Sunday, July 31, 2005

UK warns Iran over nuclear plans

The international dispute over Iran's nuclear programme appears to be escalating, with Tehran threatening to resume uranium conversion.

The UK Foreign Office urged Iran not to take unilateral steps that could jeopardise talks with three European Union nations - known as the E3.

The remarks came after a top Iranian official set a Sunday deadline for the EU to propose economic incentives.

The UK - the current EU president - said these would be given in a week.

This was in accordance with the decisions of the Geneva meeting in May between Iran and the three European countries - Britain, France and Germany - as well as the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said a Foreign Office (FCO) spokesman.

This is threatening to become a dangerous escalation, says the BBC's Jon Leyne.

'Sham' president declares war on liberal Iranians

Officially, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the incoming Iranian "elected" president, will assume his post next month, but his presence is already felt in the political circles and on the streets of Tehran. Since his election, under the banner of a renewed Islamic revolution, the clerical regime hanged six people and sentenced another to death in the space of seven days.

The elections were a sham and the controversy about polling irregularities is far from settled. The outgoing president, Mohammad Khatami, announced the forthcoming release of a report documenting the extent of electoral violations and smear campaigns. A similar account, further exposing factional disarray within the theocratic rule, was introduced by former parliament speaker, mullah Mehdi Karroubi, who lost his presidential bid in the first round.

While Ahmadinejad is portrayed as a "populist" son of a blacksmith, hoisting the flag of class warfare against the "wretched rich and corrupt", his win can be attributed to his unquestioned loyalty to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the full support of the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps' top brass.

Iran's new president plans New York trip despite U.S. inquiry

Iran’s ultra-conservative President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be heading to New York in mid-September to take part in the opening ceremonies of the General Assembly of the United Nations, a semi-official Iranian news agency reported on Friday.

Fars News Agency said that Iran’s hard-line Majlis (Parliament) Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel would be going to New York about a week in advance of Ahmadinejad’s planned trip.

Ahmadinejad is expected to address the UN General Assembly to reject suspicions that Iran’s nuclear program is geared to produce nuclear weapons.

News of the planned visits comes a day after White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters that Iran's president-elect was a leader in the student movement that organised the 1979 United States embassy siege and that the U.S. was still determining whether he was a hostage-taker himself.

Woman protestor killed by Iran's security forces in Kurdish town

Iran’s security forces gunned down a woman protestor in the Kurdish town of Oshnavieh, northwest Iran, on Wednesday during clashes between residents and government forces.

The woman was identified as Jamileh Khezri and was among three protestors killed by state security forces in Oshnavieh during the unrest.

On Monday, two anti-government demonstrators were shot dead by police, according to local residents.

Iran 'must stop youth executions'

US-based human rights organisation has called on Iran to end the execution of juvenile offenders.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Iran was in breach of international agreements it had signed up to.

The call follows last week's public hanging of two youths convicted of still unclear sexual offences.

Iran insists the youths were convicted of raping a younger boy. However gay rights organisations say the youths were executed for being homosexual.

Iran Achieves Solid Fuel Technology

Iran said for the first time Wednesday it has fully developed solid-fuel technology in producing missiles, a major breakthrough that increases the accuracy of missiles hitting targets. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told The Associated Press that Iran has made an "important step forward" in developing the technology, which provides the Islamic Republic with the ability to fire solid-fuel ballistic missiles like the Shahab-3.

The Shahab-3, with a range of 810 miles to more than 1,200 miles, is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East.

"We have fully achieved proficiency in solid-fuel technology in producing missiles," said Shamkhani in Iran's first declaration that it has locally developed full access to solid fuel missile technology.

Cheney's Plan: Nuke Iran

A recent poll shows six in ten Americans think a new world war is coming: the same poll says about 50 percent approve of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Somewhat inexplicably, about two-thirds say nuking those two cities was "unavoidable." One can only wonder, then, what their reaction will be to this ominous news, revealed in a recent issue of The American Conservative by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi:

"The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections."