Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 23, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 10/22/2004 10:04:31 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. As a result, most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
By Douglas Frantz, Times Staff Writer
Vienna - Officials from Britain, France and Germany were in talks with their Iranian counterparts Thursday in Vienna at a meeting to give Tehran a final chance to reassure the world that it is not secretly developing atomic weapons.
The European nations are reported to be offering Iran valuable technology for peaceful nuclear energy if Iran complies, but possible UN sanctions if it does not.
Following are extracts from a confidential document, obtained by AFP, that was presented to the G8 group of leading industrialized nations last week.
Diplomats in Vienna said it remained the basis of the European position at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), although modifications might still be made.
The Europeans call on Iran:
-- "to suspend all enrichment and reprocessing related activities in a compehensive and internationally verifiable manner ... "
-- "the suspension will include the manufacture and import of gas centrifuges and their components; any assembly, installation, testing or operation of gas centrifuges; all other enrichment and reprocessing activities including work to construct or operate any plutonium separation facility; and the production of feed material for enrichment processes, including all activities to test or operate the uranium conversion facility ... any converted yellowcake should be put under IAEA safeguards."
-- "The suspension will be indefinite, until we reach an acceptable long term agreement."
If Iran complies:
-- "We would reaffirm the right of Iran to develop research production and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination in conformity with Article 2 of the NPT" (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty).
-- "We would support Russian/Iranian cooperation in the field of power reactors and fuel supply and management."
-- "We would be ready to give political assurances of access to the international fuel market, at market prices, consistent with G8/NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) comparable assurances, with spent fuel being returned and reprocessed outside of Iran."
-- "We would support the acquisition by Iran of a Light Water Research Reactor."
-- "The European Union would be ready to resume negotiations on an EU/Iran trade and cooperation agreement once suspension is verified."
-- "We would continue to support the adherence of Iran to the WTO."
-- "We would cooperate in the prevention and suppression of terrorist acts in accordance with respective legislation and regulations. We would continue to regard the MEK (Iranian resistance group) as a terrorist organization."
-- "We would pursue the objective of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction ... "
-- "We would agree to cooperate with Iran to help it establish and develop an effective national system of export, transit and end-use control of WMD related goods and technologies including dual use ... "
-- "We would agree to strengthen cooperation with Iran in the combat of all forms of drug production and trafficking, including in the regional context."
If Iran does not comply:
-- "We will support the referral of the Iranian nuclear issue to the UNSC (United Nations Security Council)."
-- "We would consider the opportunity presented by the Tehran agreement of 21 October 2003 to resolve the questions relating to Iran's nuclear programme within the framework of the IAEA not to have been taken by Iran."
Once at the Security Council:
-- "If an initial political call to Iran were not successful, the Security Council could then consider making the suspension mandatory. It could also consider strengthening the powers of the IAEA to carry out inspections in Iran."
-- "Should Iran reject the Security Council's demands, the Council would have to consider what measures might be appropriate under Article 41 of the UN charter. But we do not need to consider that in more detail at this stage."
|EU says Vienna meeting with Iran "positive"|
|Brussels, Oct 22, IRNA -- The European Union is happy with the outcome of Thursday's meeting between representatives of Iran and the EU three, France, Germany, and the UK, to discuss Iran's nuclear program.
"The meeting was positive. The two sides agreed to meet again next week to continue discussing the proposal that the European side has put at the table," EU diplomatic sources told reporters in Brussels Friday.
A top diplomat representing EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also took part in the meeting which was held in the French mission of the Austrian capital.
"Everybody came out of the meeting pleased that there is willingness to continue the discussions," said the sources requesting anonymity.
"There is a possibility of moving things forward and the EU will do the maximum. The Europeans found the Iranian delegation constructive and with a willingness to engage. The reaction is positive," said the EU sources.
"There are serious elements which constitute a package and we found the Iranians in a position to engage in such a discussion," said the sources, adding that the Americans are fully aware of the developments.
Next week's expected meeting is most likely to be held in Vienna, the seat of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
VIENNA, Oct 22 (AFP) - Europe's three key states are to meet with Iran next week to hear Tehran's response to their offer for it to avoid possible UN sanctions and receive nuclear technology by indefinitely suspending uranium enrichment, diplomats said Friday.
"Yes, it will be in Vienna, probably in mid-week," a diplomat close to the talks told AFP.
Britain, France and Germany had Thursday presented Iran with an EU-backed deal for it to receive valuable technology, including a light-water nuclear reactor which would produce less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Tehran wants to build, if it indefinitely suspended all uranium enrichment activities, said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.
The Europeans were following up on a call in September by the UN nuclear watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, for Iran to immediately suspend uranium enrichment, the process that makes fuel for civilian reactors but also the explosive material for nuclear weapons.
"We are at an initial stage, matters have to be considered on both sides," Iranian official Sirus Naseri told reporters after the three-hour meeting in Vienna.
"I think we'll get together in a matter of a few days," Naseri said Thursday.
An EU diplomat in Brussels said Friday that next week's meeting would be in "the same place, with the same people," including the political director for EU foreign affairs representative Javier Solana.
In Berlin, foreign ministry spokesman Walter Lindner said Germany wanted Iran to be given every available opportunity to continue negotiations with Europe until November 25, when the IAEA holds its next meeting.
Washington, which accuses Iran of working secretly to develop nuclear weapons, is pressuring the IAEA to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.
The diplomat in Vienna said the talks had a difficult start as the Iranians were "aggressive. They were a little bit recriminatory saying 'you let us down, you betrayed us."
The European trio had in October 2003 struck a deal with Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, against promises of getting technology transfers.
But the deal has soured with the Europeans calling for Iran to halt all enrichment activities, including making centrifuges and the feed gas for the centrifuges which refine the uranium, and Iran saying such support activities were not included in the agreement.
Iran had expected the Europeans to get the IAEA to wrap up its investigation of the Iranian nuclear program by last June and for Tehran to get a clean bill of health on the atomic issue, which would open the door to increased trade and acquiring technology.
The diplomat said the Europeans had Thursday "tried to win the Iranians over, saying that the proposal was being presented in a careful, moderate prudent way."
The Iranians "said they hoped the proposal would be perceived in this way in the public arena," the diplomat said.
He said they said it was "very important for us" that for domestic Iranian politics they didn't look as if they had been pressured.
Another diplomat said the Europeans had presented their four-page proposal "and pressed for full suspension."
"Iran's response was that the proposal was unbalanced and that they would only agree to a temporary suspension since they would do nothing that would cut off their right to enrich uranium," the diplomat said.
The diplomat said the Iranians were expected to give a counter-proposal next week, which might call for them to reap the incentives offered "the moment they say yes to suspension, rather than waiting for a long-term agreement to be worked out."
10/22/2004 15:56 GMT - AFP
EU, Iran meet again next week on nuclear offer
22 Oct 2004 17:19:37 GMTSource: Reuters
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA, Oct 22 (Reuters) - French, British and German officials meet Iranian negotiators on Wednesday to discuss a European offer of nuclear technology if Tehran ends its uranium enrichment programme, diplomats said on Friday.
"The meeting is planned for Wednesday in Vienna," a senior diplomat close to the talks told Reuters.
Senior officials from the four countries met on Thursday to discuss the European proposal, which Iranian officials said they would be studying closely.
Both sides briefed IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei about Thursday's meeting. He said talks were "moving in the right direction", an agency spokeswoman said.
If Iran rejects the EU offer, diplomats say most European nations will back U.S. demands that Tehran be reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets on Nov. 25.
No breakthroughs are expected at next week's talks and Western diplomats said they did not expect Iran was ready to accept the offer.
They said the Iranians might try to suggest a compromise under which Iran would temporarily suspend some parts of its enrichment programme, which could be used to make fissile uranium for weapons. But this would not satisfy the EU.
The EU "big three" have the reluctant blessing of the United States, diplomats say, despite Washington's belief Iran is using the talks to buy time to acquire the capability to build a nuclear bomb.
"At this point Iranian compliance doesn't seem likely ... based on Iran's history and their current expressions and the things that they're saying and doing right now," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday.
The IAEA, the U.N. atomic watchdog body, has been investigating Iran's nuclear programme for more than two years. It has uncovered many previously hidden activities that could be related to a weapons programme but has found no "smoking gun".
Iran maintains its nuclear programme is only for power generation -- a process that can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors or material for atom bombs.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) -- the political wing of the Iranian exiled group known as the People's Mujahideen Organisation (MKO) -- was angered by one section of the document outlining the terms of the EU's offer to Iran.
This section of the offer, seen in full by Reuters, said the EU would "would continue to regard the MKO as a terrorist organisation" if Iran complied with the terms of the offer.
The NCRI said the issue of whether or not the MKO was a terrorist organisation had nothing to do with Iran's willingness to accept the offer and should not be included.
The U.S. State Department has also labeled the MKO and NCRI as terrorist organisations.
The Bush administration has imposed sanctions on two Indian scientists for selling nuclear technology to Iran and is planning additional arms-related sanctions, U.S. officials said.
The two scientists were identified by the Bush administration as Shri Ch. Surendar and Y. Sivaraman Prasad, both former directors of the Nuclear Power Corp. of India, the state-run utility.
The scientists were among 14 persons and companies that were listed in the Federal Register for their role in transferring nuclear weapons-related technology to Iran in violation of U.S. counterproliferation laws.
Officials said additional sanctions have been approved and could be imposed on India in the near future in response to other Indian transfers of weapons-related goods to Iran.
The additional sanctions were slated to be discussed in New Delhi during meetings this week between senior Indian leaders and Christina Rocca, assistant secretary of state for South Asia.
Miss Rocca is in India as part of a program known as Next Steps in Strategic Partnership. The talks are focused on ways of loosening controls on the transfer of U.S. high-technology goods to India, which have been restricted because of India's nuclear arms program and its 1998 underground nuclear tests.
The sanctions on the scientists, which were listed in the Federal Register Sept. 29, are largely symbolic. They bar the scientists from doing business with the U.S. government or acquiring U.S. goods requiring export licenses.
Officials said the Indian scientists were involved in helping Iran's nuclear program. Tehran has refused to halt production of highly enriched uranium, which can be used for weapons.
However, public identification of the scientists and their role in arms proliferation can be a deterrent that will make further exchanges more difficult, the officials said.
Officials compared the Indian scientists to Pakistan's Abdul Qadeer Khan, who ran a covert network that provided weapons equipment, namely centrifuges, to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But officials said the Indians' activities were not as damaging as Mr. Khan's.
U.S. plans for expanding cooperation with India in the area of high-technology and defense goods have been made more difficult by India's trade with Iran, the officials said.
India and Iran signed an agreement in January 2003 that called for science and technology and defense cooperation. Last month, India's state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. announced that it sought government permission to sell Iran several upgraded Super Fledermaus air-defense radars.
The Bush administration is opposing the radar transfer as it could be used to guard Iranian nuclear facilities.
A U.S. trade official said the technology dialogue with India has produced assurances that New Delhi will not provide weapons-related technology to Iran. Also, the government has agreed to allow a U.S. export-control official to be posted at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, to monitor sensitive U.S. technology transfers.
The official said the two scientists' activities did not appear to be sanctioned by the Indian government. "There are problems and we're trying to address them in our dialogue," the official said.
U.S. officials said evidence of the scientists' involvement in the Iranian nuclear program comes from intelligence information.
Officials would not provide details on the pending sanctions against India but said they involved weapons-related technology transfers to Iran.
U.S. and Indian officials reported making progress in the talks on advanced technology cooperation yesterday. The two nations are hoping to cooperate on civilian nuclear and space technology, high-technology trade and missile defense, a State Department official said.
US names Iran price
Washington, Oct. 22: An olive branch now being extended to New Delhi to reconsider sanctions against two Indian scientists Y.S.R. Prasad and C. Surendar -- may be a ploy by Washington to get the Manmohan Singh government to reveal the full extent of the wide-ranging cooperation that exists between India and Iran.
Bush administration officials are now categorically telling reporters in Washington in background briefings that they are willing to re-examine the penalties imposed on the two men who once headed the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.
The concession, according to sources here, has also been conveyed during meetings between Christina Rocca, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, and officials in New Delhi this week.
Questioned on the record soon after their names appeared on the Federal Register of sanctioned entities, state department officials were beating about the bush, merely hinting that protestations of innocence by the two men may be looked into.
Momentum here in favour of a review of the sanctions against Prasad and Surendar gathered speed this week after national security adviser J.. Dixit concluded a three-day visit to Tehran on October 19.
The visit made it clear that the Manmohan Singh government would not turn back from the wide-ranging cooperation that India has built with Iran, although President George W. Bush has made the Islamic government in Tehran a part of his infamous axis of evil.
Dixits visit has worried Washington because he is the author of a historic change in Indias policy towards Iran during the years from 1992 to 1994 when he was foreign secretary.
The change weaned Irans mullahs away from Pakistan and culminated in 1994 in unprecedented support by Iranian diplomats for India at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva against Pakistan.
The Iranians persuaded Pakistan to withdraw its resolution in Geneva on Kashmir, which had a fair chance of passing. If the resolution had passed, it would have been a permanent thorn in Indias side like the notorious UN resolution on Kashmir plebiscite, adopted shortly after Indias partition.
Bush administration officials who have been briefing reporters this week about the possibility of letting Prasad and Surendar off the hook plainly say their offer is conditional: India must provide irrefutable proof that they were not involved in any A.Q. Khan-type of shenanigans with Tehran.
The catch there is that once India takes this bait and starts sharing information with the Americans, administration officials here will keep insisting that the proof provided to them is inconclusive and that more information is needed.
Typically, they will keep digging until they can get everything they are seeking about Indo-Iranian relations. All the while, they will provide no guarantees that the two Indian scientists will be relieved of the sanctions.
What the Americans have in mind is the kind of diplomatic arm-twisting the Third World nations are familiar with.
Once the process of sharing information with the Americans is set in motion, India will also not be in control of its media fallout.
On any day. the state departments spokesman can get up on his podium and get international media attention on the issue by saying that New Delhi has failed to provide proof of the innocence of the two men.
Already, the Americans have said that New Delhi was consulted prior to the sanctions, but that it failed to respond. Effectively, this has put the ball in Indias court.
One American official with experience of how things are done in New Delhi told this correspondent: These guys (Prasad and Surendar) are no regular guys. They have clout in Delhi. They will do the job of arm-twisting there into giving us the dope we are looking for.
In order to tighten the screws on India, officials have discreetly circulated speculation this week that more Indian entities would be sanctioned after the November 2 election for alleged ties with Iran.
VIENNA -- An Iranian exile group bristled Friday at a European offer of incentives aimed at getting the Tehran regime to stop uranium enrichment, saying it included a promise that the European Union would continue viewing one of its key members as a terrorist organization.
In a statement made available to The Associated Press, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran said the text - formally presented to Iran this week by the U.K., France and Germany - "makes a mockery of the war against terrorism."
European negotiators included a reference to the Iranian resistance group MEK in their last-chance offer of a trade deal and peaceful civilian nuclear technology to entice Iran to give up enrichment and avoid the looming threat of U.N. sanctions.
The document presented to an Iranian delegation in Vienna Thursday included a pledge that the Europeans "would continue to regard the MEK as a terrorist organization." The MEK, the main group in the resistance council's coalition, also is on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations.
The council called the continued terrorist designation "shameful," and it accused the Iranian authorities of using the E.U.'s characterization as a pretext "to torture, execute and suppress dissidents."
The council urged the international community to stop blacklisting the group, which it contends will "only lead to the rise in human rights abuses in Iran and the increasing role of the mullahs in international terrorism."
Last month, the National Council of Resistance of Iran claimed to have uncovered more evidence that Iran 's nuclear activities are broader than it has publicly admitted. It alleged that Iran has a hidden uranium processing plant near Bandar Abbas, a major industrial port in southern Iran that is home to a missile production facility, an oil refinery and a large thermal power plant.
Two years ago, the Iranian opposition was the first to make public that Iran was running a secret uranium enrichment program.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and geared solely toward generating electricity. The U.S. contends it is covertly trying to build atomic weaponry and is pressing to report it to the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose punishing sanctions.
Diplomats involved in the incentives package could not immediately be reached for comment Friday on the council's protest.
E.U. officials in Brussels, Belgium, said Friday they were pleased with the way the talks with Iran went and described the proposal under discussion as an E.U. initiative. They said there will be another meeting in Vienna next week on the package.
Thursday, Iranian delegates said they would take the proposal back to Tehran for study.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors will deliver a fresh assessment of Iran 's cooperation with the nuclear agency on Nov. 25.
The U.K., France and Germany have said they likely will back Washington's call to report Iran to the Security Council as defiant and noncompliant at that meeting if Tehran does not agree to the incentives, suspend uranium enrichment and agree to IAEA verification that it has done so.
Iran has resumed testing, assembling and making centrifuges used to enrich uranium, heightening U.S. concerns that its sole purpose is to build a bomb.
Analysts have said Iran will wait until after the US elections to respond to a European offer to avoid possible UN sanctions by indefinitely suspending uranium enrichment.
The analysts added the deal had no chance of success if the United States did not back the British-French-German offer, which includes non-nuclear items such as supporting Iran's joining the World Trade Organisation.
According to a confidential document prepared by the Europeans in advance of the talks, Britain, France and Germany presented Iran on Thursday with a deal to receive valuable nuclear technology if it indefinitely suspended all uranium-enrichment activities.
The deal includes a light-water reactor which would produce less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Tehran wants to build.
Iran said the talks would continue. "We are at an initial stage, matters have to be considered on both sides," Iranian official Cyrus Naseri told reporters after the three-hour meeting in Vienna.
"It was pretty clear that this meeting would not be decisive,"
Gary Samore of the London think-tank International Institute of Strategic Studies, said on Friday.
On November 25, the IAEA will
decide if Iran is cooperating
On November 25, the IAEA will
The United States wants the Vienna-based IAEA, which since
February 2003 has been investigating Iran on US claims that the Islamic Republic has a covert nuclear weapons programme, to send Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.
But the European trio have so far opposed this, favouring instead a policy of "constructive engagement" to get Tehran to cooperate.
Samore said he thought the Iranians were "waiting for the US
elections" on 2 November, with different calculations depending on whether incumbent President George Bush or his challenger John Kerry wins.
Samore said the Iranian goal is to have the international Iran might try to take advantage
community recognise its right to uranium enrichment, which makes fuel for civilian reactors but can also manufacture the explosive material for atomic bombs.
of a Kerry victory, analysts say
Iran might try to take advantage
The Iranians might try to take advantage of a Kerry victory by agreeing to a three-month full extension from November until when Kerry takes office in January.
"I think if Kerry wins, Iran would strike a compromise that
would essentially delay the issue until early next year," Samore said.
"I don't get a sense that Iran is ready to agree to the
suspension. I could see the Iranians restoring the suspension for only a brief period of time," Samore said.
But David Albright, a former IAEA inspector and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said, he "can't believe Iran would turn down" the European trio's package, which includes a recognition of Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology, measures to increase trade and backing of some of Iran's regional security concerns.
"If Iran turns this down, reasonable people would have to
[conclude] the country wants nuclear weapons," Albright said.
Albright, who is a physicist, said he was concerned about
offering Iran a light-water reactor, since this can still produce
fissionable material, but he said he thought the risks could be
managed by using the right fuel, namely 19% enriched
Albright said the larger problem is that "Iran wants assurances
from the United States that Washington is not going to overthrow the Tehran regime".
The deal "can't move forward without the United States buying into it", Albright said.
Every country except 2 or 3 are assisting Iran with scientific and economic assistance to join the nuclear club.
Talk about die consequences.
Time is running out.
The European proposal is an excessive demand that is contrary to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and unacceptable, Alaeddin Brujerdi, head of parliaments national security and foreign policy committee, told conservative newspaper Ressalat.
Britain, France and Germany presented Iran Thursday with a deal to receive valuable nuclear technology if the Islamic republic indefinitely suspended all uranium enrichment activities, according to a document prepared by the Europeans.
Thursdays meeting was to give Iran a last chance to come clean before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decides on November 25 whether Iran is cooperating with the UN watchdog on its nuclear activities.
The United States wants the IAEA, which since February 2003 has been investigating US claims that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme, to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
Under the deal offered Thursday, Iran would receive technology including including a light-water reactor, which would produce less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Tehran is planning to build.
Iran has insisted on its right to uranium enrichment, which makes fuel for civilian reactors but can also manufacture the explosive material for atomic bombs.
Iran is entering a qualitatively new phase in its modern history. The shift, moreover, is occurring at several levels simultaneously due to the interplay between the changes in the domestic political map with the swing back to the conservatives and outside pressure escalating over the nuclear issue.
The intensification of foreign pressure could not have come at a more delicate time for Iran whose conservative wing, if it is to consolidate itself in power, must "purge" the judicial and executive decision-making centres of reformists. It is precisely here that Iran shows one of its weak points in the face of foreign pressure.
The power struggle over the shape of the government has so far come out overwhelmingly in favour of the conservatives. However, the façade of democratic openness that the regime tries to project at home and abroad is beginning to crack. Indicative of this are the actions of Iran's Vice-President Mohammed Ali Abtahi and former prime minister Mir Hussein Mousawi. Abtahi resigned in protest against the mounting conservative pressures against reformists and Mousawi decided not to run in the forthcoming presidential elections in May on a reformist ticket because he feels the pace of change is too slow.
As Iran's "conservative versus reformist" battle continues to unfold, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has declared that it has given Iran until the next IAEA meeting in November to prove that it does not possess nuclear technology. If Iran fails to meet this deadline it will turn the Iranian nuclear case over to the UN Security Council. Regardless of this contorted logic that has Iran guilty before proven innocent, the fulfillment of this ultimatum would have grave legal ramifications for Tehran.
By merely coming under UN Security Council scrutiny over its nuclear capabilities, Iran effectively loses its sovereign status. Iran would become subject to internationally stipulated deadlines, conditions and inspection demands, as was the case with Iraq from the end of the second Gulf war until the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The IAEA decision marks the first concrete step in this direction as it constitutes the first time that Iran has been given a deadline to prove that it does not possess nuclear technology for military purposes. During this time it has also been instructed to stop all uranium enrichment processes.
Such is the nature of nuclear technology that it will be very difficult for Iran to prove that it is on the right side of that fine hairline's difference between peaceful and military nuclear technology. More difficult yet is to prove lack of the intent to develop nuclear technology for military purposes since the possession of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes renders the possible transition to military usage so much easier.
The decision to ban Iran from possessing this technology is a political one par excellence. The last thing Washington and Israel want is a nuclear power in the region altering the balance of power and capable of thwarting their own political and strategic ambitions. This is the substance of the Iranian nuclear issue; all other technical and legal demands on Iran are merely variations on the theme.
Iran peers out at a barren and brutal international landscape. It has no major allies to speak of now that the countries of the G8, following their latest meeting, have ranged themselves against it.
Even France, which has traditionally maintained a strong and special relationship with Iran, has cautioned Tehran to stop refining uranium and to forget about possessing nuclear technology because "time is growing short." Perhaps France had learned from its experience in opposing the war to occupy Iraq. There was nothing to be gained from standing in the path of America's ambitions and facilitating these ambitions would guarantee it a place on the victors' table.
Nevertheless, the Iranians have often proved themselves skillful negotiators, tacticians and hagglers in the global political bazaar. They are good at the calculated offensive when circumstances permit, but they also know when to bow out gracefully when a storm threatens.
Perhaps, therefore, Iran will manage to bargain on a willingness to abandon its nuclear programme. This could be in exchange for guarantees of non-interference with its political system and for participating as an internationally recognised power in the formulation of the regional policies and designs. In other words, perhaps it will be able to obtain the strategic advantages of possessing nuclear technology without actually possessing it.
Europe is currently using the carrot-and-stick approach towards Iran, offering it economic and political privileges if Iran abandons its possession of nuclear technology. The US, on the other hand, has succeeded in tightening the legal and diplomatic siege on Iran preparatory to homing in its sights following the US presidential elections.
It should be stressed that the imminent confrontation between the US and Tehran is not one between "good" and "evil" or "Christianity" and "Islam". It is a conflict between a regional power that possesses all the qualifications for this role and has so far succeeded in preserving a level of political independence, and the world's sole superpower whose leadership has thrown international law to the wind and is thrusting itself upon the world like a bull in a china shop.
The storm clouds are gathering over Iran and the wind is howling. But, even if this particular storm blows over, there is no doubt that the meeting of the IAEA in November will mark a turning point in the history of Iran and the Middle East as a whole.
DUBAI: Iran has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to add 97.2 billion dollars to its Iraqi debt assessment to cover reparations for the 1980-1988 war between the two states, Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reports in its latest edition.
Quoting authoritative sources, the industry newsletter said the request, made in a letter sent to the IMF last month, could not have come at a worse time for Iraq as it negotiates a reduction in its foreign debt.
According to the IMF, Iraq is saddled with a foreign debt estimated at 120 billion dollars, excluding reparations it owes Kuwait for its 1990 invasion of the emirate and the subsequent Gulf War.
Pressure is building among Western creditors to reach an agreement on canceling all or part of the debt by the end of the year.
But key creditors in the Group of Seven industrialized nations are at odds over just how much should be forgiven immediately, with France advocating a 50-percent reduction and the United States and Britain urging a cut of 95 percent.
According to MEES, the Iranian claim covers the non-military cost of the war to Iran, and while it is not the first time Tehran has made such claims, it is the first time it has put its claims forward to an international organization.
It is unclear how the IMF, which concluded a debt sustainability analysis earlier this year, will deal with Tehrans request since there is no UN resolution that takes into account the Iranian compensation claim, the Cyprus-based newsletter added in its edition due out on Monday. afp
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