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posted on 08/31/2003 12:01:08 AM PDT
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posted on 08/31/2003 12:02:23 AM PDT
Iraq closes its border with Iran following death of Hakim
AFP - World News (via Iranmania)
Aug 30, 2003
KUWAIT CITY - Iraq's interim Governing Council requested the closure Saturday of the Iraq-Iran border to prevent an influx of mourners at the funeral of slain Iraqi Shiite leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, a British military spokesman said.
"The interim Governing Council has requested that the border with Iran be closed today for the funeral of Hakim. It is a decision by the Iraqi body, we will carry out their request," Captain Hisham Halawi told a press conference here.
Halawi, spokesman for the British forces occupying southern Iraq, said the border would be closed only on Saturday.
Hakim will be buried on Tuesday in Najaf, 180 kilometres (110 miles) south of Baghdad, the holy city where he was assassinated Friday in a car bomb blast outside the Tomb of Ali mosque, his nephew told AFP in Najaf.
Ammar Abdel Aziz al-Hakim also said plans were underway to hold a funeral procession in Baghdad's Shiite neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah on Sunday at 7:00 am (0300 GMT).
On Monday, his body will be transported to the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Baghdad, before it is returned to Najaf for burial, the nephew said.
The British spokesman also denied reports that the border had recently been closed.
"There is no substance to that, there was no closure of the (Iran) border with Iraq a few days ago," he said.
Asked whether Hakim's assassination would adversely affect relations between British coalition forces in southern Iraq and the mainly Shiite Muslim population in the area, Halawi said, if anything, the attack, which killed 82 others and wounded 175, would bring the two sides closer to track down the culprits.
"I can't see it having a negative effect on our efforts because Hakim had made it clear that he was willing to cooperate and he wanted to work with the coalition in order to bring about a prosperous Iraq.
"And this act of terrorism, it's a blow but we're working together with the Iraqi authorities, with the Governing Council, to bring these perpetrators to justice" and continue striving for a better Iraq, Halawi said.
A police source told AFP Saturday that four non-Iraqi Arabs detained by Iraqi police had confessed to the Najaf attack.
"They confessed to the attack," the source said, although he would not say if they revealed on whose behalf they carried it out. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2052.shtml
posted on 08/31/2003 12:10:36 AM PDT
EU told Iran "sign the additional protocols or face sanctions"
Iran Press Service - Report Section
Aug 30, 2003
TEHRAN - The European Union warned the Islamic Republic on Saturday that it may faces international sanctions if it does not sign the additional protocols to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"The soonest you sign the protocols and open all of your nuclear programs to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, the better for you and for us", Mr. Xavier Solana, the European Unions "super" Minister for security and foreign affairs said in Tehran.
Speaking at a joint conference with the Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi in Tehran, Mr. Solana said bluntly: "If you don't sign the protocol it will be a bad news for you, for, this is not a bargain, expecting a reward from doing it", he explained.
The 15-25 members European Union has warned Iran that without credible guarantees concerning its atomic projects, it would review a Trade and Cooperation Agreement Tehran is keen to sign, for it would give Iran would greater access to the huge European market.
The IAEA has given Iran until 8 September to sign an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow IAEA inspectors to descend on its nuclear sites without warning to ensure that Tehran is not secretly developing atomic weapons.
The United States and Israel accuses the Islamic Republic for having secret plans aimed at producing atomic bomb out of facilities destined for civilian use, like the nuclear powered electrical plant it is constructing in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr with the help of Russia.
But Tehran insists that it is not building up a nuclear-based military arsenal and all its atomic projects are for civilian purposes.
So far, Iran has adamantly refused to bow to the international pressures, demanding that in return for signing the additional protocols, the IAEA provide it with advanced nuclear technologies.
Meeting the EU Minister, President Mohammad Khatami reiterated that Islam prohibited atomic weapons. "Atomic weapons have no place in Iran's defense policy", Khatami said, adding however that Iran had an "absolute right to peaceful nuclear technology".
Solana met high-ranking Iranian officials one day after IAEA Director Moahammad el-Bradei told the BBC that Iran had shopped for nuclear components on the international black market and called on Tehran to be more "proactive" and "transparent".
In the interview aired on Friday, he also said Iran's nuclear program had been going on "far longer than the agency had realised".
IAEA inspectors in their last survey of Iranian atomic-related installations found substantial amount of radioactivity in areas near Natanz, in central Iran and site of the countrys secret installations for enriching uranium.
Mr. Kharrazi explained that the equipments had been radio activated before their import to Iran, but he refused to say from which country Iran had purchased the equipments.
