* Nuclear insignia on one side of the note; a picture of Ayatollah Khomeini on the other
* In what some are calling another signal as to it genocidal intent towards Jews, Iranian government announces it will print exactly six million of the new bills
* The new notes will be circulated on March 12, ahead of the Iranian New Year which commences on March 21
This dispatch concerns Iran.
1. Top Iranian general disappears
2. Ahmadinejad: Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan
3. Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric “is part of his personality”
4. Iranian scholars denounce Holocaust conference
5. Ahmadinejad completes first official visit to Saudi Arabia
6. The Saudi-Iranian talks “blew up”
7. CIA: Hizbullah “plays leading role in Iranian strategy”
8. Ahmadinejad urges Palestinians to continue “resistance”
9. Israel says Iran is training Hamas operatives
10. Women’s rights activists arrested in Teheran
11. Interpol may help nab Iranian suspects in Jewish bomb – including Rafsanjani
12. New Iranian banknote includes nuclear insignia
13. “The chemical blow that hit Halabjah was an Iranian one”
14. Pakistan “holds key to Iran’s nukes”
15. “Iran touts nuclear prowess with new banknote” (AFP, March 3, 2007)
16. “Iraq: Tariq Aziz says Iran, not Iraq, hit Kurds with chemical weapons” (Quds Press, March 5, 2007)
17. “Analysis: What actually happened in Riyadh?” (Jerusalem Post, March 4, 2007)
TOP IRANIAN GENERAL DISAPPEARS
The mysterious disappearance of a top Iranian general, Gen. Ali Reza Asgari, in Turkey in early February has led to speculation that he has either been kidnapped or may have defected.
There are conflicting reports about how and when Asgari disappeared. According to Turkish and Israeli press reports, the general arrived in Istanbul from Damascus on February 7. Some reports suggest Asgari has defected and (with his entire family) is now in a European country, where he is cooperating with the U.S. Other reports suggest that he may have been kidnapped by the Israeli secret service, the Mossad.
“This is a fatal blow to Iranian intelligence,” a CIA source told ABC news, explaining that Asgari knows sensitive information about Iran’s nuclear and military projects. Iran called tens of its Revolutionary Guard agents working at embassies and cultural centers in Arab and European countries back to Teheran out of fear that Asgari might disclose secret information about their identities, according to the analyst.
Ali Nouri Zade, an Iranian living in London writes in Asharq Al-Awsat, an influential Saudi paper published in London, that according to Iranian Police Chief Ismail Ahmadi, Asgari arrived in Turkey via Damascus. An “inside source from the Iranian army” is further quoted as confirming that Asgari is currently in the hands of the Americans in one of the countries in Northern Europe, and that the Americans are preparing to send him to the U.S. For more, see this article (which has been specially located for this email list/website).
By contrast, the London Daily Telegraph speculated on Monday that Asgari could have been abducted by Israel to shed light on the whereabouts of missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad, who Israel says might be being held by Iran. It is believed that Asgari was involved in a deal to transfer Arad from his Lebanese kidnappers to the Iranians in exchange for a large sum of money.
Asgari’s years with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian defense ministry would make him an invaluable source of information. He was reportedly based in Lebanon in the 1990s and was in charge of ties between Iran and Hizbullah.
He was also in charge of military purchases at the Iranian defense ministry and exposed widespread corruption there which led to the arrest of a number of officials. Most recently, he worked as a consultant for the defense ministry.
As is the case for any senior spy, little is known about Gen. Azkari’s career. He also served as deputy defense minister under former defense minister Gen. Ali Samahani.
AHMADINEJAD: ZIONISTS ARE THE TRUE MANIFESTATION OF SATAN
On a visit to Sudan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said “The Zionists [the Jews] are the true manifestation of Satan.” The comments came when Ahmadinejad addressed a meeting of Sudanese Islamic scholars during a state visit last week. The Iranian leader went on to denounce “the Zionists’ hedonistic and materialistic tendencies.”
Prior to leaving Iran, Ahmadinejad told the state-run Iranian IRNA news agency that his meetings with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir would play an important role in promoting mutual relations and cooperation in political, economic and cultural fields.
Iran has threatened Israel with genocide. Sudan is actively helping the genocide of non-Arab peoples in its Darfur region.
AHMADINEJAD’S RHETORIC “IS PART OF HIS PERSONALITY”
Following comments by Ahmadinejad last week that Iran’s nuclear program is “an unstoppable train without brakes,” the Iranian President has faced a round of sharp criticism at home.
