Iran's angry reaction to calls for a sweeping halt to all its enrichment activities may be born partially of a sense of injustice.
Iran argues it has abided by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and allowed spot inspections sometimes at two hours' notice in order to show the intention behind its nuclear programme is peaceful.
Iranian officials repeatedly stress their country has a legal right to nuclear power - and in particular to securing their own source of fuel for power stations rather than being dependent on outsiders.
The international community is mistrustful though - fearing Iran plans to convert fuel into highly enriched uranium for weapons.
By taking a tough stance against the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution, Iran hopes to show the world it will not give in to what it calls international bullying by making concessions outside the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The government is also under pressure from hardliners who dominate the parliament.
More than 200 deputies urged the government to defy the international community and go ahead and enrich uranium.
For the meantime Iran has said it will continue and even extend its co-operation with IAEA inspectors in the hope that it can resolve all outstanding issues by the next meeting in November.
Spot inspections will continue under an agreement known as the Additional Protocol signed last year though parliamentarians have issued a statement saying they will not ratify it.
The door was, however, left ajar for compromise when Iran said any further suspension of enrichment activities was a matter for negotiations and could not be achieved by passing resolutions.
What is disturbing for the international community is quite how advanced Iran's nuclear programme already is.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, said Iran was already producing uranium hexafluoride gas out of yellow cake in Isfahan and had reached the last stage of uranium enrichment at a site in Natanz.
The latest IAEA resolution called on Iran to reconsider its decision to start building a heavy-water research reactor in Arak - but Mr Rohani told journalists it was almost finished.
He said Iran already had enrichment capability and could complete the fuel cycle any day it wanted.
"The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating," an unnamed Air Force source told the magazine in its latest issue.
The Central Intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency played out the possible results US strikes, the magazine reported.
Hawks within President George W. Bush's administration haev advocated for regime change in Tehran -- through covert operations or force if needed, Newsweek said.
But with US-led forces facing almost daily attacks in Iraq, no one in Bush's cabinet has taken up the cause, the report said.
The United States believes Iran is using a civlian nuclear program to mask a weapons development effort.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is strictly aimed at generating electricity, despite suspicions it is seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons.
Uranium is enriched through centrifuges to make what can be fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also the explosive material for atomic bombs.
Iran Refuses UN Uranium Demand, Is Rebuked by U.S.(Update3)
Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Iran refused a demand by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog to halt all uranium-enrichment activities, prompting a U.S. rebuke as the Islamic Republic faces possible economic sanctions.
The U.S. reproached Iran today for refusing an International Atomic Energy Agency resolution urging an immediate halt to Iranian enrichment-related activities. The agency, which acknowledged Iran's right to enrich uranium, asked Iran to further open its atomic program to UN inspectors.
``Iran will drag out negotiations with the IAEA and the Europeans, who are unlikely to agree to sanctions because of their oil interests in Iran,'' Youssef Ibrahim, managing director of the Dubai, United Arab Emirated-based Strategic Energy Investment Group, said in a telephone interview.
The U.S. says Iran, which holds the world's second-biggest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia, is hiding a nuclear- weapons program and is seeking imposition of UN sanctions on the country. New sanctions may force European oil companies such Royal Dutch/Shell Group to stop working in Iran.
Iran won't accept any UN demand to halt the enrichment of uranium, Hassan Rowhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said in Tehran, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and is only intended to generate energy, he said.
Iran has had more than 800 IAEA inspections in the last year, Hossein Mousavian, head of Iran's delegation to the IAEA, said this week.
Total SA, Europe's third-largest oil company, OAO Lukoil, Russia's top oil producer, and Norway's Norsk Hydro ASA are among other international oil companies working in Iran. The country is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia.
The ``clock is ticking'' for Iran to stop its activities and cooperate with the IAEA, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said today in Vienna.
``We should all expect that Iran should follow the obligations and cooperate with the IAEA,'' Abraham said at a conference of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, a movement backed by the U.S., Russia and International Atomic Energy Agency seeking to secure radioactive materials around the world.
Iran's suspension of its uranium-enrichment program since October 2003 was voluntary and could be extended, Rowhani said.
``Only dialogue can stop us from resuming (uranium- enrichment) activities,'' Rowhani said.
Doubts about Iran's nuclear program are gone now that the country revealed the goals for the activities, he said. The International Atomic Energy Agency's resolution proved that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, Rowhani said.
The U.S. has failed to achieve its goal of seeking a UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Iran, he said. The Iranian official didn't rule out the possibility of resuming nuclear talks with the U.S.
The U.S. is pleased the IAEA has set Nov. 25 as a deadline for Iran to cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Jackie Sanders, the head of the U.S. delegation, said yesterday.
U.S. companies are prohibited from investing in Iran by government trade sanctions. The U.S. law, known as the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, hasn't kept European and Asian companies from operating there.
Shell and Spain's Repsol YPF SA signed an accord on Sept. 16 to build a liquefied natural-gas plant in Iran, which may take years to develop. Shell, an Anglo-Dutch oil company, produces oil from two fields in Iran and is bidding to develop more in the country.
