Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Iran Air Force on Full Alert

Iranian Air Force was put on full alert today in the wake of the continued Israeli raids on Gaza. IRIAF Commander Brig. Gen. Hassan Shah-Safi told reporters in Tehran that the ongoing situation in the Middle East has prompted the Iranian military to take necessary measures to ensure readiness in the event of the country becoming the target of an attack.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pro-Gaza Protestors Storm British Compound

More than 70 protestors, believed to be affiliated with the Basiji forces of IRGC, stormed a British Embassy compound in Qolhak, in northern Tehran. The public opinion in Iran, like in many Middle Eastern countries, has solidly turned against Israel and the West in the aftermath of Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the many casualties it has caused.

The protestors have brought down the British flag and have raised the Palestinian flag inside the compound.

The Qolhak compound has in the past been used as the summer residence of the British Ambassador in Tehran. The large property, situated in one of choice locations in the Iranian capital, has been the center of an ownership controversy with the UK. Iranians believe that the British lease on the property has been expired and it needs to be handed back to Iran. Britain considers the property as an integral part of its embassy, protected by international law.

The occupation of the compound is not all that surprising, given the Iranian claim. What is surprising is the pretext of helping the Palestinian cause in occupying the compound. The Iranian public opinion could have much easier accepted the move if it was cast in Iran vs. Britain struggle. Tying the move to the developments in Gaza would be hard to comprehend and might backfire and help the British.

Notwithstanding the move, the Iranians are real angry at the events in Gaza. Even mainstream journalists are using profanities in referring to Israel, and the West, in their reporting of the bombardments. The West is rapidly loosing the public opinion and the media war regarding Gaza.

UPDATE: A media officer at the British embassy in Tehran confirmed reports that diplomatic police had driven the demonstrators out of the compound.

Suicide Bombing in Baluchistan

A suicide bomber, affiliated with the terrorist group Jundallah, killed four policemen and wounded a dozen in an attack on a police post in the town of Saravan, in Iranian Baluchistan, near the Pakistani border.

Suicide bombings are very rare in Iran. Jundallah, an Iranian Baluch militant group, has in the past two years attacked the police and revolutionary guards in the province. The group claimed responsibility for this recent attack and said in a statement that the attack was in retaliation for the authorities' destruction of a Sunni religious school in Zabol.

Last year, Jundallah attacked a bus carrying members of IRGC, killing a score of revolutionary guards. This month, the group killed all 16 of the border guards it had kidnapped in June. Jundallah had demanded the release of 200 of its members imprisoned by Iran in return for the border guards.

Political observers in Tehran believe that Jundallah is encouraged, if not directly supported, by the US to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

Jundallah enjoys its support in the predominantly Sunni minority areas of Sistan and Baluchistan, near eastern borders with Pakistan. Other militant groups, such as PJAK, also operate in Sunni regions of Kurdistan and Khuzestan, near western borders with Iraq. Sunni militant groups in the border regions are regarded as potential armed adversaries in any attempt to destabilize Tehran’s government. Terrorist attacks employed by Jundallah, however, are bound to further isolate these groups in the society, especially in the media and the public opinion.

Iranian MPs tell UN to halt Gaza Onslaught

From PressTV:

The Iranian parliament has urged the United Nations to make efforts to halt the atrocities Israel is committing against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi conveyed the message of the Iranian lawmakers to Knut Ostby, the new UN Resident Coordinator in Iran, in Tehran on Tuesday.

In their message, the Iranian parliamentarians stated that the Israeli military attack on the Gaza Strip, which has killed over 380 Palestinians and injured about 1,800 others, is a clear act of genocide.

The MPs urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to implement the provisions of the UN Security Council and to set up a special tribunal to try the Israeli war criminals who have committed the genocide, IRNA reported.

Ostby expressed regret over the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and described the measures taken by the UN to halt the Israeli invasion.

The UN secretary general has strongly condemned the Israeli attack on the Palestinian people and has urged Israel to stop the onslaught, he explained.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Interior Minister given power over law enforcement

From PressTV:

Commander-in-Chief of Iran's Armed Forces has placed the country's Law Enforcement Agency under the interior minister's supervision.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, agreed on Monday to a request by Iran's Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli to transfer all responsibilities of the country's law enforcement organization to the newly-appointed minister.

"I grant you the position of deputy to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and will shortly communicate your official duties to you," Ayatollah Khamenei said in a letter to Mahsouli on Monday.

The Iranian interior minister had earlier made a request to the Leader asking for executive powers in the country's Law Enforcement Agency.

In his letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, Mahsouli argued that for the Interior Ministry to be able to fully ensure law and order in the country, the Law Enforcement Agency should be under his authority.

The new appointment comes as Iran has recently launched a campaign to crackdown on saboteurs targeting the country's moral values.

Iran’s reaction to Israel’s military strikes against Gaza

From Reuters:
Iran's Supreme Leader issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world on Sunday, ordering them to defend Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks "in any way possible", state television reported.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also declared Monday a day of public mourning in Iran after Israel killed more than 280 Palestinians in two days of air strikes on Gaza.

"All Palestinian combatants and all the Islamic world's pious people are obliged to defend the defenceless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible," Khamenei said.

"Whoever is killed in this legitimate defence, is considered a martyr," he said in a statement.

A religious decree is an official statement by a ranking religious leader that commands Muslims to carry out its message. While there is no religious and legal force behind it, Khamenei is respected by many Iranian and non-Iranian Shi'ites.

Khamenei criticised some Arab governments for their lack of response towards the Israeli raids.

"The even greater catastrophe is the encouraging silence of some Arab governments who claim to be Islamic," he said, also accusing the West of being indifferent to the killing of Palestinians.

Khamenei, Iran's most powerful authority, urged Muslim countries to punish Israeli leaders.

"The officials of this regime ... should be tried and punished for this crime by Islamic governments."

Khamenei's remarks were interpreted by some oil traders as a hint that Iran was calling on oil-producing Arab countries to disrupt energy shipments to Israel.

Tehran denounced Israel's attacks as "unforgivable" on Saturday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the raids showed Israel's "weakness".

Explosion at armaments plant in Isfahan

Eight people have been killed in an explosion in an armaments plant in Isfahan province in central Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday. The blast occurred late Saturday in a defense industries plant in Zarin Shahr. The cause of the blast is under investigation.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ahmadinejad's 'alternative' Christmas message - Updated

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered a Christmas message broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4. Click here for the full text of the message.

Update: Video of the Channel 4 broadcast:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Russian S-300s on way to guarding Iran's nuclear sites

From Debka File:
Despite the efforts of US and Israeli leaders, Moscow has begun delivering the highly sophisticated medium-range air defense S-300 system to Iran for securing its nuclear and strategic sites against potential attack.

The RIA news agency reported Wednesday night, Dec. 18: "Moscow has earlier met its obligations to supply Tor-M1 (short-range) systems to Iran and is currently implementing its contract to deliver S-300 systems."

DEBKAfile's military sources disclose the S-300 deliveries began two weeks ago.

Their installation, coinciding with the return home of members of Iranian air defense officers from training in Russia, means that air or missile attacks on Iranian sites will henceforth be extremely difficult and carry a high price.

On 9th October, DEBKAfile's Moscow sources reported that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert failed in the key mission of his trip to persuade Russian leaders to refrain from selling this advanced weapon to Iran and Syria.

