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« Reply #225 on: November 22, 2008, 11:22:50 AM »

Iran, Syria tauten grip on Lebanon, Tehran woos Christian president 

Tehran and Damascus are going all out to get their hooks into Lebanon’s Christian politicians and wean them away from their’ traditional ties with the West. President Michel Suleiman this week accepted an Iranian invitation to visit Tehran this month, while another Lebanese Christian leader, Hizballah’s ally Gen. Michel Aoun, arranged to visit Damascus.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that the Iranians are forging ahead with a campaign to bind the region’s Christian minorities to their Shiite wagon for challenging Sunni domination. Their first quarry is Lebanon’s powerful community.

Arrangements were finalized Monday with the Iranian ambassador in Beirut Reza Shibani for president Suleiman to spend two days in Tehran on Nov. 24-25. Aoun will visit Damascus at the same time. Their country is meanwhile encircled by Syrian military forces, a factual pointer to Bashar Assad’s real intentions regarding peace.

Although these developments bode ill for Israel too, they was left out of the sweeping 2009 prognosis which the Israeli Military Intelligence chief Maj. Amos Yadlin delivered in Tel Aviv Monday, Nov. 17. Neither did he look ahead to the likelihood that Iran would be able to assemble a nuclear weapon next year, notwithstanding more than a decade of international diplomacy and sanctions.

Senior Israeli intelligence circles commented that the evaluations heard from Yadlin Monday were less attuned to reality than to the estimated positions of the incoming US president Barack Obama’s Middle East team and Olmert-Livni policies. Like them, he omitted to address the agendas which Tehran and Damascus are actively pursuing.

Tehran launched its pursuit of Christian minorities by inviting the Lebanese Maronite leader Aoun to Tehran on Oct. 13, through Hizballah’s good offices.

The gambit worked: The Lebanese leader returned home proclaiming Iran the strongest world power between the Persian Gulf and China and predicting that his trip would bear fruit in six months. In the first week of November, Tehran heaped full honors on the Lebanon’s ex-president, the pro-Syrian Christian Emil Lahoud, when he arrived with a 60-man retinue.

Michel Sleiman can expect no less.

The assumption in Israeli ruling circles that Syria as peace partner will deliver a “Lebanese dowry” is therefore fallacious. Assad plans to squeeze whatever he can from Israel and the new US administration in the coin of territory and backing for his regime, while not giving up an iota of his schemes with Tehran. For now, no one is paying attention to the Syrian-Iranian jaws snapping shut on Lebanon.
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« Reply #226 on: November 26, 2008, 02:59:52 PM »

Iran 'fires second space rocket'
26 November 2008

Iran says it has launched its second space rocket, the Kavosh 2, in a successful follow-up to the first launch in February.

State media said that two more tests would be needed before an Iranian-built satellite could be launched into orbit.

Iran denies that its long-range ballistic technology is linked to its atomic programme.

It is already under international pressure to give up its nuclear work, which it says is purely civilian.

The US referred to the February satellite launch as "unfortunate", given the questions over its nuclear work.

Iranian state TV says the rocket was carrying a space lab and a data-monitoring and processing unit.

"Kavosh 2 completed its mission and returned to earth with a special parachute after 40 minutes," the channel reported.

It added that the rocket had been designed and built by Iranian aerospace experts.

Much of Iran's technological equipment derives from modified Chinese and North Korean kit.

Earlier this month Iran said it had test-fired a new medium-range missile.

Its 2,000-km (1,240-mile) range would be capable of reaching Western Europe.

Iran 'fires second space rocket'
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« Reply #227 on: November 27, 2008, 11:19:42 PM »

Iran reports rocket launch amid nuclear tension
Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:05pm EST
by Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has successfully launched a rocket called "Kavosh 2," Iran's state media reported on Wednesday, displaying the Islamic state's advances in ballistics at a time when the West is worried about its nuclear ambitions.

The launch follows an announcement earlier this month that Iran had test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile, saying the Islamic Republic was ready to defend itself against any attacker.

Tensions between Iran and Israel have been running high in recent months amid speculation of possible U.S. or Israeli strikes against Tehran's nuclear facilities, which the West suspects form part of a covert weapons program.

Tehran insists its nuclear work is aimed at generating electricity to meet Iran's booming demand.

