Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - September 27, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 09/26/2004 9:13:53 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.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - A rare pro-democracy protest in Tehran gained momentum late on Sunday with hundreds of cars pouring onto the streets, blaring horns and provoking an appearance from hardline vigilantes, witnesses said.
Local residents said Persian-language television channels from the United States had been broadcasting callers throughout the day who had exhorted Iranians to turn out for demonstrations.
Two hundred riot police were drafted into central Tehran earlier in the day when more than 2,000 people started milling round the streets after a minor protest inspired by the U.S.-based channels, witnesses said.
"There have been callers from all over the place, even from places like Montreal, telling people to go out onto the streets," said one with access to satellite television.
Spontaneous protests demanding greater social freedoms are rare in the Islamic Republic.
A Reuters witness saw dozens of cars near Valiasr Avenue, the tree-lined street that cuts the city north to south, repeatedly honking their horns. Another witness on a footbridge further down Valiasr saw more than 300 cars.
A group of volunteer militiamen arrived on motorbikes but there was no sign of any fighting. Hardline vigilantes crushed demonstrations by student activists last summer.
Eyewitnesses saw a further 300 cars driving up and down Jordan Boulevard, a boutique-lined street popular with the young and wealthy. The occupants made victory signs through the windows and blared their horns.
Earlier in the day, motorists tooted horns in support of what they perceived as a demonstration. A witness said scores of people had been chanting "freedom," clapping and handing out pastries.
He said police had used their batons to push people from the scene but added there had been no fighting.
The ILNA labor news agency labeled the protesters monarchists, loyal to the shah toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Some of the crowd said they had turned out because of a call by the mystic Ahura Pirouz Khalegi Yazdi, who has predicted the fall of Iran's government on Oct. 1. He broadcasts on a California-based channel and promised to charter aircraft to bring home the Iranian diaspora from the United States.
TEHRAN, Sept 26 (AFP) - Iranian police broke up a demonstration calling for increased freedoms outside Tehran university on Sunday, the student agency ISNA and witnesses reported.
"People gathered around 4.30 pm (1200 GMT) in front of Tehran university's main entrance shouting slogans and handing out flowers and sweets," the news agency said.
"These people are obviously under the influence of the Iranian opposition based abroad," added the report, in an apparent reference to anti-regime satellite television channels broadcast into Iran.
Witnesses confirmed that hundreds of people had gathered in front of the university shouting pro-freedom slogans.
The report said the gathering was broken up by police, but there was no suggestion that any violent clashes took place.
An AFP reporter who toured the area around the university later in the evening reported heavy traffic but no sign of any fresh gatherings.
Sporadic and often violent clashes rocked, this evening, several areas of the Iranian Capital and some of the main provincial cities, as, few thousands of residents gathered to celebrate the "Mehr ritual" inherited from Iran's ancient legacy and qualified by the Islamist clerics as "Pagan".
The demonstrators defied the official injunctions by dancing, chanting and shouting slogans against the Islamic regime, its Islamist ideology and called for the freedom of Iran.
Regime's special troops, composed by hundreds of foreign mercenaries, moved on the crowd in front of Tehran University, Vali-e-Asr, Enghelab and Azadi squares by beating with heavy clubs and firing tear gas and plastic bullets. Tens have been reported as injured and arrested.
Many angry demonstrators, especially young, retaliated to the regime forces' brutality by throwing pieces of stones and hand made incendiary devices wounding several militiamen and damaging patrol cars and official buildings.
Heavy popularly initiated traffic jams created more problems for the security forces to deploy more personnel.
Reports from cities, such as, Hamadan, Esfahan and Shiraz are also concordant with news from the Capital.
Sporadic demos and clashes are still going on in several areas of the capital by the start of the night and slogans are heard shouted from roofs.
These gathering have taken place following calls made by a controversial individual, named Ahura (Fatollah) Yazdi and living in the US, who has reached many Iranians in the last months via his spiritual programs broadcasted by a satellite TV. Iranians who have been deceived by the traditional opposition and the regime's so-called reformists seems to be turning toward anyone who can enlighten hope of better future in them.
Yazdi's under some sharp criticisms for some aspects of his past and some astonishing claims, such as, it was him who advised the late Ronald Reagan and helped him in order to bring down the former Soviet Union. He claims publicly that his mission in Soviet Union was much easier as the Russians were familiar with the book of Nostradamus and that the 14th century psychic had predicted Yazdi's arise.
Most Iranian opponents believe that Yazdi's claims and his impossible promises, such as of a very future return to Iran in less than 5 days, are very unproductive and that they'll contribute more to the Iranians increasing deception while undermining a real program targeting the overthrown of the Islamic regime.
Liberate Iran and Syria BTTT
Iran seeks Indian radar to protect N-facilities
|TEHRAN (Agencies)- Iran is negotiating with India to buy advanced radar system to protect its nuclear weapons facilities.
