Saturday, September 29, 2007
Le Canard Enchaine is an old Paris daily best known for its satire but also famous for publishing leaks from highly-placed sources inside the French government. The paper carried the story on its Wednesday edition.
The Russians have also advised the Iranians that the attack will start between the end of Ramadan (12 October) and the beginning of 2008.
On 6 September, Israeli jets supported by US radar and fighter planes, flew across Syria to destroy targets near Turkey. The surprising element of the air strike was the ability of Israeli and US jets to enter deep into Syria without setting off Russian-built radar system in place in the country. The raid was also regarded by Iran analysts as a possible test of air path to Iran. (Please see related posting in this blog- 28 September: IRGC Defector Role in Israeli Air Strike on Syria, and 8 September: Israeli Jets Reportedly Practicing Attack on Iran).
Newsweek reported last week that Vice President Cheney’s office was pushing Israel for such limited strike in order to provoke Tehran into lashing out. The US military would then respond to the Iranian moves. (Please see the posting in this blog – 23 September: Planning an Attack on Iran).
The French intelligence also see continued Russian military support for Iran. The Kremlin has delivered to Tehran modern S-300 Antey and TOR M1 anti-aircraft missiles, batteries of M82 Moskit anti-ship missiles, helicopters, and small patrol boats to distrupt navigation on Persian Gulf.
Friday, September 28, 2007
MKO reports that the new site is 5 kilometer (3 miles) south of Natanz, located under Siah Kooh mountains. The report says the site includes two tunnels with entrances 6 meters (20 feet) in diameter and a third tunnel that links the facility to Natanz.
The very existence of Natanz uranium enrichment plant was also disclosed by MKO in 2002.
MKO says that the construction of the new nuclear site began in late 2006 and it is believed to be completed within six months.
Ali Larijani, the country’s chief nuclear negotiator, has denied the accusation that there is a secret nuclear site in Iran. Javad Vaidi, Larijani’s deputy, reported Larijani’s denial in a statement issued in Tehran.
If the report turns out to be accurate, it will put Iran in an awkward situation and would certainly hasten any possible military action against the country’s nuclear sites.
US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany will wait for two reports by IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana before putting to vote the resolution for a third round of UN sanctions on Iran.
Postponing the vote until November was the result of Russian and Chinese insistence to give IAEA more time to do its work in Iran.
“Shame on you, you disgraced lot. May you be damned!” said Jannati, addressing the US.
On Wednesday, the US Senate by a vote of 76-22 approved the Kyl-Liberman amendment designating the IRGS as a foreign terrorist organization. The House of Representatives had a day earlier approved a similar measure designating IRGC as terrorists.
The US government is soon expected to designate IRGC or its Quds Force as a terrorist organization.
Another Kuwaiti paper, Al Watan, quoted diplomatic sources in Europe as saying that US jets circled above the Israeli fighters and gave them aerial cover during the operation.
Reports circulating in Washington indicate that the Israeli raid on Syrian target destroyed advanced weapon facilities. The former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, has also said that the raid targeted either a joint nuclear or missile facility with North Korea.
The surprising element of the air strike was the ability of Israeli Air Force jets to enter deep into Syria without setting off Russian-built radar systems in place in the country.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I believe Lee Bollinger presented one of the most methodical indictments against the Islamic Republic in recent memory. Let’s review his remarks.
First, he challenged Ahmadinejad on the brutal crackdown on journalists, human rights advocates and scholars in the Islamic Republic. Bollinger, himself a legal scholar specializing in freedom of speech, made these references on a day when Iran closed down the country’s most popular news website, Baztab. Last August, the pro-reform and largest-circulation daily in Iran, Shargh, was closed down. Many journalists and human rights advocates are being held in the notorious Section 209 of Evin prison.
Bollinger directly asked Ahmadinejad why women, members of the Baha’i faith, homosexuals and academics have become targets of persecution in Iran. This is a fair question, for which Ahmadinejad did not offer any answers.
Second, Bollinger challenged Ahmadinejad on the denial of the Holocaust and his calls for the destruction of Israel. In his response, Ahmadinejad proved him right. The denial of the Holocaust by a sitting president of the country is an embarrassment for all Iranians. The call for destruction of Israel, by Ahmadinejad and many other leaders of the Islamic Republic has helped isolate Iran more than any other issues in the world arena.
Bollinger’s challenge was fair. It is high time for all Iranians to distance themselves from the inhumane and uncivilized policies regarding the Holocaust and Israel’s existence.
Third, Bollinger brought up the issue of Islamic Republic’s funding of terrorism. The Iranian government itself openly supports Muqtada Al Sadr and Iraqi Shia militias, the Hamas and the Hezbollah. In fact the leaders of these groups are among the most frequent visitors to Tehran. Ahmadinejad again chose to ignore the question.
Fourth, Bollinger challenged Iran on its proxy war with the US in Iraq. This is a fair question. In the past couple of weeks, published reports point to arms supplies from Iran into Iraq, including 240mm rockets and deadly roadside bombs, that are meant to kill and injure American and coalition soldiers. The Iranian government has yet to challenge the evidence or deny charges. Ahmadinejad had an opportunity at Columbia to do so, but he ignored the question.
Finally, Bollinger challenged the Iranian president on the nuclear issue. Iran does not have a single nuclear power plant in operation, yet it has accelerated its uranium enrichment program. It is fair to ask why Iran needs so much enriched uranium if it could not use it as fuel in any power plants. Why the hurry to enrich uranium then? (We know that enriched uranium could also be used in nuclear weapons.) As much as Ahmadinejad likes to frame the issue as a “national right” of the country to keep enriching uranium, it is as fair to ask for what purpose.
Bollinger gave Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic more than they had bargained for. They wanted to show that the intellectual community in the US welcomes them as much as the White House shuns away from them. Instead Bollinger presented a most systematic indictment of the Islamic Republic. Ahmadinejad needs to address all these issues clearly and quickly.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the UN General Assembly this afternoon that Iran’s nuclear program is a “closed” matter.
