am amazed at the fuss being made about the silly remarks of the Iranian
President to the effect that Israel should be wiped from the map.
Of course this is incompatible with the UN Charter and very offensive,
but it does not indicate a likelyhood of any action at all. It is just
talk, for consumption by...whoever. The thing to do is avoid any
response which would enlarge the support for the Iranian President
taking this line in his own
country, while continuing to maintain the strong current EU approach,
backed by the rest of the International Community. There is not the
slightest chance of Israel being wiped from the map. Palestine
unfortunately has been but I trust will be restored. To get over-exited
about this is to dignify the words with more attention than they
deserve. It is clear on the other hand that elements in Iran have been
causing immense trouble over the past decades and continue to do so.
The way to bring an end to this is to allow people to come to power in
Iran with a better chance of controlling these elements. There is no
remove, there is a new generation to get on side with the rest of the
world. [But see
my updated opinion below on March 15th 2008 two and a half years on,
and confirmation on June 16 2009]
UPDATE OCT 29 2005 - It looks
like the above has at least occurred to
Iranians, who have managed to make the rest of the world look stupid
for taking these remarks seriously.
UPDATE NOV 10th - I don't think
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has the confidence
even of his own party, let alone the rest of Iran. DECEMBER 21st 2005
The important thing now is to let Iranians sort out their own problems.
The last thing we need to do is get hysterical about their nuclear
ambitions at this stage. The current leadership will not be able to
hold on by means of terrorism at home, and we can see from the
they are 'losing it' big time. Wednesday December 21, 01:58 PM
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian
with a mixture of anger and dismay on Wednesday to a directive from a
body headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seeking to scrap Western
music from the state media's playlists.
Iranians might not be humming
along to versions of Abba and the Eagles
for much longer, if a recommendation issued on Sunday is embraced by
the state television and radio networks.
"State media should avoid
cultivating decadent and Western music while
emphasising legitimate, artistic, magnificent and authentic Iranian
music," said the directive from the Supreme Council of the Cultural
A spokesman from state radio said
such suggestions did not amount to a
ban, but management would use them as guidelines to fine tune the
The foreign repertoire is
usually either film soundtracks or instrumental covers of pop.
However, Iranian musicians saw
the directive as a step back to the
ideals of the 1979 revolution, so close to Ahmadinejad's heart.
"The news of the directive is
very shocking and depressing," said
Shahkar Bineshpajouh, a rapper who is one of Iran's best-known popular
"I wish those who issue such
directives could be artists who understand
that it is impossible to live without music and that music should be
appreciated," he added.
A singer who chose to be
identified only as Maryam said listening to
music was one of the few ways people could unwind in the Islamic
"Since conservatives came to
power, it is becoming very hard for us to
work as musicians and to hold concerts. I wonder why people remain so
indifferent," she said.
Bands that could get concert
permits under reformist President Mohammad
Khatami, now cannot find venues, musicians say. But Maryam had no doubt
Iranians would continue to listen to Western music.
"Can they stop people from
listening to music at home or dancing to music at their parties? Of
course not," she added.
Iran has an extensive black
market in which young people can find most
of the latest Western hits at very cheap prices. Many download music
off the Internet.
One senior Iranian cleric,
Ayatollah Mohammadali Movahedi Kermani, said
the "traditional" Persian music he saw on a state television programme
failed to reach the standards demanded by religious law.
"(An official) said this was
traditional music, God's punishment be
upon him," he was quoted as saying by the ISNA students news agency.
"Have we been created by Allah
to have fun? They are wasting people's time with leisure and idle
pastimes," he added.
State radio told Reuters its
playlists, both traditional and foreign, met high moral standards.
JANUARY 11th 2006
Once again, it is a mistake to take the events in Iran as indicative of
a real and present danger. However it is right to take them seriously
as the dliberate breaking of agreements with he IAEA undermines the
only basis on which any sort of long term security for the world can be
built. It is unrealistic to hold the point of view that each and every
member of the United Nations has the right to develop nuclear
technology that can be used for military or terrorist purposes. Just as
the use of the space round our planet has to be subject to
international agreement, so the frontiers of lethal technologies with
global consequences must be internationally controlled. Iran is a
country with as yet a very imperfect system of internal democratic
accountability. Power is wielded by a self-appointing religious
hierarchy, supported by a population who have unfortunately been
alienated by the diplomatically and politically illiterate Bush
administration in the United States. It is now up to the rest of the
International Community to impress on Iran that these agreements with
the IAEA concerning nuclear technology are binding. Iran cannot indulge
in rhetoric that threatens its neighbours and at the same time expect
approval for a home-grown nuclear development programme for which there
is no demonstrable need, and which they cannot even guarantee they
would not share to any muslim country that applied. JANUARY 16th
The concern of the International Community is now narrowing on a single
issue: that the Iranian government, not just the current one which is
admittedly the worst for some time, has been consistently dishonest in
its dealings with all the international organisations to which it has
subscribed. India and Pakistan and Israel have never been signatories
to the non-proliferation treaty. Iran has, and undertook not to pursue
the research it is now undertaking. Through signing this agreement Iran
was given access to technology and has been offered security treaties.
What we are dealing with here is an ancient tribal, religion based
civilisation that is not impressed by the standards set by the liberal
west, where morality based on religion has been converted over the
years into secular law. They view the errors made by evolving, advanced
societies (and of course we make many) as disqualifying the leaders of
the international community from the moral high ground. They see
democracy as the breakdown of theocracy and they equate theocracy with
the wisdom of the ages and the aged which will alone lead to their
cultural survival, which is their imperative.
On the other side, we have certain members of the international
community who take the threats of certain elements in Iran very
seriously. These Iranian elements equate the US with Satan, and the
return of Jews from all over the world to Palestine, removing its
inhabitants after nearly two thousand years absence as an arbitrary
reversal of history that they do not accept.
It is totally improbable that Iran would launch a nuclear strike even
if it had weapons in the future. They would be wiped out in return. It
is unlikely that Iran would cut off its oil supplies to the outside
world - it cannot afford to. However, the development of nuclear
weapons in the hidden parts of a country that has access to great oil
wealth and harbours a lot of fanatical fundamentalists, and which does
not take seriously any treaties or agreements it signs with 'the west',
is not part of the international planning that the rest of the world is
trying very hard to put in place.
My personal view is that for the moment we should make sure we proceed
with solidarity, so all I ask is that George Bush keeps his mouth shut.
There is no tyrant to remove. What is really needed is to make
sure that Iranians, in a powerful majority, understand WHY they are
better off with the support of the international community. They have
enough oil, gas and solar energy for their own needs and developing
uranium enrichment technology will not bring them cheap energy or
security in the future, quite the reverse. At the moment, that is not
being done clearly enough. That is not to say that very intelligent
sanctions should not be prepared by the UN Security Council if
relations do not improve.
JANUARY 27th This is a
good summary from Reuters
Iran pledges IAEA access to
former atomic site
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has
for U.N. inspectors to equipment from the former Lavisan military site
in a possible bid to avert a crackdown by the U.N. nuclear watchdog
(IAEA) next week, a senior diplomat said on Friday.
The diplomat, informed about IAEA
affairs but asking not to be
identified because of the issue's sensitivity, said Iran made the
promise in a fax to IAEA safeguards director Olli Heinonen earlier this
week before he took an inspections team to Iran.
Lack of IAEA access to Lavisan
equipment has been a burning factor in a
U.S.-European Union push to have the nuclear agency's 35-nation board
refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over suspicions it is secretly
trying to develop atomic bombs.
Iran tore down a military-linked
physics research centre at Lavisan in
2004 and stripped the ground around it before IAEA investigators could
test for particles on equipment they believed was obtained by Iran for
use in enriching uranium.
Iran says it wants nuclear
energy only for electricity.
But after 18 years of hiding
nuclear work from the IAEA, three years of
agency probes stunted by delays and evasions and Iran's January 9 move
to restart atomic fuel research, European Union powers called an
emergency IAEA board meeting for February 2.
To update board members, Heinonen
went to Iran this week to check on
Lavisan and seek explanations from Tehran about alleged nuclear
black-market activity and a document diplomats said described how to
make the core of a nuclear bomb.
"Heinonen received a faxed
promise from Iran that his team would get
access to equipment used at Lavisan before it was demolished. That was
one of the central rationales for his trip," the diplomat told Reuters.
"We don't know yet whether he
actually got access, but if so it would
be a very positive move and help Iran's case before the board and help
it head off tough action," he said.
"Historically Iran has given
concessions like this just before every
board meeting to negate criticism. They hold these things back as
bargaining chips, rather than giving full access and getting it all
over and done with in one go."
He said that if Iran honoured the
promise, it could fulfil a key
condition set by IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei to ease doubts
that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful. "It would help defuse
pressure on Iran."
ElBaradei told Newsweek magazine
earlier this month he could not rule
out Iran might have an underground atomic bomb project parallel to its
declared nuclear energy programme.
But he has rebuffed Western calls
to advance a wide-ranging report on
alleged Iranian defiance of nuclear non-proliferation rules for the
February board, saying he had given Iran until the next regular meeting
in March to clear up a broad array of questions.
Iran has threatened to end IAEA
snap inspections of its nuclear project
and, as the world's No. 4 oil supplier, hinted it would cut crude
exports if put in Security Council hands.
Russia and China oppose the
Western thrust to refer Tehran to the
Security Council, calling it premature, and the EU has been amending a
resolution for the February 2 IAEA meeting in search of consensus with
key non-Western member states, diplomats say.
An EU diplomat said the text was
being tweaked to help meet Moscow's
demand that the IAEA only "inform" the Council about Iran and leave a
referral motion at least until the March 6 IAEA board, depending on
ElBaradei's findings by that time.
"This compromise could still give
a clear signal to Iran. While it
wouldn't allow an open Council debate, you could play around with it
behind closed doors there," said the EU diplomat.
"This would set the stage for
referral in March if Iran's behaviour hasn't changed by then."
Russia and China are
veto-wielding permanent members of the Council, along with the United
States, Britain and France.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator
Ali Larijani dampened hopes that it was
leaning towards a proposed compromise solution to the crisis under
which Russia would purify Iranian uranium to prevent diversions to
Larijani said the Russian
proposal's "capacity is not sufficient for
Iran's nuclear technology. It can be part of a package and taken into
consideration within it".
But he added: "It cannot be said
that it is a negative proposal. We therefore considered it worthy of
The U.S. ambassador to India,
David Mulford, said last week that if
India did not oppose Tehran at the IAEA, a landmark India-U.S. nuclear
cooperation pact could be in trouble.
"We cannot vote with the U.S.
after his comments. We're planning to abstain," said one official,
asking not to be named.
as fact, would it not
have been better done directly and discussed in private rather than in
FEBRUARY 1st 2006 I find America's behaviour over Iran
ridiculous. Iran is just winding Bush up to make him look a fool. There
is absolutely no way Iran can launch a nuclear attack on anybody, now
or in the future. If it attacked Israel it would wipe out the
Palestinians and whoever it attacked it would be counter-attacked with
devastating consequences. What is at stake, however, is material for
nuclear weapons made in Iran getting into terrorist hands, to be used
anonymously in a terrorist attack in an unknown locality in the future.
MARCH 6th 2006
A lot of hysteria in the media about US military options for Iran. All
this based on the premis that Iran has a loonie for president, harbours
some fundamentalist terrorists, and therefore represents a danger to
world peace. I agree, but psychologists would say: "it takes one to
worry about one." Diplomacy is the answer. Not the diplomacy of
appeasement of course, but the likelyhood of the current Iranian regime
surviving long and lobbing a nuke at the end, remote though it is, is
only enhanced, not reduced, by current American efforts of UN
Bolton and the absurd Patrick Clawson - where did he sprout from?
APRIL 6th 2006 Recommended
listening in case you missed it, on the BBC site
This is the extraordinary story
of Dr Gernot Zippe, a pensioner
currently living in Germany, who invented a uranium centrifuge
which gave Iraq, Pakistan and North Korea the potential to build
Eighty-six-year-old Dr Zippe invented the Zippe-Type
has now become the easiest way to make fuel for reactors as well as
weapons of terrifying power.
his first ever broadcast interview he tells the programme how he was
kidnapped soon after the end of WWII and held prisoner in the Soviet
Union where he was ordered to find an easy way of producing uranium’s
rare U-235 isotope. Having done as he was asked he was freed by the
Soviets only for the Americans to order him to repeat the process for
Years later his plans were stolen by the
Pakistani government who sold the secrets of the Zippe-Type on to North
Korea and Iran allowing them to develop their nuclear industry. Another
German scientist sold his plans to Saddam Hussein who used them as the
basis for his attempt to acquire the bomb.
Dr Zippe remains
philosophical about the chaos his invention has caused around the
globe. “With a kitchen knife you can peel a potato or kill your
neighbour,” he says. “It’s up to governments to use the centrifuge for
the benefit of mankind.”
absurd, but the
perception of elements of the Bush administration as juvenile causes as
much worry to some as elements of the Iranian regime do by being
equally immature. Nuclear weapons are, as they have always been since
their first use, a deterrent. Even their use for so-called
bunker-busting is inappropriate. Nor is it conceivable that Iran would
use them on Israel. The danger is of proliferation from any development
in Iran but even that is no more likely than the risk that already
exists because the technology is 'out there'.
To perform as President of the United States, you need to have a
knowledge of History, Geography, Biology and English. When a
speechwriter alters a phrase to read 'axis of evil', you need to know
what this will mean to people who hear it, not just some leader it is
aimed at but the people of the country it insults . You need to know
when not to use the word 'crusade'. You need to know what goes on down
the chain of your own command and you need to have good idea of other
cultures. Above all you need to inspire confidence not just in your own
countrymen but in all the citizens of the world who value freedom under
the law with some form of parlamentary democracy and free and fair
elections. It is not much use blaming George Bush when the job he has
been handed is not one to which most people qualified for the job would
care to stand for election. This is not peculiar to the United
States, but it matters more when it is the United States.
Pursuant to the above, the latest news from Iran demonstrates how
utterly inept is the use of the threats of force to achieve political
ends in the current millenium. They are counter productive.
"Speak loudly and wave a big unusable stick" is not a good maxim for
political success. It only confirms the idea that your diplomatic
skills are poor and you have only money and technology with which to do
battle. Sanctions are also not a way to get people to agree with you.
Sanctions are what you impose on people you want to isolate and punish.
What is required in the case of Iran is to give the majority of
Iranians the confidence to join the International Community, What is
needed is to have the IAEA given full access. The fact that the
Iranians have consistently lied about what they are doing is not, on
the whole, surprising or even a question of morailty. Every western
country has operated on the basis of secrecy, military and otherwise.
What is held against them is the deliberate breaking of treaties from
which they have profited, treaties which specifically override the
imperatives of secrecy in certain areas of national defence. But we all
know that even in religious dictatorships, and frequently in
democracies, one part of government or the establishment does not know
what the others are doing. What is done is done and we must move on.
Building confidence was the way the Cold War ended. It was not achieved
by the professional negotiators employed to represent entrenched
What is the signiicance of Jack Straw being moved from the Foreign
Office? Not a great deal in my view. He has done a very good job and
until the change of government in Iran he had kept relations with Iran
on the right track. Nobody is going to get any sense out of the new
leader, who is primitive in his diplomacy. The best thing to do is to
insulting Iranians as a whole as it is they who have to bring some good
sense to the running of their affairs. The best thing George Bush can
do is not to discuss Iran at all. The amount of enriched uranium they
are producing is not as important as the state of Iranian society. It
is the latter that needs careful attention.
The mismatch between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
and John Bolton is such as
to make dialogue virtually impossible. Ironically, Bolton is as closed
and autistic a mind in his own way as is the president's. No doubt
insists his vast experience, wherein he has 'seen it all before' makes
any stance other than the plain and simple defence of US interests as a
waste of time. The total certainty that US interests are those of the
planet is scarcely different from the Iranian president's belief that a
heavenly light surrounds him when he speaks for Allah.
For a broad summary of the debate on the risks of Iran going nuclear,
MAY 31 2006 - A WIND OF CHANGE? In an attemp to
'clear the decks', Condoleeza Rice has declared a change in US policy.
She is prepared to join direct talks, together with the Europeans, with
Iran - the proviso is that Iran must verifiably cease uranium
enrichment and publicly declare a policy of no nucear weapons
development. It is unlikely that Iran will accept this deal but not
impossible. They have won the diplomatic game hands down so far due to
US ineptitude and may feel they have won the right to develop peaceful
nuclear power. The US has acknowledged this right. One thing is
certainly coming home to President Bush - however right he may be and
however il-informed his opponents, he has been losing the support of
public opinion throughout the world. It is quite difficult to lose to
Mahmoud Ahmadinejahd, but so far he has managed. Perhaps a bit more
logic and no more 'axis of evil stuff' may enable him to get the
Iranian public and influential educated public on side. Be that as it
may, Bush seems to have learned that the only people who can control
Iran are Iranians.
JUNE 6th At last some sense. Javier
Solana is just the man to take the new proposals of the International
Community to Iran. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5048956.stm Bush's policy [Talk loudly and
threateningly and carry a stick of which your opponent already holds
the other end] was lunacy from the start. Things could have got much
worse. There is now a chance they might get better.
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
Sat Aug 26, 3:55 AM ET
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration may be on the verge of getting
what it has long sought -
United Nations sanctions on a defiant Iran over its
accelerated nuclear program. That may not be much of a victory.
The UN Security Council isn't likely to approve tough sanctions
anytime soon, analysts said,
and Iran can easily shake off light punishments. The United States
risks shattering an international coalition it fought hard to build if
it plays the bully now.
Perhaps emboldened by what it views as a proxy victory over the West
during the monthlong Israeli war with Iranian-backed Hezbollah
militants, Tehran is testing the unity of the international front
Iran has so far ignored an Aug. 31 U.N. deadline to stop nuclear
development activities that Washington and some allies say is evidence
that Iran wants to build a bomb. Iran says it wants only to develop
peaceful nuclear energy, and has made its program a point of national
On Tuesday, Tehran presented a lengthy response to a package of
Western incentives, drawn up by the five permanent U.N. Security
Council members and Germany, to get Iran to roll back its program.
Washington considered the reply overdue and insufficient.
The offer came with the sweetener — a promise that the United States
would join negotiations with Iran over the package if Iran first halted
uranium enrichment — and the threat of sanctions if Iran failed to
Iran said it was prepared for "serious negotiations" but did not
agree to the key condition. Enriched uranium can be used either for
weapons or to produce nuclear power.
"If a will is going to be imposed on us, we will be ready to pay the
price for defending our rights," Mohammad Reza Bahonar, vice speaker of
Iran's parliament, told the semiofficial Iranian Student News Agency on
If the deadline passes without any movement, the Security Council
could take up a sanctions proposal as soon as next week.
The Bush administration has urged just that for more than two years,
while European nations tried and failed to talk Iran out of the most
troublesome aspects of its nuclear program.
Although slow and frustrating, the Iran diplomacy has so far
represented a qualified victory for the United States.
Once deeply suspicious of U.S. motives in Iran and put off by tough
talk from Washington, European governments have largely come around to
the U.S. view that sanctions, or the threat of them, is the best
Even Russia and China, with economic and strategic reasons to side
more with Iran than with the United States, reluctantly agreed to the
carrot-or-stick package now on the table. Those nations hold veto power
as permanent members of the Security Council and are considered Iran's
best defense against harsh punishment.
Now with sanctions looming, long-standing divisions and anxieties
among the partners Washington will need are coming to the fore.
European nations with strong commercial ties to the major oil and
energy exporter would be hurt themselves by the very sanctions on
energy exports that would probably be most effective.
The United States is likely to bow to the European preference for
weak sanctions as a first step. That would leave the Bush
administration making the best of half-measures, such as a ban on
travel by Iranian officials, while pressing for tougher economic
sanctions down the line.
If Iran can split off Russia or China now, there may be no sanctions
Iranian-born author and Middle East scholar Trita Parsi interprets
Iran's ambiguous response this week as a bid to blur the bright lines
of the U.N. demand, perhaps by offering a very brief suspension of
enrichment. He thinks European nations may be tempted.
"Sanctions with teeth tend to bite back," Parsi said, and
European leaders know their publics don't think the Iranian nuclear
threat is worth economic hardship at home.
From Tehran's perspective, there is good reason to stall, said
Council on Foreign Relations fellow Michael Levi.
"If their strategy was to divide the Security Council it seems
to be working," Levi said, citing Friday's remarks from the Russian
Vice Premier Sergei Ivanov that talk of sanctions is premature.
Meanwhile small nations that can vote, but not veto, at the Security
Council are in an uproar over perceived U.S. bias toward Israel in the
recent war with Hezbollah militants. It is unclear how much
opposition those nations could raise to a U.S.-backed sanctions plan.
The United States should probably take what it can get at the
Security Council for now, Levi said. He said mild sanctions are better
than no sanctions, if only as a signal to Iran that the United States
and its partners won't back down from a fight.
"There is no credible threat of sanctions if no one is willing
to take even the smallest first step," Levi said. "Without even minor
steps right now, Iran has essentially no reason to comply with U.N.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Anne Gearan covers diplomacy and foreign affairs for
The Associated Press in Washington
NOVEMBER 13 2006 UK and EU foreign policy has
always been to maintain a mature dialogue with Iran. We should
therefore not be surprised at the following now that Bush has been
given a kicking by his own countrymen.
to Iran and Syria
Tony Blair is to call for
dialogue with Iran and Syria to secure peace
in the Middle East, as Defence Secretary Des Browne says change is
The UK prime minister believes
the two states should be warned of the consequences of failing to help.
In a major foreign policy speech
in London he will also defend the UK's close relationship with the US.
Mr Browne told the BBC change
"has been under way for some time now" and denied it resulted from US
"Our strategy has been adapting throughout the time because it
both security and politics and because the political settlement indeed
will be the enduring part of change in Iraq," Mr Browne told BBC Radio
Four's Today programme.
"And everyone agrees that you can't do this by military means
"Throughout the conflict, for example, we've been calling on Iran
Syria to do more to stop the flow into Iraq of foreign fighters, bomb
making equipment and know how - and we will continue to talk to all of
Asked if the change in policy was the result of the US
mid-term elections last week, Mr Browne said: "Change has been under
way for some time now and it distorts the reality to suggest that that
change is predicated upon a change in American politics."
The White House has already indicated it would consider
talking to Iran and Syria - previously described by President Bush as
part of an "Axis of Evil" - about the future of Iraq.
Mr Blair will address the Lord Mayor's banquet at the
Guildhall stressing the need to "make clear" to Syria and Iran how they
can help make peace in the Middle East, an aide said.
And he will say that resolving the situation in Iraq
requires action to deal with the region's other issues such as the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Lebanon.
He will add that the only British foreign policy that could work is
one based on "strong alliances".
'With or against us'
"For that reason, our partnership with America and our membership
of the EU are precisely suited to Britain," he will add.
"For that reason anti-Americanism or euroscepticism are not merely
foolish, they are the surest route to the destruction of our true
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said political
change in Washington meant Mr Blair's calls for a renewed effort for
Middle East peace, might be listened to.
And he said there had been a move away from the language that "you
are either with us or against us".
On Sunday four British servicemen were killed and three seriously
injured in a bomb attack on a patrol boat in southern Iraq.
On the same day, two suicide bombers killed 35 people and wounded 60
a police commando recruiting centre in western Baghdad, police said.
And the US military said three American soldiers were killed in
combat in western Al-Anbar province.
In the US, White House chief-of-staff Josh Bolten said "a fresh
approach" was needed on Iraq.
Its Iraq Study Group is due to give its recommendations on US
strategy in Iraq by the end of the year.
President George W Bush is meeting the panel on Monday, and Mr
Blair will talk to it via video link on Tuesday.
The panel reportedly thinks that "staying the course" is an
long-term strategy, and is said to have been looking at two options.
One is the phased withdrawal of US troops, and the other is to
increase contact with Syria and Iran.
We have to make the most of our
friendships... with the moderate Arab nations of the Middle East
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague
A Downing Street spokeswoman said Mr Blair would ensure the members
the panel were "fully briefed on UK ideas" when he spoke to them.
British officials had been in contact with the panel
since it began, and the prime minister's intervention was "a natural
extension of that", she said.
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague welcomed Mr
Blair's engagement with the US panel, stressing the need for "heavy
British involvement" in the reassessment of current thinking.
But he told BBC News hopes of involving Iran and Syria in the
short-term could prove "naive".
"We have to make the most of our friendships and build on our
friendships with the moderate Arab nations of the Middle East," he
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_politics/6142252.stm
DECEMBER 06 2006
Iran has a limited influence in Iraq, but will ask the US to pay a
hight price for them to use it. It has more influence in other areas of
the Middle East.
Iran has limited influence in Iraq
By Sadeq Saba
Iran affairs analyst, BBC News
The Iraq Study
Group has recommend that the United States should engage
with Iran as part of efforts to stem the violence in Iraq.
But there is a limit as to what Iran can do to stabilise its
There is no doubt that Iran has influence over the moderate Shia
and Kurdish groups who dominate the current Iraqi government.
The largest Shia party - the Supreme Council for the Islamic
in Iraq (Sciri), led by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim - was based in Iran during
Saddam Hussein's rule, and the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Dawa
party has had close relations with Iran.
Iraq's Kurdish President, Jalal Talabani, is also an old friend of
But the violence in Iraq is not believed to be coming from these
Calls for restraint
Most of the insurgents belong to militant Iraqi and foreign Sunni
groups over which Iran does not appear to have any influence.
And the militant anti-American Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr, is not
as an ally of Iran and is partly motivated by Arab nationalism.
It is true that some ordinary Shias are involved in sectarian
violence but it does not seem that Iran can stop them.
These people are not even listening to Iraq's most prominent Shia
cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, whose repeated calls for restraint have
It appears that the idea of dialogue with Iran should
rather be seen as a proposal for a more pragmatic US foreign policy
towards the Middle East in general, and in particular the
In that context, Iran - with its huge influence on
Islamic groups in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories - can
play a major role.
The American panel is also aware that if Tehran cannot turn down
the heat in Iraq, it certainly can turn it up.
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/6214390.stm
In the news item below, we can see that while Blair appreciates the
adverse approach of the elements in Iran that are causing a great deal
of trouble, he may be overestimating their ability to take the
intellectual, military and commercial with them. It is only partly true
This problem hasn't originated naturally. It's originated as a result
of the deliberate outside interference linking up with internal
And this is the same way Totalitarian Communism came to the Soviet
Union. We should learn the lesson on how not to deal with it. Do not
make any population rally round their extremist leaders. Make sure
their are good relations at many levels. Do not talk rubbish about evil
empires. Do not use the 'rule of law' to put powerless people in a
position they cannot cope with. Do not impose sanctions that hurt the
people while the leaders and terrorists and black-marketeers make hay,
even if they have nothing in common except their own self interest.
Iran is a problem but not a threat, though there are people who could
become a problem
if they keep control of Iran and rally the country against us.
Unemployment is a problem that can cause any society to turn bad.
Hitler took final and prolonged control because he put his nation to
Iran a 'major threat', says Blair
Tony Blair has said Iran poses a
"major strategic threat" to the Middle East and is "deliberately
At his monthly media briefing
the prime minister said the Iranian regime was "deeply extreme".
He called the Holocaust
conference in Iran this week, which had
speakers including an ex-Ku Klux Klan leader, "shocking beyond belief".
Mr Blair also played down
suggestions current problems in Iraq were caused by US decisions after
There is no point in hiding the
fact that Iran poses a major strategic threat to the cohesion of the
entire region Tony
Blair Prime Minister
"Iran is deliberately causing maximum problems for moderate
and for ourselves in the region - in Palestine, in Lebanon and in
He said there was "little point" in including Iran and
Syria in regional issues, such as Iraq, "unless they are prepared to be
"There is no point in hiding the fact that Iran poses a major
threat to the cohesion of the entire region," Mr Blair told reporters.
There were "major, major problems" in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine,
but "all of this is now overshadowed by the issue of Iran".
He said it would be a "major challenge" to deal with Iran.
Describing a "deadlock" over the Palestinian situation, Mr Blair
"You only have to see what is happening in Iran in the past couple of
days to realise how important it is that all people of moderation in
the Middle East try to come together and sort out the problems.
"There literally could be nothing more important on the
international agenda at the moment than that."
This problem hasn't originated
naturally. It's originated as a result
of the deliberate outside interference linking up with internal
Asked about the Iraq Study Group's report, published in the US last
week, Mr Blair said it was still the intention to withdraw British
troops once Iraqi authorities were able to take over.
