Sunday, August 08, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Rice Says Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Arms

The New York Times > Washington > Rice Says Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Arms: "Rice Says Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Arms
By DAVID E. SANGER

Published: August 9, 2004


ENNEBUNKPORT, Me., Aug. 8 - President Bush's national security adviser said Sunday that the United States and its allies "cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon" and warned that President Bush would "look at all the tools that are available to him" to stop Iran's program.

Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" that she expected that the International Atomic Energy Agency would make what she called "a very strong statement" in September forcing Iran to choose between isolation or the abandonment of its nuclear weapons efforts. But she stopped short of saying whether the United States could muster its allies to impose sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council.

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Until now, European powers and Russia have resisted American efforts to impose sanctions against Iran, which they see as a major trading partner.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear effort is entirely for the production of electric power, though the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency, has found evidence of covert efforts, stretching back more than 18 years, to produce highly enriched uranium suitable primarily for weapons production.

A week ago, Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, said his country would resume producing parts for centrifuges, the equipment needed to enrich uranium, because European nations had not brought the Atomic Energy Agency's investigations to a close.

President Bush, who took a brief break from his re-election campaign to attend a family wedding here and visit his parents, said nothing in public on Sunday. He attended an early-morning church service, went fishing with members of his family and flew back to Washington, letting his aides take the questions about Iraq, terrorism, Iran and North Korea.

Ms. Rice was responding to an article in The New York Times on Sunday that said the Bush administration's flurry of diplomatic efforts during the past 20 months to stop the progress of nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea had so far failed.

In a veiled reference to the Clinton administration, Ms. Rice said "these are problems that developed in 1990's." She contended that there had been "diplomatic successes" in organizing North Korea's neighbors to confront the problem and spurring action against Iran at the Vienna-based Atomic Energy Agency.

"It was, in fact, the president who really put this on the agenda in his State of the Union address, the famous 'axis of evil' address," Ms. Rice said. "And our allies have really begun to respond."

She declined to say whether the United States would support action by Israel, which says Iran's program poses a particular threat to its national security, to attack Iran's facilities the way it attacked the Osirak reactor in Iraq in 1981.

"I think that I don't want to get into hypotheticals on this," Ms. Rice said. "I do think that there are very active efforts under way, for instance, to undermine the ability of the Iranians under the cover of civilian nuclear cooperation to get the components that would help them for nuclear weapons developments."

She noted that Russia has declared that it would provide help to Iran only if it returned its nuclear fuel to Russia so it could not be diverted for weapons. "I think you cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon," she said. "The international community has got to find a way to come together and to make certain that that does not happen."

Ms. Rice's answer about Israel was particularly notable because, in the period before the war in Iraq, she and other senior administration officials said history had vindicated the Israeli raid on Osirak. Had that attack not crippled Iraq's main nuclear reactor, they argued, Saddam Hussein may have had access to nuclear weapons before the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

But it is unclear that Israel has the military capability to reach Iran's nuclear facilities, which are much farther away and well hidden among cities."

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khursheed Mahmud Kasuri will leave for Iran on a two-day visit on August 9.

Hi Pakistan: "
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khursheed Mahmud Kasuri will leave for Iran on a two-day visit on August 9.

Currently in London on a private visit, Kasuri will reach Tehran from there. Kasuri will meet his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazai and President Mohammed Khatami. Officials term the visit part of the "periodic consultations" between the two countries.

An official hoped that there would be progress on the Iranian gas pipeline project, which will stretch into Pakistan and India. "This will certainly be an important issue...and important is the fact that the new Indian government has shown more flexibility than the BJP." The official said during Kharazai’s Indian visit, the project was one of the important issues that were discussed.

The Afghan presidential elections in October would also be discussed during Kasuri’s stay in Iran.

"Both sides want to see a stable Afghanistan, and they have a common interest too in the reconstruction of Afghanistan...in the past there were differences on Pakistan’s support for the Taliban but that is no longer an irritant", said the official.

Iraq is another area where both countries agree that it would not be possible to send any Muslim troops to Baghdad unless they are under the United Nations banner. "Discussions will be held on the positions of Pakistan and other Muslim states regarding sending troops to Iraq."

