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posted on 08/30/2003 12:06:28 AM PDT
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posted on 08/30/2003 12:07:44 AM PDT
Irans"Crisis of Legitimacy" Could Prompt Authoritarian Political Alternative
August 29, 2003
The political gridlock caused by infighting between conservative and reformist forces in Iran has fostered what analysts in Tehran characterize as a "crisis of legitimacy." Growing popular apathy towards the political process is preparing the ground for a possible authoritarian alternative, some observers go on to warn.
Payman Morteza, a 26 year-old graphic designer, is one member of Irans legion of disillusioned. Morteza recalls how he was optimistic about Irans future after attending a 1997 campaign rally for the reform-minded cleric Mohammad Khatami, who went on to capture the presidency. "He spoke of freedom, of individual choice, of toleration," Morteza said. "It was an entirely new language for the Islamic Republic. We were so accustomed to hearing talk of revolution and sacrifice and foreign enemies."
Morteza, along with a group of friends, began campaigning for Khatami in his neighborhood. "We went into shops. We talked to people. We said: this man is different. Please vote for Khatami."
Today, six years later, Morteza like many Iranians has soured on Khatami and the reform movement, frustrated by the slow pace of change and the largely successful conservative resistance to reformist proposals. That frustration is now translating into apathy with politics.
"The reformists have been ineffective. ... I wont bother voting in the  Parliamentary elections or the  Presidential elections. Whats the use? The conservatives have the real power anyway," Morteza said.
Conservatives who still control the key levers of power, including the instruments of coercive force recently mounted an aggressive assault on the tottering reform movement. They blocked reformist legislation that would liberalize Iranian elections, jailed or effectively silenced leading reformist figures, chilled pro-democracy students with violent crackdowns in recent demonstrations, and sent a clear message that they do not intend to give up power lightly. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Developments in 2003 have stirred concern among political analysts about a brewing crisis. This "crisis of legitimacy" the exact phrase used by several analysts in interviews with EurasiaNet -- threatens the countrys grass-roots democracy movement and could shift popular sentiment toward outside calls for regime change, or strongman alternatives, they said.
"The defeat of the reform movement has de-legitimized the government," said Morad Saghafy, editor of the prestigious Goft-o-Gu intellectual quarterly. "Before Khatamis election, many people felt distant from the government. The reform movement brought millions of Iranians back to the regime and gave them hope that the Islamic Republic could change. The reformist failures have made many people think that the system is un-reformable. It is a double loss for the Islamic Republic."
On university campuses, in corner shops, in tree-filled parks, and wherever else Iranians gather, a blistering cynicism infects the air. "All those mullahs are the same," huffed one elderly shopkeeper in a small supermarket on Tehrans busy Shariati Street. "They are all corrupt thieves." A shopper disagreed: "I dont think the reformists are thieves. I think they tried, but clearly the conservatives have all the power and dont want to give it up. So, why should we back the reformists?" Another shopper pipes in: "This system needs to be uprooted entirely. We need an entirely new regime."
Such exchanges and talk of "regime change" have become common among a people who are also frustrated by a stagnant economy, double-digit inflation, and chronic unemployment. What worries many pro-democracy analysts is that, given the despair about the lack of change, Iranians may now seek what reformists describe as unpalatable options.
"These are precisely the kind of conditions that make Iranians long for a strongman, not a democrat," explained one journalist, who asked not to be named. "Thats why there is Reza Shah nostalgia among middle-class Iranians," he said, referring to Irans first Pahlavi king (1925-41), who is generally remembered as an iron-fisted modernizer. Books about the former king and the Pahlavi dynasty in general sell briskly, booksellers say.
Even a few intellectuals have succumbed to the "strongman" theory. At one reception, a well-regarded historian turned to a Tehran-based political analyst and said: "Why not have a strongman? This place is such a mess that we could use a modernizing autocrat."
Ali Reza Alavitabar, a reformist publisher and academic who has been in and out of jail for his pro-democracy views, worries about such talk. "In the past six years, we have built a strong, grass-roots democracy movement," he explains. "The democratic spirit that we have instilled over the past six years have fundamentally changed the contours of the political debate, and the mindset of the average Iranian. We must continue to move forward in this direction."
Morad Saghafy agrees. "We have far more democratic-minded people in Iran today than we did six years ago and, of course, far more than we did before 1979. All of the newspapers articles, the speeches, the voting, have had an effect," he said. "This is critical because you cant impose a democracy; you need democratic cadres."
Still, Alavitabar, Saghafy, and others admit that the conservatives have made it almost insurmountably difficult to proceed. "Politics has died," Saghafy says. "We are now simply witnessing the exertion of power."
Some Iranians have already begun looking for outside assistance. The leading pro-democracy student group, Daftar-e-Tahkim-e-Vahdat, wrote to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, seeking UN assistance in its struggle. The letter crossed an unwritten "red line," prompting the detention at gunpoint of several leaders of the organization. (They have been freed recently, "admitting" the error if their ways). [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Talk also swirls of an American "solution." Vanna Vanucci, an Italian journalist and long-time Iran observer, was stunned when she repeatedly heard from Iranians during the US war with Iraq: "When will the Americans liberate us?"
Recently, Hossein Khomeini, a mid-ranking opposition cleric and grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spoke positively of what he called "the American liberation of Iraq" and suggested that many Iranians would welcome American involvement in "Irans liberation."
When pressed, many Iranians admit to fearing the prospect of a US-engineered attempt to topple Irans existing political order. Concerns about Washingtons intentions and abilities are only growing as they witness the US troubles in reconstructing neighboring Iraq. The US woes are documented in exhaustive detail nightly on Irans state-run television news.
Mehrdad Serjooie, an Iranian journalist, puts it this way: "People want more political freedoms, more social freedoms, and a better economy. They just dont know where or how they will get these things. People are searching, wondering, and many are simply retreating, leaving their destinies to the winds of fate." The trouble is, say many analysts, the conservatives are effectively controlling the direction of those winds.
Editors Note: Afshin Molavi, a Washington-based journalist and frequent EurasiaNet contributor, recently returned from a three week reporting trip to Iran. http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav082903.shtml
posted on 08/30/2003 12:13:21 AM PDT
US sponsors Anonymiser - if you live in Iran
By Kevin Poulsen, SecurityFocus
Posted: 29/08/2003 at 15:26 GMT
A pact between the U.S. government and the electronic privacy company Anonymizer, Inc. is making the Internet a safer place for controversial websites and subversive opinions -- if you're Iranian.
This month Anonymizer began providing Iranians with free access to a Web proxy service designed to circumvent their government's online censorship efforts. In May, government ministers issued a blacklist of 15,000 forbidden "immoral" websites that ISPs in the country must block -- reportedly a mix of adult sites and political news and information outlets. An estimated two million Iranians have Internet access.
Among the banned sites are the website for the U.S.-funded Voice of America broadcast service, and the site for Radio Farda, another U.S. station that beams Iranian youth a mix of pop music and westernized news. Both stations are run by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the U.S. government's overseas news and propaganda arm.
The U.S. responded to the filtering this month by paying Anonymizer (neither the IBB nor Anonymizer will disclose how much) to create and maintain a special version of the Anonymizer proxy which only accepts connections from Iran's IP address space, and features instructions in Farsi.
The deliberately generic-sounding URLs for the service are publicized over Radio Farda broadcasts and through bulk e-mails that Anonymizer sends to addresses in the country. The addresses are provided by human rights groups and other sources, says Anonymizer president Lance Cottrell.
"We're providing a system whereby the people in the countries that are suffering Internet censorship can bypass the government filtering and access all the pages that are blocked," says Cottrell.
The services' navigation boxes default to Radio Farda or Voice of America, but surfers are invited to put in any address they like, and browse free of the Iranian government's filtering.
"Dissident sites, religious sites, the L.L. Bean catalog -- we point them to the Voice of America site, but they can go anywhere," says Ken Berman, program manager for Internet anticensorship at the IBB, "They're free explore the Internet in an unfettered fashion."
Mostly unfettered. Like the Iranian filters, the U.S. service blocks porn sites -- "There's a limit to what taxpayers should pay for," says Berman. But the United States' hope is that a freer flow of online information will improve America's image in the Arab world. The service is similar to one Anonymizer provided to Chinese citizens under a previous government contract that ran-out ended earlier this year.
Cottrell and Berman agree that it's only a matter of time before the Iranonymity service winds on the official blacklist. But Berman hints that the U.S. is ready for a prolonged electronic shell game with Tehran. "In China we're continually monitoring the state of the proxy, and when we see the traffic drop off, we change the proxy's address, usually within 24 hours," says Berman. "In Iran, we're prepared to change the proxy address every day if necessary."
A bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month would create an Office of Global Internet Freedom that would have up to a $50 million annual budget to help citizens of foreign repressive governments skirt Internet censorship. http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/55/32567.html
posted on 08/30/2003 12:16:04 AM PDT
Report on Iranian Nuclear Purchases Published in France
Voice of America - By John Laurenson
Aug 29, 2003
The French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), has published extracts from a French government report detailing attempts by Iran to buy nuclear equipment from a number of countries, including France. The document, confirmed to VOA by François Heisbourg, director of France's Strategic Research Institute, reinforces U.S. suspicions that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons.
On Tuesday, the U.N.'s nuclear monitor, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said it is concerned about several aspects of Iran's atomic program after it found traces of enriched uranium in environmental samples from an Iranian nuclear facility.
A day later, the AFP news agency, published extracts of a confidential official document drawn up by a group of French experts on Iran's nuclear procurement program. According to the report, the list of Iranian purchasing attempts in the French nuclear industry, quote, "clearly points to the development of large capacities in terms of reprocessing and spent fuel manipulation."
Reprocessed uranium can be used to make atomic weapons.
François Heisbourg, director of France's Strategic Research Institute, tells VOA the report's conclusions point to a significantly heightened risk of Iran getting the bomb.
"What is new is that the Iranians, aside from going down the uranium enrichment route, which everybody has been talking about and which people are legitimately worried about," he said. "What this says is that the Iranians are also attempting to pursue the reprocessing route. The Iranians are trying to go down both the Hiroshima road and the Nagasaki road: two technically very different approaches, one is through uranium enrichment, the other is through the extraction of plutonium from spent fuel. If the latter is true, and it is certainly the French assessment that it is true, there is not only one basic reason to be worried about the Iranians there are two basic reasons to be worried about the Iranians."
The French government reportedly presented the document to a meeting in South Korea in May of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, or NSG, a group of 40 countries seeking to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.
The report, among other things, says Tehran tried to buy 10 high-density radiation shielding windows from a French manufacturer in late 2000. In 2002, the report said, an Iranian company based in the United Arab Emirates tried to buy from another French company 28 remote manipulators, half of which could be used to reprocess and manipulate plutonium.
The report, which was also quoted recently by The Los Angeles Times in its lengthy article on Iran's nuclear program, cautions other governments to exercise, in its words, "the most serious vigilance on their exports to Iran and Iranian front companies." http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2037.shtml
posted on 08/30/2003 12:19:37 AM PDT
Russia to delay signing key nuclear agreement with Iran
AFP - World News (Via Yahoo)
Aug 29, 2003
Moscow announced on Friday that it would delay until the end of the year signing a key agreement with Iran that would launch the Islamic state's first nuclear reactor.
The unexpected statement from Russia's atomic energy ministry appeared to be a direct concession to frequently-expressed US and Israeli concerns that the project could help Iran develop a nuclear weapons programme.
Russia and Iran had planned to sign an agreement under which Moscow would provide fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant that it has been helping build in southern Iran.
In return, Tehran was to agree to return all of the reactor's spent fuel to Russia for reprocessing, officials in Moscow had said.
Western states, notably the United States, fear that if Iran keeps the fuel it may later reprocess it to create low-grade nuclear weapons.
The Unites States had pressed Russia not to sign the agreement until Iran allows open inspections by teams from the United Nations of its military installations.
Russia's atomic energy spokesman Alexander Agapov told the Interfax news agency that the new protocol with Iran may not be signed for several more months.
"Generally, all disputes will be resolved by the end of the year," Agapov was quoted as saying. He blamed the delay on the Iranians.
"The delivery of fuel is constantly being delayed because Iran has no final document on a reaction to a possible emergency" during the transport of fuel, the Russian spokesman said.
"We cannot carry (spent nuclear fuel into Russia) until we are convinced it will be transported safely to a temporary storage facility," he added.
He added that a group of Russian experts would travel to Iran on September 21 to help resolve the problem.
Russia's decision came before a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, which is due to discuss the Iranian question during September 8-11. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2038.shtml
posted on 08/30/2003 12:20:34 AM PDT
Graham doubts guilt of Iranian women
National Post - By Michael Friscolanti
Aug 29, 2003
Minister will seek UN human rights probe in murder of Montrealer
Bill Graham, the Foreign Affairs Minister, suggested for the first time yesterday that Iran might have arrested and charged the wrong people in connection with Zahra Kazemi's murder.
Mr. Graham, whose comments stopped just short of alleging a cover-up, expressed doubts about the guilt of two Iranian women who have been ordered to stand trial for the killing.
He also said Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran's chief prosecutor -- and one of Canada's contacts on the case -- is "potentially implicated" in the violent beating that ultimately killed the Montreal photojournalist.
Mr. Mortazavi met for 90 minutes on Wednesday with Canadian consular officials, who showed him numerous news stories linking him to the torture of the 54-year-old journalist.
He sidestepped the questions, saying only that such accusations would make anyone unhappy.
"Obviously, this is someone who is potentially implicated in the case himself and that meeting took place in the understanding that that was possibly the case," Mr. Graham told reporters during a conference call from Denver, where he is attending NORAD-related meetings.
"My understanding is that he was pressed by our consular officials and that the answers that were given were unsatisfactory. But that doesn't mean that the questions weren't asked."
Human rights organizations and Iranian opposition groups suspect the country's hard-line judiciary, under intense international pressure to close the case, charged two low-ranking female intelligence officers in order to deflect blame from Mr. Mortazavi and other senior officials.
Mr. Graham said he had no evidence to support such claims, but at the same time questioned the results of the Iranian investigation up to this point.
"It's clear that nobody accepts the fact that these people are likely to be responsible," he said of the women, adding later: "One finds it difficult to believe that two lower-level people would be responsible for Madame Kazemi's death without the orders of people from higher up."
Mr. Mortazavi told officials on Wednesday that a judicial inquiry into the freelance journalist's murder, being conducted by Judge Javad Esmaeili, could be finished by next week. He promised to forward it to the Canadian embassy in Iran as soon as it is done.
"Next week, if we're still being stalled on the report, we'll examine then what we should be doing," Mr. Graham said, adding that now is not the time for sanctions. "Let's find out exactly what we can by keeping the pressure and see where the process leads before we make any steps that would be premature."
Mr. Graham also said yesterday he plans to ask the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to order its own probe into Ms. Kazemi's murder, calling on the Iranian government to immediately welcome a special rapporteur on freedom of expression.
