|By Thomas Donnelly|
|Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2004|
|The Daily Standard|
|Publication Date: October 27, 2004|
Next week's election is rightly regarded as the first presidential contest of the post-9/11 world, but it is also a larger referendum on the role of the United States in the post-Cold War era. Iraq has so dominated the debate that it's easy to forget that the security challenges of the 21st century extend far beyond Mesopotamia. Among them:
The "greater Middle East." The most obvious difference between George W. Bush and John Kerry is over their interpretations of what we used to call the "global war on terrorism," but more recently and more properly is regarded as the political transformation of the Islamic world. The term of art for this vast region, extending from west Africa to Southeast Asia, the "greater Middle East," is meant to encompass not only terror groups per se, but the governments which have spawned them. John Kerry does not see Iraq as part of this larger problem, except insofar as American intervention there has exacerbated the problem of terror. At no time during the campaign has Kerry given any indication that he recognizes the region-wide pattern of illegitimate, corrupt, despotic, and collapsing regimes that have created the problem of Middle Eastern terrorism. Nor has he articulated anything resembling a strategy to respond. Kerry simply does not see a larger war.
China. Almost ignored since 9/11 has been the continuing rise of Chinese military power. Four years ago, President Bush described the People's Republic as a nascent "strategic competitor" to the United States, by way of contrast to the Clinton administration's hopes for a "strategic partnership." But the challenge from Beijing has not disappeared; we've simply ignored it while concentrating on the Middle East. Moreover, the dimensions of the Chinese challenge are now more obviously global, even while tensions in East Asia--and particularly across the Taiwan Strait, where China is methodically building up its ballistic and cruise missile force to intimidate Taipei into a "reunion" with the mainland--continue to rise. The Chinese were happy to hide behind French threats of a U.N. veto in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. But in the case of Sudan, a source of the oil needed to fuel China's future economic growth, Beijing is willing to block any measures that would respond to the genocide in Darfur. In other words, behind the humanitarian crisis lurks a genuine great-power standoff. Again, Kerry has been entirely silent on his views about the prospect of such a competition with China or how the United States should respond.
American alliances. Candidate Kerry has pounded President Bush for his cavalier treatment of traditional U.S. allies in Western Europe--conveniently overlooking the central role Great Britain has played in both the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq. Yet, beyond a very brief and entirely pandering appeal to Indian-Americans, he has given no indication that he understands that new strategic circumstances may require new alliances. Not only would Kerry keep the United States tied to past allies, like France, who no longer share the American view of the world, he would keep us from developing the new partnerships--partnerships built upon military strength and a willingness to employ it when needed--required for the 21st century.
Rebuilding the U.S. armed forces. Kerry's oft-repeated promise to expand the Army comes with several caveats that serve to undercut the value of the pledge. Most notably, he says he won't send any of the new recruits to fight in Iraq, even while he criticizes the Bush administration for ignoring the need for a larger force there. But he also plans to pay for the increase in ground forces by cuts in missile defense programs. His budgetary arithmetic is suspect--Kerry wants to add 40,000 soldiers, which would cost at least $4 billion per year, or roughly half of all current missile defense spending. But the greater problem of thinly stretched forces is a result not only of the commitment to Iraq but the larger phenomenon of post-Cold War defense cuts. The problems of "doing more with less" were hatched in the 1990s, in the Clinton years. Again, candidate Kerry has given no indication during the campaign that he realizes the underlying problem, let alone that he has a serious solution.
In sum, it's not just that Kerry was not changed by 9/11, but that he's not been changed by 15 years of post-Cold War experience. He seems poorly suited--if not exactly unfit--for the task of preserving America's superpower status.
Thomas Donnelly is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
October 28, 2004
The World Bank Group
News Release No:2005/136/MNA
WASHINGTON -- The World Bank today approved a $220 million loan to the Government of Iran for a project to help restore the living conditions of communities in the southeastern city of Bam which was struck by a powerful earthquake nearly a year ago.
The Bam Earthquake Emergency Reconstruction Project was prepared in response to the Government of Irans request to support its reconstruction efforts after the December 28, 2003 earthquake. Measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale, the earthquake left more than 26,000 people dead, 30,000 injured and up to 75,600 homeless. It destroyed 85 percent of the buildings and severely affected infrastructure networks.
The four-year project will help restore housing in Bam with improved safety standards, reducing their vulnerability to future earthquakes. In addition, it will finance the rehabilitation and reconstruction of telecommunication and transport infrastructureincluding the highway linking Bam to the provincial capital of Kerman, airport facilities and village streets. While the project focuses mainly on physical reconstruction, it will also seek to improve Bams preparedness for emergencies by ensuring that existing strategic public buildings are strengthened to become earthquake-resistant.
Given that Iran is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, the project was designed with the double objective of reconstruction and boosting preparedness to have a far-reaching impact on Bams ability to respond to future natural disasters, says Joe Saba, Country Director for Iran.
The project is based on the World Banks strategy for disaster assistance which helps governments adopt preventive measures to reduce their vulnerability to disasters, integrate disaster prevention in development efforts and build a national culture of prevention and preparedness. Over the past two decades, the World Bank financed nearly $40 billion worth of post disaster recovery projects around the world. In Iran, three reconstruction projects totaling $487 million were prepared between 1992 and 2002. They include two projects for earthquake emergency response and recovery as well as one project involving flood works for the Sistan River.
May 26, 2004 Iran: World Bank To Support Urban Upgrading, Water Supply And Sanitation
May 25, 2004 Iran: Urban Upgrading and Housing Reform Project
May 25, 2004 Iran: Water Supply and Sanitation Project
# # #
Media Contact: Sereen Juma (202) 473-7199
For information on the World Banks activities in Iran, please visit:
Posted Thursday, October 28, 2004
TEHRAN, 28 Oct. (IPS) Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced Thursday that Iran would not accept long-term suspension of enriching uranium.
"Long term suspension of (uranium) enrichment is an illogical demand. What kind of logical relation exists between transparency and long-term suspension of enrichment?" the Iranian leader asked during a meeting with the regimes highest officials both civilian and military.
