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Topic: Iran (Read 190966 times)
Reply #550 on:
July 06, 2012, 10:25:17 AM »
The article didn't miss it; t think the article very definitely points out that "war with Iran would be very serious business."
In fact, as the article also points out, many former Israeli intelligence officers are warning America to avoid a military clash with Iran because it would be try serious business.
If we take any military action against their "nuke program" there will be repercussions. As the article points out, it's not Islam, it's our meddling in the middle east
that causes the deep seated animosity.
You'd best sit down lest the shock be too much
Reply #551 on:
July 18, 2012, 08:52:45 PM »
Off the radar screen of most of the chattering class is the fact that the US is assembling quite a naval presence of Iran. I must say I heartily approve.
Is BO about to "wag the dog"?
Reply #552 on:
July 19, 2012, 11:14:34 AM »
I haven't watched it yet, but the documentary is at
Iran Strikes Again
by Alex Traiman
At least seven are dead and dozens are injured as a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying Israelis on vacation in Bulgaria near the Black Sea. Immediate links are already being drawn to Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran and their terror proxy Hezbollah of being behind yesterday's attacks, but he is not the only one who has identified the link.
While Iranian State Television called the accusations, "ridiculous" and "sensational," others with alleged ties to the Iranian government are not as quick to deny the connections.
"The government in Tehran is a very likely suspect," said Trita Parsi, regime supporter and founder and president of the National Iranian American Council. "It appears that Tehran has shifted its focus to softer targets." Noting the logic of such a strategy, Parsi added that, "Targeting unwitting tourists is much easier than security-conscious officials."
The murderous attack came 18 years to the day after the horrific bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) that killed 85 and injured hundreds on July 18, 1994 in Buenos Aires. It was the deadliest bombing in Argentina's history.
After an extensive investigation, Argentina's Chief Prosecutor, Alberto Nisman formally charged Iran and Hezbollah for the bombing stating, "We deem it proven that the decision to carry out an attack July 18, 1994 on the AMIA was made by the highest authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran which directed Hezbollah to carry out the attack."
Just two years earlier, the Iranian sponsored Islamic Jihad Organization and Hezbollah took credit for bombing the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 29 and injured 242.
Following the 1994 attack, prosecutors in Argentina called for the arrest of several Iranian officials, including Iran's President at the time, Ali Rafsanjani - also commonly credited as the father of Iran's nuclear weapon's program.
Like the previous attacks, yesterday's strike in Bulgaria was not an isolated incident. Iran has continued a decades-long pattern of attacking its enemies beyond its own borders. Not all the attacks have been successful.
Parsi notes that Iran has been behind several less sophisticated attacks during the past year. "Amateurish attacks did occur in Thailand, and Indian police have accused Iran of being behind a failed assassination attempt of the Israeli ambassador's wife in New Delhi. Iranian agents have also been arrested in Kenya."
Iran has not limited its terror activities solely to Jewish and Israeli targets.
In October, 2011, a plot to assassinate a Saudi Diplomat at a restaurant in Washington, DC was foiled by law enforcement. The plot included plans to strike at two embassies in America's capital city. Iran denied any connections to the plot, but Attorney General Eric Holder called the attempt a "flagrant violation of U.S. and international law," and stated that, "The United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions."
Yet Iran is barely being held accountable.
For nearly two decades, Iran has sat atop the U.S. State Department's short list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism." Iran is joined on the list by noted actors Cuba, Sudan and Syria. Of those state terror sponsors, Iran has been continuously been designated as the most active.
Iran is on the list with good reason. Many remember some of Iran's most devastating terror attacks against Americans.
On October 23, 1983, two truck bombs targeting American and French military installations in Beirut Lebanon killed 299, including 241 Americans. At the time, it was the single deadliest attack on US interests since World War II. The attack was carried out by Hezbollah, a terror organization that was conceived and continues to be funded by Tehran.
In the 1990's, Iran continued its terror assault. On June 25, 1996, a truck bomb killed 19 Americans when it exploded at the Khobar Towers military housing complex in Saudi Arabia. After a three-year investigation, the FBI concluded that Iran was behind the attack.
In addition to these isolated attacks, Iran was a primary force behind the insurgencies against US forces in Iraq. According to the State Department, Iran provided "lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups that target U.S. and Iraqi forces," and supplied militants with "Iranian-produced advanced rockets, sniper rifles, automatic weapons, and mortars that have killed Iraqi and Coalition Forces, as well as civilians," and provided militants with "the capability to assemble explosives designed to defeat armored vehicles."
As Michael Ledeen, featured in the award-winning documentary Iranium noted in an interview for the film, "Iran has been at war with America for over thirty years."
When you begin to consider the scope of Iran's violent attacks against Western interests, coupled with statements such as, "Israel is a cancerous tumor" that needs to be removed, and "the countdown to the demise of America's demonic power has begun," you begin to understand that the Iranian regime would use whatever tools it has at its disposal to strike its self-stated enemies.
This is what makes Iran's development of nuclear weapons so dangerous. Notwithstanding the fact that Iran's clandestine nuclear program is completely illegal, nuclear weapons in the hands of the world's greatest terror sponsors could have cataclysmic consequences.
There is little reason to assume that Iran - a country that strikes Western interests whenever and wherever they can find them; has killed thousands of Americans and Israelis; and openly calls for the destruction of two nations - would not use nuclear weapons if it came to acquire them.
And the possible methods to deliver such a blast, including infiltrations by terrorists wherever they may be are too numerous to protect against. Today, Iranian terror proxies can be found across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, Mexico and even inside the United States.
Yet the punishments America has inflicted in response to Iran's illegal and violent actions have simply not fit the crimes they continue to commit.
Sanctions legislation, while improving, has yet to formally cripple the Iranian economy or get Iran to give up its nuclear pursuits. And leading nations of the world, including the United States - that should be thoroughly fed up with Iran's belligerence - continue to search for ways to reach common ground and negotiate with Iran, in the vain and misguided hope of convincing this rogue regime to give up it's nuclear program.
The documentary Iranium covers in-depth the history of the Iranian regime, ideology, sponsorship of terror, nuclear development, and western incompetence in identifying and dealing with the threats.
Today, as we mourn the deaths of innocent civilians, the film remains as important as ever. And while millions across the world have seen the film, millions more have not. Iranium is a comprehensive and emotive tool that enables Americans to fully understand the nature and scope of the threats that Iran continues to pose.
The film struck a chord with officials within the Iranian regime who went out of their way to block it's screening, and repeatedly denounced the documentary during foreign ministry press conferences in Tehran.
If you have not yet watched the film, please do so by clicking on the player below. If you have watched the film, please pass it along to others. It is only through understanding the nature of the threats we face that will enable us to defeat them.
Alex Traiman is the Director of the award-winning documentary IRANIUM. The documentary is now available for
Debka: War coming soon
Reply #553 on:
August 02, 2012, 02:08:24 PM »
The often unreliable Debka:
On July 27, just before Friday prayers, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei summoned top Iranian military chiefs for what he called “their last war council.”
“We’ll be at war within weeks,” he told the gathering, debkafile’s exclusive Iranian and intelligence sources disclose.
Present were Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi, Khamenei’s military adviser General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, Armed Forces Chief Major General Seyed Hassan Firuzabadi, Revolutionary Guards Corps commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari and Al Qods Brigades chief General Qassem Soleimani. The commanders of the air force, the navy and ground forces were also there.
Each of the participants was tapped to report on the readiness of his branch or sector for shouldering its contingency mission.
While retaliation had been exhaustively drilled in regular military exercises in the past year, Khamenei ordered the biggest fortification project in Iran’s history to save its nuclear program from even the mightiest of America’s super-weapons. Rocks are being gathered from afar, piled on key nuclear installations, covered with many tons of poured concrete and finally plated with steel.
That same Friday, the US Air force unveiled its new Massive Ordnance Penetrators. Each bunker buster weighs 30,000 pounds and is able to penetrate 60 feet of reinforced concrete.
Turning to retaliation, the war council endorsed a battery of paybacks for potential US and/or Israeli pre-emptive strikes against its nuclear program. They would start by announcing enhanced uranium enrichment up to 60 percent - that is close to weapons grade.
Oft-tested ballistic missiles, Shehab-3, would be loosed against Israel, Saudi Arabia and American Middle East and Gulf military installations.
Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas and Jihad Islami in Gaza stand ready to pitch in against Israel with attacks from the north and the southwest.
Saudi oil export terminals would be blown up and mines sown in the Strait of Hormuz to impede the export of one-fifth of the world’s oil.
Khamenei put before his war council a timeline of weeks for the coming conflict – September or October.
WSJ: Iran's nuke guru resurfaces
Reply #554 on:
August 30, 2012, 11:10:29 AM »
Iran's Nuclear-Arms Guru Resurfaces
By JAY SOLOMON
VIENNA—The Iranian scientist considered Tehran's atomic-weapons guru until he was apparently sidelined several years ago is back at work, according to United Nations investigators and U.S. and Israeli officials, sparking fresh concerns about the status of Iran's nuclear program.
Close.Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, widely compared with Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who oversaw the crash 1940s effort to build an atomic bomb, helped push Iran into its nuclear age over the past two decades. A senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, he oversaw Iran's research into the construction and detonation of a nuclear warhead, Western officials say.
Mr. Fakhrizadeh complained in 2006 that his funding and nuclear-weapons work had been frozen by Iran's government, according to intercepted email and phone calls, U.S. officials said. The intercepts contributed to a 2007 U.S. intelligence report that concluded Iran had halted its attempts to build a nuclear bomb in 2003.
Today, however, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, believes Mr. Fakhrizadeh has opened a research facility in Tehran's northern suburbs involved in studies relevant to developing nuclear weapons. The offices include some of the same scientists and military staff active in Iran's previous nuclear-weapons research, said intelligence officials who have seen intelligence on the facility.
In this, April 8, 2008, file photo released by the Iranian President's Office, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility some 200 miles south of the capital, Tehran.
.A number of Mr. Fakhrizadeh's closest colleagues have risen up the ranks of the Iranian bureaucracy in recent months, placing them in positions to influence the future of Iran's nuclear program. Among them is Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and is one of the country's vice presidents.
The apparent re-emergence of Mr. Fakhrizadeh comes as international diplomatic efforts to contain Tehran's nuclear program have stalled and as Israel threatens military strikes. It also calls into question the conclusion by the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had frozen its nuclear-weapons program.
A quarterly report by the IAEA is expected this week to conclude that Iran continues to expand the number of centrifuges it has for enriching uranium and is moving more of this equipment into an underground facility near the holy city of Qom. The site, known as Fordow, is seen as largely impregnable to attack. On Wednesday, the IAEA said it was establishing a special task force to investigate Iran's nuclear program, signaling its concern about Tehran's continued advances.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, met with Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Wednesday.
.Iran denies it is pursuing atomic weapons, saying its research is just for energy, and has said that much of the IAEA's information is bogus. Efforts to reach Mr. Fakhrizadeh through Iran's mission at the U.N. were unsuccessful. Mr. Abbasi-Davani denies any nuclear-weapons role.
Senior Obama administration officials say the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate remains accurate. They agree some research on atomic weapons development involving Mr. Fakhrizadeh has likely continued but contend it isn't centralized and systematic, as it was before 2003. These officials say the U.S. and its allies still have time to use sanctions and diplomacy to deny Iran an atomic bomb.
Israel and some European nations worry that Mr. Fakhrizadeh's suspected warhead research coincides with steps by Tehran to push ahead with the two other planks of a nuclear-arms program: missile systems and production of more highly enriched uranium. Security officials from these countries say Iran is steadily moving toward a point where its program would be so advanced that diplomacy or military strikes would no longer be able to deny it the bomb or the capability to build one.
"They are moving up all three elements of their nuclear program to the starting line," a senior Israeli official said.
At the center of the IAEA and Western focus on Mr. Fakhrizadeh, believed to be 51 years old, is an institution called the SPND, meaning, in Persian, the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research. The IAEA believes that Mr. Fakhrizadeh secretly opened SPND in 2011 and that elements of Iran's nuclear-arms research, which they thought were shelved in 2003 and which also have civilian applications, may be taking place there.
Based in the Tehran suburb of Mojdeh, the SPND hosts six directorates that include research labs for metallurgy, chemistry and explosives testing, according to Western officials who have seen the intelligence on the site. The organization reports directly to the Revolutionary Guard.
"We have concerns in various areas that indicate activities that are relevant to nuclear explosive devices," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in a June interview. "This is where we stand now. And if we cannot clarify, we get more concerned."
Mr. Amano has publicly raised his concerns that Iran has done other weapons-related research post-2003. Included in this, according to IAEA reports, was computer modeling in 2008 and 2009 to simulate the detonation of a nuclear bomb. The IAEA also says it has evidence Iran did studies starting in 2006 to develop a neutron initiator, which is placed in the core of a warhead to set off a fissile reaction.
Current and former IAEA officials say the SPND is just the most recent base for Mr. Fakhrizadeh, who has long been on the West's radar. The U.S. and IAEA trace his work back nearly two decades, saying he and the nuclear-weapons research efforts moved through a series of organizations over the years.
"Such projects are good if one wants to maintain the expertise of the scientists in fields related to nuclear-weapons research under different legitimate hats," said Olli Heinonen, former chief weapons inspector for the IAEA. "This is a way you can conceal."
Iran has long done research on nuclear energy, dating back to the shah's rule. But documents obtained by the IAEA and outside groups show the Islamic government began running a separate nuclear program in the late 1980s and '90s under the leadership of the defense ministry. It was initially based in an office called the Physics Research Center, or PHRC, and led by Mr. Fakhrizadeh and a professor at Sharif University.
More than 1,600 of PHRC telexes were obtained this year by the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonproliferation research organization in Washington. They show how the PHRC shielded technology purchases. In a Jan. 1, 1991, telex, the university's purchasing department sought samples of magnets that could be used in developing gas centrifuges from a European engineering company. The return address it gave wasn't the university's, but the PHRC's.
In 2000, according to IAEA officials, Mr. Fakhrizadeh moved to a new defense ministry institute where Tehran conducted some of its most advanced research on nuclear weapons. The institute used a military site south of Tehran called Parchin, where the agency says high-explosives tests required for developing atomic bombs were likely conducted. Much of the IAEA's focus in the past year has been on gaining access to Parchin, which Iran has so far denied.
IAEA inspectors have also repeatedly been rebuffed in efforts to interview Mr. Fakhrizadeh, say current and former IAEA staff members.
Mr. Heinonen, now at Harvard's Belfer Center on science and international affairs, described a 2008 trip to Tehran at which, the Finnish scientist says, he kept asking for access to Mr. Fakhrizadeh but was greeted instead by bureaucrats who deflected his questions.
The U.N. Security Council imposed a travel ban and financial sanctions on Mr. Fakhrizadeh in 2007 for his work, and similar sanctions against Mr. Abbasi-Davani because of his ties to Mr. Fakhrizadeh. Mr. Abbasi-Davani, interviewed that year while working as a rector at an Iranian university, denied playing any role in Iran's nuclear program, saying: "In order to gain prestige…we don't need the atomic bomb."
In November 2010, Mr. Abbasi-Davani was one of two scientists targeted by assassins on motorbikes who placed magnetized bombs on their cars while they were stuck in Tehran traffic. He survived, unlike his colleague. Iran blamed Israel. Israeli officials have never confirmed or denied involvement.
Later, Mr. Abbasi-Davani was promoted to head the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Last month, he said Iran now has the technology to move quickly toward producing weapons-grade uranium. Such fuel can be used to build the core of an atomic weapon. Mr. Abbasi-Davani said it would only be for fueling a nuclear submarine or merchant vessels.
Mr. Abbasi-Davani emerged on the world stage last September to attend the IAEA's general conference in Vienna, despite the U.N. travel ban. Appearing before reporters, he said Iran wouldn't slow its uranium-enrichment activities but would move them into underground bunkers.
He also tweaked British, Israeli and American intelligence services that, he claimed, had tried to kill him a year earlier.
"Six years ago, the intelligence service of the U.K. began collecting information and data regarding my past," he said. They even "checked into the back door of my room in the university to see whether I have a bodyguard or not."
—Siobhan Gorman and Nathan Hodge contributed to this article.
Tick, tock, tick, boom
Reply #555 on:
September 07, 2012, 12:19:10 PM »
What We Know About Iran's Nukes
The regime's most secure uranium-enrichment site has doubled capacity since May, and its suspected top bomb-maker is back on the case..
By OLLI HEINONEN AND SIMON HENDERSON
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claimed last week that his government isn't interested in nuclear weapons: "Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none," he said. A better perspective was provided almost simultaneously from the world's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which on Aug. 30 released its latest report on Iran's nuclear activities.
The report, written in a mix of bureaucrat-speak and obscure science, nevertheless conveys a worrying message. It shows that Iran continues to expand its capacity for enriching uranium. There are now two new groups of centrifuges installed at Fordow—the hardened site built under a mountain near the holy city of Qom—which signals a doubling of the site's capacity since May.
Crucially, Iran continues to stockpile uranium enriched to 3.5% and 20% purity—levels for which Iran has no immediate use unless it is planning to make an atomic bomb. (Its stockpiles of 20% uranium far exceed Tehran's claimed needs for a reactor making medical isotopes.)
Iran is now operating around 11,000 centrifuges categorized as "IR-1," which are based on a Dutch design acquired by the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. This means that, despite international sanctions and surveillance, Iran has acquired (and perhaps continues to acquire) important supplies from abroad, particularly maraging steel and high-strength aluminum. Alternatively, and no less worrying, is the possibility that Iran is now able to produce such special metals domestically.
A piece of apparent good news is that Iran's IR-1 centrifuges are performing at half their design potential, producing less enriched uranium than they might otherwise. This indicates quality problems, perhaps due to the manufacturing process or to the raw materials used. It also appears that Iran remains slow in developing more advanced centrifuge types. This could be because of design and manufacturing problems. Or Iran could be saving the advanced centrifuges for another secret, yet-to-be-revealed facility. We can only speculate.
Associated Press/Ronald Zak
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano.
Judging from this report, Iran seems determined to achieve the capability of producing nuclear materials suitable for nuclear weapons. Whether it has made a decision to produce a fully operational nuclear weapon is unclear. (The Obama administration says it hasn't, according to its latest declared intelligence on Iran's government.)
Going forward, the matter of advanced centrifuges will be important to watch. If Iran acquires or develops them, it could pursue a "fast break-out"—moving within months to 90%-enriched uranium, which is weapons-grade—using its already sizable and growing inventories of 20%. Once it has five or six bombs-worth of 90% enriched uranium, it would essentially be a latent nuclear-weapon state—whether it has actually tested a bomb or not.
Indeed, given the intelligence uncertainties involved with monitoring whether such a secretive program moves to "break-out," even a stockpile of five or six bombs-worth of 20%-enriched uranium would effectively make Iran a nuclear-weapon state.
Last week's IAEA report also shows that inspectors continue to struggle to get access to the controversial site of Parchin, outside Tehran, where satellite imagery shows that Iran has carried out substantial landscaping and construction activities, presumably to cover up past nuclear work. Similar Iranian obstructionism and destruction of evidence has taken place in the past.
Still, the IAEA has powerful inspection tools—plus information from member states such as the U.S.—which means it could take a view on what earlier happened at Parchin. The suspicion is that Iran used a giant steel chamber at the site to experiment on "implosion," the technique of squeezing a nuclear explosive (such as highly enriched uranium) into a critical mass using conventional explosives. Evidence of such testing would be a "smoking gun" indicating Iranian military nuclear intentions.
Cautious politicians will argue there is still time for diplomacy, plus sanctions and military threats, to succeed. But Iranian leaders give little impression they are about to give in to pressure. And during last week's flurry of news, this newspaper reported that Iran's suspected chief nuclear bomb maker, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, appears to have been brought back to the fore after several years of apparently being sidelined.
The IAEA report concludes by saying that Director-General Yukiya Amano "will continue to report as appropriate." But Mr. Amano does not have a sign on his desk saying "the buck stops here." The future of Iran's nuclear program is in the hands of whoever does.
Mr. Heinonen, a former top IAEA inspector, is a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center. Mr. Henderson is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Iran "Israel must be eliminated"
Reply #556 on:
September 26, 2012, 09:28:17 AM »
Israel Must Be 'Eliminated'
Netanyahu has to take Iran's words seriously. Why doesn't Obama? .
'To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the United Nations today, which also happens to be Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. The timing is apt because when it comes to Iran and Israel, the hardest thing for some people to see or hear is what Iranian leaders say in front of the world's nose.
"Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They [the Israelis] have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history," Mr. Ahmadinejad told reporters and editors in New York on Monday.
Heritage Foundation fellow Brett Schaefer on President Obama's speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
"We do believe that they have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end. Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs. We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they [the Israelis] represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated."
Note that word—"eliminated." When Iranians talk about Israel, this intention of a final solution keeps coming up. In October 2005, Mr. Ahmadinejad, quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini, said Israel "must be wiped off the map." Lest anyone miss the point, the Iranian President said in June 2008 that Israel "has reached the end of its function and will soon disappear off the geographical domain."
He has company among Iranian leaders. In a televised speech in February, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called Israel a "cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut," adding that "from now on, in any place, if any nation or any group that confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear of expressing this."
Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the armed forces, added in May that "the Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel."
This pledge of erasing an entire state goes back to the earliest days of the Iranian revolution. "One of our major points is that Israel must be destroyed," Ayatollah Khomeini said in the 1980s.
Former Iranian President Akbar Rafsanjani—often described as a moderate in Western media accounts—had this to say in 2001: "If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality."
So for Iran it is "not irrational" to contemplate the deaths of millions of Muslims in exchange for the end of Israel because millions of other Muslims will survive, but the Jewish state will not.
The world's civilized nations typically denounce such statements, as the U.S. State Department denounced Mr. Ahamadinejad's on Monday. But denouncing them is not the same as taking them seriously. Sometimes the greatest challenge for a civilized society is comprehending that not everyone behaves in civilized or rational fashion, that barbarians can still appear at the gate.
Thus we hear in U.S. and European policy circles that Israel is overreacting to such publicly stated intentions because Iran would never act on them and, in any case, Israel has its own nuclear deterrent. But no one believes Israel would launch a nuclear first-strike to wipe out Tehran, and an Israeli counterstrike would be too late to protect Israel from being "eliminated."
The tragic lesson of history is that sometimes barbarians mean what they say. Sometimes regimes do want to eliminate entire nations or races, and they will do so if they have the means and opportunity and face a timorous or disbelieving world.
No one knows that more acutely than Israeli leaders, whose state was founded in the wake of such a genocide. The question faced by Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and other Israelis is whether they can afford to allow another regime pledged to Jewish "annihilation" to acquire the means to accomplish it. The answer, in our view, is as obvious as Mr. Ahmadinejad's stated intentions.
In his U.N. speech Tuesday, President Obama took a tougher-than-usual election-season line against Iran, stating that "the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." But the cold reality is that after nearly four years of failed diplomacy and half-hearted sanctions that he opposed until Congress forced his hand, neither Iran nor Israel believe him.
Someone should put Orwell on the President's reading list before it's too late
Reply #557 on:
September 26, 2012, 09:31:12 AM »
It almost makes you wish for Bill Clinton again doesn't it?
"What they're really saying is, in spite of the fact that we deny the Holocaust, that we threaten Israel, and we demonize the United States, and we do all this stuff, we want you to trust us," Clinton told CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview to air Tuesday night. "They don't have a tenable position."
Reply #558 on:
September 26, 2012, 10:44:33 AM »
Quote from: JDN on September 26, 2012, 09:31:12 AM
It almost makes you wish for Bill Clinton again doesn't it?
"What they're really saying is, in spite of the fact that we deny the Holocaust, that we threaten Israel, and we demonize the United States, and we do all this stuff, we want you to trust us," Clinton told CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview to air Tuesday night. "They don't have a tenable position."
Why would anything Bill has ever said be taken as anything but the glib, selfserving lie of the moment, to be dropped like a stained blue dress or a young intern when it's no longer of immediate use?
POTH: Attack would accelerate Iran going nuke
Reply #559 on:
September 30, 2012, 06:03:46 AM »
Some typical POTH progressive revisionism in this (e.g. Mao's China went nuke because of the nasty US making it feel insecure) but still the question presented remains. Iran has dug in deep, an attack would likely unifty the country, and justify going nuke both internally and internationally.
ADVOCATES of airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities have long held that the attacks would delay an atom bomb for years and perhaps even buy Israel enough time to topple the Iranian government. In public statements, the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, has said that an attack would leave Iran’s nuclear program reeling, if not destroyed. The blow, he declared recently, would set back the Iranian effort “for a long time.”
Quite the opposite, say a surprising number of scholars and military and arms-control experts. In reports, talks, articles and interviews, they argue that a strike could actually lead to Iran’s speeding up its efforts, ensuring the realization of a bomb and hastening its arrival.
“An attack would increase the likelihood,” Scott D. Sagan, a political scientist at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, said of an Iranian weapon.
The George W. Bush administration, it turns out, reached an even stronger conclusion in secret and rejected bombing as counterproductive.
The view among Mr. Bush’s top advisers, recalled Michael V. Hayden, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was that a strike “would drive them to do what we were trying to prevent.”
Those who warn against attacking Iran say that such a move would free officials in Tehran of many constraints. An attack, for instance, would all but certainly lead to the expulsion of international inspectors, which, in turn, would allow the government to undo hundreds of monitoring devices and safeguards, including seals on underground storage units. Further, an Iran permitted to present itself to the world as the victim of an attack would receive sympathy and perhaps vital imports from nations that once backed trade bans. The thinking also goes that a strike would allow Iran to further direct its economy to military ends.
Perhaps most notably, an attack could unite what is now a fractious state, these analysts say, and build an atmosphere of mobilizing rage. As the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland wrote earlier this year, “It’s difficult to see a single action more likely to drive Iran into taking the final decision.”
History, the analysts say, demonstrates that airstrikes and military threats often result in unbending resolve among the beleaguered to do whatever it takes to acquire nuclear arms.
“People always assume the bad guys want nukes,” says Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation specialist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. “But I think there’s usually a hesitation about the balance of risk. My sense is that the threat of military action makes bad guys feel like they need the bomb.”
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, seemed to have embodied that kind of determination when he said famously in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”
Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior nonproliferation official at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a prominent arms analysis group in London, said in an e-mail interview that it was “almost certain” that a military strike on Iran would result in “a Manhattan-style rush to produce nuclear weapons as fast as possible.”
These analysts maintain that the history of nuclear proliferation shows that attempting to thwart a nuclear program through an attack can have consequences opposite of those intended. Mr. Lewis of the Monterey Institute and other experts often cite Iraq. Israel’s attack on the Iraqi Osirak reactor in 1981, they argue, hardened the resolve of Saddam Hussein and gave his nuclear ambitions new life.
“All of the historical evidence that I have seen,” Mr. Lewis wrote recently, “suggests Saddam had yet to decide to seek nuclear weapons until the humiliation of the strike.”
Top Israelis disagree. Amos Yadlin, one of the pilots who attacked the Iraqi reactor and a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, argued early this year that Iraq’s nuclear program “never fully resumed” and cited the bombing episode as a compelling rationale for military action against Iran.
But a number of former Israeli officials have echoed those who think the attack emboldened Mr. Hussein and worry that an attack on Iran could do the same there.
Yuval Diskin, who retired last year as director of Israel’s internal security agency, told a gathering in April that “many experts” cite the acceleration risk. “What the Iranians prefer to do today slowly and quietly,” he said, “they would have the legitimacy to do quickly and in a much shorter time."
Nuclear historians say intimidation alone can spur an atomic response, as when American hostility prompted China to seek nuclear arms. Beijing succeeded in 1964 with a thunderous blast.
In “China Builds the Bomb,” John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai wrote that Washington’s threats provoked “defiant anger and the decision to undertake the costly nuclear weapons program.”
The question of what prompts the speedups would seem to go far beyond the Iranian crisis and atomic history because the number of latent nuclear states (ones that could make bombs but choose not to, like Japan and Germany) has risen around the globe in recent decades. The estimated number now stands at around 40.
Scholars have long debated the social factors that keep countries from crossing the line.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told his colleagues before they won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 that the bomb decision often turned on nothing more complex than a “sense of security or insecurity.”
In a turbulent world, he added, that kind of evaluation could change rapidly. “Thin,” he called the margin of safety, “and worrisome.”
William J. Broad is a New York Times reporter who has written extensively about weaponry.
Iranian currency plummeting?
Reply #560 on:
October 02, 2012, 07:11:29 AM »
I haven't seen anything about this elsewhere but if true this sounds like good news:
WSJ confirms currency drop in Iran
Reply #561 on:
October 03, 2012, 03:28:33 PM »
Iran Blames Currency's Fall on Rogue Traders, Sanctions .
By FARNAZ FASSIHI
Iranian officials lashed out Tuesday over the free fall of the rial, which lost nearly 25% against the dollar in just a week, by blaming illegal trading rings and fiscal mismanagement, and conceding that international sanctions have hurt its economy.
The rial fluctuated between 35,500 to 40,000 to the dollar on Tuesday, according to money exchangers in Tehran. It was down from 34,200 to a dollar just a day earlier on Monday and 23,000 on Sept. 24.
The currency crisis highlights Iran's economic challenges as international sanctions are starting to have a visible impact. Inflation—estimated at about 55% compared with last year for basic food, rent and transportation—would likely rise further as prices come in line with new currency rates.
For the first time, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly acknowledged Tuesday that the European Union and U.S. embargo on Iran's oil and Central Bank were hurting the economy and contributing to the devaluation of the rial.
"Two elements have joined hands to pressure the people of Iran. One is external and one is internal," he said in live televised remarks to reporters when asked to elaborate on the currency's rapid fall.
Oil sales, a major source of foreign-currency revenue for the government, had dropped as a result of sanctions, he said. Banking restrictions made it difficult to move and use oil revenues, he added. But he also blamed speculators for hammering the currency on the black market, by placing calls to traders to "jack [the dollar] up 5,000 rials," he said. "According to a report from one of the security services, 22 individuals are ringleaders of the recent turmoil in the currency market, and since these individuals are known, security institutions must act," he said.
Iranian police are investigating such traders, the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted a police official as saying.
It is Mr. Ahmadinejad's first explanation, economists said, that likely speaks to the problem's core: Because sanctions have slashed the government's oil income by nearly half—to about $42 billion annually from $85 billion—it has lower reserves with which to conduct its traditional operations to support the rial. For years, Iran's Central Bank has stabilized the currency by injecting cash into the market and keeping the black-market price closer to the official 12,260 rial to a dollar.
"The Central Bank is refusing to inject its dollars," said Fereydoun Khavand, an economics professor at the Université Paris Descartes and an Iran expert. "Dollar revenue has become a strategic and security issue because of regional developments, threat of war and sanctions, and [the Central Bank] will continue to act conservatively."
Critics of the government, meanwhile, have lashed out at poor management by Mr. Ahmadinejad's administration—blaming a provocative foreign policy that they say brought on sanctions, as well as fiscal mismanagement, including a partially implemented government subsidy program. Ali Larijani, the speaker of parliament, said Tuesday that the government's "Robin Hood-style" fiscal policies were to be blamed for 80% of Iran's economic woes.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said Tuesday the economic problems weren't his government's fault and said the Central Bank was capable of seeing the government through the crisis.
The U.S. said Tuesday that the rial's fall demonstrated that U.S. sanctions were having their intended effect. "The Iranian people are aware of who is responsible for the circumstances that have befallen the Iranian economy as a result of the regime's intransigence and refusal to abide by its international obligations," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
The Central Bank is at the center of Iranians' growing nervousness over their currency, as it has unveiled changes over the past few weeks in how it distributes dollars at the official rate, at which the rial is stronger than on the black market.
The bank announced that people who hold dollar accounts would no longer have access to their money in dollars and the bank would compensate them in rials at the official rate. Those traveling abroad and students would no longer be eligible to purchase dollars at the official rate from the bank, it also said.On Monday, dozens of families gathered outside of the Central Bank headquarters to protest the change of policy, saying they couldn't afford to send tuition at the non-subsidized rates.
The bank also announced last week that the subsidized dollar rate, which was previously available to most importers, would be extended only to a smaller group of importers, including those bringing in basic food and medicine. Importers of other priority items, including industrial and raw materials, would be eligible for only a 2 percent discount on the black-market dollar rate, while the rest would pay market prices.
This change of policy, analysts say, made Iranians realize that the Central Bank was short on foreign revenues and wouldn't be supporting the rial with market operations.
The rial's sharp decline has sent panic through the business community and the citizenry. Most deals have been put on hold until the currency stabilizes, say many merchants and industrialists. Most exchange shops along downtown Tehran's Ferdowsi Avenue, the hub for foreign-currency trade, closed Tuesday afternoon and said they won't buy or sell dollars. Many middle-class Iranians are taking cash out of bank accounts and trading it for dollars and euros, which many economists say may also be fueling the rial's fall.
"I used to make $2,000 a month with my salary. Then it dropped to $1,000 a few weeks ago, and now my income is worth only $500," said Ardavan, a 32-year-old engineer.
Mr. Ahmadinejad on Tuesday pleaded with Iranians to stop hoarding dollars and help the country's economy.
Stratfor: Iran's currency crisis
Reply #562 on:
October 05, 2012, 09:53:54 AM »
Iran's Currency Crisis in Context
October 5, 2012 | 1030 GMT
The steep decline in the value of Iran's currency over the past week will test the ability of the Iranian government to halt the downward economic spiral and prevent a large outbreak of social unrest. In dealing with the situation, Tehran is largely dependent on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an institution that is involved with the currency crisis at every level.
Since late September, the Iranian rial has lost as much as 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. The precipitous decline in the rial's value broadly stems from the U.S.-led economic sanctions campaign against Iran and the imperfect options at Tehran's disposal to defend the rial.
Sanctions Hit Iran's Financial System
The most recent phase of the sanctions campaign targeted the heart of the Iranian financial system. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-run national oil company sells the bulk of Iran's oil to foreigners in exchange for dollars. And since earlier sanctions pushed most private Iranian banks out of the oil business, the Central Bank of Iran is the primary institution to manage the transactions.
VIDEO: Stratfor on Economic Sanctions
However, the sanctions are not airtight. The West has little appetite for the high oil prices that a complete embargo would entail, and sanctions can be difficult to sustain politically. The sanctions therefore allow waivers to be granted to importers that keep more than 1 million barrels per day of Iranian crude flowing into the market. On top of this permitted trade, Iran has developed a number of alternative payment methods and smuggling operations to maintain oil exports, albeit at greater difficulty and higher cost.
Despite these methods, the sanctions do appear to be having enough of an impact to undermine Iranian oil revenue and constrain Iran's ability to obtain enough of the hard currency it needs to defend the rial. Official Iranian crude exports have been cut roughly in half -- from slightly more than 2 million barrels per day to 1 million barrels per day -- though volumes fluctuate on a monthly basis.
With the rial coming under increased pressure, the Central Bank of Iran had to draw from its foreign exchange reserves to subsidize the exchange rate and to fix prices of staple goods. The exact value of Iran's foreign exchange reserves is disputed, but a range of estimates indicates a decline from approximately $100 billion to $65 billion since January. Using foreign exchange reserves to prop up the currency is an expensive policy to maintain, and the central bank adopted an approach meant to ensure that the subsidization was targeted toward essential goods. This was first manifested in the July 2012 shift from a two-tiered exchange rate system to a three-tiered system. The policy entailed maintaining the official rate for imports of basic goods, imposing a 15,000 rial-per-dollar rate for imports of capital and intermediate goods and allowing access to a market rate for imports of non-essential goods.
This second tier is the most critical to examine. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps holds significant clout in Iranian industry, parallel financing and smuggling operations. The import of capital and intermediate goods for the Iranian economy is largely a Revolutionary Guard operation. Many members of the Revolutionary Guard have exploited their ability to access dollars cheaply and exchange them at a market rate to earn a profit through the tiered exchange system. This has allowed them to personally profit from Iran's premier state asset, its oil revenue, and has eroded the government's ability to redirect its wealth toward the wider population. Such speculators and black market traders form the "invisible mafia" that some Iranian government officials have blamed for the current crisis. Its presence could be tolerated during better times, but with the economy besieged by sanctions, Tehran's willingness to endure this activity has disappeared.
The pressure of sanctions and the loss of foreign exchange reserves due to the subsidized exchange rate have now reportedly led to the removal of the middle exchange rate and a drastic restriction of foreign exchange transactions throughout the economy. At the same time, a notable increase in government rhetoric about "economic jihad" and self-sustainability induced more panic in the market. Perception spread domestically that foreign exchange reserves were running out and the rial would soon collapse, leading Iranians to rush to currency exchange centers to trade their money for dollars.
The State's Response
As of Oct. 4, most currency exchange centers have reportedly shut down and police are barring access to these facilities as part of a state effort to constrain access to subsidized dollars and stop the outflow of dollars from Iran's foreign exchange reserves. Merchants at Tehran's Grand Bazaar -- whose continued participation in protests could provide the necessary momentum to sustain wider social turmoil -- have closed their shops over the past few days in protest of the currency depreciation. Security forces have been deployed to the bazaar in response, but the state is also actively trying to avoid a confrontation with the merchants that could trigger widespread unrest.
Stratfor has received indications that the government is quietly negotiating with merchants and offering access to dollars at subsidized exchange rates to compel them to reopen their shops. So far, the strategy appears to be working. Merchant associations held a meeting Oct. 4 and reportedly agreed to resume activity at the Grand Bazaar on Oct. 6. The government has ordered the deployment of Revolutionary Guard forces and police to the bazaar to ensure this remains the case. However, the sustainability of this strategy depends on three principal factors: the ability to apply physical force, continued oil sales and the maintenance of foreign exchange reserves.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
The thread tying the currency crisis together is the Revolutionary Guard. Iran's increased economic isolation due to sanctions over the years empowered the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The military force runs a sprawling business conglomerate that encompasses everything from insurance, construction, banking and energy. The Revolutionary Guard also plays an instrumental role in the smuggling of oil exports and consumer goods imports to sustain oil revenues and keep shelves stocked amid tightening sanctions. At the same time, members of the force at varying levels are in a prime position to exploit the currency exchange rates for personal gain. Finally, the Revolutionary Guard is the main security branch that the state will rely on to contain social unrest stemming from major economic disruptions.
In other words, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps may have to rein in its privately accumulated profits before it can effectively manage this widening economic crisis. This has significant implications for Iran's intensifying power struggle. In this latest bout of economic unease, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again become the scapegoat for the country's growing economic problems, a trend that has been in place for several years. Iran's clerical authorities have used a number of institutional levers to discredit the president's populist platform, which Ahmadinejad had framed as an alternative to the corrupted clerical elite. The Revolutionary Guard initially exploited this rift within the Iranian regime to strengthen its own position in the political affairs of the state; it has now aligned itself more closely with the clerics to isolate Ahmadinejad's faction.
Results from recent parliamentary elections indicate that the scapegoating strategy is working in the clerics' favor. However, the entire government will face a major crisis of confidence if it is unable to contain a currency crisis that could lead to more widespread unrest. The regime now appears to be trying to strike a deal with merchants to provide controlled access to imports. This strategy will require a consolidated security effort and a continued stream of oil revenue to allow the clerics to endure this crisis. And ultimately, that effort will rely on the security and business management abilities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Read more: Iran's Currency Crisis in Context | Stratfor
WSJ: West seizes on Iran's currency woes
Reply #563 on:
October 05, 2012, 11:00:22 AM »
West Seizes On Iran's Currency Woes .
By JAY SOLOMON and LAURENCE NORMAN
A meeting in Tehran on Thursday attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's leaders are contending with a rapid fall in the currency.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. and Europe are working on new coordinated measures intended to accelerate the recent plunge of Iran's currency and drain its foreign-exchange reserves, according to officials from the Obama administration, U.S. Congress and European Union.
The first salvos in this stepped-up sanctions campaign are expected at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Oct. 15, including a ban on Iranian natural-gas exports and tighter restrictions on transactions with Tehran's central bank, European officials said.
A number of additional banks are also expected to be targeted, in the continuing effort to press Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to curb his country's nuclear program.
The U.S. and EU are also considering imposing a de facto trade embargo early next year by moving to block all export and import transactions through Iran's banking system—which could further choke off Tehran's access to foreign currency, U.S. and European officials said.
On Oct. 15, European Union ministers are expected to pass:
Embargo on Iranian natural gas
Ban on graphite exports to Iran
Sanctions, asset freeze on additional Iranian banks
Officials are also looking at possible full asset freeze of Iran's central bank
U.S. lawmakers are working on legislation for:
Possible ban on transactions with Iran's central bank
Possible ban on international insuring of Iran
Possible ban on trade with Iran's energy sector
Merchants in Tehran's main bazaar closed their shops in protest on Wednesday against the plunge of Iran's currency, which has shed more than a third of its value in less than a week. Photo: Associated Press.
To that end, U.S. lawmakers are drafting legislation that would require the White House to block all international dealings with Iran's central bank, while also seeking to enforce a ban on all outside insuring of Iranian companies. There is also a legislative push to block investment in Iran's energy sector by closing off loopholes in existing sanctions.
The EU could follow up on implementing these U.S. measures, just as it backed the White House's moves to impede Iran's oil trade this year, officials said.
"You could see a move for a total embargo," said a senior European official involved in the sanctions debate. "This could fall in line with what Congress is thinking."
A nearly 40% drop in the Iranian rial's value against the dollar since Sept. 24 has increased confidence in Washington and Brussels that Western sanctions are starting to significantly erode Tehran's finances, senior U.S. and European officials said.
The rial's fall, which traders blame in part on mismanagement by Iranian authorities, is also seen to be fueling splits among Tehran's political elites. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly feuded with Iranian lawmakers and bureaucrats over who is to blame, and on Tuesday attributed the crisis to illegal currency traders as well as U.S. and EU sanctions.
On Wednesday, the Iranian government moved to shut down black-market foreign-exchange houses in a bid to restore financial calm, and antigovernment protests broke out in central Tehran.
It is unclear if the financial panic will force Tehran to make concessions on its nuclear program—the ultimate aim of the West's sanctions campaign. But the rial's plunge is undercutting views held by some in the U.S. and Europe that Tehran's oil wealth could make it immune from financial pressure, U.S. and European officials working on Iran said.
"There has been the perception that Iran is unmovable because of its oil resources," said a European official. "This perception is quickly shifting."
Iranian oil exports have fallen by more than 50% this year, according to Iranian officials and independent shipping trackers. U.S. and European officials said their moves to cut off those exports have been aided by ramped-up production in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya and other countries, which has helped keep global energy prices stable.
U.S. officials and analysts see Washington and its allies now in a race with Tehran to see what is achieved first—a balance-of-payments crisis in Iran or its acquisition of a nuclear-weapons capability. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
"The currency is dropping like a stone, there are riots, and Obama has harangued [Israeli leader Benjamin] Netanyahu not to bomb because there is time to economically cripple Iran," said Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank that advises U.S. lawmakers on sanctions policy. "So if the economic cripple-date occurs before the nuclear red line, then great, economic warfare may work."
U.S. and European officials believe Western sanctions and the EU's oil embargo, instituted in July, are costing Tehran $15 billion in lost energy revenue every quarter. This, in turn, is helping to force down the government's foreign-exchange reserves, which were estimated to be between $90 billion and $110 billion at the start of the year.
U.S. officials also believe that the widening financial penalties on Iran are making it harder for Iran's central bank to gain access to as much as 30% of its reserves, which are invested overseas. Outside economists now estimate inflation is running as high as 70% annually.
These developments, said U.S. and European officials, explain why Iranian financial officials appear reluctant to try to prop up the value of the Iranian rial by selling dollars into the local currency market. Mr. Ahmadinejad has publicly criticized Tehran's financial planners for not taking these steps.
Some member states still have concerns about taking steps that could disproportionately harm the Iranian population. There have been reports of food and medicine shortages in Iran in recent days, fueled by the weakening of the rial and dwindling imports.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday sought to deflect charges that sanctions are harming the Iranian people, saying Tehran's decisions were responsible for any economic hardships. "They have made their own government decisions—having nothing to do with the sanctions—that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside of the country,'' Mrs. Clinton said. "Of course, the sanctions have had an impact as well, but those could be remedied in short order if the Iranian government were willing to work with…the international community in a sincere manner."
In Brussels, the U.K., France and Germany have been pushing for broad new sanctions. Ministers from the three countries wrote to their counterparts last month, urging them to consider sanctions on energy, finance, trade and transportation, according to the letter, seen by The Wall Street Journal.
"The urgency of the matter requires that the EU demonstrates resolve and unity through quick and decisive action," they said in the letter, calling on the measures to be in place by Oct. 15.
Among the proposals being discussed in Europe is a widening of items on the prohibited-trade list, which would mainly affect energy-related products and services, according to several EU diplomats.
On Thursday, the 27-nation bloc was close to agreement on banning imports of Iranian natural gas and prohibiting exports of graphite to the country because of its possible use in the country's nuclear program, officials said.
The Europeans are also discussing broadening sanctions on a number of Iranian financial firms and imposing a full asset freeze on Iran's central bank. The Oct. 15 measures would likely fall short of a complete ban, an official said Thursday.
Other ideas under discussion include banning the export of marine equipment and the construction of Iranian oil tankers.
There is also a proposal to ban euro transactions with Iran through third parties, two diplomats said, although the details of how this could work are still being hammered out.
Last week, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, said they were eager to resume direct negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program, which have stalled since June.
Israeli leader Mr. Netanyahu, meanwhile, told the U.N. that the international community needed to be prepared to take military action against Iran by next summer to guard against it acquiring the fissile materials needed to assemble an atomic weapon.
—Benoît Faucon contributed to this article.
Write to Jay Solomon at
and Laurence Norman at
POTH: Iranians offer deal
Reply #564 on:
October 05, 2012, 02:36:29 PM »
WASHINGTON — With harsh economic sanctions contributing to the first major protests in Iran in three years, Iranian officials have begun to describe what they call a “nine-step plan” to defuse the nuclear crisis with the West by gradually suspending the production of the uranium that would be easiest for them to convert into a nuclear weapon.
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Iran’s plan was seen as a sign that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was feeling the pressure.
Times Topic: Iran's Nuclear Program (Nuclear Talks, 2012)
Merchants Reopen in Tehran, With Police Watching for More Protests (October 5, 2012)
Iran Reveals More About What It Calls Foreign Sabotage (September 26, 2012)
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But the plan requires so many concessions by the West, starting with the dismantling of all the sanctions that are blocking oil sales and setting off the collapse of the Iranian currency, that American officials have dismissed it as unworkable. Nonetheless, Iranian officials used their visit to the United Nations last week to attempt to drum up support, indicating that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is finally feeling the pressure.
“Within the intelligence community, I think it’s fair to say that there is split opinion about whether the upper level of the regime is getting seriously worried,” one senior intelligence official said when asked why the Iranians appeared to be backing away from their earlier stand that nothing would stop them from producing more medium-enriched uranium, which can be turned into bomb fuel in a matter of months.
“He’s erratic, and we’ve seen him walk up to the edge of deals before and walk away,” the official said, referring to Ayatollah Khamenei.
The Iranian plan is based on a proposal made to European officials in July. It essentially calls for a step-by-step dismantling of the sanctions while the Iranians end work at one of two sites where they are enriching what is known as “20 percent uranium.” Only when the Iranians reach step No. 9 — after all the sanctions are gone and badly depressed oil revenues have begun to flow again — would there be a “suspension” of the medium-enriched uranium production at the deep underground site called Fordow.
Obama administration officials say the deal is intended to generate headlines, but would not guarantee that Iran cannot produce a weapon. “The way they have structured it, you can move the fuel around, and it stays inside the country,” a senior Obama administration official said. “They could restart the program in a nanosecond. They don’t have to answer any questions from the inspectors” about evidence that they conducted research on nuclear weapons technology, but nonetheless would insist on a statement from the agency that all issues have been resolved.
“Yet we’re supposed to lift sanctions that would take years to reimpose, if we could get countries to agree,” the administration official said.
The United States has not put a formal offer on the table. But the outline of a way to a solution they described to Iranian officials before the summer is almost the mirror image of the Iranian nine-step proposal.
Under the American vision, Iran would halt all production of its 20 percent enriched uranium immediately, ship the existing stockpile out of the country and close the Fordow plant. That would defuse the threat of an Iranian “breakout” to produce a weapon, leaving the Iranians with a stockpile of low-enriched uranium that would require far more lengthy processing to weaponize.
Then the United States and its allies would offer some cooperation on civilian nuclear projects, and would agree not to add new sanctions at the United Nations Security Council. But the sanctions squeezing the Iranian economy would remain in place until a final deal is reached.
To the Iranians, this is a prescription for government change, and they insist it will fail. “I ask you sincerely, can anyone go to war with Iran,” even an economic war, and “come out a victor?” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week during a meeting with a half-dozen authors who have written books about Iran. “Why does the U.S. believe she can prevail?”
Yet Mr. Ahmadinejad declined to talk about the current negotiations. Instead, to the astonishment of Iranian officials, he argued at the session that the Iranian people were better off economically than they had been when he came to office. Since Mr. Ahmadinejad’s return to Tehran, Iranian officials have begun looking for any signs that their proposal, although rejected by Washington, could represent the basis of a conversation.
So far, it is difficult to find much overlap between the American and Iranian proposals. Both countries want to retain leverage, so the Iranians believe it is essential to keep the capability to produce uranium, and they reject any proposals to dismantle the nuclear infrastructure they have built, which they say is for civilian use. Similarly, the Americans, Europeans and Israelis believe they must maintain the constant pressure of sanctions.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made it clear that the United States had no intention of relaxing the sanctions — particularly now, just as they show the first sign of forcing Iran’s leaders to rethink the costs of their nuclear program.
“We have always said that we had a dual-track approach to this, and one track was trying to put pressure on the Iranian government to come to the negotiating table,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters. But she said it was Iran’s own mismanagement of its economy, more than the sanctions, that deserved “responsibility for what is going on inside Iran.”
“And that is who should be held accountable,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And I think that they have made their own government decisions, having nothing to do with the sanctions that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside the country.”
Iranian inflation really starting to take off
Reply #565 on:
October 09, 2012, 05:46:17 PM »
Pasting GMs post here as well:
Hyperinflation Hits Iran Like Weapon Of Mass Destruction
Addison Wiggin, Contributor
“Better buy now,” advised the rice merchant in Tehran. The retired factory guard took him up on the advice, buying 900 pounds of the stuff to feed his extended family for the next 12 months.
“As I was gathering my money,” the retiree told The New York Times, he got a phone call. “When he hung up, he told me prices had just gone up by 10%. Of course, I paid. God knows how much it will cost tomorrow.”
Iran’s currency, the rial, collapsed 40% last week under the pressure of Western sanctions and homegrown blundering. We’re not sure if Iran is in hyperinflation, as Cato Institute researcher Steve Hanke asserted in Friday’s 5 Min. Forecast, but at the very least they’re on the cusp.
Austrian economists describe three stages of inflation. In the first stage, people still hang onto their money, expecting prices to come down. In the second stage, people part with their money to stock up on goods before prices rise again. In the final hyperinflationary stage, people buy anything they can get their hands on — even if they don’t need it — because the goods are more valuable than the currency.
As we said on Thursday, Iran today is looking more and more like Iran during the 1978-79 revolution. Now there’s corroboration from someone who lived through those days.
“The new government wanted to prevent flight capital from leaving the country,” recalls Chicago-based derivatives specialist Janet Tavakoli, who married an Iranian while in college.
“In the panic to leave the country with some of their wealth,” she wrote in her 1998 book Credit Derivatives, “citizens found that although there was an official exchange rate of 7 tomans (10 rials) to the U.S. dollar, there was no means to convert money. Banks were closed much of the time. The government put a further restriction on conversion of currency. Citizens could take only $1,000 in U.S. currency out of the country and could take only a suitcase of clothing. The idea was to prevent citizens from taking valuable carpets, now labeled national protected works of art, out of the country.”
“Before a currency goes into free fall,” she writes now at Huffington Post, “its value can be chipped away while a distracted population fails to notice that the currency buys cheaper-quality clothing and less food in a package at a grocery store. That’s the current situation with the U.S. dollar.” You can see the visible effects of dollar weakening via a multi-year chart of the GLD or the UUP.