On July 9, US Secretary of State Robert Gates said: "Based on what I know, it's highly unlikely that those air defense missiles would be in Iranian hands any time soon." Clearly, Gates was misinformed and his intelligence wrong, since five months on, those missiles are on their way to Iran.

While both the Bush administration and Israeli leaders insisted that a military option remained on the table if Iran persisted in its nuclear weapons program, neither took into account that Tehran was not deterred or standing idle.

This week, the Israeli defense ministry announced that Amos Gilead, a high official, would travel to Moscow Wednesday, Dec. 17 in a final bid to hold the Kremlin's hand. But Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak had missed another boat.

DEBKAfile's military and intelligence sources report that after Iran, Moscow will install the S-300 in Syria, focusing on securing the Russian naval bases going up in the Mediterranean port of Tartous. By selling these countries top-line weaponry, Moscow is strengthening its military presence and influence in two Middle East countries of especial interest to the United States and Israel – a tactic Soviet Russian employed in the Cold War.

Iranian Warships in the Gulf of Aden

Iran has reportedly sent a fleet of warships into the Gulf of Aden to protect vessels against pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Fars News Agency is reporting that the Iranian fleet arrived in the Gulf of Aden after traveling some 4,000 maritime miles, and carried out a naval exercise in preparation for a potential clash with the pirates.

Iran said last month it was negotiating with pirates who seized a ship it had chartered but that it was ready to use force to free the vessel.

The Hong-Kong-registered cargo ship Delight, with a 25-strong crew and 36,000 tons of wheat, was attacked in November in the Gulf of Aden as it headed for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

The attack was the second since August 21, when Iran's Diyanat cargo ship was hijacked after passing the Horn of Africa.

Iranian officials have warned that Iran is mulling over a military option against Somali pirates.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

MiGs for Lebanon

According to the LA Times blog, Russia has offered to donate ten MiG-29 fighter planes to Lebanon .

“But at least one Lebanese official said the deal was impractical. According to a senior Lebanese military official, the Russian offer seems “implausible” and surpasses the capacity of the Lebanese army.

“It is an unnaturally big step for the Lebanese army,” he told the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity, adding that Lebanon does not have the proper infrastructure, nor the trained personnel to make use of the fighter jets. Lebanon was totally not expecting the Russians to make this offer.”

Iran flies the MiG-29. Surely, the Islamic Republic would be willing to lend a hand, should the jets be donated.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nasrallah receives honorary degree from Iranian university

From China View:
Lebanon's Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah received an honorary doctorate from an Iranian university in Isfahan, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

Nasrallah was granted the degree "in the field of political science, as a part of the events to mark the university's 300th birthday," the report said.

The degree was received by an envoy in Nasrallah's absence.

Nasrallah thanked Iran, in a statement read at the ceremony, for "25 years of support and aid for the Hezbollah organization and its warriors in southern Lebanon," adding that his group had won "two big triumphs" against "the most equipped armed forces in the region," referring implicitly to Israel.

He also stressed in the statement that "Iran's support was always the main factor in the victories and it always will be."

Iran reports reforms in missile production

From Press TV:
Iran is set to revolutionize its Defense Ministry's missile production division in an effort to boost the country's defensive capabilities.

Head of the Aerospace Organization in the Defense Ministry, Brigadier General Mehdi Farahi, said Monday that the entire structure of the organization along with the company's policies will be renewed.

"The reforms are intended to promote efficiency and help fulfill the requirements of the country's Armed Forces," Brig. Gen. Farahi told Fars News Agency.

The organization has been actively manufacturing rocket artillery systems to help Iran's military self-sufficiency campaign directed at enhancing the country's defense capabilities in the face of war threats.

The newly-developed surface-to-surface Sejjil missile, the long-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile along with Zelzal and Fateh missiles are among the productions of the unit.

The Shahab-3 reportedly has a range of up to 1,250 miles (2000 kilometers) and is capable of carrying a 1,000-760 kilogram warhead.

This is while the solid-fuel, two-stage Sejjil missile with two engines, is capable of reaching a very high altitude and therefore has a longer range than that of the Shahab 3 model.

The report comes as Israeli sources had earlier expressed concern about Iran's progress on indigenous missile production.

A report by Haaretz claimed earlier in December that Iran has recently tripled its missile arsenal, alleging that "the number of Shihab-3 missiles in Iran's possession has gone from roughly 30 at the start of 2008 to more than 100."

Haaretz voiced Israeli concerns that "the Islamic Republic remains tireless in its efforts to step up defensive capabilities against Israel."

This is while Iranian military officials highlight the Islamic Republic's defensive doctrine and say that Iran would only use its domestically-manufactured missiles in the event of an attack on the country.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Growing Iranian-Israeli Tensions

Thousands of Iranians today chanted “Death to Israel” as they demonstrated in Tehran against Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Today’s demonstrations took place amid growing concern over the possibility of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israeli observers have speculated that such an attack might be launched in the last weeks of the Bush presidency.

The renewed talks of war and the recent harsh verbal attacks on Israel by the Iranian president and today’s anti-Israeli demonstrations in Tehran have raised tensions between the two countries to a level not seen in a long time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Iran triples its arsenal of Shahab-3 missiles

Janes Defence News is reporting that Iran is accelerating missile production in preparation for possible conflict.

Iran more than tripled its arsenal of Shahab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in 2008, Western intelligence sources have said, in a sign that the country is preparing for a prolonged conflict.

"At the beginning of 2008 [Iran] had about 30 operational missiles compared with more than 100 missiles today," an intelligence source told Jane's.

With the Israelis and US strengthening Israeli missile defenses, it is only natural that to maintain deterence the Iranians would build up their forces as fast as possible. Also, from the perspective of Iran, it is essential that in the event of war it be able to inflict some form of damage to counter that inflicted by more powerful aggressors. Thus a crash system to build more Shahabs makes sense, from a defensive posture.

Iran on contract for S-300 SAM system

Aviation Week is reporting on their blog that Iran is on contract for delivery of the S-300 (SA-20) SAM system.

“The Iranians are on contract for SA-20,” says a senior, U.S. government official. The U.S. and Israel now face a “huge set of challenges in the future that we’ve never had [before]. We’ve been lulled into a false sense of security because our operations over the last 20 years involved complete air dominance and we’ve been free to operate in all domains,” he adds.

Other senior officials independently confirm that Iran will get the Russian SA-20 strategic SAM system, irrespective of Kremlin protestations to the contrary. Tehran’s deployment of such a system would mark a step-up in capability, and considerably improve the country’s ability to defend its controversial nuclear facilities where the West remains concerned that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

The proliferation of so-called double-digit surface-to-air missile systems – such as the Almaz Antey SA-20 (S-300PMU1/S-300PMU2) – poses an increasing threat to non-stealthy aircraft, and will force changes in tactics and operational planning. The SA-20 has an engagement envelope of up to 150 kilometers; and Iran may be signed up for the S-300PMU-2 variant of the system.

Russia could use Byelorussia as the route for a sale, allowing it to deny any direct involvement, says a U.S. official. It would likely take the Iranian armed forces some time, as much as 22 months, to become proficient in the operation of the SA-20, however, any deal would almost certainly cover training support of the system in the interim. Analysts suggest ships delivering the missiles and the training, support and assembly areas could become targets.

