Wednesday, September 08, 2004

KRT Wire | 09/02/2004 | Alleged Pentagon leaks may be connected to Iran policy

KRT Wire | 09/02/2004 | Alleged Pentagon leaks may be connected to Iran policy: "Alleged Pentagon leaks may be connected to Iran policy

By WARREN P. STROBEL

Knight Ridder Newspapers


WASHINGTON - Pentagon civilians in the office in which analyst Larry A. Franklin worked lobbied for a hawkish policy toward Iran and tried to have those views inserted into a highly classified presidential document that's a focus of an FBI espionage investigation, current and former U.S. officials said.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Franklin shared the document with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the main pro-Israel lobby, in an attempt to enlist Israeli support for their proposals.

Policy-makers in the office of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith argued that the United States should explore ways to overthrow the Iranian regime and should contemplate military strikes on Tehran's nuclear program if it came close to producing a nuclear weapon, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is under investigation.

The Pentagon met fierce resistance from the State Department, the CIA and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Those agencies opposed the Pentagon's willingness to cooperate with an Iraq-based Iranian opposition group that the State Department has designated a terrorist organization.

The Bush administration's bitter internal battle over how to deal with Iran - a country President Bush included in his "Axis of Evil" and that's thought to be edging closer to developing nuclear weapons - has been known for some time. But new light is being shed on it after the disclosure of the FBI investigation.

Israel sees Iran as its No. 1 adversary and might have been able to influence U.S. policymaking if it had access to confidential high-level planning documents.

The Israeli government and AIPAC have denied the allegations, and Franklin, an Iran expert, hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.

Several U.S. officials and law enforcement sources said Thursday that the scope of the FBI probe of Pentagon intelligence activities appeared to go well beyond the Franklin matter.

FBI agents have briefed top White House, Pentagon and State Department officials on the probe in recent days. Based on those briefings, officials said, the bureau appears to be looking into other controversies that have roiled the Bush administration, some of which also touch Feith's office.

They include how the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group backed by the Pentagon, allegedly received highly classified U.S. intelligence on Iran; the leaking of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters; and the production of bogus documents suggesting that Iraq tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger. Bush repeated the Niger claim in making the case for war against Iraq.

"The whole ball of wax" was how one U.S. official privy to the briefings described the inquiry.

In the Franklin matter, the FBI has interviewed two top AIPAC staffers - foreign policy director Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, an Iran specialist - about their contacts with the Pentagon analyst.

Rosen and Weissman have hired prominent Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell to represent them. Lowell's firm, Chadbourne & Park, had no comment Thursday.

In a statement, AIPAC said "we have yet to be told by the authorities what the nature of their inquiry into the activities of AIPAC or its employees actually are."

The FBI probe is more than two years old. The lobby group said suggestions of disloyalty were refuted by the fact that, during that period, Bush addressed the group's annual policy conference and "scores" of executive branch and congressional officials had spoken "regularly and candidly with AIPAC officials."

Officials at the State Department, the CIA and other U.S. government agencies long have suspected that the Pentagon has pursued its own Middle East policy, aimed at overthrowing hostile regimes.

"Policy officials in the Pentagon repeatedly bypassed the normal interagency process, and there are questions about whether they also may have tried to mobilize Israel's political influence in Washington to lobby for some of their proposals, especially on Iraq and Iran," one of the administration officials said.

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment Thursday on Feith's policy proposals.

"Policy-making is like sausage-making. What matters, though, is the sausage," the spokesman said, citing unified concern across the Bush administration about Iran's nuclear program.

Defense officials referred other questions related to the Franklin matter to the Justice Department, which had no comment.

Officials outside the Pentagon have questions about still-unexplained meetings that Franklin and Defense Department official Harold Rhode had in December 2001 in Rome with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer who played a role in the Iran-Contra affair.

The first meeting was intended to put U.S. officials in contact with Iranian dissidents who claimed to have information about threats to American forces in Afghanistan, according to former Reagan administration official Michael Ledeen, who helped broker it.

Officials in Feith's office also argued for maintaining contacts with an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, that's dedicated to overthrowing the theocracy in Tehran.

The administration official said Pentagon aides and contractors tried to conceal some of their contacts with Ghorbanifar and the Mujahedeen Khalq from the State Department and the CIA. He stressed that doing so isn't new or necessarily wrong, and that the CIA itself does that to other agencies routinely.

In a June 2003 news conference, Feith and his deputy, William Luti, disputed reports that the Pentagon wanted the U.S. government to ally with the Mujahedeen Khalq.

"There never was such a plan," Feith said. "We will not do that."

A former senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon also tried to kill a dialogue between the United States and Iran that began around the time the United States invaded Afghanistan. Washington eventually broke off the dialogue after terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia were traced to Iran-based al-Qaida operatives.

The Washington infighting over Iran policy was so severe that the presidential policy document was never completed.

(Knight Ridder correspondents John Walcott and Jonathan S. Landay contributed to this report.)"

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Israel Loses a Satellite That Was Meant to Spy on Iran

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Israel Loses a Satellite That Was Meant to Spy on Iran: "Israel Loses a Satellite That Was Meant to Spy on Iran
By STEVEN ERLANGER

Published: September 7, 2004
EL AVIV, Sept. 6 - An Israeli spy satellite intended to increase the country's surveillance over Iran landed in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday after a rocket malfunction shortly after takeoff, Israeli officials said.

The satellite, Ofek-6, was meant to give Israel more early warning in case of a surprise missile attack and to provide more information on Iran's extensive missile program. In Hebrew, ofek means horizon. Israel says it intends to try again in the next few months.

Iran has already tested the Shahab-3 missile, which can reach Israel and beyond, and is working to build nuclear weapons to put on it, senior Israeli military and intelligence officials contend.

"Iran wants to become a regional superpower and then a global superpower," a senior Israeli military official said Monday in an interview. "They intend to be the latter, and this is what worries us the most."

Iran's Shiite Muslim government is a beneficiary of the American military campaigns against two of its rivals in the region since Sept. 11, 2001. One campaign overthrew the Taliban, who massacred Shiites in Afghanistan, and the other overthrew Saddam Hussein, who led Iraq into an eight-year war against Iran in the 1980's.

Israeli leaders say Iran wants nuclear weapons to bolster its flagging revolution, to provide an alternative to Egyptian secular moderation and to challenge the military supremacy of Israel and the United States in the Middle East.

"When the Iranians have enough fuel for enrichment and the technology for it, it's over," the Israeli official said. "We hope somebody will do something about it pretty soon."

But Israel, whose border with Lebanon is lined with the Iranian-financed Hezbollah militants, is reluctant to act alone, as it did in the 1980's, when it bombed the French-built Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak.

Iran is much larger than Iraq and has many more nuclear sites. It is at least questionable whether Israel has enough fighter-bombers and refueling tankers to accomplish such a mission, let alone deal with the repercussions afterward.

"It's a big, sensitive debate," the official said.

The Israeli concerns about Iran, which date back at least 10 years, are at the center of a so-called spying scandal in Washington involving a Defense Department official, Larry Franklin, and his reputed contacts with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the lobbying group known as Aipac.

Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia, which Israel and the United States charge continues to aid Iran with nuclear technology and know-how, signed a deal with Israel on Monday to increase intelligence coordination after the terrorist attack on a school in Russia. Israel is always looking for friends, especially on the issue of terrorism, and officials were pleased to hear Mr. Lavrov call for "a united front in the battle against terrorism."

The Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, said: "Israel and Russia share interests to cooperate against terrorism. Today we discussed ways to do so." The agreement is not likely to mean much, but Russia, traditionally a supporter of the Palestinian cause, is also an important sponsor of the Middle East peace plan known as the road map.

