Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - September 25, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 09/24/2004 10:11:16 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. As a result, most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
|Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires|
NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Iran would be "wise" to work with the U.N. nuclear watchdog and European governments to satisfy concerns about its nuclear ambitions, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday.
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran, under fire on suspicion of secretly seeking nuclear arms, accused the United States on Friday of "lawless militarism" in Iraq and called Israel the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.
"The attack against Iraq was illegal," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the U.N. General Assembly, thanking U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for publicly stating the same in a television interview last week.
The invasion was an example of "increasing lawless militarism," involving "the use of brute and unsanctioned military force to achieve some political goals, albeit desirable goals," said Kharrazi, explaining that his country, which fought an eight-year war with its neighbor, had "benefited greatly by the removal of Saddam Hussein."
Kharrazi said Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but declines to acknowledge them, had systematically thwarted U.N. efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.
"All countries of the region and beyond are unanimous in considering the Israeli arsenal, including its weapons of mass destruction, combined with its policy and record of aggression and state terrorism, as the single greatest threat to regional and global peace and security," he said.
"Israeli cannot hide these facts behind smoke screens. It is time for the international community to show its resolve to maintain the credibility of multilateral disarmament instruments by taking action to compel Israel to comply," he said.
The United States accuses Iran of using a domestic nuclear energy program as a cover for developing nuclear arms and wants the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency to send the matter to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Britain, France and Germany are pressing Tehran to renounce any weapons-related activities in return for cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy and closer economic ties.
But Iran instead said this week it had begun processing raw uranium for enrichment, a preliminary step to making a bomb.
Washington also accuses Iran of fueling attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq and backing anti-Israeli Hizbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon.
But Kharrazi sought to turn the tables on his critics, calling his country "a victim of terrorism" and urging a more collective global fight against the scourge.
"No state can even come close to doing it alone," he said.
The Iranians have suffered a great deal. I would hate to see war in Iran. But, I have doubts that the fanatic Mullahs will succumb quietly. They are trying to engender support by stirring hatred for Israel and the US.
Most problematic is that they are supporting terrorists in Iraq and attempting to become a nuclear state.
If there is popular support for freedom, it may be possible to eliminate the Mullahs without war.
Iran Defends Nuclear Program
24 Sep 2004, 21:58 UTC
Iran's foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi has insisted on his country's right to a peaceful nuclear program. Mr. Kharrazi's speech to the U.N. General Assembly also included a sharp condemnation the invasion of Iraq.
Foreign Minister Kharrazi told the Assembly Iran has been in the forefront of efforts to ban nuclear weapons. But he said, through interpreter, Iran maintains its right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program.
"The legitimate disarmament and non-proliferation concerns of the international community must be addressed through transparency and vigorous application of monitoring mechanisms," he said. "Iran has always been prepared to contribute actively to this global effort. While we insist on our right to technology for peaceful purposes, we have left and will leave no stone unturned in order to provide assurances of our peaceful intentions."
Mr. Kharrazi's comments came as European diplomats said they are trying to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program, and may soon support U.S. demands for tougher action. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told U.N. journalists Friday that Iran's nuclear program might soon be referred to the Security Council.
Tehran's government has repeatedly said its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful domestic energy needs.
Mr. Kharrazi's General Assembly speech included a sharp condemnation of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He called it an example of lawless militarism.
"A clear example of this lawlessness is the attack against Iraq. Attack against Iraq was illegal," he added.
Mr. Kharrazi thanked Secretary-General Kofi Annan for using the word "illegal" to describe the invasion during a British television interview this month.
At the same time, he said Iranians had benefited from Saddam Hussein's removal, and said many in Iran are joyous at seeing him behind bars. But he said as a matter of principle, the invasion that brought his arrest cannot but be viewed as the fruit of a forbidden tree.
