Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - January 6, 2005 - Intel Drone Crashes in Iran?
Posted on 01/06/2005 1:23:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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Intel Drone Crashes in Iran?DEBKAfile Exclusive: Unidentified drone crashes at Arak nuclear site in central Iran, according to sources close to Iranian Revolutionary Guards ex-commander Rezai.
Evidence in wreckage of intelligence-gathering at presumed uranium enrichment site. Last week, Iranian air force commander said mystery aircraft reported by witnesses over sensitive sites would be shot down.
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Iran Agrees to Inspection of Military BaseBy DAVID E. SANGER
Published: January 6, 2005
ASHINGTON, Jan. 5 - Iran has agreed to allow nuclear inspectors from the United Nations into a major military complex that the United States has long suspected of being a secret site for nuclear weapons development, officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday.
The decision by Iran's leaders comes after several months of foreign pressure and internal debate in Tehran about whether to permit the inspectors into the military base, which Iran has long insisted had nothing to do with its nuclear programs.
American officials have long suspected that testing of high explosives in one area of the military site, called Parchin, could be part of a program to develop a nuclear warhead. Iran has insisted that all of its nuclear work is for civilian purposes.
Bush administration officials said that they assumed that if Iran's military agreed to allow the inspectors to enter the site, it was only because the country had wiped away any traces of prohibited activity. But a Western diplomat familiar with the energy agency's methods said that it planned to conduct a number of environmental tests that would make it difficult to successfully conceal evidence of past nuclear activity.
The decision to open the military plant suggests that Iran has chosen to follow a very different strategy than the one pursued by North Korea, which threw out international inspectors two years ago and has not allowed them to return.
Iran, in contrast, has slowly opened a number of facilities, but only when forced to do so because of disclosures by exile groups. The opening of those sites has required Tehran to acknowledge that it hid much of its program for 18 years.
Iranian officials apparently decided that the risk of further disclosures, if there are any, was less than that of seeming to defy the international inspectors.
"The Iranians are playing a shrewd game of giving international opinion just enough to keep the wolves at bay," said Ashton B. Carter, co-director of the Preventive Defense Project, a study group at Harvard and Stanford Universities, and a former assistant secretary of defense during the Clinton administration. "At least they are showing a sensitivity to the perception they create, even though I don't believe that instinct will be enough to turn around Iran's nuclear ambitions."
Iran's agreement to allow inspection, the energy agency notes, does not guarantee that inspectors will be permitted into all the corners of the military base where they want to go.
American officials said they believed the inspectors would be permitted to see any location where there was no evidence of current nuclear work, or where such evidence had been removed.
"They are great at removing soil," said one American nuclear expert with long experience dealing with the Iranian program. "They have mastered the art of cat-and-mouse when it comes to inspections."
Still, Iran's agreement to allow access to the military base is something of a victory - perhaps temporary, perhaps not - for the agency. Its director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, argued in an interview last month that applying slow, constant pressure on Iran would yield more results than immediately taking the country to the United Nations Security Council for sanctions, the path the Bush administration has advocated.
Dr. ElBaradei has never publicly accused Iran of hiding a weapons program - the charge made by the Bush administration - and instead has asked Iran to allow inspectors access to a growing list of sites.
His handling of Iran has become one of the many points of tension with the White House, and the United States has exchanged little information with the international agency about Iran or other nuclear programs.
Administration officials said last year they wanted to oust Dr. ElBaradei when his term expires later this year, but they have failed to back an alternative candidate to head the agency. Some American officials now say they think Dr. ElBaradei is likely to stay in place.
As recently as a month ago, the Iranians were expressing reluctance to open the military base.
"They should have evidence that there are nuclear activities, not just 'We heard from someone that there is a dual-use equipment that we want to see,' " said one Iranian official who was involved in negotiations with the energy agency in early December.
Parchin is a decades-old military site southeast of Tehran where inspectors believe the country is testing conventional high explosives of a type used to detonate nuclear weapons. It appears to be the location that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was referring to in November when he said that new American intelligence suggested Iran was working to shrink a nuclear device to a size that could fit atop the country's missiles.
American officials will not describe the intelligence that led Mr. Powell to make his statement. But an American official, Jackie W. Sanders, told the energy agency's board of governors in December that Iran had attempted to obtain equipment "in the nuclear military area."
Parchin was also the site that Iran used to develop its long-range missiles. But it will pose a difficult target for inspectors. It is a vast installation with hundreds of bunkers, test sites and buildings.
The Institute for Science and International Security, an arms control group in Washington, issued a report last year saying that within Parchin was "an isolated, separately secured site which may be involved in developing nuclear weapons."
Iran officially demands EU3 deliver uranium, UF6, and nuclear equipmentTEHRAN, Jan. 5 (MNA) -- An official close to the Iranian nuclear negotiations on Wednesday confirmed statements by Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Irans ambassador to the United Nations, that Iran would be making nuclear demands of the European Union.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told the Mehr News Agency that the process of nuclear negotiations with the Europeans should be based on the commitments the EU made to Iran, which Europe has failed to fulfill, and Zarifs remarks were only part of what the Iranian delegation told the Europeans.
Tehran expects its demands to be fully addressed and has raised the point of its rights, which London, Paris, and Berlin have ignored over the years, at the negotiations, he added.
Speaking on the Kankash program of Irans Jam-e Jam television, Zarif did not specify what Iran asked the EU to do, but the list is thought to include the manufacture of two power plants in Dar Khoein, Khuzestan Province, each with the capacity to produce 900 megawatts of electricity, the delivery of 50 tons of UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) from Irans share of the production of the Eurodif nuclear plant in France, the delivery of 775 tons of uranium that Iran bought from South Africa which London later forced Pretoria to sell to Britain, and also the delivery of equipment for the Bushehr nuclear power plant that Iran purchased from Germany but which Berlin has withheld since it withdrew from the Bushehr project.
We will certainly demand our rights. Europes actions are not only in breach of mutual obligations but also a breach of the NPT. Therefore, we will demand our rights, and we believe that Europe is obliged to fulfill the commitments that it has failed to implement, both bilateral commitments and NPT commitments toward all signatories, the source said.
Zarif also said on Tuesday that the European Union should fulfill all the commitments in regard to Irans nuclear program which it has failed to implement.
He stated that in order to establish mutual confidence, the EU is obliged to live up to mutual commitments and respect the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which apply to all signatories.
Pointing to the lack of confidence between Iran and the European Union, Zarif said, Currently, we also dont trust the West and we are in the process of testing the waters to see how much confidence and cooperation can be established.
Zarif said that the Europeans say that Iran must give guarantees that it will observe the terms of the NPT, but the Europeans and other Western countries have not fulfilled their commitments with regard to the implementation of Article 4 of the NPT, and Iran has been saying this at negotiations with the Europeans since October 2003.
The equipment and materials which have not been delivered to Iran for over 20 years include 50 tons of uranium hexafluoride from France, 775 tons of uranium from Britain, and the equipment for the Bushehr nuclear power plant from Germany.
MNA has learned that Iran will demand delivery of a part of this equipment and these materials at the upcoming Iran-EU nuclear working group talks despite the failure of the two sides to reach an agreement in this regard at the previous negotiations.
The legal dispute over these demands, including the demand that Paris build two 900-megawatt plants in Khuzestan Province, has still not been resolved.
France has refused to give Iran its share of over 50 tons of UF6 from the Eurodif plant for 25 years.
During this time, Britain has also prevented the delivery of 775 tons of uranium which Iran had bought from South Africa and in an illegal manner bought this nuclear material from Pretoria.
Germany broke the contract to build the Bushehr nuclear power plant by discontinuing construction work on the plant, withholding equipment that Iran purchased, and revoking the license for the export of the purchased equipment for phase 2 of the project.
Reports indicate that in negotiations between the diplomatic delegations, Tehran has not made any demands for the EU trio to implement any new projects in Iran but has only demanded that the commitments these three countries made by signing agreements with Iran over the past 25 years be fulfilled.
The Iran Atomic Energy Organization already has a research reactor and currently does not need a light water reactor.
MNA has learned that the Islamic Republic is not demanding construction of a light water reactor but Europe is insisting on selling the reactor to Iran.
5th JAN 13:40 hrs IST
A.Q. Khan sold blueprints for nulcear bomb to Libya: US paperWashington: Top nuclear scientist and father of Pakistan's atomic bomb Abdul Qadeer Khan has clandestinely sold nuclear gear to Libya worth 100 million dollars and blueprints for a ten-kilo ton nuclear bomb.
A New York Times report quoted intelligence officials as saying that US experts were unsure who else had those designs besides Libya.
