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Shammu
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« Reply #30 on: May 05, 2006, 06:40:36 PM »

Defiant Iranian president pledges mass atomic fuel production
May 05 6:48 AM US/Eastern
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed that Iran would pursue its contested nuclear programme until it could mass-produce atomic fuel, and branded those trying to stop it as "bullies".

"We intend to continue our activity ... until we manage industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel for our atomic power stations," Ahmadinejad said, according to a text of his speech at a regional summit in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian president's comments in the Azeri capital Baku came as Western powers, which fear Tehran is concealing a drive for atomic weapons, push for a tough UN resolution requiring it to halt uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions.

Ahmadinejad told leaders from the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) -- which includes five of Iran's neighbours -- that "certain bullies are insolently trying to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries."

The speech was made behind closed doors, but a copy of the text was obtained by AFP.

Ahmadinejad hailed his country's nuclear power drive as "a great achievement for the whole region and the Islamic world."

He stressed Iran's desire to work within international law and under the scrutiny of the UN's watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, which last week reported that Tehran had failed to comply with a demand to halt uranium enrichment.

"Our scientific progress serves the interest of peace and does not threaten a single state," he said. "All the unfounded statements made against Iran cannot influence the will of the Iranian people."

Ahmadinejad was in Baku for a regional development summit of the 10-nation ECO Group, which includes Iran's neighbours Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Ahmadinejad called for regional support, saying that "the constructive cooperation of ECO is a very important step. Unfortunately there is injustice in the current international structures, the violation of laws, the violation of rights."

Ahmadinejad was due to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the summit, and earlier held talks with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev.

The United States and Europe allege that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weaponry under cover of a civilian power network currently being built with Russian help.

A draft UN Security Council resolution put forward by Britain and France would legally oblige Iran to comply with UN demands that it suspend uranium enrichment, the process which makes the fuel for reactors but what can also be the explosive core of an atom bomb.

Under the proposed resolution, sanctions and even a military assault could be authorised in case of non-compliance.

Iran says it needs enriched uranium as fuel for its civilian programme and refuses to halt the work.

Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, said that Erdogan would use his meeting with Ahmadinejad to urge compromise.

"All of us should make efforts for peace. We should insist on diplomatic means and find a compromise," he said.

Iran's neighbours are nervous about the potential fallout in the region of sanctions or any other deterioration. "The most difficult situation will be for neighbouring countries," Azerbaijan's foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, said Thursday.

Defiant Iranian president pledges mass atomic fuel production
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« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2006, 10:36:40 PM »

SYRIA BUILDS MILITARY POSTS IN LEBANON

NICOSIA [MENL] -- Syria's military has constructed positions inside Lebanese territory.

Lebanese officials said Syrian Border Guard units have established fortifications at the edge of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. The officials said the Syrian construction consisted of sand berms and checkpoints.

Officials said a Lebanese delegation would travel to Damascus on May 9 to resolve the issue. So far, the Lebanese government has sought to play down the Syrian incursion.

"This was not worrisome and would not lead to any problems," Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said.

SYRIA BUILDS MILITARY POSTS IN LEBANON
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« Reply #32 on: May 09, 2006, 10:20:47 PM »

Kadima boosts Arab influence in Knesset

Ruling party to assign greater number of Arab MKs to major Knesset committees, in bid to ensure approval of future plan to withdraw from West Bank
Ilan Marciano

The Kadima ruling party has already started acting to promote the future withdrawal from the West Bank, by removing potential obstacles that may work to impede the implementation of the plan. The Knesset's largest faction intends to do so by creating a majority of Arab and left-wing Knesset members on the parliamentary committees that are set to vote on the convergence plan – the Economics Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

The Arab and left-wing MKs will be assigned to the committees on the expense of members of the Likud, Israel Our Home and the National Union-National Religious Party factions.

According to Knesset regulations, a party needs to have seven parliamentary mandates in order to receive automatic representation in these two important committees. In light of the problems the previous government encountered when trying to have the disengagement plan approved, the current cabinet decided to grant the Arab parties two seats in each of the committees, compared to only one seat they received during the last term.

Right-wing MKs were outraged with the decision, claiming that the Arab parties have been granted representation not proportional to their relative power in parliament. Worried that the proposed distribution will be approved by the Knesset's arranging committee, the rightist factions are trying to form a "plenum rebellion" that would take shape in constant interruptions during Knesset sessions, until the committees' distribution is changed.

