Archive for the ‘Iranian’ Category

Israeli Air Force chief: We are ready to deal with Iran

November 19, 2008

“We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us” in order to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, IAF commander Maj. -Gen. Ido Nehushtan told German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published Tuesday.

Nehushtan told the magazine that whether a military strike is eventually decided upon is a political question and not an issue of Israel’s military capabilities.A strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities “is a political decision,” the IAF commander said, “but if I understand it correctly, all options are on the table… The Air Force is a very robust and flexible force. We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us.”

From the Jerusalem Post


Above: Brig.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, commander of the Israeli Air Force.
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When asked by the paper whether the Israeli military was able to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, which are spread around the country and partly located underground, Nehushtan said, “Please understand that I do not want to get into details. I can only say this: It is not a technical or logistical question.”

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Piracy Spurs Threats to Shipping Costs

November 19, 2008

The seizure by pirates of a giant Saudi oil tanker far off the coast of Kenya could enlarge the “war risk” zone that already is lifting insurance costs for thousands of ships heading west of Africa, further raising the cost of piracy to world-wide shipping.

More vessels have begun avoiding the direct passage most often attacked by pirates and taking a much longer route around the southern tip of Africa. They’re hoping to pressure governments along the direct route, through the busy Gulf of Aden, to crack down more effectively on piracy or lose revenues from cargo-ship traffic.

By John W. Miller
The Wall Street Journal

But the unprecedented attack disclosed Monday on the MV Sirius Star, carrying $100 million worth of crude hundreds of miles from shore in the Indian Ocean, is undercutting that strategy. It could raise the cost of insurance and crews for ships that take the longer route, which already costs far more in fuel.

The boldness of the attack on the 1,080-foot Sirius Star may prompt insurers to require special “war risk” insurance costing tens of thousands of dollars a day to cover travel across a much greater area of water. It also could spur shippers to hire more onboard security for their vessels, which many have resisted because of costs and the fear of escalating armed conflicts with the pirates.

“This could be a game-changer,” says Peter Hinchliffe, maritime director of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping. “It’s no secret the whole industry is looking into this.”

Governments and shippers have sparred over who should bear responsibility for fending off the pirates, who seized 26 ships in the region during the summer alone and have collected up to $30 million in ransom so far this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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Indian Navy Destroys Pirate ‘Mother Ship’ in Battle Near Somalia

November 19, 2008

NEW DELHI —  An Indian naval vessel sank a suspected pirate “mother ship” Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden and chased two attack boats into the night, officials said, yet more violence in the lawless seas where brigands are becoming bolder and more violent.

Separate bands of pirates also seized a Thai ship with 16 crew members and an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 in the Gulf of Aden, where Somalia-based pirates appear to be attacking ships at will, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, ... 
In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, Indian warship INS Tabar, right, escorts the MV Jag Arnav ship to safety after rescuing it from a hijack attempt by Somali pirates. The Indian navy says the INS Tabar dedicated to fighting pirates has successfully fought off an attempted pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, sparking explosions and a fire on the suspected pirate ship late Tuesday, Nov. 18.(AP Photo/Indian Navy, HO, File)

“It’s getting out of control,” Choong said.

A multicoalition naval force has increased patrols in the region, and scored a rare success Tuesday when the Indian warship, operating off the coast of Oman, stopped a ship similar to a pirate vessel mentioned in numerous piracy bulletins. The Indian navy said the pirates fired on the INS Tabar after the officers asked it to stop to be searched.


INS Tabar transfers a man to another ship at sea.

“Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers,” said a statement from the Indian navy. Indian forces fired back, sparking fires and a series of onboard blasts — possibly due to exploding ammunition — and destroying the ship.

SomaliPirate
Above: Somali pirates

INS Tabar, a multipurpose frontline warship, seen in Mumbai ...

