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15 Feb 2010 21:051 Comment

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.

Clinton says Iran becoming military dictatorship

Politico | Feb. 15, 2010

Speaking to a televised university audience in Doha, Qatar today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. does not plan to attack Iran, but fears it is veering towards a military dictatorship.

Asked by the moderator whether the United States is planning to launch a military attack of one kind of another against Iran, Clinton responded, "No."

Washington is trying "to bring the world community together in applying pressure to Iran through sanctions adopted by the United Nations that will be particularly aimed at those enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard which we believe is, in effect, supplanting the government of Iran," she said.

"We see that the Government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament, is being supplanted, and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship," she continued. "Now, that is our view."

Clinton said Washington would still be open to engagement with Iran, and reiterated Obama's conviction there is a different path for Iran to take.

Iran dismisses Clinton's remarks as 'modern deceit'

IRNA | Feb. 16, 2010

Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has dismissed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent remarks about the Islamic Republic as "modern deceit."

"We are sorry that the US secretary of state has become an unreal and virtual person who is trying to conceal the truth about her stance and that of the US government with a series of artificial terms and words to draw the regional public opinion towards their unreal topics," Mottaki said, according to a report released on February 16 by the ministry bureau of information and press.

"These kinds of methods are called modern deceit, the true nature of which is clear for the elite, aware people as well as committed officials," Mottaki went on.

Iran hits back at U.S. over dictatorship comment

Reuters | Feb. 16, 2010

Iran hit back at the United States on Tuesday for saying the Islamic state was moving toward a military dictatorship, accusing Washington of pursuing wrong policies in the Middle East.

"They themselves are involved in a sort of military dictatorship and have practically ignored the realities and the truths in the region," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, according to ISNA news agency.

"America has the wrong attitude towards the issues in the Middle East and it is the continuation of their past wrong policies," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday the United States believes Iran's Revolutionary Guards are driving the country towards military dictatorship and should be targeted in any new U.N. sanctions.

"We are sorry for Mrs. Clinton...for trying to divert public opinion in the region towards unreal and untruthful matters," Mottaki said.

Clinton says Iran acquisition of nuclear weapon could trigger Mideast arms race

AP | Feb. 16, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has told college students in Saudi Arabia that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon it could trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Clinton says that could in turn create problems that she termed "quite dangerous."

She spoke at a college in Jeddah called Dar al-Hekma, which translates in English to "House of Wisdom."

Her appearance at the all-woman college was highly unusual in a conservative Muslim nation.

Saudi law bars women from voting, except for chamber of commerce elections in two cities in recent years, and no woman can sit in the kingdom's Cabinet. Women also cannot drive or travel without permission from a male guardian.

Clinton was winding up a three-day Persian Gulf visit that began Sunday in Qatar and continued in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Monday. She was returning to Washington later Tuesday.

U.S. denies Iran given new fuel swap proposal

Reuters | Feb. 15, 2010

The United States denied on Monday an Iranian report that it had made new proposals along with France and Russia on a nuclear fuel swap, and said "the door remains open" for Tehran to accept a proposal offered in the autumn.

"The door remains open for Iran to accept the practical, fair, and responsible proposal put forth by the IAEA last fall that would enable Iran to meet its medical humanitarian needs as well as build international confidence in Iranian intentions," White House spokesman Mike Hammer said.

France also dismissed the report, saying the existing deal was the only valid offer. Russia also said the countries had simply confirmed their support for a proposal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year to send much of Iran's low enriched uranium abroad.

Iran will consider any new atom fuel ideas-Mottaki

Reuters | Feb. 16, 2010

Iran would consider any new ideas on a proposed nuclear fuel swap with major powers, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday, after meeting his Turkish counterpart in Tehran.

But there was no immediate sign that the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had produced any breakthrough in Iran's long-running nuclear standoff with the West.

Davutoglu, who arrived late on Monday to try to salvage a U.N.-brokered uranium swap deal as calls grow for new sanctions against Iran, was expected to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later on Tuesday.

Turkey, which has strengthened its ties with Iran since the Islamist-rooted AK Party took power, has offered to use its access to the Iranian leadership to help solve a dispute between global powers and Tehran over its nuclear program.

Situation will change if Iran is supplied with needed fuel - president

IRINN | Feb. 16, 2010

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad reacted to reports regarding possible suspension of 20 per cent enriched uranium in case Iran is supplied with the needed fuel. Confirming that Iran has the capability to produce its needed fuel to the 20 per cent level, he said that "the situation will change if it is supplied with the needed fuel".

Speaking live on Iranian News Network, IRINN, on 16 February Ahmadinejad said: "Look, the production of 20 per cent fuel was not in our agenda. We wanted to produce fuel for our nuclear plants. We thought that based on their commitments members would supply us with the 20-per cent level enriched uranium if we need it. The consumption of 20 per cent is a low usage, it is not a bulk consumption.

It is not financially worth the investment. But since six months ago we announced that we need it. The reason was because the [supply of] fuel for Tehran reactor is reaching its final years and we need to make preparations in advance. We made a suggestion and even contrary to the commitments that they [members] had, we even said we were prepared to swap [fuel], but they put a set of conditions for us which we thought were not right. Then they said that they want to distance Iran from [nuclear] bomb. The presumption formed in Iran that there are some ill-intentions involved and no good-will gesture can be seen. We continued negotiations, had discussions many times and told them that we are running out of time and if they do not stand by their legal commitments, we will produce [the needed fuel] ourselves. But as usual they are always slow in making a move, their pennies drop quite late. We are now forced to make the fuel ourselves as much as we need. In fact we have started a new production line for this purpose.

They [the West] thought that this would have extortionate costs for us and that we would not go down that line. With the efforts of our experts a new production line was created for [the production] of the 20-per cent fuel. We have no persistence on the issue, we have the capability [to produce the fuel] we could produce it whenever we want. If they do provide us with the 20-per cent fuel, well then situation would change."

Iran president says Tehran ready to swap fuel with US

IRINN | Feb. 16, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Tehran has been ready to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel with the US.

In a news conference broadcast live by the Iranian news channel (IRINN) on February 16, he said, "I say hereby that we are prepared to swap [fuel]. We are ready for [fuel] swap even with America. If America really wants to swap fuel with us, we will go ahead with it. We have no problem with it."

CNPC and Iran conclude final deal on South Pars gas field

Xinhua | Feb. 11, 2010

CNPC, the parent company of PetroChina , has finalized a deal to develop phase 11 of Iran's South Pars natural gas field, reported Shihua Financial Information. According to the report, CNPC will start drilling in the gas field as early as March to evaluate the reserves. CNPC signed a preliminary pact with Iran last June and got approval from the Iranian government near the end of last year. The deal is valued at 4.7 billion US dollars. CNPC is expected to beef up its oil and gas operations in Iran, which holds the world's second-largest gas reserves.

Kremlin says Iran sanctions cannot be excluded

Reuters | Feb. 16, 2010

The Kremlin on Tuesday said Iran could face sanctions if the Islamic Republic fails to allay international fears about its nuclear program.

President Dmitry Medvedev's spokeswoman said Russia wanted Iran to cooperate more closely with the United Nations nuclear body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Russia considers that Iran must work more actively and more broadly with the IAEA and with other countries in providing information about its nuclear program," Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told reporters.

"The international community must be sure that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. But if these obligations are not fulfilled then nobody can rule out the use of sanctions," she said at Medvedev's residence outside Moscow.

Timakova said Medvedev outlined Moscow's position on Iran to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Kremlin meeting on Monday.

Revolution martyrs sons seek release of political prisoners

Tabnak Khabar Online | Feb. 16, 2010

The sons of prominent revolutionary figures who were martyred following the establishment of the Islamic Republic met with Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani to request the release of political activists who were detained after the June presidential election.

Ali Motahari, Mohammad Mehdi Mofateh, Abbas Rajayi were among the group that met with Larijani last Wednesday.

Accordng to Etemad, the sons of the martyrs expressed their concerns about the increasing number of arrests and requested Larijani's assistance in securing the release of political activists.

It was reported that Larijani described the situation of the detainees as good and promised that a large number of them would soon be released on bail.

Karroubi, Mousavi, Hashemi family meet with Beheshti

Tabnak | Feb. 16, 2010

Political figures visited Mir Hossein Mousavi's top aide, Alireza Beheshti following his release from detention.

According to Parleman News, Mehdi Karroubi visited Beheshti on Feb. 12. Mousavi visited him on Feb. 13. The family of Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani visited Beheshti on Feb. 10, one day after his release.

Behehsti was released from detention on Feb. 9 after 40 days in prison.

Interpol can arrest Mehdi Hashemi

Asr Iran | Feb. 16, 2010

A legal expert told Fars News Agency that after a case is made against Mehdi Hashemi, and an arrest warrant is issued, the Interpol can arrest him and extradite him to Iran.

Mehdi Jouyayi pointed out that five months have passed since Mehdi Hashemi had exited the country, saying, "The charges raised against Mehdi Hashemi are mostly public crimes which the prosecutor has opened a case against him and has started investigations." 

"After the start of the investigation against Mehdi Hashemi, if the prosecutor issues an arrest warrant for him, he must turn himself in at the first chance and within the time limit set by the prosecutor. If this individual is in the country, security forces must move to arrest him."

"Even if Mehdi Hashemi is abroad, he must be arrested with the help of Interpol agents or the police or security officers of the country he has fled to and be turned over to the Iran's prosecutor."

Khatami to lead this week's Friday prayers

Tabnak | Feb. 16, 2010

Head of the Tehran Friday Prayers Headquarters Hojjatoleslam Moradi said Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami will be leading the prayers this week.

According to the ISNA report, the Tehran representative in Majlis Hojjatoleslam Mesbahi Moqqadam will be delivering the speech before the Friday Prayers this week.

Farda: Rafsanjani was to be on TV but IRIB canceled

Khabar Online | Feb. 16, 2010

Farda claimed that the Iranian state broadcaster, IRIB, is preventing the appearance of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in televised debates, despite promising to clear lingering questions in the minds of the public by inviting Iranian figures to live television debates.

Before the Ten-Day Dawn celebrations, IRIB promised to host figures from both sides of the political spectrum to its "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" and "Iranian Politics" programs. However, none of the debates was able to meet desired standards, and much criticism was directed at the shows for inviting guests that were mostly Principlist.

According to the Farda report, while Saeed Abutaleb had been designated as the host of the show he was replaced before the program was aired. Mohsen Rezaei and Hashemi Rafsanjani who had accepted to participated in the debates were not invited to the shows.

Ahmadinejad: I know who badmouths Mashai

Asr Iran Parleman News | Feb. 16, 2010

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his chief of staff, charging that Esfandiar Rahim Mashai's words were distorted in order to make him look bad.

In his press conference which hosted foreign and Iranian members of the press, Ahmadinejad described Mashai as a person devoted to serving the establishment.

"I know who is trying to work against the government and [I know who is trying to] make Mashai look bad."

"They even distorted Mr. Mashai's words to discredit him, while he is one of the best colleagues of the government."

"Those who are attacking Mr. Mashai do not utter a single word against those who have exploited the treasury," IRNA quoted him as saying.

"Mr. Mashai voices opinions. If you have opinions too, voice them and reject them [Mashai's options] with reason. His logic is very transparent and useful for thinkers, he gives his opinion and you can give your opinions. Our country is a completely free country."

Iran Nobel winner seeks Nokia Siemens sanctions

Reuters | Feb. 15, 2010

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi called on the West to impose sanctions on mobile systems maker Nokia Siemens Networks for providing technology that she says helped Tehran repress political opponents.

Western powers are discussing a fourth round of United Nations sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran maintains is peaceful but the West fears is aimed at building atomic weapons.

The Iranian human rights lawyer, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, is against economic sanctions on Iran that she says would hurt the Iranian people.

"Last month the U.S. government imposed a heavy fine on a Swiss bank that was trading with Iran and thereby breaking the sanctions," Ebadi said, referring to a $536 million fine on Credit Suisse Group AG .

"My question to America is this: why don't you impose the same kind of heavy punishment on corporations that provide Iran with equipment that can be used to suppress the people?

"I am talking about Siemens and Nokia because they provided Iran with equipment with which it can monitor the Iranian nation," Ebadi told Reuters in an interview in Oslo, where she is attending a conference on human rights.

"That would be a lesson to other corporations not to dare sell to the Iranian government such equipment that can be used to suppress the people," said Ebadi, who won the Peace Prize for her work for women's and children's rights in Iran.

Journalist Mahsa Jazini's mother allowed to visit her in prison

Parleman News | Feb. 16, 2010

Detained journalist and women's rights activist, Mahsa Jazini's mother visited her daughter in prison, after she was arrested on Feb. 6 in Isfahan.

Kalameh quoted Mrs. Jazini as saying that her daughter was in good psychological condition and was being kept with eight other individuals. 

Mrs. Jazini said that they did not know what Mahsa's charges were, adding, "Mahsa is in the ward with financial ...offenders."

"When I visited Mahsa she was still concerned about women's issues and asked me to buy a dress for the daughter of one of her fellow inmates and clothes for two of her other fellow inmates and take it with me the next time I go to see her."

"Mahsa's journalistic activities and her going after women's issues is completely transparent and within the framework of the law and we hope that Mahsa is released as soon as possible. "

Iran confirms arrest of US-based radio journalist

ILNA | Feb. 15, 2010

Minister of intelligence has confirmed the arrest of one journalist linked to Radio Farda.

