Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - January 10, 2005 - Iran Won't Allow Military Equipment Inspection
Posted on 01/10/2005 1:56:41 AM PST by DoctorZIn
Top News Story
Iran Won't Allow Military Gear Inspection
Monday January 10, 2005 5:16 AM
AP Photo NY114
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran will allow U.N. nuclear experts to take environmental samples at a military site the United States links to an alleged nuclear weapons program but won't allow them to inspect military equipment, the foreign ministry spokesman said Sunday.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said last week that Iran had agreed to grant access to the site at Parchin, just southeast of Tehran, and that his inspectors could arrive soon. The IAEA had pressed Tehran for months to be allowed to inspect the military complex, long used to research, develop and produce ammunition, missiles and high explosives.
``The discussion is not about visiting military installations,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters Sunday.
``The IAEA had asked to take environmental samples from the complex's green spaces,'' Asefi said, apparently referring to landscaped areas outside the huge complex's ammunition production workshops.
``To show that nothing other than peaceful nuclear activities are carried out in the Islamic Republic of Iran, we agreed to allow the taking of environmental samples from the green spaces in the complex,'' Asefi said.
Iran has repeatedly denied U.S. and other allegations it has a secret nuclear weapons programs, saying it wants nuclear technology only for peaceful energy purposes.
In leaks to media last year, U.S. intelligence officials said that a specially secured site at Parchin may be used in research on making high-explosive components for use in nuclear weapons.
Iran asserts its military is not involved in nuclear activities, and the IAEA has found no firm evidence to the contrary.
Under international pressure, Iran suspended uranium enrichment and all related activities in November to try to escape U.N. Security Council sanctions for which the United States had pressed. The IAEA agreed to police suspension of Iran's nuclear activities.
Under the agreement reached with France, Germany and Britain, which negotiated on behalf of the European Union, Iran will continue suspension of its enrichment activities during negotiations with the Europeans on economic, political and technological aid from the 25-nation European Union. Details of those talks are to start later this month.
Iran says it will judge within three months whether to continue suspension.
"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
DoctorZin Note: The following is an important statement by the son of the former Shah of Iran regarding the current effort inside of Iran to hold an referendum on the Iranian constitution.
A message regarding a call for a National referendumReza Pahlavi
January 7th, 2005
The liberal democratic paradigm that emerged after the cold war has brought down autocracies across the world through the ballot box. It was within this time frame and paradigm that the Islamic Republic of Iran held its 7th parliamentary elections. I called the elections an inflection point in the life of the regime because it made clear to all that placing the ballot box within the antidemocratic legal and ideological confines of the IR was a futile act.
Since then, the light of liberty and human rights has re-emerged in our national struggle for freedom, leading to the call for a referendum by a group of my compatriots inside Iran. It is the national duty of all patriotic and freedom-loving Iranians to help those who struggle for liberty.
The recent student movement supported by groups of human rights and political activists petitioning support for the conduct of a national referendum, has been supported by a wide spectrum of organizations, political parties and personalities whose unity of direction seemed unlikely prior to the failure of regimes vow to reform itself.
A national referendum with the free participation of the Iranian people, under the observation of the appropriate international institutions, for drafting a new constitution based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can be a democratic path out of the limitations of a regime which does not have the capacity to respond to the peoples minimum demands.
However, it is evident that the current regime's nature and rule prevent the realization of the necessary preconditions for holding a referendum, which is acceptable only when all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are freed, freedom of press is guaranteed and all groups, political parties and proponents of all ideologies have the right to organize, freely engage in political activity, and enjoy freedom of speech and equitable access to the media.
Mobilizing the public and organizing resistance in all directions, in order to force the regime to yield to the nations demands and the creation of the aforementioned conditions comes with great risks and dangers. Calls for violence and unrealistic slogans are but a few of such dangers that will only lead to further violence by the regime. Similarly, insisting on a particular form or structure for the future political order will only breed disunity and benefit the ruling regime.
Shoulder to shoulder with my fellow patriotic Iranians, I ask all of our compatriots to use their critical ability and alert presence in the referendum movement, in order to safeguard the indubitable right of all Iranians to cast their vote in freedom; and, thereby, bring to non-violent end the rule of a regime that has trampled on their rights in all of these years and by violating the equality rights of men and women, religious minorities and ethnic groups, it has formalized cultural and social inequality.
With unity and strength of purpose, I am certain that we the people of Iran can end theocratic tyranny and amalgamation of church and state, and ensure liberty and respect for human rights in a free and democratic order, which would build a proud and progressive country, so that the star of providence will shine in the Iranian sky once again.
