Sunday, July 02, 2006


Note: Iranmania leans toward the Islamic Regime.

Iran threatens to retaliate if US auctions assets

LONDON, July 2 (IranMania) - Iran has threatened to retaliate if the United States moves to auction off invaluable ancient Persian artifacts to compensate victims of a Hamas bombing in Israel, said AFP.

"If America lays claim to Iranian assets to implement some of its courts' rulings, it will face a similar measure from Tehran," Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki told the official IRNA news agency.

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that a US federal judge had rejected a key defense by the University of Chicago in a lawsuit brought by US survivors of a 1997 bombing in Jerusalem seeking the auctioning off of Iranian treasures in its collection to pay compensation.

Mottaki said parliament had adopted a law in 1999 which would authorize Iranian courts to file suits against foreign governments which take such action against Iranian interests.

"True, a ruling has been issued and has not yet gone into the stage of enforcement, but on the whole, it marks an indecent cultural move taken by the US," he said.

Survivors of the bombing in a Jerusalem shopping district that killed five people were US visitors who filed a federal lawsuit against Iran over its financial support for Hamas, the Islamic militant group that now heads the Palestinian government.

"The University of Chicago is legally obliged to return Persepolis pieces," the head of Iran's National Museum, Mohammad Reza Kargar, was quoted as saying by state television.

He said there has been correspondence between the museum and the University of Chicago to repatriate the artifacts -- an invaluable collection of clay tablets bearing ancient cuneiform script which have been in its care since the 1930s.

The university previously returned some 300 pieces in its collection to Iran in 2004.

EU, Iran officials to meet on July 5

Moscow, July 1. (AP): Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Friday, Iran will set a date for giving its final answer to the international offer to end the standoff over its nuclear programme next week.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will meet on July 5 in Brussels, to discuss an international incentive package offered to Iran in return for its giving up disputed aspects of its nuclear programme.

"As I understand it, on the 5th of July ... the question will be discussed there (in Brussels), of when Iran will be prepared to precisely and unambiguously formulate its answer to the proposal of the six" Ivanov said, referring to the six major nations involved in negotiating with Tehran.

At a meeting on Thursday, Foreign Ministers from the eight major industrial powers said they wanted Tehran's full answer next week.
"We expect to hear a clear and substantive Iranian response to these proposals," their statement said.

The United States and its European allies suspect Iran is enriching uranium to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its programme is aimed solely at peaceful electricity generation.

Diplomatic Déjà vu?: Nuclear Deal-Making with Iran
June 30, 2006 American Enterprise Institute AEI
link to original article

Watch the video of the event

Earlier this month, the U.S. government offered to join Britain, France, and Germany in meeting with Iranian representatives if Iran suspended uranium enrichment and reprocessing work. Included in the proposal were a series of incentives, including an offer to help build a light-water nuclear reactor, which is seen as less of a threat than the country's uranium enrichment program.

While many diplomats hailed the offer and possibility of U.S.-Iranian talks as a breakthrough, the deal is strikingly similar to the 1994 U.S. – North Korea Agreed Framework, in which Pyongyang promised to suspend its enrichment program in exchange for two proliferation-resistant nuclear reactors and additional aid.

North Korea soon abrogated its promises and has since announced that it has nuclear weapons.

What are the implications of this recent proposal? Why did the North Korean deal fail? Will an agreement with Iran be more successful? Is Tehran's strategy different from Pyongyang's? These and other questions will be the subject of an AEI panel discussion with Michael Connell, an Iran specialist at the Center for Naval Analyses; Danielle Pletka, AEI vice president for foreign and defense policy studies; and AEI scholars Nicholas Eberstadt, Michael Rubin, and Gary Schmitt. AEI resident scholar Frederick W. Kagan will moderate.

Speaker biographies Michael Connell is an analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA). While at CNA, Dr. Connell has directed or authored several studies focusing on political, military, and security issues in the Middle East and south Asia. During the course of his military and academic careers, he has traveled extensively in those regions. He specializes in Iranian history and politics, and is currently conducting research on the role of the Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iranian national security decision-making.

Before joining CNA, Dr. Connell served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army.

Nicholas Eberstadt is the Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy at AEI and senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research in Seattle. He serves on the advisory board of the Korea Economic Institute of America and is a founding member of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Mr. Eberstadt regularly consults for governmental and international organizations, including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. State Department, USAID, and World Bank. In 2006, he was appointed to the President’s Council on Bioethics. He has published over 300 studies and articles in scholarly and popular journals, mainly on topics in demography, international development, and East Asian security. His dozen-plus books and monographs include The Poverty of Communism (Transaction, 1988), The Population of North Korea (Institute for East Asian Studies, 1992), The Tyranny of Numbers (AEI Press, 1995), The End of North Korea (AEI Press, 1999), Korea's Future and the Great Power (National Bureau of Asian Research, 2001) and the forthcoming North Korea's Economy Between Crisis and Catastrophe (Transaction Books).

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. Her research areas include the Middle East, south Asia, terrorism, and weapons proliferation. While at AEI, Ms. Pletka developed a conference series on rebuilding post-Saddam Iraq and a project on democracy in the Arab world. She recently served as a member of the congressionally-mandated Task Force on the United Nations, established by the United States Institute of Peace. Before coming to AEI, she served for ten years as a senior professional staff member for the Near East and south Asia on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar in foreign policy studies at AEI, where he studies Arab democracy, Kurdish society, and domestic politics in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Prior to joining AEI, he served as a political advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004. Previously, he was a staff advisor for Iran and Iraq in the Office of the Secretary of Defense during 2002–2004. He is currently the editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

Gary Schmitt is a resident scholar and director of AEI’s Program on Advanced Strategic Studies. Prior to coming to AEI, he helped found and served as executive director of the Project for the New American Century, a Washington-based foreign and defense policy think tank. In the early 1980s, Dr. Schmitt was a member of the professional staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and, from 1982–1984, served as the committee’s minority staff director. In 1984, he was appointed by President Reagan to the post of executive director of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the White House. Dr. Schmitt has written books and articles about a number of topics, including the American founding, the U.S. presidency, the American political system, intelligence and national security affairs.

Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar in defense and security policy studies. Previously he was an associate professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He is the coauthor of While America Sleeps: Self-Delusion, Military Weakness, and the Threat to Peace Today (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), and has written numerous articles on defense and foreign policy issues for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Weekly Standard, Policy Review, Commentary, Parameters, and other periodicals. His book Finding the Target (Encounter Books), an examination of military transformation, will come out later this year.

Militants Blow Up Pakistan Railway Track to Iran
July 01, 2006 Reuters Reuters
link to original article

QUETTA, Pakistan -- Suspected tribal militants, fighting for greater political and economic autonomy, blew up a railway line linking southwestern Pakistan to Iran early on Saturday, a railway official said. Four bombs exploded at the railway track near the town of Noshki in southern Baluchistan province several hours before the train bound for the Iranian border town of Zahedan was due to pass. Noshki is 60 miles southwest of Quetta, capital of Baluchistan. "The train was stopped shortly after it left Quetta. No one was hurt in the blast," Mohmmad Mushtaq, a senior railway official in Quetta, told Reuters.

He said a fifth bomb remained unexploded and efforts were being made to defuse it. No one claimed responsibility for the blasts but the government has previously blamed Baluch militants for such attacks.

Meanwhile, security forces have detained 13 suspected militants in a crackdown, backed by helicopter gunships, in the town of Dera Bugti, a stronghold of a rebel tribal leader. There were no immediate reports of any casualties in the operation that was carried out late Friday night, a local official said on condition of anonymity.

Baluchistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is the largest but the poorest of Pakistan's four provinces and has the country's largest gas and oil reserves. Baluch militants regularly blow up railway links, gas pipelines and power pylons, and launch attacks on government buildings and army bases to press for their demands for more benefits from oil and gas exploration.

The simmering revolt escalated in December when rebels fired rockets during a visit by President Pervez Musharraf to the town of Kohlu. Musharraf has announced plans for major infrastructure projects in Baluchistan but has vowed to deal firmly with the rebel leaders.

Syria Detains Iran Arab rebel leaders
July 01, 2006 AFP Kuwait Times
link to original article

DAMASCUS -- Syria detained several leading Iranian Arab rebel leaders yesterday, a human rights group said, voicing concern for their fate if they are handed over to Damascus's key regional ally Tehran.

"The Syrian authorities have arrested several officials of the Ahvaz Arab People's Democratic-Popular Front living in exile in Damascus, including the movement's spokesman Taher Ali Mazraa," the chairman of the Syrian Organization for Human Rights, Mohannad Al-Hassani, told AFP. "We express our deep concern about the wave of arrests under way and fear the prisoners may be handed over to the Iranian authorities, a serious step that would constitute a breach of Syrian law," Hassani said.

"We demand the release of the Ahvazi citizens and call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to assume its responsibilities by intervening with the Syrian authorities to prevent the prisoners being delivered up to Iran." The UN agency already expressed concern on June 6 for the safety of four Iranian Arab exiles previous detained in Syria, after one refugee who had qualified for resettlement in Europe was forcibly repatriated by Damascus.

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said at the time that seven Iranian Arabs had been detained by Syria but three had been released following representations by the UN agency. The deportee was sent back to Iran even though he had been recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR and had been due to be resettled in Norway in early April.

In late May, Iran said that Syria and neighbouring Turkey had arrested several individuals suspected of involvement in a recent bombing campaign in the Arab-majority southwestern oil city of Ahvaz and that it was seeking their extradition.

Ahvaz was rocked by ethnic riots in April 2005 and a string of car bombings in the run-up to the June 2005 presidential election, followed by more bomb attacks in October last year and January this year. Human rights groups have expressed concern about the situation in Iran's southwestern province of Khuzestan, of which Ahvaz is the capital, accusing the Islamic republic of cracking down on Arab groups and imposing a media blackout.

Iran to continue uranium enrichment program: Ahmadinejad

Sat Jul 1, 4:25 PM ET

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran will continue its uranium enrichment program despite international calls to halt the sensitive project, state television reported.

"The Iranian government and the people have decided, and without any doubt with dignity and glory we will pass this phase," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying from Gambia after explaining Iran's fuel cycle program, which has enriching uranium as its focus, to Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.

Ahmadinejad is in Gambia to address the African Union summit.
Tehran is under mounting pressure from the West to respond next week to an international offer that would defuse the nuclear standoff.

World powers gave Iran one more week Thursday to provide a "clear and substantive response" to an international proposal on suspending uranium enrichment, but Tehran immediately rejected the deadline.

Foreign ministers of the G8 group of leading nations said European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's head nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will meet Wednesday to discuss the plan.

"We expect to hear a clear and substantive Iranian response to these proposals at the planned meeting," the ministers said in a statement from Moscow, where they were preparing a July 15-17 summit in Saint Petersburg.

But speaking at the United Nations in New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tehran would not respond before late August.

Solana on June 6 handed Iran the proposal from the five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany.

It promises incentives and multilateral talks if Iran agrees to temporarily halt uranium enrichment, something Tehran has so far refused to do.

Diplomats say Iran was asked to reply by June 29, but Ahmadinejad said last week Tehran would take until August 22 to answer.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is to generate electricity and that uranium enrichment is needed to provide the fuel. The EU and the US suspect Iran of concealing a military weapons project.

Missile defense against Iran, N. Korea a thin shield

Sunday, July 02, 2006
The Oregonian

If North Korea and Iran achieve nothing else in their development of nuclear-weapons capabilities and long-range missiles, they will have at least saved the United States' expensive and unproven National Missile Defense Program.

The Pentagon has activated the defense system, it was reported last week, largely because of North Korea's threats to test its new long-range missile. The North Korean missile is believed to have the ability to reach the United States' West Coast. The defensive system has 11 interceptor missiles -- nine in Alaska at Fort Greeley and two in California at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Also, late last week, U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., proposed that the United States move ahead with a nascent plan to build a third missile-interceptor base in Europe. Frist believes that to be a proper response to Iran's plans to develop its nuclear capabilities for what it says are peaceful purposes.

When last we checked in on the missile-defense program -- admittedly, some time back -- it was projected to cost $80 billion and its missiles could not be relied upon to hit their targets. Now, the cost projections are more like $100 million, and there still is no public evidence that the missiles can hit the broad side of a barn.

Not that we're completely against a missile-defense system, even on a national scale. After all, the development of the Patriot missile suggests that hitting a bullet with a bullet is technologically plausible, at least on a smaller scale. And it's the right move to deploy such missiles in Japan as a response to North Korea's actions.

Seagoing systems based on the Aegis ship-defense weapons also seem like a good idea. It's noteworthy that Japan has recalled an Aegis-equipped destroyer from the western Pacific as the tension escalates in northeast Asia.

The Pentagon also has researched a ship-based anti-missile strategy that seemed better suited for situations like North Korea. The idea was to attack enemy missiles early in their flights, before they reached maximum velocity or could deploy decoys. The system would, however, require hair-trigger reactions and might thus be prone to error.

In any case, the broad strategic argument against developing a missile-defense system has been that doing so would force Russia and China to develop ways to defeat it. This has always seemed a little thin, but there are other arguments that aren't such a stretch.

One is that the countermeasures to the missile defense system already exist -- in shipping containers and steamer trunks all over the world.

The other is that, even if you accept the need for a missile defense system, it ought to be one that works. Testing results have suggested that the chances the newly operational system could actually intercept an incoming missile could be as low as two in 10.

World opinion has been hugely tilted in favor of dealing with North Korea and Iran on the diplomatic front, and the United States has always said that's its first choice, too. Considering the alternatives, let's hope it works.

West must play Iran at its game

07/01/2006 11:24 PM By Philip Stephens, Financial Times

A paymaster to violent Islamists, a would-be nuclear power and an implacable enemy of Israel: Iran presents a profound threat to the Middle East and to global security. Before too long, an Iran back in the international community and closer to democracy than any of its neighbours could emerge as a pivotal, pro-western force for stability in the region.

Both pictures can be convincingly drawn. Scratch below the surface of the anxiety about Tehran's nuclear ambitions and most western governments hold to the two propositions simultaneously. The tension between them explains the hesitations and frustrations in their relationship with Tehran.

How to deal robustly with the present Iranian leadership without strengthening the domestic authority of the fundamentalists; how to reassure pro-democracy reformers of the West's good intentions, even as it threatens Iran with isolation and pariah status?

You do not have to sit in the White House to worry about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president. Whatever the leadership says about the peaceful intentions of its nuclear research, the International Atomic Energy Authority has documented an extensive history of deceit.

Now peer, albeit hopefully, into the future. Everything about the social, political and cultural complexion of Iran points to its potential to emerge as a moderate, perhaps even pro-western, Muslim state. The parallel with Turkey is often drawn.

According to United Nations estimates, nearly a third of Iran's population is under the age of 15. About half are 20 or younger. This overwhelmingly young demographic profile is leaving the ayatollahs behind.

There are other obvious markers of modernity: high standards of education, a democratically-minded middle class that has remained tuned in to the world beyond; and, for all the restrictions imposed by the ayatollahs, a level of emancipation among women scarcely known in neighbouring Muslim nations. Where else do the basic conditions for democracy look so propitious?

The snag is that there are two different time cycles at work. The best guess of international nuclear experts is that Iran's scientists are four or five years from building a nuclear weapon. They are closer than that to mastering most of the intricate technology. Yet even those resolutely optimistic about a pluralist political future for Iran believe that it could well be another 10 years before pro-democracy reformists triumph.

The international community is left to navigate the dangers of the present without sacrificing the opportunities of the future to offer Ahmadinejad a mix of incentives and penalties sufficient to persuade him to impose a moratorium on Iran's nuclear programme without strengthening his hand against those who would like to see Iran re-integrated into the international community.

The decision by the US to offer direct negotiations with Iran and to put its name to the package of incentives offered by Britain, Germany and France, the so-called EU3 was an important step in this direction. In its own terms, the bargain now on offer looks a reasonable one. Iran would be assured of its unalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology and would be guaranteed access to fuel for its reactors and to European know-how.

Significant shift.

Beyond that, the promise is admission to the international economic system through membership of the World Trade Organisation, talks on regional security arrangements and an easing in US sanctions. All this represents a significant shift by the administration of President George W. Bush. In return, Iran is asked to declare a moratorium on uranium enrichment and any other routes to nuclear weapons.

There are few signs for optimism. Some of the rhetoric from Tehran has been half positive. But Ali Larijani, Iran's chief negotiator, has thus far seemed more intent on delay than engagement. The regime wants more time to perfect the centrifuge technology that has seen it begin to enrich small quantities of uranium.

It also knows how to exploit the differences within the UN Security Council. Russia has made no secret of its opposition to sanctions if Iran rejects the latest offer. China has slipped in behind Russia in stalling agreement on a UN resolution that would allow sanctions.
Russia's Vladimir Putin may shift a little to prevent the divisions from overshadowing the July summit of the Group of Eight nations in St Petersburg.But as long as Moscow equivocates, Ahmadinejad will grab the chance to divide and rule.

The temptation for Washington will be to force the issue, perhaps in favour of sanctions applied by a coalition of willing allies.

That would be a mistake. If the Iranian regime is playing a delaying game, the West should not abandon the waiting game. The nuclear threat is real but not yet imminent.

Alan's note: Iran already has four operational nuclear missiles with nuclear warheads in their cones, so this "spin" defeats the purpose of real analysis. They potentially have another half dozen nuclear based weapons.

Now that it has broken with its previous refusal to talk to Tehran, the US should set out more explicitly the opportunities open to a non-nuclear Iran. These should include a firm security guarantee.

Ahmadinejad must be seen by his fellow Iranians to be dragging Iran into isolation rather than being pushed there by the US.

Ultimately, there may be little that the international community can do. The regime's determination to acquire a nuclear weapons capability may be such that it will resist blandishments and sanctions alike. In that case the only option will be a return to the hard-headed policies of containment and deterrence deployed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

But we are not there yet. To ostracise Iran now may be to further radicalise it. In dealing with today's threat, the West must keep an eye on tomorrow's opportunity.

Alan's note: again more "spin" far from the pragmatic reality of us being way past the point where negotiation can achieve a positive result for the West. Keep our eye on tomorrow and DIE TODAY? No thank you, think again.

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