Iran Archives

November 30, 2003

Obituary of a Madman

As part of my new commitment to Blog-Iran, I was directed to this notable obituary of a key figure in the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution -- and an indication of the tender mercy we can expect from Islamofascists if they are allowed to expand their power: After the establishment in 1979 of a fundamentalist Islamic republic in Iran under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian army occupied three Kurdish-Iranian towns for supporting the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, condemned by Khomeini as "un- Islamic". The hardline cleric Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali set up his Islamic revolutionary court to weed out "counter-revolutionaries" in the town of Saghez. Learning that a Kurdish defendant who was born in Orumiyeh had lost a hand to a grenade explosion during the Tehran uprising, Khalkhali asked what he was doing in Saghez. "I am a guest at a social get- together, your honour," replied the defendant. "That...

January 18, 2004

Iran: Tipping Point Coming Soon?

The political crisis facing the Iranian government deepened today as the clerics in the Guardian Council refused to back down from disqualifying thousands of reformist candidates: Iran's hard-line Guardian Council on Sunday defended its disqualification of prospective candidates for next month's parliamentary elections, further deepening a political crisis. The Guardian Council, an unelected body controlled by hard-liners, has disqualified more than a third of the 8,200 people who applied to run in the Feb. 20 elections. ... The comments dashed hopes of a breakthrough after Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the Guardian Council on Wednesday to reconsider the disqualifications and laid down criteria that appeared to be easier to meet. The unelected Iranian mullahs who sit on the Guardian Council for life apparently feel that any attempt at compromise undermines their claim to protect the Islamic nature of Iranian government as envisioned by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the...

January 22, 2004

Iran: Political Violence Begins

The political clash between the rigid, ultraconservative mullahs of the Guardian Council and Iranian reformers escalated into violence today, thanks to Hezb' Allah and their allies: A 200-strong gang of political radicals attacked a meeting of Iranian reformists yesterday in the first outbreak of serious violence since moderates were barred from forthcoming elections. Members of the radical Islamic Hezbollah movement burst into a hall in Hamedan, western Iran. They disrupted a meeting called to discuss the disqualification of 3,605 predominantly reformist candidates from next month's general elections. The violence erupted after a speaker accused the Guardian Council, the unelected clerical body that vetoed the candidates, of disregarding an order by the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the disqualifications to be reviewed. "Some 200 people attacked the podium, broke the microphone and beat people," said one witness. The aggression of Hezb' Allah reveals true nature of the Iranian regime....

February 2, 2004

Ledeen: Iranian Appeasers and Dante's Inferno

Michael Ledeen at the National Review writes about the proposed trip to Iran by three US lawmakers, and wants to put a "Reserved" sign for them on the seventh level of Dante's Inferno: Sorry to say, I haven't reread Dante's "Inferno" for some years, but I still remember his description of a very low and extremely unpleasant level of hell that houses traitors. Surely abject appeasers of evil qualify for the same treatment, and we must note grimly that three prime candidates have recently come forward to swell the ranks of that overheated realm: Senator Joe Biden of Delaware (D.), Senator Arlen Specter (R.), of Pennsylvania, and Congressman Bob Ney of Nebraska (R.). All have undertaken to "improve relations" between the United States and the theocratic fascist regime of Iran. Specter announced over the weekend that congressional staffers would soon go to Tehran in the first stage of the appeasement...

February 19, 2004

'I would live in America, no problem'

The Telegraph publishes this remarkable statement from an unnamed Iranian Republican Guard soldier stationed at the old American embassy in Teheran: "I would live in America, no problem," said one 22-year-old, who added that he associated the country with "love and freedom". Nearby, "Down with USA" was painted on the wall in garish red and yellow hues. Another guard, also in his 20s, added: "Our government has one view of America but the people have another. Our government tries to show the US as an enemy of our country and of our people. All of the young believe the US is good. Most of the people believe this." Why were these young men standing guard over our old embassy in Teheran? The Iranian government, controlled by radical mullahs since Ruhollah Khomeini since the Islamic Revolution began 25 years ago this month, had turned the building into a museum dedicated to...

February 21, 2004

Iran Shrugs, Hard-Liners Control 'Parliament'

As expected after the Iranian Guardian Council -- the ruling band of mullahs who make all policy for the original Islamic Republic -- disqualified most of the reformist Parliamentary candidates, hard-liners dominated yesterday's elections. But Iranians, despite being told that voting was a religious requirement, stayed away in droves: ...

March 29, 2004

Iran Blinks -- Again

Iran has backed down again in its confrontation with the IAEA -- and the West -- over its nuclear program: Iran has stopped building centrifuges to win the world's trust over its nuclear program, the head of its Atomic Energy Organization said Monday. Gholamreza Aghazadeh said the suspension of the construction of centrifuges had been ordered by the country's Supreme National Security Coucil, Iran's top decision-making body. Iran suspended uranium enrichment last year under strong international pressure over the aims and dimensions of its nuclear program. But it continued to build centrifuges, which are used in enrichment, despite criticism that this violated the spirit of its pledge to cease enrichment. Iran had long been defiant about its nuclear program, which it insists is limited to power generation and has no application towards weapon development. Last year, after the invasion of Iraq made it clear that certain members of the UN...

April 1, 2004

Iran Still Playing Games: IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that despite Iranian claims of full cooperation with IAEA inspectors, Iran has continued to interfere with the inspections and block the investigations into its nuclear program: An internal report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency challenges Iran's contention that it has provided international inspectors with free access to workshops where it has manufactured parts for centrifuges. The document contradicts Iranian assurances this month that it had allowed inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, unrestricted access to the sites during inspections in January. "The agency's visit was 'managed' by the Iranians in the sense that the inspectors were not permitted to take pictures with IAEA cameras or use their own electronic equipment," said the document, which was first reported by Reuters and obtained Wednesday by The Times. The last time that the IAEA or the UN issued a critical report on...

April 22, 2004

Even Chirac Now Admits Iran Cheats

The New York Times reports today that Europe has slowly started to move towards the US position on Iran and its nascent nuclear program, as French president Jacques Chirac has now publicly chastised Iran's non-compliance: In a hardening of Europe's position toward Iran's nuclear activities, President Jacques Chirac of France criticized Iran on Wednesday for failing to comply fully with international inspections of its nuclear sites, and suggested that Iran had violated the spirit of an agreement with France, Germany and Britain to curtail its nuclear programs, senior French officials said. In a 45-minute meeting at lyse Palace with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi of Iran, Mr. Chirac also warned Tehran that unless it met the demands of the United Nations' weapons inspection agency before that group gathers in June for what he called a "decisive" meeting, it ran the risk that international goodwill would be eroded. Better late than never,...

May 29, 2004

Has Iran Declared War On The US?

According to translations of Iranian speeches and documents provided by MEMRI, the Iranians have announced to their Revolutionary Guard that they intend to attack and destroy "Anglo-Saxon civilization": A source close to [Revolutionary Guards] intelligence confirmed that P.R. has been appointed secretary-general of a new office that has begun registering the names of suicide volunteers to be sent to Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon. [The newspaper reported that it had obtained] a tape with a speech by H.A., a [Revolutionary] Guards intelligence theoretician, who teaches at the Revolutionary Guards' Al-Hussein University. [In the tape, H.A.] spoke of Tehran's secret strategy aimed at taking over the Arab and Muslim countries by means of helping revolutionary forces and organizations. H.A. is regarded as one of the advisors of a branch in the organization, and has published a number of works on exporting the [Islamic] revolution and the method of the struggle against the...

June 10, 2004

IAEA Discovers Orders For Thousands Of Centrifuges: Reuters

Reuters reports this evening that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN watchdog for nuclear non-proliferation, has discovered evidence that Iran intended on building thousands of centrifuges for weapons-grade nuclear fuel: The U.N. nuclear watchdog has found indications Iran wanted to equip thousands of uranium enrichment centrifuges, enough to produce bomb-grade material for several warheads per year, diplomats say. ... At a closed-door meeting on Iran, a senior inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the agency's governing board a private Iranian company had expressed interest in "tens of thousands" of magnets for advanced P-2 centrifuges from a European intermediary, said a diplomat who attended. The IAEA said last week in its latest report on Iran that the company had expressed interest in 4,000 magnets from a European intermediary -- enough for 2,000 centrifuges -- and had added it might buy in "higher numbers" to get a lower...

June 22, 2004

Have They Gone Mad?

Reuters reports that the Iranian mullahs apparently intend to inflame tensions even further in the Gulf region. Yesterday they captured three British patrol boats and held eight British sailors prisoner. Diplomatic scuttlebutt implied that the Iranians just wanted to make sure everyone knew that they had an eye on the CPA in Iraq and that the sailors would be shortly released. Now, however, the Iranians have decided to try the soldiers for violating Iranian waters: Iran will prosecute eight British naval personnel seized in its waters, state television said on Tuesday, turning what seemed a minor border incident into a serious diplomatic spat. ... The eight were arrested on Monday on the Shatt al-Arab waterway which marks the southern stretch of Iraq's border with Iran. Britain said the group were training Iraqi police and were delivering a boat to an Iraqi river patrol. Quoting unnamed Iranian military sources, Iran's Arabic...

June 25, 2004

Iran Thumbs Its Nose

The Islamic mullahcracy of Iran has thumbed its nose at the international community, announcing it will resume enriching uranium in defiance of its agreement to comply with IAEA requirements for non-proliferation: Iran has announced a "substantial resumption" of its uranium enrichment program and may have already stockpiled chemical weapons, a State Department official said Thursday. In testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton said Iran had reneged "on the commitment it made to the United Kingdom, Germany and France" to stop enriching uranium. Bolton said Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, that beginning next week the country will restart "the production of uranium centrifuge parts assembly and testing." Once again, the titans of Europe have taken us on a rollercoaster ride on WMD, and once again, the trip has been as pointless as an amusement-park ride:...

August 11, 2004

Iranian Chutzpah Reveals Their Intentions All Along

The Iranians have presented a list of demands to their European enablers that not only reveals the true intentions of the mullahcracy but the absolute uselessness of EU leadership. Britain and other EU nations were "stunned" to receive demands not just for dual-use nuclear technology, but for the delivery of weapons to the Iranian mullahs and a defense pact against Israel: Iran has issued an extraordinary list of demands to Britain and other European countries, telling them to provide advanced nuclear technology, conventional weapons and a security guarantee against nuclear attack by Israel. Teheran's request, said by British officials to have "gone down very badly", sharply raises the stakes in the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme, which Britain and America believe is aimed at making an atomic bomb. Iran's move came during crisis talks in Paris this month with senior diplomats from Britain, France and Germany. ... Iran said the...

August 16, 2004

The Real World Intrudes Into The Olympic Respite

The Olympics have long been a venue where the stated goals are "tolerance, solidarity, peace and friendship," but at the same time, also have a long history of member nations playing politics with its athletes and athletes playing politics on their own. Even the IOC has hardly been blameless as an organization in this regard, combining grubby graft (uncovered in the Salt Lake games) with overarching and ostentatious snobbery (their refusal to allow professional athletes to compete for decades). In Athens, the Iranians took their turn at injecting politics into sport by having their star judo champion refuse to take a bout with an Israeli challenger: Iran's Arash Miresmaeili has been eliminated after failing to make the correct weight at the Athens Olympics. But there is confusion over the affair, following the judo star's reported threat to walk out in protest when he was drawn against an Israeli opponent. Iran...

September 24, 2004

A Moment Of Truth, Indeed

At last, a moment of clarity from the French government! Agence France-Presse reports that French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has called the IAEA's November 25 deadline for Iranian compliance "a moment of truth": French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Iran's controversial nuclear program could be referred to the UN Security Council if the world is not reassured about its nuclear ambitions. "We are waiting clearly from Iran gestures and decisions that will reassure us," Barnier said in a lunch with French media on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. "Since there is a trust problem, dates have been set," he said, referring to a November 25 deadline for Iran to clear up suspicions over its activities or risk having the issue referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions -- something the United States has sought. ... "It will be a moment of truth," Barnier said, referring to...

September 25, 2004

Iran Distributes "Strategic" Missile To Its Troops

Iran announced earlier today that it had successfully tested a new "strategic" missile and has distributed it to its armed forces in the field, according to the AP: Iran said Saturday it successfully tested a "strategic missile" and delivered it to its armed forces, state-run radio reported. The report did not say whether the missile was the previously announced new version of the Shahab-3 rocket, which already was capable of reaching Israel and U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East, or was a new missile. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani declined to give details about the missile for "security reasons," but said Iran was "ready to confront all regional and extra-regional threats," the report said. Strategic missiles usually refer to longer-range weapons, as opposed to tactical missiles which would be used in battle conditions. The estimated range for the new missiles, according to Israeli analysts, is around 1,200 miles -- 50%...

October 5, 2004

Plus A Bit Of Extra Room For That Free Nuclear "Fuel" At The Top

The Iranians announced that they could hit targets all over Southwest Asia and even southern Europe with their new Shahab-3 rocket, the AP reports: Iran can launch a missile as far as 2,000 km (1,250 miles), a senior official was quoted as saying Tuesday, substantially increasing the announced range of the Islamic state's military capabilities. Such a missile would be capable of hitting Israel or parts of southeastern Europe. Iran says its missiles are for purely defensive purposes and would be used to counter a possible Israeli strike against its nuclear facilities. "Now we have the power to launch a missile with a 2,000 km range," IRNA quoted influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying. "Iran is determined to improve its military capabilities." The only way Iran could consider the Shahab-3 a defensive weapon is if they think the combat front exists at the borders of the old Ottoman...

October 19, 2004

Let He To Whom Kerry Would Give Nuclear Fuel Cast The First Stone

Ron Wright sent me this insight into the Iranian mullahcracy -- the one to which John Kerry and John Edwards want to give nuclear fuel to see what they do with it. In a case where a 15-year-old boy impregnated his 13-year-old sister, the mullahs have upheld a 150-lash sentence for the boy, but have confirmed a sentence for the girl of death by stoning: Almost two months after having hanged a 16 years-old girl, the ruling Iranian ayatollahs are to commit another human crime by condemning another young girl to stoning. According to Iranian and foreign press, Zhila Izadi, a 13 years old girl from the north-western city of Marivan had been condemned to death by stoning after being found that she had been pregnant from her 15 years-old brother. ... While Zhila as been sentenced to stoning, her brother, jailed in Tehran, is to receive only 150 lashes,...

October 27, 2004

Iran Sees John Kerry As Monty Hall

According to Reuters, the Iranian mullahcracy not-so-secretly looks forward to a John Kerry presidency, thanks in part to Kerry's "Let's Make A Deal" rhetoric in regards to Iran's nuclear ambitions: Iranian officials like to portray U.S. presidential elections as a choice between bad and worse but there is little doubt they would prefer Democratic challenger John Kerry to win next week. Since President Bush took office the Islamic state has been dubbed an "axis of evil" member, seen U.S. forces mass on its borders in Iraq and Afghanistan and faced concerted U.S. accusations that it has a covert atomic arms program. In other words, Bush's foreign policy regarding Iran is firmly rooted in reality. Iran has long been the strongest support for Islamofascist terror groups, directly funding Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad in Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank/Gaza Strip territories. It had links to al-Qaeda, although no one is sure...

November 6, 2004

Iran Continues Its Defiance

Iran has defied the EU-3 yet again, concluding the latest round of talks without an agreement to end uranium enrichment and stiffarming the international community: Talks between Iran and three European Union heavyweights ended on Saturday without an agreement on Tehran's nuclear program, a source close to the negotiations said. Iran was seeking a compromise in the talks with France, Germany and Britain to avoid a dispute over its nuclear program being referred to the United Nations Security Council and avert the risk of sanctions. The EU trio wants Iran to stop enriching uranium. "At the end of difficult talks, the two parties made considerable progress toward a provisional agreement on a common approach on these issues," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement. But a source close to the negotiations said: "Nothing is settled ... The discussions were difficult, very difficult. The Iranians struggled hard." "Everyone has to...

November 12, 2004

Iran Lied! (Gasp!)

The AP reports that a deal supposedly hammered out by the EU is collapsing due to Iran's renuncuiation of the agreement: A deal committing Iran to suspend activities that Washington says are part of a nuclear arms program was close to collapse Friday, with diplomats suggesting that Tehran had reneged on an agreement reached with European negotiators just days ago. ... The deal leaves open the exact length of the suspension but says it will be in effect at least as long as it takes for the two sides to negotiate a deal on European technical and financial aid, including help in the development of Iranian nuclear energy for power generation. But on Friday the diplomats told The Associated Press that Iranian officials had presented British, French and German envoys in Tehran with a version of the agreement that was unacceptable to the three European powers. Well, color me shocked...

November 14, 2004

Iran Agrees To Halt Uranium Enrichment

The EU-3 appears to have won a major diplomatic concession from Iran as the Islamic Republic has agreed to halt its uranium enrichment program, which the UN confirmed separately: Iran has given the United Nations a written promise to fully suspend uranium enrichment, diplomats said on Sunday, in an apparent bid to dispel suspicions that Tehran wants to build a nuclear bomb. The move also would appear to blunt an American drive to take Iran before the United Nations for the imposition of sanctions. By issuing the written commitment to the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency the International Atomic Energy Agency Iran dropped demands for modification of a tentative deal worked out on Nov. 7 with European negotiators, agreeing instead to continue a freeze on enrichment and to suspend related activities, diplomats told The Associated Press. "Basically it's a full suspension," said one of the diplomats, speaking on...

November 17, 2004

Iranians Have Nuke Plans, NYT Hasn't Got A Clue

A group of Iranian exiles claim that the Khan network of Pakistan has already given the Iranian mullahcracy the necessary plans for nuclear weapons as well as a small amount of weapons-grade uranium, making the Iranian claims of developing nothing other than a peaceful nuclear-energy program suspect: Iran obtained weapons-grade uranium and a design for a nuclear bomb from a Pakistani scientist who has admitted to selling nuclear secrets abroad, an exiled Iranian opposition group said on Wednesday. The group, that has given accurate information before, also said Iran is secretly enriching uranium at a military site previously unknown to the U.N., despite promising France, Britain and Germany that it would halt all such work. "(Abdul Qadeer) Khan gave Iran a quantity of HEU (highly enriched uranium) in 2001, so they already have some," Farid Soleiman, a senior spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), told reporters....

November 19, 2004

Iranians Flip-Flop On Nuclear Agreement

In a rhetorical flourish that recalls the best (or worst) of the Clinton Administration and the John Kerry campaign, Iran apparently has decided to stop their refinement of uranium into weapons precursors only after they've made enough of it to turn into weapons: Iran is preparing large amounts of uranium for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, days before its promise to freeze all such activities takes effect, Western diplomats said on Friday. "The Iranians are producing UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) like hell," a diplomat on the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters. "The machines are running." ... On Sunday, Tehran promised France, Britain and Germany it would freeze its enrichment program in a bid to ease concerns that its nuclear plans are aimed at producing atomic weapons -- a charge it denies -- and to escape a referral to the...

November 24, 2004

From A Freeze To Just A Chilly Experience

Iran has once again thrown its recent capitulation on uranium enrichment in doubt. Now the mullahcracy insists that an exemption must be made for two dozen centrifuges so that Iran can continue its research -- the same research which caused all the concern regarding their nuclear ambitions: Iran is demanding that it be allowed to make an exception in its commitment to freeze all uranium enrichment activities so it can operate about about two dozen centrifuges, diplomats said Wednesday. The Iranians have told the International Atomic Energy Agency the U.N. nuclear watchdog that they want to operate the centrifuges "for research purposes," the diplomats told The Associated Press. They have asked the IAEA to exempt around 24 of the devices from the agency seals meant to ensure the enrichment program is completely at a standstill, one of the diplomats said. The IAEA had no immediate comment. But another...

November 30, 2004

No, Seriously, We Had Our Fingers Crossed The Whole Time

You'll never guess what Iran did this morning: Iran reiterated Tuesday it was only prepared to freeze its uranium enrichment activities for a few months and would not, as the EU and Washington want, permanently mothball facilities which could make atomic bombs. The comments, made by Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, were a further blow to European Union efforts to persuade Tehran to scrap enrichment for good and were likely to fuel U.S. concerns that Iran secretly plans to produce nuclear weapons. Iran, which insists its nuclear program is solely for electricity generation, Monday escaped possible U.N. sanctions after agreeing to suspend all activities which could be used to make bomb-grade material. What? Iran reversed itself? Why, that's unprecedented! It hasn't happened since as far back as last week. What exactly have the EU-3 negotiators accomplished in this silly waltz with the Iranian mullahcracy? They had Iran sign off on an...

December 2, 2004

UN Lacks Authority For Comprehensive Iran Inspections Regime

In a blow to the entire concept of inspections regimes, UN diplomats admitted to Reuters that the UN lacks any authority to inspect areas not explicitly declared by Iran as nuclear sites. While nations collect intelligence detailing Iranian nuclear activities at new locations and the stripping of those facilities that have been declared by Iran, the UN can do little but ask Iran for permission to see for themselves: Inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog would like to visit a secret military site in Iran that an exile group said was a nuclear weapons site, but they lack the legal authority to go there, U.N. diplomats told Reuters. ... The New York Times reported Thursday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes satellite photographs show that high explosives are being tested and that procurement records show equipment has been bought that can be used for making bomb-grade uranium, citing...

December 6, 2004

Iranian Students Mock Khatami

In another sign that so-called Iranian "reformers" have lost their credibility among the masses, Iranian students today heckled President Mohammed Khatami in a speech to mark Student Day at Tehran University. Khatami, who had been a favorite of the reform-minded students, appeared shocked at the hostile reception: A visibly-shaken Khatami defended his record and criticised the powerful hardliners who have closed newspapers and jailed dissidents. He asked students to stop heckling and accused his critics of intolerance. ... "There is no Third World country where the students can talk to their president and criticise the government as you do now. I really believe in this system and the revolution and that this system can be developed from within," he is quoted as saying. But student leader Abdollah Momeni complained that there was is no difference between the president and the authoritarians who thwarted his reform programme. The students understand that...

December 12, 2004

A Stupid (And Apparently Public) Gamble

The Washington Post reports today that the US has tapped IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei's phones in an attempt to gather evidence of corruption that would enable the US to oust him from his post. So far, the Post reports, the only crime that ElBaradei has committed is diplomacy: The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials. But the diplomatic offensive will not be easy. The administration has failed to come up with a candidate willing to oppose ElBaradei, who has run the agency since 1997, and there is disagreement among some senior officials over how hard to push for his removal, and what the diplomatic costs of a public campaign against him could be. Although eavesdropping, even...

December 20, 2004

The Transformative Power Of Free Speech

Today's Guardian (UK) reports on what likely is the vanguard of a second Iranian revolution. Iranian bloggers have made Farsi the fourth biggest language in blogs, as over 75,000 sites have opened on the Internet under the noses of one of the strictest totalitarian regimes. The number of Iranian bloggers far outstrips that of those in neighboring countries and allows democracy-minded activists a means to network information to each other and the outside world: In the last five years up to 100 media publications, including 41 daily newspapers, have been closed by Iran's hardline judiciary. Yet today, with tens of thousands of Iranian weblogs there is an alternative media that for the moment defies control and supervision of speech by authoritarian rule. ... While for some blogging allows them to revel in the forbidden, for others it's a way of organising action and spreading the word. As RSF's 2004 Internet...

January 5, 2005

UN To Visit Iranian Military Site

The IAEA announced that the UN will inspect an Iranian military site that the US believes was used for nuclear weaponization activities: The inspection will be part of the U.N. investigation into allegations Iran has carried out work linked to nuclear 'weaponization,' the process of testing or assembling a warhead and attaching it to a delivery system. ... According to globalsecurity.org, a Web Site run by a private Washington-based research group, the massive Parchin complex, around 30 km (19 miles) south of Tehran, is the center of Iran's munitions industry. Officials from the United States and several other countries said in September that Parchin may be a site where Iran was testing explosives that would be appropriate for an atom bomb. Although ElBaradei played down the U.S. allegations at the time, agency inspectors asked Tehran to visit the site. They want to take environmental samples to rule out the possibility...

January 13, 2005

The Mystery Summons Of The Mullahcracy

In a move that raises fears for her safety, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has been ordered to appear before Iranian judges without any explanation of cause: Ms Ebadi, a lawyer and human rights activist, told the AFP news agency that she had no idea what the specific reason for the summons was. She said she has not yet decided how to respond to the summons, which she has until Sunday to answer. The 57-year-old Ms Ebadi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work on women's and children's rights. "In the summons, it simply says that I must present myself to the court within three days to provide some explanations and that I will be arrested if I refuse," she added. No one misunderstands the intent of that summons. Ebadi won her Nobel for criticism of the Iranian regime and its oppressive rule. The BBC reports...

February 18, 2005

Our Friends, The Russians

Russian president Vladimir Putin has declared that the Iranian mullahs don't want nuclear weapons and plans to help them build the nuclear reactor at Buhsher, according to a Reuters report this morning: Putin's defense of Iran, where Russia is building a nuclear power plant, comes in the face of U.S. concerns that Tehran could be using Russian know-how to covertly build a nuclear weapon. "The latest steps by Iran convince Russia that Iran indeed does not intend to produce nuclear weapons and we will continue to develop relations in all sectors, including peaceful atomic energy," Putin told Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani. "We hope Iran will strictly stick to all agreements with Russia or the international community," Putin said at the start of talks with Rohani at the Kremlin. Bush may need to re-evalute his relationship with Putin after these developments. Putin has increasingly become more autocratic, dismantling key...

March 15, 2005

Iran: Thanks, But We're Still Going Nuclear

The change in direction for US policy towards Iran announced last week in support of European strategy seems to have made little difference in the Iranian position. Iran's foreign minister told reporters this morning that while American offers of incentives could improve relations between Teheran and Washington, the Iranians would not be deterred from exercising their "right" to the nuclear cycle: Iran on Tuesday said economic incentives may help improve foreign relations but won't permanently stop Tehran from pursuing a nuclear program it says is for generating electricity but Washington believes is for weapons. The United States agreed last week to drop opposition to Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization and to allow some sales of spare parts for civilian aircraft as part of a European plan that offers economic incentives for Iran to permanently freeze its nuclear activities. ... "Economic incentives can't replace our rights. Our legitimate rights...

April 10, 2005

How Dare You Call Me Civilized!

In one of the more ludicrous diplomatic stories to emerge from the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Iranian president Mohammed Khatami now denies touching Israeli president Moshe Katsav at the services: Iranian President Mohammad Khatami strongly denied shaking hands and chatting with Israeli President Moshe Katsav at Pope John Paul II's funeral, state-run media reported Saturday. ... These allegations are false like other allegations made by Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with any one from Zionist (Israeli) regime, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khatami as saying. Katsav, who was born in the same Iranian region as Khatami, claims that he shook Khatami's hand and spoke about their home town in Farsi, both men's birth tongue. Katsav says the two men shook hands and wished each other peace. Now, for obvious reasons, Khatami wants to assure Iranians that he remains as anti-Semitic as always...

April 18, 2005

Does Anyone Like Al-Jazeera?

Arabian satellite news service Al-Jazeera has taken an enormous amount of criticism for airing hostage videos, biased news reporting, and fomenting trouble by deliberately broadcasting false or misleading information. And apparently that's just the Iranian mullahcracy's complaints: Iran said Monday some 200 people were arrested in ethnic unrest in its southwest in recent days and closed the offices of the Arab language Al Jazeera television channel, accusing it stirring up trouble. At least one person died after Arab-Iranians went on the rampage in the city of Ahvaz, near the border with Iraq, on Friday and Saturday, smashing and setting fire to police cars, banks and government buildings and clashing with police. Government officials have said the violence in Iran's traditional oil-producing heartland was sparked by a forged letter, supposedly penned by a senior government official, discussing the idea of relocating ethnic Arabs from the area. "Many of those arrested are...

