Article first published as Iran Hit by Sanctions, Cut Subsidies on Blogcritics.
Iran, facing four rounds of international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council, has decided on Saturday, November 18 to cut subsidies extended to energy and food items. Iran has been under sanctions regime for a long time imposed due to its nuclear programme, which western countries fear aimed at acquiring nuclear arsenal. Iran has repeatedly cleared that its nuclear programme was not intended to build nuclear programme but for peaceful purposes such as energy and medicine.
However, the US along with its western allies has been pressurising Iran to allow IAEA inspectors to inspect its nuclear enrichment facilities. As a member of the IAEA, Iran allowed several times the IAEA inspectors but latter expelled them, saying IAEA was not sending inspectors but spies. As a result, the US lobbied intensively to slap unified sanctions by the UN Security Council and succeeded to convince Russia and China to that effect. Fourth round of sanctions followed in June 2010.
However, Russia and China preserved their business interests with Iran while negotiating with the United States. Many analysts opined the sanctions were substantially weak due to opposition from Russia and China. Some said it was a victor for the United States for persuading China and Russia to impose sanctions. The sanctions resolution was adopted by the 15-nation Security Council in 12-2 vote with Brazil and Turkey casting no vote and Lebanon abstaining.
Prior to the Security Council vote, Brazil and Turkey negotiate a truce to shift Iran’s low enriched Uranium to Turkey in a bid to swap it with reactor ready Uranium rods from western countries. However, the truce negotiated by Brazil and Turkey was effectively ignored by the key world powers. Iran President Mr Ahmadinejad described the sanctions as a used handkerchief demonstrating continued defiance of Iran with the western sponsored sanctions.
As Iran failed to offer satisfactory explanation over a ship smuggling arms to Senegal, Senegal decided to recall its ambassador to Iran. The weapons were found hidden under building materials on a ship at Lagos in October. Three Nigerians and an Iranian were charged with importing arms from Iran to Gambia. Gambia cut relations with Iran last month on the same reason.
However, it is believed that the actual destination for the arms is a south Senegal region called Casamance where a separatist rebellion has been active supposedly sponsored by the neighbouring Gambia. A peace deal is said to be existing in the region.
Iran has said so far that the shipment belonged to a private company and it was destined to a West African country. Interestingly, Iran’s foreign minister was sacked a few days back when he was visiting Senegal. Senegal said Iran could not provide satisfactory reason for the shipment.
The US used backstage diplomatic manoeuvres to help block the appointment of a scientist from Iran to a key position on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a leaked diplomatic cable reveals. The US privately lobbied IPCC chair Dr Rajendra Pachauri, as well as the UK, EU, Argentina and Mali representatives, and had put its embassies to work from Brazil to Uzbekistan. It wanted to prevent the election of Dr Mostafa Jafari as one of two co-chairmen of a key working group.
The other co-chair was to be an American scientist, Prof Christopher Field. The US state department noted that sharing the IPCC position with an Iranian would be "problematic" and "potentially at odds with overall US policy towards Iran". The jobs often involved travel to and extended residencies in each other’s countries, the cable said. The appointment of an Iranian would also "significantly complicate" US funding for the IPCC secretariat for that working group. US diplomats recognised Jafari as "a highly-qualified scientist … but he is also a senior Iranian government employee".
Pachauri today rejected any suggestion he had colluded with the US private approaches, which apparently ended in another candidate, an Argentinian, being appointed to the position to which Jafari had been nominated. A spokesperson for Pachauri said that he, "neither influenced, nor agreed to influence, the election. Not only would such an agreement be outside his mandate as chairman of the IPCC, but it would also be impossible to achieve."
The cable claims: "Prior to arrival in Geneva, the [US delegation] contacted IPCC chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri (please protect) who agreed to work on this issue to avoid the potential for disruption to one of the organisation’s three core working groups." The phrase "please protect" is used to tell the cable’s recipients not to use a contact’s name publicly.
Article first published as "IAEA Sending Spies, not Inspectors" â€“ Iran on Blogcritics.
Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said that inspectors sent by the International Atomic Energy Agency had engaged in espionage and the Vienna-based agency must take responsibility for their actions, MSNBC news quoted AP. Iran has been critical of IAEA for leaking information of its nuclear programme to the US. In June, Iran banned two U.N. nuclear inspectors from entering the country, claiming they had leaked "false" information about the country’s disputed nuclear program.
"Among the individuals the IAEA sends as so-called inspectors, there are spies from foreign intelligence services. The IAEA must be held responsible for this," state TV quoted Moslehi as saying. IAEA spokesperson responded to the allegation in Vienna saying it had no comment. Iran’s allegation comes a week after Iran’s nuclear scientist was assassinated and another scientist wounded in a bomb attack. Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili called the assassination of the nuclear scientist as disgrace for the Security Council. He said the assassination was linked to the international sanctions slapped on Iran by the Security Council, the US and the EU, and was a part of the western countries’ covert campaign to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iran said the campaign includes abduction of Iranian nuclear scientists, sale of faulty nuclear equipment and placing of destructive computer worms such as stuxnet into the computer systems of the Iran nuclear programme. Computer worms had brought Iran’s nuclear activity to halt for a brief period in November. Iran accused Israel’s Mossad, Britain’s MI6 and the US’ CIA were behind the sabotage activities.
Washington Post | Saturday, December 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM
BEIRUT — Syria’s fresh interference in Lebanon and its increasingly sophisticated weapons shipments to Hezbollah have alarmed American officials and prompted Israel’s military to consider a strike against a Syrian weapons depot that supplies the Lebanese militia group, U.S. and Israeli officials say.
The evidence of resurgence by Syria and its deepening influence across the region has frustrated U.S. officials who sought to change Syrian behavior. However, the Obama administration has so far failed through its policy of engagement to persuade the country to abandon its support for Hezbollah and sever its alliance with Iran. "Syria’s behavior has not met our hopes and expectations over the past 20 months and Syria’s actions have not met its international obligations," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Lebanese daily an-Nahar on Nov. 10. "Syria can still choose another path and we hope that it does."
Israel has complained to the United Nations about long-range missiles and shorter-range rockets that are flowing freely from camps inside Syria to a transit site along the Syrian border with Lebanon and on to Hezbollah. However, Israel has so far hesitated to take military action out of concern that such a strike could touch off a conflict even bloodier than the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, said an Israeli military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
In the past, U.S. interest in Syria was mostly limited to coaxing it to make peace with Israel and to end its rule in Lebanon. However, now it is increasingly clear that Syria – with its pivotal alliance with Iran and its strategic borders with Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq – has the ability to shape regional developments on a broader scale.
Two Germans, arrested in Iran a week ago, are charged with spying. The two Germans interviewed the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The two Germans were not identified with their names on Iranian state Tele Vision. They were initially accused of illegally working as reporters in Iran.
The sentence of stoning death handed to the woman for adultery sparked outrage from international community. The European Union called the sentence “barbaric.” The Vatican pleaded for clemency. The most commendable reaction was from Brazil that offered asylum to the woman. But, Iran government and its justice system did not receive the international outcry. Rather, it was angered by the global reaction. Maybe, Iran treated the matter as internal.
Iran President Ahmadi Nezad denied that the woman was sentenced with stoning to death while he was in the US in September and accused the Western media for discrediting Iran. At least he agreed that stoning a woman to death for any reason is a discredit for a nation. If he really thinks that it is discredit to his country, he should stop the sentence. But, now the woman is being considered for complicity in the murder of her husband. If she is proved guilty in murder case, she will be hanged to death as per foreign ministry spokesperson of Iran.
BBC | 18 October 2010 | 17:19 GMT
Iran has for the first time taken part in high-level discussions on Afghanistan after the US said it had "no problem" with its participation. An Iranian representative joined the international "contact group" – which brings together the Afghan government, dozens of countries, NATO, the EU and UN – for the talks in Rome. It comes amid a renewed push to end the bloody nine-year Afghan conflict.
One senior US diplomat said Iran had "a role to play" in tackling the problems. "We recognise that Iran, with its long, almost completely open border with Afghanistan and with a huge drug problem… has a role to play in the peaceful settlement of this situation in Afghanistan," Richard Holbrooke – the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan – told a news conference. "So for the United States there is no problem with their presence."
He said discussions would not be affected by the "bilateral issues" of Iran’s nuclear programme, which Iran says is for purely civilian purposes but the US insists is a cover for creating atomic weapons. Iran sent its special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Ghanazadeh, reported Associated Press.
BBC | 14 October 2010 | 20:51 GMT
Iran will assume the presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for the first time in 36 years. The country’s oil minister was elected as OPEC president at a one-day meeting of the group, which is made up of 12 oil-producing states. Masoud Mir-Kazemi will hold the presidency from 1 January 2011.
Iran, which takes over from Ecuador, is OPEC’s second-largest oil producer and holds about 10% of world oil reserves. At the meeting in Vienna, OPEC also agreed to keep its oil production target unchanged at about 24.8 million barrels a day. US light crude ended Thursday trading down 32 cents to $82.69. Brent crude finished 11 cents lower at $84.53.
This article first published on Blogcritics.org.
This is not about supporting Ahmadinejad and not about opposing President Barack Obama. This is about how President Barack Obama responded to the comments made by the head of a state. This is about what context the President of the US chose to condemn the comments of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
Mr. Obama should have responded by directly addressing the comments of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Condemning notionally such comments is a way of responding, but it cannot suffice to a head of the state of the United States of America, who repeatedly talks about humanity, reputation of America, support for America, relevance of American supremacy, the pride of the USA and the uniqueness of the USA.
Let us see the remarks of Mr. Ahmadinejad. He said, "Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime." He said most of the people of the world and the US believe this theory. This was the essence of comments of Mr. Ahmadinejad on the UN podium regarding 9/11 attacks. These comments involve the aspects of politics, economics, sociology and culture of the Politics.
It would be perfect if Obama asked Mr. Ahmadinejad to reveal the sections of the US establishment he believed to be behind the 9/11 attacks. He should have said why the American economy was not declining then. He should have rejected that the US was up for grips on the Middle East, and he should have told the people of the US and the world why and how the US regime did not intend to save the Zionist (or Israeli) regime if it was not.
Furthermore, Mr. Ahmadinejad linked the interests of the US in the Middle East to the 9/11 attacks. President Obama should have explained how they were not linked. He should have revealed that there was a possibility and it
BBC News | 25 September 2010 | 00:24 GMT
US President Barack Obama has described as "hateful" and "offensive" the claim by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that most people believe the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks. Mr Obama was speaking exclusively to BBC Persian television, which broadcasts to Iran and Afghanistan.
Mr Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN General Assembly on Thursday triggered a walkout. He later defended his remarks and called for an inquiry into the attacks. "I did not pass judgment, but don’t you feel that the time has come to have a fact-finding committee?" Mr Ahmadinejad told reporters on Friday. "The fact-finding mission can shed light on who the perpetrators were who al-Qaeda is… where does it exist? Who was it backed by and supported? All these should come to light."
In his speech at the UN, the Iranian leader suggested the US government could have "orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime". Mr Ahmadinejad usually refers to Israel as the "Zionist regime.” Mr Obama said it was inexcusable to make such remarks in New York itself, where most of the victims of 9/11 died.
However, despite his condemnation, the US president reaffirmed America’s commitment to reach out to the people of Iran, who he said had a very different response to 9/11. "There were candlelight vigils and I think a natural sense of shared humanity and sympathy was expressed within Iran," Mr Obama told the BBC. "It just shows once again the difference between how the Iranian leadership and this regime operate and how I think the vast majority of the Iranian people, who are respectful and thoughtful, think about these issues."
Iran has rejected allegations by a dissident group that it is building a secret uranium enrichment site. The People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) says it has satellite images of the facility, 120km (75 miles) from Tehran. But nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi insisted Iran had declared all of its activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). US officials said they knew about the plant but did not believe it had a nuclear function.
The PMOI and allies from another exiled group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, have revealed secret nuclear facilities in the past. But they have also made exaggerated and mistaken allegations, and analysts say they have a clear political agenda. The PMOI has released images it says show a tunnel facility under construction near Qazvin, and cites sources within Iran as confirming that the plant is a uranium-enrichment facility. The same sources claim that the plant is 85% complete.
MSN News | 31/08/2010
Iran’s foreign ministry criticised the media today for branding French first lady Carla Bruni as a “prostitute” after she expressed support for a woman sentenced to death by stoning. "Insulting officials of other countries and using indecent words is not endorsed by the Islamic Republic of Iran," ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters. "We don’t think using indecent and insulting words is a right move," he said when asked to comment on Iranian media reports that described Bruni as an "immoral" woman and a "prostitute".
"I hope the media will pay attention. The media can criticise the hostile policies of other countries, but by refraining from using insulting words. This is not correct." On Saturday, Iran’s hardline daily ‘Kayhan’ made a blistering attack on the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy by branding her a "prostitute." It ran a story headlined "French prostitutes enter the human rights uproar," in which it criticised Bruni and French actress Isabelle Adjani for supporting Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the 43-year-old Iranian mother of two, who has been sentenced to death by stoning. "Bruni, the singer and depraved actress who managed to break the Sarkozy family and marry the French president and who is said to have an affair with a singer, has said in S M’s (Sakineh Mohammadi) defence that the verdict is unfair," ‘Kayhan’ wrote.
Source: Deutsche Welle
The United States has announced it will sanction 13 European firms it suspects of being controlled by the Iranian government. The US Treasury Department froze all assets the companies have under US jurisdiction and forbid American companies or individuals from doing business with them. Nine of the firms are registered in Germany, two in Belarus, and one each in Luxembourg and Italy.
The companies include insurance, investment, mining and engineering firms. Seven of the German firms, including IFIC Holding and Ascotec Holding, are based in the western city of Dusseldorf. The others are located in Hamburg and Nettetal. At a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday, Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, described Iran as “by far the most prolific funder of terrorism in the world.”
The United States criticized Moscow earlier this year for pushing ahead with the start-up plans amid persistent Iranian defiance over its nuclear activities. Moscow supported a fourth U.N. Security Council resolution in June, which imposed new sanctions and called for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment which, some countries fear could lead it to obtain nuclear weapons. But Russia says a deal with Iran, under which it will both supply Bushehr and take back the spent fuel — which could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium — means it cannot help any Iranian efforts to build a bomb. “The construction of the nuclear plant at Bushehr is a clear example showing that any country, if it abides by existing international legislation and provides effective, open interaction with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), should have the opportunity to access the peaceful use of the atom,” Russian state nuclear corporation chief Sergei Kiriyenko told the news conference. Continue reading
BBC News | 5 August 2010 | 17:37 GMT
Labour has accused David Cameron of committing a gaffe by mistakenly claiming Iran has a nuclear weapon. Asked why he was backing Turkey to join the EU, he said it could help solve the world’s problems, “like the Middle East peace process, like the fact that Iran has got a nuclear weapon”. A No 10 source said the PM “misspoke”, later adding he had been talking about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. But Labour said he was becoming a “foreign policy klutz”. Shadow Europe Minister Chris Bryant said: “This is less of a hiccup, more of a dangerous habit. “Considering Iran’s nuclear ambitions constitute one of the most important foreign policy challenges facing us all, it is not just downright embarrassing that the prime minister has made this basic mistake, it’s dangerous.”
He said Mr Cameron had been forced to “explain away another foreign policy gaffe” – a reference to the diplomatic rows that erupted over his recent comments about Pakistan. Iran has been the focus of concern among the international community over its uranium enrichment programme, with the US military warning in April it could produce enough material for a nuclear bomb in one year. One of Mr Cameron’s aides said the prime minister “misspoke” when he said “Iran has a nuclear weapon”. But she later told the BBC: “If you watch back the prime minister’s words, it is clear he is talking about Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.” The prime minister made the comment at one of his “PM Direct” public meetings at Hove, East Sussex. Immediately beforehand, he had been berated by a member of the public about an earlier gaffe, when he described Britain as the US’s “junior partner” against the Nazis in 1940. Retired telephonist Kathy Finn, 75, accused him of “denigrating” his own country, asking him: “Who do you consider was the senior partner in the Battle of Britain when we were fighting alone in the first two and a half years of the war?”