Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 27, 2004 [EST] "Iran and Europe Negotiate to Try to Save Nuclear Agreement"
Posted on 11/27/2004 2:09:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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Iran and Europe Negotiate to Try to Save Nuclear Agreement
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
Published: November 27, 2004
IENNA, Nov. 26 - Iran and its European partners struggled Friday to salvage their agreement committing Tehran to freeze an important part of its nuclear program, European and Iranian officials said. But the two sides were so far apart that their talks were put off until Monday.
The agreement was thrown into jeopardy this week after Iran announced plans to operate 20 centrifuges that can enrich uranium that could be used either for energy purposes or in a project to make a nuclear bomb.
That declaration stunned and angered France, Britain and Germany, Iran's negotiating partners. They said it violated Iran's commitment under the Nov. 15 agreement negotiated in Paris to freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment.
For a moment on Friday, it seemed as if the two sides had found a formula that would work.
In an interview, Hossein Mousavian, the chief Iranian negotiator, expressed surprise that the centrifuge issue had become a potential deal-breaker. He predicted that a compromise would be reached, and expressed optimism that the deal would hold.
"This is not a key issue for Iran," he said. "And we really couldn't believe this could be an important issue for the Europeans. We didn't understand why this has become so important worldwide. We are going to resolve it."
But Mr. Mousavian, who is also the head of the foreign policy committee of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, cautioned that decision makers in Tehran had yet to agree to the compromise. By late on Friday night, they had not.
A telephone conversation on Friday between Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain and Hassan Rowhani, a powerful midlevel cleric who leads the Supreme National Security Council, was "inconclusive," said one British official.
The conversation was made more difficult because Mr. Straw was on a train, the two men were talking through an interpreter and the connection was broken off at least once, said Sirous Nasseri, a member of the Iranian delegation.
"We are poor laborers trying to clarify what is said between the politicians," Mr. Nasseri said of himself and his fellow delegates. "It's floating for the time being. I cannot say where it's floating, but it's floating."
Mr. Rowhani reports directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader. As the Iranian official ultimately responsible for Iran's nuclear negotiations, Mr. Rowhani has come under fierce criticism at home for negotiating what many consider a deal that requires Iran to make concessions but gives nothing but promises in return.
The United States has largely kept its distance from the European deal with Iran, and American officials have predicted privately that it is doomed to fail.
But on Friday, President Bush welcomed the work of Europeans in trying to get Iran to honor its nuclear agreement, adding that any such deal must be verifiable.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations body responsible for monitoring nuclear activities, says it is awaiting a formal letter from Tehran pledging not to operate the centrifuges before the agency certifies that Iran's suspension of its uranium enrichment programs is complete. Only then will the agency's 35-country governing board pass a resolution stating that Iran is cooperating.
On Friday, Iranian and agency officials were negotiating a face-saving compromise under which Iran would switch off the 20 centrifuges but not allow them to be physically sealed by the I.A.E.A. Rather, the idea would be to put them under camera surveillance.
Inspectors from the agency told delegations that either method of monitoring was sufficient to certify Iran's compliance with a total suspension of its enrichment activities.
In the interview, Mr. Mousavian denied that Iran's initial demand to operate the centrifuges was a ploy to secure a more favorable resolution. But that has been the effect this week.
France, Britain and Germany, which have led the fevered negotiations on the I.A.E.A. resolution on Iran, on Friday informally circulated their third and least critical resolution this week.
The Iranian side has negotiated fiercely to water down the resolution, and Mr. Mousavian said his delegation was much more pleased with the new wording, adding, "We are very close to final agreement on it." On that issue, however, he also said final approval from Tehran was still pending.
The United States, which is convinced that Iran is secretly building nuclear weapons, has so far failed in its efforts to persuade even its closest European allies to pass a harshly worded resolution that would send Iran's case to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
But some diplomats said that if the Iran-Europe deal fell apart, the United States might propose its own resolution referring Iran to the Security Council for possible censure or sanctions if it did not freeze all of its uranium enrichment work....
he recent nuclear accord European officials signed with Iran appears to have halted Tehran's uranium enrichment program at least temporarily, but it leaves Iran free to make plutonium, which can also be used as fuel for nuclear weapons, diplomats and arms experts say.
Iran is constructing a heavy water reactor that is designed to produce plutonium quite readily, and the agreement, announced last week, does not address that project. Weapons experts say plutonium is often preferred to enriched uranium for compact warheads on missiles because it takes a smaller amount to produce a significant blast.
European diplomats said the issue of suspending Iran's plutonium program, while long discussed with Tehran, was set aside during recent negotiations as a concession to getting the more limited suspension deal. The uranium issue was seen as more pressing, they said, while plutonium production is years away and can be addressed in the future.
But American experts expressed doubts about the European approach, suggesting it had addressed only half the atomic threat. Their main concern is a site at Arak, where Iranian construction crews are starting work on a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor that will make plutonium.
"This is an obvious omission," James R. Schlesinger, a former energy secretary and secretary of defense, said in an interview. "A heavy water reactor of 40 megawatts is likely to have one significant purpose - the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons."
Although European officials said they would try to address plutonium production in wide-ranging talks with the Iranians next month, there were signs yesterday that Iran's commitment to the uranium freeze was in doubt.
Diplomats said that Iran had told the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring group, that despite the agreement, it wanted to be allowed to operate about two dozen uranium centrifuges for research purposes.
Despite the experts' worries, a senior Bush administration official said yesterday that the Arak reactor was not an immediate concern because its completion was estimated to be a decade away, and European diplomats were pushing for a permanent accord that would cover both types of bomb fuel.
While Iran says its nuclear efforts are for peaceful purposes, American experts see Iran's insistence on continuing its reactor program as a sign of its true intentions.
Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a Washington research group that tracks atomic materials, noted that heavy water reactors in Israel, India and Pakistan all made plutonium for nuclear warheads.
"If you look around the world at heavy water reactors of this size, virtually all of them have been used to make bombs," Mr. Milhollin said. "It doesn't make sense," he said of the accord. "You're cutting off one path to the bomb but leaving another open."
Last year, France, Germany and Britain struck a similar nuclear freeze with Iran, which also omitted the Arak reactor. That agreement fell apart in June after the Iranians decided to resume work on their centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium.
This week, European diplomats defended their decision to focus on Iran's uranium enrichment program.
"The most preoccupying issue for us was to stop the enrichment process because it was rather far along and they were mastering it more quickly than we had thought," a senior French official said. "Arak is very worrisome, but the threat is a long way off."
A European official involved in the negotiations said Europe had long tried to persuade the Iranians to give up Arak. "Our argument has always been, 'You don't need it for any conceivable nuclear civilian purpose,' " the official said. " 'It's only useful if you want to reprocess plutonium, and therefore you should give it up.' "
The official added that the Arak issue might be discussed at the board meeting in Vienna of the I.A.E.A., which begins today. The board is expected to decide whether Iran has curbed its nuclear activities or should be referred to the Security Council for sanctions.
The existence of the nuclear facilities at Arak was first revealed in 2002 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an antigovernment group.
Although the Bush administration has not made an issue of plutonium production recently, in 2002, Ari Fleischer, then the White House spokesman, said the United States had "serious concerns" about the planned reactor because of its capacity for "producing weapons-grade plutonium." The plan's disclosure, he added, "reinforces the concerns that the president has had all along."
Nonproliferation experts see heavy water reactors as a danger because they are a relatively simple way to produce bomb fuel. These reactors use natural uranium, rather than the enriched form, which is difficult and costly to make. The heavy water, which contains a weighty form of hydrogen, slows the movement of neutrons in the reactor, allowing them to be absorbed by uranium. In some cases the uranium atom splits in two. In other cases, the uranium is transformed into plutonium. Then engineers remove the plutonium from spent fuel in a step known as reprocessing.
Last year, Iran admitted to conducting secret experiments between 1988 and 1993 on plutonium reprocessing. United Nations inspectors later found that Iranian officials had understated the amount separated.
The exact state of progress at Arak is unclear. Recently, journalists toured the plant there for making heavy water and reported that its output of eight tons a year was expected to double in the next few months.
In a Nov. 15 report on Iran, the international atomic agency said Tehran planned to start operating the reactor in 2014. The report also said the agency's board had called on Iran "to reconsider its decision to start construction" of the reactor. The Iranians say it is for research and making medical isotopes. But Western experts say it is too big for research and too small for making electricity. Its size, they added, is roughly that of those used abroad to make plutonium bomb fuel.
Unlike uranium, plutonium has few civilian uses and is mainly produced for nuclear weapons. Iran's recent accord with the Europeans, bars Tehran from all reprocessing of spent fuel rods. So, in theory, any plutonium made at Arak would have to stay unseparated. But European diplomats said they hoped that, if the uranium accord holds, they would be able to negotiate an expansion that would include the suspension of all work on the Arak reactor.
As part of the planned negotiations on the heavy water reactor, European officials said they would try to persuade Iran to give up its work at Arak in exchange for a light water reactor. Such reactors are cooled by natural water and are considered better for producing electricity than plutonium.
But that could cause other complications. The Russians have a contract with Iran to finish a half-built, light water reactor at Bushehr. The European officials said the Russians might view the European initiative as a rival that would deprive them of revenue. In addition, they said, the United States would have to approve such a transfer of technology, an unlikely move given the Bush administration's hard line against Iran.
William J. Broad reported from New York for this article, and Elaine Sciolino from Vienna. David E. Sanger contributed reporting from New York.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei speaks to members of the media at Vienna's International Center, on Friday, Nov. 26, 2004, during the 35-nation board of governors meeting on Iran's nuclear program and South Korea's past secret nuclear experiments. (AP Photo/Rudi Blaha)
VIENNA, Austria Nov 26, 2004 Iranian negotiators at the U.N. atomic watchdog agency sought their government's approval Friday for a compromise on implementing Iran's agreement with European powers to totally freeze a nuclear program that can produce weapons-grade uranium.
France, Germany and Britain, awaiting a response from the regime in Tehran, dangled both a carrot and a stick.
Meeting a key Iranian demand, a resolution drafted for the International Atomic Energy Agency's board makes no mention of earlier calls that a freeze be monitored by IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, according to a copy made available to The Associated Press late Friday.
At the same time, a European Union official told AP that Iran's continued refusal to drop demands to exempt some equipment from the suspension of uranium enrichment would prompt a much harsher resolution that could include the threat of U.N. Security Council action. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed hope that would not be needed.
Disputes over what constituted a full freeze of uranium enrichment activities dominated the second day of the agency's board meeting and led to a decision to take a break over the weekend and resume Monday.
Diplomats accredited to the agency said the postponement was meant to give time for Iranian leaders to reconsider their refusal to include all equipment in the freeze and give delegates time to ponder the draft resolution outlining future demands on Iran.
Iran's interpretation of its agreement with the European Union to freeze all activities linked to enrichment which can produce both nuclear fuel for power generation and the material for the core of atomic warheads raised fears the deal would be scuttled.
Anticipating that Iran would honor its Nov. 7 deal on full suspension, France, Britain and Germany had drafted a relatively mild resolution to take much of the heat off Iran after more than 1 1/2 years of IAEA scrutiny and diminish the threat of referral to the Security Council.
But Iran came to Thursday's opening of the IAEA meeting with demands that it be allowed to operate 20 centrifuges which spin gas into fuel-level or weapons-grade uranium.
