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Iranian Alert - December 14, 2004 [EST] - Iran and Europeans Open a New Round of Negotiations
Regime Change Iran ^ | 12.14.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/13/2004 11:04:24 PM PST by DoctorZIn

Top News Story

Iran and Europeans Open a New Round of Negotiations

At a news conference yesterday in Brussels, from left, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier of France, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain, Hassan Rowhani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator; Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Germany; and Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief.
Virginia Mayo/Associated Press
At a news conference yesterday in Brussels, from left, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier of France, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain, Hassan Rowhani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator; Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Germany; and Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief.


Published: December 14, 2004

BRUSSELS, Dec. 13 - Iran and its European partners pledged Monday to work to overcome their differences and lingering suspicions as they began negotiations for a long-term agreement on nuclear, economic and security cooperation.

The largely ceremonial talks among Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, and the foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany flow from Iran's agreement last month to freeze its programs to make enriched uranium, which is useful either for producing energy or making bombs.

To throw the weight of the European Union behind the process, Javier Solana, the group's foreign policy chief, also took part in the meeting on Monday.

"The negotiations we are embarking upon today can be indicative of the new chapter of our relations, not only with the three European countries, but with the European Union as a whole," Mr. Rowhani, the midlevel cleric who leads Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said at a news conference at the residence of the British ambassador to the European Union. He added, "Our intention here is through political dialogue, we will establish such confidence that there will be no concern left for anyone."

Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, said: "All of us here share a determination to see progress. Some of the issues are of course difficult. But we're all committed to a successful outcome of the process."

The talks that opened Monday are being conducted on two tracks, one to make the freeze permanent, another to explore concrete ways to reward Iran if it does so. At the Iranian Embassy on Monday night, specialists from both sides began talks in three working groups on nuclear, economic and security issues.

But the hopeful words on Monday did not mask the challenges both sides face in making the necessary gestures to build trust and sustain and fulfill the agreement reached last month.

The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, sounded a more cautious tone before the talks began. "We must move forward step by step on the basis of realism," he told reporters.

Most difficult, European and Iranian negotiators said, will be for Iran to meet its commitment under the agreement to provide "objective guarantees," that is, clear proof, that its nuclear program can be used only for peaceful purposes.

The Europeans, in turn, will find it challenging to deliver on some of the more ambitious rewards they have discussed with Iran partly because they depend on the cooperation of the United States, but the Bush administration is in no mood to offer Iran incentives. That was underscored Monday, when the administration blocked Iran's application to open membership talks with the World Trade Organization.

In a meeting in Geneva, the General Council of the 148-nation trade organization agreed by consensus to accept applications from Iraq and Afghanistan, but rejected Iran's application for the 16th consecutive time.

Supporting Iran's eventual membership in the W.T.O. is one of the potential incentives that the Europeans are offering.

Another challenge is that Iran insists that it is freezing its uranium enrichment programs temporarily. Mr. Rowhani indicated that the next three months would be crucial in indicating whether the initiative should continue, and has warned recently that Iran will restart its nuclear cycle if the Europeans do not act in good faith.

He and other Iranian officials also correctly point out that Iran is not obligated under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to freeze these activities and is doing so on a voluntary basis to illustrate its good will.

The Europeans, by contrast, hope to make the temporary freeze in Iran's enrichment activities permanent in return for trade, aid and security rewards. They say that the talks will take much longer than a few months.

The Europeans are also caught in a difficult situation with the United States. The Bush administration contends that Iran has a covert program to build nuclear bombs and has stated repeatedly that it wants the United Nations Security Council to slap it with either censure or economic penalties.

But in the absence of international support for such an approach, the administration has yet to come up with a clear, consistent strategy on Iran.

Some Bush administration officials, speaking anonymously, have poured scorn on the European initiative, while others have expressed skepticism or offered only qualified support.

In meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna this month, for example, the American delegation openly criticized the agreement with the Europeans as "flawed" and "flimsy," while pushing unsuccessfully for a tougher resolution.

But at a meeting with Mr. Solana and other European Union officials in The Hague last Friday, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the United States was "supportive" of the European initiative with Iran, according to a senior European official who was present and official notes of the meeting.

When Mr. Solana told Mr. Powell that the Europeans might need the help of the United States in putting the agreement into effect, Mr. Powell replied that he felt comfortable with the current "division of labor" between the Europeans, who are doing the negotiating, and the United States, which is staying on the sidelines.

Mr. Powell also noted that the objective of the United States and the Europeans was the same to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power although their methods were different, and he wished the Europeans luck with their negotiations, the European official said.

In conversations in Brussels 10 days ago, Stephen J. Hadley, who will take over as the Bush administration's national security adviser, expressed skepticism that a strategy to moderate Iran's behavior with incentives would work, according to people who met with him. But he also said he was pleased that the Europeans had achieved as much as they had in freezing Iran's enrichment program.

"The Americans may be reluctant and skeptical, but in general terms they are supportive," one European Union official said.

The Europeans and the Iranians know that the United States can scuttle almost any agreement they may reach.

For example, the Europeans are eager to persuade Iran to abandon the construction of a heavy-water reactor designed to produce plutonium, which can be used as fuel for nuclear weapons as well as for energy, in exchange for a light-water reactor.

But only a few countries in the world, including the United States, France and Russia, make light-water reactors. Even if the Europeans were willing to approve the technology, the United States holds some of the patents on the technology and could block the deal.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: armyofmahdi; axisofevil; axisofweasels; ayatollah; binladen; cleric; elbaradei; eu; germany; humanrights; iaea; insurgency; iran; iranianalert; iraq; islamicrepublic; japan; journalist; kazemi; khamenei; khatami; khatemi; lsadr; moqtadaalsadr; mullahs; napalminthemorning; neoeunazis; persecution; persia; persian; politicalprisoners; protests; rafsanjani; religionofpeace; revolutionaryguard; rumsfeld; russia; satellitetelephones; shiite; southasia; southwestasia; studentmovement; studentprotest; terrorism; terrorists; us; vevak; wot

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1 posted on 12/13/2004 11:04:27 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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2 posted on 12/13/2004 11:07:13 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


By Safa Haeri
Posted Monday, December 13, 2004

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BRUSSELS, 13 Dec. (IPS) First round of sensitive talks between Iran in trhe one side, Britain, France and Germany on the other ended here on Monday with the Head of Iranian delegation announcing the opening of a “new chapter” in relations between the two sides.

“Our will is to advance the talks step by step in order to reach a new chapter in bilateral relations, therefore, the discussions here in Brussels would not be limited to nuclear issues only”, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani told waiting journalists.

The talks had started in the afternoon at the British delegation in the Belgian Capital with the participation of Jack Straw, Michel Barnier and Joschka Fischer, foreign ministers of the European Union’s three main powers facing Mr. Rohani and Mr. Xavier Solana, the EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Minister.

Confidence building is possible by deepening relationship and mutual understanding.

“Confidence building is possible by deepening relationship and mutual understanding. If the two sides continue in the path with goodwill, then one can say for sure that a new chapter has been open in the relations between Iran and Europe”, Mr. Rohani, who is both Iran’s top negotiator on the his country’s controversial nuclear issue and Secretary of Supreme Council on National Security added.

For their part, the European ministers observed that their present round of negotiations is a follow up to agreements reached on 21 November 2003 in Tehran and on 15 November 2004 in Paris as well as the resolution the international nuclear watchdog passed on 29 November in Vienna, all calling on Iran to suspend activities related to enriching uranium.

“Despite some obstacles, the two sides are committed to fulfil their prior engagements and in doing so, some progress has been registered”, Mr. Straw pointed out without emphasising.

But analysts noted that as the European Troika was talking to the Iranian delegation in Brussels, in Tehran, Mr. Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, the official spokesman for the Government of Mr. Mohammad Khatami repeated Iran’s demand for running several dozens of centrifuges for so-called Research and Development purposes.

