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RFE/RL Iran Report

Vol. 9, No. 33, 4 September 2006

Prepared by the Regional

Specialists of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline Team



United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit Iran

during his current Middle East tour to promote peace. Iran is currently

involved in several issues of considerable international significance,

including the war in Lebanon and Iranian weapons reaching Hizballah.

The other outstanding international issue that involves Iran at the

moment is its nuclear program, which is likely to be the focus of

Annan's talks in Tehran.


Tehran made it abundantly clear before the UN Security Council's

August 31 deadline that it had no intention of complying with the

demand for a nuclear suspension. Supreme National Security

Council Secretary Ali Larijani responded last week to an

international proposal meant to resolve the current crisis with a

counterproposal that included a willingness to have further talks but

a refusal to suspend enrichment-related activities.


If Iranian officials' remarks were not clear enough, President

Mahmud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a heavy-water production

facility in Arak on August 26. The International Atomic Energy

Agency (IAEA) governing board had urged Iran to reconsider

building a heavy-water reactor in early February, and a later

report from the IAEA called on Iran to halt plans to build a

heavy-water reactor. The facility engenders concern because it

is easier to extract bomb-grade plutonium from fuel rods used

in a heavy-water reactor than from a light-water reactor.


IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei delivered

his confidential report on August 31 on the Iranian nuclear

program to members of the nuclear watchdog's governing

board, the IAEA website reported. The report notes that

Iran has provided the IAEA with access to nuclear materials

and facilities but denied access to its Pilot Fuel Enrichment

Plant at Natanz, according to leaked copies obtained by Reuters

and dpa.


El-Baradei reportedly says Iran has been insufficiently

transparent or cooperative on some subjects -- for example,

inspectors were allowed to take notes on a document about

uranium metal but Iranian officials then confiscated the notes.

The report adds that Iran will begin operating another

164-centrifuge cascade for enriching uranium in September.

Cameras are in place to monitor the cascade, but Tehran

reportedly has not granted permission for their operation.


"Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities; nor

has Iran acted in accordance with the provisions of the

Additional Protocol," the report adds.


Tehran's Position


Amid concerns that Iran's nuclear program has military

applications, UN Security Council Resolution 1696 demands

that Iran cease the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium.

Iranian officials have consistently denied that their nuclear

program has military applications. Larijani said during an

August 29 briefing in Tehran that Iran is willing to provide

guarantees that its nuclear program is purely civilian in nature.

He claimed that these guarantees will demonstrate that no

aspect of the program is being diverted for military use.

Larijani also complained that some countries simply do

not want Iran to have access to nuclear power.


Iranian Atomic Energy Organization official Mohammad

Saidi said when the Arak facility was inaugurated that

heavy-water reactors are used for electricity production

and for agricultural, medical,

and other forms of research.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said during an August 30

meeting in Tehran with Felipe Gonzales, the former prime

minister of Spain, that some Western countries are

discriminating against Iran's possession of a nuclear

program, state television reported.


Ahmadinejad went on to dismiss the possible imposition

of sanctions, saying, "Sanctions cannot dissuade the

Iranian nation from its decision to pursue the heights of

honor and progress; therefore, it is better for the European

countries to be independent in their decisions and to

settle issues through negotiations." Tehran reacted similarly

after U.S. Ambassador to the UN John

Bolton mentioned the possibility of unilaterally imposed

sanctions on August 26. Iranian government spokesman

Gholam Hussein Elham countered that "(these) remarks

show that such officials are not competent to be members

of the UN and the Security Council," IRNA reported.


The Atomic Energy Organization's Saidi suggested

on August 31 that the latest IAEA report on Iran shows

that the country is cooperating fully, IRNA reported. He

also said Resolution 1696's demand that the country cease

aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle contravene the Nuclear

Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). "There is no justification

in terms of international law and NPT regulations to

stop the fuel cycle when all Iranian nuclear sites are

under supervision of the IAEA," Saidi said.


Disagreements Persist


Under such circumstances, it would seem that there is


room left for diplomacy or for Secretary-General

Annan's calming influence. But there is disunity in the

UN, as Security Council members disagree on how

to proceed. Moscow and Beijing are likely to oppose

the imposition of sanctions against Iran, in part because

they fear the damage to their financial and economic

interests. Geopolitically, too, they see themselves as

Washington's competitors for global influence.


U.S. officials have suggested the White House wants

economic sanctions to be imposed following the expiration

of the Security Council deadline. They have also suggested

that they might be willing to act unilaterally -- in the form of

sanctions -- other if other countries are unwilling to act.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton reminded reporters

on August 30 of the approaching deadline for Iran to

suspend its nuclear activities, RFE/RL reported.

"We've said repeatedly that we expect that no later than

August 31, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1696,

that the Iranians will suspend all uranium enrichment-related

activity," he said. Bolton added that the five permanent

members of the Security Council, plus Germany, will seek

the imposition of sanctions if Tehran does not meet the deadline.


Bolton told reporters in New York on August 31 that Iran's

behavior as described on the public record shows that the

country seeks nuclear weapons, RFE/RL reported. "There is

simply no explanation for the range of Iranian behavior, which

we've seen over the years, other than that they are pursuing a

weapons capability," Bolton said. As for the meaning of the

IAEA report, Bolton said, "The report makes clear that not

only has Iran not suspended uranium enrichment activities

as required by Resolution 1696, it is accelerating them."


Speaking on August 31 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars

in Salt Lake City, Utah, President George W. Bush also

addressed the nuclear issue, reported.

"It is time for Iran to make a choice," Bush said. "There must

be consequences for Iran's defiance, and we must not allow

Iran to develop a nuclear weapon."


But a well-connected "Washington Times" reporter and

analyst, Bill Getz, has claimed there is disunity within the U.S.

government, too. He wrote that the State Department, White

House, and Pentagon disagree on how much leeway to give Iran.


Gertz wrote that there is pressure on Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice from within her State Department -- the report

names Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas

Burns -- to concur with a British, French, and German plan to send

EU foreign-policy representative Javier Solana to make another

pitch to Iranian officials. "The Washington Times" report also says

officials within Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office

and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney oppose further

concessions to Iran.


If this is the case, UN Secretary-General Annan may try

to persuade Tehran to go along with Solana's pitch before it is

too late. (Bill Samii)



TO DEBATE - President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on August 29

challenged U.S. President George Bush to debate him, state television reported. "I propose holding a live, televised

debate with Mr. Bush, the U.S. president, so that we talk

about world's issues and ways to solve the world's problems," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran. "We will announce our views and they would do the same, but under the condition that it will notbe censored, especially for the American people."


This appears to be Ahmadinejad's second attempt to

communicate directly with the American people; the first was

his mid-August interview with CBS television's "60 Minutes."


Ahmadinejad tried to communicate directly with Bush in May,

when he sent him a lengthy letter that addressed issues ranging

from theology to Iraq and Israel.


In the more recent case, however, Ahmadinejad made it clear

that he is not calling for bilateral talks. "We will negotiate with those who scowl upon our nation every day under different

conditions," he said according to state television. "If the

conditions are met, then why not (hold talks with the U.S.)?"


Ahmadinejad said at the August 29 press conference that

Israel is the cause of violence in the region, state television

reported. "The Zionist regime has deprived the Palestinian

and other nations in the region of the chance of living in peace," he said. He added, "During 60 years, the Zionist

regime has imposed tens of wars on neighboring countries,

the last one of which was the savage invasion of

Lebanon." (Bill Samii)



DURING WAR GAMES. - A Saqeb missile was

fired from a submerged Iranian submarine on August 27,

state television reported. The test took place during the

Zarbat-i Zolfaqar war games that began one week ago.

The missile reportedly can be fired from surface units as

well. Iranian navy Admiral Sajjad Kuchaki described the

missile's characteristics: "It is a long-range missile. It

is smart. It makes a very small impact on radar and can

avoid radar detection. It has a very high degree of

precision and is very fast, taking the enemy by surprise.

The missile has a massive destructive power." The missile

is reportedly manufactured domestically. Other aspects

of the exercises involved maneuvers by marines

(tofangdaran-i daryai) and submarine raids in the Gulf

and Sea of Oman. (Bill Samii)

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