The conservative daily paper Resalat chided Ahmadinejad, saying “neither weakness nor unnecessarily offensive language is acceptable in foreign policy... Our foreign policy must reflect the ancient Iranian civilization and rich Islamic culture of the Iranian nation,” the newspaper said.
Ahmadinejad’s critics have grown more vocal since his allies suffered a humiliating defeat in local elections in December. Iranian political analyst Iraj Jamshidi told AP that it appeared “the top leadership has cautioned him about his remarks,” but he added that Ahmadinejad’s tough rhetoric “is part of his personality.”
Nevertheless such fiery language is helping to whip up popular support among many Iranians for the idea of using a nuclear weapon on Israel.
IRANIAN SCHOLARS DENOUNCE HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE
In a statement sent to The New York Times and circulated on the Internet, a group of Iranian academics, writers and artists have denounced the Holocaust conference held in Teheran last December, calling it a move that endangered peace and hurt the reputation of Iranian academics.
More than 20 academics, writers and artists, many of whom live outside of Iran, signed the statement, saying “Those who perpetuate the discourse on Holocaust denial ignore the feelings of the people directly affected by this event... The accuracy of the accounts has been acknowledged by many academic, political and religious authorities, including the Catholic Church.”
In addition the statement said that denying the Holocaust would not help the Palestinian cause.
Among those joining the Iranian president at the conference were European Holocaust deniers, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and a group of self-hating, highly disturbed Jews called Neturei Karta.
AHMADINEJAD COMPLETES FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT TO SAUDI ARABIA
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Riyadh on Saturday in his first official visit to Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, a trip that many in the region hoped would help calm Shia-Sunni tensions threatening Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere.
The Iranian president previously visited the kingdom in December 2005, but only to participate in an Islamic summit in the city of Mecca.
Saudi newspapers, which are government-vetted, struck a welcoming tone in editorials, saying they hoped Ahmadinejad’s visit signaled an Iranian willingness to revise its regional policies. “We wish you the very best on your first official visit to Saudi Arabia,” said the Saudi Gazette.
King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, personally received Ahmadinejad at the airport, the official Saudi Press Agency news agency reported.
THE SAUDI-IRANIAN TALKS “BLEW UP”
In an article from the Jerusalem Post attached below, Guy Bechor, head of Middle Eastern Studies at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, attempts to ascertain “What actually happened in Riyadh.”
Bechor believes that “the talks blew up” since it was strange for Ahmadinejad “not to have stayed at least a night on such an important visit, one that had been prepared ahead of time. Shortly before midnight, it was announced suddenly that Ahmadinejad was returning to Teheran.”
Bechor continues: “The fact remains that Ahmadinejad and the Saudis did not voice any intention of continuing talks after the visit. Also, no official message on the meeting was published, as is the norm. Ahmadinejad has a hot temper, and he tends to get offended. Maybe he thought that the Saudis were interfering in something that was none of their business.”
“As he returned to Iran, Ahmadinejad was met at the Teheran airport by reporters. He told them that he had spoken with the Saudis on Iraq, the ethnic issue, Lebanon, and the Palestinians, and did not mention the nuclear program – an additional indication that this was the subject that had caused the crisis.”
For more on Iran-Saudi relations, see the dispatch Saudis “to buy nuclear bomb” from Pakistan to counter Iranian threat (Dec. 17, 2006).
CIA: HIZBULLAH “PLAYS LEADING ROLE IN IRANIAN STRATEGY”
U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Hizbullah is playing an increasingly significant role in Iran’s asymmetrical warfare strategy.
CIA officials said Iran has been financing and training Hizbullah to strike U.S. interests in retaliation for any U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. They said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards have been working with Hizbullah to designate U.S. targets in the Middle East and elsewhere.
AHMADINEJAD URGES PALESTINIANS TO CONTINUE “RESISTANCE”
In a meeting yesterday with Hamas chief Khaled Meshal, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Muslim states to support the new Palestinian unity government.
“The Zionist regime of Israel is in its worst period of life and its condition is deteriorating. Muslim states are required to support the popular government of Palestine,” he said.
Ahmadinejad continued: “Divine victory, which is the result of resistance and faith of the oppressed Palestinian nation, is imminent. The Palestinian people should be wise and support the Palestinian government-elect, thus preparing the ground for liberation of noble Quds [Jerusalem].”
