“How Iran duped the west”; Iranian Holocaust (denial) conference “begins today”

March 07, 2006

* This is a follow-up to a number of recent dispatches on Iran, the most recent of which was (1) Iranian fatwa approves use of nuclear weapons (2) Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO

 

CONTENTS

1. Wafa Sultan on Al-Jazeera
2. IAEA showdown over Iranian nuclear development
3. The U.S. will use “all tools at its disposal”
4. How Iran duped the west
5. Iranian Holocaust (denial) conference “begins today”
6. Iranian newspaper claims Helmut Kohl denies the Holocaust
7. Opposition group: Iran increasing missile production
8. Iran opens “ideological embassy” in Ramallah
9. “How we duped the West, by Iran’s nuclear negotiator” (S. Telegraph, March 5, 2006)
10. “NATO may help US airstrikes on Iran” (Sunday Times, March 5, 2006)
11. “Arrow can block ‘any Iranian missile’” (Jerusalem Post, March 2, 2006)



[All notes below by Tom Gross]

WAFA SULTAN ON AL-JAZEERA

I have sent this URL to a number of people over the last two weeks, but for those who haven’t yet watched the interview with Arab-American psychologist Wafa Sultan on Al-Jazeera TV on February 21, 2006, I urge you watch it in full. There are English subtitles.

Her defense of Jews, Buddhists, women and others is remarkable. It is better to watch it, but for those of you who don’t have the correct computer software, a transcript can be found here.

Many journalists have asked me who Wafa Sultan is. She is based in Los Angeles. Much of her political and cultural writing can be found at the website www.annaqed.com which is predominantly in Arabic but also has an English section. “Annaqed” in Arabic means “the critic.” The website deals with a variety of issues including society, politics, women, religion, history and opinion. Readers may like to also look at her website.

 

IAEA SHOWDOWN OVER IRANIAN NUCLEAR DEVELOPMENT

The 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) convenes this week in Vienna for an important meeting that may lead to U.N. Security Council action against Teheran over fears it is rapidly seeking to obtain nuclear weapons.

Iran claims it is only interested in acquiring civilian nuclear energy. The IAEA meeting may either lead to a deal for renewed negotiations or may refer the matter to the Security Council.

The IAEA reported Iran to the Security Council a month ago. The IAEA board session this week will take stock of a new report by Mohamed ElBaradei that suggests Iran is accelerating its nuclear fuel research and development.

 

THE U.S. WILL USE “ALL TOOLS AT ITS DISPOSAL”

The United States on Sunday warned that Iran faced “painful consequences” if it continued its nuclear activities and said the problem would become increasingly difficult to resolve if the international community did not confront it.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton reaffirmed that America will use “all tools at our disposal” to thwart Iran’s nuclear program and is already “beefing up defensive measures” to do so.

“The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve,” he warned.

 

HOW IRAN DUPED THE WEST

Attached below are three articles relating to the attempts by Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. The first, from the (London) Sunday Telegraph, describes how a former Iranian nuclear negotiator informed a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics that “Iran duped the West” as it pushed ahead with its program at full speed.

In the second article, the (London) Sunday Times reports that NATO may assist the U.S. in any air strikes it takes against Iran. The article also claims that Israeli special forces are already operating inside Iran. The Sunday Times, whilst a respected paper, has sometimes been inaccurate in the past when reporting on Israel, and therefore this part of the article should be treated with a degree of skepticism.

The final article, from the Jerusalem Post, suggests that Israel’s Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile system is now capable of intercepting and destroying any Iranian missiles, including nuclear ones, en route to their targets.

 

IRANIAN HOLOCAUST (DENIAL) CONFERENCE “BEGINS TODAY”

According to Iran Focus, an often-reliable news service that focuses on events in the Persian Gulf region, the Iranian Holocaust (denial) conference is due to begin today.

The seminar titled “The Holocaust: myth or reality?” has been organized by the Bassij, an extension of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. News of this conference was first broken on this email list in early January, and later reported by mainstream news media and blogs.

Among those allegedly taking part in the conference are members of the Neturei Karta, a group of ultra-orthodox Jews who reject all forms of Zionism and actively oppose the existence of the State of Israel. This group has previously aligned itself with Yasser Arafat; in 2002 the Israeli army found numerous documents that suggested some of their members were on Arafat’s direct payroll.

