Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 26, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 10/25/2004 9:02:08 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).
y The New York Times
TEHRAN, Oct. 25- In a reversal, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator hinted Monday that Iran might maintain its freeze on enriching uranium to end a standoff with European countries over its nuclear program.
His remarks came one day after a Foreign Ministry spokesman had rejected a request by three European countries last week that Iran indefinitely suspend uranium enrichment in return for technical and economic assistance, saying Iran was waiting for a more "balanced" offer.
"The European proposal for an unlimited suspension of uranium enrichment can be implemented, provided it does not contradict the Islamic Republic's criteria," the ISNA news agency quoted the nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, as saying on Monday.
"We have said that we accept the suspension as long as it is voluntary,'' Mr. Rowhani said. "No country has the right to deprive us of our right."
He did not say how long Iran might be willing to forgo enrichment, but said it would "patiently take any measure towards confidence-building."
His comments were the first positive response to the proposal offered by Germany, France and Britain on Thursday. The three countries asked Iran to give up its enrichment program in return for a guarantee to help Iran build a light-water power reactor and to provide a supply of reactor fuel, as well as a package of economic trade incentives.
By Paul Hughes
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's top security official suggested on Monday Tehran may agree to extend its freeze on uranium enrichment but warned it could not be forced to scrap its nuclear technology for good.
The EU's "Big Three" powers, Britain, France and Germany, have offered Iran a deal in which Tehran would indefinitely suspend nuclear fuel cycle activities in return for EU help with civilian nuclear technology and a resumption of trade talks.
The freeze on enrichment activities -- which can be used to make bomb-grade material -- must happen before the International Atomic Energy Agency meets on Nov. 25 or the EU would join Washington in seeking to send Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council.
Iranian officials rejected the EU proposal as unbalanced, but also said they wanted further negotiations.
But in a sign Tehran may agree to the original EU offer, Hassan Rohani, secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said an "indefinite" freeze did not mean the same thing as a "permanent" halt to enrichment.
"The Europeans say indefinite because Iran and Europe are supposed to hold negotiations for a long time," he told reporters after a meeting with parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission
"We have always said that if Iran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment, to whatever extent, it will be voluntary because no country can force another to stop having peaceful and legal nuclear technology, not even for one hour," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
SEEKING A SOLUTION
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Tehran was determined to seek a solution to the row.
"Our talks with Europeans are continuing to find a solution," Kharrazi told reporters during a visit to Kuwait. "We do not want anything other than our legal rights and we do not have any program toward (making) nuclear weapons."
The United States accuses Tehran of trying to develop an atomic arsenal. Tehran says it wants to generate electricity.
Kharrazi said Washington's hostile attitude made it impossible for discussion between the two countries.
Iran pledged last year to freeze all uranium enrichment activities, but resumed producing and assembling parts of enrichment centrifuges this year, much to the EU's annoyance.
Iranian and EU officials will meet in Vienna on Wednesday when Iran is to present a counter-proposal.
"Iran will patiently prove to the world that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes," Rohani said.
"We want to have political, economic and cultural cooperation with the international community and we don't want them to worry about something that is not true."
Rohani, a mid-ranking cleric who has led Iran's negotiations with the EU since last year, said Tehran had as much right to develop nuclear technology as any other signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"Our red lines are clear and if anyone wants to cross them
Tehran, Iran, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The head of the energy committee in Iran's parliament is urging the construction of nine nuclear power stations to make up for Iran's small oil reserves.
The Iranian News Agency IRNA quoted Kamal Danshiar as saying since oil and gas reserves are being depleted, "we might not be able in the coming years to export big quantities of oil due to growing domestic demand."
He stressed Iran "must produce as many as 10 megawatts of electricity in coming years, and the government should announce a new tender for building nine new nuclear stations."
Danshiar noted 80 percent of the nuclear center at Bushahr has been completely built and "we hope it will be fully operational this year."
He said Iran believes "in the policy of stamping out tensions" but "will not yield to U.S. pressure."
"We object to the production of nuclear arms and hope to purge the region of weapons of mass destruction," Danshiar added.