Janes Defence News reported earlier in the year that Byelorussia was exporting the S-300 to Iran. Russia recently defended its sales of defensive weapons to Iran.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Reading List – December 9, 2008

-Iran's Basij Force -- The Mainstay Of Domestic Security
By Hossein Aryan
Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty

-Has Iran Achieved a Nuclear Weapons Breakout Capability?
Not Yet, But Soon.

By David Albright, Jacqueline Shire, and Paul Brannan
Institute for Science and International Security

-Iran’s Breakout Incapability
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Asia Times Online

-Student Day in Iran
By Farideh Farhi
Informed Comment: Global Affairs

Unity 87 (pictorial)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Iran Tests New Missile

The Fars News Agency photo reportedly shows Nasr-1 missile at test launch
Gulf of Oman
6 December 2008

Iran has test-launched a new missile during its naval war games in the Gulf of Oman. Nasr-1 (Victory-1) missile was launched on Saturday from a warship and reportedly hit its surface target at a distance of 30 km (19 miles).

The Iranian Navy has deployed over 60 ships and other military hardware during the Ettehad-87 (Unity-08) naval exercises.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ahmadinejad’s Government Might Face No-Confidence Vote

The Majlis deputies have introduced no-confidence bills on four cabinet members: Eskandari, Minister of Agriculture; Ali-Ahmadi, Minister of Education; Lankarani, Minister of Health; Soleymani, Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

Reports from Tehran indicate that enough deputies have signed the no-confidence petitions. The speaker of Majlis on Wednesday was forced to announce that he would put the no-confidence bills on the chamber’s agenda.

Iran’s constitution (Article 136) requires the government to ask for a vote of confidence for the entire cabinet if more than half its original ministers were to be replaced. Already half of the ministers have been either replaced by Ahmadinejad or ousted as a result of no-confidence votes in the Majlis. A no-confidence vote for any of the four ministers would tip the balance.

Relations between Ahmadinejad’s government and the current Majlis have reached a low point and political observers believe that Ahmadinejad might loose a confidence vote for his cabinet if he is forced to ask for one. Such development would be a major blow to Ahmadinejad’s authority, forcing him to form a new cabinet acceptable to the increasingly hostile Majlis.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Iran Plans to Send Animals into Space

From Fars News Agency:
Iran's Aerospace Research Institute said the country plans to launch further exploratory rockets into space with live animals aboard, paving the way for manned space flights.

Mohammad Ebrahimi, deputy head of Iran's Aerospace Research Institute, said Tuesday Iran plans to send Kavoshgar (Explorer) 3 and 4 rockets into space in the near future.

The Kavoshgar 2 was successfully launched on Wednesday. The rocket consisted of a carrier, space-lab and restoration system.

Ebrahimi said the rocket analyzed air pressure and wind speed, and conducted astronomical tests at altitudes of 50 to 200 km (30 to 125 miles).

The Kavoshgar 2 is a two-stage solid fuel rocket capable of carrying a small payload and reentering the lower atmosphere with a high degree of accuracy.

The Iranian scientist said future rockets would be designed to carry live animals. Such an ability would pave the way for Iran to send men into space, he added.

IRIAF Phantoms in action during Unity 87

According to Fars News Agency dispatches, Iranian F-4E Phantom II fighter jets accomplished their missions successfully in the second stage of Unity 87 drills, destroying target vessels with AGMs (air-to-ground missiles) and bombs.

The main stage of 'Unity 87' wargames will take place on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Unity 87 Naval Maneuver

From Press TV:
The Islamic Republic has successfully completed the first stage of a six-day naval maneuver in the sea of Oman, says a top admiral.

Iran's Deputy Naval Chief Qasem Rostamabadi said Tuesday that the 'Unity 87' maneuvers --which kicked off Sunday--will also include multi-phased operations in the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

"The maneuver is aimed at testing a number of domestically-built naval equipments and military hardware in a bid to enhance the country's deterrent might," he said.

Admiral Rostamabadi said the Iranian navy forces successfully launched a number of psychological and tactical operations against hypothetical enemy units in the first stage of 'Unity 87' over the past two days.

He added that the second stage of the naval maneuver would begin on Wednesday Dec.3.

The Iranian navy has so far developed a number of 'exclusive' military equipment such as stealth micro submarines, vessels, and lightweight aircraft, in an effort to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the country's coastal waters.

About 60 warships are participating in the maneuver, covering 50,000-square miles of Iranian territorial waters. Iran’s air force is also a participant.

Reading List - December 2, 2008

-'Joint experts' statement on Iran' recommends sweeping changes to US policy
The Daily Star

-Build New or Buy Old
Geoffrey Forden
Arms Contol Wonk

-Designing Iran’s ICBM from the Ground Up
Geoffrey Forden
Arms Contol Wonk

-Once again, Iran launches a space rocket…
Geoffrey Forden
Arms Contol Wonk

-Kavosh at its Peak
Geoffrey Forden
Arms Contol Wonk

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kazakhstan-Caspian Oil Pipeline

Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR and Kazakhstan's state monopoly KazMunaiGaz have signed an agreement to transfer Kazak oil across the Caspian Sea for entry into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline and subsequent re-export to world markets.

The Kazakhstan-Caspian Transportation System (KCTS), as the new pipeline would be called, is to enable Kazakhstan to finally double its oil export capacity, a goal that has for long eluded it. KCTS is expected to handle 500,000 bpd by 2012, rising to 750,000 bpd later.

KCTS would also be a response to Russia’s unwillingness or inability to implement long-discussed Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) line. The CPC line takes oil from the Tengiz deposit in northwest Kazakhstan across southern Russia to the port of Novorossiisk on the Black Sea.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Naval Commander Confirms Launch of New Boats

Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari confirmed this morning the launch of two new missile boats, Kalat (Fortress) and Derafsh (Flag) as well as a Ghadir-class light submarine on Thursday 27 November (Iran’s Navy Day.)

In an exclusive interview with Iran’s official news agency IRNA, RDML Sayyari also challenged assertions by NATO’s naval commander that Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz were a “fantasy.” Vice Admiral Maurizio Gemignani had made the remark during his visit to Kuwait on 4 November.

“We can close Hormuz. You don’t believe it, bring it on!” Sayyari said in response to Gemignani [IRNA, 29 November].

The missile boats and the Ghadir-class sub were manufactured by Iran Navy and Defense Industry Organization. Iranian Navy will hold military exercises in the Sea of Oman earlier next month (5-20 December). The upcoming exercises are codenamed Ettehad-87 [Unity-08].

Friday, November 28, 2008

Potential effects of US lifting its Iran sanctions

A new report highlighted by the National Foreign Trade Council explores the impact of lifting US Iran sanctions on the global economy, trade and the price of oil. An excerpt:

If the United States lifted sanctions on Iran and the nation liberalized its economic regime, the world price of oil could fall by 10 percent and Iran’s gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by 23 percent annually, according to a new paper developed by economists Dean DeRosa and Gary Hufbauer. The paper, Normalization of Economic Relations: Consequences for Iran’s Economy and the United States, was commissioned by USA*Engage, and explores the effects of lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran and how such a shift in policy could impact the world economy, the U.S. and Iranian economies, U.S. multinational corporations, the international oil-and-gas sector, and the price of oil.

The report can be accessed here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

5,000 Centrifuges; Going 50,000

Director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Qolam Reza Aghazadeh was quoted by Iranian media as saying Iran has “5,000 working uranium enrichment centrifuges.”