They were not certain if the designs had also been passed on to Iran, Syria or al Qaeda, the report said.
US intelligence agencies only learnt the full details of the transactions in 2004, when the Libyans handed over two large plastic bags with the names of an Islamabad tailor on one side, and a dry cleaner on other, one of the several clues that it had come from the Khan Laboratories, the paper said.
The design inside included drawings of more than 100 parts, all fitting in a sphere about 34 inches in diameter, just the right size for a rocket.
According to the report, nearly a year after Khan's arrest, secrets of his nuclear black market continue to uncoil, revealing a vast global enterprise.
The breadth of the operation was particularly surprising to some American intelligence officials because they had Khan under surveillance for nearly three decades, since he began assembling components for Pakistan's bomb, but apparently missed crucial transactions with countries like Iran and North Korea, the report said.
The report alleged that the Dutch company where Khan worked, as well as Dutch intelligence, were suspicious of the scientists and viewed him as a potential danger and had wanted to arrested him.
In the early 1980s, Khan ''pulled off a coup'' by obtaining the blueprints for a weapon that China had detonated in its fourth nuclear test, in 1966, the paper said.
Intelligence experts believe that Khan traded his centrifuge technology to the Chinese for their bomb design.
Iran mullah leader: go kill yourself for allahJan 5, 2005, 10:35
Mullah leader of the Islamic revolution mullah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday stressed that enemies of the Islamic Republic are trying to humiliate and diminish the value of martyrdom and the culture of Jihad in the eyes of the youth, particularly students.
Mullah Leader known as "Cholaaq ali gedaa" among Iranians
In a message to the 8th congress on martyred students held in this southeastern provincial capital, mullah leader urged students to continue to promote the culture of Jihad and martyrdom among themselves as "a source of Iranian national strength and foundation of pure worship."
Mullah Khamenei, in his message, called on the youth to honor the memory of their martyrs and to put their trust on the allah.
Jordans King Burn Bridges with Iran to Underline Arab Concerns
Jordan's King Abdullah II was notably undiplomatic when he accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi elections, and Iran was angry enough to keep its foreign minister away from a regional meeting on Iraq Jordan is hosting Thursday.
Abdullah's willingness to touch off an international incident underlines just how worried Sunni Muslim Arabs are about the possible emergence of a Shiite Muslim-dominated state in Iraq that might take its cues from Persian Iran's Shiite theocracy.
Iraq, one of the few Arab countries with a Shiite majority, holds elections Jan. 30. Shiites who had been suppressed under Saddam Hussein have embraced the elections as a chance to claim political power, while Sunnis have called for boycotts.
Abdullah "cried out loud to express Arab concern over Iran's expansionist schemes in Iraq, but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears in America, which does not seem to share the concern and is pushing for holding the elections despite a planned Sunni boycott," said former Jordanian lawmaker Hamadah Faraaneh.
King Abdullah charged in an interview last month that more than 1 million Iranians have entered Iraq, many to vote in the Jan. 30 elections, and said they were being encouraged by the Iranian government.
Iran called Abdullah's comments an insult to the Iraqi people.
Arabs fear that a Shiite regime in Iraq could both embolden their own Shiite communities and lead to Iraq's moving closer to mainly Shiite Iran or adopting Iran's Islamic state.
Jordan does not have a Shiite community, except for some Iraqi families who fled the violence in their war-battered country. The kingdom, though, is concerned that a strict Islamic state on its eastern border would lead to instability in the pro-Western country, a longtime U.S. ally.
Iran announced last weekend that Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi would not attend Thursday's meeting in Jordan. The foreign ministers of Iraq's four other neighbors -- Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Syria -- were expected.
Representatives from Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain and the UN special representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, also were expected, said Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raja Sukiyaki.
Kharrazi's deputy, Golam Ali Khorsho, flew to Jordan Wednesday to take part in the gathering, Jordan's official Petra news agency reported.
Zamani Nia, a member of Khorsho's delegation, said accusations of Iranian influence in Iraq "will lead to divisions among the Iraqi people."
"That will be very destructive" at this stage, he told reporters as he and junior delegates to the meeting gathered at the Jordanian Foreign Ministry to outline Thursday's agenda and draft the final communique.
Monday, Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Irani said his country didn't see much need for the meeting.
"What are we going to talk about? We discussed everything we needed to discuss in the November meeting," Irani added, referring to a ministerial meeting in Egypt.
But its host, Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Al Mulqi, said Thursday's meeting will serve as a catalyst to "call on the feelings of all Iraqis to vote for an Arab, not a religious Iraq."
"We hope that the Iraqis will vote for their Arab allegiance to Iraq, not for religion," Mulqi said in an interview. "Shiites are not a majority, Sunnis are not a minority, the Arabs are a majority and a common denominator in Iraq."
King Abdullah had wanted Iraq's elections postponed by at least six months to give more time for Iraqi Sunnis to decide to take part in the polls.
Jordan and 13 other nations worldwide are hosting absentee Iraqi vote supervised by the International Organization for Migration. The estimated 1 million Iraqis living abroad include Sunnis, secularists and Christians.
Iraqi Defence Minister: Talks with Iran out of the questionTue. 4 Jan 2005
Cairo, Jan. 04 Iraqs Defence Minister Hazem Shaalan rejected the idea of direct dialogue with Iran yesterday, saying that Iran had no interest in dialogue and only sought to destabilise Iraq.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gaith, Shaalan also hinted that Iraq should postpone its January 30th general election if Sunni groups who have threatened to boycott the election were willing to participate in one set for a later date.
Responding to a question about whether dialogue with Iran serves any purpose, Shaalan reaffirmed, Iran is not seeking bilateral talks; rather its goal is to dominate Iraq.
The 1,500km-border between Iran and Iraq practically remains open, with only a few checkpoints manned by intelligence and security forces, he said
Shaalan asserted that he was optimistic that the January 6th conference in Amman, Jordan by Iraqs neighbours to discuss Iraqs security would result in Arab nations condemning the meddling and insurgencies directed from Iran and Syria.
Irans Foreign Ministry yesterday announced that Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi would not be attending the conference.
Dialogue is not enough for Iran. Iran wants to take control over Iraq, Shaalan said in response to a question on whether Iraq would be willing to discuss security concerns with Iran after the conference.
Analysis: Repression Of Iranian Internet Sector Continues
Some Iranian online journalists who were arrested in the autumn were released after writing letters of contrition that were published in newspapers. The respite has been short-lived, however, especially for journalists who later described the mistreatment they underwent. Two of them -- Hanif Mazrui and Fereshteh Qazi -- received Press Court summonses on 23 December, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported the next day. The two face accusations of, among other things, disturbing public opinion.
The Journalists Guildspoke out against the summonses on 25 December, ILNA reported. The guild called on the judiciary to desist from such actions against correspondents.
Journalists Guild head Rajabali Mazrui (Hanif Mazrui's father) criticized the judiciary for torturing the detained journalists in a 10 December letter to President Mohammad Khatami. One day later three of the released journalists -- Omid Memarian, Ruzbeh Mir-Ebrahimi, and Shahram Rafizadeh -- were taken into custody again, Human Rights Watch reported. Press Court Judge Said Mortazavi warned them that if they did not refute the allegations of torture they would spend a long time in prison. Memarian, Mir-Ebrahimi, Rafizadeh, and Javad Gholam-Tamimi, who was detained in October and had not been released yet, gave televised confessions on 14 December in which they said they never endured torture, solitary detention, and or any other form of abuse.
Some of the arrested online journalists were coerced into falsely confessing that they had physical relations with prominent reformist officials, such as Mustafa Tajzadeh and Hojatoleslam Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Radio Farda reported on 28 December, citing Abtahi's weblog (http://www.webnevesht.com/weblog). Tajzadeh is a former deputy interior minister and a leader in the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization. Abtahi serves as a presidential adviser and until his October resignation was vice-president for legal and parliamentary affairs. Abtahi writes that he spoke with the bloggers and journalists after their letters of contrition were published and their confessions televised, and they described the beatings they suffered at their jailers' hands.
Fereshteh Qazi complained about this abuse to Judge Mortazavi when she appeared before him on 27 December, Radio Farda reported, citing ILNA. Mortzavi sent her to a physician to determine the veracity of her claims.