Kadima boosts Arab influence in Knesset
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« Reply #33 on: May 10, 2006, 01:34:09 PM »

 Russia needs to be strong against 'fortress' US: Putin

Wed May 10, 6:59 AM ET

Russia faces a "fortress" United States and must embrace high technology to keep up in a growing arms race, as well as in fierce economic competition, President Vladimir Putin said in a state of the nation speech.

Addressing both houses of parliament and other top officials in the nationally televised, hour-long speech on Wednesday, Putin said Russia must remain on guard in a post-Cold War arms race.

"It is premature to speak of the end of the arms race," Putin said the annual address. "It is in reality rising to a new technological level," the Russian leader said.

Putin said that the United States spent 25 times more than Russia on its defence budget.

"In the defence sphere, this is called 'their house is their fortress.' Well done! But it means that we must build our house strongly, reliably, because we see what's going on in the world."

In his sweeping address, Putin also laid out a vision of a Russia switching from an ageing and uncompetitive Soviet-era infrastructure to an economy centred on high-tech areas such as nanotechnology.

"In conditions of fierce international competition, the country's economic development must be based, essentially, on its scientific and technological advantages," he said.

"Unfortunately, one has to face that the majority of the technical equipment used in the national economy is not years behind the top level, but decades."

Putin said that modernisation of Russia's huge but inefficient armed forces was vital to global stability and that the country must be "solid" in the face of US attempts to build a "fortress."

"Key responsibility for standing up against threats, for guaranteeing global stability, will lie with the world's leading powers possessing nuclear weapons and powerful military-political influence. That's why modernising the Russian army is extremely important now," he said.

The mostly conscript army must fill two-thirds of its ranks with professionals by 2008, he said.

According to Putin, Russia continues to face gigantic problems in the wake of the Soviet collapse in 1991, chief among them the steadily worsening demographic situation.

"The most serious problem in modern Russia is demography," Putin said, stating that the poplation of just under 143 million people was falling by an average of about 700,000 a year.

He outlined a raft of measures such as increased social benefits for mothers.

Seeking to reassure Western markets over Russia's reliability as an energy supplier, Putin said "we must do everything not only for our domestic development, but also to fully meet our obligations before our traditional partners."

However, he was adamant over Russia's rights to look after its own interests, saying that Russia would join the World Trade Organisation only on its own terms.

"Russia's membership in the WTO should not be a subject of bargaining," he said, claiming that discussions over Russia's entry were being linked to "issues that have nothing to do with the economy."

"We see negotiations on entering the World Trade Organization only on terms that support Russia's economic interests."

Russia needs to be strong against 'fortress' US: Putin
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« Reply #34 on: May 10, 2006, 01:35:20 PM »

More killings needed to establish Allah’s rule: Shaikh Rahman tells Jhalakathi Court
By BSS, Jhalakathi
Tue, 9 May 2006, 09:51:00

Chief of militant Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) Shaikh Abdur Rahman on Tuesday declined to accept his trial "tagudi" or human created court saying more killings were needed to establish Allah's laws.

"Killing of more judges and others who do not accept Allah's laws is needed," he told the court, which fixed May 15 to allow the accused to speak about the charges against them under section 342 of the criminal procedure code for the murder of two judges in the district.

Shaikh, who earlier also declined to accept any lawyer for his defence, demanded all concerned to "speak the truth in a decent manner" during the trial.

"I want the trial to be held truly following the Allah's laws, otherwise, I will divulge everything," he told the court, which completed the recording of the last of the 45 prosecution witnesses and investigation officer of the case assistant police super Munshi Atiqur Rahman of CID.

Earlier, extra security cautions were taken on the court premises as members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) escorted the militant kingpins from the prison to the court of additional district and sessions judge Reza Tarik Ahmed.

The top JMB top brasses to face the trial in person are Shaikh Rahman, his second-in-command Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai, militant commander of the outlawed outfit Ataur Rahman Sunny, regional commanders Abdul Awal, Khalid Saifullah, Iftekhar Hassan Mamun and Sultan Hossain.

Munshi Atiq told the court that the militant leaders at a secret meeting at Bashabo in Dhaka in September 2005 plotted the design to kill the two judges as part of their violent campaign to disable the judiciary and the government.