According to a report translated specially for this email list from the al-Vefagh newspaper, the Neturei Karta delegation have already visited several Iranian institutions and media outlets and met Ahmad Musawi, head of “The Committee for Co-operation with the Palestinian Resistance”. The delegation participated in an inter-religious conference titled “Respecting the Holy places and Allah’s Prophets”.

(Al-Vefagh is an official Arabic-language daily published by the Farsi-language Iranian news agency, IRNA. The Neturei Karta receive much media coverage due to their anti-Zionist, and sometimes anti-Semitic views, yet they number under 5,000 members worldwide.)

More details and photos of the ongoing Neturei Karta visit have now been put up in English by the Iranian Fars News Agency here.

 

IRANIAN NEWSPAPER CLAIMS HELMUT KOHL DENIES THE HOLOCAUST

According to Jomhouri Islami, a semi-official Farsi newspaper, the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl told Iranian businessman in Germany that he “heartily agreed” with comments made by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian President claimed in November that the Holocaust was a “myth,” and has since repeated this lie on several occasions.

Kohl allegedly said: “What Ahmadinejad said about the Holocaust was in our bosoms… For years we wanted to say this, but we did not have the courage to speak out.”

It seems very unlikely that Helmut Kohl in fact made these comments; the former German Chancellor first championed the idea of a central monument in Berlin to commemorate the Holocaust. (The monument opened last year – see the last item in (1) IDF recruits Harley Davidsons; (2) 50,000 Germans sing for Israel).

But the mere fact that the Iranian media may be spreading such quotes is a dangerous development. In the last 24 hours, the remarks supposedly made by former Chancellor Kohl have been reiterated by various media and blogs around the world.

 

OPPOSITION GROUP: IRAN INCREASING MISSILE PRODUCTION, CENTRAL EUROPE NOW IN RANGE

Alireza Jafarzadeh, head of the Washington-based Strategic Policy Consulting think tank, has claimed that Iran has “significantly increased the production line” of its Shahab-3 missiles. As a result it is now turning out missiles at a rate of approximately 90 per year, more than four times the previous production rate.

Jafarzadeh quoted unnamed sources inside Iran who claim that Iran’s most advanced Shahab missile has a range of 1,900 km (nearly 1,200 miles), which would allow it to easily strike Israel and U.S. military bases throughout the region.

He added that Iranian engineers, working with North Korean experts at the Hemmat Missile Industries complex in Teheran, are 70 percent finished on prototype Ghadar-101 and Ghadar-110 missiles. They are believed to have ranges of up to 3,000 km (1,800 miles), which would bring central Europe within range. These new missiles are believed to have a launch time of 30 minutes, compared to several hours for the Shahab-3.

 

IRAN OPENS “IDEOLOGICAL EMBASSY” IN RAMALLAH

Iran has opened an “ideological embassy” in Ramallah to espouse Shia Muslim beliefs and to help spread Iranian influence throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This office marks the establishment of Iran’s first official agency in the Palestinian areas.

The “embassy” was opened by Muhamad Gawanmeh, the director of Iran’s new Shia Council in Palestine. Gawanmeh is a member of the Iranian-backed terror group, Islamic Jihad.

In an interview, Gawanmeh said: “We want the Palestinian people to be exposed to the Iranian heritage and Shia principles. (Our goal is) to reinforce the relations between the Islamic republic of Iran and the Palestinian people. We are part of the Iranian Islamic project in the Middle East.”

Gawanmeh also said that the council will seek to espouse Shia Muslim ideology in the Sunni-dominated Palestinian territories, including the belief in the return of the Twelfth Imam to lead an apocalyptic world battle against “evil.”

***

I attach three articles below, with summaries first for those that do not have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

HOW WE DUPED THE WEST, BY IRAN’S NUCLEAR NEGOTIATOR

“How we duped the West, by Iran’s nuclear negotiator” (By Philip Sherwell, The Sunday Telegraph, March 5, 2006)

The man who for two years led Iran’s nuclear negotiations has laid out in unprecedented detail how the regime took advantage of talks with Britain, France and Germany to forge ahead with its secret atomic programme.

