The warning came after the recent arrests by the ministry of intelligence of four Iranian-Americans: Nazee Azima, Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh and Ali Shakeri. A growing number of academic and human rights organizations in the US has called for the immediate release of Iranian-American detainees.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
The warning came after the recent arrests by the ministry of intelligence of four Iranian-Americans: Nazee Azima, Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh and Ali Shakeri. A growing number of academic and human rights organizations in the US has called for the immediate release of Iranian-American detainees.
The meeting between Solana and Larijani was their first since a 60-day time limit set by UN Security Council Resolution 1747 expired last week. 1747 had called for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program.
Before leaving for Madrid, Larijani told reporters in Tehran that US-Iran talks that had started in Baghdad could affect the nuclear issue. He did not offer any details.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
On nuclear front, President Ahmadinejad again likened Iran’s nuclear progress to a train which has no breaks or reverse gears. Ahmadinejad declared that Iran’s uranium enrichment program will not be suspended. The new IAEA report to the UN Security Council indeed indicated the heightened level of enrichment activities in the country.
On the domestic front, Iranian security agencies arrested three Iranian-American academics and journalists and charged them with spying for the West and fermenting a velvet revolution in Iran.
· US and Iran delegations met in Baghdad, ending a 27-year diplomatic freeze; the US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, the head of US delegation, said the talks went on for four hours, and the two sides agreed broadly on policy toward Iraq; the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qumi, the head of the Iranian delegation, said he told the Americans that Iran was ready to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create a new military and security structure; Kazemi also said that the next meeting between the two sides will take place in Iraq in less than one month; Crocker described the meeting as businesslike; he said he told the Iranians they needed to stop arming, funding and training the militias in Iraq; the two sides reported that the focus of the discussions was Iraq; the meeting was the highest-level direct official talks between the US and Iran since the countries severed diplomatic relations in 1980.
· Tehran Friday Prayer leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Khatami, said during his Friday sermons that there would be no negotiations between Iran and the US; he said the Supreme Leader has rejected Iran’s talks with the US on every subject including Iraq; the prayer leader added that the Supreme Leader is following the advice of the late Imam Khomeini who had called America the great Satan; an hour after the sermons, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman announced that the Iranian delegation for talks with the US will be headed by Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi.
· US TV network program ABC News reported that President Bush has authorized new covert action against Iran; current and former US intelligence officials have told ABC that the covert “black” operation is to destabilize the Iranian government; the reported plan will include a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions; the sources told ABC that the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year and has received approval from the White House; a recently-retired senior CIA official with direct responsibility over Iran told ABC that economic pressure on Iran may be the most effective tool available, particularly in going after secret accounts used to fund the nuclear program.
· The US engaged in a show of force in the Persian Gulf this week; US warships carrying 17,000 personnel entered the Gulf in what was termed as the largest US naval presence in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 Iraq war; the carriers USS John Stennis and USS Nimitz sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf along with a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ships.
The Nuclear Program
· President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressing a political rally in Isfahan again likened Iran’s nuclear progress to a train which has no breaks or reverse gears; Ahmadinejad said Iran not only does not suspend its uranium enrichment activities but it is actually boosting its nuclear fuel cycle capabilities; he said Iran’s goal is to become an exporter of nuclear fuel.
· The UN nuclear watchdog agency IAEA reported to the UN Security Council that Iran has indeed expanded its uranium enrichment program; the IAEA report said that Iran has installed 1,300 centrifuges in Natanz with hundreds more in pre-installation final test phase; UN Resolution 1747 required Iran to suspend all its uranium enrichment activities.
· The Iranian ambassador to IAEA Ali Soltanieh said the new IAEA reports shows Iran has not breached any of its international commitments; he added that Iran’s activities have no deviation from peaceful objectives; the deputy Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Saidi also said the report clears Iran on any reprocessing activities as well as on the issue of plutonium.
· IAEA chief Mohammad El Baradei said that in order to make progress, Iran might be allowed to develop limited research on uranium enrichment activities; he said the precondition for such proposal was that Iran did not build the industrial productive system for uranium enrichment and would be subject to the strict inspection of the IAEA; the US objected to El Baradei’s proposal and asked Iran to suspend all its enrichment activities.
· President Bush called for much severer sanctions against Iran for its continued defiance of the UNSC resolutions; the new French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, also said that France is in favor of the rapid adoption of new sanctions against Iran; Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with Iran; Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak said that Iran’s failure to comply with UN resolutions is “deeply disappointing”; he urged Iran to resolve the problem through dialogue.
· EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will meet in Madrid on 31 May; Solana said they will discuss concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.
· The Russian nuclear agency RosAtom announced that Iran seems to have lost interest in the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant; RosAtom spokesman said Iran is not financing the project properly; the spokesman said Iran was scheduled to pay the Russians $25 million a month but in the first five months of the year it has only paid a total of $20 million; If they pay, work will proceed, RosAtom spokesman added.
Leading Domestic Storylines
· Iranian security officials have charged three Iranian-Americans of spying; Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, both scholars, have been arrested on espionage charges; Parnaz Azima, a reporter for US government-sponsored Radio Farda, has also been charged and prevented from leaving the country; a growing movement by academics and human rights organization have demanded the immediate release of Iranian-American detainees; the intelligence ministry has also arrested Ali Shakeri, another Iranian-American human rights activists; no charges against Mr. Shakeri has been announced yet.
· Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said that the German Chancellor and the current EU President Angela Merkel’s remarks on human rights condition in Iran were “interference” in Iranian internal affairs; EU has severely criticized Iran’s human rights records.
· Iran’s ministry of intelligence announced that several “spy networks” have been uncovered in Iran; the ministry linked the networks to US intelligence agencies; the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents the US interests in Iran, to protest against the existence of several US spy networks in Iran; these networks were planning to carry out sabotage in the west, southwest and central regions of Iran.
· Iran’s chief international negotiator, Ali Larijani, said Iran was ready to cooperate with France on a peace plan for Lebanon; the proposed Iranian plan calls for the formation of a national government representing all factions and a new presidential elections; Iran was also proposing that a national tribunal be formed to try suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri; after these steps to normalize the political situation in Lebanon, Iran would make efforts to “persuade” the Hezbollah to participate in political process and integrate its forces within the Lebenese military.
· Egypt welcomed resumption of ties with Iran; Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said he received a message from his counterpart, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who welcomed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's offer to re-establish full diplomatic relations; the Egyptians have demanded that prior to the resumption of relations, the Iranians name to change a street name in Tehran honoring the murderer of former president Anwar Sadat.
· Iran, India and Pakistan agreed to sign a gas pipeline agreement; the pipeline, when built, will transport Iranian natural gas to India and Pakistan.
Monday, May 28, 2007
US and Iran delegations met today in Baghdad. The US ambassador Ryan Crocker said the talks went on for four hours, and the two sides agreed broadly on policy toward Iraq. The Iranian ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi said that he told the Americans that Iran was ready to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create a new military and security structure.
Kazemi Qumi also told reporters that the next meeting between the two sides will take place in Iraq in less than one month.
Crocker described the meeting as businesslike. He said he told the Iranians they needed to stop arming, funding and training the militias in Iraq.
The two sides reported that the focus of the discussions was Iraq. The meeting was the highest-level direct official talks between the US and Iran since the countries severed diplomatic relations in 1980.
(Photo courtesy of AFP: Iraqi Premier Maleki welcoming the US and Iran delegations in his office in Baghdad before the start of the talks.)
Sunday, May 27, 2007
ISNA reported today that the Swiss ambassador in
Saturday, May 26, 2007
The appointment of Kazemi Qumi was a surprise.
It is apparent that there were serious divisions within the leadership in
Ryan Crocker, the
I do not know Kazemi Qumi personally and I am not knowledgeable of his capabilities, but he will sit across the table from a very experienced and professional diplomat.
Friday, May 25, 2007
The reported plan will include a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions. The sources told ABC that the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year and has received approval from the White House.
A recently-retired senior CIA official with direct responsibility over Iran has told ABC that economic pressure on Iran may be the most effective tool available, particularly in going after secret accounts used to fund the nuclear program.
ABC News has come under heavy criticism for its report revealing the covert CIA operation to destabilize the government of Iran.
The plan is designed to put pressure on Ahmadinejad government to stop Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time the US is engaged in a show of force in the Persian Gulf. On Wednesday, US warships carrying 17,000 personnel entered the Gulf in what was termed as the largest US naval presence in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 Iraq war.
The carriers USS John Stennis and USS Nimitz sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf along with a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ships.
Through military threats, economic sanctions, covert actions to financially destabilize the government, as well as the diplomatic channels, as in US-Iran meeting in Baghdad scheduled for Monday, the US has started a multi-pronged approach to change the behavior of the Iranian regime. Barring any major development in Iran’s nuclear policy or any move on the part of the Iranians to disrupt the flow of oil in the Persian Gulf, a US military attack on Iran increasingly looks unlikely (for a more detailed analysis, please see the 14 May posting on this blog).
On Wednesday, IAEA reported to the UN Security Council that Iran has indeed expanded its uranium enrichment program. The IAEA report said that Iran has installed 1,300 centrifuges in Natanz with hundreds more in pre-installation final test phase.
President Bush called for much severer sanctions against Iran for its continued defiance of the UNSC resolutions. The new French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner also said in Paris yesterday that France is in favor of the rapid adoption of new sanctions against Iran.
In a related development, the Russian nuclear agency RosAtom announced that Iran seems to have lost interest in completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. A RosAtom spokesman told AFP that Iran is not financing the project properly. The spokesman said Iran was scheduled to pay the Russians $25 million a month but in the first five months of the year it has only paid a total of $20 million. If they pay, work will proceed, he said.
An hour after the sermons, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman announced that the Iranian delegation for talks with the US will be headed by Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qumi.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
· Iran and US will hold talks on 28 may in baghdad on Iraqi security issues; The US team will be headed by Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker; Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran will name an experienced diplomat with ambassadorial rank to head the Iranian team; the meeting agenda was limited by both side to the security issues facing Iraq.
· Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that the Islamic Republic was leading the world’s nations in their confrontation against the US; Khamenie said that Iran is turned into a “command center” of the anti-US front; he said the Islamic Republic’s system detonated a powerful bomb in the world of politics which was “thousands-fold stronger than the bomb detonated by the US in Hiroshima.”
· Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said there were no links between the Iraqi security issues to be discussed with the US on 28 May in Baghdad and Iran’s nuclear program; Hosseini said during Iran-US talks, a representative of the Iraqi government will also be present; Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameneie had said earlier that Iran’s policy of not negotiation with Washington remained intact and that the 28 May talks were limited to Iraq’s security issues.
The Nuclear Program
· The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) announced the start of the construction of the country’s first indigenous nuclear power plant; IAEO deputy director, Mohammad Saidi, said Iran has completed the feasibility studies and has identified the location for the plant; Saidi said the plant was scheduled to be built and fully operationalized within the next ten years.
· IAEO deputy director Mohammad Saidi said Iran will produce nuclear fuel within the next five years; Saidi said that Iran was the first country ever to acquire the nuclear technology through its own indigenous scientists.
· Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program will be an act of “international disobedience”; Larijani said the 5+1 push against Iran did not allow the enforcement of relevant international laws; Larijani said if new sanctions are imposed on Iran, the country will play its card too.
· Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani hailed IAEA chief Mohammad El Baradei’s comments that Iran’s enrichment program is a reality that can not be turned back; Larijani said he appreciated El Baradei’s acumenship in realizing the advance stage of the Iranian program.
· The Japanese government implemented the UN resolutions on freezing assets of Iranian individuals and organizations as identified by the UN.
Leading Domestic Storylines
· The Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced charges of enticing velvet revolution in Iran against the Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari; Esfandiary was arrested two week ago and has been prevented from leaving the country for nearly six months; the Intelligence officials said that Esfandiari revealed to the ministry the names of Soros Foundation director and employees in Iran; the ministry charged that Soros Foundation was also involved in promoting velvet revolution in Iran; the colleagues and friends of Ms. Esfandiari have vehemently denied the charges as baseless; the academic world has threatened Iran with an academic boycott if Esfandiari is not released immediately.; the Iranian-American journalist Nazi Azima has also been prevented from leaving the country; Ms. Azima was in Tehran on a personal visit.
· Iranian Intelligence Minister Mohseni Ejeie said the state security case against Hossein Moussavian, former member of the Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, was still open ; Ejeie said Moussavian’s case involves leaking state information to foreign embassies in Tehran; he said after completion of the investigations, a judge will issue the verdict against Moussavian; political observers in Tehran regard the case as politically motivated; Mousavian is a close ally of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani.
· The Iranian ministries of oil and interior announced the launching of new gasoline price; the prices were raised from the equivalent of 38 cents per gallon (from the current 30 cents/gallon); the government postponed rationing gasoline; the rationing start date will be announced in future.
· The bill making the elections for the new term of the Iranian parliament simultaneous with the presidential election, that had been passed by Majlis but rejected by the Guardian Council, was sent for arbitration to the Expediency Council; Majlis wanted to hold both elections on the same day in October 2008; the move would have cut Ahmadinejad’s term as the current president by four months and was strongly opposed by the government; the Guardian Council has rejected the bill as unconstitutional.
· Iranian provincial authorities in Baluchistan announced that during the recent nationwide campaign against the Afghan nationals living illegally in Iran, some 60,000 Afghans have been expelled from Iran; the government has asked all illegal residents to register with the government for orderly repatriation process; the world’s humanitarian organizations have condemned Iran for its harsh treatment and expulsion of Afghan citizens, who have been working in Iran for years.
· Iranian authorities arrested 15 people in Tabriz, the capital of Iranian Azerbaijan, for inciting anti-government demonstrations; the arrests came before the anniversary of the publication of a cartoon offensive to Azeri’s; the cartoon was published last year in Iran newspaper published in Tehran.
· Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the Iraqi government was directly responsible for the safety and the return of the captured Iranians envoys; five Iranian envoys were seized by US forces during a raid on their office building in Erbil, Iraq; Mottaki said Iran will accept “no excuses” on this issue; Mottaki said the captured Iranians wanted to first meet with Iranian consular officials before meeting their families.
· Abdul Aziz Hakim, the powerful Shia leader of Iraq, arrived in Tehran for medical treatment; Hakim had been diagnosed for lung cancer.
· Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said he was not referring to Palestine, and not to Israel, when he said in Jordan that no country could be wiped off the world’s map; international news agencies had reported that Mottaki’s comments on Israel were in direct challenge to president Ahmadinejad’s proclamations.
· Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left for Belarus on a state visit; Ahmadinejad was to meet Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenko in Minsk, the Belarusian capital; Ahmadinejad and Lukashenko were expected to sign several agreements on bilateral relations during the visit.
· The Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al Ghayt hailed statements by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to restore diplomatic relations with Egypt; Ahmadinejad had called for the restoration of the relationship while on his recent tour of the Persian Gulf states of UAE and Oman.
· Jordan’s King Abdullah said his country opposes any military attack against Iran over its nuclear program; King Abdullah said a strike against Iran would be disastrous.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The study covered thousands of Websites and 120 Internet service providers. Iran also was one of the most active countries censoring social content, joining Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen and UAE in this category.
The Islamic Republic was also among governments that block entire Internet-based applications like YouTube and Google Maps.
The study found that as more groups and individuals use the Internet to communicate and organize, more governments see it as a threat and are tempted to censor. The online activists (or hactivists) also seek new ways to circumvent the filtering, OpenNet Initiative reports. The use of “proxy” techniques or special software is widely used by the activists to bypass the government censorship. OpenNet Initiative will next study government surveillance of Internet users.
Many US companies, including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, provide the technology that allows the countries to censor the Internet, Mercury News reported. OpenNet Initiative study brings to light efforts by human-rights groups, investment groups, online activists, and Internet companies negotiate a code of ethical conduct for preventing corporations from selling filtering products to censoring countries.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Cheney’s blunt warning against Iran, and its locale, with two carrier strike groups surrounding him, implied that a US attack will be coming if the Islamic Republic got close to building nukes and if it disturbed the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.
On Saturday, a day after Cheney’s warning, the White House announced that the US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, will soon meet a top Iranian official in Baghdad to start its bilateral talks with Iran on Iraqi security. The mere meeting between Crocker and, most probably, Iranian foreign ministry’s Abbas Araghchi is the most significant overture toward the Islamic Republic by the Bush administration, notwithstanding the meeting’s announced agenda.
What’s then the US intention? A closer look at the contradictory approaches in the past couple of days reveals a subtle and undeclared US policy towards the Islamic Republic:
- US do not have a policy of regime change in Iran. Aside from Cheney’s vague reference to delivering justice to enemies of freedom, nothing in his blunt remarks suggest willingness in trying to topple the regime. The US is after changing Islamic Republic’s behavior, and it will apply military threat as well as diplomacy to pressure Tehran to behave.
