Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 30, 2004 [EST] -- U.S. may seek lone push on Iran sanctions
Posted on 11/29/2004 11:47:31 PM PST by DoctorZIn
Top News Story
U.S. may seek lone push on Iran sanctionsMon 29 November, 2004 18:02
By Louis Charbonneau and Francois Murphy
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has escaped U.N. censure over its nuclear programme but Washington, which accuses it of seeking an atomic bomb, says it reserves the right to take the case to the Security Council on its own.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a U.N. watchdog, passed a resolution approving Iran's week-old suspension of sensitive nuclear activities as part of a deal between Tehran and the European Union.
Crucially, and in line with Iranian demands, the resolution described the freeze as a voluntary, confidence-building measure and not a legally binding commitment.
Its passage meant that Tehran, which denies it wants the bomb, had achieved its immediate goal: to prevent the IAEA from referring it to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions.
"This resolution which was approved by the IAEA was a definite defeat for our enemies who wanted to pressure Iran by sending its case to the U.N. Security Council," President Mohammad Khatami was quoted by state radio as saying.
The United States believes Iran is playing games with the international community and wants to see it referred to the Council. U.S. envoy Jackie Sanders told the IAEA's board of governors that Washington reserved the right to go it alone.
"Quite apart from the question of how this board chooses to handle these matters, of course, the United States reserves all of its options with respect to Security Council consideration of the Iranian nuclear weapons programme," she said on Monday.
"Any member, of the United Nations may bring to the attention of the Security Council any situation that might endanger the maintenance of international peace and security."
Sanders also issued a stern warning to companies, including multinationals, against exporting weapons-related equipment to Iran. The United States "will impose economic burdens on them and brand them as proliferators", she said.
The statement reflected U.S. frustration at Iran's repeated success in evading a referral to the Council, despite what IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has called persistent unanswered questions and a "confidence deficit" over Tehran's activities.
Even if Washington took the issue to the Council it could expect strong resistance to punishing Iran with sanctions, including from permanent members Russia and China which both have veto powers.
A spokesman for U.S. President George W. Bush said: "The implementation and verification of the agreement is critical."
"Iran has failed to comply with its commitments many times over the course of the past year and a half...We will see, as time goes by, if they are now finally going to comply in full."
The developments capped five days of diplomatic poker over the terms of a deal Iran struck with the EU this month to suspend all activities relating to enriching uranium. Enrichment generates fuel for use in nuclear power plants or, potentially, in weapons.
ElBaradei said Iran had now withdrawn a request to continue research on 20 enrichment centrifuges, and inspectors had installed surveillance cameras on Monday to monitor them.
"Good progress has been made (but there's), still a lot of work to be done. The ball is in Iran's court," he said.
Iran says it has a "sovereign right" to enrich uranium and is only suspending such work to show its peaceful intentions.
BRITISH EMBASSY STONED
In Tehran, some 500 members of a conservative volunteer militia pelted the British embassy with stones and firecrackers on Monday, protesting that the Iran-EU deal was a sell-out.
The mainly black-bearded men burned a British flag and tried to charge the embassy gates but were pushed back by riot police. "Nuclear energy is our right," the protesters shouted.
At the IAEA in Vienna, there were signs of mounting exasperation from Western diplomats over Iranian tactics.
Several told Reuters that Iran had only firmly committed not to test the centrifuges until December 15, when the EU and Iran meet to discuss a long-term nuclear deal.
Those talks will focus on trade cooperation and peaceful nuclear technology that the Europeans are willing to offer Tehran if it gives up uranium enrichment for good.
Washington, diplomats say, will not block such a deal but it will not actively support it either -- a stance that some experts believe will eventually kill the agreement. A previous EU-Iran deal collapsed earlier this year.
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Iran Nuclear Program: Analysts Argue Nature of Regime Poses Higher Risk
Listen to Ed Warner's report MP3
29 November 2004
Ed Warner's report RA
Listen to Ed Warner's report RA
The regime of the mullahs in Iran is ready to fall, says Assad Homayoun. Let's give it a timely push.
An Iranian opposition leader in the United States whose sources inside Iran may be second to none, Mr. Homayoun has little patience with efforts to conciliate or compromise with the government in Tehran.
Westerners, he insists, are misled by the religiously inclined but ineffectual reformists associated with President Khatami. The Iranian future does not lie with them, he says, but with the growing coalition of secular nationalist forces that favor democracy.
"I believe that the solution is in the hands of the Iranian people, but the Iranian people need support," says Mr. Homayoun. "The United States should come enthusiastically, vigorously, openly in support of the Iranian people. President Bush supported Iranians before, but different voices from different branches of the administration confused the Iranian people."
Mr. Homayoun writes in the CIPA journal: "What the secular force needs is legitimization through recognition - not financial or covert assistance but rather the unconditional moral and political support of the world democratic community."
Mr. Homayoun traces the spread of Islamic militant fundamentalism to the regime in Iran. Remove that, he says, and you may stop the spread of terrorism as well.
"Nothing will be peaceful in the Middle East," says Mr. Homayoun, "unless the government of Iran changes its position, but change of position means change of government from theocracy to secular democratic government."