May God Bless Iran
WORLD FAMOUS IRANIAN SINGER GOOGOOSH JOINS S.O.S. IRAN FREEDOM MOVEMENT!The important announcement can be watched via the XTV Video Stream below. Googoosh called Ms. Homa Ehsan (S.O.S. Iran/XTV HQ) on Thursday 1/5/2005 to announce her decision to join the S.O.S. Iran freedom movement and Persian Gulf Commitee.
In order to watch the segment containing Googoosh's announcement, move playback forward to 1:24:00 hour.
ActivistChat.com welcomes Ms. Googoosh's decision! As she is now part of the FREE IRAN movement, please consider supporting the googoosh.com petition and show support and thanks to her in any way you can.
To learn more about Googoosh please visit: http://www.googoosh.com/
1/6/2005 Clip No. 468
Iranian Leader Khamenei: Iran's Enemies Want to Destroy it with Miniskirts
The following are excerpts from an address by Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei:
Khamenei: More than Iran's enemies need artillery, guns and so forth, they need to spread cultural values that lead to moral corruption. They have said this many times. I recently read in the news that one of them, a senior official in an important American political center, said: "Instead of bombs, send them miniskirts." He is right. If they arouse sexual desires in any given country, if they spread unrestrained mixing of men and women, and if they lead youth to behavior to which they are naturally inclined by instincts, there will no longer be any need for artillery and guns against that nation.
The prosecution of a woman who cared for cats!
Iran Press News
The Islamic regime's judiciary, in an exceedingly inhumane and appalling attempt which is indicative of unprecedented extents of intrusion in the private lives of the Iranian people, has prosecuted a Tehrani woman whom they have charged with caring for cats! The helpless woman has been charged with keeping six cats in her one bedroom apartment; the judge interogated her for the "comings and goings" of the cats and later in the context of the prosecution, ferociously questioned the woman's elderly father as well.
This case was tried in the second circuit court of Tehran's district 19; the proceedings were broadcast on the Islamic regime's television in order to make an example of this innocent woman and further intimidate the people of Iran.
In the end of this prosecution, the medieval Islamic regime's inquisitor indicted the woman for mental illness and ordered her to be institutionalized in an asylum. The Razi mental asylum is reputed to be extraordinarily unsanitary and it is a know fact that indeed mentally stable people are committed, as punishment to this facility in order to mentally destabilize them!
President Khatami says diversity of ideas more important than diversity of candidatesTEHRAN, Jan. 9 (MNA) -- Talking to reporters after submitting the budget bill Khatami stressed the necessity for the participation of a variety of candidates in the upcoming presidential election, expressing hope that voters would pay more attention to the candidates plans instead of focusing on their personalities.
After presenting the national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year (starts March 21, 2005) to parliament and introducing his nominee for transportation minister, Ahmad Sadegh Bonab, Khatami told reporters, I am quite sure that candidates from all political groups and parties will take part in the election.
Asked if he would support former president and current Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the election, Khatami noted that his duty as president is to hold a fair and free presidential election.
As president, I do not have the right to support anyone. Mr. Rafsanjani, despite all his kindness, never supported me as a presidential hopeful (during the 1997 presidential election). However, I would like to thank him for holding a good and fair election during his presidency.
Khatami stated that he still believes in reformist principles although people have become partially discouraged about the reform process.
He went on to say that a free and fair election would make people realize their votes are effectual.
Rather than the diversity of candidates in elections its the diversity of ideas and thoughts that is important, he noted.
In addition, each candidate should guarantee that his ideas could be implemented if he were to be elected, the president added.
Elaborating on his earlier remarks, in which he observed that some reformists have made statements that are also heard from the enemy camp, Khatami said that some people have lost hope in the Islamic Republic and therefore make remarks that are similar to what the enemies want.
The attempt to overthrow the Islamic Republic with the aim of establishing another system in Iran is one of the biggest plots against the countrys Islamic system, he stated.
Efforts should be made to improve the systems democratic image within the Islamic Republic itself, by way of the current Constitution, Khatami added.
When we speak about reforms, we mean the nation wants the current system but seeks to create reforms within the Islamic Republic that would be closer to democratic principles, he explained.
The reforms have their roots in society and therefore will certainly continue, Khatami said.
If the government is in harmony with reforms, then everything becomes easier, otherwise reforms will just continue on their own way, he added.
Saying he had selected his nominee for the next transportation minister from among the staff of the ministry, Khatami noted that increasing coordination and consensus in the Roads and Transportation Ministry was his main aim in introducing Sadegh Bonab for the post.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khatami said he would continue on his current path, particularly in the international arena, after leaving the presidency.
Asked about a U.S.-sponsored conference recently held in an Arab country in which Irans upcoming presidential election was discussed, he stated that the United States is not in a position to hold such a conference and that it is obviously interference in Irans internal affairs.
