Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 20, 2004 [EST] "US calls on Europe: send "stern message" to Iran"
Posted on 11/19/2004 9:56:18 PM PST by DoctorZIn
The US media has finally discovered Iran. For the past few years the media has largely ignored news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. As a result, most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
PS Check out our blog.
Fri Nov 19, 5:49 PM ET
VIENNA (AFP) - The United States has called on Britain, France and Germany to send a "stern message" to Iran to stop producing the uranium feedstuff gas that can be used to make nuclear weapons, a US official told AFP.
"We told the Europeans that we consider this to be really an act of bad faith and to deliver a stern message to Iran that they must stop this," the official said.
The official said the United States was waiting to see "what kind of message the Europeans will send," with the message to be separate from a resolution the European trio was drafting for a key meeting in Vienna Thursday of the UN nuclear watchdog on Iran's nuclear program.
The US State Department said earlier in Washington that it was seriously concerned by new reports that Iran was producing the uranium feedstuff that could be used to make nuclear weapons just days before it is due to introduce a promised ban on all such enrichment activities.
The State Department was not able to substantiate accusations that Iran had converted 37 tonnes of uranium yellowcake into an unknown amount of uranium hexafluoride gas, but said that if the allegations were true they would further erode Tehran's already shakey credibility on the matter.
Uranium hexafluoride gas is used as the feed to make enriched uranium.
"Obviously, they are of concern," deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters. "If true, they would yet again raise serious concerns about Iranian good faith and intentions.
"These allegations only heighten our concerns that Iran continues to pursue nuclear activities and does not honor its commitments," he said.
The United States charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons and wants the IAEA to take Tehran to the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.
To Destroy Irans Nuclear Bomb Program, 350 Targets Must Be Hit
DEBKAfile Special Report
November 19, 2004, 9:41 PM (GMT+02:00)
Covert "shaved" site show here was moved to Nour nuclear suburb.
No one familiar with Irans record of broken promises on its hidden nuclear weapons program will be surprised by the allegations leveled against Tehran this week.
On Wednesday, November 17, outgoing US secretary of state Colin Powell said to reporters during a South American tour: US has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles for the delivery of nuclear weapons. I have seen information that they not only have the missiles but are working hard to put the two together.
The highly classified, unverified information Powell referred to was described in more detail by the Washington Post the next day: According to one official with access to the material, a walk-in source approached US intelligence earlier this month with more than 1,000 pages purported to be Iranian drawings and technical documents, including a nuclear warhead design and modifications to enable Iranian ballistic missiles to delivery an atomic strike. The warhead design is based on implosion and adjustments aimed at fitting the warhead on existing Iranian missiles.
DEBKAfiles military experts believe the data referred to the Shehab-3 and its improved version, the Shehab-4.
The US official said he would not have revealed this much had not Powell alluded to the intelligence publicly. If the information is confirmed, it would mean the Islamic republic is further along than previously known in developing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.
It would also mean that Tehran has been stringing along the International Atomic Energy Agency the IAEA and the three European powers, Britain, France and Germany, in months of negotiation. The upshot was an Iranian promise to the three, which was trumpeted this week, to suspend uranium enrichment for an indefinite period in three days time, in return for magnanimous incentives. Such promises have been made before and never last long. Three days later, on November 25, the International Atomic Energy Agency the IAEA holds a board meeting in Vienna. It must decide whether to accept Irans latest promise or refer Irans nuclear breaches to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
Teheran therefore delivered its pledge in a race for time to save itself from sanctions that could threaten the Islamic republics regimes survival.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly 182 just out on Friday, November 19, was the first publication to name the Nour garden suburb of Lavizan in northeast Tehran as yet another covert site Iran has concealed from the IAEA. There, not only is enrichment going forward but also tests on lethal gases and weaponized biological agents.
According to DEBKAfiles Washington sources, the Pentagons most recent game model on military measures to dispose of Irans nuclear threat concludes it will be necessary to topple the Islamic republics regime at the same time.
The first stage would be a bombing mission against the regimes primary prop, the Revolutionary Guards.
The second stage would be the destruction of known and probable nuclear sites a much harder mission given the hundreds of sites known and unknown number and carefully camouflaged underground behind cunning window-dressing. US intelligence estimates as many as 350 sites. It does not have precise knowledge of which are the most important or even which are active.
Regime change in stage three would entail ground action.
At present, there are no air bases within range for carrying out stages two and three. Sufficient US troops for overthrowing the regime would pose a problem given Irans land area of four times that of Iraq.