Contrary to misreports on the BBC, Meshal clearly re-stated Hamas’ resolve not to recognize Israel. The Iranian Foreign Minister, Manushehr Mottaki also said Teheran will give tens of millions more dollars to the Palestinian Authority.
ISRAEL SAYS IRAN IS TRAINING HAMAS OPERATIVES
The chief of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, has told The New York Times and other papers that Hamas had sent dozens of terrorists from Gaza to Iran for military training.
“We know that Hamas has started to dispatch people to Iran, tens, and a promise of hundreds,” the intelligence chief, Yuval Diskin, told a small group of correspondents in a rare on-the-record briefing. They are receiving highly sophisticated training in how to maximize Israeli deaths.
WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ARRESTED IN TEHERAN
Iranian security forces on Sunday arrested 33 women’s rights activists rallying outside a Teheran court where a group of their fellow campaigners were standing trial for having demonstrated last year. The 33 were taken to the notorious Evin prison, which has the largest number of political prisoners in Iran and where many prisoners say they have been tortured.
The arrests on Sunday were part of a crackdown against political activity by women and protests in general since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.
Five women were standing trial for organizing an “unauthorized” rally to ask for equal rights for women. Seventy people, most of them women, were arrested at the protest last June when they called for improved rights and changes to laws discriminating against women. Under Iranian law, married women have to go through a lengthy process to be granted a divorce, and the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man.
* This week saw International Women’s Day, and some western NGOs (predictably) used the occasion to attack Israel and America. Next year they might want to try criticizing the following practices against women, which are widespread in the Muslim world:
1. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
2. Trafficking of women
4. Honor Killings
And instead of attacking Israel, they also might like to demand the rights of women to:
1. Freedom of religion
3. Free speech
4. Participation in the electoral process
INTERPOL MAY HELP NAB IRANIAN SUSPECTS IN JEWISH BOMB – INCLUDING RAFSANJANI
Interpol yesterday issued “red notices,” or international wanted requests, calling for the arrest of nine former prominent Iranian officials sought in connection with Argentina’s worst terrorist attack. The nine, wanted in Argentina for the 1994 bombing of the capital’s Jewish cultural center (which killed 86 people and wounded over 200), include former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, as well as Iran’s former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati and former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian.
With 186 member countries, Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization. It facilitates cross-border police cooperation, including worldwide distribution of arrest warrants and alerts for capture issued by member states.
NEW IRANIAN BANKNOTE INCLUDES NUCLEAR INSIGNIA
Iran is to issue a new high-denomination banknote marking the country’s achievements in nuclear technology.
The new 50,000 rial note (roughly five dollars), worth more than twice the value of any other note in circulation, displays a picture of the standard nuclear insignia of electrons in orbit around an atom.
“If the science exists in this constellation, men from Persia will reach it,” says the calligraphic legend beside the atomic orbit, quoting a saying from the Prophet Mohammed.
On the front of the note is a picture of the Islamic republic’s founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
“In the first phase six million bills will be printed and before the end of the year another six million notes will be printed,” the Iranian government said. Others noted this was the figure of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
The new notes will be circulated on March 12, ahead of the Iranian New Year which commences on March 21. (For more see the first article attached below.)
Germany is continuing to increase business with Iran, rather than decrease it as those calling for trade sanctions to halt Iran’s nuclear program are asking. The latest example came yesterday when German utility E.On AG said it was in talks with Iran about a potential deal to buy liquid natural gas – a step that could help Germany ease its dependence on Russian gas.
“THE CHEMICAL BLOW THAT HIT HALABJAH WAS AN IRANIAN ONE”
Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister and one of the most prominent political figures in the Saddam era, has testified in the ongoing Al-Anfal case that it was not Iraq but Iran that shelled the region of Halabjah with chemical weapons and killed hundreds. (In fact thousands of Kurds were killed; and needless to say, Tariq Aziz is also not the most reliable source about who ordered the attack – T.G.)
Aziz cited a U.S. Pentagon report which was released in 1989 “that confirmed that the chemical blow that hit Halabjah was an Iranian one and not an Iraqi one. This report is still on the Internet site of this institute.”
Aziz added: “The gases that led to the deaths in Halabjah are cyanide, which is fatal, and during that time, Iran had cyanide gas but Iraq did not.” For more, see the second article attached below.
PAKISTAN “HOLDS KEY TO IRAN’S NUKES”
Pakistan is said to hold a significant key to the U.S. intelligence effort against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Former Indian Cabinet secretary B. Rahman says that Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan was more knowledgeable than U.S. intelligence on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He added Khan was a key consultant in uranium enrichment and other elements of Iran’s nuclear program.
“It is likely that A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, who clandestinely collaborated with Iran with the approval of the Pakistan Army and supplied the centrifuges, is a storehouse of information on Natanz – if not on Isfahan,” Raman writes in a new report entitled “The Man Who Knows More About Natanz Than CIA.” “It is very important that the U.S. gets hold of him and interrogates him thoroughly before finalizing its options.”
In a separate report, the Pakistani newspaper “Pak Tribune” writes that former Pakistani intelligence chief, Gen. Hameed Gul, has said that the United States wants to use Pakistan’s territory for any attack on Iran.
I attach three articles below.
-- Tom Gross
“IF THE SCIENCE EXISTS IN THIS CONSTELLATION, MEN FROM PERSIA WILL REACH IT”
Iran touts nuclear prowess with new banknote
AFP (Agence France Presse)
March 3, 2007
Iran is to issue a new high-denomination banknote marking the country’s achievements in nuclear technology at a time of mounting tension with the West over its atomic programme, the IRNA agency reported Saturday.
The new 50,000 rial note – at around five dollars worth more than twice the value of any other note in circulation – sports a picture of the standard nuclear insignia of electrons in orbit around an atom.
“If the science exists in this constellation, men from Persia will reach it,” says the calligraphic legend beside the atomic orbit, quoting a saying (Hadith) from the Prophet Mohammed.
On the front of the note is a picture of the Islamic republic’s founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which according to the law must be on all Iranian currency.
Iran has defied UN demands for a halt to sensitive nuclear activities and instead has pressed on with its atomic programme which has become a source of national pride.
The head of printing at the Islamic republic’s central bank, Jalal Jalilian, denied there was any link between the issuing of the note and rising prices of basic foodstuffs in Iran.
“Bank notes are a medium of exchange and (their printing) has nothing to do with depreciation of the national currency,” he said.
The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been criticised by economists for expansionary policies that risk fuelling inflation. Prices of poultry, red meat and vegetables have risen in recent months.
The official rate of inflation is put at around 13 percent although unofficial rates put the figure much higher.
Jalilian said that the new notes would be circulated on March 12 ahead of the Iranian new year which commences on March 21.
“In the first phase six million bills will be printed and before the end of the year another six million notes will be printed. Its printing will continue next year too,” Jalilian said.
The note is the first new bill issued since February 2004 when Iran’s Central Bank introduced a 20,000 rial bill. A dollar is now worth roughly 9,300 rials. Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution it stood at 70 rials.
TARIQ AZIZ: IRAN, NOT IRAQ, HIT KURDS WITH CHEMICAL WEAPONS
Iraq: Tariq Aziz says Iran, not Iraq, hit Kurds with chemical weapons
Text of report by Quds Press web news agency, in Arabic
March 5, 2007
Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and one of the most prominent political figures in the Ba’th Party era, has testified in the Al-Anfal case in which six senior officials of the former regime are being tried. The six officials are charged with committing mass annihilation of the Kurds in Halabjah in northern Iraq using chemical weapons. Aziz said that it was not Iraq but Iran that shelled the region of Halabjah with chemical weapons and killed hundreds.
Tariq Aziz was one of the most prominent political figures in Iraq during the rule of former President Saddam Husayn. He was the Foreign Minister of Iraq from 1983 to 1991 before he occupied the post of deputy prime minister that was often occupied by Saddam Husayn. Aziz also gained prominence as Iraq’s representative in several international forums in view of his strong personality and diplomatic acumen.
After Aziz entered the courthouse, a verbal altercation ensued between him and Judge Muhammad al-Uraybi. Aziz glorified the late president and described him as a wise leader, which angered Judge Al-Uraybi who threatened Aziz to take strict deterrent measures against him if he glorified the late president again.
Aziz said: “I wish to clarify several essential points related to the northern region and to the events that took place there. In 1984, the Turkish Foreign Minister visited Iraq and asked for permission to allow Turkish forces to enter Iraqi territory to a distance of five kilometres by land and 20 kilometres by air in order to pursue the Kurdish Workers’ Party”.
Aziz added, “The Iraqi government approved this request on condition that Iraq be given a similar status on Turkish soil. This agreement was signed in the Foreign Ministry and Muhammad al-Haj Mahmud, the present Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, was the head of the Legal Department at the time”. Aziz went on to say, “The second point to which I wish to refer is that the Defence Institute in the US Pentagon released a report in 1989 that confirmed that the chemical blow that hit Halabjah was an Iranian one and not an Iraqi one. This report is still on the Internet site of this institute”.
Aziz added, “This research study points out that the weapon that was used by Iraq during that period was mustard gas, which is not fatal. The rate of mortality resulting from the use of this gas does not exceed 2 per cent”. He went on to say, “The gases that led to the deaths in Halabjah are cyanide, which is fatal, and during that time, Iran had cyanide gas but Iraq did not”.
Addressing the judge, Aziz said: “You can verify this fact with Iraqi chemical experts”. He added, “A Kurdish delegation headed by Jalal Talabani negotiated with the Iraqi government on the issues of self-rule, the posts they occupy, and the role of the Kurdish parties. There was no mention of a Kurdish genocide”.
He added, “In 1991, Jalal Talabani and Mas’ud al-Barazani asked for compensation for the villages that were destroyed during the Iraqi-Iranian war. They inquired about the Kurdish political detainees and those that were dismissed from their jobs and how they could be reinstated. They did not discuss genocidal crimes against the Kurds”. Aziz said that the defendants in the Al-Anfal case are being tried for the war against Iran and not for a genocidal war against the Kurds.
THE TENSION BUILDS
Analysis: What actually happened in Riyadh?
By Dr. Guy Bechor
The Jerusalem Post
March 4, 2007
It would have been a sensitive visit in any case – a meeting between the two most prominent figures in the Middle East today, who represent the Shi’ite and Sunni worlds – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz VI.
Everyone understood that this was a visit that would have to be prepared carefully. Ahmadinejad’s personal representative Ali Larijani visited Riyadh. Larijani is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and the subject of the Riyadh visit was obvious. Larijani came to Riyadh twice, and Saudi Arabia’s third-ranking official, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, traveled to Teheran.
Bandar’s father, Prince Sultan (the country’s minister of defense) is next in line to the Saudi throne, as his half-brother Abdullah is already over 85. Bandar maintains close ties with the Muhabarat [special police force] in Saudi Arabia, whose main function is protecting the country from terror (mainly Shi’ite), and is expected to succeed his father as king.
Iran worries the Saudis greatly, especially its nuclear potential, which, as far as the Saudis are concerned, is the number one problem on the agenda. Obviously, this visit was significant for the Saudis.
Saturday evening, Ahmadinejad landed in Riyadh to a king’s welcome. Feasts were prepared for him. Abdullah meant to speak with him about everything, but first and foremost the nuclear issue. Because they don’t share a common language (Ahmadinejad knows only Farsi, and Abdullah doesn’t speak it) the conversation was conducted through an interpreter. Abdullah was obviously trying. He sat close to Ahmadinejad, something he doesn’t often do with his guests, and tried to smile for the cameras before the meeting.
There are still no details on the conversation itself, but Abdullah apparently warned Ahmadinejad about the Americans, who are increasing their presence in the Persian Gulf. I believe that Abdullah offered to mediate between the Iranians and the Americans, and he has the ability to do so comparatively well. After the first round of talks, they left for dinner, and later resumed talks.
Shortly before midnight, it was announced suddenly that Ahmadinejad was returning to Teheran. I believe that the talks blew up, since it’s strange for him not to have stayed at least a night on such an important visit, one that had been prepared ahead of time.
The fact remains that Ahmadinejad and the Saudis did not voice any intention of continuing talks after the visit. Also, no official message on the meeting was published, as is the norm. Ahmadinejad has a hot temper, and he tends to get offended. Maybe he thought that the Saudis were interfering in something that was none of their business.
As he returned to Iran, Ahmadinejad was met at the Teheran airport by reporters. He told them that he had spoken with the Saudis on Iraq, the ethnic issue, Lebanon, and the Palestinians, and did not mention the nuclear program – an additional indication that this was the subject that had caused the crisis.
The Iranian president essentially spurned the Saudis’ hand, extended in hopes of preventing a major crisis in the Gulf. The Saudis themselves are also afraid of such a crisis, with its many possible scenarios. Could the 15 percent of their Shi’ite population begin an uprising? Could Iran attack them? This scares them.
Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, sales talk and when to make his move. Apparently he has decided that it isn’t yet time to let Iran off its crazy merry-go-round, and continues to defy the United States and the West.
This week, the UN Security Council is supposed to decide on harsher sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, though not economic ones, and the Americans continue to up their presence on Iran’s borders and coast. The tension builds.