On Irans nuclear dossier, the president noted that Iran will not renounce its right to peacefully make use of nuclear energy or to access the nuclear fuel cycle.
Irans nuclear negotiations with the EU have not reached a deadlock. Iran only wants nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes while Europe seeks objective guarantees from the country. We will continue the current process and believe that the Europeans would also like to resolve the issue in an appropriate manner.
Halliburton wins drilling tender in Iran* The company insists it is not illegal for it to work in Tehran
TEHRAN: US oil services company Halliburton, whose operations in Iran have come under investigation by US authorities, has won a tender to drill a huge Iranian gas field, an official said on Sunday.
A US grand jury issued a subpoena to the Texan firm in July, seeking information about its Cayman Islands units work in Iran, where it is illegal for US companies to operate.
Halliburton insists it is not illegal for offshore subsidiaries, such as Halliburton Products & Services Limited, to work in the Islamic Republic, where it provides a range of services to the lumbering state oil company.
Akbar Torkan, managing director of the Pars Oil and Gas company, said Halliburton had won a tender to drill two phases of the South Pars gas field in the Gulf, which sits on the worlds biggest reservoir of natural gas.
Halliburton and Oriental are final winners of the tender for drilling South Pars phases nine and 10, he told the ISNA students news agency.
These phases are 58 percent operated by Iranian state companies and 42 percent by South Koreas LG. Iran has the worlds second-largest reserves of natural gas but has been slow to develop them for export.
Washington has imposed sanctions to prevent companies doing business with OPECs second-biggest producer, which it accuses of developing atomic warheads and sponsoring terror networks. Tehran denies the charges and says it has no objection to working with US firMs. reuters
Iran Persists In Its Hostilityby Shalom Freedman
Jan 09, '05 / 28 Tevet 5765
Iranian persistence in hostility toward Israel has been evident on a number of fronts in the past few weeks.
On the propaganda front, this hostility is demonstrated by a new Iranian television series. According to the Jerusalem Post's (Dec. 24, 2004) Hilary Krieger the TV series Zahra's Blue Eyes is built on the premise that Israel is basing its scientific advancement on organ harvesting from Palestinian children. This blood libel, however outrageous and absurd, is being used to teach the very young Iranian population to hate Israel and the Jews and to regard them as their primary enemy.
Iran's hostility to Israel is also at evidence closer to home and more on the ground, in its arming and protecting Hizbullah, and its infiltrating Hizbullah into Gaza. Debkafile has indicated that the most recent terrorist tunnel explosion, in which five Israeli Bedouin soldiers were killed, was a Hizbullah-like military operation. The whole upper third of Israel is now in the range of the Hizbullah missiles provided by Iran and Syria.
In another recent Iranian operation, a number of its operatives were apprehended as they were attempting to gather intelligence information near Israeli embassies and other sites in the United States. As counter to this, Iran trumped up a story about Israeli spies in Tehran and proclaimed themselves the innocent victim of Zionist aggression.
Iranian hostility to Israel is, in one sense, a political tactic, an effort to curry favor with the Arabs and establish Iranian legitimacy as leader of the Islamic world. But it is also an obsessive theme of Iranian radical fundamentalist Islamic ideology. More than once, Iranians have indicated that the weapons of mass destruction they are building are intended to be used to counter the Israelis (when they are talking to the outside world), or to "wipe out the Zionist entity" (when they are popularly preaching to their own people).
Most importantly, Iran continues moving ahead in its campaign to legitimize its own nuclear program, and eventually not simply have nuclear weapons, but have nuclear weapons the world assents to.
In a comprehensive Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) article on the November 25, 2004 agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ayelet Savyon demonstrates that the agreement was, by and large, a one-sided Iranian triumph. For agreeing to temporarily suspend its enrichment of uranium, Iran received legitimacy as a nuclear power. It also received promises of European technological and economic aid. Moreover, its negotiator Hassan Rowhani made clear that the suspension is temporary, a matter of months and not of years; and that Iran reserves for itself the right and the time when it will resume nuclear enrichment. Furthermore, there was no IAEA success in attempting to force Iran to stop building its facility at Arak, the facility that is aimed at eventually producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Iran also achieved its major goal of preventing its case from being brought before the UN Security Council. And in achieving this, succeeded in dividing the United States, which had been working for the bringing of the case to the UNSC, from its European allies. In the course of the whole proceeding, Iran succeeded in strengthening its ties with China. China had guaranteed that, even were the matter brought before the Security Council, its veto would have been used to prevent sanctions from being employed against Iran.
While Europe (France, Germany, Britain) have been celebrating the supposed suspension of Iranian enrichment, there have been reports of Iran's working on secret facilities and continuing the development of their weapons programs. The Iranians have also openly proclaimed improvements in the range and accuracy of their Shihab-3 missile. There has, moreover, been one report from an American intelligence source claiming that Iran is working to fit nuclear warheads to the Shihab-3.
Dr. Ephraim Kam, Deputy Director of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, estimates (December 2004) that it is three to four years before Iran will be a nuclear power. He suggests that the Iranians made a tactical agreement with the Europeans, and when the time is right for them, they will move toward being a nuclear power. There are, however, other intelligence sources, Dr.Yosef Bodansky for one, who claim that Iran already has the capability to reach Israel with its nuclear weapons.
As for Israel and the United States, they seem to be laying low for now. The United States, it is true, has its own account with Iran, sorely aggravated by Iranian support for terror operations in Iraq. But the United States now seems overburdened in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has indicated that if it has a next target, it will be the far weaker Syria. And this, when there have been administration voices( Douglas Feith, John Bolton) who have indicated that US action against Iran may be in the offing. As for Israel, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz has recently suggested a lowering of the tone against Iran. This, when it would seem, on the surface anyway, that in the realm of counteraction against Iranian aggression Israel's tone is already very low indeed.
Iran is continuing with its hostility and aggression, forwarding its own programs and aims and getting around major obstacles. Iran's increasing wealth, increasing connection with China and Europe, increasing influence in its own area, potential for alliance with a possible Shiite dominated Iraq - all point to major trouble ahead. Iran is moving forward and no one is truly stopping it.
U.S. wants to replace IAEA
Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 07:33 JST
VIENNA He's running unopposed, but Mohamed ElBaradei may still fail in his bid for a third term leading the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, tripped by his main opponent, the United States.
Unable to find a candidate willing to oppose the independent-minded Egyptian diplomat, Washington is now quietly lobbying other member states in ElBaradei's International Atomic Energy Agency in a bid to unseat him by June, opening the way for a replacement more to the Bush administration's liking one harder on Iran and other nations on the U.S. nasty list.
With the agency spearheading international attempts to squelch nuclear proliferation, who controls the IAEA is key for Bush administration officials. They want someone sharing their view of which country represents a nuclear threat and what to do about them.
ElBaradei has challenged those views particularly over prewar Iraq and Iran, both labeled part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea by President George Bush.
He first disputed U.S. assertions that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program claims that remain unproven. He then refused to endorse assertions by Washington that Iran was working to make nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is for generating electricity.
A direct U.S. attempt to unseat ElBaradei fizzled late last year, with the Americans unable to find anyone to challenge him for a third term by the Dec 31 deadline, shortly after the Bush administration called on him to step down after completing a second term this summer.
Since then, the nuclear power struggle has moved underground, but even before Dec 31 much of it was cloak and dagger, including reported U.S. wiretaps of ElBaradei's phone conversations in attempts to show he was demonstrating favoritism toward Iran in his investigation of its nuclear activities.
This is not the first U.S. campaign against heads of U.N. organizations deemed at odds with American foreign policy.
Jose Mauricio Bustani was voted out of office as director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in April 2002 after Washington accused him of mismanagement and rallied other countries in a vote to have him dismissed.
At the time, Bustani's supporters said Washington wanted him removed not because he performed poorly but because he supported making Iraq a member of his organization, which might have interfered with U.S. plans for war in Iraq.
U.S. officials in Vienna and Washington refuse to discuss Washington's strategy in toppling ElBaradei. But diplomats accredited to the Vienna-based IAEA say America has a new candidate in the wings, who will be presented if the United States swings enough nations on the IAEA board of governors to back its demand for a no-confidence vote in the incumbent.
ElBaradei himself appears to be taking the campaign to oust him in stride.
"Member states have asked me to continue to serve," he said. "I see that as confidence in my stewardship."
Agency officials close to the soft-spoken and austere diplomat say that privately he is of two minds about what they describe as an occasionally nasty U.S. campaign.
"His reaction was: 'This is old news. Why do we have to dignify this with a response?'" said one, when asked about ElBaradei reaction to revelations of his phone calls being bugged. "On the other hand, from a personal standpoint it bothers him" that his conversations with family members are being monitored.
To oust ElBaradei, Washington must find backing from 12 other member nations of the 35-nation IAEA board of governors. It already can count on traditional allies Canada and Australia and several others, and diplomats say it hopes to sway enough others from Europe to get the required number.
Iran, Germany to boost nuclear cooperationJan 8, 2005, 16:49
The Chairman of Germany's Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV), Werner Schoeltzke, here Friday called for expansion of civilian nuclear cooperation between Germany and Iran following the recent EU3-Iran nuclear accord.
In an editorial in NUMOV's economic magazine Wirtschafts Forum Nah-und Mittelost, Schoeltzke pointed out that the EU-Iran agreement provided "numerous chances for an expanded cooperation in the political area, in civilian nuclear technology and not least the economy."