"I officially announce that in our opinion the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary Agency matter," Ahmadinejad said.
Ahmadinejad assailed UN Security Council for ignoring Iran’s nuclear rights. He thanked IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei for his attempts to resolve the nuclear standoff.
Ahmadinejad reserved his harshest remarks, however, for Israel and the West.
"For more than 60 years, the Palestinians have been under occupation by the illegal Zionist regime," Ahmadinejad said. Palestine will be freed and Zionism will disappear, he added.
He attacked the “arrogant powers” in the West and invited their leaders to seek God and goodness.
The US delegation was absent during the speech.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy told UN General Assembly today that it would be unacceptable for the Islamic Republic to get hold of nuclear bomb.
“Allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons would mean an unacceptable risk for regional and world stability,” Sarkozy said.
Sarkozy's comments came just hours before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was due to address the UN. The speech by the French president was received with loud applause from the rest of the assembly.
- Iran is fighting a proxy war against the Iraqi and coalition forces in Iraq.
- It is a vital national interest of the US to prevent Iran from turning Iraq's Shiite militias into a Hezbollah-like force.
- The US should combat, contain and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power.
- Designating Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
The Kyl-Lieberman, if it passes the Senate, will authorize the administration to move militarily against IRGC and other Iranian targets.
“It is a regime that causes us a good deal of concern,” Downer, who was in New York to attend the UN climate change summit, told ABC radio.
Downer accused the Islamic Republic of providing military equipment to Iraqi militias. He voiced concern over Iran’s role in Afghanistan. He also assailed Iran for defying the UN Security Council over its nuclear program.
“Iran is a very significant problem in terms of peace in the Middle East that is between the Israelis and the Palestinians through its support for Hamas. It supports Hezbollah which is also an extremist organization,” Downer added.
Monday, September 24, 2007
During the parade in Tehran last Saturday, a medium-range ballistic missile, named Ghadr-1, and its launcher were put on display. The new missile reportedly has a range 500 kilometers more than Shahab-3.
Ghadr-1 was displayed along with older missiles such as Zalzal-3, Fateh-110, Shahab-1 and Shahab-3. The missiles are in the possession of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC). IRGC also displayed its tanks, missile-carrying carriers and artillery units.
The new IRGC commander, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said after the parade,“You have seen the missiles. Just pull the trigger and shoot." Jafari added, "Our message to the enemies is: Do not do it. They will regret it, as they are regretting it in Iraq."
The new jetfighter, Saegheh, was flown during the parade. Iran’s air force also deploys two other domestic fighters: Azarakhsh and Tazarv, a training jet.
In related developments, a published report in the US indicated that the US Navy has been alerted for new deployment to the Persian Gulf (Time, Sunday 23 September), and a retired US Air Force officer with experience at the Pentagon told CNN today that US Special Operations forces are already operating inside Iran and the “second phase of overt military action” will soon follow. Colonel Sam Gardiner told Wolf Blitzer that the action plan has been approved by the Pentagon and is now at the White House.
Columbia University appointed Kian Tajbakhsh, its alumni and the Iranian-American scholar freed on bail last week in Tehran, as a Visiting Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning.
President Lee Bollinger of Columbia announced the news during his introductory remarks before Iran's President Ahmadinejad took the podium to address the university’s students and faculty earlier this afternoon. Bollinger challenged Ahmadinejad to let Tajbakhsh leave the country to assume his professorship at the university.
Dr. Tajbakhsh holds a PhD degree in Urban Planning from Columbia. He was imprisoned last May on charges of inciting a velvet revolution in Iran.
In his welcoming remarks, Columbia’s President Lee Bollinger told Ahmadinejad that he presents “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.” Bollinger offered a sharply-worded indictment against Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic.
Bollinger took Ahmadinejad to task over Iran's human-rights record and foreign policy, and Ahmadinejad's statements denying the Holocaust and calling for the disappearance of Israel. In response, Ahmadinejad protested against what he called “insults” by the University president.
During the speech, he reiterated his view that Palestinians were punished because of the Holocaust and had to give up their land to accommodate the state of Israel. Ahmadinejad called for a referendum by all Palestinians to determine the future of the area. He refused to directly answer repeated questions whether he was calling for the elimination of Israel.
Starting this morning, the university's Department of Public Safety, the New York Police Department and the US Secret Service had put into effect strict security measures at University's campus and surrounding streets.
Earlier in the day, Ahmadinejad told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington during a satellite interview that Iran would not launch any attack on Israel. He also reiterated his belief that the US is not preparing an attack on Iran. In the interview, Ahmadinejad struck a soothing tone. He said Iranian foreign policy was based on humanitarian concerns and seeking justice.
Ahmadinejad arrived in New York on Sunday. He will attend the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
In an appearance at CBS program "60 Minutes" aired on Sunday evening, Ahmadinejad was asked whether Iran's goal was to obtain a nuclear bomb. Ahmadinejad said that the answer was a "firm no." He added that Iran doesn’t need the bomb, “What need do we have for a bomb?"
Ahmadinehad also assured the American audience that Iran was not heading for war with the United States. Asked whether he was denying that Iran supplied weapons to militants in Iraq, he avoided a clear answer. "It's very clear the situation. The insecurity in Iraq is detrimental to our interests," he said.
Ahmadinejad is to visit Latin American allies Bolivia and Venezuela after his trip to the United Nations.
At least four border gates were closed starting Sunday night and one remained open Monday, Sulaimaniyah Governor Dana Ahmed Majeed told The Associated Press. Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency reported that all five border points had been closed to protest the detention of Farhadi.
Iran’s most popular news website, Baztab, was closed down by the government. The judiciary police sealed off Baztab offices late on Wednesday. Iran’s judiciary denied an appeal by Baztab management to reverse the government’s order and the news website announced the closure on Sunday.
Baztab was critical of Ahmadinejad’s administration. The government has been filtering the site since April. Prior to filtering, the site had some 250,000 readers daily. The number dropped to 140,000 per day after the filtering, and now the site is shut down.