The compromise being weighed by the Iranian government foresees it accepting that the centrifuges are part of the freeze, diplomats said.
But instead of Iran have to accept IAEA seals on the equipment, the centrifuges could be monitored for inactivity by agency cameras, said a diplomat familiar with Iran's nuclear program, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In comments to AP, senior Iranian delegate Hossein Mousavian described the dispute as "not an important issue for Iran."
Alluding to the latest draft resolution, he said that "we now are not far from final agreement" on the language of the text.
The newest version of the draft would empower ElBaradei to "pursue his investigations" into remaining suspicious aspects of Iran's nuclear activities over the past two decades. But it removes any reference to the IAEA chief's right to monitor the enrichment freeze and advise the board of any violations, which could lead to Security Council referral.
Iran's apparent attempt to roll back on its suspension pledge quickly became the main issue at the meeting.
The Europeans said the deal committed Iran to full suspension of enrichment and all related activities at least while the two sides discussed a pact meant to provide Iran with EU technical and economic aid and other concessions.
In the meeting's other main agenda item South Korea the board criticized the government in Seoul for past illicit plutonium and uranium experiments but refrained from tougher options.
A statement from Ingrid Hall, the Canadian chairwoman of the board, left open the option of harsher action, however, saying South Korea would continue to be monitored.
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Friday welcomed the work of Europeans in trying to get Iran to honor its nuclear agreement but said any such deal must be verifiable.
"I appreciate the nations of Great Britain and Germany and France who are working to try to convince Iran to honor their international treaty obligations," Bush said.
"The only good deal is one that's verifiable and I look forward to talking to the leaders of those countries," Bush told a group of reporters when he stopped for lunch during his Thanksgiving vacation at his Texas ranch.
Iran earlier backed down in the face of fierce international pressure and dropped its demand for changes to a key agreement designed to reassure the world that Tehran does not want nuclear weapons.
26 November 2004
Says increased problems in Iraq, terrorism, global economy could ensue
Republican Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa says the possible use of military force by the United States or Israel to eliminate Iran's nuclear installations would be an unwise course of action.
In a statement released November 24, "The Case for Restraint in Iran," Leach gave a number of reasons for his position.
-- It would complicate U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq. "Any strike on Iran would be expected to immediately precipitate a violent reaction in the Shi'a part of Iraq, where the U.S. has some support today. With ease, Iranian influence on the majority Shi'a of Iraq could make our ability to constructively influence the direction of change in Iraq near hopeless," Leach said.
-- It would increase the likelihood of future terrorist operations against the United States. "If there exists today something like a one-in-three chance of another 9/11-type incident or set of incidents in the U.S. in the next few years, a preemptive strike against Iran must be assumed to increase the prospect to two-in-three," Leach said.
-- It would tempt Iran to destabilize the global economy by restricting its oil exports. "And Iran, far more than Osama bin-Laden, has within its power the ability not only to destabilize world politics, but world economies as well. Oil is, after all, the grease of economic activity, and a devastating Iranian-led cutback in supply cannot be ruled out," Leach said.
In place of military action, Leach argued that diplomatic and trade incentives should be used to encourage a dialogue with Iran.
He suggested that an attempt be made to create a nuclear-free zone in the Gulf region to ease Iranian fears "that it may be at a disadvantage in a conflict with an oil-rich neighbor."
Leach said the United States could hold out the prospect of not only a normalization of relations in trade but also of a free trade agreement and expanded cultural ties.
"Here, it should be stressed, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have been educated in the United States. The country has strong democratic proclivities. While the apparatus of democratic governance in extensive, real power is controlled by the mullahs. Nevertheless, few societies in the world have more potential to move quickly in a democratic direction than Iran," Leach said.
Leach suggested that the United States consider joining the comprehensive test ban treaty to demonstrate it commitment to multilateral restraint.
"We simply cannot expect others to restrain themselves when we refuse to put constraints on ourselves," Leach said.
Following is the text of Leach's statement:
Statement by Representative James A. Leach
The Case for Restraint in Iran
Before the House of Representatives
November 24, 2004
There are few areas of the world with a more troubling mix of geopolitical problems than the Middle East. The irony is that the war in Iraq which has consumed so much of our country's political and economic capital may hold less far-reaching consequences than challenges posed in neighboring Middle Eastern countries.
To the West, the Israeli-Palestinian stand-off remains the sorest point in world relations, although new opportunities for reconciliation between the two sides have presented themselves in the wake of Yasser Arafat's passing. To the East, the sobering prospect of Iran joining the nuclear club stands out.
It is this East of Baghdad trauma that I wish to address this afternoon.
In life, individuals and countries sometimes face circumstances in which all judgments and options are bad. The Iranian dilemma is a case-in-point. But it is more than just an abstract bad-option model because at issue are nuclear weapons in the hands of a mullah-controlled society which has actively aided and abetted regional terrorists for years.
In reference to recent disclosures of enhanced Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons as well as missile delivery systems to carry such weapons, concerned outside parties are actively reviewing options.
The Europeans have led with diplomatic entreaties; the Israelis, with requests for the provision by the U.S. of sophisticated bunker-busting bombs; American policy-makers, with open-option planning, with neo-con muscularity being the principal reported theme.
In the background are references to the 1981 preemptive strike by the Israeli Air Force against Iraq's Osirak reactor.
At issue is the question of whether preemption is justified; if so, how it should be carried out; and, if carried out, whether intervention would lead to a more conciliatory, non-nuclear Iran or whether the effects of military action would be short-term, perhaps pushing back nuclear development a year or two, but precipitating a new level of hostility against the U.S. and Israel in Iran and the rest of the Muslim world which could continue for decades, if not centuries.
Since the American hostage crisis which so bedeviled the Carter Administration in the late 1970s, we have had a policy of economic sanctions coupled with comprehensive efforts to politically isolate Iran.
