Headlines: Exposed Regime Report Details '09 Vote Fraud Plot
21 Sep 2010 08:43
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.
Coup Preplanned According to Supreme National Security Council Report
Rooz | Sept 20
Rooz has obtained access to the original source responsible for leaking an audio recording attributed to commander Moshfegh speaking to a group of clerics in the city of Mashad. Rooz has also obtained a copy of a report prepared by senior analysts at the intelligence ministry, state security forces, and Islamic Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for the Supreme National Security Council and presented to the regime's senior officials.
Over the past few months, an audio recording was distributed widely online in which an alleged IRGC commander lays harsh accusations against prominent reformist figures as well as seyyed Hassan Khomeini, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, seyyed Mohammad Khatami and ayatollah Sanei. The speech is attributed to commander Moshfegh, from the IRGC's Sarallah base, and it cites various portions of the Supreme National Security Council's 110-page report, a full copy of which is in Rooz's possession.
The Supreme National Security Council's report, which is relied on heavily by commander Moshfegh, reveals that plans to engineer the June 12 presidential election were prepared a long time before the election by the country's senior leaders. The report also reveals that the mass arrest of journalists and political prisoners in the days after the June 12 presidential election were preplanned, with the IRGC having carried out the necessary research and operations before the election.
Karroubi's Letter Draws Fire from Islamic Republic Hardliners
Radio Zamaneh | Sept 20
Iranian hardliners called for the prosecution of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi for his recent letter to Chairman of the Assembly of Experts demanding a re-evaluation of Iran's Supreme Leader's eligibility for his role.
IRNA reports that a number of Iranian Members of Parliament announced that the recent letter of Mehdi Karroubi to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani goes to show that the tolerant policy of the judiciary with regard to the "leaders of sedition" have made them "bolder" and warned that "it is not advisable to show more tolerance" with them.
The hardline MPs condemn what they refer to as "impertinence" of Karroubi's letter and describe him as a "tool in the hands of US and British intelligence forces."
The lawmakers rebuke the judiciary for failing to confront the opposition leader, saying, "The failure of the judiciary to prosecute them has led these seditious elements to think that they are in the right and the regime does not dare confront them."
Zahra Bahrami under Pressure to Make False Confessions
RAHANA | Sept 20
Iranian-Dutch citizen Zahra Bahrami is under pressure by the interrogators to make false confessions such as "involvement in sale and possession of drugs."
According to the Human Rights and Democracy Activists, she has been under pressure by the interrogators of the Evin Prison Ward 209 to confess to the false allegation of drug sale.
According to the report, she appeared in front of Judge Salavati, the head of the 15th branch of the Revolutionary Court, on September 8 and September 11. She refused to speak in the court since her attorney, Nasrin Sotoodeh, is in prison and the trial was postponed.
The next court hearing for Bahrami, who was detained after the Ashura events in December, will be held on September 23.
Zahra Bahrami is 45 and has two children. She is a Dutch-Iranian citizen and had traveled to Iran to visit her child.
According to the reports, the interrogators and Judge Salavati have threatened that she will either receive a death sentence or life in prison.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: What Government Crackdowns? Iran Is Full of Freedom
Daily News (New York) | Sept 20
Iran's president claimed with a straight face Monday that his country is a veritable cradle of liberty.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that political opponents are free to demonstrate, refusing to acknowledge that groups like the opposition Green Movement have been driven underground by a vicious government crackdown.
"When we discuss the subject of freedoms and liberty it has to be done on a comparative basis and to keep in mind that democracy at the end of the day means the rule of the majority, so the minority cannot rule," Ahmadinejad said.
"In Iran I think nobody loses their job because of making a statement that reflects their opinion.... From this point of view, conditions in Iran are far better than in many other places in the world."
Special Report: Tracking Iran's Nuclear Money Trail to Turkey
Reuters | Sept 20
Turkey and other U.S. allies have been allowing Iranian banks with suspected links to Tehran's nuclear program to do business within their borders, frustrating Western countries trying to put a financial squeeze on the Islamic Republic, Reuters has learned.
An examination of classified reports and interviews with Western diplomats, government and intelligence officials underscore that Turkey and others have resisted international pressure to make it harder for Iran to finance its uranium enrichment program.
"Turkey's blossoming financial-economic relationship with Iran provides Iran with a gateway to the entire European financial system," according to an intelligence report on Turkey and Iran provided to Reuters by a diplomat. "The fact that Turkey is allowing itself to be used as a conduit for Iranian activity via Turkish banks and the Turkish lira is making it possible for Iranian funds in Turkish guise to make their way into Europe."
Iran Hits at U.N. Nuclear Watchdog, Defies West
Reuters | Sept 20
Iran said on Monday the U.N. nuclear watchdog was suffering a crisis of "moral authority and credibility," underlining worsening relations between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In a speech to IAEA member states including the United States, Iran's nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi also voiced continued defiance over international demands that the Islamic state stop work the West suspects is aimed at making atom bombs.
"The uncivilized double-track approach of threat and dialogue cannot be conducive and fruitful," he said, referring to the West's policy of imposing sanctions on Iran while offering incentives for it to back down in the eight-year row.
Experts: Iran Still Fails to Provide Itself with Petrol
Trend (Azerbaijan) | Sept 18
Despite numerous assurances of Iranian officials on Iran's ability to provide itself with petrol and not to depend on its import, experts think that these statements are wrong.
"This is not supported by the facts. Iran still imports huge amounts of gasoline," professor at the U.S National Defense University and Georgetown University Paul Sullivan told Trend.
Sullivan said that Iran has been putting massive amounts of money into the development of a full nuclear fuel cycle, within a relatively small economy, instead of more fully and rationally developing its oil and natural gas infrastructures and business systems.
Lindsey Graham Says U.S. Must Prepare to Attack Iran
McClatchy | Sept 20
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Monday that the United States must be prepared to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon -- and added that the last-resort step should be taken with the goal of overthrowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Graham, a military lawyer and a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, became the first senator to support direct U.S. military intervention in Iran, saying it should not involve ground troops but be launched by U.S. warplanes and ships.
"If you use military force against Iran, you've opened up Pandora's box," Graham told the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "If you allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, you've emptied Pandora's box. I'd rather open up Pandora's box than empty it."
Clinton Did Not Ask for Regime Change in Iran: Spokesman
AFP | Sept 20
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not call for regime change in Tehran when she asked at the weekend for "responsible" leaders to assert control in Iran, her spokesman said Monday.
"She was simply questioning the relationship between some elements of the regime and the growing importance of the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and military elements within the Iranian hierarchy," he said.
"The military elements, security elements have taken a more prominent role in terms of the suppression of people's ability to assemble, to demonstrate, to engage in political activity," Crowley said.
"To the extent that there are leaders in Iran who see themselves as being responsible for, responsive to all the people, they should step forward," Crowley said.
Iran Feels Pain of Sanctions -- U.S. Treasury's Levey
Reuters | Sept 20
Iran is struggling with international sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions and pressure on its economy and banking sector is mounting, a senior U.S. Treasury official said on Monday.
"The financial measures the U.S. and others around the world are implementing are imposing serious costs and constraints on Iran," Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in excerpts of prepared remarks.
"We believe Iran's leadership was caught off guard by the speed, intensity and scope of the new measures, misjudging the strength of the international community's will."
Iranian Ambassador Sees Great Potential for Iran-China Co-op
Xinhua | Sept 20
Iran and China, with different economic advantages, could complement each other in many areas, the Iranian ambassador in China has told Xinhua.
In an interview with Xinhua late Sunday, Ambassador Mahdi Safari said there was great potential for Iran-China cooperation.
Referring to bilateral trade, Safari expressed his confidence that it could reach 40 and 50 billion U.S. dollars per year in the future, compared to the current 30 billion dollars.
Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will pay an official visit to Iran later this month.
Lawmaker Wary of China/Iran Ties
Reuters | Sept 20
Wary that Chinese oil companies could be undermining new U.S. sanctions against Iran, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said he would push the Obama administration to investigate.
To try to get Iran to drop its nuclear work, the U.S. Congress passed sanctions that were signed into law in July targeting financial services and Iran's energy sector, hitting Iran's ability to import gasoline and secure foreign investment.
Representative Howard Berman told the Reuters Washington Summit on Monday that he and the top Republican on the foreign affairs committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, will meet administration officials soon over concerns foreign oil companies, some of which have U.S. subsidiaries, are violating the new law.
A U.S. think tank last week released a report identifying 10 major Chinese energy companies still doing business with Iran, including China National Offshore Oil Co, China National Petroleum Co, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, and Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp.
Peres: Ahmadinejad Is 'a Living Declaration against the UN'
Jerusalem Post | Sept 20
Addressing the UN General Assembly on Monday, President Shimon Peres denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying, "There is enough room for friendship in the Middle East."
"The formal leader of Iran has said that there is no future for Israel in the Middle East," Peres told the General Assembly. "I believe that the Middle East has room for every person, every nation, every religion. I believe that every person was created in the image of the Lord, and that there is just one Lord, who calls not to hate, not to threaten, not to seek superiority, and not to kill."
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Peres called Ahmadinejad "a living declaration against the charter of the UN," referencing the provision of the UN charter that states that a member state cannot threaten another with destruction.
"He calls for our destruction, and also supplies arms to every terrorist organization in the Middle East," Peres told reporters.
Iran Calls for Intl. Pressure on Israel
Press TV | Sept 20
Tehran calls on the international community to put pressure on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi says.
"It should be noted that the 2010 NPT Review Conference reiterated the necessity of Israel joining the Treaty and placing its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards."
Salehi expressed regret that due to the support given to Israel by its Western allies, no measure has so far been adopted in this regard.
NY's Congressional Delegation Take On United Nations in Advance of Ahmadinejad Visit
New York Observer | Sept 20
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is slated to address the United Nations on Thursday, and so members of New York's congressional delegation took the opportunity to unleash their inner-John Bolton, the Bush-era ambassador to the UN who famously advocated lopping ten stories off the building.
Queens congressman Anthony Weiner [said,] "One snake slithers on to Manhattan island this time of year and we are all tested on how we respond to that. [...] And I can tell you, the United Nations behind me, you see the top few floors are under construction. If the United Nations does not stand up to Ahmadinejad, what are they even here for? You might as well stop the reconstruction now and tear the building down. If the United Nations does not exist for the purpose of stopping outlaw rogue nations like Ahmadinejad's nation of Iran, they should not exist."
Queens congressman Joe Crowley [said,] "Crime scene tape should really be around the United Nations because later today a crime will take place. Ahmadinejad, the so-called President of Iran will speak there today to the rest of the world leaders. He is not a legitimate world leader. He should be arrested."
Manhattan congressman Jerrold Nadler [said,] "If the United Nations were remotely what its founders intended it to be, President Ahmadinejad would not be addressing it. Rather, his regime would be the subject of Article 51, collective military action by the United Nations. It would have been expelled from the U.N., and the U.N. would be dealing with it as the menace to world peace that it is."
See also: "NY Governor, Senator among Officials Protesting Iranian President Visiting NYC" (Canadian Press/AP)
Iranian Commander Warns Potential Aggressors of Heavy Casualties
Fars | Sept 20
A senior Iranian commander dismissed the possibility of a US or Israeli invasion of Iran, saying that any military action against Tehran would inflict heavy damage and casualties on the aggressors.
"Given the internal situation in the US and Israel, the start of a war against the Iranian nation is impossible since Iran would inflict a heavy loss and damage on them," Iran's Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hassan Firouzabadi said on Monday.
"I don't think they wage war on Iran since such a measure is madness under the present conditions that Zionists are experiencing a situation even worse than that of the Americans," Firouzabadi added.
Revolutionary Guards Prepare for Aerial Attacks
Rooz | Sept 20
Hossein Hamedani, commander of the Islamic Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Mohammad Rasoulallah brigade, which played the main role in suppressing the post-election protestors, announced yesterday that the provincial IRGC bases are being armed with light jets to carry out "reconnaissance missions."
According to Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the security establishment, this IRGC commander said yesterday at a press conference, "The defense minister has pledged to provide provincial IRGC bases with the ultra-light jets."
The news quickly made its way to the front pages of pro-administration media outlets. The administration's official news agency, IRNA, quoted Hossein Hamedani under the headline "Security Over Cities."
The websites Javan Online and Raja News also welcomed the announcement. The plan is announced even though the IRGC is explicitly charged with defending the country's territorial integrity in face of foreign attacks.
Developer Withdraws Anti-Censorship Software for Iranians
Epoch Times | Sept 16
Software designed to allow Iranians to circumvent government monitoring of Internet traffic in Iran has been withdrawn amid security fears.
The widely praised Haystack program was designed to allow Iranian dissidents to communicate without fear of being observed by government censors.
However, the software has been withdrawn after an independent review discovered key flaws in the security of the design that have potentially put thousands of Iranians at risk of arrest.
A notice on the website of the Censorship Research Center (CRC) -- the volunteer group behind the project -- warns people to not use the program.
Support for Iraq's Maliki Puts U.S., Iran in Same Camp
NPR | Sept 20
There are signs of progress in Iraq's more than six-month political stalemate.
Current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is beginning to shore up support for a coalition he has formed in order to remain in the top job for a second term -- despite the fact that his party lost by a narrow margin in parliamentary elections March 7.
Maliki's list of supporters includes two countries that don't often find themselves on the same team: the U.S. and Iran.
Iran to Send Large Cargos of Donors' Relief Aids to Pakistan
Fars | Sept 20
A senior official of Iran's Red Crescent Society announced that Iranians on Thursday and Friday donated over 3,600 tons of humanitarian aids to help the flood-hit people in Pakistan, and said that the aid convoy will be dispatch to the country in the next few days.
Head of the society Abolhassan Faqih told reporters on Monday that on the Pakistan Solidarity Day held in Iran last Thursday and Friday over 3,600 tons of aids were collected by the society's bases throughout the country.
Faqih added that the Iranian nations' humanitarian aids to the Pakistanis will be sent to the country via air, road and sea.
He added that Iranian Army and the Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC) will help the society send the air cargos.
Azeri Envoy: Baku Seeking to Further Economic Ties with Tehran
Fars | Sept 20
Baku's Ambassador to Tehran underlined his country's willingness to boost economic exchanges with Iran, stating that the two countries aim to increase annual trade exchanges to $10 bln.
"As regards economy, the value of (mutual) economic exchanges stands at $500 to $600 million. Our goal is to reach $10 billion (in trade exchanges)," Javanshir Akhundov said, addressing a seminar in Tehran, dubbed as 'Azerbaijan Republic: Past Experiences, Future Prospects,' on Sunday.
Iranian Architecture Society Calls for National Registration of Cyrus Cylinder
Tabnak | Sept 21
The Iranian Society of Architecture Luminaries has proposed that Iran register the Cyrus Cylinder on the National Cultural Heritage List.
"We should seize this opportunity caused by the arrival of the Cyrus Cylinder in the country to register it on the list," society director Alireza Qahhari told the Persian service of the Mehrnews on Monday.
"Although the Cyrus Cylinder is not kept in Iran, it belongs to the country and we should emphasize this fact by national and international registration of this artifact," Qahhari stated.
Iran Asserts Its Supremacy
The Hindu | Sept 21
Iran once again proved its supremacy over India, this time winning the final of the third Asian volleyball championship (central zone) 25-19, 25-22, 29-27 at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here on Monday.
Iran's play was convincing and authoritative. Showing an all-round play with power and precision in front of a goodly crowd, the Iranians were far superior to the home side in tactics, technique and temperament.
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Iran's Ahmadinejad Ahead in Political In-Fighting
Parisa Hafezi (Reuters) | Sept 20
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's list of enemies is long, ranging from western governments to reformists at home and emerging rivals in his own hardline camp. But support from Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei still ensures him the upper hand.
Discord among the hardline rulers in the Islamic Republic has never been so public. The rift has little to do with Iran's nuclear row with the West or with the pro-reform opposition, which rejects Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election as rigged.
So bad has the feuding become that Khamenei admonished faction leaders last month and made a public statement, flanked by Ahmadinejad and his main rivals, on the need for unity.
Delhi's Tehran Conundrum
In the wake of the International Atomic Energy Agency's recent report raising fresh concerns about Iran's nuclear capabilities, American allies from France to Japan have added their voices to the chorus asking Tehran to come clean. Not India, which not only supported a strongly worded statement from the 118-member Nonaligned Movement criticizing the report but also moved to exempt one of its joint shipping ventures in Iran from the latest round of United Nations sanctions.
Iran has long been a litmus test that India has had to pass to satisfy American policy makers. New Delhi's bond with Tehran has been termed variously by analysts as an "axis," a "strategic partnership" and even an "alliance." This level of scrutiny has always been disproportionate to the reality of the relationship. When in the past India had to choose between Iran and the United States, it always sided with the latter. But the shifting strategic landscape may be forcing New Delhi to rethink its approach.
The Iranian Ballistic Missile Threat and a "Phased, Adaptive Approach" to Missile Defense for Europe
Iran's position in the Middle East is unique. Iran is a Persian country surrounded by Arabs and other non-Persian ethnic groups. Iran is a Shia Muslim country surrounded by mostly Sunni Muslims and some Christians. It sees the presence of Western militaries in neighboring countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. As such, Iran perceives an existential threat. Feeling threatened, Iran continues to develop offensive and defensive military capabilities including long-range ballistic missiles and proxy groups, and probably views a nuclear-armed ballistic missile as a credible deterrent against an external attack.
The threats posed by Iran's ballistic missiles and the nexus of Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs are of great concern to the U.S., NATO, and the international community. While Iran claims its missiles are defensive in nature and its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, insufficient cooperation and transparency on Iran's part leaves these claims open to serious debate.
Given Iran's military capabilities and ambiguous intent, the international community has gone to great lengths to engage Iran diplomatically. The U.S., NATO members and Middle Eastern countries have also engaged in threat mitigation activities including non-proliferation efforts, economic sanctions and the deployment of missile defense systems.
In September 2009, President Barack Obama announced a new U.S. missile defense policy for Europe called the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA). The new U.S. approach is largely based upon the growing threat posed by Iran's ballistic missile capability.
See also: "The Iranian Ballistic Missile Hype" (Mark Pyruz/Uskowi on Iran)
Iran's Real Nuclear Strategy May Be Marked by Restraint
Is Iran really hell-bent on becoming a nuclear-armed state? Or will it settle for nuclear capability, able to make weapons but choosing not to? Does the difference matter?
Few international questions involve higher stakes than these. An immediate concern, if deep pessimism about Iran's intentions prevails, is a preventive Israeli strike, leading to another major Middle East war -- with catastrophic consequences for the global economy likely.
No one should underestimate the difficulty of assessing Iran's real intentions. Mixed signals from competing power centers don't help; nor does the recurring contrast between Iranian officials' usually strident public pronouncements and often-moderate private discourse. Pessimists and skeptics have plenty to point to in Iran's long record of obstruction and brinkmanship in addressing legitimate international concerns about its nuclear programs.
That said, too many policymakers and commentators have rushed to judgment, insisting that Iran is irrevocably determined to build nuclear weapons, or that it wants a break-out capability that is just as dangerous. In fact, there is good reason to believe that the situation is less alarming and more containable than this. While a negotiated settlement acceptable to both Iran and the rest of the international community would be a hugely difficult undertaking, it is achievable.
Foreign Policy: Accepting Help from Tehran
By coincidence, I happened to read two stories back-to-back: the Iranian regime is apparently dangling offers to help us in Afghanistan; and Secretary Robert Gates thinks the proliferation-related sanctions are hurting Iran more than expected. My reading them back-to-back may be a coincidence, but I suspect the stories are related in a fundamental way.
David Ignatius notes one way the stories are related: Skeptics will argue against grasping the Iranian dangle for fear that would "dilute the main focus of Iran policy, which is stopping Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons." He claims that similar fears derailed an earlier potentially fruitful collaboration with Iran on Iraq in 2006, and he hopes the Obama administration won't make the same "mistake." To bolster his case, he cites "hardliners" in Tehran who exploited the abortive diplomatic maneuvers in 2006 to discredit the United States as a negotiating partner.
But I don't find Ignatius's reasoning very persuasive because he avoids addressing the most obvious connection. Perhaps Iran is dangling these offers now precisely so as to disrupt the sanctions.
DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS
UN Stoning Call
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution, Germany; Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Iran Solidarity, Equal Rights Now and One Law for All, UK; Shahla Abghar, Women's Rights Activist, USA; and 37 others (Guardian) | Sept 21
We are writing to ask that the UN general assembly condemn stoning as a crime against humanity and issue an emergency resolution calling for an end to the medieval and barbaric punishment as well as the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and others sentenced to death by stoning.
We also ask that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not be allowed to address the general assembly and that his government be boycotted.
A government that still stones people to death in the 21st century must have no place in the United Nations or any other international institution or body.
Stand Up to Ahmadinejad's Falsehoods
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lied outright about the stoning sentence of Sakineh Ashtiani during an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour on 19 September, by denying a stoning sentence was ever issued, despite well-documented evidence to the contrary the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said.
The international community, world leaders, and members of the media present in New York for the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, should strongly register their protests against Ahmadinejad's lies about the critical situation of human rights in Iran, the group said.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is publishing a court document from Ashtiani's case that states her sentence as stoning. The document is the appeals form filed by her lawyer, Hootan Kian, with the Supreme Court on 7 July 2010.
"Miss Mohammadi was never sentenced to stoning. This was news that was produced and incorrect...there was no sentence of stoning issued in the first place...this was the news that was made up," Ahmadinejad told Amanpour.
"In every interview and at every meeting Ahmadinejad should be reminded that the world is well aware of the great injustices and repression carried out against the Iranian people at the hands of his government," said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign's spokesperson.
"They should tell him clearly and loudly that documented evidence shows he is not telling the truth," he added.