Friday, September 24, 2004

IranMania News Smuggling slows transit in Iran

IranMania News: "Smuggling slows transit in Iran

Friday, September 24, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Sep 24 (IranMania) - The growing trend of smuggling has prompted fears resulting in a slowdown in the process of transiting goods and services along the borders, Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported.

Last year, Iran exported $9 mln worth of various goods and services via transit, said Mohammad Atrchian, managing director of Iran’s transit office, adding it will exceed $10 mln this year (ending March 20, 2005).

“In comparison with the corresponding period last year, we have experienced a 75% growth in the first four months of this year,” he said.

Iran comprises 25% of the regional transit market capacity, Atrchian stated. “We intend to get more of the market trade through extending the capacity of transit ports and roads.” Currently, Iran uses 18,000 kilometers of its roads for the purpose of transiting goods.

“We can increase the country’s transit capacity by simplification of relevant rules and regulations, reducing surcharges, developing economic relations with neighboring countries, and standardization of trade documents,” he insisted.


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IranMania News

IranMania News: "Iran should stop underselling oil: energy expert

Friday, September 24, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Sep 24 (IranMania) - Traditional ways of trading have resulted in low prices for Iran’s oil in the world markets, an Iranian expert stated, Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported.

Pointing to the current rates in oil markets, Ali Reza Yarnouri said that Iran offers its products at least ten dollars cheaper than other known crude oils like Brent or West Texas.

Although some experts believe that the quality of Iran’s oil is pretty lower than market hits such as West Texas Intermediate, Yarnouri stressed that the difference had not been so big in the past. “The oil ministry’s unwise policy jeopardizes the position of Iran’s oil products in international markets.”

“Instead of copying oil pricing strategies of countries like the UAE, we should follow those which have had great accomplishments in the world markets,” he suggested, discussing Norway’s systematic ways of organizing oil trade. During the recent go-ups in world markets, Scandinavia marked the biggest gain in its oil trading history."

Navhind Times: Escalating US Hostility towards Iran

Navhind Times on the Web: Opinions: "Escalating US Hostility towards Iran
by Inder Malhotra

STRANGE are life’s ironies and paradoxes. Nothing underscores this maxim more vividly than the plight of the United States, unquestionably the world’s mightiest nation in terms of military, economic and technological power. So great is the magnetic attraction of that country’s gargantuan market that all other major powers — the European Union, Russia, China, India and Japan — want to make the most of it by constantly improving their relations with the US.

Of course, each of the countries mentioned above has differences with the sole superpower that are at times serious. But this in no way detracts from their recognition of America’s primacy. And yet the US, under the administration of bumbling George W Bush, has made such a mess that the mightiest power on the globe has become a laughing stock. Never since the end of the Second World War in 1945 has America’s prestige been so low as it is today.

At the root of American discomfiture, nay misery, is the cardinal folly it committed in Iraq under intoxication of power and in the foolish belief that, like ancient Rome, present-day imperial Washington, could act unilaterally when it liked and where it liked. If this meant treating both the United Nations and its allies not in agreement with American policy on Iraq under Saddam Hussain with contempt then so be it.

However, the end result of the Iraq misadventure has been manifestly frustrating and humiliating for Bush and his ‘neo-conservative’ advisers who had been strutting about as lords and masters of the globe. In fact, the American plight in Iraq is even worse than it was in Vietnam in the late sixties and early seventies. There the US had an escape hatch that it used in 1973. From the mounting misery in Iraq there is no escape. Stephen Cohen of the premier American think tank, Brookings, sums up the situation succinctly when says, “we have no way to stay in Iraq and no way to get out. All options there are bad”.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Bush’s Democratic challenger, John Kerry, has embarked on the strongest attack on the President’s Iraq policy. He has called it a ‘colossal failure’ and a ‘profound mistake’ of diverting attention from Al Qaeda. But one does not have to rely on Kerry’s word or that of foreign observers. Those high in the ruling establishment of the US have themselves exposed the utter stupidity of rushing into war with Saddam Hussain’s Iraq.

For instance, a National Security Estimate prepared by the CIA and ‘cleared’ by all appropriate authorities confesses blandly that the Iraqi venture has been a disaster. The prospect staring America in the face in Iraq is that of ‘civil war’ and ‘chaos’ during which the US can neither quit nor influence the gory events on the ground. The number of highly destructive suicide bombings or grenade attacks on American supply routes have gone up from an average of 60 a day to more than 80. No American dignitary, military or civilian from a 1,000-strong embassy, has ever visited the site of carnage. The story of the kidnappings of foreigners suspected of helping the Americans is equally dismal and depressing. To its shame, the American army has lost control of several pockets of insurgency, including some within Baghdad itself.

Even staunch supporters of the war on Saddam are now admitting ruefully that all the assumptions and assertions of the Bush administration have been smashed to smithereens. Far from being welcomed as ‘liberators’ the American troops are hated and hunted everywhere. According to one of the leading British experts on West Asia, the US faces a ‘series of virulent insurgent groups in Iraq’. All of them are at odds with one another, he adds, but all of them are “totally united in their hatred of the American occupiers”.

More strikingly, the American claim that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) — Britain’s Tony Blair had even said that the Iraqi dictator could make these weapons operational ‘within 45 minutes’ — has been exposed to be a blatant lie. The illusion that Saddam’s overthrow would touch off a wave of ‘democratisation in the Greater Middle East’ has turned out to be a delusion. Furthermore, only the Americans and the hand-picked interim Iraqi government of Prime Minister, Mr Allawi believe that elections can be held in January next. In final quirk of irony, the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Anan, usually a habitual supporter of the United States, has belatedly discovered that the US invasion of Iraq was ‘illegal’!

As if this was not enough, the issue of the Kurd minority in northern Iraq is proving to be another albatross round America’s neck. There are those in the US that wouldn’t mind if the Kurds declared independence and unleashed the disintegration of Iraq. But this could create huge problems with Turkey, a ‘valued’ ally, which also has a substantial population of Kurds. Ankara has already made it clear to Washington rather gruffly that it would tolerate no encouragement to Kurdish independence.

In spite of all this, one has to take note of two contrary developments. First, while more than 1,000 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, the arrival of their body bags back home hasn’t created the kind of angry upsurge that was expected. Secondly, the belief that the Arab Street would explode in protest against the American occupation of Iraq and Israeli excesses in Palestine has not been translated into reality. Should Bush get re-elected, he would use these facts as a justification for ‘staying the course in Iraq’. But it is equally possible that Iraq would reduce him to a one-term President, rather like his father.

If Iraq has filled America’s cup of misery up to the brim, Afghanistan has caused it to start overflowing. Unlike Iraq where chances of holding elections next January are remote to the point of being non-existent, presidential elections or sorts might be held in Afghanistan for the first time in its history next month. In Hamid Karzai, the head of the interim government, the US and its allies have a credible candidate. But his writ hardly runs outside Kabul and his life is permanently in danger.

The country, always a hotbed of ceaseless conflict among tribal chiefs and warlords, is ravaged by ceaseless violence. The Taliban have not only survived but also have become brazen in their threats to and attacks on the Karzai government. The rift between Karzai and the Northern Alliance that had really defeated the Taliban is now complete.

Meanwhile, the Americans have not only reduced their military presence in Afghanistan, leaving it to an international force under NATO’s command to cope with the challenge. Pakistan, knowing that Bush desperately wants Osama bin Laden, ‘dead or alive’, before the November 2 US presidential election, is able to extract its pound of flesh. This is evidently detrimental to India’s vital stakes in Afghanistan. But the US does not care and sometimes joins Pakistan in complaining about Indian ‘presence’ in the land of Afghans.

