Saturday, August 28, 2004

CTV.ca | Israel denying charges of spying on the U.S.

CTV.ca | Israel denying charges of spying on the U.S.: "Israel denying charges of spying on the U.S.
CTV.ca News Staff

Israel is denying allegations that it spied on the United States to obtain information on Iran's nuclear program.

David Siegel, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, called the allegations "completely false and outrageous."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also said his country had no involvement in the case.

Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says that his country is not spying on its closest ally, in spite of concerns over Iran's nuclear development.

"Israel is very concerned ... that the ayatollahs will acquire nuclear weapons because this is an unpredictable regime with close network to terror organizations around the world," he said.

"But if you think this might change our previous decision to spy on the U.S., the answer is no."

Israel put a ban on espionage against the U.S. government or within the United States. That decision was taken in the wake of the Jonathan Pollard case, a U.S. naval intelligence officer convicted of espionage in 1986 and sentenced to life in prison. He had leaked classified material to Israel.

The White House responded cautiously on Saturday to the report. "Any time there is an allegation of this nature, it is a serious matter," said Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman.

U.S. President George W. Bush is known to be a strong supporter of Israel. He didn't personally say anything about the allegations while campaigning in Ohio on Saturday.

According to an Associated Press report on Saturday, the material leaked didn't detail U.S. military or intelligence operations, wouldn't have endangered the lives of U.S. operatives overseas or reveal any intelligence-gathering techniques.

As a result, the prosecutors were weighing whether to charge the suspect with espionage or a lesser offence.

Officials also said the investigation is not yet complete and it was possible others might be implicated in the affair.

The allegations

CBS News reported Friday -- with other reports confirming it -- that the FBI believes an official operating at the very highest level of the Pentagon has being leaking information to Israel.

It has been investigating into the potential espionage for about a year.

U.S. officials refused to name the suspect, but said the person is an analyst in the office of Douglas Feith. He is undersecretary of defense for policy and the number-three official in the Pentagon.

Feith is known for having close ties with Israel. He prepared a policy paper for former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before Netanyahu's election in 1996, and is a former law partner of Israeli-American attorney Marc Zell.

CBS News said it was told of wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photographic evidence documenting the passing of evidence from the spy to two people who work for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

That group is considered to be a very powerful pro-Israel lobby group in Washington.

Those two individuals in turn passed the intelligence on to the Israelis, the network said.

CBS said according to its sources, the suspected spy handed over a presidential directive on Iran while it was still in the draft phase. The sources said this put Israel "inside the decision-making loop" and could help them influence the eventual outcome.

In a statement issued Friday, the U.S. Defense Department said the case involved someone at the "desk officer level, who was not in a position to have significant influence over U.S. policy. Nor could a foreign power be in a position to influence U.S. policy through this individual."

According to The Associated Press, the individual in question was in the news last year when it was disclosed he and a Pentagon colleague had met two years before with an Iranian who was involved in the Iran-Contra affair.

Israel and Iran

Relations between Israel and Iran, a fundamentalist Islamic state, continue to be strained.
Israel has long been fearful of Iran's nuclear program, including the possibility it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Israeli officials have hinted of possible strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. Israeli warplanes destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981.

Iran has said it would destroy Israel's Dimona reactor if Israel carried out the threat.
There has reportedly been some debate within the Bush administration on how hard a line to take against Iran, which Bush once described as part of an "axis of evil."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has pushed the U.S. to adopt the hardline approach.
Besides Iran, investigators are also wondering if the Israelis used the mole to help influence U.S. policy on the Iraq war.

The U.S. government told AIPAC it wants information about the two employees and their contacts with the Pentagon staffer.

AIPAC told CBS it is co-operating but denies any wrongdoing by either the organization or any of its employees. AIPAC has also hired outside counsel."

Iran wants calm in Iraq

Iran wants calm in Iraq: "Iran wants calm in Iraq
28/08/2004 18:18 - (SA)

Tehran - President Mohammad Khatami asserted on Saturday that Iran was not stirring violence in Iraq even though he acknowledged that relations with the United States were at a low point.

"The policy of Iran is to solve the problems of Iraq. We want calm in that country.

"We have problems with the United States, but we will never impose these problems on Iraqis," he said in a press conference.

"Despite the unfriendly comments by some members of the Iraqi government and senseless comments, we have recognised the formation of this government as a steps towards establishing democracy," he added.

"Despite the arrests of pilgrims and the accusations against them," he went on to say, Iran was adopting a policy of restraint "to avoid additional problems in Iraq".

"Today even the Americans know that without our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq they cannot do anything," the president said, without elaborating.

Iran and the United States cut off diplomatic relations in 1980.

In January last year, US President George W Bush lumped the Islamic republic into an "axis of evil" due to its alleged support of terrorism and quest for weapons of destruction.

Members of the Iraqi interim government have also echoed allegations from Washington that Iran is supporting insurgents in Iraq.

But when asked if he had a preference for US President George W Bush or his Democratic Party challenger John Kerry, Khatami only replied that "the policy of the United States towards Iran over the past 26 years has always been bad".

"But the wall of mistrust between the two countries has never been higher since the arrival in power of the (Bush administration) neo-conservatives who have enflamed the world with their policies," he added.

According to Khatami, US policy towards Iran "never stops getting worse".

"We hope the Americans will prevent the adventurism of their leaders. The problem is not changing the men, but changing the policies.

"The United States wants Iran to sit down at the negotiating table in the position of the accused, but no independent country in the world would accept such a thing," Khatami asserted.

Edited by Elmarie Jack"

KR Washington Bureau | 08/28/2004 | FBI espionage probe goes beyond Israeli allegations, sources say

KR Washington Bureau | 08/28/2004 | FBI espionage probe goes beyond Israeli allegations, sources say: "FBI espionage probe goes beyond Israeli allegations, sources say

By Warren P. Strobel

Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - An FBI probe into the handling of highly classified material by Pentagon civilians is broader than previously reported, and goes well beyond allegations that a single mid-level analyst gave a top-secret Iran policy document to Israel, three sources familiar with the investigation said Saturday. The probe, which has been going on for more than two years, also has focused on other civilians in the Secretary of Defense's office, said the sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified, but who have first-hand knowledge of the subject.


In addition, one said, FBI investigators in recent weeks have conducted interviews to determine whether Pentagon officials gave highly classified U.S. intelligence to a leading Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, which may in turn have passed it on to Iran. INC leader Ahmed Chalabi has denied his group was involved in any wrongdoing.


The linkage, if any, between the two leak investigations, remains unclear. But they both center on the office of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official. Feith's office, which oversees policy matters, has been the source of numerous controversies over the last three years. His office had close ties to Chalabi and was responsible for post-war Iraq planning that the administration has now acknowledged was inadequate. Before the war, Feith and his aides pushed the now-discredited theory that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaida.


No one is known to have been charged with any wrongdoing in the current investigation. Officials cautioned that it could result in charges of mishandling classified information, rather than the more serious charge of espionage. The Israeli government on Saturday strenuously denied it had spied on the United States, its main benefactor on the global scene. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby that top officials said is suspected of serving as a conduit to Israel for the mid-level analyst, also has denied any wrongdoing.


That analyst, Larry Franklin, works for Feith's deputy, William Luti, and served as an important - albeit low-profile - advisor on Iran issues to Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Franklin, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who lives in West Virginia, could not be reached for comment Saturday. Investigators are said to be looking at whether Franklin acted with authorization from his superiors, one official said.


Two sources disclosed Saturday that the information believed to have been passed to Israel was the draft of a top-secret presidential order on Iran policy, known as a National Security Presidential Directive. Because of disagreements over Iran policy among President Bush's advisors, the document is not believed to have ever been completed.


Having a draft of the document - which some Pentagon officials may have believed was insufficiently tough toward Iran - would have allowed Israel to influence U.S. policy while it was still being made. Iran is among Israel's main security concerns.


Two or three staff members of AIPAC have been interviewed in connection with the case. In a prepared statement, AIPAC said any allegation of criminal conduct was "false and baseless." It is "cooperating fully," with investigators, AIPAC's statement said.


Israeli officials insisted they stopped spying on the United States after the exposure of Jonathan Pollard, who was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison for spying for Israel.


White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to discuss the continuing investigation.


"Obviously any time there is an allegation of this nature, it's a serious matter," he told reporters traveling with Bush in Ohio.


In a statement issued late Friday, the Pentagon said it "has been cooperating with the Department of Justice on this matter for an extended period of time. It is the DoD (Department of Defense) understanding that the investigation within the DoD is limited in its scope."


