Thursday, January 20, 2005

Expatica - Living in, moving to, or working in Germany, plus German news in English

Expatica - Living in, moving to, or working in Germany, plus German news in English: "Berlin says US pressure on Iran may fuel deal

20 January 2005

BERLIN - A German official said that United States military pressure on Iran could help European diplomatic efforts to clinch a deal with Teheran over its nuclear programme.

"If the Iranians know that if this peaceful resolution does not work that the Americans will raise pressure with non-peaceful means, it could perhaps boost their readiness to make compromises and give up the nuclear weapons they are possibly planning," said Karsten Voigt, the German government coordinator for ties with Washington.

Voigt told Deutsche Welle TV on Wednesday he still believed diplomatic efforts were the best way to defuse the ongoing crisis over

Iran's nuclear programme.

Earlier, a spokesman for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder underlined that the US had a "basic right" to hold open "all options" with regard to Iran.

Chief chancellery spokesman Bela Anda told reporters the US refusal to rule out military action over Iran's nuclear programme - underlined by US President George W. Bush on Monday - was "nothing new."

Germany strongly opposed the Iraq war, and Bush's comments on Iran fuelled considerable public debate in the country.

Berlin is part of the European Union (EU) "Big Three" with Britain and France which is seeking to hammer out a diplomatic deal with Teheran.

Under the deal, Iran would guarantee to refrain from building nuclear weapons and halt uranium enrichment in exchange for trade and technology concessions from Europe.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is scheduled to meet next week with designated US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The meeting would probably take place on Tuesday with a final announcement due in coming days.

Schroeder is due to have talks with President Bush who is set to visit Germany on 23 February as part of a European tour."

Expatica - Living in, moving to, or working in Germany, plus German news in English

Expatica - Living in, moving to, or working in Germany, plus German news in English: "Berlin says US pressure on Iran may fuel deal

20 January 2005

BERLIN - A German official said that United States military pressure on Iran could help European diplomatic efforts to clinch a deal with Teheran over its nuclear programme.

"If the Iranians know that if this peaceful resolution does not work that the Americans will raise pressure with non-peaceful means, it could perhaps boost their readiness to make compromises and give up the nuclear weapons they are possibly planning," said Karsten Voigt, the German government coordinator for ties with Washington.

Voigt told Deutsche Welle TV on Wednesday he still believed diplomatic efforts were the best way to defuse the ongoing crisis over

Iran's nuclear programme.

Earlier, a spokesman for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder underlined that the US had a "basic right" to hold open "all options" with regard to Iran.

Chief chancellery spokesman Bela Anda told reporters the US refusal to rule out military action over Iran's nuclear programme - underlined by US President George W. Bush on Monday - was "nothing new."

Germany strongly opposed the Iraq war, and Bush's comments on Iran fuelled considerable public debate in the country.

Berlin is part of the European Union (EU) "Big Three" with Britain and France which is seeking to hammer out a diplomatic deal with Teheran.

Under the deal, Iran would guarantee to refrain from building nuclear weapons and halt uranium enrichment in exchange for trade and technology concessions from Europe.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is scheduled to meet next week with designated US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The meeting would probably take place on Tuesday with a final announcement due in coming days.

Schroeder is due to have talks with President Bush who is set to visit Germany on 23 February as part of a European tour."

Trinidad News, "Let's attack Iran!"

Trinidad News, Trinidad Newspaper, Trinidad Sports, Trinidad politics, Trinidad and Tobago, Tobago News, Trinidad classifieds, Trinidad TV, Sports, Business: "Let's attack Iran!

By GWYNNE DYER
Wednesday, January 19th 2005
Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article about American forces carrying out reconnaissance missions in Iran to locate hidden Iranian nuclear facilities, presumably in order to be able to destroy them all in a surprise attack, may be "riddled with errors,'' as the White House promptly alleged. It may be entirely true. And either way, it may have been deliberately leaked by the Bush administration to frighten Iran. But what was really revealing was the US media response to it.

There seems to be hardly anyone in the mainstream US media who is willing to question the assumption that Iranian nuclear weapons would be, say, ten times more dangerous than Chinese nuclear weapons. Yet China is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship while Iran is a partially democratic country struggling, so far unsuccessfully, to rid itself of the clique of deeply conservative mullahs who have dominated defence and foreign policy (together with much else) since 1979. Why is Iran seen as such a threat?

There was never an equivalent panic at the prospect of Chinese nuclear weapons. And it's not just that China was too big to think of attacking, whereas Iran is just right: 70 million Iranians in a country three times the size of Iraq is a very big chunk to bite off militarily, especially since the US already has Iraq on its plate.

It's not even as simple as the fact that Iran is Muslim, and that Americans have got really twitchy about Muslims with nuclear weapons since September 11. They have, but there is no public anxiety in the US about Pakistan's nuclear weapons, let alone any agitation for some sort of "pre-emptive attack'' to destroy them-and this despite the fact that a senior Pakistani nuclear scientist was caught selling nuclear weapons technology and knowledge to other Muslim countries, almost certainly with the complicity of some official circles in Islamabad.

Iran is not a "crazy state.'' In the 25 years that the mullahs have been in power, they have not attacked any neighbouring state. When Iraq invaded Iran in the 1980s (with American encouragement and support), they fought a bitter eight-year war to repel the invasion but accepted a negotiated peace that simply restored the status quo.

They backed their fellow Shias in southern Lebanon in their long resistance to the Israeli occupation and continue to help them today- but if that is support for "terrorism,'' it is only in the specific context of Arab resistance to Israeli military occupation. The only incident of international terrorism in which there was ever suspicion of Iranian involvement was the bombing of a American airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988, allegedly in retaliation for the shooting down of an Iranian airliner in the Gulf by a US warship-but the Lockerbie attack was eventually pinned on Libya instead.

As for the Iranian nuclear weapons programme, which almost certainly does exist in some form or other, its goal is presumably to create a deterrent to Israel's hundreds of nuclear weapons. Since Israel has about a 40-year head-start in nuclear weapons production, Iran cannot realistically hope to achieve a first-strike capability against it, but even a few Iranian nuclear weapons that might survive to strike back would effectively remove a nuclear attack on Iran from Israel's list of options.

Iran's nuclear programme is not about the US, and the notion that the Iranian government would give terrorists nuclear weapons to attack American targets is just paranoid fantasy. Besides, Iran doesn't have any nuclear weapons yet, and if it sticks to the agreement it negotiated with the European contact group (Britain, France and Germany) late last year, it may never have them.

So why this apparent haste in the Bush administration to attack Iran now, and why the seeming enthusiasm for such a hare-brained project in wide sections of the US public (or at least of the media that claim to speak in their name)? Edward Luttwak, the military historian and strategic analyst who is renowned in Washington for his maverick views, recently described US foreign policy post-9/11 almost as an exercise in emotional physics. Never mind all the elaborate strategic plans and projects of the neo-conservatives, he implied; what really drives all this is just push-back.

After 9/11, there was an enormous need in the US to do something big, to smash stuff up and punish people for the hurt that had been done to Americans. Afghanistan was a logical and legitimate target of that anger, but it fell practically without a fight and left the national need for vengeance unassuaged. The invasion of Iraq was an emotional necessity if the rage was to be discharged, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no threat to the United States.

In this interpretation, all the talk about attacking Iran is the last wave of this emotional binge running feebly up the beach, and it is unlikely to sweep everything away. The talk is still macho, but the performance is not there to back it up. What the US public gets for all the taxes it pays on defence - currently around $2,000 a year for every American man, woman and child- is armed forces that are barely capable of holding down one middle-sized Arab country.

There simply aren't any American troops available to invade Iran, and air strikes will only annoy them. What would really tip the whole area into an acute crisis is a re-radicalised Iran that has concluded that it will never be secure until it has expelled the US from the region.

- Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries."

Aljazeera.Net - Rice Strategy on Iran

Aljazeera.Net - Rice seeks unity against Iran, N Korea: "Strategy on Iran

Concerning Iran, which has been under US sanctions since 1979, Rice acknowledged that Washington had little leverage but was working with Britain, France and Germany to develop a strategy to hold Tehran accountable.

"I would take, as a first step, that if the Iranians do not show that they're going to live up to their international obligations that we refer them to the Security Council," she said, adding that "at some point that may be exactly where we need to go".

What Washington is saying is, "Iran has to be held to account for its international obligations", she added.

The US goal "is to have a regime in Iran that is responsive to concerns that we have about Iran's policies, which are 180 degrees to our own interest at this point", she said.

"That means the regime would have to deal with its nuclear weapons obligations, deal with the fact that there are al-Qaida leaders who have been there, deal with the fact that they're supporting Hizb Allah and terrorism and Palestinian rejectionists against the Middle East peace process," she said.

Concerning Tehran's nuclear aspirations, Rice said: "The world is sending a message to Iran that Iran cannot be a legitimate participant in the international system, international politics and pursue a nuclear weapon."
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Iran issues sharp warning to US - Sify.com

Iran issues sharp warning to US - Sify.com: "
Iran issues sharp warning to US

Wednesday, 19 January , 2005, 18:08

Tehran: Iran accused the United States on Wednesday of trying to disrupt its nuclear negotiations with the European Union by evoking the threat of a military strike, and warned Washington it would respond to any "unwise measure."

"With reliance on enormous popular support, diplomatic capacity and full military capability, the Islamic Republic of Iran will firmly respond to any unwise measure or plan," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement responding to "recent comments by US officials."

On Monday, US President George W. Bush said he could not rule out a resort to military action if the United States failed to persuade Iran to abandon a nuclear energy programme it charges is a cover for developing the bomb.

Iran vehemently denies that it is developing nuclear weapons.

