Iran's Ambitions Spark Fears in the Muslim World

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by SHASH2K2, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    A nation of 70 million, Iran is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. And with its long coastline, good highways and railroad links to Central Asia, it is a natural crossroads and trading partner.

    Many Iranians believe that their homeland is destined to be the regional power in the Middle East.

    "This country –- it is already the superpower of this regio"," says Hamid Zaheri, a former official in Ir'n's oil ministry" "It has got the rightful position. There is no way to go bac"."

    For Iran to hold that position, however, it must contend with some significant drawbacks: It is a Persian state in a region dominated by Arabs, and a Shia Muslim nation surrounded, for the most part, by Sunni states.

    Iranians have been talking about the destiny of their nation for years, but it took actions by the United States to help make its rise a reality. The United States removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and then ousted Saddam Hussein in Iraq — actions against Iran's two most dangerous enemies, notes Augustus Norton, an expert on the Middle East at Boston University.

    "It's stunningly true that Iran has been the great geopolitical victor of American sacrifice in war," Norton says.

    Revolutionary Zealotry

    In Qom, a holy city for Shia Muslims, ayatollahs and their followers debate the fine points of Islam and help to formulate the policies of the Islamic Republic. Like many Iranian leaders, the clerics in Qom view Iran as under siege, the victim of hostility generated from near and far.

    "There [is] lots of negative propaganda against the Islamic Republic," says Vali Beybi, spokesman for Qom's clerical establishment. "They are trying to deceive other Muslim nations against the Islamic Republic. But we believe that one day when Imam Mahdi will reappear to the people, he will have all the countries under his umbrella. It means that there would be Islamic law prevailing in the whole world."

    The notion that the Imam Mahdi, the 12th Shia imam, will reappear in the world to carry the Islamic Revolution beyond Iran's borders, worries Iran's neighbors.

    This revolutionary zealotry in the modern age began with the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah and brought Ayatollah Khomeini's version of Islamic rule to power, but Shia ambition is nothing new in Persian history.

    In the early 16th century, the Safavids, conquerors from eastern Turkey, brought Shia Islam to Persia. Since that time, Iran has tried to set itself apart and above its Sunni neighbors to the west and to the east, says Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival.

    "The Iranian kings try to claim the leadership of the Muslim world," Nasr says. "They see benefit in differentiating Iranian identity from that of the Ottomans and the Arab lands that they were ruling over. This was partly accomplished by the fact that Iranians have an Iranian culture and the Persian language, but partly by embracing a different branch of Islam, which would then really separate Iran from its Muslim neighbors to its west."

    Deep Internal and Regional Divisions

    But this assertion of difference has more often undermined Iran's claims to lead the Muslim world, a fact that Iran's early revolutionary leaders eventually learned, according to Augustus Norton.

    "Despite Iranian claims that this was 'an Islamic revolution,' many Sunni Muslims — most Sunni Muslims — rejected that claim," Norton says.

    Many Iranians have also been skeptical. Politically, Iran is a deeply divided society, with conservatives and reformers constantly struggling for preeminence. Ethnic tensions have also had an impact on the Iranian state, says Gregory Gause, director of Middle East studies at the University of Vermont.

    "We tend to think of Iran as a national state, and it has developed that way. But the Iranian nationality itself is only about half the population of Iran. You've got Arabs. You've got Turks. You've got Baluch. You've got a mix of tribal people," Gause says.

    There is a great sensitivity among Iranians about the vulnerability of the state to regional separatism — the Arabs in oil-rich Khuzestan province, the Kurds and Azeris in Northwest Iran and the restive Baluchistan province in the East, bordering Pakistan.

    Sometimes, Iran responds with territorial threats of its own. Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the hard-line daily newspaper Kayhan, caused a stir recently with an editorial reviving the claim that Bahrain, the tiny Arab island nation across the Persian Gulf, was historically part of Iran. The foreign minister was forced to travel to Bahrain to calm fears caused by the editorial.

    After a long period during which Iran's more liberal leaders sought to improve relations with the gulf states, tensions with Iran's neighbors are growing. Articles recently appeared in the Iranian press of alleged Saudi Arabian claims on some of Iran's oil fields.

    Less Tension, More Economic Growth

    Aboard the tugboat Moharram in the harbor at Bushehr, on the Persian Gulf, tensions about Iran's future comes into clear focus. The local authorities are hard at work expanding Bushehr's port, and Iran's only nuclear power plant is also under construction there, protected by early warning radar and anti-aircraft missiles and guns. If the nuclear crisis deepens, Iran will use ports like this to evade economic sanctions.

    Nevertheless, Iran's economy is vulnerable. Two months ago, the government imposed gasoline rationing to counter the waste of highly subsidized gasoline that is undermining the country's finances, says Heydar Pourian, editor of the monthly magazine, Iran Economics.