Baztab was founded by a former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC), retired Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaie, who is currently the executive secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, a body charged with resolving legislative disputes and chaired by former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Rafsanjani is currently regarded as the leader of loyal opposition. Rezaie, along with Ayatollah Karubi, a former Majlis speakers, and former president Ayatollah Khatami, are considered as part of Rafsanjani’s camp and are expected to challenge Ahmadinejad and the radical fundamentalists during the upcoming Majlis elections (March 2008) and the 2009 presidential elections.
Iran analysts expect the current onslaught on opposition press to continue until the Majlis elections. The moderates and the reformists are expected to win, if the elections are not rigged. Ahmadinejad’s administration will do everything it can to prevent such defeat.
Baztab closure comes after Shargh, a pro-reform and the most popular newspaper in Iran, was closed down in August.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
In a related development, the US weekly magazine Newsweek today quoted an aid to Vice President Dick Cheney as saying that the Vice President has been considering the idea of pushing Israel for a limited missile attack on Iranian nuclear sites “in order to provoke Tehran into lashing out.”
An Iranian military response to the Israeli attack would then give the US the pretext to launch a strike on Iran.
In Iran, the commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC) said Iran would “pull the trigger” if attacked. During a military parade in Tehran on Saturday, the IRGC showed its medium-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israeli targets and US military installations in the region.
"You have seen the missiles. Just pull the trigger and shoot," IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said after the parade.
Friday, September 21, 2007
The US military has repeatedly made same accusations against the IRGC in Iraq. This is, however, the first time that such senior US military commander, whose area of responsibility covers Iran and its neighbors, has accused the IRGC of direct involvement in the Afghan conflict.
Afghanistan has seen a record level of fighting this year. More than 4,400 people have died in insurgency-related violence around the country (AP).
The French president said that the international community should continue working to convince Iran to renounce its ambitions just as it did with North Korea and Libya, through discussions, dialogue and sanctions. "If the current sanctions are not effective, let us go for tougher sanctions," Sarkozy said.
In a related development, the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner today told Iran’s nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani that his remarks about impending war with Iran were taken out of context. Kouchner told Larijani that he was in favor of taking measures to prevent an armed conflict taking place.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The Iranian officials have identified the individual as Mr. Farhadi, an economic expert in the office of the governor general of Kermanshah. Farhadi, according to Iranian officials, was a member of an Iranian trade delegation visiting the Iraqi Kurdish town. (Fars News Agency).
A Pentagon spokesman said the arrest is a further proof that the Iranians have not ceased their arms smuggling operations in Iraq. It is expected that the white House will soon announce the designation of the Quds Force as a terrorist organization.
The planes will officially join the air force fleet on Saturday 22 September, Iran’s “Army Day.”
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The reactions from Iran’s military and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC) were the opposite. In response to the French warning, the IRGC announced that it will hit enemy targets within 2,000 kilometers by its Shahab-3 missiles if attacked. A group linked to the guards reported that IRGC has aimed six-hundred Shahab-3 missiles at US military installations in the region and at Israeli targets. The deputy commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) also boasted that Iran plans retaliatory air strikes on Israel if attacked. The Iranian defense minister, an IRGC general, said Iran is ready to give various responses to any attack.
The political leadership in Iran has fatefully and continuously told its citizens that an attack on Iran by the US and its allies is impossible and will not happen. They have offered a wide range of reasoning, including the belief that the US is too much bogged down in Iraq, that the US is genuinely afraid of Iran’s response to such attack, that the international pressure and internal political considerations would not allow President Bush to give the go ahead, and last but not least, Ahmadinejad’s mathematical calculus.
At its face, this might seem a tactical move by the leadership to alleviate any fears of attack on the part of population. But this could be a risky move. The leadership needs the popular support if it has any chance of confronting the US. Leaving them in a state of denial on the possibility of any military confrontation in the future, however remote, runs against the Islamic Republic’s own tendency to mobilize the population over foreign enemies and possibilities of war.
The consistency in Khamenei and Ahmadinejad denials of a military confrontation with the US had been compared in the past by this analyst to a “Saddam Syndrome.” They, however, have gone a step further. They are not saying that they would defeat any aggression against Iran; they are saying the chance of a confrontation is zero, period. It seems as though that they have reached their certainty through some form of Estekhareh (asking questions of God and finding the answer in Quran).
The reaction from the military and the revolutionary guards is indeed the opposite. IRGC generals have made numerous interviews in the past few days with Iranian news agencies and leading newspapers warning of a possible attack by the US and Israel. Certain amount of exaggeration and self-aggrandizement notwithstanding, IRGC statements tell a story of real apprehension. It is as though they are telling the people not to listen to the politicians and be prepared for war.
The difference in approach between the political leadership and IRGC might also manifest a more fundamental development in the Iranian politics. The IRGC, already the strongest armed organization in the country and one of the biggest direct players in the Iranian economy, might be vying for political leadership as well in case of an emergency triggered by a military attack on Iran.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The Warning, French Style
· French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the world should prepare for war over Iran’s nuclear program; referring to Iran’s nuclear program, Kouchner said the world should “prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.”
· The French prime Minister Francois Fillon said that the tensions with Iran are “extreme”; Fillon insisted, however, that there was still room for diplomacy.
· Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran does not take seriously a warning from the French foreign minister that the world should prepare for war with Iran over its nuclear program; he said the French foreign minister’s comments were for media consumption and his real position on the subject are different from what he said.
· Iran’s Under-Secretary of Supreme National Council, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, said Iran expects that the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner review his stand against Iran; Rahmani Fazli said Kouchner’s allegations against Iran’s nuclear program are unacceptable; he said that stirring up sentiments would not lead to any solutions.
· IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei warned against increasing hype to start a war with Iran; ElBaradei said he saw no clear and present danger, and the talk of war was counter-productive.