The German business leader voiced "optimism" that talks between Europe and Iran on cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear cooperation would soon yield concrete results.
"Both sides - Iran and West Europe - are very much interested in making it a success and even depend on it," said Schoeltzke, referring to the ongoing EU3-Iran negiotiations for a long-term agreement on political, economic and security cooperation.
Iranian nurses warn the regimeSMCCDI (Public Statement)
Jan 9, 2005
Iranian nurses protested, today, by gathering in front of the Islamic Parliament and the local offices of the Ministry of Health in several Iranian cities, such as, Tehran, Hamadan, Esfahan, Kermanshah, Oroomieh (former Rezai-e) and Mashad.
These gatherings took place in order to protest against the nurses critical conditions and the Governmental plan of privatization of public hospitals.
Official requests were submitted to authorities by warning the regime of partial strikes if nurses conditions are not fulfilled.
Many doctors, health technicians and individuals were seen joining the Iranian nurses in support of their protest actions which took place under heavy security watch.
Prosecutor blames Turkey, Iraq for illegal flow of handguns into IranTEHRAN (IRNA) -- Prosecutor General Qorbanali Dorri Najafabadi said on Sunday that handguns are being smuggled into Iran from Turkey and Iraq and called on the Foreign Ministry to lodge a complaint with the western neighbors for causing security problem for the country.
Addressing a conference of governors general and the heads of the justice departments of the western and southwestern provinces, Dorri Najafabadi called for adopting strong measures to fight smuggling of handguns into the country.
He called for what he termed 'adopting diplomatic measures to stop the smuggling of handgun into the country'.
Dorri Najafabadi said that smuggling of light arms into the country has turned into a dilemma and that calls for strong campaign to deal with this problem.
"The Foreign Ministry should lodge a complaint with Turkey and Iraq against producing handguns and smuggling them into Iran," he said.
Dorri said that smuggling handgun into the country is an organized crime being orchestrated by colonialist states.
He said that entry of personal weapons through the western borders causes unrest and crimes in the country.
US opposes Pak-Iran pipeline
Sunday, January 09, 2005 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Jan 9 (IranMania) - A former Pakistani Minister has said the US opposes the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, reports New Kerala.
Former Oil and Gas Minister Usman Aminuddin said that Washington has asked Pakistani officials not to approve the gas pipeline project with Iran.
He said the US was pressuring Pakistan to import gas from Qatar instead of Iran. However, the gas pipeline from Qatar was too costly for Pakistan, he said. In late December, Islamabad reiterated that it would be able to ensure safe supply of natural gas to New Delhi from Iran, stressing, however, that it would go ahead with the project with or without India.
According to ISNA, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri told visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi last Tuesday that if India refuses to join, the multibillion-dollar project would be implemented between Iran and Pakistan. Pakistani press said Islamabad has been keen on the proposed $4 billion pipeline for years but India has been lukewarm given their troubled relations and concerns about security in Pakistan.
India began showing interest as its relationship with Pakistan warmed in recent months.
Kharrazi said in a meeting with his Pakistani opposite number that the project could help strengthen regional cooperation to a great extent.
He said Iran believes that time has come for the start of talks on technical and executive issues.
For his part, Kasuri called for early implementation of the project.
"Pakistan needs the gas pipeline with Iran anyway due to its very high growth rate and in view of an even higher growth expected in future," an official statement quoted Pakistani foreign minister as saying.
"Pakistan would welcome India joining the project while assuring it of security of supplies through Pakistani territory."
Iraqi Defense Ministry spy arrested in IranTEHRAN, Jan. 8 (MNA) -- Sources said on Saturday that an Iraqi Defense Ministry spy has been arrested in the western Iranian province of Kordestan.
The key spy, who was sent to Iran on the orders of Iraqi interim Defense Minister Hazem al-Shaalan, had tried to gather sensitive information about the border areas and to carry out actions threatening the security of Iran, according to the sources.
During his presence in Iran, the Iraqi Defense Ministry spy made strenuous efforts to forge documents meant to prove al-Shaalans charges against Iran.
Before the arrest of the spy, Iraqi political and intelligence officials stepped up their propaganda campaign accusing Iran of interfering in Iraq so that they could control the spin on the story after the revelation of the arrest of this top spy in Iran, a source said.
The sources predicted that more information would be gleaned about the activities of agents who have a relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies in Iraq after the interrogation of the spy.
Iraqi interim Interior Minister Fallah al-Naqib, intelligence agency chief Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, and al-Shaalan are key defense and security figures who have ties with U.S. and British intelligence agencies and who are conducting anti-Iranian activities.