    "We are already seeing some slowdown in the economy, which is partly because of government's decision-making, partly because of the threats of more sanctions by the U.N. and also the U.S.-led banking finance actions that have had impact on our economy, and some capital flight," Pourian explains.

    The growth of Iran's economy is key to its emergence as a true regional power, but politics and regional tensions are linked to Iran's economic prospects, notes Ali Shams Ardekani, an economist and businessman.

    "We have to work very hard to achieve this level of economic activity, which means also we have to reduce, if possible, tension," Ardekani says. "We have to reduce the military expenditure of our neighbors. Iran is spending on the military less than Turkey, less than Pakistan, less than Saudi Arabia, so we should invite the other people in the region to spend less on the military and more on socioeconomic development."

    But winning over its neighbors will be difficult as long as Iran frightens them with the pursuit of nuclear technology, talk of claims on neighboring territories, and rhetoric about an Islamic revolution long ago rejected by other nations in the region.
     
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  3. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Placed on East-West crossroad, Iran has for long, remained a melting pot of two great civilizations. The saying that Iranians are the “Frenchmen of the East” is not misplaced.

    To her west are the lands of the Semitic people – Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan – and to her north and east lie the lands of Indo-Iranian branch of Aryans – Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus Iran is a buffer of sorts between two major races on the earth.

    Not only that, Iran itself is a mosaic of ethnicities, a factor that adds colour and brightness to her rich heritage. She has ethnic Baluch and Arabs in the south, Azeris and Kurds in the north, Aryan-Semitic mixed race to the west bordering on Iraq, and Farsi-Turkmen speaking groups to her northwest. Nevertheless, these ethnic, racial or linguistic diversities are no hindrance to the national identity of her people as Iranians.

    To her west, Iran has a long common border with Iraq, an Arab state with a majority of Shia Muslims. The populace on the border area is culturally, and to some extent linguistically, mixed so as to give the land the name of Iraq-e-Ajam meaning Iraq-Iran.

    Despite commonality of religion, Iran’s relations with Iraq have seldom been cordial. However, Iranian Shia pilgrims (zavvar) to Kerbala in Iraq, have generally played a moderating role in their mutual relations.

    The decade-long Iran-Iraq war of 1979 was essentially an expression of Iranian nation’s aspiration for self-assertion in the aftermath of the fall of US-patronized monarchy. It also reflected the likelihood of a protracted struggle between the radicals and the moderates among the Muslims. While the Bathists towed the communist line, the radical Khumeinites raised the slogan of back to the basics.

    With regard to more recent developments, Iran neither explicitly protested against the US-led military intervention in the neighbouring country of Iraq nor did she express serious concern to her sovereignty and territorial integrity. She considered the dismissal of Baathist regime and Saddam Husain as reinforcing factors to her anti-Iraq policy.

    Nevertheless, fast changing ground situation in Iraq has prompted Iran to play a role, albeit clandestinely, by using Iraqi Shia conduit to push her political interests in the region. While the US considers it an unfriendly act, Iran takes shelter behind deniability.

    The role of Iran under clerical regime has been somewhat dubious. In her foreign policy, the theocratic regime made no secret of “exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution” to such Islamic countries as showed laxity in adhering to radical Islamic identity.

    The regime has made no secret of its animus towards Israel. Overplaying its Islamic role, Iran tries to tell the Arab states that she would do more to oust the Israelis from Palestine and bring triumph to Islam than what they might be able or willing to do. Iran provides mercenaries and military assistance to radical groups fighting against Israelis in Lebanon. Observers think this is one of the obstructions in the Middle East peace process. The recent fighting in Lebanon lay bare the precise role Iran was playing in that region.

    Saudi Arabia, with predominantly Sunni Population, is another important neighbour of Iran. Like Iraq, Iran’s relations with Saudi kingdom, too, have never been cordial. During the reign of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, there did appear a temporary thaw in their cold relationship, perhaps owing to some pressures from Washington, which has stakes in both countries.

    But soon after the success of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khumeini openly denounced monarchy as incompatible with Islamic political philosophy. He went to the length of saying that all monarchs in Muslim countries were “usurpers”. Khumeini rejected the claim of the Saudi monarchs that they were the sole caretakers of the holy shrine of Ka’aba. More importantly, he maintained that in Islam, religion and politics were inseparable, and that it was a recognised tradition of the Muslims to discuss politics in all religious gatherings and at all religious places.

    The rise of Khumeinism in Iran, and Iran’s not too friendly disposition towards the Saudis invited latter’s quick reaction. It projected Wahhabism throughout the Sunni-dominated Muslim world to counter Iran’s growing assertiveness. With the passage of time, Khumeini’s ideology received a set back. But in the process, the spectacular ascendancy of Wahhabism – also known as radical Islam -, with Saudi blessings, too, assumed threatening proportions.

    In any case, the desire of Shia Iran to dominate or to wrest the leadership of the Muslim world from the Saudis could make little headway. It has to be understood that one of the factors of Iran’s patent hostility towards the US is rooted in latter’s patronizing gesture towards the Saudi monarchy.