Iran, she says, is far beyond that stage. Where it leads this time, we have no idea but it’s nowhere good.
POTH: US says Iran has agreed to nuke talks
Reply #566 on:
October 20, 2012, 05:21:52 PM »
Guess who Iran wants to win our election , , ,
U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks
The United States and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.
In an exclusive report in Sunday’s New York Times, Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, citing Obama administration officials, write that Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election so that they know which American president they would be dealing with.
News of the agreement comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest. It has the potential to help President Obama make a case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the effort to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time. It is also far from clear that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, would go through with the negotiation should he win election.
Iran: BO sent secret message recognizing our nuke rights
Reply #567 on:
October 22, 2012, 11:27:04 PM »
WSJ: Countdown to the Red Line
Reply #568 on:
October 24, 2012, 11:34:30 AM »
Gerecht and Dubowitz: Countdown to the Red Line in Iran
After the 'cripple date,' it will likely take six months for the regime to truly feel the bite..
By REUEL MARC GERECHT
AND MARK DUBOWITZ
Iran's oil exports have been halved by economic sanctions, but that still leaves the regime with around $50 billion in oil income this year, according to calculations by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Nevertheless, the Iranian economy has taken a substantial hit from sanctions. After the rial lost nearly half of its value in a week earlier this month, Tehran began severely restricting access to dollars and euros.
That's a welcome sign for anyone who hopes that international sanctions will cause the Tehran regime to abandon its nuclear-weapons program. But the currency restrictions were also a warning: In all probability the regime is battening down the hatches, husbanding foreign-exchange reserves, and preparing for a long ordeal. Given the progress that Tehran has already made with its nuclear plans—still-hidden centrifuge manufacturing plants, enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, a likely weaponization facility at Parchin, and an extensive ballistic-missile program—the regime faces a short, relatively inexpensive dash to the nuclear finish line.
How close it is to that finish line, and how much more time should be allowed for sanctions to work before it's too late, and a pre-emptive military strike becomes essential?
The first task in answering the question is to make a solid guess about the Islamic Republic's economic cripple date. That will arrive when its hard-currency reserves are insufficient to cover its hard-currency payments; when the import of foreign goods is no longer possible; when the rial becomes worthless paper; and when precious metals and barter become the only means of exchange.
There is no way of knowing whether Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, and his Revolutionary Guards will ever relent in their nuclear ambitions—there is always the possibility that the economy could crater disastrously but the regime would keep enriching uranium anyway. For those who want to give sanctions every chance of succeeding, though, the working assumption must be that a collapsed economy will cause the mullahs to relent.
Common sense would suggest that the cripple date should arrive at least six months before Iran could go nuclear; six months would likely be required for the economic disaster to fully affect the regime. Fear and depression would need time to ripple through the Islamic Republic's formidable political system—Mr. Khamenei and his praetorians are, after all, serious revolutionaries.
In his recent speech to the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described when he considers that the red line for a nuclear Iran will have been reached: late spring/early summer 2013, when the regime will have enough 20%-enriched uranium to make one bomb. For those who take the Israeli threat of a pre-emptive strike seriously and believe it would be a mistake, then the economic cripple date would have to occur within the next three months—by mid-January—for the Iranian regime to be staring at imminent economic collapse before the Israelis' red line in June.
President Obama has avoided citing a red line that he would not allow Iran to cross. He has said that Iran must not go nuclear, but he clearly doesn't subscribe to the Israeli view that a nuclear-weapon capability is in itself a casus belli. Mr. Obama instead has suggested that the Iranians' clear intent to assemble a bomb, not just acquiring the ingredients, is what he regards as a red line that would require pre-emptive force. By that definition, military action could be avoided until the Iranians were caught in flagrante delicto.
And they might be caught. Iran's nuclear program is different from that of the Soviets, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis and North Koreans. They all went nuclear clandestinely, surprising the Central Intelligence Agency. Since Iran's secret program was revealed, Tehran has kept its enrichment plants—though not suspected weapons-design facilities—open to U.N. inspection. Although the regime may have become more proficient at deception, it is generally assumed that the plants at Natanz and Fordow are the only enrichment sites. Prudence should lead us, however, to challenge this assumption since the regime tried to hide both sites and cheats rapaciously.
If they are the only sites, then a crucial issue arises: At what point does the stockpiling of 20%-enriched uranium so diminish the time for processing weapons-grade material that—even if the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency could rapidly detect the diversion—Iran could become a threshold nuclear state in less than 30 days? After all, IAEA inspections currently occur about once a month.
It's not certain when that moment will arrive, given Iranian secrecy. But a reasonable guess, based on the increasing number of centrifuges, is that Tehran will be there by the end of 2013. Once the regime processes medium-enriched uranium into weapons-grade, then militarily stopping the program isn't practical. That's because designing nuclear triggers or warheads for the country's ever-growing supply of ballistic missiles could be done in small, undetectable facilities. If we assume January 2014 as the nuclear drop-dead date (by the U.S. standard), then American and European sanctions would need to collapse the Islamic Republic's economy by July 2013.
By that calculation, and leaving a minimum of six months for economic collapse to ripple through the Iranian system, the U.S. and its allies have nine months from today to crater Iran's economy. With $50 billion a year still pouring in from oil sales, and Tehran likely to have stockpiled additional foreign-exchange reserves in anticipation of sanctions, the government seems capable of lasting well past next summer.
It is incumbent, then, on the Treasury Department (the most creative source of sanctions ideas within the executive branch), the State Department, the National Security Council and CIA to determine what steps need to be taken to accelerate the grip of sanctions on Iran, and to more rapidly deplete those reserves, if a red line—Israel's in June or America's in January 2014—is not going to be crossed, necessitating military action.
One immediate step the administration could take would be to finally blacklist Iran's central bank for supporting proliferation and terrorism, shutting the bank off completely from the international financial system. The administration could prohibit all nonhumanitarian commercial exports to Iran and use the threat of sanctions to encourage compliance by Iran's export partners; at a minimum, the administration should remove waivers that currently allow countries reducing their purchases of Iranian oil to increase their commercial sales to the Islamic Republic. And it could target Iranian government assets held by international financial institutions to cut off Iran's access to its foreign-exchange reserves.
Finally, the administration could ban foreign tankers carrying oil products to or from Iran from calling at U.S. ports, and designate all of Iran's energy industry as a zone of proliferation concern—including the Iranian tanker company NITC—which would allow sanctions to strike more Iranian and foreign companies that bring in hard currency.
It is astonishing that these steps have not already been taken. In their absence, Iran's economy has been allowed to remain healthy enough to leave a vanishingly short time for sanctions to do the work that would head off military action, whether sooner by Israel or later by the United States.
Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA case officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Dubowitz is FDD's executive director and heads its Iran sanctions project.
Stratfor: Islamic Rev. Guard, Part 1
Reply #569 on:
October 29, 2012, 07:48:49 AM »
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Part 1: An Unconventional Military
October 26, 2012 | 2026 GMT
Editor's Note: This is the first installment of a two-part special report on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Part 1 will lay out the corps' origins and explain how it has become Iran's most powerful institution. Part 2 will discuss the external pressures facing the IRGC, how that pressure is affecting the group, and what a weakened IRGC would mean for Iran.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, commonly referred to as the IRGC, is the most influential institution in the Iranian political system. To a large extent, Iran's ability to project power internationally and maintain domestic stability rests with this elite military institution. Of course, the IRGC functions somewhat like other conventional militaries; it is not completely immune to political infighting or institutional rivalry. While the disproportionate amount of power it wields will help the group overcome any factionalization to retain its pre-eminence, there are early signs of problems within its ranks.
Origin and Evolution
With several powerful and often competing institutions, the Iranian political system is extremely complex. But undoubtedly the most powerful institution in that system is the IRGC, which was created by the clerical elite after the 1979 revolution to protect the newly founded regime. During the 1980s, it fought against insurgencies (most notably against the Mujahideen-e-Khalq) and took a lead role in the Iran-Iraq War. These experiences helped the IRGC become the core of the Iranian national security and foreign policy establishment.
Currently, the IRGC comprises some 125,000 members and continues to derive its legitimacy from the clerical elite, led by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who maintains ultimate authority in Iranian politics. In fact, IRGC generals are appointed by Khamenei, the group's commander in chief, not the civilian government. While the clerics manage important state institutions, such as the Guardians Council, the judiciary, and the Assembly of Experts, they rely on the IRGC to maintain control of those institutions. This reliance likewise has contributed to the IRGC's power.
As a result, the IRGC has gained an edge over other institutions, such as the Artesh, or the conventional armed forces; various clerical institutions; the executive branch, led by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and the main civilian intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security. In recent decades the IRGC has further expanded to gain influence -- in some cases, control -- over domestic law enforcement, foreign intelligence operations, strategic military command and the national economy.
In fact, the group has developed a robust economic portfolio. Many IRGC commanders retire relatively early -- usually at 50 years old -- and join Iran's political and economic elite. Former IRGC commanders now dominate heavy industries, including the construction industry, and civilians operating in these industries are subordinate to IRGC elements.
The group also generates revenue through illicit channels. Its mandate for border security enables the group to run massive smuggling operations. In these operations, IRGC troops move luxury goods and illegal drugs (especially Afghan heroin), charge port fees and receive bribes. The proceeds from these activities augment the funds appropriated to the IRGC by the civilian government.
Like other conventional militaries, the IRGC is susceptible to internal rivalry over budgets, turf and connections. However, professional discipline has prevented it from succumbing to outright factional infighting. Moreover, Khamenei has taken steps to avoid factionalization, including the constant rotation of senior leadership of the IRGC's various branches (except in instances where a particular branch requires specialized institutional knowledge). However, the position of overall commander has been mostly static. In fact, only three individuals have held the post since the IRGC became the protector of the regime: Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaie (1981-1997); Maj. Gen Yahya Rahim Safavi (1997-2007); and Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari (2007-present).
An Inevitable Political Entity
As a political entity, the IRGC has become more than what its founders intended. The Iranian Constitution prohibits the IRGC from engaging in politics. More important, the group has avoided political activity so as not to be construed as seditious. But given its ubiquity in political, economic and security affairs, its evolution as a political entity probably was inevitable.
IRGC commanders and officers naturally have differing political leanings. Some IRGC members openly support or sympathize with various political causes and individuals. Others do so more discreetly. But to varying degrees, all politicians have followings in the officer corps, whose support is far from uniform.
In theory, the commanders and officers pay fealty to Khamenei and the wider clerical establishment. But in practice, the IRGC is not really beholden to any entity or faction. The IRGC regards itself as the rightful heir to the revolution and the savior of the republic. It considers itself uniquely capable and worthy of ruling the country. That belief may be well-founded. As the most well-organized and efficient institution in the state, the IRGC has long supplied experienced administrators to the civilian sector. Some notable example include:
■Former overall commander Rezaie is now the secretary of the Expediency Council.
■Former IRGC air force commander Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf is the current mayor of Tehran.
■Brig. Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar is the current interior minister, through whom the IRGC has gained greater leverage over internal security affairs.
■Gen. Ahmad Vahidi is the current defense minister. His position benefits the IRGC even though the corps and the Artesh are under the purview of the Joint Staff Command, led by IRGC Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi.
■Gen. Rostam Qasemi is the current oil minister. Formerly in charge of the IRGC's engineering and construction arm, Qasemi has seen to the IRGC's domination of the oil and natural gas sector.
Even though these former commanders and officers belong to the wider IRGC community, they form their own factions upon retirement. As an institution, the IRGC mostly has a unified stance on political issues. But individuals belonging to different institutions after retirement may dissent somewhat. The process resembles that of Israel; former members of Israel Defense Forces often emerge as key political leaders.
Consequently, any reference to the IRGC's stance on a particular issue represents the majority, not the entirety, of the group. And any reference to IRGC institutional interests represents the majority of commanders and officers with similar values. Differences of opinion certainly exist, but so far these differences have not manifested as fundamental divisions within the elite military institution. While its cohesion may be challenged in the future, the IRGC appears to be uniquely intact, at least for now.
Read more: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Part 1: An Unconventional Military | Stratfor
Cyber War with Iran
Reply #570 on:
November 13, 2012, 07:43:16 PM »
"As the United States and Iran inch closer to confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program, a little-asked question lurks in the background: are the two countries already at war?"
Re: Cyber War with Iran
Reply #571 on:
November 13, 2012, 07:52:01 PM »
Quote from: bigdog on November 13, 2012, 07:43:16 PM
"As the United States and Iran inch closer to confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program, a little-asked question lurks in the background: are the two countries already at war?"
Iran has been at war with us since1979.
Reply #572 on:
November 14, 2012, 12:59:38 AM »
I am getting the impression that the sanctions that the Congress (i.e. mostly Reps) has pressured Baraq into imposing on Iran are beginning to generate some genuine consequences.
WSJ: Iran is the unseen hand behind Hamas's clash with Israel
Reply #573 on:
November 16, 2012, 09:35:54 PM »
The Unseen Hand Behind Hamas's Clash With Israel
The terror group targets Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with long-range missiles shipped in from Iran. .
By SAUL SINGER
One of the more chilling yet routine phrases used to describe the fighting between Israel and Hamas in recent days is "the current round." As in: "We don't expect many more missiles to hit Tel Aviv during the current round." The term treats warfare like a hurricane—randomly arriving, taking its toll, then departing, but leaving behind the expectation that something similar will return another day.
Ostensibly, the latest fighting began with Israel's targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari, the commander of what is commonly referred to as Hamas's military wing, even though what Jabari commanded is neither military nor a wing. Normal militaries don't target civilians or hide behind their own people. And Jabari didn't command a "wing" of Hamas, as if there was any daylight between him and the rest of the terror group's leadership.
But a one-sided fight long predated the missile strike on Jabari: Hamas had been firing round after round of rockets on Israeli towns around Gaza for the better part of a decade. Israeli children have grown up with the sounds of sirens telling them they have 15 seconds to take cover until a missile hits. When the pace of the shelling increased in recent weeks, the Israelis finally stuck back.
My family lives in Jerusalem, about two hours' drive from the Gaza Strip, so we had never experienced the feeling of running from a missile hurtling our way. But this week my daughter and I spent a night in Beersheba, Israel's fourth-largest city, taking part in a charity bike ride for a Jerusalem hospital that rehabilitates children, some of whom have been severely injured in terrorist attacks.
Beersheba isn't known for being in range of missile attacks from Gaza, but as the 500 bike riders gathered for dinner on Wednesday, we saw the flashes of Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepting Hamas rockets in the sky. Later, at the hotel, we heard the city's "code red" sirens go off five times during the night. Given Beersheba's distance from Gaza, we had a relatively luxurious 60 seconds to move groggily to the stairwell, the hotel's designated safe area.
No one was hurt in Beersheba that night. Iron Dome, a system developed in Israel and financed partly with U.S. assistance, no doubt saved lives. But on Thursday a missile that got through the system killed three Israelis in an apartment in Kiryat Malachi, a town not far away.
In areas out of Hamas's striking distance, Israelis are generally focused on the human side of the conflict—for example, opening their homes to friends and family from the south who want a break from the missile threat. In the U.S. and among other of Israel's allies, the focus is also often on the human side of the story, with an emphasis on how to make the violence stop.
But that outlook addresses only the immediate problem and reflects the "this round" way of thinking. It doesn't consider the conflict's real sources.
Certainly Hamas needs to be reined in. The first step the international community should take is to stop supporting the Hamas government in Gaza. Hamas's macabre game is to mix its terrorists and rockets in with Palestinian civilians, wait for an Israeli missile aimed at a rocket launcher to kill some of those civilians, and then bask in global condemnation of Israel. But if most governments and the United Nations squarely tagged Hamas as the aggressor responsible for the civilian casualties on both sides and cut off financial support and other aid, Hamas would be deterred as successfully as any Israeli military action could manage.
Yet to focus on Gaza and Hamas alone still doesn't address the heart of the problem. Before his death Wednesday, Ahmed Jabari had worked to cultivate Hamas networks in places such as Iran, Sudan and Lebanon. When sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in recent days, it was because Hamas was launching Fajr-5 missiles with a range of some 50 miles, considerably more than the usual Hamas rocket. The Fajr-5 is made in Iran. Tehran is the main source of Hamas's training and of the 200 missiles a day that Hamas has been firing into Israel in recent days.
If Jabari was the hand on the trigger, the arm and the head are in Tehran. Jabari's death could severely handicap Hamas's capabilities in the way that Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terror group, still hasn't fully recovered from Israel's 2008 killing of its commander, Imad Mughniyeh. And Israel in the past week destroyed most of Hamas's long-range arsenal, blunting the sword that Iran built to dangle over Israel from the south. But as long as the Tehran regime stays in place, the menace to Israel—whether in the form of proxy terrorism or the threat of nuclear attack—will continue.
Even the debate over sanctions and military action against Iran's nuclear program largely misses the point. The solution is for Iran's regime to fall, and the key to that isn't sanctions or even military action. It is for Western governments to start saying to Iran's leaders what they told Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Syria's Bashar Assad: You must go.
There is a reason why Iran is desperately trying—with money, personnel and weapons—to keep Assad's brutal regime afloat in Syria. What the mullahs fear most is the Arab Spring spreading to Iran; stopping it in Syria might end the contagion. They know that their regime could implode if the Iranian people rise up, as they did in 2009, and this time around the U.S. and others say "You must go" rather than "Let's keep talking about your nuclear program."
Israel, under attack from Hamas, is dealing with just a small sample of what the region and the world will face if Iran's regime is allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. Military action against Iran's nuclear program may be necessary if all else fails, but the best way to prevent a nuclear Iran is to take the side of the Iranian people. Such a step wouldn't require the U.S. to enter another war, but it could well prevent one.
If President Obama hears the call from the Iranian people again, let's hope that with a second chance he gets it right. The collapse of the Iranian regime would open the greatest opportunities ever for ending not just the "current round" but the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole.
Mr. Singer is co-author, with Dan Senor, of "Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle" (Twelve, 2009).
Reply #574 on:
November 17, 2012, 04:48:55 AM »
Or, the jihadists see the ideal moment to destroy the "Zionist entity" and are probing the Iron Dome system for vulnerabilities. Any idea how Iran might deploy A NorK nuke on Tel Aviv?
Reply #575 on:
November 17, 2012, 06:04:38 AM »
Diagram suggests Iran may be working on bomb
Reply #576 on:
November 29, 2012, 06:36:44 AM »
Re: Diagram suggests Iran may be working on bomb
Reply #577 on:
November 29, 2012, 06:11:46 PM »
Quote from: bigdog on November 29, 2012, 06:36:44 AM
Stratfor: US watching Iranian nuke plants carefully
Reply #578 on:
December 03, 2012, 08:05:39 AM »
By JAY SOLOMON And JULIAN E. BARNES
WASHINGTON—The U.S. has significantly stepped up spying operations on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor over the past two months, American officials said, driven by heightened concerns about the security of weapons-grade plutonium after Tehran unexpectedly discharged fuel rods from the facility in October.
The increased U.S. surveillance of Bushehr, on Iran's southwestern coast, has been conducted in part with the Pentagon's fleet of drones operating over the Persian Gulf. The effort resulted in the interception of visual images and audio communications coming from the reactor complex, these officials said.
Tehran suggested an American drone was spying on Bushehr on Nov. 1 when it sent Iranian fighter jets to pursue the unmanned craft, firing at it but missing. The drone in question was conducting surveillance that day, but not on Bushehr, U.S. officials said.
U.S. officials stepped up surveillance after becoming alarmed over activities at Bushehr, especially the removal of fuel rods from the plant in October, just two months after it became fully operational, officials said. Nuclear experts said they are more concerned about safety at the reactor, for now, than about the prospect that Tehran will use the facility to develop atomic weapons.
Tehran formally protested the Pentagon's spying activities in a Nov. 19 letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to a copy seen by The Wall Street Journal. The complaint charged that the U.S. has repeatedly violated Iranian airspace with its drone flights. But U.S. officials maintain that surveillance is conducted off the country's shoreline, in line with international law.
The extent of the U.S. surveillance activity underscores the limits of U.S. knowledge about Iran and its military and scientific bureaucracy, and points to anxious efforts by Washington to increase its understanding as an international confrontation looms over Tehran's nuclear program.
Officials wouldn't detail the type of surveillance under way at Bushehr, but drones are known to be capable of intercepting cellphone calls, electronic communications and other signals.
Eavesdropping on Iranian communications could provide clues to what the country's nuclear engineers were doing when they began moving fuel rods out of the Bushehr plant in October.
The U.S. normally views the 1,000-megawatt Bushehr reactor as a lesser proliferation and security threat than Iran's growing number of uranium-enrichment facilities. Both the reactor and the enrichment plants produce fissile materials that can be used to develop nuclear weapons. But Russia's State Atomic Power Corp., or Rusatom, built and commissioned Bushehr under an agreement that all spent fuel would be returned to Russia and stored.
So the International Atomic Energy Agency was surprised on Oct. 15 when Iran notified the U.N. watchdog that it was discharging all of the nuclear fuel from Bushehr and storing it in a cooling pond at the site, according to Vienna-based diplomats briefed on the correspondence.
Independent nuclear experts estimate that this discharged fuel was made up of between 22 and 220 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium, enough to produce as many as 24 nuclear bombs, if reprocessed further.
Nuclear fuel in power reactors is discharged and replaced as part of normal operations, these experts said. But Tehran took the action roughly two months after Rusatom said the Bushehr facility became fully operational, rather than the usual time frame of 12 to 18 months.
Also, Iranian government officials have said in recent weeks that local engineers wanted to oversee the fuel discharge as part of plans for Rusatom to transfer operational control over Bushehr to Tehran in coming months.
The discharge was part of a "normal technical procedure" associated with Iranian engineers taking control of Bushehr, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, told reporters in Vienna in November.
The IAEA wrote about the fuel transfer at Bushehr in its November quarterly report on Iran's nuclear program, but it didn't state the reason for it.
The report said Tehran was shifting the spent fuel rods to the cooling pond from Oct. 22-29, dates that roughly corresponded to when Iran said U.S. aircraft were conducting heightened reconnaissance missions near Bushehr. The IAEA said its inspectors confirmed the rods were in the cooling pond during a visit to the site on Nov. 6-7.
U.S. officials said the mystery at Bushehr alarmed the Obama administration, which is normally focused on Iran's activities at its two main uranium-enrichment facilities in the cities of Natanz and Qom.
.Administration officials and independent nuclear experts said they doubted Iran was attempting to extract the weapons-grade plutonium from the fuel rods. The IAEA doesn't believe Iran currently has a reprocessing facility to separate plutonium from Bushehr's spent fuel.
The IAEA also has cameras and seals at the Bushehr facility to detect and guard against any diversion for military purposes, as well as regular visits by inspectors.
Still, the fuel transfer has raised concerns in Washington about Bushehr's operational safety. Experts said Iranian engineers could potentially try to extract plutonium from Bushehr in a crisis or military confrontation with the West, once they master technical procedures.
"The proliferation threat at Bushehr doesn't seem imminent. But it raises questions about what could happen if there's a conflict," said David Albright, who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think tank.
A spokesman for Rusatom in Moscow on Friday said the fuel discharge was a planned removal for safety testing. He denied a Reuters report that the shutdown was because of safety concerns after stray bolts were allegedly found under fuel cells at the plant.
Iranian state media reported last week that Iranian engineers have returned the fuel rods to the Bushehr reactor's core from the cooling pond.
In their complaint to the U.N., Iranian officials said American drones have repeatedly entered the country's airspace, prompting the Nov. 1 military action against the U.S. craft.
"Recent operations carried out by United States planes violating the airspace of the Islamic Republic of Iran include flights that took place over the coastal areas of Bushehr on 7, 13, 15, 20, 22, 23, and 26 October 2012, endangering the safety of air navigation," Iran's ambassador to the U.N., Mohammad Khazaee, wrote.
He said the U.S. "disregarded all radio warnings" before Iran shot an airborne cannon at the drone.
U.S. officials briefed on Pentagon reconnaissance denied any drone violated Iranian airspace. Washington has also increased monitoring of Iranian naval operations in the Gulf in recent months, following Tehran's threats to choke off oil traffic in the waterway in retaliation for widening Western sanctions, these officials said.
The concern over Bushehr comes as the U.S. and European Union this month seek to resume negotiations with Iran aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear work.
Last week, the Obama administration gave Iran a March deadline to seriously engage with the IAEA in addressing concerns Tehran has secretly been developing nuclear weapons or risk facing a new U.N. Security Council censure. The U.N. has initiated four rounds of economic sanctions on Iran in recent years, and U.S. officials said they could move to enact a fifth.
"Iran cannot be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations…Iran must act now, in substance,'' Washington's No. 2 diplomat at the IAEA, Robert Wood, told the agency's board.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the international community must be prepared to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities by next summer to guard against Tehran acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability. That is when Iran is expected to have amassed enough medium-enriched uranium to quickly convert it into weapons-grade fuel.
Iran denies its pursuing nuclear weapons. But Mr. Soltanieh, Tehran's ambassador to the IAEA, said on Friday that his country would consider pulling out of the U.N. treaty banning the development of atomic bombs if the West attacked.
WSJ: Iran & Plutonium
Reply #579 on:
December 06, 2012, 07:56:04 AM »
From Bushehr to the Bomb
Add plutonium to Iran's nuclear weapons risks. .
Last Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of the world's first controlled nuclear reaction, which took place under the bleachers of the old Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. Also last Sunday, the Journal reported that the U.S. had stepped up its spying on Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr after Iran had unexpectedly removed fuel rods containing between 22 and 220 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium.
The distance between civilian nuclear power and an atomic weapon, as the early nuclear pioneers understood, can be short. Now the Obama Administration is being forced to learn that lesson all over again.
For years, U.S. officials have insisted that the Russian-built reactor at Bushehr posed a negligible proliferation risk. Instead, they concentrated nearly all their attention on Iran's efforts to enrich uranium. At the same time, the U.S. bought Iran's argument that the country was within its legal rights to operate "peaceful" facilities such as Bushehr, never mind the question of why an oil-rich state would spend billions on a reactor it didn't need.
Far be it for us to suggest the world should be less alarmed by the strides Iran has made in enriching uranium—close to eight tons to reactor-grade level of 5%, along with 238 kilos to a near-bomb grade level of 20%, according to a report last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency. With some additional enrichment, those quantities suffice for probably six bombs.
But uranium is not the only route to a bomb. There's also plutonium, and Iran has long been at work on a plutonium-breeding heavy-water reactor in the city of Arak. The Iranians say the reactor is solely for research, yet IAEA inspectors have not been given access to the plant since August 2011.
Then there's Bushehr. Under the terms of Iran's agreement with Russia's State Atomic Power Corporation, or Rusatom, Iran is supposed to return all of the reactor's spent fuel rods to Russia for storage. Now it transpires that Iran removed the fuel rods in October, a mere two months after the reactor became fully operational. Iran claims the fuel rods have since been returned to the reactor core, though we are not aware of any independent corroboration of that claim.
The official reason for the transfer of the fuel was a safety test, and Rusatom has denied a report that the move was prompted by the discovery of loose bolts that could have caused a major accident. But as the Journal suggested in its story, the transfer could also have been a test run for the Iranians should they decide to reprocess those rods into weapons-grade plutonium. As many as 24 Nagasaki-type bombs could be produced with 220 pounds of plutonium.
So much, then, for the notion that the Bushehr reactor is "proliferation resistant," an idea that largely boils down to the fact that IAEA inspectors are routinely at the site. Yet legally the IAEA is only permitted to inspect Bushehr once every 90 days, and Iran has forbidden the agency from installing video cameras with near-real time surveillance capacity.
That means Iran could contrive an excuse to move the fuel rods without the agency knowing about it in time. And while Western intelligence agencies do not believe Iran has a reprocessing capability, experts tell us that the rapid extraction of weapons-usable plutonium from spent fuel rods is a straightforward process that can be performed in a fairly small (and easily secreted) space.
All of which goes to show that, contrary to Joe Biden's cavalier assurances during his debate with Paul Ryan that the U.S. would have adequate foreknowledge of any Iranian plans to build a bomb, U.S. intelligence on Iran's nuclear capabilities remains fragmentary at best. At the same time, Iran is increasing the number of routes it can take to race toward a bomb.
These columns have been warning of the proliferation risk posed by Bushehr since May 2002. As always with Iran's nuclear ambitions, the worst suspicions come true
WSJ: Sanctions pressure increasing , , , too late?
Reply #580 on:
January 04, 2013, 05:22:35 PM »
Iranian workers protested in August in front of a Tehran government building because they hadn't been paid.
.A manager of Bam Shargh Isogam, an Iranian manufacturer of insulation sheets for rooftops, saw trouble ahead when a government official offered advice for surviving the crippling international sanctions: Reduce quality and cut back production.
The manufacturer in Delijan, three hours south of Tehran, replaced the high-quality material imported from Europe with domestic material, dismissed more than half its 350 employees, and didn't pay the remaining workers for four months, managers said.
"From the owner to the line worker, no one is safe," said Bijan, a manager, who asked that his last name not be used. "Our country is facing an economic disaster." Company officials didn't return calls asking for comment.
Western sanctions against Iran, combined with years of economic mismanagement by the country's government, have hammered Iran's currency and its economy. The economy was predicted to contract by nearly 1% in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund, after registering annual growth above 6% for much of the past decade. The IMF said Iran's economy could grow again in 2013, but stressed that the collapse of the currency, inflation and reduced oil sales were working against a rebound.
Washington has sanctioned Iranian institutions going back to the months following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But it was 2010 legislation that markedly changed the financial war against the regime, according to U.S. and European officials.
Previously, U.S. sanctions only targeted American companies doing business with blacklisted Iranian entities. The 2010 law required the White House and U.S. Treasury to sanction any company, American or foreign, conducting proscribed Iranian trade, placing at risk their access to the U.S. financial system. The West intensified the sanctions campaign because of the belief that Iran is secretly developing atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Congress passed new sanctions this week, signed by President Barack Obama, that lawmakers said move closer to a nearly complete trade embargo on Iran. The law seeks to block Tehran's ability to barter its oil for gold and precious metals, and significantly widens the number of Iranian energy, shipping and financial entities on the U.S. blacklist, and bars foreign firms from doing business with them.
"The sanctions so far have inflicted far greater damage on Iran's economy than anyone expected, but the economic pressure is still moving too slowly given the pace of Iran's nuclear development," said Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative Washington think tank that advised Congress on implementing the latest sanctions.
White House officials on Thursday declined to comment on how they are specifically going to implement the new sanctions, but said that the Obama administration has dramatically increased financial pressure on Tehran over the past four years.
The squeeze on Iran has been tightening for months. In July, the European Union placed a ban on purchases of Iranian oil. This deprived Tehran of one of its main energy markets. In September, Iran's currency dropped nearly 30% in one week. In response, Iran stopped subsidizing currency rates for travelers and students; it also halted subsidies for merchants importing anything but essential food and medical items.
Iran analysts are skeptical that the sanctions will bankrupt Iran's government in the short-term. Tehran was believed to have more than $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves at the beginning of last year, thanks to windfall oil revenues in recent years. Until September, it had used these reserves successfully to support the Iranian currency, the rial. These analysts believe the sharp decline in Iran's energy exports has cut into reserves, but probably not enough to drain Tehran of its hard currency.
The situation already is a crisis for many Iranians. For middle-class families even buying books and magazines has become a luxury. Poor families now go months without eating meat or poultry, which have seen some of the biggest price hikes.
"We've slowly scratched off milk, yogurt cheese and butter from our table. Prices are going up almost daily, and we can't afford them," said Ameneh, 45-year-old mother of two young children in Tehran, who asked her last name not be used.
Sanctions are reverberating beyond Iran's borders. Iranian business investments in Dubai have decreased as many merchants close shop. The Turkish tourism ministry said that visitors from Iran dropped 35% in the first nine months of the year.
Iranian officials, usually defiant in the face of Western pressure, now openly acknowledge that sanctions are taking a toll. Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam, head of the parliament's planning and budget committee, said recently that Iran's oil sales have fallen to little more than a million barrels per day, compared with the 2.5 million barrels per day last year. Mr. Moghadam said the government faced a $60 billion deficit in 2012.
Iran's nuclear program remains a top foreign policy issue for President Obama in his second term, according to senior U.S. officials. Washington's strategy includes the threat of even more economic sanctions in hopes of pressuring Iran into a compromise. But administration officials also are banking on the Iranian government's own failures to create pressure on the regime. They say that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's heavy spending and price hikes have led to surging inflation in the country.
"We are seeing tremendous impact on the economy, not just because of sanctions, but because of horrific mismanagement," said a senior U.S. official.
U.S. officials hope nuclear negotiations, which have been stalled for months, will resume soon. The Iranian regime is divided. Some pragmatic officials hope to end the standoff with the West to help revive the economy. But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds the final decision, and some key supporters close to him have said the Islamic Republic must stand firm and compromise only if an agreement can be reached with the West that ensures the regime's stability.
One result of the economic blockade around Iran: Its modern economy is increasingly dependent on old-fashioned barter. In exchange for oil, Iran receives not dollars as before, but wheat and tea from India, rice from Uruguay, meat and fruit from Pakistan and everything from zippers to bricks from China.
"It's definitely one way of circumventing sanctions, but in the long while the economy will deteriorate," said Dariush Zahedi, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, who has researched the impact of sanctions on Iranian society.
Tehran's bazaar merchants, a major force in the economy, staged a strike in September. Protests erupted, ending only after security and intelligence forces pressured merchant unions by threatening to arrest leaders and revoke members' licenses.
Factory workers and families of students who have lost their access to special subsidized dollar exchange rates for tuition have staged sit-ins outside the parliament to protest the Central Bank's new currency policies. In October, unions of truckers that transport fuel and gasoline in the city of Isfahan went on a two-day strike, cutting off fuel delivery to one of Iran's largest cities. Their costs of living and of maintaining their trucks have skyrocketed while their salaries remain the same.
Bam Shargh Isogam, the insulation manufacturer, is among 160 factories located in the industrial city of Delijan. The city, home to 50,000 Iranians, was once a model of economic growth. Located on a remote plain formerly devoid of industry, Delijan saw the construction of hundreds of factories ranging from construction material to paint and industrial textile during the past decade.
There were jobs for most of the city's residents and then some. Housing and construction boomed. A university outpost opened, offering courses and advanced vocational training workshops for workers and ambitious youth. Dozens of service businesses, such as catering and cargo transportation, flourished alongside the factories. Local industry even exported goods to neighboring countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
Signs of serious problems for industrial areas such as Delijan started emerging in 2011.
At first, they had nothing to do with sanctions. The regime implemented an ambitious scheme to cut energy subsidies, which cost the government billions each year. The plan was lauded by international monetary officials. But economists inside and outside Iran say the implementation was botched, especially when it came to industry and businesses.
Prices for gasoline, electricity and water spiked. The government had promised that it would reallocate 30% of the money it saved on subsidies—about $100 billion a year—to private sector industries to compensate for these rising costs. Those allocations never arrived.
Meanwhile, the government gave billions of dollars to consumers to compensate them for the higher prices. And the Central Bank kept the currency rate artificially low. Tens of billions of dollars in foreign exchange were frittered away importing cheap consumer goods.
When sanctions hit in 2012, factory owners in Delijan couldn't take the additional blow. Simple maintenance routines, such as purchasing new parts for aging machinery, became an unaffordable, time-consuming ordeal.
Many smaller factories have shut down. Dozens of the bigger ones are battling to avoid bankruptcy, according to interviews with owners, managers and workers. The economic downturn is spreading to other sectors in the city as businesses downsize to meet shrinking demand.
The owner of Nader Ghazapazi, a local restaurant that serves factory workers, said orders have decreased to 320 meals each day from 1,250 five months ago. A representative of a local trucking company said it now has 15 trucks driving cargo to Tehran daily, compared with 40 before. All of the company's export business has stopped.
Across Iran, industries are facing similar problems. At the Alborz industrial complex near the city of Qazvin, many factories are searching for cost-saving measures. Some are closing an extra day each week, cutting paid holidays and reducing the number of free meals and snacks provided to workers.
The five major factories that produce the bulk of Iran's dairy products wrote a joint letter to Mr. Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, in October complaining that if the economy doesn't turn around they would be out of business in months.
Iran's car industry, the region's largest with manufacturing plants from Africa to Ukraine, posted 60% to 80% production declines last year, leading to hundreds of thousands losing their jobs, according to Iranian media reports. Many manufacturers of automobile spare parts are working at 40% capacity because of a shortage of cash and a lack of raw materials, according to a statement by one of the industry's union leaders.
The financial crunch has also imperiled one of Iran's biggest exports: its students. Some 90,000 Iranian college students abroad are in limbo after the government cut the subsidized exchange rate it allowed for students' tuition abroad. Many say they are abandoning their studies and returning to Iran because their expenses have quadrupled in the face of the rial devaluation. Yet they have few prospects back home.
"It's demoralizing. I've invested two years to get a graduate degree, and I can't afford to graduate now," said Ali, a student in Asia in his last semester of M.B.A. studies.
The effectiveness of the sanction campaign has surprised some of Washington's biggest skeptics. Just two years ago, Tehran's finances were bolstered by high international energy prices and a flourishing trade with Europe and East Asia. U.S. and European officials said a big reason for the success in recent months of the sanctions campaign has been the sharp increase over the past year in oil production by Iraq, Libya and the U.S., as well as Saudi Arabia's willingness to make up for any shortages in oil supply on international markets.
Iranian officials could respond with wartime measures such as rationing gasoline and basic goods and heavily controlling exports and imports. Iran's ministry of trade recently issued an import ban on a list of 75 luxury goods, ranging from cars to chocolate, plus a ban on exports of basic food items such as wheat.
The Central Bank also issued a new mandate to generate foreign currency cash flow, demanding that all exporters return revenues from sales abroad to Iran. "The merchants and business people are caught between the clerics fight with the West, said one prominent merchant with offices in Iran and Dubai. "We won't be able to survive."
Write to Farnaz Fassihi at
and Jay Solomon at
WSJ: Voice of American in Iran
Reply #581 on:
January 07, 2013, 05:03:30 PM »
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By SOHRAB AHMARI
Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian nuclear negotiator, said in a television interview aired recently in the Islamic Republic that the country "is in full compliance" with the International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear-safeguards agreement, and that there is "no evidence" the regime is diverting nuclear material for military purposes.
Both statements were deceptive at best: Iran isn't in compliance with all provisions of its current safeguards agreement, and the lack of evidence for diversion doesn't dispel the IAEA's concerns about nuclear-weapons research and development. Yet neither assertion was challenged by the on-air host.
Islamic Republic officials are accustomed to going unchallenged by Iranian journalists, who prefer to stay out of the regime's dungeons. But the interview with Mr. Mousavian appeared on "Ofogh" (Horizon), a television show produced by the Persian-language service of Voice of America, the U.S. government broadcaster founded in 1942 to provide "accurate, balanced, and comprehensive news" to "people living in closed and war-torn societies." VOA's Persian News Network, based in Washington, is funded by Congress and receives around $23 million in taxpayer money annually.
The "Ofogh" segment touched off a fierce reaction among Iranian viewers, who took to the show's Facebook page to vent their anger. "Like Iran's current leaders he is a master of sophistry," wrote one about Mr. Mousavian. Other viewers directed their complaints at VOA. "Voice of America = The Islamic Republic," wrote another.
According to current and former employees at the network, the viewers' complaints are unlikely to register with executives. One high-level production staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is currently employed at the network, said the Mousavian interview fit a pattern of VOA's Persian-language division allowing itself to be bullied by regime mouthpieces. "Mousavian dictated the terms of the arrangement," the staffer said. "He would not agree to debate somebody else."
Critics also charge that VOA's Persian coverage is often distorted by an editorial line favoring rapprochement with the mullahs. There is "a clear slant in favor of Iran in terms of its involvement in terrorism," the current production staffer wrote in response to queries for this article. The network, he said, often refuses to air criticism of Iranian terror unless it is "balanced with the perspective of the Islamic Republic who vehemently [deny] any involvement." And because "no one in the Islamic Republic gives us interviews anyway," VOA Persian abandons otherwise informative segments about terrorism.
A former employee and on-screen personality summed up the network's nonconfrontational attitude by saying that VOA sees itself as providing "a bridge between Washington and Tehran."
VOA denies these claims. Spokesman Kyle King said in a written statement that the network "airs material about the Islamic Republic when it is newsworthy. Decisions are not contingent on Iranian officials being available for comment, and they are usually not."
Rob Sobhani, a former Georgetown University lecturer in U.S. foreign policy, says that VOA is uneasy with criticism of the Islamic Republic. Until a few years ago, Mr. Sobhani, a staunch critic of the regime, appeared weekly as a commentator on the Persian-language network. Iranians used to approach him in airports outside the Islamic Republic, he says, to thank him for "saying things we can never say in Iran."
But Mr. Sobhani found himself appearing far less frequently after 2009. "I was told I was too negative toward the regime," he said. Mr. King, the VOA spokesman, said Mr. Sobhani "has appeared on several VOA programs since 2009." He added that the network doesn't coach guests "to be negative or positive," nor does it "cherry-pick guests to promote a particular point of view."
VOA hasn't been without its bright spots. Most notably, it aired "Parazit" (Static), a satirical news show that used irreverent, American-style humor to skewer the regime's misrule. "Parazit" proved enormously popular with audiences. The show's Facebook page, where new episodes were posted weekly after airing on the network, garnered over a million fans. Yet VOA pulled "Parazit" off the air early last year, leaving fans in the dark.
According to the production staffer critical of the network, VOA isn't particularly concerned about the popularity of its programming: "What it boils down to is that they don't attach a lot of significance to viewers' feedback. If a show is popular and has a big following in Iran and you lose that following by dropping the show, so be it. The money comes from Congress anyway."
Mr. Ahmari is an assistant books editor at the Journal.
Newsmax: Evacuation due to radiation?
Reply #582 on:
January 08, 2013, 07:19:50 PM »
This from Newsmax, a less than reliable source in my opinion-- lets watch for other reports , , ,
3. Iran Evacuates City Amid Talk of Radioactive Leak
Iranian officials have ordered residents of its third largest city to evacuate, raising new concerns about a potential leakage of radioactive material from a nuclear facility.
An edict issued on Wednesday told residents in Isfahan, a provincial capital of 1.5 million people 340 miles south of Tehran, to leave the city “because pollution has now reached emergency levels,” the BBC reported.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq and former editor of the Middle East Quarterly, said: “Pollution in Isfahan is a problem but in the past, Iranian authorities [responded] by closing schools and the government to keep people at home and let the pollution dissipate. Mass evacuations suggest a far more serious problem.”
Rubin added that a “radiation leak” is a possibility, the Washington Free Beacon reported, noting that the evacuation order may corroborate previous reports of radioactive leakage.
The Uranium Conversion Facility in Isfahan converts yellowcake into uranium oxide, uranium metal, and uranium hexafluoride. The plant sits on an active fault line, and Isfahan has been heavily damaged six times by earthquakes, according to the Free Beacon.
A report in November claimed a radioactive leak might have poisoned several workers at the plant. The head of Iran’s Medical Emergency Agency told reporters at the time that staffers at the facility “have observed some symptoms and are receiving treatment.”
In December, Tehran denied reports of a radioactive leak, and accused the West of fabricating the story, the Jerusalem Post reported. According to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency, Deputy Governor-General of Isfahan Province for Political and Security Affairs Mohammad Mehdi Esmayeeli said “some Western media are just seeking to create tumult in the society through such moves.”
But Rubin added that given the threat of earthquakes in Iran, “a devastating nuclear accident is only a matter of time.”
Iran insists its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, but the Islamic Republic is widely thought to be seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran loves Hagel
Reply #583 on:
January 30, 2013, 10:26:52 AM »
John Bolton does it
Reply #584 on:
February 01, 2013, 10:06:20 PM »
To my knowledge Mr. Bolton is the first prominent person to say the ONLY way to stop Iran from going nuclear is to use military force.
Sanctions will NOT work.
I think he was on Greta's show around two days ago.
Thank God - someone finally said it! What we have been saying it on this board for years.
Contrast this to the Hill[billy] - the military option has always (a lie) been "on the table".
Iran blows off US offer for direct talks
Reply #585 on:
February 08, 2013, 09:08:35 AM »
Stratfor: Sanctions starting to unravel
Reply #586 on:
February 08, 2013, 12:39:42 PM »
Too bad we don't have a ton of natural gas to export to those who want Iranian energy , , ,
The Political and Legal Challenges Undermining Iran Sanctions
February 7, 2013 | 1145 GMT
The U.S.-led global sanctions campaign against Iran is starting to unravel. The European Union's Court of Justice has removed two major Iranian banks from the sanctions list, and more de-listings are on the way. Though the U.S. Congress will try to compensate for the de-listings by passing additional sanctions, the perception of a slackening sanctions regime will make it very difficult for Washington to sustain the campaign politically on a global scale. This turn of events will have significant implications for negotiations between the United States and Iran in 2013.
Bank Saderat, one of Iran's largest banks with a significant international presence, was the latest entity to be removed from the EU sanctions list Feb. 6. Bank Mellat, Iran's largest private bank, was relieved of sanctions Jan. 30. A number of other entities accused of involvement in Iran's nuclear procurement efforts have been removed from EU sanctions. These include, among others, Sina Bank, Fulmen Group -- who allegedly did the electrical work for a nuclear facility near Qom -- Kala Naft, the procurement arm for the National Iranian Oil Company, and a National Iranian Oil Company subsidiary, Oil Turbo Compressor Company.
The list is likely to grow longer, with at least 50 outstanding legal cases pending in the EU Court of Justice. Among the pending cases is Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank, which has been under sanctions since 2011 and was a significant financial conduit for Iran to import industrial goods and technology from Germany.
An Important Legal Challenge
A legal technicality is behind this series of European de-listings. In 2010, the European Union sanctioned wealthy Saudi businessman Yassin Abdullah Qadi on allegations that he was an al Qaeda financier. Qadi challenged the European Court of Justice, saying the evidence against him was classified and therefore not accessible in the European court. Qadi's challenge was successful, and Iranian legal teams have since used it as legal precedence to fight the sanctions cases that have accumulated in the European Union in the past two years.
The United States, whose legal system has the flexibility to examine both unclassified and classified evidence, has maintained sanctions against firms with alleged links to Iran's nuclear program. But the European Court of Justice, which has to cull information from individual state intelligence agencies to build a case, has ruled that there is insufficient evidence to tie certain firms to the nuclear program. The European Union must pay millions of dollars in damages to these Iranian firms, which now have access to European financial and trading networks.
Sanctions campaigns, particularly on the scale of the one against Iran, typically run into substantial political difficulties. Iran's major trading partners, including Turkey, China, India and Japan, have consistently pushed against Washington and Brussels. These nations would rather protect their bilateral relationships with Iran and maintain a stable energy supply than follow a Western mandate. They view U.S. and EU threats to cut off access to Western financial markets as bullying tactics and argue that the sanctions do not apply to them unless the measures are approved by the U.N. Security Council (where China and Russia could play a blocking role).
Tehran's trading partners have reduced trade with Iran to the point that even Iranian officials have admitted their oil revenues have fallen by 40 percent due to sanctions. Still, many of those same partners have continued to work through creative mechanisms such as front companies and bartering arrangements to maintain trade. These moves come with risks, and there is a worldwide network of traders, insurers and shippers that closely monitor the pulse of the sanctions regime. If the United States is preparing for another round of sanctions and is looking for offenders, many governments and firms will openly demonstrate their cooperation with the sanctions to avoid ending up on a list and getting fined. But if the sanctions regime appears to be slackening, there is a great deal of money to be made in the smuggling networks built around any sanctioned market. Perception thus matters a great deal in the politics of sanctions, and the unraveling of the EU arm of this campaign will undermine the U.S.-led economic sanctions against Iran.
Iran regains valuable maneuvering space with each of these de-listings. Iranian businessmen and officials were already leading an intensive effort to circumvent sanctions, but now significant legal channels are opening that help Iranian firms resume business. This comes as the United States has re-extended an offer to Iran for direct negotiations. Iran could use this opening to seriously pursue these talks, or it could buy time and stall the negotiations, especially as the country prepares for elections in June.
The United States also has a decision to make. It wants to enter these negotiations from an unquestionable position of strength. With Iran on the defensive in Syria and trying to hold its position in Iraq, under heavy sanctions and facing a significant military presence in the Persian Gulf, the United States already carries far more leverage than Iran in pursuing these talks. The regional dynamics will continue to weaken Iran, but the new easing of sanctions pressure on Tehran may undermine the U.S. negotiating position.
Moreover, the U.S. Navy has reduced its carrier presence in the Persian Gulf to one, and U.S. defense officials, caught up in the ongoing political wrangling over the budget in Washington, are arguing that the Navy will not be able to deploy an additional carrier to the Persian Gulf as planned. Iran will be watching U.S. carrier movements closely, and Washington's decision over whether to send an additional carrier could influence Iran's willingness to negotiate. A number of factors could draw Tehran and Washington to the negotiating table, but there are just as many variables that could once again throw off the timing of these talks..
Read more: The Political and Legal Challenges Undermining Iran Sanctions | Stratfor
Reply #587 on:
February 08, 2013, 01:15:40 PM »
"Too bad we don't have a ton of natural gas to export to those who want Iranian energy , , ,"
As quoted in 'energy', our fascist Sen. committee chair is contemplating whether American suppliers should be able to export at all.
Follow the Kerry Doctrine. Figure out what is right and makes sense and do the opposite - every time.
Stratfor US-Iranian Dialogue in BO's second term
Reply #588 on:
February 08, 2013, 01:43:07 PM »
U.S.-Iranian Dialogue in Obama's Second Term
February 5, 2013 | 1000 GMT
By Reva Bhalla
Vice President of Global Affairs
As U.S. President Barack Obama's second-term foreign policy team begins to take shape, Iran remains unfinished business for the U.S. administration. The diplomatic malaise surrounding this issue over the past decade has taken its toll on Washington and Tehran. Even as the United States and Iran are putting out feelers for another round of negotiations, expectations for any breakthrough understandably remain low. Still, there has been enough movement over the past week to warrant a closer look at this long-standing diplomatic impasse.
At the Munich Security Conference held Feb. 1-3, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the United States would be willing to hold direct talks with Iran under the right conditions. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi responded positively to the offer but warned that Iran would not commit unless Washington shows a "fair and real" intention to resolve the issues dividing the two sides.
An Uneven Record in U.S.-Iranian Diplomacy
This diplomatic courting ritual between the United States and Iran has occurred a handful of times over the past several years. Like previous times, the public offer of talks was preceded by denials of secret pre-negotiations. (This time, Ali Akbar Velayati, a presidential hopeful and senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denied that he met with a U.S. representative in Oman.) Meanwhile, as a sideshow to the more critical U.S.-Iranian bilateral track, Iran has announced it will hold negotiations with the P-5+1 group Feb. 25 in Kazakhstan to demonstrate its willingness to seek a compromise on the nuclear issue as part of a broader deal. For good measure, Iran has balanced these diplomatic moves with an announcement that it is upgrading uranium centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility. Though this will rile Israel, the thought of Iran accelerating its nuclear program could add just the right amount of urgency to propel the talks.
The first step to any negotiation is defining a common interest. For the United States and Iran, those interests have evolved over the past decade. In 2003, they shared an interest in bringing Saddam Hussein down and neutralizing a Sunni jihadist threat. By 2007, it was a mutual interest in relieving the U.S. military burden in Iraq. In 2011, it was a common interest in avoiding a war in the Strait of Hormuz. In 2013, as the region fragments beyond either side's control, Washington and Tehran are each looking to prevent the coming quagmire from undermining their respective positions in the Middle East.
But talks have also stalled many times due to issues of timing, misreading of intentions, lack of political cohesion or a number of other valid reasons. At base, timing is everything. Both sides need to create a favorable political climate at home to pursue controversial negotiations abroad. Complicating matters, both sides have the mutually contradictory goal of negotiating from a position of strength. In 2007, Iran could still claim to hold thousands of U.S. troops hostage to attacks by its Shiite militant proxies in Iraq. In 2011, a Shiite uprising in Bahrain threatened to upset the balance of power in the Persian Gulf in Iran's favor while Iran could at the same time shake energy markets with military maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran, however, couldn't hold that position for long. With time, Tehran's still-limited covert capabilities in the eastern Arabian Peninsula were exposed. Meanwhile, the United States built up its military presence in the Persian Gulf. With minesweepers now concentrated in the area, Iran now must think twice before carrying out provocations in the strait that could accidentally trigger a military intervention.