- The main US goal in the region is to keep the sea lanes in the Persian Gulf open and the oil flow uninterrupted. The now-permanent presence of the two carrier strike groups in the Gulf, with hundreds of warplanes and scores of missiles, both conventional and tactical nuke, is to repel any possible Iranian threats to close down the Straight of Hormuz. The two aircraft carries each is powered by two nuclear reactors, giving them unlimited range and endurance.
- The other US goal is to prevent the Islamic Republic to manufacture the atomic bombs. The US is counting on its new diplomatic initiatives, coupled with tightening economic sanctions, to do the trick. The presence of the two aircraft carriers will also serve as a reminder to Tehran of US capabilities to knock down the country’s nuclear facilities.
- And there is a growing unease in the US over Iran’s strategic gains in the region, from Iraq to Lebanon and to public opinions on Arab streets. Cheney wanted to draw the line by showing off US military might. And Condoleezza Rice will try to hold down Iran through bilateral talks.
It is increasingly becoming clear that the US will not attack Iran if such attack does not lead to the change of regime in Tehran. Washington knows well that any military attack on Iran that does not topple the Islamic Republic would rally the people against the US and would actually strengthen the regime.
For the time being, barring a major development in Iran’s nuclear program or any move on the part of the Iranians to disrupt the flow of oil in the Persian Gulf, the US is adopting a policy of pressuring Iran to change its behavior, through military threats and through diplomatic channels. Cheney’s ultimatum and the White House announcement of the bilateral talks do not seem all that contradictory.
The wild card in all this is Israel. The Israelis do not share US concerns that a military attack on Iran’ nuclear facilities without a regime change would rally the people against the West and would strengthen the Islamic Republic. Israel’s main concern is its survival. With on-going threats against its very existence by the political leaders in Tehran, Israel might not hesitate to use its air force against Iran if it felt that the country was on the verge of producing an atomic bomb.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
The airport police also have issued some 17,000 warnings against women for not fully wearing the veil and have forced 850 of them to sign a written pledge to wear the veil in the correct Islamic form in future. The police have referred 130 cases of bad hijab to the judiciary for prosecution. The police in Tehran have formed 50 new police squads solely to enforce Islamic dress.
The nation-wide campaign against the women and the youth for wearing non-Islamic dress is dubbed in Orwellian terms such as the campaign to uphold social values. The fundamentalist majority in Majlis also is planning to introduce a bill creating national uniforms for both men and women that would comply with Islamic teachings.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, also said today in Tehran that Iran has agreed to hold the talks.
Earlier today a spokesman for Vice President Dick Cheney said Washington was ready for such dialogue. Lea Anne McBride said the US was ready to have conversations with the Iranians limited to Iraq issues, at the ambassador level.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Cheney said the US with two carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf will keep the sea lanes open and will oppose any strategic threats from the Islamic Republic.
He also said the US will deliver justice to the enemies of freedom. Cheney’s warnings were among the strongest ever made by the US against the Islamic Republic.
Fras news agency reported today that the Iranian military has built a new air defense system capable of linking all components of air defense command and control system.
Meanwhile in Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today said that Iran is at the final stage of becoming nuclear. Ahmadinejad did not elaborate what becoming nuclear means. He said, however, that the government will not retreat in the face of the threats by the enemies of the Islamic Republic.
Unlike their combative leaders, top diplomats in both US and Iran offered divergent approaches to the nuclear standoff. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today was working to set up a meeting in the next two weeks between senior US and Iranian officials in Baghdad. The US will be represented in the meeting by Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker. Iran is expected to be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, also said today that Iran’s talks with Europeans were moving forward.
Diplomacy or war? At this stage it seems that the US will wait for the diplomacy to run its course before attacking Iran.
Monday, May 7, 2007
The US-Saudi alliance may particularly prove critical amid mounting tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. A number of Middle East analysts believe Iran-Saudi struggle for influence in Iraq and Lebanon is rapidly deteriorating into a proxy war.
The Vice President also will meet with US military commanders in the Persian Gulf and visit the troops stationed there. The US Navy announced today that it will keep two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf amid tensions with Iran.
An aide to Cheney told reporters in Washington today that the US and the Europeans also are considering a third UN Security Council resolution against Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said today that suspension is not in Iran’s agenda. Mottaki was referring to a proposal put forward by Switzerland for simultaneous suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and of UN sanctions.
