Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - January 21, 2005 - Cheney puts Iran at top of trouble list
Posted on 01/21/2005 12:05:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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Thursday, January 20, 2005 · Last updated 8:50 p.m. PT
Cheney puts Iran at top of trouble list
Vice President Dick Cheney addresses the crowd at the Texas/Wyoming Ball at the Washington Convention Center Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview hours before he and President Bush were sworn in for a second term, said Iran now tops the list of the world's potential trouble spots.
Iran is pursuing "a fairly robust new nuclear program" and "is a noted sponsor of terror," he said in an interview Thursday with syndicated radio host Don Imus.
"You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list," the vice president said.
Another concern, Cheney said, is the possibility of Israel making an initial military move if it became convinced Iran had significant nuclear capability.
"Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards," said Cheney, who appeared on the show with his wife, Lynne.
The Bush administration might seek U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program if necessary, Cheney said. The administration prefers to address the problem with diplomacy and doesn't want more war in the Middle East, he said.
On Monday, Bush reaffirmed his support for a diplomatic settlement of Iran's nuclear program but said, "I will never take any option off the table."
During her Senate confirmation hearings this week, Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice named Iran as one of six "outposts of tyranny" that would require close U.S. attention.
Iran repeatedly has denied allegations of a secret nuclear weapons programs, saying its nuclear activities are for peaceful energy purposes.
In the Inauguration Day interview, Cheney also said he overestimated the pace of Iraq's recovery from the U.S.-led invasion.
Asked to name his mistakes in planning the war in Iraq, Cheney said he had not anticipated how long it would take the Iraqis to begin running their own country. Not until after Saddam was ousted did the United States realize the extent of the Iraqi leader's brutality in putting down revolt in 1991, Cheney said.
"I think the hundreds of thousands of people, literally, that were slaughtered during that period of time, including anybody who had the gumption to stand up and challenge him, made the situation tougher than I would have thought," he said. "I would chalk that up as a miscalculation, where I thought things would have recovered more quickly."
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 20, 2005
President Bush's Inaugural SpeechInauguration 2005
Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:
On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.
At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.
We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.
The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.
My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.
We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.
We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.
The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.
And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:
From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it.
By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.
A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.
All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.
America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.
In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.
In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.
From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?
These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.
We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.
When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.
# # #
Iran under spotlight in president's mission for freedomBy Alec Russell in Washington
Now comes the hard part. President George W Bush's elegy to freedom yesterday and his vision of it flowering around the world fitted into the long tradition of inaugural speeches that blend America's optimism with smugness about the reach and benefits of its power.
But unlike most of his predecessors Mr Bush has repeatedly made clear that he sees "spreading freedom" as more than a slogan. For him it is a mission. The challenge for his aides now is how - and where - to act on his words.
The President gives his inaugural address
Mr Bush did make a rare admission that even America had its bounds, conceding in an apparent reference to difficulties in Iraq that its influence was "not unlimited".
But officials know full well that Mr Bush will, if he thinks necessary, sweep Iraq's problems under the Oval Office carpet and seek to bring an end to North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programmes.
"I would put the chance of targeted strikes against Iran by the middle of Mr Bush's term at 50-50," said one conservative congressional source close to the White House.
"To watch as they [Iran and North Korea] build nuclear weapons is out of the question," said another source close to Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state-in-waiting. "If he [Bush] leaves office with those two countries still with nuclear options, he will think he has failed."
Yet even this ebullient White House accepts limits to its idealism. It does not share the views of those neo-conservatives who argue that freedom is non-negotiable and that even "friendly" autocrats should make way for democracy.
When Miss Rice named six "outposts of tyranny" earlier this week, she made no mention of Pakistan, Egypt or Saudi Arabia. The three are markedly undemocratic states but their support also happens to be strategically vital for Washington.
Instead Miss Rice pointed her finger at Belarus, Cuba, Burma, and Zimbabwe, along with the two surviving regimes from Mr Bush's "axis of evil", Iran and North Korea.
For officials in the State Department who felt that much of the globe in the past four years had been ignored amid the obsession with Saddam Hussein, the extra faces in Washington's "rogues' gallery" were a sign of a new focus on other trouble-spots. Yet there is only one "outpost" that is really exercising minds: Iran.
