Monday, November 29, 2004

Gholam Shire'i meets Iraqi VP - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper

Gholam Shire'i meets Iraqi VP - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper: "Gholam Shire'i meets Iraqi VP
Nov 29, 2004, 14:09

Iran's mullah-run majlis speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel known as "Gholam Shire'i" in majlis said here Sunday that timely elections in Iraq will signal the return of national sovereignty and the withdrawal of alien forces.

Making the remark at a meeting with visiting Iraqi Vice President Ebrahim Jafari, he said that Iran had been urging independence, unity and territorial integrity for Iraq.

Gholam Shire'i said a democratic and Islamic government in Iraq was in the interest of Iran and the region as a whole.

The Speaker said that the timely holding of elections in Iraq would lead to the restoration of security in the country.

Gholam Shire'i also expressed hope that elections would bring stability, which is necessary for the overall development of the country.

Jafari, for his part, called on Iranians to share their experiences in parliamentary affairs with the Iraqis."

Tehran flexible on nuclear ambition ahead of crucial EU talks

Tehran flexible on nuclear ambition ahead of crucial EU talks: "Tehran flexible on nuclear ambition ahead of crucial EU talks

TEHRAN (AFP) Nov 04, 2004
Iran appeared set Thursday to bow to a key European demand aimed at ending a dispute with the international community over its nuclear program, at least temporarily, in the hope of avoiding a crisis.
Iranian and European officials are due to meet in Paris on Friday for the latest stage of talks that Tehran has described as "crucial".

The EU, represented by Britain, France and Germany, is trying to convince Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities in order to avert the threat of UN-imposed sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet on November 25 to decide whether to haul Tehran before the UN Security Council over its nuclear ambitions.

The United States accuses Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian atomic energy program, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran.

On Tuesday one of Iran's top nuclear negotiators, Hossein Mousavian, said his country might agree to suspend enrichment for six months, in order to give time to negotiate an agreement with the Europeans.

But he added: "Cessation is rejected. Indefinite suspension is rejected. Suspension shall be a confidence-building measure and a voluntary decision by Iran and in no way a legal obligation."

Europe's three powers are offering Iran nuclear technology, including access to nuclear fuel, increased trade and help with Tehran's regional security concerns if the Islamic Republic halts enrichment.

Uranium enrichment is the process which makes fuel for civilian reactors but can also be used to manufacture the material for the explosive core of nuclear weapons.

Tehran has so far refused an indefinite suspension, demanding instead more "concrete" proposals.

Western diplomats say the suspension must be indefinite as that is the only guarantee that nuclear fuel used in Iranian reactors is not subsequently diverted to a military purpose.

But the Europeans have also said they would be satisfied with an interim suspension, during which time a more permanent solution could be found.

"I hope that the problems will be solved within a reasonable period of time, during which we could accept to suspend" enrichment, an advisor to President Mohammad Khatami, Hassan Ghafurifard, said on state television.

The atmosphere surrounding Friday's talks is already more relaxed than it has been on previous occasions.

"Neither Iranians nor Europeans want to be stuck in a dead end. Both sides are pragmatic, have worked hard and made concessions," Iran's former representative at the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, told AFP.

Europe is treading carefully in negotiations, knowing that any suspension of nuclear activities by Iran must also be verifiable by the IAEA ahead of its November 25 meeting, putting more pressure on both sides.

The Iranian parliament has already passed a bill authorising uranium enrichment, and may yet pass a law obliging the government to resume the process.

Whatever happens ahead of the IAEA meeting, European diplomats do not exclude referring Iran to the UN Security Council at a later date.

Meanwhile, some observers are expecting Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei to pronounce on the matter when he leads prayers in the capital on Friday."

The Australian: Michael Ledeen: Iran is too big a problem for Israel, US Must Fight Israel's Battles

The Australian: Michael Ledeen: Defusing the Iran dilemma [November 30, 2004]: "Michael Ledeen: Defusing the Iran dilemma

November 30, 2004
THE European "solution" to the threat of Iranian atomic bombs is likely to join the Mideast "peace process" as the most hysterical running gag in the history of show biz. Every few months, the elegantly dressed diplomatic wizards from London, Paris and Berlin race across a continent or two to meet Iranians dressed in turbans and gowns, and after some hours of alleged hard work, they emerge with a new agreement, just like their more numerous counterparts engaged in the "peace process".

The main difference is that the peace process deals seem to last for several months, while the schemes hammered out with the mullahs rarely last more than a week or two. Otherwise, it's the same sort of vaudeville routine: a few laughs, with promises of more to come.

The latest Iranian shenanigan may have set a record for speed. Last Monday, they announced they had stopped the centrifuges that were enriching uranium. Then, on Tuesday, they asked for permission to run the centrifuges again. The Europeans sternly said "no". The next scene will be at Turtle Bay, with brief interruptions for somewhat off-colour remarks about sexual harassment at high levels (so to speak) of the UN.

No serious person can believe that the negotiations are going to block, or even seriously delay, the Iranian race to acquire atomic bombs. The European posturing is the Western counterpart of the Iranian deception, a ritual dance designed to put a flimsy veil over the nakedness of the real activities. The old-fashioned name for this sort of thing is "appeasement", and was best described by Churchill, describing Chamberlain's infamous acceptance of Hitler's conditions at Munich in 1938. Chamberlain had to choose between war and dishonour, opted for the latter and got the former as well. That is now the likely fate of Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder.

They surely know this. Why do they accept it?

For starters, they have huge financial interests tied up with the Iranian regime (billions of dollars worth of oil and gas contracts, plus other trade agreements, some already signed, others in the works). Iran, furthermore, is the last place in the Middle East where they can play an active diplomatic role. This is particularly acute for France, which knows it will long be a pariah to free Iraqi governments and views Iran as its last chance to thwart the dominant US role in the region. Sad to say, there is no evidence that the Europeans give a tinker's damn either about the destiny of the Iranian people, or about Iran's leading role in international terrorism, or about the Islamic Republic joining the nuclear club.

I think they expect Iran to "go nuclear" in the near future, at which point they will tell George W. Bush that there is no option but to accept the brutal facts: the world's leading sponsor of terrorism in possession of atomic bombs and the missiles needed to deliver them on regional and European targets -- and "come to terms" with the mullahcracy. But if Bush found a way to prevent Iran from acquiring atomic bombs, it might well wreck the Europeans' grand appeasement strategy.

There is certainly no risk that the UN will do anything serious, which is why the Europeans keep insisting that it is the only "legitimate" forum for any discussion of the Iranian nuclear menace.

At the same time, I suspect that the Europeans, like many US diplomats, would be secretly pleased if someone else -- that is to say, Israel -- were to "do something" to rid them of this problem. When they whisper that thought to themselves in the privacy of their own offices or the darkness of their own bedrooms, they mentally replay the Israeli bombing of the nuclear reactor in Osirak, Iraq, in 1981, an attack they publicly condemned and privately extolled. They would do the same tomorrow, sighing in relief as they tighten the noose around Israel's neck. Rarely has the metaphor of the scapegoat been so appropriate: the burden of our sins of omission loaded on to the Israelis, who are then sacrificed to atone for us all.

This may seem sheer wishful thinking, but wishful thinking is an important part of foreign policy. The idea that "we don't need to do anything, because so-and-so will do our dirty work for us" has been central to Western strategy in the Middle East for several years.

For example, it was practised by Bush the Elder in 1991 at the end of Desert Storm, when the president openly mused that it would be simply wonderful if the Kurds and Shi'ites overthrew Saddam Hussein. They tried it, foolishly believing that if things went badly the US would support them. But Bush the First was quite serious about his wishful thinking, and stood by as Saddam slaughtered them -- the scapegoats of the hour -- by the tens of thousands. Similar wishful thinking is now at the heart of European -- and probably a good deal of US -- strategic thinking about the Iranian nuclear project.

Israel won't solve this problem. It is militarily very daunting and successive Israeli governments have believed that Iran is too big a problem for them. If it is to be solved, it will have to be solved by the US and her allies. Iran is the keystone of the terrorist edifice and we are doomed to confront it sooner or later, nuclear or not.

As luck would have it, we have a real chance to remove the terror regime in Tehran without any military action, but rather through political means -- by supporting the Iranian democratic opposition. According to the regime itself, upwards of 70 per cent of Iranians oppose the regime, want freedom, and look to America for political support. Like the Yugoslavs who opposed Milosovic, and the Ukrainians now demonstrating for freedom, they're entitled to the support of the free world.

Even if you believe that a nuclear Iran is inevitable, is it not infinitely better to have those atomic bombs in the hands of pro-Western Iranians, chosen by their own people, than in the grip of fanatical theocratic tyrants dedicated to the destruction of the Western satans?

Michael Ledeen, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, is author of The War Against the Terror Masters (St Martin's Press, 2002). He is in Australia this week as a guest of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council."

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Op-ed / A key role for Europe in US-Iran conflict

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Op-ed / A key role for Europe in US-Iran conflict: "A key role for Europe in US-Iran conflict
By Robert Kuttner | November 29, 2004

BERLIN
EUROPE's initiative to prevent a military confrontation between the United States and Iran represents a new coming of age in world affairs for a Europe often described as an economic giant but a geo-political dwarf. Nowhere is this more true than in Germany.

The European initiative, led by Germany, France, and Britain, would give Iran major economic benefits in exchange for the Iranians giving up their aspirations to become a nuclear power. Specifically, Tehran would get membership in the World Trade Organization, trade deals, security guarantees, and nuclear fuel for peaceful uses such as nuclear power generation.

A preliminary agreement in mid-November produced an Iranian commitment to suspend work on uranium enrichment, but a follow-up agreement is still to be negotiated, and nobody here expects a final deal until after the Iranian presidential election next year, since none of the candidates can afford politically to appear weak.

Any deal would need US approval, and Washington's view of the European initiative thus far has ranged from skeptical to contemptuous. The Bush administration believes, with good reason, that the Iranians have been lying about their nuclear program. Officials consider the Europeans naive. The more hawkish officials in the administration want "regime change" or a "surgical strike" against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Both options, however, will be far more difficult than in Iraq, since Iranian nuclear facilities are both dispersed and hardened, and since President Bush has just about run out of US ground troops in the Iraq occupation.

German officials point out that their Iran initiative is a breakthrough, since for the first time in recent memory the leading European powers are both united and proactive, as well as independent from Washington, on a major issue that threatens the peace.

Yet everyone I spoke with here took pains to point out that this initiative is not seen as an effort to have Europe outflank the United States, and there is sober concern about Iran playing off the United States against Europe. "In the end, this will be successful only if the United States goes along," said one senior Iran expert.

Another official told me, "There is no popular support here or anywhere in Europe, for Europe to be a counterweight to the United States." Rather, German officials see their role as demonstrating that there are diplomatic alternatives to a repeat of US Iraq policy in Iran.

Officials here are also sensitive to the American charge that European leaders are naive about what can be negotiated with Iran. "We accept that the Iranians are likely to try to cheat," a member of parliament close to the government told me." He added, "Even so, a agreement would buy time and would put in place a monitoring system that would make it less likely that Iran would cheat."

If the agreement does break down, this official adds, then Europe would have no choice but to join the United States in economic sanctions against Iran, but would try to discourage the Bush administration from pursuing a military option or seeking Security Council action that the Russians and Chinese would likely oppose.

American diplomats have long argued that nothing major happened on the world stage unless the United States orchestrated it. Even in the Balkan crisis of the mid-1990s, it took American leadership to deal with war and genocide right in Europe's backyard.

The only two notable exceptions were Chancellor Willy Brandt's efforts more than two decades ago to engage the Soviet Union and East Germany and British and French diplomatic efforts that helped produce the deal to trade an end for Libyan terrorism for an end to economic and diplomatic sanctions. Washington at first reacted to both of these initiatives with great unease.

European involvement in world affairs beyond continental borders has been welcomed by Washington only when Europe served as a junior partner to American designs -- as most of Europe refused to do in Iraq.

Against this background, what's noteworthy about the Iran initiative is that it represents an effort both to mend fences with Washington and to demonstrate that Europe can play a more proactive role that serves a common US-European purpose, in this case lowering tensions in the Middle East.

The Iraq war is monumentally unpopular here. Chancellor Schroeder has no practical choice but to oppose the Bush administration's Iraq policy and he gained politically by refusing to support the US invasion. But there is deep unease in the German government at the prospect of a continuing US-German breach.

For now, the Bush administration is neither encouraging nor blocking Europe's efforts with Iran. This is not quite a deliberate good cop/bad cop routine, though European leaders would be quite happy with that outcome.

Given the sheer unreality of US policy in the Middle East, one can only welcome this brand of European activism in world affairs -- and hope that the Bush administration, despite its conceit that America is the world's only superpower, grasps the benefits.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
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Shariatmadari: Measures to boost foreign trade outlined

IranMania News: "Measures to boost foreign trade outlined

Monday, November 29, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Nov 29 (IranMania) - Visiting Iranian Commerce Minister, who is on an official invitation, met late Saturday with Iranian and Kuwaiti entrepreneurs and traders to respond to their investment and trade inquiries in Iran.

Mohammad Shariatmadari expounded on steps taken by the Iranian government to expand foreign investments and international trade and touched on policies, which have been adopted to draw foreign investments, according to Iran Daily.

Iran has updated its foreign investment law to remove some of the obstacles previously faced by investors, he added.

The Minister pointed out that the new investment laws provides many facilities for international investors, including tax relief in many economic and free trade zones as well as offering many specialized services to foreign industrialists and traders.

"Also, information useful for foreign investors in doing business in Iran can be accessed from various government-related sources and on the Internet."

He rejected concerns expressed by Kuwaiti investors on business taxes in Iran saying that the taxes on foreign entrepreneurs are the same as those levied on their domestic counterparts.

He noted that the serious attention paid by the government to economic reforms including unification of foreign exchange rates, gradual removal of non-tariff barriers, ratification and implementation of Foreign Investment Law, new tax reform laws, eliminating financial collateral for exports, strengthening capital markets, establishing banks, and using foreign exchange reserve funds for economic stability are all positive steps to ensure economic growth.

The Minister added that to facilitate business transactions and building confidence, several Iranian banks had asked the Kuwait government for authorization to open branches in that country."

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Measures to boost foreign trade outlined

Monday, November 29, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Nov 29 (IranMania) - Visiting Iranian Commerce Minister, who is on an official invitation, met late Saturday with Iranian and Kuwaiti entrepreneurs and traders to respond to their investment and trade inquiries in Iran.

Mohammad Shariatmadari expounded on steps taken by the Iranian government to expand foreign investments and international trade and touched on policies, which have been adopted to draw foreign investments, according to Iran Daily.

Iran has updated its foreign investment law to remove some of the obstacles previously faced by investors, he added.

The Minister pointed out that the new investment laws provides many facilities for international investors, including tax relief in many economic and free trade zones as well as offering many specialized services to foreign industrialists and traders.

"Also, information useful for foreign investors in doing business in Iran can be accessed from various government-related sources and on the Internet."

He rejected concerns expressed by Kuwaiti investors on business taxes in Iran saying that the taxes on foreign entrepreneurs are the same as those levied on their domestic counterparts.

He noted that the serious attention paid by the government to economic reforms including unification of foreign exchange rates, gradual removal of non-tariff barriers, ratification and implementation of Foreign Investment Law, new tax reform laws, eliminating financial collateral for exports, strengthening capital markets, establishing banks, and using foreign exchange reserve funds for economic stability are all positive steps to ensure economic growth.

The Minister added that to facilitate business transactions and building confidence, several Iranian banks had asked the Kuwait government for authorization to open branches in that country."