If Iran's interlocutors adopt an irrational attitude, Iran would stop negotiating, Mr. Khameneh'i warned.
"I say to those negotiating with representatives of the Iranian people not to lead us to the conclusion, through unjust and illogical words, that they do not believe in negotiations based on logic, because in that case, the people and the Islamic Republic will leave the negotiating table", Mr. Khameneh'i stated, also warning all Iranian interlocutors on the countrys controversial nuclear projects that if they adopt an irrational attitude, Iran would stop negotiating, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
This was the first time since the start of the negotiations between the Islamic Republic in one hand, the European Unions so-called Big 3 and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the other that Ayatollah Khameneh'i has made his opinion on the subject to be known.
"If, under whatever form, we would discern a threat during the negotiations, that will be a sign of a lack of logic on the part of those negotiating, and in that case the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic will revise their stand on the very principle of negotiations and continued cooperation".
As he was addressing the nations top officials, it was announced in Vienna that Iran must decide by mid-November about suspending uranium enrichment if it is to avoid possible UN Security Council sanctions.
According to diplomats, IAEAs Director General Mohammad ElBaradei, has said it would take his inspectors 10 days to verify suspension ahead of the next meeting of the Agencys Directors scheduled for 25 November.
In the 18 September Revolution, the Directors gave Iran until 25 November to suspend all its uranium enriching activities or the case would be referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.
"November 15 is a kind of logistical deadline for the IAEA," the diplomat, who asked not to be identified, said, setting a limit to last-chance talks Iran is currently holding with the European Union, AFP said in a dispatch from Vienna, adding that an IAEA spokesman refused to comment on this report.
Iran must decide by mid-November about suspending uranium enrichment if it is to avoid possible UN Security Council sanctions
ElBaradei is to file a report on Iran some two weeks before the 25 November meeting and if Iran fails to have indicated in time for the report that it is suspending all enrichment activities, the Islamic Republic will be in big trouble because the media outcry will be enormous, as the IAEA had in September called on Iran to immediately halt enrichment activities, one diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
Ayatollah Khameneh'i comments came at the time that representatives from Iran and counterparts from Britain, France and Germany continue crucial, but so far inconclusive talks in Vienna on the latest proposals of the European Trio to Tehran.
Under the European offer, Iran would receive valuable nuclear technology, including a light-water research reactor, which would produce less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Tehran wants to build, according to a confidential text obtained by the French news agency AFP.
The deal also includes a recognition of Tehran's right to peaceful nuclear technology, measures to increase trade and backing of some of Iran's regional security concerns.
But these carrots would according to the deal only come as part of a long-term agreement, to be hammered out once Iran has suspended uranium enrichment, a measure that Tehran has already rejected.
According to informed sources, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, Irans senior negotiator with both IAEA and the Big 3 has said that Iran might suspend enriching activities for a certain period of time, but not on long term, something between 10 to 15 years, as demanded by the Europeans.
Talking to reporters on Monday in the Majles, where he had briefed lawmakers over the ongoing talks in Vienna and elsewhere, Mr. Rohani repeated that restricting Irans access to nuclear technology marks a red line for the country and it would not be acceptable at all.
"Whenever there has been a logical word, like inspection by IAEA inspectors, we accept wholeheartedly, and yet we will never yield to any kind of oppression", the Iranian leader observed, reiterating that his country was not after developing nuclear weapons, as the Americans insist.
According to Mr. Khameneh'i, an orthodox cleric, the hue and cry over Irans nuclear activities is a pretext aimed at interrupting the countrys progress by occupying the minds of all three branches` top officials".
In its last resolution adopted on 18 September 2004, the Board of IAEAs Directors had demanded Iran to stop all uranium enriching activities and also renounce to the construction of a heavy water installations.
However, on Wednesday, authorities in Tehran allowed for the first time journalists, including foreigners, to visit the project in Arak, some 200 kilometres south west of the capital Tehran.
According to the Projects manager Mr. Manouchehr Madadi, the installations, -- all made locally by Iranians without any foreign help -- are near completion and produces some 16 tonnes of material.
The visit, prepared while Iran is talking with the Trio on the nuclear issue, is aimed at proving the international community that Iran was serious in its insistence for achieving full nuclear cycle.
Mr. Sirous Naseri, a member of Iranian negotiating team in Vienna was quoted by correspondents as having said that thought the talks had been held in a "friendly atmosphere and in goodwill, but have not yield any substantial and positive result.
He said the Iranian party had provided the German, British and French teams with a reply to the European offer, but refused to unveil further details, IRNA said.
However, certain non-official reports indicate that Iran voiced its adherence to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), reaffirming its right to acquire peaceful nuclear technology.
We cannot be a double-end losers, Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian, the Secretary to the Foreign Policy Department of Irans Supreme Council on National Security told reporters, referring to the American and European pressures on Iran to stop all nuclear activities without giving full assurances of getting what the country must get under NPT regulations, meaning access to advanced nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes.
ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 281004
"X-TV", affiliated to the "S.O.S Iran Movement", will be re-broadcasting via Satellite TV and Inter-net, the SMCCDI's Press Conference October 14th held at WDC's National Press Club. The conference was entitled "Regime Influence in US" and the panelists were Aryo B. Pirouznia, Jerome Corsi, Kenneth Timmerman and the SMCCDI's legal team composed by Judge Robert Jenevein and Michael Payma. The recorded broadcast will take place on Friday October 29, 2004, from 11:00 AM or 11:30 AM (Los Angeles local time). 1) Satellite coordinates are as follow: Iran & Europe - Telstar 12 North America - Telstar 5 2) Internet links are as follow: Live Broadcast (low speed) Live Broadcast (high speed)
Frequency: 11494 MHZ
Symbol Rate: 17,469
Video PID: 1860
Audio PID: 1820
Frequency: 12152 MHZ
Symbol Rate: 20,000
Video PID: 70
Audio PID: 71
The conference was entitled "Regime Influence in US" and the panelists were Aryo B. Pirouznia, Jerome Corsi, Kenneth Timmerman and the SMCCDI's legal team composed by Judge Robert Jenevein and Michael Payma. The recorded broadcast will take place on Friday October 29, 2004, from 11:00 AM or 11:30 AM (Los Angeles local time).