Bangla Bhai, who too declined the assistance of any lawyer, said he was suffering from blood cancer.

A total of 45 prosecution witnesses among the listed 53 testified before the court during the past eight days of hearing and they included eye witnesses of the judges murders, policemen, doctors and landlords of houses rented by the militants for carrying out their judges killing mission.

More killings needed to establish Allah’s rule: Shaikh Rahman tells Jhalakathi Court
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« Reply #35 on: May 11, 2006, 07:52:18 AM »

Iran letter precursor to war?
Analysts say it follows Muhammad's instructions for jihad

Some Middle East observers believe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush could be a precursor to war, based on a traditional Muslim pattern of offering acceptance of Islam before establishing it by force.

Robert Spencer, editor of Jihad Watch, says Ahmadinejad appears to be following the teachings of Muhammad, who gave specific instructions to followers as they engage in "holy war" against "those who disbelieve in Allah."

In a Hadith, regarded by Muslims as sacred writings about Muhammad, the Islamic prophet says a series of offers should be made to "enemies" to embrace Islam, or at least accept Islamic rule, and if they are rejected, "seek Allah's help and fight them."

In his letter, Ahmadinejad argues only Islam can "overcome the present problems of the world" and asks Bush, "Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets? Mr President, History tells us that repressive and cruel governments do not survive."

Another observer of Islam, journalist Stephen Adams, said the letter seems to parallel a missive from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to Americans prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Interviewed on the Michael Medved radio show yesterday, Adams noted bin Laden stated his grievances against the United States and gave Americans the opportunity to "repent."

Based on precedent, Adams continued, he expects the next step will be for Iran to make the invitation public. Then the "crimes" of the U.S. will be published and the grievances will be cited at Friday prayers in mosques. Finally, comes a fatwa, amounting to a declaration of war.

Adams, associate editor of Citizen magazine, said it's possible this scenario could unfold in a matter of weeks.

In a column for WorldNetDaily, Middle East analyst Laura Mansfield said she believes the letter could be a "last warning."

Mansfield says the question must be asked: "Why deliver such a letter when there is little chance it will result in policy changes for either country?"

Like Spencer and Adams, she points out: "Islamic theology documents that no attack can be carried out in jihad without first offering the 'unbelievers' the opportunity to 'repent' and accept Islam. Only when that overture is rejected can an attack occur."

The Iranian president has made clear, at least to audiences at home, Tehran's ultimate intentions.

As WorldNetDaily reported in January, Ahmadinejad told a crowd of theological students in Iran's holy city of Qom that Islam must prepare to rule the world.

"We must believe in the fact that Islam is not confined to geographical borders, ethnic groups and nations. It's a universal ideology that leads the world to justice," Ahmadinejad said Jan. 5, according to Mehran Riazaty, a former Iran analyst for the Central Command of the Coalition Forces in Baghdad.

Ahmadinejad, who drew global attention for his contention the Holocaust was a "myth," said: "We don't shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world." Two months earlier, he threatened to "wipe Israel off the map"

Riazaty, in a post on the website Regime Change Iran, said the Iranian president emphasized his current theme that the return of the Shiite messiah, the Mahdi, is not far away, and Muslims must prepare for it.

According to Shiites, the 12th imam disappeared as a child in the year 941. When he returns, they believe, he will reign on earth for seven years, before bringing about a final judgment and the end of the world.

Ahmadinejad is urging Iranians to prepare for the coming of the Mahdi by turning the country into a mighty and advanced Islamic society and by avoiding the corruption and excesses of the West.

"We must prepare ourselves to rule the world and the only way to do that is to put forth views on the basis of the Expectation of the Return," Ahmadinejad said. "If we work on the basis of the Expectation of the Return [of the Mahdi], all the affairs of our nation will be streamlined and the administration of the country will become easier."
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« Reply #36 on: May 11, 2006, 09:23:55 AM »

 South Africa warns against undermining of Iran's nuclear right
Pretoria, May 11, IRNA

Iran-S Africa-Nuclear issue
Undermining international law and existing agreements on Iran can endanger prospects of other countries of engaging in peaceful nuclear programs, said a South African Foreign Ministry official here Wednesday.