Above: Indian Navy warship Tabar  

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Israel Urges “Greater Force” On Iran’s Nuclear Work, “Devious Goals”

November 17, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on Sunday for a stronger international campaign against Iran‘s nuclear programme to “thwart it with greater force.”

“We must increase our measures to prevent Iran from achieving its devious goals,” Olmert said in a speech to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. “Iran cannot become nuclear. Israel cannot afford it … the free world must not accept it.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends the weekly cabinet ... 
Olmert (Gali Tibbon/Pool/Reuters)

“We must unite our forces as part of the international community, led by the United States of America. We must confront Iran’s malevolent diligence and thwart it with greater force.”

Israel and the West fear Iran may be using its nuclear programme to develop a nuclear weapon, which the Jewish state sees as a potential threat to its existence. Iran says its atomic programme is solely for energy purposes.

Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, although it has never confirmed nor denied it.

Israel has backed Western economic sanctions against Iran but has said it is keeping all options on the table in its bid to halt Iran’s nuclear programme.

Israeli leaders have voiced concern about U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s stated readiness to seek dialogue either alongside or instead of sanctions as a method of persuading Iran to change its policies.

“Iran has not terminated its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Olmert said.

He also accused the Islamic Republic of continuing to fund Palestinian militants and gunmen in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Olmert called for further sanctions against Iran, saying: “It must become more costly to Iran to pursue nuclear weapons than to give it up.”

Olmert resigned as prime minister in September in the heat of a corruption investigation, but is staying on as caretaker prime minister until a new Israeli government can be formed after a February 10 election.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Janet Lawrence of Reuters)

Israeli Defense Official: “We Won’t Allow Iran to Go Nuclear”

November 15, 2008

Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has stressed to The Jerusalem Post in an unusually hard-hitting interview.

For now, Israel is backing diplomatic and economic efforts to thwart the Iranians, Gilad added, but it doubts these will work and it is keeping all options open.

By David Horovitz
Jerusalem Post 

Asked about the complexities of any resort to military action, particularly since Iran has built its facilities to withstand a repeat of the IAF’s 1981 destruction of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, Gilad replied, tellingly, that domestic critics 27 years ago said the Osirak raid “couldn’t be done. And the fact is, it succeeded.”

“Iran is a country with smart people that have capabilities,” he noted. “It really would be a considerable challenge. Come the day, if and when this or that option is adopted, what will matter is the outcome.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seen here in September ... 
Iran’s President Ahmadinejad.
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Jeff Zelevansky)

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Wednesday Iran Tests Yet Another Ballistic Missile: Israel in Range

November 12, 2008

By Zahra Hosseinian

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said it test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile on Wednesday and that the Islamic Republic was ready to defend itself against any attacker.

Iran’s latest missile test followed persistent speculation in recent months of possible U.S. or Israeli strikes against its nuclear facilities, which the West suspects form part of a covert atomic weapons program, a charge Tehran denies.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, like outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, has not ruled out military action although he has criticized the Bush administration for not pursuing more diplomacy and engagement with Tehran.

Washington said the test highlighted the need for a missile defense system it plans to base in Poland and the Czech Republic to counter threats from what it calls “rogue states.”

Iranian Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the Iranian-made surface-to-surface Sejil missile had “extremely high capabilities” and was only intended for defensive purposes.

He said it had a range of close to 2,000 km (1,200 miles), almost as far as another Iranian missile, Shahab 3. That would enable it to reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf.

“This missile test is in the framework of Iran’s deterrent doctrine,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

“It will only land on the heads of those enemies … who want to make an aggression and invade the Islamic Republic,” said Najjar, who did not mention any country by name.

Iran’s English-language Press TV said the Sejil missile had two stages and was of a type that used combined solid fuel.

A missile was shown soaring from a platform in desert-like terrain, leaving a long vapor trail.

“Honor”

It came a day after media said the Revolutionary Guards had test-fired another missile called Samen near the Iraqi border.

“They do it all the time. It’s Iranian machismo,” said Tim Ripley, an analyst at Jane’s Defence Weekly.

