Tuesday, August 28, 2007

News from Iran

The worsening Iran-US relations dominated the coverage in the Iranian media. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that the US and its allies were planning to attack Iran, even setting the hour of the attack. Ahmadinejad claimed that the US, bugged in Iraq, is no longer planning to attack Iran. President Bush also today sounded stern warnings against Iran’s nuclear weapon development and its support of terrorist groups in Iraq. Adding to the growing tensions between the two countries, the US troops arrested two Iranian diplomats and six members of an Iranian delegation visiting Baghdad hours after President Bush's speech. In January, US troops detained five Iranian officials in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. The five also remain in US custody.

On the military front, Iran’s military industry unveiled a long-range 2000-pound guided bomb, named “Ghassed” (Messenger), designed for precision strikes against ground targets. During a ceremony announcing the news, the Iranian defense minister said that Ghassed will be used against those who would infiltrate Iran’s airspace or territory. The defense minister said Iran was ready to hit the enemy’s strategic targets and military bases. He also announced the manufacturing of a new 35-mm “Pasdar-e Aseman” (Sky Guard) anti-aircraft gun and a new destroyer named “Mouj” (Wave). Earlier in the month, Iran had announced the manufacturing of its second jet fighter plane, named “Azarakhsh” (Lihjtening). The minister, Brig. Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, told reporters that Iran has “the highest level of air, ground and sea strength and readiness” (IRNA, 23 August).

On domestic front, a report in the moderate newspaper Kargozaran warned against the possibility of meddling in the upcoming Majlis election by military personnel, a code name for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). President Ahmadinejad named a top ranking IRGC officer to the post of deputy interior minister in charge of the elections. Earlier in the week, the Iranian chief of staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firuzabadi had criticized moderate and reformist politicians who attack Ahmadinejad’s government. Iran's constitution prohibits the armed forces from intervention in political matters.

On the regional issues, the Iranian government spokesman denied that Iran is shelling Iraqi Kurdistan villages. The Kurdish parliament condemned Iran’s shelling of the Haji Umran district near Kurdish-Iranian border.

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