|18 October 2004 15:49
Iran's hard-line Basij militia has written to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to ask if the Islamic republic can send observers to the United States presidential election in November, a government newspaper said on Monday.
U.S. in talks with Europeans on a nuclear deal with Iran
New York Times, Oct. 12.
G-8 nations to meet on Iran
The Washington Post, Oct. 15.
Well, the talks and meetings will go on and on to the next Ramadan and the Ramadan after that and Iran will go on working on its nuclear arms program until it has the Bomb. There will be no deal with Iran no matter how costly nuclear bomb manufacture might be. With oil prices going through the roof, money is not a problem now nor in the foreseeable future.
The Washington Post report said the Group of Eight countries the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and Canada would threaten punitive measures if Iran refused to abandon its nuclear arms program. The New York Times reported the U.S. was talking with its European allies on "a possible package of economic incentives for Iran" if only Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
Incentives? Hah. Iran is the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and holds 10 percent of the world's proven oil reserves and the second-largest (after Russia) natural gas reserves.
Incentives? Hah. Iran earns an estimated $900 million for every $1 per barrel increase in the price of its oil. And with oil up in the $50+ per barrel range, Iran is awash in cash and can do what it wants as bomb maker and bomb supplier.
Incentives? The only incentives that might matter would be the threat of sanctions. Who has the will to push for sanctions? France, Germany? Hah. Who has the power, let alone the will, to enforce sanctions if they ever came to a Security Council vote?
There will be no deal with Iran no matter how much they talk the talk and promise the promise. Iran is awash in money that Western Europe, particularly France, covets.
As far as I can see, it's all going Iran's way. Iran is stronger today than a decade ago. Iran emerged bloody and very unbowed in 1988 from its eight-year war with Iraq, a war that cost 1 million lives. Henry Kissinger supposedly said during that war "too bad they can't both lose." It didn't work out that way. Iraq lost and Iran won right up to this very minute.
Iran is today the dominant land power in the Middle East militarily and economically. As leader of Shi'ite Islam, Iran must be delighted at the war in Iraq, which is killing off the rival Sunnis. With its new missiles, Iran has shown it could project its power far from home, and not only by financing the Hezbollah terror squads. The Iranian people may be unhappy with the clerical dictatorship but there is little they can now do about it.
Far more serious, Iran undertook its nuclear program in September 2002 under a decree of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is on its way to being a nuclear power if not one already. And as far as I can see, nobody can stop Iran despite a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted last September which called upon Iran "immediately [to] suspend all enrichment-related activities."
According to an Iranian exile resistance group, Iran has secret sites all over the country engaged in nuclear activity. One secret site at Arak, about 154 miles southwest of Tehran, produces heavy water and plutonium. A sufficiently powerful heavy water reactor can be used to turn uranium into bomb-usable plutonium without requiring enrichment facilities. In Isfahan, there is the Center of Nuclear Research. There are other sites about which little is known. These plants are capable of producing three nuclear weapons a year.
Iran seems unstoppable. It has lots of scientific talent at home and abroad for hire, lots of theological-imperial ambitions, lots of money, lots of eager sellers and money lenders in the European Union and in Russia.
And that's how wars begin.
Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times. His updated biography "Herman Wouk, the Novelist as Social Historian," has just been published.
TEHERAN A leading member of Irans main pro-reform student group has been sentenced to four months in jail over a speech he gave at a university, the student news agency Isna reported yesterday.
Akbar Atri, a top member of the Office to Foster Unity, was sentenced in absentia for propaganda against the regime in a speech he gave in the northwest province of Zanjan.
An official from the students group said the verdict would be appealed. No further details were available.
Recently, the Iranian military announced that it has successfully tested a 2000-km range missile, the Shahab 5, and the Tehran government has also said that, in April of 2005, they plan to launch the Islamic Republics first satellite. This, combined with the mounting evidence that their nuclear program is accelerating, indicates that we are headed for a major crisis next year. During the debates, both Bush and Kerry talked as if they will be able to stop Irans drive for nuclear weapons and the long-range ballistic missiles to deliver them, if not with diplomacy and sanctions, then with force. If they mean what they say, there is going to be trouble ahead.
From inside Iran, a 2000-km missile will be able to hit, to the west, Greece, Turkey, parts of the Balkans, and the parts of Ukraine. To the east, it will cover all of Pakistan and major parts of India. To the south, it will not only be able to target Saudi Arabia, but Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti, as well. To the north, not only will the nations of the Caucasus and Central Asia be within range, but major parts of Russia, as well. The capability of this weapon is far beyond what is needed for a strike against Israel. This missile, and its longer range successors that are already in development are part of a major asymmetric arms buildup.
The purpose of this effort is, in the first place, to safeguard the Mullahs position at home, where they are under challenge from a generation of young people who reject the Islamic revolution and the dictatorship it has created. Second, it is intended to provide an umbrella for the extension of their power into Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf, through the use of surrogates, such as Al Sadr and Gulbaddin Hekmatyr.
|If Iran can build and test a nuclear weapon, and prove that it has the capability to build and launch a satellite, even a small one, it will join a new category of states that could be referred to as mini-superpowers.|
Irans drive for nuclear weapons is obviously not going to be stopped because the Europeans or the Russian ask them to. The Mullahs believe that they need nuclear weapons not only to deploy against the US and Israel but also to safeguard their own regime. This does not mean that they are going to blow up one of their own cities if the locals get out of line, but it does mean that they want the prestige and the burst of nationalist pride that the Indians and Pakistanis got when their governments tested nuclear weapons in the 1990s.They may also hope that the West will fear that, if the regime is overthrown, the ensuing chaos might lead to a loose nukes situation.
Under the Shah, Iran not only bought billions of dollars worth of western weapons, but also arranged for thousands of Iranian students to study science and engineering in the US and elsewhere. Many of these students stayed in the West, but thousands of others went back to Iran. Some of them, or people trained by them, are no doubt working on the Mullahs nuclear weapons and on the means to deliver them.
If Iran can build and test a nuclear weapon, and prove that it has the capability to build and launch a satellite, even a small one, it will join a new category of states that could be referred to as mini-superpowers. A nation that can launch a satellite can theoretically build an ICBM. Israel and India are members of this club. Pakistan has not yet launched a satellite but has indicated that it plans to do so. Nations as diverse as Brazil, North Korea, South Korea, South Africa, and Japan all have tried, at one time, for membership. Having a satellite in orbit and a bomb in the basement gives a government options, and a certain amount of room to maneuver than states without that capability would have.
During its war with Iraq, despite a larger population and greater strategic depth, Iran was nonetheless fought to a standstill, due to Saddam's access to better weapons, from the USSR, France, China, Brazil and elsewhere (The US supplied less than 1% of Saddams weapons, mostly training helicopters and Chevy Blazers) and to his massive use of poison gas. The Islamic Republic learned to modify and to adapt the American and British weapons it had inherited from the Shah. The ability to keep even a small part of these systems in operation is not to be dismissed.
To imagine, as some analysts do, that Iran is technologically dependent on Russia, North Korea, China, or Pakistan for its nuclear missile and satellite program is surely a mistake. The Shah was an exceptionally ambitious ruler and he laid the groundwork for Iran to develop a sophisticated and capable armaments industry. The requirements of the 1980-1987 war forced them to build on this foundation. Unless great care is taken, the Mullahs military may reserve some nasty surprises for anyone who goes against them.
Fortunately, all reports indicate that the regime in place is at least as unpopular as that of the Shah during his last days. Indications of unrest are all over the Internet and even reach into the mainstream press. Sadly, this may not be enough to overthrow the Mullahs any time soon.
So the US has got to begin developing some alternative plans for dealing with Iran. The US Army and Marine Corps may be fully engaged in Iraq, but the Air Force and Navy have plenty of spare capacity that could be used if diplomacy fails. Effectively targeting these forces against Irans bomb program and its supporting infrastructure is an exceptionally tough problem for the Pentagons and Centcoms Joint Planning Staff.
If the US does nothing, then it is quite possible that, within a decade, Iran will have nuclear-tipped missiles that can hit not only Israel and Europe, but America itself. To counter that threat, the US will need a far more effective missile defense system than the one it has today. Only space-based boost phase interceptors, combined with a real multi-layered defense system, could hope to negate the threat.
|The final option is to develop and deploy space-based weapons capable of destroying Irans missiles and satellite launchers. This means accepting the weaponization of space, something that the Bush Administration seems to be trying to avoid dealing with.|
So the US and the West are faced with three exceptionally unpalatable choices. First, they could continue down the diplomatic path. This is currently being pursued, but since the Mullahs are obviously playing for time, this merely means that they will get their full capability. The second possibility is a full scale bombing campaign lasting weeks or months, designed to wear down the regime and destroy their nuclear program. This has some obvious drawbacks for regional stability. The regime would strike back with all the terror apparatus at its disposal. Such an attack, combined with the right political action, might lead to a democratic revolution in Tehran, but no one should count on such an outcome.
The final option is to develop and deploy space-based weapons capable of destroying Irans missiles and satellite launchers as they struggle to leave the atmospherebasically, new versions of Brilliant Pebbles. This means accepting the weaponization of space, something that the Bush Administration seems to be trying to avoid dealing with.
As with North Korea, Irans drive for mini-superpower status leaves the US and its allies with no easy options. Whatever short-term strategy is chosen, the only real solution may be in the hands of the Iranian people themselves. The sooner they get rid of their rulers, the less they will suffer, and the sooner they will be able to rejoin the world as a normal nation.
This is an overview of the emerging campaign finance scandal involving the Kerry campaign and lobbyists for the terror-supporting regime in Iran.
Nemazee has served on the Board of the American Iranian Council, the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), and the Asia Society, all of which favor negotiations with the mullahs' regime and eventual normalization of relations with Iran.
A group of Iranian-Americans formed the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran (SMCCDI) in 1997 to oppose the radical Islamic regime. Last year they wrote an open letter calling on Senator Edward Kennedy to disassociate himself with the then-newly-formed Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), which they described as a "lobby group for a terrorist regime." The letter, signed by SMCCDI coordinator Aryo B. Pirouznia, described Hassan Nemazee as a "discredited and well-known individual who's seeking to legitimize the tyrannical Islamic Republic regime," and stated that "Nemazee's agenda and ultimate goal has been the promotion and support of relations with it."
The characterization of Nemazee as "discredited" seems to stem from some extremely dubious business dealings outlined in a 1999 Forbes Magazine article titled Warning Flags. Nemazee, then a Clinton Administration appointee for the position of U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, withdrew his name from consideration for that post shortly after the Forbes article was published.
Nemazee filed suit against the SMCCDI and Aryo Pirouznia, alleging defamation of character and denying the charge that he was an agent of the Iranian regime who was promoting that regime's interests in the U.S. The SMCCDI responded with a counter-suit against Nemazee.
In the first presidential debate on September 30, 2004, Senator Kerry said:
"With respect to Iran, the British, French, and Germans were the ones who initiated an effort without the United States, regrettably, to begin to try to move to curb the nuclear possibilities in Iran. I believe we could have done better. 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. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together."
Marc Morano of CNS news summarized the state of affairs on October 12 in Top Kerry Donor Faces Allegations About Iranian Propaganda.
On October 14, Aryo Pirouznia and his representatives held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, at which they accused Nemazee and the Kerry campaign of trying to delay answering questions about his influence on the Kerry campaign until after the election. Aryo Pirouznia introduced himself as the coordinator of an organization "focused on freedom in my homeland." Attorney Bob Jenevein explained that neither Nemazee nor the Kerry campaign had responded to repeated requests for information. Dr. Jerry Corsi, co-author of the #1 best-seller "Unfit for Command" announced that he is working with Aryo B. Pirouznia on a new a book, Atomic Islam. He excoriated Kerry for offering nuclear fuel to Iran, noting that "the State Department has classified the Islamic regime in Tehran and the most avid state-sponsor of terrorism in the world today." Insight Magazine reporter and author Kenneth Timmerman charged that the Kerry campaign had violated the law by taking contributions from Susan Akbarpour, a pro-regime fund-raised who was neither a citizen nor possessed a green card at that time. A complete transcript of the press conference can be found here.
In Just naive, or breathtakingly stupid? Dr. Jerome Corsi noted that Kerry supports all three goals of the regime's lobbyists: 1) to normalize diplomatic and economic relations, 2) to include Iran in the World Trade Organization, and 3) to give Iran access to nuclear fuel.
Kenneth Timmerman expanded on his press conference remarks on Kerry's support for the regime's agenda in Kerry's Iran Scandal.
Jeff Gannon of Talon News weighed in the next day with Kerry Taking Campaign Contributions From Pro-Iranian Group.
Nemazee was formally deposed on October 18th, saying, remarkably, that normalizing relations with Iran would be a mistake, that Iran should not be trusted with nuclear materials, and that he favors regime change -- see Kerry Iranian fund-raiser repudiates him on Tehran.
Where does the story go from here? Does each quo have a corresponding quid? Stay tuned...
Mr. Nemazee, third from left, John Kerry and others at a fundraiser at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco.
Mr. Nemazee and Mr. Kerry dine at the fundraiser on June 1, 2002.
Posted Monday, October 18, 2004
KABOL, 18 Oct. (IPS) First results from Afghanistan's first presidential election put incumbent President Hamid Karzai in the lead, according to the Joint Electoral Management Board (JEMB), that gave the present Prime Minister 62.9%, ten per cent lower than the first return of the votes.
With almost one million out of the total estimated poll of seven million votes counted, Yunes Qanooni, the former Education Minister and Karzais main rival got 18.3% of the votes, or up 2 per cent. Sixteen other candidates shared the remaining 24% of the vote.
But Qanooni said a full count and a proper investigation by a panel of foreign experts on fraud allegations could yet put him in the running. He said his acceptance of the final results depends on the thoroughness of the probe.
"If they are able to separate the fraud from the wishes of the people, at that time we will see if the election is legitimate," he said. "Anything else is a coup."
Contrary to many expectations, the elections took place in a relatively calm atmosphere and according to almost all foreign observers, voting turned out to be more or less democratic, heralding, as many Afghans hopes, new era of peace in the rugged land, ravaged by decades of fratricide war, occupation and bloody insurgency.
Abdol Rashid Dostom, the governor of the northern province of Mazar Sharif scored 10.1 percent followed by the Hazara chief Mohammed Mohaqeq with 1.6 percent and Mrs. Masooda Jalal, the only female candidate in the race, who had 1.4 percent. The other 13 presidential candidates all had less that 1.1 percent of the ballots.
"Counting has begun again everywhere -- in all eight regional counting centres", said Afghan electoral commission spokesman Aykut Tavsel. Officials have to retrieve ballot boxes from remote villages and then mix up the ballots so nobody will know how a given village or district voted, an attempt to protect voters from Taleban retaliation that will take as long as a fortnight.
US President George W. Bush, several worlds leading nations as well as the international community hailed the election as a success. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said it showed that democracy was also possible in Iraq.
But Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born US Ambassador to Kabol warned that it could takeup to 10 years for Afghanistan to become a successful democratic state.
"I think Afghanistan is firmly heading in the right direction. I think the Afghan people would like to succeed", he added after meeting with US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The Envoy also praised Afghans for voting despite threats from al Qaeda and Taleban insurgents, but stressed that it would take time to build the Afghan army and police force to a size necessary to maintain security for the country.
"Time could take as long as 10 years for it to be a truly successful country in terms of its security, in terms of economic development, in terms of being a successful democratic state", Mr. Khalilzad told reporters, adding, "If the journey of Afghanistan standing on its own feet, being a successful country, is a 10-mile journey, Afghanistan has just, in my view, passed mile three".
This exercise is the beginning of a long road where the international community must fully play its vital role for the reconstruction of the war-ravaged nation, for Afghanistan can easily go back to anarchy, said Andrew Wilder, Director of Afghanistan Research Unit Centre based in Kabol, observing that the senior warlords continue their control of most parts of the mountainous nation.
Badly deceived by 3 years of inefficient governance, the Afghans wants new abd bold personalities, not the statu quo, Wilder added.
More than for the personality of Karzai, the Afghans voted for a lasting peace and prosperity, said Francoise Chipaux, the Correspondent of the French influential daily Le Monde covering Afghanistan.
However, the elections were marred by allegations of fraud and mismanagement after the ink supposed to be indelible after marking voters fingers in order to prevent multiple voting, was found to be easily washable.
In their view, if he present trend of vote counting continue in favour of Karazi, the Prime Minister would have call on some of his opponents to form his new government, personalities like Qanooni, Dostom, the Uzbek war lord, mrs. Massouda Jalal, the only female canidate or Esmail Khan, the former Emir of Heart.
But Qanooni has told the American news agency The Associated Press that he might prefer forming a strong opposition part instead of joining the government.
Candidates opposed to Mr. Karzai complained that the ink was deliberately used to favour Karzai and menaced to boycott the elections unless the whole process of voting is renewed.
An international panel of experts appointed at the last minute to investigate the complaints ruled out new elections but said it would look into the allegations of vote rigging.
Analysts say that if the trend continues, Karzai would have to bring into his future government some of his majors opponents, starting with Mr. Qanooni, the Tajik chief who enjoys great popularity for being a close friend of the late Ahmad Shah Masoud, the legendary warlord assassinated by Arab terrorists sent by Osama Ben Laden, al-Qaedas leader.
Until now, Karzai has not convinced the international community nor the Afghan people, Ms. Chipaux wrote, adding however that since he would have to govern in the absence of the parliament, due to be elected next spring, Karzai will have all the powers, if not the instruments to fulfil his promises.
After election, Karzai would have no excuse of not putting into application his promises, if not, he would be rejected by the population, said Hoseyn Sangcharkhi, an independent Afghan analyst.
ENDS AFGHAN ELECTIONS 181004
During the reign of Shah Abbas, the Safavid king, his sagacious policies caused a sizable number of Armenians from Armenia and Azerbaijan to transfer and settle in Isfahan and other regions of Iran. A place called Jolfa was built at the banks of the Zayande-rud River in Esfahan and became the residence of these migrating people. Consequently, churches were erected in that town. Meanwhile, after a short lapse of time, some Armenians moved to Gilan and some resided in Shiraz.
After the death of Shah Abbas the First, his successor, Shah Abbas the Second, also paid close attention to the welfare of Armenians and more churches were erected in Jolfa.
The influx of many Europeans during the reign of the Qajars led to the flourishing of other churches, in addition to those that were constructed previously. A number of these edifices have lasted and acquired architectural and artistic significance.
Azarbaijan is host to the oldest churches in Iran. Among the most significant are the Tatavous Vank ( St. Tatavous Cathedral), which is also called the Ghara Kelissa (the black monastery). This is located at the Siahcheshmeh (Ghara-Eini) border area south of Makou. There is also the church known as Saint Stepanous, which stands 24 kilometers south of Azarbaijan's Jolfa town.
Generally, each church has a large hall for congregational prayers; its foremost part is raised like a dais, adorned with the pictures or images of religious figures and it also serves as an altar. Here, candles are lighted and the church mass is conducted by the priest. On the foreground is the praying congregation which face the platform where the priest is leading the rites in the church; this is similar to the Muslim practice of praying facing the niche in the mosque. While the mass is being said, the people stand, kneel, or sit depending on what the rites require.
The structure of churches in Iran follow more or less the pattern of Iranian architecture, or they are a mixture of Iranian and non-Iranian designs.
Saint Stepanous church is another old church located at an intersection west of the Marand-Jolfa highway and east of the Khoy-Jolfa road. Also having a pyramidal dome, it is, nevertheless, quite beautiful and far more pleasant to behold than the Saint Tatavous church.
The general structure mostly resembles Armenian and Georgian architecture and the inside of the building is adorned with beautiful paintings by Honatanian, a renowned Armenian artist. Hayk Ajimian, an Armenian scholar and historian, recorded that the church was originally built in the ninth century AD, but repeated earthquakes in Azarbaijan completely eroded the previous structure. The church was rebuilt during the rule of Shah Abbas the Second.
Saint Mary's Church in Tabriz:
This church was built in the sixth century A.H. (12th century AD) and in his travel chronicles, Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler who lived during the eight century A.H. (14th century AD), referred to this church on his way to China. For so many years, Saint Mary's served as the seat of the Azarbaijan Armenian Archbishop. It is a handsomely built edifice, with different annex buildings sprawled on a large area. A board of Armenian peers are governing the well- attended church.
Aside from the above three churches, there are others in Azarbaijan such as the old church built in the eight century A.H. at Modjanbar village, which is some 50 kilometers from Tabriz Another one is the large Saint Sarkis church, situated in Khoy; this building has survived from the time of Shah Abbas the Second (12th century A.H.). During the reign of the said Safavid king, another edifice called the Saint Gevorg (Saint George) church was constructed, using marble stones and designed with a large dome, at Haft Van village near Shapur (Salmas). A church, also with a huge dome, likewise stands at Derishk village in the vicinity of Shapur, in Azarbaijan.
The Saint Tatavous Monastery or the Ghara Kelissa:
Initially, this church comprised of a small hall with a pyramid- shaped dome on the top and 12 crevices similar to the Islamic dome-shaped buildings from the Mongol era. The difference was that the church dome was made of stone. The main part of this pyramid structure followed Byzantine (Eastern Roman) architecture, including the horizontal and parallel fringes made of white and black stones in the interior and black stones on the exterior facing.
Since the facade is dominated by black stones, the church was formerly called the Ghara Kelissa (or black monastery) by the natives. During the reign of the Qajar ruler, Fathalishah, new structures were added to the Saint Tatavous church upon the order of Abbas Mirza, the crown prince, and the governor of Azarbaijan. The renovations resulted in the enlargement of the prayer hall and the small old church was converted into a prayer platform, holding the altar, the holy ornaments and a place where the priest could lead the prayers. The bell tower and the church entrance were situated at one side of the new building, but unfortunately, this part remained unfinished.
Meanwhile, due to border skirmishes and other political disturbances in the area during the succeeding periods, the church was abandoned and ruined. Some minor repairs have been carried out in recent years. Each year, during a special season (in the summer), many Armenians from all parts of Iran travel to this site for prayer and pilgrimage. They come by jeeps or trucks after crossing a very rough mountainous passage. They flock around the church, stay for a few days and perform their religions ceremonies. For the rest of the year, however, the church remains deserted in that remote area.
The additions made to the Saint Tatavous church on the order of Abbas Mirza consist of embossed images of the apostles on the facade and decorations of flowers, bushes, lion and sun figures and arabesques, all of which had been done by Iranian craftsmen. The architecture of the church interior is a combination of Byzantine, Armenian and Georgian designs. Beside the large church, special chambers have been built in the yard to shelter pilgrims and hermits.
Historical Churches at Jolfa of Isfahan:
The most important historical church in Iran is the old cathedral, commonly referred to as the Vank (which means "cathedral" in the Armenian language). This large building was constructed during the reign of Shah Abbas the First and completely reflects Iranian architecture. It has a double-layer brick dome that is very much similar to those built by the Safavids. The interior of the church is decorated with glorious and beautiful paintings and miniature works that represent biblical traditions and the image of angels and apostles, all of which have been executed in a mixture of Iranian and Italian styles. The ceiling and walls are coated with tiles from the Safavid epoch.
At a corner of the large courtyard of the cathedral, offices and halls have been built to accommodate guests, the Esfahan archbishop and his retinue, as well as other important Armenian religious hierarchy in Iran. The church compound also includes a museum that is located in a separate building. The museum displays preserved historical records and relics, and the edicts of Iranian kings dating back to the time of Shah Abbas the First. It also contains an interesting collection of art work.
Esfahan has other historical churches, the most important of which is the Church of Beit-ol Lahm (Bethlehem) at Nazar Avenue. There are also the Saint Mary church at Jolfa Square and the Yerevan church in the Yerevan area.
The Armenian Church in Shiraz:
In the eastern section of Ghaani Avenue, in a district called "Sare Jouye Aramaneh", an interesting building has survived from the era of Shah Abbas the Second. Its principal structure stands in the midst of a garden-like compound and consists of a prayer hall with a lofty flat ceiling and several cells flanking the two side of the building. The ceiling is decorated with original paintings from the Safavid era and the adjoining cells are adorned with niches and arches and plaster molding, also in the Safavid style. This is considered a historical monument at Shiraz and definitely worth a visit.
Saint Simon's Church in Shiraz:
This is another relatively important, but not so old church in Shiraz. The large hall is completely done in Iranian style while the roof is Roman. Small barrel-shaped vaults, many Iranian art work and stained glass window panes adorn the church.
Meanwhile, another church called the Glory of Christ, stands at Ghalat, 34 kilometers from Shiraz. This building has survived from the Qajar period and is surrounded by charming gardens.
Saint Tatavous Church, Tehran:
This edifice is located at the Chaleh Meidan district, one of the oldest districts in Tehran It stands south of the Seyed Esmail Mausoleum, at the beginning of the northern part of the so-called Armenians' Street. The oldest church of Tehran, it was built during the reign of the Qajar king, Fathalishah. The building has a dome-shaped roof and four alcoves, an altar and a special chair reserved for the Armenian religions leader or prelate. The vestibule leading to the church contains the graves of prominent non-Iranian Christians who have died in Iran, and in the middle of the churchyard, Gribaydof, the Czarist ambassador at the court of Fathalishah, and his companions were laid to rest. They were killed by the revolutionary forces of Tehran at that time.
Meanwhile in Bushehr, there is a church from the Qajar period that is a good specimen of Iranian architecture. All the windows are modeled after old Iranian buildings and the colored panes are purely Iranian art work.
There are also many other churches in Ourumieh, in hamlets surrounding Arasbaran, Ardabil, Maragheh, Naqadeh, Qazvin, Hameadan Khuzestan, Chaharmahal, Arak, in the old Vanak village north of Tehran, etc. These churches, though, are all deserted and are of little artistic significance.
Analysis: Iran plays for time in nuclear standoff
Mon Oct 18, 6:21 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States warned Iran against providing any type of support to Al-Qaeda-linked foreign militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and his Tawhid wal Jihad (Unity and Holy War) group, saying such backing would be a "very, very serious matter."
The State Department declined to comment on allegations of an Iran-Zarqawi link, first claimed last week by Iraq (news - web sites)'s interim national intelligence chief Mohammed al-Shahwani and then reported by Newsweek magazine, but said Washington remained deeply concerned about Tehran's activity in Iraq.
"All I would be able to say (about the accusations) is that we have generally been very concerned about some of the reports of Iranian activity in Iraq," spokesman Richard Boucher said.
"We have frequently discussed these in public, as well as made clear, I think, to others what our concerns were so that the Iranians would know exactly what our concerns were about possible support for different groups inside Iraq," he told reporters.
"The Iraqi interim government has also been quite vocal both directly with the Iranians and in their statements with others about the concerns about Iran so it remains an issue, a very serious concern," Boucher said.
"And were it to be found that Iran was providing particular support for this terrorist group, obviously that would be a very, very serious matter," he said, referring to the Tawhid wal Jihad, which the United States formally designated a "foreign terrorist organization" on Friday.
Shahwani, the Iraqi intelligence chief, told AFP last week that he believed Iran, through its embassy in Baghdad, was masterminding an assassination campaign that has seen nearly 20 of his agents killed since the middle of last month.
He said raids on Iranian "safe houses" in Baghdad had uncovered documents linking Iran to plots to kill members of the intelligence service and using the Badr former militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq's (SCIRI) as its tool.
SCIRI has vigorously denied the allegations and counter-charged that the intelligence service is full of veterans of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s military who are now renewing their vendetta against former Shiite resistance groups based out of Iran in the 1980s.
But Shahwani said that since mid-September, 18 Iraqi intelligence agents have been killed in Iraq, 10 of them by the Badr organisation on orders from Iran and the rest by Zarqawi, including two that were beheaded last week.
He said he suspected Tehran was funding the Jordanian-born Zarqawi, but lacked conclusive proof.
Newsweek on Sunday cited sources close to Jordanian intelligence as saying Zarqawi had traveled back and forth between Iraq and Iran several times since Saddam Hussein's ouster and had established a high-level relationship with at least some Iranian officials.
2 hours, 35 minutes ago
Tehran had to act swiftly to allay concerns raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its alleged to acquire nuclear weapons, International Security Minister Denis MacShane said.
"Confidence cannot be restored unless Iran agrees to suspend its fuel cycle activity, including all centrifuge work and uranium conversion," MacShane told a meeting in London.
"They are not necessary for a civil nuclear power generation programme but would give Iran the technologies which would help it towards a military nuclear capability."
Iran stands accused of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge it denies.
In September the IAEA called on Iran to "immediately" widen its suspension of uranium enrichment to include all uranium enrichment-related activities, which it has so far refused to do so.
Iran faces a November 25 deadline, after which it risks being referred to the UN Security Council for further action.
"Iran faces a clear choice," MacShane said.
"It can choose to live up to its commitments, comply in full with the (IAEA) board's resolutions, including by putting in place a full and lasting suspension and reap the benefits of the international confidence this would create.
"Or it can spurn the chance to reassure the international community."
He added: "In that case the board will need to discuss additional measures, including very probably referral to the UN Security Council."
Oct. 19, 2004 16:09
The foreign ministers of Britain and Germany on Tuesday urged Iran to indefinitely suspend its nuclear program and avoid a showdown next month with the U.N. nuclear agency.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his German counterpart Joschka Fischer said the international community lacked confidence in Iran, which last year agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, but has since resumed testing, assembling and making centrifuges used in the process.
"Iran has yet to give us the confidence we need about its intentions," Straw said at a joint news conference. "We cannot go on indefinitely but Iran could still give us that confidence by introducing an indefinite suspension of its enrichment and processing activities."
Iran says its nuclear program is devoted entirely to peaceful purposes, including generating electricity and a leading scientist said Tuesday his country would not give up its right to nuclear technology.
Fischer urged Iran to continue working with France, Britain and Germany to resolve the issue.
"We are very concerned abut the developments and I think it is very important that there is not a miscalculation in Tehran," Fischer said.
While the United States, which argues that Iran has secret plans to build atomic weapons, wants the matter referred to the U.N. Security Council, Britain, France and Germany have spearheaded efforts to find a diplomatic solution.
In October last year, the three countries jointly persuaded Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and give inspectors unrestricted access to its nuclear facilities.
The three countries say Iran has failed to fulfill its pledge. But ahead of the IAEA board meeting in Vienna, Austria on Nov. 25, they intend to offer Iran a package of economic incentives, including nuclear fuel for civil use, and a trade agreement, to encourage compliance.
"We hope very much this matter can be resolved finally within the board of governors and not be referred to the Security Council but only time will tell," said Straw.
Fischer urged Tehran to "stick to the agreement" they made. "This is the only way I think which could produce positive results," he added.
Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Tuesday Iran was interested in buying nuclear fuel from the West, but would not give up its right to a nuclear fuel cycle.
"We may purchase fuel from the West and develop its technology. We have not rejected the West's fuel proposal, but not losing our right to the technology is the point," state-run Tehran television quoted him as saying.
October 19, 2004
Iran va Jahan
EUROPE'S three main nations are ready to promise Iran nuclear technology, including supplying a light-water nuclear reactor, if Tehran takes steps to show it is not secretly trying to make atomic weapons, according to a confidential document obtained by AFP today.
"We would support the acquisition by Iran of a light water research reactor," said the document presented by Britain, France and Germany to major Western nations ahead of a meeting of the so-called Euro-3 with Iran that may happen on Friday in Vienna.
The document, presented to the G8 group of industrialised nations last week in Washington, outlines the EU3 position "in the run up" to a meeting November 25 of the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency that is expected to finally decide whether Iran is cooperating or not with the IAEA.