Irans Missile Capabilities to "Guarantee Regional Peace"
By Mehr News Agency
Aug 3, 2003
TEHRAN - Irans missile capabilities are a deterrent which guarantees its security and brings about peace to the region, Commander of the Army Air Force, Brigadier General Seyed Reza Pardis, said. Talking to the Mehr News Agency, Pardis said, todays world has become an arena for the global arrogance to attack other countries and if we want to confront it we have to be equipped with defensive technology and equipment.
The equipment of the country with the sophisticated technology aims to defend he territorial integrity of the country, he added.
Our defensive power enables us to give befitting response to any invader, the senior army official announced. We had some shortcomings during the time of our sacred defense, but thanks to God today we are equipped with suitable equipment.
Referring to the propaganda of the Zionist regime against Irans Shahab-3 missiles, the commander of the Air Force said, the Zionist regimes hands are tainted with the blood of the oppressed Palestinians, but it introduces Iran as a threat to peace.
We announce that we will equip ourselves with whatever is necessary for the defense of our country and its territorial integrity, the general noted http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_1533.shtml
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Iran might swap terrorists for help from U.S.
By Barbara Slavin, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON Iran might be willing to hand over al-Qaeda terrorists it is holding if the United States cracks down on an Iraq-based terrorist group that Iran says is carrying out a propaganda campaign against the Tehran regime.
A top-level Iranian official, who asked not to be named, confirmed that his government is holding several al-Qaeda prisoners. According to U.S. intelligence, the detainees include Seif Al-Adel, the terrorist network's No. 3 leader and its chief of military operations.
U.S. interrogators badly want access to Al-Adel and the others, who they believe might be able to shed light on plans to attack the United States, or even help point the way to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The Iranian official, who has direct knowledge of the negotiations between Iran and the United States, suggested that Iran might be willing to comply with U.S. requests to extradite the prisoners to their home countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. There, U.S. intelligence officials would have access to the prisoners that they do not have in Iran.
But for now, the Iranian government is refusing to do that because it says the Bush administration has failed to rein in a violent Iranian exile group called the Mujahedin el-Khalq (MEK). Tehran had hoped that the United States would neutralize the MEK once coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein. Instead, the Iranian official says, the MEK has been allowed to resume broadcasting anti-government propaganda into Iran, has kept its light weapons and has retained access to its heavy weapons which are under U.S. guard to maintain them.
The MEK is a group of Iraq-based Iranian exiles who fought on Iraq's side during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Their continued attacks on Iranians have landed them on the State Department's list of terrorist groups. Iranian officials want MEK leaders sent back to Iran, but they might settle for a crackdown on the group's activities against the Tehran regime.
A Defense Department official denied the Iranian accusations about lax treatment of the MEK: "The policy of the U.S. government is to eliminate the MEK's ability and intent to engage in terrorist activity and to prevent its reconstitution as a terrorist organization."
The controversy has highlighted internal Bush administration conflicts over policy toward Iran, which President Bush included in his "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea. The administration has conducted secret talks with Iranian officials to try to reach understandings about Iraq, al-Qaeda and the nuclear weapons it says Iran is seeking to develop.
But it has also been publicly hostile. It has warned the Iranian regime not to interfere in post-Saddam Iraq and has made no secret of its desire to see the regime collapse. Some intelligence experts say elements in the administration want to use the MEK to pressure the Iranian government.
Vince Cannistraro, a former director of counterterrorism for the CIA, says the State Department and the CIA killed proposals by hard-liners in the Pentagon and Vice President Cheney's office to use the MEK as a U.S. military surrogate after Saddam's fall. "But the broader covert action plan is not fully set," Cannistraro says. "There's no question that we have not disbanded them, and there is an ongoing debate about them between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the State Department."
This year, the administration started a radio station, Radio Farda, that beams pop music and U.S.-approved news into Iran, and there are proposals on Capitol Hill to spend millions of dollars on other anti-regime activities.
At a news conference last week, Bush repeated support for Iranians who seek to overturn the government. "The people of Iran are interested in freedom, and we stand by their side," Bush said.
Capturing Al-Adel would be a significant intelligence coup. An Egyptian, Al-Adel is believed to have knowledge about suicide bombings May 12 in Saudi Arabia that killed 25 people, including nine Americans. He is also linked to bombings at two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people in 1998 and is believed to rank third in al-Qaeda after bin Laden, the group's Saudi founder, and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, another Egyptian.
U.S. officials believe that Iran is also holding an al-Qaeda spokesman, Suleiman Abu Gheith, who is a Kuwaiti, as well as one of bin Laden's sons.
The Bush administration has pressed for a handover through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran in the absence of formal U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations. Iranian officials have responded with complaints about the MEK.
"We will reciprocate any gesture on the part of the United States," the Iranian official said.
Harbored by Saddam since falling out with Iran's Islamic government after taking part in the 1979 Iranian revolution, the MEK has taken responsibility for numerous attacks in Iran, including assassinations of regime figures and mortar attacks on government buildings. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-08-03-iran-usat_x.htm