Friday, June 30, 2006

Russia, U.S. Hold Different Views on Iran, UN, China — Poll

Created: 29.06.2006 12:40 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:40 MSK

"muclear iran"--In order to gain a better understanding of how Americans are viewed around the world, recently released the findings of its own poll based on over 2,000 interviews with Russian and American citizens in April 2006. The poll focused on dividing Russian and American sentiments on political and economic issues pertaining both to one another and to other international actors, specifically China and Iran, Falls Church News Press reports.

One of the central objectives of the poll was to measure tensions between the United States and Russia. asked five main questions to gauge this: Do you think (name of country) has a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world? How favorably do you view their a) system of government, b) economic system, c) use of military power and the threat of force, and d) head-of-state?

Predictably, both Russia and the United States view their own acts and institutions favorably, with two notable exceptions: 60% of Russians view their economic system unfavorably (compared with 31% favorably), while 51% of Americans view George W. Bush unfavorably (compared with 45% favorably, which is considerably higher than recent polls suggest).

Russians also seem fairly divided on their own system of government, with 47% giving favorable ratings compared to 43% voting unfavorably.

Impressions, the one of the other, however, tend to differ. The poll shows that the United States has negative views across the board on Russian government, economy, policy, and leadership. Americans did, however, believe that Russian foreign policy has had a positive effect on the United States and its interests.

Russia, meanwhile, views American government and economy very positively, while registering unfavorable ratings on all other fronts. Most spectacularly, 74% of Russians believe America uses military power and the threat of force negatively, compared with only 13% who gave the U.S. positive ratings.

From these questions, the polls show clearly that citizens of both countries favor American government and economic systems, but are down on George W. Bush.

This data suggests several conclusions about alliances between these countries moving forward. The numbers indicate Russia’s preference for China as a partner in world affairs.

The study also gauged perceptions on nuclear proliferation, in general, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, specifically. Both Americans and Russians believe that the United Nations should take an active role in discouraging countries from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that Iran is currently attempting to develop them. Americans, perhaps because they recognize that the United States is viewed unfavorably by much of the world, seem to be more alarmed at the prospect of this new proliferation, with 64% saying they would be very concerned, compared with only 29% of Russian citizens.

More importantly, however, is the methodological divide between Americans and Russians in regards to how to deter these nuclear ambitions. While 24% of Americans regard bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities as an option, only 7% of Russians agree with this course. And though over 70% of both countries would prefer continuing diplomatic efforts over military strikes, 68% of Americans believe the United Nations should vote to impose economic sanctions against Iran if it persists, compared with only 23% of Russians.

Both countries are largely divided on Russian President Putin’s effort to negotiate a deal with Iran to exchange nuclear fuel for assurances that Iran will not pursue nuclear weapons. It is marginally favored by Russians and marginally rejected by Americans.

In analyzing the data, the organization was able to make many wide-ranging, if general, assertions. While Russia and the United States are in unison on some important issues, they differ greatly on others. While they both had negative views of Iran’s nuclear program, they disagreed on the use and effectiveness of economic and military sanctions. While they agreed on the role of the United Nations in discouraging nuclear proliferation, they held very different views towards China, as well as each other’s role in the world.

The poll also indicates that while Americans are ambivalent about their government’s use of military force, the role of Russia and China in international affairs, and their own President, they are consistently very positive about their own democracy and role in the world. This runs at odds with Russian sentiment, which questions America’s global policy in praxis.
Source:moscow news
posted by ali ghannadi

G-8 Gives Iran A Deadline; Now What?

June 30, 2006

"nuclear iran"--Negotiations between Iran and the international community are shifting into a higher gear. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her fellow foreign ministers from the so-called G-8 industrialized nations agreed in Moscow this week on a set of meetings over the next two weeks which could result in finding out whether Iran will abandon its nuclear weapons program.

On July 5, the European Union's Javier Solana will meet with Ali Larijani, Iran's designated point man on the nuclear issue. The G-8 ministers, disappointed they haven't received a response to an offer of economic and energy-related incentives said, in a statement issued at the conclusion of their Moscow meeting, "We expect to hear a clear and substantive Iranian response to these proposals at the planned meeting ... on 5 July."

According to senior State Department officials, speaking to reporters on background, Rice suggested a follow-up meeting of foreign ministers on July 12 where the representatives of the international community who made the offer to Iran can assess Tehran's response.

The timing of these two meetings is meant to find out whether Tehran will give up its nuclear weapons ambitions before President Bush and other G-8 leaders gather in mid-July in St. Petersburg, Russia. Now the question is, will Iran actually give a clear answer to the offer on the table? It is hard to find an American official who has been dealing with this issue who will actually predict the Iranians will do what is being demanded. Skepticism varies among Washington's partners but the simple fact is no one seems to have a real handle on what Iran will decide. If it chooses to ignore the incentive package offered, senior American officials say the alternative is to return to the path leading to sanctions from the U.N. Security Council.

However, the real problem will be what to do if Larijani, as many expect, comes to the July 5 meeting and offers to accept part of the package but reject other parts. The Iranians have a reputation as both good diplomats and good bargainers. Even if they eventually sign on to a deal, it's unlikely they'll do it on Washington's timeline. Senior State Department officials say they expect the Iran nuclear issue to be a key part of the G-8 leaders' agenda, just as it was this week for their foreign ministers' meeting.

As of now, Rice and her top aides appear to be holding their coalition partners together despite Iranian efforts to drive a wedge between them. Whether they can continue to do so will depend on what Larijani has to say, and senior officials candidly acknowledge they're not exactly certain about the next diplomatic steps.

By Charles Wolfson
©MMVI CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
posted by ali ghanndi-irannuk

Iran rejects G8 deadline

July 01, 2006
"nuclear iran"-- Iran has dismissed a deadline of July 5 from the Group of Eight industrialised nations to give a "clear and substantive response" to an offer of incentives for Tehran to scale back its nuclear program.
Iran said yesterday it needed until August, threatening to drive a wedge between the G8 members in the run-up to the group's summit in St Petersburg from July 15 to July 17.

A meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Moscow on Thursday failed to agree on how to respond if Iran did not reply, or turned down the June 6 offer from the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The foreign ministers bowed to Russian pressure not to mention the issue of Moscow's recent moves to curb democracy.

Critics of the Kremlin had called for Western leaders to boycott the summit because of President Vladimir Putin's moves to reassert control over parliament, the media and the energy industry. At the very least, they wanted Western leaders to criticise Russia for falling short of the G8 membership criteria of being a democracy and a liberal market economy.

But Russian democracy was not even mentioned at the meeting, which was dominated by Iran. A statement issued afterwards said: "We are disappointed by the absence of an official Iranian response to this positive proposal.

"We expect to hear a clear and substantive response" at the July5 meeting between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu urged Iran to respond "as soon as possible" to the offer.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov admitted the meeting did not consider imposing sanctions, which Moscow and Beijing oppose, if Iran turned down the incentives.

There was no official response from Tehran, which has said it would respond by August 22.

Western officials said the six big powers - the US, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany - would review progress on July 12, before the G8 summit.

"Everyone's waiting to see what happens on July 5," British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said.

"This is a meeting of the foreign ministers to discuss a range of issues that concern the members of the G8," she said.

"There are two pretty obvious issues: one, the issue of Iran; theother, events in the Middle East. It's not altogether surprising that those issues dominated the agenda."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington would not hesitate to raise its concerns about Russian democracy and Moscow's reliability as an energy supplier.

source:The Times
posted by ali ghanandi-irannuk

EU, Iran officials to meet on July 5

Moscow, July 1

"nuclear iran"--Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Friday, Iran will set a date for giving its final answer to the international offer to end the standoff over its nuclear programme next week.

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

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

At a meeting on Thursday, Foreign Ministers from the eight major industrial powers said they wanted Tehran's full answer next week.

"We expect to hear a clear and substantive Iranian response to these proposals," their statement said.

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

posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Analysis: U.S-Iran nuclear debacle

By William D. Hartung Jun 30, 2006, 19:08 GMT

"nuclear iran"-- The Bush administration`s pledge to talk with Iran about its nuclear program comes against the backdrop of massive U.S. nuclear superiority. Iran appears to be seeking a nuclear weapon that could be produced five to 10 years from now. By contrast, as of January of this year the United States had 5,735 active nuclear warheads, with another 4,235 held in reserve. To put it mildly, the nuclear scorecard is rather heavily tilted towards Washington: U.S. 10,000, Iran zero. This 'do as I say, not as I do' approach to nuclear weapons will not serve the U.S. well in negotiations with Iran.

Even given this major flaw in the U.S. stance, the Bush administration`s decision to offer the possibility of direct talks with Iran is a potentially good sign. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had to fight a fierce internal battle with Vice President Dick Cheney to get an offer of talks of any sort on the table.

That being said, there are clear down sides to the idea of 'diplomacy' as conceived by the Bush administration. For example, one administration official has suggested that part of the point of the U.S. overture was the hope that Iran would reject it, thereby freeing up the administration to take more forceful action, up to and including U.S. air strikes.

Given this background, opponents of U.S. military action need to support talks with Iran while pointing out the challenges involved.

First, the notion that Iran needs to shut down its nuclear enrichment activities before the U.S. will even speak with Tehran makes no sense. Step-by-step actions on each side would be far more effective.

Second, the U.S. still has not renounced the idea of taking military action against Iran. Even as it offers talks, the Bush administration is working with anti-government militias whose ultimate goal is to overthrow the Iranian government.

Third, there is a strong nationalist current in Iran in favor of continuing its nuclear program. This is a tough political issue that any Iranian leader will need to address.

Fourth, Iran is in the vicinity of nuclear-armed nations Israel and Pakistan. It may feel that the potential threats from these countries, along with U.S. pledges to keep the military option 'on the table' vis-Ã -vis Tehran, compel it to seek nuclear weapons.

Fifth, if the U.S. and Russia don`t take further steps to reduce their arsenals of thousands of nuclear weapons, Iran and other potential proliferators will point to this hypocritical stance as yet another reason to pursue their own weapons programs.