Four years ago, Sen. Arlen Specter and I invited Iran's U.N. Ambassador to Capitol Hill, the first visit to Washington by a high-level Iranian representative since the hostage crisis.
On the subject of possible movement toward normalization of relations with Iran, I told the ambassador that while many would like to see a warming of relations, it would be inconceivable for the U.S. to consider normalizing our relationship so long as Iran continued its support of Hamas and Hezbollah. The ambassador forthrightly acknowledged that Iran provided help to both these terrorist organizations, but also noted, in what was the most optimistic thing he said that day, that his government was prepared to cease support to anti-Israeli terrorist groups the moment a Palestinian state was established with borders acceptable to Palestinians.
For decades in the Muslim world, debate has been on-going whether to embrace a credible two-state (Israel and Palestine) approach or advance an irrevocable push-Israel-to-the-sea agenda. The implicit Iranian position, as articulated by the ambassador, is support for a two-state approach, but if the U.S. on its own, or Israel as a perceived surrogate, were to attack Iran, the possibility that such a compromise can ever become possible deteriorates.
While angst-ridden, the Muslim world understands the rationale for our intervention in Afghanistan where the plotting for the 9/11 attack on the U.S. occurred. It has no sympathy for our engagement in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, but if these two interventions were followed by a third in Iran, the likelihood is that such would be perceived in the vocabulary of the Harvard historian, Samuel Huntington, as an all-out "clash of civilizations," pitting the Judeo-Christian against the Muslim world. In the Middle East it would be considered a war of choice precipitated by the United States. We might want it to be seen as a short-term action to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, but the Muslim world would more likely view it as a continuance of the Crusades: a religious conflict of centuries' dimensions, with a revived future.
If military action is deemed necessary, the U.S. broadly has only three tactical options: (a) full-scale invasion a la Iraq; (b) surgical strikes of Iranian nuclear and missile installations; or (c) a surrogate strike by Israel, modeled along the lines of Osirak.
The first can be described as manifestly more difficult than our engagement in Iraq, particularly a post-conflict occupation. The second presents a number of difficulties, including the comprehensiveness of such a strike and the question of whether all aspects of a program that is clandestine can be eliminated. The third makes the U.S. accountable for Israeli actions, which themselves are likely to be more physically destructive but less effective than the 1981 strike against Osirak.
In thinking through the consequences of military action, even if projected to be successfully carried out, policymakers must put themselves in the place of a potential adversary. A strike that merely buys time may also be a strike that changes the manner and rationale of Iranian support for terrorist organizations. It may also change the geo-strategic reason for a country like Iran to garner control of nuclear weapons.
It is presumed that the major reasons that Iran currently seeks nuclear weapons relates to: 1) Pride: a belief that a 5,000 year-old society has as much right to control the most modern of weapons systems as a younger civilization like America or its neighbors to the west, Israel, and to the east, Pakistan; 2) Power: the implications of control of nuclear weapons with regard to its perceived hegemony as the largest and most powerful country in the Persian Gulf, particularly with regard to its nemesis, Iraq, which not only once attacked Kuwait, but Iran itself using chemical weapons; 3) Politics: the concern that Israeli military dominance is based in part on the control of weapons that cannot be balanced in the Muslim world, except by a very distant Pakistan.
The issue of the day from an American perspective is weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their development and potential proliferation to nation-states and non-national terrorist groups. The question that cannot be ducked is whether military action against Iran might add to the list of reasons Iran may wish to control such weapons: their potential use against the United States. Perhaps as significantly, American policymakers must think through the new world of terrorism and what might be described as lesser weapons of mass destruction, which might be dubbed, "LWMD."
Any strike on Iran would be expected to immediately precipitate a violent reaction in the Shi'a part of Iraq, where the U.S. has some support today. With ease, Iranian influence on the majority Shi'a of Iraq could make our ability to constructively influence the direction of change in Iraq near hopeless.
And there should be little doubt that in a world in which "tit for tat" is the norm, a strike on Iran would increase the prospect of counter-strikes on American assets around the world and American territory itself. The asymmetrical nature of modern warfare is such that traditional armies will not be challenged in traditional ways. Nation-states which are attacked may feel they have little option except to ally themselves with terrorist groups to advance national interests.
We view terrorism as an illegitimate tool of uncivilized agents of change. In other parts of the world, increasing numbers of people view terrorist acts as legitimate responses of societies and, in some cases, groups within societies who are oppressed, against those who have stronger military forces.
If Afghanistan, an impoverished country as distant from our shores as any in the world, could become a plotting place for international terrorism, such danger would increase manifoldly with an increase in Iranian hostility, especially if based on an American attack.
If there exists today something like a one-in-three chance of another 9/11-type incident or set of incidents in the U.S. in the next few years, a preemptive strike against Iran must be assumed to increase the prospect to two-in-three.
And Iran, far more than Osama bin-Laden, has within its power the ability not only to destabilize world politics, but world economies as well. Oil is, after all, the grease of economic activity, and a devastating Iranian-led cutback in supply cannot be ruled out.
Given the risk, if not the untenability, of military action, policymakers are obligated to review other than military options. One, which has characterized our post-hostage taking Iranian policy for a full generation, is isolation of Iran. This policy can be continued, but as tempting as it is, there is little prospect of ratcheting it up much more, except in ways, such as a naval embargo on Iranian oil, that would be difficult to garner international support for and would, in any regard, damage us more than Iran.
The only logical alternative is to consider advancing carrots, without abandoning the possibility of future sticks, and increase our dialogue with this very difficult government.
