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« The Latest from Iran (5 October): The Difficulty of Signals | Main | Video and Transcript: US Ambassador to UN Rice on NBC (4 October) »

The Latest from Iran (4 October): Waiting for Developments

NEW Iran: Rafsanjani Makes A Public Move with “Friendship Principles”
NEW Video: Sharif Uni Protest Against Javad Larijani (4 October)
You Make the Call: Leaked IAEA Report on Iran Nuclear Programme
The Latest from Iran (3 October): Debating Mousavi’s Strategy

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1705 GMT: Establishment Battles Resume? Parleman News is claiming that supporters of President Ahmadinejad have tried --- and failed --- to unseat Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani as the head of the Principlist majority group. If true, this could be a sign that the temporary reconciliation of conservative and principlist factions, prominent at the start of September with the approval of the Ahmadinejad Cabinet, may be breaking down.

And that in turn raises the question: is this split being fostered by the imminence of a National Unity Plan which may seek to marginalise Ahmadinejad?

1640 GMT: We think Hashemi Rafsanjani's statement, which we noted here earlier, is important enough to warrant a separate entry.

1625 GMT: The Unity Gesture? EA's Mr Smith predicted that this step would occur in the Supreme Leader's speech at the end of Ramadan on 20 September. Looks like he was only two weeks off: "Iran is to release on bail around 20 people accused of post-election violence, including top reformists and an Iranian-American scholar."

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, citing a source inside Iran's judiciary, those who may be freed include former Vice President Mohammed Ali Abtahi, journalist Mohammad Atrianfar, reformist leaders Shahab Tabatabaei, Saeed Shariati and Abdollah Momeni, and Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh.

1430 GMT: Pointless Analysis of Day. A Jeffrey Kuhner, the declared President of the "Edmund Burke Institute", is allowed to take up space in The Washington Times with this: "War with Iran is now inevitable. The only question is: Will it happen sooner or later?"

1240 GMT: Good Cop, Bad Cop. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has provided the critical counterpoint to the positive signals from this morning's briefing by IAEA head Mohammad El-Baradei (0905-0920 GMT):
The [IAEA] is an international authority which should supervise all nuclear activities of states, but the agency's records indicate that it was not successful in this regard for political reasons. The agency acted successfully with regard to nuclear activities in certain places like Japan, but it bowed [to pressure] where it faced political barriers and proved unsuccessful.

The head of Iran's nuclear programme, Ali Akhbar Salehi, sounded a different tune after his press conference with El Baradei. Confirming the late October inspection date for the second enrichment plant and discusions on "third-party enrichment", he said, “As far as safeguards are concerned, Iran's nuclear issue has been fully resolved."

1200 GMT: Report that two members of the reformist student group Daftar-Tahkim-Vahdat (Unity Consolidation Bureau) are still in Evin Prison, with 16 released yesterday. Original reports were that there were 15 detainees, and all were freed.

0920 GMT: El Baradei calls for Iran to rejoin the Subsidiary Protocol (Code 3.1) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which provides a stricter framework for inspection and monitoring. Iran left the Protocol in 2007 after a dispute with the IAEA over access to information on military programmes as well as the nuclear facilities.

0915 GMT: El Baradei says, "All in all, a positive development," but he reiterates, "I have been saying for a number of years we need transparency on the part of Iran and cooperation on the part of the international community." This is "the critical moment...shifting gears from confrontation into transparency and co-operation".

0910 GMT: El Baradei praises Iran "very positive" response on both the question of access to the second enrichment facility and "third-party enrichment" of low-grade uranium for radiomedicine use.

The date for inspections of the facility near Qom is 25 October.

0905 GMT: IAEA head El Baradei and the head of Iran's nuclear programme, Ali Akhbar Salehi, are now briefing the press on their discussions in Tehran.

0620 GMT: There is little information on the biggest story in Iran because talks on the draft National Unity Plan have gone very private. For example, little has been heard from Mehdi Karroubi, for a week, possibly because discretion is needed in this critical period of negotiations.

There is also little so far on the visit of International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammad El Baradei to Tehran beyond the Iranian insistence that this has nothing to do with the Geneva talks and is instead aimed at the "continuation of cooperation to supply fuel for Tehran research reactor which produces radiomedicine".

We are left instead with overheated "revelations" on Iran's nuclear programme. Once again, it's David Sanger and William Sanger of The New York Times who are leading the rush with the headline, "Report Says Iran Has Data to Make a Nuclear Bomb", soon picked up by everyone from Reuters to Fox News. The report in question, a study by IAEA experts, says that "sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device based upon HEU [highly-enriched uranium] as the fission fuel".

Now note that this does not mean that Iran has embarked on the process of putting highly-enriched uranium into a warhead. It does not indicate that Iran has embarked on the process of converted low-yield uranium into highly-enriched uranium. It does not establish that Iran has enough low-yield uranium to produce the HEU for a Bomb. It does not even say that Iran has a design for a nuclear weapon. It only says Iran has "sufficient information".

This, however, is enough for Broad and Sanger to pretend that this is a dramatic revelation of a super-secret plot, as the information "go[es] well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the United States". And it is the platform for them to take a swipe at El Baradei for refusing to make the study public.

Heck, the extracts from the study are not even "new". They were revealed in an Associated Press article by George Jahn on 17 September. What is significant is the timing of the Broad-Sanger piece, published less than 72 hours after the Geneva talks. If they really wanted to give us some meaningful information, they would reveal whether their Page 1 quest started with a reading of the Jahn piece, notice of a 2 October report by the Institute for Science and International Security (which mentioned Jahn's article and published extracts of the IAEA report, but which is only mentioned deep in The New York Times piece --- we've posted full text in a separate entry), or  a helpful pointer from an Administration source.

It's perfect fodder for bang-the-war-drum headcases like Elliott Abrams, the former Deputy National Security Advisor under George W. Bush and convicted criminal in the Iran-Contra scandal. Here's Abrams explaining that "most Iranians" would accept a military attack on their country:


Reader Comments (10)

I hate to say this but I have heard the call for targeted strike from Iranians who call a radios station I tune in. This, however, in the absence of statistically significant sample size is anecdotal data at best. I am not sure what kind of data Elliot Abrams have at his disposal to state “Most Iranians”.

I say about 90% of callers are for tough sanctions or military strike. Those who say they will take military strike want to see damage to specific targets, e.g. Pasdaran, Revolutionary Guard, and Basiji infrastructure. It is hard to know which cross section of the population callers represent but they are from different cities in Iran. Calls are filled with raw emotions and it is hard not to be moved by it.

It may be hard for those of us who are so far away to understand or feel the sense of desperation no matter how hard we try. After listening to a few calls, for me it brought back the images of people jumping from World Trade Center Tower on September 11, images that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

October 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

"Nukes aside, the real problem with Iran
The country is emerging as a regional power. Is the West ready for that?"

This article takes at look at how the present consequences of the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1989, the 1991 Gulf War, and Yitzak Rabin's victory in the 1992 Israeli elections mean Obama is not facing just the issue of Iran's nuclear program. It explains how this program is part of a more substantive and sensitive issue at the heart of the Iranian approach to negotiations and says, nuclear weapons issue apart, the problem is whether Israel and the US are able to come to terms with an Iran that is, and will be, a preeminent power in the region.

October 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Mr Abrams, Americans not only rally around their flag when attacked, they invade countries that had nothing to do with it pursuing an insane Wilsonian John Wayne vision of how the world should be.

October 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

All the articles in Reuters, Washington times and others are "intellectual masturbations" (french expression) ; there will be no war in Iran but what I am sure, as soon as, there will be a big change of the leaders in the country !!!

October 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

Look beyond the nukes, y'all...

The article Catherine cited admonishes President Obama to look beyond Iran's nukes and to recognize the country's significance in the Middle East as a whole. He has been all along. The author raised several issues that are consistent with the case for engagement that President Obama set forth in his campaign. The article goes into specifics not addressed in stump speeches, but Obama's strategy is regional, not local and Iran plays an integral role.

His goal is to develop a working relationship with the govt of Iran. It is politically impossible to begin engagement without addressing the nuclear issue. During the campaign, Obama took the standard hard line about the nukes, but he also talked about engagement. What does engagement mean to him? His general approach is to look for patches of common ground where both parties have something to gain by working together. He specifically mentioned regional stability and international organized crime. The govt of Iran picked up on those 2 areas of common ground in Iran's proposal for engagement released before the G5+1/Iran talks were announced.

In referring to regional stability, President Obama included Iran's immediate neighbors, Iraq & Afghanistan. Also he said that Iran is important to the Middle East peace process, not just because of the nukes, but also because of it's military presence & it's influence via Hezbollah and Hamas.

Nothing that's going on in this process is pretty. President Obama has a high tolerance for things looking ugly and messy– much higher than I could handle. He is getting what he wants: engagement. People here consider him to be short-sighted, but he is playing a long game,.. not 11-dimensional ninja chess-- he’s not prescient of all contingencies, but he’s hardly reeling from crisis to crisis. His goal hasn't changed, but the strategy has to be adapted to changing political realities. It's not a tidy process to watch.

Who won last week misses the point. In order to continue engagement, all parties need to go home looking like they gained something & got the better of those wimps on the other side of the table. Everybody leaves looking both skillful and inept.

The Iranian regime is systematically denying each agreement the West proclaimed. I'm shocked... shocked. Who's right? Both, neither? The State Dept press secretary didn't get the memo. What are we to think? ...

In baseball, the wily pitcher is effectively wild. The ball whizzes past the batter's head. Is that pitcher out of control? Or was he aiming at my head? The batter is distracted. The fans debate… is that guy ready for the big leagues? Was it intentional? Only the pitcher and the catcher know for sure. What President Obama is aiming for can't necessarily be deduced by looking at where the ball ends up. It's a waste of time to triumphantly pounce on every inconsistency as evidence of President Obama's incompetence in the negotiations.

CNN" rel="nofollow">reported

U.S. Undersecretary of State Bill Burns had a rare one-on-one meeting with his counterpart, Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili, where they discussed among other things human rights.

The 45-minute meeting was described as a “sidebar” and didn’t involve substantial negotiation of the issues, but it was the first genuine indication that Iran is taking President Obama up on his offer of engagement.

As Scott reported yesterday, that Saeed Jalili denied that the meeting took place. I don't believe him. We are talking.

If you'll indulge me, with a new government, over time, I can envision Iran moving into a role of true regional leadership not based on flexing military muscle. If we ever get past this nuke thing...

[sorry I repeated part of yesterday's post... still a lot of effort. hope this comment is of interest ;) ]

October 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

New commander of Basij appointed. Good move to place the Basij under closer military command. This is all in line with Jafari's reorganization of Pasdaran and Basij which started in 2007.

"The leader appointed Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi on Sunday to replace the cleric Hossein Ta'eb as the new commander of the Basij force."

Leader appoints new IRGC commanders
Sun, 04 Oct 2009 23:30:34 GMT
Font size :

Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has appointed a number of new commanders at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

The leader appointed Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi on Sunday to replace the cleric Hossein Ta'eb as the new commander of the Basij force.

Brigadier Mohammad Hossein-Zadeh Hejazi has also been appointed by the leader to serve as the new commander of the Logistics of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Hossein Salami has been promoted to deputy commander of the IRGC.

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh has also been named as the new commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force.



Of course the above changes tie in extremely well with this:

Iran Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia merger
Report Source: Radio Zamaneh

Iranian dailies report of imminent plans to merge the Basij Resistance force with the land force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Etemad daily reports that the assimilation of the paramilitary organization of Basij into the Revolutionary Guards will form a new force called the "Land Resistance Force of the Revolutionary Guards."

Mehr news agency announced that the Revolutionary Guards are once more in the process of re-structuring their organization. "Greater coordination" has been cited as the aim of the Basij and the Guards merger. The command system of Basij and the Revolutionary Guards also merged last year. Mohammad Ali Jafari, Revolutionary Guards chief commander, claimed the merger was a first step in preparation for "confrontation with internal threats."

October 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSamuel

1705 GMT:
wow-- which is more intriguing, that AN tried or that he failed?

October 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy


Iranian dailies report of imminent plans to merge the Basij Resistance force with the land force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps

You really know how to creep a person out at bedtime.

All I can say is that it's very interesting timing for this announcement.

October 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

[...] Enduring America, Scott Lucas says the article falls short of proving any real threat: The report in question, a study by IAEA experts, says that “sufficient information to be able to [...]

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December 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhlirxp hlirxp

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