Aghazadeh also talked of expanding the number of centrifuges to 50,000 within the next five years.

Iran Lunches Space Missile - Updated

Iran launched Kavosh 2 [Explorer 2] rocket, the second domestically-built rocket to be launched into space. The rocket landed within 40 minutes using a parachute.

IRIB said the rocket was launched to register and send back environmental data and to test separation of the engine from the body.

The flight path reported in the media indicates that the rocket rode into suborbit, and came back to earth within 40 minutes, more in line with an intercontinental ballistic missile than a space rocket.

Update: Video of Kavosh 2 Launch:

Iranian Weapons for Lebanon

Hezbollah-controlled TV Network Al Manar reported that Iran and Lebanon have signed a historic military agreement during Lebanese President Michel Suleiman’s visit to Tehran. Iran’s Press TV noted the visit may cause “unease and tension” in Lebanon in light of the recent US-Lebanese defense agreement and anti-Iranian sentiment present in the Republic.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and President Suleiman signed the agreement, which would provide “heavy weaponry and military bases with anti-ballistic missiles,” both needed to improve the capabilities of the Lebanese army [Al Manar; 26 November].

President Michel Suleiman, in a meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as thanking the Islamic Republic for “its support during the July 2006 war.” Khamenei stressed on the need for a “united Lebanese front to fight the Zionist enemy.”

If Al Manar report on signing of the agreement is correct, it comes on the heels of the US military agreement with Lebanon. The agreement with Iran cab be greeted as a step toward bolstering the defensive capabilities of the Lebanese army, to face the much stronger Israeli army. Analysts pointed out that the US military aid to Lebanon pales in comparison to the quantity, level and type of weaponry Lebanon would get from Iran.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Basij hold civil defense drills

From Gulfnews:

An Iranian militia held civil defence drills on Sunday to prepare for any hostile air strikes[.]

The exercises organised by student members of the Basij militia were held at hundreds of schools across the country and involved transporting wounded people and putting out fires after a fictitious bombardment by enemy planes.

State television showed pictures of ambulances with sirens wailing rushing to the scene of a simulated attack and people lying on the ground with bloodied faces.

Officials also reiterated that Iran was ready to close down the Strait of Hormuz, a sea route at the mouth of the Gulf through which 40 per cent of the world's traded oil passes, if the United States attacked.

Lebanon's President seeks defense cooperation with Iran

From Mehr News:

Lebanese President Michael Suleiman on Tuesday expressed his country’s interest in bolstering defense cooperation between Beirut and Tehran.

In a meeting with Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar at the Defense Ministry’s permanent defense fair in Tehran, Suleiman, a former Army chief, insisted on the need to strengthen the Lebanese Army’s defense power in countering terrorism and likely foreign invasions.

Iran’s defense minister said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to expand and deepen defense cooperation between the two countries to improve Lebanon’s security and to increase Lebanon’s national and defense capabilities.”

Najjar described the Lebanese people’s courageous endeavor during their 33-day war with Israel in 2006 as the symbol of “perseverance and resistance” against Israel in the Muslim world.

The Lebanese leader also told Najjar that “Iran and Lebanon have great affinity and share common stance on many regional and international issues.”

Jafari addresses the Basij

From Mehr News Agency:

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari on Tuesday emphasized that the enemies will never dare to invade Iran because of Basij forces.

“Even if the enemies surrounded the country, they would not dare to even utter a threat against Iran,” he told 50,000 Basij forces at a gathering in Khorasan Razavi Province.

“Today, despite the plots, the Islamic Republic of Iran is the safest country in the region, and the enemies will never dare to invade this country.”

Jafari added that the Basij has also become a model for other countries.

“The resistance and perseverance which the Basij has taught the oppressed nations of the world has resulted in repeated defeats of the West.”

Pointing to the historical decree of Imam Khomeini for the establishment of the Basij force, the IRGC commander said the Basij forces have guaranteed the success of the Islamic Revolution.

Jafari also praised the Basij forces for their sacrifices during the Sacred Defense (the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war).

It is not clear what the outcome of the war would have been if the Basij force had not fought side by side with the Armed Forces, he added.

Naval war game in December

From Fars News Agency:

Iran's Navy Force commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Sunday that Iran would hold a war game early December in the Sea of Oman, the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormoz.

The forthcoming war game is dubbed "Unity 87," Sayyari said, adding that "All the movements of the enemy in Oman Sea, Persian Gulf and Hormoz Strait are under control and the enemy will never dare to enter Iran's waters."

He also said that on the occasion of the Iranian navy day on Nov. 27, Iranian Navy Force would be added by a light submarine named "Ghadir," and two small warships named as "Kalat (fortress in Farsi) and Derafsh (banner in Farsi) which are capable of launching rockets."

Meantime, another Iranian Navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Ashrafi Sunday told a press conference that "the Navy forces are present in the region in the most powerful manner to defend the country's sea borders."

Iran's Basij (voluntary forces) Commander Hojatoleslam Hossein Ta'eb also said Wednesday that Iran would enhance its navy might three times if there is a necessity.

Iran upgraded the naval base in Assalouyeh, a Persian Gulf port in southern Iranian Booshehr province.

Regarding the naval additions, it has been suggested that they include commisioning of a Sina, a modified IPS-16, and one submarine of the Ghadir class. (H/T to Planeman @ IMF)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Iran: Political Benefits of War

Amid growing concerns over an Israeli military strike on Iran, The Iranian government is threatening retaliatory strikes against Israel. President Ahmadinejad and his administration are using the renewed talks of war as their best hope to ride out the country’s worsening economic crisis and win a second term during the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for June 2009.

On Israeli strike, Haaritz and Jerusalem Post are reporting today that Israel’s National Security Council has recommended making contingency plans to attack Iran. The recommendation was part of INSC’s annual situation assessment report.

The document, predicting a possible rapprochement between Iran and the incoming Obama administration, warns if Iran’s nuclear facilities are not attacked in the next two months, Israel may find itself facing a nuclear Iran virtually alone.

The Iranians were quick to respond with their own threats to retaliate against Israel. Fars News Agency quoted Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, IRGC Chief of Staff, as saying that Iran had drawn plans to “take retaliatory measures” against aggressors.

The talks of war are being broadcast against a background of a growing economic crisis in Iran. The dwindling oil revenues and the on-going economic sanctions has not made the last months of Ahmadinejad’s presidency easy for him and for the country. On Thursday, Tehran daily Aftab Yazd summed up the challenges facing the government in the oil sector, Iran’s premier industry.

“The breakdown of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Pipeline agreement, constant drop in oil prices, policy differences with Qatar over export of gas [from shared fields], suspension of Crescent contract to export of gas to UAE, elimination from the new Baku pipeline, backing-off of Qatar and Russia from the proposed gas consortium, non-conclusive negotiations with Turkmenistan over price of imported gas, inability to gauge average price per barrel of oil for the next budget, shortfall in the budget for import of gasoline, problems with providing adequate fuel for power generation, pull-out from petroleum projects by large multinationals, increased cost of all energy sources are part of the economic woes facing Iran, which is heavily dependent on its oil exports.”

The rapid rise in inflation and unemployment completes the picture. The possibility of war with Israel is being used by Ahmadinejad to solidify its relations with the armed forces and to rally the public behind the government. On 10 November, the administration formed a new “joint workgoup” with the armed forces, strengthening IRGC and Basij support of Ahmadinejad’s reelection campaign. The two powerful groups were instrumental in Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005. He is hoping for déjà vu.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Iran, Seven Faces of Civilization

Also available here in one part via google video.

