Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - December 23, 2004 [EST] - Iran: A New Approach (CPD) + Several Must Read Reports
Posted on 12/23/2004 12:50:27 AM PST by DoctorZIn
Top News Story
Iran - A New Approach
The Committee on the Present Danger Policy Paper
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran presents a fundamental threat to peace, for all signs point to his determination to develop nuclear weapons. Irans people, on the other hand, are our allies. They want to free themselves from Khameneis oppression and they want Iran to join the community of prosperous, peaceful democracies.
The recent agreement Iran made with France, Germany and Britain to temporarily halt uranium enrichment, while it may slow down its overall program, will do so only briefly.
What is needed is a permanent cessation of Irans uranium enrichment activities (unless it can be proven the program is for peaceful purposes only), including inspection of recently-revealed secret nuclear facilities, along with those sites already agreed upon.
If there were in place an international clearing house and monitoring system for using existing enriched uranium for peaceful purposes only, countries seeking it for such purposes would not have to develop their own enrichment capacity. In the absence of such a system, it must be made clear to Iran that the alternative to a permanent agreement to suspend its enrichment activities will be stiff economic sanctions-- something Iran does not want. A number of strategies can be put in place quickly to build pressure to both reduce the threat and to promote democratic change in Iran.
Threat and Opportunity
The centrality of the threat posed by Iran is clear. In addition to its peace-threatening nuclear program, Iran under Khamenei, continues to be the worlds foremost state supporter of terrorism, offering financial and logistical support to both Shi'a and Sunni terrorist organizations, including Hizballah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Elements of al-Qaida and Ansar al-Islam transit through Iran and find safe haven there. Through these groups Khamenei destabilizes the region, prevents the emergence of an independent and democratic Lebanon and tries to stymie any movement toward peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Khamenei supports Moqtada al-Sadr and others in Iraq who want it to become another theocratic dictatorship under Iranian tutelage. He is seeking regional hegemony, both ideologically and militarily. His growing oil wealth increases his capacity for wreaking havoc on his own people and the region.
The opportunity is equally clear. The votes of the Iranian people in the elections of 1997 and 2001, and in repeated public demonstrations from 1999 to the present, have been widely interpreted as strong expressions of support for democracy and change.
Numerous leading religious and reformist figures have spoken against Khameneis rule and his unwillingness to establish normal relations with the United States. The repression, failed economic policies and corruption of the Khamenei regime have led to deep alienation.
The geostrategic situation increasingly favors the forces of democracy around and inside Iran. Should progress continue toward a stable, democratic Afghanistan and Iraq, and with reform moving ahead elsewhere in the region, Khameneis dictatorship becomes an increasingly isolated and dangerous anachronism. A new and democratic government in Iran would be a major contribution toward transformation of the region from its present backwardness and strife to a one of growing peace, prosperity and freedom.
Given the scale of the threat and the promise of the opportunity, Iran must move to the top of Americas foreign policy agenda for the next four years. We need a fresh approach that appeals to, encourages and empowers the Iranian people. We need to rally our allies around a strategy that takes into account their commitment to traditional diplomacy, while putting all of us together on the offensive vis-à-vis Khamenei. We need to relearn the lessons of what has worked, not just in negotiating with the Soviet Union through a position of strength (while simultaneously opening up eastern and central Europe and supporting the forces of democracy), but also in the transition from dictatorship to democracy in countries from Chile to Indonesia.
Opening up dictatorships is key to helping the forces of change. We were on the ground with an embassy and support programs for Solidarity in Poland, which played a central role in the nonviolent transition to democracy. Nonviolent movements based on alliances between students, workers and intellectuals, leading to massive demonstrations and general strikes, have worked in dozens of countries in the past three decades; they worked in Iran itself. The reawakening of Irans tradition of student activism, a predominant force in the 1978-79 overthrow of the Shah, is not lost on Khamenei and should not be lost on us.
Elements of a new American policy:
The administration should announce clearly a new approach to U.S. policy and be prepared to pursue it in a sustained manner. The highest profile announcement would be a speech by the President. The stated purpose of the announcement would be a pledge by the United States to reconnect with the Iranian people, to help the vast majority of Iranians who want democracy to achieve it and thereby join the community of democratic nations, to assure their security in return for not acquiring nuclear weapons and to help develop their economy. Recognizing that the major barrier to Iranians seizing their freedom is their current mood of pessimism and isolation, the Presidents announcement would be voicing our confidence in their ability to succeed and our determination to assist them.
We should announce our willingness to reopen our embassy in Tehran. At the same time, one of our highest-ranking officials should be designated as the key person in our new policy toward Iran. An example of such a person is the State Departments Counselor. The Counselor must be prepared to assert regularly his or her strong human rights advocacy and commitment to democracy for Iran. While it is unlikely that Khamenei would move ahead rapidly (it is well to remember that his predecessor closed our embassy 25 years ago because of his fear of the Great Satans influence on Iranians, and Khamenei continues to limit contact with the United States), we will have demonstrated that we are exhausting all remedies. The Counselor would be the point person for our new policy and Iran warrants the nearly-full-time attention of such a senior official.
There is an extensive agenda with or without the early opening of an embassy. The Counselor can work to generate support from our allies, speak frequently with the Iranian people via radio/tv/internet and meet directly with Iranians wherever possible. He or she should concentrate on direct outreach to the Iranian people rather than solely engaging with Iranian government officials. The Counselor should understand that engagement with officials without engagement with ordinary Iranians will be interpreted by the Iranian people as abandonment of democracy. Discussion with Iranian officials should be limited to those with sufficient power to make decisions--such as those in the Office of the Supreme Leader--rather than with ordinary diplomats in the Foreign Ministry.
Nuclear Weapons. President Bush has voiced skepticism about Irans suspension of its nuclear enrichment program (a program which could lead to the creation of weapons). He has emphasized the need for third-party verification of all related sites in Iran. While we should work carefully and multilaterally in this regard, any verification failure should lead immediately to taking the matter to the United Nation Security Council for the imposition of sanctions. Khamenei should also understand that if he does not comply with legitimate international requirements to keep his nuclear weapons development program suspended, we and others reserve the right to take out or cripple his nuclear capabilities.
The case of Libyas Muammar Qaddafi is instructive. Through an interplay of allied strength and diplomacy he became persuaded to give up his stealth program to produce weapons of mass destruction. The lesson here is that dictators who feel sufficiently threatened can be persuaded to give up their WMD ambitions. We can accept no less in the case of an even more dangerous Khamenei. The window of opportunity will not remain open indefinitely. Some say it is already too late to stop Khameneis nuclear ambition and that we will just have to live with it. We must make clear that we will not accept Irans possession of a nuclear weapon, and we must be willing to reinforce that position.
Supporting Iranian Democrats and Dissidents. Ultimately, it is Iranians themselves who will make the breakthrough to democracy and remove Khamenei from power. We need to make clear that they are our partners in a new dialogue and that even as we meet with representatives of the Khamenei regime, we consider these to be illegitimate.
There are many time-tested ways in which we can help, particularly with younger Iranians and women as the major agents of change. Cultural, academic, and professional exchanges and programs must form an integral part of our efforts to assist Iranians in the democratization of their country. Visiting scholars--even tourists--have considerable freedom of movement and association. Young activists from democratic countries could also enter Iran as tourists to meet with their Iranian counterparts and to join in demonstrations. We should authorize American NGOs to operate within Iran. We should also tie U.S. visas for Iranians to those that Iran grants to Americans. For example, if Iran refuses to allow, say, American student groups or scholars to visit their country, then we should bar a number of Iranian officials, their family members and business partners from ours.
It is also important to get young Iranian activists abroad for short seminars with counterparts who have been successful in organizing civic campaigns in Serbia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Chile and elsewhere. (These activists should be chosen by U.S. officials, not by Iranian institutions.) Embassies of the democracies can give support in many ways: attendance at trials, joint petitions for release of political prisoners, financial assistance to prisoners families and democratic groups, training, witnessing and even participating in demonstrations. Iran should receive the highest priority in funding from our public and private democracy/human rights organizations. Congress should consider an Iran Freedom Act to generate adequate resources for relevant NGOs.
Undermining pillars of support. To remain in power, Khamenei relies upon his security services. In 1978-79 the Shahs largely peasant-based army disintegrated in the face of massive street demonstrations. The Shahs hated secret police, SAVAK, was overwhelmed.
Faced with demonstrations in 2002, Khamenei was unsure the army would obey his orders and resorted to using hired paramilitary thugs. The United States has opportunities to develop relations with the military and various services in Iran and should seek to do so. Our forces in the region, the CIA, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and others have issues to work on, ranging from cross-border threats to terrorism to drugs. One objective in these relationships should be to make clear that those there who cooperate in the transition to democracy can thrive on the other side (as many others in former dictatorships have done), but those who persist in committing crimes against the Iranian people or others will be prosecuted. We should specifically call for the eradication of the Islamic Guard Corps and the Basij, for reform or elimination of the Ministry of Information and an investigation into the governments support for vigilante groups such as Ansar al-Hizballah.
Smart sanctions. As Khamenei and his regime are the problem and the Iranian people our natural allies, we should develop sanctions that target the Supreme Leader and his close circle of support, so that the sanctions are not seen by the people as harmful to them.
In April 1997 a German court implicated Irans leaders in the assassination of their opponents in Berlin. This ruling had an impact on Iranian opinion, contributing to the big vote for Khatami that year, perceived as a reformer. Deftly making it known that a case is being marshaled against Khamenei would create good leverage. U.S. Government agencies, working closely with human rights organizations, could begin gathering evidence. Then, we could seek the cooperation of like-minded governments, leading toward creation of an international tribunal to try Khamenei.
Crimes for which evidence could be gathered include financing and facilitating terrorists, corruption, the torture and murder of Khameneis opponents at home and abroad and development of weapons of mass destruction in violation of the Non-proliferation Treaty and other accords. We have precedent for a special tribunal gathering evidence against and eventually indicting a leader still in office in the case of Liberias President Charles Taylor and the UN-approved Sierra Leone tribunal. In Taylors case, having an Interpol arrest warrant out against him has had a significant impact in delegitimizing and undermining him.
Other smart sanctions also can be developed. Irans Revolutionary Foundations (bunyads) control 35 percent of Irans import-export business and are directly controlled by Khamenei. The Iranian people are well aware that despite protestations of moral leadership, Khamenei and certain mullahs and their supporters have grown rich and corrupt. The United States and other nations are becoming more expert at identifying the economic crimes and assets of dictators and their supporters. We should undertake a major effort to identify those companies and accounts associated with Khamenei and his entourage and develop sanctions targeting them. We should use our existing sanctions as rewards for progress on specific agenda items of concern to us, such as human rights, terrorism, nuclear weapons and regional peace.
Television, radio and internet. The U.S. Governments Farsi-language Radio Farda (Tomorrow) and several hours weekly of VOA television are a beginning, but not enough if we are going to effectively communicate directly with the Iranian people. A number of private U.S.-based Iranian satellite television stations exist, but they are underfunded and thus unable to achieve their real potential. A budget equal to that of Radio Farda and VOA television should be made available to them. At least $10 million annually should be appropriated to assist independent television, radio and internet communications with the Iranian people.
Dialogue with Khamenei about his return to the mosque. Dictators are acutely conscious of their vulnerability, even their mortality. A dialogue with them about a way to exit peacefully from political power, combined with credible indications of the alternatives (jail or hanging), can play an important role. Who could conduct such a dialogue with Khamenei? President Khatami has the legal right to hold such a dialogue, but he has been weak to date. Iranians and their democratic friends should be looking for such a person or group. Shi'a clerics with high religious standing in both Iran and Iraq argue that mullahs do damage to their own influence and prestige when they try to run the everyday secular affairs of the state. We should encourage the Houzeh (the traditional Shia religious establishment) to reinforce the position that, short of the return of the Hidden Imam, clerical rule is by nature corrupt and detrimental to the status of religion in society. Perhaps they could join together to approach Khamenei--initially in private--to urge that he cede secular power to those elected by the people, and to make clear that they will go public with this demand if he resists.
Dialogue with the Iranian government. We should state our willingness to meet with Iranian officials to discuss issues of concern to us, such as human rights, terrorism, nuclear weapons, regional stability. We should also reiterate that trade and investment relations can move forward (and sanctions removed) as progress is made in these areas.
For far too long an academic debate over engagement vs. containment, dialogue vs. regime change has dominated and weakened Americas approach to Iran. Some argue that Iran is not on the verge of another revolution and we should just engage in a dialogue. Others argue that a dialogue will strengthen and perpetuate the regime, and we should try to bring it down through isolation, arming a resistance inside the country and maybe eventually carrying out another Iraq-style invasion. The Committee on the Present Danger believes that we need a new approach, one based on a sober recognition of the threat Khamenei presents, but also an appreciation of our new strengths and the opportunity before us. We recommend a peaceful but forceful strategy to engage with the Iranian people to remove the threat and establish the strong relationship which is in both nations and the regions interests.
Committee on the Present Danger
P.O. Box 65196
Washington, D.C. 20035
December 20, 2004
Click here for a copy of the report.
"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!
"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin
Nuclear Iran: Race Against Time
12/23/2004By Ryan Mauro
If one day, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israels possessionon that day this method of global arrogance would come to an end. This is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam. ---Former Iranian President Rafsanjani on December 14, 2001.
During the Presidential campaign, Iran became one of the major foreign policy crisis issues, with both candidates agreeing it's the world's greatest threat today. While North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, and the Administration has failed to find any actual weapons in Iraq, Iran is fast at work on its own nuclear arsenal. The worlds most active state sponsor of terrorism will have it's own nuclear bomb in one or two years. And worse, the actual creation of the fissile material needed for the bomb is set to begin within months. From this point, sanctions or bombing raids will be unable to adequately delay the nuclear program.
Some even claim Iran already has nuclear weapons. The former director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Yossef Bodansky, has claimed just that in his book, "The High Cost of Peace". Before I quote from that book, please take note that I lack the ability to confirm these claims (although I have seen these same details in the overseas press reports over the years). It is possible that Iran obtained nuclear devices in the late 1980s or early 1990s, but that these devices are unable to be usedthe book does not say if the status of the weapons is known. The books statements on Irans nuclear program are as follows:
Even before the final Soviet breakup, and while Tehran was beginning its talks with Beijing, Iranian intelligence operatives were scouring Soviet Central Asia for weapons, technologies, and nuclear material, in search of a shortcut to operational nuclear capabilities. In summer 1991, one of these operatives was offered access to nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan. Tehran dispatched a delegation of senior officials, including US-educated physicists, who returned convinced that the offer was genuine. In early September, the Iranian delegation returned to Kazakhstan to renew negotiations. Their Kazakh interlocutor told them he was speaking for a group of about twenty-five security, scientific, and government officials who were willing to obtain the atomic bombs for Iran. The weapons would come in separate pieces from different sites throughout Central Asia, but the group would assemble these pieces into operational weapons. At the same time, the Iranians and their allies initiated a comprehensive effort to acquire delivery capabilitiesboth ballistic missiles and strike aircraft.
These developments boosted Tehrans confidence in its ability to implement its grand strategic design. As Hashemi-Rafsanjani would put it later in the year, it had fallen to Iran to acquire nuclear weapons for the entire region, if only because the Arabs had proved incapable of doing so. Such weapons would be the key to a rejuvenated and vibrant Islamic unity. With them, Hashemi-Rafsanjani concluded, it would be possible to eliminate the Western presence in the Middle East and liberate Jerusalem....
...In December, the Kazakh deal came to fruitition, and Iran made its first purchase of nuclear weapons. The deal included two 40-kiloton warheads for a SCUD-type surface-to-surface ballistic missile; one aerial bomb of the type carried by a MiG-27; and one 152-mm nuclear artillery shell. These weapons reached initial operational status in late January 1992 and full operational status a few months later.
On October 10, Khameini made an inspection tour of the special facilities of the Air Forces Eighty Shahid Babai Base in Isfahan, where Irans aerial nuclear bomb was stored. Iran intended to use this bomb in a kamikaze-style attack against a US Navy carrier in the Persian Gulf. Iran had several North Korean-trained pilots willing to undertake the mission, all of them with extensive operational experience, qualified on the latest Soviet aircraft.
Irans two nuclear warheads were fitted to their ballistic missiles at Isfahan, although the warheads themselves were usually stored in Lavizan, in the Tehran area. Khameini also visited these facilities and discussed the shift of emphasis from indigenous development of missiles to massive purchases abroad. He emphasized the long-range importance of developing and producing strategic weapons in Iran; however, he explained, under certain emergency conditions foreign weapons could be acquired with our pride intact.
While all this was going on, Tehran was not neglecting its nuclear arsenal. In the fall of 1992, Iran signed a new deal with officials in Kazakhstan for the purchase of four 50-kiloton nuclear warheads, upgraded and adapted to fit on the SSMs purchased from North Korea...Rahmani confirmed that four warheads had indeed been purchased but added that their delivery was postponed due to a technical problemensuring clandestine support. The warheads were eventually shipped to North Korea, where they were optimized for the soon-to-be-delivered Nodong-1 SSMs.
In October 2002, Debkafile, which apparently has close ties to Israeli intelligence, reported that they believed that Iran had a basic nuclear bomb do to the assistance of scientists and technicians from Pakistan, Russia, China and North Korea. Of course, I cannot confirm if this is true, and there has been little corroboration to support the claim. However, there is evidence that Iran is discussing the purchase of North Korean nuclear weapons.
As a close ally of the Communist regime, and the regimes top customer, such negotiations can be assumed to be occurring. It is understood by the experts that North Korea first seeks to secure its future by creating a nuclear deterrentbut once that deterrent is achieved, it is likely entire nuclear bombs or critical components will be sold for large amounts of money. The cash-strapped regimes most likely customer for this is of course, Iran. Should sanctions delay Irans nuclear ambitions, or should an attack by Israel or America become imminent, it is likely that Iran will opt to buy a nuclear weapon. It appears that the Iranians feel that obtaining such a bomb before the West can take action will secure the regime from such action.
Both Debkafile and terrorism expert, Michael Ledeen (author of War Against the Terror Masters) have written articles confirming that negotiations have been taking place since the first quarter of 2003. Unfortunately, there is no reporting to confirm or deny if a deal has been reached. The only thing that can be confirmed is that at the very least, North Korea is helping Iran in its quest for an Islamic bomb.
Over the summer, the government of South Korea confirmed that teams of North Korean and Iranian nuclear scientists had several meetings. The meetings began producing results in August, if the media reports are to be trusted. Negotiations for the purchase of a Taepo-Dong-2 ballistic missile by Iran were reported to be in their advanced stages, probably to be finished in mid-October. The missile gives Iran the ability to strike mostly anywhere in Europe and Asia. This caused a media frenzy, and soon reports began filtering out about the cooperation between the two rogue states.
The mainstream press, particularly in Japan, began finding out the details of the duos talks. Among the revelations were that: Korean military scientists were recently spotted entering suspected nuclear sites in Iran, possibly to test a nuclear warhead; so many Koreans are in Iran that a special Caspian Sea resort was made for them; negotiations for an agreement on the joint development of nuclear warheads are set to be finished in October; and Iranian nuclear experts had visited North Korea in March, April and May, possibly to learn how to keep the program alive despite inspections and internal pressure.
The Bush Administration and Israel apparently believes Iran is not yet a nuclear power, but will be around 2005. We cannot know the status of their nuclear weapons capabilities. There are several possibilities:
A: The reports are untrue, and Iran has no nuclear weapon. The main concern truly is about Irans plans to produce a nuke on its own.
B: The reports are true, and Iran has nuclear weapons bought abroad.
C: The reports are true, and Iran has bought nukes abroad, but they are inoperable.
It is anybodys guess which of the possibilities is accurate.
Ever since members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian opposition group labeled as a terrorist organization (some members are militant, most are now just attached to the oppositions efforts) disarmed in Iraq in late May, 2003 and gave intelligence to the US, the pressure on Iran has built up. The political branch of MEK reported on May 26th that Iran had two uranium-enrichment facilities west of Tehran, which operate as satellite plants to the larger facility centered at Natanz. The Iranians reportedly had already installed several centrifuges at one of the sites. The purpose of the sites, besides to assist in the nuclear program, is to take over the work of the Natanz site should it be bombed. The dissidents explained that there were small, dispersed sites around Iran to prepare for an Israeli or American air campaign, and they listed 8 businesses used as front companies to obtain components for the program. They confirmed that the goal set by Iran was to become a nuclear power in 2005.
It didnt take long for the IAEA to report that Iran was suspected of violating international treaty, by concealing the import of nuclear materials and not reporting the construction of sites to process uranium. From the wealth of information provided by the dissidents, the United States and Israel agreed that theyre window of opportunity amounted to less than a year, because at the earliest, Iran could begin producing nukes in the end of the fall of 2004. By the summer of 2004, the uranium enrichment program will be finished, and therefore, unstoppable by anything short of regime change. At the end of 2007, the infrastructure will be large enough and advanced enough to allow for the production of up to 15 nuclear weapons a year. Eventually, no air raid would be able to destroy their plans. The facilities were large in number, were disguised, and dispersed. Some were even hardened to protect against explosions.
By the beginning of July, the pressure had an impact on the IAEA to express concern about Iran.
Inspectors stated that they were puzzled by Irans uranium program, and said they were receiving unsatisfactory answers to their questions about the activity related to converting imported uranium to enriched uranium metal. Nevertheless, the IAEA refused to cite Iran as in direct violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The IAEA revelations revealed several things:
- In 1991, Iran imported 1.8 kilograms of uranium, and did not declare it.
- Traces of UF6 were found in soil samples at Natanz, which indicated the centrifuges may have already been used.
- Iran was developing sophisticated laser technology that can be used to enrich uranium. Iran has already converted 400 kg of UF4 into uranium metal (done in 2000) at the Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Labs at the Tehran Nuclear Research Center. UF4, or, uranium tetraflouride, is a compound that comes from uranium processing. UF6, or uranium hexafluoride, is another compound that indicates the process of uranium enrichment. The fact that UF6 was found, and that UF4 can be confirmed to be converted into metal, is a clear sign of an ongoing nuclear program.
- The report acknowledged that there were signs that Iran had used UF6 gas bought from China (and not declared) and used it to test four centrifuges, as part of the plan to make a centrifuge production facility at Natanz. Inspectors noticed that 1.9 kilograms was missing from the containers, and may have been used. Iran claims that over the many years they had the containers, the sealing caps became loose and the gas evaporated. Further inspection however showed that the caps fitted perfectly, and there was no way for evaporation to occur.
The Los Angeles Times finished their three-month investigation into the matter in the first week of August. They confirmed that Iran was trying to obtain nuclear bombs, had a concealment program to hide it, and was using the scientists and technology of Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea to pursue it. It concluded that several research labs were hidden, and that one plant was disguised as a watch-making factory in Tehran. It also mentioned that in June, inspectors were denied access to two large rooms and barred from testing soil samples at a factory known as Kalaye Electric Company. The New York Times was also convinced, stating that Iran appeared to be planning to mine uranium, convert it to a gas, and transform it into nuclear fuel using centrifuges. The current array of 1,000 centrifuges was enough to make one nuke a year. They also opined that the reason Iran was focusing mainly on using uranium as a nuclear fuel was because using plutonium requires reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, which requires a reprocessing plant. Such a plant is believed to be in its infant stages of construction today. By the end of the month, Iran was forced to admit that they had foreign assistance in building a uranium enrichment facility south of Tehran, which the UN evidence indicated was Pakistan.
This is certainly what Israeli intelligence indicated. Debkafile reported that in the middle of May, President Musharraf of Pakistan had dispatched a team of nuclear engineers to Iran with blueprints for the construction of gas centrifuges, and the team still is in Iran.
On September 8th, the IAEA issued another warning about Iran. Inspectors had visited an underground uranium enrichment facility at Natanz that contained approximately 1,000 gas centrifuges, accommodations for about 1,000 people, and components for up to 50,000 centrifuges. This is the same facility that traces of weapons-grade uranium was found, which Iran only recently admitted to having once the dissidents revealed it (the site was denied for the past five years). Sophisticated equipment to enrich uranium to the level needed for use in nuclear weapons was found. There were two large halls inside the site that have the features of a facility used to conduct uranium enrichment. The halls were 25 feet underground with a concrete barrier that is eight feet thick, apparently to protect the site from air assault.
