inevitably before the (U.N.) Security Council," Sanders, the chief U.S. delegate, told reporters.
"Iran must not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons," she said, asserting that the resolution set the next meeting of the board in November as an unambiguous "deadline...for Iran to cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons."
Still, the text appeared to leave Iran wiggle room. While demanding Iran suspend all uranium enrichment activities, the resolution also recognized nations' right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy - which Iran says is what it wants nuclear enrichment for.
By giving the Iranians room to maneuver on enrichment, the resolution appeared to fall far short of what the U.S. had wanted coming into the meeting. Washington had pushed to drop mention of countries' rights to peaceful nuclear technology and fought for an Oct. 31 deadline, with the understanding that if Iran failed to comply the board would then automatically begin deliberations on Security Council referral.
The phrasing accepted instead left it up to the board to debate what action - if any - to take when it reconvenes Nov. 25 should Iran be found to have ignored the demand to freeze enrichment or other conditions.
Iran 's chief delegate to the meeting asserted that Washington was frustrated in its main goals -"putting deadline of Oct 31, (and) second an automatic trigger mechanism."
"Both were neglected, and we have nothing like this in the resolution," he told reporters.
Iran 's present suspension freeze falls short of international demands.
It says it is honoring a pledge not to put uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges, spin it and make enriched uranium. But the resolution calls for a stop as well to related activities, including a halt to making, assembling and testing centrifuges, and to producing uranium hexafluoride, the feed stock for enrichment.
Iran isn't prohibited from enrichment under its obligations to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It has for months faced international pressure to suspend such activities as a good-faith gesture, but the resolution went further by actually demanding a stop to enrichment and related activities.
Ahead of approval - which came after days of backdoor negotiations and resistance by nonaligned countries that saw their own right to enrichment for peaceful use threatened by the text - Mousavian held out the possibility of meeting the resolution's key demand.
Iran 's "decision-makers will decide about the main request - full suspension," in the next few days, he told the Associated press.
Full text of IAEA's resolution on Iran
TEHRAN - The hard-liners who won Iran's parliamentary elections last February have focused on women's rights in their efforts to reverse some of the reforms carried out under the moderate president, Mohammad Khatami.
After the legislative session began in June, the 290-member Parliament, including all 12 of the women, abruptly rejected proposals to expand the inheritance right of Iranian women and to adopt the United Nations convention that bans discrimination against women. They also backed away from previous efforts to make "gender equality" a goal of the country's next four-year development plan.
Instead, the new Parliament has called for placing more restrictions on women's attire and on their social freedoms.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, women have been forced to cover their heads and wear long, loose coats in public. But many had defied the restrictions since Mr. Khatami's election in 1997 and started wearing tighter and more colorful coats and showing more hair.
In recent months, though, newspapers have reported that scores of women have been arrested in Tehran, the capital, and around the country because they were wearing what the authorities considered to be un-Islamic dress.
Members of Parliament have called for segregating men and women at universities and for other limits on women's activities. Hard-liners have held protests to call for a crackdown on freedoms for women and have contended that women ridicule religious sanctities by violating the dress code.
The previous Parliament, dominated by reformists, embraced more legal rights for women and - despite opposition by hard-liners - expanded women's right to divorce and child custody.
Eshrat Shaegh, a conservative woman who has a seminary education and who is one of the women elected to Parliament in the sweep by hard-liners, wrote a letter to Mr. Khatami in July that called for an end to the mixing of unmarried young men and women in public places.
"How do you intend to resolve problems by allowing half-nude women to mingle and party with men who dress like women?" she asked in her letter, referring to women who in the hard-liners' view show too much hair and men who wear colorful clothes.
Abolhassan Davoudi, director of the office that deals with Iranian cinema, was arrested this week and had a heart attack while in custody. He was accused of allowing women who were not properly covered to attend a meeting at his offices. But some political analysts here believe that the hard-liners will ultimately not succeed.
"It is very obvious that the new Parliament would like to impose a strict model of covering for women, but they will not succeed," said Ahmad Zeidabadi, a political scientist and journalist in Tehran. "The more they put pressure, the more they get a reaction because people simply do not think such restrictions can solve their more basic needs."
Imposing restrictions on women's dress has been a barometer - showing how far the authorities are willing to go to allow social freedom and give more rights to women.
Nearly two-thirds of Iran's population is under 30, and more than 60 percent of university students are women. Women have become more vocal, and they demand equal rights. They want jobs and more legal rights within the family structure.
"The general trend in this country is moving towards reforms," said Haleh Anvari a political analyst in Tehran. "These restrictions are like putting a little stone in front of a huge storm that is going for reform," she added, referring to efforts made by the new Parliament.
Women who have been pressing for expanded rights, however, were infuriated when in August a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, was hanged for adultery in the northern city of Neka while the man with whom she was accused of having a sexual relationship received 100 lashes. Amnesty International said the young woman was not thought to be mentally competent.
Women also reacted when Fatimeh Aliya, a hard-line member of Parliament, suggested that polygamy was a way to improve the lot of poor women. Iranian law allows men to marry up to four permanent wives and an unlimited number of temporary wives. But polygamy is despised by most people here, and those who engage in polygamy usually practice it secretly.
"Polygamy eventually serves the interests of women," Ms. Aliya was quoted as saying in newspaper reports. "No woman can emotionally accept another woman in her life, but if she puts herself in the shoes of a woman who needs support then she can accept the idea."
A former member of Parliament, reacting to her comment, suggested that perhaps Ms. Aliya's husband should be encouraged to lead the way.
Most of the women in the hard-line camp who serve in Parliament are members of a women's group called the Zeinab Society. Ms. Aliya said the group received its financing from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the feminist magazine Zanan reported.
Unlike women in the previous Parliament, who became known for their outspokenness and bravery, the new hard-line members have sought to keep a low profile. They have not accepted positions on the presiding board, and they drew a curtain around themselves in Parliament's dining area so that they would not be seen by their male colleagues.
"Giving women noneconomic and nonpolitical positions in Parliament commissions illustrates the ideal society the conservatives favor," Zanan wrote in an editorial last month. "They prefer that women remain in these sections."
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has rejected a resolution from the U.N. nuclear watchdog that it should freeze uranium enrichment, and threatened to end snap checks of atomic facilities if its case were sent to the U.N. Security Council.
It said if the Council went as far as punishing Tehran with sanctions, Iran could follow North Korea and pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty altogether.
Enriched uranium can be used to make atomic weapons. Washington says that is Iran's aim but Tehran says its nuclear programme is solely dedicated to generating electricity.
The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday calling on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities.
"Iran will not accept any obligation regarding the suspension of uranium enrichment," chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani told a news conference on Sunday.
"No international body can force Iran to do so."
Rohani predicted a rough ride to the next IAEA board of governors meeting on November 25.
"This is a war, we may win or we may lose," said the mid-ranking cleric who sits as secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
He said Iran would stop allowing U.N. inspectors to make short-notice visits to its atomic facilities if the Islamic Republic's dossier were sent to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
"If they want to send Iran to the Security Council, it is not wise, and we will stop implementing the Additional Protocol," he said.
The Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allows snap nuclear checks. Iran is implementing its terms although parliament has not ratified it.
FOLLOWING NORTH KOREA
Rohani also warned Iran could pull out of the NPT if the Islamic Republic falls foul of the Security Council.
"If they impose economic sanctions, parliament may ask government to pull out of the NPT," he continued.
Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment-related activities last year after a visit to Tehran by foreign ministers from France, Britain and Germany, the so-called EU big three.
But the suspension lapsed. Iran said in July it had restarted building centrifuges and had recommenced work at a plant that produces uranium hexafluoride, the gas pumped into centrifuges.
Centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning it at supersonic speeds.
If enriched to a low level, uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power stations such as the one Iran is building at Bushehr on its south coast. If further enriched, it can be deployed in warheads.
Although it restarted these enrichment-related activities, Iran says it has not restarted enrichment itself.
But the Islamic Republic said its suspension agreement was made to the EU foreign ministers on a goodwill basis and insists it is permitted to get the process running at any stage.
| 10:22:49 Þ.Ù
Tehran, Sept 19 - Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei deemed safeguarding the true identity of the Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC) the most basic responsibility of its staff and commanders.
Making the remarks in the 16th nationwide gathering of IRGC commanders and officials in the northwestern city of Zanjan Saturday evening, he extended his congratulations to the nation on the birth anniversary of the third martyred Imam of Muslim Shiites Imam Hussein (AS) which is dubbed as the "Revolutionary Guards Day".
He described as a blessing the love of IRGC forces for their martyred Imam and stressed that the Islamic Republic System in Iran due to its religious qualities and also the religion-oriented culture of Iranian nation could never be defeated.
The Supreme Leader further referred to cultural transformation, continuous economic pressures, penetrating into political and cultural structures and paralyzing active members of society as some of the methods employed by the enemies to weaken the Islamic system in Iran.
Ayatollah Khamenei also pointed to the sensitive role of Iranian nation as well as the IRGC forces in setting up the future of Iran, the region and the Islamic world and defusing the plots of the big powers for the Middle East region.
Talking in the ceremony was IRGC commander Major General Seyyed Yahya Rahim Safavi who reiterated the readiness of IRGC forces in safeguarding the Islamic Revolution and the sacred system of the Islamic Republic.
He also described the Ashura-5 war games as very successful and hailed the cooperation of people of the three provinces where the maneuvers were taking place with the IRGC forces.
| 12:00:09 È.Ù
Tehran, Sept 19 - The Islamic Republic of Iran refuse any resolution which binds it to suspend its uranium enrichment process, Secretary of the Supreme Council of the National Security (SCNC), Hassan Rowhani told reporters on Sunday.
Taking questions from reporters from home and abroad, Hassan Rowhani asserted that "no organization, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), enjoys the authority to deprive a country of its right to use peaceful nuclear energy.
"The situation today is different; at present, the IAEA has denied any swerving (from the right path) in Iran's nuclear activities", Rowhani said.
International jawboning aimed at dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapons is failing. If diplomacy cannot be made to work, the United Nations Security Council must be prepared to try something tougher than talk.
Last fall, Iran's hard-line Islamic regime seemed willing to give up its clandestine, years-long program to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran announced that it would cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, allow unfettered IAEA inspections and forgo the enrichment processes and capabilities that could produce weapons-grade uranium.
Forget all that. The IAEA now reports that Iran never honored these promises. Specifically, the Iranians never permitted the intrusive inspections needed as proof against telltale uranium enrichment. Furthermore, the IAEA says that Iran continues to work on portions of a nuclear program that could allow the production of nuclear weapons, and soon.
As a result, the IAEA has been drafting a resolution aimed at curbing Iran's access to technology that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi has said Iran's nuclear program is limited to generating electricity, not weapons. But hardly anyone believes that. Why would Iran, awash in oil and natural gas, need to spend vast sums on developing nuclear power if, in fact, it has no plans to build nuclear weapons?
The United Nations' IAEA clearly believes that Iran's nuclear power program is a cover for developing nuclear weapons. The Bush administration has always believed that Iran is striving to become a nuclear-armed power, and thus dominate the oil-rich Persian Gulf. But Washington, preoccupied in Iraq, has let the Europeans and the United Nations take the lead on Iran.
As noted, diplomacy is failing to deter the Iranians from their long-term objective of achieving nuclear-weapons status. With Iran still ruled by a hard-line Islamist regime with a lengthy history of funding terrorism, Tehran's nuclear ambitions have to be vigorously resisted.
If the mullahs in Tehran continue to defy the IAEA, the U.N. Security Council can impose punishing economic sanctions against Iran. It needn't come to that if Iran's rulers can be brought to their senses. But any hope of deflecting Iran from its dangerous, destabilizing nuclear ambitions now requires, at the very least, a clear signal from the Security Council that sanctions are next unless Iran relents and abandons its uranium enrichment activities.
THE ROGUE THREAT
Robert S. Litwak is director of international studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of "Rogue States and U.S. Foreign Policy."
September 19, 2004
As the recent mysterious explosion in North Korea reminded us, that country is believed to be on the verge of a nuclear test. In Iran, a less advanced but rapidly moving nuclear program is focused on producing fissile material for a bomb.
Though developments in both countries are alarming, the Bush administration is engaged diplomatically - directly with North Korea and indirectly with Iran - with no sense of urgency. These deadlocked, episodic contacts amount to negotiations without negotiating.
Have North Korea and Iran made irreversible decisions to acquire nuclear weapons? We don't know. But U.S. diplomacy can test the countries' intentions by giving each an unambiguous choice, with real upsides and downsides.
Given the odious character of these regimes, the cruel dilemma for the United States is that the key to getting them to forgo nuclear weapons may be offering them a guarantee that their regimes - unlike Saddam Hussein's - will survive.
Looming large in the backdrop, of course, is Iraq. Many in the Bush administration regarded that war as a "demonstration" conflict, exemplifying its post-9/11 doctrine of military preemption. But was the administration intending to signal that the Iraq precedent is relevant to the resolution of the nuclear crises with North Korea and Iran?
President George W. Bush laid down an ambitious marker when he declared that the United States would not "tolerate" the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea - the other two charter members of his "axis of evil."
How that declaration translates into action within an administration openly divided between hard-liners and pragmatists remains unclear. A major cleavage dividing the two camps is whether the U.S. objective toward the countries should be regime change or behavior change.
Hard-liners thought the launching of the Iraq war - with its warning of disarm or be overthrown - could compel Iran and North Korea to give up their weapons of mass destruction. One senior administration official in this camp, asked after the fall of Baghdad what the message of the Iraq war was for Iran's theocratic regime, replied: "Take a number."
Administration pragmatists by contrast characterized the Iraq war not as the new paradigm, but rather as an extraordinary remedy for a unique case. They are concerned that the "take a number" approach, instead of compelling Pyongyang and Tehran to roll back nuclear programs, could encourage both to accelerate weapons development in hopes of deterring an American attack.
Administration officials assert that they do not have a "cookie-cutter" strategy in dealing with the "axis of evil" members. But the fundamental question is whether they have a cookie-cutter mindset that precludes meaningful negotiations.
The "take a number" approach may reflect what many in the administration wish they could do with the rogue regimes in North Korea and Iran, but the United States is constrained in both cases in its use of force. Both regimes are domestically entrenched and neither is in imminent danger of collapse.
Even military action targeted just at nuclear facilities would be problematic. As in the 1990s in North Korea, a military strike on nuclear facilities would probably trigger a general war on the Korean peninsula.
In Iran, any military action faces formidable logistical and intelligence hurdles (recall the failed U.S. hostage rescue mission in 1980).
Moreover, a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would likely generate a powerful anti-American backlash that would set back any prospects for domestic political reform that might turn the country away from its support of Middle East terrorism.
The Bush administration's hand is also tied by the credibility crisis for U.S. intelligence in the wake of the failure to uncover WMD stockpiles in post-war Iraq and the split in support for the Iraq war in the United States.
However reluctantly, under the circumstances, the administration has opted to address the two nuclear proliferation threats through multilateral diplomacy: with North Korea directly, via the six-party talks (involving South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia), and with Iran indirectly, through the International Atomic Energy Agency and European Union foreign ministers.
This is forcing an alternative strategy from the one of regime change and military preemption used against Iraq to deterrence and reassurance of regime survival.
What does this mean in practice? The United States needs to give North Korea and Iran a stark, structured choice between the penalties for non-compliance and the tangible benefits of behavior change - for North Korea, a substantial aid package, for Iran, the lifting of sanctions. The United States must leave the regimes a political exit by being prepared to provide each of them a security guarantee of nonaggression and noninterference.
For an American president who said, "I loathe Kim Jong Il," the North Korean leader, a policy of reassurance will not come easily. Nor will it be easily accepted.
Consider Kim Jong Il's behavior during the Iraq war, when he disappeared from public sight for 50 days, evidently believing that the deployment of additional bombers to the Korean theater to bolster deterrence was the prelude to air strikes that would decapitate his regime (much as air strikes were launched to topple the Saddam Hussein regime).
But there is already a precedent for this kind of solution in the case of Libya. This is the only instance so far of "rogue state" reintegration.
In December 2003, the world was stunned by the joint announcement from Washington and London that Col. Moamar Gadhafi had agreed to dismantle his regime's WMD programs and to submit to international inspections.
Libya, President Bush declared, would be permitted to rejoin "the family of nations." The administration credited Gadhafi's dramatic change to the demonstration effect of the Iraq war. But this was not the only factor.
That war followed a decade-long campaign by the Libyan leader for diplomatic rehabilitation.
What sealed the deal for the United States was Libya's change in behavior with respect to terrorism and proliferation; what sealed the deal for Libya was an American assurance of regime survival.
In short: With Libya, to the surprise of many, the United States was prepared, as one former senior official put it, "to take yes for an answer."
The open question is whether the Bush administration would be prepared to do the same for North Korea and Iran.
Ironically, the Libyan case, more than that of Iraq, could be the key precedent for North Korea and Iran. The United States' willingness to forgo the objective of overt regime change in the face of meaningful behavioral change could lead them to conclude that a Libya-type deal, however guarded and gradual, would be in their best interest.
To prevent cheating, the challenge is to make the agreement as transparent and verifiable as possible.
The stakes could not be higher, and regrettably, in a U.S. election year, progress is unlikely.
A news report last week said that the North Koreans are waiting for the American election to be over before agreeing to a date for the resumption of the six-party talks.
Nonproliferation experts now believe we are at a nuclear "tipping point." In the past, the addition of another state to the nuclear club did not have a cascading effect. The consequences were either regionally contained or managed through U.S. security assurances to worried allies.
Those conditions may no longer hold in the post 9/11 world.
Today, if North Korea or Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons, the action could lead several other nations in their regions - Saudi Arabia and Egypt, South Korea and Japan - to do the same.
And that could well bring a disastrous end to nonproliferation and nuclear restraint globally.
Iran's total government revenues amounted to Rls 42,956 billion in the first quarter of the current Iranian year (started March 20), reported the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Saturday.
The represents a 22.6 percent drop compared to the figure for in same period last year, it added, according to IRIB.
Of this sum, Rls 14,030 billion were revenues from direct and indirect taxation which again was 41.5 percent lower.
In addition, Rls 28,926 billion were generated from other sources showing a 8.2 percent fall compared to the figure for the same period last year.
TEHRAN -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Saturday inspected the latest stage of the most recent military exercise of the Basij (volunteer) forces.
Twelve of divisions of the Basij supported by Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) troops participated in the Ashura 5 grand military exercise in western Iran for the past eight days.
The Basij carried out a military exercise against a hypothetical enemy in an area of 60,000 square kilometers.
The magnitude of the military exercise has been unprecedented in terms of the involvement of armored divisions, helicopter gun ships, and paratroopers.
The Supreme Leader visited the command center in Zanjan province to monitor the performance of the troops.