``The U.S. sanctions haven't hurt Iran and if the UN sanctions are imposed I doubt they would be respected,'' Youssef said.
Russia, which is helping Iran develop its nuclear program, has also refused to back out of an $800 million project to build a nuclear unit at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf, Youssef said.
Iran recently retested its Shahab-3 missile in the presence of observers to prove it isn't afraid to use force to defend itself from a potential attack, Youssef said.
Israel, a U.S. ally in the Middle East, destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in neighboring Iraq in 1981.
Iran and North Korea are two counties that the U.S. warns are working on nuclear weapons. Earlier this month, an explosion in North Korea prompted speculation, dismissed by U.S. and South Korean officials, that the country may have carried out a nuclear test. North Korea denied making such a test.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said the explosion in North Korea didn't appear to be nuclear, based on what he was told by an IAEA sister organization responsible for monitoring explosive devices. ElBaradei said North Korea has the plutonium necessary for a nuclear weapon, and wouldn't rule out the possibility that the country has tested or may be ready to test a nuclear device.
``I do not exclude at all that they have assembled a nuclear weapon or more than one nuclear weapon,'' he said on Cable News Network's ``Late Edition'' program. ``They have the fissile material. They have the industrial infrastructure.''
Iran threatens to halt access for UN nuclear inspectors
Kasra Naji in Tehran and Ian Traynor
Monday September 20, 2004
Iran rejected UN demands that it freeze all aspects of its uranium enrichment programme yesterday, threatening to cancel access for nuclear inspectors and abandon its international nuclear commitments if the issue is taken to the security council.
A day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution demanding an immediate and comprehensive halt to the enrichment programme, Tehran declared the call was illegal and signalled it would press ahead.
Hassan Rohani, a senior Iranian official, said no decision had been taken to "expand" Iran's freeze on the enrichment of uranium, the process which is central to building a nuclear bomb but which is allowed under international treaties to run a civilian nuclear programme.
After a week of behind-the-scenes squabbling between the US, the big European countries and non-aligned countries, the IAEA delivered a warning to Iran, ordering a prompt freeze of "all uranium enrichment-related activities" and threatening implicitly to report Iran to the UN security council in November should Tehran remain recalcitrant.
Iran interprets the freeze narrowly, while the Europeans and the US are calling for a suspension of all uranium enrichment processes.
Under Iran's international treaty obligations, it is allowed to enrich uranium, so any suspension has to be voluntary and cannot be compelled by outsiders.
Halting the programme, however, is the fundamental policy aim since that is the best way to ensure that Tehran does not create a nuclear bomb.
Mr Rohani indicated that Tehran remained open to negotiations on the issue and that Iran would not enrich uranium for the moment, but would carry on with ancillary operations which come under the IAEA freeze demand.
The reaction in Tehran to the IAEA calls prefigured several weeks of brinkmanship and playing for time ahead of the next meeting of the IAEA board in November.
The Americans have had enough of arguing over the Iranian programme after almost two years of inspections and reports and want to take the issue to the security council unless Iran makes major concessions.
Mr Rohani declared yesterday that Iran already had the technology to produce nuclear bombs, a view that is shared by many experts and diplomats closely following the saga.
He said production of yellow cake, a treated uranium ore, was continuing, as was the production of feed material for hundreds of sophisticated centrifuge machines used to enrich uranium.
These are some of the processes that the IAEA has demanded should be halted.
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2004
TEHRAN-VIENNA, 19 Sept. (IPS) Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the Secretary of Irans Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) announced on Sunday 19 September 2004 that Iran refuses any resolution which binds it to suspend its uranium enrichment process
"No organisation, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), enjoys the authority to deprive a country of its right to use nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes, he told journalists in Tehran.
Earlier on the week, former Iranian president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had menaced the IAEA to take it to the International Court of Justice in case the Vienna-based United Nations nuclear watchdog decides on preventing the nation of acquiring nuclear energy for civilian uses.
Former Iranian president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had menaced the IAEA to take it to the International Court of Justice
"Any resolution which seek to bind us to suspension of uranium enrichment is unacceptable and we will not accept such an obligation", Mr. Rohani, a close aid to Irans leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, observed, adding that Irans suspension of uranium enrichment had been voluntary, aimed to show the countrys good faith.
"The aim of the suspension which was announced last year ... was to build trust, but the situation today is different from last year since there is no ambiguity regarding our peaceful nuclear activities now," he added, commenting the latest resolution the Agencys Board of Directors had approved on 18 September unanimously, but without vote taking.
The resolution urged Iran to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment and reconsider its decision to start construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water.
Mr Rohani repeated that Iran voluntarily suspended uranium enrichment for confidence building and to thwart the propaganda campaign against Iranian nuclear program.
"We will go ahead with confidence-building and will endeavour to build up our technical capability to restore our national rights in the context of the international conventions. This is our diplomacy to proceed with on both directions simultaneously," he said.
