5.08.2006 - 16h22 AFP O Presidente iraniano Mahmud Ahmadinejad rejeitou hoje a resolução do Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas que exige a suspensão do enriquecimento de urânio até 31 de Agosto.Ahmadinejad disse que “o povo iraniano não aceita a linguagem da força”.Esta é a primeira reacção do Presidente à resolução do Conselho de Segurança, adoptada a 31 de Julho, e que deu ao Irão até 31 de Agosto para suspender o seu enriquecimento de urânio. Se Teerão não aceitar, abre-se a via para as sanções contra aquele país.O Presidente iraniano considerou a resolução do Conselho de Segurança uma “expressão de cólera que nada faz” para diminuir a vontade do Irão em continuar com o seu programa nuclear.“Se quiserem ter boas relações com o Irão, a única solução é reconhecer os direitos do nosso povo e reconhecerem a grandeza do povo iraniano. Caso contrário, serão obrigados a fazê-lo mais tarde”, acrescentou.Gholamreza Aghazadeh, responsável pela Organização iraniana da Energia Atómica, disse mais tarde que o Irão se recusa a suspender as suas actividades de enriquecimento de urânio mas está disposto a oferecer garantias para evitar um desvio do urânio enriquecido.“Estamos dispostos a analisar todas as medidas de confiança. Mas a suspensão do enriquecimento não é uma das medidas de confiança”, disse Aghazadeh.O Presidente iraniano acrescentou ainda que o Irão vai “dar a sua resposta na data prevista”, a 22 de Agosto, à oferta das grandes potências, apresentada a 6 de Junho pela China, Estados Unidos, França, Reino Unido, Rússia e Alemanha.Esta oferta inclui medidas de cooperação nas áreas da economia e do nuclear, mas sob a condição do Irão suspender o seu enriquecimento.Ahmadinejad já disse que a sua resposta será “baseada na defesa dos direitos definitivos do povo iraniano e ninguém tem o direito de renunciar a esses direitos”.
Burns: USA will push for U.N. sanctions on Iran next monthThe United States intends to act next month to have the United Nations impose penalties on Iran for refusing to suspend its enrichment of uranium, a State Department official said Thursday."They will be well-deserved," Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters. "It's not a mystery to the Iranians what is going to happen."U.S. officials did not specify the proposed punishment.Beyond the nuclear program, Iran supports Hezbollah as well as other terrorist organizations and has played a destabilizing role in the Middle East, said a department spokesman, Tom Casey.The Security Council has said Iran faces penalties if it does not suspend uranium enrichment, an important step in making nuclear weapons.Iran has until the end of the month for an official response. Tehran also had said it would reply by Tuesday to a proposal by the United States and the European Union for concessions that include Washington's supplying of some civilian nuclear energy.Some critics urged the Bush administration to get on with negotiations with Iran.A group of 22 former military officials and retired diplomats said President Bush immediately should open discussions. Thursday's letter also cautioned against any consideration of the use of military force."An attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences for security in the region and U.S. forces in Iraq, and it would inflame hatred and violence in the Middle East and among Muslims everywhere," the letter said.Iran contends its enrichment and other nuclear programs are civilian in nature."We certainly want to give the Iranians the chance to take this last opportunity to accept the offer that is on the table," Casey said.Burns said the U.S. wants to moved quickly in September on the proposed U.N. penalties. He said the role of Iran in the Middle East has raised concerns among Arab and other countries about Tehran's intentions."There is broadened concern about the policy of a country that flexes its muscles," he said. "Iran wants to be the dominant country in the region."As for the cease-fire in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, Burns said Iran and Syria, the principal backers of the Hezbollah militia, "have a responsibility to respect the peace."