"I certainly do not take the Study Group as saying that we should
get out, come what may.
"What they are saying is that we have to increase our driving up of
capability of the Iraqi forces, because it's obviously better that the
Iraqis themselves take responsibility and indeed the Iraqi government
is increasingly saying it wants to take responsibility.
"Then the coalition forces will still be in a support role but it
won't be the same as it is at the moment."
He said the situation for UK troops in Basra was different from that
for US troops in Baghdad, where there was more sectarian violence, but
the UK withdrawal would not be affected by US decisions.
"If and when they [US troops] are able to change the
situation in Baghdad, then they too will be in a different set of
circumstances, but the pace at which both of those things may happen
may be different," Mr Blair said.
Mr Blair was also asked about ex-defence secretary
Geoff Hoon's suggestion recently that the UK had not wanted the Iraqi
army disbanded after Saddam Hussein's fall.
Mr Blair said: "The principal reason we are having a problem in
Iraq is because people are deliberately giving us a problem.
"There's sometimes a sense in which, it's as if, if only we sort of
a different post-conflict strategy, somehow we could have avoided this
"This problem hasn't originated naturally. It's
originated as a result of the deliberate outside interference linking
up with internal extremism."
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_politics/6172347.stm
election losses, Iranian leader mocks Bush
TEHRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday
seemed unbowed by the
victory of his rivals in Iranian elections, mocking President George W.
Bush and saying Iran would pursue its nuclear program despite the
threat of United Nations sanctions. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/21/news/iran.php
JANUARY 19th 2007
The US contingency plans for an attack on Iran are in danger as being
seen as a policy, This is incompatible with the theory of nuclear
deterrence. We know that nuclear deterrence does not work against
independent or stateless terrorists, but it is entirely effective
against coherent states. Iran would never launch a nuclear strike
against Israel or any other country under the nuclear umbrella of the
US, or for that matter the UK or France or other nuclear power they
know could strike back. The danger of nuclear proliferation is of
nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists outside the
control of a state. Those who think that even the present leaders of
Iran would make, or even need to make, a nuclear strike, are just
completely wrong. The trouble is the US draws up contingency plans for
everything, but seem unable to accept this practice in others. It is
led by pathologically competitive individuals whose self-belief is a
mirror image of their opponents and whose religious ideas are just as
U.S. plans envision broad attack
on Iran: analyst
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. contingency planning
military action againstIran's
a war against the
country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday.
"I've seen some of the planning ... You're not talking
about a surgical strike," said Wayne White, who was a top
Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of
intelligence and research until March 2005.
"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would
destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle
East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.
"We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an
array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a
path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air
Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target
commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's
ballistic missile capability, White said.
"I'm much more worried about the consequences of a U.S. or
Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear infrastructure," which
would prompt vigorous Iranian retaliation, he said, than civil
war in Iraq,
which could be
confined to that country.
George W. Bush has stressed he is seeking a
diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
But he has not taken the military option off the table and
his recent rhetoric, plus tougher financial sanctions and
actions against Iranian involvement in Iraq, has revived talk
in Washington about a possible U.S. attack on Iran.
The Bush administration and many of its Gulf allies have
expressed growing concern about Iran's rising influence in the
region and the prospect of it acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Middle East expert Kenneth Katzman argued "Iran's
ascendancy is not only manageable but reversible" if one
understands the Islamic republic's many vulnerabilities.
Tehran's leaders have convinced many experts Iran is a
great nation verging on "superpower" status, but the country is
"very weak ... (and) meets almost no known criteria to be
considered a great nation," said Katzman of the Library of
Congress' Congressional Research Service.
The economy is mismanaged and "quite primitive," exporting
almost nothing except oil, he said.
Also, Iran's oil production capacity is fast declining and
in terms of conventional military power, "Iran is a virtual
non-entity," Katzman added.
The administration, therefore, should not go out of its way
to accommodate Iran because the country is in no position to
hurt the United States, and at some point "it might be useful
to call that bluff," he said.
But Katzman cautioned against early confrontation with Iran
and said if there is a "grand bargain" that meets both
countries' interests, that should be pursued.
UN atom agency's Iran section
head must go: Tehran
By Mark Heinrich
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran
has demanded the
removal of the
U.N. official overseeing nuclear inspections in the country,
accusing him of breach of trust, and barred all inspectors from
nations behind sanctions, diplomats said on Friday.
Tehran's moves, following a ban on 38 inspectors from four
major Western nations announced on Monday, appeared aimed at
testing Western resolve over its disputed nuclear activity
while stopping short of violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty
The United Nations
slapped preliminary sanctions on Iran
last month for refusing to stop enriching uranium, the pathway
to fuel for atomic energy or bombs, and impeding International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probes into the nature of its
Western powers suspect Iran is secretly trying to assemble
warheads behind the facade of a civilian nuclear power project.
Tehran, the world's No. 4 exporter of oil, insists it is
seeking only peaceful nuclear generation of electricity.
A senior diplomat close to the IAEA said on Friday Iran had
written to the Vienna-based agency asking for the ouster of its
Iran section head, Chris Charlier, who is Belgian. Last year,
Iran banned Charlier from traveling to the Islamic Republic.
"The note from Iran was not that strong," the diplomat
said, without elaborating. There was no immediate IAEA comment.
Iran's official news agency IRNA quoted an unnamed Iranian
diplomat as saying it had asked the IAEA to "delete a Belgian
inspector from the list" of those allowed to work in Iran.
"Both Iran and the (IAEA) are informed that this inspector
has passed confidential Iranian nuclear information, which was
supposed to be kept between Iran and the IAEA, to inappropriate
countries and their media," the diplomat said.
"Iran's cooperation with the IAEA will continue in the
framework of the NPT ..., which means inspections and
supervisions will continue," IRNA quoted the diplomat as
SOME INSPECTORS UNWELCOME
But he also said there would be no place for inspectors
from countries behind measures against "Iran's peaceful nuclear
activities." He appeared to be referring to Britain, France and
Germany, which drafted the U.N. sanctions.
It was not immediately known how many of the 200 inspectors
assigned exclusively or part-time to Iran were from the three
EU powers, or whether the barred 38 comprised all of them. That
ban included Canadians, whose government stoutly backed
The diplomat quoted by IRNA did not say what Iran would do
if Charlier remained in his post. Diplomats close to the IAEA
said earlier this month Charlier could still run inspection
operations in Iran without being on location.
"The Iranians have not made threats here, they're just
being persistent," said another diplomat familiar with
IAEA-Iranian relations, when asked about Iran's new thrust
The IAEA said on Monday the prohibition of the 38 would not
undermine monitoring as it had ample other inspectors, but on
Wednesday it wrote to Iran to urge it to reconsider the ban.
Iran has brushed off the U.N.
to prohibit transfers of sensitive materials and know-how to
Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It vows soon to escalate a
now experimental enrichment program to "industrial-scale."
Diplomats said the IAEA, in pushing Iran to reverse the ban
on 38 inspectors, did not want to see a precedent set for
restricting inspections that could harden U.S. sentiment for an
attack on Iran's nuclear sites.
(Additional reporting by Alireza Ronaghi in Tehran)
FEBRUARY 11th 2007
Iran, a long established country with no recent record of invading
others or bombing them, maintains it has no intention of departing from
this stance. A reasonable point of view, since they know that if they
did they would be flattened. The US and some others continue to fear
that they are bent on developing nukes to give to unattributable
terrorists - for that is the only threat - and are obsessed by the fact
that Iran has signed the non-proliferation treaty but not abided by it,
and kept development secret. However, it must be acknowledged that this
development is no longer secret, so that objection is at least removed.
More to the point is Iran's supply of deadly weapons to the insurgents
in Iraq. The 3rd message below refers to this
Envoy: Iran poses no threat to
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer
MUNICH, Germany - Iran's
and the country is prepared to
settle all outstanding issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency
within three weeks, its top nuclear negotiator said Sunday.
Larijani, speaking at a forum that gathered the world's top security
officials, said Iran doesn't have aggressive intentions toward any
"That Iran is willing to threaten Israel is wrong," Larijani said.
"We pose no threat and if we are conducting nuclear research and
development we are no threat to Israel. We have no intention of
aggression against any country."
Iran insists it will not give up uranium enrichment, saying it is
pursuing the technology only to generate energy. The United States and
some of its allies fear the Islamic republic is more interested in
enrichment's other application — creating the fissile core of nuclear
In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev dismissed
Larijani's comments, saying Iran's government was trying to convince
the international community that their intentions are benign.
"The fact is that they have failed in this attempt and there is a
wall-to-wall consensus that the Iranian nuclear program is indeed
military and aggressive and a threat to world peace," he said.
The IAEA, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, has said it has found no
evidence that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. But the watchdog
has suspended some aid to Iran and criticized the country for
concealing certain nuclear activities and failing to answer questions
about its program.
"I have written to Mr. ElBaradei to say we are ready to within three
weeks to have the modality to solve all the outstanding issues with
you," Larijani said at the forum.
On Friday, the IAEA suspended nearly half the technical aid it
provides to Iran, a symbolically significant punishment for nuclear
defiance that only North
Korea and Saddam
had faced in the past.
That decision was in line with U.N. Security Council
sanctions imposed on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium
enrichment. The suspension must still be approved by the 35 countries
on the IAEA's board of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"Today we announce to you that the political will of Iran is aimed
at the negotiated settlement of the case and we don't want to aggravate
the situation in our region," Larijani said. "We know that this issue
can be settled won in a constructive dialogue and we welcome that."
ElBaradei's Friday report to board members called for the full or
partial suspension of 18 projects that it deemed could be misused to
create nuclear weapons. The agency had already suspended aid to Iran in
five instances last month.
While the IAEA programs do not involve significant amounts of money,
a senior U.N official familiar with Iran's file said the suspensions
carry "symbolic significance" because they are part of Security Council
Iran gets IAEA technical aid for 15 projects and 40 more involving
multiple other countries. In projects involving other nations, only
Iran was affected by the suspensions.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany all
want Iran to stop its enrichment program. But their approaches have
differed over the past year, often straining the joint effort.
Russia and China, which both share economic and strategic interests
with Iran, have been reluctant to impose harsh sanctions. After months
of disputes, the Security Council imposed sanctions in December that
fell short of the harsher measures sought by the United States.
In March, the IAEA board will also hear a report from ElBaradei
expected to confirm that Iran has expanded its enrichment efforts — a
development that would empower the Security Council to impose stricter
Iran says wants to stay within
By Parisa Hafezi
Sun Feb 11, 4:11 AM ET
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
marked the 28th anniversary of Iran's revolution on Sunday
pledging to maintain the country's nuclear program but saying
he wanted to remain within international rules.
"We are ready for talks but will not suspend our
activities," he said in a speech broadcast on state television.
Thousands of people with banners gathered in Azadi
(Freedom) square to hear Ahmadinejad, who had said Iran would
celebrate its nuclear achievements on the anniversary of the
1979 Islamic revolution.
His comments had prompted talk Iran might say it had begun
installing 3,000 centrifuges at its Natanz uranium enrichment
plant, defying a U.N. sanctions resolution which gave Tehran
until February 21 to suspend enrichment or face more measures.
Iran already runs two cascades of 164 centrifuges at the
Natanz underground plant, but plans to install thousands of
centrifuges and start "industrial-scale" enrichment.
However, some officials had suggested Tehran had no
intention to take provocative steps and Ahmadinejad's comments
in the end mixed defiance with conciliatory elements in a
speech which made no major announcements on the nuclear
"Based on the law, we have the right to have the full
(nuclear) fuel cycle," he said.
"The Iranian nation is interested in continuing its nuclear
activities in the framework of the (International Atomic
Energy) Agency's regulations and treaties," he said.
He added that it would be a "humiliation" for Iran to
abandon its nuclear program and that sanctions would not harm
The United States has accused Iran of having a secret
program to build nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear
program is only for power generation.
Public buildings, mosques and streets were covered with
flags, lights and portraits of the late founder of Iran's
Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and his
successor, Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"Death to America," shouted demonstrators, repeating the
ritual chant of the revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed
Shah in 1979 and swept the Shi'ite Muslim clergy to power.
"I am so proud of Iran's atomic achievements. Nuclear
technology is our right," said government employee Ebrahim
Ahmadizadeh, 24, wrapped in a white shroud symbolising his
willingness to become a "martyr" for his country.
Officials had called for a big turnout to show Iranian
unity in the face of Western pressure.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told Reuters
on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich on Saturday
Tehran wanted a political solution to its standoff with the
West. Larijani was expected to meet EU officials on Sunday.
Some Western diplomats said on Saturday a small group of
European nations were weighing a compromise proposal they plan
to put to Iran in the hope it could end the standoff.
The proposal would permit Iran to keep its uranium
enrichment infrastructure of several hundred centrifuges but it
would not be allowed to feed any processed uranium hexafluoride
(UF6) into the machines while negotiating with six world powers
over a package of incentives to observe U.N. demands.
Concerned Iran would gain nuclear skills merely by
vacuum-testing centrifuges, neither the United States nor
Britain would find the idea very attractive, some Western
After almost three decades, many Iranians, especially the
young, have lost interest in the revolution. But most remain
proud of their country's nuclear program.
U.S. officer: Iran sends Iraq
By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer Feb 11 2007
BAGHDAD, Iraq - High-tech roadside bombs that have proved particularly
deadly to American soldiers are manufactured in Iran and delivered to Iraq on orders from the "highest
levels" of the Iranian government, a senior intelligence officer said
officer, briefing reporters on condition he not be further identified,
said that between June 2004 and last week, more than 170 Americans had
been killed by the bombs, which the military calls "explosively formed
Those weapons are capable of
destroying an Abrams tank.
The officer said American
intelligence analysts believe the EFPs are
manufactured in Iran and smuggled into Iraq on orders from the top of
the Iranian government. He did not elaborate.
U.S. officials have alleged for
years that weapons were entering the
country from Iran but had stopped short of alleging involvement by top
The U.S. officer said Iran was
working through surrogates — mainly
"rogue elements" of the Shiite Mahdi Army — to smuggle the EFPs into
Iraq. He said most of the components are entering Iraq near Amarah, the
Iranian border city of Meran, and the Basra area of southern Iraq.
The U.S. officer said American
authorities had briefed Iraq's
Shiite-led government on Iran's involvement and Iraqi officials had
asked the Iranians to stop. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite,
has said he told both the U.S. and Iran that he does not want his
country turned into a proxy battlefield.
Al-Maliki, who has been reluctant
to crack down on the Mahdi Army,
largely because he does not want to lose the support of its leader,
Muqtada al-Sadr, said Iraqi security forces would deploy in force this
week as part of a U.S.-backed security sweep aimed at stopping the
violence in Baghdad.
"The new security plan will not
start from a specific area, but it
will start from all areas and at the same time and those who will take
part in it are from all formations of the army and police," he said
earlier in the day. The Iraqi leader has faced criticism that delays in
starting the operation have allowed attacks that have killed hundreds
over the past few weeks.
In Tikrit, 80 miles north of
Baghdad, a suicide truck bomber slammed
into a crowd of police lining up for duty Sunday near Tikrit,
collapsing the station and killing at least 30 people and wounding 50,
Minutes later, a roadside bomb
struck a car on a highway on Tikrit's
western outskirts, killing two civilians and wounding two others,
Residents who rushed to the scene
of the first bombing tried to help
with rescue efforts before civil defense squads arrived with shovels to
remove the debris and pull out the dead and those injured. U.S. and
Iraqi forces later surrounded the area.
Bashir Masour, a 46-year-old
laborer, said the explosion blew out the windows of his house, about
500 yards away.
"I ran to help and I saw
destruction everywhere, along with charred
bodies and body parts. Blood was spilled across a big area," he said.
"I carried six people who I thought were still alive but then realized
they had died after being torn apart by shrapnel."
Adwar, about 12 miles
southeast of Tikrit, is where former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was captured on Dec. 13, 2003.
Insurgents frequently target
Iraqi security forces, accusing them of collaborating with the U.S.
A U.S. soldier also was killed
Saturday after coming under
small-arms fire northeast of Baghdad, the military said, raising the
number of American troops who have died this month to 37.
U.S. and Iraqi troops found 14
weapons caches and detained 140
suspects in a week, focusing on mainly Shiite eastern Baghdad in the
initial phase of the security sweep, said U.S. Brig. Gen. John
the deputy commander of American forces in Baghdad.
"With the cache finds this week,
the detentions we've made and creating
a larger presence on Baghdad streets with the establishment of another
combat outpost, we are making headway with the Baghdad security plan,"
Campbell said. "This is only the beginning."
The chief military spokesman,
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell,
said Wednesday that the much-anticipated Baghdad security operation was
under way. His remarks came about a month afterPresident Bush
announced he was dispatching 21,500 more troops to curb sectarian
bloodletting. The latest plan is the third effort to secure the capital
since al-Maliki took office on May 20.
As the Baghdad operation begins,
U.S. officials have been
stepping up allegations that Iran is assisting Shiite militias that
pose a major threat in the capital and surrounding areas.
Last week, U.S. officials said
they were investigating
allegations that the Shiite lawmaker Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, a member of
the bloc that brought al-Maliki to power, was a main conduit for
Iranian weapons. Mohammed has believed to have fled to Iran.
The allegations against Iran
were made briefing which had been
set for last week. But U.S. defense officials said it was postponed so
that thePentagon could review the information. That appeared aimed at
avoiding the embarrassment suffered when evidence of Iraqi
unconventional weapons presented by Secretary Colin Powell at the United Nations in 2003 proved to be wrong.
During the briefing, the officer
said that one of six Iranians detained
in January in a raid on an office in the northern city of Irbil was the
operational commander of the Quds Brigade, a unit of the Iranian
Revolutionary Guards that trains and equips Shiite militants abroad.
He was identified as Mohsin
Chizari, who was apprehended after
slipping back into Iraq after a 10-month absence, the officer said.
The Iranians were caught trying
to flush documents down the
toilet, he said. Bags of their hair were found during the raid,
indicating they had tried to change their appearance, he added.
He said the dates of manufacture
on weapons found so far
indicate they were made after fall of Saddam Hussein — mostly in 2006.
He said the "machining" on the components was traceable to Iran but did
In a separate briefing Maj. Gen.
Jim Simmons, deputy commander
of Multinational Corps-Iraq, told reporters there was no indication
Iranian weapons were behind the latest spate of helicopter crashes.
FEBRUARY 13th 2007
Iran government link to Iraq not
clear, says U.S. general
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Iranian weapons found in
explosive devices in Iraq
and the capture of some Iranians did
not by themself implicate Tehran, the head of the U.S.
military's joint chiefs of staff said on Tuesday.
Officials of U.S.-led forces in Baghdad showed journalists
on Sunday fragments of what they said were Iranian-manufactured
weapons and said that those at the "highest levels" of Tehran's
government were involved in arming Iraqi militants.
Marine Corp Gen. Peter Pace told a news conference in
Jakarta that some of the material that has been used in
improvised explosive devices in Iraq was fromIran and that
some Iranians had been captured during operations against these
"That could not translate to that the Iranian government
per se procured these or is directly involved in doing this."
"What it does say that things that are made in Iran are
being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers and that some
Iranians have been captured in the process of the coalition
going after the networks."
Washington has hardened its rhetoric over Iran's alleged
role in the war in Iraq and tension has been growing between
the two arch-foes over Tehran's nuclear plans.
"I can tell you we will continue to aggressively pursue
anybody who is trying to kill our troops inside Iraq," Pace
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied on Monday that
Iran is supplying sophisticated weapons to Iraqi militants and
said peace would return to Iraq only when U.S. and other
foreign forces leave.
Pace is on a short visit to Indonesia to discuss military
and other ties.
MARCH 5th 2007
The Barnaby Report makes obvious sense, even though Blix, the man who
thought he could discover WMD in Iraq by driving around looking for
the, agrees with it. Pre-emptive air strikes would be
counter-productive in the short, medium and long term. I realise that
people do not have confidence in George Bush's judgment but I think
even he understands that much now.
Air strikes on Iran could
By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) - Military strikes to destroyIran's
nuclear ambitions could backfire, increasing Tehran's
determination to obtain atomic weapons and bolstering hostility
toward the West, a report said on Monday.
The report "Would air strikes work?," written by a leading
British weapons scientist, said strikes would probably be
unable to hit enough targets to cause serious damage to Iran's
"With inadequate intelligence, it is unlikely it would be
possible to identify and subsequently destroy the number of
targets needed to set back Iran's nuclear program for a
significant period," said the report.
"In the aftermath of a military strike, if Iran devoted
maximum effort and resources to building one nuclear bomb, it
could achieve this in a relatively short amount of time."
Such a weapon would then be wielded in "an environment of
incalculably greater hostility," said the report, which was
published by the Oxford Research Group and written by Dr Frank
Barnaby, a nuclear physicist and weapons expert.
Barnaby, one of the few remaining people in the world to
have witnessed an above ground nuclear test, urged greater
diplomatic efforts to end a standoff with Tehran.
Iran refused to meet a United
Nations deadline last week
for halting uranium enrichment -- a process that can produce
nuclear fuel for use in power plants or weapons.
Iran's defiance prompted Washington to say all options are
on the table for dealing with what it sees as a potential
nuclear threat from Iran, and an Iranian deputy foreign
minister responded by saying Tehran was prepared even for war.
BLIX BACKS REPORT
Iran is likely to have built secret facilities underground
as well as "false targets" designed to look like nuclear sites
and act as decoys, Barnaby's report said.
An attack on those facilities would boost support for the
country's authorities, the author told Reuters in an interview
ahead of the report's release.
"If Iran is bombed the whole community is going to be
totally united behind the government to speedily produce a
nuclear weapon," he said. "It would be an absolutely idiotic
thing to do."
Strikes would also interrupt oil supplies and impact the
global economy, he said.
Hans Blix, former U.N. chief weapons inspector, backed the
conclusions and warned Washington and its allies to learn from Iraq, where a
decision to invade was based partly on a false
belief that Saddam Hussein
had weapons of mass destruction.
"In the case of Iran, armed action would be aimed at
intentions -- that may or may not exist. However, the same
result -- tragedy and regional turmoil -- would inevitably
follow," Blix wrote in a foreword to the report.
Barnaby said bombing targets such as the Bushehr nuclear
power reactor in southwest Iran once they were operational
could cause potentially catastrophic contamination.
"To bomb that would be absolutely criminal -- you'd have
another Chernobyl on your hands," he said.
Barnaby, 79, witnessed an atomic weapons test and saw the
awful power of the explosion in 1953 in the Australian desert.
"You can't avoid being profoundly affected by that kind of
experience. Seeing these things explode in the atmosphere, it
makes you imagine what would happen if it exploded over a city.
It's absolutely horrifying -- and it convinces you quite
rapidly that these weapons have to be negotiated away."
MARCH 15 2007
Agreement reached on Iran sanctions
Thursday March 15, 05:43 PM
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Six
announced an agreement on Thursday to impose new U.N. sanctions on Iran
for its nuclear program, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
vowed the initiative would not sway his country.
The sanctions measure
was sent to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council
for an anticipated vote next week. It would penalise Tehran for
refusing to suspend uranium enrichment,which can be used in nuclear bombs
or for peaceful ends.
Iran says it seeks only to
produce electricity, and Ahmadinejad denounced any new U.N. sanctions
"Issuing such torn pieces of
paper ... will not have an impact on (the)
Iranian nation's will," he told a rally in central Iran, according to
the official news agency, IRNA.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr
Jones Parry announced the agreement
after consultations with his counterparts from the United States,
France, Russia, China and Germany. U.S. deputy U.N. ambassador
Alejandro Wolff said the text was not perfect but that "I'm satisfied
with the compromise outcome."
The proposed Security Council
resolution includes a ban on Iranian arms
exports, an assets freeze on individuals and firms involved in Tehran's
nuclear and ballistic missile programs and a call for nations and
institutions to bar new grants or loans except for "humanitarian and
A copy of the document was
obtained by Reuters.
A key element of the agreement is
an expanded list of individuals and
entities subject to financial restrictions, such as firms owned by
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp. and the state-owned Bank Sepah.
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang
Guangya, who had been critical of the
list, noted that Security Council members could still make changes to
the draft. Asked if Beijing was happy with the draft, Wang said, "As
the text stands, yes."
Lower-level diplomats will meet
late on Thursday to begin reviewing the text.
French Prime Minister Dominique
Villepin said that if Iran suspended
its enrichment work, it would receive a strong economic incentive
package, drawn by Europeans last year.
"Iran today knows and the people
of Iran today know that they have a choice," Villepin told reporters
during a U.N. visit.
The new measures follow a
resolution adopted in December that imposed
trade sanctions on Iran's sensitive nuclear materials and technology,
and froze the assets of some Iranian individuals and companies. Iran
ignored a February 21 deadline to suspend enrichment or face further
The agreement comes only days
after the mutually wary United States and
Iran participated, along with Syria and Iraq, in Baghdad talks on
quelling sectarian violence in Iraq, which Washington accuses Tehran of
It also comes a month after North
Korea agreed in talks with the United
States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia to take steps towards
abandoning its nuclear programs -- another Bush administration goal in
Passage of a new resolution by
the 15-member council is not automatic.
South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the current council
president, has served notice that nations would send the text to their
governments for approval and may offer changes.
The agreement says Iran is banned
from exporting any conventional
weapons. But the measure calls on states to "exercise vigilance and
restraint" in shipping any heavy weapons to Tehran.
The draft would suspend all the
sanctions if Iran complies with the
council's demands within 60 days. If Tehran does not, further action
would be considered.
There is no mandatory travel ban
on individuals on the list, but
nations would be required to notify a Security Council panel if the
targeted officials enter their territories.
MARCH 20th 2007
Russia pulling out of Iran nuke
By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria - Russia is bringing home its technicians and engineers
unfinished nuclear reactor site at a time of growing international
pressure on Tehran to curb its atomic ambitions, U.S. and European
representatives said Tuesday.
both Russia and Iran officially say their differences are financial,
the dispute has a strong political component that the West hopes could
result in Moscow lining up closer behind U.S.-led efforts to slap
harsher U.N. sanctions on Tehran for refusing to freeze uranium
The representatives — a European diplomat and a U.S. official — said
a large number of Russian technicians, engineers and other specialists
were flown to Moscow within the last week, around the time senior
Russian and Iranian officials tried but failed to resolve differences
over the nuclear reactor outside the southern city of Bushehr.
Russian officials deny links between the dispute over Bushehr and
Iran's nuclear defiance. But two senior European officials, speaking
separately, said Moscow recently dropped all pretexts and bluntly told
Iran that Russia would not make good on pledges to deliver nuclear fuel
for Bushehr unless Tehran complies with the U.N. demand for an
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's
top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Wednesday the country will
pursue nuclear activities outside international regulations if the U.N. Security Council
insists it stop uranium enrichment.
today, what we have done has been in accordance with international
regulations," Khamenei said. "But if they take illegal actions, we too
can take illegal actions and will do so."
Khamenei did not elaborate what "illegal actions" could be pursued
by Tehran as it faces new sanctions by the U.N. body over its refusal
to halt enrichment which the West fears is used for arms making.
Earlier Wednesday, Russia's foreign minister said it will not
support "excessive" sanctions against its economic partner Iran, as the
U.N. Security Council drew closer to a vote on a new, harsher set of
measures intended to push Tehran to freeze its nuclear program.
Ambassadors from the 15 Security Council nations held informal
discussions at Britain's U.N. Mission in New York ahead of a meeting
later Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the draft resolution.
Germany and the five veto-wielding permanent council nations — the
United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — agreed on the modest
package of new sanctions Thursday to step up pressure on Iran to
suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce nuclear energy
or nuclear weapons.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow "will not support
excessive sanctions against Iran," and added that the draft resolution
has been softened at Moscow's behest.
Lavrov also denied claims that Moscow had told Iran it would not
deliver nuclear fuel for the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant
in southern Iran unless Tehran complies with U.N. demands.
"There is no link whatsoever between the U.N. resolution ... and the
implementation of the Bushehr project," he told lawmakers in the lower
The proposed new sanctions in the draft resolution would ban Iranian
arms exports and freeze the assets of 28 additional individuals and
organizations involved in the country's nuclear and missile programs —
about a third linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, an elite military
The package also calls for voluntary restrictions on travel by the
individuals subject to sanctions, on arms sales to Iran, and on new
financial assistance or loans to the Iranian government.
Lavrov said an earlier, tougher version of the draft resolution that
included broader restrictions on officials' travel and a ban on credits
to Iran had been softened on Russia's advice. "We ... have agreed to
influence Iran by gradually applying proportionate pressure," Lavrov
At Russia's insistence, neither the existing Security Council
resolution nor the draft being discussed makes any mention of Bushehr.
Lavrov said the Bushehr contract is in line with all international
agreements aimed at preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.
European and U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitivity of the talks said Tuesday that Moscow had
bluntly told Tehran it would not ship fuel for Bushehr until Tehran
freezes its uranium enrichment program, as demanded by the U.N.
Lavrov dismissed the claims as an "unscrupulous trick."
"It's not the first time that we are seeing such an unscrupulous
approach aimed at driving a wedge between us and Iran," he said.
Russia has said fuel for Bushehr would not be supplied this month,
as had been planned earlier, because of alleged Iranian payment delays
that prompted Moscow to indefinitely postpone the Bushehr reactor's
launch, which had been set for September. Russian officials also said
that the number of workers at Bushehr had dwindled due to the funding
Iran angrily denied falling behind in payments and accused Russia of
caving in to U.S. pressure to take a tougher line on Tehran. Iranian
state television on Tuesday described Russia as an "unreliable
partner," adding: "It is clear that Russia has stopped construction of
this plant under pressure and for political reasons."
On Wednesday, Lavrov repeated Russia's assertions that Iran had
dragged its feet on payments for Bushehr.
"Regrettably, our Iranian colleagues aren't telling the truth
when they blame Russia for the financial problems which have emerged.
Financial problems do exist, but they are linked to the Iranian side
breaching an earlier-agreed schedule of payments," he said.
MARCH 23rd 2007 ANOTHER TYPICAL
DELIBERATE WIND-UP FROM THE JUVENILE IRAN SHOW
CLEAR THE SUSPECTED SMUGGLERS WERE A SET UP FOR AN AN AMBUSH Britain
By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Iranian naval vessels on Friday seized 15
British sailors and marines in disputed Persian Gulf waters off the
coast of Iraq,
a time of high
tension between the West and Iran, which accused the British of
intruding on its territory.
British government protested immediately, saying the 15 were taken
captive in Iraqi waters and summoning the Iranian ambassador in London
to the Foreign Office: "He was left in no doubt that we want them
back," Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said after the
Britain's Defense Ministry said the Royal Navy personnel were "engaged
in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi
territorial waters," and had completed a ship inspection when they were
accosted by the Iranian vessels.
MARCH 24th 2007
Security Council slaps new UN
sanctions on Iran
by Gerard Aziakou
Sat Mar 24, 7:26 PM ET
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN Security Council Saturday slapped new
sanctions on Iran
over its suspect nuclear program as Western powers warned Tehran it
faced becoming even more internationally isolated.
The council's 15 members unanimously adopted Resolution 1747,
co-sponsored by Britain, France and non-member Germany, broadening UN
sanctions imposed on Iran in December for spurning repeated demands to
suspend sensitive uranium enrichment.
"The unanimous adoption of this resolution reflects the international
community's profound concern over Iran's nuclear program," said
Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, one of the sponsors.
But foreign ministers of veto-wielding council members China, France,
Russia, Britain and the United States plus non-member Germany also
issued a statement proposing "further talks with the Islamic Republic
of Iran to see if a mutually acceptable way can be found to open
In a statement released by the US State Department and endorsed by the European Union,
the six reaffirmed their commitment "to a negotiated solution (with
Iran) that would address the international community's concerns."
But speaking at the United
after the vote, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki swiftly
dismissed the UN sanctions as "unlawful" and "unjustifiable actions"
orchestrated by a few of its members.
The important thing now is just to
play the incident of the arrested UK service personnel very cool. Iran
is a confused society (not that others are not) and there is no point
in strutting our stuff politically. They will cool down. EU and UN
solidarity is the order of the day.
a very serious situation and there is no doubt at
all that these people were taken from a boat in Iraqi waters,"
Blair told reporters at a European Union summit in Berlin.
MARCH 27th 2007
I did not imagine when I wrote the above that we would have some idiots
in the UK getting their knickers in a twist over this supremely trivial
episode. The last thing that is required is military action. That is
what the Israelis do when one of their little soldiers is kidnapped,
thereby causing an orgy of bombing and shooting and almost a civil war
in Lebanon. Nor do we want a prisoner exchange, releasing those who
were legitimately detained on suspicion of terrorism in exchange for
servicemen on a UN approved mission,
Our sailors are not being abused. Iran is a confused society that needs
help, not bombing or publicly humiliating. They are embarrassed enough
by their President and their terrorists, just a we are embarrassed by
our football supporters, some of our soldiers (thankfully few) and the
head of state of our chief ally.
UK in 'discreet talks' with Iran
is attempting to "discreetly" talk to the Iranians to
secure the release of 15 Royal Navy personnel, Downing Street has said.
Tony Blair's spokesman said that if the talks were unsuccessful,
the government may have to become "more explicit".
He said they were "utterly confident" the 15 had been in Iraqi, not
Iranian, waters, when they were captured.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett will shorten a visit
to Turkey to fly home to help manage the crisis.
The 15 sailors and marines from HMS Cornwall were captured on Friday
after searching a boat in the Gulf, off the coast of Iraq, which they
suspected was smuggling cars.
Iran says the British personnel were trespassing in Iranian waters
they were seized - but the prime minister said the group were in Iraqi
waters under a UN mandate.
The prime minister's spokesman said the matter was
being dealt with "privately" but the Iranians could be "in no doubt
that we expect the immediate release of our personnel".
Earlier, Mr Blair warned of a "different phase" if diplomacy failed
to secure their release.
His spokesman said he was referring to a "different way" of handling
talks, which could involve making public reasons why the UK was certain
the group was in Iraqi waters.
It is understood this could include producing evidence
such as boat co-ordinates and details of the searched vessel apparently
still anchored in Iraqi waters.
The spokesman told reporters: "We are utterly confident
that we were in Iraqi waters, and not just marginally in Iraqi waters
but in Iraqi waters. It's a case of tactics and if and when we have to
However, one high-ranking Iraqi official has expressed surprise
that British forces were operating in the area.
Brigadier-General Hakim Jassim, commander of Iraq's territorial
said: "Usually there is no presence of British forces in that area, so
we were surprised and we wondered whether the British forces were
inside Iraqi waters or inside Iranian regional waters."
The BBC has been told the group are being held at an Iranian
Revolutionary Guards Corps base in Tehran.
They have been held for five days, but are said to be being treated
On Tuesday, Defence Secretary Des Browne chaired a meeting of
and officials - under the auspices of the government's "civil
contingencies committee" known as Cobra - to discuss the situation.
Officials said it was intended to ensure coordination
across Whitehall and keep civil servants updated on the latest
Cobra leads responses to national crises and convened
in recent years for the 7 July London bombings, the fuel protests and
11 September attack.
It is understood that while still in Turkey, Mrs
Beckett spoke to Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to push
again for immediate consular access to them.
The Associated Press news agency reported that Iranian
officials had repeated assurances that British diplomats would get
access to the detainees once their inquiry into the incident was
On Wednesday, Mrs Beckett is expected to make a statement to the
Faye Turney, one of the 15 captured, was interviewed by the BBC
She said: "Sometimes you may be called upon, and when you do you've
just got to deal with it and get on with it".
Meanwhile, her family, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, have said it is
a "very distressing time" for them.
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/6500583.stm
This incident gets stupider by the day. It is obvious that an Iranian
group were planning this in order to get a bargaining position for the
release of Iranians detained in Iraq. In their impatience to carry it
out they they cocked it up by picking a position that, while it may
have been marked on their maps as Iranian waters, their diplomats
realised immediately was not internationally recognised as such. They
also know that even if the UK ships had been in Iranian waters they
could not legally be stopped or boarded or their personnel arrested.
They could at most be requested to leave.
I can see no reason to get excited over this or put any particular
pressure on Iran, Time alone and solidarity in the international
community will be sufficient. The current Ayatollah's authority depends
on his being as incrutable and inacessible as possible and saying as
little as possible. He knows as well as I do that his status is all
based on bluff, so let's just leave it to settle. We will get access in
due course and in the mean time I am sure the hostages (which is what
they are) are all well.
That is not to say that quite independently of all this there are not
engineers in Iran who are working hard on nuclear weapons projects. It
s hardly likely that there would not be if that is their speciality.
The efforts to discourage this should continue, but let us not confuse
that with the current trivial difficulty.
UK reveals Iran dispute evidence
The Royal Navy says satellite
data proves 15 personnel being held in
Iran were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters when they were seized.
Vice Admiral Charles Style
said the sailors were "ambushed" after the search of a vessel and that
their detention was "unjustified and wrong".
Prime Minister Tony Blair told
the Commons it was now time to "ratchet up" diplomatic pressure on
Iran has insisted the group were
in its waters when they were taken on Friday.
The eight sailors and seven marines, based on HMS Cornwall, which
its home port in Plymouth, were taken at gunpoint by the Iranian
Revolutionary Guard as they returned after searching a boat.
At a briefing in London on Wednesday, the Ministry of
Defence said it "unambiguously contested" claims that the navy
personnel had strayed into Iranian waters.
government says merchant vessel boarded by crew from HMS Cornwall
was 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi territorial waters
Cornwall was south-east of merchant ship, inside Iraqi waters
government initially told UK that merchant vessel was at a point still
within Iraqi waters
UK pointed this out, Iran provided alternative position, within Iranian
Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman said the evidence presented
by the MoD was "difficult to dispute".
The spokesman added that "the important thing is that Iran
that these personnel were in Iraqi waters not Iranian waters".
Earlier, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
was quoted as saying his diplomats may be allowed to meet the group,
taken in the Gulf.
Mr Blair's spokesman welcomed that move but said the government
still wanted British consular officials to have access to them.
On Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett discussed the
plight of the Britons with Turkey, its Nato ally.
Mrs Beckett cut short her visit to Turkey to return to the UK where
she will give a statement on the crisis to MPs.
She decided to return after a phone call to the Iranian foreign
minister on Tuesday made no progress.
Salah Al Shaikhly, Iraq's ambassador to the UK, said his country
try to help the bid to secure the personnel's release and "the voice of
reason should prevail".
BBC News has broadcast footage of an interview it
carried out last week with Faye Turney, the only woman among the 15 who
It showed the married 26-year-old, who had a photo of
her three-year-old daughter very close at hand throughout the filming,
on the Cornwall just hours before the incident.
The BBC has been told the group are being held at an
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps base in Tehran, where they are said
to be being treated humanely.
Story from BBC
This evening Iran broadcast some
film and a statement from Leading Seaman Specialist Faye Turney and we
saw a letter sent to her family. Those familiar with these things will
recognise instantly language dictated by her captors. She was clearly
careful to use the words they insisted on so as to make it clear to
those reading and listening that they were not her own words and were
delivered under duress. The rest were shown eating and saying nothing.
I must say this is further evidence that in Iran we are dealing with
primitive and troubled people. There must be many Iranians who are
intelligent an mature and who are keeping their heads down. We should
not mock. These things can happen to any society. There were times in
Germany, Russia and elsewhere within living memory when all sensible
people kept their heads down and their mouths shut. You think it could
not ever happen here? Well it is not likely at the moment, but it can
happen anywhere and even here if we don't understand why it can but
Apparently the latest wheeze from Iran is that we can have access, but
to get the guys back we have to admit they were in Iranian waters. That
would be daft, though of course we could do it, as nobody takes what
they say or think seriously. However, a better idea is to ask for the
boats back and tell them to put the crew on trial. I am sure they will
be well fed and come to no harm. At the trial we can produce the
evidence to establish the position. The Navy can find replacements for
the time they are away. But above all lets not dignify this with an
argument a la Monty Python about the position. The ship they boarded
was after all anchored and is still where it was, well inside Iraqi
Those who think our boys should have reacted more forcefully are
overlooking a simple fact: they were not challenged. The Iranians
approached in a friendly manner. Only at the last minute did they show
their hand and intentions, backed by overwhelming force. Remember,
deception is a way of life in those parts, and that includes
MARCH 29th 2007
There was, of course, never the slightest chance that Iran would have
released Faye Turney once they had forced her to write and recite even
the first lot of garbage for propaganda purposes, let alone the second
lot. Much though I regret it we will have to ask our fine Naval crew to
sit this one out, for however long it takes. Although we have managed a
feeble 'statement' from the Security Council there was no point in
going for a resolution or even a stronger statement. The Russians are
right. We are dealing here with a paranoid theocracy, not a coherent
state who gives a fig for the UN. The correct action is to do and say
absolutely nothing. Sorry, guys. You will come home when they realise
it is pointless to keep you. Good will come of it eventually, but any
action now will be counter-productive.
UN's 'Grave Concern' Over Iran Captives
Thursday March 29, 11:49 PM
The UN Security Council has
statement expressing "grave concern" at Iran's detention of 15 British
sailors and marines. It also supports consular access to the captives.
hours of negotiations, Britain's ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the
council called Russia had prevented a tougher statement that would have
demanded an immediate release of the British servicemen and woman.
Britain had wanted a statement
saying the UN "deplored" the Iran's action.
The Ministry Of Defence says
satellite data proves the detainees were seized last week in Iraqi
waters, not Iranian waters.
Tehran responded by showing video
of the capture and charts it says show the opposite.
MARCH 30th 2007
Another member of the British crew in Iran has been paraded apologising
for entering Iranian waters. We can now appreciate that the 'regime'
(if one can use that word in such a confused context as Iran) is
desperately trying to impress its own public and some of the neighbours
and desperate to hide the fact they have made a mistake. The 'regime'
is clearly feeling very shaky. We should not take comfort from that,
actually, we should prefer a stable Iran which has control over its
various parts and an internal rule of law. Anarchy is never a good
alternative to a lack of democracy. Tony Blair is handling this well.
We must be very patient.
One does begin to understand (see below) why the US, EU and even Russia
are convinced Iran should not be in control of nuclear weapons - ever.
If the past few millennia have only got them this far we must face the
facts and treat them like children. Meanwhile the EU has passed a
suitable motion demanding the unconditional release of the detainees.
It occurs to me that as the initial approach of the Iranian ships was
'friendly', perhaps they lured the British boats over the border by
encouraging them in stages, using a number of boats, requesting
contact. The invitation then turned into an ambush. Either way, this
operation was planned in advance and we fell for it, or it was
opportunistic and a cock-up. I repeat my advice - either they are
released via quiet diplomacy or we should accept they go on trial and
have access. If they go on trial, they cannot be said to be hostages.
Iran airs second sailor 'apology'
A second member of the Royal Navy
crew captured in the Gulf has
apologised for "trespassing" in Iranian waters, in a broadcast on
The crewman, who introduces
himself as Nathan Thomas Summers, says: "I would like to apologise for
entering your waters without permission."
Tony Blair said "parading" crew
in this way would only "enhance people's sense of disgust with Iran".
The UK denies Iranian claims the
crew had been in its waters last Friday.
The serviceman is seen alongside two colleagues, including Leading
Seaman Faye Turney, 26, from Shropshire, who was shown apologising to
Iran earlier in the week.
A third letter allegedly from LS Turney was released on Friday in
she said she had been "sacrificed" to the policies of the UK and US
It also demanded an end to "oppressive behaviour towards other
people", including prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the BBC has been able to confirm the names of six of the
15 captured sailors.
Along with LS Turney and seaman Summers, who is from Cornwall, they
Paul Barton from Southport, Danny Masterton from Ayrshire, Joe Tindall
from south London and Adam Sperry from Leicester.
The UK prime minister said the only possible outcome to the
situation was the release of the crew.
Britain was pursuing the problem with "firmness and determination"
but also with patience, he said.
Mr Blair said: "I really don't know why the Iranian regime keep
this. All it does is enhance people's sense of disgust at captured
personnel being paraded and manipulated in this way.
"It doesn't fool anyone. And what the Iranians have to
realise is if they continue in this way they will face increasing
UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett described the latest footage
as "quite appalling" and "blatant propaganda".
She also disclosed there was nothing in a formal letter from the
Iranians to the UK that suggested they were looking for a solution to
"this difficult situation".
The note condemned the navy's "illegal act" and said "similar acts
had taken place in the past" despite "prior warning".
It is perfectly obvious these
people were in Iraqi waters under a United Nations mandate Tony
It also demanded guarantees against "the recurrence of such acts"
in the future.
Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Britain must
"In recent years British forces have violated international law and
crossed the Iranian border," he said.
Meanwhile Whitehall sources told the BBC that procedures for
in the Gulf close to the Iran-Iraq maritime border - and the equipping
of British forces there - were both under review.
In the latest video, the crewman says he has been in the navy for
two years, "operating mechanical warfare".
He then says: "Since we've been arrested in Iran our treatment has
been very friendly.
1 Crew boards merchant ship 1.7NM
inside Iraqi waters 2 HMS Cornwall was south-east of
this, and inside Iraqi waters 3 Iran tells UK that merchant ship
was at a different point, still within Iraqi waters 4 After UK points this out, Iran
provides alternative position, now within Iranian waters
"We have not been harmed at all. They've looked after us really
"The food they've been serving us is good and I am grateful that no
harm has come to us.
"I would just like to apologise for entering your waters without
permission. And that happened back in 2004, and the government promised
that it wouldn't happen again.
VERSION OF EVENTS
1 Royal Navy crew stray 0.5km inside
Iranian waters 2 Iran gives set of co-ordinates to
back up their claims 3 According to seized GPS equipment,
the Royal Navy crew had previously entered Iranian waters at several
other points 4 Iran informs Britain of the
position where the crew were seized, inside Iranian waters
"Again I deeply apologise for entering your waters."
Earlier, the UN Security Council agreed a statement voicing "grave
concern" at Iran's actions.
The statement also calls on Tehran to allow the UK consular access
the personnel and urges an "early resolution", including release of the
crew, but stops short of "deploring" Iran's action, as requested by the
Iran's UN mission said Britain's attempt to involve other nations
in the crisis was "not helpful".
European Union foreign ministers are expected to express their
solidarity with the UK at a meeting in Germany.
The Britons, based on HMS Cornwall, were seized a week ago by
Revolutionary Guards as they returned from searching a vessel in the
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/6509813.stm
The US is quite right
to stay well out of this affair.
Though Bush has now said Iran must release "the hostages".
US rejects Iran captives exchange
US officials have ruled out a deal to exchange 15 Royal Navy
personnel captured in the Gulf for five Iranians seized by American
forces in Iraq.
department spokesman Sean McCormack rejected suggestions that a swap
could be made.
five, believed to be members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, were seized
in January in the Iraqi city of Irbil.
its waters when seized on
Iranians were captured in a raid along with
equipment which the Americans say shows clear Iranian links to networks
supplying Iraqi insurgents with technology and weapons.
officials have condemned Iran's actions and publicly supported the UK.
BBC's James Coomerasamy said they are otherwise seeking to stay out of
Pentagon spokesman said the stand-off was a "delicate situation at a
Likely outcome now: they will either be released within a week or put
A trial will be fine as long as we have access and right to represent.
APRIL 01 2007
In the report below you will read that Lt Carman says he 'understood
why the Iranians were angry about the intrusion'. That is because the
Iranian public have been told there was an intrusion. He goes on to
explain why according to Iranian maps and GPS info they went into
Iranian waters. It is important to understand that the Iranian
government cannot back down, even if they were to see now that there
was no intrusion, without losing so much credibility that their
authority would be destroyed.
That is why it is for the moment just as well that the British crew are
going along with this, even though it must be putting the Navy and the
British government in a very difficult position. In order to give Iran
a way out of this, they must be able to release their prisoners without
people that they made a mistake. The only way this can
possibly happen is if the crew themselves play along and tell the
Iranian public their government was right. Then there is just a chance,
if the UK media and the idiots who phone into the BBC and advocate
bombing Teheran (yes, there was one, and fortunately Jonathan Dimbleby
treated his argument with contempt) shut up their idiot mouths, then
Iran can play the card of great generosity and peace and let them go.
Captured UK officers shown on TV
Two of the captives were shown in
front of a chart of the northern Gulf The new
Iranian state television has aired new footage of two of the 15
Royal Navy personnel captured nine days ago.
Royal Marine Capt Chris Ayre and Lt Felix Carman were shown
in front of a chart of the Gulf, where the Britons were seized on 23
Capt Ayre said Iranian maps apparently showed the group
was inside Iranian territorial waters. Lt Carman said he understood why
Iran was angry.
The Foreign Office described showing the TV footage as
In the footage shown on official TV channel Al-Alam, Capt Ayre is
shown describing how the group was captured.
He said: "Approximately about ten o'clock in the morning we were
- apparently at this point here from their maps on the GPS they've
shown us - which is inside Iranian territorial waters."
We've been treated very well by
all the people here Capt
He went on to say that the crew had been "treated very well".
Lt Carman also pointed to the map to indicate where the crew had
captured and said he understood why the Iranians were "angry about the
Britain denies Iran's claims that the UK crew was in its waters and
is demanding their "immediate" return.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said: "It's completely
for these pictures to be shown on television, given the potential to
cause distress to their families."
BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins said there
was "no question" that the footage would "intensify" the government's
efforts to resolve the crisis diplomatically.
Although the showing of the video "poisoned the climate" it should
not suggest that diplomacy was not working, he added.
Ex-Navy chief Admiral Sir Alan West told the BBC the UK personnel
were under intense pressure.
"It's very unlikely that any of them would have had counter
interrogation-type training which we give to people like aircrew and
special forces when they go in," he said.
The footage was "a charade" set up for "internal show in Iran and
other parts of the Arab world", he added.
Iranian students earlier threw stones and firecrackers at the
embassy in the capital Tehran in protest against what they said was the
"illegal entry" into their waters by the UK personnel.
BBC correspondent Frances Harrison said the protesters
were chanting "death to Britain" and calling for the deportation of the
The Britons, based on HMS Cornwall, were seized by
Revolutionary Guards as they returned from searching a vessel in the
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/6515995.stm
APRIL 02 2007 In retrospect, this entry was spot on
An American idiot has been claiming there is a total breakdown of
discipline because the British crew have said anthing other than give
name rank and number. We are not at war with Iran, dipshit! The reason why 'name, rank and number' is not
applicable here is that we are not dealing with anything like an army
or even a proper government. If we are to get these guys back, we have
let the Iranian regime 'get away with it' as far as their own people
are concerned. They can only release them of they save face with their
own public. Our guys will have realised that. They will assume that the
outside world knows what's happening. Thank God Maggie Thatcher was not
in charge. As for the Americans, they haven't a clue how to deal with a
situation such as this and they never, never, never learn, it seems.
6:30 pm GMT: Ali Larijani, head
of Iranian natinal security and cheif negotiator in discussions on
nuclear issues, gave an interview to Channel 4's Jon Snow. From what he
said we can conclude that if the UK press buttons it's idiot lips for a
bit Iran is willing to have a meeting at high level to discuss whether
or not there has been an infringement of Iranian waters. If we can get
a public statement out of that which does not use condemnatory language
and will allow what he calls a 'rational' agreement on the division of
the waterway and how to respect it, then the situation can be brought
to an end. We will just have to go along with that. That is the way the
Iranians like things done. It is not our way, but our way has its
faults too, so I suggest we relax and go along with it. The Foreign
Office says it will 'consider his comments very carefully. Good.
I think Patrick Cockburn's article, published on 26 March apparently
but headlined in The
Independent on April 3rd, is relevant.
American raid and arrests set
scene for capture of marines
By Patrick Cockburn in Arbil
Published: 26 March 2007
At 3am on 11 January US military forces raided the Iranian liaison
office in the Kurdish capital Arbil and detained five Iranian officials
who are still prisoners.
The attack marked a significant escalation in the confrontation
between the US and Iran.
Britain is inevitably involved in this as America's only important
foreign ally in Iraq. In fact the US raid could have had even more
significant consequences if the Americans had captured the Iranian
official they were targeting. Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of the
Kurdish president Massoud Barzani, told The Independent that "they were
after Mohammed Jafari, the deputy chairman of Iran's National Security
It is a measure of the difficulty America has in getting its close
allies in Iraq, notably the Kurds, to join it in confronting Iran that
Mr Jafari was in Arbil as part of an Iranian delegation. He had just
visited Mr Barzani in his mountain-top headquarters at Salahudin and
earlier he met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Dokan in eastern
The political links between Iran and Iraq will be difficult to
sever. Most Iraqi political leaders, Arab or Kurdish, were exiles in
Iran or in Syria. They are also conscious that one day the US will
withdraw from Iraq but Iran will always be there.
Some businessmen in Arbil scent profitable opportunities as the UN
tightens its embargo on trade with Iran, announced at the weekend by
the UN. As official trade is squeezed, they foresee remunerative
possibilities for smuggling goods in and out of Iran.
Economically, northern Iraq needs Iran more than Iran needs it.
Iranian petrol commands a premium price because it is considered pure
and Kurdistan is eager to increase its supply of electricity, of which
it is permanently short, from Iran.
In terms of US domestic and international politics, an American
confrontation with Iran on the nuclear issue probably makes sense.
Washington can rally support against Iran in a way that it cannot do
when it looks for support for its occupation of Iraq. Seeing the US
bogged down in Iraq, the Iranians may have overplaying their hand in
developing nuclear power.
Inside Iraq, confrontation with Iran does not make much political
sense. All America's allies in Iraq have close ties with Iran. The only
anti-Iranian community in Iraq is the five million Sunni who have been
fighting the US for the past four years.
The US raid on Arbil in January would have had far more serious
consequences if Mr Jafari had been abducted. As it was, the seizure of
five Iranian officials seems to have set the scene for the Iranian
Revolutionary Guards seizing 15 British sailors and marines.
APRIL 04 2007
Iranian diplomat seized in Iraq
By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran - An Iranian diplomat in Iraq seized two months ago by uniformed
gunmen has been released, Iran
reported Tuesday, while in Baghdad a senior foreign ministry official
said his government was "intensively" seeking the release of five
Iranians detained there by the U.S.
The developments came as British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the next two days would
be "fairly critical" to resolving the dispute over a British navy crew
seized by Iran.
The Iraqi official also said Iraq had exerted pressure on those
holding the Iranian diplomat, Jalal Sharafi, who was released Monday
and returned to Tehran on Tuesday. The official would not say who had
custody of the diplomat.
A senior government official, however, said Iraqi intelligence had
held the Iranian diplomat. Both officials spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Sharafi was seized on Feb. 4 when his car was intercepted by
vehicles carrying armed men in the Karradah district of Baghdad. The
gunmen, who wore Iraqi uniforms, forced him into one of their vehicles
and sped away.
Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency confirmed Sharafi's
release but gave no indication of the circumstances surrounding his
Feb. 4 disappearance or his release. In January, the U.S. military
seized five Iranians in a raid in northern Iraq, accusing them of links
to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard faction that funds and arms
insurgents and militias in Iraq.
Two days after the raid, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said President Bush
approved the strategy of raiding Iranian targets in Iraq as part of
efforts to confront the government in Tehran.
Iran had insisted that the five detained Iranians were engaged
exclusively in consular work.
"We are intensively seeking the release of the five Iranians," the
Iraqi foreign ministry official said. "This will be a factor that will
help in the release of the British sailors and marines."
An official at the Iranian embassy confirmed Sharafi's release, but
said he did not know who was responsible for freeing him: "He was
kidnapped and I don't have further details," said the official, who was
not authorized to speak to the media and commented only on condition of
The developments come amid signs that Britain and Iran were seeking
to resolve the dispute over the seized British crew.
Iran maintains the British sailors had encroached on Iranian
territory and that it had no intention of offering to swap them for
Iranians held in Iraq. Britain insists its service members were in
Iraqi waters and has demanded their unconditional release.
The chief Iranian negotiator, Ali Larijani, told Britain's Channel 4
news Monday through an interpreter that Iranian officials "definitely
believe that this issue can be resolved and there is no need for any
Blair told Scotland's Real Radio that if Iran wants to resolve the
standoff with diplomacy, "the door is open."
Britain had two options, Blair said.
"One is to try settle this by way of peaceful and calm negotiation
to get our people back as quickly as possible," he said. "The other is
to make it clear that if that is not possible that we have to take an
increasingly tougher position."
The 15 British sailors and marines were captured by Iranian forces
in the Persian Gulf on March 23. They were detained while patrolling
for smugglers near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab, a waterway that has
long been a disputed dividing line between Iraq and Iran.
On Monday, an Iranian state-run television station said all 15 of
the detained Royal Navy personnel had confessed to illegally entering
Iranian waters before they were captured.