EU ready for tougher action on Iran - diplomats
September 24, 2004, 20:11
European countries are losing patience with Iran over its nuclear programme, diplomats said today, as France's foreign minister insisted Tehran must assure the world it does not plan to acquire nuclear weapons. Western diplomats close to negotiations between Britain, France and Germany and Iran said the European trio might soon be ready to support US demands to refer Tehran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council in November.
Iran, defying calls by the UN 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 one 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 US calls for tougher action to isolate and punish Tehran.
Michel Barnier, the French foreign minister, said Iran urgently needed to reassure the international community about its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is purely for nuclear energy. "We are exactly at the time we need to be reassured and this is what we have told the Iranians," he told reporters in New York, where he was attending the UN General Assembly. "We are concerned that Iran is moving into research programmes which might lead to nuclear weapons," he said. "Assurances must be given that Iran that does not wish to and shall not acquire nuclear weapons. "The other alternative, if we are not reassured, is naturally to submit this question to the Security Council," Barnier said. "But for the time being, I still want to believe that we will keep the spirit of this contract, and it is in the interest of Iran and the interest of stability in the region."
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 permanent 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 they were buying 500 US "bunker buster" bombs capable of penetrating Iran's underground nuclear facilities.
Already too late
Washington says Iran is developing nuclear bombs and 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. 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 said in recent interviews that once Iran has enough uranium feed material for its centrifuges, it will begin enriching it. 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 was unlikely.
Another diplomat said 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.
"The resolution called for an immediate suspension of the enrichment programme," said a Western diplomat on the IAEA board. "It is already too late." - Reuters
Good that you finally add that LION & SUN to the Iranian flag
I am afraid that the New World Order has made plans for the world, and since Iran was not at the table her fate has already been decided. Unless the Mullah's are overthrown soon and the world put on notice that there is a new day in Iran, the NWO guys will steamroll Iran with or without the bomb.
The fact that the Mullahs are sponsoring terrorism and trying to enrich their nukes is just playing into the NWO hands.
Only a revolution that would make it a publicity nightmare for the steamroller to run will stop things at this rate, and as the countdown is getting close, I do not think there is enough time.
I am sorry to hear of the good people of Iran being in the bullseye. It sounds like they are not Islamic nutcases, but thinking, decent human beings.
My guess is the mullahs are going to show off their new nukes by firing some on American troops and Israel.
Millions will die that day. Isaiah 15-19?
"My guess is the mullahs are going to show off their new nukes by firing some on American troops and Israel."
No. They'll just want everyone to know they have them. A deterrent, scare-tactic and arm-twisting tool.
You are right.
Israel has nukes, has had them for years and has never threatened its neighbors with them. That is called a deterrent.
Iran has not got nukes yet, and has already declared their intentions of nuking Israel into oblivion. That is called suicidal mania.
Something Islamokazis specialize in.
No one wants the regime to have nuclear weapons.
But saying that they're going "to show off their new nukes by firing some on American troops and Israel", isn't a likely scenario.
The crazy mullahs love to talk tough and threaten people. But they're not suicidal and they know they don't have a chance of survival if they immediately attack Israel.
I didn't say only defensive purposes. Scare-tactics and arm-twisting tools aren't defensive.
I was specifically addressing this statement, "show off their new nukes....". I don't think they'd immediately launch an attack on anyone. They'd have a small limited quantity until they build more of an arsenal.
However, all of this is moot, because they won't get far enough to do anything.
"death of millions of Iranians",... means nothing to them. They care about their own hides only. They are crazy and unpredictable.
"These are dangerous times and time is running out."
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Iran said today it has successfully test-fired a long-range "strategic missile" and delivered it to its armed forces, saying it is now prepared to deal with any regional threats and even the "big powers."
Iran's new missiles can reach London, Paris, Berlin and southern Russia, according to weapons and intelligence analysts. "This strategic missile was successfully test-fired during (the recent) military exercises by the Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the armed forces," Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani was quoted by the state-run radio as saying.
The missile is believed by intelligence analysts to be an updated version of the Shihab-3, improved with the help of the North Koreans.