Ahmadinejad desafia Bush para debate na TVO presidente do Irão voltou, esta terça-feira, a desafiar o Conselho de Segurança ao dizer que não acredita que a ONU actue contra o país. A apenas dois dias do prazo dado pelo Conselho de Segurança, Ahmadinejad defendeu que ninguém pode impedir o Irão de aceder à energia nuclear e desafiou George W. Bush para um debate na televisão. ( 17:58 / 29 de Agosto 06 ) O Presidente do Irão, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, desafiou esta terça-feira, em conferência de imprensa, o seu homólogo norte-americano, George W. Bush, para um debate televisivo para discutir as "questões do mundo" e o "novo sistema global".Em Teerão, Ahmadinejad garantiu que ninguém pode impedir o Irão de aceder à energia nuclear e considerou «pouco provável» que o Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas venha a impor sanções ao seu país.Recorde-se que a resolução 1696 do Conselho de Segurança da ONU dá um prazo até quinta-feira às autoridades iranianas para renunciarem às suas actividades de enriquecimento de urânio.«Penso que o momento de utilizar o instrumento do Conselho de Segurança já passou e penso que é pouco provável que pretendam recorrer» às sanções depois de 31 de Agosto.Para o presidente iraniano, a resposta dada pelo Irão, no dia 22, à proposta dos cinco membros do Conselho de Segurança (China, Estados Unidos, França, Reino Unido e Rússia) e da Alemanha é «uma oportunidade extremamente excepcional para resolver todas as questões», mesmo tendo em conta que as grandes potências a tenham considerado «insatisfatória».O Presidente iraniano aproveitou a oportunidade para dirigir um convite a George W. Bush para um debate em directo, uma discussão televisiva «sem nenhuma censura».«Sugiro que se encontrem outros modos para governar o sistema mundial em vez do método injusto com que os Estados Unidos e o Reino Unido o procuram controlar, inclusivamente pela força», disse Ahmadinejad.«Por isso, proponho que se realize um debate televisivo com Bush para que cada um apresente as suas ideias de como criar um novo sistema global baseado na justiça e na dignidade humana», acrescentou.Em resposta, a Casa Branca rejeitou a "oferta" feita por Ahmadinejad, classificando a proposta de debate como uma «tentativa de diversão» do presidente iraniano.Os EUA fizeram também saber que condicionam todo e qualquer diálogo com o Irão a uma suspensão por parte da república islâmica das suas actividades nucleares.
Luís Amado diz ser necessário equacionar sanções ao IrãoO chefe da diplomacia portuguesa afirma ser necessário equacionar a imposição de sanções ao Irão no quadro do programa nuclear, que classifica como "o problema mais grave" na cena mundial. "Todas as alternativas têm de ser equacionadas. Naturalmente que temos de ter em consideração o calendário que foi estabelecido, e perante esse calendário a questão das sanções está manifestamente desde já aberta e nós temos de a equacionar", declarou Luís Amado à margem da reunião informal de ministros dos Negócios Estrangeiros da União Europeia que decorre em Lappeenranta, Finlândia. Teerão ignorou o prazo fixado pelas Nações Unidas, que terminou quinta-feira, para suspender o enriquecimento de urânio, tendo o presidente iraniano, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, reiterado no mesmo dia que o seu país não acatará a imposição de abdicar de tecnologia nuclear. Questionado sobre se o governo português apoia a adopção de uma posição mais firme por parte da comunidade internacional, nomeadamente a imposição de sanções a Teerão, Luís Amado afirmou que "Portugal apoia as posições que o Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas estabeleceu, e nessas condições está essa, como é sabido". "O problema nuclear iraniano é sem dúvida o problema mais grave com que nós estamos confrontados", afirmou hoje Luís Amado, recordando que o assunto será debatido sábado pelos 25, no segundo e último dia da reunião ministerial informal, após uma exposição da situação feita pelo Alto Representante da UE para a Política Externa, Javier Solana. Envio de forças para o Líbano abre nova página nas relações com Médio Oriente O ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros português afirmou que a decisão da União Europeia de enviar forças militares para o Líbano abre "uma nova página" nas relações com os problemas do Médio Oriente e acarreta "enormes responsabilidades". Luís Amado, que falava a jornalistas portugueses na cidade finlandesa de Lappeerenta, no final do primeiro dia de uma reunião informal de ministros dos Negócios Estrangeiros da União Europeia, assegurou que todos os Estados-membros estão plenamente conscientes da importância do compromisso assumido e saudou mesmo aquilo que classificou como "um novo espírito europeu". "Há uma consciência muito aguda por parte de todos os responsáveis políticos europeus de que o envolvimento de forças militares, decidido sexta-feira (da semana passada) a pedido do secretário-geral (das Nações Unidas, Kofi Annan), abre uma nova página nas relações políticas da UE com os problemas do Médio Oriente", declarou Luís Amado. Portugal contribuirá com um máximo de 140 efectivos da especialidade de engenharia para a Força Interina das Nações Unidas no Líbano (FINUL). O chefe da diplomacia portuguesa acrescentou que a reunião de hoje demonstrou "um bom espírito europeu, uma vontade de cooperação muito grande entre os Estados-membros", e uma consciência muito grande da necessidade de trabalhar em conjunto com os Estados Unidos, a Rússia, e outros Estados-membros do Conselho de Segurança da ONU e de envolver os parceiros regionais mais directamente envolvidos. "A dimensão do problema e a sua complexidade estão naturalmente muito para além das capacidades políticas e diplomáticas da própria União Europeia", assinalou. Destacando a necessidade de uma "convergência de posições" no seio da UE, apesar de ser "natural" haver divergências e "perspectivas diferentes sobre o conflito" entre os Estados-membros, Luís Amado afirmou que os "25" expressaram hoje "um novo espírito europeu". Os ministros dos Negócios Estrangeiros da UE iniciaram hoje em Lappeenranta uma reunião informal de dois dias que assinala a "rentrée" política comunitária, e que constitui o primeiro de uma série de encontros ministeriais informais realizados pela presidência finlandesa da UE. Depois de terem dedicado o primeiro dia à análise da situação no Médio Oriente, os chefes da diplomacia da UE vão discutir sábado o "dossier" do programa nuclear iraniano e as relações da União com a Rússia.Agência LUSA
Indústria militar iraniana exporta para 57 paísesO Irão está a exportar material militar para 57 países, garantiu o ministro da Defesa iraniano, ao mesmo tempo que as suas forças armadas testavam com sucesso uma optimização do míssil Hawk de fabrico norte-americano, divulgou esta segunda-feira a imprensa local. Desde o princípio do ano, nos denominados «jogos de guerra» que estão a decorrer no Golfo Pérsico (o teste do Hawk representa o início da terceira fase dos exercícios militares com o nome de código «O Golpe de Zolfaqar»), este é o quarto teste de mísseis que os militares iranianos levam a cabo em 2006, numa aparente demonstração do poderio não só das suas forças armadas, como da indústria de armamento.Tentando evitar qualquer má interpretação quanto às intenções do Governo, pelo facto de se multiplicarem as manifestações do seu poderio militar, o ministro da Defesa, general Mostafa-Mohammad Najjar, apressou-se a declarar que se trata tudo de uma questão defensiva.»O Irão não tem qualquer intenção de invadir algum país, mas naturalmente tem o direito de se defender contra qualquer agressão ou invasão», afirmou, citado pelo diário Tehran Times, numa viagem à província do Azerbaijão Ocidental com o Presidente Mahmud Ahmadinejad.Quanto ao facto do material militar fabricado no Irão estar a atrair cada vez mais os compradores estrangeiros, o general Najjar garante que o segredo está na melhoria substancial da sua qualidade devido à necessidade imposta pelas sanções internacionais contra o Governo de Teerão.O titular da pasta da Defesa considera que as sanções impostas ao país desde o triunfo da Revolução Islâmica levaram o país a investir no desenvolvimento da sua própria indústria de armamento, uma indústria que alcança agora uma dimensão internacional, como parece demonstrar a multiplicação das encomendas.Uma das facetas dessa indústria é a capacidade de melhorar o seu próprio arsenal que, sem actualizações, corria o risco de ficar obsoleto.O míssil Hawk testado este fim-de-semana no norte do Irão, alterado para poder ser transportado e disparado pelos caças F-14, é de fabrico norte-americano e poderá ser um dos mais de dois milhares que os Estados Unidos venderam clandestinamente a Teerão nos anos 80, no escândalo que ficou conhecido como Irão-Contras (o dinheiro destinava-se a financiar os «contras», opositores do regime sandinista, na Nicarágua).Os Shehab-3 e Shehab-4, alterados para aumentarem o seu alcance e poderem chegar a Israel, também são tecnologia estrangeira melhorada pela indústria de armamento iraniana. O primeiro, por exemplo, é uma versão melhorada dos Nodong norte-coreanos.Quanto ao Kowsar, o «super-moderno barco voador» - assim apelidado pelos iranianos - testado em Abril, a imprensa internacional especializada em defesa especula que poderá ser a versão muito avançada de um projecto russo: o Irão garante que este míssil terra-mar desenhado para planar sobre a superfície da água é capaz de evitar radares e é quase impossível interferir no seu sistema de orientação.De acordo com a Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a organização não governamental criada pelo magnata da CNN Ted Turner e pelo senador norte-americano Sam Nunn, a indústria de armamento iraniana estaria a desenvolver um projecto - denominado «Projecto 111» - destinado a tornar o Shehab-3 capaz de transportar uma ogiva nuclear.Diário Digital / Lusa
Iran bolsters Su-25 fleetBy Liam Devlin and Tom Cooper JDW Special Correspondents Belfast and Vienna Iran's original seven Su-25K/UBKs were flown to Iran from Iraq in 1991 as the multinational Operation 'Desert Storm' force gathered on Iraq's southern border in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Air Force (IRGCAF) then purchased three Su-25UBK two-seat combat trainers and three Su-25T anti-tank aircraft from Russia and deliveries of these have been completed. With its maximum combat load of 4,340 kg, the type now plays an important role in supporting the IRGC's rapid-reaction doctrine. It is foremost intended to provide direct air support to ground troops. The IRGCAF is considering the purchase of more advanced variants, including the Su-25TM (Su-39), optimised for attacks on ground and naval targets in daylight, but also at night, using precision-guided munitions. However, current political circumstances may make this procurement difficult.