The recorded broadcast will take place on Friday October 29, 2004, from 11:00 AM or 11:30 AM (Los Angeles local time).
1) Satellite coordinates are as follow:
Iran & Europe - Telstar 12
North America - Telstar 5
2) Internet links are as follow:
Live Broadcast (low speed)
Live Broadcast (high speed)
Russia completes work on Bushehr reactor in Iran
Russia has completed construction work at the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran and hopes to sign agreements on shipping nuclear fuel in November, officials said on Friday, AP reported.
"All the external (construction) work has been finished and the main equipment shipped," Vitaly Nasonov, spokesman for Russias Federal Atomic Energy Agency, told The Associated Press. Nasonov said Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev is scheduled to travel to Iran next month to sign agreements on shipping nuclear fuel to Iran and returning the spent fuel back to Russia. But industry sources say the signing depends on the outcome of a Nov. 25 International Atomic Energy Agency meeting, which would decide whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
The agreements have been delayed repeatedly. The United States fears that the $800 million Bushehr deal could help Tehran build nuclear weapons. Russia says that having Iran ship spent nuclear fuel back to Russia will make any such projects impossible. Nasonov said that if all goes as planned, the reactor should be launched in 2005 and connected to the countrys energy system in 2006. The ITAR-Tass news agency said that the reactors control and security equipment still had to be mounted. Most is being provided by Russian enterprises but Iran will buy some from other countries, the news agency said.
The 1,000-megawatt Bushehr plant is due to be launched in the next year or so and reach full capacity in 2006.
Mullah Khatami: "Iran's Islamic Revolution, most democratic"Oct 28, 2004, 13:12
|Email this article
Printer friendly page
Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.
John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
"The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units."
Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloging the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-Iraqi weapons collaboration.
Most of Saddam's most powerful arms were systematically separated from other arms like mortars, bombs and rockets, and sent to Syria and Lebanon, and possibly to Iran, he said. The RDX and HMX, which are used to manufacture high-explosive and nuclear weapons, are probably of Russian origin, he said.
Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita could not be reached for comment.
The disappearance of the material was reported in a letter Oct. 10 from the Iraqi government to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Disclosure of the missing explosives Monday in a New York Times story was used by the Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, who accused the Bush administration of failing to secure the material.
Al-Qaqaa, a known Iraqi weapons site, was monitored closely, Mr. Shaw said.
"That was such a pivotal location, Number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Mr. Shaw said. "And Number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there."
The Pentagon disclosed yesterday that the Al-Qaqaa facility was defended by Fedayeen Saddam, Special Republican Guard and other Iraqi military units during the conflict. U.S. forces defeated the defenders around April 3 and found the gates to the facility open, the Pentagon said in a statement yesterday.
A military unit in charge of searching for weapons, the Army's 75th Exploitation Task Force, then inspected Al-Qaqaa on May 8, May 11 and May 27, 2003, and found no high explosives that had been monitored in the past by the IAEA.
The Pentagon said there was no evidence of large-scale movement of explosives from the facility after April 6.
"The movement of 377 tons of heavy ordnance would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as U.S. combat divisions occupied continually for weeks prior to and subsequent to the 3rd Infantry Division's arrival at the facility," the statement said.
The statement also said that the material may have been removed from the site by Saddam's regime.
According to the Pentagon, U.N. arms inspectors sealed the explosives at Al-Qaqaa in January 2003 and revisited the site in March and noted that the seals were not broken.
It is not known whether the inspectors saw the explosives in March. The U.N. team left the country before the U.S.-led invasion began March 20, 2003.
A second defense official said documents on the Russian support to Iraq reveal that Saddam's government paid the Kremlin for the special forces to provide security for Iraq's Russian arms and to conduct counterintelligence activities designed to prevent U.S. and Western intelligence services from learning about the arms pipeline through Syria.
The Russian arms-removal program was initiated after Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not persuade Saddam to give in to U.S. and Western demands, this official said.
A small portion of Iraq's 650,000 tons to 1 million tons of conventional arms that were found after the war were looted after the U.S.-led invasion, Mr. Shaw said. Russia was Iraq's largest foreign supplier of weaponry, he said.
However, the most important and useful arms and explosives appear to have been separated and moved out as part of carefully designed program. "The organized effort was done in advance of the conflict," Mr. Shaw said.
The Russian forces were tasked with moving special arms out of the country.
Mr. Shaw said foreign intelligence officials believe the Russians worked with Saddam's Mukhabarat intelligence service to separate out special weapons, including high explosives and other arms and related technology, from standard conventional arms spread out in some 200 arms depots.
The Russian weapons were then sent out of the country to Syria, and possibly Lebanon in Russian trucks, Mr. Shaw said.
Mr. Shaw said he believes that the withdrawal of Russian-made weapons and explosives from Iraq was part of plan by Saddam to set up a "redoubt" in Syria that could be used as a base for launching pro-Saddam insurgency operations in Iraq.
The Russian units were dispatched beginning in January 2003 and by March had destroyed hundreds of pages of documents on Russian arms supplies to Iraq while dispersing arms to Syria, the second official said.
Besides their own weapons, the Russians were supplying Saddam with arms made in Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria and other Eastern European nations, he said.
"Whatever was not buried was put on lorries and sent to the Syrian border," the defense official said.
Documents reviewed by the official included itineraries of military units involved in the truck shipments to Syria. The materials outlined in the documents included missile components, MiG jet parts, tank parts and chemicals used to make chemical weapons, the official said.
The director of the Iraqi government front company known as the Al Bashair Trading Co. fled to Syria, where he is in charge of monitoring arms holdings and funding Iraqi insurgent activities, the official said.
Also, an Arabic-language report obtained by U.S. intelligence disclosed the extent of Russian armaments. The 26-page report was written by Abdul Tawab Mullah al Huwaysh, Saddam's minister of military industrialization, who was captured by U.S. forces May 2, 2003.
The Russian "spetsnaz" or special-operations forces were under the GRU military intelligence service and organized large commercial truck convoys for the weapons removal, the official said.
