Sunday, April 01, 2007

Iran not a nuclear threat says IAEA Director General; U.S. reportedly ready to attack anyway

“[Iran] is the biggest single threat the planet faces.”
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper responding to a reporter’s question about Iran after his September 21, 2006, address to the U.N. General Assembly.
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran is not a nuclear threat to the world. The U.N. Secretary General says Iran's rights to attain peaceful nuclear technology should be respected and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah calls the U.S. military presence in Iraq an "illegitimate foreign occupation."

Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. continues to build-up its war machine amid reports that an attack on Iran is imminent.

First Iraq, now Iran. The U.S. quest for control of Middle East oil continues. The single biggest threat the planet faces is the Bush Administration and those that support him like Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

ElBaradei: Iran not a nuclear threat to world

Tehran, March 30, IRNA

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said on Thursday night that Iran is not considered as a nuclear threat to the world.

In an interview with Al-Arabia television network, he said the country poses no nuclear threats to any country around the globe.

Iran's problems should be resolved through comprehensive talks with all parties, he underlined.

Military conflict does not help resolve the issue, he said, adding that it only will lead to a regional catastrophe and will make the situation more complicated.

UNSC resolution only conveys a message that the international community is concerned about Iran's goals and calls for confidence building between the two sides, he said.

There is no doubt that the issue should be merely resolved through dialogue, he said.

The international community should differentiate between technical duty of IAEA and political evaluations of UNSC, he pointed out.

"Although we declared that there is no evidence of existence of nuclear weapons in Iraq but they did not give us enough chance to accomplish our task and ignited the war," he said.

"On Iran's case, we hope that the international community will listen to our words and provide chances to help resolve the issue through dialogue," he said.

UN chief supports Iran's legitimate nuclear rights

Riyadh, March 29, IRNA

The United Nations Secretary General Ban ki Moon said on Thursday that Iran's rights to attain peaceful nuclear technology should be respected.

Ban made the remarks in a meeting with Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki in Riyadh on the sidelines of the a summit of Arab heads of states.

The UN top official noted that holding discussions and using political and diplomatic ways to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program are the best choices in this respect.

Turning to the arrest of the UK marines in Iran's territorial waters, he added that "without any judgment, I calls for
immediate settlement of the issue."
"Utilizing political means and media propaganda will not help resolve the issue," he noted.

On his part, Mottaki said that the major impediment to settlement of Iran's nuclear dispute is non-constructive behavior of other parties involved including the group 5+1 (the US, France, the UK, Russia and China plus Germany), which do not recognize Iran's legitimate right to acquire peaceful nuclear technology.

According to Mottaki, to settle the issue, a serious negotiation without any precondition can realize the Iranian people's nuclear rights and reduce current concerns of world powers about the country's civilian nuclear activities.

Mottaki noted that insistence on forcing Iran to suspend uranium enrichment is merely aimed at escaping from the issue and shows lack of determination, therefore, Iran considers it as illogical.

Pointing to the violation of Iran's territorial waters by British marines, he underlined that according to the reliable documents, the marines were in Iranian waters when they were arrested by coast guards on Friday.

U.S. ready to strike Iran in early April - intelligence source


MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russian intelligence has information that the U.S. Armed Forces have nearly completed preparations for a possible military operation against Iran, and will be ready to strike in early April, a security official said.

The source said the U.S. had already compiled a list of possible targets on Iranian territory and practiced the operation during recent exercises in the Persian Gulf.

"Russian intelligence has information that the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in the Persian Gulf have nearly completed preparations for a missile strike against Iranian territory," the source said.

American commanders will be ready to carry out the attack in early April, but it will be up to the country's political leadership to decide if and when to attack, the source said.

Official data says America's military presence in the region has reached the level of March 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq.

The U.S. has not excluded the military option in negotiations on Iran over its refusal to abandon its nuclear program. The UN Security Council passed a new resolution on Iran Saturday toughening economic sanctions against the country and accepting the possibility of a military solution to the crisis.

The source said the Pentagon could decide to conduct ground operations as well after assessing the damage done to the Iranian forces by its possible missile strikes and analyzing the political situation in the country following the attacks.

A senior Russian security official cited military intelligence earlier as saying U.S. Armed Forces had recently intensified training for air and ground operations against Iran.

"The Pentagon has drafted a highly effective plan that will allow the Americans to bring Iran to its knees at minimal cost," the official said.

Russian Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said last week the Pentagon was planning to deliver a massive air strike on Iran's military infrastructure in the near future.

"I have no doubt there will be an operation, or rather an aggressive action against Iran," Ivashov said, commenting on media reports about U.S. planned operation against Iran, codenamed Operation Bite.

A new U.S. carrier battle group has been dispatched to the Gulf. The USS John C. Stennis, with a crew of 3,200 and around 80 fixed-wing aircraft, including F/A-18 Hornet and Superhornet fighter-bombers, eight support ships and four nuclear submarines are heading for the Gulf, where a similar group led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been deployed since December 2006. The U.S. is also sending Patriot anti-missile systems to the region.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, however, was rather optimistic about the situation and said he ruled out a military resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem.

"We are constantly working on how to resolve the situation around the Iranian nuclear program and other conflicts peacefully," Lavrov said. "This policy is unchanged and we will pursue it in the future."

Russia and the U.S. are two of the six negotiators on Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is aimed at generating energy.

Saudi king criticizes U.S. role in Iraq

King Abdullah calls U.S. military presence in Iraq an 'illegitimate foreign occupation.'

Thursday, March 29, 2007

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi King Abdullah told Arab leaders Wednesday that the U.S. occupation of Iraq was illegal and warned that unless Arab governments settled their differences, foreign powers like the United States would continue to dictate the region's politics.

"In beloved Iraq, blood is flowing between brothers, in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and abhorrent sectarianism threatens a civil war," he said.

Abdullah's speech, at the opening of the Arab League summit in Riyadh, underscored growing differences between Saudi Arabia and the Bush administration as the Saudis take on a greater Mideast leadership role, partly at U.S. urging.

Abdullah made it clear that he looked to the day when U.S. troops would be gone, because Arabs could take care of their own problems: "If confidence is restored it will be accompanied by credibility," he said, "and if credibility is restored then the winds of hope will blow, and then we will never allow outside forces to define our future."

The Saudis seem to be emphasizing that they won't be beholden to the policies of their longtime ally.

They brokered a deal between the two main Palestinian factions last month, but one that Israel and the U.S. found deeply problematic because it added to the power of the radical group Hamas rather than the more moderate Fatah party.

Abdullah called Wednesday for an end to the international boycott of the new Palestinian government. The United States and Israel want the boycott continued.

In addition, Abdullah invited Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Riyadh earlier this month, while the Americans want him shunned. In trying to settle tensions in Lebanon, the Saudis seem willing to negotiate with Iran.

Last week the Saudi king abruptly canceled his appearance at a White House dinner next month planned in his honor, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The official reason given was a scheduling conflict.

Mustapha Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, said the Saudis were sending Washington a message. "They are telling the U.S. they need to listen to their allies rather than imposing decisions on them and always taking Israel's side," Hamarneh said.

Since last summer the Bush administration has asserted that a realignment is occurring in the Middle East, one that groups Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon along with Israel against Iran, Syria and the militant groups that they back: Hezbollah of Lebanon and Hamas.

Washington has urged Saudi Arabia to take a leading role in such a realignment but is finding itself disappointed by the results.

Some said the king's speech was in fact a response to comments made Monday by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, calling on Arab governments to "begin reaching out to Israel."

Many read Rice's comments as suggesting that the administration was backing away from its support for an Arab initiative aimed at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel wants the Arabs to make changes in the terms, most notably the call for a right of return for Palestinian refugees to what is today Israel. The Arab League is endorsing the initiative, first introduced by Saudi Arabia in 2002, without changes.

The plan calls on Israel to withdraw from all land it won in the 1967 war in exchange for full diplomatic relations with the Arab world. It also calls for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Regarding the Palestinians, the king said Wednesday, "It has become necessary to end the unjust blockade imposed on the Palestinian people as soon as possible so that the peace process can move in an atmosphere far from oppression and force."

With regard to Iraq, the Saudis seem to be paying some attention to internal U.S. politics. The Senate on Tuesday signaled support for legislation calling for a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq in exchange for further funding for the war.

Last November, officials here realized that a Democratic upset could spell major changes for the Middle East: a possible pullout from Iraq, fueling further instability and, more important, allowing Iran to extend its influence in the region.

"I don't think that the Saudi government has decided to distance itself from Bush just yet," said Adel al-Toraifi, a Saudi columnist with close ties to the royal family. "But I also think that the Saudis have seen that the ball is moving into the court of the Democrats, and they want to extend their hand to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi."

Turki al-Rasheed, who runs a organization promoting democracy in Saudi Arabia, said the king was "saying we may be moving on the same track, but our ends are different."

"Bush wants to make it look like he is solving the problem," Rasheed said. "The king wants to actually solve the problems."


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