The latest offer to Iran includes spare parts for Iranian aircraft, assistance in developing light-water nuclear reactors in partnership with other nations, and a commitment by the United States and Europe to support Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization. In order to trigger these potential benefits, Iran would have to freeze its nuclear activities, most importantly the use of centrifuges to enrich uranium. The offer also holds out the hope that Iran might one day be allowed to enrich uranium on its own soil, if it meets UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency standards of proof that it is not seeking nuclear weapons -- a process that Bush administration officials suggest could take years, if not decades.

It should be no surprise that this new package has not convinced Iran to suspend its nuclear program. If it really wants to make progress, the U.S. should give the negotiating process months or years, not weeks, to bear fruit. Non-aggression pledges by the United States and Israel should also be part of the mix. Given that an Iranian bomb is at least five to 10 years away, there is plenty of time to talk.

But U.S. talks with Iran should involve genuine diplomacy, not political maneuvering designed to set the stage for U.S. military action.

(William D. Hartung is a Senior Research Fellow at the World Policy Institute at the New School for Social Research and the Director of the Institute`s Arms Trade Resource Center (

Copyright 2006 by United Press International
posted by ali ghanandi-irannuk

A grand bargain between U.S., Iran?

june 28,2006
By Trudy Rubin
"nuclear iran"--The most fascinating part of my trip to Iran in late May was how much Iranian officials wanted to talk about holding talks with the United States.

Shortly after I left Tehran, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reversed nearly three decades of U.S. policy on Iran and announced U.S. willingness to talk directly with Iranians. Such meetings would be part of broader, European-led negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.

Given the gulf between the two sides, this tete-À-tete may never happen. But the Iranians' murky political system and negotiating style shouldn't obscure the mutual benefits of such a dialogue. If the Iranian regime is serious, talks could help stabilize the Middle East.

Skeptics will point out that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." He has also made clear he believes Iran's interests lie with Russia and China rather than with the West.

But Ahmadinejad is not the man in charge of Iranian policy decisions of this magnitude, I was told repeatedly by Iranian officials and analysts. Elected leaders are subordinate to senior clerics. Foreign policy is in the hands of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has endorsed talks with the United States.

"Agreement to negotiate with the U.S. comes from the leadership," I was told by Foad Sadeghi, director of Baztab (BusStop), one of Iran's most widely read Web sites. Sadeghi is close to Mohsen Rezaee, former head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards and Secretary of the Expediency Council, which screens all political candidates.

"If our presidents... had the power to make such a decision," Sadeghi continued, "you can be sure that Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] and Mr. [Mohammad] Khatami would have already negotiated with the United States." He was referring to past overtures by these two former presidents, overtures the United States rejected - in part because of suspicions they didn't have the support of Khamenei.

But even if Khamenei has endorsed a dialogue, can this regime be trusted? Iran supports Hamas and Hezbollah, which are on the U.S. terrorist list, refuses to recognize Israel, and is stirring the pot in Iraq. The Europeans, and even Russia and China, want Iran to satisfy concerns about whether its nuclear program is peaceful or is meant to produce nuclear weapons.

Yet officials working under Khamenei indicate many of these issues could be on the table, if talks on nuclear issues were expanded.

"The United States needs Iran's help, not confrontation," I was told by Mohammad Jaafari, deputy to Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. "Iran is the one who can help in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon. If the present administration doesn't realize that, the next one will."

Jaafari's confident prediction stems from the fact that the Iraq war has strengthened Iran's hand in the region. America ousted Iran's two chief enemies, the Afghan Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Saddam's fall produced a Shiite-led government in Iraq that depends on support from coreligionists in Iran.

However, the United States and Iran have common interests in stability in Iraq and Afghanistan (even though Iran has been meddling in Iraq to create problems for U.S. forces). Jaafari's message was that Iranian-U.S. rapprochement could improve matters in Iraq. Indeed, he would have been the lead negotiator had U.S.-Iranian talks on Iraq not been postponed.

Jaafari's larger message was that America needs Iran's help in the entire Middle East. In other words, the United States should be conducting a broad strategic dialogue with Tehran, not just talks on Iraq or nuclear weapons.

Would Iran be willing to discuss its aid to terrorist groups, and an end to its inflammatory policy on Israel? Would it accept that Washington would continue to press human-rights issues? Unclear. Would it consider freezing its nuclear program? So far officials say, "No."

What is clear is that Tehran wants U.S. recognition of its new role as Mideast power-broker. "Ayatollah Khamenei's diplomacy... is based on national interest," the Web-site chief, Sadeghi, told me. "If he feels that the U.S. will not give concessions to Iran, negotiations will never occur." (This may explain Khamenei's remarks that Iran does "not need" talks with America.)

"Ayatollah Khamenei will not sell Tehran's visa to anyone cheaply," Sadeghi said. "If the U.S. wants to solve its problem in the Middle East... it is better to think in terms of mutual concessions with Iran."

If Iran is indeed open to "mutual" concessions, such a grand bargain is worth considering. Otherwise, any dialogue will fail.

posted by ali ghanandi-irannuk

Why Iran is taking its time

By Sanam Vakil
Jun 30, 2006
"nuclear iran"--Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

As the world cautiously awaits the official Iranian response to the 5+1 (UN Permanent Five plus Germany) nuclear proposal that includes an offer of direct talks with the United States, Tehran has pursued delaying tactics in responding to the proposal, foreshadowing the difficulties that lie ahead. Clearly, the regime is struggling to assess its options in the wake of the Bush administration's continued pressure over Tehran's two ticking clocks - one nuclear, the other democratic. The nuclear clock

represents international pressures; the democratic clock, internal pressure.

These ticking clocks are important to consider as Iran ponders the nuclear offer, and the administration of US President George W Bush continues to pressure the regime and stimulate the Iranian people with words about democracy and freedom. At the same time, Iran has been subject to a burst of domestic hostility toward the regime from students, ethnic minorities and religious leaders. Undoubtedly, this increase in internal activity has made the regime feel the ticking of its democratic clock. While Washington hopes to stimulate this movement, Tehran aims to re-create a situation that balances its nuclear clock while stalling its democratic one. Understanding the dynamics behind these two clocks is necessary to deconstructing the Iranian decision-making process.

For many months it appeared that Tehran had managed to capture the upper hand in the nuclear balancing act through its divide-and-conquer confrontational strategy with the international community. The breakthrough counter-announcement by the Bush administration tactically tilted the scales of power in favor of Washington and gave Tehran's leaders reason to pause. Now, it is the Islamic Republic that has experienced a reversal of fortune and must carefully weigh its delicate international pressures against its domestic ones.

The ultimate goal for the Islamic Republic is regime preservation. To this end, the mullahs have pursued a two-pronged process: they've tried to keep the nuclear clock running while stalling the democracy clock. This approach worked for the regime throughout the nuclear negotiations until Washington pulled out its trump card. Tehran can no longer use the nuclear issue to buffer against the threat of growing domestic unrest.

Should Tehran engage in diplomatic talks with the "Great Satan", a maneuver that would be supported by the majority of Iran's youthful pro-American street, it would serve to protect the regime by providing it with a guarantee of international security but would simultaneously release the suppressed forces of the nation's democratic clock. Thus a compromise with the international community would ultimately lead to further concessions on the domestic front.

Throughout this game of nuclear cat and mouse, internal tensions have mounted as the regime has tied its ideological legitimacy to nationalistic foreign-policy issues while attempting to unite its diverse population. Indeed, what has emerged on the Iranian street is a fractured edifice that could damage the long-term viability of the regime. In this period, the regime has seen a surge in ethnic violence, worker strikes, student protests and religious persecution.

These threats to the regime's domestic stability are of utmost importance. Any perceived government compliance with the international community could be domestically destabilizing should the nuclear program be replaced by pressing issues of domestically driven mandates.

Important considerations for the regime are whether the benefits of nuclear carrots outweigh the consequences of international sticks. Here the answer lies in either the international response should Iran reject the nuclear offer or, conversely, the domestic reaction should Iran accept the deal and move toward cooperation with the international community. The former would apply should Tehran force this last opportunity for engagement to fail by offering a counter-proposal. Indeed, any Iranian attempt to bargain in an effort to advance its nuclear clock would lead the United States to abandon any further dialogue.

For Iran, the prospect of international isolation through stringent sanctions and military action, while bleak, would at least stall Iran's democratic clock in the short run. None other than President Mahmud Ahmadinejad would gain from this strategy, since his factional brand of nationalistic politics has only bolstered his presence. Any military strike or sanctioning of Iran would further aggrandize the president and enhance the strength of the regime while under external pressure.

Knowing that the Eurasian movement toward China and Russia has significantly benefited Iran, this route might also protect Tehran, as its commercial and strategic ties to Beijing and Moscow have enabled it to pursue a divide-and-conquer strategy among the permanent members of the Security Council. The exchange of goodwill among Arab and Muslim neighbors and countries alike will be sure to benefit Tehran should it proceed down such a path of confrontation to protect its domestic frontier.

Conversely, the consequences should Iran compromise are a burgeoning concern, for the Islamic government has not been able to curtail the signs of domestic unrest throughout the country, even during the nuclear crisis. Indeed, this strife foreshadows the challenge to come once the democratic clock resumes its forceful ticking.

Since last summer, Kurdish unrest has increased in the hopes that more attention will be brought to bear on local developments and political representation. In southwestern Ahvaz, rioting, violence and October bombings have led to arrests and clashes with Iranian security forces. Most recently, two people were executed for their purported participation in the uprising that the government has associated with outside forces.

The Sunni minority in Sistan and Baluchestan provinces near the Pakistani border has also agitated against the government, forming a group known as Jundallah, or God's Soldiers. In January they held a group of Iranian border guards hostage, demanding the release of 16 jailed members in exchange. The group claims that the regime has killed more than 400 of its members and has become politicized in an effort to protect the Sunni minority, which like the other minority groups has been subject to political, economic, and human-rights violations in the decades since the 1979 revolution.

Additionally, the Azeris, Iran's largest minority ethnic group, consisting of 16% of the population, have recently demonstrated in cities around the country in response to a racist cartoon published in an Iranian newspaper. The awakening of this minority group among others only adds tension to the central government's ability to manage its relations with these ethnic groups that have significant economic, social and political grievances. Should the president and his cadres in the Revolutionary Guards continue their strong-arm tactics of repression, these issues will most likely intensify.

It's important to note the revivalist demonstrations of students who have protested against government interference in campus affairs and student elections, including the removal of faculty. Many of the demonstrators were chanting: "We don't want nuclear energy" and "Forget Palestine - think of us". While Iran's student movement was usually deemed apathetic since the failure of the reformist movement, such bursts of political activity amid the increasingly stringent crackdowns indicate that public demand for change could reawaken.

Even more threatening for the conservative elite has been the February bus drivers' strike in Tehran. This important event was barely noticed by the Western press. The bus drivers united against a political ban on trade unions accusing their managers of corrupt practices. Their demands included better salaries and working conditions. Ironically, these demands coincided with the election of Ahmadinejad, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and promised to confront the crooked practices of the entrenched regime.

However, the president understands that to curb corruption would, in essence, be biting the hand that has fed him. Moreover, it would only increase his factional challenges on the domestic front. Without presidential support, these government workers joined forces in solidarity. Many were arrested over this defiance and undoubtedly some are still in prison.

In meeting the United States at the negotiating table, Tehran not only will be compromising over the nuclear program but will lose nationalism as a way of deflecting dissent. Certainly, an immediate gain of international security could foment a loss of domestic instability, as internal political and economic concerns would force the regime into further national confrontations. This, of course, is the objective of the international community, but it runs counter to the interest of regime preservation designed to enshrine the Islamic Republic.

President Bush's latest speech directly addresses the Iranian people, hoping to empower them while simultaneously speaking to the regime's fears: "I've a message for the Iranian people: The United States respects you and your country. The people of Iran, like people everywhere, also want and deserve an opportunity to determine their own future, an economy that rewards their intelligence and talents, and a society that allows them to pursue their dreams ... We'll provide more than [US]$75 million this year to promote openness and freedom for the Iranian people."

With these words, Washington continues its shrewd double policy of engagement and regime change that signals its subtle reluctance to directly engage the theocratic regime. The Islamic Republic's subdued approach to the nuclear proposal can be interpreted as equally calculated. As Tehran considers this nuclear proposal, its insecurity is undoubtedly attributed to the conflicting global visions of its two clocks. Indeed, either option for Tehran will have uncertain consequences.

With Tehran and Washington bound to clash over nuclear diplomacy and democratic transparency, the echo of these two clocks will continue to emanate loudly in both capitals without a clear resolution.

Sanam Vakil is an assistant professor of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins' Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

(Copyright 2006 Sanam Vakil.)

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

The coming crisis with Iran

Noam Chomsky: COMMENT

30 June 2006 08:00

"nuclear iran"--The urgency of halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and moving toward their elimination, could hardly be greater.

Failure to do so is almost certain to lead to grim consequences, even the end of biology’s only experiment with higher intelligence. As threatening as the crisis is, the means exist to defuse it.

A near-meltdown seems to be imminent over Iran and its nuclear programmes. Before 1979, when the shah was in power, Washington strongly supported these programmes.

Today, the standard claim is that Iran has no need for nuclear power, and therefore must be pursuing a secret weapons programme. “For a major oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources,” Henry Kissinger wrote in The Washington Post last year.

Thirty years ago, however, when Kissinger was secretary of state, he held that the “introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals”.

Last year, Dafna Linzer of The Washington Post asked Kissinger about his reversal of opinion. Kissinger responded with his usual engaging frankness: “They were an allied country.”

In 1976, the Gerald Ford administration “endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium -- the two pathways to a nuclear bomb,” Linzer wrote.

The top planners of the Bush II administration, who are now denouncing these programmes, were then in key national security posts: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

Iranians are surely not as willing as the West to discard history to the rubbish heap. They know that the United States, along with its allies, has been tormenting Iranians for more than 50 years, ever since a US-UK military coup overthrew the parliamentary government and installed the shah, who ruled with an iron hand until a popular uprising expelled him in 1979.

The Reagan administration then supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, providing him with military and other aid that helped him slaughter hundreds of thousands of Iranians (along with Iraqi Kurds). Then came president Bill Clinton’s harsh sanctions, followed by Bush’s threats to attack Iran -- themselves a serious breach of the United Nations charter.

Last month, the Bush administration conditionally agreed to join its European allies in direct talks with Iran, but refused to withdraw the threat of attack, rendering virtually meaningless any negotiations offer that comes, in effect, at gunpoint.

Recent history provides further reason for scepticism about Washington’s intentions.

In May 2003, according to Flynt Leverett, then a senior official in Bush’s national security council, the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami proposed “an agenda for a diplomatic process that was intended to resolve on a comprehensive basis all of the bilateral differences between the United States and Iran”.

Included were “weapons of mass destruction, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the future of Lebanon’s Hezbollah organisation and cooperation with the UN nuclear safeguards agency,” the Financial Times reported last month. The Bush administration refused, and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who conveyed the offer.

A year later, the European Union and Iran struck a bargain: Iran would temporarily suspend uranium enrichment, and in return Europe would provide assurances that the US and Israel would not attack Iran. Under US pressure, Europe backed off, and Iran renewed its enrichment processes.

The Iranian nuclear programme, as far as is known, falls within its rights under Article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which grants non-nuclear states the right to produce fuel for nuclear energy. The Bush administration argues that Article IV should be strengthened, and I think that makes sense.

When the NPT came into force in 1970, there was a considerable gap between producing fuel for energy and for nuclear weapons. But advances in technology have narrowed the gap. However, any such revision of Article IV would have to ensure unimpeded access for non-military use, in accord with the initial NPT bargain between declared nuclear powers and the non-nuclear states.

In 2003 a reasonable proposal to this end was put forth by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency: that all production and processing of weapon-usable material be under international control, with “assurance that legitimate would-be users could get their supplies”. That should be the first step, he proposed, toward fully implementing the 1993 UN resolution for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (or Fissban).

To date, ElBaradei’s proposal has been accepted by only one state, to my knowledge: Iran, in February, in an interview with Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.

The Bush administration rejects a verifiable Fissban -- and stands nearly alone. In November 2004 the UN Committee on Disarmament voted in favour of a verifiable Fissban. The vote was 147 to one (US), with two abstentions: Israel and Britain. Last year a vote in the full General Assembly was 179 to two, Israel and Britain again abstaining. The US was joined by Palau.

There are ways to mitigate and probably end these crises. The first is to call off the very credible US and Israeli threats that virtually urge Iran to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

A second step would be to join the rest of the world in accepting a verifiable Fissban treaty, as well as ElBaradei’s proposal, or something similar.

A third step would be to live up to Article VI of the NPT, which obligates the nuclear states to take “good faith” efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, a binding legal obligation, as the World Court determined. None of the nuclear states has lived up to that obligation, but the US is far in the lead in violating it.

Even steps in these directions would mitigate the upcoming crisis with Iran. Above all, it is important to heed the words of ElBaradei: “There is no military solution to this situation. It is inconceivable. The only durable solution is a negotiated solution.” And it is within reach. -- © New York Times

Noam Chomsky, the author, most recently, of Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Iran council on foreign relations and public diplomacy vacuum

ali ghannadi

nuclear iran--Iranian strategic council on foreign relations stablished last week and previous Iranian foreign minister,kamal kharrazi appointed to it"s head. iran supreme leader top advicer, ali akbar velayati ,previous defense minister ali shamkhani and previous commercial minister ,mohammad shariatmadari ,also appointed as top members for a five years duration.
The council establishment is initial step toward shaping and operating an modern diplomacy. it was long time that iran foreign policy suffering from lack of meaningfulRelation between decision-keeping and decision-making levels.
Foreign policy elites set forth views in decision-making level ,but there was no instrument to inject the views to decision-making levels. CFR creation as think-tank for foreign policy establishments mostly can solve the problem ,but there is two points to be considered:
1-CFR position as decision-making (not decision-keeping) institution can shape foreign policy operations more effectively through composition of "ranked and non-ranked elites". in this regard ,if the council play as intermediator between foreign policy establishments and informal created institutions , it can act most effectively. the council should also protect private sector role in foreign policy.
2-shamkhani , velayati and shariatmadari composition is symbol for security-politic-economy triangle ,but cfr has losed an important body: the body for acting as public diplomacy correspondent.
Resonating development of public media in last few years approved the public diplomacy as key foreign policy variation.Public diplomacy as an international relations issue return to 1970s ,but it"s importance arose after sept 11,2001.there is interesting definitions for public diplomacy:
-public diplomacy is the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies
- Public Diplomacy seeks to promote the national interest through understanding, informing and influencing foreign audiencces
-public diplomacy is Official government efforts to shape the communications environment overseas in which foreign policy is played out, in order to reduce the degree to which misperceptions and misunderstandings complicate relations between the country and other nations
Despite of increased creation of moderm offices such as"office for international relations","office for diplomacy and public affairs" in state departments , iranian foreign ministry and other foreign policy establishments yet have no concentrated under secretary on public diplomacy.
Iranian supreme national security council even ,failed to establish separated office for public diplomacy,altough it shows recently signs of modern diplomacy .current undesirable iranian nuclear diplomacy, mostly resault from the lack of public diplomacy correspondents.
Public diplomacy is a reality in foreign policy and it is necessiate to spending huge financial ,even concentrated budget.spending money for public diplomacy is not means to shed fnancial resource,but meams international environment securation for financial,security and cultural resource activity , respect for national goals.
To summarize,public diplomacy vacumm is touchable in new council on foreign relations,as in other iranian foreign policy establishments.if private sector and public diplomacy activated in foreign policy, soon we will see a revolution in iranian F.P efficiecny.
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Iran Rejects Calls for Fast Decision on Atomic Offer

June 29
"nuclear iran" -- Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani dismissed U.S. and European calls to accelerate its decision over whether to accept trade and technology incentives in return for suspending its uranium enrichment program.

``We had told the negotiating parties that they will gain nothing if they show tough approaches,'' Larijani told reporters today, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. Iran wants to remove ``ambiguities'' in the proposal through negotiations, said Larijani, who heads Iran's Supreme Security Council.

Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in Moscow said they were disappointed that Iran hasn't yet responded to the incentives package and expect a response during July 5 talks between the Islamic Republic and the European Union.

``We are disappointed in the absence of an official Iranian response to this positive proposal,'' a statement released by the ministers said. ``We expect to hear a clear and substantive'' Iranian response at the July 5 talks between the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ari Larijani. The G-8 comprises the U.S., Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia.

Iran says it wants to enrich uranium to low levels so that it can fuel a nuclear power plant. The U.S. and Europe are concerned that Iran will enrich uranium to the higher levels needed to make an atomic bomb. U.S. President George W. Bush on June 19 threatened ``actions'' by the United Nations Security Council should Iran reject the EU-led offer.

Iran may take up to two months before replying, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said June 21. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday in an interview with CNN, before her arrival in Moscow, that she hopes to hear ``very soon'' from the Islamic Republic.

Solana Meeting

Larijani will meet Solana in Europe next week to discuss the EU proposal, which was presented to Iran on June 6.

Nuclear technologies, airplane parts and World Trade Organization membership are among the incentives being offered to Iran in return for ceasing uranium enrichment. The U.S. has agreed to join direct talks with Iran once suspension is verified.

The EU's incentive plan was agreed on June 1 by diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council --the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France -- as well as by Germany.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

German official backs nuclear enrichment by Iran

But says close monitoring is key
By Louis Charbonneau, Reuters | June 29, 2006

"nuclear iran"-- Iran should be allowed to enrich uranium for power generation provided there is close monitoring by UN inspectors to ensure it is not trying to develop atomic weapons, Germany's defens e minister said.

The minister's comments may suggest that after years of failed negotiations with Iran, Germany and some other Western powers are willing to compromise with Iran over enrichment in order to resolve peacefully the nuclear standoff with Tehran.

But it was clear this view was unacceptable to Washington, which contacted the German government to clarify it.

In an interview , Defens e Minister Franz Josef Jung was asked if Iran should be allowed to enrich uranium under the scrutiny of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

``Yes, I think so," he said. ``The offer includes everything. That means the civilian use of nuclear energy is possible but not atomic weapons. And monitoring mechanisms must be applied. I think it would be wise for Iran to accept this offer ."

Jung was referring to a June 6 offer of incentives made to Iran by Germany and the five permanent UN Security Council members -- the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia.

US State Department spokesman deputy spokesman Adam Ereli denied any divisions among the major powers. He said the German government had been contacted about the interview and told Washington ``this is an erroneous story."

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said in a statement to Reuters it stood with the five council members on the issue of Iran and reiterated that Berlin wanted Iran to suspend enrichment in order to enable negotiations on the offer to take place.

``It's up to Iran, through a suspension of enrichment, to create the conditions for negotiations and win back international trust," Wilhelm said.

The issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions will dominate a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Moscow todayon Thursday. The ministers aim to decide how best to nudge Iran to respond to the offer.

Jung did not mention any timeframe when Iran, -- which has been enriching uranium for months on a small scale, -- could be permitted to make nuclear fuel with the West's blessing. But he said close IAEA oversight would be sufficient to show the world whether Tehran's nuclear programme was as peaceful as it says.

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

G-8 Leaders Set Deadline for Iranian Response

June 29, 2006

MOSCOW, June 29
"nuclear iran" — Iran should give a "clear and substantive" response by next Wednesday to an international proposal meant to resolve the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, foreign ministers from industrialized nations declared today.

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, last week said there would be no response to the proposal until late August.

American officials said in response that if Iran failed to agree to the package, which was formally presented on June 6, in "weeks, not months" they would begin the process of seeking sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

The statement issued today at a meeting of the foreign ministers in Moscow did not explicitly make July 5 into a deadline that would trigger such action, but clearly was meant to pressure Iran into declaring whether it is interested in pursuing negotiations.

"We are disappointed in the absence of an official Iranian response to this positive proposal," the statement said. It noted that the European Union's foreign minister, Javier Solana, would be in Europe for talks on July 5, and said that "we expect to hear a clear and substantive Iran response" at that time.

The heads of states of the G-8 nations will meet in St. Petersburg on July 15.

The statement issued here by the United States, Russia, Japan and other members of the G-8 group was echoed by comments made in Beijing today. Without mentioning a specific date, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry urged Iran to respond to the package of incentives "as soon as possible," Reuters reported.

Since the proposal — from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — was formally delivered by Mr. Solana in Tehran on June 6, Iranian officials have given mixed signals. They have continued to defend their nuclear program as peaceful, and have insisted that they will never give up their right to pursue nuclear enrichment.

But they have also generally described the plan as "positive" and have not closed the door on the idea of suspending some of their nuclear enrichment work, which the proposal sets as a precondition for talks on the package.

On Monday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared that the country had "no use" for talks with the United States. But at the same time he said that "the ground was prepared" for negotiations over its nuclear program.

And on Wednesday, Ali Larijiani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, said that the international plan contained a solution to the nuclear crisis, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Mr. Larijiani said that the details of the proposal had been turned over to expert committees for further study, the news agency said.

The details of the package have not been made public, but diplomats have said that it includes an offer of a light-water nuclear reactor to help meet Iran's energy needs and offers a chance for a discussion of regional security issues, though not an explicit guarantee of Iran's security.

The package is said to contain only inducements, not threats, but diplomats have said that Mr. Solana informed officials in Tehran that there was agreement among the six nations making the proposal to pursue sanctions if the offer is declined.

The United States had worked hard earlier this year for Security Council sanctions after Iran broke off longstanding talks with Britain, France and Germany and restarted its nuclear enrichment program. Iran had suspended all nuclear work in 2003 after admitting that it had deceived nuclear inspectors for years.

The American push for sanctions was blocked by Russia and China, which favored further negotiations. President Bush decided last month to set aside a decades-old policy of shunning talks with Iran as a way of keeping the international community united in the effort to keep Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Also today, in an article in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a former United Nations nuclear inspector estimated that if Iran began building a large-scale enrichment facility this year it might be able to design and arm a weapon by 2009, news services reported.

The article, by David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, said that timetable means there is enough time for other nations "to pursue aggressive diplomatic options," and underscores the need to persuade Iran to "foreswear" its ability to enrich uranium.

Iran began its latest round of enrichment work on June 6, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency — the same day on which Mr. Solana delivered the international proposal.

Helene Cooper reported from Moscow for this article and John O'Neil from New York
source:new york times
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Report says Iran could have bomb means by 2009

June 29, 2006 - 11:38 AM

By Mark Heinrich

"nuclear iran"--- Iran could be able to build an atom bomb by 2009 if it laid groundwork this year for producing highly enriched uranium, a former U.N. arms inspector said in a report.

Writing in the July-August edition of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, American physicist David Albright based his "worst case scenario" on scientific and diplomatic assessments of Iran's recent progress with centrifuge enrichment machines.

"Looking at a timeline of at least three years..., there is still time to pursue aggressive diplomatic options (against an Iranian enrichment drive) and for measures such as sanctions to have an effect, if they become necessary," Albright wrote.

"Otherwise, we risk a seismic shift in the balance of power in the region," he said of Iran, which has been an arch-foe of the United States since 1979.

U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte said on June 2 that Iran could have an atomic bomb by 2010 and seemed determined to get one, "although we don't have clearcut knowledge".

Other estimates have ranged as long as a decade.

Iran says it wants nuclear fuel for electricity, not arms as the West suspects. But U.N. probes have been unable to verify Tehran has no secret, parallel bomb project and they have been crippled since Iran halted short-notice inspections in February.


The Islamic Republic enriched uranium to the low level needed to run nuclear power plants for the first time in April with a pilot cascade (network) of 164 centrifuges.

It is building two more 164-centrifuge cascades and has told the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it will begin installing 3,000 more centrifuges by the end of 2006.

To produce enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for one atom bomb by 2009, Iran would have needed to start building this year a clandestine plant with 1,500-1,800 centrifuges, Albright said.

Diplomats say that would not be too hard to do given weak Western intelligence and curbs on IAEA inspections in Iran.

Albright said Iran was thought to have enough good-quality components for 1,500-2,000 centrifuges, on top of the roughly 800 earmarked for its Natanz pilot plant monitored by the IAEA.

Iran could probably commission a secret plant by end 2007. It would take another year to make enough HEU for a bomb, and several months to mould the HEU for use in a weapon, he said.

Albright said Iran has yet to prove it can keep large numbers of centrifuges spinning non-stop for long periods, the key to yielding usable volumes of low- or high-enriched uranium.

"It can be expected to face serious technical hurdles before it can reliably make large quantities of enriched uranium," the director of a Washington security and science think-tank said.

But he said Iran was "on the verge of mastering a critical step in building and operating a gas centrifuge plant able to (enrich) uranium for either peaceful or military purposes".

Six world powers have offered Iran economic incentives to suspend enrichment activity. Iran has hesitated to respond and insisted anew on a right to its own civilian nuclear industry.


URL of this story:

posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Leader says talks with U.S. would yield no benefits for Iran

TEHRAN, June 27

"nuclear iran" -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said here on Tuesday that talks with the United States would yield no benefits for Iran.
“Negotiations with the United States will have no benefits for us. We have no need for such negotiations,” he said during a meeting with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

Iran will not negotiate with anyone over its undeniable right to use nuclear technology, but if this right is recognized, it is ready to negotiate on supervision controls and international guarantees, he asserted.

Ayatollah Khamenei said that Muslim nations can pave the way for development of the Islamic ummah (community) by maintaining unity.

He underlined the necessity for Islamic countries to resist the bullying demands of the U.S. and the Zionists over Iran’s nuclear program, adding that this could give a boost to the Islamic ummah.

“The next summit of the African Union, in which the Iranian president is to participate, is a good opportunity to adopt such a stance,” the Leader said.

Since the U.S. and the Zionist regime cannot bear to see the Islamic ummah become a global power, they are sparing no effort to create division between Muslims, he observed, and urged Islamic countries to thwart such plots with vigilance.

Iran is ready to engage in extensive cooperation with Senegal, he added.

The Senegalese president said Iran and Senegal are two influential members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and called for further cooperation among Muslim officials to increase the Islamic community’s influence in international issues.

Wade announced his country’s support for Iran’s nuclear program, saying that Senegal would like to see a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West.

He also called for an increase of the Iranian private sector’s activities in Africa, especially in Senegal.



posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

White House Waiting for 'Formal' Response from Iran

White House
27 June 2006

"nuclear iran"--The White House says it is still waiting for a definitive response from Iran to a package of incentives designed to convince Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. Officials say the latest comments from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are not the last word.

White House Spokesman Tony Snow says the Ayatollah's comments are ambiguous, and should not be seen as a formal reply from Iran.

He says there have been all sorts of statements coming from Tehran since the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, delivered the incentive package to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Lairjani.

"We have been pretty clear here," he said. "The original set of incentives was transmitted from Javier Solana to Ali Larijani. And we expect Ali Larijani to submit, transmit the response to Javier Solana."

During a session with reporters, Snow acknowledged that Khamenei holds considerable power in Iran. But he stressed that the United States is still waiting for a consistent, official response from Tehran.

"At this point the government of Iran has not spoken with one official voice and I daresay that various people speaking on behalf of the government of Iran have not spoken with a unified voice," he said.

The Ayatollah said Tuesday that Iran will not engage in negotiations on its right to use nuclear technology. However, he added if others acknowledge that right, Tehran is willing to negotiate controls, supervisions, and international guarantees.

Iran has said it will respond to the package put forward June 6 by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany by August 22. However, the Bush administration has made clear it wants an answer sooner, and that Iran should reply in a matter of weeks, not months.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is designed to meet energy needs. But the United States and its European allies say they are concerned Tehran's civilian program is really a cover for the development of nuclear arms.
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Forget diplomacy, Iranian issue hinges on semantics

Sunday, June 25, 2006

* Word ‘Suspension’ needs modification to suit both sides
* Iran may be allowed to run ‘empty’ centrifuges

"nuclear iran"-- Any chance of defusing a row over Iran’s nuclear programme may hinge on the definition of a key precondition given to Tehran, suspension of nuclear enrichment-related activity.

Six major powers have offered a package of incentives to Iran not to enrich nuclear fuel and have been pushing for an early response from Tehran, which the United States fears has been trying to develop an atom bomb.

A breakthrough looks doubtful now. Iran says it enriches uranium only for electricity and rules out scrapping the programme. The powers rule out talks unless Tehran freezes the programme first to establish trust.

But behind public fronts, there have been discussions aided by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts in Vienna on whether there was a scope for flexibility in defining “suspension” in order to start talks, a diplomat close to the debate said. “The whole issue, the only issue, is to find a definition of suspension that allows both sides to say they got their way. Otherwise, this package goes nowhere,” the Vienna diplomat said.

“Some informal reflections are going on and the IAEA has got involved by advancing some of these ideas,” said a senior European Union diplomat, who like others asked for anonymity. The Vienna diplomat said one scenario was to let Iran, under heightened IAEA surveillance, run a small number of centrifuge enrichment machines empty, without the uranium “UF6” gas normally injected into them for enrichment into fuel.

This could be termed a “maintenance pause”, or “standby” mooted by some US nuclear analysts, he said.

It might enable “pre-negotiations” on terms for implementing the incentives and avoid the word “suspension”, which to Iran implies externally-imposed preconditions it finds humiliating.

“After recent talks between IAEA and US officials, the IAEA was informally asked to evaluate the relative proliferation risks of Iran being allowed to run their (current) cascade of 164 centrifuges and a couple more they are building,” the diplomat said.

“The analyses sent back to Washington concluded there would be little to no risk since any quantities of enriched uranium yielded would be so small as to not be relevant to bombmaking,” he added.

But one analysis read out to Reuters by a Western diplomat concluded that even spinning centrifuges empty would give Iran know-how for “a successful, long-term centrifuge operation”.

US officials insist the definition of suspension was fixed, all activities fostering fuel work, and will not bargain over this with Iran. They balk at being drawn into talks giving Iran time to expand enrichment and make it a fait accompli.

But one US official who tends to take a hard line on Iran said there were perceptions the Bush administration would eventually give in on this issue. There has been a precedent.

Western leaders originally ruled out any enrichment ever on Iranian soil as too dangerous. Now, to ensure Russia and China closed ranks with the West on the new approach to Iran, the package offered gives Tehran leeway to enrich in the future, after a confidence-building moratorium.

Of the other six powers, only Britain appears dead-set against softening the definition of enrichment activity.

EU diplomats said Germany would likely have no problem with Iran spinning a few centrifuges, with or without UF6 gas, nor would Russia and China, while France’s stance was less certain. Moscow and Beijing argue Iran poses no threat to peace as long as no “smoking gun” evidence that nuclear materials were being diverted into bombmaking has turned up, and none has.

IAEA diplomats say compromise was needed because Iran has already mastered basic enrichment technology while the West’s mooted option of sanctions if Tehran rejects the offer risks a Russian or Chinese veto in the UN Security Council.

A compromise ideally would assuage Iranian national pride, sharpened by past imperial power domination of its oil and gas wealth, and allay world fears of nuclear proliferation in Iran. Tehran has hinted it could cap the number of centrifuges spinning short of “industrial capacity”, required for bomb-ready enriched uranium, and reinstate short-notice IAEA inspections.

Nuclear analysts said Iran was likely now to ask the powers to define an enrichment halt as “spinning without feeding”.

“This could confront the West with a tough decision. China and Russia will want to say this is not enrichment so it’s a basis for a deal,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“But as long as centrifuges spin, Iran is gaining crucial expertise that would enable them to prevent accidents, leaks or other telltale signs of secret activity,” he said. Reuters

source:daily times
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Strategic Council for Foreign Relations heralds new day

TEHRAN, June 27

"nuclear iran" -- The establishment of the Strategic Council for Foreign Relations by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei marked a turning point in Iran’s foreign policy which can open new horizons to Tehran’s relations with other countries.
In the modern world, the establishment of consultative bodies to use the experiences of skilled veteran figures shows the intention of a political system to promote cooperation with others based on mutual interests.

At a historic juncture where Iran seeks an active and dynamic diplomacy, the establishment of such a council seems very important.

Undoubtedly, the presence of experts on the council, who are abreast of local and international developments with no party biases and who have a comprehensive view of developments, heralds a new day for efforts to establish world peace and international security.

MPs, political figures upbeat on Strategic Council for Foreign Relations

The Supreme Leader issued a decree on Sunday establishing the Strategic Council for Foreign Relations and appointed former foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi as its chairman. Kharrazi served as foreign minister for eight years in the government of Mohammad Khatami.

The Mehr News Agency spoke to some MPs and political figures on Tuesday to learn their views on the matter.

MP Elyas Naderan of the Majlis Energy Committee said that the Strategic Council for Foreign Relations will definitely promote the level of Iran’s international relations.

“We needed experienced people to consult executive branch officials on foreign relations,” he added.

This council can assist the Foreign Ministry and the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) in dealing with the nuclear standoff with the West, he noted.

Former vice-president Mohammad-Ali Abtahi said that the appointment of Dr. Kharrazi as the head of the council was in line with the continuation of Iran’s policy of detente.

“The establishment of this council will guarantee the stability of Iran’s foreign policy,” he added.

MP Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said that viewing issues from a strategic point of view will help expand foreign relations.

The experiences of the people who sit on this council range from six to sixteen years, which means they will definitely maintain cohesion in Iran’s foreign policy, noted Falahatpisheh, who sits on the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.

Former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, former defense minister Ali Shamkhani, former commerce minister Mohammad Shariatmadari, and Mohammad-Hossein Taromi were appointed by the Leader to serve on the council for five-year terms.

As Tehran is under great pressure at this point in time, this council can turn the threats into opportunities through its strategic approaches, MP Mohammad Khoshchehreh said.

Parliamentarian Hamid-Reza Hajbabaii called the knowledge and experiences of the members of the council its most important factors.

“The Strategic Council for Foreign Relations can inform the Supreme Leader of global issues after analyzing them free of executive branch responsibilities,” the top lawmaker opined.

The establishment of this council will guarantee the soundness and depth of Iran’s diplomatic decisions, he stated.

Former interior minister Abdolvahed Musavi Lari said that the council will organize all the country’s diplomatic affairs, strengthening Tehran’s relations with other countries.



posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

Russia will not join ultimatums over Iran nuclear issue: Putin

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"nuclear iran"--Russia will not join any ultimatums over the problem of nuclear proliferation, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday in a thinly veiled reference to US-led pressure on Iran.

“We do not intend to join any sort of ultimatum, which only pushes the situation into a dead end, striking a blow against the authority of the UN Security Council,” Putin told Russian diplomats in Moscow in the presence of journalists. “I am convinced that dialogue and not isolation of one or another state is what leads to resolution of crises. In the sphere of non-proliferation we consider it effective to work on the political-diplomatic level and to search for compromises on the basis of international law,” Putin said.

Russia, a key economic ally of Iran, has consistently resisted Western pressure in the current international impasse over US and European claims that Tehran is using a Russia-backed civilian nuclear programme to mask a secret bomb-making project.

Russia along with the other four permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany are waiting for an Iranian response to offer of talks on trade and other benefits in return for guarantees Iran will not develop atomic weapons.

The United States has not ruled out seeking UN sanctions or even military action should Iran refuse the talks, which come with the precondition that it must first suspend uranium enrichment.

US President George W Bush has said that Tehran has “weeks and not months” to accept the offer and warned that the UN Security Council would act if Iran did not comply.

Last week, Bush warned Iran faced “progressively stronger political and economic sanctions” if it refused the offer.

Tehran has been asked to reply to the proposal – drawn up by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – by the end of the month, although President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it would take until August 22 to give a formal answer.

