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Iranian Alert -- August 27, 2003 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 08/27/2003 12:01:02 AM PDT by DoctorZIn
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"The incident that led to the death of Zahra Kazemi was not at all done by the staff of the Intelligence Ministry. How the incident happened is clearly evident for this Ministry and the general public will be informed about it at the proper time", the official news agency IRNA quoted a statement from the Intelligence Ministry as saying."
Taking them a while to make up a good story............
posted on 08/27/2003 11:32:23 AM PDT
Hindustan Times - Report points to Pak nexus in Iranian nuclear programme
Pakistan has been identified as the source of critical technology for Iran's nuclear programme in new evidence gathered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Citing officials familiar with the UN agency's investigation of the Iranian programme, the paper said the evidence "implicates Pakistani companies as suppliers of critical technology and parts".
Iran, without identifying the source, is said to have admitted for the first time that it received substantial foreign help in building a secret nuclear facility south of Tehran that is now beginning to enrich uranium.
The finding on the Pakistani nexus, not long after that country's involvement with the North Korean programme, is being viewed in Washington as presenting another diplomatic challenge to the Bush administration vis-a-vis Islamabad.
Despite media disclosures, the administration has over the past many months refrained from publicly acknowledging or criticising Pakistan's missiles-for-nukes barter deal with North Korea. Analysts have attributed the US stance to its need for continued Pakistani assistance in the drive against the Al-Qaeda.
On the Iranian programme itself, media reports in Washington talked of international inspectors finding traces of highly enriched uranium at the Iranian facility, giving rise to speculation that Tehran may have already produced weapons-grade material.
The IAEA report, however, referred to Iranian denials on this score and said additional work was necessary to reach definitive conclusions. The Iranian explanation for the enriched uranium traces was that the particles had been on the equipment when it was purchased from another country.
"The equipment said to be tainted was from a type of centrifuge acquired by Pakistani scientists in the 1970s and used in Pakistan's domestic nuclear programme," the Post said, quoting two officials familiar with the findings.
Although Islamabad has denied any involvement with the Iranian programme, as with the North Korean one earlier on, experts in Washington remain unconvinced. "The notion that Pakistan wasn't involved is getting less and less tenable," says Henry D Sokoloski, a senior non-proliferation official in the Bush Sr administration.
David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security has been quoted in one media report as saying that information being developed in various capitals pointed to Pakistan as the likely source of the centrifuge designs and components for the Iranian programme.
posted on 08/27/2003 11:43:38 AM PDT
(Awareness is what you know before you know anything else.)
"Iran has demanded his immediate release and an apology from Britain, as well as slapping economic sanctions on Buenos Aires for issuing an international warrant for his arrest."
A little overdramatic for a guy who was no longer an ambassador, isn't it?
They use this trumped-up "outrage" response whenever they're guilty.
The following report is from Debka. As always, their reports are too often flawed but occassionally right on the money. So I report, you decide. -- DoctorZin (Too busy to confirm or deny this report)
Al Qaeda Mobilizes All Its Forces for Iraq
August 27, 2003
This week, Al Qaeda came out with a claim of responsibility for the huge truck bombing at UN Baghdad headquarters on August 19, in which 23 people lost their lives including senior UN representative in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello and some 150 were injured. The al Qaeda message appearing on an Arabic Web site accuses the United Nations of being a branch of the American State Department and against Arabs and Muslims.
US officials are reporting their sense that hundreds of Osama bin Ladens members are now operating inside Iraq alongside Baathists in their bid to undermine the US presence and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
In its last issue, Number 122, DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported a surge of electronic messages calling on every al Qaeda adherent in the world to mobilize for the battle in Iraq. Victory over the United States will be far quicker than many think, say the messages.
Never before, according to DEBKA-Net-Weeklys counter-terrorism sources, has al Qaeda staged a general mobilization. It is no propaganda exercise. The response has been enthusiastic and its impact noticeable.
Al Qaeda combatants have been racing towards Iraq in large numbers along four main routes. The most surprising and most recent is the path from western Saudi Arabia through Iran, about which more hereunder.
The Pakistani-Iranian route:
Claims by senior Iranian leaders of having thwarted Al Qaeda attacks inside Iran are but a smokescreen for the mass influx of Osama bin Ladens men into the Islamic Republic from the east: The group entering from the Pakistani border region of Baluchistan forms up at the Iranian cities of Zabol and Zahedan; the group from the Afghan town of Herat foregathers near the north Iranian city of Mashhad.
Irans all-powerful Revolutionary Guards have their intelligence units conduct security checks at both assembly points to establish the terrorists real identities and origins. They are watched by men loyal to al Qaeda operations expert Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, who is thought to have set up his base in Tehran. Once they reach northern Iraqi Kurdistan, they join the Ansar al-Islam extremists heading south to Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle towns of Ramadi, Tikrit, Balad and Fallujah.
Ansar is held responsible for the Jordanian embassy bomb attack in Baghdad last month. This Iraqi al Qaeda affiliate, once no more than 600 to 800 fighters, has swelled and set up two new units: Jund al-Allah, or Soldiers of Allah, and al-Usad, or The Lions, indicating a Syrian connection. (Bashar Assads name means lion.) Its members are deployed along the northwestern Iraqi-Syrian border, attaching themselves to the al Qaeda arrivals from Syria.
The two groups have already executed joint strikes in the northern Iraqi oil city of Mosul. In one, they attempted to assassinate the local chief of police, but only seriously wounding him.
The Syrian route:
At least 1,000 al Qaeda men have traveled along this busiest of all the corridors into Iraq, DEBKA-Net-Weeklys counter-terrorism sources report. Damascus International airport is logistical hub and main distribution point for Al Qaeda operatives flying in from Central Asia, Chechnya, the Balkans mainly Kosovo and Bosnia Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and even Iran.
Many Al Qaeda fighters turned back by Iran for security reasons go round through Damascus, some hosted at the teeming medressas, or religious schools, other at Palestinian terrorist training camps operating in Damascus. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command receive a large part of their operational funding from Tehran and moreover collect a fee per head for every Al Qaeda operative they train.
On their way into Iraq, Osama bin Ladens men transit Syrian-Iraqi frontier lands dominated by nomadic Saudi-Iraqi-Syrian Sunni tribesmen. For almost a decade, DEBKA-Net-Weeklys intelligence and military sources reveal, Saddam sent monthly stipends to tribal, clan, business and clerical leaders ruling an area roamed by two million of these tribesmen. Once a year, Saddam resettled several thousand demobilized Iraqi officers and their families in the region with orders to assimilate and set up familial relations with the local tribes.
Since the money dried up from Baghdad, Syrian-administered Iranian funds have been disbursed to those tribal leaders. As a result Saddam loyalists are still in control of the tribal regions which US intelligence has found impenetrable. A rare intelligence source knowledgeable about the region told DEBKA-Net-Weekly : It is true that guerrilla attacks against the Americans are launched from the Sunni Triangle. However the logistics and the consignment of fighting strength to the Triangle are directed from the tribal territories.
In the last week, the flow of Syrian and Al Qaeda fighters across the frontier into Iraq has doubled.
The Saudi route via Iran:
This is the newest channel, first set up in mid-July - but also one of the busiest, believed to have accommodated 1,500- 2,500 Saudi al Qaeda combatants transiting Iran at the rate of almost a thousand a week. Some are thought to be on the run from the Saudi hue and cry conducted against these fundamentalist terrorists since the May 12 Riyadh bombings. Another group appears to consist of Afghan-Pakistan combat veterans obeying the call to arms and eager for the chance of revenge for their rout in Afghanistan. They are also looking forward to an advance base from which to strike down the Saudi throne.
The opening of this route means that for the second time in two years Iran is granting Saudi al Qaeda combatants free passage from one anti-American battle arena to another.
Like Syrian president Bashar Assad, who claims to know nothing of the al Qaeda fighters passing through Damascus, Tehran too says it is powerless to halt their through-passage into Iraq as tourists on valid Saudi passports. They all head to the western Ilan region, where local smugglers help them cross over to the Iraqi towns of al Kut in the south or Baquba in the center.
The Saudi route via Syria:
The same Syrian-Saudi Sunni Muslim tribes who crisscross the Iraqi-Syrian frontier also trek along a north-south route between Syria and Saudi Arabia via Jordan. En route, they collect Saudi, Yemeni, Sudanese and other al Qaeda fighters all heading towards the Iraqi battlefront.
Despite this surge of al Qaeda traffic into Iraq, Washington is reluctant to send reinforcements to the 140,000-strong force shouldering the extra burden and casting about for foreign troop increments.
US administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer and American military commanders have asked the Bush administration for two more divisions at full strength to meet the fresh contingencies. President Bush has promised a decision in early October. US field commanders fear the six-week delay will exact a heavy toll on security in Iraq. They predict -
A. The guerrilla war will intensify and the infiltrations of Al Qaeda and other anti-American elements further build up.
B. Strategic parts of Iraq will fall under the control of the Islamist terror group as it ranks are beefed up by unimpeded infiltrations.
C. Tehran will intervene on the side of the Sunni Muslim campaign against the Americans by sponsoring more terrorist attacks like the bombings of the Jordanian embassy and UN HQ in Baghdad. This intervention may draw Iraqi Shiites into the conflict whereas at present they view it as a purely a Sunni war. http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=548
Iran Extradition Row Continues
August 27, 2003
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Ahani has held talks in London with the British foreign minister, Jack Straw, on the arrest of the former Iranian ambassador to Argentina by British police.
Mr Ahani called for the release of the former ambassador, Hadi Soleimanpour, who is studying in England.
He said the Argentine court's request for Mr Soleimanpour's arrest was illegal and politically motivated.
But a UK Foreign Office spokesman told BBC News Online the British Government was not involved at any stage and any action is now a matter for the courts.
Mr Soleimanpour is wanted by police in Argentina in connection with the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, in which more than 80 people were killed.
Iran denies any involvement in the bombing and has warned the UK of serious consequences unless Mr Soleimanpour is freed immediately.
Relations under threat
The UK Foreign Office denied the arrest was politically motivated, saying it was the result of international legal processes.
It added the future of bi-lateral relations is now in Iran's hands.
"We don't want this issue to affect bi-lateral relations, we have made clear this is not a political issue and we must abide by our international obligations," the spokesman said.
"Iran needs to understand Britain is a key voice for determining EU policy towards Iran. The Iranians are keen to keep EU relations with Iran on track so it is in no-one's interests to have a fall out at this stage."
An Iranian Government spokesman said Teheran hopes it will not come to the withdrawal of ambassadors, but he said all legal and diplomatic options were open.
Iranian officials have said they want the issue resolved by Friday.
But extradition cases can take months because the person being extradited can appeal against decisions.
The BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Barnaby Mason, says that while the British Government is insisting that the extradition process is a matter for the courts and it cannot interfere, this is not entirely true.
In reality, extradition under British law is not a purely judicial affair - the final decision is made by the home secretary, but he gets involved only after the courts have given their ruling.
At that point, the home secretary may consider political and other representations - for example, from the Foreign Office and the Iranian Government.
A few years ago, the English courts ruled that the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, could be extradited to Spain, but the government then freed him on health grounds. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3185111.stm
Iran Sought to Buy Dual-use Nuclear Equipment in France
August 27, 2003
VIENNA -- Iran has sought to buy, in several countries but especially in France, nuclear equipment that could be used for civilian as well as military purposes, according to a French official document a copy of which was obtained by Agence France-Presse.
"The list of Iranian attempts to buy (equipment) from the French nuclear industry... clearly points to the development of major resources for the reprocessing and manipulation of radioactive fuel," said the document presented to the Nuclear Suppliers Group at Pusan, South Korea, early this year.
The paper, whose authenticity was confirmed by diplomatic sources in Vienna, said that in late 2000, Iran tried to buy from a French supplier 10 high-density shields with a radioactive protection factor equivalent to 140 centimetres of concrete.
In 2002, an Emirates-based Iranian company tried to buy 28 remote-controlled manipulators, of which half were able to handle material whose radioactivity was above the usual maximum levels allowed in the civilian nuclear industry.
The paper said the equipment could be used for the reprocessing and manipulation of plutonium, a radioactive element used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
The NSG, also known as the London Club, groups 40 countries that supply nuclear equipment and technology, and was formed in 1974 to prevent the exportation of nuclear technologies for military purposes. http://www.iii.co.uk/shares/?type=news&articleid=4730436&action=article
Iran Intelligence Ministry Blames Hardliners in Kazemi Death
August 27, 2003
The Canadian Press
TEHRAN -- Iran's reformists accused hardliners of a coverup, with a parliamentarian reporting Wednesday that a judiciary agent had been blamed for the murder of a Montreal photojournalist who died after being beaten in custody.
Such charges and countercharges have characterized Iran's probe into the death of Zahra Kazemi, which has become the latest battleground in the power struggle between elected reformers and hardliners who control Iran's police force, judiciary and security agencies.
Earlier this week, the hardline Tehran prosecutor, whose office is part of the judiciary, issued a statement in which an independent judge said two Intelligence Ministry agents had been indicted "on charges of involvement in the semi-premeditated murder" of Kazemi. The Intelligence Ministry is loosely controlled by reformists.
Reformist legislator Naser Qavami told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a top Intelligence Ministry official told a closed meeting of parliament late Tuesday that a judiciary official working in the prison where Kazemi was held had beat her, leading to her death.
Qavami did not name the accused judiciary official. Intelligence Ministry officials contacted by the AP also refused to name their suspect.
The legislator said ministry officials also accused the judiciary of moving prison officers who witnessed the beating of Kazemi to different positions and pressuring them not to tell what they saw. During the closed parliament session, the officials also accused the judiciary of tampering with prison records and forcing Intelligence Ministry agents to accept responsibility for the murder.
Kazemi, 54, died July 10, nearly three weeks after being detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student-led protests. Prisons are under the authority of the hardline judiciary.
Initially, the hardline Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, was quoted as saying Kazemi had died of a stroke.
On July 30, Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters Kazemi had been murdered. By then, Khatami had called for an independent judicial investigation. Veteran Judge Javad Esmaeili was appointed by the head of hardline judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to direct the probe.
Kazemi's death was condemned inside and outside Iran. Canada threatened sanctions, and withdrew its ambassador after Kazemi was buried in her birthplace, the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, against the wishes of Canadian authorities and her son, who lives in Montreal.
Tuesday, government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said that the Iranian government had no duty to inform Canada of the results of its investigation into Kazemi's death. In Canada later Tuesday, France Bureau, spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, responded that Graham expects Iran to keep Canada informed.
Graham has said what Canada wants in the Kazemi case is an "understanding why she died, how she died and who will be held responsible."
Kazemi's son Stephan Hachemi told a news conference Tuesday in Montreal that high-ranking Canadian Embassy officials will meet soon with Mortazavi. He said they're going to ask him among other things to return the body of his mother to Canada. http://www.mytelus.com/news/article.do?pageID=world_home&articleID=1392775
Second Iranian Detained for 1994 Argentina Bombing
August 27, 2003
Voice of America
Police in Europe have released an Iranian diplomat after briefly detaining him in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina.
Officials say Saied Baghban was detained at the Brussels airport Wednesday, but was released hours later because he was found to have diplomatic immunity. Mr. Baghban is now a diplomat in Belgium.
Authorities detained him on an Interpol arrest warrant filed by Argentine Federal Judge Jose Galeano earlier this month. Judge Galeano ordered international warrants for eight Iranian diplomats for their alleged involvement in the July 18, 1994 bombing attack that killed 85 people.
Last week, Britain detained Iran's former ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour, in accordance with the warrant. Iran has criticized Britain for the arrest and demanded the diplomat's release. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said relations with Britain will be harmed because of the arrest.
Iran denies any involvement in the bombing.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=89787280-50C1-46B5-A620D6E71E00FE37
US Told Russia US Opposes Nuclear Cooperation with Iran
August 27, 2003
Dow Jones Newswires
NEW YORK -- The State Department said Wednesday that the U.S. has told Moscow that no country, including Russia, should engage in nuclear cooperation with Iran until Tehran has satisfied international concerns about its nuclear program.
Deputy spokesman Philip Reeker told reporters in Washington that Undersecretary of State John Bolton had spoken to a Russian deputy foreign minister Monday and to the Russian atomic energy minister Tuesday.
Reeker said that until Iran had satisfied questions of the International Atomic Energy Agency and fully addressed concerns of the international community, including "full, immediate and unconditional implementation" of an additional protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, then "we believe that no country should be engaging with Iran in nuclear cooperation, and that would include Russia."
According to the transcript of his briefing, Reeker said "that's the view that we express to Russia as well."
Reeker was asked about a report earlier Wednesday that Russia and Iran might sign an agreement requiring the return to Russia of all spent nuclear fuel from a reactor Moscow is helping Tehran build. Russia has implied that it could send fuel to an Iranian reactor if an agreement were in place on the return of the spent fuel.
Reeker noted that the U.S. has made clear that it has concerns about Iran and finds Iran's nuclear activities troubling. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=08&d=27&a=16
Canada Lashes Out at Iran Over Death Probe
August 27, 2003
OTTAWA -- Canada complained angrily on Wednesday that Iran had not yet handed over a report into the violent death of a Canadian journalist in Tehran and repeated a threat to impose sanctions unless the matter was resolved to Ottawa's satisfaction.
A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Bill Graham said Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi had met senior Canadian officials on Thursday to discuss the case of Zahra Kazemi, 54, but had no provided no new details.
Mortazavi's office has charged two interrogators from the Intelligence Ministry with complicity in the "semi-intentional" murder of Kazemi, who died from a blow to the head after she was arrested for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison.
Graham spokeswoman Isabelle Savard said Graham had expressed his "profound disappointment" with recent developments in the case.
"Although Canada has made repeated requests, the Iranian government has yet to provide us with the investigative report on Ms Kazemi's death," she quoted Graham as saying.
"This is not the cooperation and transparency that Canada has insisted on and that I have been promised by (Iranian) Foreign Minister (Kamal) Kharrazi," Graham said.
Kazemi's death sparked a diplomatic dispute between Iran and Canada, which withdrew its ambassador in protest. Graham has also threatened unspecified sanctions against Iran unless the circumstances over her death are cleared up.
Asked whether the threat of sanctions was still valid, Savard replied: "All options are open".
She said the report into the death of Kazemi, who was buried in Iran against the wishes of her family and Ottawa, was now expected in September.
"The Minister also emphasized that the matter is not over, that Canada will continue to use every opportunity to see that justice is done for Ms Kazemi and that the wishes of her family to have her remains returned are respected," she said.
Iran's ability to unravel the case and punish the culprits is seen as a test of reformist President Mohammad Khatami's struggle to exert his authority over hard-line rivals who control the judiciary and other powerful state institutions.
The incident has also thrown a spotlight on Iran's security services and how the media in the Islamic Republic is treated.
Iran's Intelligence Ministry has denied its staff were in any way responsible for Kazemi's death.
Iranian officials initially said Kazemi died of a stroke, but an initial government inquiry concluded she had been killed by a brain hemorrhage caused by a severe blow to the skull.
Iran's Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said at the end of July she was probably murdered.
To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; ...
Stop Financing Iran's Nuke
August 27, 2003
The Jerusalem Post
Iran, regarded by America as a pivotal component of the "axis of evil," may, in theory at least, soon face the threat of sanctions on the grounds that it has violated its own nuclear non-proliferation undertakings.
This follows a report by the UN's nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming the detection of traces of highly enriched weapons-grade uranium at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz. This is only one of the sites looming large in Iran's suspected clandestine atomic weapons development program.
Iran has clumsily tried to dismiss this evidence with the excuse that the IAEA samples originated from nuclear equipment purchased in the 1990s in an already contaminated state.
