Sunday, March 29, 2009
Gates said the best way to stop Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is through expansion of the current economic sanctions. He did not elaborate whether the administration was seriously thinking of severe sanctions, such as stopping the gasoline exports to Iran or oil exports from the country.
It appears that Obama administration has shelved military plans and is adopting a policy of tough economic sanctions coupled with power diplomacy in its dealings with Iran.
Iranian Embassy in Tokyo issued a statement rejecting the claim. The Embassy said Sankei Shimbun report was “politically-motivated,” and rejected any missile or military cooperation between Iran and the North Korea [IRNA, 29 March].
Sankei Shimbun said the Iranian delegation included senior officials with Iranian rocket and satellite producer Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group.
The Iranians reportedly brought a letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il stressing the importance of cooperating on space technology [Sankei Shimbun, 29 March].
Pyongyang announced last month that it would launch satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 into orbit as part of its space program sometime between April 4 and April 8. The US, South Korea, and Japan maintain that North Korea has plans to test a long-range missile -- the Taepodong-2.
The USS McCain and the USS Chafee warships joined Japanese and South Korean warships in the Sea of Japan on Thursday. Pyongyang has warned that shooting down its rocket would be regarded as an act of war.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
“They say they have extended their hands toward Iran. We say if the US is hiding an iron fist inside a velvet glove, extending their hands has no meaning for us.”
“Even in this [Norouz] congratulatory message, the Iranian nation is called pro-terrorist and pro-proliferation of nuclear arms. Is this congratulations, or same old accusations?”
“Supporting separatist and terrorist movements was always a US policy to undermine the Islamic Republic, and we have reliable intelligence that the US is continuing its dealings with the terrorists in the border areas of Iran and Pakistan.”
“In resolving the issues we face, the Iranian nation will act with logic and out of [political] calculations, not with emotions.”
“You need to show more than just a change in your vocabulary. Have you unfrozen Iranian funds? Have you stopped the sanctions? Have you stopped [anti-Iran] dirty propaganda? Have you ended all-out support of the Zionist regime?”
Source: www.leader.com; 21 March 2009
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a huge crowd gathered in Mashhad today that his support of the sitting president and his policies to help the poor and fight the global domination should not be interpreted as support for his reelection bid during the upcoming presidential elections.
“My words and actions [in support of government policies] have nothing to do with the elections and do not represent an endorsement.” [21 March, www.leader.ir]
The comments today by Khamenei were an attempt to distance himself from wide-spread belief that he was strongly siding with Ahmadinejad. At one point he had said that Ahmadinejad’s current four-year term as president should not be considered as his last.
Khamenei’s comment will help Hossein Mousavi, a former premier running against Ahmadinejad, with a solid reputation of being a “principlist” on upholding the original goals of the revolution. Ironically, during his long tenure as premier, Mousavi was at odds with Khamenei, who was serving as president, attempting to limit his influence. Mousavi abandoned politics when Khamenei became the leader.
Mousavi’s puritan image and his independence have also brought him a reformist label. Former reformist president Ayatollah Khatami withdrew his candidacy for the 12 June presidential elections in support of Mousavi, putting him I a strong position to gather support from both the reformist and principlist camps.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered submarine, and USS New Orleans, an amphibious ship, collided in the Strait of Hormuz early Friday morning. The collision, taking place in one of the world’s most important sea passages, slightly injured 15 sailors and created a heavy diesel spill in the Persian Gulf. One of the New Orleans’s fuel tanks ruptured, causing the spill. There was no report of damage to the submarine’s nuclear propulsion system.
VIDEOTAPED REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN CELEBRATION OF NOWRUZ
THE PRESIDENT: Today I want to extend my very best wishes to all who are celebrating Nowruz around the world.
This holiday is both an ancient ritual and a moment of renewal, and I hope that you enjoy this special time of year with friends and family.
In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place.
Here in the United States our own communities have been enhanced by the contributions of Iranian Americans. We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.
For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained. But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together. Indeed, you will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays -- by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope.
Within these celebrations lies the promise of a new day, the promise of opportunity for our children, security for our families, progress for our communities, and peace between nations. Those are shared hopes, those are common dreams.
So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.
You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create.
So on the occasion of your New Year, I want you, the people and leaders of Iran, to understand the future that we seek. It's a future with renewed exchanges among our people, and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce. It's a future where the old divisions are overcome, where you and all of your neighbors and the wider world can live in greater security and greater peace.
I know that this won't be reached easily. There are those who insist that we be defined by our differences. But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: "The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence."
With the coming of a new season, we're reminded of this precious humanity that we all share. And we can once again call upon this spirit as we seek the promise of a new beginning.
Thank you, and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Friday 20 March is the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian New Year, Norouz.
Norouz is celebrated not only in Iran, but also in Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
May the Norouz bring happiness for you and yours and peace on earth!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
By Liam F. Devlin
-Iran seeks technology boost from Western UAVs
By Liam F. Devlin
-Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran's Nuclear Development Facilities
By Abdullah Toukan and Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic & International Studies
Monday, March 16, 2009
The Prime Minister added that Iran faced a “clear choice,” giving up its nuclear program or facing “further and tougher” action.
Brown made his remarks during a speech today at a conference on nuclear proliferation in London.
“Iran has concealed nuclear activities, refused to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and flouted United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“Its refusal to play by the rules leads us to view its nuclear program as a critical proliferation threat.” [The Mirror, 17 March].
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The news got more intriguing when at 4pm Tehran’s time (9am EST), Mousavi visited Karrubi at his Tehran residence. Mousavi is said to be ready to drop out of the race, making Karrubi the consensus candidate of the reformist camp.
This week, Karrubi announced an ambitious plan to “re-nationalize” Iran’s oil industry, creating a public trust with all Iranian citizens over the age of 18 having one share. The trust will eventually control the country’s oil and gas revenues.
Karrubi’s proposal closely resembles the plan for creating a national unit trust, with Iranian citizens as its shareholder, proposed in 2005 by this writer and his colleagues. The trust management was proposed to be elected by the public, its shareholders. The trust would control the oil and gas revenues, paying income tax to the government and using the bulk of its revenues on investing in business ventures to create development projects for the country.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
From Fars News Agency:
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force has started manufacturing a quick reaction tank named "Tosan", a senior Iranian military official said here Saturday.
"Modernizing the engine and fire-control systems of Tank T55 have been completed successfully," Head of the self-sufficiency unit of the IRGC Ground Force, Colonel Nasser Arab Beigi told FNA.
"The self-sufficiency unit has so far accomplished two tank projects. One of them was modernization of T55 which was done by the unit in previous years," Arab Beigi reiterated, adding that different parts of the tank, including the engine and fire-control systems, have been modernized in the project.
Regarding the second project, the colonel noted, "Manufacturing a quick reaction tank called Tosan was the second project." Arab Beigi further pointed out that his unit is now working on 4 other projects for manufacturing anti-armors for IRGC Special Forces and commando units.
Above photo by Nestor @ Military.ir
The Long War Journal is reporting the capture of three Iranian Qods Force agents in Iraq.
Iraqi security forces captured three members of Qods Force, Iran's special operations branch, during a raid in Diyala province.
“The three were arrested inside al-Khalis district, north of Baaquba city,” an Iraqi official told Voices of Iraq.
The report goes on to state that "reports of raids and detentions against the Iranian-backed Shia [paramilitary] groups have declined since the start of the New Year after a flurry of activity in 2007 and 2008".
Friday, March 13, 2009
An Iranian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 crashed at Mehrabad International Airport. It had reported a technical malfunction. The pilot and co-pilot managed a successful ejection from the plane.
File photo by Amir Mahdavi
Update: This news item has become a source of controversy. It may have originated from a section of Fars News where they recycle what happened last year on this day. It was later removed from the headlines of PressTV.
Update II: Below is a video of last year's Su-24 crash at THR. It has been reported by Tom Cooper that this Fencer has actually been repaired and is "back in business".
Update III: The Iranian Air Force has rejected the news about an Su-24 crash on March 13, 2009. From PressTV:
Iran's Air Force has rejected reports claiming that one of its fighter jets has crashed at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport.
"The Air Force rejects the overall contents of the news report," the Air Force said in an official statement released on Saturday.
On Friday, Iranian news outlets had reported that a Russian-built Sukhoi Su-24 had crashed in Mehrabad after reporting a technical hitch.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Iran has built an array of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. The pneumatically-launched Ababil ("Swallow") has a wingspan of more than 10 feet, and cruises at 160 knots, according to Globalsecurity.org. The Mohajer or Misrad ("Migrant") drone is a bit smaller, and slower-flying.
Iran has supplied Hezbollah, with both models. Misrad drones flew reconnaissance missions in both November 2004 and April 2005. Then, in 2006, during Hezbollah's war with Israel, the group operated both Misrads and Ababils over Israel's skies. At least one was shot down by Israeli fighter jets.