Entanglements with Iran bedevilled and almost destroyed the presidencies of two of Bush's predecessors, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
Iran's President Mohammad Khatami confidently suggested yesterday that given the embroilment of 150,000 troops in Iraq the chances of an attack on Iran were slim. "I do not think the Americans would do such a crazy thing as carry out military attacks against Iran," he said.
"The Iraqi problem is too complicated and so it does not seem they would think about attacking another country." And, despite Mr Bush's soaring rhetoric, notes of realism about Iraq, the first target of Mr Bush's freedom campaign, are ringing in the White House.
Miss Rice conceded in her nomination hearings that some "bad decisions" had been made. Advisers are beginning to think the unthinkable: that the troops may have to pull out leaving Iraq somewhat short of the goal of a vigorous and secure democracy.
"I am not normally a pessimist but the lessons don't bode well for Allawi's [Iraq's prime minister] security dilemmas," said Stephen Metz, a professor for national security affairs at the Army War College and a frequent visitor to Iraq since the invasion. "We've configured our army to be a sprinter... but we're drawn into marathons."
So talk of turning the tanks from Baghdad towards Teheran which prevailed 18 months ago after the fall of Saddam is over.
But the administration is convinced it is up to Washington to take the lead. Officials believe that European "engagement" is not only doomed to fail but positively emboldens Teheran.
Suggestions that Israel could do the dirty work and do to Iran what it did to Iraq in 1981, when it launched a successful strike against Saddam's nuclear reactor at Osirak, are discounted, not least because of the far greater distance.
In her nomination hearings Miss Rice was careful to avoid talk of "regime change" in Teheran. She held out hope that Iran could yet be persuaded to follow the lead of Libya, which voluntarily dismantled its programme of weapons of mass destruction.
Groups in Washington are also pushing for the fomenting of an internal revolution. But all this is more hope than expectation. "There are two clocks ticking in Teheran, the clock of regime change and the clock of the nuclear programme," said Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst who in the late 1990s was in charge of US policy towards Iran. "And the clock of regime change is ticking more slowly than the nuclear clock."
He believes that Iran's faltering economy is its "Achilles heel" and the threat of sanctions could lead to a climbdown.
But the Republican-dominated Congress is arguing for regime change to be an explicit goal of America's foreign policy. For the moment, the US does not have an Iranian policy. But barring an utter disaster in Iraq, if Teheran spurns attempts to curb its nuclear ambitions, the administration will not turn its back.
"The idea that we will sit idly by is not right," said Danielle Pletka, a prominent neo-conservative at the American Enterprise Institute. "And Europeans are very mistaken to think that George Bush is an empty vessel. He is the hawk in the administration."
War with Iran Not Ruled Out by BushUS President George Bush refuses to rule out war with Iran. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says his country is ready to defend itself against a possible US attack.
The United States is pushing for a peaceful solution to its nuclear impasse with Iran but, with mistrust on both sides running high, encouraging signs are hard to find.
You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list, Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday, hours before being sworn in to a second term.
Perhaps the most pessimistic comment of all this week came from Democratic Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware.
There may be nothing we can do to persuade Iran not to develop weapons of mass destruction, Biden said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice.
Both Rice and Cheney made clear that that the nuclear diplomacy that the United States has been pursuing in the UN nuclear watchdog agency will continue.
They said the administration could raise the stakes with Iran by referring the nuclear question to the UN Security Council if Iran does not abide by its non-proliferation commitments.
The administration has been hopeful that a non-proliferation initiative being carried out by Germany, France and Britain with Iran will produce results.
But the administration is sceptical that Iran is bargaining in good faith. For its part, Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at producing energy, not weapons.
Rice made clear that US differences with Iran go well beyond its nuclear program.
Its really hard to find common ground with a government that thinks Israel should be extinguished, she told senators.
Khatami, travelling in Africa yesterday, seemed unconcerned about the consequences of a possible US attack.
We have prepared ourselves, he said. He added that he did not anticipate any lunatic military move by the US because Washington has too many problems in Iraq.
Europe united on Iran as Bush refuses to rule out military actionAFP: 1/20/2005
PARIS, Jan 20 (AFP) - If the Iraq war divided Europe, the continent is united in calling for continued negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program after US President George W. Bush refused to rule out possible military action.
"In the view of the German government, there is no alternative to these discussions," chief government spokesman Bela Anda told reporters in Berlin, a view echoed by officials in Paris.
"These talks are being held with our German and British partners, in perfect consultation with the United States and our other European partners," said a spokeswoman for the French foreign ministry.