A proposal that might be suggested is negotiation of a Persian Gulf nuclear-free zone, which would reduce, although given the high possibility of cheating, not eliminate entirely one of the reasons Iran presumably seeks nuclear weapons - fear that it may be at a disadvantage in a conflict with an oil-rich neighbor. In return, America could offer not only normalization of relations in trade but the prospect of a free trade agreement and expanded country-to-country cultural ties with Iran.
Here, it should be stressed, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have been educated in the United States. The country has strong democratic proclivities. While the apparatus of democratic governance in extensive, real power is controlled by the mullahs. Nevertheless, few societies in the world have more potential to move quickly in a democratic direction than Iran. And just as it is hard to believe that outside military intervention would lead to anything except greater ensconcement of authoritarian mullah rule, the prospect of a bettering of U.S. relations with Iran implies a greater prospect of a better Iranian society.
Finally, a note about arms control. If the U.S. wishes to lead in multilateral restraint, we might want to consider joining rather than rebuking the international community in development of a comprehensive test ban (CTB). All American administrations from Eisenhower on favored negotiation of a CTB. This one has taken the position the Senate took when it irrationally rejected such a ban five years ago. The Senate took its angst against the strategic leadership of the Clinton Administration out on the wrong issue. This partisan, ideological posturing demands reconsideration. We simply cannot expect others to restrain themselves when we refuse to put constraints on ourselves.
We are in a world where use of force can not be ruled out. But we are also in a world where alternatives are vastly preferable. They must be put forthrightly on the table.
14-year-old boy flogged to death by para-military police in western Iran
Thu. 25 Nov 2004
Iran Tehran, Nov. 25 - New information has come to light over the sudden death of a 14-year-old schoolboy in western Iran, who died after being flogged for eating in public during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
Kaveh Habibi-Nejad died Nov. 12 and was buried in the cemetery of the Kurdish city of Sanadaj on Nov. 13, according to his death certificate.
The new information is the official report by the coroners office in Sanandaj. The report states that the boy died as a result of brain hemorrhage, after the back of his skull was fractured by a blow from a hard object.
Eye-witnesses had previously reported that Kaveh lost consciousness while being flogged by agents of Law Enforcement Forces, Irans paramilitary police force. They said they believed he died because the metal cable being used to flog him hit his head.
Flogging young men and teenagers in public for a range of offenses such as drinking alcohol or eating in public during the fasting season is common in Iranian cities.
Eye-witnesses said that before Kaveh was flogged, his punishment was read out by the Chief of Police who announced that Kaveh was to receive 85 blows on the back.
The US does support freedom for all people as long as it is in our beneficial interests. There is nothing wrong in that.
After the bombing of the Iranian nuclear site, the US should support and supply the resistance in Iran.
​ ​​​​ TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said Saturday it still wanted to revise a nuclear agreement with the EU, contradicting Western diplomats who said Tehran had dropped demands for a partial exemption to allay fears it is seeking nuclear arms.
Iran promised the European Union on Nov. 14 it would halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that creates atomic fuel for power plants or weapons.
But it then demanded an exemption for some 20 enrichment centrifuges for research purposes, a move Western diplomats argued could torpedo the whole deal.
Western diplomats said in Vienna Friday that Iran had dropped its demand, but Hossein Mousavian, head of the Iranian delegation to the IAEA board of governors meeting there, said a final decision would have to come from Tehran.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, speaking to reporters in Tehran Saturday, restated the Iranian position that the deal, reached with the EU trio of Britain, France and Germany, did not prohibit research and development involving centrifuges.
"What we want is not against our previous agreement, it is a matter of research and development for which there is no prohibition," he said.
"It will be under International Atomic Energy Agency supervision and will be for research purposes only," he added.
Western diplomats in Vienna said Friday that the EU-Iran accord ruled out any such use of centrifuges, and the Iranian demand would only deepen suspicions that Tehran has a secret weapons program, as Washington alleges.
One diplomat had said Iran would confirm in writing to Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, that it would drop its demand for exemptions from the accord.
But Kharrazi denied this, saying only "There is no talk of a written guarantee."
Diplomats say Iran's attempts to revise the deal struck with London, Paris and Berlin was infuriating both the EU, which is offering Tehran a package of economic incentives in exchange, and Washington which is adamant Iran is seeking nuclear arms.
Iran says it wants nuclear power only to meet booming domestic demand for electricity.
The IAEA meeting in Vienna was adjourned until Monday to allow all parties to clarify their positions.
Last Update: 27/11/2004 20:00
Iran, EU fail to agree on uranium enrichment program freeze
|By Yossi Melman and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service|
Iranian and European Union officials on Saturday were unable to reach an agreement with Iran on freezing the country's uranium enrichment program, because Iran refuses to retract its demand to continue operating 20 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, which it claims are for research and development purposes.
On Friday, diplomatic sources in Vienna told Haaretz that negotiations between European Union representatives and Iran have yielded an agreement by Tehran to completely freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said Friday that Iran had suspended its uranium enrichment activities last Monday, in accordance with its agreement with the EU. The suspension, however, did not include the 20 centrifuges that are the main agenda in the latest round of talks.
IAEA inspectors were permitted to identify all structures, sites, and machinery that has been used for the uranium enrichment process except for the centrifuges.
Last week it was reported that Iran quickly moved to complete the first stage of uranium enrichment - where natural uranium is converted to gaseous uranium - prior to freezing the program.
According to diplomatic sources in Vienna, Iran has already managed to produce three and a half tons of gaseous uranium, an amount which enables the manufacturing of one-fourth of the 25 kilograms of enriched uranium required to produce an atomic bomb.
Iranian source says country is advancing missile development program
A defense source in Iran said that his country is accelerating its development of missiles capable of carrying atomic, biological, and chemical warheads.
The senior general was quoted Friday in the Arab-language paper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat as saying that five villages in the Kurdistan and Urumiya region near the Iraqi border were evacuated in the last month to make way for Iranian military testing of the improved Shihab-3.
The source also said that Iranian president Ali Khameini authorized a transfer of $1.5 billion of the country's oil revenues for its missile program.
The experience of the past 26 years along with dozens of disasters, big and small, which have befallen on the people of Iran, belittling the nation and politically isolating Iran, all indicate that there remains only one indisputable way to resolve the ongoing crisis and liberate the oppressed people of Iran:
The organization of democratic governance based on the Universal Charter of Human Rights
Such a system, backed by the will of the majority of the people and on the basis of our national integrity, interests, and cultural and economic values, while building a trust environment with the international community, is the only one which can steer our battered country towards salvation. To achieve this, drawing up a new Constitution and defining the political system we aspire to, constitute the first and vital step. In particular, the experience of the past 8 years clearly demonstrates that no reform will ever be conceivable within the structural framework of the current Constitution. Therefore, given the fact that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic along with the behavior of the Institutions that emanate from it:
Therefore, we, the signatories of the present Appeal, call for the organization of a referendum, expressing the peoples free will under the monitoring of international institutions, in order to convene a Constituent Assembly and draft a new Constitution on the basis of the Universal Charter of Human Rights and its Additional Protocols.
We ask all Iranians, progressist and patriot, to join us in our call, and, by signing the present Appeal, echo our voice, with strength and determination, throughout the world.
Committee for Referendum:
Ali Afshari, Reza Delbari, Mohammad-Mohsen Sazgara, Akbar Atri, Mehrangiz Kar, Mohammad Maleki, Abdollah Mowmeni.
To sign the Appeal, click here
Translation from the Persian text by Ramin Parham
| NICOSIA [MENL] -- Iran has quietly deemed Saudi Arabia a nuclear state.
Iranian sources said the Islamic leadership in Teheran assessed that the Saudi kingdom has acquired access to nuclear weapons and technology. The sources said Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in 2003 with Pakistan for the latter to help the Arab kingdom in both the deployment of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.
A leading Iranian scientist and member of the nation's nuclear community has reported that Saudi Arabia joined the world's nuclear club. Teheran University Professor Abu Mohammad Asgarkhani said in an address on Nov. 9 that Iran required a nuclear weapon in wake of the acquisition of atomic bombs by neighboring Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
In his address, Asgarkhani said the world has been divided into nuclear and non-nuclear powers, or the "haves," and the "have-nots." He said Iran was in the latter category.
The dearth of quality intelligence complicates Washington's effort to persuade other nations to act on its suspicions of nuclear activity.
The short answer is lack of free speech - or, more accurately, the absence of freedom after speech. The state has a monopoly on public discourse, and intellectuals, whether they are religious, atheist or agnostic, are simply not heard. The mullahs in Qom, the holy city two hours drive southwest of Tehran, can dial the phone number of any revolutionary judge in Iran and order the persecution of anyone who dares to question the authorities and their divine agenda.
Learning is thus made irrelevant. The educated must rely on the government to earn their living. I have dozens of friends who hate the religious regime but, to earn a subsistence salary, work as translators of confidential bulletins that keep the ruling theocracy abreast of what the "unfriendly" foreign news media think about Iran. "It is like preparing your own cross for your own crucifixion," said a friend who works for Iranian Radio & TV, which is controlled by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
His remark reminds me of when I worked in a wood-pulp mill in western Iran during the early years of the Islamic revolution. In the first decade after 1979, many intellectuals, anticipating being arrested, cleared their bookshelves and left their "illegal" volumes on street corners. Piles of these books found their way to the mill, where we reduced them to pulp. One day, throwing books into the mill, I grasped a Farsi version of Marx's "Capital." Immediately, I knew it was my own copy; I recognized the book by its feel, it was so familiar to my touch.
Today's intellectuals, if they haven't turned to smoking opium or drinking homemade liquor, devote themselves to literature, primarily Farsi, European, Russian and South American. The few who remain politically active, mostly defeated reformists, take refuge in religion and fast for a day, half-seriously dubbing it a "hunger strike" or "political fasting."
There have been a few notable exceptions. Last summer, hundreds of staff writers from a banned daily newspaper, Vaghayeh Etefaghieh, protested in public, with their hands tied together as a symbol of state repression. The act drew the attention of international photojournalists, and the protest picked up steam. Soon, Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, flanked by her co-workers from the Human Rights Defendant Center, appeared at the small auditorium of the Iranian Journalists Association to throw their weight behind the protest.
Such moments, however, are rare. Since April 2000, some 110 dailies and periodicals have been closed by the authorities. Although the reform-minded Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance still gives moral and financial support to the managers and license-holders of the press, most independent reporters - including myself - are now barred from writing.
I know at least 10 journalists, public supporters of the reforms advocated by President Mohammad Khatami, who have sought asylum in Europe. I sympathize with this resigned approach, but am encouraged by the more determined newcomers. The chairman of the Iranian Press Managers Board, Issa Saharkhiz, has urged journalists to protest more actively, saying: "Enough is enough. What are you waiting for? What worse can happen to you?"
He criticized those reporters who practice self-censorship, trading away their freedom of expression in hopes that their publications will survive the government crackdown. He called for journalists to end the "vicious circle of getting permission to publish and after a while being closed down."
Mr. Saharkhiz also says that jailed journalists are forced to write detailed information about their colleagues' private lives, which can be used against them whenever the judiciary branch chooses. When jailed journalists are bailed out or released, their interrogators debrief them regularly, coercing them into becoming spies for the regime.
Such is the lot of not just journalists but also writers, artists, scholars and millions of frustrated youths in Iran. Until a real political leadership rises from the ashes of the revolution, we may have to be content with it.
The vast majority of people here cross their fingers for a sudden explosion, or pray for American successes in Iraq and Afghanistan to increase the price of suppression by the theocracy in Iran. But that is the limit. Just as minimalism is the fashion in short-story writing today, I suppose we must accept minimalist politics as well.
Farouz Farzami is an Iranian journalist.
BERLIN (Reuters) - Iran is working on a secret nuclear programme for military purposes despite promising the European Union it would halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, the news magazine Der Spiegel said on Saturday.
The magazine said it had obtained documents from an unnamed intelligence agency showing that Iran had dug a secret tunnel near an Isfahan facility preparing raw uranium for enrichment, even though operations there had been stopped.
Iran, which has repeatedly denied trying to develop nuclear weapons, promised the European Union on Nov. 14 it would halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that creates atomic fuel for power plants or weapons.
It then demanded an exemption for some 20 enrichment centrifuges for research purposes, a move Western diplomats argued could torpedo the whole deal. They said Iranian officials in Vienna dropped the demand on Friday, but were waiting for a final decision from Tehran.
Der Spiegel, in an advance release of a report due to appear on Monday, said the secret underground facility near Isfahan could soon be ready to produce large amounts of uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6). Centrifuges that spin at supersonic speed can produce enriched uranium from UF6.
The magazine said that according to the intelligence documents, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei personally issued a directive at the start of October to build the secret tunnel.
Diplomats say the Iranian attempt to exempt some centrifuges from the deal struck with the European Union was infuriating both the EU, which is offering Tehran a package of economic incentives in exchange for freezing enrichment activities, and Washington which is adamant Iran is trying to produce nuclear arms.
Oil-rich Iran says it wants nuclear power only to meet booming domestic demand for electricity.
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran is still unable to accept some positions of European countries in crucial talks on its nuclear programme at the UN atomic agency, but an agreement remains possible, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi says.
"We still find positions contrary to the Paris agreement which are not acceptable for us," Kharazi said, referring to a deal reached earlier this month for Tehran to cease uranium enrichment activities.
"But the Europeans always have the possibility to modify these positions so that they do not contradict the Paris agreement," he told reporters.
He did not specify what positions he was referring to. But he said that Iran's request that 20 centrifuges be exempted from the agreement for research "has never been a problem".
Saturday, November 27, 2004 Posted: 2:17 PM EST (1917 GMT)
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said the new draft resolution put forward by three European powers at a key meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog is still unacceptable despite recent changes, Iran's state-run news agency reported Saturday.
"There has been a good deal of changes in the draft resolution, but still, there are points that are not acceptable to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and run contrary to the Paris agreement," Kharrazi said, according to IRNA.
Kharrazi also rejected reports from Vienna that Iran agreed to give up the use of 20 centrifuges as part of a plan to freeze its nuclear program entirely.
The Iranians had initially asked the IAEA to exempt the 20 centrifuges, which can spin gas into fuel-level or weapons-grade uranium, despite an agreement reached earlier this month in Paris which obliges Iran to suspend all its uranium enrichment activities until a broader agreement is arranged with Great Britain, Germany and France.
Diplomats in Vienna, where the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency is meeting, are extremely concerned about Kharrazi's comments and told CNN's Matthew Chance it may make it difficult to put a deal back together again.
Over the weekend, representatives from Iran and Great Britain, Germany and France will hold informal talks in the Austrian capital in an effort to break the deadlock before the IAEA's board of governors reconvenes Monday at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. ET).
Diplomats familiar with the negotiations Friday said Iran struck a tentative deal with IAEA to give up the centrifuges, and had hoped -- as a result of the apparent progress -- a new IAEA resolution on Iran's nuclear program could come to a vote by Saturday.
The deal remains tentative until Iran formally submits a letter to the IAEA outlining the terms and the European countries that initiated the negotiations sign off.
Under the tentative agreement, Iran would give up its request to exempt the centrifuges when negotiators dropped two clauses from a draft IAEA resolution on Iran's nuclear program, the diplomats said.
The dropped provisions included a trigger clause that would have automatically referred Iran to the U.N. Security Council if it were found that the Iranians had reneged on their promise to stop enriching uranium.
The second clause that was dropped would have given IAEA inspectors Iraq-style access to Iran -- allowing inspectors to go anywhere at any time.
The IAEA already has extensive access arrangements, including above-normal access agreed to by the Iranians.
Finally, as part of the tentative deal, the IAEA would agree not to seal the centrifuges with steel wires but would instead monitor them with cameras.
Diplomats said the cameras render the centrifuges unusable but aren't as offensive to Iranian pride as having the centrifuges wired and sealed. ...
CNN Correspondents Matthew Chance in Vienna and Kasra Naji in Tehran contributed to this report
Filed at 3:32 p.m. ET
VIENNA (Reuters) - France, Britain and Germany told Iran on Saturday if they had not reached a final agreement to freeze key parts of its atomic program by Monday, they would not stop moves to seek sanctions against Tehran, diplomats said.
``The Iranians were told that if there's no deal by Monday, they (the EU) would no longer block a referral to the U.N. Security Council when the (U.N. nuclear watchdog) reconvenes,'' a Western diplomat told Reuters. The Security Council has the power to impose economic sanctions.
But the diplomats said neither the EU trio nor Iran wanted the talks to collapse. They said it would be a big humiliation for the Europeans and could escalate the standoff over Tehran's nuclear plans into an international crisis.
The United States, which has been pressing for Iran's case to be referred to the Security Council, accuses Tehran of wanting to build a nuclear bomb. Iran, though oil-rich, says its program is aimed solely at generating electricity.
Last week, Iran promised the EU it would halt all activities related to uranium enrichment -- a process that can create atomic fuel for power plants or weapons -- in return for an EU pledge to neutralize the threat of economic sanctions.
The ink on the hard-won accord was barely dry, however, when Tehran demanded an exemption for some 20 enrichment centrifuges for research. European diplomats said this was impossible and could only deepen suspicions Tehran had a secret arms program.
On Friday, Western diplomats said Iranian negotiators had agreed to drop the demand, paving the way for a comprehensive deal with the EU on an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution that would make the voluntary freeze a binding commitment for Tehran.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi appeared to revive the centrifuge demand on Saturday, telling reporters in Tehran the deal with the EU did not ban research and development involving centrifuges -- the equipment used to enrich uranium.
``What we want is not against our previous agreement, it is a matter of research and development for which there is no prohibition,'' he said.
Some Western diplomats in Vienna played down Kharrazi's remarks, suggesting he may not have up-to-date information. But one said Iran may truly want to reserve the right to conduct research on a program it intended to freeze only briefly.
IRAN WANTS CHANGES
While Iranian negotiators are no longer insisting that they be allowed to run the 20 centrifuges, Western diplomats close to Saturday's closed-door talks said Tehran wanted other things, including several additions to the EU draft resolution.
``They want some things in there that are a problem for the EU three,'' a Western diplomat said, declining to give further details. ``The deal could still fall apart.''
The EU trio has softened the resolution twice to accommodate Iran's many demands and does not want talks on the text to drag on indefinitely, diplomats close to the talks said.
One problem is that the Europeans want the freeze, once implemented, to be transformed into a termination of Tehran's enrichment program. In exchange, the EU is prepared to offer Iran a package of political and economic incentives.
But the Iranians reject a termination of the program, calling enrichment a ``sovereign right'' they will never abandon.
Western diplomats said the warning that Iran had agreed to a deal by Monday was an expression of their frustration with the talks, which one diplomat said were ``going nowhere.''
The EU trio first sought the enrichment freeze in October 2003 to try to allay fears that Iran was using its nuclear energy program to develop bombs.
But that deal fell apart early this year when the Iranians resumed production of centrifuge components.
US commander warns Iran, others not to underestimate US military power
40 minutes ago
Mideast - AFP
DOHA, Qatar (AFP) - A top US commander has warned Iran and other countries to never underestimate US air and naval power, discounting concerns that US forces are too tied down in Iraq (news - web sites) to respond to challenges elsewhere.
"To deter a nation state you should never underestimate the air and naval power of the United States," General John Abizaid, the commander of US forces in the Middle East told AFP in a joint interview late Friday.
"Why the Iranians would want to move against us in an overt manner that would cause us to use our air or naval power against them would be beyond me. We have an incredible amount of power," he said.
Abizaid made the comment in response to questions about whether the United States, with the bulk of its ground forces tied down in Iraq, had the means to meet other contingencies such as a conflict with Iran.
The United States suspects Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at developing atomic weapons, but Tehran insists it is for civilian purposes only.
Abizaid pointed to the US-led assault on the former Iraqi rebel stronghold of Fallujah as an example of the overwhelming force that can be brought to bear by a relatively small ground force of some 10,000 troops backed by air strikes launched from US aircraft carriers in the Gulf.
"And so we can generate more military power per square inch than anybody else on earth, and everybody knows it," he said.
"If you ever even contemplate our nuclear capability, it should give everybody the clear understanding that there is no power than can match us militarily," he said, speaking as he flew to his headquarters here from Afghanistan (news - web sites).
Lawmakers from both US parties have pressed for increases in the size of the army, warning that US ground forces have been strained to breaking point by a longer, more violent struggle to pacify Iraq than anticipated.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has resisted calls for permanent increases in the size of the army, relying instead on temporary increases and a reorganization to squeeze more combat brigades from the existing force.
"The question is do you need to have a very, very large conventional land force to deal with the forseeable problems of the next 20 years?" said Abizaid.
"My answer is if the international community hangs together and there is not a bloc of nations for example that would come together in some way as to present a threat to the United States, we've got it about right," he said.
As it pursues a long war against Muslim extremism, the United States should rely on local forces to fight insurgents, he said.
"My view is that the way to win these wars, to win the insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Iraq, you need to build Afghan and Iraqi capacity, and in the long run the need for large numbers of American troops will come down," he said.
"So the priority has to be helping countries help themselves. After all, who better can go against the cellular structures in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, wherever you may find them, but the people that live there," he said.
Meanwhile, more troops are needed in Iraq through the January 30 elections, Abizaid acknowledged. However, no decisions have been reached on how many are required or where they will come from, he said. There are now about 138,000 US troops in Iraq.
Options under discussion range from extending tours of duty of more soldiers, speeding the arrival of others already scheduled to deploy to Iraq earlier next year, to bringing in extra troops from Europe or the United States for a short period.
"And of course one of the key things we have to understand is what the Iraqis are capable of doing or not capable of doing between now and the elections," Abizaid said.
"So the big question is what American plus Iraqi equation equals good enough security for the elections, and everybody needs to understand there is not going to be perfect security for the elections," he said.
Movement predicts future liberation of Iran during VOA TV programSMCCDI (Information Service)
Nov 26, 2004
In an interview, made today, with the well respected Setareh Derakhshesh of Voice of America TV (VOA) the SMCCDI's Coordinator predicted the future downfall of the Islamic regime.
In part of this interview Aryo B. Pirouznia, speaking on behalf of the Movement, predicted the future liberation of Iran based on the conjunction of strong US support with pressures exerced on the Islamic republic regime and the raise of open contestation by Iranians including individuals who were themselves part of the Mullhacracy not a long time ago..
The program (VOA's "News & Views" of 11/26/04) will be re-aired tomorrow morning, Iran local time, and can be seen on at the following link till 12:00 PM US EST by visiting: http://www.voanews.com/real/voa/nenaf/fars/pers1700v.ram. The audio-video interview can be seen from the minute 21':15'' of the program. It will be transferred after 12:00 PM to the VOA website's archives section.
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