Books on Iran
Update No: 033 - (26/08/04)
War of words escalates on the US front
During August the rhetorical campaign of the Bush administration against the
Iranian eshtablishment continued to accelerate, with bellicose statements coming
from Condoleeza Rice and John Bolton, under-secretary of state for arms control.
The Bush administration, in short, is implying with increasing strength that
covert action and air attacks are not ruled out as a way to prevent Iran from
developing nuclear weapons. For sure at the forthcoming 13 September meeting of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the Bush administration will ask
that Iran be declared in breach of the non-proliferation treaty, a step that if
successful would likely lead to the establishment of sanctions against Iran.
Members of the administration have been claiming that even key European
countries are now moving in such a direction, although this might be an
overstatement, as even Britain, traditionally the most pro-US European country,
does not seem to have abandoned the policy of "constructive
engagement" yet. Despite the increasing toughness of the Bush
administration, which might be linked to the forthcoming presidential elections,
Washington's stand suffered a blow in August when the IAEA established that at
least some of the samples of enriched uranium found in Iran were indeed of
foreign (Pakistani) origins, as claimed by Teheran. Although the origin of the
large majority of the samples has not been tracked down, the announcement lent
some credibility to the claim that Iran was never involved in enriching uranium.
And on the Iraqi front too
If on the front of the nuclear program Teheran could still hope to hold out
for some time as the end of August approached, it was obviously very worried by
the rapid deterioration of its relations with the new Iraqi government. Already
in July the Iraqi Interior Minister had accused Iran of being involved in the
unrest in Iraq, while the Defence minister was even more blunt. Teheran reacted
by dismissing the accusations as the product of the "inexperience" of
the ministers involved. The initial controversies were apparently settled when a
spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi declared that the views of individual
ministers were not those of the government as a whole. At the beginning of
August another row emerged when Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi postponed his visit
to Teheran, alleging the presence in Teheran of a "political
opponent". Furthermore, the Iraqi Defence Minister, however, continued his
verbal attacks on Teheran, asking on 4 August that Iran immediately returns 130
planes held since Saddam Hussein sent them to Iran in 1991. By mid-August
rumours were circulating in Baghdad that 30 Iranians had been caught fighting
with the Shiite rebels and that Iranian weapons had been found in the hands of
the followers of radical cleric Al-Sadr. Then four alleged Iranian intelligence
officers were arrested by the Iraqi police. Finally, four staff members of the
Iranian news agency (IRNA) were arrested in Baghdad, presumably because of their
reporting, very favourable to al-Sadr and his movement. In this context, the
fact that Iran's Export Guarantee Fund has been authorized in August to cover
exports to Iraq, in order to strengthen the business ties between the two
countries, is unlikely to have much impact at the diplomatic level.
Old enemies Turkey and Saudi Arabia come closer
As has been usual over the last few years, Tehran continues to try to
strengthen its links with the neighbouring countries. The most remarkable
development in August was the declaration of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah that
Iran is a "brotherly and friendly" country. The new friendship with
Saudi Arabia, once a sworn enemy of Iran, is likely the outcome of the pressure
under which both Teheran and Riyad are from the US government. Although the
visit to Teheran of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip in July was not an
unqualified success, two memos of understanding were signed, which committed the
two countries to improve trade relations and to improve security cooperation.
The Iranian government still has great hopes for the expansion of trade with
Turkey, which it hopes will reach US$5 billion this year. Moreover, the Turkish
Prime Minister did not mention at all the issue of Iran's nuclear program. The
issue of the price of Iranian gas, which the Turkish government wants to see
substantially reduced, and those of the new Teheran airport and of a new deal
for building Iran's first privately owned mobile phone network, were all left
unresolved. The mobile phone deal might still be sealed soon, but in the case of
the Teheran airport a major factor preventing a positive resolution was the
interference of the Revolutionary Guards, which are trying to replace the
Turkish company which won the tender for operating the airport with another in
which key commanders in the Guards have interests.
Iran sets up wind turbines in Armenia
According to Tehrantimes, the Managing Director of Sanir Company, Alireza
Kadkhodai, said on August 2nd that Iran will start installing wind turbines in
Armenia as of next year.
Kadkhodai added that necessary studies have been carried out and a suitable
location has been selected. "Wind farms are usually built on small scale
and low capacity. The Armenian wind farm would compromise four units with total
capacity of 2.6MW which can be developed to 20MW," he noted.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Azerbaijan, Iran sign cooperation agreements
Ten agreements on cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran in various spheres
were signed in Baku on August 5th, Interfax News Agency reported
An Interfax correspondent reported that Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, and
Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, took part in the signing.
The agreements include a deal on Iran presenting a US$75m credit to construct
four substations for the Imisli-Ali-Bayramli-Astara power line, as well as an
agreement on cooperation in the sphere of exchanging natural gas.
The sides signed a memorandum of mutual understanding between the two countries'
ecology agencies, and an agreement on cultural cooperation, a protocol on
cooperation in the transport sphere and a memorandum on the financing of the
Baku-Astara road's reconstruction.
A memorandum on trade in regions near the border, an intergovernmental trade
agreement and an intergovernmental agreement in the spheres of security and
law-enforcement have also been signed.
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