May 16, 2005

Annan To US: Don't Forget Our Impotence

Sometimes the United Nations acts as if it wants to provide do-it-yourself satire for websites like Scrappleface and The Onion. Today's example comes from Kofi Annan himself, who warned the Bush administration that any attempt to hold Iran accountable for its violations of the non-proliferation treaty would run into UN Security Council impotence: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the Bush administration that the Security Council might deadlock if asked to punish Iran for its nuclear program. The United States and Britain have called for Iran to be brought before the Security Council if it carries out threats to resume efforts to make nuclear fuel. The United States and Britain believe the fuel could be used for bombs, while Iran contends that it is to generate power. China and Russia, which have strong economic ties to Iran, might veto any push to sanction Iran, Annan suggested in interviews with USA TODAY....

June 1, 2005

US Stopped Nuclear Material Bound For Iran

Condoleezza Rice revealed in a speech yesterday that a consortium of nations, including the US, stopped nuclear material from reaching Iran as well as other rogue nations over the last nine months. The participating nations of the Proliferation Security Initiative have quietly cooperated on eleven interdictions during that time, at least one of those directly involving Teheran: The U.S. and its allies in a program to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction prevented Iran from obtaining material for its nuclear weapons program within the past nine months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. ``The trans-shipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programs in countries of concern, including Iran'' was blocked as was the transfer of ``equipment used to produce propellant'' to a ``ballistic missile program in another region'' of the world, Rice said. ... Rice gave no details but said that the U.S. and 10 of...

June 6, 2005

Iran Waiting For An Opening?

With the United States holding a WTO membership as a carrot, the Iranians have offered to maintain their delay on uranium enrichment until the end of July, giving the Europeans a few more weeks to reach a deal with them on nuclear non-proliferation: Iran said it will extend its suspension of uranium enrichment until the end of July to give European negotiators time to prepare a proposal it can accept, but Tehran also warned against wasting the opportunity to strike a deal. The announcement Sunday followed Iran's agreement last month to review a European Union proposal for a new round of negotiations in the summer. Tehran's decision injects some breathing space into the international crisis over its nuclear program, at least temporarily. ... Aghamohammadi called on the Europeans to firm up the agreement reached between Iran and the Europeans last November in Paris, which committed Tehran to suspension of enrichment...

June 8, 2005

Iran Faces Soccer Riots After World Cup Win

Reuters reports massive celebrations and rioting in Teheran and elsewhere in Iran after the Islamic Republic's soccer team won a place in the World Cup finals by beating archrival Bahrain earlier today. The blog Regime Change Iran has posted a number of reports by its internal sources that claim the celebrations have transformed into political demonstrations that threaten to topple the mullahcracy, either by accident or design: Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets of the capital Tehran after the match, filling the night air with volleys of firecrackers, whistles and horns. State media reported similar scenes in cities across the country. "Hello victory, hello World Cup. Iran is on its way to Germany," said Mohammad Reza Sadeghi, a shopkeeper in eastern Tehran. Some took the opportunity to flout the Islamic state's strict moral codes. Young men and women danced together in the streets and some women briefly...

June 15, 2005

Iranian Election May Get Even More Ridiculous

No one expects the election in Iran to produce anything other than exactly what the ruling mullahs of the Supreme Council want: a pliant government that will impose the mullah's will on Iranians. To that end, the Guardian Council has weeded out any candidates who threaten to rock the boat by liberalizing the political climate in Iran, picking only those who will remain subservient to the council of mullahs. Now even that facade may be shorn away, as one of the few "reformers" in the election has warned that violence aimed at his supporters may force him to withdraw: The leading reformist candidate in Iran's presidential election has threatened to pull out in protest at violent attacks on his supporters by religious extremists. In an interview with the Guardian, Mostafa Moin also implied a possible link between the assaults and a spate of bombings that has killed 10 people in...

June 20, 2005

Iran Vote Rigged, Reformers Stuck With Rafsansjani

Iranian voters interested in serious reform have found themselves locked out of the presidential election, a suspicious result given the fervor for change among the electorate. The weekend's elections produced two candidates from the slate approved by the Guardian Council -- those candidates with which the mullahs decided they could live -- neither of which hold much hope for reform. As a result, frustrated Iranians ponder a boycott of the runoff, while the former darling of the mullahs warns such an action could result in "totalitarianism": Iran's reformist camp, suffering a devastating defeat in the first round of the presidential elections, is divided over a call to boycott the second round. ... The liberals have an awkward choice on Friday: vote for the pragmatic Rafsanjani or urge a boycott. "Between bad and worse, it's better to select bad," said Morteza Fallah, the managing editor of the reformist Eqbal daily newspaper,...

June 21, 2005

Britain: Rafsanjani No Reformer

Britain issued a warning against trusting Ali Akbar Rafsanjani as a reformist voice, reminding people of Rafsanjani's role in implementing some of the most repressive of the policies of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The unusually harsh diplomatic language comes as Iranian reformist groups debate whether to boycott elections altogether or band together to keep hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from the presidency: The wily cleric, who served as president from 1989 to 1997, has cast himself as a centrist, and has dropped several hints that he was open to dealing with America. But a senior British diplomat dismissed Mr Rafsanjani's reputation as a "pragmatist", and cast doubt over whether he would make it easier to resolve the crisis over Teheran's nuclear programme. "It's important that people do not see Rafsanjani as a white knight. He has been president for eight years, and a lot of bad things happened in those eight years," he...

June 22, 2005

The Four Forbidden Words Of Iranian Elections

George Carlin practically built his career around his famous comedic protest against American broadcast censorship, "Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV". The Iranian Guardian Council, which is not known for its sense of humor, apparently has its own list of dirty words that will get your electoral material destroyed -- words like "democracy" and "freedom": Iranian security officials on Tuesday confiscated more than half a million wallet-size cards and posters endorsing Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for president from a printing house in Tehran, according to employees of the shop. Employees said the posters and cards contained the words "repression," "terrorizing," "freedom" and "democracy." "They said, 'The words you are using are offensive,' " said Mahmmoud Reza Bahmanpour, managing director of Nazar Printing House in downtown Tehran. He and other employees said several plainclothes agents, displaying a handwritten letter bearing the seal of Iran's judiciary, carried away 500,000 wallet-size...

June 24, 2005

Hardliner 'Wins' Iranian Election

Little-known Teheran mayor and hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the run-off for the Iranian presidency in a development that indicates the Guardian Council has had enough of negotiating with the West and appeasing the burgeoning democracy movement in Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran who has invoked Iran's 1979 revolution and expressed doubts about rapprochement with the United States, won a runoff election Friday and was elected president of the Islamic republic in a landslide, the Interior Ministry announced early Saturday. Ahmadinejad defeated Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former two-term president who had won the first round of voting last week and was attempting to appeal to socially moderate and reform-minded voters. ... With 85 percent of votes counted, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, which oversees Iran's electoral process, said returns showed Ahmadinejad leading with 61.8 percent of the vote, to 35.7 for Rafsanjani. Officials said 47 percent...

June 29, 2005

New Iranian President Old Iranian Hostage-Taker

Gateway Pundit, My Pet Jawa, and LGF all have highly interesting documentation -- including a number of photographs -- that appear to indict newly-elected Iranian President as one of the radicals who seized the American embassy in 1979. The photographic evidence is bolstered by a number of sources on the background of president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that put him in the center of the organizations involved in the hostage crisis that destroyed Jimmy Carter's re-election hopes and made the US look weak and toothless. If so, and the evidence looks damning, then one could make the argument that Ahmadinejad helped start the Islamofascist offensive against the United States. These three and others have done excellent blog work in fleshing this story out. However, its impact is really more historic and academic than practical. After all, the government in Teheran now is the same as that which co-opted the hostaging, even if...

July 1, 2005

Dafydd: That Ain't the Half of It

In a blogpost that the Captain slapped up a few days ago -- Oh. Wait, let me introduce myself: this is Dafydd ab Hugh, guest-blogging for Captain Ed while he recuperates from winning $2.8 million in the World Series of Poker finale, playing (as is his wont for FEC reasons) under the name Tuan Le. If someone posts here under the name "Captain Ed" (including the quotation marks) in the next few weeks, it's actually the nom de plume du jour of well-known labor leader and founder of the Socialist Party of America, Eugene Debs. I may be the most well-known blogger in the blogosphere who doesn't actually have a blog (yet; shortly). You may remember me from my high-school filmstrip series "It's All About Adhesives." Getting back to the point at hand, in this post, Captain Ed (the original) noted that evidence is mounting that the recently elected president...

July 31, 2005

Scotsman: Sham Iranian President Heralds Military Junta Against Liberals

In a rare moment for European media, the Scotsman published a powerful article today about the "sham" election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president and the effect it will have on liberating influences on the Islamic Republic. The first fruits of this election, swayed by an increasingly powerful Revolutionary Guard, showed themselves in the execution of political prisoners this week: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the incoming Iranian "elected" president, will assume his post next month, but his presence is already felt in the political circles and on the streets of Tehran. Since his election, under the banner of a renewed Islamic revolution, the clerical regime hanged six people and sentenced another to death in the space of seven days. ... Indeed, the real story of this election is the metamorphosis of the Guards Corps from an ideological army to an omnipresent political/military powerhouse. With Ahmadinejad's win, the IRGC is now able to...

Iran Calls Europe's Hand

The mullahs of Iran moved today to push the nuclear nonproliferation talks into further crisis after a unilateral deadline they set for a European proposal expired. Iran announced that they will once again begin processing uranium ore, a step that likely will bring an end to the EU-3's efforts to reach accommodation with Teheran: Iran has announced it will resume its controversial nuclear programme imminently in the face of a European Union appeal to wait for talks. Officials said they would inform UN nuclear inspectors of the move on Monday and then begin converting raw uranium at a plant in Isfahan. The UK, which is leading EU attempts to negotiate a compromise, said the move would make further talks difficult. In fact, diplomats tell the BBC that offering any new proposals while Iran processes uranium will be pointless, and they expect Europe to defer to the IAEA instead. That will...

August 9, 2005

4000 Centrifuges Later ...

A leading Iranian dissident with well-established ties within the Iranian nuclear program claims that Teheran has built 4,000 centrifuges, far more than the IAEA suspects, making Iranian claims of peaceful motives behind their nuclear power efforts appear less than honest: Iran has manufactured about 4,000 centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to weapons grade, an exiled Iranian dissident who helped uncover nearly two decades of covert nuclear activity in 2002 said Tuesday. Alireza Jafarzadeh told The Associated Press the centrifuges which he said are unknown to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency are ready to be installed at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz. Jafarzadeh, who runs Strategic Policy Consulting, a Washington-based think tank focusing on Iran and Iraq, said the information which he described as "very recent" came from sources within the Tehran regime who have proven accurate in the past. The IAEA only knows of 164 centrifuges...

August 12, 2005

We 'Won' ... Nothing

The Times of London makes a big deal about a favorable ruling yesterday from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which publicly supported the EU-3 in calling for Iran to stop its uranium processing in order to remain in compliance with the non-proliferation pact. Based on the lead, Times readers might believe this to be a significant victory, but the Iranians quickly demonstrated its hollow nature: BRITAIN and its European allies won a diplomatic victory over Iran yesterday when the international community unanimously backed their resolution demanding that Tehran halt work at all its nuclear sites. After three days of intense negotiations, the thirty-five member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supported a text proposed by Britain, France and Germany that expressed serious concern over Irans attempts to restart uranium processing. The resolution called on Iran to halt uranium conversion work at its site near Isfahan, which was...

September 1, 2005

US Pushing For UN Sanctions On Iran

Finally, it appears that the US has run out of patience with the EU-3 and wants to step up the pressure on Teheran to stop its nuclear program. Not only has the US called for the UN Security Council to take action, but we picked up a surprising ally, at least for the moment: The Bush administration is trying to rally other nations to agree to impose U.N. sanctions on Iran to force it to negotiate an end to its nuclear programs. ... Britain, France and Germany, negotiating in behalf of the European Union and with U.S. support, has offered Iran economic incentives to stop converting uranium into fuel that could be used for nuclear weapons. The United States, has offered Iran spare parts for commercial aircraft and a help in becoming a member of the World Trade Organization. But with the talks stalemated, the administration clearly is losing patience....

September 17, 2005

France To Iran: Export Nukes!

Reminding us all once again that the French have strange ideas about partnership and alliances, the Chirac government signaled to the Teheran mullahcracy that they would have no problem with Iran exporting nuclear technology to other Islamic nations: A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday that Paris would not object to Mr. Ahmadinejad's suggestion that Iran share its nuclear energy technology with other Islamic countries, as long as the Iranian program fully adhered to the international treaty against nuclear proliferation. That comment came after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials said the idea of Iran sharing nuclear technology with anyone only underscored the dangers of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Has France gone completely insane? The entire point of non-proliferation is to ensure that nuclear technology does not wind up in the hands of those who would use it for military purposes. Given that most of the Islamic nations...

October 26, 2005

Iran Calls For Terrorism

Iran's new president and nominal head of state has wasted no time in publicly supporting terror. He made an explicit call for attacks on Israel as part of his address to an Islamic forum in Teheran today, calling into question whether the time may have come for stronger measures to eliminate the threat coming from the Islamic Republic's mullahcracy: Irans hard-line president called for Israel to be wiped off the map and said a new wave of Palestinian attacks will destroy the Jewish state, state-run media reported Wednesday. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also denounced attempts to recognize Israel or normalize relations with it. There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world, Ahmadinejad told students Wednesday during a Tehran conference called The World without Zionism. Ahmadinejad wants to touch off yet another intifada, which shows how...

October 28, 2005

Ahmadinejad Responds, 'And The Horse You Rode In On'

Newly-appointed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed no remorse or signs of retreat after making a demand that Israel be "wiped off the map" at an Islamist conference in Teheran earlier this week. Instead, after facing near-universal condemnation even in Arabic countries, Ahmadinejad rejected the criticism as "invalid": Iran's president has defended his widely criticised call for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Attending an anti-Israel rally in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his remarks were "just" - and the criticism did not "have any validity." Last Wednesday's comment provoked world outrage. Israel has called for Iran's expulsion from the United Nations. Egypt said they showed "the weakness of the Iranian government". A Palestinian official also rejected the remarks. In fact, Saeb Erekat said on behalf of the Palestinians that they had already accepted Israel's right to exist and that the extant question should be about adding Palestine to the map....

November 19, 2005

Iranians Admit Getting Blueprint For Nuclear Warhead

It looks like Iran had plans for the top of that new Shahab-3 rocket they have recently tested -- the one that can pitch a warhead over 1200 miles. According to the Guardian (UK), the Iranians now admit they received plans for a nuclear warhead from the AQ Khan network: International suspicion of Iran's nuclear programme heightened yesterday when it was revealed that Tehran had obtained a blueprint showing how to build the core of a nuclear warhead. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told diplomats that his inspectors had recently obtained documents from Tehran showing that the Iranians had been given various instructions on processing uranium hexafluoride gas and casting and enriching uranium. These had been obtained via the black market in nuclear technology headed by the disgraced Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. ... United Nations inspectors had long suspected that the Khan network had helped...

November 27, 2005

What's Iranian For 'Cпасибо'?

The Russians may soon rethink their defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran against the West if this report from the Sunday Telegraph gets confirmed, although it should surprise no one paying any attention to the global war on terror. According to Con Coughlin, the Iranian government has secretly trained Chechen rebels to conduct more effective terror strikes against Russian targets while Moscow continues to argue on Teheran's behalf for their nuclear ambitions: Teams of Chechen fighters are being trained at the Revolutionary Guards' Imam Ali training camp, located close to Tajrish Square in Teheran, according to Western intelligence reports. In addition to receiving training in the latest terror techniques, the Chechen volunteers undergo ideological and political instruction by hardline Iranian mullahs at Qom. ... Moscow has offered a face-saving formula to prevent Iran from being reported to the United Nations Security Council for its failure to co-operate fully with...

November 28, 2005

Ahmadinejad Creating Rifts In Iranian Hard Line

The AP reports that the Guardian Council's fair-haired boy, newly-"elected" President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has created dissension among the ruling elite of Iran. His purges and radical foreign policy has disturbed even the conservatives of the Iranian parliament, who have now denied him his choices for the important position of oil minister three times as a signal to stop operating as a loose cannon. It does not appear that Ahmadinejad will get the message: Iranian moderates say the president has harmed his country by isolating it internationally, and now Ahmadinejad's friends are lining up against him. He suffered a humiliating defeat last week when his choice for oil minister was rejected for a third time, an unprecedented failure for an Iranian president. While parliament is dominated by Ahmadinejad's conservative allies, the president's isolationist stance and his failure to consult on Cabinet appointments have annoyed lawmakers. They warn they will not approve...

December 4, 2005

Bush Softening Stance Towards Iran?

According to the London Telegraph, the American ambassador to Iraq received administration authorization to review border status with the hard-line Iranian government in an attempt to stabilize the long eastern border between Iraq and Iran. Zalmany Khalilzad will also discuss supressing the Iraqi insurgency and stopping the flow of explosives and weapons from the Islamic Republic, which seems as futile as asking Saddam to remove his army from Kuwait was in 1990: The American initiative, a further indication that the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's more moderate diplomacy has replaced the hardline foreign policy of Mr Bush's first term, follows another recent shift of tactics towards Iran. For the first time, America is offering active support to European and Russian officials in their efforts to end the deadlock with Iran over its nuclear programme, after previously adopting a hands-off approach - to the alarm of prominent neo-conservatives who back regime...

December 20, 2005

Dislikes It, He Hates It, He Wants No More Of It

Mahmoud Ahmedinajad has issued a presidential order demanding that bans on Western music, even classical music, get full enforcement in Iran. The hard-liner has decided to follow Ayatollah Khomeini's example and castigate Western music as "intoxicating" and un-Islamic: Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned all Western music from Iran's state radio and TV stations — an eerie reminder of the 1979 Islamic revolution when popular music was outlawed as "un-Islamic" under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. ... [T]he official IRAN Persian daily reported Monday that Ahmadinejad, as head of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, ordered the enactment of an October ruling by the council to ban all Western music, including classical music, on state broadcast outlets. "Blocking indecent and Western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is required," according to a statement on the council's official Web site. Ahmadinejad will have his hands full trying to enforce this ban. The...

December 23, 2005

Profiles In Democratic Courage

The New York Sun reports that Democrats blocked the adoption of a resolution denouncing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his anti-Semitic remaeks and Holocaust denial until a demand for an Iranian plebescite and self-determination free of the Guardian Council had been removed. The objection officially came from Senator Wyden (D-OR), who then told the Senate that, uh, he didn't have a problem with the resolutuion, but that his colleagues did -- who displayed their intestinal fortitude by hiding behind Wyden's skirts: When Mr. Santorum moved to introduce the resolution last Friday, Senator Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, registered an unusual objection. According to the Congressional Record, Mr. Wyden told Mr. Santorum on the Senate floor that he was objecting to the resolution because his Democratic colleagues in the Senate had asked him too. Mr. Wyden did not say who asked him to issue the objection. "While I personally am vehemently...

December 31, 2005

Iran In The Crosshairs?

The German magazine Der Spiegel published a report yesterday that speculates an impending military response to Iranian intransigence on nuclear proliferation, primarily involving the US military. According to the magazine, the US has leaned on Turkey to provide extensive intelligence on Iran in exchange for helping to suppress the PKK in northern Iraq, and will use that intelligence in a series of air strikes on key strategic points in Iran: The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter's past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his...

January 9, 2006

Osama Bin Dyin'?

According to Katherine Jean Lopez, Michael Ledeen (and Dr. Zin), al-Qaeda terror chief Osama bin Laden died three weeks ago from kidney failure and was buried in Iran: It seems clear, however, that there is a greater rapidity of change, accompanied — inevitably — by the passing of the leaders of the old order. This is particularly clear in the Middle East, where seven key figures have been struck down in the past six years: King Hussein of Jordan in February, 1999. King Hassan of Morocco in July of the same year. Syrian dictator Hafez al Assad in June of 2000. Yasser Arafat of the PLO in April, 2004. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in May of last year. Ariel Sharon of Israel was incapacitated by a stroke in early January. And, according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader...

January 14, 2006

Coming To A Head On Iran

The day of reckoning with Teheran comes ever closer, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refuses to stop their nuclear research even when facing the threat of UN sanction: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday painted the United States and other Western nations as bullies with "a medieval view of the world" and insisted his nation has the right to conduct nuclear research. "A few Western states ... have nuclear arsenals, they have chemical weapons. They have microbiological weapons. And every year they establish tens of new nuclear power plants. Now they are criticizing the Iranian nation ... because they think that they are powerful," Ahmadinejad said, apparently referring to the United States and the EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany. Talks between the EU-3 and Iran stalled last year, and Iran on Tuesday resumed research at its Natanz uranium enrichment plant -- an act viewed with suspicion by the United States...

Yes, That's One Solution We Can Endorse

January 15, 2006

Have We Given Up On Iran?

That's what The Scotsman reports, stating that European and American officials have resigned themselves to a nuclear Iran. After a good cop/bad cop approach by the EU and America, neither group believe sanctions will have any affect and Europe will not support military action as an alternative: Officials in London and Washington now privately admit that they must face the painful fact that there is nothing they can do, despite deep suspicions that Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons under cover of researching nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Yesterday a defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would not be deflected from its right to develop nuclear technology by referral to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. ... Publicly, the US and Britain, the two countries that have adopted the most hawkish stance, are pressing for international action to stop Iran. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice...

January 16, 2006

Iran Blinks?

In an apparent reversal of their previous stance, Iran has now welcomed a Russian proposal to enrich Iranian uranium themselves and thus control the fuel cycle, allowing Iran to generate power without creating fissile material for a weapon. The Iranians had rejected an identical Russian overture earlier, arguing that they had a sovereign right to enrich their own uranium: A POTENTIAL breakthrough in the nuclear stand-off with Iran came last night when the Iranian ambassador in Moscow praised a proposal to move Tehran's uranium enrichment programme to Russia. As Britain, the United States, Russia, France and China met in London yesterday to discuss how to handle Iran's illegal nuclear development, the country was facing the growing certainty that it would be referred to the UN Security Council. While China remained resolutely silent on the possibility of sanctions - a move which it has the power to veto - Russia made...

January 19, 2006

EU Starts Pressing For IAEA Referral On Iran

European diplomats, apparently agreeing with Condoleezza Rice's diagnosis on the usefulness of further talks with Iran on nuclear disarmament, have started circulating a draft resolution demanding that the IAEA refer Teheran to the United Nations Security Council for further action: EU powers began circulating a draft resolution on Wednesday for a February 2 meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog asking it to report Iran to the Security Council, but Russia was seeking moves that stopped short of a formal referral. ... The governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency will hold an emergency meeting that day on Iran's nuclear work at the request of European Union powers, an IAEA spokesman said. France, Britain, Germany and the United States are expected to push to have Tehran referred to the U.N. Security Council after it resumed research that could be used for generating electricity or making atomic bombs. But EU foreign...

January 22, 2006

NY Times Talks Pre-Emption Against Iran

In a strange coincidence, right after Senator Hillary Clinton criticized the Bush administration for its lack of unilateral, imperial action against Iran, the New York Times has suddenly developed an interest in the possibility of a pre-emptive attack on the Islamic Republic and its nuclear facilities. David Sanger picks up what Democrats hope to use as the party line against Republicans to prove their national-security mettle: If diplomacy fails, does America have a military option? And what if it doesn't? "It's a kind of nonsense statement to say there is no military solution to this," said W. Patrick Lang, the former head of Middle East intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency. "It may not be a desirable solution, but there is a military solution." Mr. Lang was piercing to the heart of a conundrum the Bush administration recognizes: Iran could become a case study for pre-emptive military action against a...

January 26, 2006

Beware The Iranian Stall Tactic

The Iranians have shown renewed interest in the Russian proposal to enrich their uranium for civilian-power potential, a proposal the Islamic Republic rejected late last year. The New York Times reports that Iranian negotiators now say that the proposal is "positive" and want to explore it further. However, the negotiations will only take place after the next IAEA meeting, in which Iran warned that any action to refer the standoff to the UN will end any consideration of the Russian proposal: Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said here on Wednesday that he welcomed a Russian proposal to defuse the confrontation between Iran and the West over its nuclear programs by establishing a joint venture to enrich uranium in Russia. But he indicated that no agreement had been reached and that significant details remained to be negotiated. "Our attitude to the proposal is positive," Mr. Larijani, the secretary of the...

January 31, 2006

Iran Faces Isolation

Iran suddenly finds itself alone in the diplomatic world as the United States and Europe convinced Russia and China to refer the Iranian IAEA file to the UN Security Council late yesterday. The surprise decision by Iran's two Asian allies effectively isolates the mullahcracy and sets up a March reckoning for potentially crippling economic sanctions: Key powers have agreed to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme at a UN nuclear watchdog board meeting on Thursday. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced the decision after a meeting of the five permanent council members and Germany in London. Talks with Iran earlier in the day failed to produce a breakthrough. President George W Bush earlier said the US and its allies would remain united in their dealings with Iran. The permanent five - the UK, US, France, China and Russia - plus Germany, met in London on...

February 3, 2006

Iran Issues More Threats About Referral

Iran threatened to walk away from a potential deal with Russia that would have supposedly kept Teheran from enriching its own uranium if the EU and the US force the IAEA to refer its case to the UN. However, it does not appear that the latest Iranian gambit will have much play with the IAEA board, which looks to overwhelmingly support the referral: Javad Vaeidi, the deputy head of Iran's National Security Council, said "there will be no way we can continue with the Russian proposal" if the Security Council becomes involved. Mr Vaeidi acknowledged that referral seemed unavoidable, telling reporters: "This is an adopted draft. It means that the US and the EU-3 [Britain, France and Germany] are intending to kill two issues: first to stop diplomacy and second to kill the Russian proposal," he said. Iranian officials are due in Moscow on 16 February for talks on the...

February 4, 2006

Iran Gets Referral To UNSC

Iran got the expected referral to the United Nations Security Council over its intransigence on nuclear power today, with only three of the 35 board members supporting the mullahcracy: The United Nations nuclear watchdog has voted 27 to three to report Iran to the UN Security Council over its resumption of nuclear activities. Teheran immediately reacted to the vote, saying it would curb UN inspections of its nuclear plants and pursue full-scale uranium enrichment. Today's decision by the board of the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) marks a significant step on the road towards possible economic and political sanctions against Iran. But no further action is expected until March, when Mohamed El Baradei, the IAEA chief, delivers a formal report on his inspectors' inquiries in Iran to the Security Council. The delay came at the request of Russia and China, both of whom want to give Iran a few...

Self-Inflicted Sanctions?

Europe may not have the opportunity to impose economic sanctions and isolation on Iran -- because its president has decided to inflict it on his own country instead. Mahmoud Ahmedinjad has decreed the cancellation of all economic contracts in nations where the Prophet cartoons have been published: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the cancellation of economic contracts with countries where the media have carried cartoons of the prophet, the ISNA news agency reported. The report said the hardline president had ordered the creation of an official body to respond to the cartoons, saying the regime "must revise and cancel economic contracts with the countries that started this repulsive act and those that followed them." ... The list, which already included Denmark, where the 12 caricatures first appeared last year, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, expanded Saturday to take in New Zealand and Poland. The mullahcracy should be proud...

February 12, 2006

Getting Serious With Iran?

According to the London Telegraph, the United States has begun serious planning for a military strike on Iran that will incapacitate its nuclear program. This game-planning appears more serious than just a normal update of security options, and the revelation of the planning will most likely create a further polarization of the mullahcracy from the rest of the diplomatic world: Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb. Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt. They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran...

February 28, 2006

Iran Still Deceives: IAEA

The IAEA report on Iran states that the mullahcracy remains as deceptive as ever about its nuclear program despite the years of negotiations to resolve differences over its intent. They have stonewalled inspectors while ramping up development of its program, a finding that should get the attention of the UNSC next month: Iran has accelerated its nuclear fuel enrichment activities and rejected demands of international inspectors to explain evidence that had raised suspicions of a nuclear weapons program, according to a report by a United Nations agency. That could make it easier for the United States and its European partners to seek punitive action in the Security Council. ... The report laid out a long list of fresh examples in which it said Iran had stonewalled the agency, responding with incomplete and ambiguous answers and refusing repeated requests to turn over documents and information. It called it "regrettable and a...

March 3, 2006

Just How Long Is This Eleventh Hour Anyway?

The BBC reports the failure of "eleventh-hour" negotiations between Iran and the EU to stop nuclear-weapons development in the Islamic Republic, a tiresome description made possible by the inertia in the international community that has delayed any meaningful action against the mullahcracy: Last-minute talks between Iran and EU nations over Tehran's nuclear programme have broken up without agreement. The discussions were called by Iran in a last-ditch bid to avoid possible UN action over its nuclear programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, will decide on Monday if action is needed. ... At Friday's talks, officials from the UK, France and Germany - the so-called EU3 - said they were there to listen to Iran, but they presented no new plans of their own. A letter from the EU3 to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, warned Iran earlier this week that any progress would be...

March 5, 2006

Iran Plays EU For Suckers ... Film At 11

To no one's great surprise, except for the EU, Iran now brags about the wool they pulled over European eyes during the nuclear talks that the EU-3 held with the mullahcracy. The Iranians apparently feel secure enough in their weapons project to tell Muslim clerics just how clever they were: In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani, who headed talks with the so-called EU3 until last year, revealed how Teheran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear programme was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002. He boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake - a key stage in the nuclear fuel process - at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot. "From...

March 8, 2006

Iranians Unhappy About Nuclear Standoff

The Washington Post runs an interesting story about the unease felt by many Iranians about their government's increasingly confrontational stance with the world regarding its pursuit of nuclear technology. Iranian civilians question the wisdom of inflaming world opinion against them and potentially working their way into economic sanctions that will only make their lives even more difficult: Iranians are expressing unease about the international showdown over their country's nuclear program, as broad public support for atomic power is tempered by growing misgivings about the cost. ... The misgivings emerge as the International Atomic Energy Agency, meeting this week in Vienna, considers reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council for defying demands to suspend specific nuclear activities. The council could impose sanctions or otherwise penalize the government and, in the process, further isolate Iranians already feeling the chill of international disfavor. "One thing is obvious: If more foreigners come to this...

March 9, 2006

Iranian Plutonium Development Started In 1990s

All Things Beautiful points readers to a Ha'aretz report on the Iranian nuclear program that shows Iran has not only used the ostensible effort for domestic nuclear power as a front for its weapons program, but that the Iranians have been developing this weapons program for longer than first thought. Western experts have studied the plutonium that it found during the IAEA inspections and determined that the enrichment occurred years earlier than first thought: In concurrence with growing diplomatic tension over Iran's nuclear program, on Thursday it emerged that intelligence services in the West are convinced that Iran is taking covert means to develop nuclear weapons, in addition to the nuclear program under the partial supervision of the IAEA. Russian intelligence is believed to agree with this assessment. According to the IAEA interim report from late February, a document was found that alludes to Iranian attempts to create the components...

March 12, 2006

Iran Turns Down Russian Enrichment

So much for the Russian initiative in the Iranian crisis. This morning, the Iranian Foreign Ministry declared that the Russian compromise to avert a Security Council showdown was no longer under consideration, delivering a slap in the face to Vladimir Putin and the naive Westerners who thought Iranian consideration of it sincere: Iran said Sunday it had ruled out a proposal to move its uranium enrichment program to Russia, further complicating the international dispute over the country's nuclear program. Russia has sought to persuade Iran to move its enrichment program to Russian territory to allow closer international monitoring. The U.S. and the European Union had backed the idea as a way to ensure Iran would not misuse the process to make nuclear weapons. Iran had insisted that the plan was negotiable and reached basic agreement with Moscow, but details were never worked out. "The Russian proposal is not on our...

March 15, 2006

Western Firmness Undermining Ahmadinejad?

The New York Times reports that the hard line espoused by George Bush and the West against Iran may have caused a significant rift in Iranian domestic politics, undermining the hyperbolic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the clerics that installed him as president. The Iranians apparently did not expect to see a unified opposition to their attempt to build nuclear weapons and have been most disturbed by a lack of Russian diplomatic support: Just weeks ago, the Iranian government's combative approach toward building a nuclear program produced rare public displays of unity here. Now, while the top leaders remain resolute in their course, cracks are opening both inside and outside the circles of power over the issue. ... One senior Iranian official, who asked to remain anonymous because of the delicate nature of the issue, said: "I tell you, if what they were doing was working, we would say, 'Good.' " But,...

March 18, 2006

Russia Says 'Nyet' To Quick Action On Iran

Russia announced yesterday that it opposes any fast-tracking of the progress reporting on Iranian nuclear ambitions at the UN Security Council, joking that an expedited progress would only get expedited bombing. The other permanent members want the report in two weeks so that negotiations on the best way to stop the nuclear progression of Teheran can begin in earnest, but Russia and China prefer to wait: Russia's U.N. ambassador on Friday rejected proposals for the U.N. Security Council to demand a quick progress report on Iran's suspect nuclear program, saying — only half in jest — that fast action could lead to the bombing of Iran by June. ... A key sticking point for Russia is a proposal asking Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to deliver a progress report in two weeks on Iran's progress toward clearing up suspicions about its nuclear program. Russia and...

March 22, 2006

Britain Hardening Its Line On Iran

The UK has decided that military action will be necessary to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons and has now calculated its foreign policy to prepare a diplomatic and legal case for that option, the London Times reports today. It reveals a letter in which British diplomats plan to win Russian and Chinese support for a Security Council resolution demanding an end to Iranian nuclear efforts, which will allow for military response if not heeded: BRITAIN is pressing for a United Nations resolution that would open the way for punitive sanctions and even the use of force if Iran were to refuse to halt its controversial nuclear programme. In a confidential letter obtained by The Times, a leading British diplomat outlines a strategy for winning Russian and Chinese support by early summer for a so-called Chapter VII resolution demanding that Iran cease its nuclear activities. If the Government in Tehran...

March 29, 2006

Guess Who's Back In Business With The Thugocracy?

Germany has opened an investigation into six companies that may have supplied Iran with technology vital to the mullahcracy's development of nuclear arms, the New York Times reports today. They're apparently not alone, as the Germans state that Russian companies acted as intermediaries for the transactions: German prosecutors are investigating whether six German companies sold electronic equipment to a clandestine procurement network established to supply Iran with equipment for its nuclear development program. A prosecutor in the state of Brandenberg, Benedikt Welfens, told German television on Monday that several million dollars' worth of equipment that could be used for a nuclear program had been shipped from Germany to Iran, via a Russian company that operated in Berlin in 2003 and 2004. "Its main business is the supply of Iran's nuclear program," Mr. Welfens said on the ARD television network. He said the parts included special cables, pumps and transformers, worth...

UN Gives Iran 30 Days, But Then What?

The UN Security Council finally agreed on a resolution demanding that Iran halt its uranium-enrichment program and sent it to the Islamic republic late today. The UNSC demand gives Iran thirty days to cease its program and return to the terms of the NPT, but the document carries no legal standing and fails to communicate any consequences for defiance: The U.N. Security Council demanded Wednesday that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, the first time the powerful body has directly urged Tehran to clear up suspicions that it is seeking nuclear weapons. ... Diplomats portrayed the statement, which is not legally binding, as a first, modest step toward compelling Iran to make clear that its program is for peaceful purposes. The Security Council could eventually impose economic sanctions, though Russia and China say they oppose such tough measures. The UNSC adopted the resolution by consensus, but the only agreement that the 15...

March 31, 2006

Iranians Celebrate MIRV Or A Suicidal Tendency, Take Your Pick

The Iranian government announced today that it had successfully test-fired a missile capable of both evading radar and hitting multiple, independent targets, suggesting for the first time that the Islamic Republic has developed a MIRV system capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads throughout the region: Iran's military said Friday it successfully test-fired a missile not detectable by radar that can use multiple warheads to hit several targets simultaneously, a development that raised concerns in the United States and Israel. The Fajr-3, which means "victory" in Farsi, can reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East, Iranian state media indicated. The announcement of the test-firing is likely to stoke regional tensions and feed suspicion about Tehran's military intentions and nuclear ambitions. ... Andy Oppenheimer, a weapons expert at Jane's Information Group, said the missile test could be an indication that Iran has MIRV capability. MIRV refers to multiple independently targetable...

April 2, 2006

Terrorists Terrorize When Attacked, Film At 11

The Washington Post wants to sound a cautionary note in their front-page report on the consequences of military action against Iran. Dana Priest writes that any attempt to eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity through military strikes would result in an eruption of terrorist attacks against Western assets, especially American and Israeli: As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide. Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said. ... The Iranian government views the Islamic Jihad, the name of Hezbollah's terrorist organization, "as an extension of...

April 3, 2006

Iranians Test Yet Another Missile, Or So They Claim

The Iranians either want to escalate their bluffs on military capability or they have some extraordinary timing on R&D. Teheran announced the test of another missile within a week of what they claim to have been a successful test of a multiple-target Fajr-3 missile, only this weapon aims at naval forces: Iran said Sunday that it had test-fired what it described as a sonar-evading underwater missile just two days after it announced that it had fired a new missile that could carry multiple warheads and evade radar systems. The new missile is among the world's fastest and can outpace an enemy warship, Gen. Ali Fadavi of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards told state television. General Fadavi said only one other country, Russia, had a missile that moved underwater as fast as the Iranian one, which he said had a speed of about 225 miles per hour. State television showed what...

Iranian Kurds Take On Teheran

The Kurds of Iraq have enjoyed their taste of freedom so much that they wish to extend it to their cousins across the border. The Washington Times reports on the efforts of a secular, Western-sympathetic band of insurgents that have targeted the Iranian military in a region of the Islamic Republic that has four million Kurds living under the mullahcracy's thumb: A little-known organization based in the mountains of Iraq's Kurdish north is emerging as a serious threat to the Iranian government, staging cross-border attacks and claiming tens of thousands of supporters among Iran's 4 million Kurds. The Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, better known by the local acronym PEJAK or PJAK, claims to have killed 24 Iranian soldiers in three raids against army bases last month, all staged in retaliation for the killing of 10 Iranian Kurds during a peaceful demonstration in the city of Maku. Three...

April 5, 2006

What's Next? Stealth Tanks?

It appears that imagination has run wild in the Iranian mullahcracy the past couple of weeks. The Iranians have announced successful tests, unverified by outside sources, of a stealth MIRV platform and a sonar-evading underwater missile that travels so fast that the cavitation alone would make it easily identified. Now Teheran announced that they have also successfully tested a stealth 'flying boat', which they insist cannot be detected by radar: Iran said Tuesday it had tested what it called a "super-modern flying boat" capable of evading radar. State TV showed a brief clip of the boat's launch. "Due to its advanced design, no radar at sea or in the air can detect it. It can lift out of the water," the television said. It said the boat was "all Iranian-made and can launch missiles with precise targeting while moving." On Monday Iran said it tested a second new radar-avoiding missile...

April 11, 2006

Iran Throws A Party

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threw a party in Teheran today, complete with tribal dancers, musicians, and party streamers to announce that Iranian researchers had succeeded in enriching uranium -- the first step towards nuclear energy and nuclear weapons: Iran has succeeded in enriching uranium to new levels, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, proclaiming a technical breakthrough that advances both the country's nuclear program and the international controversy surrounding it. "I'm announcing officially that Iran has now joined the countries that have nuclear technology," Ahmadinejad said in a carefully staged presentation televised live across Iran. "This is a very historic moment, and it's because of the Iranian people and their belief. And this is the start of the progress of this country." Standing before a sweeping backdrop featuring doves around an Iranian flag, Ahmadinejad said the country was moving toward enriching uranium on an industrial scale to supply nuclear fuel...

Saudis Run To Russians To Protect Teheran

Khaleej Times reports that the Saudis sent Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador in Washington, to Moscow on a mission to enlist Russian opposition to any American action against the Iranian mullahcracy. Prince Bandar asked the Russians to block any further UNSC action that might give the US a basis for military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites (via Memeorandum): Saudi Arabia, fearing that US military action against Iran would wreak further havoc in the region, has asked Russia to block any bid by Washington to secure UN cover for an attack, a Russian diplomat said on Tuesday. During a visit to Moscow last week, the head of the Saudi National Security Council “urged Russia to strive to prevent the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution which the United States could use as justification to launch a military assault to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities,” the diplomat told...

April 12, 2006

Did Ahmadinejad Strengthen The Hawks?

The Guardian reacted with trepidation at the news of Iranian enrichment of uranium, not for its implications in the Middle East as much as for its political implications in the US. The leftist British daily predicts that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's triumphalism will bolster the hawks in American politics who favor a military solution, if for no other reason than to underscore Iran's need to end their nuclear program before our bombs fall: The Security Council had been waiting for a UN report at the end of the month on Iran's nuclear intentions, before deciding on further measures. But after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's triumphal announcement yesterday - accompanied by chants of "Death to America", "Death to Israel" and "Death to Counter-Revolutionaries" - some UN members were drawing their own conclusions. Not for the first time, US diplomats found themselves grateful that President Ahmadinejad had made the work of persuading other UN members of...

The 54,000-Centrifuge Question

When will Iran have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon? Some experts have said that Iran is a decade or more away from a viable nuclear device, and with only a 164-centrifuge cascade available, that might appear reasonable. However, Iran announced yesterday that it would soon expand its cascade to 3,000 centrifuges at its Natanz facility, and today said that it would expand its program to 54,000 centrifuges: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran for the first time had succeeded on a small scale in enriching uranium, a key step in generating fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb. The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop all enrichment activity because of suspicions the program's aim is to make weapons. Iran's small-scale enrichment used 164 centrifuges, which spin uranium gas to increase its proportion of the isotope needed for the nuclear fission at the...

April 13, 2006

UN And EU Continue Dithering

In the wake of the announcements from Iran of its success in uranium enrichment and its plan to immediately expand its cascade to 3,000 centrifuges, one might expect the United Nations Security Council to speak out strongly against Iran's intransigence and defiance of its unanimous resolution. One might also expect Europe to react to the humiliation Iran delivered to its diplomatic corps, which had worked for years to reach a negotiated solution on non-proliferation with the mullahcracy. Well, if one expected those actions, one would have to live with disappointment: Leading countries on the U.N. Security Council expressed dismay Wednesday over Tehran's announcement that it had produced enriched uranium, although there was little sign of consensus among them on how to respond. ... Russia and China, also key members of the council, struck a more equivocal tone, raising concerns about Iran's actions but also warning against any precipitous international action....

April 16, 2006

Factionalism Undermining Iranian Government

The London Telegraph notes the unrest among Iranian minority groups and the tactics that the hard-line Teheran government have taken to address it. James Brandon and Colin Freeman report that the messianic Ahmadinejad approach has further alienated the diverse populace of Iran, and the decades-old imposition of shari'a has resulted in a growing rebellion that could undermine the mullahcracy: "The Iranian government's plan to create a global Islamic state is destroying our people's culture and -values," said Akif Zagros, 28, a Persian literature graduate who serves on Pejak's seven-strong ruling council. "But we want all nations to be democratic, to live together and learn from each other." Pejak, the Party for Freedom and Life in Kurdistan, is fast becoming a threat to Teheran. The group, founded in 1998, claims to have hundreds of thousands of followers among Iran's estimated four million Kurds, and has been denounced as a terrorist organisation...

April 17, 2006

It's Not Going To Be Ten Years

After running an oft-cited article last week that claimed Iran was ten years away from a nuclear weapon, the New York Times shifts course this morning and reports that the Islamic Republic has a few shortcuts up its sleeve. William Broad and David Sanger explain how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to shave significant time off of their development cycle: Of all the claims that Iran made last week about its nuclear program, a one-sentence assertion by its president has provoked such surprise and concern among international nuclear inspectors they are planning to confront Tehran about it this week. The assertion involves Iran's claim that even while it begins to enrich small amounts of uranium, it is pursuing a far more sophisticated way of making atomic fuel that American officials and inspectors say could speed Iran's path to developing a nuclear weapon. Iran has consistently maintained that it abandoned work on this...

April 18, 2006

Lieberman: Iran Strikes A Possibility

Senator Joe Lieberman told the Jerusalem Post in an interview to be released on Friday that he considers military strikes on nuclear sites in Iran a possibility and an option that must remain on the table. David Horovitz reports that the sole member of the Scoop Jackson wing of the Senate says that Congress holds little hope that the UN will do anything to stop Iran's drive for nuclear weapons: The US is probably incapable of completely destroying the Iranian nuclear program, but as a last resort it could attempt to knock out "some of the components" in order to "delay and deter it," Senator Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate and a serving member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has told The Jerusalem Post. Speaking at a time of almost daily declarations from Teheran concerning both progress in the nuclear program and hostility to Israel, Lieberman...

April 19, 2006

UN Chief Blames Iran For Meddling In Lebanon

Kofi Annan has publicly scolded Iran for its financing and involvement with Hezbollah and their interference with the new democratic government of Lebanon. Benny Avni reports for the New York Sun on a rare outing by the UN of Iran's terror network ties and their efforts to undermine secular movements within Southwest Asia: Secretary-General Annan for the first time has accused the mullahs of Iran of interfering in the affairs of the sovereign state Lebanon and asked that they heed the 2004 Security Council resolution urging the country's complete independence. Mr. Annan last night also expressed his deep concern about the actions of Iran's surrogate militia - the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which operates in Lebanon - and its repeated defiance of the council's call for the disarming of all factions in Lebanon. The language of the report, finalized late yesterday afternoon by the secretary-general's envoy in Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, took...

April 20, 2006

Taliban, The Sequel

The hardline government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ratcheted up the pressure on their already-restive population by initiating a crackdown on men and women who do not comport themselves to the strict code of Islam. Iran has authorized police to make arrests when women fail to secure their hijab or men wear unusual hair styles, orders that could result in jail time even for walking a dog in public: Iran's Islamic authorities are preparing a crackdown on women flouting the stringent dress code in the clearest sign yet of social and political repression under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. From today police in Tehran will be under orders to arrest women failing to conform to the regime's definition of Islamic morals by wearing loose-fitting hijab, or headscarves, tight jackets and shortened trousers exposing skin. Offenders could be punished with £30 fines or two months in jail. Officers will also be authorised to confront...

April 22, 2006

Russians Insist On Sale Of Missile System To Iran

Russia will not back away from its planned sale of air-defense missile systems to Iran, the Washington Post reports this morning, as Vladimir Putin continues his march against the West and his determination to restart the Cold War. In response, the US hinted that Russian intransigence on Iran will push the issue away from the United Nations and into a new multilateral coalition that will impose its own response to the Iranian nuclear program: At a news conference in Washington yesterday, the State Department's third-highest-ranking officer, R. Nicholas Burns, said the time has come for countries "to use their leverage with Iran" and halt exports of weapons and nuclear-related technologies. He singled out the sale of 29 Tor-M1 air-defense missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract announced by Russia in December. "We hope and we trust that that deal will not go forward, because this is not time...

Russia And Iran Reach Enrichment Agreement

The Ap reports breaking news that Russia and Iran have reached some sort of agreement on uranium enrichment. However, Iranian TV gave few details about the arrangement: Iran's envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Saturday the Islamic republic had reached a "basic deal" with the Kremlin to form a joint uranium enrichment venture on Russian territory, state-run television reported. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, "spoke of a basic agreement between Iran and Russia to set up a joint uranium enrichment firm on Russian soil," Iranian state television reported. It remained unclear, though, whether Iran would entirely give up enrichment at home, a top demand of the West, or whether the joint venture would complement Iran's existing enrichment program. Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear reactors that generate electricity or to make atomic bombs. "Only issues regarding technical, legal and financial matters...

April 23, 2006

The Terrorist State

According to the London Times, Iran has picked a wanted terrorist to head its defense operations in case of a Western attack on nuclear development sites. Imad Muguniyeh participated in the TWA hijacking in 1985 that resulted in the murder of Navy diver Robert Stethem and has been wanted by the FBI for over 20 years: IRAN’S president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attended a meeting in Syria earlier this year with one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, according to intelligence experts and a former national security official in Washington. US officials and Israel intelligence sources believe Imad Mugniyeh, the Lebanese commander of Hezbollah’s overseas operations, has taken charge of plotting Iran’s retaliation against western targets should President George W Bush order a strike on Iranian nuclear sites. Mugniyeh is on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list for his role in a series of high-profile attacks against the West, including the 1985...

April 25, 2006

Everything The Mullahcracy Needs To Know It Learned In Kindergarten

Iranian supreme leader Ali Khameini proved today that he applies well the lessons of his youth -- especially his inclination to share his toys, even those he does not yet possess. The chief Iranian mullah promised his Sudanese counterpart the bounty of all the scientific progress of the Iranians, a pointed reference to Iran's intent to spread nuclear weapons among Islamist nations: Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday at a meeting here with the Sudanese president that Iran was ready to share its nuclear technology with other countries. "Iran's nuclear capability is one example of various scientific capabilities in the country," the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, the news agency IRNA reported. "The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to transfer the experience, knowledge and technology of its scientists." Mr. Khamenei made his comments just days before the Friday deadline set by the United Nations...

April 28, 2006

IAEA: No Cooperation From Iran

The IAEA decided to bypass diplomatic niceties on the lack of cooperation coming from Iran on their commitments to nuclear non-proliferation in a new and disturbing report to the UN Security Council. The Washington Post reports that the international nuclear watchdog has highlighted new centrifuge development and "information gaps" that prevent the inspectors from knowing the full extent of nuclear research by the mullahcracy: The United Nations' atomic monitoring agency reported Friday that Iran continues to expand its uranium enrichment technology and to hold back information that would allow inspectors to determine whether a covert military nuclear program exists. The report by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran is conducting an enrichment program in defiance of U.N. Security Council demands to halt it. Agency inspectors who visited Iranian sites observed construction of additional centrifuges for expanding uranium enrichment operations, the report said. Agency inspectors found no "undeclared nuclear...

April 30, 2006

Teheran Tries To Turn Back Time

Iran attempted to shift the non-proliferation process into reverse yesterday by proposing that the UNSC drop its review of the IAEA dossier on their uranium enrichment program, even while they insisted the program would continue. The US didn't bite on the Iranian time-machine gambit, and even Russia got blunt in their demand to an end to Teheran's enrichment activities: Iran said on Saturday it would allow United Nations inspectors to resume snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, but only if the dispute again went before the U.N. nuclear monitor. The White House rejected the offer, which apparently came as Iran sought to avoid a full-blown U.N. Security Council debate over sanctions. "Today's statement does not change our position that the Iranian government must give up its nuclear ambitions, nor does it affect our decision to move forward to the United Nations Security Council," White House spokesman Blaine Rethmeier said. Russia,...

May 8, 2006

Dear Satan, How Are You? I Am Fine ...

The news services are abuzz with the announcement from Teheran that Iran will end 25 years of silence between the Islamic Republic and the US. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will write a letter to George Bush in an attempt to ease tensions between the two nations: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is writing to U.S President George W. Bush in an attempt to ease mounting tensions between Tehran and the West, an Iranian official said on Monday. ... Government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said a letter from Ahmadinejad to Bush would be delivered later on Monday to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in the Islamic Republic. "In this letter, he has given an analysis of the current world situation, of the root of existing problems and of new ways of getting out of the current delicate situation in the world," he told a weekly news conference. Ahmadinejad had said earlier...

May 9, 2006

Iran Expert: Ahmadinejad Letter A Defiant Challenge

The German magazine Der Speigel interviewed an expert on Iran regarding the letter from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to George Bush and its purpose. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh tells Der Spiegel that far from an act of potential conciliation, the Iranian president sent the letter as an act of defiance -- and warns that Ahmadinejad is not bluffing in this crisis: SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Wahdat-Hagh, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to US President George W. Bush. In the letter, he once again questions Israel's right to exist, accuses the US of lying about Iraq and insists on his country's right to use nuclear technology. What message is Ahmadinejad trying to communicate? Wahdat-Hagh: The purpose is to show strength. It's Ahmadinejad's way of saying: "We are powerful! You are a cowboy! Islam, though, is the true democracy and your system will collapse." Former Iranian President Khatami used to give interviews to CNN. But...

May 11, 2006

Another Delay On Iran

Condoleezza Rice announced another delay on consideration of the Iranian portfolio by the UN Security Council, with the US agreeing to allow the EU to present another proposal to Iran intended to provide them with positive motivations to drop their nuclear program: The US Secretary of State has said that efforts to pursue a tough UN Security Council resolution on Iran's nuclear programme will be delayed. Condoleezza Rice said European countries would resume diplomatic efforts to persuade Tehran to change its position. ... "We agreed...we would wait for a couple of weeks, while the Europeans design an offer to the Iranians that would make clear that they have a choice that would allow them to have a civil nuclear programme if that is indeed what they want," she said. Speaking on American television, Ms Rice said the EU3 wanted to show Iran that it had two options. It could either...

Ahmadinejad Plays Cat To Media Mouse

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got more headlines tonight by hinting that he would accept indirect negotiations with the United States on the nuclear program pursued by Iran, but only when the US quits issuing threats. The AP reports that the Iranian president also relied on the normal anti-Israeli diatribe when addressing his Indonesian hosts: Iran's president said Thursday he was ready to hold talks over his country's nuclear program, but he warned that efforts to force Tehran to the negotiating table with threats could backfire. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also launched a scathing attack on Israel and told more than 1,000 cheering Muslim students in the Indonesian capital that the West was being hypocritical in pressing Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program. ... Asked what it would take to begin talks to resolve the standoff, Ahmadinejad told the station Iran was "ready to engage in dialogue with anybody." "But if someone points...

May 12, 2006

Weapons-Grade Uranium Found In Iranian Military Site

The IAEA announced preliminary results of tests made on residue found at an Iranian military site that indicates Iran has weapons-grade enriched uranium (also here), not just the low-level enrichment they announced earlier. The report undermines the explanation given earlier by Iran when similar residue was found at a civilian facility: The U.N. atomic agency found traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian site linked to the country's defense ministry, diplomats said Friday, adding to concerns that Tehran was hiding activities aimed at making nuclear arms. The diplomats, who demanded anonymity in exchange for revealing the confidential information, said the findings were preliminary and still had to be confirmed through other lab tests. But they said the density of enrichment appeared to be close to or above the level used to make nuclear warheads. Still, they said, further analysis could show that the traces match others established to have...

May 19, 2006

Teheran To Reimpose The Nuremberg Laws? (Update: Unlikely)

Conflicting reports have clouded the story, but Canada's National Post reported in two different articles that Iran has passed legislation requiring non-Muslims to wear colored ribbons in order to identify infidels in their midst. The law, reminiscent of the notorious Nuremberg laws that forced Jews to wear a yellow Star of David (among other oppressive regulations), will allow Muslims to keep themselves pure by avoiding the touch of an infidel: The law mandates the government to make sure that all Iranians wear "standard Islamic garments" designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions reflected in clothing, and to eliminate "the influence of the infidel" on the way Iranians, especially, the young dress. It also envisages separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public. The new codes would enable Muslims to easily recognize non-Muslims so that...

May 28, 2006

Iran Shifting To War Footing

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made it clear that he sees European opposition to his nuclear program a threat, and returned one in kind. Speaking to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the Iranian president warned Europe that they will "suffer the consequences" if they did not capitulate: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Europe that it should support his country's nuclear program or "suffer the consequences." In an interview to be published in the German Der Spiegel on Sunday, Ahmadinejad also expressed his doubt regarding the Holocaust, saying that even if it had occurred, the Jewish state should have been established in Europe, not in Palestine. The article in DS has not yet been released, but the Jerusalem Post blurb indicates that Iran's president has not yet tired of following the playbook of Adolf Hitler in dealing with the West. Alternating between veiled threats and offers of diplomacy, Ahmadinejad has attempted to split the...

May 30, 2006

Ahmadinejad: Send The Jews Back

The German magazine Der Spiegel has published its interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and it should disturb anyone who reads it fully. The interview reveals Ahmadinejad as a man obsessed with Jews, and one intent on provoking German resentment over its post-war humiliation to split the West on Israel: Ahmadinejad: Look here, my views are quite clear. We are saying that if the Holocaust occurred, then Europe must draw the consequences and that it is not Palestine that should pay the price for it. If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from. I believe that the German people today are also prisoners of the Holocaust. Sixty million people died in the Second World War. World War II was a gigantic crime. We condemn it all. We are against bloodshed, regardless of whether a crime was committed against a Muslim or...

