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posted on 09/19/2003 12:02:17 AM PDT
Syrian Axis of Terror
September 19, 2003
U.S. State Department
The United States views with "serious concern" Syria's expanding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities and its continued state sponsorship of terrorism, the State Department's top arms control official says.
Testifying September 16 before a House International Relations subcommittee, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said Syria also has taken "a series of hostile actions" toward Coalition forces in Iraq.
He said Syria allowed military equipment to flow into Iraq on the eve of and during the war, and has "permitted volunteers to pass into Iraq to attack and kill our service members during the war, and is still doing so."
"Although Damascus has increased its cooperation regarding Iraq since the fall of the Iraqi regime," the under secretary said, "its behavior during Operation Iraqi Freedom underscores the importance of taking seriously reports and information on Syria's WMD capabilities."
Referring to press reports that Iraq covertly transferred weapons of mass destruction to Syria in an attempt to hide them from U.N. inspectors, Bolton said the United States sees the reports "as cause for concern," but has thus far been unable to confirm them. "We are continuing ... to seek conclusive evidence," he said, and have raised the issue with the Syrians "on numerous occasions."
Bolton said the United States is concerned about Syria's nuclear research and development program and continues to watch for any signs of nuclear weapons activity. He noted that Syria has not yet signed the International Atomic Energy Agency's Additional Protocol, which strengthens the IAEA's investigative powers to verify compliance with nuclear safeguards, adding: "We believe the Additional Protocol should be a new minimal standard for countries to demonstrate their nonproliferation bona fides."
He said Syria has "one of the most advanced Arab state chemical weapons capabilities" and is continuing to develop an offensive biological weapons capability. In addition, Syria has "a combined total of several hundred Scud and SS-21 SRBMs [short-range ballistic missiles], and is believed to have chemical warheads available for a portion of its Scud missile force."
Commenting on the Syria Accountability Act -- legislation proposed by members of Congress to impose restrictions on the export of U.S. goods to Syria, Bolton said that existing sanctions laws and an Executive Order promulgated in 1994 already provide "a broad mandate" for the administration to use sanctions to deter proliferation activity by rogue states and serial proliferators.
He stressed that nonproliferation standards "are all too often ignored and flagrantly violated" by governments seeking WMD as a means of enhancing their security and international influence, and "many of these governments are resistant to conventional diplomatic dialogue."
"While we pursue the diplomatic track whenever possible, the United States and its allies must be willing to deploy more robust techniques, such as economic sanctions, as well as interdiction and seizure, or other means," he said. "The pursuit of WMD and ballistic missile delivery systems, especially by state sponsors of terrorism, must be neither cost-free nor successful."
Bolton called interdiction efforts "key to a comprehensive nonproliferation strategy." He cited in particular the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) announced by President Bush in May -- "a global multilateral arrangement to seize sensitive cargoes that may be in transit to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern."
He said the United States and 10 other countries reached agreement in Paris September 4 on a Statement of Interdiction Principles, which "represents the shared political commitment of these countries to strengthen efforts to combat the proliferation threat.
"The United States welcomes support for the PSI Principles of all states that share our concerns about proliferation and our resolve to take new and active measures to defeat this threat."
Following is the text of Bolton's prepared testimony:
Testimony of John R. Bolton
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia
September 16, 2003
Thank you, Madame Chairwoman and members of the Committee, for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss Syria's weapons of mass destruction [WMD] and missile development programs. I understand that we will have a brief open hearing now and a closed session later today.
Syria remains a security concern on two important counts: terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. I will focus on the latter, although the potential linkages are obvious. Specifically, our Coalition's operations in Iraq showed that this administration and the international community take the link between terrorism and WMD most seriously. There is no graver threat to our country today than states that both sponsor terrorism and possess or aspire to possess weapons of mass destruction. Syria, which offers physical sanctuary and political protection to groups such as Hizballah, HAMAS, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and whose terrorist operations have killed hundreds of innocent people -- including Americans -- falls into this category of states of potential dual threat. While there is currently no information indicating that the Syrian government has transferred WMD to terrorist organizations or would permit such groups to acquire them, Syria's ties to numerous terrorist groups underlie the reasons for our continued anxiety.
Without question, among rogue states, those most aggressively seeking to acquire or develop WMD and their means of delivery, and which are therefore threats to our national security, are Iran and North Korea, followed by Libya and Syria. It is also the case that these states are among those we identify as state sponsors of terrorism. We aim not just to prevent the spread of WMD, but also to "roll back" and ultimately eliminate such weapons from the arsenals of rogue states and ensure that the terrorist groups they sponsor do not acquire weapons of mass destruction. As President Bush has said repeatedly, we will stress peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the proliferation threat. However, in order to roll back proliferation and protect innocent American citizens, as well as our friends and allies, we must allow ourselves the option to use every tool in our nonproliferation toolbox.
Obviously, many of you share these concerns. Members of this committee have sponsored the Syria Accountability Act, which would impose restrictions on the export of U.S. goods to Syria, as well as other measures. However, we already possess a broad mandate to sanction countries like Syria for proliferation activities under Executive Order 12938. This Executive Order, promulgated in 1994, requires the imposition of sanctions against foreign countries that have used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or have developed, produced, stockpiled or otherwise acquired chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law. The Executive Order requires denial of foreign assistance; denial of credit or financial assistance from U.S. government agencies; U.S. opposition to multilateral development bank assistance; denial of defense exports and national security-sensitive exports; restrictions on imports into the U.S.; and a termination of aircraft landing rights. Many of these same penalties are duplicated in the proposed Syria Accountability Act.
Additionally, Section 4 of E.O. 12938, as amended in 1998, authorizes penalties against entities that have "materially contributed or attempted to contribute materially to the efforts of any foreign country, project, or entity of proliferation concern to use, acquire, design, develop, produce, or stockpile weapons of mass destruction or missiles capable of delivering such weapons...." Penalties can include a ban on imports into the U.S. of goods, technology, or services produced by the sanctioned entity; a ban on U.S. procurement from these entities; and a ban on U.S. assistance. In addition, we have frequently augmented these penalties with a ban on defense exports to the entity in question.
The standard for acts triggering these measures under the Executive Order is very broad, and gives the decision-maker wide scope in punishing entities that choose to engage in proliferant behavior. Just in this year, we have imposed E.O. 12938 sanctions five times, including on the Chinese entity, North China Industries Corporation (NORINCO), and the Iranian entity, Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group. This administration views sanctions as a useful tool for furthering our nonproliferation objectives and is determined to enforce existing sanctions laws to the fullest extent. The existing sanctions laws and the Executive Order, when properly applied, give the administration the authority and flexibility to use sanctions to deter proliferation activity by rogue states and serial proliferators. Since I began serving in my present position, I have insisted on using the mandatory sanctions laws in the manner Congress intended.