The European Union's "big three" -- Britain, France and Germany -- are in the midst of crucial talks with Iran aimed at finding a long-term solution that would assuage international fears about Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
Their efforts have led to the temporary suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment program.
Iran vehemently denies it is developing nuclear weapons, insisting that its activities are merely directed at generating electricity, but Washington claims that the program is instead a cover for the development of the atomic bomb.
US President George W. Bush said Monday that he could not rule out a resort to military force if the United States failed to persuade Iran to abandon its efforts.
"The fact that the Americans are not excluding the use of military force is not new in principle, but doesn't necessarily indicate that there are concrete attack plans," said Karsten Voigt, Germany's point man for German-US relations.
Analysts and diplomats even suggested that Europe and the United States could be working together to keep up pressure on the Islamic republic.
"The United States has a hard line but I think its ultimate line is to have the European efforts succeed. It is a good cop-bad cop approach," said an Asian diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"I would say that dangling a stick can be an effective diplomatic tool when used in conjunction with a few carrots," said another diplomat close to the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, referring to the different EU and US tactics, told the Financial Times: "Those who said we'd be split apart by the Iranians are wrong."
"Those who said we could not build up a degree of trust with the Iranians -- at the same time as building up a strong consensus with the US and the non-aligned countries -- are wrong," Straw added.
This week, US secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice called for world action to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons, and repeated a threat to haul Tehran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
She labelled Iran as one of six "outposts of tyranny" around the world, giving Tehran a second infamous distinction. Bush named the Islamic republic as part of an "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.
And a report published in the New Yorker magazine said US commandos had been operating inside Iran since mid-2004 to search out potential targets for attack.
Straw dismissed the report written by award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, saying: "You will always find somebody in Washington thinking about something. That's how things are there."
In Brussels, the European Commission said it would pursue diplomatic negotiations as long as possible.
"The goal is a militarily non-nuclear Iran. We are as Europeans working through a process of engagement to attain that goal... We hope that there will be no need to consider any other option," said spokeswoman Emma Udwin.
"The EU and the US have the same objective in Iran, but have looked at different ways of attaining the goal," she added.
Officials in Russia and Turkey also backed the EU approach.
Caroline Pailhe, an analyst at the Information and Research Group on Peace and Security (GRIP) in Brussels, said she could envision eventual US military action, in the form of "a few bombing missions that would last a few hours and eliminate certain sensitive sites".
But Iranian President Mohammed Khatami on Thursday warned the United States against such a course of action, saying in Uganda: "If any country tries to invade our country, we are strong enough to defend ourselves."
01/20/2005 16:28 GMT - AFP
Britain unlikely to back US Iran attackHerve Guilbaud
Posted Fri, 21 Jan 2005
For all the stern words from Washington about possible military action against Iran if it fails to rein in its nuclear ambitions, the United States would almost certainly have to mount such a campaign without the backing of Britain, its staunchest ally in Iraq, according to experts.
On Monday, US President George W. Bush said he could not rule out using force if Washington was unable to persuade Tehran to abandon a nuclear energy programme it charges is cover for developing atomic weapons, while secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice called for world action on the issue.
A report in the New Yorker magazine this week said US commandos had been operating inside Iran since mid-2004 to search out potential targets for attack.
Overall, the Bush administration "recognises that a military attack against Iran's military facilities is not a very attractive option", said Gary Samore, a specialist on Iran at the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank in London.
"There are many drawbacks, both practical and political," Samore told AFP, while adding that the Pentagon was undoubtedly "examining the options for a pre-emptive military strike" against Iran's nuclear and missile facilities.
A game of diplomatic bluff was underway, with Washington hopeful that the threat of military action might pressure Britain and other European Union nations to negotiate forcefully with a worried Tehran so as to head off war, he explained.
"In a way, the American threat to bomb Iran is also indirect pressure on Europe to do its very best, to achieve a diplomatic solution," he said, while adding that Bush would find it extremely difficult to find backing in Europe for military action.
"Even if British officials recognise that the threat of a military attack may help their diplomatic efforts with Iran, I have not been able to find a British official, much less French or German, who think that a military attack actually makes sense," he said.
"My guess is that the British government would at best be silent, at worst be opposed," Samore said.