Despite denials, Iran was forced to admit they used nuclear materials for research and have made uranium metal. There was also concern about a heavy-water facility at Arak, also kept secret and undeclared until exiles revealed it. If Iran was simply going for an alternate fuel supply, thered be no purpose for a heavy-water facility! The Bushehr complex is to be run by light-water reactor. But heavy water, with an extra hydrogen atom, is needed to make plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Israeli intelligence was reporting that Russia had secretly sold to Iran an advanced AVRII uranium enrichment processor system installed at Natanz and the super-secret Moallen Kalayeh site. By the end of the month, Israel warned that Iran would reach the point of no return on its nuclear quest in 1 year. The head of the IAEA also said that Iran had shopped on black market for components related to a nuclear program. It was leaked that the major suspected nuclear sites are at Arak, Natanz, Esfahan, and Kashan. This does not even include the sites this article has listed.
Due to the failure of Kays inspection team to find WMD in Iraq, I have heard several people question the claim that Iran does indeed have a nuclear program. However, in this case, the program is much more obviously for weapons, than for an alternative energy source, like Iran claims. Simple logic disproves these claims, as an alternate energy source means that the nuclear power industry lacks fuel. If the industry lacks fuel, why is there a program for a closed-loop nuclear fuel cycle? Another point: If Iran produced its own nuclear fuel, it will cost two to four times as much as buying foreign nuclear fuel.
The country also is rich in natural gas and oil. There is enough to take care of its needs for centuries, which is another reason that the claim that the program is for an alternative fuel source is suspicious. Besides, it will cost several more times to produce electricity from uranium than from petroleum.
Irans nuclear weapons program is huge and complex. The Russian-built and Russian-managed nuclear reactor at Bushehr is the center of the complex, and the most critical aspect of it. The reactor will be activated in late 2004 or 2005, at which time it will be able to provide the electrical power production required to enrich the uranium fuel. In May 2003, Iran and Russia finished plans for the delivery of the first 90 tons of enriched uranium to Iran. Once the uranium is enriched sufficiently, it can become the fuel used to cause a nuclear explosion. Talks are already underway for Russia to help with construction of a second reactor at Bushehr (and up to 6 more by 2018, but there is no telling what will happen before then).
There are uranium deposits in the Jazd province, which even if they are quickly depleted for the weapons program (the deposits only contain 50 grams of uranium per every 100 kilograms of uranium), is enough to produce a few nuclear warheads over the next couple of years. The complexes used to make the actual weapons are also available, and soon will be activated.
In 2005, the uranium-separation facility at Erdekan will be activated. The uranium-concentrate complex around Isfahan will also be activated at that time, most likely in late 2003 or early 2004. Iran also has plans to build a uranium-conversion facility and a uranium-enrichment facility, approximately 150 kilometers from Isfahan, which is believed to be activated within 1-3 years. Parts of the Isfahan complex are scientific laboratories which will produce the fuel necessary for water-cooled reactors, as well as sites to produce the fuel-assembly cases.
The Iranian program is not limited, and is focused on the creation of a close-looped fuel cycle. This means Iran will be able to create its own fuel for its own nuclear bombs by 2006. Perhaps the scariest thing about the program is that the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is unable to do much about it. It is obvious countries like France, Russia, and China will oppose any meaningful action to stop the program, and most likely will stop any meaningful sanctions (which could only stall the ultimate result). Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is allowed to produce highly-enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium, as long as they are stockpiled at separate facilities, and the UN can inspect the sites.
At the same time, Iran is permitted to collect the materials and resources needed to produce the weapons from the fissile materials, which takes very little time. When ready, Iran can violate the treaty and kick out inspectors and begin assembling nukes right away (it is unlikely there will be a collective decisive response to the action in time to stop Iran from having nukes). Iran can also abide by the rules, and announce its nuclear plans six months in advance, and count on the slim chance that the world community will be able to do much about it in that time.
The race against time has begun. Time is not on our side, and neither is the international community. Sanctions can extend the time we have to stop this from occurring, but it is unlikely that Russia, France and China will allow such sanctions to be put in place. Bombing raids could extend the time limit, but they are unlikely to succeed in destroying the program. At best, the results of the program can be delayed for months. The race against time has begun. The clock is ticking.
 The High Cost of Peace: How Washingtons Middle East Policy Left America Vulnerable to Terrorism by Yossef Bodansky. 2002. Prima Publishing, Roseville, California. Pages 76-77.
 Ibid., pages 8487.
 Debkafile, Sept. 25, 2003.
 Al-Zaman, June 12, 2003.
 Middle East Newsline, August 7, 2003.
 Washington Times, August 7, 2003.
 New York Times, May 26, 2003.
 New York Post, June 18, 2003.
 Middle East Newsline, June 8, 2003.
 Debkafile, June 26, 2003.
 Middle East Newsline, June 29, 2003.
 Middle East Newsline, July 1, 2003.
 Geostrategy-Direct.com, week of July 8, 2003.
 Debkafile, June 26, 2003.
 LA Times, August 5, 2003.
 New York Times, Aug 3, 2003.
 Washington Post, August 27, 2003.
 Debkafile, June 26, 2003.
 London Sunday Telegraph, September 8, 2003.
 Debkafile, August 28, 2003.
 Haaretz, August 30, 2003.
 New York Times, August 3, 2003.
Ryan Mauro has been a geopolitical analyst for Tactical Defense Concepts (www.tdconcepts.com), a maritime-associated security company, since 2002. In 2003, Mr. Mauro joined the Northeast Intelligence Network (www.homelandsecurityus.com), which specializes in tracking and assessing terrorist threats. He has been published in WorldNetDaily.com, Newsmax.com, StrategyPage.com, WorldTribune.com, HomelandSecurityUS.com, JRNyquist.com and in the Turkistan Newsletter (Turkistan Bulteni). He is a frequent writer for Milnet.com as well. He has appeared on radio shows including The Al Rantel Show, WIBG Radio, WorldNetDaily Radioactive with Joseph Farah, Jeff Nyquist Program, Kevin McCullough Show, Laurie Roth Show, Tovia Singer Show, Stan Major Show, and Preparedness Now. His book "Death to America: The Unreported Battle of Iraq" is scheduled to be published in the coming months.
Iran's Military PowerDecember 09, 2004
The Center for Strategic & International Studies
Anthony Cordesman, CSIS Arleigh Burke Chair in Strategy, and Robert Einhorn, CSIS senior adviser, assessed Irans developing military capabilities and its prospects for proliferation.
Listen to the Audio>
Read Cordesman's latest report on Iran's Military Power:
Read Einhorn's Washington Quarterly article on Iran's Nuclear Program: Report>
IRANS MILITARY POWER
Experts to Discuss Irans Capabilities, Threat of Proliferation
December 9, 2004
Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh Burke Chair in Strategy, CSIS
Robert Einhorn, Senior Advisor, CSIS
Patrick Cronin, Director of Studies, CSIS
Patrick Cronin: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to the Center for Strategic and International studies. Im Patrick Cronin, Director of Studies and on behalf of CSIS were delighted to bring to you today a very important and timely program on Irans developing military capabilities and its prospects for proliferation.
We have two of the countrys finest analysts on these issues here today to talk about these very important issues.
Iran is a top security prospect and issue for the United States and for countries around the world. Its a country that has lost some of its revolutionary fervor but its also lost some of its democratic momentum lately. Its a resource rich land with an apparent thirst for nuclear energy and weapons of mass destruction. Its a country that maintains such complex relations with so many countries around the world as we will soon hear with respect to its military capabilities.
Everybody is entitled to his own opinion. James Schlesinger, our Trustee, once said, but not his own facts. Theres nobody better at analyzing the facts than Anthony Cordesman who is our Arleigh Burke Chair in Strategy and one of the finest military analysts in the land. Hes a prolific author. His books are widely available. Hes issued a new report today on Irans military power that he will give a short summary of some of the highlights of that report. I encourage you to read the details. There are a lot of interesting footnotes and facts tucked away in the 80 pages of this report.
He will be joined on this panel by one of the countrys finest non-proliferation experts, Robert Einhorn, former Assistant Secretary of State covering nonproliferation issues.
Wed like to turn to Dr. Cordesman first to talk about the developing military capabilities of Iran, the facts, what we know, what we dont know; and then turn to Bob Einhorn to look specifically at the weapons of mass destruction/proliferation issues and the prospects for halting proliferation from Iran.
I turn to Tony Cordesman.
Anthony Cordesman: Thank you very much, Pat. The report Ive given you has a great deal of detail and there are reasons for that. I think time and again when people over-simplify military analysis, they make judgments about the size and structure of units, which often end up reflecting more their political views or their policy views than the facts and the actual capabilities. I should say that is in any case where you describe a foreign country there are significant uncertainties but the broad trends are fairly clear. This is a country that does have a mixed record in terms of its security position in the region. Some of the trends have been relatively positive. Since its defeat at the end of the Iran/Iraq war there have been reports of massive rearmament plans but in the years that have followed those plans have never been executed and there is no evidence that Iran has ever been willing to spend the money that would be required to actually rebuild the kind of capabilities it had relative to the other Gulf states under the Shah.
It has instead moved towards different types of warfare asymmetric warfare through groups like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is one example. Proliferation is another. Its important to understand where we begin.
Estimates differ as to just how much of Irans military capabilities were lost during the final year of the Iran/Iraq war. U.S. Intelligence officials put the figure at something like 60 percent of its major combat equipment in its land order of battle. By that time most of its modern aircraft had very limited operational capability and many were not able to operate their avionics. The large attack helicopter force that it had under the Shah had basically ceased to operate effectively within about a year of the beginning of the Iran/Iraq war which was in 1980. Its navy still was active, but it too had not had resupply in some eight years. Thats the beginning point.
In the years that have followed, whatever plans have been announced and whatever grandiose reports have sometimes surfaced, Iran has not been able to acquire significant numbers of modern aircraft. It has not been able to reconfigure and rebuild its major surface ships. It has imported surface-to-air missiles, but some of those missiles are more than a quarter of a century old in terms of design and technology. They have a limited utility. Systems like the SA- 2 or Chinese copies of it, older systems like the SA-5. But Iran has not been able to develop the kind of sensors, command and control systems needed to link them together effectively relative to the capabilities of modern powers like the United States.
It has been able to keep many of its U.S.-supplied aircraft flying, often to the surprise and admiration of the Americans looking at it given the difficulties they have, but many of those aircraft do not have fully operational avionics, and we are talking about aircraft that have not been modernized in most cases since 1978 and all one has to consider is how many changes have taken place in air combat technology both in air defense and in offensive capabilities in the years that have followed. It is no longer a matter of how good the airframe is, it is a matter of how good the avionics and the munitions are. In that area Iran has made some advances, largely relying on Chinese-supplied systems and a few Soviet systems.
Its land forces still in terms of organization are relatively slow-moving forces with very limited combined arms capability. Iran has focused on tank strength. It has brought in some significant numbers of older Russian armored fighting vehicles, but it has a very low strength in terms of overall armored mobility. Its artillery is extremely static. It is very dependent on older TOW types. It does not have modern targeting, fire control computers, counter-battery systems in significant numbers. Its exercises tend to be relatively rigid. Its capabilities, as a result, are much better in defense than they are in offense. This perhaps reflects, again, the lessons of the Iran/Iraq war.
It is certainly trying to move forward. It is beginning to develop its own tanks, its own armored fighting vehicles. Its even trying to build its own aircraft. Some of that equipment is beginning to enter the force, but the rate at which it is entering Iranian forces does not as yet compensate for the fact that the bulk of Irans weapons are still older types supplied at the time of the Shah, inferior Chinese designs or inferior Russian designs. And in practice, Irans forces are aging still much more rapidly than they are being modernized.
Irans overall expense expenditures are according to at least U.S. Estimates, averaging around billion a year. That compares with over billion in the southern Gulf for Saudi Arabia alone and billion a year is a very limited force or figure for a force which arguably is around half a million men.
