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August 12, 2008

Iran News Summary: August 11, 2008:::

The following daily news summary is provided courtesty of our coaltion partners at the Open Society Institute . . .

Iran nuclear work will go on: Ahmadinejad, AFP, August 11, 2008

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday told visiting Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that Tehran will press on with its nuclear programme, despite the risk of fresh sanctions. “They’ve deeply understood that Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme will never be halted and of course they have no choice but to keep on talking to Iran,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling Bouteflika. “Despite threats and sanctions by a number of big powers, our nation is robust and is continuing living its own life as they cannot put obstacles in the path of our progress,” Ahmadinejad added, according to the state run television website. Bouteflika on Sunday started a visit to Iran at the head of a high-level political and economic team of ministers. LINK

An Israeli Strike on Iran, a Plan That Just Doesn’t Fly, by Bernard Avishai and Reza Aslan, Washington Post, August 10, 2008

The Bush administration seems less and less likely to launch a parting strike on Iran’s nuclear installations — but Israel isn’t sounding nearly so tranquil. The talk from Jerusalem will almost certainly grow more strident as the competition to replace the country’s scandal-plagued prime minister, Ehud Olmert, intensifies. Former Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz is running hard against the less hawkish Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to succeed Olmert as leader of the governing Kadima Party; he recently told Israel’s dominant daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, that an attack on Iran was “unavoidable.” And Binyamin Netanyahu, the right-wing opposition leader who might well beat either Livni or Mofaz in a general election, is also likely to think seriously about a preventive Israeli raid. LINK

EU tightens sanctions on Iran over nuclear program, Associated Press, August 9, 2008

BRUSSELS: The European Union tightened trade sanctions against Iran Friday for defying a long-standing international demand to freeze uranium enrichment. The new EU restrictions go slightly beyond existing U.N. trade sanctions and are designed to deny public loans or export credits to companies trading with Iran. France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said European governments would also carefully watch financial groups doing business with Iranian banks and step up checks on ships and airplanes traveling to Iran. “This resolution expands the range of restrictive measures adopted by the U.N. Security Council,” an EU statement said. It called on member nations to “show restraint when granting new public loans for trade with Iran … (and) to also be vigilant on activities taken by financial institutions with banks based in Iran.” LINK

Iran unmoved on nuclear stance in face of sanctions, Reuters, August 10, 2008

TEHRAN: Iran will not back down on its nuclear stance despite the threat of tighter sanctions, Iranian media quoted a government spokesman as saying on Sunday. Britain, France, Germany and the United States are considering imposing sanctions that go beyond existing U.N. measures against Tehran over its nuclear programme, a British diplomat said on Friday. Western powers fear Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb, while Tehran says it seeks to master nuclear technology for electricity. “Our stance would not change with sanctions or the threat of sanctions,” the students news agency ISNA reported spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as saying. LINK

Iran says to pursue nuclear talks with EU, Reuters, August 11, 2008

Iran said on Monday it has agreed with the EU to continue talks aimed at resolving the nuclear crisis but again insisted it will press on with contested work despite the threat of more sanctions. Top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili spoke by phone with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the pointman for six major powers which have offered Iran an incentives package in return for a freeze in uranium enrichment activities. Their talks came just days after European Union nations last week introduced fresh sanctions against Iran over its atomic drive, which Western nations fear could be a cover for a secret nuclear weapons programme. LINK

A Not-So-Diplomatic Turn,, August 11, 2008

Hawks in both Washington and Tel Aviv have for some time been calling for a series of “targeted air strikes” against Iranian nuclear facilities and Revolutionary Guard positions in and around the country. Proponents of a unilateral attack claim Iran is less than two years away from achieving a nuclear weapons capability and that Iran is fomenting unrest and providing succor to Iraqi insurgents. With more than a tad of irony, it appears that Iran has emerged as Washington and Tel Aviv’s “Great Satan,” the puppet-master who pulls all the strings and is responsible for every act of malfeasance not matter how big or small. Shaul Mofaz, the current Israeli deputy prime minister, transport minister, and Kadima Party leadership contender, has gone so far as to dub Iran the “root of all evil.” Sober and dispassionate talk, the kind that makes diplomacy and negotiation possible, seems to be in short supply. LINK

Iran Sunni rebels kill 2 hostages, abduct 3, Reuters, August 11, 2008

Iranian Sunni rebels holding a group of policemen hostage said they have killed two of them and also abducted three Revolutionary Guards officers, Al Arabiya television reported on Monday. Arabiya, citing a spokesman of Jundollah (God’s Soldiers), said the rebels killed the two men after “the failure of contacts between the Iranian government and Jundollah”. Jundollah, which the government of Shi’ite-dominated Iran has accused of having links to al Qaeda, abducted 16 policemen in June and has already killed at least four of them.

Oil vulnerable as OPEC supply cushion thins – Iran, Reuters, August 11, 2008

Rising OPEC output has cut the group’s spare capacity and left the oil market vulnerable to any surprise supply disruptions, Iran’s OPEC governor said on Sunday. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pumped more oil for the third consecutive month in July, helping to bring prices down $30 from a peak above $147 a barrel to a three-month low on Friday. Rising OPEC output has coincided with a fall in demand from top energy consumer the United States, hit by an ailing economy and soaring pump prices. “The drop in oil price has come at the expense of supply security,” Iran’s OPEC Governor Muhammad Ali Khatibi told Reuters by telephone. Consuming countries benefiting from the price fall should be aware that it could easily be reversed by any surprise supply outages, he said.

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