Unlike India, Iran has greater leverage in Afghanistan which it uses skillfully and subtly whenever necessary. It is also in a position to influence events in the Shia-majority Iraq. That, combined with the American objections to the Iranian nuclear programme, should explain the escalating American hostility towards Iran. But the question is whether, in view of the catastrophe in Iraq, even Mr Bush would dare open a second front by attacking Iran although the ‘neocons’ would be happy to do so. Most people think probably not. However, that does not rule out the possibility of US bombing of Iranian nuclear installations. Should that happen, it would be an altogether different ballgame in a region that is already troubled and turbulent beyond measure."

Top News Article | Reuters.com

Top News Article | Reuters.com: "Pressed Over Nuclear Arms, Iran Slams US, Israel

By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran, under fire on suspicion of secretly seeking nuclear arms, accused the United States on Friday of "lawless militarism" in Iraq and called Israel the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.

"The attack against Iraq was illegal," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the U.N. General Assembly, thanking U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for publicly stating the same in a television interview last week.

The invasion was an example of "increasing lawless militarism," involving "the use of brute and unsanctioned military force to achieve some political goals, albeit desirable goals," said Kharrazi, explaining that his country, which fought an eight-year war with its neighbor, had "benefited greatly by the removal of Saddam Hussein."

Kharrazi said Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but declines to acknowledge them, had systematically thwarted U.N. efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

"All countries of the region and beyond are unanimous in considering the Israeli arsenal, including its weapons of mass destruction, combined with its policy and record of aggression and state terrorism, as the single greatest threat to regional and global peace and security," he said.

"Israeli cannot hide these facts behind smoke screens. It is time for the international community to show its resolve to maintain the credibility of multilateral disarmament instruments by taking action to compel Israel to comply," he said.

The United States accuses Iran of using a domestic nuclear energy program as a cover for developing nuclear arms and wants the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency to send the matter to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany are pressing Tehran to renounce any weapons-related activities in return for cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy and closer economic ties.

But Iran instead said this week it had begun processing raw uranium for enrichment, a preliminary step to making a bomb.

Washington also accuses Iran of fueling attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq and backing anti-Israeli Hizbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon.

But Kharrazi sought to turn the tables on his critics, calling his country "a victim of terrorism" and urging a more collective global fight against the scourge.

"No state can even come close to doing it alone," he said."

IRNA-Major General Firouzabadi

IRNA-Islamic Republic News Agency: "2004-09-23 / 19:40:42
Tehran, Sept 23, IRNA -- Chief of the Joint Army Staff Major General Firouzabadi addresses the 16th nationwide meeting of army commanders here on Thursday. 1420/1420 Photo by IRNA Photographer: Ali Fereydouni"

Iran capable of hosting 20m tourists a year

Iran capableof hosting 20m tourists a year: "Iran capableof hosting 20m tourists a year

Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Prov, Sept 23, IRNA -- Iran is capable of
hosting 20 million tourists a year, said Deputy Head of Iran`s
Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization for the Legal and
International Affairs Hojjatoleslam Taha Hashemi here on Thursday.
Addressing a ceremony to introduce new provincial tourism
director, Hashemi said only 700,000 foreign tourists visit Iran
annually.
He said necessary grounds should be prepared for increasing
the number of incoming tourists.
1420/1412"

SupremeLeader: No nation can defend its dignity without devotion

SupremeLeader: No nation can defend its dignity without devotion: "SupremeLeader: No nation can defend its dignity without devotion

Tehran, Sept 23, IRNA -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said the without devotion, no nation
would be able to defend its national identity, dignity, prestige,
values, beliefs and rights.
In a message issued on the occasion of fourth day of the
Sacred Defense Week named as the Day for Appreciation of Martyrs`
Services, Ayatollah Khamenei said evading from the scene of defense
against the world`s tyrannical and arrogant powers that commit
injustice against the free nations, would bring nothing but
humiliation and captivity. "This is a lesson that our brave and
vigilant nation has taught to all which remains in history," said the
Supreme Leader.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the holy struggle of the oppressed
Palestinians, who have embarrassed and frightened the
armed-to-the-teeth Zionists, is in line with the same permanent
lesson.
He added that the humiliation and bewilderment of occupation
troops in Iraq are the results of the same lesson.
Calling martyrs as "brilliant gem in the history of the Sacred
Defense", Ayatollah Khamenei said any vigilant and pure-hearted
person feel duty-bound to defend the cause of the martyrs.
The message was read out by the Supreme Leader`s representative
to the Islamic Revolution Martyrs Foundation (IRMF) Mohammad-Hassan
Rahimian at the ceremony."

Business Report - Iran closes Windows as it ditches Microsoft and embraces Linux

Business Report - Iran closes Windows as it ditches Microsoft and embraces Linux: "Governments given key to Office suite as software giant faces growing competition from open-source solution

Iran closes Windows as it ditches Microsoft and embraces Linux
September 21, 2004

Tehran/Paris - Iran has become the latest country to edge towards ditching the ubiquitous Microsoft computer operating system in favour of the open-source Linux solution, even if its refusal to abide by copyright laws means that the Islamic republic does not pay a penny to Bill Gates.

At the same time Microsoft offered more than 60 governments the key to its Office desktop suite yesterday as the world's leading software maker faces growing competition from open-source rivals such as Linux.

In a statement on its website, Microsoft said it would share its source code to the Microsoft Office 2003, which includes Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheet applications, as part of its Government Security Programme (GSP).

Launched in January 2003, the GSP is a no-fee global agreement aimed at promoting confidence in the security and interoperability of Microsoft's products.

Under the programme Microsoft already offers the source code to its Windows operating system, used on about 90 percent of the world's computers.

Microsoft said that more than 30 countries, including Australia, Britain, China, Norway, Russia and Spain, have signed GSP agreements.

Government agencies from more than 60 countries with intellectual property regimes that meet international standards are eligible to participate in the programme.

Under the terms of the GSP's three-year contract, governments can access Microsoft's underlying codes and use them to develop new software, but they cannot alter the sources codes themselves.

The move came as Microsoft faces competition from so-called open-source software such as Linux, available for free on the internet.

Several governments and municipalities have turned to Linux as a way to save money.

In Europe, the city of Vienna announced last month that it would join a growing number of European cities next year embracing Linux.


The municipality of Munich, in southern Germany, has been operating exclusively on Linux since 2003.

Last month Hewlett-Packard announced plans for what it said was the world's first notebook computer from a major manufacturer using the Linux operating system.

According to Mohammad Sephery-Rad, the man in charge of Iran's computer systems, long-term political and security considerations have sparked a major initiative to make the switch to Linux.

"All the software in Iran is copied. There is no copyright law, so everybody uses Microsoft software freely," said the secretary of Iran's High Informatics Council.

"But we cannot continue like this much longer," he said.

The reason has nothing to do with the guilt of using pirated software (a cracked Windows XP CD costs the same as a blank CD), but more pragmatic considerations - not least because of the irony that Iran's information technology backbone is based on software from its arch-enemy the US.

Firstly, Iran is trying to gain entry into the World Trade Organisation, a step that would entail respect of international intellectual property laws.

"We would have to pay a lot of money," said Sephery-Rad, noting that most of the government's estimated 1 million personal computers and the country's 6 to 8 million computers were being run almost exclusively on the Windows platform.

"Secondly, Microsoft software has a lot of back doors and security weaknesses that are always being patched, so it is not secure. We are also under US sanctions. All this makes us think we need an alternative operating system."

The alternative selected is Linux, which several governments have been embracing as a way to save money, break free from Microsoft's virtual monopoly and evade the daily barrages of viruses that bombard Windows systems."

The spotlight on Iran intensifies - Media Monitors Network (MMN)

Home / Headlines / The spotlight on Iran intensifies - Media Monitors Network (MMN): "The spotlight on Iran intensifies
by Firoz Osman
(Friday 24 September 2004)

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"The hypocrisy of the IAEA is evident: there is silence while the US continues to develop new forms of nuclear weapons. US-friendly states that refused to sign the NPT but have nuclear weapons (India, Israel and now Pakistan) are treated with kid gloves, but Iran, a signatory of the NPT, is being threatened with punishment and possible attack."


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Pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to abandon its plans to convert fuel into highly enriched uranium is increasing. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council, coerced by the United States of America, is moving to impose sanctions if Iran does not comply with its demands.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a body set up to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and aims to develop the peaceful use of nuclear power. Ratified by 190 countries in the world, the countries known to possess nukes, but have not signed the NPT are India, Pakistan and Israel.

The USA, Britain and Israel have turned the world’s spotlight onto Iran. Silvan Shalom, the Israeli foreign minister, who described this as a "nightmare scenario”, alleged that Iran was "fast approaching the point of no return in its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capability." The Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz wailed: “Concentrated efforts are needed to delay, to stop or to prevent the Iranian nuclear program. I hope that you understand what I say.”

Richard Boucher, US State Department official summed up- "There's no economic justification for a state that is so rich in oil and gas like Iran to build these hugely expensive nuclear fuel cycle facilities”. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed that preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction – if necessary by pre-emptive force – is at the top of his foreign policy priorities.

This elite ‘nuclear club’ possessing weapons of mass destruction has used proliferation to wipe out competition and to maintain its stranglehold over countries opposing its hegemonic designs. The United States has at all times possessed the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world and is the only country which has used such weapons in war, in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Clearly, the USA is guilty of double standards, not only because it fails to take into account its own massive nuclear stockpile, but also its refusal to consider the threat posed by its allies Pakistan, India and Israel. Seymour Hersh in The Samson Option has documented how Israel has built up its nuclear arsenal with Western connivance. Yet the US, the IAEA and the UN Security Council has remained silent on the threat posed by Israel’s possession of the bomb, while whipping up a hysteria over the alleged Iranian threat.

For its part, the Islamic Republic has been forthright in both its declarations about the purpose and progress of its nuclear program and its adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Pact, which is more than can be said for either Israel or the United States.

Iran says it is honouring a pledge not to put uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges, spin it and make enriched uranium. Iran, it must be noted, is not prohibited from enrichment under its obligations to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran is sensitive to the alarming and hostile rhetoric of “illegal” weapons of mass destruction emanating from its adversaries through the IAEA, paid western journalists and leaders demanding an immediate halt to the peaceful nuclear programme. Surrounded by regimes subservient to, and harbouring American bases, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf and the Central Asian states, present a formidable and daunting challenge.

Threats by Bush, Blair and Sharon are setting the stage for a future confrontation with Iran. Israel previously destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1991 has threatened the same. The Los Angeles Times reported that “the CIA has briefed friendly foreign intelligence services on a contingency plan for air and missile strikes on Iranian nuclear installations."

The hypocrisy of the IAEA is evident: there is silence while the US continues to develop new forms of nuclear weapons. US-friendly states that refused to sign the NPT but have nuclear weapons (India, Israel and now Pakistan) are treated with kid gloves, but Iran, a signatory of the NPT, is being threatened with punishment and possible attack.

The Canadian president of the Centre for Islam and Science, Dr Muzaffar Iqbal pointed out that when compared with the stand taken by North Korea, the case against Iran falls flat. Iran has no bomb and has consistently said that it has no plans to develop one. It has a declared nuclear-power programme, however, and it plans to develop full-cycle fuel-enrichment to achieve self-sufficiency. But even this appears to be unacceptable to the US and its allies.

The issue is not merely that of fuel-enrichment. As the only Muslim country at the moment with an Islamic government, Iran stands out in the whole world as a prototype for future Islamic movements. It has its weaknesses, and the Revolution has not been successful in maintaining its momentum, but it remains the only reasonably successful experiment in establishing an Islamic state by a mass revolution in modern times.

Iran's nuclear programme gives the Islamic Republic something that is fundamentally important to Iran but intolerable to the US – freedom to act independently. An indigenous nuclear program will enable the Islamic Republic to manage its own energy resources and technological development. It is a demonstration of national will and sovereignty. This is what is not "acceptable" to those who wish to impose their own economic and political systems on the rest of the world.
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