The 35 directors also decided that at its November session, it will decided whether or not further steps are appropriate in relation to Irans obligations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to the requests made of Iran by the Board in this and previous resolutions.
The document, a compromise between several draft proposals presented by Britain, France and Germany in the one hand, the United States, Australia and Canada on the other, notes with serious concern that as detailed in the Director Generals report, Iran has not heeded repeated calls from the Board to suspend, as confidence building measure, all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
The United States had pressed its European allies to adopt a stronger line on Iran, including a so-called trigger mechanism and a 31 October deadline for the automatic transfer of the case to the United Nations Security Council for economic sanctions in case Tehran do not stand up to its obligations.
Washington had pushed to drop mention of countries' right to peaceful nuclear technology.
But under pressures from the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) members plus China, the Board decided to drop both US demands, a move that Mr. Mohammad Hoseyn Mousavian, the spokesman of Irans delegation described as a defeat for the United States.
However, he expressed his dissatisfaction with both the resolution, which he described as illogical and political and the European Unions big 3, that he accused of breaching their part of the Tehran 21 October 2003 Agreement.
But IAEA's General Director Dr Mohammad ElBrade'i said the document was "balanced" and called on Iran to comply, saying that going ahead with the resolution was to "Iran's and the world's interests".
Any resolution which seek to bind us to suspension of uranium enrichment is unacceptable and we will not accept such an obligation
According to the Iranians, foreign affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany had agreed to close Irans case at the IAEA and make sure that Tehran would get advanced nuclear technologies for civilian purposes against promise by Iran to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and suspend enriching uranium.
But both the trio and the IAEA accuses the Islamic Republic that not only it had not suspended the activities, but has introduced more modern centrifuges and is planning to introduce 37 tonnes of yellow cake at its Uranium Conversion Facility.
"The suspension is not obligatory and is fully voluntary and the Islamic Republic of Iran has not undertaken any commitment for this suspension", the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted the official, criticising the IAEA for combining the voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment with making it a binding for Iran.
Nevertheless, the resolution recognises the right of Iran to the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, including the production of electric power.
Iran says it plans to generate 7.000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy and to this aim; it has under construction a one-megawatt nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr with the help of Russia.
But both the Bush Administration and Israel allege that under the cover of producing electricity, Iran is after nuclear weapons.
Both the trio and the IAEA accuses the Islamic Republic that it had not suspended enriching uranium.
Concerning the US and Israels claims that Iran is going to test nuclear bomb in six months, he said that if they have any evidence to prove it they should show it to the board of governors.
"Iran has repeatedly announced that its nuclear program is merely peaceful and not military. We have never been interested in nuclear weapons, insisted Mr Rohani, Europeans trio and the IAEAs main interlocutor.
For his part, Mr. Mousavian told Iran Press Service that Irans main objective was to prove to the world that the US allegations about Irans nuclear program were false.
We have been successful to the effect up to the present day", he noted.
"We want to prove to the international community that our nuclear program is for civilian purpose. We have done a lot to do so, and will go on taking such actions in future too, because we are willing to develop better relationship with the international community. We dont like confrontation and crisis", Rohani said.
Offering an olive branch, he referred to Irans nuclear case as a conflict and said that every conflict may either end up in victory or failure. So far Iran has been successful, he said, announcing at the same time that Iran has not shut the door yet to nuclear talks with the United States.
"We have already held negotiations with the Americans on various issues such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the presence of the United Nations and such negotiations on (Irans) nuclear file is not totally out of question" Rohani said, according to IRNA.
"If America drops its position of threats and asks for negotiations there will be room for consideration, but when they use their bullying approach, they spoil their own work, he went on, adding, "Perhaps, when the three European countries announced their readiness for negotiations concerning Irans nuclear file, if the Americans had made similar announcement, we would have entered into negotiations with them".
Meanwhile, Iran's conservative-controlled Majles, or parliament again warned that it would not ratify the Additional protocol that allows tougher UN nuclear inspections after the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a tough resolution against the Islamic republic.
"The continued defiance of principles by the IAEA's board of governors leaves no room for us to ratify the additional protocol, and will lead us to question what is the point for the nation to leave its doors open for IAEA inspectors," said the statement read out in parliament. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 19904
Jerusalem, Israel, Sep. 19 (UPI) -- Azerbaijani police have arrested an Iranian who allegedly was spying on the Israeli embassy in that country's capital, Baku.
An Israel security team guarding the embassy Sept. 1 saw the Iranian stop his car outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel that houses the Israeli and Japanese embassies, and video-tape the site.
The guards alerted local policemen who arrested the man and found pictures of Dubai's airport, all the hotel's entrances, and footage of an unoccupied police post in the area.
The detainee reportedly said he filmed the buildings for their beauty. However, the Israeli prime minister's office, which speaks for the Mossad and Shabak intelligence services, said Sunday it believes the Iranian was gathering intelligence on potential targets for attacks.
Argentina's government found Iranian diplomats had been involved in preparations for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Jewish community building there in 1994, the prime minister's office noted.
