Two militiamen, including a regional commander, were killed in a deadly clash which occurred yesterday in the western province of Mian-Do-Ab.
The residents of the "Se-Tapeh" village have been reported as having retaliated to the brutal assault of the regime's forces sent to the locality.
The official authorities have announced investigating on the reason and responsibilities of the militiamen's deaths.
No news on the number of death, injured or arrested among the residents has been communicated so far.
Armed struggle is in constant raise as a majority of Iranians are believing that the Islamic regime will not step down from political power by peaceful means.
WASHINGTON - A prominent Democratic senator urged the Bush administration to directly engage Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program and that preemptive military force should not be ruled out.
"I don't want to saber rattle, but I wouldn't take anything off the table," said Senator Joe Lieberman, who made an unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination this year.
Lieberman added that the use of force should be a last resort, and expressed hope that a consistent US-European diplomatic approach "will make that never even a topic of actively serious consideration."
But he told defense reporters Iran "is on a path to develop a very significant nuclear weapons program" and is working hard to develop missiles with ranges capable of striking targets in Europe as well as the Middle East.
"If it were up to me, I would try to get the United States in direct communication with the Iranian leadership but on a very tough, tough basis -- let's decide what the future is going to be," he told defense reporters here.
"You have to marshall diplomatic support with the UN, but in the end they've got to feel we're really serious about this for them to stop the development of nuclear weapons, which in my opinion they are on a headlong course to develop," he said.
Iran's clerical regime insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, and that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons.
Defying UN pressure, President Mohammad Khatami has said Iran will not give up uranium enrichment efforts, which could be used to produce bomb-making material.
Do you think those who want democracy in Iran will support a US strike against Iranian Nuclear facilities? Is a coordination possible at all?
Posted Thursday, September 23, 2004
TEHRAN 23 Sept. (IPS) Iran's conservative-dominated Majles, or parliament dealt the government of powerless Mohammad Khatami a major blow by approving, with a small majority, a bill that imposes on the government serious strings when it signs major deals with foreign firms.
A visibly angry and annoyed President immediately reacted, describing the measure as unprecedented, a first in the history of the Islamic republic, paralysing the government, preventing progress of the society and eventually in contradiction of the Constitution, meaning the interference of the Legislative in the affairs of the Executive.
Not only the bill, approved by 108 votes out of the 212 lawmakers present against 79 abstention, would prevent the government of signing deals with foreign firms without prior approval of the Majles, but it also would apply to any contracts signed from the beginning of the current Iranian year on March 20 and in which a foreign company has more than a 49-percent stake.
The bill, approved by 108 votes out of the 212 lawmakers present against 79 abstention, would prevent the government of signing deals with foreign firms without prior approval of the Majles.
As approved, the bill singles out contracts passed earlier this year with Turkey's Turkcell telephone company to provide Iran with a second mobile phone oprator in the one hand and the Austrian-Turkish Tepe-Akfen-Vie (TAV) for handling all services at the new Emam Khomeini International Airport.
The 500 million US Dollars airport was shut down to traffic by the Armed Forces hours after its official inauguration, arguing that the contract endangered the Islamic republic's security because the operators also had business dealings with Israel.
Both the embattled Khatami and the government spokesman, Mr. Abdollah Ramezanzadeh warned that the bill would paralyse the government's power to pursue economic activities with foreign countries, but stressed that the government would accept parliament's decision.
"The Majles has the right to investigate, question ministers and place conditions for the government, but that a president who represents the whole of the people and his ministers are approved by peoples representatives and at the same time faces the whole world has no credit and unable to deal with the world, that means the paralysing the government and international disdain in investing in Iran, Khatami told journalists, adding, "This will discourage foreigners from investing in Iran. This will cost the country billions of dollars".
The Majles took the decision just one week before Khatamis scheduled official visit to Turkey, where contracts with Turkcell, signed in February, was to bring the government 7.5 billion US Dollars over 15 years, economists said.
"The military fraction of the Majles wants to push the country into isolation", said a leading Iranian analyst, adding that the bill would certainly limit further the already small amount of foreign investments in Iran, where the economy, which grew by 6.7 per cent in 2003, is heavily dependent on oil and gas, responsible for around 80 percent of exports.
Economists say Irans economy is probably one of the worlds most heavily centralised and government-controlled.
Foreign investment is limited both by a high degree of state control and by economic sanctions introduced by the US after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and strengthened after the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.
Economists say Irans economy is probably one of the worlds most heavily centralised and government-controlled.
Asked if he hoped that the Council of the Guardians that must approve all bills passed by the Majles before becoming law reject the measure, Mr. Khatami said if not, the bill would become law and then its negative effect would concern the whole of the nation.
ENDS MAJLES CURB GOVERNMENT 23903
Amir Taheri on an anti-Bush expose that contains assertions and allegations aplenty . . . but no evidence
Often described as the only "superpower", the United States is, in fact, a banana republic led by a coterie of mischief-makers with dark motives. Its secret services, indeed its entire government administration, leaks like a sieve. Its military is no better than Dad's Army when it comes to real fighting; and its Congress is too cowed to operate the checks and balances envisaged in the Constitution.
This is the picture that emerges from Seymour Hersh's Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. Made up of articles published in The New Yorker, the book's main theme is a seething hatred of George W. Bush. Sometimes it hints at interesting, even explosive information, while dwelling at length on matters of little consequence. For example, Hersh claims that Osama bin Laden was in Tehran on July 31, 1996 to create an anti-American alliance. Elsewhere, Hersh suggests that at least one foreign government was involved in the attacks against New York and Washington in September 2001.
If true, this could alter many assumptions, including those of the 9/11 Congressional Committee that ruled out any foreign government involvement. Hersh devotes just a couple of paragraphs to what merits a whole book. On the other hand he devotes 11 pages to a lunch that Richard Perle, a former Pentagon official, had with some Saudi businessmen, thus, Hersh claims, exposing him to conflict of interest charges.
Hersh uses the method of medieval scholastics: first choose your belief, then seek proofs. As soon as he has made an assertion he cites a "source" to back it. In every case this is either an unnamed former official or an unidentified secret document passed to Hersh in unknown circumstances. The "sources" come under different labels: a former CIA analyst, a former aide to someone, a person who was present at something, someone who heard it from someone else.
If Hersh talks about Syria, he immediately gets a "Syrian source"; if Germany is involved, hey presto "a German source" appears. By my count Hersh has anonymous sources inside 30 foreign governments and virtually every department of the US government.
Here is a typical chain of Hershian "sourcing": someone described as "a former analyst" tells Hersh of what he was told by a former colleague who heard from a former CIA official who had heard Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley telling his boss Condoleezza Rice something. The question is: why not check with Hadley or Rice?
Hersh asserts that the abuse of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad was not the result of "the criminal inclinations of a few army reservists, but [of] the reliance of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on secret operations and the use of coercion". He then proceeds to "prove" this with dozens of testimonies by unnamed sources and "top secret" papers that, if they existed, must have been stolen from the government.
But the book itself refutes Hersh's conspiracy theory. He shows that the US army learned of abuse at Abu Ghraib in the summer of 2003. In autumn General Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ordered General Sanchez, the commander in Iraq, to investigate. General Taguba did the investigation and reported in February 2004. Early in April an Article 3 hearing - the military equivalent of a grand jury - was held and charged several officers with abuse. It was the leaking of the army's investigation that tipped off CBS which broke "the story" on April 28.
Had there been any order "from above" to mistreat prisoners, for reasons that Hersh does not specify, it is unlikely that the US military would have ordered an inquiry.
Since then there have been eight investigations of the charges at the Pentagon plus months of hearings at the Senate and the House of Representatives. A special inquiry headed by two former defence secretaries Harold Brown (Democrat) and James Schlesinger (Republican) has reported that there was "no policy that encouraged prisoner abuse" in Iraq. But Hersh is not satisfied. He prefers his "alternative history".
Hersh starts his book by promising to "expose" Bush's alleged misdeeds on the basis of "documented facts" but ends up with an admission of ignorance: "There is so much about this presidency that we don't know, and may never learn. Some of the most important questions are not even being asked." One might wonder why he does not ask those "most important questions", whatever they might be.
British journalists often claim that while they write "news", their American colleagues write "stories". Hersh shows that this may well be more than a joke by the British about their American cousins.
By Henry Sokolski
LAST weekend, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency called on Teheran to freeze its efforts to produce nuclear fuel, since this will enable Iran to come within days of having a nuclear arsenal. On Wednesday, however, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said the world must recognise Iran's right to enrich uranium to fuel its power stations.
|Iran says 'no' to nuke freeze: President Khatami says world must recognise Iran's right to enrich uranium to fuel its power stations despite calls by the United nations for a freeze. -- REUTERS|
At stake is the future of any hope of keeping the Middle East from following Iran's nuclear example.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Iran's nuclear ambition, everyone, both hawks and doves, Europeans and Americans, still believes there is some way to keep Iran from coming within a few weeks of having a nuclear bomb. Iran, however, is no more than 12 to 36 months from acquiring nuclear arms and seems dead set on securing an option to do so.
Still, most experts don't perceive the urgency. President George W. Bush's detractors insist that by simply dealing directly with Teheran, the United States can resolve it by offering it a reliable supply of fresh reactor fuel in exchange for a pledge to refrain from making its own (and thereby coming within days of making a bomb). Never mind Iran's defiance of a year-old nuclear enrichment freeze agreement that has humiliated Britain, France and Germany. A new US president, according to Mr Bush's opponents, can reverse these trends.
White House officials, meanwhile, insist Iran, having repeatedly violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), should be hauled before the Security Council to make sure it doesn't get the bomb. Judging from the Security Council's inability to ensure Saddam Hussein's compliance with international weapons inspections, one can't be too hopeful.
This, then, gives rise to the hawkish solution: bombing (with or without UN approval). Israeli or US attack on Iran's nuclear plants, this group insists, is the only hope. This will at least delay its programme a few years. However, lasting results will require overthrowing the current regime - an endeavour still under way in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If there is no sure way to stop Iran, what should the international community do? The answer: Tackle the most worrisome preventable problems. This would clearly exclude getting Iran to keep its nuclear materials and capabilities out of the hands of terrorists. This scenario is not only unlikely (Teheran's mullahs are unlikely to allow it), but clearly beyond the scope of international powers.
What, then, deserves greater attention? The one thing even worse than a nuclear-ready Iran: an entire Middle East cast in Iran's nuclear mould. Earlier this year, senior Saudi officials announced their interest in acquiring or 'leasing' nuclear weapons from China or Pakistan - a legal move under the NPT, so long as the weapons remain under Chinese or Pakistani 'control'. Egypt, having revealed plans to develop a large nuclear desalination plant, also recently received sensitive nuclear technology from Libya. Syria, meanwhile, is believed to be experimenting with uranium enrichment centrifuges. Algeria is in the midst of upgrading its second large research reactor facility.
If these states continue to pursue their nuclear dreams (spurred by Iran's example), can Iraq, with its considerable number of nuclear scientists and engineers, be expected to stand by? And what of Turkey, whose private sector was recently revealed to be part of Pakistani proliferator Abdul Qadeer Khan's network? Will nuclear agitation in its south and its repeated rejection by the European Union cause Turkey to reconsider its non-nuclear status? What can be done?
First, the international community must challenge Iran's claim that its nuclear activities are peaceful and protected under the NPT. No nation that sits on as much oil and gas as Iran has a legitimate need to generate nuclear electricity. Consider: Had Iran openly solicited proposals to provide electrical generating capacity, all the non-nuclear bids would have come in at a fraction of the cost of building nuclear power reactors and fuel production plants.
Second, the US and its allies should build on France's recent proposal that the UN Security Council adopt country-neutral rules for dealing with NPT violators. These rules should stipulate that countries which reject inspections and withdraw from the NPT (something Iran has threatened to do) without first addressing their previous violations must surrender and dismantle their nuclear capabilities (especially large research and power reactors and bulk handling facilities) to come back into compliance.
They would also stipulate that nations not found to be in full compliance will no longer receive nuclear assistance from any other country (for example, Russian assistance to Iran to complete its reactor at Bushehr, which has been the 'peaceful' justification of Iran's most dangerous nuclear activities) until the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors unanimously issues a clean bill of health.
Surely, if France can support such rules, so can Europe, the US and its allies. If these nations unite, Russia will likely follow, particularly if it receives a reward. (One might start with the cost-free nuclear cooperative agreement Moscow has sought for so many years from the US.)
Finally, the US and its allies need to pace themselves. In the end, the only sure path to non-proliferation is more moderate self-rule and increased arms restraint backed by US and allied military resolve and economic cooperation. Iran's current rulers will have to go. Until then, bombing or bribing Teheran should be put aside in favour of tightening and enforcing the rules to keep others from following Iran's example.
Friday 24th September, 2004
|Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in New York Thursday called Iran the world's No. 1 exporter of terror.
He told the Umited Nations General Assembly, The international community now realizes that Iran -- with missiles that can reach London, Paris, Berlin and southern Russia -- does not only pose a threat to the security of Israel.
Shalom urged delegates to focus their attention on Iran and Syria's active involvement in militant organizations, stressing Iran was responsible for terror, hate and instability.
There can be no place in the community of nations for those who promote the killing of children, the foreign minister added.
He asked the assembly to end its "obsession with Israel and to ensure that U.N. resources are allocated more equally and more effectively.
I call on this assembly to address the growth of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and intolerance, he said.
The hardest thing for Westerners to understand is not that a war with militant Islam is underway but that the nature of the enemys ultimate goal. That goal is to apply the Islamic law (the Sharia) globally. In U.S. terms, it intends to replace the Constitution with the Quran.
This aspiration is so remote and far-fetched to many non-Muslims, it elicits more guffaws than apprehension. Of course, that used to be the same reaction in Europe, and now its become widely accepted that, in Bernard Lewis words, Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century.
Because of the American skepticism about Islamist goals, I postponed publishing an article on this subject until immediately after 9/11, when I expected receptivity to the subject would be greater (it was published in November 2001as The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America). I argued there that
The Muslim population in this country is not like any other group, for it includes within it a substantial body of peoplemany times more numerous than the agents of Osama bin Ladinwho share with the suicide hijackers a hatred of the United States and the desire, ultimately, to transform it into a nation living under the strictures of militant Islam.
The receptivity indeed was greater, but still the idea of an Islamist takeover remains unrecognized in establishment circles the U.S. government, the old media, the universities, the mainline churches.
Therefore, reading A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America, in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 19 caused me to startle. Its a long analysis that draws on an exclusive interview with Ahmed Elkadi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader in the United States during 1984-94, plus other interviews and documentation. In it, the authors (Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe, and Laurie Cohen) warily but emphatically acknowledge the Islamists goal of turning the United States into an Islamic state.
Over the last 40 years, small groups of devout Muslim men have gathered in homes in U.S. cities to pray, memorize the Koran and discuss events of the day. But they also addressed their ultimate goal, one so controversial that it is a key reason they have operated in secrecy: to create Muslim states overseas and, they hope, someday in America as well.
Brotherhood members emphasize that they follow the laws of the nations in which they operate. They stress that they do not believe in overthrowing the U.S. government, but rather that they want as many people as possible to convert to Islam so that one dayperhaps generations from nowa majority of Americans will support a society governed by Islamic law.
This Brotherhood approach is in keeping with my observation that the greater Islamist threat to the West is not violence flattening buildings, bombing railroad stations and nightclubs, seizing theaters and schools but the peaceful, legal growth of power through education, the law, the media, and the political system.
The Tribune article explains how, when recruiting new members, the organization does not reveal its identity but invites candidates to small prayer meetings where the prayer leaders focus on the primary goal of the Brotherhood, namely setting up the rule of God upon the Earth (i.e., achieving Islamic hegemony). Elkadi describes the organizations strategic, long-term approach: First you change the person, then the family, then the community, then the nation.
His wife Iman is no less explicit; all who are associated with the Brotherhood, she says, have the same goal, which is to educate everyone about Islam and to follow the teachings of Islam with the hope of establishing an Islamic state.
In addition to Elkadi, the article features information from Mustafa Saied (about whose Muslim Brotherhood experiences the Wall Street Journal devoted a feature story in December 2003, without mentioning the organizations Islamist goals). Saied, the Tribune informs us, says
he found out that the U.S. Brotherhood had a plan for achieving Islamic rule in America: It would convert Americans to Islam and elect like-minded Muslims to political office. Theyre very smart. Everyone else is gullible, Saied says. If the Brotherhood puts up somebody for an election, Muslims would vote for him not knowing he was with the Brotherhood.
Citing documents and interviews, the Tribune team notes that the secretive Brotherhood, in an effort to acquire more influence, went above ground in Illinois in 1993, incorporating itself as the Muslim American Society. The MAS, headquartered in Alexandria, Va. and claiming 53 chapters across the United States engages in a number of activities. These include summer camps, a large annual conference, websites, and the Islamic American University, a mainly correspondence school in suburban Detroit that trains teachers and imams.
Of course, the MAS denies any intent to take over the country. One of its top officials, Shaker Elsayed, insists that
MAS does not believe in creating an Islamic state in America but supports the establishment of Islamic governments in Muslim lands. The groups goal in the United States, he says, is to serve and develop the Muslim community and help Muslims to be the best citizens they can be of this country. That includes preserving the Muslim identity, particularly among youths.
Notwithstanding this denial, the Tribune finds MAS goals to be clear enough:
Part of the Chicago chapters Web site is devoted to teens. It includes reading materials that say Muslims have a duty to help form Islamic governments worldwide and should be prepared to take up arms to do so. One passage states that until the nations of the world have functionally Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful. Another one says that Western secularism and materialism are evil and that Muslims should pursue this evil force to its own lands and invade its Western heartland. [links added by me, DP]
In suburban Rosemont, Ill., several thousand people attended MAS annual conference in 2002 at the villages convention center. One speaker said, We may all feel emotionally attached to the goal of an Islamic state in America, but it would have to wait because of the modest Muslim population. We mustnt cross hurdles we cant jump yet.
These revelations are particularly striking, coming as they do just days after a Washington Post article titled In Search Of Friends Among The Foes, which reports how some U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials believe the Muslim Brotherhoods influence offers an opportunity for political engagement that could help isolate violent jihadists. Graham Fuller is quoted saying that It is the preeminent movement in the Muslim world. Its something we can work with. Demonizing the Brotherhood, he warns, would be foolhardy in the extreme. Other analysts, such as Reuel Gerecht, Edward Djerejian, and Leslie Campbell, are quoted as being in agreement with this outlook.
But it is a deeply wrong and dangerous approach. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood is not specifically associated with violence in the United States (as it has been in other countries, including Egypt and Syria), it is deeply hostile to the United States and must be treated as one vital component of the enemys assault force.
Daniel Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).
Israel has claimed Iran has replaced Saddam Hussein as the number one source of terrorism and has called on the international community to stand up to Tehran.
"There was a time when the problems of terror, Islamic fundamentalism and Iranian nuclear ambition were seen as local problems - Israel's problems," Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
"The international community now realises that Iran - with missiles that can reach London, Paris, Berlin and southern Russia - does not only pose a threat to the security of Israel but to the security and stability of the whole world," he said.
"Iran has replaced Saddam Hussein as the world's number one exporter of terror, hate and instability," Mr Shalom said.
"I call on this assembly to address head-on the active involvement of Iran and Syria in terrorism," he said.
The minister also said the assembly, which has passed hundreds of resolutions criticising Israel and holds regular meetings on the Palestinian conflict, should pursue other work.
"The Palestinian side spends more energy fighting Israel here at the UN than it does fighting terrorists in its own territory," Mr Shalom said.
"I call on this assembly to end its obsession with Israel and to ensure that UN resources are allocated more equally and more effectively," he said.
"We must not let the Palestinian desire to vilify Israel distract our global community from the obligation to address the needs of all people," he said.
He appealed for a special assembly session to address anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance.
As a number of public opinion polls show a sustained, if not growing, lead that US President George W Bush enjoys over his Democratic Party opponent John Kerry, the neo-conservatives have started a whisper campaign of possible regime change in Iran after the November presidential election. The element of hubris for which the neo-cons have been notorious is being applied cavalierly about the almost inevitability of Bush's re-election, even though much can happen before polling day. If Bush is indeed re-elected, the world is likely to encounter, if not a US military invasion of Iran, believing the whisper campaign, then most likely a preemptive neutralizing of all of its nuclear reactors.
Undoubtedly, Iran has intensified the conflict by declaring on Tuesday that it had begun "converting tons of uranium [oxide] into [uranium hexafluoride] gas", a crucial step in making fuel for a nuclear reactor - or a nuclear bomb. This was in defiance to a recent call by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for Iran to suspend all such activities. President Mohammad Khatami added a rather strange wrinkle to this episode by stating that the world must recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium for power stations, as if that right was as "natural" as the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. He added, "Then the way will be open for further cooperation. Iran is ready to continue its activities under full IAEA supervision and convince the world it is not considering atomic weapons." At least from its public statements, Iran does not want to recognize the linkages between its enrichment of uranium and possible development of nuclear weapons. The US, on the other hand, has concluded that Iran is well on its way to developing nuclear weapons.
Iran now has a full-blown credibility problem vis-a-vis the international community. Last October it announced that it would freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment. That was a reasonable position, and many countries - certainly a number of European states - believed it. Within a matter of less than a year, its government made a radical volte-face and depicted uranium enrichment as a matter of "right".
Iran might be drawing the wrong lessons from the ongoing US-North Korea nuclear weapons-related conflict. Since Kim Jong-il is being intransigent about unraveling his nuclear-weapons program, Iran seems to be operating from the premise that it, too, can get away by adopting a similar posture regarding its own nuclear program. It doesn't realize that circumstances surrounding North Korea's nuclear weapons program are starkly dissimilar from its own program for several reasons.
First, North Korea is understood to possess nuclear weapons. Such a reality makes it difficult for the US seriously to consider implementing preemption. That is not to say, however, that diplomatic pressure on North Korea will lessen in the coming months, regardless of who is sitting in the White House come January. Second, the six-nation forum on the US-North Korea nuclear weapons conflict might still pull off a negotiated solution of that conflict, especially if China envisages high enough payoffs stemming from its pressure on its ally. Third, recent reports of South Korea's development of highly enriched uranium, and even plutonium, was a setback for the United States' hardnosed position that Pyongyang unravel its nuclear-weapons program. Finally, the very nature of threats related to even a nuclear North Korea are not that grave, considering that its three neighbors - Japan, Taiwan and South Korea - also possess significantly sophisticated nuclear capabilities. So even if North Korea becomes a nuclear power - or if it already is in that category - those countries have not couched their security-related threats in stark terms. All three are protected under the US security arrangements.
On the other hand, the prospects of a nuclear Iran have already been portrayed by the US and Israel as inherently threatening to the region, and Israel in particular. One has to read some of the published top national-security-related documents - such as the National Security Strategy, the National Military Strategy and the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review - to grasp how serious the US is regarding the spread of weapons of mass destruction, especially among the so-called "axis of evil" states - Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Most important, there is no great power that would risk a serious rift with the US by even pretending to come to the rescue of Iran.
It must be stated that such grim portrayals notwithstanding, there is still ample room for negotiations. However, the sole purpose of such negotiations, at least from the US side, is for Iran to cease imminently its enrichment of uranium and, more to the point, be willing to cooperate fully with the IAEA in future intrusive inspections. Unfortunately from the point of view of Iran, in the environment post-September 11, 2001, its nuclear programs are clashing head-on with the overall US determination to unravel such programs wherever it finds them: Libya, North Korea and Iran. Of course, Libya is identified as the shining success of America's nuclear non-proliferation endeavor. North Korea's nuclear status might have become a fait accompli , but it is still not regarded as such in Washington. The chief focus of the six-nations dialogue is to unravel it, no matter what. That is why Washington is so persistently and resolutely insisting that Iran stop all its uranium-enrichment activities before they continue for too long.
What is also hurting Iran is the fact that the EU-3 (Germany, France and the United Kingdom), which are negotiating with it, are also demonstrating almost no patience. They have couched Iran's choices quite brusquely: either it cease its enriching of uranium, or the matter will be referred to the United Nations Security Council. There is a slight chance that either Russia or China would exercise their veto, if any stringent resolution were passed sanctioning Iran. However, even such a development is not likely to save Iran from a preemptive attack, if Bush wins his second term. Iran's neighbor Iraq regularly reminds the Islamic Republic how far Bush can go in terms of imposing his will.
Ehsan Ahrari, PhD, is an Alexandria, Virginia, US-based independent strategic analyst.
Satellite photos indicate Iran nuke site
Satellite photos indicate Iran nuke site
U.S. satellite photographs detail suspected nuclear weapons testing facilities at an Iranian military base outside Tehran, reports Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence news service.
The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security has released photographs of the Iranian military base at Parchin where nuclear weapons activities are suspected. The seven satellite images show buildings where nuclear weapons components are suspected of being prepared for testing.
Parchin is located about 30 kilometers southeast of Tehran. The Iranian government has asserted that the facility has long been used to test chemical explosives. The International Atomic Energy Agency has requested access to inspect the site operated by the Iranian Defense Industries Organization. Iran has not agreed to the request.
The U.S. institute, which retains leading nuclear experts and former officials, said Parchin could be converted to a nuclear weapons research and assembly facility. The institute said Parchin could also be used to test nuclear explosives and missile and rocket delivery systems.
On Sept. 21, Iran said it had begun converting 37 tons of raw uranium for enrichment by gas centrifuges. At the same time, Tehran displayed its enhanced Shihab-3 intermediate-range missile and launched the Shihab-2, with a range of 700 kilometers.
"This site is a logical candidate for a nuclear weapons-related site, particularly one involved in researching and developing high-explosive components for an impulsion-type nuclear weapon," David Albright and Corey Hinderstein wrote in a study for the institute.
The satellite imagery shows a building that appears to have a pad for testing small rocket motors rather than high explosives. The photographs also reveal a nearby bunker that could test a mock nuclear weapon.
"The concern is that this bunker could be where Iran would test a full-scale mock-up of a nuclear explosive using natural or depleted uranium as a surrogate of a highly enriched uranium core," Albright and Hinderstein stated.
The Parchin military complex, which contains hundreds of buildings and test sites, has focused on the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and high explosives. The U.S. institute has identified high-explosive testing facilities and the excavation of a hilly area that could be used for nuclear tests.
"Some facilities seem more suited to armaments research or rocket motor testing," Albright and Hinderstein wrote. "Despite the ambiguity about the purpose of this site, the available evidence appears sufficient to warrant a request for a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency of this site."
September 24, 2004, 9:34 a.m.
After years of baffling silence, George Will has finally written about Iran. His guide is the justly celebrated Azar Nafisi, but her one-liner Will used to portray contemporary Iran "What differentiated this revolution from the other totalitarian revolutions of the twentieth century was that it came in the name of the past" demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of the past (the Führer's movement was every bit as anti-modern as Khomeini's) and thus of the future (both forms of fascism being quite capable of asserting a terrible revolutionary claim on the destiny of all mankind and unleashing their murderous hatred on a global scale). Worse, Mr. Will tosses off a dismissive pronunciamento so absolute and categorical that he implies it is writ in the very nature of things: "There is no plausible path to achieving (regime change in Iran)." Why? Because "the regime-changers have their hands full with the unfinished project next door to Iran."
He'd have done better to concentrate his great talent and energy on preventing major-league baseball from reaching Washington, D.C. The claim that the United States cannot possibly bring about the fall of clerical fascism in Tehran is as silly as similar claims directed at Ronald Reagan when he set about bringing an end to the evil Soviet Empire. Indeed, skepticism about our determination to defeat Soviet Communism was far more justifiable than doubts about the thoroughly plausible path to end the Iranian mullahcracy. For only a small minority of the oppressed peoples of the Soviet Empire were ever willing to openly challenge the Kremlin as, for that matter, were the people in the Philippines under the Marcos kleptocracy, or in Yugoslavia under the mad Milosevic. Yet all came crashing down, defeated by their own people, who were inspired and supported by Americans.
In Iran today, upwards of 70 percent of the population is openly hostile to the regime, vocally desirous of freedom and democracy, and bravely supportive of the Bush Doctrine to bring democratic revolution to the entire region.
If we could bring down the Soviet Empire by inspiring and supporting a small percentage of the people, surely the chances of successful revolution in Iran are more likely. By orders of magnitude. "No plausible path," my derriere! (as Senateur Kerry might put it). Ask Comrade Gorbachev about the power of democratic revolution before you write off the Iranian people.
I think that Mr. Will got it wrong because he assumes that regime change implies military conquest. But we don't need armies of fighting American men and women to liberate Tehran; the foot soldiers are Iranians, and they are already on the ground, awaiting good leadership with a clear battle plan. The war against the Iranian terror masters will be political, not military. The weapons that will end the dreadful tyranny so well described by Mr. Will and Mrs. Nafisi are ideas and passions, not missiles and bullets. To our great shame, we have failed to support the Iranians' battle against their hated regime, but that is a failure of will, not a failure of means.
Mr. Will believes it inevitable that Iran will become a nuclear power in the near future, and this may well be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Surely the United Nations, the British, and the Europeans are doing everything possible to bring it to fulfillment. But this is a fallacy of "static" thinking in a rapidly changing world. South Africa and Ukraine were members of the nuclear club when they were oppressive tyrannies, but scrapped their nukes when they became free. It is certainly true that the current Iranian regime will stop at nothing until they have atomic bombs, but a free Iran might well make a different choice.
Most importantly, there is a huge difference between atomic bombs in the hands of fanatical mullahs, and atomic bombs controlled by a pro-Western and democratic country. Mr. Will says it is "surreal" for Condoleezza Rice to discuss the Iranian nuclear program in terms of what we can "allow" Iran to do, I suppose because he is convinced we have no plausible path to prevent it. That may or may not be true; I don't know if there is a politically acceptable military option, and I agree that diplomacy cannot possibly derail the mullahs' mad atomic march. But it is at least equally "surreal" to dismiss the prospects of democratic revolution in Iran, and thereby join the ranks of the appeasers.
If Reagan had listened to this sort of criticism and there was no shortage of it in the early '80s Gorbachev would still be managing the gulags and funding Communist movements all over the world. If Bush accepts George Will's view of Iran, we will soon see the world's primary sponsor of terror armed with atomic bombs.
It is not inevitable. We can beat them. Delay costs lives, both ours and those of the brave Iranians who challenge clerical fascism.
Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the release on 21 September of Iranian online journalist Babak Ghafori Azar, detained for two weeks for allegedly writing for the news website Rouydad, but said two others arrested around the same time are still being held and urged bloggers and other Internet users and to send e-mail messages of support.
The organisation said the messages, which senders may compose in their own words, should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org , from where they will be forwarded to the families of the imprisoned journalists and posted on the Farsi-language section of the Reporters Without Borders website : http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3 ?id_rubrique=256
The community of Iranian bloggers has been organising for several days to show its opposition to the censorship of Emrooz, Rouydad and Baamdad, websites that support Iran's main reform party. Dozens of Farsi-language blog pages have been renamed Emrooz and are displaying articles taken from the Emrooz site.
Azar, who also works for the business daily Hayat-e now, was arrested at his home on 7 September after it was searched by the police.
Shahram Rafihzadeh, the editor of the culture section of the newspaper Etemad, was arrested the same day, probably by the vice police, a section of the Tehran police thought to be linked to the intelligence services.
Hanif Mazroi, a journalist who used to work for several reformist newspapers, was arrested the following day when he complied with a summons to report to the ninth section of the Tehran prosecutor's office.
Rafihzadeh and Mazroi are probably being held in connection with the blocking of the Rouydad news site (www.rouydad.info) since 21 August on the orders of the Tehran prosecutor's office.
September 23, 2004
The Associated Press
Dow Jones Newswires
PARIS -- An alleged treasurer of an Iranian exile group appeared Thursday before a French judge amid suspicions of terror-related financing, judicial officials said.
The woman, a resident of London who wasn't identified, was arrested Monday at Gare du Nord train station in Paris after arriving from Brussels, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
Investigators believe the suspect, said to be about 58 years old, belongs to the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian exile group considered by the U.S. and the European Union to be a terrorist organization.
A judge was to decide whether the woman was to be placed under investigation -a step short of formal charges -for suspected ties to a terror group and financing of terrorism, the officials said.
The Mujahedeen Khalq fiercely opposes the Muslim clerical government in Iran . It has been based in France since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled Iran 's shah.
The group insists it is a peaceful umbrella movement of exiled Iranian opponents of the Iranian regime, and calls itself the National Council of Resistance of Iran. ...
September 24, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press
MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday called on Iran to comply with all demands of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, adding he was "deeply convinced" that Iran has no need for nuclear weapons. Putin's statement was the second time this week that Russia has asked Iran to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Last weekend, the U.N. agency demanded that Iran freeze uranium enrichment and all related activities, such as the building of centrifuges and reprocessing uranium, within two months.
Iran called the demand "illegal" and threatened to limit cooperation with the IAEA if it moves toward imposing sanctions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that the IAEA' resolution on Iran represented a compromise.
Speaking at a meeting of international news agencies and journalists Friday, Putin said Russia was "categorically against" expanding the number of nuclear-armed countries.
"Iran does not need nuclear weapons; this will solve not one of the problems standing before it; including the problem of security in the region," the Russian president said. ...
September 23, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
In a thinly veiled threat, Secretary of State Colin Powell noted Wednesday that "all nations" reserve the right to use military force to shutdown Iran's drive to build nuclear weapons.
However, Powell also added the qualifier that, at the moment, he knows of no plans to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
Over the weekend, Iran rejected a demand from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to put an end to its uranium enrichment programs. The step moves Tehran closer to producing the enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon.
Tehran has said its nuclear energy program is strictly for peaceful purposes, but U.S. officials believe that is nonsense given that nation's vast reserves of crude oil and natural gas.
Israel has expressed great unease about Iran's efforts to develop the capability to enrich uranium - and has indicated it wouldn't tolerate letting Iran possess nuclear weapons. In 1981, Israel launched a military strike that demolished a nuclear reactor in Iraq that Tel Aviv believed was the foundation of Saddam Hussein's efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Asked about the possibility Israel would launch a strike against Iran, Powell said, "I'm not aware of any plans to attack Iran. Every nation has all options available to it."
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom likewise sidestepped the question at the U.N., but made it clear Israel believes time is running out in the crisis.
"They are trying to buy time, and the time has come to move the Iranian case to the Security Council in order to put an end to this nightmare," Shalom said.
Shalom predicted the Iranians will never abandon their nuclear weapons program voluntarily.
As far as the U.S. is concerned, Powell said the decision now is to pursue diplomacy. However, he also indicated the U.S. has only a limited amount of patience left.
He said Iran needs to backdown by the time the IAEA meets again at the end of November and if it doesn't, then other options may come to the fore.
"We're talking about diplomacy and political efforts to stop this movement on the part of the Iranians toward a nuclear weapon and we're not talking about strikes. But every option, though, is -- of course -- remains on the table," Powell said.
While President George W. Bush has made it a practice not to rule out any option when confronting an international crisis, Powell is the first top administration official to weigh in on the topic of military strikes and Iran. ...
Friday September 24, 05:08 PM
|EU ready to toughen up on Iran nukes
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - European countries trying to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment programme are losing patience with Tehran and may soon be ready to support U.S. demands for tougher action, diplomats say.
One western diplomat close to the negotiations between Britain, France and Germany and Iran said it was very likely Iran's nuclear programme would be referred to the U.N. Security Council in November.
Iran, defying calls by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said earlier this week it had begun processing raw uranium to prepare it for enrichment -- a process that can be used to develop nuclear bombs.
"It looks like Iran is going to the Security Council," said the diplomat, who declined to be named. "People now are discussing what will happen when it goes there."
The European trio have been trying for over a year to persuade Iran to abandon its enrichment programme, resisting U.S. calls for tougher action to isolate and punish Tehran.
"They know what they have to do," one European diplomat said. "They need to implement a full suspension or they know what will happen."
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in New York, where he is attending UN General Assembly session, that the Europeans were growing impatient with Tehran.
"If we are not reassured ... then the matter will be brought before the Security Council," he told reporters, adding that the Europeans were still hoping Iran would begin co-operating.
It is not clear what would happen after any referral to the Security Council. Diplomats say its members would be unwilling to risk pushing up oil prices by imposing oil sanctions.
But they said the Security Council could start with a strong statement urging Iran to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Such a statement would be likely to win support from other Security Council members Russia and China, they said.
The United States and Israel have hinted at the possibility of military action to take out Iran's nuclear infrastructure.
Earlier this week, Israeli officials said that they were buying 500 U.S. "bunker buster" bombs capable of penetrating Iran's underground nuclear facilities.
"ALREADY TOO LATE"
Washington says Iran is developing nuclear bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme. Privately, many European diplomats agree. Iran, however, denies pursuing nuclear arms.
Last October, Iran promised the EU trio it would suspend all enrichment activities. But while Iran has not enriched any uranium, it has continued building and testing centrifuges and has begun processing uranium.
Diplomats and intelligence officials have told Reuters in recent interviews that once Iran has enough uranium feed material for its centrifuges, it will begin enriching it.
Washington has been demanding since last year that the IAEA's 35-member board report Iran to the Security Council for concealing its enrichment programme for two decades.
Negotiations between the EU trio and Iran will continue in the hope that Tehran will agree to a full freeze, but diplomats close to the talks said this is unlikely.
Another diplomat close to the IAEA said that it would be "very Iranian" if Tehran agreed to a suspension right before an IAEA board meeting due to discuss Iran on November 25.
But this would not be enough for Washington or Europe.
"The resolution called for an immediate suspension of the enrichment programme," said a Western diplomat on the IAEA board. "It is already too late."