That demand first surfaced at the beginning of the last meeting of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors on 25 November 2004 and was immediately rejected by the European Trio, which, in return, urged Tehran to renounce to the request in an official letter or face sanctions.

The Islamic Republic obliged after a delay of two days, paving the way for the 35 directors to pass a resolution that helped Tehran escape sanctions from the United Nations Security Council, as demanded by the United States.

To show its displeasure with the ongoing talks in Brussels and its determination to keep Iran under maximum pressures, Washington, despite favourable notes from the European Union, again opposed on Monday Iran’s demand to join the World Trade Organization.

But the Geneva-based WTO accepted a similar bid from Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran’s neighbours on the East and West.

“The problem of Iran’s nuclear activity is clear from a legal and technical point of view. Our aim is to establish confidence through political means in order that there will be no concern left for anyone", Mr. Rohani told the joint press conference, referring to the United States and Israel, the two nations that forcefully suspect the ruling Iranian ayatollahs to seek nuclear weapons by diverting the atomic technology for peaceful purposes into military uses.

British Foreign Secretary who hosted the 90-minute meeting said a key aim of the talks would be "to provide objective guarantees that Iran's nuclear program can only be used for peaceful purposes".

“Iran would have to respect the spirit as well as the letter of the agreement”, he added.

In an effort to build confidence, Mr. Rohani confirmed that the suspension of uranium enriching activities is taking place in accordance with the Paris Agreements.

To show its displeasure with the ongoing talks in Brussels and its determination to keep Iran under maximum pressures, Washington again opposed Iran’s demand to join the World Trade Organization.

“We had such suspensions in the past, but what is new in the present move is that is has created a new atmosphere in Iran’s relations with Europe, one that would allow us to continue with more serious and expanded talks”, he said.

"As long as the voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment is in force, our undertakings are valid", the German Foreign Minister said, adding, "We must move forward step-by-step on the basis of realism".

Observers said while the Europeans hope to turn the suspension of Iran's nuclear activities into a permanent process, Iran wants quick results in its talks with Europe and reach accords on trade, security and advanced nuclear technologies.

“The extent of progress within three months would have a significant impact on the continuation of the initiative, the Iranian negotiator said, adding that the three working groups envisaged by the Patris Agreement would began their first session at the Iranian Embassy immediately after the ministerial meeting, tasked with reaching first concrete results within three months.

“The positive outcome and success of the talks will benefit the both sides as well as the entire region, he said, adding that, vice-versa, the failure of the negotiations will also be felt by all”, he had stated on Sunday on his departure for Brussels, stressing that Iran would continue the talks “if we feel that they are progressing, we would continue the talks, if not, we shall end them”. ENDS IRAN TROIKA 131204

3 posted on 12/13/2004 11:07:38 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

12/7/2004 Clip No. 412

Iranian Official Reveals Details on Nuclear Facilities

The following are excerpts from an interview with Mohammad-Reza Sa'idi, International Affairs Deputyat the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization [IAEO]:

Sa'idi: For the Nuclear reactor in Bushehr, which requires an annual 30 tons of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5 to 4 percent, there is a need for 54,000 centrifuges to work constantly, and process the product at [the UCF project of] Esfahan.

Interviewer: How many?

Sa'idi: 54,000 Centrifuges.

Interviewer: We are now in suspension?

Sa'idi: Precisely.

Interviewer: Which sites are being suspended?

Sa'idi: At present, Natanz is in full suspension. The enrichment takes place in the Natanz project. We have also suspended [the UCF project in] Esfahan, according to IAEA regulations and our agreements with it.

Interviewer: What about Arak?

Sa'idi: Arak is not part of the suspension.

Interviewer: What are we doing in Arak?

Sa'idi: In Arak we have a heavy water complex and we are building a research reactor there. According to the declarations of Iranian officials from the start, Iran has accepted the commitments and continues to be a part of the NPT. This is Iran's definite policy. On the other hand, refraining from obtaining nuclear weapons is also part of the definite policy and strategy of Iran. It doesn't mean we won't develop nuclear knowledge and technology in our country. Iran believes that if we obtain nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, this will suffice for our country. We have no need for nuclear weapons, we don't need to leave the NPT. We are not even considering this. We see the strength and security of Iran in other parameters. This [nuclear technology] is the right of the Iranian people and must be defended. It belongs to all Iranians now and in the future. The heavy water project under construction in Arak, includes a research reactor with an output of 40 mega-watts, while the [research] reactor [in Tehran] has an output of five mega-watts.

Interviewer: So we are building a heavy water research reactor in Arak?

Sa'idi: Yes, we have notified the IAEA of this. It is well aware of it.

Interviewer: Is it related to Uranium enrichment?

Sa'idi: No, it isn't.

To view click here.

4 posted on 12/13/2004 11:08:05 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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Dec. 13, 2004 20:20

Ya'alon: West must be prepared to strike Iran


IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon indicated Monday that Israel and the West needed to be prepared for using "other options" against Iran if diplomatic pressures don't prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"We believe that there is a chance of success when talking about the elimination of the Iranian capabilities of weapons of mass destruction, first of all using political and economic resolutions," Ya'alon told a conference on security and economics.

"From my point of view and my recommendation, this has to be used first of all. If not we have to be prepared, and I am talking about the Western community, to use other options in order to eliminate the Iranian capabilities," Ya'alon said.

Ya'alon was speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference held near Tel Aviv.

5 posted on 12/13/2004 11:08:27 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


Documents proving Syria and Iran's involvement in terror inside Iraq have been discovered and delivered to the two countries by the Iraqi government, reports the London-based daily Al-Hayyat.

The documents were revealed by the Intelligence Agency in the Iraqi Ministry of Home Affairs. "The documents were delivered to Syria and Iran following the arrest of terrorists who arrived from these countries," said head of security in Baghdad and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Hikmat Mousa. He added that there are currently some 1,500 armed personnel in Baghdad, all involved in violent activities. "They are involved either in organized terror, or in criminal terror."

On the other hand, Mousa also gave some reassuring figures as to the rate of violence in Iraq. According to him, violence dropped in November by 12 percent compared to the previous month. "The Ministry of Home Affairs has moved now to a stage of initiative and attack. The police forces have launched accurate attacks, based on intelligence information, against terror cells in Baghdad," Mousa told Al-Hayyat.

Some of the decrease in violence is explained by the recent formation of three Special Forces battalions within the Iraqi police, each one comprising 2,100 policemen. A fourth battalion is now being formed. Another security measure is the establishment of border police units subordinate to the Ministry of Home Affairs. These units aim to stop the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq. "We plan to establish border units made up of 35,000 soldiers, supported by helicopters and electronic systems," said Mousa. He added that Iraq demands Syria and Iran take all necessary measures to prevent infiltration from their borders.

By The Media Line Staff on Monday, December 13, 2004

6 posted on 12/13/2004 11:08:51 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

U.S. Options Few in Feud With Iran


Alarmed at Tehran's nuclear ambitions, Washington for now can only watch and wait.

WASHINGTON — Top diplomats from the United States and its closest allies gathered this fall in Washington to hammer out a common approach to Iran's nuclear ambitions. But the mood quickly soured.

Dispensing with the usual diplomatic niceties, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton simply read aloud a U.S. position paper. In it, the administration refused to back European negotiations with Iran and instead insisted that Tehran be dragged before the United Nations Security Council to condemn it for concealing a nuclear weapons program.

Irked, the Europeans demanded to know what good it would do to bring Iran before the U.N. when Washington knew it could not muster enough Security Council votes even to slap Tehran's wrist.

Bolton referred them to another U.S. position paper.

"He was not willing to discuss anything," said one stunned participant.