Nonproliferation standards are all too often ignored and flagrantly violated by governments that view WMD as a means of enhancing their security and international influence. Many of these governments are resistant to conventional diplomatic dialogue. While we pursue the diplomatic track whenever possible, the United States and its allies must be willing to deploy more robust techniques, such as economic sanctions, as well as interdiction and seizure, or other means. The pursuit of WMD and ballistic missile delivery systems, especially by state sponsors of terrorism, must be neither cost-free nor successful. Proliferators -- and especially states still deliberating whether to seek WMD -- must understand that they will pay a steep price for their efforts. In short, if the language of persuasion fails, these states must see and feel the logic of adverse consequences. Moreover, adverse consequences must not only fall on the states aspiring to possess these weapons, but also on the states supplying them.
In situations where we cannot convince a state to stop proliferant behavior, we also have the option of interdicting shipments to ensure the technology does not fall in to the wrong hands. These interdiction efforts are key to a comprehensive nonproliferation strategy. Interdiction involves identifying an imminent shipment or transfer and working to impede the shipment. As the president noted in his National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, we must enhance the capabilities of our military, intelligence, technical, and law enforcement communities to prevent the movement of WMD materials, technology, and expertise to hostile states and terrorist organizations.
On May 31, President Bush announced the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a global multilateral arrangement to seize sensitive cargoes that may be in transit to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Since then, we have been working with 10 other countries -- Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the UK -- to develop a set of "principles" that identify practical steps necessary to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials at sea, in the air, or on land. The 11 countries met in Madrid in June, and in Brisbane in July. On September 4 in Paris, we reached agreement and announced a Statement of Interdiction Principles. This represents the shared political commitment of these countries to strengthen efforts to combat the proliferation threat. The United States welcomes support for the PSI Principles of all states that share our concerns about proliferation and our resolve to take new and active measures to defeat this threat. Proliferators are using increasingly sophisticated and aggressive measures to defeat export controls and obtain technologies for their WMD or missile programs; we need to enhance our ability to prevent them from making these acquisitions. There exists a widespread consensus that this menace, together with terrorism, constitutes the greatest challenge to international security generally and to our national security in particular.
It is important to stress that all interdiction activities conducted by PSI partners will be consistent with relevant national and international authorities. Importantly, substantial national and international authorities for interdiction already exist. In the event that a proliferator succeeds in circumventing export controls and a shipment of WMD or missile-related technology is discovered to be en route, PSI participants will explore how best to use the full range of counterproliferation tools -- from diplomatic, to intelligence, to operational -- to stop proliferation at sea, in the air, and on land. Properly planned and executed, interception of critical technologies while en route can prevent hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring these dangerous capabilities. At a minimum, interdiction can lengthen the time that proliferators will need to acquire new weapons capabilities, increase the cost, and demonstrate our resolve to combat proliferation.
The Paris meeting also continued work on the modalities for interdiction, in particular effective information sharing and operational capabilities for interdictions. Efforts to enhance our collective operational capabilities for action are essential. In support of this goal, PSI participants have agreed on a series of 10 sea, air, and ground interdiction training exercises to occur into 2004. Australia just organized and executed one such exercise a few days ago in the Coral Sea, called "Pacific Protector," that involved both military and law enforcement assets. Four PSI partners, including the United States, sent vessels to the exercise, and all PSI partners were involved in some capacity.
Our long-term objective with the Proliferation Security Initiative is to create a web of counterproliferation partnerships that will impede trade in WMD, delivery systems, and related materials. To do so, we seek eventually to broaden participation in the PSI to include all like-minded countries that want to cooperate and can contribute actively to interdiction efforts. WMD and missile proliferation is a global problem that requires a global effort, and this initiative is not directed at any one country or region. It is global in scope. A robust interdiction effort requires cooperation with all like-minded countries -- those who are leaders in nonproliferation as well as those who may have a direct relationship with proliferation activities. We want to ensure that countries make full use of their capabilities and authorities to interdict shipments. By working together, the combined sum of our efforts will be greater than the individual parts. I am encouraged by our progress on the PSI, and know that the PSI will be an important tool that we can use to counter the efforts of countries such as Syria that are often dependent on foreign suppliers in their quest to possess WMD.
Before I address the specifics of Syria's WMD programs, let me first discuss press reports that Iraq covertly transferred weapons of mass destruction to Syria in an attempt to hide them from U.N. inspectors and Coalition forces. We have seen these reports, reviewed them carefully, and see them as cause for concern. Thus far, we have been unable to confirm that such transfers occurred. We are continuing with the full breadth of resources at our command to seek conclusive evidence that any such transfer has taken place. We have raised with the Syrians on numerous occasions, even before military action against Iraq, the seriousness with which we would view any transfer of Iraqi dual-use or military related items into Syria.
We have seen Syria take a series of hostile actions toward Coalition forces in Iraq. Syria allowed military equipment to flow into Iraq on the eve of and during the war. Syria permitted volunteers to pass into Iraq to attack and kill our service members during the war, and is still doing so. Syria continues to provide safe haven and political cover to Hizballah in Lebanon, which has killed hundreds of Americans in the past. Statements from many of Syria's public officials during this time vilified the Coalition's motives in seeking to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Indeed, the United States portrayed as an enemy is a consistent theme found in newspapers and public statements in Syria, as it is in other states in the region. Although Damascus has increased its cooperation regarding Iraq since the fall of the Iraqi regime, its behavior during Operation Iraqi Freedom underscores the importance of taking seriously reports and information on Syria's WMD capabilities.
As I informed Congress last fall, we are concerned about Syria's nuclear R&D [research and development] program and continue to watch for any signs of nuclear weapons activity or foreign assistance that could facilitate a Syrian nuclear weapons capability. We are aware of Syrian efforts to acquire dual-use technologies -- some, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Technical Cooperation program -- that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In addition, Russia and Syria have approved a draft program on cooperation on civil nuclear power. Broader access to Russian expertise could provide opportunities for Syria to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons. The Syrians have a Chinese-supplied "miniature" research reactor under IAEA safeguards at Dayr Al Hajar.
