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Iranian Alert -- October 10, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD PING LIST
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 10/10/2003 12:13:20 AM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.
But most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations.
The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts.
Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough.
If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
PS I have a daily ping list and a breaking news ping list. If you would like to receive alerts to these stories please let me know which list you would like to join.
TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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US hawk warns Iran threat must be eliminated
Friday October 10, 2003
An American official warned yesterday that the potential threat posed by Iran's nuclear programme had to be "eliminated" and predicted Tehran would try to "throw sand" in the eyes of the world to avoid a confrontation at the UN.
John Bolton, deputy under secretary of state for arms control, who is regarded as the state department's chief hawk, was speaking to journalists in London where he reaffirmed the Bush administration's notion of "rogue states" which threatened US interests.
Top of the list were Iran and North Korea, he said. "There is awareness of the threat posed by Iran and consensus that threat has to be eliminated," he said referring to the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.
Iran "will try and throw sand in our eyes" mixing cooperation and obfuscation "to conceal as much as they can, to delay and to avoid having the issue referred to the security council," said Mr Bolton.
The UN international atomic energy agency has given Iran until October 31 to prove it does not have a nuclear weapons programme. Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian president, said on Wednesday that Tehran would offer whatever cooperation was needed to show its nuclear programme was to produce electricity.
Mr Bolton yesterday questioned the need for Iran to produce nuclear power, given the size of its natural gas and oil reserves. He said the existing non-proliferation treaty needed to be strengthened to deal with Iran which, he speculated, could have a nuclear weapons capability "probably towards the end of the decade".
He said North Korea was being dealt with by multilateral talks conducted by China, and that Pakistan had denied trading in nuclear materials with North Korea. "We take them at their word," he said. Asked about Israel's nuclear weapons capability, he replied: "The issue for the US is what poses a threat to the US."
On Iraq, Mr Bolton said "the purpose of military action was to eliminate the regime ... The real security risk was the regime". He implied it was not weapons of mass destruction that was the issue but whose hands they were in.
Mr Bolton described the "level of cooperation" from Syria - which Washington accuses of manufacturing chemical weapons and harbouring terrorists - as "not satisfactory".
He did not specify what action the US might take against Iran and Syria beyond pointing out that the US already imposes sanctions against Iran and that Congress was poised to adopt a law applying them to Syria.
He said Libya, a country with which Britain is now developing closer ties, had "increased efforts to acquire biological, chemical, and nuclear, weapons".
Mr Bolton was in London for meetings on US plans to intercept ships and aircraft suspected of trafficking weapons of mass destruction. http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1060030,00.html
U.N. nuclear agency warns Iran 'time is running out'
By Roula Khalaf in Vienna
Published: October 9, 2003
The chief United Nations nuclear inspector on Thursday called on Iran to accelerate its co-operation with his agency. He warned that time was running out for Tehran to comply with an end of October deadline and provide full transparency to allay international concerns over its nuclear programme.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is aimed at peaceful energy production, but the US maintains it is a front for developing nuclear weapons.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, said teams of inspectors sent last week were given access to sites they had requested and received fresh information from the Iranian authorities.
But he stressed that the amount and flow of information remained inadequate.
The IAEA's governing board last month set a deadline of the end of October for Iran to provide inspectors with assurances that it had not diverted nuclear material to weapons use. Failure to meet the deadline would escalate the dispute by sending it to the UN Security Council, where the US would seek a statement that increased diplomatic pressure on Iran and countries that had assisted its nuclear programme.
The IAEA board's pressure on Iran appears to have intensified the debate between hardliners and reformists within the Tehran regime over the merits of co-operation.
Mohamed Khatami, the president, this week said Iran would provide all necessary co-operation to prove it was not developing nuclear weapons.
"They've promised information will be forthcoming but it has not yet been provided," Mr ElBaradei said. "The central question is whether Iran has any [uranium] enrichment activities that we have not been informed about. On that question I haven't got satisfactory information."
Iran has also said it would provide a list of all imported components to address an important sticking point with the IAEA and convince inspectors that traces of weapons-grade uranium found at two sites were the result of contaminated equipment purchased from abroad.
Mr ElBaradei, however, stressed that he needed to know the origin of the components to verify Iranian assertions.
Iran has insisted that it would continue enriching uranium despite the IAEA governing board's call for it to suspend such activities. Mr ElBaradei said the suspension of uranium enrichment was demanded as a confidence-building measure and failure to comply with the request would not constitute a violation of Iran's Safeguards Agreement.
Iran has also given conflicting signals as to whether it would sign an agreement, known as the additional protocol, to allow more intrusive inspections of nuclear sites. Mr ElBaradei said the agreement was essential for the future, but was not his immediate priority.
Speaking in London on Thursday, John Bolton, US undersecretary of state for arms control, predicted Iran would "co-operate a little" with the IAEA, to buy time.
He said Iran would be capable of producing nuclear weapons "towards the end of the decade". http://www.nytimes.com/financialtimes/business/FT1059480478752.html
posted on 10/10/2003 9:32:39 AM PDT
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Life isn't fair. It's fairer than death, is all.")
To: Pan_Yans Wife
Missing Israeli navigator alive and held in prison near Tehran
Israeli navigator Ron Arad, missing since his plane came down over Lebanon in 1986, is alive and being detained in a prison near Tehran, three exiled Iranian officials revealed.
Top-selling Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot stressed however that it was unable to check the reports, which come at a sensitive time in negotiations for a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Tehran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
The newspaper's sources were two intelligence officers and a diplomat who fled Iran in recent years.
"He was very thin, weighing about 60 kilograms (130 pounds). He was in a wheelchair. He had quite a thin beard. His face was wrinkled, he was staring into space and had a sad look," said one of them, who reportedly saw Arad three years ago.
"One source said that when Ron Arad was imprisoned in Tehran in 1998, he was hospitalized twice for heart trouble," the newspaper wrote Friday.
According to the Yediot, Arad tried to escape his captors while still in Lebanon, was transferred to Syria in 1994 and later to Iran.