    Afghanistan, the eastern neighbour of Iran has closer historical, cultural, linguistic, social and spiritual affinity to Iran. Just three centuries ago, Afghanistan formed part of greater Khurasan, the eastern province of Iran. Iran’s relations with Afghanistan have remained cordial over the centuries and there has not been any major irritant between them. However, Iran became watchful and alarmed when Soviet influence began to penetrate Afghan society in the second half of the previous century. Pro-Soviet political parties – Khalq and Parcham – the handiwork of Soviet secret agents in Kabul in 19760s and 70s, forced the Iranian monarchy to come closer to the US on one hand and to seek more goodwill of the erstwhile Soviet Union on the other. Some political analysts believe that the late Shah had tried to do a fine act of balancing. Liquidation of monarchy in Kabul, though a clear signal to the Shah of Iran of coming events, did not impress him and he learnt no lesson from it.

    The rise of Taliban in its early days in Kandahar did not have any immediate impact on Iran-Afghan relations. But when the Taliban and the Northern Alliance forces under Ahmad Shah Masud came to actual fighting for supremacy over Afghanistan, a change in political alignments became visible. General Dostum, the ethnic Uzbek Afghan warlord of Mazar-e Sharif in Northern Afghanistan looked towards his ethnic fraternity in Uzbekistan and Turkey. In comparison, Ahmad Shah Masud, the Tajik Afghan warlord of Panjsheer Valley in Northern Afghanistan befriended Iran, Tajikistan and to a small extent India. Of course, material support to Masu’d by the allies had Moscow’s green signal.

    Iran looked at Taliban with much suspicion. The cold blooded murder of Iranian diplomatic mission personnel in Mazara-e-Sharif and the massacre of innocent Dari speaking people in occupied parts of Herat and Balkh by the Taliban evoked Teheran’s resentment. Teheran ordered securing of her eastern border with Afghanistan and even deployed a strong defence force along the sensitive border. However, sagacity prevailed and no serious skirmishes took places.

    Teheran received international appreciation for extending full facilities to the Afghan refugees seeking shelter on Iranian soil to escape the wrath of the Taliban. More than a million Afghan refugees were provided shelter, food and clothing by the Iranian government in camps in different towns of Khurasan including Mashed. This humanitarian act could not escape the eyes of political commentators. However, Iran did maintain a strict vigil over the activities of the refugees lest they indulge in drug trafficking and other crimes normally committed by their rogue elements in Afghanistan.

    In present Afghan crisis, Teheran has been criticising the American and the NATO forces for indiscriminate bombing and destruction of innocent lives in Afghan operations. However, she has not made an issue out of it because curbing Taliban and uprooting terrorism are in the larger interest of Iran. Obviously, Teheran is not favourably disposed to the process through which Hamid Karzai came to power. In the same way she is not evincing any keen interest in the elections in Iraq.

    With Turkmenistan, the northern neighbour of Iran, Teheran has a 500 kilometres long border. A large number of ethnic Turkmen families are living close to the border on Iranian side. Tehran cannot ignore the presence of a fairly large ethnic Turkmen population on its soil. Moreover, Iran has stakes in Turkmen (Daulatabad) gas deposits. Iranian National Oil Company has made huge investments in the exploration, exploitation and transportation of Turkmen gas to Kabul and perhaps onwards to Pakistan. Sarakhs on Iran-Turkmenistan border is a vital entrepot regulating South Asia’s trade route to Central Asia via Iranian port of Bandar Abbas – Sarakhs rail link.

    The Azeri question relates to Azerbaijan, once a north–western province of Iran, which was divided between Iran and the erstwhile Soviet Union after World War II. Azerbaijan and Armenia, both are now independent States of Trans-Caspian Central Asia. Azerbaijan has laid claim to the western off- shore oil reserves of the Caspian Sea. Teheran has contested the claim. Iran even moved one of her battle ships in the region to make a show of power in the western part of the Caspian Sea. A stalemate has ensued though intermittent formal talks have not been totally suspended.

    Iran considers Azerbaijan’s offer of Ceyhan oil pipeline through Azerbaijan territory to the Bosphorus and onwards to Europe as an unfriendly act. It will be noted that Anglo-American oil cartels engaged in export of oil from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) don’t want the oil pipeline to pass through the territories of either Iran or Russia.

    Iran is maintaining a big-brother stance in her relations with the littoral states of the Gulf. Knowing that the Gulf has immense strategic importance – being the lifeline for the huge oil tankers – Iran has been strengthening her navy with regularity and seriousness. The presence of American nuclear base in Diego Garcia close to the Persian Gulf and stationing of very strong American warships somewhere near the mouth of the Gulf are major irritants for Iran.