H/T to Professor Juan Cole @ Informed Comment

Iranian Commander’s remarks at Week of Basij

From Fars News Agency:
The Bush administration has created the required infrastructure for attacking Iran and delivered his war plan to Obama, a senior Iranian military official said Saturday, adding that Obama's election has provided Iran with a one-year opportunity to increase preparedness.

Addressing a meeting to mark the start of the Week of Basij (mobilization of volunteer forces), lieutenant commander of the General Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Major General Gholam-Ali Rasheed said that US President George Bush has established the infrastructures required in the region for posing a threat to Iran.

"The United States' threats have now found a structural form. They have done the planning for reaching the necessary preparedness to wage a war (against Iran) through setting up military bases, holding (security) pacts, etc.," he said.

The General viewed "northwestern and southeastern Iran as well as the southwestern province of Khuzestan as vulnerable points" the US forces are likely to use if they want to invade Iran, and underlined that the aforementioned areas should become invulnerable within the next one year.

He further urged military officials to leave war rhetoric and expression of foreign policy views to politicians and "accelerate measures to boost Iran's deterrent power".

Considering that the country is now under threat, he said, we should consider measures to prevent entering the stage of actual war.

The General's suggestions, that military leaders should leave war rhetoric and expression of foreign policy views to politicians and that measures to prevent actual war should be adopted, are noteworthy. Also interesting is that they were carried by Fars News Agency.

Additional comments by General Rashid were published by PressTV:

"It is utterly simplistic to believe that changing a US administration would transform Washington's ways and means toward the Islamic Republic," said the deputy chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gholam-Ali Rashid, on Saturday.

The senior Iranian commander said that Washington has vocally advocated 'regime change' in the Islamic Republic and has gone to great lengths to topple the Iranian government.

Major General Rashid said after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, Washington plotted against Middle Eastern nations and planned a velvet revolution in Iran.

"In the past five years, the US has stepped up efforts to target the Iranian government by threats of military attacks or velvet revolutions," said Rashid.

According to the Iranian commander, Washington's Middle East strategies lie in tatters and it is likely for the new US administration to renew its military threats against Tehran.

General Rasheed is obviously skeptical that the new US administrations will bring about a change in US-Iran relations. Expectations from the Iranian military seem to be a change in tactics with the new US President, but with the same end game as previous administrations: regime change in Tehran. That is to say, they are not expecting a security guarantee from the Obama administration.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Basij naval reserves in time of war

From PressTV:
Iran has the capacity to triple its forces in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz in times of war, says a senior Basij official.

"Once a threat is perceived, naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) can instantaneously triple their presence (along the country's southern shores)," Hojjatoleslam Hossein Taeb, the commander of the Basij Resistance Force, told IRNA on Wednesday.

Basij, a volunteer-based Iranian paramilitary force, assists the country's armed forces in times of crisis.

According to Taeb, Basij forces have taken measures accordingly so that its forces can immediately assist the IRGC whenever deemed necessary.

Iran has tasked the IRGC with providing security in the strategic Strait of Hormuz as well as defending the country's Persian Gulf coast.

Taeb's announcement comes at a time that Iranian armed forces are preparing to counter a potential new military conflict in the region.

Fourth Iranian naval base opened in Persian Gulf

From Fars News Agency:
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has upgraded a naval base on Iran's Persian Gulf coastline to improve its defensive capabilities.

It is the fourth in a string of IRGC bases along the waterway. IRGC was put in charge of defending Iran's Persian Gulf coast in September.

The new base is in the port of Assalouyeh in Iran's southern Bushehr province. It will control a 190-mile (300-kilometer) stretch of coastline west of the strait between Kish Island and the port of Dayyer.

IRGC's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Morteza Saffari said here [Tehran] on Monday that the US Navy Fifth Fleet and other foreign naval forces were operating near the Sarrallah naval base, which he said was near Assalouyeh on the Persian Gulf coast.

"Therefore, it was necessary to upgrade Sarrallah naval base ... to increase our military capability in case of any instability caused by foreigners in the Persian Gulf," Saffari.

The General also said that the naval base of Assalouyeh would undertake the upgraded "regional" missions in the naval region of "Sarrallah" in "Persian Gulf" to encounter the current threats.

"The naval force of IRGC is ready to face and repel any kind of threat in Persian Gulf," he said, "And their capabilities to confront any possible threat by enemies in the Persian Gulf are increasing day by day."

Iran recently started constructing new naval bases along the coasts of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman for an impenetrable line of defense.

The new bases are supposed to extend from Bandar Abbas, a major Iranian seaport on the Strait of Hormuz, to Pasa Bandar near the Pakistan border, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in October.

"The new mission of the navy is to establish an impenetrable line of defense at the entrance to the Sea of Oman," Sayyari said, adding that the new bases would be constructed rapidly.

ISIS Nuclear Site.

The Institute for Science and International Security has launched a new web site dedicated to Iran’s nuclear program. It can be accessed here. The site’s welcome message is as follows:
This [ISIS] website seeks to make available in a single location a broad array of information about Iran's nuclear program, from its history dating back to the 1960s, to the ongoing swirl of diplomatic activity aimed at halting its uranium enrichment activity, to commercial satellite imagery and ground photos of nuclear-related sites. The Nuclear Sites section provides information and, where available, images, about the many facilities that make up its nuclear program. From the Sky is an interactive tool we have developed using Google maps that allows users to see a broad, annotated overview of Iran's facilities. NuclearIran News offers brief analysis and commentary on recent developments. All ISIS reports on Iran's nuclear program are provided below under the Iran Reports tab. The Documents section contains links to every IAEA report on Iran since 2003, as well as United Nations Security Council resolutions and the texts of various diplomatic initiatives generated by Iran, the European Union and others. The FAQ section answers frequently asked questions about Iran's nuclear program and the nuclear fuel cycle. We invite readers to visit the Links section which lists many other websites and blogs dedicated to Iran and/or issues of nonproliferation.

H/T to Dr. Jeffrey Lewis @ ACW

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Discussions on Iran's Missile Program

Geoffrey Forden at Arms Control Wonk has started a five part series into the details of Iran’s liquid-propellant missile development program. Part one, titled “Whats with the Goop?”, can be accessed here.

Additional commentary at ACW regarding the Sejil ballistic missile is available here and here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Iran converts reserves to gold

From International Herald Tribune:
Iranian newspapers are quoting Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh, a top advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as saying the country has converted its financial reserves into gold.

The papers did not specify how much of Iran's estimated $120 billion in reserves would actually be converted into gold.

The daily Jahan-e-Eghtesad, or Economy World, quoted Samareh on Saturday as saying the decision to buy gold was carried out on Ahmadinejad's order.

The decision comes after a dramatic fall in oil prices. About 80 percent of Iran's foreign revenue comes from oil exports.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Look at the Sejil Launch (video)

The Sejil could be a development of the Ashoura. (Perhaps the Iranians are naming each developmental increment by a new name?) Photos and video of the Ashoura were not included for its launch on November 2007. Jeffrey Lewis at Arms Control Wonk cites sketches of the Ashoura available at MDA that appear roughly similar to the Sejil. Comparisons are also being made to the Pakistani Shaheen II missile.