Mr. Homayoun says Tehran seeks nuclear weapons not so much to threaten other nations as
to shore up internal support for its own shaky government. In fact, citing the work of Washington strategic analyst Yossef Bodansky, he believes Iran already has acquired nuclear warheads from the Muslim areas of the former Soviet Union and possibly from North Korea.
Iran's nuclear plant
So the military option is out. An attack on Iran would have unfathomable consequences, he says, and besides, change must come from within untainted by material help from abroad. He writes in WorldTribune.com that if attacked, "Iran is advanced in various fields of WMD, and those weapons could fall into the hands of radicals and terrorist groups and create problems much more extensive than those today in Iraq."
Leon Hadar, a foreign policy analyst at Washington's CATO Institute, says focusing too much on Iran's nuclear potential blurs a larger picture.
"It is clear that Iran like many other mid-sized powers in the world - Turkey, Brazil, and the list can be quite long - those countries at some point in the future because of many factors, including national security considerations, are going to gain access to nuclear weapons," says Mr. Hadar. "This has nothing to do with the power of Islamic radicalism in Iran."
Mr. Hadar notes that Iran is in a rough neighborhood of nuclear armed powers: India, Pakistan, Russia, Israel and now the United States in Iraq. And nuclear weapons may not be altogether bad. It is possible, he says, they may have prevented India and Pakistan from going to all-out war over Kashmir. The cost would have been too great. He adds that a nuclear balance of power may be equally stabilizing in the Middle East.
Weapons aside, Mr. Hadar says now may be the time for the United States to start talking to Iran. In an article in The American Conservative magazine, he recalls President Nixon's approach to Communist China's rulers just when they were harshly repressing their own people during the so-called Cultural Revolution.
The President, writes Mr. Hadar, was conducting realistic diplomacy in the national interest while ignoring China's internal turmoil.
"Despite all of that, the United States was able to reach an agreement with the Chinese government at that time and started a process of détente with the Chinese, which led to the American opening to China and eventually to the reestablishment of a diplomatic relationship," says Mr. Hadar. "There is no reason why we should not at least try that kind of strategy with Iran today."
Mr. Hadar says the conservatives now running Iran may be better positioned than moderates
to reach some kind of understanding with the United States. They cannot be accused of being soft on America.
Members of Iran's government
Leon Hadar cites the recommendation of former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert Gates that the United States and Iran avoid any grand bargain and work incrementally on key issues like nuclear weapons. Specifics, they say, are the way to go.
Canada warns will push IAEA to report violations of Iran nuclear deal
OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada, the 2004-5 chair of UN atomic energy agency's Board of Governors, warned it would press the body to inform the Security Council of any violation of a deal to freeze Iran's uranium program.
The Canadian position, laid out in a statement by Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew, mirrored the US stance on the agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"This is a final opportunity for Iran to begin the process of restoring international confidence in its nuclear program," said Pettigrew.
"To do so, Iran must cease all uranium-enrichment and other proliferation-sensitive activities and sustain this suspension in a comprehensive and transparent manner.
"If it does not do so, Canada will urge the IAEA to take immediate action and to report Iran's non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council."
Pettigrew also used the statement to offer guarded support for the compromise between Iran and the IAEA, based on a deal between Tehran and France, Britain and Germany reached on November 14.
He said it was a " first step toward a potential permanent solution."
Pettigrew has been locked in a war of words with Iran on another issue -- the death of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi after she was arrested in Iran last year -- which sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
The IAEA earlier Monday adopted a toned-down resolution on Iran's nuclear program after Tehran agreed to a total freeze on all uranium enrichment activities.
The resolution was a painstaking compromise between hardline US demands to crack down on what Washington says is a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program and Tehran's threats to stop cooperating.
Iran and the European trio are to begin talks in December on a package of rewards to Iran for suspending uranium enrichment, the key process using centrifuges to make fuel for nuclear reactors -- or the explosive core of atomic bombs.
Iran claims its nuclear program is a peaceful, civilian effort and rejects Washington's claims.
US says has right to report Iran nuke case to UN29 Nov 2004 16:16:18 GMTSource: Reuters
(Adds quotes, details)
VIENNA, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it had the right to unilaterally report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose economic sanctions, for what it sees as Iran's atom bomb plans.
For over a year, Washington has been pushing the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report Tehran to the Security Council, which it says is the forum to discuss all pressing international security issues.
However, the IAEA board of governors decided on Monday not to refer Iran to the Council. It did not even threaten to do so if Tehran fails once more to maintain a full suspension of those parts of its nuclear programme that could be used to make atomic weapons, as it has promised to do.
"Quite apart from the question of how this board chooses to handle these matters ... the United States reserves all of its options with respect to Security Council consideration of the Iranian nuclear weapons programe," said the head of the U.S. delegation to the IAEA, Jackie Sanders.
In the written text of a speech to a closed-door session of the IAEA board, Sanders said that under the U.N. charter any member of the U.N. could bring to the Security Council any situation that endangers "international peace and security".
Iran denies wanting or pursuing nuclear weapons.
Sanders said the United States had been trying hard to stop the transfer of technologies to Iran that could be used in nuclear and other types of banned weapons.