ASHINGTON, Sept. 19 - Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have raised sharp complaints in recent days that Iran is providing support for the insurgency in Iraq, expressing concerns over what they say are Iran's attempt to shape Iraq's future.
Pentagon, State Department and military officials, describing intelligence reports that are fueling those concerns, say money, weapons and even a small number of fighters are flowing over the border from Iran to assist Shiite insurgents commanded by Moktada al-Sadr, a rebel cleric. But there is no consensus on the exact scale of Iranian activities.
Mr. Powell, in an interview with the editors of The Washington Times released by the State Department on Friday, said that Iran was "providing support" for the insurgency but that the extent of its influence was not clear. Most of the insurgency, he added, was "self-generating" and drawing support from indigenous sources.
Mr. Rumsfeld, speaking Tuesday during a visit to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., said, "We have no doubt that the money comes in from Syria and Iran and undoubtedly other countries as well." He also cited reports that a shoulder-launched, antiaircraft missile had been smuggled into Iraq from Iran.
Bush administration officials, in addition to their charge that Iran is supporting the insurgency, described new concerns that Iran is financing medical clinics, hospitals and social welfare centers in Iraq, especially in areas where the interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and American forces are not in control.
"Now that these folks are starting to provide services that should be provided by the Iraqi government, their purpose is to provide a political base to extend Iran's influence in Iraq," one administration official said.
Such support is seen in Washington as akin to Iran's support for Hezbollah, the organization in Lebanon that runs social welfare centers and carries out attacks on Israel.
The extent of Iranian support for Iraqi insurgents has been debated within the administration since last spring, American officials said. While blaming outside support could be viewed as a convenient explanation for a tenacious insurgency, officials who spoke of the intelligence from Iraq made clear that the most serious threats to security there remained home-grown: Iraqis still loyal to Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Shiite militants and criminals, although the effects of foreign influence and foreign terrorists remain significant.
Administration and military officials say financial support from Iran is especially vital in allowing Mr. Sadr to challenge the new Iraqi leadership and the American military.
Mr. Sadr still can attract fighters from among the tens of thousands of disenfranchised, poor Shiite youths. But Pentagon and military officials say he has alienated the business class of Shiite moderates in southern Iraq, where the economy was disrupted by the fighting to dislodge his forces.
"He is not popular in Karbala and Najaf," said one senior military officer. So the money from Iran is critical in keeping Mr. Sadr's movement alive, officials say.
Weapons smuggled into Iraq from Iran are also a concern, but officials note that Iraq remains awash anyway in Baathist-era automatic rifles and domestic military ordnance.
In a new assessment of the changing face of the Iraqi insurgency, Pentagon and military officials now speak of what appears to be a small but worrisome alliance with Iraq's Sunni insurgents - mostly loyalists to Mr. Hussein's ousted government and Hussein-era military officers - who may be offering tactical combat training to the Sadr militia.
Senior military officers cite reports that a small number of Sunni insurgents have assisted Mr. Sadr's militia with explosives and sniper training.
Although the Sunni minority fears Shiite majority control of a unified Iraq, the new reports of cooperation indicate that the Sunni insurgency in a triangle of central and north-central Iraq is aided by Shiite fighters tying down thousands of American soldiers in the Najaf region.
"There are alliances of convenience," a partment official said.
Iraqi leaders, including Dr. Allawi and Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan, have contended in past public statements that Iran is providing weapons and material support to Mr. Sadr. Shiite clerics run Iran, and Shiites make up most of Iraq's population. But Dr. Allawi, asked in an interview with ABC News whether Iranians were causing trouble in Iraq, responded in a more tepid fashion.
"Well, we don't know," Dr. Allawi said, according to a transcript of the full interview provided by the ABC News program "This Week." "There are some people, some elements, who are coming and still are coming from Iran into Iraq." Dr. Allawi, who will travel to the United States this week in his first visit as acting prime minister, said the issue was of sufficient concern that he sent a deputy to meet with Iran's president and foreign minister.
For its part, Iran has denied accusations of interference in Iraq's affairs, repeatedly called for the withdrawal of all American-led forces from Iraq and officially invited Dr. Allawi to visit. Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, reporting Saturday on the arrival of Iraq's first ambassador to Iran since 1980, when the two countries began an eight-year war, said Dr. Allawi's visit would be a "positive step."
Some Bush administration officials remain skeptical of the extent of Iranian actions. Even Mr. Powell has noted that, while some limited support for Mr. Sadr is likely, Iran would not necessarily want to support a group like Mr. Sadr's, which also sees itself as a rival to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq. Mr. Sistani was born in Iran and has strong links to its clerical leaders.
"There are reasons for them to cooperate with one another and there are strong reasons why there is a limit to that cooperation," Mr. Powell said in the Washington Times interview.
Mr. Powell also said the administration was concerned about support for Iraqi insurgents from Syria. That concern was raised with Syrian leaders on a recent trip to Damascus by two administration officials, William J. Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and Peter W. Rodman, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs.