· China said it was opposed to threats of force in world politics; Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China believes diplomatic negotiation is the best way of resolving issues; the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman was reacting to French foreign minister’s warning that the world should be prepared to go to war with Iran over its nuclear program.
· Russia cautioned against the use of force against Iran over its nuclear program; Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he was concerned about the prospect of military action; Lavrov was speaking to reporters after a meeting with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner who had earlier issued the warning of a military attack on Iran.
· German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the German Government was only considering a diplomatic solution of the conflict with Iran; Wilhelm added that at the moment, no other option is being discussed.
Developments on the Military Front
· Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC) Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hassan Koussechi said Iran has the capacity to hit US military targets in the region; Gen. Koussechi said Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles have a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles); the IRGC commander for the Western regions of Iran said the Americans who are all around Iran are our targets.
· Assar Iran, a group closely identified with IRGC, announced that the IRGC has 600 Shahab-3 missiles aimed at US military installations in the region and at Israeli targets; Iran will shoot at Israel 600 missiles if it is attacked, the website was quoted as saying; Assar Iran reports that dozens of US military installations throughout Iraq have also been targeted.
· Israeli air strike against a site in northern Syria has triggered speculation over its motives; there are published reports indicating the sortie was a dry run for a US-Israeli attack on Syria and Iran; the Arab League called the incursion “unacceptable.”
· Islamic Republic of Iran air Force (IRIAF) flew two of its newly-built “Saegheh” jet fighter; Saegheh is a home-made jet fighter; IRIAF commander, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Mighani, said Iran will mass produce the fighter in the coming months; Gen. Mighani also denied published reports that Iran was purchasing 250 Sukhoi-30 jetfighters from Russia.
· NATO forces reported that Iranian arms shipment destined for the Taliban was intercepted 6 September in Afghanistan; the officials of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have told reporters that the intercepted shipment included armor-piercing bombs which have been especially deadly when used as roadside bombs against foreign troops in Iraq.
US – Iran Relations
· Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared he was certain that one day President Bush and senior American officials will be tried in an international court for “the tragedies they have created in Iraq”; Khamenei added that Americans will have to answer for why they don't end occupation of Iraq and why waves of terrorism and insurgency have overwhelmed the country during their occupation.
· Iranian Presdident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed holding a public debate with President Bush; Ahmadinejad, who will attend the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York on 23 September, said his proposal is for debating international questions at the UN General Assembly in order to solve them; he also asked for a “global referendum” to who out of Iran and the United States had the better ideas.
· Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad-Ali Hosseini, said Iran would prefer a gradual withdrawal of the US forces in Iraq; Hosseini added that the withdrawal should take place in such a way as to avert a sharp drop of security and stability in Iraq.
Media sources close to IRGC have reported that IRGC has some 600 Shahab-3 missiles aimed at US military installations in the region and Israeli targets. The Israeli officials have discounted the claim as propaganda to frighten the world away from thinking about possible military action against Iran.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The Iranian government closely controls the Internet access. The officials said this afternoon that blocking of Google was by accident.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei today warned against increasing hype to start a war with Iran. He said he saw no clear and present danger, and the talk of war was counter-productive.
The warnings by the French came amid the insistence by the Iranian leadership that the US can not launch another war in the region. In the meantime, Iran continues its uranium enrichment program and supplying arms to the militias in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is not clear how the Iranian leadership knows for certain that the country will not be attacked militarily. I am starting to suspect that such certainty in the face of all developments pointing to the growing danger of a military conflict must be based on supernatural knowledge stemming from Estekhareh (asking questions of God and finding the answer in Quran) and Khabnama (the answer revealed in a dream).
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The show is based on a true story of diplomats in Iranian Embassy in Paris during the war who helped Jews escape the Fascists and the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is rarely mentioned in state media in Iran and school textbooks don't discuss it. The Iranian president has questioned whether the Holocaust even took place. But the miniseries could probably not be shown on state television without the expressed approval of the office of the supreme leader.
The miniseries also portrays women in 1940s Paris without Islamic Hijab, breaking another taboo in the shows produced in Iran. The series began in April and is shown on Monday nights.
The officials of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has told The Post that the intercepted shipment included armor-piercing bombs known as explosively formed projectiles which have been especially deadly when used as roadside bombs against foreign troops in Iraq.
The Iranians are indeed playing a dangerous game. They are arming the Taliban to hurt the Americans. The direct involvement against the US armed forces in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, however, can only accelerate a US military attack on Iran.
Khamenei and Ahmadinejad seem to be convinced that the US will not attack Iran under any circumstances, even if they supply deadly weapons to the Iraqi militias or to the Taliban. This is a dangerous and irresponsible thinking. All political pressures in Washington to wind down the war in Iraq notwithstanding, the Iranian supply of arms to the enemies of the US in order to kill the American military personnel will bring about an armed response from the US in which Iran could only loose.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The Iranian government has approved a request by Professor Richard Frye, the preeminent scholar and lover of Iran, to be buried on the bank of Zayandeh Rood in Isfahan. Richard Fryer, 87, wrote the following in his request:
“I, who have spent all my life on studying and teaching the glorious culture of ancient and Islamic Iran, request that my body be buried next to Zayande Rood in the beautiful city of Isfahan, the place I have admired and loved all my life, hoping that this would make for close ties between the two great nations of Iran and America.”
Richard N. Frye is born in 1920. He is Agha Khan Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at Harvard University. He received his PhD in Asiatic history from Harvard in 1946. He founded the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard. He also served as the director of Asia Institute of Pahlavi University (now the University of Shiraz) from 1970 to 1975.
Frye has spent 60 years researching and writing history books about Iran. His famous book, Greater Iran, is Frye’s memoirs of these long years devoted to understanding Iran and its history. The prominent Iranian linguist Ali Akbar Dehkhoda famously gave Frye the title of “Irandoost” (Lover of Iran).
Several Americans have been buried in Iran in the past, including one who was celebrated as a national hero. Howard Conklin Baskerville, an American teacher, participated in Iran's 1906 Constitutional Revolution and was shot dead three years later trying to break a siege of Tabriz, where he was buried.