"Despite these efforts, some companies, which we brand as serial proliferators, continue to sell materials that could advance Iran's WMD and missile programmes," she said.
"We want any proliferators, from multinational conglomerates to small exporters of dual-use machine tools, to understand that the U.S. will impose economic burdens on them, and brand them as proliferators," Sanders said.
Iran will 'never' give up nuclear bomb drive: Israeli FM
THE HAGUE (AFP) Nov 29, 2004
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Monday that the European Union should not be hoodwinked by Iran, which he claimed would "never" abandon a drive to build nuclear weapons.
Shalom said after meeting the EU's Dutch presidency here that Israel welcomed a deal brokered by major European Union powers Britain, France and Germany under which Iran has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities.
"But I told them we are very sceptical because we know what the real intentions of the Iranians are, we know that they will never abandon their dream to have a nuclear bomb," he said after meeting Dutch counterpart Ben Bot.
Asked if Israel would countenance military strikes to stop Iran building the bomb, Shalom said: "Israel will do everything it can in a diplomatic way to stop the Iranians from having this nuclear bomb."
Any further steps against Iran would be up to the UN Security Council to decide, which Israel would back, the minister said.
The UN's Vienna-based nuclear watchdog approved Monday a resolution drafted by the EU endorsing Iran's total freeze of all uranium enrichment, following Tehran's agreement to include 20 disputed centrifuges in the suspension.
The agreement under intense international pressure on Iran avoided the Islamic republic being taken to the Security Council for possible sanctions, as the United States had wanted.
Shalom added that not only the Jewish state was threatened by Iran.
The EU had "realized only recently that the Iranians are developing a new missile that will include in its range Paris, Berlin, London, the south of a part of Russia", he said.
"So it's not the problem of Israel any more. I think that to give this regime, this tyranny, the ability to hold a nuclear bomb -- it's a nightmare, it's a nightmare not only for Israel, it's a nightmare for the entire world."
Conference on pro-Islamic regime lobbies in the US held in Los AngelesSMCCDI (Information service)
Nov 29, 2004
The Movement organized, yesterday, a meeting focused on pro-Islamic regime lobbies and those promoting the establishment of 'dialogue' between the unpopular and illegitimate Islamic republic regime and the US Administration.
Representatives of several opposition groups and media, such as, the "League of Iranian Women", "Marzeporgohar Organization", "Constitutionalists", "Secularist Republicans", "National Front of Resistance" along with officials of "Radio Voice of Iran" (KRSI), "X-TV" and "Pars TV" attended this meeting held in Los Angeles.
Lectures were made on the ways that individuals, such as, Hooshang Amir Ahmadi, Titra Parsi, Akbar Ghahry, Faraj Ala-i and his wife Susan Akbarpoor who's also known as Zahra Mashadi and Hassan Nemazee have created groups that are being used by them to obtain credentials in order to push forward in their illegitimate agenda to buy time for the falling theocracy.
The meeting will be broadcasted from Monday by several Iranian Satellite TV networks, such as X-TV, in order to familiarize the Iranians with these lobby groups and to help forming a watchdog especially in the US.
DoctorZin Note: You should be able to view this broadcast on one of the streaming video feeds such as XTV.
White House calls deal on Iran nukes 'a start'
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The White House yesterday issued tepid praise for a watered-down agreement by Iran to suspend its nuclear programs, but reserved the right to take a harder line against Tehran if it reneges on the deal.
"It's a start," said a senior administration official. "But we've seen these agreements before and, unfortunately, Iran hasn't always lived up to them."
Although the agreement spared Iran from being referred to the United Nations Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for economic sanctions, the United States said it might issue such a referral unilaterally.
"I don't think we take things off the table," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "We always reserve the right, as a member of the Security Council, to take that matter to the Security Council."
The administration had sought a legally binding agreement by Iran to stop all programs that could lead to the development of nuclear weapons. But Iran insisted its freeze is merely a voluntary step aimed at building confidence in the international community.
So the IAEA described the move similarly in a resolution the watchdog group passed yesterday that approved the freeze as part of a deal between Iran and three members of the European Union France, Germany and Britain. Iranian President Mohammed Khatami trumpeted the resolution while taking a veiled swipe at the United States.
"This resolution which was approved by the IAEA was a definite defeat for our enemies who wanted to pressure Iran by sending its case to the U.N. Security Council," he was quoted as saying by Iran's state-run radio.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher expressed disappointment that the IAEA stopped short of referring Iran to the Security Council.
"While we might have preferred a different outcome, while we might have preferred referral, we went along with the resolution," he said. "We expressed our reservations about today's decisions, but we now look to the International Atomic Energy Agency to continue its investigation into Iran's safeguards."
One reason the administration went along with the watered-down version of the agreement was a firm belief that Iran eventually will renege.
"The United States remains as skeptical as ever that Iran will, in fact, live up to the terms of this agreement," Mr. Boucher said. "If they do violate it in the pure skeptic's view, when they violate it it will be reported, and that'll be the basis for further action."
He added that by taking on the role of "bad cop" to counterbalance Europe's "good cop," the United States has "had some influence. We've seen the international community toughen its stance."