A lot of this is partly compensated for by the fact that Iran has tailored its naval forces, the naval branches of its guards, the various elements of its revolutionary guards to do two things. One is to be able to carry out unconventional warfare in the Gulf. They regularly practice and exercise attacks which are under the guise of being defensive but which easily could be applied to attacking shipping in the Gulf, off-shore facilities. Much of the southern Gulf has highly vulnerable energy, power and water facilities on the shoreline of the southern Gulf. While there is effective air defense when U.S. Forces are present, the fact remains that you are about five to seven minutes flight away from Iran in the southern Gulf and the possibility of carrying out serious attacks or raids is compounded by the use of revolutionary guards and small craft which are very very hard to detect, even with modern maritime surveillance.
Iran has large stocks of mines and there are debates over how modern these mines are, but Iran demonstrated back in 1987-88 that simply having mines floating freely through the Gulf could be a major barrier to tanker movements. Its important to note what were talking about here. About 2/5ths of the worlds oil exports move through the Strait of Hormuz every day and any disruption of that area can take on special significance.
Iran has three submarines. Their operational status has improved. They can lay mines and they can be used to attack tankers or other ships with long-range torpedoes. But obviously to carry out any sustained campaign in the face of the U.S. Navy in the Gulf is a challenge which Iran would simply not be able to meet. Its amphibious capabilities are significant by the standards of the Third World, but they add up, quite frankly, to moving a couple of thousand troops at a time and 40 to 50 tanks. Unless they were invited into a neighboring country they have almost no rapid amphibious deployment capability and they do not practice forced entry or across the beach operations.
As a result, the threat they present is much more a threat to a nation like Iraq which if it did not have U.S. Forces will for the foreseeable future have very little ability to stop an Iranian movement, or a nation like Kuwait which is simply so small and vulnerable that land operations across a very short water barrier could have an effect.
These are the conventional capabilities. They are compounded by the fact that there are elements of the revolutionary guards which are training and running training camps inside Iran. These no longer seem to be directly coupled to efforts to deal with Shiite elements in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, but they do have international presence.
Iran continues to support the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Some of the reports of the shipments are exaggerated. The dollar figures that are often used and quoted in the press could politely be described as rubbish. They are based on a methodology which at most is dignified by whats called creatology. You guess whats in the shipment and then you guess what its worth without knowing. And when you do that, you have a slight credibility problem.
But the fact is that we know that thousands of long-range rockets have been delivered to the Hezbollah and there is a serious trading in weapons presence. We know that Iran has been responsible for some of the arms shipments to the Palestinians. We know that it has backed Hammas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, at least in part. So there is a real Iranian presence in irregular warfare. It is not a matter of theory.
But a lot of what I have said may also explain Irans other developments. Iran maintains and has increased is SCUD forces. These include what we call the SCUD-C. It is actually a North Korean design. It is a relatively long-range SCUD. This force coupled to its older SCUDS is probably on the order of something like 300 to 450 missiles. Its launch strength is significant. It is deploying much longer-range missiles and I discuss this in the paper. And here let me note something about missiles which is becoming more and more important. Almost all of the data that are quoted on the range and payload and accuracy of these missiles are essentially meaningless.
Missiles have a range payload. The range is not a function of some design limit. It is a function of the specific warhead package on the missile. So these missiles could have a range, depending on the weight of the warhead, from anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600 kilometers. Warhead design is extremely difficult. Most missile warheads, particularly conventional missile warheads, will for a given weight do less damage than a bomb of the same weight. They close so quickly and they penetrate so deeply that without advance fusing and design a missile warhead with say 1,000 kilograms of explosives will produce about a third to 40 percent of the damage of the same conventional bomb dropped on a target.
When we talk about circular error of probability, that is one of the most meaningless numbers known to man but it is the only number you will find in the literature. Why is it meaningless?
First, it only applies to half of the missiles. It is a figure for the accuracy on an average of half of the missiles fired. It only applies if the missile has perfect targeting. It only applies if the missile works perfectly.
Now in reality, almost no missiles actually perform that way. And the only way to know how well a missile actually performs is to observe firings in large numbers. We know that data only for the SCUD-B. We do not know it for the SCUD-C and we do not know it for Irans other long-range missiles.
Moreover, those CEP figures for accuracy are now extremely speculative because there is no agreement as to the level of guidance technology that Iran actually possesses and has been able to apply to those missiles.
I say this because again and again people are assuming that you can go quickly from possession of a nuclear weapon to an effective delivery system with missiles. The problems are equally serious with biological and chemical. In general, disbursing chemical agents effectively with a missile warhead is a technological challenge which is almost not impossible to meet, in a developing country, but it is extraordinarily difficult to meet. And if the chemical warhead is unitary rather than in cluster munitions, the lethality will be relatively low. These challenges are even greater for biological agents unless these agents are extremely efficient in design and the disbursal agent is very advanced.
There have been some statements made incidentally that, and you will see this in my paper, Iran has been detected testing the high explosives for nuclear weapons at two facilities by satellites. One has to pause for a moment and realize how little explosive comparatively is used in a nuclear weapon and one has to wonder why on earth Iran would ever give evidence of such testing to satellite photography given the weight of explosive and the testing methodology. It is possible, but it is easier to make the claim than it is to substantiate it. Let me just close with some technical commands on Irans nuclear efforts and Ill leave the arms control side to Bob.
You will find in that paper a long list of nuclear facilities in Iran and a long list of activities in those facilities. Most of those lists are drawn from the International Atomic Energy Agency. I know that most of you are not nuclear weapons experts, but you do not have to be much of an expert to look down that list and realize that almost all of the activities listed have very little practical value for any kind of civil program, whether it is basic research or power, and almost all of them have applications to a nuclear weapons program.
Iran has denied its nuclear efforts since the time of the Shah, and having been in Iran during some of those denials, they realized then Iran was conspicuously importing illegal technologies from the United States at the time of the Shah. I would invite you to look down through that list of facilities and issues. The problem with it is that I cannot find there or in any other source something that would tell me how far along they may or may not be.
The centrifuge technology which they are known to have is not so advanced that it leads to efficient, small, disbursed centrifuge design. The efforts they have made at uranium enrichment can slowly produce weapons material but it is far from clear that they would produce any significant output without having fairly large and detectable facilities if they did not go the centrifuge route.
There is another problem here. Irans level of sophistication is unlikely to exceed fissile weapons in the near future and its delivery vehicles tend to require something on the order of boosted weapons to be used against most targets other than cities or populated targets. That is one of the many areas which we cant address.
I go through in this paper many reasons why Iran might want nuclear weapons and many ways that it might try to use them. But there also throughout the literature are many periods where when you look at what the IAEA reports, there are two or three year gaps in its knowledge or collection on Iran which makes any conclusions it draws in those reports somewhat uncertain.
In short, my conclusion is that Iran has given one piece of evidence after another that it is pursuing nuclear weapons, but we cannot assign a timeframe to those developments. We cannot say how many they plan to produce and when they intend to produce them. WE cannot characterize how small or how disbursed the facilities could be now, although its clear they are moving toward technologies that allow small, disbursed facilities.
In the biological and chemical areas we do not see, as yet, evidence of advanced warhead design, but it is also clear from intelligence reports that have been declassified that Iran continues to import a wide range of technology in each area. So the problems we have here are on the one hand a conventional power which is not involved in a conventional arms race, but a power with very significant capabilities for asymmetric warfare and a country which for a variety of reasons the Iran/Iraq war, its neighbors, Israel, the United States, prestige is pursuing weapons of mass destruction and is very likely to continue to try to do so regardless of what arms control agreements it signs.
Patrick Cronin: Tony, thank you very much. Your detailed report is very rich and I hope well have some time for questions to follow up on some of what youve just outlined.
Clearly the weapons of mass destruction issue with Iran is the main military concern. Secretary of State Powell made news just three weeks ago when he reiterated the belief that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon with delivery system and in your report you give a whole range of nuclear weapons development options on the part of Iran from the nuclear ambiguity option to nuclear arsenal option. To help put this into context we turn to one of the top non-proliferation experts in the country and our senior advisor, Bob Einhorn.
Robert Einhorn: Thank you very much Patrick.
Ill just start by concurring with Tonys conclusion that theres a vast amount of evidence that I think, and persuasive evidence, that Iran indeed is seeking nuclear weapons. And Id also agree with Tony that we dont have a very good handle as to when they may succeed in producing enough highly enriched uranium to fuel a nuclear weapon. Much depends on whether you believe Iran has a clandestine, parallel program parallel to its declared nuclear facilities. I happen to believe that they have such a program but estimates on when Iran could have a workable nuclear device go from one year anywhere to five years or even much longer than that.
But Im going to comment not so much on Irans nuclear capabilities or the state of its nuclear weapons programs, but on efforts to head off such a capability. I think the most recent development in this regard was a November 15th agreement reached between Iran and the so-called EU-3 France, Germany and the U.K.. This November 15th deal was later endorsed by the IAEA Board of Governors a few weeks afterwards.
In this deal, Iran agreed to a temporary suspension of all of its uranium enrichment activities. In exchange, the EU-3 agreed not to support sending the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council.
They also agreed to begin negotiations on a long term solution to the nuclear problem.
Now in the EU-3 view, this long-term solution would involve a permanent ban on Irans enrichment and other sensitive fuel cycle capabilities and it would involve intrusive monitoring by the IAEA to ensure that Iran was living up to its obligations.
In exchange for this permanent ban Iran would receive a number of things. Assurances of fuel supply at market rates for any nuclear power reactors that it builds. It could also purchase a light water research reactor, as long as it stands down from the more risky heavy water moderated research reactor that its embarked on pursuing at the moment. And the EU would also agree to cooperate with Iran in a variety of high technology areas that are related to Irans economic development.
The Europeans would support Irans entry into the World Trade Organization and they would agree to embark on a comprehensive political and security dialogue with the Iranians.
These negotiations on a long-term solution are going to begin verify soon. I believe they set a date of December 13th. That this Monday. And that these talks would take place in Brussels at the Foreign Ministers level.
Now its important I think to understand what this EU-3/Iran deal does and doesnt do. In my view the deal does not reflect a strategic decision by Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Instead I think this decision by Iran to enter into this deal was essentially a tactical retreat in order to avoid having this issue sent to New York and to avoid the sanctions that might be imposed by the UN Security Council.
Senior Iranian officials have made this clear, I think, in recent weeks by asserting that the current suspension should only last up to about six months. After which they say they would plan to resume their uranium enrichment activities.
Many observers, especially in the U.S., believe that this suspension will only apply to known enrichment facilities. And that Iran will continue to pursue some covert activities in the enrichment area.
My own view is that these covert activities, at these covert sites, actually do exist and I believe Iran will continue some level of operation clandestinely.
But even with these shortcomings I think the EU-3/Iran deal is a positive development. Its modest but positive.
Unlike an October 2003 deal between the EU-3 and Iran, this one explicitly covers the full range of enrichment activities. There was a loophole in the earlier agreement that enabled Iran to go ahead and manufacture and test centrifuge machines as well as to continue with uranium conversion activities to produce the feed stock, uranium hexafluoride, that you use in the enrichment process. On duration, despite what Iran says about six months or less, the deal specifies that suspension will remain in effect until a permanent ban is achieved. And while Iran may continue covert activities, the suspension of overt activities will impede progress in the covert program and make the covert program somewhat more difficult to conceal.
In addition, the Europeans have said, and theyve said it for the first time now, that if Iran reneges on the current suspension then the matter will have to go immediately to the UN Security Council.
But in evaluating the merits of this recent deal between the Europeans and Iran I think its important to compare it to possible alternatives. The main alternative and the one that was favored by the Bush Administration was to send this issue immediately to the UN Security Council.
The problem, though, was that the U.S. Simply didnt have the votes, didnt have the support in Vienna at the IAEA to get the IAEA Board to refer this issue to New York. And even if the issue had been referred to New York, gridlock was the most likely immediate outcome. Both China and Russia have made very clear that they regard any punitive measures against Iran as premature, at least for now.
Given the lack of support for its position, the Bush Administration had no choice but to go along in Vienna recently with the Board resolution welcoming the EU- 3/Iran deal. But privately the Bush Administration has made clear its skepticism that this deal is going to hold up for very long.
Its taken a hands-off wait and see attitude toward the upcoming negotiations on a long-term solution to the problem. It remains determined to isolate and pressure Iran, not to engage with it. This hard line I think has been reinforced recently by the growing perception within the Bush Administration that Iran is playing an unhelpful role in Iraq.
So what are the prospects for turning this current interim suspension into an acceptable, permanent, effectively verifiable ban on fuel cycle activities in Iran? Under current circumstances I think prospects are not very good. I strongly doubt that the incentives and disincentives that the EU-3 have outlined so far are going to induce Iran to make the fundamental strategic decision to abandon its nuclear weapons option.
In the first place I think the sticks are much too weak. The Europeans need to make clear that unless Iran permanently gives up its enrichment program it will face political isolation and strong economic pressures. The Russians and Chinese need to disabuse the Iranians of the idea that they can be relied upon to blunt international pressures and to block the imposition of sanctions.
But theres also a key missing ingredient on the incentive side and thats the involvement of the United States. Once Saddam was the chief security motivation for Irans nuclear weapons program. Now its the United States. In the absence of an improvement in U.S./Iranian bilateral relations its hard to imagine Iran making the fundamental decision to give up nuclear weapons.
In my view, if we are to have any chance of turning this interim suspension into a permanent ban the United States will have to get involved, will have to get involved, will have to get engaged bilaterally or multilaterally or perhaps both with Iran. And in that engagement the U.S. Should explore whether its possible to resolve the concerns that have arisen on both sides.
For us there are a number of issues that wed like to take up with Iran, not just the nuclear issue but Irans support for Middle East terrorist groups and our concerns about Irans activities in Iraq.
Of course even with U.S./Iranian engagement there are no guarantees that Iran is going to decide to give up its nuclear capability. At this point given the number of years Iran has been at it and given the determination and resourcefulness theyve demonstrated, I think one might regard prospects as no better than 50/50. But still, without such engagement I think the prospect of getting Iran to reverse itself and give up nuclear weapons will be very remote.
Patrick Cronin: Thank you very much, Bob.
Two excellent presentations very much rooted in the facts and the prospects. We'd like to open up the floor to some questions. We've got about 15 minutes.
Q: [inaudible]. Mr. Einhorn, is the U.S. a bystander in the Iran nuclear situation?
If it is, how did it happen that it's now watching these EU/Iran negotiations take place without participating directly in them, even though Iran appears to be so high on the U.S. list of security --
Robert Einhorn: I think the U.S. is a bystander in this process. Even after the IAEA resolution was adopted the Administration has chosen not to engage fully with the Europeans in terms of preparations for the negotiations that are going to begin on Monday.
I think the Administration takes the view that this negotiation is bound to fail. At this stage, at least, it's not prepared to get involved, even in offering its advice to the Europeans on what kind of approach to take.
Part of this may be a function of the transition period we're in. IT will take a few months for all the senior members of the second Bush Administration to be in place, and perhaps that's an inhibiting factor. But I think eventually it's important for the U.S. to get involved, in the first instance indirectly by at least talking to the Europeans about what positions they're taking. But ultimately to become a participant in both bilateral and multilateral exchanges with the Iranians.
Anthony Cordesman: Let me just comment. It is a bystander with an extremely large stick, and when Iran looks at its incentives here it can never ignore the risk that the United States would pose if it chose to take military action or put more direct pressure. IT also is the country that has the intelligence assets to more than any other track what Iran's imports and activities are, although there obviously will always be limits there.
So I think Bob is right, but we do need to remember that one of Iran's chief motives for dealing with the Europeans is the fact that the United States not only doesn't lurk over the horizon, it too is about a five to seven minute flight away.
Q: The United States seems to for some reason prefer these multilateral settings similar to [inaudible] Korea. Is there a reason for that? Is that [inaudible] bilateral negotiations? How successful has that been?
Robert Einhorn: In the case of North Korea, the Bush Administration has favored a multilateral approach and there are sound reasons for that. North Korea's neighbors have a stake in the outcome and a multilateral approach would involve North Korea in making commitments not just to the U.S. but to all the others, and perhaps increasing the likelihood that North Korea would take those obligations seriously.
I think many of the same factors apply to Iran. I think there are many countries in the region and outside who have got a real stake in this nuclear issue and they should be involved. But by the same token for the U.S. this is a vital interest. We have U.S. forces in the region. We have U.S. friends and allies in the region that would be in jeopardy if Iran got nuclear weapons. And I think there are issues, concerns that Iran has and concerns that the U.S. has about Iran that can only be addressed bilaterally. So I think dealing both bilaterally and multilaterally makes sense. In fact I think it makes sense both in Iran and North Korea.
Q: Two questions. One is for Cordesman. Can you comment on Iran's [inaudible]? How does it [inaudible]?
Anthony Cordesman: Let me begin with the UAVs. UAVs are becoming increasingly the poor man's way of getting surveillance platforms and sensors. Iran has some UAVs. It has developed the capabilities to use them for some kinds of targeting activity and for basic tactical surveillance. They do not, from the types that have been announced, seem to be the kind of advanced systems that could be used for complex area surveillance which have all weather and very complex sensor capabilities. They do not seem to be netted into sort of an overall command and control system. But they certainly function and they function well, and the commercial technology on engines, UAV design, sensor platforms, all of the other components are now becoming almost off the shelf commercial items which can be assembled.
So I think we can expect these to steadily improve in capability and time. But one problem that often gets lost is that a UAV tends to be a tunnel vision device unless it has very sophisticated technology. So tying that tunnel vision into effective warfighting is a great deal more difficult than it seems. Israel is, as far as I know, one of the few countries which actually has the sort of command and control and tactical assets to blend UAV data of this kind into a cheap, inexpensive way of providing information effectively to its troops. Unfortunately people confuse one platform with a capability.
I think that one thing you need to remember when you talk about parity or anything else, we have no idea what Iran will choose to do once it acquires nuclear weapons. It can go for mobile basing. It can have an over-test. It can rely on simulation for the weapon. It can have forces where it has announced a launch under attack or launch on warning capability if it is attacked by any power, or it can develop those capabilities without announcing them, or it cannot have those capabilities at all.
It can develop enough nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles so that it could claim, for example, that its targeting capabilities on Gulf oil facilities in the southern Gulf were so great that the United States could not risk an attack on Iran. That's just one of many options.
The missile defenses of Israel, shall we say, are more a matter of hype than functional capability at the moment which is not necessarily something that will be true in the future. But remember, Israel is what we somewhat crudely call a one bomb country. A large surface burst in the greater Tel Aviv area would do so much damage to Israel that the country that would emerge would not be the Israel that exists today. And that kind of risk applies to an attack on any one of the smaller southern Gulf states and certainly would be devastating applied to any of Iran's other neighbors.
But having said that, again, we simply have no models as yet, and one of the great problems we face is that people tend to think about what happens when you acquire a nuclear weapon and not what happens afterwards.
We have found in India and Pakistan, for example, that many of the claims both countries have made about delivery systems and command and control systems are almost unquestionably false. And we found that the actual yields of their tests in no way conformed to their claims. And the level of sophistication that they were actually able to achieve in testing was nothing like the level of sophistication both countries claimed to actually have achieved.
Now those are more sophisticated and far more open proliferators than Iran. It is also very possible for reasons Bob touched on that Iran could plan a delivery system and delivery structure and not be able to make good on the actual warheads.
We found in the case of Iraq, for example, and some of you may remember this, that the initial IAEA reports gave a very pessimistic picture of Iraq's capabilities. And follow-up exploitation showed that virtually every system Iraq had designed would not have worked or would not have worked at anything like its design goal or would have taken years to actually make it into an effective system.
I say this because until you see it happen, you don't know what it is. And probably Iran, if it has a coherent plan, and it may not. It may be operating on a target of opportunity basis, has almost no chance of executing five years out the plan it has today.
Robert Einhorn: On the motivation issue. I think there's a combination of prestige and security for Iran's nuclear weapons program. The Iranians consider themselves the heir to a great Persian civilization. They consider themselves the natural leaders of the Gulf region. They look at Pakistan detonating a nuclear device and declaring itself a nuclear weapon. I think Iranians see themselves as superior to the Pakistanis, and if the Pakistanis can have the bomb, they're entitled to have it as well. But there are also security motivations. The current covert program for Iran's enrichment program the IAEA says began around 1984-1985. That was the time of the Iran/Iraq war. Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran. I think Iran decided it needed to have a real deterrent against Iraq. So I think that's a security motivation for a nuclear weapons program.
I think now they're concerned about the U.S.. I don't think they've thought through quite how having a primitive, first generation nuclear capability is going to give them much of a deterrent against the U.S., but they believe in some fashion this is going to protect their security.
Q: One of the arguments that are made in this town about why not to engage Iran include, with whom are we engaging in the government? Do the people that we seek to have dialogue with have any backing within the regime that would benefit the United States in an appreciable way?
How would you, if dialogue were to be pursued with Iran, how would you overcome this and do it in a way that the U.S. doesn't fall victim to salami tactics -- making concessions and then on the other side there will either be reneging on concessions to us, saying well, we don't have the power to do it and we've already given up things that were supposed to be incentives. Thank you.
Robert Einhorn: Until about six or eight months ago there was really a divided government in Iran. There were the hardliners, the conservative Mullahs and some reformers, mainly reform clerics. You clearly didn't know who you were dealing with. If you cut a deal with the government with a lot of reform elements, would it really hold up?
I think unfortunately what's happened in the last six or eight months is that you've had a consolidation of power in Iran by the hardliners, by the conservatives. From a negotiating standpoint, though, perhaps this would facilitate negotiations.
There's no doubt that when you're negotiating with the Iranians today you're dealing with a fairly homogeneous hardline conservative regime that would probably be able to deliver on any agreement that was concluded.
Anthony Cordesman: If I may, there are two points I would raise here. One, there were second track, not official negotiations, and many dialogues between Americans and Iranians. Most were from the moderate reformists, however you want to characterize the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs faction.
People were trotted out at many of those dialogues to discuss Iran's nuclear programs. Many of the people who were supposedly Iranian scholars in this area not only denied that there was any effort involved, they often denied things which had been publicly reported in Iran by way of missile development. So it was never clear that you were any better off talking to the Khatami faction than the Khamenei faction.
The other thing is, I hope Bob is right, but many Iranians specialists feel that we are watching a new group of conservatives, not Rafsanjani pragmatists emerge, who are more internalized, more hostile, less pragmatic, less experienced with the outside world. I guess we will find out once the new president is elected and we begin to see how Iran actually behaves.
But the conservatives have always been divided between the sort of people who see things in practical power terms who have pushed for economic reforms, who have pushed for the kind of pragmatism that you see when you have a hardline negotiation, and people who believe in a much more state-oriented, theological, ideological approach.
I think the latter are the ones which dominated the election for the [modulists] and that's not reassuring.
Patrick Cronin: Just one final question I'd like to ask the two distinguished panelists here at CSIS. That's the question of whether or not we should and could be doing more to head off the possibility of a nuclear capability within Iran.
Ken Pollock in his new book on Iran says we may have to face the fact that we may be living in a nuclear Iran. Tony Cordesman, in your paper you suggest that it may be just a matter of time.
But are there things that we are not doing, the United States, the international community, the Europeans, the countries in the region, that might be done, that could help avert a nuclear proliferation problem in Iran in the future?
Robert Einhorn: I think what we need to do is alter Iran's current calculation of costs and benefits. A problem in the current situation is they don't believe that continuing down the path to nuclear weapons will involve great costs, and they don't believe that reversing course and giving up that option is going to get them many benefits. I think we have to change this current calculation. The Europeans, the Russians, the Japanese and the U.S. need to get together and demonstrate convincingly to Iran that there will be serious consequences if they go down this route. But also the U.S., through engagement I believe, needs top demonstrate that if they reverse course and give up this option then they will have a better future.
There are a lot of young Iranians now. The percentage of Iranians under the age of 30 is very high, over two-thirds of the population. I think their aspirations and needs are very different from the older, conservative clerics who rule Iran. They want better welfare, they want material goods, they want a number of things that can only be achieved if Iran opens up to the rest of the world, engages with the rest of the world. But their nuclear program will put that in jeopardy and that signal has to be conveyed clearly to the Iranians.
Anthony Cordesman: Bob raises some very good points. I think you have to understand the options here for negative action or essentially either to preempt Iran militarily or to find some combination of military and economic sanctions which actually work.
At this point in time I think probably the National Iranian Oil Company is a far more effective block to Iran's economic development than U.S. sanctions are. If it offered reasonable terms to other countries for really good oil and gas deals I think the U.S. sanctions on an economic level would simply probably not have much impact. But it hasn't. It has made some remarkably bad proposals and made them very consistently.
Preempting would be I think extremely dangerous, not only in terms of Iraq, but simply it isn't clear we can do it. And once you do it and you don't succeed in destroying a technological base which is very very hard, all of the issues Bob has raised about covert and dual track facilities become almost a necessity for Iran. Unless you can occupy the country, which I think is totally impractical, or change the regime from the outside, which is perhaps an even more dangerous fantasy than some of the ones we had in regard to Iraq you simply don't have a credible stick that you can definitively apply.
The incentives are a different story. There might be much broader incentives if the West could act with any unity. Certainly there is always the possibility of offering some kind of regional security concept that might be an attractive incentive. But I am worried about the idea that any negotiation is going to work at this point. The government has become far more conservative. There will be a new president. The president is almost certain to be a conservative and much more closely tied to the leader.
It also is interesting to watch Iranian behavior. Bob mentioned the current negotiation. It's important to note that there was another negotiation in 2003 which wasn't all that different. And if you look through the list of nuclear facilities in Iran that's in that paper and the description of them, you'll find there are between 17 and 20 facilities that are listed there. In the last year the International Atomic Energy Agency has found suspect facilities or suspect activities in those facilities that it had no clear picture of before, and five to seven of those facilities are ones which had vague suspicion that uncertain or improper activities might have taken place in them, but now have been confirmed as having had those levels of activity take place.
That chronology and that level of actions raises some very serious questions about how easily you can stop Iran, barring some political change which I do not believe we can induce, nor do I believe it's likely.
Patrick Cronin: I want to thank our two panelists, Anthony Cordesman and Robert Einhorn for their assessment, and I want to invite you to read Tony Cordesman's new assessment on Iranian military power as well as the works of both of these gentlemen on our web page.
I also want to thank the External Affairs Office here at CSIS and especially Laura Wilkinson and Devon Haney and Devon Stewart in my office for making this possible. Thank you all for coming.
"I Call the President Imam Bush": A Turning Point in Islamic and World History
By Stephen Schwartz Published 12/22/2004 If one were to rely on the mainstream Western media, one would assume that the situation in Iraq represents nothing more than a disaster and a horrible error by the United States. This media spin, which is more pronounced and strident than any in recent memory, is based on two critical flaws in the way Western media work.
The first is the most obvious and is known to millions: the bias of Western reporters, and nearly all the experts and other sources on which they depend, against the Bush administration's policy of democratization in the Middle East. For such commentators, the failure of the Bush intervention in Iraq was a foregone conclusion. In many cases, including those of Arabist and ethnic Arab academic experts, opposition to democratization is based on breathtakingly prejudicial stereotypes.
Few American intellectuals would ever, in the 1950s, have predicted that the time would come when the very concept of "democracy" would be the object of so much polemical contempt in the democracies themselves. And fewer still would have predicted that Arab adherents, as so many now do, would one day reject altogether the appropriateness of democracy in their countries. When Arab academic and media figures declare that their people are unprepared for democracy, and cannot go beyond limited and culture-bound reforms, one wonders if they realize how arrogant and cruel they sound. In the past, we all seemed to agree that democracy was a universal and benevolent value, for which all peoples, at least outside the palaces, strove.
The second serious defect in the methodology of Western media, when dealing with Iraq, is their lack of knowledge about Islam. Reporters seem to continue to base their dispatches on off-the-street quotes and Iraqi official handouts. Much more homework needs to be done, especially considering that American lives have been sacrificed for the future of Iraq. Western reporters seldom study Islam or seek out authoritative representatives of the Islamic leaderships; and when, almost as if by accident, they encounter such figures, they seem never to know what questions to ask them.
Terrorism continues in Iraq and monopolizes headlines. But there is much more to be said about the situation in that country, and it has to do with much more than the restoration of public services and infrastructure. Perhaps the biggest story left unreported in the West is the extraordinary exuberance about the Iraqi election, set for January 30, among Iraqi Shias.
I know about this because I spend a great deal of time talking to Iraqi Shia religious leaders, some of whom commute back and forth between Iraq and the U.S. The effervescence among them must be experienced to be believed. One prominent Shia in the U.S. told me, "I call the president Imam Bush." (In Shia Islam, the imams are the chief religious guides throughout the history of the sect.) "He is a believer in God, he is just, and I believe he will keep his promise to hold a fair election on January 30," my interlocutor said. "He liberated Kerbala and Najaf [the Shia holy cities]. He has done more for Shias than anybody else in history."
Shias comprise at least 65 percent of the Iraqi population. It is clear that the January 30 election will produce a Shia-majority government. The Iraqi Shias have produced a unity ticket for the elections under the direction of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the leading Iraqi Shia cleric. Sistani has severely condemned any Shia who might obstruct the election. Sistani and his colleagues have managed to silence the disruptive Moqtada ul-Sadr in the interest of orderly elections.
Still, even if they can anticipate a Shia sweep in Iraq, Westerners generally seem unable to grasp the full meaning, for the Islamic world, of such a fact. Unequivocal Arab Shia control over their holy sites will represent a major, new historical chapter. Notwithstanding superficial Western reportage and alarmist propaganda by Arab Sunnis, Arab Shias do not obey the commands of Iranian Shias. Iraqi Shias never accepted Khomeini's conception of clerical governance, which had no basis in Islamic doctrine, and was actually a heresy. There is no serious evidence that, if a Shia majority is brought to power in Iraq, a Khomeinist regime would be established.
In addition, the Khomeinist scheme has been discredited in Iran itself, and that country's majority is trying to find a way out of it. Yet it is amazing to see Western media and politicians, as well as some Arab politicians and rulers, proclaiming the "menace" of Shia rule in Iraq. Naturally, the former Sunni elite who misruled Iraq with the support of Saddam, and Saudi-backed Wahhabi jihadists who hate Shias even more than they do Jews and Christians, seek to disrupt the electoral process in Iraq. But Westerners have no justification to back away from the commitment to elections in Iraq, merely on the basis of Sunni complaints or threats. Some Western experts warn that the triumph of the Shias would bring about a civil war in Iraq; but what other than a civil war is presently going on? Sunni terrorists wreak havoc and devastating bloodshed wherever they can. If anything, a definitive Shia victory would be a powerful incentive for Sunnis to cease their terrorism.
The wider regional and global ripples of a Shia government in Iraq are likely to be as significant as the transfer of power itself. A nonclerical Shia regime in Baghdad, governing Kerbala and Najaf, would powerfully encourage completion of democratization in Iran. Its success would also draw Lebanese Shias away from the extremist clerical leadership of Hezbollah. A stable post-Ba'athist regime in Iraq could provide a significant model for Syrians as they work their way out of the Bashir Assad dictatorship. Above all, however, a Shia regime in Iraq will provide a stunning exemplar of Arab-Islamic pluralism, that is, an alternative to the model of Sunni monolithism found in Saudi Arabia, and which the Saudis have sought to export throughout the global community of Sunni Islam.
The reactionary wing of the Saudi royal family may have a great deal to lose from successful elections in Iraq. To emphasize, Wahhabism, the official religion in the Saudi kingdom, preaches violence against Shias, and a Shia-led Iraq with a system of popular sovereignty would be an enormous humiliation to the Wahhabis. But more important, as the American architects of the Iraqi experiment have understood, Iraq has immense resources in terms of education and entrepreneurship, aside from the economic cushion of its oil.
President Bush is quite correct when he states that the terrorists hate Americans for who we are, not for what we do. The Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia, who encourage al-Qaida and other terrorists, including Zarqawi in Iraq, repudiate the very concept of voting, parliamentarism, and democracy. Shias do not reject these principles. A prosperous Shia-led electoral regime in Iraq, on its long northern border, could be the ultimate nightmare for the Saudi hardliners, particularly since the oil industry in the kingdom is centered in the Saudi Eastern Province, which has a Shia majority -- and Shias have suffered a near-genocidal discrimination at Wahhabi hands. Saudi Arabia has always dealt with Shia dissidence by labeling it as a product of Iran. But if Shia dissidents in the Saudi kingdom are inspired by Iraq they will gain immense credibility.
Finally, the worldwide effect of transitions to democracy, in countries typically considered impossibly distant from one another, cannot be belied. Looking at the last quarter of the 20th century, we observe a process that began in Spain in 1975, with the death of dictator Francisco Franco. The Spanish business class and political elite carried out a peaceful process of democratization. Spain was only the first such instance. Although Iran and Nicaragua later saw major convulsions in their societies, and brutal wars broke out in Yugoslavia and Africa, many more countries entered on the road of peaceful democratization, including, finally, Nicaragua and some of the ex-Yugoslav states. The number of countries that settled a change in their political affairs peacefully came to far outnumber those with recourse to armed conflict: they include the Philippines, all the rest of the former Baltic and East European Communist states (although Russia, as always, remains a problem), Taiwan, South Korea, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey.
Many of these countries have a legacy of rule by ideological parties acting as a foundation for the state, typically with the backing of the military. This was the experience of Taiwan with the Guomindang, Mexico under the so-called Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and Turkey ruled by the Republican People's Party. Saddam's Ba'athism was merely a variation of this 20th century model, as was the Soviet Communism that is finally disappearing, one hopes, from Ukraine.
There should be no reason to doubt the universality of democracy, or the contagious nature of elections in Iraq, and, for that matter, in Ukraine. As Iraq's ballot boxes may trump the viciousness of its terrorists, the Palestinians may also join the new wave of democratization. Ukrainians vote, Palestinians vote, Iraqis vote, and a new phase in world history begins. This is the true meaning of globalization, especially in the age of the internet and satellite television.
Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is much less a form of Islam than an ideology employed to keep the royal family in power, and if the removal of the ideological state may be effected peacefully in Kyiv, why not in Riyadh? Saudi subjects could leap ahead of their Iraqi neighbors, for I cannot imagine that if Ukraine succeeds in a bloodless democratization, Saudi subjects will not be inspired to ask why they, too, cannot follow the road of the Orange Revolution, rather than that of the black-bannered jihad, and voting boxes protected by American lives, in Iraq. And that will mean a decisive blow to terrorist jihadism throughout the world.
Blair says Europe "not naive" on Iran atomic workWed Dec 22, 2004 09:26 PM ET
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday that Europe was "not naive" about Iran's nuclear plans and would ensure Tehran fulfils an obligation to freeze work that could lead to making nuclear weapons.
Blair spoke on Israeli television after a daylong visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories to help revive peace efforts in the wake of Yasser Arafat's death last month.
His remarks came amid new concern about Iran's recent decision to go ahead with plans to prepare raw uranium for enrichment, a step that could lead to the making of bomb grade material for production of a nuclear bomb.
Western diplomats have told Reuters in Europe that Iran was using a loophole in a deal with EU nations on freezing enrichment activity to finish some limited conversion of uranium begun before the suspension took effect in November.
Blair told Israel's Channel 1 he was intent on "making sure that Iran complies with the rules of the atomic energy authority. We've got undertakings from Iran ... we've got to make sure those are bolted down properly and implemented."
"We aren't naive about it," Blair said when asked whether he thought diplomatic efforts to curtail Iran's nuclear programme would work.
"We intend to make sure these obligations are carried out."
The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that Iran should end its uranium conversion efforts immediately.
"Iran's actions reinforce our view that further pressure on Iran is required -- including the pressure of reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council -- to bring Iran to make a strategic decision to abandon its pursuit of sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle capabilities," said State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper.
Iran's chief delegate to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said separately that Iran would press ahead with its nuclear programme.
Israel, a bitter foe of Iran, has accused Europe and the IAEA of doing too little and has called for U.N. sanctions to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Israel, believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, accuses Iran of funding militants in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories to stage attacks against the Jewish state.
Iran orders military to 'stand ready': Fears of attack on nuclear sites
TEHRAN, Dec 22: The Iranian military has been ordered to stand ready to defend the country's nuclear sites in case of attack, army chief General Mohammad Salimi said on Wednesday.
"The air force has been ordered to protect the nuclear sites, using all its power," Mr Salimi said, quoted by the government daily Iran. "The air force has temporarily suspended all its manoeuvres and focused its means on patrolling the sky," he added.
"All our forces including land forces, anti-aircraft, radar tactics ... are protecting the nuclear sites and an attack on them will not be simple," the general said.
American newspapers and the regional press have speculated over a possible US or Israeli attack on the nuclear sites of Iran, which the Jewish state and Washington suspect of working to develop the bomb. US and Israeli officials have denied any such plans.
IRAN'S MILITARY NO MATCH FOR U.S.
WASHINGTON [MENL] -- Despite numerous exercises and an arms buildup, Iran's conventional military forces remain weak and unable to fight the United States.
A leading U.S. analyst said Iran's military has not recovered from the 1980-88 war with Iraq and remains saddled with aging equipment and a poor command structure. The analyst said many of Iran's weapons were based on 1970s technology and that Teheran could not sustain an invasion of a foreign country.
"Whatever plans have been announced and whatever grandiose reports have sometimes surfaced, Iran has not been able to acquire significant numbers of modern aircraft," Anthony Cordesman, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said. "It has not been able to reconfigure and rebuild its major surface ships. It has imported surface-to-air missiles, but some of those missiles are more than a quarter of a century old in terms of design and technology."
Addressing a seminar on Iran's military power, Cordesman, a former senior Defense Department official, said Iran has been unable to develop sensors and command and control systems required to fight a war against the United States. Iran spends about $3 billion a year for defense, less than one-sixth of the expenditure of Saudi Arabia.
Dec. 22, 2004 15:39 | Updated Dec. 22, 2004 15:41
Iran: Over 10 nuclear spies detained
By MATTHEW GUTMAN AND AP
Iran has arrested military officers, nuclear workers and others on charges of revealing its nuclear secrets to Israeli and US intelligence agencies, Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said.
Yunesi said the information passed to America and Israel was "without value," state media reported.
The minister said more than 10 suspects were detained in Tehran and in the southern Hormozgan province during the Iranian year that began March 21, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"These people were spying for the Mossad and CIA," IRNA quoted Yunesi as saying.
On Tuesday, Israel responded that "this is not a serious episode," with the Prime Minister's Office calling Iran's claim "ridiculous."
The United States accuses Iran of running a secret program to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear programs are purely for energy.
The minister said the identity of those detained will not be revealed before they stand trial but said three of them were employees of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, IRNA reported.
On Tuesday, the official Islamic Republic News Agency statement stated that "eight people" had been arrested in connection with the spy ring, whereas the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency said that "eight Zionists" were arrested.
Safa Haeri, editor of the dissident Iranian Press Agency, noted that the latter designation is generally reserved for Israelis or Jews.
"Some of them were military officers and some others were businessmen," state-run television quoted Yunsei as saying Wednesday.
They are now in the hands of the hard-line Revolutionary Court, which deals with security crimes, he said.
Yunesi said the main mission of the alleged spies was to disrupt Iran's nuclear program, contaminate nuclear activities and forge documents. It was not clear what Yunesi meant by contamination. When UN International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors found traces of weapons-grade enriched uranium in two places in Iran earlier this year, Iran said it was due to contaminated equipment it bought on the black market.
Earlier this month, the Intelligence Ministry said it had arrested a spy who had been pretending to work on nuclear centrifuges to cast doubt on Tehran's recent agreements to suspend such work.
Iran agreed last month to suspend uranium enrichment and all related activities to try to ward off sanctions for which the United States has pressed. Centrifuges can spin gas into enriched uranium, which can then be used to produce energy or bombs.
The IAEA agreed to police suspension of Iran's nuclear activities. Under the agreement reached last month with France, Germany and Britain, Iran has suspended its enrichment activities during negotiations with the Europeans on economic, political and technological aid from the 25-nation European Union. Those talks started earlier this month.
Tuesday in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, diplomats told The Associated Press that Tehran is still turning tons of raw uranium into uranium metal and has said it would continue to do so until February, exploiting a loophole in its deal with the Europeans. The metal is a precursor of uranium hexafluoride - a substance that can then be used to produce weapons-grade uranium.
The Jews of Iran have often needed to defend themselves from accusation that they are in contact with "Zionists," an act that is punishable by death. Iranian security agents have arrested local Jews several times in the past on allegations of spying for Israel.
In 1999, 13 Jews from the cities of Shiraz and Isfahan were arrested and accused of spying for Israel. The group included several community leaders and an underage boy. The suspects were subjected to what international jurists believed was a rigged trial in a closed courtroom in 2000, and 10 were meted prison sentences. The three others were acquitted.
Bowing to international pressure, Iran first eased the prison sentences of the 10 accused. Then, starting March 2001, the Iranian regime began releasing the prisoners. On February 2003, Iranian officials announced that they had released the five last remaining imprisoned Jews before the end of their prison terms.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has in the past uncovered attempts by Iranian intelligence to recruit spies in Israel, as well as build a terrorist infrastructure in Israel.
On December 7, Israel Police made public the arrest of Muhammad Ghanem, an Israeli Arab from Baka al- Gharbiya, for allegedly joining Iran's intelligence service and attempting to recruit Israeli Arab students to join Iranian terrorist organizations.
Iran will join WTO next time: official
TEHRAN, Dec. 22 (MNA) Former director general of World Trade Organization (WTO) Mike Moore said Wednesday that Iran is on its way to joining WTO. It will reach the aim although it may take quite a while, he said.
Moore, talking to the Mehr News Agency asserted that ran would join the WTO next time although, materialization of the issue depends on the countrys preparedness and its flexibility, Because, joining WTO does not take place overnight.
He also noted that Iran is determined in its decision to join WTO therefore, it will reach its aim even if it takes it 10 to 15 more years. Countries such as New Zealand will facilitate Irans joining the organization, he assured.
In response to a question on whether the U.S. is entitled more power in WTO than other parties member to the organization he stressed that, all the members enjoy equal rights and all of them have the voting and veto rights.
Commenting on the Islamic Republics economic preparedness for its membership in the organization, Moore stated that as long as Irans economy is based on oil no success is in sight because, the youth in every country need employment and this will not be possible with an oil-oriented economy.
On the question of whether economic liberalization should precede joining the organization he said that, any country in line with its own interests embarks on economic reforms in its economic structure however, it does not have anything to do with Irans membership in WTO.
At present, the countries membership in WTO is not based on their economic indexes only rather, many other issues such as the nature of the governments and the laws and regulations governing the countries also count, he further explained.
Death penalty in Iran 'vice' case
Iranian officials have confirmed that a court has sentenced a young woman to death for prostitution but denied that she is mentally disabled.
Cruel and inhuman punishments continue in Iran, said a recent UN report.
Leyla Mafi was sentenced more than a year ago at a court in Arak after being found guilty of having illegal sex.
A human rights group monitoring the case said Ms Mafi had a mental age of eight, but this has been disputed by Iranian judicial officials.
The decision is now under review by the Iranian Supreme Court.
Ms Mafi's case was given international exposure last week by London-based rights group Amnesty International.
They said Iran was breaking its commitments as a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights - which include a promise not execute anyone under the age of 18.
The organisation said the woman's mother had forced her into prostitution at the age of eight.
It also said she had been repeatedly raped and had given birth to a baby at the age of nine.
Iranian officials have rejected some of the group's findings.
They say Ms Mafi is mentally and physically normal and had only been working as a prostitute as an adult.
Under Iranian law, girls over the age of nine and boys over 16 face the death penalty for crimes such as rape and murder.
In some circumstances, capital punishment is also imposed for illegal sexual relationships.
Iran closes Iraq border for security
Tehran, Iran, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Iran closed its border with Iraq Wednesday and banned its citizens from traveling to the war-torn country where the Shiites' holiest shrines are.
The Iranian News Agency, IRNA, quoted an official statement as saying the border closure and the travel ban were dictated by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
"As long as this country is unstable and insecure it is forbidden for Iranian nationals to visit it," the statement said.
The statement said the border was closed for the same reasons.
Dozens of people were killed and injured last week in car bomb explosions that ripped through the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf in southern Iraq.
American officials deny desire for talks
Thursday, December 23, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Dec 23 (IranMania) - Senior US officials discouraged speculation that the Bush administration had made any new overtures seeking direct talks with Iran and said any such move was unlikely any time soon.
They acknowledged that--in theory--there could be secret contacts under way known only to a select few officials but doubted that was the case, especially during the transition to a new US secretary of state, Reuters reported.
Hossein Mousavian, one of Iran's chief nuclear negotiators, provoked speculation about a dialogue between the two long time adversaries when he said in Tehran that Washington wanted to hold direct talks on a number of issues, including Iran's nuclear activities.
"The United States wants negotiations with Iran and definitely doesn't like having a mediator in between, even if the Europeans want to mediate," Iran's State News Agency (IRNA) quoted Mousavian as saying.
One senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: "I'm not aware of anything that would substantiate that story."
Another official added: "Nobody we talked to is aware of a new effort" to establish contacts between the United States and Iran, which have not had diplomatic relations for 24 years. From time to time, there also are unofficial "track two" talks between Americans and Iranians, including former US officials like former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. But they have produced no apparent breakthroughs.
Christianity Making Inroads in Iran
December 22, 2004
by Jeremy Reynalds
Iranians are turning in droves to Christ.
"This should cause any missiologist to wonder why (so many people from) the nation which had become a model for the rest of the fundamental Muslim world to emulate the same country that introduced suicide bombing to the world are now turning to Christ,"said Shah Afshar, Foursquare Regional Coordinator for the Middle East, in an e-mail interview.
This phenomenon didn't take place through the efforts of foreign missionaries, Afshar said, because after the country's Islamic revolution of the late 1970's, all foreign missionaries were expelled from Iran.
Much of the evangelism of Muslims in Iran, Afshar said, has been done through shortwave radio and satellite television programs by Iranians who came to know Christ while outside their own country.
"With the revolution there also came a mass exodus of almost 6 million Iranians out of Iran to various countries around the world," Afshar said. "It was there that for the first time many of these exiles were exposed to the gospel, and eventually a great number of them became followers of Jesus50,000 by some estimates. It is because of these exiled believers and other faithful ones who never left Iran that (this) phenomenon is unfolding."
Understandably, the Iranian authorities are concerned that their influence is waning. One employee of the country's Ministry of Education, Hasan Mohammadi, hired to teach Islamic precepts to high school and university students in the country run by Islamic clerics, encouraged his audience to "Be aware young men; safeguard your beloved Shiite Islam."
When issuing this admonition at a gathering of senior high school students in the north of the Iranian capital in April 2004, Afshar said Mohammadi underscored his point by saying, "Unfortunately, on average, everyday 50 Iranian girls and boys convert secretly to Christian denominations in our country."
According to Afshar, reportedly quoting from a comment made by the 47-year-old cleric and heard by Hamad Egbali, whose son Ali was in the audience, Mohammadi "unknowingly admitted the defeat of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a theocratic regime in promoting its Islam."
Afshar said it was average everyday believers who evangelized these exiles. He said, "For example, over 30 years ago, a group of what were then called Jesus Freaks,' took the time to share the love of God with (me), which eventually led to my salvation. Because of that simple act of obedience and love, today thousand of Iranian Muslims have heard the contextualized gospel in their own language, which has caused many of them to come to the Lord."
Afshar said those individuals who shared Jesus Christ with him were not trained in Islamic evangelism. But they "were willing to reach out to a scared lonely Muslim boy for Christ's sake. Their motive was not as much converting me as it was just to love and accept me. And today the Lord is asking the American believers to do the same."
Afshar said he is issuing a challenge to believers worldwide.
"Next Sunday ask your church how many of them know any Muslims," Afshar said. "You might be surprised to find out the number of people at your church who work, go to school, or are neighbors to these immigrants whom God has brought to our doorsteps. We have a mandate from Christ himself to go into the whole world."
Afshar said for those wanting some formal training he suggests organizing a seminar at church focusing on successful evangelism to Muslims. Afshar said in addition that Foursquare Missions International staff are also happy to provide assistance.
Afshar may be reached at (1) 888 635 4234 ext. 4335 or by e-mail at Safshar@foursquare.org.
Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. The shelter web site is http://www.joyjunction.org.
He was honored with the prestigious Jefferson Award in 1994. Reynalds emigrated from England to the United States in 1978 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1999. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University, located in La Mirada, California, just outside Los Angeles.
He is also the author of two books and a contributor to a third, which deals with the media's images of the homeless. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ex-Muslim Seeks to Transform Iran with Christian Broadcasts
By Chad Groening
December 21, 2004
(AgapePress) - The head of a California-based ministry aimed at reaching Muslims for Christ says the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the only message he takes to millions of people in Iran. The U.S. evangelist, born in Iran, is also preaching the virtues of democracy to people in his native country at every opportunity.
Donald Fareed, a former Muslim himself, came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior 14 years ago. He went on to become an ordained minister and the founding pastor of the Bay Area Persian Churches of San Mateo and Santa Clara, California.
Fareed also began Persian Ministries International, an evangelistic outreach based in San Jose, through which he works to fulfill his call -- to bring others out of Islam and into the knowledge of God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Today he uses his weekly satellite television program to carry the gospel back to his homeland.
But the ministry founder notes that many social and political obstacles to evangelism exist in Iran, and Persian Christians face severe persecution. "As soon as people convert," he explains,"[the authorities] catch them and put them in jail. So we need democracy there. We need freedom."
Still, Fareed acknowledges that spiritual change must take precedence over social or political change. "Freedom without Christ is going to bring corruption, of course," he says. "So the first thing is the gospel and the second thing is democracy."
On the other hand, Fareed does make use of his weekly broadcasts to encourage his former countrymen to push for a new government. At the same time, he tries to educate his listeners, because he wants the Iranian people to learn about the positive values, standards, and ethics of Western culture.
"Preaching the gospel is not the only thing," the Christian pastor and evangelist asserts. "Of course we're teaching them about ideal Western values, and we're encouraging them to [pursue] a referendum -- free elections."
Fareed is hopeful that, through Persian Ministries, he can help to effect spiritual transformation among the people of Iran by turning hearts toward Jesus. At the same time, he is praying for and sowing seeds toward a transformation of values that will usher in a freer, more just and democratic Iran in the future.
December 22, 2004
MEMRI TV Project Special Report: Iranian TV Drama Series about Israeli Government Stealing Palestinian Children's Eyes
Iran's Sahar 1 TV station is currently airing a weekly series titled "For You, Palestine," or "Zahra's Blue Eyes." The series premiered on December 13, and is set in Israel and the West Bank. It broadcasts every Monday, and was filmed in Persian but subsequently dubbed into Arabic.
The story follows an Israeli candidate for Prime Minister, Yitzhak Cohen, who is also the military commander of the West Bank. The opening sequence of the show contains graphic scenes of surgery, and images of a Palestinian girl in a hospital whose eyes have been removed, with bandages covering the sockets.
In Episode 1, Yitzhak Cohen lectures at a medical conference on the advances being made by Israeli medicine regarding organ transplants. Later in the episode, Israelis disguised as UN workers visit a Palestinian school, ostensibly to examine the children's eyes for diseases, but in reality to select which children's eyes to steal to be used for transplants.
In Episode 2, the audience learns that the Israeli president is being kept alive by organs stolen from Palestinian children, and an Israeli military commander is seen kidnapping UN employees and Palestinians.
Sahar TV also broadcast an interview with the director of the series, a former Iranian education ministry official, who discussed his motivations for making a series "about children."
The following are excerpts from the first two episodes, and from the interview with the series' director. To view clips from the series, visit www.memritv.org. In the coming weeks, MEMRI will continue to monitor and translate future episodes of the series.
To view clips from the first episode, visit http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=420:
TV Reporter: "Mr. Yitzhak Cohen, the military commander of the West bank and one of the main candidates in the elections will talk about the medical progress made by Israel, which will have a major impact on global medicine and on human organ transplants."
Yitzhak Cohen: "Recently, we had great success in the field of transplanting and cloning human organs, and we can declare with full confidence that all the people on this planet - be they white, black, yellow, or red will all enjoy the marvelous medical accomplishments that we have made in these fields. We believe that the Lord has given us these possibilities and capabilities, which require us to provide all the needy in the world with the accomplishments of our gifted people in the fields of human organ transplant and rehabilitation. We give this as a gift to mankind!"
Crowd: "Yitzhak Cohen! Yitzhak Cohen! Yitzhak Cohen! Yitzhak Cohen!"
Cut to West Bank Classroom
Camp Nurse: "They have come to prevent the spreading of an eye disease. We must let them examine the children."
Teacher: "OK "
Doctor: "Open your eyes, my dear. Good. Come, yes. And you. Good. You too God bless you. Good."
Camp Nurse: "What kind of a program is this? Why aren't you examining everyone? Why are they taking pictures? What's going on here?!"
Doctor: "Calm down please. We are only doing our duty "
Yitzhak Cohen (on TV screen):"We are the best of the races in the world. Our land should extend from the Euphrates to the Nile. The oil lies between the Euphrates and the Nile The whole world will be shaken by the oil shortage problem. This is a difficult stage that will determine the fate of the entire world, and all eyes will be upon this region."
Cut to Israeli Meeting
General: "This is the one! Here you go, Doctor."
Doctor: "Here you go, sir. Take a look."
Yitzhak Cohen: "Who is this?..."
Military man: "Zahra Abd Al-Rahman Muhammad. Age: seven; blood type: O+."
General: She lives in the central refugee camp. Eye color - green."
Yitzhak Cohen: "Good."
Doctor: "Her physical condition is not bad."
Yitzhak Cohen: "What is her medical condition?"
Doctor: "Not bad, but she needs better care."
Yitzhak Cohen: "Excellent. Bring her here. Prepare everything for her. Treat her like a princess."
General: "Sir, there are 32 children that you haven't seen yet, and there is also a ship docked at the shore with a cargo of artificial fetuses "
Yitzhak Cohen: "This one! Her eyes remind me of my wife." 
To view clips from the second episode, visit http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=431:
Doctor: "Welcome, sir, the president is in the operating room."
General: "The president is indebted to you. He still can't believe that he has been granted his life back, even though he suffers from old age and heart failure."
Yitzhak Cohen: "He shouldn't think it was easy..."
General: "His family knows everything that is going on. We've shown the president a list of operations we've preformed on people, including the examinations. The old man was very pleased. He couldn't believe that we got 32 hearts - 32 beating hearts!"
Yitzhak Cohen: "From now on we will accomplish more important things. We will revive all the dying people, whichever way we want."
General: "Sir, the unit is ready to move towards the refugee camp."
Yitzhak Cohen: "Good, you had better be with them. You know how important this girl is to me."
Cut to West Bank Classroom
Teacher (to students): "Alright, write down: The last Friday of the month of Ramadan was called by Imam Khomeini who is mourned by most of the Islamic world and who led the Islamic revolution in Iran - he called it 'Global Jerusalem Day.'"
Nurse: "We didn't see any symptoms in the children."
Doctor: " In the early stages of this disease there are no symptoms. We will first take the children who might have contracted the disease."
Nurse: "Where are you taking them, and for how long?"
Doctor: "To hospital with an advanced laboratory. Those who are healthy will return quickly. Don't worry too much."
Israeli unit commander: "There you go. I told you we wouldn't be long."
UN hostage: "I'll file a complaint against you."
Israeli unit commander: "Why?"
UN hostage: "You have abused UN uniforms and its name."
Israeli unit commander: "This is a humanitarian act If you dare open your mouth even once and talk about what happened, I will look for you everywhere, and finish you off. Understood?"
Child: "Uncle Ahmad, why don't we have lands like this that we could cultivate, and build houses on? Why, Uncle Ahmad? Tell me."
Uncle Ahmad: "Everything you see, the lands, the water, the air, and the birds, everything used to belong to us."
Child: "So where are they?"
Uncle Ahmad: "They exist in our hearts. They built these settlements on our lands by force."
Camp Nurse: "All of this is the land of Palestine, our land, the land of our forefathers. How does the poem you recite in school go? Oh Palestine, Oh Jerusalem This is our country, but the Zionists took it from us by force. We fought for our homeland, and we will keep fighting, do you understand? Do you? We have sacrificed martyrs for it, and we will continue to sacrifice everything until we liberate our land " 
Interview with the Writer and Director of the Series
To view clips from the interview, visit http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=422:
Ali Derakhshni: "I, Ali Derakhshni, screenwriter and director of the series 'Zahra's Blue Eyes' started working on this project when I was active in the [Iranian] education ministry, 17 years ago."
Interviewer: " In the film 'Zahra's Blue Eyes' there is a beautiful idea, as best as I recall: A girl with blue eyes. A Zionist father who is an army officer, sees these eyes and tries to steal them for his son."
Ali Derakhshni: "Theodore [Yitzhak Cohen's son] is a boy who symbolizes Israel. He has lost his kidneys, and he was paralyzed, and he wanted to rebuild his body.
"The major film companies are under the Zionists' influence. We are at the beginning of the road. Fortunately, the Iranian Islamic Republic and our Islamic regime have made many films and series like 'Zahra's Blue Eyes,' which is a film about children." 
2004 Thursday 23 December
DAMASCUS, Syria - Iran's foreign minister challenged U.S. and Iraqi officials Thursday to prove their allegations that his country is meddling in Iraqi affairs.
Kamal Kharrazi, speaking to reporters during a visit to Syria, which has faced similar charges from Washington and Baghdad, said such accusations were meant to "evade reality instead of discussing the crisis and trying to find solutions for it."
"Those who release accusations should give evidence," Kharrazi said.
Earlier this month, Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan said Iranian and Syrian intelligence agents, plus former operatives from toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's security forces, were cooperating with an al-Qaida-linked group in Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has distanced himself from the allegations, saying the defense minister's comments were not government policy. Syria dismissed Shaalan's accusations as "baseless."
President Bush has warned Iran and Syria that "meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq is not in their interest."
Kharrazi, who arrived on a previously unannounced visit, held talks Thursday with President Bashar Assad and met with his Syrian counterpart, Farouk al-Sharaa, to discuss events in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, the state news agency said.
Syria and Iran have a close relationship, dating back to the early 1980s when Syria broke Arab ranks and refused to side with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in his 1980-88 border war with Iran. Damascus and Tehran opposed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam last year. But the two countries have had some differences over dealing with post-Saddam Iraq, with Iran backing the Baghdad government while Damascus only halfheartedly deals with it.
Kharrazi, after his meetings, said Jordanian accusations that Iran plans to create a "Shiite crescent" including Syria, Lebanon and Iraq countries with large Shiite populations "should not be taken seriously."
Earlier this month, Jordan's King Abdullah II warned of a possible Shiite hegemony in the region. In an interview with The Washington Post, the king accused Shiite Muslim-dominated Iran of trying to influence the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq, where Shiite candidates are expected to fare well.
Shiites have long constituted the majority in Iraq, but they were held down under dictator Saddam Hussein, who favored the Sunni Muslims, a minority in Iraq but a majority in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Senior Sunni clerics in Iraq have called for a boycott of the vote.
Kharrazi repeated Iranian support for the elections and warned against internal divisions in Iraq. "We want all sects to participate in the elections as it's high time for the Iraqi people to prove that they are mature," he said.
Azerbaijan seeks defense ties with IranDec 23, 2004, 11:20
Azerbaijan Republic's President Elham Aliyev said in a meeting with Iran's visiting Defense Minister Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani here Wednesday evening, "I sincerely hope defense cooperation between our two countries would expand to an unprecedented level."
President aliyev added, "expansion of ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Azerbaijan Republic is not only in the interest of our two nations, but a move aimed at boosting regional peace, security and stability."
The Azeri president meanwhile wished success for the Iranian defense minister in his talks with Azeri officials.
Aliyev considered president mullah Mohammad Khatami's state visit of Azerbaijan Republic earlier this year during which a number of cooperation documents were signed between the two countries' officials, quite successful and effective in boosting bilateral ties.
He added, "presently the agreements reached between the two countries are being implemented properly and based on the pre-determined schedules."
Referring to the continuous trips made by the two countries' officials to each others' capitals, President Aliyev said, "that is the best sign for excellent bilateral cooperation in all fields."
The Azeri president concluded, "I am sure my upcoming visit of Iran, too, would be successful, leading to further expansion of comprehensive bilateral ties."
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.