Wednesday, July 28, 2004

:: Xinhuanet - English ::Israel not to stop Iran's nuke plan by military operation

:: Xinhuanet - English ::: "Israel not to stop Iran's nuke plan by military operation

www.chinaview.cn 2004-07-29 08:05:47

BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli army Chief of General Staff Moshe Yaalon says a military operation is not absolutely necessary to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities unless diplomatic efforts fail, CRIENGLISH.com reported Wednesday.
Israel's intelligence agency estimates that Iran will produce its first nuclear bomb in 2007.
Yaalon says that any Iranian nuclear weapons should not only be of concern to Israel, but also to the United States, Europe and moderate Arab countries.
Britain, France, Germany and Iran will hold high-level talks about Iran's nuclear program this week.
Iran always denies it has nuclear weapon and is just developing nuclear technology to generate electricity."

The Daily Star - Politics - Lebanese FM slams Iraqi minister's Iran remarks

The Daily Star - Politics - Lebanese FM slams Iraqi minister's Iran remarks: "Lebanese FM slams Iraqi minister's Iran remarks

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Thursday, July 29, 2004


BEIRUT: Lebanese Foreign Minister Jean Obeid criticized Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem al-Shaalan on Wednesday for remarks in which he accused Iran of seeking to "kill democracy" in Iraq.

"Any declaration about Iraq's relations with neighboring states including Iran, which gives rise to divisions, will not help achieve full sovereignty, a withdrawal of foreign troops or the restoration of security, unity and democracy in Iraq," Obeid told reporters.

"Efforts to achieve security and sovereignty in Iraq must be wisely conducted and must enjoy the support of Syria, Iran and Turkey," he said.

Obeid added that Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had made "no unfriendly sign toward Iran, nor obviously toward Turkey or Syria" during a visit to Lebanon this week.

Shaalan had told the Washington Post on Monday that he had seen "clear interference in Iraqi issues by Iran," which he claimed "interferes in order to kill democracy."

In his statements to the Post, Shaalan had accused Iran of taking over some Iraqi border posts and sending spies and saboteurs into Iraq.

He said former fighters in Afghanistan had been helped by Iran to get into Iraq and that Iran was supporting "terrorism and bringing enemies into Iraq."

Iran has consistently denied charges it has supported anti-US insurgents in Iraq, against which it fought a 1980-1988 war that killed an estimated 1 million people.

Tehran rejected Shaalan's allegations on Tuesday, describing his statements as "contrary to the official message we get from Baghdad."

"We do not consider this to be Iraq's official position," government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh told AFP.

Despite lingering suspicions on both sides of the Iran-Iraq frontier, the interim government in Baghdad has talked of the possibility of establishing diplomatic ties with its neighbor."

Latest U.S. Allegations Leave Iran In No Mood To Cooperate In War On Terror

Description of Selected News: "Latest U.S. Allegations Leave Iran In No Mood To Cooperate In War On Terror


TEHRAN (AFP) -- A senior Iranian official has accused the United States of using the war on terrorism as a political tool and says the Islamic republic as a result is in no mood to directly cooperate with Washington in the fight against Al-Qaeda.

In an interview with AFP late Tuesday, the deputy head of the Iranian parliament's influential Foreign Policy and National Security Commission also angrily rejected fresh U.S. allegations of a link between Tehran and Osama bin Laden's network.

"Iran has absolutely no link to these people responsible for the September 11 attacks," said Mohamoud Mohammadi in response to a report from the U.S. commission investigating the 2001 suicide assault.

The report released last week said some of the hijackers transited Iran prior to the attacks, and that Iran had maintained contacts with Al-Qaeda.

"Even if they did pass through Iran, it doesn't prove anything. Just because they crossed a particular country, it does not mean that country is responsible," said the deputy, formerly a senior official in the Iranian foreign ministry.

"We have never acted ambiguously with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. We have always fought against the Taliban. Al-Qaeda is a threat to us. We are being threatened by them at the moment, so we have to be cautious," asserted Mohammadi, a top member of the new conservative-controlled parliament. "This caution should not be translated as us being ambiguous," he added "In Iran there is a unified policy against Al-Qaeda, whereas in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan some elements support them."

Mohammadi said the constant stream of U.S. allegations against Iran, as well as its approach to the terrorist Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen meant Tehran was unwilling to cooperate with Washington.

"We believe the Americans are acting politically in the war against terrorism, and differentiating between different groups undermines this war," he said.

"Israeli state terrorism is acceptable. The Israeli wall is acceptable. But Palestinian kids throwing stones are treated as terrorists. And now the U.S. is using the hypocrites as a tool," he added, referring to the People's Muhjahedeen.

The People's Mujahedeen set up base in neighboring Iraq in 1986 and carried out regular cross-border raids into Iran. They are now confined by U.S. troops to a military-run camp in western Iraq.

The United States confirmed Monday it had granted protected status under the Geneva Convention to nearly 4,000 members of the group.

"We are ready to combat terrorism, but rules should be set and adhered to. Within such a framework of mutual respect we could be in one camp fighting terrorism," Mohammadi said."

Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings: Setting the Record Straight on His Mideast Newspaper Column

Setting the Record Straight on His Mideast Newspaper Column: "With 760 dead in Iraq, over 3,000 maimed for life�home folks continue to argue why we are in Iraq�and how to get out. Now everyone knows what was not the cause. Even President Bush acknowledges that Saddam Hussain had nothing to do with 9/11. Listing the 45 countries where al-Qaeda was operating on Sept. 11, the State Department did not list Iraq. They listed 45 countries and at that particular date on Sept. 11, 2001, they did not even list Iraq.
Richard Clarke, in Against All Enemies, tells how the United States had not received any threat of terrorism for 10 years from Saddam at the time of our invasion. On page 231, John McLaughlin of the CIA verifies this to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. In 1993, President Clinton responded to Saddam's attempt on the life of President George H.W. Bush by putting a missile down on Saddam�s intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. Not a big kill, but Saddam got the message�monkey around with the United States and a missile lands on his head. Of course there were no weapons of mass destruction. Israel's intelligence, Mossad, knows what's going on in Iraq. They are the best. They have to know. Israel's survival depends on knowing. Israel long since would have taken us to the weapons of mass destruction"

Trade Exchanges Between Iran and Turkey Set to Reach Five Billion Dollars

Description of Selected News: "Trade Exchanges Between Iran and Turkey Set to Reach Five Billion Dollars


TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is in Iran at the head a high politico-economic delegation conferred here Wednesday with First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Aref on expansion of mutual cooperation.

According to the Press Bureau of the presidential office, at the meeting Aref highlighted the existing capabilities and potentials of both countries and expressed the hope that exchange of visits between the two sides' high ranking officials would help further expand and deepen mutual relations in all fields with an aim of addressing the two sides' interests.

Iran attaches great importance to promotion of ties with Turkey, he said adding that if the two sides take advantage of the existing opportunities and help remove all barriers they would be able to raise the current level of trade exchange to dlrs five billion.

Increase in the level of trade exchanges between the two countries demonstrates the firm determination of Iranian officials to further broaden economic and commercial ties between the two sides, he said.

Pointing to the current level of trade exchanges in telecommunication technology, energy as well as transfer of gas, he said transfer of gas from Iran to Europe via Turkey is considered as a very significant development in the region.

He also hoped to witness further expansion of bilateral cooperation in oil, petrochemical, science and technical areas between Iran and Turkey.

Expansion of cooperation between Iran and Turkey on regional developments such as the current crisis in Afghanistan and Iraq would be to the benefit of the countries of the region, he underlined.

Cooperation among regional countries in dealing with the ongoing international developments mainly in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq as well as U.S. unilateral policy is of prime importance, he said.

Calling the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey as two very big and powerful countries of the region, he termed the two sides cooperation in expediting regional development as very significant.

Iran and Turkey have adopted very close stands on regional developments such as condemning global terrorism, he pointed out.

Iran calls for a region free from nuclear weapons as well as weapons of mass destruction, he said adding that the peaceful application of nuclear technology is the legitimate right of all countries such as Iran who has a very close cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Turkish prime minister, for his part, highlighted the two sides' historical and cultural commonalties, exchange of visits between the two sides high ranking officials in line with further deepening mutual political, economic and cultural relations.

Referring to mutual cooperation in gas and energy, transportation, infrastructure, banking and tourism fields, he called for further broadening of bilateral cooperation.

Referring to the current increase in the level of trade exchanges between the two countries, he hoped to witness further expansion of bilateral relations, exchange of views and visits between the two sides officials and the businessmen in particular.

Terrorism is considered as a serious threat to the region and the whole world, he said and underlined the need for positive cooperation in border areas and called for further expansion of security cooperation between the two sides.

Lauding Iran's membership of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he underlined the need to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and called for peaceful application of nuclear technology.

Iraq's territorial integrity should be safeguarded, he underlined and called for further expansion of cooperation between Tehran and Ankara in reconstruction of the war-shattered country as well as help with the development of Afghanistan.

He also expressed hope that current problems in Palestine would be removed and peace would be restored to the whole region.

Iran's Minister of Roads and Transportation Ahmad Khorram who was also present in the meeting gave a brief report on preparation of a draft agreement on mutual cooperation and said the current level of trade exchanges between the two countries was to reach dlrs three billion this year to dlrs five billion next year. Iran, Turkey Enjoy Similar Stances On Regional Developments: Speaker

Majlis Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said that Iran and Turkey enjoy similar stances on various regional developments including Iraq and Palestine.

In a separate meeting with Erdogan, Haddad Adel added very similar stances of Tehran and Ankara on the Iraqi development and the need to safeguard its territorial integrity would be served as the base for bilateral cooperation. Pointing to the presence of foreign forces in the region, he said, "The enemies of Islam are not still convinced of the separations created among Muslim states after World War I and are active in the region with their ominous goals." He cited fight against terrorism as among issues of concern of Iran and Turkey, saying "dominating international powers do not act honestly and wisely in fight against terrorism." The speaker assessed the Palestinian issue as among the most important issues of the Islamic world and stressed, "problems of the region will not be fundamentally solved if peace and justice are not established in Palestine." He termed the visit by the Turkish prime minister to Iran as a step to consolidate ties between the two countries and said, "Based on current realities, there are very positive grounds for expansion of relations which should be utilized in line with the two nations' national interests."

Haddad Adel said Islam is a very strong factor for consolidating friendly and brotherly bonds between the two nations and governments.

He voiced Majlis's readiness to support expansion of all-out relations between the two neighboring states particularly in parliamentary areas."

Why the US granted 'protected' status to Iranian terrorists | csmonitor.com

Why the US granted 'protected' status to Iranian terrorists | csmonitor.com: "Why the US granted 'protected' status to Iranian terrorists

By Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The US State Department officially considers a group of 3,800 Marxist Iranian rebels - who once killed several Americans and was supported by Saddam Hussein - "terrorists."
But the same group, under American guard in an Iraqi camp, was just accorded a new status by the Pentagon: "protected persons" under the Geneva Convention.

This strange twist, analysts say, underscores the divisions in Washington over US strategy in the Middle East and the war against terrorism. It's also a function of the swiftly deteriorating US-Iran dynamic, and a victory for US hawks who favor using the Mujahideen-e Khalq Organization (MKO) or "People's Holy Warriors," as a tool against Iran's clerical regime.

"How is it that [the MKO] get the Geneva Convention, and the people in Guantánamo Bay don't get it? It's a huge contradiction," says Ali Ansari, a British expert on Iran. "This will be interpreted in Iran as another link in the chain of the US determination to move onto Iran next" in the US war on terror.

For months, Tehran has quietly signaled that it would turn over high-ranking Al Qaeda members in exchange for MKO members now in Iraq. The MKO's new status likely puts an end to any such deal.

The shift also comes as momentum builds in Washington to take some action against the Islamic republic. Wednesday, it was reported that Tehran has broken United Nations inventory seals and may resume work on constructing centrifuges - the machines used for enriching uranium.

Senior European diplomats - who brokered a private deal with Iran last October that included halting suspected nuclear weapons programs, in exchange for Western nuclear power expertise - are expected to secretly meet Iranian counterparts Thursday in London or Paris to see what can be salvaged of their agreement.

"US-Iran relations are drifting into very dangerous waters at the moment," says Mr. Ansari.

Indeed, the Pentagon decision comes amid a string of critical reports about Iran that are causing some US lawmakers to wonder whether the Bush administration's action against Iraq should have been aimed instead at Iran.

