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posted on 09/13/2003 12:44:26 AM PDT
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posted on 09/13/2003 12:45:27 AM PDT
Rafsanjani, Statoil and the $15.2 Million Consultancy Contract
September 12, 2003
Oslo -- The head of international exploration and production at Norwegian oil and gas group Statoil resigned abruptly on Friday as police launched a probe into possible corruption in its Iranian business.
Chief Executive Olav Fjell accepted the resignation of international E&P chief Richard Hubbard, an architect of Statoil's drive overseas, amid a police probe into a deal with Iranian consultants, Statoil said in a statement.
State-controlled Statoil also revoked an 11-year $15.2 million consultancy contract signed in 2002 with London-based, Iranian-owned consultancy Horton Investment and said it would pay no more than the $5.2 million that it had already paid to the firm.
Statoil is the development phase operator of Iran's huge South Pars gas field in the Gulf.
"This decision has been taken in order to remove any doubt whatsoever about Statoil's compliance with its ethical guidelines," Fjell said in a statement. Fjell told a news conference he had no information pointing to corruption.
Statoil's shares ended down 2.6 percent at 66.25 Norwegian crowns, underperforming a soft Oslo bourse and the DJ Stoxx energy index of its peers.
On Wednesday, the Norwegian police's economic crime unit launched an investigation to find out if any criminal offence has occurred in Statoil's dealings in Iran, Statoil said.
"Statoil will assist the investigation in all possible ways," it said.
The economic crime unit said it was investigating Statoil to find out if it was involved in "punishable corruption", but it did not elaborate.
"NOTHING TO SIGNIFY CORRUPTION"
"I have no information that would signify corruption," Fjell told a news conference, but said that an investigation by auditors was still in progress. "I do not see that this will affect our strategy in Iran."
Fjell's comments were echoed by Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Einar Steensnaes, who visited Iran in May to boost energy-sector cooperation between the two countries.
"So far there has not been anything uncovered that breaks ethical guidelines or that is corruption," Steensnaes told NRK radio. "By taking swift action they want to push aside any doubts."
Fjell said Statoil had dealt with consultants in Iran, including Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani -- son of the former Iranian president -- to obtain information on how to conduct business in the country.
Rafsanjani leads a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Statoil's business partner in Iran, a Statoil spokesman said. NIOC is due to take over as production operator of the South Pars field when development is complete.
Spokesman Kai Nielsen said that Rafsanjani was one of the two consultants that the company had worked most with in Iran, alongside Horton Investment's owner Abbas Yazdi, who introduced Statoil to Rafsanjani.
Analysts said Hubbard's resignation could be a setback for Statoil's plans to fuel growth through its international units.
Statoil appointed Ottar Rekdal, senior vice president for gas operations, to replace Hubbard.
"This is damaging in the sense that Statoil's growth going forward is supposed to come internationally, and then of course you do not need events like this," said analyst Knut Erik Loevstad at CAI Cheuvreux in London.
"Everyone is perhaps replaceable, but Richard (Hubbard) has been essential in building Statoil's internationalisation strategy," Loevstad said.
Hubbard, a geologist, became head of international E&P in 2000 after heading BP Amoco's (BP) operations in Brazil.
(additional reporting by Ola Peter Krohn Gjessing and Terje Solsvik) http://money.iwon.com/jsp/nw/nwdt_rt_top.jsp?cat=TOPBIZ&src=201&feed=reu§ion=news&news_id=reu-l12295670-u3&date=20030912&alias=/alias/money/cm/nw
posted on 09/13/2003 12:46:32 AM PDT
Iran says Arafat expulsion will not solve W Asia dilemma
Teheran, Sep 12 (DPA) Iran today said even the expulsion of Palestinian President Yassir Arafat would not solve the dilemma in the West Asia peace process.
Expelling Arafat would not solve anything as he was the first one to make concessions with Israel (Camp David), former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said at the Friday Prayers.
The fact is that Israel is not willing to fulfil the conditions for peace such as the return of Palestinian refugees and stopping construction of new Jewish settlements, the cleric said.
