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US Admiral: Iran Lying about Nuke Intentions; Bushehr Activated

28 Nov 2010 03:181 Comment

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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U.S. Engagement on Iran Must Be Realistic: U.S. Military

Reuters (via Montreal Gazette) | Nov 26

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in comments released on Friday that the U.S. military has been thinking about military options on Iran "for a significant period of time" but added that diplomacy remained the focus of U.S. efforts.

"I still think it's important we focus on the dialogue, we focus on the engagement, but also do it in a realistic way that looks at whether Iran is actually going to tell the truth, actually engage and actually do anything," Mullen said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS due to air on Sunday.

Asked whether he believed Tehran's vows that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes, Mullen said: "I don't believe it for a second."

"In fact, the information and intelligence that I've seen speak very specifically to the contrary," he said.

"Iran is still very much on a path to be able to develop nuclear weapons, including weaponizing them, putting them on a missile and being able to use them."

Mullen: U.S. Has Plan to Attack Iran if Necessary

QNA (via Tabnak) | Nov 27

The United States would attack Iran if it became necessary to stop the regime from acquiring nuclear weapons, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said. Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether the Pentagon had a strategy for military action against Tehran, the chairman of the joint chiefs replied, "We do."

Mullen went on to say that while such a military option is undesirable, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran is simply unacceptable.

He said he hoped the West's current approach of imposing increasingly strict sanctions on Tehran would be enough of a deterrent.

Striking Iran could have "unintended consequences that are difficult to predict in what is an incredibly unstable part of the world," Mullen said.

Iran Says First Nuclear Plant Begins Operating

AFP | Nov 27

Iran said Saturday its first atomic power plant built by Russia in Bushehr has begun operations, ahead of a new round of talks with Western powers over the country's controversial nuclear drive.

"Without any propaganda and fuss we sealed the cover of the reactor and all the fuel rods are in the core of the reactor," atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency, without specifying when.

But Salehi said the authorities in the Islamic republic "hope that electricity produced at the Bushehr plant will be connected to the national grid in a month or two."

Iran says it needs the plant, which had been under construction since the 1970s in the southern port city of Bushehr before it was completed by Russia, to meet growing demand for electricity.

Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant to Join National Power Grid in Two Months

Xinhua | Nov 27

Salehi also said Iran has produced over 35 kg of 20 percent- enriched uranium so far.

"We have made over 35 kg of fuel with the purity of 20 percent so far, we are making 3 kg of uranium with this degree of purity every month. We are capable of production of 5 kg of fuel monthly, but there is no need to do so," Salehi was quoted as saying.

Also regarding Bushehr nuclear reactor, he said, "we hope that we can insert the first domestic fuel rods into the core of Bushehr reactor by next September."

Under a deal between Moscow and Tehran in 2005, Russia will provide nuclear fuel for Iran and take back all spent reactor fuel, and experts of the IAEA will be able to verify that no fuel or waste is diverted elsewhere.

Official Stresses Iran's Ability to Supply Domestic Needs for Radiomedicine

Fars | Nov 27

Salehi [also assured] that Tehran is able to supply all the needs of the country's medical centers for radiomedicine.

"Our people shouldn't be worried about the shortage of radiomedicine, because we have had negotiations with a number of countries to remove these shortages," Salehi told reporters on Saturday.

Salehi said that Iran has concluded an agreement with Russia to import the needed radiomedicine from Russia within the next few weeks.

"And God willing, as soon as we supply nuclear fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (through domestic enrichment) by next Shahrivar (August 22-September 23, 2011), the reactor will supply all domestic needs to radiomedicine," Salehi continued.

He also expressed the hope that the country's heavy water reactor under construction in Iran's central city of Arak would be ready by the next 2 or 3 years, and mentioned that once the reactor starts operation, it will enable Iran to export radiomedicine to the neighboring countries.

Iran Says IAEA Cannot Make Demands beyond Safeguards

Mehr | Nov 26

Nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can not make any demand from Iran that goes beyond the IAEA safeguards agreement including an inspection of Iran's heavy water nuclear facility.

"Cooperation with the agency has been defined. The agency cannot make any demand beyond the safeguards agreement...(but) we are ready to cooperate if they make demands within the framework of the agency's safeguards agreement," Salehi told the Mehr News Agency on Thursday in response to a demand by the agency to inspect Iran's heavy water nuclear plant.

According to the Associated Press, IAEA director Yukiya Amano in his newly released report called on Tehran to implement the additional protocol to allow for more comprehensive inspections of the nation's nuclear program including the heavy water facilities. Iran stopped voluntary implementation of the protocol in 2007.

Salehi said the inspection of Iran's heavy water nuclear facility is not part of the agreement, explaining that the heavy water is covered under an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the implementation of the additional protocol is not compulsory.

OTHER NEWS

Iran Nabs Would-Be Hijacker on Syria-Bound Plane

AP (via Washington Post) | Nov 27

A man attempting to hijack a Syria-bound flight carrying a number of Iranian lawmakers was arrested on board, Iran's state radio reported Saturday.

Security guards on the Tehran-Damascus flight thwarted the attempt and arrested the suspect, the report said. No one was hurt.

The radio report said an unspecified number of Iranian lawmakers were on the plane en route to a parliamentary conference in Damascus. It did not provide further details.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the incident happened minutes before the Iran Air flight landed in the Syrian capital.

Fars quoted Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Nushabadi as saying the suspect, who appeared to be mentally unstable, said he was intending to hijack the Airbus plane but that security guards arrested the unarmed man.

'Plane Hijacker, Counterrevolutionary'

Press TV | Nov 27

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says the man who attempted to hijack a Tehran flight bound for the Syrian capital is a known counterrevolutionary element.

On Friday, an Iranian man equipped with a "cold weapon" claimed he had planted bombs on the IranAir flight number 517 en route to Damascus from Tehran and tried to hijack the plane.

The man was arrested by flight security onboard and no bomb was found on the airliner after careful investigation.

"Through the timely and decisive actions of the IRGC flight security personnel and the vigilance of cabin crew, the plan of one of the counterrevolutionary elements to hijack the Islamic Republic of Iran airliner en route from Tehran to Damascus was foiled," the statement said.

Basijis Should Be Standard-Bearers of Moderation: Rafsanjani

Mehr | Nov 27

Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that the Basij volunteer forces should be standard-bearers of moderation and avoid extremism.

"The Basij, like its founder (late Imam Khomeini), should be the standard-bearer of moderation in cultural and social affairs," Rafsanjani said in a letter released on Friday on the anniversary of the establishment of the Basij organization in 1979 on the order of Imam Khomeini.

As a great national asset the Basij should not carry out extremist actions under the influence of "political brouhahas" and should not be "polluted" by the political groups that are trying to take advantage of the Basij to achieve their political goals, he noted.

Ahmadinejad Insists Subsidy Reform Will Improve Living Standards

Mehr | Nov 27

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again reassured people that they will be better-off with the implementation of the subsidy reform plan, emphasizing that the so-called overhaul of the economy will not have serious repercussions.

"The administration has planned in a way that the implementation of the law will improve the living standards of the low-income families and they will not face any (economic) pressure," Ahmadinejad said on Saturday in a meeting with taxi and bus drivers working in the public transport sector.

Experts have expressed concern that the elimination of fuel subsidies may result in a sharp rise in bus, train, air and cab fares, which in turn can lead to a hike in the prices of various goods and services. But, government officials say the fares will be raised only by 10% after the beginning of the main stage of the plan.

The president said drivers are the real supporters of the administration in enforcing the subsidy reform plan.

"The administration is determined to give people their entitlements through implementation of the subsidy reform plan so that people themselves can decide how to spend (the subsidies)" Ahmadinejad said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ahmadinejad praised drivers for being hard-working and modest. "I prefer a strand of drivers' hair to those people who think they are someone."

Iranian MPs Criticize EU's Call for US to Remove MKO from Terrorist List

Mehr | Nov 27

A number of Iranian MPs have criticized the European Union's request that the United States remove the Mojahedin Khalq Organization from its list of terrorist groups.

Talking to reporters on Saturday, MP Kazem Jalali said, "The MKO is a terrorist organization and the Europeans themselves acknowledge this."

"The MKO itself has admitted that it has killed 4800 people, including ordinary people as well as officials of the Islamic Republic. This organization has planted bombs in several areas. If this group is not a terrorist one, what else can it be labeled as?"

Majlis Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday that Europe and the U.S. are using the MKO as a tool.

But such measures will improve Iran's ability to negotiate in the international arena since they illustrate the double standards the United States and Europe apply toward terrorism, he added.

MP Karim Quddusi told MNA that the EU's move shows that the West is the main source of terrorism.

MP Hamid-Reza Taraqqi of the Islamic Coalition Party called on the Iranian government to make serious efforts to convince the Iraqi government to extradite the MKO members before the group is delisted, MNA reported on Saturday.

Iran Criticises Egypt FM's Remarks on Arab Ties

AFP | Nov 27

Iran has criticised Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit for reportedly saying Tehran should keep out of the internal affairs of Arab countries and not meddle in Iraq and Lebanon.

"We recommend that Mr Ahmed Abul Gheit... pays more attention to the unity among the Islamic world instead of pursuing the interest of the region's ill-wishers who seek to divide Islamic nations," the official IRNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying.

The unnamed Iranian official added that Abul Gheit should "think about guarding Egypts' rights and security which is often violated by the Zionist regime."

On Friday, the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq quoted Abul Gheit as saying that "Iranian interventions in the internal affairs of the Gulf must not be allowed. We say to our brothers in Iran... Iraq must be left alone and Lebanon must be left alone. And Iran should not intrude in Bahrain in any way."

See also: "Iran Criticizes Egypt FM Remarks on Interference in Iraq, Lebanon" (ISNA)

US Navy Orders Use of 'Arab Gulf'

Press TV | Nov 27

The US Navy has instructed all its units and forces to use the misnomer "The Arab Gulf" rather than its original and real name, the Persian Gulf.

The United States Navy has ordered all troops under its command to use the fake name The Arab Gulf to refer to the body of water to the south of Iran, IRNA quoted the Israeli radio as reporting on its website.

The order is reportedly posted on the US Navy's website.

This comes as the body of water is referred to as "The Persian Gulf" in all historical and international documents.

Several international scientific conferences have been held in recent years to discuss the historical roots of the Persian Gulf. Researchers from the most reputable academic centers worldwide are almost unanimous in their agreement that the body of water has been referred to throughout history as the Persian Gulf.

Some regional countries and Western publications, however, continue to distort historical facts by omitting "Persian" from the full name, in an apparent orchestrated effort to eliminate the true [ident]ity of the Persian Gulf.

Hariri Seeks Iran's Support for Stable Lebanon

Daily Star | Nov 27

Prime Minister Saad Hariri begins a three-day visit to Iran Saturday, hoping to enlist Islamic Republic's support for maintaining stability in Lebanon amid political tensions over an indictment into the slaying of his father, Rafik Hariri.

Hariri's visit follows last month's trip to Lebanon by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who voiced support for the Lebanese government to meet challenges over the indictment, which is widely expected to implicate members of Hizbullah, Iran's key ally in Lebanon, in the 2005 assassination of the former prime minister.

During the visit, which was originally scheduled for two days, Hariri will be received by Iran's first vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, for a one-on-meeting meeting, which will be followed by an expanded session with officials from both countries.

Hariri is scheduled to hold separate talks Sunday with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Speaker of Iran's Parliament Ali Larijani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, topped off by a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Saudi Arabia and Syria, which wield great influence on rival Lebanese factions, are coordinating their efforts in a bid to find a compromise solution to the deadlock over the indictment. Hariri said Lebanon viewed positively the Saudi-Syrian efforts to maintain stability in the country.

Given its influence in Lebanon through Hizbullah and its allies, Iran's endorsement of any solution to the Lebanese crisis by Saudi Arabia and Syria is essential for its success.

Hariri underlined the significance of communications between Iran and Arab Gulf states "to find common ground with a view to confronting dangers threatening the two sides."

Iran-Turkmenistan 2nd Gas Pipeline to Come on Stream

Mehr | Nov 27

The second section of the second Iran-Turkmenistan gas transport pipeline will officially come on stream tomorrow.

The presidents of the two countries will attend the opening ceremony.

"The second phase of the second Iran-Turkmenistan pipeline is a 500- kilometer long pipeline with a diameter of 48 inches. This pipeline has the capacity to transport 58 million cubic meters of gas per day," Iran's Deputy Oil Minister Javad Owji said here on saturday.

Owji also noted that $1.2 billion has been invested in the project.

Owji said on Friday that once the second nationwide north and northeastern gas transport pipeline and the second section of the second Iran-Turkmenistan gas transport pipeline comes on stream, Iran's gas network can be connected to six neighboring countries -- Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan --as well as Persian Gulf littoral states.

"Iran will soon become the regional gas hub," he stated.

Iran's GDP up $44B: Economist

Mehr | Nov 27

Economist's latest report indicates that Iranian GDP has increased more than $44 billion in the current year.

ISNA cited the November report stating that GDP in Iran has gone up from $367 billion last year to nearly $411 billion in the current year.

The same report shows that Iranian GDP will reach $472 billion next year, and $545 billion in the year after that.

Economist believes that in three years GDP in Iran will rise to $626 billion.

In four years (the Iranian calendar year of 1393) GDP will go up to $705 billion in Iran.

The increasing trend will continue and reach $804 billion in 5 years time.

Ghabel on Trial for Revealing Vakilabad Executions amidst Lack of Accountability by Judiciary

ICHRI | Nov 27

While judicial authorities refuse to provide any information pertaining to Mashad executions, Ahmad Ghabel, a theological researcher and prisoner of conscience, has to be accountable for speaking about the executions. Hadi Ghabel's wife told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Ghabel asked the Branch 5 judge at Mashad Courts during the third session of his trial not to order his transfer from the prison for the next trial session. Ghabel stated the reason for the request the fact that he had been disrespected by prison authorities during the body search as he was transferred from prison to court. The charge against the prisoner of conscience and whistle blower in the case of group executions at Mashad's Vakilabad Prison is "interviewing with news websites."

"Unfortunately, they would not even let me into the Courts building. I had to wait outside by the entrance from 9:00 a.m. when they brought my husband in until 12:20 when the session was adjourned and they finally allowed me to enter. We could only talk for five minutes. I got the rest of the information from him on the phone," Marzieh Pasdar told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about her husband's trial session.

"He said that most of his charges are about "propagating lies," and the material he was quoted to have told the websites, including revelations about Mashad Prison executions and other statements he had made. But apparently, other statements quoted from "a prisoner," also published on the websites, have been attributed to him, too. In this case he defended himself by saying that 'I am only responsible for material directly quoted from me,'" said Marzieh Pasdar about Ahmad Ghabel's statements.

"Another one of Ghabel's charges is 'insulting the Founder of the Islamic Republic' [referring to Imam Khomeini]. He did not accept this charge in court. He said that in none of his statements has he insulted the Leader. During that first session, the judge asked him to provide proof for his statements. We searched and found the CD of all the questions asked [of Ahmad Ghabel] and his answers, the ones the court was asking about, and sent it to court through his lawyer, along with its transcript," Ahmad Ghabel's wife continued.

Ahmad Ghabel is a political critic who has written several critical letters to the Supreme Leader of Iran. Last December, he was arrested as he was on his way to attend the Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri's funeral. Head of Branch 5 of Mashad Revolutionary Courts ordered his release on bail of $50,000 on 11 June after Ghabel had remained in prison for 170 days. However, he was returned to prison in September after he spoke of group executions inside Mashad's Vakilabad Prison.

Hengameh Shahidi Transferred to Evin Prison's Infirmary Following Hunger Strike

ICHRI | Nov 27

A source close to journalist and prisoner of conscience Hengameh Shahidi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that because of Shahidi's poor physical condition, she was admitted to Evin Prison's infirmary. Hengameh Shahidi, who was released from Evin Prison for medical treatment on 28 October, was returned to prison on 15 November following denial of her request to extend her medical leave. Since her medical treatment was incomplete, and she was not informed about the reasons why her medical leave was not extended, upon arrival at the prison she began a hunger strike. Following the hunger strike, due to continued deterioration of her health, she was transferred to Evin Prison's infirmary.

"When the family of this political prisoner went to visit her this morning, they had to wait for more than four hours due to her poor physical health and because she had been admitted to the infirmary. They were finally able to see her towards the end of visitation hours... upon returning to prison, she was transferred to the Methadone Ward of Evin prison [where prisoners who are drug addicts are detained], and due to a ban on telephone calls from this ward, as well as the ban on her telephone calls, which has been in place for the past three months, she had not had the opportunity to contact her family," said the source.

Hengameh Shahidi, a veteran Iranian journalist, was the Women's Affair Advisor to Etemad Melli Party's General Secretary during last year's presidential election. She is currently serving a six-year prison term.

Student Activist Siavash Hatam Arrested

RAHANA | Nov 27

Siavash Hatami is a student activist and the former secretary of Muslim Student Association at the Hamedan Bou Ali Sina University who was arrested following last year's post-election protests and later released on bail.

According to DaneshjouNews, he was transferred to the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran by the Bou Ali Sina University officials upon the request of the security forces.

According to sources close to him, he was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry authorities in the middle of one of his exams in Shahid Beheshti University. The authorities then took him to his house and confiscated his computer and personal belongings after searching his house. He has then been transferred to an undisclosed location and the Intelligence Ministry authorities have told his family that "asking several questions" is the reason for his arrest.

It is important to note that in the past several weeks, Ali Gholizadeh, Alireza Kiani, Mohsen Barzegar and Mohamamd Heidarzadeh, four members of Tahkim Vahdat (Office for Consolidating Unity) have been arrested. It is speculated that they have been detained since Student Day is approaching and the arrests have been made in order to scare the students.

Peyman Karimi-Azad Transferred to Solitary Confinement after Being Beaten by the Prison Physician

RAHANA | Nov 27

Ashura detainee Peyman Karimi-Azad was transferred to the solitary confinement unit of Ward 240 from Ward 350 while he was in critical condition.

In the past a few months, Karmi-Azad has been in critical condition to the extent that he has been transferred to the prison clinic and Taleghani Hospital several times.

According to JARS, last night he was transferred to the solitary confinement unit of Ward 240 as punishment since the clinic personnel were angry.

Peyman has to refer to the clinic constantly due to his low blood pressure and his need for 108 unit insulin injection. Since he did not receive the necessary medical attention, he had objected to the inappropriate behavior of the clinic personnel. Consequently, a number of clinic personnel had beaten him while he was in critical condition and transferred him to solitary confinement after filing a complaint against him.

There are great concerns as to his condition since he has threatened to go on hunger strike and stop taking his medication following his transfer to solitary confinement.

He is one of the 17 prisoners of Ward 350 who had been transferred to solitary confinement a while ago after objecting to the insulting behavior of the prison authorities and the prison visit ban for some prisoners.

Ali Gholizadeh Held in Solitary Confinement for Two Weeks without Interrogation

RAHANA | Nov 27

During a phone conversation from ward 209 of Evin Prison, Ali Gholizadeh stated that he has been held in solitary confinement for the past 2 weeks without being interrogated.

According to DaneshjouNews, Gholizadeh stated that a $50,000 bail has been set for him and that his detention is unlawful. He further mentioned that he has not been interrogated.

He also said that he has been transferred to the prison clinic once due to his poor physical condition but did not disclose any further details. During his first telephone contact, he had also said that he was suffering from physical problems while in Mashhad which were induced by "stress".

There are concerns as to the condition of Gholizadeh and 3 other members of [the] Office for Consolidating Unity [Advar Tahkim], Alireza Kian, Mohsen Barzegar, and Mohammad Heidarzadeh. The authorities refuse to allow them to visit their families.

Iran's Supreme Leader Pardons Opposition Activists

AP (via Washington Post) | Nov 26

An Iranian opposition website is reporting that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pardoned 19 jailed opposition activists on a religious occasion.

The low-level activists released Thursday were among hundreds detained during the unrest after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June 2009.

Friday's report on the Kaleme website said the opposition supporters pardoned included novelist and journalist Javad Mahzadeh. Most of the others are not widely known.

Interrogations and Threats Against 11 Political Prisoners in Ward 350

HRANA (via Persian2English) | Nov 24

After signing a petition titled "Form a Fact-finding Committee to Review Election Events", 11 political prisoners in Evin were summoned to court again and were interrogated and charged. They were also threatened that if they don't denounce their petition, they will be charged with publishing lies and inciting the public, and new prison terms will be added to their previous sentences.

Kaleme reported that a group of 350 political prisoners in Evin issued a statement calling for the formation of a fact finding committee to uncover the truth about the presidential election and its aftermath. Following the release of this petition, the prisoners were questioned at length by the interrogators of the Ministry of Intelligence and were threatened to be exiled to remote prisons. Amongst these prisoners are Majid Dori, who has been transported to Behbahan Prison, and Kouhyar Goodarzi, who was deported to Rajai Shahr prison, while Ali Parviz was released after finishing up his one year sentence.

Since last week, there has also been a new round of interrogations and questioning of those who have signed this petition. Additionally, everyone who has signed the statement will be subject to retrial, and new cases are being built against them.

In response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks made in the UN General Assembly, calling for an international and independent group to investigate the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the prisoners wrote a petition to request the formation of a fact-finding committee to uncover the truth about the election and its aftermath.

After this signed petition was released, the prisoners were threatened by the prison officials and security and judicial authorities. It is believed that Mohsen Aminzadeh and Mohsen Mirdamadi, members of the Islamic Participation Front and signatories to the petition, have strongly protested the illegal interrogation of the prisoners.

Bahman Ahmadi Amouie, Saeed Milad Asadi, Ali Tajernia, Mohammad Davari, Amir Khosro Dalirsani, Mohammad Farid Taheri Ghazvini, Keyvan Samimi, Ali Malihi and Abdollah Momeni were other signatories who were interrogated for hours last week.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Battle to Strike Iran

Osman Mirghani (Asharq Al-Awsat via Tabnak) | Nov 25

It is understood that Israel is pressuring the United States for a military strike on Iran and its nuclear facilities. Tel Aviv wants to keep the balance of power, and military superiority in the region, in its own hands. It is not interested in the implications such a strike would have for the reformist movement in Iran, or its wider impact on the region. What it wants is the destruction of the Iranian nuclear program, or to disable it for years to come, in order to keep nuclear power in Israel's hands only, so it can use the threat of the "Samson Option."

The reality is that Israel is reaping the maximum gains from the Iran issue, regardless of whether it achieves its desired military strike or not. It receives U.S. security guarantees, which are continually strengthened, including the provision of intelligence information, and sophisticated U.S. weaponry, to ensure it maintains the upper hand. As a result of receiving U.S. support and technology, Israel has been able to develop a missile defense shield, which should be completed by 2015. Despite gaining all this, Israel continues to raise its voice to warn against the dangers of Iran's nuclear program. In doing so, it resembles a pregnant sheep, afraid of the new wolf in town, even though this "sheep" has at least 100 nuclear warheads, according to estimates by experts, and rejects any discussion of acceding to the NPT, or talk of the Middle East becoming a nuclear weapons free zone.

If Israel's intentions are clear, the question remains; how will Israel act?

So far it looks like Ahmadinejad is repeating the experience of Saddam Hussein, which resulted in the destruction of Iraq and rocked the stability of the region. In reality, what Iran needs to do is adopt a rational, less aggressive policy. It needs to reduce its policy of external expansion, and reassure its neighbors, thus removing Israel's bargaining chip in the peace process. Furthermore, it needs to support the mounting call for the Middle East to become a nuclear weapons free zone. Peaceful nuclear energy is a legitimate right for all, but nuclear arms would open the gates of hell in an already volatile region.

Arab-Iranian Divisions Deepen

Nima Tamaddon (IWPR) | Nov 26

[T]he long-running dispute over the terminology used for the Persian Gulf has been reinvigorated.

While Tehran has always insisted that the stretch of water separating Iran from the Arabian peninsula be referred to as the Persian Gulf, especially in an official context, many Arab states continue to call it the Arabian Gulf.

Two weeks ago, when the Chinese hosts of the Asian Games used the words "Arabian Gulf" during the opening ceremony, they inadvertently sparked a fusillade of angry responses from Tehran.

When a senior US State Department official said the words "Arabian Gulf" in an October speech announcing a 60 billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia, another online campaign by Iranians ensued.

The Iranian response mirrored the reaction of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, which refused to take part in the Islamic Solidarity Games in April if Tehran - hosting the event - insisted on having the inscription "Persian Gulf" on medals and promotional materials. In the end, the games had to be cancelled altogether.

Aware of the sensitivities of using either term, some foreign media, military strategists and oil firms simply call it the Gulf.

On the other side of the water, Sami Al-Faraj, president of the Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies, is concerned about the strength of feeling in both camps.

"The situation in the Gulf region today resembles the nationalistic climate of the time of the Iran-Iraq war," he told IWPR. In longer hindsight, he said, "it resembles Europe before the start of the First World War."

Al-Faraj, an advisor to the Gulf Cooperation Council and a consultant to the Kuwaiti government, believes "divisions between Iranians and Arabs really do exist, and if relations between the two sides don't improve, they will enter a great battle."

DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS

Tavaana Interview Vaclav Havel (English Subtitles)

Interview with Vaclav Havel, Former President of the Czech Republic (Tavanna via YouTube) | Nov 19

IFEX Members Want End to Violence against Women Journalists

News Release from International Freedom of Expression Exchange (Scoop) | Nov 24

Members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), including those on the IFEX Gender Working Group, wish to draw your attention to the situation of the many women in our community who are subjected to targeted attacks because of their gender. This is particularly so in countries where freedom of speech is not upheld. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, a culture of impunity and weak judicial systems mean that the majority of crimes against women often go uninvestigated and unpunished.

Women who report on matters of public interest or defend human rights often put themselves at risk in order to make their voices heard. The challenges facing women extend beyond traditional media venues and into the cyber realm. This year has seen a disturbing trend towards the increased intimidation, assault and imprisonment of female bloggers and activists.

***

Iran, which recently lost a bid for a seat on the UN Women council, is known for its appalling treatment of women. There are so many women in prison in Iran that we cannot list them all. Blogger and human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, sentenced to six years in prison in September and is facing the death sentence, and Jila Baniyaghoub, was jailed for one year in lieu of flogging. Journalist Hengameh Shahidi was sentenced to six years in prison following last year's post-election crackdown, and journalist Mahsa Amrabadi was charged with "acting against national security" for publicly criticising the arrest of journalists; she is appealing her one-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, Noushin Ahamadi Khorasani, the editor of the Feminist School website and a founder of the "One Million Signatures" online campaign for changes to laws that discriminate against women, has been a victim of judicial harassment by intelligence services, and Maryam Bidgoli, who also participated in the campaign, was sentenced to one year in prison.

***

These cases demonstrate the severity of the violence, harassment and intimidation that outspoken women face when reporting on matters of public interest. We, the undersigned IFEX members, therefore urge you to:

* Condemn all forms of violence and repression against women who exercise their right to free expression and call attention to the cases of gender-based violence [...]

* Call on the Iranian authorities to release Shiva Nazar Ahari, Jila Baniyaghoub, and other journalists, and to cease judicial harassment of Noushin Ahamadi Khorasani. [...]

* Stand in solidarity with the many women around the world who face injustice and gender-based violence for carrying out their civic and professional duties, and address critical areas of concern and weaknesses in global women's rights, including violence and freedom of expression, as outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action.

* Ask that national authorities undertake full and uncompromising investigations into the cases of women journalists, writers, activists and bloggers who have been victims of gender-based violence in order that their attackers and killers may face justice.

It is time for governments, international institutions and civil society to take concrete measures to end the atrocities our female colleagues face in the course of their work.

Release Ailing, 80-Year-Old Former Foreign Minister

News Release from International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) | Nov 26

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for the immediate release for medical treatment of Ebrahim Yazdi, who has been in detention since 1 October, but has yet to be informed of the charges against him.