Mr. Shalom told Israel radio: "On the nuclear issue, I think there is a certain change, in Russia and Europe, too, regarding the possibility that Iran will have nuclear weapons. This is a nightmare for most countries of the world, particularly after they discovered that Iran is trying to develop a missile with a range that will also cover southern Russia, as well as European capitals like Paris, London and Berlin."

In Ramallah on Monday, the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, and foreign minister, Ahmed Abdul Gheit, met with the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and his security chiefs to discuss plans for a possible Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Egypt has been trying to help the Palestinians prepare for such a possibility.

The Egyptians said they would take responsibility for continuing talks with militant factions like Hamas and Islamic Jihad "to guarantee the unity of the Palestinian national movement" on the Gaza issue, while Mr. Arafat would work to control the disputes within his faction, Fatah, which is the largest, the most important and the most secular.

Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian minister, said there would be a meeting of security chiefs with Mr. Suleiman in Cairo next week, with another meeting of the Palestinian political factions in Cairo on Sept. 18.

For his part, the Israeli defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, answering callers' questions on Army Radio, said Israel had no current plans "to bring about the removal of Yasir Arafat from the region," but remained committed to doing so. He said Israel's first priority was to carry out the Gaza disengagement plan.
"

French connection armed Saddam - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - September 08, 2004

French connection armed Saddam - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - September 08, 2004: "French connection armed Saddam


By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES


The United States stood by for years as supposed allies helped its enemies obtain the world's most dangerous weapons, reveals Bill Gertz, defense and national security reporter for The Washington Times, in the new book "Treachery" (Crown Forum). In this excerpt, he details France's persistence in arming Saddam Hussein.

First of three excerpts


New intelligence revealing how long France continued to supply and arm Saddam Hussein's regime infuriated U.S. officials as the nation prepared for military action against Iraq.







The intelligence reports showing French assistance to Saddam ongoing in the late winter of 2002 helped explain why France refused to deal harshly with Iraq and blocked U.S. moves at the United Nations.
"No wonder the French are opposing us," one U.S. intelligence official remarked after illegal sales to Iraq of military and dual-use parts, originating in France, were discovered early last year before the war began.
That official was careful to stipulate that intelligence reports did not indicate whether the French government had sanctioned or knew about the parts transfers. The French company at the beginning of the pipeline remained unidentified in the reports.
France's government tightly controls its aerospace and defense firms, however, so it would be difficult to believe that the illegal transfers of equipment parts took place without the knowledge of at least some government officials.
Iraq's Mirage F-1 fighter jets were made by France's Dassault Aviation. Its Gazelle attack helicopters were made by Aerospatiale, which became part of a consortium of European defense companies.
"It is well-known that the Iraqis use front companies to try to obtain a number of prohibited items," a senior Bush administration official said before the war, refusing to discuss Iraq's purchase of French warplane and helicopter parts.
The State Department confirmed intelligence indicating the French had given support to Iraq's military.
"U.N. sanctions prohibit the transfer to Iraq of arms and materiel of all types, including military aircraft and spare parts," State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said. "We take illicit transfers to Iraq very seriously and work closely with our allies to prevent Iraq from acquiring sensitive equipment."
Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, declared that France's selling of military equipment to Iraq was "international treason" as well as a violation of a U.N. resolution.
"As a pilot and a former war pilot, this disturbs me greatly that the French would allow in any way parts for the Mirage to be exported so the Iraqis could continue to use those planes," Stevens said.
"The French, unfortunately, are becoming less trustworthy than the Russians," said Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "It's outrageous they would allow technology to support the jets of Saddam Hussein to be transferred."
The U.S. military was about to go to war with Iraq, and thanks to the French, the Iraqi air force had become more dangerous.

