BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States sees no reason to offer Iran incentives to ensure its nuclear program remains peaceful, a U.S. government official said on Tuesday.
European states want the United States to make such proposals to Tehran after the Nov. 2 U.S. presidential election to add weight to efforts by Britain, France and Germany to reach an accord with Iran and avoid a U.N. Security Council showdown.
"At this point a grand bargain is not where we are heading," said the official, who requested anonymity.
He was referring to suggestions that Washington offer Iran economic and political inducements to halt activities which Washington suspects are aimed at making the atom bomb.
"We haven't seen any Iranian recognition that (a bargain) is in their interest," the official, in Brussels for talks with EU and Canadian officials on managing the challenge of Iran, told reporters.
But he said the United States would closely follow at any future signs that Tehran could respond positively to an offer.
"That would be a new factor we would look at very seriously. We don't have that now," he said.
Hardliners in the Bush administration have made it clear they would oppose offering any incentives to Tehran.
Iran has rebuffed a proposal by U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry to supply the Islamic state with nuclear fuel for power reactors if it gives up its own fuel-making capability.
Iran could be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if its cooperation is seen as insufficient at a Nov. 25 board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
The talks launched by Britain, France and Germany have yielded disappointing results. There has been alarm at Iran's announcement last month that it had begun processing raw uranium for enrichment, a possible route to the bomb.
The U.S. official said there was a need to define a common approach to Iran between the United States and Europe but said it was not clear how that could be achieved at the moment.
"How do you ... elicit from Iran a readiness to engage? I don't know the answer and I don't think the Europeans do either," he said.
Tehran - MPs in Iran's hardline-dominated parliament on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for a bill aimed at forcing the reformist government to resume uranium enrichment in defiance of the UN nuclear watchdog.
According to the state news agency IRNA, the move passed its first legislative hurdle after it was approved by parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee.
If eventually passed by a Majlis vote and approved by legislative watchdogs, such a bill would almost certainly prompt the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's case to the UN Security Council.
Under pressure from the IAEA, Tehran last year agreed to suspend uranium enrichment while inspectors probed allegations it had been seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
Enriched uranium, depending on the level of purification, can be used as either as fuel for a civilian reactor or as the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.
Iran says it only wants to generate electricity, and emphasises that enrichment is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if for peaceful purposes.
TEHRAN - Four Iranian men convicted of belonging to an organised crime gang and another man found guilty of raping a young girl have been hanged in the northern province of Mazandaran, reports say.
The four gang members, who had been convicted of murder, adultery, bribery, embezzlement and forgery, were hanged in public in the town of Salmanshahr, the state news agency IRNA reported.
The men, part of a gang called "Wild", were branded by the court as being "corrupt on earth", provincial judiciary chief Foulad Amoli was quoted as saying.
"The police had killed three members of the gang including the head, identified as Mehid Shams, during the arrest operations,"
Amoli said, adding that other gang members - numbering around 100 - were sentenced to long jail terms.
In addition, the student news agency ISNA reported that another man, only identified as a "middle-aged" rapist of a 10-year-old girl, was hanged in public on Sunday in the town of Ghaemshahr.
Murder, armed robbery, rape, apostasy and serious drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Iran.
According to reports in Iran's main newspapers and other media monitored by AFP.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said during the vice- presidential debate Tuesday night that the U.S. may seek sanctions against Iran through the United Nations Security Council.
Asked about his efforts to lift the U.S.'s unilateral sanctions over Iran during his tenure as chief executive officer of Halliburton Co. (HAL), Cheney said such sanctions were ineffective.
But, Cheney said, there are currently sanctions against Iran, and the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency is slated to meet in November to decide whether Iran is "living up to their commitments and obligations."
If Iran is not, Cheney said, "we may well want to go to the U.N. security council and ask for even tougher sanctions."
Democrat vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards countered that Iran weapons program had grown under Cheney and President George Bush's watch." ...
As Iran races to get nuclear weapons, attempts to find a way to prevent this development are also accelerating, accompanied by an intense war of words. Scarcely a day goes by without an official Iranian warning of dire consequences if American or Israeli military action is taken to disrupt Iran's illicit program to enrich uranium for weapons production. Israeli statements are ambiguous, but there is plenty of media speculation, often attributed to "authoritative sources" on possible military action if diplomacy fails to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The reluctance of the Israeli government to add fuel to the rhetorical combustion is understandable and responsible, but it also leaves the field wide open for rumors and imagination. To get beyond the rhetoric and misinformation, it is necessary to analyze the issues and available options.
Israeli policy is based on assessments of likely Iranian capabilities, decision-making processes, and current activities. Although Iran is not classified as an enemy, a radical Islamic regime in which officials declare their intention of "wiping Israel off the map" and support Hamas, Hizbullah, and other terror groups involved in mass attacks, must be taken very seriously. The addition of a nuclear capability and a ballistic missile delivery system beyond the current Shihab-3 deployment constitutes a red line for Israeli decision makers.
Based on this assessment, four options can be identified, each with its own risks and potential benefits:
1. Do nothing and wait for internal change in Iran, allowing for a stable deterrence relationship.
This option has a low immediate cost, but, as in the case of Saddam Hussein's nuclear efforts in the early 1980s, is viewed potentially dangerous in the long term. A few years ago, when Iranian reformists appeared to be taking power, deterrence may have been an acceptable option, but internal developments have gone in the opposite direction. Instead of the hoped-for process of political reform, which might have created a regime less dependent on extremist ideology and more informed regarding the outside world (including Israel), the hard-liners have regained control. In addition, Iranian strategic decision-making structures are unclear, but appear to be controlled by extremist clerics whose ability to discern red lines and develop a stable deterrence relationship with respect to Israel is extremely limited.
2. Hope for military action from the United States, perhaps in cooperation with Europe.
Given the complexities faced in Iraq, the chance of a US-led strike on Iran's enrichment and other facilities seems quite low, but not impossible. Such a strike could take place regardless of the outcome of the elections, if the US sees its own vital national interests threatened by regional proliferation, as well as the end of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is also possible that as European leaders increasingly realize the dangers of a wider Middle East nuclear arms race, they will reluctantly work with the US to stop Iran. However, these decisions are made elsewhere, and Israeli decision makers would be dependent on the actions of others in this option. And the time frame for action to halt Iran's nuclear bomb efforts is quite limited, with estimates ranging from 6 months to 3 years. So beyond hoping, there is little the Israeli government can do in this framework.
3. Unilateral military action (as in the case of Osirak in 1981).
Here, Israeli decision makers must weigh the formidable challenges (distance to the targets, the need to penetrate the protective barriers, etc.) and the potential for Iranian retaliation, against the long-term costs of restraint. The technical difficulties can probably be overcome, and the retaliation threats are perceived as relatively limited. Iran might launch a few inaccurate Shihabs, which may be intercepted by the Arrow BMD, but these capabilities do not match Teheran's shrill rhetoric.
If this is the default option, the longer Israel waits, the greater the difficulties and the potential for Iranian retaliation. This was the logic that drove the 1981 decision to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor, which, from an Israeli strategic perspective, was highly successful. Saddam Hussein tried to rebuild his nuclear program, but failed, and the costs of the Iraqi retaliatory attacks in 1991 were minimal. Iran might have greater terror assets than Saddam had, but Israeli society has proven to be resilient and can absorb the costs and escalate its response, if necessary.
On the down side, following a preemptive attack, relations between Iran and Israel would be soured for decades, even following a regime change. And even if the technical difficulties can be overcome and the major nuclear weapons facilities are destroyed, they can be reconstructed relatively quickly. So this option also has considerable risks.
4) Negotiation of a "grand bargains" in which Israel would give up its own deterrent option in exchange for "international guarantees" on Iran.
An analysis of Israeli history and doctrine demonstrates that such proposals are non-starters in the current political environment. Israeli strategic culture is based on self-reliance and the lack of credibility inherent in external pledges of security. The fact that Iran is close to developing nuclear weapons, despite IAEA safeguards and NPT pledges, reflects the weakness of international guarantees.
This analysis shows that there are no good options for Israel, and each scenario has considerable risks. In November, when the crucial review of Iran's program will take place, there is a small chance that the members of the IAEA and the UN Security Council, led by the US and Europe, will impose sanctions or even launch a military strike. But the odds of either are small, and then Israel will have to decide on its own.
The author is the director of the Program on Conflict Management at Bar-Ilan University.
Don't know if this has been discussed, but there is an article in the current "American Spectator" regarding a woman with ties to Kerry who came from Iran under possibly false pretenses as an anti-Islamist. Her name is Susan Akbarpour, and she appears to now support the current regime i9n Iran. Very interesting article, and since I know nothing about Iran or the politics there, I would be curious to hear what more knowledgeable people say about the story.
The press conference of Dr. Corsi on the Iranian connection to leaders of the Democratic party has been scheduled for Thursday, October 14, 2004 at the National Press Club in Washington DC.
I will keep you posted as to whether or not major media will be broadcasting the event.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran has produced "a few tonnes" of the gas needed to enrich uranium, a top nuclear official said Wednesday, confirming the country has defied international demands and taken a necessary step toward producing nuclear fuel - or nuclear weapons.
Uranium hexafluoride gas is the material that, in the next stage, is fed into centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Uranium enriched to a low level is used to produce nuclear fuel to generate electricity, and if enriched further can be used to manufacture atomic bomb.
Iran said last month that it has started converting about 36 tonnes of raw uranium being mined for enrichment - plans the international community specifically said it found alarming. Iran maintains its intentions are peaceful energy purposes.
"We have converted part of the raw uranium we had and produced a few tonnes of uranium hexafluoride gas," said Hossein Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency. He would not specify how much.
A few tonnes of raw uranium would produce nearly the same amount of hexafluoride gas.
"We are not in a hurry to do it. The few tons of uranium gas we've produced is an experimental process, not industrial production," Mousavian said.
Mousavian, who also heads the Foreign Policy Committee at Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council, said the process was under full IAEA supervision. "The agency knows of every milligram of uranium converted," he said.
In Vienna, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming agreed the process was "being done fully under IAEA's watch," but said she could not immediately confirm how far the Iranians had went.
"Inspectors are visiting that facility and we have other verification tools that are providing us with constant information about the operation of that facility," Fleming said.
A diplomat close to the agency said in Vienna that although the conversion does not contradict Iran's obligations, it will be viewed by some countries as a provocation.
Iran has thus far said it is honouring a pledge not to put uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges, spin it and make enriched uranium.
Last month, the IAEA's board of governors unanimously passed a resolution demanding for the first time that Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment including conversion. It specifically expressed alarm at Iranian plans to convert the more than 36 tonnes of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride.
At the time, the board suggested Iran may have to answer to the UN Security Council if it defied the demands. The resolution said the next board meeting, scheduled for Nov. 25, would "decide whether or not further steps are appropriate" in ensuring Iran complies.
A diplomat familiar with Iran's conversion activities said in Vienna last month that Iran had stopped at a precursor of uranium hexafluoride - apparently waiting for a decision from the leadership to finish the process.
Mousavian was clear Wednesday that Iran had produced the actual gas.
He said Iran was ready to guarantee that its nuclear program will not be diverted to a military use and take specific measures to eliminate concerns about Tehran's nuclear program.
"IAEA is the responsible body for non-proliferation. Iran is prepared to consider any IAEA proposal to take specific measures that its nuclear program will not be diverted toward weapons in the future. The specific measures should be defined by IAEA," he said.
Mousavian warned the international community, not Iran, will suffer if Iran is referred to the UN Security Council and sanctioned. He reiterated Iranian warnings that Tehran will stop implementing what is known as the additional protocol to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows unfettered IAEA inspections of Iranian facilities.
"Referring Iran to UN will not change the nuclear capability we already possess. The victim will be the additional protocol and NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), not Iran," he said.
Mousavian noted Iran has allowed international inspections of its facilities, including military sites.
"Up to now, Iran has not rejected a single IAEA request for inspections," he said. "This is the maximum of transparency and co-operation a member state can have with IAEA."
Iran's long march to nuclear weapons
No one should be surprised that Iran is poised to become a nuclear power.
Despite the seemingly rosy news of an agreement last fall between the European Union and Iran to allow inspections of its supposedly "peaceful" nuclear power program and the subsequent failure of the IAEA to hold Iran truly accountable for egregious violations of international treaties and agreements, there are years of historical evidence that Iran's nuclear program is in fact not an energy program, but a weapons program (IAEA denials notwithstanding).
The Iranians, of course, deny this. They insist that they are enriching uranium strictly for "peaceful" purposes and President (Ayatollah) Khatami now overtly claims that they have rejected nuclear weapons.
However, if one digs deep enough, one finds more sinister motives out in the open for all to see. Probably no one has done a better job of digging than Kenneth R. Timmerman who, in 1995, wrote Iran's Nuclear Program: Myth and Reality, which was published by the Middle East Data Project. He found four alarming statements by two Iranian leaders and two other world leaders with regard to nuclear weaponry statements that leave little doubt as to the Iranians' true intentions.
