Tuesday, November 6, 2007

News from Iran

The war rhetoric between US and Iran dominated the coverage in the Iranian media. US Vice President Dick Cheney warned of the need for a military solution in Iran. The influential former president Hashemi Rafsanjani warned Iran of “unprecedented” US threats, and the commander of Iranian Army warned his force will scare US forces away from Iranian soil. On nuclear front, Iran insisted to continue its uranium enrichment program despite threats of a third round of UN sanctions against the country. On regional issues, Iranian media voiced displeasure and concern over Musharaf’s declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan. The moderate press blasted Musharaf for imprisoning lawyers and human rights activists while the conservative press attacked him for his anti-Islamist move. On Palestinian issue, Iran once again asked the Arab countries to boycott the Annapolis conference. The conservative press saw Annapolis gathering as an appeasement by US to Arabs to get their support against Iran.

US-Iran War Rhetoric

· US Vice President Dick Cheney said peaceful measures to stop Iran nuclear program has not worked; Cheney added US may resort to military solution in Iran.
· Former Iranian President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned Iran of “unprecedented” US threats; Rafsanjani said US forces are creating a climate of fear; the Chairman of Assembly of Experts said everyone must be alert.
· Boeing is manufacturing Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) weapons for attack on Iran; the 30,000-lb conventional bomb is designed to penetrate and destroy deep and hardened bunkers; US Air Force is modifying its B2 Spirit stealth bombers to carry MOP weapons; it is expected that by Spring 2008, MOP weapons would be ready to be carried by the B2 bombers.
· Commander of Iranian Army Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi warned Iranian army will scare US forces away from Iranian soil; Gen. Salehi said Iran’s military's preparedness is at highest level.
· US Vice President Dick Cheney accused Iran of supporting insurgents in Iraq.
· US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain conducted large maneuvers in the Persian Gulf; an aircraft carrier group and additional expeditionary assault ships took part in the 5-day exercises.
· The Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera quoting Arab and Israeli sources said the 6 September air strike over Syria was actually carried out by two US strategic bombers; Israeli F-15 and F-16 providing air cover for the US bombers; on 13 October, The New York Times reported that the Syrian nuclear facility under construction was hit by Israeli planes; the air strike over Syria heightened concerns in Tehran over the viability of Iran’s radar and air defense systems; Iran deploys similar Russian-built radar and air defense systems rendered ineffective by high-tech electronics measures used by the US and Israeli air forces.

The Nuclear Issue

· Deputy Director of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Javad Vaeedi said iran would not accept any proposal that demands a halt of its uranium enrichment.
· Iran’s Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said Iran is determined to gain its nuclear rights despite US opposition; Pourmohammadi said Iran has shown it is capable to withstand sanctions.
· US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns warned Iran of new UN sanctions if it continued its uranium enrichment activities; Burns said there's going to be a price to what Iran does; Burns added US hopes Iran will reconsider, suspend its enrichment program and come to negotiations with the United States and with the other countries.
· Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran offer of joint international consortium for uranium enrichment inside Iran still stands; commenting on a proposed Saudi-Russia enrichment plant, Hosseini said Iran welcomes the proposal as long as it is allowed to keep its own uranium enrichment program.
· Bahrain’s crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa claimed Iran is developing atomic weapons; Sheikh Salman urged a diplomatic solution to Iranian nuclear standoff.

Major Regional Storylines

· Pakistan imposed “state of emergency” throughout the country; moderate newspapers called the action a “second coup” by Mosharaf; moderates voiced opposition to numerous arrests and closure of independent media; conservative newspapers opposed the declaration of state of emergency as a plot against the Islamists.
· Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) cut off aid to PKK terrorists; KRG shut of PKK offices; Turkey massed up to 100,000 troops along the mountainous border with Iraq in preparations for a cross-border operation to crush PKK rebels; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced Iranian support for Turkey in its struggle against PKK; Iran cautioned all sides to find a political and diplomatic solution to PKK problem.
· At Istanbul conference on Iraqi security, Iran proposed withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Iraq; Iran proposed establishment of a regional peace force to maintain security after the withdrawal (3); Iran volunteered its troops to participate in Iraqi peace force.
· Iran called Annapolis conference a US-Zionist plot to divert Arab attention from real issues in the region; Iranian government asked all Arab countries to boycott Annapolis; some commentators said the conference was to appease Arabs and turn them against Iran.
· Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Middle East summit is a distraction for an attack on Iran; Mashaal said US is distracting Arabs with a false conference while preparing itself for real game.
· Iran's Ambassador to UN Mohammad Khazaee voiced concern over security situation in Afghanistan; Khazaee also warned of growing threat of opium production in and drug trafficking from the country.

Major Domestic Storylines

· US military announced it will free nine Iranian nationals detained in Iraq; five of the nine were Iranian diplomats detained by US troopers during a raid in Erbil last January.
· The World Bank halted aid programs to Iran; scheduled payments to Iran were suspended in response to new US sanctions against Iranian banks.
· An appeal court confirmed a 2.5 year sentence against Delaram Ali, one of the leaders of Iran’s women’s equal rights movement; Ali was arrested in June 2006 for participating in a women’s rights demonstration.
· Ali Azizi, the leader of Unity Consolidation Bureau, the largest Islamic student association, was arrested; students at University of Tehran held protest against the visiting president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month.

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