The news comes shortly after Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards staged military maneuvers near the border with Iraq, seen as a signal to Washington Tehran is prepared to fight back against any attempts to prevent the development of a nuclear reactor that could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium.
The radio said Shamkhani refused to give details about the missile for "security reasons," but said Iran was "ready to confront all regional and extra-regional threats."
Shamkhani last month said Iran was working on improvements to the range and accuracy of the Shihab-3 in response to Israel's moves to boost its anti-missile capability.
Today's announcement came days after Israel said it was buying from the United States about 5,000 smart bombs, including 500 one-ton bunker-busters that can destroy 6-feet-thick concrete walls.
Analysts say such bombs could be used to destroy Iran's nuclear reactor before it goes online. In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor before it went "hot." Iran may be only weeks or months away from activating the reactor.
The 2,000 pound "bunker-buster" bombs are part of one of the largest weapons deals between Israel and the U.S. in years. The bombs include airborne versions, guidance units, training bombs and detonators. They are guided by an existing Israeli satellite used by the military.
In addition to the 500 one-ton bunker-busters, the purchase includes 2,500 other one-ton bombs, 1,000 half-ton bombs and 500 quarter-ton bombs. Funding will come from U.S. military aid to Israel.
On Tuesday, Iran defied the International Atomic Energy Agency by announcing it is producing uranium hexafluoride, the material for centrifuge enrichment.
Kurtis Cooper, a U.S. State Department spokesman, declared: "Although Iran has repeatedly asserted that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes and its pursuit of uranium enrichment technologies are to fuel a planned civilian power program, Iran will have no peaceful use for enriched uranium for many, many years. ... The rush to convert 37 tons of yellowcake into feed-stock for centrifuge enrichment has no peaceful justification. ... Thirty-seven tons of yellowcake is not a test. It is a production run."
New Iran missiles can reach London
Tehran successfully test-fires new weapon,
Israelis buy 500 U.S. 'bunker-buster' bombs
I beg to differ, I think they have proven the opposite a long time ago.
"I think they have proven the opposite a long time ago."
I wish they had, then they wouldn't be around.
Iran: 120 executions in public since MarchFri. 24 Sep 2004
American Spectator. Oct 2004 issue | 25 Sep 2004 | Timmermann, Kenneth R.
Posted on 09/25/2004 11:26:16 AM PDT by docbnj
Thanks for the post!
|Press Release||Source: Iranian Action Committee, Inc.|
The International Moral Court, established by a decision of a group of sixty-five eminent Iranian personalities from various backgrounds and living inside and outside of Iran, for the purpose of permitting Iranian nationals to give testimony about various aspects of the human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran; The Members of the International Moral Court being: Eric Suy (Belgium) -- President, Il-Yung Chung (Republic of Korea) -- Vice President, Betty Friedan (United States -- absent), Olivier Warin (France), Bernard Coughlin (United States), Kathleen Mahoney (Canada -- absent), Hossein Abghari (Iran), Malika Boussof (Algeria) and Alan Hart (United Kingdom); and Ebenezer Okpokpo (Nigeria) -- Secretary of the Court; Having met in Paris on 23, 24 and 25 September 2004; Having formally delivered an invitation to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Paris, to send official representatives to also take part in the Court's deliberations; The Lawyer representing the victims being Mr. Jacques Boedels (France) of the Law Firm ARMAND, BOEDELS & ASSOCIES; Having heard and watched eighteen witnesses on human rights conditions in the Islamic Republic of Iran testify via VHS, DVD, written statements, and direct personal interviews before the Court, which are all on record; Concludes, prima facie, that there is sufficient material evidence to determine that gross and systematic violations of international human rights standards have taken place, and are still being perpetrated in the Islamic Republic of Iran. These violations concern, in particular, the civil and political rights, minority rights, torture and other inhumane treatments such as stoning, amputations, and rape. It will be for a court of law to determine if these findings constitute a crime against humanity; Therefore calls upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to authorize access to the country by the United Nations Commission for Human Rights and other human rights agencies; Also calls upon governments, in their dealings with the Islamic Republic of Iran, to insist upon strict observance of human rights standards; Decides to transmit this Conclusion to the Secretary-General of the United Nations; Decides to meet again, in the Spring of 2005 in order to continue the oversight and evaluation of the human rights situation in Iran; and, Expresses its gratitude to the French Government for its hospitality and assistance.