Foreign Ministry Director-General Ayanda Ntsaluba said "countries like South Africa should beware of the double-standard application of international laws on the right to access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes."
His remarks were part of his address to the South African Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

For the time being, "there is no danger to our peaceful (nuclear) program," he said, referring to South Africa's nuclear activities in its Koeberg power station or plans to build a pebble-bed modular reactor.

However, the official added, Pretoria should not be complacent and think that "if there is any undermining of international law and existing agreements on Iran it will not happen to us."
Ntsaluba stressed that South Africa backed Iran's right to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and in accordance with its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Noting that South Africa enjoyed the internation reputation of being a "responsible country," Ntsaluba nonetheless warned that things could turn out differently if tables were turned.

"Once a country is prohibited from acting lawfully within NPT safeguards in terms of accessing nuclear technoloy for peaceful purposes the path down the road would become slippery because then other countries which are not suspected of any weapons programs could be restricted."
When that time comes, "it would have implications for us," Ntsaluba feared.

He stressed that Pretoria was taking no sides on the nuclear issue but "will stand on principle."
South Africa will continue discussions with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the EU trio (Germany, Britain and France) and Russia on the issue "to realize any proposal on the table that holds the promise of moving the process of resolving the Iran nuclear crisis forward," he said.

South Africa warns against undermining of Iran's nuclear right
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« Reply #37 on: May 13, 2006, 04:00:32 AM »

Amid heightened threats from president Ahmadinejad, Tehran opens a back door into Israel for its penetration-cum-terror agents: Sudan to the Negev

May 11, 2006, 12:32 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal that two Iranian Revolutionary Guards companies were dropped at Khartoum’s military airfield May 2 by a C-130 transport and driven to a secret military installation on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital. Their arrival signals the onset of an Iranian military airlift to Sudan of a fully equipped RG brigade with armor, a major escalation of the clandestine Iranian threat to Egypt and Israel alike.

DEBKAfile’s security sources report the ongoing routine of illicit Sudanese infiltrations into the southern Israeli Negev, shepherded by any of three local smuggling rings: the Palestinian gang headed by Jamal Samhadan, the Hamas government’s new appointee as commander of its security forces, Sudanese-Egyptian crime organizations and al Qaeda’s Sinai network.

All three are readily available to operate under the orders of the Iranian RG intelligence officers posted in Sudan.

The scale of the Negev traffic is such that hardly a day goes by without Sudanese infiltrators being caught attempting to steal across the Egyptian border into southern Israel. Many are job-seekers; a few, mules for gunrunners or spies collecting data on army installations in the desert region; some were caught recently near the town of Mitzpeh Ramon. They are led to their destinations by Egyptian intelligence agents familiar with the territory, Palestinian terrorists from Gaza or a sprinkling of Israeli Arabs.

An Israeli security source told DEBKAfile that the current Egyptian-Israeli-Gazan border situation offers Iranian agents and terrorists mixed in among the Sudanese infiltrators an easy route into southern Israel. The RG agents are Arabic speakers, having acquired the language from their stint as military instructors with the Lebanese Hizballah.
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« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2006, 04:02:03 AM »

Lure of Babylon is powerful draw

Iraq, U.N. undertake project to restore city, transform it into center for cultural tourism.

Jeffrey Gettleman / New York Times


BABYLON, Iraq -- In this ancient city, it is hard to tell what are ruins and what is just ruined.

Crumbling brick buildings, some 2,500 years old, look like smashed sand castles at the beach. Famous sites, like the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens, are swallowed up by river reeds. Signs of military occupation are everywhere, including trenches, bullet casings, shiny coils of razor wire and blast walls stamped, "This side Scud protection."

Babylon, the mud-brick city with the million-dollar name, has paid the price of war. It has been ransacked, looted, torn up, paved over, neglected and roughly occupied. Archaeologists said American soldiers even used soil thick with priceless artifacts to stuff sandbags.

But Iraqi leaders and U.N. officials are not giving up. They are working assiduously to restore Babylon and turn it into a cultural center and possibly even an Iraqi theme park. No one is saying this is going to happen any time soon, but what makes the project even conceivable is that the area around Babylon is one of the safest in Iraq -- a beacon of civilization, once again, in a land of chaos.

