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 Sunday, February 05, 2006

IRAN's Brinkmanship on Nuclear Issue


  • Demonstrators set fire to the Danish consulate in Beirut on Sunday in a protest against cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad which were first published by a Danish newspaper. About 2,000 Lebanese staged a massive demonstration outside the Danish consulate in Beirut. Read here for more

    Other Breaking News

  • Two newspapers in New Zealand yesterday - The Dominion Post in Wellington and The Press in Christchurch, printed the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. The damage here from any boycott could run to more than $100 million, Newstalk ZB estimated. More than half of that is in exports of butter, while about a quarter is made up of other dairy products and wool. Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst could not be contacted for comment today, but he is quoted on the paper's website saying it is all about freedom of speech, and it is important for readers to make up their own minds. He denies the newspaper is going out of its way to cause offence. Mr Pankhurst says we live in a secular society based on tolerance and open debate, even if that may occasionally offend. But that line does not wash with Muslim dairy owner, Patel, who says he is not selling the Dominion Post newspaper today. The New Zealand Herald will not comment on whether it will publish the cartoonsRead here for more

  • In September, when the conservative Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed depicted as a terrorist, angry Arab ambassadors in Copenhagen requested a meeting with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. They were demanding severe punishment of those responsible, as well as an official apology from the Danish government. Rasmussen refused to see them, arguing that the Danish government doesn't interfere with the press. By the time Rasmussen was forced to change his tune Friday demonstrators across the Islamic world were burning the Danish flag, besieging Danish and other European embassies, and threatening violence.The Danish paper's editorial motives in commissioning the cartoons in the first place have raised some eyebrows among media critics. The idea was apparently to test how freedom of expression has been affected by public sensitivity to Islamic issues.Read here for more

  • Demonstrators in the Syrian capital set fire to the building that houses the Norwegian and Danish embassies.The attacks on the embassies of Denmark, Sweden and Norway were the most violent so far of the protests against the caricatures.No diplomats were reported injured in the attacks, but Norway and Denmark called on their citizens to leave Syria amid the spiraling tensions.Read here for more

  • Some 700 people took to the streets on Saturday outside the Danish Embassy in London over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, following Friday's protests, which drew hundreds of Muslims in central London. A speaker called on leaders of the Muslim world to sever contact with European governments until they have "controlled the media", Sky news reported.Some protesters called for more atrocities like the July 7 bombings, while others burnt the Danish flag.Read here for more

  • Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on Muslims to accept the apologies of the Danish government and a newspaper that published cartoons satirizing Islam's prophet Muhammad, while condemning the drawings as insensitive to Muslims' beliefs. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi condemned the publication of the drawings today, while urging Malaysians to stay calm, the Associated Press reported. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani yesterday called the publication of the cartoons a sign of ``wrath against the greatness of Muslims.'' Rafsanjani called however for a ``compassionate'' reaction. Read here for more

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    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered an end to snap inspection on its nuclear facilities from Sunday in reaction to the UN nuclear watchdog's decision to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, state television announced late Saturday.

    In a letter to chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Ahmadinejad ordered an end to the implementation of the additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as of Sunday, the report said.

    "As of Sunday, the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol and other cooperative measures beyond the NPT must be suspended according to the law," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

    Ahmadinejad's order was issued shortly after an emergency meeting of IAEA board of governors adopted a resolution to report Iran's nuclear issue to the UN Security Council.

    The additional protocol, signed by the Iranian government in December 2003 but never ratified by the Iranian Majlis (Parliament), allows snap inspections of nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    The Majlis passed a law last November which requires the government to cease all voluntary confidence-building measures including implementation of the additional protocol if the country's nuclear case were referred to the UN Security Council.

    Ahmadinejad said that Iran would press on with research and development of nuclear technology and get ready to use it for peaceful purposes.

    However, he did not definitely mention the resumption of uranium enrichment, just promising that all peaceful nuclear activities would be carried out within the framework of the IAEA regulations, the NPT clauses and the Safeguard Agreement.

    The hardline president said the IAEA's resolution was adopted under the pressure of certain countries and did not have any legal justification.

    Dispute over Iran's nuclear program has intensified since Tehran resumed nuclear fuel research on Jan. 10, regardless of warnings of the European Union (EU) which has been negotiating with Iran in the past two years but broke off the talks after Iran restarted uranium conversion, a precursor to enriching uranium into fuel, last August.

    Javad Vaeedi, deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and chief delegate to the IAEA meeting, said after the adoption of the resolution that Iran would no longer consider a Russian proposal to move Iran's uranium enrichment to Russia to prevent Iran from acquiring materials for making nuclear weapons.

    Tehran suspended all activities related to uranium enrichment in November 2004 to pave the way for negotiations with the EU trio of Britain, France and Germany.

    The United States has accused Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons and the EU has been persuading Iran to give up uranium enrichment which can be used to fuel power plant or make atom bomb under certain conditions.

    But Iran rejected the charge and insisted that its nuclear program is fully for peaceful purposes and aimed at meeting rising domestic demand for electricity.

    Without snap inspections, the IAEA's ability to monitor Iranian nuclear activities will be severely impaired, a blow to its safeguards regime under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Western leaders have rejected Iranian threats to end spot IAEA inspections as "blackmail" and said this would not deter efforts to have Iran clear up suspicions that it seeks to build atomic bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme. Read here for more

    The Vote in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

    The 35-member board of governors of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency today passed the resolution 27-3 with five abstentions. All Permanent FIVE Security Council m embers

    India voted in favour of reporting Iran to the Security Council.

    The three opponents, predictably, were Syria, Cuba and Venezuela.

    Indonesia, Belarus, Algeria, South Africa and Libya made themselves scarce.

    The vote showed a clear divide in the non-aligned camp, with India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Ecuador, Colombia, Ghana, Egypt and Yemen saying YES.
    Of the board’s three Arab members, Egypt and Yemen voted in favour of the resolution.

    The IAEA session was called by the EU-3 to report Iran to the Security Council for violating provisions of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and for lack of confidence that its nuclear programme had no weapons component.

    The issues were reflected in the resolution but, at the same time, it also asked the Security Council NOT to take any punitive action against Iran until the IAEA director-general presented his report on 6 March.

    This was a concession to Russia and China, who had supported the EU-3 and the USA in a joint statement released by foreign ministers in London on 31 January.

    The support by made it easier for the UPA government to explain to India’s Communists its endorsement of the resolution. Read here for more

    Time-Lines in Iran's Stand Off with the West

    Key dates in the West's standoff with Iran over its suspect nuclear program:

    February-May 2003:
    International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors examine nuclear facilities in Iran, which the United States accuses of running a covert weapons program.

    June 2003:
    IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei says Iran kept certain nuclear materials and activities secret.

    November 2003:
    The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says Iran acknowledged it produced weapons-grade uranium but there is no evidence a weapon was built.

    December 2003:
    Iran formally signs the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to allow more intrusive inspections.

    February 2004:
    Media reports say Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan delivered atomic weapons technology to Iran.

    March 2004:
    The IAEA praises Iran's cooperation but criticizes past efforts to mislead the U.N. and urges Tehran to disclose all information concerning its nuclear program by June.

    September 2004:
    Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iran's nuclear program is a growing threat and calls for international sanctions.

    November 2004:
    Iran announces the suspension of uranium enrichment and related activities amid fragile negotiations with European nations.

    August 2005:
    Iran rejects a European Union offer of incentives in exchange for guarantees it will not pursue nuclear weaponry. Tehran announces it has resumed uranium conversion at Isfahan, and the IAEA calls an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis.

    Sept. 17, 2005:
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells U.N. Security Council it is Iran's "inalienable right" to produce nuclear fuel and rejects European offer of economic incentives to halt enrichment program.

    Sept. 24, 2005:
    IAEA passes resolution calling Iran's nuclear program "illegal and illogical" and puts Tehran one step away from Security Council action on sanctions.

    Nov. 11, 2005:
    Plans emerge for Russian offer to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian soil.

    Nov. 24, 2005:
    The European Union accuses Iran of possessing documents used solely for the production of nuclear arms, warns of possible referral to Security Council.

    Jan. 10, 2006:
    Iran removes U.N. seals from nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, effectively ending a freeze on the process that can produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

    Jan. 18, 2006:
    Europe, backed by the United States, rejects Iran's request for talks on its nuclear program, while Ahmadinejad accuses the West of acting like the "lord of the world" in denying his country the peaceful use of the atom.

    Jan. 31, 2006:
    The United States and other permanent Security Council members agree that Iran should be brought before the Security Council, which has the ability to impose sanctions or take other harsh action.

    Feb. 2, 2006:
    IAEA's 35-nation board begins deliberating Iran's referral.

    Feb. 4, 2006:
    IAEA board votes to report Iran to the Security Council. Tehran vows to immediately start work on full-scale uranium enrichment and curtail agency's inspection powers in Iran

    Source: AP Press

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