Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Daily Star - Business Articles - South Korea to provide Iran with 100,000 broadband Internet lines

The Daily Star - Business Articles - South Korea to provide Iran with 100,000 broadband Internet lines: "South Korea to provide Iran with 100,000 broadband Internet lines

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Friday, September 10, 2004

TEHRAN: Iran and South Korea have signed a $40 million deal for the provision of 100,000 broadband Internet lines to the Islamic Republic, Iranian press reports said Thursday.

The accord, signed here in the presence of the telecommunications ministers of the two countries, involves the Iranian companies Asia-Tak and Arsh, and Korea Telecom.

Reports said the lines will be provided to some 20 Iranian cities, with Asia-Tak designated as the private access provider.

Iran began to offer ADSL Internet access earlier this year, but lines are still limited in number and geographical placement. The Islamic republic has an estimated three million Internet users."

AIPAC spy affair concerns Iran more than Israel

Mathaba.Net News: "The AIPAC spy affair concerns Iran more than Israel
Posted: 09/09
From: Al-Hayat

by Helena Cobban

Steven Rosen, the longstanding head of the "research department" of the powerful AIPAC lobbying organization, prefers to operate in the shadows. The Washington Post reported some years ago that Rosen wrote in an internal memo: "A lobby is like a night flower. It thrives in the dark and dies in the sun."

Now, with the unfolding of the Larry Franklin spy scandal, the bright light of a lot of unwelcome publicity is being shone onto AIPAC and its operations. And especially onto Rosen: he is one of two AIPAC staffers who have been interviewed by the FBI in connection with the Franklin allegations. And on August 27, the FBI also reportedly searched Rosen's office at AIPAC and made a copy of his computer's hard drive.

Many questions surround this still-unfolding spy scandal. The FBI were reportedly pursing a lengthy investigation into possible misdeeds by Rosen and another AIPAC suspect, and were surveilling a lunch those two men were holding with an Israeli diplomat, when Franklin came to join the lunch party… It seems that was the first time Franklin entered the FBI's field of view…

So far, we have heard allegations that Franklin might have either "spied for Israel", or (a lesser charge) "handled classified documents insecurely." But we have not yet heard what the investigation of Rosen and colleague was all about.

Another question hanging over the story concerns the August 27 "leak" to the media about the FBI's investigation of Franklin. That leak was made to CBS News's Lesley Stahl. It embarrassed Franklin, and signaled that he might soon be charged with a crime. Even more importantly, however, it gave everyone else being targeted by the FBI investigation a clear warning that they were now under suspicion-- and gave them plenty of time to destroy any incriminating evidence, and to construct and coordinate "cover stories" for what they had been doing.

Not surprisingly, FBI officials have since said that their investigation was seriously hampered by the leak. And since the existence of this investigation was revealed to the public before rather than after the November election, it is almost certain that heavy political pressure will be put on the FBI to be as "discreet" and "forgiving" as possible in the way it treats AIPAC (and Israel).

The involvement of AIPAC and the Israeli government in Franklin's reported spying efforts also raises the question of "Why would they bother?" After all, the Sharon government has superb and easy access to every corner of U.S. security decision-making! Why would they bother to get involved in a shady little deal with a relatively low-level person in the Pentagon when Wolfowitz, Feith, Elliot Abrams, etc are all only too willing to cooperate with them?

My reading on this question is that this swirl of accusations about Israeli spying in the U.S. tells us less about Israeli spying efforts than it does about the existence of some serious disagreements within the Bush administration on how to deal with Iran.

(Israel, let's face it, is always going to spy as much as it can on everyone, if the recent revelations in New Zealand, Canada, etc, tell us anything.)

Regarding the Bush administration people, it is no secret that in the immediate aftermath of their military victory over Saddam Hussein's army in April 2003, many ranking members of the administration started talking openly about the need to bring about a similarly violent "regime change" in Iran and Syria as their next goal… Over the 17 months since then, however, more and more people in the U.S. military and the country as a whole have seen how hard it has been to achieve what they wanted in Iraq, alone, and how high the costs have been there. Indeed, the mission in Iraq has already been stretching the U.S. military to near breaking point-while it has also clearly harmed the U.S.'s effectiveness in fighting against Al Qaeda…

So the desire of the administration as a whole to launch any new military adventures against Iran or Syria has been much reduced. There is still a chance of an "Osirak"-style hit-and-run raid against an Iranian target or targets-and perhaps this might come before the November election? But to set out to conquer and occupy any more Middle Eastern countries as they did in Iraq? No. Very few people are pushing for that any more.

AIPAC has certainly been trying to keep the heat up against Iran (and Syria). So maybe the Steve Rosen/Larry Franklin connection was working on that.

Meanwhile, the main concern that many Israelis and Jewish Americans have voiced about the Franklin revelations has had nothing to do with Iran-but rather, with their fear that this affair will remind the American public of the strong role that almost exactly this same cast of characters had in jerking the administration into launching the war on Iraq.

That war has been becoming increasingly unpopular here in the U,S., every day. The casualty toll of members of the U.S. military killed there has reached almost 1,000. Israelis and Jewish-Americans who are strong friends of Israel are terrified that Israel and its strong lobbying group here in the U.S. will be blamed for the disasters in Iraq-and of course, there are a lot of reasons why they should be blamed. So now is probably a very bad time for the glare of publicity to be shone onto the activities of AIPAC and its friends and protégés within the administration.

For more than 20 years now, Steve Rosen has run AIPAC's "research" department, becoming one of Washington's most feared behind-the-scenes operators along the way. It would be very interesting if the resentment against AIPAC-in the FBI, and in some other parts of the government-is now strong enough to bring a man like Rosen down. But I still do not believe it will happen. Maybe the most we can expect is that AIPAC and the other pro-Likud lobbyists will be a bit more discreet in their activities over the next few months.

AIPAC/Franklin Spy Ring: Max Boot's SPIN and DAMAGE CONTROL

Bush Can't Afford Inaction on Iran: "Max Boot:
Bush Can't Afford Inaction on Iran

Max Boot
Recent Columns:
Bush Can't Afford Inaction on Iran
September 9, 2004

Terrorists' October Surprise
September 2, 2004

Shots Hit Kerry's Weak Spot
August 26, 2004

It's Much More Fun in the Mud
August 19, 2004

It's the Olympics, but Do You Really Care?
August 12, 2004


Hyped reports about an Israeli "mole" in the Pentagon are falling apart faster than the Kerry campaign. It now seems likely that the analyst in question was, at worst, guilty of mishandling a classified document, not espionage. According to news accounts, the memo he's accused of passing to pro-Israel lobbyists called for U.S. support of Iranian dissidents trying to overthrow their dictatorial government. This may not be spy-novel stuff, but it does raise an important question: Why hasn't President Bush implemented the recommendations reportedly contained in the Pentagon paper?

The case for action seems overwhelming in light of Bush's oft-stated warning: "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." There is no question which side Iran is on.

The State Department calls Iran the "most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world." Much of its support goes to groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, but the 9/11 commission also reported that Al Qaeda members — including eight to 10 of those involved in the airplane attacks on the United States — were allowed to use Iran as a transit route to and from training camps in Afghanistan. A number of Al Qaeda operatives remain in Iran, ostensibly under house arrest but in all likelihood allowed to carry on their deadly work.

Iran has trained and armed Muqtada Sadr's militia, which has been attacking U.S. forces in Iraq. Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, the cleric who now heads an influential government council, makes no bones about what his country is up to. In an April sermon, he declared that the situation in Iraq posed "a threat because the wounded American beast can take enraged actions, but it is also an opportunity to teach this beast a lesson so it won't attack another country."

Why would Iran be worried about being attacked by the United States? Because it is close to producing a nuclear bomb. It is also working on missiles with the range to strike targets in Europe and North America, though the likeliest vehicles for delivering an Iranian nuke would be its terrorist networks. Hassan Abasi, a senior member of the Revolutionary Guards, recently boasted that Iran had "a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization."

Faced with this grave and gathering threat, John F. Kerry advocates appeasement. He recommends making a deal for Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program in return for U.S. concessions, such as helping it to build "civilian" nuclear reactors. There's no reason to think this approach would work any better than a similar accord with North Korea in 1994. Iran has already violated a 2003 agreement with Britain, France and Germany to curtail its nuclear weapons development. The mullahs are hellbent on going nuclear; they are not going to give up what one Iranian newspaper editor calls "the rare pearl for which we have labored greatly."

If we can't trust Tehran to make a deal, then we need a more confrontational approach. A military strike can't be ruled out, but it would be hard to pull off, especially without better intelligence than we had on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Luckily, Iran has a robust opposition movement that makes peaceful change from within a feasible alternative.

Self-styled realists claim that the tyrants of Tehran can't be budged, but then that's what they said about the Soviet commissars too, right up until the fall of the Berlin Wall. As in the Soviet bloc, most people in Iran have lost faith in their rulers. Many have even braved regime goons to protest in the streets. If they can succeed in establishing a representative government, it will not matter whether Iran has nuclear weapons, any more than it matters that India, Israel, France or any other democracy has nukes. Conversely, even without nukes, the terrorist-sponsoring mullahs would remain a major threat. We need to focus on the nature of the regime, not simply the nature of its weapons.

Bush has recognized the need for democratization in the Middle East, yet, oddly enough, he doesn't seem to be doing much to help Iranian freedom fighters. Bush's own deputy secretary of State has said that regime change is not U.S. policy. I hope this is just a ruse to hide covert actions, but I fear it's the truth. On Iran, as in so many other areas, the administration seems to be paralyzed by disagreements between Defense Department hawks and State Department doves. If Bush doesn't break through this gridlock soon, he will greatly undermine his claim to offer strong leadership in the war on terror."