Syria is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has a standard safeguards agreement with the IAEA but, like Iran, has not yet signed or, to our knowledge, even begun negotiations on the IAEA Additional Protocol. The Additional Protocol is an important tool that, if fully implemented, could strengthen the IAEA's investigative powers to verify compliance with NPT safeguards obligations and provides the IAEA with the ability to act quickly on any indicators of undeclared nuclear materials, facilities and activities. We believe the Additional Protocol should be a new minimal standard for countries to demonstrate their nonproliferation bona fides.
Since the 1970s Syria has pursued what is now one of the most advanced Arab state chemical weapons (CW) capabilities. It has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin that can be delivered by aircraft or ballistic missiles, and has engaged in the research and development of more toxic and persistent nerve agents such as VX.
Syria is fully committed to expanding and improving its CW program, which it believes serves as a deterrent to regional adversaries. Syria continues active chemical munitions testing, although it has not used chemical agents in any conflicts. Although Syria is more self-sufficient than most other third-world CW capable states, foreign assistance has been a key element in the establishment and operation of Syria's CW program. In particular, Syria remains heavily dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its chemical warfare program, including precursor chemicals and key production equipment. As a result Syria will need to continue foreign procurement activities -- something the PSI is designed to counter -- in order to continue its CW program. Syria is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
We believe that Syria is continuing to develop an offensive biological weapons capability. Syria has signed, but not ratified, the Biological Weapons Convention. These "poor man's nuclear weapons" do not require a large production capability, and depending on the agent and dissemination method, can be extremely lethal.
Syria has a combined total of several hundred Scud and SS-21 SRBMs [short-range ballistic missiles], and is believed to have chemical warheads available for a portion of its Scud missile force. Syria has also developed a longer-range missile -- the Scud D -- with assistance from North Korea. Syria's missiles are mobile and can reach much of Israel from positions near their peacetime garrisons and portions of Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey from launch sites well within the country. Damascus is pursuing both solid- and liquid-propellant missile programs and relies extensively on foreign assistance in these endeavors. North Korean and Iranian entities have been most prominent in aiding Syria's recent ballistic missile development. Syrian regional concerns may lead Damascus to seek a longer-range ballistic missile capability such as North Korea's No Dong MRBM [medium-range ballistic missile].
Advanced Conventional Weapons
Damascus has sought to acquire Russian SA-10 and SA-11 air defense systems, MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters, and T-80 or T-90 main battle tanks, as well as upgrades for the aircraft, armored weapons, or air defense systems already in its inventory. But its inability to fund large purchases and its outstanding debt to Russia have curbed substantial upgrades and acquisitions.
Of course, I will have much more to say on all of these subjects during the closed hearing, and I look forward to a more specific and detailed discussion than we can have in an open hearing. As we all recognize, the importance of protecting and preserving vital intelligence sources and methods necessarily and properly restricts what we can say publicly. Nonetheless, the conduct of national security requires that we take all available information into account, which I believe we will be able to do in a classified session.
When the world witnessed the destructive potential of terrorism on September 11, we were reminded of the need to remain steadfast in recognizing emerging threats to our security. In Syria we see expanding WMD capabilities and continued state sponsorship of terrorism. As the president has said, we cannot allow the world's most dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of the world's most dangerous regimes, and will work tirelessly to ensure this is not the case for Syria. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=9915
posted on 09/19/2003 12:04:59 AM PDT
A push for candor on Iran nukes
The International Atomic Energy Agency has given Iran an Oct. 31 deadline for opening its nuclear sites.
September 19, 2003
By Scott Peterson |
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
TEHRAN, IRAN As the deadline looms for Iran to prove that it has no secret plans to build an atomic bomb, Iranians are being forced to make a choice.
Will Iran guarantee to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that its advanced nuclear program is for energy only, and permit snap, go-anywhere inspections? Or will Iran decide - as it eyes nuclear Israel, Pakistan, and India, and with US troops now deployed along its borders in three directions - that it must have a nuclear deterrent that also appeals to national pride?
"We have not reached the fork in the road that tells us if this is for military or civilian use," says a senior Western diplomat here. "But if it is going for a bomb, Iran is entering the 'danger zone.' Once you have it, you are secure. But when you are close, this is a moment of great vulnerability. This is when there could be a preemptive war that would have broad support. It's the Osirak Syndrome," he says, referring to the nearly built Iraqi reactor Israeli jets destroyed in 1981.
Iran must make its choice by Oct. 31, a US-backed deadline adopted last Friday by the IAEA in the wake of heavy US lobbying to censure Iran for noncompliance. It comes as the IAEA delves deeper into a series of nuclear issues with Iran - such as misreporting its activities and the presence of highly enriched uranium - that experts say point toward the existence of a clandestine weapons program.
The IAEA resolution, adopted unanimously by the 35-nation governing board, calls on Iran to "remedy all failures," to open all sites, agree to environmental sampling, and to suspend its enrichment programs to show good will.
Failure to meet the deadline could spark a chain of events leading to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions and prevent all nations from assisting Iran's nuclear programs.
Iranian officials declare repeatedly that Iran's intentions are peaceful, and that it is Iran's right, as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to pursue nuclear science and power.
"We don't need atomic bombs, and based on our religious teaching, we will not pursue them," the reform-minded President Mohammad Khatami, who has long called for a "dialogue of civilizations" and a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, said earlier this week. "But at the same time, we want to be strong, and being strong means having knowledge and technology."
That denial does not always square with the view on the street, where many reformers and conservatives - normally at each other's throats, politically - see nuclear weapons as a matter of patriotism and national pride, befitting a regional superpower. "No matter what they tell you, most Iranians want the bomb," says a middle-aged Iranian professional, who asked not to be named.
The disparate views point to internal disagreements over how Iran should exercise its power in the future, and how the Islamic Republic, which was closed off to much of the West for years after the 1979 Islamic revolution, should relate to the rest of the world.
Though Iran is a member of the NPT, like the United States and most other nations, it has not signed the far stricter Additional Protocol, which allows intrusive inspections. Israel never signed the NPT; Pakistan and India are not members either - facts that cause critics in Iran to speak of a double standard.
The IAEA ultimatum is a "historical opportunity for our nation to clarify its relations with the international bullies and blackmailers," the hardline Jomhuri-ye Eslami newspaper wrote. "This has proven the bitter truth that, in today's world, the only way for countries wishing to maintain their independence and survive is to become powerful."
The conservative Keyhan wrote of a "calculated conspiracy" to topple the Islamic regime, and pointed to NPT membership as a "weak point." Withdrawal from the safeguard mechanism, the paper wrote, is a "necessary move for Iran and any delay could entail irreparable and dangerous consequences."
Washington, which considers Iran to be part of its "axis of evil," warned this week that it will use "every tool" to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. While testifying on Syria to a House subcommittee on Tuesday, John Bolton, the State Department's top arms-control official, made a broad warning that echoed in Iran.