The Iranians failed to divulge the seller's identity, stating only that it was an intermediary company. Pakistanis are fingered by most experts as likely middlemen, peddling Dutch blueprints for enrichment centrifuges. However, this doesn't involve actual hardware, a fact that fails to satisfactorily account for the traces. Its vague, incomplete explanations are hardly likely to get Teheran off the hook.
Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran is racing to construct a bomb, with the main disagreement being how long it will take and at what stage, if any, the program can be blocked. The scandal is the number of supposedly responsible nations that will be to blame if Iran succeeds in going nuclear.
Russia, for example, is reportedly hoping to sign a deal to provide fuel rods for its reactor in exchange for commitments to return the spent fuel rods. On paper, this would ensure that no fuel rods or reactor products would be free for bombmaking. In practice, the prospect of the fuel rods being diverted would be so catastrophic that Russia must be persuaded not to ship them at all without proof that Iran has no bomb program.
Meanwhile in Japan, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom urged Tokyo to pull out of a $2.2 billion deal with Iran during his visit on Tuesday. It is unconscionable that Japan, itself adjusting to the idea of a nuclear North Korea next door and aware of Iran's nuclear program and its support for terrorism, would ignore American and Israeli pleas to hold off on financing the regime's plans. Yet the deal forges ahead; Iran's foreign minister was due in Tokyo this week.
Nor are the Japanese alone in their business-as-usual attitude toward this dangerous regime that has in recent months rounded up, beat, and killed untold numbers of its own people seeking freedom from its stifling grip.
Iran remains one of the most desirable business destinations and entrepreneurial individuals and governments continue to flock to its latter-day bazaars. Canada, Russia, China, South Africa, Turkey, the former USSR's Central Asian republics, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy, and Spain are vying with each other for oil deals and queuing up to do other transactions with Teheran.
Analysts name several Western European countries as complicit in nuclear and high-tech dealings. So far none have yielded to American appeals (such as those made in Europe two weeks ago by US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham) to cease nuclear cooperation and cozy trade contacts with Iran.
The IAEA's board of governors is slated to convene on September 8. Should it pronounce Iran in violation, the issue could then reach the UN Security Council and trigger possible deliberations on sanctions.
Teheran does fear international censure, which could damage its business prospects. Iran's eager trading partners do possess a weapon they can effectively wield over the ayatollahs' heads. Many of them profess aversion to the use of force, as they recently did in the case of Iraq, of but that doesn't preclude economic action against a regime which endangers the world far more than any of the region's despots past and present.
Countries which sanctimoniously preach against violence and urge peaceful resolution of all differences cannot continue business as usual with those who can only be considered as the forces of darkness in the context of present-day international affairs. They are fully aware of the sinister nature of the Iranian regime and have been amply forewarned about its nuclear ambitions.
We have come to assume that it is unthinkable for free nations to join together in actively confronting a menace to their security and to the supposedly universal values of human rights.
Is it, however, too much to ask that they not aid, abet, and offer succor to a regime that is a clear and present danger?
Iran can be isolated economically. This is a measure Teheran dreads.
Those who will not desist even from aiding a dangerous foe, forfeit the moral right to berate any resolute democracy be it America or Israel which is left with no choice but to protect this region and the world. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1061959718229
Iran Threatens to Expel UK Ambassador
August 27, 2003
Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Christopher Adams
The Financial Times
Iran is threatening to expel Britain's ambassador to Tehran and downgrade diplomatic relations over the arrest in the UK of a former Iranian diplomat.
An expulsion and a downgrading of ties, possibly to chargé d'affaires level, would be a setback for Britain's strategy of "constructive engagement" with Iran. Jack Straw, foreign secretary, has visited Tehran several times and claims a good working relationship with his Iranian counterpart.
Iran's response could lead to European Union retaliatory action, western diplomats have warned. The threat comes days before EU foreign ministers are due to meet to discuss Iran's progress in complying with international demands to open its nuclear programme to tougher inspections.
A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday said Iran had improved its co-operation with inspectors, but "a number of important outstanding issues" were unresolved. Iran has said it is ready to discuss an agreement that would permit intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Diplomats in Tehran on Tuesday voiced fears that Iran was on the verge of expelling Richard Dalton, who arrived in December but is now on leave in the UK.
The threat, which diplomats said the Iranian leadership had made explicit within the last few days, follows the arrest in Britain of a former Iranian ambassador over the bombing in 1994 of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.
An Argentine judge is seeking the extradition of eight Iranians, including Hadi Soleimanpour, Iran's ambassador to Argentina when the bomb explosion killed 85 people. Mr Soleimanpour was arrested last week in Durham.
Britain maintains the arrest is a judicial matter and the government cannot interfere. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1059479341262&p=1012571727172
Chinese Enterprises' Managers Confer With Kharrazi
Tehran Times - Politics Section
Aug 27, 2003
BEIJING -- Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Kharrazi in a meeting with the managers of large scale Chinese enterprises here on Monday night, invited them to get involved in Iran's various infrastructure projects, IRNA reported. Kharrazi who is in Beijing on an official visit, told the Chinese firms managers, "keeping in mind the potentially huge opacities for such infrastructure investments in constructing air orts, high ways, ports, power stations, and oil and gas facilities, we can predict the rapid boosting of the future perspective of the two countries' relations, that will be quite promising." He said, "It is quite natural that the daily expansion of the economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries would face certain difficulties in technical and commercial fields, which are negligible keeping in mind the high volume of bilateral relations."