But Iran appears to still reject the key condition in the package – a full and verified suspension of uranium enrichment – and continues to call for negotiations devoid of any “preconditions”.
source: AFP
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

What the Russian papers say

27/06/2006 09:00

MOSCOW, June 27

"nuclear iran"-- Russia unlikely to benefit from Iran's game of nerves with America / Opposition trying to cloud G8 summit in Russia / Gazprom targets Novatek / Tatneft set to become first Russian company to leave world's top trading floor / Russia's largest gold deposit not to be auctioned off until 2008

(RIA Novosti does not accept responsibility for the articles in the press)

Novye Izvestia

Russia unlikely to benefit from Iran's game of nerves with America

Tehran is ready to use the "oil weapon" to protect its national interests. Russian experts say the hydrocarbons blackmail might provoke a crisis that would affect everyone, including Russia.
It may seem, at first sight, that Iran's stand suits Moscow. The "rogue" country is ready to cooperate with all of the United States' enemies, and, judging by the unprecedented growth of Iran-Russia ties, apparently regards Russia as one of them.
However, the recent statements of the Iranian authorities may threaten the global energy stability, which does not suit Iran's partners at all.
"Even a temporary blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be a more serious blow for Russia than several tactical nuclear charges being detonated," said Alexander Konovalov, president of the Institute of Strategic Assessment and Analysis, a Moscow-based think tank. "Iran's actions can have only a short-term positive effect for Russia, making it a unique [hydrocarbons] supplier. But in the longer term, such a scenario would result in a global economic crisis, which will affect Russia alongside other countries."
Shamil Sultanov, head of the Institute of Religion and Politics and a member of the parliamentary committee on international affairs, said that Russia, just as all other oil suppliers, would benefit considerably in the event of a crisis. "Iran may easily stop oil deliveries to the United States," he said. As of now, "it supplies 70% of its oil exports to Asia, and its proved reserves amount to 12-13 billion tons (95.55 billion bbl)."
However, Sultanov said that although Iran was playing on America's nerves, its ultimate objective is "to avoid a crisis."
Other experts disregard the possibility of a crisis altogether.
"This is nothing more than flag-waving," said Sergei Karaganov, head of the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy. "There is no threat of sanctions against Iran, and hence no danger of an oil war. This situation cannot be regarded seriously, because we see that tensions in Iran's relations with other countries are receding."


Opposition trying to cloud G8 summit in Russia

A tent camp in St. Petersburg and a conference called Drugaya Rossiya (Another Russia) in Moscow will be opposition events in the run-up to the July 15-17 G8 summit.
The anti-summit effect may lose some of its sting, however, because international organizations may refuse to take part and some of the declared entrants fear the event will be overly politicized.
The all-Russian conference Drugaya Rossiya is to take place in Moscow on July 11-July 12.
"During the summit Russia will be in the focus of international attention, but parade its successes only," said Lyudmila Alekseyeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group and member of the conference's organizing committee. "We want to show that there is the other Russia, suffering from bureaucratic fiat and human rights abuses."
Alekseyeva said the event's sponsors were overseas-based National Endowment for Democracy and the Soros Foundation. Alexander Osovtsov, another member of the organizing committee, said the costs were "only millions of rubles." A source close to the conference organizers said he thought the money came from former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin.
The outlays on the St. Petersburg anti-summit of anti-globalists (July 13-15) are much more modest than for Moscow's. "The conference is a grand affair, it is for the rich; we, however, will live in tents, and ours is going to be a poor man's show," Karin Kleman, director of the Institute for Collective Action, said.
Experts do not expect much of a bang from the anti-summit. The opposition in Russia is weak, fragmented and no real force, said political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin.
"The conference, if held, is unlikely to produce a serious impact on the [G8] summit," said Boris Shmelyov, director of the Center for Comparative Political Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Economics Institute. He thinks the Kremlin could hold it up as an example of political freedom in Russia.

Gazprom targets Novatek

On Monday, Russian energy giant Gazprom, which continues to consolidate its assets in Russia, announced the signing of a preliminary agreement on purchasing of a 19.9% stake in Novatek, the country's largest independent gas producer.
Under the deal, which is expected to be closed in August, Gazprom will receive two out of eight seats on the Novatek board of directors. Analysts said that the gas monopoly would continue to shift responsibility for domestic gas supplies to independent producers as it focused on exports.
Experts said the 19.9% Novatek stake cost an estimated $2.4 billion. But Anton Rubtsov, an analyst with Ray, Man & Gor Securities, told the paper that the market value of the share package earmarked for Gazprom had climbed 11% to $2.7 billion after Gazprom's announcement.
Novatek, which has cooperated with state-owned companies before, sold a 25% stake in Russian energy company Tambeineftegaz to Gazprombank in 2005. And oil company Rosneft purchased 34% of shares of oil and gas company Selkupneftegaz.
Experts said Novatek was now only nominally independent.
Rubtsov said the agreement did not give Gazprom the right to control Novatek. "But the gas monopoly can use many methods, primarily the joint pipeline network, to influence the company," Rubtsov told the paper. "And I think Gazprom used precisely these mechanisms to buy the Novatek shares."
But he said the risks for Novatek had decreased overall.
"The risks of a Gazprom takeover remain, but business risks for the company have fallen," Rubtsov said.


Tatneft set to become first Russian company to leave world's top trading floor

Russian oil company Tatneft has announced its intention to delist from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It will be the first time a Russian company has left the world's biggest exchange. Tatneft said its decision was based on the growing cost of securities registration in the United States and a desire to focus on trading on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), where it is also listed.
But market players say the company failed to comply with the NYSE's requirements.
A source in Tatneft's Moscow office said the company currently had 21% of its stock listed on the NYSE in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADR), all of which could be moved to the LSE. The delisting decision is to be considered by Tatneft's board of directors on June 30.
"Since spending on registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has grown substantially in the past few years, the company has decided to move international trading in its securities to London," Tatneft said in a press release.
Other market players say these reasons are not crucial.
"The company most likely does not want to provide transparent financial reports," said Konstantin Batunin, an analyst with Alfa Bank. "The LSE requirements on issuers are less strict, and the disclosure volume is smaller."
Vladislav Metnev, an analyst with the Troika Dialog brokerage, agreed.
"One of the reasons is delays with the provision of reports, which proves that Tatneft does not need the NYSE listing," he said. "It may reduce its disclosure standards after delisting from the exchange."
Tatneft has had disclosure problems for years. Its press release said the company had sent the SEC an audited report for 2004 and an unaudited report for the first half of 2005. Had the company postponed the reports, it would have lost its listing on the NYSE anyway.


Russia's largest gold deposit not to be auctioned off until 2008

The estimated reserves of Russia's largest gold deposit may be increased by 50%. However, the Sukhoi Log deposit in the Irkutsk Region, southeast Siberia, will not be offered at an auction until 2008. By this time, a law putting a cap on foreign investments in strategic deposits would have come into effect, making it very difficult for foreign companies to bid for Sukhoi Log.
Early next month the Federal Agency for Management of Mineral Resources (Rosnedra) is planning to award a tender to review Sukhoi Log gold reserves. The winner must produce the new estimates before March 31, 2008. New findings may push the reserves up to 1,541.2 tonnes from 1,041.2 tonnes.
Such a rise may make the deposit even more appealing to investors, who have been unsuccessfully trying to obtain licenses to it for several years. Also, experts do not rule out that Sukhoi Log may contain platinum, palladium and rhodium.
The last time an auction to develop Sukhoi Log was postponed at the beginning of 2005.
Despite the level of investment requirements to develop the deposit (up to $1.5 billion), several companies showed their interest. Candidates included Norilsk Nickel, Basic Element, Polimetall, Alrosa, Fleming Family & Partners, and Barrick Gold.
Experts are sure that a Russian company will win the tender. Aton analyst Vladimir Katunin said the most likely winner of the future auction is Polyus Gold, Norilsk Nickel's gold mining arm, formed when the metals giant separated its mining assets.
"Sukhoi Log investment requirements will be no less than $1 billion. Polyus Gold is today one of the largest gold mining companies, and can realistically invest such a sum, especially since it has set aside $2 billion for company development... Polimetall is a smaller company, while Alrosa is more focused on diamonds," Katunin said.
Finam brokerage said a joint venture between a Russian company and a major international player was a possibility.

source:ria novosti
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

CONFRONTING IRAN: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Crisis in the Middle East

"nuclear iran"--book review
CONFRONTING IRAN: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Crisis in the Middle East (Book by Ali M. Ansari)

Iran is going nuclear, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly proclaimed that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” The U.S. and Iran are currently at a total impasse, and some have claimed that the White House is already drawing up war plans. How did we get here?

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In CONFRONTING IRAN: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Conflict in the Middle East (on sale July 3, 2006) by Ali M. Ansari provides a concise yet comprehensive analysis of the brewing crisis, its origins, and its potential consequences. Ansari places current developments within a historical and cultural context. He describes the myths and prejudices which have developed on both sides over the course of centuries and which have shaped policy and public opinion for decades.

“With war plans being rumored, there could be no better time for Ansari's smart, concise, jargon-free recounting of a century of American-Iranian relations. This should be on the must read list of anyone concerned with what comes next in the Middle East.”

—Richard W. Bulliet, Professor of History, Columbia University

Ansari demonstrates that ongoing prejudice has bred mutual suspicion and conflicting narratives about key events including the overthrow of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953, the Islamic Revolution and the Hostage Crisis, the Iran-Iraq War, the Iran-Contra Scandal and the shooting down of the Iran Air airbus by the USS Vincennes. It will come as a surprise to most Americans that in the past this “Axis of Evil” nation admired America and held it up as the model of ‘religious democracy.’

America currently has neither diplomatic ties nor a coherent policy for dealing with Iran. And there is also no international consensus. Ansari deftly highlights the trilateral convergence of the U.S., Europe, and Iran which helps explain how Iran policy frequently falls victim to rivalry between Western allies, leading to our current state of muddled thinking, and even more muddled policy.

With twenty-six years of reactive, inconsistent or non-existent Western policy towards this oil rich nation, American readers will find CONFRONTING IRAN extremely timely and enlightening.


Fluent in Persian, Ali Ansari is a highly regarded specialist in the field of Iranian history and politics with a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He has written for periodicals including the Financial Times and the Independent (London) and has been a commentator on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News, and NPR.


The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Crisis in the Middle East

Ali Ansari

Published by Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group

Publication date; July 3, 2006

Price: $26.00 / Hardcover

280 pages

ISBN: 0-465-00350-8

Iran strategic council on Foreign relations Set

The supreme leader's creation reflects unease over the country's isolation, analysts say.
From Reuters

June 27, 2006

TEHRAN — Iran's supreme leader has created a foreign policy body that includes former government ministers, a move analysts said indicates disquiet in the leadership over the country's growing isolation.

The committee will not have executive powers, but analysts said Monday that they believed it could influence foreign policy, including the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities, which is handled by the Supreme National Security Council.

The committee includes former Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and other ministers from the reformist government of former President Mohammad Khatami, who sought a detente with the West and what he called "dialogue among civilizations."

Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, ties with the West have deteriorated, largely because of the nuclear debate and statements by the president that include a call for Israel's destruction.

"This council should be formed to help make major decisions and search for new horizons in Iran's foreign affairs," supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying in a decree published by the newspaper Shargh.

