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Headlines: US Accuses Iran of Intimidating Nuclear Inspectors

16 Sep 2010 02:021 Comment

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. 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. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow other news stories through our Twitter feed.

US Accuses Iran of Intimidating Nuclear Inspectors

AP | Sept 15

The United States accused Iran on Wednesday of intimidating U.N. inspectors investigating its nuclear program in an effort to influence their findings -- a move an American diplomat suggested allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to consider "appropriate action."

Glyn Davies, the chief U.S. delegate to the nuclear agency, did not go into details in comments to the agency's 35-nation board. But he referred to the phrase "appropriate action" as part of the authority given the board if the agency's inspectors are hampered in carrying out their duties by the nation under inspection.

If the country is found to have violated commitments on how and what the International Atomic Energy Agency is allowed to inspect, the board could then formally report the breach to the U.N. Security Council in a resolution -- a move that would add to the international pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear activities.

Davies told the board meeting that barring inspectors because "they report accurately ... is unprecedented."

Iran's ban is a "clear effort to intimidate inspectors and thereby influence the conclusions" they make, he said.

See also: "West Blasts Iran for Trying to Intimidate IAEA" (AFP) | "FM: All Iran's N. Activities Monitored by IAEA" (Fars) | "IAEA Requests Arising from UN Resolution Are Illegal: Iran Envoy" (Tehran Times) | "NAM Displeased with Amano's Equivocal Language on Iran" (Fars)

UN Urged to Move Quickly on Iran Sanctions Panel

Reuters | Sept 15

The United Nations has been slow to set up a panel to monitor Iran's compliance with U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program and needs to do so quickly, U.S., British and French envoys said on Wednesday.

"We are concerned by the delay in setting up the panel, and we urge a renewed focus to enable this body to become operational as soon as possible," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told the council during a meeting on Iran.

She also said the council and U.N. sanctions committee should "consider an appropriate response to Iran's serial violations of Security Council resolutions."

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and his French counterpart, Gerard Araud, echoed Rice's concerns. Lyall Grant urged the council to "make every effort to operationalize this panel as soon as possible."

See also: "West Calls for Tougher Action on Iran Sanctions" (AFP)

Iran's Nuclear Power Plant Launch Stirring Unease

Los Angeles Times | Sept 14

The upcoming launch of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant has sparked fresh worries in the Persian Gulf about a possible atomic accident, but also will usher in an era of business opportunities for the oil-rich and strategically vital region.

Most experts see little chance of a Chernobyl-like accident at Bushehr that would spread a vast radioactive cloud. But gulf residents remain concerned about what they describe as a lack of transparency on the plant and the safety records of Iran as well as Russia, which completed the plant and will help run it for at least a year.

Some say that even a small accident at the plant, which is near the shores of the gulf, could damage the environment, contaminate drinking water and disrupt the fishing and tourism industries. Bushehr lies hundreds of miles south of Tehran but is close to the gulf capitals of Kuwait City and Doha, as well as U.S. Navy 5th Fleet personnel on ships and at bases in the region.

"We have the biggest atomic energy station in the entire Islamic world," Iran's Atomic Energy Organization chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in a recent interview with Iranian state television. "Despite sanctions, the blockade and Western claims and propaganda, thank God, we have become the first state and people [in the Muslim world] to use nuclear energy to produce electricity. We are proud of that."

See also: "Bushehr Nuclear Plant Will Reach 40% of Its Capacity in 3 Months" (Tehran Times)

American Hiker Sarah Shourd to Head Straight to Doctor's Office

ABC | Sept 15

American Sarah Shourd is heading to a doctor's office for a medical examination today on her first day of freedom from an Iranian prison, sources familiar with the situation told ABC News.

Her release Tuesday on $500,000 bail after almost 14 months of mostly solitary confinement in Iran came at least partially due to medical concerns, Iranian officials said. Shourd is reportedly suffering from a serious gynecological condition and found a lump in her breast.

In addition, Swiss diplomats who represent U.S. interests in Iran warned Shourd's family last May that the 32-year-old woman was suffering from depression.

As Shourd receives medical attention today, the mothers of the other two captives made an impassioned plea directly to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to free their sons.

"Josh and Shane are still detained in Iran, as you well know," Laura Fattal said on "Good Morning America" of her son Josh Fattal and his friend, Shane Bauer, directly addressing Ahmadinejad. "We thank you for bringing Sarah home, but now it is time [to] bring Josh and Shane home. We urge you ... to show the same compassion you had for Sarah to bring Josh and Shane home."

See also: "Iranian Prosecutor Calls for Trial of US Hikers" (VOA)

Behind the Hiker Release: Iran's Power Struggle

Time | Sept 15

There will undoubtedly be some observers who will take Iran's release of an American hiker held for more than a year on spying charges as a portent of rapprochement in the fraught U.S.-Iran relationship, but that would be unwise. Nothing is ever simple when it comes to the Islamic Republic, and the tug of war between different arms of the Iranian government that preceded Sarah Shourd's release on Tuesday reveals a level of chaos and political infighting inside the regime that could complicate future diplomatic efforts.

Ahmadinejad had originally planned to schedule the captive's release for Saturday, in a ceremony at the presidential palace, as part of an effort to showcase his magnanimity ahead of his visit to the U.N. General Assembly in New York City later this month. But when that news spread, a halt was called by Iran's judiciary -- controlled by rival conservatives who are loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei but antagonistic to Ahmadinejad, not least for usurping the powers of other arms of government. The release of prisoners awaiting trial was a matter for the judiciary, they said, and they insisted on the bail payment of $500,000 -- and ensured there would be no ceremony at which the President could aggrandize himself.

"The judiciary, one of the many institutions Ahmadinejad has offended, was prepared to release Ms. Shourd, but not to let him get the credit for it," says Gary Sick, a Columbia University Iran expert and former National Security Council official. "They made clear that the release was their game, not his. The infighting in Tehran is really vicious right now, and more publicly visible than it's ever been. Ahmadinejad was really embarrassed by this."

Ahmadinejad Appoints Special Representatives to World Regions

Uskowi on Iran | Sept 15

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today appointed special representatives for five regions of the world. The appointments were made amid serious concerns by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the move would undermine Iran's foreign policy. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei last week had also warned against any "duplication" of responsibility for Iran's foreign policy. But Ahmadinejad went ahead with his plans anyway and made the appointments official today.

Among the five appointments, one is particularly controversial: Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as the special representative for the Middle East. Mashaie has emerged as Ahmadinejad's principle deputy and has created uproars among the clergy and traditional elements within the Islamic Republic by advocating the country's"Iranian identity" as opposed to its "Islamic identity." Mashaie is also serving as Ahmadinejad's chief of staff.

Ahmadinejad Shuns a Brighter Future (The Iranian Economy, Part 2)

Asia Times | Sept 16

While all available figures confirm Iran's broad economic failures, the best proof of its dismal economic conditions may be the economic difficulties of life in Tehran.

A young couple with bachelor degrees and a few years of work experience as schoolteachers would have a combined monthly income of about US$1,000. If the couple had a young child, they would need at a minimum $1,000 to pay their monthly bills (food, clothing, electricity, gasoline, insurance, medical) and another $1,000 per month in rent for a modest apartment (which also requires a significant security deposit). How can such couples, university-educated at that, survive? They can't. They need to get second jobs or rely on the support of their families.

While official numbers say that inflation is down, life in Tehran tells a different story. The prices of necessities over the past 12 months have soared -- milk and yogurt prices have about doubled and chickens and lamb prices have increased by about 75%. At the same time, government-subsidized items, such as electricity and gasoline, have also increased in price. These are items that figure heavily in the Iranian consumer basket -- what families have little choice but to buy. Contrary to government pronouncements, inflation has not declined to under 10%, as recently reported by the government; in all likelihood it has increased to over 20%.

See also: "Iran's Slide to the Bottom" (The Iranian Economy, Part 1) (Asia Times)

Venezuela Cancels Round-Trip 'Terror Flight' to Syria and Iran

Fox | Sept 15

A Venezuelan airline's "mystery" flight that shuttled among the capitals of three of the world's most terror-friendly nations -- Venezuela, Syria and Iran -- has abruptly canceled its regularly scheduled departures amid accusations that it was used primarily to transport spies, terrorists and lethal cargo among the pariah counties.

"I am sorry, but we are no longer flying to Tehran and I do not know when the flights will resume. It was a flight that left Caracas on Tuesdays, but it no longer does," Jenny Gil Romero, who handles international departures for Conviasa, the national airline that operates the flight, said in a message to FOX News.

Intelligence analysts with both the CIA and Israel said that, despite the listing of the flight as a regular commercial route and a code share with Iran air -- Flight IR744 is also Flight VO3744 -- there was no way that anyone could buy a ticket and travel without being vetted by the Venezuelan or Iranian government. And without passport controls, flight manifests and other documents, it meant some of the world's most dangerous men could travel without fear of being uncovered.

Iran 'Stoning Woman' Denies Being Lashed: TV Interview

AFP | Sept 15

An Iranian woman claiming to be the one sentenced to death by stoning denied that she was lashed in prison and tortured, in an interview aired on state television on Wednesday.

The woman, wearing a face-covering chador, was said to be Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the 43-year-old mother of two who has been sentenced to death by stoning.

She denied she was lashed after The Times of London published on August 28 a picture of a woman it identified as her who was not wearing the Islamic headscarf.

"No. I do not confirm it. It is all a lie and rumour," the woman said on television in the Azeri language, with Farsi subtitles.

OPINION & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Reporters' Guide for Interviewing Iranian Officials on Human Rights Issues

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran | Sept 14

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has reviewed and analyzed over twenty interviews with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and prepared a guide for reporters to be used during his visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. The Campaign has highlighted important trends on human rights issues and advisement on how to approach those issues with Ahmadinejad.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's coming visit to New York, for the opening of the 65th session of the United Nations' General Assembly, will be his second visit to this city since the disputed election of June 2009 and his fifth trip to the United States. It is expected that he will be a center of international media attention, similar to his previous trips. Journalists will most likely seek his views on Iran's nuclear program, economic sanctions by the UN Security Council, US-Iran relations, and the Middle East peace process.

Human rights in Iran, a subject of utmost importance for the security and future of the Iranian people and their neighbors in the Middle East, also deserves extended coverage. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is urging journalists to make human rights concerns a major component of their interviews with Ahmadinejad.

We hope this document will help journalists who interview Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- or other senior Iranian government officials -- frame pertinent questions about Iran's human rights situation, including the lack of freedom of speech and assembly, media censorship, political executions, stoning of women, and many other egregious abuses.

Don't Give Iran's Ahmadinejad Access to US Airwaves

Kenneth Bandler, American Jewish Committee Director of Communications (Fox) | Sept 15

One sanction against Iran that can be implemented before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York to address the U.N. next week is to ban him from U.S. television interviews.

"Good Morning America" anchor George Stephanapolous hosted the wily Iranian leader when he last visited in May to address the U.N. nuclear proliferation summit. Ironically, Iran's quest for nuclear-weapons capability U.N.dermines the essence of the 40-year old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But that critical issue never came up. Not surprisingly, the Iranian president quickly transformed Stephanapolous from interviewer to interviewee.

Stephanapolous, like TV news icons Mike Wallace, Katie Couric, Scott Pelley, Brian Williams, and Larry King, apparently believed an "exclusive" interview with Ahmadinejad would elicit confessions about building nuclear weapons, denying the Holocaust, supporting terrorist groups that target Americans and more.

But anyone who has experienced a Middle East market, where bargaining is the rule, is reminded when watching these interviews that the Iranians are masters of patience and negotiating. Do America's media stars think they can achieve a breakthrough with Iran in ways that no European government, or the Obama administration, has been able to do?

Dealing with Iran

John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus Co-Director (Foreign Policy in Focus) | Sept 14

It seems to be an open-and-shut case. Nuclear weapons are bad. It's best for the world if no more countries acquire nuclear weapons. Iran is currently engaged in uranium enrichment that could eventually produce a nuclear weapon. It built a secret facility to advance this program and might now be building another one. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government makes all sorts of threatening statements about Israel, the United States, the West. We should therefore do everything possible to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

This is the script that the Obama administration is following. It has taken up where the Bush administration left off by pursuing stronger economic sanctions against Iran -- and twisting the arms of allies like South Korea to follow suit -- while continuing to hold out for the possibility of negotiations. There are murmurs of a preemptive military strike by Israel, which 51 percent of Americans believe the U.S. government should support. The Pentagon maintains that "all options are on the table."

So will this script inevitably lead to war, with Iran bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and the United States and its allies equally determined to do everything possible to prevent this from happening?

War is not inevitable. It's not even likely. But to understand why, it's important to work our way through the script to see where the story stops making sense.

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1 Comment

I like it.

Samiul islam / September 16, 2010 11:35 AM