The pipeline
French aid to Iraq goes back decades and includes transfers of advanced conventional arms and components for weapons of mass destruction.
The central figure in these weapons ties is French President Jacques Chirac. His relationship with Saddam dates to 1975, when, as prime minister, the French politician rolled out the red carpet when the Iraqi strongman visited Paris.
"I welcome you as my personal friend," Chirac told Saddam, then vice president of Iraq.
The French put Saddam up at the Hotel Marigny, an annex to the presidential palace, and gave him the trappings of a head of state. The French wanted Iraqi oil, and by establishing this friendship, Chirac would help France replace the Soviet Union as Iraq's leading supplier of weapons and military goods.
In fact, Chirac helped sell Saddam the two nuclear reactors that started Baghdad on the path to nuclear weapons capability.
France's corrupt dealings with Saddam flourished throughout the 1990s, despite the strict arms embargo against Iraq imposed by the United Nations after the Persian Gulf war.
By 2000, France had become Iraq's largest supplier of military and dual-use equipment, according to a senior member of Congress who declined to be identified.
Saddam developed networks for illegal supplies to get around the U.N. arms embargo and achieve a military buildup in the years before U.S. forces launched a second assault on Iraq.
One spare-parts pipeline flowed from a French company to Al Tamoor Trading Co. in the United Arab Emirates. Tamoor then sent the parts by truck through Turkey, and into Iraq. The Iraqis obtained spare parts for their French-made Mirage F-1 jets and Gazelle attack helicopters through this pipeline.

A huge debt
U.S. intelligence would not discover the pipeline until the eve of war last year; sensitive intelligence indicated that parts had been smuggled to Iraq as recently as that January.
"A thriving gray-arms market and porous borders have allowed Baghdad to acquire smaller arms and components for larger arms, such as spare parts for aircraft, air-defense systems and armored vehicles," the CIA said in a report to Congress made public that month.
U.S. intelligence agencies later came under fire over questions about prewar estimates of Iraq's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. But intelligence on Iraq's hidden procurement networks was confirmed.
An initial accounting by the Pentagon in the months after the fall of Baghdad revealed that Saddam covertly acquired between 650,000 and 1 million tons of conventional weapons from foreign sources. The main suppliers were Russia, China and France.
By contrast, the U.S. arsenal is between 1.6 million and 1.8 million tons.
As of last year, Iraq owed France an estimated $4 billion for arms and infrastructure projects, according to French government estimates. U.S. officials thought this massive debt was one reason France opposed a military operation to oust Saddam.
The fact that illegal deals continued even as war loomed indicated France viewed Saddam's regime as a future source of income.

Telltale chemical
Just days before U.S. and coalition forces launched their military campaign against Iraq, more evidence of French treachery emerged.
In mid-March 2003, U.S. intelligence and defense officials confirmed that exporters in France had conspired with China to provide Iraq with chemicals used in making solid fuel for long-range missiles. The sanctions-busting operation occurred in August 2002, the U.S. National Security Agency discovered through electronic intercepts.
The chemical transferred to Iraq was a transparent liquid rubber called hydroxy terminated polybutadiene, or HTPB, according to intelligence reports.
U.S. intelligence traced the sale to China's Qilu Chemicals, "the largest manufacturer of HTPB in China," one official says.
A French company, CIS Paris, helped broker the sale of 20 tons of HTPB, a controlled export that was shipped from China to the Syrian port of Tartus. The chemical solution was sent by truck from Syria into Iraq, to a missile-manufacturing plant. The Iraqi company that purchased the shipment was in charge of making solid fuel for long-range missiles.
HTPB technically is a dual-use chemical, because it also can be used for commercial purposes such as space launches. However, Iraq often disguised military purchases as commercial ones, as documents found later in Iraq would confirm.
In a report to Congress, the CIA said Iraq had constructed two "mixing" buildings for solid-propellant fuels at a plant known as al-Mamoun. The facility originally was built to produce the Badr-2000, a solid-propellant missile also known as the Condor.
The new buildings "appear especially suited to house large, U.N.-prohibited mixers of the type acquired for the Badr-2000 program," the CIA report stated.