H2 class=date align=left>2004 Monday 25 October
These children must be saved from the hands of these vicious criminals!
Members of a special committee for the defense of Jila Izadi visited both Jila and her brother Bakhtyar on Saturday in prison on Saturday, October 23rd.
According to a bulletin prepared by this committee: "Jila embraced the members of the committee as she wept. Jila said, I want to live. I want to attend school. I want to go home. I don´t like being reprimanded and questioned."
Jila stated: "They gave me 55 lashes." Jila´s brother, Bakhtyar has been intensely distraught and nervous on this account. Bakhtyar who is also a youngster said: "I´m exhausted. My nerves are shot and I too want to live. Who will hear our pleas? It´s been 3 months and 20 days that I have been incarcerated."
PEOPLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
These children must be saved from these vicious criminals. They need help. They need support and protection. In order to make that happen, the crimes of these nefarious Islamist mobsters must be exposed so that they get their already bloodstained hands off of these innocent children. Raise your voices and inform everyone you know to join the fight against the stoning of young Jila and her brother Bakhtyar.
Iranian women barred from standing in presidential vote
Sun Oct 24, 3:49 PM ET Mideast - AFP
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iranian women have been barred from standing in next year's presidential election after a powerful conservative body stood by its literal interpretation of a single but ambiguous word in the constitution.
The Guardians Council stipulated that the word 'rejal' means "man", a significant interpretation given that under the constitution the president of the Islamic republic "must be elected from the religious and political 'rejal'".
"Up until now the Guardians Council's interpretation of the word is its literal meaning, that is male gender," a spokesman for the council, Gholamhossein Elham, was quoted as saying.
"Those who devised the constitution (shortly after the Islamic Revolution in 1979) also discussed this issue and they were mostly concerned with the gender," he added.
The disputed word, which comes from Arabic, could also be interpreted as meaning "personalities" in Persian and this is the translation used in some English translations of the constitution.
Elham added that Iran's Persian Language Academy was "welcome" to interpret the word, but he did not say whether the Guardians Council would implement their interpretation.
Hasan Habibi, first vice President under former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the incumbent Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites), currently heads the academy. He was one of the lawmakers who drew up the Islamic Republic's constitution.
"In Arabic literature the word 'rejal' is not gendered, and we hope that Mr. Habibi comes with an answer... we will have to wait," an Iranian woman conservative deputy, Fatemeh Alia told AFP.
"The issue of running a country requires merit... I personally think if women met all the required conditions why not, but the final choice is that of the people, its people who choose their president," the MP from Tehran added.
Elahe Koulai, a reformist female deputy, told AFP that there were other more pressing issues for women in Iran other than whether they should hold the presidency.
"Issues concerning women in Iran are not confined to the presidency, since we currently do not have an woman minister or ambassador and frankly talking about a woman president is not going to solve women's problems," she added.
There are 11 women MPs in the current conservative-dominated parliament, compared to 13 in the previous one that was reformist-dominated.
Masoumeh Ebtekar, a vice president and the head of the Iranian Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) holds the highest post in Iran awarded to a woman.
Iranian women face a number of legal restrictions. They receive half of the inheritance and blood money given to men, and they are also not allowed to be court judges. If they are married, a woman needs her husband's permission to travel abroad.
Iran's current president, Mohammad Khatami, is nearing the end of his second consecutive and therefore final term and speculation is mounting over who will contest the presidential election scheduled for next June.
The Guardians Council is an unelected conservative body that vets all legislation and those seeking to be parliament deputies and president in the Islamic republic.
AP - Iranian scientists have developed technology to produce zirconium, a key metal used in the heart of a nuclear reactor to produce nuclear fuel, a top nuclear official said Monday.
"Iranian scientists have achieved the technology to design and produce zirconium, the world's most sophisticated nuclear metal," Mansour Habashizadeh told state-run radio.
Habashizadeh, head of the Iranian Center for Research and Production of Nuclear Fuel in the central city of Isfahan, said the metal is used in the heart of a nuclear reactor and used as protector of nuclear fuel.
He gave no further details, including where it will be produced, and it was not immediately clear what prompted the announcement. He did say that only two important industrialized countries are currently able to produce the metal.