"We believe the Additional Protocol should be a new minimal standard for countries to demonstrate their nonproliferation bona fides," Mr. Bolton said. The US argues that oil- and gas-rich Iran has no need of nuclear energy.
Iranian officials, despite storming out of the Vienna meeting, and then warning that Iran could pull out of the NPT, this week reaffirmed that Iran is "fully committed" to its NPT responsibilities.
But apparent threats from Washington make conservative Amir Mohebian, political editor of the Resalat newspaper, and many other Iranians, bristle - and more reluctant to sign the protocol.
"What they are saying is, 'We consider you an evil country, and you must sign it, because we don't trust you,' but it is a pretext for doing in Iran what they did in Iraq," says Mr. Mohebian, who states Iran is not pursuing weapons. "Before the  revolution, it was the Americans who gave this plan of nuclear power plants to Iran, while the population was half what it is today."
Still, a string of IAEA reports makes clear that Iran has not fulfilled all its safeguard duties. Iran has offered explanations, though the IAEA is still examining questions about previously undeclared uranium-enrichment facilities, the presence of particles of two types of highly enriched uranium, and "considerable modifications" to the suspect workshop of the Kalaye Electric Company in Tehran.
Iran initially put off IAEA testing at the Kalaye site; when samples were finally taken, diplomatic sources say, IAEA teams found the floor had been relaid with yard-deep concrete, switches had been removed, and the facility repainted.
Russia is building Iran an $800 million nuclear-power reactor at Bushehr - a sore point in US-Russian relations - and is close to signing a deal that would return all spent fuel provided by Moscow, so it cannot be further processed by Iran.
But beyond that, Iran says it aims to have control over the complete nuclear-fuel cycle, and so is pursuing several different, expensive methods on its own.
There are plans for a heavy water reactor to break ground next year at Arak, and a large pilot enrichment project that may involve a cascade of up to 1,000 centrifuges is well under way at Natanz. Laser enrichment is also a possibility. All of these could, besides civilian use, yield weapons-grade material.
Some say the Natanz site was never meant to be secret. "It's big, it's vulnerable. Why put it in the desert, where anybody can see it rising before their eyes?" says the senior Western diplomat. "Even if Natanz were shut down or destroyed, this does not solve anything. What is important is the technical knowledge."
While noting an "increased degree of cooperation" with Iran, the IAEA Aug. 26 report points out delays, inconsistent explanations, and a number of "important" issues that "require urgent resolution."
"There has been a pattern of deception, obfuscation, delay, and changing of the facts," says a Western diplomat. "And while constantly declaring it is providing full cooperation, the reports of the IAEA show that simply has not been the case. This is one reason the international community has lost patience."
Such continuing uncertainty creates new risk, analysts say, by offering ammunition to Iran critics. "If I were Iranian, my only goal would be to have the bomb as soon as possible - it makes strategic sense, Iran is proud, and it is seen as somehow legitimate, since Israel and Pakistan have it," says anotherWestern diplomat.
"The deadline is good, it puts Iran into a corner, but even if Iran opens everything, there will still be uncertainties," the diplomat says. "In this climate, any claims can be made. Iran is opening itself up for people to make connections, on issues of supporting Al Qaeda, and nuclear weapons, that may not exist."
Still, Iran may be learning from others' mistakes. "The leadership has been very mature on this," says an Asian diplomat. "They learned the lesson of Pakistan," which in 1965 said, "We will eat grass or leaves.... But we will get [a bomb] of our own." When India tested a bomb in 1974, Pakistan too was placed under embargo. Even before Pakistan's program bore fruit, the US in 1979 temporarily cut all aid as punishment.
"There will be a temptation here, and such a thing can uplift the morale of a nation, which is so low right now," he adds. "There were celebrations in India and Pakistan when they did it. Poor people were dancing in the street." http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0919/p01s02-wome.html
posted on 09/19/2003 12:10:51 AM PDT
Iran seeks Azadegan bids, Japan deal at risk-paper
Reuters, 09.18.03, 7:53 PM ET
TOKYO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Iran plans to invite several international oil companies to bid to develop its Azadegan oil field, a project on which a consortium of Japanese firms has been negotiating since 2000, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday.
Quoting unidentified sources, the Yomiuri Shimbun said the Iranian government, in an apparent effort to put pressure on Japan to conclude the deal to develop oine of the world's largest undeveloped oil reserves, has invited bids from at least three oil companies in Europe and China.
Iran has unofficially notified Japan that it will not be invited to take part in the bidding, though it intends to continue separate talks on the project with Japan, the report said.
Resource-poor Japan has been juggling its desire to develop Iran's Azadegan oil field with pressure from the United States, its main security ally, to back off because of concerns that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.
The three major oil companies intending to bid on the project are France-based Total, China's Sinopec and Royal Dutch/Shell based in Britain and the Netherlands.
Japan missed a June 30 commercial deadline and lost exclusive rights to the deal worth $2 billion, but Iran has said it still hopes to conclude the contract to get Azadegan pumping 300,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service http://www.forbes.com/home_europe/newswire/2003/09/18/rtr1086003.html
posted on 09/19/2003 12:14:20 AM PDT
IDF Intelligence: Ron Arad Held by Iran
September 19, 2003
A senior IDF intelligence officer was quoted by Israel Radio as saying Ron Arad is being held by Iran, not Hizbullah, explaining that recent irresponsible statements made by politicians regarding an imminent prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah and questioning the exclusion of Ron Arad only impair efforts towards closing a deal.
The unnamed officer reportedly told Israel Radio there is progress in talks towards the release of Elchanan Tannenbaum and the return of bodies of three soldiers, but in the Mideast the report added, one can never know.
As far as Ron Arad is concerned, the intelligence report concurs with statements made on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) on Thursday by Tzvi Rish, the attorney for Mustafa Dirani and Sheik Karem Obeid, both being held as trump cards towards Arads release. Rish stated there was nothing to lose by releasing them for Tannenbaum in a deal with Hizbullah, since Hizbullah was not holding Arad. He added that Iran is uninterested in Dirani and Obeid so holding them any longer will do nothing towards obtaining Arads release. http://www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=50005
posted on 09/19/2003 12:15:35 AM PDT
India sticks with Iran, for now
By Sultan Shahin
NEW DELHI - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent visit to India and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's present trip to Turkey have brought to light the complicated balancing act India is forced to play in its foreign policy. Israel, Turkey and, more important, the United States are all unhappy with India's close strategic ties with the Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran. But if India has to continue to pursue its policy of encirclement of Pakistan, it needs to maintain close ties with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries bordering Pakistan.