But other sources said the FBI investigation is more wide-ranging than initial news reports suggested. They said it has involved interviews of current and former officials at the White House, Pentagon and State Department. Investigators have asked about the security practices of several other Defense Department civilians, they said. Franklin's name surfaced in news reports last year when it became known that he and another Pentagon Middle East specialist, Harold Rhode, met in late 2001 with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms merchant who played a role in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said publicly last year that nothing came of the meeting, which reportedly was brokered by former National Security Council official Michael Ledeen.


Rhode could not be reached for comment Saturday.


Feith has long been close to Israel. In 2000, he helped author a paper, "A Clean Break," that advised incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to adopt a much tougher approach to the Palestinians and Israel's Arab neighbors.


A former Feith employee, Karen Kwiatkowski, has described how senior Israeli military officers were sometimes escorted to his Pentagon office without signing in as security regulations required."

Campaign against terrorism meant to increase global hegemony: Majlis speaker

Description of Selected News: "Campaign against terrorism meant to increase global hegemony: Majlis speaker

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) -- Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel said here Saturday that foreigners’ rhetoric about a campaign against terrorism is only an excuse to increase their global hegemony, as is evident from their military presence in Africa and Iraq.

Speaking in a meeting with the chairman of the National Defense and Foreign Policy Committee of Ethiopia's Parliamentary Assembly, Haile Kiros Gessesse, he pointed out that the Iraq experience has shown that the occupying forces have brought something to the region more terrible than terrorism.

He added that Iran has prioritized the expansion of relations with countries with ancient cultures like Ethiopia.

He also opined that the prospects are good for increased Iran-Ethiopia cooperation.

The Ethiopian lawmaker, for his part, stated that terrorism tends to become internationalized and grow wherever there is fertile ground.

Gessesse also hailed the strong determination of the Iranian people and authorities to overcome the economic problems of the country.

Ethiopia's culture and traditions have been influenced by Iran's rich culture, he said, adding that there is great potential to promote bilateral relations due to the cultural and political affinities between Iran and Ethiopia.

In the meeting, the Ethiopian MP called on Iran's Majlis to redouble efforts to expand Tehran-Addis Ababa relations."

ABCNEWS.com : Iran Ready to Provide Nuke 'Guarantees'

ABCNEWS.com : Iran Ready to Provide Nuke 'Guarantees': "

(AP Photo) Iran Ready to Provide Nuke 'Guarantees'
President Mohammad Khatami Says Iran Is Ready to Provide Nuclear 'Guarantees'

TEHRAN, Iran Aug. 28, 2004 � Iran is ready to provide 'guarantees' it won't seek nuclear weapons, President Mohammad Khatami said Saturday, urging the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency to close its investigation into the country's program when it meets next month.
The United States, which says Iran is trying to develop weapons, is pushing the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Tehran to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions. The IAEA has already sharply criticised Iran for not coming clean about its nuclear program, and European countries have increasingly expressed concern.

But Khatami urged the agency to resist U.S. pressure, saying any concerns over a program Iran insists aims only to produce energy can be cleared up.
'I hope we will go one step forward, away from political pressures, when the agency meets in September. Iran has taken steps toward building greater confidence and many of the problems that existed has been removed,' Khatami told a press conference in Tehran.
'We are ready to do everything necessary to give guarantees that we won't seek nuclear weapons,' Khatami said. 'As Muslims, we can't use nuclear weapons. One who can't use nuclear weapons won't produce them.'
He did not elaborate on the kinds of guarantees his country was willing to give. Iran has allowed international inspections of its nuclear facilities and military sites.
Tehran has made such an offer before, but this is the first time the government has said so publicly it would provide guarantees to ease internationa"

Hi Pakistan

Hi Pakistan: "Sistani returns like Khomeini: Rafsanjani


TEHRAN: A top Iranian cleric on Friday likened Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's return to Iraq to end the stand-off in Najaf with the 1979 home-coming of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which swept aside the US-backed shah. Influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshippers at Friday prayers at Tehran University both cases showed Islam's "great power".

"Sistani's brave return to Najaf which ended the crisis is similar to our leader's return to Iran which ended the shah's rule," Rafsanjani said. Sistani, Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, returned from Britain to be swept into the battered city of Najaf by thousands of followers and on Thursday persuaded radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia to leave a shrine and end a three-week uprising that has killed hundreds.

Khomeini made a triumphant return to Iran from exile in France in 1979 to be greeted by a sea of people and take charge of a popular revolution that overthrew the shah and overturned decades of powerful US influence on the ancient country. Rafsanjani, a key adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's most powerful figure, praised Sistani's "brave return", but he also hailed Sadr's Shi'ite Muslim militia for rising up against the US occupation.

