Monday, February 21, 2005


Strong Quake Hits Iran, at Least 80 Dead

Strong Quake Hits Iran, at Least 80 Dead: "TEHRAN (Reuters) - A strong earthquake hit southeast Iran on Tuesday morning, killing at least 80 people, injuring hundreds and destroying villages, officials said.

The earthquake, which measured 6.4 on the Richter scale, was centered on the town of Zarand in Kerman province, about 440 miles southeast of Tehran. "

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Sunday, February 20, 2005


US-Iran Relations: Is Confrontation Necessary? (Hooshang Amirahmadi - from AIC site)

The following essay was originally written by Hooshang Amirahmadi in 2002 following President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech that characterized Iran as a member of the ‘axis of evil’. However, the ideas are as pertinent today as they were three years ago. The essay has been slightly adapted and updated to reflect current events.

US-Iran Relations: Is Confrontation Necessary? Hooshang Amirahmadi - from AIC site)

What the carrot pile should include can be debated. It must begin with building mutual trust between the two governments regarding their intentions. One sure measure towards this end is reciprocal and simultaneous public announcements that Tehran and Washington are ready to reestablish diplomatic relations within the framework of a pre-negotiated agenda for formal talks to follow. These announcements can be mediated by the United Nations or another mutually trusted third party. After all, lack of diplomatic relations even between countries at war is against the established norm of international relations.

Another tool of trust building is a reciprocal acceptance of interests and role. Tehran must acknowledge the legitimate American global interests and role. The United States should reciprocate by acknowledging the legitimate Iranian regional interests and role. This reciprocity should not infringe upon the legitimate interests and role of other states. US-Iran relations have no real friend in the region. The two administrations must lobby these states to enlist their support. Most governments have a strong interest in regional political stability. Cooperation is the key to regional trust building and creating a win-win situation.

To help build trust and confidence, both sides must broaden their perspectives of each other’s concerns, deeds, intentions and capabilities. American officials have stressed Iran’s strategic significance, but this is often done to underscore its potential for aggression. The presumption that “a weaker Iran is a better Iran” was the basis of the “dual containment” policy, now expanded into an “axis of evil” policy. Yet, in the last 150 years, a strong Iran has never initiated any hostility toward its neighbors. In contrast, whenever Iran has been weaker, as in the post-1979 period, wars have been imposed on it and regional instability has followed.

The fight against terrorism and fundamentalism, peace in the Middle East, and confidence building in nuclear matter can be coordinated in the best interests of the two nations and the states in the region. Iran lives in a dangerous neighborhood, and partnership with the United States can allay Iran's anxiety and provide it with a protective umbrella. While rich in oil and gas, geography, and human resources, Iran lacks the required capital and technology, shortcomings that the United States can uniquely help to mitigate. Partnership with the U.S will also make Iran a natural “pivotal” or “anchor” state for regional peace and development.

The big carrot pile should also include specific incentives. The United States must repackage its previous offers to Iran and add new strategic incentives immensely attractive to Tehran. US carrots can be designed to serve US strategic interests. A global settlement of Iranian assets, opening to pipelines through Iran, and other energy investments will bear considerable fruit. While US firms continue to be barred from investing in Iran, European companies have used the relative calm in the relations, rushed into Iran and imposed monopolistic deals on the country, thanks also to the unilateral sanctions and an ineffectual ILSA legislation.

But the carrots must be offered with clearly delineated and realizable objectives. Paramount among such objectives for the United States is to see Iran become a strategic partner, along with Israel. This requires that the two countries develop a common language, purpose and action plan on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, the Middle East peace, regional security, and safe flow of oil from the region. Washington particularly wants Iran to help in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism and for the stabilization of Afghanistan. While the United States has economic interests in Iran, they are far less important than its strategic and geopolitical interests.

Iran must deal with Israel as a reality and help change Israel’s perception of Iran as a threat. Rhetoric has had an important role in the creation of the threat perception. Iran must understand and change this. The Islamic Republic has said that it will not interfere with the peace process and accepts any settlement reached between the Palestinians and Israelis. This is not enough. Iran must help craft a just peace, since the lack of peace is an obstacle to the rapprochement between Iran and the United States. To play a positive role toward establishment of a Palestinian state, Iran must reduce tension with Israel.

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President Clinton's comments about Iran.

Former President Bill Clinton was interviewed by journalist Charlie Rose during this year’s World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, between January 26 and 30. President Clinton spoke in depth on the current state of US-Iran relations. The following are excerpts from this interview.

“But Iran is the most perplexing problem ... we face, for the following reasons: It is the only country in the world with two governments, and the only country in the world that has now had six elections since the first election of President Khatami. [It is] the only one with elections, including the United States, including Israel, including you name it, where the liberals, or the progressives, have won two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote in six elections: two for President; two for the parliament, the Majlis; two for the mayoralities.

In every single election, the guys I identify with got two-thirds to 70% of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own.”

“So ... I still hope there is a diplomatic solution. It is madness. There is an elected government in Iran supported by two-thirds of the people that wants a rapprochement with the West.... And we can't get there. It's crazy.”

“You know the religious council in Iran has not entirely shut down democracy, they haven't totally invalidated everything they have tried to do. I think there is still a lot of internal back and forth going on there. I personally believe that we ought to give some final vigorous push to diplomacy to try to deal with this.”

Click here for complete transcipt!

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Shirin Ebadi: Attacking Iran would bring disaster, not freedom. (Independent-UK)

It is hard not to see America's focus on human rights in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests

Condoleezza Rice has given assurances that a military attack by the United States on Iran 'is simply not on the agenda at this point'. But notwithstanding Rice's disavowal, recent statements by the Bush administration, starting with President Bush's State of the Union address and Vice President Dick Cheney's comments about a possible Israeli military attack on Iran, are reminiscent of the rhetoric in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

And Rice herself made clear that "the Iranian regime's human rights behaviour and its behaviour toward its own population is something to be loathed."

American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause.

The situation for human rights in Iran is far from ideal. Security forces harass, imprison and even torture human rights defenders and civil society activists. The authorities attack journalists and writers for expressing their opinions and regularly shut down newspapers. Political prisoners languish in jails. Superfluous judicial summonses are routinely used to intimidate critics, and arbitrary detentions are common.

But Iranian society has refused to be coerced into silence. The human rights discourse is alive and well at the grassroots level; civil society activists consider it to be the most potent framework for achieving sustainable democratic reforms and political pluralism. Indeed, readers might be surprised to know how vigorous Iran's human rights organisations are. Last autumn, when security forces unlawfully detained more than 20 young journalists and bloggers because of what they had written, independent Iranian organisations like the Centre for Defence of Human Rights, the Association of Journalists for Freedom of Press, and the Students Association for Human Rights campaigned for their release.

This outcry, in tandem with support from the international community and organisations such as Human Rights Watch, led to the release of detainees. In fact, so great was the criticism that some of Iran's most senior government officials came out in favour of releasing the detainees.

Independent organisations are essential for fostering the culture of human rights in Iran. But the threat of foreign military intervention will provide a powerful excuse for authoritarian elements to uproot these groups and put an end to their growth.

Human rights violators will use this opportunity to silence their critics by labelling them as the enemy's fifth column. In 1980, after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and inflamed nationalist passions, Iranian authorities used such arguments to suppress dissidents.

American hypocrisy doesn't help, either. Given the long-standing willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women's rights, by close allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration's focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests.

Respect for human rights in any country must spring forth through the will of the people and as part of a genuine democratic process. Such respect can never be imposed by foreign military might and coercion - an approach that abounds in contradictions.

Not only would a foreign invasion of Iran vitiate popular support for human rights activism, but by destroying civilian lives, institutions and infrastructure, war would also usher in chaos and instability. Respect for human rights is likely to be among the first casualties.

Instead, the most effective way to promote human rights in Iran is to provide moral support and international recognition to independent human rights defenders, and to insist that Iran adhere to the international human rights laws and conventions that it has signed.

Getting the Iranian government to abide by these international standards is the human rights movement's highest goal; foreign military intervention in Iran is the surest way to harm us and keep that goal out of reach.

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is the founder of the Centre for Defence of Human Rights in Tehran

Click here for Independent-UK site:

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Gary Sick's testimony in front of the US Congress regarding US Policy toward Iran.

Statement Before the
Committee on International Relations

US House of Representatives

February 16, 2005

U.S. Policy Toward Iran

Gary Sick
Columbia University

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations. It is a subject that has engaged me for more than a quarter of a century. It has never been more important than it is today.

I am sorry that it was impossible for me to be with you in person today. I would like to thank the School of International and Public Affairs and the Middle East Institute of Columbia University in the City of New York who worked with your staff to give me the opportunity to join you by videoconference.

