Iran sanctions vote signals a global rift

The passage this week by the United Nations Security Council of a third set of sanctions against Iran places a spotlight on two trends in the international community’s dispute with Tehran’s nuclear program.

Perhaps most striking is the relative retreat by the United States from leading status among Iran’s accusers, with European powers taking over the helm.

But there is also an emerging rift between some of the world’s developing countries and the big developed powers at the forefront of the effort to impose punitive measures against Tehran. For countries like Indonesia, South Africa, and Libya, which questioned the timing of the new resolution, Iran’s claim of victimhood at the hands of arrogant world powers seeking to control access to vital and lucrative technologies may be starting to resonate.

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Larijani: US promotes global chaos

Iran’s former nuclear negotiator says Washington’s disregard for international laws and agreements is the main cause of global disorder.

Complying with international regulations will never be enough to make the US happy, said Ali Larijani in an interview with the Aljazeera news channel.

Asked about the possibility of a new round of sanctions on Iran Larijani said ‘these measures are initially in deep contrast with our settlement with Mr. Solana in which we agreed to address all outstanding issues regarding our nuclear program through a work plan.’

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Russian energy ties with Iran send US a message

With European and US companies out of the competition, Russia’s Gazprom has an edge as it bids for a bigger role in developing the world’s second-largest gas reserves

AS the United States warns the world away from business with Tehran, Moscow’s tightening ties to Iran’s energy sector underline Russia’s differences with Washington over Iranian nuclear plans and Kosovo’s independence.

While the timing of Moscow’s announcement on Tuesday may have been political, the deal for Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to take on big new Iranian oil and gas projects was a long time in the making and dovetails with Gazprom’s strategic ambitions, analysts said. Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas producer, will play a larger role in developing Iran’s giant South Pars gas field and will also drill for oil.

“The Russian government and the United States are at loggerheads over how to engage with Iran, with Russia actively favouring a more open relationship,” said Ronald Smith, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. “This makes Gazprom rather indifferent to American policy wishes.” The US accuses Iran of using uranium enrichment to develop weapons, while Tehran says it needs nuclear power. Russia has been reluctant to impose more UN sanctions on Iran.

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War pimp alert: U.S. military contradicts State on Iran: Hundreds of weapons caches found in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Iranian-backed militias are apparently preparing for major strikes against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, military officials said.

“In just the past week, Iraqi and coalition forces captured 212 weapons caches across Iraq, two of those inside Baghdad, [which have] growing links to Iranian-backed Special Groups,” U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith said.

Officials said that despite assertions by the State Department, Iran has maintained or increased support to the Special Groups. The organization was deemed a splinter of the Iranian-financed Mahdi Army, led by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Sadr, Middle East Newsline reported.

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Iran’s defense spending per capita among lowest in Mideast

LONDON (IRNA) — Iran’s defense expenditure per capita remains among the lowest in the Middle East region despite having the second highest population behind Egypt, according to the new publication of Military Balance.

The 2008 edition said that Iran’s total defense spending for 2006, the latest available, was nearly 55 percent less that Israel’s, despite having ten times the population of the Zionist entity.

Per capita, Israeli regime’s expenditure was calculated to be nearly 17 times higher at an average of $1,737 per person compared with only $110 for each Iranian.

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Update: Ships did not cause Internet cable damage

CAIRO – Damage to undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean that hit business across the Middle East and South Asia was not caused by ships, Egypt’s communications ministry said on Sunday, ruling out earlier reports.
The transport ministry added that footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables showed no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.

‘The ministry’s maritime transport committee reviewed footage covering the period of 12 hours before and 12 hours after the cables were cut and no ships sailed the area,’ a statement said.
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War pimp alert:U.S. says Iran still training Iraqi militias

By Ross Colvin

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Sunday there had been a dramatic drop in the number of Iranian weapons being smuggled into Iraq but no let-up in Tehran’s training and financing of Iraqi militias.

Washington has accused Tehran of supplying Shi’ite militias with sophisticated weapons, including deadly armor-piercing bombs known as explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), to attack American troops. Tehran denies the charge.

“We do believe that the number of signature weapons that have come from Iran … are down dramatically. We do not think levels of training have been reduced at all. We don’t believe levels of financing are reduced,” U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith told reporters in Baghdad.

His comments come at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States after Washington said its warships were threatened by Iranian craft in the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month. The two countries are already at odds over Iran’s determination to pursue a nuclear program.

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Bolton says US intel report on Iran was political

Some times I really wonder what color the sky is on their planet.

BERLIN – U.S. intelligence services were seeking to influence political policy-making with their assessment Iran had halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said.

Der Spiegel magazine quoted Bolton Saturday as saying the aim of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), contradicting his and President George W. Bush’s own oft-stated position, was not to provide the latest intelligence on Iran.

“This is politics disguised as intelligence,” Bolton was quoted as saying in an article appearing in next week’s edition.

‘Great discovery’ led to Iran nuke change – Bush

US President George W. Bush says a “great discovery” as recently as August prompted the US intelligence community’s stunning reversal of its long-held view that Iran had an active nuclear weapons program.

Mr Bush today provided no details on the nature of the new intelligence, which set off an in-depth intelligence review of the evidence and assumptions that underpinned a 2005 assessment, which had held with “high confidence” that Iran was determined to acquire nuclear weapons.

Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, went to Mr Bush in August and said: “We have some new information.”

“He didn’t tell me what the information was. He did tell me it was going to take a while to analyse,” Mr Bush said today.

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War pimp allert: Like Iraq, US intel on Iran faulty

WASHINGTON – First Iraq, now Iran. The United States has operated under a cloud of faulty intelligence in both countries.In a bombshell intelligence assessment, the United States has backed away from its once-ironclad assertion that Tehran is intent on building nuclear bombs.

Where there once was certainty, there now is doubt. “We do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons,” the new estimate said Monday.

Compare that with what then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte told Congress in January. “Our assessment is that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons.”

Just last month, President Bush, at a news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said, “We talked about Iran and the desire to work jointly to convince the Iranian regime to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions, for the sake of peace.”

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U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

Abedin Taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran delivering a speech in April at the nuclear plant in Natanz in observance of National Nuclear Day.

By MARK MAZZETTI

Published: December 3, 2007

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

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War pimp alert: Gun-shy America is losing the best chance to stop Iran

John Bolton, the hawkish former US ambassador to the UN, says Tehran’s nuclear threat is growing and it will have to be halted by force

A grippingly topical nightmare unfolded in a television drama last week. Iran had secretly built a nuclear bomb, transforming the balance of power in the Middle East. All the United States could do was cut a deal and hope for the best as Tehran demanded a seat on the security council of the United Nations.

John Bolton snorts with derision at the scenario. But the only bit that he finds remotely funny is the prospect of Iran getting a seat on the security council; to him, long-time hawk and former American ambassador to the UN, the rest is a very real and global danger. Scientific experts and intelligence agencies are divided on when Iran might be able to build a bomb: it may be one, two, five or more years away from completion. For Bolton, this uncertainty misses the vital point.

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Iran Proposes International Security Force to Take Over in Iraq

An Iranian proposal for troops from Iran, Syria and other Arab states to replace U.S. forces in Iraq was swiftly rejected and ridiculed yesterday at a high-level gathering of Iraq’s neighbors and world powers, the U.S. newspaper The Washington Times said in a report on Sunday.

“As top diplomats from two dozen countries and international organizations took turns to discuss how to improve Iraq’s security, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki suggested that a coalition from neighboring Arab states take over from U.S. forces, conference participants said.”

“The Iranian delegation distinguished itself again today with the most extraordinary proposal,” said David Satterfield, the State Department’s top coordinator on Iraq, who accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the Istanbul meeting.

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Attack Iran and you attack Russia

The barely reported highlight of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran for the Caspian Sea summit last week was a key face-to-face meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration’s relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.

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War pimp allert: Pentagon Orders “Bunker-Busters” for Urgent Delivery; Strike on Iran in the Works?

Where would the military use a stealth bomber armed with a 30,000-pound bomb, and why the rush?
Tucked inside the White House’s $196 billion emergency funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an item that has some people wondering whether the administration is preparing for military action against Iran.

The item: $88 million to modify B-2 stealth bombers so they can carry a newly developed 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordnance penetrator, or, in military-speak, the MOP.

The MOP is the the military’s largest conventional bomb, a super “bunker-buster” capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground. The one-line explanation for the request said it is in response to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.”

What urgent need? The Pentagon referred questions on this to Central Command.

ABC News called CENTCOM to ask what the “urgent operational need” is. CENTCOM spokesman Maj. Todd White said he would look into it, but, so far, no answer.

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The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know

In the years after 9/11, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann worked at the highest levels of the Bush administration as Middle East policy experts for the National Security Council. Mann conducted secret negotiations with Iran. Leverett traveled with Colin Powell and advised Condoleezza Rice. They each played crucial roles in formulating policy for the region leading up to the war in Iraq. But when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm — not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years. That was what people didn’t realize. It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn’t wait for the UN inspectors to leave. The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline, they say.

“The hard-liners are upping the pressure on the State Department,” says Leverett. “They’re basically saying, ‘You’ve been trying to engage Iran for more than a year now and what do you have to show for it? They keep building more centrifuges, they’re sending this IED stuff over into Iraq that’s killing American soldiers, the human-rights internal political situation has gotten more repressive — what the hell do you have to show for this engagement strategy?’ “

But the engagement strategy was never serious and was designed to fail, they say. Over the last year, Rice has begun saying she would talk to “anybody, anywhere, anytime,” but not to the Iranians unless they stopped enriching uranium first. That’s not a serious approach to diplomacy, Mann says. Diplomacy is about talking to your enemies. That’s how wars are averted. You work up to the big things. And when U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had his much-publicized meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad this spring, he didn’t even have permission from the White House to schedule a second meeting.

The most ominous new development is the Bush administration’s push to name the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

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War pimp allert: SAS raiders enter Iran to kill gunrunners

BRITISH special forces have crossed into Iran several times in recent months as part of a secret border war against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds special forces, defence sources have disclosed.

There have been at least half a dozen intense firefights between the SAS and arms smugglers, a mixture of Iranians and Shi’ite militiamen.

The unreported fighting straddles the border between Iran and Iraq and has also involved the Iranian military firing mortars into Iraq. UK commanders are concerned that Iran is using a militia ceasefire to step up arms supplies in preparation for an offensive against their base at Basra airport.

An SAS squadron is carrying out operations along the Iranian border in Maysan and Basra provinces with other special forces, the Australian SAS and American special-operations troops.

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And the answer: Iran to fire ‘11,000 rockets in minute’ if attacked

Iran warned on Saturday it would fire off 11,000 rockets at enemy bases within the space of a minute if the United States launched military action against the Islamic republic.”In the first minute of an invasion by the enemy, 11,000 rockets and cannons would be fired at enemy bases,” said a brigadier general in the elite Revolutionary Guards, Mahmoud Chaharbaghi.

“This volume and speed of firing would continue,” added Chaharbaghi, who is commander of artillery and missiles of the Guards’ ground forces, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The United States has never ruled out attacking Iran to end its defiance over the controversial Iranian nuclear programme, which the US alleges is aimed at making nuclear weapons but Iran insists is entirely peaceful.

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Iran has for its part vowed never to initiate an attack but has also warned of a crushing response to any act of aggression against its soil

War pimp allert: Cheney: US Will Not Let Iran Go Nuclear

LEESBURG, Va. (AP) – The United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday.

“Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions,” Cheney said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.

He said Iran’s efforts to pursue technology that would allow it to build a nuclear weapon are obvious and that “the regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time.”

If Iran continues on its current course, Cheney said the U.S. and other nations are prepared to take action. The vice president made no specific reference to military action.

“We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.

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War pimp allert: Bush Says Iran Nuclear Project Raises War Risk

Dalai Lama Is Honored at the White House

 I quess the Dalai Lama did not get through to Bush

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — President Bush warned today that Iran would be raising the risk of a “World War III” if it came to possess nuclear weapons.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

“We have little to show for all the time that has gone by,” President Bush said of the current Congress.

And he said he believed that Russia still wanted to stop Iran from developing such weapons.

Those comments, made during a far-ranging 45-minute news conference, came as reporters sought the president’s reaction to a warning on Tuesday by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia against any military strikes on Iran to halt the nuclear work that it has continued in defiance of much of the world. Iran contends that its nuclear program is purely peaceful.

“If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it’d be a dangerous threat to world peace,” Mr. Bush said. “So I told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.

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