"We Do Not Need Attacks"TIME: What were your impressions of New York during your visit to the U.S. last year?Ahmadinejad: Unfortunately we didn't have any contact with the people of the United States. We were not in touch with the people. But my general impression is that the people of the United States are good people. Everywhere in the world, people are good.TIME: Did you visit the site of the World Trade Center?Ahmadinejad: It was not necessary. It was widely covered in the media.TIME: You recently invited President Bush to a televised debate. If he were sitting where I am sitting, what would you say, man to man?Ahmadinejad: The issues which are of interest to us are the international issues and how to manage them. I gave some recommendations to President Bush in my personal letter, and I hope that he will take note of them. I would ask him, Are rationalism, spirituality and humanitarianism and logic�are they bad things for human beings? Why more conflict? Why should we go for hostilities? Why should we develop weapons of mass destruction? Everybody can love one another.TIME: Do you feel any connection with President Bush, since he is also a religious man, a strong Christian?Ahmadinejad: I've heard about that. But there are many things which take place and are inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ in this world.TIME: Why do your supporters chant "Death to America"?Ahmadinejad: When they chanted that slogan, it means they hate aggression, and they hate bullying tactics, and they hate violations of the rights of nations and discrimination. I recommended to President Bush that he can change his behavior, then everything will change.TIME: How do you think the American people feel when they hear Iranians shouting "Death to America" and the President of Iran does not criticize this?Ahmadinejad: The nations do not have any problems. What is the role of the American people in what is happening in the world? The people of the United States are also seeking peace, love, friendship and justice.TIME: But if Americans shouted "Death to Iran," Iranians would feel insulted.Ahmadinejad: If the government of Iran acted in such a way, then [the American people] have this right.TIME: Are America and Iran fated to be in conflict?Ahmadinejad: No, this is not fate. And this can come to an end. I have said we can run the world through logic. We are living our own lives. The U.S. government should not interfere in our affairs. They should live their own lives. They should serve the interests of the U.S. people. They should not interfere in our affairs. Then there would be no problems with that.TIME: Are you ready to open direct negotiations with the U.S.?Ahmadinejad: We have given them a letter, a lengthy letter. We say the U.S. Administration should change its behavior, and then everything will be solved. It was the U.S. which broke up relations with us. We didn't take that position. And then they should make up for it.TIME: Does Iran have the right to nuclear weapons?Ahmadinejad: We are opposed to nuclear weapons. We think it has been developed just to kill human beings. It is not in the service of human beings. For that reason, last year in my address to the U.N. General Assembly, I suggested that a committee should be set up in order to disarm all the countries that possess nuclear weapons.TIME: But you were attacked with weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. You say the u.s. threatens you, and you are surrounded by countries that have nuclear weapons.Ahmadinejad: Today nuclear weapons are a blunt instrument. We don't have any problems with Pakistan or India. Actually they are friends of Iran, and throughout history they have been friends. The Zionist regime is not capable of using nuclear weapons. Problems cannot be solved through bombs. Bombs are of little use today. We need logic.TIME: Why won't you agree to suspend enrichment of uranium as a confidence-building measure?Ahmadinejad: Whose confidence should be built?TIME: The world's?Ahmadinejad: The world? The world? Who is the world? The United States? The U.S. Administration is not the entire world. Europe does not account for one-twentieth of the entire world. When I studied the provisions of the npt [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], nowhere did I see it written that in order to produce nuclear fuel, we need to win the support or the confidence of the United States and some European countries.TIME: How far will Iran go in defying Western demands? Will you wait until you are attacked and your nuclear installations are destroyed?Ahmadinejad: Do you think the u.s. administration would be so irrational?TIME: You tell me.Ahmadinejad: I hope that is not the case. I said that we need logic. We do not need attacks.TIME: Are you worried about an attack?Ahmadinejad: No.TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?Ahmadinejad: People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views. Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: we say that a nation has been displaced from its own land. Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes. Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?TIME: Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to their own state?Ahmadinejad: We do not oppose it. In any country in which the people are ready to vote for the Jews to come to power, it is up to them. In our country, the Jews are living and they are represented in our Parliament. But Zionists are different from Jews.TIME: Have you considered that Iranian Jews are hurt by your comments denying that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust?Ahmadinejad: As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn't receive any answers to my questions. I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only 6 million? And if it had happened, then it is a historical event. Then why do they not allow independent research?TIME: But massive research has been done.Ahmadinejad: They put in prison those who try to do research. About historical events everybody should be free to conduct research. Let's assume that it has taken place. Where did it take place? So what is the fault of the Palestinian people? These questions are quite clear. We are waiting for answers.