Much would depend "on who the British hold responsible for the failure of diplomacy. If the British feel that the US has been unreasonable and unsupportive of British diplomatic efforts, then obviously London will be less inclined to support the US," he added.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose popularity has been badly dented by his decision to back the US-led conflict in Iraq, would be extremely wary of getting his nation involved in another conflict, added Katarina Dalacoura from the International Relations department at the London School of Economics.
It "would not make sense for them (the British government) to do that, especially given all the flak they have received over Iraq," she told AFP.
"The EU does have a policy on Iran, it has taken specific steps to contain the nuclear issue and reach an agreement," she explained.
"I think it would be very damaging to relations between Britain and its European partners if they were to go along with the Americans on this. I think Blair would draw a line on Bush, even though he may of course not do it as openly."
Blair's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has already expressed Britain's wariness at the possibility of war with Iran, saying in November that it was "inconceivable".
"I don't see any circumstances in which military action would be justified against Iran full stop," he told BBC radio.
Berlin says US pressure on Iran may fuel deal
20 January 2005
BERLIN - A German official said that United States military pressure on Iran could help European diplomatic efforts to clinch a deal with Teheran over its nuclear programme.
"If the Iranians know that if this peaceful resolution does not work that the Americans will raise pressure with non-peaceful means, it could perhaps boost their readiness to make compromises and give up the nuclear weapons they are possibly planning," said Karsten Voigt, the German government coordinator for ties with Washington.
Voigt told Deutsche Welle TV on Wednesday he still believed diplomatic efforts were the best way to defuse the ongoing crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.
Earlier, a spokesman for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder underlined that the US had a "basic right" to hold open "all options" with regard to Iran.
Chief chancellery spokesman Bela Anda told reporters the US refusal to rule out military action over Iran's nuclear programme - underlined by US President George W. Bush on Monday - was "nothing new."
Germany strongly opposed the Iraq war, and Bush's comments on Iran fuelled considerable public debate in the country.
Berlin is part of the European Union (EU) "Big Three" with Britain and France which is seeking to hammer out a diplomatic deal with Teheran.
Under the deal, Iran would guarantee to refrain from building nuclear weapons and halt uranium enrichment in exchange for trade and technology concessions from Europe.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is scheduled to meet next week with designated US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The meeting would probably take place on Tuesday with a final announcement due in coming days.
Schroeder is due to have talks with President Bush who is set to visit Germany on 23 February as part of a European tour.
No common ground with Iran regime, says RiceBy Guy Dinmore in Washington
Published: January 20 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 20 2005 02:00
The Bush administration's changing of the guard at the State Department was almost complete yesterday as Colin Powell bid an emotional farewell to his staff just as senators were wrapping up their grilling of Condoleezza Rice, the next secretary of state.
Speaking of the foreign policy challenges ahead, Mr Powell said the focus was on persuading North Korea and Iran to take a "better way" and give up their nuclear weapons programme.
Over at the Senate, Ms Rice was testifying that the Bush administration saw no common ground with the Islamic regime in Iran. She signalled the US had no intention of offering a specific deal based on an end to Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
In a last round of questioning before the Senate foreign relations committee voted 16-2 in favour of her nomination by George W. Bush as secretary of state, Ms Rice took a hard line on Iran. But she steered away from speaking about regime change.
"The United States government has often, as the president said, supported regimes in the hope that they would bring stability," she said. "And we've been in the Middle East, sometimes blind to the freedom deficit in the hope that they would bring stability. We're not going to do that any more."
Joseph Biden, the senior Democrat on the committee, said he voted for her with reluctance and hesitation, saying she had failed to level with the American people. Only Barbara Boxer, Californian senator, and John Kerry, the defeated presidential candidate, voted against.
Ms Rice acknowledged that some bad decisions had been made over Iraq, but said history would judge the overall outcome. Under fire from Ms Boxer for a second day, Ms Rice effectively acknowledged that the US had made a mistake cutting deals with Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s when he had launched gas attacks on the Kurds while Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, was the special envoy to Baghdad.
Ms Rice effectively ruled out the US taking the European approach of engaging Iran.
Mr Biden pressed Ms Rice to say whether the US could reach an agreement with Iran's clerical regime if it gave up nuclear weapons. "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals," she answered, and said the US had to look at the "totality of the issue", referring to the issues of terrorism and human rights.
"Senator, what we have said to the Iranians is look at the Libyan example," she said, arguing that Libya had decided to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction "without a promise of specific deals".
Senior officials from the UK, France and Germany are to visit Washington early next week to press the Bush administration to take a positive approach to the nuclear negotiations with Iran initiated by the European Union. Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister, is due to meet Ms Rice in Washington on Tuesday.
The full Senate is expected to vote for Ms Rice's confirmation today.
Iran dismisses US comments as psychological warfare20 Jan 2005 12:00:48 GMTSource: Reuters
TEHRAN, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Iran on Thursday dismissed recent comments by U.S. officials about the Islamic state as psychological warfare and said Tehran would not be cowed by such remarks.
Speaking to state media in Uganda during a week-long tour of Africa with President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Washington was waging "a psychological campaign against Iran".
"We know our enemy and we are aware of its tactics," he said. "We will strongly respond to America's threats. We will naturally defend our rights and interests," he added.
U.S. Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, in testimony at her Senate confirmation hearings on Wednesday, said Iran must be "held accountable for its unwillingness to live up to its international obligations".
She was referring to Iran's nuclear programme which Tehran says is merely aimed at generating electricity but Washington believes is geared to producing atomic bombs.
Rice's comments followed remarks by U.S. President George W. Bush this week who refused to rule out military action against Iran if the country was not more transparent about its nuclear programme.
Bush has accused Iran of supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction -- charges Iran vehemently denies.
In recent days, Iranian officials have frequently boasted that they can strike back against any attacker.
Last October, Iran said it would keep improving its missile capability after announcing that the latest version of its medium-range Shahab-3 could now hit targets up to 2,000 km (1,250 miles) away.
For Bush, 'Liberty' Is A Flexible ObjectiveUS President George Bush began his second term with the pledge that US relations with other countries will depend on how they treat their own people.
If he adheres to the words in yesterdays inaugural address, it could mark a shift in his administrations policies.
Bush has been a champion of liberty in countries hostile to the US, such as Iran, North Korea and Cuba. But he has been less vocal about authoritarian tendencies when US strategic interests are at stake.
With Pakistan a key ally in the fight against terrorism, the Bush administration has been reluctant to criticise President General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has consolidated power and cracked down on independent media and political opponents.
But US officials have been careful not to alienate the leader of a powerful nation that has been an ally against terrorism and could be influential in keeping Irans nuclear program in check.
The Bush administration has been improving relations with Libya since dictator Moammar Gadhafi agreed to give up his nuclear program. The State Department says Libyas human rights record is poor and blames it for numerous, serious abuses.
At Rices confirmation hearing on Tuesday, several senators complained about what they see as a double standard. Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee said the US appears to have a hypocritical approach to our foreign policy in some ways.
Though Bush often talks about the struggle for freedom and democracy, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, his words yesterday were unusually strong.
The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands, he said.
Bush said all who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you.
Human Rights Watch praised Bushs laudable goals, but said his administration has flouted international standards against torture by abusing detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
It is one thing to say you are on the side of freedom, its quite another to be a leader in promoting the rights that protect that freedom, said Kenneth Roth, the groups executive director.
'Iran ready for security cooperation with Europe'
Thursday, January 20, 2005 - ©2005 IranMania.com
LONDON, Jan 20 (IranMania) - Irans nuclear spokesman Hossein Musavian announced on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic is prepared to cooperate with the European Union on the issues of security and disarmament.
According to Iran's Mehr News Agency, in a speech at a seminar in Paris entitled Middle East, Peace, Stability, and the Role of Iran, Musavian elaborated on Irans positions on security issues in the Middle East.
Addressing a group of French MPs, officials, and military commanders in the national security and armed forces committee of Frances National Assembly, he stressed that all countries must make a serious commitment to the campaign against terrorism, based on international law.
The chairman of the foreign policy committee of Irans Supreme National Security Council noted that countries should observe transparency and refrain from duplicitous, selective, unilateral, and monopolist approaches.
Musavian added that the campaign against terrorism should not be restricted to military and security approaches and measures but also requires simultaneous efforts to study the roots of the phenomenon and to formulate an acceptable definition of terrorism.
He also said that Iran is prepared to cooperate with the European Union in the campaigns against terrorism, drugs, and organized crime in the regional and international arenas within the framework of UN resolutions.
We should not forget that when Iran fought against Al-Qaeda and the Taleban, others actually supported those groups, Musavian noted.
Commenting on the latest developments in Iraq, he said that the Iraq crisis is a result of the unilateralist policies of the U.S., which are violations of international law.
