Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 24, 2004 [EST] "Clarifying and Strengthening The Iran-EU Nuclear Accord"
Posted on 11/23/2004 11:55:06 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.
|Number 920||November 22, 2004|
By Patrick Clawson
On November 25, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors will meet to consider Iran's nuclear program, in light of the November 14 Paris Accords between Iran and Britain, France, and Germany (the E3). If the Paris Accords are going to work as a stepping-stone toward ending Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions -- rather than as a stalling tactic while Iran makes progress on that program -- several steps will be necessary to clarify and build on the Paris Accords.
Background: The Inspections Quandary
The November 15 IAEA report about Iran (GOV/2004/83) once again documents the impressive technical expertise and dogged determination of the IAEA staff in ferreting out Iran's nuclear activities. But the IAEA report can lead to two very different policy conclusions depending on what criteria are used to judge a country's proliferation record.
The test that IAEA directors general and board have generally favored is cooperation with the IAEA. Since the November 15 report says Iran's cooperation has dramatically improved and there remain only two "important issues relevant to the Agency's investigation in order to provide assurance there are no undeclared enrichment activities in Iran," the IAEA staff may within a few months report that the Iran file has been resolved. The problem with this approach is that Iran may be cooperating in order to learn from inspectors' questions what are the critical technologies for a nuclear bomb. And Iran's seeming cooperation may simply mean that Iran is learning how to better conceal, by watching how the IAEA unraveled Iran's earlier erroneous statements.
The alternative test is whether Iran has complied with its obligations. Here the answer is clearly no. The November 15 report identifies fifteen separate Iranian "fail[ings] to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement," some dating back to 1985. It also describes how Iran has repeatedly changed its stories, especially about the crucial enrichment program -- which started in 1985 rather than 1997 as Iran claimed; used imported components rather than being entirely domestic as Iran claimed; included tests with nuclear material, which Iran had denied; and involved two centrifuge types rather than the one Iran had acknowledged.
The Paris Accords straddle the fence about which test is the determining one. On the one hand, the accords imply that full cooperation will bring Iran a variety of political, economic, and security benefits. On the other hand, the basic point of the accords is to insist Iran must do something the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) does not require -- namely, forego a full nuclear fuel cycle -- presumably because Iran's past compliance record shows it cannot be trusted with a technology so open to diversion into a bomb program. Given this fundamental ambiguity underlying the Paris Accords, it is appropriate for Washington to learn more about EU attitudes on some key issues as discussed below.
Closing the NPT Door Before Iran Leaves
Faced with Iranian leaders' threat to leave the NPT if the West presses too hard about Iran's nuclear program, now is the time to have the UN Security Council (UNSC) make clear the serious consequences of withdrawal. The toughest -- and cleverest -- position has come from France, which has framed the issue in a way well designed to secure support at the Security Council, namely, as simply reaffirming existing international law (see NPT/CONF.2005/PC.III/WP.22). France's exact wording is, "Without prejudice to other measures that the UNSC may decide, a State that withdraws should -- in any case -- no longer make use of all nuclear materials, facilities, equipment or technologies acquired in a third country before its withdrawal. Such facilities, equipment and nuclear material should be returned to the supplying State, frozen or dismantled under international verification." As a practical matter, this would mean that if Iran withdraws from the NPT, it has to dismantle or freeze the Bushehr power plant -- which would be a heavy blow to the Islamic Republic, having invested so much political capital in Bushehr. France has also proposed clarifying, "In accordance with international law, a State that withdraws from the NPT (Article X) remains responsible for violations committed while still a party to the Treaty." These suggestions should be acted upon without delay.
Getting G8 Agreed Safeguards Before Bushehr Is Fueled
Iran claims that a contract with Russia about fueling Bushehr -- slated to start in 2006 -- will be signed during the scheduled December visit to Tehran of Aleksandr Rumyantsev, head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, although both Iran and Russia have often claimed in the past that the contract would soon be inked. Before the United States abandons its decade-long vigorous opposition to fueling Bushehr in favor of the Paris Accords' tacit approval of Bushehr, it should insist on a G8 consensus on two elements that are by no means assured of occurring otherwise, even though they seem like obvious points. The first is that the IAEA should use the Iran case to build on and extend the updating of its safeguards started with other countries; the past practice of bimonthly inspection visits should be supplemented by cameras, environmental sampling devices, and other modern monitoring equipment sending data in near real time to IAEA headquarters, with inspectors stationed permanently on-site to make sure the equipment works properly. The second is that spent fuel unloaded from the reactor must be returned to Russia quickly, rather than sitting for years in cooling ponds (the usual procedure) where it would provide a ready supply of bomb-useful plutonium if Iran were to break out from the NPT. Each of these measures will be expensive, and financing guarantees should be sought in advance.
Learning Europe's Plans for the Security Talks
The Paris Accords call for launching negotiations in the first half of December 2004 on "political and security issues," in parallel to talks on nuclear issues and "technology and cooperation." At a minimum, Washington should ask for consultation with the E3 about what will be discussed and press to see that Iran be asked to agree to immediate confidence-building measures (CBMs):
Missiles. As a CBM, Iran could be asked to provide information about why the most recent launch, in August, of its long-range Shehab 3 missile involved a much modified missile with a unique nose-cone design, which just happens to be well suited for fitting a basic nuclear weapon into the missile (though there are other plausible explanations for the change). Any full agreement with Iran should be contingent on an accord about the number and range of long-range Iranian missiles.
Hizballah. On November 7, Hizballah proudly announced and Israel confirmed that an Iranian-supplied drone overflew Israeli airspace, beaming back video intelligence. As a CBM, Iran could be asked at least to cease shipping any new military technology to Hizballah, and preferably to stop providing any new arms. A full agreement with Iran should depend upon Tehran supporting the disarming of Hizballah's militia, even if that has to be in the form of folding it into Lebanese forces, and the disposal of its stock of thousands of rockets.
Al-Qaeda. Iran acknowledges that some al-Qaeda leaders are on its soil, claiming they are under arrest, but it has refused European entreaties to provide the names or pseudonyms of those it is holding. This issue should be revisited immediately, in light of the Paris Accord pledge, "Irrespective of progress on the nuclear issue, the E3/EU and Iran confirm their determination to combat terrorism, including the activities of Al Qa'ida and other terrorist groups such as the MeK." Any full agreement with Iran should require the expulsion of these al-Qaeda leaders.
Clearing up Potential Loopholes in the Paris Accords
The detailed language in the accords about what activities Iran must suspend should preclude some of the tricks Iran used after the initial October 2003 agreement with the E3, which Iran insisted allowed it to continue producing centrifuges. However, Iran has already shown that it is determined to exploit every last ambiguity in the Paris Accords: to European surprise, it insisted on producing enrichment feedstock up until the very minute of the entry-into-effect of the agreement on November 22. Given this record, several important issues passed over in silence need to be tied down:
Will Iran suspend work on parallel routes to acquiring fissile material? For instance, Iran has proudly told the IAEA that it is building a heavy-water plant and will soon start construction of a heavy-water reactor, which is well designed to produce fissile material. There is nothing in the agreement to prevent Iran from continuing down this path.
Will Iran allow inspections designed to determine if it is working on nuclear warhead design? Iran has permitted IAEA inspections of a number of defense-related sites, but, as the IAEA report points out, Iran insists this has been as a voluntary CBM (which Iran could therefore suspend without calling the Paris Accords into question). The report also notes Iran has refused to allow inspection of a military site in the town of Parchin; the United States describes the Parchin facility as being well designed for testing the conventional explosives needed to initiate the chain reaction (which is what causes the actual explosion in a nuclear bomb).
Preventing More Irans
France has proposed tough standards that would apply to all countries designed to prevent other states from going down Iran's route of exploiting weaknesses in the NPT (see NPT/CONF.2005/PC.III/WP.22).
The first would make clear that rather than the IAEA having to catch a country cheating red-handed, the burden of proof is on countries to show that their intentions are peaceful: "nuclear cooperation should be suspended with States for which the IAEA cannot provide sufficient assurances that their nuclear program is devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes, until the IAEA provides such assurances."
The second would clarify under what conditions a country may have access to dangerous technologies, including enrichment, reprocessing, and heavy water. Contrary to Iran's repeated claims it has a right to these technologies under the NPT, the treaty only guarantees access to nuclear energy (i.e., just the power plants) while remaining silent about the fuel cycle -- a matter much debated during the NPT negotiations. France proposed that all countries be bound to block exports of such technology unless the recipient can meet a series of eight tough criteria, including "an economically rational plan for developing such projects"; "the highest standard of non-proliferation commitments"; and "an analysis of the stability of the country and the region concerned."
Implications for U.S. Policy
The U.S. government's agnosticism about the Paris Accords is rooted not in the specific provisions of the accords but in Iran's bad track record. Added to which are the doubts about Iran's commitment raised by the harsh criticism of the accords by prominent Iranian politicians; for instance, Ali Larijani -- often cited as one of the more pragmatic and knowledgeable conservatives -- described Iran's concessions as "giving a pearl in exchange for candy." Only an extended period of Iran's full cooperation will reduce U.S. concerns that Iran is stalling while continuing a clandestine program.
While remaining skeptical about the Paris Accords, Washington should consider more active pressure on some related issues, especially on those areas where the French government has been out in front proposing strong measures. A good time to start that more active pressure would be this week, given that the E3 are eager to see the IAEA board adopt by unanimous consent a statement about the Paris Accords.
Patrick Clawson is the deputy director of The Washington Institute.
Patrick Clawson is the deputy director of The Washington Institute.
Copyright 2004 THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE for Near East Policy
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Washington, D.C. 20036
FAX (202) 223-5364
Patrick Clawson, Deputy Director
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
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Nov 23, 2004 By Tabassum Zakaria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran "vigorously" pursued programs to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons during the latter part of 2003 and was working to improve delivery systems, a CIA report said on Tuesday.
Al Qaeda was also engaged in rudimentary nuclear research, the CIA said, and the network's stated willingness to launch an unconventional attack was a major concern.
The unclassified semi-annual report to Congress on the acquisition of technology relating to weapons of mass destruction from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2003, was posted on the intelligence agency's Web site www.cia.gov.
"Iran's nuclear program received significant assistance in the past from the proliferation network headed by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan," the CIA report said.