"I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I won't ever take any option off the table," Bush told US network NBC.

US secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice called on Tuesday for world action to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons, and repeated a threat to haul Tehran before the UN Security Council for sanctions.

"We see such moves as a psychological campaign and political pressure," Asefi said.

He said one of the aims of the US administration was "not to help and enourage Europe to peacefully settle some disagreements through diplomacy and talks, but to disrupt the Iran-EU nuclear talks by pretending they are unsuccessful."

The EU "Big Three" -- Britain, France and Germany -- have been spearheading diplomatic efforts with Iran and are in the midst of crucial talks aimed at finding a long-term solution that would ease international worries.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is merely directed at generating electricity, but has suspended its sensitive work on the nuclear fuel cycle while the EU talks are in progress.

"We recommend the new American foreign minister avoids repeating past mistakes by reviewing America's wrong and unsuccessful policies of unilateralism and oppression," Asefi said of Rice.

"The United States of America has fallen into an abyss of several crises as a result of the wrong attitude of hardline neo-conservatives. There is no way out unless it reviews and corrects past mistakes."

The foreign ministry statement also followed a report in the New Yorker magazine on Monday that US commandos had been operating inside Iran since mid-2004 to search out potential targets for attack -- something the magazine said could come as early as mid-2005.

The Pentagon said the report was "riddled with errors."

Iran also dismissed the report, asserting that "American commandos are not able to enter Iran so easily to spy."

"It would simplistic to accept such an idea," said Ali Agha Mohammadi, a spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

"We know our borders," he added, also dismissing the report of US covert actions as part of a "psychological campaign" directed against Iran's clerical regime and "not even worth thinking about."

Influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani also declared late Tuesday that Iran would not be intimidated by "foreign enemies" and cautioned Washington against dreaming of an attack.

"We are not afraid of foreign enemies' threats and sanctions, since they know well that throughout its Islamic and ancient history, Iran has been no place for adventurism," Rafsanjani, a possible contender in the June presidential election, told the state news agency IRNA.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been investigating Iran for two years. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said there is no proof that Iran is hiding weapons work but that "the jury is still out.""

Iran's judiciary chief suspended the execution of four convicted hijackers

Gulf Daily News: "Iran execution halted

TEHRAN: Iran's judiciary chief suspended the execution of four convicted hijackers a few hours before they were due to be killed as the case involved two people aged under 18, newspapers said yesterday.

The four were found guilty of hijacking a YAK 140 passenger plane with 31 people on board in 2000 and trying to force it to land in the UAE, the Sharq newspaper said.

They were sentenced to death as "Mohareb", or as someone who makes war against God, a charge punishable by death under Islamic sharia law. It was upheld by the Supreme Court.

"Two of the convicts are under age 18 ... (Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi) Shahroudi wants special attention in such cases which involve juvenile criminals," the newspaper quoted judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad as saying."

Aljazeera.Net - Iranian dismisses Rice's "outposts of tyranny" comment

Aljazeera.Net - Iran and Palestine differ on Rice: "Iran and Palestine differ on Rice
By Lawrence Smallman

Thursday 20 January 2005, 10:46 Makka Time, 7:46 GMT

Iranian and Palestinian officials have reacted differently to a Senate panel's approval of Condoleezza Rice as the new US secretary of state.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 16-2 to approve Rice as Colin Powell's successor on Wednesday, a decision closely watched by officials in Tehran and Ram Allah.

Iranian radio immediately dismissed Rice's "outposts of tyranny" comment in which she accused the Islamic republic of oppressing its own people.

The Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (VIRI) said Washington had "offered nothing new" in its relations with Tehran.

"Echoing US President George Bush's 'axis of evil' comment, Rice merely reiterated the stance adopted by the American administration over the past three years," the station said.

Nothing new

"Rice expressed concern against Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, threatened to take Iran's case to the UN Security Council and repeated the baseless allegations concerning Iran's support for terrorism.

"Nevertheless ... she could not offer any other alternative. This shows that America does not have many alternatives in order to force Iran to move within the particular framework that follows American policies and safeguards the interests of that country," said VIRI analyst Aziz Allah Kheradmand.

Iran radio also said that the dearth of policy ideas was clear from Washington's decision "not to oppose the European initiative to maintain talks and constructive interaction with Iran".

"This is because America has no other tool at its disposal to deal with Iran," the report concluded.

Palestinian reaction

However, Palestinian National Authority officials speaking on the Voice of Palestine on Wednesday broadly welcomed Rice's proposed appointment and described some of her responses to US Senate questions as "encouraging".

Reporting that Rice had said that there was an opportunity in the Middle East to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a National Authority spokesman told listeners he was confident "she wants to seize this opportunity".

Nabil Abu Rudayna added that the outgoing national security adviser's statements stressed the need for further US intervention and the adoption of measures on the ground to implement the peace roadmap and halt Israeli aggression.
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