Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rice: IAEA report bosters case for Sanctions against Iran nuclear program

What is happening: Iran is defying the UN, and diplomats are finding ways of papering it over.
Last update - 02:22 23/02/2008       
Rice: UN nuclear watchdog report bolsters case for tighter Iran sanctions
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
The United States wants quick action to punish Iran for refusing to roll back its disputed nuclear program, and a new report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog strengthens the case for additional sanctions, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.
The report, released Friday by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed that Iran has continued to enrich uranium in defiance of repeated UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it suspend the uranium centrifuge program, which could produce both civilian nuclear fuel and the material for a nuclear bomb.
Tehran insists it is interested only in civilian nuclear energy, but the U.S. and others contend it harbors ambitions for a bomb.
"The United Nations has a very strong case for passing a third Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran after the new report from the IAEA found that Tehran failed to cooperate fully with its investigators and left unanswered crucial questions about its nuclear past," Rice said.
"There is very good reason after this report to proceed to the third Security Council resolution," Rice told reporters at the State Department.
"This report demonstrates that whatever the Iranians may be doing to try to clean up some elements of the past, it is inadequate, given their current activities, given questions about their past activities and given what we all have to worry about, which is a future in which Iran could start to perfect the technologies that could lead to nuclear weapons," she said.
Rice spoke ahead of a meeting between senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and from Germany, scheduled for Monday in Washington to discuss the new resolution. The six powers have agreed on a draft.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the third-ranking U.S. diplomat, will represent the United States at the meeting. He said Friday there is all the more reason now for the Security Council to pass a third sanctions resolution.
The United States wants the Security Council to begin debate next week. Burns would not predict how long debate would last and would not rule out that the current package of proposed punishments might change. The proposed package slightly expands and strengthens previous penalties but is weaker than the United States had wanted.
Burns is the top U.S. negotiator on a carrot-and-stick package proposed by the UN Security Council's five permanent states, all of which are nuclear powers, plus Germany. Iran has rebuffed the offer and has brushed off the Security Council's penalties.
Iran's trade partners and sometime allies on the council, Russia and China, which hold Security Council veto power, oppose very harsh measures. Burns said the new round of sanctions would pinch Iran, but he argued more strongly that failing to act would make the Security Council look weak.
Earlier Friday, U.S. ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad expressed sentiments similar to those of Rice, saying that the IAEA report should pave the way for new tighter sanctions against Iran.

"They're increasing their capabilities," Khalilzad noted. "Not only have the number of centrifuges increased, but they're working on a second-generation, if you like, a more capable centrifuge. Things are getting worse in terms of the enrichment part."
He said he believed some were hoping the IAEA report would eliminate the need for the next resolution - by assessing Iranian cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog more positively.
"The IAEA report does give us very important points to make," Khalilzad said. "They [Iran] did not come clean."
The report states that Iran has carried out a series of experiments associated with the production of nuclear weapons, high velocity explosives, and uranium enrichment. Teheran has also reportedly carried out simulations of warhead detonations and tests involving Polonium 210, a material used to develop nuclear weapons.
IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei writes in the report that some of the data they received on Iran's activities came from countries that were interested in increasing IAEA scrutiny of Iran's nuclear program.
Teheran has stated that the data in question, which includes documents, is fabricated.
The report did detail areas of greater Iranian cooperation, and said Teheran has produced documents detailing research and experiments carried in Iranian academic institutions, activities which were previously thought to be a front for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
ElBaradei on Friday said his agency had made "quite good progress" in clarifying Iran's nuclear program thanks to increased Iranian cooperation, but serious doubts persist.
"We are at it for the last five years. In the last four months, in particular, we have made quite good progress in clarifying the outstanding issues," he said in a statement accompanying a new report on Iran's behavior.
"On that score, Iran in the last few months has provided us with visits to many places that enable us to have a clearer picture of Iran's current program. However, that is not, in my view, sufficient," he said.
ElBaradei called on Iran to follow UN Security Council Resolution 1696, which said Iran must suspend uranium enrichment or face diplomatic sanctions. Nonetheless, the report states Iran has stocked its Natanz reactor with new, gas-powered centrifuges which are reportedly more advanced and able to enrich more uranium than their predecessors.
The report was welcomed by Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who said it provides "more evidence proving Iran's truthfulness on the nuclear issue."
"This victory is the result of resistance by the Iranian nation in insisting on its rights," Jalili said.

Israel should prepare for change in US Relations

This observation is undoubtedly astute and valid:
The preference for a prolonged strategic relationship with the U.S. should not extend to an exclusive reliance on that relationship or preclude placing some eggs in other baskets - in Europe, in Asia, and yes, also in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The problem neglected by Daniel Levy, is that it is not easy for Israel to develop a strategic defensive alliance with say, Libya or Saudi Arabia, and therefore Israel is not likely to develop deep ties with those countries. Likewise, Libya and Saudi Arabia, or even China, do not manufacture anything equivalent to the F-16. These are minor problems that do not interest great minds, I suppose.
However, India is a promissing partner for business and security ties, but even there, there is domestic opposition. There is also a good opportunity to pursue deeper ties with Russia. Playing hard to get never hurt. A really novel idea is independence, which has not really been tried in a while.
Ami Isseroff
 Hope for the best, prepare for the worst By Daniel Levy
Here's something else to add to an Israeli's menu of worries: The United States presidential elections may produce change in 2009. Or so fear people like Malcolm Hoenlein, the professional head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who said on a recent visit to Israel that all the talk of "change" is an "opening for mischief," and not good for Israel.

Apparently the status quo is so idyllic for Israel that one should wish for nothing more than that it be perpetuated eternally.

Of course not all change is good, but the Israeli-American relationship could benefit greatly from a dose of new thinking - in terms of both the nature and the exclusivity of that alliance.

There are already two storm clouds looming over the blissful American-Israeli landscape, but they are the product of current, not possible future, policies. The first is that reality is forcing more Americans to take a closer look at the Middle East. They see the scorched earth left behind by their government's recent policies, and the investment of U.S. lives and lucre. As they begin to ask questions, the role of the bilateral partnership is inevitably placed under increasing scrutiny. Sometimes the scrutiny is unfair: Israel, for example, did not get the U.S. into Iraq. And sometimes it's more justified: Complicity in Israeli settlements and occupation carry a heavy toll for America's standing in the region and beyond.

The candidacy of Ron Paul, on the Republican side, has been a lightning rod for that sentiment. His campaign broke party records, raising $4.2 million in contributions in one day, mainly in online donations. Paul will not be the Republican candidate for president, but the tendency for people to ask, "What is going on with the U.S. in the Middle East, and why does our ally Israel make things more difficult?" should give cause to reflect. The business-as-usual approach of many of Israel's supporters is not sustainable over time.

Four or eight more years of aggressive, divisive, costly and failed American policies in the region - especially if supported by the so-called pro-Israel camp - will exacerbate this tension, perhaps exponentially.

The second cloud is that Israel is today hitched to an America that is weakened economically, stretched militarily, deeply divided at home and decidedly unpopular abroad. To the extent that the next president continues the policies that have contributed to those trends, Israel too will pay a price. When Israel is so dependent on the U.S., and the U.S. is wounded, we feel it.

The warm rhetoric continues to emanate from Washington, and that feels comforting. The problem is that its utility is diminished, and nice words are no substitute for the smart plans that would actually make the U.S. and Israel more, not less, secure. Israel should hope for and encourage a change that lifts America out of its current morass, while at the same time diversifying its ally portfolio.

Haaretz's "Israel Factor" notwithstanding (and most members of that panel look like the Israeli equivalent of the aging WASPs one tends to find on a platform alongside John McCain), it is Barack Obama who has best positioned himself to reverse these trends and thereby guarantee the U.S.-Israel relationship. An Obama presidency is more likely to be the antidote to further tensions than their source.

The response so far in Israel to the Obama candidacy has split between gevald and hatikva. The former has more to do with email slur campaigns and our own prejudices than with hard policy positions espoused by the Illinois senator. The latter is easily understood when set against the prospect in 2009 of a 1999 election redux, of Bibi (Netanyahu) vs. Barak (Ehud), yawn. Perhaps Obama's ability to mobilize young people and to transcend political indifference, and his audacity to hope, will be infectious here in the 51st state of the U.S.A.