Mr. El-Bradei said although he was not certain of the countries that made the equipment Iran had acquired on the black market, but he had a "pretty good idea" which ones they were.
Media reports have named Pakistan, a nuclear weapons state that has refused to sign the nuclear 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as one of countries whose nuclear technology Iran is believed to be using.
But both Tehran and Islamabad have denied the reports.
"If that process of enrichment has taken place, this has nothing do with a program for peaceful use of nuclear fuel," Solana told reporters.
Stopping short of accusing the Islamic Republic of lying to him about its atomic projects for military purposes, the IAEA Chief said Iran had failed to give the IAEA a complete picture of its nuclear programs.
"They have not really been fully transparent in telling us in advance what was going on", Mr. El-Baradei told the BBC, according to a Reuters dispatch from Vienna, where IAEA is based.
Asked if he believed Iran was running a secret weapons program, ElBaradei said: "It might be, it might not be."
"I need to really get the Iranians to tell me the full, complete story," he said. "And I would like Iran to be more proactive, more transparent."
Analysts say the Iranian ruling conservative clerics are afraid to see the snap inspections by the IAEA experts reaches its secret atomic projects and conservatives-controlled newspapers have called on the authroties to get out of the NPT
Asked what Iran would get in return for signing, Solana said: "The only thing you have to expect is we continue working as friends."
The IAEA said in a report obtained by Reuters on Tuesday that Iran had improved cooperation, but there were still questions about weapons-grade uranium found at a site in Iran.
In July, the EU issued its strongest warning so far to Iran about its nuclear program, its appalling human rights records as well as its support for international terrorism and Palestinian and Arab groups opposed to peace with Israel.
Iran is the first stop on Solana's regional tour that will also take him to Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, where he will focus on the battered Middle East peace "road map". http://www.iran-press-service.com/
posted on 08/31/2003 12:15:17 AM PDT
Europeans Warn Iran on Nuclear Inspections
New York Times - By Nazila Fathi
Aug 31, 2003
TEHRAN, Aug. 30 Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief for the European Union, today pressed Iran to sign a protocol that would allow more aggressive inspections of its nuclear sites.
"We will have bad news for Iran if it refuses to sign the additional protocol," said Mr. Solana, who came to Iran to meet with officials here, during a news conference with the Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi.
"Let me say this openly: no one should expect a reward for signing it," he added. "The issue is not for bargaining; it is a matter of a friend advising another friend, and Iranian authorities are politically mature to hear a friend's advice."
Iran has come under mounting pressure to sign the protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The United States has repeatedly accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. The European Union warned last month that it would review its economic ties with Iran if it refused to sign the protocol.
Iran took a step toward signing the protocol this week after a report disclosed that the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors had found traces of highly enriched uranium in environmental samples taken at the country's Natanz facility. Iran announced its willingness in a letter to the agency to begin negotiations on the issue.
Mr. Kharazi said today that Iran's good will was evident in its willingness to let the agency's inspectors take samples from its nuclear facilities and in its talks on the protocol.
Iran, which has always maintained that its nuclear power program is for peaceful purposes, has so far refused to sign the protocol, and demands technical cooperation in nuclear science from other signing nations in return. It also wants a guarantee that inspectors will not be given complete freedom to move inside the country to gain access to and expose military secrets.
In response to the report about enriched uranium, Iran said the equipment had been imported and had arrived with the traces of the substance.
The International Atomic Energy Agency will meet on Sept. 8 to review the protocol issue and could send the case to the United Nations Security Council if the agency concludes that Iran's nuclear activities pose a threat. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/31/international/middleeast/31TEHR.html
posted on 08/31/2003 12:16:58 AM PDT
Despite all pressures uncertainty exists over whether Iran will sign NPT
AFP - World News (via Yahoo)
Aug 31, 2003
TEHRAN - The international community has stepped up the pressure on Iran to accept unconditional and snap International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of its nuclear sites, but just days ahead of a crucial IAEA meeting, uncertainty reigns as to Tehran's intentions.
An IAEA report on Iran will be presented to the IAEA's board of governors in Vienna at a September 8-11 meeting, and were Iran to be found in breach of its commitments the matter could be referred to the UN Security Council.
On a visit to Tehran on Saturday, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said it would be "bad news" if Iran did not sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and warned Tehran against bargaining.
"We want it to be signed: the sooner the better," Solana said. "It brings trust and confidence to the officials in Vienna and the members of the international community."
Brussels last month warned that if Iran did not sign the protocol, it would review its economic ties with Iran following the IAEA meeting.