Historical Notes

The United States first stationed military forces in the Persian Gulf during World War II, when Iran provided the rail route for lend lease aid to reach the Soviet Union. We maintained a small presence there in the years that followed (I first visited the region as a young naval officer with the Middle East Force command in the late 1950s). We played an important role from time to time in the politics of the region, as in 1953 when the shah was restored to the throne by a joint U.S.-British covert action. But it was not until the British withdrawal in 1971 and the oil shock of 1973 that we assumed major political and security responsibilities in the region, and it was only during the late stages of the Iran-Iraq war, in the mid-1980s that we again established a major military presence in the Gulf.

The two U.S. wars against Saddam Hussein – Desert Storm in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – have raised our profile in the region dramatically. Together with the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. political and military footprint in the region is overwhelmingly greater than that of any other country. We have become, at least for the time being and for the foreseeable future, the dominant Persian Gulf power.

We are today a neighbor of Iran, with our forces deployed on its eastern border in Afghanistan, its western border in Iraq, and with the Fifth Fleet and extensive U.S. support facilities located throughout the Persian Gulf. We can no longer regard Iran as a distant and exotic country where our contacts are infrequent or by choice. Our contacts today are nearly daily, in one form or another, and there is no way to avoid them.

The United States and Iran have a number of mutual interests, particularly with regard to Afghanistan, Iraq and the narcotics trade. At the time of the Afghan war, Iran cooperated with us – both publicly and privately – in support of the Northern Alliance and the establishment of the Karzai government. In Iraq, the heavily Shia populated south, where Iran’s influence is greatest, has been relatively quiet. In the recent Iraqi elections, the voter turnout in the Shia south was reportedly 61 to 75 percent, and there were few serious incidents. The reason for this is not because Iran approves of the U.S. occupation but because Iran believed it was in its interest to give the Shia population an opportunity to make its voice heard officially and peacefully for virtually the first time in Iraqi political history.

A large part of the narcotics flowing out of Afghanistan passes through Iran, and over the past several years Iran has lost large numbers of policemen and soldiers in what has become a low-intensity war with the well-funded and heavily armed traffickers moving across the 1145 mile border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since this river of drugs flows on through Turkey and from there into Europe and the rest of the world, this battle, which Iran is not winning, is more than an abstract concern for us as well.

It is, however, our differences, not our occasionally parallel interests, that preoccupy decision-makers in Washington, Tehran, and other regional and world capitals. These differences cluster around four major concerns: Iran’s support for groups that conduct terrorism, its opposition to U.S. and Israeli policies in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Iran’s nuclear program, and its domestic policies – particularly its abuse of civil and human rights.

I have written an article for the Washington Quarterly outlining my understanding of Iran’s history and background on the terrorism issue. I have circulated this article in advance to the Committee, and I would ask, if appropriate, that it be introduced into the record since it would be superfluous for me to repeat it here. I will also do my best to respond to your questions about Iran’s policies toward Israel and the Palestine question, though I do not consider myself an expert on Israeli-Palestinian politics.

But in this brief overview, I would like to focus primarily on human rights and regional security issues, particularly on Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran and Human Rights

I have been a board member (now emeritus) of Human Rights Watch for more than a decade. I also chair the advisory committee of the Middle East and North Africa division of the organization. I am not here as a spokesperson of Human Rights Watch, but my experience with that extraordinary organization has greatly influenced my views about the human rights situation in Iran, and a succession of talented researchers there have helped keep me in touch with developments on the human rights and political rights fronts in that country.

Iran essentially has two governments: an elected government consisting of the president and his cabinet, the 290-member Majles or parliament, and much of the bureaucracy; there is also a government that essentially elects itself, consisting of the supreme leader, the security forces, the government broadcasting media, and the judiciary. In 1997, the Iranian people were given a choice of candidates and chose Mohammad Khatami by a seventy percent majority. Khatami is a cleric, and he supported change from within the system rather than a second revolution, but he also represented a philosophy of more transparency, more rule of law, more association with the international community, and much greater freedom of expression. The hard-line clerics saw him as a threat to their entrenched position of power, and, after they had recovered from their initial shock, began a systematic attack on the institutions and ideas that Khatami had fostered, using thuggish paramilitary organizations and the judicial system to close down meetings and newspapers, and to jail and otherwise intimidate those who disagreed with them.

Reporters Without Borders now regards Iran as “the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East.” In July 2003, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist died of a brain hemorrhage while in the hands of Iranian judicial and prison officials, and the subsequent inconclusive trial convinced no one of its fairness or objectivity. But the trial of the Canadian journalist, which was conducted in the full glare of world publicity, reminds us of the routine nature of abuse against Iranian citizens, many of whose cases pass largely unnoticed by world opinion.

The past six months have provided us with a textbook case of how the system operates. Beginning around September last year, Iranian security forces arrested a series of journalists, NGO activists and contributors to various internet sites that promoted civil society and freedom of expression. They were not formally charged, but a judiciary spokesman said that they were accused of “propaganda against the regime, endangering national security, inciting public unrest, and insulting sacred belief.” In December Human Rights Watch reported that torture had been used to coerce public confessions from those who had been arrested, and that the judiciary was using the threat of long prison sentences and other threats to try to cover up its actions. When some of the detainees testified before a presidential commission that they had been tortured, they received death threats from judicial officials under Tehran chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi.

In the most recent Majles elections, the clerical authorities in the Guardian Council invoked their oversight responsibility to disqualify nearly all of the reformist candidates, thereby rigging the election in favor of the conservative forces. On one hand, this kind of blatant abuse is a reminder of the fact that the preponderance of political and security power is in the hands of the power structure that has dominated Iran since the revolution in 1979. But it is also a reminder that the Iranian people have not been cowed into submission and that they continue to demand their rights. Despite the jailings and torture and public attacks, courageous Iranians continue to speak out. I was particularly impressed by the fact that Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri publicly commented prior to the election in Iraq that “Iraqi clerics should not interfere in the country's state matters. This is not their field of expertise and should be dealt with by experts.” This kind of comment – explicitly criticizing the concept of clerical rule and therefore the present Iranian government – would have been unthinkable in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. In today’s Iran it is risky, but reformists persevere, and ordinary Iranians speak their minds, even to foreign visitors. It is for that kind of courage and perseverance that Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian woman lawyer and human rights activist, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last fall. The West must keep its spotlight on Iran and encourage the true voices of reform struggling to be heard.

The Nuclear Issue

Any analysis of Iran’s nuclear program usually starts with the accusation that a country so rich in oil and gas does not need nuclear power generation. In fact, the economic factors are not so clear. Iran is presently using some fifty percent of its entire oil production for its own internal energy demands. Those demands are certain to increase in the coming years as Iran’s population increases from nearly 70 million today to more than 95 million in 2050, accompanied by vastly expanded electrification of villages. By some calculations, Iran could be a net importer of petroleum within 20 years. For many years, Iran has been actively exploring a number of alternative energy sources, notably including an extensive array of hydroelectric dams, but also wind, solar and geothermal. Iran today is beginning to build modern and highly efficient gas power plants.

As we all recall, Iran began its nuclear development long before the Iranian revolution. I was personally present in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter agreed to sell the shah a U.S. nuclear reactor. The German company Siemens was already well along in its construction of a nuclear power plant at Bushehr in Iran when the revolution intervened in 1979, and then Saddam’s invasion in 1980 led to several bombing attacks on the mothballed facility during the course of the Iran-Iraq war. By all accounts, Ayatollah Khomeini opposed nuclear development, seeing it as one of the shah’s fixations on Western technology. But after Khomeini’s death in 1989, the Iranian government returned to the issue and began seeking companies that could complete the Bushehr plant. Because of U.S. opposition and pressure, Iran could find no takers except Russia, and a Russian-Iranian engineering crew resumed work on Bushehr in 1995.

The key point that needs to be made here, however, is not about economics. Iran is an ancient and extremely proud nation. The pressure from the United States and the West to prevent Iran from having access to virtually all aspects of nuclear technology was regarded as a direct blow to national pride. As a consequence, the nuclear issue is one of the few areas of national policy where the “two nations” rule does not apply. When it comes to Iran’s right to have peaceful nuclear technology, Iranians are almost entirely united, including all flavors of opinion within the country, and extending even to much of the opposition expatriate community in the United States and elsewhere. Virtually any government that one can imagine for Iran – from clerical to reformist to nationalist to monarchist – will insist on the right to pursue nuclear technology.

Both Iran and the United States are among the original signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As you will all recall, the NPT was based on a bargain between states with nuclear weapons and those without. In Articles I and VI, the nuclear “haves” promise that they will not provide nuclear weapons technology to other states and that they will pursue nuclear disarmament. In Articles II and IV, the nuclear “have nots” renounce the pursuit of nuclear weapons, accept safeguards, and are assured of access to peaceful nuclear technology. Iran has always invoked Article IV, which states that it shall be “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination…” and that “All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

Mohammad el-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which manages the safeguards associated with the NPT, has reported that Iran is in compliance with the Treaty, but that there are two specific problems with Iran’s declaration of its nuclear program. First, there is evidence of highly-enriched uranium on some equipment that was never declared during the eighteen years that Iran pursued its nuclear development in secret. Iran says that this HEU is a residue from its country of origin (probably the A.Q. Khan network of Pakistan), and there is some evidence to support this. Second, the IAEA is not satisfied that Iran has fully disclosed its work on development and use of the P2 centrifuge, also probably from Pakistan. That is still under investigation.

Pending the outcome of these investigations, Iran is in compliance with the NPT and is, according to the Treaty, guaranteed the right to develop a full nuclear fuel cycle, including enrichment and reprocessing – a point that Iranian representatives make at every opportunity. They point to the fact that many other countries have exactly the same capabilities that they are developing, some with discrepancies in their own past that are at least as bad as Iran’s, and they are tolerated with little dispute.

The fundamental issue, of course, is not one of legal niceties but rather of trust and confidence. But in our discussions of means of dealing with Iran’s program, we must at least be cognizant that our efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear development are, in effect, an effort to revise drastically the terms of the NPT without ever saying so. One of Iran’s most deeply felt grievances is that, during the Iran-Iraq war, when Saddam Hussein used massive poison gas attacks against Iran – contrary to well-established international conventions – the international community and the United States never raised an objection. Some believe that it was that experience that led Iran to first start its drive toward a nuclear program, convinced that Iran should never again rely on outside assurances for its own defense, but rather should create the capability of defending itself, including the nuclear infrastructure that would permit Iran to move independently to the development of a nuclear weapon if circumstances should require it.

I think there is widespread agreement that, knowing what we know today about how quickly a nation can move from peaceful nuclear development to weaponization, we would never have drafted the Treaty as we did. But even if that is accepted among many of the NPT signatory states, we should at least consider the potential repercussions of a possible total collapse of the NPT regime, which has many extremely useful functions, in our single-minded efforts to solve the Iranian dilemma. There is an NPT review conference coming up in May, and I suspect that this issue will be very much on the minds of many of the members who may be concerned about selective application of its provisions.

What to do?

In considering how to deal with Iran on the nuclear issue, there may be some advantage in starting with the things that work in our favor. Despite all the bad news out of Iran, the reality is that Iran is a signatory of the NPT, it has signed (though not ratified) and permits implementation of the so-called Additional Protocols that permit more extensive inspection by the IAEA. There are inspectors in place as we speak, keeping tabs on the nuclear infrastructure that has been declared, and present to check out any convincing evidence of non-declared activities. Iran is engaged in negotiations with the three European powers on this issue, and has at least for now suspended its enrichment activities. Ayatollah Khamene`i , the most authoritative voice of the Islamic government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces has issued a formal fatwa or Islamic decree: “prohibiting the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.”

None of these facts, of course, provide any guarantee that Iran will not use its nuclear production capacity to shift to development of a nuclear weapon. These facts are, however, quite unusual among states that in the past have decided to develop nuclear weapons. There was never anything of this nature from Israel, South Africa, India or Pakistan, for example. In effect, Iran has established a set of obstacles for itself that are not trivial. Perhaps this is just to mislead the world. If so, it is not working, and one must ask why they bother.

Perhaps these undertakings reflect the reality that Iran wants to have an autonomous capability to move to a nuclear weapon if and when they conclude that their own security requires it. That may not be a reassuring thought, but it does suggest that there is still some time and some negotiating room that could be explored.

At the moment, the EU negotiations are essentially the only game in town, but it is unclear where those will lead. The crucial question is whether the EU can fulfill a genuine bargain from their side. Most observers believe that the EU negotiators can pencil in the terms of a potential deal, but perhaps a deal that will be only marginally acceptable to the United States, if that. It is less clear that they can close the deal.

In my own judgment, the outline of a realistic outcome to the negotiations would involve a combination of a contained, monitored enrichment program and economic and political integration of Iran with the West. The fear of losing the benefits of integration, together with intensive inspections and controls over fissile material, could inhibit the temptations of some in Iran to use the enrichment program to acquire nuclear weapons. That is not a bargain that is likely to be welcomed either by Iran or the United States, but it may be the least worst outcome.

Another interesting, if radical idea, was proposed by Graham Allison, in his new book Nuclear Terrorism. He contends that there should be an international agreement to end all enrichment and reprocessing, except perhaps under the tight control of some centralized and non-political authority. This would have the advantage of being universally applicable, not just applied to a specific set of nations for political reasons, and it would greatly reduce the chance that fissile materials would find their way into the hands of terrorists.

The President’s statement that “We are working with European allies…” on the nuclear issue implies a measure of direct or indirect participation in the negotiating process that goes beyond what we have done to date. In order to get Iran to give up or severely limit part of its nuclear fuel cycle, as President Bush has specified in his State of the Union speech, any workable agreement will have to include some positive benefits for Iran, such as a security guarantee, a regional security architecture in which Iran plays a significant role, approval of Iranian entry into the World Trade Organization, and/or potentially some conditional lifting of U.S. sanctions. If any of these, or perhaps other offers are put on the table, it will require the acquiescence of the United States to make it work.

Both the President and Secretary of State Rice have indicated that this is a problem that can be solved by diplomacy. But if it is to be solved in that manner, the United States will have to play a more direct role than in the past.

Let’s look briefly at the options if negotiations fail. The United States has suggested an ultimatum to Iran to eliminate their enrichment and reprocessing or else face referral to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions. It is not clear that the United States can get enough votes in the IAEA to refer the matter to the Security Council, especially so long as Iran remains in compliance with the terms of the NPT. Neither is it certain that the votes can be mustered in the Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran, especially since China has a vested interest in its energy relationship with Iran, and Russia is Iran’s primary provider of nuclear power equipment and fuel. The Security Council route is at best a lengthy and uncertain process.

The other option that has been widely discussed is a military attack. Its appeal is that it would almost certainly set back any Iranian plans for at least several years. The disadvantages are immense. We cannot be sure that we have complete knowledge of all locations where Iran might build a nuclear weapon – now or in the future. In order to make certain, it would require boots on the ground; and Iran, as many observers have noted, is a country nearly four times the size of Iraq.

We could be fairly confident that in the event of an attack Iran would promptly withdraw from the NPT and that IAEA inspectors would have to leave. It is also likely that Iran, using its own scientific resources and its significant financial resources, would go underground and shed whatever reluctance it may have had about building a nuclear weapon. Again, to stop that process would at some point require intervention on the ground.

There is every reason to believe that Iran would retaliate. Exactly how is impossible to predict, but they would surely start with attempts to mobilize Shia partisans in Iraq to try to turn the Iraqi south into an extension of the insurgency in the Sunni triangle. And to stop such an effort across the very long Iran-Iraq border would require intervention on the ground.

It is not difficult to imagine other types of actions that Iran might take, whether in the Gulf itself, in Afghanistan, in Palestine, in the Persian Gulf oil fields, or elsewhere. Iran cannot defeat the United States in a military contest, but Iran’s size, relative wealth, indigenous military production capacity, contact with other Shia populations and organizations, long coast line on the Gulf, and large, highly nationalistic population give it a range of possible responses that probably could not be countered effectively without an invasion and military occupation.

The Iranian people today are remarkably pro-American, partly as a negative reaction to their distaste for their own government and its anti-American propaganda. In my view, that would end with the first bomb. It is worth recalling that when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, he believed that the clerical regime would collapse at the first blow. In fact, Iran at that stage was in post-revolutionary chaos and the military was still oriented toward the shah, so that belief was not entirely implausible. But the Iranian people rallied around the clerical regime, not necessarily because they loved it but because they were Iranians first and revolutionaries second. In my view, Saddam Hussein may have saved the Iranian revolutionary regime by silencing the opposition, rallying the military, and forcing the clerical leadership to organize itself.

There is a very good chance that a U.S. military attack on Iran would be the one thing that would shut down the internal opposition and give the hard-line government the chance it wants to relinquish any pretext of democracy or concern for human rights. Despite all the efforts of the mullahs, Iran today has a vibrant civil society movement that is likely to make its influence felt in time – though perhaps more time than we would like. That movement and all that it represents in the way of internally-driven regime change, would almost certainly be the first casualty of an American attack.

I thank you for your patience, and I would welcome your questions and comments.


1 For a useful summary of the problem, see William Samii
and Charles Recknagel, “Iran's War on Drugs,” Transnational
Organized Crime, Vol.5, No.2, Summer 1999, pp.153-175

2 “Iran: Confronting Terrorism,” The Washington Quarterly
(published by the Center for Strategic and International
Studies & MIT Press) 26:4 pp. 83-98 (Autumn 2003). This
article was republished by MIT Press in the summer of 2004
in a TWQ readers series book entitled Reshaping Rogue
States: Preemption, Regime Change, and U.S. Policy toward
Iran, Iraq and North Korea (pp.227-245).

3 See Reuters, “Journalist group criticizes Iran press
clampdown,” August 14, 2000.

4 The information here is distilled from a series of
reports by Human Rights Watch over the past several months.
The reports can be found at and this particular
quote is from the report on November 9, 2004, entitled
“Iran: Web Writers Purge Underway: Arrests Designed to
Silence NGO Activists.”

5 Christian Oliver, “Iran cleric says Iraq clergy should
avoid politics,” Reuters News, 20 January 2005

6 Treaty On The Non-Proliferation Of Nuclear Weapons,
signed July 1, 1968, entered into force March 5, 1970. Text
available at

7 Statement of Kamal Kharrazi, the foreign minister of
Iran in conjunction with his appearance at the World
Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Global Viewpoint,
February 14, 2005. Available at:

8 In his State of the Union speech on February 2, 2005,
President Bush stated “We are working with European allies
to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its
uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing,
and end its support for terror.” To the best of my
knowledge, this was the first time that the United States
had publicly identified its demands in these terms.

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U.S. Congress Renews Push to Enforce Iran Sanctions

Link to Bloomberg site.

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. lawmakers are beginning a new push to compel enforcement of a 1996 law imposing sanctions on foreign companies that do business in Iran, a move that might trigger a European Union protest to the World Trade Organization.

Among the companies that would be vulnerable to U.S. sanctions are Siemens AG, Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Total SA of Europe and Inpex Corp. of Japan. European retaliation for such sanctions could mean tariffs across a range of U.S. exports.

Both the Clinton and Bush administrations dodged enforcing the law after the EU threatened to fight sanctions as a violation of WTO rules. The House International Relations committee today opened hearings on a bill sponsored by Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen that would limit the administration's ability to delay enforcement.

The measure reflects growing impatience with Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, said committee chairman Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois. ``It increasingly appears likely that there will be legislative action this year to encourage compliance with treaties that Iran itself has ratified,'' Hyde said in an interview.

Hyde declined to say whether he would support the Ros- Lehtinen bill, one of several measures in Congress offered by both Republicans and Democrats that would step up sanctions against Iran or fund opposition Iranian groups.

Other Republicans who have introduced such legislation are Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

Expanding Law

The U.S. prohibits American companies from investing in Iran under sanctions dating to 1979, when students in Tehran seized the U.S. embassy and held 66 Americans hostage. The U.S. has imposed additional sanctions since then, citing Iran's alleged support of terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Conflicting reports about an explosion today at an Iranian nuclear facility near Dailam today underscored the country's potential as a trouble spot. Iranian state television reported that an unknown aircraft had a fired a missile near Dailam, according to Reuters. A fuel tank may have dropped from an Iranian plane, the Associated Press later reported.

Iran won a pledge from Syria to form a common front to face challenges from other countries, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri. The U.S. has been pressuring both countries, warning Syria against harboring insurgents hostile to the U.S.-backed government in Iraq, and calling on Iran to halt development of nuclear weapons.


The 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act imposed sanctions against companies in other nations that invest in Iran. The Clinton and Bush administrations avoided enforcing it by keeping under indefinite review the cases of foreign companies operating in Iran. The bill offered by Ros-Lehtinen would limit such reviews to 90 days.

Ros-Lehtinen said her bill also would expand the 1996 law to countries -- such as France, Germany, Malaysia and Russia -- that provide funding to companies operating in Iran. In addition, her measure would limit the conditions under which the president could waive penalties, authorize funding to Iranian exile groups, and ban public pension funds in the U.S. from increasing their holdings in any companies with investments in Iran.

`Options are Unappetizing'

Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the International Relations' subcommittee on the Middle East, led today's hearing that included testimony from two of the former U.S. hostages in Iran and a relative of a U.S. Marine killed in a 1983 bombing in Beirut, which the U.S. blamed on Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad.

The subcommittee's top-ranking Democrat, Representative Gary Ackerman of New York, said he agreed that the Bush administration must confront Iran, even as he acknowledged the difficulty.

``I'll be the first to admit our policy options for Iran are unappetizing at best,'' Ackerman said. But, he said, ``Iran needs to become urgent for the administration before it will become urgent for anyone else.''

The Bush administration has taken no position on the Ros- Lehtinen measure, said Carol Thompson, a spokeswoman for the economic affairs bureau of the U.S. State Department.

The EU will seek WTO protection if the U.S. Congress passes such a bill, said Anthony Gooch, spokesman for the European Commission in Washington. The EU is concentrating on seeking an agreement on nuclear weapons with Iran that promises increased trade and cooperation, Gooch said.

`Trigger a Trade War'

Enforcement and expansion of the law's Iran provisions would trigger ``a trade war with Europe,'' said William Reinsch, president of the Washington-based National Foreign Trade Council, an association of U.S. exporters whose 350 members include Exxon Mobil Corp. and ChevronTexaco Corp. The EU will ``take them to the WTO and win,'' he said.

The current law, as it applies to Iran, requires the president to impose any two on a list of six sanctions, such as restrictions on exports and loans by U.S. banks, against foreign companies that invest more than $20 million in Iran.

An estimated 220 publicly traded companies have ties to Iran, conducting ``tens of billions'' of dollars in business, according to Conflict Securities Advisory Group Inc., a Washington-based consultant.

U.S. companies can operate in Iran through foreign subsidiaries. General Electric Co. and Halliburton Co., which have such units, both announced in recent months that they are withdrawing from Iran, as did BP Plc of Britain. Dusseldorf, Germany-based ThyssenKrupp AG, Europe's fourth-biggest steelmaker, has removed a representative of Iran from its supervisory board, citing U.S. pressure, The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 28.

AIPAC'S Priority

Mandating enforcement of the 1996 law is a top priority this year for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a Washington-based lobbying group, spokesman Josh Block said.

``We are confident that there is significant concern with Iran's behavior in Congress and they will pass the strengthened version of this legislation,'' Block said. This is ``one tangible way'' of showing the concern.

The Bush administration's declining to take a position on the bill may help its chances of passage, said the National Trade Council's Reinsch. He cited a sanctions bill against Syria that won approval last year only after Secretary of State Colin Powell withdrew his opposition.

If the House passes the measure, the more-reluctant Senate would face pressure to do likewise, Reinsch said. ``The problem with these bills is if they come to a vote, people are afraid to vote against them for fear of being called pro-Iranian, even if they agree it's a bad bill,'' he said.

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Amnesty International Appeals on behalf of Nasser Zarafshan

AI Index: MDE 13/007/2005

15 February 2005

Further Information on EXTRA 65/02 (MDE 13/012/2002, 16 August 2002)
Medical concern

IRAN Nasser Zarafshan (m) aged 59, Human rights defender and lawyer

Human rights defender and lawyer Nasser Zarafshan is being refused extended leave from Evin prison by the Tehran prosecutor, despite the fact that he requires medical treatment for a long standing kidney problem.

Amnesty International is concerned that his health could further deteriorate.

Both the prison authorities and Nasser Zarafshan's doctor are in support of him receiving treatment, and have granted him 24 hour leave from the prison. However, Said Mortazavi, the Tehran Prosecutor, is refusing to give his permission in contravention of Article 291 of the Iranian Criminal Procedure Code.

On 2 December 2004 Nasser Zarafshan’s health deteriorated after a severe kidney inflammation and he was hospitalized in Evin Prison. On 6 December his lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, reportedly asked for him to be hospitalized outside the prison. Nasser Zarafshan has been allowed out on three occasions, but has never been granted enough time to seek adequate medical treatment.

On 19 March 2002, a military court sentenced Nasser Zarafshan to five years' imprisonment and 70 lashes following his conviction in a secret trial before a military court. He was given two years for publicizing state information, three years for possession of firearms and 70 lashes for illegally possessing alcohol. He was also banned from practising law, an act which only a disciplinary court for lawyers is legally permitted to undertake. On 16 July 2002 Tehran's appeals court upheld his sentence and he began his five years imprisonment on 7 August 2002. The Supreme Court reportedly upheld his sentence on 25 November 2003.

Nasser Zarafshan had been charged in connection with disseminating "confidential information" relating to a controversial and
widely publicised legal case involving his representation of the family
of political activists who were murdered in 1998 as part of what is known
in Iran as the "serial murders" case. He was also charged with having weapons and alcohol at his law firm following a search of his office carried out while he was in detention and without the presence of his lawyer.

Nasser Zarafshan featured in the 2004 Greeting Cards campaign and has told Amnesty International that he was "astonished" to receive these cards, and that "they had a big effect; they create hope and courage." He added "one cannot measure the effect that the cards had on the authorities", and that the prison administration is more or less "on his side".

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible,
in Persian, English, French or your own language:
- expressing concern for the health Nasser Zarafshan, who reportedly suffers from a long standing kidney problem;
- urging the judicial authorities to grant him immediate and unconditional access to the medical treatment that he needs;
- stating that Amnesty International considers Nasser Zarafshan to be a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for the peaceful expression of his beliefs;
- expressing concern that Nasser Zarafshan was convicted after an unfair trial and calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic
Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 649 5880 (please mark ‘For the attention of the
Office of His Excellency, Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei, Qom)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: (mark 'Please forward to HE
Ayatollah Shahroudi')
Salutation: Your Excellency

His Excellency Hojjatoleslam val Moslemin Sayed Mohammad Khatami
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic
Republic of Iran
E-mail: (please resend your message if it does
not get through the first time)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Speaker of Parliament
Gholamali Haddad Adel
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami (Parliament)
Imam Khomeini Avenue,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 646 1746
Salutation: Dear Sir

Human Rights Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Human Rights Office
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Avenue
Tehran Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: (please ask for the message to be
forwarded to the Human Rights Department)
Fax: + 98 21 390 1999
Salutation: Dear Sir

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 March 2005
Internet communications are not secure and therefore Amnesty International
Ltd does not accept legal responsibility for the contents of this message. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose or rely on the information in this e-mail.

Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Amnesty International Ltd unless specifically stated. Electronic communications including email might be monitored by Amnesty International Ltd. for operational or business reasons.

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Monday, February 14, 2005


Kriegsziel Iran: Die geheimen Pläne der US-Regierung

George W. Bush, gestern Nacht, Auftritt zum Antritt seiner zweiten Amtszeit. Ein Siegertyp. Seine Botschaft: Amerika werde die Demokratie in alle Welt tragen. "Victory" auch im Iran.

George W. Bush, US-Präsident (Übersetzung MONITOR): "Der Iran bleibt der wichtigste staatliche Unterstützer von Terror. Er strebt nach Atomwaffen. Dem iranischen Volk sage ich heute Abend, wenn ihr für eure eigene Freiheit eintretet, steht Amerika an eurer Seite."

Die Option Militärschlag, sie liegt weiterhin auf dem Tisch und sie wird vorbereitet. Und dabei spielen diese Kämpfer eine wichtige Rolle. Sie nennen sich iranische Volksmujahedin, MEK. Todfeinde der Mullahs. In ihren Videos preisen sie ihre Schlagkraft. Tausende von Kämpfern für einen neuen Iran. Doch für das US-Außenministerium wie auch für die EU gelten sie als terroristische Vereinigung auf einer Stufe mit Al Quaida. Die MEK, heute der geheime Bündnispartner der USA, Ex Agent McGovern ist sich da sicher....

Click here for complete report!:

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Saturday, February 12, 2005


The Real Reasons Why Iran is the Next Target: The Emerging Euro-denominated International Oil Marker

By William Clark

Link to the original site!

The Iranians are about to commit an "offense" far greater than Saddam Hussein's conversion to the euro of Iraq?s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Numerous articles have revealed Pentagon planning for operations against Iran as early as 2005. While the publicly stated reasons will be over Iran's nuclear ambitions, there are unspoken macroeconomic drivers explaining the Real Reasons regarding the 2nd stage of petrodollar warfare - Iran's upcoming euro-based oil Bourse.

In 2005-2006, The Tehran government has a developed a plan to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades - using a euro-denominated international oil-trading mechanism. This means that without some form of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project for U.S. global domination, Tehran's objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on U.S. dollar supremacy in the international oil market

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes...known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

- James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Madison?s words of wisdom should be carefully considered by the American people and world community. The rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground in Iraq portends an even direr situation for American soldiers and the People of the world community - should the Bush administration pursue their strategy regarding Iran. Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran?s nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian "petroeuro system" for oil trade. Similar to the Iraq war, upcoming operations against Iran relate to the macroeconomics of the `petrodollar recycling? and the unpublicized but real challenge to U.S. dollar supremacy from the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency.

It is now obvious the invasion of Iraq had less to do with any threat from Saddam?s long-gone WMD program and certainly less to do to do with fighting International terrorism than it has to do with gaining control over Iraq?s hydrocarbon reserves and in doing so maintaining the U.S. dollar as the monopoly currency for the critical international oil market. Throughout 2004 statements by former administration insiders revealed that the Bush/Cheney administration entered into office with the intention of toppling Saddam Hussein. Indeed, the neoconservative strategy of installing a pro-U.S. government in Baghdad along with multiple U.S. military bases was partly designed to thwart further momentum within OPEC towards a "petroeuro." However, subsequent events show this strategy to be fundamentally flawed, with Iran moving forward towards a petroeuro system for international oil trades, while Russia discusses this option.

Candidly stated, ?Operation Iraqi Freedom? was a war designed to install a pro-U.S. puppet in Iraq, establish multiple U.S military bases before the onset of Peak Oil, and to reconvert Iraq back to petrodollars while hoping to thwart further OPEC momentum towards the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency. [1] In 2003 the global community witnessed a combination of petrodollar warfare and oil depletion warfare. The majority of the world?s governments ? especially the E.U., Russia and China - were not amused ? and neither are the U.S. soldiers who are currently stationed in Iraq.

Indeed, the author?s original pre-war hypothesis was validated shortly after the war in a Financial Times article dated June 5th, 2003, which confirmed Iraqi oil sales returning to the international markets were once again denominated in US dollars, not euros. Not surprisingly, this detail was never mentioned in the five US major media conglomerates who appear to censor this type of information, but confirmation of this vital fact provides insight into one of the crucial - yet overlooked - rationales for 2003 the Iraq war.

"The tender, for which bids are due by June 10, switches the transaction back to dollars -- the international currency of oil sales - despite the greenback's recent fall in value. Saddam Hussein in 2000 insisted Iraq's oil be sold for euros, a political move, but one that improved Iraq's recent earnings thanks to the rise in the value of the euro against the dollar." [2]

Unfortunately, it has become clear that yet another manufactured war, or some type of ill-advised covert operation is inevitable under President George W. Bush, should he win the 2004 Presidential Election. Numerous news reports over the past several months have revealed that the neoconservatives are quietly - but actively - planning for the second petrodollar war, this time against Iran.

"Deep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria and Iran. The Defense Department unit responsible for military planning for the two troublesome countries is "busier than ever," an administration official says. Some Bush advisers characterize the work as merely an effort to revise routine plans the Pentagon maintains for all contingencies in light of the Iraq war. More skittish bureaucrats say the updates are accompanied by a revived campaign by administration conservatives and neocons for more hard-line U.S. policies toward the countries"?"Even hard-liners acknowledge that given the U.S. military commitment in Iraq, a U.S. attack on either country would be an unlikely last resort; covert action of some kind is the favored route for Washington hard-liners who want regime change in Damascus and Tehran."

"?administration hawks are pinning their hopes on regime change in Tehran - by covert means, preferably, but by force of arms if necessary. Papers on the idea have circulated inside the administration, mostly labeled "draft" or "working draft" to evade congressional subpoena powers and the Freedom of Information Act. Informed sources say the memos echo the administration's abortive Iraq strategy: oust the existing regime, swiftly install a pro-U.S. government in its place (extracting the new regime's promise to renounce any nuclear ambitions) and get out. This daredevil scheme horrifies U.S. military leaders, and there's no evidence that it has won any backers at the cabinet level." [3]

To date, one of the more difficult technical obstacles concerning a euro-based oil transaction trading system is the lack of a euro-denominated oil pricing standard, or oil ?marker? as it is referred to in the industry. The three current oil markers are U.S. dollar denominated, which include the West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), Norway Brent crude, and the UAE Dubai crude. However, since the spring of 2003, Iran has required payments in the euro currency for its European and Asian/ACU exports - although the oil pricing for trades are still denominated in the dollar. [4]

Therefore, a potentially significant news development was reported in June 2004 announcing Iran?s intentions to create of an Iranian oil Bourse. (The word "bourse" refers to a stock exchange for securities trading, and is derived from the French stock exchange in Paris, the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs.) This announcement portended competition would arise between the Iranian oil bourse and London?s International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), as well as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). It should be noted that both the IPE and NYMEX are owned by U.S. corporations.

The macroeconomic implications of a successful Iranian Bourse are noteworthy. Considering that Iran has switched to the euro for its oil payments from E.U. and ACU customers, it would be logical to assume the proposed Iranian Bourse will usher in a fourth crude oil marker ? denominated in the euro currency. Such a development would remove the main technical obstacle for a broad-based petroeuro system for international oil trades. From a purely economic and monetary perspective, a petroeuro system is a logical development given that the European Union imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the U.S., and the E.U. accounts for 45% of imports into the Middle East (2002 data).

Acknowledging that many of the oil contracts for Iran and Saudi Arabia are linked to the United Kingdom?s Brent crude marker, the Iranian bourse could create a significant shift in the flow of international commerce into the Middle East. If Iran?s bourse becomes a successful alternative for oil trades, it would challenge the hegemony currently enjoyed by the financial centers in both London (IPE) and New York (NYMEX), a factor not overlooked in the following article:

"Iran is to launch an oil trading market for Middle East and OPEC producers that could threaten the supremacy of London's International Petroleum Exchange."

"?He [Mr. Asemipour] played down the dangers that the new exchange could eventually pose for the IPE or Nymex, saying he hoped they might be able to cooperate in some way."

"?Some industry experts have warned the Iranians and other OPEC producers that western exchanges are controlled by big financial and oil corporations, which have a vested interest in market volatility.

The IPE, bought in 2001 by a consortium that includes BP, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, was unwilling to discuss the Iranian move yesterday. "We would not have any comment to make on it at this stage," said an IPE spokeswoman. "[5]

It is unclear at the time of writing, if this project will be successful, or could it prompt overt or covert U.S. interventions - thereby signaling the second phase of petrodollar warfare in the Middle East. News articles in June 2004 revealed the discredited neoconservative sycophant Ahmed Chalabi may have revealed his knowledge to Iran regarding U.S. military planning for operations against that nation.

"The reason for the US breakup with Ahmed Chalabi, the Shiite Iraqi politician, could be his leak of Pentagon plans to invade Iran before Christmas 2005, but the American government has not changed its objective, and the attack could happen earlier if president George W. Bush is re-elected, or later if John Kerry is sworn in."

"?.Diplomats said Chalabi was alerted to the Pentagon plans and in the process of trying to learn more to tell the Iranians, he invited suspicions of US officials, who subsequently got the Iraqi police to raid the compound of his Iraqi National Congress on 20 May 2004, leading to a final break up of relations."

"While the US is uncertain how much of the attack plans were leaked to Iran, it could change some of the invasion tactics, but the broad parameters would be kept intact." [6]

Regardless of the potential U.S. response to an Iranian petroeuro system, the emergence of an oil exchange market in the Middle East is not entirely surprising given the domestic peaking and decline of oil exports in the U.S. and U.K, in comparison to the remaining oil reserves in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. According to Mohammad Javad Asemipour, an advisor to Iran?s oil ministry and the individual responsible for this project, this new oil exchange is scheduled to begin oil trading in March 2005.

"Asemipour said the platform should be trading crude, natural gas and petrochemicals by the start of the new Iranian year, which falls on March 21, 2005.

He said other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries - Iran is the producer group's second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia - as well as oil producers from the Caspian region would eventually participate in the exchange." [7]

(Note: the most recent Iranian news report from October 5, 2004 stated: "Iran's oil bourse will start trading by early 2006" which suggests a delay from the original March 21, 2005 target date). [8] Additionally, according to the following report, Saudi investors may be interested in participating in the Iranian oil exchange market, further illustrating why petrodollar hegemony is becoming unsustainable.

"Chris Cook, who previously worked for the IPE and now offers consultancy services to markets through Partnerships Consulting LLP in London, commented: "Post-9/11, there has also been an interest in the project from the Saudis, who weren't interested in participating before."

"Others familiar with Iran's economy said since 9/11, Saudi Arabian investors are opting to invest in Iran rather than traditional western markets as the kingdom's relations with the U.S. have weakened Iran's oil ministry has made no secret of its eagerness to attract much needed foreign investment in its energy sector and broaden its choice of oil buyers."

"?Along with several other members of OPEC, Iranian oil officials believe crude trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the IPE is controlled by the oil majors and big financial companies, who benefit from market volatility."[9]

One of the Federal Reserve?s nightmares may begin to unfold in 2005 or 2006, when it appears international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for $50 dollars on the NYMEX and IPE - or purchase a barrel of oil for ?37 - ?40 euros via the Iranian Bourse. This assumes the euro maintains its current 20-25% appreciated value relative to the dollar - and assumes that some sort of "intervention" is not undertaken against Iran. The upcoming bourse will introduce petrodollar versus petroeuro currency hedging, and fundamentally new dynamics to the biggest market in the world - global oil and gas trades

During an important speech in April 2002, Mr. Javad Yarjani, an OPEC executive, described three pivotal events that would facilitate an OPEC transition to euros. [10] He stated this would be based on (1) if and when Norway's Brent crude is re-dominated in euros, (2) if and when the U.K. adopts the euro, and (3) whether or not the euro gains parity valuation relative to the dollar, and the EU?s proposed expansion plans were successful. (Note: Both of the later two criteria have transpired: the euro?s valuation has been above the dollar since late 2002, and the euro-based E.U. enlarged in May 2004 from 12 to 22 countries). In the meantime, the United Kingdom remains uncomfortably juxtaposed between the financial interests of the U.S. banking nexus (New York/Washington) and the E.U. financial centers (Paris/Frankfurt).

The implementation of the proposed Iranian oil Bourse (exchange) in 2005/2006 ? if successful in utilizing the euro as its oil transaction currency standard ? essentially negates the necessity of the previous two criteria as described by Mr. Yarjani regarding the solidification of a "petroeuro" system for international oil trades. [10] It should also be noted that during 2003-2004 Russia and China have both increased their central bank holdings of the euro currency, which appears to be a coordinated move to facilitate the anticipated ascendance of the euro as a second World Reserve currency. [11] [12] In the meantime, the United Kingdom is uncomfortable juxtaposed between the financial interests of the U.S. (New York/Washington) banking nexus and that of the E.U. financial center (Paris/Frankfurt).

The immediate question for Americans? Will the neoconservatives attempt to intervene covertly and/or overtly in Iran during 2005 in an effort to prevent the formation of a euro-denominated crude oil pricing mechanism? Commentators in India are quite correct in their assessment that a U.S. intervention in Iran is likely to prove disastrous for the United States, making matters much worse regarding international terrorism, not to the mention potential effects on the U.S. economy.

"The giving up on the terror war while Iran invasion plans are drawn up makes no sense, especially since the previous invasion and current occupation of Iraq has further fuelled Al-Qaeda terrorism after 9/11."

"?It is obvious that sucked into Iraq, the US has limited military manpower left to combat the Al-Qaeda elsewhere in the Middle East and South Central Asia,"?"and NATO is so seriously cross with America that it hesitates to provides troops in Iraq, and no other country is willing to bail out America outside its immediate allies like Britain, Italy, Australia and Japan."

"?.If it [U.S.] intervenes again, it is absolutely certain it will not be able to improve the situation ? Iraq shows America has not the depth or patience to create a new civil society ? and will only make matters worse."

"There is a better way, as the constructive engagement of Libya?s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has shown?."Iran is obviously a more complex case than Libya, because power resides in the clergy, and Iran has not been entirely transparent about its nuclear programme, but the sensible way is to take it gently, and nudge it to moderation. Regime change will only worsen global Islamist terror, and in any case, Saudi Arabia is a fitter case for democratic intervention, if at all." [13]

It is abundantly clear that a 2nd Bush term will bring a confrontation and possible war with Iran during 2005. Colin Powell as the Secretary of the State, has moderated neoconservative military designs regarding Iran, but Powell has stated that he will be leaving at the end of Bush?s first term. Of course if John Kerry wins in November, he might pursue a similar military strategy. However, it is my opinion that Kerry is more likely to pursue multilateral negotiations regarding the Iranian issues.

Clearly, there are numerous risks regarding neoconservative strategy towards Iran. First, unlike Iraq, Iran has a robust military capability. Secondly, a repeat of any "Shock and Awe" tactics is not advisable given that Iran has installed sophisticated anti-ship missiles on the Island of Abu Musa, and therefore controls the critical Strait of Hormuz. [14] In the case of a U.S. attack, a shut down of the Strait of Hormuz ? where all of the Persian Gulf bound oil tankers must pass ? could easily trigger a market panic with oil prices skyrocketing to $100 per barrel or more. World oil production is now flat out, and a major interruption would escalate oil prices to a level that would set off a global Depression. Why are the neoconservatives willing to takes such risks? Simply stated - their goal is U.S. global domination.

A successful Iranian bourse would solidify the petroeuro as an alternative oil transaction currency, and thereby end the petrodollar's hegemonic status as the monopoly oil currency. Therefore, a graduated approach is needed to avoid precipitous U.S. economic dislocations. Multilateral compromise with the EU and OPEC regarding oil currency is certainly preferable to an ?Operation Iranian Freedom,? or perhaps an attempted CIA-sponsored repeat of the 1953 Iranian coup ? operation "Ajax" part II. [15] Indeed, there are very good reasons for U.S. military leaders to be "horrified" at the thought of a second Bush term in which Cheney and the neoconservatives would be unrestrained in their tragic pursuit of U.S. global domination.

"NEWSWEEK has learned that the CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, "The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating." [16]

Despite the impressive power of the U.S. military and the ability of our intelligence agencies to facilitate "interventions," it would be perilous and possibly ruinous for the U.S to intervene in Iran given the dire situation in Iraq. The Monterey Institute of International Studies provided an extensive analysis of the possible consequences of a preemptive attack on Iran?s nuclear facilities and warned of the following:

"Considering the extensive financial and national policy investment Iran has committed to its nuclear projects, it is almost certain that an attack by Israel or the United States would result in immediate retaliation. A likely scenario includes an immediate Iranian missile counterattack on Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf, followed by a very serious effort to destabilize Iraq and foment all-out confrontation between the United States and Iraq's Shi'i majority. Iran could also opt to destabilize Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states with a significant Shi'i population, and induce Lebanese Hizbullah to launch a series of rocket attacks on Northern Israel."

"?An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities?could have various adverse effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the world. Most important, in the absence of evidence of an Iranian illegal nuclear program, an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by the U.S. or Israel would be likely to strengthen Iran's international stature and reduce the threat of international sanctions against Iran. Such an event is more likely to embolden and expand Iran's nuclear aspirations and capabilities in the long term"?"one thing is for certain, it would not be just another Osirak. " [17]


Regardless of whatever choice the U.S. electorate makes in the upcoming Presidential Election a military expedition may still go ahead.

This essay was written out of my own patriotic duty in an effort to inform Americans of the challenges that lie ahead. On November 25, 2004, the issues involving Iran's nuclear program will be addressed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and possibly referred to the U.N. Security Council if the results are unsatisfactory. Regardless of the IAEA findings, it appears increasingly likely the U.S. will use the specter of nuclear weapon proliferation as a pretext for an intervention, similar to the fears invoked in the previous WMD campaign regarding Iraq.

Pentagon sources confirm the Bush administration could undertake a desperate military strategy to thwart Iran?s nuclear ambitions while simultaneously attempting to prevent the Iranian oil Bourse from initiating a euro-based system for oil trades. The later would require forced "regime change" and the U.S. occupation of Iran. Obviously this would require a military draft. Objectively speaking, the post-war debacle in Iraq has clearly shown that such Imperial policies will be a catastrophic failure. Alternatively, perhaps a more enlightened U.S. administration could undertake multilateral negotiations with the EU and OPEC regarding a dual oil-currency system, in conjunction with global monetary reform. Either way, U.S. policy makers will soon face two difficult choices: monetary compromise or continued petrodollar warfare.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

- Abraham Lincoln

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights."

- Thomas Jefferson



[1] "Revisited - The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth," January 2003 (updated January 2004)

[2] Hoyos, Carol & Morrison, Kevin, "Iraq returns to the international oil market," Financial Times, June 5, 2003

[3] "War-Gaming the Mullahs: The U.S. weighs the price of a pre-emptive strike," Newsweek, September 27 issue, 2004.

[4] Shivkumar, C., "Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms," The Hindu Business Line (June 16, 2003).

[5] Macalister, Terry, "Iran takes on west's control of oil trading," The [UK] Guardian, June 16, 2004,3604,1239644,00.html

[6] "US to invade Iran before 2005 Christmas," News Insight: Public Affairs Magazine, June 9, 2004

[7] "Iran Eyes Deal on Oil Bourse; IPE Chairman Visits Tehran," (July 8, 2004)

[8] "Iran's oil bourse expects to start by early 2006," Reuters, October 5, 2004

[9] "Iran Eyes Deal on Oil Bourse, IPE Chairman Visits Tehran," ibid.

[10] "The Choice of Currency for the Denomination of the Oil Bill," Speech given by Javad Yarjani, Head of OPEC's Petroleum Market Analysis Dept, on The International Role of the Euro (Invited by the Spanish Minister of Economic Affairs during Spain's Presidency of the EU) (April 14, 2002, Oviedo, Spain)

[11] Russia shifts to euro as foreign currency reserves soar," AFP, June 9, 2003

[12] "China to diversify foreign exchange reserves," China Business Weekly, May 8, 2004

[13] "Terror & regime change: Any US invasion of Iran will have terrible consequences," News Insight: Public Affairs Magazine, June 11, 2004

[14] Analysis of Abu Musa Island,

[15] J.W. Smith, "Destabilizing a Newly-Free Iran," The Institute for Economic Democracy, 2003

[16] "War-Gaming the Mullahs: The U.S. weighs the price of a pre-emptive strike," ibid.

[17] Salama, Sammy and Ruster, Karen,"A Preemptive Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities: Possible Consequences," Monterry Institute of International Studies, August 12, 2004 (updated September 9, 2004)

[18] Philips, Peter, "Censored 2004," Project Censored, Seven Stories Press, (2003)

Story #19: U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq

William Clark is the author of an award-winning essay published online in early 2003 entitled: 'The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth.? , also published by Global Research at This essay received a 2003 ?Project Censored? award, and was published in the book, Censored 2004) [18] This pre-war essay hypothesized that Saddam sealed his fate when he announced in September 2000 that Iraq was no longer going to accept dollars for oil being sold under the UN?s oil-for-food program, and switch to the euro as Iraq?s oil export transaction currency.

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CIA Operation in Iran Failed When Spies Were Exposed

Link to Los Angeles Times.

By Greg Miller
Times Staff Writer

February 12, 2005

WASHINGTON — Dozens of CIA informants in Iran were executed or imprisoned in the late 1980s or early 1990s after their secret communications with the agency were uncovered by the government, according to former CIA officials who discussed the episode after aspects of it were disclosed during a recent congressional hearing.

As many as 50 Iranian citizens on the CIA's payroll were "rolled up" in the failed operation, said the former officials, who described the events as a major setback in spying on a regime that remains one of the most difficult targets for U.S. intelligence.

The disclosures underscore the stakes confronting the CIA and its informants as the United States is under pressure to produce better intelligence on Iran and especially its nuclear activities. The Bush administration has indicated that preventing Iran from obtaining an atomic weapon will be a priority of the president's second term.

Like Iraq before the U.S. invasion in 2003, Iran is regarded as a "denied" territory by U.S. intelligence, meaning that the CIA has no official station inside the country and is largely dependent on recruiting sources outside the Islamic Republic's borders.

Details of the setback were first outlined Feb. 2 by former Pentagon advisor Richard N. Perle in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. During a hearing on security threats, Perle was critical of U.S. intelligence capabilities and cited the crackdown on American sources in Iran as an example of the failures that have beset U.S. espionage in the Mideast.

Perle referred to the "terrible setback that we suffered in Iran a few years ago when in a display of unbelievable, careless management we put pressure on agents operating in Iran to report with greater frequency and didn't provide improved communications."

When the CIA's sources stepped up their reporting, "the Iranian intelligence authorities quickly saw the surge in traffic and, as I understand it, virtually our entire network in Iran was wiped out."

Former CIA officials familiar with the matter confirmed portions of Perle's account and provided additional details. But they said the incident occurred in the late 1980s or early 1990s, not "a few years ago," as Perle suggested, and that it was not clear that the informants were exposed because of any pressure from the agency to file reports more frequently.

The CIA declined to comment, but a U.S. intelligence official rejected Perle's criticism of the agency's record in the Mideast as ill-informed and outdated.

"Intelligence methods evolve constantly," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Trying to use these things from the past to make assertions about the present is in this case ill-advised."

In a phone interview, Perle acknowledged that he had "a poor sense of time" concerning the events he described and was uncertain about details.

"I don't recall the details, or the mechanism by which the [Iranian agents] were communicating," Perle said. "What I was told was that our entire network was destroyed" and that as many as 40 of the informants were executed.

According to a former CIA official who served in the Mideast at the time, the Iranian informants were part of a network of spies that was run by CIA officers based at the agency's station in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Iranian spies communicated with the agency "via secret writing," the former official said, referring to messages printed in invisible ink on the backs of letters that were mailed out of the country. The spies received messages in the same fashion from a CIA officer in Frankfurt.

It is not clear what aroused the Iranian government's suspicion, "but all of the letters went to a handful of addresses in Germany," the former CIA official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once they had one agent and they recovered the letters that had come in to him and found out where he was sending his letters out, they quickly identified others who fit that profile," the former official said.

As many as 50 spies were exposed. They included members of Iran's military and were providing information on an array of activities, the former official said.

Iran was a major intelligence priority for the United States at the time. During the 1980s, the U.S. was supporting Iraq in its war against Iran. The regime in Tehran, the capital, had also launched its clandestine nuclear program by then, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog group.

The CIA's Iran operation in Frankfurt was disbanded in the mid-1990s, and portions of it were relocated to Los Angeles, where the CIA still seeks to capitalize on Southern California's large Iranian population by cultivating sources who travel to the country or have relatives there.

Although the spies in Iran were using an old form of secret communication, even high-technology systems have proved vulnerable. During the 2003 war in Iraq, the CIA received regular reports from 87 informants whom it had equipped with satellite telephones, according to an account of the operation in journalist Bob Woodward's recent book, "Plan of Attack."

Calls from sources close to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein provided the intelligence that led to the first strike of the war, when the United States launched missiles at the Dora Farm compound in Baghdad because of reports that Hussein and his sons were staying the night there. Weeks later, it became clear that Hussein and his sons had survived the strike, and the still-standing Iraqi government banned the use of satellite phones.

Perle, who was an assistant Defense secretary in the Reagan administration and was a Pentagon advisor who advocated the invasion of Iraq, is a longtime critic of the CIA. He said he mentioned the Iranian operation to highlight how the agency had struggled in the region.

"I think we're in very bad shape in Iran," Perle said during his testimony.

He also complained that CIA leaders had not been held accountable and noted that the official who had been in charge of the exposed Iran operation was later promoted.

Perle declined to name the individual, but other sources said it was Stephen Richter, who was appointed head of the agency's Near East division in 1994. He has since retired and could not be reached for comment.

Several senior CIA officials who served under George J. Tenet, who stepped down as the agency's director last year, said they were unaware of the matter. One reason could be the length of time that has elapsed since the intelligence breakdown in Iran.

In a recent unclassified report, the CIA says it believes Iran is "vigorously" pursuing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and that its civilian nuclear development program is a cover for efforts to build a bomb. Iran has repeatedly denied the accusation.

Such assessments also are being greeted with some skepticism abroad and in the United States, largely because the CIA's prewar estimates of Iraqi stockpiles of banned weapons have been proved wrong.

Iran's discovery of CIA informants was reminiscent of the exposure of U.S. agents in Iraq a decade ago. In Iraq, hundreds of U.S. informants and sympathizers are believed to have been executed by Hussein, many of them after a CIA-backed coup plan unraveled in the mid-'90s.

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently disclosed that it was launching a "preemptive" review of assessments on Iran to avoid any repetition of the intelligence failures in Iraq.

Inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have exposed a long-hidden Iranian program to produce fissile material that could be used for nuclear weapons. But IAEA officials believe that Tehran has frozen the program. Iran maintains that its nuclear activities are designed to produce energy, not an arsenal.

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Friday, February 11, 2005


U.S. Policy Options for Iran (Iran Policy Committee - Feb 2005)

Executive Summary

Iran poses six threats to American interests and ideals:
• Drive to acquire nuclear weapons
• Continuing support for and involvement with terrorist networks
• Publicly-stated opposition to the Arab-Israel peace process
• Disruptive role in Iraq
• Expansionist radical ideology
• Denial of basic human rights to its own population

With respect to these threats from Iran, Washington circles largely divide between two alternatives—those who favor engagement with and those who support military strikes against the regime. Few favor regime change as an end in itself.

While the Bush administration does not yet explicitly call for changing the regime, it advocates working with the Iranian people as opposed to the unelected theocracy in Tehran, which is an implicit policy of regime change.

By calling for change in Tehran based on the Iranian opposition instead of the U.S. military, the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) highlights a third alternative: Keep open diplomatic and military options, while providing a central role for the Iranian opposition to facilitate regime change.

Click here for the complete report!

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# posted by @ 3:39 PM  0 comments


Petition fuer Zahra Kamali

"''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''" , "''"

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
Ich unterstuetze das Begehren der Petition fuer Zahra Kamali (Eingabenummer 01992/11/15).

Eine Abschiebung von Zahra Kameli in den Iran waere lebensbedrohlich. Erst am 20.12.2004, also erst vor zwei Monaten, hat die Vollversammlung der Vereinten Nationen in einer Resolution ihre Besorgnis ueber die Unterdrueckung von religioesen Minderheiten im Iran geaeussert und massiv die Folterungen, Steinigungen und die systematische Diskriminierung von Frauen im Iran kritisiert. In einer Stellungnahme vom 2.2.2005 zur Verfolgungsbedrohung fuer Zahra Kameli bestaetigt Terre des Femmes diese Einschaetzung.

Der Petitionsausschuss sowie das Innenministerium haben die Moeglichkeit, die Abschiebung Zahras auszusetzen und ein Bleiberecht zu gewaehren.
Ich bitte sie dringlich von Ihren Moeglichkeiten Gebrauch zu machen.

Mit freundlichen Gruessen,

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# posted by @ 11:36 AM  0 comments


Despite Short-Term Reversals, Iranian Women's Status Likely To Improve.

A United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCHR) rapporteur recently concluded a visit to Iran, and at her final news conference she spoke out against the shortcomings of that country's legal system in terms of gender issues.

The next few years are likely to prove challenging for those who want to change the legal system, but it appears that gender politics are in transition and improvements are likely to emerge in the long run.

The UNHCHR's rapporteur on violence against women, Yakin Erturk, urged the Iranian government on 6 February to approve the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Radio Farda reported.

Click here for complete report!

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005


The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran(Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi)



DURING her tour of Europe, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given assurances that a military attack by the United States on Iran "is simply not on the agenda at this point." But notwithstanding Ms. Rice's disavowal, recent statements by the Bush administration, starting with President Bush's State of the Union address and Vice President Dick Cheney's comments about a possible Israeli military attack on Iran, are reminiscent of the rhetoric in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. And Ms. Rice herself made clear that "the Iranian regime's human rights behavior and its behavior toward its own population is something to be loathed."

American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause.

The situation for human rights in Iran is far from ideal. Security forces harass, imprison and even torture human rights defenders and civil society activists. The authorities attack journalists and writers for expressing their opinions and regularly shut down newspapers. Political prisoners languish in jails. Superfluous judicial summonses are routinely used to intimidate critics, and arbitrary detentions are common.

But Iranian society has refused to be coerced into silence. The human rights discourse is alive and well at the grassroots level; civil society activists consider it to be the most potent framework for achieving sustainable democratic reforms and political pluralism.

Indeed, American readers might be surprised to know how vigorous Iran's human rights organizations are. Last fall, when security forces unlawfully detained more than 20 young journalists and bloggers because of what they had written, independent Iranian organizations like the Center for Defense of Human Rights, the Association of Journalists for Freedom of Press, and the Students Association for Human Rights campaigned for their release.

This outcry, in tandem with support from the international community and human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch, led to the release of detainees. In fact, so great was the criticism of the abuses committed during these detentions that some of Iran's most senior government officials came out in favor of releasing the detainees.

Independent organizations are essential for fostering the culture of human rights in Iran. But the threat of foreign military intervention will provide a powerful excuse for authoritarian elements to uproot these groups and put an end to their growth.

Human rights violators will use this opportunity to silence their critics by labeling them as the enemy's fifth column. In 1980, after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and inflamed nationalist passions, Iranian authorities used such arguments to suppress dissidents.

American hypocrisy doesn't help, either. Given the longstanding willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women's rights, by close allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration's focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests.

Respect for human rights in any country must spring forth through the will of the people and as part of a genuine democratic process. Such respect can never be imposed by foreign military might and coercion - an approach that abounds in contradictions. Not only would a foreign invasion of Iran vitiate popular support for human rights activism, but by destroying civilian lives, institutions and infrastructure, war would also usher in chaos and instability. Respect for human rights is likely to be among the first casualties.

Instead, the most effective way to promote human rights in Iran is to provide moral support and international recognition to independent human rights defenders and to insist that Iran adhere to the international human rights laws and conventions that it has signed. Getting the Iranian government to abide by these international standards is the human rights movement's highest goal; foreign military intervention in Iran is the surest way to harm us and keep that goal out of reach.

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is the founder of theCenter for Defense of Human Rights in Tehran, Iran. Hadi Ghaemi is a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

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