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Headlines: Crackdown on Democratic Opposition Intensifies

23 Sep 2010 01:50No Comments

Press Roundup provides selected excerpts of news and opinion pieces from the Iranian and international media. Click on the link to the story to read it in full. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. The inclusion of various opinions in no way implies their endorsement by Tehran Bureau. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow other news items through our Twitter feed.

THE LEAD

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Iran Jails Journalist in Continued Crackdown

New York Times | Sept 22

A second Iranian journalist and human rights activist has been sent to prison on charges that include "propaganda against the state," opposition Web sites reported Wednesday as Iran's president, visiting New York, defended his country's record in permitting criticism.

The Web sites said the journalist, Emadoldin Baghi, was jailed for six years for offenses that also include "colluding to commit against national security." The sentencing offered further evidence of Tehran's continued determination crack down on dissent after widespread protests following disputed elections in June 2009.

Word of the sentencing emerged a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used an encounter with reporters in New York to defend Iran's judiciary against criticism over the arrests of an estimated 500 journalists, activists and government officials after the elections, in which he was returned to power.

Sister of Jailed Iran Journalist 'Charged with Anti-Regime Activities'

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sept 21

The sister of jailed Iranian journalist and human rights activist Abdolreza Tajik is reported to have been charged with "spreading lies" and "assembly, conspiracy, and disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic regime," RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Parvin Tajik was summoned on September 18 to Tehran's Evin prison and notified of the charges brought against her, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. She has been released on bail.

Abdolreza Tajik, a member of the Tehran-based Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), was arrested on June 12 for the third time since the disputed Iranian presidential election in June 2009. Since then Parvin Tajik has repeatedly given interviews to the media, expressing concern over her brother's condition.

Editor Awaits Trial for Feminist Website Content

ICHRI | Sept 22

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, a women's studies researcher and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was released today after she appeared before the Evin Prison Court "to provide some explanations," and was informed of her charges.

Khorasani was interrogated when she first appeared in court on Tuesday following a summons, and was asked to return the next day to meet with "case analysts."

On Wednesday she was informed of her charges of "propagation activities against the regime through: a) writing and publishing content against the regime on the Feminist School website, and b) participation in the illegal gatherings after the 2009 elections," according to the Feminist School website.

She was previously arrested for her participation in the peaceful gathering of 12 June 2006 and was tried on 4 March 2006 along with 32 other women's rights activists. At the time she was represented by Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer who herself is in prison at this time.

Kurdish Activist Houshmand Mokhtar Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison

RAHANA | Sept 22

Mokhtar Houshmand has been convicted of espionage, anti-regime propaganda and collaborating with anti-regime groups, and sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment on Monday by the Marivan Revolutionary Court.

He was served with his sentence on Wednesday.

According to Kurdish news sources, he was detained on May 23rd by the Marivan security forces. The authorities took his computer, personal belongings and several of his books. The authorities had told his family not to contact the media or disclose the news of his arrest.

Mokhtar Houshmand is a cultural activist, painter, head of Marivan Visual Arts Society and secretary of the Annual Drawing Exhibition of Western Iran. He had organized several visual arts shows in Marivan and several other cities in the Province of Kurdistan.

Iran Considers Death Penalty for Blogger, Family Says

The Lede/New York Times | Sept 21

Hossein Derakhshan, an influential Iranian-Canadian blogger who was arrested after he returned to Iran nearly two years ago, could be sentenced to death by a court in Tehran, according to his family.

Cyrus Farivar, an Iranian-American journalist, reported on Monday that a member of the detained blogger's family "has confirmed to me that he is awaiting a sentence in his trial in Tehran, and that the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty."

A report on the Web site of the BBC's Persian-language service added that sources close to Mr. Derakhshan said that the prosecutor requested the death penalty in a closed session of court where his conviction was read aloud.

The BBC reports that the charges against the blogger included: insulting the the Prophet Muhammad; cooperating with hostile governments and groups; spreading propaganda against the Islamic system; spreading propaganda in favor of counterrevolutionary groups; insulting Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; creating and managing obscene Web sites.

See also: "Appeals Court Upheld the 5 Year Prison Sentence of Mehdi Mahmoudian" (RAHANA) | Detained IRNA Journalist Siamak Ghaderi under Intense Pressure (RAHANA)

Protest Chants Erupt across Tehran as Authorities Step Up Pressure on Opposition

Babylon & Beyond/L.A. Times | Sept 21

Chants of "Allah akbar", or "God is great," rang out into the night.

Once again, Iranian opposition supporters took to the rooftops of Tehran on Monday night, voicing their opposition to the authorities amid a ratcheting up of pressure on reformist leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, according to opposition websites and video footage uploaded to the internet.

Videos said to have been recorded on Monday night show dimmed views of the Tehran skyline from rooftops as chants of "Allah akbar" and shouting are heard in the background.

OTHER NEWS

Widow of Renowned Iran Commander Accuses IRGC Head of Treason

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sept 21

The widow of a renowned Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander has accused its current head of treason, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Fateme Amirani's accusation came in an open letter to commander Mohammad Ali Jafari published on September 20.

Amirani is the widow of Revolutionary Guard division commander Hamid Bakeri, who is regarded as a war hero for his role in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

In her letter, Amirani describes the contested presidential election of June 2009 as a coup d'etat, and accuses Jafari of treason for the IRGC's role in engineering the election's outcome and in the ensuing crackdown on opposition protesters.

Wiretapping Political Activists and Prisoner Interrogation Documents

Rooz | Sept 21

While the Islamic republic officials and state-run media have remained silence in response to the leaking of a Supreme National Security Council report prepared by senior officers at the ministry of intelligence, state security forces and the Islamic Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Rooz has obtained new details about the report.

According to the information obtained by Rooz, the 110-page report, parts of which were revealed in a speech last fall by commaner Moshfegh in Mashad, was delivered to the Supreme National Security Council last March after the IRGC concluded interrogating political prisoners in its notorious ward A.

The information obtained by Rooz indicates that the report, titled, "Examination and Analysis of the Organization and Structure of the 1388 Conspiracy," was prepared at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's request last summer and approved by the Supreme National Security Council. The date is important because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replaced the-then intelligence minister Mohseni-Ezhei last summer, with only four days left until the end of his first term in office, and as protests against the presidential election were ongoing.

'The Revolutionary Guards Defeated Their Schemes': IRGC Spokesman

Tehran Emrooz (in Farsi) | Sept 21

Yadollah Javani, chief of the Revolutionary Guards' Political Bureau, declared that the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front "were engaged in the post-election discord of last year."

He continued, "They correctly consider the Guards' role prominent in neutralizing their conspiracies and discord.

"We are witnessing that a number of political movements and groupings are suffering from a kind of deviation and they are also trying to lead the revolution astray. One of the characteristics of this movement was their connectivity with foreigners and when they see that the Revolutionary Guards defeated their schemes, they attack and mud sling at the Revolutionary Guards."

Iran's Ahmadinejad Wants Talks with West; Iran's Hard-liners Balk

Christian Science Monitor | Sept 22

Since his arrival in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's flamboyant commentary has kept much of the world fixated on Tehran's controversial nuclear program and external political disputes.

But such tactics have steered public attention away from Iran's more vulnerable concerns, such as the country's shaky economy, a harsh crackdown on journalists and opposition figures, and internal rivalries that could complicate Mr. Ahmadinejad's apparent willingness to relaunch nuclear talks with the West and reconcile with the US after more than 30 years.

"There is a clear effort to appeal to the West, and the point is to initiate the process [for discussions]," says a Tehran-based analyst with close ties to the government who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons. "If he manages to do it, that's even a major step. A deal with America ... is the golden trophy in Iranian politics."

But analysts inside the Islamic Republic say that while the president arrived in New York aiming to restart nuclear talks with the West, he faces strong opposition from much of Iran's conservative establishment.

Iran Marks Defense Week with a Rebuff to Clinton over the Military's Role

Bloomberg | Sept 22

Iran used the annual armed forces parade outside Tehran to counter concerns expressed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the power of the Iranian military and to stress its defensive role.

"We tell her Iran's military might is only a deterrent and for defending our country against foreign aggressors," the armed forces joint chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said today in a speech aired live by state-run Press TV at the start of Sacred Defense Week, a commemoration of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. "Iran's armed forces can confront any threat."

The televised parade included the presentation of Iran's latest military achievements, including short- and long-range missiles. Among them were the long-range Sejil-2 missile, which can reach targets 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) away, the long- range Shahab-3 missile and the medium-range Shahab-2. Iran announced successful tests of the three missiles last year.

The Shejil and the Shabab-3 both put Israel within reach.

See also: "Iran's Paramilitary Force Gets New Missile" (AP)

Kremlin Bans Sale of S-300 Missile Systems to Iran

BBC | Sept 22

The Kremlin has formally banned the sale of S-300 air defence missile systems to Iran three months after new UN sanctions.

A decree was issued by President Dmitry Medvedev prohibiting the sale, which had been in the pipeline for years.

Earlier, Gen Nikolai Makarov, head of Russia's general staff, confirmed that the missiles were "definitely" subject to the sanctions introduced in June.

See also: "Gulf States Order $123 Billion of U.S. Weaponry to Counter Iran, FT Says" (Bloomberg)

Iran Leader Warns US of War with 'No Limits'

AFP | Sept 21

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that an attack on his country's nuclear facilities could spark a war with "no limits".

"The United States has never entered a real war, not in Vietnam, nor in Afghanistan, nor even World War II," the Iranian leader told American editors and reporters when asked about how Iran would react to any US supported strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"Do you think anyone will attack Iran to begin with?" he said, according to Atlantic magazine's website. "I really don't think so. The Zionist regime is a very small entity on the map, even to the point that it doesn't really factor into our equation."

Ahmadinejad denied that Iran's opposition movement faced persecution. "Those individuals face no problems, no difficulties," he said. "They are all free in fact."

Ahmadinejad went on to give a chaotic speech at the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals in which he blamed capitalism for the world's ills.

"Demanding liberal capitalism and transnational corporations have caused the suffering of countless women, men and children in so many countries," he was quoted as saying.