Critics said it is about time.
"Only by raising the pressure and the sting of international embarrassment can we get the attention of despotic regimes like this one," said Stockwell Day, the foreign affairs critic for the Canadian Alliance. "It's amazing that it's only taken him eight weeks since the murder of a Canadian citizen for him to realize that he's not dealing with nice people."
Ms. Kazemi, an Iranian ex-patriot and Canadian citizen, was arrested on June 23 for snapping pictures of Tehran's Evin prison. Following a violent interrogation, she was transported to hospital with a brain hemorrhage.
She died on July 10 and was later buried -- against the wishes of her family -- in Iran. Iran initially denied any responsibility for her demise, insisting the alleged spy suffered a stroke. Officials later confirmed she was beaten to death. The subsequent investigation into her murder has exposed a growing rift between Iran's hardline conservative judiciary and its elected reformists, who insist the accused women, both employees of the Intelligence Ministry, are scapegoats.
New details emerged yesterday that suggest the judiciary suspected Ms. Kazemi of funnelling US$200,000 to various student organizations in Iran.
The Dallas-based Student Movement Co-ordination Committee for Democracy in Iran, citing unnamed sources, said five people, including Mr. Mortazavi and Ellias Mahmoudi, the head of the judiciary's intelligence unit, were present during Ms. Kazemi's interrogation and subsequent beating.
Aryo Pirouznia, a spokesman for the organization, told the National Post the money transfer accusations -- which he dismissed as "pure falsification" -- were trumped up in an effort to suppress growing student protests in the region. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2040.shtml
posted on 08/30/2003 12:22:33 AM PDT
Iran Mourns Shia Leader
August 30, 2003
Iran has declared three days of official mourning for Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, who had made his home in Tehran for more than two decades.
The ayatollah enjoyed close relations with Iranian power circles, although that did not prevent his movement from negotiating with the Americans and taking part in the new US-backed administration in Baghdad.
Iranian officials have said that the ultimate responsibility for the instability lies with the occupation.
Iran had invested heavily in Ayatollah Hakim and his Supreme Council; it is clearly feeling his loss as a major blow.
As an exile who had made his home in Teheran since 1980 he had a highly unusual position and status here.
No other foreign group was allowed to run what amounted to a well-equipped private army on Iranian soil.
The Supreme Council's Badr Brigade was even allowed to mount military parades to show off their tanks and heavy guns.
That unique status was reflected in the equally unusual decision to honour the late ayatollah with three days of national mourning.
His most important relationship was with the office of the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ayatollah Khamenei issued a statement saying the incident was further proof of the insecurity and instability spread by Iraq's occupiers.
The Iranian Government also issued a statement condemning the outrage and laying the blame firmly on the occupation forces.
It said they were responsible under international law for maintaining security in the country.
There is little doubt that Iranian leaders are sincerely shaken by the death of the ayatollah and his entourage.
Although they are highly critical of the American-led occupation of Iraq, they insist that their main concern and interest is to see the country emerge as a stable and non-threatening neighbour - a prospect that may have suffered a severe setback. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3193361.stm
Journalist Pirouz Davani, Missing for 5 Years, is Glaring Case of Impunity
August 29, 2003
Reportes Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders called today on Iran to seriously investigate the disappearance of Pirouz Davani, editor of the newspaper Pirouz, who vanished from his home in late August 1998.
Davani, whose body was never found, belonged to the pro-Soviet communist party Tudeh in the 1980s and was imprisoned as a result from 1982 to 1989. The authorities have never showed any interest in solving his disappearance and those responsible for it thus enjoy total impunity.
The press freedom organisation noted that international law has established that disappearance is a form of torture, for the victim's family as well as the victim, when the person is being held in a secret place. It urged the Iranian authorities to find out and say what happened to him, for the sake of justice and his family and friends.
Davani appears to have been murdered. The newspaper Kar-e-Karagar on 28 November 1998 reported rumours he had been "executed." In late November 2000, Akbar Ganji, of the paper Sobh-é-Emrouz, who was working on the case, confirmed the rumours and said Mohsseni Ejehi, the prosecutor of the special ecclesiastical court, was involved in the killing. Regime officials have never commented on this. Last December, Davani's family filed a complaint before the UN Commission for Human Rights.
Iran, where killers of journalists walk free
Several intellectuals and regime opponents were murdered in Iran in November and December 1998, including Daryush and Parvaneh Foruhar (prominent liberals), Majid Sharif, columnist of the monthly Iran-é-Farda, and writers and journalists Mohamad Mokhtari and Mohamad Jafar Pouyandeh. The killings outraged much of the reformist press. The authorities set up a commission of enquiry and in January 1999, the intelligence ministry officially admitted its agents were involved and announced the arrest of dozens of suspects.
Three intelligence ministry officials were sentenced to death and 12 others to prison terms in January 2001 for murdering the Foruhars. Three other people suspected of being involved were acquitted. The case was sent to the supreme court which confirmed the verdict. Two of the group were jailed for 15 years. The victims' families pointed out that those who ordered the killings had not been touched.
More recently, Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, who lived in Canada, was arrested on 23 June this year 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 trying to cover up the cause of her death, the authorities admitted she had been beaten.
Her body was hastily buried on 22 July in the southern town of Shiraz. The fiercely anti-media Teheran prosecutor, Judge Said Mortazavi, reportedly tried to cover up her death and pushed for a quick burial.
Two employees of the pro-reformist intelligence ministry were charged on 25 August by the Teheran prosecutor's office with "complicity in semi-intentional murder." But the ministry immediately denied they were involved, saying it had proof that legal officials had been involved, without giving details. The power-struggle between the regime's hardliners and reformists have so far obstructed efforts to find out the truth.
Ali Khamenei, predator of press freedom
Ali Khamenei, Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic, is on the Reporters Without Borders worldwide list of "predators of press freedom." Since the 1997 election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, a power-struggle has raged between Khatami and Khamenei, the country's top religious and political leader, who controls the judiciary. This has involved a crackdown on the media, which largely backed the Khatami at the 1997 and 2001 elections.
Iran is the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, with 20 presently detained. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=7877
Plight of Iran's Journalists Worsening
August 28, 2003
Reportes Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders said today the plight of Iran's journalists was worsening, with further arrests, police summonses and threats, while the country's hardline rulers continued to obstruct investigation of the detention death of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi.
Issa Saharkhiz, reformist editor of the monthly magazine Aftab (Soleil), was summoned on 26 August by the 7th division of the Teheran prosecutor's office and interrogated about alleged statements about him made to police by Iraj Jamshidi, editor of the suspended business daily Assia, who was arrested in mid-July. The hardline paper Resalat had accused him the previous day of corruption.
On the day of his summons, Saharkhiz had posted a letter on the Internet threatening to sue the paper and Ayatollah Hashemi Shahrudi, head of the conservative-dominated judiciary. He had earlier been arrested and jailed on 15 July for "making propaganda against the regime." He was freed on bail two days later.
Several journalists have been summoned in recent days by the Adareh Amaken section of the Teheran police that deals with "ethical" offences and is controlled by Teheran prosecutor Judge Said Mortazavi. Amirrezza Noorisadeh, who works for the newspapers Mosigi Magam and Cinamye Jahan, has been forced to report to police every day for the past week. Mostafa Kovakabian, editor of the reformist daily Mardomsalari (Democracy), was summoned on 17 August and put under investigation on three counts of publishing articles about the Kazemi case. More than 50 journalists were summoned between mid-July and mid-August (during the Persian month of Mordad), according to Reporters Without Borders.
The current risky situation for journalists was shown by the 16 August kidnapping of Hassan Raghifar, the elderly editor of the regional weekly Asan (in the northern city of Tabriz), who was tortured by his four kidnappers who interrogated him about his work and threatened to kill him for what had written. His paper had reported on the arrest and torture of journalists.
There is still no word of Iraji Jamshidi or of Ismaeli Jamshidi, editor of the suspended newspaper Gardon, who were arrested on 6 and 7 July. But Amir Ezati, of Mahnameh Film, was freed on 30 June after 123 days in prison, 60 of them in solitary confinement, after being accused of translating and distributing Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses," which is banned in Iran. During a search of his house, police found an extract from the book that Ezati had printed out from an Internet website. His trial has been set for mid-September.
Iran is the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, with 20 presently detained. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=7872
IAEA: Iran Has Given the World the Run-around
August 30, 2003
The Jerusalem Post
A recent report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran shows Tehran has lied about its nuclear programme but offers no proof that the country is developing atomic weapons, diplomats and nuclear experts in Vienna said this week.
Iran says its nuclear project is designed to generate electricity for civilian use. Israel and the US claim Iran has embarked on a nuclear weapons program which could be online within one year.
The IAEA report, extracts of which have been released to the media, and which the UN's nuclear watchdog is due to unveil in September, says the IAEA has found material indicative of different phases of uranium enrichment at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz.
IAEA Secretary General Mohamed El Baradei this week told reporters the discovery of "highly enriched uranium" in Iran was "very worrying".
The report says UN inspectors also found UF-4 (uranium tetra fluoride) and UF-6 (uranium hexafluoride), molecular compounds used in the enrichment process, in nuclear centrifuges in Iran. El Baradei agreed that Iran, and other nations, had a history of misleading the world about their nuclear programs.
"They [Iran, pre-war Iraq and North Korea] have been giving the international community the run-around," he said.
"IAEA inspectors found two different types of highly enriched particles. You do not need that to make nuclear power," one Western diplomat told AFP.
In an interview on the BBC television program 'Hardtalk', Mohamed El Baradei said that Iran's nuclear program had been going on far longer than the agency had realized. "It would have been easier for us to complete our job if we knew what was going on as early as the mid 1980s," El Baradei said. "Now we have to go 20 years back."
El Baradei called on Iran to quickly sign a protocol giving the IAEA the right to carry out intrusive, short notice inspections across the country. "The international community's getting very concerned, very impatient," EI Baradei said about the situation in Iran.
El Baradei added that his agency was aware that Iran had shopped for nuclear components on the international black market and called on Tehran to disclose "the full and complete story, and be more proactive and transparent." Although he would not be drawn to disclose the names of the countries that made the equipment Iran had acquired on the black market, EI Baradei said he had a "pretty good idea" which ones they were.
"It could be one country, it could be more than one country," El Baradei said. "They (Iran) told us they have got a lot of that stuff from the black market. It is through intermediaries. It is not directly from the country."
France said in May in a report to the 40-state Nuclear Supplier's Group (NSG) that Iran has tried to buy nuclear material from French manufacturers and estimated it "could develop nuclear weapons within a few years". The NSG is a group of states that cooperate to ensure that nuclear exports are made only under appropriate safeguards, physical protection, nonproliferation conditions, and other appropriate constraints.
The IAEA's board of governors is slated to convene in early September. Should it pronounce Iran in violation, the issue could then reach the UN Security Council and trigger possible deliberations on sanctions.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana asked Iran to agree to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities as a key demand for closer EU trade ties, an EU official told reporters on Friday. His spokeswoman Christina Gallach told Reuters: ''No doubt about that. Full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency is requested and sought from the Iranian authorities.The position of the European Union is that Iran has to sign the Additional Protocol,'' she said.
Solana is expected to meet Iran's President Mohammad Khatami and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Saturday, and may also hold talks with Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.
"We don't have any programs to develop nuclear weapons,'' Kharazi told CNN in an interview. Iran will accept more intrusive inspections "as long as Iran's rights and dignity'' are respected, he said.
According to a report published Friday in the Washington Times, Israel has made plans to bomb an Iranian nuclear power plant if it begins producing weapons grade material.
Military commanders have mapped out a route Israeli fighter jets would take to destroy the Bushehr reactor on the Persian Gulf, the Washington Times reported.
Israeli jets bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981, a move condemned by most of the International community at that time. Analysts however believe Israel's strike stopped Saddam Hussein from acquiring a nuclear bomb.
According to the report in the Washington Times, U.S. Central Command has contingency plans for war with Iran, but there is "no active discussion of invading [Iran]" to take out its nuclear plant.
Russia has been helping Iran build its first nuclear plant for eight years in a deal worth 500 million ($546 million) to cash-strapped Moscow.
Both Russia and Iran say Iran's nuclear plans are purely for civilian energy purposes. Israel and the US say Iran could use the technology to build a bomb, a charge Iran strongly denies. The EU has stopped short of accusing Iran of developing a nuclear weapons program, but has urged Iran to remove all doubt by submitting to sport inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Friday that Iran is likely to reach the point of no return for nuclear capability within one year and called on Russia to stop providing the Islamic Republic with assistance, Israel Radio reported.
Shalom added that a nuclear Iran could change the strategic balance in the Middle East.
Iran has vowed repeatedly to "wipe Israel off the map".
Iran, a signatory to the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has tested 600-mile-range ballistic missiles that can reach Israel and carry nuclear, biological or chemical warheads.
Israel's nuclear capabilities will be open to discussion for the first time at an international conference organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on September 15-19. The topic, 'Israeli Nuclear Capabilities and Threats' would be on the agenda at the IAEA's conference.
The Arab League proposal for the discussion was submitted by Oman. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1062228118795
Jordanian Monarch to make Landmark Visit to Iran
August 30, 2003
AMMAN -- Jordan's King Abdullah II is to make a much-delayed visit to Iran on Tuesday expected to seal a long rift in diplomatic relations, officials said Saturday.
During the two-day visit Abdullah will hold talks with President Mohammad Khatami and other officials on the situation in the Middle East, especially war-torn Iraq, the officials said.
They are also to focus on the situation in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and ways of bolstering bilateral relations. The monarch will be accompanied by Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb.
In preparation for the visit several Iranian officials have visited Jordan in the past few months, including presidential envoy Seyyed Mohammad Sadr who in April delivered a message for Abdullah to Khatami on Iraq and ways of guaranteeing peace and security for the volatile region.
Abdullah's visit is expected to seal diplomatic ties between Iran and Jordan which were restored in 1991 after a 10-year break, during which Tehran criticised the late King Hussein's over his ties with the late Iranian shah and his support for Baghdad in the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iraq war.
Relations improved after Abdullah took the throne in February 1999, and the monarch met with Khatami on the fringes of the millennium summit in New York in September 2000.
The monarch's wife, Queen Rania al-Abdullah, paid a visit to the Islamic Republic in July 2000.
But Abdullah indefinitely postponed the visit to Tehran which was to have taken place in February 2001 amid a diplomatic spat last year, when Jordan decided to recall its ambassador who was at the center of new tensions with Tehran.
At the time, Iranian newspapers charged that Ambassador Bassam Amush had angered the Iranian authorities by accusing Tehran of "interfering" in Jordan's "security issues". http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=17688&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
By AMIR TAHERI
August 30, 2003 -- WHO killed Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim?
One of the principal political leaders of Iraqi Shi'ism, Hakim, who had returned from 24 years of exile in Iran after the fall of Saddam Hussein, died in a car bomb yesterday as he was coming out of the traditional Friday prayers held at the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf.
Let us begin with a standard murder-investigation question: Who profits from the crime? In the case of Hakim, three potential profiteers-from-crime come to mind.
* The first, and possibly the likeliest, are the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime.
For almost two decades, the Ba'athist regime regarded the late Shi'ite leader as its principal enemy. Over the years, the Ba'athists killed large numbers of Hakim's family, including his eldest brother, and tried for years to bribe many more to submit to Saddam's rule, but with no success.
By murdering Hakim, the remnants of the Ba'ath Party may be trying to extend the current violence in Iraq to the heartland of Shi'ism, which has so far been generally calm.
This is a strategy of chaos designed to raise the cost of occupation while persuading world public opinion that Iraq is running out of control. The remnants of the Ba'athists know that the stabilization of the Shi'ite heartland is the key step towards normalization in Iraq.
* A second possibility is the group of shady characters formed around Muqtada Sadr, a young Shi'ite mullah who is desperately looking for a role in postwar Iraq. Sadr's current aim is to eliminate all others who may provide the Shi'ites with leadership.
Sadr, who recently visited Tehran to win support from the Islamist regime there, has not openly challenged the U.S.-led coalition. In fact, his group has cooperated with the coalition forces to keep tension under control, especially in parts of Baghdad.
His current strategy seems to be aimed at presenting himself as the sole credible interlocutor for Tehran and Washington, at a time when Iran and the United States are becoming involved in what amounts to a proxy war in Iraq.
The young Sadr has denied any role in the murder. But suspicions that his group was involved will not go away. The murder last spring of religious leader Abdel-Majid Khoi, also in Najaf, and the assassination of several other Shi'ite clerics in the past four months have established a pattern that leads back to the Sadr group.
* The third possibility is the group of hard-line Khomeinists in Tehran who see Iraq as a battleground between their brand of "Islamic revolution" and the United States.
Having publicly warned Hakim not to join the recently created Governing Council in Baghdad, Tehran hard-liners could present his murder as a warning to others who might wish to cooperate with the U.S.-led coalition.
Iranian Khomeinists have been angered by Hakim's repeated assertions that he and his party do not regard present-day Iran as a model. Hakim's espousal of a secular and democratic system for Iraq was a serious blow to Tehran's ruling mullahs, who have always dreamed of "exporting" their revolution to other Muslim countries.
Iraq, the biggest of only three Arab states where Shi'ites are the majority, was always seen by the Khomeinists as the prime target for an Islamist revolution.
The use of a car bomb to kill Hakim also points the finger at the Lebanese branch of the Hezbollah, an organization created and financed by Iran since 1983. (It is also possible that Mafia-style elements gave a helping hand.) The Lebanese Hezbollah is the only Shi'ite group to have publicly denounced the liberation of Iraq as an "attack on Islam."
And its spiritual leader, Muhammad-Hussein Fadhlallah, has attacked Hakim and accused him of collaborating with "Zionist-Crusader enemies." Last March, the Hezbollah leader was one of few Muslim clerics who declared jihad to save Saddam Hussein's regime.
Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese Hezbollah's secretary-general, has declared Iraq "a battlefield" and dispatched scores of fighters there. (Some 50 have been captured by the coalition.)
BEYOND the immediate control of the most important city in Shi'ism, the current struggle for power in Najaf could have a lasting impact on how Iraq's future will be shaped.
Divided, Iraqi Shi'ites will have little chance of using their demographic strength to claim a leading role in a new Iraqi government. Their infighting could also make it impossible for a democratic pluralist system to be installed, forcing Iraq to return to the tradition of despotic rulers that began in 1958.
Hakim's tragic death increases pressure on the religious hierarchy in Najaf, especially Grand Ayatollah Ali Muhammad Sistani, the primus inter pares of Shi'ite clerics in Iraq.
Sistani faces a big dilemma. His theological position, a form of quietism, is based on the belief that clerics should not interfere in government, and that religion and politics should have distinct spaces.
Right now, however, Iraqi Shi'ites need some leadership that can only come from their religious leaders.
Iraqi Shi'ites have not had the time or the opportunity to create and develop proper political parties. And the few organized political groups that they have, are ridden with factional feuds.
Hakim's elimination from the scene is likely to destabilize the Iraqi situation in the short run. In the medium- and longer-run, however, it is unlikely to have much effect.
Hakim's political organization, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, can quickly choose a new leader, possibly another member of the family, and continue playing its role in this period of transition.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/39549.htm
posted on 08/30/2003 12:56:37 PM PDT
To: DoctorZIn; F14 Pilot; dixiechick2000
I thought you would be interested in this photo I took while I was on vacation in California. The picture was taken on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.
Pretty interesting, huh?
posted on 08/30/2003 1:20:48 PM PDT
The Danger is Very Close
August 31, 2003
Babak Dehghanpisheh and Christopher Dickey
Be careful and alert, warned the Ayatollah, because the danger is very close to us. Above him rose the golden dome of the Imam Ali Mosque in the Iraqi city of Najaf, one of the holiest shrines in Islam.
The ayatollah, Mohamad Baqir al Hakim, had waited through more than two decades of Iranian exile to return here to worship with his followers and to shape the destiny of his country. The American overthrow of Saddam Hussein gave him that chance. His younger brother now sits on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. But with Iraq sliding toward chaos, al Hakim saw the risks ahead for him and for his people. He spoke passionately, on the edge of tears. One day, he said, our movement may be wiped out.
MINUTES LATER the turbaned cleric left the mosque through its south gate. A handful of bodyguards flanked him, their walkie-talkies to their ears, shouldering through masses of worshipers toward a street where vendors sold posters of Shiite Islams martyred heroes. Among them were pictures of 24 relatives of al Hakims murdered by Saddam, superimposed on a map of Iraq dripping with blood. the hakim family, it read. a family of knowledge and martyrdom.
A Toyota Land Cruiser waited for him, just ahead. But before al Hakim and his entourage could drive off, a thunderous blast ripped through the area, shooting a plume of flame into the sky and peppering the inlaid brick walls of the ancient mosque with burning shrapnel. The whole street turned into fire, says Abdul Halim Amer, 35, an engineer who sustained severe burns and a large gash on his head. There was nowhere to run. The explosion, thought to be a car bomb, left a three-foot crater in the asphalt and mangled cars within a 30-foot radius.
When a NEWSWEEK reporter arrived on the scene, some of the wounded and the dead lay in the street; female victims were wrapped in their black abayas or covered in bright cloth from a nearby market. The air was heavy with the stink of blood and fuel. We could barely recognize Sayed Hakims body, says Sheik Haqil Zalemi, 40, a Najaf cleric. It was obvious he was finished. At least 84 others were also killed, and more than 140 wounded. As one ambulance pulled away from the scene, a man in a bloodied white tunic ran close behind, beating himself on the head and asking, Who? Who could have done this?
It was the third devastating bomb attack by a faceless enemyor enemiesin less than a month, and in many ways the greatest challenge yet to American hopes that Iraq can soon be stabilized. Since major combat operations ended on May 1, American forces have taken casualties almost daily, mainly at the hands of loosely organized Sunni guerrilla groups identified with the old regime. The attacks on the Jordanian Embassy and the U.N. headquarters targeted Americas international allies. Now a key leader of the Shiite majority in the country, who had broadly supported the American efforts, is gone. And his death could easily widen the bitter rifts among Iraqis themselves, not only turning Shiite against Sunni, but Shiite against Shiite.
No clear culprits in the earlier bombings have yet been found, and its far too early to say who was behind this one. In Washington, some right-wingers are already pointing the finger at Iran. They suggest it may have wanted to retaliate against a former client who was growing too friendly with the United States. On the ground, officials connected with the Coalition and its appointed Iraqi council dismissed such speculation. There is no doubt that this is the work of Saddam loyalists, the same people who did the U.N. bombing, says a spokesman for council member Ahmad Chalabi. Anyone who knows anything about Islam will tell you that no Shia would ever put a bomb in the shrine of Imam Ali. This is the holiest place for Shias outside Mecca, and it is simply inconceivable that this could be an Iranian or inter-Shia attack.
Yet after 35 years of totalitarian rule, its hard for many Iraqis to parse verifiable facts from conspiratorial rumors. Sanctity didnt stop Shiite killers from murdering another prominent ayatollah near the same shrine in April. What will matter now, as the Americans and friendly Shiite leaders try to calm the current situation, is who people think was responsible for al Hakims death. And already some are blaming the United States.
Especially worrisome are statements attributed to Moqtada al-Sadr, the son of a revered ayatollah murdered by Saddam in 1999. Although he has little religious standing, al-Sadr has shown himself capable of rallying enormous, impassioned crowds to his anti-American banner. The Americans will not protect our clerics nor let us provide that protection because the Americans are the enemy, said a spokesman for al-Sadr, speaking on Al Arabiya television after Fridays bombing.
Then again, many Iraqis, including residents of Najaf, believe it was al-Sadr who ordered the earlier murder near the Imam Ali shrine and possibly last weeks attack. Rival Shiite leaders say privately that al-Sadrs organization was penetrated by Saddams agents in the 1990s. These leaders suspect that the group may still harbor covert Saddam supporters. And the murkiness doesnt end there. Because al-Sadr is not himself a high-ranking Islamic scholar, he depends on another ayatollah to give his organization religious direction and credibility: Kadhem al-Husseini al-Haeri, who is based in Iran.
The challenge for the American occupiers is to navigate this maze of theological and political conspiracy. After the Friday bombing, Coalition chief L. Paul Bremer III blamed nameless enemies of the new Iraq, and offered deepest sympathy to the families of the dead and injured. It was heartfelt, well meant. But not nearly enough. The danger now is that even those Iraqis who have cooperated with Americawho have hoped that American forces can somehow stop the madnesswill lose faith.
With Mark Hosenball in Washington and Christian Caryl in Baghdad http://www.msnbc.com/news/959550.asp
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