Tehran says force would not work against "powerful" Iran
TEHRAN (Agencies) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi has called for more dialogue to resolve a standoff with the UN nuclear watchdog, warning that force would not work against the "powerful" Islamic republic.
"Nobody can deny the right of Iran to use nuclear technology for civil purposes. Iran is a powerful country ... and one cannot use the language of violence with a powerful country," he told Iranian state television as carried by AFP news agency.
"We have to find a solution where our right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes is respected and at the same time where worries are removed," said the minister, on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
"If people want to resolve this problem, the solution is a dialogue that recognizes our right and that removes worries," said Kharrazi, who met his British, French and Spanish counterparts. "We do not want to build an atomic bomb, which is why inspectors are visiting our facilities."
According to the IRNA news agency Kharrazi made similar statements over his countrys nuclear program in his meeting German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
In a resolution passed on Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency called on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment-related activities.
Iran suspended enrichment itself last year, but has continued to advance on other parts of the fuel cycle.
The resolution from the board of the UN nuclear watchdog also gives Iran until November 25 to clear up ambiguities over its activities. -----------Iran warns of most severe reaction in case of Israeli attack
Kharrazi warned Wednesday his country would react "most severely" to any Israeli strike against its nuclear facilities. "Israel is always a threat not only against Iran, but all countries in the Middle East," the Iranian top diplomat said after talks here with his British counterpart, Jack Straw. "Be sure that any action by Israel certainly will be reacted by us most severely."
Kharrazi said he had "a very good discussion" with Straw on the nuclear issue as well as relations between the two countries.
Britain, along with France and Germany, has been pressing Tehran to provide guarantees that its nuclear program would not be turned into a quest for nuclear weapons. "I believe there are concerns on all sides," the Iranian minister said. "There are concerns on the European side, and we have to arrive to some conclusions that will be acceptable to both sides to overcome this impasse." He said he believed there were "ways and means how to make both sides happy," but added, "Nobody can deny our right, which is using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes."
Straw did not make a statement at the end of the talks.
Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani told Iranian state media that following the test, the missiles had now been delivered to the armed forces.
He did not name the missile or give details of its range.
The announcement comes amid tensions over Iran's nuclear programme, which it insists is for peaceful purposes.
Power and range
"This strategic missile was successfully test-fired during... military exercises by the Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the armed forces," Mr Shamkhani said.
He was quoted by Iran's student news agency, Isna, as saying that it was better than another unspecified missile for four reasons - it was more powerful, more accurate, faster and had a longer range.
The French AFP news agency said it was not clear whether or not the minister was talking about an improved version of the Shahab-3 medium-range missile, which it said had been tested in August.
It said the Shahab-3 was based on a North Korean design and had a range of 800 miles (1,300km).
The week-long exercises began on 12 September near the country's border with Iraq.
Military officials said it was intended to demonstrate Iran's resolve to defend itself against "big powers."
Iran on Thursday warned Israel it would react "most severely" if Israel used force to try to destroy its nuclear facilities.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was responding to reports that the United States is to sell Israel hundreds of "bunker-busting" bombs.
Earlier in the month, Iran's Revolutionary Guards staged military exercises near the country's border with Iraq.
Pentagon think tank sees Iran nukes by 2005
A leading Pentagon-funded think tank has determined that Iran could be as little as a year away from producing its first nuclear bomb.
The report by the Washington-based Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy Education Center provided the harshest assessment yet of Iran's nuclear weapons program. The report, partly funded by the Pentagon, also reviewed U.S. responses to Iran's program, but ruled out a military strike.