Typical of these letters of contrition is one from Javad Gholam-Tamimi that was described in the 5 December "Jomhuri-yi Islami" (on other letters of contrition, see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 7 and 14 December 2004). His letter was addressed to Journalists Guild chief Rajabali Mazrui and was faxed to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) from Evin prison. Gholam-Tamimi allegedly said he was fooled into acts of treason, the last of which involved receiving payment for cooperating with the military attache of a foreign embassy. He denounced the Journalists Guild, allegedly writing, "I declare my disdain for you and the union affiliated with you that want to misuse my name, and I ask for judicial prosecution of those who try to create tension in society merely under the pretext of supporting a criminal." Gholam-Tamimi said he was never in solitary confinement, prison officials had treated him well, and "I am embarrassed and I do not know what to do in return for so many favors that the authorities have done for me."
Obviously, the Journalists Guild recognizes that such a letter was almost certainly coerced and it therefore maintains its interest in and commitment to the issue. The conservative dominated legislature, on the other hand, appears to accept these letters at face value. Alaedin Borujerdi, head of the national security and foreign affairs committee, said he and his colleagues might look into the allegations raised in the letters, "Farhang-i Ashti" reported on 6 December. He said the letter writers were acting freely, and their claims of acting under others' influence require investigation.Some of the arrested online journalists were coerced into falsely confessing that they had physical relations with prominent reformist officials.
Iranian journalists have had a difficult time since the country's 1979 revolution. Iran now holds the dubious honor of being the Middle East's biggest prison for journalists, according to Human Rights Watch. The government's closure of approximately 100 publications over the last four and half years silenced many voices, and the remaining press outlets are forced to practice self-censorship to remain open. Some of those journalists began to ply their trade using the Internet, but even that process has become dangerous. Some are now abandoning the political scene, while others are leaving Iran. "I am quitting political work for good in Iran," Hanif Mazrui said in the 26 December "New York Times," and a former detainee who requested anonymity said that he and some of his colleagues intend to leave the country. That is exactly what the hardliners in Iran want -- an absence of oversight so they can ride roughshod over their compatriots' rights. (Bill Samii)
Iran, India Extend FriendshipSince India and Iran signed their "New Delhi Declaration" in January 2003, bilateral relations have progressed gradually, driven by a mutual desire to expand trade links, especially in oil and natural gas, and a common strategic outlook in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Although Pakistan is concerned about the countries' growing military and security cooperation, the more interesting question is what role India, with strengthening ties to Israel and warm U.S. relations, would play if the nuclear crisis in Iran reaches a precipice.
Commentary - Opinion
from the January 06, 2005 edition
A good next step in Iran: restore diplomatic tiesWASHINGTON An early test for President Bush in his second term is likely to be multiple problems in Iran. There is a dispute between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency over Iranian development of nuclear fuels. The US and its European allies (Britain, France, and Germany) are not agreed on what to do. The Bush administration thinks the Europeans are too soft. The Europeans think the US is too hard. On another problem, Iraq and Jordan say that Iran is intervening in the Iraqi elections scheduled for Jan. 30.
Through all of this, Iran is and has been divided between fundamentalist and moderate Muslims. It began with a 1921 coup staged by Reza Pahlavi, an officer in the Persian Cossack Brigade. By 1925, he had consolidated the army's loyalty, improved public order, and proclaimed himself shah. He negotiated improved terms with Britain on an oil concession dating from 1901. Educational and judicial reforms deprived the Muslim clergy of much of its influence. Divorce laws were liberalized, and women were no longer required to wear the veil. When Reza Shah Pahlavi turned to Germany to counteract Russian influence, he was overthrown by an Anglo-Soviet invasion in 1941. He was succeeded by his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who turned out also to be a social reformer.
Enter Muhammad Mossadeq, a popular nationalist politician and member of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament. In March 1951, the Majlis passed a bill sponsored by Mossadeq nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The shah appointed Mossadeq prime minister. The British and Americans saw the nationalization as a threat to other Western oil companies throughout the Middle East. As Mossadeq's power grew, the shah's declined. When the shah went into exile in August 1953, the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6, organized street mobs fueled with an abundant supply of small-denomination bills, and drove Mossadeq from office. The shah returned.
He was no less a social reformer than before, but this time a hard-fisted one. He cleared the way for land reform and introduced profit-sharing in industry. He allowed cultural symbols of modernization such as movie houses and women in Western dress (even blue jeans) on the street.
President Nixon sent CIA Director Richard Helms to Tehran as ambassador. The CIA, along with the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, helped organize SAVAK, the shah's no-nonsense intelligence service. The US Embassy acquiesced in the shah's insistence that it rely on SAVAK for internal Iranian intelligence, forgoing independent reporting. SAVAK agents spied on Iranian students in American universities. Large sums were spent on American military and police equipment. When conservative Muslims protested social reforms and modernization programs, the shah cracked down. Protests became violent and so did the police.