Regarding the explosives, the new Iraqi government reported that 194.7 metric tons of HMX, or high-melting-point explosive, and 141.2 metric tons of RDX, or rapid-detonation explosive, and 5.8 metric tons of PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate, were missing.
The material is used in nuclear weapons and also in making military "plastic" high explosive.
Defense officials said the Russians can provide information on what happened to the Iraqi weapons and explosives that were transported out of the country. Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.
|10/27/2004||Clip No. 309|
Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei: Europe and US Know We Do Not Look for Nuclear Weapons
The following are excerpts from an address by Iranian leader Ali Khamenei:
Khamenei: Two or three years ago I said in this forum: We had an Islamic revolution, following which we established an Islamic regime. The next step is to establish an Islamic government and the following step is to establish an Islamic state, and the step after this is to establish an Islamic civilization
The Islamic International Civilization. We are currently in the stage of the Islamic state and government. We must create the Islamic rule.
According to Reuters, the Iranian mullahcracy not-so-secretly looks forward to a John Kerry presidency, thanks in part to Kerry's "Let's Make A Deal" rhetoric in regards to Iran's nuclear ambitions:
Iranian officials like to portray U.S. presidential elections as a choice between bad and worse but there is little doubt they would prefer Democratic challenger John Kerry to win next week.
Since President Bush took office the Islamic state has been dubbed an "axis of evil" member, seen U.S. forces mass on its borders in Iraq and Afghanistan and faced concerted U.S. accusations that it has a covert atomic arms program.
In other words, Bush's foreign policy regarding Iran is firmly rooted in reality. Iran has long been the strongest support for Islamofascist terror groups, directly funding Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad in Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank/Gaza Strip territories. It had links to al-Qaeda, although no one is sure whether or not those were operational links or strictly diplomatic contacts yet. More ominously, the oil-rich country has pursued nuclear technology which it claims it needs for domestic energy production -- at the same time it launched its new ballistic missile program, which now can hit targets 1,200 miles away.
Kerry, on the other hand, proposes more appeasement:
But the Massachusetts senator's emphasis on a multilateral foreign policy approach and hints he would negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program appeal to the country's bazaar-rooted instincts to bargain its way out of a crisis.
"Logically speaking, everything points to Iran supporting Kerry," said Tehran-based political analyst Mahmoud Alinejad.
"If Bush is re-elected it will be on a platform of a radical strategy to democratize the Middle East, if necessary by force. At least what Kerry has hinted at provides the possibility for Iran to get out of this deadlock, to buy some more time."
The question is, time for what? Enough time to build its nuclear devices so that it can effectively deter any attempt to stop its spread of Islamic terrorism? The Iranian mullahcracy is deeply dangerous to the region and to the security of the West. Giving them more time to perfect and implement their strategies does not sound like an intelligent foreign policy; it smells of surrender. The Iranians can smell it from half a world away. Hopefully, Americans will notice the stench before November 2nd.
On Monday, a spokesman for the American mission at the United Nations questioned the timing of the release of the material on the part of Mr. ElBaradei. Rick Grenell told the Sun's Benny Avni the "timing seems puzzling."
After a behind-the-scenes battle inside the State Department this summer, the Bush administration opted to reject Mr. ElBaradei's bid for a third term as director general of the atomic energy agency.
At the time, Washington was collecting intelligence - disputed by some agencies - that Mr. ElBaradei was providing advice to Iran on how to avoid sanction from his organization for its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment programs.
Isn't it interesting how all things connect? Something close to an open war has been going on for some time between the UN and the Bush Administration. Not long ago, an internationalist, I would have been reflexively on the side of the UN, but since the revelations of the Oil-for-Food scandal, my respect for the kleptocracy enablers on Turtle Bay has sunk to near zero.
This latest revelation is nothing more than a salvo in that war, timed to remove Bush from office. As we all know, at this very moment, the Oil-for-Food hearings are continuing in the House. In the event of Bush II, the conclusions of Henry Hyde's committee will undoubtedly get serious attention, at least we can hope so. Big changes could ensue between the United Nations and its greatest financier. Under a Kerry Administration, who knows? Most likely for the International Enron on 44th Street it will be business as usual. No wonder they are meddling in an American election. To me the most interesting investigation would be the provenance of the leak, not the almost stupefyingly banal "fact" that some explosives out of many may or may not have gone missing during a war.
This is likely going to be my last post prior to the election (and God willing, this time we'll know by November 3 who the president is) so I'll try to cover as many bases as possible on this one.
There's been two very interesting articles out over the last several days, one of which I want to provide actual commentary for, and there is also a purported al-Qaeda videotape that was obtained by ABC News from an "intermediary" (Jamaat-e-Islami or Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Islami, one wonders ...) in Waziristan. I'll also deal with the issue of what I know about the pre-election plot stuff and we'll go from there. Several of these remarks were prepared in response to questions that WoC reader praktike made on my own blog and I thought would be interesting enough to reference here.
Praktike, who has definitely been doing his homework, recently asked me about the following statements by former Indian intelligence chief B. Raman:
The Tora Bora operation failed for two reasons. First, the warlords and the narcotics barons played a double game. While ostensibly helping the US forces, they kept bin Laden and his fighters informed of the US military movements. Second, Pakistan, on which too the US depended for sealing off its border with Afghanistan to prevent the escape of bin Laden and other jihadi terrorists into Pakistani territory, quietly let them pass.
There is another issue here that I think everyone is ignoring with respect to the battle at Tora Bora is that it was during faux cease-fire and surrender negotiations on December 13 by members of bin Laden's personal guard that he and a number of other al-Qaeda leaders flew the coop into Pakistan. That was the same day, if you'll recall, that members of the al-Qaeda affiliate groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked the Indian Parliament, nearly bringing India and Pakistan to the brink of full-scale war. As a result, Pakistan was forced to shift its troops away from the Afghan border towards India for the purpose of countering an Indian attack. Now while I have never been able to prove this, I have long suspected that the Parliament attack was orchestrated at al-Qaeda's behest for the specific purpose of freeing up the Pakistani border to allow them to make good on their escape.
