Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 25, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 10/24/2004 9:03:00 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.
|TEHRAN (Reuters) - A key Iranian nuclear facility which the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog has urged Tehran to shut down is nearing completion, a senior Iranian nuclear official says.|
The Uranium Conversion Facility in the central city of Isfahan is part of nuclear fuel cycle activities which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Tehran until late November to suspend.
If it does not it faces being sent to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Washington says Iran's efforts to produce its own nuclear fuel are part of a covert bid to produce nuclear arms. Iran says it wants the fuel for nuclear reactors that generate electricity.
"Right now, the Isfahan UCF facility is 70 percent operational," said Mohammad Ghanadi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation.
"I can say that 21 out of the 24 workshops in this facility have become operational," he added in a speech at the plant to visiting lawmakers, extracts of which were broadcast on state television.
The Isfahan plant is designed to convert uranium ore, or yellowcake, into uranium hexafluoride. This in turn can be spun in centrifuges to produce enriched uranium.
Moderately enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power reactors. But uranium can also be enriched further to make bomb-grade material.
Iran has announced plans to convert 37 tonnes of yellowcake at Isfahan -- enough to produce material for five atomic warheads according to nuclear experts.
But diplomats close to the IAEA say Iran has so far produced only a few kilograms of uranium hexafluoride in experimental tests at Isfahan.
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Sunday rejected a proposal made by European Union officials last week for Iran to scrap its fuel cycle activities in return for assistance with a civilian nuclear programme and the possibility of an EU trade deal.
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran was keen to pursue further negotiations with the EU over its nuclear programme ahead of the IAEA's November 25 meeting.
Ghanadi also said Iran's first uranium mine at Saghand in central Iran would become operational by March 2005 and said there were good prospects for other mines elsewhere in the country.
Esfahan [Isfahan] is said to be the primary location of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Nuclear Technology/Research Center in Esfahan is Iran's largest nuclear research center, and is said to employ as many as 3,000 scientists. Iran signed an agreement France in 1975 to build a nuclear research center in Isfahan, to provide training for personnel to operate the Bushehr reactor, located at the University of Isfahan. As of 1977 Iran reportedly planned to have at least one reactor and a small French-built fuel reprocessing facility in Isfahan by 1980.
The University of Isfahan, with over 50 years of experience, is one of the leading higher educational institutes in Iran. The university embraces seven faculties with thirty departments as well as an evening school. The University of Isfahan has a unique location at the foot of the Kuh Sofeh (Sofeh mountain) with an area of 4.5 million square meters. Over 1000 graduate students and 10,000 under-graduate students are trained in various fields of Science, Engineering, Human Science, Economics, Linguistics, Educational Science and Sport Science.
A facility associated with the Nuclear Technology/Research Center was reportedly opened in 1984, reportedly at a location about four kilometers outside the city and between the villages of Shahrida and Fulashans. The NIMA GEOnet Names Server (GNS) has no record of either populated place, nor of phonetically similar place names.
Facilities at the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center (ENTC) include a Miniaturized Neutron Source Reactor [MNSR] research reactor of Chinese origin with a capacity of 27 kilowatt thermal (kWt). China and Iran signed a nuclear cooperation agreement on 21 January 1990 that reportedly included the construction of a 27 MW plutonium production reactor at Isfahan. In September 1991 American satellite imagery reportedly detected initial construction activities. The open literature is rather confused as to whether the facility in question was a new 27 MW reactor, or the 27 KW miniature neutron source. Preparatory steps were taken in the mid-1990s to bring the reactor on line, although the reactor remained incomplete as of 1997. A Chinese-supplied heavy-water, zero-power research reactor is also located at the Center. Other extensive construction activity is in progress at the center, although there contradictory reports as to whether the new buildings are designed for nuclear weapons technologies.
The Nuclear Fuel Research & Production Center was founded in 1974 for scientific and technical support of country's comprehensive nuclear power plant program. At that time extensive site selection studies were made and present location, Roshandasht, 15Km southeast of Esfahan was selected. A number of activities were were performed before 1979 with consultancy of Technicatom of France. This included construction of temporary office buildings, establishment of temporary laboratories, and general site preparation including roads, water supply, electricity, etc. Design and preparation of preliminary drawings of workshops , laboratories and office buildings for the main site was completed, as was the fencing and design of green area forthe Center's site and protected zone.
During the period 1979-1981, due to policy change in country's NPP plans, the objective ofthe Center was reviewed and modified and its activities started at the temporary site in 1981. At present, Center has planned development of its capabilities in scientific and engineering abilities to establish industrial units related to Nuclear energy.
Iran announced plans in 1995 to build a uranium hexafluoride (UF6) conversion plant at the Nuclear Technical Centre in Esfahan with Chinese assistance. During a November 1996 IAEA visit to Esfahan, Iran informed the IAEA Department of Safeguards that it planned to build a UF6 conversion plant. The UF6 plant was scheduled to open after 2000, but China claimed to have abandoned the project under pressure from the United States. Since Russia will supply the nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactors, Iran had no civil power plant requirement for uranium hexafluoride.
Construction at the site is said to include a hexafluoride plant being built with Chinese assistance. Other reports suggested that this facility may be located at the Rudan Nuclear Research Center in Fasa. Indications of the existence of this facility [wherever it may be located] included Russian press reports of a shipment of uranium hexafluoride gas from China to Iran in late 1994, as well as purchases of hydrogen fluoride from Germany and attempts to buy fluorification equipment from Britain.
China pledged in October 1997 to halt cooperation on a uranium conversion facility (UCF) and not to engage in any new nuclear cooperation with Iran but said it would complete cooperation on two nuclear projects: a small research reactor and a zirconium production facility at Esfahan that Iran will use to produce cladding for reactor fuel.
Chinese entities are continuing work on a Zirconium Production Facility at Esfahan that will enable Iran to produce cladding for reactor fuel. As an adherent to the NPT, Iran is required to accept IAEA safeguards on its nuclear material. The IAEA's Additional Protocol requires states to declare production of zirconium fuel cladding and gives the IAEA the right of access to resolve questions or inconsistencies related to the declarations, but prior to November 2003 Iran had made no moves to bring the Additional Protocol into force. Moreover, Iran remained the only NPT adherent with a full-scope safeguards agreement that has not adopted a subsidiary agreement obligating early declaration of nuclear facilities. Zirconium production, other than production of fuel cladding, is not subject to declaration or inspection.
A 05 May 2003 letter from Iran informed the agency for the first time of its plan to commence construction in 2003 of a Fuel Manufacturing Plant [FMP] at Isfahan. The stated purpose of the FMP is fabrication of fuel assemblies for the IR-40 and for the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
The Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) is a facility declared to the IAEA in 2000 and currently under construction at Esfahan. In February 2003, before the top officials of the Ministry of Science, Iranian President Mohammad Khatanmi reportedly announced a program for a complete nuclear fuel cycle, which was to include the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan. At the UCF Facility in Isfahan, using the yellow cake prepared in the Ardekan, a number of by-products including uranium hexofloride (UF6), metallic uranium, and uranium oxide (Uo2) are produced. These are later used for uranium enrichment.
