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News/Commentary on Iran by Haaretz-Israel News

Postby IPC » Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:41 am

Haarets-Israel News
News/Commentary on Iran
The Israeli View

Former Iranian President: West can't push Iran around ... mNo=612024

By The Associated Press

Last Update: 12/08/2005 18:44

TEHRAN, Iran - The West cannot push Iran around as it did Libya and Iraq, a former Iranian president said in a sermon during prayers Friday at Tehran University.

Hashemi Rafsanjani also criticized the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency for urging Iran to suspend its conversion of uranium into gas.

"Our people are not going to allow their nuclear rights to be seized, Rafsanjani said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency expressed "serious concern" Thursday over Iran's decision to resume uranium conversion, a step before the enrichment of uranium - which can be used to generate electricity to make nuclear weapon.

In a resolution, the agency urged Iran to suspend conversion to reassure the United States and others that it was not concealing a weapons program. But the UN body stopped short of referring Iran to the UN Security Council, indicating it wanted to leave time for further negotiations to defuse the standoff.

Rafsanjani, who lost the June presidential elections but remains head of the influential Expediency Council, said he was surprised that no country opposed the European-sponsored resolution adopted by the 35-nation IAEA board of governors after a three-day emergency meeting.

"It was a cruel decision. We did not expect them to approve it unanimously," Rafsanjani said in the sermon to a crowd of thousands and broadcast on state television.

"These people think they have defeated Iran, but they should know that Iran is not a place where they can do what they did with Libya and Iraq," Rafsanjani said of Western efforts to block Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The audience responded with chants of "God is great."

U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, and American and other Western governments forced Libya to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program and hand over suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing.

Iran insists it has the right as a signer to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to carry out any nuclear activities short of producing nuclear weapons, including uranium enrichment for reactor fuel. It denies U.S. accusations that it secretly aims to produce nuclear weapons.

On Wednesday, Iran removed seals from the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan under the supervision of IAEA inspectors and resumed work at the site, which converts uranium ore into UF-6 gas, the feedstock for enrichment.

Iran has dismissed Thursday's resolution as a political move.

"It comes from American pressure," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said. "It lacks any legal or logical basis and is unacceptable."

Iran says it will not resume enrichment for now, and would prefer to do so after a negotiated agreement with Europeans in talks that began two years ago.

Britain, Germany and France have been trying to persuade Iran to forgo enrichment in order to stop the country from acquiring the means of producing nuclear weapons.

Responding to Bush, Iran says has more war options than U.S. ... mNo=612363

By The Associated Press

Last Update: 14/08/2005 16:37

Iran notched up the rhetorical battle with the United States on Sunday, declaring its options, if attacked by Washington, far exceeded those of the Americans.

In an interview with Israeli Channel 1 TV on Friday, U.S. President George W. Bush said "all options are on the table" if Iran refused to comply with international demands to halt its nuclear program.

"I think Bush should know that our options are more numerous than the U.S. options," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. "If the United States makes such a big mistake, then Iran will definitely have more choices to defend itself."

He offered no specifics but characterized Bush's words as part of an ongoing psychological war against Iran.

Bush issued the veiled threat two days after Tehran resumed uranium conversion at its nuclear facility in Isfahan, a move which also prompted a warning from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.

Bush has called from continued diplomacy to halt Iran's nuclear program, with resort to U.N. Security Council sanctions only if all other diplomatic efforts fail.

In the interview, Bush said the United States and Israel "are united in our objective to make sure that Iran does not have a weapon."

But, he said, if diplomacy fails "all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any President. You know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country."

For its part, Israel maintains a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East and is thought to have about 200 warheads deployed on ballistic missiles, aircraft and submarines, according to the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Israeli officials do not comment on the country's nuclear weapons potential.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of directors expressed "serious concern" Thursday over Iran's resumption of nuclear activities that could provide it with the fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Iran routinely insists its nuclear program is peaceful - designed only for electricity generation - and responded indignantly to the IAEA warning.

Under the IAEA resolution, Iran faces a September 3 deadline to stop uranium conversion or face possible referral to the Security Council, which can impose crippling economic sanctions.

Asefi said such deadlines were irrelevant because the IAEA has now power to restrict Iran's nuclear activity, which is legal under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The past and future bomb ... mNo=611999

By Avner Cohen

Last Update: 12/08/2005 13:40

This week the world marked the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These two Japanese cities constitute the first public milestones of the nuclear age. This week, Iran also informed the world of its decision to resume work on its uranium enrichment program, at least in part.

This connection between past and present creates a perspective that allows us to reflect historically on the 60 years of the nuclear age, three generations of life in the shadow of the bomb. My colleague Paul Bracken, of Yale University, divides the nuclear age into three periods three generations, each of which constitutes a type of archaeological stratum that not only relates to the pattern of nuclear proliferation, but also highlights the specific role the bomb played in world politics in that period.

The first generation of the nuclear age continued for about two decades after the birth of the bomb, from the time of the Manhattan Project until the mid-1960s. These were the decades when the presence of the bomb became a central component of the world order that came into being after World War II. It is true that immediately after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, voices were heard calling for banning the bomb from the face of the earth, but these voices, whose climax was the Baruch Plan presented by the United States in the UN in 1946, failed in the face of the reality of the beginning of the Cold War.

With the fall of the Baruch Plan in 1947, the bomb became the basis of the mutual deterrence between the new world blocs, and many believed that it allowed the Cold War to remain cold.

The bomb also enabled the West to maintain relatively small conventional armies in Europe, confronting the tremendous conventional superiority of the Warsaw Pact forces. The American nuclear complex, which started to decay by the end of World War II, was quickly renewed with the establishment of the Iron Curtain that divided the victors of that war.

If in 1946, the United States had merely half-a-dozen or so unassembled bombs, in 1948 there were already dozens and a year later, hundreds. In the early 1950s, thousands of nuclear weapons were distributed and deployed among all the branches of the American armed forces; toward the end of the decade, the nuclear stockpile included over 30,000 such weapons. The Soviet Union, which tested its own bomb by 1949, raced to catch up with the American nuclear obsession.

The years of the first generation were characterized by the centrality of the bomb. Its purpose was not only to prevent a world war; it was also considered a tremendously powerful and entirely legitimate instrument of warfare. That was why tens of thousands of tactical nuclear weapons were deployed at the time at sea, on land and in the air. In spite of the trauma of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was not yet a taboo surrounding anything that involved the use of nuclear weapons. The bomb was seen as the only weapon that could stop the Reds in Europe.

During that same period, there were still no legal or normative obstacles to nuclear proliferation, although the acquisition of the bomb was seen as technologically complex, and expensive in terms of financial resources - a luxury confined to the great powers. Until the mid-1950s, only the United States and the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons. In the course of the following decade, each of the three smaller powers at the time Great Britain, France and China succeeded in producing nuclear bombs, but with considerable national effort and in minimal quantities.

That was when the map of the nuclear world order began to be stabilized. It equalized the prestige of ownership of the bomb with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Kennedy's nightmare
The early 1960s saw the beginning of the fear that, without an international system for preventing nuclear proliferation, the bomb would likely be spread to areas of regional conflict. The private nightmare of President John F. Kennedy was nuclear anarchy, a multi-nuclear world with 20 or 30 nuclear countries. Not only Germany, India, Taiwan and South
Korea and, according to foreign reports, Israel coveted the bomb, but even Australia, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland took an interest in it. At the time they all had research-and-development programs that looked into military applications. Kennedy believed that without determined international effort, a situation of nuclear anarchy was unavoidable
within a decade or two.

The Kennedy administration recognized the fact that the key to preventing nuclear proliferation was the creation of an international regime, based on an international treaty. It was clear that a condition for such a treaty would be American-Soviet agreement. The first talks on the subject began in 1962, but it took five years of exhausting negotiations, during which a fifth nuclear power, China, joined the arena (1964), for the idea to become a draft for a treaty.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) was presented for signing by its three co-sponsors the United States, the Soviet Union and Great Britain in July of 1968, and entered into effect in 1970.

The NPT determined a new norm of international behavior, along the lines that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a bad thing, and that the international community must prevent it. The NPT made January 1, 1967 the historical cutoff point that established two categories of nations: those that had already carried out a nuclear test prior to that date, who could join the treaty as nuclear weapons nations, and all the rest, who could join as non-nuclear weapons nations. In return for relinquishing their right to nuclear weapons, the latter would have a right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. According to the treaty, the non-nuclear nations have a right to produce nuclear fuel, enriched uranium or plutonium, as long as it is done under safeguards and for peaceful purposes, as required in the monitoring framework.

Good cop bad cop ... mNo=611504

By Roni Singer

Last Update: 11/08/2005 16:54

The sheriff made his farewell rounds on the streets of Netanya last Wednesday. Slowly he made his way around the city center, and people covered him with kisses. From almost every store on Herzl Street shopkeepers came out to ask how he was doing; taxi drivers stopped on their way to shout words of encouragement. If it were up to them, Somekh, 43, would have remained the sheriff of Netanya. But it is neither up to them nor up to him.

A month has passed since Somekh's superiors on the police force decided to transfer him from his long-time position as head intelligence coordinator in Netanya. "They didn't transfer him. They threw him out," says his brother Albert. As a rank-and-file policeman, Somekh himself was not allowed to talk to journalists. The excuse for the move sounded feeble in the first place - his refusal to work on Shabbat and "the need to bring in new people." At first he was transferred to the job of intelligence coordinator outside the city, but as the public campaign to return him to his job intensified, Somekh's commanders became more determined. As a first step, the commander of the Netanya station, Brigadier General Ron Gertner, sent him to be a policeman-security guard for educational institutions, but after the increase in the number of sympathetic articles in the local Netanya newspaper, it seems it was decided to humiliate the veteran officer even further, and to deploy him as a simple policeman at a tourist police station located on Independence Square in the city.

"They put him into the deep freeze," snickered the local policemen, referring to the freezing-cold air-conditioning at that small station.

And thus, the man who inspired terror in the city's criminals stands every morning in the central square overlooking the cafes, and shaking hands with former intelligence sources. Everyone in the city has his own opinion about Somekh's story.

"Somekh fell victim to political intrigues in the police force," explained the owner of a kiosk on Herzl Street this week. "They threw him out to show him who's boss, but he's the only policeman who knows how to really give it to the criminals. Listen to me carefully."

"There aren't policemen like that any more. He belongs to the older generation," says a journalist familiar with his work for years. "He's the only policeman who, when he struts through the marketplace - all the criminals flee like mice to their holes."

In the Netanya marketplace they also miss Somekh. Shimon Levy, from the Pitzuhei Yahalom kiosk: "Here in the casbah you need a policeman who's a gangster, because they're all gangsters themselves. You need someone who won't be afraid to hang up a troublemaker by the ear."

In his opinion, that's what Somekh was. The sellers at the market tell how the commanders of the Netanya station, who were rotated over time, used to go down to the market only if Somekh stayed near them. "Maybe that's the only way they felt safe," laughs one of them.

Still the same old Arik ... mNo=612114

By Aluf Benn

Last Update: 14/08/2005 18:54

Next week Ariel Sharon will face the decisive test of his public career: the evacuation of the settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. In contrast to previous tests, this time he had at his disposal two tiers of preparations and deployment, from the day he began to ponder the unilateral withdrawal until D-day. More important, this time there is no one above him or at his side; the initiative and the responsibility for it are all his, and history will judge him only for the disengagement and its consequences.

During the past week Sharon encountered two obstacles that threatened to push him off course. The first was the terrorist attack on the bus in Shfaram, which was intended to ignite a conflagration between Jews and Arabs and to stop the evacuation forces before they could reach their destination. Sharon managed the crisis with intelligence and skill. His sharp reaction to the event and the phone dialogue he held with the leaders of the Arab community succeeded in neutralizing the potential outburst. The serious flaws that the episode revealed, from the desertion of the soldier-perpetrator, Eden Natan Zada, with his rifle, to Zada's lynching after the police were distanced from the bus, did not affect the prime minister, falling instead in the precincts of the army and the police. Nor did the attack interfere with the disengagement: Natan Zada only let the air out of the organized protest of the settlers, which faded after the event.