In fact, bin Laden, who was incapacitated by a shrapnel injury at Tora Bora, was shifted to the Binori madrassa in Karachi, where he was under treatment until August 2002. Since then he has disappeared. He was keeping in touch with his followers through video and audio messages until this April. Since then, he has been observing even electronic silence.
I've mentioned before that bin Laden received medical treatment at Tora Bora in my previous run-down of the terrorist leaders' fate, though the way I was given to understand it was that he was treated in the Bajaur tribal area of Pakistan by Dr. Ahmed Khawaja under the protection of the Ghilzai tribesmen, who then moved him to Peshawar where he sought refuge with members of the extremist Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Islami party and received further treatment, including very possibly plastic surgery. I don't think that this is necessarily inconsistent with Raman's account either, since he could very easily been shifted to Binori Town after he was well enough to be moved.
Binori Town, as I noted in previous WoC post, is basically al-Qaeda's version of officer school and was at that point run by Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai before his ... untimely departure this last summer. If bin Laden wanted to recover safely, Binori Town would probably the place, as it serves as the center of the jihadi subculture in Pakistan. In addition, Binori Town is also located right in the middle of the Shi'ite portion of Karachi and the fact that Pakistani Shi'ite sectarian groups haven't moved against the place (and in case anybody cites the Shamzai assassination as an example, he was not killed by the Sipah-e-Mohammed despite what some have claimed) implies at the very least that the Shi'ite radicals either tolerate the place or are too scared to move against it. Given Iran's backing to a number of Pakistani Shi'ite groups based in the Karachi area, if bin Laden wanted to communicate with his son and lieutenants in Iran, he could fairly easily do it from Binori Town, either directly or through their Pakistani intermediaries.
August 2002, incidentally, was a very important month for al-Qaeda, because it was the month that bin Laden retook control of his organization, which had pretty much been running on autopilot while he had been recovering following the capture of Abu Zubaydah.
This whole idea that bin Laden is little more than a figurehead for his organization is IMO patently false - while I disagree with a lot of the 9/11 commission report, their depiction of just how personally involved he was in running his network is right-on from what I am given to understand.
During the month of August 2002, al-Qaeda's financial networks were reorganized, its hierarchy was reorganized, and its strategy was shifted away from evicting the US from Afghanistan towards expanding the field of battle to make the US war on terrorism truly a global affair. This expansion took the form of a successive series of terrorist attacks from September to November 2002 that were themselves intended to serve as a warming up for something far more sinister - the poison plots that Zarqawi and Midhat Mursi had planned to unleash against the US, Russia, and Western Europe in late 2002 and early 2003.
While the second (poison) wave of attacks were thwarted by the efforts of European law enforcement, the first wave appears to have fallen into place. If I were involved in law enforcement, I would be seriously consider using the level of "chatter" that occurred in August 2002 as a means for learning about and disrupting further attacks.
Continuing on, B. Raman also says the following:
He used to circulate at least three messages every year to his followers - on the anniversary of September 11, 2001, to pay homage to the terrorists who participated in the terrorist strikes in US territory; before the beginning of the Ramadan fasting period; and at the end of the fasting period. This year, he did not issue any message coinciding with September 11. Instead, there was a message from Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No 2. Nor was there a message before the start of the fasting period this Ramadan.
The continuing silence of bin Laden could be due to one of the following reasons:
- He is dead. Reliable Shi'ite sources in Pakistan believe there is a greater possibility of his being dead than alive. Though their arguments are strong, I am disinclined, for the present, to believe them because if he were really dead the news would have spread like wildfire in the tribal areas of Pakistan. He is literally worshipped there and his burial site, if in tribal territory, would have become a place of pilgrimage. The Sunni tribals insist he must be alive, though none of them claims to have seen him.
- He is observing electronic silence for his own physical security.
- He has been sidelined by his followers and has no longer any de facto or de jure control over al-Qaeda or the International Islamic Front (IIF) formed by him in February 1998. The increasing audibility of al-Zawahiri indicates the possibility of his playing the leadership role at least in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, though not in Iraq. I have been writing since April 2003 that bin Laden is no longer in day-to-day control of the IIF. This is now being exercised by Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which has been in the forefront of recruiting volunteers and collecting funds for the jihad in Iraq.
There is also the other option, one that both myself and Michael Ledeen (among others) have referenced, that he is in Iran and has been there for some time now. B. Raman's claim as to when bin Laden ceased electronic communication with his followers (April 2003) is more or less consistent with when Mansoor Ijaz's timeline as to when bin Laden entered Iran with the intent of evading capture at the hands of Pakistani forces.
As far as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is concerned (which, if IIRC, was the focus of Praktike's question), they have become the "legitimate face" of bin Laden's International Islamic Front now that the al-Qaeda leadership has been forced underground. As part of these duties, they've taken over al-Qaeda's duties in the area of training, support, and infrastructure for the global jihad, even acting as the "secret police" for al-Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan (members of the Pakistani Sunni sectarian group LeJ are also used extensively by al-Qaeda, particularly in the Karachi area, but mainly as little more than dumb muscle).
I've learned more about the LeT in the last several months than I've ever truly cared to know, and take my word for it that these guys are bad news. They tried to assassinate President Bush and as much of the NATO leadership as possible earlier this year and will likely be responsible for the training and infrastructure for the perpetrators of any future al-Qaeda attack on the United States.
Which brings me to this recent New York Times editorial by Daniel Benjamin and Gabriel Weimann, which also references the LeT in the context of Iraq:
Meanwhile, radicals in dozens of countries are increasingly seizing on events in Iraq. Some Web sites have moved beyond describing the action there to depicting it in the most grisly way: images of Western hostages begging for their lives and being beheaded. These sites have become enormously popular throughout the Muslim world, thrilling those who sympathize with the Iraqi insurgents as they see jihad in action. Fired up by such cyber-spectacles, militants everywhere are more and more seeing Iraq as the first glorious stage in a long campaign against the West and the "apostate" rulers of the Muslim world.