Furthermore, there is no assurance that Iran would wait for stages 2 or even 3. Iranian agents may well pre-empt US action or retaliate by sabotage strikes or terrorist action inside America.
Co-opting Israels air might to the operation poses problems too. The Israelis are found to know as little about the locations of installations as the Americans. To reach Iran, Israeli warplanes would have to fly east over Saudi Arabia and Jordan, or north over Turkey. The distance of some targets, such as Irans nuclear sites in the Caspian Sea region, is too great for Israeli planes to make the round trip.
Notwithstanding these impediments, America cannot afford to give up its military option and must keep it afloat as a deterrent, say the authors of the Pentagon game model.
A sample out of Irans bag of hide-and-seek tricks with the international nuclear watchdog was exposed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 160 on June 4, 2004:
The most secret section of the latest report the International Atomic Energy Agencys director Mohammed ElBaradai has drafted on Irans nuclear program is also the most embarrassing for the international nuclear watchdog. We reveal exclusively that when inspectors arrived in Iran in mid-May and asked to revisit installations they saw in February or April, they were astonished to find empty spaces. When they questioned their Iranian escorts, they were greeted with blank stares. What installations? the officials asked.
The inspectors pulled out photos from previous visits and showed the Iranian officials what had been there before. The Iranians dismissed them as having been shot in other places that looked the same - or grafted there by hostile intelligence bodies.
When the inspectors persevered and reported the existence of aerial photos showing the exact location of the missing facilities, the Iranians shrugged.
The amazing fact is that the Iranians had dismantled and swept away all the structures containing incriminating evidence of continuing uranium enrichment for weapons production so completely that there was no sign a building had ever stood there. The fresh flowerbeds were still in the same places as before but lawns had been extended to cover the sites, most probably with thick layers of earth. All the inspectors could do was to remove soil samples and take them away.
According to our sources, US officials involved in the Iranian nuclear issue have no doubt that the installations were not destroyed but removed to secret subterranean sites probably built under military bases scattered around the country and that the Iranians are industriously advancing their forbidden programs.
Five months later, we have discovered one of those clandestine destinations to be the Nour nuclear suburb of Tehran.
Clinton's betrayal of America's national security is the gift that keeps on giving.
Hence the assured defeat of his copresident's attempt in 2008:
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2004
PARIS, 18 Nov. (IPS) Iran rejected Thursday as baseless allegations by the outlawed Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation (MKO) claiming that it has secret nuclear bomb centres near Tehran.
"I totally deny these allegations. This site is not a nuclear site and has nothing to do with our nuclear activities, Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian, a senior Iranian negotiator with the International nuclear watchdog and the European Unions so-called Big 3 said, stressing that Iran has no undeclared nuclear activities.
Spokesmen for the National Council for Resistance in Iran, the political arm of the MKO had alleged on Tuesday that the Iranian military is actively engaged in the process of building atomic bomb by next year.
It is not good for the agency to be played and manipulated by a well-known terrorist group.
"It is not good for the agency to be played and manipulated by a well-known terrorist group", Moussavian pointed out, adding that Iran has agreed to all demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for inspecting its nuclear centres.
"We have always responded positively to the agency's inspections requests. We have always cooperated", the British news agency Reuters quoted the official as having indicated when asked if IAEA inspectors could visit the alleged secret site.
It is a well-timed lie as well. The group wants to make another fuss ahead of the IAEA board meeting on 25 November", Mr. Mousavian, who is the head of the Foreign Policy of Irans Supreme Council on National Security observed, adding: "They want to poison the board's atmosphere".
In a report to the IAEAs Board of Directors, the Agencys Chief said investigations by the Agencys inspectors in the past two years shows that Iran had not diverted any of its declared nuclear materials to a weapons program, but did not rule out the possibility secret atomic activities existed.
A former high-ranking commander with the MKO told Iran Press Service that the group, listed by the United States and most western governments as a terrorist organisation has no real information on what the Iranians are doing, even on civilian activities.
Sources close to the Iranian nuclear programs told IPS that because of its record of espionage for (the now toppled Iraqi dictator) Saddam Hussein and collaboration with the United States and Israel, Irans arch enemies, the MKO has been almost wiped out in Iran and the families of members of the group in Iran are under tight control.
Scientists working in Iranian nuclear activities, both civilian and military are checked regularly by specialists. Besides, being nationalists or fundamentalists, they are proud producing nuclear energy, the source told IPS on condition of anonymity.
Hojjatoleslam Ali Mobbasheri, Prosecutor of Tehrans Islamic Revolution tribunal announced on Wednesday that four people were tried for nuclear espionage activities.
Although he did not say when the men had been arrested and refused to identify them, but he let it be known hat the accused are members of the MKO.
Asked about the groups earlier disclosure of secret Iranian nuclear centres, the former MKO official who was in charge of the groups military intelligence and security said most of the information they produced were coming from American sources.
He was referring to the so-called revelations made in 2002 by the group in Washington on uranium-enrichment plant near the central city of Natanz.
Those sites were not secret. The Americans had them caught by their satellites. At that time, the MKO was the darling of the Pentagon and the CIA that, in order to popularize them with the American and Western public opinion, they provided the group with the information that they confirmed one day after by publishing the pictures, the source explained.
The Vienna-based IAEA subsequently investigated the sites.
The timing of these revelations raises suspicions that the group is attempting to derail Iran's deal with the Europeans.
Both Farid Soleimani and Mohammad Mohaddesin, spokesmen for the MKOs political branch told a press conference in Vienna and Paris on Wednesday that the Iranian military was hiding an enrichment site in northeast Tehran and claimed Abdul Qadeer Khan known as the father of Pakistans atomic programs had delivered bomb designs and weapons-grade uranium to Iran.
Pakistan has already dismissed the claim as "highly exaggerated".
One day after the new allegations from the MKO, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Washington had information that Iran is seeking to adapt its missiles to carry nuclear warheads.
"I have seen some information that would suggest that they've been actively working on delivery systems to deliver it", Mr. Powell said.
On November 9 Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said that Iran is capable of mass-producing the Shahab-3, a 1.500 to 1.700 kilometres range ballistic missile capable of hitting Israel.
Asked if he got the information from the National Council for Resistance in Iran, Powell said: "I've seen intelligence which would corroborate what this dissident group is saying, and it should be of concern to all parties," Powell said.
But David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonpartisan arms control group in Washington, said, "The timing of these revelations raises suspicions that the group is attempting to derail Iran's deal with the Europeans, particularly since there is no evidence to back up any of these claims".
He added that the allegation that Pakistan supplied Iran with highly enriched uranium in 2001 "seems preposterous, given the fact that was a year when the United States was really cracking down on Pakistan's nuclear export activities."
It is not surprising that every time Iran and Europe and the IAEA come close to some understanding, the MKO make revelations that are immediately enlarged by the American media and officials, an Iranian analyst observed, referring to the latest accords reached last week in Paris between officials from Iran and the European Troika.
Tehran agreed to suspend enriching uranium as from 22 November and in turn, is expecting that its controversial case would be dropped by the IAEA when its 35 directors meet again on 25 November in Vienna.
Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the Secretary of the SCNS and Irans top negotiator with both the IAEA and the Big 3 has warned that the 25 November meeting would be of capital importance for the future of Iran-Europe-IAEA cooperation.
However, the Paris Accord had come under strong criticism from Iranian hard liners. Mr. Ali Larijani, a former Head of Iranian Radio and Television controlled directly by Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, the leader of the Islamic Republic tipped to be a candidate for the coming presidential elections in Iran said recently in reference to the accords that Iran gave pearls to Europe and got bonbons instead.
But both President Mohammad Khatami and Mr. Moussavian repeated in separate declarations that all agreements reached with the Europeans were approved by the leader.
France, Britain and Germany are drafting a resolution on Iran for a key meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog next week and Washington is pushing the trio to include some tough language, diplomats said on Thursday.
"They are preparing a resolution that will deal with the suspension of the enrichment program and verification of the suspension by the IAEA," a Western diplomat close to the Iran-EU negotiations told Reuters.
The draft resolution will be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board when it meets on Nov. 25.
Diplomats said Washington would like the Europeans to include a so-called "trigger mechanism" in the resolution that would set the stage for a referral to the Security Council if Iran resumed activities linked to uranium enrichment or was found to be hiding any more sites from the IAEA.
But they said the EU three would prefer to avoid any harsh U.S.-backed language that could disrupt the delicate talks aimed at persuading Tehran to permanently abandon enrichment. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 181104
The process has begun. We don't have time to fool around with this. Europe will have to choose quickly.
Despite promises to freeze its nuclear programs, Iran has continued to convert uranium for enrichment, diplomats in Washington and Vienna said yesterday, a situation that they said signals potential trouble for a new and still untested agreement between the Islamic republic and European countries.
