Iran urged to allow spot N-checks
By Michael Adler in Vienna
September 8, 2003
THE United Nations' nuclear watchdog is expected to call on Iran to allow tougher, surprise inspections of its nuclear program, at a meeting opening in Vienna today.
The 35-nation Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) opens a four-day meeting, with the United States pushing for action against what it claims is a covert Iranian program to develop atomic weapons.
Iran's foreign minister said in Tehran on Saturday that the Islamic republic might soon agree to tougher inspections if ongoing on the issue with the IAEA removed "ambiguities".
"With explanations and the removal of ambiguities from the IAEA, Iran will in the near future sign the additional protocol", for tougher inspections, Kamal Kharazi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.
The IAEA is pressing Iran to quickly sign and ratify an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which would allow unannounced checks of its nuclear facilities by UN inspectors.
Iran, which has dismissed widespread suspicions it is using an atomic energy programme as a cover for nuclear weapons development, has maintained that it needs certain points of the protocol clarified before it can sign.
Iran has secretly put pressure on the IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to play down the significance of its nuclear program, according to Monday's edition of German newspaper Die Welt.
Quoting western intelligence sources, the newspaper said Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's top diplomat on the UN nuclear watchdog, met Baradei, who is Egyptian, at the home of a prominent Egyptian businessman.
At the end of their two-hour discussion, the paper said El Baradei declared that his agency could not ignore evidence on Iran's nuclear program.
ElBaradei said last month that UN inspectors had found traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian nuclear facility.
He also warned of "terrible consequences" if Iran's claim that its nuclear program was entirely non-military turned out to be false.
The United States is pressing the IAEA board to pass a resolution urging Tehran to open its nuclear plants to full inspections.
Washington believes Iran is violating the NPT by secretly trying to acquire nuclear arms, while France has warned Tehran could do so within a few years.
Britain, already embroiled in a separate row with Tehran over the detention of one of its former diplomats, has also urged Iran to sign an extra protocol to the treaty that would allow surprise inspections to any site chosen by the IAEA. http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,7200593%255E1702,00.html
IRAQI SHIITES ACCUSED OF "ETHNIC CLEANSING" AGAINST THE SUNNIS
PARIS, 6 Sept. (IPS) Senior Sunnis Iraqi religious authorities have accused their counterpart from the majority Shiite community of "ethnic purification" on order from Iranian ayatollahs, according to the influential French daily "Le Monde".
This is the first time that the Iraqi sunnis, who are in minority, make such accusation, warning that if the policy continue, it might lead to a fratricide war between Iraqs 20 millions Muslims, 60 per cent Shiite who, despite their majority, had no word under the toppled regime of Saddam Hoseyn.
In the Sunnis mirror is the young Shiite firebrand Hojjatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, the 26 years-old son of Ayatollah al-Sadr, a leading Shiite cleric killed by the former dictator.
The turbulent Moqtada is suspected for the assassination of Hojjatoleslam Abdolmajid al-Khoi, a pro-west cleric killed in the holy city of Najaf days after his return to Iraq from London last April as well as raids on the residences and offices of several leading Iraqi Shia dignitaries known for their moderation, including Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the nations highest religious authority but of Iranian blood.
"We used to have a minimum of co-ordination with Moqtada al-Sadr, but he has changed ever since his return from Tehran, some forty days ago, where he met with Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi (the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran), Sheykh Abdal Salam al-Kubaisi, the spokesman for the Committee of Sunni Ulemas told the French news agency AFP.
"Iran has entered on the Iraqi scene. It does not like meetings and fraternisation between mosques", he has added, accusing the followers of Moqtada for "ethnic cleansing" of the hawzahs, or religious centers, "Le Monde" said on its Saturday issue dated for Sunday and Monday.
After having created his own army, the young cleric took over the former "Saddam City", a poor suburb of Baghdad inhabited by two millions Shiites, now renamed "Sadr City" after his father, Moqtada started a campaign of intimidation against Iraqi religious personalities opposed to the mixing of religion and politics while multiplying strong worded anti-American declarations, urging the Iraqis to boot out "infidels and Zionist occupiers", a rhetoric which is also heard by hard line Iranian ayatollahs.
"One after another, the Shiites first took control over the al-Hamza mosque, the only one we have in Najaf, then that of Hasan Ben Ali in Karbala (where is burried Hoseyn, Alis second son and the Shiites third imam, also a holy city for the Shiites) and sixteen others we have in Iraq, twelve of them in the Capital", Sheykh al-Kubaisi informed.
"Emptying Najaf and Karbala from Sunnis presence is not only a very dangerous practice, a reminder of ethnic cleansing, but it would also herald the balkanisation of Iraq", Mr. Kubaisi warned.
According to this cleric, it the Sunnis keep a low profile, it is because of the present situation, where every Iraqi, Sunni or Shia, must avoid confrontation and bloodshed, "the very trap laid by the (American) enemy", according to both AFP and Le Monde.
The unprecedented -- though not unexpected accusations comes nine days after the assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, the leader of the Iran-backed Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SAIRI) and one of Iraqs senior Shiite dignitary in a powerful car bomb explosion that damaged the main entrance of the golden shrine of Ali, worlds Shiites first and most revered imam, in Najaf, 150 kilometres south of Baghdad.
So far, there has been no official reaction from Mr. Moqtada al-Sadr. For its part, the SAIRI, now led by Hojjatoleslam Abdelaziz al-Hakim, the younger brother of the assassinated Ayatollah, has expressed its "surprise" over the accusations.
It is in such a climate that attacks on Shiite and Sunni mosques as well as their leaders are on the rise. Hojjatoleslam Ali Wadi al-Musavi, a personal representative of Grand Ayatollah Sistani escaped an assassination attempt on his life last week as he was entering a mosque in the Kazemiyah district of Baghdad almost at the same time that a Sunni mosque was attacked by unidentified armed men, wounding three worshippers.
"Some are doing their best to bring a war between Sunnis and Shias", Le Monde quoted Sheykh Walid al-Azzaoui, a Sunni cleric, accusing "mercenaries" who have entered Iraq and works hand sin hands with followers of the former tyrant.
"The Americans are more terrorists than Saddams regime", claims Moqtada, suspecting "forces of occupation" of being behind all these "terrible tragedies". http://www.iran-press-service.com/articles_2003/Sept-2003/iraq_sunni_cleansing_6903.htm