But Israel should be looking beyond the election. Yes, an Obama presidency is more likely to reverse America's decline - internally and externally - and to correct the hubris, incompetence and adventurism of the Bush years. The same might also be true of Clinton and McCain, though it seems less likely. It is what Obama could do to reenergize America that is first and foremost the good news for Israel. And when he talks of "changing the mindset" that got America into the Iraq war, Obama implies a policy of realism and engagement that stands to stabilize the region and even advance genuine peace. Israel could well be a main beneficiary of such a change.

But what if the next president is all about more of the same or something very similar? Israel must plan for the possibility of an America that continues in its decline, that can deliver less, and remains militarily bogged down in Iraq and perhaps elsewhere in the region. Under this scenario, the special relationship with Israel will become an ever-more contentious issue. America itself might increasingly turn its gaze toward Asia.

So while following American developments closely, and hoping for change, Israel should also be more active out there on the dating circuit. Though efforts have been made to strengthen other alliances, results have been mixed so far, and our options will remain limited so long as the Palestinian issue remains unresolved.

The preference for a prolonged strategic relationship with the U.S. should not extend to an exclusive reliance on that relationship or preclude placing some eggs in other baskets - in Europe, in Asia, and yes, also in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Daniel Levy, a senior fellow at the New America and Century Foundations, is a former adviser in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and was lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative

IAEA: Iran experimented with nuclear weapons production

Actually, there is nothing much new here. It is the same warhead diagrams that were unearthed earlier.
February 23, 2008
Nuclear Agency Says Iran Has Used New Technology

WASHINGTON — The International Atomic Energy Agency described for the first time on Friday the evidence it has shown to Iran that strongly suggests the country had experimented with technologies to manufacture a nuclear weapon, but reported that Iranian officials had dismissed the documents as "baseless and fabricated."
The exchange was contained in an 11-page report in which the agency painted a mixed picture of Iran's activities, and confirmed that Iran had begun to deploy a new generation of machinery to enrich uranium. The report, prepared by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the agency, said Iranian officials had finally begun to answer a number of longstanding questions about its nuclear activities.
But officials with the United Nations agency said Iran had refused to deal with the evidence that served as the basis for American charges that Iran had tried to design a weapon. Much of it was contained in a laptop computer slipped out of the country by an Iranian technician four years ago and obtained by German and American intelligence agencies.
A National Intelligence Estimate published in early December by American intelligence agencies concluded, to the surprise of many in the White House, that Iran had suspended its work on a weapons design in late 2003, apparently in response to growing international pressure, adding that it was not clear whether the work had resumed.
That report threw into disarray the Bush administration's efforts to increase pressure on Iran. Since early last summer Mr. Bush has been trying to persuade the United Nations Security Council to ratchet up sanctions against Iran and pass a third resolution intended to cause more economic pain to the country.
But with the doubts now that Iran is actively pursuing a weapon, Russia and China -- which have deep commercial and oil ties to Iran -- have balked, agreeing only to a greatly watered-down set of sanctions that has yet to go to the Security Council for a vote.
Those sanctions are not based on suspected weapons work, but rather on Iran's continued refusal to halt enriching uranium. The new report confirms that Iran has begun deploying a new generation of centrifuges that can make fuel, for nuclear power plants or for weapons, much more efficiently.
"If this resolution is not voted, the credibility of the Security Council will be very much in doubt," R. Nicholas Burns, an under secretary of state, said on Friday. "The Security Council must now vote for new sanctions."
But Mr. Burns is leaving his post in a week, and inside the administration, it is becoming clear that the Iranians have been able to build centrifuges far faster than the administration could impose new sanctions.
Since the intelligence report came out, America's allies have spun all kinds of theories about the internal machinations that led to it, including that intelligence analysts were boxing Mr. Bush in, preventing him from taking military action against Iran's nuclear sites.
Officials who worked on the report have denied any such intent. The director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, told Congress he now regretted how the intelligence estimate was presented, saying it failed to emphasize that Iran was moving ahead with the hardest part of any bomb project: producing the fuel. Designing a crude weapon is considered a far easier task.
With an eye to the decisions Mr. Bush's successor will have to make, two retired senior diplomats, William Luers and Thomas Pickering, and a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jim Walsh, are publishing an article next week in The New York Review of Books urging the United States to use the intelligence report as a reason to open unconditional talks with Iran, and ultimately to establish an international fuel-production facility on its soil.
But Mr. Burns rejected that idea again Friday, and for years the administration has argued that if such a facility was allowed in Iran, its scientists would learn the difficult art of uranium enrichment and ultimately use that knowledge in a covert bomb project.
It was the evidence that Iran had, in the past, tried to design a weapon that is at the heart of the last confrontation between Iran and the nuclear agency.
Since 2005, the I.A.E.A. has urged the United States and other countries to allow it to show Iran the evidence obtained on the laptop, which intelligence officials have said once belonged to an Iranian technician with access to the country's nuclear program. But the United States. refused to allow the information to be shown to the Iranians until a few weeks ago.
Now that roadblock has been broken. The report says that a week ago the I.A.E.A was given permission to show original documents to the Iranians. In the report issued Friday, the agency described some of that evidence in public for the first time.
The most suspicious-looking document in the collection turned over to the I.A.E.A. was a schematic diagram showing what appeared to be the development of a warhead, with a layout of internal components. "This layout has been assessed by the agency as quite likely to be able to accommodate a nuclear device," the I.A.E.A. wrote. But that does not prove it was a nuclear warhead, and Iran argued that its missile program used "conventional warheads only."
David Albright, a former weapons inspector who now runs the Institute for Science and International Security, said: "The issue now is whether this is symptomatic of a comprehensive nuclear weapons effort, or just individual projects. Is it part of a plan to design and develop a weapon that can fit on a nuclear missile? And if so, why are so many pieces missing?"

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lebanon's Saniora Government & and the Israeli Complex

Lebanon's Saniora Government & and the Israeli Complex
By: Elias Bejjani

February 23/08
 ("News Agencies (Naharnet) Beirut, 19 Feb 08: Syrian Border Guards Kill Lebanese Child/Syrian border guards on Tuesday opened fire at a Lebanese child killing him, the state-run National News Agency reported. The short report said Abbas Abbas, 16, was shot and seriously wounded by Syrian border guards at the Grand River borderline in north Lebanon. He died later at hospital. The development is the second of its kind in about a week. Lebanon has been demanding demarcation of its borders with Syria in an effort to control illegal activities in both directions".)
 During his two years in office, Lebanon's PM, Mr. Fouad Saniora has proved time after time, and without any shed of doubt that psychologically he is like many other "day dreaming Arabs", still possessed by the obsolete rhetoric of the "Nasser phenomenon", that was founded by the late Egyptian President Jamal Abdel Nasser. In the fifties and sixties Nasser promised his fellow Arabs a strong, unified Arab nation, and advocated for throwing the State of Israel into the sea. In the end, he caused the Arabs more and more divisions and led them in the six days war with Israel in 1967, to the worst humiliating defeat in their history.< BR> 
 Mr. Saniora, despite all of the serious difficulties, obstacles, hardships, and setbacks that the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah Axis of Evil and their puppet Lebanese machineries continue to inflict on his government, including tagging its members with treason, often falls prey to the rhetoric of this axis and issues impulsive statements or declares stances that are not in the interest of the Lebanese people, and merely motivated by the "Nasser phenomenon." Such statements and stances are usually void of any logic, common sense or gratitude for the Western countries that strongly support his government against the Axis of Evil's overt scheme to overthrow the whole Lebanese regime and erect on its ruins a Shiite (Welaet Al Fakeh) Islamic state, a replicate of the Iranian Mullahs Islamic Khomaini Republic.
 One of the most devastating symptoms of the "Nasser phenomena" is an unconscious inclination to overlook all logic, reason, fairness, laws, international agreements, UN resolutions, national interests, etc. whenever Israel is the issue. This phenomenon comes to the surface with anything and everything that has to do with Israel, with no thought of what is right or wrong.
 It might be very helpful to inject Mr. Saniora and all those Arabs who are hit by the "Nasser Phenomenon" with a big dose of reality, and remind them that Egypt, Jordan and all the Arab countries, including Syria and the Palestinians themselves have already and for many years officially recognized the State of Israel, either covertly or overtly. Many of these countries exchange full diplomatic relations with Israel and receive the Israeli officials openly and publically. Yet, all these countries with no exception forbid to Lebanon and the Lebanese what they legalize and okay for themselves.
 These Arab countries want to fight Israel from Lebanon and through the Lebanese people, while they enjoy peace and stability in their own countries and forge peaceful agreements with Israel, directly or indirectly. They, the Arabs and the Iranian Mullahs have been and are still using Lebanon as an arena for their wars. Hezbollah, the Iranian armed Shiite fundamentalist militia has been since 1982 the spearhead for this heresy rhetoric.
 We have surprisingly heard, Mr. Saniora several times fiercely criticize and reprimanded the United States for providing Israel with weapons and other aid, although Washington is his government's strongest ally, and its staunch supporter in the face of the of Axis of Evil's bloody scheme against Lebanon. That scheme aims to erect through Hezbollah, the terrorist militia, an Islamic Shiite republic in Lebanon, a replica of that which the Mullahs run in Iran.
 We have witnessed a trend of repeated frenetic Saniora reactions to extremely minor incidents on the Lebanese-Israeli border. He called many times for filing official Lebanese complaints against Israel at the Security Council for trivial reasons, e.g. Lebanese shepherds being arrested by the Israeli troops when they get lost and cross the border between the two countries. He often overlooks the obliging requirements of the Armistice agreement with Israel, the UN resolutions 425, 426, 242, 383, 1559 and 1701 as well as the "Taef Accord". All these call among many other things, for controlling the borders with Israel, disarmament of all militias, especially Hezbollah, and the enforcement of security, law and order all over the Lebanese territories through the legitimate Lebanese armed forces. Unfortunately, Saniora loses both track and vision whenever Israeli is the issue. Here he falls into the Axis of Evil rhetoric trap, and the "Nasser Phenomena" surfaces.
 Sadly, Saniora's government reaction and official stance in addressing the cold blood killing of a Lebanese child on February 19/08 by the Syrian border guards was so shy, extremely pathetic, shameful,  inappropriate and disproportional. This blatant double standard that the Saniora government exercises regarding Syria is not acceptable and lacks credibility.
 We call on the Lebanese government to file immediately an official complaint against Syria at the UN Security Council and demand that the Syrian regime be fully accountable on all levels for this savage, heinous and cowardly crime.
 We also demand that the Saniora government, as well as many members in the Lebanese majority coalition of 4th March, put an end once and for all to their camouflaging and dhimmitude rhetoric regarding the false and fabricated role that Hezbollah alleges to have played in 2000 in forcing Israel to withdraw its troops from South Lebanon.
 The blunt reality is that Israel withdrew its troops in accordance with the UN resolution 425, and the whole matter had nothing to do with Hezbollah. The Israeli decision for withdrawal that was regretted later was based completely on domestic strategies. Hezbollah did not liberate South Lebanon in 2000; in fact Syria and Iran, through Hezbollah, were the reason the Israelis delayed their troops' withdrawal for 14 years.
 Meanwhile PM Saniora and many other Lebanese politicians and officials ought to stop their monotonous, dull and empty statement and say: Lebanon will be the last Arabic country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. In fact, all these Lebanese dignitaries should wake up and admit the fact that all the Arab countries including Syria and the Palestinians themselves have already recognized the State of Israel covertly or overtly. Only Lebanon is left as an open arena for Arab-Iranian, Israeli fights and an outlet for inter-Arab fights and conflicts.
 Enough is enough. Lebanon and the Lebanese people deserve to enjoy peace with their neighbors, Syria and Israel alike.
 The Lebanese leaders and politicians have an obligation to our people, to give priority to Lebanon's interests and only to Lebanon.

Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ahmadinejad’s unbridled attack on Israel causes foreboding. Ashkenazi sees "tough ordeal" possible soon


February 20, 2008, 8:29 PM (GMT+02:00)

Threatens Israel as "dirty microbe" and "savage animal"

Threatens Israel as "dirty microbe" and "savage animal"

DEBKAfile's military sources report that the increasingly belligerent statements issuing from top Iranian leaders since the death of Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus earlier this month are seen as betokening serious intent. Israel's chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi told graduating officers Wednesday, Feb. 20, that he could not rule out a possible "tough ordeal" in the near future. Israel must aim for quick victory.

President Ahmadinejad said earlier: "World powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region." He was addressing a rally in the southern city of Bandar Abbas, site of the Revolutionary Guards' command center and main bases. His speech was broadcast in full by state television.

Also Wednesday, an exiled Iranian opposition leader Mohammad Mohaddessin claimed Tehran had accelerated its nuclear weapons program, including the production of nuclear warheads.

DEBKAfile: Sunday, Gen. Hassan Firouz-Abadi, commander-in-chief of all Iran's armed forces, said at a ceremony in memory of Imad Mughniyeh: "Many millions across the world will soon receive the joyous news of the Zionist entity's destruction."' He did not explain how Iran intended to perform this objective, but alluded indirectly to nuclear or radioactive measures.

The next day, Revolutionary Guards chief Mohammad Ali Jaafari referred to Israel, which denied involvement in the murder, as a "cancerous microbe."

DEBKAfile's sources report that in Washington and Jerusalem, these unbridled speeches are taken as an orchestrated campaign to raise Middle East temperatures up to the climax of an Iranian attack on Israel.

It is noted that Ahmadinejad's speech was delivered on the last day of the Islamic month of Haram, during which Muslims are prohibited from embarking on attacks. The month of Safar when it is permitted to strike enemies of Islam begins Thursday, Feb. 21.

The president went on to accuse world powers of arming Israel with billions of dollars of weapons to create "a scarecrow" to frighten and dominate other nationals in the region".

With regard to the death of Mughniyeh, Iran's senior international terror tactician, Ahmedinejad said: "They assassinate pure and pious people [sic] and then they celebrate it, like what happened to the son of Lebanon who had stood against the savage onslaught of the Zionists and broke the Zionists' horns."

Mohaddessin, of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, claimed that, for the first time, Tehran had established a command and control center to work on a nuclear bomb and that southeast of the capital it was also setting up a center to produce warheads.

He called the US NIE report "not accurate" and reported that Iran had closed down one center only to open another later with the same purpose.

Israel expects another Iran whitewash job from UN nuclear watchdog


February 21, 2008, 12:03 PM (GMT+02:00)

Iranian opposition leader Mohammad Mohaddessin warns tomorrow will be too late for thwarting Iran's nuclear plans

Iranian opposition leader Mohammad Mohaddessin warns tomorrow will be too late for thwarting Iran's nuclear plans

Israel's UN ambassador Danny Gillerman says Israel is losing patience with the wishy-washy reports delivered by Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on Iran's nuclear work.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, Mohammad Mohaddessin,of the exiled Iranian National Council of Resistance, warned that the Iranian regime had accelerated its nuclear weapons program, including the production of nuclear warheads. He told a news conference that Tehran had established its first command and control center to work on a nuclear bomb and was setting up a center to produce warheads southeast of the capital.

DEBKAfile: The council's previous allegations of Iran's covert nuclear activities, including the Natanz site, have been borne out. Mohaddessin said Iran cheated inspections by closing down one center only to open another later with the same purpose.

Addressing the watchdog agency, the exiled Iranian activist advised action against Iran now, for tomorrow would be too late.

Ahead of the ElBaradei report, whose release is expected Friday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his government would ignore calls by major powers to halt the work which has led to two rounds of UN sanctions. The report's findings will determine the Security Council powers' decision on a third round.

Iran's former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who is running for parliament, said Wednesday, Feb. 20, he had quit the post over "differences on management mechanics" with Ahmadinejad. He is reported among the president's critics, accusing him of pushing Iran into international isolation.

On Feb. 13, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow does not approve of Iran's development of its rocket sector and continued uranium enrichment.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Israeli analyst: We know the color of Nasrallah's and Ahmadinejad's undies

As the Israeli Foreign Ministry protests to the UN about repeated statements by Iran to "wipe Israel off the map" security analysts in Israel say that the Jewish State is more than ready for any aggression by Iran, Hezbollah and Syria.

"Israel was born from the ashes of the Holocaust," said an Israel security analyst. "As such, Israel, the Jewish people and every democratic nation would not allow a second Holocaust to take place. Israel is more than prepared to meet any challenge by the new racist Nazi regime in Iran. We know every step they take, we know the color of the underwear that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah wear. If they think that the US can shoot down a satellite with laser pin point accuracy, they have not seen the weapons that Israel would and could use to defend herself -- and I am not talking about nuclear or biological."

Iran's Revolutionary Guards earlier this week stated that the Hezbollah in Lebanon would destroy Israel.

"In the near future, we will witness the destruction of Israel, the aggressor, this cancerous microbe Israel, at the able hands of the soldiers of the community of Hezbollah," the ideological force's commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, was quoted by the Iran Fars News Agency.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Beating up women in Bahrain

Why women 'are suffering silently'

WOMEN aged 31 to 40 and who have been married for six years or more are the most likely victims of domestic violence in Bahrain, a study has revealed.

Victims who keep silent can also develop physical illnesses such as ulcers, high blood pressure and diabetes, according to a specialist.

The study found more than 75 per cent of domestic violence victims did not report abuse until after more than 10 years of marriage.

Their main reasons for keeping silent were not wanting to break up the family, a feeling of powerlessness and a fear of losing their children and their family.

"The silence period is getting longer and longer and this is causing a lot of damage in the family," said Batelco Centre for Family Violence Victims president Dr Banna Bu Zaboon, a clinical psychologist.

"Because she keeps silent it affects her psychologically and socially.

"She will get psychosomatic illnesses such as ulcers, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

"The majority coming to me at the centre have psychosomatic illnesses in addition to the pain of physical violence - so it's affecting them like a disease."

The study of 450 married and divorced women attending the centre was conducted between August 2005 and May 2006.

The majority of them (223) were aged between 31 and 40 years, almost a quarter were 21 to 30, 90 were 41 or above and 27 were aged 20 and under.

The majority of them (270) were married for six years or more, while 100 were married for three to six years.

Eighty clients had been married for two years or less.

Most of the women had between two and four children. While 64 had one child each, 33 had between five and eight children and the rest didn't have any.

The majority were educated to high school level or below (338), while 103 women had a university education and nine were postgraduates.

The majority of the women's husbands were educated to secondary level and below (356), 84 men were educated to university level and 10 were postgraduates.

A total of 134 women had a monthly income of BD400 or less, while 57 had BD401 or more.

The majority of women (259) had no formal income and less than a half (191) were employed outside the home.

The majority of husbands were employed, with 208 in skilled work and 206 in unskilled. Thirty-six were unemployed.

The type of abuse included psychological (380), verbal (290) and physical (77), while 30 women were sexually abused.

A total of 380 women said the main reason for the violence was disagreement.

Other reasons included psychiatric illness, infidelity, alcohol or drug abuse, polygamy, jealousy and lack of sexual attention.

"We need to prevent violence through indirect education, such as through the child's upbringing and through the media," said Dr Bu Zaboon.

"I'm proud of Bahraini women. The numbers coming to the centre are increasing day by day and this shows people are starting to talk about domestic violence.

"We are the only centre in the GCC, so Bahrain is ahead.

"In the beginning it was difficult to get Bahraini women to respond, but more are now coming.

"Now we can't cover the number and we need another centre."

Last year, the centre received 534 follow-up and 260 new cases from men, women and children.

The total number of consultations for last year was 1,426. They included cases of violence reported at the centre and through its hotline, as well as through play therapy and courses.

Dr Bu Zaboon revealed details of the study at the opening of a conference entitled Domestic Violence: Causes and Solutions yesterday.

The two-day event is taking place at the Children and Mother's Welfare Society, Isa Town, under the patronage of Her Highness Shaikha Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty King Hamad and chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Women.

About 180 people from Bahrain, the GCC, Tunisia and the US are attending the conference, which is organised by the society.

The event looks at the impact of domestic violence on women, families and society in the Bahraini, Arab and international context.

Its aim is to raise awareness of domestic violence and encourage government and civil societies to take action to help prevent the problem and assist victims.

The conference also features a workshop on Anger Management Training to Help Prevent Domestic Violence today. Society general-secretary Shaikha Hind bint Salman Al Khalifa said the conference was being held because domestic violence had become a prominent issue.

She said in the past, cases were only reported to police and the hospital out of need, but now with greater awareness women were now seeking help from NGOs and the council.

"We have to create more awareness to help control anger and encourage people to seek help," she said.

Supreme Council for Women general-secretary Lulwa Awadhi said the judicial system didn't do enough to curb domestic violence and needed to be improved. The media also has an important role to play in raising awareness about domestic violence, she added.


Qassam Statistics - For the Record

Thousands of Qassam rockets and mortar shells launched by Palestinian "militants" have fallen on Israeli communities in the Western Negev.
Here are some statistics: