Wednesday, October 10, 2007

News from Iran

Reports of the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day demonstrations against Israel and the state of US-Iran relations dominated the coverage in Iranian media. President Ahmadinejad said if the Holocaust really happened, the Western countries were responsible and should be making up for it and should provide land for “all the Zionists.” Ahmadinejad called for moving the Israelis to Alaska and Canada. On US-Iran relations, Ahmadinejad said no talks with Washington until US changes its positions against the Islamic Republic.

On military front, Iran announced development of a new 2000-pound optically-guided “smart” bomb, called Ghadr. The Iranian air force inaugurated a new air base near the border with Afghanistan. The air force commander said the base was needed to counter the threats posed by US forces in Afghanistan. On nuclear issue, Iran reiterated its position that it will not suspend its uranium enrichment. France called for tougher sanctions to force Iran to suspend its enrichment program.

Quds (Jerusalem) Day

· Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said if the Holocaust really happened, the Western countries have been responsible for it; he called on the West to make up for it; Ahmadinejad said Israelis should be expelled to Alaska and Canada; he said there are plenty of lands available for “the Zionists” in Alaska and Canada.
· President Ahmadinejad vowed Iran would continue resistance until “all of Palestine is liberated from Israel's hands.”
· Tens of thousands of Iranians marched in solidarity with Palestinians in cities across Iran; the crowd chanted "Death to Israel" in annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day.

US-Iran Relations

· President George Bush said US is not gearing up to attack Iran; President Bush said he remains committed to resolve the nuclear standoff diplomatically; he said Iran needs to suspend its nuclear program; Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said President Bush’s condition for suspension of enrichment is not acceptable.
· Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said no talks with US until Washington changes its policies toward Iran; he said Iran is worried about US “warmongers” and their atomic bombs.
· Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran is prepared to hold talks with US based on mutual rights and without preconditions; Hosseini said President Bush’s remarks of not gearing up to attack Iran was clearer than before; he added talks conditional on suspension of enrichment is unacceptable.
· US military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, was a member of IRGC’s Quds Force; Gen. Petraeus said US military can not move against Ambassador Qumi due to his diplomatic immunity; Gen. Petraeus accused Quds Force of “lethal activities” inside Iraq.
· Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said American officials hinder freedom of Iranian national Mahmoud Farhadi arrested in Suleymaniya and five Iranian consular officials in Erbil; Hosseini said the efforts made so far have got nowhere due to American procrastination; he insisted Farhadi was a businessman and was not smuggling roadside bombs into Iraq; US military accuses Farhadi of smuggling bombs and membership in IRGC’s Quds Force.
· Iraqi national security adviser Muaffak Al Rubaie said attack on Iran will be a “fatal mistake”; Al Rubaie also accused Iran of meddling into Iraq’s internal affairs; "Our neighbors are playing a very negative role," he said of Iran.
· French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Iran does everything in Iraq to promote conflicts between religious sects; Kouchner said Iran gives assistance to both Shia and Sunni militias; he added Iraq has become a “dream sphere of influence” for Iran.

Iran Nuclear Program

· International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation arrived in Tehran for talks over Iran’s nuclear program; the talks covered outstanding questions related to P1 and P2 centrifuges used in uranium enrichment.
· IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei warned Iran must soon provide key details on its nuclear research capabilities and its nuclear weaponization capacity; ElBaradei added nobody would be able to support Iran if it does not come clean on all outstanding questions.
· French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for tougher sanctions against Iran; "Between resignation and war, there is a responsible attitude: increasing sanctions to bring Iran to reason,” said Sarkozy; Britain backed France on Iran sanctions; EU was to debate on 15 October whether to impose its own set of new sanctions against Iran; French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner proposed exploring “new European measures” in parallel to negotiations on a new UNSC resolution.
· Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini ruled out any suspension of uranium enrichment activities; Hosseini said talks of nuclear freeze are “outdated.”
· Iran’s President Ahmadinejad said President Bush’s call for an end to Iranian enrichment program is a mistake; “This strategy is useless,” said Ahmadinejad; he added Iran considers it meaningless to talk about nuclear rights of Iranian nation”; Ahmadinejad said Iran has overcome difficult hurdles on its nuclear path and no power can stop it now.

Major Domestic Storylines

· Iranian military announced it has developed a new 2,000-pound optically guided smart bomb called Ghadr; the precision ordnance is a new version of Ghased, also a 2,000-pound smart bomb developed earlier this year; in August, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) test-fired Ghased from its F-4 and F-5 fighter jets; production line for 200-pound bombs was inaugurated in August.
· IRIAF inaugurated a new air force base in Birjand, near Iran’s eastern border with Afghanistan; IRIAF Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Mighani said inauguration of the airbase was aimed at responding to a possible attack on Iran from US forces in Afghanistan; IRIAF operated 12 bases mostly in Western regions of Iran.
· Student protestors demonstrated against a visit to University of Tehran by Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Keyhan estimated number of protestors at 600; protestors chanted anti-Ahmadinejad slogans; students carried placards calling for release from prison of their fellow students.

Major Regional Storylines

· Iran reopened its border with Iraqi Kurdistan; the border was closed in protest of arrest of an Iranian national, Mahmoud Farhadi; US military accused Farhadi of smuggling deadly roadside bombs into Iraq; Farhadi was still in US custody.
· British Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed to support any possible US air strikes and Special Forces raids against IRGC bases; Britain's Special Air Service Regiment was tasked to take part in any Special Forces raids inside Iran; the Royal Navy was also expected to combat Iranian retaliation in the Persian Gulf.
· Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Iran insists on its sovereignty over three islands of Abu Moussa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs; “The ownership of islands is not a negotiable issue,” Mohammad Ali Hosseini said; The Kuwaiti foreign minister speaking at UN General Assembly said the islands belong to UAE and not to Iran; Hosseini rejected Kuwaiti declaration.
· Iran’s Majlis Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Alel said Israel is not in a “position to have the illusion of attacking Iran”; Haddad Adel was asked whether recent Israeli air strike on Syria was a message for Iran.

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