Therefore, the only way seems to be continued Jihad and resistance against the Zionists (Israel), Hashemi-Rafsanjani said while referring to the Road Map as another futile effort by the West for achieving peace in West Asia. http://www.deepikaglobal.com/ENG4_sub.asp?ccode=ENG4&newscode=22450
posted on 09/13/2003 12:51:29 AM PDT
Iran's nuclear deadline
Ultimatum over US suspicion that Tehran is building bomb
Ian Traynor in Vienna, Dan De Luce in Tehran and Ewen MacAskill
Saturday September 13, 2003
The worsening international crisis over Iran's suspected nuclear bomb programme escalated last night when the UN set Tehran a deadline of 45 days to come clean on its nuclear activities.
Failure to comply by Iran, whose diplomats walked out of a meeting in Vienna yesterday in protest at the deadline, could lead to the imposition of UN sanctions.
Both the US and Britain suspect the Islamic Republic of secretly seeking to build a nuclear weapon, a charge it denies.
But the International Atomic Energy Authority, the Vienna-based UN organisation, yesterday called on Tehran to suspend all uranium enriched activities after traces of weapons-grade uranium were found at Natanz, a civilian nuclear facility.
Mohammed El Baradei, the IAEA chief, said the deadline and the terms of the resolution sent "a very powerful message to Iran to cooperate fully and immediately".
The crisis brings confrontation between Iran and the US a step nearer. The US has been lobbying the IAEA to take a tough line with Tehran.
Despute still being bogged down in Iraq, President George Bush yesterday signalled that the US was prepared to take action against any country it believed posed a threat to it.
The day after the second anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington, Mr Bush said: "In this new kind of war, America has followed a new strategy. We are not waiting for further attacks on our citizens. We are striking our enemies before they can strike us again."
If Iran fails to meet the October 31 deadline for complying with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the IAEA is almost certain to refer the issue to the UN security council, which could then apply sanctions.
Iran, in turn, has threatened to review its membership of the IAEA.
The US, given the existing instability in Iraq and the Middle East, is likely to settle for sanctions. Mr Bush will be reluctant to engage in military action in the run-up to next year's presidential election.
The crisis is a setback for British diplomacy. The Foreign Office has been courting Tehran since 1997 and is disappointed with Iran's intransigence. There is also, privately, disappointment that Washington has opted for confrontation rather than constructive engagement.
Relations between Iran and Britain have deteriorated sharply recently. It emerged yesterday that the British embassy has been shot at three times in the past month, though only two of the attacks have been made public.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We regret the Iranian walk-out [from the IAEA]."
The walkout presents a quandary to the UN's nuclear inspectors. A team is due to go to Iran within 10 days and the resolution, passed without a vote yesterday, obliges Tehran to guarantee unrestricted access to sites the inspectors want to visit.
But the threat to break off cooperation with the agency may mean that the terms of the resolution cannot be met. Iran would then be declared in breach of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and would join North Korea as an international pariah deemed to be building a nuclear bomb.
Western diplomats and IAEA officials expressed confidence yesterday that Iran would not sever links with the UN agency and would allow the inspections to proceed.
The resolution empowers Dr El Baradei to report to the IAEA in November. The US ambassador to the agency, Kenneth Brill, said that meant Iran had been given "one last chance" to prove its nuclear programme was peaceful.
The five-day meeting of the IAEA's board of governors, representing 35 countries, was sorely divided over how to deal with the Iranian dilemma. The compromise resolution, co-authored by Canada, Australia, and Japan and backed by the Americans, asked Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities, agree to snap UN inspections, and ordered Tehran to provide copious information to the inspectors by the end of October.
"We reject the ultimatum," said Ali Salehi, the Iranian ambassador, before walking out of the session. "My delegation wishes to have no part in this process or in this resolution."
While as recently as six months ago, the Americans were relatively isolated in pushing for tough action against the Iranians over the nuclear suspicions, the wealth of troubling evidence un earthed in recent months by the inspectors has produced a groundswell of support for the American position, including within the IAEA itself, and in distinct contrast to the rows over Iraq and whether Saddam Hussein had a clandestine nuclear weapons project.
Senior western diplomats and IAEA insiders say the suspect Iranian programme is much more sophisticated and advanced than anything achieved in Iraq, and believe that declaring Iran in violation of the NPT is warranted now. The Iranians have only recently disclosed that their uranium enrichment projects go back to 1985, rather than 1997 as previously stated to UN inspectors.