The Iranian foreign minister expressed certainty that relying on mutual wisdom and broad mindedness of the financial managers of the two countries, and adopting appropriate legal procedures, the problems faced in the past would be fully eliminated, and their occurrence would be avoided in the future.
Announcing Iran's willingness for the Chinese enterprises' investments in its infrastructure projects, the foreign minister said that the Iranian Parliament has now passed the law related to legalizing foreign investments in the country, that has paved the way for foreign enterprises' presence. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_1976.shtml
Vagueness and infighting obstructs Kazemi murder probe
Reporters Sans Frontieres - Press Release
Aug 27, 2003
Reporters Without Borders today denounced the lack of openness in the official enquiry into the death of Iranian-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi and warned that it was falling victim to the power struggle between the Iranian regime's reformists and hardliners.
The criminal division of the Teheran public prosecutor's office announced on 25 August it had charged two employees of the pro-reformist intelligence ministry with "complicity in semi-intentional murder." But the next day, the ministry denied they were involved, saying the circumstances of the killing were very clear and that the real truth would soon be revealed.
The two unnamed employees reportedly interrogated Kazemi between her arrest on 23 June and when she was hospitalised on 27 June and are said to be in detention. A spokesman for the reformist government, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, said charging them had nothing to do with reality.
The deputy intelligence ministry told the so-called "Article 90" committee (that investigates complaints against the government, parliament and the judiciary) on 26 August that the ministry knew who had beaten the journalist soon after she was arrested.
"The fuzziness of the enquiry shows the authorities are not keen on investigating the case," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. "We don't know exactly who has been arrested and the prosecution office's statement has been denied by the intelligence ministry, which just makes a few vague hints. The reformist-hardliner power struggle is blocking the investigation and makes it vital to have an independent and impartial enquiry with international experts in it. Canada must press for this," he said.
Kazemi, who lived in Canada, was arrested as she took pictures of prisoners' families in front of Teheran's Evin prison. She died on 11 July from injuries caused by her beating in detention. After officials tried to cover up the cause of her death, Vice-President Ali Abtahi admitted on 16 July she had been beaten.
Her body was hastily buried on 22 July in the southern town of Shiraz, despite her mother, who lives in Iran, asking for the body to be sent to Canada. She admitted on 30 July being pressured to allow burial in Iran. Canada is insisting the body be handed over to Kazemi's Canadian son Stephan, as he has requested.
Some reformist MPs have even accused the judiciary, controlled by the hardliners, of being responsible for her death. The fiercely anti-media Teheran prosecutor, Judge Said Mortazavi, reportedly tried to cover up her death and pushed for a quick burial. The culture ministry's foreign press chief, Mohammad Hussein Khoshvagt, admitted in a letter in the media on 24 July, that Mortazavi had forced him to say Kazemi had died of a brain haemorrhage. The judge reportedly accused him of issuing a press visa to Kazemi, who he said was a spy.
Reformist MP Mohsen Armin confirmed these manoeuvres by Mortazavi and a fellow reformist MP, Elaheh Koulaie, said Kazemi had been killed as part of the climate of censorship of the media and crackdown on all criticism.
Iran is the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, with 19 presently detained. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_1977.shtml
Evidence May Indicate Iran Closing In on Nuclear Arms
Los Angeles Times - By Douglas Frantz
Aug 27, 2003
International inspectors confirmed Tuesday that particles of highly enriched uranium had been discovered in two separate samples taken at a nuclear facility in Iran, raising the possibility that Tehran is further along in developing a nuclear weapon than experts had predicted.
The finding was contained in a confidential report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna that provided detailed descriptions of numerous contradictions and misstatements by Iran in recent months. A copy of the 10-page report was provided to The Times by a source outside the agency.
It was clear that critical questions about Iran's nuclear program remained unanswered in the report, particularly about uranium enrichment, the purification process that creates fuel for reactors or material for weapons. Those questions are significant because the answers could indicate a weapons program and because Iran is required under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to disclose any such enrichment to the IAEA.
The report did not link the minute traces of highly enriched uranium found at the Natanz nuclear plant in central Iran to any weapons effort. Although a diplomat who reviewed the report said the particles were not proof that Iran had enriched uranium, he said that discovery and other findings were strong evidence that Tehran had lied about its nuclear activities.
Iran insists that it is only building commercial nuclear reactors to generate electricity and dismissed the particles as contamination from before it acquired the equipment. The United States has accused Iran of using its commercial program to disguise a clandestine effort to build a nuclear bomb.
Attempts to reach Iranian officials in Vienna and Tehran were unsuccessful. The official Iranian news agency IRNA said that Iran's representative to the IAEA said the country was ready to sign an agreement to allow more intrusive international inspections of its nuclear facilities.