In Tehran, the agreement was protested yesterday by hundreds of militia members, who hurled rocks and fireworks at the British Embassy. Insisting Iran's nuclear ambitions were peaceful, the protesters chanted: "Nuclear energy is our right."
Israel: EU should not be fooled by Iran
'They will never abandon their dream to have a nuclear bomb'
Posted: November 30, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
The European Union should not be fooled by Iran, which will "never" abandon its bid to make nuclear weapons, warned Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom yesterday.
Shalom told the EU's Dutch presidency in a meeting at The Hague that while Israel welcomed a deal brokered earlier this month by Britain, France and Germany under which Iran claims it will suspend uranium-enrichment activities, Iran must still be closely watched and cannot be fully trusted.
"I told them we are very skeptical because we know what the real intentions of the Iranians are, we know that they will never abandon their dream to have a nuclear bomb," Shalom said.
Asked whether Israel would attack Iran if they try to go nuclear, Shalom said, "Israel will do everything it can in a diplomatic way to stop the Iranians from having this nuclear bomb."
Any further steps against Iran would need to be coordinated through the U.N. Security Council, which Israel would back, Shalom said.
The U.N.'s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog yesterday approved a resolution drafted by the EU endorsing Iran's "total freeze of all uranium enrichment," following Tehran's agreement to include 20 disputed centrifuges in the suspension clause.
Just after the original EU deal with Iran was brokered, the National Council for Resistance, a grass-roots Iranian organization that has in the past accurately revealed the location of several of Iran's nuclear projects, said Tehran was producing enriched uranium and testing biological and chemical warfare projects at a secret plant in northeast Iran that had not been disclosed to United Nations inspectors.
Military sources told WorldNetDaily the nuclear plant is hidden many feet below a development of luxury villas in the Iranian suburb of Nour in the Lavizan district of northeast Tehran. They say families of Iranian diplomats and top employees of Iran's Modern Defensive Readiness and Technology Center live in the villas, which contain entrances to a subterranean nuclear facility used to produce weapons-grade uranium and test chemical and biological warfare agents.
Shalom stressed Iran is a threat to the world, not only to Israel.
The EU had "realized only recently that the Iranians are developing a new missile that will include in its range Paris, Berlin, London, the south of a part of Russia," he said.
"So it's not the problem of Israel anymore. I think that to give this regime, this tyranny, the ability to hold a nuclear bomb it's a nightmare, it's a nightmare not only for Israel, it's a nightmare for the entire world."
China hopes to solve Iran's nuclear issue properlyPeople's Daily - Report Section
Nov 30, 2004
China believes continued patience and joint efforts can help properly resolve Iran's nuclear issue within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at an early date, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday.
"China has always advocated that Iran's nuclear issue should be resolved through consultations and dialogues within the framework of the IAEA," said Zhang Yan, permanent representative of China to the UN and other international organizations in Vienna, at the IAEA's Board of Governors meeting.
The settlement of Iran's nuclear issue will contribute to strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, safeguarding and reinforcing the IAEA's role and credibility in the areas of international nuclear non-proliferation, Zhang said.
Besides, he said, the settlement will also contribute to assuring the rights of all countries, including Iran, in the areas of peaceful use of nuclear energy under strict safeguards.
Zhang said that China is prepared to work with all parties concerned and play a constructive role in realizing the goals.
The agreement reached between Iran and the three European Union countries of Britain, France and Germany early this month, and the resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors a while ago, has laid a good foundation for solving Iran's nuclear issue, he added.
The (Sort Of) Conclusion to the Elephant in the Roomby Dan Darling on November 30, 2004 08:07 AM
I apologize for my prolongued absence, as I have been removed from Internet access for pretty much the entirety of Thanksgiving break. Unfortunately, I come back to the most wonderful time in any college student's existence - term papers and finals! But I do want to address a number of points that were brought up during my absence and try to wrap things up with respect to where we stand on Iran. I apologize for rather shortened form that this analysis is going to be and hope to go back and expand on it in the future.
read the rest! »
Iran vs. Pakistan: Why I don't think the example holds up
Basically here's (in brief form) what I intended to say:
- Both Iran and Pakistan are both unique problems and should not be conflated (I think one of the reasons that they so often are is not because certain quarters are more hawkish towards Pakistan than they are Iran but rather because they wish to put an end to any change in the status quo with respect to US-Iranian relations), but I tend to view Pakistan as being pretty much a sub-set of the problem of Saudi Arabia (as do Perle and Frum, at least from my own reading of An End To Evil). You eliminate the Saudi funding, and our issues with Pakistan can be over in a generation or two. Winds of Change did a pretty good break-down of the internal Pakistani situation and I think that even the most stringent Pakistan hawk will have to admit that because of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-faceted Pakistani political system we have options with respect to Pakistan that simply do not exist with respect to Iran.
- After the most recent Iranian elections (and I am given to understand that the actual turnout was far lower than the official regime figure of 51%), I don't think that you can make a compelling argument that the bad guys aren't in control there. But there is no Pakistani equivalent to something like the Abadgaran movement - the closest that comes to mind is the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) which, as Patrick Belton noted in his primer on the group:
Despite concerns, the MMA have been unable as yet to alter Islamabads foreign or economic policies.