State television did not give any further details about "Kavosh 2," which means "Explorer 2," saying details about the home-made rocket will be announced later. "The rocket was launched to register and send correct environmental data and (to test) separation of the engine from the body," state radio said.

The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons.

Iran caused international concern in February by testing a domestically made Explorer 1 rocket as part of its satellite program. Tehran said it needed two more similar tests before putting a domestically made satellite into orbit.

The United States, the Islamic Republic's arch foe, called the February rocket test "unfortunate" and said it would only further isolate Tehran from the international community.

On August 17, Iran said it had put a dummy satellite into orbit on a domestically made rocket for the first time. U.S. officials said the attempted launch was a failure.

Western experts say Iran rarely gives enough details for them to determine the extent of its technological advances, and much Iranian technology consists of modifications of equipment supplied by China, North Korea and others.

Iran reports rocket launch amid nuclear tension
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« Reply #228 on: November 27, 2008, 11:21:31 PM »


Nov. 26, 2008
HERB KEINON and YAAKOV KATZ , THE JERUSALEM POST

Iranian claims Wednesday that it now has some 5,000 centrifuges up and running underlines the danger posed by the extremist Iranian regime and the need to stop its nuclear march, senior diplomatic officials said in Jerusalem.

The comment came when one of the officials was asked to respond to Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, Iran's nuclear chief, who said Iran had more than 5,000 centrifuges operating at its uranium enrichment plant and would continue to install centrifuges and enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel for the country's future nuclear power plants.

Uranium enriched to low level is used to produce nuclear fuel. Further enrichment makes it suitable for use in nuclear weapons.

"At this point, more than 5,000 centrifuges are operating in Natanz," said Aghazadeh, who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. He spoke to reporters during an exhibition of Iranian nuclear achievements at Teheran University.

The new number of working centrifuges is a significant increase from the 4,000 Iran said were up and running in August at the plant in the central Iranian city of Natanz. Iran has said it plans to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment that will ultimately involve 54,000 centrifuges.

Israeli officials have said in the past that Iranian claims of nuclear technological advances are often exaggerated, to create the impression that its nuclear program is so far down the line that nothing can be done to stop it.

Also Wednesday, Iran successfully launched a rocket into space. State television called the rocket the "Kavoshgar 2" (Explorer 2) and reported that it returned to earth 40 minutes after launching on a parachute after performing its functions in the lower reaches of space.

Teheran unveiled the first Iranian-made satellite, called Omid (Hope) and inaugurated its first space center earlier in February when it launched a research rocket.

Tal Inbar, a Research Fellow & Secretary of the Space Research Center at the Fischer Brothers Institute in Herzliya, said that the research rocket was launched from a launcher that resembled the type used to launch the Zelzal missile that Iran supplied Hizbullah before the Second Lebanon War.

Inbar said that the rocket worked on solid fuel and was a two-stage research rocket that could "scratch" the outskirts of space, but was not capable of carrying a satellite.

Iran: More than 5,000 centrifuges are now up and running
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« Reply #229 on: November 27, 2008, 11:38:24 PM »

Iran showing 'utter disrespect' for UN nuclear watchdog
By Reuters
27/11/2008

Iran is showing "utter disrespect" for the UN nuclear watchdog by ignoring unanswered questions about its atomic program, European powers said on Thursday.

Officials close to the International Atomic Energy Agency said last week its inquiry into suspected atom bomb research by Iran had degenerated into a standoff with neither side speaking since September, soon after Iran asserted "the matter is over".

"(This has been) two months of utter disrespect for the agency and members of this board," Britain, France, and Germany said in a statement to the IAEA's 35-nation governing body.

British Ambassador Simon Smith, delivering the "EU-3" statement, said some on the UN nuclear executive were originally confident Iran would cooperate with the probe.

"Iran's dismissive response to these expressions of confidence is all too starkly set out in the report before this board, with its unmitigated record of refusal to cooperate," the statement said.

Iran's denial of an IAEA request to check design details at a research reactor under construction and its failure to provide preliminary design data for a nuclear power plant planned at Darkhovin were of particular concern, he said.

Iran's program was dangerous because it "continues and intensifies a threat to the stability of a troubled region", the statement said.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only to generate electricity. The West suspects Iran's program is a front for efforts to develop atomic bomb fuel.

The IAEA has struggled to get to the bottom of U.S. intelligence suggesting that Iran in the past melded projects to process uranium for atomic fuel, test high explosives at unusually high altitudes and revamp the cone of a long-range Shahab-3 missile in a way that would fit a nuclear warhead.

A previous IAEA report in September detailed the Islamic Republic's non-cooperation with requests for documents and access to sites and officials and physicists for interviews.

The investigation has not advanced an inch since then, with no letters, meetings or even talks by phone, UN officials say.

Iran says the U.S. intelligence is forged and sites the IAEA wants to visit are conventional military facilities that any nation would keep off-limits on security grounds. It argues they are therefore beyond the remit or competence of UN inspectors.

Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh again rebuffed Western criticism, saying Iran had given the IAEA all assurances it needed of its peaceful intentions.

He was alluding to more than 200 pages of documents it turned over in June, but which the IAEA judged inadequate.

Condemning Western pressure on Iran, he add: "(We) warn that the authority, independence, credibility and integrity of the IAEA are at high risk and urge an end to the dangerous process and status quo before it is too late."

Iran showing 'utter disrespect' for UN nuclear watchdog
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« Reply #230 on: November 27, 2008, 11:51:36 PM »

Iran's Khamenei claims hegemony
Published: November 26, 2008

TEHRAN, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised God Wednesday for the ability of the Islamic Republic to emerge as a regional power.

Khamenei told Iranian naval commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari that Iran had learned from past experience to gain enough strength to gain regional hegemony, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said.

The spiritual leader praised the revolutionary beginnings of the armed forces in Iran and said, despite stiff economic sanctions imposed over its controversial nuclear program, the program has emerged as one of the most pre-eminent forces, especially in the naval arena.

Meanwhile, the head of the Iranian atomic energy organization, Reza Aqazadeh, said there are several thousand nuclear centrifuges in operation in the country.

"At present, we have more than 5,000 centrifuges operating," he said.

Iran's Khamenei claims hegemony
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« Reply #231 on: November 28, 2008, 09:34:16 PM »

Court orders Iranian man blinded
28 November 2008

A court in Iran has ruled that a man who blinded a woman with acid after she spurned his marriage proposals will also be blinded with acid.

The ruling was reported in Iranian newspapers on Thursday.

The punishment is legal under the Islamic Sharia code of qias or equivalence, which allows retribution for violent crimes.

The court also ordered the attacker, 27-year-old Majid Movahedi, to pay compensation to the victim.

The acid attack took place in 2004. The victim, Ameneh Bahrami, went to Spain for surgery to reconstruct her face but efforts to restore her sight failed.

The ruling was a response to her plea to the court in the Iranian capital Tehran for retribution.

"Ever since I was subject to acid being thrown on my face, I have a constant feeling of being in danger," she told the court.

Ms Bahrami also said that Movahedi had also threatened to kill her.

Court orders Iranian man blinded
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« Reply #232 on: December 04, 2008, 10:08:02 PM »

Iran launches massive naval maneuver
Dec. 2, 2008
ap and jpost staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Iran launched a large-scale, six-day naval maneuver in the Sea of Oman on Tuesday, the official news agency reported.

About 60 warships were set to participate in the maneuver, which will cover 129,500-sq. kilometers of Iranian territorial waters, the agency, IRNA, said.

This type of "maneuver has been rare in the past 30 years both in its size and commissioning of new weapons," IRNA quoted the maneuver's spokesman, Adm. Ghasem Rostamabadi, as saying.

Aircraft from Iran's air force will also participate in the war game, dubbed "Unity-87" in reference to the current year 1387 in the traditional Persian calendar. No other details were immediately available.

Iran regularly holds war games in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Linking the two bodies of water is the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway where 40 percent of the world's oil passes through.

Teheran has repeatedly warned that it would close the narrow strait if the US or Israel attacked it over Teheran's disputed nuclear program. In October, Iran's navy inaugurated a new naval base on the eastern part of the Strait in the port town of Jask.

Ephraim Sneh, leader of the new Israel Hazaka party and former deputy defense minister said "Iran's unprecedented naval activity is actually a preparatory drill to taking over the Gulf and the world's most important oil route.

"The Iranian aggression is a threat to the entire world and should not be passed over quietly."

Iranian officials frequently talk about Teheran's military capabilities amid concerns that the US or Israel is considering a strike against the country's nuclear facilities. Washington and Israel say they prefer a diplomatic solution, but have not ruled out any options.

In June, Israel's military sent warplanes over the eastern Mediterranean in for a large military exercise that US officials described as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran launches massive naval maneuver
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« Reply #233 on: December 12, 2008, 12:56:47 PM »

Israel at end of line, will soon fade away
12/12/2008

In Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latest verbal assault on Israel, the Iranian president said it would soon "fade away from the earth."

"The crimes being committed by the Zionist regime [Israel] are happening because it is aware that it has reached the end of the line and will soon fade away from the earth," Mehr news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during an anti-Israeli rally in Tehran.

He said world powers have become increasingly hesitant to show further support for Israel, which he said has lost direction.

Ahmadinejad claimed that Israel's "crimes" in Gaza were aimed at changing the political leaders in the troubled region in line with its own political interests.

Israel has enforced a blockade on the Gaza Strip since the Islamist organization Hamas seized power there in June 2007.

The Iranian president has attracted international condemnation in the past three years with his attacks on Israel, suggesting it should be "wiped off the map."

However, he has repeatedly rejected charges he is anti-Semitic.

Iran does not acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel and supports the Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.

At the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, the Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami condemned international organizations and even Arab countries, including Egypt, for having remained silent over the situation in Gaza.

Israel at end of line, will soon fade away
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« Reply #234 on: December 14, 2008, 12:15:01 AM »

Iran holds massive anti-Israel rally
Fri, 12 Dec 2008

Millions of Iranians have held rallies across the country in condemnation of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip against Palestinians.

Demonstrators chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" in the capital Tehran and carried banners, denouncing Israel's atrocities in the Gaza Strip run by the democratically-elected Palestinian government of Hamas.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also joined ralliers in Tehran on Friday.

President Ahmadinejad, speaking with reporters, strongly condemned Israel's blockade of Gaza, saying Tel Aviv is increasing pressure on Palestinians to hinder their upcoming election.

Incumbent Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas' four-year term expires on January 9. However, it is unclear when the elections will be held.

A recent Israeli National Security Council assessment has urged Tel Aviv to hinder "elections in the Palestinian Authority, even at the cost of a confrontation with the US and the international community."

At the end of Friday's rallies, a statement was issued in strong condemnation of international silence on Israel's siege of the region as well as the attacks in the West bank city of al-Khalil.

The Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian crisis as Israel has imposed an economic blockade on the coastal area, turning it to an 'open prison' and putting lives of almost 1.5 million residents at stake.

The Islamic movement does not recognize Israel as a legitimate state.

The siege has resulted in the shortage of fuel for the strip's only power plant, which could lead to a complete blackout.

The residents are also suffering from the shortage of basic supplies including food and medicine.

Hundreds of right-wing Jewish hardliners have been attacking and hurling rocks at Palestinians and vandalizing their homes in al-Khalil since November.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has urged Israel to end Palestinians' suffering.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah has also criticized the international community for keeping silent, calling for an end to 'Israel's crimes' committed against people in the coastal region.

Iran holds massive anti-Israel rally
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« Reply #235 on: December 14, 2008, 12:17:11 AM »


It's a good thing God is in control or I might be worried. It's actually kinda sad to see, so many have so much hate in their hearts.
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« Reply #236 on: December 14, 2008, 12:23:54 AM »

Iran Calls for Toppling Regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia   
Dec 13, 2008

"Iran's attacks and accusations against Egypt and Saudi Arabia have recently intensified. In early December, Iran's leading conservative government dailies Kayhan and Jomhouri-ye Eslami accused the Egyptian and Saudi regimes of treason, and called on their peoples to topple their regimes.

Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari, who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, praised Khaled Islambouli, the assassin of the late Egyptian president Anwar Al-Sadat, and called to follow his example. At the same time, student demonstrations were held in Tehran, during which protesters called for killing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and threw firebombs at the Egyptian interest office.

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« Reply #237 on: December 24, 2008, 01:11:29 PM »

Iran's ImaNutjob: Merry Xmas, bullying powers
By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer David Stringer, Associated Press Writer 24 mins ago

LONDON – Merry Christmas, "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers."

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will deliver a Christmas Day broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 television, occupying a slot used to provide an often controversial counterpoint to Queen Elizabeth II's traditional annual message, the station said Wednesday.

In his recorded message, Ahmadinejad offers seasonal greetings to Christians and says he believes that if Jesus were alive, he would "stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers," an apparent reference to the United States and its allies.

According to a transcript of the broadcast released in advance, Ahmadinejad says most of the world's problems stem from leaders who have turned against religion. He doesn't refer to rival nations or leaders by name or raise the issue of Israel, despite his previous calls for the removal of the Jewish state.

"If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over," Ahmadinejad said, according to the text.

The U.S., Britain and others suspect Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its uranium enrichment program is intended solely for a civilian energy program.

Ties with the U.K. were further strained in 2007 over the detention by Iran of 15 British sailors and marines, who were held for 13 days.

The Israeli ambassador to London condemned Ahmadinejad's speech as a "bogus message of good will" and said the broadcast was a disgrace.

"That (Channel 4) should give an unchallenged platform to the president of a regime which denies the Holocaust, advocates the destruction of the sovereign state of Israel, funds and encourages terrorism, executes children and hangs gay people is a disgrace," Ron Prosor said. "Outrage doesn't begin to explain it."

Ahmadinejad's message follows similar Christmas broadcasts on Channel 4 by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sharon Osborne and the animated TV character Marge Simpson of "The Simpsons." Last year's message was delivered by Sgt. Maj. Andrew Stockton, a British soldier badly wounded in Afghanistan.

Ahmadinejad spoke in Persian, with subtitles in English, the channel said.

Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, said Ahmadinejad had been selected because relations between Iran and the West are likely to be a key global issue in 2009.

"As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view," Byrne said.

The channel's news program broadcast an interview with Ahmadinejad in September 2007, when the Iranian leader insisted his nation wasn't seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

Iran's ImaNutjob: Merry Xmas, bullying powers
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« Reply #238 on: December 29, 2008, 01:35:21 AM »

'Eight killed' in Iran armaments plant blast
Sun Dec 28, 7:52 am ET

TEHRAN (AFP) – Eight people have been killed in an explosion in an armaments plant in Isfahan province in central Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

The blast occurred late Saturday in a defence industries plant in Zarin Shahr, killing eight production line workers, factory manager Majid Nasser told Fars.

He said the cause of the blast was under investigation.

Isfahan province is home to two of Iran's key nuclear sites including a uranium enrichment plant in Natanz and a uranium conversion facility outside Isfahan city.

'Eight killed' in Iran armaments plant blast
~~~~~~~~

I'm sure they will make up a plausible story for this explosion.
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« Reply #239 on: January 17, 2009, 09:19:07 PM »

Iran nuclear weapon could start regional war
By The Associated Press
17/01/2009

U.S. National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell on Friday said that Iran is two to three years away from having a long-range missile that could reach Europe and is continuing to produce low-enriched uranium, the raw ingredient for the fissionable material needed for a warhead.

As he prepares to leave office, McConnell told reporters that U.S. intelligence agencies lack enough evidence to prove Iran has decided to build a nuclear warhead, but he shares the alarm of outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden that the possibility may come soon.

"I'm very concerned Iran will continue down a path that will result in a nuclear weapon," he said.

He is especially worried about the effect it would have in the Middle East, either kicking off a regional arms race or a war.

McConnell said that protection of U.S. computer networks - government, military and commercial - is another major worry.

"Cyber-security is the soft underbelly of this country," he said.

His fear is less that information would be stolen off the networks by hackers or spies but that they would destroy it outright.

"It could have a debilitating effect on the country," he said.

The federal government is still building its cyber protection plan, with the Homeland Security Department nominally in charge. McConnell said the spy agencies, especially the National Security Agency, have to play a principal role in protecting domestic computer networks. That prospect alarms privacy and civil liberty advocacy groups, who oppose giving agencies meant to spy on foreign powers access to private citizens' data and activities on the Internet.

Breaking down walls among the 16 intelligence agencies to force cooperation and sharing is among the central functions of the national intelligence director. He said a new policy that will require sharing of all finished intelligence and much of the raw information that feeds it across the agencies will be signed in the next few days.

"I believe we failed the nation at 9/11. There was sufficient information in the system that had it been properly recognized, shared and considered, we probably would have reacted in a different way," McConnell said. "It's the policy to hope that we would never repeat 9/11."

Iran nuclear weapon could start regional war
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