World Powers Seek 'Early Negotiated Solution' with Iran

AFP | Sept 21

The United States and five other world powers said Wednesday they are seeking an "early negotiated solution" to the standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterparts from Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany announced the new diplomatic overture to Iran on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"We agreed to sanctions in June... Now is the time for Iran to engage in real negotiation, in actual constructive dialogue, about its whole nuclear program," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said after the meeting here.

Israeli Official Says Strikes on 'Bottlenecks' Could Cripple Iran's Nuke Program

ABC | Sept 22

A top Israeli warned today that Iran's vast nuclear program could be crippled for years with airstrikes on just a "few bottlenecks, important ones."

Israel's public calculation came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that he would unleash a "war without boundaries" on the U.S. if it allowed Israel to attack its nuclear complex. "War is not just bombs," the Iranian president threatened.

Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Dan Ayalon was asked today in an exclusive interview with ABC News Radio whether Iran's nuclear facilities face potential air strikes, nuclear or otherwise, by Israel or the United States.

"Let me answer hypothetically," Ayalon responded. "We know that the operation, this illegal operation in Iran, is vast. It's enormous. So that, of course, begs the question, can it be taken out? The short answer is yes."

See also: "Ahmadinejad Calls Israel's Netanyahu a 'Skilled Killer'" (CNN)

Iran Criticizes Its Diplomats' Defections

AP | Sept 21

Iran's foreign ministry on Tuesday criticized two Iranian diplomats who defected this month in Europe, saying they chose to stay abroad for "personal interests."

The two diplomats have themselves said their decisions were politically motivated and they left their positions because of the government's crackdown on citizens protesting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election.

The remarks by foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast were Iran's first official confirmation of the defections, which were seen as a new sign of fissures within Iran's establishment.

Report: Khomeini Grandson Receives Significant Promotion

Tourjan (in Farsi) | Sept 21

The grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, Seyyed Hassan will be teaching 7th to 10th year seminary students this year.

Hassan Khomeini previously taught beginning courses at the seminary during the 1990s. He has now been promoted to teach senior students at the Dar al-Shafa school.

Teaching such a level in seminary requires seminary directors reaching consensus that the lecture has reached the level of ijtihad -- capable of finding God's law from the Qur'an and Hadith using specific methods.

Hassan Khomeini's promotion indicates that the seminary recognizes that he has achieved that level and is a mujtahid -- a scholar capable of making rulings on the permissibility of Islamic laws.

The promotion counters the theory that the Islamic Republic has been trying to isolate and marginalize the family of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Hospital Sacks Several Nurses for 'Improper Islamic Covering'

Tabnak | Sept 22

Many nurses who worked in Imam Khomeini Hospital on a contract basis have been sacked recently on grounds that they did not properly observe Islamic code of dressing, the Persian service of Iran's Labor News Agency, ILNA, reported Wednesday.

Head of Iran's Nurse Home Mohammad Sharifi-Moghadam said, "Despite the fact that the hospital's nurses office is very tough on them as far as their code of dressing or hijab is concerned, but the Supervisory Office of Tehran University Medical School, affiliated to the hospital, has cancelled the contracts of many nurses during last year and this year without any reason and under the pretext that they did not observe proper Islamic hijab."

Sharifi-Moghadam argued that the work condition of nurses is much more difficult than that of other professions. "When they are nursing patients, they may not be able to completely observe hijab," he said. However, he continued, "They generally observe hijab better than other hospital employees."

According to Sharifi-Moghadam, the sacked nurses were not even given a chance to work till end of the month.

Iran Claims Double Standard in Death Penalty Cases

AP | Sept 21

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has criticized Western media for having a double standard in reporting on the case of an American woman facing the death penalty, a news agency reported Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad accused the West of launching a "heavy propaganda" campaign against the case of an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery but failing to react with outrage over the imminent execution of Teresa Lewis in Virginia, according to state-run IRNA.

Lewis is a Virginia woman due to be put to death by injection on Thursday for using sex and money to persuade two men to kill her husband and her stepson to collect on life insurance policies. She would be the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century, and the first U.S. execution of a woman in five years.

See also: "Four Individuals Executed in Yazd and Zahedan" (RAHANA)

Turkey: Iran Sanctions Ban on Bank Transactions Is 'Mistake'

Dow Jones Wire (via Planet Iran) | Sept 22

The prohibition of all banking transactions with Iran by the U.S.-led sanctions program was "a mistake" and Turkey is lobbying Washington to alter the measures, Turkey's trade minister said Wednesday.

Speaking to journalists in Istanbul after a meeting with the American business forum, Zafer Caglayan, Turkey's foreign trade minister, said the financing of goods not banned by the sanctions program should be permitted.

"We can understand the banning of trade of some goods, but we cannot understand why all of the banking transactions for all goods were banned," he said. "[The] Turkish government started some talks with the U.S. officials for correcting this mistake."

Italian Police Seize Huge Amount of Explosives Headed for Syria

ABC | Sept 22

Italian police have seized seven tons of the powerful RDX explosive which they found in a shipping container they believe were likely destined for a terrorist organization.

While the origin and destination of the contraband is still being investigated, police are convinced the huge amount of explosive was in transit, possibly from Iran to Syria.

