Friday, September 30, 2005

Iran's referral to UNSC unlikely: Boroujerdi


Qom, Sept 29

Head of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said here Wednesday that referral of Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council is unlikely.

Speaking in a meeting with theological students and instructors at Qom seminary, Boroujerdi added the possibility of reporting Iran's nuclear case to the UNSC is too weak given opposition of 13 states including China and Russia to the US and Europe votes.

"The recent resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and stance adopted by the European states particularly Britain, brought the Islamic Republic government closer to red lines.

"The recent IAEA resolution faced Iran with two options. The first option is presenting a report to the governing board as a prelude to send the case to the UNSC and the other one is referral of the case without any report," he said.

The stances taken by the Iranian government and nation in defiance of the European states and the United States are based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said.

"If the Europeans and the US request us to ignore serious need of the future generation, we will never do that," he said.

Iran’s top Islamic judge calls for harsher crackdown

Iran Focus:

Tehran, Iran, Sep. 29 – Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi called for a “decisive” crackdown on “trouble-makers”, state media reported on Thursday.

Speaking at the first joint conference of Iran’s judiciary and State Security Forces, Shahroudi said, “We must act decisively against trouble-makers”, a term commonly used by authorities to refer to dissidents or ordinary Iranians deemed to act un-Islamic ways.

In an allusion to a spate of anti-government protests in the impoverished suburbs of Tehran and provincial capitals in recent months, Shahroudi said police presence in these areas must be strengthened.

“The insecurity that exists in the suburbs of major cities is not befitting the Islamic Republic”, the judiciary chief said. “We need more powerful police stations and more police and security agents in these areas”.

Referring to a recently-extended crackdown on dissenters in Tehran by police and Iran’s judiciary, the senior cleric added, “We are carrying out the punishments as part of the national security scheme”.

On Monday, Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, announced that a 20-day plan to fight trouble-makers in the Iranian capital was to be extended by one month.

Speaking to reporters, Mortazavi said that the plan had been “very successful” and State Security Forces had been able to make many arrests.

I-A-E-A Warns Iran

Voice Of America:

30 September 2005

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or I-A-E-A, has adopted a resolution accusing Iran of breaching the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and threatening to refer Iran's case to the United Nations Security Council. The resolution said that in order to avoid referral to the U.N. Security Council, Iran must give I-A-E-A experts access to nuclear-related documents and sites, suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, and ratify an inspection agreement with the I-A-E-A.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the I-A-E-A resolution put Iran on notice that "it is time to come clean":

"Iran for two decades has hid their nuclear activities from the international community and failed to comply with their international obligations. They need to abide by their international obligations, and they need to abide by their agreements with the Europeans. We continue to support the diplomatic efforts of the Europeans to resolve this matter. But you saw at the International Atomic Energy Agency that there is a growing majority of nations that recognize Iran's noncompliance must be addressed. And if they continue to fail to comply with their international obligations, then the matter is going to the United Nations Security Council."

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the I-A-E-A resolution warning Iran was only a first step:

"Nobody wants to see Iran obtain nuclear weapons, especially not under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. Nobody wants... Iran to have access to sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technology as well as know-how. That is the goal...we're trying to achieve here. The process is not an end to itself; the process is merely a way to get to that goal."

Mr. McCormack said it is time for the Iranian government to understand that it is increasingly isolated on the issue of its nuclear ambitions.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

Are Arabs Anti-American?

New York Post:

September 30, 2005 -- PRESIDENT Bush's "image queen," Karen Hughes, is on a tour of Arab countries, where conventional wisdom claims that anti-Americanism is second nature. Hughes, now in charge of public diplomacy at the State Department, plainly she shares that analysis — why else choose the Arab region for her maiden voyage?

But how true is that claim? Are Arabs the most anti-American people on earth? Start with the tangibles. America is by far the largest pole of attraction for Arab foreign investment at all levels, from public-sector funds to small private savings accounts. The most conservative estimates put the value of Arab assets in the United States at over $4.5 trillion, which puts the Arab countries just behind Britain, Japan and Holland as the biggest investors in the U.S. economy.

The United States is also one of the top three trading partners of virtually all Arab states. In fact, many U.S.-made goods (cars, for example) that don't sell anywhere else still enjoy robust markets in Arab countries.

Then, too, America has been the No. 1 foreign tourist destination for Arabs since the 1980s, and has remained so despite restrictions imposed on Arab visitors after 9/11.

Arabs from all walks of life and of all political sensibilities also love to send their children to study in America. And when it comes to seeking medical treatment, no country competes with the United States in attracting well-heeled Arabs.

If she takes time to stroll in Arab capitals, Hughes would be struck by the ubiquitous presence of things American. It is possible to spend a holiday in most Arab capitals without moving out of the orbit of American-franchised hotels, restaurants, tourist services and banks. A stroll in modern shopping malls would reveal a population wearing American-style clothing, including baseball caps, with Motorola mobile phones pressed to ears, as New Orleans jazz plays in the background. She could sip one of those coffees the choice of which requires a PhD at a Starbucks, or indulge herself in a Hagen-Dazs of her choice.

More than 70 percent of what's broadcast on Arab TV stations (including those regarded as "obsessively anti-American") is U.S.-made; 80 percent of the films shown in Arab cinemas are made in Hollywood. There are more than two dozen English dailies, all using the American version of the language. Go through them, and you see that much of the content comes from U.S. agencies and syndication services. Even Arabic-language newspapers serve as outlets for American journalism. More than half of all major articles in the two main pan-Arab daily newspapers come from The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time magazines and other U.S. publications. Some American columnists have become household names in most Arab countries.

Hughes is also bound to be struck by the number of Arab decision-makers with American educational or business backgrounds and/or connections.

Only God and the U.S. immigration service would know how many Arabs hold green cards or even dual Arab-U.S. citizenship. With the possible exception of Libya, which has a weird regime, and Syria, whose leaders fear they may be targeted for "regime change," almost all Arab regimes are well-disposed toward the United States.

Sixteen of the 21 member states of the Arab League host some U.S. military presence. The FBI maintains offices in at least 12 Arab capitals.

So, where did the impression that the Arabs are seething with anti-Americanism come from? Isn't it possible that the Arabs may be sharing the anti-American craze produced in the West, including the United States? Aren't the Arabs, as with so many other products, importing anti-Americanism?

In Arab newspapers, the bulk of the material that could be classified as anti-Bush and/or anti-American is translated from U.S. sources. Stroll in the streets where books and video and audio tapes are on sale at the curbsides and you will see that 90 percent of the items vilifying America come from American, French and British authors.

No Arab anti-American has produced anything like the conspiracy theories that American intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Scott Ritter, Seymour Hersh and Edward Said, to name a few, have put on the markets everywhere, including the Arab world.

At any given time, one can find a horde of American activists visiting the region to urge the natives to hate America:

* Two years ago, a group of Americans appeared in Arab capitals to stop people in the bazaars to "apologize for the Crusades," although the United States didn't even exist when those wars were fought between Europe and the Middle East.

* Before the liberation of Iraq, scores of Americans came to Baghdad to offer themselves as "human shields" for Saddam Hussein. No Arab was so foolish.

* This month, a group of 30 American professors turned up in Tehran and Damascus to describe the United States as "a rogue state on the rampage".

* Bianca Jagger, presented as ambassador for UNICEF and "a leading thinker," has been in the region telling astonished audiences that the United States is the source of all evil in the world. (By the way, isn't UNICEF supposed to be apolitical?)

* One American professor recently published an op-ed in The New York Times relating his trip to Iran, where he was "disappointed" to see that students not only did not hate George W. Bush but, horror of horrors, also craved for an American-style democracy instead of an Islamist utopia.

* The anti-Bush demonstrations that Arabs watch on TV take place in Washington, San Francisco and Seattle, not in any Arab city.

* A friend, who happens to be a minister in an Arab state, was saddened this summer when, spending holidays with his family in the United States as he had always done since student days, he had to quarrel with an old American schoolmate. The point of the dispute was that the American insisted that the United States was an "evil empire," while the Arab believed that it could be a force for reform in the Middle East.

* Last month, an Iraqi journalist gave up his American scholarship and returned home because faculty members in the U.S. university he attended made him feel "guilty for having been liberated from Saddam Hussein."

* A Kuwaiti friend withdrew his son from an American university to "protect him from [being] brainwashed into hating the United States."

Many polls have been conducted to show that the Arabs are anti-American. A more interesting poll would aim at finding out how many Americans are so afflicted by self-loathing as to devote their energies to a systematic vilification of their nation.

The best that Karen Hughes could do is to help make available to the Arabs the other side of the American debate; to show that not all Americans share Chomsky's belief that the United States planned to kill 6 million Afghans solely to build a pipeline from Central Asia. Her aim should be to help Arabs understand America in all its contradictions, not necessarily to adore it.

There are many issues on which the Arabs disagree with the United States. But most Arabs don't see that as a sign of anti-Arabism on the part of America. Hughes should not regard it as a sign of anti-Americanism on the part of Arabs.

Iranian author Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Iranians take pride as tensions mount


September 24, 2005

By Frances Harrison BBC, Iran

Many Iranians resent outside interference in their affairs, and, as our correspondent reports, tension with the West has only made the country further cherish its independence.

Iranians claim to have invented the first postal system, polo, human rights, calendars, wine, sewing thread, ships and perfume.

They claim to produce the best carpets, caviar, pistachios, pomegranates, miniature paintings and so on.

In fact it is not a claim - it is expressed as an indisputable fact and there is genuine surprise if it is challenged.

When a giant outdoor TV screen was recently installed in a square in Tehran and various officials went to inaugurate it, there were complaints.

People asked why there was so much fuss about a mere Japanese TV when Iran had given the world so many more valuable things.

Ancient civilisation

So, when someone asked one of Iran's nuclear negotiators whether they would consider a Libyan style solution to the nuclear issue - giving up the nuclear programme in return for plaudits and favours from the West - he responded angrily saying Iran is not Libya.

Iran, he said, was a country with a 2,500 year history, an ancient civilization. The Israelis are the latest to denounce Iran as an evil regime.

The outside world may say it is part of the axis of evil or, more lately, a mere outpost of tyranny but, ironically, they are just aping the moralistic rhetoric of the Islamic Republic.

A recent late night show on Iranian TV examining the concept of the devil intercut footage from horror films such as the Exorcist with pictures of George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair.

There was no doubt they were being portrayed as manifestations of Satan plunging the world into evil.

But as Iran increasingly finds itself in confrontation with the West over its nuclear programme, it is the nationalist card that its leaders play - not the religious one. Support for the country's nuclear ambitions cuts across the ideological divide - secular and Islamic Iranians say almost identical things.

They talk of how Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons - and then mention Israel - and ask why Iran should be deprived of its rights and be discriminated against.

Hurt pride

So, in the context of the nuclear dispute, what comes across strongly is the sense of hurt national pride.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator this week complained bitterly that the rest of the world wanted to treat the people of Iran like second-class citizens and insult them. The president has been talking about a system of nuclear apartheid and a class system in the pecking order of nations allowed access to sensitive nuclear technology.

And, when asked about international opposition to Iran, he told reporters Iranians were very bright and clever and could set an example to the rest of the world. Many nations may think this about themselves but most do not say it.

Young scientists

For months Iranian television has been airing programmes extolling the achievements of the nation's young scientists.

It shows them pottering about in white coats in laboratories and explains how they have gone to extraordinary lengths to mine raw uranium.

A rousing voice-over talks about their efforts. My only problem is that it seems to be the same person who advertises washing powder and other more mundane national achievements.

But I have now discovered there are three men in the advertising business with identical voices and styles of delivery. Obviously, the first one could not cope with the work load and had to clone himself.


Amid this climate of nationalism, there is little space for genuine debate on the nuclear issue. You do not hear voices from the anti-nuclear or environmental movements, no opposition with a different diplomatic approach.

Nobody here asks why Iran needs nuclear power when it still has vast untapped gas reserves or could use hydro power, not to mention its oil.

In fact, many ordinary Iranians blur the distinction between nuclear power and nuclear weapons - interchanging the two ideas indiscriminately.

Referral to the United Nations Security Council is something people are worried about because it smacks of the Iraqi experience, when years of UN sanctions were followed by a coalition invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

They assume referral means sanctions, but in reality sanctions are probably a very long way down the road.

Dark days

Having been through the hardship and economic isolation of an eight-year war with Iraq, nobody here wants to go back to those dark days.

Life is already hard enough. For most Iranians it is a struggle to survive on local salaries when so many goods are imported at Western prices.

If nuclear technology means intense economic suffering it might lose its appeal. But there is also the spirit of self-reliance and independence.

Their war with Iraq saw Iranians pitted against the superpowers who backed Saddam Hussein.

That has left some with the feeling that if they have to face the world alone again they can do it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Why Iran isn't a global threat

The Christian Science Monitor:

September 29, 2005

By Ray Takeyh

WASHINGTON - Last week's vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency branding Iran in breach of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitments has given impetus to the United States to call for the deferral of Iran to the UN Security Council. Tehran is adamant that it wants nuclear power for generating electricity. Yet, Washington policymakers and their European counterparts subtly argue that Iran's previous treaty violations indicate a more sinister motive to subvert its neighbors and export its Islamic revolution.

Such alarmism overlooks Iran's realities. In the past decade, a fundamental shift in Iran's international orientation has enshrined national interest calculations as the defining factor in its approach to the world. Irrespective of the balance of power between conservatives and reformers, Iran's foreign policy is driven by fixed principles that are shared by all of its political elites.

The intense factional struggles that have plagued the clerical state during the past decade obscure the emergence of a consensus foreign policy. Under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a loose coalition emerged around the notion that Iran cannot remain isolated in the global order.

By cultivating favorable relations with key international actors such as China, Russia, and the European Union, Tehran has sought to craft its own "coalition of willing" and prevent the US from multilateralizing its coercive approach to Iran. Although the Islamic Republic continues its inflammatory support for terrorist organizations battling Israel and is pressing ahead with its nuclear program, its foreign policy is no longer that of a revolutionary state.

This perspective will survive Iran's latest leadership transition. The demographic complexion of the regime's rulers is changing. As Iran's revolution matures and those politicians who were present at the creation of the Islamic Republic gradually recede from the scene, a more austere and dogmatic generation is beginning to take over the reins of power. In response to Iran's manifold problems, newly elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet frequently criticize their elders' passivity in imposing Islamic strictures and for the rampant corruption that has engulfed the state. They are determined to reverse the social and cultural freedoms of the reformist period and to institute egalitarian economic policies.

On foreign policy issues, however, the new president has stayed well within the parameters of Iran's prevailing international policy. In his August address to the parliament, Mr. Ahmadinejad echoed the existing consensus, noting the importance of constructive relations with "the Islamic world, the Persian Gulf region, the Caspian Sea region, Central Asia, the Pacific area, and Europe." Moreover, the most important voice on foreign policy matters, recently appointed head of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, has reiterated these same themes.

Although the assertive nationalists who have taken command of Iran's executive branch have dispensed with their predecessor's "dialogue of civilizations" rhetoric, and display a marked indifference to reestablishment of relations with America, they are loath to jeopardize the successful multilateral détente that was the singular achievement of the reformist era.

All this is not to suggest that the current negotiations between Iran and the EU-3 (France, Britain, and Germany) designed to resolve the nuclear stalemate will resume. More than two years of talks have failed to bridge the essential differences. Iran continues to assert its right under the NPT to enrich uranium and has accepted an intrusive inspection regime, while the Europeans insist that Iran must atone for its previous treaty violations by permanently suspending such activities. Ultimately, it appears impossible to reconcile these positions.

It is important to note, however, that the divergence between the European and Iranian perspective predated the rise of Ahmadinejad. This highlights a worrisome convergence in Iranian political thought over the past two years: Somehow - as a result of misguided nationalism or a genuine sense of necessity - mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle has become a sine qua non of modern Iranian politics.

