|Southwest Asia News Digest
Senior Republican Challenges Bush on Iraq, Iran
Sane Republicans are revolting against the Bush Administration for its policy of no-win imperial wars. In two interviews, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb), a 2008 Presidential contender, and decorated Vietnam veteran, blasted President Bush's threats against Iran, and the Administration's no-win perpetual-war strategy in Iraq. (See U.S.A. Digest for more.)
IAEA Study Debunks U.S. Charge on Iran Nukes
A panel of scientists from the United States, France, Japan, Britain, and Russia, after a secret nine-month study, have concluded that traces of weapons-grade uranium found in Iran came from contaminated equipment bought from Pakistan, and are not a sign of any purported Iranian nuclear-bomb program, according to a front-page story in the Washington Post Aug. 23.
The Post quoted an anonymous senior government official as saying, "The biggest smoking gun that everyone was waving is now eliminated with these conclusions."
The result of the study, which the panel conducted for the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirm Iran's contention about the uranium traces found on equipment used in their nuclear research program, and refute Bush Administration claims. The findings will reportedly be released to the IAEA in the first week of September.
Mohammad Saeedi of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said in response to the panel's reported findings, "Accurate scientific investigation by the IAEA has proved that U.S. accusations were unfounded."
Dafna Linzer, the author of the Washington Post story mentioned above, had previously revealed the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that Iran was likely ten years away from developing a nuclear weapon. The NIE is the most comprehensive intelligence report produced by the United States' intelligence agencies, utilizing the information from more than a dozen agencies, including the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In her Aug. 23 story, Linzer quotes a senior U.S. government official saying, "The biggest smoking gun [against Iran] that everyone was waving, is now eliminated with these conclusions."
London Paper Pulls Article on Iran 'Infrared Bombs'
On Aug. 21, the Sunday Telegraph of London pulled one of its most sensational articles about Iran's role in the Iraq insurgency before the end of the day. Early in the day, the Telegraph ran a story by its chief foreign correspondent Toby Harnden, entitled, "Iran 'Supplies Infra-red Bombs' that Will Kill British Troops in Iraq," but then pulled the story saying: "This story has been temporarily suspended."
The story had claimed that Iran is supplying bombs that defeat jamming equipment. It reported that the devices were used by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group against Israel in Lebanon from 1995. A radio signal is used to arm the bomb as a target approaches. The next object to break an infrared beamthe target vehicledetonates the device.
EIR is investigating the reason the story was pulled from the Telegraph's website. Similar inflammatory accusations against Iran are being manufactured by Anglo-American neo-con think-tankers, who are serving as the propaganda arm for Dick Cheney's war drive against that nation.
Iran To Start Talks with IAEA on Nuclear Program
Iran's new secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Larijani, has started negotiations with the head of the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA), Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, on Tehran's nuclear program, reported the Iran's news agency, IRNA, on Aug. 26.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Flemming said that the talks would be mainly focussed on IAEA inspection of Iran's nuclear activities. The two sides, it was stated, will discuss the Iran-European Union nuclear talks and Iran's proposals for settling the issue.
The meeting will be attended by IAEA general deputies and experts, as well as by Iran's permanent representative to the Vienna-based IAEI, Mohammad Meddi Akkhoumedalis. Larijani criticized the three European states (Germany, France, and Britain) that have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, while stating at the same time that the Islamic Republic welcomes negotiations with all 35 member states of the IAEA.
Meanwhile, on the occasion of the upcoming visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Berlin Sept. 8, it is reported in the German weekly Wirtschaftswoche, that Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will be coming out with a common initiative on Iran.
Additionally, Italy's Ambassador to Tehran, Roberto Tuscano, after meeting Iran's Chamber of Commerce president, called for expanding bilateral relations in various economic fields.
Abbas Declares Intifada Over; 'Greater Jihad' Is Economic Revival
As the last Israeli settlers were leaving the Gaza Strip, on Aug. 22, Palestinian President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) told Reuters that he hoped to persuade Palestinians that peaceful dialogue is the way to statehood for the Palestinians. Declaring the "jihad" or "holy struggle" against Israel over, Abbas said it was time for what he called the "greater jihad" of economic revival, rule of law, and talks with Israel to achieve a lasting peace.
"I was, and I am, working on planting the culture of peace among the Palestinian people in order to pave the way for a smooth Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and to move on from there to open negotiations with Israel on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza." However, Abbas also complained, "Israel is not helping. It is still taking unilateral steps and trying to create facts on the ground."
Hamas, however, is reportedly saying that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank shows that the Intifada has been successful and that armed resistance to the occupation must continue.
As for the Israeli withdrawal itself, settlers from the last Gaza settlement of Netzarim boarded buses on Aug. 22 to pull out. At the same time, 5,000 Israeli troops and police were dispatched to the West Bank for the evacuation of the settlements of Sa-Nur and Homesh. There were 2,100 illegal infiltrators believed to be in those two settlements, reported Ha'aretz, which added that military sources said that the Israeli army was going to take a hard line with violent opposition. However, the evacuation was completed without delay last week.
The Heavy Price of the Gaza Settlements
The price for the Gaza settlements has been heavy both in lives lost and money spent, reported Ha'aretz, Aug. 23.
In terms of deaths of Palestinians, since 1987, the number of Palestinians who have been killed in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is 4,651. The vast majority of these deaths, 3,265, occurred in the period of the current Intifada, which is to say while Ariel Sharon has been Israeli Prime Minister. Of those killed during the current Intifada, 652 were children.
As for Israelis, the total number killed in Gaza was 230 since 1967.
The monetary costs of the Gaza settlements since their founding in 1967 is a multi-billion dollar figure.
The majority of Israelis supported the withdrawal, and would prefer to see such enormous sums being spent on social services, jobs, and development.