On Tuesday, Iran said it has begun converting 37 tons of raw yellowcake uranium for enrichment by gas centrifuges, Middle East Newsline reported. U.S. officials said the announcement reflected Teheran's intention to accelerate its nuclear weapons program.
"Iran is now no more than 12 to 48 months from acquiring a nuclear bomb, lacks for nothing technologically or materially to produce it, and seems dead set on securing an option to do so," the report, released on Sept. 13, said.
The assessment by the center came only weeks after the intelligence communities in Israel and the United States concluded that Iran sustained a setback in its race to achieve nuclear capability. In August, Israel's intelligence community asserted that International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities prompted a suspension of uranium enrichment and the transfer of such equipment from civilian to military bases.
Iranian engineers need between one to four years to develop nuclear warheads, the report said. The think tank said Iran has the equipment to produce nuclear weapons fuel, the expertise to assemble bombs and the missile delivery systems.
The study was drafted with the help of leading U.S. experts on Iran, the Middle East, and nuclear weapons. The experts warned that a nuclear Iran would increase its support for organizations deemed terrorist, boost the price of oil and spark an arms race in the region.
"With Hamas in decline, Iran has already been seen to be increasing its support to groups like Hizbullah in Israel and Lebanon who want to liberate Palestine from 'Israeli occupation,'" the report said. "Increasing this aid certainly would help Iran take the lead in the Islamic crusade to rid the region of Zionist and American forces and thereby become worthy of tribute and consideration by other Islamic states. Also, bolstering such terrorist activity would help Teheran deter Israel and the U.S. from striking it militarily."
The report said U.S. and allied policy-makers have been drafting plans to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The think tank said the two most widely-examined choices were to bomb or bribe Iran.
"Neither, however, is likely to succeed and could easily make matters worse," the report said. "Certainly, targeting Iran's nuclear facilities risks leaving other covert facilities and Iran's nuclear cadre of technicians untouched."
"As for eliminating Iran's nuclear capabilities militarily, the U.S. and Israel lack sufficient targeting intelligence to do this," the report added.
"As it is, Iran could have already hidden all it needs to reconstitute a bomb program assuming its known declared nuclear plants are hit."
Instead, the report recommended that the United States lead naval exercises throughout the Persian Gulf. The exercises should seek to improve allied capability to clear mines, protect merchant ships, seize nuclear cargo and ensure traffic in the Straits of Hormuz.
Another recommendation was that the United States offer missile defense systems to allies in the Middle East. The think tank warned that such an offer must ensure that recipient states could not use these systems for offensive purposes.
The study warned that a nuclear Iran would spark similar programs in a range of Middle East states. Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey all signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty were the most likely to seek nuclear weapons, the study said.
In early 2004, the report said, senior Saudi officials announced they were studying the possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons from China or Pakistan. At the same time, Egypt announced plans to develop a large nuclear desalinization plant and could have received sensitive nuclear technology from Libya.
"Egypt, Algeria, Syria, and Saudi Arabia will all claim that they too need to pursue nuclear research and development to the point of having nuclear weapons options and, as a further slap in Washington's face and Tel Aviv's will point to Iran's 'peaceful' nuclear program and Israel's undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal to help justify their own 'civil' nuclear activities," the report said.
The report said Israel's role was crucial to any U.S. response to a nuclear Iran. The think tank recommended that the United States and its allies prior to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in May 2005 persuade Israel to take unilateral steps meant to dampen the prospect of a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East.
"Israel should announce how much weapons usable material it has produced and that it will unilaterally mothball but not yet dismantle Dimona, and place the reactor's mothballing under IAEA monitoring," the report said. "At the same time, Israel should announce that it will dismantle Dimona and place the special nuclear material it has produced in 'escrow' in Israel with a third trusted declared nuclear state, e.g., the U.S."
"It should make clear, however, that Israel will only take this additional step when at least two of three Middle Eastern nations Algeria, Egypt or Iran follow Israel's lead by mothballing their own declared nuclear facilities that are capable of producing at least one bomb's worth of weapons usable material in one to three years," the report said.
Syria's President Bashir al-Asad is in secret negotiations with Iran to secure a safe haven for a group of Iraqi nuclear scientists who were sent to Damascus before last year's war to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
Western intelligence officials believe that President Asad is desperate to get the Iraqi scientists out of his country before their presence prompts America to target Syria as part of the war on terrorism.
The issue of moving the Iraqi scientists to Iran was raised when President Asad made a visit to Teheran in July. Intelligence officials understand that the Iranians have still to respond to the Syrian leader's request.
A group of about 12 middle-ranking Iraqi nuclear technicians and their families were transported to Syria before the collapse of Saddam's regime. The transfer was arranged under a combined operation by Saddam's now defunct Special Security Organisation and Syrian Military Security, which is headed by Arif Shawqat, the Syrian president's brother-in-law.
The Iraqis, who brought with them CDs crammed with research data on Saddam's nuclear programme, were given new identities, including Syrian citizenship papers and falsified birth, education and health certificates. Since then they have been hidden away at a secret Syrian military installation where they have been conducting research on behalf of their hosts.
Growing political concern in Washington about Syria's undeclared weapons of mass destruction programmes, however, has prompted President Asad to reconsider harbouring the Iraqis.
American intelligence officials are concerned that Syria is secretly working on a number of WMD programmes.
They have also uncovered evidence that Damascus has acquired a number of gas centrifuges - probably from North Korea - that can be used to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.
Relations between Washington and Damascus have been strained since last year's war in Iraq, with American commanders accusing the Syrians of allowing foreign fighters to cross the border into Iraq, where they carry out terrorist attacks against coalition forces.
"The Syrians are playing a very dangerous game," a senior Western intelligence official told The Sunday Telegraph.
"The Americans already have them in their sights because they are doing next to nothing to stop foreign fighters entering Iraq. If Washington finds concrete evidence that Syria is engaged in an illegal WMD programme then it will quickly find itself targeted as part of the war on terror."
Under the terms of the deal President Asad offered the Iranians, the Iraqi scientists and their families would be transferred to Teheran together with a small amount of essential materials. The Iraqi team would then assist Iranian scientists to develop a nuclear weapon.
Apart from paying the relocation expenses, President Asad also wants the Iranians to agree to share the results of their atomic weapons research with Damascus.
The Syrian offer comes at a time when Iran is under close scrutiny from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is investigating claims that Iran is maintaining a secret nuclear bomb programme.
The Iranians, who possess one of the world's largest oil reserves, insist that their nuclear programme is aimed solely at developing nuclear energy. Last week relations between Teheran and the IAEA deteriorated further after the Iranians reneged on a commitment to suspend their nuclear programme.
In a move that will raise suspicions in Washington that Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb, Teheran announced that it was to press ahead with plans to enrich 37 tons of uranium into the gas needed to turn the radioactive element into nuclear fuel. Nuclear experts estimate that when the process is complete the Iranians will have enough enriched uranium for five nuclear bombs.
The IAEA responded by passing a resolution setting a November 25 deadline for Iran to clear up suspicions over its nuclear activities or risk having the issue referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions. The resolution also demanded that Iran halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be used for both energy and weapons purposes.
In a further gesture of defiance, Ali Shamkhani, the Iranian defence minister, announced that the Iranian army has taken delivery of a new "strategic missile".
The missile, unnamed for security reasons, was successfully tested last week, Shamkhani was quoted as saying by state television. It was unclear if the weapon in question was the Shahab-3 medium-range missile, acquired by the Revolutionary Guards in July last year. An improved version was successfully tested in August.
The Shahab-3 is based on a North Korean design and is thought to be capable of carrying a one-ton warhead at least 800 miles, which puts Israel well within its range.
The Iranians yesterday also accused America of "lawless militarism" in Iraq and called Israel the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East. "The attack against Iraq was illegal," Kamal Kharrazi, Iran's foreign minister told the UN General Assembly. He thanked Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, for stating the same in a television interview last week.
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