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Archive for July, 2011

Shooting Victim Developed Potential Iranian Nuke Tech: Officials

Posted by alanmirs on July 29, 2011

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The victim of last week’s fatal shooting in Tehransupported the preparation of high-voltage switching systems critical for activating detonators to initiate a nuclear weapon’s fission reaction, the Associated Press on Thursday quoted international officials as saying (see GSN, July 28).

(Jul. 28) – Demonstrators rally in support of Iran’s nuclear program outside the nation’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility in 2005. Iran will not “stop or go back” on its atomic research, the nation’s top diplomat said in an interview (Majid/Getty Images).

Iranian state media originally described the victim as neutron physics specialist Dariush Rezaei, butTehranquickly withdrew those reports and asserted the attack had in fact killed an electronics student named Darioush Rezaeinejad.

International officials confirmed Rezaeinejad’s name, but added he was a scientist and not a student.

The Associated Press said it viewed a document co-written by Rezaeinejad that adds credibility to the assertion. While the switching technology has civilian applications, the document’s title indicates “an explosive application,” according to an unidentified one-time U.N. nuclear inspector (Associated Press/Washington Post, July 28).

Iranhas said it could allow tours of its atomic sites by specialists fromSaudi Arabia, the nation’s Fars News Agency reported on Wednesday

TheUnited Statesand other countries suspectIran’s nuclear program is intended to support weapons development, butTehranhas maintained its atomic ambitions are strictly nonmilitary in nature.

“Iranhas no problem for allowing Saudi experts to visit its nuclear facilities in order for further clarity in its nuclear drive,” Iranian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohammad Javad Mahallati said. “Irandoes not intend to achieve nuclear weapons due to its religious beliefs and political aspects of the issue,” he told the Saudi newspaper al-Watan.

At a previous summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah called for firsthand engagement aimed at resolving questions and concerns over Iran’s nuclear activities, the envoy said. Riyadh’s former envoy to the United Stateslast month also reportedly warned that his nation would develop nuclear weapons if Tehranobtained such armaments (see GSN, June 30).

“Bilateral relations need efforts to ease misunderstandings. There are different countries trying to deepen presumptive disputes and conflicts between the two countries,” Mahallati said. “Steps taken by authorities of the two countries are on a correct path and will help settle disputes” (Fars News Agency, July 27).

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in an interview said his country would not “stop or go back” on its atomic research, Russia Today reported.

Asked aboutU.S.and European efforts to curbIran’s uranium enrichment program, Salehi said, “Iranhas reached a point in its nuclear research where it is impossible to stop or go back, since Iranian nuclear technology has gone beyond that point.”

Uranium enrichment can produce civilian nuclear fuel as well as bomb material.

“Nuclear technology has developed into a domestic industry inIran, spreading all across the country and becoming a fact of life for many Iranians. Now that we have educated and trained thousands of nuclear scientists, how can the West or the entire world stop us from enriching uranium? This has become a fact of reality,” the minister said.

“As for how the situation is going to develop, there is no limit to discussion, dialogue and negotiation. We see it as a test for ourselves, for our patience and endurance. Throughout our history, we have managed to prove to the world thatIrandoes not give up in the face of suppression and hostility. No threats and no pressure can shake our sovereignty and independence. We are ready to pay any price and withstand anything,” Salehi said.

“We are convinced thatRussiawill keep supportingIran’s position. We have no worries about that,” the official later added.

Potential exists for relations betweenTehranandWashingtonto improve, Salehi said.

“We have stated time and again thatIranwants to have good, reasonable relations with all countries except for the Zionist state,” he said, referring toIsrael.

“As for our relations with Washington, they will depend upon U.S.actions toward Iran. If they remain hostile, there will be no relations, period. However, if Washington changes its attitude toward Iran, and replaces hostility with a sense of equality and respect for Iran’s sovereignty and independence, then the essence of our relations will change,” Salehi said (Russia Today, July 28).

Meanwhile, a Russian diplomat on Thursday saidIranposes no missile threat toEurope, ITAR-Tass reported.

“We are actively upholdingIran’s efforts to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We know exactly thatIranhas no nuclear weapons that can threaten any country, includingRussia,” Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said.

The envoy said his country possessed extensive knowledge of Iranian missile activities. “Any view thatIranwill attackPolandorNorwayby using its missiles is delirious nonsense,” he said.

Some NATO member states have expressed concern about potentialIranmissile attacks on the Balkans, Rogozin said. “But I doubt that quite a few inIranknow anything about these countries. That is why all this is speculation,” he said.

