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Posted on 12/11/2004 9:09:47 PM PST by nuconvert
Top News Story
ElBaradei Not to Attend Iran-E.U. Meeting in Brussels: report
11 December 2004
TEHERAN - The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammad ElBaradei, will probably not attend the meeting between Iran and the European Union in Brussels, the Iranian news service Mehr reported Saturday.
Mehr quoted an IAEA official as saying that there were some problems with regards to ElBaradeis time schedule and due to protocol, no other IAEA official could attend the meeting except ElBaradei.
Irans chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani will meet on Monday with the foreign ministers of the E.U. Trio - Britain, France and Germany - as well as E.U. foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss the nuclear agreement reached earlier this month.
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U.S. Taps ElBaradei's Calls to Iranian Officials - IAEA Leader's Phone Tapped
washingtonpost.com ^ | Sunday, December 12, 2004 | Dafna Linzer
Posted on 12/11/2004 11:50:46 PM EST by crushelits
U.S. Pores Over Transcripts to Try to Oust Nuclear Chief
The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials.
But the diplomatic offensive will not be easy. The administration has failed to come up with a candidate willing to oppose ElBaradei, who has run the agency since 1997, and there is disagreement among some senior officials over how hard to push for his removal, and what the diplomatic costs of a public campaign against him could be. Although eavesdropping, even on allies, is considered a well-worn tool of national security and diplomacy, the efforts against ElBaradei demonstrate the lengths some within the administration are willing to go to replace a top international diplomat who questioned U.S. intelligence on Iraq and is now taking a cautious approach on Iran.
The intercepted calls have not produced any evidence of nefarious conduct by ElBaradei, according to three officials who have read them. But some within the administration believe they show ElBaradei lacks impartiality because he tried to help Iran navigate a diplomatic crisis over its nuclear programs. Others argue the transcripts demonstrate nothing more than standard telephone diplomacy.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
We'll Quit Nuke Talks: Iran
The Australian/correspondents in Tehran
IRAN'S top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani has warned that the Islamic republic would abandon key talks with the European Union on its nuclear programme if it was clear no progress was being made.
The talks, set to begin in Brussels tomorrow, are aimed at building on Iran's agreement to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment activities that have sparked fears the clerical regime is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
The two sides will be hammering out a long-term accord that includes "objective guarantees" Iran will not develop the bomb and a package of trade, technology and security incentives.
"We will continue the negotiations for as long as they are progressing," Mr Rowhani told the official news agency IRNA before leaving for the Brussels talks.
"If at any point that our negotiations are not progressing, we will stop them. The end of these three months of negotiations will indicate to us which point we have reached," added the cleric, who heads Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
Iran has pledged to maintain its nuclear fuel cycle freeze for the duration of the negotiations.
On Monday, Mr Rowhani is to meet the British, French and German foreign ministers in a steering committee conference on the sidelines of an EU ministerial gathering.
Bushehr Plant Awaiting Technical Deal
Iran-Daily/Dec. 11, 2004
TEHRAN, Dec. 11--Tehran and Moscow are discussing technical details of an agreement to bring a nuclear power plant in the Iranian port city of Bushehr on line in 2006, Chairman of Russian Federation Council Sergei Mironov said here Saturday.
The power plant, subjected to immense international media hype, has seen several dates for its operation pushed back from its initial target of 2003, IRNA reported.
In August, Iran said the plant would become operational in October 2006, a year behind the schedule.
Mironov, who arrived in Tehran on Saturday for a one-day visit, stressed Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which the country is a signatory.
Once operational, the Bushehr Power Plant is projected to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity, 6,000 megawatts less than the 2021 target set by Iran for nuclear power plants.
Its construction has been dogged by a whole slew of 'complexities', primarily the deal on the return of spent fuel and its costs.
This has raised the ire of certain circles inside Iran amid suspicion that Russia could be trying to use the project as a bargaining chip in its political horse-trading with the United States.
A senior Iranian official sent a veiled warning to Russia recently, making it clear that the Iranians would judge the Russians by their performance in Bushehr.
The Washington Times
Published December 12, 2004
In just the latest move that calls into question the seriousness of its efforts to learn the truth about Iran's nuclear weapons program, the International Atomic Energy Agency apparently withheld information suggesting that Iran had attempted to purchase large quantitities of dual-use material (items with civilian and military uses) which can be used to detonate an atomic weapon.
Reuters reported that diplomats from the United States and unnamed countries are unhappy with IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei, who they claim removed information about Iran's suspected purchase of beryllium from a report to the agency's governing board that was issued in September. According to the news agency, a "non-U.S. diplomat" said that information about Iran's work with beryllium was included in an early draft of the IAEA report on inspections in Iran, but was taken out of the final report after Tehran objected. The information was also omitted from a report issued last month by the IAEA Board of Governors.
That same IAEA board rejected U.S. efforts to have Iran's behavior referred to the U.N. Security Council for action, opting instead for a weak alternative plan devised by Britain, France and Germany requiring that Iran freeze part of its nuclear program. This plan devised by the EU 3 specifies that the Iranian freeze is "non-binding" and "voluntary." In other words, Iran faces no meaningful penalties for ignoring the freeze whenever it chooses.
In response to the Reuters story, the IAEA suggests the information about Iran's efforts to obtain beryllium was omitted because it was a technical detail and had not been proven. But that's not the way IAEA reports to the Board of Governors are supposed to work. The reports are supposed to be a full accounting of all the things that agency is investigating about a country's nuclear program at a given time. If a particular charge has not been proven, the IAEA is supposed to say that -- not leave the information out. The decision to omit the beryllium data entirely smacks of an effort to conceal something.
What exactly might the beryllium data excised by Mr. ElBaradei be? No one can say for sure. But some of the information on the public record is indeed troubling. Publications such as the London Sunday Telegraph and Jane's International Defense Review reported that, in 1994, the United States prevented Tehran from purchasing beryllium in Kazakhstan. After the CIA learned that Iranian agents had visited a processing plant there, U.S. agents reportedly purchased the entire inventory. The beryllium -- enough to produce 20 nuclear warheads -- was transferred to the United States to be modified for nonmilitary uses. There have been subsequent published reports suggesting that Tehran continues to try to obtain beryllium.
Since it was forced to begin dealing with the issue last June, the IAEA has to its credit issued a series of reports showing that Iran has been cheating and concealing its nuclear program from public view for nearly 20 years. Our central criticism of Mr. ElBaradei had been his unwillingness to be sufficiently vigorous in holding Iran accountable for malevolent behavior that has been publicly documented. If it turns out that he has been withholding relevant information about Iran from the IAEA board, it raises troubling new questions about Mr. ElBaradei's leadership.
Thanks, Race. My server went out or something.
The U.S. vs. a Nuclear Iran
December 12, 2004
NY Times/ DAVID E. SANGER
(This article was reported by Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, and was written by Mr. Sanger.)
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 - The Bush administration says the prospect of Iran's obtaining a nuclear weapon is "intolerable," and from the White House to the State Department, officials express considerable skepticism that Europe's efforts to negotiate quietly an end to Iran's nuclear activities will succeed.
Yet, though President Bush threatened Iraq before the war there, he has said almost nothing about the possibility of resorting to military action in Iran.
That may reflect the fact that Pentagon war planners, reviewing available options, say there are no good options for Mr. Bush - or for Israel, which has expressed even greater alarm about a nuclear-armed Iran if negotiations fail.
Almost unanimously, these planners and Pentagon analysts say there are no effective military ways to wipe out a nuclear program that has been well hidden and broadly dispersed across the country, including in crowded cities. Confronted with intelligence evidence, Iran admitted to inspectors last year that it had hidden critical aspects of its civilian program for 18 years, and even today there are questions about whether all of its nuclear-related sites are known.
The Bush administration has talked about the possibility of going to the United Nations to seek sanctions against Iran if a recent accord with the Europeans falls apart, as a similar agreement did last year. But the Iranians themselves are aware of the whispers about military strikes, many of them fueled by Israeli officials who view the threat as much more urgent than the Europeans do.
Even so, such talk may amount to little more than bluffing in a high-stakes diplomatic game that the deputy secretary of state, Richard L. Armitage, recently described as "kind of a good-cop, bad-cop arrangement," with Washington playing the bad cop. But a senior European official related a conversation in which Iranians deeply involved in the talks warned that any military action would be futile.
The official said the Iranians boasted that "they can rebuild the facilities in six months," using indigenous technology. He also said they believed that after any military action to slow Iran's program, they could "develop a weapon as a national cause, with more consensus than now."
Senior officers and Pentagon officials confirm that war planners, in particular Air Force targeting teams, have updated contingencies for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, as they periodically do. But they immediately emphasize that this does not reflect any guidance from the civilian leadership to prepare for military confrontation.
Instead, they say, it is part of an effort ordered by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to begin a constant process of refreshing contingency planning throughout the world, an effort partly inspired by the outdated plan for invading Iraq that had to be rapidly dusted off and radically rewritten before the war there.
"Military planning always continues," said one senior officer based in the Middle East. "We are constantly updating plans."
But interviews with military planners, Pentagon policy makers and academic experts drew a unanimous sentiment that the challenge in 2005 would be to contain the situation so that neither the United States nor Iran took a misstep or miscalculated, bringing on military action.
The Iranians remember Osirak, the site of a lightning Israeli airstrike against an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 that set back Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions by a decade. American and European intelligence officials say Iran has taken the lesson to heart, spreading its nuclear facilities around the country, burying some underground and putting others in the middle of crowded urban areas.
For example, the International Atomic Energy Agency last year found centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, behind a false wall at the Kalaye Electric Company in a densely populated corner of Tehran, where there would be no way to conduct a military strike without causing major civilian casualties. "They are not about to make the same mistake Saddam did," a senior administration official said.
Thus the military options range from the bad to the unimaginable.
None guarantee success, military planners say. Many risk causing not only casualties but a political crisis in the Middle East. The planners, many of them involved in the war against Iraq, argue vehemently that Iran presents a growing proliferation problem better approached through diplomatic channels than by airstrikes, Special Operations missions or an all-out invasion.
"There's no big war plan on the shelf," said one administration official involved in the planning process.
Part of the caution appears linked to the realization that while Iran's nuclear facilities are far more advanced than Iraq's ever were, the administration has yet to prove that Iran is secretly planning to build a weapon. The country has opened many of its sites to international inspectors, though there is still wrangling over whether the agency will be able to visit two military sites that some experts suspect could house a parallel, secret military effort to produce uranium.
If such sites exist, they would violate the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which Iran has signed and which requires that all of its facilities must be solely for civilian use. So far, the inspectors have asked to see only one of the sites, and Iran has not indicated whether it would provide access.
The director general of the international agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has carefully stopped short of declaring that Iran is seeking a weapon, though recently he noted that Iran "tried to cheat the system."
But whether it is a civilian program or something more nefarious, Iran is using an approach to developing nuclear fuel through the enrichment of uranium that is far easier to hide than the approach that Iraq took two decades ago.
So there is no central plant like Osirak to bomb.
"Osirak is not a paradigm," said Robert S. Litwak, director of international studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center here. "It was an exceptional case, in which all of the conditions for success came together. Israel had accurate intelligence on the target, collateral damage effects on the nearby population were judged minimal because the nuclear core had not yet been loaded into the reactor, and Saddam Hussein then had no capacity to retaliate directly against Israel."
In Iran today, said Mr. Litwak, who worked on proliferation issues as a National Security Council staff member in the Clinton administration, "none of those conditions pertain."
That view is echoed at the senior levels of the military. "Iran takes great care to protect its technology and production/storage capability with multiple layers of security, hardening and dispersal," said one Air Force general with experience in the Middle East. "All this complicates identification, targeting and execution."
Analysts of the Iranian political scene also point out that many in the American government view a growing and energized Iranian civil society, in particular the young and women, as an agent of change toward a democratic Iran.