For all who love Iran and love to see an enduring friendship between the Iranian and American people, Frye’s touching request represents a hope in future beyond the present day difficulties. May he live for many more years to come.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Linking of Iran to the attack came hours before President Bush was to make a televised address to the American people on the situation in Iraq. The president is expected to identify Iran as a major threat to US forces in Iraq and as the main rationale to maintain significant troop level in the country for the long haul.
General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington that arms supplies from Iran, including the 240mm rockets (used in the attack on Camp Victory today), and other explosive devices contributed to a “sophistication of attacks” that would have been impossible without Iranian support. The general went on saying that “the evidence is very, very clear.” (AP).
General Petraeus was not talking about an analysis on Iran’s role in Iraq. He was taking about very clear “evidence.” This is a key phrase in building up the case against Iran.
The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said yesterday that improving security in Iraq now requires having American forces turn to other responsibilities including the territorial security of Iraq with regard to Iran. (NBC Today Show).
The US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker echoed the sentiment by telling The Washington Post today that Iran is now following a “fairly aggressive strategy” on the ground in Iraq.
The number of statements made by the high ranking military and diplomatic officials against Iran in the past 24 hours combined with an expected harsh and serious statement on Iran by President Bush tonight point to a possible military conflict between the two countries in the near future.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Why the rush to enrich uranium then? IAEA chief Elbaradei, who lately has been defending Iran’s new approach, today reiterated his call for a double time-out of Iran’s enrichment program and UN sanctions against the country. The Iranian leadership, including Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, has, however, rejected all proposals to suspend uranium enrichment.
With their recent statements on nuclear weapons and their pledge that Iran is not seeking to build the bomb, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have cornered themselves on the enrichment issue. Let’s suppose the purpose of enrichment is not to make the bomb. We know that the country does not have an operating nuclear reactor, and will not have one for at least another year (for which the Russians will provide nuclear fuel when and if it is built). Then what is with the rush to enrich uranium? Why the rush especially when the country is being isolated in the international arena and it is at a heightened risk of being attacked by the US or Israel or both?
Either Iran’s leaders have delivered statements contrary to Iran’s capabilities and/or intentions, or the country’s leadership is suffering from what I call a Saddam Syndrome. You exaggerate your capabilities to the point of your collapse. Iran is under immense pressure form IAEA chief as well as Russia, China and EU to suspend enrichment now. They can suspend now, and resume activities in a year from now if the reactor is ready and Russia refuses fuel delivery. It does not make sense otherwise.
Why risk everything to produce a fuel that can not be used? The existence of an advanced nuclear weapon program might be the answer.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Iran’s Nuclear Program
· Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that the country has no plans to build a nuclear bomb; speaking to the commanders and the officers of Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC), Khamenei said “Iran has no atomic bomb”; he added that Iran “has no plans to build the deadly weapon.”
· Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei pledged that Iran would not give in to Western pressure over its nuclear program; Khamenei said that Iran would defeat its “drunken and arrogant” opponents.
· President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would not negotiate with anyone over its nuclear program; Ahmadinejad warned the countriy’s “enemies” that “Iran is not about to retreat”; Ahmadinejad also called the country a “nuclear Iran.”
· IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei walked out of an IAEA meeting to protest EU’s harsh language describing his recent agreement with Iran over its nuclear program; ElBaradei’s agreement with Iran established a timetable for Iran to answer all outstanding questions regarding its nuclear program; Iranian officials had praised IAEA for its ‘correct” approach to the nuclear standoff; the Europeans warn that the agreement with Iran will give the country time to continue enriching uranium.
· IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei, addressing the agency’s board of governors, thanked Iran for taking a step in the right direction in agreeing to a timeline to clarify outstanding questions; the IAEA chief added that Iran must go beyond the limited UN plan for transparency and allows wider-ranging inspections; ElBaradei also called on Iran to suspend it uranium enrichment program as demanded by the UN Security Council.
· Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, told the state television network that it is impossible for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities; Larijani said even further UNSC sanctions will not change Iran’s stance.
· The director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) Gholam Reza Aghazadeh said Iran has 15 tons of heavy water reserves in its nuclear facility in Arak; the IAEO chief said the heavy water reserves would be used for a 40 MW research reactor under construction in Arak.
· US military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said the US military is involved in a proxy war with the Iranians inside Iraq; he accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards units of training Iraqi militias to fight against the coalition forces and the Iraqi state.
· Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Mohammad Reza Bagheri, accused the US of backing PJAK, an Iranian Kurdish group considered terrorist by Iran; Bagheri said that PJAK has launched military attacks on Iranian military from its base inside Iraq; he called any US support of PJAK “dangerous”; Bagheri warned Iraq that if such attacks continues, Iran might be forced to send its military across border in pursuit of PJAK militants; he added that Iran expects the Iraqi government to do what it can to stop PJAK from using Iraqi territory to launch attacks against Iran.
· Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Mohammad Reza Bagheri, and Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, headed the Iranian delegation in the Baghdad conference on Iraqi security; Qomi ruled out any direct talks with the US representatives to the Baghdad conference.
· The US is establishing a military base in Iraq near the Iranian border.
· Iran’s new commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC), Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Aziz Jafari, said Iran will respond “harshly” if attacked; Gen. Jafari added that the IRGC was ready for an “elaborate plan to confront any US threats”; the IRGC commander said that Iran has “discovered” all the “weaknesses” of the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Leading Domestic Storylines
· Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned the Iranian media not to cover issues related to last week’s elections in the Assembly of Experts; the unusual warning came during Khamenei’s meeting with the members of the Assembly of Experts; Leading reformist newspapers had carried large pictures of Hashemi Rafsanjani who was chosen as the new speaker of the assembly; the reformist press called Rafsanjani’s selection a victory for the moderates and a defeat for Ahmadinejad and fundamentalists.
· Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani was chosen to head the assembly of Experts; the powerful body has responsibility over the country's supreme leader; Rafsanjani won over his rival, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, by a vote of 41-34; there are currently 85 voting members in the Assembly; the election for the speaker became necessary after former speaker, ayatollah Meshkini, passed away in July.
· Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled his scheduled appearance on state TV network on 11 September; Ahmadinejad was scheduled to discuss political and foreign policy issues; the president’s office did not offer the reason for the cancellation.
Leading Regional Storylines
· The Israeli jets broke the sound barrier flying over northern Syria before heading back to Israel; Israel's air force may have been testing an air path over Syria for future attack on Iran; the corridor of northern Syria over which the aircraft flew is the closest straight line from the Mediterranean Sea to Iran.
· Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki arrived in Moscow; Mottaki will discuss Iran’s nuclear program and bilateral issues with his Russian counterpart; a timetable for the construction of Bushehr nuclear plant, being built by Russian in the southern Iranian city, would be discussed.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, told the state television network that it is impossible for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities. Larijani said even further UNSC sanctions will not change Iran’s stance.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Iran analyst point out that this is the very first time that Ayatollah Khamenei has so emphatically and without any reservations has declared that Iran has no nuclear weapons. The venue in which Khamenei made the declaration is also significant. The IRGC is in charge of Iran’s nuclear program and would have controlled any nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that Iran would not negotiate with anyone over its nuclear program. IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as also saying, “Enemies of this nation should know that Iran is not about to retreat.” Ahmadinejad has also repeatedly called the country a “nuclear Iran.”
Khamenei had also pledged last Monday that Iran would not give in to Western pressure over its nuclear program and would defeat its “drunken and arrogant” opponents (Fars News Agency).
The Iranian leadership has cornered itself to an unsustainable position. Khamenei declares that the country has no atomic bomb and has no intentions to make one. Yet they are ready to isolate the country internationally and to risk a devastating armed conflict with the West over local production of enriched uranium. It does not make any sense. They do not have even a single nuclear reactor in operation, and they are not planning to make bombs either. Why the need to enrich uranium then?
If it is true that Iran does not intend to make any nuclear weapons, and knowing that the country will not have any operational nuclear reactor for at least another year, and knowing that Russia is contractually bound to provide the nuclear fuel needed for the sole reactor under construction, then all the bravados of the leaders in the Islamic Republic which is bringing the country to the verge of a loosing military conflict looks eerily like Saddam’s behavior.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
The corridor of northern Syria over which the aircraft allegedly flew is the closest straight line from the Mediterranean Sea to Iran. Military.com quotes the Israeli analyst Ephraim Inbar as saying that Israel wants to let the Americans to do the attacking. If left alone, Inbar says, the Israeli military is preparing to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. Flying over northern Syria could have been a part of that, he added.
The moderate and reformist newspapers carried large pictures of Rafsanjani in their coverage of the elections and generally interpreted the result as a victory of the moderates over fundamentalist supporters of President Ahmadinejad. The Supreme Leader called these papers “local media with bad manners.” Khamenie accused them of repeating the enemy’s propaganda. Iran analysts now wonder if having a “bad manner” is an offense in Iran, what the punishment is, does it also cover political figures, and how bad should one’s manner be to get into trouble.
Rafsanjani now heads the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council. Ahmadinejad is under attack for his miserable economic policies and the growing international isolation of Iran, and the cash flow from the high oil prices can not resolve all the problems. Hence Khamenei’s worries: a growing influence of Rafsanjani and the moderates and an ending to fundamentalists’ monopoly of power. Khamenei must believe that fundamentalists' problem if not covered by the press would disappear.
“Yes, I was quite skeptical. Less so over the years. They're desperate. Everything they touch is in ruins. They're even in danger of losing control over Middle Eastern oil -- to China, the topic that's rarely discussed but is on every planner or corporation exec's mind, if they're sane. Iran already has observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- from which the US was pointedly excluded. Chinese trade with Saudi Arabia, even military sales, is growing fast. With the Bush administration in danger of losing Shiite Iraq, where most of the oil is (and most Saudi oil in regions with a harshly oppressed Shiite population), they may be in real trouble.
Under these circumstances, they're unpredictable. They might go for broke, and hope they can salvage something from the wreckage. If they do bomb, I suspect it will be accompanied by a ground assault in Khuzestan, near the Gulf, where the oil is (and an Arab population -- there already is an Ahwazi liberation front, probably organized by the CIA, which the US can "defend" from the evil Persians), and then they can bomb the rest of the country to rubble. And show who's boss.”
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
The elections season began early in Iran. Ayatollah Meshkini who headed the all-powerful and secretive Assembly of Experts throughout the history of the Islamic Republic passed away in July and the ruling senior clerics were forced to make an unscheduled selection between the main warring factions in today’s Iran: moderate and reformist in one camp and the radical fundamentalists in another.
The traditional conservatives, the third camp once enjoying unlimited power in the country, but nowadays reduced to a club of aging, albeit influential, ayatollahs had to act as the kingmakers. The Assembly of Experts’ members are senior clerics with an average age higher than the number of ayatollahs eligible to vote in the Assembly: 85. They were faced with a real selection: Hashemi Rafsanjani, the maverick survivor of the Iranian politics, who these days has become a champion of the moderates and the reformists, and Jenatti, thrown into the ring at the eleventh hour after the radical fundamentalists realized that their original candidate, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, the spiritual guru of President Ahmadinejad, would not get the support of the assembly.
41 of the ayatollahs supported Rafsanjani, 35 supported Jenatti. In the larger scheme of things, the result was immediately translated to a victory for the moderates and reformists, headed by Rafsanjani, and a defeat for radical fundamentalists headed by Ahmadinejad: Rafsanjani 1 – Ahmadinejad 0. Two important matches, however, are yet to be played: the March 2008 parliamentary elections and the May 2009 presidential elections.