Zirconium is a grayish-white material that ignites spontaneously at high temperature. A naturally occurring substance, it can be found in the earth's crust, but not typically in large deposits.
Zirconium alloy cladding is also used for nuclear fuel tubes used in the reactor core at the heart of the nuclear reactor.
Reporters Without Borders announces its third annual worldwide index of press freedom. Such freedom is threatened most in East Asia (with North Korea at the bottom of the entire list at 167th place, followed by Burma 165th, China 162nd, Vietnam 161st and Laos 153rd) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia 159th, Iran 158th, Syria 155th, Iraq 148th).
In these countries, an independent media either does not exist or journalists are persecuted and censored on a daily basis. Freedom of information and the safety of journalists are not guaranteed there. Continuing war has made Iraq the most deadly place on earth for journalists in recent years, with 44 killed there since fighting began in March last year.
But there are plenty of other black spots around the world for press freedom. Cuba (in 166th place) is second only to China as the biggest prison for journalists, with 26 in jail (China has 27). Since spring last year, these 26 independent journalists have languished in prison after being given sentences of between 14 and 27 years.
No privately-owned media exist in Turkmenistan (164th) and Eritrea (163rd), whose people can only read, see or listen to government-controlled media dominated by official propaganda.
The greatest press freedom is found in northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway), which is a haven of peace for journalists. Of the top 20 countries, only three (New Zealand 9th, Trinidad and Tobago 11th and Canada 18th) are outside Europe.
Other small and often impoverished democracies appear high on the list, such as El Salvador (28th) and Costa Rica (35th) in Central America, along with Cape Verde (38th) and Namibia (42nd) in Africa and Timor-Leste (57th) in Asia.
Reporters Without Borders compiled the index by asking its partner organisations (14 freedom of expression organisations in five continents), its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists, to answer 52 questions to indicate the state of press freedom in 167 countries (others were not included for lack of information).
Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence knew Iran was willing to cough up several billion dollars - much of it in free oil - for Dr. Strangelove Khan's (pictured) nuclear secrets. AQK and some of his nuclear scientists made several trips to Iran in the late 1990s.
Before the cancer-stricken emperor was forced into exile, he had launched a plan to build 20 nuclear reactors, including two in Bushehr, which became a Russian project. The shah's regime also ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970 - and promptly began R&D efforts on fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
Today, as the ayatollahs survey the neighborhood, Iran is surrounded by nuclear powers - Russia to the north, Israel to the West, Pakistan and India to the east. That's four of the world's eight nuclear powers.
No amount of economic sticks and carrots will deflect the Iranian theocracy from a course originally set by the late shah. The ayatollahs will lie and cheat, but they won't roll over and play dead like Libya's Col. Muammar Gadhafi, who surrendered is embryonic nuclear weapons program.
Russia made clear in 2002 it will finish construction of the $840 million nuclear reactor in Bushehr and has contracted to build five more Iranian reactors over the next 10 years for $10 billion.
Jobless former Soviet nuclear engineers are known to have landed lucrative contracts in Iran. Could this know-how and expertise have rubbed off on Iranian counterparts in the form of weapons technology?
With 140,000 U.S. soldiers next door in Iraq, and U.S. carrier task forces south and west in the Arabian Sea and the Mediterranean, and the Israeli Air Force rehearsing preemptive strikes against Iran's underground nuclear facilities, the incentives, as the ayatollahs see them, are to speed things up.
Tehran is also buying time by agreeing to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. A new IAEA report on Iran won't be ready till mid-February 2005.
We have a lot of work to do before we can conclude that Iran's program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, as the clerics claim, said IAEA Director-General Mohamed el-Baradei. Meanwhile, uranium enrichment and a parallel plutonium effort continue in 11 different underground facilities. These are designed to reduce the risk of detection or attack.
Pakistani denials notwithstanding, nuclear black marketeer Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan (AQK), the father of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and arguably his country's most popular figure, built his fortune by assisting North Korea and Iran - two of the evildoers on President Bush's axis of evil - in their nuclear quest.
AQK supplied the centrifuges now used to process uranium into fuel for reactors or fissile material for bombs.