The Islamic Republic's first Foreign Minister, Yazdi was arrested on 1 October in a private home in Isfahan for allegedly participating in "illegal prayer" when attending the memorial service for the daughter of a friend. He was subsequently moved to section 209 of Tehran's Evin prison, which is operated by Iran's Intelligence Ministry.

Yazdi is recovering from bladder cancer surgery as well as heart surgery, and his family believes his life is in danger because of the physical and psychological strains of prison, where Yazdi has been deprived of medical care and lives in unsanitary conditions. His wife was allowed to visit him only after he had been jailed for 40 days.

"After Yazdi's arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and denial of due process and medical care, he needs to be released immediately into the care of medical authorities and his family, and informed of the charges against him so that a proper defense may be prepared," said Hadi Ghaemi, the spokesperson for the Campaign.

At 80 years of age, the head of the Freedom Movement of Iran is the country's "oldest political prisoner," according to his family. Since the onset of political unrest following tainted presidential elections in June 2009, he has been arrested three times, once when he was in an intensive care hospital ward. During one of his imprisonments, he spent 50 days in solitary confinement.

Mohammad Mostafaei Writes Letter to Ban Ki-moon on Situation of Iranian Refugees

Letter from Mohammad Mostafaei, Human Rights Attorney (Persian2English) | Nov 24

In the Name of God

The Honorable UN Secretary
Mr. Ban Ki-moon

With Greetings and Respect,

As you are aware and there exists numerous supporting reasons and evidence, the current social, judicial, and political conditions in the Islamic Republic of Iran are such that Iranian citizens are forced to leave their homeland by legal or illegal means. This exodus is occurring because Iranians fear repercussion and confrontation with security and judicial forces that alongside the government arrest and torture Iranian people due to their religious, social, and political affiliations. Inevitably Iranian citizens seeking refuge in other countries can no longer return to their homeland. If forced, such a return will bring about their arrest, physical punishment, insecurity, denied freedom and tarnishing of their dignity.

At the present time, a large number of Iranian asylum seekers in different countries including Turkey and Greece are awaiting to hear from the UNHCR and governments committed to accepting asylum seekers. Unfortunately, until now, asylum seekers haven't been able to benefit from refugee rights recognized by international treaties and regulations.

Due to the current conditions in the Islamic Republic of Iran and especially after the events following the presidential [2009] election, there is not only insecurity for political and social activists, the ordinary Iranian citizens are also in danger. Since the right to live in a safe and secure environment without pressure from a ruling government is a reserved right for every Iranian, all members of the United Nations are duty bound to welcome and accept asylum seekers. However, to our dismay, in most cases, the acceptance of asylum seekers has been dragged for years regardless of their eligibility while others have been denied asylum altogether.

All this is happening while the right to live with security without torture and humiliation and the right to choose one's residence liberally are amongst the freedoms granted to everyone by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the Refugee Protocol ratified on January 31, 1967 and the International Covenant sanctioned in 1966, institutions such as UNHCR that are supervised by the United Nations are directly responsible for the implementation of international treaties and regulations and are required to provide security, dignity and basic human rights to asylum seekers.

Since there are Iranians living in various countries under deplorable conditions and need support to appeal their request for asylum, with deep concerns I hereby request that the United Nations expeditiously contact all member states in order to review the affairs of asylum seekers. As a result, refugees will be able to relocate to states where they desire to live in security. It is self evident that prolonging the proceedings for the refugees is against the standards of human rights and ought to be considered as torture and punishment.

With Respect,
Mohammad Mostafaei
Attorney & Human Rights Activist

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1 Comment

Mullen seems to have unofficially declared war on Iran, in which case, the NPT regulations, binding only if the signatory countries are not under any threat of war, can no longer be honored.

On the discussion revolving about the "Persian Gulf," anyone can talk, however, the Iranian government must at once form a committee of international law experts and historians, and charge it with the task of identifying foreign media outlets that are engaged in falsification of records and historical facts. Next, the committee must pursue legal action against all media outlets (publishers of global maps, publishers of encyclopedia, publihsers of dictionaries, foreign news networks, etc.) for disseminating false information and falsification of records.

Ekbatana / November 28, 2010 6:46 AM