“An attempt to diabolize Iran and represent it [as] ‘such a bad boy’ seems like Hollywood, but it has nothing [in] common with the real situation,” the official said.

European antimissile measures could pave the way for military action againstIran, he said. “I don’t hide that this aspect is being discussed by NATO. One cannot delude oneself into the concept ‘missile defense.’ This is not an element of defense in its pure form. The shield always covers the sword. Certain Russian and European experts believe that these plans can be the preparation of an attack onIran.”

“Defense and attack elements are linked to each other genetically,” Rogozin added (ITAR-Tass, July 28).

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Iran Redistributes Wealth in Bid to Fight Sanctions

Posted by alanmirs on July 27, 2011



TEHRAN—Iran’s Islamist government may be public enemy No. 1 at the White House. But in the halls of the International Monetary Fund a few blocks away, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is being hailed as an economic reformer.

ReutersShamseddin Hosseini, Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance,at a news conference in Tehran on Tuesday.

In the face of mounting international sanctions, his government has embraced over the past seven months what the IMF calls one of the boldest economic makeovers ever attempted in the oil-rich Middle East.

Tehran has cut price subsidies on most energy and food products since December in a bid to shave about $60 billion or more off the government’s expenses annually. The move has led to a sharp drop in domestic oil and gas consumption, according to senior Iranian and IMF officials, freeing up a larger portion of Iran’s vast energy assets for export.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s reforms amount to a massive redistribution of his country’s wealth, since his government and the IMF say the energy subsidies largely benefited Iran’s wealthy ruling classes. The president is using his government’s savings to transfer to most Iranian households the equivalent of $40 per month to offset higher local prices and international sanctions, while trying to stimulate the domestic economy.

“This reform is first and foremost about reducing a waste of resources,” Dominique Guillaume, the IMF’s lead economist on Iran, said in an interview. “But it also creates a greater sharing of Iran’s oil wealth amongst its people.”

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Pakistan’s Iran overtures test Saudi faith

Posted by alanmirs on July 25, 2011

Asia Time Online - Daily News

By Malik Ayub Sumbal

ISLAMABAD – Saudi Arabian concerns over Pakistan’s improving ties with Iran will likely be worsened by reports that Islamabad sent a secret delegation of hard-nosed and devout Sunni scholars to Tehran with the aim of fostering interfaith harmony with their Shi’ite counterparts.

Asia Times Online has learned that more than a dozen Wahhabis (hardline Sunni Muslims) from Pakistan were recently sent to Iran to meet with Shi’ite clerics, the majority faith in Iran. Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia, is predominantly Sunni. Efforts to keep the religious dialogue secret were exerted at the government level.

The meeting occurred weeks before a high-profile delegation, including President Asif Ali Zardari, visited Tehran for an anti-terrorism summit, suggesting that Pakistan-Iran ties were rapidly improving. (See Pakistan, Iran become ‘natural allies’, Jul 19, 2011)

Speaking in Tehran on July 17, Zardari proposed a currency-swap agreement between Pakistan and Iran to strengthen trade and said the nations had the potential to undertake joint economic projects in Afghanistan. He said there was a chance of a “new era” of development in the two countries in particular, and in the whole region.

There are also plans for a gas pipeline that would link Iran’s South Pars gas field to energy-staved Pakistan. Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain said last week that the $1.2 billion pipeline project will be complete by 2014.

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7 DAYS IN THE PEARL OF PERSIA Nigeria can learn useful things from Iran –Reza

Posted by alanmirs on July 25, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Iranians take pride in referring to their country as the Pearl of Persia. And in a sense, Iran actually is. The cultural highlights and museums of Tehran, the majestic ruins of the ancient city of Persopolis, Esfahan’s beautiful Islamic architecture, the magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs and the royal tombs of Naghsh-e-Rostam make Iran, a country in Central Eurasia, located on the north eastern shore of the Persian Gulf, tick.

The 18th largest nation in the world, in terms of land mass of 1,648,195 kilometers square, has drawn the world’s attention due to the numbers of sanctions imposed on it.

Many nations of the world and international bodies impose sanctions on Iran. These sanctions bar nuclear, missile and certain military exports to Iran; investments in oil, gas and petrochemicals; exports of refined petroleum products; business dealings with the Iranian Republican Guard Corps; banking and insurance transactions, including with the Central Bank of Iran and shipping.
Apart from sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), the United States, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, India and Israel have also added more sanctions..
In spite of these sanctions, Iranians are not deterred and they grow from strength to strength, developing rapidly, all on their own, even ahead of nations without sanctions.
Iran is an arid land, which could be referred to as a desert. Yet, it houses almost all soil produce beyond the reach of countries with arable lands.

At the time of this visit, sponsored by the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria, the 13 sojourners did not set their eyes on any overflowing river as they were all dried up. Yet, we saw water, gushing out of every nook and cranny of Iran. We were even astonished when at the Ettela’at media house, which has been in existence since 1926, we learnt that power has only gone out of Iran on two occasions in the last 10 years.
There is actually zero-tolerance for immorality of all forms of which alcohol is one of the chief forbidden acts.
Its tourist centers are legendary. You have the Hashth Behesht palace, the Nightingale Garden, built about the 17th century, and the Imam Square, which is the second largest in the world, measuring 150×350 meters, built by Shah Abbas, about 400 years ago.

The Esfahan’s Mobarakeh Steel Company is the largest industrial complex in Iran and has been established, commissioned and started-up after the victory of the Islamic revolution and entered into operational stage since early 1993. While its annual production capacity is 5.2 million tonnes of steel sheets, it is expected to peak next year at 7.2 million tonnes.
Mr. Rasool Mehmandoost, Steel Development Expert and Public Relations Officer of Esfahan Mobarakeh Steel, said “Esfahan Mobarakeh Steel Company occupies a land mass of 35,000 square kilometers and it is producing at 90 per cent capacity at the moment.”
He counselled Nigeria in respect of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex whose construction began almost at the same time with Esfahan Mobarakeh Steel Company: “The best way for the Nigerian Government to make maximum profit from the huge complex is to get the industry functional before exploring the possibility of its privatization.”

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Posted by alanmirs on July 24, 2011

How real is the nuclear threat?

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NYT Iran Scare Piece Just Lies, Innuendo

Posted by alanmirs on July 24, 2011

Scott Horton, July 23, 2011

David Sanger carries on Walter Duranty, Judith Miller and Michael Gordon’s lying legacy at the New York Times. In his new piece, co-written with William J. Broad, Sanger spends eleven-hundred words speculating and propagandizing about what it might meant that an Iranian scientist got a promotion.

Eat your heart out, George Jahn.

Sanger’s* entire argument – it ain’t reporting – is that the new enrichment facility at Qom exists. He repeats the tired, nonsensical lie, which first appeared in Sanger’s “journalism” at the time, that the Iranian government disclosed the existence of the new facility they were building there back in September 2009, as he now puts it, “only after learning that the United States and European powers were about to announce that they had discovered the complex, deep inside the Iranian base.”

What a bunch of nonsense. How in the world could the Iranian government know that President Obama, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown were “about to announce that they had discovered the complex”? Is it (Broad and) Sanger’s case that Iranian Intelligence infiltrated the American president’s speech writers’ offices? That they have a high-level mole inside the CIA? The MI-6?

Of course not. These are simply hollow lies fed to Sanger by his anonymous government sources, and uncritically passed by him to the rest of the mindless media.

The Iranians simply abided by their Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and notified them that they would be introducing nuclear material into equipment to be installed at a new facility they were building long before the required 6 months out.

Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is required to maintain a “Safeguards Agreement,” which allows IAEA inspectors access to Iran’s nuclear material to verify its non-diversion to military purposes, and requires notification in due time before the introduction of nuclear materials new locations so that the verification of non-diversion will not be interrupted. (The NPT also guarantees the “unalienable rights” of all signatories to the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.)

But, since hardly anyone else in the world was aware of the Qom disclosure to the IAEA, the Western politicians decided they would seize the opportunity – four daysafter the disclosure – to pretend they had caught Iran “red handed,” making a “secret” uranium enrichment site.

Sanger bought it. Or at least sold it. “They only admitted it first because somehow they knew we were about to call them on it,” unbelievably, became the linchpin of the entire government/media argument of Iran’s corrupt deception at Qom.

One may wonder why they even need arguments at this point.

But this one did serve the administration’s purpose of finding a way to refuse to accept Iran’s damn-near complete acceptance [.pdf] of the 20% enriched u-235 fuel swap deal that Obama had offered them in the first place, and complain that the end-of-2009 deadline for falling in line and avoiding more sanctions had been violated by the Iranians.

Once the IAEA was done looking around the facility that November, then-director Mohamed ElBaradei said it was “nothing to be worried about.” It was just a hole in the ground then, and has taken all this time to be ready for use. Apparently Sanger has trouble remembering things from a year and a half ago, if they’re true.

The rest of Sanger and Broad’s harangue is simply innuendo stemming from the obvious-to them premises that 1: the Qom facility must have been constructed for nuclear weapons development and 2: that if an Iranian nuclear scientist (that the U.S. and/or Israel has tried to murder**) who used to work with another man Sanger claims is “suspected” of unspecified nuclear weapons work inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has been made the new head of their Atomic Energy Agency, and he continues on the exact same path of enriching small amounts of uranium up to 20% for alleged medical uses that his predecessors were on, then that could only mean one thing: an atom bomb program.

Yet the American intelligence community is unanimous [.pdf] in this year’s National Intelligence Estimate that the Iranians have no nuclear weapons program, secret or declared, as they’ve said since 2007 [.pdf], long after, as Glenn Greenwald haspointed out, they claim to have discovered the existence of the Qom site.

As even Sanger admits in the article, the administration doesn’t see any cause for alarm here, other than the typical “they’re not supposed to be enriching at all” boilerplate – an answer given only when pressed by the Times. And we know Obama will use any excuse to start a war.

And why should weapons development be the most likely reason for 20% enrichment, Qom’s construction or this scientist’s promotion?

Yes, 20% enriched uranium is closer to the 90-plus percent required to make atom bombs than the rest of Iran’s stockpile of 3.6% enrichment for their electricity program, but it’s also needed for targets in their medical isotope reactor that the U.S.A. helped build for them back in the 1970s when their dictator was our loyal puppet.

During the so-called negotiations of 2009, Iran’s counter-offer to Obama that they swap their 3.6% LEU for finished 20% fuel rods, instead of their relying on the good faith of the French to honor the agreement was perfectly reasonable, as was the Turkish-Brazilian efforts to arrange the swaps on their territory. It was the U.S. government that was the intransigent party in all this, refusing to take Iran’s initial counter-offer as an opening to further talks, and even – shades of Dick Cheney –loudly criticizing the Brazilian and Turkish governments’ good faith efforts to bring a resolution to the dispute.

It is the president and secretary of state who deserve the blame from those worried about Iranian production of 20% enriched U-235, but they should also relax a bit because, after all, the Iranians have remained prepared to negotiate away production at those levels as recently as a few months ago – not the best way for them to stockpile eventual weapons material, right?

Why should the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility at Qom be an indication of a future weapons program? After all, the U.S. and Israel have threatened to bomb Iran for years under the pretext that their open, declared nuclear electricity facilities amount to a weapons program already. Why shouldn’t they diversify their supply and harden their defenses?

And why should the promotion of this one scientist be viewed as as some game-changing milestone on the road to the apocalypse in the context of the rest of these facts? Oh, right, these facts are here, not in the Times piece. So there you go.

*I pick on Sanger because Broad’s work is okay when he writes with Mark Mazzettifor example.

**Such attacks continue.

Update: That last link about an assassination today, turns out not to be right.

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Iranian Exile Group Poses Vexing Issue for U.S. in Iraq

Posted by alanmirs on July 23, 2011

New York Times

Iranian Exile Group Poses Vexing Issue for U.S. in Iraq

Karim Kadim/Associated Press

Iraqi Army units outside Camp Ashraf in April, when a military raid on the camp left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

Published: July 22, 2011


CAMP ASHRAF, Iraq — The more than 3,000 people living here once represented a powerful paramilitary organization bent on overthrowing the government in Iran. In the 1970s, the group killed Americans in Tehran, and after being given refuge by Saddam Hussein its members were suspected of serving as a mercenary unit that took part in his violent suppression of the Kurds in the north of Iraq and the Shiites in the south.

Now they are unwelcome in Iraq but believe they should be given protection in the United States — even though their group, known as the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, remains on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

“You probably have in mind Hawaii,” said Ambassador Lawrence E. Butler, the American diplomat who has been negotiating with the group in recent sessions here.

“I suspect you don’t want to go to Guantánamo,” he added.

For the last three months, Mr. Butler, the foreign policy adviser to Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the top American military commander in Iraq, has shuttled almost every week between Baghdad and Camp Ashraf, an outpost in Diyala Province near the Iranian border. Offering humor and bluntness, he has sought to cajole the exiles to leave their camp and avert what will almost certainly be another violent confrontation with the Iraqi security forces if they stay.

As the American military begins its final withdrawal from Iraq, the situation at Camp Ashraf is among the most vexing of the unfinished chapters of the American war here.

The group adheres to an ideology that is a mix of devout Shiism and Marxism, and in the initial phase of the war the Americans bombed the camp and killed several of its members before disarming the group, which had more than 2,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers. But the Americans later provided security for the camp as the Iraqi government, which is friendly with Iran, turned hostile to the group. A raid on the camp in April by the Iraqi Army left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

Mr. Butler’s mission has been to seek a solution that will save residents’ lives by first moving them to another camp away from the Iranian border, and then to other countries for resettlement. His goal is humanitarian, he said. He betrayed no sympathies for the group’s politics or forgiveness for its misdeeds. He wants them to move, he said, because he fears a slaughter at the hands of the Iraqi Army if they stay.

That solution has proved tricky, however, because the residents are refusing to leave, and no countries have come forward to welcome them. But the clock is ticking, and several times Mr. Butler has reminded members of the group that American forces will be leaving.

For Mr. Butler, the former ambassador to Macedonia whose diplomatic career has placed him across the negotiating table from members of the Irish Republican Army and war criminals in the Balkans, the current dealings have proved just as tough.

“If I don’t get assurances that you will move to a new location in Iraq, the next round of negotiations could be very short,” he admonished the group near the end of the recent session.

After a half-dozen such sessions, he has made little progress in getting the group to agree to leave the camp before Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government follows through on its promise to shut it down by the end of the year.

Adding to his difficulties, the group has a formidable and well-financed communications machine. It has attracted political figures like Howard Dean and Wesley K. Clark, the retired Army general, by paying them to make speeches in support of the group, fueling its resistance to a move and angering officials trying to bargain with it, like Mr. Butler.

Referring to General Clark, Mr. Butler asked the group, “How much was he paid?” He added, “He doesn’t get out of bed for less than $25,000.”

To this, one member replied that none of the group’s famous advocates were “doing it for the money.”

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War With Iran? US Neocons Aim to Repeat Chalabi-Style Swindle

Posted by alanmirs on July 23, 2011


Friday 15 July 2011
by: Ali Fatemi and Karim Pakravan, Truthout | News Analysis

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 24, Bolton reiterated his calls for military action against Iran and openly expressed his support for the MEK, a radical Islamic terrorist group. (Photo:Gage Skidmore)

In 1991, Iraqi exiles set up the Iraq National Congress (INC) with funding from the CIA. Under the leadership of Ahmad Chalabi, and flush with tens of millions dollars in US government funding, the INC allied itself with the neoconservatives in Washington and unceasingly beat the drums of war, presenting itself as the popular democratic alternative to Saddam Hussein and feeding faulty intelligence to an eager media and Bush

administration. Eventually, they succeeded in dragging the United States into disastrous war that cost Americans and Iraqis their lives and caused incalculable damage to American prestige and power.

Now, history may be repeating itself.

A segment of our political establishment that is chafing at the bit for a military attack on Iran has found their INC, in the form of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (also known as the MEK, or MKO), a radical Islamic terrorist group with Iranian roots that has been designated a terrorist organization since the State Department created the Foreign Terrorist Organization list in 1997.

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Why Delisting the MEK Threatens Iran’s Democracy Movement

Posted by alanmirs on July 23, 2011

Jamal Abdi

Policy Director, National Iranian American Council

The unprecedented campaign in Washington to remove the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations represents a critical threat to Iran’s indigenous democratic movement. Unlike Iran’s democratic opposition, which advances through nonviolence the principles of democracy and human rights, the MEK is an undemocratic organization that pursues its agenda through violence. Delisting the MEK and freeing the group to inject violence into Iran’s democratic opposition movement would help derail yet again Iran’s century-long struggle for democracy.

Secretary Clinton will soon make her decision on whether to remove the MEK from the terrorist list; the consequences of her decision could indeed determine whether Iran’s democratic aspirations are once again plunged into the abyss of a vicious cycle of violence.

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The U.S.-Saudi Dilemma: Iran’s Reshaping of Persian Gulf Politics

Posted by alanmirs on July 20, 2011

Right-Side News

Something extraordinary, albeit not unexpected, is happening in the Persian Gulf region. The United States, lacking a coherent strategy to deal with Iran and too distracted to develop one, is struggling to navigate Iraq’s fractious political landscape in search of a deal that would allow Washington to keep a meaningful military presence in the country beyond the end-of-2011 deadline stipulated by the current Status of Forces Agreement. At the same time, Saudi Arabia, dubious of U.S. capabilities and intentions toward Iran, appears to be inching reluctantly toward an accommodation with its Persian adversary.

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