© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Tehran would welcome John Kerry's proposal to supply nuclear fuel, Hossein Musavian, the head Iran's Supreme National Security Council's foreign policy committee, announced today.
First outlined in a June speech, Kerry's plan to provide Iran with nuclear fuel in exchange for a pledge to use it for peaceful purposes only was unveiled to the American public during the first presidential debate.
"I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes," Kerry said in a critique of the Bush administration's handling of Tehran's nuclear program, which the Iranians claim is only for civilian purposes.
"If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together," Kerry said of Tehran. "The president did nothing."
Initially, Iran rejected the idea, saying that reliance on foreign supplies would jeopardize its nuclear program.
Musavian told Reuters that Kerry's offer was also dismissed because officials could not tell if it was genuine or merely rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign. "If it is part of Kerry's election campaign ... we do not want to be part of it," he said. "Let the Americans play their game themselves."
But, now, the Iranians have changed their tune. Musavian says the Islamic Republic would welcome what Kerry running mate John Edwards has described as a "great bargain," and the proposal will be reviewed. Iran, however, should be allowed to pursue its "peaceful nuclear program," he made clear.
"Iran welcomes any constructive proposal from any American candidate," Musavian told Reuters. But "our legitimate right of pursuing peaceful nuclear technology should be considered," he said.
Musavian blames a history of "hostile" U.S. policies toward Iran, going back to the Reagan era, for his refusal to engage in direct talks on the nuclear issue with Washington. "It is because of 20 years of mistrust ... Up to now, Americans have not shown any sign of good will," he charged.
Edwards told the Washington Post in August that if Iran failed to take Kerry's "great bargain," it would be confirmation that the country is building nuclear weapons under the cover of developing a peaceful source of power.
WorldNetDaily has previously reported that Tehran is already engaged in an ambitious program to develop nuclear weapons to compliment its recently attained ballistic missile capabilities. According to the latest intelligence reports, Iran has decided at the highest levels of government to produce a bomb within the next four months.
Edwards assures that if Tehran accepted the proposal and subsequently cheated, Kerry could be counted upon to pull together a coalition of European allies to impose sanctions. "If we are engaging with Iranians in an effort to reach this great bargain and if, in fact, this is a bluff that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons capability, then we know that our European friends will stand with us," Edwards said.
Keep up the great work DoctorZIn, The fever of Liberty is spreading, Afghanistan seems to be infected with it :-)
By Mike Collett-White
Inside the compound, UN workers explained to Afghans voting for the first time how democracy worked a simple tick beside their candidate of choice
AFGHAN men and women across the volatile south ignored the threat of militant attacks on Saturday, queuing at polling stations in villages and towns that were Taliban heartland three years ago.
In the main southern city of Kandahar, the atmosphere was festive as large crowds of men pushed to get into a voting site near the blue-tiled Kherqi Sharif mosque.
On the other side of the street, a trickle of women covered in burqa veils entered a school to take part in Afghanistans first direct presidential poll.
We came here to vote for peace and stability and freedom for women, said Raihana, a 37-year-old mother of eight who lived in exile in Iran for 14 years to flee war. I am illiterate and I want a chance to learn, she said from behind her heavy veil. If the Taliban were in power, our lives would still be in ruins.
Preparations for the election were plagued by logistical challenges and security threats in the south and southeast, where the death toll from guerrilla attacks among civilians and security personnel has been highest. The 472 polling stations in five southern provinces are far fewer than the United Nations would have liked, voter registration is lower than average and fewer than 300,000 women will vote here in this ultra-conservative Islamic society.
In some ways the success or otherwise of the election in these troubled areas will be the true test for Afghanistan and for the United States government, which wants to hold up the process as a foreign policy success and an example for Iraq.
Urban terrorism: On the eve of the landmark ballot, Kandahar governor Yusuf Pashtun warned of the threat of urban terrorism, or a major Taliban attack, in heavily populated areas.
So far these have failed to materialise, although Afghan soldiers intercepted a truck carrying 60,000 litres of fuel and primed with explosives outside the city on Thursday, averting what Pashtun said could have been a catastrophic blast.
Officials in Kunar province, east of Kabul, said several rockets were fired in two villages overnight but there were no casualties. Security in Kandahar was tight, with Afghan police carrying rifles guarding polling sites and searching people entering to vote. US armoured Humvee vehicles mounted with machine guns rolled through town in a show of strength.
People were likely to be more nervous about voting in remote districts of Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand and Uruzugan provinces, where Taliban remnants have been most deadly.
President Hamid Karzai, who is from Kandahar and an ethnic Pashtun like most in the south, is expected to do well in the region, and many voters said they had backed the favourite. At one polling site, young members of Karzais campaign team wearing baseball caps emblazoned with his picture told voters to support him, in an apparent breach of election rules.
Inside the compound, UN workers explained to Afghans voting for the first time how democracy worked a simple tick beside their candidate of choice.
This is the first time I have voted in my life, beamed Mullah Abdul Ghafar, 56, through a toothless grin. Previous governments did not allow me to choose my leader, said the man, his white beard matching his turban.
Despite euphoria in central Kandahar, the vote is not universally popular across the south, where some favour the ousted Taliban and its strict interpretation of Islamic laws to a US-backed government in Kabul propped up by thousands of foreign soldiers in the country.
