|JERUSALEM, Sept. 28 (JTA) After months of high-profile lobbying against Irans nuclear program, Israeli officials are confident that the international community will impose sanctions on Tehran if it fails to meet a Nov. 25 deadline to halt its nuclear weapons program.
They base their optimism on a series of meetings with American and European officials, mainly during the recent U.N. General Assembly session in New York. They say they detect a major shift in the European position, which could lead to the Europeans joining a U.S.-led move on sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.
If the sanctions fail, Israeli analysts believe the United States has the capacity to stop Iran going nuclear by military means. They are also not ruling out a strike by Israel, if the Iranians go past the point of no return in nuclear bomb manufacturing and the international community fails to take effective action.
Israeli officials, however, make it clear that Israel sees Irans nuclear program as a global rather than an Israeli problem, and would much prefer to see the international community dealing with it.
The hardening of the European line came after the Iranians rejected a mid-September demand from the International Atomic Energy Agency not to produce the enriched uranium from which nuclear bombs are made.
The defiant Iranian response was to announce that it had begun converting large amounts of raw uranium and that it had test-fired a new version of the Shihab-3 missile, capable of reaching Israel and most European capitals.
A few days later, at the U.N. General Assembly session in New York, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he was encouraged by the new European stance.
The time, he said, was now ripe to move the Iranian case to the Security Council in order to put an end to this nightmare.
At the same time, Israels national security council chief, Giora Eiland, came away from talks with American officials convinced that they realized the gravity of the situation and would be ready to act.
November, Eiland stressed in his talks, would be the very last chance to do something effective to halt the Iranian nuclear drive without having to resort to force.
Gerald Steinberg, an expert on nuclear proliferation at Bar Ilan Universitys BESA Institute, asserts that the Europeans, tired of Irans double game, will now be ready to follow an American lead.
The British, the Germans and to some degree the French now realize that their approach, holding various kinds of dialogue with Iran, has failed, he said.
Nor does he expect Russia or China to oppose a move for U.N. sanctions against Iran. Russia, given its troubles in Chechnya, will find it difficult to condone a nuclear build-up in terror-supporting Iran, he said.
And China wont want to be the only permanent member of the Security Council to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
Steinberg estimates that the Iranians are at least six months and perhaps some years away from producing a bomb, so that there is time to test whether a sanctions strategy works.
If it doesnt, the next step could be an American-led military strike. Spelling out U.S. policy in late September, President Bush said he would prefer to use diplomacy, including sanctions, to stop the Iranian nuclear drive, but if necessary he would not shy away from the use of force.
A leak in Newsweek magazine that American contingency plans to hit Iran were being updated seemed to underline the presidents message.
Both the presidents tough talk and the Newsweek leak seemed calculated at the very least to put more pressure on Iran ahead of the November deadline, by presenting a credible U.S. military threat.
Although Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out across the country, and in some cases protected by thick concrete bunkers, Steinberg believes that if sanctions dont work and the Iranians get very close to producing a bomb, the Americans would be capable of destroying Irans entire nuclear program.
The U.S. certainly has the military capability to destroy the key facilities of the Iranian program, he said. Iran could always reconstitute its capabilities, but it would take years. Two decades after the Israeli strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, the Iraqis were still not as close to producing a weapon as they had been then.
As for the possibility of Israel attacking Irans nuclear facilities if sanctions fail and the international community does not take military action, Steinberg said he does not rule it out, nor does anyone in the Israeli establishment.
But he said the imminent supply of 500 one-ton bunker buster bombs to Israel from the United States should not be seen as directly connected to any operational policy vis-a-vis Iran, although it does enhance the credibility of the Israeli threat to Irans nuclear program.
Senior Israeli officials warn that the international community should not count on Israel to remove the Iranian nuclear threat. Israeli policy, they say, has been geared to convincing the international community that Irans nuclear program is an international and not an Israeli problem, and that it should be dealt with by the international community, not by Israel.
The world should not wait for us to do its dirty work, by taking out the Iranian nuclear threat, Yoav Biran, the outgoing director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, warned in a recent interview in the mass circulation Yediot Achronot daily.
No one in the world has any doubts about Irans intentions, which remain to achieve full military nuclear capability with long-range missiles, he said, alluding to the goal of delivering nuclear warheads.
Its not solely an Israeli problem. First and foremost, its a problem for the stability of the Middle East and the whole international order. Only persistent international pressure, which must include Europe, the United States and others, will prevent Iran from achieving its goal, he declared.
Now, after years in which the Americans pressed for a hard line and the Europeans for constructive dialogue with Iran, the international community seems to be ready to take the kind of concerted action Biran had in mind.