However, Iranian state-run radio said the confessions would not
be broadcast because of what it called "positive changes" in the
negotiating stance of Britain, whose leaders have been angered by the
airing of videos of the captives.
The radio did not elaborate on the supposed changes by the
British. But in London, a British official, speaking on condition of
anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Prime Minister
Tony Blair's government had agreed to consider ways to avoid such
situations in the future.
The official insisted Britain was not negotiating with the Iranians
and still wanted the captives freed unconditionally.
Larijani also urged Britain to guarantee "that such violation
will not be repeated," but avoided repeating Tehran's demand for an
apology. British leaders have insisted they have no reason to
The comments suggested the sides were seeking a face-facing
formula in which each could argue its interests were upheld while the
captives could go free. Under such a formula, Iran could claim Britain
tacitly acknowledged the border area is in dispute, and Britain could
maintain it never apologized.
A generation ago, such a formula helped free Americans held by
Tehran for 444 days. The United States pledged not to interfere in
Iranian affairs, enabling the hostage takers to claim they had achieved
Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad, Robert
H. Reid in Amman, Jordan, and David Stringer in London, contributed to
Boundary experts say Britain,
Iran can agree deal
By Luke Baker
LONDON (Reuters) - Shifting sands and a poorly defined
maritime border could give Britain and Iran enough room to save
face in their 12-day stand-off over a group of detained British
sailors and marines, border experts say.
Because the maritime boundaries off the Shatt al-Arab
waterway, drawn up in 1975 but not updated since, are open to a
certain degree of interpretation, Britain and Iran could "agree
to disagree" over exactly who crossed into whose territory.
British Prime Minister Tony
Blair said on Tuesday the next
48 hours could prove critical as both the British and Iranian
governments have sought to moderate their positions after
several days of heightened tension.
"It's certainly not an irresolvable dispute," said Martin
Pratt, the director of the International Boundaries Research
Unit at Britain's Durham University.
"The fact that the coastline is constantly shifting means
more issues would need to be taken into consideration than if
the coastlines were more stable and there was agreement on
exactly where the baselines along the coast were."
Both the Iranian and British governments appear to have
softened their stances in the past 24 hours, with each
highlighting their desire to reach a negotiated solution.
Pratt said that suggested both realized they couldn't
afford to be too insistent about an issue that comes down to
who says where exactly an incident occurred on a disputed
"You can't be dogmatic about a maritime boundary that
hasn't been properly agreed," he said.
Maritime lawyers said they expected British and Iranian
officials to be able to sort out the wording of any agreement
themselves, without turning to an outside arbiter such as the United Nations,
which has handled maritime disputes in the
On Monday, Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme
National Security Council, called for a "delegation" to
determine whether the British sailors were in Iran or not, but
didn't define what sort of delegation.
"I think there's plenty of scope in the uncertainty of the
situation to be able to craft some kind of solution," said
Richard Harvey, the head of admiralty and casualty practice at
law firm Reed, Smith, Richards, Butler.
"It strikes me that a) there is a lot of scope for
disagreement and therefore b) quite a lot of scope for
Blair said the next two days would be critical.
"We're not looking for confrontation over this and actually
the most important thing is to get the people back safe and
sound. And if they want to resolve this in a diplomatic way the
door is open," Blair told a radio station in Scotland.
UNFORTUNATELY I AM NOW PESSIMISTIC AS TO ANY SWIFT OUTCOME TO THIS
IT IS LIKELY THAT OUR PEOPLE ARE INDEED HOSTAGES AND AS SUCH ARE THERE
AS A DEFENCE. IRAN INTENDS TO IGNORE ALL UN, EU AND AMERICAN WISHES,
DEMANDS etc. AND THEY ARE EXPECTING US TO LOSE PATIENCE AND TAKE SOME
ACTION LIKE TOUGHER SANCTIONS. THE HOSTAGES ARE THEIR DEFENCE AGAINST
ANY SUCH ACTION O ANYTHING STRONGER. HOSTAGE TAKING IS A CLASSICAL TOOL
IN MIDDLE-EASTERN WARFARE AND POLITICAL NEGOTIATION.
ON THE OTHER HAND IF WE CAN MANAGE TO HELP SOME OF THE SANE PEOPLE IN
POSITIONS OF INFLUENCE TO COME UP WITH A FORMULA THAT WORKS, WHICH
MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR ARMEDINEJAD AND THE AYATOLLAH WHO APPOINTED HIM
TO PUBLIC APPEAR TO HAVE WON A GREAT VICTORY, IT IS JUST POSSIBLE WE
COULD GET THEM OUT OF THERE. KEEPING ANY REGIME IN PLACE IN THESE
CONDITIONS IS A NIGHTMARE. MUSHARRAF IS LOOKING LIKE HE IS ON THE SKIDS
NOW IN PAKISTAN THROUGH TAKING A TOUGH LINE ON NEPOTISM IN THE
JUDICIARY. IT'S ALL A BALANCING ACT IN A WORLD FULL OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T
REALLY UNDERSTAND WHO THEY ARE, HOW THEY GOT THERE, AND WHY THEIR LIVES
ARE NOT LIKE THE BEST OF WHAT THEY SEE IN FILMS AND TV, AND SEEM TO BE
MORE LIKE THE WORST. THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO SURVIVE.
BUT ALI LARIJANI IS NOW BACK IN
COMMUNICATION WITH THE UK FOREIGN OFFICE.
THAT IS CERTAINLY GOOD NEWS. APRIL 5th 2007
It turns out I need not have
been so pessimistic in the short term
about the release of the sailors. My first estimate, that the British
crew were handling it perfectly, playing along with what was required
to get the release, which I repeated on April 02, was right.
Ahmadinejad was able to make his grand gesture as predicted.
Unfortunately this will now make it even more difficult for the US, UK
and EU to convince world opinion that they need to take a firm line
over nuclear issues with Iran. They are lovely, peaceful, generous
people we will be told. The fact that they have a leadership that has
to include the philosophically primitive, driven by a divine mission,
who believe that America is home of Satan (instead of just a mess) is
mainly America's fault. The 'axis of evil' speech was on exactly the
same level. The most George Bush can ever claim to is to have been a
Saddam Hussein removal tool. Do you know the guy who wrote that speech
is still employed.... only in America!
Iranians release British sailors
Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad says 15 British naval personnel captured in the Gulf are
free to leave.
He repeated Iran's view that the
British sailors and marines "invaded"
Iranian waters, but said they were being released as a "gift" to
He said they would be taken to
Tehran airport and flown home within hours.
Downing Street welcomed news of
the release, while Iranian state media
said the British crew members "shouted for joy" on hearing the news.
Television pictures showed the Iranian president smiling and
chatting with the crew.
Of course diplomacy
worked, it was a diplomatic incident Colin
Campbell, Stockholm, Sweden
He joked to one: "How are you? So you came on a mandatory vacation?"
The Britons were wearing suits, rather than the military uniform and
tracksuits they wore in previous pictures. The one female crew member,
Faye Turney, wore a blue headscarf with dark pink shirt.
An unidentified crew member said: "I'd like to say that
myself and my whole team are very grateful for your forgiveness. I'd
like to thank yourself and the Iranian people... Thank you very much,
Mr Ahmadinejad responded in Farsi: "You are welcome."
Mr Ahmadinejad announced the decision to release the Britons at a
news conference marking Persian New Year.
1 Crew boards merchant ship 1.7NM
inside Iraqi waters 2 HMS Cornwall was south-east of
this, and inside Iraqi waters 3 Iran tells UK that merchant ship
was at a different point, still within Iraqi waters 4 After UK points this out, Iran
provides alternative position, now within Iranian waters
He spoke at length, attacking the West over its policy in the Middle
East, and it was more than an hour before he even mentioned the
He repeated allegations that the Britons were captured
in Iranian waters, and awarded medals to the Iranian commanders
responsible for detaining them.
It was all part of the build up to his extraordinary theatrical
gesture, says the BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Robbins.
"We have every right to put these people on trial," Mr Ahmadinejad
"But I want to give them as a present to the British people to say
they are all free."
The British government was not
even brave enough to tell their people the truth
"I'm asking Mr Blair to not put these 15 personnel on trial because
they admitted they came to Iranian territorial water," he added,
referring to taped "confessions" made by the British sailors and
Britain says the 15 were in Iraqi waters under a UN
mandate when they were captured nearly two weeks ago. It says the
confessions were extracted under duress.
"I ask Mr Blair: Instead of occupying the other
countries, I ask Mr Blair to think about the justice, to think about
the truth and work for the British people not for himself," Mr
"Unfortunately the British government was not even brave enough to
tell their people the truth, that it made a mistake."
The Iranian leader said no concessions had been made by the British
government to secure the releases, but that Britain had pledged "that
the incident would not be repeated".
VERSION OF EVENTS
1 Royal Navy crew stray 0.5km inside
Iranian waters 2 Iran gives set of co-ordinates to
back up their claims 3 According to seized GPS equipment,
the Royal Navy crew had previously entered Iranian waters at several
other points 4 Iran informs Britain of the
position where the crew were seized, inside Iranian waters
The solution to the crisis - freeing the Britons while rewarding the
Iranian commanders of the operation - appears to be a face-saving
compromise, says the BBC's Francis Harrison in Tehran.
She says speculation is likely to continue over whether
it had anything to do with developments in Iraq, where an Iranian envoy
has reportedly been given access to five Iranians captured by US
forces, and where a kidnapped diplomat was released on Tuesday.
Earlier on Wednesday Syria revealed that it had been mediating
between Iran and the UK over the sailors and marines.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "We welcome what the
president has said about the release of our 15 personnel. We are now
establishing exactly what this means in terms of the method and timing
of their release."
The family of one of the captives, Royal Marine Adam Sperry, hailed
the announcement as "the best present imaginable".
"Whoever has been in the right or wrong, the whole thing has been a
political mess, so let's just get them home," said his uncle, Ray
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/6525905.stm
Mr Ahmedinejad asked, if we valued
our women, why we put them in harm's way. I would ask Mr Ahmedinejad
taking on the task of customs officer, on a United Nations operation,
should involve any harm at all when they were in Iraqi waters at the
request of Iraq, when Iran is not at war with Iraq or Britain, and even
if they entered Iranian waters it was of little or no consequence. The
purpose of their activity was clear and Iran has not even claimed that
it was against Iran's wishes. They could have been advised of their
intrusion, had it been real. Instead
they were threatened with advanced weaponry and arrested. They were
then treated very well for a very good reason: they had not been
bombing civilians or shooting at anyone military and had they been
treated anything less than civilly Iran would have had a public
relations disaster on their hands. Our crews handled it quite
brilliantly and we can be really proud of them. They represented us
The media anchors are still
suggesting the statements by the UN and the
EU were inadequate and should have threatened sanctions. What rubbish.
Dealing with the confused, divided and paranoid is not achieved by
isolating them even further. I have tried to explain this in the case
of North Korea even though that is a quite different situation. It was
right to go to the UN and EU, and it was right
for both to be wise in their actions. John Boulton says this will
embolden Iran and make it more difficult for the IAEA to control
nuclear non-proliferation. It will, but only because Bolton and his ilk
are so unsure of themselves, took this very seriously, and allowed
sanctions or even force to be considered and wanted them threatened.
What an utter pillock that great walrus is. He is a frightened man,
losing authority in the twilight of his life. He is absolutely right
about the bad news, utterly unaware he and his lot are the cause of it.
Never threaten, mate. If you have to warn, do it privately through a
mutual contact you can trust and who can keep it private.
So, summing up, this was half a
good result, marred by public
discussion and disagreement in the West. Iran, where they were (a) in
the wrong and (b) seriously confused, handled it brilliantly in the
short term, because they do not have an open society ad can therefore
control all public discussiom. In the longer term they will of course
come out less well in some respects. APRIL
2007 Lord Lamont was at his best on Iran in this morning's
Today programme on BBC Radio 4. He was deadly
accurate in most respects. Usually I disagree with every single opinion
he holds but here he was knowledgeable and dealt from a pack of facts.
Even the guy wheeled on to put an opposing view agreed with him. But
As soon as he strayed from that, speculating on whether it was right to
have gone to the UN, he was as usual wrong. It was vital to go to the
UN because this was a UN mission. It was also right, as the Russians
suggested, to avoid stoking the UN rhetoric or threatening Iran,
particularly when the Iranian government was on holiday. We gave their
revolutionary guards an opportunity to pounce on a very inconvenient
day for all, though it may have been all for the best eventually as the
Iranians needed time to engineer their exit strategy.
Although everyone feigns surprise at the way it ended that was the only
possible conclusion barring a long-term holding of the crews as
security (a cheap deterrent) or a trial (that would have called Iran's
bluff) and this was pointed out by myself on April 1st including all
the trimmings and blessings. I could have even added there would be a
plea by Imadinnerjacket to Blair not to punish them when they got home.
Although this is
seen as the ultimate absurdity in chutzpah you must realise this guy is
on a different planet. He thinks he has an aura qround his head when he
speaks in public and he was picked for the part by a canny Ayatollah
who keeps mum whenever possible and will dump him if the magic fails.
And can we end the talk of humiliation with respect to this business?
It is not possible for an honest man, or nation when he is
acting for it, to be humiliated unless they are paranoid. And let us
not forget the Iranian ships did not approach as hostile or even
displeased. It was dissimulation and an ambush. Their short term PR
victory is short term.
The lesson to be learned is that our armed services are undermanned and
underequipped. They do that job deliberately underarmed of course so as
not to provoke. It is a peacetime job and we know how jumpy the
Iranians are with George Bush blundering around. But there should
always have been chopper cover.
his handling of the affair
and the F.O.
8/10. Now I see what others would have had him do, and what they have
to say of the outcome, I give them both 10/10. If the readers of the
Daily Express etc feel humiliated, that tells us something about
Daily Express readers.
Max Hastings has done more damage to the UK in the last few days than
any foreign journalist or any foreign power by implying that our
servicemen and women were a pushover. They were on the contrary correct
in their handling of the affair at every stage.
During the Vietnam War, if US pilots or infantry had cracked they would
have been kept in Vietnam and put on TV regularly for months and even
years. There was every merit in their not cooperating. America was
fighting a long war. They were incredibly brave and very correct.
In this case, the situation was reversed. The Iranian moves were
planned for propaganda and the aim for the British was to get home as
soon as possible to avoid what could have become a long drawn out
disaster. Iran would not have given them up without doing it the way
they did. Our guys figured out the best plan (astonishingly well in the
circumstances) and played the game required. They represented their
country very well indeed while doing it and gave all the required clues
to those of us watching that they had to do this to achieve the vital
goal. Had they remained there all sorts of mistakes could have occurred.
When they were taken captive and deprived of all outside contact, they
could not even know after a day or two even if a state of war had been
declared between Iran and the UK. They had to guess what was the best
thing to do at every moment. They got it spot on.
The techniques used on them are standard practice there - there would
reason even to complain about this if it were not that we were not at
war with Iran and they were seized, arrested and detained illegally. It
is to that extent wrong to report the crew as 'complaining' about their
treatment. They are just reporting the facts. This sort of stuff is to
be expected from a confused and paranoid people.
Now let me come to the unspeakable Mr Hastings. That he feels
humiliated is because he is a pompous ass who pretends he has contacts
of repute amongst the military who share his opinions. Let me assure
you he has not. He is a pompous man who is completely out of touch and
he is Mr Ahmadinejad's dream target. He is the imaginary Brit that Iran
hoped to humiliate, nonexistent in the real world of politics and the
military today. I have no doubt Hastings does feel humiliated, his
whole life these days is bluff and pomposity, though to be humiliated
by Ahmedinejad you have got to be a person of no substance at all.
But by plastering this silly idea over the headlines he will have
encouraged the odd Iranian hothead to be even more stupid and make it
even more difficult for us to play a relaxed but vigilant operation
with Iran. The only people to humiliate themselves are the Iranians,
and he has managed to show it as the reverse for his own pompous
It was quite right for the Navy to be carrying out these operations
lightly armed. To have been doing it armed to repel such an attack
would have been very wrong. We should continue the work with better
surveillance and some tough quick-reaction backup, but with the
inspection crews still lightly armed and not expecting attack. It was a
mistake to discontinue the the inspections at all but I guess we were
short of hardware and crew and backup at the time.
There will be no gunboat diplomacy or invasion of Iraq, but UN
approved operations will be carried on and if interfered with will meet
with an iron fist. Superannuated diplomats and pundits should just keep
out of it.
Iran seeks goodwill over captives
Iran's ambassador to London has
said Britain should respond "in a
positive way" to the release of the 15 Royal Navy personnel held for 13
Rasoul Movahedian said that
Iran wanted help to release five Iranians held by the US in Iraq, and
to ease fears over its nuclear programme.
He told the Financial Times: "If
[the British] want to be helpful and use their influence we will
The crew have two weeks'
compassionate leave to spend with their families.
Iran has said a press conference where the crew described being
and held alone was "theatrical propaganda" that did not justify their
Mr Movahedian told the FT: "We played our part and we
showed our good will... now it is up to the British government to
proceed in a positive way," he said.
Someone said, I quote, 'lads, lads
I think we're going to get executed' Royal
Marine Joe Tindell
He denied that the release of the crew was linked to the case of
the Iranians being detained in Iraq or any other case.
But he added: "If they [the British] want to be helpful and use
their influence we will welcome that.
"We will welcome in general any steps that could defuse tensions in
The ambassador also suggested the resolution of the dispute should
used as an opportunity to open up a dialogue between Iran and the UK.
"We share in the British people's happiness and we
believe it is the right time for the British government to affirm its
willingness to establish sensible lines of communication with Iran," he
The BBC's Jill McGivering told BBC Radio 4's Today
programme that some analysts believed "a face-saving compromise was
worked out after Britain and Iran opened up a new, high level and
direct channel of communication".
'Key' US role
She added: "That has led to debate about whether a similar approach
could also be applied to larger disputes with Iran from the nuclear
issue to its involvement in Iraq."
However, our correspondent argued that "the key" to Western links
with Iran depended on "how the US feels".
Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to the US, said
outcome of the dispute meant that "Iran's standing in the Muslim
world...will have been raised".
He said the capture of the sailors had resulted in "humiliation"
for the UK.
Similarly, former Iranian diplomat Mehdi Varzi said the dispute was
used by Tehran "to show the Arab world these British sailors were just
normal people and could be taken at will", therefore undermining the
image of western military strength in the region.
He added that Tehran had used the situation to "project a slightly
Mr Varzi said Iran wanted to show that "if somebody comes to
negotiate with them they are reasonable people".
On Friday, at the Royal Marines Barracks at Chivenor, Devon, the
said they were told by their captors that if they did not admit they
were in Iranian waters when captured they faced seven years in prison.
The officer in charge, Lieutenant Felix Carman, 26, of
Swansea, said the sailors and marines were 1.7 nautical miles from
Iranian waters when they were captured.
Royal Marine Captain Chris Air, 25, from Altrincham,
Cheshire, said the crew had made it clear they were on a "routine
operation allowed under a UN mandate" but that the Iranians had a
They are now safely at home but in
our minds it was never a foregone conclusion that they would return
Lt Carman said they were taken to a prison in Tehran where they
were stripped and dressed in pyjamas.
They were kept in stone cells, sleeping on blankets and held in
isolation until the last few nights and frequently interrogated.
The only woman in the group, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, believed
at least four days that she was the only one still being held.
In a statement, her parents - Alan and Rosalind Boswell
- said they were "relieved" that Faye and her colleagues had returned
"They are now safely at home but in our minds it was
never a foregone conclusion that they would return safely, and so
soon," they said.
The BBC's Frances Harrison, in Tehran, said Iran
insists the press conference revelations were the result of sailors
"being briefed" by the UK government who "dictated to them".
The navy is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the
incident and the wider rules of engagement for UK forces operating in
BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/6534335.stm
There are those whoo claim that the
US is holding illegally arrested hostages in Guantanamo Bay. But
whatever one thinks of the intelligence and politics behind Guantanamo
detention, the fact is that far from these prisoners being wanted back
by their home states (as is the case with our Navy crew and recent
civilian who have been kidnapped) the US cannot find a country willing
to accept those still detained in Guantanamo). The Iranians detained in
Iraq have not been on a UN authorised mission and have presumably been
detained under suspicion of promoting civil unrest in what is a state
of virtual civil war. I would suggest clarification is needed first,
and that certainly does require communication at some effective level.
Force Iraq was not involved in his kidnapping or any kind of claims of
torture Lt-Col Christopher
Garver, US military
CIA tortured me, says Iran envoy
An Iranian diplomat freed last
week after being abducted in Iraq in
February has said he was tortured by his captors, including CIA agents.
Jalal Sharafi, the second
secretary at Iran's embassy in Baghdad, told Iranian media the agents
had interrogated him on his country's role in Iraq.
Mr Sharafi said he had been
taken from his car by men in Iraqi army uniforms.
The US military in Iraq said the
coalition forces had not been involved in the abduction or any torture.
Mr Sharafi told the Irna state news agency he was subjected to
torture "day and night".
"I was kidnapped on a Baghdad street while shopping by officials who
had Iraqi defence ministry ID cards and were riding in American forces
vehicles," he said.
The Multi-National Force Iraq was
not involved in his kidnapping or any kind of claims of torture
Lt-Col Christopher Garver, US military
Mr Sharafi said he was taken from the Karrada district to a base
near Baghdad airport and questioned in Arabic and English.
"The CIA officials' questions focused mainly on Iran's presence and
influence in Iraq," he said.
"When faced with my responses on Iran's official ties with the
Iraqi government they increased the torture."
Iran's Fars news agency said: "He showed reporters the marks left by
torture on his body that are now being treated by doctors."
US military spokesman Lt-Col Christopher Garver denied any
coalition role in the case.
"The Multi-National Force Iraq was not involved in his kidnapping or
any kind of claims of torture that he is now stating that he was
subjected to," Col Garver said.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Baghdad did not know
who had held him.
Diplomatic tension remains high between Washington and Tehran over
detention by US forces of five Iranians in the Iraqi city of Irbil in
The US suspects them of aiding the Iraqi insurgency. Tehran says
they have diplomatic status.
Iran this week released 15 UK sailors it had held for 13 days.
Story from BBC
By the way, I did not
mention it before but the Pope's intervention didn't do any harm
either. A good move. We could have a lot worse. Whether we can make any
sensible progress now is still an unknown. ('a known unknown' for
Iranian: U.K. can help mend
By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer
LONDON - Fifteen British sailors and marines freed from captivity in
Tehran began two weeks' leave with their families Saturday, while Iran's ambassador
to London urged Britain to help his nation mend relations with the
Rasoul Movahedian told the Financial Times newspaper in an article
published Saturday that Iran had "showed our goodwill" by freeing the
"Now it is up to the British government to proceed in a positive
way," he was quoted as saying. "We will welcome in general any steps
that could defuse tensions in the region."
The British mariners, captured in the Persian Gulf on March 23, were
freed Wednesday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called
their release a gift to Britain.
Movahedian told the Financial Times that the release of the British
crew was not connected to the fate of five Iranians held by U.S. forces
U.S. officials said last week that Iran would be granted access to the
detainees, but denied the decision was linked to the fate of British
crew. Britain also has denied a link.
But Movahedian indicated help from the British on the matter would
"If they want to be helpful and use their influence we will welcome
that. ... We will welcome in general any steps that could defuse
tensions in the region," he said.
Movahedian called on Britain to use the resolution of the crisis as
a chance to "establish sensible lines of communication with Iran."
He said the key issue for Iran was recognition from the West of its
right to a nuclear power program.
"That's the prime issue for Iran and I think that could help set a
new basis for our future relations with Western countries," he said.
The United States and allies, including Britain, fear Iran is
pursuing a nuclear weapons program under cover of its civilian nuclear
program. Iran denies this, insisting it seeks to use the program only
for nuclear energy.
Britain's Foreign Office had no immediate comment on the Iranian
ambassador's remarks. A spokesman said officials "will need time to
assess the implication for diplomatic relations with Iran" of the
crew's accounts of their treatment in detention.
The newspaper said Movahedian spoke before several crew members
described Friday how they had been blindfolded, bound, kept in solitary
confinement and subjected to psychological pressure during their
said Pope Benedict XVI
had written to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to
intercede for the release of the crew. Vatican officials declined to
give details of the letter, although The Guardian newspaper reported
that the letter had asked Iran to free the crew in time for Sunday's
Easter holiday as a religious gesture of goodwill.
The sailors' said during their Friday press conference that they
were coerced into saying they had been in Iranian waters when they were
Iran dismissed the sailors' news conference as propaganda — just as
Britain condemned the crew members' frequent appearances on Iranian TV
during their captivity.
The British crew was detained while patrolling for smugglers near
the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab, a waterway that has long been a
disputed dividing line between Iraq and Iran.
Despite the resolution of the crisis, tensions in the Persian Gulf
remain high. The U.S. has two aircraft carrier groups off Iran's coast,
its largest show of force in the region since the 2003 invasion of
The Guardian reported Saturday that the U.S. military offered
to mount "aggressive patrols" over Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases
after the sailors and marines were captured.
The newspaper, which did not name its sources, said Britain had
declined the offer and asked the U.S. to tone down its military
activity in the Gulf. The Guardian said U.S. forces "modified their
exercises to make them less confrontational."
The British Foreign Office declined to comment on the report.
APRIL 08 2007 Easter Day
The report below states the inevitable, I am sad to say. Why our
newspapers should pay large sums for a story of predictable boredom,
mixed with moments of terror and discomfort is not a mystery. They will
hope to recoup the expenditure in increased sales and advertising. Why
our servicemen and women would sell them is because their families say
they could do with the money. It strikes me curious that people willing
to sacrifice their lives for their country would sell their dignity and
solidarity with the rest of Britain's servicemen (and women) for money.
Perhaps they were never willing to risk their lives in the first place.
However, it is up to them. I think it is right to let them, and the
fools who bid for their stories, make this mistake. The one thing that
is becoming more and more evident is that brave though most of our
servicemen (and women) are, some of their families are a pain in the
arse. The money raised should all go to services and charities for
servicemen and women who have sustained lasting injuries in Iraq, and
Naval captives can sell stories
The 15 Royal Navy personnel held
captive by Iran are to be allowed to sell their stories to the media.
The Ministry of Defence said
their experiences amounted to "exceptional
circumstances" that allowed its usual ban on such payments to be
Politicians and military
commentators have attacked the move, warning the crew may lose public
The sailors and Royal Marines
were held after Iran accused them of entering its waters, a claim they
The personnel later said they were blindfolded, bound and held in
isolation during their 13 days of captivity.
In a statement the MoD said: "Serving personnel are not allowed to
enter financial arrangements with media organisations.
"However, in exceptional circumstances such as the awarding of a
Victoria Cross or events such as those in recent days, permission can
be granted by commanding officers and the MoD."
Many people who shared the anxiety
of the hostages' abduction will feel that selling their stories is
somewhat undignified Liam
Fox, shadow defence secretary
But opposition politicians have been strongly critical of the move,
with the Conservatives say a bidding war would be inappropriate and
undignified and the Liberal Democrats warning the strategy could
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said: "Many people
who shared the anxiety of the hostages' abduction will feel that
selling their stories is somewhat undignified and falls below the very
high standards we have come to expect from our servicemen and women."
Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said the MoD's
statement would "raise eyebrows".
He said: "I sincerely hope this will not backfire into a loss of
public sympathy for the service personnel.
"The MoD would be well advised to take a fresh look at the rules and
consider whether they need revising in the light of this experience."
Leading Seaman Faye Turney, 26, the only woman in the
party, was not among the six personnel who appeared at a press
conference on Friday at the Royal Marines Base at Chivenor, Devon.
But reports in the Sunday Times and the Sunday
Telegraph said the mother-of-one had now sold her story to ITV1's
Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme and a newspaper for more than
The Sunday Times reported the marines had decided to
pool their money, giving 10% to their service benevolent fund, while
the sailors were expected to keep theirs individually.
It said the MoD hoped to retain control over the publicity.
But Col Bob Stewart, who commanded the British peacekeeping forces
Bosnia, told the BBC he was appalled the crew were being allowed to
sell their stories.
"We're glorifying something that we would hope would be fish and
chip paper next week," he said.
"Hype it up and you'll have real danger here, because some of the
stories given out by the hostages, even at the press conference, seemed
not to confirm what each one of them said."
Craig Murray, a former head of the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office's maritime section, was also critical.
He said: "I think a great many serving military people are going to
wonder where on earth this all leads and the idea that you can make
several years' pay out of being captured - as opposed to not being
captured and doing your job normally - is a rather strange incentive
The move came as members of the released crew continued to pay
to the four British soldiers killed in Iraq on the day they flew back
to the UK.
Royal Marine Corporal Dean Harris from Trevaughan,
south Wales, said the deaths in Basra meant he was finding it hard to
take part in homecoming celebrations.
"It's so difficult to be ecstatic at a time like this because four
soldiers have lost their lives," Cpl Harris said.
Leading Seaman Turney's parents, Alan and Rosalind Boswell, also
said their thoughts were with the families of those killed.
In a statement, they also thanked the government, diplomats, the MoD
and the Royal Navy who all helped secure the release of their daughter.
Story from BBC
I am glad to see some amongst the crews have had the same idea as I
about what to do with the fees.
Captives' media fees spark fury
The Ministry of
Defence's decision to allow Royal Navy personnel held
captive by Iran to sell their stories has sparked anger and unease.
Opposition MPs said the
move was undignified while relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq said
they did not want to make money from their tragedies.
But the MoD said families of the crew had already been offered
"significant sums" by the media.
Lt Felix Carman, who was held, said
any fee was likely to go to charity.
"I am not interested in making
money out of this," the 26-year-old from Swansea told the BBC.
"My main aim is to tell the story.
There's some people who might be
making money, but that's an individual's decision, that's very
He added: "I think every one of us
has had offers. I
think the MoD has played this quite well. Somebody, somewhere is going
to make money out of this story, and they've said we're happy for you
guys, the people who've been involved, to actually be the ones that do
The MoD said its decision would
ensure officials "had
sight" of what might be said as well ensuring "proper media support" to
the captured crew members.
Craig Murray, a former head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's
maritime section, was among those to criticise the decision.
"The idea that you can make several years' pay out of
being captured - as opposed to not being captured and doing your job
normally - is a rather strange incentive system," he said.
Quite aside from the human
interest story surrounding these individuals, there are also sensitive
strategic issues in play
Ministry of Defence
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said he was concerned
the impression the episode would make on governments involved behind
the scenes in helping to free the personnel, and possible inadvertent
leaks of sensitive information in interviews.
Mike Aston, whose son Corporal Russell Aston was one of
six military policemen killed by a mob in Iraq in 2003, said he was
"absolutely amazed" by the decision.
He told the BBC: "It beggars belief. On the day that
they were released four servicemen and women were killed in Iraq.
That's four grieving families who have to watch the television to see
other families celebrating.
"I'm very pleased that they've been released. But I
think the circumstances really needed to be low key, not high key. And
to actually now go round and sell their story I think it's tacky and
Rose Gentle, whose son Fusilier Gordon Gentle was
killed in Basra in 2004, told the Sunday Times: "This is wrong and I
don't think it should be allowed."
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the
Conservatives would be raising the issue in the Commons and questioned
whether the decision had been properly thought through.
"If, whenever people have been in a difficult
situation, they are going to be allowed to sell their story quickly
after that, then I think we are going to lose steadily that dignity and
respect for our Armed Forces," he told Sky News.
Colonel Bob Stewart - who commanded
peacekeeping forces in Bosnia - said he understood the reasons for the
But he described the situation as
The sailors and Royal Marines were held after Iran accused them of
entering its waters, a claim they denied.
The personnel later said they were blindfolded, bound and held in
isolation during their 13 days of captivity.
The MoD has said experiences of the navy crew amounted to
circumstances" that allowed its usual ban on such payments to be
Responding to reaction to its initial announcement, the
MoD said: "It is a fact that the media have been making direct contact
with the families and offering them significant sums of money - this is
not something that the Navy and the MoD have any control over.
"Quite aside from the human interest story surrounding these
individuals, there are also sensitive strategic issues in play."
Former SAS soldier Andy McNab said he thought the MoD decision was
"sensible" and showed "forward thinking".
He said: "I think the MoD now understand that the story will come
very quickly via a third party, whether it's a family member or even
another service personnel."
PR agent Max Clifford has confirmed some of the group had already
approached him for advice.
But he said: "The surprise was that the Ministry of Defence
encouraged them to do this".
Faye Turney, the only woman among the 15, had sold her story to
Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme, reportedly for more than
The Sunday Times reported the marines had decided to
pool their money, giving 10% to their service benevolent fund, while
the sailors were expected to keep theirs individually.
Story from BBC
This morning we had
pontificating on how, if the returned Iranian hostages were allowed to
sell their stories, it would be the end of all military discipline
etc.etc. We heard how the MOD was out of its mind and no doubt we would
hear from all the military chiefs to this effect, how General Dannat
had already made it clear to the Army etc. etc. and that this was
political spin to make Blair look good etc. etc.
OK, we understand why he thinks that, but it is beside the point.
Details of this saga are going to come out in the press one way or
another. The reporting so far has contained errors of fact and opinions
based on errors of fact. Maximum damage limitation can now be achieved
by the unadulterated truth coming independently from the actual horses
mouths, vetted by the MOD for security. That way any spin and personal
bias of the operation as a whole is visibly avoided and many second
hand versions nipped in the bud or discredited in advance.
That leaves only the question of the payment by the media, which is a
separate part of the problem and yes, in my view, every contributor
would be well advised to donate their full share to real victims of war
in our armed services, no matter how unjust this may seem to them.
If all of the above is done, and the release of the information is with
MOD permission (though they cannot conceivably distort it when there
are so many unimpeachable sources) then no dangerous precedent is set.
The alternative would have been to have a version written by the MOD
and queried ever after by journalists claiming they had another version
of the truth from the grandmother of one of the participant's
girl-friends. Such is the world we live in.
As for Kelvin McKenzie, how that pile of stumbling horse-shit had the
nerve to say what he did on the Today programme, to the effect that if
he were the editor of the Sun he would not touch the story with a barge
pole......well, we all know that's his forte. That's 'what he does' and
how he has made his living - brazen hypocrisy with a straight face.
Keep it up, Kelvin, we wouldn't want you to prove us wrong about you
2007 I am absolutely delighted that, after even the
pond life of the media world including Max Clifford have been moved to
distance themselves from the reality of the world they and their kind
have created, the MOD have felt able to stamp on the commercialisation
of this military episode.
There is now a chance that this can stick, but only because the usual
suspects have had a mirror held up for them and it has made them vomit
on their own boots. Those of us who have hoped for some time that
giving the media complete freedom would eventually lead to sufficient
absurdity and bad taste that, like a drug addict reaching rock bottom
it would seek it own salvation, are gratified.
I congratulate the MOD on its U-turn, and on having it approved by the
public in advance, with readers, runners and riders ashamed of
themselves and yet now able to take the credit and castigate MOD twice,
first for bad judgment (the first decision) and second for
inconsistency (the U-turn). I hold no brief for the MOD or the
Government, but both the first and the second were correct.
APRIL 14th 2007
I would like to think, judging from the article in today's Independent,
that this newspaper (easily the best in Britain today) was not itself
part of the bidding war. But who is to know? Although I sometimes
disagree profoundly with editiorials in The Independent it is a truly
extraordianary publication. There are days when the content, including
the supplements, exceed what one would expect of the highest quality
weekly combined with a daily news sheet at the cutting edge.
Having said that, I remain of the opinion that in general the British
press, its owners, editors and reporters, both represent and cater to
the scum that forms on the ferment of our national body politic and
social. There are some great contributors and commentators I respect
highly - but they are very, very few. As for the businessmen who
apparently call the tune while denying any interference in editorial or
reporting content, this denial is worthless when the bottom line is to
sell as much by chasing the lowest common denominator in every story,
every public fear, every chance to pose as the heroic champion of the
oppressed or strut a self-righteous pose.
Never was a nation more confused, as endlessly replacing generations of
young journalists discover with apparent surprise the facts that our
ancestors knew in their nappies. Today we are told that sunlight is
good for us, with some supposedly 'new' science which is old as
civilisation. We need to be told it is new to excuse the crap that was
told us recently to the effect that we should cover ourselves in sun
blocker. As I have explained in relation to practically every human
activity, it is abuse and excess and indulgence, by people with neither
innate sense or acquired wisdom, that leads to damage. Ingesting
medicaments for amusement instead of emergency repairs is abuse.
Getting sunburnt is as stupid as bathing in boiling water.
I imagine the Minister for Defence could now be hounded out of office
by MPs scared of the press, for giving in to the press. I am sure that
the minister should have told them all to take a running jump, but if
he had I am sure the press would have had his head for that. I hope he
does not resign. I hope this is the beginning of a fight back against
the rule by newspapers and the audience of the Dimbleby bros circus.
How losers in the bidding war
turned on minister
By Terri Judd
Published: 14 April 2007
Eight days ago, at the gates of Royal Marine Base Chivenor, the
country's media stood expectantly, awaiting an opportunity to finally
hear from the marines and sailors at the centre of one of the hottest
stories of the year.
Eventually, word emerged that just six out of the 15 of the
freed by the Iranians were to be put up for an afternoon press
conference. Repeatedly the question was asked: "Will Faye Turney be
there?" The answer was no.
Hundreds of media descended upon the Union Jack-clad hall for the
conference to hear a prepared statement read by officers Lieutenant
Felix Carman and Captain Chris Air.
For the Royal Navy it was an undoubted triumph. After days of debate
about whether their team had behaved with appropriate decorum on
Iranian television or capitulated in an unseemly fashion, it was an
opportunity to counter it with news of mistreatment and psychological
Behind the scenes, however, far more important negotiations were
ongoing as the world of cheque-book journalism battled it out for the
prized exclusives. The one female in the group was considered the
ultimate catch while the youngest sailor, Operator Maintainer Arthur
Batchelor, was deemed the second prize.
Letters welcoming the sailors home were passed on, offering huge
rewards for interviews. The bidding war was nothing new in the
super-competitive world of British newspapers. But this was no
celebrity kiss-and-tell. The intended interviewees were serving
military personnel - a group usually banned from communicating with the
The Navy had taken what it believed at the time was a wise decision
to control the bidding war, little knowing that the matter would
explode into a scandal.
On Monday, the winners became clearly obvious when The Sun and ITV's
Tonight with Trevor Mcdonald boasted a joint coup - Leading Seaman
Turney's story for a figure reported to be between £80,000 and
£100,000. The Mirror had secured OM Batchelor's tale at a far
Immediately, the quality press and other broadcasters reacted with
outrage. The tabloid papers who had lost the bidding game were savage
in their criticism. The fact that the return had coincided with the
deaths of four soldiers in Basra provided ample scope for scathing
The two sailors, pawns in a military, political and media game, were
vilified for dishonouring their uniforms. The welcome home had suddenly
Swiftly, the blame game focused up the chain of command to the
Defence Secretary, Des Browne, and on to Downing Street.
By Thursday Mr Browne was left isolated amidst calls for him to
"fall on his sword" as No 10 distanced itself from the whole affair,
insisting none of its staff had anything to do with the decision to
authorise the sale of stories.
And yesterday, the furore appeared no closer to abating. Whispers in
Whitehall predicted that Mr Browne could soon pay the ultimate
professional price for a Fleet Street bunfight that turned very nasty
Leading article: This outrage over a saga of sailors and spin is
missing the real target
If it is morally wrong for them to sell their stories, it is also
surely wrong for media organisations to buy them
Published: 14 April 2007
The public storm over the conduct of the 15 British sailors captured
Iranian forces last month continues to rage. Sir General Michael Rose
has become the latest former senior military officer to criticise the
decision of the Ministry of Defence to allow the sailors to sell their
stories. Meanwhile, calls for the resignation of the Defence Secretary
Des Browne grow more insistent. The demands for an account of Downing
Street's role in the affair continue. The opposition parties are
turning up the heat. The press and the media fulminate daily at a
Of course it was wrong for the Ministry of Defence to waive its
and allow the sailors to sell their stories. And yes, it is unedifying
to see ministers scrambling away from responsibility. Mr Browne's claim
that he was "not content" with the Navy's decision to allow its
personnel to sell their stories but went along with it anyway is
pathetic. The decision seems to have sprung from a desperate attempt to
score a few points in the propaganda war with Iran. Yesterday's
revelation that the Press Complaints Commission was ignored when it
offered to help the Ministry of Defence to calm down the media frenzy
on the sailors' release suggests that MoD officials actually wanted to
get the stories out. This affair also shows how the Government has lost
its discipline as the date of Tony Blair's departure gets ever closer.
Yet there is something missing: the role of the media itself. The
inescapable fact is that the sailors could never have sold their
stories unless there were newspapers and broadcasters willing to buy
them. There is a hefty dollop of hypocrisy in the media's coverage of
this row. It is galling to see newspapers - among them the pioneers in
chequebook journalism - pouring scorn on the decision to allow the sale
of these stories. Would those same newspapers now be singing the same
tune if they had been the ones to secure the exclusive interviews? Of
course not. Would they have castigated the sailors who did the deals if
they had won the interview themselves? No. The sword cuts both ways: if
it is morally wrong for servicemen to sell their stories, it is also
surely wrong for those media organisations to buy - or attempt to buy -
But there is a bigger issue here, for this hysteria reveals
something rather uncomfortable about our public culture. There is a
worrying absence of focus here. This week a suicide bomber managed to
blow himself up in the Iraqi parliament, penetrating the heart of the
supposedly impregnable "green zone" in Baghdad. And yet the outcry here
has been for the Defence Secretary to resign over his mishandling of
the media. What does this say about our national sense of priorities?
And, if the hapless Mr Browne were to resign, what would it say about
political accountability? The Prime Minister and a Cabinet that rushed
into the most calamitous foreign intervention in the past half-century
would remain in their posts. Meanwhile, the Defence Secretary would
have fallen on his sword on account of a couple of embarrassing
The invasion of Iraq has ruined Britain's reputation abroad. It has
damaged morale in the armed forces (far more than the selling of these
stories). It has exposed this country, its citizens - and especially
its servicemen and women - to far greater risk. Let us not forget that
the only reason these sailors were in a position to be captured in the
first place is because they were patrolling Iraqi waters.
This uproar is a distraction from the bigger picture. There should
be moral outrage over events in the Persian Gulf. But it should be
aimed at those that led us into the quagmire in the first place, not
the lesser figures involved in this sorry saga of sailors, spin and
This article by Dr Charles
worth reading. http://www.charlestannock.com/article.asp?id=580
MAY 4th 2007 Magaret Becket is
intending to discuss with Iranian diplomats the resolution of the
Shat-al Arab incident involving the arrest of the UK naval crew (now
safely returned) and the confiscation of their craft (still
outstanding). Could be tricky since Ahmedinejad himslef has just been
accused by his own establishment of improper behaviour when he greeted
a woman (wearing gloves) by kissing her hand. It seems the violinist in
the story below was not wearing gloves.
Rice, Iranian have little contact
By ANNE GEARAN and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers
Iran's foreign minister walked out of a dinner of diplomats where he
was seated directly across from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on
the pretext that the female violinist entertaining the gathering was
dressed too revealingly.
"I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red
dress or the secretary of state," State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack said Friday, regarding the actions of Iran's Manouchehr
The dinner episode Thursday night amid a major regional conference
on Iraq perfectly revealed how hard it was to bring together the top
diplomats of the two rival nations.
Meanwhile, Iraq's neighbors on Friday negotiated a declaration that
would pledge support for Iraq's embattled Shiite-led government in
return for more inclusion of Sunni Arabs in the political process.
A draft copy of the six-page declaration said the summit
participants would agree to support Iraq's government as long as it
ensured the "basic right of all Iraqi citizens to participate
peacefully in the political process through the country's political
Going into the summit, the Iraqi government had hoped for a
breakthrough meeting between Rice and Mottaki. Instead, their only
direct contact was a wary exchange of pleasantries over lunch Thursday,
punctuated by a wry, somewhat mysterious comment by Mottaki.
Mottaki walked out of the diplomats' dinner on the pretext that the
female violinist entertaining the gathering was dressed too revealingly.
The Iranian entered the lunch, greeting the gathered diplomats with
the Arabic phrase, "As-salama aleikum," or "Peace be upon you,"
according to an Iraqi official who was present.
Rice replied to him in English, "Hello," then added: "Your English
is better than my Arabic," according to the Iraqi official, who spoke
on condition of anonymity because the lunch was private.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit then piped in, telling
Mottaki, "We want to warm the atmosphere some."
Mottaki smiled and replied in English with a saying: "In Russia,
they eat ice cream in winter because it's warmer than the weather" —
more or less meaning, "You take whatever atmosphere-warming you can
"That's true," Rice replied, according to the Iraqi official.
After lunch, Egypt's Aboul Gheit told the Associated Press he would
try to arrange a further informal meeting between Rice and Mottaki at a
gala dinner being thrown by the Egyptians Thursday night on the beach
of a nearby resort hotel.
"Why not?" Aboul Gheit said. "It is only one table." But asked if he
would seat Rice and Mottaki next to each other, he said, "No, no."
As it turned out, Mottaki's place was set directly across the table
from Rice. When Mottaki entered the dinner and saw the arrangement, he
immediately told his hosts that he had to excuse himself and leave,
said a U.S. official who accompanied Rice.
Mottaki complained that the Egyptian female violinist playing nearby
was too revealingly dressed, the official said, speaking on condition
of anonymity, also because the dinner was a closed affair.
The Iraqi government and some Arab countries had hoped for a real
one-on-one meeting between Rice and Mottaki, saying that the two
countries' conflict is only fueling Iraq's chaos. Ahead of the two day
conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Rice had expressed
a willingness to meet, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said
he would welcome talks.
But on Thursday, Rice said the American side was not asking for a
meeting, and the Iranians appeared reluctant to be the ones to make the
The U.S. accuses Iran of increasing Iraq's violence by backing
militants there, as well as accusing Tehran of aiming to build a
nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration has rejected direct
talks with Iran despite growing calls for contacts.
Iran denies the U.S. accusations and is calling for U.S. troops
to leave neighboring Iraq, blaming Washington's policies for the
Separately Thursday, summit participants agreed on the
International Compact with Iraq — an ambitious blueprint to stabilize
The plan sets benchmarks to achieve a stable, united,
democratic Iraq within five years. It defines international help for
Iraq — including debt relief — but also sets tough commitments on the
Baghdad government, particularly carrying out reforms aimed at giving
Iraq's Sunni Arabs a greater role in the political process.
The Iraqi government, the United Nations and many of the more
than 60 countries and international organizations gathered here hailed
the launch of the blueprint as a milestone.
Associated Press correspondent Edith M. Lederer contributed to this
discuss with the West how to maintain global security but would not
bargain over its right to pursue civil nuclear technology. Ahmadinejad
said Iran was willing to contribute to
global peace and security but not be deprived of its internationally
acknowledged right to have peaceful nuclear projects aimed at
generating electricity. Tehran would be willing to
negotiate with the West how to establish peace and security in Iraq,
but not approve of Western powers imposing their policies on a
sovereign country which already had a democratically elected
government. The Fars news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran
has never attacked any country or
violated rights of other states and would never do that. "But
at the same time Iran will decisively stand behind its nuclear right
and no official has the right to retreat from this right." Ahmadinejad
called on big powers to stop their
hegemonic policies and rather return to the course of friendship with
all world countries.
That is reasonable talk for internal consumption, presumably intended
for international consumption as well. We will eventually get some
sense into this dialogue. A military solution is not, in my view, a
necessity. The nuclear security issue must be dealt with, but not in
the way Israel dealt with Saddam's nuclear threat.
U.S., Iranian experts meet at Iraq talks
By Mariam Karouny and Sue Pleming - Reuters
Iran and the United
States met at expert level on the sidelines of an international
conference in Egypt on Friday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar
"A meeting took place on the sidelines of the meeting, not
at foreign minister level but at expert level, between the
American side and the Iranian side," he told a news conference.
Diplomats said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had
been open to a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr
Mottaki -- which would be the highest level contact since
Iran's 1979 revolution -- but the Iranians were cool to the
On Thursday Rice did meet Syrian Foreign Minister Walid
al-Moualem, marking a shift in U.S. President George W. Bush's
once resolute opposition to high-level contacts with Iran and
Syria as he seeks ways to end the Iraq conflict.
Rice and Mottaki have been together in the Egyptian Red Sea
resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for two days for the conference on
financial support for Iraq and on relations with its neighbors.
Zebari added: "I don't know what went on in that meeting
(of experts) but I think it was a positive sign that at least
such a thing did take place while we are here.
"This is a process I think. It needs more work. There is a
lot of suspicion. There is a lot of mistrust. But it is in my
country's interest really to see a reduction of this tension."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the
meeting was "the beginning hopefully of a process," adding that
the officials who met were ambassadors. He did not identify
He was speaking after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged
Iraq's neighbours to stop militants sneaking into Iraq, saying
his country would "not allow terrorist organizations to use
Iraqi territory as a safe haven."
Iraq's six neighbours are attending the Sharm el-Sheikh
meeting, which welcomed Arab League attempts to hold a
conference on national reconciliation.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council,
the European Union and the Group of Eight leading
industrialized countries also took part in the meeting.
The talks focused on border security, Iraqi refugees and
political reconciliation between Iraqi factions and ethnic and
The final communique from the conference called on the Arab
League to resume preparations for the reconciliation conference
for Iraq, a project which has languished for over a year.
"We are ready for this. We are ready to host Iraqi national
reconciliation," Mouusa said. "Now is not the time to exchange
accusations but is the time to work together."
The communique gave no time frame for such a meeting, nor
say where it would be held.
The 22-member Arab League is based in Cairo but Iraqi
government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the best place for the
conference would be inside Iraq.
Iran had been cool about a meeting with Rice and an Iranian
spokesman said on Tuesday that it would not negotiate with
Washington until it stops its "evil approach."
In his speech to a closed session, Mottaki blamed Iraq's
troubles on the U.S. invasion of 2003 and called for the
release of five Iranian civil servants held by the Americans in
He called for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave Iraq,
coupled with stronger support for the Shi'ite-led Baghdad
government, but did not say when this should happen.
Iran 'seeking conflict by proxy in Afghanistan': Des
AFP - Tuesday,
(AFP) - Defence Secretary Des Browne said Tuesday there were signs that
Iran was helping the Taliban fight coalition forces in Afghanistan.
were that it was seeking to attack international troops "by proxy," he
told the defence committee of parliament's lower House of Commons,
which scrutinises Ministry of Defence administration and policy.
they have sought confrontation by proxy with us and the United States
and other NATO members elsewhere in the region and there is some
indication that they are doing the same in Afghanistan," he said.
Last month Prime Minister Tony Blair accused elements in Tehran of
"backing, financing, arming, supporting terrorism in Iraq."
said that Iran was otherwise playing a positive role in Afghanistan,
sealing its border and cutting off the flow of illegal drugs and
He said that as with other regional powers,
such as India and Pakistan, it was in Iran's interest to see a strong,
"This is a complex environment," Browne said.
an Afghanistan which is not a failed state and has a reduced drugs
economy is in the strategic interest of all these countries.
do make a very positive contribution on the border in relation to
drugs. They make significant investment inside Afghanistan as well."
praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his efforts in
tackling support for Taliban insurgents emanating from his country.
believe that President Musharraf is committed to taking on this problem
and in recent months they have stepped up their action against the
Taliban to a level that we haven't previously seen," he said.
warned, however, that there "is no doubt that historically there were
relations between elements of the Pakistan government structure and the
Taliban, and it is highly improbable that those have gone away."
said Britain was encouraging Pakistan to clamp down on the madrassas --
Islamic religious schools blamed for radicalising youths.
a strategic issue for us because it is a strategic issue in relation to
the security of the streets of this city (London), never mind
Afghanistan," he said.
Britain has pledged an extra 1,400 troops
for Afghanistan, who are due to arrive within weeks, taking the
country's contingent in the NATO-led International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) to 7,700.
Cheney warns Iran to keep sea lanes open
By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer
From an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Vice President Dick
Cheney warned Iran on Friday the U.S. and its allies will keep it from
restricting sea traffic as well as from developing nuclear weapons.
"We'll keep the sea lanes open," Cheney said from the hangar deck of
the USS John C. Stennis as it steamed about 150 miles from the Iranian
Cheney is touring the Middle East asking Arab allies to do more to
help Iraq and to curb Iran's growing power in the region. With Iraq in
turmoil, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are maneuvering to see who can help
fill the leadership vacuum.
The vice president made clear the United States' intentions on the
rivalry. "We'll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear
weapons and dominating this region," he said.
On Saturday, Cheney will make a fence-mending visit to Saudi Arabia.
The oil-rich kingdom, long a key American ally in the Middle East,
recently has been shunning the U.S.-supported government of Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki, suggesting he is too close to Iran.
Roughly a quarter of the world's oil supplies pass through the
narrow Straits of Hormuz connecting the Persian Gulf with the open
waters of the Arabian Sea. Iran controls the eastern side of the
With two U.S. carrier groups now in the region, the vice president
declared, "We're sending clear messages to friends and adversaries
alike. We'll keep the sea lanes open."
The carrier was in the Gulf about 20 miles off Abu Dhabi in the
United Arab Emirates. Cheney is spending time there after a two-day
tour of Iraq.
Standing in front of five F18 Super Hornet fighters and a huge
American flag in the cavernous hangar deck — one flight below the
carrier's flight deck — Cheney sounded a hard line both on holding firm
in Iraq and confronting Iran if necessary.
Just over four years after President Bush stood on another aircraft
carrier beneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner and declared an end to
major combat, Cheney had a far more subdued message.
"We want to complete the mission, get it done right, and return with
honor," he told Stennis crew members.
Officials said that between 3,500 and 4,000 of the carrier's 5,000
sailors and Marines stood in sweltering heat — hovering over 100
degrees — to hear Cheney speak.
"It's not easy to serve in this part of the world. It's a place of
tension and many conflicts," said Cheney.
"We'll stand with our friends in opposing extremism and strategic
threats. We'll disrupt attacks on our own forces," he added. U.S.
officials have said that some of the sophisticated roadside bombs used
against U.S. troops in Iraq have come from Iran.
After returning from the carrier, Cheney had dinner with Emirates
Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
On Saturday, before leaving for Saudi Arabia, Cheney is expected to
press Emirates President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to support
U.S. efforts in Iraq and to shut down Iranian companies in his country
that U.S. officials believe are backing Iran's nuclear development.
Some 500,000 Iranians live in the Emirates.
Cheney's visit comes just two days before Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad is to visit Abu Dhabi.
Ahmadinejad wants the Emirates and other Gulf Arab countries to drop
their military alliances with Washington and join Iran in regional
efforts. The United States has about 40,000 troops on land bases in
Gulf countries outside Iraq and about 20,000 sailors and Marines in the
No Gulf state has yet backed Iran's offer of an alliance.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Friday that a compromise over
its nuclear program was impossible if the West continued to demand
Tehran suspend uranium enrichment, Iran's state broadcasting company
reported on its Web site.
Ali Larijani's comments came a day after the U.S. and France
took Iran to task during a conference on nuclear proliferation for
defying a U.N. Security Council demand that it freeze enrichment.
"If the West again applies the past wordings about Iran's
nuclear case, this issue will not conclude," the Web site quoted
Larijani as saying. "They should abandon this idea that they can change
conditions of Iran's nuclear case by applying harsh word policy."
When he goes to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Cheney faces a
difficult diplomatic mission — trying to ease concerns of King Abdullah
about the direction of al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government in Iraq.
Abdullah has increasingly sent signals that he doubts the U.S. troop
buildup to help secure Baghdad will work.
The king refused to see al-Maliki as the Iraqi prime minister
was making a tour of Arab countries late last month. And during a
regional conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik in early
May, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister was one of the few Arab diplomats
al-Maliki did not meet in face-to-face talks.
Abdullah's snub to al-Maliki appeared aimed at showing Saudi
Arabia's concern that the Iraqi government is too close to Iran and is
not doing enough to reconcile with Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, a Saudi
official said at the time.
Iran, like Iraq, is heavily Shiite. Saudi Arabia has a predominantly
Sunni Muslim population.
The visit to the Stennis was a return trip for Cheney, who came
to the carrier — then in the Arabian Sea — in March 2002 as he was
trying to build support in the area for invading Iraq.
Cheney flew to and from the carrier Friday by helicopter.
Iran, U.S. willing to hold talks on Iraq
By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer
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
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.
Yet the two sides said they were setting aside such differences to
focus on a narrow issue — Iraq's continued violence and sharp political
"The purpose is to try to make sure that the Iranians play a
productive role in Iraq," said Gordon Johndroe, the White House's
National Security Council spokesman.
Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, also confirmed the upcoming
talks, saying the vice president supports the move as long as they
focus solely on Iraq.
Iran agreed to the talks "after consultation with Iraqi officials,
in order to lessen the pain of the Iraqi people, support the Iraqi
government and establish security and peace in Iraq," the state-run
news agency, IRNA, quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali
Hosseini as saying.
Iraqi leaders have leaned on the Bush administration to try to
cooperate with Iran in the interest of stabilizing their country.
Likewise, some Mideast Arab allies of the U.S. — increasingly
distrustful of Iraq's Shiite-led government — have pushed for talks
with Iran as a way to reduce sectarian tensions in the country and stop
attacks against Sunnis.
The decision to talk comes at a critical time of plunging U.S.
support for the war and growing pressure from Congress for Iraq's
government to make some political progress, or lose U.S. backing. Many
critics say the U.S.- and Iraqi-led security push and troop buildup is
In March, lower-level U.S. and Iranian diplomats did hold rare,
brief talks on the sidelines of a Baghdad gathering. At a follow-up
conference a week ago in Egypt, there was a casual chat between the
U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and Iran's deputy foreign
minister, Abbas Araghchi.
There had been speculation of a Cabinet-level meeting at that Egypt
conference, but neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor Iran's
foreign minister wanted to make the initial move, passing up what would
have been the first high-level, face-to-face talks since the U.S. broke
off relations with Tehran after the 1979 hostage crisis.
Until this spring, the Bush administration had dismissed calls for
both outreach to Iran and Syria. At the Egyptian conference, Rice did
sit down for a talk with Syria's top diplomat.
The timing of the upcoming talks in Baghdad was unclear, but
Johndroe and Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, both said they
expected them to occur sometime in the next few weeks. The talks could
be between Crocker and the Iranians, Johndroe said.
The Baghdad setting will allow for "serious, quiet and focused
discussions on the responsibilities and the obligations of all to help
stabilize the situation in Iraq," Zebari said.
Despite the planned talks, mutual suspicion and tension between the
two countries runs high.
During a visit to the United Arab Emirates, hard-line Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded Sunday that the U.S. leave the
Middle East — two days after Cheney warned Tehran that Washington will
not allow it to develop nuclear weapons or dominate the region.
"We are telling you to leave the region. This is for your benefit
and the benefit of your nation," Ahmadinejad told the crowd at a soccer
stadium in Dubai.
Iran has stressed that it sees the U.S. military presence in Iraq as
a serious threat to its security. More than 140,000 U.S. troops are in
Iraq — with more expected this month as part of a stepped-up Baghdad
The U.S. sees Iran as the biggest threat to Iraq's stability,
accusing Tehran of supplying Shiite militias with deadly roadside bombs
that kill American troops. Iran denies the accusations.
Associated Press writers Tom Raum in Cairo, Egypt; Jim Krane in
Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Kim Gamel in Baghdad; and Ben Feller in
Jamestown, Va. contributed to this report.
U.S., Iran reach Iraq policy consensus
By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 12 minutes ago
The United States ambassador in Baghdad said he and his Iranian
counterpart agreed broadly on policy toward Iraq during four-hour
groundbreaking talks on Monday, but insisted that Iran end its support
The Iranian ambassador later said the two sides would meet again in
less than a month.
Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian envoy, also said that he told the
Americans that his government was ready to train and equip the Iraqi
army and police to create "a new military and security structure."
Kazemi did not elaborate nor would he say how U.S. Ambassador Ryan
The Baghdad talks were the first of their kind and a small sign that
Washington thinks rapprochement with Iran is possible after more than a
quarter-century of diplomatic estrangement that began with the 1979
"The next meeting will occur in Iraq in less than one month," Kazemi
told an Associated Press reporter after his news conference at the
Crocker earlier said the Iraqis planned to propose a second session
and that the United States would decide upon a follow-on meeting when
the invitation was issued.
"We will consider that when we receive it," Crocker told reporters
in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone. "The purpose of this meeting was not
to arrange other meetings."
Crocker described the session as businesslike and said Iran proposed
setting up a "trilateral security mechanism" that would include the
U.S., Iraq and Iran, an idea he said would require study in Washington.
The U.S. envoy also said he told the Iranians their country needed
to stop arming, funding and training the militants. The Iranians laid
out their policy toward Iraq, Crocker said, describing it as "very
similar to our own policy and what the Iraqi government have set out as
their own guiding principles."
He added: "This is about actions not just principles, and I laid out
to the Iranians direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq
and their support for militias that are fighting Iraqi and coalition
Kazemi did not raise the subject of seven Iranians now in American
custody in Iran, Crocker said: "The focus of our discussions were Iraq
and Iraq only."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), who was
criticized by the White House for her trip to Syria — also a U.S. rival
— praised the Bush administration for holding Monday's talks.
"I think it's very important, and at the end of the day we want to
know that every remedy, every diplomatic remedy has been exhausted,"
she said in Berlin.
The talks were held at Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Green
Al-Maliki did not attend the meeting, but the prime minister greeted
the two ambassadors, who shook hands, and led them into a conference
room, where the ambassadors sat across from each other.
Before leaving, al-Maliki told both sides that Iraqis wanted a
stable country free of foreign forces and regional interference. The
country should not be turned into a base for terrorist groups, he said.
He also said that the U.S.-led forces in Iraq were only here to help
build up the army and police and the country would not be used as a
launching ground for a U.S. attack on a neighbor, a clear reference to
"We are sure that securing progress in this meeting would, without
doubt, enhance the bridges of trust between the two countries and
create a positive atmosphere" that would help them deal with other
issues, he said.
Speaking in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
said the United States should admit its Middle East policy has failed.
"We are hopeful that Washington's realistic approach to the
current issues of Iraq by confessing its failed policy in Iraq and the
region and by showing a determination to changing the policy guarantees
success of the talks and possible further talks," Mottaki said.
Monday's talks, as predicted, had a pinpoint focus: What
Washington and Iran — separately or together — could do to contain the
sectarian conflagration in Iraq.
"The American side has accusations against Iran and the Iranian
side has some remarks on the presence of the American forces on Iraqi
lands, which they see as a threat to their government," said Ali
al-Dabagh, an Iraqi government spokesman.
But much more encumbered the narrow agenda — primarily Iran's
nuclear program and Iranian fears that the Bush administration will
seek regime change in Tehran as it did against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Washington and its Sunni Arab allies, on their side, are deeply
unnerved by growing Iranian influence in the Middle East and the spread
of increasingly radical Islam.
Compounding all that is Iran's open hostility to Israel.
Other issues clouding the talks included U.S. Navy exercises in
the Persian Gulf last week and tough talk from President Bush about new
U.N. penalties over the Iranian nuclear program. The United States says
Iran is trying to build a bomb; Iran says it needs nuclear technology
for energy production.
Further complicating the talks, Iran said Saturday it had
uncovered spy rings organized by the United States and its Western
U.S., Iran hold "positive" talks on Iraq violence
By Ross Colvin
The United States urged Iran on Monday
to stop supporting militias in Iraq in the most high-profile
meeting between the two countries in almost 30 years that both
sides later described as positive.
The rare talks in Baghdad were narrowly focused on Iraq's
spiralling sectarian violence and did not touch on Iran's
controversial nuclear program, which has ratcheted up tensions
between the two arch foes in recent months.
"Positive" was how both sides characterized the four-hour
meeting that began with a handshake between U.S. ambassador to
Iraq Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart Hassan
Kazemi-Qomi at Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office in
In new violence in Iraq, a truck bomb exploded near an
important Sunni Muslim mosque in central Baghdad, killing 24
people and wounding 68 others shortly after the talks broke up.
The Iranians appeared keen for further talks, with
Kazemi-Qomi calling the meeting "a first step in negotiations
between these two sides" and saying Tehran would seriously
consider an Iraqi invitation for further discussions.
For his part, Crocker said he had been less interested in
arranging further meetings than laying out Washington's case
that Shi'ite Iran is arming, funding and training Shi'ite
militias in Iraq, a charge Iran denies.
He said he did not produce any evidence, although the U.S.
military has previously displayed what it says are Iranian-made
rockets, mortars and roadside bombs seized in Iraq. The
military says the bombs have killed scores of American
"The purpose of this effort was not to build a legal case.
Presumably the Iranians know what they are doing. Our point was
simply to say we know as well. We wanted to say it is dangerous
for Iraq and dangerous for the region," Crocker said.
"The talks proceeded positively. What we need to see is
Iranian action on the ground. Right now their actions are
running at cross purposes to their stated policy."
Kazemi-Qomi, speaking at a separate media conference
several hours later, said Iran also saw positive steps in the
"Some problems have been raised and studied and I think
this was a positive step ... In the political field, the two
sides agreed to support and strengthen the Iraqi government,
which was another positive item achieved in these talks," he
He said Iran had offered to help train and arm Iraq's
security forces, presently the job of the U.S. military.
The meeting marked a shift in the U.S. policy of shunning
almost all contact with Iranian officials since Washington
severed formal diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1980, 14 months
after Iran's Islamic Revolution and five months after Americans
were seized in a hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Crocker said he would refer to Washington a proposal by the
Iranians for a mechanism with Iranian, U.S. and Iraqi
participation to coordinate Iraqi security matters.
He said he had told the Iranians they must end their
support for the militias, stop supplying them with explosives
and ammunition and rein in the activities of Iran's
Revolutionary Guards Qods Force in Iraq.
The Iranians had rejected the allegations but did not
respond in detail. In turn, they had criticized the "occupying"
U.S. military's training and equipping of the new Iraqi army,
saying it was "inadequate to the challenges faced."
"In terms of what happens next we are going to want to wait
and see not what is said next but what happens on the ground,
whether we start to see some indications of change of Iranian
behavior," Crocker said.
In a brief address to the delegations before the start of
the talks, Maliki said Iraq would not be a launchpad for any
attacks on neighboring states, an apparent reference to Iranian
fears of a U.S. attack. It would also not brook any regional
interference in its affairs, he added.
U.S. and Iranian officials had said they did not expect any
breakthroughs from the talks, which come as U.S. warships hold
war games in the Gulf and after Tehran said it had uncovered
spy networks on its territory run by Washington and its allies.
While mid-ranking officials from Iran and the United States
have met occasionally in the past, Monday's talks are the most
high profile since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
(With additional reporting by Mariam Karouny, Mussab
Al-Khairalla and Paul Tait in Baghdad and Edmund Blair in
JUNE 21st 2007
The news from Teheran is not good at all. I am suddenly very
pessimistic indeed about the next stage of developments in Iran. I
think the country will be taken over by a mixture of fundamentalists
Iranian students report crackdown
By Frances Harrison BBC News, Tehran
Iranian students and professors say an unprecedented number of
disciplinary cases have been brought against students in the last
They say 29 have been
arrested in the last two months for political activism and 207 were
taken before disciplinary committees in the last 40 days alone.
By comparison, just four students were disciplined a month on
average under the last government.
University professors who criticise the government are also losing
One of the best-known reformist professors to be affected by the
latest purge is the outspoken cleric Mohsen Kadivar.
The despotic understanding of
religious rules would eventually lead to a form of theocracy
speaking in a recent BBC News website debate
He has lost his chair in philosophy and literature at the teachers
training university and has been transferred to a research institute in
philosophy and ethics where he will have little contact with
Earlier, a university disciplinary committee had listed
a number of complaints against him, including giving interviews to the
He is among scores of university professors who have
been forced into early retirement or eased out of their positions since
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power two years ago.
It is part of a campaign to purge the universities of
secular and liberal ideas - a movement described by its supporters as a
second cultural revolution.
Students critical of the government have also faced problems.
Eight have been jailed from Amirkabir University where students
the president a dictator to his face when he visited there last
Story from BBC NEWS:
SEPTEMBER 24th 2007
With the passage of time, the overexcited Ahmadinejad probably is
getting a grip on reality. Most of his educated countrymen had already
come (a long time ago) to the obvious conclusion that the use of a
nuclear weapon by Iraq would be the quickest suicide not in history.
All we need now is for the US to understand that the Iranians
understand that the etc. etc....
That will not stop the endless game of wind-up of the US by Iranians
who just cannot accept the moral authority of a superpower led by a man
they regard as historically, geographically and morally primitive. He
of course regards them as similarly defective, and much of the rest of
the world agrees with both of these judgements.
leader plays down 'US war'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran is not heading
for armed conflict with the United States.
In an interview with US TV network CBS, he said Iran was not on a
of war with the US and that Iran had no need of nuclear weapons.
Protests have been held outside Columbia University in New York,
where Mr Ahmadinejad is due to speak later.
The US is leading moves to impose further sanctions on Iran because
of its nuclear development programme.
Many Americans think Mr Ahmadinejad should not have been invited to
speak at Columbia - but tickets to the event were snatched up within an
hour of becoming available.
In political relations right now,
the nuclear bomb is of no use
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the university on
placards saying: "Don't give a platform to hate," and calling Mr
Ahmadinejad a "Hitler wannabe".
Mr Ahmadinejad has called in the past for an end to the Israeli
state and described the Holocaust as a myth.
Columbia's president Lee Bollinger defended the decision to invite
Ahmadinejad, saying the university was "committed to confronting
ideas", AFP news agency reported.
'No need' for bomb
In his CBS interview, conducted in Tehran last week, Mr Ahmadinejad
said: "It's wrong to think that Iran and the US are walking towards
war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the
He also denied Iran had nuclear arms ambitions.
"You have to appreciate we don't need a nuclear bomb. We don't need
that. What need do we have for a bomb?" Mr Ahmadinejad asked.
"In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use."
Mr Ahmadinejad's comments follow a warning on Saturday that anybody
attacked Iran would experience nothing but regret, although he said
Iran's forces were just for defence.
He is due to address the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday
- his third address to the assembly in as many years.
The president had wanted to lay a wreath at Ground Zero during his
visit, but the New York authorities refused that request on security
Story from BBC NEWS:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday accused Iran of
"lying" about the aim of its nuclear program, saying there's no doubt
Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived
the U.N.'s atomic watchdog about its intentions.
"There is an Iranian history of obfuscation and, indeed, lying to
the IAEA," she said, referring to the International Atomic Energy
"There is a history of Iran not answering important questions about
what is going on and there is Iran pursuing nuclear technologies that
can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material," Rice told reporters aboard
her plane as she headed to Moscow.
U.S. officials have long accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear
weapons behind the facade of a civil atomic energy program, charges
that Tehran denies. But Rice's strong words, including the blunt
reference to Iranian "lying," come at a critical time in dealing with
The United States is trying to win Russian support for new U.N.
sanctions against Iran but has faced sharp resistance from Moscow,
which has nuclear cooperation agreements with Tehran and argues the
country should be given more time to come clean on its programs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week there is no proof
Tehran is trying to build the bomb. Rice and Defense Secretary Robert
Gates are scheduled to see him in Moscow on Friday.
Washington has been pressing for more sanctions since earlier this
But last month, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security
Council — Britain, China, France the United States and Russia — and
Germany agreed with the support of the European Union to hold off on a
new sanctions resolution until November to allow negotiations with Iran
If no progress is made on two separate tracks — talks with E.U.
foreign policy chief Javier Solana on an offer of assistance in
exchange for a suspension in Iran's nuclear program and discussions
with IAEA on its past activities — they are to bring the resolution to
It remains unclear, though, if Russia and China, which also opposes
sanctions, will support it.
Even as work on the proposed resolution is to continue at an Oct. 17
meeting of senior diplomats in Europe, Putin said Wednesday that Russia
was not convinced Iran is trying to create nuclear weapons.
His comments came after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
whose government is firmly behind the U.S. sanctions drive, and
appeared to deal a new blow to efforts to forge a consensus.
"We have no objective data that Iran is seeking to make atomic
weapons," Putin said. "Therefore, we proceed from the assumption that
Iran has no such plans."
Rice, however, stressed that Russia had signed on to the Sept. 28
agreement to consider new sanctions in November and said she did not
"expect that there is any deviation from that course at this point"
from the Russian side.
She also noted that Russia had in the past demonstrated its concern
about Iran's program by limiting its cooperation to prevent Tehran from
acquiring a full nuclear fuel cycle that could be used to produce
"That concern was seen very clearly in Russia's offer to Iran to
enrich and reprocess in a joint venture and to bring back any spent
fuel so that the fuel cycle wouldn't be available to Iran," she said.
"I think there is a reason for that and that is suspicion about Iran's
Bush: Threat of World War III if Iran goes nuclear
By Matt Spetalnick - Reuters
U.S. President George W. Bush warned
on Wednesday a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War III
as he tried to shore up international opposition to Tehran amid
Russian skepticism over its nuclear ambitions.
Bush was speaking a day after Russian President Vladimir
Putin, who has resisted Western pressure to toughen his stance
over Iran's nuclear program, made clear on a visit to Tehran
that Russia would not accept any military action against Iran.
At a White House news conference, Bush expressed hope Putin
would brief him on his talks in Tehran and said he would ask
him to clarify recent remarks on Iran's nuclear activities.
Putin said last week that Russia, which is building Iran's
first atomic power plant, would "proceed from the position"
that Tehran had no plans to develop nuclear weapons but he
shared international concerns that its nuclear programs "should
be as transparent as possible."
"The thing I'm interested in is whether or not he continues
to harbor the same concerns that I do," Bush said. "When we
were in Australia (in September), he reconfirmed to me that he
recognizes it's not in the world's interest for Iran to have
the capacity to make a nuclear weapon."
Bush, who has insisted he wants a diplomatic solution to
the Iranian issue, is pushing for a third round of U.N.
sanctions against Iran.
Russia, a veto-holding member of the Security Council,
backed two sets of limited U.N. sanctions against Iran but has
resisted any tough new measures.
Stepping up his rhetoric, Bush said a nuclear-armed Iran
would pose a "dangerous threat to world peace."
"We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants
to destroy Israel," he said. "So I've told people that, if
you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you
ought to be interested in preventing them from having the
knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
PUTIN'S "SPECIAL MESSAGE"
Iran rejects accusations it is seeking to develop a nuclear
bomb, saying it wants nuclear technology for peaceful civilian
purposes such as power generation, and has refused to heed U.N.
Security Council demands to halt sensitive uranium enrichment.
Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani was quoted by
Iran's official IRNA news agency on Wednesday as saying that
Putin had delivered a "special message" on its atomic program
and other issues. No other details were given.
Putin's visit on Tuesday was watched closely because of
Moscow's possible leverage in the Islamic Republic's nuclear
standoff with the West. It was the first time a Kremlin chief
went to Iran since Josef Stalin in 1943.
Asked about Putin's "special message," U.S. State
Department spokesman Tom Casey said he was not aware of any
deal or offer put forward by Moscow to Tehran over the nuclear
On Russian opposition to Caspian Sea states being used to
launch attacks against Iran, Casey reiterated that Bush kept
all his options on the table but that the United States was
committed to the diplomatic path with Tehran.
(Additional reporting by Frederick Dahl in Tehran and Sue
Pleming in Washington)
There is a contradiction between the position of Iran as described by
President Bush and by President Karzai of Aghanistan and the Iraq Prime
Minister. The latter two do not regard Iran as unhelpful, but President
Bush says Iran it is in the hands of, or giving free rein to,
terrorists who are supplying dangerous weapons and fighters against
NATO and the US and the coalition. Should we look at this as a 'Good
Cop/Bad Cop approach? There is no doubt there is a disagreement on the
tactics. in Iraq the 'surge' seems to be gradually winning the day,
militarily and morally, while in Afghanistan, where failure is not an
option, civilian deaths are being blamed on NATO which is not good for
the hearts and minds battle.
The UK is committed to the "long-term success" of Afghanistan and
will not allow the Taliban to regain control, the PM has said.
a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Mr Brown
said that the UK's efforts in Afghanistan were a "top foreign policy
priority" and that he was determined that the country "should never be
a failed state again".
banking and investment and expect their allies to
support these. There is no doubt that both the US and the UK government
find Iran's continuing sponsorship of insurgance and refusal to abandon
uranium enrichment unacceptable. The resignation of Larijani has not
gone down well. I am not sure that our approach is the right one but
time will tell. Bush seems to expect that financial pressure on Iran
will weaken the regime and make it unpopular. I don't think that will
necessarily be the result unless the international community exhibits
NOVEMBER 22nd 2007
Ahmedinejad seem to be losing backing in Iran. He has not brought
prosperity, he has reduced foreign investment. He has not made life
safer or better for his countrymen. If Bush plays it firm but very,
very cool, things might get saner.
UN atomic agency unsure about Iran's nuclear intentions
by Simon Morgan AFP
The head of the UN's atomic watchdog said Thursday the agency was still
unable to confirm that Iran's nuclear drive is entirely peaceful,
despite increased cooperation from Tehran in key areas.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "has so far not been able
to verify some important aspects of Iran's nuclear programme," its
director general Mohamed ElBaradei told a board meeting here.
He specifically cited key questions related to the scope and nature of
Iran's centrifuge enrichment activities, "as well as those relevant to
alleged studies and other activities that could have military
As a result, the UN watchdog was "unable to provide credible assurance
about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities." Such
assurances were "crucial... to restore confidence in the peaceful
nature of Iran's nuclear programme," ElBaradei said.
The Egyptian-born diplomat noted that the IAEA had seen an increased
level of cooperation from Iran in answering questions about the past,
but its knowledge of Tehran's current programme has "diminished" since
One western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the
conclusions were a source of grave concern for many board members.
"No-one can deny there have been one or two results in a modest sense,"
"But looking at the big picture, a lot these are answers to questions
we should have had years ago. None of this is doing anything to improve
our confidence that Iran is actually engaging (with the IAEA) with any
great sincerity or any great commitment," the diplomat said.
The main bone of contention in the nuclear stand-off is Iran's adamant
refusal to suspend its enrichment activities, a potential pathway to
developing the atom bomb.
In fact, Tehran has actually stepped up such activities, flying in the
face of UN demands to stop or face fresh UN sanctions.
Iran's UN envoy to the IAEA, Ali-Asghar Soltanieh, told reporters that
Tehran had provided "all the information" the IAEA had requested and
also allowed access to all the necessary sites.
"We have provided all the information and the agency has been visiting
all workshops producing centrifuge machines, every piece of it,"
Soltanieh told reporters, referring to the centrifuges that are used to
In fact, from Tehran's point of view, the centrifuge issue was
"closed," Soltanieh insisted.
But such was not the feeling of the board, the western diplomat said.
ElBaradei's report is "very clearly not saying we've got as far as we
get on this question and we know all we need to know," he said.
In terms of glasses that are half full or half empty, "the percentage
of fullness we're looking at is probably no more than eight, nine or 10
percent," the diplomat said.
And if Iran failed to recoup that so-called "confidence deficit" soon,
western countries would move ahead with their drive for further
sanctions, he added.
For his part, Iran ambassador Soltanieh warned that any talk of
possible sanctions would be counterproductive.
If there was "peaceful dialogue and negotiation, then we show utmost
flexibility as we have done" so far.
"But if you're going to use the language of threat or sanction, that
will be counterproductive and it will definitely not work," Soltanieh
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and EU foreign
policy chief Javier Solana are expected to meet on or around November
30 for talks on the nuclear issue.
Solana has been trying to persuade Tehran to resume talks on
suspending uranium enrichment in exchange for a package of political
and economic incentives, but Tehran has refused to offer concessions.
Solana must report the outcome of his efforts to the UN Security
Council by the end of November.
A new year coming and a good new start from Russia's Foreign Minister
Iran needs no uranium enrichment: Russia's Lavrov
Russia's delivery of nuclear fuel to the
Bushehr power station makes it unnecessary for Iran to pursue
its enrichment program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Lavrov, interviewed by the Moscow daily Vremya Novostei,
also said any suggestion of "regime change" in Tehran had to be
ruled out in discussions on verifying Iran's nuclear program.
"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
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 aware, he said, that should there be any deviation
from agreements to build Bushehr under the supervision of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, "we will freeze our
Russia this month delivered the first shipment of 80 metric
tons of nuclear fuel to Bushehr, which Russian engineers are
building under a $1 billion contract.
U.S. President George W. Bush said the delivery could help
international efforts to persuade Iran to halt enrichment, but
a senior Iranian official said the delivery had nothing to do
with any decision on the program.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed two sets of sanctions
on Iran for its refusal to halt enrichment.
In his comments, Lavrov said the six countries dealing with
Iran -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United
States -- had a mandate to assess Tehran's program and there
could be no talk of trying to change Iran's leadership.
"If, in fulfilling these declared aims, our American
partners pursue the aim of regime change, this would be an
improper partnership," he told Vremya Novostei. "This would be
an alteration of policies and we would oppose it."
(Writing by Ron Popeski, editing by Tim Pearce)
Iran is openly defying the UN / IAEA demands to stop
proliferation-sensitive nuclear activity, while secretly continuing
with weapons research and telling its own citizens it is doing neither
but complying with UN / IAEA requirements. Let's face it, we are
dealing with a screwed up leadership clique who will say black is white
if it can keep them in control of the country.
Here is a report from Reuters,
By Mark Heinrich -
VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday
Iran had failed to
explain Western intelligence reports
explosives and missile work linked to making atomic bombs and
that this was a "serious concern."
WASHINGTON - The Navy admiral in charge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan announced
Tuesday that he is resigning over press reports portraying him as
opposed to President Bush's Iran policy.
Adm. William J. Fallon, one
of the most experienced officers in the U.S. military,
said the reports were wrong but had become a distraction hampering his
efforts in the Middle East. Fallon's area of responsibility includes
Iran and stretches from Central Asia across the Middle East to the Horn
of Africa. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080312/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/fallon_resigns
military action against Iran, that Fallon does not wish to prepare for
it, but for Bush non-preparation means ruling it out as part of the
stick/carrot approach which is is Bush's only way of diplomacy.
Stick/carrot does not work with Iranian religious fundamentalists. It s
the one thing that makes their cooperation quite impossible.
MARCH 15th 2008
I did not take Ahmadinejad seriously when he first arrived on the
scene. Unfortunately it turns out he is the figure head of a basically
fascistic element in Iran, a man riding a tiger. We do not know the
size of the tiger, but it is definitely nastier than any traditional
Iranian Islamic collective and has drawn on some of the elements that
remind one more of the Nazi party. I get the impression that the
Guardan Council has taken the blame for certain undemocratic
restrictions it is not, in fact, the author of. We are looking at
something dangerous here.
Hard-liners 'dominate Iran poll'
Hard-line allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are ahead in
Iran's parliamentary election, partial results suggest.
But conservative critics of Mr Ahmadinejad also appear to be making
strong showing that could undermine his domination of the parliament.
Reformists are said to be struggling after large numbers of their
candidates were barred from the race.
The United States says this means the results were "cooked".
The Associated Press (AP) news agency reports that 144 out of 290
parliamentary seats have been decided so far.
Quoting state television, official news agency IRNA and reports from
local officials, AP says pro-Ahmadinejad politicians have won 53 seats,
reformists 18, and conservative critics of Mr Ahmadinejad 38.
Independents whose political leanings were not immediately known
claimed the remaining 35, the agency says.
An Iranian official claimed that Friday's turnout was as high as
65%, the BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran reports.
But our correspondent says that polling stations in the capital were
not busy, and many people said they felt there was nothing or no-one to
parliamentary election since 1979 revolution
from 30 provinces
of those who applied to stand disqualified by the Guardian Council
The Iranian authorities had called for a big turnout to defy the US
and other countries they say are Iran's enemies.
The election will shape the political map ahead of 2009's
President Ahmadinejad flew in from an Islamic summit in Senegal to
cast his vote.
He said the world had chosen Iran as its "role model and saviour".
The reformists seem to have given up the fight after many of their
candidates were disqualified on the grounds of alleged lack of loyalty
to Islamic values, says our correspondent.
They made up the bulk of about 1,700 candidates barred
from running by
Iran's Guardian Council - an unelected body of clerics and jurists that
vets election candidates.
The Guardian Council has denied bias.
Analysts expect the poll's real winners to be former members of the
hardline Revolutionary Guards, who could replace the Muslim clergy as
the biggest force in the assembly.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could also gain
strength if, as forecast, a new younger generation of hard-line
loyalists gains positions of power.
The likely effect of a further increase in conservative
self-confidence, our correspondent says, will be even less chance of
compromise over Iran's nuclear programme, and a yet more assertive
It is thought the reformists may struggle to hang on to the 40 or
so seats they hold in the assembly.
They say the election is unfair but still urged Iran's 44 million
eligible voters to turn out for the country's eighth parliamentary
elections since its 1979 Islamic revolution.
President Ahmadinejad's political opponents blame him
for the three rounds of sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Nations
over its nuclear programme.
