|Southwest Asia News Digest
Top U.S. Intelligence Official Blasts Critics of Iran NIE
May 18 (EIRNS)At the time that British-directed warmonger Dick Cheney is driving anew for war against Iran, the head of analysis for the U.S. intelligence community, Thomas Fingar, who oversaw the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran of December 2007, gave a blistering interview published in the May 15 Los Angeles Times and the May 17 Houston Chronicle, about the backlash coming from Cheney and the White House. "The unhappiness with the finding, namely that the evil Iranians might be susceptible to diplomacy, adroitly turned into an ad hominem assault.... Why do we have an intelligence community if all you want are cheerleaders?" Fingar wrote.
Fingar, who also was the former head of the State Department's Intelligence and Research (INR) (which had objected to the Niger yellow-cake uranium lies, and other Iraq WMD fallacies), reflects the intense resistance to war against Iran from inside U.S. institutions.
His interview came at the end of the week in which President Bush made his Mad Hatter speech to the Israeli Knesset, that called on all nations to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon, and when Cheney is trying to force the U.S. intelligence community to rewrite the NIE. Helping Cheney are Benjamin Netanyahu's fascist wing of the Israelis and Britain's Sir John Scarlett of MI6. The Anglo-Israeli bloc is trying to force a retraction of the NIE with "new" Israeli intelligence on Iranjust as the British-Israeli track did with the Iraq War.
Contrasting the competence of the Iran NIE to the neocons' fiasco over Iraqi WMD, Fingar said, "We didn't have the dismissal of dissenting views. We didn't have a 'Curveball,'" which refers to the discredited Ahmed Chalabi-linked source behind faked intelligence on Iraq. He angrily added, "It's [as if] the whole damn community is still incompetent."
Meanwhile, Council on Foreign Relations Iran specialist Ray Takeyh wrote in a May 18 Washington Post op-ed that the U.S. had better realize that Iran's leadership, though divided on many things, is united on its right to enrich uranium and have nuclear power. So, the U.S. and Europe had better compromise and go for "transparency" in the enrichment process, letting Iran have its enrichment as allowed under international law. He warned, "This may be the last chance" for compromise, "before Iran crosses the nuclear threshold."
A proposal being circulated by MIT scientist Dr. Jim Walsh and others, calls for a world-class enrichment facility to be built in Iran, by a commercial consortium, with Russian, European, American, and Iranian participation. The consortium would produce enough low-level enriched uranium to power 20 nuclear power plants, but the deal would carry safeguards against diversion to a nuclear weapons program. The idea has already discussed with top Iranian officials, and former top State Department officer Thomas Pickering, a coauthor of the Walsh proposal, has participated in those discussions, along with Dr. Walsh.
Gates: We Need To Figure Out How To Talk to Iran
May 15 (EIRNS) "We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage with respect to Iran and then sit down and talk with them," said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates during a presentation to the American Academy of Diplomacy on May 14. "If there's going to be a discussion, then they need something, too. We can't go to a discussion and be completely the demander, with them not feeling that they need anything from us." With these remarks, Gates was implicitly endorsing Thomas Friedman's column in the May 14 New York Times, which said that "the right question for the next president isn't whether we talk or don't talk. It's whether we have leverage or don't have leverage. When you have leverage, talk. When you don't have leverage, get some by creating economic, diplomatic, or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore. That is where the Bush team has been so incompetent vis-a-vis Iran."
Iran Wants Cooperation with Russia and China
May 17 (EIRNS)Iran has given the Russian and Chinese foreign ministries its proposals for nuclear non-proliferation and other international security issues, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council announced on May 16. "These countries have promised to closely study the package of proposals and to announce their opinion regarding our initiatives," a Council spokesman said. The same day, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Gholamreza Ansari told Novosti said that Iran is ready for discussions on its nuclear program. "Iran's position is that the issue should be resolved on an equal basis. We need equal dialogue with all countries," Ansari said. Iran has special relations with Russia and China, which nations "could play a major role in the dialogue between Iran and other countries on this issue."
Iran earlier gave UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana "an array of its own proposals" to resolve the nuclear question and other international issues. Iran wants to reach international agreements, without preconditions, on "long-term cooperation aimed at strengthening peace, and international and regional security on a just basis," the Council spokesman said, as reported by Novosti.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on the same day that Moscow "expects that Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki will soon be able to receive in Tehran EU Foreign and Security Policy Representative Javier Solana and the 'Iran Six' deputy foreign ministers, who will hand the Iranian side a revised package of proposals for negotiations with Tehran that was approved by the 'Iran Six' foreign ministers on May 2 in London." Previously, Iran had refused continued talks with the Iran Six, and would negotiate only with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
At the Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC) meeting in Yekaterinburg on May 16, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the press that Russia, China, and the EU think that firm security guarantees could persuade Iran to end nuclear fuel development, and that Russia hopes that "politicians in the United States" could persuade the White House to subscribe to this view, Voice of Russia reported today. Lavrov also called for Iran to be offered a greater role in diplomacy in Southwest Asia.
Bush's Big Mouth Gets Him in Hot Water in Saudi Arabia
May 17 (EIRNS)President George Bush arrived today in Egypt, on the third and final leg of his Southwest Asia tour, which began with a three-day visit to Israel, in which he had addressed the Knesset, and made a fool of himself in the eyes of the entire Arab and Islamic world.
Israeli commentators said that his Knesset speech could have been delivered by an Israeli ultra-rightist or Jewish fundamentalist. The U.S. President invoked the Old Testament, ignored the plight of the Palestinian people, and threatened Iran. It was no surprise, according to well-placed U.S. intelligence sources, that when the President arrived next in Saudi Arabia, to press King Abdullah to help drive down oil prices by boosting Saudi production, he suffered his second rebuff this year. Worse than outright rejection of the President's plea, the Saudis announced a token production increase by 300,000 barrels a day, in what was described as an even bigger put-down of Bush. The sources confirmed that the Saudi King was furious at Bush's Knesset performance, which was so out of sync with the dynamics in the region, as to suggest that the American leader has lost his marbles. The sources suggested that, in spite of the continuing role of "Saudi neocon" Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, Abdullah could take a sudden anti-American turn, after Bush's open disdain for the Palestinians in his Knesset speech.
In his first meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Bush met with a similarly cold reaction from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli Police Interrogate Olmert's Money Friends
May 14 (EIRNS)Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's problems spread to President Shimon Peres's conference on Israel's Future, where U.S. President Bush spoke. Apparently some of the tycoons who finance the conference are also suspected of illegally financing Olmert. In between conference sessions, billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Daniel Abraham were questioned by the Israeli police.