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Inside Iran’s nuclear machine: what makes them tick?

Simon Tisdall, The Guardian via The Age
Iran says it wants nuclear energy to fuel its economy. The United States says it wants to build an “Islamic bomb”. Given rare access, Simon Tisdall spoke to the men in charge of the country’s nuclear program.

…In a high-ceilinged, thickly carpeted inner sanctum of the fortress-like Supreme National Security Council building in central Tehran, Ali Larijani patiently spells out the factors that play a part in Iran’s decisions. The CIA would dearly love to penetrate these walls. Perhaps it already has; visitors’ mobile phones and other devices are confiscated.

Mr Larijani is an important man in Iran. As secretary of the security council and chief nuclear negotiator, it is he, and his predecessor, Hassan Rowhani, who have by turns tantalised, teased and infuriated the West during three years of discussions on the nuclear dossier. Iran plays a long and astute negotiating game, which Mr Larijani likens to “diplomatic chess”. Officials say they learned at the feet of masters — the European powers who exploited Persia during the 19th century “Great Game”. Britain is still referred to as the “Old Fox”.
(27 Aug 2006)

Iran-China transactions up USD253m

Volume of commercial transactions between Iran and four Chinese provinces stood at about one billion dollars during the first half of 2006, indicating 253 million dollars increase compared to the figure in the same period last year.
(25 Aug 2006)

Iran’s oil output up by 55,000 bpd

Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh here Saturday announced that Iran’s crude oil production has increased by by 55,000 barrels per day in the last one year…

Pointing to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, he added that the three countries have reached agreement about laying the ‘peace pipeline’ and the price will be fixed on the basis of gas exported to Japan.

He also said Indonesia will participate in a project to establish a refinery for liquefied gas products and memoranda of understanding for setting up new refineries in four countries have been signed…

The minister added the Bourse Organization of Iran has approved the establishment of an oil bourse and every thing is ready for its inauguration…

Vaziri Hamaneh said a plan for transporting Iranian gas to China via Pakistan is in the preliminary stage.
(28 Aug 2006)
Several other Iranian energy titbits in the original article. -AF

IEA looks to Opec to boost oil production if Iran cuts

Reuters, Kuwaiti Times
STAVANGER, Norway: The International Energy Agency would look to Iran’s fellow Opec states to boost their oil output if Tehran were to turn off the taps in its nuclear dispute with the west, the IEA’s head told Reuters.

The IEA, adviser to 26 industrialised nations, would prefer to see the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries exhaust its two million barrels per day (bpd) of spare capacity rather than tap the world’s emergency inventories.

“We are prepared for the possibility of releasing emergency supplies as always at the IEA,” the agency’s director general Claude Mandil said on the sidelines of an industry event in Norway.

“But we think our strategic stocks are only for use in the case of real supply disruption, and after other possibilities have been exhausted, in particular Opec spare capacity.”

Opec President Edmund Daukoru said earlier this year that the group was unlikely to intervene if Iran – Opec’s second largest producer – cut its oil exports. He said the group did not want to get dragged into a political dispute.
(23 Aug 2006)
Difficult to say if Mandil’s belief in the two million bpd spare capacity is genuine. Certainly it’s misplaced. Opec’s ‘apolitical’ position is very convenient. -AF

US vs. Iran: Is an attack inevitable?

Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar, Al Bawaba
…The US is a declining empire and can no longer afford to play by the rules; not that it ever was inclined to do so. The talk of pre-emption was a clear sign of the fear that soon US would not be able to control the situation. It was decided to try to arrest the growth and ambition of all those countries that were going to challenge the US hegemony in the international system. But pre-emption is a last desperate attempt to stop the inevitable. The folly of believing that by pre-emption a great power can hold its place in the international system is clearly stated by the historian Paul Kennedy:

“So far as international system is concerned, wealth and power, or economic strength and military strength, are always relative and should be seen as such. Since they are relative, and since all societies are subject to the inexorable tendency to change, then international balances can never be still, and it is a folly of statesmanship to assume that they ever would be”.

Stupid or not, this is exactly what the current US administration is trying to do. After examining all the possible scenarios of how to forestall the US’ decline, it came up with one solution: control of oil fields. If the US could physically control the sources of world energy, it could practically determine the growth of the world economies and by extension their military powers that were to challenge it in the future. Of course, the US government could achieve a similar outcome by entering into an alliance with two major Middle Eastern countries Iran and Iraq, but this would require a rethink of its Israel strategy; something that a US president is not even allowed to contemplate.

So they tried to implement this grand strategy. The current US administration under the pretext of “war on terror” invaded Iraq and occupied it. Now we have to note that Iraq was chosen first because it was extremely weak. After 8 years of war with Iran, a devastating war with the US and its coalition in Kuwait and nearly 10 years of sanctions, Iraq was in no position to put-up any kind of resistance. On top of all these, the US government through its agents in UN team in Iraq had obtained blueprints of all military installations, and had even bought the general responsible for the defence of Baghdad.

It was envisaged that once Iraq was occupied and the population pacified, the US and UK forces would turn around and occupy the Iranian Southern oil region of Khuzestan. The area is relatively flat and is ideal for armour assault. Once the oil fields are occupied, it was thought, it would be only a matter of time for the regime in Tehran to collapse; paving the way for a puppet regime to be installed in Tehran.

Having bases in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, the US would control over 30% of the world’s natural gas and over 61% of the world proven oil reserves. China, India, EU and others had to then pay tribute to the US to ensure their economic survival. If that was not enough, the US would create a sphere of influence in Iraq and Iran analogous to the old colonial system of economic exploitation. I know that you may find this difficult to accept; after all we can not believe that these sorts of things can happen today. But it does happen and what is more, people love to make it happen. To make my point clear, consider what this US administration had planned for Iraq…
(27 Aug 2006)
Long article. Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He is also on the editorial board of CASMII. He’s a former associate professor of Nordland University, Norway.

Ex-official explains Iran’s wariness

Michael Slackman, The New York Times via IHT
A former high-ranking Iranian official wants Americans to see his cracked thumbnails. They were torn out, he said, after Washington’s friend Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi put him in prison in the 1970s.

His point is instantly clear: Look at what happened when we had close ties to the United States.

“I was a medical student,” said the man, Ali Muhammad Besharati, a former interior minister and deputy foreign minister. “But they put me in prison because I opposed American dominance in Iran.”

In the ongoing conflict over Iran’s nuclear program, there are disputes over enrichment of uranium, discussions of heavy water reactors, and accusations over the government’s intentions. But to listen to Besharati is to hear the fight described as Tehran’s frontline effort to block American influence in the region and to never again allow Washington to have an upper hand in Iran.
(27 Aug 2006)