In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani… boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake – a key stage in the nuclear fuel process – at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot.

“From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them’,” he said…

 

NATO MAY HELP U.S. AIRSTRIKES ON IRAN

“Nato may help US airstrikes on Iran” (By Sarah Baxter and Uzi Mahnaimi, The Sunday Times (of London), March 5, 2006)

When Major-General Axel Tuttelmann, the head of Nato’s Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, showed off an Awacs early warning surveillance plane in Israel a fortnight ago, he caused a flurry of concern back at headquarters in Brussels.

It was not his demonstration that raised eyebrows, but what he said about Nato’s possible involvement in any future military strike against Iran. “We would be the first to be called up if the Nato council decided we should be,” he said…

John Pike, director of the US military studies group Globalsecurity.org, said America had little to gain from Nato military help. “I think we are attempting to bring the alliance along politically so that when all diplomatic initiatives have been exhausted and we blow up their sites, we can say, ‘Look, we gave it our best shot’.”

… Israel’s special forces are said to be operating inside Iran in an urgent attempt to locate the country’s secret uranium enrichment sites. “We found several suspected sites last year but there must be more,” an Israeli intelligence source said. They are operating from a base in northern Iraq, guarded by Israeli soldiers with the approval of the Americans, according to Israeli sources…

 

“THE ARROW KNOWS HOW TO INTERCEPT THE SHIHAB MISSILE”

“Arrow can block 'any Iranian missile’” (By Yaakov Katz, The Jerusalem Post, March 2, 2006)

Israel’s Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile system is capable of intercepting and destroying any Iranian missiles, even were they to carry nuclear warheads, a high-ranking IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post.

While Iran is Israel’s most serious strategic and existential threat, the country, he said confidently, was sufficiently protected by the Arrow, which plays a major role in maintaining Israel’s protective envelope.

“We will shoot all of [Iran’s missiles] down,” he told the Post. “The Arrow knows how to intercept the Shihab missile.”

Just last year that wasn’t the case…

But while Israel was protected from the Shihab by the Arrow, cities were left vulnerable and unprotected from Katyusha rockets – several thousand of which are in the hands of Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon – and Palestinian-developed Kassam rockets. While the technology to intercept and destroy these low-tech rockets was in existence, the officer claimed that the funding to develop systems to do so was not. The Arrow is irrelevant as regards missiles with a range of less than 60-70 km.

“There are constant efforts to develop a system,” the officer said. “There will be a solution one day, since the technology exists and the problem is the financing.”



FULL ARTICLES

HOW WE DUPED THE WEST, BY IRAN’S NUCLEAR NEGOTIATOR

How we duped the West, by Iran’s nuclear negotiator
By Philip Sherwell
The Sunday Telegraph
March 5, 2006

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/05/wiran05.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/03/05/ixnewstop.html

The man who for two years led Iran’s nuclear negotiations has laid out in unprecedented detail how the regime took advantage of talks with Britain, France and Germany to forge ahead with its secret atomic programme.

In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani, who headed talks with the so-called EU3 until last year, revealed how Teheran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear programme was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002.

He boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake – a key stage in the nuclear fuel process – at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot.

“From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them’,” he said.

Revelation of Mr Rowhani’s remarks comes at an awkward moment for the Iranian government, ahead of a meeting tomorrow of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog, which must make a fresh assessment of Iran’s banned nuclear operations.

The judgment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the final step before Iran’s case is passed to the UN Security Council, where sanctions may be considered.

In his address to the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, Mr Rowhani appears to have been seeking to rebut criticism from hardliners that he gave too much ground in talks with the European troika. The contents of the speech were published in a regime journal that circulates among the ruling elite.

He told his audience: “When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Teheran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan.”

America and its European allies believe that Iran is clandestinely developing an atomic bomb but Teheran insists it is merely seeking nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Iran’s negotiating team engaged in a last-ditch attempt last week to head off Security Council involvement. In January the regime removed IAEA seals on sensitive nuclear equipment and last month it resumed banned uranium enrichment.