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Basijis are said to number more than 8 million across the country. They were mobilized during the 2005 presidential elections and reportedly tipped the results in favor of Ahmadinejad. The Revolutionary Guards are 500,000 strong, heavily armed with their own ground, air and naval forces. The Guards also run their own web of businesses, with their own ports and airports, and have emerged as one of the leading economic forces in the country.
Aside from the growing influence of the Guards and the Basijis in the current government, Ahmadinejad has brought in a number of intelligence officials with fundamentalist political tendencies into his cabinet and his inner circle. The latest appointment is that of Ruhollah Hosseinian as his advisor on security affairs. Hosseinian is linked to the infamous serial murders when a number of political activists and intellectuals were killed by intelligence agents closely associated with him.
Creating a police state atmosphere might be the easiest way governments believe they can handle the problems facing them. Ahmadinejad might be the latest in a long line of leaders to follow the path. The growth of popular movements in recent months, women, students, teachers and workers, coupled with a general anxiety across the country because of an unbearable inflation and the talks of war is undermining the authority of the government. Using police state tactics will undoubtedly make the movements grow more rapidly and will make the people even unhappier. Ahmadinejad might be the latest in a long line of leaders to make such fatal mistake.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Pakistan’s The News today reported on the deal which was revealed in a study just published by International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think-tank, titled “Nuclear Black Market: the AQ Khan Network.”
According to the report, under pressure from the US Ambassador to Pakistan Robert Oakley, then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tells Hashemi Rafsanjani that the deal could not be implemented because it could not get the approval of the parliament and the president.
The News reports that even after Sharif’s intervention to stop the deal, the Pakistani chief nuclear scientist AQ Khan continues his close relations with the Iranians, which had begun in 1987 and by 1993 he delivers the centrifuge design and other nuclear technology to Iran. The study alleges that all along AQ Khan was being protected by persons at the highest levels of the Pakistani government for his Iranian deals, although no evidence has emerged that a clear directive was given to him to provide nuclear technology to Iran.
In the end, the Iranians would buy the technology from AQ Khan at a much lower price than the original $6 Billion price tag.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
The US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed the brief axchange of words between Mottaki and Rice. Although the encounter lacked any political substance, it was still a reflection of a willingness on the part of both countries to engage in some form of dialogue.
Yesterday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a gathering in Sirjan that the Iranian people are “the men of dialogue” and welcome fair talks. Referring to the US, Ahmadinejad said if they step forward honestly, then Iran will enter the talks honestly.
On a related issue, Britain warned that the UN Security Council will need to take “further action” if Iran fails to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. The warning came at the end of a meeting of 5+1 countries that was held in London yesterday. AFP quoted the British officials that there was a “strong agreement” among the six powers on how to deal with Iran if it does not abide by the latest UN resolution. They did not give any details on such agreement.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Baztab.com became the latest media outlet to be closed or filtered by the Islamic Republic. Baztab reports that it has been subjected to severe filtering inside
Media played a decisive role in bringing about the reform period of 1997-2005. A group of Ministry of Intelligence agents, led by Saeed Emami, started a violent campaign against pro-democracy and reformist journalists during the period which led to the murder of dozens of journalists and writers.
Today, with the government controlled by anti-reformists, the pressure is exerted by officially sanctioned methods. Media outlets and their editors regularly receive written official notices from the Ministry of Islamic Guidance, the Ministry of Intelligence and the National Security Council on what not to cover (although the practice is explicitly illegal under the country’s press laws). They dictate their views and, reportedly, even words to the press. The Iranian media today is under the most severe control by numerous official agencies than ever before.
It such alarming atmosphere, it is particularly heartening that the former Mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbaschi, will be starting a new daily, hammihan. Mohammad Ghoochani, the editor-in-chief of Shargh, will be the chief editor at hammihan. We congratulate them both and wish them the best in their critically important project.
Larijani told reporters in Najaf that a joint committee from both countries will identify the projects to be financed by Iran.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami,
The campaign against bad hijab is officially called the campaign against “social disorder,” an Orwellian term created by the fundamentalists and conservatives to reign in the personal freedoms gained by women and the youths in the past decade. The attempts in Talibanization of Iranian society, however, might be the undoing of the country’s social order. 21st Century