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August 14, 2008

Iran News Summary: August 12 & 13, 2008

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

Resistance pays off, says Iran’s Khamenei, Reuters, August 12, 2008

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that resistance by nations against major world powers pays off, state television reported. “People and their government’s resistance and their demanding their rights will bear fruit,” Khamenei said during a meeting with visiting Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the report said. During Bouteflika’s visit, Tehran and Algiers inked separate agreements on avoiding double taxation and customs cooperation as well as a memorandum of understanding for banking cooperation, the television said. On Monday, Bouteflika met with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said Tehran would press on with its nuclear programme despite the risk of fresh sanctions. LINK

Algeria Supports Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Power, APS Says, Bloomburg,August 12, 2008

Iran has the legitimate right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful and civil needs, like any other signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Algerie Presse Service said, citing Algeria’s President. Abdelaziz Bouteflika spoke at a dinner held in his honor in Tehran by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, APS said. Iran and Algeria hold the world’s second and sixth-largest gas reserves, and are both members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Algeria seeks to build a nuclear plant in 10 years, the country’s Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said July 1. LINK

US blacklists five Iranian entities citing nuclear, missile ties, AFP, August 12, 2008

The US Treasury said Tuesday that it had imposed sanctions on five Iranian entities for alleged ties to the country’s nuclear and missile programs. The five entities were identified as the Nuclear Research Center for Agriculture and Medicine, the Esfahan National Fuel Research and Production Center, Jabber Ibn Hayan, Safety Equipment Procurement Company and Joza Industrial Company. “These five nuclear and missile entities have been used by Iran to hide its illicit conduct and further its dangerous nuclear ambitions,” Levey charged. The sanctions bar any US citizen from business dealings with the Iranian groups and also freezes any assets the groups may have under US jurisdiction. LINK

Buildup to the Next War, New York Times, August 8, 2008

If Israel decides to stage an attack on Iran, would the United States try to stop it? Conventional wisdom holds that Israel’s long-range bombers would need to refuel in the air above Iraq, which would require American acquiescence. The Israelis might rationally gamble that when push came to shove, the U.S. would turn a blind eye. After all, in the beady-eyed but inexorable logic of international security affairs, the Israelis know that the U.S. knows that Iran knows that it would be a bad move to go after the U.S. in retaliation for an Israeli attack. Any Iranian movement against U.S. assets would give President Bush just about the only domestically viable political excuse for bombing Iran that is possible to imagine. Because that would put Iran at war with the United States, not just Israel, Iran might choose to hold back. LINK

Turkey walks tightrope over Iran ties, Reuters, August 12, 2008

A visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Turkey on Thursday reflects a desire by the NATO member to remain on good terms with an unpredictable neighbor and secure future energy needs. President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have come under criticism at home and abroad for inviting Ahmadinejad, a visit that marks a diplomatic coup for the firebrand leader who has been shunned by European countries. “Although Turkey doesn’t like the present regime it has always tried to keep Iranians both at bay and collaborate with them. It is an extremely delicate balancing act and it will continue to be so,” said Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University. LINK

Iran and EU in new nuclear contact but no change, Reuters, August 11, 2008

Iran’s National Security Council said negotiator Saeed Jalili and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana agreed to continue their talks. However, an official in Solana’s office gave a more downbeat account of the conversation, saying: “Nothing has changed. We stick to the two-track approach. The channels of communication remain open.” Asked what he meant by a two-track approach, the EU official said: “On the one side, pressure for sanctions in the United Nations Security Council, but also the offer of dialogue, for the Iranians to come to the table to discuss the package (of incentives) which has been proposed to them.” Iran’s government spokesman said on Sunday the country would not change its nuclear stance in the face of new sanctions. LINK

America’s Israeli-Occupied Media,, August 12, 2008

There should be little doubt that the Israeli government is making every effort to jump-start a war against Iran sooner rather than later. Many Israelis not surprisingly believe it is in their interest to convince the United States to attack Iran so that Israel will not have to do it, and they are hell-bent on bringing that about. Unfortunately, their efforts are being aided and abetted by a U.S. mainstream media that is unwilling to ask any hard questions or challenge the assumptions of the Israeli government. Israeli intellectuals such as Benny Morris have been provided a platform to argue implausibly that a little war is necessary right now to prevent a larger nuclear conflict. The repeated visits to Washington by Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to pressure Washington to commit to a military option are generally unreported in the U.S. media, and no one is asking why the United States should be involved in what is clearly a “wag the dog” scenario. LINK

Iranian VP summoned by parliament after saying Iran a friend of Israel, U.S., Haaretz,August 12, 2008

Iranian Vice President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei has been summoned by parliament for having made pro-Israeli comments, ISNA news agency reported Tuesday. The cultural commission of the parliament has called for a special session on Wednesday with Rahim-Mashaei for him to reply to “questions, ambiguities and criticism” by the deputies over the comments. The reaction by the parliament and Larijani was surprising as the Vice President’s remarks are in line with the stance of Iran’s Islamic system, which distinguishes peoples from governments, including political arch-foes Israel and the United States. LINK

U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for attack on Iran nuclear facilities, Haaretz, August 13, 2008

The American-Israeli dispute over a military strike against Iran erupted during Bush’s visit to Jerusalem in May. At the time, Bush held a private meeting on the Iranian threat with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the Israelis presented their request for certain specific items of military equipment, along with diplomatic and security backing. Following Bush’s return to Washington, the administration studied Israel’s request, and this led it to suspect that Israel was planning to attack Iran within the next few months. The Americans therefore decided to send a strong message warning it not to do so. LINK

US against strike on Iran: Israeli defence minister, AFP, August 13, 2008

The United States is at present opposed to any military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday. “The position of the United States is well known. They do not want, for the time being, any (military) action against Iran,” Barak told army radio. “Our position is that no option is to be taken off the table but in the meantime we have to make diplomatic progress,” he said. LINK

More Sanctions Sought On Iran, VOA, August 13, 2008

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iran’s refusal to comply with Security Council mandates concerning its nuclear program has exposed Iran to isolation, isolation that is affecting Iran’s economy. Iran’s leaders, said Secretary of State Rice, should have felt that time was running out on this issue a long time ago. “When you are under [U.N.] Chapter Seven resolutions, when you are having trouble getting banks to come in, getting investment, when export credits are going down from around the world, when you have inflation roaring,” said Secretary of State Rice, “time is running out.” LINK

Influential Iran cleric slams Ahmadinejad on economy, Reuters, August 13, 2008

Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a political rival of Ahmadinejad, said the president had failed to carry out Article 44 of Iran’s post-revolution constitution, which calls for the privatization of the state-dominated economy. The law decreed that core infrastructure must remain in the hands of the state. “The government has become a major employer, causing a lot of economic problems for the country,” said Rafsanjani, a top adviser to Iran’s most powerful figure, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. LINK

Iran MPs round on Ahmadinejad aide over pro-Israeli remarks, AFP, August 13, 2008

More than 200 conservative Iranian lawmakers lashed out on Wednesday at a top aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his controversial remarks that Iranians are “friends with Israelis.” The MPs issued a strongly-worded statement calling on Ahmadinejad to take action against his deputy, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie. Rahim Mashaie, vice president in charge of tourism, is one of Ahmadinejad’s closest allies and earlier this year his daughter married the president’s son. LINK

Ahmadinejad in new Israel tirade before Turkey trip, Reuters, August 13, 2008

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a fresh verbal attack on Israel on Wednesday on the eve of a visit to Israel’s close ally Turkey, saying Western countries should not support the Jewish state. “Western countries should not support them (Israel) so much. The life of this regime has come to an end,” Ahmadinejad said in comments translated into Turkish in a live interview broadcast by Turkey’s NTV and CNN Turk channels. “Our position is clear on this issue. A referendum should take place in Palestine. If they withdraw from invaded lands it would be a good step,” he said. Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have come under criticism at home and abroad for inviting Ahmadinejad. LINK

Oil Rises $2 After Bigger-Than-Expected Gasoline Supply Decline, Bloomburg, August 13, 2008

Crude oil futures rose more than $2 a barrel in New York after a U.S. Energy Department report showed a bigger-than-forecast decline in inventories of gasoline as refiners shut units and imports fell. U.S. fuel demand averaged 20.2 million barrels a day during the past four weeks, down 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the department said. Gasoline consumption averaged 9.4 million barrels a day over the period, down 1.9 percent from a year ago. Prices have slipped more than $30 from a record $147.27 on July 11 amid signs that U.S. fuel demand is falling because of record pump prices and a slowing economy. “We’re not going to see a $145 level again until we have world economics vastly improve,” said James Cordier, portfolio manager at in Tampa, Florida. LINK

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