Even some of those who voted on the coolest morning of the year in this normally hot and dusty city were not wholly critical of the hardline militia, widely credited for bringing better security than exists today. There were a number of Afghan Taliban who were good people, but the Pakistanis and Arabs tried to destroy our lives, said Abdul Zahir, a 43-year-old with a greying beard and grey turban. reuters
Posted Saturday, October 9, 2004
KABOL, 9 Oct. (IPS) Elections in Afghanistan, the first more or less free and democratic exercise ever held in this central Asian nation, ended amid controversy over an ink, supposed to be indelible used to mark voters fingers to prevent fraud but found that it could be washed easily, leading to fears of manipulations.
More than 10.5 million Afghanis, including for the first time in the history of the Muslims dominated country over 4 million women went to some 22,000 polling stations -- women voted at separate booths from the men, in keeping with this nation's conservative Islamic leaning -- across the county to elect their president, with Mr. Hamed Karzai, the incumbent President-Prime Minister installed two years ago by the West and backed by the United States given by most analysts as the favourite.
However, the process, considered by most observers as historic without the violence predicted by the remnants of the Taleban and other islamist groups opposed to free elections was suspended in some polling stations temporarily due to an ink supposed to be indelible but denounced by the majority of the candidates as being washable.
Fourteen candidates out of the 15 fighting for the top job, including Mr. Yunes Qanooni, a Tajik considered as the top rival to Mr. Karzai, an ethnic Pashtoun, called for the vote to be halted because of irregularities.
"To prevent fraud in the process of the election, Qanooni wants the election immediately stopped", the French news agency AFO quoted one Qanoonis aide as having said.
Thirteen other candidates also called for the election to be halted, saying it was not legitimate, candidate Abdul Satar Sirat said, claiming to speak on behalf of the others.
"We 14 candidates announce that the election should be stopped immediately", he told reporters after a meeting at his house in Kabol, adding that they would not recognize the outcome as valid.
"Today's election is not a legitimate election. We are not a part of today's election", Mr. Serat said after a meeting of most of the 15 candidates and the representatives of the others.
Flanked by all those who attended the meeting, Serat accused election authorities of favouring the US-backed Karzai and not being able to prevent multiple voting.
But officials minimised the problem, blaming some electoral officials for using the wrong pen to mark voters' fingers with ink, which was found to wash off easily.
Halting the vote at this time is unjustified and would deny these individuals the right to vote", said election official Ray Kennedy.
Mr. Farooq Wardak, an official of the Joint Election Monitoring Board said: "We would not simply stop the elections as they ask but we do our assessments and the JEMB will decide either to stop or not stop", he said.
Mrs Jalal, the lone female candidate told the American news agency Associated Press: "The ink that is being used can be rubbed off in a minute. Voters can vote 10 times".
"It is not only the ink issue but there are several other unlawful acts", the aide said.
"For example in the places where there are more Karzai supporters the polling stations are open but where there are more supporters for other candidates the stations are closed with officials saying 'there are no ballot papers, there is no ink", he explained.
Election workers reprimanded several Karzai campaign officials for coming to lobby voters at site, a violation of electoral law.
In his first reaction to the protest, Mr. Karzai, who voted in the presidential palace early morning, ruled out cancellation of the elections, saying that he would respect the outcome of the polling.
Journalists covering the race said as the voting ended, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born American ambassador was discussing with some of the contesters, including Mr. Qanooni.
Around 800.000 Afghanis living in neighbouring Pakistan and 400.000 in Iran also took part in the exercise.
Contrary to neighbouring Islamic Republic of Iran, where women can vote and also be elected to the Majles, or parliament, but can not become president, Afghanistans Islam-based laws allows women running for the presidency, as confirmed by the presence of Mrs. Masouda Jala, a doctor who is among the 15 remaining candidates out of the original eighteen.
Voting was also mired with violence, as election officials reported the arrest of three Pakistanis who planned to detonate an explosive truck in the center of the city on polling day.
"This would have caused hundreds of deaths ... and the electoral process would have been derailed in the area", said Col. Ishaq Paiman, the Defense Ministry deputy spokesman.
A flurry of rockets landed in several cities around the country on Thursday and Friday, including one that hit a parking lot near the U.S. Embassy and another in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
The polling was observed by around 5,000 observers, including local agents from 35 political parties and 600foreign observers.
Former Afghan King, the ageing Mohammad Zaher Shah had called on Afghans to vote freely for their own favourite in the country's upcoming landmark presidential elections.
"I, as the father of the nation request you, dearest, to take part in this historical event and vote for your favourite candidate", he said in a statement on Wednesday, making it clear that his own favourite was Karzai, who bestowed on him the title of the Father of the nation after he was picked as Prime Minister by an emergency Loya Jirga, or grand council of tribal leaders in 2001.
Other prominent figures like former Prime Minister Borhanedddin Rabbani, have announced their support for Karzai.
In a recent talk with the Persian-Pashtoun service of the BBC, Mr. Karzai pledged inclusive government if elected, saying he wanted to get away from the coalition-style administration of the last three years which "had not got anywhere".
"I want to build a government which reflects the whole Afghan people", he said.
Bellow is a glossary to the Saturday elections:
CANDIDATES: Originally 18, including interim leader Hamed Karzai, former Interior Minister Yunes Qanooni, Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Masouda Jalal, the only female candidate.
STAKES: The vote is Afghanistan's first-ever direct presidential vote and first national ballot since the fall of the Taleban, the ultra orthodox Muslims who ruled over the country before being booted out on November 2001 by the Americans, imposing strict Islamic laws, forbidding music and television and women from working. They also destroyed a big state of Lord Buddha in the city of Bamiyan. Karzai is hoping a victory will solidify his rule and allow him to take bolder steps to rebuild the country and fight the influence of warlords that still hold sway in much of the countryside.
POLLS OPEN: From 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. (0230 GMT to 1130 GMT) But was extended for another 2 hours due to long queues in some polling stations.
VOTING CENTRES: 4,807, each with separate polling booths so that men and women may vote apart to respect the country's Islamic customs.
VOTING STATIONS: There are 21,521 stations within the voting centres. Of these 12,354 will be for men, and 9,187 for women.
MONITORS: More than 16,000 domestic observers but only about 225 international monitors will be involved in overseeing the vote to guard against fraud and intimidation _ a turnout which has disappointed the United Nations.
VOTERS: Some 10.5 million people have registered within Afghanistan, about 740,000 in Pakistan, and there are believed to be another 400,000 to 600,000 eligible voters in Iran. 41 percent of those registered in Afghanistan are women, but that ratio is lower among Afghan refugees in Pakistan and in the deeply conservative Pashtoun belt in south-eastern Afghanistan.
POPULATION: There are believed to be about 25 million people in Afghanistan, though there has been no reliable census since decades of ruinous war forced millions to flee. Many have since returned.
RECENT HISTORY; Afghanistan was thrown into a bloody civil war from 1988, after the defeat of the Soviet Unions mighty Red Army at the hands of the Jihadis, or mujahedeens, with fighters loyal to the then prime minister Golbodin Hekmatyar, a CIA informer belonging to the dominant Pashtoun ethnic, fighting forces of the Tajik warlord Ahmad Shjah Masoud, known as the Lion of Panjshir, killed on 9 September 2001 by Arab terrorists sent by Al-Qaedas Saudi leader Ossama Ben Laden, 2 days before attacking targets in New York and Washington.
On 1996, the Taleban, supported by Pakistan and a population tired of 20 years of unabated civil war and Soviet occupation, enter Kabol, led by Mollah Mohammad Omar.
RESULTS: Election officials say it will take two weeks to count the vote because of the remote terrain of much of Afghanistan and a lack of experience with democratic votes. They hope to have partial results sooner, but say they don't know when a winner will be announced.
In separate announcements on the final day of the presidential campaign Wednesday, Syed Ishaq Gilani and Abdul Hasseb Aryan said they were dropping out of the race.
ENDS AFGHAN ELECTIONS 91004
* 50 percent voter turnout: International Organisation for Migration
* Afghans want peace at home
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan exercised their right to vote in Afghanistans first presidential elections on Saturday under tight security.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the agency administering the election, declared around 50 percent voter turnout. The voting was simultaneously held in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Many voters said they voted for current Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Some told Daily Times that they voted for Mr Karzai because they want stability in their war-ravaged homeland.
The first Afghan to vote in Islamabad was 19-year old Moqadasa Siddiqui. I am so very happy and proud. I hope that this election will bring peace to my country and I hope that my family will be able to return to our homeland, she observed
The polls were peaceful throughout Pakistan, except for a few minor incidents in Peshawar and Hangu. The polling process was, however, not disrupted, said IOM Director for Out-of-Country Registration Peter Erben at a press conference.
He said voter turnout was good in Pakistan. In Pakistan, the projected midday figure showed that 350,000 people had voted with four hours remaining before polling centres closed, he said.
After polling concluded, the ballot boxes were sealed in the presence of IOM officials. They will be sent to Kabul under IOM supervision for vote counting.
IOM registered around 740,000 Afghan refugees in Pakistan to vote in the presidential election. In Iran, 600,000 registered Afghans voted. Mr Erben said IOM hopes for good turnout in Iran. In Pakistan, about 410,000 Afghans registered in the North West Frontier Province, 320,000 registered in Balochistan and 10,000 registered in Islamabad. Voters were not registered in Sindh and Punjab.
In Islamabad, a heavy police force was present at the capitals four polling stationstwo each for male and female voters. Inside the polling stations, Afghan origin security personnel conducted at least two body searches of everyone entering.
Voting began at 7am and concluded peacefully at 4pm. Before noon, a lacklustre response by voters was witnessed. However, a few hours before the end of polling, voters turned out.
I have cast my vote in favour of Mr Karzai because I feel he is our president and can ensure stability in our country, which saw so many years of bloody conflicts, said young Afghan refugee Ramin Hashmi. He said a majority of Afghan refugees living in Islamabad voted for Mr Karzai. He added that other presidential candidates were not as popular among the refugees as Mr Karzai.
Another Afghan refugee, Hafizullah Khan, who also voted for Mr Karzai, expressed hope that after the installation of an elected government in Afghanistan, the law and order situation would improve.
He said he and the majority of Afghan refugees wish to return to their homeland if there is an improvement in the law and order situation.
EU not against Iran's civilian nuclear program
BRUSSELS (IRNA) -- The European Union Foreign Ministers' Council is to discuss Iran's nuclear program during its meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
The ministers will focus on Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the IAEA's upcoming report on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program in November, EU sources told journalists in Brussels Friday.
"The vision that we had in the past is still there. We had in the past a position with Iran where we were not against the development of a civil nuclear program, where we were offering a trade and cooperation program, where we were offering support for WTO membership," said the EU sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Those still could be parts of our relationship with Iran but not in the current circumstances. The nuclear issue is crucial. We believe that it is very important that the EU, the U.S., the G8, Russia, Japan, we all stand together in a way on this issue that dos not allow Iran to drive a wedge between us," stressed the sources.
"The nuclear issue must be resolved. A military nuclear Iran is not acceptable to us and would fundamentally destabilize the region," added the sources.
The Council is expected to discuss the development of EU-Libya relations against the background of the December 2003 announcement by Libya that it would dismantle WMD programs.
As part of its policy of engagement with Libya, the Council is likely to decide to lift the EU arms embargo on Libya, which was imposed in 1986 by the European bloc.
The Council is expected to underline the importance of cooperation on migration issues and of improvements in the human rights situation in Libya.
It is likely to express concern over the plight of Bulgarian medical workers arrested in 1999.
On the Middle East, the Council is expected to deplore the Israeli atrocities committed in Gaza and condemn all acts of terrorism.
The Council will also discuss the issue of whether to lift the arms embargo on China.
The EU foreign ministers' meeting will also cover the situation in Sudan, Burma, the western Balkans and ties with India.
Russia should speed up construction of Bushehr power plant: MPs
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) -- MP Reza Talai-Nik of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said on Saturday that the current exchanges of visits by Iranian and Russian officials indicate the two countries serious determination to deepen and expand relations in the economic, political, and defense spheres.
The two countries mutual interest in strengthening ties and implementing the previously signed memoranda of understanding is logical and necessary to defend the national security and interests of the two states, he added.
He stressed that Russia should compensate for the delays and expedite the process of peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran in order to pave the way for the further expansion of bilateral relations.
The MP also said that Iran and Russia play a strategic role in responding to regional threats and Tehran-Moscow political, economic and defense cooperation is essential to prevent U.S. domination of the Middle East.
Meanwhile, MP Shokrollah Attarzadeh said on Friday that since Russia has resisted the U.S. pressure to discontinue its nuclear cooperation with Iran and has continued construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iran should adopt a positive attitude toward Iran-Russia bilateral relations.
Attarzadeh, who represents Bushehr in the Majlis, added that every country considers its interests on every occasion and if the Russians believe that good relations with Iran is in their best interests, they will resist the pressure even more than in the past.
MP Javad Jahangirzadeh, who represents Urumieh in the Majlis, said on Friday that Iranian and Russian officials discussions during exchanges of visits scheduled for the next few days should focus on strengthening mutual confidence and bilateral ties.
As two great regional powers, Iran and Russia play a significant role in maintaining regional peace and stability, he noted, but criticized certain Russian officials for their contradictory statements in regard to Irans problems in the international arena, adding that such remarks may strain relations between the two countries.
MP Hamid-Reza Haj-Babayi of the Majlis Presiding Board said on Friday that the Russians are well aware of the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran is an important country in the region.
Haj-Babayi said that the Islamic Republic of Iran has prioritized construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant within the framework of its plan to develop nuclear technology and the plant will play a special role in Irans economic and industrial development.
However, if Russia continues delaying the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Irans Atomic Energy Agency (IAEO) should suspend the contract, he added.
Political analyst Ali Khorram said on Friday that Russia plays a special role in Irans nuclear program and since it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, consultations with Russia on the nuclear issue can be useful.
Dr. Khorram, who was formerly Irans representative at the UN disarmament and human rights commissions, said that lessons learned in Irans diplomacy on the nuclear issue could also be useful in discussions with Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf littoral states on the demarcation of maritime borders.
The United States believes Iran's uranium enrichment is entering the full production stage from the experimental phase, a senior U.S. administration official said Saturday.
Noting Iran has converted "several tons" of uranium into hexafluoride, the feed material for centrifuges used to make weapons-grade uranium, the official told Kyodo News that it implies a "pretty extensive operation."
The official, requesting anonymity, indicated it would be unavoidable for the United States to seek to bring the Iranian nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
"They don't have any intention of giving up the nuclear program," he said.
In late September, the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution censuring Iran's nuclear development program and urging Tehran to immediately halt its uranium enrichment activities.
Iran said earlier this month that it had processed several tons of uranium to prepare for enrichment.
The official said Iran should give up weapons of mass destruction programs by following the path of Libya.
After months of negotiations with the United States and Britain, Libya announced last December that it will voluntarily abandon all its weapons of mass destruction programs and accept international weapons inspectors.
The official also urged Japan to cancel an oil development deal with Iran.
"It's just a risky proposition I think for Japan, which needs energy security, to be dealing with a country that's so suspect to pursuing nuclear weapons," the official said.
"That's one reason why we've said, 'Look elsewhere for supplies and fuel, Libya and elsewhere, you don't need to deal with Iran and it's better not to,'" he said.
Japan and Iran in February signed an agreement on an oil development project in Azadegan, southern Iran, one of the world's largest oil fields.
The official said Japan has assured the United States that it will not proceed with the Azadegan project if there is evidence that Iran is involved in a nuclear weapons program.
On Iran's reported development of a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers, the official said, "That's pretty close to what their missile range is."
"As long as they can now get the warhead to Eastern and Central Europe, which I think they can in this range, then they can intimidate" Europe, he said.
TEHRAN - Germany remained unbeaten under new coach Juergen Klinsmann with a 2-0 win over Iran thanks to goals from Fabian Ernst and Thomas Brdaric in a friendly before a frenzied men-only crowd of 110,000 on Saturday.
Iran were hosting a major world soccer power for the first time in decades and as well as a huge crowd in the stadium there were another 150,000 fans outside who could not get tickets.
Iranian women were not allowed to see the match after the football federation on Tuesday upheld a ban on them entering stadiums even though women are the Islamic country's most passionate fans. However, German women were allowed to attend.
Iran Denies to Have Welcomed Kerry's Nuke Offer
LONDON, Oct 10 (IranMania) - A senior Iranian official Sunday denied a report which said Tehran would welcome Senator John Kerry`s proposal for a 'great bargain' to solve dispute over Iran's nuclear program, Iran's State News Agency (IRNA) reported.
"US presidential candidate John Kerry`s proposal is part of his electoral campaigning and we are not interested in being drawn into such issues," head of the foreign policy committee at Iran`s Supreme National Security Council Hossein Mousavian said.
Reuters news agency had quoted him as having welcomed the proposal, virtually made by vice presidential candidate Senator John Edwards.
Edwards had said that Kerry would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability and if Iran did not accept this offer, it would confirm Iran wanted to make an atom bomb.
In a fax sent to IRNA, Mousavian said, "Reuters news agency has filed a news as if I had welcomed Kerry`s proposal. "But we are rejecting direct negotiations with Washington about Iran`s nuclear program due to the United States` antagonistic policies."
Iran to be Among World's Polyethylene Exporters
Sunday, October 10, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Oct 10 (IranMania) - Iran will be among biggest exporters of polyethylene in the world by 2007 with implementation of a project on transfer of polyethylene to western provinces by pipeline.
According to the Persian language daily 'Etemad' on Sunday, the project will transfer some 1.5 mln tons of ethylene from Assalouyeh and Mahshahr to five provinces of Kohgilouyeh and Boyer Ahmad, Lorestan, Kermanshah, Kurdestan and West Azarbaijan.
The 1,650 kilometers transfer pipeline would provide feedstock for projects of five petrochemical complexes. In the 11th Olefin Project, only one ethylene production unit will produce 1.2 mln tons in one year.
Some 360,000 tons of ethylene excess capacity of the 8th Olefin Project would also enter this pipeline. The value of investment in five petrochemical projects, with the production capacity of 1.650 mln, is estimated to reach over $1.440 bln.
It is predicted the five complexes would sale $1.110 bln. The 11th Olefin Project in Assalouyeh, fed by 1.5 mln tons of ethane per year, will produce 1.2 mln tons of ethylene. Total investment of this project, including the Olefin unit, pipeline and five petrochemical complexes in western parts of the country, is estimated at $1.629 bln in addition to 4,480 bln rials.
The project will enjoy a 22% capital return. Inauguration of five petrochemical complexes, with production capacity of 1,650 tons of various polyethylene and ethylene glycol, would meet the needs of domestic consumption of Iran`s western, northern and central provinces.
Moreover, Iraq, Turkey and Syria can become good markets for export of Iran's polymer products. Iran's net imports amounted to some 64,000 in 2002 and it is predicted the export figure would hit 2.5 mln tons by 2007 through inauguration of underway projects.
Newsha Tavakolian/Polaris, for The New York TimesDespite growing right-wing antagonism in Iran toward foreign companies, appliances like these Korean-made refrigerators are still sold widely.
EHRAN, Oct. 9 - Iran's hard-line politicians who came to power in February are spearheading a drive to stop economic liberalization, just as they are cracking down on social and political freedoms.
In August, Parliament passed a bill that gave it the right to order the government to cancel government contracts with two Turkish companies, forcing the moderate president, Mohammad Khatami, to cancel an official trip to Turkey. The newspaper Iran reported that three foreign companies canceled other investment agreements with Iran after Parliament passed the bill.
"From now on the government will not be able to negotiate with any foreign investor because they will tell the government that it does not have the necessary authority," said Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, the government spokesman.
He said the moves by the hard-liners were aimed at paralyzing the government and shutting it out of international affairs.
The hard-liners took over Parliament in February after an election in which supporters of reform stayed home, angry that most of their candidates had been thrown off the ballot and disillusioned with the pace of change.
Parliament claimed that the two deals with Turkey threatened national security. One was with Turkcell to operate Iran's second cellular phone network. The other one was with a Turkish-led engineering consortium, Tepe-Akfen-Vie, to run Iran's new airport. Hard-liners contended that the deal with Turkcell would permit it to listen to cellphone calls in Iran, and they accused TAV of having business with Israel.
The Revolutionary Guards shut down the Imam Khomeini airport on its opening day in May and threw out the Turkish company's staff. The company said it had spent $15 million on staff training and equipment.
Parliament also tried to prevent the government from selling state-run banks, but that move was blocked by the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, for reasons he did not explain. The government had hoped to sell selling $5.95 billion in state assets by next March, but Parliament has also rejected that plan, at least for now.
After the victory of the 1979 revolution, the government confiscated privately run industries. Most industries are outdated now and cannot operate at full capacity.
The hard-liners' actions come as Iran is benefiting from high prices for crude oil and a growing economy. The economy grew 6.7 percent last year but more than 80 percent of that came from oil revenues, and there has been double-digit inflation.
The official rate of unemployment is 15 percent, but the percentage among young people is higher. A million people are expected to enter the job market every year, and unemployment could grow to crisis levels.
"Only a modern and scientific method can resolve these problems," said Ahmad Zeidabadi, a journalist and political analyst in Tehran. "This group who has come to power is very traditional and relies on backward methods."
Mr. Ramezanzadeh, the government spokesman, said Mr. Khatami's government had been able to attract more foreign investments in the past two years than in the previous two decades. One of the largest contracts, for $460 million, was signed last October with Renault of France to start producing a car known as the L-90. Hard-liners oppose the deal.
Political analysts had predicted hard-liners would pursue a more open economic policy ahead of presidential elections in May 2005, to win support from an electorate frustrated with social and political repression. During the elections in February, newspapers close to the hard-liners suggested "a Chinese model," raising hopes that the new group might pursue economic prosperity.
"Instead they are implementing a North Korean model," said Hamidreza Jalaipour, a sociologist at Tehran University. "They are closing economic, social and political liberties."
Rahim Ostkui, an opposition economist, said Parliament's measures would damage economic development and production. "We should expect production to drop, unemployment, poverty and corruption to increase with these policies," he said.
A senior Islamic regime official denied, today, a yesterday's Reuters report, which had stated that the Mullahcracy would welcome Senator John Kerry's proposal for a 'great nuclear bargain' to solve dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
This evident one day flip-flop move follows most likely the sudden understanding, by the regime's strategists and its US based apologists, of the negative consequences for their Democrat protege's victory in the upcoming US Presidential elections.
Reuters had quoted Mousavian, head of the foreign policy committee at the regime's Supreme National Security Council, as having welcomed the proposal, made by Senator John Edwards. The Democrat VP candidate had said that John Kerry would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability.
In a fax sent to IRNA, Mousavian said, "Reuters news agency has filed a news as if I had welcomed Kerry`s proposal. "But we are rejecting direct negotiations with Washington about Iran`s nuclear program due to the United States` antagonistic policies."
Mousavian is the former Islamic regime's Ambassador in Germany. He had to return back to Iran following the scandal raised over the 1997 Mykonos trial of Berlin.
The accredited Ambassador was involved in the murders of several Iranian dissidents, on the German soil, by offering the necessary logistics to the regime's hit squads.
JERUSALEM - Somewhere between sanctions and air strikes lurks a third option for those who seek to stop Iran's atomic programme in its tracks: sabotage.
Politically deniable -- unlike failed diplomacy -- and much subtler than region-rattling military offensives, covert action of the kind used elsewhere by Israel and the United States could already be under way against the Islamic republic, experts say.
"Iran has been trying to go nuclear since the 1970s and has not yet managed," said Gad Shimron, a veteran of Israel's Mossad spy service who now writes on defence issues.
"Who's to say there has not been sabotage already, now proving its worth?"
Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper in August quoted Bush administration officials as saying sabotage tactics were being considered for Tehran. The Jewish state has said "all options" are kosher for preventing its arch-foe getting the bomb.
The United States and Israel accuse Iran of concealing a plan to build a bomb, but Tehran says its nuclear programme is dedicated solely to meeting electricity demand.
Independent experts question, however, whether any disruption of Iran's supply lines through sabotage or menacing of its nuclear scientists would have a lasting effect on a network that has resisted scrutiny from the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"Historically, sabotage has served to delay programmes but has not been successful in terminating them," said Gary Samore, a former White House adviser on non-proliferation now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
He cited a Norwegian heavy water plant struck by saboteurs between 1942 and 1944 to stop the Nazis getting the bomb -- a quest finally laid to rest by Germany's defeat in World War Two.
"Delay is good if, in the meantime, something conclusive happens -- either a change of regime or a successful war."
Some Middle East security experts say even delays have key strategic value in a region notorious for its instability.
COVERT CAMPAIGN PRECEDED OSIRAQ
The precedent usually cited for a military strike on Iranian atomic sites is Israel's 1981 bombing of the Iraqi reactor at Osiraq. That move drove Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme underground until it was uncovered by the IAEA in 1991.
Well before Osiraq, a quieter campaign was in full swing.
Nuclear components destined for Baghdad were blown up in a French port. An Egyptian nuclear physicist hired by Iraq was killed in his Paris hotel. Bombs exploded near an Italian firm supplying Saddam Hussein with laboratories for atomic testing.
Saddam blamed the United States and Israel for the sabotage spree. Neither country commented, but then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin told an American interviewer he hoped France and Italy had "learned their lesson" for helping Iraq.
Tehran fears it could be next in line after U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam last year.
"The Iranians are very clear about what happened to the Iraqi nuclear programme and would have learned their lessons," said Alex Vatanka, an analyst with Jane's Sentinel Security Assessments. "In terms of supply lines and technology, they are extremely unlikely to use limited sources."
Among Iran's nuclear suppliers have been North Korea, Pakistan and China, all hard for Western diplomats to monitor.
Under its 1993 Counterproliferation Initiative, Washington claimed the right to act covertly against illicit weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes. But a later U.S.-led treaty, the Proliferation Security Initiative, includes Russia, which also openly provides Iran with nuclear know-how.
A QUESTION OF JURISDICTION
While no one accuses countries friendly to the United States of knowingly arming Iran, private citizens may not feel such constraint, a fact that could complicate sabotage attempts.
"The understanding in the intelligence world is that those individuals who help rogue regimes knowingly put themselves at risk of reprisal," said Shimron.
"An agency that wants to operate in a friendly country has to weigh the possible fallout, but usually there is enough coordination between governments to ensure that it all goes smoothly as long as no one is needlessly hurt."
Vatanka said several Iranians who acquired scientific training in the West had answered a call by Tehran to return and work on their homeland's atomic programme.
A German man is also under investigation for what national media charged was an attempt to supply Iran with components for nuclear weapons.
"If the Israelis believe sabotage is the only way of stopping Iran getting the bomb, I think they will go with it, even if this ends up harming relations with Europe," Vatanka said. "The Europeans have invested enormous diplomacy in Iran, but that means little to those planning Israel's self-defence."
A new report by the Dubai think-tank Gulf Research Centre says Tehran could retaliate for any sabotage on its atomic plans by ordering proxies to attack U.S. targets in the Gulf or stepping up support for Palestinian militants fighting Israel.
There are also risks if the secrecy around sabotage lapses.
In 1963, Swiss police nabbed an Israeli suspected of threatening the daughter of a German scientist linked with Egypt's missile programme. The ensuing trial clouded Israel's relations with West Germany and Switzerland and prompted the Mossad chief's resignation, although many historians believe it also served as a venue for publicising Egypt's military plans.
TEHRAN- An Iranian man convicted of armed robbery was publicly hanged in the southern city of Ahwaz, the official news agency IRNA reported.
The man, only identified as Mohammad D., was convicted of involvement in four armed robberies and "had terrified people by shooting and injuring them (and) stealing money and cars", a court statement said.
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 80 people have been executed in Iran this year.
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.
Russia urges Iran to heed IAEA's nuclear demands
10 Oct 2004 15:59:27 GMTSource: Reuters
TEHRAN, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Russia urged Iran on Sunday to heed the U.N. nuclear watchdog's call for it to suspend sensitive nuclear work that could be used to make atomic bomb material.
Iran, in turn, said it was ready to give whatever assurances were required to show that it will not use nuclear technology to make atomic weapons.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that all Iran asked in return was for the world to accept its right to a peaceful nuclear programme to generate electricity.
Iran hid parts of its nuclear programme for nearly two decades, fuelling U.S. accusations that it is secretly developing atomic arms.
Iran denies this but has refused to comply with demands made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make fuel for power reactors or for bombs.
Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Iran to reconsider.
"As (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has suggested before, it is better if Iran listens to the agency's call. This is better for everyone," he told a joint news conference in Tehran with Kharrazi.
The United States wants Iran's case to be sent to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions if Iran has not complied with IAEA demands by the time of the U.N. watchdog's next meeting in late November.
Iran last week said it had converted several tonnes of raw uranium to prepare it for enrichment.
READY TO GIVE ASSURANCES
"Nuclear technology, including enriching uranium, is Iran's right and Iran will never abandon its right," Kharrazi said.
"But at the same time Iran is ready to review all the proposals with which it can assure the international community that Iran's nuclear programme has no military purposes."
In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, a senior Iranian official said Tehran was even willing to listen to ideas from the United States, such as one put forward by Sen. John Kerry's running mate Sen. John Edwards, to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"Iran welcomes any constructive proposal from any American candidate," said Hossein Mousavian, Iran's delegation head at recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meetings.
Edwards has said a Kerry government would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability. If Iran refused the offer it would confirm it wants to make atomic weapons, Edwards has said.
Asked about Mousavian's comments Kharrazi confirmed the Iran was willing to listen to such proposals.
"We welcome any constructive proposal which preserves Iran's rights and also removes Western countries' concerns," he said.
Lavrov, whose country's technical support for Iran's nuclear programme has annoyed Washington, said Moscow and Tehran were in the final stages of reaching an agreement on the supply and return of nuclear fuel for Iran's first nuclear reactor which is being built with Russian help.
The Bushehr reactor in southern Iran is due to come onstream in late 2006.
TEHRAN (AFP) - Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here Sunday that Moscow was opposed to seeing Iran referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.
"To start thinking of any scenario which is not constructive to our point of view is premature and could be counter-productive," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi.
"We will be expecting the cooperation between Iran and the IAEA to continue," Lavrov added.
He was responding to a question over whether Russia would use its veto power at the Security Council if Iran was referred to the body by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
On September 18, the IAEA board called on Iran to "immediately" widen a suspension of enrichment to include all uranium enrichment-related activities.
Iran has so far refused to do so and is facing a November 25 deadline. It risks being referred to the Security Council, something the United States -- which accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons -- has been pushing for.
While Lavrov said it was "in Iran's and everybody's interest to suspend enrichment" activities, he gave no sign that Russia was willing to back away from a deal to build the Islamic republic's first nuclear plant and provide it with fuel.
On the provision of nuclear fuel, a deal that has been held up for several months amid a dispute over pricing and the return of spent fuel, Lavrov said he now expected a contract would be signed "in the near future".
And he said he saw "no linkage" between the deal and the November 25 deadline set by the IAEA.
For his part, Kharazi reiterated the regimes refusal to give up its work on the nuclear fuel cycle, but added Iran was "ready to accept all mechanisms to give proof that there is no deviation of the Iranian nuclear programme."
In this the first part of my own war gaming of Iranian responses to strikes against its nuclear program and presents an over-view of Iranian military history, assets, and capabilities. They are not exhaustive and in some cases been generalized in order to keep the size of the part down. The information presented are from open sources found on the internet and other reference books.
New reports recently indicated that the military has recently wargamed various scenarios involving conducting a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities to stop or delay their efforts to create a nuclear weapon. Those reports indicated that their war games resulted in an expanded conflict with Iran that could not be contained.
Since Iran could be the next target in the WOT, I wanted to give you an idea how IMHO Iran would/could respond and some of the wild card / variables that would have to be dealt with. The following scenario, with some modifications, could be seen if Israel conducts the preemptive strike OR if Iran conducts its OWN preemptive attack.
The historical background provides insight into potential actions by Iran and why. There are three key points that I think need to be examined.
1. Following the theocratic revolution of 1979, Iran wanted to be the defacto primary Islamic influence on not only the Persian Gulf but the larger world. The ability to make nuclear weapons would be the culmination of that strategic goal.
2. Religious ties to southern Iraq.
3. The Iran - Iraq war.
Irans efforts to influence world geopolitics started with the capture of our Embassy staff. It has since morphed into the active and covert support of terrorism throughout the world spreading the Iranian theocratic form of Shiite Islam. Its covert support of terrorism protected it from direct assault in the pre-9/11 world. Russia saw a natural ally against American influence in the middle east region and developed ties with Iran. But beyond opposing the Great Satan - America, the theocracy of Iran wants to destroy the nation of Israel and has vowed to do so at what ever cost. It is to this end that the development of nuclear weapons and long range ballistic missiles to carry have has become a priority. In the post 9/11 world, Iran has been squarely placed on notice that its support of world-wide terror has made it a target for American action. The world has generally said that Iran needs to stop the research and development immediately. This has increased the urgency of the Iranian effort to create the bomb.
The American liberation of Iraq has created an opportunity for Iran to try to thwart US plan for a democratic Iraq and in its place, to create a theocracy. A true democratic Iraq would threaten Iran who is already facing a growing pro-democracy movement that could topple the religious rulers. Iran has a ready made support base - the Shiite majority in southern Iraq. The most holy sites for Shiites are also in southern Iraq. Agents from Iraq have been identified and captured in fighting in Iraq and are believed to be scattered throughout the countrys south. Many believe Al-Sadr directives are coming from Iran. This permits agents and potential special forces to blend in with the local population and have a degree of support. These agent would provide exceptional and timely intelligence of current troop locations, command posts, and supply depots.
However, in the event of a preemptive strike, the potentially biggest concern would be the Iranian military. How the Iranian military would be used requires a review of its battles with Iraq, its previous encounters with the US military and watching first hand military operations in Iraq. In reviewing its war with Iraq during the 1980s two key items become apparent:
1. It recognized Iraqs limited seaport access.
2. It recognized the vulnerability of oil shipping in the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz
I expect that these two points will strongly influence Iranian military operations, tactical and strategic goals.
Iranian Military Capabilities
Although Iran has spent millions to upgrade its military forces, it is still not much better than when it fought with Iraq 20 years ago. Regular ground forces consist of approximately 4 armored, 6 mechanized and 2 special forces divisions and 14 independent brigade/groups. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) consists of about 4 Armored, 16 mechanized divisions and 10-11 independent brigade/groups. IRGC divisions are smaller than the Regular divisions, sometimes equivalent to the strength of one brigade. IRGC units are the crack units, with the best trained, equipped and religiously motivated soldiers. These units became well known towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war for their human wave attacks.
There are approximately 1700 tanks of which only about 400 are a high quality T-72 series. The rest are a mixture of T-62, T-55 series, Chieftain and M-47/48/60 series. APC are a mixture of M-113, BTR50/60, MT-LB, BMP-1 and -2 for at total of about 1500. The artillery consists of about 3000 pieces including MRLs of a wide variety of self propelled and towed guns and howitzers. The army is also equipped with a mixture of soviet era anti aircraft artillery and surface to air missiles.
Iranian airpower is relatively limited and on the old side. Between 175 to 200 combat aircraft are believed to be available. Included are a limited number of F-14A and Mig-29 (94 total, 50 in service) and F-4, Mirage F1 and Su-24 and -25.
The Iranian navy is second only to the US navy as the dominant force in the Gulf. Iran has spent more money in its navy, second only to the strategic missile and nuclear developments. Its focus has been small, fast maneuverable vessels with anti-ship missile capabilities. Among recent acquisitions are Chinese Hudong fast patrol boats (Osa II design) and 25 light attack vessels from N. Korea. The missile boats are carrying newer Chinese C-802 anti ship missiles. The C-802 is a turbo jet powered missile and will eventually replace the older Silkworm missiles. Also included are torpedo boats, semi-submersibles and three Kilo class submarines. The Kilo class subs are armed with wake-seeking torpedoes. Iran has also developed a considerable capability in mine warfare particularly with the acquisition from China of the rocket delivered EM-52 rising mine that can be deployed in waters too deep for other types of mines.
Iranian core strategic assets consist of SCUD-C and Chinese CSS-8 ballistic missiles. With the assistance of N. Korea, Iran has accelerated its internal ballistic missile program with the development of the Shehab-2 (Scud-D variant) and Shehab-3 missiles. While the other missiles give the Iranians the capability to strike any country in the Gulf, the development of the Shehab-3 missile is a significant development for the Iranians. This is the first asset that the Iranians have that can strike any where in Israel and they allege that it can even strike England.
Warheads for these missiles consist of conventional high explosives as well as chemical (nerve and blister) and potentially biological. However, the Shehab-3 is probably designed to be nuclear - tipped. Iran reports that the Shehab-3 is operational and if so, is probably equipped with either a HE or potentially chemical/biological warhead pending development of a nuclear warhead.
Part 1 Observations and Conclusions
Iran has a military that has not been degraded after 12 years of airstrikes and Desert Storm. However, it is still a force that cannot be dismissed too easily as it has the capabilities to inflict severe damage and as will become apparent in follow-on parts, can really mess things up for the US in Iraq for a while. However, in the long term, absent nuclear capability, the country would not be able to sustain a long-term campaign against the US.
Internal challenges to the ruling religious leaders consist of the growing democracy movement. The theocracy must maintain enough loyal forces to contain any protests while supporting any combat actions against the US.
In the next part of this series, I will evaluate the potential theater of conflict, potential Iranian military and political goals of the attack. And in the final part I hope to outline the development of the potential conflict in a relatively chronological order to whatever the end may be.