Speaking on the sidelines of the cabinet meeting, Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told reporters of the arrest of journalists who according to the announced statement of the Intelligence Ministry "were arrested on the charge of having links with Radio Farda."

Moslehi said, "Only one of the arrested individuals is a journalist, who has had contacts with Radio Farda and has been receiving considerable support from foreigners, and this person has confessed to this."

Asked about the eight arrested individuals, Moslehi said, "A few individuals have been arrested in connection with Radio Farda but only one of them is a journalist and the cases of these individuals are being examined."

Commenting on the discovery of 200 weapons in the north of Tehran and whether they were going to be used in clashes, Moslehi said, "The Revolutionary Guards have discovered the weapons and are looking into the situation to find out the reason for storing them."

He continued, "Based on the investigations carried out, the claim that the weapons belong to the Revolutionary Guards is not correct. Our guards will follow up on the case until they get some answers."

Assessing the general security situation in the country, Molehill said, "With the grace of God the security situation of the country is favorable at the moment and this is due to the efforts and vigilance of the security and police forces, who have created a safe environment."

Iran's top rights official says authorities considering family request to visit US hikers

AP | Feb. 16, 2010

Iran's top human rights official says the country's authorities are considering a request by the families of three detained American hikers to visit them in prison.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary general of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, says the Swiss ambassador in Tehran made the request to his office "about 2-3 weeks ago."

Switzerland represents U.S. consular interests in Iran.

Larijani says the request is being examined by security officials and judges. He told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that his office has recommended that the request be granted.

Their families say Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were hiking in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region in July when they accidentally crossed the border into Iran.

US should change stance on Israel over Arab support on Iran

Saudi Gazette | Feb. 15, 2010

There is no secret behind US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's current visit to the Gulf. With Iran behaving defiantly in the face of withering international criticism of its nuclear program, Clinton is making the rounds of regional capitals to shore up hard-line support for sanctions that look increasingly likely to be endorsed by the UN. Even China, which has been reluctant to risk its substantial investments in Iran by throwing its weight behind talk of sanction, looks ready to move on the issue in favor of its fellow Security Council members.

No one in the region, of course, has any interest in seeing a nuclear Iran and the charade that Tehran is interested only in an energy-related nuclear program is wearing quite thin. Increasingly, comments coming out of Tehran resemble the surreal fantasy comments that came out of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. The philosophy of the Big Lie, i.e. the bigger the lie and the more you maintain it, the more people will believe it, seems to be a guiding light of Tehran's public face these days.

But the Middle East is a complex place and everyone has multiple interests. Publicly, emphasis is being placed on Clinton's Iran mission with secondary mention of the Palestinian question cropping up, as well. Nevertheless, this could prove an excellent opportunity to press the US to take up the Palestinian issue in a new and bold way.

If the US expects to drum up anti-Iranian support in the region, then it should be willing to alter its stance on Israel. Rather than serving as Israel's lawyer, it could finally begin to exercise the influence it can hold over the Jewish state. Israel is the single, greatest recipient of foreign aid from the US, making it quite clear, it would seem, that the country is truly dependent on the US for its survival, something that cannot be said of any other state in the region.

It is not enough for Washington to demand or recommend when it comes to Israel. It is time that the US pull the strings that it holds.

This is the condition that the Gulf states should put forward if Clinton expects their full support on Iran's nuclear program.

Iranian warship, destroyer dock at Qatari port

Press TV | Feb. 15, 2010

A warship and a destroyer belonging to the Iranian naval fleet have berthed at Qatar's Doha port upon an invitation by Qatari Naval officials.

Iranian Ambassador to Doha Abdollah Sohrabi and Iran's military attache in Qatar, Brigadier-General Mashallah Pursheh, conferred with commanders and cadets aboard the Bandar Abbas warship and Naqdi Destroyer. Sohrabi said that the symbolic docking of the Iranian warship and destroyer at the Qatari capital is a step toward the improvement of bilateral defense ties between the two countries.

Since Iran and Qatar are neighbors and have common sea borders, issues such as defense cooperation and security of waterways are of paramount importance, he added.

Sohrabi also highlighted the strategic, political and economic importance of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

The Iranian envoy expressed hope that during the upcoming visit of Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi to Qatar and the following up of the bilateral agreements, the bilateral relations between Tehran and Doha would improve in all defense and military areas.

Earlier, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in a meeting with Iran's presidential advisor, Esfandiyar Rahim-Masha'i, had voiced his country's opposition to anti-Iran provocations by Western countries.

Rahim-Masha'i visited Qatar last week and met with a number of Qatari officials, including Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

Anonymous Producers of Neda Video Win Polk Award

AP | Feb. 16, 2010

For the first time in the award's history, one of the top American journalism prizes will be awarded to people whose identities are a mystery. A George Polk Award will be given to the anonymous individuals who shot footage of the death of Neda Soltan, an Iranian woman who was killed in June. The curator of the awards, John Darnton, called the video of Neda's death "an iconic image of the Iranian resistance." He said the fact that the award was being given to a person or people who shot and distributed the images anonymously was a testament to the importance of citizen journalism. "This award celebrates the fact that, in today's world, a brave bystander with a cell phone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news," he said. The George Polk program is run by Long Island University, and the awards are some of the most prestigious in American journalism. Some of this year's identifiable winners include David Rohde for his New York Times series on being imprisoned by the Taliban, and David Grann for his New Yorker story on a questionable Texas execution.

The Week in Green

Special Edition: Vigil at the UN for Human Rights in Iran

The Week in Green with Hamid Dabashi presents a special episode covering the vigil and press conference that took place in New York on February 11th, 2010, on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic. Featured in this episode are highlights from the vigil and press conference and excerpts from guest speakers, Dr. Hamid Dabashi, Larry Cox, Dr. Hadi Ghaemi, and Bita Mostofi, and an analysis of the 22 Bahman ceremonies in Iran.

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1 Comment

"Iran becoming military dictatorship"

A comparison of Iran with a European country might be helpful to find out, if the security forces and the military might be a structural obstacle to the realization of constitutionally guaranteed rights and to political overdue social change.

• Iranian total population: around 74.000.000 inhabitants
• The regular armed forces have an estimated 820,000 personnel (1,1 % of total population)
• Law enforcement in Iran has 60,000 police personnel serving under the Ministry of Interior and Justice, including border patrol personnel (0,08% of total population)
• The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, or Revolutionary Guards, has an estimated 125,000 personnel (0,17% of total population)
• The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Its membership is a matter of controversy. Iranian sources claim a membership of 12.6 million, including women, of which perhaps 3 million are combat capable (4 % to 17% of total population)

• Inhabitants: ca. 82,000,000
• police force total: ca. 247.000 – 0,30 % (percentage of population total)
• armed forces total (i.e. active plus reserve personnel): ca. 610.000 – 0,74 % (percentage of population total)

There is no decisive difference (expressed in percentage-proportion to population total) between Germany and Iran when the calculation is restricted to the regular police and army forces.

Differences: the number of purely functional police forces is considerably lower than the German figure.
This difference is more than compensated, when adding the figures of the IRGC- plus Basiji-forces – law enforcement forces that don’t act on a purely functional basis, but in addition on ideological [fanatical] grounds.

Thus differences emerge clearly when additionally taking into account the Iranian (ideologized/fanaticized) parapolice/paramilitary forces (4,2 % to 17,2%).

[Independently of any possibly moderate voting behaviour and any possibly moderate political outlook of members of these forces they still are subjected to the principle of “command and obedience” when in service.]

To be emphasized is the exceptional, considerable economic impact and power the IRGC are wielding. The corps dominates both Iran's official and black economies with a market share of a third to nearly two-thirds of Iran. It is impossible to gauge its market share, but western estimates range from a third to nearly two-thirds of Iran's GDP. The IRGC is a corporation, a business conglomerate with guns.

“The financial power of the Revolutionary Guards”, in: The Guardian, 16.02.2010


This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 21.57 GMT on Monday 15 February 2010.

A version appeared on p16 of the Main section section of the Guardian on Tuesday 16 February 2010.


One difficult task of the “green” movement to cope with.

The Iran-Iraq War took place 1980 – 1988, the reason and start of the emergence and existence of the IRGC and Basiji. Let us assume that the main contingent of men fighting at that time might have been 18 to 25 years on average.
Now, twenty to thirty years later these men, who are about 40 to 55 years old, presumably form the middle and upper echelons of the command structure within the IRGC, the Basiji and possible further auxiliary paramilitary/parapolice forces.
This generation and age cohort (age group), having fought for Iran, will presumably not be willing - now in the prime and at the peak of their active (working) life - to let go of their potential influence and power within society they have acquired with Ahmadinejad coming to power at the latest.
It will last about at least 5 to – at the most – 20 years until these men who have direct fighting (and killing) experience at their disposal will leave active working life, will leave the ranks of the Basiji.

Publicola / February 18, 2010 9:29 PM