Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 28, 2004 [EST] "Iran Refuses to shutdown 20 centrifuges, No Agreement?"
Posted on 11/27/2004 9:46:53 PM PST by DoctorZIn
Top News Story
Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff PersistsBy NAZILA FATHI
Published: November 28, 2004
EHRAN, Nov. 27 - Iran's foreign minister said Saturday that Iran had every right to keep, for research purposes, some centrifuges that could be used to enrich uranium, an indication that a standoff on the country's nuclear program may not be easily resolved.
"Iran's demand to keep 20 centrifuges is not against its commitments," said the minister, Kamal Kharrazi, the IRNA news agency reported.
In talks in Paris with Britain, Germany and France, Iran agreed on Nov. 15 to freeze all its nuclear activities. But this week, Iran said it wanted to retain 20 centrifuges for research purposes, stunning negotiators. The Paris accord was meant to pave the way for a resolution to be passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring body, in Vienna, to say that Iran was in compliance.
On Friday, it appeared that negotiators in Vienna had worked out a compromise, under which Iran would turn off the 20 centrifuges but put them under camera surveillance rather than under seal by the I.A.E.A. Mr. Kharrazi's comments seemed to indicate otherwise.
"There is no ban on research activities in the agreement," IRNA quoted him as saying.
Mr. Kharrazi pointed to the resolution drafted in Vienna by the three countries and said there were positions that were "not acceptable by Iran and were contrary to the Paris agreement." He did not specify which ones.
The talks will resume on Monday.
Iran has been walking a tight line in the negotiations, under great international pressure to make concessions on its nuclear program, while hard-liners at home lash out against moves they interpret as weakness on Tehran's part.
An article in the daily Jomhouri Islami on Saturday said that the nuclear agency's opposition to allowing Iran to keep centrifuges for research was aimed at preventing Iran to master the cycle of nuclear fuel production.
"We must not trust the Europeans who have dishonored their pledges with Iran in the past and we should develop our fuel cycle with full capacity," it said.
Last week, President Mohammad Khatami called the Paris agreement a "success," and Hossein Mousavian, a member of the negotiating team, said Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had approved the agreement.
Kaveh Afrasiabi, a political scientist and adviser to the negotiating team said that Iran considered the deal a victory, "because unlike the United States that wants to dismantle Iran's nuclear program, Europe has recognized it and even promised to help Iran become one of the 18 fuel producers."
The United States has accused Iran of trying to make a nuclear bomb and urged Europe to press the issue at the I.A.E.A. to send Iran's case to the Security Council, where it could face economic sanctions.
There have been reports that the nuclear agency was anticipating that Iran would withdraw its request on the 20 centrifuges formally, in writing. But Mr. Kharrazi rejected that idea on Saturday. "We are not talking about a written guarantee," he said, adding that none had been requested.
At least one Western diplomat suggested that Iran might agree to abandon use of the remaining centrifuges verbally but would not do so in writing.
As foreign minister, Mr. Kharrazi outranks some of the negotiators in Vienna, but some of the negotiators report to the National Security Council, which is controlled by the supreme leader.
Opponents of the deal have put pressure on the foreign ministry and the negotiating team, arguing that they have sacrificed the country's right to develop nuclear technology.
Alireza Akbari, a former deputy defense minister, said Saturday that he believed Mr. Kharrazi's comments had been aimed at satisfying opponents of the deal in the country.
"I think the Iranian team will eventually choose its wording and say that it will suspend the 20 centrifuges voluntarily but it will be for a limited time," he said.
DoctorZin Note:Why Iran must to shut down its last 20 centrifuges
If Iran has an undeclared centrifuge program as many claim, then Iran needs a few centrifuges to be permitted to stay in operation to mask this larger program they have in operation. Once Iran declares that all enrichment has ceased US intelligence would be hear the undeclared centrifuges and thus be able to prove their deception. Therefore Iran cannot shut down all their centrifuges. Read the report.
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EU warns Iran to seal nuclear dealSat 27 November, 2004 21:23
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - France, Britain and Germany have told Iran if they have not reached a final agreement to freeze key parts of its atomic programme by Monday, they will not stop moves to seek sanctions against Tehran, diplomats say.
"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 on Saturday. 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 programme 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 neutralise 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 programme.
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 programme 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 programme. In exchange, the EU is prepared to offer Iran a package of political and economic incentives.
But the Iranians reject a termination of the programme, 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 programme to develop bombs.
But that deal fell apart early this year when the Iranians resumed production of centrifuge components.
November 23, 2004 - Posted Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 July Through 31 December 2003.
Iran continued to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Iran is also working to improve delivery systems as well as ACW. To this end, Iran continued to seek foreign materials, training, equipment, and know-how. During the reporting period, Iran still focused particularly on entities in Russia, China, North Korea, and Europe. Iran's nuclear program received significant assistance in the past from the proliferation network headed by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.
Nuclear. The United States remains convinced that Tehran has been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, in contradiction to its obligations as a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). During 2003, Iran continued to pursue an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle ostensibly for civilian purposes but with clear weapons potential. International scrutiny and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and safeguards will most likely prevent Tehran from using facilities declared to the IAEA directly for its weapons program as long as Tehran remains a party to the NPT. However, Iran could use the same technology at other, covert locations for military applications.