The result in Vienna represented a diplomatic disaster for Iran and its efforts to cultivate Europe as a counterweight to US influence.
For six years the reformist government led by President Mohammad Khatami has tried to defuse Washington's bid to isolate Iran by courting Britain and other European states. But European governments grew increasingly frustrated with what they considered Iran's evasive attitude towards the IAEA and its contradictory explanations about its nuclear activities.
More hardline voices in Iran will point to the ultimatum as evidence that Mr Khatami's conciliatory approach has only made the country appear weak. Conservative newspapers have called for Iran to withdraw from the non-proliferation treaty altogether.
Pressure over the nuclear issue could lead the conservative clerical leadership to try to undermine the US occupation in neighbouring Iraq, or to rule out any handover of the al-Qaida suspects it admits are in its custody. http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1041307,00.html
posted on 09/13/2003 12:52:38 AM PDT
Iran warns that atomic agency's order to meet October deadline could backfire
GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer Friday, September 12, 2003
(09-12) 22:34 PDT VIENNA, Austria (AP) --
Iran warned that an Oct. 31 deadline to prove its nuclear aims are peaceful could backfire, suggesting Tehran could become even more secretive instead of opening its program for outside perusal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors voted Friday to approve a U.S.-backed resolution imposing the deadline on Tehran to clear up questions about its nuclear program.
Chief Iranian delegate Ali Akbar Salehi then walked out in protest. Iranian officials had repeatedly warned that imposing a deadline and insisting on other tough language in the resolution would aggravate nuclear tensions.
"We will have no choice but to have a deep review of our existing level and extent of engagement with the agency," Salehi said, suggesting that Tehran might reduce or even break off links -- moves that would doom inspection attempts.
Diplomats fear Iran might follow the lead of North Korea, which renounced the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in November and shut the outside world out of its secretive nuclear program.
If the next board meeting in November determines that Iran has not complied with the treaty banning the spread of nuclear arms, the noncompliance must reported to the U.N. Security Council, where reaction could range from formal criticism to economic sanctions.
The United States compared the situation to Iraq, noting that Baghdad had defied agency inspectors and hid plans to make nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction ahead of the spring invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
But diplomats at the meeting warned against seeking parallels between the neighbors.
And Salehi -- whose decision to walk out in protest was a first in recent agency memory -- accused the United States of provoking the protest.
"At present, nothing pervades their appetite for vengeance, short of confrontation and war," he told the meeting. "It is no secret that the current U.S. administration ... entertains the idea of invasion of yet another territory as they aim to re-engineer and reshape the entire Middle East region."
"We reject the ultimatum in this draft," he said.
The resolution, submitted by Australia, Canada and Japan, called on Iran to "provide accelerated cooperation" with agency efforts to clear up questions about Tehran's nuclear program.
It also urged Iran to "ensure there are no further failures" in reporting obligations and called on it to "suspend all further uranium enrichment-related activities, including the further introduction of nuclear material" into a facility where U.N. nuclear agency inspectors found traces of weapons-grade enriched uranium.
The United States and other Western countries accuse Iran of working on a secret nuclear weapons program. They had been pushing for a resolution finding Iran in noncompliance, but gave up because of lack of support among board members.
Chief U.S. delegate Kenneth Brill said the threat by Iran to cut or end cooperation with the IAEA only "suggests they have something to hide that they do not want to come to light."
In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli welcomed the board's action.
If Iran fails to answer agency questions by Oct. 31, "That would constitute further evidence of its ongoing activities to conceal its clandestine activities and its clandestine nuclear weapons program," he said.
An IAEA report to the board noted that traces of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium were found at an Iranian nuclear facility, and said tests run by Iran make little sense unless the country is pursuing nuclear weaponry.
Tehran insists its nuclear programs are designed to generate electricity and that its equipment was "contaminated" with enriched uranium by a previous owner.
IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei expressed confidence that Iran would comply with the agency.