The U.S. measures have not only become a threat to Iraqs territorial integrity, security, and stability but have also threatened regional security, the official stressed.
Musavian added that efforts should be made to protect Iraqs Arab identity and to establish an elected parliament and a national government with the participation of all ethnic groups including the Shia, Sunni, Kurdish, and Turkmen people of Iraq.
He went on to say that the UN should play a more prominent role during the transition period, with the cooperation of neighboring countries, and called for prompt and comprehensive measures to reconstruct the war-torn country.
Musavian said that Iraqs humanitarian needs should be met immediately and the occupying forces should withdraw from the country in order to resolve the current crisis.
US Denies Report of Military Teams in Iran
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The U.S. government has strongly denied a report by a prominent American journalist that it has sent small military teams into Iran to identify sites for possible future attacks. But the report and denials have generated a controversy about U.S. policy toward Iran, as President Bushs second term is beginning.
On Thursday, just before the inauguration ceremony, Vice President Dick Cheney told MSNBC television Iran is at the top of the list of world trouble spots, because of its nuclear program and because it is, in his words, a noted sponsor of terror. But he downplayed the possibility of U.S. military action against the country.
The article in the New Yorker magazine by controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh says the United States intends to make Iran the next battlefront in the war on terrorism, and has already sent military teams into the country to search for nuclear sites that could be targeted by American bombers.
Mr. Hersh said advocates of a strike on Iran, here at the Pentagon and at the White House, want to have proof Iran has a nuclear weapons program before they order any attack. He says they do not want another situation like Iraq, where the war was justified largely on the belief that the former regime had weapons of mass destruction, which later proved to be false.
The United States and European countries accuse Iran of having a secret nuclear weapons program, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has criticized Iran for concealing parts of its nuclear program that could be used to build weapons.
Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. Iranian officials have also rejected Mr. Hersh's report of U.S. military teams operating in Iran, and say U.S. officials who spoke to the journalist are participating in what they call a "psychological campaign" aimed at Iran's religious leaders. On Thursday, Iran's president said he does not expect a U.S. attack, but that Iran will respond if there is one.
Numerous Bush administration officials have called the Hersh article "inaccurate," but they have not commented directly on his claims about U.S. military teams. Among them was Condoleezza Rice, during a Senate hearing this week about her nomination as secretary of state.
Condoleezza Rice testifies
"It is filled with inaccuracies and its credibility is sorely lacking," she said.
Still, when pressed by Senator John Kerry, who lost the November election to President Bush, Ms. Rice would not get into a detailed discussion of what the United States is, or is not, doing to counter the threat it sees from Iran.
KERRY: With respect to Iran, are you also denying or discounting any of the allegations in this article?
RICE: The article has is inaccurate
KERRY: With respect to Iran?
RICE: The article is, as [the Department of] Defense said, inaccurate.
KERRY: With respect to Iran?
RICE: Senator, the article does not represent our policies toward Iran, or our expectations of policies toward Iran.
Experts outside the government are divided on what the United States should be doing about Iran. At the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Patrick Clawson says he would not be surprised if the United States is indeed doing the type of intelligence gathering Mr. Hersh reported. Mr. Clawson says that is normal, good and necessary.
"I would be outraged if the United States isn't collecting information inside Iran about Iran's nuclear program," he said. "I would say that heads should roll at the intelligence agencies if they're not doing things like that."
But the executive director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, Professor Natalie Goldring, disagrees.
"I think it's extraordinarily dangerous for us to have operatives in Iran, if that's the case," he said. "In order to justify violating a country's sovereignty and sending in military operatives in this manner, I believe we would have to have, at a minimum a demonstration of a clear and present danger. I don't believe that's the case with respect to Iran."
Professor Goldring says the United States should be working to gather as much information as possible about Iran's potentially dangerous nuclear program, but she says that should not include the kind of secret military operations Seymour Hersh reports are going on.
Although they disagree on that point, the two experts agree the United States should expect that any attack on Iran, in the absence of a specific provocation, would be likely to unite the country against the United States. Mr. Hersh reports that advocates of the plan in the Bush Administration reject that view, and believe that many Iranians would use a U.S. attack as an opportunity to rise up against their government.
At her Senate confirmation hearings this week, Condoleezza Rice offered this statement of U.S. policy toward Iran, which President Bush has described as part of what he calls an "axis of evil."