The chroniclers tell us that the Ottoman sultan Abdul-Hamid II (ruled 1876-1909) made a habit of keeping a small child on his knee in his weekly appearances in public. The 34th sultan of the House of Osman assumed that no decent assassin would willingly gun down a child. From the discotheques of Tel Aviv to the nightclubs in Bali and the schools in Beslan, the assassins are now of a different breed. The moral limits of our world have been stretched to the breaking point. The political ideologies of terror, armed with a religious warrant, have been defining our limits of tolerance, our morality itself, downward. "We love death," said that quintessential merchant of death Osama bin Laden, "as much as the infidels love life." Alas, this is not an idle boast, and terrors in the name of a radicalized, aggrieved Islamism have become a rebuke to claims of progress in our contemporary world.
The Russians now claim a 9/11 of their own; Spain had been given a signal day of mourning six months earlier, when commuter trains were blown apart by bombs assembled by Arab drifters and jihadists. In truth, Israel had been the first battleground in this ongoing war between civilized life and terror: It was there that pizzerias and buses and discotheques became targets of terror. It was there that the cultists of death cut their teeth and developed their rituals of mass murder--the videotapes, the boys (and then the young women) with headbands proclaiming their zeal for "martyrdom," the posters lionizing mass killers. And it was there, too, that religious preachers bent the faith to their will. In distant lands, it was said that the ferocity of these attacks derived from Palestinian "grievances," that this conflict was sui generis. But the ruin soon spread to other lands.
Earlier this month, a thoughtful and brave Saudi columnist, Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, in the London-based Arabic daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, ignited a storm with a piece of writing of extraordinary daring entitled "The Painful Truth: All the World Terrorists Are Muslims!" It was time, he said, to acknowledge that the terrorist attacks of the past decade, in "buses and schools and houses" the world over, were carried out by Muslims. There is a "malady" in Islamic lands, he wrote, and a cure for this malady begins with "self-knowledge" and the end of denial. "Our sons, the terrorists," he wrote, "are loose in the world, the natural products of a deformed culture." In his autopsy, al-Rashed took on the preachers and the muftis, the religious judges, who have found in the Scripture warrant for this deadly radicalism. He singled out Sunni Islam's most influential preacher, the Egyptian-born cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. That cleric rules the airwaves with his access to television and the Web. He had issued a fatwa authorizing attacks on American civilians in Iraq, and al-Rashed saw in this ruling the ruinous ways of the radical preachers: "Imagine a man of religion encouraging the murder of civilians, a man in the fullness of old age inciting young boys to murder when two of his daughters are studying in the United Kingdom under the protection of a presumably 'infidel' power. We can't redeem our youth unless we take on the men of religion who have turned into revolutionaries who send other people's kids to war while they send their own to European and American schools."
Roots of rage. We don't know when this new terribleness was ushered into the world of Islam. But we know that at its roots lie the forces of envy and resentment, an attraction to the emancipated ways of an encircling global culture that Muslims can neither master nor reject. The young homicide bomber walking into a Tel Aviv discotheque has come to serve a warrant of death on people his age whose ways he yearns for yet cannot have. Cunning in their reading of the bewildered and the vulnerable, the preachers and the entrepreneurs of death have given this terrible rage sanctity. In the safety of England, a Syrian-born preacher, Omar Bakri Mohammad, recently opined to the Sunday Telegraph that he would support hostage-taking at British schools if carried out by terrorists with a "just cause." With the heartbreak of Beslan in the background, this man said that "if an Iraqi Muslim carried out an attack like that in Britain, it would be justified because Britain has carried out acts of terrorism in Iraq."
In our innocence, we think that a battle ought to be waged for Muslim hearts and minds, that perhaps if we refined or amplified our message, this hate would be driven away. It is in this spirit that the 9/11 commission recently recommended the launching of a campaign of public diplomacy in the Muslim world. But this is illusion. For at heart, this war for Islam is one for Muslims to fight. It is for them to recover their faith from the purveyors of terror.
WE ARE THE NEXT TARGET (Amazing special report on real forces behind the global terrorist network)
Inside Story: World Report ^
Posted on 09/19/2004 1:50:57 PM PDT by GIJoel
When the cat's away, the mice will play. In this case, the cat is America and the mice are two members of George W Bush's "axis of evil", Iran and North Korea.
While not exactly absent, the cat is distracted by the third member of the axis, Iraq, and its own presidential election on November 2. In the breathing-space before that poll, the mice are proving ever more defiant over their long-term ambitions to become nuclear-armed powers.
The lack of progress within the six-nation forum discussing North Korea and the heightened confrontation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), indicate that the two proliferators are playing for time diplomatically while pushing ahead with weapons development.
Yesterday, Iran rejected an IAEA resolution calling on it to stop activities relating to the enrichment of uranium and threatened to ban random checks by the agency were its case to be referred to the UN Security Council. Teheran said that if the council decided on sanctions it might follow North Korea and withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The clerically dominated regime has long deceived the IAEA over its nuclear activities.
Now it is daring the UN, and in particular, its most powerful member, the United States, to do its worst.
Nothing much is likely to happen until after the American election. The agency's board of governors next meets on November 25, when it may refer the matter to the Security Council, though Washington failed to get a "trigger" clause for such a move inserted into Saturday's resolution. At that stage, the way forward will obviously depend on whether Mr Bush or John Kerry has won the presidential election.
Whoever prevails, America will be faced with a would-be nuclear Iran which supports terrorism, denies Israel's right to exist and, in the words of its extremists, would like to destroy the liberal democracies.
Such a power has to be contained, by negotiation, military intervention or the fomenting of an internal uprising. Despite the rhetoric, there could be an opening for the first. The second, given the dispersal of Iran's nuclear activities, might only be partially successful. The third runs the risks of savage reprisals by the conservatives.
Whatever the result on November 2, Iran will be high on the next Administration's agenda. Both there and in North Korea, determined and wily mice have placed the cat in an unenviable dilemma.
| (IsraelNN.com) Security sources in Israel believe that Hamas politburo leader Khaled Meshal was quietly relocated from Syria by President Bashar el-Assad and moved to Iran in response to mounting American pressure against Damascus. Syrian officials also feared an Israeli attempt to eliminate Meshal, contributing to the decision to have him leave the country.
At this time, security sources are hesitant to predict just how long Meshal will remain exiled to Tehran.
Iranian Control of Hamas Opens Gaza Strip to Iranian Surface Missiles
DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Report
September 20, 2004, 11:42 AM (GMT+02:00)
Luna-2 on which Iran`s Zelzal-2 is based
The missile in the photo with this article is the Luna-2 short-range ground-to-ground missile, known to NATO from Soviet times as FROG-7, which Iran has developed as its Zelzal-2/Mushak-200. In the hands of Irans Lebanon-based Revolutionary Guards, it has extended the Iranian-Hizballahs missile range due south to Israels coastal cities of Haifa, Hadera and Netanya. The missile, its launchers and infrastructure are well-hidden in special storehouses in the port town of Sidon in the care of Revolutionary Guards specialist teams. A Lebanese urban center was chosen for their hiding places to reduce the weapons vulnerability to an Israeli air strike. With Tehran already issuing operational orders to the Palestinian Hamas fundamentalist terrorist group, it is only a question of time before these missiles are transferred to the Gaza Strip, so bringing southern Israel, Tel Aviv and the cities in between, such as Rehovot, Rishon Lezion and Ashdod, within striking range.
This looming menace finally drove Shin Beit Director Avi Dichter and IDF chiefs this week to openly challenge prime minister Ariel Sharons plans for the removal of Israeli settlements and military units from the Gaza Strip in the framework of his disengagement blueprint.
According to DEBKAfiles military sources, Zelzal-2/Mushak-200 is 8.3 meters long with an estimated range of between 100 and 400 km effective most probably at 200 km. It is armed with a 600 kg warhead. Iran is known to have developed chemical and biological payloads but not to have located them in Lebanon. On the other hand, intelligence sources estimate that Syria has perfected the right chemical warheads for attachment to the Zelzal missiles deployed in Lebanon and they can be fitted within hours. These weapons may be delivered through the Palestinian gunrunning routes from Sinai into the Gaza Strip whenever the rulers of Iran and Syria so decide.
Israeli security chiefs fear that the Hizballah, aka Iran, is already shipping 240mm Katyusha and Iranian Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets across the Mediterranean to northern Sinai. Egyptian security authorities, who are similarly concerned by the heavy weaponry Iran is landing on their territory, are known to have seized one delivery of Katyusha 220mm upgraded to 240 mm before it was smuggled into the Gaza Strip. But there is no knowing how much was not intercepted before reaching destination.
In readiness for their post-disengagement schemes, Tehran and Damascus have ordered Hamas to veto any Egyptian or other programs for securing the Gaza Strip after Israels evacuation. The military and defense chiefs in both Israel and Egypt have concluded that the implementation of against Sharons evacuation plan will open the door wide to Gazas transformation into a second South Lebanon in the heart of Israel.
Sunday, September 19, DEBKAfile discussed the controversy over a more immediate threat: Evacuation under fire.
The simmering argument between Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Israels military chiefs over the feasibility of his evacuation plan came to a head at the Israeli cabinet meeting Sunday, September 19. Sharon, who failed to offer the traditional New Years greetings to the nation this year, finally admitted that which the military, security and police chiefs as well as DEBKAfile - have been saying for months: the unilateral evacuation of some 9,000 Israelis living in the Gaza Strip cannot be accomplished, if at all, without a substantial cost in military and civilian lives. Conditions on the ground, say these authorities, make disengagement unfeasible.
But the conclusion they elicited from the prime minister was unexpected: I am sticking to my disengagement guns and not budging one whit from my timetable, he told the ministers and army chiefs: it is up to the military to make it possible; they had better start preparing for evacuation under enemy fire.
As reported previously by DEBKAfile, the Palestinians are in the midst of massive preparations, including training special operations units and procurement of fresh supplies of upgraded weapons, for hammering the evacuating forces and Gush Katif evacuees and making the operation a bloodbath. Egypt has virtually retired from its post-disengagement security role in the Gaza Strip and is only half-heartedly blocking Palestinian arms supplies through Sinai.
Until now, Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz said that if the evacuation cannot be accomplished without an unacceptable level of bloodshed, then it will not be implemented at all. But now, Sharon appears determined to go forward regardless.
With the onus of a predictable disaster on their heads, Israels military and security chiefs explain: If this plan goes ahead, it will not be disengagement, but total war, a tornado of terrorist attacks, gunfire and missiles blasting the Gaza Strip, the western and southern Negev and Gush Katif. Instead of pulling back, the army will be forced to drive back into the large sections of the Gaza Strip controlled by Palestinians in order to subdue their war offensive. Many lives will be lost in these maneuvers.
Addressing the same cabinet meeting, Shin Beit director Avi Dichter limited his warning to a single issue: If Israel pulls out of the Philadelphi corridor on the Gaza Strip-Egyptian border it will open the door to an avalanche of advanced weapons the like of which was prevented from reaching the Palestinians in all four years of their warfare against Israel.
Sept. 27 issue - Unprepared as anyone is for a showdown with Iran, the threat seems to keep growing. Many defense experts in Israel, the United States and elsewhere believe that Tehran has been taking advantage of loopholes in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is now within a year of mastering key weapons-production technology. They can't prove it, of course, and Iran's leaders deny any intention of developing the bomb. Nevertheless, last week U.S. and Israeli officials were talking of possible military actioneven though some believe it's already too late to keep Iran from going nuclear (if it chooses). "We have to start accepting that Iran will probably have the bomb," says one senior Israeli source. There's only one solution, he says: "Look at ways to make sure it's not the mullahs who have their finger on the trigger."
After the Iraq debacle, calls for regime change without substantial evidence of weapons of mass destruction are not likely to gain a lot of traction. But if the allegations are correct, Iran is only one of the countries whose secret nuclear programs hummed along while America waged a single-minded hunt for WMD in Iraq. Another is North Korea, which hasn't stopped claiming that it's turning a stockpile of spent fuel rods into a doomsday arsenal. And arms-control specialists are increasingly alarmed by Brazil's efforts to do precisely what Iran is doing: use centrifuge cascades to enrich uraniumwith a couple of key differences. Unlike Iran, Brazil has never signed the NPT's Additional Protocol, which gives expanded inspection rights to the International Atomic Energy Agency. And unlike Iran, Brazil is not letting the IAEA examine its centrifuges. If the Brazilians go through with their program, it's likely to wreck the landmark 1967 treaty that made South America a nuclear-free zone. But the White House has shown scant concern about the risk.
The Iran crisis is more immediate in the eyes of the Bush administration, in part because Iran is among the president's "Axis of Evil." Israel, which has long regarded Iran as a more dire threat than Iraq, is making thinly veiled threats of a unilateral pre-emptive attack, like its 1981 airstrike against Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. "If the state decides that a military solution is required, then the military has to provide a solution," said Israel's new Air Force chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Elyezer Shkedy, in a newspaper interview last week. "For obvious reasons," he added, "we aren't going to speak of specifics." U.S. defense experts doubt that Israel can pull it off. Iran's facilities (which it insists are for peaceful purposes) are at the far edge of combat range for Israel's aircraft; They're also widely dispersed and, in many cases, deep underground.
But America certainly could do itand has given the idea some serious thought. "The U.S. capability to make a mess of Iran's nuclear infrastructure is formidable," says veteran Mideast analyst Geoffrey Kemp. "The question is, what then?" NEWSWEEK has learned that the CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, "The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating."
Instead, administration hawks are pinning their hopes on regime change in Tehranby covert means, preferably, but by force of arms if necessary. Papers on the idea have circulated inside the administration, mostly labeled "draft" or "working draft" to evade congressional subpoena powers and the Freedom of Information Act. Informed sources say the memos echo the administration's abortive Iraq strategy: oust the existing regime, swiftly install a pro-U.S. government in its place (extracting the new regime's promise to renounce any nuclear ambitions) and get out. This daredevil scheme horrifies U.S. military leaders, and there's no evidence that it has won any backers at the cabinet level. ...
September 20, 2004, 8:36 a.m.
An evil regime.
As our leaders, hypnotized by the cobra's fatal dance and entranced by the fakir's music, stand immobile while the mullahs complete their nuclear program, it may be useful for the rest of us to maintain a clear-eyed understanding of the nature of the most formidable terror regime in the world. Would that our oxymoronic intelligence community and the feckless foreign service paid attention, but that would be more difficult than liberating Iran itself. Two recent events provide the basic profile.
First is the story of Sheikh Rasini of Tehran, a religious leader of middling importance who attracted the attention of some of the more sober officials of the Revolutionary Guard in the mid-Nineties. It seems Rasini was spending a lot of time in the intimacy of young boys, and showed other signs of corruption. The Guardians of the Revolution objected, and took their complaints to the Ayatollah Milani, who duly issued a fatwa authorizing a violent death for the sheikh. But Rasini turned the tables on his accusers and had them thrown into the nightmarish Evin Prison in Tehran, where Milani and the others were killed.
Rasini continued his active support of gay marriage until, a couple of months ago, he was surprised en flagrante and hauled before an Islamic tribunal for his conjugal activities with one Amir. The situation looked grave for the sheikh until the mullahs came up with an imaginative solution. Amir was "converted" to the opposite sex by some of Tehran's finest surgeons, thereby removing quite literally the basis for the accusation.
Amir is now Zohreh, and she and her sheikh may well live happily for the foreseeable future.
Then comes the story of Mehdi Derayati, also of Tehran, whose midadventures were reported a couple of days ago by ILNA, the Islamic Labor News Agency. Mehdi Derayati is a young Iranian who worked for a while with some internet news sites that apparently published some stuff that offended the mullahcracy. Like hundreds of young Iranians who enrage the mullahs, Mehdi was summarily rounded up and carted off...who knows where. It's a very common occurrence in the country that our Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, calls a "democracy," and it would hardly be worth mentioning were it not for Mehdi's lineage. For he is the son of Mustafa Derayati, the personal adviser on clerical affairs to President Khatami.
Mustafa Derayati was so upset at the mistreatment of his boy that he gave a public interview. "All we have had is a few phone calls from him, we know he has been arrested but no law-enforcement authority is telling us where he is. They just say we have acted in accordance with our duties."
To which my pen pal Potkin Azarmehr neatly adds, "Well there you go. So much for Khatami's "Civil Society" which fooled so many gullible anti-Americans in Europe. Here is an example of an Islamic Civil Society where the president's adviser is unable to find out where his son is incarcerated. What hope for the ordinary Iranian parents searching for their abducted sons or daughters?"
When people ask me why the Iranian people so hate the regime, I begin telling them stories like these, because no list of adjectives, no amount of statistics on social misery, child prostitution, unemployment, corruption of the elite, or drug addiction can convey the horror of this murderous tyranny. If a mullah is caught committing an act that would automatically lead to the death penalty for an ordinary citizen, the problem is "fixed" by a sex-change operation on his partner. But even the son of a counselor to the president can be "vanished" without any accountability.
Can you imagine these creatures with atomic bombs? And yet the U.N. issues yet another "deadline" for the end of November, the European Union preens itself on its avoidance of conflict, even with evil, the president speaks bravely but does nothing to support freedom in Iran, and his challenger lets it be known that, if elected, he will offer the mullahs the same misguided nuclear deal that has already failed in North Korea.
The legislation - which would apply to holdings of more than 49% and would be backdated to 20 March 2004 - is now set to come up for a vote on Tuesday.
Its language singles out airports and telecoms deals for special attention.
The government of President Mohammad Khatami, which backs increased foreign investment, said it could do little to block the move.
"The government frankly opposes the bill, but it is obliged to implement any law passed by parliament," Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, the cabinet secretary, told AFP.
"The proposed bill would paralyse the foreign policy apparatus and those economic apparatuses with dealings abroad."
The bill's progress comes just four months after an Austrian-Turkish consortium was ejected from the airport it had been contracted to build and run.
Tepe-Akfen-Vie (TAV) had spent $15m (£8.4m) on Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport before Revolutionary Guards shut it down in May, saying that TAV's business with Israel made its presence a security risk.
The guards have occupied the premises ever since.
Turkcell, Turkey's biggest mobile operator, has been awarded a contract to build a second GSM phone network in Iran with the assistance of Sweden's Ericsson, but has yet to sign the $3bn deal.
Turkcell, too, is accused by hardliners in parliament of having business links to Israel.
The bill represents the latest twist in the ongoing power struggle between the parliament, dominated by conservatives since February elections, and the more reform-minded government of President Khatami.
It is currently reviewing a five-year economic plan presented by President Khatami, who has been in office since 1997.
The plan, the original version of which called for privatisation - particularly of banks - and outside investment, had been thrown out by the Guardian Council, a religious legislative watchdog.
The Council had blocked much of the legislation put forward by the previous parliament, a majority of whose members had backed President Khatami.
The argument over investment meant that talks with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in late July ended without the signing of the investment deals which had been intended as the centrepiece of the visit.
|World Powers Urge Iran to Comply With IAEA
20 Sep 2004, 12:26 UTC
The United States and other world powers are urging Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and freeze all work on uranium enrichment.
The European Union and Russia joined Washington in saying Tehran should abide by an IAEA resolution adopted Saturday.
Russia's Foreign Ministry says Moscow backs the resolution as a way for Iran to answer questions about the aim of its nuclear program.
Russia is helping Iran to build a nuclear reactor, over objections from the United States, which has accused Iran of striving after nuclear weapons.
Iran denies that charge but on Sunday, it rejected the IAEA's demands as illegal under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Monday, an Iranian spokesman said Tehran's earlier decision to suspend uranium enrichment was voluntary, and the program could be resumed at any time.