According to Paul in the comments section at ACW: This missile is completely different from the Shahab variety and represents a significant advance on the part of Iran. A two stage solid fuel missile; distinctly different long and white smoke trail; much faster initial acceleration than Shahab-3; and what appears to be a gimbaled vernier engine for the second stage (same basic design for the Safir satellite launch vehicle). Range is probably more than 2,000 km, or perhaps the warhead weight is heavier than Shahab-3, bringing the range down to “only” 2,000 km.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sejil Missile Launch - Video

Sejil Missile Launch

From Javno:
Iran said it test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile on Wednesday and that the Islamic Republic was ready to defend itself against any attacker.

Iranian Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the Iranian-made surface-to-surface Sejil missile had "extremely high capabilities" and was only intended for defensive purposes.

He said it had a range of close to 2,000 km (1,200 miles), almost as far as another Iranian missile, Shahab 3. That would enable it to reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf.

"This missile test is in the framework of Iran's deterrent doctrine," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

"It will only land on the heads of those enemies ... who want to make an aggression and invade the Islamic Republic," said Najjar, who did not mention any country by name.

Iran's English-language Press TV said the Sejil missile had two stages and was of a type that used combined solid fuel.

Video of test launch available here via LiveLeak.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Samen Missile Launch - Updated

From PressTV:
Iran has successfully test-fired a new domestically-designed and -manufactured missile in line with enhancing its combat capabilities.

The Samen missile was launched Monday during an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) military drill in the border city of Marivan in the Western province of Kurdistan, Iran.

So far, no further details on Samen missiles have been disclosed.


During the Monday maneuver, Iranian forces also put to the test IRGC's heavy and semi-heavy artillery and rocket launchers.

Update: From PressTV:
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) rejects reports of test-firing a newly-designed and domestically- manufactured missile.

Fars news agency had reported on Monday that IRGC had successfully launched a new missile, named Samen, during a military drill in the border city of Marivan.

The public relations office for the IRGC headquarters, however, said in a Tuesday statement that during the Marivan exercise, the forces had not fired any new missiles.

Reading List - November 10, 2008

-The Iran-Saudi Cold War
by James Brazier
Diplomatic Courier

-Iran economists denounce Ahmadinejad’s policies
by Borzou Daragahi
LA Times

-Iran extends an early friendly hand
by Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Asia Times Online

New generation of unmanned aircraft systems and surface vessels

From PressTV:
Iran is set to further boost its military's combat capabilities with new generations of unmanned aircraft systems and surface vessels.

Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Naval Forces, Brigadier General Ali Fadavi, said Monday that the country is mass-producing the new unmanned military systems.

The launch of the large-scale production of new military systems comes in line with Leader of the Islamic Revolution's command to manufacture exclusively-developed equipment to enhance Iran's defense industry in the face of possible threats.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has urged the production of exclusive military hardware for the country, asserting that in order to counter a potential attack Iran should employ weapons the enemy is unfamiliar with.


Pointing to Western war rhetoric, the Iranian commander said constant enemy threats have put the country on a 'war footing'.

In preparation for war threats, Brig. Gen. Fadavi added that 'the IRGC aims to streamline and modernize its combat unit through the use of the new unmanned systems in the Persian Gulf'.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Iran to use AN-140 to Patrol Borders

From Fars News Agency:
Iran will need an additional 20 An-140 turboprop aircraft to ensure effective patrols of its national borders, an Iranian aircraft industry official said.

The Iranian HESA company has so far produced five An-140 passenger planes at a facility in Esfahan under license (as IRAN-140) and eight other aircraft are being assembled by Iranian specialists trained in Russia and Ukraine.

The An-140 is a short-range turboprop airliner, developed by Russia's Antonov design bureau as a replacement for the An-24 series aircraft. It can carry up to 52 passengers or can be used as a patrol or military transport aircraft.

Russia's Antonov aircraft manufacturing company and Ilyushin Finance aircraft leasing company promoted a new Russian-Ukrainian An-148 regional medium-haul passenger jet at the Iranian air show (took place from October 28th to 31st in Kish Island).

Iranian officials stated, though, that the An-148 negotiations had just started and the outcome would depend on the competitiveness of the Ukrainian-Russian plane on the Iranian market.

In its basic modification, the An-148 is designed to carry 70-90 passengers up to 5,000 kilometers. It costs an estimated 20 million dollars to produce, which is cheaper than Sukhoi's Superjet 100 (around 28 million dollars).

Basij Wargames Part 2

Basij Wargames Part 1

Basij Wargames photographed November 2008. Note American new style BDU's on Basij in top picture, while retaining old style American steel helmets.

Iran not happy with Obama’s nuclear remarks

From CNN:
Iran's parliament speaker has criticized U.S. President-elect Barack Obama for saying that Iran's development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.

Ali Larijani said on Saturday Obama should apply his campaign message of change to U.S. dealings with Iran.

"Obama must know that the change that he talks about is not simply a superficial changing of colors or tactics," Larijani said in comments carried by the semi-official Mehr News Agency.

"What is expected is a change in strategy, not the repetition of objections to Iran's nuclear program which will be taking a step in the wrong direction."

In his first post-election news conference Friday afternoon, Obama reiterated that he believes a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable." He also said he would help mount an international effort to prevent it from happening.

Larijani said U.S. behavior toward Iran "will not change so simply," but that Obama's election showed internal conditions in the United States have shifted.

He added that Iran does not mind if the United States provides other Persian Gulf countries with nuclear technology, but "you should know that you cannot prevent the Islamic Republic (from reaching its goals in the nuclear field)," according to the news agency.

Obama cautioned Friday that it had only been a few days since the election and that he was not yet in office.

"Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should simply do in a knee-jerk fashion. I think we've got to think it through," Obama told reporters.

"But I have to reiterate once again that we only have one president at a time. And I want to be very careful that we are sending the right signals to the world as a whole that I am not the president and I won't be until January 20th."

Larijani was speaking two days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated Obama -- the first time an Iranian leader has offered such wishes to a U.S. president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

One analyst said the welcome was a gesture from the hard-line president that he is open to a more conciliatory relationship with the U.S.

Ahmadinejad said Tehran "welcomes basic and fair changes in U.S. policies and conducts," according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency on Thursday.

Relations between the United States and Iran have historically been chilly, and have been further strained in recent years over Iran's nuclear program.

Tehran insists the program exists for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other Western nations are concerned by Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment activities.

There are expectations of improved relations between the US and Iran, with the election of Obama as US president. However, initial signals should be viewed in the context of positioning for negotaiations that are likely to take place some time after Obama assumes office.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Iran to form 'Shadow IRGC'

From PressTV:
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) plans to form a shadow military force by recruiting its retired personnel, an official says.

“The number of retired IRGC personnel is high and we have reestablished contacts with them through holding meetings,” the Commander of the IRGC Navy, Admiral Morteza Saffari told Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

“We are trying to form a 'Shadow Corps' comprised of these forces, most of whom have fought in the Iraq-Iran war,” he added.

Saffari said the Iranian armed forced should always keep its deterrence power against the country's enemies.

The Iranian official also revealed that state-of-the-art missiles have been deployed in some port cities to defend the country.

Ahmadinejad congratulates Obama

From PressTV:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a message to the US President-elect Barack Obama, has congratulated him on his victory.