Accoring to Iran, in the early 1990s, when the country decided to reconsider its nuclear program, it was not clear whether it will consist of CANDU reactors, Magnox reactors or light water reactors. Therefore it was decided to include a U-metal production line in the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) which could also be used to produce shielding material.
Iran has sought to obtain turnkey facilities, such as the UCF, that ostensibly would be used to support fuel production for the Bushehr power plant. But the UCF could be used in any number of ways to support fissile material production needed for a nuclear weaponspecifically, production of uranium hexafluoride for use as a feedstock for uranium enrichment operations and production of uranium compounds suitable for use as fuel in a plutonium production reactor.
In September 1995, China's ambassador to Iran admited that China was selling uranium enrichment technology to Iran, and in early 1996 China informed the IAEA of the proposed sale of a uranium conversion facility to Iran. The United States and China reached agreement in October 1997 that China would halt assistance to Iran's nuclear efforts. China pledged to halt cooperation on a uranium conversion facility (UCF) and to forego any new nuclear cooperation with Iran but said it would complete cooperation on two nuclear projects: a small research reactor and a zirconium production facility at Esfahan that Iran will use to produce cladding for reactor fuel. According to some reports, at that time the UCF plant was close to completion and was anticipated to be operational by 2000. Some reports suggest that by that time Chinese assistance had enabled Iran to complete construction of the UCF plant. In December 1998, US intelligence reports were publicly cited as having revealed that two Russian nuclear research institutes were actively negotiating to sell Iran a 40-megawatt heavy-water research reactor and a uranium-conversion facility.
On 10 February 2003 Gholamreza Aqazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said that Iran had started an ambitious nuclear energy program and was poised to begin processing uranium. He said that the uranium ore processing plant should come on line soon in the central city of Isfahan and preliminary work had begun on a uranium enrichment plant. Aqazadeh said the first steps had been taken to build an enrichment plant, "but we still have a long way to go to have this plant come onstream." Aqazadeh said the enrichment plant would be built in Kashan [at Natanz] in central Iran. The fuel would come from another facility in Isfahan, where a Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) was close to inauguration.
A much-anticipated report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, distributed to governments on 06 June 2003 in advance of a meeting of the agency's board of governors on 16 June 2003, has concluded that Iran had failed to comply with its nuclear safeguards agreement. The IAEA report revealed Iran is building a previously unacknowledged heavy-water research reactor. That facility could increase Iran's technological options for the production of nuclear weapons.
In the report Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Report by the Director General International Atomic Energy Agency [06 Jun 2003], the Director General identified a number of corrective actions by Iran which were necessary to enable the Agency to verify the previously unreported nuclear material declared to have been imported by Iran in 1991. These actions included the provision of design information on the waste storage facility at Esfahan, and the granting of access to that facility as well as to Anarak and Qom, where waste resulting from the processing of the imported material is stored or has been disposed of.
The Agency received preliminary design information on the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) under construction at ENTC in July 2000, and has been carrying out continuous design information verification (DIV) since then. In that design information, the facility was described as being intended for the conversion of uranium ore concentrate into UF6 for enrichment outside Iran, and for the subsequent conversion (at UCF) of the enriched UF6 into low enriched UO2 enriched uranium metal and depleted uranium metal.
In a letter to the Agency dated 9 October 2003 from Mr. E. Khalilipour, Vice President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Iran provided information that had not been provided earlier on research activities carried out on uranium conversion processes, including acknowledgement of laboratory and bench scale experiments. Specifically, Iran confirmed that, between 1981 and 1993, it had carried out at the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Centre (ENTC) bench scale preparation of UO2 and, at the Tehran Nuclear Research Centre (TNRC), bench scale preparation of ammonium uranyl carbonate (AUC), UO3, UF4 and UF6. In the same letter, Iran further acknowledged that, contrary to its previous statements, practically all of the materials important to uranium conversion had been produced in laboratory and bench scale experiments (in kilogram quantities) between 1981 and 1993 without having been reported to the Agency. These activities were carried out at TNRC and ENTC.
In addition to the issues associated with the testing of UCF processes, the Agency had previously raised with Iran questions related to the purpose and use of nuclear material to be produced at UCF, such as uranium metal. In its letter of 21 October 2003, Iran acknowledged that the uranium metal had been intended not only for the production of shielding material, as previously stated, but also for use in the laser enrichment programme.
In the meetings held 27 October-1 November 2003, Iran provided additional information about these experiments. According to Iranian officials, the experiments took place between 1988 and 1992, and involved pressed or sintered UO2 pellets prepared at ENTC using depleted uranium that had been exempted from safeguards in 1978. The capsules containing the pellets had been irradiated in TRR in connection with a project to produce fission product isotopes of molybdenum, iodine and xenon. The plutonium separation was carried out at TNRC in three shielded glove boxes, which, according to Iran, were dismantled in 1992 and later stored in a warehouse at ENTC along with related equipment. Iran stated that these experiments had been carried out to learn about the nuclear fuel cycle, and to gain experience in reprocessing chemistry.
On 1 November 2003, Iran agreed to submit all nuclear material accountancy reports, and design information for ENTC and JHL, covering these activities.
An IAEA Report dated Nov 10, 2003 found that Iran had failed to report the production of UO2 targets at ENTC and their irradiation in TRR, the subsequent processing of those targets, including the separation of plutonium, the production and transfer of resulting waste, and the storage of unprocessed irradiated targets at TNRC. It also found that Iran had failed to provide design information for the facilities at ENTC and TNRC involved in the production of UO2, UO3, UF4, UF6 and AUC.
The UCF project is not one of the projects Iran agreed to suspend voluntarily. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed in February 2004 that Iran would start the Esfahan ICF project in March 2004. In early 2004 Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) Director Reza Aqazadeh announced that the Esfahan UCF project was in the experimental stage and that the center would soon begin experimental production. He stated that the Esfahan UCF center would produce all the raw materials needed for fuel cycle activities, including hexafluoride uranium, metal uranium, and uranium oxide.
On 09 March 2004 Alireza Jafarzadeh, who disclosed in August 2002 Iran's facilities at Natanz and Arak, said Iranian leaders decided at a recent meeting to seek an atom bomb "at all costs" and begin enriching uranium at secret plants. "They set a timetable to get a bomb by the end of 2005 at the latest," the former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran said. "They will heavily rely on smaller secret enrichment sites at Karaj, Esfahan and at other places."
On 12 June 2004 Iran rejected European demands that it freeze additional parts of its atomic program, including the heavy-water reactor. "We will not accept any new obligation," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said at a news conference. "If anyone asks us to give up Isfahan industries to change yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride gas or to give up heavy-water facilities in Arak, we cannot accept such an extra demand that is contradictory to our legal rights."
On 18 June 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board ofGovernors adopted a resolution submitted by France, Germany and Britain, that called on Iran to freeze the construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak and the conversionof uranium in Isfahan.
Esfahan is also reportedly the site of Irans largest missile assembly and production plant. This ballistic missile production facility, built with North Korean assistance, is said to be capable of producing liquid propellants and missile structural components. According to reports published in Russia, apparently based on information developed by the Russian Federal Security Service, Esfahan is involved in the production of Scud-B and Scud-C surface-to-surface missiles by assembling components bought in North Korea and China. According to the 1995 Jane's Intelligence Review - Special Report No. 6 on Iran's weapons, North Korea helped build a "Scud Mod B" (320 km/1000 kg) assembly plant in Iran in 1988, but the plant apparently never manufactured any missiles. North Korea aided Iran in converting a missile maintenance facility into an assembly plant for the Scud Mod Cs. Other activities at this facility are reported to include R&D on unguided missiles and production of missile frames.
Esfahan is said to be one of Iran's major chemical weapons facilities, along with the facilities located at Damghan [the primary production facility], Parchin and Qazvin. Iran continues to upgrade and expand its chemical warfare production infrastructure and munitions arsenal, which includes blister, blood, choking agents, and nerve agents.
The Esfahan area is a major center for Iran's advanced defense industry, with plants for munition productions, tank overhaul, and helicopter and fixed wing aircraft maintenance. The main operational facilities for the army's aviation units are located at Esfahan, presumably at Khatamin Air Base northeast of the city.
Standing 1570 meters above sea level, Isfahan is 415 Km south of Tehran. This world-famous city with many historical buildings, bridges and eye-catching places, is one of the most significant tourist attractions in Iran, so that almost all tourists visiting Iran go on a visit to Isfahan. Dating back to circa 2500 years ago, Isfahan has been the capital of Iran in three historical periods. The golden age of Isfahan was in the Safavid era (1501 - 1736).
Enjoying ancient monuments with magnificent architecture and eye-pleasing tilework on the one hand, and beautiful handicrafts on the other, Isfahan attracts a large number of tourists interested in the Iranian art and history. The Imam Mosque is situated to the south of Naqsh-e-Jahan sq. Built in the reign of Shah Abbas, tilework and architecture of this mosque are amazingly superb. Its minarets are 48 meters high.
Situated to the west of Naqsh-e-Jahan sq, the Ali Qapoo Palace belongs to the Safavid period. It was used for the reception of the ambassadors and envoys from other countries. àli Qapoo is a six storeyed building with numerous rooms, the plasterwork and paintings of which are extremely impressive. The Chehel Sotoon Palace is another building dating back to the Safavid period, builtamidst a vast garden covering an area of 67000 sq m. The building has a veranda with 18 pillars and a large pool in front of it. Being mirrored in the still water of the pool, the pillars create a beautiful view. The wall-paintings in the interior of the building are superlative in their kind.
Being unique in architecture and construction, the Si-o-Se Pol Bridge has thirty three arches through which the Zayandeh Rood river passes. It was built in the reign of Shah Abbas. The Chahar Bagh School was built during the rule of Shah Sultan Hoseyn for theology students. Its beautiful dome is an architectural triumph. Built in the reign of Shah Abbas, Vank Church is the most famous church in Iran. It contains numerous paintings with religious themes.
On the banks of Zayandeh Rood passing through the city, there are parks of Boostan and Mellat. These verdant parks, in harmony with the ancient bridges of Khajoo and Si-o-Se pol create pleasant views. There are many other sights in Isfahan. The following are some of them displaying extraordinary qualities of art: Kakh-e-Hasht Behesht (the palace of eight paradises), Monar Jonban (the moving minaret), Jame'mosque and the mausoleum of Khajeh Nezam-ol-Molk's.
Iran's senior negotiator said on Sunday that Tehran was preparing to face referral to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme but was still open for compromise.
Hossein Mousavian, foreign policy chief of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said that an incentive package presented last week by Germany, France and Britain was "not a balanced one" but had "not closed the door for negotiation".
The package - which includes the supply and removal after use of enriched uranium, the transfer of nuclear technology including a light-water reactor, and a trade agreement - was designed to win Iran's compliance to a demand from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, that it suspend all aspects of uranium enrichment.
|For the full transcript of the interview with Hossein Mousavian
Details of the mechanism could be discussed by experts from the IAEA and Europe, he said: "They sit together, we have no limitation".
But he stressed that Iran's co-operation would be within the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT), which gives signatories the right to enrich uranium and to receive nuclear technology.
"There is a chance to reach a compromise, if we both accept that we need bilateral commitments - with a clear timetable," he said.
Details of the European package were presented to Iranian negotiators last Thursday, and talks are due to resume on Wednesday.
The Europeans have called the package an ultimatum, and threatened to support a US demand that the next meeting of the IAEA, on November 25, refer Iran to the security council.
Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, said on Saturday that "we're approaching November and it is our position that we should continue to march toward action by the IAEA...that would refer it [Iran] to the Security Council if there is no complete satisfaction on the part of the Iranians toward the international obligations and commitments that they have made."
Iran agreed last October with the EU-3 to suspend the enrichment of uranium as a good-will measure and to sign an additional protocol to the NPT giving additional inspection rights to IAEA inspectors.
But Iranian officials have argued the Europeans have failed to provide Iran with nuclear technology, and that the IAEA is not empowered by the NPT to demand a member-state cease uranium enrichment.
"This is a political move by the board of the IAEA - the board should not politicize the technical issues," said Mr Mousavian.
Mr Mousavian revealed that a "very high-level meeting" in Tehran "two or three months ago" authorized preparations "on different dimensions - legal, security, political, economic" for Iran to face referral to the security council.
"The threat of...the security council is not one that the key decision-makers in Tehran will buy any more," he said. "I tell you this very frankly, the decision is made. We are prepared to go. If they have chosen confrontation, we are prepared."
Mr Mousavian agreed the chances of referral appeared to be "half-half".
"Fear existed before," he said, "but two or three months ago we decided that if the dialogue and negotiation are going to be one-way, and - if they are not going to stay within the framework of the NPT - then the option of the security council is welcome."
Posted Sunday, October 24, 2004
TEHRAN, 24 Oct. (IPS) The Islamic Republic of Iran rejected on Sunday 24 October 2004 the European Unions so-called Big 3 demanding Iran to stop all activities related to uranium enrichment.
"The question is not to permanently suspend uranium enrichment and the Europeans` proposal itself points to unlimited suspension until an agreement is reached", Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministrys senior spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters, reciprocating the latest proposal by Britain, France and Germany with the same kind of carrots and sticks, saying the offer was unbalanced.
Europeans are first required to assure Tehran of fulfilling what they promise, said Mr. Asefi said during his weekly press briefing, referring to the Trios demand of Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program in return for a guarantee of a supply of reactor fuel and to help Iran build a light-water power reactor.
The proposal is considered the last chance for Iran before the next meeting of the International nuclear watchdogs Board of Directors, scheduled for 25 of November to review Irans controversial atomic activities.
In its last meeting, the Board called on Iran to stop at once all its uranium enriching programs or, as proposed by the United States, the whole issue would be referred to the United Nations Security Council for eventual economic sanctions.
In a move to avoid the sanctions, the so-called Big 3, namely Britain, France and Germany took a step forward proposing to supply Iran the fuel it needed for its nuclear power station and the possibility of taking part in the construction of Irans future nuclear projects for civilian use.
"The Europeans should give us the assurance that if we reached an agreement, they could implement it", Mr. Asefi said at a weekly news briefing, adding that the Trios proposal was preliminary and not final.
The conditions sat by the Trio must be juxtaposed with more positive tones and its negative points must be eliminated or reduced, the spokesman said, repeating that the legitimate rights of Iran must be definitely respected and their legitimacy recognised.
Earlier on the day, Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian, one of Iran's top negotiators on nuclear issue, told the state-run, conservatives-controlled television that the Europeans' offer was positive but Iran could not give up its enrichment program.
"The Islamic Republic cannot rely on the fuel the Europeans are offering, because they might withdraw it any time there are differences in relations", he observed, adding, "We need to become independent in providing our own fuel".
His point was strongly backed by two of the regimes heavyweights, namely the Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the Speaker of the conservatives-controlled Majles Mr. Qolamali Haddad Adel, both stressing that Irans quest for nuclear technologies was unchangeable and nonnegotiable.
Irans hard line attitude towards the IAEA and Europe was approved by the new parliament that has pressed the Government of the powerless President Mohammad Khatami to get out of the NPT and resume enriching uranium.
As Mr. Asefi was repeating Irans stand on the controversial issue, including agreeing to the Additional protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), hard line lawmakers proposed Irans own trigger plan to meet demands by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), menacing that they would not approve the Protocol.
"The continued defiance of principles by the IAEA`s Board of Governors leaves no room for us to ratify the Additional Protocol, and will lead us to question what is the point for the nation to leave its doors open to IAEA inspectors", a statement, read out in parliament, said.
According to the official news agency IRNA, a lawmaker announced on Sunday that several MMs (Members of the Majles) were planning their own trigger mechanism, setting a two-week deadline for the Europeans to settle Irans nuclear case or have the country quit the IAEA.
"So far, 100 deputies have endorsed this plan which will be presented today", Mrs. Raf`at Bayat, the MM from north-eastern Zanjan province said.
The measure is an answer to an American proposal to include the trigger clause in its resolutions so that to warn that any Iranian failure in bringing its nuclear program to light will make a case for making all necessary options, including automatic referral of the country to the UN Security Council.
But under pressure from the European Trio, the proposal was not included in the IAEAs last Resolution approved on 18 September 2004.
IRNA said Mrs. Bayat also came down heavily on several officials dealing with the nuclear issue, including Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the Secretary of Irans Supreme Council on National Security and Irans top negotiator with both IAEA and Europe for what she described as their reactionary response to the Europeans.
"In this issue, the Europeans have proceeded on every front, while we have been on the retreat and instead of challenging the imperialists, they have challenged us", she said as Iranian officials are expected to meet again with representatives from the Big 3 on Wednesday 27 October in Vienna.
Writing in the hard line newspaper "Keyhan", Mr. Hoseyn Shari'atmadari, a high-ranking member of Iran's intelligence services appointed by Ayatollah Ali Kameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic as the Editor of the paper described the latest European proposal as a "package" aimd at depriving Iran of its rights.
"This is the same candy, but in a new pack. There is nothing new that we ignore", he said, accusing the European Trio to have closed ranks with the United States and the Zionists.
"We must reach a median solution which removes the Europeans` concerns -- if there is any -- and recognize our rights in the framework of the NPT", Mr. Asefi said, noting however that the EU has never demanded a permanent and unlimited suspension of uranium enrichment from Iran.
"This is not acceptable by the Islamic Republic since Irans suspension of enrichment has been voluntary and temporary to promote confidence building" he added, referring to Irans voluntarily suspension of uranium enrichment and manufacture of centrifuge components.
ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 241004
OK folks, what should we do? What? WHAT? WHAT? Ledeen never says. Do we have the CIA give all sorts of $$? Ship the captured Iraq small arms to our friends in the boonies in Iran? Help Israel blow up this reactor also? Why should we be on an Iran list when what to do - even if wrong - is never asserted? Rant mode off...
Moral support to the Iranian people. <---period.
I've got several copies of this Washington Post article in my Inbox and while I think that there are a number of entirely valid (abeit, at least IMO, politically-timed) criticisms of the administration that can be made, it is also my belief that the people, likely in the State Department, who leaked details of the early 2002 negotiations with Iran to the Post are not reporting the full details of what was going on, either because they don't know or because they decided it didn't matter.
What the Iranians did ...
Now to be fair, the Post article starts out pretty good:
Days after Bush declared an "axis of evil," one of its members dispatched an envoy to New York. Javad Zarif, Iran's deputy foreign minister, arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the first week of February 2002 with a thick sheaf of papers. According to sources involved in the transaction, Zarif passed the papers to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who passed them in turn to Washington.
This would likely be a UN source, for those who are curious.
Neatly arranged inside were photos of 290 men and copies of their travel documents. Iran said they were al Qaeda members, arrested as they tried to cross the rugged border from Afghanistan. Most were Saudi, a fact that two officials said Saudi Arabia's government asked Iran to conceal. All had been expelled to their home countries.
"They did not coordinate with us, but as long as the bad guys were going -- fine," a senior U.S. national security official said.
Which would be fine, were that in fact the case. The problem is, as the Post itself reported back in September 2002, things didn't work that way:
The sources said Iran's transfer of 16 al Qaeda operatives to Saudi Arabia in June, along with small deportations to other countries, were a pretense used to rebutt the Bush administration's charges and encourage the idea that it was cooperating in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Faisal, cited the June handover as an instance of such cooperation in an interview this month.
Now according to press reports, we know that over 160 Saudis who returned from Afghanistan (presumably via Iran) were given the revolving door jail treatment upon their arrival. Among them was none other than the mastermind behind the first Riyadh bombings, who had been promptly released by Saudi authorities after being turned over by the Iranians. Assuming that the Iranians and the Saudis are each aware of the other's respective dalliances with the terror network, citing Iran turning al-Qaeda operatives over to Saudi Arabia as a sign of progress in the war on terrorism doesn't pass the smell test, especially when:
Officials in Arab countries said that captured al Qaeda operatives have said in interrogations that their Iranian hosts had told some of them they had to leave after Bush included Iran in an "axis of evil" with Iraq and North Korea in his State of the Union address. But crucial al Qaeda figures were allowed to stay, they said, and some of those who left were provided with false papers or had their passports cleaned of incriminating stamps.
Still others, or their wives and children, were turned over to their home governments in a display of solidarity with the United States and its allies.
In one case, the wife of a prominent al Qaeda figure was sent home and told officials when she arrived that her husband was still in Iran, another intelligence officer said.
Moving right along in the article ...
In late November 2001, the State Department's policy planning staff wrote a paper arguing that "we have a real opportunity here" to work more closely with Iran in fighting al Qaeda, according to Flynt Leverett, a career CIA analyst then assigned to State, who is now at the Brookings Institution and has provided advice to Kerry's campaign. Participants in the ensuing interagency debate said the CIA joined the proposal to exchange information and coordinate border sweeps against al Qaeda. Some of the most elusive high-value targets were living in or transiting Iran, including bin Laden's son Saad, Saif al-Adel and Abu Hafs the Mauritanian.
They were also being protected by Qods Force, which is the elite of the IRGC, again according to the Post. And it wasn't just Saad, Saif al-Adel, and Mr. Mauritania either - there were over 400 al-Qaeda operatives being harbored by the Iranian government according to both Western and Arab intelligence sources.
Representatives of Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld fought back. Any engagement, they argued, would legitimate Iran and other historic state sponsors of terrorism such as Syria. In the last weeks of 2001, the Deputies Committee adopted what came to be called "Hadley Rules," after Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, who chaired the meeting. The document said the United States would accept tactical information about terrorists from countries on the "state sponsors" list but offer nothing in return. Bush's State of the Union speech the next month linked Iran to Iraq and North Korea as "terrorist allies."
Context, context, context. At the time these rules were drawn up, large numbers of al-Qaeda operatives were fleeing into Iran from Afghanistan even as Iran was providing the US and the Northern Alliance with intelligence that was useful in defeating the Taliban regime. So adopting these rules would make a great deal of sense under the circumstances, unless one is of the opinion that we should reward the Iranians for assisting us with defeating lesser enemies while they themselves are helping out the greater ones.
Twice in the coming year, Washington passed requests for Tehran to deliver al Qaeda suspects to the Afghan government. Iran transferred two of the suspects and sought more information about others.
In other words, we didn't shun the Iranian request per se but instead farmed it out to the Afghan government, which we could (and probably did) let us know if there was anything interesting that came up. And before anyone starts screaming about how this is yet another sign of the administration shirking its responsibilities, do keep in mind that we have always resorted to third parties when interacting with countries like Iran ever since the 1979 embassy seizure, so this is hardly a departure from traditional US policy. If Iran had really been serious about stopping al-Qaeda, they could just as easily have handed these individuals over to the UK, France, Germany, Russia, or any of the other European nations that has diplomatic relations with Iran. They didn't, and I think that the fact that the only time in which the Iranians appeared even half-way serious for turning these people over was only after the war in Iraq in return for the Mujahideen-e-Khalq members says a great deal in of itself about how serious they were.
Ultimately, what needs to be understood is that if Iran were ever truly serious about getting rid of al-Qaeda members on its soil, there were a multitude of ways in which this could have been accomplished. Moving 200 of them to Ein al-Hilweh isn't among them. The problem is, Iran hasn't done so and as such people need to start asking why exactly that is.
The issue of the list
Moving along to the next topic, we have the issue of the HVT list:
At the CIA's Counterterrorist Center in Langley, which then as now maintained wall-size charts of al Qaeda's global network, the approximately 30 names at the top were known as "high-value targets." At the time, a year into the manhunt, many of Gordon's peers agreed that "leadership targets," in the argot of U.S. military and intelligence agencies, were a "center of gravity" for al Qaeda -- a singular source of strength without which the enemy could be brought to collapse.
Mike critiques this approach in his book, IIRC, but I still think it's a valid one. Somebody with the experience, planning capabilities, and skill of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed does not come along that easily, though I still think that his entire extended family should be rounded up for the sake of general principle - of the ones who are now in custody, they're all a pretty nasty bunch, though I'm not going to get into the argument of why exactly that is. Ditto for Abu Zubaydah, with his ability to manage hundreds if not thousands of dispersed cells from memory. Zarqawi is also on the HVT list, and I think that recent events should demonstrate just how prudent it was to put his name up there back in 2001.
Hunting al Qaeda's leaders cut them off from their followers, Gordon said then, and "layers of interdiction" stood between would-be attackers and their targets. Some could be stopped in their country of origin, others as they crossed the U.S. border, and still others as they neared the point of attack. Each defensive measure, in theory, created U.S. opportunities to strike.
Also true. The problem is, though, that they only have to be successful once while we have to be successful in thwarting them every time.
"If I can cut him in half every time he comes through," he said, "now I can give the FBI and local law enforcement a manageable problem."
Works in theory.
That did not happen. On its own terms -- as a manhunt, measured in "high-value" captures and kills -- the president's strategy produced its peak results the first year.
That's because after the first year they had dispersed, whereas they had previously been concentrated in one area. If the US attacked the Kordestan, Central, or Sistan-Baluchistan provinces of Iran, I imagine you'd see a not-inconsiderable rise in the number of HVTs who are captured or killed. Ditto if we invaded Baluchistan or the Northwest Frontier Province in northern Pakistan. Now I'm not recommending either of these options for much the same reasons the administration hasn't chosen to undertake them, but it's still worth noting.
Classified tallies made available to The Washington Post have identified 28 of the approximately 30 names on the unpublished HVT List. Half -- 14 -- are known to be dead or in custody. Those at large include three of the five men on the highest echelon: bin Laden, his deputy Ayman Zawahiri and operational planner Saif al-Adel.
It also includes Abu Faraj al-Libi, but that's neither here nor there. My question is whether we're talking about the current HVT list or the one that got drawn up immediately after 9/11 - these are separate lists with separate names on them. And I don't believe that al-Libi is on the post-9/11 one, whereas he is on the current one.
More significant than the bottom line, government analysts said, is the trend. Of the al Qaeda leaders accounted for, eight were killed or captured by the end of 2002. Five followed in 2003 -- notably Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the principal planner of the Sept. 11 attack. This year only one more name -- Hassan Ghul, a senior courier captured infiltrating Iraq -- could be crossed off.
Not really, because while the top echelons have regrouped along the same lines listed above. There are also additional lists of 50, 200, and 400 that the Post isn't taking into account here. The US has done a heavy number on al-Tawhid in Iraq, for example, but it doesn't show up on the HVT list because the only al-Tawhid member on the list is Zarqawi. That doesn't render the elimination of a sizeable percentage of al-Tawhid's "officer corps" as unimportant or meaningless, however.
"I'll be pretty frank," Gordon said this fall after leaving the administration. "Obviously we would have liked to pick up more of the high-value targets than have been done. There have been strong initiatives. They just haven't all panned out."
I'd agree. I should note, however, that even if the April 2004 Pakistani offensive into Waziristan been entirely successful, we still wouldn't have seen any of the people on the HVT list taken out, as al-Zawahiri was never there to begin with.
As the manhunt results declined, the Bush administration has portrayed growing success. Early last year, the president's top advisers generally said in public that more than one-third of those most wanted had been found. Late this year it became a staple of presidential campaign rhetoric that, as Bush put it in the Sept. 30 debate with Kerry, "75 percent of known al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice."
There's a somewhat misleading overtone to this statement, as it's referring to known al-Qaeda leaders on the post-9/11 list have been eliminated.
Although some of the administration's assertions are too broadly stated to measure, some are not. Townsend, Bush's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, said "three-quarters" of "the known al Qaeda leaders on 9/11" were dead or in custody. Asked to elaborate, she said she would have to consult a list. White House spokeswoman Erin Healy referred follow-up questions to the FBI. Spokesmen for the FBI, the National Security Council and the CIA did not respond to multiple telephone calls and e-mails.
Geez, people. The list they're talking about is likely the same one that has been routinely disseminated to media outlets in the wake of captures like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's the post-9/11 list, which is why there's nary a mention of people like al-Libi and why Saif al-Adel is still classified as one of bin Laden's security chiefs. All the same, 75% of the people on it are now in custody or dead, which in of itself represents a powerful victory for the war on terrorism.
In conclusion ...
Like I said, the article makes some valid criticisms of the administration's approach to the war on terrorism, and I'd still recommend reading it. But these are some of the two more egregious errors that the Post makes in this story, either out of ignorance or by design, and as such I thought I'd feel free to point them out.
Sun, Oct. 24, 2004
The Middle East has so defined the presidency of George W. Bush that historians will, I expect, judge him primarily according to his actions there. And so, too, will American voters in just more than a week, when they go to the polls.