The two camps will be at war contesting both. The Assembly of Experts victory should not be generalized as a sure sign of victory for the moderates in those upcoming elections. The assembly was loaded with ayatollahs whose very secure positions in the Iranian society combined with their very advanced age scares them of the politics of the radical fundamentalists constantly after creating tensions, conflicts and wars. These ayatollahs want to be left alone to run their own beits, collect millions of dollars every year from the Shia fateful and the Islamic Republic institutions, and they are in no mood to rock the boat.
The general population voting in the two upcoming elections is different. Iran’s growing isolation in the world arena and the worsening economic situation, partly caused by the country’s isolation, should bode well for the opposition and should change the composition of the Majlis and the occupant of the Marmar Palace, formerly the shah’s and now the seat of the Iranian presidency. The government and its radical supporters, however, control the cash flow from the considerable rise in the country’s oil exports. Their free-wheeling spending might make a 20% inflation rate even worst, but might still buy lots of votes.
The struggle for the control of Iran’s government in the next twenty months has just begun.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Ahmadinejad also reiterated Iran’s commitment to its uranium enrichment program and revealed that Iran already operated more than 3,000 centrifuges, directly contracting IAEA chief who had said earlier that the Iranian leadership has slowed down its enrichment program to gain politically in the international community.
On domestic front, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was chosen to head the all-powerful Assembly of Experts after an all-out effort by the radical fundamentalist supporters of Ahmadinajad could not convince the 86 senior cleric members of the assembly to elect another ayatollah. The political infighting within the Islamic Republic reached its height when Ahmadinejad accused a score of moderate and reformist former officials of treachery and passing up nuclear secrets to foreign powers.
· President Bush launched one of his strongest attacks against the Islamic Republic, accusing it of threatening to place the Middle East under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust; President Bush said he has authorized US military commanders in Iraq to confront Iran’s “murderous activities.”
· Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, who commanded the Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC) until last week, warned that a US attack on Iran would unleash a much larger response from the Iranian that expected; Gen. Safavi said Iran would attack US and Israeli positions and would stop the flow of oil in the Straits of Hormuz.
· Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that his “mathematical calculations” has convinced him that it would be impossible for the US to attack Iran; Ahmadinejad told a group of students that his training as an engineer enabled him to conduct mathematical calculus and analysis; Ahmadinejad also mentioned his belief in God as his second source of analysis; God said those who move on the correct path will win, Ahmadinejad emphasized.
· Eight Iranian officials, including two diplomats, who were detained by US troops in Baghdad, were released a day later; The Iranians were picked up at their hotel, blindfolded and handcuffed and taken into custody for questioning.
Major Domestic Storylines
· Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani today was chosen by the 86 senior cleric members of the Assembly of Experts to head the powerful body; Rafsanjani, 73, replaces Ali Mehkini who passed away in July; he defeated Ayatollah Ahmad Janatti, the candidate favored by the fundamentalists.
· President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused his opponents within the regime of “treachery” for providing the latest news and information on the country’s nuclear program to the Westerners; Ahmadinejad said that as many as eight to ten people might be involved in this treachery.
· The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenie today removed Maj. Gen. Yahya Safavi from his powerful post as the Commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC); the new IRGC commander is Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Aziz Jafari; Gen. Jafari was most recently the director of IRGC’s Center for Strategic Studies; previously he commanded IRGC ground forces.
· Haleh Esfandiari, the 67-year old Iranian-American academic who was held at Evin prison for nearly four months and was freed on bail on 21 August, was allowed to leave the country; she arrived in Austria to be reunited with her husband on her way home; latest news indicate that radio farad journalist Nazee Azima is also given her passport and is expected to leave Iran shortly; Kian Tajbakhsh, the other Iranian-American academic in detention reportedly will be released within the next few days; there is no news on the fate of Ali shakeri, the last Iranian-American who has also been detained.
Iran Nuclear Program
· IAEA Chief Mohammad ElBaradei warned Iran of its “last chance” to end the nuclear standoff, by being candid on all aspects of its nuclear program; Iran and IAEA have agreed on a timetable for Iran to clear up outstanding questions on its nuclear activities; IAEA chief said that this is indeed a critical moment for candor.
· President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran already has 3,000 uranium enriching centrifuges in operation at Natanz; the statement contradicted an assessment by IAEA Chief Mohammad ElBaradei that Iran has slowed down its enrichment program; Ahmadinejad also said that Iran is brining on line one new cascade (164 centrifuges) every week; the Iranian president has declared Iran’s nuclear case closed.
· Iranian President Ahmadinejad lashed at the warning of French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Iran risked being bombed over its nuclear program saying Sarkozy was still “inexperienced.”
· Iran’s envoy to IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said IAEA acted with “professionalism” in setting a timetable for Iran to resolve all previously-unsettled issues regarding the country’s nuclear program; the new timetable agreement between Iran and IAEA is expected to delay any new round of sanctions against Iran at the UN for at least few months.
· Iran announced that it may hire alternative builders to finish its first nuclear power plant at Bushehr if Russia was not willing to complete the project; a Russian contractor had been working on Bushehr project but had suspended its activities over disputes with Iran.
· Iranian President Ahmadinejad said a huge power vacuum will be created in Iraq when the US forces leave the country; he said Iran was prepared to fill the gap.
· The influential editor of Keyhan, the conservative Tehran daily officially part of the office of the Supreme Leader, today in an editorial reiterated his views that Bahrain is an integral part of Iran; Hossein Shariatmadari challenged Bahraini leaders to accept a referendum on the issue in the island nation; Shariatmadari claims that the scheduled UN popular referendum in 1971 on the subject of Bahraini independence from Iran was never carried out and instead a group of hand-picked elders close to the current royal family chose independence.
· President Ahmadinejad accused the US of interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs; the Iranian president said any US effort to topple Al Maliki’s government will fail.
· Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said a large amount of weapons are being smuggled into Iran via Iraq; Hosseini said that terrorists and smugglers take advantage of the situation in Iraq and carry on with their sabotage activities.
· UAE put in place re-export maritime laws to prevent foreign companies exporting to Iran electronic components and devices used in manufacturing explosive devices; US had exerted pressure on UAE government to institute the ban; US has said that these devices are later used to attack US and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; the preferred venue for re-export to Iran has been the port of Dubai.
· Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Kurdish faction headed by Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, is reporting today that Iran has resumed heavy shelling of Iraqi Kurd areas near Iranian borders; Iran contends that the presence in the area of Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), an Iranian Kurdish opposition group, is forcing it to attack the villages in Iraq Kurdistan region; the Kurdish Parliament condemned the shelling and called for an immediate ceasefire.
Rafsanjani, 73, replaces Ali Mehkini who passed away in July. He defeated Ayatollah Ahmad Janatti, the candidate favored by radical fundamentalists.
The fundamentalists originally wanted to have Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi to replace Meshkini. In anticipation of Rafsanjani’s candidacy, they launched an all-out attack on his character in the past couple of weeks. The latest was accusations that Rafsanjani had made up a quote by the late Ayatollah Khomeini to justify his moderate stand on relations with the US. Just in the past few days, they settled on Janatti as having a better chance to stop Rafsanjani. The final tally in today’s selection was kept secret.
At the end the majority of traditionally conservative ayatollahs who make up the bulk of the membership in the assembly sided with Rafsanjani. The fundamentalists’ radical foreign policies which has brought the country to the verge of an armed conflict do not bode well with the conservative clerics who do not wish their secure positions at old age be threatened by conflicts and wars.
The defeat by the fundamentalists today, however, is not the end of the infighting over the course Iran needs to follow during these very sensitive times. The battle for Majlis, with its elections coming up in March, is taking shape.
President Ahmadinejad is already accusing eight to ten of his opponents in the moderate and reformist camp as traitors who have given away Iran’s nuclear secrets to the foreigners. Even with the Machiavellian state of political affairs prevalent in the Islamic Republic, this is considered crossing of a red line, probably beyond repair.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Ahmadinejad told a group of students that his training as an engineer enabled him to conduct mathematical calculus and analysis. The enemies will not dare to attack us, he concluded. (Ettemad-e Melli, 3 September).
Ahmadinejad also mentioned his belief in God as his second source of analysis: God said those who move on the correct path will win.
Ahmadinejad has said he would like to do more academic work, presumably in the area of risk assessment for the nation.
Esfandiari is the head of the Middle East program at Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. Her detention and forced stay in Iran, along with that of three other Iranian-Americans, had generated universal disapproval and protests. It is not known if the government would follow up with the release of other Iranian-Americans.
My analysis of the reason for the change of command at IRGC is not affected by this error. Today the government-owned broadcasting system asserted that the change in command was “routine.” Gen. Jafari is only the third IRGC commander in the past 26 years. This is not a routine rotation of military personnel.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Today, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini also hailed ElBaradei’s report as a victory for Iran’s nuclear program.
Hours later, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a press conference that Iran has put into operation over 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz! (IRNA, 2 September). He also said that Iran is adding one new centrifuge cascade (164 centrifuges) every week to the 3,000 centrifuges already in operation.
ElBaradei must not have believed his ears listening to Ahmadinejad’s proclamation only days after he hailed the Iranian leaders for their moderation and cooperation over the nuclear issue. Welcome to politics, Islamic Republic style, Mr. ElBaradei!
President Ahmadinejad, during his press conference in Tehran today, referred to the “treachery of some people inside the country on the nuclear issue.” (Fars News Agency, 2 September). He, however, pointed his finger to a large number of his opponents within the country’s establishment.
“These people were not just one or two individuals but eight to ten people,” Ahmadinejad said of the people involved in the security breach. These people “think only they can run the country and whose newspapers are filled with foul languages everyday. They were transferring the latest news and information and were telling the Westerners that they should exert as much pressure as possible.” (Fars News Agency, 2 September).
Ahmadinejad is accusing a large number of presumably former government officials (“those who think only they can run the government”) of high treason. The president is using a security breach within the IRGC to launch an unprecedented attack on his opponents within the regime only months prior to the parliamentary elections. We should expect the hard-line Guardian Council to disqualify former high-ranking officials from the reformist and moderate camps from running in the Majlis elections on charges of “treachery.” We are indeed witnessing an emerging picture of a regime in disarray.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenie today removed Maj. Gen. Yahya Safavi from his powerful post as the Commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corp. (IRGC). Reports circulating in Tehran point to a security breakdown at IRGC as the main reason for the command change. A laptop computer with highest compartmental security clrearance access requirement had apparently been stolen in Iran recently containing sensitive information on Iran’s Green Salt Project.
The US intelligence officials have provided the IAEA the evidence that Green Salt involves uranium processing, presumably the production of uranium metal which is the core of atomic bombs, as well as the production of high explosives and missile warheads which together would make up the structure of an advanced nuclear weapon program.
The new IRGC commander is Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Aziz Jafari. Gen. Jafari was most recently the director of IRGC’s Center for Strategic Studies. Previously he commanded IRGC ground forces.
Gen. Safavi, the outgoing IRGC commander, was named in the UN Security Council resolution 1737, passed in December 2006, requiring member nations to freeze his assets for his involvement in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
US intelligence officials have provided IAEA information on an Iranian secret project code-named the Green Salt Project. According to a report published yesterday in The New York Times, Green Salt involves uranium processing, presumably production of uranium metal which is the core of an atomic bomb, as well as production of high explosives and missile warhead. Together, Green Salt if proven to exist would be Iran’s project for building nuclear weapons.
IAEA also wants to know how the Iranians acquired the skill to build two different types of centrifuges, the so-called P-1 and P-2. The centrifuges are used to enrich uranium. Highly enriched uranium (HEU) can then be processed to produce uranium metal.
Iran has always claimed that its nuclear program is for production of electricity. But for nearly 20 years, Iran had consistently misled IAEA and has obstructed the work of its inspectors. Now IAEA chief is telling the Iranians that this is indeed a critical moment for candor.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was more blunt in his assessment this week if the Iranians could not gain the trust of the international community. The alternative, he said, would be “catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran.”