Earlier, some documents were discovered revealing details about organized operations to smuggle arms to Iran under the supervision of al-Shaalan.
IAEA finds Egypt secret nuclear programVIENNA, Austria (AP) -- The U.N. atomic watchdog agency has found evidence of secret nuclear experiments in Egypt that could be used in weapons programs, diplomats said Tuesday.
The diplomats told The Associated Press that most of the work was carried out in the 1980s and 1990s but said the International Atomic Energy Agency also was looking at evidence suggesting some work was performed as recently as a year ago.
Egypt's government rejected claims it is or has been pursuing a weapons program, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
"A few months ago we denied these kinds of claims and we do so again," Egyptian government spokesman Magdy Rady said. "Nothing about our nuclear program is secret and there is nothing that is not known to the IAEA."
But one of the diplomats said the Egyptians "tried to produce various components of uranium" without declaring it to the IAEA, as they were bound to under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The products included several pounds of uranium metal and uranium tetrafluoride - a precursor to uranium hexafluoride gas, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
Uranium metal can be processed into plutonium, while uranium hexafluoride can be enriched into weapons-grade uranium - both for use in the core of nuclear warheads.
The diplomat said the Vienna-based IAEA had not yet drawn a conclusion about the scope and purpose of the experiments. But the work appeared to have been sporadic, involved small amounts of material and lacked a particular focus, the diplomat said.
That, he said, indicated that the work was not directly geared toward creating a full-scale program to make nuclear weapons.
The diplomat said that Egypt's program was not "cohesive."
"It's not like Iran, where there was a clear plan to produce" uranium hexafluoride, the gas that turns into enriched uranium when spun in centrifuges, he said.
He also warned against comparisons to South Korea, which conducted larger-scale plutonium and uranium experiments in 1982 and 2000 without reporting them to the agency.
Iran, which the United States accuses of having nuclear weapons ambitions, developed a full-fledged uranium enrichment program over nearly two decades of clandestine activity revealed only in mid 2002. Iran says it plans to enrich only to levels used to generate nuclear fuel and not to weapons-grade uranium.
In Vienna, IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said the agency would not comment on the revelations about Egypt.
Cairo has denied in the past it is trying to develop a nuclear weapons program.
The country appeared to turn away from the pursuit of such a program decades ago. The Soviet Union and China reportedly rebuffed its requests for nuclear arms in the 1960s, and by the 1970s, Egypt gave up the idea of building a plutonium production reactor and reprocessing plant.
"We've seen the reports and I don't think we have anything to offer at this point except what we've said all along, which is, we expect all nations to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "We're sure they will look into this matter and I would just point out that Egypt is a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty."
Egypt runs small-scale nuclear programs for medical and research purposes, and Rady said the IAEA is monitoring that program.
"Nothing about our nuclear program is secret and there is nothing that is not known to the IAEA," he said. "We don't have a secret program for energy. All our program is known."
Plans were floated as recently as 2002 to build the country's first nuclear power reactor. But no construction date has been announced, and the pro-government Al-Ahram Weekly reported late last year that the plant site near the coastal town of Al-Dabaa might be sold to make way for tourism development.
Although Egypt signed the nonproliferation treaty, it has become in recent years one of its most vocal critics, mainly because of concerns about Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal and more recent fears about Iran's nuclear agenda.
Tuesday's revelations come two months after diplomats told the AP that the IAEA had discovered plutonium particles near an Egyptian nuclear facility.
Back then, Egypt's foreign and energy ministers rejected the reports - but the diplomat again verified them Tuesday, adding that agency has not been able to determine if those traces were evidence of a secret weapons program or simply the byproduct of peaceful research.
The revelations reflect more efficient IAEA policing of countries' nuclear program for evidence of clandestine, weapons-linked activities, including environmental sampling and other high-tech methods.
Diplomats told the AP in October that Taiwan was among countries snared by such technology, with the agency suspecting it of conducting experiments with plutonium up to the mid-1980s - something Taiwan denied.
Hunger strike continues over latest deportation to IranJanuary 9, 2005
Yesterday's steady snow and temperatures hovering around the freezing point didn't shake the resolve of the supporters of Ali Reza Monemi.
It was Day 2 of a hunger strike aimed at drawing attention to Friday's order by Immigration Canada to deport the 27-year-old North Vancouverite back to his native Iran.
Monemi's brother Mohammad, the lone hunger striker among about 15 supporters camped out in front of the CIC offices at 300 West Georgia yesterday, said the weather was nothing compared to what Ali was facing.
"It's pretty cold out here but compared to Ali being in jail and being sent back to Iran, it's not even comparable," said Mohammad, 22.
Ali Monemi, who has lived in Canada for five years, received a deportation order for Tuesday but will have a review hearing tomorrow.