Earlier this week Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear programs in exchange for guarantees that it would not face the prospect of U.N. sanctions while it continued to negotiate with diplomats from Britain, France and Germany. That deal was to take effect Monday, so while Iran's conversion work does not technically violate its terms or international law, it sparked concern among the Europeans that Iran was going to look for loopholes to continue its nuclear programs.
"This is really a shot in the eye," one European diplomat said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of hurting the deal more.
To help sell the deal to a skeptical Bush administration, Britain, France and Germany drafted a U.N. resolution making it clear that any Iranian attempt to pursue nuclear materials during the negotiations would result in immediate referral to the Security Council, according to diplomats who have seen the draft.
The unambiguous language in the two-page resolution was shared with Bush administration officials yesterday; a final version is to be presented at the International Atomic Energy Agency's board meeting on Iran next week in Vienna.
Diplomats here and in the Austrian capital confirmed yesterday that Iran has continued to convert raw uranium to hexafluoride gas, known as UF6, the end stage for the uranium before it can be enriched.
"The Iranians are trying to get as much work in before the suspension takes effect because they know most countries want the freeze to be permanent," a Western diplomat said.
The IAEA expects all of Iran's programs to come to a halt on Monday, in accordance with the European deal. It will then attempt to verify the freeze and report its findings to the agency's board three days later.
Iran, rich in oil and gas, insists its work is geared toward the development of a nuclear energy source. But the scale of its programs and the years of secret work Iran conducted have fueled suspicion that it has a covert weapons program.
U.S. officials have said little publicly about the Euro-Iranian deal, though privately many in the Bush administration are skeptical that it will last more than a few weeks.
State Department spokesman J. Adam Ereli said Wednesday that the United States was "agnostic" about the agreement and has noted that a previous deal among the four countries fell apart in June.
Diplomats for the three European allies have said they are not convinced the deal will hold either but are willing to give direct negotiations a chance.
But the deal has been rocked almost daily by fresh accusations and information since it was accepted on Sunday.
During a conversation about Iran with reporters accompanying him on a trip to Chile on Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he had "seen some information that would suggest that they have been actively working on delivery systems."
He continued: "I'm not talking about uranium or fissile material or the warhead, I'm talking about what one does with a warhead."
Powell's comments surprised senior officials in the administration who had been privy to the classified and unverified information about Iran's missile and warhead capabilities.
Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence received hundreds of pages of documents purporting to be Iranian nuclear warhead designs and plans to modify missiles to carry such warheads. But that information, officials said, has not been authenticated by U.S. intelligence. Officials have been proceeding cautiously in attempting to verify the information, mindful of mistakes made in prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons capabilities based partly on bad intelligence.
European officials, worried that Powell's comments undermined their deal with Iran, were told that the secretary misspoke, several sources said.
Powell, whose spokesman said the secretary stood by his remarks, did not refer to the controversy during an interview Friday with Spanish-language Univision television.
His deputy, Richard L. Armitage, told al-Jazeera television: "There's not a big secret that Iran has been developing missiles. It's always been the combination of a drive for nuclear weapons and missiles that has been a great concern for the United States." ...
Terrorist MKO making some strong inroads. Disturbing! Let's not forget this is a radical Islamist Marxist group where all members are required to dress alike and think alike.
USE them only.
A briefing war erupted in Washington yesterday over the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions and how to counter them - a debate reminiscent of the countdown to the invasion of Iraq.
Washington has been thrown into a frenzy following Secretary of State Colin Powell's remarks that Iran is studying how to equip a missile with a nuclear bomb.
Even as officials pondered whether his remarks were a slip or a deliberate attempt to scupper a new initiative by Germany, France and Britain, the debate intensified yesterday over reports that the intelligence had been based on a single, unvetted source.
According to the Washington Post a "walk-in" source approached US intelligence earlier this month with more than 1,000 pages of documents containing the information that Mr Powell cited.
The suggestion that the information was based on a single source aroused alarm. Many politicians and journalists in Washington are still reeling from their over-reliance on single sources for the misleading pre-war intelligence about the state of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Powell's comments initially fuelled speculation that Washington was seeking to undercut a tentative deal by three European Union states with Teheran for it to freeze its nuclear enrichment programme. Yesterday he played down the impact of his remarks, saying: "This shouldn't be brand new news. . .this shouldn't surprise anybody."
The growing diplomatic consensus, however, was that Mr Powell had made a rare stumble and had been lulled into saying more than he intended.