The incident, sketched here from interviews with four people who either attended or are familiar with the meeting of officials from the Group of Eight industrialized nations, is circulating in the diplomatic world as evidence of European frustration with the Bush administration.

Bolton's office had no comment. But critics say it is also emblematic of how divisions within the administration have kept the U.S. from either wholeheartedly joining the European approach or coming up with an alternative.

A bruising round of negotiations with Tehran last month left the Europeans more skeptical than ever about Iran's claim that its nuclear power program was peaceful. But Europeans also are mistrustful of U.S. intentions, top experts said. ...

Facing diplomatic gridlock, unappealing military options, internal ideological divisions and major domestic and foreign political constraints stemming from the Iraq war, Washington has little choice but to watch and wait.

Some prominent conservatives are arguing for a preemptive U.S. military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, but State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council officials have been insisting in recent weeks that military action is not under discussion.

"We do not want American armies marching on Tehran," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said late last month.

"Nobody's seriously talking about military options because it doesn't make any sense," said a senior administration official. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official called the notion of a preemptive strike "a dumb idea."

"It's uninformed and irresponsible to suggest that there is a military solution to this program," the official said. "Diplomacy is our approach, and it's not a stalling tactic."

U.S. officials will not discuss what they will do if diplomacy fails. U.S. hard-liners, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, reject making deals with the theocracy in Tehran, and more moderate officials say it isn't clear the religious conservatives in control in Iran are eager to engage with "the Great Satan" either.

Other officials said the United States and its allies have many options short of military action with which to isolate and punish a government that they believe persists in trying to develop nuclear weapons.

"At the end of the day we may have to do it," said another senior official, referring to military action. "We're not at the end of the day yet."

Still, the administration's apparent lack of a strategy worries many people in Washington and abroad.

"I don't think this administration has decided on what its Iran policy is going to be, but one thing is clear: It's not going to be war," said an Iran expert in the Defense Department.

Washington's war planners have updated their scenarios for a possible showdown with Iran. The national security bureaucracy has conducted war games, and officials have been "gaming out" other ways the United States could respond if diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon were to fail.

But they describe the efforts as "prudent contingency planning" that should not be interpreted as saber-rattling. If anything, the process of studying a potential conflict with Iran seems to have made some Bush administration officials more cautious. One possible outcome that alarms planners, senior officials say, is that Tehran might order terrorist retaliation if the United States were to strike Iranian nuclear targets.

U.S. officials are particularly worried about the potential for Iran to use the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah, which it funds and supports, to hit American targets in Iraq, step up attacks in Israel, target U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, or even to strike inside the United States.

American officials have called Hezbollah "the A-team" of terrorism, potentially more deadly than Al Qaeda, with possibly dozens of cells around the world.

"Hezbollah gives Iran a global weapon that we need to understand," the second senior administration official said.

Any scenario under which the U.S. attacks Iran, overtly or covertly, will have to include plans to batten down the hatches at myriad American diplomatic targets overseas where retaliation could be expected, the official said.

U.S. economic targets abroad could also come into the cross hairs. And some think a cornered Iran could launch preemptive strikes of its own, as some Tehran officials have threatened recently.

Several American officials have said they believe Hezbollah has "sleeper" cells raising money in at least five major U.S. urban areas. The question in officials' minds is how those cells might react if the U.S. were to clash with Iran.

"This isn't an argument not to do what people are proposing to do," the official said, referring to the use of force. "It's an argument to understand what the consequences are."

Reuel Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, who favors preemptive action against Iran, argues that the U.S. must not be intimidated by the fear that Iran might try to deploy Hezbollah.

"You have to be crystal clear with them that whatever they dream up, we can dream up something much, much worse," Gerecht said. "The Iranians understand that in the tit-for-tat game, they lose overwhelmingly."

Israel has long studied potential airstrikes against Iranian nuclear sites, but leading American conservatives argue that if strikes are deemed necessary, for political and military reasons the U.S. should do it alone.

According to sources outside the administration, covert and overt action might include sabotage at Iranian nuclear sites or attacks on Iranian oil exporting facilities.

"The idea that the only contingency plan available is to use U.S. air raids is not true," said Patrick Clawson, Deputy Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Given the shoddy design of the Russian nuclear plants whose blueprints Iran is using for its facilities, he said, "one could well imagine that there could be catastrophic industrial accidents."

Officials and independent analysts agree that a U.S. strike would probably embitter the Iranian public for a generation or more. It also probably would cut U.S. oil companies off from any contracts, even under any future, more moderate Iranian government. Foreign competitors, on the other hand, might not hesitate to do business with a nuclear-armed Iran.

Some conservatives think it would still be worth it to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and prevent Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other neighbors from following suit.

The Pentagon, officials said, is paying less attention to Iran than it is to Syria, which the administration believes is the source of much of the funding for the Iraqi insurgency. With 150,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq for the foreseeable future, top military officials rule out the possibility of a large-scale ground offensive against Iran.

Airstrikes could set back any nuclear program temporarily, but a determined Tehran government could rebuild it in as little as three years, outside experts said. Some warned that Iran had learned the lessons of the Israeli airstrike that destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, after which Tehran dispersed its nuclear activities and fortified its facilities to thwart an air attack.

Another U.S. administration official, however, contradicted such assessments, saying that the most valuable of Iran's nuclear targets could be destroyed in airstrikes.

"We could knock most of the sites out pretty easily," the official said.

But the official said a preemptive strike would be the worst option for the United States, since it would inflame Iranian nationalism. "If we strike Iran, we play right into the mullahs' hands," the official said.

Although some U.S. officials disparage the military options, many are skeptical that diplomatic efforts will succeed.

In recent weeks, tensions continued to rise with reports that Iran had refused to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency access to two secret military sites where the West suspects it may be working on parts of a covert nuclear weapons program.

Late last month, the United States reluctantly voted for an IAEA resolution endorsing the deal brokered by Germany, France and Britain that offered Tehran trade and other incentives in exchange for a freeze in its uranium enrichment programs. The deal, which means Iran will not be taken before the Security Council, does not impose specific penalties if Tehran were to renege on the agreement, as Washington believes it will. Nor does it settle the issue of inspections.

The Europeans warn that unless America comes to the bargaining table with a deal good enough to convince Iranians that developing nuclear weapons is not in their national interests, the ayatollahs will end up with the Bomb, try as the West may to stop them.

Lacking appealing military or diplomatic options, the Bush administration is relying on its powers of persuasion. Officials contend that they are not biding their time.

"We haven't given up on the scales falling from people's eyes at some point," the first senior administration official said, arguing that the evidence of Iran's covert nuclear program and cover-ups was mounting. "We think eventually Iran will prove true to form and make our case for us."

Critics say the U.S. ability to indict Iran for a clandestine weapons program has been undercut by the administration's track record on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. And some speculate whether the U.S. hard-liners would prefer Security Council inaction so they could declare the U.N. irrelevant and move against Iran with a new "coalition of the willing."

A second round of European-Iranian negotiations is to begin in mid-December, with the United States still on the sidelines. The Europeans argue that U.S. participation is essential to success.

"If we go it alone, the Iranians are never going to do anything meaningful on the nuclear program," one European diplomat said. He acknowledged that failure was possible even with Washington's help, but said that failure was virtually guaranteed without it.

"They are not happy with what we are doing, but they have no alternative strategy," the diplomat complained.

"Probably some of them hope we are going to fail … and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy."

Times staff writers Josh Meyer and Mark Mazzetti in Washington contributed to this report.

7 posted on 12/13/2004 11:10:03 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran: Girl With Mental Age of Eight Given Death Sentence After Mother Forced Her Into Prostitution From Early Age

A 19-year old girl, “Leyla M”, who has a mental age of eight, reportedly faces imminent execution for “morality-related” offences after being forced into prostitution by her mother as a child. According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak and the sentence has now been passed to the Supreme Court for confirmation.

Leyla M was reportedly sentenced to death on charges of “acts contrary to chastity” by controlling a brothel, having intercourse with blood relatives and giving birth to an illegitimate child. She is to be flogged before she is executed. She had apparently “confessed” to the charges. Earlier reports stated that there would be an appeal, and the 28 November report indicates that this process is now at an end.

Social workers have reportedly tested her mental capacities repeatedly and each time have found Leyla to have a mental age of eight. However, she has apparently never been examined by the court-appointed doctors, and was sentenced to death solely on the basis of her explicit confessions, without consideration of her background or mental health.

Leyla was forced into prostitution by her mother when she was eight years old, according to the 28 November report, and was raped repeatedly thereafter. She gave birth to her first child when she was nine, and was sentenced to 100 lashes for prostitution at around the same time. At the age of 12, her family sold her to an Afghan man to become his “temporary wife”. His mother became her new pimp, “selling her body without her consent”.

At the age of 14 she became pregnant again, and received a further 100 lashes, after which she was moved to a maternity ward to give birth to twins. After this “temporary marriage”, her family sold her again, to a 55-year-old man, married with two children, who had Leyla’s customers come to his house.

The newspaper report makes no mention of her family or the men to whom she was married. In Iranian law, in a case of “intercourse with a blood relative” both parties are considered culpable, but only Leyla M has been referred to in the reports of which Amnesty International is aware.

Amnesty International members in the UK are writing urgently to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be halted immediately. Amnesty International UK’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Manager Jennifer Campbell said:

“Leyla’s story is a litany of violence and abuse. Sold into prostitution at the age of eight, she has experienced horrific sexual violence throughout her short life. Now she faces flogging and execution.

“We must stop this. Amnesty members are campaigning to save Leyla from execution, writing to the Iranian authorities to let them know that we will not stand by mutely and let this happen. We urge other people to join us and take action straight away.

“Three child offenders have been executed in Iran already this year. We must act now to stop there being a fourth.”

For details of how to help stop the execution of “Leyla M”, please go to:

Background Information

Iranian law recognises two types of marriage - “permanent” and “temporary” (for any defined period from 24 hours to 99 years). A man can have up to four “permanent” wives and numerous temporary ones.

As a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under 18 years old. The Iranian authorities are now considering legislation (the draft law on the Establishment of Children’s Courts) that would prohibit the use of the death penalty for offences committed under the age of 18. Article 41 of this law requires the authorities to have child offenders examined by psychiatrists and social workers.

Iran has executed at least three child offenders in 2004. In addition to this, on 12 November 2004, a 14-year-old boy died after receiving 85 lashes for eating in public during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. According to unconfirmed reports, the metal cable used to flog him struck the back of his head, causing a brain haemorrhage.

One in three women suffer serious violence in their lifetime, at home, in the community or in war, just because they are women. Amnesty International is running a global campaign to 'Stop Violence Against Women'. The human rights organisation is calling on governments to repeal laws that permit and encourage violence against women, and on communities to challenge attitudes that allow violence to continue. For more information visit:

8 posted on 12/13/2004 11:10:32 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Will Muslim law do justice to Iranian Sikh family?

Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Will Ms Damanpal Kaur Anand, widow of an Iranian Sikh, Kultaran Singh, get justice when the trial of the killer of her husband starts in a Tehran criminal court on December 15.

She has been given to understand by her lawyers that since her husband was a Gursikh whereas the perpetrator of the heinous crime, a Muslim, justice may elude her.

Ms Anand has not only sought intervention of the Government of India through the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, but also of the Sikh diaspora worldwide as well as of a Nobel laureate and a human rights lawyer, Mrs Shirein Ebadi.

“Can there be two sets of laws for people belonging to two different religious backgrounds for the same crime in the same country?,” she asks, maintaining that “I have two sons, Jaspreet Singh (20), who is staying with me to seek justice, and Gursimar Singh (15), who is studying in an international school in New Delhi.

“My sons dare not succeed their father’s traditional automotive components business for three generations in Tehran unless justice takes place or else it would be a total loss for us,” she says. “I want to awaken the community as well as the authorities concerned that India and Punjab are watching this and that there is solidarity among global sikhs to seek justice on this issue on the principle of equality,” she said in an interaction with The Tribune on the Net.

Kultaran Singh, a Gursikh born in Iran, was brutally killed on August 7 last year. The killing not only shook the confidence of the small Sikh and Indian community of Iran which has been living there for three generations now but has also created a sense of insecurity among the minorities there.

The alleged killer, whose public confession was covered by the entire Iranian media, will be tried by a Tehran criminal court on December 15. But, unfortunately, the lawyers believe that since the deceased was a Gursikh (a non-Muslim) in an Islamic Republic, and the perpetrator of the crime a Muslim, it is questionable whether justice will be served. At the most, the family could claim and be awarded Diya compensation up to Rs 10 lakh (around US $23,000). The widow and the community, however, want that the killer should be given exemplary punishment.

“The Sikhs in Iran are a small business community of a hundred plus families and if justice is denied, it will expose this small religious minority to further risk. The Sikh residents of Iran must be accorded the benefits enjoyed by Iranian citizens,” says Ms Anand.

“Furthermore, Islam has also laid down universal fundamental rights for humanity which are to be observed and respected in all circumstances. Kultaran Singh was born in Iran, became a citizen of an Islamic state where he lived till his death, and thus he should enjoy equal rights along with those who acquire Iranian citizenship by birth. The life, property, and honour of Kultaran Singh are to be respected and protected in exactly the same way as that of a Muslim citizen. Nor should there be a difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim citizen with respect to civil or criminal law as prescribed in Islam,” argues Ms Anand.

The entire Sikh diaspora has appealed to the highest authorities of India and Iran to intervene in this case and restore the confidence, future, and security of the Sikh community in Iran by seeking justice for the murder of Kultaran Singh, following requests from Mrs Damanpal Kaur Anand. “I have sent various petitions to the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Ministry of External Affairs of India in New Delhi, Mr Krishan Chander Singh, Indian Ambassador in Iran, seeking their support and intervention.

“Furthermore, I need the help of Gursikh scholars of the Sikh diaspora to send me a draft petition that can be submitted to the highest religious authorities of Iran for intervention. It should convince them that the Sikhs believe in One God and our Holy Guru Granth Sahib quotes and recognises one Creator who is remembered by different people in different ways. Some know the creator as Allah”, says Ms Anand.

In her letter to Dr Manmohan Singh, Ms Anand said, “Life of any human being and security of Indian nationals cannot be compromised with for any reason whatsoever and Indian nationals must be accorded reciprocal facilities and applications of reciprocal byelaws. Honourable Prime Minister may provide for the relief of all Indians living in Iran and ensure their future and security or else there is no future for us if justice is denied”.

In another letter to a Nobel laureate, Ms Shirien Ebadi, a lawyer for human rights, Ms Anand said if the justice was denied, it would put the small Indian and Sikh religious minority in Iran to further risk. Kultaran Singh by being born in Iran should enjoy equal rights along with those who acquire Iranian citizenship by birth. The life, property, and honour of Kultaran Singh are to be respected and protected in exactly the same way as that of a Muslim citizen.

“There is a strong plea that when we recognise the creation of Allah prescribed in our holy scriptures and the name of Allah appears then why my husband should not be given equal status as a Muslim, as he followed the path of Allah the merciful,” she added.

9 posted on 12/13/2004 11:11:02 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
"The negotiations we are embarking upon today can be indicative of the new chapter of our relations, not only with the three European countries, but with the European Union as a whole," Mr. Rowhani,...

IAF, time to get those refueling tankers in the air.

We mustn't give the Europeans too much time to screw things up.