The paper did not describe the body's exact role.

"The nuclear crisis and Ahmadinejad's radical foreign policy have pushed the leader to form this committee," analyst Mohammed Atrianfar said.

Iran has been referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions over fears that it is building nuclear arms. It denies the charge, saying its goal is peaceful generation of electricity.

"It means that the core of the system is not satisfied with the function of its foreign policy apparatus and that it intends to reconstruct itself as quickly as possible," analyst Mashallah Shamsolvaezin said.

Six world powers have offered Iran a package of incentives to halt sensitive nuclear work. Tehran has yet to respond.
source:los angles times
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

U.S. Policy and Iran’s Nuclear Challenge

by James Phillips

June 27, 2006 | |

Testimony of James Phillips before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

May 18, 2006

"nuclear iran"--The efforts of the United States and its allies to dis­suade Iran from pursuing its long-sought goal of attain­ing a nuclear weapons capability have so far failed to yield satisfactory results. Iran made temporary tactical concessions in October 2003 under strong internation­al pressure to temporarily freeze its uranium enrich­ment operations and submit to increased inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Tehran feared that referral to the Unit­ed Nations Security Council could result in diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions, or possible military attack. It undoubtedly also was motivated by the rapid overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001 and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in early 2003 by U.S.-led coalitions.

Tehran made enough tactical concessions to stave off international sanctions and engage the European Union in diplomatic negotiations led by Britain, France, and Germany (the EU-3) to temporarily defuse the crisis. But Tehran later dropped the charade of negotiations after it apparently concluded that the international situ­ation had shifted in its favor. It now seems to believe that it is in a much stronger position due to the contin­ued need for U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghani­stan; the rise in oil prices, which has given it greater bargaining leverage with oil importers; and its diplo­matic cultivation of China and Russia, which can dilute or veto resolutions brought before the Security Council.

The installation of a new hard-line government led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August 2005 also was a major factor that led Tehran to renege on its agreement with the EU-3. Iran’s new president is firmly committed to Iran’s nuclear program and vehemently criticized Iran’s previous government for making too many concessions in past negotia­tions with the EU-3. Shortly thereafter, Iran resumed operations at the Isfahan uranium conver­sion facility, converting yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride, a preliminary step before enrich­ment. In January 2006, Iran announced its inten­tion to resume uranium enrichment activities and removed IAEA seals at its Natanz facility. Iran remains determined to develop a complete nuclear fuel cycle, which would eventually give it the fissile material for nuclear weapons. Thus far, Iran has escaped paying any significant price for its appar­ent violations of its commitments under the Nucle­ar Non-Proliferation Treaty and failure to fully cooperate with the IAEA.

The U.S. should mobilize an international coali­tion to raise the diplomatic, economic, domestic political, and potential military costs to Tehran of continuing to flout its obligations under its nuclear safeguards agreements. This “coalition of the will­ing” should seek to isolate the Ahmadinejad regime, weaken it through targeted economic sanc­tions, explain to the Iranian people why their gov­ernment’s nuclear policies will impose economic costs and military risks on them, contain Iran’s mil­itary power, and encourage democratic change. If Tehran persists in its drive for nuclear weapons despite these escalating pressures, then the United States should consider military options to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The Growing Threat of Ahmadinejad’s Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose through the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the pra­etorian guard dedicated to advancing and exporting the revolution that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini inspired in Iran in 1978–1979. Ahmadinejad is a true believer in Khomeini’s radical vision of Iran’s role as the vanguard of a global Islamic revolution. He has lambasted the U.S. as “a failing power” and a threat to the Muslim world.

In sharp contrast to his predecessor, former Pres­ident Mohammad Khatami, who advocated a con­ciliatory “dialogue of civilizations” but was blocked by the strong opposition of the ideological hardlin­ers, Ahmadinejad has returned to the fiery rhetoric of the Khomeini era. In September he delivered a truculent speech at the United Nations, warning foreign governments against meddling in Iranian affairs. On October 26, he made a venomous speech attacking Israel in which he quoted Khomeini: “As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.”

Ahmadinejad’s vehement return to Khomeini’s radical line has been accompanied by a purge of pragmatists and reformers within the regime. Forty of Iran’s senior ambassadors have been recalled from overseas posts, including diplomats who were involved in the EU-3 negotiations in Britain, France, Germany, and at the United Nations in Geneva. Ahmadinejad has appointed many of his Revolutionary Guard cronies to key positions throughout the government.

Iran also has been increasingly aggressive in stir­ring up trouble inside Iraq. In October, the British government charged that the Iranians had supplied sophisticated bombs with shaped charges capable of penetrating armor to clients in Iraq who used them in a series of attacks on British forces in southern Iraq. Iran also has given discreet support to insurgents such as Moqtada al-Sadr, who twice has led Shiite uprisings against coalition forces and the Iraqi government.

Iranian hardliners undoubtedly fear that a stable democratic Iraq would present a dangerous alter­native model of government that could undermine their own authority. They know that Iraq’s pre-emi­nent Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose religious authority is greater than that of any member of Iran’s ruling clerical regime, rejects Khomeini’s radical ideology and advocates traditional Shiite religious doctrines. Although Iran continues to enjoy considerable influence with many Iraqi Shiites, particularly with Iraq’s Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party, the moderate influence of Sistani dilutes their own revolutionary influence. There­fore, Tehran plays a double game in Iraq, using the young firebrand al-Sadr to undermine Sistani and keep pressure on the U.S. military to withdraw, while still maintaining good relations with Shiite political parties who revere Sistani and need con­tinued American support.

In addition to its destabilizing role in Iraq, Iran continues to be the word’s leading sponsor of ter­rorism. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recent­ly called Iran “the central banker” of international terrorism. It has close ties to the Lebanon-based Hezballah terrorist group, which it organized and continues to finance, arm, and train. Tehran also has supported a wide variety of Palestinian terrorist groups, including Fatah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as Afghan extremists such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Iran was involved in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, which killed 19 American military personnel deployed in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Iran reportedly continues to give sanctuary to elements of al-Qaeda, including at least one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, Saad bin Lad­en, and Saif al-Adil, a top operations coordinator.

This long and deep involvement in terrorism, continued hostility to the United States, and repeated threats to destroy Israel, provide a strong warning against the dangers of allowing such a rad­ical regime to develop nuclear weapons.

Leading an International Response to Iran’s Nuclear Challenge

Diplomatic efforts centered on the United Nations to pressure Iran to abandon its clandestine nuclear efforts are unlikely to solve the problem, in part due to the institutional weaknesses of the U.N. Security Council, where a lack of consensus often leads to paralysis or lowest common denominator policies that are not effective. Nevertheless, the Bush Administration must resolutely press the dip­lomatic case at the Security Council to set the stage and improve the U.S. position in the push for pos­sible diplomatic and economic sanctions targeted at Iran’s recalcitrant regime, or, as a last resort, pos­sible future military action.

Another goal should be to make sure that the end result of the Security Council’s interactions with Iran clearly lays the responsibility of any failure on Tehran, not Washington. Washington should seek to focus the Security Council debate on the critical issue—the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program —not the broader question of whether to seek a multilateral “grand bargain” with an untrustworthy revolutionary power that exploited and sabotaged past American efforts to stage a rapprochement under the Carter and Reagan Administrations and failed to respond to the tentative détente offered by the Clinton Administration. Getting drawn into a multilateral dialogue with Iran through the auspices of the United Nations would allow Iran to divert attention from its safeguard violations and history of terrorism, while subjecting the United States to growing international pressure to bribe Iran with diplomatic carrots to comply with international legal commitments that it already has violated and could renege on again in the future.

Iran already has provided ample evidence that it has no intention to fully cooperate with the IAEA or end the uranium enrichment activities that eventu­ally will give it a nuclear weapons capability. If it merely seeks a nuclear power capability for eco­nomic reasons, as it insists, then it would not have rejected the Russian offer to enrich uranium at facil­ities in Russia, which would have saved it consider­able costs in building and operating uranium enrichment facilities. Moreover, Iran also would have received additional economic benefits from the EU-3 if it had not broken off those negotiations.

Under these circumstances, the EU-3’s recent undertaking to put together a new package of incentives for Iran is the triumph of wishful think­ing over experience. Beginning a new round of negotiations while Iran continues to work to per­fect its uranium enrichment technology will enable Tehran to buy time for its nuclear weapons pro­gram, forestall sanctions, and weaken the perceived costs of violating the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the eyes of other countries who may con­sider following Iran’s path. To change Iran’s course, the EU-3 should be considering larger disincen­tives, not just larger incentives.

Forge a coalition to impose the strongest possible sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Although it has greatly benefited from the recent spike in world oil and natural gas prices, Iran’s eco­nomic future is not a promising one. The mullahs have sabotaged economic growth through the expansion of state control of the economy, econom­ic mismanagement, and corruption. Annual per capita income is only about two-thirds of what it was at the time of the 1979 revolution. The situa­tion is likely to get worse as President Ahmadinejad follows through on his populist promises to increase subsidies and give Iran’s poor a greater share of Iran’s oil wealth.

Iranians are sending large amounts of their capital out of the country due to fears over the potentially disastrous policies of the new government. Shortly after Ahmadinejad gave his October 26 speech threatening Israel, Iran’s stock market plunged to its lowest level in two years. Many Iranian businessmen understand, even if Ahmadinejad does not, that Iran’s economic future depends on access to world markets, foreign investment, and trade.

The U.S. should push for the strongest possible sanctions at the U.N. Security Council. But experi­ence has demonstrated that Washington cannot rely on the U.N. to halt the Iranian nuclear pro­gram. Russia and China, which have extensive eco­nomic, military, and energy ties to Iran, may veto or dilute any effective resolution. The U.S. therefore should make contingency plans to work with Brit­ain, France, Germany, the EU, and Japan to impose sanctions outside the U.N. framework if necessary.

An international ban on the import of Iranian oil is a non-starter. It is unrealistic to expect oil importers to stop importing Iranian oil in a tight, high-priced oil market. Instead, the focus should be on denying Iran loans, foreign investment, and favorable trade deals. Washington should cooper­ate with other countries to deny Iran loans from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and to deny Iran loans for a proposed natural gas pipeline to India via Pakistan.

Although Iran is one of the world’s leading oil exporters, it is also an importer of gasoline due to mismanagement and inadequate investment in its refinery infrastructure. An international ban on gasoline exports to Iran would deprive Tehran of approximately 40 percent of its daily gasoline con­sumption. This would significantly drive up the price of Iranian gasoline and underscore to the Ira­nian people the shortsighted policies of Iran’s rul­ing regime.

In addition to economic sanctions, the U.S. should press its allies and other countries to ban nuclear assistance, arms sales, and the export of dual-use technology to Iran. Symbolic sanctions, such as a travel ban on Iranian officials or prohibi­tion on Iranian participation in international sports events, would drive home to the Iranian people that international opposition to Iran’s nuclear program is widespread and not an artificial issue created by the United States, as their government claims.

Support Iran’s democratic opposition.

The Bush Administration has correctly aligned the U.S. with the Iranian people in their efforts to build a true democracy, but it has held back from a policy of regime change, partly in deference to the EU-3 negotiations with Iran about its nuclear pro­gram. However, now that it is clear that Iran has reneged on its promises to the EU-3, Washington should discreetly aid all Iranian groups that support democracy and reject terrorism, either through direct grants or indirectly through nongovernmen­tal organizations. The Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005 (H.R. 282 and S. 333), currently under consideration by Congress would authorize such aid and tighten U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

Iran has a well-educated group of young reform­ers who seek to replace Iran’s current mullahcracy with a genuine democracy that is accountable to the Iranian people. They have been demoralized by the failure of former President Khatami to live up to his promises of reform and his lack of support for the student uprisings of 1999, but are likely to be re-energized by a brewing popular disenchantment with the policies of Ahmadinejad’s hardliners.

The U.S. and its allies should discreetly support all Iranian opposition groups that reject terrorism and advocate democracy by publicizing their activ­ities internationally and within Iran, giving them organizational training indirectly through NGOs, and inviting them to attend international confer­ences and workshops outside Iran, preferably in European or other countries where Iranians could travel relatively freely with minimal fear of being penalized upon their return to Iran.

Educational exchanges with Western students would be an important avenue for bolstering and opening up communication with Iran’s restive stu­dents, who historically have played a leading role in Iran’s reform movements. Women’s groups also could play a key role in strengthening support for political reforms among young Iranian women, a crucial ele­ment opposing the restoration of harsh social restric­tions by Iran’s resurgent Islamic ideologues.

The United States also should covertly subsidize opposition publications and organizing efforts, as it did to aid the anti-communist opposition during the Cold War in Europe and Asia. But such programs should be strictly segregated from the public out­reach efforts of the U.S. and its allies to avoid putting Iranian participants in international forums at risk of arrest or persecution when they return home.

The United States should not try to play favorites among the various Iranian opposition groups, but should encourage them to cooperate under the umbrella of the broadest possible coalition. But Washington should rule out support for the People’s Mujahideen Organization (PMO), which is also known as the Mujahideen Khalq, or its front group, the National Council of Resistance. The PMO is a non-democratic Marxist terrorist group that was part of the broad revolutionary coalition that over­threw the Shah, but was purged in 1981 and aligned itself with Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

While this cult-like group is one of the best-orga­nized exile organizations, it has little support inside Iran because of its alliance with arch-enemy Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war. Moreover, the PMO resorted to terrorism against the Shah’s regime and was responsible for the assassinations of at least four American military officers in Iran during the 1970s. It demonstrated in support of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and against the release of the American hostages in 1981. The U.S. cannot afford to support an organization with such a long history of terrorism if it expects Tehran to halt its own terrorism.

Launch a public diplomacy campaign to explain to the Iranian people how the regime’s nuclear weapons program and hard-line policies hurt their economic and national interests.

Iran’s clerical regime has tightened its grip on the media in recent years, shutting down more than 100 independent newspapers, jailing journalists, closing down Web sites, and arresting bloggers. The U.S. and its allies should work to defeat the regime’s suppression of independent media by increasing Farsi broadcasts by government-sponsored media such as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe (Radio Farda), and other information sources. The free flow of information is an important prerequisite for the free flow of political ideas. The Iranian peo­ple need access to information about the activities of Iranian opposition groups, both within and outside Iran, and the plight of dissidents.

The Internet is a growing source of unfiltered information for many Iranians, particularly Iranian students. Farsi is reportedly the fourth most popu­lar language used online and there has been a pro­liferation of political blogs devoted to Iranian issues. The U.S. should consider ways of assisting Iranians outside the country to establish politically oriented Web sites that could be accessed by activ­ists and other interested people inside Iran.

Mobilize allies to contain and deter Iran.

The bellicose resurgence of Iran’s hardliners, Iran’s continued support for terrorism, and the pro­spective emergence of a nuclear Iran pose threats to many countries. President Ahmadinejad’s belliger­ence gives Washington greater opportunity to mobilize other states, particularly those living in the growing shadow of Iranian power. The United States should maintain a strong naval and air pres­ence in the Persian Gulf to deter Iran and strength­en military cooperation with the Gulf States.

The U.S. and its European allies should strength­en military, intelligence, and security cooperation with threatened states, such as Iraq, Turkey, Israel, and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), which was founded in 1981 to provide collective security for Arab states threatened by Iran. Such a coalition could help contain the expansion of Iranian power and possi­bly would cooperate in facilitating military action, if necessary, against Iran.

Washington could also offer to deploy or transfer anti-ballistic missile defense systems to threatened states, enhance joint military planning, and step up joint military and naval exercises. In particular, the U.S. and its allies should stage multilateral naval exercises to demonstrate the will and capability to defeat Tehran’s threats to block the Strait of Hor­muz, through which flows about two-fifths of the world’s oil exports.

Prepare for the use of military force as a last resort.

A strong U.S. military posture is essential to dis­suading and deterring Iran from fielding nuclear weapons and supporting terrorism, and when nec­essary responding decisively and effectively to Irani­an threats. To deal with a nuclear or terrorist threat from Iran several military capabilities are particular­ly important. They include (1) expanding and strengthening the proliferation security initiative; (2) theater missile defense; (3) robust special oper­ations forces and human intelligence (HUMINT) assets; (4) assured access to bases and staging areas in the theater for both special operations and con­ventional ground, air, and sea forces; and (5) energy security preparations.

Proliferation Security Initiative. PSI is a multina­tional effort to track down and break up networks that proliferate chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons technologies and materials. The Adminis­tration should field more modern capabilities that can provide the right intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, and interdiction assets for the U.S. military. In particular, modernization of Coast Guard and Naval forces that can help prevent seaborne trafficking of weapons material is vital.

Theater Missile Defense. TMD is also essential. Missile defenses provide the means to intercept a ballistic missile in flight and destroy it before the missile can deliver a nuclear warhead to its target. The United States should work with its friends and allies to provide theater missile defense to countries in the region. The United States should continue to pursue a mix of air, land, and sea-based missile defense systems.

Special Operations Forces and HUMINT. These military and intelligence assets provide the capacity for focused operations against specific targets. Today, these forces are overstretched, performing many missions in the global war on terrorism. The Pentagon must end the use of special operations forces for training foreign militaries and other tasks that can be done by conventional military units. In addition, the Administration must bolster the ranks of the special forces and HUMINT assets that might be required to operate in Iran, ensuring they have the right language skills, area knowledge, and detailed, actionable intelligence.

Theater Access. The United States must ensure it retains the means to deploy and sustain forces in the theater. The Pentagon should work to secure a vari­ety of basing options for staging military operations. In addition, the military must have robust means to ensure its ability to operate in the Gulf and defeat “anti-access” weapons that Iran might employ such as cruise missiles, sea-based mines, terrorist attacks, and biological or chemical weapons.

Energy Security Preparations. In the event of a mil­itary clash with the United States, Iran undoubtedly will try to follow through on its threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers and disrupt oil exports from other Persian Gulf oil exporters. Washington should take immediate steps to limit the future impact of such oil supply disruptions by working with the Arab Gulf states to help them reduce the vulnerability of their oil infrastructure to Iranian military and terrorist attacks; pressing U.S. allies and other oil importers to expand their strate­gic oil stockpiles; encouraging Saudi Arabia to expand its excess oil production capacity; and ask­ing Saudi Arabia to upgrade the Trans Saudi Arabi­an pipeline to increase its capacity and make preparations to bring the Iraq–Saudi pipeline back online to reroute oil exports away from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea oil export terminals.

The Nightmare Scenario of a Nuclear Iran

There is no guaranteed policy that can halt the Iranian nuclear program short of war, and even a military campaign may only delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability. But U.S. policy­making regarding the Iranian nuclear issue inevita­bly boils down to a search for the least-bad option. And as potentially costly and risky as a preventive war against Iran would be, allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons would result in far heavier poten­tial costs and risks.

The U.S. probably would be able to deter Iran from a direct nuclear attack on American or Israeli targets by threatening massive retaliation and the assured destruction of the Iranian regime. But there is a lingering doubt that a leader such as President Ahmadinejad, who reportedly harbors apocalyptic religious beliefs, would have the same cost-benefit calculus about a nuclear war as other leaders. The bellicose leader, who boldly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” before he acquired a nuclear weapon, might be sorely tempted to follow through on his threat after he acquired one. Moreover, his regime might risk passing nuclear weapons off to terrorist surrogates in hopes of escaping retaliation for a nuclear surprise attack launched by an unknown attacker.

Even if Iran could be deterred from considering such attacks, an Iranian nuclear breakout would undermine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, and Algeria to build or acquire their own nuclear weap­ons. Each new nuclear power would multiply the risks and uncertainties in an already volatile region.

Iran also may be emboldened to step up its sup­port of terrorism and subversion, calculating that its nuclear capability would deter a military response. An Iranian miscalculation could easily lead to a future military clash with the United States or an American ally that would impose expo­nentially higher costs than a war with a non-nucle­ar Iran. Even if it could not threaten a nuclear missile attack on U.S. territory for many years, Tehran could credibly threaten to target the Saudi oil fields with a nuclear weapon, thereby gaining a potent blackmail threat over the world economy.

I believe that Senator John McCain was correct when he concisely stated: “There is only one thing worse than the U.S. exercising a military option, and that is a nuclear-armed Iran.”

source:The Heritage Foundation
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk