Monday, July 19, 2004

United Press International: Analysis: Why the U.S. should engage Iran

United Press International: Analysis: Why the U.S. should engage Iran: "Analysis: Why the U.S. should engage Iran
By Martin Walker
UPI Editor
Published 7/19/2004 6:52 PM


WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- A plan for "selective engagement" with Iran is a win-win strategy for the United States, former White House national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Central Intelligence Director Robert Gates agreed Monday.

"If the effort to start negotiations with Iran succeeds, that's a good start. If it fails, then by making the effort to engage with Iran along with our European partners, then we will be in a much better position to seek multilateral cooperation to bring sanctions against Iraq, or to set the stage for other options," Gates said.

"If we are not to try to do these things alone, then we have to go this multilateral route," he said. "By working with the Europeans, we get an opportunity to stiffen their spines, and then to be in a position to get them into multilateral action."

Gates added that by showing that it was prepared to be reasonable, and to cooperate with its European allies and with Russia in try to persuade Iran to bring its nuclear program back within the international inspections regime of the United Nations, the United States would be able to rally U.N. support for sanctions against Iran if required.

Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington Monday, after launching their report, "Iran: Time for a new approach," Gates and Brzezinski argued that the current U.S. policy of "passive antagonism" had failed to change Iran's behavior and had helped spur Iran's nuclear weapons program, and the United States should try a new approach.

The report suggests that the United States and Iran have a common interest in stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, and that by starting negotiations on these topics, the United States may be able to persuade Iran that it is not in Tehran's best interests to develop nuclear weapons. It proposes that in return, the United States should accept Iran's ambition to develop peaceful nuclear power, and help it obtain enriched uranium on the world market, under strict international safeguards, in order to prevent Iran from developing its own nuclear fuel-enrichment technology.

Brzezinski stressed that a military option to disrupt Iran's nuclear ambitions should be "a last resort, only to be used under extreme provocation or in the face of imminent danger."

"It would be much tougher to take out Iran's nuclear facilities than the Osirak operation of 1981 (when Israeli warplanes destroyed Iraq's French-built nuclear reactor in a pre-emptive strike)," Brzezinski said. "There are multiple sites, some of them deep underground, and they are close to cities, so it would be a very difficult operation which could involve large numbers of civilian casualties."

Brzezinski also suggested that it was worth considering matters from Tehran's viewpoint. The Tehran regime felt under threat because their country was surrounded by nuclear-armed neighbors -- Pakistan, India, Russia and Israel. They live in a highly unstable and oil-rich part of the world, in which the United States is now establishing a series of military bases through the "war on terrorism."

It was understandable that they were nervous. If the United States could begin reassuring them, by starting talks on regional security, then it might be possible to persuade Iran to suspend its nuclear weapons program.

"A regional security dialogue is something the Iranians want," Brzezinski said.

He added that that the nuclear weapons program has been widely popular inside Iran, and attacking it would serve to unite the Iranian people against America, and provoke Iran into retaliating against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"A military strike would cost many Iranian lives in the short run, but many American lives later," Brzezinski said. "And any Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would be viewed in the region as an act in which the United States was complicit."

Iran was one of the three countries -- along with Iraq and North Korea -- that were characterized as "the axis of evil" by President Bush in his State of the Union address of 2002. And the prospects of engaging Iran come at a time when the 9/11 Commission is suggesting that as many as eight of the 9/11 hijackers traveled through Iran on their way to commit the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

"We have ample evidence of people being able to move back and forth across that terrain," CIA acting director John McLaughlin said Sunday. "However, I would stop there, and say we have no evidence that there is some sort of official sanction by the government of Iran for this activity. We have no evidence that there is some sort of official connection between Iran and 9/11."

The new CFR report, prepared by a special task force of the council that was chaired by Gates and Brzezinski, was condemned Monday by several Iranian exile groups and by organizations critical of the current Tehran regime as a return to appeasement.

"Appeasement in dealing with ideologically driven totalitarian regimes never works, more so in the case of Iran's theocratic regime which has displayed an increasingly belligerent behavior in recent months and reneged on its agreement with France, Britain and Germany to stop enriching uranium," said the U.S. Alliance for a Democratic Iran. "It did not work with Nazi Germany in 1938, and it will not work today."

"The latest evidence in the bi-partisan 9/11 commission report of links between Iran mullahs and al-Qaida network seriously brings into question the wisdom of considering Iran as a party to any meaningful 'dialogue,'" the USADI statement went on. "The mullahs ruling Iran are gratified to know that their brutal suppression of Iranians through arrest, torture and execution of dissidents; and stoning, hanging and flogging citizens in public is paying huge political dividends."

The USADI statement also took issue with the report's suggestion that the Iran regime is now "well-entrenched" and that U.S.-inspired efforts at regime change or democratization are unlikely to succeed. USADI also said that earlier efforts to engage Iran in the Clinton years had produced no meaningful political change."

Channelnewsasia.com: ESFAHAN : The city of Esfahan in Iran is a combination of modernity and tradition.

Channelnewsasia.com: "ESFAHAN : The city of Esfahan in Iran is a combination of modernity and tradition.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's recent visit to Iran uncovered some interesting sites during the trip.

The city of Esfahan is half an hour by flight from Tehran and about six hours by road.

Esfahan's monuments are among the most splendid of the Islamic world. The main monuments in the city are essentially the work of one man, Shah Abbas the Great, who rebuilt the city with large avenues and magnificent gardens.

Some of the mosques in Esfahan date back to the eight century and some of the most intricate works of Islam are inscribed on the walls and domes. The unique feature of this mosque is that it can amplify noises made inside it. Mr Goh said: 'Thank you for this wonderful visit, this is a beautiful mosque. I will now ask my friend here to say a prayer.' Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Community Development and Sports, said: 'May, by this visit, we cement the relationship between Singapore and Iran.'

Esfahan's population is not made up of Muslims alone. There is a sizeable Christian community too and the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour is one special building.

The domes are very much like those of the mosques. Younger generations of Esfahanians find the bridges, waterways and parks in the city the greatest draw.

The Singapore delegation learnt from their visit that people's lifestyles can still be modern even as they uphold Islamic principles. The Singapore delegation also had a chance to visit some of the historical cities.It is hoped visits like these will also spur Singaporeans to come and visit these places, better"

Cell phone robberies sweep Yemen - (United Press International)

Cell phone robberies sweep Yemen - (United Press International): "Cell phone robberies sweep Yemen


Sanaa, Yemen, Jul. 19 (UPI) -- Yemeni police said Monday a craze of cell phone robberies is sweeping the poor Arab country with some 800 phones stolen on a daily basis.
'The trend of stealing mobile telephones has increased in an unprecedented way especially in the capital, Sanaa, and other major cities,' a police source told UPI.
He said organized gangs specializing in the robbery of cell phones are operating in crowded markets and places in big cities.
'We have arrested many of those gangs and referred their members to trial,' he said.
'We can say that up to 800 phones are being stolen daily and some 24,000 every month,' he added.
Yemen introduced the cell phone system in 2000 and the number of mobile phone users is estimated at a half-million."

Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

"Russia, Iran discuss Bushehr power plant
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

The head of Russia's nuclear energy program met with the Iranian ambassador Monday to discuss supplying nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr atomic power plant, the Interfax news agency reported.

The report said Ambassador Gholam Reza Shafei pledged that Iran would return spent nuclear fuel to Russia, but said no final agreements have been signed. Sending the spent fuel out of the country would ensure that Iran could not reprocess it into material that could be used in nuclear weapons.

Shafei and Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, also discussed construction of the Bushehr plant, which is expected to go into operation next year, Interfax said.

Russia is finishing up work on the US$800 million reactor in southern Iran, which has drawn years of protests from the United States. Washington fears that plant can be used to help Iran build nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is only for peaceful energy needs.

Last month, Mohammad ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that Russia's help in constructing the Bushehr plant shouldn't spark international concern.

Tehran has faced growing international pressure to open its nuclear program to closer international scrutiny. In December, it signed an agreement with the IAEA, allowing it full access to Iranian nuclear facilities to ensure they aren't being used to develop weapons."

Middle America: Iran Prepared to Assist Brotherly Nation of Iraq

Middle America: Iran Prepared to Assist Brotherly Nation of Iraq: "'Iran Prepared to Assist Brotherly Nation of Iraq

In a message to Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami expressed hope that the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq?s interim government would help the country gain complete independence and eventually oust the occupying forces from the country.

This message was presented to the Iraqi prime minister on Saturday, July 17 by Kazemi Qomi, Iran?s charge d?affaires in Baghdad.

In his meeting with Allawi, the Iranian charge d?affaires expressed Iran?s readiness to cooperate with the interim government in all fields, particularly in reconstruction and helping to improve Iraq?s security situation."

The Lanny Budd Project: Washington Propaganda Against Iran Aimed to Cover Up Failures in Iraq

The Lanny Budd Project: Washington Propaganda Against Iran Aimed to Cover Up Failures in Iraq: "Washington Propaganda Against Iran Aimed to Cover Up Failures in Iraq
Description of Selected News: 'Washington Propaganda Against Iran Aimed to Cover Up Failures in Iraq

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) -? Tehran on Sunday responded to a report that some al Qaeda members involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States may have passed shortly beforehand through Iran.

The foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told a regular news briefing that since Washington has failed to establish security and create a sense of affinity with the Iraqi people it is resorting to propaganda to cover up their abysmal failure in Iraq."

washingtonpost.com: U.S. Faces a Crossroads on Iran Policy

washingtonpost.com: U.S. Faces a Crossroads on Iran Policy: " U.S. Faces a Crossroads on Iran Policy

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 19, 2004; Page A09

The Bush administration is under mounting pressure to take action to deal with Iran -- and end the drift that has characterized U.S. policy for more than three years.

The final report of the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, due Thursday, may further intensify the policy debate, as it says Iran let eight of the 19 hijackers transit through Iran from neighboring Afghanistan -- a claim Tehran does not deny. The issue is whether it happened with Iran's compliance or because of porous borders.

Acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin said yesterday that the United States has known for "some time" about the al Qaeda passage through Iran, although he said there is "no evidence" of a connection between Iran and the Sept. 11 attacks.

In response, Iran's Foreign Ministry said yesterday that preventing illegal passage was difficult because of the long frontier, adding that it has since tried to tighten control. "Even more people may [illegally] cross the border between Mexico and the United States," spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran.

The dispute -- and uncertainty -- over al Qaeda's use of Iran comes as the White House is being pulled in distinctly different directions on Tehran.

Since May, Congress has been moving -- with little notice -- toward a joint resolution calling for punitive action against Iran if it does not fully reveal details of its nuclear arms program. In language similar to the prewar resolution on Iraq, a recent House resolution authorized the use of "all appropriate means" to deter, dissuade and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weaponry -- terminology often used to approve preemptive military force. Reflecting the growing anxiety on Capitol Hill about Iran, it passed 376 to 3.

In contrast, two of the most prominent foreign policy groups in Washington are calling for the United States to end a quarter-century of hostile relations and begin new diplomatic overtures to Iran, despite disagreements on a vast range of issues. Because the "solidly entrenched" government provides the only "authoritative" interlocutors, Washington should "deal with the current regime rather than wait for it to fall," says a Council on Foreign Relations report released today.

The disparate range of proposals underscores the near void in U.S. policy toward Iran -- in stark contrast to the two other countries in what President Bush calls the "axis of evil." The administration launched a war to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq and is now engaged in delicate talks over nuclear issues with North Korea. But six months before its first term ends, the administration has still not formally signed off on a strategy for Iran since a review of U.S. policy was begun in 2001, U.S. officials say.

Pressed to define U.S. policy on Iran, one frustrated senior U.S. official cracked, "Oh, do we have one?"

Bush administration policy has generally been piecemeal and reactive to broader or tangential issues, rather than to Iran itself, U.S. officials say. "What we have is a summation of various pieces -- one piece on nuclear weapons, one on human rights, another on terrorism, other pieces on drugs, Iraq and Afghanistan," a senior State Department official said.

White House officials point to a three-paragraph presidential statement two years ago this month as the core policy. It notes local and national elections when voters supported reformers; it then calls on Tehran to "listen to their hopes."

"As Iran's people move towards a future defined by greater freedom, greater tolerance, they will have no better friend than the United States," the statement reads. But it offers no policy specifics or prescriptions. It instead reached out beyond Tehran in hopes that Iranians would be able to change their government or its positions.

Since then, the Bush administration has warned Tehran about meddling in Iraq and lashed out at the Islamic republic for not fulfilling its promise to provide all information to the U.N. watchdog agency on its nuclear energy program, which Washington suspects is being diverted to build a nuclear weapon.

"The Iranians need to feel the pressure from the world that any nuclear weapons program will be uniformly condemned," Bush told newspaper editors in April. "The development of a nuclear weapon in Iran is intolerable."

But in a split reminiscent of the deep prewar divisions over Iraq, the administration has been at odds over how to accomplish its goals -- engagement, containment or confrontation. Once again, the State Department has been willing to explore areas of potential cooperation -- notably narcotics interdiction, Afghanistan and Iraq -- to see whether discussions under international auspices might lead to wider discussions.

In contrast, the Pentagon and Vice President Cheney's office have resisted making overtures, U.S. officials say. After the heady victory in Afghanistan and before Iraq, a few voices urged a toughened stance against Tehran next. Yet in one of many mixed signals, the White House also offered to send Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and a member of the Bush family to Iran with humanitarian relief after an earthquake destroyed the ancient city of Bam and killed tens of thousands in December. It was rebuffed.

Iran's even deeper political divisions -- a complex spectrum of reformers and hardliners -- have not helped Washington determine the most effective course to adopt. Further complicating U.S. policy, Tehran also appears to be in transition, as hardliners swept parliamentary elections this year and are poised to win the presidency next year.

"It's difficult in that landscape to take policy risks -- or even to develop policy," said the senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In the vacuum, Congress and top officials of former administrations are increasingly weighing in. The region's changing dynamics over the past two years, with new governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, provide the pretext for new cooperation since Washington and Tehran share an interest in fostering stability, some argue. But Iran's suspected nuclear program also spurs deeper fears of Tehran's intentions than at any time since the 1979 Iranian revolution unleashed Islamic extremism, foreign policy experts and congressional officials say.

Increasingly alarmed over Iran's failure to come clean on its arms programs, Congress is becoming tougher. Since House Resolution 398 passed on May 6, a similar Senate resolution calling for punitive action, mainly through broad new U.N. sanctions, is expected to be put to a vote -- and win overwhelming support -- when Congress returns after Labor Day, congressional sources say.

In an even more dramatic move, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) plans to introduce an Iran liberation act this fall, modeled on the Iraq Liberation Act that mandated government change in Baghdad and provided more than $90 million to the Iraqi opposition. The goals would be the same for Iran, including regime change, congressional officials said.

By contrast, top foreign policy officials from the past six Republican and Democratic administrations are calling for diverse efforts at diplomatic rapprochement. The Council on Foreign Relations report calls for "systematic and pragmatic engagement" with Tehran, saying current U.S. policy and expectations that the government will be ousted are unrealistic.

"The United States should not defer a political dialogue with Iran until deep differences over its nuclear ambitions and involvement in regional conflicts have been resolved. Just as the United States has a constructive relationship with China (and earlier did so with the Soviet Union) while strongly opposing certain aspects of its internal and international policies, Washington should approach Iran with a readiness to explore areas of common interests while continuing to contest objectionable policy," it says.

Although acknowledging that a "grand bargain" covering all issues is also unrealistic now, the report urges Washington to offer a "direct dialogue" on regional stability; broaden cultural and economic links; and press for Iran to hand over al Qaeda detainees in exchange for the United States disbanding the Iraq-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq, the most militant Iran opposition force that is also on the U.S. terrorism list.

The council's bipartisan panel was chaired by Robert M. Gates, CIA director during the first Bush administration, and Carter administration national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. A second policy paper, due in August, will be published by the Atlantic Council. Its co-chairs are first Bush administration national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, Nixon administration defense secretary James R. Schlesinger, and former chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Lee H. Hamilton, vice chairman of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

Given the impending election, however, both congressional officials and foreign policy analysts say the Bush administration is unlikely to give formal shape to Iran policy, except to press for Tehran's full cooperation with the United Nations on its nuclear program.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company "

Wired News | Lack of Iran Contacts Said Harming U.S. Interests

Wired News | Lack of Iran Contacts Said Harming U.S. Interests: "Lack of Iran Contacts Said Harming U.S. Interests

By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lack of sustained engagement with Iran over the last 25 years is harming U.S. interests at a time when America is engaged to an unprecedented extent in the Middle East and Central Asia, according to a panel of experts and former U.S. officials.

In a report published on Monday by the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, the panel warned that "overcoming the absence of any U.S.-Iranian contacts may be the only alternative to ... force" to assuage U.S. concerns about Iran's behavior. It recommended that Washington change its approach to a "selective" engagement with Iran that includes incentives, like the prospect of U.S. commercial ties, as well as penalties, in an effort to resolve a growing nuclear problem and stabilize the Middle East,

The findings were released during a U.S. election campaign that is focused on President Bush's foreign policy leadership and amid rising American fears that Iran is galloping ahead in a quest to build a nuclear bomb. Throughout its tenure, Bush's administration has been divided over whether to reach out to Iran after a quarter-century of hostility or to toughen its approach. Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry has signaled an interest in greater engagement with Tehran.

The task force, chaired by former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert Gates, concluded that "the current lack of sustained engagement with Iran harms U.S. interests in a critical region of the world and that direct dialogue with Tehran on specific areas of mutual concern should be pursued."

DIALOGUE URGED

A U.S.-Iran political dialogue should not be deferred until differences over Iran's nuclear ambitions and its involvement in regional conflicts have been resolved, the report said. "Rather, the process of selective political engagement itself represents a potentially effective path for addressing those differences" as was seen in U.S. engagement with China and the former Soviet Union. Lying "at the heart of the arc of the crisis in the Middle East," Iran has such intricate ties to Iraq and Afghanistan -- sites of major U.S. military operations -- that it is a "critical actor" in both countries' postwar evolution, the report added.

The report called Iran's nuclear ambitions "one of the most urgent issues" facing the United States. Task force members were divided on whether Tehran is fully committed to developing a nuclear weapon. But they agreed that, even while cooperating with U.N. nuclear monitors, Iran will continue "attempting to conceal the scope of its nuclear program in order to keep its options open as long as possible."

Iran hid its nuclear activities for 18 years until they were exposed by an Iranian opposition group in 2002 and then inspected by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. Tehran denies U.S. charges it is using a civilian nuclear program to conceal a covert bid for nuclear arms. Some U.S. estimates say Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2006 if no steps are taken to slow the program.

The panel rejected a "grand bargain" that would seek to settle comprehensively all U.S.-Iran conflicts, including U.S. allegations that Iran backs terrorism, undermines Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and stirs problems in Iraq.

The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic ties since the 1979 Islamic revolution when student fundamentalists held 52 American hostages for 444 days.
"

Haddad-Adel Vows To Help Solve Financial Problems Of Education Ministry

Majlis Speaker Vows To Help Solve Financial Problems Of Education Ministry


TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Majlis Speaker Gholamali Haddad-Adel said on Sunday that the parliament would contribute to removing the financial problems of the Education Ministry.

In a meeting with the heads of the Education Departments from the provinces, Haddad-Adel said that payment in the Education Ministry should not remain below that of other institutions; otherwise, efficient workforce would refrain from working for the Education Ministry which is detrimental to the level of education.

"When we expect talented students in the universities, we should know that such students should come from classrooms of the Education Ministry," the Majlis speaker said.

He said that the 20-Year Strategy for economic, social and cultural prospects of Iran focuses on providing the highest possible human resources and capability in the field of science and technology by the year 2025.

"So we need well-qualified teachers and high standard educational system to reach the target of having top human resources by the next 20 years," Haddad-Adel declared.

He criticized the fact that sometimes in the past the budget for teacher training was being spent elsewhere.

Haddad-Adel said that 83 members of parliament have formed a group to help resolve the problems of the Education Ministry.

He said that the government and parliament should work together to improve the payment system of the teachers.