"Before Ron Arad's transfer to Iran, it was decided to operate on his knees in order to paralyze the lower part of his legs, with the purpose of preventing him from having any possibility of attempting to escape," the paper said.
Arad's family has been leading a campaign to ensure the fate of the navigator, widely believed dead, is not separated from that of other Israelis involved in a possible prisoner swap.
According to Israeli public radio, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held a special cabinet meeting Friday to define his government's position on the issue.
Health Minister Danny Naveh was expected to travel to Egypt early next week to meet Azzam Azzam, an Israeli serving a life sentence of hard labour there for spying and who could also be included in an exchange, the radio added.
In October 2000, Hezbollah captured three Israeli soldiers -- whom Israel believes dead -- in a disputed border area. They also seized businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, a reserve colonel who the guerrilla group alleges was a spy.
The Israeli judiciary has authorised publication of the circumstances of Tannenbaum's capture, court sources said, but the radio said his family would appeal the ruling, arguing the information could affect his chances of being released.
Israel holds around 20 Lebanese detainees, including Shiite Muslim fundamentalist leaders Abdel Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, who were captured to be used as a bargaining chip in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1312&ncid=1312&e=1&u=/afp/20031010/wl_mideast_afp/israel_lebanon_hezbollah_iran_031010135556
posted on 10/10/2003 9:49:00 AM PDT
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Life isn't fair. It's fairer than death, is all.")
To: Pan_Yans Wife
Tehran "happy" with Ebadi's Nobel Peace Prize award
Fri Oct 10, 7:20 AM ET
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's reformist government said it was "happy" over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian rights activist Shirin Ebadi.
"We are happy that an Iranian Muslim woman was qualified to be noticed by the world community for her activities in bringing about peace," official government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh told AFP.
"We hope that we could use her expert views more in Iran," he added Friday.
For his part, Vice President Ali Abtahi said the award highlighted the active role of Iranian women in trying to shape how the Islamic republic is run.
"I am very happy that an Iranian and above all a woman has won the Nobel Peace Prize," he told AFP. "It is a sign of the very active presence of Iranian women on the social and political scene.
"The fact that a lawyer has won this prize gives us hope that the judicial system will change its methods," he added, referring to the conservative-controlled judiciary in Iran. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20031010/wl_mideast_afp/nobel_peace_iran_ebadi_031010112008
posted on 10/10/2003 9:52:00 AM PDT
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Life isn't fair. It's fairer than death, is all.")
To: Pan_Yans Wife
Iran and Israel: best of enemies?
The prospective Israel-Hizbullah prisoner swap that has been discussed in recent weeks is perhaps more than a bilateral deal that also happens to involve Iran and Germany. Given the close relationship between Tehran and Hizbullah, Iranian involvement was not entirely unexpected. This leads one to reflect on the prospects for an improvement in Iranian-Israeli relations Iranian interests cannot rule this out even if such an option is highly improbable at present.
According to press reports, Israel seeks information on the whereabouts of air force navigator Ron Arad, the remains of three Israeli soldiers and the release of Israeli reservist and businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum. In return, Hizbullah wants the release of all Lebanese prisoners, including two officials directly or indirectly affiliated with the party, Abdul Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, as well as that of Palestinian and Arab detainees.
The Iranian angle was hinted at in early August in the Tel Aviv Russian-language daily Novosti Nedeli. Citing anonymous Israeli government sources, the daily said that during Iranian-American negotiations over the possible exchange of Al-Qaeda suspects in Iran for members of the Iranian Mujahideen Khalq opposition group in Iraq, an Iranian representative raised the possibility of releasing Tennenbaum and repatriating the dead soldiers remains. Washington reportedly rejected the proposal, but according to Novosti Nedeli the Iranian and Israeli sides pursued their talks. Added to the mix was Tehrans demand that four Iranian diplomats who disappeared in Lebanon in 1982 be released. Iran believes Israel is holding them.
Confirmation of an Iranian angle appeared in late September, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Iranians imprisoned in Europe might be part of a deal with Hizbullah. This appeared to be a reference to Iranian intelligence officer Kazem Darabi, who along with several Lebanese men was convicted by a Berlin court in April 1997 for the 1992 killings of Kurdish dissidents. The role of German mediator Ernst Urlau in the negotiations is not unprecedented. In 1996, for example, Berlin brokered the exchange of two dead Israeli soldiers for 45 prisoners and the remains of 123 Lebanese combatants. In late-1999, five Hizbullah members held by Israel were released following negotiations also involving Iran and Germany. As of Oct. 9, the status of the Hizbullah-Israeli negotiations remained undetermined, with questions being raised about Tennenbaums physical state and with Arads family trying to block Diranis release through a court injunction. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz asserted on Oct. 3 that Arad was alive and that Iran was responsible for returning him to Israel. Arads family repeated the charge a few days later. However, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi reaffirmed that Tehran had no information on the airman.
Less obscure is the current state of Iranian-Israeli relations. It seems unlikely that any deal, whether it involves Iranians or not, will have a positive impact on a very hostile relationship. During a military parade in Tehran on Sept. 22, for example, Irans new 1,300-kilometer-range Shihab-3 missiles bore the slogan Israel must be wiped off the map. At an August conference at Tehran University organized by the student committee for the Support for the Palestinian Intifada, a group headed by Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, the final resolution called for annihilation of the Zionist regime. Speakers praised Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, referring to them as martyrdom operations. Iran also hosted Support for the Palestinian Intifada conferences in April 2001 and June 2002. At the latter event representatives of Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command heard Mohtashami-Pur refer to Israel as a cancerous tumor.
It is too simplistic to dismiss such statements as rhetoric meant only for internal consumption. Words have an impact on perceptions and can strengthen preconceptions. In an August interview with the French daily Le Figaro, Sharon referred specifically to the Shihab missiles and Tehrans relationship with Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, adding: In the Middle East, Iran is now (Israels) greatest threat. During a September trip to India, he tried to dissuade New Delhi from transferring technology to Iran.
Iranian officials are masters of realpolitik. Tehran criticized the US attack on Taleban-led Afghanistan, but cooperated with the US military and with the post-war negotiations in Bonn. Even though it has criticized the US-led war in Iraq and the subsequent occupation, Tehran has tacitly recognized the interim Iraqi Governing Council and will participate in a multilateral donors conference in Madrid later this month. For all the Iranian chanting of death to America, Iran and the US hold intermittent bilateral discussions on matters of mutual concern.
Can this lead to expectations of a similar trend in Iranian-Israeli relations? Irans hostility to Israel has religious roots and is also a welcome source of agreement with Irans predominantly Arab and Sunni neighbors. These factors, plus the negligible direct benefits of relations with Israel, suggest that Iran will see little advantage in changing the status quo. Nor is Israel keen to improve its relations with Tehran. After the bombing in Haifa last Saturday that killed 19 people and wounded 60 others, Sharons adviser, Dore Gold, described an axis of terror that begins in Iran.
Such mutual perceptions play strongly against bilateral, government-to-government contacts in the near future. This could change, however, as the current generation of Iranian leaders dies off. Approximately two-thirds of the Iranian population is under the age of 30, and has no memory of such formative experiences as life under the pro-Israel monarchy, activism during the 1978-1979 revolution, or fighting in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. They will undoubtedly sympathize with the Palestinians, but are unlikely to support the activities of groups like Hamas. Until, indeed if, such a change occurs, Iranian-Israeli contacts will continue to take place through intermediaries, even when they are of direct concern to both sides.
William Samii, a regional analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., writes the RFE/RL Iran Report (www.rferl.org/iran-report). The views expressed here are his own. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR
posted on 10/10/2003 10:09:15 AM PDT
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Life isn't fair. It's fairer than death, is all.")
To: F14 Pilot
Whither reform in Iran?
Student protests prompt predictions of Islamic Republics demise
Ten days of raucous student demonstrations across Iran in June prompted fresh predictions of the Iranian regimes imminent demise. But by July, regime hard-liners had regained the upper hand by arresting some 4,000 people. This summers back-and-forth is yet another indication that in Iran a highly contentious but gradual process of political change is more likely than revolution. An increasingly complex and often tense relationship between two leading groups pushing for reform university students and the reformists who dominate Parliament as well as several ministries has profound implications for how such change will unfold in the coming year.
Since 1997 student groups with longstanding ties to leftist forces provided critical support to reformists elected to Parliament and serving in the of Interior, Culture and Islamic Guidance ministries, many of whom themselves had leftist affiliations in the past. For example, the Office for Fostering Unity (OFU), a major student organization active on over 50 campuses across Iran, was one of the most important civil society organizations helping elect Mohammad Khatami to the presidency in 1997. The alliance was further cemented in the July 1999 student riots when reformists in government protested against harsh measures meted out to students.
In the past two years, however, the reformists inability or unwillingness to confront the hard-liners onslaught against Iranians seeking political change has caused great frustration among many students. The decisive break occurred with the February 2003 local council elections. The OFU withdrew from the main reformist electoral coalition, the Dovom-e Khordad Front, contributing to the reformists first electoral defeat since 1997. Student disenchantment has increased with the reformists inability to prevent recurring crackdowns on students. Although recent parliamentary mediations led to the release of some student leaders arrested in the June demonstrations, many in the student movement lost confidence in the reformists will to defend their rights.
The growing separation between these two groups is having many repercussions. It has brought into sharper focus the divergent objectives of some of their members. Most reformers in Parliament and the ministries seek to reconcile the democratic and theocratic aspects of Irans constitution essentially, to reform the existing Islamic system of governance in a democratic direction. By contrast, some students question if the two are fundamentally compatible and would like to steer the Islamic Republic toward what would be a secular democracy.
An increasingly independent student movement has become vulnerable to hard-liners charges of links to foreign plots and exiled opposition groups, allegations meant to discredit the movement with the public. A more isolated student movement could become radicalized, giving hard-liners a pretext to start a massive crackdown.
The students disenchantment has also led some reformists to acknowledge the need to create a common platform to bring together committed democratic activists from all political persuasions, secular and religious, inside and outside of Iran. Such attention to coalition building is a healthy development, as neither the students nor the reformists in government can change Iran alone. Several recent open letters written by members of Parliament, cultural figures and political activists inside Iran and in exile suggest that a platform is indeed developing with a focus on popular will as the only source of legitimate political authority, equal rights for all citizens, and national reconciliation.
Some reformist politicians also feel new pressure to adopt a bolder strategy vis-a-vis the hard-liners to show the reform movement is not dead. In recent months, Parliament passed legislation to stop candidate screening by the Council of Guardians, a body appointed by the supreme leader that vets candidates for national elections and assesses the constitutionality and religious soundness of all laws, and to enhance the presidents power to enforce the constitution. The Council of Guardians has summarily rejected these bills. But Parliament continues to pass legislation, investigate misconduct on the part of nonelected institutions, and agitate for the release of arrested students, journalists, and activists.
Officials in reformist-dominated ministries have also shown renewed willingness to confront the directives of nonelected institutions. The interior minister recently ordered provincial governments not to cooperate with local committees established by the Council of Guardians to monitor the parliamentary elections.
Time favors reform-minded Iranians. Despite the hard-liners ability to obstruct reformist legislation and repress political activists, they lack the resources and popular mandate to halt the drive toward a transparent and accountable government. But establishing an effective coalition of students and reformists in government is essential to substantive change occurring sooner rather than later.
Farideh Farhi is an independent scholar and a member of the graduate faculty of political science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This article first appeared in the Arab Reform Bulletin September 2003 edition, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and is reprinted with permission
posted on 10/10/2003 10:30:15 AM PDT
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Life isn't fair. It's fairer than death, is all.")
Iranian Exiles Say Ron Arad is Jailed Near Tehran
October 10, 2003
Missing Air Force navigator Ron Arad is alive and held by the Iranian intelligence in a small, secret jail near Tehran, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Friday, quoting three Iranian exiles.
One of the sources is a diplomat and the two others former intelligence officials, all whom are currently in Europe.
Arad has been missing since his plane was downed over Lebanon in 1986.
The paper said that it could not establish or refute the testimonies of the three men in Israel, and says that the claims must be treated with caution and suspicion.
The paper said that the three have given testimonies in the west on other Iranian issues and that it is reasonable to assume that they have no reason to lie or fabricate the information on Arad.
According to the one of sources, Arad was transferred from Lebanon via Syria to Iran in mid 1994. Before the trip he underwent an operation to paralyze his legs in order to prevent him from escaping. The source said Arad had attempted to escape while he was in Lebanon, and was then shot and wounded by his guards.
The source said he worked in the prison Arad was taken to, which is near Tehran, not far from a missile factory, and that he had access to Arads files. He said that he saw Arad several times and even exchanged words with him. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=348654&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y
Ebadi Hopes Nobel Will Help Iran Democracy
October 10, 2003
Middle East Online
OSLO - Iranian human rights activist and feminist lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Friday, becoming the first Muslim woman to win the honour in the prize's 102-year history.
Ebadi, 56, was given the prize "for her efforts for democracy and human rights," particularly for women and children in her country, which has been under Islamic rule since its 1979 revolution, the Nobel Committee said.
In 1974 she became Iran's first woman judge, but lost that post in the revolution five years later when Islamic clerics took over and decreed that women could not preside over courts.
In a reaction broadcast on Norwegian radio, Ebadi said her win was "very good for me, very good for human rights and very good for democracy in Iran."
She added that she was "very glad and proud" and hoped the fame the prize brought would help her work in her country.
In 1974 Ebadi became Iran's first woman judge, but lost that post in the revolution when Islamic clerics took over and decreed that women were too emotional to preside over courts.
"My problem is not with Islam, it's with the culture of patriarchy," Ebadi told Britain's Guardian newspaper in June. "Practices such as stoning have no foundation in the Koran."
Ebadi spent time in jail for attending a 2001 conference on Iranian form in Berlin. She has maintained a high profile in her feminist struggle, also by writing many books and articles.
"Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but I have learned to overcome my fear," she told the Christian Science Monitor newspaper in 1999.
The Nobel Peace Prize, which carries a purse of 10 million Swedish kroner (1.1 million euros, 1.3 million dollars), is decided by an Oslo-based Nobel Committee which counts two men and three women.
Ebadi was selected from a field of 165 candidates for the prize, among them Pope John Paul II and former Czech president Vaclav Havel. http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=7345
Shirin Ebadi - Biography
October 10, 2003
The Norwegian Nobel Committee
The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was born in 1947.
She received a law degree from the University of Tehran. In the years 1975-79 she served as president of the city court of Tehran, one the first female judges in Iran. After the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign. She now works as a lawyer and also teaches at the University of Tehran.
Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction's attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.
Ebadi represents Reformed Islam, and argues for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. As for religious freedom, it should be noted that Ebadi also includes the rights of members of the bahai community, which has had problems in Iran ever since its foundation.
Ebadi is an activist for refugee rights, as well as those of women and children. She is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. Ebadi has written a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights. Among her books translated into English are The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (Tehran, 1994), published with support from UNICEF, and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (New York, 2000).
As a lawyer, she has been involved in a number of controversial political cases. She was the attorney of the families of the writers and intellectuals who were victims of the serial murders in 1999-2000. She has worked actively - and successfully - to reveal the principals behind the attack on the students at Tehran University in 1999 where several students died. As a consequence, Ebadi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions.
With Islam as her starting point, Ebadi campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems, and promotes new thinking on Islamic terms. She has displayed great personal courage as a lawyer defending individuals and groups who have fallen victim to a powerful political and legal system that is legitimized through an inhumane interpretation of Islam. Ebadi has shown her willingness and ability to cooperate with representatives of secular as well as religious views. http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article.jhtml?articleID=644606
The Nobel Peace Prize 2003 - Press Release
October 10, 2003
The Norwegian Nobel Committee
The official press release from The Norwegian Nobel Committee:
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2003 to Shirin Ebadi for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.
As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond its borders. She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety.
Her principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights, and no society deserves to be labelled civilized unless the rights of women and children are respected. In an era of violence, she has consistently supported non-violence. It is fundamental to her view that the supreme political power in a community must be built on democratic elections. She favours enlightenment and dialogue as the best path to changing attitudes and resolving conflict.
Ebadi is a conscious Moslem. She sees no conflict between Islam and fundamental human rights. It is important to her that the dialogue between the different cultures and religions of the world should take as its point of departure their shared values. It is a pleasure for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize to a woman who is part of the Moslem world, and of whom that world can be proud - along with all who fight for human rights wherever they live.
During recent decades, democracy and human rights have advanced in various parts of the world. By its awards of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has attempted to speed up this process.
We hope that the people of Iran will feel joyous that for the first time in history one of their citizens has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and we hope the Prize will be an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Moslem world, and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support. " http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article.jhtml?articleID=644598
Groups Hail Ebadi for Pro-Democracy Work Back
October 10, 2003
Human rights groups hailed Friday's awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to female Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi, saying the move would strengthen the fight for democracy in Iran and equal rights everywhere.
Karim Lahidji, president-in-exile of the Iranian League for Human Rights and vice president of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said the prize was a "great victory" for democrats and rights groups in Iran, which is dominated by conservative Muslim clerics.
"I'm happy that the modern world ... recognizes this struggle and gives her this recognition," said Lahidji, who has known Ebadi for 40 years.
Ebadi, 56, the first Muslim woman to win the prize, was the first female judge in Iran. She was cited by the Nobel Committee for her focus on human rights, especially the struggles for the rights of women and children.
Last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, former President Carter, said Ebadi's work was "an inspiration to people in Iran and around the world."
"She proves that one person, standing on principle, can make a positive difference in the lives of many," Carter said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who shared the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations itself, said he hopes Ebadi's award will encourage women "to speak out and insist on their rights."
Amnesty International, the London-based rights group, said the Nobel Committee recognized the critical importance of human rights and those who defend them.
"Coming at a time when human rights principles are increasingly under threat, this award will bring renewed hope to those engaged in the daily fight to uphold human rights," a group statement said.
Ebadi received Human Rights Watch's highest award in 1996, and its associate director, Carroll Bogert, called her "a brave advocate for human rights in a very hostile environment."