Since then, Tehran claims to have radically upgraded its unmanned fleet. In 2007, Iran said it built a drone with a range of 420 miles. Then, in February, Iran's deputy defense minister claimed its latest UAV could now fly as far as 600 miles -- a huge improvement over crude drones like the Misrad, if true. Iran often exaggerates what its weapons can do. But, if this drone really can stay in the air for for that long, the Washington Times notes, "it could soar over every U.S. military installation, diplomatic mission or country of interest in the Middle East." Including those in Iraq.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
A U.S. official said the incident occurred Jan. 19 and 20, when the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk, which originated in Iran, was boarded in the Red Sea by the USS San Antonio. The ship was ordered to port in Cyprus, where authorities there found 1,980 wooden cases of powder for 130mm guns and 1,320 cases of powder and powder pellets for 125mm guns, according to a Cypriot government report.
Also discovered were 60 barrels full of 39mm shells, 810 cases of propellant for 125mm guns and eight cases of 120mm mortar components, the report said. Three of the 98 containers onboard were too heavy to move and still haven't been searched, the report said. The munitions are being stored on Cyprus.
In a March, 2007 resolution, the Security Council imposed an arms export embargo on Iran. The resolution suggests that embargo violations can be punished by non-military measures "such as complete or partial interruption of economic relations and ... the severance of diplomatic relations."
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
By Farideh Farhi
Informed Comment: Global Affairs
-Ahmadinejad really is the man in charge
By Shahir Shahidsaless
Asia Times Online
-Iran's anti-Israel rhetoric targets Arabs
By Gareth Porter
Asia Times ONline
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Earlier today, Fars News Agency reported that Iran has also test fired an “air-to-sea” missile with a range of 110km.
“The air-to-surface missile, weighing 500kg, can hit and destroy maritime targets up to 110 kilometers in distance,” Iranian Armed Forces officials told Fars [Fars News Agency, 8 March].
The automatic guidance capability of the missile and its special warhead designed for destroying major maritime targets were said to be among the important features of the missile. But the accuracy of the missile is not verified by defense analysts.
The Press TV announcement of test-firing of a new “long-range” missile, however, was the real story today. If the report is accurate, the timing of the test comes at a grave period in Iran-Israel relations.
On Wednesday, IRGC Commander MG Mohammad Ali Jafari said that all Israeli nuclear sites are within the reach of Iranian missiles. No other senior Iranian military officers had ever made such claim on Iranian offensive capabilities. The test-firing of a new long-range missile today gives credence to Gen. Jafari’s announcement.
Update: Concerning the new air-to-surface missile:
Weight is heavier than a Kowsar or Nasr. The range of the missile cited is also greater.
The Fars report in Farsi describes a "fire and forget" capability.
There is a history of development for Iran's air-to-surface missile programs. Iranian F-4 Phantoms and Su-24 Fencers have been adapted as platforms to launch Tondar and Noor missiles. In addition, Iranian F-5s have been adapted to launch Kowsar missiles. This latest test could possibly be that of an upgraded Nasr missile.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Top to bottom:
- IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Morteza Saffari
- Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) General Mohammad Hejazi
- Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Air Force Brigadier General Hossein Salami
- Police Chief Brigadier General Esmaeil Ahmadi Moqaddam
- Deputy Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi
Thursday, March 5, 2009
From the Washington Institute's summary:
Preventing a Cascade of Instability: U.S. Engagement to Check Iranian Nuclear Progress is the final report of The Washington Institute's Presidential Task Force on Iranian Proliferation, Regional Security, and U.S. Policy, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission of diplomats, legislators, strategists, scholars, and experts. The task force recommends that the Obama administration act urgently to prevent Iran's nuclear progress from triggering a cascade of instability throughout the Middle East, as such a development could threaten U.S. interests in both regional security and global nonproliferation efforts. Endorsers of the report include key Obama administration officials such as Undersecretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn and Dennis Ross, the administration's point man on Iran and the Gulf.
The task force warns that, without strong U.S. leadership, countries in the Middle East may accommodate Iran, attack it, or try to match its new capabilities. The way forward, the report argues, is for Washington to engage Tehran while at the same time increasing diplomatic leverage on the Iranian leadership, including incentives. This would involve closer consultation and coordination with allies, as well as reinforced security measures and tougher international sanctions.
According to the report, now is the time for the United States to promote a policy of "resist and deter" rather than "acquiesce and deter" within the international community. Assertive action now to build U.S. leverage is more likely to prevent Iran's emergence as a military nuclear power. But time is short if diplomatic engagement is to have a chance of success and military confrontation avoided. Iran continues to produce enriched uranium, of which it already has a sufficient amount -- if processed further -- for a bomb.
The Middle East is looking for strong U.S. leadership and reenergized relationships. Vigorous steps to bolster regional defense cooperation could enhance stability and serve to check regional perceptions that U.S. influence is weakening. As part of the solution to the impasse, Washington could propose measures that would also serve to shore up the global nonproliferation system.
Available for download here.
Update: Book Review by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi available here.
“Issuance of such an arrest warrant is violation of international laws,” Hassan Qashqavi, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, said today in Tehran. The arrest warrant, Qashqavi claimed, “violates sovereignty and immunity of statesmen worldwide, runs counter to Vienna convention of 1961 and is an unacceptable practice for international community” [Press TV, 5 March].
Bringing criminal charges against a sitting head of state provides precedent for future ICC actions against other leaders vulnerable to similar charges.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
-Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari
"The enemy boasts about its equipments, including bulletproof body armor, for confronting us, but Iranian scientists in the research centers of the armed forces and the defense ministry have developed a bullet that can penetrate the armor."
-IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Morteza Saffari
"The enemy may be more advanced than us in their equipment but equipment is just one dimension of military power, and spirit and tactics are more important than equipment."
-Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) General Mohammad Hejazi
"Military Experts are working on a radar-evading aircraft and God willing its test flight will be done in the first half of the next (Iranian) year (beginning on March 20)."
-Iranian Air Force Commander Brigadier General Hassan Shahsafi
By Sean O'Connor
IMINT & Analysis
-Iran missiles can reach Israel atom sites: commander
By Zahra Hosseinian and Edmund Blair
-IAEA 'mismanagement' raises Tehran's ire
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Asia Times Online
“All the nuclear facilities in different parts of the land under the occupation of the Zionist regime are in the reach of Iran's missile defenses,” Jafari said [ISNA, 4 March].
Jafari is the most powerful military officer in Iran and the country’s missile force is under his direct command. This is the first time that he has publicly made such claim.
The announcement was surprising as it could play into the hands of Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu of Israel who is trying to form a government with a strong anti-Iranian stand.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Back then, I expected to have few readers, perhaps some friends and family. But Internet is a serious business. These days, the blog is visited by more than 500 readers (unique visitors) a day; by no means a big number in the cyberspace, but probably not a bad start for a little blog on Iran written not in Farsi but in English. Yesterday, we had more than 1,500 visitors, and more than 4,000 page loads, with Admiral Mullen’s comments on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the arrest in Tehran of the journalist Roxna Saberi generating lots of interests, and with Hoffingtonpost.com and CNN.com linking Uskowi on Iran to their coverage of those breaking stories.
The biggest thing that happened to us last year, however, was the arrival of Mark Pyruz on 19 April to become the co-author and the co-administrator of the blog. Mark brings to the table a depth of knowledge on Iran and specifically on Iranian military development that is unparalleled in the field today. His first post, Iran Air Force Photo Gallery, and the subsequent Iranian military photo/video galleries, have become points of reference for the students of Iranian military, and are continually visited by hundreds of readers each day.
Mark acts as our military analyst, and I try to comment on the political implications of the country’s nuclear and military developments and its internal politics, acting as the political analyst if you will. This year we are hoping to have other authors joining us to concentrate on economic and social issues facing Iran, Insha’Allah!
Mark joins me to thank you all for your readership, your comments and your support. It’s great to follow issues facing Iran together with you all. Please post comments or email us on how we can improve this blog going forward.
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatkov said today that Iran is in “full compliance” with IAEA safeguard and security regulations to start the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNP) [Ettelaat, 3 March].
BNP, a 1,000-megawatt light water reactor, under construction since 1974, is finally expected to start generating power later this year. Iranian and Russian nuclear engineers began a test run of the reactor in mid-February.
Pro-Saudi TV network Al Arabiya emphasized remarks by the Saudi Foreign Minister, saying that Arab states are facing the threat of Iran’s influence in the region and its nuclear program [Al Arabiya, 3 March].
Prince Saud’s remark of the “Iranian challenge” is the first direct statement against Iran from a senior Saudi official in years. It is to set the stage for an anti-Iran Doha summit.
Monday, March 2, 2009
“All this talk is baseless,” Ghashghavi said, referring to Mullen’s statement [IRNA, 2 March].
Sunday, March 1, 2009
[CNN Photo, 1 March 2009]
“We think they do, quite frankly,” Mullen said when asked by King whether Iran has enough nuclear material to make a bomb. "Iran having a nucler weapon, I believe, for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world," Mullen continued.
This is the first time that the most senior officer in the US military has given such critical estimate on Iran’s nuclear capability.