Monday, July 18, 2005

‘No incentive will make Iran drop nuclear fuel programme’

No incentive would make Iran drop its nuclear fuel programme, the spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said on Saturday.

“Even if the West provided us with all economic, political and security incentives, Iran would not drop its nuclear fuel programme,” Ali Aqamohammadi told ISNA news agency.

The spokesman was referring to a proposal by the European Union trio of Britain, France and Germany, which reportedly offered Teheran cooperation in providing nuclear power besides a package of economic and political incentives.

“Maintaining nuclear fuel technology is our red line which will also determine whether to continue the talks or not,” the spokesman warned.

100 arrested, 60 buses damaged in Iran city protests

At least 100 demonstrators were arrested and 60 buses damaged in clashes that erupted Saturday after a football match in Iran’s second largest city.

Security forces and young people clashed over a large area of the city of Mashad after a football match between Saba Battery and Abu-Moslem football clubs.

Clashes began as supporters of the Mashad-based Abu-Moslem booed the referee for what they said was an unfair penalty. As security forces moved in to put down the protest, protesters began throwing stones and using flagpoles to push back the truncheon-wielding policemen.

Skirmishes spilt out of the stadium and into the surrounding districts, as the protest took on a political hue with young people chanting, “guns, tanks and [the paramilitary] Bassijis are no longer effective”.

Iran cleric says UK could have bombed own capital

A leading Iranian cleric said on Friday the British government could have orchestrated last week's bombings in London to stir up flagging enthusiasm for British military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Four British-born Muslims blew themselves up in separate attacks on three underground trains and a bus during the morning rush hour, killing 54 and injuring hundreds.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads Iran's top legislative watchdog the Guardian Council, said the British had themselves to blame.

"One possible set of culprits is al-Qaeda. But al Qaeda is Bush and Blair. Who launched al Qaeda? You must be tried, you who are the mothers of al Qaeda," he told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran, blaming British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the growth of Islamic militancy.

"The other likelihood is that the British regime may have carried out the attack itself ... because it benefits most... They want to justify their presence in Iraq and Afghanistan," he added.

Iran is close to a nuclear bomb: Iranian scientist

Q: How soon will they have the bomb?

A: As a physicist with a lot of experience and contacts inside Iran’s nuclear establishment, I have no doubt in my mind that the regime in Tehran is not far from the nuclear bomb. They have the precursors they need, so it’s a matter of engineering and time. We mustn’t have any illusions. The current leadership in Tehran sees nuclear weapons as an indispensable part of its strategy.

Q: How does the arrival of the new ultra-conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad change things?

A: You have to understand that the nuclear weapons programme is the exclusive fief of the Revolutionary Guards. Now that you have at the head of the executive branch a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards with a track record as the one Ahmadinejad has, the nuclear weapons programme will receive a great boost. They will be able to make use of all the resources of the state without worrying about other internal factions. So Ahmadinejad’s arrival is going to make the nuclear clock in Iran tick faster. He is an obedient disciple of [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, so the nuclear talks [with the Europeans] will certainly get to nowhere.

Mullahs resort to brutal crackdown to thwart spread of Tehran demonstration

Fearing the spread of yesterday’s antigovernment demonstration in Tehran, the clerical regime deployed thousands of suppressive forces, including the State Security Forces (SSF), plainclothes officers and Intelligence Ministry agents, to crack down brutally on the protesters, particularly women and youths. The protest, which began at 5:00 pm, quickly swelled to several thousand protesters as many people and young men join it. The protest was in support of Mojahedin and other dissident political prisoners. A large number of these prisoners have been on a hunger strike for several weeks.

At outset of the protest, more than 1,500 suppressive forces, equipped with batons and tear gas spray and canisters, charged the crowd and began beating and assaulting them violently.

Despite the harsh crackdown, the protesters continued chanting “Death to dictatorship,” “Freedom, freedom,” “Free all political prisoners,” “Guns, tanks, Bassijis are no longer effective,” “We don’t want the rule of force, mercenary police,” and clashed with the security forces and beat up a number of them. In some areas, including Farvardin Street, young people set tires ablaze and set up barricades to stop the agents’ attacks.

Iran lashes back at Rumsfeld over Israel bomb claim

Iran hit back at US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over his allegation that the Islamic republic could have been behind a suicide attack at a shopping mall in Israel.

"The declaration by Rumsfeld is aimed at trying to cover up the failure of the United States in the region," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement.

According to Asefi, at fault were "clumsy and ill thought out actions by the United States in its fight against terrorism," which had only resulted in "attacks and the deaths of innocent people".

"America's leaders see the world through Israeli eyes and cannot correctly analyse the global situation. You have to look for the centre of terrorism at the heart of the Zionist regime," the statement said.

Female students clash with Iran security forces on campus

Female students clashed with security agents in a Tehran university after a heated dispute over Iran’s austere dress regulations for women.

The students from Tehran’s Industrial Aeronautic University defied agents of the State Security Forces when the latter harassed them on campus and tried to arrest them for violating the dress regulations.

There have been increasing student protests on university campuses across Iran against a recent government clampdown on young people and women.