Iran Pres Urges Probe Of Journalists' Torture Allegations[Excerpt]
January 09, 2005
Dow Jones Newswires
TEHRAN -- President Mohammad Khatami Sunday called for a probe of allegations by Iranian journalists who said they were tortured into confessing to charges such as insulting sacred beliefs and endangering national security after publishing articles critical of conservatives in the government.
Some 20 print, Internet and other journalists have been detained in Iran since a crackdown on the pro-reform press that was launched in September, including several who testified that they were tortured before a presidential commission last month.
Khatami said Sunday that he would meet with the head of the judiciary about the allegations.
"It's deplorable even if 10% of what the web bloggers allege is true," Khatami said, referring to the writers who kept online journals, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. "It's against the dignity of the Islamic Republic of Iran . It has to be probed."
Several detainees, some of whom were barred from meeting their attorneys, confessed to charges such as spreading propaganda against the regime, endangering national security, inciting public unrest, and insulting sacred beliefs.
"Confessions were extracted from us under physical and psychological pressures in prison. Apparently we were released but threats against us and even our families have been continued," said Hanif Mazroui, one of the detained bloggers.
The Iranian hard-line judiciary summoned Sunday at least two journalists, Omid Memarian and Rouzbeh Mirebrahi, a day after it threatened legal action against those who claimed that detained journalists were abused to extract confessions.
"Both of them told the court today that what they wrote and said in prison was under duress," Mazroui said.
It was uncertain what type of legal proceeding took place.
"I would probe the case up to the end while I hope nobody could misuse his position and authority," Khatami said when he was asked about possible reaction of the judiciary to his remarks.
A judiciary statement published Sunday in the official Iran daily said four unidentified journalists wrote letters of repentance and admitted to their mistakes after being confronted with proof of their criminal actions.
Human Rights Watch said Friday that it was "extremely concerned" about the safety of local journalists who have received death threats from judicial officials since their testimony alleging torture to the presidential commission.
The torture allegations first publicly emerged last month on the personal Web site of Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a journalist who also testified to the commission.
A press crackdown in 2000 led to the closure of more than 100 newspapers, as well as the arrests and prosecution of several journalists.
4 Jailed Iranians Awaiting Release[Excerpt]
A judge has given the U.S. until Feb. 20 to free the Mirmehdi brothers, held since 2001 in an immigration case.
Confined to the Terminal Island immigration jail for more than three years, the Mirmehdi brothers cannot help wondering whether they are somehow beyond the law.
The federal government considers the four Iranians, outspoken opponents of Iran's Islamic regime, security threats with links to terrorism and wants them deported.
While there's been no shortage of due process in this strange and convoluted case, the two sides remain miles apart on whether justice has been served.
The Mirmehdi brothers came to the United States and obtained government work permits years ago. Later, they ran afoul of immigration authorities, were arrested and faced deportation for lying on political asylum applications about when and how they had entered the country.
Despite their legal problems, they were released on bail in 1999 and went on with their lives, earning a handsome living selling real estate in the San Fernando Valley as they fought the government's slow-moving efforts to deport them.
While their deportation case was under appeal, the federal government arrested them in October 2001 as part of a nationwide crackdown on Middle Easterners known to be in the country illegally following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At the time, the government said it had new evidence alleging the four had terrorist ties.
Legal experts said they did not know of another case where an illegal immigrant arrested in the wake of the 9/11 attacks had spent more time behind bars before being deported.
Mohsen, Mojtaba, Mohammed and Mostafa Mirmehdi have been incarcerated and ordered deported by the Department of Homeland Security under two sections of the Patriot Act on grounds that they were linked to a terrorist organization. The law does not require the government to prove that they had engaged in terrorism, only that such an association exists.
The government continues to hold the four and faces a Feb. 20 deadline for releasing them even though the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have recently found that government attorneys had failed to prove any link to terrorists.
Whether the Department of Homeland Security will comply with the upcoming deadline and release them on bail or try to offer new evidence in another attempt to tie them to terrorists is unknown, the brothers and their attorney say.
The government's hard line is all the more remarkable because the terrorist group to which the brothers are allegedly tied, the Moujahedeen Khalq, or MEK, is dedicated to the overthrow of Iran's ruling clerics. As such, the MEK enjoys widespread support from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, despite its inclusion on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.
"Our point is that we aren't going to allow illegal aliens with ties to terrorist organizations a first shot to take terrorist acts," said William Odencrantz, the top lawyer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, in Laguna Niguel.
The department's mission is to protect the United States, he said, and "we don't have to let them commit the act before they are subject to detention."
Georgetown University law professor David Cole, an expert on immigration law and on the Patriot Act, said the government's reason for keeping the Mirmehdis locked up "would be a well-founded fear if there's any basis for believing they in fact pose a threat to national security. But in a case where the courts have found exactly the opposite, there doesn't seem to be any foundation for that fear."