"I think the board is sending a very powerful message of support to the agency's work, to my work," he said after Friday's session. "It's also sending a very powerful message to Iran that they need to cooperate fully and immediately and to show complete transparency." http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2003/09/12/international0134EDT0421.DTL
posted on 09/13/2003 12:53:39 AM PDT
India not to dilute relations with Iran for sake of Israel
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 12
The deepening strategic ties between India and Israel and the on-the-cards trilateral axis involving these two countries and the USA will not in any way dilute New Delhis relations with Iran whom Tel Aviv and Washington regard as enemy number one.
The perception in the South Block here is that for the sake of its relationship with one country no country can forego its relationship with another country and the same applied to India.
This was clearly demonstrated today when the spokesman for Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Mr Navtej Sarna, took an unequivocal position that India was not supportive of the Israeli Cabinets decision to expel the Palestine Authority President as such a move would go against the peace process.
Another development reflected Indias independent foreign policy. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi called up External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha last evening, barely 24 hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had left India.
This, diplomatic observers said, was reminiscent of Pakistan President Pervez Musharrafs recent maiden visit to Russia. As soon as General Musharrafs plane had taken off from Moscow, Mr Putin called up Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, sending signals of a strong Indo-Russian bond which could not be upset by any number of visits from Pakistan.
Officially, the MEA only said Mr Kharazzi discussed developments in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding Irans nuclear programme.
However, it is understood that the two foreign ministers reviewed the Indo-Iranian relations in the context of Mr Sharons India visit and Mr Sinha used this opportunity to brief Mr Kharazzi about the Sharon visit.
During this historic visit, Mr Sharon had made strong anti-Iran remarks and described Iran as Israels enemy number one.
What transpired yesterday was an unusually angry press statement by the Iranian embassy here wherein Tehran took exception to Mr Sharons anti-Iran remarks. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030913/main5.htm
posted on 09/13/2003 12:56:56 AM PDT
US Gives Iran Nuclear Caution
September 13, 2003
The US has warned Iran that failure to co-operate with the UN's nuclear watchdog would constitute further proof of a secret nuclear weapons programme.
The warning follows the adoption of a new resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) giving Iran until 31 October to prove that it is not pursuing such a programme.
The move triggered a walk-out by Iranian diplomats at the IAEA meeting in protest - and a threat that Tehran would conduct a "deep review" of its relations with the nuclear watchdog.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters in Sarajevo, Bosnia, any resolution coming down hard on his country, "could make the situation more complicated".
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Iran should not be compelled to agree to intrusive inspections of its atomic programme.
"They are putting pressure on Iran to sign the Additional Protocol immediately and implement it."
"Accepting the Additional Protocol is not compulsory and no country has to accept," he told a prayer meeting.
Friday's resolution does not outline consequences of Iranian non-compliance, but leaves open the possibility of UN Security Council involvement.
A spokesman for the US state department said: "If Iran fails to take those steps by the deadline, that would constitute further evidence of its ongoing efforts to conceal its clandestine activities.
"Unless Iran immediately reverses course, [the IAEA would be obliged] to report Iran's non-compliance to the UN Security Council," Adam Ereli said.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said the agency would adopt "a very vigorous approach to complete our work and we will make sure we get all the information we need".
Iran has some serious decisions to take and time is running out, says the BBC's Tehran correspondent Jim Muir.
It can suspend co-operation with the IAEA and adopt a stance similar to North Korea's - as some hardliners advocate.
Or it can open up fully to the inspectors, to prove it is not building nuclear weapons, our correspondent says.
The United States has accused Iran of covertly developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a nuclear energy programme.
But Iran says it is only seeking to produce low-grade uranium fuel to meet its energy needs.
The 35-nation governing board of the IAEA has been meeting all week, examining a report by IAEA inspectors, which says traces of weapons-grade uranium were found at an Iranian nuclear plant.
Friday's resolution calls on Iran to halt all further uranium enrichment activities.
Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Tehran would not accept any deadlines.
"You can't impose deadlines on a sovereign country," he said.
He accused the US of having territorial ambitions on the region.
"It is no secret that the current US administration, or at least its influential circle, entertains the idea of invasion of yet another territory, as they aim to re-engineer and re-shape the entire Middle East region."
The IAEA will decide the next step if it finds Iran has not co-operated when it meets again in November. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3102586.stm
Iran Invites Intl. Companies For Azadegan Oilfield Dev.
September 13, 2003
Dow Jones Newswires
Iran's Oil Ministry has asked more international oil companies to consider bidding for the development of Azadegan oilfield, in addition to a Japanese consortium which is already negotiating to develop a sector in the field, the Middle East Economic Survey reports in its Monday edition.
Iran's move was designed to divert pressure on the ongoing Iranian-Japanese talks by the U.S., which is trying to persuade the Japanese authorities to link the Azadegan negotiations to Iran's signature of the International Atomic Energy Agency's additional protocol of the nonproliferation treaty, MEES said.
MEES said that a handful of European and Asian companies have been formally invited by the ministry, in letters sent at the end of August, to obtain data on the complete Azadegan structure.
The National Iranian Oil Co. has scheduled a meeting on Sept. 16 in Tehran to hear from the invited companies whether they would like to take the talks further, the newsletter said.
As the talks with the Japanese are proceeding at a time of intense debate within the IAEA over Iran's nuclear program, the Iranian Oil Ministry believes the widening of the scope of the Azadegan discussion will reduce the pressure on Japan by increasing the numbers of countries which the U.S. would need to win over, MEES reported.
NIOC estimates the cost of the Azadegan development at $2.8 billion and envisages eventual production capacity of 350,000 barrels a day. The Azadegan's reserves are estimated at 5 billion-6 billion barrels of heavy crude.
-By Abdulla Fardan, Dow Jones Newswires; (973) 530758; abdullah.fardan@ dowjones.com http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=09&d=13&a=2
WMD Transport Targeted on High Seas
September 12, 2003
PARIS -- In a move aimed at making it more difficult for "rogue states" such as the Stalinist regime of North Korea or the Islamic Republic of Iran to get sophisticated pieces needed for their weapons of mass destruction (WMD), 11 industrialized nations, some of them members of the Atomic Club, decided last week in Paris to step up plans to intercept ships suspected of carrying such weapons.
While the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), endorsed by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia and Japan, is not specifically aimed at North Korea, there is no doubt that Pyongyang, which Washington and others accuse of making clandestine shipments of drugs, counterfeit cash and missiles, is the primary target.
As four of the 11 nations, namely the United States, Australia, Japan and France, will send ships to the western Pacific next week for an exercise simulating an interception, China, which, with Iran, is the hermit regime's main political supporter and trading partner, has warned the PSI group that its decision on inspecting ships in high seas could be illegal.
But John Bolton, the US under secretary of state for arms control and international security, rejected concerns that the initiative launched by President George W Bush in May risked breaking international law and said participating states had agreed a set of guidelines on how they would carry out interceptions of ships or aircraft.
Next week's "Pacific Protector" exercise is the first of 10 planned in coming months.
In April, the Ville de Virgo, a French-owned ship carrying 214 aluminum tubes that serve as gas-centrifuge components for enriching uranium for nuclear bombs, was intercepted on tips from French and German intelligence agencies as it was entering the Suez Canal. The shipment, procured in Germany and unloaded in the Egyptian port of Alexandria, was destined for North Korea.
German police arrested the owner of a small export company and said they had uncovered a scheme to acquire up to 2,000 such pipes. Investigators said they had concluded that that amount of aluminum in North Korean hands could have yielded about 3,500 gas centrifuges for enriching uranium. A Western diplomat said the intentions "were clearly nuclear ... The result could have been several bombs' worth of weapons-grade uranium in a year."
One month later, another ship, loaded with 33 tons of sodium cyanide, a chemical used in making the deadly nerve agent tabun, also purchased in Germany, one of the world's leading producers and exporters of toxic gas, was arrested and inspected before reaching Pyongyang, via Singapore, according to Western diplomatic sources.
"There are countries in the world where you can pay ,000 to a government minister and he'll sign anything - and then confirm to you that he signed it," said Rastislav Kacer, a former Slovak deputy defense minister who helped lead an investigation into a similar attempt by North Korea to buy sophisticated radar equipment. "Documents that are fake can be made to appear very real," he added, quoted by Joby Warrick in the Washington Post of August 14.
