Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - February 13, 2005 - A Weekend Briefing on Iran.
Posted on 02/13/2005 3:52:47 AM PST by DoctorZIn
The past week was filled with important new developments in the US effort to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat.
I was in Washington DC, attending an intelligence conference. Members of the FBI, CIA, NSA, Defense and state and local law enforcement were in attendance. It was a rare opportunity to gain insight into US intelligence on Iran. But since our conversations went late into the night my blogging for the week was light. (Fox news Eric Shawn has prepared a report on the conference for its Sunday morning "Weekend Live" I was told.)
Unfortunately the blogosphere appears not to have noticed some of the important developments of the past week.
The week was full of confirmation that what I predicted in my recent post, Reading the tea leaves - Bush's Strategy on Iran, is accurate. In that post I argued that the US is advancing a non military solution in Iran, supporting an internal regime change by supporting the people of Iran's desire to remove the regime through a referendum (a vote on theocracy or democracy). I further argued that the US is seeking to gain Europe's support in this effort by working together to advance human rights in Iran.
So here are a few of the headlines.
Condoleezza Rice major speech in Paris where she argued the case for a united US/EU stand for freedom and democracy.
Michael Ledeen came out in support of the Iranian opposition referendum this week.
The Iranian regime arrested Iranian activist leader Nargess Adeeb and others.
Iran says it won't give up nuclear technology.
In response, Condi warns Iran must or be referred to the UN Security Council.
Senator Santorum introduces Iran regime change legislation, with White House approval.
North Korea and Iran circle the wagons.
Contrary to popular opinion, one Iranian press service reports: The Iranian people would not defend the regime against a foreign attack.
Rafsanjani, (whom many consider the puppet master in Tehran) gave USA Today a rare interview.
Michael Rubin wrote an excellent introduction to the present crisis with Iran in, Will Washington Support Democracy in Iran?
I chastise Time magazine's report, Why Iran will go Nuclear.
Iran wants the EU to accept a "promise" not to build nuclear weapons.
Iran starts producing torpedoes.
Iranian Blogger describes her 36-day stay as 'guest' in a Tehran prison.
For the first time Pakistan admits that Dr A Q Khan passed secrets and equipment to Iranian officials.
And the US is using drones over Iran.
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Iran Nobel Winner Complains About Threats, Summons
Feb 12, 2005
By Amir Paivar
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi on Saturday complained that the conservative judiciary had summoned her to court again without saying why.
"I have received another summons to appear before a public court, this time as an accused on the fifth of Esfand (Feb. 23)," the human rights lawyer told Reuters by telephone.
She said the summons stated no charge against her.
"I have not yet decided whether to appear myself, but will be sending my lawyers," said Ebadi, 57, who has riled religious hard-liners defending high-profile political dissidents.
Ebadi, the first Muslim woman and first Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize, was summoned last month to appear before the feared Revolutionary Court, but she ignored the order saying it was invalid because it failed to cite a reason.
In a rare climbdown, the judiciary acknowledged it had made several mistakes in summoning her.
Ebadi said agents claiming to be police had visited the Center for Defense of Human Rights, which she directs, but her staff had turned them away as they showed no judicial orders.
"They threatened our secretary, saying they would arrest her," she said, adding that police had denied any involvement.
Ebadi said she had complained in writing to Khatami, who said after her summons in January that he would personally guarantee her safety and her freedom to continue her activities.
"How is it possible to guarantee the security and peace of mind for citizens who don't have any privileges," Ebadi wrote in her letter to Khatami, whose reform efforts the judiciary has helped to foil.
Before and after winning her Nobel award, Ebadi has received death threats from religious hard-liners who view her as an agent of the West intent on undermining Iran's Islamic values.
Cases she has taken on include that of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi who died in custody in 2003 after receiving a blow to the head in a Tehran prison that split her skull.
Germany Bans Iran's Opposite Group, MKO, Rally
February 12, 2005 - IranMania.com
LONDON, Feb 12 (IranMania) - German police banned Thursday's rally by Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO) in Berlin, fearing possible violent acts by the Iraq-based terrorist group, a police spokeswoman told IRNA.