But the administration has stood by his remarks, which chime conveniently with the dominant view in Washington that the EU's diplomatic overtures are naïve and doomed. But for the moment, the administration seems willing to give the Europeans a chance, not least because it is still mired in Iraq.
"We've seen previous agreements signed," one senior administration official told The Telegraph yesterday. "What we would like to see is a real commitment. Our concern is that we see action. We'll wait and watch."
Jo Cirincione, director of the non-proliferation programme at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, said it appeared that Mr Powell had stumbled and had not intended to "sink the (EU's) deal". But, he added, the "result is the same" and his comments played into the hands of administration hawks.
"The administration did not back down," he said. "It had numerous opportunities to do so but did not."
President George W Bush flew to Chile yesterday for the summit of Asian and Pacific leaders for his first appearance on the world stage since his re-election, with the nuclear proliferation threat posed by North Korea at the top of his agenda.
Back home in Washington, the main focus will be on Iran, likely to be the defining issue of Mr Bush's second term.
Despite yesterday's attempts to undermine Mr Powell's intelligence, the administration appears far more unified in its intention to confront Iran, than it was to face down Saddam Hussein.
Patience in Washington is fast running out. John Bolton, under-secretary of state for arms control, has been pushing for a tougher line and is said to believe that Iran should have been referred to the UN Security Council a year ago.
American officials will be looking for clear means of verifying the Iranian claims that they are freezing their programmes from Monday.
The claims were being greeted with increasing scepticism in Washington yesterday in the light of reports from Iran that it using its last few days before the deadline to produce a gas that can be used to make nuclear weapons.
Diplomats told the Associated Press that Iran was using its last few days to produce significant quantities of uranium hexafluoride which can be enriched into weapons-grade uranium.
And the No. 2 U.S. diplomat suggested Washington's deliberately tough line was part of a strategy that could help Europeans who are negotiating to persuade Iran to suspend some nuclear activities.
"We believe we are on very, very solid ground in pointing to a clandestine effort by Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems," Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman, told reporters.
The Washington Post cited unidentified U.S. officials as saying the information, made public by Secretary of State Colin Powell, was unverified and based on a single "walk-in" source. Ereli said he would not discuss intelligence.
Separately, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, a former NATO boss, challenged the U.S. allegations. "At this point, the Iranians do not have any nuclear weapons, so it's impossible to use the missiles with nuclear weapons," he said during a visit to Austria.
Powell earlier this week said the United States had intelligence suggesting Iran was working on the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile.
Powell has repeatedly claimed credit for throwing a spotlight on Iran's nuclear activities and raising concern about Tehran's ambitions among major powers, such as Britain, France and Germany.
His accusation came days after the European powers won a pledge from Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities in exchange for talks on economic incentives.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the U.S. stance made the Europeans' negotiations more effective.
"My view would be that the incentives of the Europeans only work against the backdrop of the United States being strong and firm on this issue," Armitage told the Arab-language television network Al Jazeera. "In the vernacular, it's kind of a good cop-bad cop arrangement. If it works, we'll all have been successful."
Powell's allegations, made without accompanying evidence during a trip to Brazil, prompted comparisons with the Bush administration's prewar charges that Iraq had developed illicit weapons that threatened U.S. interests.
Those charges formed the core of Washington's case for war. However, no such weapons were ever discovered, and there is widespread agreement among experts that they never existed in any substantial number.
A senior State Department official, who asked not to be named, told reporters the intelligence Powell cited on Iran was "good enough to talk about."
Western diplomats in Vienna also said that despite the European accord, which takes effect Nov. 22, Iran was preparing large amounts of uranium for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran denied the accusation.
Ereli, who could not substantiate those claims, said, "These allegations only heighten our concerns that Iran continues to pursue nuclear activities and does not honor its commitments."
How is MEK funded?
When Saddam Hussein was in power, MEK received the majority of its financial support from the Iraqi regime. It also used front organizations, such as the Muslim Iranian Students Society, to collect money from expatriate Iranians and others, according to the State Departments counterterrorism office. In 2001, the Justice Department accused seven Iranians in the United States of funneling donationsbetween $5,000 and $10,000 per daycollected at Los Angeles International Airport to MEK. The money allegedly was for starving children in Iran; according to the FBI, it was used to buy arms.
Did MEK have ties to Saddam Hussein?
Yes. Iraq was MEKs primary benefactor. Iraq provided MEK with bases, weapons, and protection, and MEK harassed Saddams Iranian foes. Experts say MEKs attacks on Iran traditionally intensified when relations between Iran and Iraq grew strained. Iraq encouraged or restrained MEK, depending on its Baghdads interests.