The second obstacle was the resignation of Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Sunday. That was akin to a targeted assassination of the prime minister's leadership, a move not calculated to stop the withdrawal but to turn Sharon into a political cadaver, or a satellite cut off from the mother ship. Sharon, who was taken by surprise by both the timing and the method of the resignation, recovered quickly and appointed Ehud Olmert to replace Netanyahu and the financial markets regained their composure, but then came the results of public opinion polls predicting that Sharon has no future in the Likud.

The situation recalled David Ben-Gurion, who established Mapai - precursor of the Labor Party - and controlled it for decades, until the party's establishment got fed up with him and gave him the boot. Sharon responded with an interview on Channel 1 that focused on three messages: I am good for the country and so is the disengagement; my adversaries are inciters and Netanyahu is a wet rag, a failed leader and a security nonentity.

Netanyahu displayed a substantive approach, concentrating his public criticism on Sharon's policy and the grave danger the withdrawal will pose to the country. Sharon took a Rottweiler approach, ignoring policy and zeroing in on Netanyahu's character, which was and remains the source of his public weakness. If this is what Sharon is willing to say about Netanyahu on television, one can only imagine what he thinks and what he says in closed forums. The next poll, which predicted spectacular success for a "Big Bang" party led by Sharon, Shimon Peres and Shinui leader Yosef Lapid, at the expense of the Likud, strengthened the claim of the prime minister's political advisers that the public is squarely behind him.

He's orange, Gordon Liddy, he's orange ... mNo=611992

By Yossi Melman

Last Update: 12/08/2005 11:35

Among the thousands of demonstrators who gathered at Kfar Maimon two weeks ago in the July heat of the Negev, the figure of a man no longer young, his bald head gleaming, stood out from the crowd. In a short-sleeved blue shirt decorated with paratrooper's wings he did not look like he belonged to that time and place. In contrast to the fierce looks, the disheveled hair and the loud voices of the disengagement opponents, G. Gordon Liddy is soft-spoken, chooses his words carefully and dresses neatly. Yet nevertheless, the rhetoric of one of the main characters in the Watergate affair is very like that of the Jewish settlers.

"During my visit I have formed the impression from meeting with people that [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon is carrying out the disengagement only to avoid prosecution. This is not a decision anchored in his worldview. He has no intention and is making no effort to achieve peace," Liddy said in a conversation with Haaretz. Liddy picked up his "impressions" of the disengagement from right-wing leaders - MKs Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and Uzi Landau (Likud), heads of the Yesha Council of settlements like Pinhas Wallerstein and extremists like Nadia Matar.

In the decision to disengage he sees a clear recipe for "disaster." According to him, "The disengagement will encourage the Arab terrorists. They will say: `Look, we'll kill some more Jews, we'll send some more rockets and they'll fold.' We, the Americans, made mistakes like that in Lebanon. After the terrorists blew up the Marine base near Beirut, we withdrew. And we repeated the mistake in Somalia. Retreats from terrorists encourage terror."

Gordon Liddy is a "character." On his Internet site he writes proudly that he does not adhere to political correctness, he has created for himself the image of an American "cowboy" of the old-fashioned kind - a real man, struggling for traditional, simple values. He is also a one-man industry. His name and his unusual personality are a brand that draws in hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of dollars a year. He has a popular radio talk show broadcast in 250 markets throughout the United States. He has participated in a number of films and he is a popular lecturer who charges tens of thousands of dollars per talk. He sells a series of "Stacked and Packed" calendars, which bear his logo along with pictures of pinups in bikinis bearing firearms, and promotes books and albums that suit his worldview, which he defines as "republican conservatism." Not a bad harvest for someone who started his career in the boring, conformist corridors of the Nixon Administration in Washington.

His ability to reinvent himself is even more impressive, because all of his fame is thanks to one illegal action. What has endowed him with eternal glory, even if it is only a footnote in the history of the United States, was the break-in 33 years ago into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.
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