But whether sanctions or the threat of sanctions will be enough to convince the Iranians to drop their nuclear ambitions remains an open question.
And, despite President Bushs tough talk and the new optimism in Israel, there is an even bigger question: If sanctions fail, will the international community really take military action, or wait for Israel, armed with long-range bombers and bunker busting bombs, to do so and risk the consequences?
(Leslie Susser is the diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Report.)
Analysis: Iranian Mujahedin Face Uncertain Future- Tuesday, 28 September 2004
The MKO was designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the U.S. State Department in 1997, and it retains that status (see http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/31711.htm). The MKO is known by a number of other names, including the National Liberation Army of Iran (the militant wing of the MKO), the People's Mujahedin of Iran, National Council of Resistance, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and Muslim Iranian Student's Society (front organization used to garner financial support). The EU designated the MKO's military wing as a terrorist organization in May 2002.
The MKO was created in the 1960s and its ideology combines Islam and Marxism. It was involved with anti-U.S. terrorism in the 1970s, and it initially supported the 1978-79 revolution. In June 1981, it staged an unsuccessful uprising against the Islamic regime; many members were imprisoned while others fled the country.
The MKO transitioned from being a "mass movement" in 1981 to having "all the main attributes of a cult" by mid-1987, Ervand Abrahamian wrote in his "Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin" (1989). It referred to its head, Masud Rajavi, as the rahbar (leader) and imam-i hal (present imam), had a rigid hierarchy, created a vocabulary, and had its own calendar.
After being run out of Iran, the MKO launched a number of attacks against the regime leadership: a 1981 bombing killed President Mohammad-Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, in 1992 it attacked 13 Iranian embassies, and it is behind other mortar attacks and assassination attempts in Iran.
Former President Saddam Hussein granted the MKO refuge in Iraq, and from there the organization fought Iranian forces in the Iran-Iraq War. Hundreds of MKO members reportedly died in the July 1988 Foruq-i Javidan military operation against Iran. The MKO helped suppress the 1991 uprisings of Shi'a in southern Iraq and Kurds in the north.
Operation Iraqi Freedom brought the MKO's idyll to an end. U.S. and British aircraft bombed MKO bases in late March 2003 and again in early April. On 10 May, the MKO agreed to turn over its weapons to U.S. forces. As these events were taking place, there was speculation that the Iranian military would strike at the MKO's bases. It did not do so, and Tehran offered an amnesty instead.
Ahmad Rahimi, spokesman for Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, said in a 28 March 2003 telephone interview with Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah television that members of the MKO could come back to Iran if they voiced regret for their "crimes" against the Islamic Republic, Reuters reported. "The Islamic Republic of Iran, out of pity, gave them this new chance," Rahimi said. "We guarantee their life and will not arrest them, although there are some people who committed special crimes inside and outside Iran. If they voice regret for what they did and do not repeat these mistakes, then we will help them solve the problem and lead a respectable life in their country," he added.
Other Iranian officials repeated the amnesty offer throughout the year. Intelligence and Security Minister Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi said on 5 April that 100 MKO members had returned to Iran already, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported, and he urged others to return and live a normal life. Yunesi added during a 10 May press conference that many MKO members have returned to Iran and provided the government with information. Government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh said on 23 June 2003 that Iran would treat any returning MKO members with "Islamic compassion" and he stressed that they would not encounter any problems in Iran, IRNA reported. President Mohammad Khatami expressed similar sentiments in Geneva on 11 December 2003.
The offer did not apply to MKO leaders, however. "Monafeqin [hypocrites; MKO] ringleaders who have directly been involved in terrorist operations and crimes against the Iranian people" are not eligible for the amnesty, Ramezanzadeh added on 23 June.
The Iraqi Governing Council, furthermore, announced in December 2003 that all MKO members would have to leave Iraq by the end of the month (on Iraqi attitudes to the MKO, see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 15 December 2003.) The expulsions never occurred, and the occupation forces in Iraq were not clear on how to deal with the MKO (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 22 December 2003). In July 2004, MKO members in Iraq were granted "protected status" under the Geneva Conventions. It is not clear, furthermore, how many MKO members took advantage of the Iranian amnesty offer, nor is it clear how they are being treated.
The case of two MKO members who were forcibly returned to Iran from Syria could be instructive. Damascus sent Ebrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam to Iran on 12 June 2003. During a February 2004 trip to Iran, Baroness Emma Nicholson, deputy chairwoman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, saw the two men. She reported that they were in good health and had no complaints about their treatment, but were still awaiting trial. Nicholson met with Khodabandeh again in Tehran in March 2004. The MKO dismissed her comments as lies and said the men were being tortured and faced execution (see http://www.thisishertfordshire.co.uk/news/barnet/display.var.485040.0.0.php and http://www.thisishertfordshire.co.uk/news/barnet/display.var.490780.0.one_year_in_an_iranian_prison_cell.php).
Ann Singleton, author of a book on the MKO entitled "Saddam's Private Army," wrote in June 2004 that she and British Members of Parliament Sir Teddy Taylor and Win Griffiths, an independent British reporter, and two Iranian lawyers met with Khodabandeh and Bassam in Tehran's Evin prison (http://www.iran-interlink.org/files/info/iranvisitJune2004.htm). Khodabandeh told the visitors that he would not return to the MKO. Bassam said he still regards himself as an MKO member.
An imprisoned former MKO member, Arash Sametipur, was quoted in "The Christian Science Monitor" on 31 December 2003 that the organization is "a mixture of Mao and Marxism, and leader [Masud] Rajavi acts like Stalin" (http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1231/p10s01-woiq.html). Another former MKO member, Hora Shalchi, told the newspaper that the organization's leadership promised that the Iranian people would welcome her actions, but a mob chased her down when her mortar attack on a military base went awry. "We weren't accepted by anybody," Shalchi added. "There was no support." Both said that the Iranian government does not consider the MKO a serious threat, and the executions that the MKO told them to expect never took place. According to the many people interviewed by "The Christian Science Monitor," imprisoned MKO members are treated like people who need help.
Yet this was not always the case, and MKO warnings were based on fact. Many MKO members who were imprisoned in the early 1980s were tortured into recanting, Ervand Abrahamian wrote in his "Tortured Confessions" (1999). Furthermore, in early or mid-1988 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an order establishing special commissions tasked with executing imprisoned mujahedin as muharib (at war with God) and leftists as mortad (apostates from Islam). In July 1988, the commissions began isolating and questioning the imprisoned MKO members and executing the unrepentant ones. The total number of executed mujahedin is estimated to be in the thousands. The mass executions stopped in less than a year and the logic behind them is not known, but Abrahamian wrote that this was Khomeini's way of testing the dedication of regime supporters. Others linked the executions with the MKO's unsuccessful July 1988 attack on Iran. And if executions became less commonplace, the use of torture did not.
In 1989 the regime amnestied many political prisoners. It produced one high-ranking MKO member, Said Shahsavandi, who in television interviews, lectures, and open letters denounced the MKO and accused its leadership of imprisoning, torturing, and executing dissidents. Shahsavandi traveled to Europe to deliver the same message. The MKO has denounced Shahsavandi for alleged involvement in the torture and execution of MKO members.
This policy of granting amnesties reflected a new regime tactic rather than a sense of mercy. The regime sought to portray the MKO as "the principal violators of human rights in Iran," Reza Afshari wrote in "Human Rights in Iran" (2001). Moreover, it tried to portray itself as a defender of human rights. The regime subsequently trotted out allegedly repentant MKO members, as well as relatives of individuals who allegedly died at the MKO's hands, when UN human rights investigators visited Iran.
As of late September, the future of the MKO is unclear. Iraqis continue to have suspicions about the organization. Baghdad's "Al-Mutamar" reported on 31 July that people in Diyala Governorate suspect the MKO is "fomenting the ongoing struggle between the new Iraqi government and the armed terrorist groups," and others suspect that Ba'athist officials are hiding in Camp Ashraf. The newspaper added that the MKO is not confined to Camp Ashraf and also runs Camp Habib, 35 kilometers north of Al-Basrah; Camp Homayun and Camp Muzarmi, near the city of Al-Amarah; Camp Fayzah, near Al-Kut; Camp Ulwi, near Al-Miqdadiyah; Camp Anzali, near Jalul; and "scores" of offices and safehouses in Baghdad, Al-Basrah, and Diyala.
Some U.S. commentators have recommended using the MKO against Iran, citing concerns about Iranian activities in Iraq. A recent example is the commentary by Fox News military analysts Thomas McInerney and Paul Vallely in "The Wall Street Journal" on 8 September. Citing former MKO spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh as an "Iranian expert," they wrote that it is time to create an "armed resistance movement" by removing the MKO from the terrorist list. "It's time to rearm [the MKO's] 4,000 trained fighters."
Regardless of Iranians' disgust for this organization, such calls have some resonance in Iran. "Jomhuri-yi Islami" claimed in a 5 August commentary that an arms shipment seized at the Iranian border was somehow connected with MKO activities, U.S. hostility, and Iraqi claims about Iranian interference.
The MKO, meanwhile, continues its activities against the Iranian government. Approximately 5,000 of its supporters demonstrated in Brussels on 13 September as EU foreign ministers discussed Iran, AFP reported. The so-called International Committee for the Support of Victims of the MKO condemned the Belgian decision to permit this rally, IRNA reported on 12 September. The committee said in a letter to Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel that the MKO recruited Afghans and other refugees to participate in the rally by paying for their food and accommodations.
Bush administration completes get-tough plan for Syria
The Bush administration has drafted contingency plans for bringing military and economic pressure against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Officials said the administration has determined that diplomacy has failed to resolve U.S. concerns that Syria has been working to destabilize the interim government in Iraq.
They said the Assad regime has been harboring senior operatives of Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, regarded as the most lethal insurgent in Iraq, aides to Saddam Hussein as well as Iraqi nuclear scientists as part of a Syrian policy coordinated with Iran.
On Monday, the State Department reiterated its criticism of Syria for its harboring groups deemed as terrorists, Middle East Newsline reported. The department refused to condemn the Sept. 26 assassination of a Hamas leader in Damascus in a car-bombing attributed to Israel.
"If Americans are dying in Iraq because of Syrian policies, then this is something we are not going to tolerate," a senior official said.
The official, who refused to be identified, did not report any progress in U.S. efforts to end Syria's support of the insurgency movement in Iraq or other issues in dispute between Damascus and Washington.
Last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell praised Syria's redeployment of more than 3,000 troops in Lebanon and suggested the onset of a new atmosphere in relations.
"I can't go into details on this, but they gave me some information with respect to financial activities [to insurgents in Iraq] and how we can cooperate more fully on that," Powell said in a Sept. 24 meeting with the New York Times editorial board. "We're looking at ways to improve our intelligence exchange."
Two weeks ago, Syria and the United States met in Damascus in what officials termed was a hard-nosed review of bilateral relations that focused on the Assad regime's policy in Iraq.
The U.S. delegation, headed by Assistant Secretary of State William Burns contained members of the Pentagon, White House and National Security Council.
The talks reviewed Syrian WMD programs, support for the insurgency in Iraq and Syria's harboring of billions of dollars sent by the Saddam Hussein regime in 2002 and 2003. "What we said in Damascus is that this has to stop," the senior official said. "Our message to Syria was a warning that this is very serious. Because this means Syria shares responsibility for the killing of Americans and Iraqis, and it has to stop."
At the meeting, Damascus agreed to participate in talks with Iraq and U.S. Central Command to launch cooperation that would halt the flow of insurgents and weapons from Syria, officials said. Officials said the Assad regime was warned that the failure of the military talks, which began on Tuesday in Damascus, could trigger what they termed a major deterioration in U.S. relations with Syria.
"Our job is to convince them that the risk of undermining us is much greater than the opposite," the senior official said.
During the September meeting in Damascus, officials said, the U.S. delegation presented the Assad regime with evidence of Syrian government aid to the insurgency movement in Iraq. The delegation argued that Syria has intensified its support of Al Zarqawi and pro-Saddam forces in an effort to torpedo Iraqi elections scheduled in January 2005.
"It's not just a question of border control," the senior official said. "Institutions within Syria are actively colluding with our enemies in Iraq."
"Terrorists and their supporters beget a cycle of violence that is best addressed through the end of support of terror," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. "We have made it clear that in numerous meetings with the Syrians that we think it's in their interests, in the interests of the region, to end support for terrorist organizations and terrorist individuals operating from their territory."
Latest reports in reference to the popular demonstrations which took place, on Sunday, in some Iranian cities and especially the Capital, are stating about several deaths and tens of injured and arrested.
The most violent clashes took place, in Esfahan, Noor-Abad of Mamassani, Shiraz, Hamadan, Saghez, Khoram-Abad and Oroomiah (former Rezai-e) where security agents shoot on demonstrators by killing and injuring several of them.
In most cases, such as, in Noor-Abad of Mamassani (Fars Province) and in Khoram-Abad, angry demonstrators retaliated to the militiamen's brutality and the murder of several demonstrators by attacking the regime's forces with pieces of stones and incendiary devices. The popular reaction resulted in the injuries of several agents and heavy damages made to several patrol cars and public buildings, such as, Noor-Abad's Justice Palace.
Tens of demonstrators, especially young girls and boys, have been reported as missing following the demos of Sunday.
Situation of most provincial cities and Tehran have been reported as very tense and the security forces are remaining deployed in most strategic and popular areas.
| One person was killed and 18 injured in clashes in Iran linked to the collapse of an Islamic loan fund in Nourabad, Iranian state television has reported.
The violence is reported to have taken place after angry customers protested outside state offices in the city.
The Zolfaghar-Ali fund was declared bankrupt, leaving some customers unable to reclaim funds they had deposited.
One report said Nourabad residents had 360bn riyals ($41m; £23m) tied up in the fund.
A Fars state official told Iranian television that security forces had intervened to quell the protests and calm had been restored.
Damage was caused to some buildings by "a group of agitators and opportunists", said Abdollah Shahasani, head of political affairs in the office of the Fars governor general.
He said the fund's managers had been arrested and a special committee was investigating customer complaints.
Similarly structured Islamic funds allow depositors after several months to take interest-free loans of double the amount deposited.
Fund managers invest the cash deposited but can be vulnerable to a run on the fund if too many depositors try to take loans or withdraw their deposits at once.
Several such funds have collapsed in recent months, causing street protests, AFP news agency said.
VIENNA (Reuters) - The analysis of soil samples taken by U.N. inspectors at Lavizan, a site in Tehran that U.S. officials suspect may be linked to an atomic weapons program, shows no sign of nuclear activity, Western diplomats said.
Satellite photos of Lavizan taken between August 2003 and May 2004 showed that Iran had completely razed Lavizan, a site which Iran said was a former military research laboratory, but which it said had nothing to do with atomic-related activities.
"The environmental samples taken at Lavizan have come back negative so far," a Vienna-based diplomat who follows the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters. Negative means the samples contained no traces of nuclear materials.
Washington accused Iran of removing a substantial amount of topsoil and rubble from the site and replacing it with a new layer of soil, in what U.S. officials said might have been an attempt to cover clandestine nuclear activity at Lavizan.
Former U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, Kenneth Brill, accused Iran in June of using "the wrecking ball and bulldozer" to sanitize Lavizan prior to the arrival of U.N. inspectors.
But another diplomat close to the IAEA told Reuters that on-site inspections of Lavizan produced no proof that any soil had been removed at all.
The United States accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.
The IAEA has been inspecting Iran's nuclear program for two years. Although it has uncovered many previously concealed activities that could be linked to weapons activity, it has found no "smoking gun" to prove Washington's case.
* Puts El Baradei under pressure
VIENNA: A new board of governors of the UN nuclear watchdog was to meet in Vienna on Monday to set procedures for electing a new director general, with current chief Mohamed El Baradei seeking to remain in office despite US opposition.
El Baradei had earlier this month put his hat into the ring for a third term at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) despite opposition from the United States and possibly other top UN funding states to his continuing in the job.
US officials have said the United States, the largest contributor to the United Nations, supports the position of the Geneva group of top 10 contributors that heads of international organisation should not serve more than two terms.
This policy has nothing to do with the director generals qualifications. The United States thinks that hes done a very good job leading the agency at a very difficult time but its simply a matter of principle and good governance, a Western official familiar with the US position said.
But El Baradei, who is supported by the 13 non-aligned countries on the IAEAs 35-nation board, may get a boost in October as he is an apparent favourite to win the Nobel Peace Prize, after his work in monitoring nuclear activities in hot spots Iran, Iran, North Korea and Libya.
An IAEA spokesman said the board, which was elected last week at an IAEA general conference, has to decide today procedures for the appointment of a new director general.
He said the board would probably close applications for candidacies by December 31 and seek to have the new director general named by a board meeting in June 2005, in order to be formally elected at the next IAEA general conference in September 2005.
El Baradei, 61, who is Egyptian, has been at the Vienna-based IAEA for two decades and has as director general since 1997 become a world figure campaigning for nuclear non-proliferation. afp
Iranian official refutes Bush's statement on nuclear issue
|www.chinaview.cn 2004-09-28 23:56:38|
TEHRAN, Sept. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Iranian Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Tuesday rejected a recent statement by US President George W. Bush over Iran's nuclear file, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Iran is certainly entitled to have access to nuclear technology," said Rafsanjani, referring to Bush's remarks that Iran does not need nuclear energy given its plenty of oil reserves.
"A lot of countries in the world make use of nuclear energy today," Rafsanjani said, adding "even the United States had plenty of oil when it launched its nuclear activity."
Tehran denies the US accusation, insisting that its right to get access to peaceful nuclear technology be natural.
Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution on Iran's nuclear program, urging the country to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities and fully cooperate with inspectors to clear up related issues. Enditem
Waiting to bomb Iran
|By Aluf Benn|
While the debate in Israel was focused on the disengagement plan, an entirely different discussion was developing in the international media. They have become convinced in recent weeks that Israel is planning an aerial attack on Iran's nuclear installations, should it conclude that Iran is proceeding apace toward the development of an atomic bomb, and the diplomatic effort to stop it has failed.
This discussion is not taking place on remote Internet sites, but in learned analyses by the most important newspapers in the world, which are describing the anticipated Israeli bombing as a political fact that is influencing decision makers in Washington and Europe. Everyone knows that Israel considers the Iranian bomb the most serious threat to its existence and its regional status.
| Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 29 September 2004 0148 hrs
Iran not seeking nuclear bomb, but will defend itself: minister
NEW YORK : Iran is not trying to build a nuclear bomb, but it has developed long and medium-range missiles to defend itself against potential threats, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told CNN television.
Reformist journalist arrested in Iran
Web posted at: 9/29/2004 2:45:47
Source ::: AFP
TEHRAN: An Iranian journalist who has worked on the political pages of two reformist dailies in the Islamic republic has been arrested, his wife told the student news agency Isna yesterday.
Rozbeh Mir-Ebrahimi, who has worked for Etemad and Jomhuriat newspapers, "was arrested by people who said they were from the police" on Monday morning, Sulmaz Sharifi said.
The Jomhuriat newspaper was closed down by the judiciary in July.
"They searched the house and asked him questions about his work with different Internet sites. They said he would be released soon but so far I have not heard from him and they have given me no reason for his arrest," she told Isna.
Iran's hardline judiciary has maintained a crackdown on the pro-reform press for several years, with scores of papers shut down and journalists frequently detained. Around 15 journalists are currently believed to be behind bars.
On September 7, Etemad journalist Shahram Rafizadeh was also arrested and is still being held. The judiciary also recently arrested three writers who publish over the Internet signalling the crackdown was being extended to cyberspace.
A prominent reformist politician and former MP, Mohsen Armin, told ISNA that since the Internet crackdown began a month ago, "around 20 people have been arrested" for accessing banned sites.
By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 28 -- Five international oil consortia, including Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Total SA, Statoil ASA, Norsk Hydro AS, and Repsol YPF SA, have submitted bids for developing Iran's Yadavaran oil field, OPEC News Agency reported.
Seyed Mehdi Hosseini, managing director of National Iranian Oil Co., said NIOC also is negotiating LNG purchase-marketing deals with three groups from India, China, and Spain in exchange for 20% shares in the Yadavaran development project, said Hosseini.
The companies, which would not be involved in operations, would obtain the share in investment, costs, and interests of the contracts, in exchange for purchasing 5 million tonnes/year of LNG, OPECNA reported.
WASHINGTON - The United States will keep pushing the UN Security Council to consider whether Iran's nuclear ambitions are out of bounds, John Bolton, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said.
"The reason we favor taking it to the Security Council is, we want to put Iran in the international spotlight, in the agency and the UN system responsible for such matters, to change the global political dynamic, to increase the pressure on Iran to give up pursuit of nuclear weapons," Bolton said at a conference at the American Enterprise Institute.
"It raises the stakes for Iran. In the Security Council their options narrow."
The International Atomic Energy Agency has called on Tehran to immediately halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that can make the explosive material for nuclear weapons.
The United States claims Iran is hiding a covert weapons development program and wants the agency to bring Iran before the UN Security Council in November.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and insists it has a right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program.
For his part, Bolton denied that Washington was automatically seeking council action against Tehran.
"It is simply not the case that referral to the Security Council results in any kind of automatic Security Council action," he said.
"We must recognise that there is no indication that Saddam Hussein has any intention of relenting," the speaker warned his audience. "So we have an obligation of enormous consequence, an obligation to guarantee that Saddam Hussein cannot ignore the United Nations.
"He cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
"This is not a matter about which there should be any debate whatsoever in the Security Council, or, certainly, in this nation.
"I believe that the United Nations must take, and should authorise immediately, whatever steps are necessary to force him to relent - and that the United States should support and participate in those steps."
The speaker continued: "While we should always see to take significant international actions on a multilateral rather than unilateral basis whenever that is possible, if in the final analysis we face what we truly believe to be a grave threat to the well-being of our nation or the entire world and it cannot be removed peacefully we must have the courage to do what we believe is right and wise."
He went on: "I submit that the old adage pay now or pay later applies perfectly in this situation."
The speaker noted that only small quantities of biological weapons would be needed to murder thousands of civilians in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. "These could be delivered by ballistic missile", he warned, "but they also could be delivered by much more pedestrian means; aerosol applicators on commercial trucks easily could suffice."
The man who spoke these words was not Tony Blair. Nor, as the number of subordinate clauses will have warned you, was it George W Bush. Nor was it Paul Wolfowitz or even Joe Lieberman.
It was actually John Kerry, speaking on the floor of the United States Senate on 9 November, 1997, after Saddam had expelled the UN weapons inspectors from Iraq.
Its true that Kerry, having opposed military action against Saddam after he invaded Kuwait, seems happy with the idea of using force only when the idea of using meaningful force is not an immediate likelihood, but the speech is worth quoting at length to demonstrate where Kerry once was, and the contrast with where he is today.
Do not be too surprised if George Bush reminds Senator Kerry of these words when they meet at the University of Miami tomorrow for the first of their three presidential debates. This debate, which will focus entirely on foreign policy, may prove to be the decisive moment in this election campaign.
Yesterdays Washington Post/ABC News poll showed the extent to which Kerry remains on the back foot. Nationwide, Bush leads by 51 per cent to 45 per cent and, critically, the president continues to enjoy a 53-40 per cent lead on handling the situation in Iraq and a 54-37 per cent advantage when voters are asked which candidate they trust to lead the campaign against terrorism - even though 51 per cent of those surveyed no longer believe the war was worth fighting.
In other words, the electorate is not happy with Bush but it is even less content with Kerry.
Even among Democrats, the poll found that just 39 per cent were "enthusiastic" about their candidate. In these circumstances, a draw tomorrow night will be of little use to the challenger.
Kerry, and his supporters, would like to have us believe that we should get beyond asking whether he thought the war was justified or not and instead focus on what is happening in Iraq right now. Up to a point. Its true that President Bush seems intent on viewing events in Mesopotamia through Panglossian spectacles, but that is less important, for now, than the fact that the answer to the question: "Would you have gone to war?" is the most pressing matter of the day and tells us what we need, indeed deserve, to know about what a Kerry presidency would look like.
Kerrys answer, depending on when and where the question is asked, is insufficiently clear. Sometimes hell say yes, sometimes hell say no.
This is not nuance, it is disingenuousness. The true sense of his position has, however, leaked out. For all that he protests, from time to time, that he is less against the idea of toppling Saddam than he is against the manner in which it was done, the unhappy truth remains that were John Kerry president, Saddam would remain untoppled.
AFTER all, Kerrys new campaign strategist, Joe Lockhart, last week dismissed Ayad Allawi as nothing more than an American "puppet", denying him the legitimacy he rather needs to help foster some kind of stability in Iraq.
This is the key question of the campaign and, I suspect, the ground upon which Bush will choose to fight tomorrow night. It is a matter of world view and strategy rather than day-to-day tactics which can, and sometimes should, shift with the wind.
As Christopher Hitchens bluntly put it this week: "This is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around." This too will be the presidents message. If Kerry was wrong on Saddam, Bush will maintain, he cannot be trusted to be right on Iran or North Korea (two cases in which this "unilateral" administration has pursued a strategy that has been more multilateral than it has been effective.)
Kerry will make the case that post-war blundering in Iraq has brought the United States into disrepute and made the world a more dangerous place. In the short-term that may well be true, but, Bush will suggest, true leadership demands a longer view.
Thus far, Kerry has failed to demonstrate that he has that kind of penetrating gaze. He has run a campaign predicated almost entirely upon the proposition that he is not George W Bush and upon the non sequitur that having served in Vietnam, he is qualified to make tough decisions on matters of war and peace. This is not enough. Few voters know what Kerry stands for, only what he stands against.
Democrats hope that their remarkably successful voter-registration drives will overcome the pollsters findings - Cleveland and Philadelphia, for instance, are reporting record numbers of new Democratic registrations - but unless Kerry can win the security and "vision thing" argument, then his goose may be cooked.
Nonetheless, expect Kerry to continue to argue, as he has in recent days, that "George Bush has failed to be forthcoming with the American people about what is happening in Iraq and has failed to provide the leadership we need. I will do a better job of dealing with Iraq and winning the war and fighting the war on terror, period."
Kerrys problem, however, is that while the voters agree with that first sentence, they show few signs of believing the second.
Unless he can change that perception tomorrow night, George W Bush will be odds-on to win a second term.
Waiting to bomb Iran
|By Aluf Benn|
While the debate in Israel was focused on the disengagement plan, an entirely different discussion was developing in the international media. They have become convinced in recent weeks that Israel is planning an aerial attack on Iran's nuclear installations, should it conclude that Iran is proceeding apace toward the development of an atomic bomb, and the diplomatic effort to stop it has failed.
|This discussion is not taking place on remote Internet sites, but in learned analyses by the most important newspapers in the world, which are describing the anticipated Israeli bombing as a political fact that is influencing decision makers in Washington and Europe. Everyone knows that Israel considers the Iranian bomb the most serious threat to its existence and its regional status.
The newspaper articles recall the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reaction in 1981 as an example of what awaits the Iranians. They analyze the ability of the Israel Air Force to carry out such an operation, and warn that it will lead to terrible repercussions in the Middle East.
There is no question that the bombing of Iran will be much more complicated than the attack on the Iraqi reactor. The flight range is greater, the Iranian installations are scattered and protected, and Iran is capable of retaliating. But the interesting difference between Iraq and Iran is that at the time, the Iraqi operation was planned in secret and was carried out by surprise, and this time the ostensible preparations are being conducted almost in the open.
The belief that Israel's patience is running out have increased since July, when the British Sunday Times reported - based on Israeli sources - on the advanced preparations for bombing the reactor in Bushehr. The article, which was widely quoted all over the world and aroused Iranian counter-threats, seems to be Israeli psychological warfare.
The British papers are a well-known target of such deliberate leaks, but no investigation was begun in Israel about presumed revelations of operational secrets, and at the time, Iran seemed to be evading diplomatic pressure. Afterward came the tests of the Israel Arrow missile and the Iranian Shihab, and more belligerent declarations from Teheran, and additional articles about the anticipated operation.
Judging by an analysis of the articles, Israel has decided to sharpen the sense of urgency in the international community, in order to increase diplomatic pressure on Teheran to cease its enrichment of uranium. This goal has been achieved, at least in the declarations being heard from the United States and Europe, and in the decisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
It is possible that factors in the West, doubtful about the success of the diplomatic effort, prefer to have Israel act in their place. There are signs of that: Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who met with many of his colleagues at the UN General Assembly, heard a great deal of understanding from them about the Iranian danger, and serious doubts as to the chances of diplomacy. Nobody asked Israel to refrain from a belligerent act.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says that Israel is not planning a military operation in Iran, and speaks of developing improved means of defense and deterrence. But the foreign media were more interested in the threats against the Iranians by senior members of the Israel Defense Forces. "We will not rely only on others" (Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon), "We will rely on others until we have to rely on ourselves" (his deputy, Dan Halutz), "The operational capability of the air force has increased significantly since the bombing of the Iraqi reactor" (Commander of the Israel Air Force, Eliezer Shkedi).
Sharon is disturbed by the growing acceptance, particularly in Europe, of Iran's impending membership in the nuclear club. Meanwhile he is carefully walking on the edge, and is exploiting his tough-guy image to arouse international attention. But nor should we forget that the present political-military leadership - Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Ya'alon, Halutz - has few inhibitions about exercising military might. Operations that were once considered taboo, such as attacks on Damascus and assassinations of Hamas leaders, now seem self evident.
A possible attack on Iran will be much more complex and risky, and therefore we would do well not to ignore the threats, and to conduct a public debate on the question of whether this course of action is desirable for Israel.
"A couple of weeks ago Libya finally wound up its WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) programme. America has lifted sanctions. We have a better chance of getting Iran and North Korea into compliance than we have ever had," Blair told BBC radio on Wednesday.
Defending the decision to go to war in Iraq, Blair added: "I thought and I still think it was absolutely essential we took that step. I don't accept that containment was working."
Both Iran and North Korea, along with pre-war Iraq, were labelled by President George W. Bush as part of an "axis of evil" and have been under pressure from the West over their nuclear programmes.
North Korea cancelled a scheduled September round of talks over scrapping its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees, while the International Atomic Energy Agency has said it will take tough action if Iran defies its call to stop uranium enrichment.
Israel issue warning over Iran nuclear weapons
29/09/2004 - 09:10:15
Israel will consider all options to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said in an interview published today.
Concern about Iranian nuclear development intensified last week when Iranian Vice President Reza Aghazadeh said the country had started converting raw uranium into the gas needed for enrichment, an important step in making a nuclear bomb.
The declaration came in defiance of a resolution passed by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, demanding Iran freeze all uranium enrichment including conversion.
Israel considers Iran its most dangerous enemy and worries that Irans nuclear weapons programme is intended as a threat against it. Iran denies it is developing nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear development programme is aimed at generating electricity.
Mofaz told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot that Israel had to be prepared to deal with what he called the Iranian threat.
All options have to be taken into account to prevent it, he was quoted as saying.
Mofaz said there was a chance a moderate regime would emerge in Tehran to stop the development of nuclear weapons, but if not, measures had to be taken to prevent their deployment.
The question is what comes first, nuclear ability or regime change? Yediot quoted him as saying.
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel is taking measures to defend itself a comment that raised concerns that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear installations along the lines of its 1981 bombing of an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak near Baghdad.