Shahab 3 missile test launch (photo: ISNA - Rooholla Vahdati)
Anna Mahjar-Barducci, writing for the Hudson Institute, informs us that a replay of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is right around the corner. This time, it will not be Russia but the crazed mullahs of Iran placing potentially nuclear-armed medium range ballistic missiles within range of US cities.
Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on western information sources, according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit o Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles.
At a moment when NATO members found an agreement, in the recent Lisbon summit (19-20 November 2010), to develop a Missile Defence capability to protect NATO’s populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks from the East (namely, Iran), Iran’s counter-move consists in establishing a strategic base in the South American continent – in the United States’s soft underbelly.
According to Die Welt, Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to establish a military base manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Venezuelan missile officers. In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an “emergency”. In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for “national needs” – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be deployed in the proposed base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers
Venezuela has also become the country through which Iran intends to bypass UN sanctions. Following a new round of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic, for example, Russia decided not to sell five battalions of S-300PMU-1 air defence systems to Iran. These weapons, along with a number of other weapons, were part of a deal, signed in 2007, worth $800 million. Now that these weapons cannot be delivered to Iran, Russia is looking for new customers; according to the Russian press agency Novosti, it found one: Venezuela. ...
If Iran, therefore, cannot get the S-300 missiles directly from Russia, it can still have them through its proxy, Venezuela, and deploy them against its staunchest enemy, the U.S..
But that is not all. According to Reuters, Iran has developed a version of the Russian S-300 missile and will test-fire it soon, as declared by the official news agency IRNA, two months after Moscow cancelled the delivery to comply with United Nations sanctions. Iran, in fact, has its own capabilities for constructing missiles that could carry atomic warheads. According to a study recently released by the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, Iran is presently aiming to perfect the already existing solid-fuel, medium-range missile that can carry a nuke to hit regional targets, such as Israel. If a missile base can be opened in Venezuela, many US cities will be able to be reached from there even with short-medium range missiles.
The situation that is unfolding in Venezuela has some resemblance to the Cuba crisis of 1962. At that time, Cuba was acting on behalf of the USSR; now Venezuela is acting on behalf of Iran. At present, the geopolitical situation is very different: the world is no longer ruled by two superpowers; new nations, often with questionable leaders and the ambition of acquiring global status, are appearing on the international scene. Their danger to the free world will be greater if the process of nuclear proliferation is not stopped. Among the nations that aspire to become world powers, Iran has certainly the best capabilities of posing a challenge to the West.
Back in the 1962, thanks to the stern stance adopted by the then Kennedy administration, the crisis was defused
Nowadays, however, we do not see the same firmness from the present administration.
Unlike Nikita Krushchev who obviously did not desire a shared nuclear apocalypse, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an arch-fundamentalist Shiite Muslim who believes in, and eagerly awaits, the appearance of the 12th “Hidden” Imam, the Mahdi, who will return suddenly accompanied by Jesus to announce the arrival of the universal conversion of mankind to Islam, and Ahmadinejad has given ample evidence that he believes the time is ripe for the arrival of the Mahdi and believes that he is in a position to hasten his appearance.
The United States in 1962 had decayed to the point of abandoning the Monroe Doctrine, which had previously placed the Americas under US protection against foreign colonization, and President Kennedy got rid of the Russian missiles via a face-saving secret surrender presented publicly as a US foreign policy triumph. The US gave Russia a pledge never to invade Cuba or overthrow the Communist regime 90 miles from Havana, and withdrew US missiles from Turkey.
Today, America is in general far weaker in character, infinitely more pacifistic than in 1962. We have Barack Obama, not WWII Navy veteran John Kennedy, in the White House. What will Obama do or not do? The prospect is depressing.
A nuclear-armed Shahab-3 could arrive from Venezuela to Southern US cities in roughly half an hour from the moment of being launched.
Iranian dissident sources supply quotations from Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazd, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor, providing ethical counseling on August 11, 2009 at Jamkaran, a popular pilgrimage site for Shi’ite Muslims on the outskirts of Qom.
“Can an interrogator rape the prisoner in order to obtain a confession?”...
Mesbah-Yazdi answered: “The necessary precaution is for the interrogator to perform a ritual washing first and say prayers while raping the prisoner. If the prisoner is female, it is permissible to rape through the vagina or anus. It is better not to have a witness present. If it is a male prisoner, then it’s acceptable for someone else to watch while the rape is committed.”
This reply, and reports of the rape of teen male prisoners in Iranian jails, may have prompted the following question: “Is the rape of men and young boys considered sodomy?”
Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi: “No, because it is not consensual. Of course, if the prisoner is aroused and enjoys the rape, then caution must be taken not to repeat the rape.”
A related issue, in the eyes of the questioners, was the rape of virgin female prisoners. In this instance, Mesbah-Yazdi went beyond the permissibility issue and described the Allah-sanctioned rewards accorded the rapist-in-the-name-of-Islam:
“If the judgment for the [female] prisoner is execution, then rape before execution brings the interrogator a spiritual reward equivalent to making the mandated Haj pilgrimage [to Mecca], but if there is no execution decreed, then the reward would be equivalent to making a pilgrimage to [the Shi’ite holy city of] Karbala.”
One aspect of these permitted rapes troubled certain questioners: “What if the female prisoner gets pregnant? Is the child considered illegitimate?”
Mesbah-Yazdi answered: “The child borne to any weakling [a denigrating term for women – ed.] who is against the Supreme Leader is considered illegitimate, be it a result of rape by her interrogator or through intercourse with her husband, according to the written word in the Koran. However, if the child is raised by the jailer, then the child is considered a legitimate Shi’a Muslim.”
Stratfor’s George Friedman puts a regional analyst’s gloss on recent events in Iran, contending that current disorders really only represent a power struggle between competing Revolutionary Islamist factions, that the struggle for democracy depicted in the international media is a gross oversimplification pandering to Western stereotypes and wishful thinking, and that, whoever wins, Iran will not cease to be anti-Western, religiously bigoted and fanatical, a state sponsor of terrorism, and eager to use the development of nuclear weapons as a threat.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ran his re-election campaign against the old clerical elite, charging them with corruption, luxurious living and running the state for their own benefit rather than that of the people. He particularly targeted Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an extremely senior leader, and his family. Indeed, during the demonstrations, Rafsanjani’s daughter and four other relatives were arrested, held and then released a day later.
Rafsanjani represents the class of clergy that came to power in 1979. He served as president from 1989-1997, but Ahmadinejad defeated him in 2005. Rafsanjani carries enormous clout within the system as head of the regime’s two most powerful institutions — the Expediency Council, which arbitrates between the Guardian Council and parliament, and the Assembly of Experts, whose powers include oversight of the supreme leader. Forbes has called him one of the wealthiest men in the world. Rafsanjani, in other words, remains at the heart of the post-1979 Iranian establishment.
Ahmadinejad expressly ran his recent presidential campaign against Rafsanjani, using the latter’s family’s vast wealth to discredit Rafsanjani along with many of the senior clerics who dominate the Iranian political scene. It was not the regime as such that he opposed, but the individuals who currently dominate it. Ahmadinejad wants to retain the regime, but he wants to repopulate the leadership councils with clerics who share his populist values and want to revive the ascetic foundations of the regime. The Iranian president constantly contrasts his own modest lifestyle with the opulence of the current religious leadership.
Recognizing the threat Ahmadinejad represented to him personally and to the clerical class he belongs to, Rafsanjani fired back at Ahmadinejad, accusing him of having wrecked the economy. At his side were other powerful members of the regime, including Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, who has made no secret of his antipathy toward Ahmadinejad and whose family links to the Shiite holy city of Qom give him substantial leverage. The underlying issue was about the kind of people who ought to be leading the clerical establishment. The battlefield was economic: Ahmadinejad’s charges of financial corruption versus charges of economic mismanagement leveled by Rafsanjani and others.
When Ahmadinejad defeated Mir Hossein Mousavi on the night of the election, the clerical elite saw themselves in serious danger. The margin of victory Ahmadinejad claimed might have given him the political clout to challenge their position. Mousavi immediately claimed fraud, and Rafsanjani backed him up. Whatever the motives of those in the streets, the real action was a knife fight between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani. By the end of the week, Khamenei decided to end the situation. In essence, he tried to hold things together by ordering the demonstrations to halt while throwing a bone to Rafsanjani and Mousavi by extending a probe into the election irregularities and postponing a partial recount by five days.