Pyongyang will be the PSI's first test because Kim Jong-il's regime has the most advanced nuclear- and chemical-weapons programs of any rogue state and a history of exporting arms, one participant said.
Experts on atomic proliferation say the above two examples are the tip of the iceberg in the huge and lucrative underground WMD market, as many other shipments reach their destinations without being inspected.
"The clandestine market for atomic, biological and chemical [ABC] arms as well as missiles capable of delivering them is very big," said a French anti-terrorist expert, adding that despite existing international treaties and tough controls on the export of such materials, not only regimes that have secret ABC projects, but also some well-financed and -trained terrorist organizations are able to shop in this market.
What worries most anti-terrorist experts in industrialized and democratic nations of the world is the "marriage of reason" of some "rogue" states and terrorist organizations, as seen in the case of the missiles fired by still unidentified terrorists on an Israeli jetliner on takeoff from Mombassa airport last November. The missiles, fired from a Russian-made shoulder-mounted engine, missed the plane that was carrying 261 passengers. At about the same time, a suicide car bomb rammed into a hotel in Mombassa, used by Israeli tourists, killing at least 11 people and wounding many others.
At the time, former Israeli foreign minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attack as "a very dangerous escalation of terror".
"It means that terror organizations and those regimes that stand behind them are capable of acquiring weapons that can bring about mass casualties in every place in the world," he warned, adding: "Today they fired missiles at Israeli planes; tomorrow they'll fire missiles at US planes, British planes, planes from every state."
A year before, a Russian airliner full of Israeli passengers was shot down by a missile over Ukraine in what was termed an accident.
Experts observed that while North Korea has only one land border with Russia, making it easier for the PSI to control ships heading for the hermit state, Iran has several borders with countries that either possess nuclear technology, such as Pakistan, accused of assisting the Islamic Republic in its military nuclear-based projects, or master it, such as some former republics of the defunct Soviet Union.
"It is extremely easy to take spare parts necessary for fabrication of [an] atomic arsenal in trucks crossing almost all Iran's neighbors, maybe except for Iraq, which is under US occupation," one expert told Asia Times Online.
According to a report from German intelligence reported by Taggespiegel, some 70-90 Iranian scientists are working on Iranian nuclear devices at the nation's secret sites operated by the Revolutionary Guards. Large parts of the equipment for both missiles and bombs come from Pyongyang, via China and Pakistan, where it is difficult for international agencies to monitor and control them, Western intelligence sources told Asia Times Online.
Tehran is under intense pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its current nuclear projects, which the United States and Israel say are ultimately destined for military purposes, while Iran insists that they are civilian, aimed primarily at producing electricity, a claim rejected by Iranian and Western experts on the basis that Iran possesses huge natural-gas reserves, the second-largest in the world after Russia's.
In a recent report, experts from the Vienna-based IAEA reported about secret Iranian facilities at the central city of Natanz for enriching uranium with the help of centrifuge parts purchased some years ago from probably China and North Korea as well as on the black markets.
The report brought about closer cooperation between the European Union and Russia, which is assisting the Islamic Republic in building its first 1,000-megawatt, US million nuclear-powered electricity plant at the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr.
On a recent visit to Tehran, EU Foreign and Security Affairs Minister Xavier Solana warned Tehran bluntly that signing the additional protocols to the Non-Proliferation Treaty was not a bargain for which Iran could expect rewards.
"If you don't sign the protocols, it would be bad news for you," he said of the conventions that allow IAEA experts to visit all Iranian atomic-related sites without prior notice and without preconditions.
Immediately after the conclusion of last week's Paris conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news conference in Beijing: "The best way to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is through dialogue.
"We understand the concerns of some countries about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ... But many countries still question the efficiency and legitimacy of adopting this kind of measure," Kong added.
China's position on the PSI plan has been regarded as a determinant of its success because it controls many of the sea lanes around the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea uses Chinese air space to fly shipments to its Middle East trading partners, mainly Iran, which has been able to build up advanced medium- and long-range missiles based on North Korean technology.
"Finding and presenting the best ways and means for preventing and stopping proliferation and dissemination of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, as well as components and parts that facilitate their fabrication, is precisely what the PSI stands for," a French diplomat associated with the organization of the group's last meeting explained.