The US, Israel and key Western powers accuse Iran of
attempting to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists it is only
enriching uranium for a civilian energy programme.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Two of the U.S. military's most prominent voices on Middle East
issues are holding out the prospect of improved relations with Iran
despite tensions over its nuclear and military ambitions.
Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, acting head of the U.S. Central
Command, said in an Associated Press interview that Washington and
Tehran could seek common ground on tough issues like combating the
illicit drug trade in Afghanistan if Iran would stop its "malign
activity" inside Iraq.
And Army Gen. David Petraeus, who is expected to win Senate
confirmation as the permanent head of Central Command, told the Senate
Armed Services Committee on Thursday that although Iran is fueling
proxy wars in the Middle East he sees a possibility of "more
Their remarks reflect a U.S. effort — from President Bush and
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on down — to highlight Iranian activity
that Washington deems harmful in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere in the
Middle East while also encouraging Tehran to change its behavior.
At a time of growing speculation that Iran and the United States are
edging closer to open conflict, the generals' comments appear hopeful,
perhaps indicating a view that there is a reasonable prospect of
avoiding war by using diplomatic and other means to nudge Iran in a new
Dempsey, whose Central Command area of military responsibility
features numerous interrelated problems, including the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said it is clear Iran is exerting its
influence across the region, from Lebanon to Iraq and possibly even
into western Afghanistan.
Even so, Dempsey said in the interview Wednesday at his Central
Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., that he believes there are "plenty
of opportunities to have some region-altering events." He cited as an
example the announcement that Syria and Israel were negotiating a peace
"There is even reason to find common ground with Iran on certain
issues, like counter-narcotics," he said. "But it's pretty difficult to
do that when (U.S.) soldiers are dying because of lethal munitions
provided by them."
Dempsey was referring to U.S. allegations that Iran is training
Iraqi Shiite militiamen and providing them with rockets, mortars and
technology for a particularly deadly type of roadside bomb.
The narcotics trade that stems largely from vast opium harvests in
Afghanistan is an issue of great interest to both the United States and
Iran, Dempsey said. The U.S. government sees stopping it as central to
transforming Afghanistan's meager economy and supporting the country's
"Iran has a vested interest in actually getting rid of the poppy
because that's where it ends up," Dempsey said. "There are
opportunities in the region for finding common interests with Iran. But
we can't act on those opportunities in the face of such malign activity
inside of Iraq."
Dempsey said Iran is a problem to be viewed in a regional context.
"We've got to counter Iranian influence inside Iraq because Iran
very clearly sees it as in their interest to keep the level of violence
up and to keep the Shiite parties at odds and to try to discredit U.S.
forces and U.S. policy in the region," he said. "It's going to take an
acknowledgment on the part of the Iraqis and the regional partners that
this is a destabilizing influence across the region."
In his opening statement to his Senate confirmation hearing,
Petraeus made a similar point about Iran.
"It persists in its non-transparent pursuit of nuclear technology
and continues to fund, train and arm dangerous militia organizations,"
Petraeus said. "Iran's activities have been particularly harmful in
Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan. In each
location, Tehran has, to varying degrees, fueled proxy wars in an
effort to increase its influence and pursue its regional ambitions."
He added, however, that there is room to hope for change.
"Even as we work with leaders in the region to help protect our
partners from Iranian intimidation or coercion, however, we must also
explore policies that over the long term offer the possibility of more
constructive relations, if that is possible," Petraeus said. "Together
with regional and global partners, we need to seek ways to encourage
Iran to respect the integrity of other states, to embrace
nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, and to contribute to regional
stability rather than regional instability."
Dempsey was thought to have been in the running to succeed Navy Adm.
William J. Fallon as commander of Central Command after Fallon resigned
abruptly in March, but Bush instead nominated Petraeus, the more widely
known commander of coalition forces in Iraq.
Fallon quit after a magazine report cast him as resisting a White
House inclination to go to war with Iran.
Because Petraeus is not expected to move from Iraq to Central
Command until September, Dempsey is in the unusual position of heading
the command for several months with his successor in waiting. If
Petraeus takes command in September as expected, Dempsey will move to a
post for which he was confirmed by the Senate in March: commander of
U.S. Army Europe, a four-star post.
In the AP interview, Dempsey said he is determined to stay in
close touch with his counterparts in the Middle East, as well as in
Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations in Central Asia.
"It's all about continuity and commitment," he said, alluding to the
transition from Fallon to Petraeus.
He took that message on a journey last week that included stops
in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and he said he will reinforce it
during another trip next week to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and
MAY 28th 2008
Bolton still thinks his approach to international politics is the only
way, failing only because not pursued forceully enough. But in the
current public western mindset it could never have been pursued
forcefully without global international backing.
Iran strike an unattractive last resort: Bolton
Military action against Iran would
be a last resort but the United States and its allies have not
done enough to promote the alternative, a former U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations said on Wednesday.
John Bolton, who was a leading hawk in President George W.
Bush's administration, told an audience at the Hay literary
Festival that five years of "failed" negotiation with Iran over
its nuclear program had left just two options for dealing with
the issue -- regime change and use of force.
"The use of military force is an extremely unattractive
option and only to be used as a last resort," he said, adding
he would favor regime change.
Bolton said the elements for regime change were present in
Iran -- the economy was in difficulties, young Iranians could
see the possibility of a different life and there were ethnic
tensions within the country.
But he added that the United Nations and its allies had not
done enough to bring about the required change.
"I wish that we had had a much more vigorous policy five
years ago," he said.
Bolton, in Hay to promote his book "Surrender is not an
Option," said the insistence of Britain, France and Germany on
trying to negotiate a solution with Iran and U.S. acquiescence
in this policy had failed.
"Today Iran is five years closer to having a nuclear
weapons capability," he said.
Western leaders fear Iran aims to build atomic weapons and
the United Nations has hit Tehran with three rounds of
sanctions since 2006, demanding it cease nuclear enrichment
activities. Tehran has refused, saying its nuclear program is
Bolton, who was also Under-Secretary of State under Colin
Powell at the time of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, was
jeered by protesters shouting "war criminal" as he left the
(Reporting by Nigel Stephenson; Editing by Ibon
MmYesss, I am glad Israeli defense officials have put the boot in here.
While we have to defend Israel's right to exist now the appalling and
unnecessary mistake of founding it in the first place has been
committed and can't be undone, there is no need to suffer more than we
have to from the fallout from the stupidity and arrogance of its people
and their leaders.
Israelis round on Mofaz's "political" Iran threat
By Dan Williams Reuters
Israeli defense officials and
political pundits rounded on Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz
on Sunday after he threatened attacks against Iran, accusing
him of exploiting war jitters to advance his personal
Mofaz, a former armed forces chief and likely challenger to
the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in their Kadima party, said in a
newspaper interview last week that Israeli strikes on Iran
looked "unavoidable" given progress in its nuclear plans.
The remarks helped drive up oil prices by nearly 9 percent
to a record $139 a barrel on Friday and drew a circumspect
response from Washington, which has championed U.N. sanctions
against Iran and only hinted force could also be a last resort.
While the White House suggested Mofaz was giving voice to
the Jewish state's fear of the Islamic republic, officials in
Israel's Defence Ministry pointed to a power-struggle roiling
centrist Kadima as Olmert tries to beat off a bribery scandal.
"Turning one of the most strategic security issues into a
political game, using it for the internal purposes of a
would-be campaign in Kadima, is something that must not be
done," Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio.
The state-owned broadcaster quoted another senior defense
official as saying Mofaz's interview "did not reflect policy"
and "risked making it even harder for Israel to persuade more
countries to step up their sanctions against Iran."
Asked about the flurry of criticism, Mofaz aide Talia
Somech said he had spoken "out of his more than 40-year-long
commitment to the national security of Israel."
"We would like his statements to be taken at face value,
and not be given alternative interpretations," she told
Iranian-born Mofaz had served as defense minister until
Olmert made him transport minister in a 2006 cabinet reshuffle.
Though Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, the virulently
anti-Israel statements of its government pose a challenge for
Israeli leaders, who must at once reassure their public while
trying to keep in sync with U.S. interests in the Middle East.
Israel, which is assumed to have the region's only atomic
arsenal, bombed an Iraqi reactor in 1981 and, last September, a
Syrian target which the Bush administration described as a
North Korean-built reactor. Damascus denied having such a
But many independent analysts say Iran's nuclear sites are
too numerous, distant and fortified for Israel to take on
alone. Iran, for its part, has threatened to retaliate for any
attack with missile salvoes against Israel and U.S. assets in
The mass-circulation Israeli daily Maariv devoted a full
spread to the fallout from Mofaz's interview with the rival
Yedioth Ahronoth. Maariv's headlines -- "Big Mouth,"
"Demonstrable Damage" and "Boomerang" -- made clear its views.
"Were Mofaz defense minister today, he would demand that
the transport minister be fired forthwith," wrote Maariv's Ben
Caspit. "Suddenly, (Iranian President Mahmud) Ahmadinejad is
the underdog. Iran is on the defensive from crazed Jews."
There was agreement from Yedioth's economic analyst, Sever
Plotzker, who suggested that Mofaz was, paradoxically, giving a
back-end boost to Iran -- the world fourth-biggest oil
"Blathering away about how 'we'll attack and destroy you'
does not deter the decision-makers in Tehran, but it does drive
the oil markets crazy ... And who profits from that? Tehran."
(Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)
JULY 9th 2008
In spite of the continuing development of both missiles and fissile
material, there is not the slightest chance of Iran launching an attack
on Israel as both the mullahs and the revolutionaries know the
counterattack would wipe Iran off the map. The Iranian strategy is to
allow their patriotic hotheads to cause Bush and allies endless
trouble, while building up their missile capabilities as a deterrent
against any surgical strike by way of retaliation against their support
for what we call terror and define as asymmetric warfare. They know it
leaves Bush frustrated and Bolton and co. incandescent with rage, and
they enjoy every minute of it. The Iranian capability to block the
straits of Hormuz makes them feel even more cheeky. While in no way
supporting Iran's behaviour, I maintain the United States needed and
still needs to be taught some very great lessons, and their reasonable
friends would never dream of doing it. Iran is not really a threat, but
because of the'western' perceptions of the situation it can become one.
In reality Iran's future depends on sensible relations with the
International Community and that is that.
Iran missile test sends message to US, Israel
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer Wed Jul 9, 4:06 PM ET
Iran test-fired nine missiles Wednesday, including ones capable of
hitting Israel, making a dramatic show of its readiness to strike back
if the United States or Israel attacks it over its nuclear program.
The launches sparked strong U.S. criticism and a jump in oil prices
— underlining fears Iran might seal off the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf
waterway through which 40 percent of the world's crude passes, if
military conflict does break out.
The tests of the long- and medium-range missiles did not appear to
mark a significant advance in Iran's missile capability — similar ones
have been tested previously. But the timing and location were clearly
aimed to send a message, coming as Iran has sharply stepped up the tone
of its warnings of retaliation if attacked. This week, a top official
of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Ali Shirazi, warned Tel Aviv would be
"set on fire" in any Iranian retaliation.
The tests took place amid a military exercise that Iran has been
conducting in the Hormuz strait, where Tehran has threatened to block
oil traffic in response to any U.S. or Israeli military action.
Iran has long warned it would strike back for any attack against it.
But it has sharpened its rhetoric since Israel's military sent
warplanes over the eastern Mediterranean in June for a large military
exercise that U.S. officials described as a possible rehearsal for a
strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Gen. Hossein Salami, the Revolutionary Guards air force commander,
said Iran's war games this week — code-named "Noble Prophet" —
"demonstrate our resolve and might against enemies who in recent weeks
have threatened Iran with harsh language," state TV reported.
"Hundreds and maybe thousands of missiles are ready to be fired at
specified targets," he said. "A small part of our defense options was
put on display for the world today. Our real reaction against enemy
threats will be quicker and stronger."
The West needs to "assess Iran's might accurately," he added.
State TV aired footage of at least six missiles being fired
simultaneously, and said the barrage included a new version of the
Shahab-3 missile, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles
and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead. That would put Israel,
Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking
distance. The TV report did not say whether the test took place near
the Hormuz strait.
The U.S. Defense Department said it was studying the test to
determine exactly what was launched and what it shows about Tehran's
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Wednesday's tests
"evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one."
"Those who say that there is no Iranian missile threat against which
we should build a missile defense system perhaps ought to talk to the
Iranians about their claims," Rice said while traveling in Sofia,
On Tuesday, Rice and Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg signed a
deal allowing the U.S. to base a missile defense shield in the Czech
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the test bolsters the U.S.
argument that Tehran is a threat and a missile defense system is needed
A White House spokesman called the tests "completely inconsistent
with Iran's obligations to the world" and said they further isolate the
Iran should "refrain from further missile tests if they truly seek
to gain the trust of the world," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for
the National Security Council, speaking from Japan where President Bush
is attending the Group of Eight summit.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Iran's missile
tests highlight the need for direct diplomacy as well as tougher
threats of economic sanctions and strong incentives to persuade Tehran
to change its behavior.
John McCain, the Republican seeking the presidency, said the tests
demonstrate a need for effective missile defense, including missile
defense in Europe and the defense system the U.S. plans with the Czech
Republic and Poland. Oil prices rose Wednesday on news of the tests,
along with a U.S. government report showing crude stockpiles fell more
than expected. Light, sweet crude for August delivery rose $1.50 to
$137.54 a barrel in early afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile
Israeli defense officials said there were no major surprises in
the latest Iranian missile tests. The officials said they appeared to
be more of an exercise in psychological warfare than a breakthrough in
"Israel does not desire hostility and conflict with Iran,"
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said. "But it is clear that the
Iranian nuclear program and the Iranian ballistic missile program is a
matter of grave concern."
The test could also be aimed to show the West there cannot be a
military solution to the standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
Iran denies U.S. accusations it seeks to build nuclear weapons, and
earlier this week it sent a response to a Western package of economic
incentives aimed at pushing it to halt uranium enrichment. EU officials
have said they are still evaluating the response, but Tehran has
insisted it will not suspend enrichment.
Iranian leaders have said they don't believe the U.S. or Israel
will attack, citing U.S. problems in Iraq and the effect on already
soaring oil prices. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday called the
idea of an attack a "funny joke."
But at the same, Iran has been more vocal in warning of the fallout
of any U.S. or Israeli strike.
The semi-official Fars news agency, which is believed to be
close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported details on the missiles
tested Wednesday, saying they included a "newly upgraded" Shahab-3,
first tested in its longest-range version in 2004.
The Shehab-3 tested Wednesday has been designed with a
"cluster" warhead, that allows it to release multiple bombs over a
wider area, Fars said, without elaborating. It also boasts a more
accurate navigational system that allows a control room to bring the
missile back on route if it strays or destroy it if it goes too far off
course, it said.
The other missiles tested included the Zelzal, versions of
which have a range of 130-185 miles, and the Fateh, with a range of 105
Oh goody! Homer Simpson has some smarter friends. It has taken the Rand
org to come up with the first sentence below.
DOH! They have not yet worked out that it might be the fear of a
military strike which drives Tehran's nuclear policy, but at least they
have figured out that carrying one out would not prove the Iranian
Study urges long-term policies to influence Iran
Thu Jul 10, 12:37 AM ET - Reuters
A military strike on Iran would be unlikely to force changes in
Tehran's nuclear policy, the Rand research organization said on
Thursday in an analysis recommending long-term policies to deal with
The United States is leading international efforts to rein in
Iran's suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its
nuclear program is for purely civilian energy purposes.
"If Iran's facilities were to be bombed, public support for any
retaliation its government took would likely be widespread," the Rand
The United States also accuses Iran of arming insurgents in Iraq
and meddling in Iraqi politics.
The Rand report came amid increased tensions with Iran, which on
Wednesday test-fired nine missiles it said could reach Israel and U.S.
assets, and warned Washington and Israel it was ready to retaliate for
any attack over its nuclear projects.
"Attacks on Iran proper would generate a great deal of ill-will
and, in our view, would be unlikely to change Iranian policy," said the
report by the independent research group.
It added that "U.S. policy should focus on creating conditions for
effective relations over the long haul."
The report recommended an expansion of contacts and exchanges with
Iranian citizens; muting U.S. policy statements advocating "regime
change" and penalizing the Iranian government and its officials for
pursuing policies that harm U.S. interests.
"The U.S. government has some ability to foster favorable trends in
Iran, but these policies will take time to come to fruition," the Rand
The New Yorker magazine reported last month the United States was
escalating covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing its
The article said U.S. Special Operations Forces had been conducting
cross-border operations from southern Iraq since last year.
The U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, in a CNN interview last
month, denied the allegations of cross-border operations.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney)
JULY 16th 2008
I assume these moves by Bush are for US internal polictical purposes
only, but we shall see.
U.S. to establish presence in Tehran: report
The United States will announce in the next month that it plans to
establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30
years, a British newspaper said on Thursday.
In a front-page report, the Guardian said Washington would open a
U.S. interests section in the Iranian capital, halfway towards opening
The unsourced report by the newspaper's Washington correspondent
said: "The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in
the next month to establish a U.S. interests section in Tehran, a
halfway house to setting up a full embassy.
"The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country."
Senior U.S. diplomat William Burns said in testimony to Congress
last week the United States was looking to opening up an interest
section in Tehran but had not made a decision yet.
The Guardian said the development was "a remarkable turnaround in
policy by President George Bush who has pursued a hawkish approach to
Iran throughout his time in office."
Washington said on Wednesday it was sending Burns to join atomic
talks with Iran this weekend to signal to Tehran and others that
Washington wanted a diplomatic solution to their nuclear impasse.
Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful power generation, and
not for the development of nuclear weapons as the West suspects, and
has rejected conditions it give up uranium enrichment.
On Sunday, President Amhmoud Ahmadinejad suggested Iran would
consider any proposal by the United States for a U.S. interests section
in the Islamic Republic, should one be forthcoming.
U.S. media have reported that the State Department is considering
opening an interests section that could mean U.S. diplomats returning
to Tehran but operating under another country's flag.
The United States cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran during the
1979-1981 hostage crisis, in which a group of militant Iranian students
held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage at the American embassy for 444 days.
Iran maintains an interests section at the embassy of Pakistan in
Washington. Mottaki said it serves the large Iranian community in the
(Reporting by Andrew Dobbie; additional reporting by Sue Pleming in
Washington; editing by Ralph Boulton)
MARCH 21st 2009
As recorded elsewhere on this website, America now has a new president.
He is keen to avoid repeating the failed policies of his predecessor
while taking on board the responsibilities to which the US has
committed its self. This article from the IHT is a concise summary.
Obama's message to Iran is opening bid in
By Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger
Saturday, March 21,
The groundbreaking message to Iran that President Barack Obama
delivered by videotape on Friday was part of a strategy intended to
emphasize a positive message to Iran in the prelude to that nation's
presidential election this summer, according to administration
officials and European diplomats.
Among other measures being weighed are a direct communication from
Obama to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, and an end to a
prohibition on direct contacts between junior American diplomats and
their Iranian counterparts around the world, the officials and
At least for now, the American strategy calls for an emphasis on
diplomacy, in part out of concern that a more confrontational message
that focused on Iran's nuclear program might prove counterproductive in
the political heat of the Iranian election season. The officials said
that Obama had set aside for the next few months a quest for more
punitive sanctions aimed at Iran, which had been the Bush
administration's main focus.
After three decades of a freeze in American-Iranian relations, it
appeared significant that Obama directed his comments not just to the
Iranian people but to Iran's leaders, and that he referred to Iran as
"the Islamic Republic," indicating an apparent willingness to deal with
the current clerical government.
Iranian officials responded cautiously to Obama's message.
Administration officials, who are still conducting a strategic review
of Iran policy, say they have not given up on tougher sanctions for
Iran, but have concluded that sending a positive message now offers
more chance of success. One reason is that Russia in particular appears
unlikely to support tougher sanctions until after Obama demonstrates
that he has first gone significantly farther than President George W.
Bush did to engage Iran.
The video from Obama that was released by the White House at 12:01
a.m. on Friday, with subtitles in Persian, coincided with the Iranian
festival of Nowruz, a 12-day holiday that marks the new year in Iran.
"In this season of new beginnings, I would like to speak clearly to
Iran's leaders," Obama said in the message. "My administration is now
committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before
us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and
the international community. This process will not be advanced by
The Israeli government also sent a New Year's message to the Iranian
people on Friday, although administration officials and Israeli
officials insisted that the gestures were not part of a coordinated
plan. "I know we notified allies about our message last evening," the
White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs said, but he added that he did not
know if Israel had also notified the United States ahead of time.
Some experts said the fact that the American message was sent on the
same day as Israel's had the potential to dilute the effect of Obama's
message, by linking it to Israel, whose government has been much more
hostile toward Iran.
In his own message, Obama made a point of saying that "the United
States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in
the community of nations." The reference to Iran as an "Islamic
Republic," and the direct statement about not threatening Iran,
diplomats said, offered a first clear signal from the Obama
administration that it would not pursue a change of government in Iran,
a key concern of Iran's leadership.
"That wording is designed to demonstrate acceptance of the
government of Iran," said Martin Indyk, a former United States
ambassador to Israel and author of "Innocent Abroad: An Intimate
Account of American Diplomacy in the Middle East."
"The message is dripping with sincerity and directly addresses one
of the things they are most concerned about," Indyk said.
Obama went so far as to quote the medieval Persian poet Saadi. "The
children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one
essence," he said.
In Iran, officials were tepid in their initial response, saying that
Obama's message must be followed up with concrete actions to address
past grievances, like the downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988. Ali
Akbar Javanfekr, a high-ranking adviser to President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, praised the effort to reach out to Iranians but said that
Iran wanted more than words.
"This cannot only be done by us, we cannot simply forget what the
U.S. did to our nation," he said. "They need to perceive what wrong
orientation they had and make serious efforts to make up for it."
But Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian-American expert at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, said that Obama's message would
force hard-line Iranian officials — like Ahmadinejad — to put up or
shut up on prospects for better relations with the United States.
"What this message does is, it puts the hard-liners in a difficult
position, because where the Bush administration united disparate
Iranian political leaders against a common threat, what Obama is doing
is accentuating the cleavages in Iran," Sadjadpour said. "It makes the
hard-liners look increasingly like they are the impediment."
European diplomats applauded the move, but expressed dismay that
President Shimon Peres of Israel followed with his own message to the
Iranian people as well. "This is a real shame because the key effect
should be Obama, and this dilutes from that," said one European
diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity under normal
Israeli officials have told the White House that by the end of the
year, at the latest, Iran will have everything it needs if it decides
to produce a nuclear weapon. The officials have hinted that Israel will
take unilateral action against Iran if they believe Obama's diplomacy
was going nowhere. It is unclear how much of that threat is bluff, and
how much is real.
Israel has also been pushing the Obama administration to consider
new, tougher sanctions. Among those they advocate are a cut-off of
refined gasoline to Iran — a sanction that Obama himself discussed as a
last resort during last year's campaign — and full inspection of all
ships leaving Iran, to make sure they are not carrying weapons.
For the Obama administration, time for diplomacy may be short. Iran
appears to have solved many of the technological problems that hampered
its enrichment of uranium. Today its centrifuges appear to be running
at high efficiency, according to reports by the International Atomic
Energy Agency. It has already produced roughly the amount of uranium to
make, with further enrichment, enough fuel for a single nuclear bomb.
APRIL 18th 2009
Obama's new approach to Iran has shown to be effective. It has clearly
worried the hardliners who do not wish a rapprochement or productive
talks that could lead to agreement on nuclear issues or anything else.
The absurd arrest and conviction for spying of Roxana Saberi is a
desperate act to derail any sensible moves by reasonable diplomatic
parties. Clinton and Obama should play it cool and relaxed and not fall
for it. Give Iran time to sort itself out internally.
dismayed by Iran sentence
The US has expressed dismay after a court in Iran jailed an
Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi, for eight years on spying
Ms Saberi, 31, was sentenced after a secret one-day trial in
President Barack Obama "is deeply disappointed at this news," his
spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Correspondents say the case will have serious implications for
US-Iranian relations at a time when Mr Obama has reached out to the
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier expressed her
disappointment at the sentence.
She said the US would vigorously raise its concerns about the case
Washington, which has no diplomatic ties with Iran, was working with
Swiss diplomats in Tehran to obtain details about the court's decision
and ensure Ms Saberi's well-being, she said.
The verdict came despite calls by the Obama administration for Ms
Saberi's release and diplomatic overtures to Iran after three decades
of severed ties.
It raises deep suspicions over whether the case has been hijacked by
hardliners within the Iranian government, eager to sabotage any
reconciliation, the BBC's Jon Leyne reports from Tehran.
No details of the evidence against Ms Saberi have been made public.
Ms Saberi, who was arrested in January and went on trial this week,
denies the charge and plans to go on hunger strike, her father said.
Reza Saberi told National Public Radio (NPR) that his
daughter was tricked into making incriminating statements by officials
who told her they would free her if she did.
Senators from Ms Saberi's home state of North Dakota
described the court ruling as a shocking miscarriage of justice that
would damage Iran's international credibility.
Ms Saberi has reported for a number of foreign news organisations
including the BBC, NPR and Fox News.
“ Roxana was tried in secret and no evidence of
espionage has been made public ”
BBC Press Office
"We are extremely concerned at the severe sentence passed on Roxana
Saberi," the BBC Press Office said.
"Roxana's many friends in the BBC are saddened by the decision and
thinking of Roxana and her family at this difficult time."
NPR's chief executive, Vivian Schiller, said: "We are deeply
distressed by this harsh and unwarranted sentence."
The conviction was also criticised by the New York-based Committee
Protect Journalists, which said her trial had "lacked transparency".
"We call on the Iranian authorities to release her on
bail pending her appeal," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the group's Middle
East and North Africa programme coordinator.
Public awareness of Ms Saberi's situation is low in
Iran, where local media do not seem to have reported her arrest or
trial in any way, our correspondent says.
The journalist originally faced the less serious accusation of
alcohol, and later of working as a journalist without a valid press
Then, in a period of less than two weeks, the charge of
spying was introduced, and she was tried by the Revolutionary Court and
Ms Saberi's lawyer Abdolsamad Khorramshahi and her father confirmed
that an appeal would be made.
A US-Iranian national, Ms Saberi has spent six years in Iran
studying and writing a book.
The daughter of an Iranian father and a Japanese mother, she was
crowned Miss North Dakota and was among the top 10 finalists in Miss
She holds two master's degrees, from Northwestern
University in the US and from Cambridge University in the UK, and is
currently studying for a third.
Story from BBC NEWS:
JUNE 11th 2009
We are coming up to a moment of change. At the election, there is a
good chance Ahmedinejad will be replaced. Iranians need freedom of
thought. His popularity rests on farm subsidies, but he has so wrecked
the main economy by his hostile foreign policy that his opponents have
a good case even for rural voters. Obama has made the right moves to
open up relations. We have a chance for a breakthrough in time if we
take it steadily.
JUNE 14th 2009
Well, that went badly wrong. It is not often I call a wrong shot on
this web site, but it seems there was no chance at all of a change
here. The 'establishment' had it sewn up, with complete control of
everything from the phones to the web and broadcasters, and they were
not having a 'freedom of thought' election at all. Let us hope these
unfortunate people can live with the result. As John Simpson said, it
is a 'strange place' with its own ways, they will have to sort it out
for themselves. They will learn that the status quo is unsustainable,
let us hope they do not (like North Korea) invent foreign foes and wars
to justify their internal repression to the extent that their paranoid
fears become self fulfilling.
JUNE 16th 2009
It now looks as if it was not so much the Supreme Leader or the
educated establishment that had this election under control but the
hard core for whom Ahemedinejad is the front-man, a hard core I have
warned against before. They are a fascistic/demagoguic fundamentalist
movement and they rigged the election. Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei has now had to backtrack and order a selective recount of
some contested areas. The hardcore movement has repsonded by shutting
down the BBC again to a significant extent and clamping down on a
number of freedoms. In short, there is a power struggle going on
between different levels and forns of authority. There is a complex
system of checks and balances and it is reaching deadlock. If massive
fraud is found, the whole election is suspect. Khameinei will need to
handle it well if he is not to lose face. One thing is certain: a large
majority of Iranians disapprove of the foreign and domestic policy of
the Ahmedinejad faction, so if he stays it will have to change. It
would be better if he went and the politics of his followers was
Khamenei has now clearly lost it, realising that if he orders a recount
it will probably lead to a collapse of his authority. he has called for
all demonstrations to stop, declared the election fair, accused the UK
government of being 'evil', and in essence exhibited all the types of
behaviour that have caused many educated Iranians to hope not only for
Ahmedinejan's departure but an end to the paranoid dictatorship of the
fundamentalist theocracy. No doubt the complaint against the British
Government is based on the fact that it funds the BBC World Service,
which has allowed an open discussion of affairs in Iran.