Iran continues to use its civilian nuclear energy program to justify its efforts to establish domestically or otherwise acquire the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Iran claims that this fuel cycle would be used to produce fuel for nuclear power reactors, such as the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor that Russia is continuing to build at the southern port city of Bushehr. However, Iran does not need to produce its own fuel for this reactor because Russia has pledged to provide the fuel throughout the operating lifetime of the reactor and is negotiating with Iran to take back the irradiated spent fuel. An Iranian opposition group, beginning in August of 2002, revealed several previously undisclosed Iranian nuclear facilities, sparking numerous IAEA inspections since February 2003. Subsequent reports by the IAEA Director General revealed numerous failures by Iran to disclose facilities and activities, which run contrary to its IAEA safeguards obligations. Before the reporting period, the A. Q. Khan network provided Iran with designs for Pakistan's older centrifuges, as well as designs for more advanced and efficient models, and components.
The November 2003 report of the IAEA Director General (DG) to the Board of Governors describes a pattern of Iranian safeguards breaches, including the failure to: report the import and chemical conversion of uranium compounds, report the separation of plutonium from irradiated uranium targets, report the enrichment of uranium using both centrifuges and lasers, and provide design information for numerous fuel cycle facilities. In October 2003, Iran sent a report to the DG providing additional detail on its nuclear program and signed an agreement with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany that included an Iranian promise to suspend all enrichment and reprocessing efforts. On 18 December 2003, Iran signed the Additional Protocol (AP) to its IAEA Safeguards Agreement but took no steps to ratify the Protocol during this reporting period.
Ballistic Missile. Ballistic missile-related cooperation from entities in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and China over the years has helped Iran move toward its goal of becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles. Such assistance during 2003 continued to include equipment, technology, and expertise. Iran's ballistic missile inventory is among the largest in the Middle East and includes some 1,300-km-range Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and a few hundred short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs)-including the Shahab-1 (Scud-B), Shahab-2 (Scud C), and Tondar-69 (CSS-8)-as well as a variety of large unguided rockets. Already producing Scud SRBMs, Iran announced that it had begun production of the Shahab-3 MRBM and a new solid-propellant SRBM, the Fateh-110. In addition, Iran publicly acknowledged the development of follow-on versions of the Shahab-3. It originally said that another version, the Shahab-4, was a more capable ballistic missile than its predecessor but later characterized it as solely a space launch vehicle with no military applications. Iran is also pursuing longer-range ballistic missiles.
Chemical. Iran is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Nevertheless, during the reporting period it continued to seek production technology, training, and expertise from foreign entities that could further Tehran's efforts to achieve an indigenous capability to produce nerve agents. Iran may have already stockpiled blister, blood, choking, and possibly nerve agents-and the bombs and artillery shells to deliver them-which it previously had manufactured.
Biological. Even though Iran is part of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), Tehran probably maintained an offensive BW program. Iran continued to seek dual-use biotechnical materials, equipment, and expertise that could be used in Tehran's BW program. Iran probably has the capability to produce at least small quantities of BW agents.
Advanced Conventional Weapons. Iran continued to seek and acquire conventional weapons and production technologies, primarily from Russia, China, and North Korea. Tehran also sought high-quality products, particularly weapons components and dual-use items, or products that proved difficult to acquire through normal governmental channels.
Attention Israelis: The election's over, okay? so will you just hurry up and do the job and get it over with so I don't have to read this crap any more?
Iran, West may be headed for showdown, experts say
The Dallas Morning News
LONDON - (KRT) - Iran's agreement last week to suspend its nuclear-enrichment activities and permit outside inspections comes amid mounting evidence that Tehran is determined to resume research that could give it nuclear bomb-making capabilities within a few years.
The scenario painted by international experts in nuclear proliferation is that the West is heading toward a direct confrontation with Iran's hard-line Islamic government. The stakes are enormous and have the potential to dwarf any challenge yet posed by the war in Iraq.
Worst-case scenarios include a direct military confrontation between Israel and Iran, experts say.
At a minimum, Shiite Muslim Iran has the ability to mobilize potentially millions of fellow Shiites in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan to confront U.S. troops. World oil markets could be plunged into turmoil if tensions escalate and Iran, the world's fourth-largest petroleum exporter, decides to curtail supplies.
Iran has various retaliatory options at its disposal even if the West chooses a non-military form of pressure, such as economic sanctions, to make Tehran comply with international non-proliferation treaties.
"They have a large scope for mischief-making - in Iraq and in the Palestine-Israel conflict, for starters," said Wyn Bowen, a nuclear-proliferation specialist at King's College in London.
A huge regional concern is that Israel might try to duplicate its daring 1981 air strike on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, this time seeking to destroy Iran's bomb-making capabilities.
But Iran's facilities are significantly farther away; military experts believe they are beyond the reach of Israeli warplanes. And with a population and landmass nearly three times larger than Iraq's, Iran has a far greater ability to disperse its nuclear facilities so that not even the United States could easily take them out.