Two stages could increase a missile’s range, he said, noting that Iran had in the past borrowed technology from North Korea although he said he could not say if that was true this time.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic bombs, while Iran says it only aims to generate electricity.

Iran has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests and America’s ally Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route for world oil supplies.

The United States is planning to install a defensive shield in central Europe against missiles it says could be fired by states such as Iran.

“We’ve consistently pointed out that Iran’s missile program is a concern and this testing is another reminder of the importance of establishing a missile defense site in Poland and the Czech Republic to defend the U.S. and Europe against a threat that is developing in Iran,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

Moscow on Wednesday rejected U.S. proposals intended to allay its concerns about the system.

Senior officials from the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany were due to meet in Paris on Thursday to discuss their next steps in their nuclear showdown with Iran.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, told a provincial rally Iran would defeat its enemies.

“The Iranian nation defends its honor and whichever power that wants to stand against the movement of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation will crush it under its foot and slap it on the mouth,” he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Last week, Iran’s military said U.S. helicopters had been seen flying close to Iran’s border and that it would respond to any violation, a message analysts said seemed directed at Obama more than American troops in Iraq.

It followed a cross-border raid in October by U.S. forces into Syria, a move that was condemned by Damascus and Tehran.

(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert in Washington and Edmund Blair; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Mark Trevelyan in Reuters)

Moscow Rejects Second Proposal Set On Missile Defense From U.S.

November 12, 2008

The Kremlin has rejected a second set of U.S. proposals offered to assuage increasingly strident Russian criticism of plans for an American missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, news agencies reported Wednesday.

The Bush administration says the system would protect Europe from attacks by Iranian long-range missiles. Moscow has angrily dismissed those assertions, saying the system could eliminate Russia‘s nuclear deterrent or spy on its military installations.

Iranian Shahab-2 (L) and Shahab-3 missiles stand on display ... 
Iranian Shahab-2 (L) and Shahab-3 missiles stand on display in front of a large portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a square in south Tehran in September 2008. The United States denounced Iran’s claimed test of a new medium-range missile on Wednesday and warned Tehran to halt its ballistic missile program “immediately” amid a nuclear dispute with the West.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

In a major speech just hours after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential vote, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged to base short-range Iskander missiles in the Baltic Sea region of Kaliningrad on the border with Poland if the U.S. goes forward with its plans.

By MIKE ECKEL, Associated Press Writer Mike Eckel, Associated Press Writer

The Bush administration later sent Moscow a new set of proposals. Previous U.S. proposals involved, among other things, offers to allow Russia to send observers to monitor the missile defense sites. Russian and U.S. officials have not publicly disclosed the contents of the latest proposals.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this weekend after meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the latest proposals were insufficient. On Wednesday, an unnamed Kremlin official told Russian news agencies that Moscow was prepared to work with Washington on questions of European security. But the official accused the Bush administration of trying to limit the incoming Obama administration’s choices on the issue.

The Americans have presented us with several proposals. These proposals are inadequate, they have nothing new in them,” the official said.

The Kremlin did not comment on the report.

In Brussels, the Russian ambassador to the European Union said Medvedev’s speech had been intended as a signal to the Obama administration

“Russia has been warning the international community for many months that we would have to react,” Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told reporters ahead of an EU-Russia summit Friday in Nice, France. “I don’t want to prejudge any decision that President-elect Obama will be taking, but I believe it’s best for him to know what to expect from Russia in case this decision is taken.”

An American official said separately that the U.S. and Russia will begin talks Thursday on finding a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires at the end of next year.

The official said the talks will take place in the U.S. and Russian diplomatic missions in Geneva and last until Nov. 21.

The 1991 START treaty significantly cut U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

The official spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to be quoted by name.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said the U.S. State Department’s third-ranked official, William Burns, met with Lavrov and Kremlin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko Wednesday for discussions on various subjects, including talks on missile defense that would take place next month. No further details were released.