In February 1987, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini uttered these words in a speech before his country's Atomic Energy Organization:
"Regarding atomic energy, we need it now. Our nation has always been threatened from the outside. The least we can do to face the danger is to let our enemies know that we can defend ourselves. Therefore, every step you take here is in defense of your country and your revolution. With this in mind, you should work hard and at great speed."
That certainly does not sound as if the Ayatollah wants nuclear power to air condition his mosque!
An even more overt statement came a year later. In a broadcast over Tehran radio in October 1988, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani made this chilling declaration that called for the development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons:
"We should fully equip ourselves both in the offensive and defensive use of chemical, bacteriological and radiological weapons."
It was only after Iran's nuclear program began to grow and the Iranians began to secure the assistance of Russia and China that denials about their quest for nuclear weapons started popping up. But there is simply no getting around the fact that the scope and size of Iran's nuclear program is way beyond what one would reasonably expect from an oil-rich nation. Between 1988 and 1995, Iran started construction on no fewer than 15 nuclear facilities. That is the kind of active program that one would expect from a country in a severe energy crisis or one that is hell-bent on having nuclear weapons.
A lot more evidence of Iranian nuclear intentions surfaced during the 1990s. German and French security officials reported that, from 1992 to 1995, they foiled several; attempts by Iranian intelligence agents to purchase equipment needed to create an atomic bomb. But perhaps the clearest evidence spilled out in January 1995 in a nuclear deal signed between Iran and Russia. After the U.S. strongly protested the agreement, Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged that the agreement did in fact contain a military "component" and he announced that he was voiding that portion:
"But it is true that the contract does contain components of civilian and military nuclear energy. Now we have agreed to separate those two. In as much as they relate to the military component and the potential for creating weapons grade fuel and other matters the centrifuge, the construction of shafts we have decided to exclude those aspects from the contract."
Such statements make Iranian claims that they do not desire to have nuclear weapons appear to be bald-faced lies.
There is still more evidence. Ukrainian President Leonid Kucha was quoted as saying that Iran was seeking help from his nation to build nuclear weapons:
"We need oil from Iran because Russia is strangling us. We have no intention of responding to the repeated request by the Iranians to share with them know-how on nuclear weapons, or to sell them any equipment in this field."
To this day, Iran claims that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and they insist that they have no desire to have nuclear weapons. The IAEA seems intent on taking them at their word.
Lest you believe that this is Bush administration "neo-con" scare mongering, the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program was recognized long ago by members of the Clinton executive branch. Way back in 1994, the head of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Hollum, predicted that Iran would have an atomic bomb in ten years in other words, 2004. Also in January 1994, Undersecretary of State for International Security, Lynn Davis, told USA Today that "Iran's actions leave little doubt that Tehran is intent upon developing nuclear weapons capabilities." Davis went on to say that "Iran's nuclear acquisitions are inconsistent with any rational civil nuclear program."
Independent observers have also reported on Iran's nuclear activities. And an authoritative report by the Monterey Institute of International Studies written in 1995 quoted unnamed U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials as saying that they believed Iran would be nuclear-armed in a ten year time frame in other words, 2005. Citing sources within Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, respected New York Times columnist William Safire reported last year that hundreds of Russian scientists were in Iran building nuclear reactors and that, since Iran sits on a sea of cheap oil, its only reason for building a nuclear reactor was to produce plutonium for bombs.
Despite all these warnings over the years, we are getting perilously close to a radical Islamist nuclear foe in Tehran.
Perhaps that is why the Iranians are now going to great lengths to conceal the true nature of their nuclear program, perhaps so that they can avoid a confrontation with the West before they have a nuclear bomb.
The Iranians seem to be using the playbook that North Korea successfully used to become a nuclear power. First the Iranians feign cooperation, then they prevaricate. They insist that their nuclear program is entirely peaceful, then claim to reserve the sovereign right to do as they wish with nuclear power. One day we may wake up and the Ayatollahs in Iran will suddenly announce that they have The Bomb.
And then our options will be non-existent. Then it will be too late.
October 05, 2004
Premium Global Intelligence Brief
Iran announced Oct. 5 it has long-range missile capability, and the United States hinted it would be willing to parley with the Islamic republic on the nuclear issue if it had some positive indication from Tehran. It appears that, although Washington would resort to extreme measures against Tehran if it had to, it would prefer a negotiated settlement. This could lead to more overt talks between the two sides.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former two-term Iranian president and chief of the Expediency Council -- the highest political body in the country --expressed confidence Oct. 5 that the United States and/or Israel would not attack Iran because they understand the negative consequences. Rafsanjani also disclosed that the Islamic republic had added to its arsenal a modifiedShahab-3 missile with a range of 2,000 km.
On the same day, in Brussels, a senior U.S. official at a meeting with Canadian and EU officials about the Iranian nuclear program, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters the United States does not have any reason to engage in discussions with Iran to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. The official said Washington had received no indications from Tehran that the latter was ready to bargain, but said the Bush administration would be watching closely for signs from Iran that it was interested in resolving the matter through talks.
The United States, while preparing for possible air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities in the event Washington deems such action necessary, is much more interested in negotiating with the clerical regime than officials let on. Given the U.S. preference, and Iran's realization (contrary to its public proclamations) that it risks an attack from the United States or Israel should it approach crossing the nuclear threshold, the two states could engage in more overt negotiations.
Stratfor has, on several occasions, discussed the back-channel negotiations between Washington and Tehran regarding the issue of rebuilding Iraq. In fact, it was just last week U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington wanted to involve Iran in efforts to stabilize Iraq. Iran and the United States repeatedly have admitted talking to one another albeit briefly and behind the scenes.
That said, the United States so far has avoided any direct dealings with Iran regarding its nuclear program. It has dealt with Iran through Russia; the EU trio of Britain, France and Germany; and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. Doing so has created problems where the Bush administration has had the difficult task of going along with a Western consensus on dealing with Iran's efforts to develop nuclear technology. In fact, this latest development -- Washington expressing interest in opening direct and more public negotiations with Tehran -- is also the outcome of the United States' European allies trying to get Washington to agree to offer incentives as a means of thwarting Iran's bid to militarize nuclear technology.
Though Washington has dealt with the North Korean nuclear case by relying heavily on Chinese involvement, it does not enjoy the same luxury with Iran. Not only does it not have an equivalent to Beijing regarding Iran, the Islamic republic is much more geopolitically significant than North Korea --which is perhaps why Washington is even considering direct dealings with Iran.
Tehran will try to manipulate Washington's interest in talking to its advantage and will try to drive a hard bargain. But before that, Washington will have to see how Iran really entertains the offer -- beyond showing off its rockets.
It appears the issue has reached an inflection point. The United States and Iran have muddled along for the past two years with on-again, off-again back-channel talks over Iraq and nuclear weapons. There will be a post-U.S. election shift. Irrespective of the outcome, U.S. President George W. Bush will forever be relieved of re-election concerns, and what he does will be a function of the Iranian response to the U.S. offer of dialogue.
TEHRAN - Iran will not cede to international demands that it suspend all activities related to the enrichment of uranium and the country is prepared for both confrontation or negotiations, the Islamic republic's top national security official said.
"We have said clearly that we will not apply the second part of the resolution concerning the total suspension of enrichment," Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani was quoted as saying by state television.
"We have suspended enrichment voluntarily and we will not accept any constraints," he added.
The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 18 passed a resolution calling on Iran to "immediately" widen a suspension of enrichment to include all uranium enrichment-related activities -- such as making centrifuges, converting yellowcake into UF6 feed gas, and constructing a heavy water reactor.
Iran, facing a November 25 deadline, risks being referred to the UN Security Council if it fails to comply.
"To sort out this case, there are two possibilities," Rowhani said.
"Either we find a political solution and close the case (at the IAEA) or we move towards confrontation. We are ready for both."
Under IAEA pressure, Iran suspended enrichment in October last year after reaching a deal with Britain, France and Germany.
The country, suspected of using an atomic energy drive as a cover for weapons development, had been asked to halt enrichment pending the completion of an IAEA probe.
Depending on the level of purification, enriched uranium can be used either as fuel for a civilian reactor or as the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.
Iran says it only wants to generate electricity, and emphasises that enrichment is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- the treaty overseen by the IAEA -- if for peaceful purposes.
Here's how the deal works, or rather how it doesn't: Iran continues to play games with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which continues to pass resolutions demanding that Iran end its nuclear program - resolutions that Iran continues to ignore.
It's unlikely the United Nations and the Europeans will have much success negotiating with Tehran, but they need to keep the pressure on, like a good cop. Meanwhile, Washington can play bad cop and try to get its message across in less subtle fashion.
For example, is it only a coincidence that the United States has just agreed to sell the Israelis 500 bunker-buster bombs - the kind that could be used to destroy underground nuclear facilities like Iran's uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz?
That the sale was made public indicates that not just a diplomatic message is being sent.
Paul Greenberg is editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
New York Sun Staff Editorial
October 6, 2004
The warning issued by Prime Minister Sharon on Monday - that Israel is taking measures to protect itself from Iran - is the best news to come over the wires in weeks. This followed a statement, quoted last month in Maariv, from the prime minister's national security adviser, Giora Eiland, who said that Iran will reach the "point of no return" in its nuclear program by November. Zev Chafets, a former aide to another prime minister, Menachem Begin, noted in a recent column that "point of no return" was the same phrase that Begin used when he decided to launch, in 1981, a pre-emptive strike that destroyed the reactor at the center of Saddam's a-bomb program, Osirak. Begin's daring defense minister then was the same Ariel Sharon who is premier today.
This all comes in the context of an American presidential election in which neither the incumbent nor the challenger is offering a practical strategy for confronting Iran's ambitions to own an Abomb. It is true that both President Bush and Senator Kerry agreed at last week's presidential debate that the biggest threat America faces is the potential of terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction. Neither dealt in any convincing way with the fact that the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, is bent on building nuclear weapons. While both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry say they oppose allowing Iran to get nuclear weapons, neither has been exactly forthright about their plan to prevent it.
Mr. Kerry's plan, such as he was able to articulate it, involves relying on the French and Germans, of all people, and then giving the Iranians some nuclear fuel. He takes Americans for fools. It's a wonder the senator didn't simply offer to make the mullahs a bomb. The mullahs themselves promptly reacted by mocking the senator, saying they don't want to have to rely on foreigners for their nuclear fuel. Mr. Bush's plan, as he was able to articulate it in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, involves saying, "All options are on the table, of course, in any situation. But diplomacy is the first option." The best that can be said about Mr. Bush is that he hasn't bought into the formal advice of appeasement being promulgated by the Council on Foreign Relations.
The fact that Mr. Bush is being pressured so publicly by the foreign policy establishment to warn Israel off its own defense may be why Mr. Sharon has begun to send the signals he's sending. He knows that the people will understand. The New York Times may have, back in 1981, reacted to Begin's heroism by issuing an editorial that began, "Israel's sneak attack on a French-built nuclear reactor near Baghdad was an act of inexcusable and shortsighted aggression." But Mr. Sharon knows that the Times's own editor, Max Frankel, eventually admitted that the editorial was a mistake. American public opinion, across a wide spectrum, always understood Begin's wisdom.
Today Senator Biden's rival for the job of secretary of state in the Kerry administration, Richard Holbrooke, is quoted by Mr. Chafets as saying, "In 1981, the Israelis attacked the Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak. President Reagan personally criticized Israel. Today, we all recognize that Israel was 100% right to do it." Vice President Cheney famously sent a handwritten thank-you note to the Israeli commander of the raid, noting that the Israeli action had made the job easier for America in the 1991 Gulf War, during which Mr. Cheney served as secretary of defense.
These columns have long argued that the best outcome in Iran - and the one American policy would most wisely bend every effort to promote - would be a democratic revolution that would bring a government in Tehran that is free, peaceful, and friendly. Israel's warning time is running out. It would not be surprising to see, between now and November 2, Mr. Bush come under growing pressure to warn Israel against taking action. Whoever ends up as president, the question to consider is which is worse politically, that tumult might erupt after an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites - or Iran getting the nuclear bomb on your watch?
TEHRAN - An Iranian man convicted of armed robbery, banditry and drug trafficking has been hanged in public in the central city of Isfahan, the local judiciary said Wednesday.
The man, who was hanged on Monday, was identified as Mehrzad Vajeb-al Hoghogh, a 30-year-old mechanic who already had a criminal record. He was convicted of heading a five-member crime gang.
The judiciary, in a statement, said the purpose of the public hanging was to "inflict terror in the minds of the criminals". Before being strung up, the man was ordered to warn onlookers about the dangers of "socialising with inappropriate people".
Murder, armed robbery, rape, apostasy and serious drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Iran.
According to reports in Iran's main newspapers and other media monitored by AFP, at least 79 people have been executed in Iran since January 1.
Amnesty International has reported that at least 108 executions took place in 2003 and another 113 in 2002.
SMCCDI Note:The Islamic regime uses various labels, such as, Drug Smuggler, Spy, Rapist, Bandit or Hooligan in order to qualify its armed opponents in an effort to help its European and Japanese Collaborators in their effort to justify the continuation of their Economic relations with the Mullahcracy.
Thanks for keeping this thread going. When traveling I have very little time to keep up with the world and this thread is a big help w/r/t Iran.