"The goal of the administration is to have a regime in Iran that is responsive to the concerns that we have about Iran's policies, which are 180 degrees antithetical to our own interests at this point," she said. "That means that a regime, the regime, would have to deal with its nuclear weapons obligations, deal with the fact that there are al-Qaida leaders who have been there, deal with the fact that they're supporting Hezbollah and terrorism, and Palestinian rejectionism against the Middle East peace process. That's what we're seeking."
Ms. Rice also said the Iranian people, in her words, "suffer under a regime that has been completely unwilling to deal with their aspirations and that has an appalling human rights record."
Two days later, in his second inaugural address on Thursday, President Bush linked the removal of such regimes to the war on terrorism. He said the United States will promote freedom and democracy around the world, even in what he called its "darkest corners," and will not allow repressive regimes to threaten U.S. security.
"My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people from further attacks and emerging threats," said Mr. Bush.
The current debate on Iran policy focuses on how the United States should deal with the "emerging threat" of an Iran with nuclear weapons.
U.S. officials say that, at least for now, the emphasis is on diplomacy, and they support European efforts to negotiate limits on Iran's nuclear program. But in pre-inaugural interviews in recent days, the president specifically declined to rule out military action against Iran if it becomes necessary at some point in the future.
IRAN LAUNCHES RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCE
NICOSIA [MENL] -- Iran has launched a rapid deployment military force.
Officials said the military has organized the rapid deployment force over the last year. They said the unit participated in the Payrovan-i Vilayat exercise in southwestern Iran on Dec. 8.
The rapid deployment force was meant to respond within hours to any military emergency in or outside Iran. Officials said the force was the size of a brigade and contained C-130 aircraft for rapid transport as well as armored vehicles, anti-tank missiles and artillery.
Officials said the first appearance of the rapid deployment force was at Payrovan-i Vilayat, deemed the largest military exercise ever in Iran. They said the force would be a major element in Iran's defense against any attack by the United States.
Chaney is spot on.
Europe, Russia 'on same wavelength' on Iran nuclear program: French officialMOSCOW (AFP) Jan 20, 2005
Russia and three western European countries share a view that Iran can be persuaded through talks to limit its nuclear activities to the civilian sphere and to fulfill its international obligations in this regard, a French official said here Thursday.
"We have kept the Russians informed on our negotiations from the beginning," an official close to the delegation of visiting French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told reporters, referring to European talks with Iran on its controversial nuclear program.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that the United States was "very skeptical" of the European initiative on Iran but said Paris had heard nothing suggesting that Washington planned to confront Iran militarily over its nuclear ambitions.
President George W. Bush refused earlier this week to rule out military action by the United States if it found Iran were pursuing development of nuclear weapons.
He was commenting on an article that appeared in The New Yorker magazine stating that US operatives have been working on the ground in Iran since last summer, gathing information on potential military targets. Iran warned Thursday it would respond to any threat from the United States.
Russia is assisting Iran in construction of a nuclear power facility and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Wednesday that this help would continue as long as Moscow remained sure that Iran's nuclear plans were strictly civilian.
Lavrov said Russia would do all it could to ensure Iran complied with international obligations that include open inspections of its nuclear sites.
"The Americans know, and we are telling them, that the Russians are on the same wavelength as we are," the French official said.
"Iran is interested in strengthening its status as a regional power with a nuclear weapon... and we want to persuade them that this can be achieved better through economic development," the official said.
Jan. 21, 2005 0:10
'Iran months away from producing enriched uranium'By DAVID RUDGE
Iran is in advanced stages of trying to attain enriched uranium for use in atomic weapons, according to OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash).
If it is not stopped, Iran will be capable of producing its own enriched uranium within six months, Ze'evi told an audience at the University of Haifa on Tuesday night.
He maintained that with this capability, Iran would be able to produce its first nuclear bomb by 2008-10 - an event that would likely cause a domino effect in countries in the Middle East.
Ze'evi spoke at a seminar entitled '2005 - A Year of Change in the Middle East' that was organized by the university's National Security Studies Center, headed by Prof. Gabriel Ben-Dor.
He noted that Iran, in parallel to its nuclear program, has been developing ballistic missiles and that its Shihab-3 rocket has sufficient range to reach the heart of Israel.
On a different subject, Ze'evi related to Mahmoud Abbas's election to the post of Palestinian Authority chairman and the likely changes that this could bring. He maintained that the death of former chairman Yasser Arafat has created a real opportunity to change the situation that has existed until now.
However, Ze'evi said the Palestinian new leadership will not easily relinquish Arafat's vision. Furthermore, there are those who doubt Abbas's ability to bring about and implement the changes and his own policies.
Ze'evi said that Abbas will probably not attempt to confront extremists or disarm organizations but will most likely try to persuade the Palestinian people that terrorism is not the way to achieve political goals.
He said the motivation among radical groups to continue terrorist operations remains high, but their capabilities have been reduced and they are finding it harder to carry out attacks.
Overall, Ze'evi anticipated that 2005 will be a year of opportunity for regional powers and that it is likely that more crises would be resolved through negotiations.
Rebel writer faces extradition to IranBy Meaghan Shaw
January 21, 2005
An Iranian writer, once detained in his home country for distributing pamphlets on behalf of the Iran Freedom Movement, faces deportation from South Australia's Baxter immigration detention centre.
The imminent return of Ardeshir Gholipour has alarmed an international writers group that campaigns for writers harassed, imprisoned and sometimes killed for their views.
The group, International PEN, believes he has a real fear of persecution for his political activism if he is sent back to Iran.
"His involvement in the Iran Freedom Movement and the Left Union for Democracy in Iran makes him particularly vulnerable to repression," the chairwoman of PEN's writers in prison committee, Karin Clark, said in a letter to Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone.
"PEN has on its records at least 13 writers currently detained in Iran, serving lengthy sentences for reasons which have been condemned internationally as clear breaches of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights."
Gholipour was an outspoken supporter of democratic reform in Iran between 1985 and 2000.
In 1987 he was arrested and spent more than 21 months in Iran's notorious Evin prison for distributing freedom pamphlets.
He also wrote articles for a newspaper that criticised the Iranian Government and called for constitutional change. A colleague at the paper was murdered in 1998.
Gholipour fled Iran in 1999 after taking part in student demonstrations and has been detained in Australia since 2000.
He gained many supporters in Australia because of his work on behalf of other detainees and after he painted murals at the Port Hedland detention centre to raise the spirits of child detainees.
Melbourne writer Arnold Zable said Gholipour tried to commit suicide last Friday when the detainee learned that Senator Vanstone had decided not to intervene to grant him a visa.His involvement in the Iran Freedom Movement . . . makes him particularly vulnerable to repression.
KARIN CLARK, writers group
Australian Democrats deputy leader Andrew Bartlett said it would be "negligence" on Australia's part to forcibly return Gholipour.
A spokesman for Senator Vanstone said if Gholipour's supporters had any new information on his case, it would be considered by the Immigration Department.
Iran 'forced' Afghans to go home
By Pam O'Toole
BBC regional analyst
The United Nations refugee chief says thousands of Afghans may have been forced to return to Afghanistan because of Iran's policies.
There are more than a million Afghan refugees in Iran
The UN High Commission for Refugees has been increasingly concerned that Iranian officials are pressurizing Afghan refugees to go home.
There have been radio campaigns informing them that they have to leave.
Rudd Lubbers told the BBC that such actions went too far, saying thousands may have been forcibly returned.
He said that the UN refugee agency did not want its agreement on voluntary repatriation to be interpreted as being instrumental in deportation.
There have been reports of round-ups, or of people being denied extensions of their residence documents and then being denied access to public services, or even being arrested, for having no documents.
The high commissioner, who has just returned from a visit to the region, said there were indications that some Afghan refugees as well as illegal Afghan migrants, were being pushed out of Iran.
He said the UNHCR wanted more intensive discussions with Tehran before extending their current voluntary repatriation agreement.
We are talking of a problem of at least thousands if not ten of thousands
UN refugee chief
"When we had a return last year of 380,000 [people from Iran] certainly not all was forced, no. The large majority was voluntary," he told the BBC.
"But when there are, let's say, 5% of them forced, it's 5% too much - we are talking almost 20,000 people. Therefore, I confirm that we are talking of a problem of at least thousands if not ten of thousands," he added.
Tehran has denied forcing legitimate Afghan refugees home, but says it has arrested many illegal Afghan workers.
Mr Lubbers said voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan should continue at the current rate for some time.
But he added that in the long-term, it would be useful if Iran, Pakistan and European countries hosting Afghans would also consider allowing some to remain as migrant workers.
The UNHCR, he said, was arranging a conference with European countries, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan next month to discuss this and other long-term solutions for Afghan refugees.
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