Iran received AQK's centrifuge designs as early as 1987. That was when Gen. Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan's late dictator, greenlighted secret nuclear cooperation with Iran.
Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence knew Iran was willing to cough up several billion dollars - much of it in free oil - for Dr. Strangelove Khan's nuclear secrets. AQK and some of his nuclear scientists made several trips to Iran in the late 1990s.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has assured the Bush administration he knew nothing of Dr. Khan's extracurricular activities. If that were true, Musharraf was conceding by the same token he didn't know what the ISI was up to. Dr. Khan and ISI were - and still are - connatural.
Some ranking European diplomats based in Tehran have told their home governments Iran will pursue its nuclear ambitions as long as Israel remains the only nuclear power in the Middle East. Israel, for its part, long ago concluded its very survival depends on its nuclear monopoly in the region. Hence, its decision to destroy Iraq's nuclear reactor before it went critical in 1981.
With 10 percent of the world's oil reserves and oil at $50 plus per barrel, Iran may not be too impressed by the threat of U.S. and European sanctions under counter-proliferation strategies. But these may persuade Iran to opt out of NPT and, like North Korea, go nuclear before the United States can figure out how to neutralize its efforts.
North Korea's latest act of nuclear defiance came over the weekend with a warning it would double its nuclear deterrent force if the United States persists in challenging its nuclear-weapons program.
Iraq has drained what little credibility the U.S. has left in the Middle East. For the U.S. to demand an end to Iran's nuclear programs while developing a new class of bunker-busting tactical nukes and to acquiesce in Israel's nuclear arsenal by pretending it doesn't exist, doesn't build back trust.
Unencumbered by image problems in the Middle East, Israel may take it upon itself to find a military solution to Iran's budding nuclear threat.
That may well be the message the Bush administration intended when it was leaked that the United States had supplied Israel with 500 deep-penetration precision-guided bombs. They are effective through concrete walls and ceilings to a depth of 100 meters.
There is little doubt Israel - using fighter-bombers, air-to-air refueling over Iraq, and submarine-launched cruise missiles from the Gulf - can retard Iran's nuclear plans several years.
But there is also little doubt such an Israeli strike would inflame the region. Some Arab intelligence sources believe Iran would retaliate by activating a new Iran-Iraq front. That, in turn, would spell quagmire for U.S. forces in Iraq.
Huh! Upon reading that I had to look up to see if this came from the New York Times!!
It's all a show anyway.
"Iran's small oil reserves"
The Washington Times really should have put that in quotations.
There's a very good reason I don't trust the MSM. I've seen them lie, distort and cover up far too many times.
Appeasement of Iran
Posted: October 26, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
John Kerry says he likes multi-lateral solutions to international problems.
He says it all the time.
But does he mean it?
Is this just political, election-year rhetoric?
Or is it that he really just craves power and will say and do anything to achieve it?
Let's take a crisis that could arguably be characterized as the most serious one facing the West today terrorist Iran's efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Kerry has said repeatedly, in the first debate with President Bush and in his official campaign policy positions, that he would give Iran the nuclear fuel it wants in exchange for a promise not to enrich the fuel to build nuclear weapons.
"I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes," he said.
Think about that statement.
Iran is sitting on some of the greatest oil reserves in the world. Why would Iran be so headstrong to build nuclear reactors to light its streets?
This position of appeasement is similar to a proposal floated by the European Union, which would give Tehran a light-water reactor that produces less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Iran is building and support the country's entry into the World Trade Organization in exchange for an agreement to suspend all of its uranium-enrichment activities.
In other words, for an agreement not worth the paper upon which it is written, Iran would successfully blackmail Europe into providing it with nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors and a position of respectability and responsibility in the family of nations.
Does this sound familiar? Do visions of Neville Chamberlain waving that piece of paper upon his return from Berlin come to mind?
Of course, it should surprise no one that Iran has not grabbed the offer. Rogue nations understand they can always raise the stakes in this kind of extortion game. If threats work once, they will work again. If a little terror helps you reach an objective, more will buy a higher price. If bellicosity brings the powerful nations of the West to the table, what will nuclear bellicosity bring?
Therefore, Iran decided not to jump at Europe's office. Instead, Iran is planning to wait until after the Nov. 2 U.S. elections to see if it can cut yet a better deal.
In other words, Iran is factoring in the possibility of a John Kerry election victory.
Isn't that great? Isn't that wonderful? Isn't it nice that John Kerry has interfered in an ongoing multi-lateral attempt, as misguided as it might be, to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons? He has done this simply by opening his big mouth and lending credence to the wholly unbelievable proposition that Iran might actually want to build nuclear reactors for entirely peaceful purposes and he did it in a presidential election year as multilateral bargaining was going on, ensuring that nothing would happen before the elections.
Not even Kerry's Iranian-American supporters believe his position makes any sense.
Under oath, in a videotaped deposition obtained by WorldNetDaily, Kerry's chief Iranian-American fund-raiser repudiated the presidential candidate's policy toward Tehran, declaring the Islamic regime should not be trusted with nuclear materials.
As WorldNetDaily previously reported exclusively, Hassan Nemazee, 54, a New York investment banker and former board member of a pro-Tehran lobby, delivered a one-hour deposition earlier this month in New York City in a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Aryo Pirouznia, leader of the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran.
WorldNetDaily has now obtained a copy of that videotape and is making it available to the public. Nemazee charges Pirouznia with defamation of character for accusing him of being an Iranian government agent. In a countersuit, Pirouznia contends that supporters of the cleric-led regime are funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Kerry campaign.
It remains to be seen if the allegation is true. But it would certainly make sense for Iran to support Kerry. He's clearly a guy with which the mullahs can do business.
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Corsi and John O'Neill's book took the nation by storm in August and became a best seller on many lists, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the New York Times. It's still in the top 100 at Amazon.
Corsi recently became an exclusive columnist for WorldNetDaily. He is working on a new book entitled "Atomic Islam," due to be released in 2005 by WND Books.
Corsi also is a consultant to Aryo Pirouznia, leader of the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran and the target of a lawsuit by John Kerry's chief Iranian-American fund-raiser, Hassan Nemazee. A deposition of Nemazee, at which Corsi was present, shows the fund-raiser contradicting Kerry, saying the Islamic regime of Iran should not be trusted with nuclear materials. Access to a video of entire deposition is available exclusively at WND.
You can listen to "Joseph Farah's WorldNetDaily RadioActive" live on more than 80 stations from coast to coast or listen on a live-stream signal on the Internet. The program is broadcast daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. It also is available via the Sirius satellite radio network on the Sirius Patriot channel from 5 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern.
If you'd like to call in to the show, dial 1-800-510-TALK.
Iran MPs propose bill to resume uranium enrichment
26 Oct 2004 11:18:56 GMTSource: Reuters
By Paul Hughes
TEHRAN, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Hardline lawmakers, who control a majority in Iran's parliament, on Tuesday introduced a bill which would force the government to resume uranium enrichment and halt snap U.N. inspections of nuclear facilities.
The official IRNA news agency said lawmakers want to give the bill a "double urgency" status, meaning it could be discussed in parliament in the next few days.
If approved, the bill would bring Tehran into direct conflict with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog which has given Iran until late November to halt all uranium enrichment activities or face being reported to the U.N. Security Council.
Government officials have said they would have no choice but to obey such a bill if approved by parliament. But diplomats believe Iran is using parliament as a bargaining tool ahead of key negotiations on its nuclear programme this week.
"They want us to think that we need to go easy on them or the hardliners in parliament will gain the upper hand," one diplomat said. "Ultimately, parliament will do what the (Iranian) leadership wants it to do, not vice versa."
Iran last year agreed to temporarily halt enriching uranium -- which can produce bomb-grade material -- and agreed to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities in a bid to counter U.S.-led charges that it has a covert nuclear arms programme.
Iran says its nuclear programme is solely aimed at generating electricity to meet booming demand.
"From the day the bill is approved the government would be obliged to stop the suspension of uranium enrichment as well as the temporary implementation of the additional protocol (on snap inspections)," lawmaker Rafat Bayat told IRNA.