"I congratulate your Excellency on receiving the majority of votes in the [presidential] election. You know that the opportunities given by the God to the people are transitory, they could be used for the progress of the people or against them. I am hopeful that by preferring the real needs of the people over the the insatiable demands of a selfish and corrupt minority, you take the chance and make a good name for yourself in history," Ahmadinejad said in his message.

"... the world's nations expect that [US] policies based on warmongering, occupation, bullying, deceit, humiliation of other nations and, discriminating and unfair relations that has led to the hatred of the US rulers by all the nations and most of the world governments, would turn into a behavior based on justice, respect for the rights of [other] people and nations, friendship and noninterference in others' affairs," the message said.

The Iranian president also called on the United States to limit its interference to its own borders.

"... and in particular, in the sensitive Middle East region, it is expected that the 60-year-old unjust behavior [of the US] would change into giving back the nations especially, the innocent Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan people their full rights."

Democrat Barack Obama defeated his Republican rival John McCain by a wide margin in the US presidential election on November 4, to become the first African-American to assume the Oval Office.

Many believe that the election of Barack Obama has raised prospects of 'change' in US policy. Obama, with 'Change We Need' being his campaign slogan, has promised to make a change for the better in the United States and the world.

The great Iranian nation welcomes fundamental, just and real changes in the [US] policies and behavior particularly in the Middle East region, Ahmadinejad stated.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Iran: Obama victory sign of Bush failure

From China View:

Senior Iranian officials Wednesday made comments on the result of U.S. presidential election, saying that the victory of Democratic candidate Senator Barak Obama is a sign of failure of President George W. Bush.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Obama's election as the U.S. president shows the Americans demand for essential changes, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The U.S. people demand essential changes in both the country's domestic and foreign policies, Mottaki was quoted as saying.

The new U.S. government should recognize the Americans' demand to distance itself from the wrong approaches of the current U.S. administration, he added.

Iran's Majlis (Parliament) First Vice-Speaker, Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard made similar remarks while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Majlis formal session.

The victory of Obama who is a Democrat, was a sign of failure of the Republicans, Aboutorabi-Fard said.

He urged Obama to take lessons from the failed and wrong policies of George W. Bush in the Middle East and adopt correct policy toward the Middle East.

Such amendments to the U.S. approach can play a key role in the future of relations between the United States and Asia as a whole, and the Middle East in particular, Aboutorabi-Fard was quoted by IRNA as saying.

"If Washington adopts appropriate policies with due attention to the global realities, it can improve its relations with the regional countries and the Muslim world," he said.

The U.S. policies such as wrong approach towards Iran's peaceful nuclear program, unconditional support for Israel and invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in the U.S. isolation from the international community, he added.

A senior advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei also considered Obama's victory in U.S. presidential election as a token of failure of the Bush administration.

"The American people have to change their policies in order to get rid of the quagmire made by President Bush for them," Haddad Adel, former Iranian Majlis (Parliament) Speaker was quoted by IRNA as saying.

"The next U.S. president should abandon the course taken by President Bush so far," he added.


During his campaign in August, Obama called for enhancing diplomatic pressures on Iran before Israel feels "cornered," saying that he is committed to "tightening the screws diplomatically on Iran" once elected as president, before Israel feels that "its back is against the wall."

In his first debate with McCain, Obama said the United States had to enter tough direct talks with the Iranians as attempts to isolate Tehran only speed up its progress toward nuclearization

Obama’s victory and a warning from Iran

BBC News is reporting that Iran has issued a warning against US helicopters flying too close to its airspace. It warned that it would “take down” any overflying aircraft not responding to warnings.

”US army helicopters have been spotted flying close to the borders of Iraq with the Islamic republic," an armed forces headquarters statement said.


An Iranian politician quoted by Reuters said the statement seems to have been timed with the election victory of Barack Obama, suggesting they are "not very happy".

This is because Iran's hardline leaders thrive on confrontation with the US, correspondents say, and Mr Obama has spoken about the possibility of opening direct political dialogue with Tehran.

"This is a clear message to the American president-elect because radicals are not very happy that Obama has been elected," the politician is quoted saying, speaking anonymously.

The hardliners not being pleased with the results is one interpretation. Another is that the Iranians are concerned about a potential military strike against Iran during the last days of the Bush Administration, something that has been discussed at length in the international press.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Stealth Micro Subs

From China View:
Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said on Tuesday that Iranian experts had produced new stealth micro submarines, vessels and lightweight aircraft, the English-language Press TV reported.

The new military developments come in line with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's order to develop exclusively made equipment to enhance the country's defense industry in face of possible threats, Mohammad Najjar said.

"Militarily-empowered countries can easily maintain their stability and independence," he said.

Khamenei on Saturday called for the production of exclusive military hardware for the country, asserting that in order to counter a potential attack, Iran should employ weapons the enemy is unfamiliar with.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rigi reportedly wounded in clashes

From PressTV:
The ringleader of Jundallah terrorist group, Abdolmalek Rigi, has reportedly been seriously wounded in clashes on the Iran-Pakistan border.

Several militants from the Jundallah terrorist cell were also killed in the Sunday clashes.

"Four top members of Jundallah were killed and ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi was seriously injured in clashes with Iranian forces on the border of Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province with Pakistan on Sunday," Fars news agency quoted Samaa TV on Monday.

Pakistani news sources confirm that the clashes have occurred but have so far publicized no information on whether Rigi has been apprehended.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hezbollah orders Russian ATGMs

DEBKA file is reporting that a Hezbollah delegation made its way to Moscow, where it was treated to a demonstration of Russian ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles). Reportedly, they ordered 3,000 missiles of various types, to be paid for by Iran.

Several weeks ago, DEBKAfile reported that Syria had supplied the Shiite group with anti-air missiles supported by radar stations. They are already deployed on two Lebanese peaks, Mt. Sannine and Jebel Barukh, which Hizballah controls.

If these reports are accurate, it would signal an enhancement of defensive military strength for Hezbollah.

Leader urges technological breakthrough for arms industry

From Press TV:
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has urged Iranian experts to make a technological breakthrough in the country's defense industry.

Iran's Deputy Army Commander Brigadier General Abdolrahim Moussavi said Saturday that Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in a new command, had called for exclusively-developed military equipment.

"One method to win an all-out war is to employ weapons which the enemy is unfamiliar with," Brig. Gen. Moussavi said.

The Iranian official also announced that 109 types of innovative military equipment had been added to the Iranian arsenal over the past two years, a few of which were displayed during the country's recent maneuvers.

The report comes as earlier in August, the Leader called for concerted efforts to further upgrade and promote the Iranian Air Force fleet to counter Western threats of an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Brig. Gen. Moussavi cautioned that Iran has a better geopolitical and strategic advantage over the enemy in the event of an attack on Iranian soil.

'Different locations outside Iranian borders have been chosen as targets and should the occasion arise Iran's Armed Forces will strike these bases,' said the Iranian commander.

Khamenei seems to be addressing the point that Iran's achievements in military arms production are all pretty much based on existing platforms, such as the T-55 tank and F-5 fighter-bomber. Iran is currently mulling an expansion of its military budget and now a technological breakthrough in arms is being urged by the Leader. This, when the price of crude oil has dropped below $70 a barrel. Where will the money come from to accomplish these goals?