    Iran ’has been very active in Bahrain, a small Sheikhdom in the Gulf. The reason is that Bahrain has a sizeable Shia population whereas in other Sheikhdoms of the Gulf, Sunni Hanafi Islam prevails widely. The Bahrain Shias, covertly supported by Iran, tried to depose the Sunni ruler more than once but without success.

    From this brief and rather cursory introduction, it will be deduced that Iran has not been having smooth relations with most of its close neighbours in the region. Ethnic and linguistic diversity, national interests, political rivalry and economic mad race have combined to put a question mark on Iran’s commitment to peace in the Middle East. Iran’s impatience in acquiring nuclear capability is a source of threat to her neighbours with whom Iran is at loggerheads for one reason or the other.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Iran’s N-ambitions

    Now ‘taqiya’ strategy comes into play
    by K. Subrahmanyam

    THE UN Security Council has imposed the fourth round of sanctions on Iran with 12 members voting for it and two against it with one (Lebanon) abstention. Turkey and Brazil, whose leaders attempted to mediate on the issue and whose mediation efforts were widely applauded, voted against the fresh sanctions. The 12 who voted in favour included all five permanent members of the Security Council and seven non-permanent ones, including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria, which has only 50 per cent Muslim population, though both are members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference. In other words, the Iranian nuclear issue is not viewed as an Islamic one, as some people in India portray it.

    It is claimed by the US and its supporters that the sanctions will bite this time unlike on the last three occasions. At the recent NPT Review Conference, President Ahmedinejad made a personal appearance and attempted to portray Iran as a country pledged to disarmament, which was only exercising its right under the NPT to have access to peaceful application of nuclear energy. He was rebutted by the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who said, “In the case of Iran, the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material, but remains unable to confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation. I continue to request Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and relevant resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council, and to clarify activities with a possible military dimension.”

    The Security Council sanctions are the direct result of Iran’s refusal to cooperate with the IAEA, the UN watchdog on the peaceful nature of the nuclear activities, by a member-nation of the NPT.

    Why should Iran take the risk of such sanctions if it wants to be a member of the NPT? Its reactor at Bushehr initiated by the Germans during the period of the Shah and completed last year by the Russians has guaranteed enriched uranium fuel supply from Russia.

    Accounts from defectors, clandestine attempts to procure uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan, procurement and construction of clandestine centrifuge plants, its non-cooperation with the IAEA, its dealings with North Korea and its development of long-range missiles all raise reasonable suspicions that Iran is attempting to acquire clandestine nuclear weapon capability. At the same time, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has issued a fatwa saying that production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam. The fatwa was cited in an official statement by the Iranian government at an August 2005 meeting of the IAEA in Vienna and, more recently, at theTeheran conference on nuclear disarmament in April this year. Most of the western analyses of Iran’s nuclear efforts relate them to its ambitions to be a regional power, its hatred of Israel and its anti-Western orientation.

    Most of the Western analyses ignore that Iran is the only country which was subjected to an attack by a weapon of mass destruction (a chemical weapon) in the 1980’s by a Sunni Muslim country, Iraq. The Sunni Arab countries financially and otherwise supported Saddam Hussein. Iran is estimated to have suffered 500,000 casualties. That war followed the Iranian Revolution and was undertaken simultaneously with the vast Wahabisation effort of the Afghan mujahideen. Al-Qaeda and the associated extremist groups which owe their origins to the Afghan war period conditioning have been targeting Shias in Pakistan and Iraq. There are demands from Sunni extremists that Shias should be declared apostates and non-Muslim.

    The restoration of Shia majority rule in Iraq is resented in the Sunni countries. The animosity between the Sunnis and the Shias is as old as Islam. Iran could not overlook the expansionism of nuclear Pakistan and its establishing a Wahabbised Sunni rule over entire Afghanistan in the nineties, attempting to dominate the majority Dari-speaking Afghan population. Consequently, Iran supported the Northern Alliance and was involved in a covert war with Pakistan supporting the Taliban

    In the eighties, as the Pakistanis, with financial support from Saudi Arabia and direct nuclear proliferation support from China and tacit permissiveness of the US, acquired their nuclear weapons, simultaneously Saudi Arabia obtained its long-range missiles from China.Those missiles make no sense unless they have nuclear warheads and the only nuclear warheads to which Saudi Arabia can have access are the Pakistani ones which they lavishly financed. Now comes the news from a number of Western sources that Pakistan has already exceeded India’s nuclear stockpile and is planning to multiply its arsenal manifold, thanks to the plutonium production reactors provided by China.

    As usual, Western analysts are fixated only on the India-Pakistan equation. In its latest annual world military expenditure report, released on June 2, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said Pakistan’s weapons-grade plutonium production would jump seven-fold with the two new reactors at Khushab nearing completion. “Our conservative estimates are that Pakistan has 60 warheads and could produce 100 nuclear weapons at short notice,” said SIPRI. Many Western observers overlook the possibility that the additional warheads could arm Saudi missiles, and Shia Iran may face a two-front Sunni nuclear threat. The Pakistanis think that they will be back in Afghanistan irrespective of what President Obama may say. The Iranians are well aware of the consequences of firing nuclear warheads on the West or on Israel. They, in fact, need the nuclear weapon capability against the Sunni nuclear threat. A nuclear Iran will give a further morale boost to the Shias in the Sunni-majority countries as the Iranian Revolution and the emergence of Shia-majority Iraq and Azerbaijan have already done.

    How do the Iranians hope to achieve this objective against the tremendous odds they face, including the present sanctions? They appear to depend on the Shia strategy of taqiya. Within the Shia theological framework, the concept of taqiya refers to a dispensation allowing believers to conceal their faith when they face a threat, persecution and compulsion. A top-ranking Shia religious scholar, Ayatollah Sistani, has explained that taqiya is done for safety reasons. For example, a person fears that he might be killed or harmed if he does not observe taqiya. In such case, it is obligatory to observe taqiya.

    History would appear to indicate that taqiya is especially allowed in the case of dealings with non-believers. Iran is presumably resorting to taqiya, both in respect of Sunni Pakistan and the non-believer West. After all, it was the US which eliminated Saddam Hussein, routed the Taliban out of Afghanistan and is fighting the Wahabi terrorist groups, all contributing to Shia Iranian interests. It is not in the US interest to allow a two-front nuclear threat to Iran either.
     
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  6. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    CIA chief warns Iran could have nukes ready by 2012
    by Staff Writers
    Washington (AFP) June 27, 2010

    Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to make two weapons, which it could have prepared and ready for delivery as early as 2012, CIA director Leon Panetta warned Sunday.

    "We think they have enough low-enriched uranium for two weapons," Panetta told the ABC network's "This Week" program.

    Tehran would need a year to enrich it fully to produce a bomb and it would take "another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable," he said.

    Iran is under mounting international pressure over its suspect nuclear program, which the West fears masks a covert weapons drive.

    The Islamic republic vehemently denies the charge, but has been flexing its military muscle mainly in the strategic Gulf region by staging regular war games and showcasing an array of Iran-manufactured missiles.

    "There is a continuing debate right now about whether or not they ought to proceed with a bomb. But they clearly are developing their nuclear capability and that raises concerns," Panetta said. "Just exactly what are their intentions?"

    Neither the United States nor its top regional ally Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, have ruled out a military strike to curb Iran's atomic drive.

    "Israel is very concerned about what's happening in Iran," Panetta noted.

    "We continue to share intelligence (with Israel) as to what exactly is Iran's capacity," Panetta told ABC, but added that Israel is "willing to give us the room to be able to try to change Iran diplomatically and culturally and politically."

    Tel Aviv, he said, feels "more strongly that Iran has already made the decision to proceed with the bomb, but at the same time they know that sanctions will have an impact."

    The US Congress this week endorsed a sweeping package of tough new energy and financial sanctions on Tehran over the program, and on June 10 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1929, which imposes military and financial sanctions on Iran aiming to rein in the suspect nuclear drive.

    The new US measures being sent to President Barack Obama for his signature, piled atop the UN Security Council and European sanctions, is aimed to choke off Iran's access to imports of refined petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel and curb its access to the international banking system.

    The bill would also shut US markets to firms that provide Iran with refined petroleum products that the oil-rich nation must import to meet demand because of a weak domestic refining capability.

    It also takes aim at firms that invest in Iran's energy sector, including non-US companies that provide financing, insurance, or shipping services.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has lashed out at the international community in the wake of sanctions, charging that the UN Security Council has become an "oppressive tool" of world powers.

    In an outburst earlier this month against the Security Council for imposing the new round of sanctions, the hardline president said the UN body had failed to resolve any key world issues, including conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "We continue to urge them to engage in peaceful use of nuclear power," Panetta said Sunday.

    "If they did that, they wouldn't have these concerns, they wouldn't have these problems. The international community would be working with them instead of having them work on their own."

    At a G8 meet in Canada meanwhile world leaders urged Iran to hold a "transparent dialogue" over its nuclear program, as Ahmadinejad prepared to unveil his conditions for talks.

    "We are profoundly concerned by Iran's continued lack of transparency regarding its nuclear activities and its stated intention to continue and expand enriching uranium, including to nearly 20 percent," G8 leaders said in a communique issued Saturday.

    They welcomed all efforts to rein in the country's suspect uranium enrichment program, making special note of efforts to broker a deal by Brazil and Turkey.





    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/CIA_chief_warns_Iran_could_have_nukes_ready_by_2012_999.html
     
  7. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Once they have nukes ready with them they will become monster and it will be difficult to control them.
     
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    CIA's Panetta: Iran has enough uranium for 2 bombs


    WASHINGTON – CIA Director Leon Panetta says Iran probably has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons, but that it likely would take two years to build the bombs.
    Panetta also says he is doubtful that recent U.N. penalties will put an end to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
    He says the penalties could help to weaken Tehran's government by creating serious economic problems. But he adds, "Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not."
    Panetta tells ABC's "This Week" that there is "some debate" as to whether Iran will proceed with the bomb.
    Asked about a potential Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, Panetta said he thinks Israel is giving the U.S. room on the diplomatic and political fronts.
    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
    WASHINGTON (AP) — CIA Director Leon Panetta says Iran probably has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons, but that it likely would take two years to build the bombs.
    Panetta also says he is doubtful that recent U.N. penalties will put an end to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
    He says the penalties could help to weaken Tehran's government by creating serious economic problems. But he adds, "Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not."
    Panetta tells ABC's "This Week" he isn't convinced that Iran will go ahead and build the weapons.
    Asked about a potential Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, Panetta said he thinks Israel is giving the U.S. room on the diplomatic and political fronts.
     
  9. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Pushing Iran to negotiate

    Fresh UN sanctions are dismissed by Tehran as its nuclear programme marches on, writes Amani Maged
    Even before the ink had dried on the Security Council resolution imposing a fourth round of economic sanctions on Iran, Washington, the EU and Australia began to speak of the possibility of harsher sanctions. But in a sudden and striking counterpoint to the increasing menace in their tone, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France was ready to begin negotiations with Tehran "without delay". What lies behind these shifts and inconsistencies in Western positions?

    Beginning with the country that champions escalating the confrontation with Iran, Washington took the recent Security Council sanctions resolution as occasion to add another state owned Iranian bank, five companies fronting for the Iranian Shipping Company and the Revolutionary Guards commanders to its blacklist. In addition, Treasury Secretary Timothy Gates stated that his country would take further measures to increase the economic pressures on Iran and that it would target the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in particular.

    Last week, the Post Bank of Iran became the 16th Iranian bank to be blacklisted by the US Treasury. The US Treasury alleges that this bank has dealt with agencies contributing to the spread of weapons of mass destruction. They add that it was acting as a front for the international operations of the Bank of Sepah, which has been under UN sanctions since 2007.

    In addition to the five shipping companies the US has just sanctioned on the grounds of fronting for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, the US Treasury added 27 mover ships to its blacklist and updated a list of 71 other blacklisted ships whose names had been changed. The latest US sanctions also went for the elite Revolutionary Guards, targeting IRGC commander Mohamed Ali Jafari and head of the Basij militia Mohamed Reza Naqdi. The IRGC oversees many of the country's weapons programmes, especially those concerning long-range self-propelled missiles.

    In a related development, EU leaders announced new range of sanctions restricting certain categories of investment in Iran, technology transfers, and the provision of various types of goods and services. The bans target the oil and gas sectors, but primarily focus on military-related activities and products. The EU also introduced further restrictions on commercial transactions.

    Many analysts claim that the latest round of EU sanctions are harsher than those approved by the Security Council, because they extend beyond the energy sector to the financial, insurance and transportation sectors.

    Iran, however, has shrugged off the latest rounds of economic sanctions. President Ahmadinejad has described them "irrational and ineffective" and charged that their real aim was to "alleviate the growing pressures on the Zionist regime". Then, reverting to its customary brinksmanship, Tehran prohibited two International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from entering Iran and signalled to the West that it was pushing full steam ahead on major national projects. Among these is the development of the Pars oilfields, with regard to which Ahmadinejad announced a recent agreement for the extraction of oil in six phases from these fields. The largest contract of its kind in the history of the Iranian petroleum industry, the project will be carried out by Iranian labour.

    Iranian officials have also stressed that sanctions will fail to resolve the Iranian nuclear question. They maintain that only European firms will suffer, for the sanctions will have little impact on the Iranian economy and military. According to Ali Asghar Sultania, Iran's ambassador and representative to the IAEA, the UN sanctions targeting military technology and equipment will not weaken his country's defence capacities, since Iran was already self- sufficient in the production of artillery, tanks, helicopters and naval vessels.

    Yet, even while Western powers notch up the pressure against Iran, President Sarkozy suddenly announced that his country would like to open a dialogue with Iran. "We adopted new sanctions not to punish Iran but to persuade its leaders to return to the path of negotiations," he said. He went on to say that France was ready to begin talks "without delay" in the IAEA in Vienna on the basis of the "Brazilian-Turkish efforts" and the response issued by Russia, France and the US earlier this month. The French president's announcement signals an attempt to kick-start negotiations between Iran and the "six powers" (the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia).

    Responding to this overture, Ahmadinejad stated that Iran is ready to resume dialogue with Western nations over its nuclear programme, but that it had conditions that he could not disclose at this time. He took the occasion to underline, again, that the sanctions would not stop Iran's nuclear activities. "We will not budge an inch off our nuclear course because of sanctions," he said.

    Analysts, too, are largely of the opinion that the latest round of economic sanctions will have little impact on Iranian resolve. Contending with sanctions since the 1980s, Tehran has acquired numerous strategies for circumventing them or offsetting their effects. In particular, it has succeeded in developing increasingly close economic ties with numerous countries, including China, Russia and the EU. These countries, for their part, are unlikely to sacrifice the economic interests vested in their relationships with Iran. For example, Moscow is still developing the nuclear reactors at Bushehr and will go ahead with the delivery of a shipment of S300 missiles, which it argues are not banned under the latest UN sanctions. It has also signed an agreement to strengthen economic ties with Iran in the field of energy. Nor does it appear that China's strong commercial relations have weakened following the latest UN resolution on Iran.

    It thus appears that as tough as the sanctions may seem, they will not push the Iranian nuclear programme off course. It seems equally clear that the West's push to isolate Tehran economically is not so much aimed at "punishing" Iran as it is at drawing a roadmap back to the negotiating table where the West will try to persuade Tehran to lower its ambitions on uranium enrichment while Iran will continue to push for higher ceilings in this and other concessions from the West. One can suspect that quite soon the two sides will be announcing new understandings that could pave the way to a relaxation of sanctions or a military strike.
    http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/1004/re6.htm
     
  10. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    What is the nuclear threat from Iran?
    Iranian officials claim they are pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful civilian purposes only, such as generating electricity. But most international proliferation experts suspect the fundamentalist Muslim theocracy is using its nuclear program to enrich uranium to higher levels than necessary for civilian nuclear-energy production and secretly trying to manufacture nuclear weapons.
    What is the status of efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear program?
    Since the revelations of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions became public in 2002, the United Statesand other countries have been pressuring Iran to halt the program. TheUnited Statesrefused to deal directly with Tehran, but the European Union began negotiations to reach a diplomatic solution to the standoff. In late 2004, U.S. officials agreed to support European efforts. In November of that year, Iran negotiated a deal with Britain, France, and Germany: The Europeans promised to give Iran economic incentives and assistance with its civilian nuclear program, and Iran promised to halt uranium enrichment.
    What has Iran done recently to attract world suspicion?
    After Iranian dissidents blew the whistle in 2002, Tehran admitted withholding information for nearly twenty years from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ (UN) nuclear watchdog, about aspects of a uranium-enrichment program. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Iran’s new president, said after he was elected in June that Iran had a right to a nuclear program. In August, Iran also resumed sensitive nuclear work at some of its facilities, bringing two years of negotiations with the European Union on its nuclear program nearly to collapse.
    How can a civilian nuclear-energy program be transformed into a program to build nuclear weapons?
    Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which governs nuclear-energy use around the world, any nation can enrich uranium for civilian nuclear-power reactors. Uranium enrichment is a critical part of both nuclear energy and nuclear-weapons programs. During the enrichment process, naturally occurring uranium is converted into nuclear fuel. Depending on its enrichment level, this fuel can power either energy plants or, in a more refined state, nuclear weapons. Under Article IV of the NPT, which Iran ratified in 1968, a country can develop its nuclear-power capacity under a legal civilian program. Then the country could give ninety days’ notice that it intends to drop out of the NPT, convert its civilian nuclear program to a nuclear-weapons program, and declare itself a nuclear-armed power.
    What has Iran done to advance its nuclear program?
    Its program has facilities considered legal under international agreements—that is, declared to the world and open to IAEA inspections—and facilities that were either kept secret or are suspected of hosting activities not permitted by international agreements.
    The legal facilities include:
    A light-water commercial nuclear reactor at Bushehr, a city on the Persian Gulf coast of southwestern Iran. Iranian officials say the facility, which will be Iran’s first operational reactor when it opens in 2006, will use nuclear energy to generate electricity only. Russia helped build the $800 million reactor and signed a deal with Iran March 1 that guarantees a supply of Russian fuel for Bushehr. Russia also agreed to remove all of Bushehr’s spent fuel to prevent its use in an illicit nuclear-weapons program. The United States opposed the deal. Experts say Bushehr will produce enough spent fuel—which can potentially be reprocessed to produce plutonium suitable for fueling nuclear weapons—for about thirty atomic bombs per year.
    Several small research reactors, which are not considered proliferation risks because they produce only very small amounts—grams, not kilograms—of nuclear material.
    The facilities that were previously undisclosed or host suspect activities include:
    Isfahan. The uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan in central Iran is capable of converting yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride (UF-6), a gas used in centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium. In May, Iran revealed for the first time that it had used the Isfahan facility to convert thirty-seven tons of yellowcake into the gas uranium tetrafluoride (UF-4), a precursor to UF-6.
    Natanz. Many experts suspect the UF-6 produced at Isfahan is taken to an enrichment facility at Natanz in central Iran, which was secret until Iranian dissidents revealed its existence in August 2002. There the gas is enriched—by being spun in high-speed centrifuges—to the relatively low level required to fuel electricity-generating power plants or to the higher level needed for nuclear bombs.
    There are at least two plants at Natanz, says Charles Ferguson, a nuclear expert and the science and technology fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. One is a small-scale pilot plant that was likely used to test centrifuges and enrich small amounts of uranium; the other facility is a bigger, commercial-scale plant able to enrich much larger amounts of uranium. According to information from IAEA investigations, Iran has completed neither the pilot-scale nor the commercial-scale enrichment plants, although the pilot-scale plant houses more than 100 centrifuges. A commercial-scale plant would have as many as 50,000 of that type of centrifuge, Ferguson says. After the 2002 revelations, Iran admitted the existence of the Natanz facilities and allowed IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei to tour them in February 2003. In August 2003, IAEA inspectors found samples of highly enriched uranium, which Iran is not allowed to have under the NPT, on some of the centrifuges at Natanz. Tehran claimed the centrifuges—which were likely purchased from the network of rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan—were already contaminated with the material when Iran received them. An independent panel of experts confirmed this claim in August; nonetheless, a U.S. State Department spokesman said August 23 that the report didn’t prove Iran ’s innocence, saying there are still “unresolved concerns” and “open questions” about the country’s nuclear intentions.
    Arak. Experts say the planned heavy-water research reactor is about five years from completion. Once the plant is operational, it could produce enough plutonium for about one nuclear bomb per year.
    What’s the background of Iran’s nuclear program?
    Iran has long pursued nuclear energy and weapons, experts say. “The shah had these aspirations,” says Ashton Carter, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy and the Ford Foundation professor of science and international affairs at Harvard University. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi governed Iran from 1941 to 1979, except for a brief period in 1953. In the 1970s, Iran had a fledgling program to develop nuclear weapons even as it negotiated to buy nuclear reactors from France, Germany, and the United States, experts say.
    Is there public support in Iran for a nuclear program?
    Yes, experts say, and it is widespread and enthusiastic. Many Iranians feel, and their leaders reiterate, that as a great state, Iran should have access to nuclear technology, experts say. Iranian officials have repeatedly defended their right to a nuclear-energy program, also citing possible threats from Israel and U.S. forces in the region.
    Would the United States use force to stop Iran’s nuclear activities?
    It’s unlikely at the moment. The U.S. military is already stretched thin in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and there would be little domestic support for another war, many experts say. But Bush said August 13 that “all options are on the table” regarding Iran. “If you tried and failed in negotiations—really tried and failed—force is something to consider,” says Robert Gallucci, a former ambassador-at-large for nonproliferation issues and dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. One possibility is that the United States or Israel could carry out a disabling pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. However, Iranian officials have issued strongly worded warnings against such an attack, saying they would retaliate.
    http://rebecca.cfr.org/publication/8830/iran.html
     
  11. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Iran unveils nation's first unmanned bomber

    TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday inaugurated the country's first domestically built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an “ambassador of death” to Iran's enemies.

    The 4-meter-long drone aircraft can carry up to four cruise missiles and will have a range of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers), according to a state TV report -- not far enough to reach archenemy Israel.

    ``The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship,'' said Ahmadinejad at the inauguration ceremony, which fell on the country's national day for its defense industries.

    The goal of the aircraft, named Karrar or striker, is to “keep the enemy paralyzed in its bases,” he said, adding that the aircraft is for deterrence and defensive purposes.

    The president championed the country's military self-sufficiency program, and said it will continue ``until the enemies of humanity lose hope of ever attacking the Iranian nation.''

    Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo and now produces its own tanks, armored personnel carries, missiles and even a fighter plane.

    Iran frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be independently verified.

    State TV later showed video footage of the plane taking off from a launching pad and reported that the craft traveled at speeds of 560 miles per hour (900 kilometers) and could alternatively be armed with two 250-pound bombs or a 450-pound guided bomb.

    Iran has been producing its own light, unmanned surveillance aircraft since the late 1980s.

    The ceremony came a day after Iran began to fuel its first nuclear power reactor, with the help of Russia, amid international concerns over the possibility of a military dimension to its nuclear program.

    Iran insists it is only interested in generating electricity. Referring to Israel's occasional threats against Iran's nuclear facilities, Ahmadinejad called any attack unlikely, but he said if Israel did, the reaction would be overwhelming.

    “The scope of Iran's reaction will include the entire the earth,'' said Ahmadinejad. “We also tell you -- the West -- that all options are on the table.”

    Ahmadinejad appeared to be consciously echoing the terminology used by the US and Israel in their statements not ruling out a military option against Iran's nuclear facilities.

    On Friday, Iran also test-fired a new liquid fuel surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam-1, with advanced guidance systems.


    Read more: Iran unveils nation's first unmanned bomber - Middle East - World - The Times of India Iran unveils nation's first unmanned bomber - Middle East - World - The Times of India
     

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