Thursday, September 30, 2010

Iranian rial dives so whom to believe the western media or the western media?

By Amir Taheri

Headlines blazing Iranian rial dives as sanctions start to bite, were seen from the Financial Times and Washington Post, as if a delighted bully setting a trap on a younger student and finally having his trap spring and cause pain. In those same articles once you start to read into the details, you notice that the article itself has little evidence of sanctions playing a factor for the reduction of the rials sudden value drop. They claim instead after talking to sources in Iran that this move was caused by the Central Bank withholding foreign currency to exchange houses and as more businesses started receiving the reply “we are currently low on dollars and euros” the price did what it always does when supply is reduced and increased. They further go on to explain this was a good way for the Central Bank to come back and sell their foreign currency at a higher price thereby making a profit to plug a budget gap for this year.

So are sanctions “biting” or was this a plan to make a quick buck before the subsidies removal kicks in? Well if you believe the two above news outlets, the reasons for the quick reduction in rials value were not due to sanctions biting. But, is Iran introducing a 2-tier currency system? Iran had such a system in the 90’s and moved away from this as it brought imports under control and hard currency started piling up in the state coffers after the oil boom. Iran still maintains anywhere between 80 billion to 100 billion dollars in foreign currency reserves so there is no lack of it to sell to exchange houses. Yesterday the Central Bank announced it was offering as of today unlimited foreign currency and gold to bring prices under control. Iran has also been planning to remove 3-4 zeros off of the rial to make life easier for Iranians and has brought inflation under control before this plan can be implemented so it would be a huge reversal to all of a sudden change directions and allow for a 2-tier exchange system now. Especially since it has spent nearly the last decade ensuring that the rial has no huge price fluctuations in value.

I have been reading such headlines for the past couple months and expect to read many more in the months to come as the western media continues with its media propaganda. President Ahmadinejad should not have been surprised when in his last interview with Fox news in New York the interviewer seemed angry at him and Ahmadinejad asked, “you seem to be yelling at me, are you not fair and balanced as a reporter or are you working for the US government?”

Financial Times article: Iran’s rial dives as sanctions bite

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dual Exchange Rate: A Possibility? - UPDATE

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has continued keeping the official exchange rate at around 1,000 toumans (10,000 rials) per dollar. This in spite of a sharp drop in rial’s value in Tehran’s exchange markets in the past two days. On Tuesday, rial hit an all-time low of 12,950 per dollar, a 19% drop in value against dollar, although it recovered somewhat on Wednesday, quoted above the 12,100 mark.

Unless the CBI intervenes on Thursday by injecting huge amounts of dollars to defend its official rate, or devaluate rial altogether, we might expect another period of dual exchange rates in Iran, the official rate set by CBI, and the commercial rate set in the exchange markets.

The unexpected free fall in rial’s value on Tuesday took many observers by surprise. Although many experts were expecting a gradual devaluation of rial as a result of severe financial sanctions against the country, the magnitude of rial’s drop could signal a near panic in Iran’s financial markets.


UPDATE: On Saturday 2 October, CBI raised its official rial-dollar exchange rate to 10,690 rials per dollar, effectively a 5% devaluation of the official rate that was previously set at 10,200 rials.

New Monograph on the Ideological-Political Training of Iran's Basij

By Mark Pyruz

A new monograph is being offered by the Crown Center for Middle East, an element of Brandeis University, itself a predominantly jewish school of higher learning, titled The Ideological-Political Training of Iran's Basij by Dr. Saeid Golkar. It is available as a Scribd or download, here.

From the beginning, the author depicts the Basij role as being used by "the Iranian government to crush and eventually control opposition demonstrations." He makes no mention of the fact that the bulk and direction of law enforcement efforts during this time period came from NAJA police forces, and not the Basij.

Indeed, the entire effort is skewed toward the "combatting internal strife" role of the Basij, as if the challenges facing Iran were taking place in a vacuum. That is to say, nowhere in this monograph is there an objective reading of the cold war, soft war, economic war and externally encouraged ethnic terror war being directed against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the role of this conflict in shaping Iranian efforts toward safeguarding their nation from threat. That their efforts are more expansive and acute than somewhat corresponding efforts by US Homeland Security volunteers (and cadre forces), organized at the local level in the wake of 9/11, is only a measure of how severe a threat this segment of Iran believes it is facing.

Nonetheless, there is a noteworthy level of detail in this monograph- focusing on IPT- that deserves further study and comment.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bavar-2 flying boats delivered to IRGCN

Amended: 9/29/10

click photos to enlarge

Bavar-2 flying boat takes to the air

IRGCN flying boat at sea

IRGCN flying boat squadron

Note dolly setup on land (non-amphibian)


Vahid Reza Alaei at FARS News Agency
Islamic Republic News Agency

Iran Denies “Stuxnet” Attack on Bushehr Nuclear Facility

The Iranian government has denied published reports that the advanced cyber worm “Stuxnet” has compromised the computers at the country’s first nuclear reactor in Bushehr. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran today that the report was part of propaganda against Iran.

On Sunday, the project manager at Bushehr plant had told Iranian news agency IRNA that the facility was indeed infected by “Stuxnet” but no significant harm had been done.

The computer worm surfaced more than a year ago. It exploited gaps in Windows operating systems to attack very specific Siemens software used to operate industrial machinery. The Siemens system and the Windows-based software are used at Bushehr, and more importantly at Natanz uranium enrichment plant. Experts now suspect that the worm was not aimed at Siemens machineries in general but it was created specifically to target the nuclear facility at Natanz.

Strait of Hormuz Carpeted!

Members of Visual Arts Society of Hormuzgan, the Persian Gulf province of Iran known for its Strait of Hormuz, “weaving” the largest carpet ever made of soil on the shores of the Strait. The artists used some 90 different colored soil of the province to make the carpet, measuring 1,250 square meters (13,455 square feet). Hormuzgan, September 2010.

Photos: Mehr News Agency

Domestically upgraded C-130 flown by Iran

Iranian media reports that Iran has successfully flown a domestically upgraded C-130 aircraft.

click photos to enlarge
Upgraded aircraft appears to be the older C-130E variant in IRIAF service.

Iranian media reports upgrades have been performed to the fuselage, wings, engines and avionics.

Note attachment of flat screen monitor to main instrument panel, with presumed addition of an integrated GPS capability.


Photos: Vahid Reza Alaee at Iranian Student's News Agency
Video: PressTV

Monday, September 27, 2010

Iran to Sue Russia over S-300

The chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said Iran will sue Russia for its failure to deliver the S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran [ISNA, 27 September]. Russia cancelled the deal it had signed with Iran saying the missile systems fall under the UN sanctions.

IRGC counter-terrorism operation into Iraq

By Mark Pyruz

It is being reported by Iranian media sources that the IRGC has conducted a counter-terrorism operation into Iraqi territory, following a terrorist bombing in the city of Mahabad.

From the Associated Press:

Iran state TV said today that Iranian forces crossed into neighboring Iraq and killed 30 fighters from a group it claims was involved in last week's bombing of a military parade.

The report quotes a general of the elite Revolutionary Guards as saying the terrorists were killed yesterday in a clash "beyond the border," and that his forces were still in pursuit of two men who escaped the ambush.

While Iran has said in the past it would target armed groups on Iraqi soil, this is a rare case of it actually admitting to an attack.


The parade was one of several held around the country to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war.

The city of Mahabad is home to 190,000 people - most of them Kurds and Sunni Muslims. Iran is predominantly Shiite.

Iran has already blamed the attack on Kurdish separatists who have fought Iranian forces in the area for years. But most Kurdish groups condemned the attack, and no one has so far claimed responsibility for it.

Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Guards' ground forces, said Sunday the armed group was backed by Israel, the U.S. and members of the Iraqi Baath Party, former supporters of deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

This Iranian counter-terrorism operation comes on the heels of President Ahmadinejad's remarks at the UN General Assembly, where he criticized the US response to the 9/11 attacks:

"is it rational to launch a classic war through widespread deployment of troops that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people to counter a terrorist group?" - President Ahmadinejad

Driving home that point and being prominently publicized, the IRGC responds by staging this limited CT operation into Iraq. These CT Ops under the Ahmadinejad administration are a more pointed response than those seen during the Khatami era, where trouble in Afghanistan once saw a brief mobilization of the Iranian army, but no determinative combat operations. The IRGC has become a more flexible fighting force under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Jafari.

This incident also demonstrates Iranian political confidence in its strong ties to the real power centers within the Iraqi government, and vice-versa.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Review of the Effectiveness of Iran Sanctions

By Nader Uskowi

In any discussion on the effectiveness of the current economic sanctions against Iran, the big elephant in the room is Iran’s oil exports. The sanctions imposed against Iran do not include the export of crude oil. Iran’s continued ability to sell its oil gives it the leverage of providing a strategic commodity to major European and Asian countries and in turn the ability to import needed goods and services from those countries to manage its economy. So sanctions that exclude crude oil are by definition non-effective. This generality aside, there are specific targets within the Iranian economy that have significantly been affected by the UN Security Resolution (UNSCR) 1929, US’s Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), and the recent EU sanctions.

The UNSCR 1929 called on member states to be vigilant and to take measures against Iranian entities suspected to be involved in transactions prohibited by UN sanctions. The US Congress used the language to significantly strengthen Iran sanctions and passed CISADA, signed into law by President Obama in July. The sections of CISADA relevant to financial institutions and transport sector have particularly started to create havoc within the Iranian economy.

In August, for example, the US Treasury issued regulations to implement CISADA’s section 104 dealing with financial institutions. Known as IFSR (Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations), they prohibit any US or foreign financial institution to deal with Iranian banks suspected to deal with IRGC and its affiliated companies or involved in transactions with Iranian entities on activities prohibited under UN and US sanctions. At face value, IFSRs seem to have limited scope. After all, foreign banks can deal with their Iranian counterparts not involved in financing IRGC projects, for example. But the Treasury has also identified 17 Iranian banks of processing transactions with entities under UN sanctions. The list includes all the country’s major banks. So the choice for the foreign banks has suddenly become very clear: conduct business with those Iranian banks, practically the country’s banking system, and loose access to US financial systems, or stop dealing with Iranian banks altogether. All major foreign banks and many smaller ones have chosen the latter. As a result, Iran is now unable to access financial services from major banks and increasingly unable to conduct major transactions in dollar and euro.

CISADA has also caused uncertainties for foreign companies about which Iranian entity is legitimate and which is illicit and subject to sanctions. For the private sector making such distinction on daily basis for their transactions is costly and risky. It’s become easier for them to cut their dealings with Iran altogether. Safer doing that than being subjected to US sanctions, penalties, and loss of access to the American markets! Among them: Toyota, Kia, Lukoil, Allianz, Lloyds, Shell, Total, Repsol, BP, Eni, Reliance, Glencore, Trafigura, and Vitol.

As already said, Iran’s oil export is not directly affected by the sanctions but investment in the oil and gas sector is. Iran’s oil industry is aging rapidly and for the country to continue the level of its oil production major investments in the sector are required. It is estimated that Iran would need some $150 billion in new investment in oil infrastructure to maintain its current production level. CISADA provide major penalties for any firms doing investment in Iran’s energy sector, and as a result we have witnessed an exodus of major oil companies from the country.

Iran chose IRGC’s Khatam-ol-Anbia to fill the void and act as the main investor in oil and gas projects, but the IRGC’s business arm had to pull out from those projects because it was blacklisted through sanctions and as a result could not obtain foreign financing and services needed to run those complex projects. The Iranian authorities then formed new companies literally overnight to replace Khatam-ol-Anbia. But those two companies before long would be subjected to the sanctions and blacklisted as well. Less oil produced due to lack of new investments, less oil revenues are generated. In the long run, this is curtailing the oil export without directly adding it to the embargo list.

CISADA also limits Iran’s shipping abilities. The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) has been subjected to the sanctions since 2008. IRISL, however, created many front companies, renamed and repainted its ships, and changed their nominal country of origin. But the Treasury has so far identified some 28 front companies and more than 100 ships as belonging to IRISL, subject to the same sanctions. The immediate result of Treasury’s move has been the reluctance of insurance and reinsurance companies to provide coverage for these ships, a development that can cripple Iran’s shipping, including its ability to deliver oil via its large tanker fleet. Recently three big, new ships belonging to IRISL were seized in Singapore because their insurance coverage were terminated by the insurers. The country’s National Iranian Tanker Corp (NITC), which owns 40 crude carriers and is scheduled to receive 22 VLCCs in the next two years, is also in immediate danger of loosing its liability coverage (“blue card”), making it impossible to operate in international ports.

The EU and some Asian countries have also adopted similar tactics, targeting Iran’s financial, energy, insurance, trade, and transportation sectors.

The UN, US, and EU sanctions are not expected to cause Iran to rapidly change course and its behavior. But they are making business with Iran and investing in the country increasingly difficult, so much so that major foreign banking and commercial institutions are beginning to abandon the Iranian market. This would severely hamper Iran’s development plans, something Tehran needs to ponder during the volatile times expected ahead.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ahmadinejad in New York, But Tehran on His Mind

By Nader Uskowi

Ahmadinejad’s claim that most people believe the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks was deeply hateful. And as shameful was his choice of venue, so near the Ground Zero. At its face, such behavior might be seen as irrational or even insane. But Ahmadinejad knew what he was doing, trying to provoke the US and the West to take further actions against his country, even military actions against its nuclear facilities. He seems welcoming the deepening of the crisis in Iran’s relations with the West, not so much as a rational foreign policy for the country, but as a calculated political move to take the upper hands in the growing infightings within the regime. Ahmadinejad is after taking control of the Islamic Republic, and any comments, no matter how hateful or provocative they might be, are not off limit for him.

Ahmadinejad’s drive for control does not start or end with foreign policy, although a state of conflict with the West, at least until he succeeds in controlling the Islamic Republic, is helpful to consolidate his powers. His main targets, however, are the traditional conservatives and the country’s clergy. He, his chief of staff Mashaie, and the people around them, have no use for the clergy. They claim they are in direct communication with Mahdi, the Hidden Imam, which leaves no needs for middlemen. They are discounting the “Islamic identity” of the Islamic Republic, opting to highlight the “Iranian identity” of their version of Islam. On the surface, they offer a more modern alternative to the backwardness that defines the clerical rule. Albeit ”modernity” built on armed forces, i.e. the IRGC, state of perpetual conflict with the West, and suppression of the opposition, including some of the most loyal defenders of the Islamic revolution. An atomic bomb is also helpful. A model not far apart from that of the early Baathists.

Ahmadinejad controls the government and its vast resources and is grooming his possible successor. But he is not the only game in town. The supreme leader also controls enormous amounts of money, with no need to report the budget of his "house" to the Majlis or anyone else, with free hands to disperse its wealth to consolidate his already vast powers. The traditional conservatives under Khamenei’s leadership and the radical right under Ahmadinejad will vie more intensely than ever to control the future of Iran. Other factions and the opposition would also play important roles in shaping of that future amid growing conflicts within the regime and with the outside world. Ahmadinejad's "performance" in New York is really meant for the home audience.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sacred Defense Parade 2010

Highlights from the 2010 Sacred Defense Parade held in Tehran:

click photos to enlarge
Presiding over the podium this year: Major General Seyed Hassan Firuzabadi. (President Ahmadinejad is in New York City to address the UN General Assembly.)

Podium lineup: Note positions of NAJA Commander Brig. Gen. Moghadam and Basij Commander Naghdi, as well as the position of IRIADF Commander Mighani.

Foreign military observers of the parade

Twenty ballistic missiles were reportedly paraded, including 4 Sejils, 8 Shahabs, 4 Fatah-110s and 4 ZelZal SSMs.

Sejil MRBM and TEL

Crotale-Sagheb Taqheb short-range anti-air missile system

Iranian M113 APCs envisioned as UN peacekeeping forces

Karrar UCAV in IRGCAF combat livery

Sofreh Mahi mockup in IRIAF demonstrator colors

T-33 mockup, context unknown.

Possibly the "Hod Hod" UAV

T-72 MBT equipped with standoff armor

Iranian T-55 tanks rumble through the city of Isfahan

M577 Armored Command Post Carrier, followed by FV101 Scorpion light tanks and BMP-2 IFVs.

Iranian military buggy armed with DshK HMG

Motorized sniper teams armed with the Steyr HS .50

ATV combat teams armed with AA mount MGA3
general purpose machine gun and RPG-7

ATV combat teams armed with the Misagh SAM. Note improved outfitting.

Elite IRGC paratroopers equipped with the S-5.56

Elite IRGC assault troop equipped with MPT9S SMGs

IRGC cadre equipped with S-5.56 assault rifles

IRGCN Ensigns equipped with KLS (AKM) assault rifles

Basij equipped with KLS (AKM) assault rifles

Basij Ashura unit armed with Beretta PM12S SMGs

Student Basidji

Battle rifles equipped with high-powered scopes


Note: "Ey Iran" patriotic song sung as "Ey Islam."

Mahdi Mar Marizad at FARS News Agency
Fereidoon Ghorbani at Borna News Agency
Chavosh Homavandi at
Amir Hossein Zolfaghari at Iranian Student's News Agency
Mehr News Agency
Islamic Republic News Agency
Iran International Photo Agency

sherlock72 at YouTube

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Russia officially reneges on S-300 SAM sale to Iran

According to the Associated Press:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree Wednesday banning all sales of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran. Russia signed a 2007 contract to sell the sophisticated systems that could boost Iran's ability to defend against air strikes. Israel and the United States have objected to the deal, and no such missiles have been delivered yet. Medvedev's decree also prohibited exports of tanks, aircraft and sea vessels to Iran.

This was not unexpected. If anything it comes as a relief of sorts to the Iranians, as the matter is no longer subject to open-ended limbo. The Iranians will likely receive their money back, possibly with a penalty sum attached for nondelivery. Meanwhile, continued development of an Iranian equivilant, the IR-300, is on-going according to Iranian defense officials.

30 Years Ago

On this day 30 years ago Iraq launched a simultaneous invasion by air and land into Iranian territory.

Believing the Iranian Military was in disarray Saddam Hussein launched the invasion in an attempt to take control the oil rich Khūzestān region and to quell the Khoemini's Islamic Revolution from spreading to the Shia majority in Iraq.

Over 70,000 Iraqi soldiers entered Iran, they would not be pushed back until 1982 following the intense and bloody fighting at the town of Khorramshahr, the war would then pick up again as a large scale border war with an Iranian offensive, that eventually ended in a ceasefire in 1988 with a million people dead.

Bomb attack on Iranian military parade

Today 12 people were killed and around 35 wounded when a bomb detonated during a military parade in Mahabad.

No soldiers were killed in this and most of the casualties are said to have been women and children [BBC, 22nd September]

The bomb appears to have been a time bomb and detonated at about 1020 local time (0650 GMT).

The governor of West Azerbaijan province Vahid Jalalzadeh stated the attack was carried out by "counter revolutionaries."

Today is relevant to Iranian history since it marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Iran war with Iraq that started on this day in 1980 when Iraq launched a large scale invasion of Iran, and which ended in a ceasefire in 1988 after a million people died.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fateh-110/III SRBM delivered to IRGC/ASF

In a ceremony held today, Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi marked the occasion of the first delivery of 3rd generation Fateh-110 (Fateh A-110B) short-range ballistic missiles to the IRGC Aerospace Force.

click photos to enlarge
Background: assembled Fateh-110/III SRBM

Three sections of the Fateh-110/III emerging
from their storage/transport receptacles

Left: guidance section showing internal detail

Foreground: guidance section showing externally
located missile prep inlets

Photos: VahidReza Alaei for Borna News Agency, Fars News Agency and

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Iranian Ballistic Missile Hype

By Mark Pyruz

Lieutenant Colonel John D. Johnson, a U.S. Army Senior Fellow assigned to the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, has a paper published over at the Small Wars Journal blog, titled "The Iranian Ballistic Missile Threat And a “Phased, Adaptive Approach” to Missile Defense for Europe." Download it here.

There are many problems with this brief. Right off the bat, claiming Iran is a "Persian country" ignores the fact that the country possesses relatively large minority populations, such as Azaris, Turkomans, Kurds and even Arabs. Both Iran's Supreme Leader and Head of the Armed Forces General Command Headquarters are actually Azari, not Persian.

In addition, Iran's threat perception goes beyond the presence of Western militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes nuclear-armed USAF and USN forces based in Qatar and Bahrain, the use of which President Obama has stated could be used against Iran in a first-strike nuclear attack. And Iran's threat perception includes Israel's nuclear arms stockpiles, deliverable by its own MRBM forces. (Why is this not mentioned?)

Contrary to LTC Johnson's assertion the international community "has gone to great lengths to engage Iran diplomatically," the truth of the matter is that the goal posts for Iran's nuclear negotiations have constantly been shifted by their Western interlocutors. Consider the failure of the 2003 Paris Agreement, as well as the more recent 2010 Tehran Declaration, as just two major examples.

Nowhere in this brief are any credible scenarios provided for Iranian MRBM strikes against Greece, Romania, Bulgaria or Turkey. That's because the threat of such simply does not exist.

The notion that Iran could deploy an ICBM capable of striking the US by 2015 is pure fantasy. More than that, it defies logic. True, Iran is developing larger rockets. But nowhere in this brief is an explanation provided for Iran's need at self-sufficiency in hoisting satellites into space (they've been refused such by a number of commercial rocket-equipped countries). For Iran's defense, which is based on deterrence, the region itself is a target-rich environment. Potential retaliatory strikes are available in every direction. It is logical for Iran's military industrial complex to put resources into further developing its SRBM and MRBM forces, in order to better deter its real adversaries in the region- the US and Israel- than to put massive resources into a ICBM crash program for targets which don't offer anywhere near a corresponding, congruent deterrence value (not to mention the potential liabilities incurred in fielding such weaponry).

It's actually amazing that LTC Johnson didn't mention Iran's deterrent-based defense strategy or provide any credible Iranian SSM first-strike scenarios. Also, references to Israel's WMD capabilities are brief and almost non-associative to the threat of war involving Iran's SSM forces. Are we really to believe that countries such as Greece and Bulgaria constitute a risk factor of war involving Iran greater than that posed by Israel? If so, that would be absurd.

Police Academy Graduation Ceremonies

Photos from today’s graduation ceremonies at Police Sciences University in Tehran. Maj. General Hassan Firouzabadi, Chief of Staff of Iran Armed Forces, presided over the ceremonies. The graduates join the officer ranks of the Islamic Republic of Iran Security Force (NAJA), the country’s national paramilitary police force.

Photos: Mahdi Marizad, Fars News Agency

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ahmadinejad: No Nuclear Weapon for Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Associated Press on Sunday that Iran will not build a nuclear bomb.

"We are not afraid of nuclear weapons. The point is that if we had in fact wanted to build a nuclear bomb, we are brave enough to say that we want it. But we never do that," Ahmadinejad said. [AP, 19 September 2010].

Majlis Speaker Criticizes Ahmadinejad– Asserts Authority of Majlis

In a sign of growing schism among the Iranian leaders, the country’s powerful Speaker of Majlis today criticized president Ahmadinejad over his remarks yesterday that the parliament no longer has the final authority over governmental affairs.

"If Imam Khomeini (the founder of the Islamic Republic) said Majlis has full authority, it was to prevent the re-emergence of dictatorship in Iran," Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said today in response to Ahmadinejad’s remarks.

"Parliament should supervise lest the government deviates from its course," Larijani added [Fars News Agency, 19 September 2010].

Ahmad Tavakoli, one of the leaders of the conservative faction in Majlis, said that Ahmadinejad's remarks should be and would be reviewed in a joint meeting of Majlis, the government and the Guardian Council scheduled for tomorrow.

“Based on the Iranian Constitution, the president and his cabinet are accountable to people, Majlis and the Supreme Leader," Tavakoli added.

Ahmadinejad Meets UN Chief

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holding talks with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. New York. 19 September 2010
Photo: IRNA

IRGC: No US Troops Detained

IRGC denied a report that they had detained seven US soldiers and their two translators in Iranian Baluchistan.

Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency and pro-government news website Raja News had reported the US troops and their Iranian guides were arrested on Sunday by IRGC frontier guards near the border with Pakistan.

UPDATE: In Washington, Captain Ryan Donald, a Pentagon spokesman, said: "Reports by state-run Iranian media that seven U.S. soldiers were detained after crossing into Iran are false." [Reuters, 19 September].

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ahmadinejad En Route to New York

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just left Algiers airport en route to New York to attend the opening session of the UN General Assembly on 23 September. After leaving Tehran today, Ahmadinejad stopped in Damascus and Algiers airports to meet with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (top photo) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (bottom photo).

Top Photo: At Houari Boumedienne International Airport, Algiers. 18 September 2010. Photo by AFP.

Bottom Photo: At Damascus International Airport, 18 September 2010. Photo by Davood Poursehat, IRNA.

Netanyahu: "Within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will...produce a nuclear bomb."

An article from 1995 reveals that Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Iran would be in possession of nuclear weapons by around 2000:

"Within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb, without having to import either the technology or the material.

[The nuclear threat] must be uprooted by an international front headed by the US. It necessitates economic sanctions on Iran."

Some things never change!