Ancient Babylon, celebrated as a fount of law, writing and urban living, sits just outside the modern-day city of Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

Hilla is neither haunted by Sunni insurgents nor overwhelmed by Shiite militias, and though it has a mix of Shiites and Sunnis, it has not been afflicted by the sectarian violence that has paralyzed so many other parts of Iraq. Factories are churning, Iraqi security forces are patrolling and the streets pulsate with life -- children bounding to school, crowds wading into markets, taxis gliding by.

Emad Lafta al-Bayati, Hilla's mayor, has big plans for Babylon. "I want restaurants, gift shops, long parking lots," he said. God willing, he added, maybe even a Holiday Inn.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is pumping millions of dollars into protecting and restoring Babylon and a handful of other ancient ruins in Iraq. UNESCO has even printed up a snazzy brochure, with Babylon listed as the premier destination, to hand out to wealthy donors.

"Cultural tourism could become Iraq's second-biggest industry, after oil," said Philippe Delanghe, a U.N. official helping with the project. But before Iraq becomes the next Egypt, he said wryly, "a few little things have to happen."

One of those, of course, is better security. The American military still maintains bases near Babylon, but next month, in a sign of how relatively stable the area has become, most troops will pull out and head north to Baghdad, where they are needed more.

Many Iraqis said it was about time. Occupying forces have been blamed for much of Babylon's recent demise.

Donny George, head of Iraq's board of antiquities, said Polish troops dug trenches through an ancient temple and American contractors paved over ruins to make a helicopter landing pad.

"How are we supposed to get rid of the helipad now?" George asked. "With jackhammers? Can you imagine taking a jackhammer to the remains of one of the most important cities in the history of mankind? I mean, come on, this is Babylon."

Babylon. Its name has had a magical ring since Hammurabi, the Babylonian king who ruled from 1792 to 1750 B.C. and is credited with handing down one of the first sets of codified law.

After Hammurabi, the city flourished again under King Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled from around 605 to 562 B.C. and is best known for the hanging gardens he supposedly built for his wife.

Lure of Babylon is powerful draw
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« Reply #39 on: May 14, 2006, 03:11:59 AM »

Iran Leader Emboldened by Muslim Support

By ZAKKI HAKIM, Associated Press Writer Sat May 13, 10:34 PM ET

BALI, Indonesia - Iran's president, emboldened by the support of Muslim nations, said Saturday he was willing to hold talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear agenda but not with Israel or countries that hold "bombs over our head."

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has cooperated fully with the U.N. nuclear agency and the world has nothing to fear from his program to enrich uranium, which can be used for generating electricity or in making atomic weapons.

The hardline leader spoke after meeting with heads of state and prime ministers from Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey and Malaysia and government ministers from Egypt and Bangladesh.

Though they were on the Indonesian resort island of Bali to discuss ways to boost economic and political cooperation, alleviate poverty and restructure debt, it was impossible to ignore Iran's intensifying nuclear stalemate with the West.

Washington and its allies fear Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons. But Ahmadinejad insists his nuclear program is only for generating electricity and accuses the West of greedily trying to monopolize nuclear technology.

He received a boost Saturday from the eight Islamic leaders, who released a statement after their D-8 summit of developing nations supporting the rights of countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"Our people need to do more to help one another," Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said, adding that "proud" Islamic countries should work together to develop renewable and alternative energy sources.

Later, Indonesian Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said his country plans to build its first major nuclear power plant by 2015 and has been offered assistance by companies from South Korea, Japan, France and an unspecified fourth country.

Much of Ahmadinejad's work was done on the sidelines of the trade talks, meeting privately with Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Fears that Iran is trying to build nuclear warheads were aggravated Friday, when diplomats said U.N. inspectors may have found traces of highly enriched uranium on equipment from an Iranian research center linked to the military.

The diplomats, who demanded anonymity in exchange for divulging the confidential information, initially said the density of enrichment appeared to be close to or above the level used to make nuclear warheads.

But later a well-placed diplomat accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency said the level was below that, although higher than the low-enriched material used to generate power and heading toward weapons-grade level.

"I have not heard that," Ahmadinejad said when asked about the claims, saying the world had no reason "to become nervous ... The nuclear program of Iran is totally peaceful."

He said he his country has worked closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"The cameras are there, the facilities are there, closely monitoring our activities. Therefore there are no concerns."

He also said that while he was willing to talk to just about anyone about the dispute he would not do so with "countries that hang planes with bombs over our heads" — an apparent reference to the United States.

"If they want to threaten the use of force we will not go into dialogue with them."