Obama has been careful to stay out of the ring, very wisely. Senator
John McCain has criticised him. Since over the last few days I
accidentally met someone who knew a lot about John NcCain's business
dealings many years ago, someone I have reason to trust, with no axe to
grind and who did not suffer as result, I have rather lost respect for
McCain. Obama's election in the US has no doubt inspired many in Iran
but they do not want external interference. They are brave people who
will fight their own political battles, peacefully as they can. There
must be no excuse for violence from misguided and paranoid militia or
tottering theocrats. Patience is needed, persistence and patriotism.
JUNE 22nd 2009
It seems likely to me that the effective power in Iran at the moment is
being wielded by a strange alliance between ambitious technocrats and
the current controllers of the 'Revolutionary Guards'. They no doubt
feel about Iran as UKIP feel about the United Kingdom. They wish to
control it and own it financially, and they will use Ahmedinjad quite
to bring in the rural vote, and buy it if necessary. Meanwhile the
theocrats will back them as the party to hold the country together as
an Islamic state, continuing as in previous centuries with religious
control of society. Iran will have to work this out the same as any
other country. The worry is they feel they have to defend their choice
and isolation with nuclear weapons, rather like the case with N. Korea,
against the whole of the modernised emancipated world. I would be the
first to admit the modernised world has its problems, but they have to
be worked through. It is one of the axioms of evolution that 'progress'
cannot be avoided, no matter how dangerous.
As to what will happen on the ground now, it is hard to know what to
hope for. Glasnost alone can work an improvement. It seems that the
freedoms allowed in the runup to the election was allowed in the
knowledge that the result was already safe - by one means or another.
When considering the interface of religion and politics in this part of
the world, it is interesting to read of the conflict in Iraq between
conservative/fundamentalists and modernists that spawned much violence.
The British diplomatic staff were evacuated from Baghdad in 1963, their
building burned and few westerners apart from the odd international
airline pilot were found in situ. I passed through myself in the course
of delivering an aircraft to Teheran and was sent smartly on my way at
6am the day after I had touched down with the advice that below 15,000
feet I risked being shot down.
This free sample extract on the web might encourage anyone interested
in that period to get the book. If history repeats itself the future
doesn't look rosy, but history never does, really, does it? (rhetorical)
August 1st 2009
Over the past months, protests against the flawed election process have
continued, innocent people have been shot and now some senior Iranian
political figures have been arrested and will be 'put on trial' for
supporting the protests. If all goes well (which it might not) there
could be some progress here, but the different perspectives in Iran are
indeed difficult to reconcile.
reformers slate trial 'sham'
Iran's biggest reformist party has dismissed the court
100 people, including leading opposition figures, as a "laughable show
The accused are on
trial for alleged involvement in post-election violence, on charges
including acting against national security and vandalism.
Pro-government media reported what they said were confessions by
some of the leading reformists.
But the party, Mosharekat, said the "confessions" had been forced.
It said "even a cooked chicken" would laugh at the charges.
The party was the principal backer of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main
opposition candidate in the 12 June presidential elections.
Meanwhile on his website Mr Mousavi rejected the
authorities' claims that Western countries had fuelled the
Kasra Naji, special correspondent for BBC Persian Television, says
timing and scale of the trial came as a surprise and suggests Iran's
leadership wants to send a message to stop any more protests.
Mohammad Ali Abtahi (left): former
vice-president, member of the Assembly of Combatant Clerics
Mohsen Mirdamadi (centre): leader of the
biggest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front
(right): member of the central council of the Organisation of the
Mujahideen of the Islamic Revolution, former industry minister and
former vice speaker of parliament
: former deputy foreign minister, served under reformist president
Mohammad Khatami, member of Islamic Iran Participation Front
But judging from messages on micro-blogging site twitter and the
internet, our correspondent says, the move may have the opposite
effect, with several people talking about the need for new
demonstrations and calling those on trial "national heroes".
Some of the defendants told the court their earlier
claims of fraud during the 12 June poll were baseless, official media
Allegations of vote-rigging were made by defeated
candidates and their supporters as soon as it became clear President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been re-elected by a large margin.
But former vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi was
quoted by Fars news agency as telling the court: "I say to all my
friends and all friends who hear us, that the issue of fraud in Iran
was a lie and was brought up to create riots."
He said that the aim was to create a "velvet
revolution", referring to the overthrow of Communism in Czechoslovakia
At the trial, pictures from the packed courtroom showed seated
defendants wearing prison uniforms and with guards next to them.
Foreign media, including the BBC, have been restricted
in their coverage of Iran since the election protests turned violent.
12 June Presidential election saw incumbent Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad re-elected with 63% of vote
Main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi called for result
to be annulled, alleging poll fraud
Mass street protests saw at least 30 people killed
and foreign media restricted
Official news agency Irna said other charges against the accused
included "having ties with counter-revolutionary groups", rioting and
conspiring against the ruling system.
The defendants included supporters of opposition
leaders Mr Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi - both defeated in the election -
and aides of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami.
Fars news agency reported that former deputy foreign
minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, former government spokesman Abdollah
Ramazanzadeh, former senior lawmaker Mohsen Mirdamadi and former
Industry Minister Behzad Nabavi were among the defendants.
The protests were the largest mass demonstrations seen
in Iran since the 1979 revolution, which brought the current Islamic
regime to power.
In the days of violence following the re-election of President
Ahmedinejad at least 30 people were killed.
Authorities also arrested hundreds during the protests.
About 140 people arrested at the time were released from prison on
Tuesday, with a further 200 accused of more serious crimes remaining in
Opposition groups believe the number of prisoners and those killed
in the violence to be higher.
Mr Ahmadinejad is due to be officially sworn in on 5 August.
Clashes have continued since his election, most recently during
mourning to mark 40 days since the death of Neda Agha Soltan, who was
shot as she watched protests on 20 June.
Story from BBC NEWS:
SEPTEMBER 25th 2009
The reason why Iran is a problem is not that it poses an immediate
nuclear risk. It is that it never ever comes clean, always tries to
deceive, and is undermining the nuclear non-proliferation treaty - a
try which MUST hold so that the established nuclear powers can between
them agree nuclear arms reduction and eventuall put all nuclear arms
under international control, their number minimised and retained only
as a global defense capability should it be used for either a new rogue
element or an asteroid collision risk.
'concealed nuclear facility'
Iran concealed a partially-built second uranium enrichment
defiance of calls for transparency over its nuclear plans, US President
Barack Obama says.
The US, UK and France
said the UN had to be given immediate access and urged tough new
sanctions, while Russia also said it was "seriously concerned".
But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied that the facility
was in breach of IAEA rules.
The Western leaders would regret their statements, he added.
Iran told the UN about the plant on Monday, saying it was not
operational yet and would provide nuclear energy.
Tehran has previously acknowledged it has one enrichment plant, at
“ Iran must abandon any military ambitions for
its nuclear programme ”
Gordon Brown UK Prime Minister
Iran's decision to build a secret facility represented a "direct
challenge to the basic compact" of the global non-proliferation regime,
US President Barack Obama said, making a statement in Pittsburgh, where
he is hosting a G20 summit.
Despite Iran's assertions that the facility was for
peaceful purposes, the new plant was "not consistent" with that goal,
the US president said.
'Line in the sand'
Speaking alongside UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French
Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Obama said it was time for Iran to begin meeting
its international commitments.
ANALYSIS BBC World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds
Iranian ambitions for this site are not known. It could be that they
wanted a back-up in case their main plant at Natanz was attacked. But
another fear is that they intended to enrich uranium more highly at the
secret plant, to a level suitable for a nuclear explosion.
The discovery will strengthen the demands by the US and
its allies for further sanctions to be imposed on Iran unless it
suspends all enrichment, as required by the Security Council.
"Iran must comply with UN Security Council resolutions and make
it is prepared to meet its responsibilities as a member of the
community of nations," Mr Obama said.
Tehran would be held accountable for any failure to meet these
responsibilities, he said.
Speaking after Mr Obama, the French and British leaders used strong
language to insist that Iran would now have to disclose full details of
its entire nuclear programme or face new and tougher sanctions.
Gordon Brown stressed that the US, France and UK were
"at one" on the issue, and accused the Iranians of "serial deception".
There was now "no choice but to draw a line in the sand" over the
nuclear issue, he said.
"Iran must abandon any military ambitions for its nuclear
Mr Sarkozy said the situation was a challenge to the entire
"Everything must be put on the table," the French president said,
adding that the world needed to see a "step change" from Iran in the
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, informed of the
plant's existence by Mr Obama this week, said the second plant was
against the requirements of UN Security Council resolutions.
Iran must co-operate fully with the UN watchdog, the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mr Medvedev said.
China also said Iran should work with the UN watchdog, a foreign
ministry spokesman said in Pittsburgh.
Speaking in New York, where he has been attending the UN General
Assembly, Iran's President Ahmadinejad struck a defiant tone after the
"It's not a secret site. If it was, why would we have informed the
IAEA about it a year ahead of time?" he said.
He insisted Iran was acting within the boundaries of IAEA rules,
it does not need to inform the agency of any new site until 180 days
before any nuclear material is placed within it.
The existence of Iran's first enrichment plant, at
Natanz, was only confirmed after intelligence emerged from Iranian
exile groups several years ago.
Western governments are said to have known of the
existence of the new enrichment plant for some time. Mr Obama was first
told about it during the "transition" period before he took office in
January, officials say.
In Washington, US officials said the Western nations
decided to reveal their intelligence assessments when the Iranians
realised the plant's secrecy was compromised.
IRAN'S NUCLEAR SITES
Iran insists that all its nuclear facilities are for
energy, not military purposes
Bushehr: Nuclear power plant
Isfahan: Uranium conversion plant
Natanz: Uranium enrichment plant, 4,592 working
centrifuges, with 3,716 more installed
Second enrichment plant: Existence revealed to IAEA in
Separate reports say it is near Qom, and not yet operational
Arak: Heavy water plant
The new facility is said to be underground at a mountain on the site
a former missile site belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,
north-east of the holy city of Qom.
Construction on the facility - believed by the US to be
large enough to contain 3,000 centrifuges, not large enough for
commercial work - started in earnest in mid-2006, diplomatic sources
Iran's letter to the UN watchdog, the IAEA, on Monday
informed it that "a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under
Iran told the agency that no nuclear material had been
introduced into the plant, and enrichment levels would only be high
enough to make nuclear fuel, not a bomb.
In response, the IAEA has requested Iran to "provide
specific information and access to the facility as soon as possible",
an IAEA statement adds.
The disclosure of the new plant comes one day after
world leaders stressed the need for greater co-operation against
nuclear proliferation and shortly before Iran is due to resume talks
with international powers on the issue.
Since taking office in January, Mr Obama has told
Tehran than he is ready for direct talks on the nuclear issue, but has
had no firm response from Iran.
Earlier this month, Tehran agreed to "comprehensive"
talks on a range of security issues - but made no mention of its own
The talks are due to be held in Geneva on 1 October
with Tehran and the five permanent UN Security Council members - US,
UK, Russia, China and France - plus Germany.
Story from BBC NEWS:
The International Community will demand access right away to the newly
publicly admitted Iranian underground facility. The Iranian Government
will comply, unless they are completely in the hands of idiots, which I
OCTOBER 01 2009
U.S., Iran face off at six-power nuclear talks
By Louis Charbonneau
GENEVA (Reuters) – Six world powers held talks with Iran on Thursday that
U.S. officials said would need to convince them Tehran was prepared to
show it was not hiding plans for a nuclear bomb.
Underlining they would not threaten fresh sanctions against Tehran
had prepared them in case the talks made no progress, Washington also
said there could be an opportunity for a rare bilateral meeting with
"This can't be a phony process," a senior U.S. official said in
Washington. "It can't be a process where they go through the motions."
U.S. diplomats sat alongside those from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China for
the talks near Geneva
on how to end the long-running standoff over Iran's nuclear program,
which Tehran says is designed purely for generating electricity.
Tehran had said the program was not up for discussion and the talks
should focus on regional issues like Afghanistan, but a Western diplomat close
to the meeting said Iran's nuclear negotiator had touched on it in his
The diplomat said it was not yet clear if the Iranians would give
signs behind closed doors that they would be open to a compromise on
the issue of suspending uranium enrichment, as demanded by five U.N. Security Council
Western diplomats said they also want Iran to allow immediate U.N.
inspections of a second uranium enrichment facility at Qom, which
Tehran revealed only last week, and provide access to documents and
people working there.
'THE ENGAGEMENT TRACK'
In Washington, senior Obama administration officials said the United
States would not threaten Iran with fresh sanctions at the one-day
talks. "This is the engagement track ... not the pressure track," one
senior official said.
But the official said the United States has been preparing "a range
of areas" in which to pursue sanctions against Iran if Tehran ignores
Western entreaties about its nuclear program.
The officials would not elaborate on the sanctions, which experts
believe may be targeted at the energy sector. They said consultations
had been active and sanctions could be applied through the U.N. Security Council
or by individual states.
"You're in a much better position to prepare the ground on the
track if you have demonstrated unmistakably that you're doing
everything you can on the engagement side," one official said.
The meeting at the elegant villa made available by the Swiss for
decades to bring foes together was the first time a U.S. official was a
"full participant" in such talks.
U.S. officials said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs
William Burns, head of the U.S. delegation, was not actively seeking
one-on-one talks with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili but would
not reject one if the opportunity arose.
A Burns-Jalili meeting would be the highest level U.S.-Iran talks in
nearly 30 years. Washington severed relations with Tehran in 1980
during a hostage crisis
in the wake of Iran's Islamic Revolution.
The administration of former
Bush reluctantly began to take part in
multilateral talks with Iran
toward the end of his presidency. President Barack Obama, Bush's successor,
has said he wants to improve U.S.-Iranian ties but Tehran has reacted
coolly to his overtures.
WEST EYES RUSSIAN, CHINESE REACTION
Professor Mohammad Marandi, head of North American studies at Tehran
university, said the Iranians expected the six powers to accept it had
a right to a nuclear program.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in New York
last week his delegation would ask at the Geneva meeting that Iran be
allowed to buy enriched uranium for medical purposes from the United
States or any other country prepared to sell it.
A U.S. official said Washington would make clear that it was not
prepared to sell Iran any uranium.
The Western powers also want to gauge Russian and Chinese
reaction to last week's announcement that Tehran had been concealing
the uranium enrichment plant at Qom. Western diplomats said Moscow and
Beijing seemed to share their concern.
"The Russians and Chinese don't want a nuclear-armed Iran," a
Western diplomat told Reuters. "They've made that clear."
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in London he hoped
Iran realized it had to abandon its nuclear plans.
"Recent events including the fact that Iran had not declared the
existence of a nuclear site testifies to the importance of this issue
and stresses the need for an increased international, political and
diplomatic pressure on Iran," he told reporters.
The senior U.S. official said Thursday's talks could not be an
"open-ended process or talks just for the sake of talks," but that the
issue was likely to need more than one meeting.
Obama has said he wants progress before the end of the year.
The six powers also want a clear response from Iran to their offer of
economic and political incentives in exchange for a suspension of
(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Steve
Holland in Washington, Fredrik Dahl in Tehran and Jonathan Saul in
London; editing by Philippa Fletcher
OCTOBER 3rd 2009
Amid the concerns, some progress...
'co-operation' draws praise
The US and the UN have given an upbeat assessment of the
possibility of settling the nuclear dispute with Iran.
US National Security Adviser Jim Jones said Tehran was now "willing
come to the table", following talks this week between Iran and major
The head of the UN's nuclear agency, who is in Tehran, said there
had been a "gear shift" towards co-operation.
He announced that inspectors would visit a newly revealed nuclear
site in the Iranian city of Qom, on 25 October.
The BBC's Richard Lister in Washington says the US administration is
still a long way from taking Iranian co-operation on the nuclear issue
for granted, but it does see some reasons for optimism.
Asked about Iran's offer to allow inspection of the Qom
uranium enrichment facility and its agreement in principle to ship
nuclear materials to Russia for re-processing, Mr Jones said these were
"very significant" moves.
IRAN'S NUCLEAR SITES
Iran insists that all its nuclear facilities are for
energy, not military purposes
Bushehr: Nuclear power plant
Isfahan: Uranium conversion plant
Natanz: Uranium enrichment plant, 4,592 working
centrifuges, with 3,716 more installed
Second enrichment plant: Existence revealed to IAEA in
Separate reports say it is near Qom, and not yet operational
Arak: Heavy water plant
"We now have an Iran that is willing to come to the table," he told
CBS television on Sunday.
Earlier the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency,
Mohamed ElBaradei, said in Tehran that inspectors would ensure that the
Qom facility was for "peaceful purposes".
He added: "I see that we are shifting gears from
confrontation into transparency and co-operation. I continue, of
course, to call on Iran to be as transparent as possible."
Mr ElBaradei's visit comes as the New York Times quoted
an internal IAEA report as saying Iran could have the know-how to
produce a workable nuclear bomb.
The confidential report, excerpts of which have also
been published on the website of the Institute for Science and
International Security (ISIS), emphasises that its conclusions are
tentative and unconfirmed.
"The agency... assesses that Iran has sufficient
information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion
nuclear device," ISIS quoted the report as saying.
The New York Times said this went well beyond the
public positions taken by the US and other countries on the possibility
of Iran creating a bomb.
Mr Jones told CBS that whether Tehran was in a position to do so
remained a matter of "conjecture".
However on Sunday the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, told NBC
television that Iran had a "finite period" to come to a settlement on
its nuclear programme.
"We're not interested in talking for talking sake," she said.
But she declined to set a deadline for Tehran to allow full
Tehran insists it has the right to develop nuclear energy, but the
revelation of the second enrichment facility has heightened fears among
Western governments that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran denies any attempt to develop a military nuclear capability.
The UN Security Council has demanded a halt to uranium enrichment
The talks in Geneva earlier this week between Iran and six major
- the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany -
were the first since July 2008.
Officials said the talks marked "engagement" on the
part of Tehran after the country agreed to co-operate "fully and
immediately" on opening the second enrichment facility to inspectors.
The two sides also agreed to hold further talks in October.
Story from BBC NEWS:
NOVEMBER 27th 2009
The UN and IAEA are losing patience with Iran's dysfunctional
Russia an China are in accord with the US and Europe.
What deals Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia have going to keep them from
joining the rest of the world on this is a matter or speculation
rebuked by UN nuclear body
The UN nuclear watchdog's governing body has passed a
condemning Iran for developing a uranium enrichment site in secret.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also demanded that
Iran freeze the project immediately.
The resolution, the first against Iran in nearly four years, was
passed by a 25-3 margin with six abstentions.
Iran called the move "useless" but the US said it showed time was
running out for Iran to address key issues.
Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes,
but the US says it is seeking nuclear weapons.
In September, it emerged that as well as its uranium enrichment
facility at Natanz, Iran had a second such facility near the town of
The revelation deepened Western fears about the country's nuclear
The IAEA resolution was passed with rare Russian and Chinese
backing. Only Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia voted against it.
“ I believe the next stage will have to be
sanctions if Iran does not respond to what is a very clear vote ”
It called on Iran to reveal the purpose of the second plant and
that it is not building any other undeclared nuclear facilities.
After the resolution, the US said Iran needed to
address "the growing international deficit of confidence in its
"Our patience and that of the international community
is limited, and time is running out," White House spokesman Robert
"If Iran refuses to meet its obligations, then it will
be responsible for its own growing isolation and the consequences."
Speaking at a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and
Tobago, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that sanctions were the
next step if Iran did not respond to what was "a very clear vote".
Russia's Foreign Ministry urged Iran to react "with full
seriousness" to the resolution.
ANALYSIS Jon Leyne, BBC Tehran correspondent
This resolution is a sign of Iran's growing isolation. It is the first
at the IAEA since 2006. Crucially it secured the support of Russia and
China. That makes it more likely they will vote for new sanctions on
Iran when debate is stepped up in the new year, though there are still
some tough negotiations ahead.
It seems that Iran's hesitation over a new fuel deal for
its Tehran research reactor and its reluctance to engage in more
constructive talks has infuriated even those countries which have
protected it in the past.
On Thursday IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, who has always
pressed for a compromise solution, expressed his frustration in dealing
In response, Iran has threatened to reduce its
co-operation with the UN nuclear watchdog, but not to break off ties
completely. The real trouble for Tehran is that the Iranian government
now seems to be in too much internal turmoil to make clear decisions
and follow them through.
But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called the
IAEA vote "a theatrical move aimed at pressuring Iran" that would be
"useless", state news agency Irna reported.
And Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar
Soltanieh, said it was a "hasty and undue" step that would jeopardise
the chances of success in negotiations.
"The great nation of Iran will never bow to pressure
and intimidation vis-a-vis its inalienable right to peaceful uses of
nuclear energy," he said.
The resolution came a day after the outgoing head of
the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, expressed frustration at Iran's refusal to
accept an international proposal to end the dispute over its nuclear
The plan envisages Iran's low-enriched uranium being
shipped overseas for processing into fuel. This is seen as a way for
Iran to get the fuel it wants, while giving guarantees to the West that
it will not be used for nuclear weapons.
Addressing IAEA governors in Vienna on Thursday, Mr
ElBaradei said his inspectors had made no progress in their attempts to
verify the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.
"It is now well over a year since the agency was last
able to engage Iran in discussions about these outstanding issues," he
said. "We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages
fully with us."
Story from BBC NEWS:
NOVEMBER 30th 2009 Western nations have warned Iran not to defy international
demands by building 10 uranium enrichment sites.
from Iran, indicating that
the Revolutionary Guard are shaking their spears. While we should make
it clear this is not helpful there is not need to get excited. We
have to wait for the Iranians to sort their own country out. They are
not about to attack anyone; this is all to do with their own problems.
FEBRUARY 06 2010
Unfortunately western officials are right, there is nothing genuine in
the words coming from Iran. They do not accept the concept of
negotiated agreements and are saying they have the right to decide
unilaterally on the terms of any future agreement and to ignore the
terms of the non-proliferation treaty they have signed already.
Western officials dismiss Iranian nuclear proposal
By DAVID RISING and DESMOND
BUTLER, Associated Press Writers
MUNICH – Iran's
nuclear program have yet to
be backed up by any concrete actions, Western officials said Saturday
at a gathering of the world's top defense officials.
AUGUST 8th 2010
After a distinct lack of progress the world is now applying some quite
serious sanctions and this is a good idea. Why? because they are being
applied consistently across the international community. The reason for
this success is, in my view, a growing realisation that the
'Revolutionary Guard' were gradually taking control of Iran's finances,
assets and nuclear facilities. If there is one thing worse than a
fundamentalist religious government controlling a country it is a bunch
of nationalist fanatics who can terrorise some of their opponents and
get their hands on enough income to dominate or bribe the rest. We are
better off with a mix of Ayatollahs, genuine patriots and intelligent
diplomats and industrialists even if it is sprinkled with some
intractable xenophobic and dictatorial elements. Iranians do not want
the Revolutionary Guard running their country. One of the major worries
I have had about American policy is that it has sometimes played into
JANUARY 22nd 2011
negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear programme say they are
"disappointed" after a round of talks ended without progress in
EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton, who led the international
team, said Iran had come to the talks with pre-conditions.
Q & A on the nuclear issues: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11709428
A few days ago Britain stopped all banking relations with Iran on the
basis of the latest report from the IAEA that Iran was continuing to
develop nuclear weapon technology. The events in Teheran are a mix of
confused behaviour from the various parts of the Iranian government and
security services. The latter conspicuously avoided their duty to
protect the British Embassy. It is not clear if we are heading to a
hostage situation. The truth is Iran is hurting in the current global
financial climate on top of its usual hurt for wich it is itself to
All British staff have safely left Iran. The Embassy is closed. Iranian
diplomats have been given 48 hrs to leave Britain and their Embassy in
London will be closed. I think that is the best procedure in Iran sorts
itself out with its own coherent government that can act with a single
voice. At the moment there about 3 distinct power centres.
DECEMBER 20th 2011
The situation vis-a-vis "PRESS TV" and whether reciprocal treatment of
Iran is permissible and equitable is an extremely complex one. I make
no judgement at this time. I suggest you read all this carefully so as
well as providing the link I have pasted the text here. Treating Iran
'as a whole' is not necessarily pragmatically sensible given that Iran
is not 'a whole', it is a frightened incoherent mess that could unite
around an extreme position if threatened, while being unable to unite
around a reasonable position for historic, topical, religious and
geographical reasons. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16317282
TV influence takes shape on Press TV
the British embassy in Tehran and the expulsion of Iranian
diplomats from London propelled UK-Iranian engagement into the deep
freeze. But in the world of television, relations have been frosty for
a glossy, English-medium channel that comes under the umbrella of
Iran's state broadcaster, the IRIB. In the UK it is available on the
Sky satellite service.
presenters include the former MP George Galloway
and, until earlier this year, it counted on the services of the former
London Mayor, Ken Livingstone.
in London sells programmes to Iran, mainly talk shows, and Press
TV International in Tehran produces most of the news and documentaries.
launched in 2007, its stated aim was to give Western audiences
what it called "a second eye".
anti-sanctions against Iran, and critical of
Western - especially US and UK - foreign policy.
UK, the channel has come under scrutiny. Earlier this monthPress
regulator Ofcom, who upheld a complaint by Maziar
film-maker of Iranian origin, Bahari was in Iran in 2009
covering the presidential election for Channel 4 News and Newsweek
demonstrations that followed the contested election.
arrested, accused of being a spy, held in solitary confinement
that if he did a television interview according to a
pre-agreed script, he would be released.
of the crews who came to film the "interview" was from Press
wrote the scenario and it was divided into
questions and answers. The reporters asked the questions and I gave the
answers, so we were basically reading from the same sheet," he toldRadio
aired a report claiming the Western media's coverage of the
demonstrations was biased, they included a clip from Bahari's prison
released after 180 days in jail, he returned to the UK and made
a complaint to Ofcom.
solicitor who acts for Press TV, says the channel realises
interviewing prisoners under arrest is not ideal.
something Press TV can live with," he says.
it may help reinforce the image amongst Press TV supporters
that in fact Ofcom is treating Press TV more harshly than it might have
treated other news channels."
one of the US embassy cables from February 2010 that was
released by Wikileaks.
is exploring ways to limit the operations of the
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's Press TV service, which
operates a large bureau - over 80 staff - in London," it read.
this is evidence that Press TV in the UK is under
Wikileaks that in fact the British government has discussed
Press TV at the highest level with their American counterparts.
that it is just another channel in the same way that you
might look at a French or German channel just isn't credible.
obviously viewed differently. That means it is watched like a
is no doubt that the authorities are watching the BBC's
Persian television, according to its head, Sadeq Saba.
been jamming BBC Persian television on and off for the
last three years.
certain programmes. A couple of months ago we made a
documentary about Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, and they
started jamming it on all satellites.
'intelligent' jamming - they jam programmes they think are
most harmful to them," he said.
jamming of BBC Persian in Iran is a good argument for taking
Press TV off the air in the UK.
should be banned at least because of reciprocity. People who
are working for BBC Persian in Iran can be charged with espionage, they
can be incarcerated, they can even be executed."
why some people feel strongly.
people who say something must be done because the BBC
is not allowed to operate in Iran and Press TV is operating in London,"
BBC has no bureau, this is an anomaly. We could easily jam
Iran, but we never do that because we believe in freedom of expression."
from the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military
Intervention in Iran, says it is unfair to compare the jamming of the
BBC in Iran with any proposal to take Press TV off the air in the UK.
see themselves in a state of siege," he says.
by US military bases, they are threatened with military
attack, and there are covert military operations in Iran.
things exist for the UK. So it is not an equal situation."
between the UK and Iran on ice, and tensions high
across the Middle East, all television will inevitably find its output
subject to scrutiny and debate.
JANUARY 7th 2012
While relations between Iran and the US are as bad as ever, the
rescuing of some Iranian fishermen from Somali pirates gives some (not
all) in Iran some embarrassment. Let's face it, Irans citizens are
terrorized by their own Revolutionary Guard and the Mullahs are
terrified of them too. Fanatics have that ability, in the absence of a
rational, secular, democratic state to get away with murder.