French denials
Despite controversy over prewar intelligence on Iraq, the CIA said its estimates of Iraqi missiles were on target.
Representatives of the French and Chinese governments went on the attack when The Washington Times asked about the chemical sale.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Xie Feng did not address the specifics, but said "irresponsible accusations" about China's exports had been made in the past.
"These accusations are devoid of all foundation," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau declared. "In line with the rules currently in force, France has neither delivered, nor authorized, the delivery of such materials, either directly or indirectly."
By that point, many in the U.S. government were fed up with French denials.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called in the French ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, to complain about France's covert and overt support for Saddam's regime.
"Twelve years of waiting was too costly in terms of the growing threat from Baghdad," Wolfowitz told the ambassador, according to a U.S. official who was present.

Made in France
The war in Iraq, which began March 19, 2003, provided disturbing evidence that France's treacherous dealings come at a steep cost to the United States.
On April 8 came the downing of Air Force Maj. Jim Ewald's A-10 Thunderbolt fighter over Baghdad and the discovery that it was a French-made Roland missile that brought down the American pilot and destroyed a $13 million aircraft. Ewald, one of the first U.S. pilots shot down in the war, was rescued by members of the Army's 54th Engineer Battalion who saw him parachute to earth not far from the wreckage.
Army intelligence concluded that the French had sold the missile to the Iraqis within the past year, despite French denials.
A week after Ewald's A-10 was downed, an Army team searching Iraqi weapons depots at the Baghdad airport discovered caches of French-made missiles. One anti-aircraft missile, among a cache of 51 Roland-2s from a French-German manufacturing partnership, bore a label indicating that the batch was produced just months earlier.
In May, Army intelligence found a stack of blank French passports in an Iraqi ministry, confirming what U.S. intelligence already had determined: The French had helped Iraqi war criminals escape from coalition forces — and therefore justice.
Then, there were French-made trucks and radios and the deadly grenade launchers, known as RPGs, with French-made night sights. Saddam loyalists used them to kill American soldiers long after the toppling of the dictator's regime.
The intelligence team sent to find Iraqi weapons also discovered documents outlining covert Iraqi weapons procurement leading up to the war. The CIA, however, refused to make public the documents on assistance provided by France or by other so-called allies of the United States.
The clandestine arms-procurement network, disclosed late last year by the Los Angeles Times, put a Syrian trading company in a pivotal role. Documents showed the company, SES International Corp., was the conduit for millions of dollars' worth of weapons purchased internationally, including from France. Al Bashair Trading Co. in Baghdad was the major front used by Saddam to buy arms abroad.
A Defense Department-sponsored report produced in February identified France as one of the top three suppliers of Iraq's conventional arms, after Russia and China. The report revealed that France supplied 12 types of armaments and a total of 115,005 pieces.
A major reason Iraqi militants posed a threat to U.S. forces for so many months was that they had access to weapons that Saddam stockpiled in violation of U.N. resolutions.

A close call
One of the most frightening examples of how the militants put French weapons to use against the Americans came Oct. 26, 2003. That morning, at about 6 o'clock, they bombarded the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad with French missiles.
The French rockets nearly killed Wolfowitz, whom Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has called "the brains" of the Pentagon.
The deputy defense secretary had just gotten dressed in his room that Sunday morning when a car stopped several hundred yards from the hotel. It dropped off what appeared to be one of the blue electrical generators that were common in the power-starved Iraqi capital. The driver stayed just long enough to open a panel on the end of the metal box that was pointing upward toward the hotel.
The car sped off. Minutes later, a pod of 40 artillery rockets set off by remote control began firing at the hotel, their trails leaving sparks as they flew. The rockets hit one floor below where Wolfowitz and about a dozen aides and reporters were staying.
One rocket slammed into the room of Army Lt. Col. Charles H. Buehring, a public-affairs officer. The explosion hit Buehring, 40, in the head. A reporter discovered him and tried to help, but the Fayetteville, N.C., resident died a short time later.
In all, between eight and 10 missiles hit the hotel. The casualties might have been higher, and included Wolfowitz, if the improvised rocket launcher had fired all the missiles.
Because of a malfunction, 11 failed to go off.

Playing defense
Half the missiles fired at Wolfowitz's hotel were French-made Matra SNEB 68-millimeter rockets, with a range of two to three miles. The others were Russian in origin.
The French missiles were "pristine," Navy SEAL commandos reported.
"They were either new or kept in very good condition," said one SEAL who inspected the rocket tubes.
The rockets were thought to have been taken from Iraq's French-made Alouette or Gazelle attack helicopters.
The fact that new French missiles were showing up in the hands of Saddam loyalists months after the fall of Baghdad made Wolfowitz and his close aides livid. Still, others in the U.S. government worked to defend the French.
The CIA, to avoid upsetting ties with French intelligence, played down the French role in helping Saddam. The agency had a weak human intelligence?gathering capability, and France, because of its history of ties to Iraq, was much better at penetrating Saddam's regime.
The State Department's response was not surprising. Asked about French support for Iraq while on a fence-mending mission to Paris in May 2003, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had said: "We're not going to paper over it and pretend it didn't occur. It did occur. But we're going to work through that."
Powell, the retired four-star general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was too inexperienced in the ways of diplomacy. As a result, he largely had turned over control of State Department policy-making to the Foreign Service.
The problem with the Foreign Service is its culture. It trains diplomats to "get along" with the foreign governments they are sent to work with. Not insignificantly, Paris is among the most coveted postings in the world.

Backing down
Pentagon hard-liners on France, led by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, carried the day early in the war, but accommodationists within the upper councils of the Bush administration took control as the conflict went on.
Among those who took a softer position on France was National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, the former Stanford provost who surrounded herself with State Department officials and Foreign Service officers.
Rumsfeld drew a great deal of attention on Jan. 22, 2003 — and created a backlash within the State Department — when he let fly a verbal salvo against France and Germany for not siding with the United States, describing them as "old Europe" during a meeting with foreign reporters.
Rumsfeld also criticized French and German political leaders for making policy based not on "their honest conviction as to what their country ought to do" but on opinion polls that reflected ever-shifting public sentiments.
As the accommodationists in the Bush administration gained the upper hand, Rumsfeld and others were ordered to tone down the anti-Europe rhetoric. By late last year, the defense secretary's critics within the Foreign Service were crowing that Rumsfeld had been "tamed."
Just a day after the Iraqi attack on Wolfowitz's hotel in Baghdad, in an interview with The Washington Times, Rumsfeld took an even softer approach toward the French.
"People tend to look at what's taking place today and opine that it is something distinctive," Rumsfeld said of the turbulence in Franco-American relations. "I don't find it distinctive. I find it an old record that gets replayed about every five or seven years."
The public soft-policy line was, in many ways, a great victory for France. Even as new evidence poured in that the French had betrayed the United States and cost the lives of American troops, the government backed down from a confrontation with its erstwhile ally."

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Three convicted drug traffickers hanged in Iran

Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

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LONDON, Sep 8 ( IranMania) - Three Iranian men convicted of international trafficking in hards drugs were hanged Tuesday in a prison in Tehran, the student news agency ISNA reported.

The trio -- identified as brothers Keyvan and Kamran Razaghi and accomplice Amin Janati-Tabar -- had been convicted of "buying and selling at least 19,600 kilograms (about 43,120 pounds) of heroin and cocaine," the report said, although the figures could not be confirmed.

Their smuggling activities reportedly spanned Pakistan, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Canada, the United States and Colombia.

The report added that the three also imported drugs from Afghanistan for distribution in Iran but also for export via Cyprus to Asian, European and American markets.

Murder, armed robbery, rape, apostasy and serious drug trafficking are all punishable by death in the Islamic republic."

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Iran to boost gas, power exports to Nakhichevan

Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

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LONDON, Sep 8 (IranMania) - Republic of Azerbaijan's ambassador to Tehran, Hassanov, noted that Iran was planning to increase gas and electricity exports to Nakhichevan enclave, Petroenergy Information Network (PIN) reported.

Speaking during a tour of several projects in Khoi city, the diplomat added that the export hike was agreed upon during the recent visit to Azerbaijan by President Khatami.

He also visited combined cycle power plant of Khoi, lauding capabilities of Iranian engineers for implementation of combined cycle projects.

The ambassador noted that products of industrial units of West Azarbaijan province enjoyed a good market in the Republic of Azerbaijan"

Zimbabwe imports farm equipment from Iran

AngolaPress - Info: "Zimbabwe imports farm equipment from Iran


Harare, Zimbabwe, 09/08 - Agriculture officials in Zimbabwe said Tuesday the country had ordered hundreds of tractors and combine harvesters from Iran to back up the government`s controversial land reforms.

The first consignment of 23 combine harvesters, worth millions of dollars, arrived in the southern African country from Iran Tuesday, and officials said over 400 other farm equipment, including tractors, were on their way.

"The equipment is going to play a major role in strengthening the ongoing agrarian reforms, and will be available for use by new farmers," said Joseph Matowanyika, head of a state-owned farming group.

"Other consignments of the equipment is on the way and in total we are getting 430 tractors and combine harvesters from the Islamic Republic of Iran," he revealed.

He did not, however, give a value for Zimbabwe`s order of the farm equipment, but Iran has given the country a US$15 million agricultural grant.

The southern African country has seized thousands of farms from white farmers, who owned the bulk of the country`s arable land, to resettle landless Black peasants to economically empower them. But lack of equipment has constrained most resettled farmers, forcing the government to seek credit lines and other support from friendly countries."

Iran Offers University Places In Response To Headscarf Restrictions

Iran Offers University Places In Response To Headscarf Restrictions: "Iran Offers University Places In Response To Headscarf Restrictions
AFP: 9/8/2004
TEHRAN, Sept 8 (AFP) - Iran has responded to restrictions in France, Germany and Turkey on the wearing of Muslim headscarves by offering university places here to women who want to wear the veil, state television reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Iran's top decision-making body on cultural and university affairs -- the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council -- said it would provide additional places to well-veiled females.

It made no mention of whether Iranian universities would also waive fees, but did say such students would be exempt from sitting entrance examinations.

The French embassy in Tehran has been the target of demonstrations over a ban on Muslim girls wearing the headscarf in French state schools.

Two German states have also voted through similar restrictions, while six other states have put forward draft laws banning headscarves or other religious symbols in public institutions.

Headscarves are also forbidden in universities and public offices in strictly secular Turkey.

Every post-pubescent female in Iran, regardless of her nationality or religion, is obliged to observe the Islamic dress code and cover her hair whenever outside the home."

EU Business - Iran offers nuclear concessions but warns against pressure

EU Business - Iran offers nuclear concessions but warns against pressure: "Iran offers nuclear concessions but warns against pressure

08 September 2004
ATTENTION -more details, background ///
Iran confirmed Wednesday it had offered new concessions in talks with the Europan Union on its controversial nuclear programme, but warned of a "response" if the Europeans and the UN's atomic watchdog again took a tough line against the Islamic republic.

"If the Europeans do not respect their commitments or present an illogical or harsh resolution, Iran has already decided its response," top national security official Hassan Rowhani was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

Rowhani confirmed Iran was in talks with the EU ahead of a September 13 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with one concession on the table being a renewed suspension on the assembly of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

"There are important questions and it is too early to talk," said Rowhani, a conservative cleric and the regime's nuclear negotiator.

On Tuesday, diplomats at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna said Iran was ready again to suspend its efforts to assemble centrifuges in order to avoid being brought before the UN Security Council.

But speculation that an imminent accord could be reached have been dampened by a heavy dose of scepticism among some IAEA members. The IAEA's executive board of governors is due to begin meeting on September 13.

Britain, Germany and France have been negotiating with the aim of getting Iran to "fully suspend any uranium enrichment activities, including making any components for centrifuges," a Western diplomat told AFP in Vienna.

Enriched uranium can be used to provide fuel for reactors as well as nuclear warheads.

The diplomat said the negotiations began several days ago and have moved between different European capitals. But there was weariness over the latest promise of a last-minute concession.

"The Iranians have in their normal way just before the pressure really gets too much.. come with another offer," a European diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

"It just looks like they are offering something so that when it comes to the board next week they are able to tell us that they have done something to try to meet us half-way."

The Islamic republic this summer resumed the production of centrifuges, in reaction to a critical resolution adopted by the IAEA board of governors after its last review of the Iran dossier in June.

At the beginning of September, Tehran also announced that it planned to convert 37 tonnes of "yellow cake" uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas, an element necessary for the enrichment of uranium.

Nuclear experts have said that such a large amount could in theory be used to make one or more nuclear warheads.

Rowhani, in high-level talks in the Netherlands -- the current holder of the EU presidency -- on Monday denied that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons but said it would not abandon its programme to develop nuclear power for civilian purposes.

The United States accuses Iran of covertly trying to develop a nuclear bomb and has sought to have the IAEA refer Tehran to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

Tehran maintains that it is merely trying to meet increasing domestic energy demands and free up its vast oil and gas reserves for export.

But the issue of enrichment -- and the wider nuclear fuel cycle -- is at the heart of international concerns.

Nuclear fuel cycle work for peaceful purposes is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but there are worries Iran could master this and then easily shift it towards military purposes."

Rumsfeld Says People of Iraq better off today with Help From Iran

Channelnewsasia.com: "Iran fuelling Iraqi insurgency with people and money: Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON : US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview Iran was fuelling the insurgency in Iraq with people and money, but that international will was lacking to press Tehran to stop its meddling.

"They have put people in there. They have put money in there," Rumsfeld told The Washington Times.

"By 'they,' I'm not going to say which element of the government or whether it's even known to the government. But money has come in from Iran. People have come in from Iran. And it's a very difficult thing to stop," he said.

"Iran is a country that is not part of the civilized world in terms of its behavior."

When asked if Iran was funding radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr, Rumself said, "There's a lot of speculation to that effect."

Rumsfeld said the United States found it difficult to convince other countries to pressure Teheran to stay out of Iraq.

"The problem of proliferation and the problem of terror and the problem of dealing with a country that's separated itself from the civilized community is that those are the kind of things that require the cooperation of a lot of countries," he said.

"And when you have countries of the world that are not willing to participate in an organized effort to try to persuade a country to behave in a civilized way, it encourages them simply to continue on its merry way. And that's a problem," Rumsfeld said.

Hours before the US death toll in Iraq surpassed 1,000, Rumsfeld on Tuesday told a press conference that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan were better off today than a year ago, but to expect more attacks on US forces to intensify as elections it gets closer to elections in both countries.

"It's a tough, difficult business," Rumsfeld said. "On the other hand, the people of Iraq today and Afghanistan are so much better off today than they were a year ago, in every conceivable respect."

He also emphasized the world faced a global struggle against Muslim extremism, pointing to the bloody hostage-taking at a Russian school that left hundreds dead, many of them children.

"There are really no free passes in this struggle, this war. There are no free passes for countries. There are really no free passes for individuals," Rumsfeld said.

"And for that reason the civilized world has to stay on the offensive. And that's exactly what the coalition is doing," he said. - AFP"