New Delhi has, therefore, made it clear to the Israeli leader, who raised the issue of Iran, that its ties with Tehran are non-negotiable. India could accommodate Israeli concerns on some issues, but not on its ties with Iran. India has not initiated anti-Israeli resolutions in the United Nations on the question of Palestine for several years, as it used to do during the Cold War era; Israeli leaders have noted this fact with satisfaction. But India could not completely abandon Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat or support Israel's stated desire to eliminate him, even by killing him.
Similarly, India agreed not to pass Israeli defense technology on to Iran. Sharon was assured of this at the highest level. But India could not give up its strategic ties with that country, he was also told. This was in response to Sharon demanding from India what he called "reciprocity". He insisted that this must constitute the basis of Indo-Israeli ties. In return for the Phalcon radar system and sensitive intelligence reports on terrorism, for instance, Israel asked India to disavow anti-Israel resolutions in the UN and other multilateral bodies. More significant, it also asked India to be mindful of Israel's security concerns before developing even closer ties to Iran.
If Israel, with its superior military prowess, known nuclear capability and unquestioning support of the sole superpower is so wary of growing India-Iran ties, then the latter has even more reason to be wary of growing India-Israel ties. Since 1981, when Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, Iran, possibly with its own nuclear-weapon ambitions in mind, has been particularly fearful of a similar Israeli attack on its reactors. Israel has signed a treaty with Turkey that allows it to take advantage of its air bases. It has also developed relations with Azerbaijan. This has given Israel the possibility of coming closer to the Iranian borders, heightening security concerns in Tehran with regard to its northern and northwestern borders.
No wonder Iran is making all-out efforts to improve its air-defense capability against air raids by the Israeli air force. But after it had started breathing somewhat easily after testing its Shahab-3 missiles in July 2000, as these missiles can threaten Israel directly, it now finds itself surrounded by the chief Israeli patron, the United States, on both sides. In its perception, the predatory US imperialism on the rampage in the region represents an even greater danger than the Israeli presence.
Iran is thus bound to feel more concerned than ever. The difference in US attitude and behavior toward North Korea, suspected to have already developed a few nuclear weapons, and Iraq, which was known to have no nuclear capability, and perhaps also known to US and British intelligence to have no other weapons of mass destruction, could not have escaped the notice of the ruling clerics in Tehran. In this situation the development of an India-Israeli-US nexus cannot but heighten their worries. But apparently India has told them that its relationship with Israel and the United States, too, is equally non-negotiable.
India's close strategic ties with Iran worry other friends of India as well, as does its developing relationship with Israel. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is a Sunni Wahhabi fundamentalist country that spawned al-Qaeda. Though a US ally, it is no friend of Israel. It could not possibly be pleased with India coming closer to a Shi'ite fundamentalist country like Iran, which considers the Sunni Wahhabi Taliban to be Islamic deviants. During the Vajpayee visit to Iran a couple of years ago, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, in fact, made an entirely unsolicited reference to growing "terrorism, violence, rebellion and narcotics trafficking" in the then Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, and added that he was "deeply regretful that such crimes are committed in the name of Islam".
He also condemned the destruction of the Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan and regretted the misuse of Islam by the Taliban forces. This could not have been music to Saudi ears, but India managed to maintain its close relations with both countries.
Similarly, despite its closeness with Iran, forged first by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi with the Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi, in the 1970s, and renewed with the fundamentalist regime by then prime minister Narasimha Rao in early 1990s, India continued to maintain close ties with Iraq under Saddam Hussein. A secular dictatorship, Iraq was the only Muslim country to support India unhesitatingly on the question of Kashmir or in its war against Pakistan in 1971 for the struggle that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
India is, of course, not the only country that has to walk a tightrope in maintaining friends with widely divergent and sometimes entirely contradictory or even hostile perspectives. Many countries, or perhaps all countries, do so at one time or other, in one case or another. This has particularly been the case since the end of Cold War. But India is faced with unique problems in maintaining its relations with Iran because this relationship does not only expose inconsistencies in its foreign policy, but also contradictions in its domestic political dynamics.
India's coalition government is led by the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP's mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), and sister organizations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Forum) and Shiv Sena (Shivaji's Army) etc that constitute the extended family of Hindu fundamentalists called the Sangh Parivar abide by the Hindutva philosophy of "cultural nationalism", which looks at the world Muslim community as one nation.
Hindutva's cultural nationalism predates Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" theory by almost a century. The idea of a Muslim monolith is so deeply ingrained that even if they try to do so, Hindutva ideologues confess that they are unable to distinguish an Indian Muslim from a Pakistani or that of any other nationality. Then the term used for Muslims by top Hindutva politicians is invariably jihadi or terrorist. This is essential if an irrational fear of Muslims has to be instilled in the largely secular Hindu majority nurtured for millennia on the eclectic and large-hearted Hindu philosophy that never closed its doors on new ideas or religions.
Secularism is the foundation of the Indian constitution and its democratic system, but one can almost daily watch on television Hindutva leaders railing against the so-called secularists and reiterating their vow to root out secularism from the country. But this Hindutva vision of a terrorist Muslim monolith oppressing the world, including India, runs into a direct clash with India's mature conduct of its foreign policy aims based on its perception of its national interest and requirements of realpolitik. The BJP's Hindutva ideology, for instance, would demand that it go the whole hog with Israel and the United States in destroying Iran, the second destination, after Iraq, in President George W Bush's war against his "axis of evil".
A nuclear-powered Islamic fundamentalist country that supports terrorist organizations in Lebanon, Palestine and Pakistan would be a greater danger to the world and should obviously be stopped before it acquires nuclear weapons. A Muslim Turkey run by an Islamic party - in all but name - might help Israel and the US encircle and destroy Iran, or at least its nuclear reactors when the time comes, which may be sooner rather than later. Yet an India run by Hindutva ideologues is maintaining ever-growing close strategic ties with that country and considers its relations non-negotiable. And this at a time when even the majority of Iranian people want to get rid of Islamic fundamentalists and go back to secular democratic governance denied to them by the greatest proponent of democracy in the world, the United States, which overthrew the democratically elected Mossadeq government in 1953 and installed a king.
A Hindutva-run India has also no problem in maintaining close relations with Saudi Arabia, another fountain of Islamic fundamentalism. This, of course, is demanded by India's national interests, as perceived by nearly all political parties. India's Iran policy, too, has bipartisan support. In fact most of the initiatives of Indian foreign policy as it exists today were embarked on by the secular Congress party now in opposition and by and large followed by socialist and communist parties that had influence in the central government before the BJP came to power.
This is deeply embarrassing for the Hindutva politicians. But they cannot run a foreign policy as dictated by the situation India finds itself in today if they treat the Muslim ummah (world Muslim community) as one terrorist monolith. They were pleasantly surprised last year when, after the large-scale massacres of Muslims in Gujarat, in which the BJP state government was directly implicated, the only countries that did not criticize India were Muslim. While the Christian West spoke up and denounced the government in no uncertain terms, asking it to provide justice to the thousands of victims and rehabilitate the millions of uprooted, the world Muslim community remained silent.
As pre-election communal cleansing of minorities constitutes an essential part of election strategies of ruling parties - the main opposition Congress party, too, thought so while it ruled, but seems to disagree now - and as the BJP moves inexorably in this direction in the election year ahead, it can only count on the support of Muslim countries and Israel: the rest of the world will denounce another communal conflagration in equally severe terms if the number of killed again starts going beyond a thousand, the benchmark the West seems to follow in such situations.
The BJP still recalls with gratitude the response of the Muslim world, particularly Iran, to the demolition of the 16th-century Babri mosque in December 1992, a joint Congress-BJP operation conducted by a Congress-run central government and a BJP-controlled Uttar Pradesh (UP) state government. While the country was still nursing the wounds inflicted by the demolition and the widespread massacres that had followed, the then Iranian president Rafsanjani visited UP's capital city Lucknow and declared that he had full faith in India's secularism and the ability of its constitutional system to safeguard its Muslims.
It goes to the credit of Hindutva leaders that they did not allow their ideological proclivities to cloud their vision and have pursued a foreign policy that by and large has near-unanimous support from the entire political spectrum. Despite Pakistani pretensions of leading the Muslim world, India has maintained and further developed close ties with almost all Muslim countries, while remaining firm on its stance on Kashmir and Pakistan. This is no mean achievement and the credit should go to Vajpayee, who succeeded in doing this in a very difficult situation. He obviously learned well the lessons of his first stint as minister in 1977-79 when he handled the external affairs portfolio with great aplomb.
But this complicated and fascinating balancing act that is the conduct of Indian foreign policy is soon going to get even more complex. That Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons is not proved yet, but apparently UN inspectors suspect it. They have found hidden reserves of enriched uranium at Iran's gas-centrifuge project at Natanz, being ostensibly developed as a civilian nuclear power plant. Since the declared intent for Natanz' single-centrifuge "test stands" was to optimize centrifuge designs, which normally involves the enrichment of trace amounts of uranium, the question is naturally being asked: where did the extra radioactive material come from? The Iranian explanation that the damning uranium probably found its way to the site "inadvertently" from an overseas supplier has only swung the needle of suspicion still more its way.
Iran knows, as does the world, that its survival as an independent country depends on how fast it develops nuclear weapons. Right now may be the best time. The United States is stuck in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, on both sides of its borders, unable to move to invade and occupy, as Iran justly fears. Even if Iran agrees to all of the nuclear watchdogs' conditions - by October 31 - it would still not stop the country from trashing the Non-Proliferation Treaty at some point and going ahead with its weapon-building project, if it indeed has one. So, to take the worst-case scenario, or the best case, depending on which side of the fence you are, Iran could have a nuclear weapon or two ready within a year.
It is inconceivable that Israel would allow this to happen. It may not have much time left to engage in an Osirak-like attack against Iranian nuclear reactors. But will Iran use its Shahab-3 missiles then to rain mayhem and destruction on Israel? And will the United States then wait for further proof of Iranian "evil" to march next door from its sanctuaries in Iraq and Afghanistan? India must be ready with its response to such not very unlikely scenarios.
(Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact email@example.com
for information on our sales and syndication policies.) http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/EI20Df04.html
posted on 09/19/2003 8:29:40 AM PDT
EU Big Three Offered Iran Carrot for Nuclear Deal
Fri September 19, 2003 08:14 AM ET
By Paul Taylor and Louis Charbonneau
BRUSSELS/VIENNA (Reuters) -
Britain, Germany and France defied the United States last month by offering Iran the prospect of sharing technology if it stops its disputed nuclear fuel enrichment program and accepts tougher U.N. inspections.
Western diplomats told Reuters a joint letter by the big three European foreign ministers, the content of which has not previously been disclosed, was delivered to Tehran in early August despite intense lobbying by Washington.
It highlighted a gulf between the Bush administration and even its closest European ally, Britain, on whether to engage or isolate the Islamic republic.
The Europeans urged Iran to sign, implement and ratify a protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that provides for intrusive, short-notice inspections and to halt its uranium enrichment program, which the West fears could be at the heart of a clandestine nuclear arms program.
In return for compliance, the letter raised the prospect of cooperation on technology, without specifically pledging help with a civilian nuclear energy program, the sources said.
"Washington did not consider it very helpful at all. They were worried it ran the risk of splitting Europe and America on this issue, and they talked to their friends and colleagues in Europe about that and attempted to dissuade them from sending the letter," a diplomat familiar with the exchanges said.
European diplomats said they were disappointed there had not been a more specific reply from Tehran so far.
On August 18, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami wrote a general letter to European leaders, including EU president Italy, pledging that Iran would never divert its civilian nuclear program for military purposes and had decided to enter immediate talks on the so-called additional protocol.
But that message, seen by Reuters, did not commit Iran to sign or ratify the protocol, and European diplomats question whether Khatami, locked in a power struggle with hardline clerics, has effective control over the nuclear program.
Since the Europeans' letter was sent, growing attention at the International Atomic Energy Agency has focused on the need to know more about Iran's past nuclear activities as well as to enforce intrusive spot checks in future, diplomats said.
The governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, in a vote that united Americans and Europeans, gave Tehran an ultimatum last week to prove by October 31 it has no secret weapons program or be reported to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
But a diplomat from one of the European states stressed that the joint British, French and German initiative remained valid.
"The offer still stands," he said. http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=3473943
Ex-diplomat in Court
September 19, 2003
A former Iranian diplomat accused of masterminding a terrorist plot which killed 85 people and injured 100 others, has appeared in court in London.
The Argentinian government is asking for the extradition of Hade Soleimanpour, to face charges he helped organise a car bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994.
The career diplomat was Iran's ambassador to Argentina at the time of the attack.
He appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court where the details of his bail arrangements were confirmed and the date of his next appearance set for October 23.
Soleimanpour, wearing a brown suit jacket, black trousers and a beige T-shirt, ran a gauntlet of abuse as he arrived.
Protesters from the National Council of Resistance of Iran chanted "terrorist, terrorist, terrorist," and "one less terrorist out of UK" amid tight security ahead of the short 15-minute hearing.
Soleimanpour left in a waiting taxi to more screams of abuse from demonstrators.
Soleimanpour, 47, who is currently studying for a PhD in nature-based tourism at Durham University, has denied any involvement in the attack.
He was released from custody last week after a hearing at the High Court in London which granted bail for £730,000.
Argentina claims Tehran ordered and financed the July 18 bombing, but that Soleimanpour had chosen to spend much of his time since the attack in countries from which he could not be extradited.
His arrest has threatened to trigger a diplomatic row with Tehran, which has called for him to be released and for the British Government to apologise. http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30200-12790288,00.html
Russia-Iran Nuclear Deal 'Far Off'
September 19, 2003
Russia has said there is no immediate prospect of a deal to provide Iran with fuel to launch its first nuclear power plant.
Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev said the talks had stalled over arrangements for the return of spent fuel to Russia and that they "could last a long time".
Russia is building the $800 million plant in Bushehr despite strong pressure from the United States to drop the project, as Washington accuses Tehran of secretly developing an illegal weapons programme.
Meanwhile, Reuters news agency - quoting western diplomats - said Britain, Germany and France had sent a joint letter to Iran, offering it the prospect of sharing nuclear technology if it stops its controversial nuclear programme.
The diplomats said the letter - which was sent in August - had urged Iran to sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), allowing tougher inspections by the United Nations nuclear agency.
The agency - the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - has been pressing Iran to disclose the full extent of its nuclear activities and has given it until October to do so.
Iran denies all the charge, saying that its nuclear programme is designed exclusively to meet the country's energy needs.
The talks between Russia and Iran have reportedly broken down over Iran's demand that Russia pays for the spent fuel, which Moscow refuses to do.
"An option for us could be to increase the price of fresh fuel. Talks are going on and it is premature to talk about any financial scheme at the moment," Mr Rumyantsev said on Friday.
He also played down the confusion over the deal, which has strained relations between Moscow and Washington.
"I don't see any sensation in this. This is a normal process," he added.
Mr Rumyantsev - who was speaking after talks in Moscow with US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham - denied any suggestion that Moscow was delaying the deal under pressure from Washington.
"This does not correspond to reality," he said.
Russian officials have repeatedly stated that they share US concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but insist that Washington's accusations against Iran lack proof.
The Bushehr nuclear power station in due to become operational in 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3122068.stm
Royal Dutch/Shell Not Planning Bid for Iran's Azadegan Project
September 19, 2003
LONDON -- Royal Dutch/Shell Group said it is at present not planning to bid for the massive Azadegan project in Iran. Azadegan, located in southern Iran, is considered to be the country's biggest oil field with potential reserves of around 26 bln barrels of crude oil.
A Shell spokesman said the group, which serves as a consultant to the Japanese consortium developing the field, has no intention of acquiring a stake in the project at the moment.
"The Japanese consortium will first have to negotiate and sign an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Co before they can nominate their partners. Only then will we consider whether or not to join them," he said.
A team of Japanese companies, including Tomen Corp, Japanese Petroleum Exploration Co and Inpex Corp, won the preferential rights to develop the field in November 2000.
But the conclusion of the contract has been delayed, mainly due to Japan's fear that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The US is also said to be exerting pressure on Tokyo to go slow on the discussions on the 2.8 bln usd project.
A meeting regarding the project was held in Tehran on Sept 16.
"Shell did not attend that meeting," the spokesman added.
Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri reported that the Iranian government, frustrated by the delays in the talks with the Japanese consortium, is planning to invite Shell, France's Total, China's Sinopec Corp, and other several major oil companies to develop the field.
Quoting sources, the newspaper said Tehran has "unofficially" notified Tokyo that it will not be invited to join the fresh tender for the project. http://www.iii.co.uk/shares/?type=news&articleid=4749949&action=article
Argentina Submits Extradition Evidence
September 19, 2003
A court in London has been told that the British Government has received some 2,500 pages of evidence from Argentina to back an extradition request lodged in London against a former Iranian diplomat.
The Iranian former ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour has been accused by a judge in Argentina of being involved in the bombing of a Jewish cultural centre nine years ago when over 80 people were killed.
He denies the charge and is resisting extradition to Argentina. The case has caused a three-way diplomatic rift between Britain, Iran and Argentina.
Mr Soleimanpour is currently resident in Britain and on bail pending the outcome of the case.
The UK Home Office confirmed to Bow Street Magistrates Court in central London that it had now received documents from the Argentine government allegedly showing Mr Soleimanpour's involvement with the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish centre.
Mr Soleimanpour's defence lawyers dismissed the documents as "background reading" and said they would not prove anything against their client.
The UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett, now has five weeks to study the Argentine papers to decide whether to go ahead with the extradition case, which the defence lawyers say they will fight.
The Iranian Government has vigorously denied the allegations against Mr Soleimanpour and demanded the case be dropped.
The affair has caused a diplomatic crisis between Argentina and Iran and strained relations between London and Tehran.
Anti-Iranian Government demonstrators gathered outside the courtroom on Friday shouting "terrorist, terrorist" as Mr Soleimanpour entered.
But the former diplomat looked unflustered. The Court relaxed Mr Soleimanpour's bail conditions, allowing him to spend weekdays in London at a house owned by the Iranian Government so that he can consult more easily with his lawyers.
Until now he had been required to stay at his home in the north of England. Mr Soleimanpour has deposited over m in bail, most of it paid by the Iranian Government. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3123590.stm
Cleric urges Iran to defy nuke inspection calls
By Roula Khalaf in London
Published: September 19 2003 20:31 | Last Updated: September 19 2003 21:25
A leading Iranian conservative cleric called on the government on Friday to defy international demands for enhanced nuclear inspections and suggested that Tehran should consider withdrawing from the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.
The comments by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a hardliner and head of the powerful Guardian Council, reflected an intensifying domestic struggle as Tehran weighs its response to last week's resolution by the UN's nuclear watchdog. The resolution gave it until October 31 to answer all outstanding questions about its nuclear programme.
The statements came as western diplomats confirmed that the UK, France and Britain had tried early this month to persuade Iran to agree to enhanced inspections of nuclear facilities.
A letter from the foreign ministers of the three countries urged Iran to agree to the inspections, but also held out the prospect of technology co-operation on a peaceful nuclear programme.
Western diplomats who watch nuclear developments in Iran closely said Tehran had yet to decide how it would deal with the resolution passed by the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The resolution called on Iran to provide by the end of next month the information and access necessary to convince the IAEA that it is not diverting nuclear material to weapons production. It also asked Iran to agree immediately to short-notice inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Tehran insists its programme is designed for energy generation, but the US believes it is a front for developing nuclear weapons.
Speaking during Friday prayers, Ayatollah Jannati said Iran should "under no circumstances" sign the "additional protocol" to the NPT, the agreement that would allow for enhanced inspections of nuclear facilities and is demanded by the IAEA.
"[It] is imposing an extra humiliation," he said. "What's the problem about withdrawing from the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty? North Korea withdrew. Many countries have not even signed it."
The comments the first such open call from a cleric contrasted with a more moderate message sent this week by the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami, the president. Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Iranian vice-president, told the IAEA that he remained hopeful Iran would meet its commitments under the new resolution.
UK officials played down suggestions Iran had been offered a quid pro quo in the letter sent before the IAEA meeting a gesture underlining that EU policy towards Iran remains committed to engagement rather than the isolation advocated by the US.
Diplomats said Iran will have to signal how it will deal with the IAEA resolution before September 27, when a team of UN inspectors and centrifuge experts are planning a visit to Tehran in the first of a series of trips. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1059479981183
IAEA: No Deal For Iran on Nuclear Inspections
19 Sep 2003, 18:49 UTC
The U.N. nuclear agency says Iran cannot be offered a special deal to sign an agreement allowing tougher U.N. inspections of its nuclear program. A spokesman for the agency, Mark Gwozdecky, described the so-called "additional protocol" as "one-size-fits-all." He said by signing it, Iran would gain credibility and could prove to the world that it does not have a nuclear weapons program.
Meanwhile, news reports say Britain, France, and Germany sent Tehran a letter offering the prospect of sharing technology if Iran signs the protocol.
Diplomats say the United States opposed the offer, and tried to persuade the three countries not to send the letter.
Last week, the U.N. nuclear agency's board of governors passed a resolution calling on Iran to unconditionally sign and implement the protocol, an addition to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The resolution received the backing of all board members and set a deadline of the end of October for Iran to comply. The Iranian delegation walked out of the meeting.
Some information for this report provided by AFP. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=C1CF5C7D-9C45-4193-BF889EA278190292
IRAN NEEDS TIME TO ACCELERATE ITS NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY
By Safa Haeri
PARIS, 19 Sept. (IPS)
"What the Iranian regime needs above all is to gain enough time to explode its first atomic bomb in order to place the international community in face of a fait accompli", according to a prominent Iranian political dissident.
Dr. Qasem Sholeh Sadi, a respected lawyer and scholar made the comment as the ruling Iranian ayatollahs remain sharply divided as how to answer to demands from the United Nations nuclear energy watchdog to disclose all its atomic programs and stop uranium enriching activities.
In his opinion, the regime needs time to accelerate its nuclear technology. "If, for instance, it could proceed to an atomic explosion, then it has to be accepted as a nuclear power, regardless of sanctions it might face, as seen in the case of Pakistan. Whether one likes it or not, the world would have no other choice but to accept the fait accompli", he explained.
In a resolution formulated by Australia, Canada and Japan on 12 September and approved without vote taking, the Board of Directors of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) urged the Islamic Republic to sign "immediately and unconditionally" the additional Protocols to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) before 31 of October and inform the Agency about all its nuclear projects and facilities, including its secret uranium enriching plants.
So far, Tehran has not responded to the demands, arguing that the 35-members Board, under pressures from the United States and some of its European allies like Britain, France and Germany, has made a "political" decision.
Washington and Israel alleges that ongoing Iranian project of building an atomic powered electrical plant at Boosheher, on the Persian Gulf with the help of Russia is a "cover" for making an atomic bomb, a claim strongly rejected by both Tehran and Moscow.
Experts from IAEA, for their part, have reported the existence of secret sites where Iranians are busy enriching uranium, a process necessary for nuclear explosion.
The Resolution infuriated the Iranian clerical leadership and in the absence of any official decision, the press, both conservative and reformist, have reacted strongly, urging the authorities to expel the ambassadors of the three countries that originated the Resolution, to revise relations with IAEA and get out of the NPT.
With the leadership undecided on what to do, some experts have suggested to put the decision to a popular vote.
To this question, put to him on Friday by the Persian service of Radio France International, Mr. Sholeh Sadi said though constitutionally the authorities could revert to this solution, but whatever the answer, it would solve nothing since either way it chose is a "dead end".
"The difficulty is not with referendum, but the Resolution. If Iran bows and signs the Protocols, it opens the road for unconditional, unrestricted inspections by the IAEAs experts. They can go anywhere, inspect everything, as they did in Iraq, where they even inspected Saddams bedroom. The same scenario would await Iran. Not only it loses its sovereignty, but also face sanctions by (the United Nations) Security Council", Mr. Sholeh Sadi observed, adding: "And if they dont sign, they would accelerate the process of sanctions".
Reminding that the Islamic Republic is facing an international consensus, Mr. Sholeh Sadi, who spent 40 days in prison last August on charges of having questioned Ayatollah Ali Khamenehis religious and political credetials, said the ruling conservatives would welcome a "foreign enemy" in order to "mobilize" their forces.
"Having in mind the bitter experience of the last city councils elections and afraid to see the desertion of the voters repeated at the forthcoming Majles elections (due on 21 February 2004), an exercise that would diminish further the legitimacy of the regime, an international showdown and a foreign enemy, both realities, not only can help the conservatives to prepare a mobilization, but also give them the time factor that they need above everything", he pointed out.
"Furthermore, we are also at the beginning of American presidential elections. Here again, the time factor might help the Iranian in the eventual case that the White House is controlled by the Democrats who, anyway, have their different methods than that of the Republicans, improving the future situation of Iran", observed Mr. Sholeh Sadi, a founder and spokesman for the "Iranian For Democracy Party" that is in the process of being formed.
When told that the other side might do the same calculation and not provide the Islamic regime with the time factor, he said dealing (attacking) Iran is not that easy. "It took (the Allied) more than a year of preparation for (attacking) Iraq. Even though Iran is under international pressures and in some ways, its situation might be worse of that of Iraq, yet, it would take months, if not years, before all preparations are complete". ENDS. IAEA IRAN 19903 http://www.iran-press-service.com/
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Good Day, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am curious what the real difference between the factors of Ideology radical shiism/Isam concerning Irans relationship with the United States in contrast to other countries?
In other words, how much is ideology a factor to other countries (Western and non Western) outside the United States?
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