It has not been fully appreciated that, when it comes to the Middle East, Bush has systematically responded to the region's problems by dispatching decades' worth of accepted practices and replacing them with stunningly different approaches. In contrast, John Kerry unimaginatively holds to failed policies of the past.
Bush has upturned U.S. policy in four main areas.
War rather than law enforcement. From the beginning of Islamist violence against Americans in 1979 (including the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, for 444 days), Washington responded by seeing this as a criminal problem and responded by deploying detectives, lawyers, judges and wardens. On Sept. 11, 2001, itself, Bush declared that we are engaged in a "war on terror." Note the word war. This meant deploying the military and the intelligence services, in addition to law enforcement. In contrast, Kerry has repeatedly said he would return to the law-enforcement model.
Democracy rather than stability. "Sixty years of Western nations' excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe." This declaration, made by Bush in November 2003, rejected a bipartisan policy focused on stability that had been in place since World War II. Bush has posed a challenge to established ways such as one expects to hear from a university seminar, not from a political leader. In contrast, Kerry prefers the dull, old, discredited model of stability.
Preemption rather than deterrence. In June 2002, Bush brushed aside the long-standing policy of deterrence, replacing it with the more active approach of eliminating enemies before they can strike. U.S. security, he said, "will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." This new approach justified the war to remove Saddam Hussein from power before he could attack the United States. In contrast, Kerry waffles on this issue, usually coming out in favor of the old deterrence model.
Leadership rather than reaction in setting the goals for an Arab-Israeli settlement. In June 2003, I dubbed Bush's revamping of U.S. policy to the Arab-Israeli conflict perhaps "the most surprising and daring step of his presidency." Rather than leave it to the parties to decide on their pace, Bush came up with a timetable. Rather than accepting existing leaders, he sidelined Yasir Arafat. Rather than leaving it to the parties to define the final status, he made a Palestinian state the solution. Rather than keep himself out of negotiations until the very end, Bush inserted himself from the start. In contrast, Kerry would go back to the Oslo process and try again the tired and failed effort to win results by having the Israelis negotiate with Arafat.
I have some reservations about the Bush approach, and especially what strikes me as the President's highly personal reading of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but I admire how he has responded to what clearly are the country's worst external problems with energy and creativity. His exceptional willingness to take risks and shake up the malign status quo in the Middle East stands a good chance of working.
It is easy to overlook Bush's radicalism in the Middle East, for in spirit he is a conservative, someone inclined to preserve what is best of the past. A conservative, however, understands that to protect what he cherishes at times requires creative activism and tactical agility.
In contrast, although John Kerry is the liberal, someone ready to discard the old and experiment with the new, when it comes to the Middle East, he has, through his Senate career and in the presidential campaign, shown a preference to stick with the tried and true, even if these are not working.
Ironically, when it comes to the Middle East, it's Bush the radical versus Kerry the reactionary.
Washington is warning Iran to keep its distance from Shiite Muslim brethren in nearby Iraq
Monday, October 25, 2004
The vast and well-funded Revolutionary Guards are still the most potent force available to the regime. And their network of soldiers and vigilantes may be hungry for even more clout as Tehran faces new pressures over its nuclear ambitions, the war in Iraq and the approach of Iran's critical presidential election next year, analysts say.
A vivid example is Tehran's new international airport. It was supposed to showcase a new, more outward-looking Iran. Flights should have begun months ago.
Instead, it's empty and controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, who shut it down because they suspected the company hired to help operate it could have business ties to their archenemy, Israel.
Loosening the reins?
Those terminals gathering dust on Tehran's desert outskirts may be a sign that Iran's theocracy is loosening the reins on the guards at a sensitive time, some analysts believe. This could mean a retrenching of hard-line positions rather than a move toward compromise with the West on pivotal issues such as Iran's nuclear program.
"The climate is ready for the Revolutionary Guards to play a bigger role," said Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Ale Agha.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his inner circle feel buffeted from many directions.
Washington is warning Iran to keep its distance from Shiite Muslim brethren in neighboring Iraq. Iran also is facing an uphill struggle to convince the West its nuclear programs are for energy, not arms.
Presidential elections next year to replace the exhausted reformist camp of Mohammad Khatami could again bring political feuds to a boil.
The more than 200,000-member corps of Revolutionary Guards - which is independent of the ordinary armed forces - have a direct pipeline to the leadership and a broad mandate to confront "dangers" to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Each advance by the Revolutionary Guards is another potential blow to the influence of the elected government, the regular armed forces and reformist officials.
The guards carry considerable prestige for their front-line role during the 1980-88 war with Iraq and direct the volunteer militia known as the "basij," which some estimates say includes 15 percent of the population, or about 10 million people.
But it doesn't stop there. The Revolutionary Guards oversee such vital and lucrative interests as oil platforms, pipelines and dams, and the airport affair suggests they are reaching into new areas of politics and the economy.
The regular military also must defer to the guards on many key matters, including missile development. Earlier this month, Iran announced the range of its missiles had been extended to 1,250 miles, reaching anywhere in the Middle East and Central Asia.
In September, at a military parade, the corps rolled out a Shahab-3 missile with expanded range. It was draped with a banner saying: "Israel must be wiped off the world map."
"It's no surprise that Iran's leaders could be turning to institutions such as the Revolutionary Guards," said Gary Samore, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. "This is a period of many uncertainties for Iran, and the Revolutionary Guards represent a reliable fallback position for the establishment."
The airport seizure was a lesson in how far they will go - and how little anyone can do about it.
The guards shut down the $200 million airfield on the first day of scheduled flights in May, citing security risks.
Different era, same fear
Don't yield to captors' demands, ex-hostage says
By TONY LEYS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
October 25, 2004
Waverly, Ia. - Kathryn Koob swears she feels no anger toward the people of Iran, even the ones who took her hostage 25 years ago. She has little fear of them, either.
These days, Iran is back in the news. The country, which President Bush declared part of an "Axis of Evil," is moving ahead with a nuclear program that other nations say could lead to development of an atomic bomb.
Koob doesn't worry that Iran would use such a weapon against the United States.
"They will always shake their fist at us," she said. It makes them feel powerful, the way the hostage-taking did.
Koob, 65, teaches communications and religion at Wartburg College, an 1,800-student school affiliated with the Lutheran Church. She wrote a book about her experience as a hostage, and she has given countless speeches and interviews. But she said she's tempted to quit discussing it publicly.
"It was less than one-60th of my life, and sometimes it seems like it's the only thing people want to talk to me about," she said.
Days go by when she doesn't think about it. She knows people will be thinking about it again next month, as the 25th anniversary of the embassy takeover is marked.
Much has changed in a quarter of a century. Americans are now painfully aware that their country is hated by large groups of people in the Mideast. That hatred was news to most, however, when it appeared in the form of chanting mobs outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. "Death to America! Death to Carter!" they screamed as Koob and the other hostages were held month after month inside the compound.
Koob had worked in a cultural-exchange program in Tehran. She had no role in foreign policy. But she said she knew her government would refuse to make concessions to the kidnappers. The young militants wanted the United States to hand over Shah Reza Pahlavi, the dictator they'd overthrown.