"The demonstration was cancelled by police because they had doubts about the peaceful slogans of the rally which was supposed to be about Iran's human rights situation and its nuclear program," she said.
The MKO organizers wanted to begin the gathering at noon in downtown Berlin.
She pointed out that MKO supporters were told via police loudspeakers that the rally has been banned and that they should leave the area.
They were threatened with arrests in the face of refusal.
The organizers, who have lodged a complaint against the police action, said the ban was announced as some 40,000 MKO agents from across Europe were converging on Berlin.
The figure could not be independently verified.
An AFP photographer said around 400 to 500 people had gathered peacefully on a square in western Berlin away from the Brandenburg Gate and were being carefully monitored by police.
The MKO is on the official terrorist list of the German government, apart from the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union.
Iran refuses to Give up Heavy-Water Nuke Reactor
February 13, 2005 - IranMania.com
LONDON, Feb 13 (IranMania) - Iran said Sunday it would not give up its programmes to build a heavy-water reactor, which can be used to make atomic arms material, in exchange for a light-water research reactor proposed by the Europeans.
"We welcome such proposals but we will not under any circumstances replace our heavy-water research reactor," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
"We will continue working on our heavy-water reactor," Asefi added.
He said Iran was determined to continue its nuclear energy programme despite pressure from Washington, which accuses Tehran of pursuing atomic weapons and has refused to rule out any option, including force, to stop it acquiring them,
The US government believes Iran is using its nuclear energy programme to conceal an effort to manufacture nuclear weapons and is relying, for the time being, on France, Britain and Germany to negotiate curbs on any such efforts, according to The Post.
EU negotiators in talks with Iran over its nuclear activities have offered to send a mission to help Tehran obtain a light-water research reactor in what would be the first concrete move towards rewarding Tehran for abandoning uranium enrichment, AFP reported.
Iran is engaged in diplomacy with France, Britain and Germany, on behalf of the European Union, aimed at ending a 2 1/2-year crisis over Tehran's nuclear ambitions that began when Iranian defectors exposed a large uranium enrichment facility in August 2002. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been in and out of the country since then investigating nuclear facilities, according to The Washington Post.
Iran denies US accusations it is building bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. But Asefi said it would never permanently end its disputed nuclear activities, according to Reuters.
"Iran strongly insists on its views and we will not give up our people's legitimate right," he declared.
US Spy Agencies Launch Review of Iran Data
February 13, 2005 - IranMania.com
LONDON, Feb 13 (IranMania) - The US intelligence community, burned by its fiasco in Iraq, has launched a broad review of its classified data on Iran as an escalating war of words suggested a possible showdown between the United States and Iran over its nuclear programme, US officials said Saturday, AFP reported.
The review, ordered by the National Intelligence Council, was expected to produce two major papers -- a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran and a so-called "memo to holders" -- that will assess Iran's suspected drive to manufacture nuclear weapons and its implication for regional and global security, the officials said.
"It involves the entire intelligence community to write these products," said one of the officials, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.
The US intelligence community has not produced a formal estimate on Iran since 2001, and analysts said the new focus on the country likely reflected new strategic priorities for the administration of President George W. Bush, who has accused Iran of "pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve."
The official said the new NIE on Iran was "coming out" but gave no specific date. The memorandum was expected "several months from now."
But the official made it a point to say that the "memo to holders" was "self-initiated." "It is not that somebody has requested it," the official added.
The CIA-led review was expected to go in parallel with a reassessment of information about Iran being undertaken by the Senate intelligence committee, which was expected to hold a series of closed-door hearings on the matter in coming months, according to congressional officials.
Last year, the committee probed the US failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, whose alleged presence in the country served as the prime rationale for the March 2003 invasion.
A scathing report produced as a result of this investigation accused the intelligence community of "group think," "poor management" and "inadequate intelligence collection."
The Central Intelligence Agency told Congress late last year that Iranian efforts to develop e an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle had "clear weapons potential."