It is remarkable, for example, that the Pakistani Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Tayba appears to be shifting its sights away from its longtime focus on Kashmir and toward Iraq. Probably the largest militant group in Pakistan, it has used its online Urdu publication to call for sending holy warriors to Iraq to take revenge for the torture at Abu Ghraib prison as well as for what it calls the "rapes of Iraqi Muslim women." "The Americans are dishonoring our mothers and sisters," reads a notice on its site. "Therefore, jihad against America has now become mandatory."
The organization's postings speak of an "army" of 8,000 fighters from different countries bound for Iraq. While that number is undoubtedly exaggerated, the statement is not pure propaganda: members of the group have already been captured in Iraq.
A couple of points on the LeT in Iraq that the people who know why I've researched them so heavily will no doubt appreciate:
Reuel Marc Gerecht, an AEI scholar whom I have an immense amount of respect and admiration for, has a fascinating piece on the Weekly Standard website in which he challenges the conventional line of thought that the war in Iraq has made al-Qaeda stronger and instead adopts a far more agnostic approach to the situation. While I very much doubt that this going to change any undecided minds on the subject, I would still like to excerpt a few key points and provide some of my own commentary to Mr. Gerecht's commentary (rather Talmudic, no?):
Now, leaving aside whether the war in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror, are Kerry, Clarke, and it appears many if not most of the journalists on the terrorism beat and their official sources correct in their now-reflexive assumption that the war in Iraq has spurred a new generation of Islamic extremists to attack the United States? Probably not. One has to say "probably" since the answer is empirical: Not enough time has passed since March 2003 for scholars, journalists, and writers to travel among Islamic militants to get an accurate idea of what is actually happening in mosques and religious schools in the greater Middle East and Europe--the two primary breeding grounds for the jihadism of 9/11.
Another reason that this is problematic is due to al-Qaeda's tendency to make use of "sleeper" operatives or people who have no known background in Islamist extremism until the moment they blow something up. The cell that plotted the 3/11 attacks pretty much followed that pattern, as have members of a number of other cells from successful or failed terrorist attacks since 9/11.
Because of this, even if large numbers of European Muslims do start flocking to Iraq en masse (and I believe the numbers are ~200 at this point) to fight for Zarqawi, we have no way of knowing whether they had been recruited by al-Qaeda as a result of their anger over the US invasion of Iraq - or whether they had been enlisted years ago and were simply awaiting marching orders.
Either way, that's still a fairly disturbing situation because it means that either al-Qaeda has a hidden reserve force of hundreds of European jihadis that had more or less sat out the last several years in the war on terrorism to be activated now (and this isn't as farfetched as one might think - the al-Qaeda cell in Lackawanna, NY sat out the entire US campaign in Afghanistan as well as the capture of numerous al-Qaeda leaders) or the network retained sufficient logistical infrastructure in Europe to take advantage (at least until around December 2003 when the recruiting infrastructure was disrupted) of Muslim anger over the US war in Iraq and was able to spontaneously mobilize several hundred fresh operatives within a period of less than a year.
Like I said, it's frightening either way, which is why I think that the European governments need to commended for their excellent work in tracking down and disrupting these cells as fast as possible.
Remarkably little field work in the stamping grounds and intellectual factories of Islamic militancy has been published since the invasion of Iraq. Just think back to Jeffrey Goldberg's illuminating pre-9/11 essay in the New York Times magazine on the Haqqania madrassa outside of Peshawar. The director of central intelligence George Tenet loved this piece--which ran under the headline "Inside Jihad U.: The Education of a Holy Warrior"--and he strongly recommended it, say CIA officers, to the staff at Langley. The Haqqania madrassa was the primary incubator for Afghanistan's Taliban elite.
Well I dunno about Haqqania, but here's a break-down of the 2004 enrollment of foreign students at the Karachi madrassas for 2004. Of those foreign students, a large number of them (49%) appear to be Thai Muslims and like Paul Moloney
I suspect that if you look at who's behind the recent outbreaks of extremist violence in Thailand perpetrated by the al-Qaeda affiliate Gerakan Mujahideen Islam Pattani and the names of those madrassa students and their founders, they are likely to be one and the same. Most of the Southeast Asians were intended to serve as the second generation of the Jemaah Islamiyyah leadership, while it might be interesting to see if the African students correspond to recent developments regarding the GSPC that I've written about in past.
Can anyone recall a comparable piece about Pakistan's militant madrassas since March 2003? Now, these institutions may be churning out a new, more virulent generation of Afghan-Pakistani holy warriors, but at this time, we just don't know. Information from Pakistani intelligence and the Pakistani press has been historically unreliable. Our knowledge of the official and unofficial madrassa system in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen is even more sparse. And in Western Europe, we are probably only a little better off.
I agree with Gerecht on this one. A large number of these madrassas (and no, not all madrassas are jihadi factories, but there are number of specific ones that are specifically set up for that purpose) al-Qaeda's "officer academies" exist in places like the Gulf states where the environment is, ahem, not at all willing to report their foreign enrollments to the semi-free or in many cases state-run press.
Even in France, where there are multiple layers of potentially very intrusive and competent police and domestic intelligence, the knowledge of what is transpiring in the country's numerous semi-official mosques probably isn't comforting to the Interior Ministry. One of the principal reasons why interior ministers have for years pushed for the local education of French-born imams is that they fear the influence of imported militant clerics. They also know that once extremists enter the bloodstream of the French Muslim community, it's difficult to monitor, and very difficult to circumscribe, their influence. Despite the omnipresent police, France is a free society, and most mosques and Muslim religious associations are pretty tight-knit communities, often opaque to even the inquisitive efforts of the internal-security service, the DST.
I would also that French racism towards its Arab/Muslim population and lack of desire to integrate them into French society has a fair bit to do with the spread of extremist ideologies among the Algerian and Moroccan immigrant populations. The DST is generally pretty good at breaking up plots aimed at France (as are most European anti-terrorism agencies), but they like other European countries are still having problems tracking groups that cross multiple borders, such as what the DST refers to as the "Chechen network" of Chechen-trained French Algerian extremists.
