Saturday, April 22, 2006

Week in Review

DoctorZin provides a review of this past week's [4/16/06 - 4/22/06] major news events regarding Iran. (The reports are listed in chronological order, not by importance) READ MORE

Iran's Nuclear Program & The UN Security Council.
  • Reuters reported that new satellite imagery indicate Iran has expanded its uranium conversion site at Isfahan and reinforced its Natanz underground uranium enrichment plant against possible military strikes.
  • YNet reported that while the world is expressing its concern over Iran's progress toward a bomb, the US Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte estimates Tehran will have a bomb within four to nine years.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran now claims it was conducting research and tests on the more sophisticated P-2 nuclear-enrichment centrifuge which could significantly speed the process of making fuel for bombs.
  • The Guardian reported on the perm-5 plus one talks on Iran in Moscow and the as of Tuesday, Russia has maintained its opposition to sanctions against Iran.
  • New Press reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that Iran would "cut off the hand of any aggressor."
  • MSNBC reported that President Bush said “all options are on the tableto prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons, but said he will continue to focus on the international diplomatic option. Plus an interactive look at Iran's nuclear facilities.
  • Iran Press News reported that Iran's deputy director of Majles, angry at Russia's invitation of the 5 member countries of the U.N. Security Council to a meeting in Moscow said: "Our people will never forget the cruelty and exploitation of the Russians."
  • Rooz Online reported that the Moscow talks with the Perm-5 are making Tehran jittery.
  • Radio Free Europe reported that one of Iran's largest pro-reform student groups called for "a temporary suspension of all nuclear activities" and that "there are other rights, like human rights, which have a higher priority."
  • Yahoo News reported that envoys from the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany discussed sanctions in Moscow against Iran over its nuclear program, but failed to reach agreement. But Russian demanded "urgent and constructive steps" from Tehran.
  • Reuters reported that UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "We are working on the basis that Iran will not meet the proposals from the Security Council on the 30-day deadline."
  • Reuters reported that Russia said it wanted no action against Iran before an April 28 U.N. deadline set for it to halt uranium enrichment. But Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns added: "we are not going to agree to any pause by Iran."
  • Xinhua reported that Russia will still implement the contract to supply 30 Tor-M1 air defense systems to Iran in full. Tor-M1 is an all-weather air defense system to ensure effective protection from cruise missiles, guided bombs, warplanes, helicopters, and pilot less and remotely controlled attack aircraft.
  • reported that French President Jacques Chirac said it was 'unacceptable' for Iran to have nuclear weapons, but he left the door open to resumed discussions with Tehran.
  • Bloomberg reported that Tony Blair warned "At a point in time when the president of Iran is talking about wiping Israel off the face of the earth and when there are young people signing up to be suicide bombers, I do not think that this is the time to send a message of weakness."
  • Yahoo News reported that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States would use political, economic and other measures to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
  • reported that Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he would back a U.S. airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities if diplomatic options fail.
  • Euronews reported that senior White House official Nicholas Burns said: "We heard last night, and again today, from individual countries, that all of those who spoke, and it was the great majority, are looking at sanctions."
  • Reuters reported that European diplomats dismissed as unacceptable a suggestion that Iran take a brief "technical pause" from its nuclear enrichment activities in an attempt to revive collapsed negotiations with the EU.
  • The Washington Post reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "All participants in the meeting agreed that urgent and constructive steps are demanded of Iran."
  • MosNews reported that the chief of the Russian general staff said Russia’s military will not intervene on one side or the other, should the current Iran crisis lead to an armed conflict.
  • Reuters reported that Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar called the prospect of the United States using force to halt Iran's nuclear program is empty talk.
  • Eli Lake, New York Sun reported that Iranian Students are asking the regime to suspend its A-Bomb effort and focus on the more pressing needs of the Iranian people: human rights, international peace and the economy.
  • The Times reported that Russia offered its most outspoken support yet of the controversial nuclear program in Iran. Sergei Kislyak, the Deputy Foreign Minister, said: "Our advice to our Iranian colleagues and friends is to complete work with the International Atomic Energy Authority and to calmly continue its nuclear energy program... and on this path we are ready to provide assistance to Iran."
  • The New York Times reported that the Bush administration called for Russia and the countries of Europe to impose their own penalties on Iran.
  • The Guardian reported that the United States pressed Russia to halt missile sales to Iran.
  • The Washington Times, in an editorial, asked the question: Can Iran Be Deterred?
  • Khaleej Times Online reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will disclose Iran’s decision on the United Nations Security Council deadline in a press conference on Monday.
  • Reuters reported that Iran's ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said that Iran had a basic deal to enrich uranium in a joint venture in Russia.
  • reported that a top Kremlin diplomat warned against threatening Iran with sanctions or the use of force, saying that would only aggravate the international standoff.
Iranian regime threats.
  • reported that Iran's president said: "The global oil price has not reached its real value yet."
  • World Tribune reported that IRGC Air Force commander Gen. Hosein Salami said: "Iran can block oil export whenever necessary."
  • The Guardian reported that a Tehran-based group is trying to recruit Iranians and other Muslims in Britain to carry out suicide bombings against Israel, because of the relative ease with which UK passport-holders can enter Israel.
  • MSNBC reported that Ahmadinejad said: “The increase of the oil price and growth of oil income is very good and we hope that the oil prices reach their real levels.”
  • Sunday Times reported that Imad Mugniyeh, the Lebanese commander of Hezbollah’s overseas operations, has taken charge of plotting Iran’s retaliation against western targets should President George W Bush order a strike on Iranian nuclear sites.
  • The Christian Science Monitor reported that rising tension between the West and Iran is coinciding with the emergence of a loose anti-Western alliance - Israel now dubs it an "axis of terror."
Iran's Dissidents.
  • Eli Lake, The New York Sun reported that Iran's judiciary has summoned dissident leader Akbar Ganji back to Evin Prison, but so far Mr. Ganji has refused to obey the requests.
  • Iran Press News reported that Iranian Dissidents are saying: "No! We do not want nuclear energy."
  • Iran Press News reported that prison officials have threatened political prisoner, Valiollah-Fayz Mahdavi with execution should he communicate reports about the prison conditions.
  • Iran Press News reported that Mansour Osanlou, director of the bus drivers union of greater Tehran, was transferred from solitary incarceration, after 4 months.
  • Iran Press News reported that Iranian journalist Ejlal Ghavami will go on trial on April 22nd for insulting the leadership, taking action against national security, connection with various anti-regime fronts.
Iran's reformist movement is angry and worried.
  • Rooz Online reported that members of the reformist Association of clergies, met with the Supreme Leader and called on him to take responsibility for the nuclear policies, which according to them sway from day to day.
  • Rooz Online reported that Ahmadinejad has stepped into a new phase in its policy of suppressing independent news agencies and journalists.
  • Rooz Online reported that while meeting with the Supreme Leader told teachers of Qom that the most important call of the day was to support president Ahmadinejad and the government, and that he expected the same from.
  • Rooz Online reported that missing from Ahmadinejad's propaganda campaign about enriching uranium to levels useful for nuclear power generation, was Ali Larijani the highest official responsible for the nuclear issue.
  • The Guardian reported that internal political divisions and economic weaknesses may present a bigger threat to the longevity of the Iranian government than an attack on its nuclear facilities.
The Unrest inside of Iran.
  • SMCCDI reported that a mass execution at the infamous Evin jail located in North Tehran. 9 un-identified victims were executed in the facility in which tens of political activists are being held including several student activists. Several other executions are to take place, in the days ahead, to spread more fear among the population.
  • Iran Press News reported that runaway girls and deserted women are being rounded up by the Islamic regime’s forces to unknown locations. Security forces had been warning them "leave the country or stay and die.”
  • Iran Press News reported that the regime is organizing its own bogus international workers day ceremony in front of ex-U.S. embassy. Activists responded: "We women and men workers of Iran cannot be used by the Islamic regime for their propaganda."
  • Iran Press News reported that the regime's agents stormed a party arresting 37 young women and men.
  • The Guardian reported that Iran's Islamic authorities are preparing a crackdown on women flouting the stringent dress code in the clearest sign yet of social and political repression under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
  • Korosh, The Price of Freedom, an Iranian blogger, reported on the increasing number of pro-democracy protests in Iran.
  • SMCCDI reported that hundreds of Iranians used a soccer match to protest against the Islamic republic regime. Tens were seen injured or arrested.
Rumors of War.
  • The Washington Times examined the question: "Is Iran Preparing for War?"
  • USATODAY reported that the Pentagon is planning a war game in July so officials (including Congressmen) can explore options for a crisis involving Iran.
  • The New York Times argued that the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran makes little sense.
  • Independent reported that Tony Blair and Jack Straw at odds over US action in Iran.
  • Asia Times Online reported that Iran's becoming a rallying point for anti-US sentiment in the Muslim world fits well with al-Qaeda and that all of the Muslim countries that side with the United States anticipate a US attack on Iran around October.
  • World Tribune reported that Turkish sources said the Defense Department has discussed U.S. military access to several bases in Turkey. But Turkey's government denied the report. The U.S. embassy in Ankara said the story had "no factual basis."
Support for Internal Regime Change in Iran.
  • The National Review in an editorial argued that the US should massively increase our pro-democracy broadcasts into Iran, and called for a major shift in direction in Voice of America's content.
  • Newsweek reported that Bush administration officials are looking for a solution to America's new foreign-policy crisis with Iran by supporting people like "the Larry King of Iran."
  • The Financial Times reported that the US and UK are working on a strategy to promote democratic change in Iran.
  • The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli President Moshe Katsav warned the people of Iran that their radical regime is leading them toward the abyss.
Are US Pro-Democracy efforts being undermined by the State Department Officials?
  • Kenneth R. Timmerman, argued that while Congress has budgeted $85 million for pro-democracy efforts in Iran, nearly $50 million has been tentatively ear-marked to expand the Voice of America and the Persian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, both radios need to improve the quality of their broadcasts and, especially, their political content, before they deserve another dime. The rest of the money is being spent on a variety of programs led by former Tehran regime officials, student leaders, and U.S. academics who believe the Tehran regime can be reformed, but does not need to be changed.
Iran's economy in serious trouble.
  • Iran Press News reported that Iran's brick making factories are closing rapidly with only 5 of 150 left due to stagnancy in construction in big cities such as Tehran leaving more that ten thousand unemployed.
  • Iran Press News reported that for the second time in a week protesting workers from 4 textile factories blocked the transit road between the cities of Kashan and Bandar Abbass.
  • Rooz Online reported that fear of war in Iran has lead to a demand for gold and the Central Bank of Iran has been unable to control the demand.
  • Iran Press News reported that while Iran is spending million funding Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the latest statistics on poverty in Iran show poverty is increasing.
  • The Financial Times reported that with the war of words over Iran’s nuclear programme escalating and the domestic economy stalling, Iranians are scrambling to buy gold coins.
Iran's Troublemaking in Iraq.
  • Radio Free Europe reported claims that Iranian forces shelled Iranian Kurdish guerrilla positions inside Northern Iraq.

Iran's Troublemaking in Israel.
  • reported that Islamic Jihad, backed by Iran and Syria, claimed responsibility for Monday's suicide attack in Tel Aviv. Islamic Jihad is led by Ramadan Shallah considers the 1979 Iranian Revolution to be the beginning of a new era for the Muslim world.
  • The Times reported that it is no coincidence that this suicide bombing comes after renewed calls by Iran’s President for the destruction of Israel and after Iran offered to step in to fund the Hamas Government.
  • Reuters reported that many Iranians are happy with the regime's gift of $50 million to the Hamas led Palestinian government. They want the regime to focus on their needs.
US/Iran talks on hold?
  • The Washington Post reported that GOP Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that direct talks between the US and Iran "would be useful." Iranian dissidents already fear the US will sell them out. And some wonder why the Iranians haven’t risen up against their oppressive regime?
  • Rooz Online reported that a hard-line news agency claimed that Mohammad Javad Larijani has been nominated to lead Iran’s talks with the US. M.J. Larijani is the brother of the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who has been leading the nuclear talks.
Iran and the International community.
  • Yahoo News reported that Iran announced that it was giving 50 million dollars in aid to the cash-strapped Hamas-led Palestinian government.
  • Xinhua reported that former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said he was certain Gulf Arab states will not support any U.S. strike on Iran.
  • Iran Press News reported that Iran plans to guarantee a loan to Cuba for the development of exporting technical services.
  • The Washington Post reported that Iran intends to replace some 60 ambassadors this year.