That's kind of a key point in determining where a totalitarian movement (which I think the MMA unquestionably qualifies as) fits on the threat level. If you want to argue that the MMA and its allies in the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment and al-Qaeda's Pakistani satellites are a threat, I'm more than happy to agree with you. The US government, I think, recognizes this a lot more than people are willing to credit it, given such events as Mufti Shamzai's untimely departure from the gene pool less than a year ago. The issue is who is the greater threat here, and I think Iran fits that bill hands down.
- Recent events in Waziristan notwithstanding, the Pakistani government is more or less the US's fair weather ally in the war against al-Qaeda. Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers (mostly Punjabis and the like, the Pashtuns are almost always released or allowed to go free by the IMU jihadis and their tribal allies) have died fighting al-Qaeda in Waziristan at great political cost to the Musharraf regime, which I think has at least begun to recognize that the likes of Tahir Yuldashev, late Amjad Farooqi, et al. are now actively seeking to subvert the Pakistani state, even they're still trying to distinguish between "good" jihadis who kill Indians in Kashmir and "bad" jihadis who move against the military. That is far from an ideal situation, but it is sure as hell a lot better than Iran, and here's a conundrum for all those who still cling to the belief that Iran is just as dedicated as the United States to fighting al-Qaeda: Iran, by its own claims and those of European diplomats (since we all know how icky neocons are), has had bin Laden's family and most of the surviving leadership "in custody" for quite some time now, yet not one piece of intelligence passed on from Iran to its erstwhile European allies has resulted in a thwarted al-Qaeda terrorist attack against European interests. Believe me, if there were any intelligence to this effect the EU would be holding it up like the Ten Commandments come down from Mount Sinai as a sign of the mullahs' good will in the war on terrorism. There isn't, however, which is part of the problem.
- AQ Khan's nuclear proliferation efforts are likely to be the bane of the next decade or so (and I think the IAEA's utter failure to detect said activities throw the purpose of the organization into serious question), but I find it very hard to imagine that what he was doing was pursuing Pakistani policy given that his activities seem to span through any number of civilian and military governments. As appears to be so often the case in Pakistan, AQ Khan's activities were basically something that all of the people in "the know" turned a blind eye to and that the rest of the government was ignorant of.
- Near as I can tell, hostility towards the US is not something that the current Pakistani regime purports to derive domestic legitimacy from (India is another matter altogether), given just how far they've bent over backwards to please us. Iran, to the degree that the regime does possess any kind of domestic legitimacy, derives it from its hostility to the US, at least among the people who matter towards the maintenance of the regime. To put it in purely cynical terms, Iran is by far more likely to lob a nuke our way (or Israel's) than is Pakistan. Moreover, the apparent decision by the IRGC to actively harbor the surviving al-Qaeda leadership and allow the network's ruling council to reconstitute from their soil poses an unacceptable threat to US national security for the immediate future. Anyone who considers the status quo with respect to Iran acceptable is more or less endorsing a more PR-savvy version of the Taliban with nukes, period.
- Ultimately, the US has more options with respect to Pakistan than it does with respect to Iran because Pakistan is basically a feudal state in which there is entirely too much Great Gaming going on with too little of it being controlled or directed by any kind of central apparatus or command and control that I can discern. That opens up substantially different options with respect to Pakistan then we have when it comes to Iran, where the bad guys are (and always have been) in control. Regarding Rafsanjani as the voice of reason in the Iranian hierarchy would be like expecting Hamid Gul to serve the same role with regard to Pakistan. Anybody ready to trust either man with nukes? If not, who is more likely to be in control of them in the next year or two?
Contra Kenneth Pollack (among others)
This is an extremely rough summary of Pollack's views with respect to Iran and why I don't think that the solutions he proposes hold up under scrutiny. In large part, this seems to be mainly an epistemological difference between the two of us with respect to a number of issues, such as the role of Iran in the Iraqi insurgency as well as the activities of senior al-Qaeda figures who are known to currently reside inside Iran as I type this up. And for those who charge that such things are merely the product of neoconservative spin-doctoring, the former is supported by a vast body of evidence including the reporting of Seymour Hersh and an affirmation of the latter can be found in Richard Clarke's book - anybody want to characterize these two as neocons?
- Pollack is quite correct that if left to their own devices, the mullahs will get ahold of the bomb before their own population can muster up the necessary will and desire to overthrow them. Instead of planning for this eventuality, however, I think that it might be best to consider everything we can do to prevent that eventuality rather than simply succumbing to the inevitable and waiting for the next "Islamic bomb."
- With respect to the idea of offering Iran a Libya-style "grand bargain," I don't think that the regime can possibly afford to accept such a bargain for the reasons of domestic legitimacy that I outlined above with respect to the nature of the regime. More to the point, Libya accepted the Anglo-American "grand bargain" from a position of relative weakness after over a decade of sanctions (and yes, I do think that the image of Saddam Hussein in chains made the good colonel consider his own possible fate), whereas the mullahs in Iran now perceive themselves to be in a position of relative strength, both domestically and internationally. Moreover, my own belief is that the Iranian clerical and military-intelligence hierarchy decided damn well which side it was on in this war the day they sent their special envoy to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in October 2001. The rise of the Abadgaran movement in particular appears to support this belief, as the Young Turks in the Iranian Majlis are even more radical than their predecessors and still hold to the Khomeinist dream of driving the US out of the Middle East.
- I think that Michael Ledeen pretty well laid out the European position with respect to Iran. They're still trying to more or less appease Iran, worried but not too terribly concerned about the prospect of a nuclear Iran. The sad fact is that most European nations don't have the force projection power to militarily stop Iran from going nuclear even if they wanted to and that most of the fears of the smarter heads in the European intelligence community are easily brushed aside by their leaders in return for a chance to establish current and future economic ties with the Islamic Republic. If Europe implemented real sanctions with teeth in them, they could easily force an end to the issue of the Iranian nuclear program in short order, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be in the cards just yet. After all, the Europeans don't see themselves as the Iranians' intended targets in the event of a nuclear exchange ...
- The belief that Iran has assisted or sought to assist the West with respect to al-Qaeda does not, in my view, stand up under any kind of close or prolonged scrutiny. Let's just ignore everything they've done over the past several years, can anyone favoring this perspective explain to me why it is that 9/11 and 3/11 planner Mustafa Setmariam Nasar is currently living under the protection of the Qods Force of the IRGC - according to French intelligence of all things?
- Citing the Americans refusing to turn the MEK over to the mullahs as sufficient rationale for the Iranians to harbor al-Qaeda is bizarre argument, in my view, especially given that Qods Force was protecting al-Qaeda long before the US ever set foot in Iraq. But might I also point out that the French have arrested the majority of the MEK's Paris-based politburo and sought to strike similar deals with the mullahs, yet Saif al-Adel, Saad bin Laden, and Mustafa Setmariam Nasar have not been forthcoming. You can make all the grand offers to the mullahs you want, but you still need them to return your call.
- Claims that US and Iranian interests inside Iraq are one and the same border on delusional given Iranian backing of Muqtada Sadr. Iraqi elections are going to give the Shi'ites a majority in the new Iraqi parliament, of that I think everyone is more or less in agreement. But I very much doubt that all the pundits talking quite accurately about how much the Iranians want Shi'ite dominance in Iraq have taken much time to think of just how much an independent Shi'ite society inside Iraq would pose in terms of a threat to the very underpinnings of the Iranian regime. Or to put it another way, everyone agrees that the Shi'ites are going to win a majority in the new Iraqi parliament, the issue is simply whether that parliament is going to be run from Baghdad or from Tehran (or Qom, if one prefers).
- A lot of Pollack's assumptions seem to predicate on the assumption that Iran isn't trying to stir up trouble in Iraq or allied with al-Qaeda, which is why I say that there's an epistemological difference between him and I. If Iran isn't doing either (and here again I'll cite Hersh and Clarke to support these assertions, let alone what other people tell me) then obviously the situation changes a great deal and a lot of Pollack's claims and recommendations become far more reasonable. Unfortunately, if even one of those two scenarios is occurring (and I think the evidence is extremely convincing on both counts), then obviously his recommendations need to be revised accordingly. I don't think that this is all that much of an unreasonable view to take.
- Long-term economic plans by the Iranian leadership doesn't mean that the regime isn't going to engage in foolish or suicidal behavior, but rather that the leadership is sufficiently ambitious or deluded to believe that they can win.
What I Think Should Be Done
Keep in mind I'm working off my own epistemology here, not Pollack's. Keep in mind that a lot of this is being written hastily and I will try to expound much more on this as time goes on.
- Pass the Iran Freedom Support Act.
- The entirety of US (as well as Iraqi) strategy with respect to Iran must be predicated around the notion that Iran is backing the insurgents, including Sunnis like Zarqawi. We need to also begin making contingency plans to deal with how to respond to an Iranian escalation of the Iraqi insurgency, including retaliatory strikes in Iranian Kordestan and other known insurgent hubs inside Iran if necessary.
- The sponsorship of anti-Iranian regime (as opposed to anti-Shi'ite) as well as anti-Khomeinist and anti-Sadrist propaganda in southern Iraq and the strengthening of the An Najaf school of Shi'ism as a counter-balance to Qom as quickly as possible. Shi'ite sermons sponsoring anti-Khomeinist interpretations of Shi'ism and the like should be translated into Farsi and broadcast into Iran.
- Unofficial sponsorship and patronage of non-Marxist (i.e. not the MEK) Iranian dissident organizations, student groups, and exile organizations should be accelerated. Should some form of non-MEK armed or popular resistance break out against the Iranian regime (and there are already tentative signs in which this has occurred), the US must be prepared to support it both diplomatically and covertly if necessary. Comparisons to the CIA's role with the Shah here are I think unwarranted, as in this case I think a far better model would be covert US backing to Georgian dissident groups.
- A military invasion of Iran must remain a final option, but if the US is attacked by al-Qaeda in the next several years it will unfortunately be the only one we have left. I hope to God that it doesn't come to that, but if they hit us first then we won't have any other option save a military retaliation.
- Claims that undertaking one or all of these actions would only serve to further provoke the mullahs are ultimately unpersuasive, given the scope and nature of their activities to date. We may not view this as being a war, but they do, abeit in a somewhat limited capacity. Granting that the people who matter in the Iranian hierarchy regard themselves as being at war with us, the question is not whether or not responding to their actions will further provoke them but rather whether we want to fight (in a cold or hot manner) on their terms and at a place and time of their choosing or on ours. I choose ours.
« ok, I'm done now
Hojatoleslam Hassan Khomeini is the grandson that supports Castro http://www.cubanet.org/CNews/y01/jul01/24e5.htm
and he should not be mixed up with the grandson Seyyed Hossein Khomeini that is critical of the present system in Iran http://www.iht.com/articles/105388.html
Thanks for the post.
Iran bars reformist journalist from leaving country(AFP)
30 November 2004
TEHERAN A dissident Iranian journalist has been barred from leaving the Islamic republic after trying to fly to the Netherlands for a conference, the student news agency Isna reported yesterday.
I was told at the airport that I am banned from leaving the country by a Revolutionary Court order, Isa Saharkhiz, a former culture ministry official and editor of the banned pro-reform monthly Aftab, was quoted as saying. The Islamic republics hardline judiciary has recently renewed its crackdown on reformist journalists, with the operation extending to contributors to Internet sites.
Meanwhile, Canada hit straight back after Iran warned its new ambassador to Teheran would get into trouble if he pursued the case of a murdered Iranian-Canadian photographer, which has already sparked a diplomatic crisis. The killing of Zahra Kazemi last year, after she was arrested in Iran, sent relations between Ottawa and Teheran into turmoil. But amid signs the tension was easing, Canada last week named a new envoy to Iran, to replace one recalled during the crisis, in a move which now seems only to have reignited tensions. Iran on Sunday warned the new ambassador Gordon Venner not to raise the Kazemi case.
Iran's suspension will never be indefinite: official
www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-30 16:16:20
TEHRAN, Nov. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- A top Iranian nuclear official said here Tuesday that Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment activities was only a temporary move and would never be indefinite.
Sirus Naseri, Iran's delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency and adviser to the Iranian parliament in atomic issues, speaks during a news conference after the IAEA board of Governors meeting in Vienna, November 29, 2004.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
"The Islamic republic has not renounced its nuclear fuel cycle and it will use it," Hassan Rowhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, toldreporters.
"The suspension will only last as long as the related negotiations go on. It should be for months but not for years," Rowhani said, adding that both a UN resolution and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the suspension was not obligatory and legal.
Rowhani said Iran had obtained a great success in recent nuclearnegotiations, stressing that the United States had been frustrated on its attempt to refer Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council.
Rowhani further noted that Iran's nuclear dossier should be closed.
"The resolution of the IAEA explicitly confirms that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, so the country's nuclear case should no longer remain a top issue of the agency," Rowhani said.
The UN nuclear watchdog on Monday adopted a resolution presented by the European trio of France, Germany and Britain, in which the agency decided not to refer Iran's case to the UN Security Council.
The resolution, under Iran's strong request, defined the country's suspension of uranium enrichment activities as a "voluntary move" and a "non-legally-binding measure".
Iran termed the new resolution as "appropriate" but "not meetingall Iranian demands".
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Mondaythat Iran would never give in on its rights to peaceful nuclear technology.
The United States has accused Iran of developing nuclear weaponssecretly, a charge denied by Tehran which insisted on the peaceful nature of its nuclear plan.
First Published 2004-11-30, Last Updated 2004-11-30 14:16:48
We are good listeners
Iran boasts 'great victory' over USTehran warns nuclear freeze is temporary, European trio to reward Iran.
By Siavosh Ghazi TEHRAN
Iran boasted Tuesday it had humiliated the United States at a board meeting of the UN atomic watchdog by agreeing to what it reiterated was only a temporary freeze of its suspect nuclear programme.
"The Islamic republic has not renounced the nuclear fuel cycle, will never renounce it and will use it," top national security official and nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani told a news conference.
"We have proved that, in an international institution, we are capable of isolating the United States. And that is a great victory," he added.
On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spared Iran the fate of being referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions after Tehran agreed in a deal with Britain, France and Germany to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran. It had been pressuring the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors to send the case straight to New York.
Rowhani, who smiled and joked with reporters during a nearly two-hour-long press conference, claimed that the US envoy to the IAEA "was enraged and in tears, and everybody said that the Americans had failed and we had won".
He also asserted that Iran had only agreed to the suspension for the duration of negotiations with the European trio that should yield lucrative incentives for the Islamic republic.
Iran and the European trio are to begin talks in December on a package of rewards to Iran for suspending enrichment, the key process using centrifuges to make fuel for nuclear reactors -- or the explosive core of atomic bombs.
"The suspension will only last as long as the negotiations. It should be a question of months and not years. We should not feel during the negotiations that they are trying to gain time," he said.
Europe is ready to negotiate on trade, transfers of peaceful nuclear technology and help on security issues. But the talks will also be aimed at producing "objective guarantees" that Iran will not divert its nuclear programme towards making an atomic bomb.
Both sides admit this will be a tough task in the light of Iran's determination to produce its own nuclear fuel.
Enrichment remains at the heart of the stand-off at the IAEA.
Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to low levels, so as to produce fuel for a series of atomic power stations designed to free up its huge oil and gas resources for export. And it zealously guards its "right" under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to have a peaceful nuclear programme, including the full fuel cycle.
But there are fears that Iran's fuel cycle drive belies an effort to acquire the "strategic option" to build a bomb if circumstances dictate it. The United States insists the country already has a covert weapons plan.
"The negotiations with the Europeans will be complicated. There will be highs and lows. But we will go into the talks with a sincere wish to succeed, and we hope the Europeans will be the same," said Rowhani, a mid-ranking cleric and secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
The IAEA is continuing to investigate Iran. Its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, has said that while no diversion of nuclear materials for weapons purposes has been detected, he could not rule out the possibility of covert activity.
The IAEA adoption of the resolution ended an intense week of back-door talks to save the overall agreement between Iran and the Europeans.
Under the compromise, Iran dropped its demand that 20 centrifuges -- the machine that spin at supersonic speeds to enrich uranium gas -- be exempted from the deal for research purposes.
In return, the IAEA board passed what Iran has hailed as the most conciliatory resolution since the stand-off began in early 2003.
In the wake of the toned-down resolution, the White House called on the international community to "remain vigilant" and has not ruled out making a unilateral Security Council referral.
The Gathering Winds of Change in IranNovember 30, 2004
Iran va Jahan
The Islamic Republic has been in a political coma for quite some time. Now this coma has become irreversible. The political system that came to power with a bang is whimpering towards the twilight. Many combinations needed to effectuate the disintegration of the clerical dictatorship are rapidly falling into place and setting the stage for the enforcement of the kind of people's power the world witnessed in Georgia in 2003 and currently in Ukraine.
Hopeful signs have created a sense of urgency amongst opposition groups, and those preparing to present Iranians with a viable political option in the post-mortem of the Islamic Republic. The listlessness and despair of the past few years, or even few months, has given way to a heightened sense of readiness and vitality. The end of last week witnessed a significant move by prominent Iranian dissidents and human rights activists. They called for the organization of a nationwide referendum to convene a constituent assembly and draft a new constitution(http://www.60000000.com).
Underlining the impossibility of reforming the present political system, the signatories to this appeal champion the principle of democratic governance based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They argue that a truly democratic constitution will interalia be able to foster a badly needed trust environment with the international community. For the first time, this move has brought together leading Iranian figures of various political persuasions, as well as Iranian citizens from all walks of life. The number of people joining this national movement from within Iran and outside is absolutely unprecedented.
The creativity and vibrancy of the opposition at the moment stands in sharp contrast with the low morale and ineptitude of the Islamic regime whose each and every vital organ is quickly disintegrating. It has fallen apart politically, economically, socially, ideologically and morally. The country is infected by poverty, crime, drug addiction, prostitution and human rights abuse in the hands of rulers who have based their raison d'être and legitimacy on the claim that they are the best spiritual healers the world over. In the huge gulf between the ethical high ground from which the regime has talked down to the people, and the dire reality faced everyday by ordinary Iranians, lies the ship of the Islamic state, wrecked and unsalvageable.
The discrepancy between rhetoric and reality has become evident even to the diehard band of fanatics and anti-western fundamentalists who form the backbone of the regime. They feel humiliated on account of what many of them consider to be a giving-in to the Europeans on the nuclear issue. Their disillusion was echoed last week by Ali Larijani, member of the Supreme Security Council of the Islamic Republic who referring to nuclear agreement in Paris said: "In that agreement we gave rare pearl and received a bon-bon instead". For a regime that thrives on political bravado and was particularly using the issue of reaching nuclear capability to boost its internal prestige, that is quite a hard blow. This, and many similar disillusionments will make it much more difficult for the theocratic dictatorship to count on the support of its spiritless followers when people pour into the streets to call for fundamental political change.
That process actually began in May 1997 - the day people turned out on a massive scale to vote against the status quo by electing a President who ran on the putative platform of supplanting it with a civilized democracy. Instead of doing that however, Mohammad Khatami kept the clerical dictatorship artificially alive on the life-support machine of illusory reform, and proved that the political system of the Islamic Republic is incapable of accommodating any real change.
Today, the presence of the signature of many prominent reformists on the appeal for a national referendum is a clear sign that Iranians have gained valuable lessons from the political experience of the past seven years. They have learned that the only way they can achieve their democratic aspirations and political freedom is by moving beyond the present system. There are hopeful signs that what no military strike on selected targets by any outside power could ever accomplish in Iran, can be realized by a broad national consensus of all those Iranians who put their country ahead of their particular political leaning. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair was the first Western leader who reacted positively to this initiative when he was asked yesterday (29 November 2004) by Radio VOA about the National Appeal for Referendum in Iran. He replied We support those who would like the same democratic rights as we have here'.
The momentum is building up for peaceful political change in Iran, let's pray it moves in the right direction by those who will emerge as its leaders.
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