Tuesday, July 31, 2007

News from Iran

The growing tensions between the US and Iran and the regional security issues dominated the coverage in the Iranian media. The influential former president Hashemi Rafsanjani warned the nation that “exceptional conditions” exists for the country, with the US, the UK and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf uniting against Iran. The influential conservative daily Keyhan characterized US-Iran talks as “fruitless” and the commander of the revolutionary guards called upon the Moslems to increase their vigilance against the US. The Iranian foreign minister denounced US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states as “mercenary in nature.” On the nuclear front, President Ahmadinejad said that accepting Iran’s uranium enrichment program is the only way to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran.

US-Iran Relations

· Iran’s influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned the nation that “exceptional conditions” exists for the country; Rafsanjani said that the common stance adopted by the US president and the British prime minister against Iran during their recent meeting and the visits by the US state and defense secretaries to the region to “strengthen the regional countries against Iran” are manifestations of these “exceptional conditions” in the country; Rafsanjani added that during his presidency friendly relationships with the Arab state of the Persian Gulf were established and they were not uniting against Iran.
· Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said US has too many problems in Iraq to be able to attack Iran; Mottaki said 170,000 US soldiers in Iraq have been unable to guarantee neither their own safety nor the security of Iraq; Mottaki dismissed any future UN sanction against Iran and said they would not change Iran’s mind to continue its nuclear program.
· Iran’s secretary of supreme national security council Ali Larijani said Iran is in no need for US security guarantees; Larijani said Iran will exercise its rights, including its nuclear rights, regardless if US likes it or not; he added the US does not want Iranians to have the nuclear technology; Larijani chided the US for making a strategic mistake on stopping Iran’s nuclear program because Iran has already acquired the nuclear technology.
· The influential conservative daily Keyhan called the recent negotiations between Iran and US on Iraqi security as “fruitless”; the editorial on 25 July characterized the US as “obstructionist” and “irresponsible”; sensible talks do not get through to the occupiers of Iraq, the editorial concluded.

Iran Nuclear Program

· Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said accepting Iran’s legal rights to enrich uranium is the only solution to the nuclear standoff; They [the West] should come and say this is your right, Ahmadinejad added; he said that security council resolutions against Iran over its nuclear program are illegal; he said the court of public opinion in the world is in favor of Iran and the public opinion has the final say on the world stage today.
· Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said that enriching uranium is like “breathing” for Iran; Larijani said Iran will not halt the spinning centrifuges at Natanz enrichment plant.
· Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said new sanctions against Iran would mean “confrontation” with Iran; Mottaki said that Iran would be tempted to do “illegal” things if a new round of sanctions is imposed on the country;
· The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited heavy-water reactor under construction at Arak; the inspection took place on 30 July and lasted five hours.
· Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran has no debts to Russia for the construction of Bushehr nuclear reactor; he rejected Russian claims that Iran has failed to fulfill its financial commitments on Bushehr project; Hosseini added that it would be in the interest of Russia not to waste time and to speed up the plant completion.

Domestic Storylines

· Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran is in the process of building satellites; he said Iran must have its own satellite in the orbit; “We have to build it. We are doing it right now,” Ahmadinejad said.
· President Ahmadinejad said that fuel consumption in the country was much more than the global average and rationing gasoline was a necessity; he said that gasoline rationing was favored by Majlis (the parliament) and the government decided to implement it; he said the rationing program has resulted in a drop in gasoline consumption of 23 million liter (6 million gallon) per day; the program limits the gasoline consumption to slightly less than a gallon per car per day.
· President Ahmadinejad said he has not yet thought about running for re-election; responding to a reporter’s question on the unpopularity of the government’s gasoline rationing program and the risks to his re-election chances, Ahmadinejad said what he says and what he does is not meant to win votes.
· Iranian judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said two Iranian Kurdish journalists have been sentenced to death for being "enemies of God"; Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar were sentenced to death on July 16 by a revolutionary court in Marivan, in Iran's northeastern Kordestan province.

Regional Storylines

· Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki denounced US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf as “mercenary” in nature; Mottaki said that the sales is to help US defense contractors from going bankrupt; Mottaki said “the White House politicians are major stakeholders in big arms companies trying to abuse their remaining months in office to whip up a delusional atmosphere, bring big profits to those arms companies and present the outcome as a move to enhance regional stability and security”; Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Mustafa Najar also accused the US of seeking to “spark an arms race in a bid to keep their giant weapon production companies away from the danger of bankruptcy.”
· The Commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC) Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi said Muslims should increase their vigilance against the US; Gen. Safavi said Iraq is becoming another Vietnam for the US.
· Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said if the US abides by the outcome of US-Iran talks on Iraq and fulfills its commitments, it must help bolster the Maleki government; Hosseini expressed concerned over recent development to weaken the Iraqi government and pledged Iran’s full support for Maleki.
· Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini denied published reports that Iran is promoting violence in Basra; UK Consul in Basra, Richard Jones had accused Iran of promoting violence to hinder UK plan to hand in the city’s security to the Iraqis.
· Iranian speaker of parliament, Gholam Haddad Adel, said the victory of Hezbollah over Israel belongs to the entire Moslem world; Adel wished Hezbollah “greater victories in future fight against Zionism.”
· Iran’s influential conservative daily Keyhan, commenting on the recent elections results in Turkey, wrote that Iran’s own Islamic revolution inspired the wave of Islamism in Turkey and in the entire region; Keyhan added that the “green revolution” in the Middle East is superseding the Western-inspired velvet revolutions that took place elsewhere; the reformist daily Aftab Yazd commenting on the same election results criticized Keyhan and the government for not understanding that the victory by Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not represent victory of Islamism, Aftab Yazd wrote that AKP is committed to the country’s “general secular framework” and although their leaders are personally practicing Moslems but they have accepted the secular nature of the Turkish state.

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