May 31, 2006

Iran Presser Live Blog

Since I am homebound for the moment waiting on home health care to arrive to teach me to perform home IVs on the First Mate, I will watch the press conference called by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that will apparently announce direct talks with Iran on the nuclear-proliferation crisis. 10:04 - Iran represents a direct threat to the security of the US and world, and has accelerated its efforts to enrich uranium. So far, this sounds more like an indictment, not a conciliation. 10:05 - Offering a choice for Iran between a "negative choice" - pursuing nuclear weapons at "great costs". The positive and constructive choice would be to immediately suspend enrichment activities and returning to IAEA-based negotiations. 10:07 - This is just a proposal along the same lines as we have seen before, except with the carrot of direct talks. It's significant, but not earth-shaking. Iran won't agree...

Holocaust Deniers Accuse Rice Of Propagandizing

After their president has spent most of the last few months trying to convince people that the Holocaust never occurred in order to gain support for ejecting the Jews from Israel, the Iranian government described Condoleezza Rice's earlier offer for direct talks in exchange for a cessation in uranium enrichment as "propaganda". The state-run news agency IRNA carried Teheran's initial reaction to Rice's offer within a few hours of her press conference today: The official Iranian news agency said Wednesday the U.S. offer to join in direct talks with Iran about its disputed nuclear program was "a propaganda move." The American proposal, a major policy shift after decades without official public contact between the two countries, was made conditional on Iran agreeing to stop its uranium enrichment activities. "It's evident that the Islamic Republic of Iran only accepts proposals and conditions that meet the interests of the nation and the...

June 1, 2006

A Brief Moment Of Unity On Iran

As I suspected, Condoleezza Rice's offer of direct American participation came as she solidified an agreement with Russia and China on a carrots-and-sticks proposal for Iran which will carry sanctions for a refusal to comply. The acquiescence of the two nations presents a brief, perhaps transitory moment of unity that might give Teheran reason to reconsider its intransigence: The United States, Russia, China and the leading nations of Europe announced agreement tonight on a general formula designed to resolve the nuclear crisis with Iran, but officials declined to specifically describe the package of incentives and punishments before it can be presented to Iran. "I am pleased to say that we have agreed a set of far-reaching proposals as a basis for discussion with Iran," said Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary. "We believe that they offer Iran the chance to reach a negotiated agreement based on cooperation." She said the...

June 3, 2006

Iran Takes The Bait

If the Bush administration used the Condoleezza Rice offer of talks with Iran to seal the deal on sanctions, Iran so far has played directly into their hands. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad confirmed their refusal to stop uranium enrichment -- as required by both the IAEA and the UN Security Council -- as a precondition for direct talks with the US: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday defied pressure from foreign leaders to accept a package of incentives in return for ending all nuclear activities, saying Iran will pursue its legal right to develop a peaceful nuclear program. "Any pressure to deprive our people from their right will not bear any fruit," he was quoted as saying on state-run television. "Their opposition to our program is not because of their concern over the spread of nuclear weapons," he said. "They are worried that Iran would become a model for other independent...

June 4, 2006

Ahmadinejad: I've Got A Secret

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has decided to publicly release the package offered by Western nations for an end to Teheran's uranium-enrichment program. Brushing off a warning from Kofi Annan, Ahmadinejad says he wants his people to remain fully informed of the situation: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that Iran would publish details of the package of incentives and possible penalties prepared by the United States and five other major powers aimed at halting Iran's nuclear program. In a speech in which he warned Iran's critics against "threats and intimidation," Ahmadinejad seemed to sweep aside a request by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to keep the process confidential. Western diplomats had said they were trying to avoid the appearance of threatening Iran by keeping the terms of the package as private as possible, especially the specific penalties Iran might face if it continues to enrich uranium. "We will record the talks...

June 5, 2006

Do They Know Something We Don't?

Iranians have begun exporting their savings into international banks, also buying gold at an accelerated rate, according to the Wshington Times. This panic demonstrates that the Iranians understand the position that Ahmadinejad has placed their nation -- or perhaps it demonstrates something else entirely: Threats of an international financial squeeze stemming from the showdown over Iran's nuclear program have sent Iranians scrambling to get their savings out of the country, or if that won't work, to convert them into gold. An estimated $200 billion has left the country since last year's election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, accompanied by panic buying of gold. The Iranian stock exchange lost an estimated 20 percent of its value even as other bourses in the region rose. "The most tangible effect of the threat of sanctions in the private sector is downsizing," said Farhad Sanadizadeh, a Tehran-based oil and gas consultant who has let...

June 6, 2006

Did Iran Get What It Wants?

The Associated Press reports that Iran has described the Bush offer to end the nuclear-proliferation standoff as "positive", while reports indicating that the US has promised to give Teheran the technology to build a light-water reactor have some worried that we may have given away the prize. Ali Larijani, Iran's nuclear negotiator, changed weeks of contentious Iranian rhetoric by lauding the "positive steps" taken by the Americans, while noting that areas of ambiguity need clearer definition: Iran and the United States had a rare moment of agreement Tuesday, using similar language to describe "positive steps" toward an accord on a package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. Diplomats said the incentives include a previously undisclosed offer of some U.S. nuclear technology on top of European help in building light-water nuclear reactors. Other incentives include allowing Iran to buy spare airplane parts and support for joining the...

June 7, 2006

Germany: Iran Must End Enrichment For Negotiations

The Bush administration got significant international support for his latest diplomatic effort with Iran from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Showing a united front, Merkel told the Iranians that the new package of incentives could be negotiated, but not an end to their enrichment program: The terms of an offer of incentives delivered to Iran to end a dispute over its nuclear program can be negotiated but only if Tehran halts enrichment work first, Germany's chancellor said on Wednesday. "This is an offer to kick off negotiations but there must first be a suspension of (enrichment) activities implemented by Iran," Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters before a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. ... Merkel urged the Iranians to consider the offer seriously, which she said was an opportunity to secure a peaceful resolution to the years-long nuclear standoff with Iran. "I believe that it is a truly...

June 8, 2006

Iranian Enrichment Suspension Not Necessarily Permanent?

The Guardian reports that Western negotiators have told Iran that the uranium enrichment suspension prerequisite to discussions over the package offered by the US only applies during negotiations. Any permanent end to enrichment will come as part of the overall negotiations, according to a report in today's Guardian: In a major western concession, Iran is to be allowed to retain some uranium enrichment activities if it reaches agreement with the US, Russia, Europe, and China on its nuclear programme. Diplomats said yesterday that the terms of a new package of proposed rewards delivered to Tehran on Tuesday by Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, state that Iran must freeze uranium enrichment activities before and during the talks. Once "confidence is restored in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme", it would be allowed to resume enrichment on a scale to be determined. "Those are rights under the nuclear non-proliferation...

June 9, 2006

An Answer From Iran

Iran answered the West regarding the offer of a set of incentives, including more modern nuclear-power generation, for a cessation of uranium enrichment by the Iranian government. The IAEA reported late yesterday that Iran restarted its uranium enrichment on the day it received the offer despite public knowledge of the preconditions for talks: Iran restarted important nuclear activities on the same day this week that six world powers offered it incentives aimed at encouraging the complete suspension of the nuclear work, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Thursday. On Tuesday, Iran restarted the pouring of a raw form of uranium into a set of 164 centrifuge machines to produce enriched uranium, said the I.A.E.A., the nuclear monitoring agency based in Vienna. That same day, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, was in Tehran, where he presented Iranian leaders with an international package of incentives to help resolve...

June 14, 2006

Finishing The Final Solution

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has shown a peculiar obsession with the Holocaust, claiming that it never occurred and that the establishment of Israel therefore has no legitimacy. This claim goes along with many other conspiratorial claims about Jews and their supposedly destructive history, a disturbing characteristic of a national leader seeking nuclear arms and believing in a messianic vision. One might hope that Ahmadinejad's advisors might hold a moderating influence on his anti-Semitic paranoia, but unfortunately they appear to feed his madness. MEMRI has just posted a translation of remarks made by Ahmadinejad's advisor Mohammad Ali Ramin, who both questions the Holocaust and insists that the question will only find an answer in Israel's destruction: On a visit to Gilan University, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s advisor Mohammad Ali Ramin said to a group of students in the town of Rasht, 'Ten years ago, when I brought up the issue of the...

June 15, 2006

Iran Turns East

Facing a showdown with a delicate coalition on the UN Security Council demanding a cessation of its uranium-enrichment program, Iran has decided to do its best to split the East from the West before answering the offer it received this week. The Times of London reports that Iran has opened talks with Russia and China concerning the creation of a diplomatic and military bloc that would oppose the US and the West: MAHMOUD Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, held talks with Chinese and Russian leaders at a summit meeting yesterday to build up a security grouping in opposition to the US and Nato. Mr Ahmadinejad was invited to address a meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), a China-sponsored proto-alliance that aims to strengthen defence links across Central Asia. In an implicit reference to the US and its pressure on Iran to end its nuclear weapons programme, he said that the...

June 18, 2006

Ayatollah's Grandson Wants US To Invade Iran

This apple apparently fell far from the tree. Hossein Khomeini, the grandson of the Ayatollah Khomeini that overthrew the Shah and established the first Islamic Republic in Southwest Asia, wants the US to invade Iran in order to establish a representative democracy to replace the mullahcracy his grandfather established: The grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, the inspiration of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, has broken a three-year silence to back the United States military to overthrow the country's clerical regime. Hossein Khomeini's call is all the more startling as he made it from Qom, the spiritual home of Iran's Shia strand of Islam, during an interview to mark the 17th anniversary of the ayatollah's death. "My grandfather's revolution has devoured its children and has strayed from its course," he told Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language television station. "I lived through the revolution and it called for freedom and democracy - but it has persecuted...

June 21, 2006

August 22nd?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has replied to the joint EU-US demand for a response to their package of incentives and sanctions regarding the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Iranian president informed the West that he would need until August 22nd to review the proposal and to prepare an answer (via It Shines For All): President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran will respond in mid-August to the package of incentives on its nuclear program offered by the West, but President Bush accused Tehran of dragging its feet. "We are studying the proposals. Hopefully, we will present our views about the package by mid-August," Ahmadinejad told a crowd in western Iran in a speech broadcast live on state television. Speaking at an annual U.S.-European Union summit in Vienna, Austria, Bush said that the mid-August timetable "seems like an awfully long time" to wait for an answer. The long review time request did...

July 8, 2006

Bush Tries Economic Leverage With Putin

George Bush has decided to create the necessary economic leverage to generate international consensus on Iran. The White House has concluded a deal on nuclear power for Russia predicated on Russian commitments to remain firm on Iran's nuclear ambitions: President Bush will pursue a nuclear cooperation agreement when he meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin next week during a summit of industrialized nations in St. Petersburg, the White House said Saturday. But any agreement would be conditioned on Russia helping to pressure Iran to give up its alleged desire to develop nuclear weapons, said Frederick Jones, spokesman for Bush's National Security Council. "We have made clear to the Russians that for an agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation to go forward, we will need Russia's active cooperation in blocking Iran's attempt to obtain nuclear weapons," Jones said. This issue has percolated between Washington and Moscow since the 1990s, when the Clinton administration...

July 12, 2006

Iranian Nuclear Crisis To Go To Security Council

The main powers of the UN Security Council have decided that the standoff over Iran's nuclear program should proceed to the UNSC for a resolution. Speaking for all five permanent members of the UNSC as well as the EU, the French Foreign Minister told the press that the Iranians had not taken negotiations seriously: World powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran back to the United Nation's Security Council for possible punishment, saying the clerical regime has given no sign it means to negotiate seriously over its disputed nuclear program. The United States and other permanent members of the powerful U.N. body said Iran has had long enough to say whether it will meet the world's terms to open bargaining that would give Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for giving up suspicious activities. "The Iranians have given no indication at all that they are ready to engage seriously on...

July 16, 2006

Iran Blinks

Apparently yesterday's vote in the UN Security Council made an impression on Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government has agreed to negotiate with the West on the basis of the incentive package proposed earlier and for which Condoleezza Rice wanted an answer last Wednesday: Iran said Sunday that Western incentives to halt its nuclear program were an "acceptable basis" for talks, and it is ready for detailed negotiations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded that Iran should talk directly to negotiators if it wants to discuss the six-nation proposal. Frustrated world powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment, saying Tehran had given no sign it would bargain in earnest over its nuclear ambitions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that, "We consider this package an appropriate basis, an acceptable basis (for talks). ... We can achieve acceptable results in this path[.]"...

July 29, 2006

Iranians Don't Take The UN Resolution Seriously

Yesterday the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding that Iran comply with a previous UNSC resolution to stop enriching uranium while talks proceed on the nuclear crisis. The consequences of the new resolution were indeed dire -- the UNSC might actually ... really ... pass another resolution: The five permanent members of the UN Security Council reached a deal yesterday on a resolution that would give Iran until the end of next month to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of sanctions. The latest draft is weaker than an initial proposal from Britain, France and Germany, with US backing. Although the earlier version would have made the threat of sanctions immediate if Iran did not comply, the new draft would essentially give Iran another chance to come around. That was a victory for Russia and China, arguing that the resolution was not an ultimatum but a new...

August 5, 2006

Iran Tried To Get Uranium From Tanzania

The London Times reports that the Iranians bought uranium from Tanzania and attempted to smuggle it into the country, disguised as another non-radioactive commodity. However, as a UN report indicates, Tanzanian customs officials discovered the ruse and stopped the transport: IRAN is seeking to import large consignments of bomb-making uranium from the African mining area that produced the Hiroshima bomb, an investigation has revealed. A United Nations report, dated July 18, said there was “no doubt” that a huge shipment of smuggled uranium 238, uncovered by customs officials in Tanzania, was transported from the Lubumbashi mines in the Congo. Tanzanian customs officials told The Sunday Times it was destined for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, and was stopped on October 22 last year during a routine check. The disclosure will heighten western fears about the extent of Iran’s presumed nuclear weapons programme and the strategic implications of Iran’s continuing...

August 7, 2006

Iran Threatens To Sanction Themselves Again

With the UN pressing Iran for an answer to its incentive package in return for their surrender of their nuclear-weapons program, Iran threatened to use the "oil weapon" if the world applies sanctions to the Islamic Republic. However, as the London Times points out, that move alone would effectively be a self-imposed sanctions regime: IRAN yesterday rejected a United Nations demand that it halt uranium enrichment work, vowing instead to expand its controversial nuclear programme and threatening to block oil exports to the West if sanctions are imposed. In a blunt response to international concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Ali Larijani, the chief negotiator on atomic issues, said that Tehran was ready for a showdown with world powers when the matter was taken up by the UN Security Council this month. “We will expand nuclear technology at whatever stage it may be necessary and all of Iran’s nuclear technology including...

August 9, 2006

Russian Fingerprints On Iranian Nuclear Program

Der Spiegel reports on the assistance given to Iran by the Russians in developing a uranium-enrichment program despite Moscow's public opposition to its development. The introduction of Russian laser technology allows the Iranians to enrich uranium more efficiently and with less energy, moving them that much closer to production of weapons-grade material: Despite claims to the contrary, leaders in Tehran are apparently still pushing forward with research into uranium enrichment with the aid of laser technology. A Russian engineer recently told SPIEGEL that Iran has received help from his countrymen with a program that uses a laser system to divide heavy isotopes. The engineer, who works for an institute near Moscow and helps develop nucleaar reactors, claims that Iranians have since 2004 sought and secured technical aid from Russia for their domestic "laser system for the division of heavy isotopes" program. The laser technique would have important advantages for Iran....

August 13, 2006

It'll Have The Most Interesting Blogroll ...

First, the good news: The blogosphere now has a bona-fide head of state as one of its members. The bad news: it's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I'm serious. He even has RSS feeds, although you'd have to read Farsi to take advantage of them. He even has this soulful picture on the website, appearing to be in deep consideration of ... what? Eradicating Jews? Nuking New York? The taste of pork chops? Hard to say. Readers who click on the small American flag icon get treated to this personal entry: In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate Oh Almighty God, please, we beg you to send us our Guardian- who You have promised us- soon and appoint us as His close companions. During the era that nobility was a prestige and living in a city was perfection, I was born in a poor family in a remote village...

August 16, 2006

Iran Agrees To Discuss Nuclear Halt

If Hezbollah supposed victory served to embolden its sponsors, then perhaps Iran has not received the memo. Reversing its public stance this summer, Iran has agreed to discuss ending its uranium enrichment as the deadline on the West's offer approaches: Iran is ready to discuss the suspension of its uranium enrichment programme as demanded by Western powers, the country's foreign minister has said. Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference that Iran was ready to talk but still regarded any suspension of its programme as "illogical". A package of incentives has been offered to Iran by six world powers in return for a halt to its programme. Tehran has said it will respond to the offer by 22 August. "We are ready to discuss all the issues, including the suspension. There is no logic behind the suspension of Iran's activities. We are ready to explain this to them," Mr Mottaki said....

August 21, 2006

21st Century Iran Sounds Like 1930s Germany

Der Spiegel checks with the Iranian in the street to determine whether the radical nature of the mullahcracy has any support from its citizenry.  The responses sound depressingly familiar -- wan assurances that the hostile rhetoric and fascist statements are just for show:Like most of the people one meets in Tehran, population 15 million, Abash is disarmingly friendly and hospitable. Indeed, even the lawless, lane-less highways are absent of road rage. But next to the highways, one sees evidence of the other Iran -- the Iran that concerns many in the West. On the left, a steady stream of posters passes by depicting Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah thrusting an automatic rifle into the sky. On the right, painted murals flash by glorifying Iran's young martyrs who died in the country's devastating war with Iraq in the 1980s.Arash, though, continues with his proclamations of Iranian good faith. You just have...

August 25, 2006

Iran Tries The 'Support Moderates' Ploy

The Guardian has received a copy of the Iranian response to the West's incentive package from sources inside the Iranian government as part of a warning about a Western refusal to accept it. The Iranians told the Guardian that this proposal represents a temporary victory of Iranian moderates, who will lose all standing if the West rejects it: Details of its response delivered this week to diplomats, disclosed yesterday by two well-connected Iranian political scientists, claimed moderates in Tehran had won an important power struggle and were offering a negotiated settlement of the nuclear row. If the US spurns the Iranian olive branch and forces through sanctions from the UN security council, "the stage will be set for a full-scale international crisis", the response's authors stated. ... The US would have to lift decades-old sanctions against Iran and probably give assurances that it has no policy of regime change towards...

August 26, 2006

Surprise!

Iran has unveiled its surprise and its answer to the Western package of incentives. A heavy-water plant opened in Khondab with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself performing the honors: An Iranian plant that produces heavy water officially went into operation on Saturday, despite U.N. demands that Tehran stop the activity because it can be used to develop a nuclear bomb. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the plant, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes. The announcement comes days before Thursday's U.N. deadline for Iran to stop uranium enrichment — which also can be used to create nuclear weapons — or face economic and political sanctions. Tehran has called the U.N. Security Council resolution "illegal" and said it won't stop enrichment as a precondition to negotiations. The Germans tried using heavy water for its own atomic-weapons program during World War II, and for a solid technical reason: it eliminates the need for uranium enrichment...

August 30, 2006

Carter Trying Private Diplomacy Again?

Former President Jimmy Carter has a long record of involving himself in foreign affairs long after voters revoked his mandate for such activity. His intervention with North Korea forced the Clinton Administration -- which had wanted to take a tough stand against Kim Jong-Il -- to accept the Agreed Framework, which the North Koreans proceeded to violate immediately and continue their progress towards nuclear weapons unhindered. Now it looks like Carter may lend his considerable talent for deadly mischief towards the Iranian nuclear standoff by reaching out to the former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami: For an event that would turn a page in American history, former president Jimmy Carter has agreed in principle to host former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami for talks during his visit to the United States starting this week. ... Iranians made the overture for the meeting, and the Carter Center in Atlanta is working on the...

Let's Form An Emergency Study Commission!

In a further sign that the UN Security Council has little resolve with which to confront Iran over its nuclear program, the British UN ambassador says the body will need another month to get a report from the IAEA in order to translate "NO!" from Iran's Farsi language: The U.N. Security Council will need until mid-September before acting on its threat to punish Iran if Tehran's leaders flout a Thursday deadline to suspend uranium enrichment as is widely expected, Britain's U.N. ambassador said Tuesday. Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry's prediction seemed to rule out the immediate threat of sanctions against Iran if it disregards the council's demands - spelled out in a resolution adopted this month - to suspend enrichment by Thursday. Iran has already said it would reject the deadline. Jones-Parry said that before it can act, the Security Council will need to receive a report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog,...

August 31, 2006

Heavy, Man (Updated!)

Ever since the Iranians opened their new heavy-water production plant in Khondab, analysts have assumed that the mullahcracy intended to turn the facility into a Middle Eastern Los Alamos, where weapons-grade fissile material can be produced for nuclear weapons. However, Teheran's nuclear chief Mohammad Sa'idi tells the Iranian News Channel (IRINN) that the West has misunderstood Iran's intentions. It turns out that Khondab is meant to be the Middle Eastern Lourdes: Interviewer: You just said that in some cases, heavy water can even be used for drinking. Mohammad Sa'idi: Yes. Interviewer: Could you elaborate on this? Mohammad Sa'idi: One of the products of heavy water is depleted deuterium. As you know, in an environment with depleted deuterium, the reception of cancer cells and of the AIDS viruses is disrupted. Since this reception is disrupted, the cells are gradually expelled from the body. Obviously, one glass of depleted deuterium will not...

September 1, 2006

IAEA Finds Highly-Enriched Uranium In Iran

The IAEA report states that inspectors found traces of highly-enriched uranium a year ago in an Iranian nuclear facility. This time, the IAEA analysis states that it did not come from contaminated Pakistani equipment: The global nuclear monitoring agency deepened suspicions on Thursday about Iran’s nuclear program, reporting that inspectors had discovered new traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian facility. Inspectors have found such uranium, which at extreme enrichment levels can fuel bombs, twice in the past. The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that at least some of those samples came from contaminated equipment that Iran had obtained from Pakistan. But in this case, the nuclear fingerprint of the particles did not match the other samples, an official familiar with the inspections said, raising questions about their origin. In a six-page report to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, the agency withheld judgment about where the material...

September 4, 2006

Annan's Humiliating Adventure In Islamaland

Kofi Annan just got the clearest diplomatic humiliation since perhaps Neville Chamberlain, according to the AP. The UN Secretary-General traveled to Iran to ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to please stop issuing provocative Holocaust denials and to suspend uranium enrichment. Ahmadinejad responded with a handshake, a smile, and a newly-scheduled conference of Holocaust deniers: The U.N. chief got little satisfaction Sunday at the close of his trip to Tehran, snubbed by Iran's leader over international demands to stop enriching uranium and ignored in warnings not to incite hatred by questioning the Holocaust. In a provocative move on the final day of Kofi Annan's two-day visit, Iran announced it would host a conference to examine what it called exaggerations about the Holocaust, during which more than 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. ... "On the nuclear issue, the president reaffirmed to me Iran's preparedness and determination to negotiate" a solution to...

September 6, 2006

Iran Purges Its Intellegentsia

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has engaged on a campaign to purge moderates and secular thinkers from its universities. The move comes in contrast to Ahmadinejad's challenge to George Bush for an open and uncensored debate, and shows the real inclinations of the mullahcracy: Iran's hard-line president urged students Tuesday to push for a purge of liberal and secular university teachers, another sign of his determination to strengthen Islamic fundamentalism in the country. With his call echoing the rhetoric of the nation's 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad appears determined to remake Iran by reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued under the republic's late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iran still has strong moderate factions, and since taking office a year ago Ahmadinejad has moved to replace pragmatic veterans in the government and diplomatic corps with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners. His administration also has launched crackdowns on independent journalists, Web sites and bloggers. Speaking...

Iran War Resolution Still Distant Option

The White House and senior Republican leadership in Congress have little enthusiasm for a war resolution at this time targeting Iran, the New York Sun reports this morning. After a suggestion by William Kristol that such a piece of legislation would put more pressure on Teheran to comply with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Bush administration and Congress distanced themselves from any such talk: As Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns prepares for a meeting with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in Berlin tomorrow to discuss imposing tough sanctions on Iran, neither the Bush administration nor some of the most hawkish Republicans in Congress are yet willing to consider military force if those sanctions fail to halt Iran's nuclear program. The idea of putting a war resolution against the Islamic Republic to Congress was floated Monday on Fox News by the editor of the Weekly Standard, William...

September 7, 2006

Even Europeans Recognize Iran's Stall Strategy

A confidential memo between European nations spells out how Iran has manipulated diplomatic maneuvers in order to stall for time to continue its uranium enrichment. The goal, according to this analysis, is to create a rift within the Security Council and a resultant breakdown of Western stamina: Key European nations warn that Iran is trying to weaken international opposition to its contentious nuclear program by stalling on giving a clear response to terms set by six world powers for negotiations, according to a confidential document obtained Thursday. "The Iranian goal obviously is to split the international community," said the document, drawn up by Britain, France and Germany, and made available to The Associated Press ahead of a key meeting of the five U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany. ... Diplomats familiar with the document said it was drawn up by Britain, France and Germany, which are among the six nations...

September 8, 2006

Bibi Says Bush Will Cowboy Up On Iran

Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to New York, hoping to build support in America for a bid to replace Ehud Olmert as Israel's Prime Minister. As part of that effort, he gave a speech last night in which he told the audience that George Bush has just about run out of patience with international diplomacy regarding the Iranian nuclear program: Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of an American tour repositioning himself for a return to the Israeli premiership, told an audience in New York today that President Bush is preparing to ditch the United Nations to take on Iran alone and that American politicians of all parties would do well to stop squabbling about Iraq and join the president in focusing on threat from Tehran. The former prime minister, who leads the right of center Likud Party in opposition to the current government, went on to tell lunch guests of the...

September 11, 2006

Ahmadinejad As Monty Hall

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has decided to play Monty Hall, the Guardian reports. He has offered an eight-week window in which he will refrain from uranium enrichment, a short respite that puts pressure on the West to reach a deal before Teheran opens Door #1: Iran offered to freeze its uranium enrichment programme yesterday for eight weeks in what looked like a successful tactic aimed at delaying consideration of international sanctions. In talks at the weekend in Vienna between Iran's national security chief, Ali Larijani, and the European Union's foreign policy supremo, Javier Solana, Tehran appeared to concede enough to prevent a quick move to sanctions by the UN security council. Washington is pressing for a swift decision on sanctions after Tehran failed to meet the terms of a security council resolution requiring it to freeze its uranium enrichment activities in order to resume negotiations with the west, Russia and China. The...

September 12, 2006

Just Kidding!

Iran apparently has withdrawn its earlier offer to suspend uranium enrichment for an eight-week period to resolve the diplomatic standoff over its nuclear ambitions. They reversed themselves shortly after making the offer: Iran still refuses to suspend nuclear enrichment before the start of talks on its nuclear program - a key demand by the six nations locked in a diplomatic standoff with the Islamic republic, officials said Tuesday. Tehran offered over the weekend to suspend enrichment, which can produce fissile material for nuclear warheads, for up to two months. The willingness to consider such a halt was seen as an important opening. But officials from delegations familiar with the outcome of the weekend's negotiations between Iranian and European negotiators said Tuesday that Iran had also made clear it would not halt enrichment before broader, six-power talks aimed at persuading Iran to agree to a long-term moratorium. They demanded anonymity in...

September 19, 2006

French Retreat On Iranian Suspension

The French, who have remained surprisingly firm on the requirement for uranium-enrichment suspension until now, have retreated on it now. Jacques Chirac now says that Iran would not have to stop its enrichment program to get talks on an incentive package started, but could wait until talks were underway, and that's not even the retreat that matters: In an effort to jump-start formal negotiations between six world powers and Iran over its nuclear program, President Jacques Chirac of France suggested Monday that Iran would not have to freeze major nuclear activities until the talks began. Over the years, Mr. Chirac has consistently taken an extremely hard line against Iran both in public and private. But his remarks in a radio interview could be interpreted as a concession to Iran, whose officials have said they will not suspend their production of enriched uranium as demanded by the United Nations Security Council....

September 22, 2006

Why, Some Of My Best Friends Are Descended From Pigs And Monkeys!

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks that he has been misunderstood. He told the press covering the United Nations that he doesn't hate Jews at all, and that he actually respects them: Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he is not an anti-Semite. "Jews are respected by everyone, by all human beings," he told a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The remarks come months after Mr Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be wiped off the map - and described the Holocaust as "myth". ... "No, I am not anti-Jew," he said. "I respect them very much." Of course! Why, many people openly argue for the destruction of Israel and call the Holocaust a conspiracy theory of Jews to control the world through guilt. Some of his best friends are Hebrew ... or would have been, if his country hadn't chased over half of them out after the 1979...

Columbia Disinvites Ahmadinejad

After his strange speech at the United Nations, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expected to take a brief speaking tour in the US to shore up his image. One of the venues for that effort was Columbia University, which invited the Iranian president to speak at its World Leaders Forum at the request of its dean of international and public affairs, Lisa Anderson. Yesterday, however, Columbia president Lee Bollinger canceled the invitation: In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Mr. Bollinger said he canceled Mr. Ahmadinejad's invitation because he couldn't be certain it would "reflect the academic values that are the hallmark of a University event such as our World Leaders Forum." He told Ms. Anderson that Mr. Ahmadinejad could speak at the school of international and public affairs, just not as a part of the university-wide leader's forum. Ms. Anderson's assistant cited an inability to arrange for proper security as the reason for...

September 26, 2006

The Secret Suspenders

Iran has agreed in principle to suspend its uranium-enrichment program while negotiating with the West over the future of their nuclear program, but there's a new catch. According to the Washington Times, Iran has insisted that the suspension be kept secret: Iran is close to an agreement that would include a suspension of uranium enrichment but wants the deal to include a provision that the temporary halt be kept secret, according to Bush administration officials. ... Many U.S. officials are opposing the agreement as a further concession to Iran, which continues to defy a United Nations' call for a complete halt to uranium enrichment. A Security Council resolution had given Iran until Aug. 31 to stop its enrichment program or face the imposition of international sanctions. Tehran ignored the deadline, but diplomacy has continued. Some in the State Department are supporting the deal, which they view as a step toward...

September 29, 2006

Columbia Dean Abruptly Leaves After Invite Cancellation

The Dean of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University has abruptly left her position after her invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got cancelled by University president Lee Bollinger. Lisa Anderson resigned from her position, and the big question on campus is if Bollinger's intervention caused it or whether the exposure of her politics drove the decision: The big question at Columbia University this week is whether the tensions between President Lee Bollinger and the dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, Lisa Anderson, led Ms. Anderson to step down. The press office at the university confirmed yesterday that the dean, who has come under criticism for siding with anti-Israel factions on campus and for taking a junket to Saudi Arabia paid for by the regime in Riyadh, is leaving the post she has held for 10 years. Professors at SIPA said Ms. Anderson circulated an e-mail message at...

October 2, 2006

Iran Sending Jihadists Into Afghanistan?

The Guardian reports that Western intelligence agencies have discovered a new source of jihadists in Afghanistan, and it comes as a bit of a surprise. The Sunni-based Taliban have apparently received a boost in personnel from the Shi'ites in Iran: Knock-kneed with fear, the young prisoner perched on the edge of his chair in the windowless Afghan intelligence office. Eyes bloodshot and hands trembling, he blurted out his story. Abdullah had reached the end of a pitifully short career as a Taliban fighter. He had been arrested hours earlier, just 10 days after signing up to the insurgency. But the 25-year-old with a soft face and a neat beard had something unusual that aroused the intelligence agents' curiosity. "I come from Iran," he said in a quavering voice, wringing his hands nervously. "They told me the Americans had invaded Afghanistan and I should go and fight jihad. But I was...

New Iran Policy Toughens Sanctions

Condoleezza Rice will have a new tool in her pocket in the showdown with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. The Senate quietly passed a new Iran policy on Saturday, one which President Bush is expected to sign, that allows for sanctions on any business that supports Iran's nuclear or advanced weapons programs. When she travels to Cairo tomorrow, Rice intends on unveiling the implications of the new policy in an attempt to further isolate Teheran: Bolstered by a new sanctions bill against Iran, Secretary of State Rice will press Arab foreign ministers tomorrow in Cairo to instruct banks in the region to cut ties to any entities contributing to Iran's nuclear program, support for terror, or pursuit of advanced conventional weapons. If the gambit in Cairo succeeds, it will boost American efforts to punish Iran for its defiance of international resolutions on its nuclear program. In the last 18 months,...

October 3, 2006

Iranians Offer France For Enrichment

An eleventh-hour offer to resolve the nuclear standoff has come from Iran's negotiators, the Jerusalem Post reports this morning. Picking up on a concept from early in the conflict, the deputy chief of Iran's nuclear agency suggested that another country handle uranium enrichment for Iran, only this time Mohammed Saeedi has proposed the French instead of the Russians: A top Iranian nuclear official proposed Tuesday that France create a consortium to enrich Iran's uranium, in a bid to satisfy the international community's demands for outside oversight of Tehran's nuclear program. "To be able to arrive at a solution, we have just had an idea. We propose that France create a consortium for the production in Iran of enriched uranium," Mohammad Saeedi, deputy chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, told France-Info radio. "That way France, through the companies Eurodif and Areva, could control in a tangible way our enrichment activities," he...

October 4, 2006

Britain Ready For Sanctions On Iran

Britain has decided that the Iranian negotiations have run aground and plan to pursue sanctions. The Guardian reports that Javier Solana's briefing on Iranian intransigence provided the straw that broke the camel's back: The British government signalled yesterday the latest round of negotiations with Iran had failed and that it will begin a push within the next fortnight for targeted UN sanctions against Tehran. ... The British official, talking to journalists in London on condition of anonymity, said Javiar Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, had at the weekend briefed the five permanent members of the security council - the US, Britain, France, China and Russia - plus Germany and reported that Iran had failed to suspend uranium enrichment as the UN had demanded. Mr Solana, on a visit to Finland yesterday, said a telephone call to Ali Larijani, Iran's leading nuclear negotiator, yesterday failed to produce any breakthrough. The...

October 7, 2006

US Deal On Iranian Sanctions?

The US announced yesterday that a deal had been reached with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council to apply sanctions against Iran for their failure to comply with UNSC resolutions demanding a halt to their enrichment program. None of the nations announced any specific steps, but the New York Times reports that they have all agreed in principle to a reversible, phased application that will isolate Iran economically and diplomatically: The United States said it had won agreement on Friday from the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany to seek sanctions against Iran over its refusal to shut down a nuclear enrichment program that could be used to build bombs. While the State Department praised the agreement, which was reached at a one-day meeting here of senior officials from the six nations, American diplomats conceded that there could still be long...

October 8, 2006

A Split In Teheran?

The visit to the US by former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami had approval from the highest levels of government, the London Telegraph reports, and it served a clandestine American purpose. The US contacted Khatami on his trip to carry a message back to Iran's Guardian Council, the real power of the Islamic Republic, in an attempt to manuever around Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The Bush administration made secret overtures to former Iran president Mohammed Khatami during his visit to the United States last month in an attempt to establish a back channel via the ex-leader. American officials made the approach as part of a strategy to isolate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr Khatami's hard-line successor, by using the former president as a conduit to the Iranian people. They also hoped that Mr Khatami would report his conversations to senior members of Iran's theocratic regime who are wary of the current president. Diplomatic sources said...

October 25, 2006

Have Yourself A Murderous Little Quds Day

Iran held its Quds Day celebrations on the last Friday of Ramadan, and last Friday it indulged itself in an orgy of hatred towards Israel and America, demanding the destruction of both. As Steven Stalinsky notes at the New York Sun, the only aspect of Quds Day more astonishing than the day-long hate festival was the utter lack of interest in it by the Western media: It is disturbing when the entire leadership of one nation, along with hundreds of thousands of its citizens, comes out with celebrations and parades every year that call for the annihilation of another country. It is more twisted that no world leaders or international bodies, including the United Nations, have denounced the activities surrounding Quds Day, an Iranian holiday introduced by Ayatollah Khomeini that is marked on the last Friday of Ramadan. ... President Ahmadinejad gave a series of speeches leading up to and...

November 1, 2006

BYOB -- Bring Your Own Burqa

Iran has offered a premium to travel agents to induce Americans to visit the mullahcracy that routinely calls our country the Great Satan. Every American delivered to Iran will gain agents $20 cash: Iran will offer cash incentives to travel agencies to encourage Western tourists to visit the country, giving a premium for Americans, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The Islamic republic's political leadership has been trying to reach out to ordinary Americans to show that a standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions is with the Bush administration -- not U.S. citizens. The latest initiative comes as the United Nations Security Council deliberates a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran for its disputed nuclear program. "Iran's tourism department will pay $20 per person to those who attract European or American tourists to the country," the agency on Tuesday quoted Mohammed Sharif Malakzadeh, deputy head of the department,...

November 2, 2006

Iran Torpedoes Shalit Deal

Iran bribed Hamas and Khaled Mashaal in order to convince them to renege on their agreement to release Gilad Shalit, the London Telegraph reports. Israel accused Teheran of paying Hamas and Mashaal 30 million pounds, and have filed an official complaint at the UN: Israel has accused Iran of scuppering attempts to win the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli corporal captured by Palestinian militants near Gaza, by paying the militant Palestinian Islamic group Hamas £30 million not to agree to a prisoner exchange. Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, said Teheran paid Khaled Meshaal, the hard-line Hamas leader who lives as an exile in Damascus, to ruin any chance of a negotiated settlement to this summer's Gaza crisis. "The Iranians paid him £30 million in order to avert and sabotage an imminent release," the ambassador said in New York. "I informed the Security Council of news that...

November 14, 2006

Iran Politicking For Control Of Al-Qaeda

While Tony Blair signaled a new interest in dialogue with Iran, the mullahcracy has conducted negotiations with al-Qaeda to promote pro-Iranian leadership, the London Telegraph reports. In truth, neither development represents much of a change in policy: With the British and American governments looking for an exit strategy from Iraq, the Prime Minister admitted that they needed Iran's co-operation to prevent the country descending into civil war and to secure an overall Middle East peace settlement. But the revelation that Iran is working hard to establish a closer relationship with bin Laden's fanatics, who provoked the war against terrorism with the attacks on September 11 2001, is likely to undermine severely Downing Street's attempts to effect a rapprochement. Iran is also suspected of arming insurgent groups in southern Iraq – many of which have links to al-Qa'eda – that have been responsible for many of the roadside bomb attacks against...

November 15, 2006

Plutonium Found In Iran, And Everyone's Surprised?

The IAEA found traces of plutonium and enriched uranium in Iran, it stated yesterday, and also noted that the Iranians have not cooperated with nuclear inspectors. And in other breaking news, the sun will rise in the East this morning: New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium — potential material for atomic warheads — have been found in a nuclear waste facility in Iran, a revelation that came Tuesday as the Iranian president boasted his country's nuclear fuel program will soon be completed. Tuesday's IAEA report, prepared for next week's meeting of the agency's 35-nation board, did little to dispel concerns. Beyond detailing the new plutonium and enriched uranium findings at a nuclear waste facility, it also faulted Tehran for lack of cooperation. "The agency will remain unable to make further progress in its efforts to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran" without more cooperation...

November 17, 2006

Iranian Arrest A Harbinger?

The American press hasn't covered this story until now, but British intelligence has detained a former Iranian diplomat on terrorism charges at the request of the US. Newsweek reports that Nosratollah Tajik allegedly attempted to procure night-vision goggles for Hezbollah: The arrest of a former Iranian diplomat in Britain is the latest reminder of complications that could arise if the Bush administration turns to Iran to help solve the escalating violence in Iraq. In a development that so far has received no press coverage in the United States, Nosratollah Tajik, who served as Iranian ambassador to Jordan and has been previously linked to terror attacks in Israel, was arrested by British authorities last month at the request of U.S. Justice Department, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said this week. Two U.S. law-enforcement officials, who asked not to be identified talking about nonpublic matters, confirmed to NEWSWEEK that a sealed indictment...

November 21, 2006

Will Iranian Prostitution Spell The End Of The Mullahcracy?

An article in the Asia Times makes the rather unusual argument that the West has already won the clash of civilizations with Iran and the radical Islamists -- because they have begun selling their women. Spengler argues that nations signal their collapse when they turn their females into sexual commodities (via Instapundit): Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women. The French sold their women to the German occupiers in 1940, and the Germans and Japanese sold their women to the Americans after World War II. The women of the former Soviet Union are still selling themselves in huge numbers. Hundreds of thousands of female Ukrainian "tourists" entered Germany after the then-foreign minister Joschka Fischer loosened visa standards in 1999. That helps explain why Ukraine has the world's fastest rate of population decline. On a smaller scale,...

November 24, 2006

Has Teheran Reconsidered?

Iran has agreed to allow IAEA inspectors to review the operating records of its uranium enrichment program, opening its books in an attempt to show that its program poses no threat to the West. The development might indicate that the Iranians have had more trouble with their nuclear program than first thought: Iran has agreed to crack open the books on its uranium enrichment activities, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Thursday -- a move that could give experts a better grasp of a program the Security Council fears could be misused to produce atomic bombs. The concession appeared timed in hopes of heading off a rejection by the International Atomic Energy Agency of Iran's request for technical help in building its Arak plutonium-producing reactor. Unmoved, the IAEA's 35-nation board denied the aid for at least two years. Tehran's decision to provide access to the operating records of its pilot...

November 29, 2006

The Shorter Ahmadinejad: It's The Joooooooos

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to take a page out of Ronald Reagan's playbook and talk directly to the people of his enemy -- us, the Great Satanettes. In a letter to the "Noble Americans", the Iranian president informs the benighted American electorate that all of our problems have a single source. Guess who that is? Actually, you don't have to guess for long, because Ahmadinejad is somewhat less than subtle in his identification: We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief. ... For 60...

November 30, 2006

Does This Mean War?

Someone at the Pentagon has let the cat out of the bag -- and apparently, it's a Persian. Citing "US officials", ABC News reported earlier today that the US has smoking-gun evidence that Iran has supplied the insurgents in Iraq with sophisticated weaponry used to attack American soldiers: U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006. This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. "There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval," says a senior official. Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence...

December 5, 2006

Dancing Girls Undermine Ahmadinejad?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have more Western tendencies than we first realized. He has come under fire from the radical Islamists he represents for watching a display of dancing girls in the opening ceremonies of the Asian Games: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who flaunts his ideological fervour, has been accused of undermining Iran's Islamic revolution after television footage appeared to show him watching a female song and dance show. The famously austere Mr Ahmadinejad has been criticised by his own allies after attending the lavish opening ceremony of the Asian games in Qatar, a sporting competition involving 13,000 athletes from 39 countries. The ceremony featured Indian and Egyptian dancers and female vocalists. Many were not wearing veils. ... Religious fundamentalists, usually Mr Ahmadinejad's keenest supporters, are asking why he attended a ceremony that violated his own government's strict interpretation of Shia Islam. The Baztab website, considered close to Mohsen Rezaee,...

December 11, 2006

Holocaust Scholars Are Not Welcome In Iran

The Iranian regime hosts its Holocaust denial conference this week, the long-promoted effort of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian president says he wants an unbiased look at the evidence of the Nazi genocide of European Jews during World War II, and he's inviting every nutcase in the Northern Hemisphere to attend the conference. However, one Palestinian has found his invitation withdrawn: An outspoken Palestinian lawyer was hoping to challenge Holocaust deniers during a provocative conference that opens in Iran today. The international gathering will question whether six million Jews were actually slaughtered by the Nazis in the Second World War. But yesterday Khaled Kasab Mahameed learnt from the Iranian Foreign Ministry — which had invited him to speak — that he would not receive a visa. No reason was given. Mr Mahameed suspects that it was because he has an Israeli passport. It may also have been because he has made...

A Rough Start For Mahmoud's Festival Of Ignorance

Pity poor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Here he goes to all the trouble of serving up some prime red meat to the Jew-haters of Islam, and they treat him like ... well, like an ignorant and dangerous dictator. In the opening moments of the Holocaust Festival of Ignorance in Teheran, during which he called the Nazi genocide a "myth", students made it clear that they weren't buying what Mahmoud was shoveling: ran on Monday opened a conference on the Holocaust, saying it would not be an attempt to deny the World War II genocide but merely to discuss it in an unrestricted atmosphere. However, the conference was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Students from a Teheran university cut off Ahmadinejad as he addressed the conference, shouting slurs like "corrupt," "liar," and "death to the...

December 13, 2006

Iranian Provocation

The end of the two-day Holocaust denial convention in Teheran gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad one last opportunity to provoke the Israelis, and he did not allow it to pass unfulfilled. In language that has become too familiar from Iran, Ahmadinejad repeated his assertion that Israel would not long survive: A two-day gathering of Holocaust deniers and white supremacists ended Tuesday with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meeting participants and telling them Israel would not survive long. “The Zionist regime will disappear soon, the same way the Soviet Union disappeared,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, according to ISNA, a government-financed news agency. Thus, “humanity will achieve freedom.” Iran has transformed into quite the Orwellian experience over the last three decades. Humanity will achieve freedom through the annihilation of the Jews -- in favor of radical theocracies that oppress their subjects and spread terrorism throughout the region. The Islamic Republic has become nothing more than a clanging...

December 17, 2006

Maybe They'll Supply Them With Polonium, Too

Russia has announced that it will move forward with plans to supply the Iranians with nuclear fuel for their reactors, despite Iran's refusal to adhere to UN Security Council resolutions demanding an end to uranium enrichment. Following suit, Iran has told visiting diplomats that it plans on transferring its nuclear technology to other nations as soon as it perfects its own processes: RUSSIA is to begin supplying Iran with nuclear fuel early next year despite mounting concern in the West that this could accelerate Tehran’s plans to build a nuclear bomb. Sergei Shmatko, head of Atomstroyexport, Russia’s state nuclear fuel exporter, said last week that preparations to send fuel to Iran would start next month and the first consignment was expected to reach the Islamic republic in early spring. The announcement, at a time when Russia is asserting itself as an energy power, has caused anxiety in western countries which...

December 18, 2006

Dissent In Iran And Its Aftermath

Last week we noted the bravery of Iranian students that challenged Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Holocaust denial at his Festival of Ignorance. This week, the same students have gone on the run, in fear of the Iranian president: Iranian student activists who staged an angry protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week have gone into hiding in fear for their lives after his supporters threatened them with revenge. One student fled after being photographed holding a banner reading, "Fascist president, the polytechnic is not for you", during Mr Ahmadinejad's visit to Tehran's Amir Kabir university. At least three others have gone underground after being seen burning his picture. Vigilantes from the militant Ansar-e Hezbollah group have been searching for them. In a startling contrast to the acclaim Mr Ahmadinejad has received in numerous recent appearances around Iran, he faced chants of "Death to the dictator" as he addressed a gathering...

December 21, 2006

Could Ahmadinejad Be In Serious Trouble?

For a man who came out of near-oblivion to the presidency of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to face serious restlessness among his subjects. Despite having the backing of the hardliners in the Guardian Council who arranged his victory, or perhaps because of that support, Ahmadinejad has become the center of widespread scorn and dissastisfaction among Iranian students, a volatile and powerful force for radical change in the nation. Combined with a humiliating setback in local elections, Ahmadinejad may find himself on the same career path as the Shah: As protests broke out last week at a prestigious university here, cutting short a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Babak Zamanian could only watch from afar. He was on crutches, having been clubbed by supporters of the president and had his foot run over by a motorcycle during a less publicized student demonstration a few days earlier. But the significance of the...

December 22, 2006

But Will He Wait 120 Days?

The UN will finally address the failure of Iran to comply with the UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to its uranium-enrichment activity. The UNSC will pass limited sanctions on Iran, which has pledged to retaliate: The United Nations security council is finally expected to pass a resolution today to impose international sanctions on Iran for the first time since the 1979 revolution, a punitive move that will heighten diplomatic tensions and risks a military confrontation in the Gulf. Iran has threatened immediate retaliation, even though the proposed sanctions have been significantly watered down this week. Tehran's options include withdrawal from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, which would mean Iran would conduct its nuclear programme free from international monitoring, and possible closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the channel for 20% of the world's oil supplies. Western diplomats think that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,...

December 27, 2006

So The Message Got Delivered, Then

Iran has acknowledged that its oil industry has fallen on hard times, and guess who they blame for their troubles? The Great Satan, this time, might not mind: Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh has lamented that the development of Iran's oil industry was suffering from US pressure. "Iran has been under different sanctions for years and many companies have not been able to cooperate with our country for fear of US pressures," Vaziri Hamaneh said, according to the semi-official news agency Fars on Tuesday. "They even do not easily deliver some dual-purpose equipment that we had previously bought. They cause trouble for us under different pretexts," he said. Thanks for confirming the receipt of our messsage, Vaziri! Their own government has made it clear that they see us as an enemy at conferences where attendees were asked by their president to imagine a world without America and Israel. I guess...

December 28, 2006

Iran Pays For Kassam Attacks In Israel

The Iranian proxy terrorist group Hezbollah transfers thousands of dollars for every Kassam rocket attack launched by Palestinian terrorists from Fatah and Islamic Jihad, the Jerusalem Post reports. The scale escalates if the attack kills or wounds Israelis, and the money originates in Iran: According to Israeli intelligence information, Hizbullah is smuggling cash into the Gaza Strip and paying "a number of unknown local splinter groups" for each attack. Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sources said the Islamist organization paid several thousand dollars for each attack, with the amount dependent on the number of Israelis killed or wounded. ... According to the officials, while Islamic Jihad was behind most recent rocket attacks - including the one on Tuesday night that critically wounded 14-year-old Adir Basad in Sderot - several splinter terrorists groups are also involved and have received direct funding from Hizbullah. ... Islamic Jihad gets the money via its...

January 2, 2007

Iran Pays For Kassam Attacks In Israel

Note: This post originally ran during the Christmas holiday, and is being repeated for those who may have missed it. The Iranian proxy terrorist group Hezbollah transfers thousands of dollars for every Kassam rocket attack launched by Palestinian terrorists from Fatah and Islamic Jihad, the Jerusalem Post reports. The scale escalates if the attack kills or wounds Israelis, and the money originates in Iran: According to Israeli intelligence information, Hizbullah is smuggling cash into the Gaza Strip and paying "a number of unknown local splinter groups" for each attack. Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sources said the Islamist organization paid several thousand dollars for each attack, with the amount dependent on the number of Israelis killed or wounded. ... According to the officials, while Islamic Jihad was behind most recent rocket attacks - including the one on Tuesday night that critically wounded 14-year-old Adir Basad in Sderot - several splinter...

January 3, 2007

The Push In The New Direction

Michael Ledeen covered the latest news from Iraq yesterday, which Eli Lake reported for the New York Sun. New intelligence has produced evidence of Iranian support for both the Shia and the Sunni insurgencies, a feat that completely undermines the ISG's notion that Iran has no interest in chaos in Iraq: Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq. The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq. An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups." The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans...

January 4, 2007

Not Just Diplomats After All

When the US announced that they had found and detained high-ranking Iranian intelligence officers in Iraq, working with Shi'ite factions in an attempt to influence the Iraqi government, leading Iraqis protested that the men had received diplomatic invitations to Iraq. The US released the men to the Iraqis, who let them leave the country, and many criticized the US for provoking an international incident for no good reason. Now, however, the BBC reports that the Iranians were indeed spies on a mission to undermine Iraqi self-governance: Five Iranians detained by US forces in Baghdad last month were senior intelligence officers engaged in a covert political mission to influence the Iraqi government, the BBC said. "There were five senior officers in various intelligence organisations... It was a very significant meeting... These people have been collared, relatively speaking, up to no good," one unnamed British official told the broadcaster. US forces detained...

January 12, 2007

Payback From Wayback

So I presume that the Bush administration meant what they said when they rejected the Iraq Study Group's recommendation for diplomacy with Iran. Or perhaps they decided to apply the kind of armed diplomacy that would get Iran's attention yesterday when they raided an Iranian consular office in Irbil and detained six of its employees in a cordon-and-knock operation: American troops backed by attack helicopters and armored vehicles raided an Iranian diplomatic office in the dead of night early Thursday and detained as many as six of the Iranians working inside. The raid was the second surprise seizure of Iranians by the American military in Iraq in recent weeks and came a day after President Bush bluntly warned Iran to quit meddling in Iraqi affairs. There was a tense standoff later in the day between the American soldiers and about 100 Kurdish troops, who surrounded the American armored vehicles for...

January 16, 2007

British Join US In Pressuring Iran

The British Navy has joined the US in bolstering its presence in the Persian Gulf. Although the ships consist of two minehunters in support of a frigate, in reality they are there for communications -- sendind a message to Teheran: Two Royal Navy minehunters have arrived in the Gulf to reinforce a naval frigate on patrol in the area. “We are going after their [Iran’s] networks in Iraq,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the outgoing US Ambassador to Baghdad, said. The aim was to change the behaviour of the Islamic regime in Tehran, he added. ... The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier group entered the Gulf in December. It will be joined by the USS John C. Stennis carrier group. This is the first time since the invasion of Iraq four years ago that the US has deployed two carrier strike groups in the Gulf at one time. In addition, President Bush...

January 17, 2007

French Diplomat Puts An End To Latest Appeasement

Despite the involvement of Iran in both sides of the sectarian strife and their development of nuclear weapons, France's Jacques Chirac decided that Iran could partner with him to settle the troubles in Lebanon -- troubles that Iran has deliberately fomented. He resolved to send his diplomats to Teheran despite the sanctions that the UN had just voted to impose on the mullahcracy. It fell to his chief diplomat, Phillipe Douste-Blazy, to tell Chirac that he needed his head examined: At a time when most world powers have forged a united front against Iran because of its nuclear program, President Jacques Chirac arranged to send his foreign minister to Tehran to talk about a side issue, then abruptly canceled the visit earlier this month in embarrassing failure. Mr. Chirac’s troubles stemmed from his deep desire to help resolve the crisis in Lebanon before his term runs out in May. To...

Have The Saudis Declared Economic War On Iran?

Noticed a drop in prices at the gas pump of late? After approaching or even topping $3 a gallon for gasoline, the prices have steadily fallen in recent weeks; stations here in Minnesota had it at $1.89 per gallon over the weekend. The decline at the pump comes from an unexpected glut in the market, and some OPEC producers had hoped to force a round of production cuts to bolster crude prices. However, Saudi Arabia announced today that it had 3 million bbls/day of spare capacity, and it intends to start using it (via Hot Air): Prices fell in early trading after Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi, said his country has 3 million daily barrels of spare capacity and will push ahead with projects to expand output. Oil futures plunged yesterday after al-Naimi said he saw no need for an emergency OPEC meeting to consider further cuts in output....

January 18, 2007

Want To Bet This Was Richard Armitage? (Update: I Lose!)

The BBC reports that Iran made an offer to the US in 2003 that would have given us everything we demand now, in return for normalized relations and the expulsion of a terrorist group from Iraq. Citing "a senior former official" in the State Department, a classified memo details the Iranian offer that Dick Cheney successfully argued against accepting: Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion. Offers, including making its nuclear programme more transparent, were conditional on the US ending hostility. But Vice-President Dick Cheney's office rejected the plan, the official said. The offers came in a letter, seen by Newsnight, which was unsigned but which the US state department apparently believed to have been approved by the highest authorities. In return for its concessions, Tehran asked Washington to end its hostility, to end sanctions, and to disband...

Task Force 16 Takes On Iranian Influence

In another indication that the Bush administration has more than just one use for the extra troops going to Iraq, US News and World Report has an exclusive on a heretofore clandestine unit tasked with dismantling Iran's web of influence in Baghdad and greater Iraq. Task Force 16, modeled on the group that eventually took out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has operated in Iraq for most of the past year, collecting intelligence and now starting covert operations based on their data: The U.S. military has launched a special operations task force to break up Iranian influence in Iraq, according to U.S. News sources. The special operations mission, known as Task Force 16, was created late last year to target Iranians trafficking arms and training Shiite militia forces. The operation is modeled on Task Force 15, a clandestine cadre of Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force soldiers, and CIA operatives with a mission...

January 24, 2007

North Korea Assistance For Iran?

The Iranians may be getting expert assistance on their nuclear program from North Korea and may have begun preparing a device test with their help, the London Telegraph reports: North Korea is helping Iran to prepare an underground nuclear test similar to the one Pyongyang carried out last year. Under the terms of a new understanding between the two countries, the North Koreans have agreed to share all the data and information they received from their successful test last October with Teheran's nuclear scientists. ... A senior European defence official told The Daily Telegraph that North Korea had invited a team of Iranian nuclear scientists to study the results of last October's underground test to assist Teheran's preparations to conduct its own — possibly by the end of this year. There were unconfirmed reports at the time of the Korean firing that an Iranian team was present. Iranian military advisers...

January 25, 2007

Trouble In The Mohammedan Paradise?

It's difficult to know just how much one should read into reports of internecine squabbles among Iran's ruling class. Journalists often try to paint Iran as a multifactional government when usually the signs of dissent are little more than show, a way for the mullahs to beguile Westerners into thinking that reform from within is possible with just a little more engagement. However, if this report has any truth to it, it may indeed be a sign that the mullahs now realize they made a mistake when they hand-picked the current president: Internal pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to abandon his confrontational policies with the West has intensified after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme spiritual leader, snubbed a request for a meeting on the country's controversial nuclear programme. Iran's president meets regularly with Ayatollah Khamenei, who is regarded as the guardian of the Islamic Revolution, to brief...

January 26, 2007

Getting Serious With Iran In Iraq

The Bush administration has decided to escalate the response to Iranian infiltration in Iraq by ending a "catch and release" program and operating more aggressively against Iranian agents, especially Revolutionary Guard elements. The new rules of engagement include the use of lethal force, and the White House may even consider naming the Iranian Army a terrorist organization for its connections to Hamas and Hezbollah: The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort. For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time. The "catch and release" policy was designed...

January 28, 2007

Iran Loses Its Bearings

The Observer reports that the Iranian nuclear program has more problems than successes, thanks to the imposition of sanctions on vital technology, and that their posturing consists mainly of propaganda. The disconnect between the public pronouncements of progress by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the realities of the failures in the system has the mullahcracy seriously concerned about the effect the international sanctions will have on Iran if they cannot develop the nuclear cycle: Iran's efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology. Iran's uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. The country denies developing weapons, saying its pursuit of uranium enrichment is for energy purposes. ... The detailed descriptions of Iran's...

January 29, 2007

A Delay To Consider A Delay

Earlier this weekend, International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammed ElBaradei suggested that the Iranians and the UN Security Council both take a time-out in order to consider their positions. Given the long delays granted to the Iranians to consider incentive packages from the West in exchange for an end to the pursuit of the Iranian nuclear cycle, the suggestion seems rather ridiculous and utterly pointless. However, leave it to the Iranians to make it seem responsible in comparison: The top nuclear negotiator for Iran said Sunday that his country needed time to review a plan proposed by the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency that called for a delay in imposing Security Council sanctions if the Iranians suspended uranium enrichment. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, proposed the simultaneous time-out plan during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in an effort to end the...

January 30, 2007

Damning Us For Our Success

Ali Ansari has a strange column in today's Guardian regarding Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and US hawks. He wants to argue that Ahmadinejad's presidency is failing and that the economic pressures on the Iranian economy have accelerated his decline. However, he then claims that American hawks may yet save Ahmadinejad and scold us for not propping him up: Ahmadinejad was elected on a platform of anti-corruption and financial transparency, and few appreciated how rapidly he was intoxicated with the prerogatives of his office. He very soon forgot the real help he had received in ensuring his election, basking in the belief that God and the people had put him in power. Ahmadinejad soon had a view for all seasons: uranium enrichment. Of course Iran would pursue this, and what's more, sell it on the open market at knockdown rates. As for interest rates, they were far too high for the ordinary...

January 31, 2007

Did Iran Attack American Troops In Iraq?

CNN reports that American military investigators believe the January 20th attack on a military compound that killed five US soldiers may have either been conducted by Iran or by Iranian-run insurgents. The level of sophistication in the attack, conducted by terrorists in American military uniforms, showed too much sophistication to have originated from one of the native insurgencies: The Pentagon is investigating whether a recent attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives, two officials from separate U.S. government agencies said. "People are looking at it seriously," one of the officials said. That official added the Iranian connection was a leading theory in the investigation into the January 20 attack that killed five soldiers. The second official said: "We believe it's possible the executors of the attack were Iranian or Iranian-trained." Five U.S. soldiers were killed in the sophisticated attack by men wearing...

Deterrence Works On Europe, At Least

I'm not sure if our military buildup in the Persian Gulf has Iranian mullahs looking over their shoulders, but it certainly seems to have spooked the Europeans. The Guardian reports that European political leaders have become more convinced that the Bush administration will resort to air strikes to stop the Iranian nuclear program: Senior European policy-makers are increasingly worried that the US administration will resort to air strikes against Iran to try to destroy its suspect nuclear programme. As transatlantic friction over how to deal with the Iranian impasse intensifies, there are fears in European capitals that the nuclear crisis could come to a head this year because of US frustration with Russian stalling tactics at the UN security council. "The clock is ticking," said one European official. "Military action has come back on to the table more seriously than before. The language in the US has changed." The Americans...

February 1, 2007

Chirac Shrugs At A Nuclear Iran

Jacques Chirac stunned reporters with his nonchalance over the prospect of a nuclear Iran. One or two little bombs didn't make much of an impression on him, he said in an interview with the New York Times and a French newspaper: President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran. The remarks, made in an interview on Monday with The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine, were vastly different from stated French policy and what Mr. Chirac has often said. On Tuesday, Mr. Chirac summoned the same journalists back to Élysée Palace to retract many of his remarks. Mr. Chirac said repeatedly during the second...

February 7, 2007

Iran Not Exactly Denying Accusations

The US has accused Iran of fomenting the Shi'ite insurgencies and supplying materiel and weapons to an even broader range of terrorists in Iraq. Recently, the US has captured five Iranian agents in Irbil as part of the wider rules of engagement for the pacification of Baghdad and Anbar, an action protested by both Iran and Iraq. Newsweek interviewed Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, and asked him to respond to these American accusations, among other topics -- and he didn't exactly deny them: American military officials have accused Iranian agents of supplying technology for "shaped charge" explosives to militants in Iraq. This was an explosive that Hizbullah used in Lebanon. If this was the case it would have become known. I pointed out before, that we suffer if there's insecurity in Iraq. The Islamic Republic of Iran plays a protective role. After the fall of the regime, Iran...

February 10, 2007

Look For The Mullah Label

American officials have begun to get closer to revealing the evidence of Iranian involvement in attacks on US troops in Iraq. Several sources within the Pentagon have talked with reporters about the issue, informing them of the details, including the manufacture of specific weapons found on insurgents. The New York Times leads with the story this morning: The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran. The assertion of an Iranian role in supplying the device to Shiite militias reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies, although officials acknowledge that the picture is not entirely complete. In interviews, civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies provided specific details to support what until now has been a more generally worded claim, in a new National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran is providing “lethal...

February 12, 2007

Iran: Can We Talk?

In a sign that the international sanctions have begun to bite, Iran has softened its tone and reached out to European diplomats for a new round of talks. They're not offering anything but that softer tone as a carrot, however: Facing the prospect of broader international sanctions, Iran's president and national security chief on Sunday offered to resume negotiations over their country's nuclear program and eased up on some of the contentious rhetoric of the past, including threats to destroy Israel. In Munich, Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, briefly met with European diplomats for the first time since talks collapsed in September and said Iran was willing to return to formal discussions. He also said his country had "no intention of aggression against any country," adding that Iran "posed no threat to Israel" in particular, despite past vows from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel "off the map."...

February 19, 2007

Iranian Nuclear Plant Falls Prey To Collection Agency

The Russians have decided to delay their assistance to the Iranians on the construction and operation of the Bushehr reactor that has the West infuriated with both nations. Moscow has not come to its senses about giving radical Islamists the nuclear cycle, however. They're just refusing to work until the Iranians catch up on their bills: Russian officials have warned work on an Iranian nuclear plant may be delayed because Iran is late with payments. ... Under the Bushehr deal, Russia would have started fuel shipments by March, launched the plant in September and begun to generate electricity by November. Russia's Federal Nuclear Power Agency spokesman Sergey Novikov said the "launch schedule definitely could be affected" by the delay in payments. One unnamed Russian official told Associated Press Iran was blaming "technical reasons" for the delay. Iran has not commented officially. Officially, the West dropped its objections to the Bushehr...

February 20, 2007

Five Years Went By Fast

Remember when people kept assuring us that Iran was at least five years from developing the technology to produce a nuclear weapon? Well, time apparently flies, because the IAEA now says that Iran may be as close as six months from producing the fuel for a nuke. Given their earlier access to the AQ Khan network, that could make Iran a nuclear power by the end of summer: Iran could be as little as six months away from being able to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, having mastered the technology since last August, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog warned in an interview published today. However, Mohamed ElBaradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general, stressed that Iran was still years away from developing a nuclear weapon. "The intelligence, the British intelligence, the American intelligence, is saying that Iran is still years, five to 10 years, away...

February 21, 2007

Iran Balks At The End

Iranian negotiators refused to consider the necessary step of suspending their uranium enrichment program, and so the efforts to avoid a negative IAEA report to the UN Security Council have failed. The UNSC will need to decide whether the global community can retain its uncertain unity long enough to escalate the sanctions against Iran: Iran will today be declared in violation of a UN resolution calling for a halt to its enrichment of uranium, after last-minute negotiations in Vienna failed to reach a compromise in the nuclear stand-off. Ari Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, emerged from talks with Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), insisting that Iran had a right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme and warning against any use of force to stop it. ... The gathering crisis over Iran's nuclear programme, however, will become more intense today with the expected publication...

February 25, 2007

'Commanders' Will Quit If We Attack Iran?

The Times of London set the blogosphere abuzz this morning, reporting that six senior commanders at the Pentagon will quit if the US attacks Iran. The Pentagon, claims their source, has no stomach for a war with the Islamic Republic: SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources. Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack. “There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There...

February 27, 2007

Ahmadinejad Gets A Scolding

Remember when people started speculating that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have lost some political ground with his reckless rhetoric and nuclear brinksmanship? Many of us wondered whether it was for real or just a sop to international sensibilities. The veracity seems more clear now, as even the state-run newspapers have begun openly criticizing the Iranian president for his antagonistic approach to the West: Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came under fire from domestic critics yesterday for his uncompromising stance on the nuclear issue as the US and Britain launched a new diplomatic effort to agree harsher UN sanctions they hope will force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment. Mohammad Atrianfar, a respected political commentator, accused the president of using "the language of the bazaar" and said his comments had made it harder for Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise with European diplomats. The president made global headlines at...

February 28, 2007

Meanwhile, Iran Has Its Own Problems

While the US chews over the change in policy regarding engagement with Iran, the Iranians have a burgeoning leadership crisis of their own. With Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini falling more seriously ill, the future leadership of the Islamic Republic seems up for grabs -- and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is not too shy to make his move before an abrupt departure creates chaos: After Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent defiant announcement about installing 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges in Natanz, signs of an emerging leadership crisis in Iran have appeared. They expose the power group of Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guard supporters (usually backed by the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei) and the more "pragmatic," though no less extreme in their final goals, clerical leadership. In a speech on January 8 Khamenei warned against any withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear program by any person or Iranian official in the present or in...

March 4, 2007

Iranian Sleeper Cells Infiltrate The Gulf States

The Iranians have a plan if the West attacks them over their nuclear program, and they will not restrict themselves to military action. The London Telegraph reports that the Iranians have sent sleeper cells throughout the Gulf states -- and elsewhere -- and will activate them for revenge terrorist attacks if attacked themselves: Iran has trained secret networks of agents across the Gulf states to attack Western interests and incite civil unrest in the event of a military strike against its nuclear programme, a former Iranian diplomat has told The Sunday Telegraph. Spies working as teachers, doctors and nurses at Iranian-owned schools and hospitals have formed sleeper cells ready to be "unleashed" at the first sign of any serious threat to Teheran, it is claimed. Trained by Iranian intelligence services, they are also said to be recruiting fellow Shias in the region, whose communities have traditionally been marginalised by the...

March 6, 2007

Where In The World Is Ali Reza Asgari?

The Iranians seem to have misplaced one of their intelligence-service generals. Ali Reza Asgari, last seen in Turkey last month, has not phoned home for the last few weeks, and the Iranians blame the US for his disappearance: The mysterious disappearance of an Iranian general in Turkey in early February has led to speculation he either was kidnapped or defected. Iran has reportedly asked Interpol to investigate the general's disappearance. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted by Iran's news agency today as saying that a foreign ministry official was currently in Turkey to investigate the disappearance and has asked the Turkish government "to inquire into the issue and give explanation on Asgari's whereabouts." One respected analyst with sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard says Gen. Ali Reza Asgari has defected and is now in a European country with his entire family, where he is cooperating with the U.S. Other...

March 8, 2007

The Friends Of Ali Reza Asgari

Iranian intelligence general and former Foreign Ministry official Ali Reza Asgari is among friends, the Washington Post reports, and enjoying the conversation. The Iranians had asked Turkey to help locate Asgari after he disappeared from there in February, but now US officials confirm that "Western intelligence agencies" have been meeting with Asgari and discussing Iran's ties to terrorism: A former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard has left his country and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hezbollah and Iran's ties to the organization, according to a senior U.S. official. Ali Rez Asgari disappeared last month during a visit to Turkey. Iranian officials suggested yesterday that he may have been kidnapped by Israel or the United States. The U.S. official said Asgari is willingly cooperating. He did not divulge Asgari's whereabouts or specify who is questioning him, but made clear that the information...

March 10, 2007

Well, At Least We're Talking ... Right?

People kept insisting that we could solve all of our problems with Iran if we just started talking to each other. Newspapers around the world scolded us for not entering into direct talks, even though our last diplomatic contact with the Islamic Republic came when they sacked our embassy in Teheran and took our staff hostage for 444 days. Talk will bridge all gaps, critics insisted. They should be happy today. We've started talking: In their first direct talks since the Iraq war began, U.S. and Iranian envoys traded harsh words and blamed each other for the country's crisis Saturday at a one-day international conference that some hoped would help end their 27-year diplomatic freeze. ... During the talks, U.S. envoy David Satterfield pointed to his briefcase which he said contained documents proving Iran was arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq. "Your accusations are merely a cover for your failures...

March 11, 2007

The Friends Of Ali Reza Asgari, Part II

The defection of Iranian intelligence officer Ali Reza Asgari did not represent a recent flip of a spy chief as first presumed. The Times of London reports that Asgari worked as a mole for years, passing information to the West, until he could get his family out of Iran and escape: AN Iranian general who defected to the West last month had been spying on Iran since 2003 when he was recruited on an overseas business trip, according to Iranian sources. This weekend Brigadier General Ali Reza Asgari, 63, the former deputy defence minister, is understood to be undergoing debriefing at a Nato base in Germany after he escaped from Iran, followed by his family. A daring getaway via Damascus was organised by western intelligence agencies after it became clear that his cover was about to be blown. Iran’s notorious secret service, the Vavak, is believed to have suspected that...

Iran Economic Decline Accelerates

The Iranians, rich in oil but poor in refining capacity, has imposed a gasoline-rationing program and increased the prices for fuel as a result of its continuing economic collapse. The decline comes in part from increasingly effective international sanctions, but mostly result from the economic lunacy psuhed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to achieve Iranian self-sufficiency: Iranians are bracing themselves for a fresh round of belt tightening after their government voted to impose petrol rationing coupled with sharp rises in the price of fuel. The rationing system will limit Iranians to 22 gallons (100 litres) of petrol a month, two full tanks for a typical family car. It is a direct result of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's adherence to an economic model, based on Iranian self-sufficiency, that has caused housing and other living costs to soar. The basic price of petrol will rise by 25 per cent, but Iranians who need to use...

March 12, 2007

Should Israel Go Public With Its Nukes?

It's a question that Ehud Olmert almost made moot last year, after an inartful public statement referred to Israel's nuclear capabilities, but one with even greater strategic implications now. Should Israel reveal its nuclear weapons capability and spell out the terms for its use -- namely, that a strike on Israel by Iran would get a response in kind? Some apparently believe that a Middle Eastern MAD scenario could cool Iranian ardor for their own nukes: Israel should pursue a strategy of "open nuclear deterrence" towards Iran if international attempts to curtail Teheran's nuclear ambitions fail, a London think tank argues in a report to be released Monday. Openly declaring its nuclear weapons stockpile and laying out the conditions of their use in the event of an Iranian attack is an option worth considering, a report published by the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) stated, "if it is...

March 15, 2007

UNSC Big Six Agree On Increased Sanctions For Iran

The main powers at the UN Security Council have agreed on increased sanctions against Iran for its intransigence on nuclear proliferation. The five permanent members and Germany will vote to expand the penalties that already has Iran's economy near a free-fall, a move that could destabilize Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Ambassadors from six world powers reached agreement in principle on a proposed new package of sanctions against Iran and expect to introduce a resolution to the UN Security Council on Thursday if their governments give a green light, the US ambassador said. Approval by the governments of the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany would be an important first step. The package would still need to be considered by the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council who are elected for two-year terms and have not been part of the negotiations. Nonetheless, an agreement by the five veto-wielding permanent...

March 20, 2007

Russia Drops A Bomb On Iran

Russia has staunchly defended the Iranian efforts to develop nuclear power, even when the IAEA made clear the extent of Teheran's evasions and prevarications in the early stages of the program. They sold the mullahs a turnkey nuclear power plant, unmindful of how the Iranians could use the spent fuel for weapons development. Moscow tried its best to slow down the imposition of a Western-backed sanctions regime at the UN. All of this history makes their latest move an even more surprising and substantial repudiation of the mullahcracy: Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials said. The ultimatum was delivered in Moscow last week by Igor Ivanov, Russia’s Security Council Secretary, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, said...

March 22, 2007

French Oil Execs Arrested For Bribery In Iran

In a move reminiscent of the French involvement with the Oil-For-Food Program at the UN, three top executives of the French oil giant Total found themselves under arrest for bribery. In this case, the three didn't send money to Saddam Hussein for access to Iraqi oil fields, but rather sent millions of dollars under the table to the Iranian mullahcracy: The head of the French oil giant Total SA was detained by police yesterday over suspicions that the company paid millions of dollars in bribes for its operations in an Iranian offshore gas field. Christophe de Margerie, 55, and two directors, were summoned on the orders of Philippe Courroye, a judge who last year placed him under criminal investigation in a case involving Iraq. That concerned the company’s suspected payment of bribes to aquire supplies in the UN Oil-for-Food programme in 1999-2003. Total, France’s biggest public company, said that it...

March 23, 2007

Guess Who's Not Coming To Dinner?

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared last week that he would fly to New York to personally address the UN Security Council before a vote to impose tougher sanctions on Iran for their uranium enrichment. Those travel plans have apparently been cancelled, with the Iranians complaining that the US did not issue visas in time for their trip: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled a trip to New York to address the U.N. Security Council before it votes on whether to impose further sanctions against his country for refusing to stop enriching uranium, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday. The decision came as diplomats from the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia — and Germany held a flurry of last-minute negotiations in New York on a draft resolution seeking to pressure Iran to comply. ... Ahmadinejad said earlier this month that he wanted...

Iran Attacked US Forces In September

While the world wonders about the attack on and abduction of 15 British sailors by Iranian forces earlier this month, US News & World Report published the details of an attack by Iranian forces on Iraqi and American troops last September: As the British government demanded the immediate release of 15 of its sailors whose boats were seized by Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf on Friday, U.S. News has learned that this is not the first showdown that coalition forces have had with the Iranian military. According to a U.S. Army report out of Iraq obtained by U.S. News, American troops, acting as advisers for Iraqi border guards, were recently surrounded and attacked by a larger unit of Iranian soldiers, well within the border of Iraq. The report highlights the details: A platoon of Iranian soldiers on the Iraqi side of the border fired rocket-propelled grenades and used...

March 24, 2007

Iran: Sailors 'Confess'

Iran upped the stakes in their latest bout of brinksmanship today. Teheran announced that the 15 captured British sailors had undergone interrogation, and that at least some of them had "confessed" to violating Iranian waters: An Iranian military official said on Saturday "confessions" and other evidence showed that British naval personnel who were detained in the Gulf had illegally entered Iranian waters. Britain says the 15 sailors and marines were seized Friday in Iraqi waters and have demanded their immediate release. "The investigation, and confessions that we have, shows they have been arrested in Iranian waters," an armed forces commander told state radio, which only gave his last name Afshari. ... Iranian forces seized the British sailors and marines on Friday in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that marks the southern stretch of Iraq's border with Iran, triggering a diplomatic crisis at a time of heightened tension over...

Iran To Violate The Geneva Convention

Iran announced tonight that the 15 British sailors captured off the coast of Iraq would get indicted as spies. A website associated with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that the sailors are "insurgents" and that they would try to prove that the group deliberately entered Iranian waters with the intent to spy on the Islamic Republic: FIFTEEN British sailors and marines arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards off the coast of Iraq may be charged with spying. A website run by associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, reported last night that the Britons would be put before a court and indicted. Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.” The warning followed...

March 26, 2007

American Sanctions Bite Iran

As the UN Security Council voted to incrementally increase the sanctions on Iran this weekend, the efforts by the US to financially blockade Teheran continued to make a large impact on their own. The Bush administration has systematically locked Iran out of the global banking business, eliminating their ability to invest capital into their infrastructure and to fund terrorism: More than 40 major international banks and financial institutions have either cut off or cut back business with the Iranian government or private sector as a result of a quiet campaign launched by the Treasury and State departments last September, according to Treasury and State officials. The financial squeeze has seriously crimped Tehran's ability to finance petroleum industry projects and to pay for imports. It has also limited Iran's use of the international financial system to help fund allies and extremist militias in the Middle East, say U.S. officials and economists...

March 28, 2007

Tony Blair: Carter Or Thatcher?

Tony Blair seems to grasp the disaster awaiting Britain if it takes the Jimmy Carter strategy on Iranian hostaging of its sailors and Marines. He warned Iran that anything less than an immediate release of British servicement would move the confrontation to a "different phase", as the US quickly filled the Persian Gulf with warships: Tony Blair warned Iran yesterday that the dispute over the 15 British servicemen seized in Gulf waters last week could move into a “different phase” if diplomacy failed to secure their release. His words, immediately condemned by Iran as “provocative”, came as the US Navy began its biggest show of force in the Gulf since the invasion of Iraq four years ago, with manoeuvres involving two aircraft carriers, a dozen warships and more than 100 aircraft. As tensions rose, Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, had a robust telephone conversation with her Iranian counterpart demanding immediate...

Brits On Parade

In an escalation to the crisis over the seizure of 15 British sailors and Marines, the Iranians have displayed them on television, apparently forcing the female sailor to read a public statement. The Iranians have also promised to release her as a goodwill gesture: A letter allegedly written by a captured British sailor to her parents says she had "apparently" entered Iranian territorial waters, the Iranian Embassy in London said Wednesday. The letter was addressed to the parents of Faye Turney, one of the 15 British sailors captured by Iranian forces after they allegedly trespassed in Iranian waters. An Iranian embassy official e-mailed a copy of the letter to The Associated Press, saying Turner wrote it on Wednesday. ... Meanwhile, Iranian state TV showed video of some of the sailors and marines, including Turney, who wore a white tunic and a black head scarf and said the British boats "had...

March 29, 2007

Blair Not In A Haggling Mood

Tony Blair continued to firm his stance towards the Iranians today, stating that Britain will not bargain for the release of the sailors and Marines that Iran has taken hostage. Instead, he demanded that Iran unconditionally release the fifteen detainees, and suspended all communications with the Islamic Republic except for talks specifically about this crisis: Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that Britain would not negotiate over British sailors and marines held hostage by Iran. In an interview with ITV News, Blair again called for the unconditional return of the 15 Royal Navy personnel who were seized by Iranian authorities last week. Britain's Sky News meanwhile said Iran had released another letter by captured sailor Faye Turney, this time calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. "The important thing for us is to get them back safe and sound, but we can't enter into some basis of bargaining," Blair...

March 31, 2007

Telegraph: We're Screwed

The London Telegraph analyzes all of the options open to Britain in the current crisis over the capture of 15 Navy personnel in the Persian Gulf, and comes up with one consistent conclusion -- none of them will work, at least not without the 800-pound American gorilla on their side. Whether sanctions, blockades, or military attacks get reviewed, the Telegraph reports that the UK no longer has the juice to pull them off: The Government has few options if it wants to pressure Iran into releasing the captured Britons. Military action is unfeasible without American support and so is a military blockade of the Gulf. Unless the United Nations shows more rigour, sanctions are unlikely to hurt Iran in the short term. There is a feeling that the 15 could be in for a long stay in Iran and face the nightmare prospect for Britain of a show trial. Washington...

April 1, 2007

EU To Blair: It's A YP, Not An OP

The European Union declined last night to provide any substantial support to Britain in its standoff with Iran over the captured sailors and Marines. While the European foreign ministers called for Iran to release its captives, they refused to offer any sanctions on the Iranians: European foreign ministers failed last night to back Britain in a threat to freeze the €14 billion trade in exports to Iran, as the hostage crisis descended into a propaganda circus. Tony Blair could only issue a new statement of disgust as Iran tormented him with another sailor’s video confession and a fresh letter from the young mother detainee. ... EU foreign ministers meeting in Germany called for the sailors to be freed but ruled out any tightening of lucrative export credit rules. The EU is Iran’s biggest trading partner. British officials are understood to have taken soundings on economic sanctions before the meeting but...

Does This Sound Familiar?

Tony Blair had better dust off his study material about the Jimmy Carter presidency. It looks like the Iranians have begun another embassy standoff: About 200 students threw rocks and firecrackers at the British Embassy on Sunday, calling for the expulsion of the country's ambassador because of the standoff over Iran's capture of 15 British sailors and marines. Several dozen policemen prevented the protesters from entering the embassy compound, although a few briefly scaled a fence outside the compound's walls before being pushed back, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. The protesters chanted "Death to Britain" and "Death to America" as they hurled stones into the courtyard of the embassy. They also demanded that the Iranian government expel the British ambassador and close down the embassy, calling it a "den of spies." The British say that the police presence has kept the compound secure, but that supposedly...

April 2, 2007

Iran, The New South Africa

Missouri took the first steps among the states to divest their portfolios of any foreign corporations doing business with Iran, a move they started last year. Now eight other states have begun to follow suit, and the latest state may make the biggest impact of all. California has just passed legislation that would transfer billions of dollars away from foreign investments: It is the kind of political movement that fits handily on a bumper sticker: Divest Iran. Over the past year, one state, Missouri, has opted to do just that, while several others, including New Jersey, have also begun to write or to consider legislation to divest. But the nascent movement took on decidedly more weight last week with the preliminary success of a bill in the California Legislature. The measure would force two of the nation’s largest pension funds — devoted to the state’s public employees and its teachers,...

Two Years Until Iran Goes Nuclear

It seems that those darned Iranians just keep surprising people with their plucky can-do attitude. For years, Iran managed to fool everyone into thinking that it had no nuclear program at all. Once we discovered that those rascals had been burning the midnight oil to study up on applied nuclear physics, we figured that they could never master the mechanics. Even after Pakistan extended a helping hand by selling them prototype centifuges and weapons designs, Informed Experts told us to relax -- the Iranians would need 5-10 years before they could enrich enough uranium to actually build the bombs. Well, those enterprising little devils have managed to surprise us again! Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months, adding some 1,000 centrifuges which are used to separate radioactive particles from the raw material. The development means Iran could have enough material for...

April 4, 2007

Iran 'Pardons' Captured British Sailors, Marines

Well, talk about making lemonade out of lemons. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced a "pardon" for the 15 British sailors and Marines just a few moments ago, and promises to have them flown out of Iran within the next couple of hours: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran will pardon and set free 15 British sailors and marines being held in Iranian custody. "I declare that the people of Iran and the government of Iran -- in full power to place on trial the military people -- to give amnesty and pardon to these 15 people and I announce their freedom and their return to the people of Britain," Ahmadinejad told a news conference. He said the Britons would be taken to the airport after the news conference. The action was a goodwill gesture for the Iranian new year which began last week, he said. A spokesperson for British Prime Minister...

