|Southwest Asia News Digest
Is the White House Now Starting a WMD Campaign vs. Syria?
Sept. 14 (EIRNS)Andrew Semmel, acting U.S. deputy assistant secretary for nuclear nonproliferation, said in Rome that Syria was on the U.S. nuclear "watch list," and asserted that foreign technicians were in the country, and argued sophistically that the U.S. knows that there may have been contacts with suppliers for nuclear equipment. Semmel is in Italy for a Sept. 15 meeting on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and was questioned by reporters about an Israeli airstrike in northern Syria last week.
Semmel said, according to Associated Press, that "there are indicators that they do have something going on there.... We do know that there are a number of foreign technicians that have been in Syria. We do know that there may have been contact between Syria and some secret suppliers for nuclear equipment. Whether anything transpired remain to be seen," he said. "There are North Korean people there. There's no question about that. Just as there are a lot of North Koreans in Iraq and Iran," he explained. "We're watching very closely. Obviously, the Israelis were watching very closely," he added.
Moussa Questions Goals of Mideast Peace Conference
Sept.13, 2007 (EIRNS)French Foreign Secretary Bernard Kouchner held two joint press conferences in Egypt on Sept. 13. At the first, with Arab League General Secretary Amr Moussa, Kouchner said that the upcoming Middle East peace conference should be tackled with caution in order to be effective. Kouchner also said that, "We should play an efficient role for realizing a comprehensive fair peace in the region."
Arab League General Secretary Amr Moussa responded that, "So far, the Arab side has not been informed of any preparations for the conference, which is to take place in November, which raises question marks about the goals of the conference and its agenda." Moussa added that no Arabs would take part in a peace conference whose agenda was unclear.
Kouchner then held a second press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit. Abul-Gheit said that communications between Egypt, the U.S., and other international parties did not reveal any U.S. vision regarding the conference. Abul-Gheit added that, "holding this conference, which aims at pushing forward the peace process, without agreeing on establishing a Palestinian state will lead to serious consequences.
As EIR reported in its Sept. 7 article, "Peace Conference or Hot Autumn?" Vice President Dick Cheney, and his ally Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council, are making sure that there will be no serious agendaSyria and Hamas are to be excluded from the "peace conference," and the central issues of the Palestinian right of return, the city of Jerusalem, and the 1967 borders of a two-state solution will not be discussed. Washington-based intelligence sources have told EIR that with this sabotage, the Saudis will not attend, and probably there will not be a November meeting at all.
ElBaradei Walks Out as EU Attacks the IAEA, Iran
Sept. 11 (EIRNS)Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), walked out of the Sept. 11 board of governor's meeting in Vienna, to protest the European Union attack on Iran and on his agency's efforts to peacefully resolve remaining nuclear energy issues through negotiations. Portuguese ambassador Joaquim Duarte delivered the EU speech, which diplomats attending the closed-door meeting told AFP, attacked Iran for not adhering to UN Security Council resolutions, and barely mentioned the timetable the IAEA has worked out with Iran to resolve outstanding issues. "The Europeans gave a nasty statement, and the director general walked out of the room," a diplomat said.
AFP reports that just before the EU speech, ElBaradei had received a very supportive statement from the Non-Aligned Movement; that it shares the view that the work plan and timetable "is a 'significant step forward,' and reiterates its full confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of the Secretariat of the IAEA, and its Director General."
Cheneyacs Throw a Fit Over ElBaradei/IAEA Report
Sept. 12 (EIRNS)The U.S., Britain, and the European Union failed to turn the Sept. 11 meeting of the IAEA into a "showdown" against Iran, with a large fraction of the 35-member board of governors continuing to support Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei in his recommendations to continue negotiations in good faith with Iran.
So, now the Cheneyacs are reportedly pursuing a two-track confrontation with Iran: 1. a military strike against the Revolutionary Guard, and other locations in Iran, based on the hyped-up allegations that Iran is behind terrorism in Iraq; and, 2. going to the United Nations to push for more crippling economic sanctions, paired with a UN sanctioned clause in a resolution that would allow a military strike over Iran's refusal to give up enriching uranium for peaceful purposes.
After failing to get the board of governors to reject ElBaradei's recommendations, the Bush Administration announced today, through State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, that it would host a meeting on Sept. 21 to discuss "broadening UN sanctions against Iran for its refusal to suspend nuclear activity," reported Reuters. The meeting will include the U.S., United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France (the "Permanent Five" members of the UN Security Council), plus Germany, and will be "centered largely on a discussion of what sanctions will be included" in a new UN Council resolution, said McCormack. But, U.S. intelligence sources have told EIR that China is prepared to block any new sanctions, and it is possible that a Security Council effort to block Iran's nuclear energy enrichment program could even fail to get the required number of votes.
Iran Clarifies Nuclear Issues; U.S. Rejects IAEA Policy
Sept. 13 (EIRNS)Speaking at the IAEA board of governors meeting on Sept. 12, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh cleared up several remaining issues regarding Iran's nuclear program, IRNA reported. He said that Mohamed ElBaradei's latest report on Iran was a "major step forward," adding that the Iranian initiative has brought a new atmosphere for Iran-IAEA cooperation. "Iran is hopeful for maintenance of the current friendly atmosphere created after signing of the modality plan, and at the same time, the political atmosphere is well-prepared for the special states to go ahead with talks with Iran." He criticized certain states for "questioning the merits of the Iran-IAEA modality agreement," meaning the U.S. and UK.
Soltanieh reviewed the main points of the IAEA-Iran agreement, referencing the Safeguards Approach and the Facility Attachment for the enrichment facility at Natanz, as well as inspections at the heavy water research reactor in Arak and Iran's having issued multiple annual visas for the inspectors and the staff members of the IAEA. Regarding other issues, he said, "Iran has agreed to start implementation of the first remaining issueplutonium experiments." Here he nailed the U.S. for claiming that the program was a military one. "Despite Iran's continued assertions that no further experiments have been made and the materials and information provided to the agency are comprehensive and correct, a certain state tried to make a big political issue out of it, and declared repeatedly in the course of the meetings of the Board of Governors during the past four years that that issue illustrates the developing threat of Iran's plutonium weapons program." He concluded by referring to the important statement in the IAEA-Iran agreement, and in ElBaradei's latest report on Iran, that the agency confirmed that the past declaration of Iran is consistent with the agency's finding, and thus the matter is resolved.
Gates: We Don't Need Cross-Border Attack on Iran
Sept. 16 (EIRNS)Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared on FOX-TV this morning, where he was confronted by host Chris Wallace on statements by Gen. David Petraeus that Iran was training insurgents inside Iraq, Gates flatly said there is a "question ... of just how much intelligence we have," on that allegation, and that the "general view" is that we can manage Iran "inside the borders of Iraq" and we "don't need to go across the border into Iran." He also insisted that "the President believes at this point that dealing with Iran," through the "diplomatic and economic approach, is the one that we are pursuing."
Putin Will Visit Iran in October
Sept. 12, 2007 (EIRNS) Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Tehran on Oct. 16, to participate in a summit of Caspian Sea littoral states and hold talks with the Iranian regime.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced the visit on Sept. 11, upon his arrival in Moscow for the sixth meeting of the Iran-Russia Joint Economic Commission meeting. During his two-day stay, Mottaki is expected to meet with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, the speaker of the State Duma, Boris Gryzlov, and the Director of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), Sergei Kiriyenko.