On a practical level, experts involved in the Proliferation Security Initiative said they would seek to make life more difficult for ships with suspicious cargo by getting permission from coastal states and countries that issue so-called "flags of convenience" to authorize at-sea interceptions.
The "statement of interdiction principles" released after the Paris talks contains a commitment to take action "consistent with national legal authorities and relevant international law and frameworks, including the UN Security Council".
"Certainly there are always questions about legality over these sorts of issues. Unfortunately international law isn't as strict and well defined as we would like it to be," Bolton observed, adding that it would obviously be better from the point of view of broader legitimacy to have United Nations Security Council endorsement of these sorts of operations. But given the fact that China has a veto on the Security Council, it is doubtful that anything would get through of which it didn't approve.
Rebuffing concerns that the program could give the United States and other 10 countries too much power to stop ships in international waters, Bolton argued that there is "abundant authority" under existing law to conduct interdictions, most of which he said take place in countries' territorial waters.
In cases where the legal cover isn't clear, the 11 members of the Proliferation Security Initiative have committed themselves to change national and international laws to strengthen those efforts.
The statement from the 11 members calls on states seriously to consider providing consent under the appropriate circumstances to the boarding and searching of its own flag vessels by other states.
A senior US official in Washington said efforts to recruit new members of the initiative would begin "relatively soon". The next meeting of the group will be October 9-10 in London. http://atimes.com/atimes/Korea/EI12Dg01.html
Another Journalist Arrested
September 13, 2003
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders denounced today what it called the illegal arrest of Behzad Zarinpour, assistant editor of the Iranian newspaper Asia and former editor of Abrar Eqtesadi (Economic News), at his home on 7 September by armed civilians who searched it. His family has not heard from him since.
" Iran remains a country where journalists have a hard time, with continuing arrests and imprisonment in solitary confinement in deplorable sanitary conditions," said the organisation's secretary-general, Robert Ménard, calling on the authorities to tell the family at once where and why he was being held.
The bad detention conditions are leading to hunger-strikes by journalists held at Teheran's Evin prison. One of them, Mohsen Sazgara, whose trial began in secret on 6 September, has stopped eating and is refusing to take any medicine despite having serious heart problems. Another, Taghi Rahmani, also began a hunger-strike in protest against solitary confinement, which is commonly meted out to jailed journalists of the reformist press.
These prisoners are handled by the staff of Teheran prosecutor-general Said Mortazavi and the Guardians of the Revolution and are held in the wing where Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten and died in July.
Iran is the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, with 17 in jail. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=7958
Iranian Media Reject Nuclear Ultimatum
September 13, 2003
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution requiring Iran to prove it is not pursuing a secret nuclear programme by 31 October has provoked an angry response in the Iranian media.
Iranian observers were unanimous in arguing that the UN watchdog was not acting in good faith, but responding to pressure from the West - in particular, the US.
A commentator on Iranian state radio said the resolution ignored a report by IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei on Iran's co-operation with the agency.
"It proves that Western countries are exerting pressure simply for their own political ends and without seeing Iran's co-operation with IAEA," the commentator said.
The West's aim, he added, is to put a brake on Iran's technological and economic development by preventing it from using nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
"Western countries simply want to act on the basis of their own interests and prevent the legitimate activity of other countries in the nuclear domain."
Some, such as the centre-right daily Entekhab, directly blame the US for the IAEA ultimatum, which may lead to Iran being declared in breach of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"This will be the result of months of efforts by the United States to apply pressure on the international community to impose sanctions against Tehran," the paper says.
A report on Iranian state TV went even further, arguing that the IAEA decision proves it is guided by US policy.
"In truth, the meeting of the IAEA's board of governors was a negative turning point which has transformed this agency from a neutral supervisor to an organisation under the influence of America's political wishes."
However, Tehran will remain defiant in the face of what it sees as attempts to deny Iran the right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology, the TV added.
"This nation and the Islamic establishment will not allow the world's bullying and hegemonic powers to stop Iran's scientific development and the improvement of its general condition."
The hard-line Jomhuri-ye Eslami sees only one way to resist US pressure.
"The political and illegal treatment of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme by America and European countries has proven the bitter truth that, in today's world, the only way for countries wishing to maintain their independence to survive is to become powerful."
BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3106168.stm
Allies Show Off Maritime Security Skills
September 13, 2003
The Associated Press
On board HMAS Success -- Japanese coast guardsmen slid down ropes from a helicopter to a cargo ship Saturday, during a high seas exercise showing rogue nations that the world is serious about preventing the transport of weapons of mass destruction.
The maneuvers on the Coral Sea allowed the United States, Japan and Australia to fine tune moves to intercept ships suspected of carrying the deadly armaments.
The exercises served as a special warning to North Korea and Iran because of the relatively advanced stages of their nuclear weapons programs, a senior U.S. official said recently on condition of anonymity.
Code-named "Exercise Pacific Protector," the maneuvers were the first by members of the 11-nation Proliferation Security Initiative, PSI, developed earlier this year by President Bush.
"It sends a message to all those who may for one reason or another contemplate the transfer of weapons of mass destruction," Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill said after watching the operation off his country's east coast. "There is a committed global effort across the world that is going to make every effort to stop them."
An Associated Press reporter aboard the Success watched as the armed boarding party secured the ship's bridge, arrested its crew and minutes later told navy and customs ships surrounding the freighter and three helicopters buzzing overhead they had control of the entire ship and its cargo.
The exercise involved two Australian navy ships, the supply ship HMAS Success and the frigate HMAS Melbourne, along with Japanese-based U.S. destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the Japanese Coast Guard ship Shikishima. A French marine patrol aircraft also took part in the initial aerial hunt for the suspect ship.
On Saturday, South Korea's national Yonhap news agency cited a report in North Korea's official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, criticizing the initiative.
"This joint military exercise is a military operation that comes before the U.S. military attack against us," Rodong said. "This is a military provocation."
Once the armed and masked Japanese had conducted an initial search, U.S. Coast Guard troops boarded the freighter from a small boat to check for chemical weapons.
The American ship USNS Private Franklin J. Phillips was used to pose as a fictional Japanese-flagged freighter transporting illicit chemicals.
Besides the participants in the weekend's exercises, the PSI members include Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Britain.
"Because of the fact that North Korea has been a very ready marketer of its missile technologies and because it is talking about moving further down the nuclear weapons path we do have a fear that one day North Korea might get into the business of selling weapons of mass destruction or their precursors," Hill said. "We would not want to see North Korea do that."
Lawyers from the 11 nation group are investigating what legal powers they have to carry out interceptions like Saturday's exercise, Hill said.
"The operation has got to be within the law and reaching a consensus between the 11 countries about the principles of law is not easy," Hill said.
The nations already have met twice to discuss the initiative and Hill said it was important to get other countries involved in the process.
More maneuvers are planned for later this year in Europe, although an exact time and location have not yet been announced. http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/6765355.htm
Follow-up to previous CAIR articles.
Bad CAIR day: Ex-staffer pleads guilty to terror charges, Senate asks questions on 9/11 anniversary
The Center for Security Policy | September 13, 2003
The second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was a bad day for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has been struggling to overcome its reputation as a front group for Islamist terrorists.
Senators at a September 10 terrorism and homeland security hearing ripped into CAIR for its ties to the Hamas suicide bombers.
As if that wasnt bad enough, on the same day CAIRs former community affairs director pled guilty to committing bank and visa fraud while running an Islamic charity that the US calls a front for associates of Osama bin Laden.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad canceled his appearance as a witness at the hearing, held by Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security Chairman Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). Awad hid behind a written statement on which the Senators could not cross-examine him.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) assailed CAIR for having intimate connections with Hamas, a group that receives substantial funding from Saudi Arabia and subscribes to Wahhabist teachings, and criticized the group for not showing up. Said Schumer, "I wish they had taken us up on our invitation so they could explain themselves."
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called CAIR unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect. He said he hoped that in future terrorism hearings, mainstream groups of Muslim Americans that are fully supportive of our war on terrorism would be invited to testify.
The hearing was the second in a planned series that Senator Kyl has designed to explore how Wahhabi money and direction is building a terrorist infrastructure in the United States. He called for the government and all Americans to improve our ability to connect the dots between terrorists and their supporters and sympathizers.
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