Saudi Arabia, he said, had already clarified its proposition that any Muslim force was only possible after the US troops leave Iraq. The US said recently that the proposal is premature.

Pakistan is expected to express solidarity on Iran’s nuclear cooperation with the IAEA is concerned. Kasuri’s visit will give Islamabad a chance to listen and hear the latest developments that have occurred between Iran and IAEA. Indo-Pak dialogue and the continuing threat of terrorism will also form part of the foreign ministers discussion."

Iran's Population Hit 67 Million In Spring

Description of Selected News: "Iran's Population Hit 67 Million In Spring

TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Iran's population exceeded 67 million in spring, showing a 1.47 percent increase compared to the figure in the previous year, Iran's Statistic Center said.
The figures for urban and rural regions stood at over 44.771 million and 22.705 million respectively which are 66.4 percent and 33.6 percent of the country's population.
Tehran, Khorassan, Isfahan, Fars and East Azarbaijan are the most populated provinces respectively while the capital city of Tehran, with a population of over 7 million, is the country's most populated city.
Over 11.931 million people are living in Tehran province, 87 percent of whom living in urban and 23 percent of others in rural areas."

Niger Calls For Expansion Of Economic Ties With Iran

Description of Selected News: "Niger Calls For Expansion Of Economic Ties With Iran

TEHRAN (MNA) -- Niger's Foreign Minister Aichatou Mindaoudou here on Sunday called for Iran-Niger cooperation in the fields of water, health, road building and rural development. She made the remarks during her talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, IRNA reported. Alluding to her previous visit to Tehran in 2002, she said the grounds have been paved for bolstering bilateral cooperation. "The visit is taking place with an aim of pursuing and implementing the projects upon which both sides have already agreed," she added. Pointing to Iran's self-sufficiency drive, she said that the success in this regard will guarantee the Country's sovereignty. "We need to use Iranian experiences in this regard," she stated.

Kharrazi, for his part said, Iran attaches importance to bolstering ties with African countries. He referred to the Iran-Africa seminar held in March as a token of bilateral economic ties. Kharrazi reiterated that the ground has been prepared for Iranian private or state-run companies to enter the African markets. "Foreign Ministry is due to take special measures to facilitate Iranian companies' activities in African states," Kharrazi said.

He expressed African states' readiness to cooperate with Iran, saying African countries are eager to bolster their ties with Iran.
He stated that Iran would put its political, economic and social experiences at the disposal of African states, saying unity of Islamic nations call for such measures.

Mindaoudou, heading a high-ranking political delegation arrived in Tehran at the invitation of her Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi. The Republic of Niger is a land-locked country in West Africa"

Iran: US rules out nothing

Iran: US rules out nothing: "Iran: US rules out nothing
08/08/2004 20:36 - (SA)

Iran 'months' from atomic bomb

Washington - White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Sunday said the United States could not rule out taking covert action against Iran to disrupt its nuclear weapons programme.

"We will use many means to try to disrupt these programmes," Rice told NBC television. "The president will look at all the tools that are available to us."

Rice was asked about a New York Times report that quoted unnamed senior US officials as saying they were seeking to step up covert actions against Iran "to disrupt or delay as long as we can" Tehran's nuclear weapons drive.

"We are having diplomatic successes, but these are very tough problems," Rice said.

"For a long time ... we were the only who ones who seemed to think that Iran really did have an aggressive programme to try to develop nuclear weapons," she said.

"We are now getting stronger (International Atomic Energy Agency) action against them.

"We believe in September we will get a very strong statement out of the (IAEA) board that Iran will either be isolated or it will submit to the will of the international community."

US secretary of state Colin Powell said last month that it was "more and more likely" that Iran would be referred to the UN security council by the IAEA as a possible prelude to sanctions.

The United States has accused Iran of wantonly flouting international calls to curb its nuclear activities, saying Tehran is engaged in a "direct challenge" to the UN's nuclear watchdog.

Guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel

The European Union's "big three" - Britain, France and Germany - have been pressing Iran to cease working on the nuclear fuel cycle in exchange for increased trade and co-operation and the guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel from abroad.

Such work is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but fears persist that once fully mastered, a country possessing such technology can easily divert it into military usage.

Many diplomats believe that even if Iran is not working on nuclear weapons now, it would like to have the option in the future. Tehran, meanwhile, denies charges it is seeking to develop a nuclear bomb.

Iran has agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment pending the completion of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probe, but is working on other parts of the fuel cycle and has recently resumed making centrifuges used for enrichment.

Edited by Elmarie Jack"

Iran envoy is seized by Iraqi rebels

Iran envoy is seized by Iraqi rebels: "Iran envoy is seized by Iraqi rebels
Compiled by Our Staff From Dispatches AP, Reuters
Monday, August 09, 2004


BAGHDAD Militants in Iraq kidnapped an Iranian diplomat Sunday as Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, made an unannounced visit to the war-torn city of Najaf, calling on militants to lay down their weapons after days of fierce clashes with U.S. forces.

The kidnapped Iranian diplomat was identified as Faridoun Jihani, the consul to the Iraqi city of Karbala, according to video shown on the Al-Arabiya television station.

The kidnappers, who called themselves the Islamic Army in Iraq, accused Jihani of having provoked sectarian war in a country deeply divided between the resurgent Shiite Muslim majority and the traditionally dominant Sunni Muslim minority, and they warned Iran that it should not interfere in Iraq's affairs, according to Al-Arabiya.

They did not appear to threaten Jihani and made no demands, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Chalabi, a former member of the Governing Council, on counterfeiting charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday. (Page 5)

The developments came as Iraqi security forces battled guerrillas loyal to the militant Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and as Allawi met with Najaf's governor, Adnan al-Zurufi. At least two Iraqi national guardsmen were killed and 13 people were wounded during fighting in the holy Shiite city, witnesses and hospital officials said.

As part of its efforts to put down the 15-month-old insurgency, the government announced Sunday that it was reinstating the death penalty, which had been suspended during the U.S. occupation.

"The tough task in front of us in this country is maintaining security and stability, combating terror and organized crime," Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin said.

"I assure you that none of us in the government are comfortable with reinstating capital punishment."

The Iranian Embassy in Baghdad said Sunday that Jihani, the diplomat, had dropped from sight Wednesday as he was traveling from Baghdad to take up his new post of consul in Karbala.

The video from the Islamic Army in Iraq, which was reported to have killed two Pakistani hostages last month, showed a bearded man wearing a white shirt in front of a black banner bearing the group's name.

"The group also warned Iran against flagrant interference in the affairs of Iraq," the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya channel said Sunday. It did not mention any threats against the hostage.

Iraqi and U.S. officials are uneasy about attempts by Iran, a predominantly Shiite nation, to gain influence among neighboring Iraq's restive Shiites.

Many Sunni Iraqis are deeply worried about the rising power of the long-suppressed Shiite majority.

Allawi's one-hour visit to Najaf took place under heavy security, with 100 U.S. soldiers, foreign security contractors, Iraqi National Guard troops and Iraqi police officers protecting him and a delegation that included Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib, Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan and the national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie.

A government deadline for militants to withdraw from Najaf expired Saturday, but gunmen - masked, carrying automatic rifles and rocket launchers, and manning checkpoints in the old city - showed no signs Sunday of pulling out.

Sadr's organization, called the Mahdi Army, also controls the Imam Ali Shrine compound, one of the most revered sites in Shiite Islam, where the remains of Imam Ali, son-in-law and cousin of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, are buried.

"We think that those armed should leave the holy sites as well as leave their weapons and abide by the law," Allawi said. Fierce fighting between U.S. forces and the Mahdi Army raged in Najaf on Thursday and Friday and sporadic fighting continued Saturday and Sunday.

Allawi denied that the government wanted to arrest Sadr and expressed optimism that the violence would end.

"The situation will be defused soon," he said, before returning to Baghdad.

Allawi's delegation did not meet with Sadr or any of his aides, who remained defiant. "We are trying to defend our country," said an aide to Sadr in Baghdad. "We are not going to leave Najaf or any other city. The occupiers are the ones who should leave Najaf and the rest of Iraq."

Six explosions boomed across central Baghdad on Sunday, sending plumes of smoke into the air. One blast hit a truck traveling on a city-center street, setting it ablaze and causing casualties, officials said. The blast, apparently from a rocket or mortar, collapsed part of a wall of a nearby house, and there were bloodstains on the street. Shrapnel also smashed the windows of a nearby car, the seat of which was covered in blood.

The police on the scene said there were casualties but could not say how many.

In the southern city of Amarah, Sadr's militants clashed with the police in a gun battle that killed four Iraqis and wounded 23, the Health Ministry said.

Farther south in Qurnah, 380 kilometers, or 235 miles, southeast of Baghdad, gunmen ambushed a Danish patrol, a Danish military spokesman, Jan Brink, said. The Danes, who have 496 soldiers in Iraq, returned fire and withdrew, suffering no casualties, he said.

Recent clashes have threatened to revive a Shiite uprising that broke out in April and was calmed only in early June by a series of truces. The military says hundreds of militants have been killed in the latest violence, though the militiamen put the number far lower.

Allawi signed an amnesty law for minor criminals on Saturday, intended to persuade some militants to put down their weapons. On Sunday, the government announced the new death penalty, but insisted it would not be used to punish political opponents.

"This is not an open door to execute anyone and everyone, or people whom the government dislikes," Minister of State Adnan al-Janabi said. "This is not Saddam's law."

It was unclear how the new death penalty law would effect Saddam, who is awaiting trial on war crimes charges, or whether the death penalty would apply to people who had committed crimes during its suspension. (Reuters, AP)"

Iran Govt Denies Providing Missile Site for N. Korea

Iran Govt Denies Providing Missile Site for N. Korea: "Iran Govt Denies Providing Missile Site for N. Korea

Agencies, Arab News

TEHRAN, 8 August 2004 — Iran yesterday dismissed allegations it was providing test sites for North Korean long-range missiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The denial, made by Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, follows a Bush administration official’s claim Thursday that North Korea was sharing technology information with Iran, which is allegedly carrying out missile tests on the Asian nation’s behalf.

Shamkhani rejected the claim, saying, “Iran does not cooperate with North Korea in missile technology and it does not need to.” US President George W. Bush has labeled Iran and North Korea as being part of an “axis of evil”, accusing both of pursuing nuclear weapons programs.

A leading military publication, Jane’s Defense Weekly, reported recently that North Korea was developing two new ballistic missile systems that have “appreciably expanded the ballistic-missile threat.”

Shamkhani said Iran is developing its Shahab-3 missile as a measure against Israel’s missile power, which Tehran concluded tests of last year. The missile is thought to be capable of carrying a 1,000-kilogram warhead over a distance of some 1,300 kilometers, allegedly bringing archenemy Israel within missile range.

While Shamkhani denied any kind of nuclear military activity by Iran, he said his country would not leave its people without defense. “That’s why we have to invest on nuclear defense preparation,” he added without elaborating. Washington is working with South Korea, Japan, China and Russia to negotiate an agreement with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program. With Iran, the White House has been trying to haul Tehran before the United Nations Security Council based on accusations that the Persian state has been trying to build nuclear weapons against its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, geared toward production of nuclear energy. A senior Iranian official again insisted in remarks published yesterday that Tehran would not give up its right to produce its own nuclear fuel, which other countries fear will be diverted to military purposes.

“That is something that Iran will not accept and Iran strongly resisted it in negotiations in Paris” with European states last month, Hossein Moussavian, was quoted as saying by the Tehran Times. Moussavian said the talks on July 29 and 30 “had reached a very complicated and difficult stage” but added that “the negotiators are determined to continue their talks.”

The Europeans had told Iran “we recognize your right to possess peaceful (nuclear technology) and we give an international guarantee to provide you with nuclear fuel and facilitate your efforts to gain access to nuclear technology,” he said. But they had added that “since the fuel cycle in Iran may be diverted toward a nuclear weapons program in the future, we want you to relinquish it as a confidence building measure.”

This was unacceptable to Tehran, Moussavian said. On Wednesday Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi asserted the Islamic republic had a “legitimate right” to enrich uranium, the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle that the country is under pressure to abandon. “We will lobby for our rights in the international community to deal with the negative atmosphere our enemies have created against Iran,” Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

“We will never allow the enemy to trample upon our legitimate rights enshrined in the international conventions,” he added. The European Union’s “big three” — Britain, France and Germany — have been pressing Iran to cease working on the nuclear fuel cycle in exchange for increased trade and cooperation and the guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel from abroad.

Meanwhile, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday condemned the new wave of violence in Iraq, especially in the Shi'i holy city of Najaf, comparing US forces to “a wolf caught in a trap.”

“The United States has reached a dead-end in Iraq and is acting like a wolf caught in a trap, trying to terrify some by either brawling or showing its claws, but the Iraqis’ will and determination will not let the US gulp down a big morsel such as Iraq,” he was quoted on student news agency ISNA.

Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami also condemned the new wave of violence in various Iraqi cities as “utterly unacceptable, especially acting aggressively against holy sites such as Najaf (and) widening the chasm between Iraqis and the occupiers.”

“I do not think that the occupiers would solve their problems by implementing such measures,” he added on his return from a three-day visit to neighboring Azerbaijan. "

Iran Issues New Iraq Travel Warning For Pilgrims

Iran Issues New Iraq Travel Warning For Pilgrims: "Iran Issues New Iraq Travel Warning For Pilgrims
AFP: 8/8/2004
TEHRAN, Aug 8 (AFP) - Iran issued a fresh warning to its nationals Sunday not to travel on pilgrimages to Shiite Muslim shrines in neighbouring Iraq, and appealed to Iraq to stop issuing them visas.
Iran's deputy interior minister in charge of security affairs, Ali Asghar Ahmadi, told state television the call was made 'due to the adverse domestic situation in Iraq.'
The report said the interior ministry had also asked the Iraqi diplomatic mission here to annul existing pilgrimage visas.
Six of the 12 imams revered in the Shiite branch of Islam dominant in Iran are buried in Iraq, where Shiites also make up the majority of the population.
One of the most popular destinations is the shrine of the father of Shiite Islam, Imam Ali, in Najaf. The central city is currently the scene of heavy fighting between militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and US-led forces.
Since the ouster of Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein in April last year, thousands of Iranian pilgrims have made the journey illegally, despite a growing death toll from landmines and bandits and the risk of arrest by US forces on the look-out for infiltrators.
Pilgrimages to Iraq's holy Shiite places were halted throughout the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and only resumed in very limited numbers at the end of the 1990s. "

NEWS.com.au | Iran confirms diplomat kidnapped (August 9, 2004)

NEWS.com.au | Iran confirms diplomat kidnapped (August 9, 2004): "Iran confirms diplomat kidnapped
From correspondents in Baghdad
August 9, 2004

THE Iranian embassy in Baghdad confirmed today that one of its diplomats due to open a consulate in the central Iraqi city of Karbala had been kidnapped.

Fereydun Jahani disappeared last Wednesday as he was travelling to the central Iraqi city of Karbala to open an Iranian consulate following an agreement to do so by the Iraqi interim government, charge d'affaires Hassan Kazemi Ghomi told AFP.
'We asked the coalition and Iraqi police if they knew what happened, but they said they hadn't arrested him,' Mr Ghomi said.
A group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq announced earlier it had 'detained' Jahani for 'stirring sectarian strife and for activities outside his diplomatic duties', Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television reported.
Pictures were shown of the diplomat's passport, identity and business cards along with what appeared to be footage of him speaking, without sound, against a black backdrop. "

'Gholam shire'i' Calls on Journalists to Defend Mullahs' Version of Truth

Persian Journal Iran News - Latest Iran News, news Tehran Iranian News persian news web site sport irani news iranians site farsi women sport woman, newspaper football: "'Gholam shire'i' Calls on Journalists to Defend Mullahs' Version of Truth

The Majlis Spokesperson addressed an open session of the Majlis here yesterday. During this session, Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel also known as 'Gholam Shire'i' in majlis expressed the hope that all journalists will stand ready to defend truth and will have the freedom to do so.

He expressed outrage at the recent sacrilege of Muslim holy sites by coalition forces in Iraq and expressed hope the fighting would end and the Iraqi people would witness peace and stability in their country. As to the continued problems facing Iran, he believes these problems can only be solved through better cooperation between the Majlis and the executive branch.

Gholam Shire'i also paid tribute to Mahmoud Saremi who, along with eight Iranian diplomats, was assassinated in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan when Taliban militia attacked the building housing the Iranian consulate on August 8, 1998. The day has since been annually observed as 'national Journalists' Day in Iran. "

ABCNEWS.com : Iran Diplomat Reportedly Kidnapped in Iraq

ABCNEWS.com : Iran Diplomat Reportedly Kidnapped in Iraq: "Iran Diplomat Reportedly Kidnapped in Iraq
Militants in Iraq Claim They've Taken Top Iran Diplomat Hostage; Iran Calls Diplomat 'Missing'

BAGHDAD, Iraq Aug. 8, 2004 — Militants in Iraq said Sunday they took a top Iranian diplomat hostage, according to a video shown on the Arab-language Al-Arabiya television station.

The video showed a bearded man identified as Faridoun Jihani speaking to the camera, though his voice was inaudible. The video also showed nine forms of Jihani's identification, as well as his passport and a business card identifying him as the "consul for the Islamic Republic of Iran in Karbala," a southern Iraqi city. The kidnappers, calling themselves the "Islamic Army in Iraq," accused Jihani of provoking sectarian war in Iraq and warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq's affairs, according to Al-Arabiya. The kidnappers did not voice any threats to kill Jihani and made no demands, according to the report.

In Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Jihani was missing, but it stopped short of confirming he was kidnapped. Jihani "disappeared Wednesday night on the road from Baghdad to Karbala," a Shiite holy city 50 miles south of the capital, the ministry said in a statement. "After he failed to reach Karbala, all efforts to find his whereabouts failed," it said.

Iran, a Shiite Muslim country with close ties to Iraq's majority Shiite population, is believed to have used money and intelligence but not weapons to influence its western neighbor. It is accused of funding Shiite political parties in a bid to influence the planned January elections while avoiding a direct confrontation with longtime rival the United States. Tehran denies interfering in Iraq, including by allowing money transfers. It rejects U.S. claims that it allows fighters to cross into Iraq, but it does not rule out that fighters might cross the long border illegally.

Jihani would be the second senior diplomat taken hostage in Iraq in recent weeks. Mohammed Mamdouh Helmi Qutb, an Egyptian diplomat, was abducted July 23 outside a mosque in Baghdad and freed unharmed July 26. More than 70 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq in recent months in an effort by insurgents to force coalition members to withdraw forces and to pressure trucking companies supporting coalition troops to stop doing business here."

Aljazeera.Net - Iran-Iraq ties strain further

Aljazeera.Net - Iran-Iraq ties strain further: "Iran-Iraq ties strain further

Asefi says Iran is not interfering in Iraq's affairs

Relations between Iran and Iraq have worsened after Tehran said it would not discuss serious issues with Baghdad's interim authorities and an Iraqi Islamic group kidnapped an Iranian diplomat.


Iran's foreign ministry said on Sunday it was summoning Iraq's top diplomat in Tehran over claims that four Iranian spies have been arrested in Baghdad, the latest accusation of Iranian interference in its nieghbour's affairs. "Today we are going to summon the Iraqi charge d'affaires to the Iranian foreign ministry, and we are going to ask him to give us proof," spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. He added Iraqi officials should also "stop creating a bad atmosphere" between Iran and Iraq.

On Saturday a spokesman for the Iraqi interior ministry said four Iranian intelligence officers had been arrested by Iraqi authorities on suspicion of spying and carrying out acts of sabotage in the country. Asefi also snubbed a call from Iraq's interim Defence Minister Hazem al-Shaalan, who has been widely lambasted in the Iranian press, that Tehran immediately return Iraqi planes sent to Iran before or during the 1991 Gulf War.

Iranian snub

"We will discuss these (issues) with the coming elected government officials, and not with the interim government," Asefi said in a blunt snub. Iran has yet to formally recognise the Iraqi interim government, which has been described by Iranian supreme leader Ayat Allah Ali Khamenei as "lackeys" of the Americans. "We are hopeful that in the future we will not witness such irresponsible comments. The Iraqis should be vigilant. Iraq should not be the place for crisis building"

Al-Shaalan said in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Anbaa that Iran should send back 130 planes "now". Tehran has insisted that it was holding only 22 Iraqi planes which Saddam Hussein's government sent to Iran to avoid attacks by US-led forces in Kuwait and that it was ready to return them if asked by the United Nations.

Relations have also been complicated by the apparent kidnapping of an Iranian diplomat due to open a consulate in the central Iraqi city of Karbala.

'Sectarian strife'

Iran's charge d'affaires in Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Ghomi, said Fereydun Jahani disappeared on Wednesday, after a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq announced it had "detained" him for "stirring sectarian strife and for activities outside his diplomatic duties".

Tensions between Iraq and Iran have mounted in recent weeks, after al-Shaalan told The Washington Post he had seen "clear interference in Iraqi issues by Iran", and accused Tehran of taking over some Iraqi border posts and sending spies and saboteurs into Iraq.

Iyad Alawi has yet to visit Tehran

He also alleged that Tehran was working "to kill democracy" in his country. But Asefi said Iran wanted to hear from Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi "that what the Iraqi defence minister said has been manipulated and it was not like that". "We are hopeful that in the future we will not witness such irresponsible comments. The Iraqis should be vigilant. Iraq should not be the place for crisis building," Asefi said.

Iran-Iraq war

"We have announced one too many times that we are not interfering in Iraq. We are looking forward to the security and stability of Iraq," he added.

Ties have also been strained over Saddam's trial, with Iran complaining that his alleged use of chemical weapons against the Islamic republic during their 1980-88 war was left off the charge sheet.

In addition, Iran wants the issue of war reparations to be addressed. And Tehran has also voiced alarm over the reported presence of Israeli agents in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.

Iraq's prime minister has previously announced his intention to visit Iran, but has yet to receive an official invitation. Asefi only said a visit "was on the agenda". "But we are not going to send a delegation there" to invite him, the spokesman added."

Israel News : Rice: World cannot accept nuclear armed Iran

Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition: "

Rice: World cannot accept nuclear armed Iran
By JPOST.COM STAFF
With Iran stepping up its nuclear program, a top White House aide said Sunday the world finally is "worried and suspicious" over the Iranians' intentions and is determined not to let Tehran produce a nuclear weapon.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice also said the Bush administration sees a new international willingness to act against Iran's nuclear program. She credited the changed attitude to the Americans' insistence that Iran's effort put the world in peril.

She would not say whether the United States would act alone to end the program if the administration could not win international support.

Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, announced a week ago that his country had resumed building nuclear centrifuges. He said Iran was retaliating for the West's failure to force the UN nuclear watchdog agency to close its file on possible Iranian violations of nuclear nonproliferation rules.

Kharrazi said Iran was not resuming enrichment of uranium, which requires a centrifuge. But, he said, Iran had restarted manufacturing the device because Britain, Germany and France had not stopped the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The United States was the first to say that Iran was a threat in this way, to try and convince the international community that Iran was trying, under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, to actually bring about a nuclear weapons program," Rice said on CNN's Late Edition.

"I think we've finally now got the world community to a place, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to a place, that it is worried and suspicious of the Iranian activities," she said. "Iran is facing for the first time real resistance to trying to take these steps."

Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union address, included Iran with North Korea and Iraq in an "axis of evil" dedicated to developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

Since then, North Korea has publicly resumed its nuclear development program. In Iraq, invading US-led forces have found no such programs after President Saddam Hussein was deposed.

Iran announced in June that it would resume its centrifuge program. Afterward, the US official whose job is to slow the global atomic arms race, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, told Congress that Iran was jabbing "a thumb in the eye of the international community."

On NBC's Meet the Press, Rice reasserted that the world has fallen in line on Iran and said she expects next month to get a very strong statement from the IAEA "that Iran will either be isolated, or it will submit to the will of the international community."

She also said, "We cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon. The international community has got to find a way to come together and to make certain that that does not happen."

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said in an interview with Channel two weeks ago that Israel shouldn't ignore the threat from Iran.

'In the past two weeks, Iran has broken the rules of the game regarding its monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency and resumed operating the [nuclear] project,' the IDF chief said."

WTOPNEWS.com: Iranian Diplomat Reportedly Held in Iraq

WTOPNEWS.com: "Iranian Diplomat Reportedly Held in Iraq
Updated: Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004 - 9:58 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Militants in Iraq said Sunday they had taken a top Iranian diplomat hostage, according to video shown on the Arab-language Al-Arabiya television station.
The video showed a bearded man identified as Faridoun Jihani speaking to the camera, though his voice was not audible. The video also showed nine forms of his identification, as well as his passport and a business card identifying him as the 'consul for the Islamic Republic of Iran in Karbala,' a southern Iraqi city.
The kidnappers, who called themselves the 'Islamic Army in Iraq,' accused Jihani of provoking sectarian war in Iraq and they warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq's affairs, according to Al-Arabiya.
The kidnappers did not appear to threaten Jihani and made no demands, according to the report.
Jihani would be the second senior diplomat taken hostage in Iraq in recent weeks. Mohammed Mamdouh Helmi Qutb, an Egyptian diplomat, was abducted July 23 outside a mosque in Baghdad and freed unharmed July 26."

Franks emerges from retirement with new book

Franks emerges from retirement with new book: "Franks emerges from retirement with new book
August 8, 2004

Gen. Tommy Franks is coming to town -- in a flurry of controversy.
The retired boss of U.S. Central Command and the chief architect of both the Afghanistan and Iraq military campaigns has just published American Soldier (ReganBooks, $27.95), and it is striking sparks inside the Beltway. He criticizes Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld's management style, attacks Rumsfeld aide Douglas Feith 'as getting a reputation around here as the dumbest guy on the planet' and delivers lesser thumps to fellow Rumsfeld aide Paul Wolfowitz, Sec. of State Colin Powell and Deputy Sec. of State Richard Armitage.
Moreover, he admits that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and says the 'mission accomplished' idea that resulted in George W. Bush's aircraft carrier landing was his. He also dismisses the popular notion that Osama bin Laden is a coward, warning that this is one enemy who should never be underestimated.
Gen. Franks will discuss and sign the book at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at Borders, 1500 16th, Oak Brook. "

:: Xinhuanet - Tehran to invite Allawi to visit Iran

:: Xinhuanet - English ::: "Tehran to invite Allawi to visit Iran

www.chinaview.cn 2004-08-08 19:09:59

TEHRAN, Aug. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran has the intention to invite Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to visit the country, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said Sunday.

'The Foreign Ministry is preparing an invitation letter for Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to visit Iran,' Asefi said at his weekly press briefing. But the spokesman did not give any specific date for Allawi's possible visit.

The relationship between Iran and Iraq has been complicated with a lot of disputes concerning territory and religion.

The two countries fought an eight-year war from 1980 to 1988, killing an estimated 1 million people and causing an economic loss of some 540 billion US dollars.

Since the end of the war, Baghdad has regularly reported attacks and acts of sabotage on its territory, attributing them to Tehran or 'Iranian agents'.

For its part, Iran blames the regime of Saddam Hussein for hosting its outlawed People's Mujaheedin.

After the downfall of Saddam, Iraq has accused Iran of interfering into its internal affairs, especially influencing its Shiite Muslims, 60 percent of its total population, an allegation denied by Tehran. "