President Carter made the correct decision in turning them down, she said. "I told my captors, 'I may be here for 14 years.' "
This year, kidnappers have been making demands in Iraq, and President Bush has refused to give them what they want. These captors are much more ruthless than Koob's were. They are beheading hostages, then distributing gory, gloating videos on the Internet. Koob shudders at the murders, and said she feels awful for the captives and their families.
"I wish there was something I could do," she said. Still, she supports the policy of turning down demands. "It's the only way we can go," Koob said.
In contrast, the government of the Philippines agreed to withdraw its troops from Iraq this summer after a Filipino truck driver was kidnapped and threatened with death. The truck driver was freed, but Koob fears the Filipinos' capitulation will just encourage militants, both in Iraq and in the Philippines, to take more hostages and make more demands.
Koob doesn't pretend to be a "policy wonk" with answers to the Middle East's enduring dilemmas. But she disapproves of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq. She said the United States has no right to interfere with other countries' internal affairs. She's not surprised that insurgents are causing so much trouble in a land without effective control. "If you create a vacuum, someone's going to fill it," Koob said.
She also wishes her country would work harder to settle the decades-old conflict in Israel, which inflames many Muslims' anger against the United States.
"It's a very, very difficult situation, and I recognize that," she said, "but I don't think we're doing anything to make it better."
Koob, who credits her Christian faith with helping her cope with her kidnapping, is encouraged that many non-Muslim Americans are trying to learn about Islam. That should help them understand that most Muslims - here and abroad - are decent people who just want their families to thrive. The public and the media should pay attention to them and see their quiet successes in Iraq and elsewhere, she said, while trying to learn from the failures.
As Americans work to ease resentment against our way of life, she said, they should understand that it probably can't be erased.
"We're the ones that are easiest to hate," she said. "We're the ones that have the most."
The Americans did not know it, but they were staring at the future a militant Muslim fundamentalism that would one day replace communism as the greatest threat to their nation.
That was Nov. 4, 1979, the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis, and a date on a timeline that would stretch to Sept. 11, 2001, and beyond.
Fifty-two Americans were held captive for 444 days. Although none was seriously hurt, many were beaten, blindfolded, isolated and lined up for mock firing squads. Never had so many representatives of so powerful a nation been abused so flagrantly.
"We were Terrorism 101," says Col. Charles Scott, 72, who was an embassy military attaché.
Day after day, huge crowds outside the embassy vilified Uncle Sam as "The Great Satan" and chanted "Death to America!" America watched on TV horrified, mystified, fascinated.
What was shocking in 1979 has now become routine. A new group of extremists this time in Iraq almost daily takes hostages, makes threats and demands concessions. And though the circumstances are vastly different than in Iran 25 years ago, the plan is the same: Invoke Islam to crush America.
Today, 42 of the 52 hostages are still living. They reside in 16 states, and about a third live in the Washington metropolitan area. They are writers, lecturers, teachers, financial planners, salesmen. Many are retired; only a few are still diplomats. Almost all share a sense that history has caught up with them that the Islamic terrorism they left in Tehran now threatens their homeland.
And like much of America, they remain split on how to best fight that terrorism.
To better understand the impact of the crisis on the hostages and the nation, reporters from USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers around the nation interviewed more than half of the surviving hostages. (Related story: Those affected have differing views)
Although they don't agree on everything, most have reached these conclusions:
The Iran crisis taught Americans little about Muslim extremists. "We don't understand how they think," says Dave Roeder, 65, who was an embassy Air Force attaché. Several hostages recall that when they came home, people were more curious about what they ate than what the crisis said about the use of Islam to compel terror.
"The very people today that are standing up and saying, 'We've got to do something about this terrorism,' are people that did not listen to those of us that had actually been out there fighting terrorists for the past 30 years," says Alan Golacinski, 54, the embassy security chief.
The crisis taught the extremists that terrorism works. When the crisis ended with the captors unrepentant and unpunished, "we were teaching the Middle East what could be gained through an act of terrorism," says Rick Kupke, 57, who was an embassy communications staffer. The lesson was simple, says John Limbert, 61, an embassy political officer who later became ambassador to Mauritania: "You can break the rules and get away with it."
As a result, many hostages say they expected a disaster like 9/11. Bill Daughtery, a CIA agent in the embassy and now a college political science professor, describes his reaction to the 2001 attacks this way: " 'What took them so long?' "
For many former hostages, Sept. 11 was particularly difficult. "It made me physically sick," says Paul Lewis, 47, a former embassy Marine guard. "I thought, 'They finally found a way to get here.' "
These days, the hostages are reminded of their 444 days in captivity by every new kidnapping, ambush or bombing. Some of the Marine guards wonder whether they should have fired into the crowd that November morning. If they had, would it have stopped the takeover? Others wrestle with guilt; did the deal that freed them encourage more terrorism?
When Lewis looks at photos of hostages in Iraq, he says he knows exactly what they're thinking. What it's like to be blindfolded, to feel steel on the side of your head and think your time has come. To prepare to die, over and over.
"I'd like to give you this feeling in the pit of my stomach," he says to those who doubt a hostage's suffering, "and let you carry it around for a week."
Nation changed forever
In the Cold War, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran was one of America's staunchest allies. But his regime was corrupt and tyrannical. In early 1979, revolution forced the shah to flee the country.
A coalition of his opponents took over. But the nation's most influential individual was a fundamentalist cleric, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The revolutionaries blamed Americans for putting and keeping the shah in power; two weeks after he was admitted into the United States for cancer treatment, student followers of Khomeini invaded the embassy and demanded the shah's return.
The students planned to hold the embassy for a few days, but Khomeini, seeing a way to undercut the secular politicians who nominally controlled the government, announced his support for the occupation. It was an outrage not even the Nazis attempted: a foreign embassy staff officially held ransom.
In America, the hostages became a national obsession. Yellow ribbons, inspired by a 1973 pop song, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, were everywhere; one encircled the stadium that hosted the Super Bowl in 1980.
Every day, a cemetery in Hermitage, Pa., put up another flag in honor of the hostages. Every evening, CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite counted off the days of captivity.
Every night, a new ABC News program called Nightline asked, What next? The program, which had started as a special called America Held Hostage, almost immediately became an institution. Now, television began to shape the crisis.
President Jimmy Carter made the safety of the hostages his top priority. He cut back on campaigning, and even refused to fully light the White House Christmas tree until they were free.
By arousing patriotism, the crisis at first boosted the president and doomed Sen. Edward Kennedy's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. But the nation became increasingly frustrated, especially after the failure of a rescue operation in the desert outside Tehran in April 1980.
In November, Ronald Reagan won in a landslide.
After the election, negotiators began to make progress, and the United States agreed to release $7.9 billion in frozen Iranian assets in return for freeing the hostages.
When the 50 men and two women finally were freed minutes after Reagan's inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981, Americans treated the episode not as a humiliation but as a triumph.
After Watergate and Vietnam, "People wanted to feel better about the country. They took this (crisis) and used it," says Bruce Laingen, the embassy's chief diplomat.
An episode that underscored America's weakness came to be credited for its regeneration. In a few years, Reagan would declare it "morning in America." If so, the hostage crisis was the hour before the dawn.