Its nuclear ambitions will continue to irritate the international community, but the days when Iran wantonly sought to undermine established authority in the name of Islamic salvation are over. Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's disciples have long abandoned the mission of exporting the revolution, supplanting it with conventional measures of the national interest.

Despite the chorus of concern, Iran's new president has demonstrated no interest in substantially altering the contours of Iran's international policy - nor has the country's ultimate authority, the Supreme Leader. To be sure, the new president's well-honed reactionary instincts will be felt by his hapless constituents as he proceeds to restrict their political and social prerogatives.

But the notion that Iran's foreign policy is entering a new radical state is yet another misreading of the Islamic Republic and its many paradoxes.

Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and is currently completing a book on Iran's foreign policy.

Mullahs unleash "regime's chomaaqdaaraan" at UK embassy in Iran

Sep 28, 2005

Hundreds of Iranian Islamists known as "chomaaqdaaraan" on Wednesday pelted the British embassy in Tehran with tomatoes, stones and firecrackers in response to mounting pressure on Tehran's nuclear programme.

"Death to America, Death to Britain, Death to Israel," the chomaaqdaaraan ranted, also calling for the expulsion of Britain's ambassador to Iran, Richard Dalton.

Watched by scores of police, they held aloft banners reading "Britain, France and Germany: Axis of Evil", and "NPT, we will leave you soon", referring to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Another placard read: "Down with union of Hitlerism, Europe, US and 'Zionism".

Several windows were shattered by chomaaqdaaraan stone-throwers, and tyres were set alight before anti-riot police moved in to put an end to the state-approved protest.

The British embassy in Tehran has in recent years been regularly targetted by regime's chomaaqdaaraan angered by Britain's participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq, and broken windows have become a regular annoyance for embassy staff.

West warns of action on Iran; Teheran threatens reprisals

Monday Morning:

Iran issued its toughest warning yet in response to Western pressure over its nuclear program, threatening to limit UN inspections, resume ultra-sensitive fuel work and even quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, also said Teheran would base its business dealings with individual countries on whose side they took in the dispute.

A Western diplomat in Vienna said: “It’s unfortunate that while we’re committed to pursuing this issue on a peaceful diplomatic track, Iran’s response is to resort to threats and provocations.”

Britain, France and Germany last week distributed a draft resolution titled “Iran: Elements for an IAEA Board Resolution” to members of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors, which was meeting in Vienna last week.

The European trio and the United States are calling for Iran to be reported to the Security Council over potentially weapons-related nuclear fuel work and threaten to push for a vote if consensus at the 35-nation board can not be achieved, diplomats said.

But a senior European diplomat said that while the Europeans were presenting a strong front, compromise was not “excluded”, especially if time were needed to get Russia, which has veto power on the council, on board.

Russia is building Iran’s first nuclear power reactor in a one-billion-dollar business deal but it also has said it is against Iran getting nuclear weapons.Iran has warned of a “radicalization” of its position if the UN’s nuclear monitoring group refers the issue to the Security Council.

Diplomats said the draft resolution could be put off for consideration until a special meeting to be called in a few weeks, thus setting a deadline for Iran to halt the nuclear fuel work.

In any case, the resolution contains some of the toughest language against Iran in the two-and-a-half years that the IAEA has been investigating the country on American charges that it is using an allegedly peaceful nuclear program to hide covert weapons work.

Iran’s co-operation with the IAEA investigation has been “marked by extensive concealment, misleading information and delays in access to nuclear material and facilities,” the draft said.

That behavior “has resulted in many breaches of its obligations to comply with its safeguards agreement.”

The draft asks the Security Council “as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” to call on Iran to “re-establish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related... and reprocessing activity.”

Enriched uranium can be fuel for nuclear power reactors but also the raw material for atom bombs.

The Security Council could use measures far short of sanctions, such as a statement urging Iranian compliance, to try to get Iran to stop nuclear fuel activities and to answer IAEA questions.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted in a speech to the UN General Assembly that Iran would not cease uranium conversion it had resumed in August.

The IAEA had in August called on Iran to cease the fuel work.

Conversion is the first step in making enriched uranium.In London, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stressed that the international community would not go down a military path to solve the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, In interviews with the BBC, Straw described as “disappointing and unhelpful” Ahmadinejad’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.

“This [stand-off] will not be resolved by military means, let’s be clear about that,” Straw told BBC radio.

“It needs to be resolved by all facilities available to the international community, that is what we have been working on and continue to work on.”

The foreign secretary was reacting to Iran’s latest proposals to end an impasse over its nuclear program, which the United States suspects is a cover for weapons development, and thwart a move toward possible UN sanctions.

Ahmadinejad outlined four proposals to the UN, including an offer to “engage in serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of the uranium-enrichment program in Iran”.

But Straw said Teheran’s offer “fails properly to add up”.Straw told BBC television there had yet to be a “satisfactory answer” explaining wh

y Iran needed to develop nuclear fuel technology when there was no power station for its civilian use.

Iran says its nuclear program is legal and restricted to civilian energy aims, a position backed by Russia, China and other countries.

Militia threaten attacks in US, UK if Iran sent to Security Council

Iran Focus:

Tehran, Iran, Sep. 28 – In a protest on Wednesday outside the British embassy in Tehran, Iran’s Islamist Bassij force threatened that no corner of the United States or the United Kingdom would be spared from attacks by the organisation if the Islamic Republic’s nuclear file were sent to the Security Council.

“America and Britain should know that if Iran’s dossier is referred to the Security Council, not only will their interest in the Middle East come under threat, but also these two countries’ soil will not be protected from attacks by our Bassijis”, warned Mohammad Mahmoud Heydari, the Bassij representative during the violent demonstration where several embassy windows were shattered and petrol bombs hurled into the compound.

“Our presence in this is unholy place - the evil British embassy – is because of this country’s stances against Iran’s nuclear file”, Heydari said.

“We tell America, you should know that there will not be a repeat of the Second World War, when not a single bullet was fired on American soil. This time, your interests in the Middle East and American and British soil will not be spared from attacks by the Bassij”, the Bassij representative said.

He added that if Britain continued its evil against Muslims of the world and the Iranian people, then the militia would have no choice other than to “destroy this embassy on the heads of its British occupants; a decision which will be realised”.

The Bassij - affiliated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - are hard-line Islamist vigilantes loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and were recently given new powers to act as the country’s back-up police force.

Hundreds of its members staged Wednesday afternoon's demonstration outside the British embassy in protest against the approval of a British-drafted resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors censuring Iran’s nuclear activities. British and American flags were set on fire during the demonstration. A car tyre was also set alight and hurled towards the main gate of the embassy. Molotov cocktails were also thrown into the embassy compound.

Protestors called for the closure of the British embassy and the expulsion of the British ambassador Richard Dalton. The United Kingdom had drafted Saturday’s IAEA resolution which demanded that the Islamic Republic suspend its sensitive nuclear work or be referred to the United Nations Security Council.

Iran poses bigger problem to US than North Korea in nuclear row

Yahoo News:

Tue Sep 27,11:01 PM ET

Iran is proving to be a bigger headache for the United States than North Korea even though the communist state probably has nuclear bombs and the Islamic republic may be years away from producing one, analysts say.

"In terms of threats -- at this point -- the Bush administration sees the Iranian regime as more threatening than the North Korean regime," said Robert Einhorn of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Among the US fears, he said, was sensitive Iranian nuclear technology falling into the hands of radical groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which Iran has backed.

"The question exists what kinds of ties Iran's Revolutionary Guards have with militant groups and would they be prepared to provide assistance in some very nasty weapons," Einhorn, a former top non-proliferation official in the US State Department, told a media briefing.

There is also concern in Washington over alleged Iranian attempts to destabilize Iraq and provide shelter to Al-Qaeda militants, blamed for the September 11 2001 deadly attacks on the United States.

Although both "axil of evil" states Iran and North Korea are considered state sponsors of terrorism by the United States, Iran poses a bigger threat, Einhorn said.

"Nobody believes that North Korea is sponsoring terrorism these days whereas there is a real concern about Iran's sponsorship of Hezabollah and other Middle East terrorist groups," he said.

North Korea may have enough plutonium for between two and nine nuclear bombs but "they are very, very unlikely to use them," Joseph Cirincione, Director for Non-Proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told AFP.

"Deterrence is alive and well, they know what happens next," said the weapons expert.

Based on nuclear capability alone, Cirincione said North Korea had to be considered "a greater security threat" than Iran "but however I do believe that North Korea's threat is effectively contained."

Even in terms of North Korea's conventional weapons threat, there is a growing assessment among experts that Pyongyang no longer poses an invasion risk to the US-backed south.

"Sure, the North Koreans can do tremendous damage in South Korea through rocket attacks, artillery and missiles but invading the South is totally unrealistic in this stage of the game," said Einhorn.

Experts also point to the stark contrast between North Korea, a small, poor and isolated nation with no key resources, and Iran, the holder of the world's second-largest reserves of oil and gas which has threatened to use the prized commodities as a bargaining chip in its nuclear row with the West.

"So while there is no evidence at all that Iran has any significant quantity of nuclear material or any nuclear weapons, Iran is a much more difficult nuclear issue to resolve for the United States," Cirincione said.

The nuclear row with Iran erupted about two years ago after the UN's atomic agency's inspectors uncovered evidence that it had concealed efforts to enrich uranium, a crucial building block for nuclear weapons.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea and Iran but it is increasingly having bilateral meetings with Pyongyang even while multilateral talks are underway to end the nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula.

"But they are not prepared to face the Iranian regime in part because they hope they can delegitimize that regime and there can be regime change," Einhorn said.

North Korea pledged last week to disband its atomic weapons network in return for energy aid and security guarantees.

Although negotiations are still in the early stage, experts see a path for the United States to resolve its three-year nuclear standoff with North Korea.

With Iran however, they expect the confrontation to escalate following the adoption last week of a resolution at the UN atomic agency to report the Islamic state to the UN Security Council for violating its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The action followed Tehran's decision last month to suspend US-backed negotiations with the European Union.

"They seem to be in a nuclear game of chicken and both cars are right smack in the middle of the road and heading towards each other in full speed. We don't know what is going to happen, we have to wait for somebody to swerve," Cirincione said.

Torture/Death Penalty/Imminent Execution: Moussa Esfandiari Mehni (m)

Amnesty International:

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/062/2005

27 September 2005

UA 256/05 Torture/Death Penalty/Imminent Execution

IRAN Moussa Esfandiari Mehni (m), aged 42, farmerFarmer

Moussa Esfandiari Mehni was sentenced to death in October 2004, apparently convicted of smuggling firearms and opium. He is alleged to have confessed under torture. The Supreme Court in Tehran is believed to have upheld the sentence this month. All death sentences in Iran must be upheld by the Supreme Court before they can be implemented, and he could now be executed at any time. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, has the power to grant clemency at this stage.

Moussa is married and has seven children. He lives near the town of Baft, in south-eastern Iran. He was allegedly tortured after he was arrested: this included burning, beatings and fake executions, in order to force him to confess. He is now held in Baft prison.


Amnesty International opposes the death penalty as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Thugs will prevent progress at the U.N.

San Antonio Express-News:

Web Posted: 09/28/2005 01:51 AM CDT

While most of the nation was focused on hurricanes battering the Gulf Coast, another tempest of sorts descended on New York this month. The United Nations hosted a world summit, coinciding with its 60th anniversary and the start of a new session of the General Assembly.

The increasingly paranoid leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, was there. Fresh off a program to destroy urban slums that has made 700,000 of his nation's poorest citizens homeless, the 81-year-old autocrat said the United Nations should focus its efforts on housing victims of Katrina rather than victims of his disastrously oppressive rule.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chαvez attended, bravely shrugging off the mortal danger posed by viewers of "The 700 Club." In his speech to the assembly, Chαvez derided the international organization's dictatorship by the United States and its imperialist allies. Dictatorship, of course, is a subject about which he has more than a passing acquaintance.

Crown Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia came, along with Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. Al-Faisal stayed around New York long enough to tell the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York Sun reported, that his country was the victim of "an unjustified intense onslaught" that made it the "scapegoat" of Sept. 11, 2001. And Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the United Nations "to lead in the promotion of spirituality and compassion for humanity." His regime is presently engaged in a massive crackdown that has led to the arrest of thousands of "troublemakers" on the flimsiest of charges and to scores of floggings and hangings for moral infractions, including the execution of homosexuals. The clownishness, thuggishness and deception that annually accompany the opening session gala might have been dismissed if not for the extremely high stakes the United Nations itself had placed on the summit.

For months, Secretary-General Kofi Annan identified the September meeting as a pivotal event. "Never in the history of the United Nations," Annan said in June, "have bold decisions been more necessary."

He circulated draft documents addressing four critical areas: economic development; peace and security; human rights and the rule of law; and, after 60 years, comprehensive U.N. reform.

As the summit came to an end, Annan struggled to put an optimistic assessment on some modest accomplishments. On the major issues, however, member states came up short.

For four years now, for instance, the United Nations has struggled to come up with a definition — and an accompanying condemnation — of terrorism that accommodates the sensitivities of its diverse and perverse membership. The U.N. High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change came up with this simple, if uninspiring, formulation:

"Any action ... intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or noncombatants, when the purpose of such act ... is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act."

The General Assembly failed to approve it.

The United Nations can't condemn what it won't define, can't fix what many of its member states want to remain broken. And so terrorism, like nuclear proliferation and U.N. reorganization, went unresolved.

The statements of some of the world's most oppressive leaders are integrally tied to this failure. There are, according to Freedom House, 88 members of the United Nations that are full-fledged democracies. The rest — 103 — are not.

Citizens of free societies tend to look on the United Nations as the last, best hope for humanity. Leaders of despotic societies look at it as a tool for undeserved legitimacy, a vehicle to spread ideology and — as the oil-for-food scandal has demonstrated — an international trust off which they can aggrandize power and wealth. As long as the United Nations makes no fundamental distinction between free and unfree nations and legitimate and illegitimate governments, the lofty goals set for it by Annan will remain a distant vision.

French ambassador dismisses Hizbullah ban

The Jerusalem Post:

Hilary Leila Krieger

French Ambassador to Israel Gerard Araud belittled efforts to have Hizbullah placed on the EU's list of terrorist organizations as "feel-good diplomacy" that "wouldn't make the slightest difference."

He also said that Israel had refused an EU offer to send peace-keeping troops to Gaza, and that France stands poised again to push to bring Iran before the Security Council to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Araud made the comments during a lecture he gave on "France and the Middle East" at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on Tuesday.

Israel has long urged the EU to put Hizbullah on its list of terror organizations, but Araud questioned the benefit when asked by a member of the audience why France doesn't do so.

"What would be the consequence?" he asked. "Nothing."

Instead, he said, labeling the party a terror group would only give it an excuse to rally the Arab world with the claim that "all the world is against us; it's an American-Zionist plot."

France, he said "doesn't want to give them that pleasure."

What it does want, Araud explained, is to give Hizbullah "a share in the democratic process and [to understand] that in this democratic process there's no place for weapons and for terrorism."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev differed with Araud's view.

"Our assessment is that by putting Hizbullah on the terror list, we would be effectively hampering that organization's ability to organize itself in Europe," he said, pointing to Hamas's limited capacity to raise money and function in Europe after the EU put it on the list.

Araud stressed that Israel and France shared the same aim of seeing Hizbullah disarmed, but it's a goal only the Lebanese could actually achieve.

He also said the countries shared a common interest in preventing Iran from becoming a militarized nuclear power, which "could mean the collapse of the non-proliferation system throughout the world," and that France wanted to see the UN take action.