Washington has said it favors diplomacy in resolving the dispute with Iran but has left open the possibility of military strikes against Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

The Bush administration had been pressing for U.N. Security Council action against Tehran but recently agreed to put such efforts on hold and give new European-led attempts to find a negotiated solution.

Russia and China have balked at efforts to put a Security Council resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter. Such a move would declare Iran a threat to international peace and security and set the stage for further measures if Tehran refuses to suspend uranium enrichment. Those measures could range from breaking diplomatic relations to economic sanctions and military action.

Saturday's summit came amid European moves to help Iran develop a civilian nuclear power program if the Islamic republic agrees to international controls to ensure it will not build an atomic arsenal.

The Europeans are seeking to build on a package of economic and political incentives offered to Iran in August last year in return for a permanent end to uranium enrichment activities.

Iran rejected that deal, but EU governments have continued to offer sweeteners to persuade Tehran to bring its nuclear program into line, as well as pushing at the United Nations for measures that could lead to sanctions if Iran refuses.

Iran's Foreign Minister said in Bali, however, that "no incentive can be interesting for the Iranian government and the Iranian nation unless it includes Iran's right to benefit from nuclear technology."

Iran Leader Emboldened by Muslim Support
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« Reply #40 on: May 14, 2006, 03:14:36 AM »

Iran Leader Emboldened by Muslim Support

By ZAKKI HAKIM, Associated Press Writer Sat May 13, 10:34 PM ET

BALI, Indonesia - Iran's president, emboldened by the support of Muslim nations, said Saturday he was willing to hold talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear agenda but not with Israel or countries that hold "bombs over our head."

I have been waiting for this statement to come out. I look next for Russia and Iran to become more buddy, buddy. Before Russia brings to the U.N. about Israel , having nuclear weapons.
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« Reply #41 on: May 14, 2006, 06:56:53 AM »

U.N.'s Annan Cautions Iran to Cool Nuclear Rhetoric

    Friday, May 12, 2006

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has cautioned Iran to step back from its aggressive stance and reassure the world that its nuclear program is peaceful. Meanwhile, U.N. diplomats are speaking of a shift in the tone of discussions on Iran, from confrontation to engagement.

Secretary-General Annan Wednesday expressed optimism that efforts to find a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions are being intensified.

He spoke shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Western governments would wait a few weeks before pushing for further Security Council action on Iran's suspect nuclear program.

But on a day when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad accused Western nations of hypocrisy, and called their expressions of concern about Tehran's nuclear program a "big lie", Mr. Annan warned Iran to cool its rhetoric.

"I think it is important that the Iranians remain open and that they back away from this aggressive posture, and be open to discussions," said Kofi Annan. "I think that no one is saying that they are not entitled to peaceful use of nuclear energy. But they have a responsibility to communicate and to show that their intention is peaceful."

Meanwhile, Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin hailed what he called a "change of mood" during this weeks' ministerial-level talks on Iran. Churkin spoke of an evolution in the tone of diplomacy since last week, when European nations asked the Security Council to invoke Chapter seven of the U.N. charter, legally requiring Tehran to halt uranium enrichment.

"You will recall that when this was presented by the French and the British, the words you heard, Chapter Seven, and threat to peace, and how many days they will be given to obey what is going to be in the resolution, and then diplomacy in its quiet way did its job, because some of you may not have noticed but the mood has changed completely," said Vitaly Churkin.

Churkin said this week's ministerial talks in New York had been marked by a turn away from the earlier tone of confrontation to one of engagement.

"As a result of what has been achieved so far is we have reason to say to Iran that they should not be looking at the process in any kind of a confrontational mode, because the process is not confrontational to them," he said.

The new mood was reflected in the comments of Washington's U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Earlier, he had pushed for prompt passage of the British-French draft resolution, with a short deadline for Iranian compliance.

Wednesday, Bolton expressed skepticism about whether Iran would accept a proposed European package of incentives in return for suspending uranium enrichment. But he suggested the idea was worth a try in the interest of maintaining unity among the five permanent Security Council members.

"I think the possibility of Perm five unity is important," said John Bolton. "That's what this initiative is designed to undertake. We'll see what happens in terms of putting the package together, and based on whether the Iranians accept the package, that will tell us what we'll do here."

European diplomats hope to have their package of energy and trade incentives ready by next Monday. It will be presented to top diplomats of the five permanent Council members and Germany in London later in the week. In the mean time, the draft resolution on Iran is being put aside to allow time for diplomacy to work.
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« Reply #42 on: May 16, 2006, 01:22:45 PM »

European Nations May Give Iran a Reactor

 Key European nations are considering offering Iran a light-water nuclear reactor as part of incentives meant to persuade Tehran to give up its uranium enrichment program, a senior diplomat said Tuesday.

But a U.S. official said Washington would likely oppose the plan.

 A senior diplomat familiar with international attempts to dissuade Iran from enrichment said the tentative plans still were being discussed among France, Britain and Germany as part of a possible package to be presented Friday to senior representatives of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members.

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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #43 on: May 18, 2006, 01:15:05 AM »

Russia challenges American policy on Iran, North Korea
By Brian Bonner
Knight Ridder Newspapers

MOSCOW - Russia and China oppose using political, economic or military force to isolate Iran or pressure the Islamic Republic to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"We confirmed today that neither Russia nor China will be able to support the (United Nations) Security Council's possible resolution that would contain a pretext for coercive, let alone military, measures," Lavrov told reporters after two days of discussions in Beijing with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, according to the Russian Interfax news agency.

Lavrov also announced that hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom the Bush administration is trying to isolate, would attend a summit in Shanghai next month with the leaders of Russia, China and four Central Asian nations.

Reinforced by record crude oil prices and by more than $200 billion in gold and hard currency reserves, Russia is challenging U.S. policies toward Iran, North Korea and the militant leaders of the Palestinian Authority. Its leaders also are expressing growing irritation with American criticism of their domestic policies.

The most pointed criticism so far has come from Vice President Dick Cheney, who on May 4 said: "In many areas of civil society - from religion and the news media, to advocacy groups and political parties - the (Russian) government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people." Cheney also warned Russia against using its natural gas and oil wealth to bully its neighbors.

In his May 10 state of the nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by criticizing "Comrade Wolf" and blaming the U.S. for igniting a new high-tech arms race that will force Russia to upgrade its military.

"Where is all that pathos of the need to fight for human rights and democracy when it concerns the need to realize their own interests?" Putin asked. "It turns out that anything is possible then."

The rhetoric has gotten so heated that Putin denied Saturday that he's spoiling for a new cold war. "We don't need this," Putin told Russian journalists.

"We are heading towards growing tensions and misunderstandings and mistrust," said Alexei Arbatov, the director of the Center for International Security in Moscow. "We are left with very little, other than some general ideas that we cannot go back to the Cold War and that we have common interests."

Arbatov said that both nations have tried to "substitute personal relations" between top leaders for agreements on strategic issues.

Arbatov blamed U.S. officials for destroying "the whole arms-control regime" and said U.S. leaders are confused about their foreign-policy priorities.

"If Iran is the No. 1 priority, and you want to gain Russian support for your positions, you don't attack Russia because of what's happening in the post-Soviet space or domestic space or for its energy strategy," Arbatov said. "Now the American superior power thinks there's only two points of view: One is American and the other is wrong."

Yevgeny Volk, who heads the conservative Heritage Foundation's Moscow office, questioned Putin's commitment to cooperating on a broad range of fronts - fighting terrorism, promoting Middle East peace and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration, Volk said, is finally speaking up about the menace posed by Putin, whom he regards as mired in anti-American stereotypes of the Soviet era.

Russia challenges American policy on Iran, North Korea
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« Reply #44 on: May 18, 2006, 01:27:01 AM »

JIHAD PREPARES ROCKET FOR MASS PRODUCTION

TEL AVIV [MENL] -- Palestinian insurgents have been testing indigenous versions of a Russian-origin short-range rocket in preparation for mass production.

Israeli military sources said Islamic Jihad has been test-firing indigenous version of the BM-21 Grad rocket from the northern Gaza Strip. The sources said the Grad was being tested for range and accuracy.

"We believe Islamic Jihad, probably with Hamas, has been developing and producing prototypes of the Grad," a military source said. "We know they have the expertise and the equipment to produce the rocket."

So far, the Grad rocket has been fired three times from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel. The last time was on Tuesday, when the rocket landed in a chicken coop in an Israeli kibbutz along the border with the Gaza Strip. Nobody was injured.
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