Monday, January 17, 2005

BBC NEWS | Bush using Military to Circumvent Law in Iran

BBC NEWS | Americas | US special forces 'inside Iran': "US special forces 'inside Iran'

Iran says its military is prepared for a US strike on its nuclear sites
US commandos are operating inside Iran selecting sites for future air strikes, says the American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.
In the New Yorker magazine, Hersh says intelligence officials have revealed that Iran is the Bush administration's "next strategic target".

Hersh says that American special forces have conducted reconnaissance missions inside Iran for six months.

But the White House has described his article as "riddled with inaccuracies".

The authorities in Islamabad have also denied Hersh's charge that the special forces were working with a group of Pakistani scientists who had contact with Iranian colleagues.

"There is no such collaboration," Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said, adding that the report was "far-fetched" and that Pakistan knew little about the Iranian nuclear programme.

An intelligence official, quoted by Hersh, said Washington had given Islamabad an assurance in exchange for information that it would not have to hand over AQ Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear programme who last year admitted to illegally transferring nuclear secrets.

Sniffers

Potential targets include nuclear sites and missile installations, he says.

The New Yorker journalist adds that President Bush has authorised the operations, defining them as military to avoid legal restrictions on CIA covert intelligence activities overseas.

They constitute a revival of a form of covert US military activity used in the 1980s, notably in support of the Nicaraguan Contras.

The task force has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan and leaving remote detection devices known as sniffers capable of testing for radioactive emissions in the atmosphere, Hersh says.

He reports as well that American special forces units have been authorised to conduct covert operations in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

Hersh bases his claims on anonymous sources, including former intelligence officials and consultants with links to the Pentagon.

One such consultant is quoted as saying that the civilians in the Pentagon wanted to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible.

'Riddled with inaccuracies'

There have also been calls from Pentagon hawks to use a limited attack on Iran to topple the country's religious leadership, one of Hersh's sources said.

The article has already drawn fire from the White House: the communications director, Dan Bartlett, called it "riddled with inaccuracies".

"I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact," Mr Bartlett added.

He said the diplomatic approach was still the priority.

"No president, at any juncture in history has ever taken military options off the table," he said. "But what President Bush has shown is that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are under way right now."

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that while Hersh could be wrong he has a series of scoops to his name, including the details of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal last year.

His track record suggests that he should be taken seriously, our correspondent says. "

Third Salt Man discovered in northwestern Iran

Third Salt Man discovered in northwestern Iran: "Third Salt Man discovered in northwestern Iran
TEHRAN, Jan. 17 (MNA) -- The remains of a skeleton of a man were recently discovered at the Chehrabad salt mine near Zanjan in northwestern Iran.

The third Salt Man’s body was buried under a two-ton rock, Amir Elahi, the director of the excavation team at the mine, said on Monday.

Several items such as a leather sack full of salt, a clay tallow burner, two pairs of leather shoes, and two cow horns were also discovered near the skeleton, added Elahi.

According to the director of the Zanjan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, Yahya Rahmati, the Salt Man was killed and buried by the two-ton rock, severely damaging the skeleton, but the items discovered beside him are in excellent condition.

“The newly discovered leather sack was full of crystals of salt and was completely tightened. This indicates that the owner was about to carry it out of the mine, but was suddenly crushed by the heavy rock, leaving him no chance to escape,” he added.

“The discovery of the remains of the skeleton near the rock proves the theory about a mine collapse at a specific time,” he said, adding that although the three skeletons were discovered close to each other, more studies are required to accurately date the remains.

He also announced that two more old tunnels, which were the major passages of the mine, were discovered during the recent excavation.

The second Salt Man was discovered at the Hamzehlu salt mine near Zanjan. The remains of the skeleton are almost perfect, and they include parts of the skull, jaw, both arms, as well as the left and right legs and feet.

Several pieces of wool cloth and a piece of a straw mat with a unique style of weaving were also discovered beside the second Salt Man. The remains are currently being kept at the Zanjan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department.

The second skeleton was found 30 to 40 meters from the place where the first Salt Man was discovered.

The first Salt Man, a miner whose body was preserved by the salt, lived over 1700 years ago. He was also a man between the ages of 35 and 40. His remains are currently being kept in a glass case at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran.

The first Salt Man’s withered face stares into the distance. He has long white hair and a beard and was discovered wearing leather boots and with some tools and a walnut in his possession. "

Iran's population growth rate has averaged 1.4 percent

Iran's population growth rate has averaged 1.4 percent: "1/17/05
Iran's population growth rate has averaged 1.4 percent
Tehran, Jan 17, IRNA -- Iran's Management and Plan Organization (MPO) said here Sunday that the annual average population growth rate is 1.4 percent.
It added that the figure exceeds the estimates envisioned by the Third Five-Year Development Plan (March 2000-2005).