  • Times of India reported that India's PM Manmohan Singh unequivocally told a delegation of Muslim leaders that Tehran's nuclear ambitions were not in India's interest.
  • Dow Jones Newswires reported that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Iran as well as Syria to cooperate in trying to restore Lebanon's political independence and disarm militias.
  • The American Foreign Policy Council published a table of Iran's leading trading partners.
  • Dow Jones Newswires reported that Russia began delivering advanced antiaircraft missiles to Belarus and he denied a report that the weaponry was destined for Iran.
  • The New York Times reported that Iran, India and Pakistan are close to signing a gas pipeline deal, defying U.S. opposition to the project.
US Congress.
  • Jim Geraghty, The National Reviewexamined Harry Reid's call for diplomatic recognition of Iran.
How did Iranian nuclear negotiator get to Washington and who is he meeting with?
  • The New York Times reported that the State Department confirmed that Mohammad Nahavandian, an aide to the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, was in Washington. But Sean McCormack, the department spokesman, said, "He's not here for meetings with U.S. government officials, to my knowledge."
  • Reuters added that State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said "We have no record of issuing a visa to a person with this name."
  • The Guardian reported that the US reaffirmed that it is refusing to discuss Iran's nuclear plans in face-to-face talks on Iraq.
Must Read reports.
  • Mark Steyn, Chicago Sun-Times argued that our policy on Iran Nukes seems to be off-target.
  • Richard Clarke, The New York Times argued that bombing Iran will backfire on the US.
  • AsiaTimes reported that Iran will become full member of China and Russia's "Shanghai Cooperation Organization." The SCO's enlargement move would frustrate the entire US strategy in the region. The SCO is a security organization which will provide Iran with access to technology, increased investment and trade.
  • CBS News reported that Reza Pahlavi, son of the deposed Shah of Iran says "This regime is not trying to avoid confrontation, on the contrary; it needs confrontation in order to survive."
  • The Washington Post reported that the Iranian government has intensified efforts to illegally obtain weapons technology from the United States.
  • Rooz Online reported that Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, the head of Iran’s Experts Assembly on Leadership which is responsible for choosing a new leader, is in coma. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi is said to have ambitions to head the Assembly.
  • Haaretz reported that Republican Senator Norm Coleman is calling on the United States to withhold funds from the UN Disarmament Commission over Iran's election as vice chairman.
  • New York Post reported that last week the U.N. Commission on Disarmament elevated Iran to the vice-chairman post and his first act was to demand that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open all of its nuclear sites to international inspection.
  • Thomas Joscelyn, The Weekly Standard challenged a recent statement by former National Security Council staffers Richard Clarke and Steven Simon that the U.S. intelligence community scared Iran out of the terrorist game.
  • Alan Peters, argued that a limited strike on Iran would not bring down the regime and that what is required is to eliminate the most radical elements of the Iranian regime. A must read.
The Experts.
  • Amir Taheri, The Telegraph revealed the frightening truth of why Iran wants a bomb. Hint: ever heard of a "clash of civilizations?"
  • Amir Taheri, The New York Post argued that the European trio and Washington described Iran's announcement that it has now joined "the nuclear club" as "unacceptable." But warned that when you say that something is "unacceptable," you have already accepted it as a reality.
  • Center for Strategic & International Studies published a new study analyzing the different options to deal with a nuclear armed Iran.
  • Center for Strategic & International Studies also published a report on Iran's nuclear ambitions and how the situation will affect U.S.-Turkish relations.
  • Edward N. Luttwak, Commentary published three reasons not to bomb Iran, Yet. An excellent read.
  • The Claremont Institute asked seven leading thinkers to reflect on our political and military options in eliminating Iran's nuclear capability.
  • Amir Taheri, Asharq Alawsat reported that Ahmadinejad's tactical successes could lead to a strategic disaster for Iran.
Photos, cartoons and videos.
  • Nazanin, MySpace, born in Tehran, is a former Miss Canada, singer and songwriter and has produced a song: Someday (The Revolution Song). Listen here.
  • Cox & Forkum published another of their great cartoons: Crasher.
  • A Photo of a defiant Iranian wearing the US flag.
The Quote of the Week.
CBS News reported that Reza Pahlavi, son of the deposed Shah of Iran said:

This regime is not trying to avoid confrontation, on the contrary; it needs confrontation in order to survive."