Iran is trying to win support from Russia, which opposes any UN sanctions, having unsuccessfully tried to persuade European leaders to give them more time. Against this backdrop, Mr Rowhani’s surprisingly candid comments on Iran’s record of obfuscation and delay are illuminating.

He described the regime’s quandary in September 2003 when the IAEA had demanded a “complete picture” of its nuclear activities. “The dilemma was if we offered a complete picture, the picture itself could lead us to the UN Security Council,” he said. “And not providing a complete picture would also be a violation of the resolution and we could have been referred to the Security Council for not implementing the resolution.”

Mr Rowhani disclosed that on at least two occasions the IAEA obtained information on secret nuclear-related experiments from academic papers published by scientists involved in the work.

The Iranians’ biggest setback came when Libya secretly negotiated with America and Britain to close down its nuclear operations. Mr Rowhani said that Iran had bought much of its nuclear-related equipment from “the same dealer” – a reference to the network of A Q Khan, the rogue Pakistani atomic scientist. From information supplied by Libya, it became clear that Iran had bought P2 advanced centrifuges.

In a separate development, the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has obtained a copy of a confidential parliamentary report making clear that Iranian MPs were also kept in the dark on the nuclear programme, which was funded secretly, outside the normal budgetary process.

Mohammad Mohaddessin, the NCRI’s foreign affairs chief, told the Sunday Telegraph: “Rowhani’s remarks show that the mullahs wanted to deceive the international community from the onset of negotiations with EU3 - and that the mullahs were fully aware that if they were transparent, the regime’s nuclear file would be referred to the UN immediately.”

 

NATO MAY HELP U.S. AIRSTRIKES ON IRAN

Nato may help US airstrikes on Iran
By Sarah Baxter and Uzi Mahnaimi
The Sunday Times (of London)
March 5, 2006

When Major-General Axel Tuttelmann, the head of Nato’s Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, showed off an Awacs early warning surveillance plane in Israel a fortnight ago, he caused a flurry of concern back at headquarters in Brussels.

It was not his demonstration that raised eyebrows, but what he said about Nato’s possible involvement in any future military strike against Iran. “We would be the first to be called up if the Nato council decided we should be,” he said.

Nato would prefer the emphasis to remain on the “if”, but Tuttelmann’s comments revealed that the military alliance could play a supporting role if America launches airstrikes against Iranian nuclear targets.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will tomorrow confirm Iran’s referral to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran insists it is developing peaceful nuclear energy, a claim regarded as bogus by America and Britain, France and Germany, which believe it wants to develop nuclear weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks about wiping Israel “off the map” have added to fears.

America and Israel have warned that they will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. If negotiations fail, both countries have plans of last resort for airstrikes against Iran’s widely dispersed nuclear facilities.

Porter Goss, the head of the CIA, visited Recep Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, a Nato country, late last year and asked for political, logistical and intelligence support in the event of airstrikes, according to western intelligence sources quoted in the German media.

The news magazine Der Spiegel noted: “Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack.”

Nato would be likely to operate air defences in Turkey, according to Dan Goure, a Pentagon adviser and vice-president of the Lexington Institute, a military think tank.

A former senior Israeli defence official said he believed all Nato members had contingency plans.

John Pike, director of the US military studies group Globalsecurity.org, said America had little to gain from Nato military help. “I think we are attempting to bring the alliance along politically so that when all diplomatic initiatives have been exhausted and we blow up their sites, we can say, ‘Look, we gave it our best shot’.”

A senior British defence official said plans to attack Iran were pure speculation. “I don’t think anybody has got that far yet,” he said. “We’re all too distracted by Iraq.”

Israel’s special forces are said to be operating inside Iran in an urgent attempt to locate the country’s secret uranium enrichment sites. “We found several suspected sites last year but there must be more,” an Israeli intelligence source said. They are operating from a base in northern Iraq, guarded by Israeli soldiers with the approval of the Americans, according to Israeli sources.

The commander of Israel’s nuclear missile submarines warned Iran indirectly in a comment to an Israeli newspaper last week that “we are able to hit strategic targets in a foreign country”.

The Israelis fear Iran may reach the “point of no return” – at which it has the capacity to enrich uranium to bomb-grade purity – in the next few months. The Americans are more interested in the point at which Iran is close to developing an actual bomb, thought to be at least three years away.

Two Iranian opposition groups claimed this weekend that Iran had increased its production of Shahab 3 missiles, which have a range of 1,200 miles, sufficient to reach Israel.

Diplomatic efforts to contain Iran are likely to proceed slowly, given Russian and Chinese opposition to punitive action. A Foreign Office official said although the IAEA would refer Iran to the security council, any sanctions would be a “strictly step-by-step process”.

Additional reporting: Tom Walker

 

“THE ARROW KNOWS HOW TO INTERCEPT THE SHIHAB MISSILE”

Arrow can block ‘any Iranian missile’
By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
March 2, 2006

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1139395526470&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

Israel’s Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile system is capable of intercepting and destroying any Iranian missiles, even were they to carry nuclear warheads, a high-ranking IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

While Iran is Israel’s most serious strategic and existential threat, the country, he said confidently, was sufficiently protected by the Arrow, which plays a major role in maintaining Israel’s protective envelope.

“We will shoot all of [Iran’s missiles] down,” he told the Post. “The Arrow knows how to intercept the Shihab missile.”

Just last year that wasn’t the case.

Appearing before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Brig.-Gen. Ilan Bitton – head of Israel’s Air Defense Forces – said that, while the Arrow was highly effective against the Scud missiles that make up most of Syria’s arsenal, it “needed improvement” to face the challenges posed by Iran’s Shihab-3.

Improvements were recently made to the Arrow, the officer said, explaining the new confidence, and it was now able to detect even a missile carrying a split warhead and armed with decoys meant to fool the anti-missile system.

Asked about the danger of the Arrow taking out a non-conventional or nuclear missile over Israel, the officer said that the incoming missile would be destroyed at such a high altitude that it would disperse and destroy its payload without causing any casualties.

“There is constant pressure to always stay a step ahead of our adversaries,” the officer said. “They developed decoys on their missiles and we developed ways to detect the decoys and to be able to accurately strike the incoming threat.”

The Arrow 2 was last tested in December and succeeded in intercepting an incoming rocket simulating an Iranian Shihab at an altitude higher than ever before tested in the previous 13 Arrow launches. While the Arrow was Israel’s first line of defense against an Iranian-launched missile, air force Patriot batteries – known for their action during the first Gulf War – also followed incoming missiles and served as the country’s back-up interception system.

Israel has at least two operational Arrow batteries, with reportedly hundreds of missiles for each battery. One is stationed at Palmahim to protect Tel Aviv and the other is at Ein Shemer near Hadera in the north.

The Iranian threat, the officer said, was not only felt by Israel but also prompted European countries that fall within the Shihab’s long range to begin development of or negotiations to purchase anti-missile defense systems similar to the Arrow. Turkey was recently mentioned in the media as interested in purchasing the Arrow missile defense system in an effort to improve its aerial defense in light of Iran’s procurement of the deadly Shihab.

“Europe has noticed the threat and is becoming a bigger player in the development of active [missile] defense systems,” the officer said. “They are busy developing, researching and waking up.”

Israel, the officer said, was constantly improving its capabilities in the face of the growing threats from its Arab neighbors. “The threats from the other side have become deadlier,” the officer said. “But we have also been in the process of development and updating so we can always be a step ahead of them.”

The Arrow project began over 12 years ago to address the threat posed by relatively crude Scud missiles, like the ones Iraq fired into Israel during the Gulf War. But as the project developed, the defense establishment was determined not to focus on past wars but to look ahead to future threats, including faster rockets launched from farther away, possibly with multiple warheads. Nearly $2.5 billion has already been invested in the missile defense system, with two-thirds of the funding coming from the US Missile Defense Agency.

But while Israel was protected from the Shihab by the Arrow, cities were left vulnerable and unprotected from Katyusha rockets – several thousand of which are in the hands of Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon – and Palestinian-developed Kassam rockets. While the technology to intercept and destroy these low-tech rockets was in existence, the officer claimed that the funding to develop systems to do so was not. The Arrow is irrelevant as regards missiles with a range of less than 60-70 km.

“There are constant efforts to develop a system,” the officer said. “There will be a solution one day, since the technology exists and the problem is the financing.”


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.