Finally to one of Gerecht's best points:
We don't really have a good idea of whether the extremist Algerian group the GSPC (from the French Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat) has become a more vibrant, seductive organization since it joined forces with al Qaeda in the mid- to late 1990s. Even the hyper-energetic French counterterrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière couldn't tell you whether GSPC members had a good recruiting month in France in September 2004. As he probably couldn't tell you how they fared in September 1998 or September 2001. Any DST officer who tells you he has a baseline for GSPC or al Qaeda recruiting in France for any year since al Qaeda established a meaningful presence in Western Europe sometime in the late 1990s is either pulling your leg, fibbing, or both. In all probability, the numbers are so small that the only way you could know is for the principal GSPC or al Qaeda representative in a given European country to tell you. (It is possible that the arrests of Muslim militants made in Europe since 9/11 have given European security services a better idea of the numbers involved, but given the nature of the Muslim community in Europe--a community living largely apart from their non-Muslim compatriots--the element of doubt remains large.)
To be quite honest, one of the things that has always worried me about al-Qaeda in the US is the huge numerical disparity between the relatively small number that have been arrested here since 9/11 and the literally hundreds arrested or detained in Europe.
There's simply a lot that we really don't know about the network or its affiliate groups and how they operate, which makes objective discussions about how they recruit so difficult to measure. Gerecht's point about the small numbers involved is well worth noting - remember, al-Qaeda is a decentralized beast and judging from the information that I've seen concerning its recruiters, most of them are only interacting with less than a dozen potential jihadis at any given time. About the only guy who probably has some idea of how many jihadis were recruited to fight in Iraq between February and December 2003 is Abderrazak al-Mahdjoub, and even he might not know exact figures in the interest of operational security - he certainly doesn't know the exact where, when, and how of such things.
Now I'm sure that one might cite the recent report by the IISS claiming that al-Qaeda recruiting is up since the war in Iraq. I haven't gotten around to reading the Military Balance yet, but I'm a little skeptical because their upper level figure al-Qaeda and allied fighters is 18,000, whereas I (and Senator Bob Graham, among others) tend to regard the far larger figures of 70-110,000 fighters. Call it a professional disagreement, but I expect at least part of the problem has to do with us using different standards for what is (or is not) an "al-Qaeda fighter."
Finally from Gerecht:
What we do know: Al Qaeda was born and grew rapidly in a time when the United States was ignoring Afghanistan, wasn't occupying Iraq, and was committed to negotiating Palestinian nationalist and religious aspirations through the Oslo Accords. We know that Osama bin Laden used as a tocsin call American retreats from the Middle East; that the defining moment for him, and perhaps for his movement, was President Clinton's "Black Hawk Down" withdrawal from Somalia.
We know that Osama bin Laden, his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other much more respectable members of the Sunni Muslim community have called for the streets to rise in the Middle East against the infidel American invaders. Yet the streets have been, once again, mostly quiet (despite the Westerner-paid opinion polls that tell us how much the average Muslim man hates the United States). In a newspaper or magazine article we get a quick quote from some European intelligence official telling us that al Qaeda has been revitalized by the American invasion, but what we don't see or hear, at least not yet, are European officials and responsible academics who actually visit the Muslim communities they write about, screaming over the postwar radical deluge. (And we would hear the Europeans, particularly the French and the Germans, frantically pressing this with U.S. officials and reporters, yet all seems rather quiet.)
I would actually go even further than Gerecht with respect to the first part. Al-Qaeda grew during the early 1990s because, at least among the People Who Knew in the Islamist community, they seemed to be winning. As long as that remains the general perception within extremist circles, the network is going to continue to grow and evolve.
It's one of the reasons why a US defeat in Iraq, especially if Zarqawi or his successors were able to claim credit for it, would be such an unparalleled disaster for the US, because it will justify both the bin Laden Doctrine (that the US doesn't have the stomach for a real fight) and the network's message that it is possible to defeat the United States and its allies through a prolonged terrorist campaign. The affirmation of either of those perceptions by the general population of the Muslim world in general and the Middle East in specific will have horrid consequences for the rest of the planet.
To be quite honest, I think that many of the people who are now arguing back and forth about Iraq simply do not grasp the stakes we're dealing with here, in part because they have only anecdotal evidence as for what al-Qaeda's designs are. Regardless of how one felt about the war, there are no "pro/anti-war" sides anymore in this situation. We either succeed in Iraq, or a lot more than 1,100 Americans are going to die.
Just something to think about.
I may get in some trouble for saying this, so be prepared to see this part vanish if necessary. The CIA's long-vaunted claim to have obtained an asset inside al-Qaeda has been put to the test and the verdict, or so I am given to understand, is that at least one of these individuals is a "fabricator" at best and a double agent who's been feeding us BS at worst.
I am given to understand that this agent was also the source of the intelligence report concerning 25 Chechen Islamists having entered the US through Mexico.
That being said, other intelligence that a pre or even post-election terrorist attack was planned in early 2004, such as an apparent meeting in Waziristan of secondary al-Qaeda leaders over the spring, appears to still be genuine. They're still going through the information recovered with Khan and Ghailani and there are some suspicions that some of the surveillance may have been obtained through an inside job or with the assistance of a government intelligence agency. No word on who, but I have my suspicions based on some interesting deportations back in January...
The new al-Qaeda video
I haven't seen it yet, though I'll let you know as soon as I do or ABC airs it publicly, but here is what I am given to understand:
All I will say is that whoever you're voting for this coming Tuesday, I assume that those arguments that you found persuasive when making that decision held up before this tape came to light and unless you consider al-Qaeda a credible source, they still should.
People have e-mailed me asking whether or not this tape is a "trigger" of some kind. The bottom line is that I don't know and I doubt any of us will barring a full transcript. Until then, we'll just have to wait and see.
There is, of course, no factual basis for Kerry's claim. The United States is heading a coalition of 67 nations in Afghanistan and 34 nations in Iraq. All NATO allies are actively present in Afghanistan. And in Iraq, the only NATO allies dragging their feet are France, Belgium and Greece. All of America's Arab allies also provided valuable help in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Britain's Tony Blair is under attack from his own Labor Party friends for allegedly favoring Bush. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi has made no secret of his preference for the incumbent at the White House. Even Germany's Gerhard Schroeder has gone out of his way in recent months to patch things up with Washington and, by siding with the U.S. in NATO against France over Iraq, is clearly endorsing Bush.