News of the energy agency's restrained action helped Iran's stock market, which had suffered over fears that the nuclear dispute could result in a military confrontation with Israel or the United States. Any American military strike on Iran, these analysts say, would cancel any positive feelings these people have toward the United States, and probably galvanize support for the more militant Islamic leadership.
Iran Weightlifters Shine in 2nd Day of Contests
Sunday, December 12, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Dec 12 (IranMania) In the second day of the Asian Clubs weightlifting contests in China, the number of Irans medals reached 12.
Sanat Naft and Melli Haffari represented Iran in the event.
In the 69 kg weight category, Hussein Abroun snatched two golds and a silver while Alireza Kazemi won one gold and two silvers.
In the 77 kg weight category Mahmoud Esmailzadeh grabbed three gold medals and Sajjad Mohammadi in the same category ranked second.
SERGEI MIRONOV ON RUSSIAN/IRANIAN COMMON INTERESTS
TEHRAN, December 12 (RIA Novosti) - "Moscow and Tehran have a high level of trust and understanding because our countries share a wide range of common national interests," Russian Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said addressing the Iranian Majles (parliament) on Sunday.
"We come out for the development of confidential dialogue with Iran in many spheres, taking into account the complicated regional situation. Moscow believes that Russian-Iranian good-neighborly relations are highly important for the national security of both countries and stability in the region and in the world," Mr. Mironov said.
According to him, President Mohammad Khatami's idea of the dialogue between civilizations received broad international support. "We share this approach and come out for active development of varied relations with all states and regions on the basis of the principles of non-interference in each other's domestic affairs and mutual benefit," the Federation Council speaker emphasized.
Russian-Iranian relations are based on the treaty on principles of Russian-Iranian relations and cooperation signed by the presidents of the two countries in March 2001, Sergei Mironov noted.
In his words, Russia ranks among Iran's top ten partners and bilateral trade totaled some $1.4 billion in 2003.
"However, this does not meet the potential of our countries," he noted.
"We have serious projects in the oil and gas, industry and energy spheres. We have created a legal basis for trade and economic cooperation and are working on its extension and improvement," he stressed.
"The sides have prepared a whole package of contracts in this sphere, with the parliaments of the two countries being involved in this process," the Federation Council speaker reported.
We dont need no stinkeen servers!
Iran Accused of Planning Attack on Saudi Oil
December 12, 2004
Middle East Newsline
CAIRO -- Iran has been accused of planning an Al Qaida attack on a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia. Egyptian officials said Iran has helped plan and finance attacks on both Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the last year. They said an Iranian diplomat planned the strike on a petrochemical facility in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia in May 2004. The attack resulted in the killing of five Western engineers.
The Iranian diplomat has escaped Egypt but would be tried in absentia. Officials said the diplomat employed an Egyptian national who has been captured and would be charged with espionage and terrorist offenses.
Egyptian public prosecutor Maher Abdul Wahed identified the Iranian diplomat as Mohammad Reza Hosseindoust. Abdul Wahed said Hosseindoust paid the Egyptian detainee, identified as Mohammed Eid Mohammed Dabbous, who supplied information that facilitated the attack on Yanbu.
Daimlerchrysler Offices Searched in Connection With Sale to Iran
December 11, 2004
BERLIN -- Authorities conducted a search of automaker DaimlerChrysler's offices in Stuttgart in connection with the illegal delivery of trucks to Iran, a prosecutors' spokeswoman said Saturday.
Customs inspectors searched the offices Nov. 30 on suspicion that trucks officially bound for Saudi Arabia were instead delivered to Iran, Stuttgart prosecutors' spokeswoman Tomke Beddies said. Beddies said that the company itself had alerted the authorities to the delivery.
Prosecutors are still investigating who at the company was aware of the delivery.
"The names of those responsible are not known," Beddies said.
Beddies would not comment on specific details of the case, but the Focus weekly reported that the case concerns 453 trucks that could be converted for military purposes.
DaimlerChrysler supports the investigation, the company said.
'I Was Tortured for Saying the Flogging Must End in Iran'
December 11, 2004
The Independent Digital
The treatment of Arash Nassouri was brutal. "They hung me upside down and handcuffed me with a bar under my knees," he says. "They started kicking and punching me ... beating me in every part of my back, my stomach, face, everywhere. My backbone was broken. But the pain was worst when they hit my face. My nose was already broken, my teeth were broken. Every time they hit my face there was a lot of pain. I was ready to say anything."
Mr Nassouri still walks with a profound limp, and is awaiting his second operation to mend a seriously injured back, which is the legacy of his torture. Six years after his horrific ordeal, he still takes nine different tablets a day to treat pain and depression. Now 33, Mr Nassouri, who has gained political asylum in Britain, still attends weekly counselling sessions to try to come to terms with the experience he says ruined his life.
The British Government is adamant that torture is never justified. In its recently published report on human rights, it said "torture is abhorrent and illegal and the UK is opposed to the use of torture under all circumstances." So it is surprising that the Government has argued for the admissibility of evidence in UK courts which has been extracted under torture abroad. The UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, was dismissed after he spoke out publicly about the authorities' routine use of torture, including, allegedly, boiling people to death. The decision, upheld by the appeal court, is to be appealed against again to the House of Lords by human rights lawyers who argue it in effect condones use of torture by foreign powers. Amnesty International has accused the Government of "giving a green light to torturers" by supporting the admission of such testimony. While the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, where Mr Nassouri is being treated, said using testimony obtained in foreign torture chambers was not only tainted but unreliable. "Why should you believe somebody who has told you something because he was in such pain? He just wants the pain to stop," said Sherman Carroll, director of public affairs. "If you permit such testimony to be used in UK courts you are encouraging torture to be used."
While a 27-year-old civil engineering student, and active in university politics, Mr Nassouri was seized and taken blindfolded to an unknown location in Tehran by members of the official security services. He was tortured by interrogators who accused him of being a member of the mujahedin and of plotting against the Islamic regime. "When I was on the floor, I asked him (the interrogator) to wipe the blood because I could feel the blood in my mouth. My tongue was touching broken teeth. My head was throbbing with pain and I could feel my eyes swell up. I could feel my nose was broken. The interrogator said I should not be worried about my vanity because people had go to war defending collaborators like me," he said.
Tears come to his eyes as he slowly and methodically recounts the torture sessions he endured, along with threats against his wife and family. "I was taken into a room blindfolded. The interrogator was called Sayed. He said, 'we know everything about you. Tell us everything about your group and your contacts and who is funding you.' But I had not done anything that was wrong. Our group was not illegal. I was not anti the regime. I was in favour of reform," he says. "Later they said they had arrested my wife as well and she was being treated in the same way." He puts his hands beneath his knees as he demonstrates how he was held in the "juojeh kebab", a notorious torture technique, where he was handcuffed in a crouching position and hung from the ceiling upside down before being beaten. "They told me to sit on the floor and they brought a metal bar. They put it through the handcuffs under my knees," he said. "I was hanging from the bar and they started to beat me."
The group he was a member of was a pro-democracy opposition group, which sought reform of the Islamic system. They held debates and meetings and distributed leaflets. "We hadn't done anything illegal. We criticised Islamic punishment and reforms to the judicial system," he said.
In 1998, he was summoned by the headof the university,who told him the intelligence services wanted to interview him. "I said, 'OK, I haven't done anything wrong, I will talk to them. I was afraid at first but I thought I would be safe because the head of the university was aware of it," he said. "I got into a car and I was blindfolded. Before I was blindfolded I noticed that the car doors had no inside handles." That was the beginning of a terrifying ordeal, in which Mr Nassouri was accused of being a collaborator and a saboteur along with other torture victims whom he heard calling from other "cells".
The beatings were designed to make him confess to crimes that he had not committed. "I pleaded with them not to hurt me any more. After about 10 minutes I started screaming that I would tell them anything that they wanted to know.''
The "confession" led to several months' detention in two Iranian prisons and a suspended seven-year prison term. A raid by the security services, convinced him his life was in danger, so he paid traffickers to smuggle him out of Iran.
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