"We hope that the Nobel prize gives her a measure of protection as she returns to Iran," Bogert said. "We hope it sends a message to the Iranian government that the very serious human rights violations in Iran will not be tolerated by the human rights community."
Jakub Hladik, spokesman for former Czech President Vaclav Havel _ himself a Nobel hopeful, said Havel was delighted. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman, Bela Anda, called Ebadi "a courageous woman."
Friday's award had wider political implications, with some interpreting it as a show of support for democratic _ and pro-Western _ impulses in the Muslim world. Those impulses have assumed greater importance as the West confronts radical forces in Islam in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
"I profoundly admire her courage and commitment, as well as that of other Iranian human rights lawyers and activists. Miss Ebadi is an inspiration for her region more than ever and for the rest of the world," EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said.
Hisham Kassem, head of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights, said the award was overdue recognition of the work by women activists in the Middle East.
"It is obvious that the wheel is beginning to turn for the region when it comes to democratization and human rights," he said. "The world is beginning to take notice of the human rights crisis in the region."
However, the award was not welcomed by all.
Egypt's first female judge, Tahany el-Gebaly, said there were more deserving activists in the Middle East, but Ebadi was chosen because her views were acceptable to the West.
"There are many fiery Muslims whose actions and positions are a lot more outspoken, but because they are anti-West, or anti-American or Western policy in the region, they get no attention," she said.
In Poland, Solidarity founder Lech Walesa, the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize winner, expressed disappointment that Pope John Paul II did not receive the award.
"I bear nothing against this lady, but if anyone among the living deserves it, then it is the holy father," Walesa told TVN24. http://www.620ktar.com/news/article.aspx?article_id=233001&cc=012345
Nobel Winner's Plea to Iran: Free All Political Prisoners
October 10, 2003
The Iranian human rights activist who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize has called on the government in Tehran to free all political prisoners.
Shirin Ebadi told a news conference the most urgent issues for Iran to deal with were freedom of speech and the release of those imprisoned for expressing their opinions.
Ms Ebadi, 56, is a well-known lawyer noted especially for promoting the rights of women and children by seeking changes in Iran's divorce and inheritance laws.
She is the first Muslim woman to be awarded the prize, beating other nominees who included Pope John Paul II and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.
The Norwegian award committee said it chose her because of her focus on promoting human rights and democracy in her country.
In Tehran, a foreign ministry spokesman said her award was a cause for happiness and reflected the improved situation of women in Iran.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says that while Iran's reformists will be delighted, the conservative authorities see the award as a political move by Europe to increase pressure on Iran.
Tribute to courage
Ms Ebadi was the first female judge in her country, but was forced to resign following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
She said the award, which comes with prize money of $1.3m, had been a surprise but that she was "very happy and glad" about it.
"I hope it will have an effect in Iran.
"As a person who has actively been involved in human rights, I am against war and conflict, and countries and nations do not need war," she said speaking at a news conference in Paris - where she is visiting - hours after the award was announced.
The chairman of the five-member selection committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, paid tribute to Ms Ebadi's work at home and abroad, saying she understood that "No society can be seen as democratic without women being represented".
She was also praised as a "courageous person" who "has never heeded the threat to her own safety".
The Nobel committee emphasised that its choice should be seen as a statement about human rights.
"This is a message to the Iranian people, to the Muslim world, to the whole world, that human value, the fight for freedom, the fight for rights of women and children should be at the centre," Mr Mjoes said.
"I hope the award of the peace prize to Ebadi can help strengthen and lend support to the cause of human rights in Iran," he added.
Iranian state media reported the Nobel committee's decision without comment.
The BBC's correspondent in Tehran says that for the Iranian to win is an enormous boost for human rights campaigners there and a source of great delight to her supporters - but also something of an embarrassment.
"Hardliners who run the judiciary will see it as outsiders now trying to intervene in Iranian politics.
"It is an embarrassment to them to see someone they have vilified held up as a shining example," he said
The choice of Ms Ebadi - the 11th woman and third Muslim to net the prize - surprised observers worldwide. Pope John Paul II was the bookies' favourite to scoop the prestigious award this year amid speculation that he is nearing death.
Official reactions outside Iran have been overwhelmingly positive, and even the Vatican is, reportedly, sending a message of congratulations.
However fellow Pole Lech Walesa - a former president and Nobel laureate - did not seek to hide his disappointment, calling the decision a "big mistake".
"I have nothing against this woman, but if there is someone alive in the world who deserves this distinction it is certainly the Holy Father", he told Polish television. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3181428.stm
Another informative Amir Taheri article.
Conservatives React Angrily to the Nobel Committee's Decision
October 10, 2003
Parinoosh Arami and Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN -- The Iranian government Friday congratulated lawyer Shirin Ebadi, the country's first Nobel Peace Prize winner, and reformers said it was a victory for women's rights and political change in the Islamic Republic.
"In the name of the Islamic Republic of Iran's government I congratulate Dr. Ebadi and we see this (award) as the result of her qualifications," Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, spokesman for Iran's reformist government said in the first official reaction.
He said her views on human rights, especially women's rights, had been noted internationally and "this is an honor for Iranian women and shows that Iranian Muslim women have gained a positive atmosphere for their activities and we hope that her views will be noticed inside and outside of Iran."
In a show of support by the reform government of President Mohammad Khatami, Ramazanzadeh said a government representative would attend a welcoming ceremony for Ebadi at Tehran airport on her return to the country Tuesday.
Conservative-controlled state television and radio took several hours to announce Ebadi's award, then did so without comment, reflecting the struggle with reformists over Iran's political destiny.
Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a close aide to Khatami, said the announcement was "very good news for every Iranian" and a sign of the active role played by Iranian women in politics.
He stressed the comments reflected his personal view.
But individual conservatives, who have long viewed Ebadi's activities as a defender of women's rights and lawyer for political dissidents as a threat to the Islamic system, reacted angrily to the Nobel Committee's decision.
"Although we may be happy that an Iranian has won the prize we believe the Nobel Peace Prize is being used to suit political objectives," said Amir Mohebian, an editor of the hard-line conservative Resalat newspaper.
"This prize carries the message that Europe intends to put further pressure on human rights issues in Iran as a political move to achieve its particular objectives," he said.
Since coming to office in a 1997 landslide, Khatami's government has struggled to break the stranglehold on power enjoyed by unelected conservatives opposed to any watering down of what they say are Islamic principles.
Over the past four years scores of liberal newspapers have been shut down and dozens of pro-reform activists jailed by the hard-line judiciary. Ebadi herself has been briefly jailed and was banned from practicing law for five years in 2000.
International criticism of Iran's human rights record -- including the legal discrimination against women and the use of public executions and stonings -- has met with stern rebukes for other nations not to interfere in Iran's internal affairs.
Leading reformist parliamentarian Elahe Koulaei said Ebadi's award was a sign the Nobel Committee had recognized the importance of the struggle for greater democracy in Iran.
"We have to congratulate the Iranian nation, particularly women, on her success and consider it a success for all of those who are attempting to improve human rights and remove oppression throughout the world," she said. http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=3595428
U.S., U.N. Congratulate Iran's Shirin Ebadi for Nobel Peace Prize
October 10, 2003
Washington -- The U.S. government and the United Nations have welcomed the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.
"We congratulate Shirin Ebadi for the Nobel Peace Prize," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
"The prize is well-deserved recognition of a lifetime champion of the cause of human dignity and democracy. She has worked tirelessly, and suffered at the hands of the clerical regime, including imprisonment for promoting democracy and human rights in her country," he added.
"We are very pleased to see the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to this very, very dedicated and committed woman who has spent so much of her life in the cause of justice and freedom," said Secretary of State Colin Powell.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher issued a statement noting that Ebadi "has tirelessly worked on behalf of all Iranians, with a focus on the rights of women and children."
"We fully support the aspirations of the Iranian people to live in freedom, and hope their call for democracy will be heard and transform Iran into a force for stability in the region," Boucher's statement said.
When informed that she had been awarded the prize, the 56-year-old lawyer and human rights activist, who was in Paris, said, "this prize doesn't belong to me only. It belongs to all people who work for human rights and democracy in Iran."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan added his voice to the chorus of praise. In a statement issued through his spokesman, Annan noted that Ebadi served as Iran's first woman judge and is noted for her work on behalf of women, children and refugees.
Ebadi is known for her conviction that human rights are fully compatible with Islam, and her interpretation of Islamic law in a way that recognizes the harmony between human rights, democracy and equality before the law, Annan's statement said.
Her work is a fine example of the very principles the United Nations stands for, and this award should serve as an inspiration to women and men, Annan's statement added.
In a statement issued in Geneva, acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan congratulated Ebadi and commented that peace and development depend on the faithful observance of international human rights norms globally.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov) http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2003&m=October&x=20031010172344atarukp0.2574427&t=usinfo/wf-latest.html
A Nobel Prize for A Noble Cause
October 10, 2003
Iran va Jahan
Last week, we endorsed the Iranian dissident Hachem Aghajari, for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. At that time no one (including Shirin Ebadi herself!) knew that she also had been nominated. After hearing the good news this morning and listening to parts of her news conference, we feel proud, exhilarated, and hopeful for the future of human rights in Iran. Had we known, our endorsement would have been different. What was most essential for us was focusing world attention on the situation of human rights in Iran. Because we believe the issue of human rights is not an internal issue. Today violation of human rights anywhere is an international issue. On this point we may have a disagreement with the latest Nobel laureate's position at her news conference today but we can leave that for later.
No single event, short of Iran's total liberation from the bloody tentacles of the Mullahs, could have brought so much joy and happiness to the Iranian people. This joy is not limited just to the Iranians; decent and humane people everywhere should feel vindicated and proud today. Pope John Paul and former Czech President Vaclav Havel who themselves were among those named as possible recipients of this year's Nobel Peace Prize have enthusiastically welcomed the selection of Shirin Ebadi. It is indeed significant that the very first Nobel Prize ever given to any Iranian is a Peace Prize awarded to an Iranian lawyer for her courageous defense of human rights victims of the Islamic Republic.
Shirin Ebadi has long record of engagement with the police state in Iran. According to just one of the files of the Amnesty International, Shirin Ebadi and Mohsen Rahami - along with several other lawyers - were tried on 15 July 2000 in a closed hearing by Branch 16 of the General Court in Teheran. On 28 September 2000 they were sentenced to 18 month suspended prison sentences and both were banned from practising law for five years; others received prison sentences for their involvement in the alleged offence. Both were tried by a General Court in connection with their activities as lawyers. The two had met at Shirin Ebadi's office to conduct an interview with a witness who appeared to have relevant testimony for cases on which the two lawyers were working. Shirin Ebadi was one of a team of lawyers whose clients were family members of four individuals murdered in 1998 and 1999. The alleged murderers were then on trial and Shirin Ebadi was representing them. Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Rahami was the defense lawyer of students pursuing damages in connection with injuries they sustained during a security forces' raid on student dormitories in July 1999.
Videotape was made of the witness' testimony, in which he reportedly discussed his activities as a member of a militant group, Ansar-e Hezbollah, or Partisans of the Party of God. He allegedly implicated senior establishment figures in allegations about the activities of the group, which include a failed attempt to murder Hojjatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, former Vice President and Interior Minister.
The tape was later found to be in circulation in public and the two lawyers were arrested, along with several others. They were charged with "disturbing public opinion", "disseminating false information" and other offences.
On 27 June 2000, the two were arrested, separately. Shirin Ebadi has reportedly stated that at one o'clock in the afternoon on the day she was arrested, she heard in a news broadcast that one woman and one cleric had been arrested in connection with the tape. She then received a telephone call from a friend, but she reassured her friend that she had not been arrested. Six hours later two plain-clothes officers appeared at her office and she went to court for initial interrogations. She spent 25 days in temporary custody prior to being released on bail.
The trial took place in camera but the judiciary permitted two observers from the Tehran Bar Association to attend the trial; a similar request from parliament was denied. Both lawyers have appealed the verdict, against which the Tehran Bar Association publicly protested, and continue to practice law.
As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer, activist and professor, Shirin Ebadi has spoken out clearly and strongly during the past difficult 25 years. Prior to the revolution, she was of the first female judges in Iran.
The victory and recognition of Shirin Ebadi is indeed the vindication of the heroic struggle of all Iranian women and men struggling for their rights and dignity. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=10&d=10&a=12
Iran and North Korea: the next targets?
9 - 10 - 2003
Despite its problems in Iraq, the United States continues to focus on the nuclear ambitions of the other two axis of evil states, North Korea and Iran. In the context of its doctrine of pre-emption, and the reluctance of the eight existing nuclear weapons states to disarm, can another dangerous conflict be averted?
Although the United States continues to face major difficulties in Iraq, the Bush administrations attitude to the proliferation of nuclear weapons remains firm: if it considers a country to be a threat to the US or its interests, and if that country is developing nuclear weapons, then pre-emptive military action is one option that will be actively considered and even implemented.
Last week, the North Korean authorities announced that they had completed reprocessing 6,000 spent reactor fuel rods, a process that could provide them with enough plutonium to produce perhaps six nuclear bombs. There is no confirmation of this; indeed, it contrasts with the view of independent analysts that North Korea may possibly have produced just one or two nuclear weapons.
It may well be that North Korea is exaggerating its capabilities to provide some kind of deterrent against US action, just as the Saddam Hussein regime may have done to an even greater extent, but it is certainly the case that the North Korean government will use such a statement as a diplomatic bargaining chip.
Its move comes at a time of claims in Washington that the third part of the axis of evil, Iran, is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. Whatever their truth, it is necessary to put the possible nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran in a wider context, especially as these developments come at a time when the United States has all but given up on most forms of traditional nuclear arms control.
The worlds nuclear inventory
During the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union developed extraordinarily large nuclear arsenals. The collective total of bombs and warheads - ranging from mines, torpedoes, artillery shells and anti-aircraft missiles through to massive multi-megaton warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles was as high as 70,000.
Many of the long-range missiles built in the latter stages of the cold war were astonishingly accurate and gave rise to fears of disarming first strike policies that could make crises extremely dangerous; it is now clear that there were several occasions when the superpowers came close to using nuclear weapons.
At the same time, there were some progressive developments. A nuclear arms race between Argentina and Brazil was averted in the mid-1980s; Taiwan and South Korea were persuaded to limit their nuclear ambitions; and in the immediate aftermath of the cold war nuclear weapons were withdrawn by Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, while South Africa dismantled its small nuclear arsenal.
Even so, the worlds nuclear arsenals remain large, and none of the eight nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, Israel, India and Pakistan) show any sign whatsoever of renouncing their nuclear arsenals. Moreover, they are all engaged in modernising them, not least in ways that may make some of them more useable in crises that fall far short of worldwide nuclear war.
The United States, for example, currently has some 7,650 nuclear warheads actively deployed, with a further 3,000 in reserve or awaiting dismantling. Most of these weapons are strategic - and far more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb - but there are substantial numbers of tactical bombs of the B-61 group, including the B61-11 earth-penetrating bomb developed in the 1990s. The US retains a facility at Los Alamos for producing new nuclear weapons although no new designs are currently in production.
There have, however, recently been clear moves towards the development of new designs, especially of small nuclear weapons for specific uses in counter-proliferation activities such as destruction of deeply-buried targets. There are also proposals for investing in the refurbishment of the Nevada nuclear test site to make it easier to resume nuclear testing should that be considered necessary.
Such planning takes place in the context of an acknowledged commitment to pre-emptive action against potential nuclear weapons states, and also comes at a time when the United States is developing missile defences. If these could be made to work, then the United States would be the only country in the world that could offer some kind of defence against nuclear attack while retaining very powerful offensive nuclear forces. This possibility is of real concern to Russia and China in particular.
Meanwhile, much of Russias nuclear infrastructure including its submarine fleet - is in a severely decayed condition. There are reported to be over 8,000 warheads in active deployment and 10,000 in reserve or more awaiting disassembly, but the actual number of active warheads may be very much lower.
Russian nuclear policy appears now to concentrate on retaining a relatively small core of nuclear forces, including a process of progressive modernisation such as the enhancement of the Tu-160 strategic bomber. While the United States and Russia have agreed to cut their nuclear forces to around 2,000 active strategic warheads by 2012, the agreement does not include tactical systems, nor does it involve dismantling existing warheads which can therefore be maintained in reserve.
Meanwhile, the British, French and Chinese nuclear forces have all undergone a transition since the end of the cold war but, in all cases, withdrawal of obsolete weapons has been accompanied by a modernisation of key systems. Furthermore, all three states aim to sustain their nuclear status for the foreseeable future, with an emphasis on versatile forces appropriate for tactical and strategic uses.
Britain has withdrawn its tactical nuclear bombs but now fields the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in both strategic and sub-strategic (that is, tactical) modes, with the latter involving a much smaller warhead yield while retaining full-range capabilities. Total warhead numbers are under 200.
France has withdrawn land-based tactical and theatre missiles but maintains aircraft-delivered nuclear weapons and is modernising its SLBM fleet with the deployment of the Triomphant-class boats, two of which are in service with two more under construction. It maintains a warhead total of about 350.
China has diverse nuclear forces totalling about 400 warheads, primarily configured for regional purposes but with a small intercontinental capability. This last component would be capable of rapid enlargement and enhancement should the United States develop a comprehensive national missile defence system, and there are indications that the future Chinese nuclear posture may move in this direction, although with some reluctance on grounds of cost.
Israel is a country that is often quietly forgotten when nuclear weapons are discussed. It first developed these in the 1960s with French help, and had a limited capability by the time of the Yom Kippur/Ramadan war of October 1973. It has since built up substantial nuclear forces including aircraft-delivered free-fall bombs and up to 100 warheads carried by variants of the Jericho land-based ballistic missile with a range of up to 1,800 kilometres. The total arsenal is likely to by around 200 warheads, including fusion (H-bomb) weapons. Israel may also have tactical artillery shells and may be developing a warhead for use on a submarine-launched cruise missile.
India first tested a nuclear device in 1974 but developed a nuclear arsenal more recently and may have tested fusion as well as fission devices. Its warhead inventory may be slightly smaller than that of Pakistan but is currently being expanded. India has a mix of aircraft and missile delivery systems, including the 2,000-km range Agni II missile, first tested in January 2001.
Pakistan has short- and medium-range aircraft and missile delivery systems for a small but developing nuclear arsenal based on enriched uranium implosion devices. The number of its warheads is difficult to estimate but is likely to be less then fifty.
From Tehran, the world looks different
Beyond these eight established nuclear powers, the capabilities and intentions of two of the three states characterised as part of an axis of evil by President Bush present a complex picture.
North Korea is believed to have produced a very limited number of nuclear warheads - perhaps only two and of low yield - from supplies of reprocessed plutonium; it may also have a limited capability for uranium enrichment to weapons-grade levels. Its leadership is intensely secretive and has something of a fortress mentality, but it is certainly reasonable now to conclude that North Korea has become the worlds ninth nuclear weapons state.
In Iran, there is certainly the potential to develop nuclear weapons, though their production and deployment may still be several years away.
The aggressive assessments of US intelligence sources tend to make sound judgments about Iran difficult, and the Iranian political and power system is hugely more complex than that of North Korea.
But one key aspect is a perception from Tehran that the attitude of the US and other western nuclear states is frankly hypocritical. Iran sees itself as a major and historic state of the region facing a heavily-armed United States which now has forces to its east (Afghanistan), west (Iraq) and south (the Gulf). Its leaderships sense of vulnerability is increased by the fact that Israel shares the USs hardline sentiments towards it. Indeed, Israel has made veiled threats of action against Iran if the United States itself refrains from military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, whether or not the latters purpose is energy supply alone.
Iran also sees Britain and France content to pursue their own nuclear ambitions while ignoring the powerful Israeli nuclear forces, and having little to say about those of India and Pakistan. The end result of this is a degree of cynicism even among the more moderate opinion-formers in Iran; and a reinforced determination among conservative elements that Iranians must unite in the face of a stated threat from the United States and Israel.
Any room for countries like Britain and France to ameliorate the excesses of Washingtons war on the axis of evil is limited by their own nuclear status and what is widely seen across the Middle East as a two-faced attitude. The tensions inherent in this situation would be eased substantially if these countries were more clearly willing to embrace multilateral progress towards nuclear disarmament as covered by the non-proliferation treaty.
In the absence of such a move, there is a persistent perception in the Middle East that these two countries also operate according to a principle of do as I say, not as I do. This perception really does limit the ability of Britain, for example, to have much impact on Iranian policy. For the moment, there is not much prospect of change, but it is worth noting that one effect of the US tendency towards pre-emption may have been to propel North Korea down the very nuclear weapons path that it sought to avoid.
Even though Iranian society and power politics are more complex than North Korean, a similar effect is possible there. This would make some form of military action by the United States or Israel against Iran an increasingly likely prospect. The dangerous consequences of such an outcome could greatly exceed even those now being experienced in Iraq. http://www.opendemocracy.net/themes/article-2-1531.jsp
To: Pan_Yans Wife
"We hope that we could use her expert views more in Iran,"
He means when they're not arresting her and putting her in prison.!
SHIRIN EBADI WINS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
"No single event, short of Iran's total liberation from the bloody tentacles of the Mullahs, could have brought so much joy and happiness to the Iranian people. This joy is not limited just to the Iranians; decent and humane people everywhere should feel vindicated and proud today."
To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; nuconvert; onyx; Pro-Bush; Valin; ...
(( Another story about another Iranian woman who is a Film Director and a political Activist ))----- Pilot
'Under the Skin of the City' explores life in Iran
By James Ward
Friday, October 10, 2003
Tulare Advance Register
The most striking thing about the Iranian film "Under the Skin of the City," the latest installment in Signature Theatres' Independent Film Series, is what you won't see.
There are no shots of mosques, religious rallies or mobs burning American presidents in effigy. In fact, there's almost no hint of religion -- unless you count the ever-present burqa and veils worn by women -- in the brisk drama.
What you will see in "Under the Skin of the City" is a bleak depiction of urban life in Tehran, the country's biggest city. The family at the center of the film doesn't have much time to worry about America, terrorism or any other geopolitical concerns. They're too busy scratching out a living and keeping a roof over their heads.
"Skin" concentrates on a hard-nosed matriarch named Tuba (Golab Adineh), a mother of four children who struggles to keep her family together in the face of mounting problems. Chief among her concerns: Her youngest son is a political activist and university student who keeps on getting arrested at pro-Democracy rallies and her oldest daughter -- pregnant with her second child -- is married to an abusive husband.
It doesn't help that Tuba doesn't get much support from her disabled husband, Mahmoud (Mohsen Ghazi Moradi).
The only person she can turn to is Abbas (Mohammad Reza Forutan), who works as a delivery man for a shady businessman. His plan is to earn enough to pay for a visa that would allow him to work in Japan, where a good construction job would earn enough money to let his sister move back into the family home.
Things don't go as planned, of course, as the movie marches to its inevitable, tragic conclusion. Director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Iran's leading feminist filmmaker and advocate of democratic reform, gives the movie a one-note feel, making it more of a political polemic than a movie.
Aside from one charming moment when the entire family goes out for a "fancy" meal -- pizza at what looks like a fast-food eatery -- the movie is a cold, humorless affair.
Still, there's a lot to admire about "Skin," especially the central performance by Adineh as the matriarch of the family. She may be forced to take a subservient role in public, but as soon as she enters the family home, you have no doubt who runs things.
But what really makes "Under the Skin of the City" worthwhile is its frank depiction of Iran, a country that most Americans know only as one part of President Bush's "Axis of Evil." If this movie is any evidence, Iran has much more important things -- economic survival, the struggle for political reform and the basic human rights of women -- on its mind than threatening the United States. http://www.tulareadvanceregister.com/news/stories/20031010/localnews/429328.html
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