"When we got back I saw a tremendous transformation in America," recalls Paul Needham, who was an Air Force attaché and now teaches at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. "The attitude had been, 'We're terrible!' but these people were proud to be Americans. They were waving the flag. It was amazing! The introverted examination of ourselves stopped."
'Waited for 444 days'
None of the hostages has returned to Tehran. Most say they never will. "But I'll give you the grid coordinates," says Needham, who faced a mock firing squad. "I'll do the targeting." He's only half joking: "It's personal."
Today, relations between Iran and the United States aren't much better than when the hostages were released.
President Bush has called Iran part of an "axis of evil," and Iran's nuclear program is a source of constant friction. Some of the students who seized the embassy are in power; others are in the opposition; a few are in prison.
Although the hostages generally believe lessons from the crisis have been ignored, they don't agree what those lessons are: that we must try to understand militants who fight in the name of Islam? Or that we must intimidate them? Or kill them? The issue divides some of the diplomats and soldiers who were once so close in captivity.
Moorhead Kennedy, now retired from the Foreign Service, says Americans should try to understand terrorists' goals "walk in their shoes" and if necessary, negotiate and compromise.
Former Marine guard Kevin Hermening calls negotiation and compromise "the answers of the uninformed," and equates them with capitulation.
After the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Hermening advocated the immediate destruction of seven Middle Eastern capitals unless leaders there agreed "unequivocally to support our efforts to kill Osama bin Laden."
The crisis marked the hostages in different ways. Marriages were ruined and revived, careers ended and begun, virtues lost and found. Virtues such as patience. ...
Contributing: Aaron Deslatte of the Gannett News Service Tallahassee Bureau; Marc B. Geller of the Lafayette, Ind., Journal and Courier; David Paulsen of The Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald
t is striking that in spite of all the electoral fireworks over policy in Iraq, both presidential candidates offer basically similar solutions. Their programs stress intensified Iraqi self-help and more outside help in the quest for domestic stability. Unfortunately, these prescriptions by themselves are not likely to work.
Both candidates have become prisoners of a worldview that fundamentally misdiagnoses the central challenge of our time. President Bush's "global war on terror" is a politically expedient slogan without real substance, serving to distort rather than define. It obscures the central fact that a civil war within Islam is pitting zealous fanatics against increasingly intimidated moderates. The undiscriminating American rhetoric and actions increase the likelihood that the moderates will eventually unite with the jihadists in outraged anger and unite the world of Islam in a head-on collision with America.
After all, look what's happening in Iraq. For a growing number of Iraqis, their "liberation" from Saddam Hussein is turning into a despised foreign occupation. Nationalism is blending with religious fanaticism into a potent brew of hatred. The rates of desertion from the American-trained new Iraqi security forces are dangerously high, while the likely escalation of United States military operations against insurgent towns will generate a new rash of civilian casualties and new recruits for the rebels.
The situation is not going to get any easier. If President Bush is re-elected, our allies will not be providing more money or troops for the American occupation. Mr. Bush has lost credibility among other nations, which distrust his overall approach. Moreover, the British have been drawing down their troop strength in Iraq, the Poles will do the same, and the Pakistanis recently made it quite plain that they will not support a policy in the Middle East that they view as self-defeating.
In fact, in the Islamic world at large as well as in Europe, Mr. Bush's policy is becoming conflated in the public mind with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy in Gaza and the West Bank. Fueled by anti-American resentments, that policy is widely caricatured as a crude reliance on power, semicolonial in its attitude, and driven by prejudice toward the Islamic world. The likely effect is that staying on course under Mr. Bush will remain a largely solitary American adventure.
This global solitude might make a re-elected Bush administration more vulnerable to the temptation to embrace a new anti-Islamic alliance, one reminiscent of the Holy Alliance that emerged after 1815 to prevent revolutionary upheavals in Europe. The notion of a new Holy Alliance is already being promoted by those with a special interest in entangling the United States in a prolonged conflict with Islam. Vladimir Putin's endorsement of Mr. Bush immediately comes to mind; it also attracts some anti-Islamic Indian leaders hoping to prevent Pakistan from dominating Afghanistan; the Likud in Israel is also understandably tempted; even China might play along.
For the United States, however, a new Holy Alliance would mean growing isolation in an increasingly polarized world. That prospect may not faze the extremists in the Bush administration who are committed to an existential struggle against Islam and who would like America to attack Iran, but who otherwise lack any wider strategic conception of what America's role in the world ought to be. It is, however, of concern to moderate Republicans.
Unfortunately, the predicament faced by America in Iraq is also more complex than the solutions offered so far by the Democratic side in the presidential contest. Senator John Kerry would have the advantage of enjoying greater confidence among America's traditional allies, since he might be willing to re-examine a war that he himself had not initiated. But that alone will not produce German or French funds and soldiers. The self-serving culture of comfortable abstention from painful security responsibilities has made the major European leaders generous in offering criticism but reluctant to assume burdens.
To get the Europeans to act, any new administration will have to confront them with strategic options. The Europeans need to be convinced that the United States recognizes that the best way to influence the eventual outcome of the civil war within Islam is to shape an expanding Grand Alliance (as opposed to a polarizing Holy Alliance) that embraces the Middle East by taking on the region's three most inflammatory and explosive issues: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the mess in Iraq, and the challenge of a restless and potentially dangerous Iran.
While each issue is distinct and immensely complex, each affects the others. The three must be tackled simultaneously, and they can be tackled effectively only if America and Europe cooperate and engage the more moderate Muslim states.
A grand American-European strategy would have three major prongs. The first would be a joint statement by the United States and the European Union outlining the basic principles of a formula for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, with the details left to negotiations between the parties. Its key elements should include no right of return; no automatic acceptance of the 1967 lines but equivalent territorial compensation for any changes; suburban settlements on the edges of the 1967 lines incorporated into Israel, but those more than a few miles inside the West Bank vacated to make room for the resettlement of some of the Palestinian refugees; a united Jerusalem serving as the capitals of the two states; and a demilitarized Palestinian state with some international peacekeeping presence.
Such a joint statement, by providing the Israeli and Palestinian publics a more concrete vision of the future, would help to generate support for peace, even if the respective leaders and some of the citizens initially objected.
Secondly, the European Union would agree to make a substantial financial contribution to the recovery of Iraq, and to deploy a significant military force (including French and German contingents, as has been the case in Afghanistan) to reduce the American military presence. A serious parallel effort on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process might induce some Muslim states to come in, as was explicitly suggested recently by President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. The effect would be to transform the occupation of Iraq into a transitional international presence while greatly increasing the legitimacy of the current puppet Iraqi regime. But without progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, any postoccupation regime in Iraq will be both anti-United States and anti-Israel.
In addition, the United States and the European Union would approach Iran for exploratory discussions on regional security issues like Iraq, Afghanistan and nuclear proliferation. The longer-term objective would be a mutually acceptable formula that forecloses the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran but furthers its moderation through an economically beneficial normalization of relations with the West.
A comprehensive initiative along these lines would force the European leaders to take a stand: not to join would run the risk of reinforcing and legitimating American unilateralism while pushing the Middle East into a deeper crisis. America might unilaterally attack Iran or unilaterally withdraw from Iraq. In either case, a sharing of burdens as well as of decisions should provide a better solution for all concerned.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration, is the author of "The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership.''
18 is pulled.
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