Marc Van Der Hout, the Mirmehdis' attorney, said the Bush administration simply tries to "ignore the courts" when they rule in ways it doesn't like. "The Supreme Court said you can't hold someone indefinitely just because he's deportable," Van Der Hout said.
That ruling came less than three months before the Sept. 11 attacks. In a case called Zadvydas vs. Davis, the high court said the government has six months to remove an immigrant once he is ordered deported. If deportation is unlikely, the immigrant has to be released unless the government produces new evidence, such as ties to terrorism, to continue keeping him in custody.
In the Mirmehdis' case, the six-month clock began ticking in August, when the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that the government had failed to prove the brothers had engaged in terrorist activity. The appeals board also upheld decisions by two immigration judges who ruled that, while they did not qualify for political asylum because of lies they told on their applications, the government cannot deport them to Iran because they would be persecuted or tortured.
The government's only alternative to bail would be finding another country to take the brothers, but that seems unlikely, immigration experts said, because of the allegations they are linked to terrorists.
To the Mirmehdis, bail seems reasonable, given their ties to the community, their undiminished desire for political asylum and their fervent opposition to the Iranian regime, which is part of what President Bush has called an "axis of evil."
"If we had been convicted of something, we would know our sentences. But for three years we've gone month to month, not knowing when we are getting out," said Mostafa Mirmehdi, 45, during a recent interview at the Terminal Island jail.
Despite the government's unwavering stance, the brothers say they hope to return to their real estate jobs. Mostafa Mirmehdi said he continues to make mortgage payments on his empty house in Van Nuys.
"I have a line of credit to pay my mortgage and credit cards, which I haven't used in three years," he said. "I don't want to ruin my credit, because I believe we will be released one day."
Although raised as Muslims, the Mirmehdis have found Christianity during their lengthy stay in jail. All of them say they read Christian literature, and Mohsen, 37, said he attended Catholic services regularly.
"I still believe in God, and that truth will set us free one day," he said.
"Every day is like a roller coaster," added Mojtaba, 41. "Some days you have hope of being released, other days you don't."
According to court documents, he was arrested by the Iranian regime in 1981 and served three years in prison, where he was tortured. Later, he served in the Iranian army for 2 1/2 years.
The brothers deny any association with the MEK. They and their lawyers said the FBI approached them "four or five" times after their arrests, offering them freedom if they agreed to work as informants.
"It was clear to us that they wanted us to give false testimony against others," said Mostafa." The DHS wants us to give up. That's their intention," said Mohammed, 34. "They want us to surrender. But we believe we're right. That's why we continue fighting."
After a mandatory 90-day review of their case in November, the Department of Homeland Security said the four would not be released because they were a threat to national security and a flight risk.
In December, the department modified its position, describing them instead as "a danger to the community" and a flight risk.
Van Der Hout, the Mirmehdis' attorney, said it was "outrageous for the government to continue saying they are a national security risk when the Board of Immigration Appeals said the opposite."
Odencrantz countered that their alleged ties to the MEK made them a national security threat. "The brothers want to be released. We don't want to release them," he said. "We have until Feb. 20 to fish or cut bait."
When they were arrested in 1999, the Mirmehdis admitted lying in applications for political asylum but said it was because they inadvertently missed the application deadline.
According to court documents, two Iranian immigrants who helped the brothers prepare their applications and coached them to lie in their interviews with immigration officers were FBI informants with criminal records. When the Mirmehdis were re-arrested in 2001, the informants told the FBI that they were MEK members who supported the group's anti-Iranian terrorist agenda.
The primary evidence used to tie the four to the MEK was a list of names seized in a raid of a suspected MEK safe house in Los Angeles in February 2001. The government said the list, which included the Mirmehdis, was a roster of MEK cell members. The brothers said it was a list of individuals planning to attend a rally in protest of the Iranian government.
Two of the brothers admitted attending an MEK rally in Denver in 1997, before the group was put on the State Department's terrorist list.
An immigration judge subsequently ruled that attendance at the rally was protected by the 1st Amendment and that their names on the safe house list did not establish that they were linked to the MEK.
In the interview at the Terminal Island lockup, the Mirmehdis said the government falsely accused them of being MEK members to keep them locked up.
Their years in custody have taken an emotional, physical and financial toll on them. They have spent more than $150,000 on lawyers and depleted their savings. They are either losing their hair or it is turning gray, and three of them are on antidepressants. The fourth brother quit taking the medication because of its side effects. ...
"We went to a pro-democracy rally against one of the axis of evil," Mohsen said, speaking for his brothers. "How can that be a terrorist act?"