"The truly astonishing amount (of explosive) we seized leads us to believe the recipients could be large international criminal organizations, perhaps tied to terrorism," Carmelo Casabona, the chief of police said at a press conference in Reggio Calabria today, according to the ANSA news agency.

Big Claims, But Little Evidence of Cyber Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program

AOL News | Sept 22

The evidence may be scant, and the claims seemingly far-fetched, but a cybersecurity expert is suggesting that a sophisticated new type of malware, called Stuxnet may have been spread in the hopes of bringing down Iran's nuclear program.

"At least one expert who has extensively studied the malicious software, or malware, suggests Stuxnet may have already attacked its target - and that it may have been Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which much of the world condemns as a nuclear weapons threat," the Christian Science Monitor reported Wednesday, based on comments made by Ralph Langner, a German cyber-security researcher.

Jeffrey Carr, a cybersecurity expert, said he found the claims that Stuxnet was targeting Iran "odd" given the lack of specific evidence. "The reality is that Iran, India, and Indonesia all had big problems with this worm, based on three different information security companies," Carr, the founder of GreyLogic, told AOL News. "To take one possibility out of many and to claim that [is the explanation] is irresponsible."

Iranian Bus Crash Kills at Least 28

UPI | Sept 22

A passenger bus plunged into a valley along the Tehran-Saveh highway Wednesday, killing 28 passengers and injuring at least 10 others, officials said.

Police said a preliminary investigation indicated the accident was caused by driver sleepiness, Mehr New Agency reported.

National traffic police commander Mohsen Beigi said the bus, traveling from Ilam to Tehran, broke through a guardrail then fell nearly 33 feet into the valley.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Iran's Near Abroad

Haley Sweetland Edwards (Foreign Policy) | Sept 20

Road signs along the highway heading east to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, note Tehran -- almost 800 miles away and separated by the entire country of Azerbaijan -- as an upcoming destination. On a recent road trip, a Georgian friend of mine swerved to the shoulder, pointing and laughing, so we could take pictures of it. But, however much the inclusion of Tehran may be a source of amusement, it is also a symbol of Iran's recent efforts to expand its influence in the South Caucasus -- efforts that Georgians have cautiously embraced.

Unlike its rabblerousing in much of the Middle East, Iran's involvement in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan has been guided not by religious ideology, but by pragmatic economic and geopolitical goals. In fact, judging from Tehran's vigorous diplomacy this past summer, Iran may prove to be a decisive stabilizing force in the long-volatile South Caucasus. Some optimistic analysts even suggest that Iran's "good behavior" in a strategically important part of the world could mark the first steps -- baby steps, perhaps -- toward rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.

In the past year, Iranian officials have trekked to Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to announce a series of investments in bilateral economic projects and symbolic friendship-building, including the unilateral waiver of visa requirements for Azeri and Georgian citizens traveling to Iran, and an offer to mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the two countries' longstanding dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist region in southwest Azerbaijan claimed by ethnic Armenians. Tehran also recently announced it would partner with Tbilisi to build a new Georgian hydropower plant.

Iranian President Gunning for Foreign Minister

Mehdi Jedinia, Former Editor-in-Chief of Tehran Times (IWPR) | Sept 22

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York this week, attending the United Nations General Assembly alongside his foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. They should be presenting a united front to the world, but diplomats at the meeting should not be too surprised if they see differences emerge between the two men, who are locked in a bitter dispute at home.

The latest bout of infighting in Iran's ruling establishment began in mid-August when President Ahmadinejad appointed four special envoys to cover the Middle East, Asia, the Caspian Sea region and Afghanistan.

The appointment of presidential envoys to oversee key areas of foreign policy was an unprecedented step, and was seized on by angry foreign ministry officials and parliamentarians who accused Ahmadinejad of trying to bypass the ministry by creating a parallel structure.

Foreign Minister Mottaki complained directly to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who retains oversight over Iranian foreign policy.

Legal Curbs Fail to Halt Stonings in Iran

Rasa Sowlat (IWPR) | Sept 21

The Iranian government continue to sanction execution by stoning, despite past judicial rulings against the practice and the massive international damage it does to the country's image.

Every so often, Iran hits the international headlines when a court orders someone to be stoned to death for adultery. International campaigns sometimes embarrass the Iranian authorities into halting or postponing the execution, or simply switching to another form of capital punishment.

The most recent case is that of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiyani, sentenced to be stoned to death for committing adultery during marriage. In July, the sentence was put on hold following an international outcry, but the authorities have not ruled out execution by other means.

For married men and women, extramarital sex is punishable by death by stoning. In practice, the law is applied unequally and women are far more likely to be convicted and killed in this horrific manner, in which the victim is half-buried in the ground and pelted with rocks by a crowd.

It's Time for Obama to Support a UN Rights Monitor on Iran

Dokhi Fassihian, Democracy Coalition Project Executive Director (Middle East Journal/Foreign Policy) | Sept 22

Over the past year, the Obama Administration has missed successive opportunities to bring real international pressure on the Iranian government to address the severe human rights crisis gripping the country. Instead, it has focused its political muscle on the singular objective of convincing Iran's leadership to stop nuclear enrichment. The result has been an almost cruel disregard for the plight of the Iranian people and their urgent need for international attention to their human rights situation.

Since joining the UN Human Rights Council in June 2009, the United States has worked to address crises in places as diverse as Haiti, Honduras, Burma, Sudan, Guinea, Kyrgysztan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yet, since the Green uprising started last summer, not a single resolution has been presented by the United States or European states on the brutal repression taking place in Iran.

By November 2009, five thousand Iranians were in prison, hundreds tortured and raped, and dozens put on show trials and sentenced to death or long prison terms solely for their peaceful demands for free and fair elections. Iran's leading human rights defenders, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, and over a hundred human rights organizations from each corner of the world, called urgently for the UN to increase its attention on the human rights situation in Iran.

How Iran Sees the Sanctions

Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, Lecturer at George Washington University and Scholar at the Middle East Institute (Middle East Journal/Foreign Policy) | Sept 22

The Obama administration has recently been seeking to draw attention to the impact of its new sanctions regime on Iran. Earlier this week, for instance, Treasury undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey told a large audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that "even at this early stage, as pressure is mounting, the strategy is beginning to give us the leverage we seek. It is already working." There are some signs to back this up. Iranian officials have begun to publicly acknowledge that UN/U.S./EU sanctions are taking an increasing toll on the country. Iranian envoys are touring around the world to identify and encourage small banks and entities that do not do business with the U.S. to take advantage of this opportunity and work with Iran.

But while the U.S. hopes that sanctions can affect Iran's calculation with regard to the nuclear program, it is actually pushing Tehran into a highly familiar area. Since its inception, the Islamic Republic has grown in an environment of conflict, isolation and sanctions. The hostage crisis and later the Iran-Iraq war allowed the Islamic government to marginalize its powerful rivals and solidify its base in a relatively isolated and hostile international environment. Sanctions and isolation are not uncharted territory for Iran. These ongoing pressures might bite, but they can also empower the IRGC and other institutions that are able to do an end run around the sanctions and get the country what it needs from the black market. A closer look at how Iranians have been arguing about the sanctions suggests that American hopes for the sanctions may be misplaced.

Iran's Ahmadinejad Harks Back to Koran, Cold War to Turn Tables on the West

Robert Tait (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) | Sept 22

For decades it was the standard rallying cry of the Soviet Union and its sympathizers: that behind the West's rhetorical wall of concern for human rights lay a closet rattling with the skeletons of double standards and hypocrisy.

Now the time-honored Cold War tactic has become the new weapon of choice for Iran's president, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, in a counteroffensive aimed at restoring the Islamic republic's battered image and throwing the West's criticisms back in its face.

But where the Soviets countered critiques about labor camps and political prisoners by focusing on issues like civil rights, mass unemployment, and the conflict in Northern Ireland, Ahmadinejad has gone instead for the personal touch.

Blockbuster US Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia: Will It Deter Iran?

Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) | Sept 21

It is the largest sale of arms that the United States has ever negotiated, and it is aimed squarely at Iran: More than $60 billion worth of American F-15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and missile defense systems will soon be on their way to bolster the arsenal of Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich country which serves as a major bulwark against Iranian influence in the Middle East.

There is little doubt that the arms sale will win approval in Congress once it is notified by the Obama administration. But whether this shipment, to be delivered over the course of the next several years, will deter Iranian nuclear ambitions -- or merely ratchet up tensions in the region -- remains an open question.

DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS

An Hour with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- Full Text

Transcript of Interview with Charlie Rose/PBS (Tabnak) | Sept 20

CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me what you hope to accomplish and where you see Iran at this moment in terms of threatened sanctions, the government of Russia, China, the United States, Britain, and even in your own country.

They say it's no joke. Mr. Rafsanjani said -- former president -- no joke. It could hurt Iran. Iranian business people say this is no joke. It could hurt Iran.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Did you take what Mr. Rafsanjani says seriously?

CHARLIE ROSE: I should not take Mr. Rafsanjani seriously?

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: But have you? Did you?

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Very good, which says that there's freedom in Iran to say what they want. So, you know, there's no such restrictions on what people can say in Iran.

I believe, in responding to your question, that those who resorted to the sanctions really felt that they had no other alternative, are unable to explore other alternatives.

A 'Decent Woman' through the Lens of Iran's State TV

Transcript of Post by Iranian Blogger kindkill3r (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) | Sept 20

Kindkill3r provides some examples of "a decent woman" as seen on the state television:

A woman who chews gum is either a trafficker or a prostitute.

A decent woman is a woman who in the morning emerges from another room (not the same room as her husband) and bids her husband good morning.

A decent woman is a woman who wears clothing that is three or four sizes bigger than her actual size.

A decent woman doesn't wear sunglasses, she has an Arabic name, if she's over 40 she's either washing the dishes or sewing a dress; a decent woman is never reading.

A decent woman is a woman who forgives her husband who has married a second wife by the end of the film.

'They Know Iran Is a Great Power'

Transcript of Interview with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by Iran Daily | Sept 19

[Question]: "Doctor let us briefly consider [discuss] economic issues in continuation. Let us start with sanctions. Unjust and cowardly sanctions have in any case been imposed on our country with effects on certain areas. We see certain effects on the oil, gas and petrochemical industries but beside them, our country's 30-year experience has shown that sanctions also have blessings for us. As our country's president, if you were to refer to these blessings, which achievements would you cite?"

[Answer]: "Let us dissect this issue precisely till its root. What is the meaning of economy? Its meaning is that someone should produce, certain people should provide services and these engage in an exchange. This in short is the economy. We are a country with a very great economic potential. That means we can certainly turn into a global economic power, and our people have the potential, and work has begun. Now some of these forceful powers are saying we are going to impose sanctions. I am asking, what do these sanctions mean, and are they from a position of power or from weakness? We have to know that this measure is from a position of weakness. If it were from a position of power, they would exert pressure and attack our country. The conditions created also show that this was from a position of weakness, because they do not know what to do in the face of our people's logic. They have not obtained results from any of the measures they have taken against the country. They started a war of nerves and made threats and obtained nothing. Now they have come and said we shall impose sanctions. This means they would not be selling us a lot of products, though, some of the world's great countries and more than half of all countries are saying we shall continue economic relations with Iran.

"We have to turn our economy inward firstly, away from its European orientation, and secondly have exchanges with other countries of the world. This requires effort of course but it has to be done. We must say separately that these sanctions have effects on us, but also on them. Look, America has not had exchanges with us for 30 years. While they have no relations they are on one side of sanctions and in reality the Americans have imposed sanctions on others. They have decided, you have no right to sell goods to Iran, or you have no right to make a profit. In reality the Americans are pressuring the economy of others; they had no relations, and now they are depriving others.

"The Europeans have about 23bn dollars of exchanges with us, of which 3.6bn dollars are Iranian exports to them and about 19bn dollars are their exports to us. They have declared we would not give Iran some of the goods. Let us say they would not give us any of the 19bn dollars. We do not want this of course but the question is what will happen if there is no trade? The answer is clear. Firstly our internal production will grow fast as our domestic infrastructures, capabilities, universities and experts are able to build everything, and this is a source of growth and prosperity for the country. Secondly this will provide an opportunity for others. When there is an intense economic race amid free competition, everyone in the world is looking for customers. The Europeans are saying we will not sell our goods; fine, do not sell, there are 50 other countries queuing up. Now there may be frictions and some difficulty or they may disrupt the market, but these really are not the effects of this issue.

"They really have given the issue too much importance. With a war of nerves around it, they want to fill up the empty space of the ineffectiveness of these scraps of paper, because it is not really having an effect on people's lives. Our country's economy has a domestic turnover of around 900,000bn tomans a year; so the 19bn are not a significant figure by comparison. On the other hand if Iranian traders help a little, the price of goods would be cheaper in our country, because the goods they do not sell officially, they sell as contraband. This means that as the goods are not coming through customs, they do not pay taxes and tariffs, so the goods, meaning European goods, have to be cheaper. They sell any goods as contraband they themselves have prohibited. Many of their own companies have said in any case that they do not accept the sanctions and will work with Iran.

"The sanctions create some difficulties for our government and industrialists, but this difficulty is sweet, because with the belief there is in our country, this becomes an exceptional opportunity. Any pressure they exert becomes a positive equation for moving forward. This fortunately has happened and you see that nobody has allowed sanctions to intimidate them. We have meetings with industrialists and traders, and they say we will fix this problem. In reality the sanctions have become a blessing and opportunity for our nation and God willing, they will increase the pace of our economic progress."

[Question]: "I agree with you in the area of equipment and their supplies, because they really have become an opportunity, but what about banking?"

[Answer]: "The same is true there. In fact this issue has provided us an international opportunity. They have devised and created a network, but this is not a network that can fill every point. It has filled one part, but left thousands of gaps. Many countries are dissatisfied with the banking and monetary order governing the world. They consider this a cause of injustice to themselves and of economic discrimination. They seek a new order. So this is a good opportunity for us to shape a new order. We have been in touch with and come to agreements with more than 40 countries in this respect.

"On the other hand not all banking systems and exchanges pass through New York and London. There are independent systems that adequately get on with their business. Sanctions have opened new paths for us that are cheaper, less costly, better and more accessible. Even if they were to lift the sanctions we refuse to return to the previous relations. We are not prepared to hand our money and capital back to the Europeans and then beg them for it. We have now brought our capital assets back under our own administration and have thus activated our economy, with the profits going into our own people's pockets. These people give 1 or 2 percent profit on their exchanges and use the same as a lever to pressure us. So our Central Bank has declared we will take our capital.

"These financial systems rotate with our money and that of people like us, so they will harm themselves with such measures. The Europeans will suffer most here as the Americans had no relations. The Europeans will lose out in the short term, while also losing the Iranian market."

[Question]: "We can move on from the issue of sanctions with this question. As the country is about to implement the targeting of subsidies, certain experts believe sanctions have an effect and it would be good for the plan to be postponed. What do you think?"

[Answer]: "The two subjects are unrelated. With God's blessing the plan of targeting the subsidies will be vigorously implemented. Of course certain people think this will be an opportunity to engage in publicity against the government and the nation and harm the country but they should know, they are mistaken and this plan is entirely popular in nature and will be implemented with the people's help. Separately now that they say we will stop petrol exports to Iran, petrol use in the country must come down and the people have to say with this gesture that in spite of sanctions, they will get on with their business using less petrol. This means greater efficiency, which is precisely the aim of the economic-change plan."

[Question]: "Iran's proposal to the 5+1 group and especially America on discussing various international issues did not meet a positive response. Which realities does this reveal? What does it prove?"

[Answer]: "Look do not expect the five or six countries that have divided the world among themselves to easily accept what Iran has to say, when it has forcefully come forward and taken up a position and wants a dialogue on various global issues. They have of course accepted this matter, which means they know and admit that Iran is a great power but it is difficult for them to recognize the matter, and they want concessions. They try and give the least opportunity and obstruct our business so Iran would finally step back, but they have accepted in principle that Iran is a forward-moving and emerging power, which has something to say in international arenas. Now they have disagreement among themselves. Some are saying that if we do not recognize Iran's power, Iran will take over these areas instead of us. Others are saying we have to pressure Iran and concede as little as possible, to wear down Iran's power. Others are saying let us act in such a way so as to let this governme nt's remaining three years pass. But we want to be outside their sphere of dominance. So we have to resist.

"They are obliged to talk to us. They have no alternative to dialogue with us. In reality dialogue benefits them more and gives them an opportunity. They have accepted the principle of dialogue about global issues, and they say we should talk about Iran's nuclear issue. We have said we shall not discuss our nuclear rights, which is really our evident right, but we would talk about general issues. If you have concerns in this regard, we too shall talk about concerns related to you, we shall talk about global disarmament, list the dangers of the atomic bomb for the world, discuss the economy, security [...] As I said, they have not ruled out talks in this respect. They had said that talks should specifically be about Iran's nuclear issue. But the Iranian nuclear issue has two parts: One is our evident rights. Again I stress, we shall absolutely not talk about this issue, this issue is related to our sovereignty and we ! do not have discussion on our sovereignty. However, we shall talk about collaborations including nuclear cooperation, availability of power stations, joint installations to produce centrifuges with Iran, formation of a fuel consortium [...]

"But if they say you have to accept this law in addition to the new law, we will say no, we shall accept it if we want. Last year an American journalist asked whether or not we would finally accept the additional protocol. So I said, yes. The journalist asked, when? I said, whenever America. If it is good we will accept it together. Regarding new negotiations, I hope they will start. We mentioned certain issues on which they have to comment, and certain countries have to join the negotiating group."

[Question]: "How do you assess the perspective of negotiations with the signatories of the Tehran Declaration and members of the Vienna group?"

[Answer]: "The Tehran Declaration was in itself a big issue. It was not just about the nuclear issue. It was in fact a rift in the political relations dominating the world. America and certain others had imposed on the world that all political processes must begin and move according to their will. The Tehran Declaration was an initiative that happened outside the will of America and its friends. They tried to break it of course. One of the reasons for issuing a resolution against Iran was to say that nobody should have the right to have any initiative outside their determination, but the Tehran declaration remained alive. It continued its existence and changed the perspective in the world. This means that a new belief has taken shape in the world that is outside their will.

"The Tehran Declaration will do its work, even if it does not lead to an agreement on provision of fuel for the Tehran reactor. They are very angry with Brazil, Turkey, and Iran because their unchallenged do minance has been broken. They had urged them to ask Iran to exchange fuel. But with this initiative, the Tehran Declaration took shape on the basis of justice. The Tehran Declaration is really a change in the philosophy of the world's political management. It is a charter that includes all our demands, like justice, the rejection of forceful ways, law for everyone, nuclear weapons for nobody and nuclear power for everyone. Even if we remove Brazil and Turkey from our issue, this declaration does its work in the political sphere.

"The belief has taken shape in the world that one can work and decide independently. I hope we shall agree to exchange fuel in the meeting due to take place in Vienna. We have already said that we prefer cooperation over confrontation, but the choice is theirs. We have never taken a step toward confrontation. In the nuclear issue, meaning nuclear technology, we have always been in the defensive position, meaning we have never attacked or committed violation. If they agree, we shall cooperate with them and there are no restrictions on collaborations but we shall not permit anyone to enter the area of nuclear rights."

[Question]: "Our nuclear officials have said repeatedly that our aim in 20-percent enrichment is the provision of fuel for the Tehran reactor. Does this mean that if necessary guarantees were given by the Vienna group at the conclusion of talks that this fuel would be supplied, we would abandon 20-percent enrichment?"

[Answer]: "This fuel must of course be placed inside the Tehran reactor, and the reactor's activity must proceed smoothly. We have bad experience of cooperation with these people. They closed deals with us repeatedly and then broke them unilaterally. They have to provide the fuel and the reactor has to start its activity and our mind would have to be at rest over fuel provision for 15-20 years. Then we shall talk about 20-percent enrichment. Last year there were negotiations. They said they would give fuel for nine months to one year. Now they are saying two years. If we were to sign a deal and they were to stop giving us fuel after two years, who will answer for it?

"So we shall move in the framework of the law with fuel provision. We do not insist on producing 20-percent fuel but this is a need and necessity. If they had sold the fuel from day one we would not have invested in fuel equipment. Now we wish to start four to five reactors to meet our needs to produce drugs, but just look at how they are starting to behave like charlatans. Making 20-percent fuel simply has nothing to do with making bombs [...] meaning it is not a step toward 90-per-cent enrichment because the path is different. If you produce 3.5 percent enriched uranium you can also produce 90 percent enrichment. It is enough on that very first day to take the 3.5 percent and upgrade it to 90 percent."

[Question]: "You referred to a 15-20-year time line for the provision of fuel. Does this mean we shall continue the production of 20-percent fuel during this time?"

[Answer]: "No, if they do not give us fuel, we shall continue to produce fuel for as long as we need. As I said, if they give us fuel, we shall discuss the 20 percent. We have to be certain that the 20-percent fuel will always come and will face no problems. Because they did not give us fuel and politicized the issue, we were forced to make this fuel. Now whenever they decide to give fuel that can be used in the reactor, we can reconsider this issue. Waste from the Tehran reactor's 20-percent fuel is also useless and has to be buried."

[Question]: "We can turn to domestic affairs with this question. The Fifth Development Plan is one of the issues of current concern in the country. As president, what is your expectation of parliamentarians in examining the plan? And given the approaches the government has taken in drafting this programme, what will be the state of the Iranian economy at the end of the implementation of the Fifth Development Plan, which is really half-way point of the Outlook Programme?"

[Answer]: "I thank the honourable MPs. We form a common group with representatives, and are not separate. But there is a division of task. The government is in charge of devising the programme and giving it shape, and representatives have to look at it. If there are questions we have to provide answers. If there is a drawback somewhere we have to amend it and send it to parliament. We do not expect the parliament to write its own plan and essentially put aside the bill. This is a mistake and constitutes parallel work, or parliament repeating what the government has already done in keeping with the law. We expect the plan's cohesion and the focus to remain. The plan presented to the parliament revolves around issues, and on that basis we have resolved certain basic issues in the country."

"One, for example, is agriculture. We have to eventually take it to the point where we do not suffer ups and downs and harm every day. The same goes for industry, housing and technology. The issue-based approach must not become a coherent programme. The coherent programme means the country's resources being distributed. The duties set out in the plan must balance with and conform to the country's real resources. If we have 100 units of resources for example, we should not impose 300 units of duties, as this will provoke disputes and a dispersion of resources and the plan's objectives will not be realized. Everyone must do their duty. The government must draft the bill, and wherever parliament has questions we shall provide explanations. Wherever there are flaws we will make changes but it is not in the country's benefit to change it completely, from top to bottom. The government is the country's specialist body and parliament its supervisor and we are all together. We have tried to proceed with that outlook. In the country's affairs we are satisfied with the minimums that allow one to work, but the government's technical work has to be respected, because the government has to be able to run the country.

"My belief is that at the end of the plan, we shall have more than half of the Outlook, seeing as some of the Outlook's goals have been realized in certain places at the end of this plan. Right now we are first in the region in many sectors, and in some sectors we have something to say in the world. God willing the goals of the Outlook will be realized earlier than 20 years. That means we shall have gone further than half way at the half-way point. Finally everyone has to help with this work and the government should not be forced to expend a very large part of its capacity to overcome obstacles that do not have to exist. If there are no obstacles our harvest will be greater and efficiency will be greater."

[Question]: "This analysis shows that the average growth rate in the next five years will be 8 percent. Or at the very least we have to have eight per cent growth. Do you think Iran's economy really has this capacity?"

[Answer]: "Yes. Iran's economy has this capacity, and its condition is preparation of minds, ending wastage of resources and this also requires centralization in decision-taking. If every sector is managed from various places, there will be fewer returns on work. If the instruments are in the government's hands we can attain that 8 percent. But we have to consider that in these years we have had growth exceeding eight per cent in some sectors. In industry we have experienced very high growth but we must make the calculation method a little more scientific, precise and more realistic. Now we are on the verge of a leap. Infrastructures like water, electricity, gas [...] have been expanded, likewise logistics, steel, cement [...] are at hand. We are certain that we can experience continuous growth above 8 percent in Iran. The condition is that management should be allowed to manage.

"If the government cannot shift the credits for a project or decide, how can it run the country? Perspectives must change of course. Presently anyone with an understanding of the economy wants to implement that. Everyone must accept eventually that the government chosen by the people is in charge of management and it must run the economy. Its programmes must be implemented in the country. If they permit it, these things are feasible, especially for this government, which is a government of work and great decisions. On other hand certain people do not believe certain matters in the country's development and deny them for the extent of their disbelief. We are saying ten million tonnes of steel were produced in 50 years, but this government added eight million tonnes these four-five years. Is that possible, they ask, and we say go look yourselves, the number of dams roads and hospitals built, cement, aluminium and...is clear. I have told my colleagues to organize tours to show these ad vances to some of these people and that work can be done in this country. Right now in countries that experience 9- or 10-percent growth rates, there is a firm and centralized management."

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