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