The Untied States is closely monitoring the potential deal.
Industry sources on Saturday said New Delhi has been considering an Iranian request for an upgraded Western- origin radar systems.
They said the systems are designed for fire control and surveillance of anti-aircraft batteries.
Iran is seeking an unspecified number of Upgraded Support Fledermaus radar systems from the Indian state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd, or BEL. The deal could reach $ 70 million and mark the first major defence agreement between New Delhi and Tehran since they signed a defence cooperation pact in 2002.
The government in New Delhi has been examining the Iranian request for about a year now. Tehran has relayed two separate requests for the upgraded radar systems.
Industry sources said New Delhi has been under pressure form the United States not to sell the radars to Iran. The United States has determined that the request is part of Irans military effort to protect its nuclear weapons facilities.
Iran already employs Soviet-origin anti-aircraft systems around the Bushehr nuclear reactor. It has already been a client of BEL in 2001, the Indian company sold Teheran components for sonar systems deployed by the Iranian navy.
The 2002 defence cooperation pact between New Delhi and Teheran was meant to pave the way for Indian upgrades and maintenance of Irans navy.
The Upgraded Super Fledermaus is a monopulse radar used in 35-mm air defence batteries and designed to detect low-flying objects, such as unmanned air vehicles. The digital system contains a but-in simulator as well as a signal jammer.
BEL has confirmed Irans request for the upgraded radar. Executives said Iran has sought the same fire control and surveillance radar that the company upgraded for the Indian Army in 2001.
The Super Fledermaus was acquired in the early 1980s and produced by BEL under licence from the radars designer Ericsson Radar Electronics.
IRAN ARMY TAKES DELIVERY OF NEW MISSILE: The Iranian army has taken delivery of a new strategic missile, Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani was reported to have said Saturday.
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, of which 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-tonne warhead at least 1,300 kilometres, well within range of Israel.
Steady progress made by Irans ballistic missile programme is a source of concern to the international community, adding to worries about the countrys nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is peaceful.
Iran says the Shahab-3 is simply a deterrent, while Israel charges that the Islamic state could have a nuclear warhead by 2007, leading to speculation that Israel may launch a preemptive strike against Irans nuclear facilities.
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is exploring several steps aimed at containing Tehran's growing influence in Iraq, according to U.S. officials, who say a split between the Pentagon and the State Department has paralyzed the administration's ability to craft a long-term policy on Iran for three years.
As one measure, the United States has earmarked $40 million to help Iraq's political parties mobilize -- and, subtly, to counter Iran's support for its allies in an emerging race to influence the outcome, U.S. officials said.
With the election in Iraq four months away, the administration has grown increasingly alarmed about the resources Tehran is pouring into Iraq's already well-organized Shiite religious parties, which give them an edge over struggling moderate and nonsectarian parties, the officials said.
Over the past year, Iran has provided tens of millions of dollars and other material support to a range of Iraqi parties, including the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Islamic Dawa Party and rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, U.S. officials say. The U.S. funds will in theory be available to all Iraqi parties, although the U.S. goal is to bolster the prospects of secular groups -- on the premise that Iranian-backed parties are unlikely to turn to America for training or money, U.S. officials said.
In another diplomatic move aimed partly at Iran, the United States has been promoting a plan for a conference that would bring the United States together with Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, plus representatives of the European Union, the Group of Eight industrialized nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Secretary of State Colin Powell lobbied for the conference at the United Nations last week, knowing it would provide a setting in which he and Iran's foreign minister would participate, U.S. officials said. The meeting is tentatively planned for mid-November, after the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Egypt.
"It's not an attempt to open a channel to Iran. It's a way to talk about how all Iraq's neighbors and special friends and others can help the Iraqi government, and that includes Iran," said a senior State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing diplomacy.
The two moves follow a decision by the administration's top foreign policy team this summer to initiate steps to prevent Iran from gaining a major behind-the-scenes role in shaping the Iraqi government due to be elected in January, U.S. officials said. But they also reflect U.S. recognition that attempts to keep Iran out of Iraq, given strong religious, geographic and ethnic ties dating back centuries, are likely to fail and could even backfire, U.S. officials said.
The measures are an attempt to fill a policy vacuum created by divisive debates within the administration -- mainly between the Defense and State departments. The internal splits have prevented agreement on a formal presidential directive on Iran that would clarify the administration's overall, long-term approach, U.S. officials said.
The initial draft of the directive called for a carrot-and-stick combination of pressure and containment, with the prospect of dialogue on some issues of mutual concern, including Iraq and Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials familiar with the document. But some Pentagon policymakers wanted to insert tougher language calling for a change in Tehran's government, the sources said.
The deadlock has left Washington with limited choices in developing a broader strategy and in trying to contain or punish Iran if it goes ahead with uranium enrichment in defiance of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Nothing has been ruled out.
There is going to be another crisis in the Middle East next year and its name is Iran -- to be precise, Iran's nuclear program and its defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Australia will have a small but significant role in all this. Australia is a permanent member of the IAEA's board and has backed US efforts to get Iran to end a program designed to produce nuclear weapons.
Henry Kissinger once observed that the key to understanding foreign affairs is to try to grasp all the linkages. Iran is at the centre of a vortex of evil and dangerous linkages that spell strategic crisis for Washington. The US is bogged down in Iraq and the last thing it wants, or could afford, is a new military confrontation in the Middle East. But the situation is moving to crisis.
Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the ayatollahs have presided over a terrorist state. Their first notable international action was to take hostage the personnel of the US embassy.
Since then they have sponsored a range of terrorist groups, most notably Hezbollah. A few months ago US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told me that Hezbollah, not al-Qa'ida, was "the A-team" of international terrorism. It was Hezbollah that murdered 243 US marines in Lebanon in 1983 with a truck bomb. It was Hezbollah that contributed to the spread of the suicide bomb as a terrorist technique.
Iran, like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, had a substantial relationship with al-Qa'ida. It is a complete furphy to suggest that recent US inquiries have found no link between Iraq and al-Qa'ida. Rather, they've found no operational link between Iraq and the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.
But as former US counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke, who has become a fierce Bush critic, acknowledges, both Iraq and Iran engaged in a degree of sponsorship of al-Qa'ida. More significantly, Iran is believed still to host some al-Qa'ida personnel.
Iran has been an active sponsor of Shia and other terrorism in Iraq directed against the Americans and the interim Iraqi Government led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. It has recently become active in reviving Palestinian terrorism.
But the proximate cause of crisis is Iran's nuclear weapons program. Iran is pursuing long-range ballistic missiles. It is also pursuing plutonium through a heavy-water nuclear reactor it is trying to build, as well as highly enriched uranium through centrifuges.
IAEA inspectors have discovered that Iran has lied about a great deal of its nuclear program. It has, for example, imported technology for centrifuges that yield weapons grade uranium, whereas it had told the IAEA that it had imported technology only for simpler centrifuges.
It has tried to get Russia to build it a reactor but has baulked at Russia's sensible requirement that spent fuel, which could be diverted for weapons, be exported back to Russia. As a result it is determined to produce the entire nuclear fuel cycle as part of an indigenous program.
Iran is one of the most comprehensively oil-soaked nations in the world. It is inconceivable that it would make a serious investment in nuclear electricity.
For nearly 12 months the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany have formed a pitiful European group and have tried to convince Iran, by "constructive engagement", to abandon its nuclear weapons program. They have been working in tandem with the IAEA, which has instructed Iran to stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Iran responded this week by announcing it was resuming the production of uranium gas for enrichment.
Uranium enrichment is a more difficult process to police than plutonium production through a heavy-water reactor. This is because uranium enrichment can take place with widely dispersed centrifuges, which are hard to detect. But uranium enrichment and plutonium production both produce material that can be used in nuclear weapons.
At the same time as Tehran has defied the IAEA, it has wiped out hopes for democracy. At elections earlier this year the Guardians' Council ruled ineligible 2400 candidates, including nearly 100 sitting members of the Majlis, or parliament.
At the IAEA, the US wanted a trigger in the resolution such that if Iran did not comply, the matter would automatically be referred to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
Tehran was effective in lobbying Third World members of the IAEA board to stymie the trigger. Australia, with Japan, Canada and some others, supported the US. As usual, the dismal Europeans went to water; no trigger was included. This is not a trigger for automatic sanctions, much less war, but merely for referring the matter to the Security Council.
What the whole process demonstrates is the ongoing collapse of the multilateral system. Even the defiance of the IAEA and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by one of the worst rogue states in the world -- a long-time, proven sponsor of terrorism -- produces nothing beyond impotent hand-wringing.
US consideration of military options is very detailed and advanced. One US general has argued that five B-2 bombers could destroy Iran's Bushehr reactor and its facilities at Natanz, as well as other suspected centrifuge facilities.
It would be a more difficult operation for Israel to carry out, and Israel would be unlikely to do it without US approval. Some US policy-makers are attracted to the deniability that an Israeli operation would give them.
Of the three broad military options -- covert operations, air strikes or a conventional ground campaign, only air strikes are considered plausible. Of course, the political fallout would be immense and even if the strike were successful, it would delay rather than destroy the program.
The better option is for the UN to act decisively, with comprehensive sanctions if necessary. But post-Iraq, the lead on this has been taken by Europe, and so far it has led precisely nowhere.
Posted Sunday, September 26, 2004
TEHRAN, 26 Sept. (IPS) Irans embattled President Mohammad Khatami reported sine die an official visit to Turkey, scheduled for Tuesday 28 September 2004, the governments spokesman Abollah Ramezanzadeh announced Sunday at the end of cabinets meeting.
The decision was taken after the conservatives-controlled Majles, or parliament, passed a controversial bill last week imposing on the government to get its approbation before signing any major deal with foreign firms, including contracts passed before the decision, targeting above all two contracts passed earlier with Turkish companies.
But as the bill did not received enough votes in its initial form, it was modified and limited to the agreements signed with the Turkish-Austrian Tepe Akfen-Vie (TAV) consortium that won all handling services at the half-finished Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) in the one hand and Irans second mobile telephone contractor on the other, the semi-independent Students news agency ISNA reported.
IKIA was shut down to traffic by the Armed Forces hours only after if was officially inaugurated two months ago, on the pretext that the involvement of a foreign firm in the handling of services at the airport, including baggage, restaurants, coffee shops and duty free caused security risks for the nation.
As for Turkcell, Turkeys largest independent telephone company, it was said that the firm had also deals with Israel, a nation that the Islamic Republic denies existence.
However, analysts said the bill, passed on the eve of the Presidents trip to Ankara, was a major blow to the very person and position of the powerless Khatami, who had described the move as unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic and revolution, illegal and in total contradiction of the Constitution.
This last string attached by the Majles to the government follows a series of earlier limitations, some of them humiliating, imposed by conservative lawmakers on the government and very person of Hojjatoleslam Khatami, whos mandate would finish in eight months.
Not only the bill is against the Constitution of the Islamic Republic that forbids the interference of one of the regimes three powers in the affairs of another one, but it would also place under question the credibility of the government and the president when talking to the world, a visibly bitter and angry Khatami told reporters, adding, "It will paralyse the work of the government. It will discourage foreigners from investing in Iran. This will cost the country billions of dollars," President Khatami warned last week.
Mr. Ramezanzadeh explained that since it was not clear what the Majles would decide concerning the contracts with the two Turkish companies, therefore it was decided to report the Presidents visit to Ankara, where he would have to defend the validity of the contracts.
The visit has been postponed until we reach an agreement inside Iran on these contracts, so that then we can agree with the outside world" Mr. Ramazanzadeh told the French news agency AFP.
According to Mr. Qolamreza Tajgardoun, the Deputy Head of Irans Planning and Management Organisation, in case the agreement with Turkcell is cancelled, Iran would have to pay between 300 to 400 billion Toumans (one US Dollar is changed at the free (black) market more than 800 Toumans) in damages to the Turkish firm and as far as TAV is concerned, the damages to be paid are much, much more.
Turkcell was awarded the contract in a tender in February to become -- under the name Irancell -- Iran's second mobile phone operator. The deal is conditional on the payment of a 300-million-euro (366-million-dollar) licence fee.
The company would be expected to invest up to three billion dollars in the project, which would rank among the largest foreign investments in Iran since the Islamic revolution 25 years ago.
But in a conciliatory gesture, Mr. Qolamali Haddad Adel, the Speaker of the Majles said urging the government to get the approbation of lawmakers before signing agreements with foreign companies does not mean that contracts passed with Turkey are annulled.
In his view, it is normal that lawmakers be sensible to contracts that involve the regimes security, like communications and aerial transportation, a direct reference to the two deals signed with the Turkish firms.
And to economists and experts who warned that the decision of the Majles would reduce considerably the already very low amount of foreign investments in Iran, estimated at less than ten US Billion dollars except for investments in oil and gas sectors, the Speaker rebuked them, saying investors are attracted to country where corruption is less and have a better financial regulations.
But analysts observed that in this case, no investor should ever chose the Islamic Republic, for it has one of the worlds highest corruption, mostly at the highest level of the clerical-led Administration coupled with a heavily centralised, state-controlled economy.
ENDS MAJLES CABINET 26904
Putin: Iran doesn't need nukes
Sep 26, 2004, 21:24
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Putin is a bloodsucker - a disgraceful liar. The Russians supply the Iranian government with mass financial, military, political support. Under Putin's administration the Russians have helped the Iranian government build their nuclear site in Bushehr and are currently helping the Iranian government build their second site. Russia and Putin are STRONG supporters of the Islamic Republic. A pro-US, democratic Iran is a virtual nightmare for Putin's Russia.
Putin's 'war on terror' is strictly regulated to the chechnyans, they are arming America's enemies to the teeth. Putin and Russia are one of the strongest enemies of a free, pro-US, democratic Iran and one of the strongest friends to the Islamic Republic.
Iran, accused and defiant
From The Economist Global Agenda
Iran insists its nuclear programmes are for civilian use only. But its behaviour is arousing suspicionnot only in America, but increasingly in friendlier European countries and at the International Atomic Energy Agency. A diplomatic solution is possible, but it remains far off
The hawks' verdict
"WE HAVE made our choice: yes to peaceful nuclear technology and no to nuclear weapons," said Iran's president, Muhammad Khatami, this week. But few are convinced. Among the doubters are Britain, France and Germany, the European trio that last October thought they had the makings of a face-saving deal to head off Iran's nuclear ambitions. Since then, inspectors have turned up more evidence of past wrongdoing, and Iran has turned more belligerent.
On Saturday September 18th, the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, called for a full accounting of Iran's nuclear programme when it meets next, in November. This followed a critical report by Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEAs head, circulated ahead of the meeting. The report scolded Iran for producing experimental amounts of uranium hexafluoride gas (a step in enriching uranium for bombs) and revoking an agreement to stop making centrifuge components (used to separate the bomb-grade uranium from the gas). The report also reprimanded Iran for not divulging more about a second, secret centrifuge programme that came to light earlier this year. And inspectors have still not received a satisfactory explanation for some traces of enriched uranium found at different sites in Iran.
Iranian officials, miffed that the IAEA is still on their case, suggest that they may end co-operation with the agency. Iran's parliamentpacked with hardliners since thousands of reformists were prevented from standing in Februarys electionsrefuses to ratify an agreement for intrusive inspections. And Iran could drop out altogether from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, say the officials, if the IAEA board sends its case to the UN Security Council, and sanctions follow.
The United States has been pressing for referral to the Security Council for more than a year, ever since inspectors, acting on a tip-off from an exiled opposition group, uncovered an almost 20-year trail of covert nuclear research. Under last October's deal with the European three, Iran had agreed temporarily to suspend all uranium-enrichment-related activity while inspections continued; the hope was that, with the encouragement of trade in other, less dangerous technologies, the suspension could be turned into a ban.
But Iran has steadily back-tracked. This week, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation revealed that work was already under way to convert 37 tonnes of natural uranium ore into uranium hexafluorideenough for several bombs, if diverted to military use. The Americans see Irans continued intransigence as proof that it harbours weapons ambitions.
Unless Iran has a change of heart, its uranium-related activity and its continued failure to fill in some of the gaps in its nuclear story seem likely to lead to a showdown at the IAEA in November. The one hope, says Gary Samore of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, is that, despite its bravado, Iran still seems keen to avoid being reported to the Security Council. Yet it also seems determined to hang on to a nuclear option. Can diplomacy alone press it to choose?
Not if Iran assumes it can win in November. The regime has been buoyed by high oil prices, and it is feeling a certain bravado since sweeping the rigged February elections. The decline of Irans reformists makes the conservative leadership less susceptible to international pressure. It also knows that some IAEA members, notably Brazil and South Africa, are loth to see it pressed too hard over the enrichment suspension, since their nuclear industries rely on similar technologies. If inspectors come up with no additional proof of wrongdoing, if Iran promises to put off actual enrichment for the time being and, especially, if there is also a change of administration in America, it may hope to avoid harsh censure.
Yet Iran is exhausting the patience of even the friendlier European governments. Britain and France have told Iran privately that it must fulfil its obligations to the IAEA, and also its original promise of a full suspension of enrichment-related activity. Germany has been less staunch, worrying more than the others that Iran may make good on its threat to leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But, ultimately, it agrees with its European partners that Iran must toe the line. An Iran that went nuclear despite repeated European overtures would make a mockery of European claims to be defter at diplomacy than heavy-handed America.
And in any case, America and Europe are, for once, reading from the same page. The Europeans are keener on offering incentives and the Americans readier to threaten punishment. But they share the same goal, and the two strategies, far from being mutually exclusive, may be mutually reinforcing. Though Americans may sometimes become frustrated with European hesitation to press Iran harder, by and large the two sides are trying harder to work together than they did with Irans neighbour, Iraq. The Europeans have consulted repeatedly with America as they have made their diplomatic overtures. As Michael Levi, a non-proliferation expert, notes, Good cop, bad cop only works when the good cop and the bad cop leave the room and talk strategy together.
If Europe is the good cop and America the bad cop, Israel may be the vigilante. Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported this week that Israel is planning to buy 500 bunker-buster bombs from America, capable of penetrating six feet of concrete and destroying underground facilities. Israel and America both insist that there is no explicit threat to destroy Irans nuclear plants (as Israel did in Iraq in 1981), but the timing of the purchase does not look like coincidence.
What if promises and threats combined fail to move Iran? If it drops out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, this might look like an admission of guilt and make it easier for America to move the issue to the Security Council. But what happens then is anybodys guess. Russia, which holds a veto on the council, has called on Iran to do as the IAEA asks. But it has also long helped Iran with nuclear programmes it takes to be civilian, and may thus be unwilling to vote for sanctions. The newly tough European line could still open a window for diplomacy in the next couple of months. But it is unlikely to stay open long.
September 27, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
Have nations a right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to acquire ostensibly civilian nuclear technology if it brings them within weeks of a bomb? Iran -- backed by Brazil, South Africa, Germany, the International Atomic Energy Agency's Mohammed El Baradei and, recently, John Edwards -- says yes.