_____

Associated Press Writers Slobodan Lekic in Brussels and Bradley S. Klapper in Geneva contributed to this report.

Obama remarks on nuclear issue under fire in Iran

November 8, 2008

Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani on Saturday slammed US president-elect Barack Obama for saying its pursuit of nuclear weapons was “unacceptable,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

“This signifies a pursuit of the same erroneous policy as in the past,” Larijani said when asked about Obama’s comment on Friday.

Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani has slammed US president-elect ...
Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani has slammed US president-elect Barack Obama for saying Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was “unacceptable”.(AFP/Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)

“If the United States wants to change its standing in the region it should send good signals,” he said.

“Obama understands that change does not only mean a change of colour and superficial differences, change must also have a strategic basis,” the agency quoted Larijani as saying.

Obama told his first news conference since winning the US presidential election on Tuesday that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was unacceptable and also that he would “respond appropriately” to a congratulatory letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.”

Obama added that “Iran’s support of terrorist organisations, I think, is something that has to cease.”

AFP

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens during a meeting ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens during a meeting in Tehran in October 2008. Obama said on Friday that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was “unacceptable” and he would “respond appropriately” to a congratulatory letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Iran: In Infamous Torture Prison is American Studying Women’s Rights

November 5, 2008

Iranian-U.S. student Esha Momeni, who has been held behind bars in Tehran since mid-October, is accused of a security offense in the Islamic republic, the judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.

AFP

“Her accusation is an offense against (national) security. Her file is at the preliminary stage of investigation,” Alireza Jamshidi said at a weekly press briefing.

He said Momeni was being held at Tehran’s Evin prison.

Last month, her lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told AFP that she was arrested on Oct. 15 for her involvement with a women’s rights equality campaign.

Momeni, a graduate student at the Northridge campus of California State University, had traveled to Iran to carry out research for her thesis on women’s rights, the lawyer said.

He said she holds both Iranian and U.S. nationality.

Over the past year Iran has arrested several women involved with a One- Million-Signature campaign, launched two years ago to call for changes to Iranian laws deemed discriminatory to women.

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Tehran skyline may 2007.jpg
Skyline of Tehran, Iran

Al-Maliki stressing US departure from Iraq

November 1, 2008

Iraq’s prime minister is pushing the idea that the U.S. departure is in sight in a bid to sell the security deal with Washington to Iran.

To reinforce the message, the Iraqis are asking for changes to the deal that would effectively rule out extending the U.S. military presence beyond 2011.

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allies are also describing the agreement not as a formula for long-term U.S.-Iraqi security cooperation — the original goal when the talks began earlier this year — but as a way to manage the U.S. withdrawal.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, pictured here in May 2008, ... 
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, pictured here in May 2008, said on Friday he will submit the text of the controversial security pact with the United States to all of his country’s neighbours.(AFP/File/Qassem Zein)

It’s unclear whether this will be enough to win over the Iranians and Iraqi critics — or whether the U.S. will go along with the demands submitted by the Iraqi Cabinet this week.

The Iraqis want expanded Iraqi jurisdiction over U.S. troops and elimination of a clause that could allow the soldiers to stay past a tentative Dec. 31, 2011 deadline.

Iran strongly opposes the agreement, fearing it could lead to U.S. troops remaining in a neighboring country indefinitely.

With Iranian sensitivities in mind, the Iraqis also want an explicit ban on the U.S. using Iraqi territory to attack its neighbors — a demand that was reinforced by last Sunday’s U.S. raid against a suspected al-Qaida hideout in Syria.

If Washington won’t bend, key Iraqi politicians believe the deal will never win parliament’s approval. U.S. diplomats are studying the proposals.

But some U.S. officials in Washington have privately expressed doubts about chances to reach an agreement before the U.N. mandate authorizing the U.S. mission expires at the end of next month.

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