|Southwest Asia News Digest
Iran, Russia Inaugurate First 'Atoms for Peace' Power Plant in Mideast
Sept. 12 (EIRNS)-Iran and Russia held a joint ceremony on Sept. 12, inaugurating the first operational nuclear power plant in any nation of Southwest Asia, as the Bushehr power plant was integrated into Iran's electrical power grid. Attending the ceremony were leading figures from both Russia and Iran, including Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi and nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi, as well as Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and the head of Russia's state-run nuclear power corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, reported Russia's RIA Novosti and Israel's Ha'aretz.
The integration into the national energy grid is to be done in phases, with 40% of the 1,000-megawatt capacity being connected immediately, and full capacity scheduled to be reached in November. Shmatko told reporters that the operation of the Bushehr plant is fully under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that in-depth testing is being conducted prior to using the plant at full capacity.
"Iran and Russia have granted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full supervision of the joint plant," reported Ha'aretz, quoting the Kazakh news agency Khabar. Ha'aretz also quoted Abbasi, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, saying, "This is the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East, and Iran and Russia have set an example for peaceful nuclear cooperation. The start of the Bushehr plant symbolically shows to the world how a country could maintain its freedom and independence through resistance," he added.
But even as this breakthrough was being celebrated as a major development achievement, former Vice President Dick Cheney was delivering another threat to Iran that powerful factions in the United States will back Israel in a preemptive strike against Iran.
In an interview aired Sept. 12 on Newsmax TV, Cheney said "Iran represents an existential threat, and [the Israelis] will do whatever they have to do to guarantee their survival and their security." He said that he would not quote a specific Israeli officials, but rather he had had "a number of conversations with a lot of Israeli officials, and I think they correctly perceive Iran as a basic threat" (emphasis added).
Ha'aretz prominently featured the Newsmax article on Sept. 12, adding that in 2007, then-Vice President Cheney advocated a preemptive strike against an alleged nuclear site in Syria, but that his plan was quashed by other members of the Bush Administration, among them Defense Secretary Bob Gates, and Bush did not go along with Cheney's plan. Israel carried out the bombing of the Syrian site on its own, with the implicit green light from Washington.
LPAC-TV warned in a video last week, that President Obama is also committed to stopping Iran's nuclear power aspirations.
Sarkozy Threatens Iran May Be Attacked by Some Country, Unnamed
PARIS, Sept. 1 (EIRNS)French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking yesterday to the 19th annual conference of French ambassadors at the Elysée Palace, said that Iran's nuclear "ambitions" could lead unnamed countries to launch a pre-emptive attack. "Iran's military, nuclear, and ballistic ambitions pose a growing threat that could lead to a preventive strike on Iranian facilities and create a serious crisis, which France wants to avoid by all means," he said.
AFP reported, "Sarkozy did not say which country might launch such a strike, but it has been reported that Israelperhaps with U.S. supporthas considered bombing Iranian nuclear sites if it believes Tehran is close to building a weapon."
The President continued: "Iran refuses to negotiate seriously and is engaging in new provocations. The international community can only provide a credible response to this challenge if it demonstrates unity and firmness and imposes even harsher sanctions. We would be mistaken to underestimate their effects; they are increasingly noticeable."
Blair Intended To Go To War in Iraq, UN Resolution or No
Aug. 31 (EIRNS)Yet another piece of evidence has emerged, showing that then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair always intended to lead the U.S. into war in Iraq, and all the dancing at the UN Security Council over UN inspections of Iraq's alleged WMD programs was nothing but a public cover to hide his intentions.
The newest piece of evidence is a letter dated Oct. 17, 2002, from Matthew Rycroft, Blair's personal secretary, to then-Foreign Minister Jack Straw's personal secretary Mark Sedwill. In the letter, Rycroft referenced a meeting that day, involving Blair, Straw, Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, and a number of other Cabinet intimates, in which Straw briefed Blair and the others on his most recent contacts with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. "The meeting concluded that the only way to keep the US on the UN route was for there to be a clear understanding that if [UN weapons inspection chief Hans] Blix reported an Iraqi breach of the first Resolution, then Saddam would not have a second chance," Rycroft wrote. "In other words, if for some reason (such as a French of Russian veto) there were no second Resolution agreed in these circumstances, we and the US would take action," that is, invade Iraq.
The first resolution referred to, became UNSCR 1441, passed by the Security Council on Nov. 8, 2002, which authorized the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq. According to testimony provided to the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, Straw told de Villepin on Oct. 17 that the first resolution did not authorize military action, and that even the Americans acknowledged that the wording of 1441 "implied that there needed to be a second SCR."
Rycroft's letter was copied only to a small number of other officials. "This letter is sensitive," Rycroft wrote. "It must be seen only by those with a real need to know its contents, and must not be copied further." Significantly, neither Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith, nor the top legal advisors of the Foreign Office, were among those to whom the letter was copied. In October 2002, Goldsmith was still arguing that military action required a second resolution, and would not be persuaded to change his mind until February of 2003, when he was told that the U.S. had only signed up for Resolution 1441 because it authorized war without further resolution.
"As the Rycroft letter shows, following Straw's discussions with Powell and de Villepin," wrote Iraq Inquiry editor Chris Ames on Aug. 29, "the British government decided to make clear that they would go to war on a resolution that they knew to be inadequate, while bluffing that it gave them legal cover."
The Rycroft letter came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request by Ames and the London Guardian, both of whom have published it. There is no indication that the Chilcot Commission has seen it. One of those to whom the letter was copied was Blair's ambassador in Moscow, Sir Roderic Lyne. Lyne is now one of the five members of the commission, sitting in judgment on Britain's decision to go to war.
Blair Calls for Regime Change in Iran and Syria
Sept. 9 (EIRNS)The architect of the regime-change policy which led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, today called for regime change in Iran and Syria. In an interview with the London Times marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Blair said, "Regime change in Tehran would immediately make me significantly more optimistic about the whole of the region. If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability, it would destabilize the region very, very badly. They continue to support groups that are engaged with terrorism and the forces of reaction. In Iraq one of the main problems has been the continued intervention of Iran and likewise in Afghanistan."
The Guardian article, in its coverage of the interview, which was also released by Blair's office today, writes that Blair "appears to be open to the idea of a military attack against Iran if it comes close to acquiring nuclear missiles. But he makes clear he was not advocating a military strike."
While not saying that Syria presents the same threat as Iran, he nonetheless says future change in Syria cannot include Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Blair says that, "He is not going to lead the program of change in Syria now. He has shown he is not capable of reform. His position is untenable. There is no process of change that leaves him intact."