Archive for the ‘Tehran’ Category

Iran’s supreme leader dismisses Obama overtures

March 21, 2009

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed overtures from President Barak Obama on Saturday, saying Tehran does not see any change in U.S. policy under its new administration.

Khamenei’s comments were the first top level reaction to a video message Obama released Friday in which he reached out to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian new year.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is shown in Tehran, ... 
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is shown in Tehran, Iran, in this Friday March 14, 2008 file photo. Khamenei has dismissed overtures from U.S. President Barak Obama Saturday March 21, 2009, saying Tehran doesn’t see any change in American policy toward its government.(AP photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)

Khamenei holds the last word on major policy decisions, and how Iran ultimately responds to any concrete U.S. effort to engage the country will depend largely on his say.

In his most direct assessment of Obama and prospects for improved ties, Khamenei said there will be no change between the two countries unless the American president puts an end to U.S. hostility toward Iran and brings “real changes” in foreign policy.

“They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven’t seen any change,” Khamenei said in his speech, which was broadcast live on state television.

In his video message, Obama said the United States wants to engage Iran and improve decades of strained relations, but he also warned that a right place for Iran in the international community “cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization.”

Speaking to tens of thousands of people in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, Khamenei asked how Obama could congratulate Iranians on the new year and accuse the country of supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons in the same message.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090
321/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_obama

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Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

March 9, 2009

Like it or not, the era of President Barack Obama and American weakness, real or perceived, has already emboldened many nations with long-term anti-American strategic goals: namely, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Many in the world have already concluded that Brack Obama is soft, for his overtures so far toward the Taliban, Russia, Iran and others.

Related:
Various Views On Obama Foreign Policy: “Just Like Bush” Or Radical Change?

President Obama’s move to close the terrorist prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (Gitmo) was cause for applause in human rights circles and also with terrorists.

On Afghanistan, Peter Begen of the New America Foundation said “It is a longstanding cliché that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, only a political one.”  On President Obama’s idea to hold talks with the Taliban he said, “Doing deals with the Taliban today could further destabilize Afghanistan. ”

And economically, there is no dobt that the U.S. is weakened.

Just today, North Korea threatened war with the United States — a war that would certainly involve Japan and South Korea.  North Korea could not be making such threats and could not even think about testing a long range strategic missile just now unless China consented to this brazen move or at least looked the other way.  China supplies North Korea with almost all of its food, oil, luxury goods and currency.  Without China, North Korea would be impotent and meaningless.

Yet China is acceding to North Korea’s bluster and browbeating of the United States just as China itself is harassing a U.S. Naval vessel in international waters — a violation of international law.

This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean ... 
This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.(AFP/NVNS)

China doesn’t care much for international law and international waters: just ask Japan and Vietnam.  Both those nations have long struggles with China encroaching upon the coasts of Japan and Vietnam as the Chinese super power searches for more oil beneath the sea floor.

China has become the most voracious user of oil and other mineral resources on the planet as it strives to keep its factories busy producing goods for sale overseas.  China is in Afghanistan, protected from the Taliban by U.S. troops, while Chinese companies exploit Afghan copper.  And China just signed a $50 billion (U.S. dollars, cast) agreement to get oil from Russia for ten years.

Last year China was no help when the U.S. wanted access to Myanmar to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to those stricken by the cyclone.  After the crisis passed, China signed a big oil deal with Myanmar.

China wants the U.S. out of its sphere of influence from North Asia to Somalia, and is planning an ocean-going navy to eventualy make that goal a military reality.

China recently opened the largest sea port in the world, in Gwadar, Pakistan — directly astride the sea lanes used to bring out out of the Persian Gulf to Japan, the U.S. and others.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to go into debt — to China.

China allows North Korea to antagonize the United States because that is in China’s long term strategic interest — and a weakening U.S. plays into China’s strategy perfectly.

Russia also wants the U.S. out of its area of influencce.  Russia recently paid off Kyrgyzstan, which was helping the American effort in Afghanistan with an air base. Just after Russia gave  Kyrgyzstan its big aid deal, that nation announced the closure of the Manas air base supporting the U.S.

File:ManasAirbase KC135.jpg
A KC-135 Stratotanker sits on the flightline at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. Ground crews will have to de-ice the tanker before it can take off on a refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Paul Clifford)

Generous Russian loans to Kyrgyzstan totaling US$2 billion and a non-repayable US$150 million grant, were announced the day before Kyrgyzstan said Manas would be closed and the U.S. Air Force evicted.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation had been insisting on the closure of Manas to the U.S. Air Force since 2005.

What the heck is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an intergovernmental mutual-security organisation which was founded in 2001 by the leaders of China , Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

But the key players of the SCO are Russia and China who don’t want the U.S. or anyone else in the West anywhere near that region of the world, rich in oil and other minerals, that includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

China and Russia conducted their largest joint military exercise ever last year.

And finally Iran wants the U.S. out of the Persian Gulf, away from Arab oil, and at arms length from Isreal.

Joshua Gross wrote for the Christian Sciences Monitor today,  “Iran recently launched its first satellite into orbit in what The New York Times called, ‘a shot across the bow of American diplomacy,’ and US President Barack Obama passed along a secret letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in an attempt to enlist the Russians in an international effort to contain Iran’s nuclear program.”

The global economic crisis, which has eliminated something like $50 trillion in world wealth, has hit the United States and NATO very hard, which fuels the beliefe that Mr. Obama and the U.S. are weaker than ever just now.

That’s why Iran and North Korea are talking missiles and nukes, China has chosen just now to harass a U.S. ship, and Russia is gloating like a cat bird that Obama is already pleading for help with Iran from Putin and Medvedev….

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
March 9, 2009

Iranian clerics watch the launch of a Shahab-3 ballistic missile ... 
Iranian clerics watch the launch of a Shahab-3 ballistic missile outside Qom in 2006. A top Iranian military commander said that the country has missiles that can reach the nuclear sites of its arch-foe Israel.(AFP/File/null)

Related:
Stimulus: China Will Fund U.S. Debt But “We Hate You Guys”

Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”

India, China jostle for influence in Indian Ocean

 China Extends Navy’s Anti-Piracy Mission Near Somalia

 China Says Its Navy Expansion “No threat to others”

 Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed U.S. Navy Craft in International Waters

 North Korea Warns: Shoot Down Our Satellite Will “Prompt Counterstrikes by the Most Powerful Military Means”

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?

China’s thirst for copper could hold key to Afghanistan’s future

Obama says US is losing war in Afghanistan and hints at Taleban talks

Despite Global Economy Downturn, China Still Lending

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/09/analys
ts-to-obama-there-are-no-taliban-moderates-yo
u-nitwit/

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

http://jonathanturley.org/2009/03/09/ira
nian-justice-eight-women-face-stoning-dea
ths-for-adultery/

http://spectator.org/archives/2009/03
/09/slickness-with-a-straight-face

CNN on Peter Bergen and Afghanistan:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/PO
LITICS/03/09/bergen.taliban/index.html

Joshua Gross on Iran:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20
090309/cm_csm/ygross

Iran Boasts of Nuclear, Space Progress Despite Sanctions

February 7, 2009

Iran has achieved breakthroughs in nuclear and space technology despite international sanctions against it, the country’s top leader said Saturday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told military commanders that instead of weakening Iran, sanctions by the U.S., the U.N. and others have forced it to become more self-reliant, leading to greater strides by Iranian scientists and to technological advancements unseen in the country’s history.

Iranian leaders often boast of technological progress as they seek to assure their people that sanctions and isolation have not hurt the country, even as unemployment and inflation increase.

Most recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Tuesday the launch of Iran’s first domestically produced satellite. He faces a tough re-election battle this year, not least because of the economic woes brought on by falling oil prices and sanctions.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

The United States imposed sanctions against Iran soon after its 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power. The sanctions banned the export of any dual-use technology, including nuclear, space and missile equipment. Over the years, Washington has tightened sanctions against any investment in Iran.

Since 2006, Iran has also been under U.N. Security Council sanctions, applied to its nuclear and missile industries, for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or the material for atomic bombs.

The United States and some of its allies have accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared towards generating electricity, not weapons production.

Vice President Joe Biden told a security conference in Germany that the U.S. was willing to talk to Iran but would act to isolate and pressure the country if it does not scrap parts of its nuclear program.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009020
7/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_sanctions_1

Some global adversaries ready to give Obama chance

January 25, 2009

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama signaled conciliation to America’s foes by using the metaphor of an outstretched hand to an unclenched fist.

By Paul Haven, Associated Press Writer

Already, there are signs that some of those foes were listening, sensing an opening for improved relations after eight combative years under President George W. Bush. Fidel Castro is said to like the new American leader, and North Korea and Iran both sounded open to new ideas to defuse nuclear-tinged tensions.

Unclear is what they will demand in return from the untested American statesman, and whether they will agree to the compromises the U.S. is likely to insist on in exchange for warmer relations.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200901
25/ap_on_re_us/obama_unclenched_fists

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

At Confirmation Hearing, Clinton Talks of Engagement With Iran

January 14, 2009

Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that the incoming Obama administration will seek to engage directly with Iran in an effort to persuade it to abandon its nuclear program and become “a constructive regional actor,” underscoring a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy from the Bush administration.

By Glenn Kessler
The Washington Post

In prepared testimony and remarks during her confirmation hearing — which were supplemented by 79 pages of formal answers to questions posed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — Clinton was careful not to tip her hand on specific plans or policies that the new administration might pursue. But she struck a consistent theme of active engagement and unyielding diplomacy, a sharp contrast to President Bush‘s policy of refusing to deal with countries that did not first meet conditions set by the United States.

“I don’t get up every morning thinking only about the threats and dangers we face,” Clinton said. “With every challenge comes an opportunity to find promise and possibility in the face of adversity and complexity.”

Clinton also pledged greater involvement in the quest for Middle East peace but was not drawn into specific questions about how the incoming administration might handle Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte
nt/article/2009/01/13/AR2009011301145
.html?hpid=topnews

Two men stoned to death in Iran

January 13, 2009

Two men convicted of adultery were stoned to death in northeastern Iran last month but a third convicted man managed to escape, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.

Ali Reza Jamshidi said the stoning took place in the city of Mashhad in late December but did not provide the names of the convicted men.

Under Iran’s Islamic law, adultery is punishable by stoning, but such sentences are rare. International human rights groups have long criticized stoning in Iran as a cruel form of punishment.

Jamshidi did not describe how the stonings were carried out. But typically under Islamic rulings, a man is buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her neck. Those carrying out the verdict then throw stones until the person dies. If the person manages to escape from the hole, he or she will remain free under Islamic law.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

“Given that the third person managed to pull himself out of the hole, the verdict was not carried out,” Jamshidi told reporters.

Stonings were widely carried out in the early years after the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-Western government and brought hardline clerics to power. But in recent years, it has seldom been applied, although the government rarely confirms when it carries out stoning sentences.

The last time Iran reported a death by stoning was in July 2007 when Jamshidi said a man convicted of adultery was stoned to death in a village in northern Iran.

Women’s rights activists headed by feminist lawyer Shadi Sadr have been campaigning to have the sentence removed from Iran’s statutes.

Iran’s reformist legislators have demanded an end to death by stoning as a punishment for adultery, but opposition from hardline clerics has sidelined their efforts.

Related:
Embracing Terror, Suicide Belittles Islam

Iran Using Fronts to Get Bomb Parts From U.S.

January 11, 2009

The Iranian businessman was looking for high-quality American electronics, but he had to act stealthily: The special parts he coveted were denied to Iranians, especially those seeking to make roadside bombs to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.
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By Joby Warrick
The Washington Post

With a few e-mails, the problem was solved. A friendly Malaysian importer would buy the parts from a company in Linden, N.J., and forward them to Iran. All that was left was coming up with a fake name for the invoice. Perhaps a Malaysian engineering school? “Of course, you can use any other company as end-user that you think is better than this,” the Iranian businessman, Ahmad Rahzad, wrote in an e-mail dated March 8, 2007.

The ruse succeeded in delivering nine sensors called inclinometers to Iran, the first of several such shipments that year and the latest example of what U.S. officials and weapons experts describe as Iran’s skillful flouting of export laws intended to stop lethal technology from reaching the Islamic republic.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009
/01/10/AR2009011002236.html?hpid=topnews

Obama: Iran a Threat To U.S., Diplomacy Needed

January 9, 2009

Iran remains a genuine threat to the United States but Washington must be “willing to initiate diplomacy” with the Islamic republic, president-elect Barack Obama said Friday.

AFP

“I have said in the past during the course of the campaign that Iran is a genuine threat to US national security,” Obama said during a press conference in which he announced his picks for the administration’s two top intelligence posts.

“But I have also said that we should be willing to initiate diplomacy as a mechanism to achieve our national security goals.”

*******************

From The Jerusalem Post

President-elect Barack Obama on Friday repeated his campaign assertion that Teheran “is a genuine threat to US national security.”

Obama told reporters at a Washington DC news conference that he would have more to say about the Iranian nuclear program after he is inaugurated.

Obama also touted a “practical, pragmatic approach” to concerns about its nuclear development and said once more that he believes diplomacy should be put into play more than it has been in the past.

Obama also said his administration will “uphold our highest values and ideals” in its approach to fighting terrorism.

He was asked at the conference whether he would continue a policy of harsh interrogation, for instance.

Obama replied that he has told CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta and retired Adm. Dennis Blair that he expects the Geneva Conventions to be honored.

The president-elect introduced his choices for CIA chief, Panetta, and national intelligence director, Blair, earlier on Friday.

Read the rest:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=123142490
5307&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Gaza Cease-Fire: Bridging A Chasm; Is Hamas Ready To Deal?

January 6, 2009

How can men like Britain’s Tony Blair and France’s President Sarkozy possibly bridge the divide between Hamas and Israel and broker a cease fire?

Sarkozy was told by Prime Minister Olmert in Israel that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

In Syria, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

In Iran, President Ahmadinejad doesn’t even believe the Holocaust really happened, has spoken about wiping Israel away, is working on a nuclear program and he doesn’t even recognize the Israel as a state, calling it “the Zionist regime.”

Tony Blair seems to understand that Israel has to get something from Hamas in order to even seriously consider a cease fire.
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“If there is strong action on that front, so that Israel feels it has achieved something — namely the end of the smuggling of weapons and finance to Hamas — then I think it is possible to resolve this reasonably quickly,” Blair told CNN.

“If that doesn’t happen, if we’re not in that position, then obviously it’s going to go on.”

Late Tuesday word came that Hamas just might be ready to make a deal.

“Hamas is ready to agree to peace if the Israeli army will stop military operations and withdraw from Gaza, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told CNN Tuesday,” said a CNN report.
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“They are ready (to make a deal),” Al-Assad told CNN’s Cal Perry in an exclusive interview. “They were ready, they are ready. Today, the factors have changed so the requirement will change at the same time.

Related from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast
/01/06/israel.gaza.diplomacy/index.html

Gaza: Sarkozy Seeks Help In Syria; Told Israel is “War Criminal”

January 6, 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Syria on Tuesday to exert pressure on its ally Hamas to help end the fighting in the Gaza Strip between the militant Palestinian group and Israeli forces.

But his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

By ALBERT AJI, Assocaited Press Writer

Sarkozy’s visit to the Syrian capital is part of a whirlwind Mideast tour amid European diplomatic efforts….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090106/ap_on_re_mi_ea
/ml_mideast_diplomacy;_ylt=AuU11TL1q2x5Q
P3mswVx8ANvaA8F

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart ... 
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy hold a news conference after a meeting in Damascus January 6, 2009. Sarkozy asked Syria on Tuesday to help convince Hamas to cooperate in international efforts to end the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip.REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA)

Related:
Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
.
 Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?