Repatriation of Afghan refugees and migration of Iranian have contributed to the reduction of the population growth rate, the MPO stated.

The total population of the country was put at 66,680 million in the last Iranian year (ended March 19), "which is 400,000 lower than the estimates of the third development plan."

The population's mean and median age has also gradually dropped, the report added.

Along with lower age of the population, youth unemployment remains one of the biggest challenges for national planners.

A report commissioned by the MPO and Iran Youth Organization (IYO) released here in November predicted that if the annual unemployment rate of 13.2 percent holds up then the jobless rate among 15-29 age group will reach 52 percent within two years.

It added currently over 31 percent of the 15 to 29 years old are unemployed. The current unemployment rate in the age brackets 15-19 and 20-24 years is 34 percent and for 25-29 years the figure stands at 16 percent.

In 1996-1997 the jobless rate stood at 14.8 percent among the 15 to 29 year group increasing to 27.5 percent in the Iranian year ending March 20, 2001.

"On the average the unemployment rate was 13.2 percent during the period," the report added.

The report further cautions on adverse implications for the country given the importance of youth employment in shaping trends in the domestic economy and the expected wave of new entries in the below 30-year age group in the job market in the next few years.

In August, Iran and the United Nations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to resolve the problem of youth unemployment in the country, said the head of IYO."

Analysis: Price Controls Get Mixed Reception In Iran - By Bill Samii

RADIO FREE EUROPE/ RADIO LIBERTY: "Analysis: Price Controls Get Mixed Reception In Iran
By Bill Samii

"Young physicians in our country live below the poverty line," Dr. Iraj Khosronia, head of the General Practitioners Society, said in a 15 January interview, "Resalat" reported the next day. He said they earn less than 1.5 million rials (about $190) per month. After completing medical school, the young physicians do their compulsory military service, Khosronia said, but then some of them leave the medical profession to work in other, more lucrative fields.


One of the means by which the government is trying to reduce the adverse impact of low earnings is by implementing price controls. On 11 January the legislature approved a bill to stabilize prices during the year starting March 2005, Mehr News Agency reported. This measure is intended to confront inflation and will affect the price of gasoline and other petroleum products, gas, electricity, water, telephone, and postal services. One day later the bill was modified so gasoline rationing would not take place in the second half of the Iranian year (21 March 2005-20 March 2006), "Sharq" reported. 63 million liters of gasoline is consumed in Iran every day, and 23 million liters of gasoline is imported. Deputy parliamentary speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar predicted that rationing would be required if imports are stopped, and he recommended postponing this measure.

Price controls appear to be popular. A survey by the parliamentary research center found that 72.6 percent of 1,300 respondents in Tehran said this measure would control inflation, "Kayhan" reported on 10 January. Some 81 percent of respondents also objected to the proposal to increase gasoline prices to 2,000 rials per liter ($0.25).

Gasoline currently costs 800 rials (about $0.10) per liter. Each liter of imported gasoline costs 2,800 rials and each liter of domestically produced gasoline costs 2,500 rials, Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Aqai said on 28 July, according to IRNA. Gasoline consumption in Iran is very high because many automobiles are old and poorly maintained, and because there are not enough new automobiles available.

Gasoline consumption in Iran is very high because many automobiles are old and poorly maintained, and because there are not enough new automobiles available. Moreover, much of the inexpensive gasoline that is available is smuggled out of the country. Deputy Oil Minister Aqai said on 21 September that 1.5 million liters of gasoline are smuggled across the border daily, IRNA reported.

Not everybody welcomes the idea of price controls, particularly the executive branch and reformist legislators. Reformist parliamentarian Iraj Nadimi said prior to the price-stabilization bill's approval that this is not a new plan and it is not even a very good one, "Farhang-i Ashti" reported on 10 January. He went on to describe the discussions on the plan's formulation as more political than economic. "Sharq" described the price-stabilization plan as a measure intended to earn public support during the upcoming presidential election.

Parliamentary speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel denounced critics of the bill as demagogues motivated by the election, "Resalat" reported on 12 January. Speaking in populist terms, he asked, "Is this policy advantageous to the poor and the people?"

Reports from the eastern part of the country, where a six-year drought has compounded the situation, indicate the difficulties some Iranians are facing. A neighborhood in Birjand, the capital of South Khorasan Province, consists of "half-finished houses built with tin and fruit boxes," "Ava-yi Birjand" reported on 5 September. There is one water tap to serve the neighborhood, and the municipality reportedly demanded 2 million to 3 million rials from each family if they want water service. A resident said that some homes have no electricity, and local sanitation is "very limited." Garbage collection takes place just once a week. A teacher from the city said many of her students are malnourished, "Ava-yi Birjand" reported on 19 October.

"Mardom Salari" reported on 5 August that the drought's destruction of farmland and rising unemployment have forced many people in Birjand to earn a living through fuel smuggling."

US conducting military operations inside Iran: report

News: "US conducting military operations inside Iran: report
01-16-2005, 23h01

- (AFP/Isis-HO/File)
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Teams of US commandos have entered Iran searching for hidden sites that could be working on developing nuclear weapons.

The government of President George W. Bush has authorized secret military missions inside Iran at least since mid-2004, the The New Yorker magazine reports in its Monday edition.

Their goal is to identify target information for up to 26 suspected nuclear, chemical and missile sites, according to the magazine.

"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq, is just one campaign," a former high-level government intelligence official told the magazine.

"The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah -- we've got our years, and we want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism," the official said.

A top government consultant with close ties with the Pentagon told the magazine that the Pentagon civilians -- especially Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and their fellow neo-conservatives -- "want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure and possible."

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz believe that Iran's clerical regime could not withstand a military blow and would collapse, the magazine reports."

FT.com / Home UK - US Congress targets Iran for regime change

FT.com / Home UK - US Congress targets Iran for regime change: "US Congress targets Iran for regime change
By Guy Dinmore in Washington
Published: January 17 2005 22:05 | Last updated: January 17 2005 22:05

Support for “regime change” in Iran is growing in Congress, encouraging new exiled opposition groups supported by Washington's neoconservatives to spring up in the hope of receiving US funding.


Having adopted legislation in the past aimed at Cuba and Iraq, Republicans and Democrats in both houses are starting to champion political reform in Tehran.

The activity comes amid a magazine report that the US has been carrying out secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran in preparation for possible military strikes.

However, Dan Bartlett, a counsellor to George W. Bush, US president, said the article by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker magazine was “riddled with inaccuracies”.

Lawrence DiRita, Pentagon spokesman, said Mr Hersh had been fed with “rumour, innuendo and assertions about meetings that never happened, programmes that do not exist, and statements by officials that were never made”.

One Washington exile group the Alliance for Democracy in Iran describes itself as an opposition umbrella group that would act as a “clearing house” for US taxpayers' money dedicated to advancing the cause of democracy.

“Our true purpose is to empower the Iranian people, to change the regime to become more democratic,” said Kamal Azari, the alliance president. He stressed that the group renounced violence.

In Congress, the proposed Iran Freedom and Support Act calls on the Bush administration to back “regime change” and promote alliances with opposition groups that renounce terrorism.

A similar bill in the House does not mention regime change but would back pro-democracy groups."

Longstreth, Seidman, and Roth new members in 2004 The Board of Trustees of The Textile Museum

"THE TEXTILE MUSEUM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2004
Contact: Rachel Bucci, Dir. of Mktg. & Comm.
(202) 667-0441, ext. 42
The Textile Museum Elects
Three New Members to Board of Trustees
February 12, 2004, Washington, DC — The Board of Trustees of The Textile
Museum recently appointed three new members: Bevis Longstreth of New York, NY;
Stanley Roth of Alexandria, VA; and Michael M. Seidman of Washington, DC.
At the December 2003 meeting of The Textile Museum’s Board of Trustees
three new members were elected. Bevis Longstreth is a retired partner from the New
York law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton. He is a Trustee of the New School for Social
Research and The Nathan Cummings Foundation. Mr. Longstreth will serve as chair of
the Board’s Legal Committee, and as a member of the Budget & Finance Committee, the
Development Committee, and the Nominating Committee.
Stanley Roth is Vice President, Asia International Relations at The Boeing
Company. Formerly he was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs
in the Clinton administration. Mr. Roth will serve on the Budget & Finance Committee,
and the Development Committee.
Newly-elected Trustee Michael Seidman has been actively involved with The
Textile Museum for more than 20 years. He is a molecular biologist at NIH National
Institute on Aging (NIA) in Baltimore. Mr. Seidman will serve as co-chair of the
Collections Committee and as a member of the Exhibitions Committee, and the
Development Committee.
-more-
2320 S STREET, NW, WASHINGTON DC · (202) 667-0441 · www.textilemuseum.org
New Trustees – pg. 2
Media inquiries: please contact Rachel Bucci, Director of Marketing &
Communications, at (202) 667-0441, ext. 42 or by email at rbucci@textilemuseum.org."