Australians have just re-elected the unambiguously pro-Bush Prime Minister John Howard with an increased majority. Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi makes no secret of his admiration for Bush, whom he calls "Gary Cooper." And Russia's Vladimir Putin has just offered his own roundabout endorsement of Bush.
So who are "the allies" that Kerry wants to bring back on board? The only possible answer is French President Jacques Chirac. But Kerry would quickly find out that he has more in common with George W than with frere Jacques.
Kerry, for example, supported the liberation of Afghanistan from the start. Chirac dragged his feet until the Taliban had fled Kabul. Kerry voted for the liberation of Iraq, while Chirac did all he could to keep Saddam Hussein in power.
Then, too, Kerry says he wants to organize a conference in Iraq. Chirac agrees but wants to include elements from Saddam's regime and from the so-called "resistance." Will Kerry sit down with Abu-Massab al-Zarqawi and one of Saddam's cousins to discuss the future of Iraq?
Chirac's opposition to Bush's policy does not stem from W's supposed arrogance. It is based on a fundamental principle of Gaullist ideology that sees America as a "frere-ennemi" (brother-foe).
One must assume that Kerry envisages a leadership role for the United States. Chirac rejects that he wants America recast in the role of a partner of equal stature to others. In Chirac's vision, the United States should not even be regarded as the first among equals.
Chirac, who accuses Bush of trying to create a unipolar world system, preaches a multi-polar one. Logically, however, no system can have more than two poles: If one is attached to one pole, one stands in opposition to the other. So, if Chirac is not in the American pole he must, by definition, be in the opposite one, whatever it happens to be.
Chirac's opposition to U.S. leadership has a long history. His Gaullist party asked America to close its bases in France in 1965 and to withdraw U.S. troops stationed there since liberation. The same party cancelled France's membership of NATO's key military committee because it did not want French troops ever to serve under U.S. command.
In 1986, Chirac, then prime minister, closed the French air space to U.S. aircraft sent to bomb the Libyan capital Tripoli and condemned the entire operation ordered by President Ronald Reagan. In other words, Chirac chose Col. Moammar Kaddhafi over France's American allies.
In 1990, Chirac (then leader of the opposition) did all he could to prevent France from joining the U.S.-led coalition that liberated Kuwait from Saddam. Had he been in power instead of President Francois Mitterrand, there is no doubt that France would not have joined that first anti-Saddam coalition.
Chirac is especially sensitive on the issue of Iraq for several reasons. Since the late 1950s, successive French governments have regarded Iraq as France's fiefdom in the Middle East. For decades, the state-owned Compagnie Francaise des Petroles controlled much of Iraq's oil. And without arms sales to the Iraqi market (it was Saddam's No. 2 supplier, after the Soviets), France would have been unable to develop several new generations of its famous Mirage fighter planes.
Chirac first met Saddam on a visit to Baghdad in 1975. According to Philippe Rondot, a friend of Chirac and a biographer of Saddam, it was "love at first sight." Gaullists always like "strongmen" and, in Saddam, Chirac found an impressive Arab example of that.
In order to supply Saddam Hussein with a nuclear capacity, Chirac refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). And when the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi nuclear center in a raid in 1980, Chirac described the action as "an act of barbarism by an outlaw state."
Chirac was the only Western head of government to visit Baghdad during the Ba'athist reign of terror. He was also the only Western leader to invite Saddam for a state visit accompanied by full honors.
Chirac's opposition to "American hegemony," in short, did not start with Bush and will not end even if French-speaking John Kerry enters the White House.
This does not mean that Chirac is anti-American in the vulgar sense; rather, he regards many key concepts of U.S. foreign policy as either self-serving or naive. On more than one occasion he has described Bush's idea of spreading democracy to the Middle East as a "harebrained scheme."
Pre-Bush, Chirac had a lively exchange in 1996 with President Bill Clinton over encouraging democracy in Africa. In a public rebuke to Clinton, Chirac told a summit of French-speaking African nations that introducing a multiparty system to the continent could lead to "tribalism of the worst kind."
Suppose that Chirac does abandon his Gaullist ideology, and a lifetime of opposing various U.S. presidents of both parties, to please John Kerry. ... Chirac has no troops to send to Iraq and, even if he did, he might not find it easy to do, since he has been heating up French opinion against any intervention in Iraq on the side of he Americans.
Reduced to its bare bones, Kerry's foreign policy amounts to little more than wishful thinking, especially as far as enlisting Chirac's support for American ambitions is concerned. Don't be surprised if Kerry, if elected president, quickly reverts to the Bush Doctrine . . . after renaming it after himself. E-mail:
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Iran's nearly completed facility in Isfahan is regarded as vital for the production of nuclear weapons.
A senior Iranian official said Teheran was nearing completion of the uranium conversion facility. The facility is designed to convert uranium ore, or yellowcake, into uranium hexafluoride, a key component in the process of enriching uranium to produce nuclear weapons.
"Currently, the Isfahan uranium conversion facility is 70 percent operational," Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Deputy Director Mohammad Ghanadi said. "I can say that 21 out of the 24 workshops in this facility have become operational."
Ghanadi's assertion, broadcast by Iranian television Oct. 24, was the first disclosure of Teheran's progress in completing the nuclear fuel cycle.
The UCF plant was designed to produce uranium hexafluoride, placed into gas centrifuges for the manufacture of enriched uranium.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has called for Iran to suspend its nuclear fuel cycle activities by the next meeting of the agency's board of governors in late November. So far, Iran has refused.
Instead, Teheran said it intended to use the Isfahan plant to convert 37 tons of uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride, sufficient to produce five nuclear bombs. Last month, the IAEA determined that the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan was operating on an experimental basis.
Iran has announced plans to become independent in every phase of the nuclear fuel cycle. In a speech to Iranian workers at the Isfahan facility, Ghanadi said Iran was preparing to launch operations of its first uranium mine.
Ghanadi said the mine, located in the central Iranian town of Saghand, would become operational by March 2005. Teheran would also search for uranium in other areas of the country believed to contain the ore.