The European Union, which is negotiating a trade pact with Tehran, seemed to be moving closer to the position taken by Washington, which has accused Iran of secretly seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
According to diplomats here, there are no indications that Iran will sign the protocol before September 8.
"Iran could be tempted to gain time. The decision to open negotiations on signing the protocol could be part of this tactic," said one, referring to Tehran's announcement on Tuesday that it was seeking clarifications but had a "positive approach" to the protocol.
In a surprise announcement Friday, Moscow said it would delay until the end of the year the signing of an accord under which Iran would return all spent nuclear fuel from its Bushehr nuclear reactor that is being built in southern Iran with Russian help.
The announcement appeared to be a direct concession to Washington's concerns that Iran could re-process the used fuel to create low-grade nuclear weapons. Washington had been pressing Russia to suspend the project with Tehran until it agreed to more stringent checks.
This, in addition to the findings of the IAEA report, will strengthen the case put forward by the United States and France who suspect Iran is secretly trying to develop weapons and raise the burden on Tehran to take swift action.
Within Iran, the issue of signing the protocol has raised a debate, with some media voices arguing Tehran should refuse to sign the protocol because it would give Western inspectors unimpeded access to military sites.
On Tuesday, the Iranian government reiterated these concerns, saying it wanted total guarantees that IAEA inspectors would not be given complete freedom of movement.
Diplomats and nuclear experts said in Vienna this week that IAEA experts had found in Iran two forms of highly enriched uranium molecules not needed in civilian energy programs, something presented in the report.
This in itself did not mean Iran was developing nuclear weapons, but one expert said the question was why Tehran conducted these enrichment activities covertly.
The report also says Iran had admitted to working with heavy water, which some nuclear states use to produce plutonium, in the 1980s.
Tehran also conceded for the first time that it had imported nuclear equipment, the sources said, adding that the IAEA was investigating which countries had helped Iran in this.
"These admissions came under duress, Iran changed its story because IAEA inspectors have found evidence that made it impossible for it to do otherwise," one official said.
However, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said on Thursday that the particles had been brought into Iran on imported equipment that had been contaminated. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2061.shtml
posted on 08/31/2003 12:20:21 AM PDT
UK Ambassador Returns to Tehran to Defuse Soleimanpour Crisis
Tehran Times - Politics Section
Aug 31, 2003
London -- British Ambassador to Iran, Richard Dalton, has cut short his holiday to return to Tehran amid the controversy over the continuing detention of former Iranian Ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour, in the UK, IRNA reported.
Dalton flew back to Tehran on Friday as an application to release Soleimanpour was refused for a second time, despite being held only on a provisional extradition request from Argentina, pending a formal application with full evidence.
Argentina has to present supporting documents by September 19, when the former Iranian ambassador is next due to appear in court. It is at that stage that Home Secretary David Blunkett has to sign an Authority to Proceed for a committal hearing to go ahead.
Despite Blunkett's role, the British Foreign Office has insisted that it is powerless to intervene in the case that is seen as having strong political dimensions following the election of a new president in Argentina earlier this year.
The accusations go back to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and come after relatives of the 85 victims filed a civil suit charging Argentinean authorities in February with failing to adequately investigate the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1992.
London's Jewish Chronicle earlier this month suggested that right-wing elements in Argentina's own police or security forces could be involved in the terror bombings and that the extradition suit filed against Soleimanpour and other Iranian diplomats could be cover.
The Times newspaper connected Dalton's early return to Tehran with British fears that Iran may retaliate over the treatment of Soleimanpour and suggested that the expulsion of the British ambassador could come as early as Saturday. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2062.shtml
Aug. 31, 2003
Where are our friends? By Yossi Olmert http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1062228120045
Persia and Israel shared years of friendship and strategic cooperation until the Shah's regime was overthrown in 1979. Early good relations resulted from the fact that Persian nationalism did not contradict close relations with Israel. The Shah's never conducted a Shi'ite foreign policy, and Arab countries chiefly Iraq were the Shah's implacable enemies.
However, under the current Islamic Republic foreign policy is driven not only by Iranian interests but also by Islamicism. With regard to Israel, the Islamic element is dominant and unshakeable.
By adopting a vitriolic anti-Israel policy the Islamic regime hoped to win over Arab and Muslim public opinion. Let's admit it: They have largely succeeded.
By placing itself in the forefront of the struggle against Israel, the regime seeks to highlight the conflict in the Middle East as not just Israeli-Palestinian or Israel-Arab, but as one with a major religious dimension something that was previously in the background. For tactical reasons the religious angle was blurred by the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world.
It is no coincidence that Islamic terrorism aimed at Israel as well as the US has flourished since the establishment of the Islamic regime.
THE IRAN of the Ayatollahs means business. Its leaders want to destroy Israel, and they say so without any qualms. But many in Israel and in the West can't bring themselves to grasp the depth of Iran's hatred. Legions of pundits and politicians would have us believe that the Iranians do not mean what they say.
The inability to accept that there are political systems motivated by philosophies utterly opposed to ours and which really do intend to realize themselves at our expense is hard for Westerners to acknowledge the shock of 9/11 notwithstanding.
The Bush administration defines Iran as part of the axis of evil, suggesting growing awareness of the dangers it poses. But that is as far as it goes.
In Israel there was a behind-the-scenes debate about the extent to which Iran actually poses a challenge. Israel's security and intelligence community is now unified behind the assessment that the Iranian situation is serious. Even so-called moderates, including former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, are in the forefront of the anti-Israel chorus.
But our problem isn't the rhetoric. Iran is relentlessly pursuing a nuclear program which could pose a mortal danger to Israel. Whether they are two or four years from the completion of this program is unknown, but there is no doubt that we are approaching the twelfth hour.
The bulk of the intelligence gathered by various countries attests to this reality, and the fact that there may have been some exaggeration about Iraq's WMD programs should not undermine our faith in the depth and accuracy of the information about Iran.
Ideally, the US should have led an uncompromising campaign against Iran's programs, preferably achieving the cooperation of Russia and other states which support Iran's buildup.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Israel is more or less alone in sounding the alarm. Publicity is the first element in a strategy designed to arouse world attention. But more needs to be done.
For instance, America's presence in Iraq could act as the main leverage of pressure on Iran. Overt and covert activities could be initiated by the US that would weaken Iran's self-confidence and boost the motivation of its internal opposition.
With the clock ticking, Israel may have to take a crucial decision regarding Iran and in the not too distant future.
The choice confronting our leadership is between relying on American-led action, which has not yet materialized, or going it alone and dealing militarily with the Iranian nuclear buildup.
Let us not delude ourselves: This is not going to be like the Iraqi operation. We are facing an entirely different and much more difficult situation, though not an impossible one.
Even at this late stage Israel's supreme national interest lies in cooperation with the US. Any US action would have less hazardous regional repercussions than unilateral Israeli moves. The question therefore is whether the Bush administration still possesses enough energy to go beyond the Iraqi arena to deal with Iran.
For Israeli leaders, the question is: Will they be ready, in due course, to follow Menachem Begin's courageous 1981 example left no other choice?
Nothing less than the very existence of Israel is at stake.
The writer is a Middle East specialist.
posted on 08/31/2003 8:24:19 AM PDT
("If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem, Let My Right Hand Wither" - Psalms 137:5)
Iran to Sell Electricity to Iraq
August 31, 2003
Khaleej Times Online
TEHERAN - Iran is to sell electricity from Mehran and Dehloran, two border cities in its western Ilam province to the eastern Iraqi provinces of Wasset and Meysan, state media reported here on Sunday.
Based on discussions between officials from the two countries, the electricity network of Mehran and Dehloran will be connected to that of the two neighboring Iraqi provinces Wasset and Meysan, the Mehran city governor, Morteza Lotfi was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA. No further details were given.
On August 27, Muwaffak al-Rubai, a member of Iraqs interim Governing Council, said Iraq was negotiating the purchase of electricity from Iran, Syria and Turkey in an effort to stem growing power shortages since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Rubai said talks Turkey were in an advanced stage, those with Syria were moving ahead and that Iran would supply power to Iraqs predominately Shiite Muslim southern provinces. The US-led coalition imposed in late July a power rationing program which supplies electricity every three hours followed by a similar period of cuts.
Iraqs current power production capacity is 3,200 megawatts compared with 4,000 megawatts before the start of the war in March, according to one coalition official.
Iraqs maximum potential capacity is 6,000 megawatts, the same source said.
Iraqs power sector needs a five-billion-dollar investment over five years to meet the countrys needs, Iraqs US-appointed overseer Paul Bremer said at the start of July. http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2003/August/middleeast_August508.xml§ion=middleeast
Russia and Iran Keep Trying to Sign Nuclear Agreement
August 28, 2003
Russia has pressed ahead with plans to build a nuclear plant at the southern port of Bushehr in Iran despite criticism from Washington, which accuses Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian program.
"The agreement will be signed very soon, perhaps by the end of September. It has been a year since Russian officials began to announce that they are about to sign this agreement. Last week, the Russian government instructed our ministry to sign the protocol in the nearest future," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
As soon as the protocol is signed, Russia will ship fuel to Iran for the Bushehr reactor, which will then process it to generate power and send all spent nuclear materialwhich can be converted to weapons grade materialback to Russia. The official said the document would be signed during a regular visit by a ministry delegation to the Islamic Republic in coming weeks, but the precise date of the signing was yet to be decided.
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a key U.S. arms official, is in Moscow for what is seen as an attempt to persuade Russia to halt nuclear cooperation with Iran and bring the issue of Tehran's nuclear ambitions before the U.N. Security Council.
Iran, which says it is ready to sign the agreement with Russia, has dismissed the U.S. charges, saying it wants to develop nuclear power to satisfy a booming demand for electricity and save its oil and gas reserves for export. http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/nuke_industry/co-operation/30973.html
Is the Energy Map Next on the Neo-conservative Cartography Agenda?
August 31, 2003
Middle East Economic Review
Edward L Morse
The paper trail left by what are known as neo-con analysts about their preferred political map of the Middle East is well known. It is built on the twin assumptions that post Cold War geopolitics will remain unipolar for a long time and that the worlds sole hyper power, the US, has the right to recraft the structures of geopolitics to make the world more benign, from its perspective.
Globalization has increased the potential for terrorism. Unipolarity, in turn, justifies preemption by the hyper power to contain and eliminate the forces that sponsor it. These new international conditions also justify the policy of regime change and the political engineering of new democratic institutions, whose advent is allegedly accompanied by greater stability and peace. On the potential US target list, beyond Iraq, are Iran, Syria and even, perhaps, Saudi Arabia all of which are critical to world oil.
Many around the world, especially in the Middle East, have suspected that oil was a key motivating factor in the US invasion of Iraq and every once in a while evidence is brought to bear that it is. Recently Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, for example, in response to a question about why the US tackled Iraq rather than North Korea, responded that one difference was that Iraq was swimming in oil. While oil clearly played a role in the targeting of Iraq, it has been less obvious what kind of oil map the American neo-cons want to draw.
What do we know of the neo-con view of oil? Its impossible to understand the attitudes of the neo-cons about petroleum today without a glimpse back to the heady days of the Cold War and of efforts by officials in the Pentagon and elsewhere, including Richard Perle, once a senior official at the Pentagon, but now a senior advisor to Secretary Rumsfeld and a professional at the American Enterprise Institute, to wage economic warfare on the former Soviet Union. In this context five critical elements appear to underlie the neo-con approach to oil.
First, the neo-cons have a clear orientation to prices: the lower the better! High prices have resulted in the transfer of much more than $1 trillion, and possibly as much as $3 trillion to governments in the oil producing world since 1973, many of which have used the revenues not just for unproductive purposes, but worse, they have financed terrorist acts against the interests of the US and some of its allies.
Second, the neo-cons want to undermine, if not destroy OPEC.
Third, as is the case in the broader neo conservative approach to geopolitics, the approach to oil is anything but conservative. It is radical and revisionist and is oriented far more toward what is possible and desirable to accomplish through the dismantlement of outmoded institutions and the engineering of change than it is mindful of the consequences of meddling with inherited political structures.
Fourth, it takes great exception to the view prevailing broadly in the rules and regulations of international trade for the past 60 years that politics and trade ought to be kept on their separate tracks. Indeed, it turns on its head the central rule against using trade instruments for foreign policy purposes, a rule that would obstruct the wielding of the oil weapon by oil producing states and outlaw secondary boycotts, punishing those that trade with the primary targets of embargoes. Rather, it justifies use of the oil weapon by oil importing countries to punish oil exporters supporting terrorism by depriving them of income, and it actively promotes secondary boycotts, based on the view that whatever damage might result from promoting secondary boycotts is far outweighed by the benefits of depriving supporters of terrorism of revenue. It scorns the notion that oil producers can take revenge against those boycotting their exports. Rather it takes the view that oil sellers are far more in need of a market than buyers are of supply selling oil to us in short, is no favor to us; rather our buying their oil is a favor to them.
Fifth, and wholly supportive of the fourth factor, neo-cons believe that petroleum resources ought to be owned and regulated by the private sector rather than by governments, because the private sector, left to its own, will maximize output and efficiency and bring prices down. It will also provide a means for assuring that citizens have a stake in the petroleum resources of their country.
These five features of the neo-con view of oil were born in the 1980s and were embodied in the effort to destroy the Soviet Union and declare victory over the USSR to end the Cold War. They have been carried forward and adapted to the conditions of the post Cold War unipolar, globalized world and the war on terrorism.
Let us examine these five factors, in both their Cold War and their current contexts.
It is natural that low oil prices lie at the core of the neo-con view of oil. Transparent markets create the conditions for low commodity prices and for sustained economic growth. But they also play a key role in the access to and the use of funds generated by oil exports by oil exporting countries.
In todays world, the financing of terrorists is deemed to depend unduly on revenues generated by oil, whether directly in the case of Iranian aid to Hizbollah, or indirectly, in the case of Saudi official and private sector channeling of funds to charities, which, in their turn, have financed al-Qa 'ida. In the 1980s, the primary target of low prices was the primary enemy of the United States, the Soviet Union. Since hydrocarbon exports were the single most important source of revenue for the USSR, one of the best ways to sap the strength of the USSR was to deprive it of revenues needed to buy the technology required to maintain Soviet military power and needed to finance Soviet objectives abroad.
The second feature of the neo-con view of oil is the obsession of a number of neo-conservative writers on ways to undermine OPEC. This view was obscured in the Cold War context, since key OPEC members were allied to the US in the effort to block the advance of the Soviet Unions influence in the Middle East. But it has come to the fore today. OPEC is viewed as far from a benign institution that aims at stabilizing prices. It is viewed as an organization whose underlying structures have facilitated the accumulation of capital for dangerous ends, and it has helped create failed states rather than channeled capital into productive investments that buttress successful societies. It also embodies values and premises that are counter to those of market societies and that underpin democratic institutions. The proceedings of conferences of neo-conservative groups have been marked by efforts to unmask the so-called linkages and causalities between OPEC, oil income, terrorism, and failed states, and between citizens sharing in oil revenues and successful countries. No wonder the view has been taken that oil was a critical element in the removal of Saddam Husain. Iraq, for many neo-cons is the key to the anti-OPEC strategy.
The third element the neo-cons radical, proactive orientation to change also has its roots in the Cold War. It stems from the approach taken toward the Soviet Union: Finding a way to bring about the collapse of the regime and help replace that regime with one based on democratic institutions, an idea deemed far-fetched in the early to mid-1980s. There were several elements to this approach. There is now clear evidence, for example, that there were discussions between senior US officials, including CIA Director William Casey, and senior Saudi officials, including King Fahd, in the mid-1980s to reduce radically the price of oil in order to reduce access to foreign exchange by Moscow, Tehran and Tripoli. No one disputes that other factors also motivated Riyadh, not the least being the need to regain lost market share. Yet, the lesson learned in neo-conservative circles was that there was direct causality in the agreement to bring down oil prices radically in 1985-86, and the collapse of the USSR five years later.
To be sure oil prices were not the only element of the proactive approach taken by Washington to win the Cold War. It was combined with other elements of economic warfare, including an arms race designed to induce Moscow to expand military expenditures to the point of bankrupting the country, tight restrictions on export credits and on sales of high technology goods, and with placing obstacles on the USSRs efforts to expand hydrocarbon exports through natural gas sales to Western Europe.
Justifiable economic warfare thus constitutes the fourth element of the neo-con approach to oil. Without condoning either the wielding of the oil weapon by oil producing states or the use of secondary boycotts against firms doing business with Israel, the neo-cons have wholeheartedly embraced the use of the oil weapon to deprive oil producers the wherewithal to finance terrorism and other political objectives abroad. Hence there is little accident that the very same people who were central to the waging of economic warfare against the USSR have also been central to the adoption of policies aimed at isolating Libya and Iran by depriving them of revenues via limitations on exports and on investments that could boost production capacity and, therefore, future income. They did so in the 1980s, a decade before the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, and they were wholly supportive of that legislation.
Finally, there is the issue of privatization. This issue has been central to recent discussions about post-Saddam Iraq, notwithstanding the consistent rhetorical position of Washington that it will be up to a future Iraqi government to decide this matter. Underpinning the neo-con approach is that fostering private ownership of oil resources is a legitimate objective of US policy vis-à-vis the oil producing countries.
Two rationales are offered. The first has to do with the likely consequences: more efficient maximization of oil production, lower prices and lower revenue to be channeled directly into government coffers and available for purposes unfriendly to the US. The second has to do with creating linkages between citizens and a sharing in the exploitation of oil resources. The neo-cons have been obsessed with ways to assure that oil-producing countries can be re-engineered to achieve this end. Their discussions of Iraq have focused, for example, on royalty systems, like those in place in Alaska, or the revenue sharing mechanism of the Osage nation in Osage County (Oklahoma) in which citizens share directly in each barrel of oil produced. Their discussions have also involved other ways to assure that all Iraqis would be able to participate in ownership of oil in the country through schemes that do not repeat the mistakes of privatization in Russia, mistakes that led to the transfer of a state monopoly to a handful of oligarchs rather than to the workers in the industries meant to be provided ownership.