Reading List - November 2, 2008

Stuart Levy’s War
by Robin Wright
New York Times

Some Israelis feel an urgency to attack Iran
by Ashraf Khalil and Paul Richter
LA Times

The impending strike on Iran
by David Fink
Asia Times Online

Friday, October 31, 2008

Kish Air Show Gallery

Tragedy at the Kish Air Show

From IRNA:
The 54-year-old German pilot of a plane crashed on the Persian Gulf island of Kish has been killed.

The ultra-light plane crashed while performing air maneuver in the Fourth International Iran Kish Air Shows.

The pilot lost control of the ultra-light aircraft and lost his life as it hit Kish Airport runway.

Over 100 companies from Iran, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Canada, France, China, and a number other counties were participating in the Show.

The exhibition opened on Tuesday and ran until October 31.

More than 80 light and ultra-light planes were among the aircraft on display in the Kish exhibition.

The Show came on the heel of three previous such successful shows organized by the Kish Trade Promotion Center fully supported by Kish Free Zone Organization in cooperation of the Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (CAO-IRI).

A large number of domestic companies active in the aviation, aerospace, airlines and other related industries, manufacturers, research institutes and universities as well as foreign companies took part at the show.

It exhibited vast range of products, systems and services in the aviation and aerospace fields.

The event received a warm welcome from the traders and specialists.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Iranian interest in the Antonov-148 jet

From PressTV:
A senior Ukrainian official has revealed that Iran is to purchase and later produce a version of the Ukrainian-made Antonov airplanes.

Dmitro Kiva, chairman of the Kiev-headquarters of the Antonov Aerospace Company, announced that Iran "will fully participate" in the subsequent production of Antonov-148 mid-range passenger jet, Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday.

The An-148, developed in Ukraine during the 1990s, is a twin-engine high-wing passenger plane designed for operation at rough airfields.

The Ukrainian official stated that the Iranian national aviation authorities are holding talks with their Ukrainian counterparts to make a version of An-148 which would be suitable for Iran's terrain.

"The Iranians are absolutely interested, they want to go forward on this," Kiva said.

Some 16 Russian and Ukrainian airlines and Cuba's national Cubania de Aviacion have voiced willingness to purchase An-148 once its production has begun.

The price for an An-148 once in production line would be between 18 and 22 million dollars depending on configuration, according to the Antonov Company.

New naval bases on Oman Sea coast

From PressTV:
Iran plans to build new naval bases along the Sea of Oman coast, east of the Strait of Hormuz to boost its military control over the Persian Gulf.

The Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Wednesday establishing an impenetrable defense line in the east of the Strait of Hormuz is in line with the Iranian Navy's new mission which is to maintain its powerful presence in the Persian Gulf region.

Sayyari added that the new bases would be soon built along the Iranian coastline from Bandar Abbas to Pasa Bandar.

"Should the enemy commit a foolish move, it will be sent into the depths of the Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman before reaching the Strait of Hormuz and entering the Persian Gulf," Sayyari said.

An estimated 40 percent of the world's oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which is the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

Iran has warned it could block the strategic strait, if its enemies dare to raise a military attack over its nuclear program.

Inaugurating a new naval base at the strategic port of Jask earlier this week, Iran's Deputy Army Commander Brigadier General Abdolrahim Moussavi said, "In the past, our military had to brace itself for countering regional enemies but today we are faced with extra-regional threats."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tough Talk from Iran after US raid into Syria

From Fars News Agency:
Iranian defense officials Tuesday said the armed forces of the country were ready to deal with enemy threats, specifically in electronic warfare.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar spoke of the technological developments of the nation's armed forces at a presentation at Malek Ashtar University of Technology in Isfahan.

He noted the military was in full combat readiness on all fronts, adding forces were ready to deal with any intimidation.

"We are ready to seriously deal with the enemies' threats in all areas, mainly in electronic warfare," he said.

Speaking of the global economy, Najjar said the world reaction to the crisis was a testament to the declining influence of Washington.

"We are witnessing that the world public opinion hates the United States," he said.

His comments follow earlier statements made by Mehdi Karroubi, an Iranian presidential candidate with the National Confidence Party, who said Tehran could repair relations with the United States if Washington "abandons its hegemonic objectives" in the region.

Other Iranian military officials also warned this week against a unilateral strike on the Islamic Republic in the wake of a US raid against Syria.

Deputy Army Commander Brigadier General Abdul-Rahim Mousavi told reporters on Tuesday that the time has come for the enemy to acknowledge Iran's defense capabilities.

"Recognition of Iran's naval mastery has traveled beyond the country's southern waters, and has reached the far ends of the Indian Ocean," said Brig. Gen. Mousavi.

The Iranian commander stressed that giant Western aircraft carriers and battleships do not intimidate world nations as they once did.

In a Tuesday statement, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' (IRGC) naval commander, Admiral Morteza Saffari said that Iran's navy has been reorganized and is ready to defend the nation against all threats.

"Iran's naval forces will make sure that the enemy will live to regret any act of aggression against the Islamic Republic," said Admiral Saffari.

Acting IRGC commander Mohammad Hejazi, meanwhile, vowed on Tuesday that Iran's armed forces would shield the nation from invaders and defend the Islamic Republic's national interest.

"IRGC forces have the determination and experience to guard Iran's national interests," said Brig. Gen. Hejazi.

"They (the enemy) should learn from the mistakes of the past and realize that Iran is unlike any other country in the Middle East," he added.

New generation Saegeh fighter planes

From PressTV:
A senior Iranian defense official says the country has successfully produced a new generation of Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) fighter jets.

The General Manager of Iran's Aviation Industry Organization in the Defense Ministry, Majid Hedayat, said Wednesday that the organization would soon launch a mass production line for the new fighter jets.

"The new generation of Saeqeh fighters are equipped with additional facilities and capabilities," Fars News Agency quoted Hedayat as saying.

Iran test flied the first generation of the home-manufactured 'Saeqeh' fighter jets in September 2007.

Hedayat added that Iranian experts have also produced other military planes, which would later join the Air Force squadron for naval patrolling purposes.

Interesting to see if the new generation of Saegeh will outnumber the low quantity production line of the last generation.

Kamov Ka-32A to be manufactured in Iran

From PressTV:

Russia has agreed to commence cooperation with Iran on mass producing semi-heavy choppers in the country, an Iranian official says.

The deal will see Russian firm Kamov cooperate with Iran's Aerospatiale Industries Organization (AIO) on designing and producing civilian helicopters.

"Under the agreement, more than 50 helicopters including in a new and civil design of the Kamov Ka-32A will be manufactured inside Iran," the CEO of the AIO, Majid Hedayat, said Wednesday.

The Kamov Ka-32A is a compact air transporter, capable of operating without ground support. It is designed for search and rescue missions as well as medical and emergency evacuation, loading and unloading ships at sea, and offshore operations.

The announcement comes a day after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the newly imposed US sanctions on Russian state arms trader Rosoboronexport would not stop Moscow from engaging in military cooperation with Tehran.

The US State Department announced on Thursday that it had taken punitive measures against Rosoboronexport for allegedly providing sensitive technology to Iran.

A Kamov official said earlier in October that the firm, established about 60 years ago for the development and production of helicopters, was set to sign a contract with Iran before the end of the year.

Sergei Mikheyev, the general designer at Kamov, said the contract might be similar to a Tupolev deal reached last August, in which Iran ordered more than 100 Tu-204 airliners on the condition that Iran eventually license-produces the aircraft.