Iran: Timetable Set for Americans’ Trial
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: June 14, 2011
Iran expects to make a final decision by late August in the case of three Americans charged with espionage, the official news agency IRNA said on Tuesday. The agency quoted Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, as saying that the next court date in the case is set for the court’s summer session from June 22 to Aug. 22 and that officials “are hopeful” a final decision will be made during that time. The three Americans — Shane M. Bauer, Josh F. Fattal and Sarah E. Shourd — were detained in July 2009 along the Iran-Iraq border. The two men remain in custody; Ms. Shourd, Mr. Bauer’s fiancée, was released last year on $500,000 bail and has refused to return to Iran for trial. The three deny the accusations. The trial had been scheduled to resume May 11, but the session was called off. Mr. Dowlatabadi said the delay resulted from a lack of coordination.
See also Trita Parsi’s article in the Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trita-parsi/release-josh-and-shane-an_b_871773.html
Silent Tehran Protesters Arrested On Anniversary Of Disputed Vote
|By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Arrests and clashes have been reported in Tehran on the anniversary of the disputed 2009 reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad that led to mass street protests. Opposition websites and witnesses say dozens were arrested in the Iranian capital on June 12 while marching silently to mark the anniversary.
The opposition Kalame website reported that several hundred Iranians were detained on Vali Asr Street while marching peacefully.
“Demonstrators remained silent and calm even while they were being detained,” Kalame said, citing its reporters in Tehran.
A demonstrator told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that many opposition supporters marched under the eyes of the security forces.
“We started walking on Vali Asr Street. As [expected] special forces were deployed on both sides of the street like a human wall,” the man said. “But people ignored them and continued walking on the sidewalks without chanting.”
Protesting In Silence
Representatives of the opposition Green Movement had called for a “silent rally” to mark the vote, which the opposition says was massively rigged in favor of Ahmadinejad. The charge has been denied by the Iranian authorities, who have called the 2009 presidential vote free and fair.
Yet they have cracked down on opposition activists and put them in jail. In February they put opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi under house arrest after they called for a demonstration that attracted tens of thousands of Iranians.
In recent months, Iran’s leaders have praised the Arab uprisings while using force against opposition protesters who have taken to the streets.
Speaking in Washington on June 11, Musavi’s spokesman, Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, said the government repression had not managed to silence the opposition Green Movement, which was formed during the protests that followed the disputed election.
“The Green Movement might have changed its tactics in response to the crackdown, but it has found a way to continue its existence,” Arjomand said.
Security Forces Massed
The Sahamnews website said on June 12 that riot police and plainclothes agents attacked opposition demonstrators with batons at a park on Vali Asr Street.
“Shopkeepers were ordered to close their shops…hundreds of people have gathered in other areas of Tehran,” the website said.
One witness told RFE/RL that in some parts of Tehran hundreds of security forces were deployed to prevent protests. She said she also saw many Basij militia members and plainclothes agents roaming the streets on motorbikes.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported that security forces arrested “some individuals” who were trying to disrupt the peace.
“The powerful presence of security forces in Tehran prevented a few elements from reaching their goal of disrupting the peaceful atmosphere of the society with foreign guidance,” IRNA reported, while accusing foreign media of inciting people in Tehran to take part in the silent protest.
The anniversary of the election was overshadowed by the news of the death of a prominent journalist and national religious activist, Hoda Saber, who died from a heart attack following a hunger strike.
The 54-year-old Saber, who was jailed in the crackdown that followed the protests against the presidential election in 2009, died in a Tehran hospital where he was transferred from Evin prison.
He had gone on a hunger strike some 10 days before to protest the death of another dissident,Haleh Sahabi, at the funeral of her father. Sahabi reportedly died from a heart attack following a scuffle with security forces.
Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
Seymour Hersh on RT:
US is ignoring its own intelligence on Iran…
click above to see what else he says.
LA Times Op-Ed
Nuclear proliferation: Engaging Iran
A period of uncertainty in the Arab world and the Middle East offers an opportunity to reconsider the West’s position on Iran and restart negotiations over its nuclear program.
|President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles as he is shown equipment at Iran’s nuclear facility near the central town of Natanz, the site of controversial uranium enrichment. (Office of the Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran / April 8, 2008)|
June 9, 2011
As ambassadors to Iran during the last decade, we have all followed closely the development of the nuclear crisis between Iran and the international community. It is unacceptable that the talks have been deadlocked for such a long time.
The Arab world and the Middle East are entering a new epoch in which no country is immune from change. This includes the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is facing the disaffection of a significant part of its population. Such a period of uncertainty offers opportunities for reconsidering the West’s established position on the Iranian nuclear question.
In terms of international law, the position of Europe and the United States is perhaps less assured than is generally believed. Basically, it is embodied in a set of resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council authorizing coercive measures in case of “threats to the peace.”
But what constitutes the threat? Is it the enrichment of uranium in Iranian centrifuges? This is certainly a sensitive activity, by a sensitive country, in a highly sensitive region. The concerns expressed by the international community are legitimate, and Iran has a moral duty, as well as a political need, to answer them.
In principle, however, nothing in international law or in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty forbids the enrichment of uranium. Besides Iran, several other countries, parties or not to the treaty, enrich uranium without being accused of “threatening the peace.” And in Iran, this activity is submitted to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. These inspections, it is true, are constrained by a safeguards agreement dating from the 1970s. But it is also true that the IAEA has never uncovered in Iran any attempted diversion of nuclear material to military use.
Is the threat to the peace, then, that Iran is actively attempting to build a nuclear weapon? For at least three years, the United States intelligence community has discounted this hypothesis. The U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, testified in February to Congress: “We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons…. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons…. We continue to judge that Iran’s nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran.”
Today, a majority of experts, even in Israel, seems to view Iran as striving to become a “threshold country,” technically able to produce a nuclear weapon but abstaining from doing so for the present. Again, nothing in international law or in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty forbids such an ambition. Like Iran, several other countries are on their way to or have already reached such a threshold but have committed not to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody seems to bother them.
We often hear that Iran’s ill-will, its refusal to negotiate seriously, left our countries no other choice but to drag it to the Security Council in 2006. Here also, things are not quite that clear.
Let us remember that in 2005 Iran was ready to discuss a ceiling limit for the number of its centrifuges and to maintain its rate of enrichment far below the high levels necessary for weapons. Tehran also expressed its readiness to put into force the additional protocol that it had signed with the IAEA allowing intrusive inspections throughout Iran, even in non-declared sites. But at that time, the Europeans and the Americans wanted to compel Iran to forsake its enrichment program entirely.
Today, Iranians assume that this is still the goal of Europe and America, and that it is for this reason that the Security Council insists on suspension of all Iranian enrichment activities. But the goal of “zero centrifuges operating in Iran, permanently or temporarily,” is unrealistic, and it has heavily contributed to the present standoff.
Of course, a dilemma lingers in the minds of most of our leaders. Why offer the Iranian regime an opening that could help it restore its internal and international legitimacy? Should we not wait for a more palatable successor before making a new overture?
This is a legitimate question, but we should not overestimate the influence of a nuclear negotiation on internal developments in Iran. Ronald Reagan used to call the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” but that did not stop him from negotiating intensely with Mikhail Gorbachev on nuclear disarmament. Should we blame him for having slowed down the course of history?
The five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany should certainly keep the focus on matters of political and human rights, but they should also try harder to solve a frustrating and still urgent proliferation problem. By doing so, we would reduce a serious source of tension in a region that longs more than ever for tranquility.
The failure of the last round of negotiations in Istanbul at the end of January and the last disappointing exchange of letters between the parties show only too well that the current deadlock will be difficult to break. On the process, the more discreet and technical negotiations are, the better chance they will have to progress. And on the substance, we already know that any solution will have to build on the quality of the inspection system of the IAEA.
Either we trust IAEA’s ability to supervise all its member states, including Iran, or we do not. And if the answer is that we do not, then we must ask why, if the organization is effective only with its most virtuous members, we should continue to maintain it.
The next step should be for the two sides in this conflict to ask the IAEA what additional tools it needs to monitor the Iranian nuclear program fully and provide credible assurances that all the activities connected with it are purely peaceful in intent. The agency’s answer would offer a basis for the next round of pragmatic negotiations with Iran.