The key to understanding the situation in Iran is realizing that the past weeks have seen not an uprising against the regime, but a struggle within the regime. Ahmadinejad is not part of the establishment, but rather has been struggling against it, accusing it of having betrayed the principles of the Islamic Revolution. The post-election unrest in Iran therefore was not a matter of a repressive regime suppressing liberals (as in Prague in 1989), but a struggle between two Islamist factions that are each committed to the regime, but opposed to each other.
The demonstrators certainly included Western-style liberalizing elements, but they also included adherents of senior clerics who wanted to block Ahmadinejad’s re-election. And while Ahmadinejad undoubtedly committed electoral fraud to bulk up his numbers, his ability to commit unlimited fraud was blocked, because very powerful people looking for a chance to bring him down were arrayed against him.
The situation is even more complex because it is not simply a fight between Ahmadinejad and the clerics, but also a fight among the clerical elite regarding perks and privileges — and Ahmadinejad is himself being used within this infighting. The Iranian president’s populism suits the interests of clerics who oppose Rafsanjani; Ahmadinejad is their battering ram. But as Ahmadinejad increases his power, he could turn on his patrons very quickly. In short, the political situation in Iran is extremely volatile, just not for the reason that the media portrayed.
Rafsanjani is an extraordinarily powerful figure in the establishment who clearly sees Ahmadinejad and his faction as a mortal threat. Ahmadinejad’s ability to survive the unified opposition of the clergy, election or not, is not at all certain. But the problem is that there is no unified clergy. The supreme leader is clearly trying to find a new political balance while making it clear that public unrest will not be tolerated. Removing “public unrest” (i.e., demonstrations) from the tool kits of both sides may take away one of Rafsanjani’s more effective tools. But ultimately, it actually could benefit him. Should the internal politics move against the Iranian president, it would be Ahmadinejad — who has a substantial public following — who would not be able to have his supporters take to the streets.
The question for the rest of the world is simple: Does it matter who wins this fight?...
(T)here was no democratic uprising of any significance in Iran. Second, there is a major political crisis within the Iranian political elite, the outcome of which probably tilts toward Ahmadinejad but remains uncertain. Third, there will be no change in the substance of Iran’s foreign policy, regardless of the outcome of this fight. The fantasy of a democratic revolution overthrowing the Islamic Republic — and thus solving everyone’s foreign policy problems a la the 1991 Soviet collapse — has passed.
Breitbart has assembled a montage of fourteen videos from a variety of sources featuring riot police brutality, protests, and Iranian crowds besting riot police thugs.
Meanwhile, on the domestic insanity front, New Republic’s Laura Secor thinks Ahmadinejad is George W. Bush and Mousavi is John Kerry.
Identifying American conservative opponents with nasty foreign dictators is a reflexive habit of the left, it seems. Andrew Sullivan is comparing Ahmadinejad to Karl Rove this morning.
Ahmadinejad’s bag of tricks is eerily like that of Karl Rove – the constant use of fear, the exploitation of religion, the demonization of liberals, the deployment of Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin.
Personally, I think the demonization of opponents and exploitation of wild and emotional exaggerations of reality (fear) is really characteristic of the political approach of Secor and Sullivan’s side.
Peter Zeihan, at Stratfor, discussing the impact of the ongoing collapse of oil prices from to a current $40 a barrel from $147 last July.
Happily, the list of losers is headed by the worst outlaws.
Venezuela and Iran top this list by far. Both are led by politicians who have lavished vast amounts of oil income on their populations to secure their respective political positions. But that public approval has come at its own price in terms of economic dislocation (why diversify the economy if strong oil prices bring in loads of cash?), low employment (the energy sector may be capital-intensive, but it certainly is not labor-intensive), and high inflation (high government spending has led to massive consumption and spurred rampant import of foreign goods to satiate that demand).
Of the two states, Venezuela is certainly in the worse position. By some estimates, Venezuela requires oil prices in the vicinity of US$120 a barrel to maintain the social spending to which its population has become accustomed. Iran’s number may be only somewhat lower, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in the process of at least beginning to bow to economic reality. On Dec. 5, he announced massive cuts in subsidy outlays with the intent of reforging the budget based on a price of only US$30 a barrel.
Iran’s president said on Sunday the publication of a U.S. intelligence report saying Iran had halted a nuclear weapons program in 2003 amounted to a “declaration of surrender” by Washington in its row with Tehran.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also dismissed in an interview with state television the prospect of new U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt sensitive atomic work.
“It is too far-fetched,” he said when asked whether he expected the U.N. Security Council to impose fresh sanctions on Iran following two such resolutions since last December.
Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, told a rally earlier this month that the December 3 publication of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate was a “victory” for Iran.
He said on Sunday: “It was in fact a declaration of surrender … It was a positive action by the U.S. administration to change their attitude and it was a correct move.”
I think he’s right. The Bush Administration surrendered some time ago domestically to its adversaries in the Intelligence Community, and recognizing its own inability to mobilize domestic support for any meaningful action against Iran, and fearing to proceed without such support, this Administration has chosen to hide behind the selective intelligence-based opinions of the Pacifist Community of Spooks, and drop back 15 yards and punt. The Bush Administration has simply passed the buck on the Iranian bomb to its successor.
Brett Stephens, in today’s Wall Street Journal, remarks on the futile aspects of liberals listening to dictators.
In a March 1952 essay in Commentary magazine on “George Orwell and the Politics of Truth,” Trilling observed that “the gist of Orwell’s criticism of the liberal intelligentsia was that they refused to understand the conditioned way of life.” Orwell, he wrote, really knew what it was like to live under a totalitarian regime—unlike, say, George Bernard Shaw, who had “insisted upon remaining sublimely unaware of the Russian actuality,” or H.G. Wells, who had “pooh-poohed the threat of Hitler.” By contrast, Orwell “had the simple courage to point out that the pacifists preached their doctrine under condition of the protection of the British navy, and that, against Germany and Russia, Gandhi’s passive resistance would have been to no avail.”
Trilling took the point a step further, assailing the intelligentsia’s habit of treating politics as a “nightmare abstraction” and “pointing to the fearfulness of the nightmare as evidence of their sense of reality.” To put this in the context of Mr. Coatsworth’s hypothetical, Trilling might have said that in hosting and perhaps debating Hitler, Columbia’s faculty and students would not have been “confronting” him, much as they might have gulled themselves into believing they were. Hitler at Columbia would merely have been a man at a podium, offering his “ideas” on this or that, and not the master of a huge terror apparatus bearing down on you. To suggest that such an event amounts to a confrontation, or offers a perspective on reality, is a bit like suggesting that one “confronts” a wild animal by staring at it through its cage at a zoo. ...
So there is Adolf Hitler on our imagined stage, ranting about the soon-to-be-fulfilled destiny of the Aryan race. And his audience of outstanding Columbia men are mostly appalled, as they should be. But they are also engrossed, and curious, and if it occurs to some of them that the man should be arrested on the spot they don’t say it. Nor do they ask, “How will we come to terms with his world?” Instead, they wonder how to make him see “reason,” as reasonable people do.
In just a few years, some of these men will be rushing a beach at Normandy or caught in a firefight in the Ardennes. And the fact that their ideas were finer and better than Hitler’s will have done nothing to keep them and millions of their countrymen from harm, and nothing to get them out of its way.
My own problem with all this simply has to do with the fact that it is obviously regarded as daring and being leading-edge to invite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to give an address at Columbia, when Larry Summers is considered too wicked to be allowed to speak at UC Davis, and Stanford views Don Rumsfeld the way vampires look at crucifixes.
It is quite traditional for universities to feature speaker programs, often affiliated with an undergraduate debating forum, which will host speeches from all sorts of public figures currently in the news. The exposure of undergraduates to celebrities right out of the day’s headlines, the opportunity afforded young people to meet famous men, shake their hands, and interact with them by asking a few questions has real educational value. If nothing else, it provides the young with the understanding that famous men get tired, make slips of the tongue, and sometimes get drunk, too.
There is obviously something, though, which smacks of a canine appetite for intercourse with the headlines in inviting a figure as lurid as Ahmadinejad, associated with the most fatal kind of international relations, head of an extraordinarily barbarous and repressive regime, who is such an avowed enemy of the United States.
This invitation provokes the suspicion that Columbia invited Ahmadinejad, not despite his hostility toward the United States, but because of it. There was a distinct air of Leonard Bernstein hosting the Black Panthers (a lá Radical Chic), with only faintly-concealed pride at pulling off the catch of the season, about the whole thing.
sallykohn experiences some warm feelings about the Iranian strongman, and finds at least some convergence of her own politics with his. They agree on the really important issues, like hating the United States and George W. Bush.
I know I’m a Jewish lesbian and he’d probably have me killed. But still, the guy speaks some blunt truths about the Bush Administration that make me swoon…
Okay, I admit it. Part of it is that he just looks cuddly. Possibly cuddly enough to turn me straight. I think he kind of looks like Kermit the Frog. Sort of. With smaller eyes. But that’s not all…
I want to be very clear. There are certainly many things about Ahmadinejad that I abhor — locking up dissidents, executing of gay folks, denying the fact of the Holocaust, potentially adding another dangerous nuclear power to the world and, in general, stifling democracy. Even still, I can’t help but be turned on by his frank rhetoric calling out the horrors of the Bush Administration and, for that matter, generations of US foreign policy preceding. ...
Monday, when Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University in New York, I’ll be listening. Maybe with a bottle of wine and some soft music playing in the background. If I can get past the fact that, as a Jewish lesbian, he’d probably have me killed, I’ll try to listen for some truth.
Alberto Fujimori saved Peru from a bloodthirsty communist terrorist movement, the Shining Path, of which the British editorialist Theodore Dalrymple wrote:
The worst brutality I ever saw was that committed by Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru, in the days when it seemed possible that it might come to power. If it had, I think its massacres would have dwarfed those of the Khmer Rouge. As a doctor, I am accustomed to unpleasant sights, but nothing prepared me for what I saw in Ayacucho, where Sendero first developed under the sway of a professor of philosophy, Abimael Guzman.”
So, naturally, we read in today’s New York Times that Alberto Fujimori is being extradited by the socialist government of Chile (a country which was itself saved from Marxist totalitarianism by the late General Augusto Pinochet, who was also internationally hounded by leftist attempts at judicial vengeance) to Peru to stand trial on “human rights and corruption” charges.
Save a country from Marxist totalitarianism’s reign of terror, and you’ll be indicted and internationally extradited to be tried as an enemy of “human rights.”
But, if you take US diplomats hostage, and become head of a major terrorist regime which stones people to death, wages covert war against the United States, and bends every effort at acquiring nuclear weapons, why! then, you get to give a speech at Columbia.
The Wall Street Journal noted yesterday a certain inconsistency in the way Columbia University enforces support for Gay Rights in its campus access policies.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has his doubts about whether the Holocaust happened. He thinks the Jewish state should be wiped off the map. His regime funnels sophisticated munitions to Shiite militias in Iraq, who use them to kill American soldiers.
Oh, and by the way, his regime also executes homosexuals for the crime of being themselves. Maybe if Columbia University President Lee Bollinger were aware of the latter fact he would reconsider his invitation to the Iranian president to speak on his campus next Monday.
Mr. Bollinger, notoriously, voted in 2005 not to readmit an ROTC program to Columbia (absent from the university since 1969), ostensibly on the grounds of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gay service members. Never mind that other upper-tier schools, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania all have ROTC programs. Never mind, too, that in 2003 the Columbia student body voted in favor of readmission by a 2-1 margin. In Mr. Bollinger’s view, “the university has an obligation, deeply rooted in the core values of an academic institution and in First Amendment principles, to protect its students from improper discrimination and humiliation.”
Mr. Bollinger’s position might at least be coherent were he not now invoking the same principles to justify his invitation to Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose offenses to gay rights and any other form of human dignity considerably exceed the Pentagon’s. After promising that he would introduce the president “with a series of sharp challenges”—including Iran’s “reported support” for international terrorism—he went on to say that “it is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their expression.”
We’re all for free speech and the vigorous exchange of intellectual differences, though we don’t see how Mr. Bollinger can be, given his decision to discriminate against young men and women who seek to make careers in the military. We also don’t quite see how the right to free speech—a freedom Mr. Ahmadinejad conspicuously denies his own people—is tantamount to the right to an illustrious pedestal. Columbia is a selective institution in its choice of students as well as speakers; its choices confer distinction on those whom it selects. Were it otherwise, Mr. Ahmadinejad would surely have better uses for his time.
And the Journal’s comments must have stung, because Lee Bollinger promptly deleted the honorific portion of Columbia University’s invitation, removing Ahmadinejad’s from a “World Leader’s Forum” program. At this point, however, Ahmadinejad is still scheduled to deliver an address at Columbia.
The president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, yesterday withdrew an invitation to the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The dean of Columbia’s school of international and public affairs, Lisa Anderson, had independently invited Mr. Ahmadinejad to speak at the World Leader’s Forum, a year-long program that aims to unite “renowned intellectuals and cultural icons from many nations to examine global challenges and explore cultural perspectives.”
In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Mr. Bollinger said he canceled Mr. Ahmadinejad’s invitation because he couldn’t be certain it would “reflect the academic values that are the hallmark of a University event such as our World Leaders Forum.” He told Ms. Anderson that Mr. Ahmadinejad could speak at the school of international and public affairs, just not as a part of the university-wide leader’s forum.
And Ahmadinejad is clearly doing a lot better than former Harvard President Larry Summers, who is regarded as such a villain in the groves of Academy for merely speculating upon the possibility of other explanations besides discrimination for the less frequent academic focus of women on science, mathematics, and engineering that faculty members at the University of California at Davis were able to pressure their regents into withdrawing an invitation to Summers.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sought to justify his confidence the US will not attack Iran, saying the proof comes from his mathematical skills as an engineer and faith in God, the press reported today.
Mr Ahmadinejad told academics in a speech that elements inside Iran were pressing for compromise in the nuclear standoff with the West over fears the US could launch a military strike.
“In some discussions I told them ‘I am an engineer and I am examining the issue. They do not dare wage war against us and I base this on a double proof’,” he said in the speech yesterday, reported by the reformist Etemad Melli and Kargozaran newspapers.
“I tell them: ‘I am an engineer and I am a master in calculation and tabulation.
“I draw up tables. For hours, I write out different hypotheses. I reject, I reason. I reason with planning and I make a conclusion. They cannot make problems for Iran.”’
Meanwhile, he is also boasting of having reached a milestone in his quest for an Iranian nuclear weapon.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday Iran had put into operation over 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges at a nuclear plant, reaching a key goal of its atomic drive, state broadcasting reported.
“They (world powers) thought that by issuing any resolution Iran would back down,” Ahmadinejad told Islamist students, referring to the two sanctions resolutions imposed against Tehran by the UN Security Council.
“But after each resolution the Iranian nation took another step along the path of nuclear development,” he said.
“Now it has put into operation more than 3,000 centrifuges and every week we install a new series.”
The installation of 3,000 centrifuges has always been earmarked by Iran as the key medium-term goal of its nuclear programme which it had originally hoped to reach by March.
Depkafile also yesterday revealed the terms of the probable deal.
A secret British military delegation arrives in Tehran, as Ahmadinejad pushes for an immediate military confrontation with the UK and US —April 3, 2007, 7:01 PM (GMT+02:00)
DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources continue coverage of the top-level Iranian debate on how to dispose of the 15 British captives seized on March 23.
The fierce – often strident – debate between pragmatists and radicals prompted supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who leads the first camp, to order president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who speaks for the radicals, to call off his planned news conference on Tuesday, April 3. The president had intended to unveil an important advance in the national nuclear program; he certainly did not mean to augur a breakthrough in the 12-day hostage crisis.
In the ongoing debate, the president and his radical followers seek to use the British captives to goad the British, followed by the Americans, into a limited military confrontation in the Persian Gulf. Iran would then exploit its local edge to teach the West that it is not worth their while to mess with the Islamic Republic in a full-blown war or count on trouncing it easily.
DEBKAfile’s sources in Tehran report that it is hard to predict which way the dispute will go. There were moments on Monday and Tuesday when it looked as though the Khamenei line for ending the crisis, backed also by supreme national security advisers Ali Larijani, would prevail. Larijani came out Monday night with the encouraging statement that there was no need to put the captured British sailors on trial and the crisis could be solved through bilateral diplomacy. He said a delegation might come to Tehran to review the points at issue.
Tuesday, a British military delegation did indeed arrive secretly in Tehran.
Larijani’s statement was the outcome of back-channel talks between Tehran and London, partly by videoconference, in which the British promised to de-escalate their tone and calm the situation, in return for an Iranian pledge that the captives would not be tried.
London allowed the 15 sailors to admit they had trespassed into Iranian waters, while Tehran agreed to suspend further television footage. London also offered to help work for the release of the five Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Brigade officers captured by US agents in Baghdad. One of them, second secretary at the Baghdad embassy, Jalal Sharafi, was indeed set free Tuesday.
The British even offered to obtain for Iran information on the whereabouts of the missing Iranian general Ali Reza Asgari, believed to have defected to the West in February.