For more than 20 years, Iran has been the principal spiritual and financial backer of Israel's nemesis, Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. Analysts believe Hezbollah could be readily mobilized against Israel should it attempt any kind of attack on Iran.
Israel also has the technology to make nuclear weapons, does not allow international inspections and that nonproliferation experts believe Israel has built scores, if not hundreds, of nuclear warheads. This has served as a major impetus for Iran and various Arab nations to obtain their own nuclear weaponry.
Faced with high potential for destabilizing the entire region, European diplomats have been working with the U.N.-run International Atomic Energy Agency to defuse the situation before any confrontation developed involving the United States or the U.N. Security Council. The United States has been pressing the Security Council for a get-tough approach that could include trade and political sanctions.
On Monday, European Union representatives led by Britain achieved a temporary breakthrough by offering trade accords and broader economic cooperation with Iran in exchange for its agreement to suspend uranium-enrichment activities.
Mohamed el-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, told reporters in Vienna Monday that Iran appears to have developed its enrichment capabilities to the point that it has obtained about two tons of weapons-grade uranium gas. That quantity is sufficient to produce a small nuclear bomb.
Gary Samore, a non-proliferation specialist at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said Iran is about two years away from having enough fissile material for weapons production. "The window of opportunity to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability is closing," he said.
Iran insists its intentions are peaceful and designed to make it self-sufficient in the production of fuel for the nuclear power plant it purchased from Russia in 1995. Outside experts say the case against Iran is far more substantial than the one against Iraq before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
"I would argue that, if we're really looking at this objectively without a political hat on, the Iranians have been conducting pretty sensitive nuclear activities relevant to secret weapons development for the past 20 years," Bowen said.
"They should've informed the atomic energy agency in Vienna about some of their activities. They certainly have broken their safeguards agreement," he said.
Bowen said Iran's record of hiding its enrichment activities and repeatedly changing its explanations should give Western governments ample reason to worry about its nuclear intentions.
Other analysts noted the fact that Iran, with its vast petroleum reserves, should have little need for nuclear energy anyway.
European diplomats, at least publicly, have avoided outright accusations and accepted Iran's explanation that its research is for peaceful purposes. To defuse the brewing confrontation, Britain spearheaded a proposal to provide Iran all the enriched uranium it would need for its reactor in exchange for a promise to shut down its enrichment program.
Iran has been cool to the idea, insisting that it would not rely on any outside supplier - especially a Western one - for its energy-producing needs. Tehran has, however, responded positively to European overtures that emphasized Iran's role in stabilizing Iraq and diminishing U.S. influence in the region.
"Through this (Monday's) agreement, the U.S. will be isolated and the Islamic Republic of Iran will appear to be the law-abiding and logical country," said a commentary in the English-language Tehran Times.
"Now, the West openly admits the key role Iran plays in establishing peace and security in the region and seeks the help of Iran in international conferences on Iraq," it said. "The atmosphere of confrontation has now been transformed into one of active cooperation."
Samore said Europe and Washington deliberately have employed a "carrot-and-stick" approach in hopes of resuming IAEA inspections, which Tehran suspended earlier this year.
He said Iran initially agreed to place itself under IAEA scrutiny in late 2003 because the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was still fresh on the leadership's mind, and fears were high that Iran could be next on the Bush administration's list of targets.
"But as the occupation of Iraq went awry, Tehran felt confident enough to back away from that agreement and resume some of its enrichment activities," he explained, adding that Washington's best hope for a permanent settlement will be to open a direct dialogue with Tehran.
Europeans break off talks with IranEuropeans break off talks with Iran on attempt rescue uranium enrichment deal at UN nuclear watchdog meeting in Vienna, opening door to UN sanctions. Attempt collapsed when Iranian FM Kharrazi rejected their draft resolution. He also refused to drop demand for exemption of 20 centrifuges from uranium enrichment freeze.
Place your bets:
Prediction Market Discussion Board
Airstrikes by US forces against Iranian targets - excluding cross-border raids aimed at stemming An 10/30/2004 6:20:38 AM
Airstrikes by US forces against Iranian targets - excluding cross-border raids aimed at stemming Ansar or 'hot pursuit' scenarios.
Scenario is likely as Iranian nuclear buildup continues; although 'hot pursuit' or Ansar could be scenarios under which escalation could occur, this is not likely. Certain portions of the Iran / Iraq border are not well demarcated or delineated, so a chase could accidently put bombs on Iranian soil even though never hitting an Iranian target per se.
Iran-EU nuclear talks break off: diplomats(AFP)28 November 2004
VIENNA - Iran-EU talks to rescue an agreement on an Iranian freeze of key nuclear fuel-making activities broke off on Saturday, opening the door to moves towards UN sanctions when the UN atomic agency meets Monday, diplomats told AFP.
A diplomat close to the talks said Britain, France and Germany had given Iran until late Sunday to agree to a full freeze, including 20 disputed centrifuges, or they would table a tough resolution when a meeting of the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resumes in Vienna on Monday.
The United States wants the IAEA to bring Iran before the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing economic sanctions, for what Washington says is a secret nuclear weapons program.
But Britain, France and Germany have for over a year been stressing a policy of constructive engagement to get Iran to cooperate with the IAEA.
The crisis is now at a crucial point since the European trio is losing patience with Iran, and threatening to join the US hardline, diplomats said.
We have no progress. It is up to the Iranians now to ponder what they will do, a European diplomat close to the talks told AFP. They have a very serious decision to make.
If there is not soon a verification of full suspension (of uranium enrichment by Iran), then well be in a different ballgame from then on, he added.
The suspension, freezing the enrichment fuel cycle work, was intended to show Irans good faith in order to allay suspicions about its nuclear program, a program Tehran says is merely to generate electricity for civilian purposes.
Iran and EU negotiators Britain, France and Germany had been conferring in Vienna and in their respective capitals to save the suspension agreement, struck in Paris on November 7 and confirmed officially to the IAEA last week ahead of the agencys meeting, which began Thursday and was to end Friday.
But the meeting of the 35-nation IAEA board of governors was extended until Monday after Iran said that despite the freeze it would continue research with 20 centrifuges, the machines used to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel but also what can be the raw material for atomic weapons.
The European trio categorically rejected any modification of what was supposed to be a total halt in enrichment and all related activites.
A diplomat said the Europeans were furious after Iran told them it would yield on the centrifuges if a clause were dropped from the resolution that held Iran accountable. The clause says IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei should report without delay to the board should the agency find that the suspension is not fully sustained.
Such a trade-off is blackmail, another diplomat said.
Diplomats said the IAEA board could also adjourn its proceedings without a resolution.
But a US diplomat said this would be unacceptable to the United States since it had been backing the European trios conciliation effort with the idea of settling the issue at the current board meeting.
We want this settled here and now and that was what the Europeans sold us on, the US diplomat said.
The US diplomat said the break off in the talks seems to reinforce our view that we were right to be sceptical about Iran meeting its promise to fully suspend key nuclear fuel activities.
I think the Iranians have miscalculated on how far they can push the Europeans, the US diplomat said.
Iran struck a deal with the European trio in October 2003 to suspend Iranian enrichment but bickering immediately followed over whether making centrifuges as well as other activities, or just enrichment itself, was covered and Iran continued work in centrifuges.
Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment but Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi had said in Tehran Saturday that Irans request for the centrifuges to be exempted from the agreement has never been a problem, while another official denied speculation that Iran was prepared to drop the request.
Iran 'working on secret tunnel'
From correspondents in Berlin
November 29, 2004
IRAN has been building a secret tunnel since October to continue uranium enrichment, despite a deal two weeks ago to freeze the program, Germany's Der Spiegel reported in an issue to be published tomorrow.
The weekly, citing a secret service file, said that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had personally ordered the facility built last month near the uranium enrichment site in Isfahan that is under UN observation.
The tunnel, which Der Spiegel said is out of the view of spy satellites, is intended to house a production site for large amounts of uranium UF6 gas which can be enriched in gas centrifuges - a key step in the building of a nuclear bomb.
The clandestine project is being led by a task force that answers directly to Khamenei, the report said.
The Islamic republic had agreed with Britain, France and Germany earlier this month to suspend its uranium enrichment program, in what was supposed to have been a show of good faith aimed at easing suspicions it is seeking nuclear weapons.
But just prior to a meeting that began on Thursday of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran said it wanted to continue "research and development" with 20 centrifuges, the machines used to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel but also the raw material for atomic weapons.
Tehran categorically denied the report.
"This is totally baseless - how can you make such a huge tunnel secretly and then keep it secret form the whole world?" Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi was quoted as saying to student news agency ISNA.
"how can you make such a huge tunnel secretly and then keep it secret form the whole world?"
Umm....same way they secretly made all the rest of their underground facilities?
| Secret Iranian nuke site under civilian homes
Sources: Luxury villas disguise uranium enrichment plant in Tehran
Posted: November 19, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
Iran's secret uranium enrichment site, revealed this week by an Iranian opposition group, is housed below a luxury development complex in which civilians live, military sources told WorldNetDaily.
The National Council for Resistance, a grassroots Iranian organization, said Tehran was producing enriched uranium and testing biological and chemical warfare projects at a secret plant in northeast Iran which had not been disclosed to United Nations inspectors.
"If the U.S. or Israel wanted to hit these facilities, they'd have to target actual homes," one source told WorldNetDaily.
Muhammad Mohaddessin, a senior official of the National Council, said the group had shared the new information "very recently" with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and said inspection of the site revealed by his group would demonstrate that Iran is secretly trying to produce nuclear weapons even while promising to freeze a critical part of its declared nuclear program, which it claims is intended for civilian purposes only.
U.N. inspectors "should not be fooled or deceived by the Iranian regime," Mohaddessin said.
Hossein Mousavian, Foreign Policy Committee secretary at Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said yesterday the National Council's disclosures were propaganda. "It is a well-timed lie as well. The group wants to make another fuss ahead of the IAEA board meeting on November 25," said Mousavian. "They want to poison the board's atmosphere."
The National Council, based in Paris, is the political arm of the People's Mujahedeen which is listed by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization because of its involvement in attacks on Americans in the 1970s. But the group has in the past accurately revealed the location of several secret nuclear sites in Iran, and is taken very seriously by U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies.
If the disclosure proves accurate, it may increase pressure on America and Israel to take decisive action against Iran.
Aaron Klein is WorldNetDaily's special Middle East correspondent, whose past interview subjects have included Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, Shlomo Ben Ami and leaders of the Taliban.
Iran wants quick Iraq elections
Tehran, Iran, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Iran's President Mohammad Khatami said Saturday that holding Iraqi elections quickly and forming a democratic government would restore stability and security.
He said during a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari in the Iranian capital, Tehran, that all Iraqi sects and political parties should participate in the Iraqi general elections due on Jan. 30.
According to an official statement following the meeting, Khatami called on regional countries to cooperate with the elected Iraqi government "in order to eliminate the elements of chaos."
He said the new government should be formed from "within the Iraqi people," and insisted that Iran "feels more responsible than any other country in achieving security and calm in Iraq."
DoctorZin Note: Sure they do...
Iran mullahs to buy Russian passenger planes, disregard Iranians' lifeNov 27, 2004, 12:42
Representatives from the Russian Aviastar Company and a few other Russian plane manufacturing companies will head for Iran Sunday to hold final talks over Iran's planned purchase of some Russian passenger planes, it was announced here Friday.
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During their three-day visit to Tehran, members of the Russian delegation will hold talks with Iran Air officials toward finalizingan agreement to sell some 10 Tupolev-100-204 to Iran.
The Head of the Iran Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Hassan Hajalifard, visited Russia in March to hold talks with the Russian aviation committee for the purchase of Russian-made TU-100-204 planes.
The ICAO Chief's visit followed the visit of a 13-member Russian aviation delegation to Tehran in February.
The national Iranian airline Homa, on behalf of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization, has been authorized to purchase the TU-100-204 planes.
The TU-100-204 is similar to the Boeing 757 and Airbus A-320 but its price and the expense for servicing it are less than the two mentioned planes, said a Russian aviation committee official.
Russian made airplanes have miserable aviation record, many Iranians lost their life and loved-ones to Russian plane crashes.
Iran to privatize 65% of state-owned firms
Sunday, November 28, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 28 (IranMania) - The Expediency Council (EC) in a directive on Saturday approved the offering over 65% of shares of state-owned firms to the private and cooperative sectors, the EC public relations department reported.
The decision comes on the hills of a prior ruling by the arbitrative body to delineate comprehensive policies pertaining to the Article 44 of the constitution which covers expansion of non-state sectors via privatizing state-owned and affiliated organs. "The EC said the transfer of 65 percent of shares of public companies will only include large industries, and mines."
The defense and security-related industries, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and affiliated firms are excluded from the directive. The article 44 identifies the domain of the state sector as all large industries and mines, foreign trade, banking, insurance, energy generation, dams and large irrigation networks, radio and television, post, telegraph and Telephone, airlines, shipping, railroads and others which have a public ownership and/or are state-affiliated.
The directive also underscores the importance of the government role in expanding economic infrastructure and strengthening of its monitoring and guidance capacity over the national economy, notably in oil and gas, water, electricity, railroads, telecommunication, pharmaceuticals sectors as well as regarding military and security affairs.
It however, highlights the importance of the private sector development through ceding state-owned companies. The directive also lists as priorities: raising productivity and efficiency in the economy, creating infrastructure for socio-economic development and widening of the ownership among the public based on fairness, social justice and strengthening the national economy.
In late October, The Expediency Council announced new decisions to implement the privatization drive and ceding economic affairs to the private sector. So far, the Expediency Council made public its decision to revise articles 43 and 44 of the Constitution which had called for monopoly of the state over economic affairs.
The Management and Planning Organization (MPO) has drawn up a 20-year strategy for economic, social and cultural development which is implementable only through privatization. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei forwarded the 20-year perspective to the three branches of the government to take effect from 2005 to 2025.
The Expediency Council assigned the government to adopt transparent mechanisms for ceding economic affairs to the public citing the stock exchange mechanism in order to, what the body said, `provide the public with equal opportunity`.
"Shares of the big enterprises should be ceded to the public through the stock exchange and the cooperatives enjoy preference to the private sector," the Expediency Council said. The proceeds coming from the sale of the enterprises should be deposited in the State Treasury to be channeled to the infrastructural projects, the top decision making body said.
Iranian 'Sputnik' Could Be Trojan Horse for Tehran's Ballistic Missile Program, Aviation Week & Space Technology ReportsSunday November 28, 10:30 am ET
NEW YORK, Nov. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Aviation Week & Space Technology reports in its November 29 issue that U. S. intelligence analysts are concerned about the planned launch from Iran, by early 2005, of an Iranian built satellite on an upgraded version of Tehran's largest ballistic missile, the Shahab-3.
The preparations for and launch of one or more Iranian satellite "is something that needs to be watched closely," a U. S. government missile analyst familiar with Iranian capabilities told AW&ST.
Such an "Iranian Sputnik" would elevate the stature of the Iran in the Middle East.
