Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - December 15, 2004 [EST] - Congressman Warns of Iranian Attack on U.S.
Posted on 12/14/2004 10:13:13 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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Congressman Warns of Iranian Attack on U.S.
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
December 14, 2004
WASHINGTON - A senior Republican congressman has been warning America's intelligence community for more than a year of an alleged Iranian plot to crash commercial airliners into a New Hampshire nuclear reactor.
Since February 2003, Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania has held a series of secret meetings in Paris with a former high-ranking official in the Shah's government who has correctly predicted, according to Mr. Weldon, a number of internal developments in Iran ranging from the regime's atomic weapons programs to its support for international terrorism, including Al Qaeda.
Based on two informants inside the mullahs' inner circle, Mr. Weldon's source, whom he code-named "Ali," relayed allegations to the Pennsylvania lawmaker that an Iranian-backed terrorist cell is seeking to hijack Canadian airliners and crash them into an American reactor. The target of the operation was only identified by Ali as SEA, leading Mr. Weldon to predict it was the Seabrook reactor in New Hampshire, about 40 miles north of Boston. Ali told the congressman that the attack was first planned for between November 23 and December 3, 2003, but was postponed to take place after this year's presidential election.
For nearly two years, Mr. Weldon tried to quietly press the CIA and a Senate panel that oversees Langley to follow up on the intelligence his Iranian source in Paris was providing. But these efforts came to nothing, according to Mr. Weldon. So now Mr. Weldon is going public. The congressman said in an interview last week that he intended to publish a book early next year outlining the intelligence he has collected from various sources that he said will detail an Iranian plot to conduct a more lethal attack on America than September 11, 2001.
"I get a lot of wackos who come to see me, who claim to have information," he said. "In this case, this source came to me from a former member of Congress, a Democrat. I followed up a lead. That lead developed an ongoing process of information-sharing for two years that I took to the highest levels of the intelligence community."
In Washington, the new book from Mr. Weldon, based in part on his meetings with Ali, will provide fresh ammunition for the Republicans against an intelligence community perceived by the White House as hostile to the president's policies.
Last month, the new director of the CIA, Porter Goss, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent many of the most senior analysts and operations officers into early retirement. In a speech he gave to the staff at Langley, Mr. Goss had to remind the employees that the president sets national security policy.
But if Mr. Weldon's source turns out to be right, America could also be losing a valuable intelligence asset on Iran, a country where most intelligence analysts in America concede the CIA has too few human sources.
The congressman's experience with America's spy service in the last year echoes frustrations from other American officials and analysts who have cultivated Iranians willing to provide America with intelligence, but who have been ignored. After a December 2001 meeting in Rome between Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin and Iran-Contra figure Manucher Ghorbanifar, the State Department and CIA went out of their way to shut down the channel. Mr. Franklin is now the target of a grand jury investigation into alleged espionage activities for passing information to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
A summary of Ali's predictions were outlined in a November 2003 letter to the Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Roberts from Kansas. In its opening lines, Mr. Weldon wrote, "This letter is to warn you of an intelligence failure in the process of happening."
Later in the letter, Mr. Weldon, who is the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote, "I am not asserting that such an attack shall occur. But given [Ali's] record of accurate predictions, shouldn't the Intelligence Community at least be investigating his story?"
The letter and an accompanying memo titled, "Ali: a Credible Source," goes into detail about information Mr. Weldon's source provided that was later confirmed in the press. For example, Ali first passed on the Iranian threat to the reactor at a Paris meeting on May 17, 2003.
On August 22, 2003, the Toronto Star reported the arrest of 19 people in Canada for immigration violations who were suspected of being connected in a terrorist conspiracy. One of the men in the cell was taking flight lessons and had flown an airplane directly over an Ontario nuclear power plant, according to the newspaper.
So, impressed with the quality of his source's information, Mr. Weldon met in 2003 with the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, to plead his case to get funding for Ali. But the CIA, according to the Pennsylvania lawmaker, demanded to know the identities of Ali's sources inside Iran, a condition Mr. Weldon said was unreasonable given the high-risk espionage.
"I took this straight to the top," Mr. Weldon said in an interview. "I wanted to work through the channels but I did not get anywhere."
Frustrated with the CIA's response, Mr. Weldon took his case to the Senate panel that oversees the agency.
He pressed them in the 2003 letter to hold a hearing on the matter and urge the CIA to get Ali the money to continue to pay off his sources inside the Islamic republic. According to Mr. Weldon, the committee did not respond in any meaningful way. "One or two senior people called the chief of staff. Not the kind of response I wanted. I had to get this off my shoulders," he said in an interview.
Mr. Weldon said more of Ali's intelligence will be shared in his forthcoming book, which he promised would "shake Washington."
He said that the manuscript, which he has just completed, details how Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, "has set up a separate entity in the government the president does not know about, which includes all the terrorist groups connected to bin Laden and others. They are avowed to consummate a major attack inside the United States. In the book I name this plot."
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Sounds like Weldon is pumping up the PR before he strikes it rich with his new book. Pathetic.
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We will see..
U.S. Has No Intention of Joining EU-Iran TalksDecember 14, 2004
The Associated Press
Ali Akbar Dareini
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran is willing to talk with the United States about a nuclear program that Washington alleges is aimed at secretly acquiring the bomb, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Monday. The White House, however, rejected the idea.
Germany, Britain and France launched new negotiations with Iran on Monday to try to persuade Tehran to abandon any nuclear program that could be used for weapons, in return for aid to build up its civilian energy program.
Kharrazi told a news conference that talks with Washington could also be possible. The United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran after militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
"If negotiations are on the basis of equality and mutual respect in the same way we are talking to Europeans now, there is no reason not to talk to others," Kharrazi said when asked whether Tehran was also willing to talk to the United States about its nuclear program.
The White House made plain it has no intention of joining the talks.
"When it comes to Iran, we are very supportive of the efforts by our European friends to get Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. And we stay in close contact with our European friends on their discussions and the progress that they have made ... That's the way we're approaching this issue," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "What we believe is important is that ultimately Iran agree to end its nuclear weapons program, not just suspend it."
Iran's reformers support dialogue with Washington but hard-liners are opposed to any rapprochement, arguing that the only U.S. goal is to bring about the collapse of the ruling Islamic establishment.
Some Europeans have hoped America's possible engagement in talks with Iran would increase pressure on Tehran to permanently abandon any weapons program and reassure its rulers that Washington was not seeking their overthrow.
Kharrazi, addressing the news conference with his South African counterpart, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said Iran will assess the talks with European countries within three months if new negotiations do not meet Iran's demand to use its nuclear program for domestic energy purposes.
"If we see that talks are waste of time and have no results, definitely we will make our own decisions," he said.
Kharrazi described the talks as "very serious" and dismissed allegations that Tehran was stalling, insisting that Iran had "no interest in wasting time."
Iran agreed to a temporary deal with the Europeans last month to suspend uranium enrichment but has insisted that the freeze is voluntary and short.
Zuma, whose country is an influential member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said South Africa defends "Iran's right for peaceful use of nuclear technology," but was opposed to a weapons program.
And they would do this because...they want regime change imposed on them?
What do you think Doc?
Iran has already declared war on the US.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Iran's supreme leader Khamenei has already declared war against the US back in July:
"We are at war with the enemy," Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenehi told a meeting of mullahs in the city of Hamadan, west of Teheran, last Monday. "The central battlefield [of this war] is Iraq."
Iran has already declared its own preemptive strike doctrine, according to ABC News Online:
Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani has warned that Iran might launch a preemptive strike against US forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities. ABC News reported:
"We will not sit [with arms folded] to wait for what others will do to us," Mr Shamkhani told Al Jazeera television when asked if Iran would respond to an American attack on its nuclear facilities.
"Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly.
"America is not the only one present in the region. We are also present, from Khost to Kandahar in Afghanistan; we are present in the Gulf and we can be present in Iraq.
"The US military presence [in Iraq] will not become an element of strength [for Washington] at our expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage" in Iranian hands in the event of an attack, he said.
And the Supreme Leaders security advisor, Hassan Abbassi said:
There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.'
And they would do this because...they want regime change imposed on them? ...
They don't believe we have the means nor the will to take them on at this time.
And soon they will be a nuclear power.
So they blow up one of our nuclear plants for the heck of it?
IMHO, I seriously doubt this would happen. An attack on an operating nuclear power plant could be percieved as a nuclear attack to the American public. If this did happen I'm sure that Americans would demand that Tehran become a radioactive sheet of glass and in the very least, Iran be bombed to the days of Adam and Eve.
--when Baer was jerked out of the region, back to DC to be interrogated by FBI agents in what Tony Lake said was a plot to assassinate Saddam Hussein. Baer remains certain the bombing was an act of Iran. . .
The Islamic Republic remains the supreme state sponsor of terrorism in the world, coming into existence thanks to Jimmy Carter, armed with Russian, Chinese and North Korean missile technology (see Bill Gertz Betrayal), becoming a nuclear power thanks to the UN and the usual suspects.
Before 911 there was Bojinka; the reactor attack Weldon warns of may simply be a precursor plan.
And where between nuclear Pakistan and antenuclear Iran is OBL?
What is your source on this? Granted, they obviously don't like us and want all kinds of bad stuff to happen to us, but why would they fly a plane into a nuke plant and then face annihilation?
Is he an author or is he a Congressman?
Perhaps when Scott Peterson sits in the chair or when he!! freezes over, whichever comes first, they will.
Weldon needs to get back to what he was elected to do. Playing James Bond isn't it.
What is the nearest AFB to NH? And how long would it take for fighters to be scrambled to shoot the damn things down? Inquiring minds want to know.
Oh, I think they know we have the means, they just rightly believe we dont have the will, at least nationally, until another attack.
Pease AFB, NH
Loring AFB ME
Westover Ma AFB
Plattsburgh AFB New York
Otis AFB Ma
Westfield Ma ANG
Does anyone remember the guy who warned about 9/11 (he died in the World Trade Center). No one listened to him either. After he kept pounding his head against the wall with the CIA, he ended up taking a security position in the WTC. Just maybe this Congressman knows what he is talking about and feels he has no choice but to go public with a book to get others to start listening. There were plenty of naysayers before 9/11 too.
Is Mr. Weldon legit? I don't know anything about the man so I was wondering if he is a RINO? Personally, I don't know what to make of that article. Yeah, I guess one could say that he's just promoting his new book, but the fact that Dubya has been trying to "clean house" in our Intelligence Community says something to me. Without knowing more about Weldon, I'm inclined to believe this, and I hope it DOES shake Washington. Anyone who thinks the Mullah's aren't going to try to bring down the "great satan" needs to wake up.
I'd appreciate hearing other views on this article, and on Mr. Weldon.
Who cares what kinda info one might offer...
Actually, from what I can tell, Weldon has always been a good guy. While I'm not sure about a congressman holding secret meetings like this, Weldon is someone with enough credibility that he should be listened to IMHO.
Weldon is a lib and an opportunist. However, if he says he has Iranian sources and info, I'd believe him.
I just hope the "new CIA" is going to investigate his report...
No comments on the Iranian leaders I posted?
Minister Says Iran Is Open to U.S. TalksBy NAZILA FATHI
Published: December 15, 2004
EHRAN, Dec. 14 - Iran is willing to talk with the United States about its nuclear program if Washington treats it as an equal partner, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Tuesday.
"If negotiations are on the basis of equality and mutual respect in the same way we are talking to Europeans now, there is no reason not to talk to others," Mr. Kharrazi said in response to a question at a joint news conference with South Africa's visiting foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Mr. Kharrazi's conciliatory comments came a day after Iran opened talks in Brussels with Germany, France and Britain on nuclear, economic and security cooperation.
He said Iran was following the talks "very seriously" and hoped Europe would keep its promises.
Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program in return for European assistance in peaceful nuclear technology.
Washington, which does not have diplomatic relations with Tehran, suspects Iran of pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program.
"The talks are very serious and both parities know the talks should continue," Mr. Kharrazi said of the meetings in Brussels.
"If we see the talks are waste of time and have no results," he said, "we will definitely make our own decisions. We can tell three months from now whether the talks are useful and can provide Iran's rights to have access to peaceful nuclear technology."
In Washington, a State Department official, responding to Mr. Kharrazi's comments, said the United States "has never been opposed to discussing things with Iran when something useful can be accomplished."
But he said that on the nuclear issue, Iran had "not done anything to lead one to believe that would serve a useful purpose."
American policy is to support the European negotiations with Iran, but the Bush administration remains skeptical that talks can achieve any results.
Keeping Faith in Reform, and Islam, in IranAs Secular Movement Crumbles, Defiant Cleric Spreads Blame With a Smile[Excerpt]
By Robin WrightWashington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 15, 2004; Page A20
TEHRAN -- Mohsen Kadivar is a lonely voice in Iran these days.
A charismatic cleric with a salt-and-pepper beard and a spirited smile, Kadivar became a hero to Iranian youth during his 1999 trial for challenging Iran's rigid theocracy.
But the once-robust reform movement he symbolized virtually evaporated this year. Its political groups are in disarray. The last of 110 dissident newspapers or magazines have been shut down. Democracy advocates in parliament were barred from running again in elections last February, and student activists have been jailed or harassed.
These days, Kadivar, 45, is increasingly on his own -- and he is criticizing both conservatives and reformers.
He still stirs controversy with his scathing criticism of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the symbol of Iran's political system. Kadivar warns that Khamenei's position is growing even more powerful as reformers are marginalized.
"The supreme leader is increasing his powers . . . but not his authority. Authority you can see in the street from the people. Power you get from soldiers and security forces," said Kadivar, still defiant after spending 18 months in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin prison for "disseminating lies" and "defaming Islam."
Interviewed in his modest, book-lined office, Kadivar said ordinary Iranians were "not satisfied" with Khamenei. "If they see him on TV, they change the channel," he said.
Kadivar said the supreme leader's absolute veto power over legislation, presidential decisions, judicial verdicts and candidates for public office has made Iran a "religious dictatorship" as unjust and illegitimate as the monarchy ousted in 1979.
"No one should be above the constitution. Most Iranians believe this but are afraid to say it," he added. "The supreme leader doesn't come from God."
By contemporary Middle Eastern standards, Iran has an unusual variety of activists and thinkers. Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for her human rights campaign. Abdul Karim Soroush, a philosopher who now teaches abroad, is often called the Martin Luther of Islam for his ideas on reforming the faith.
Kadivar's younger sister, Jamileh, was a leading reform member of parliament until the Council of Guardians barred her from running again this year. Her husband, Ataollah Mohajerani, was a cabinet minister and a leading advocate of a freer press until he was squeezed out.
But as the leverage of secular reformers ebbs, Kadivar is among the few who remain a serious threat to the religious leadership because he, too, wears a white clerical turban.
"As a cleric, he speaks with more authority to the community of believers. He also reflects the split within the clerical community that is the repository of power in Iran," said Shaul Bakhash, author of "The Reign of the Ayatollahs," who teaches at George Mason University.
Other U.S.-based analysts said prospects for reform in Iran will depend heavily on younger dissident clerics challenging the original revolutionaries, who are now in their sixties and seventies.
"The clergy has been talking about these issues among themselves, but Kadivar has taken the discourse into the public domain, so he's more threatening," said Hadi Semati, a political scientist at Tehran University who is now a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
Semati said Kadivar's greatest success has been in raising such ideas as "a redefinition of Islam compatible with democracy, and a more appropriate relationship between mosque and state."
Even within the Shiite clergy, he said, there is an appetite for alternative visions. "At least 95 percent of the clergy have not been beneficiaries of the revolution," Semati said. "Some got money and prestige, but the overwhelming majority are poor and have not been part of the power structure."
Kadivar quotes liberally from both the Koran and the 19th-century French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, as well as other Western thinkers, as he builds the case for blending Islam and democracy.
"Without respecting individuality and freedom of choice, human dignity cannot be respected," he wrote in a paper presented in Brussels last month. "Any exercise of force and compulsion on people in the name of religion is forbidden."
Kadivar asserts that the conservatives' agenda is destructive for both Iran and Islam. "Our job as religious people is not politics," he said. "They are taking Iran backward, not toward the future."
But he is also hard on reformers, saying they have failed to promote their ideas aggressively. "They don't have a practical map. They were not strong. . . . They have only the appearance of parties," he said.
Kadivar said President Mohammad Khatami, a lame-duck reformist whose final term ends in mid-2005, "thought when he made a good speech, that was enough." But he added, "If you want to change society, it requires resisting. . . . Khatami didn't do this."
Kadivar's family is from Shiraz, a former Iranian capital noted for its roses, poets and good humor. A broad smile often breaks across Kadivar's face, even as he lambastes his fellow clerics -- and muses about his own vulnerability. ...
Officials have threatened to send him back to prison several times, Kadivar said, adding that for him, "It almost doesn't matter. I came out of a small prison to a big prison, because when I can't say my thoughts, I still live in a prison."
Iraqi minister says Iran is source of 'terrorism'12-15-2004, 08h23
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan accused Iran of orchestrating terrorist attacks in Iraq, saying its neighbor country was the "most dangerous enemy of Iraq".
"Iran is the most dangerous enemy of Iraq and all Arabs," Shaalan said. "The source of terrorism in Iraq is Iran."
The two countries fought a brutal eight-year war from 1980 under then leader Saddam Hussein, and lingering tensions remain, with many Iraqis still convinced that Iran is trying to undermine their country.
"Terrorism is Iraq is orchestrated by Iranian intelligence, Syrian intelligence and Saddam loyalists. The financing and training of the terrorists comes from Syria and Iran," he said.
His comments came as campaigning opened for Iraq's landmark national elections, and a day after Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Saddam Hussein's top henchmen would go to trial next week for crimes against humanity.
Wednesday also marks the end of voter registration across the violence-wracked country, and the deadline for parties to present their lists of candidates for the January 30 vote.
Allawi is widely expected to be among the candidates running from his Iraqi National Accord party, and his announcement of trials for former regime members has been seen as a bid to give him a political boost ahead of the polls.
"The trial will begin next week of the symbols of the former regime who will appear in succession to ensure that justice is done in Iraq," Allawi said Tuesday.
Saddam, seized by US forces along with 11 of his top Baathist lieutenants, is being held at Camp Cropper, a vast US base near Baghdad's international airport, Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin confirmed.
All 12 appeared in court in July for the first time since their capture to hear preliminary charges of crimes against humanity leveled against them.
In Amman, Saddam's defense team immediately disputed the planned trials, which Amin said would start by end-March rather than next week.
"The interrogation (of detainees) in the absence of their lawyers is invalid and the accusations made against them are also invalid according to legal rules," said the spokesman for the Jordan-based team, Ziad Khassawhen.
A justice ministry spokesman said Wednesday he only heard of the upcoming trials from media reports.
"I had no idea this was going to happen," he said.
Government officials had said Saddam, who could face the death penalty, would go on trial after the January 30 elections, billed as the first free Iraqi vote in half a century but threatened by the ongoing violence in Iraq.
Saddam's capture on December 13, 2003, has done nothing to stop the deadly insurgency in which thousands of people have been killed.
Four Iraqi policemen were killed and another 13 are missing after an attack on their convoy in a notoriously dangerous area south of Baghdad on Tuesday, police said Wednesday.
Twenty policemen were also injured in the attack.
A 10-vehicle police convoy with 85 recruits on board was travelling from the southern city of Basra to take over from a police unit in Baghdad when it came under attack close to an area known as the "triangle of death," a police source said.
"When the convoy arrived in Basmaya, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) south of Baghdad, it came under attack by unknown gunmen using an assortment of weapons," the source said.
Also Tuesday as a deadly car bomb exploded near the Green Zone in Baghdad, visiting US military chief General Richard Myers insisted the elections would not be derailed by attacks, despite acknowledging a probable spike in violence.
"We said all along that violence will increase as we move towards the elections... They (insurgents) will stop at nothing to try to keep Iraq from becoming a free country," Myers said.
But Allawi said unrest was only likely to increase after the polls.
"Terrorist strikes and attacks will not stop after the elections. On the contrary they will increase because this is a fight between good and evil," he told parliament.
Allawi, however, announced that the insurgency had been dealt a blow by the killing of an aide to Iraq's most wanted man, Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, blamed for a string of deadly attacks and the killing of hostages.
"I have been told that an individual by the name of Hassan Ibrahim Farhan Zyda from Zarqawi's group has been killed and that two of his deputies have been arrested," he said.
In the latest violence, at least eight Iraqis were killed in two suicide car bomb attacks in as many days near the fortress-like Green Zone, which houses the interim Iraqi government and foreign embassies.
A national guard was killed and 12 other people wounded in Tuesday's bombing, which occurred at an Iraqi national guard recruiting center outside a Green Zone entrance where seven people were killed the previous day.
Another US marine was killed Tuesday, the military said, bringing to 12 the number of US troops to die in fighting since Friday in Baghdad and the restive Al-Anbar province, which hosts the former rebel stronghold of Fallujah.
Myers said "there was still work to be done, still pockets of people that have to be dealt with" in Fallujah.
But Allawi insisted that last month's massive US-led assault against the Sunni Muslim stronghold had "cleared the town of terrorists" and that the authorities were working to allow residents to return within days.
Iran Can't Be Bought OffDecember 15, 2004
LOS ANGELES -- Can economics trump values? The European Community has placed a bet that they can. In a new round of negotiations France and Germany believe they can buy off Iran's ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons. If history is the judge, the tack is a chimera. Failure should prompt another course: challenge the values and their foundation.
Europe's quixotic aspirations go back to the fall of 2003. At the time, Iran's nuclear perfidy was evident to all. Multiple reports from the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency demonstrated conclusively that Tehran had spent years secretly acquiring the means to manufacture nuclear weapons ingredients in violation of its nonproliferation obligations. Washington took a hard line. It called upon the IAEA Board of Governors to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council for the application of sanctions.
Britain, France and Germany balked. The Europeans saw a chance not only to resolve the stalemate but -- in the case of Bonn and Paris -- to upstage Washington while generating economic benefits for themselves. The result: In October 2003, the three European powers sent their foreign ministers to Iran to offer economic, nuclear and political incentives. They believed that Iran could be bought.
At first blush, the EU-3 scored a coup. On Oct. 21, 2003, Iran agreed "to suspend all uranium enrichment and processing activities as defined by the IAEA." Headlines declared, "Iranian Deal a Victory for European Diplomacy." The adulation proved short-lived. Although it would not be until June 2004 when Tehran bolted from the agreement, the signs already were present on Oct. 22, 2003 when President Mohammad Khatami declared, "Iran will never give up this (enrichment) program."
When Iran's enrichment activities resumed in the summer of 2004, European pride would not allow failure. The EU-3 offered the mullahs the promise of more bountiful economic and nuclear carrots. Negotiations proved difficult. Iran was unwilling to cede uranium enrichment. By early November, the parties struck a new deal -- or so it appeared. Iran would "suspend" - again -- its enrichment activities. Europe would have additional time to put an effective economic incentive package together.
All that remained was the blessing of the IAEA Board of Governors. Back in Tehran, conservative factions rebelled. They called for the exclusion of 20 centrifuges. The European venture teetered. To overcome the mullah's bargaining ploy, the Board of Governors caved. It modified the standards applied to verification and agreed that the suspension was not legally binding. It also rebuffed Washington¹s demands that Iranian violations serve as the tripwire for Security Council action.
Now resolution of Iran's nuclear challenge resides entirely in Europe's court. Unfortunately, a fundamental flaw infects the EU-3 strategy: Iran cannot be bought. Economic currencies do not buy political values.
For the mullahs, one value dominates: preservation of the theocratic regime. Iran's leadership appears to believe that a nuclear weapons capacity promotes supporting values --security, international influence, self-confidence, prestige, scientific infrastructure, economic modernization and energy diversity while buttressing popular support.
Iran's values, however, can become the West¹s sword. Consider a potpourri of alternatives:
-- Co-opt Iran's nuclear enrichment ambition. Tehran repeatedly declares that nuclear enrichment will promote energy security. The West should test the contention. Propose an international partnership providing technology, expertise along with co-managers, serving, most important, as expert resident watchdogs with full authority to prevent suspect activities.
-- Sow nuclear fear. Iran, obviously, resides in a dangerous neighborhood. Use public diplomacy to cultivate popular fear that nuclear plants are radiological hostages to terrorist malevolence, military attacks and accidents. Reiterate this question: Do nuclear values outweigh multiple nuclear risks and economic costs for a country with abundant oil, natural gas and solar energy resources?
-- Promote national security foreboding. The mullahs appear to believe that nuclear weapons will promote national security. Impress upon them that the tack will make them less secure. Iran will become an American nuclear weapons target in an era of preemption.
-- Squeeze Iran's economy. The Iranian revolution promised a prosperity that never matured. Economic isolation should follow the failed European negotiation to press home the costs of nuclear perfidy.
-- Support Iran's democratic opposition. Provide convert assistance to such groups as the Tahkimeh Vahdat, a domestic Iranian coalition that seeks to contest the power of the clerics.
-- Use Baghdad to challenge Iran. Should Iraq stabilize and democratize, use what will likely be a Shiite-dominated state to challenge Iran's model of political development to promote regime change.
-- Offer a carrot. Remind Iranians about Libya. Libya's decision to halt its WMD ambitions ended its political and economic isolation. Tehran would likewise benefit.
Each measure tests values that sustain the Islamic regime. Collectively, they provide a largely untried template that avoids the most draconian step that lurks in the background -- namely, military action by Washington or Jerusalem against Tehran's evident nuclear weapons program.
Bennett Ramberg served in the Department of State's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in the administration of George H.W Bush.
They took over our embassy and held our diplomats and staff for 444 days.
They are totally unpredictable and irrational.
2004 Wednesday 15 December
BAGHDAD, - AP- Iraq's defense minister on Wednesday accused neighboring Iran and Syria of supporting terrorists in his war-ravaged country.
Hazem Shaalan also accused Iran of backing the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist group headed by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and said his country's opponents want "turbaned clerics to rule in Iraq."
Shaalan said Iraqi authorities obtained information about Iran's role in Iraqi's insurgency after last month's arrest of the leader of the Jaish Mohammed (Mohammed's Army) terrorist group during U.S.-led operations in Fallujah.
"When we arrested the commander of Jaish Mohammed we discovered that key to terrorism is in Iran, which this the number one enemy for Iraq," Shaalan told reporters in Baghdad.
On Nov. 15, Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said American forces detained Jaish Mohammed members, including the organization's leader, Moayad Ahmed Yasseen, also known as Abu Ahmed, during the military operation to uproot insurgents based in Fallujah, west of Baghdad.
Allawi has said the group was known to have cooperated with Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaida and Saddam loyalists and has claimed responsibility for killing and beheading a number of Iraqis, Arabs and foreigners in Iraq.
The U.S. military has said in the past that Jaish Mohammed appears to be an umbrella group for former intelligence agents, army, security officials, and Baath Party members.
Shaalan accused Iranian and Syrian intelligence agents, plus operatives of deposed leader Saddam Hussein's security forces, of "cooperating with the al-Zarqawi group to run criminal operations in Iraq," adding that Syria and Iran was providing funds and training.
Both countries have previously rejected U.S. and Iraqi claims that they are supporting insurgents in Iraq. Damascus, however, has said it is unable to fully close its long, porous border with Iraq.
"They are fighting us because we want to build freedom and democracy and they want to build an Islamic dictatorship and have turbaned clerics to rule in Iraq," he said, providing no further details.
The Left and the Islamists
The Manhattan attorney Lynne Stewart has been wedded to activist causes since the 1960s, defending a long train of leftists who have had run-ins with the law. A grandmotherly woman with a wide, jowly pink face and graying hair in a bowl cut, she has represented antiwar demonstrators, aging yippies, and Black Panthers. In one well known display of her skills, she convinced a jury in the late 1980s that Larry Davis, a drug dealer who had wounded six policemen in a shootout, was himself the victim of corruption and racism, and won his acquittal.
When Stewart arrived at a federal prison hospital in Minnesota in May 2000, however, she met a client from a very different milieu. In the visiting room, Stewart sat down across from Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the infamous blind Egyptian cleric imprisoned for life in 1995 for inciting the 1993 World Trade Center attack and plotting to blow up the FBIs office in Manhattan as well as the United Nations and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels.
Though roughly the same age as Stewart, Abdel Rahman seems to have missed out on many of the famously tolerant ideals associated with her generation of activists. He has called for the slaughter of Jews, and for women to have little public role in society. Yet, with Sheik Omar, Stewart allegedly took a step beyond mere legal advice. Videotapes reportedly show that Stewart loudly spoke nonsense words while her client, under the din, instructed a man traveling with Stewart and posing as a translator to execute a new terrorist plot. For this, Stewart has been charged with providing material support for terrorism, since the dangerous sheik is forbidden from contacting his followers.
At Stewarts trial this fall, an FBI agent told the court that Sheik Omar later issued a proclamation, found in Stewarts office, announcing that Any statement that comes from her . . . should be taken as if I said it. Also at the trial, an Egyptian reporter for Reuters testified that, at roughly the same time as this proclamation, he had received a call from Stewart relaying a message from Omar to his followers that they should break their cease-fire with another Islamist group.
Revelations of her complicity with known terrorists left Stewart nonplussed. We hit if off, she gushed to the Washington Post about her interactions with the sheik. Hes really an incredible person.
The seemingly improbable partnership that has emerged in recent years between figures like Lynne Stewart and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman is the subject of David Horowitzs new book, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.* According to Horowitz, links that began to form between Islamists and American leftists at the end of the cold war have been cemented by 9/11 and the Iraq war. Calling this alliance the Hitler-Stalin pact of our times, he warns of its potential impact, especially in undermining the war on terror.
Horowitz, the founder of the online magazine FrontPage and a former radical leftist, is at his best in documenting the intellectual connections between these strange bedfellows. He shows, for instance, how the anti-American pronouncements of Noam Chomsky have become increasingly indistinguishable from those of the fire-breathing clerics who appear on Arab satellite TV stations. Horowitz dredges up reams of similarly incendiary quotations from a range of American and Arab radicals. At the organizational level, he documents occasions on which leftist Western lawyers like Stewart have defended Muslim groups accused of abetting terrorism, and he points to the participation of militant Muslims in some of the most publicized antiwar rallies.
Horowitz also provides useful historical context for this unlikely romance. Over the past century, he argues, the radical Left in Europe and the U.S. has come to define itself as a movement against, rather than a movement for. Primarily, of course, its target has been the United States, no matter what the United States has stood for. For Horowitz, the historical roots of todays red-green alliance (green being the color of Islam) are to be found in the American Lefts long-standing obsession with the treatment of blacks and Native Americans and especially in its loudly proclaimed solidarity over the years with Fidel Castro, the North Vietnamese, and Communist rebels in El Salvador and Nicaragua. When the U.S. declared war on terror, it was time, once again, for the Left to lionize whomever America opposed.
The fact that radical Islamists hold social and cultural values diametrically opposed to those of American leftists is not, Horowitz maintains, as big a problem for either party as it might appear. As in a previous era, when the hard Left dealt with Stalins widely acknowledged crimes by turning its attention to more attractive proxies of the cause like Vietnam and Cuba, todays radicals tend to pay tribute not to al Qaeda but to groups like Hamas, whose extensive social-service network can be invoked to soften the horrors perpetrated by its terror cells. (Interestingly, though, few if any of todays leftists have decamped for Teheran or Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, as some once did for the workers paradises of Cuba and North Vietnam.)
For their part, the prophets of radical Islam have not only borrowed from the Left in recent decadesciting Bernard Lewis, Horowitz notes that anti-Americanism seems to form the one exception to their categorical hatred of Western ideasthey have learned to appeal to leftist sympathies. The Arab media now constantly condemn the U.S. for victimizing the third world and supporting tyrants. Many Islamists have even mastered the rhetoric of class struggle and anti-colonial resistance. As Horowitz observes, the Ayatollah Khomeini sought to portray his revolution in Iran as a movement of the oppressed, thus gaining the support of elements of the global political Left.
Horowitzs Unholy Alliance is among the first serious examinations of this troubling and relatively new relationship, and for that he certainly deserves credit. But there is a good deal more to be said about the origins of this ideological convergence and the concrete ways in which it has already found expression.
Useful as it is to be reminded of the long history of the radical Lefts shifting allegiances, Horowitz scants what is decidedly new in the developments he describes. A decade ago, a red-green alliance would have seemed astounding. On campuses in Europe and America, womens groups usually avoided Islamist organizations, which often held highly misogynistic beliefs. The primary concerns of hard-leftist groups tended to be local issues, like labor rights and poverty. Few had ties to any Muslim organizations.
One powerful catalyst that changed all this was the birth of the anti-globalization movement. The real and imagined evils of globalization have breathed new life into the international Left, especially among the young. The social dislocation brought about by trade, outsourcing, and economic integration has proved to be a potent issue. But radicals have not rested content with protesting the policies they dislike. They have also sought villains, and they have found familiar ones: America and the Jews.
As Mark Strauss of the Carnegie Endowment has argued in Antiglobalisms Jewish Problem (Foreign Policy, December 2003), this is no accident. Despite the youth of many anti-globalization activists, they have drawn upon and updated venerable tropes of traditional anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. The Rockefellers and Rothschilds have disappeared as international bogeymen, only to be replaced by theories of Jewish and American intrigue at the World Trade Organization and other supranational economic agencies. In the demonology of the Left, the top-hatted banker in striped pants has given way to the greedy, globe-trotting American consultant and the conspiring Zionist warmonger.
That such images should have found a ready audience in the Muslim world is no surprise. But their dissemination depended on yet another recent development: the Internet. Before the advent of todays computer technology, the hard Left in Europe and the U.S. would have had no idea how to seek out Islamist sympathizers. A generation ago, it would have been necessary for the two groups to occupy the same physical spacean unlikely prospect, given that traditional Muslims living in Arab-French suburbs, for example, rarely mingle with the college students who frequent Left Bank cafes. The Internet has opened a door between these disparate environments. Since the 1990s, Europe and America have seen a dramatic increase in the number of homepages on the Web created by both radical Muslims and anti-globalization activists. Creating links among these groups has become, literally, a matter of pushing the right buttons.
Horowitz provides few details about the actual political and financial connections, as opposed to the ideological affinities, between Islamists and radical leftists in the U.S. More disappointingly, he does not turn his attention to Europe, where such connections abound, thanks to the large and growing presence of Muslim immigrants and the interest groups that cater to them.
In early 2003, several British left-wing partiesMarxists, socialists, Labor radicalscame together with Islamist groups, including the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, to create a joint steering committee. Its co-chairmen (to give something of its flavor) were Andrew Murray of the British Communist party and Muhammad Asalm Ijaz of the London Council of Mosques. On the Continent, at roughly the same time, similar alliances were cemented between Islamist organizations and leftist parties like Frances Trotskyist Workers Struggle.
These links were quickly put to use. Throughout 2003 and 2004, Islamists and anti-globalization activists in Europe have held a number of joint protests, marches, and conferences. A February 2003 demonstration in London, co-sponsored by the Muslim Association of Britain and the Stop the War Coalition, drew some one million people. In France, several anti-globalization groups helped to lead marches protesting the governments order that headscarves could not be worn in public schools. At all of these rallies, Islamist and anti-Semitic ideas have become commonplace (a precedent set, as Horowitz correctly notes, by the notorious UN World Conference against Racism held in South Africa in 2001). Islamists and anti-globalization activists have other pan-European activities planned for 2005.
Still more worrisome is the fact that the leftist-Islamist partnership has been able to convert its cooperation into votes. In 2004 elections for local offices throughout Europe and for seats in the European Parliament, Islamic groups either worked together with leftists on joint lists or helped promote Left candidates in Belgium, Great Britain, and France, where the hard Left won 5 percent of the vote, a substantial figure for any small group. The electoral advantages of this united front can only grow as immigration and high birthrates add to Europes already sizable Muslim population.
In their outreach to Muslim radicals, hard-Left groups in the U.S. lag only slightly behind their European peers. Horowitz singles out one of the best-known of these organizations, International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), a New York-based group founded by former U.S. attorney general and long-time radical agitator Ramsey Clark (who has also represented the blind sheik). ANSWER, Horowitz shows, traffics in precisely the same kind of anti-American and anti-Semitic vitriol as the most hateful Islamists.
In fact, ANSWERs transgressions extend well beyond the dangerous rhetoric cited by Horowitz. In December 2003, the group helped to convene the second annual Cairo Conference, an anti-U.S. hate fest attended by a variety of Islamists, including Osama Hamdan, a top leader of Hamas. ANSWER has also given a seat on its steering committee to the Muslim Students Association (MSA). This American group presents itself as a benign advocate for Muslim college students. But as Jonathan Dowd-Gailey has recently documented in the Middle East Quarterly, the MSA has funneled money to the Holy Land Foundation and other charities accused of funding Hamas and Hizballah. MSA leaders have called for the death of all Jews and have spread pro-Taliban propaganda. The group advises its members that their long-term goal should be to Islamicize the politics of their respective universities.
Indeed, for radicals in the U.S. and Europe, any taboo that may once have kept them from openly collaborating with known Islamic terrorists has largely disappeared. As Lynne Stewarts trial was proceeding in Manhattan in September, an international strategy meeting was being held in Beirut under the title, Where Next for the Global Anti-War and Anti-Globalization Movements? Among the hundreds of groups in attendance, from over fifty nations, were such pillars of the anti-globalization hard Left as Focus on the Global South, a think tank devoted to issues of international trade; ATTAC, a socialist network with branches across Europe and Latin America and links to European political parties; and CorpWatch, an American group that monitors corporate influence on politics.
And who was on hand as a conference host to welcome the delegates to Beirutto make sure hotel rooms were acceptable, meals met everyones tastes, and delegates could call their loved ones back home? None other than the Shiite terrorist group Hizballah, along with local Islamists and secular leftists. Though the conference did include radical advocates for the rights of women and other minorities, attendees seemed to have no problem taking directions from a group whose clerical overlords believe in a version of Islam that sentences homosexuals and adulterers to death by stoning.
Immediately after this conference adjourned, another left-wing group, this one of a religious cast, descended on Lebanon. A delegation of the American Presbyterian Church met with Hizballah officials in Beirut and praised the terrorist organization. As one of its members helpfully explained on Hizballah television, Relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders.
The partnership between Islamists and the international Left poses its most immediate threat to Jews. As Horowitz rightly worries, the anti-Semitic propaganda spread by the red-green alliance stokes violence against Jewish communities and makes Israel an ever more vilified object of rage. Ultimately, too, Islamists may turn some part of the anti-globalization movement toward violence, just as groups in the 1960s like the Weather Underground took up guns and bombs as they became more radical. Indeed, many older members of the hard Left have never forsworn such tools. As Lynne Stewart told the New York Times (in an interview cited by Horowitz), there is nothing wrong with using directed violence against the institutions which perpetuate capitalism.
In the longer term, the ideas propagated by the hard Left-Islamist alliance could also seep into the wider political culture, poisoning the mainstream Left and otherwise sane liberals. Praise for suicide bombers, Horowitz notes, can already be heard at times from members of Europes socialist establishment. In France, Belgium, Great Britain, and other European states, some parties of the moderate Left have tried to co-opt Muslim groups while sidestepping their extreme rhetoric, hoping thereby to bolster the parties own credibility with dissatisfied radical voters. The French Communists, traditionally one of the larger and more mainstream leftist parties, have been leaders in this regard.
On the American side, too, pressure seems to be building for Washington to engage Islamic extremists more directly, in an effort to blunt some of their sting. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, American diplomats around the world have begun to make contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood despite serious concerns about the organization, which has fomented revolution across the Middle East and is dedicated, in the Posts words, to creating an Islamic civilization that harks back to the caliphates of the 7th and 8th centuries. Edward P. Djerejian, a former top State Department official, insists that the U.S. must know where they [Islamists] are coming from, to influence them. To demonize the Muslim Brotherhood, warns a former CIA official, would be foolhardy to the extreme. As if to confirm this new strategy, the government-funded National Democratic Institute recently hosted a delegation from a Yemeni party linked to the Muslim Brotherhood at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
As we and our allies try to develop more sophisticated political and diplomatic strategies for dealing with the Muslim world, the temptation will be great to reach out to those Islamist groups that express some willingness to work with us. Signs of apparent reasonableness are difficult to resist, especially for well-meaning internationalist bureaucrats. In its item on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Washington Post reported that some State Department officials believe the group could be persuaded to temper its anti-U.S. stance and even to battle the jihadists.
Such hopes defy reality. They also ignore the long history of Islamist groups in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere that have worn a moderate face in their formative years but, once in power, have moved quickly to implement sharia law, eliminate all opposition, and give aid to terrorists. As Islamists become more visible participants in the politics of the Western democracies, and as their new friends on the hard Left strive to obliterate or gloss over their record of mendacity and violence, the rest of us cannot afford to turn a blind eye to who they are and what they stand for.
JOSHUA KURLANTZICK is the foreign editor of the New Republic.
Analysis: How Close Is Iran To The Bomb?
This week, the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany and EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana met with Iran's top nuclear negotiator in an ongoing attempt to convince Iran to permanently suspend its uranium-enrichment activities. Meanwhile, with each passing day, Iran could be getting closer to producing a nuclear bomb, a growing number of nonproliferation officials believe.
Is this site producing a nuclear weapon? (file photo)
Since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began investigating Iran's nuclear program in February 2003, and as more and more details of Tehran's atomic activities have emerged, the sense of alarm has become increasingly widespread.
Iran has demonstrated a proven ability to enrich uranium, and has been developing an infrastructure that could eventually produce large quantities of weapons-grade material. If left unhindered by international controls, Tehran could reach the nuclear threshold in just a few years' time, officials, diplomats, and analysts say.
"They know how to drive, and now they just need to build a car," said a senior Western official in Vienna familiar with the Iranian situation. "Provided they don't hit any bottlenecks, they are about two to five years away," the official added. More conservative estimates say they could be a decade away.
Over the past two years, the international community has been trying to create as many bottlenecks as possible.
Ever since Iran admitted in October 2003 to conducting 18 years of clandestine research in uranium enrichment -- a process that produces fuel that can be used in nuclear weapons -- the nation's nuclear industry has come under unprecedented scrutiny.Some familiar with the issue say Iran appears to have already crossed a critical threshold in know-how and soon could be in position to develop a nuclear weapon
In an effort to avoid UN Security Council sanctions, Iran signed an agreement with the European Union on 14 November to suspend activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for nuclear weapons, and the IAEA agreed to monitor the freeze.
But despite the intense international spotlight, officials and diplomats familiar with the issue say Iran appears to have already crossed a critical threshold in know-how and soon could be in position to develop an atomic weapon.
"They are just sitting on a nice capability to enrich uranium," a Western official close to the IAEA said. "Right now, Iran can produce small amounts of fissile material. But once they can produce large amounts, the bomb is just months away."
Although oil-rich, Iran insists its nuclear program is solely to generate electricity.
An Emerging Nuclear Infrastructure
Among Iran's known facilities, officials are most troubled by an underground centrifuge enrichment plant in Natanz, 200 miles south of Tehran, which Iran kept secret until the National Council for Resistance of Iran, an exile opposition group, exposed it in August 2002.
In February 2003, IAEA inspectors discovered highly enriched uranium there and at another site. Inspectors later discovered that Iran had also separated small amounts of plutonium, another pointer toward a potential weapons program.
Enriching uranium and separating plutonium are allowed under the nonproliferation treaty, as long as they are reported to the IAEA and open to agency safeguards and inspections to assure that they are for peaceful purposes. By covering up such activities, Iran caused many who had previously given the country the benefit of the doubt to suspect it was trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Before enrichment work there was suspended and put under IAEA safeguards, a pilot plant at Natanz had approximately 200 centrifuges installed. A second large-scale plant at Natanz that is under construction could, at full capacity, house as many as 50,000 centrifuges and produce enough bomb-grade uranium for 15 to 20 nuclear weapons a year, according to some analysts.
Iran has also acquired a design for and begun research and development on the advanced P-2 centrifuge, which could enrich uranium faster than the older P-1 design used at Natanz. Officials familiar with the investigation into Iran's nuclear program say Iran got the P-2 centrifuge design from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, who also provided similar nuclear know-how to Libya and North Korea.
But what worries officials most are not the facilities they know about, but those that many suspect are still undeclared and hidden. Officials are particularly concerned about Lavizan, a military research site in northern Iran, a facility that the United States alleges housed a nuclear facility.
Satellite images showed that buildings, which had been there in August 2003, had been razed to the ground by March 2004 and that topsoil had been taken away. The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) think tank said on its website that razing the buildings was suspicious "because it is the type of measure Iran would need to take if it was trying to defeat the powerful environmental-sampling capabilities of IAEA inspectors." Environmental sampling involves samples taken to find traces of radiation.
As tension mounted over Iran's nuclear program, Tehran announced in September that it had tested what it called a new "strategic missile" and delivered it to its armed forces. Iran currently has an arsenal of Shihab-3 missiles, which according to published reports have a range of between 1,300 and 1,500 kilometers -- meaning it could hit Israel and parts of Europe -- and is capable of carrying a 700-1,000-kilogram warhead.
Responses And Consequences
The specter of a nuclear-armed Iran, which could threaten Israel, set off a dangerous arms race, and further destabilize the Middle East, is something the United States and its allies are furiously seeking to prevent.
The United States has pushed for Iran to be reported to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions, while the European Union has offered Tehran a series of economic and political incentives to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Israel has also made it clear that it will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and has strongly hinted that it may use military strikes to eliminate nuclear sites there should diplomacy fail. Israel plans to buy about 5,000 U.S.-made smart bombs, including 500 1-ton bunker busters that can penetrate 2-meter-thick concrete walls, according to recent press reports.
But many diplomats and officials fear that neither sanctions nor military strikes would solve the issue.
Should the Security Council eventually impose sanctions, an increasingly isolated Iran may pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), as North Korea did last year and Tehran has repeatedly threatened to do, and pursue a weapons program unfettered. And while Iran would stand to lose a lot in terms of trade and investment if it withdrew from the treaty, such a defiant move could boost Tehran's prestige in the region. ''If Iran dropped out of the NPT, you would have at least 30 countries, mostly in the Middle East, cheering them on," a senior Western official close to the IAEA said.
Trying to solve the issue militarily, officials say, is also fraught with peril. Officials have voiced concerns that in the event of a military strike Iran might attempt to further subvert the situation in neighboring Iraq by influencing Shi'ite Muslims there.
Moreover, U.S. military intelligence has simulated a U.S. strike on Iran's nuclear facilities but they were unhappy with the war game's outcome because they could not prevent the conflict from escalating.
Analysts have also warned it would be difficult to hit Iran's nuclear sites with absolute confidence, since they are in hardened facilities and the locations of all of them are not known.
"You could have failed to decisively set back the program but at the same time prompt Iran to take a number of steps in retaliation, including to destabilize the situation in Iraq," said Robert Einhorn, who served as the Clinton administration's assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation.
Analysts say that the strongest card the international community has to play is the fact that Iran craves international respectability and badly needs increased trade and investment -- and would risk severe diplomatic ostracism, or worse, by going nuclear.
"Iran can be a pariah with nuclear weapons, or it can choose to become a respected, integrated member of the international community," Einhorn said. "Iran is not North Korea. The North Korean regime may want isolation," he added.
TEHRAN, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Iran does not care whether Mohamed ElBaradei remains head of the U.N. atomic watchdog, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said on Wednesday following reports that Washington was trying to oust him.
Iran unconcerned about ElBaradei's fate at IAEA15 Dec 2004 08:42:11 GMTSource: Reuters
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that U.S. officials were sifting through intercepted phone conversations between ElBaradei and Iranian officials looking for evidence that he was helping Tehran rebuff U.S. accusations it is seeking atomic bombs.
ElBaradei has said he plans to stand for re-election next year for a third term as secretary-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is engaged in a probe of Iran's nuclear activities.
Some U.S. and other officials have privately complained that ElBaradei has been too soft on Iran, which denies seeking nuclear arms.
But Iran's Supreme National Security Council secretary Hassan Rohani, asked whether ElBaradei's re-election would affect Iran's nuclear case, said:
"We are not cooperating with the people of the IAEA but rather we are cooperating with an international agency.
"It does not matter to us who the secretary-general is," the ISNA students news agency quoted him as saying.
Rohani added that Tehran was impatient for results from talks with the European Union, which is hoping to persuade Iran to scrap potentially weapons-related nuclear activities in return for economic, technological and security cooperation.
"One of our new red lines is that this round of negotiations should not be long. It will be unacceptable to us if we feel negotiations are a waste of time," he said.
Iran has frozen key nuclear activities such as uranium enrichment while the EU talks continue. But Iran says it will resume atomic work within three to six months.
"We are committed to the agreement and, as long as Europe respects its commitments, carries them out carefully, the negotiations move forward and our goals in these negotiations are achieved, we will remain committed," Rohani said.
Iran Tells Russia to Expand Nuclear TiesWed Dec 15, 2004 09:43 AM ET
By Maria Golovnina
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Iran told nuclear partner Russia on Wednesday it would have to show "readiness" to expand nuclear ties with Tehran to secure a solid share of Iran's atomic market in face of growing competition from Europe.
Moscow has built a $1 billion nuclear reactor in Iran in defiance of strong criticism from the United States, which believes Tehran can use the facility to make atomic bombs.
But Russia's stance on Iran toughened since President Vladimir Putin's re-election in March gave more priority to ties with Washington, with both softening their criticism of each others' military operations in Iraq and Chechnya.
Gholamreza Shafei, Iran's ambassador to Moscow, said further nuclear cooperation with Russia depended "on how much such ties will correspond with our national interests and also how much there is willingness from Russia to cooperate with ... Iran to broaden ties in peaceful nuclear energy use."
In written answers to Reuters questions, he also said: "Our ties with Russia depend on how much the Russian side is effectively ready to cooperate with us."
Russia has enjoyed a near-monopoly status on Iran's nuclear market since the early 1990s when the two agreed to build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant near the port of Bushehr.
Seeking to remove Bushehr as a irritant in relations with the United States, Russia has maintained Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.
But diplomats in Moscow have hinted Iran is unhappy with the way Russia has dragged its feet on Bushehr, delaying construction schedules at times of political sensitivity.
Russia is now worried it might lose a key nuclear market in the Middle East after the European Union's "Big Three" offered last month to help Iran with peaceful atomic technology if it abandons its nuclear fuel production capabilities.
Britain, France and Germany are currently in talks with Iran aimed at brokering a long-term agreement on Tehran's nuclear activities. Iran says its nuclear facilities will only be used to generate electricity, and Russia agrees.
ENEMIES BECOME RIVALS
Shafei's remarks only confirmed Russian worries. But he repeated Moscow would still be able to play a big role in Iran.
"Under such circumstances, the previous enemies of nuclear cooperation between Russia and Iran will turn into 'new rivals' and 'Iran's partners'," he said.
"It's true that under such circumstances Russia will face competitors on the Iranian market but at the same time the Iranian market will stop being closed and limited.
"Russia will be able to play an active role at least in half of this big market, and it will be definitely bigger than the previously narrow market," he said.
Russia's foreign ministry was not available for comment.
A high-ranking Russian official familiar with the Iranian situation said Tehran could be simply trying to use the EU offer as a bargaining chip to get the best deal out of Russia.
"We are ready to expand cooperation with Iran, but it's not easy. Iranians could be difficult too. When European nuclear companies enter the Iranian market, we'll deal with it. But it's too early to talk about this yet," the official said.
Western diplomats in Vienna said leading nuclear firms in the EU would be loathe to offer any nuclear technology to Iran for fear of jeopardising lucrative U.S. business. (additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau in Vienna)
Iran conditions talks with US on change of Washington's attitude
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-15 23:47:30
TEHRAN, Dec. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi on Wednesday conditioned negotiations with the United States on a change in Washington's attitude toward Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Iran will hold talks with the United States only when it changes its policies towards Iran and takes on an approach based on mutual respect," Kharazi was quoted as saying.
"So long as the United States continues its hostile policies against Iran, negotiations will be out of question," he stressed.The foreign minister described the US opposition to Iran's entry into the WTO as a hostile move.
"The United States does not even let any negotiation about such membership start by using its veto right," he said. Iran and the United States, who had been close allies in the 1970s, turned into enemies after Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979. The United States accused Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons and sponsoring terrorists, categorizing Iran in the so-called "axis of evil" and imposing harsh sanctions on the country.Iran, in return, termed the United States as enemy of the whole Islamic world.
More Iraqi refugees leave Iran for home
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Dec 15 (IranMania) - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday reported of the closing down of eight Iraqi refugee camps in Iran, Irans Hamshahri Daily reported.
The UNHCR Spokeswoman, Jennifer Pagonis added that most of the refugees retuned to Iraq following the downfall of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.
According to the UN official two other refugee camps in Iran are to be closed down by the end of December.
So far, around 42,000 of 50,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran have returned home. Pagonis said.
Bush Urges Syria, Iran Not to Meddle in Iraq
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 1:08 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush urged Syria and Iran not to meddle in Iraqi internal affairs on Wednesday after Iraq's defense minister complained the two were helping the Iraqi insurgency.
"We will continue to make it clear to both Syria and Iran that ... meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq is not in their interests," Bush told reporters at the end of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
He called on Iraq's neighbors to work with the interim Iraqi government to enforce border security ahead of elections scheduled for Jan. 30.
"We expect there to be help in establishing a society in which people are able to elect their leaders, and ... we expect people to work with the Iraqi interim government to enforce borders to stop the flow of people and money that aim to help these terrorists," the president said.
"For the good of the area ... there ought to be a peaceful country where the different religions can come together," he added.
NEOCON V. NEOCON ON IRAN.Identity Crisis
by Franklin Foer
Post date 12.14.04 | Issue date 12.20.04
n the weeks after September 11, 2001, Clifford May, a former journalist and Republican National Committee official, launched a new think tank called the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). Unlike the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) or other Washington bastions of chin-tugging wonks, FDD devotes itself almost exclusively to Topic A: international terrorism. While FDD has a smattering of Democrats like Chuck Schumer on its board, its approach announces its ideological allegiances. The group strongly advocates liberal democracy, aggressively promoted by the United States, as the antidote to Middle Eastern terrorism. That is, the group trumpets the Bush doctrine.
The Bush doctrine, and its neoconservative supporters, have always had one indisputable virtue: clarity, marked by crystalline goals and a coherent playbook. This clarity gave them an enormous rhetorical advantage in making the case for war in Iraq, a case that May and FDD helped articulate. Now, Iran has forced itself to the fore of the foreign policy agenda with its furtive pursuit of nuclear weapons and often dismissive attitude toward the diplomats trying to keep the country in the nonproliferation shed. By all measures, the Bush doctrine should fit snugly onto Iran--the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism on a quest for weapons of mass destruction, a country where the masses demonstrably yearn to breathe free.
But, when I called May to learn his policy prescription for Iran, he provided a surprising answer, one that I soon found echoed that of many other Bush doctrine adherents. "I've got no sense of where this should ultimately go. Everybody is studying this, but I'm honestly trying to understand this myself and come up with my position," he told me. "This is complicated stuff." Not at all what we've come to expect from the neocons.
From Bosnia to Iraq, polarization has been a defining feature of post-cold-war foreign policy debates. But the Iran debate doesn't just trace traditional faults between realists and neoconservative hardliners. In this instance, the neocons can't come to a consensus among themselves. The Weekly Standard's editorialists, for instance, have remained silent on the subject. And neocons who have taken positions don't agree. Institutions that played a large role in making Saddam Hussein a top foreign policy concern, such as AEI and the Project for a New American Century, are split over how to proceed. The Committee on the Present Danger, a coalition of cold war intellectuals that recently reassembled to promote hard-line foreign policy, has heatedly debated a proposed white paper on Iran. Even two of the most prominent hawks in the administration aren't on the same page. In November, Under Secretary of State John Bolton spoke at a Washington confab hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. When asked about the prospect of preemptive military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, he replied, "No options are off the table"--and then smiled broadly. Across the country in San Francisco, at almost the same time as Bolton's revelatory grin, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith fielded the very same question but described strikes as "not a sensible option."
In part, the lack of neocon consensus can be attributed to the nature of the problem. Nobody--not the Council on Foreign Relations, not John Kerry's brain trust--has designed a plausible policy to walk Iran back from the nuclear brink. Or, as Kenneth M. Pollack concludes in his new book, The Persian Puzzle, this is a "problem from Hell" with no good solution. But the muted, muddled response of neocons is also indicative of a deep divide within the doctrine.
Over the last four years, no entry in the political dictionary has been as overused and abused as "neoconservative." On editorial pages and blogs, the term's definition has stretched to indiscriminately include pretty much every believer in a hawkish foreign policy. But, just because the term has suffered these distortions doesn't mean that it should be discarded. It describes a distinct subset of the right. During the 1990s, a group of out-of-power intellectuals gathered in a cluster of Washington institutions--think tanks like AEI, magazines like the Standard--where they produced articles and anthologies proposing a new post-cold-war course for U.S. foreign policy, a course that included regime change in Iraq, a tougher attitude toward China, opposition to the emerging international legal system, and, above all, a more robust deployment of U.S. power. They weren't battling just the Clintonites' liberal internationalism, but also devotees of Pat Buchanan's isolationism and Brent Scowcroft's realism. Many denizens of these institutions proudly identified themselves as neoconservative.
All their apparent agreement on the great issues of the day, however, obscured important internal disagreements and inconsistencies. The neoconservative mind has always had two lobes. One side drives neocons toward idealistic language about America's ability to spread human rights and democracy. This is the half that dominates the thinking of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and the president's senior Middle East adviser, Elliot Abrams. In a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy in 2003, President Bush provided the locus classicus of this strain when he announced his "forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East" and called for a "global democratic revolution." The colder, more analytic lobe of the neocon brain endorses all this talk about democracy. But it couches these goals in a more realist context. It doesn't want democracy planted out of altruism. It wants democracy planted when it can promote U.S. interests. Charles Krauthammer and Jeanne Kirkpatrick have been the most prominent spokespeople for this lobe. Many of these neocons, such as Krauthammer, scoffed at the Balkan interventions as social work. And they don't mind temporary alliances with dictatorships and nasty regimes. "We often need such dictators to win the larger struggle against a global threat to liberty," Krauthammer wrote two years ago in Time, defending the U.S. partnership with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
If you were to peer into the minds--or at least the writings--of most rank-and-file neocons, you'd find that the idealist and realist sides co-exist in almost equal proportion. Iran, however, brings these two lobes into conflict. Each policy option that might promote democracy comes at the expense of neocon goals for U.S. security. Each policy that might promote security comes at the expense of their liberal concerns. Iraq, it turns out, was not the first in a series of bold ventures toward a new Pax Americana, as both neoconservatives and their detractors imagined, but an anomaly--a freak instance in which events conspired to produce the clarity that could temporarily bridge the two halves of the neocon brain. In Iran, no policy can bring the neocons' competing goals into concert. The result is the current paralysis, a moment of indecision that exposes limits of neoconservatism.
n paper, of course, neocons have been far from muddled in their pronouncements about Iran. In January 2002, Bush famously placed the country in the axis of evil. The following year, neocons celebrated the U.S. victory in Iraq by issuing ominous warnings to the mullahs in Tehran. William Kristol, editor of the The Weekly Standard, announced, "The next great battle--not, we hope, a military battle--will be for Iran." A Standard essay by Max Boot, author of The Savage Wars of Peace, outlined a course the Iranians could follow "to avoid a visit from the 3rd Infantry Division"--a few basic steps that included quitting their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
In practice, however, the Bush administration shunned such sentiments. First in Afghanistan, then in Iraq, the U.S. government quietly courted the Iranians, trying to ensure that the mullahs didn't muck up its strategic objectives in Central Asia and the Middle East. Top American officials rewarded this cooperation with public praise. Describing Iran's role in the Afghan war, Richard Haass, then-director of the State Department policy planning staff, declared in 2001, "By and large, the Iranian role diplomatically has been quite constructive." And, in 2003, the United States acceded to Iranian demands and shut down the Washington office representing the political arm of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an armed Marxist Islamist group that has long tormented the mullahs.
With American words and deeds so badly out of sync, the United States missed an unprecedented opportunity to steer events in Iran. "I've never seen the [Tehran] regime as vulnerable as before the Iraq war," says the Hoover Institution's Abbas Milani, "and never seen it as consolidated as today." The regime suffered through bursts of protest in 2002 and 2003. At the same time that it faced opposition in the street, the regime faced a far milder brand of opposition in the Majilis, the parliament, where a reformist movement had flourished since Mohammad Reza Khatami took over the presidency in 1997. But, this January, the mullahs set about eviscerating this movement. A month before the Majilis elections, they disqualified about 2,500 candidates and barred 87 sitting members of parliament, including Khatami's brother, from seeking reelection. At the same time, the regime worked to shore up its future with another bold maneuver. Using revenue from high oil prices and digesting knowledge bought off the Pakistanis, it sped up its nuclear program.
During this period, the Bush administration could have brought its rhetoric and policy into agreement. Before the Iraq war or just after, it could have leveraged the vulnerability of the Iranian regime, not to mention the presence of American troops on the country's eastern and western borders, to pursue a policy of either engagement or aggressive confrontation. Had the administration vigorously pursued one or the other during this window of opportunity, it might have succeeded in transforming Iran. Instead, it chose neither path, leaving nuclear negotiations to the Europeans while voicing few complaints about the mullahs' political repression. It is typical for hawks to blame the State Department for our inchoate attitude toward the Iranians. But the neocons were complicit in this. With their own divided minds, they didn't have a clear alternative to push. So they joined with their intramural adversaries, and, in Pollack's words, "simply deferred the issue altogether."
hanks to this inaction, the situation has now reached a crisis point. Although nobody knows when the Iranians will have enriched enough uranium for a bomb, everybody agrees there's little time to stop them. Neoconservative doctrine holds that the best long-term hope for preventing a nuclear Iran is the country's liberalization. Indeed, that's the policy proposed by one school of hawks. They don't want to follow the Iraqi example, using the U.S. military to impose democracy. The robustness of Iran's army and the ruggedness of its topography make it too difficult for that. Instead, these neocons argue that, despite the regime's crackdowns, Iran smolders in a prerevolutionary state. A bit of funding for opposition groups and encouragement from the U.S. government, conveyed in radio broadcasts and forthright presidential addresses to the Iranian people, could inspire the masses to rise up. Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan administration official, is the architect of this argument. Earlier this fall, he wrote in National Review Online, "In Iran today, upwards of 70 percent of the population is openly hostile to the regime, vocally desirous of freedom and democracy, and bravely supportive of the Bush Doctrine to bring democratic revolution to the entire region. If we could bring down the Soviet Empire by inspiring and supporting a small percentage of the people, surely the chances of successful revolution in Iran are more likely. By orders of magnitude."
But neocons haven't rallied around this regime-change recipe for a reason. While it satisfies the idealistic half of the neocon brain, it leaves the other half nervous and wanting. Above all, many neocons believe that promoting regime change will not stop Iran from getting the bomb. For starters, very few of them share Ledeen's assessment of the regime's health. AEI's Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA specialist, told me, "The Iranian clerical regime has deep roots." Or, as Gary Schmitt of the Project for the New American Century bluntly states, "You're confronted by the fact that the reformers and democrats are stuffed." Then there's the disheartening fact that the U.S. government has no obvious democratic opposition groups on which to shower money and support. While neocons unanimously want greater funding for Los Angeles-based TV networks that beam into Iran, they bemoan the paucity of other options. "There's nothing like the Iraqi National Congress to unite people behind and fund," one Iran hawk laments.
Even if regime change were possible, what happens if it doesn't transpire quickly enough? If the mullahs are able to build nuclear weapons, they will be able to buy themselves an even longer lease on life. Gerecht points out that Iranians have openly contrasted the fates of Kim Jong Il and Saddam, their cohorts in the axis of evil. They have noticed that the dictator with the bomb escaped unscathed, living comfortably behind a nuclear cordon sanitaire. What's more, the mullahs have hinted that they have big plans for their nuclear-protected regime. Sirus Naseri, a trusted regime official who negotiated last month's deal with the Europeans to suspend Iran's uranium-enrichment activities, has said, "We face a crisis. Once we get over this crisis, we can resume what we were hoping to do." Some analysts have found ominous overtones in this cryptic message. With the confidence that it can deter U.S. interference, the mullahs could un-self-consciously finish the job of eliminating their domestic opposition once and for all.
Finally, though neocons argue that democratic regimes are less dangerous, in Iran, the democrats may be just as determined in their pursuit of the bomb as the mullahs. Aside from the MEK, which has been frequently compared to a cult, very few of the regime's opponents have openly criticized the nuclear program. "You have a failure of the opposition to engage the nuclear question," bemoans Hoover's Milani. In fact, even longtime opponents of the regime have defended Tehran's atomic ambitions. Ardeshir Zahedi, who served as a foreign minister under the Shah, argued earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal that there's nothing inherently wrong with an Iranian bomb: "A peaceful Iran with no ambitions to export an ideology or seek regional hegemony would be no more threatening than Britain, which also has a nuclear arsenal." And some longtime advocates of republican government in Iran have gone so far as to applaud the mullahs for protecting the country's sovereign right to develop a nuclear program. That's not to say that a democratic regime wouldn't be far more susceptible to diplomatic prodding than the less-than-rational theocrats. But the fact that the regime's hardened opponents have their own nuclear hopes makes regime change a less attractive solution to the current crisis--further contributing to the policy's paucity of support, even among the neocons who have waxed most Jeffersonian about the virtues of liberal democracy.
he less idealistic side of the neocon mind has its own solution. As Gerecht argues, a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is the "only option that offers a good chance of delaying Iran's production of nuclear weapons." This is a view also held by Krauthammer and Schmitt. The primary model for the operation is Israel's destruction of Iraq's Osirak nuclear plant in 1981. That attack did not destroy Saddam's nuclear program, but it arguably set it back many years. Unfortunately, the Israelis probably couldn't replicate their feat in Iran, at least not without U.S. help, because the country has such an extensive nuclear program. Besides, Israel would likely need permission to fly over Iraq--permission the U.S. government would have to grant. One neocon, who supports an attack, told me, "We'd get blamed for an Israeli attack, so why not just do it ourselves?"
There's an irony to this position. Gerecht has been one of the most vocal critics of the CIA, penning pieces decrying the "sorry state" of the agency. Of course, the efficacy of a strike depends entirely on accurately locating enough nuclear sites to make the venture worthwhile. Put another way, it requires reams of precise intelligence from the bureaucracy Gerecht has long decried. In fact, this reliance on the CIA, an organization that hawks have long battled, has turned some neocons off the option altogether. AEI's Tom Donnelly sarcastically quips, "They got Iraqi WMD so right."
Neocons like Donnelly have also argued that the Osirak parallel doesn't hold. Whereas Iraq in 1981 concentrated its nuclear activity, Iran has dispersed it throughout the country and hidden it well. "It's not a single facility you can take out. They've been very clever about hiding it," former CIA Director James Woolsey told me. So clever, in fact, that U.S. intelligence agencies have not uncovered much of it. Revelations, like the 2002 discovery of nuclear facilities in the towns of Arak and Natanz, have largely originated with the MEK, which has somehow managed to infiltrate Iranian ranks. Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who has studied the preemptive option more carefully than anyone, concludes, "The Israeli raid on Osirak was a unique case, characterized by conditions that are unlikely to be replicated again elsewhere. Preventive action by the United States against Iran's nuclear program today would have to contend with intelligence, military-technical, and political challenges more daunting than those faced by Israel [in 1981]."
Even if a preemptive strike delivered the advertised security benefits, it would still harm the American vision for a democratic Middle East. Unlike Osirak, strikes against Iranian facilities would be far from clinical. The Iranians have reportedly submerged their nuclear workshops in densely populated areas like metropolitan Tehran, locales that guarantee civilian carnage. This carnage might be worth the price, except that it would likely cause the Iranian people to rally nationalistically around the mullahs, further postponing the regime's collapse. "We'd drive all those wonderful students and reformers and disgruntled clergy who are so ready to challenge the government into the mullahs' arms," Woolsey argues. Even supporters of strikes concede this backlash will occur. They just doubt that it will be long-lasting. Gerecht says, "You belittle the opposition by assuming that they will disappear. The constitutional movement goes back nearly a century. It will survive just fine." But, as critics of strikes counter, Iranian nationalism goes back further still. And, even in the current pro-Western climate, without bombs falling on their country, Iranian politicians occasionally squeeze considerable mileage out of anti-Americanism.
A preemptive strike could inadvertently undermine an even more profound neocon objective. "Iraq provides an ideal theater for Iran to exact revenge against us," argues the Council on Foreign Relations' Ray Takeyh. "They have one hundred thousand targets there." The Iranians, of course, have an extensive network of proxies and spies in the country. According to an important investigation by Edward T. Pound in U.S. News & World Report, U.S. intelligence believes this network has sponsored Ansar Al Islam, the group that has orchestrated the insurgency and planned terrorist attacks. The Iranians reportedly plotted to assassinate L. Paul Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and they issue a $500 bounty for each coalition soldier that insurgents kill. But all this trouble represents only a fraction of the problems the Iranians could cause if they wanted--for instance, in the relatively peaceful Shia south, where they could decisively crush any chance for success in Iraq by forcing the coalition to fight the insurgency on yet another bloody front. In other words, a preemptive strike against Iran would likely trigger a chain of events that would doom neoconservatism's grandest experiment.
o be sure, the neocons have rallied around one policy prescription: They want Iran's nuclear transgressions referred to the U.N. Security Council, where the United States can push the international community to collectively punish the mullahs. But that's not much of a solution, either. The United States can be reasonably sure that Russia and China will veto any sanctions against Iran. But this stopgap proposal is itself revealing. It is neocons who have pushed the debate in the direction of the much-loathed United Nations, a course they would only suggest in a state of confusion.
In all the public reconsideration of the Iraq war, neocons have barely wrestled with the implications of the invasion's failure for their worldview, content to blame the mess on errors of execution. The Iran debate, however, exposes as much as their writings on Iraq omit. For decades, a near-limitless belief in U.S. power has bridged neocon foreign policy thinking. That's why it is stunning to hear so many neocons ultimately express pessimism about the Bush administration's prospects for preventing the Iranian bomb. "The horse is ninety percent out of the barn," says Donnelly. "They're going to get the bomb unless we invade. That's not an option. So, I'd say, the time to stop this from happening has pretty much passed. Now, the question is, what are you going to do about it?"
And there's no surer sign that neoconservatism has been chastened than the manner in which neocons describe themselves when discussing Iran. Where many of them once unabashedly self-identified as members of an intellectual movement, they now deny that such a movement ever existed. They refer to neoconservatism in quotation marks, as if the term were merely a concoction of overactive left-wing imaginations. David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, told me, "This really is an example of what academics call essentialism. Hostile critics invent this thing called neoconservatism that unfailingly favors unilateral military force. But, when the so-called 'neoconservatives' examine Iran and don't advocate the use of unilateral military force, the critics feel like a dirty trick has been played upon them." Denial may be the first step on the path to recovery.
US Clarifies Trade Sanctions To Allow Dissident Views[Excerpt]
December 15, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department on Wednesday clarified U.S. trade sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan, allowing publication of dissident and academic views from these countries.
Previous guidance on trade sanctions was interpreted by some as discouraging publication of dissident speech, said Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary in charge of the office of terrorism and financial intelligence.
"That is the opposite of what we want," Levey said in a press release. "This new policy will ensure those dissident voices and others will be heard without undermining our sanctions policy."
On Sept. 27, U.S. publishing industry groups sued the U.S. Treasury Department in federal court over what they described as continued attempts to control publication of information and literature from embargoed countries. The plaintiffs - including the Association of American Publishers, the Association of University Presses and the PEN American Center - said Treasury rulings had created uncertainty and confusion for publishers.
Under the new Treasury rule U.S. citizens and firms are allowed to freely engage in Cuba, Iran and Sudan in most "transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to the publishing of manuscripts, books, journals and newspapers..., in paper or electronic format."
Prohibitions remain on publishing activities involving the governments of the three countries, with an exception for academic and research institutions.
Restrictions also remain on operation of publishing houses, sales outlets or other offices in the three countries. But the sale and export of books to these countries continues to be allowed, Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said.
The U.S. has had Cuba under a trade embargo since 1963, Iran under trade sanctions since 1995 and Sudan under trade sanctions since 1997. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control oversees the sanctions. ...
-By Campion Walsh, Dow Jones Newswires; 202 862 9249; campion.walsh@ dowjones.com
Everything in this article might be absolutely true. Unfortunately, due to our past experiences with Chalabi's people and the missing WMDs in Iraq, as well as our past experience with Iranian "moderates", the story will be laughed off and dismissed as lacking any probative value.
I can tell you Rep. Curt Weldon has long been a strong supporter of American national security (meaning, it's been his focus, or one of them). I have a great deal of respect for him. I remember hearing him in the '90's being highly critical of Russia, that was when I first heard of him (I was only a teenager back then, plus consider that the Internet of then was hardly anything like it is now). I'm certain that he's not publishing the book for primarily money reasons. Sure, he'll enjoy the rewards of his labors (hey, this is capitalism - work hard, then get paid for your labors). But please take note that writing a book will get you more attention than a press conference or a speech in Congress. If nothing else, maybe it can help eliminate the insanity that has captured nearly all newsrooms - that we're just fighting rougue elements in Iraq. No, people - we're fighting Iran. Iran has killed hundreds of American soldiers in the last year and a half. Stop making the ill-informed think we're fighting Iraqis! Not anymore than the 9/11 hijackers were Americans.
Anyway, needless to say, I'll be look forward to Weldon's book. It appears that it may contain some explosive information. I hope so. Hopefully, it'll be a bestseller...
Very encouraged about Iraq's comments on Iran and Syria! I'm sure they are getting some behind-the-scenes messages that they better stop if they know what's good for them (of course they won't, of course). And BUsh finally talked about Iran! Not much, the standard line, but it is a start. I'm looking to some substantial Iranian references in the State of the Union in about a month and a half or so. If he doesn't mention Iran, I'll be shocked and sorely disappointed. At any rate, I'm hoping he can recount with pleasure the successful Iraqi elections. The Afghan elections went just fine. From all accounts, I'd say it went smoother than the 2000 US presidential election!
Freedom on the march...
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