In its most recent report on proliferation matters, the CIA suggested International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and safeguards will most likely prevent Tehran from using its declared nuclear facilities for its weapons programme as long as Tehran remains a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"However, Iran could use the same technology at other, covert locations for military applications," the agency warned.
Moreover, the CIA said that Iran "may have already stockpiled" various types of deadly chemical agents and "probably has the capability to produce at least small quantities" of biological weapons.
However, the official interviewed by AFP declined to discuss agency assessments about how close Iran could be to actually producing a nuclear weapon.
The Bush administration has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs and detect weaknesses in air defenses, according to three US officials with detailed knowledge of the secret effort, The Washington Post reported.
The small, pilotless planes, penetrating Iranian airspace from US military facilities in Iraq, use radar, video, still photography and air filters designed to pick up traces of nuclear activity to gather information that is not accessible by satellites, the officials said. The aerial espionage is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack and is also employed as a tool for intimidation, The Post added.
The intelligence reviews come as rhetoric surrounding Iran's suspected nuclear weapons drive is heating up, with US Vice President Richard Cheney pointing out last week that while the United States preferred a diplomatic solution, "we have not eliminated any alternative."
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, for his part, warned on Thursday that anyone who will try to invade Iran would be greeted with a "burning hell."
I heard Florida congresswoman, Ilina Lehtinen will meet other congressmen and women to support the MKO on wednesday.
Not a good idea, but it could be used to put pressure on Tehran for a few weeks.
Maybe people are just looking for a potent anti-regime group to support, and the MEK is the most visible group. Perhaps an alternative needs to be created? People may be trying to acheive regime change, and they may not be to particular about the specifics. Although, making such a compromise now could lead to a regrettable situation in the future.
1) We allied ourselves with the Soviet tyrants in World War II. In truth, there really wasn't an option, but we did end up fighting the Soviets for most of the rest of the century in a war that wasn't totally cold.
2) We allied ourselves with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets (again). Afghanistan is a crucial piece of real estate, then and now. We probably could have armed someone else. Sending American troops in could have touched off World War III, so we didn't do it for obvious reasons. Anyway, we won this war too, but Afghanistan ended up being mired in civil war in the 1990's, and finally they were liberated by the American-led force in 2001-present. It would be dubious to suggest that Islamic terror wouldn'tbe what it is today if we didn't ally ourselves with bin Laden. Bin Laden is just a figurehead, a spokesman, really; he isn't the brains behind the attacks and the long-term strategy. So, our former ally is now our #1 enemy.
3) At about the same time, we sided with Iraq against Iran in their bloody war of 1980-88. Not that it did much good, Saddam lost that war, the first of three consecutive wars that he would lose, one with the Americans (though little real support, of course), and two against. I understand that we didn't want Iran to expand and take over Iraq (interestingly enough, that is exactly what Iran is doing today, with the help of their subsidiary, Syria), but still...
An interesting pattern emerges here: In example #1, regime change occured in both the Axis powers, and the Soviet Empire. In #2, regime change in Afghanistan twice since our war there (thanks to our "ally" Pakistan). In #3, regime change in occuring in Iraq, and is about to (we all hope!) change in Iran, too. I don't know that it means anything, that it all these questionable conflicts we've been involved in, that regime change has come about. Of course, it's not like the US didn't encourage regime change :-)
I guess the point of all this is - supporting the MEK now in some way might seem to be a good idea right now to deal with the mammoth Iranian problem - but in the long run, it might put you back right where you started.
Or, even more simply - be very careful and very cautious. The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.
Interesting, Iran producing torpedoes. The only practical use for such torpedoes, that I can think of, is to try to sink a blockade. Or, it could just be a propaganda stunt - "Hey, you Americans and Zionists, don't even try it - you'll drown in your own blood."
Also interesting is the drones, in that Iran did not turn on their radars, and won't be doing so indefinitely. It also means that if a fleet of F-16's or F/A 18's comes over to say hello, they won't know it until it's too late. Hopefully, though, no bombs will be necessary to acheive regime change.