But some analysts see the change as related to the US presidential election. "This whole dynamic is tied up with [US] domestic politics...and not about the MKO itself, which is not really a major threat to Iran anymore," says Mohamed Hadi Semati, a political scientist from Tehran University now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

"The neocons were losing ground, and this new Iran bashing is seen by them as an opportunity to drum up the theme of terror and the possibility of a collision with Iran - therefore, you need a very decisive leader in the White House," says Mr. Semati. "At the same time, Iran is giving a lot of ammunition to [Bush administration hawks on Iran]."

The Mujahideen is a cultish Marxist group that was ordered to leave Iraq last December by the US-appointed Iraqi leadership, which decried the "black history of this terrorist organization." The expulsion was never carried out.

A website of the National Council of Resistance of Iran - the MKO's political wing - on Sunday quoted its exiled leader Maryam Rajavi as saying the US decision was a "triumph for the Iranian Resistance and the Iranian people."

The MKO, which would like to topple the Islamic regime in Tehran, says they would establish a more democratic, secular government.

The MKO is not known to have conducted any anti-US attacks, according to the US State Department, since assassinating several Americans in the 1970s.

While hosted by Saddam Hussein in Iraq, MKO militants stood shoulder to shoulder with their hosts during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s - a choice that permanently damaged their standing among most Iranians.

In Iraq itself, the MKO played important roles in the violent suppression of Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in 1991 and 1999 - actions that still grate with Iraq's new leadership.

US forces bombed MKO camps during the Iraq invasion, then made a cease-fire deal. Last August, the US forced the MKO to close its offices in Washington.

The State Department says it does not plan take the MKO off its terrorism list. But a July 21 memo from Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the US deputy commander in Iraq, told the MKO the decision "sends a strong signal and is a powerful first step on the road to your final individual disposition," according to a copy quoted by The New York Times.

Militants in the camp signed a statement renouncing violence and terrorism. In the memo, General Miller said he was "writing to congratulate each individual living in Camp Ashraf" of their status.

Tehran, which has demanded either the prosecution of MKO members or their handover to Iran, responded angrily.

"We already knew that America was not serious in fighting terrorism," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Tuesday, adding that the US had now created a new category of "good terrorists." "The American resort to the Geneva Conventions to support the terrorist hypocrites [MKO] is naïve and unacceptable."

The changing status of the MKO is little surprise to some experts.

"The [terrorism] designation process is often hijacked for political purposes, and may shift with the wind," says Magnus Ranstorp, head of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

"Your enemy's enemy is your friend," says Mr. Ranstorp. "And certainly since the Iraq conflict, the MKO has gravitated toward a more serious category, because of political expediency."

That expediency appears to be part of a growing cascade of anti-Iran sentiment in the US that some say could eventually lead to military action. Among the signals: The Sept. 11 Commission report found that perhaps half of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Iran without having their passports stamped, though they may have crossed without official knowledge.

Some US and Iraqi officials - facing continued bloodshed and chaos in Iraq - accuse Iran of intervening to undermine the US occupation and the new "sovereign" Iraqi leadership.

Questions remain about the true intentions of Iran's nuclear power effort, which the US accuses of being a front for a weapons program. Several senior Al Qaeda members remain - in custody, according to Iranian officials - in Iran.

And Europeans - once supportive of constructive engagement with Iran - have been taken aback by Iranian waffling on nuclear inspections, the rejection of thousands of candidates from elections last February, and the spectacle of British sailors arrested last month.

In Washington earlier this month, Republican senators introduced the "Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2004," a $10 million measure to support pro-democracy groups and broadcasting. Tehran responded that "those who draft such plans lag behind the times, they live in their daydreams."

In a recent Council on Foreign Relations report, several Iran experts have called for a limited re-engagement with Iran. They say that lack of any official contact with Iran for 25 years has harmed US interests.

But British historian Ansari says, "At the moment, I would lay more blame on the Iranians, because they are in a position of strength...and should now seize the initiative and make bold and constructive suggestions." He adds, "they're not doing anything.... they are miscalculating."

Meanwhile, the MKO may have its own model to follow, and use its "protected" status as a springboard. "They are trying desperately to set themselves up as Iran's equivalent of the Iraqi National Congress," says Ansari, referring to the Iraqi opposition group led by former Pentagon favorite Ahmed Chalabi. "The Iranians will be aware that the Americans are trying to keep them as a potential INC.""

Khatami To Visit Azerbaijan

Khatami To Visit Azerbaijan: Official


BAKU (AFP) -- Iran's President Mohammad Khatami is due to travel to Azerbaijan next week, an Azeri official said Tuesday, in the first visit by an Iranian leader to the neighboring republic for more than 10 years.

Relations between the two countries have been soured by a long-running row over exploration rights in the Caspian Sea, home to some of the world's biggest untapped oil and gas reserves.

President Khatami will be arriving on August 5 for a two-day visit, Azerbaijan's ambassador to Iran, Abbasali Hasanov, told the Azeri ANS television station. No further details of the visit were released.

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic on Iran's northwestern border. Like Iran, the majority of its population are Shiite Muslims.

The last time an Iranian leader came to Azerbaijan was in 1993, when then President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani visited. But since then, promised visits have been repeatedly postponed amid disagreements.

It was widely hoped that Khatami's visit could provide a new impetus to efforts by the two countries -- along with the other three states with Caspian Sea shorelines -- to reach agreement on their maritime borders."

Turkish P.M.: Turkey And Iran Has Common Position On Terrorism

Turkish P.M.: Turkey And Iran Has Common Position On Terrorism: "Turkish P.M.: Turkey And Iran Has Common Position On Terrorism
Anadolu Agency: 7/28/2004
TEHRAN - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey and Iran had a common stance as regards the fight against terrorism.

Erdogan held today a press conference at Turkey's Embassy in Tehran and said that both Iran and Turkey had paid heavy costs due to terrorism. ''We don't want to pay more'' he added.

Asked if Iran added PKK/Kongra-Gel to its list of terrorist organizations, Erdogan said that terrorism was high on their agenda and added, ''as you know, Iran has decided to take joint action with us to counter terrorism. And, we will sign a memorandum of understanding on terrorism tomorrow (Thursday) evening.''

Erdogan said that he also discussed Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, and Cyprus issues during his meetings.

When he was recalled that Iran was shown as a common target under the Greater Middle East Initiative and asked if this issue was discussed in his meetings, Erdogan said that Turkey, Italy and Yemen were co-chairmen of this project. Erdogan noted that they would monitor progress in areas such as democracy, liberties, sovereignty and economy in Middle Eastern and North African countries within the scope of the project, and said, ''we will do our best for peace, welfare and happiness of this region.''

Answering if he made clear his views about nuclear weapons, Erdogan said, ''upon our recommendation, (Iraqi First Vice President) Aref declared that they favored to make use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes only and not for making weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, he said that his country had signed an agreement with International Atomic Energy Agency, but this agreement hadn't been approved by their parliament. He also said that they would continue their concerted efforts.''


-NATURAL GAS-

When recalled about the press reports that ''the United States has some sensitivity about the natural gas issue'', Erdogan said that his government pledged to further improve relations with neighboring countries when it came to the power.

Erdogan said, ''we haven't made any discrimination among Iran, Iraq, Syria, Caucasus, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Syria and Jordan. We will improve our relationship with all these countries, because this is the way of guaranteeing regional peace.''

''Turkey is determined to further improve its relations with neighboring countries and make joint investments with them,'' Erdogan added.

(BRC-ULG) 28.07.2004 "

Iran at the Opening of Moustar Bridge in Bosnia

Mohammad Ali Abtahi: "Opening Moustar Bridge


The following text was sent by Mr. Safdar Hosseini, the minister of economy and finance to Webnevesth.

Last week we were informed that the famous Moustar Bridge in Bosnia which was destroyed during the Bosnia war is supposed to be reopened after being repaired. And they assume it as a symbol of dialogue among civilizations. President Khatami was invited to participate in this ceremony and be their honored guest as the architecture of dialogue among civilizations. He was unable to make this trip and I did it as the president of joint commission of Iran and Bosnia.

It was a vast ceremony. There Bosnian president mentioned President Khatami officially as the person who has started talking about the idea of dialogue among civilizations in the world and that this bridge is a good sign for the dialogue among civilizations.

When the ceremony was ended, a glorious celebration was held. One of the important characteristics of this celebration was the presence of different people from diverse dresses of different countries who were presenting some arts there. This joint presence of dresses was a sign of joint presence of cultures.
I was proud of myself that the president of Iran has such a message and this idea is considered this big and important in the world. But in the news given in Iran the only thing which was not mentioned were the issue of dialogue among civilizations and the role of president Khatami.

Since I found your writing on the ceremony of dialogue among civilizations in Kazakhstan, I also dropped a few lines for the readers of webnevesht.

But unfortunately I didn?t have a digital camera mobile like you to take some nice photos for webnevesht."

Pakistan, Iran Discuss Direct Fiber Link

Pakistan, Iran Discuss Direct Fiber Link: "Pakistan, Iran Discuss Direct Fiber Link
Updated on 2004-07-28 08:18:59

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan : July 28 (PNS) - Pakistan on Tuesday said it was seeking direct fiber links with the neighboring countries and willing to establish such links with Iran on a priority basis.
Secretary Information Technology, Khalid Saeed in a meeting with Iranian delegation his ministry was offering free back-up bandwidth through satellite for call centers while centers of excellence for multimedia and graphic design for gaming and animation ndustry had also been set up.
Similarly, programs such as the training of human resources for the call centers were also under way. Dr. M. Karampour, Member of the Board, Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) is heading the delegation while other members are M. N.Yousefpour, Member of the Board, Infrastructure Company and A.M.Z. Mohtashemi, Director Planning & Engineering Affairs, Telecommunication Company (TCT) Ministry of Communication. During the meeting, Iranian delegation was briefed on telecom sector of Pakistan and the main items of discussion were international fiber optic link between Pakistan and Iran and international roaming for mobile networks.
Both sides exchanged views and noted items of further actions that may be necessary to enhance friendly cooperation between the two countries to improve telecommunication services with possibilities of meeting requirements of ECO and Central Asian States also. The discussion was very positive and forthcoming for both IT & Telecom sectors. "

IranDidban.com - Iraqi Tribes Ask for MKO's Expulsion

IranDidban.com - Iraqi Tribes Ask for MKO's Expulsion: "Iraqi Tribes Ask for MKO's Expulsion


Mehr News Agency
The heads of Iraqi tribes and political organizations issued a statement in which called MKO a terrorist organization and asked for its expulsion from Iraq.

According to Mehr News, Iraqi tribes leaders and some political officials asked for expulsion of MKO from Iraq since this group supported former Iraqi regime and took part in suppression of Kurds and Shiites' uprising in 1991.

They have condemned activities of this international murderous terrorist group and asked for its expulsion, because Mojahedin are the symbol of terrorism, activity against Islam and Satanic-designed.

It's been emphasized in the statement that Mojahedin is still continuing its terrorist and anti-Islamic activities in Iraq."

IranDidban.com - Not Dismantling MKO is Surprising

IranDidban.com - Not Dismantling MKO is Surprising: "Not Dismantling MKO is Surprising




Mahan Abedin, Middle East analyst, Financial Advisor and Jamestown's correspondent, has conducted an interview with Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and media advisor to the Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Turki al-Faisal. He was previously editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily al-Watan. The interview was conducted July 7, 2004 at the Saudi embassy in London.

In a part of this interview, Khashoggi admits that Saudi government used to support MKO financially. Meanwhile, he expresses surprise of why the US has not dismantled this group.

The following is a short part of the interview concerning Mojahedin-e Khalq. To read the full text of the interview, please click on the link at the bottom of the page.



JK: I think the Iranians need to clarify their position. The Iranians are trying to bargain.

MA: What do you mean?

JK: They are trying to play politics. They want something in return as they have so many problems with the west. I am not even sure that the Iranian government is in charge of the al-Qaeda file. After all we all know that there are competing circles of power in Iran.

MA: But what is wrong with bargaining?

JK: Nothing is wrong with that. I am just surprised why the bargaining is taking so long. We know that the Iranians want the Americans to take action against the Mjahedin-e-Khalq in Iraq.

MA: Are you referring to a deal whereby Iran would hand over senior detained al-Qaedapeople to the U.S. in return for the dismantling of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq’s organization in Iraq?

JK: I am really surprised that the Americans have not dismantled the Mojahedin-e-Khalq infrastructure in Iraq. This is really strange and the Americans need to explain their position. It is not right for any country to host its neighbour’s enemies. And we all know that the Mojahedin-e-Khalq is a particularly extreme terrorist organization and it is not right for Iraq to be hosting them. I don’t blame the Iranians for feeling frustrated on this issue.

MA: On the question of Mojahedin-e-Khalq, I have come across credible reports

indicating that the Saudi government used to give this organisation financial support back in the 1980’s.

JK: We have to put things into context here. We were at virtual war with Iran back in the 1980’s. They were working against us and therefore we were working against them. However our relations with Iran have been excellent for many years now."

IranDidban.com - MKO's Scandalous Failure

IranDidban.com - MKO's Scandalous Failure: "MKO's Scandalous Failure




Adam Ereli, State Department spokesman, in a press conference on July 26, 2004, stressed: "MKO remains a terrorist group, new designation applies to the individuals not the group, and we work on MKO members' repatriation."

Here's Q and A on Mojahedin:

QUESTION: Adam, do you know anything about the people's Mujahedin claiming to -- this might be better addressed to the Pentagon -- but claiming to have received protected status as non-combatants in Iraq. They said this on Sunday, apparently.

MR. ERELI: I do have something on that. I believe the U.S. military has confirmed that protected person status has been -- or that the 3,800 members of the MEK that are in Ashraf have been granted protected person status. I would note that this means that an individual who enjoys protected person status is entitled to protections of the Geneva Conventions. There aren't any other connotations to this designation. It's a designation, another important point to make here, it's a designation that applies to individuals and not to groups.

Moving on to the -- but I think the bigger picture is -- and in that sense, there's not a lot of change -- is that the MEK members remain as before limited to Camp Ashraf under multinational force control. The multinational force continues to ensure that the -- that the members of these groups cannot post a threat to individuals inside or outside Iraq. We are working with the international -- with the government of Iraq and international organizations to look at eventual repatriation of these individuals.

QUESTION: Well, I'm not -- I don't understand -- how does this square with the terrorism designation?

MR. ERELI: It's really unrelated to it. It's unrelated to it.

QUESTION: I mean, presumably, if these --

MR. ERELI: The point here is --

QUESTION: Well, presumably, if these people are -- this group is designated as a terrorist organization, that means that its members are, in U.S. eyes, terrorists, correct?

MR. ERELI: Let me -- let me clarify the distinction for you.

QUESTION: And if they are, why are they given -- why have they been given this status, considering that other terrorists have been treated (inaudible) much differently, as enemy noncombatants.

MR. ERELI: This status -- right. This status does not -- their status as protected persons relates to their involvement in an activity as belligerents in the conflict between the coalition and Iraq. So it was determined that they were not belligerents and therefore, as nonbelligerents, fall into this category with respect to the conflict with Iraq.

This does not relate to their membership in a terrorist organization. The MEK continues to be a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. We will continue to treat its -- treat individuals who can be determined to have been involved in terrorist incidents with the MEK consistent with the laws that apply. And in the case of the MEK members in Camp Ashraf, as you know, there was a vetting process underway to determine who, among those 3,800, might have been involved in terrorist incidents, and once those individuals have been determined, to deal with them as required by law.

So in that sense there's no -- how shall I say? There should be no conflict or confusion between the two issues.

QUESTION: All right. Well, maybe my memory is faulty but I don't -- was the MEK -- were members of the MEK actual belligerents in the war?

MR. ERELI: No, and that's what -- that's what this designation --

QUESTION: So this relates to their status as nonbelligerents?

MR. ERELI: Right. This is what this designation refers to.

QUESTION: When you talk about repatriation, are you trying to get them to go back to Iran?

MR. ERELI: That issue is still being worked on, where they would go is something that has to be settled between the government of Iraq, the MNF and eventual countries of resettlement. But, of course, it has to be voluntary, as consistent with international practice.

QUESTION: And when you're doing the vetting, are you vetting to see which of the people in Ashraf actually belongs to the Mujahedin, or are you just trying to vet what type of crime they have committed as the terrorists that you recognize they are?

MR. ERELI: My understanding is it's the latter.

QUESTION: And Iran says that the fact that you're giving these individuals protected status undermines your claim that you're fighting terrorism because it brings up a bit of contradictions that Matt was --

MR. ERELI: Right, and I tried to clarify those contradictions as saying protected status does not mean we are protecting these people. It means we are according them -- we have determined that they were not belligerents in this conflict, and we are according them the human rights protections as required by the Geneva -- consistent with the Geneva Conventions. When persons are -- when individuals are classified as protected persons, it does not in any way attenuate our actions and holding these people to account for activities that they committed as MEK members that were terrorist in nature.

QUESTION: How are their camps and how are they supervised? Are they under any kind of supervision? Is it an Iraqi supervision or a coalition supervision? That's one. And how does that relate in any way to what the Iraqi interim minister, in an interview, he said that Iran was enemy number one. So are the two related?

MR. ERELI: For logistical details on how the Camp Ashraf is run and what are the -- what are the procedures and limitations of movement and things like that, I'd refer you to the multinational force. The important point is that, a) they're disarmed; b) they are not, as I said earlier, that they are not in a position to pose a threat to individuals inside or outside Iraq. And that's the critical consideration in our view.

QUESTION: When you say disarmed are they still allowed to have rifles?

MR. ERELI: They are -- they do not pose a threat due to arms, I think is the --

QUESTION: So the tanks and stuff are in another place, but they still have firearms?

MR. ERELI: I think they've been disarmed to the extent that they cannot pose a threat. But if you ask me what -- do they have any caliber bullets, again, I'd refer you to the MNF."

Reuters | Iran may be seeking to buy "Dual Use" gas

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "

Iran said seeking nuke bomb "booster"
Wed 28 July, 2004 11:49

By Louis Charbonneau

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iranian agents are negotiating with a Russian company to buy a substance that can boost nuclear explosions in atomic weapons, according to an intelligence agency report being circulated by diplomats.

The two-page report cited "knowledgeable Russian sources" for the information, which Washington will likely point to as more proof that Tehran wants to acquire nuclear weaponry.

"Iranian middlemen ... are in the advanced stages of negotiations in Russia to buy deuterium gas," the report said.

Iran denies wanting atomic arms and says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. Deuterium is used as a tracer molecule in medicine and biochemistry and is used in heavy water reactors of the type Iran is building.

But it can also be combined with tritium and used as a "booster" in nuclear fusion bombs of the implosion type.

Envoys linked to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said buying deuterium alone was not evidence of intent to acquire a weapons capability.

They cautioned that the report appeared designed to persuade nations who are not convinced Iran wants the bomb.

The United States and others are pushing the IAEA to report Iran to the Security Council for possible punishment with economic sanctions for allegedly seeking nuclear weapons in defiance of its treaty obligations.

"Iran needs to know that they will suffer deeply if they get nuclear weapons," said the diplomat who provided the report.

France, Germany and Britain have been negotiating with Iran to persuade it to cooperate fully with IAEA inspections to allay Western doubts and are resisting referring Tehran to the UN. A further high-level meeting is expected in Paris on Thursday.

DOUBTS OVER TRANSPARENCY

It is not illegal for Iran to purchase deuterium but it should be reported to the IAEA.

Diplomats say the suspicions surrounding Iran's nuclear programme are so great that it would be wise for Tehran to exercise maximum transparency on all such "dual-use" purchases and declare them ahead of time to the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"Iran has not declared this to the IAEA. Their cover story is that they want it for civilian purposes," said the diplomat who gave Reuters the report.

The report did not name the Russian firm. Moscow has been criticised by Washington for building the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, despite U.S. concerns that it is a cover for Iran to acquire know-how and import items that can be used for bombs.

The report said purchase talks were in the final stages. It added that Iran had tried to produce deuterium-tritium gas -- with the help of Russian scientists -- but had so far failed.

The IAEA declined to comment, Iran's ambassador to the U.N. in Vienna did not return phone calls from Reuters and officials at Iran's embassy in Moscow also made no comment.

An official at Russia's Atomic Energy Agency said he had heard nothing about attempts to buy deuterium. A spokesman for Russia's nuclear watchdog, GosAtomNadzor, said the same.

"We are not aware of any such negotiations or shipments taking place," said the Russian agency official. "I am puzzled. All shipments of sensitive and dangerous gases like deuterium must be carried out with a proper licence."

The U.N. has been investigating Iran's nuclear programme for nearly two years to determine whether allegations that it has a secret atomic weapons programme are false, as Tehran insists.

While it has found many instances where Iran concealed potentially weapons-related activities, the IAEA says it has no clear evidence that Tehran is trying to build the bomb. The United States and its allies say there is sufficient evidence and the agency is being too cautious."