Before Tehran could recover, the regional climate flipped against Iran. In 2012, the Sunni rebellion in Syria gained steam, in no small part due to a growing regional imperative to deprive Iran of its Mediterranean foothold in the Levant. As Iran's position in Syria and Lebanon began to slip, the Sunni momentum predictably spilled into Iraq, where massive Sunni protests against the Shiite government in Baghdad already are under way.
Now, Iran no longer poses a strategic threat to U.S. interests in the way it did just a few years ago, and the prospect of Iran solidifying an arc of influence from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean has evaporated. Iran is on the defensive, trying to help its allies survive in Syria and Lebanon while at the same time being forced to devote more resources to holding its position in Iraq. And while Iran's overseas expenses are rising, its budget is simultaneously shrinking under the weight of sanctions. U.S.- and European-led sanctions over the past two years have gradually moved from a policy of targeted sanctions against individuals and firms to a near-total trade embargo that has prompted some Iranian officials to openly admit that Iran's oil revenues have dropped more than 40 percent.
At this point, the United States has two options. It could allow the regional forces to run their course and whittle down Iran's strength over time. Or it could exploit the current conditions and try negotiating with Iran from a position of strength while it still has the military capacity to pose a legitimate threat to Iran. Iran may be weakening, but it still has levers with which to pressure the United States. Preparations are already under way for Alawite forces in Syria to transition to an insurgency with Iran's backing. In Afghanistan, Iran has militant options to snarl an already fragile U.S. exit strategy. So far, the United States has shown a great deal of restraint in Syria; it does not want to find itself being drawn into another conflict zone in the Islamic world where Iran can play a potent spoiler role.
It appears that the United States is pursuing the strategy of giving negotiations another go with the expectation that these talks will extend beyond the immediate nuclear issue. Iran has frequently complained that it cannot trust the United States if Washington cannot speak with one voice. For example, while the U.S. administration has pursued talks in the past, Congress has tightened economic sanctions and has tried to insert clauses to prevent any rollback of sanctions. The economic pressure produced by the sanctions has helped the United States fortify its negotiating position, but the administration has tried to reserve options by keeping a list of sanctions it could repeal layer by layer should the talks yield progress.
Seeking Flexibility in Sanctions
Washington could look to Europe for more flexibility for its negotiating needs. In a recent story overlooked by the mainstream media, the General Court of the European Union on Jan. 29 revoked sanctions against Bank Mellat, one of the largest commercial banks in Iran that is primarily involved in financing Iran's vital energy sector. Bank Mellat was sanctioned in 2010 based on allegations that it was a state-owned bank involved in Iran's nuclear proliferation activities. But the EU court has now ruled that there was insufficient evidence to link the bank to the nuclear program. Even so, though Iran claims that the bank has been fully privatized since 2010, it is difficult to believe that it does not maintain vital links with the regime. Nonetheless, rumors are circulating that more EU sanctions de-listings could be in store.
Given the impossibility of sealing every legal loophole, perception plays a vital role in upholding any sanctions regime. Over the past two years, the United States -- in coordination with an even more aggressive European Union -- has signaled to traders, banks and insurers across the globe that the costs of doing business with Iran are not worth jeopardizing their ability to operate in Western markets. Enough businessmen were spooked into curbing, or at least scaling back, their interaction with Iran and known Iranian front companies that Iran has experienced a significant cut in revenue. But with large amounts of money to be made in a market under sanctions, it can be very difficult politically to maintain this level of economic pressure over an extended period of time. And the more the sanctions begin to resemble a trade embargo, the more ammunition Iran has for its propaganda arm in claiming sanctions are harming Iranian civilians. The prospect of additional sanctions being repealed in court in the coming months could deflate the West's economic campaign against Iran and give more businesses the confidence to break the sanctions -- but if the sanctions were intended to force negotiations in the first place, that may be a risk the U.S. administration is willing to take.
There is no clear link between the recent U.S. offer of talks and the sanctions de-listing of Bank Mellat. But if the United States were serious about using its position of relative strength to pursue a deal with Iran, we would expect to see some slight easing up on the sanctions pressure. This would likely begin in Europe, where there would be more flexibility in the sanctions legislation than there would be in the U.S. Congress. Germany, Iran's largest trading partner in Europe, has perhaps not coincidentally been the strongest proponent for this latest attempt at direct U.S.-Iranian talks. It is also notable that U.S. President Barack Obama's picks for his second-term Cabinet include senators Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, both of who have openly advocated dialogue with Iran.
Iran is now the most critical player to watch. Iran is weakening in the region and is becoming heavily constrained at home, but even so, the clerical regime is not desperate to reach a deal with Washington. Reaching an understanding with the United States could mitigate the decline of Alawite forces in Syria and the Sunni backlash that Iran is likely to face in Iraq, but it would not necessarily forestall them. And with general elections in Iran slated for June, the political climate in the country will not be conducive to the give-and-take needed to move the negotiations forward, at least in the near term.
The United States would prefer to reduce the number of unknowns in an increasingly volatile region by reaching an understanding with Iran. The irony is that with or without that understanding, Iran's position in the region will continue to weaken. Even if Washington doesn't need this negotiation as badly as Iran does, now is as good a time as any for a second-term president to give this dialogue another try.
Read more: U.S.-Iranian Dialogue in Obama's Second Term | Stratfor
Iran the war within and without
Reply #589 on:
February 08, 2013, 02:04:25 PM »
And yet another perspective:
WSJ: M. Oren: Iran as Murder Inc.
Reply #590 on:
February 12, 2013, 10:35:45 AM »
Iran's Global Business Is Murder Inc.
Bombings in capital cities, kidnappings, trade in drugs and guns—Iranian exports, all. Now Tehran wants nukes..
By MICHAEL OREN
A bomb explodes in Burgas, Bulgaria, leaving five Israeli tourists and a local driver dead. Mysteriously marked ammunition kills countless Africans in civil wars. Conspirators plot to blow up a crowded cafe and an embassy in Washington, D.C. A popular prime minister is assassinated, and a despised dictator stays in power by massacring his people by the tens of thousands.
Apart from their ruthlessness, these events might appear unrelated. And yet the dots are inextricably linked. The connection is Iran.
In 25 cities across five continents, community centers, consulates, army barracks and houses of worship have been targeted for destruction. Thousands have been killed. The perpetrators are agents of Hezbollah and the Quds Force, sometimes operating separately and occasionally in unison. All take their orders from Tehran.
Hezbollah's relationship with Tehran is "a partnership arrangement with Iran as the senior partner," says America's director of national intelligence, James Clapper. The Lebanon-based terror group provides the foot soldiers necessary for realizing Iran's vision of a global Islamic empire. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah says his organization was founded to forge "a greater Islamic republic governed by the Master of Time [the Mahdi] and his rightful deputy, the jurisprudent Imam of Iran."
With funding, training and weapons from Iran, Hezbollah terrorists have killed European peacekeepers, foreign diplomats and thousands of Lebanese, among them Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. They have hijacked American, French and Kuwaiti airliners and kidnapped and executed officials from several countries. They are collaborating in Bashar Assad's slaughter of opposition forces in Syria today.
A deadly suicide attack in Burgas leaving five Israeli tourists and a local driver dead in last July.
Second only to al Qaeda, Hezbollah has murdered more Americans—at least 266—than any other terrorist group. The United States designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 1997, though the European Union has yet to do so.
Above all, Hezbollah strives to kill Jews. It has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and tried to assassinate Israeli diplomats in at least six countries. Its early 1990s bombing of a Jewish community center and the Israeli Embassy in Argentina killed 115.
The attack in Burgas occurred last July, and this month the Bulgarian government completed a thorough inquiry into who was behind it: Hezbollah. "The finding is clear and unequivocal," said John Kerry in one of his first pronouncements as U.S. secretary of state. "We strongly urge other governments around the world—and particularly our partners in Europe—to take immediate action and to crack down on Hezbollah."
Then there is the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which takes orders directly from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei. The U.S. has repeatedly accused the Quds Force of helping insurgents kill American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of supplying weapons to terrorists in Yemen, Sudan and Syria. In 2007, Quds Force operatives tried to blow up two Israeli jetliners in Kenya and kill Israel's ambassador in Nairobi.
Hezbollah and the Quds Force also traffic in drugs, ammunition and even cigarettes. Such illicit activities might seem disparate but they, too, are connected to terror and to Tehran.
In 2011, the New York Times reported that Hezbollah was working with South American drug lords to smuggle narcotics into Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The terror group laundered its hundreds of millions of dollars in profits through used-car dealerships in America.
Also in 2011, the FBI exposed a plot in which senior Quds Force operatives conspired with members of Mexico's Los Zetas drug cartel to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington by bombing the restaurant where he dined. The Israeli Embassy in Washington was also targeted. The middleman between the terrorists and the drug dealers was an Iranian-American used-car salesman.
And still the dots proliferate. U.S. authorities have implicated Hezbollah in the sale of contraband cigarettes in North Carolina, and Iran has manufactured and sold millions of rounds of ammunition to warring armies in Africa. So while skirting Western sanctions, Iran funds terror world-wide.
But Iran's rulers are counting on the West's inability to see the larger pattern. Certainly the European Union would take a crucial step forward by designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization, but terror is only one pixel.
Tehran is enriching uranium and rushing to achieve military nuclear capabilities. If it succeeds, the ayatollahs' vision of an Islamic empire could crystallize.
Iran and its proxies have already dotted the world with murderous acts. They need only nuclear weapons to complete the horrific picture.
Mr. Oren is Israel's ambassador to the United States.
Iran Is Still Botching the Bomb
Reply #591 on:
February 21, 2013, 08:01:23 PM »
Reply #592 on:
February 21, 2013, 09:58:01 PM »
Certainly the piece raises questions worth asking but I also found it quite irksome. What is the point in waiting until the last minute? What were Israel/the US to do? ASSUME bumbling? ASSUME Stuxnet? What degree of confidence could they have in their projections and what are the consequences of getting it wrong? And, perhaps even more to the point, the consequence of letting time go by is that now the Iranians are dug in so deep and spread around so thoroughly that one wonders WTF can be done to stop them.
Stratfor: An inflection point in the Iranian nuke talks
Reply #593 on:
February 28, 2013, 05:35:15 PM »
An Inflection Point in the Iranian Nuclear Talks
February 28, 2013 | 0323 GMT
A reported U.S. offer to roll back sanctions against Iran suggests a shift in the talks surrounding Tehran's nuclear program. For almost 10 years, the negotiations surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue have failed to make any headway. But the latest round of talks points to a faint possibility of a break in the nearly decadelong trend of periodic, dead-end talks. For the first time since the Iranian nuclear controversy began in 2002, the United States and its Western allies reportedly have publicly offered to lift some trade sanctions (though not the ones targeting Iran's oil and financial sectors) in exchange for Iran suspending enrichment and providing transparency into its nuclear program.
The Iranians have expressed an unusual level of optimism after the talks in Almaty over the past 48 hours. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi reportedly said he was "very confident" that an agreement could be reached. Moreover, Tehran's National Security chief Saeed Jalili described the meeting in the Kazakhstan capital as a "turning point," adding that the latest offer from the West was more realistic than previous offers and was closer to the Iranian views in some cases. On the other side, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly described the Almaty talks as "useful," saying that a serious engagement by Iran could lead to a comprehensive deal.
The last time there was an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue was in December 2003, during Mohammed Khatami's presidency, when Tehran signed the Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, granting International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors expanded inspections of the country's nuclear program and temporary suspension of uranium enrichment, which at the time was 5 percent. After current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to his first term two years later, the Islamic republic ended the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol in response to the West's shift from asking for temporary suspension of uranium enrichment to requesting Iran abandon it all together.
A lot has changed since then, but years of talks have led nowhere. In addition to removing some trade sanctions, the latest offer would allow Iran to keep some of the enriched uranium to fuel a medical research reactor in Tehran. Furthermore, the new offer reportedly no longer seeks a full shutdown of the underground Fordow nuclear facility (a key demand until recently); rather it is asking for a temporary cessation of its operations.
Iran, however, is insisting on international recognition of its sovereign right as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to continue enriching uranium at 20 percent, which the other side is unwilling to accept. The key question here is why the West has now offered these concessions.
First, the latest round of sanctions that undermined Iran's crude export capabilities have ultimately allowed the United States to move into a position of relative strength in negotiations. Washington realizes that sustaining these sanctions over the long term will be problematic and that it needs to try to reach a settlement while it has the upper hand. Second, the United States wants to limit Iran's uranium enrichment levels, which Tehran has increased from 5 to 20 percent. Third, Iran could undermine U.S. interests in the Middle East and South Asia, and Washington is hoping that diplomacy could yield an understanding, as was the case when the two sides collaborated in U.S. moves to affect regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Given the complexity of issues that must be dealt with, there is a high probability that the latest initiative could also fall apart. At the very least, it is extremely difficult to arrive at an arrangement that would accept Iran's harnessing of nuclear technology and at the same time prevent Tehran from putting this technology toward military use. That being the case, there has been a major development in terms of U.S. willingness to roll back some sanctions (something the Iranians have long been demanding and the West has until now been refusing), which cannot simply be dismissed as business as usual.
Reply #594 on:
March 01, 2013, 10:26:28 AM »
When I read alleged learned "experts" on foreign affairs discuss these talks or the "peace" talks between Israel and the Savagstinians, I want to scream at these idiots.
You can't negotiate with people who aren't acting in good faith! It's like crisis negotiations with sociopathic personalities. Unless they believe you'll pull the trigger on them, they'll play games with you as long as possible when it suits their interest. Iran has done nothing but buy time to work towards completing their program, which most likely involves making parts of the great and little satan into radioactive glass.
And still we have credentialed people drone endlessly about these negotiations.....
US Minsweeping capabilities
Reply #595 on:
May 06, 2013, 03:18:15 PM »
A New Round of Minesweeping Drills in the Persian Gulf
May 2, 2013 | 1400 GMT
A U.S. Navy minesweeping helicopter in the Persian Gulf
Tensions will likely rise between Washington and Tehran in the coming months as Iran prepares to elect a new president in June. Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have stalled once again, and Tehran has been escalating its provocative rhetoric concerning its uranium enrichment capabilities. To contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, the United States must demonstrate its military capabilities in the Persian Gulf.
This is why, from May 6 to May 30, the United States will hold a second round of multinational naval exercises in the waters off the Iranian coast in less than a year. Though the United States has little interest in engaging Iran militarily, the Pentagon wants to prove its ability to degrade Iran's most potent deterrent against attack -- its ability to mine and close the Strait of Hormuz -- after the 2012 training operations proved inconclusive.
Iran's ability to threaten shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz is indeed a powerful military deterrent. Some 40 percent of seaborne oil and 20 percent of liquefied natural gas pass through the strait, which is just 39 kilometers (24 miles) wide at its narrowest point. Iran's ability to disrupt traffic would raise the cost of intervention for the United States and its allies. Even a very short closure or mining of the strait by Iran would rock global oil markets.
A New Round of Minesweeping Drills in the Persian Gulf
This threat has constrained the United States and forced it to attempt to deal with the Iranian nuclear program through political and economic means, but the Pentagon has still been preparing military backup plans. An integral part of U.S. strategy toward Iran is signaling the United States' willingness to strengthen its allies and act militarily if the need arises. The second round of minesweeping exercises, which come shortly after U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced several weapons deals with allies in the Middle East, are as much about encouraging restraint from Iran as about prudent military contingency planning.
Inconclusive 2012 Exercises
Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated at the beginning of 2012 following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, when Iran staged naval exercises in the strait. In response, the United States ramped up its military preparations for possible closure by deploying several mine-hunting assets to the region, including four additional Avenger-class ships, minesweeping helicopters and the USS Ponce, a retrofitted amphibious transport dock that serves as a mother ship for the region. Another round of talks with Tehran that failed to produce a solution led the United States to reinforce sanctions against the country.
A hastily planned, U.S.-led joint naval exercise in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula called the International Mine Countermeasure Exercise 2012 soon followed. Lasting from Sept. 17 to Sept. 27, the training operation involved 33 nations and some 3,000 personnel and was the largest of its kind ever to occur in the region. The exercise was separated into two parts: The first focused on exchanging ideas and familiarizing personnel with new anti-mine technologies at a symposium in Bahrain. The second focused on mine-clearing training and collaboration through several joint maneuvers in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
For the United States and its allies, the exercises served as a warning to Iran that Washington will not take threats to close the strait lightly, that the Pentagon is adjusting its force posture to be able to mitigate Iran's key deterrent and that the United States can quickly garner international support for military action in the Strait of Hormuz. From a military angle, however, the success of the exercises was questionable. The U.S. Navy said it had accomplished its operational training goals, but it was reported that fewer than half of the 29 simulated mines were found. In an area as sensitive as the Strait of Hormuz, this success rate would fail to soothe international markets or allow shipping traffic to resume at a regular pace.
Goals of the 2013 Exercises
The upcoming joint training operations will take place only eight months after the previous round -- an unusually short interregnum for large international military exercises -- but the need for the drills is strong. Clearing the strait of mines while under threat from anti-ship missiles hidden onshore, mini submarines and swarms of small boats would be complicated. Trying to accomplish such a task with a large international coalition would be even more difficult. With more than 30 countries again participating in the drills, considerable practice and collaboration is necessary.
The drills can also be diplomatically useful in a politically sensitive time for Iran. With traditional diplomatic solutions doing little to curb Iran's nuclear program and upcoming presidential elections in June, the United States and its allies can employ "gunboat diplomacy" in the Persian Gulf.
Adding urgency to the exercises is the fact that many of the U.S. anti-mine assets are aging. This is, in part, because niche capabilities like mine hunting have been largely ignored since the end of the Cold War. The war on terror called for a different form of naval support, so the U.S. Navy spent much of the past decade prioritizing assets and funding for that purpose. The United States is trying to compensate for this problem by developing new assets such as the littoral combat ships equipped for minesweeping, but these are still a few years from deployment.
In the meantime, the United States is relying on stopgap purchases of off-the-shelf minesweeping assets such as SeaFox devices, which arrived in theater after the 2012 drills. But even these assets will take time to incorporate into existing operational systems. Personnel have to be trained for each system, each must be tested in an operational environment and procedures must be formulated to ensure an appropriate fit into the overall mission. Elaborate, relatively realistic drills help accomplish such tasks and provide feedback about how the new systems will affect the mission itself, allowing planners to tweak future assessments. Further, these drills signal to Tehran that the United States is ready to counter any Iranian threats around the Strait of Hormuz.
Read more: A New Round of Minesweeping Drills in the Persian Gulf | Stratfor
Stratfor: A strong Iran is good for America
Reply #596 on:
May 16, 2013, 09:42:02 PM »
May 16, 2013
A Strong Iran Is Good for America -- Seriously
By Robert Kaplan
Don't defeat Iran. Shi'ism is not America's enemy. It is not in the long-term interest of the United States to side with the Sunni Arab states against Iran or vice versa. Doing so produces an imbalance of power in the region as we learned with the collapse of the Iraqi state in the aftermath of the American invasion of 2003. Iran was then able to establish a contiguous sphere of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean -- something that was only averted by the Arab Spring reaching Syria.
The two-year-old Syrian crisis has now come to a point where Iran is on the defensive, as its positions in Lebanon and Iraq come under threat. But Washington's talks with Moscow in an effort to reach a negotiated settlement on the Syria crisis may indicate that the United States is not interested in allowing the pendulum to swing in the other direction this time around.
Remember that the United States had a bad, decadeslong experience with Sunni domination of the Middle East. It was Sunni dominance, in which the Shias were not sufficiently feared, that helped lead to a phalanx of Arab dictators -- in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere -- who had little incentive to quell anti-Americanism in their midst. Such Leaders as Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and King Fahd in Saudi Arabia fostered a rotten and calcified political climate that was relatively empty of reform, while quietly tolerant of extremism, which resulted in the leader of the 9/11 terrorist cell being Egyptian and 15 of his 18 cohorts being Saudis. But at least the likes of Fahd and Mubarak ran strong states that cooperated with Western intelligence agencies: Perhaps not so the Sunni Islamists who might yet gain even more influence and power in Egypt and Syria. The last thing the West should want is a situation in Syria in which radical Sunni Islamist forces are able to project power in the region, especially across the country's eastern border into Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's quasi-democratic regime may be short on stability and long on thuggery, and it may be unduly interfered with by the Iranians, but at least it forms the basis of a state that might over time evolve in a better direction -- and therefore influence Iranian Shi'ism for the better, with Karbala and Najaf affecting debates in Qom. Allowing Iraq to fall will not just create a wider geopolitical space for jihadists to operate, it will also be a total reversal to the American efforts to establish democracy in Iraq. Furthermore, from the American point of view, the Shia-dominated Iraqi regime serves as a major counterbalance to Salafists gaining ground in the Sunni Arab world.
The Salafist threat is even greater when considering that Saudi Arabia, a country led by aging, Brezhnevite rulers, with a diminishing underground water table, a demographic male youth bulge and 40 percent youth unemployment, is weakening. The Sudairi Seven -- the seven sons of Ibn Saud's favorite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad al-Sudairi -- who lent coherence to the Saudi power structure, have all but disappeared. Nineteen grandsons and 16 surviving sons of Abdulaziz now compete on the Allegiance Council. And outside the Council there are many more grandsons. This is too large a group not to engage in complex factionalism, which could weaken the regime that has thus far remained resilient and make it difficult to deal with pressing problems. No one should underestimate the inherent artificiality of the Saudi state, built around the parched and deeply conservative upland of Najd, which has always struggled to subdue the more cosmopolitan maritime peripheries like Hijaz. The last thing Washington should want is to build a new Middle East around Saudi Arabia, which itself has entered a period of great uncertainty and is resolved to weakening Iranian influence in the northern rim of the Middle East at all costs -- even if it means empowering jihadists.
By contrast, while the Iranian empire -- as well as this particular Iranian regime -- may be facing severe crises, the Iranian state is more coherent than that of Saudi Arabia. Whereas Saudi Arabia is not synonymous with the Arabian Peninsula, Iran is more-or-less synonymous with the Iranian plateau, which straddles the Middle East and Central Asia as well as the two energy-producing regions of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Rather than an artificial contrivance of a single family, Shiite Iran -- with its relative geographic logic -- is heir to Iranian states going back to antiquity, when Persia was the world's first superpower. Iran encapsulates a rich and eclectic civilization. Even under the present regime, in Iran there is a semblance of a democratic foundation, while in Saudi Arabia there is an utter lack of any sense of democracy. Always remember that the clerical hold over the Islamic republic is not eternal, even as the West is culturally much closer to Iran than to Saudi Arabia. The West should therefore be prepared in coming years for regionwide upheavals in which its alliances are rearranged.
Iran, with its nearly 76 million people, is the second-most populous country in the Middle East after Egypt, while its level of education and bureaucratic institutionalization is higher. The U.S. estrangement from Iran has already lasted over a third of a century -- a decade longer than the U.S. estrangement from "Red" China. This cannot go on forever. Washington cannot allow Iran to undermine American regional interests. But the United States should, nevertheless, attempt to create conditions favorable for a robust American-Iranian dialogue that will balance its warm relations with Saudi Arabia. The clerical regime may fall or more likely transform itself over time as a consequence.
We realize how extremely difficult this will be: Marg bar Amrika ("Death to America") is the bumper sticker of the Iranian revolution. It will be the last thing the clerical regime gives up. But whereas artificial states like Iraq, Syria and Libya are perennially threatened with implosion and Saudi Arabia's future evolution is uncertain, Iran will hopefully go on under evolving and strong central leadership.
We say "hopefully" because the Western-imposed sanctions regime could threaten to leave power in Tehran in the hands of revolutionary forces better positioned to control patronage networks within a shrinking economy. And a decentralization of power -- just at the time Iran reaches the nuclear threshold -- is potentially a greater danger than a centrally controlled, nuclear Iran. That is generally the fear of Iran specialist Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival (2006) and The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (2013).
Weakening central authority -- not the continuation of autocracy -- remains the greatest danger to the region. Keep in mind that stability in the Middle East has never been a matter of democracy. To date, Israel has only signed peace treaties with Arab autocrats, men who ran strong states and who could purge members of their own power structures who disagreed with them. It is not democracy that the United States should primarily want, but a regional balance of power that will reduce the risk of war.
Now that Iran is being weakened by the slow-motion collapse of Bashar al Assad's Alawite regime, a chaotic Syria will likely become -- even more so -- the fulcrum of a power struggle between Iran and the Sunni Arab world for years to come, preventing either side from being able to dominate the region.
Cold wars are tolerable precisely because they are cold. And a new cold war in the Middle East, assuming sectarian violence can be kept down at a reasonable level, will be something that policymakers in Washington may see as being in the American interest. A region balanced at least has the possibility to be a region at relative peace, with a Shiite bastion composed of Tehran and Baghdad facing off against a belt of Sunni revivalism stretching from Egypt to Anbar in western Iraq. It is for this reason that Barack Obama's administration should not be in favor of a zero-sum result in Syria.
Robert D. Kaplan is Chief Geopolitical Analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, and author of the bestselling book The Revenge of Geography. Kamran Bokhari is VP of Middle Eastern & South Asian Affairs at Stratfor. Reprinted with permission.
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at May 16, 2013 - 01:44:28 PM CDT
Reply #597 on:
May 16, 2013, 09:49:07 PM »
I think Kaplan must be doing Hunter S. Thompson levels of drugs to come up with that last article.
Reply #598 on:
May 17, 2013, 10:18:07 AM »
A similar thought occurs to me. I confess I am rather stunned that Stratfor let it go out , , ,
Interview w. M. Vahedi
Reply #599 on:
June 01, 2013, 08:36:58 AM »
Mojtaba Vahedi: Iran's Revolution From the Inside Out
Mojtaba Vahedi, an exiled former insider with the moderate mullahs, talks about the struggle for reform, his own exile, and why Tehran won't change without another popular uprising.
By SOHRAB AHMARI
'Iran is a country with a government that was elected." So declared Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to France in February. His statement echoed an earlier one by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who during his Senate confirmation hearings in January pronounced the Iranian government "elected" and "legitimate."
In the coming days, count on Western media to reinforce that view of Iranian democracy with coverage of the run-up to the June 14 presidential election. The horse-race aspect of the reporting is already in the air. There was breathless news on May 21 about the disqualification of dozens of presidential hopefuls, including the reformist standard-bearer, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. This week, attention turned to the improving fortunes of one candidate, Saeed Jalili, a hard-liner with a pronounced hostility to the West. Could a reformer still win? With President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepping down after two four-year terms, would a Jalili victory mean even more trouble for America and its allies than his predecessor?
Mojtaba Vahedi is here to say: None of it matters.
"What is happening now is not an election but a form of theater and the candidates should really be called actors," he says from his home in exile in Northern Virginia. "The regime couldn't care less who the people prefer."
Exiled critics of the Iranian regime aren't hard to find in the West, but Mr. Vahedi, who is 49, brings a unique perspective to his condemnation of the country's rulers: He was at the heart of the reform movement that began to gain traction in Iran a decade ago. And he was a trusted adviser and strategist for the moderate cleric Mehdi Karroubi, who co-led the popular opposition movement that in 2009 represented perhaps the best hope Iran has ever had of steering away from tyranny and extremism.
Witnessing what happened to Mr. Karroubi and to the reform movement in the 2000s prompted Mr. Vahedi to flee the country in 2009. Once safely clear of Iran, he became one of the Islamic Republic's most vocal critics, no longer a believer in democratic change from inside the regime. The mullah-dominated government, he now believes, must be overthrown.
We sit for an interview in Mr. Vahedi's study in suburban Washington, where Dan Brown thrillers and self-help books vie for shelf space with hefty volumes of Islamic philosophy and jurisprudence. He serves scalding tea, pastries and roasted almonds. Yet these hallmarks of Persian hospitality don't diminish the strangeness of our encounter: Here is a former official of a regime that in my Tehran childhood I thought omnipotent—now enjoying a modest and relatively anonymous slice of the American dream.
Mr. Vahedi observes events in Iran from a frustratingly long distance, but he often appears on Persian-language media, such as the Voice of America's Persian service, denouncing Iran's clerical regime. He also derides his former allies in the Iranian establishment reform movement. The reformists, he says, cling to the notion that the past decade's massive increase in repression was the work of President Ahmadinejad.
They delude themselves, Mr. Vahedi says, because the problem is far deeper than one man. "Anyone who thinks Ahmadinejad was behind the electoral rigging of recent years, or the brutality and the killing, is a fool." Dictatorship in Iran is "structural," Mr. Vahedi says. "The structure makes everyone obey one man, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the leader isn't accountable to anyone."
So why does Mr. Khamenei, the paramount leader, even bother with the charade of popular elections? "Khamanei is looking for a fall guy who at the same time has no real power—someone with no serious responsibility but who's nevertheless accountable for every failure."
Chief among the country's ills are the mounting international isolation and economic hardship that have been caused by the regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Yet those in Western capitals who dream of rapprochement with a post-Ahmadinejad Islamic Republic should think twice, Mr. Vahedi warns. No matter who is designated the winner of the June 14 vote, the new president will have little to say about nuclear policy. But if the office is claimed by Mr. Jalili, the combative Iranian nuclear negotiator would be a most agreeable deputy for the Supreme Leader. "Jalili has zero independent will," Mr. Vahedi says. "Whatever policy change he ushers in the nuclear arena would solely reflect Khamenei's wishes."
And the nuclear program is certain to continue apace: "Khamenei won't permit a solution to the nuclear issue. Having invested eight years of repression to prevent any sort of change, what has Khamenei to lose? Do you think now he's suddenly going to say, 'OK, I'm going to improve my reputation and change my ways?' "
If Mr. Khamenei's speech last month before an audience of Iranian women was any indication, the answer is no. "The European race is an uncivilized race," the leader told the black-veiled figures seated beneath him. "They may have a nice, polished exterior but at heart, the Europeans are still savages."
Mr. Vahedi's journey from loyalist to antiregime polemicist isn't uncommon among members of the generation that brought the mullahs to power. Like many another lapsed Islamist, he has the dejected appearance of a man who looks on his life's project and sees a catastrophe staring back.
Mojtaba Vahedi was born in 1964 to a pious household in the holy city of Qom but grew up mostly in Tehran. As a teenager he along with his family joined the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the shah. Then in 1982, a middle-aged cleric and rising parliamentarian, impressed by his ambition and zeal, recruited the 18-year-old Mr. Vahedi to join his staff.
That cleric was Mehdi Karroubi, a kindly looking and charismatic figure who would go on to serve as Iran's parliamentary speaker during a brief period of reform in the early 2000s and who would emerge as the more outspoken of the two main opposition candidates in the stolen 2009 presidential election. From the time he graduated from high school until less that a year ago, Mr. Vahedi served on-and-off as Mr. Karroubi's aide, spokesman and chief of staff while editing a Karroubi-aligned reformist newspaper.
Mr. Karroubi, he recalls, was one of the first Iranian politicians to openly confront the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—the engine of the regime's repressive apparatus—over its attempts to wrest control of the civilian economy. To be sure, the cleric was nothing if not a loyalist during the mullahs' first decade in power. In 1988 he went out of his way to defend the summary execution of some 3,000 leftists.
But by the time Mr. Karroubi took the reins in parliament in 2000, he had moved to the reformist fold. "He received five families of political prisoners every day," Mr. Vahedi says. "You couldn't call him a liberal but he had a reasonable mind-set." Mr. Karroubi attacked arbitrary sentences handed down by the judiciary; he also sharply criticized the powerful unelected legislators of the Guardian Council, even threatening to veto its budget.
In 2005, Mr. Karroubi contested the presidency on a reformist platform. When Mr. Ahmadinejad was declared the winner, Mr. Karroubi accused the revolutionary guards, the basij paramilitia and, most dangerously, Mr. Khamenei's son and heir-apparent, Mojtaba, of vote-rigging in at least three provinces, where the total number of votes cast outstripped the number of residents. The supreme leader denounced Mr. Karroubi, who responded by writing an open letter of protest addressed directly to Mr. Khamenei.
"I wrote that letter," Mr. Vahedi says with obvious pride. "It was extremely risky. We went into a basement away from prying ears, argued over the substance of the letter, and then I drafted it. I sent the office janitor, an illiterate, to have it printed. I knew Iranian newspapers couldn't carry it, so I hand-delivered it to the BBC."
When Mr. Karroubi launched a second presidential campaign in 2009, Mr. Vahedi once again joined his team. But two days before the polls opened, Mr. Vahedi flew to Dubai. He left Iran, he says, because he foresaw the vote-rigging that returned Mr. Ahmadinejad to power as well as the vicious crackdown that would soon answer the country's postelection uprising.
Sensing danger in Dubai, he next flew to London two weeks later, in late June 2009. As the violence in Iran's streets intensified, Mr. Vahedi kept editing and writing for his newspaper from abroad. "But then they realized I wasn't coming back," he recalls, "and one night Ahmadinejad's press minister took to state TV and claimed, 'There's a newspaper editor who's lived in England for seven months, and we know that he receives instructions every day from the Mossad and the CIA.' There were three nights of consecutive programming showing my face and denouncing me as a spy."
With that virtual death sentence, Mr. Vahedi escaped to the U.S. in February 2010. It was here that Mr. Vahedi finally broke with the reformists. "I saw the reformists getting ready for the 2013 elections," he says. "We'd seen the cheating in the last election, and nothing had changed—there's no change in the regime's behavior. . . . Reforms mean nothing if one man can hand them down from above and the same man can take them away."
It was a message meant for Mr. Vahedi's longtime mentor, too: "Then I said goodbye to my teacher, Karroubi. I had to part ways so I could say what I ultimately came to understand: that Iran's salvation depends on the total destruction of this regime." It's that last conclusion that the establishment reformists still can't abide, even as their candidates—including Mr. Karroubi—remain under house arrest and their supporters are beaten, jailed and executed.
As long as religion casts a shadow in politics, the people won't be free," say Mr. Vahedi, who counts himself a religious man. "Religion put to political use is a most corrosive thing. We don't have a religious government in Iran—it's a government that abuses religion. . . . Whenever they need it, they take advantage of the people's pious feelings and attachments."
What are the chances of another popular explosion of anger and resistance toward the regime after the June 14 election like that seen in 2009? Unlikely, says Mr. Vahedi. He isn't given to optimism about a country where "there's been a total breakdown in the Iranian concept of trust—beginning with the families, in small towns, in the big cities. The people lie to each other. The regime lies to them. They lie to the regime."
How long can this state of affairs last? Mr. Vahedi sighs and yet sounds optimistic despite himself: "No regime can survive on repression alone."
Mr. Ahmari is an assistant books editor at the Journal.
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