30 Sep 2009 17:15
Iranian foreign minister makes rare visit to Washington
AP | Sept. 30, 2009
Iran's foreign minister made a rare visit to the U.S. capital Wednesday on a visa granted with unusual speed by the State Department one day before the start of nuclear talks in Geneva.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley played down the significance of the U.S. decision to permit the visit by Manouchehr Mottaki, even though it marked the first time in years that a senior Iranian official has visited Washington.
Iran's delegation to Geneva
Foreign Reports | Sept. 30, 2009
Today, Iran announced the members of its delegation to tomorrow's talks in Geneva with the P5+1, to be led by its Secretary General of the Supreme National Security Council, Said Jalili.
Jalili will be accompanied by his top international deputy on the SNSC, Ali Baqeri, a career foreign ministry official who served as Director General of the Ministry's Central and Northern Europe division from 2007-2008.
Although Ali Akbar Salehi is not on the official delegation list, he is referred to as a possible member.
In addition, Iran's Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Mohammed Hadi Zahedi-Vafa, 46, is to join the delegation. He has a doctorate from Ottawa University and has taught at two other Canadian universities, Toronto and Carlton, before returning to teach at two Iranian universities.
Another member of the delegation was identified in the Iranian press as Hamid Reza Asgari, listed as an advisor to Atomic Energy Organization head, Ali Akbar Salehi. There is no previous public record of this individual at the AEO, but an Iranian diplomat of the same name was apprehended by U.S. forces in Irbil, in northern Iraq, in January 2007 and released to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad in November 2007.
U.S. Story on Iran Nuke Facility Doesn't Add Up
IPS | Sept. 30, 2009
A major question surrounding the official story is why the Barack Obama administration had not done anything -- and apparently had no plans to do anything -- with its intelligence on the Iranian facility at Qom prior to the Iranian letter to the IAEA. When asked whether the administration had intended to keep the information in its intelligence briefing secret even after the meeting with the Iranians on Oct. 1, the senior official answered obliquely but revealingly, "I think it's impossible to turn back the clock and say what might have been otherwise."
In effect, the answer was no, there had been no plan for briefing the IAEA or anyone.
News media played up the statement by the senior administration official that U.S. intelligence had been "aware of this facility for years."
Negotiators prepare for Iran talks
Foreign Policy | Sept. 30, 2009
As diplomats prepare for tomorrow's P5+1 talks in with Iran in Switzerland, the U.S. and its allies are contemplating the possibility of tighter sanctions on the Iranian regime while Iran is insisting that the talks must be a "two-way street" focusing on a variety of issues, rather than a litany of demands on Iran's nuclear program.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described tomorrow's talks as a "test" of the international community's respect for Iran's rights. The Iranians say they will not discuss the newly-revealed nuclear enrichment facility at Qom in tomorrow's meeting, but the issue seems certain to be raised.
Efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran may be hampered by China, which has little enthusiasm for punishing one of its top oil suppliers.
IAEA: Iran violated obligations
TEHRAN BUREAU | Sept. 30, 2009
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told CNN that Iran has violated its obligations by failing to notify the Agency about the construction of the Qom facility. This implies that ElBaradei believes that the modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements section of Iran's Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA is in place, even though Iran withdrew from implementing the modified Code 3.1 in March 2007, before it was ratified by its parliament.
ElBaradei also said that Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told him that the Qom facility was at the electrical wiring stage, and far from being ready for any uranium enrichment activity. Salehi has also said that a date will soon be set for the IAEA to visit the site and begin preparations for monitoring the site. -- Muhammad Sahimi
Tehran's worst fear is a human rights campaign
Slate | Sept. 28, 2009
What do Iran's rulers truly fear, after all? I'll wager it's not sanctions, and it might not be a bombing raid. An economic boycott can be circumvented, after all, with the help of Venezuela or maybe the Russian mafia, and an attack on Iranian soil might help the regime once again consolidate power. By contrast, a sustained and well-funded human rights campaign must be a truly terrifying prospect. What if we therefore told the Iranian regime that its insistence on pursuing nuclear weapons leaves us with no choice other than to increase funding for dissident exile groups, to smuggle money into the country, to bombard the airwaves with anti-regime television programming, and above all to publicize widely the myriad crimes of the Islamic Republic of Iran? What if President Obama held up a photograph of Neda, the young girl murdered by Iranian authorities, at his next press conference? What if he did that at every press conference? I bet that would unnerve President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and even the supreme leader far more than the loss of some German machine tool imports or Dutch tomatoes.
If Americans killed Neda where is her Martyr's title?
Blog Watch | Our Perspective
An Iranian blogger asks: "If, according to Ahmadinejad, the US and UK are responsible for the death of Neda Agha Soltan, why hasn't the government officially bestowed the titled of Martyr on Neda?"
"Because if Neda was killed by the enemies of the government, it is only right to give her the title martyr. For instance, if three passersby are killed in a terrorist bombing aren't they declared martyrs? What is the difference between them and Neda?"