Did U.S. forces crack down on MEK during the Iraq war?
Yes. In early April, U.S. forces bombed MEK bases. On April 15, though, the United States signed a ceasefire with MEK, the first such agreement between the United States and a terror group. The ceasefire reportedly instigated fierce debate among President Bushs national security advisers. Under pressure from the State Department, U.S. officials changed course and disarmed MEK, but pledged to guard MEK from attacks by Iranian forces or the Badr Brigade, an Iranian-backed group of Iraqi exiles.
Have there been other anti-terror moves directed at MEK?
Yes. On June 17, French authorities arrested some 160 MEK members, including Maryam Rajavi, outside Paris. They accused MEK of conspiring to prepare and finance acts of terrorism from the groups French base, where authorities also confiscated $8 million. All the suspects were subsequently released, including Rajavi, but many were confined to their homes while the investigation continues.
When did MEK target Americans?
In the early 1970s, angered by U.S. support for the pro-Western shah, MEK members killed several U.S. soldiers and civilians working on defense projects in Iran. Some experts say the attack may have been the work of a Maoist splinter faction operating beyond the Rajavi leaderships control. MEK members also supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.
Do some U.S. lawmakers support MEK?
Yes. MEKor at least its political wing, the National Council of Resistancehas enjoyed the support of some members of Congress for several years. In August 2001, 30 U.S. senators asked the Bush administration to reconsider MEKs designation as a terrorist group. Since September 11, some U.S. lawmakers have withdrawn their support; others have reiterated it. The European Union added MEK to its roster of terrorist organizations in May 2002, despite some support for the group among European lawmakers.
Why do some U.S. lawmakers support MEK?
Because it opposes Irana regime that the U.S. government says sponsors terrorism and seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction. MEK has reportedly provided the U.S. government with valuable intelligence about Irans nuclear program. Over the years, MEK became more palatable to many in Congress by abandoning its Marxist doctrine and recasting itself as a pro-democratic, pro-capitalist organization that supports the rights of women and minorities. The group has a female leader and about half of its troops in Iraq are women. Some skeptics argue that the prominent role of women in MEK is less a reflection of the groups values than a publicity tool aimed at garnering support among Iranian exiles opposed to the Tehran governments religious restrictions on women.
Some terrorism experts also call for MEKs removal from the State Department terror list. They argue that MEK has not attacked Americans in three decades. They also say that placing the group on the terror list was a misguided conciliatory gesture to Iran and that MEK instead should be supported as a legitimate source of resistance to the Iranian government.
Does MEK have support in Iran?
Very little, according to experts and press reports. Iranians criticize MEK for accepting support from Iraq, carrying out attacks against Iran on Iraqs behalf, and murdering Iranian civilians. Many Iranians consider MEK as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics, according to The New York Times Magazine.
Does MEK consider itself a terrorist group?
No, and it has protested being labeled one by the U.S. government. In 2001, MEK was granted a hearing by the State Department after a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the groups due-process rights were violated when it was denied the chance to oppose its terrorist-group designation. MEKs place on the terror-group list was subsequently reaffirmed by Secretary of State Colin Powell. However, the Washington, D.C., office of the National Council of Resistance remains open.
Is MEK a cult?
We dont know, but it has some of the trappings of a cult. Members reportedly deify Maryam Rajavi; her photographs are found throughout MEK camps, and followers staged public self-immolations to protest her arrest. Members are said to undergo regular self-criticism sessions. They also reportedly are required to divorce; children are separated from their parents and sent to Western nations for adoption by Iranian families. When they reach 18, some of them return to join MEK, because from the day they were born, these girls and boys were not taught to think for themselves but to blindly follow their leaders, according to a New York Times Magazine account.
Mexico seeks greater ties with Iran mullahs," Nov 19, 2004
Mexico is ready for expanding ties with Iran on all areas, notably in economy and trade, the deputy of Mexico's foreign ministry for economic affairs, Irma Avriana said on Friday.
Speaking to the grand seminar on Irano-Mexican economic relations, Avriana said Iran was an important power in the Middle East and" we believe expanding ties with Iran will be in the intersts of every country including Mexcio".
Also addressing the audience, the head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Alinaghi Khamoushi said Iran enjoyed an economic growth rate of 6.5, adding his chamber tried to strenghten trade bewteen the two countries.
© Iranian.ws [End excerpt]
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