Each major collision was reported in the Western press. Newspaper stories clearly indicated that the shah's days were numbered. These stories were apparently not read in the intelligence community or White House, where there is a tendency to discount anything that may be common knowledge but is not stamped TOP SECRET. Thus, the CIA in August 1978 stated: "Iran is not in a revolutionary or even a 'prerevolutionary' situation." The Defense Intelligence Agency in September 1978: The shah "is expected to remain actively in power over the next 10 years." President Carter at a press conference Dec. 12, 1978: "I fully expect the shah to maintain power in Iran." In February 1979, the shah was overthrown by a radical fundamentalist Muslim regime. In November 1979 mobs seized the American Embassy in Tehran and held the staff there hostage until January 1981.
Here was an intelligence failure comparable to that leading to 9/11. Gary Sick, the National Security Council staff officer for Iran in 1979, explained it as "not so much a failure of sources or observation or data as a structural inadequacy of the system."
Iran's moderates have since gained enough power to elect a president, but the conservative clergy limits what he can do. It is in the US national interest that the moderates prevail. The chances for this are better in Iran than anywhere else in the Middle East. This would give Bush what he wanted, but probably won't get, in Iraq, and at a much cheaper price.
A good first step would be to restore diplomatic relations. This would do more than provide a channel for communications. It would establish a US presence, including business and cultural institutions.
Pat M. Holt is former chief of staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He wrote the book 'Secret Intelligence and Public Policy: A Dilemma of Democracy.'
How about this. We send the material to make a Nuclear bomb, only it is contained in a nuclear bomb. And when it burrows into the earth at one of these sites it explodes.
Yes I like the direct approuch. YOu see as the bomb strikes their soil they own it for the few seconds before it explodes.
The Growing Beijing/Tehran AxisBy Frederick W. Stakelbeck Jr.
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 6, 2005
With the worlds attention focused on Irans continued development of nuclear weapons and support for the insurgency in Iraq, what has gone largely unnoticed is that the country is also in the midst of an extreme economic transformation. After years of economic isolation, Iran has once again become a magnet for foreign investment, specifically, in the lucrative oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) sectors. And no country has taken advantage of these renewed economic opportunities more than China.
China and Iran have been cultivating an increasingly close relationship in recent months, one borne from Chinas need for energy to run its growing economy and Irans need for consumer goods to satisfy its young, West-leaning population. Ali Akbar Salehi, Irans former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently confirmed this, saying, We [Iran and China] complement each other. The Chinese have the industry and the Iranians have the energy resources.
The budding relationship that is developing between these two brutal regimes has received a great amount of international attention as of late, particularly in the wake of their signing of mega oil and LNG energy deals in October. Tellingly, Iran has already stated that it would prefer to have China replace Japan as the number one importer of Iranian oil. Fifty-one percent of Chinas crude oil imports already come from the Middle East, and that figure is projected to jump to 70 percent by 2015.
Viewing Chinas increasing dependence on Middle East natural resources as a national security issue, the Bush Administration has attempted to prevent further energy deals between China and Iran, but to no avail. Indeed, one official from Sinopec, Chinas second largest oil company, said last January that, Sinopec is paying no attention to the U.S. request and will do its utmost to carry on its bidding for an exploitation project in an Iranian oilfield.
In late October, a contract was signed by Sinopec and Iran for an estimated $70 billion to $100 billion for the shipment of LNG to China. As part of the deal, Sinopec also agreed to purchase 250 million tons of LNG over thirty years and to develop the Yadavaran oil field in southwest Iran.
Other energy deals are in the pipeline. A $50 billion to $100 billion LNG deal is currently being negotiated between China and Iran and could be signed very soon, and a preliminary accord was recently signed by the two countries calling for China to purchase 10 million tons of LNG a year. Moreover, Chinas state oil trader, Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp., has agreed to buy over 110 million tons of LNG from Iran over a twenty-five year period for $20 billion. Iranian Petroleum Minister Bizhan Namdar Zanganeh, speaking on the abundance of economic activity between the two countries, noted, Iran is a natural partner to fuel Chinas economy. We [Iran] have invited Chinese companies to actively participate in our exploration and development projects by promising them the greatest incentives.
The energy relationship between China and Iran has flourished, while Chinese negotiations with Russia, the worlds largest LNG reserve holder, have soured. As energy shortages take hold, China has been increasingly frustrated by its fruitless energy partnership with Russia in the construction of an $18 billion, 3,045-mile pipeline from Siberia to China. The proposed oil pipeline would not only address Chinas need for energy, but also provide a land-based alternative to seaports susceptible to an American naval blockade. This [failed oil and natural gas negotiations] shows that China cannot have high hopes for Russia to solve its energy needs said He Jun, an analyst for the China-based consulting firm, Anbound, in October.
For Iran, exploration contracts for new oil fields; the optimization of existing oil and gas fields through increased production efficiencies; the development of new transportation conduits; and increased investment in the refining and petrochemical industries, have all become important parts of a well-conceived strategic economic plan.
Tehran plans to invest $50 billion in its energy sector over the next several years. This level of investment is essential for economic growth, since oil proceeds account for 40 to 50 percent of government revenues. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Iran is the worlds second largest oil producer, with its 32 oil fields containing approximately 125.8 bb of proven oil reserves, or 10% of the worlds total. Only with sufficient foreign investment will Iran meet self-imposed quotas of approximately 5 million bpd by 2024.
After years of revolution, isolation and war, Iran continues to try to remake its image to attract Western corporate investment. This has been a difficult task, due to continued U.S. economic sanctions first put in place as a result of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980. The primary obstacle to American investment in Iran has been the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) of 1996, which imposed sanctions on persons making certain investments designed to enhance the ability of Iran or Libya to develop their petroleum resources. In March 2003, President Bush extended the economic sanctions imposed against Iran due to the countrys support of international terrorism and attempts to acquire WMDs. The Iranian response to the continued U.S. economic sanctions has been telling. Sanctions are not useful nowadays, because we have many options in secondary markets, like China. Hossein Shariatmadari, a leading Iranian conservative theorist, told Chinese business newspaper The Standard in November.
Well-intentioned as they are in both principle and practice, economic sanctions, coupled with geopolitical developments, have inadvertently provided the Chinese and their state-sponsored energy conglomerates with a unique economic opportunity. U.S. actions to halt further oil and LNG contracts have been effectively circumvented by China and Iran. Iran, seeking to foster additional energy partnerships, has indicated its desire to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), created in 1996 to promote the mutual interests of its member countries. Originally dubbed the Shanghai Five, the group now includes China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Irans acceptance into the group would create an even more diverse and powerful alliance.
Unfortunately for the United States, a large part of the foreign investment in Irans energy infrastructure has come from the European Union and Southeast Asia. Signaling a possible fissure in U.S. efforts to further unite the world community against Irans Islamic regime, while at the same time dissuading energy development, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Britain and Japan have all signed development and exploration contracts with Iran. A $2 billion agreement signed between Japans INPEX and Iran to develop the Azadegan field is especially troubling, given the July 2004 release of a discussion paper prepared for Japans Defense Agency warning that Japans competition with China for oil could spark a Chinese attack on mainland Japan.
Closer energy ties between China and Iran will reduce Americas leverage to negotiate economic, military and nuclear nonproliferation issues. At its core, the new alliance is a mutually beneficial arrangement based upon the satisfaction of each countrys needs. But perhaps more importantly, the alliance presents a united front in the face of what is perceived as a common threat posed by the U.S. Taken separately, China and Iran are formidable regional powers. However, when taken together, they become an unstoppable and influential force on many levels.
Indeed, recent diplomatic statements made by China to the United Nations and IAEA in defense of Irans nuclear program show that China may be replacing Russia as a chief Iranian strategic ally. Iran has a history of active negotiations with China to secure nuclear technology, including the development of a 300-330 megawatt reactor and the sale of hundreds of tons of anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF), a chemical used to enrich uranium.
Furthermore, the November 30 announcement by Iranian news agency Irna that Iran and China have signed a memorandum of understanding designed to increase cooperation in the areas of aerospace and satellite technology only complicates an already delicate situation, given that this shared technology could be used in the development of Irans long-range missile program.
In addition, China has replaced Russia as Irans leading conventional arms supplier, providing Tehran in recent years with artillery pieces, tanks, Seersucker surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, Hudong fast attack craft, F-7 combat aircraft and rocket-propelled mines. These purchases have upgraded Irans aging weapons systems and replaced equipment lost as a result of the Iran-Iraq War.