What war with Iran would look like?The first message was routine enough: A "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. The CNO had asked for a rundown on how a blockade of those strategic targets might work. When he didn't like the analysis he received, he ordered his troops to work the lash up once again.What's going on? The two orders offered tantalizing clues. There are only a few places in the world where minesweepers top the list of U.S. naval requirements. And every sailor, petroleum engineer and hedge-fund manager knows the name of the most important: the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 40% of the world's oil needs to pass each day. Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed—but until now largely theoretical—prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.No one knows whether—let alone when—a military confrontation with Tehran will come to pass. The fact that admirals are reviewing plans for blockades is hardly proof of their intentions. The U.S. military routinely makes plans for scores of scenarios, the vast majority of which will never be put into practice. "Planners always plan," says a Pentagon official. Asked about the orders, a second official said only that the Navy is stepping up its "listening and learning" in the Persian Gulf but nothing more—a prudent step, he added, after Iran tested surface-to-ship missiles there in August during a two-week military exercise. And yet from the State Department to the White House to the highest reaches of the military command, there is a growing sense that a showdown with Iran—over its suspected quest for nuclear weapons, its threats against Israel and its bid for dominance of the world's richest oil region—may be impossible to avoid. The chief of the U.S. Central Command (Centcom), General John Abizaid, has called a commanders conference for later this month in the Persian Gulf—sessions he holds at least quarterly—and Iran is on the agenda.On its face, of course, the notion of a war with Iran seems absurd. By any rational measure, the last thing the U.S. can afford is another war. Two unfinished wars—one on Iran's eastern border, the other on its western flank—are daily depleting America's treasury and overworked armed forces. Most of Washington's allies in those adventures have made it clear they will not join another gamble overseas. What's more, the Bush team, led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has done more diplomatic spadework on Iran than on any other project in its 51/2 years in office. For more than 18 months, Rice has kept the Administration's hard-line faction at bay while leading a coalition that includes four other members of the U.N. Security Council and is trying to force Tehran to halt its suspicious nuclear ambitions. Even Iran's former President, Mohammed Khatami, was in Washington this month calling for a "dialogue" between the two nations.But superpowers don't always get to choose their enemies or the timing of their confrontations. The fact that all sides would risk losing so much in armed conflict doesn't mean they won't stumble into one anyway. And for all the good arguments against any war now, much less this one, there are just as many indications that a genuine, eyeball-to-eyeball crisis between the U.S. and Iran may be looming, and sooner than many realize. "At the moment," says Ali Ansari, a top Iran authority at London's Chatham House, a foreign-policy think tank, "we are headed for conflict."So what would it look like? Interviews with dozens of experts and government officials in Washington, Tehran and elsewhere in the Middle East paint a sobering picture: military action against Iran's nuclear facilities would have a decent chance of succeeding, but at a staggering cost. And therein lies the excruciating calculus facing the U.S. and its allies: Is the cost of confronting Iran greater than the dangers of living with a nuclear Iran? And can anything short of war persuade Tehran's fundamentalist regime to give up its dangerous game?Road To WarThe crisis with Iran has been years in the making. Over the past decade, Iran has acquired many of the pieces, parts and plants needed to make a nuclear device. Although Iranian officials insist that Iran's ambitions are limited to nuclear energy, the regime has asserted its right to develop nuclear power and enrich uranium that could be used in bombs as an end in itself—a symbol of sovereign pride, not to mention a useful prop for politicking. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has crisscrossed the country in recent months making Iran's right to a nuclear program a national cause and trying to solidify his base of hard-line support in the Revolutionary Guards. The nuclear program is popular with average Iranians and the elites as well. "Iranian leaders have this sense of past glory, this belief that Iran should play a lofty role in the world," says Nasser Hadian, professor of political science at Tehran University.But the nuclear program isn't Washington's only worry about Iran. While stoking nationalism at home, Tehran has dramatically consolidated its reach in the region. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has sponsored terrorist groups in a handful of countries, but its backing of Hizballah, the militant group that took Lebanon to war with Israel this summer, seems to be changing the Middle East balance of power. There is circumstantial evidence that Iran ordered Hizballah to provoke this summer's war, in part to demonstrate that Tehran can stir up big trouble if pushed to the brink. The precise extent of coordination between Hizballah and Tehran is unknown. But no longer in dispute after the standoff in July is Iran's ability to project power right up to the borders of Israel. It is no coincidence that the talk in Washington about what to do with Iran became more focused after Hizballah fought the Israeli army to a virtual standstill this summer.And yet the West has been unable to compel Iran to comply with its demands. Despite all the work Rice has put into her coalition, diplomatic efforts are moving too slowly, some believe, to stop the Iranians before they acquire the makings of a nuclear device. And Iran has played its hand shrewdly so far. Tehran took weeks to reply to a formal proposal from the U.N. Security Council calling on a halt to uranium enrichment. When it did, its official response was a mosaic of half-steps, conditions and boilerplate that suggested Tehran has little intention of backing down. "The Iranians," says a Western diplomat in Washington, "are very able negotiators." That doesn't make war inevitable. But at some point the U.S. and its allies may have to confront the ultimate choice. The Bush Administration has said it won't tolerate Iran having a nuclear weapon. Once it does, the regime will have the capacity to carry out Ahmadinejad's threats to eliminate Israel. And in practical terms, the U.S. would have to consider military action long before Iran had an actual bomb. In military circles, there is a debate about where—and when—to draw that line. U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte told Time in April that Iran is five years away from having a nuclear weapon. But some nonproliferation experts worry about a different moment: when Iran is able to enrich enough uranium to fuel a bomb—a point that comes well before engineers actually assemble a nuclear device. Many believe that is when a country becomes a nuclear power. That red line, experts say, could be just a year away.Would An Attack Work?The answer is yes and no.No one is talking about a ground invasion of Iran. Too many U.S. troops are tied down elsewhere to make it possible, and besides, it isn't necessary. If the U.S. goal is simply to stunt Iran's nuclear program, it can be done better and more safely by air. An attack limited to Iran's nuclear facilities would nonetheless require a massive campaign. Experts say that Iran has between 18 and 30 nuclear-related facilities. The sites are dispersed around the country—some in the open, some cloaked in the guise of conventional factories, some buried deep underground.A Pentagon official says that among the known sites there are 1,500 different "aim points," which means the campaign could well require the involvement of almost every type of aircraft in the U.S. arsenal: Stealth bombers and fighters, B-1s and B-2s, as well as F-15s and F-16s operating from land and F-18s from aircraft carriers.GPS-guided munitions and laser-targeted bombs—sighted by satellite, spotter aircraft and unmanned vehicles—would do most of the bunker busting. But because many of the targets are hardened under several feet of reinforced concrete, most would have to be hit over and over to ensure that they were destroyed or sufficiently damaged. The U.S. would have to mount the usual aerial ballet, refueling tankers as well as search-and-rescue helicopters in case pilots were shot down by Iran's aging but possibly still effective air defenses. U.S. submarines and ships could launch cruise missiles as well, but their warheads are generally too small to do much damage to reinforced concrete—and might be used for secondary targets. An operation of that size would hardly be surgical. Many sites are in highly populated areas, so civilian casualties would be a certainty. Whatever the order of battle, a U.S. strike would have a lasting impression on Iran's rulers. U.S. officials believe that a campaign of several days, involving hundreds or even thousands of sorties, could set back Iran's nuclear program by two to three years. Hit hard enough, some believe, Iranians might develop second thoughts about their government's designs as a regional nuclear power. Some U.S. foes of Iran's regime believe that the crisis of legitimacy that the ruling clerics would face in the wake of a U.S. attack could trigger their downfall, although others are convinced it would unite the population with the government in anti-American rage.But it is also likely that the U.S. could carry out a massive attack and still leave Iran with some part of its nuclear program intact. It's possible that U.S. warplanes could destroy every known nuclear site—while Tehran's nuclear wizards, operating at other, undiscovered sites even deeper underground, continued their work. "We don't know where it all is," said a White House official, "so we can't get it all."What Would Come Next?No one who has spent any time thinking about an attack on Iran doubts that a U.S. operation would reap a whirlwind. The only mystery is what kind. "It's not a question of whether we can do a strike or not and whether the strike could be effective," says retired Marine General Anthony Zinni. "It certainly would be, to some degree. But are you prepared for all that follows?"Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who taught strategy at the National War College, has been conducting a mock U.S.-Iran war game for American policymakers for the past five years. Virtually every time he runs the game, Gardiner says, a similar nightmare scenario unfolds: the U.S. attack, no matter how successful, spawns a variety of asymmetrical retaliations by Tehran. First comes terrorism: Iran's initial reaction to air strikes might be to authorize a Hizballah attack on Israel, in order to draw Israel into the war and rally public support at home.Next, Iran might try to foment as much mayhem as possible inside the two nations on its flanks, Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than 160,000 U.S. troops hold a tenuous grip on local populations. Iran has already dabbled in partnership with warlords in western Afghanistan, where U.S. military authority has never been strong; it would be a small step to lend aid to Taliban forces gaining strength in the south. Meanwhile, Tehran has links to the main factions in Iraq, which would welcome a boost in money and weapons, if just to strengthen their hand against rivals. Analysts generally believe that Iran could in a short time orchestrate a dramatic increase in the number and severity of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. As Syed Ayad, a secular Shi'ite cleric and Iraqi Member of Parliament says, "America owns the sky of Iraq with their Apaches, but Iran owns the ground."Next, there is oil. The Persian Gulf, a traffic jam on good days, would become a parking lot. Iran could plant mines and launch dozens of armed boats into the bottleneck, choking off the shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz and causing a massive disruption of oil-tanker traffic. A low-key Iranian mining operation in 1987 forced the U.S. to reflag Kuwaiti oil tankers and escort them, in slow-moving files of one and two, up and down the Persian Gulf. A more intense operation would probably send oil prices soaring above $100 per bbl.—which may explain why the Navy wants to be sure its small fleet of minesweepers is ready to go into action at a moment's notice. It is unlikely that Iran would turn off its own oil spigot or halt its exports through pipelines overland, but it could direct its proxies in Iraq and Saudi Arabia to attack pipelines, wells and shipment points inside those countries, further choking supply and driving up prices.That kind of retaliation could quickly transform a relatively limited U.S. mission in Iran into a much more complicated one involving regime change. An Iran determined to use all its available weapons to counterattack the U.S. and its allies would present a challenge to American prestige that no Commander in Chief would be likely to tolerate for long. Zinni, for one, believes an attack on Iran could eventually lead to U.S. troops on the ground. "You've got to be careful with your assumptions," he says. "In Iraq, the assumption was that it would be a liberation, not an occupation. You've got to be prepared for the worst case, and the worst case involving Iran takes you down to boots on the ground." All that, he says, makes an attack on Iran a "dumb idea." Abizaid, the current Centcom boss, chose his words carefully last May. "Look, any war with a country that is as big as Iran, that has a terrorist capability along its borders, that has a missile capability that is external to its own borders and that has the ability to affect the world's oil markets is something that everyone needs to contemplate with a great degree of clarity."Can It Be Stopped?Given the chaos that a war might unleash, what options does the world have to avoid it? One approach would be for the U.S. to accept Iran as a nuclear power and learn to live with an Iranian bomb, focusing its efforts on deterrence rather than pre-emption. The risk is that a nuclear-armed Iran would use its regional primacy to become the dominant foreign power in Iraq, threaten Israel and make it harder for Washington to exert its will in the region. And it could provoke Sunni countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to start nuclear programs of their own to contain rising Shi'ite power.Those equally unappetizing prospects—war or a new arms race in the Middle East—explain why the White House is kicking up its efforts to resolve the Iran problem before it gets that far. Washington is doing everything it can to make Iran think twice about its ongoing game of stonewall. It is a measure of the Administration's unity on Iran that confrontationalists like Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have lately not wandered off the rhetorical reservation. Everyone has been careful—for now—to stick to Rice's diplomatic emphasis. "Nobody is considering a military option at this point," says an Administration official. "We're trying to prevent a situation in which the President finds himself having to decide between a nuclear-armed Iran or going to war. The best hope of avoiding that dilemma is hard-nosed diplomacy, one that has serious consequences."Rice continues to try for that. This week in New York City, she will push her partners to get behind a new sanctions resolution that would ban Iranian imports of dual-use technologies, like parts for its centrifuge cascades for uranium enrichment, and bar travel overseas by certain government officials. The next step would be restrictions on government purchases of computer software and hardware, office supplies, tires and auto parts—steps Russia and China have signaled some reluctance to endorse. But even Rice's advisers don't believe that Iran can be persuaded to completely abandon its ambitions. Instead, they hope to tie Iran up in a series of suspensions, delays and negotiations until a more pragmatic faction of leadership in Tehran gains the upper hand.At the moment, that sounds as much like a prayer as a strategy. A former cia director, asked not long ago whether a moderate faction will ever emerge in Tehran, quipped, "I don't think I've ever met an Iranian moderate—not at the top of the government, anyway." But if sanctions don't work, what might? Outside the Administration, a growing group of foreign-policy hands from both parties have called on the U.S. to bring Tehran into direct negotiations in the hope of striking a grand bargain. Under that formula, the U.S. might offer Iran some security guarantees—such as forswearing efforts to topple Iran's theocratic regime—in exchange for Iran's agreeing to open its facilities to international inspectors and abandon weapons-related projects. It would be painful for any U.S. Administration to recognize the legitimacy of a regime that sponsors terrorism and calls for Israel's destruction—but the time may come when that's the only bargaining chip short of war the U.S. has left. And still that may not be enough. "[The Iranians]would give up nuclear power if they truly believed the U.S. would accept Iran as it is," says a university professor in Tehran who asked not to be identified. "But the mistrust runs too deep for them to believe that is possible."Such distrust runs both ways and is getting deeper. Unless the U.S., its allies and Iran can find a way to make diplomacy work, the whispers of blockades and minesweepers in the Persian Gulf may soon be drowned out by the cries of war. And if the U.S. has learned anything over the past five years, it's that war in the Middle East rarely goes according to plan.
Oh, I have not seen that issue of Time yet, Azraael. Obrigada!
Iran plans to restore Portuguese CastleWednesday, October 04, 2006 - ©2005 IranMania.comLONDON, October 4 (IranMania) - Iran plans to renovate the Portuguese Castle on the Persian Gulf island of Hormoz, which is one of the last surviving monuments of an important era in the history of southern Iran, the Persian service of CHN reported.A plan drafted by Portugal has been delivered to Iranian officials, but no funding has been approved yet.Portugal is also interested in participating in the project, but Iran wants Iranian experts to implement it by themselves. “According to officials of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization and the Foreign Ministry, Iranian experts will restore the castle without the involvement of Portugal’s experts,” Hormozgan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department (HCHTD) deputy director Kamran Musavi said on Tuesday.“The implementation of the plan will require several billion rials (several million dollars), which the HCHTD is not able to provide from the provincial fund. We asked for national funding one year ago, and received some promises that have still not been fulfilled,” he added.The castle was built by Portuguese commander Alfonso de Albuquerque when his forces seized the island in the early sixteenth century. The fact that such an important place was in foreign hands was so galling to Safavid king Shah Abbas I (1587-1629) that he eventually convinced the British East India Company to allow its ships to cooperate with his land forces and wrested the island from the Portuguese in 1622. The castle built by the Portuguese on Hormoz Island is without doubt the most impressive colonial fortress in Iran. Constructed of reddish stone on a rocky promontory at the far north of the island, the castle was originally cut off from the rest of the island by a moat, traces of which still remain. Although most of the roof caved in long ago, much of the lower part of the very substantial outer walls is intact, with the remains lying on different levels of the site.Over the past few years, the HCHTD has made many efforts to convert the castle into a site-specific museum to house and display the artifacts from over one hundred years of Portuguese colonial rule in the Persian Gulf.The Portuguese also left three other castles on the Iranian islands of Larak and Qeshm and in the port of Kong as legacies of their colonialism in the Persian Gulf.In September 2004, the castles hosted celebrations commemorating the liberation anniversary of the castles.fonte: http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=46167&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
LONDON [MENL] -- The British government has acknowledged arms sales to Iran and Syria.A British Foreign Office report said the government has granted licenses for dual-use equipment to Iran and Syria. The report said the exports include components and technology that could be used by the militaries of the two Middle East states.The human rights report asserted that Iran spent about $350 million, or 180.5 million British pounds, on a range of British dual-use systems. The Foreign Office cited aircraft engines, machine tools and chemicals.The Foreign Office said Syria has ordered nearly $200,000 worth of dual-use items from Britain, including chemicals as well as technology to produce toxins. The purchases were said to have taken place between October and December 2005.