Unless Iran's policy changed, he warned, in another month or two months, "we are going to try again to go to the Security Council."

He called the Iranians "very bright, shrewd negotiators" and described the European team engaging them as "not naive," noting his own sense at the outset of their discussions that France had only "a one in ten chance of success."

Asked about Iran's calls for Israel to abandon nuclear weapons, Araud responded: "It's a joke... It's a distraction. That simply is not in the game. The game is between the international community and Iran."

After his formal lecture, Araud mentioned that both France and the EU had brought up the possibility of putting peace-keeping troops in Gaza, but Israel had indicated it didn't want an "international presence between Tzahal and the terrorists."

Regev concurred that Israel had not acceded to "a third-party security presence" at the Egypt-Gaza Rafah crossing due to fears it would limit their ability to fight terror, among other concerns.

When it comes to the chaos in Gaza, Araud said that the Palestinians needed "more time" and Western bolstering of the moderates led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Throughout his lecture, Araud stressed that Israeli and French relations had recovered since their nadir in 2002 and pointed to ties in culture, science and intelligence gathering.

One audience member questioned why France didn't have any Israeli art or artifacts in its Louvre Museum.

Araud assured her that the museum did have Israeli pieces. "We stole everything," he said with a smile.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Iran’s Hezbollah to use satellite to spread Islamist message

Iran Focus:

Tehran, Iran, Sep. 26 – Iran’s Hezbollah announced on Sunday that it planned to set up a satellite TV channel to spread the group’s ultra-Islamist message, the country’s state-run media reported on Monday.

“At present, the website Hezbollah is the only active link connecting our organisation with Muslims. But we are seeking to set up a Hezbollah satellite channel”, the group’s Secretary General, Seyyed Mohammad-Baqer Kharrazi, said.

Kharrazi announced that as part of a re-shuffle in the group, Mojtaba Bigdeli was to act as his spokesman while Seyyed Mohammad Qaem-Maqami was to be the organisation’s spokesman.

More changes in regime's top Military Command


Sep 26, 2005, 16:22

The Islamic regime is making more changes in its top military command. By such measure, the regular Iranian Army is falling completely in the hands of commanders coming from the Ideological and Islamist Pasdaran Corp. (Revolutionary Guards). The changes have been notified following direct orders issued by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who seems to be worried by the current unprecedented geopolitical and internal factors.

The new changes are: Seyed Abdol-Rahim Moossavi appointed as the "Head of the Joint Armed Forces' Commission"; Ali Shamkhani as the "Head of the Central Investigation and Defense Operations Office"; Sadjaad Koochaki-Badlani as the "Commander of the Navy"; Mohammad-Reza Achtiani as the "Head of Overall Armed Forces"; Abdol-Ali Poorchasb as the "Deputy of Armed Forces Actions" and Mohammad-Hossein Dadress as the "Head of the Terrestrial Forces".

These new nominations are following other nominations made in August following the take over of the Islamist government by Mahmood Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guard colleagues.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Faezeh Hashemi Comments on Fourth Muslim Women Games

Iran News Daily:

TEHRAN – Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of the former president Hashemi Rafsanjani and organizer of the fourth Muslim Women Games said in a news conference attended by domestic and international media representatives: "Being the daughter of the former president has opened many doors for me and allowed to me to accomplish a number of things I otherwise would not have been able to do such as be the organizer of these games. My biggest wish is for equality among men and women."

The press briefing was also attended by correspondents from Rai Sport channel of Italy as well as British media outlets.

Elsewhere, British Muslim sportswomen who were also present at this gathering complained about their treatment by the UK authorities.

Fahmida Varsi, spokeswoman for the delegation said: "The British government did not help us in anyway toward participating in these games. We paid our own way here. We are also displeased with the organizers of these games for allowing the British Squash team to take part in this tournament because the entire team is Christian.

How can Islamic Women's Games grow and develop like this? Moreover, the government in London discriminates against Muslims and the only reason it did not lend any support to us was because we are women of Islamic faith. There are very few Muslim women in Britain who are involved in sports who wear the Hejab. As a result, the government ignores us and wants nothing to do with us. The truth is the discrimination against us is not just limited to sports but extends to all walks of life and in everything we do in British society. We have no choice but to live in Britain. After all we were born there and are a part of that society but it is not fair that just because we are observant Muslims who wear the Islamic cover we should be treated the way we are. There is only one sports hall available to us in all of London and we have to pay almost $50 for gaining access to that arena in order to practice once a week."

In conclusion, she mentioned that Muslim News a newspaper published in Britain supported them by providing them with uniforms and finding them a trainer (coach). The Fourth Muslim Women Games is currently being held in Tehran from September 23-29.

A Farewell to Imams

Tech Central Station:

By Stefania Lapenna


Italy's recent crackdown on suspected terrorists led some analysts to wonder if the country is toughening its anti-terror policies, after years of lacking a serious strategy to deal effectively with the problem. It seems that at least this time the analysts are correct. After the London bombings, most of Europe has begun to wake up to the nature of the enemy and many concede that nobody is immune to it. Over the last few weeks, the Italian interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, has toughened anti-terror laws and made hate speech punishable with jail or forced expulsion. In the first application of the newly-approved law, a fundamentalist imam, the Moroccan Bouriki Bouchta, has been expelled and sent back to Morocco. Bouchta, a self-proclaimed imam of the Turin mosque, was accused of expressing public admiration for Osama Bin Laden and praising Al Qaeda's actions during Friday sermons. He was the owner of a Halal butcher shop in Turin and was regarded as a figure of controversy. Yet, he was often interviewed by Italian TV channels and even invited to participate to terrorism-related talk shows. He has now been declared persona non grata. Similarly, another terror-enabling imam, the Senegalese Abdoul Mamour, was expelled for referring to Bin Laden as "our brother in Islam, May Allah Bless him" and "a true Islamic freedom fighter". The interior minister has announced that other expulsions are possible in the coming days and weeks. Currently, the Italian government is considering adopting special legislation modeled in part on the US Patriot Act. If so, Italy would be the first European country to adopt a special legislation with respect to Islamic terrorism. But until now, some other worrying phenomena have been widely ignored. The Egyptian-born Magdi Allam, a very well-informed investigative journalist of Il Corriere della Sera, has recently written an editorial warning the education minister to reject the call for legalizing a Milan-based Islamic school. The school belongs to a controversial mosque and is suspected of teaching an extremist version of Islam. Recently, some 44 US Senators have asked Italy to investigate the activities of the "Anti-Imperialist Camp" and groups like "Iraq Libero" (Free Iraq). Both are Marxist and extreme leftist organizations that have been collecting money to send to the "Iraqi resistance". Whether Italy intends to open an inquiry into these groups is not yet known. But one major step has been taken in the last few days, when Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini denied entry visas to two Iraqi Baathists who were to attend a controversial meeting in northern Italy. But it is not over. Italian news agencies reported that a terrorist formerly detained in the Abu Ghraib prison has been invited to Italy by the very same "Free Iraq" group that collects euros for Islamic terrorism against Iraqi civilians and coalition forces. It's not clear whether he will be granted an entry visa. What is certain is that a network of controversial groups organizes illegal actions, and thus violates the Italian law. One of these is the so-called "Islamic Anti-Defamation League" (IADL) established by a minority of Muslims whose goal is "monitoring anti-Islamist writings and defeating racism". In truth, it is nothing but an anti-constitutional group willing to limit free speech, mainly criticism of Islam and certain aspects of it. Some IADL members have been monitoring several blogs, threatening the owners with lawsuits defaming and publishing personal info of those who "dare" to criticize fundamentalism. Among the victims of this intimidation is a columnist for liberal newspapers such as Il Riformista and L'Opinione. The owner of a self-titled blog is "guilty" of posting about the "anti-imperialist camp's" secret ties to terrorist organizations. A member of the "monitoring group" has commented on his blog warning him to "rest assured that, from today, you have new visitors". But the blogger has responded by informing the investigative authorities, who have opened an inquiry into this secret organization. The intimidation, however, targets even Magdi Allam, who writes editorials exposing such groups and warning the Italian government to take decisive and effective action. Similarly, articles on these cases have been published by some known newspapers such as Libero, which wrote about the reactions by some government officials and ministers. Both vowed to help the investigative authorities into discovering what is behind the monitoring groups like IADL. As Allam often affirms, anti-terror policies must include monitoring mosques and Islamic centers and deporting the preachers of hate. The crackdown on terror cells and the forced expulsion of the Turin imam are but a first step in the right direction. The next move will tell us whether Italy has once and for all realized that tolerance toward intolerance has failed. Stefania Lapenna is an Italian activist. She is author of the weblog Free Thoughts.

Ahmadinejad demands that Rowhani be prosecuted

Iran Press News:

25 September 2005

Activist & political prisoner, Arjang Davoodi exiled to Bandar-Abbass prison

Based on received reports, Arjang Davoodi, who has been incarcerated at the horrifying Rejaiishahr prison in the Tehran suburb of Karadj, in a short conversation with his family said that his 14 year prison sentence has been confirmed and is being transferred to Bandar-Abbass prison in the southern most province of Iran where his family will not be able to readily visit him.

Davoodi who in prison, wrote a book about the interrogations, tortures and horrors of his days in "solitary" had his manuscript privately delivered to a book publishing company for publication and distribution. The secret service agents of the Ministry of Information however intercepted the manuscript by attacking the printing house, severely injuring the employees and arresting the publisher, leading to his imprisonment, as well. Davoodi had been threatened to be transferred, several times by the Mullah Director of the 26th Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

50-year-old Arjang Davoudi, an engineer, teacher and poet was sentenced to 14 years in prison and 70 lashes for aiding foreign journalist, Jane Kokan, secretly produce a documentary about the Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who died under torture in Evin Prison in the summer of 2003. Davoudi was severely beaten in prison and was held in solitary confinement for more than 100 days.

Ahmadinejad demands that Rowhani be prosecuted

Al Arabiya Television ( in a report announced that following the approval of the E.U. resolution to the IAEA's Board of Governors for the referral of Islamic Republic's nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council, Ahmadinejad has demanded that the authorities of the previous team of nuclear negotiators of the regime, headed by Mullah Hasan Rowhani (who was also the previous head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council) be prosecuted. This reportage added that Ahmadinejad's administration blames Rowhani and his team for agreeing to the suspension of Uranium enrichment, which lead to the IAEA's board of governors' present decision. The report also states that Ahmadinejad has accused the team of showing weakness and vulnerability, leaking secret information regarding the regime's nuclear activities to the Europeans.

Regime's spokesman confesses to the exacerbation of international restriction on the regime

Assefi, the spokesman for the Islamic Republic's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in reaction to the statements made by the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Saud Faisal who commented on the regime's continued meddling and trouble making in Iraqi affairs ( said: "We did not expect such fictitious commentary from our friends." Asefi called Minister Saud Faisal's comments vis a vis the Islamic Republic of Iran's role in the bloody events in Iraq "histrionic and irrational" and said: "Under the present critical conditions of the region, the regime will not stand for fallacious remarks."

Regime-run newspaper threatens Europe

The regime-run newspaper belonging to Mullah Khamnei, in it's Sunday, Sept. 25th issue printed an article regarding the approval of the European Union resolution to the IAEA's Board of Governors. The article wrote: "Referral of the regime's dossier to the U.N. Security Council will take place with a delay and that way, our 'trigger mechanism' will become operational."

This regime-run daily broadcast the regime's rage regarding the approval of the E.U. resolution and stressed that this is a clear sign of belligerence against the regime. "Countries that are subservient to the United States should not think that investing in vulgar business that is the harbinger of a woeful endings, can be profitable."

More than 1600 protesting workers from the city of Qazveen gathered

More than 1600 workers and retirees from the city of Qazveen's MEHNAKH & SARNAKH thread company gathered in front of the gates of the factory to protest non-receipt of their wages. The 300 retired workers joined the 1300 workers who are presently employed but have not received their salaries for months.

"England cannot do a damn thing either..."

Following the presentation of the European Union resolution to the Board of Governors of the IAEA, by the British representative, on Friday evening, Sept. 23rd, the regime's authorities had very harsh and confrontational words for the government of Britain, many demanding the expulsion of the Ambassador of Britain to Iran.

Based on reports from several of the regime-run media, Mehdi Kouchakzadeh, the regime's representative at the Islamic Parliamentary Assembly said: "I myself, as a representative of the regime, welcomed and encourage this action and find it to be honorable. We should not fear the dossier's referral to the Security Council. The British are in the process of putting other operations in action to weaken the Islamic Republic of Iran however what they don't seem to comprehend is that they cannot do a damn thing and thus we are warning them to discontinue this attitude they've taken with us because the consequences will be far from pleasant and if they think that this is an aphorism, then they can keep this up and well then...Besmellah."

Giving Tehran's regime a chance means bringing them closer to nuclear bombs The Austrian Newspaper, DER STANDARD (, in it's Saturday, Sept. 24th issue stresses that the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear issues which has been turned into a global quagmire, must be referred to the U.N. Security Council otherwise it will once again be another opportunity for the Mullahs to get closer and closer to nuclear arms.

Der Standard wrote: "Tehran's regime is not willing to retreat and continues to press on with its nuclear activities." This publication states that a showdown between the European Union and Tehran's regime is inevitable and slowly the forms of confrontations will become more and more clear.

Police fear Balkan mafia eager to sell A-bomb materials to Iran

The Sunday Herald:

25 September 2005

From Gabriel Ronay Iran’s quest to become a nuclear power has galvanised the Balkan mafias, security sour ces have warned following the discovery of potentially lethal nuclear enrichment mat erial in the region.

Last week, Bulgarian customs officials prevented a car from crossing into Romania after discovering 3.5kg of hafnium, a metallic element that is used in the nuclear enrichment process and which could potentially be employed in the manufacture of radioactive “dirty bombs”.

According to General Veleri Petrov, the Bulgarian police chief, the hafnium consignment, discovered at the Ruse border crossing point, was destined for a Romanian mafia with Middle Eastern connections. One Bulgarian and three Romanian nationals in the car were arrested.

A Bulgarian police spokes man said the consignment of the rare metal was concealed on the person of the Bulgarian driver of the car.

On its own, hafnium is not radioactive. The consignment was “virtually 100% pure” and suitable for use in nuclear reactors as a control material.

Apart from its use in the nuclear industry, hafnium can also be transformed into a powerful explosive – one gram of hafnium having the potential, after sophisticated and expensive treatment, to emit gamma rays equivalent in power to 50 kilos of TNT. Because of this it is highly sought after by Middle Eastern terrorist armourers. Hafnium is difficult and very expensive to refine. Bulgaria does not possess the technology to produce pure hafnium, the spokesman said, adding that the origin of the consignment was unknown. But, clearly, money is no object for the shadowy end-users .

The Sunday Herald has learned from Romanian sources that an Arab-dominated Bucharest mafia was the inter mediary in the hafnium deal. The sources could not give the intended final destination of the consignment, but the “working hypothesis” of Balkan police forces is that “it is linked to Iran’s nuclear quest”. Then again, there are always al-Qaeda armourers keen to buy dirty bomb material.

Professor Marina Nizamska, head of the Bulgarian Atomic Energy Commission’s special measures department, said hafnium, though not radioactive, is on the UN’s proscribed list of double- purpose materials that have both military and civilian uses. It has special uses in making rockets and bombs, as well as in the manufacture of television tubes.

In a curious twist to the Ruse border crossing arrests, the three Romanian nationals were yesterday released because the Bulgarian driver of the smugglers’ car admitted that the hafnium consignment was his property. He could not, however, say from where it came. Bulgarian police therefore had no legal grounds to hold the three Romanians and they were set free, the police spokesman added.

Because of the concerns raised by the case, the sudden and unconditional freeing of the smuggler’s Romanian companions raises justifiable fears about the financial clout of the mafias apparently involved, and the legendary corruptibility of Balkan police forces. Bulgaria, like Romania, is hoping to join the EU in 2007, but corruption is seen as one of the main stumbling blocks in its path.

The problem is that Bulgaria is at the crossroads of the east-west nuclear smuggling route. Over the past few years, Bulgarian police have foiled at least two attempts to smuggle plutonium and uranium to the Middle East via Bulgaria.

As for Romania, its corruption problem is compounded by the fact that venality is all-pervasive and institutional ised. And organised crime, part of which is controlled by a Syrian-led syndicate, has penetrated the highest echelons of the state. It has MPs, police generals, judges and public prosecutors on its payroll, according to a report by the Bucharest daily Evenimentul Zilei.

Enriched uranium, along with plutonium, is one of the alternative essential component of a nuclear fission weapon or A-bomb. Hafnium is part of the manufacturing process. Iran argues that it has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful use in power stations, but the EU and the US fear that Tehran will change the process to make a nuclear bomb.

Only last week Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said in New York that the EU was trying to bully Iran. “The Europeans have been trying to humiliate the Iranians. Do not doubt that enrichment is a national desire,” he insisted.

Iran’s determination to be a nuclear power defies the EU and the US and threatens to upset the UN’s attempts to control nuclear proliferation. Yesterday the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency approved a resolution that sets Iran up for referral to the U.N. Security Council for violating the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty.

Iran Rejects IAEA Resolution on Nuclear Program

Voice of America:

25 September 2005

Iran is calling an international resolution on its nuclear program politically motivated and illegal, but does not rule out future negotiations with the West.

Speaking Sunday in Tehran, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called the International Atomic Energy Agency resolution a scenario determined by the United States in advance.

The IAEA resolution passed Saturday in Vienna accuses Tehran of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by failing to comply with international nuclear safeguard agreements.

The resolution leaves open the possibility of referring Tehran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it fails to cooperate fully with IAEA inspectors. Washington accuses Tehran of using its ongoing nuclear program as a cover for efforts to develop an atomic weapon. Tehran says its program is aimed at developing electricity.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

Canada: Iran Violates Human Rights

Rooz Online:

While the pro hardline government media in Iran called the meeting between the Iranian and Canadian foreign ministers successful, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, after meeting with his Iranian counterpart that his country had prepared a new resolution to condemn human rights violations in Iran and would propose it to the United Nations General Assembly.

The new resolution condemning Iran's human rights record followed by IAEA resolution last week, which paves the way for referring Iran's nuclear file to the UN Security Council, has already created new challenges for Iran's foreign policy makers.

An Iran analyst believes that although for the past 25 years, Iran has already been more or less internationally isolated, the recent international extensive and comprehensive alliance against the Islamic Republic of Iran is new in its scope and strength. This state of affairs, according to him, can be interpreted as a victory for the United States, especially in the desire of those politicians who have been advocating the use of force against Iran.

Kayhan daily, Tehran's hard-line newspapers and the most serious supporter of the government had written and expected diplomatic success for Iran in its efforts to neutralize the Europeans over the nuclear issue. The IAEA decision proved it wrong. Kayhan also claimed success for Iran’s new foreign policy team after Manoutchehr Motaki met several of his counterparts, including the one from Canada, in New York during the General Assembly sessions. But the Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew, who seemed distressed and angry after his meeting with the Iranians, told reporters that Canada is preparing a new resolution to condemn Iran's human rights violations at the General Assembly. Pettigrew also told reporters that Iran official behavior towards Zahra Kazemi's file and rendering justice in this murder has forced Canada to take firmer stance. Kazemi was an Iranian-Canadian who had traveled to Iran and was arrested while taking photographs outside the notorious Evin prison. She was subsequently found dead in her prison cell, while officials presented conflicting reports and reasons for her death. Canadians and her family members have been pursuing the case to identify and present those responsible for her death, but cooperation from the Iranian side has been meager, according to those following the events.

In his last week's speech in New York, Canada's FM called for new reforms in U. N. in order to better deal with countries such as Iran. Iran, it should be noted, is currently a member of United Nation's Human Rights Commission. Canada is putting forth reforms that call for excluding countries such as Iran that have a dismal human rights record, to prevent a conflict of interest.

Saudis see US policy helping Iran make inroads in Iraq

Yahoo News:

Sun Sep 25, 6:23 PM ET

Saudi Arabia is concerned that US policies are helping Iran make inroads in Iraq through the Shiite community, raising fears Tehran may yet seek to extend its influence into Sunni-led Gulf neighbors.

"The kingdom fears that what is taking place in Iraq will lead to its partition and the consecration of sectarian divisions in a way threatening the country's Arab identity," a Saudi official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

The official accused Iran of "seeking to spread its influence in Iraq through the Shiite community," which forms a majority in the violence-wrecked country.

"US policy in Iraq is entrenching sectarian divisions and overlooking Iranian infiltration of the country," the official went on to charge, after Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal publicly articulated similar fears in the United States earlier this week.

Sunni Arabs who dominated Iraq under the regime of ousted president Saddam Hussein found themselves increasingly marginalized as parliament approved a draft constitution despite their objections.

Sunni extremists waging an anti-US insurgency have called for a boycott of an October 15 referendum on the charter and threatened to kill anyone taking part, while most Sunni organizations have urged a "no" vote, mainly because they distrust federal provisions in the draft.

Saud voiced concern at purported Iranian military, financial and political meddling in Iraq, warning that the country's potential partition into a Kurdish state in the north, a Sunni state in the center and a Shiite state in the south would "bring other countries in the region into the conflict."

"There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together," the Saudi chief diplomat told reporters in Washington Thursday. "All the dynamics are pulling the country apart." Saud blamed much of Iraq's ills on US decisions such as designating "every Sunni as a Baathist criminal."

He had earlier argued that Washington was effectively handing Iraq to Iran by pursuing a policy that deepens sectarian divisions.

Tehran on Saturday dismissed Riyadh's concerns.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran does not expect such remarks from its friends at such a sensitive time in the region, and considers them surprising and irrational," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

But a member of the Saudi appointed Shura (consultative) Council accused the Shiite-majority government of Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari of seeking to extend "Shiite control over the country, or most of it, in complicity with Iran."

Jaafari's government is "encouraging the Americans to be hostile to the Sunnis so as to (cover up for) Iranian infiltration," Mohammad Al Zalfa told AFP.

Iran is taking advantage of "the catastrophic situation in Iraq to boost its influence there and eventually settle scores with Washington if they clash (over Tehran's nuclear program), at the expense of the Iraqi people," Zalfa said.

The Islamic Republic "also aims to become the strongest regional power, and this worries Gulf (Arab) states," he said.

Saudi political analyst Turki al-Hamad said Iran was encouraging the development of a "Shiite identity among Iraq's Shiite Arabs" that would make them look to Iran for leadership.

This is "alarming for the peoples and governments of Gulf Arab states" because Iran will go on to do the same with Shiite minorities in the region, he said.

And it is bound to affect ties between Tehran and its Arab neighbors across the Gulf, Hamad added.

Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states have Shiite minorities of varying sizes, while Shiites are a majority in Bahrain.

Saudi Shiites, who make up about 10 percent of the population, are concentrated in the kingdom's oil-rich Eastern Province.

A Saudi-based Arab diplomat pointed to a "chill" in Riyadh's relations with the Jaafari government.

The Saudi government has yet to give the green light to the reopening of the Iraqi embassy in Riyadh despite the fact that an Iraqi technical team finished rehabilitation work on the premises months ago, he told AFP.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

China stands firm on Iran and Security Council

Yahoo News:

Sat Sep 24,11:07 PM ET

China's hunger for oil will remain the force behind Beijing's opposition to bringing the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN, despite its abstention from an IAEA resolution on Iran, analysts say.

In a vote Saturday at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Britain, France and Germany, backed by the United States, opened the way to refer Iran to the Security Council for suspected efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.

China and Russia abstained in the vote after a draft resolution was watered down to allow Iran to negotiate a settlement before a key IAEA report on Tehran's nuclear program is handed over to the UN in November.

Saturday's resolution, introduced by the EU-3, holds Iran in violation of international treaty obligations but omitted an explicit call for immediate UN action.

China, a permanent Security Council member with veto power, made clear this week that the issue must be resolved within the framework of the IAEA.

"China believes that using diplomatic means within the framework of the IAEA to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue is conducive to peace and stability in the region concerned," China's ambassador in Vienna Wu Hailong said.

"It is conducive to safeguarding the international non-proliferation regime, and is in line with the fundamental interests of all parties."

China also encouraged Iran and the EU to keep talking.

"We call upon the EU and Iran to take practical steps, at an earliest possible date, to resume their negotiations," he said.

Russia, China and non-aligned nations back Iran's right to what it says is a peaceful nuclear program and fear that Security Council actions could escalate into calls for trade sanctions, such as a ban on oil sales.

This would likely draw sharp retaliation from the Iranian oil giant, which China fears. Beijing's stance is partly because it has a policy of not interfering in other countries' internal affairs, driven by the fact that it does not want similar outside interference in its own domestic matters.

But mostly it is down to economic interests, in particular oil which China needs to keep firing its remarkable economic transformation, experts said.

In 1997 China negotiated a 1.3 billion dollar contract with Saddam Hussein to develop the al-Ahdab oil field in central Iraq, and in 2001 it was in talks develop the much larger Halfayah field.

"Between them, the two fields might have accounted for almost 400,000 barrels per day, or 13 percent of China's oil consumption in 2003," said Michael Schwartz, professor of sociology at the State University of New York who specialises in Iraq and Iran.

"However, like Iraq's other oil customers (including Russia), China was prevented from activating these deals by the UN sanctions then in place ..."

When the US invaded and set up the Coalition Provisional Authority all pre-existing contracts and promises were null and void, wiping out China's stake in Iraqi oil fields. So it turned to Iran, and sealed a 70 billion dollar contract to import Iranian oil.

Ehsan Ahrari, an independent strategic analyst based in Virginia who regularly writes on Iran, said that for these reasons, China would never agree to the issue being taken to the Security Council.

"China has been strengthening its ties in Iran, most importantly, in the energy field. It also has been doing business with Iran in the transfer of missile, and even nuclear technology," he said on his website

"China's voracious energy appetite is in dire need of Iran's considerable oil and gas reserves. As long as Iran needs China's missile and nuclear technologies, Beijing expects its oil purchase bills to become eminently manageable.

"Consequently, the Iranians are feeling comfortable that they have reasons to count on China's support."

China has a voracious appetite for oil to feed an economy ticking along at 9.5 percent annual growth, and has been searching for supplies in all parts of the globe.

The world's most populous country expects to import 130 million tonnes of crude in 2005, up from last year's record high of 122 million tonnes, making it the second largest importer in the world after the United States.

New Academic Year Marked by Spread Protest Actions


Sep 24, 2005, 08:04 The beginning of the Iranian New Academic Year, starting today, was marked by spread protest actions.

Partial actions took place related to Iranian universities and schools, such as, the strike of students of Esfahan Pharmacology School, Hamdean Medical School and Tehran's Polytechnic Institute; Protest gatherings of some teachers of Mashad, Esfahan and Shiraz; Or the refusal of many students to chant the Islamic regime's official anthem.

In some schools the students chanted the banned "Oh Iran!" anthem.

These actions took place despite the deployment of hundreds of agents of special security units in the Academic institutions and threats made against some teachers and students.

Village burns following rupture of pipeline


Sep 24, 2005, 00:31

Several homes of the Marvook Village, located in the southern province of Lorestan, have burned following the mysterious rupture of a pipeline.

The incident took place in the early hours of today.

The pipeline was carrying gasoline from the southern refineries toward the north of the country.

Acts of sabotage and arson are in constant raise across Iran and especially in the Capital where the increase is more than 50% compare to last year

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Islamic Republic linked to 1985 bombing at US air base in Germany: report

Khaleej Times:


24 September 2005

MUNICH - Federal investigators in Germany have unearthed new evidence linking Iran to the 1985 bombing of a US military base that injured 35 persons, according to a report on Saturday.

Iranian secret agents allegedly detonated explosives concealed in a vehicle at the Frankfurt post-exchange food store on November 24, 1985, said the report in Focus news magazine.

Focus said investigators believe the agents were members of a hit squad working on orders from Teheran to eliminate dissidents living in Europe in exile.

The hit squad was also responsible for the deaths of two dissidents, one in Hamburg in 1987 and one in Bonn in 1992, the magazine said, citing sources within the German federal prosecutor’s office.

Investigators were quoted as saying the “credible new evidence” comes from a former Iranian secret service official.

IAEA Board Approves Resolution on Iran

Yahoo News:

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer

The 35-nation board of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency approved a resolution Saturday that could lead to Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council for violating a nuclear arms control treaty — something the United States has been urging for years.

The council possibly could impose sanctions if it determined that Iran violated the treaty, but that is unlikely since China and Russia, which wield Security Council vetoes, oppose those efforts.

Diplomats inside the IAEA board meeting said the European Union motion was approved by only 22 of the 35 member nations. Only twice in the past two decades has the IAEA board voted on an issue instead of adopting a resolution by consensus. Twelve nations — including China and Russia — abstained. Venezuela cast the only vote against.

Washington suspects Iran is trying to develop atomic bombs, while Tehran maintains its activities are for generating electricity. Britain, France and Germany have negotiated with Iran on behalf of the 25-nation EU.

Saturday's approval reflected board concern over Iran's "long history of concealment and deception," chief U.S. representative Gregory Schulte said.

The board is "concerned that Iran's activities pose an increasing threat to international peace and security," Schulte said. "The IAEA has called on Iran to ... come clean."

But Iran's delegation head, Javad Vaeidi, said strong opposition by many board members reflected that "there is no consensus on the way forward." He warned of retaliation, declaring: "Threat invokes threat."

Tehran warned Friday that, if the resolution was approved, it could retaliate by starting uranium enrichment — a possible path to nuclear arms — and reduce IAEA powers to inspect its activities under the additional agreement it signed but had not yet ratified.

Diplomats accredited to the agency who requested anonymity because their information was confidential said both threats were contained in unsigned letters and shown by a member of the Iranian delegation to the IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei.

If signed and submitted, the letters become part of the official record.

Diplomats inside Saturday's closed meeting, who demanded anonymity because they were discussing confidential information, said the EU draft resolution adopted by the board was the one submitted Friday after last-minute talks collapsed with Russia and China on modifications meant to make the text milder in exchange for Moscow's and Beijing's overt support.

The EU draft called on the board to consider reporting Iran to the council. As grounds, it mentioned noncompliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and suspicions that Iran's nuclear activities could threaten international peace and security, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press.

The Security Council could impose sanctions if it determines that Iran violated the treaty, but the draft did not mention sanctions, in recognition of Russian and Chinese opposition.

Still, it was unequivocal in saying that — unless Iran ends uranium conversion and clears up questions remaining about its past nuclear activities — grounds exist for it to be referred to the Security Council.

A nation's failure to comply with the treaty is automatic grounds for a report to the Security Council under IAEA statutes, and the draft said "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations ... constitute noncompliance."

Additionally, Iran's spotty record on cooperating with an IAEA investigation that began in 2002 has led to an "absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," the document said. That finding puts Iran "within the competence of the Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security," the text said.

The draft did not specify a time frame for referral, but outlined what Iran must do to avoid being brought before the Security Council, including giving IAEA experts access to nuclear-related documents and sites, suspending all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and ratifying an inspection agreement with the IAEA.

The Europeans for years avoided U.S. demands for support in its push to haul Iran before the Security Council. They reluctantly swung behind Washington last month after Tehran effectively walked away from talks with Britain, France and Germany meant to reduce suspicions about its nuclear aims and began uranium conversion.