Tehran's satellite launch plans could also be a "Trojan Horse" to further advance ballistic missile or nuclear warhead related technologies, sources told the magazine. Some of the materials and micro-electronic technologies necessary for Iranian satellite design could also be important for the development of tiny high quality components needed to produce small nuclear weapons, AW&ST reports.
The U. S. intelligence community was taken by surprise in 1998 when a North Korean satellite launch attempt unexpectedly demonstrated a long range North Korean missile capability. U. S. intelligence officials said they do not want to be surprised again, this time by Iran.
Even if they fail initially, Iranian satellite launch attempts would help Iran develop both range and warhead improvements to the Shahab-3 missile under the cover of a civilian space program, AW&ST reports.
If the Iranians are successful with the space launch program, it will have political and technological ramifications in both the U. S. and Middle East. "It would move the Iranians from the junior varsity into the big leagues," an analyst told the magazine.
And as previous experience with North Korea shows, such a space launch demonstration can have significant impact in a weapons context. "Something like that from Iran would certainly have a similar effect in the Middle East," sources told AW&ST.
Perhaps Iran will test-launch their Shahab-4 into space early next year, while at the near same time do a test of a nuclear bomb (or had Al Qeada blow one up in the US).
The message would be clear - the Iranians would be telling the US: If you go too far, we can nuke any city. We got the missle technology to do it. And for targets outside of our missle range, we have several capable terrorist groups.
Never mind the propaganda value of launching a satellite into space. And who knows what the satellite would do? It could be a major leap ahead for Iran if it was a high-resolution imaging satellite.
Does Iran think we are idiots? So they want free and fair elections - and ASAP - in Iraq? What a joke! They should make a comic strip of all the funny things that dictators say each day. They say enough of them.
And about the Europeans breaking off negiotiations with Iran - oh, I hope so much it'll be true - and last. Let's hope this gets to the UNSC by the end of the year, and have the US Navy blockading Iran by February.
Time's running out, people! Ditch your holiday breaks this year and help save the world from destruction (again). We don't really know how much time we left. Could we weeks for all we know. Let's error on the side of caution.
Democracy is on the march! Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine - and now Iran!
Iran vows not to give up demand for exempting 20 centrifuges[Excerpt]
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Iran toughened its position over its nuclear program Sunday, vowing to maintain its demand to exempt 20 centrifuges it says it wants for research despite international efforts to save a deal committing Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment and all related activities.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also said Tehran was not worried about being referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
"The issue of research and development is separate from discussions about suspension," Asefi told reporters Sunday. "We always had research and development in the past and we will continue that in the future. We will use the 20 centrifuges for research."
Iran insists using the 20 centrifuges purely for research is not prohibited by a Nov. 7 agreement worked out with Germany, France and Britain on behalf of the European Union to suspend all uranium enrichment and related activities. The European Union disagrees.
The dispute over Iran's interpretation of the deal stalled an International Atomic Energy Agency board meeting in Vienna, Austria, which was adjourned Friday until Monday.
That was meant to give time for the Iranian government to consider and approve a total freeze of the program which can produce both low-grade nuclear fuel and weapons-grade material for the core of nuclear warheads and for delegates to decide on further steps in policing Tehran's nuclear activities.
Asefi said Iran won't give up on its position on the centrifuges, even if time was running out for a final agreement.
"We are negotiating with Europeans to specify the way we are going to use the 20 centrifuges. ... What is important is the legitimate right of our country, and we won't give (that) up," he said.
...But they said the Europeans would not budge on insisting on a full freeze that included the centrifuges.
As the board awaited a formal Iranian response, France, Germany and Britain toned down language in a proposed Security Council resolution in an attempt to entice Tehran to sign on to full suspension. The confidential draft, made available to The Associated Press, weakened language on how any freeze would be monitored by the agency. It was said by Western diplomats to be unsatisfactory to the United States.
Still, refusal by Tehran to drop demands to exempt equipment from the enrichment suspension could prompt a much harsher resolution that could include the threat of U.N. Security Council action.
"We are not worried about referral to the U.N. Security Council," Asefi said. "But we prefer that negotiations be continued within the framework of the IAEA because otherwise the capabilities of the agency and Europe will be in doubt."
Iran Withdraws Nuclear Research Demand
28 November 2004
Iran has formally withdrawn its demand to exempt some equipment from an international deal freezing its controversial uranium enrichment efforts.
The withdrawal agreement came Sunday in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
Western diplomats say the new agreement appears to have averted a showdown with the IAEA over Iran's demand to exempt about 20 nuclear centrifuges from a pact reached earlier with European governments.
Diplomats from Britain, France and Germany, who brokered the freeze, had threatened to drop opposition to possible U.N. sanctions if Iran reneged on the signed deal banning all uranium enrichment activities.
Under the original deal, Tehran was to have maintained the freeze while the IAEA investigates U.S. allegations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has repeatedly denied the charges.
DoctorZin Note: Let's read the fine print on this one.
Iran Makes Key Nuclear Concession in EU TalksSun Nov 28, 2004 11:26 AM ET
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran formally withdrew its demand to exempt sensitive research from a freeze of key parts of its nuclear program -- a last-minute bid to remove the threat of U.N. economic sanctions, Western diplomats said Sunday.
Iran's request to be permitted to operate 20 centrifuges, which enrich uranium for use as fuel in power plants or weapons, nearly wrecked an agreement it reached with the European Union to halt all work linked to making atomic fuel.
A diplomat close to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency told Reuters: "The IAEA received a letter from Iran regarding the 20 centrifuges. It seems to cover all the elements and appears to be acceptable (to the EU)."
Details of the letter were not immediately available, but a Western diplomat in Vienna said it appeared to be enough to save Iran from the double threat of a U.N. Security Council referral and economic sanctions.
It was unclear what France, Britain and Germany, the "Big Three" running the talks with Iran on behalf of the European Union, thought of Iran's concession. "The process is ongoing," a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
The United States, 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.
One Western diplomat on the IAEA board of governors said he wanted to know the exact contents of the letter before making a judgment on whether or not Iran had really backed down.
"The big question is whether Iran has agreed to give up testing of centrifuges completely," he said. "Until we know that, it's hard to say that Iran has satisfied the (EU) demands."
The Iranian delegation to the IAEA declined comment.
TALKS CONTINUE ON EU DRAFT RESOLUTION
One Western diplomat said that while the issue of the centrifuges appeared to be resolved, talks continued on the draft resolution which the Big Three hope to submit to the IAEA board of governors Monday. This resolution will make Iran's voluntary freeze a binding commitment.
"There are still some things that need to be worked out regarding the resolution," the diplomat said.
It was unclear whether the Europeans had caved in to some Iranian demands for the addition of some new language to the EU draft in exchange for Tehran's renunciation of the centrifuges.
A European diplomat said Saturday that Iran gave up the 20 centrifuges, but demanded in return that the EU cut a section from the draft resolution calling for IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to immediately report to the IAEA board if Tehran resumed any enrichment-related activity.
Another Western diplomat said Iran also wanted language in the text guaranteeing Iran's right to enrich uranium.
They said both demands were unacceptable.
The EU trio has softened the resolution twice to accommodate Iran's many demands and wants talks on the text to wrap up on Monday or they will let the matter move to the Security Council, European diplomats said.
A fundamental problem in the negotiations is that the EU wants the freeze, once implemented, to be transformed into a termination of Iran's enrichment program. In exchange, the EU will 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.
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 when the Iranians resumed production of centrifuge components.
This was quite a topic in Church this morning!
I wonder where my Pastor got the news...
Iran, EU Agree U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Resolution
Sun Nov 28, 2004 03:28 PM ET
VIENNA (Reuters) - France, Britain and Germany finalized a draft resolution on Sunday that calls on Iran to freeze sensitive nuclear work, but does not make any threats of punitive action if Tehran resumes such work, the U.N. said.
"The resolution has been submitted to the members of the board," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said. He was referring to the IAEA board of governors, which diplomats on the board say is almost certain to approve the resolution on Monday.
Diplomats familiar with the text said Washington did not like the resolution, which it believes is too weak, but would not block it when the IAEA's 35-member votes on it on Monday.
Iran Group Signs Up Suicide Volunteers
48 minutes ago
Middle East - AP
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran - The 300 men filling out forms in the offices of an Iranian aid group were offered three choices: Train for suicide attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq (news - web sites), for suicide attacks against Israelis or to assassinate British author Salman Rushdie.
It looked at first glance like a gathering on the fringes of a society divided between moderates who want better relations with the world and hard-line Muslim militants hostile toward the United States and Israel.
But the presence of two key figures a prominent Iranian lawmaker and a member of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards lent the meeting more legitimacy and was a clear indication of at least tacit support from some within Iran's government.
Since that inaugural June meeting in a room decorated with photos of Israeli soldiers' funerals, the registration forms for volunteer suicide commandos have appeared on Tehran's streets and university campuses, with no sign Iran's government is trying to stop the shadowy movement.
On Nov. 12, the day Iranians traditionally hold pro-Palestinian protests, a spokesman for the Headquarters for Commemorating Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement said the movement signed up at least 4,000 new volunteers.
Mohammad Ali Samadi, the spokesman, told The Associated Press the group had no ties to the government.
And Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters recently that the group's campaign to sign up volunteers for suicide attacks had "nothing to do with the ruling Islamic establishment."
"That some people do such a thing is the result of their sentiments. It has nothing to do with the government and the system," Asefi said.
Yet despite the government's disavowal of the group and some of its programs, there are indications the suicide attack campaign has at least some legitimacy within the government.
The first meeting was held in the offices of the Martyrs Foundation, a semiofficial organization that helps the families of those killed in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war or those killed fighting for the government on other fronts. It drew hard-line lawmaker Mahdi Kouchakzadeh and Gen. Hossein Salami of the elite Revolutionary Guards.
"This group spreads valuable ideas," Kouchakzadeh told AP.
"At a time when the U.S. is committing the crimes we see now, deprived nations have no weapon other than martyrdom. It's evident that Iran's foreign policy makers have to take the dignified opinions of this group into consideration," said Kouchakzadeh, who also is a former member of the Revolutionary Guards.
Iranian security officials did not return calls seeking comment about whether they had tried to crack down on the group's training programs or whether they believed any of Samadi's volunteers had crossed into Iraq or into Israel.
In general, Iran portrays Israel as its main nemesis and backs anti-Israeli groups like Lebanon's Hezbollah. It says it has no interest in fomenting instability in Iraq and that it tries to block any infiltration into Iraq by insurgents while pleading that its porous borders are hard to police.
In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support a 1989 fatwa against Rushdie issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But the government also said only the person who issued the edict could rescind it. Khomeini, angered at Rushdie's portrayal of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in "The Satanic Verses," died in June 1989.
Samadi described the movement as independent, with no ties to groups like al-Qaida.
Despite its very public canvassing for volunteers, the group can be secretive. Samadi agreed only reluctantly to an interview and insisted it be held in the basement of an unmarked building in central Tehran not the Martyrs Foundation offices.
Samadi refused to identify any of his volunteers or the wealthy sympathizers who he says underwrote their efforts. Asked to describe the training programs, he would say only that classes were sometimes held "in open spaces outside cities" but more often inside, away from prying eyes.
Samadi claimed 30,000 volunteers have signed up, and 20,000 of them have been chosen for training. Volunteers had already carried out suicide operations against military targets inside Israel, he said.
But he said discussing attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq "will cause problems for the country's foreign policy. It will have grave consequences for our country and our group. It's confidential."
As devoted Muslims, members of his group were simply fulfilling their religious obligations as laid out by Khomeini, he said.
In his widely published book of religious directives, Khomeini says: "If an enemy invades Muslim countries and borders, it's an obligation for all Muslims to defend through any possible means: sacrificing life and properties."
Samadi said: "With this religious verdict, we don't need anybody's permission to fight an enemy that has occupied Muslim lands."
Associated Press reporter Nasser Karimi contributed to this report.
DoctorZin Note: Here is an actual copy of the application and translation.
Yeah, I'm sure the EuroDunces were taken by surprise.
Of course, the Iranian mullahs don't know what it is to be stunned...
?Sharon: European deal won't stop Iran's nuclear plans
? ?By The Associated Press
??Iran has agreed to what Western diplomats hope is a comprehensive suspension of all activities that could yield fuel for nuclear weapons, half a year after a similar deal between Iran and the European Union collapsed.
The agreement was to be presented to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday, lifting an immediate threat of UN Security Council sanctions over U.S. accusations it is trying to develop nuclear bombs.
Iran, though oil-rich, says its atomic program is aimed solely at generating electricity.
Under the terms of the deal, Tehran pledged to suspend all activities related to plutonium reprocessing and the enrichment of uranium, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants or, when very highly enriched, in weapons.
In exchange, France, Britain and Germany have offered on behalf of the EU a package of economic and political benefits, including a promise to build a light-water nuclear reactor that is more difficult to use for weapons purposes than other types.
In a cliffhanger week of backroom haggling, Iran had asked that 20 centrifuges - which enrich uranium by spinning at supersonic speeds - be exempted from the deal it reached with the EU's "Big Three" freezing its nuclear program on Nov. 7.
Under intense international pressure, it withdrew the demand, which had threatened to wreck the entire deal.
Washington, diplomats say, will not block an EU resolution to be voted on by the IAEA board on Monday - which contains no threats of punitive action if Tehran resumes enrichment-related activities -- or the EU's offer of incentives.
But it will not actively support them either, which some observers say could eventually kill the EU-Iran deal.
"The Iranians know that to get all the incentives the EU has offered them, the U.S. has to be on board," said Jon Wolfsthal, a senior analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
A Western diplomat who follows the IAEA in Vienna agreed the EU project was doomed if Washington did not actively support it.
"Everyone knows that this thing needs the active participation of the U.S. to work," the diplomat said.
In an interview with Newsweek magazine conducted before Sunday's decision, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he doubted the EU deal would be successful.
"Iran is making every effort to possess a nuclear weapon," he was quoted as saying. "It seems that the steps taken by the IAEA and the Europeans are insufficient to stop Iran's nuclear program."
Rather than the agreement, Sharon said, "the only real solution is a major international effort to exert economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran, and to bring the issue to the UN Security Council, where sanctions can be imposed."
For years, the Israeli government has been promoting the sanctions option, but many Middle East experts believe that any ban on Iranian oil exports - the only effective economic penalty that might be used against it - is almost certain to be rejected by an oil-starved world.
Estimated at 126 billion barrels, Iran's proven oil reserves are the second largest in the world, trailing only those of Saudi Arabia.
"Oil is the center of Iran's economy," said London-based oil consultant Peter Gignoux. "Sanctions would be extremely painful for it, particularly now with high oil prices."
However, said Gignoux, the likelihood of the UN Security Council imposing oil sanctions on Iran is virtually nonexistent. Such a step would cause oil prices to climb even further, undermining world economic growth, estimated at a relatively healthy 4 percent in 2004, he said.
Another possible response to the Iranian nuclear program - destroying Iran's nuclear installations with a single air strike as Israel did in Iraq in 1981- is also seen as problematical by many Israeli and foreign experts, because the sites are scattered or hidden, and intelligence about them is weak.
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