Perhaps all of these agreements are designed merely to marginalize the U.S. and improve the negotiating position of both China and Iran -- no one knows for sure. But one thing is certain: an increasing ChinaIran alliance is enough to cause Bush administration officials many sleepless nights in the months and years to come.
Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr. is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.
6 January 2005
Reporters Without Border condemns mistreatment of cyberjournalists and webloggers
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the mistreatment in prison of cyberdissidents and webloggers after an Iranian committee report concluded that public confessions of two of them, Omid Memarian (photo right) and Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi (photo left), were obtained under duress.
"We fear that the authorities are succeeding in purging the web of all critical content through brutality, intimidation and censorship," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "In a country in which weblogs and news sites have flourished in the past few years such a setback would be a catastrophe for freedom of expression."
Confirmation that Memarian and Mir Ebrahimi were mistreated after their arrests in November 2004, along with a group of other online journalist, was given on 4 January 2005 in a report from the committee for Monitoring the Implementation of the Constitution, on which both conservatives and reformists sit.
Reporters Without Borders is particularly concerned about police threats against Omid Memarian, Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi and Shahram Rafihzadeh, and pointed out that weblogger Mojtaba Saminejad, along with online journalist, Javad Gholam Tamayomi, are still in prison.
Reformist leader Ali Abtahi, a former vice-president of Iran, said that the monitoring committee, of which he is a member, had carried out an investigation into mistreatment in prison of journalists in the 'Internet cases'.
"We took evidence from these journalists who have told us that they have suffered torture in prison", he said. The report was handed over to President Mohammad Khatami. The monitoring committee is a consultative body that has no legal authority.
Ali Abtahi said on his weblog (http://www.webneveshteha.com) that the testimony of Omid Memarian and Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi "made committee members weep".
According to Reporters Without Borders' sources, the seven journalist imprisoned between October and December 2004 have been beaten, humiliated and sometimes threatened with rape by their jailers. Most of them have been accused of moral crimes, that is having sexual relations outside of marriage, a pretext often used in Iran to attack political dissidents.
Since leaving prison, police have summoned them several times a week. They also receive daily threats by phone. One police officer suggested to one of the journalists that he "watch out for cars, because a lot of pedestrians get run over in this country".
Javad Gholam Tamayomi, Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafihzadeh, Hanif Mazroi, Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Fereshteh Ghazi were all arrested, between October and November 2004 as part of a crackdown against the online press. All of them, apart from Javad Gholam Tamayomi, were released at the beginning of December.
In an open letter and then at a 14 December press conference, Memarian and Mir Ebrahimi both said they had not been mistreated in detention. Reporters Without Borders dismissed their confessions as "phoney" since they had been made under pressure from the authorities (http://www.rsf.fr/article.php3 ?id_article=12090).
Five webloggers were imprisoned during the same period (http://www.rsf.org/article.php3 ?id_article=11978). Only Mojtaba Saminejad who was arrested at the beginning of November for condemning the arrests of colleagues in his blog (http://man-namanam.blogspot.com) is still being held.
King Abdullah defends statement on Shiite crescent(AFP)6 January 2005
KUWAIT CITY - Jordans King Abdullah II said in comments published here Thursday that his declarations about a Shiite crescent were blown out of proportion by certain quarters in Iran.
My statements on the Shiite crescent were blown out of proportion by some in Iran and interpreted to the contrary of my intentions, said the monarch in an interview with Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper.
Last month the king accused Shiite Iran of trying to influence the Iraqi elections in a bid to create a crescent dominated by Shiites extending from Iraq to Lebanon.
Iran rejected the accusations and its foreign minister Kamal Kharazi stayed away from a conference of Iraqs neighbours which opened in Amman Thursday.
Sunni Arab governments like Jordans have repeatedly voiced concern that the influence of the Islamic republic will be boosted following a victory by Iraqs Shiite majority in the January 30 polls.
Iraqis alone have the right to determine their future by taking part in an election free of external influence that may produce a government... which represents a group at the expense of another, said Abdullah.
His statements would never be directed against the Shiites, the monarch said. We are keen to see the Sunnis and Shiites together as they have always been.
The king also called on all Iraqis to take part in the polls, saying boycotting the elections is not in Iraqs interests.
We expect that all religious groups and political parties will take part in the elections ... Calls by some to boycott the elections are not in the interest of Iraq, said Abdullah.
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