10 posted on 12/13/2004 11:14:22 PM PST by EGPWS
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To: DoctorZIn

The Adventures of Chester

War and Foreign Affairs

The Future of the Iranian Nuclear Program, Part V

[The long-awaited return to the Iran series! See Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.]

This post will examine the military capabilities of Iran. We want to know several levels of information:
a. What is the size of the Iranian military? What equipment and forces does it possess, and how much of each?
b. What is the disposition of the Iranian military? How well is it maintained, how frequently is it exercised, and in what capacity?
c. What is the experience of the Iranian military? Are its personnel battle-scarred veterans of past campaigns, or are they novices?
d. What is the philosophy of war of the Iranian military? How is war conceptualized within its services?

The information that I've found doesn't lend itself to these exact categories, but they are worth stating explicitly nonetheless.

First, the size and equipment of the Iranian military, its maintenance readiness, its exercise frequency and current dispostion: The magazine of the Air Force Association has quite a bit of good information in a December, 2002 article entitled, "The Iran Problem." The article has some tidbits about Iran's ground forces:
Epic, World War I-style battles with Saddam destroyed about 60 percent of Iran's heavy land weapons, according to Western estimates.

Today, with a population of more than 65 million to draw from, Iran has about 513,000 men in uniform. Another 200,000 to 350,000 are in the reserves, estimates Center for Strategic and International Studies expert Anthony H. Cordesman.

The army totals around 450,000 men. Of these, about 125,000 are Revolutionary Guards--ideological elite units formed after the fall of the Shah in 1979 to protect Iran's new theocracy. Iran's inventory of main battle tanks stands at roughly 1,100, with 1,200 other armored vehicles and more than 2,500 major artillery weapons.

The army also has about 100 AH-1J attack helicopters, but the readiness of these aircraft is unlikely to be very high.
So here are some raw numbers with which to start. Seems similar to Saddam's ground forces in overall organization, but Iran's are probably much better in terms of maintenance and training. How much of the ground force is conscripts? This would be good to know.

Here's more on ground forces, from an article entitled "The Revolution of Military Affairs and the Middle East: If this is a Revolution, then we are the Counterrevolutionists." (PDF available here:
The Iranian main battle tanks are the Russian T-72 tanks of which iran possesses roughly 400. These constitute roughly 25% of the armored forces of the Iranian military. Iran possesses and unknown number of anti-tank weapons as well as a number of wire-guided ATMLs, [anti-tank missiles] all old-generation weapons.
Now back to the Air Froce Association, for some excerpts about air and naval forces:
. . . earlier this year, Iran took delivery of a shipment of North Korean gunboats that US intelligence believes will be converted into guided-missile warships. Combined with other recent naval and coastal defense acquisitions, which range from Russian Kilo-class submarines to Chinese Silkworm anti-ship missiles, the new boats could help Iran control important sections of the Persian Gulf in a crisis--including the strategic Strait of Hormuz. [2002]

Today, Iran has only about 150 aging US-built aircraft left. These include 66 F-4D/Es and 25 F-14-A/Bs, which are about 60 percent serviceable, according to a net assessment drawn up by Cordesman. Iran has long tried to evade the US embargo on parts for these airplanes by purchasing through third parties.

The backbones of the Iranian air force today are 24 Su-24 Fencers and 30 MiG-29 Fulcrums. These Soviet-era aircraft are about 80 percent serviceable, claims Cordesman. If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the Fencers could be used as an interim delivery capability, pending perfection of an adequate ballistic missile.

Iranian units also include 14 RF-4E and five P-3F reconnaissance aircraft. The air force has a limited aerial refueling capability. Air defense relies mainly on 100 Hawk missiles from the Shah's era, with a scattering of newer, shorter-range Soviet- and Chinese-made models.

Iran has for years had an across-the-board program of WMD development. Although it is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, it has produced and stockpiled blister, blood, and choking chemical agents, according to US intelligence. It has a biological weapons arsenal and may be able to indigenously produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by late this decade, says a CIA estimate.

Iranian officials have spoken openly of their desire for missiles with a range beyond that of their Shahab-3, which can hit targets up to 800 miles away. The CIA believes Iran may flight-test a missile of intercontinental capability later this decade. The Iranian military has already deployed unmanned aerial vehicles, including some configured for attack, and may be seeking more sophisticated such aircraft to serve as a WMD delivery capability.
So we glean from this that Iran's aircraft are aging, and its air defenses are limited. Aside from numbers of missiles, it would be better to know the capability of the network connecting them – is it countrywide or localized?

Of note in the above article is that the CIA estimates that Iran may flight-test an intercontinental missile later this decade. This year, only two years after the CIA was quoted, Iran successfully tested a 1200-mile range 'strategic missile'.

More on the Air Force, from the article about RMA in the Middles East:
. . . the Iranian air force is based on American F-14A Tomcats and F4E Phantoms and Russian Mig 29s. All excet the Mig 29s are older-generation jets. These are supported by a helicopter attack fleet of limited size and reach. These planes are equipped with Phoenix and Sidewinder air-to-air and Sparrow missiles, and with maverick and Russian Fajr a-Darya air-to-surface missles. Iran possesses a very small fleet of reconnaissance UAVs, but is clearly behind all the modernizing armies in the Middle East in terms of such aircraft.
It appears that the Iranian military has one large-scale military exercise every two years. We can glean some more info from articles about Iran's various wargames in the past few years.

In 1998
From CNN:
Troop movements already observed include tanks and artillery pieces along with "thousands of troops" of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, said the official.

The exercises are expected to last for several days.

In 2000
Iranian Navy to Hold Exercises in Persian Gulf
He said the naval exercises, code-named "Vahdat 79" (Unity 79), will be held in an area of 5,000 square meters, covering the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and strategic Strait of Hormuz, the state IRNA news agency reported.

Some 130 ships and submarines, 58 airplanes, choppers and unmanned planes as well as 7,000 troops will take part in the large-scale war games.

Safari said the C-802 surface-to-surface missile will be deployed on IRGC's "Tondar" vessel for test fire. But he did not disclose any technical details about the missile.

In 2002
This article implies some level of interoperability or coordination between their services:
The Iranian army staged military exercises in the Sea of Oman on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of retaking of a border city during the Iran- Iraq War, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Ground, navy and air forces took part in the war games to mark the liberation of Khorramshahr in Iran's Khuzestan Province, where fierce battles took place during the 1980-1988 war.

Destroyers, submarines, warships, gunboats, amphibious personnel carriers were involved in the exercises, IRNA said.

The military exercise is expected to continue with navy exercises on Wednesday.

In 2004 (as previously reported in The Adventures of Chester from an article worth reading at, here.)

Iran Exercise Reaches Climax:

Officials said the main stage of Payrovan-i Vilayat-2004 took place on Wednesday in southwestern Iran near the Iraqi border. They said air and ground units launched a night-time offensive on a mock enemy in a demonstration of Iran's rapid deployment capability.

They included the use of infantry, artillery, and armored units in an offensive backed by fighter-jets and helicopters. At the same time, engineering and bridging units erected bridges for infantry crossing.

Do the Iranians really have a joint military as they would have us think? Are their forces as capable as they seem from their press releases? Are these exercises meant to impress their own populace as much as the US or Israel?

Another excellent article in the Autumn 2004 Parameters, the journal of the US Army War College, takes issue with the idea that the Iranian military is well-maintained at all:
Iran’s geographic girth lends itself to a country with large standing armed forces, but Iran’s military today is weaker than it was in the wake of the revolutionary euphoria of 1979. The Iranians militarily lived off the Shah’s US-provided arms and equipment to survive the Iran-Iraq War, but the war nearly exhausted their inventories and put enormous wear and tear on equipment holdings. They have managed to make due, in part, by cannibalizing American equipment to keep fewer armaments running, but these stopgap efforts are increasingly more difficult to muster to prolong the longevity of the military inventory. The Iranians also are using illicit means to bypass US restrictions on the export of military equipment to Iran. Iran has been hard-pressed to find direct external weapon suppliers to replace the United States. Michael Eisenstadt observes that in recent years Russia has been Iran’s main source of conventional arms, but Moscow has agreed not to conclude any new arms deals and to halt all conventional weapons transfers since September 1999.