"The heroic young people's 21 days of resistance with their bare hands and Sistani's political measures to end the crisis, both are popular and show the power of Islam's devotees." In remarks broadcast live on state radio, Rafsanjani accused the United States of igniting the uprising in Najaf. "It was widely pre-planned by Americans who wanted to intimidate their enemies," he said. "But it gave the opposite result.

They failed and suffered." Sadr met Rafsanjani in Iran last year at a memorial service for Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic. Shi'ite Muslim Iran opposed the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, despite its hatred of the former Iraqi leader, and has been incensed by US attacks on Shi'ite militia in Najaf.

Rafsanjani said the actions of the US military in Iraq would feed Muslim hatred against the United States and called on Washington to adopt "peaceful and rational methods". "By adopting rational methods there will be no more al Qaeda, Taliban, explosions or September 11 attacks," he said. "Your irrational and oppressive measures, naturally outrages some people who strongly confront you," Rafsanjani said."

Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari proposes Int'l Trade Ministry

IranMania News: "Int'l Trade Ministry proposed



LONDON, August 28 (IranMania) - Iran's Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari on Friday proposed the establishment of a Ministry for regulating international economic relations in an effort to harmonize the government's economic activities.
The Minister told ISNA that the Commerce Ministry has not yet put forward the proposal officially, stressing that greater harmony is required among the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, the Central Bank of Iran, the State Management and Planning Organization and the Commerce Ministry--which handle most of the country's official economic affairs.
Shariatmadari further noted that the new Ministry could be made up of the Customs Administration, the Foreign Investment Organization, the Trade Development Organization, the Export Guarantee Fund and the Iran Carpet Center.
He predicted that the government's administrative structures would undergo major changes after moderate President Mohammad Khatami's second and last term end next year.
He said the Commerce Ministry has tried its best in the past four years to ameliorate its administrative system and reduce state monopoly on the national economy.
'We have taken positive steps towards reducing the Commerce Ministry staff and reforming the administrative and managerial structures,' he maintained, stressing that the Ministry has managed to make vital decisions regarding supply of the people's basic necessities and improving the procedure of granting state subsidies for basic commodities. "

Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari proposesInt'l Trade Ministry

IranMania News: "Int'l Trade Ministry proposed



LONDON, August 28 (IranMania) - Iran's Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari on Friday proposed the establishment of a Ministry for regulating international economic relations in an effort to harmonize the government's economic activities.
The Minister told ISNA that the Commerce Ministry has not yet put forward the proposal officially, stressing that greater harmony is required among the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, the Central Bank of Iran, the State Management and Planning Organization and the Commerce Ministry--which handle most of the country's official economic affairs.
Shariatmadari further noted that the new Ministry could be made up of the Customs Administration, the Foreign Investment Organization, the Trade Development Organization, the Export Guarantee Fund and the Iran Carpet Center.
He predicted that the government's administrative structures would undergo major changes after moderate President Mohammad Khatami's second and last term end next year.
He said the Commerce Ministry has tried its best in the past four years to ameliorate its administrative system and reduce state monopoly on the national economy.
'We have taken positive steps towards reducing the Commerce Ministry staff and reforming the administrative and managerial structures,' he maintained, stressing that the Ministry has managed to make vital decisions regarding supply of the people's basic necessities and improving the procedure of granting state subsidies for basic commodities. "

Iraq seeks to mend relations with Iran. 28/08/2004. ABC News Online

Iraq seeks to mend relations with Iran. 28/08/2004. ABC News Online: "Iraq seeks to mend relations with Iran

Iraq is stepping up efforts to improve relations with neighbouring Iran, which has been highly critical of the military action against Shiite militias in Iraq. Iraq's interim Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Saleh, is going to Tehran.

Baghdad and Tehran have recently been involved in a war of words over a number of sensitive issues. Shia Iran has been fiercely critical about the use of military force against Shiite militiamen in Najaf. Earlier Iraq's Defence Minister accused Iran of arming insurgents close to the Iraqi cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, allegations Tehran denied.
Baghdad continues to be concerned about Iran's attempts to increase its influence in Shiite areas of Iraq. But some experts say that Tehran may actually have less influence than it would like over some of Iraq's independently minded Shiite clerics.
--BBC"