The US-MEK alliance sounds bad in Iran and I do not think any body in Iran is in favor of that move
Those torpedoes are imported from China!
In weapons proliferation, China is one of the worst. Not to mention that the nation of China is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world. For the record, I am against my country's (USA) policy of permitting trade with China. We don't trade with Cuba, so why should we trade with China? We might get regime change in China if we refused to trade with China, although the world economy would collapse if that happened. China's a nasty enemy, and I think we just have to wait them out, like we did with the USSR.
Also keep in mind that China currently gets something like 15-20% of its oil from Iran. The Chinese economy grew by 10% last year; without that oil, it won't do so well in 2005.
And I see we have another protest in the Kurd city in the NW of Iran. Very, very, good! This is what I have been waiting to see. When we start seeing large numbers of mass protests, then we will know the the revolution has started and can't be stopped. Perhaps this is the beginning of it. Yes, it wasn't entirely a peaceful protest, but there isn't any way you are going to have a completely peaceful means of regime change. Though having the Iranian people themselves rise up is both the perferred way and the way that gets the least blood spilt. But still, people will die. Many people died to establish American democracy, then a very radical idea. So we understand.
I really hope the administration isn't considering using MEK/MKO for anything except information, as informants.
They will alienate the Iranian people if they give MKO support.
It was reported yesterday, I think, that the report that the Administation was considering teaming up with MEK personnel has been "discredited."
The discredited artcile still said that no one was considering supporting the MEK as a group, just some of its members individually. Personally, I'm not surprised that the article was discredited. Something seemed fishy with the way it was written.
Like Condi said last year, if you are going to wage a war on terror, then you can't ally yourself with terrorists, even if they are the enemy of your enemy. They are still terrorists.
I agree, I hope we don't support any elements of the MEK.
There have been several very disturbing articles lately.
I hope to heck you're right.
The administration will destroy all pro-American feelings the Iranian people have, if it supports MKO.
Of course, I don't have any "inside knowledge," but it is near-certain that the US will not support MEK the organization (although I think I read today some senators may annouce their own support for MEK this week).
What is not certain is whether the Administration will support elements of the MEK. I agree with all here that supporting the MEK itself, or any of its elements, is wrong. I believe (and hope) the the White House will remain opposed to MEK. But other American voices supporting MEK could confuse the Iranians, and may assume that they are speaking in conjuction with the president. I confess that I don't know how, say, senators speaking out in America gets played in foreign Arab media, and if they recognize the difference between the branches of government. A comparable recent event might be Senator Kennedy blasting the elections in Iraq and the American forces there a few days before the vote. Were the Iraqis aware of his comments? Do they understand that Ted Kennedy and George Bush have quite different beliefs (very different!) ? It may not come down to what Bush actually says or thinks, but what people *believe* he said or thinks. I must admit that I personally tend to view foriegn governments as a fairly homogenous mixture of people. That's largely to a lack of information gathering on my part. I sure hope that Iranians are more politically-savvy than Americans. Many Americans don't seem to understand their own government, let alone foreign governments. Fortunately, I am not one of them.
As far as the MEK is concerned, I think information is what is needed. Well-intentioned people for the most part, I believe, are willing to support the MEK because they don't actually understand what the MEK is. They see that they are opposed to the Iranian regime, and thus assume that they are the good guys.
What's needed is a American publicity campaign to make sure everyone knows what the MEK is. A cheaper alternative would be for the White House to sit down all members of Congress mae sure that they understand. I don't think any responsible American would support the MEK if they knew who the MEK is. So, it's an information problem. And the dissemination of information is one of the really poor spots of this Administration, unfortunately.
You're right. It IS an information problem. And part of the problem is that congressmen and senators are listening to information coming from the MEK themselves.
We've run a number of articles here on this Thread since 2003 on MEK and what they are. And their members and spokespeople may smile and be polite, but this group has its own agenda: They want to rule Iran themselves.
They are dangerous and they are despised by most Iranians.
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