Did Iran Blink?

The Iranians apparently caught everyone by surprise when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unexpectedly 'pardoned' the 15 British sailors and Marines they captured in Iraq waters two weeks ago. The Times of London reports that the sudden concession by the mullahcracy springs from a victory of pragmatist factions over hardliners, and that the Iranians saw no benefit from the further isolation a prolonged battle over the detainees would bring: The extremists wanted to put the British on trial or at least hold them as a bargaining chip for the release of five Iranian officials arrested by US forces in Iraq in January who are still in custody. The more moderate elements advised the opposite. Iran is already reeling from sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and in all likelihood faces further measures this year if it is does not halt its controversial nuclear programme. The British might not have been in...

April 5, 2007

Lovely Parting Gifts Included

The 15 Royal Navy personnel held captive by the Iranians for a fortnight returned home today on a British Airways flight. Less than 24 hours after their "pardon" from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the sailors and Marines flew business class, with parting gifts from the Iranian mullahcracy: Fifteen Royal Navy personnel detained at gunpoint in the Gulf were heading home to Britain today, seated in business class on a British Airways flight from Tehran with shiny new suits and goody bags filled with traditional Iranian gifts. The eight sailors and seven Marines were released yesterday in a stunning piece of political theatre by President Ahmandinejad, who brought a bizarre but welcome end to a 13-day stand-off that had held out the possibility of violent escalation. ... But despite widespread relief at their release, the group may face questions as to their behaviour in captivity. Colonel Bob Stewart, who became famous as a...

April 6, 2007

No Change In Iranian Position After Release

The US has determined that the release of 15 British Navy personnel reflects no great change in the Iranian diplomatic posture. The New York Times reports that the White House believes that the order for the capture came from lower levels, and the decision to release them came only after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrung as much publicity as he could without any negative consequences: The Bush administration said Thursday that the release of 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran for two weeks created no new openings in dealing with Tehran, and it urged American allies to return their attention to enforcing new sanctions against Iran. In public statements and background interviews, White House and State Department officials said that they saw no indications that the release indicated a change of attitude by Iran’s leadership. Neither did they see any more willingness to discuss suspension of its enrichment of uranium...

April 7, 2007

US Offered Military Assistance To UK During Hostage Crisis

The Guardian reports that the Bush administration offered a series of military options to the Blair government at the beginning of the hostage crisis, but the British asked the Americans to hold off on any response. The exact list remains classified, but it included one option of "aggressive patrols" over Revolutionary Guard locations: The US offered to take military action on behalf of the 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, including buzzing Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions with warplanes, the Guardian has learned. In the first few days after the captives were seized and British diplomats were getting no news from Tehran on their whereabouts, Pentagon officials asked their British counterparts: what do you want us to do? They offered a series of military options, a list which remains top secret given the mounting risk of war between the US and Iran. But one of the options was for...

April 8, 2007

Successful Strategies Usually Get Repeated

If anyone expresses shock over the latest report from The Telegraph, they expose themselves as having no sense of history. The British newspaper reports that the Iranians plan more hostaging as a result of the successes they scored during the crisis over the last two weeks (via Memeorandum): Hardliners in the Iranian regime have warned that the seizure of British naval personnel demonstrates that they can make trouble for the West whenever they want to and do so with impunity. The bullish reaction from Teheran will reinforce the fears of western diplomats and military officials that more kidnap attempts may be planned. The British handling of the crisis has been regarded with some concern in Washington, and a Pentagon defence official told The Sunday Telegraph: "The fear now is that this could be the first of many. If the Brits don't change their rules of engagement, the Iranians could take...

April 9, 2007

Should The Sailors Sell Their Stories?

The British government has overridden its own rules and granted the 15 Royal Navy personnel released by Iran this week permission to sell their stories to the media. The move comes as the detainees face criticism over their cooperation with Iranians and comparisons to earlier generations of sailors, who only gave name, rank, and serial number: Two days after they were paraded as heroes with a story to tell, some of the 15 British sailors and marines captured and released by Iran seemed Sunday to have decided they have a story to sell. In a highly unusual decision, Britain’s Ministry of Defense — normally tight-lipped, to say the least — acknowledged Saturday that it had agreed to permit them to offer their experiences for sale to newspapers and television stations. Such transactions are common enough among civilians, some of whom have traded the rights to their stories for considerable sums...

Iran: We're Industrious

Once again, the analysts that predicted a 5-10 year development period for Iran before the mullahs could produce a nuclear weapon have underestimated the industriousness of the Islamic Republic. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced today that Iran has 3,000 centrifuges on line and producing fissile material -- a cascade that could produce weapons-grade material in less than two years: Iran announced Monday that it has begun enriching uranium with 3,000 centrifuges, defiantly expanding a nuclear program that has drawn U.N. sanctions and condemnation from the West. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a ceremony at the enrichment facility at Natanz that Iran was capable of enriching nuclear fuel "on an industrial scale." Asked whether Iran has begun injecting uranium gas into 3,000 centrifuges for enrichment, top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani replied, "Yes." He did not elaborate, but it was the first confirmation that Iran had installed the larger set of centrifuges after months...

April 10, 2007

The Tortured Logic Of Simon Jenkins

The apparent reversal of the British Navy on the sale of stories from their 15 sailors and Marines captured by Iran undoubtedly pleased many, but maybe none so oddly as The Guardian's Simon Jenkins. Jenkins decried the tabloid bidding war not primarily because of its impact on military discipline, but because stories of abuse and torture would make it harder for Britain to conduct diplomacy with Iran. No, really: We need dialogue with Iran. By pumping up the propaganda war with the sale of captives' stories, that only becomes harder The Royal Navy's decision to let its personnel sell stories of their failed military operation beggars ever more belief. Even the most ardent student of government openness must wonder at the thought processes involved. The navy may no longer rule the waves, but it waives the rules when it sees the glint of money. Last night it appeared to admit...

April 19, 2007

You'll Never Walk Alone, Until We Kill You

Iranians have reacted with outrage to the latest decision of their Supreme Court, which threw out murder charges against members of an elite state militia because the victims were "morally corrupt". Members of the Basiji Force, a group of vigilantes which basks in the favor of the mullahcracy, had the right to kill their victims for their moral terpitude ... including the heinous and dangerous act of an unmarried couple walking together in public: The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the murder convictions of six members of a prestigious state militia who killed five people they considered “morally corrupt.” The reversal, in an infamous five-year-old case from Kerman, in central Iran, has produced anger and controversy, with lawyers calling it corrupt and newspapers giving it prominence. “The psychological consequences of this case in the city have been great, and a lot of people have lost their confidence in the judicial...

April 21, 2007

An Iranian Agent In Phoenix Nuclear Reactor?

American authorities have arrested a Phoenix man on suspicion of violating the trade embargo with Iran -- by supplying the mullahs with details of an American nuclear reactor. Mohammed Alavi stepped off a flight from Iran to LAX and into the arms of FBI agents on April 9th: A former engineer at the nation's largest nuclear power plant has been charged with taking computer access codes and software to Iran and using it to download details of plant control rooms and reactors, authorities said. ... Mohammad Alavi, who worked at the triple-reactor Palo Verde power plant west of Phoenix, was arrested April 9 at Los Angeles International Airport when he arrived on a flight from Iran, authorities said. ... He is charged with a single count of violating a trade embargo that prohibits Americans from exporting goods and services to Iran. If convicted, he would face up to 21 months...

April 24, 2007

Summer Heat Got You Down? Try Wearing A Sack

Summer approaches in Iran, and the temperatures will start rising dramatically. So will police interventions to ensure proper shari'a wear for women. The Iranian government announced that, as they do every year, they will start cracking down on women who react rationally to the heat by not wearing a head-to-toe sack: Iranian police have begun a summer campaign to ensure women do not flout the nation's sharia dress code as temperatures soar. ... Under sharia, imposed in Iran after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to wear a head-to-toe black chador or cover their hair with scarves and choose long, loose-fitting clothes. Women who "violate" the law can receive lashes, fines or imprisonment. Mahdi Ahmadi, a police spokesman, said: "Police have started to confront those women who appear in public in an inappropriate way." Have they ever! The police announced that they have already issued 1,300 warnings about immodest dress,...

April 28, 2007

Olmert: The Delay Of A Thousand Tomahawks

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert now distances himself from remarks about how a military strike on Iran could delay their nuclear capabilities for ten years. Hours after the German magazine Focus produced the Olmert assertion that an attack using thousands of Tomahawk missiles could grind the Iranian program down for a decade, Olmert's office called the PM's remarks "general" and "off the record": "Iran's nuclear program can be thrown back by years in a ten day attack using thousands of Tomahawk cruise missiles," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying in an interview published online by the German magazine Focus on Saturday. Olmert had reportedly said that it would not be possible to completely halt Iran's race to attain nuclear capability, but that a brisk attack that would delay it significantly was "technically feasible." While saying that Israel does not seek military confrontation, Olmert added that "nobody excludes it."...

May 1, 2007

Levinson To Be Freed?

Unconfirmed reports from Iran say that the Iranian government has freed former FBI agent Robert Levinson and will deport him to either Frankfurt or Dubai today. Levinson had gone to Iran to conduct a private investigation into the murder of a former Iranian official in Washington: Friends of the former FBI agent believed to be in custody in Iran, Robert Levinson, say he could be released as early as today based on what they describe as two unconfirmed reports from Tehran. "We have received a call that he is free, and we have people at airports in Frankfurt and Dubai where we have been told he could show up," one of Levinson's friends told The Blotter on ABCNews.com. U.S. officials could not confirm the report, but FBI spokesman John Miller said, "We are hearing the same thing, but we have no way to judge the credibility of that information." Levinson...

May 2, 2007

Iran Arrests Former Nuclear Negotiator

Iranian security officials arrested former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian, a political ally of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. Replaced by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mousavian had extensive contacts in Europe while fending off any attempts to put an end to Iran's nuclear program: A top Iranian former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian has been detained, according to sources in Iran who did not want to be named. It is not clear why Mr Mousavian, who has also served as Iran's ambassador to Germany, was arrested. Eight security officials reportedly took him from his house on Monday. The inner workings of the Iranian political elite are as murky as ever, and this is no exception. Mousavian apparently works at a government-run think tank, so he had not fallen from favor. Despite his electoral defeat two years ago, Rafsanjani had remained influential; he's one of the richest men in Iran. Those riches could be part of...

May 3, 2007

Was Mousavian A Western Mole?

The arrest of former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian has people scratching their heads, as I noted yesterday. Now the Guardian reports that Iranian authorities have charged Mousavian with leaking secrets from the Iranian nuclear program to the West: A senior Iranian diplomat who played a prominent role in negotiations on the country's nuclear programme was arrested in Tehran on security charges, it was reported yesterday. Hossein Mousavian was taken from his home on Monday by security officials and charged with passing on information on Iran's nuclear industry, the news agency IRNA reported, without saying who allegedly received the information. Mr Mousavian had served as the deputy head of the Iranian delegation in talks with the west on Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and had also been ambassador to Germany. Since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad he had left the government, and was working at a Tehran thinktank at the time of...

May 13, 2007

Iran And The US, Together Again

Washington and Teheran have apparently agreed to hold talks about the security of Iraq and will meet in Baghdad soon. It represents a turnabout for both nations, and both nations have taken pains to ensure that people understand that they only have a mutual interest in Iraq: The U.S. and Iran said Sunday they will hold upcoming talks in Baghdad about improving Iraq's security — a historic political turnabout for the two countries with the most influence over Iraq's future. Expectations of progress remain low, however, with tough issues at stake and mutual suspicions running high. Even as it announced the talks, Iran lashed out at Vice President Dick Cheney's weekend warnings about its nuclear program, saying it would retaliate if the U.S. attacked it. Yet the two sides said they were setting aside such differences to focus on a narrow issue — Iraq's continued violence and sharp political deterioration....

May 22, 2007

Well, This Takes All The Fun Out Of It

ABC News has revealed a top-secret order from George Bush that orders the CIA and other intelligence agencies to take action to undermine the Iranian mullahcracy. Needless to say, the revelation makes the mission almost impossible (via Hot Air): The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com. The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions. "I can't confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find...

May 29, 2007

Now Sit Back And Let Peace Roll Across The Globe

The United States has held its first diplomatic contacts with Iran in over 27 years -- since the time the Iranians overran our embassy in Teheran and held our embassy staff hostage for 444 days. The meeting at the ambassadorial level came as a result of demands from the Iraqi government and the proponents of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, which claimed that official contacts between the two nations would improve the security of the new democratic state in Iraq: The United States and Iran held rare face-to-face talks in Baghdad on Monday, adhering to an agenda that focused strictly on the war in Iraq and on ways the two bitter adversaries could help improve conditions here. The meeting between Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker of the United States and Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi of Iran — held in the offices of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — produced no agreements...

June 1, 2007

The Iranian Answer, Continued

The Iranians extended their response to American diplomatic overtures by arresting another American in Iran. Ali Shakeri, who ironically works as a peace activist in Irvine, California, now faces charges of espionage and potentially the death penalty: The United States confirmed that a missing Irvine peace activist has become the fourth Iranian American detained by Iran on suspicion of espionage, and warned U.S. citizens against traveling to the country. "American citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran," the State Department said after confirming that Ali Shakeri, who has been missing in Iran for more than two weeks, is being held at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. ... Shakeri, a founding board member at UC Irvine's Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, had been scheduled to leave Iran and fly to Europe in the first half of May. The UCI-CCP advertises itself as "tak[ing] an...

June 6, 2007

NATO: Iran Supplying The Taliban

ABC News reports that NATO officials have proof that the Iranian government supplies the Taliban in their war against Afghanistan. The materiel includes C-4, heavy arms, and roadside bombs not unlike those deployed against the US in Iraq: NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain. "It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stopped short earlier this week of blaming Iran, saying the U.S. did not have evidence "of the involvement of the Iranian government in support of the Taliban." But an analysis by a senior coalition official,...

June 16, 2007

Iran Nearing The Tipping Point?

The mullahcracy in Iran has apparently unleashed its latent paranoia, resulting in a crackdown on dissent not seen since the 1979 Revolution. The Iranian government has moved to quell academic debate, silence citizen groups, purge their internal security systems, and generally tighten the screws on the Iranian people: Iran is in the midst of a sweeping crackdown that both Iranians and U.S. analysts compare to a cultural revolution in its attempt to steer the oil-rich theocracy back to the rigid strictures of the 1979 revolution. The recent detentions of Iranian American dual nationals are only a small part of a campaign that includes arrests, interrogations, intimidation and harassment of thousands of Iranians as well as purges of academics and new censorship codes for the media. Hundreds of Iranians have been detained and interrogated, including a top Iranian official, according to Iranian and international human rights groups. ... The widespread purges...

June 24, 2007

Iranian Morality Police Crack Down On Dissent

Michelle Malkin, Gateway Pundit, Ali Eteraz, and Iran Focus have joined forces to publicize the brutality of the Iranian regime on dissenters -- and not just politcal dissenters, either. They're cracking down, literally, on people who dress in non-Islamist dress, including soccer shirts on men. As a show of solidarity with the Iranian people, I'm joining these other bloggers in carrying some of the images of the brutality. In this video, you hear and see a woman getting beaten on the street: Here's a clip of the morality police dragging a man through the streets with his hands bound behind him, beating and kicking him as they do: Here's an Iranian version of Candid Camera, except these meddling women aren't kidding, and they have police to back then up: People accuse bloggers of stoking the fires of war with these images. That's not the case. If the Western media did...

June 26, 2007

Did Iran Invade Iraq?

The blogosphere has buzzed since last night about a report that Iran has invaded southern Iraq and stunned the British contingent there. If true, it would provide a cassus belli for Coalition partners, including the US, to respond with military force against the mullahcracy in Teheran. However, the sourcing on this story leaves something to be desired (via Memeorandum): Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces have been spotted by British troops crossing the border into southern Iraq, The Sun tabloid reported on Tuesday. Britain's defence ministry would not confirm or deny the report, with a spokesman declining to comment on "intelligence matters". An unidentified intelligence source told the tabloid: "It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran -- but nobody has officially declared it." "We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed...

June 27, 2007

Gas Rationing The Last Straw?

Thanks to OPEC and a series of domestic-policy blunders by the Carter Administration, I spent a significant portion of my first year with a driver's license waiting in long lines to get gasoline for the family car. Now an OPEC nation has to ration gasoline, and its citizens have reacted in a different manner -- by burning down the gasoline stations in protest. Iranians may have reached the tipping point with the mullahcracy and the international sanctions they have brought upon the people: Angry Iranians have torched petrol stations in protests against the sudden imposition of fuel rationing in one of the world’s most oil rich nations. The rationing was announced on Tuesday only three hours before it was due to begin at midnight, leading to long queues at service stations as Iranians rushed out to fill up before the clampdown kicked in. In the capital, youths set a car...

July 6, 2007

Lieberman Warns On Iran

With the focus of the Senate apparently shifting to Iraq and the use of the ISG report as an exit strategy, Joe Lieberman has issued a warning on the nature of the basic conflict that fuels the war on terror. In today's Wall Street Journal, Lieberman warns that Iran has its fingers in every conflict in that region, and that our withdrawal from Iraq will entice the Iranians to expand their violent bids for hegemony: Iran's actions in Iraq fit a larger pattern of expansionist, extremist behavior across the Middle East today. In addition to sponsoring insurgents in Iraq, Tehran is training, funding and equipping radical Islamist groups in Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan--where the Taliban now appear to be receiving Iranian help in their war against the government of President Hamid Karzai and its NATO defenders. While some will no doubt claim that Iran is only attacking U.S. soldiers in...

July 12, 2007

The Laughingstock Of Teheran

Have you heard the joke about the president of Iran -- or more accurately, the joke that is the president of Iran? Monica Maggioni at Foreign Policy reports that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has become a laughingstock in Iran, and not just among the hoi polloi waiting in hours-long gas lines. Even the ruling elite have started snickering up their sleeves, but the punch line may not be humorous at all: Since his election in June 2005, Iranians have had conflicted feelings about their president. At first, he evoked interest and curiosity. And there were great expectations from this humble man who was promising economic reform, an anticorruption campaign, and a rigid moral scheme for daily life. Then came fear—when Ahmadinejad began to destroy any chance of good relations with the outside world. But today in Iran, laughter is supplanting fear. Mocking the president has become a pastime not only for rebellious...

July 13, 2007

Iran To Allow Inspection Of Arak Reactor

The Iranians will allow the IAEA to inspect its heavy-water plant in Arak, apparently intending to forestall another round of economic and diplomatic sanctions. The inspectors will check to see if the Iranians are producing and storing plutonium, which would give them another means of producing nuclear weapons besides their uranium-enrichment cascades: Iran has agreed to let inspectors visit this month a nuclear reactor being built which could produce plutonium, the UN nuclear watchdog has said. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced a delegation would visit the Arak heavy water reactor following two days of talks in Tehran. Heavy-water reactors produce plutonium, which can be used in nuclear weapons as an alternative to enriched uranium. Perhaps CQ readers can help here. The normal output of a heavy-water reactor produces plutonium -- so what do IAEA inspections gain? It doesn't sound like the Iranians risk much by having IAEA inspectors...

July 16, 2007

Military Solution For Iran?

The Guardian reports that the Bush administration, led by Dick Cheney, has decided to emphasize the military options in dealing with Iran. This would change the policy from last year's decision to emphasize the diplomatic approaches to ending the Iranian nuclear program, and it apparently comes over the objections of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates: The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned. The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo." ... Last year Mr Bush came...

July 17, 2007

Iran Hosts AQ Council: NIE

The national intelligence estimate will state that the Iranians have an active cell of al-Qaeda leadership in their eastern mountain area, Eli Lake reports today in the New York Sun. The same Quds force that has assisted Shi'ite and Sunni terrorists in Iraq has allowed the senior AQ figures to operate since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, and they have ties to the Iraq branch of AQ as well: One of two known Al Qaeda leadership councils meets regularly in eastern Iran, where the American intelligence community believes dozens of senior Al Qaeda leaders have reconstituted a good part of the terror conglomerate's senior leadership structure. That is a consensus judgment from a final working draft of a new National Intelligence Estimate, titled "The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland," on the organization that attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The estimate, which represents the...

July 30, 2007

There's Something Missing From This Picture

The Iranian check list for civilian nuclear power has something significant missing, as the Guardian noticed on a tour of its facilities. Uranium? Check. Centrifuge cascade for enrichment? Check. National will to face down the global community to produce nuclear fuel? Apparently in spades. How about a nuclear plant in which to use the fuel for civilian power? Oops: Before the Isfahan tour, a promotion film was screened showing the production of the first UF6 at the plant in 2004. The Iranian government also claims to have mastered the next step in the process, the engineering feat involved in spinning the UF6 in a high-speed centrifuge and separating out a variant, or isotope, of uranium, that is highly fissile - uranium-235. The work is being done at a centrifuge plant being built in Natanz, to the northeast of Isfahan. Spinning the UF6 gas until it is up to 5% rich...

Iran Objects To Its Isolation

The proposed multibillion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia has raised the hackles of Congress, which objects to arming the Saudis as long as they tolerate extremism. Tom Lantos (D-CA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), and Robert Wexler (D-FL), and seven other Democratic co-sponsors will propose a resolution to block the deals once Congress has officially been notified of the sale. The Democrats, as it turns out, are not the only ones to object, but to be fair, Iran actually understands the geopolitical goals of the sale: Iran's foreign ministry spokesman on Monday criticized a U.S. plan to sell state-of-the-art weapons to Saudi Arabia, saying it would undermine security in the Middle East, the state broadcasting company reported. .... "What the Persian Gulf region needs is stability and security," Hosseini was quoted as saying on the Web site of the state broadcasting company. "Americans have been trying to disturb it by selling weapons...

August 15, 2007

Iranian Military Terrorists: US

The Bush administration will designate the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces, the mainstay of the Iranian military, as a terrorist organization. Its involvement with American enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan and material support of other terrorists such as Hezbollah led to the decision. It's the first time a state military force has received this designation, and it will likely create a great deal of controversy: The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances. The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional...

August 19, 2007

The Lost Iranian Revolutionary Guard Patrol

The US military command in Baghdad says it's tracking a band of Iranian Revolutionary Guard far away from home. Fifty members of the IRG have made their way to the area of the Iraqi capital, and the assumption is that they're not there as ambassadors of peace and love: Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose command includes the volatile southern rim of Baghdad and districts to the south, said his troops are tracking about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in their area -- the first detailed allegation that Iranians have been training fighters within Iraq's borders. "We know they're here and we target them as well," he said, citing intelligence reports as evidence of their presence. He declined to be more specific and said no Iranian forces have been arrested in his territory. "We've got about 50 of those," he said, referring to the Iranian forces. "They go back...

August 28, 2007

Iran To Cooperate On Uranium Program: Teheran

Has Teheran begun to feel the pressure of international sanctions and diplomatic isolation? Iran has announced that it willgive more cooperation on its nuclear effort, including a secret program that American intel showed had a definite military component: Iran on Monday offered some cooperation with an International Atomic Energy Agency probe of an alleged secret uranium processing project linked by U.S. intelligence to a nuclear arms program. The Iranian pledge was contained in a memorandum reached between Iran and the IAEA and published on the agency's Web site at the request of Tehran's mission to the agency. In it, Tehran also outlined its timetable for providing other sensitive information sought by the IAEA in its probe of more than two decades of nuclear activity by the Islamic republic, most of it clandestine until revealed more than four years ago. The document reiterated Iran's allegations that the search for information on...

September 4, 2007

Iranian Hardliners Get A Small Setback

Former president and relative moderate Hashemi Rafsanjani defied hardliners to win control of a key body in Iranian leadership. Rafsanjani will head the Expediency Council and become chair of the Assembly of Experts, which acts as liaison between the parliament and the Guardian Council, the real power in Iran: Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani was picked Tuesday to head a key clerical body empowered with choosing or dismissing the country's supreme leader, state media reported, in a vote seen as a setback for hard-liners in Iran's ruling establishment. Rafsanjani, long a major player in Iran's complex political scene who already heads a powerful government body called the Expediency Council, received 41 votes to become the chairman of the Assembly of Experts. The assembly is a group of 86 senior clerics charged with monitoring Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and choosing his successor. The Expediency Council arbitrates between legislators and another...

September 5, 2007

Putin, German Parts, And Iranian Reactors

Germany has an export ban on transfers of technologies associated with nuclear reactors to Iran, in accordance with UN sanctions and its own security policies. However, German systems have been found in the new nuclear reactor at Bushehr, much to the consternation of German authorities. Der Spiegel traces the transactions back to Russia, and Vladimir Putin: A deal involving industrial equipment attracted the attention of prosecutors and customs investigators to S., who has been doing business in German for more than a decade. The electromagnetic brakes, switchgear, spring elements and special cables that the 46-year-old businessman bought up in Germany between 2001 and 2004 were bound for the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr -- a central project in the nuclear program of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. ... The case's true political explosiveness lies in the structure of the business relationships it involved. The Potsdam prosecutors now believe that they...

September 8, 2007

Presenting A Bill For Terrorism

A US court entered a judgment against Iran for the terrorist attack in Lebanon that killed 241 Marines, awarding victims and their families over $2 billion in damages. The judge found the mullahcracy "legally responsible" for actions of Hezbollah, based on the Iranian financing for the terrorist organization: A federal judge yesterday ordered Iran to pay more than $2.6 billion to nearly 1,000 family members and a handful of survivors of a 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 soldiers. The ruling brought cheers and tears from survivors but faces long odds of being fulfilled. "This court is sadly aware that there is little it can do to heal the physical wounds and emotional scars," wrote U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth in his order. But he expressed hope that "this extremely sizeable judgment will serve to aid in the healing process and simultaneously sound the...

September 12, 2007

US Has Iranian Missile Debris After Attack

The US military in Iraq has evidence from a rocket attack that they claim prove Iranian involvement in Iraq. The briefing, scheduled for tomorrow, will display the Iranian markings from a missile that killed one civilian and wounded eleven troops: U.S. military officials in Iraq tell ABC News that a rocket used in an attack on coalition headquarters at Camp Victory Tuesday was made in Iran. Officials say the rocket, which narrowly missed its target, was fired from an area of Baghdad controlled by Shia militia leader Moqtada al Sadr. Officials say it landed so close that it shook the windows of the al Faw Palace, which houses the operational headquarters of U.S. forces in Iraq. The top two American military officials in Iraq -- Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno -- both have offices in the building. A video teleconference of senior officers was abruptly halted as...

September 17, 2007

The New French Realism

The change of government in Paris has given French diplomacy a new and welcome dose of realism. Bernard Kouchner has made it clear that Gallic patience has come to an end where Iran is concerned. If Iran continues in its nuclear intransigence, Kouchner announced, the world must prepare for war: The world should "prepare for war" with Iran, the French foreign minister has said, significantly escalating tensions over the country's nuclear programme. Bernard Kouchner said that while "we must negotiate right to the end" with Iran, if Teheran possessed an atomic weapon it would represent "a real danger for the whole world". The world should "prepare for the worst... which is war", he said. His comments came after Washington reminded Teheran that "all options were on the table" in confronting its nuclear policy, which many officials in the West believe has the ultimate aim of arming a nuclear warhead, despite...

September 18, 2007

Russia, China Don't Like Sabre Rattling

Both Russia and China have reacted to the French realism over Iran with warnings about using warlike rhetoric. The two nations insisted that statements from France and the United States about military options would not help resolve the situation and said the nuclear standoff would only find resolution through diplomacy: Any US military intervention in Iran would be a "political error" that would have "catastrophic" consequences, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said in an interview published Tuesday. ... "We are convinced that there is no military solution to the Iranian problem. It's impossible. Besides, it is quite clear that there is no military solution to the Iraq problem either. But in the case of Iran everything could be even more complicated," he said. ... China is opposed to threatening Iran with war over its nuclear program and stands for a diplomatic solution, a government spokeswoman said on Tuesday. ......

September 20, 2007

Terrorists Go Home -- And That Means You, Mahmoud

These days, not too much unites Americans. We spend most of our time heatedly debating the war in Iraq, domestic spending policies, and issues of culture and race. However, one event has galvanized the American body politic into unanimity, and ironically, it's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Ground Zero: New York pols were outraged at the prospect of the Iranian stepping on perhaps the city's most hallowed ground. "It is unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country's support of terrorism, to visit the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in our nation's history," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani called the idea "outrageous." "This is a man who has made threats against America and Israel, is harboring [Osama] Bin Laden's son and other al Qaeda leaders, is shipping arms to Iraqi insurgents and is pursuing the development of...

September 24, 2007

I Didn't Realize The Sanctions Had That Much Bite

Spam has become an unfortunate part of life for anyone with e-mail, and all of us spend at least a few minutes each day tweaking our filters to keep it out of our inboxes. Every once in a while, something new and unusual comes along that almost makes it worthwhile when it sneaks past all of the traps. This morning, for instance, I received a note that purported to be from the Internal Revenue Service: Notification of Tax Refund on your VISA or MasterCard Now, After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $209.30. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. Fox example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline. ... Deliberate wrong inputs are criminally pursued and indicated. You have to love the really sophisticated spammers that can't manage to write...

Iran Applies Pressure To Free Quds Officer

Iran has started to close its border with the Kurdish region of Iraq in response to the arrest of an Iranian official in Sulaimaniyah last week. The US insists that the detainee belongs to the Quds Force, the terrorist elite of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and had facilitated the smuggling of Iranian weapons to insurgents and terrorists within Iraq. The Iraqis have protested the arrest as well as the border closure: Iran closed major border crossings with northern Iraq on Monday to protest the U.S. detention of an Iranian official the military accused of weapons smuggling, a Kurdish official said. At least four border gates have been closed and one remains open, the governor of the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah, Dana Ahmed Majeed, told The Associated Press. The move threatens the economy of Iraq's northern region — one of the country's few success stories. In Tehran, the public relations department in...

Bollinger Tries To Butch Up After Providing Forum To Ahmadinejad

Lee Bollinger has brought disgrace to Columbia University by inviting a theocratic despot to speak at their campus while his government actively tries to, and sometimes succeeds at, killing American servicemen in Iraq. The president of Columbia, having heard the criticisms of Americans across the country for giving a Holocaust denier and radical Islamist supporter of terrorism an Ivy League platform, decided to act tough by scolding Ahmadinejad in his introduction: Mr. Bollinger was applauded loudly when he took the podium after a brief introduction. He began by defending the university's decision to summon President Ahmadinejad. "This is the right thing to do," Mr. Bollinger said, adding that he was sorry if the event hurt some people's sentiments. Mr. Bollinger called Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments on the Holocaust "astonishingly uneducated" and characterized him as a "petty and cruel dictator." Mr. Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak for about 30 minutes. He began...

Bollinger Sure Enlightened The Iranians

Want to see how effective Lee Bollinger's supposed plan to expose Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a "petty and cruel dictator" went? The Iranian state news agency reported on Ahmadinejad's speech -- and they apparently never heard of Lee Bollinger (via CapQ commenter Bennett): Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon. On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world. Before President Ahamadinejad's address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to...

September 29, 2007

Rutten: Score One For Ahmadinejad

Tim Rutten looks at the arguments from Lee Bollinger's apologists and finds them unconvincing. Reaching back to Columbia University's earlier support for fascists, Rutten scores the win for Ahmadinejad for his appearance at the Ivy League academy, and scolds Columbia for giving Ahmadinejad the Western legitimacy he craved (via Memeorandum): It would be interesting to know if any consideration of these events -- and all that followed a decade of engagement and dialogue with fascism -- occurred before Columbia extended a speaking invitation to a man who hopes to see Israel "wiped off the face of the Earth," has denied the Holocaust and is defying the world community in pursuit of nuclear weapons. Perhaps they did and perhaps that's part of what motivated Lee Bollinger, Columbia's president now, to deliver his extraordinarily ill-advised welcoming remarks to Ahmadinejad. Bollinger clearly had an American audience in mind when he denounced the Iranian...

October 2, 2007

France Keeps Pressure On Iran

The government of Nicolas Sarkozy intends to keep pressure on Iran to abandon their nuclear program, and wants to see the rest of the world follow suit. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a European broadcaster that Western credibility required the pursuit of tougher sanctions, as the UN continued to dither: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Tuesday the West must continue to work on sanctions if it is to be taken seriously by Iran, even as talks continue to resolve a stand-off over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Kouchner told Europe 1 radio that the situation in Iran was dangerous and that a nuclear-armed Iran would make the situation in the Middle East even more complicated. "While the European dialogue continues...we have to work on sanctions so as to be taken seriously," Kouchner said. So far, the West doesn't appear to be listening. The UN Security Council agreed on Friday to...

October 4, 2007

Iran Expands Operations Against The West

It seems as though the Iranians want war with the West more than the West wants war with Iran. British military intelligence reports that the Quds Force, a unit within the Revolutionary Guards, has begun supplying the Taliban with the same kinds of terrorist bombs that have been put to use by al-Qaeda in Iraq: Iran is supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with the same bomb-making equipment it provides to insurgents in Iraq, according to British military intelligence officers. US Army General Dan McNeill, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, said that the discovery of more than 50 roadside bombs and timers in lorries crossing the border from Iran last month proves that Iran's Quds Revolutionary Guards are actively supporting the Taliban. ... "I cannot see how it is possible for at least the Iranian military, probably the Quds force, to not have known of this convoy," said Gen...

October 5, 2007

Columbia's Latest Guest Speaker Reiterates Call For Israel's Destruction

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad celebrated Al-Quds Day today by calling Israel's existence an "insult to human dignity". Backed by chants of "Death To America!", the Iranian president and recent guest of Columbia University challenged Europe to give land to the Jews and to oppose Israel and the United States: Millions of Iranians attended nationwide rallies Friday in support of the Palestinians, while the country's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel's continued existence was an "insult to human dignity." "The creation, continued existence and unlimited (Western) support for this regime is an insult to human dignity," Ahmadinejad said. "The occupation of Palestine is not limited to one land. The Zionist issue is now a global issue." ... The Iranian president once again said Palestinians should not pay any price because Europeans committed crimes against Jews in World War II. He said they could give a part of their own land in Europe or...

October 20, 2007

Larijani Resigns

Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has resigned from the government, effective immediately. Larijani apparently had significant differences with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on strategy in dealing with the West, and his departure might signal a split in Teheran that could mean trouble for the mullahcracy and their diminutive mouthpiece: Iran's chief negotiator with the West over Tehran's nuclear programme, Ali Larijani, has resigned. A government spokesman said Mr Larijani had repeatedly offered his resignation and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had finally accepted it. Mr Larijani had differences with the president over how to proceed with the negotiations, correspondents say. ... Mr Larijani has favoured further negotiations with the West over Iran's uranium enrichment programme, as opposed to the president's more hard-line approach, our correspondent says. The resignation allows the mullahs to promote deputy foreign minister Saeed Jalili in his place. Jalili is known to be a closer associate of Ayatollah Ali Khameini,...

October 26, 2007

Surrender Democrats Can't Even Abide Sanctions

Iran has spent years hiding their development of nuclear weapons, followed by years of refusing to negotiate on ending their program. The EU attempted a two-year conversation with Teheran to shut down their efforts; the Russians offered to build and run nuclear power plants for Iran while controlling the fuel. All of these efforst came to nothing. Faced with an intransigent theocracy determined to build nuclear weapons while spouting genocidal rhetoric, the Bush administration has pushed for an escalating series of sanctions intended to force Iran into serious negotiations. Does he get support from the Democrats, who have complained loudly about the "rush to war" with Iraq? Not exactly: In approving far-reaching, new unilateral sanctions against Iran, President Bush signaled yesterday that he intends to pursue a strategy of gradually escalating financial, diplomatic and political pressure on Tehran, aimed not at starting a new war in the Middle East, his...

What Do Iranian Democrats Want?

We have argued in the US for outreach to Iranian activists for democracy as a means of ending the mullahcracy and stabilizing the Middle East. Many of us feel that the US has not done nearly enough to bolster the disaffected Iranian people who have more affinity to the West than most of the rest of the peoples in the region. The Bush administration has proposed sending money to those who work to end the oppression of the mullahs and their front men in the government. Not so fast, says one of the men on the front lines of the struggle. Akbar Ganji, an Iranian journalist and dissident, writes that American cash will discredit the dissidents. What they need is American moral and media support to get the truth to the Iranian people: Of course, Iran's democratic movement and civil institutions need funding. But this must come from independent Iranian...

November 1, 2007

Recipe For Proliferation? EU-3, Then Repeat

Eli Lake offers a recap of the Democratic approach to Iran, calling it the "ask nicely" approach. Leading Democrats in Congress and in the presidential primaries have latched onto the word "diplomacy" as if it has never been tried with Teheran. They offer no reason to hope that another round of sweet talk alone would have any more success than previous attempts: Finally, at least for Democrats who say they are nominally interested in halting the Mullah quest for nukes, there is the Mohammed ElBaradei option. Perhaps, the time is ripe, as the director general of the International Atomic Energy told CNN on Sunday, for "creative diplomacy." Time to lower the temperature and accept for now Iran's enrichment of uranium in exchange for the cooperation they promised back in 2003. Senator Boxer, a Democrat from California, is intrigued. She said everyone wants to avoid a confrontation with Iran. "We don't...

November 4, 2007

The Truth About Sanctions

Democrats have objected to the Bush administration's pursuit of sanctions against Iran as a precursor to war. They have ignored the Iranian intransigence on nuclearization and treated the White House as the source of the problem. In doing so, they have given signals to Russia and China to continue their obstructionism on sanctions at the UN Security Council. Jim Hoagland explains why Russia, China, and the Democrats are pushing the Bush administration to the war option as the sole remaining recourse: And by mid-November, Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will report on whether the Iranians will now admit that they received and then developed P-2 centrifuges and got other nuclear technology from Pakistan, as was reported in this column in 1995 and as the IAEA has charged since 2002. This is one basic that Bush critics frequently overlook -- in part because it gets lost in...

November 7, 2007

Months, Not Years

Iran announced that it has expanded its working centrifuge system to 3,000, making uranium enrichment to weapons-grade fissile material achievable within a year. The Iranians announced this as an intermediate goal nineteen months ago on the way to 54,000, at which point they could produce a bomb every two weeks: Iran has achieved a landmark with 3,000 centrifuges fully working in its controversial uranium enrichment program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday. Ahmadinejad has in the past claimed Iran succeeded in installing the 3,000 centrifuges at its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. Wednesday's claim was his first official statement that the plant is now fully operating the 3,000 centrifuges. "We have now reached 3,000 machines," Ahmadinejad told thousands of Iranians in Birjand in eastern Iran, in a show of defiance of international demands to halt the program believed to be masking the country's nuclear arms efforts. In April 2006, the State...

November 8, 2007

Did State Kill The Iran Democracy Project?

A decision by the State Department to transfer funds for Iranian democracy activists to its Iranian Affairs office spells the end of the American effort to support democratic change in the Islamic Republic, its former director said. Scott Carpenter, in an interview with Eli Lake of the New York Sun, says that the end of independent operation of this project signals that the money will no longer support efforts to get past Internet censors and other means of information reporting that is critical to the success of democratic movements: The former director of President Bush's flagship democracy program for the Middle East is saying that the State Department has "effectively killed" a program to disburse millions of dollars to Iran's liberal opposition. In an interview yesterday, Scott Carpenter said a recent decision to move the $75 million annual aid program for Iranian democrats to the State Department's Office of Iranian...

November 12, 2007

Admiral Fallon: Let Diplomacy Take Its Course

Admiral William Fallon, the commander of CENTCOM, throws some cold water on hard-Left conspiracy theories and hard-Right wishes. He tells the Financial Times that CENTCOM has not plotted imminent attacks on Iran, and thinks that the rumors abounding on the subject do not help the diplomatic efforts on which the Bush administration has concentrated (via Memeorandum): The Pentagon is not preparing a pre-emptive attack on Iran in spite of an increase in bellicose rhetoric from Washington, according to senior officers. Admiral William Fallon, head of Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, told the Financial Times that while dealing with Iran was a “challenge”, a strike was not “in the offing”. “None of this is helped by the continuing stories that just keep going around and around and around that any day now there will be another war which is just not where we want to go,”...

November 13, 2007

The Oh-So-Cosmopolitan Mullahcracy

Many people point out the relative sophistication of the Iranian people as a contrast to their 7th-century leadership as a reason why the mullahcracy is doomed. The British got a taste of this disconnect in a ministerial meeting at a recent peace conference when treated to the Iranian perspective on homosexuality. The big question for the Iranians is whether a noose works better as a cure, or a brick wall: Homosexuals deserve to be executed or tortured and possibly both, an Iranian leader told British MPs during a private meeting at a peace conference, The Times has learnt. Mohsen Yahyavi is the highest-ranked politician to admit that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality after a spate of reports that gay youths were being hanged. President Ahmadinejad, questioned by students in New York two months ago about the executions, dodged the issue by suggesting that there were no gays...

Peaceful Nuclear Program, Right?

Iran has claimed for years that it only pursues nuclear technology for peaceful power generation, and that the West has no reason to suspect that they have any nefarious purposes in building centrifuges and reactors. Western critics of the Bush administration's tough policy on Iran insist that the entire issue may be manufactured entirely, and that Iran has the right to pursue nuclear power. They may have a more difficult time offering apologias for Teheran after today's release of plans for uranium warheads from the mullahcracy: Iran has met a key demand of the U.N. nuclear agency, handing over long-sought blueprints showing how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads, diplomats said Tuesday. Iran's decision to release the documents, which were seen by U.N. inspectors two years ago, was seen as a concession designed to head off the threat of new U.N. sanctions. But the diplomats said Tehran...

November 18, 2007

The Swiss Option

Has an opening appeared for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear weapons standoff? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged that Iran might have a neutral third party such as Switzerland perform their uranium enrichment in order to appease Western nations who insist Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons: Iran's President President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Dow Jones Newswires Sunday that he would be consulting with Arab nations on a plan to enrich uranium outside the region in a neutral country such as Switzerland. Such a plan would allow Iran to develop its nuclear energy program while potentially easing fears that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. "We will be talking with our (Arab) friends," he said in exclusive comments to Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' heads of state summit in Saudi Arabia. Under a proposal put to Tehran by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council,...

November 19, 2007

Iranian Nobel Laureate: Stop The Enrichment

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi will soon make the Iranian traitors list, as conceived by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ebadi has called for suspension of the uranium enrichment program and demanded that Teheran negotiate in good faith for a peaceful nuclear-energy program with the UN, offering a rare display of domestic dissent on the issue: Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi has called on Iran to suspend its controversial nuclear work to avert what she says is a mounting threat of war the US. "Using nuclear energy is every nation's right, but we have obvious other rights including security, peace and welfare," she told a press conference. .... Correspondents say Ms Ebadi's comments represent an unusually explicit condemnation of the government's entrenched policy at a time of mounting tension with western powers. "We can hear the evil sounds of war drums, however far away. We don't like it but there is probability of war," she...

November 21, 2007

Official Denouncement Of Ahmadinejad?

The mullahcracy may have had enough of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A well-connected state-run newspaper in Iran accused him of "immoral" behavior by calling opponents of the nuclear program "traitors". The Islamic Republic has close ties to supreme cleric Ali Khameini, and its editorials usually reflect the viewpoint of the ruling clique: In a hard-hitting editorial on Wednesday, the paper said the president's treatment of his critics was immoral, illogical and illegal. It was referring to a recent speech by Mr Ahmadinejad when he described people opposed to his nuclear programme as traitors and accused some senior former nuclear negotiators of spying for foreigners. The paper said Mr Ahmadinejad was using this tactic to discredit his political rivals prior to the parliamentary elections due early next year. It called on Iran's judiciary to perform its duty and punish people who make baseless allegations and cause public anxiety. What to make of this?...

November 22, 2007

Petitioning Iran

Iranian interference in southern Iraq has more than just the Americans demanding its cessation. A petition drive protesting the mullahcracy's involvement in violence has garnered over 300,000 signatures, including hundreds of leading Shi'ite clerics. The message -- get out now (via CapQ reader Bill N): More than 300,000 Iraqis including 600 Shi'ite tribal leaders have signed a petition accusing Iran of sowing "disorder" in southern Iraq, a group of sheikhs involved in the campaign said. The sheikhs showed Reuters two thick bundles of notes which contained original signatures. The sheikhs said more than 300,000 people had signed the pages. Such a public and organized display of animosity toward neighboring Shi'ite Iran is rare in Iraq. Iranian influence has grown steadily, especially in the predominantly Shi'ite south, since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. "More than 300,000 people from the southern provinces condemned the interference of the Iranian regime...

November 30, 2007

Disappointment In London

The European Union closed out its latest round of talks with Iran over its nuclear program, proclaiming disappointment over the results. Javier Solana said the two sides would meet again in a month, but that will not stop the matter from returning to the UN Security Council. The US will press for another round of harsher sanctions: The European Union said it was disappointed after talks with Iran on Friday seen as a last chance to avert U.S. pressure for tougher international sanctions over Tehran's disputed atomic program. The absence of a breakthrough at the London talks means six world powers meeting in Paris on Saturday will try to agree new penalties to propose to the United Nations, despite differences in their approach to halting Iran's nuclear program. "I have to admit that after five hours of meetings I expected more. I am disappointed," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana...

December 3, 2007

Why We're Not Bombing Iran

Some have expressed frustration at the slow pace of diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program. A recent setback in Europe created more calls for targeted military strikes against Iran's known nuclear facilities, and military-intervention advocates wondered why the Bush administration didn't strike at once. Wait long enough, and the Iranians would produce a mushroom cloud for a smoking gun. The intelligence community has a different analysis of the situation: A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb. The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran’s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy. The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of...

December 4, 2007

No Delay On NIE

After yesterday's release of the declassified National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, a number of pundits assumed that the White House had suppressed the report for months. The conclusions of the NIE -- that Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons "years earlier" -- led people to believe that the Bush administration had kept it locked away so it could pursue a policy of war against Iran. As the Washington Post reports this morning, the conspiracy theorists have overreached again (via Rick Moran): While concluding that Iran's weapons program is now halted, the NIE presents a mixed view of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. It portrays Iran's ruling clerics as susceptible to international pressure, having abandoned an extensive and costly covert nuclear program in the face of threatened economic sanctions and global censure. But the report also depicts Iran as cleverly preserving its options, by making steady strides toward a civilian nuclear energy capability...

December 5, 2007

Confidence Games, High And Low

The NIE released on Monday said that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons effort in 2003 after international pressure forced it to change directions, a conclusion in which the intel community had "high confidence". However, two years ago, the same intel community said that Iran continued to pursue nuclear weapons -- and had the same "high confidence" level in that conclusion as well. The Wall Street Journal wonders if the intel community hasn't played a confidence game on Iran, and notes a few of the players who might have reason to do so: As recently as 2005, the consensus estimate of our spooks was that "Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons" and do so "despite its international obligations and international pressure." This was a "high confidence" judgment. The new NIE says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 "in response to increasing international scrutiny." This too is a "high...

When Did Fingar Change His Mind?

One of the main authors of the recently-released NIE on Iran sang a different tune to Congress less than five months earlier. Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard notes that Thomas Fingar testified to the completely opposite conclusion on July 11th, 2007 -- that Iran continued to pursue nuclear weapons. This tends to substantiate that the change in posture came very recently: Iran and North Korea are the states of most concern to us. The United States’ concerns about Iran are shared by many nations, including many of Iran’s neighbors. Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting negotiations and working to delay and diminish the impact of UNSC sanctions than in reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution. We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons--despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the...

December 6, 2007

France, Germany Still Consider Iran A Threat

Despite the surprising conclusion of the American intelligence committee that Iran suspended its push for nuclear weapons, both France and Germany insisted that Iran represents a real threat. Nicolas Sarkozy still wants to impose harsher sanctions, although Angela Merkel would not commit to supporting another round at the moment. The two EU powers want Iran to end its uranium enrichment: "Iran continues to represent a threat," Mrs Merkel said during a joint news conference with Mr Sarkozy in Paris. She did not specifically express support for a new UN sanctions resolution against Iran, which the US is calling for. .... Mr Sarkozy said he agreed with his German counterpart that Iran still posed a danger, and that he supported the push for more sanctions. "Notwithstanding the latest elements, everyone is fully conscious of the fact that there is a will of the Iranian leaders to obtain nuclear weapons. "What made...

December 10, 2007

Brits To CIA: Psyche!

The latest national intelligence estimate (NIE) on Iran has come under considerable criticism for ist conclusion that the mullahs stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003. Not only have Americans questioned the sudden reversal of the analysis, but even the Europeans wonder what the CIA has been drinking of late. The British have "grave doubts" about the veracity of this conclusion, and openly speculate that the CIA fell into a disinformation trap: British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran. The timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely. The security services in London want concrete evidence to...

December 11, 2007

NCRI: NIE Half Right

Unfortunately, it's the wrong half. Previous NIEs did not acknowledge a shutdown of the Iranian nuclear weapons program in 2003, but the new one fails to recognize its restart in 2004. The Iranian opposition group that exposed the program in the first place will publicly state that the ODNI's new estimate ignores evidence of the program's continuance at new facilities: The Iranian opposition group that first exposed Iran's nuclear-fuel program said a U.S. intelligence analysis is correct that Tehran shut down its weaponization program in 2003, but claims that the program was relocated and restarted in 2004. The claim, to be made public today by the National Council for Resistance in Iran, joins a broad pushback by conservative hawks who say the U.S. analysis has wrongly given the impression that Iran's nuclear-fuel program doesn't present an urgent threat. In recent days, Republican lawmakers have called for a review of the...

December 13, 2007

Russia Will Finish Bushehr

Russia has negotiated a payment schedule with Iran and will complete the Bushehr nuclear power plant, both nations announced today. The move comes in the wake of the NIE that reversed years of intelligence analysis and declared Iran's nuclear weapons program halted. The Russians appear happy to accept that conclusion, even if Britain and Israel strongly disagree: Russia and Iran have settled all differences over the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power station and agreed on a time-table for its completion, the Russian contractor building the station said on Thursday. "We have resolved all the problems with the Iranians," said Sergei Shmatko, president of Atomstroiexport. "We have agreed with our Iranian colleagues a timeframe for completing the plant and we will make an announcement at the end of December." Russia's role in building the Bushehr plant on the Gulf is at the centre of a diplomatic dispute. Western powers, which...

December 24, 2007

The Iranian Score

Now that the Russians have begun to fuel the nuclear power station at Bushehr, the Iranians want to build more reactors. In fact, they will build nineteen more while the UN debates whether to increase sanctions on Teheran for their refusal to stop their uranium enrichment program: Iran will soon announce an international tender for building 19 nuclear power plants, an MP was quoted as saying, a week after Russia said it had begun fuel deliveries to the Islamic state's first such facility. ... Russia said on December 17 it had delivered the first shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr power plant in southern Iran, a step Moscow and Washington said should convince Tehran to shut down its own disputed uranium enrichment activities. Iran, however, said it would not halt its efforts to enrich uranium, a process to make fuel for power plants that can also provide material for...

December 26, 2007

The Russian Conundrum

Russia has begun transferring nuclear fuel to Iran for the completion of its contract for the nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The delivery marks a victory for Iran, but also a potential trap. The Russians claimed today that its delivery of fuel renders a uranium enrichment program by Iran unnecessary -- as the UN begins considering another round of sanctions for the Iranian refusal to suspend enrichment: "We believe that Iran has no economic need to proceed with its program of uranium enrichment," Lavrov told the daily. "We are trying to persuade the Iranians that freezing the program is to their advantage as it would immediately lead to talks with all countries of the "six," including the United States." Such talks, he said, would aim to end any suspicion that Iran had any secret aim to produce nuclear weapons. "Iran's agreement to this proposal is in everyone's interest." Iran was...

January 3, 2008

Khameini: Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever

The man with the real power in Iran hinted that he would like improved Iranian-American relations in the future, although not at the moment. Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the man in charge of Iran's Guardian Council and the true national leader of Iran's mullahcracy, also insisted that Iran needs to generate 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity within the next 20 years so it can continue to sell its oil and gas reserves for income: Iran's supreme leader said on Thursday restoring ties with the United States now would harm the Islamic state, but he did not rule it out in the future. "Not having relations with America is one of our main policies but we have never said this relationship should be cut forever," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech in the central province of Yazd, state television reported. "Certainly, the day when having relations with America is useful for...

January 7, 2008

How Close Were We To War?

According to The Telegraph, we came within moments of open warfare with Iran. Iranian patrol boats harassed the US Navy in international waters in the Straits of Hormuz over the weekend. They dropped unknown objects in the water and sent a threat of attack over the radio, only dispersing as the commander of the American fleet gave orders to open fire: A Pentagon spokesman revealed that five Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy boats harrassed and provoked three US ships in the narrow waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf at the weekend. The Iranian craft came within 200 yards of the US vessels, which were sailing in international waters. The Iranian provocations included disregarding warnings to pull back, dropping mysterious objects in the path of the US ships and a hostile radio transmission. The Pentagon said a radio message warned: "I am coming at you. You will explode in a...

January 22, 2008

Ahmadinejad Gets His Nose Tweaked

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got out-populisted by his masters yesterday in a rare public display of disagreement between the Iranian president and the real power, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Khameini ordered his president to obey the legislature and fund subsidies for natural gas in a cold winter. Ahmadinejad had previously refused, claiming that the move would not be fiscally responsible: The political authority of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suffered a serious blow today after the country's most powerful figure sided with MPs by ordering him to supply cheap gas to villages undergoing power cuts amid an unexpectedly harsh winter. In a humiliating rebuff, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader who has the final say over all state matters, ordered the enactment of a law requiring the government to provide £500m of gas supplies from emergency reserve funds. Ahmadinejad had refused to implement the measure, accusing parliament of exceeding its powers...

January 30, 2008

What Part Of Not Authorized Did Khalilzad Not Understand?

The State Department reacted angrily to the appearance of UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on a panel at the Davos Economic Forum, along with two members of the Iranian government. The US restricts diplomatic contacts with Iran and requires prior approval for any such interaction. Apparently, Khalilzad took it upon himself to make that decision: An appearance by America's U.N. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, on a World Economic Forum discussion panel — alongside two Iranian officials, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, and a close aide to President Ahmadinejad, Samare Hashemi — was unauthorized by the State Department and angered Secretary of State Rice, Washington sources said yesterday. The panel, titled "Understanding Iran's Foreign Policy," took place in Davos, Switzerland, and dealt mostly with Iran's nuclear policy, just as Security Council diplomats — including America's U.N. mission headed by Mr. Khalilzad — began to forge a new resolution that would impose new punitive measures...

February 5, 2008

A Reworked NIE?

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton wants DNI Michael McConnell to redo the National Intelligence Estimate to properly reflect the threat Iran poses to the region and the US. The do-over should emphasize the dual-use nature of its nuclear program, which Bolton claims got glossed over in the original (via Memeorandum): Today, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee (and Thursday on the House side) to give the intelligence community's annual global threat analysis. These hearings are always significant, but the stakes are especially high now because of the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. Criticism of the NIE's politicized, policy-oriented "key judgments" has spanned the political spectrum and caused considerable turmoil in Congress. Few seriously doubt that the NIE gravely damaged the Bush administration's diplomatic strategy. With the intelligence community's credibility and impartiality on the line, Mr. McConnell has an excellent opportunity to correct the...

February 25, 2008

The Ironic IAEA

Mohammed ElBaradei has issued a new IAEA finding that states Iranian explanations of its nuclear activities -- with one glaring exception --are "consistent" with the agency's own findings. Danielle Pletka and Michael Rubin slam ElBaradai in today's Wall Street Journal for his agenda in assisting Iran in hiding the true nature of its nuclear activities, and of hiding behind his Nobel Peace Prize to do so: The report represents Mr. ElBaradei's best effort to whitewash Tehran's record. Earlier this month, on Iranian television, he made clear his purpose, announcing that he expected "the issue would be solved this year." And if doing so required that he do battle against the IAEA's technical experts, reverse previous conclusions about suspect programs, and allow designees of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an unprecedented role in crafting a "work plan" that would allow the regime to receive a cleaner bill of health from the IAEA...