Iran's most powerful asset is its ballistic missile force, which could be engineered to carry weapons of mass destruction. See this very informative report on Iran's Ballistic Missile Capabilities, which states that Iran is believed to possess some 20 or so Shahab-3 long range missiles, with a range of 800 miles and an accuracy of 2,500 meters – not very good, but great for harassing assembly areas or delivering WMD.

The Experience of the Military

Much of the literature of the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-88 discusses the incredible human-wave attacks used by both sides. Any military personnel who remain no doubt remember this and wish to avoid it as a tactic. As the Parameters article states,
Tehran must have shuddered when witnessing the American military slashing through Saddam’s forces in the 2003 war. Iran already had a sense of its conventional military inferiority compared to American forces. Years ago Tehran received a direct taste of that from the American re-flagging operations in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War, when the US Navy readily destroyed much of Iran’s conventional naval capabilities, leaving Iran to harass shipping with irregular hit-and-run gunboat attacks. In the spring 2003 war, American and British forces accomplished in about a month what Iranian forces had failed to do in eight years of war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988. Tehran cannot fail to appreciate that Iranian conventional forces would have little chance of resisting a US military assault.
And they are no doubt preparing their conventional forces to resist as best as possible – either through a linked, joint interoperability, or through the guerrilla warfare they have seen be so successful in Iraq.

Philosophy of War

Making the jump from human-wave attacks to a joint military force is quite a long leap, both conceptually and from a training and funding standpoint. While the Iranians may understand what makes the US so lethal, they probably cannot put together the necessary parts to replicate our lethality, as much as they might like to. Nevertheless, we don't want to completely discount their conventional forces. Let's leave it like this: their conventional forces are a more formidable adversary than the Iraqi forces, and are somewhere near the level of a second- or third-rate western power. returning to "The Revolution of Military Affairs and the Middle East:
There is little doubt that these two states may have wanted -- under ideal circumstances -- to take full part in the RMA in the Middle East, at least to the extent that states such as Egypt and Turkey have done in the last decade. The Keyproblem, however, is the limited access of hese states to RMA technologies, due to their strained relations with the United States. The major weapons supplier of those states is Russia, whoe RMA capabilities have been both obsolete and limited. Moreover repeated pressure from the United States on Russia and Western European states has limited both the number and the types of systems these supplieres were wiling to provide Syria and Iran. Consequently, these states have had significant problems in modernizing their armed forces . . . the Iranian and Syrian armed forces are laden with obsolete weapons systems and have barely entered the modern era in terems of their major conventional weapons systems. Both states rely on traditional force structures, rely heavily on Soviet military doctrine, and take fairly traditional approaches to conventional warfare.

Further resources:

Asia Times article about the A.Q. Khan network

The Iranian Air Force:
IIAF Imperial Iranian Air Force
Scramble on the Web - Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) and a chronology of its missile tests: Iran Missile Milestones.

The Iran-Iraq Air War
Iran-Iraq War In The Air 1980-1988 by Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop

Loads of Info on Iran – all kinds (though much of the military content is outdated)
AllRefer - Iran - Very Detailed Country Guide to Iran (around 200 Pages) | Iranian Information Resource

An MSNBC Summary
Secret empire: The Iran files

11 posted on 12/13/2004 11:22:06 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


Iran seeks evidence from accusers
04:10:28 È.Ù
Tehran, Dec 14 - Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said here Tuesday that accusations leveled recently by certain Egyptian and Iraqi officials against Iran were totally "baseless," and called on these accusers to offer evidence to prove their charges.

This kind of attitude will only poison the region's atmoshphere, "Kharrazi said, and expressed regret that the Egyptians (who are often called to act as intermediaries) are playing this role," noted the foreign minister who talked to reporters after a meeting with his South African counterpart, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

As for the US opposition to Iran's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), Kharrazi said that EU representatives were favorable to Iran's application for membership but that this has repeatedly been blocked by the US.

He said that European countries have promised to follow up Iran's membership application "seriously."

As for the second round of talks between officials of Iran and the EU big 3 (Britain, Germany, France), Kharrazi said "Tehran is willing to cooperate with the EU's big 3."

Expressing hope that the second phase of talks, which started Monday in Brussels, would proceed seriously, the minister stressed that "Tehran was also against wasting of time and prefers to see the talks come to an end as soon as possible."

Asked if Iran has discussed with US the issue regarding its nuclear programs or whether Washington was tacitly in the E3 talks with Tehran, Kharrazi said: "There was no word of the US joining the talks."

However, Kharrazi added, "when the US is even talking about changing the regime in Iran, then there would be no need for negotiations at all."


12 posted on 12/14/2004 11:56:55 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Will Iran Win the Iraq War?

December 14, 2004
Reuel Marc Gerecht

Today in Washington there are many within the foreign-policy establishment expressing their fear -- and hope -- that America's entanglement in Iraq may well compromise the Bush administration's ability to confront the Islamic Republic's quest for nuclear weapons. If it chose to, Tehran -- so the theory goes -- could make life enormously difficult for the U.S. in Iraq through its clandestine networks and Shiite allies. The U.S. simply cannot entertain the possibility of pre-emptively striking clerical Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities for fear of producing a two-front, hopeless mess in Iraq, where the Shiites have so far overwhelming refused to join the Sunni insurgency. The administration needs thus to become more "realist" and "pragmatic" in its approach to the clerical regime, and follow the European lead in using commercial carrots to alter clerical Iran's nuclear behavior.

But does this reasoning make sense? Are Iraq and Iran so intertwined that America is essentially handcuffed in its dealings with Tehran's mullahs? In all probability, not at all. ...

* * *

The strongest trump playing in favor of America and against Iran is Iraqi nationalism. Nationalism is easily the most successful European export to the Middle East, rearranging, subordinating, and sometimes eliminating older ties of faith, family and tribe. Iraq's Shiites are the progenitors of modern Iraqi nationalism. They, much more than their Sunni Arab compatriots, who were the driving force behind pan-Arabism in Mesopotamia, have shaped an Iraqi Arab identity which is distinct from the Sunni Arabs to the west and Shiite Iranians to the east.

Iraqi Shiites, especially their clergy, do have a long relationship with Iran . Traditionally, the most promising Iranian religious students and clerics have studied at the seminaries of Najaf and Karbala to perfect their knowledge of Arabic and their exegesis of religious texts. Clerical Iraqi and Iranian families have often intermarried -- though there is much less intermarriage now than there was in the early 20th century before highly nationalist dictatorships in both countries started forming contemporary identities. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's pre-eminent divine, is of Persian birth and early education. Many of his closest, oldest advisers are also of Iranian ancestry and education. Iraq's once-great Shiite merchant families inevitably have Iranian members. As was once typical of the cosmopolitan, Westernized Shiite merchant class, the Iraqi National Congress's Ahmed Chalabi, a product of an Iraqi-Persian family, doesn't recoil from Iranian mullahs, as do most upper-class Sunni Baghdadis.

But association among the Shia should never be viewed as ideological sympathy. The Iraqi Shia retain enormous bitterness toward the U.S. for the failure of President George H.W. Bush to aid them during the great rebellion of '91, when the Shiites and Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. Tens of thousands of Shiites were slaughtered. But this bitterness also extends to Iran's clerical regime, which did virtually nothing to help their Iraqi "brethren."

There has been a sentiment among many Iraqi Shiites -- and it never has been much more than sentiment even among the most devoutly religious -- that Iran is supposed to look after the Iraqi Shia, to help them in times of trouble as would an uncle. The Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988 frayed, if not ended, this sentiment. Rare are the instances of Iraqi Shiite protests at Saddam's war with Iran . The Baathist Orwellian tyranny had much to do with this, but there is also the undeniable truth that neither Shiite party really wanted to bleed for the other. Nationalism and modern Arabism had become the biggest parts of the Iraqi Shiite identity.

And Iranians usually don't waste much time expressing their disappointment in the Iraqi Shia, given the damage the war did to Iran , that Iraq's army was majority Shiite, and that Saddam's elite Sunni Republican Guards were on several occasions near the cracking point. When the Iraqi Shia felt Saddam's wrath in '91, there was more than a little schadenfreude on the Persian side. The truth be told, Tehran's clerical regime didn't mind the status quo in Iraq in the '90s: a weakened Saddam that couldn't invade Iran but could keep Iraq's Shiite community, especially its clergy, quiescent and uncompetitive with the Islamic Republic.

Which brings us to the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq. Clerical Iran's primary objective is to ensure that Iraq remains destabilized, incapable of coalescing around a democratically elected government. Such a government supported by Iraq's Shiite establishment is a dagger aimed at Tehran's clerical dictatorship. Intra-Shiite squabbles do matter, and this one between Iraqi clerics who believe in one man, one vote and those who believe in theocracy is an enormous difference of opinion. We should not be fooled by the publicly cordial relations that usually exist between clerics of Najaf and Tehran. Najaf's position on democracy is an explicit negation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's and his associates' right to rule Iran .

The clerical regime is currently handcuffed to Iraq's democratic process and timetable. All of the principal groups through which Iran hopes to exercise influence in Iraq -- the Iranian-created Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Dawa (or "Islamic Call") party, and the Sadriyyin, followers of Muqtada al Sadr, the young clerical firebrand who has been engaged in a spiritual tug-of-war with the country's traditional clergy -- are committed now to the election process. Iran has probably been pouring money into Iraq, to all three of these Shiite groups, which don't share much affection for each other, and in the case of the Dawa and the Sadriyyin, have had distinctly mixed, often hostile, emotions about things Iranian. Both the Dawa and the Sadriyyin have regularly belittled Grand Ayatollah Sistani for his "Persianness" and snarled at clerical Iran's habit of talking down to the Iraqi Shia.

Tehran's motivation in giving aid to these parties is to encourage some dependency and, more important, keep the three most provocative Shiite groups in the forefront of Iraqi politics. Some of the Dawa rank and file and the young, streetwise men behind Sadr are, like the Baath Party that made them, explosively violent, easily as tough and potentially as fierce as the Baathists and Sunni militants who are so doggedly trying to shred civil society and unleash sectarian conflict.

Iraq's Sunni minority is anxious about the creation of a Shiite-led country, which is unavoidable if Iraq goes democratic. The Shia who scare the Sunni Arabs the most are SCIRI, the Dawa and the Sadriyyin. All three groups convey to Sunni Arabs, and to the Sunni Kurds, a certain Shiite intensity. Though all three have been remarkably well-behaved toward their Arab Sunni compatriots -- given how many Arab Sunnis were complicit in barbaric behavior toward the Shia, the number of revenge killings has been astonishingly small -- the three probably seem to Arab Sunnis as the Shia least likely to forgive them for their Baathist guilt.

Iranian support for these groups increases the odds for implanting in Iraq sectarian politics and conflict. What clerical Iran ideally wants to see next door is strife that can produce an Iraqi Hezbollah. The Sadriyyin are philosophically closest to the Lebanese Hezbollah, but they aren't in ideology, organization, or loyalty to Tehran, nearly as "evolved." The birth of the Lebanese Hezbollah, which Iran's ruling mullahs view as their greatest -- only -- foreign success, required a civil war and an Israeli invasion. In Iraq, Iran's ruling clerics have an American invasion. What they lack is civil war.

Tehran is trying to align itself with a variety of often contradictory parties because it cannot overtly oppose the democratic process in Iraq, in which an increasing number of Iraqi Shiites are passionately invested. Like Washington, Tehran really doesn't know what is going to happen on Jan. 30 and after, though it no doubt hopes that Sunni Arabs abstain from voting en masse, thereby supercharging sectarianism. If a civil war could be provoked, Iraq's democratic experiment and moderate Shiite religious establishment would probably both collapse. If the neighboring one-man, one-vote clerics can be downed and America can be physically and spiritually drained in Iraq, then the two most feared, disruptive forces in Iranian politics -- Western-oriented Iranian youth and pro-democracy dissident clerics -- can be further weakened. The more the Americans bleed next door, and the clerical regime definitely believes America is on the run in Iraq, the less likely they'll have the will to take out Iran's nuclear program.

* * *

In Iraq, the U.S. ought to have two obvious goals. To crush the Sunni insurgency before it can provoke the birth of an exclusive, angry Shiite political identity willing to do to the Arab Sunnis what the Baath once did to the Shia. If such an identity is born, it is most unlikely democracy can prevail. Washington must thus ensure that the democratic process in Iraq, regardless of the violence, keeps on rolling. As long as it does, clerical Iran will not be able to gain much traction inside the country. SCIRI, the Dawa and the Sadriyyin are not puppets controlled by Tehran; the rising power of southern Iraq's Shiite tribes, which historically have looked askance at clerical direction from any quarter, will further frustrate Iranian influence.

Persians stick out in Iraq like sore thumbs (very few Iranians can speak Arabic with any facility). They must have Iraqi surrogates to advance their interests, which are in opposition to those of most Iraqis. The U.S. could bomb uranium-enrichment facilities in Iran and it's much more likely Washington will see protests in the anti-Shiite Sunni Arab world than among Iraq's Shiites. This is a paradox that Washington should understand. If we don't, a nuclear-armed Iranian theocracy is likely to win in Iraq, and beyond.

Mr. Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

13 posted on 12/14/2004 12:17:49 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

The Mullahs' Killing Fields

December 14, 2004
Donna M. Hughes

A former political prisoner and the daughter of two slain parents vowed to make sure the voices of Iranians who have suffered under the Islamic fundamentalist regime heard. The two women said they stand by other activists who continue to be arrested, tortured, and executed in Iran for supporting freedom and democracy.

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day (Friday, December 10), the torture and execution of political prisoners in Iran was the focus of a briefing in New York hosted by the non-governmental organization Women’s Freedom Forum. The treatment of women, especially women political activists, was featured.

The walls of the room were lined with documentary posters with names and photographs of men, women, and children who had been killed by the mullahs in Iran. A number of the photographs were family groups – mother, father, and two, three, four, five, even six children ‑ that had been killed by the Iranian regime for their political activism.

The program included videos and photographs of trials, lashings and executions over the past 25 years. Some images were from the early days of the revolution, some from the late 1980s, and one photograph showing the hanging of a group of seven men in Zahedan just three days before the event on December 7, 2004.

The victims are hoisted into the air by a crane in a public place in order to terrorize the population and suppress further resistance to the regime. Another Iranian-American pro-democracy non-governmental organization ‑The Committee in Support of Referendum in Iran‑sends out news clippings on a regular basis that document the executions of men, women, and sometimes children, as the Iranian regime executes minors. There are often two or three pages of listings of sentences and executions. Their most recent report for November 2004 listed 15 executions or sentences for execution. A number of them are punishment for political activity against the regime inside and outside Iran.

    On November 10 a man in Tehran was sentenced to death for allegedly killing a Tehran district mayor.

    On November 21 a political prisoner was sentenced to death for allegedly bombing a government building in 1998. He is the brother of man known to belong to an opposition group who was killed earlier. The report speculated that issuing a death sentence six and a half years after an alleged crime was retaliation against the opposition group for revealing information on the regime’s clandestine atomic sites.

    On November 22 two men were sentenced to death for allegedly clashing with security forces.

According to state run media in Iran, 120 people were hanged in public during a recent six-month period.

At the briefing, Farangis, a former political prisoner described her experience and treatment by Revolutionary Guards in three different prisons. She was born in 1959 in the southwestern Iranian city of Masjid Suleiman in Khuzistan province. She became a political activist after the revolution when she saw the nature of the regime that Khomeini was constructing. She now lives in the U.S. with her family.

In 1978, I was accepted to the Medical Sciences University in Ahwaz to study nursing. At the university, the students were pressured by Hezbollah to join their Islamic political movement. Within a year, the Shah was overthrown and Hezbollah called for a cultural revolution in support of the new Khomeini regime, which included a purge of students from the university who didn’t support Khomeini. A number of students were arrested. They were abused and a few were executed. All the universities were then closed. I retuned home where I joined a union with other students to inform people about the activities of the regime.

At this time, my brother, who was 17 at the time, became politically active. He was later arrested in 1982, and within five months I was arrested also for political activity. During questioning, they tortured us to get information. When we would not answer their questions they said that since you are Muslims and you are not answering our questions you are subject to “tazir” –flogging. They lashed us 150 times with cables.

When I was whipped, I felt the pain for the first few lashes, then after the 12th or 13th ones, my body would go numb. Eventually, I would faint or freeze so that I couldn’t move. Then they would throw me back in the cell. At night, they took us out of the cells and make us stand on one leg in the hall. When we got so tired we put my legs down, they lashed us. I fainted from this routine a couple of times.

They kept us blindfolded when we were in the hall so we couldn’t see what was happening. Several times, I felt something burning my hands. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but later I learned that they put their cigarettes out on us. You can still see the scars on my hands. [Farangis held up her hands to the audience.]

They held a kangaroo court for the political prisoners. They placed a paper in front of me with 40 charges against me listed on it. I was forced to sign it. I was sentenced to four years in prison.

The arrest of my brother and I placed a lot of pressure on my family. My father became physically and mentally ill. He eventually had a heart attack and died. In prison, when I heard about my father’s death, I was not allowed to cry. Later, when they put me in solitary confinement, I could cry. As a result of the physical treatment and mental stress, I became paralyzed in parts of my body. I couldn’t talk, eat, or take care of myself. My mother requested that I be taken to a hospital, but they wouldn’t do it. They released me from solitary confinement and put me back in a cell with other women. The other prisoners helped me to take care of myself and used physical therapy to help me regain the use of my body.

Then some of us were moved to Evin prison in Tehran. The trip took 12 hours, and every few hours they would stop, take us out of the car, and beat us. When we arrived at Evin prison, we were beaten again. No one could stand up.

In Evin prison we had to wear a blindfold when we were out of the cell. We were told that if the blindfold came off we would be executed. As result of not being able to see, I fell on the stairs and broke my arm. I was taken to the prison clinic and treated by another prisoner. He said my arm needed surgery, but that was not permitted, so he set it as best he could and sent me back to my cell. You can see the difference in my two arms. [Farangis held up both arms for us to compare them. The right arm was visibly crooked.] To this day, I can’t pick up anything that weighs much with this arm.

After two or three months in Evin prison they moved us to Ghezel Hessar prison in Karaj, where I was placed in a cell with women as old as 60 or 70 and women with children aged one to four. One woman in her 60s couldn’t walk, so we helped her do everything. Babies and children up to the age of four were in prison with their mothers. They were often malnourished because the food was so bad. They suffered from the unsanitary conditions and often had fungus infections.

In 1985, with the promise of my mother to supervise me, they released me from prison. The first thing I did was go to see my father’s grave. I felt responsible for his death. I was depressed and wouldn’t talk to anyone. I just sat in the corner of the house. My mother took me to a psychiatrist to receive treatment.

Five months later, I married an acquaintance and we moved to Shiraz. My husband is here with me today. [She pointed him out in the audience.] I had to present myself to the Revolutionary Guards’ office every week. This was hard for my husband. During this time, I saw that things had become very difficult for women. I saw women sell themselves on the street to buy milk for their children. And children dropped out of school to sell things on the street to earn money for their families.

When I left prison, the Revolutionary Guards made me promise never to reveal anything that I knew, but I became angry at what I saw and became politically active again. I decided to tell people what I had seen in prison. I wanted to defend women in society against what was happening to them. The Guards found out about my activity so they raided our house and arrested me. I was seven months pregnant.

When they took me for questioning, I could hear my husband outside yelling for them to release me because I was pregnant. The second time I was imprisoned I received worse treatment. Every time I was questioned, I was kicked, whipped, and tortured. Because of the blows I received to my back, I gave birth to my baby early. My son was weak. They kept him in the hospital and sent me back to prison. I was suffering physically and mentally. I was still in pain from childbirth and then I was separated from my baby. Every day they took me to the hospital to feed him, and then took me back to prison. Finally, as result of efforts from my husband I was reunited with my son. At that time I was taken for questioning for 15 to 16 hours at a time. My son stayed with the Revolutionary Guards. When I got him back, his diaper had not been changed and his skin became burned. He was always crying because he was hungry and not in good condition. As a result of how I was being treated, I didn’t always have milk. I am still being treated for a condition I developed at that time. I went to the judge and begged for more food for my son, but he said that my son was a criminal too, and predicted that when he grew up, he would be against the regime too, so it was right to treat him as a criminal now.

In 1988, my husband got me out of prison by selling our house to raise enough money to pay the bribes that were needed. When they released me they told me that I couldn’t leave the country for 20 years. If I was arrested again, they would execute me immediately without a trial. They said they would make my husband ask for me to be executed.

In the summer of 1988, the Iranian regime executed thousands of political prisoners. [According to some estimates, 30,000 political prisoners were executed over a few month period.] My younger brother was one of the ones killed. [She pointed to a picture of him that she brought with her. The family resemblance was obvious.] In our small city, 30 people were executed each night. The whole community was in mourning, but they wouldn’t return the bodies to the families. They buried them in a mass grave. We were not permitted to mourn. No one could visit the families or talk about what happened. My brother had a four-year-old daughter. Every day, she asked me where her father was. I told her that he had gone to the sky and at night she looked into the sky trying to find her father.

I’m here today to be the voice of all those in Iran who have suffered and been killed. I’m the voice of young people and children who grew up in prison. I am one of the victims of the regime. I lost my father and my brother to this regime. Every time I look at the picture of my brother, I say, “I won’t forget you.” I won’t let people forget what happened to him and many others.

I know there are people who care. I know they care about human rights in Iran. I know they care about what is happening to people in Iran.

The event concluded with Hajar, an 18 year old woman, whose father, a medical student, was killed by the Iranian regime when she was two years old and whose mother was killed by the Iranian regime when she was eight years old, saying that although she was a student with exams next week, she needed to be at the event to make sure the voices of her parents are heard. She did not want them to die in vain. She ended by quoting the lyrics of song by Marzieh, one of the most famous singers from Iran, who supports the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

If I take a stand
And you take a stand
Then everyone will stand with us
But if I sit and you sit
Who will stand?
We have to speak
And we have to speak of the pain
We need the world to know what is going on in Iran
That it is wrong and something needs to be done.

Donna M. Hughes, Professor & Carlson Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She also made a presentation at this event on the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls in Iran.

14 posted on 12/14/2004 12:20:05 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...

Will Iran Win the Iraq War?

December 14, 2004
Reuel Marc Gerecht

Doctorin Note: An informative piece.

15 posted on 12/14/2004 12:29:17 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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16 posted on 12/14/2004 10:05:51 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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