This neo-conservative approach is often tied to views concerning Israels role in the Middle East. When reference is made to the neo-conservative approach to redrawing the energy map of the region, it is often linked as well to oil and gas supplies from the region being made indiscriminately available to Israel. It is even tied to the reconstruction of the oil pipeline linking Kirkuk to Haifa. Thats because of the prominence among neo-cons of avid supporters of Israel. But one need not bring Israel into the discussion to understand the profound changes that could occur if the neo-con view prevails.
What have been left out of our discussion are two critical issues. First, do the neo-cons represent US policy? The answer of course is both yes and no. Yes, there are neo-cons in the US government, especially in the Pentagon, but also in key positions in the State Department, the office of the Vice President and the White House. But, no, it is only one strand of influence in the bureaucratic pulling and hauling that go into Presidential policy-making and there is absolutely no evidence that President Bush has adopted their position wholly either in the political or petroleum arenas. Indeed, the policies pursued by Energy Secretary Abraham have been directly supportive of Saudi Arabia and OPEC, and US officials have gone out of their way publicly to indicate their support of oil priced in the mid-$20s, despite a tradition of never indicating a preference for one price or another. These are hardly neo-con approaches to oil.
Second, there is the issue of whether the neo-conservative view is much more than an optical illusion. The collapse of the USSR, after all, occurred for reasons that go well beyond the waging of economic warfare by Washington and relate to the decay of domestic political institutions. In the oil sector, there are phenomenal and powerful obstacles to fundamental changes taking place, including those designed on the charting table of the neo-cons in Washington. Changing the cartography of petroleum and re-engineering the international petroleum sector will take much more than the toppling of Saddam Husain.
No 33, 18-August-2003
Edward L Morse is Executive Adviser at Hess Energy Trading Company and was US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Energy Policy in 1979-81. Its views are not necessarily those of Petroleumworld.
Editor's Note:This article appeared in the latest edition of the quarterly Oxford Energy Forum and reprinted with permission by Middle East Economic Revew, on 18-August-2003.Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.
Petroleumworld.com 08 31 03 http://www.petroleumworld.com/SDY083103.htm
Iran's Nuclear Capability Represents "Nightmare Scenario"
August 31, 2003
Iran's pursuit of a nuclear capability is a "nightmare scenario" which demands immediate international action, Israeli Foreign Minsiter Silvan Shalom said Sunday.
"Iran is fast apporaching the point of no return in its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capability," Shalom said here after talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana who was fresh from a visit to Tehran.
"It's urgent that the international community act to ensure that this nightmare scenario is prevented."
Solana said he had urged the Islamic republic to agree to snap inspections by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi on Saturday.
"We have asked the Iranian government to sign the additional protocol as soon as poosible and to give a clear and urgent anser to the question before the publication on September 8 of the report of the IAEA in Vienna," said Solana.
The European Union has joined the wider international community in pressing Iran to sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow IAEA inspectors to descend on its nuclear sites without warning to ensure that Tehran was not secretly developing atomic weapons.
Brussels last month warned that, without credible guarantees over the protocol, it would review its economic ties with the country after an IAEA report on Iran is presented in Vienna between September 8 and 11.
Israel has come to regard Iran as its chief military threat since the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
It warned last month said that a new ballistic missile that was officially inaugurated by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei represented a threat to the whole of the Middle East. http://www.eubusiness.com/afp/030831161331.qq5hzw1y
Flawed Approaches on Iran
September 01, 2003
The Moscow Times
Jon B. Wolfsthal
Even during the depths of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union often worked together to halt the spread of nuclear weapons to new countries. Now, both countries are dealing with the realization that Iran's nuclear program is more advanced than previously thought and may be aimed directly at acquiring nuclear weapons in the next few years.
Unfortunately, the approaches being pursued by both countries will do nothing to slow Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons, and a new approach and better coordination is desperately needed before it is too late.
For the better part of a decade, U.S. officials pressured Russia to stop its support for the Bushehr nuclear reactor project in Iran. The United States argued that the power plant was a front for Iran to acquire weapons-related technology, a charge that Russian rejected. It now appears that both sides may have been wrong.
Counter to U.S. projections, Iran appears to have used Pakistan and other third parties to develop a uranium enrichment technology based on centrifuges, instead of relying on covert acquisitions of Russian technology. This does not mean, however, that Russian experts or companies have not been involved in this program without the Kremlin's knowledge or permission -- only that Russia appears not to be the primary source of Iran's newfound capabilities. Yet Russia also ignored clear signs that Iran was interested in much more than a peaceful nuclear power program. Its willingness to engage in nuclear commerce with Iran, while financially beneficial, is now coming back to negatively effect Russia's security.
To remedy the situation, the two countries have adopted similarly flawed approaches. Russian officials are working with Iran to ensure that any fuel used in the reactor at Bushehr -- fuel that when reprocessed could produce hundreds of nuclear weapons worth of plutonium -- is returned to Russia. For its part, with Russian support, the United States is pushing Iran to join the IAEA's enhanced inspection agreement, which will give the agency broader inspection and monitoring rights in Iran.
While both of these initiatives are helpful, they will do absolutely nothing to head off the main challenge posed by Iran's growing nuclear program -- Tehran's construction of advanced centrifuge enrichment facilities that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for 20 weapons per year by the end of the decade. Iran has stated that it is developing the means to produce its own enriched uranium fuel for the Bushehr reactors out of concern that the United States will convince Russia to cut off its fuel supply.
Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a party, states are entitled to engage in all manner of peaceful nuclear development as long as they accept international inspections. This provision, however, allows states to use the cover of the treaty to acquire the very means to produce a formidable nuclear arsenal, and then later withdraw from the pact and use the material for nuclear weapons. At the heart of international concerns is the risk that Iran will follow just this scenario to the detriment of regional and even global security.
To head off this eventuality, the United States and Russia should reach quick agreement on a new strategy that would not only head off Iran's nuclear weapons potential, but address the underlying flaw in the NPT system. At a minimum, Russia should offer to guarantee -- with explicit U.S. endorsement -- Iran's supply of fuel for the Bushehr reactor as long as Iran abandons its indigenous uranium enrichment and plutonium production programs. This offer would give Iran a clear choice -- a reliable foreign source of nuclear energy or an internal nuclear program with weapons potential. The choice that Iran makes would help show the international community Iran's true intentions.
To many, it is already clear that at a minimum, Iran is seeking the option of producing nuclear weapons through its own independent nuclear program. Given its history of conflict with Iraq -- a state by no means guaranteed of a peaceful and stable future -- as well as the perceived threats from Israel's and America's nuclear arsenals, Iran's position is understandable in some circles. But this nuclear option would only serve to increase the desire of other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Syria and even a future independent Iraq, to acquire their own nuclear options, to say nothing of the steps Israel might take before Iran's became a reality.
Thus, in addition to the offer to guarantee Iran's supply of low enriched uranium fuel for its nuclear reactor, the United States and Russia should revisit the idea of establishing a clear policy that nuclear weapons will not be used to threaten states that do not have nuclear weapons or an active nuclear program. Amazingly, since the end of the Cold War, both the United States and Russia have increased the circumstances under which they would be willing to use or threaten use of nuclear weapons. It is time the two countries recognize that such a policy has negative implications that could drive states to acquire nuclear weapons.
Russia and America have an important legacy of preventing proliferation of which they should be proud. It is a legacy that should be revived and focused on the core proliferation threats in Iran and elsewhere before the nuclear confrontation of the Cold War is replaced by a broader nuclear competition the two states will not find as easy to control.
Jon B. Wolfsthal, deputy director of the Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, contributed this comment to The Moscow Times. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2003/09/01/006.html
Iran Bans Car Imports
September 01, 2003
Agence France Presse
TEHRAN -- Iran has again banned imports of foreign-made cars despite lifting a prohibition just weeks ago, the local press reported a minister as saying yesterday.
Until we become confident that the domestic conditions for car imports are ready, we will not allow foreign car imports, Iranian Commerce Minister Ali Shariatmadari was quoted as saying. There are more than 15,000 workshops and factories engaged in car-part manufacturing. Their preservation is the governments duty, so we will not jeopardize their existence by importing foreign-made cars, he added.
We wanted to import foreign-made cars in order to rid the streets of polluting cars, but not at the expense of destroying our domestic car manufacturing industry, Shariatmadari said.
As early as three days ago, a senior official in the Commerce Ministry named five brands of foreign cars ready to export to Iran. Mitsubishi, Toyota, BMW, Hyundai and Lada were given the green light to ship 35 different models to Iran, of which 33 were sedans and the rest minibuses, Hossein Faraji, trade chief at the Ministry of Commerce told newspapers.
It would have been the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that Iran sanctioned car imports, albeit under hefty duty, in order to ease pressure on outdated domestic producers. Currently, all Iranian cars are made under license from foreign companies. http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4§ion=0&article=31175&d=1&m=9&y=2003
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