President Khatami was succinct when he reiterated Iran's position last week: "We clearly demand that our right to [uranium] enrichment be recognized by the international community because it is our legal right and in accordance with the NPT. If it does so, it will open the way for greater cooperation."
Call it a legal loophole or, as Iranian officials insist, an inalienable right, the only way either Iran or the supporters of this view can imagine getting Iranians to stop their nuclear brinkmanship is to sit down with them, treat them as equals, and cut a deal that addresses their concerns. Iran wants a larger voice to set oil prices (Iran's oil minister last week insisted that Iran deserved to chair OPEC). Iran also has numerous security and cultural concerns about how Iraq will be ruled and even clearer economic requirements that its neighbors increase investment in Iran. All of these concerns, and presumably more, would have to be addressed.
What restraints would Iran offer in return on it nuclear program? If its outbursts of the last few weeks are any indication, not much. As Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said earlier this month, "Iran will not accept any obligation regarding the suspension of uranium enrichment." Moreover, if the U.N. mistakenly tried to impose such an obligation with sanctions, Iran, he insisted, would withdraw from the NPT. "No international body," he explained, "can force Iran" legally to drop its "peaceful" nuclear activities. Instead, Iran might choose voluntarily to suspend such efforts, but would only do so if it retained its right and ability to resume these activities. Any suspension could only come after direct talks with those nations most worried about its nuclear activities. Whatever deal Tehran might agree to, then, Iran would retain its option to make bombs.
What should we do? First, recognize that Iran is already too close to making bombs for us ever to rest easy. It would be nice if we could precision-bomb or appease Iran out of its nuclear capabilities but, short of overthrowing the regime, neither is likely to produce lasting results. Iran has too much invested and hidden and too many scientists salted away for mere bombing or bribing to cap their nuclear ambitions.
Second, and both despite and because of this, we must challenge Iran's arguments about the NPT. If we don't, even worse awaits us. The Saudis are interested in importing nuclear arms from China or Pakistan. Syria has begun serious nuclear research. Iraq retains most of its nuclear scientists. Egypt is planning to build reactors to desalinate and Algeria has just upgraded a very large research reactor in a remote location, surrounding it with air defenses. If we don't want them to follow in Iran's footsteps, we will have to tackle what we've avoided for decades -- clarifying which activities are protected under the NPT and which ones are too close to bomb-making to be regarded as being peaceful.
Luckily, the NPT recommends an answer. Its first two articles prohibit nuclear weapons states that are signatories from helping other states acquire the bomb directly or indirectly and bans states that lack these weapons from trying to acquire them. Nuclear safeguards, which non-weapons states must submit to under the treaty, are supposed to prevent "the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons." This, and the NPT's other prohibitions, are important since the "inalienable right" of all treaty members to develop nuclear energy for "peaceful" purposes must be exercised "in conformity" with them. This more than suggests that nuclear activities that can be quickly diverted to make bombs -- such as Iran's enrichment and reprocessing capabilities -- are activities that the treaty meant to be kept at bay.
Nor should they be seen as being peaceful on some economic ground. If Iran solicited proposals from international electrical power contractors to build it power-generating capacity, all of the non-nuclear bids would have come in at a fraction of the cost of the nuclear infrastructure Iran is now building. Nearly all of these bids could secure legitimate, private financing -- something Iran's nuclear efforts clearly could not.
This suggests a set of market tests for "peacefulness." These might not be foolproof, but would be better than what we now have -- effectively nothing. Yes, they'd flag our own nuclear subsidies (Export-Import Bank loans for reactor sales to China, government subsidized nuclear insurance, reactor construction loan guarantee proposals, federal nuclear commercialization projects etc.). They also would spotlight uneconomical subsidized projects in friendly countries including South Africa, Japan, India and Pakistan. Still, adopting such tests would enjoy broad support (from Reagan conservatives to anticorporatist liberals) and be neutral. As the NPT is to be formally reviewed in May, the best time to start raising these points is now.
Finally, the U.S. and its allies should build on recent European proposals to enforce the NPT. These should specify that countries that reject inspections or withdraw from the NPT (as Iran has threatened) without first addressing infractions must surrender or dismantle their nuclear capabilities to come back into compliance.
They also should stipulate that nations which the IAEA cannot find to be in full compliance should no longer receive nuclear assistance from others until the IAEA Board of Governors unanimously gives them a clean bill of health. This would include Russia's help to complete the power reactor at Busheir, which has been Iran's "peaceful" justification for its other nuclear activities. France is already backing these rules. Presumably, Europe can too along with the U.S., and its allies. If these nations are unified, Russia should have difficulty resisting, isolating China. A U.N. resolution, in short, may be possible.
All this will be difficult to pull off. If we are serious about isolating Iran, though, we may no longer have a choice. The alternative, after all, is listening to Iran dictate what the rules mean.
Mr. Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and co-editor of "Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions" (U.S. Army War College, 2004). ...
John Kerry's latest zigzag on Iraq leaves a sharp difference between him and George W. Bush on that issue. At New York University on September 20, Kerry said, "We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure." There is an obvious tension between this and Kerry's statement August 9 that, knowing what he knows today, he would have voted again to authorize military action in Iraq and his statement last December 16 that "those who doubt that we are safer with [Saddam Hussein's] capture don't have the judgment to be president." Last week he criticized Bush's actions in tones as scathing as those he used when he was competing with Howard Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire.
What would he do differently in the future? Three of his four proposals are pretty much what is being done now--training Iraqi security forces, rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, holding elections in January. The other, bringing in more allies, is unrealistic: The same day Kerry spoke, Jacques Chirac said, in a language Kerry understands, "La politique française a l'egard de l'Irak n'a pas change et ne changera pas" (French policy with regard to Iraq has not changed and will not change). But the reason Kerry wants to make Iraq "the world's responsibility" is to "get the job done and bring our troops home," starting next summer and ending "within the next four years." The bottom line: withdrawal.
Kerry last spring said his goal was a "stable" Iraqi government. Bush at the United Nations September 21 restated his goal of a "democratic Iraq" and asserted that "the proper response to difficulty is not to retreat, it is to prevail." Kerry hopes that the continuing violence in Iraq will move voters to his side. Bush hopes that voters'current feelings--the new NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll shows a 55 to 40 percent majority supporting the military action to remove Saddam Hussein--will keep more voters with him.
But Iraq is not the only nation that will pose problems for whoever is elected in November. In January 2002, Bush identified Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil" and pledged that "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." In Iraq, a regime capable of developing weapons of mass destruction and willing to use them has been removed. But within the next four years it seems likely that the mullahs of Iran and Kim Jong Il in North Korea will have nuclear weapons; North Korea probably already has them.
No bargain. On Iran, Bush seems to have chosen the diplomatic approach favored by the State Department over the approach, similar to Ronald Reagan's in Eastern Europe, of encouraging overt and covert efforts to overthrow the mullahs. But if, as seems likely, the diplomatic efforts of Britain, France, and Germany fail to get Iran to agree to forswear nuclear weapons, Bush may take the second approach. Kerry seems unlikely to do so. Last December he called for a "nonconfrontational" policy toward Iran. John Edwards, in an August interview with the Washington Post, called for a "grand bargain" to provide fuel for Iran's nuclear power plants in return for Iran's promise to turn over nuclear material that could be used to make bombs. But the efforts of Britain, France, and Germany to broker some such deal have not been fruitful. This sounds very much like Bill Clinton's 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea, which North Korea cheated on.
Kerry seems to favor another such agreement with Kim Jong Il. He has criticized Bush for refusing to negotiate directly with North Korea. Bush has insisted on bringing neighboring South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan into the talks, on the theory that they have greater leverage to gain concessions.
Iran and North Korea are difficult issues. Negotiations seem unlikely to succeed, and regime change by military action seems unfeasible. But there is a third possibility: peaceful regime change. We saw it happen, and we did things to encourage it, in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. We know that the mullahs and Kim Jong Il are widely unpopular. At the debate this Thursday, Bush and Kerry will surely be asked about Iraq. Maybe someone will ask them what they would do to encourage peaceful regime change in Iran and North Korea.
United Press International
Maj. Gen. Rahim Safawi, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, said Monday his country is ready to confront U.S. pressure, including military.
In an interview with the London-based Saudi daily al-Hayat, monitored in Beirut, Safawi said although the United States is deeply involved in Iraq, it is expected to increase its political and diplomatic pressure on Iran in the next two months.
"We advise the Americans and the Europeans to beware of Iran regional weight and capacity and to recognize its rights and importance in the region," Safawi said.
"We are ready to confront any pressures against us, be they political, economic and even military."
He said the U.S. military presence in Iraq has destabilized the entire Middle East.
"The security of the Middle East should be achieved by the countries of the region ... The only way out of this is for the U.S. occupation forces to withdraw from Iraq and the whole region," Safawi added.
He reiterated his country's right to possess nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, saying, Iran will not acquire this technology for military purposes.
People took to the streets of the capital, Tehran, and other cities on Sunday after Ahura Pirouz Khaleghi Yazdi urged protests across Iran.
The exile has predicted Iran's Islamic government will fall on 1 October.
Nobody had heard of Mr Yazdi until a few months ago when he set up a satellite channel in California to try to overthrow the Iranian government.
Since then he has become a hot topic of conversation both among disaffected Iranians and exiled opposition groups.
For several weeks he has been declaring that he intends to return to Iran on 1 October to end the rule of Islamic clerics.
He has called on the Iranian diaspora to accompany him in his so-called liberation flight and has urged his supporters inside the country to stage protests.
He is advocating peaceful means and civil disobedience.
Mr Yazdi, who seems to be about 50, apparently left Iran when he was a child - and his command of the Persian language is poor.
The pro-government press in Tehran has described him as insane.
His simplistic views about overthrowing the Islamic government singlehandedly have also angered serious exile opposition leaders who have labelled him a demagogue.
But analysts say the fact that thousands of people heeded his call and took to the streets on Sunday evening proves that Iranians are desperate for change.
The Yazdi phenomenon also shows how US-based opposition satellite TV stations are becoming an important means of putting pressure on the Iranian government.
Exile call prompts Iran protests
By Sadeq Saba
BBC regional analyst
In Iran, We Have No Good Choices
Cincinnati Post, online
Sept. 27, 2004
A ten-year-old had awakened his parents in horror, telling them he had been having an "illegal dream." He had been dreaming that he was at the seaside with some men and women who were kissing, and he did not know what to do. Azar Nafisi, "Reading Lolita in Tehran"
WASHINGTON -- What the young Iranian should have done to please the regime running the Islamic Republic of Iran is obey the prison rules in Vladimir Nabokov's novel "Invitation to a Beheading": "It is desirable that the inmate should not have dreams at all."
Nafisi, who left Iran in 1997 and now teaches at Johns Hopkins, says, "What differentiated this revolution from the other totalitarian revolutions of the 20th century was that it came in the name of the past." In the name, that is, of a lost religious purity and rigor.
Iran is not a mere literary dystopia. It is perhaps the biggest problem on the horizon of the next U.S. president because it is moving toward development of nuclear weapons, concerning which the Bush administration has two factions. One favors regime change, the other favors negotiations. There is no plausible path to achieving the former and no reason to expect the latter to be productive.
Iran lives in a dangerous neighborhood, near four nuclear powers -- Russia, India, Pakistan and almost certainly Israel -- and the large military presence of another, the infidel United States. Iran has seen how the pursuit of nuclear weapons allows the ramshackle regime of a tin-pot country like North Korea to rivet the world's attention. Iran knows that if Saddam Hussein had acquired such weapons, he would still be in power -- and in Kuwait. And even if the major powers could devise security guarantees sufficient to assuage Iran's geopolitical worries, there remains the regime's religious mania:
Until 1994, Nafisi says, Iran's chief film censor, who previously had been theater censor, was nearly blind. He would sit in a theater with an assistant who explained what was transpiring on stage and took notes on the cuts the censor required. The showing on television of "Billy Budd" was condemned because it supposedly promoted homosexuality -- although the television programmers chose it because it had no female characters. After the 1979 revolution, the regime lowered the marriageable age of women from 18 to 9. Since 2002 -- this is Iranian moderation -- a court's permission is required to marry younger than 13.
President Kennedy could not have imagined that such a backward-facing regime would be among those that would acquire the most modern of weapons. In the 1960 presidential campaign, he cited "indications" that by 1964 there would be "10, 15 or 20" nuclear powers. Today it is unclear whether North Korea has become the ninth by weaponizing its fissile material.
It is in America's interest -- indeed, the interest of all members of the nuclear club -- to keep new members out. But a mere aspiration is not a policy. The club will expand over time. U.S. policy can vigorously discourage this, but must discriminate among, and against, nations. It is unlikely, but possible, that China's weight, properly applied in the context of North Korea's desperate material needs, can prevent North Korea from crossing the threshold. However, Iran is almost certainly going to cross it.
Iran can negotiate in bad faith while it continues its progress toward development of such weapons, as North Korea has done while increasing its supply of plutonium. When that tactic has been exhausted, Iran can come to agreements that it then more or less stealthily disregards, as North Korea has done.
On Tuesday, four days after a U.N. agency told Iran not do it, Iran announced that it has begun processing 37 tons of yellow cake (milled uranium) into a gas as part of a process to produce a compound that can be used in nuclear power plants, but also can be a precursor of highly enriched uranium for weapons. U.S. policy is that the "international community," whatever that is, "cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon" (Condoleezza Rice, Aug. 8). It is surreal to cast this as a question of what anyone will "allow" Iran to do.
George Will is a nationally syndicated writer. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to see Dr. Ahura Yazdi's National Press Conference today in Washington, DC, download it here:
Monday, Sept. 27, 2004
Clintonista Suggests U.S. Wage War on Iran
Something buried deep in a wire story today caught our eye: a former Clinton administration official asserting that the United States might have to start a war with nuclear Iran.
Imagine the uproar if an official in the Bush administration or any other Republican administration suggested such a thing.
Cliff Kupchan, vice president of the Nixon Center and Clinton's former expert on Tehran, said that "if diplomacy fails, there might be no choice but for the United States to lead a concerted military campaign against Iran," the Associated Press reported.
Kupchan said, "If the U.S. moves aggressively, it won't be sanctions; it will be a coalition of the willing."
Where have we heard that phrase before?