Khan's network provided Iran with designs for Pakistan's older centrifuges and for more advanced and efficient models, and components, the report said.
Iran was trying to improve delivery systems and sought foreign materials, training and equipment from Russia, China, North Korea, and Europe, it said.
Last week Iran denied allegations by an exiled opposition group that it obtained weapons-grade uranium and a nuclear bomb design from Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb.
The United States believes Iran has been pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program and has tried to convince the international community of those concerns.
TERRORISM THREAT HIGH
"One of our highest concerns is al Qaeda's stated readiness to attempt unconventional attacks against us," the report said. Osama bin Laden and other leaders have said it was al Qaeda's religious duty to acquire nuclear weapons, the CIA said.
Documents recovered in Afghanistan showed that al Qaeda "was engaged in rudimentary nuclear research, although the extent of its indigenous program is unclear," it said.
Pakistani nuclear engineer Bashir al-Din Mahmood, who reportedly met with bin Laden, "may have provided some assistance to al Qaeda's program," the report said.
"In addition, we are alert to the very real possibility that al Qaeda or other terrorist groups might also try to launch conventional attacks against the chemical or nuclear industrial infrastructure of the United States to cause panic and economic disruption," the CIA report said.
Several groups associated with al Qaeda planned attacks in Europe with easily produced chemicals and toxins best suited to assassination and small-scale scenarios, the CIA said.
Documents recovered in Afghanistan show al Qaeda has crude procedures for making mustard agent, sarin, and VX nerve agent, and had conducted research on biological agents. "We believe al Qaeda's BW (biological warfare) program is primarily focused on anthrax for mass casualty attacks," the report said.
The CIA report also said that information from 2003 detailed the construction of a "terrorist cyanide-based chemical weapon" that could be made with easily available items and required little training to assemble and deploy.
"Such a device could produce a lethal concentration of poisonous gases in an enclosed area," the CIA said.
The proliferation behavior of Chinese companies remained of "great concern" but China had taken some positive steps, the report said. In September 2003, China stopped a shipment of chemicals at the China-North Korea border that could have been used in North Korea's nuclear program, the report said.
North Korea had approached Western European entities for assistance with its uranium enrichment program, and "a shipment of aluminum tubing enough for 4,000 centrifuge tubes was halted by German authorities," the report said.
| Demand for full access to Iran's nuclear sites
Wednesday November 24, 2004
Britain, Germany, and France are demanding that UN nuclear inspectors in Iran be allowed to go wherever they see fit in their efforts to investigate Tehran's nuclear programme.
The unprecedented demand comes in a resolution drafted by the Europeans for a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency taking place this week in Vienna. If adopted by the board, the resolution will give inspectors the kind of access rights they have enjoyed only in Iraq.
The confidential draft circulated among diplomats in Vienna, and obtained by the Guardian, says that Iran has to extend "full and prompt co-operation" to the IAEA chief, Mohammed ElBaradei, for the inspections and asks Iran "as a confidence-building measure, to allow unrestricted access to all sites as deemed necessary by the agency".
Such access would finally entitle the inspectors to scrutinise Iran's military set-up.
The EU move raises the ante in the game of diplomatic cat-and-mouse being played by Iran and the west.
The resolution does not spell out any penalties for Iran should it resist, as diplomats in Vienna expect. But the wording does threaten taking the nuclear dispute beyond the IAEA - effectively to the UN security council - if Iran abandons its freeze on uranium enrichment activities implemented on Monday under an EU ultimatum.
Iran says its suspension of uranium enrichment, agreed with the EU trio in Paris, will be brief, perhaps for three months. But the draft says that "the board considers the full and sustained" implementation of the freeze "essential".
The US wants Iran taken to the security council for perceived breaches of international obligations.
The Americans are also arguing with the Europeans over including an "automatic trigger" in the resolution that would see Iran reported to the security council if it went back on the uranium enrichment suspension.
ASHINGTON, Nov. 23 - A new report from the Central Intelligence Agency says the arms trafficking network led by the Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan provided Iran's nuclear program with "significant assistance," including the designs for "advanced and efficient" weapons components.
The unclassified version of the report, posted Tuesday on the agency's Web site, www.cia.gov, does not say explicitly whether Mr. Khan's network sold Iran complete plans for building a warhead, as the network is known to have done for Libya and perhaps North Korea. But it suggests that American intelligence agencies now believe that the bomb-making designs provided by the network to Iran in the 1990's were more significant than the United States government has previously disclosed.
In a recent closed-door speech to a private group, George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, described Mr. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, as being "at least as dangerous as Osama bin Laden" because of his role in providing nuclear technology to other countries. A tape recording of the speech was obtained by The New York Times.
Until now, in discussing Iran's nuclear program, American officials have referred publicly only to the Khan network's role in supplying designs for older Pakistani centrifuges used to enrich uranium. But American officials have also suspected that the Khan network provided Iran with a warhead design as well.
The C.I.A. report is the first to assert that the designs provided to Iran also included those for weapons "components."
The report to Congress is an annual update, required by law, on countries' acquisition of illicit weapons technology. The posting of the unclassified version on the agency's Web site comes two days before a meeting in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring group, is scheduled to review the status of Iran's weapons program.
The "Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions" is the first to be issued by the agency since November. Its focus is the period from July to December 2003, but it also discusses broader trends.
It does not mention what Secretary of State Colin L. Powell described last week as new intelligence about Iran's nuclear program, linking the country's missile program to its effort to find a way to deliver atomic weapons.
The report says the agency remains convinced that the Iran is pursuing a clandestine weapons program, despite claims to the contrary by the Tehran government. It says Iran's stated willingness to allow inspections by the I.A.E.A. is likely to prevent Tehran from using its declared nuclear sites to produce weapons, but warns that it might use covert facilities for those purposes.
The warhead design provided to Libya by the Khan network was for an aging, crude Chinese model. Such a design would nevertheless provide Iran with important assistance in what American officials say is its quest to develop nuclear weapons, a goal they say Tehran could reach in the next several years.
The C.I.A. began to infiltrate Mr. Khan's network in the late 1990's, according to the account Mr. Tenet is now spelling out in his speeches. That operation led to the unraveling of the network's ties to Libya and the unmasking last year of Libya's illicit weapons program.
Mr. Khan remains in Pakistan, where he was pardoned last year by President Pervez Musharraf. Libya turned over the design to the United States early this year, and it is now being examined at the Department of Energy, the custodian of the American nuclear arsenal.
But American intelligence agencies are still pursuing questions about the extent of the role the Khan network played in providing assistance to North Korea, Iran and perhaps other customers. A recent report by the I.A.E.A. noted "several common elements" between Iran's nuclear program and Libya's, which is being dismantled.
Mr. Khan directed Pakistan's uranium enrichment program for 25 years. His role as an illicit supplier of nuclear technology had been widely rumored, but was made public only late last year, when the United States and Britain reached an agreement with Libya that made public the extent of the Libyan weapons program.
In recent paid speeches, Mr. Tenet has given new details about the C.I.A.'s role in unraveling the Khan network, according to people who attended the sessions. The speeches to private groups have been delivered on ground rules that they remain off the record, but a tape recording of a speech given in Georgia in September was provided to The Times by someone who was there.
In that speech, Mr. Tenet said that the C.I.A.'s role had stretched back to 1997, and that he had kept it secret in the government from everyone but President Bill Clinton and President Bush. Describing a "hidden network that stretched across three continents," he said: "Working with British colleagues, we pieced together his subsidiaries, his clients, his front companies, his finances and manufacturing plants. We were inside his residence, inside his facilities, inside his rooms. We were everywhere these people were."
Mr. Tenet called the agency's role "one of the greatest success stories nobody ever talks about."
A classified version of the C.I.A. report has been provided to Congressional intelligence committees, administration officials said. The unclassified version refers only obliquely to several delicate subjects, including what American officials believe has been North Korea's recent success in building as many as a half-dozen additional nuclear weapons from plutonium extracted from spent fuel rods.
The document restates longstanding concerns that outside experts, including a Pakistani nuclear engineer, may have provided assistance to Al Qaeda as part of its quest to acquire nuclear weapons. "One of our highest concerns is Al Qaeda's stated readiness to attempt unconventional attacks against us," the report says.
BEIJING (AP) -- An Iranian envoy on Wednesday said he had received Chinese support in Tehran's diplomatic campaign to block Washington from having the dispute over Iran's nuclear program referred to the U.N. Security Council.
Seyed Hossein Mussavian, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, visited Beijing on the eve of an IAEA board meeting that is to review an investigation of suspect Iranian activities. The United States contends that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons -- an accusation that Tehran denies.
According to Mussavian, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials told him that Beijing wants to see Iran's nuclear program handled by the Vienna-based IAEA.
``They are against referral of the Iranian issue to the Security Council,'' he told reporters. Iran could face sanctions if the investigation is turned over to the council.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the meetings with Mussavian. But Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has said previously that Security Council involvement could hinder efforts to resolve the dispute.
China is an IAEA member and holds one of five permanent Security Council seats, with power to veto U.N. actions, making it a potential key ally in any decisions about the Iranian nuclear dispute.
Iran announced Monday that it had met a demand by the IAEA to freeze its uranium enrichment program.
The step fell short of meeting U.S. and European demands to scrap the program permanently, but appeared likely to rob the United States of a possible reason to argue that Iran should be referred to the U.N. Security Council.
Mussavian said the freeze is temporary and meant as a ``confidence-building measure.'' He said Iran was prepared for ``full cooperation'' with inspections under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty but insisted on being allowed to carry on peaceful nuclear research.
Mussavian denied U.S. accusations that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated that claim on Tuesday, pointing to Tehran's development of long-range missiles that he said would be of little use without atomic warheads.
``Everyone knows that not only does Iran not possess any nuclear bombs, Iranian activities have never had diversion'' of nuclear material for weapons, Mussavian said.
The Iranian envoy also criticized the United States for targeting Iran's nuclear program while not challenging Israel, which some experts say could have several hundred nuclear warheads.
``They are supporting the mass-destruction weapons of Israel, and they have no criticism of Israelis, (who) possess hundreds of nuclear weapons and they ... have no cooperation with IAEA,'' he said.
November 24, 2004
Nuclear falloutIran has a last chance to demonstrate good faith
By John Ruwitch
BEIJING (Reuters) - Iran will never be prepared to dismantle its nuclear program entirely but remains committed to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), its chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday.
The United States, which branded Iran as part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and pre-war Iraq, accuses Iran of using its nuclear power program as a front to build a bomb. Tehran rejects the claim.
"Definitely, Iran will never be prepared for dismantling. This is out of the question and out of negotiation," Hossein Mousavian told a news conference in Beijing.
"Americans also have no right to raise something like this," he said, adding that Iran had never used its nuclear power program for weapons production.
On Monday, Iran said it had kept a promise it made to the European Union last week by freezing its entire uranium enrichment program and the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, gave a cautious confirmation.
Iran made a similar promise in October 2003 but never fully suspended its enrichment program.
France, Britain and Germany, which spearheaded an EU offer of incentives if Iran suspended its uranium enrichment program, circulated a draft resolution that diplomats at the United Nations said was unacceptable to both Washington and Tehran.
Washington sees it as too weak and wants to include an "automatic trigger" which makes it clear that resuming any activities related to enrichment -- a process of purifying uranium to fuel power plants or make weapons -- would spark a referral to the U.N. Security Council and possibly sanctions.
The draft is to be submitted to the board of governors of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, in Vienna on Thursday, where Mousavian was headed from Beijing.
If the United States pushed for the issue to be addressed in the U.N. Security Council, Washington would find itself alone, Mousavian said.
"I think Americans, they see not much room to oppose the present process of cooperation between Iran and the EU," he said at the end of a visit to the Chinese capital.
​​​​ "And even if this time they raise the urgency of referral of the case to the United Nations Security Council I believe again they would be isolated," he said.
Iran's suspension of activities that could be used to make a nuclear weapon was a gesture of goodwill, Mousavian said, and Iran was serious about its commitment to use its nuclear programs for peaceful purposes.
"Iran would be prepared for full cooperation, comprehensive cooperation in the framework of NPT safeguards and protocols, active, proactive cooperation with IAEA, transparency as much as protocol and safeguards and the NPT requests," he said.
Asked if a formula such as the six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis could be applied to Iran, Mousavian said the two cases were very different.
"I believe we have a very different situation. North Korea possesses nuclear bombs. Everybody knows that Iran not only does not possess any nuclear bombs, Iranian nuclear activities have never had diversion also," he said.
North Korea had withdrawn from the NPT, while Iran was committed to it, he said.
Kharrazi and Powell were placed next to each other for a dinner Monday to mark the opening of an international conference on Iraq in Egypt, and even managed some "polite conversation," according to the outgoing top US diplomat.
Hardly historic, but a noteworthy event nonetheless given the two sides have rarely been at the same table let alone talked to each other for the past 25 years.
But in Iran, state television and radio chose to ignore the incident altogether, while the official news agency IRNA carried a foreign ministry comment that denied any suggestion that something of substance was talked about.
"As we have said before, because of the erronneous attitude and policy of the Americans, negotiations are pointless and are not on the agenda," the ministry's spokesman said.
The Iranian press also signalled their frustration over why the clerical regime suspended its sensitive nuclear fuel activities on Monday, a step that came after an ultimatum from the UN watchdog, US threats of bringing in the Security Council and some British, French and German carrot-and-stick diplomacy.
On the front page of the ultra-conservative Jumhuri Islami newspaper was a image of a Turkish protester condemning the American "genocide" in neighbouring Iraq, in addition to a bleak comment that "the wheels of Iran's nuclear industry have stopped turning."
Even though the paper claimed that Iran was doing more than enough to prove to the international community that its nuclear drive was peaceful and not a weapons drive as Washington alleges it complained "the Westerners still have demands."
Under the deal with the three European states, Iran is to maintain its suspension while talks on a long-term resolution to the standoff are in progress.
Negotiations on defining long-term guarantees on Iran's peaceful intentions as well as a package of incentives for Tehran are scheduled to begin in mid-December. The United States would rather see the matter go directly to the Security Council. "We will see if the Europeans are capable of standing up to the shameful game of the British and the Americans," fumed Jumhuri Islami in anticipation of the first key test of the accord Thursday's meeting of the UN watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency. "The IAEA has no proof" that Iran is seeking the bomb, the paper charged. The Iranian press also payed little attention to the opening of the Iraq conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh. What space that was given merely reiterated the Islamic republic's position that US troops had to leave, as well as a comforting reminder that Iran would not be talking to the Americans.
The Siassat e-Rouz newspaper observed that the conference opened amid a backdrop of "increased American attacks against Iraqi cities," and carried a photo of an American soldier bent over dead bodies.
For its part, the reformist Shargh newspaper "revealed" that Russia, China and the EU (minus the British) could use the meeting to side with Iran, "the only country in the region that has escaped American domination."
SUPPORTERS OF Zahra Kazemi are outraged that Ottawa is mending diplomatic ties with Iran as Tehran continues to snub a request to return the slain photojournalist's remains to Canada. Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew announced in Ottawa yesterday that Gordon Venner will assume duties as Canada's ambassador to Iran. Ottawa recalled its ambassador in July to protest Iran's injustice in the Kazemi case.
Insisting Canada remains "deeply committed" to the case, Pettigrew said it's important to resume full diplomatic presence to press human rights concerns and Canada's views on Iran's nuclear program.
"Justice denied is offensive to Canadians," he said in a statement. "This case will be pursued energetically."
MASSIVE BLOW TO HEAD
Kazemi, 56, died in an Iranian hospital in July 2003 after she received a massive blow to the head. The Iranian-Canadian was struck while in custody after she was arrested for taking pictures outside Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
Rod Macdonell, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, said the diplomatic "cave" lifts pressure on Iran to serve justice. The move signals impunity for Kazemi's killer, he said.
"There's no indication the situation has changed one iota with regard to the murdered photojournalist," Macdonell said. "I fail to understand what has changed."
Conservative MP Stockwell Day said the new ambassador must make the Kazemi case an "overriding" priority of his mandate.
"The government should be aggressively saying that it's already overtime. This should have been resolved and the ambassador will use every opportunity to push and pursue a resolution in the case," he said.
CANADA BETTER SERVED
NDP MP Alexa McDonough said Canada is better served by having a diplomatic presence in Iran.
"It's certainly clear that the Iranian government has not satisfactorily addressed the Kazemi fiasco, but at the same time, when there's an empty chair there's no dialogue ..."
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(Update to add comment form Iranian parliament; detail, background throughout) TEHRAN (AFX) - Iran will never dismantle its nuclear programme, but is ready to give assurances that its uranium enrichment activities will not be diverted to weapons development, said top Iranian negotiator with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Seyev Hossein Mousavian. "Iran will never be prepared to completely dismantle its nuclear programme", Mousavian said during an interview. However, he added: "Iran is prepared to give all assurances that uranium enrichment activities will never be diverted. That's why we should have the right for peaceful nuclear technology and... this right should be exercised with no discrimination. That's why dismantlement is out of the question", he said. The Islamic republic insists it only wants to enrich uranium to low levels, so as to become self-sufficient in producing fuel for a series of atomic energy reactors it plans to build in the future. Mousavian was speaking at the end of a two-day visit to China to drum up support after the US accused Iran of using a civilian atomic energy programme to secretly develop nuclear weapons. The US has been pressing for the IAEA to refer the matter to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. Iran vehemently denies the US charges and last week agreed with the so-called "EU Three" -- the UK, France and Germany -- to suspend, as of Monday, all its uranium enrichment-related activities, including making uranium gas and building centrifuges, in an effort to avoid the UN sanctions threat. Mousavian told reporters today that the agreement with the three EU countries is a voluntary move and is not legally binding, Iranian embassy officials said. Nevertheless, an embassy official, quoting Mousavian, said: "Iran's commitment to suspend its uranium enrichment programme still stands. Iran is fully committed to honouring the agreement with the EU". But, the head of Iran's hardline parliament today warned that deputies will press for a resumption of its nuclear fuel programme if the country comes under too much pressure at this week's meeting of IAEA. "The parliament is expecting that the IAEA and the European Union show that they respect their commitments during the meeting of the board of governors", Gholamali Haddad Adel told the assembly. "Otherwise the parliament will force the government to resume enrichment." The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors is scheduled to meet tomorrow, to decide on the next step in the stand-off and in the light of Iran's agreement to freeze its activities relating to uranium enrichment. Haddad Adel said the IAEA meeting will be "the moment of truth in judging the sincerity of the Europeans". "We will wait and see if the IAEA makes a decision based on the law or if it will make a political decision under US pressure", he said. email@example.com
59 minutes ago
VIENNA (AFP) - In a dramatic 11th hour move ahead of a crucial UN atomic agency meeting, Iran has asked the watchdog to exempt several dozen centrifuges from its pledge to freeze its nuclear fuel cycle, diplomats told AFP.
It comes ahead of a meeting Thursday of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which will decide whether to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, sought by the United States for what it says is a covert nuclear weapons program.
A diplomat close to the agency said the Iranians "are trying to convince the IAEA to leave several dozen of the centrifuges unsealed for RD (research and development) purposes in addition to other equipment which has direct use for enrichment."
A Western diplomat said it would be "outrageous" if Iran at the last minute exempted some centrifuges, the machines used in enriching uranium.
"It is not acceptable to us," a European diplomat said.
Under the terms of a deal hammered out with Britain, France and Germany, Tehran was to suspend all uranium enrichment activities from Monday, a move which is now being verified by the IAEA.
Iran had continued to produce the uranium gas that is the feedstuff for enriching uranium only days before Monday's ban, in a move which one European diplomat characterized as "not very helpful" as it led to doubts about Iran's intentions and the future of the suspension deal.
Enriched uranium, made by spinning uranium gas in what can be cascades of thousands of centrifuges, can serve as fuel for nuclear reactors or as the raw explosive material for atomic bombs.
Iran has moved quickly to "sanitise" a site in northeast Tehran alleged to be at the heart of its feared pursuit of nuclear weapons, an Iranian opposition group claimed Wednesday.
Speaking in London, National Council of Resistance (NCRI) member Farid Soleimani who said nine days ago in Vienna that secret enrichment work was being done at the Centre for Development of Advance Defence Technology, said the top secret site now has been sealed off.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is to report on the suspension when the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors meets Thursday.
IAEA officials were meeting with an Iranian delegation in Vienna Wednesday to point out that the Europeans insisted on a full, unequivocal suspension, a European diplomat said.
The IAEA board will Thursday hear a European draft resolution based on the suspension agreement and which finally won US backing.
Diplomats said Washington had taken a pragmatic decision to support the European draft, even though it falls short of demanding possible UN sanctions for Iran.
The United States is "just being pragmatic for once, recognizing that the EU3 (Britain, France, Germany) text is pretty good and that there are few good policy alternatives to joining consensus on it," a Western diplomat said.
The United States has for over a year been trying to get the IAEA board to take Iran before the Security Council, but non-aligned states, as well as the European trio and Russia and China, have opposed this, saying Iran must be given a chance to cooperate with a two-year-old IAEA investigation of its nuclear program.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is strictly peaceful.
Mohammad Saidi, deputy head of Iran's national Atomic Energy Organisation, said Wednesday the Europeans were trying to legally oblige Iran to maintain an "unlimited suspension", whereas Iran had only agreed to freeze its controversial fuel cycle work for the duration of a fresh round of negotiations with the EU aimed at reaching a long-term solution to the nuclear stand-off.
The EU has promised Iran a long-term deal, including increased trade and peaceful nuclear technology, if it maintains the suspension.
Under IAEA investigation since February 2003, Iran agreed in October 2003 to suspend the actual enrichment of uranium but continued support activities such as making centrifuges and converting yellowcake into uranium gas.
TEHRAN -- A new movement of passive resistance is quietly sweeping young people in Iran, a response both to the reform movement's failure to introduce political and economic change and conservatives' control over who can run for office, according to Iranian student leaders and political analysts.
Students have launched a campaign to persuade people not to vote in presidential elections next May, so as to discredit the results -- and all parties. The movement, combined with significant apathy among older voters, represents one of the most significant challenges to the Islamic republic 25 years after a revolution toppled the monarchy, students and analysts here say.
"Our message is that by not giving our vote, the government won't have legitimacy," said Abdollah Momeni, a leader of the Office to Consolidate Unity who has been detained by authorities twice. "We want to show that it is an undemocratic government."
With some 70 percent of the population under age 25, Iran's youth is a pivotal voice in politics, especially since the voting age is 16. They were the most influential force in the 1997 upset victory of President Mohammed Khatami, a dark-horse reform candidate, largely through a word-of-mouth campaign, analysts here say.
They now plan to do it again. "Almost every family has at least one student. It was the students who introduced Khatami by telling their families about him," Momeni said. "Students are now explaining why they don't want to participate in the next election."
The movement reflects a shift among Iran's youth, its leaders say. The Office to Consolidate Unity, Iran's largest student organization with branches on some 50 campuses, first gained fame by leading the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy. The 52 Americans seized there were held 444 days.
But its focus has evolved over the past quarter-century from Islamic radicalism to a pro-democracy agenda and recently to outright dissent against all parties, according to Davood Bovand, a political analyst and former diplomat.
"Students don't care anymore about dividing the regime into reformers or conservatives," he said. ...
A local survey this fall of students at 20 Iranian universities found that only 6 percent of students were interested or participating in politics, Iran's Labor News Agency reported.
Turnout is already a problem for the government. Compared with participation during the eight-year reform era, turnout dropped significantly in February's parliamentary elections -- to a record low of 51 percent nationally and only 28 percent in Tehran -- and in city council elections last year.
Political analysts predict a new low in the next national poll -- unless the results are padded or fixed.
The students' main complaint is the banning of candidates by the Council of Guardians, a conservative clerical panel that is empowered to veto anyone running for public office and any legislation. In parliamentary elections this year, more than 2,000 candidates, most of them reformists, were disqualified, including more than 80 incumbents.
"We are looking for a fair election, which means all people and all parties are allowed to run," said Majid Hajibabai, a member of the student group's central council.
The shift among Iran's youth also reflects the emergence of a "me generation," according to analysts and student leaders. In contrast to the revolutionary causes that rallied the revolution's first generation, Hajibabai said, Iran's youth today is more focused on material issues.
"Iran had a big birth boom between 1980 and 1985. They put Khatami in power when they were 16 to 21 because they wanted freedom," added Amir Mohebian, a conservative political analyst. "But now they're in their 20s and they want to marry and get a house and job, so the discourse has changed to how to cope with their economic situation."
Because of that baby boom -- initially urged by the clerics, who later reversed policy -- Iran now needs to create up to 800,000 jobs a year, analysts say.
As a result, political opposition among Iran's youth over the next decade could grow significantly, Mohebian said, because neither reformers nor conservatives have effective programs to spur job creation. "This reality," he predicted, "will change many things."
Talks aimed at finalising details of Iran's agreement to suspend key elements of its nuclear programme have hit a stumbling block on the eve of a decisive meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany met Kamal Kharrazi, their Iranian counterpart, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday in an attempt to thrash out details of a resolution to be put to the board meeting of the United Nations nuclear watchdog in Vienna on Wednesday.
In Washington, diplomats said there was some concern that the agreement reached between Iran and the three European governments last week, which forms the basis of the resolution, could unravel. If so then the US would renew its efforts to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for past violations of its safeguards commitments.
Mr Kharrazi told Jack Straw, the UK's foreign secretary, that Tehran was unhappy with the wording of two key paragraphs in a draft text of the resolution. One of these described the nature of the suspension and the other set out the monitoring process.
We have 48 hours of hard work to do, said a senior British official. It is close to being done, but not there yet.
Tehran denies it has a nuclear weapons programme. On Monday IAEA inspectors worked to verify that Iran had switched off facilities involved in production of enriched uranium.
Diplomats said the EU3 wanted the IAEA resolution to provide for an intrusive level of inspections that went beyond what Iran had already committed itself to under what is known as the additional protocol.
The definition of the suspension, which Iran and the EU3 have agreed is voluntary and has no timeframe, is also being disputed.
British officials said Tehran wanted the resolution to make clear that the suspension of uranium enrichment was a voluntary step and that restarting the process would not mean an automatic referral to the Security Council.
However, Mr Straw was said to have made it clear there needs to be a description of the suspension and how it is monitored.
We need to get the right language to convince Iran it is voluntarily suspending . . . that there are others on the [IAEA] board who are looking at this sceptically, who feel this has to be serious, a UK official said.
Nov 24, 2004 By Amir Paivar
TEHRAN (Reuters) - To shouts of "No compromise" tens of thousands of Iran's Basij militia staged a show of strength on Wednesday, a day before the U.N. nuclear watchdog meets to discuss Iran's disputed nuclear program.
The voluntary organization, which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently dubbed as "Iran's atomic bomb," staged a military parade south of the capital and vowed to defend their country against any foreign threat.
Iran suspended its uranium enrichment program and all related activities on Monday under a deal with France, Germany and Britain ahead of a meeting by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Thursday.
The move is expected to spare Iran being reported to the United Nations Security Council and possible economic sanctions over U.S. charges that it is developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.
Wearing military fatigues and some armed with Kalashnikov rifles, the basijis hailed their commander with the customary shouts of "Death to America, Death to Israel."
"The Basij force, as the backbone of Iran's national authority will never give in to the bullying of imperialism led by the United States," Revolutionary Guards Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi told reporters after the parade.
"The ship of (U.S. President George W.) Bush's Middle East policy has run aground in Iraq. I don't feel any danger from them," he said in answer to a question about the possibility of a U.S. attack on Iran.
Established after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution as an extension of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, the Basij militia played a vital role in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, often walking across minefields to clear the way for regular troops behind.
With a network of bases in mosques, schools and state companies, the Basij now acts as a rapid reaction force in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes or civil disturbances.
They are also used to crack down on behavior deemed immoral by the Islamic state such as mixed-sex parties.
Iranian officials claim the Basij now numbers 10 million volunteers, although diplomats and defense experts say its effective fighting force is far smaller.
Basijis at the parade were aged from 16 to 60 and included women in all-enveloping black chadors and young clerics with turbans.
"For my faith I will fight until the last drop of my blood." said Nouroddin, 48, a tailor from the poor suburbs of south Tehran.
Summary of nuclear standoff with Iran
24 Nov 2004 16:05:07 GMTSource: Reuters
In August 2002, a group of Iranian exiles, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), accused Iran of hiding a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak, two locations in Iran. The allegations were later confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The NCRI said the facilities were part of a covert weapons programme.
*The Islamic Republic of Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, but has failed to declare many potentially arms-related nuclear facilities and activities to the IAEA, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, over the course of nearly two decades.
*The IAEA, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, has been investigating Tehran's nuclear plans since the NCRI allegations were first made public. It has found no evidence yet to support U.S. and NCRI claims that Iran wants weapons, but has doubts about whether Tehran has declared everything to the agency.
*The United States says Iran is using its nuclear energy programme as a front to develop weapons. For over a year it has urged the IAEA board of governors to refer Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council for economic sanctions, but the board refuses.
*The EU has been trying to persuade Iran since last year to end its uranium enrichment programme in exchange for a package of political and economic "carrots". Tehran agreed to freeze the programme temporarily in October 2003 but continued some enrichment-related work. Last week, it made a similar promise to France, Britain and Germany that took effect on Monday.
*Russia opposes tough action against Iran and has nearly $1 billion at stake in its Bushehr nuclear reactor project in Iran. Despite disputes over an unsigned agreement on the return of spent nuclear fuel to Russia, Moscow and Tehran have vowed to continue their cooperation in the nuclear field.
*Israel has hinted that it may use airstrikes in an attempt to destroy Iran's nuclear capability, though some analysts and diplomats think Israel is bluffing. Israeli officials describe the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat.
WHERE IS IT GOING?
*If Iran truly gives up its uranium enrichment programme, relations with the EU and United States will gradually improve.
*If Iran says it has given up enrichment but is caught hiding enrichment facilities from the IAEA, as the NCRI accuses it of doing, the EU-Iran deal would unravel. In this case, Tehran will likely face U.N. Security Council sanctions.
*It is unclear if Russia and China, who in addition to the United States, France and Britain wield vetoes on the Security Council, would support tough action against Iran.
*If Iran ends the enrichment suspension, which it says is voluntary and will be short-lived, it will undoubtedly be reported to the Security Council.
*If Iran follows North Korea's lead, expels the IAEA and leaves the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it would face isolation, sanctions and possibly military action.
*Diplomats and analysts say that military action by the United States and/or Israel is possible, but unlikely at the moment. However, they point to recent statements ruling out military action as a sign that it is being talked about.
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