"Iran would like to clarify some aspects regarding the preservation of its sovereignty due to the so-called undeclared inspections that are envisioned," Ali Akbar Salehi, the representative, was quoted as saying.
Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the IAEA in Vienna, said in a telephone interview that inspectors were analyzing information from five trips to Iran since the previous report, issued in June. That document criticized Iran for concealing previous nuclear activities and was somewhat harsher in tone.
The latest report said the discovery of the highly enriched uranium particles at Natanz and an Iranian admission of uranium conversion at another facility appeared to contradict earlier claims by Iran that it had not enriched uranium.
Iran also told the agency in recent days that it had obtained technology for enriching uranium from unidentified foreign sources in the late 1980s, the report said. Iran had previously told the agency that it had developed the technology on its own, beginning in 1997.
Although the report praised Tehran for improved cooperation, it also complained that "information and access were at times slow in coming and incremental."
The agency's 35-nation board is scheduled to meet Sept. 8. The United States is expected to push for a finding that Iran is not complying with the nonproliferation treaty and ask for the matter to be referred to the United Nations Security Council. The council could order sanctions.
A senior Bush administration official said in a telephone interview from Washington that the United States will certainly press for the issue to be taken to the Security Council and for Iran to be declared in noncompliance.
"We are disappointed that the IAEA did not come right out and say that the Iranians have been lying to them and have not been cooperating. I wish the IAEA could be more blunt about this, but the facts are in the report," the official said.
The discrepancy was one of a series of contradictions and gaps in the report in which Iran acknowledged specific activities only after repeated requests and outside pressure.
"What seems clear is that Iran has got caught up in some lies and is giving ground grudgingly and slowly," said a European diplomat who had been briefed on the new report.
For months inspectors tried to get access to a small workshop outside Tehran called Kalaye Electric Co. An Iranian exile group had said that the facility, officially described as a watch factory, was part of the secret nuclear complex.
In March and again in June, inspectors were denied full access to the site. In July, Iran told the agency that it was not yet willing to permit samples to be taken at Kalaye.
In meetings in Tehran on Aug. 9, Iran acknowledged for the first time that its enrichment activities were concentrated at Kalaye from 1997 until last year and it agreed to permit the inspectors to take environmental samples to determine whether uranium was enriched there.
The analysis of the samples is not finished, but the report said it was unclear whether the results would be of any use because of structural changes and modifications at Kalaye since the March visit.
Iranian officials said the construction was part of the facility's conversion to new uses, but a nuclear expert familiar with the report and the inspection process said, "They sanitized the place."
The U.S. official said, "They repainted and cleaned the rooms to try to hide the evidence that there had been uranium reprocessing there. That was a nice way of putting the fact that they were trying to cover it up."
A former Iranian security official went further, saying in a recent interview with The Times that workers removed 6 feet of topsoil from areas within Kalaye and rebuilt some rooms.
The earlier samples taken at Natanz, about 200 miles south of Tehran, found evidence of highly enriched uranium, but there are questions about its origin.
When IAEA officials were allowed in last February, they found a huge facility under construction. There was a pilot plant for enriching uranium by using gas centrifuges, and two underground halls to contain thousands of centrifuges.
Iran told the agency several times that it had developed its centrifuge program without outside help and without using enriched uranium, both assertions doubted by outside experts and some inspectors, according to interviews this summer and the report.
IAEA inspectors took environmental samples at Natanz between March and June. At a meeting with Iranian officials in July, the inspectors said one sample had tested positive for particles of highly enriched uranium, according to the report.
The Iranians said they would look into the matter. On Aug. 9, the Iranians told the agency that the particles had come from contamination of centrifuge components imported by Iran, according to the report.
But the inspectors replied that a new analysis completed since the July disclosure had revealed a second type of highly enriched uranium from a different centrifuge machine, the report said. Additional samples were still being analyzed, and the agency said it had not reached a final conclusion on the origin of the enriched uranium.
The agency said it was also investigating uranium conversion activities at research facilities using uranium chemicals imported secretly from China in 1991.
Iran had said it never used nuclear material in its research, according to the report. But after pressure from the inspectors, Iran acknowledged last week in a letter to the agency that it had undertaken uranium conversion experiments in the early 1990s.
Also for the first time, Iran said it had acquired some of its centrifuge technology from foreign entities. The countries were not identified in the report, but nuclear experts say the supplier is probably Pakistan.
"Several indications point to Pakistan," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, based in Washington. The centrifuge design and other components necessary to enrich uranium are similar to designs circulated by Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran27aug27001432,1,2038537.story?coll=la-headlines-world
Iran Urges Release Of Ex-diplomat at UK Straw Meeting
Dow Jones - World News
Aug 27, 2003
LONDON -- Iran has called on the U.K. for the speedy release of a former Iranian diplomat, arrested over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Euro-American affairs Ali Ahani met U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Tuesday to call for the former diplomat to be released, Iran's official news agency IRNA reports on its Web site.
Hadi Soleimanpour was arrested in the U.K. last Thursday for his alleged involvement in the Argentinian bombing.
An Argentine judge is seeking the extradition of eight Iranians, including Soleimanpour, Iran's ambassador to Argentina when the explosion killed dozens of people.
"The decision of the Argentine judiciary was politically-motivated and the verdict lacked validity," IRNA quoted Ahani as saying.
IRNA reported that Straw assured Ahani he would take all necessary steps within the framework of the U.K.'s judicial system.
The U.K. Foreign Office said Straw told Ahani that the arrest is a judicial matter and the government cannot intervene.
Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that Iran is threatening to expel the U.K.'s ambassador to Tehran and downgrade diplomatic relations over the arrest.
President Mohammad Khatami has referred to the arrest as "incorrect" and "tactless" and the row threatens to derail the U.K.'s "constructive engagement" policy with Tehran. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_1971.shtml
Iraq's leaky border with Iran
Christian Science Monitor - By James Hider
Aug 27, 2003
Iraqi border police say Arab fighters are being smuggled in as Shiite pilgrims.
AL MUNTHRIYA, IRAQ Iraq's border with Iran is an open door for thousands of Iranian Shiite pilgrims being smuggled across the frontier, say Iraqi police. And their numbers may also be swollen by Arab fighters.
Iraqi border police at the northeastern crossing point of Al Munthriya say that members of two leading Shiite parties in Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council are helping the illegal pilgrim trade, unwittingly aiding the passage of terrorists, spies, and saboteurs into the country.
Police say that Arab fighters from Afghanistan and members of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda may also be exploiting clandestine routes through the arid hill country on the frontier, where pilgrims dodge scant border controls with support from members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and Islamic Dawa.
Col. Nazzim Sherif Mohammed, commander of the Iraqi border police at Al Munthriya, says SCIRI and Dawa members have set up floating border posts in the desert and are providing guides to ferry pilgrims past official border posts to reach the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karabala.
Colonel Mohammed and his team say they doubt the parties' leaders are aware of the operations, but express frustration that groups linked to the country's emerging leadership could be inadvertently aiding terrorists.
"It is chaos. Anyone can come in and we can't control this. We can't tell who's a pilgrim and who's a terrorist," says Awat Dawoud, head of customs a Al Munthriya, where several hundred Kurds and former opposition members have joined the new coalition-backed border police force. "We captured some Iranians and brought them here. They told us that people from Dawa and Hakim's party [SCIRI] were taking $50" to bring people across the border, says Mohammed.
Adel Abdul Mehdi, a spokesman for SCIRI, says he has no knowledge of his party's involvement in the illegal pilgrim trade, which he notes had existed before the war when visits by Iranians were restricted.
But he admits that SCIRI members could be involved in bringing family members over from Iran. Most of the Iranians clandestinely crossing the border on foot or by truck are innocent pilgrims heading for the cities of Karbala and Najaf, to the south of Baghdad. The cities are home to the ornate shrines of Imam Hussein and Imam Ali, descendents of the prophet Muhammad.
None of the pilgrims has a visa as Iraq has not yet resumed its foreign consular services. In Najaf and Karbala, throngs of Iranian pilgrims in Islamic green bandannas and prayer shawls worship at the shrines every day, wielding video cameras and posing happily in groups outside mosques.
In some Najaf restaurants, the clientele are almost exclusively Iranians wolfing down chicken and rice after a long, arduous journey. One pilgrim says proudly he walked six days to reach Najaf from Iran. Others says they drove across in cars. All decline to give details of the crossing. Some estimate that as many as 2,000 people cross the border every day.
Najaf hotel owner Farhan Shibli says his rooms are booked solid with Iranian guests. He welcomes the economic bonanza during such lean times, but voices misgivings about their presence in the country. "They come as pilgrims but some are smugglers and some can be considered spies," he says. "It's quite possible there are saboteurs among them."
He says some of his guests act suspiciously, changing clothes several times a day, dressing as Westerners or Arabs or even foreign journalists. "The coalition should do something about this problem," he says.
Paul Bremer, the top US civilian administrator, said on Saturday that the country's borders are difficult to guard, despite having 2,500 personnel watching them.
"We'd clearly like to have greater control over the borders. We agree there is a problem and we are addressing it," he told reporters. http://search.csmonitor.com/search_content/0827/p17s01-woiq.html
US helps Iranians to bypass web censorship
Sidney Morning Herald - By Online Staff
Aug 27, 2003
Iranians who wish to bypass the restrictions placed on accessing certain web sites by their own government, can now do so courtesy the US government and the privacy company Anonymizer, according to a report at SecurityFocus.
The US has paid Anonymizer an undisclosed sum to provide any of the two million Iranians who are said to have internet access a free web proxy services which is designed to circumvent the online censorship instituted by Teheran, the report said.
Iran issued a list of 15,000 prohibited sites in May.
The free proxy only accepts connections from the Iranian IP address space and provides instructions in Farsi.
The URLs for the service are publicised over Radio Farda, an American station that broadcasts a mix of pop music and western news and is aimed at Iranian youth.
The report said the service was similar to one which had been provided to Chinese citizens by Anonymizer under a similar contract which ended earlier this year. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_1978.shtml
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