KEY TALKS WEDNESDAY
She said the bill had been submitted with support signatures from 93 of parliament's 290 deputies.
The proposed bill comes as Iranian officials prepared to meet with negotiators from Britain, Germany and France in Vienna to discuss a possible deal to keep Iran's case from being sent to the Security Council.
Iran's top security official Hassan Rohani indicated on Monday that Tehran may agree to the first part of the EU trio's deal -- an indefinite freeze on uranium enrichment activities.
Iran is not currently enriching uranium, but it has resumed the manufacture and assembly of enrichment centrifuges and said it plans to convert nearly 40 tonnes of raw uranium to make it ready for enrichment.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, at its last meeting in September, called on Iran to halt all such activities.
Once the suspension is verifiably in place the EU trio have promised to negotiate a final solution to the Iran nuclear case.
This could involve help with a civilian nuclear energy programme and a possible trade deal with the EU in return for Iran scrapping its nuclear fuel cycle activities for good.
A European diplomat said there was concern Iran may agree to freeze enrichment and then drag out negotiations to buy time and ease political pressure just as it did a year ago when it struck a similar deal with Britain, Germany and France.
Bayat, said the bill's preamble accused the EU of trying to force Iran to halt its nuclear fuel activities and buy its reactor fuel from abroad.
"Lawmakers believe this demand is illegal and call for the annulment of the uranium enrichment suspension," she said.
Q: Considering that we went to war in Iraq because of the threat of nuclear weapons, what are we doing in terms of Iran and North Korea?
A: Let me take each one separately, because they are somewhat difference cases, though in both cases it was the president that blew the whistle on them. I can tell you that in the early discussions with most countries about Iran we were talking to people who just wouldn't listen. They wouldn't believe that the Iranians were up to anything. The Russians were in a full-scale building of the Bushehr civilian nuclear reactor. They had other projects with the Iranians. They kept talking about "Well, they have a right to energy" and so forth.
So a combination of the U.S. raising the consciousness of that issue and starting to put out information, and fortuitously, an Iranian group in opposition .... were able to get everybody focused on Iran. And now the Iranians are defensive about their nuclear program. It's fairly early still in that process. I don't mean to suggest that we have all that much time, because nobody knows exactly how far along the Iranians are in, say, reprocessing or enriching of uranium. But because the world is focused on them, I think we have made it harder for them to get outside help.
So things are moving on the Iranian front. We just need to be tough as an international community. And the Iranians need to be referred to the Security Council if they don't live up to their obligations. And we're telling everybody that -- they've just got to be referred, because they have to know that world is serious.
Q: And North Korea?
A: The North Koreans signed the Agreed Framework in 1994 ... (but) before the ink was dry, they were pursuing an alternative route to a nuclear weapons program, a highly enriched uranium route.... We're not going back to that kind of bilateral agreement. It doesn't have enough teeth. Instead, we have the six-party talks, which puts at the table all of North Korea's neighbors and most especially China, which has real leverage, because the North Koreans could not survive without Chinese economic assistance. You have a chance now to -- with a unified voice, which we have -- to tell the North Koreans, "If you want entry to the international system at any level, then you're going to have to give up your nuclear weapons programs verifiably and irreversibly."
So far, the North Koreans have come to the meetings and have been less than responsive. But there is a lot of pressure on them. I think in the long run, they will do that. Now you never take any option off the table, but I think both of these countries have a good chance to be resolved diplomatically, a very good chance. The fact that you did not let Iraq off the hook in terms of its obligations, shows that you are serious about these issues. And that was the piece that was missing prior to 2003.
Q: How do we know that our intelligence, especially in North Korea, is good, given what we did not learn in Iraq?
A: It's very tough, because this is a more closed society. The only thing about the North Koreans is that they don't seem to be all that determined to keep everything secret.... In a funny way, it's a much more closed society, but they tend to boast, because they have learned a kind of bullying behavior over the last 20 years or so, where they bully, and the world says, "Oh, what can we do for you?" And they threaten, and the world says, "Oh, what can we do for you?" Lately, they've run up against a world that when they do that, we say, "Well, get rid of your nuclear weapons programs and then we can talk about what we can do for you." And that's a different dynamic.
Q: Can you talk about Darfur, the western region of Sudan where a civil war has left 70,000 dead from starvation and disease? Why should we care what's going on there? What should we do about it?
A: I think we have to care because it has to offend our moral sensibilities -- what is going on there -- as a first course. That kind of behavior by a government and the refugee population that it's produced and the potential for even greater displacement and death is just something that I don't think the world can turn a blind eye to. It's also the case that a stable and more just Sudan would significantly help that region to avoid the kind of wars that are raging all around it.
If you could do something about Sudan ... you begin to see the potential for a more stable region reaching from the Maghreb down to Sudan. I think it is important. Now what we're doing about it: it is an international effort. The United States has led that international effort. I do think the U.N. Security Council resolution has had a good effect, in that the humanitarian access is now greater than it was several months ago. All of the nongovernmental agencies will tell you the access is easier. They are able to feed more people, treat more people. We opened up a route from Libya, which helped a lot in that regard.
But the security situation remains really very dire. The African Union has put some peacekeepers on the ground. We're trying to get more monitors and peacekeepers in. The United States will assist in getting them onto the ground. The government of Khartoum, there has to be a lot of pressure on them to disarm the Janjaweed (Arab militia). In the final analysis, some kind of peace accord is going to be necessary.... There's a lot of activity. I can't tell you that anybody is satisfied that we have resolved the problem, but the good news is that I do think the international community is engaged there in a way that it was not several months ago and that is really thanks to American leadership. I think Colin Powell's going there had a kind of galvanizing effect.
Q: What about some other countries -- Syria, for example. There were reports earlier this week that somebody was firing on our troops from across the Iraqi-Syrian border.
A: The Syrians have not been very helpful, is one way to understate the case. There were good talks recently between the Iraqis and the Syrians about border cooperation. And our military people say that some good things are happening. It is a long and permeable border, which has been a smuggling route for centuries and is not very easy to cut off. There has been some cooperation, but some pressure has to be brought on the Syrian government. That's why the president signed the Syrian Accountability Act. I think it got their attention.
The resolution that we sponsored with the French on Lebanon got the Syrians' attention. In part, they were a little startled that the Americans and the French teamed up to do this. They had always thought that the French would turn a blind eye to what they were doing, but they didn't. The Syrians, I think, will feel more and more pressure as Iraq progresses. In effect, it's not just Syria but even Iran, with a new neighbor in Iraq and a new neighbor in Afghanistan, I think, that understands that the geo-strategic picture is beginning to change.
It's again one of the reasons victory in Iraq is so critical. That whole region, if Iraq is not a success, will be much much worse than it is now. It was going to get worse. It was only a matter of how fast it got worse. If we succeed in Iraq, and I believe that we can succeed in Iraq, then the dynamics in that region are going to change pretty dynamically. In that region, you have to have a shock to the system, some kind of game-changing event, and I think Iraq is really that game-changing event.
Q: How about Egypt?
A: Egypt is a problem of another kind, which is that reform in Egypt really needs to get under way. They have just got a new prime minister. People who've met him find him quite impressive and quite determined to make economic reforms that have languished for some time. I sure hope so, because this is an economy that is basically stagnant. What the Egyptians are going to have to realize is that in order to make those economic reforms work, they are also going to have to have some kind of political liberalization.
Q: Libya and Venezuela are both important oil-producing nations. What's going to happen there?
A: Well, Libya is an interesting place. It's still run by Moammar Gadhafi. We haven't lost our head and decided that Libya is moving quickly toward democracy. You needn't worry about that. But he has made some remarkable decisions recently. The decision to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction program was a really good decision and it has opened up for Libya links and contacts with the rest of the world that were just not possible prior to that. I think you're going to see the commercial development in Libya start to really pick up, including our own commercial activity there.
We still have a problem with the Libyans. They're still on the terrorism list. And until we can resolve a number of outstanding issues, we aren't going to remove them from the list on terrorism. But Libya has the potential to move from one of the most destabilizing forces in that region to an actual stabilizing force.
You could see it happening. You see what happened with Darfur and the opening up of the route. You see what happened with weapons of mass destruction. It's still always going to be a bit mercurial, because there's really only one voice that matters and it's Colonel Gadhafi. We haven't yet gotten to the discussions of political liberalization in Libya, but in international politics it's always important to say, "Is the trend positive or is the trend negative." Here I think the trend is probably positive.
In Venezuela, I can't make that argument. I think President Hugo Chavez is a real problem. I think he will continue to find ways to subvert democracy in his own country. He will continue to find ways to make his neighbors miserable. He will continue his contacts with Fidel Castro, maybe giving Castro one last fling to try to affect the politics of Latin America, which is not a good thing. He's involved in ways in Colombia with the FARC (Marxist rebels) that are unhelpful.
The key there is to mobilize the region to both watch him and be vigilant about him and to pressure him when he makes moves in one direction or another. We can't do it alone. This is a region where if we try to do it alone, we actually probably strengthen him. But the OAS (Organization of American States) can do a lot. We're hopeful that the recognition that he's not following a democratic course will help mobilize the OAS to do that. They have done it before -- with Peru they did it. Watching his activities and making it costly at least politically for Chavez to carry out anti-democratic activities either at home or in the region is really about where we are.
Q: Is China going to be a threat? Is it really our enemy long-term?
A: Well, I can't give you a crystal-ball prediction on China. I can tell you that just the fundamentals suggest that China is going to be a major influence either for good or bad in international politics. There isn't a kind of "neutral China" out there. It's too big, too important. It's becoming too important a player in the international economics environment.
Whenever I did courses in policy, my students would say, "Will China be a force for good or for bad in international politics?" I would say, "It's an interesting analytic question. The policy question is, 'How we increase the chances that China is an influence for good, not bad?'"
There are a number of policy steps that we could take. First of all, we have a really good relationship with China -- probably the best relationship we've had in our history, because it's based on some clearly shared interests, like a non-nuclear North Korea. The Chinese are finally understanding on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, on terrorism, and issues like that. But there are a number of things we don't share views in common with China. We have more straightforward than you might imagine discussions about human rights and religious freedom with Chinese, because the president has insisted on it. We have with the Chinese some very good things that are going on economically. Our commodities people are pretty happy, because the Chinese market is buying a lot of commodities. But it is not really a very open market and with the very powerful force that it is in areas like textiles, there are times when we have to enforce our rules so that our people are not unfairly disadvantaged.
So this open and honest relationship with the Chinese, that emphasizes areas of cooperation but does not try to hide or brush under the rug areas of competition or conflict, I think, is the only way to deal with a burgeoning big power like China.
Q: It'll start an international incident if you don't mention Russia.
A: Russia? Two seconds on Russia. It is a very different place than the Soviet Union, and sometimes when I read about what's going on in Russia, it'd be hard to tell. We need not to pretend that it has gone back to Soviet days, it hasn't. Amazing things are happening in the economy, including a lot of liberalization of the economy. People are taking out 30-year mortgages. (President Vladimir) Putin is telling people they're going to have to pay for their health care, so it's a pretty remarkable story.
But on the political front, there are really concerning things there. Because what is happening in Russia -- which is an "unconsolidated democracy," meaning that a lot of the pluralism is there, but the institutions are not -- is that the presidency is just getting stronger and stronger at the expense of everything else, whether it's the governors whom will no longer be elected, or the independent media -- particularly the electronic media, which basically doesn't exist any more nationwide; to the judiciary, which is really not independent; to the Duma, which doesn't, as far as I can tell, do anything.
I've had this conversation myself with the Russians. I've had this conservation with Putin. The problem is that democracy depends on institutions that can challenge power, that are balancing of those in power and that can challenge to unseat power -- and if you don't have those basics, you don't have democracy. But it's a long struggle to take a country that for 300 years existed in a particular way and build a democracy. Our role is to continue to make clear to the Russians that what they are doing will have an effect on the deepening of U.S.-Russia relations. We'll have good relations. We can cooperate on all kinds of things. But the kind of deepening that people had hoped for -- including Russian integration with NATO ... and all of that -- is at risk here, because that depends on democratic development.
Bill Steigerwald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 320-7983.