Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Israeli link to Indo-Iran N talks - The Times of India

Israeli link to Indo-Iran N talks - The Times of India: "Israeli link to Indo-Iran N talks
INDRANI BAGCHI

TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2004 04:58:45 PM ]

NEW DELHI: Although India has assiduously avoided mention of Iran's nuclear ambitions, the two-day talks between national security adviser JN Dixit and Iran's top nuclear negotiator and Hassan Rouhani in Iran was not without nuclear content.


Rouhani tried to reassure India "on its efforts on peaceful uses of nuclear energy". Dixit's visit to Iran is interesting as it comes on the eve of Mr Rouhani's meeting with an EU team in Vienna to find a way out of Iran's present nuclear dilemma, and perhaps avoid UN sanctions.

Iran's leadership has declared that Iran was determined to press ahead with its atomic plans and would not give up its right to enrich uranium, but without pursuing nuclear weapons.

It's not something that the rest of the world believes and Iran is presently facing UN sanctions for its nuclear programme. India is uniquely placed because while it is on the right side of the nuclear debate, it is also one of the few countries to enjoy excellent relations with Iran.

The India-Iran relationship has attracted significant attention, particularly from the US. This has been heightened as India presses for more sensitive technology from the US. It is in this context that the US' recent penalties on two Indian scientists for "collaboration" with Iran has assumed interesting proportions.

India has been furious with the sanctions, particularly since one of the scientists did not even visit Iran. Analysts here tend to look at the move through the prism of deteriorating US-Iran relations and categorize it as a not-so-subtle message to India about its ties with Iran.

Although India has been remarkably nonchalant in its views about Iran's nuclear programme, it is only recently that the full import of its implications have dawned on Indian policymakers.
The fact that Iran is at daggers drawn with Saudi Arabia and Israel makes Iran's present nuclear stance that much more dangerous. Observers believe that Iran crossing the nuclear threshold will be followed by Saudi Arabia.

Besides, Israel could just as well do an Osirak and "take out" Iran's nuclear capability, a reality that Iran must have contended with.

It is probably this reality that the German foreign minister Joschka Fischer referred to when he urged Iran "to fulfill its commitments and to avoid miscalculation that will lead us into a very serious situation".

Iran's problems are compounded by the fact that the US believes it is aiding the Al Qaeda leader Al Zarqawi, currently the US' biggest bugbear.

The United States on Monday warned Iran against providing any type of support to Al-Qaeda-linked foreign militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and his Tawhid wal Jihad group, saying it would be a "very, very serious matter."

"We have generally been very concerned about some of the reports of Iranian activity in Iraq," spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The forthcoming US elections too hold out no hope for Iran, because both the presidential hopefuls have been voluble about coming down strongly on Iran.

John Kerry has even accused Bush of going soft on Iran. Dixit, according to an MEA statement, met the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi."

Iran exports over 68 tons of saffron

Iran exports over 68 tons of saffron: "Iran exports over 68 tons of saffron
Tehran, Oct 19, IRNA -- Iran exported over 68 tons of saffron valued at 37.7 million dollars during the first half of the current Iranian calendar year of 1383 (started March 20, 2004).
The volume of exported saffron registered rises of 29.8 percent and 52.2 percent in terms of weight and value respectively compared to the same period in the preceding year (1382), the Public Relations Department of Iran's Customs Administration announced here on Tuesday.

Some 15,271 tons of herbal medicine and industrial herbs valued at 50.35 million dollars were exported from the country during the said period which showed a decline of 32 percent and a rise of 18.7 percent in terms of weight and value respectively compared to those of the last year.

Iran exported 4,396 tons of tobacco valued at 2.51 million dollars during the first six months of the current year which showed increases of 49.9 percent and 68.4 percent in terms of weight and value compared to the similar figures in 1382.

Some 128 tons of cotton valued at 164,255 dollars were exported from Iran which showed decreases of 96.8 percent and 96 percent in terms of weight and value respectively compared to the first half of the preceding year."

Iran prefers Bush over Kerry

Iran prefers Bush over Kerry: "Iran prefers Bush over Kerry
20/10/2004 12:16 - (SA)

Iran - United States President George W Bush made Iran a charter member of his axis of evil, accuses it of sheltering al-Qaeda and leads the charge to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions but still got an Iranian endorsement on Tuesday over Democrat John Kerry.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.

"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one US presidential candidate over another.

"We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton," Rowhani said. "And we should not forget that during Bush's era, despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran, he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into US presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights issues.

"We do not desire to see Democrats take over," Rowhani said when asked if Iran was supporting Kerry against Bush.

On the US campaign trail, both candidates' camps responded coolly to Rowhani's comments.

No to endorsement

"It's not an endorsement we'll be accepting anytime soon," said Bush campaign spokesperson Scott Stanzel, who called on Iran to "stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons."

Kerry spokesperson Allison Dobson played down Rowhani's comments, saying, "it is telling that this president has received the endorsement of member of the axis of evil."

The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran after militants stormed the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Iranian clerics were crucial in determining the fate of the 1980 US election: Republican Ronald Reagan won mainly because Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter was unable to secure the hostages' release.

The hostages were freed as Reagan was inaugurated.

The United States supported Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, but by the late 1990s, US-Iranian relations were somewhat better. They plummeted again after Bush accused Iran of being part of the "axis of evil" with North Korea and pre-war Iraq.

The Bush administration also accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons and sheltering operatives of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network. Still, Iran is happy to see Bush destroy two big regional enemies: the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Iran, along with Syria, has been widely speculated regionally to be a future US military target. However, Rowhani appeared to dismiss that prospect."

Iran test fires new Shahab-3 missile -

Iran test fires new Shahab-3 missile -: "Iran test fires new Shahab-3 missile
10/20/2004 12:40:00 PM GMT

Forex/USD$
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A Shahab-3 missile on display during a military parade in Tehran


Iran announced Wednesday that it has launched a new test for a more accurate version of its Shihab-3 medium-range missile.

"Iran test fired a more accurate version of the Shahab-3 in the presence of observers," Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told Reuters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

Iran’s fast growing progress in its ballistic missile programme stirs concerns of the international community, already stepping up pressure against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Iran stressed more than once that its missile program is purely deterrent and has repetitively denied American and Israeli claims that it wants to develop nuclear warheads which the Shihab-3 could deliver.

Previous tests had put the missile's range at between 1,300 and 1,700 kilometres, already bringing arch-enemy Israel and U.S. bases in the region well within range.

The official IRNA news agency quoted earlier an influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying that Iran is now capable of launching a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers.

The missile is capable of reaching Israel and parts of southeastern Europe.

"Experts know that a country that possesses this can obtain all subsequent stages" in missile production, Rafsanjani told staff at the Aerospace Research Institute in Tehran.

Shahab is the Persian word for meteor. It’s design is based on the North Korean Nodong-1 and modified with Russian technology.

Shahab-3 was first deployed to Iran's Revolutionary Guard in July last year.

Israel and the United States have developed the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, one of very rare systems capable of intercepting and destroying missiles at high altitudes.

Its development followed the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles that struck Israel.

The Arrow was developed by Israel Aircraft Industries and Boeing Co. at a cost of more than $1 billion.

The "Shihab" is Iran's longest-range ballistic missile. The country launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo."

Iran endorses Bush for president

Iran endorses Bush for president: "Iran endorses Bush for president
Security council chief: 'We haven't seen anything good from Democrats.'

TEHRAN, Iran -- The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's "axis of evil" label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions for the country's nuclear ambitions.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.

"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another.

Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into U.S. presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights issues.

"We do not desire to see Democrats take over," Rowhani said when asked whether Iran was supporting Democratic Sen. John Kerry against Bush.

"It's not an endorsement we'll be accepting anytime soon," Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said in response. "Iran should stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and if they continue in the direction they are going, then we will have to look at what additional action may need to be taken, including looking to the U.N. Security Council.""