Our sources add that the radical faction of the Iranian leadership is still working hard to derail the positive diplomatic track and use the crisis to bring about a military escalation in the Gulf. Ahmadinejad is supported in this by the Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi and RG Navy chief, Gen. Morteza Saffar. They are stirring up public opinion to back them up in the hope of bring the supreme ruler round to their view – so far without success.
To further this campaign, the president’s followers organized Sunday’s protest at the British embassy in Tehran and had the Bassij (the RGs civilian militia) round up a student petition at Iran’s 266 universities and colleges for putting the 15 British sailors and marines on trial and executing them. This would have been a provocation that the British could not pass over without drastic action.
As we predicted more than a week ago, resolution of the British hostage crisis may well hinge on the fate of those five Iranian “officials,” arrested by the U.S. military in Iraq back in January. The five were nabbed during a raid on a non-accredited Iranian diplomatic facility in Irbil, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Tehran insists that the officials were engaged in consular work, but military officials claim that the Iranians are linked to a military faction that provides support for terrorists in Iraq.
Today, an Iranian diplomat emphasized that release of the five would be helpful in securing freedom for 15 British military personnel, who were taken captive on 23 March. The Brits were abducted while conducting anti-smuggling operations in the Shatt al-Arab Waterway, along the Iran-Iraq border.
“We are intensively seeking the release of the five Iranians,” the Iraqi foreign ministry official said. “This will be a factor that will help in the release of the British sailors and marines.”
Tehran’s efforts to link the British hostages to its own detainees underscores the importance of that raid in Irbil, and suggests that the captured “officials” were more than mere diplomats. Since their arrrest, coalition forces have scored a number of victories against Iranian-supported terror networks, and Tehran wants to get these “consular officials” back before they can divulge more information.
And sadly, some sort of swap could be in the works. Another Iranian diplomat, captured in Baghdad two months ago, has apparently been released.
Reuters quotes Ahmadinejad as announcing forgiveness of the 15 British sailors and their freedom as a gift to Britain
April 4, 2007, 4:22 PM (GMT+02:00)
Reuters quotes Ahmadinejad as announcing forgiveness of the 15 British sailors and their freedom as a gift to Britain
This news was delivered Wednesday April 4 at the end of a two-hour speech. AP translates the announcement as the immediate release of the 15 captives at the end of the news conference. Ahmadinejad: We leave judgment in the British sailor case to world opinion and because the anniversary of the Prophet’s birth is near, we have decided to pardon them. He congratulated “the brave border guards” who arrested the British violators and awarded medals to three Iranian generals for “defending Iranian waters.” He said he was “saddened” by the UK’s violations of Iran’s territory. He accused the UN security council of not checking the facts of the case before passing a resolution.
On this 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, Tony Blair is looking less like Margaret Thatcher and alarmingly like Jimmy Carter, the embodiment of the soi-disant “superpower” as a smiling eunuch.
But this is a season of anniversaries. A few days ago, the European Union was celebrating its 50th birthday with the usual lame-o Euro-boosterism. I said up above that the 15 hostages are “British subjects.” But, as a point of law, they are also “citizens of the European Union.” Even Oxford and Hoover’s Timothy Garton Ash, one of the most indefatigable of those Euro-boosters, seemed to recognize the Iranian action was a challenge to Europe’s pretensions. “Fifteen Europeans were kidnapped from Iraqi territorial waters by Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” he wrote. “Those 14 European men and one European woman have been held at an undisclosed location for nearly a week, interrogated, denied consular access, but shown on Iranian television, with one of them making a staged ‘confession,’ clearly under duress. So if Europe is as it claims to be, what’s it going to do about it?’’
Short answer: Nothing.
Slightly longer answer: The 15 “European” hostages aren’t making that much news in “Europe.” And, insofar as they have, other “Europeans”—i.e., Belgians, Germans and whatnot—don’t look on the 15 hostages as “Europeans” but as Brits. Europe has more economic leverage on Iran than America has. The European Union is the Islamic Republic’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of Iranian exports. They are in a position to inflict serious pain on Tehran. But not for 15 British servicemen. There may be “European citizens,” but there is no European polity.
OK, well, how about the United Nations? Those student demonstrators want the execution of “British aggressors.” In fact, they’re U.N. aggressors. HMS Cornwall is the base for multinational marine security patrols in the Gulf: a mission authorized by the United Nations. So what’s the U.N. doing about this affront to its authority and (in the public humiliation of the captives) of the Geneva Conventions?