Mideast war in ‘very’ near future?


By Aaron Klein

Dramatic escalation in cooperation between Israel’s foes

Egyptian trucks cross a bridge laid across the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War

JERUSALEM – Egypt is concerned Israel could be in a conflict in the very near future with Syria or the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, a senior Egyptian security official told WND.

The security official said in any future war with Syria or Hezbollah, both actors have been preparing to storm the Israeli border with guerillas and commandos, an act unseen here since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the last conflict in which Syria was openly involved.

In previous conflicts with Hezbollah, the terrorist group fired rockets into Israel.

In addition, the security official said Syria has separately been contemplating launching low-grade attacks against Jewish communities in the Golan Heights to pressure Israel into negotiations aimed at relinquishing the strategic territory.

The official said his country is concerned about a coming conflict but did not mention a specific timeframe.

“It’s possible either side may misinterpret moves and launch the opening salvo very soon,” he said.

The official also said Israel is concerned Syria has recently passes advanced weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon. He said his country believes Israel may want to engage in a conflict with Hezbollah to minimize that group’s capabilities before any future strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Hezbollah could be used as part of Iran’s strategy of retaliation against Iran in a future war, the official said.

Recent weeks have seen a war of words between Israel and Syria, as well as a dramatic escalation of public cooperation between Israel’s foes Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Last month, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, that any war with his country would topple his regime.

“Assad should know that if he attacks, he will not only lose the war. Neither he nor his family will remain in power,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman was responding to a Syrian threat against Israeli cities one day earlier.

“Israel knows that if it declares war on Syria, such a war will reach its cities as well,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said following a meeting last week with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos.

Syria has long demanded the Golan Heights as part of any deal with Israel. The Golan looks down on Israeli population centers and twice was used by Damascus to launch ground invasions into the Jewish state.

Last week, Syria hosted a summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and Khaled Meshal, head of the Hamas. All participants expressed solidarity with each other and vowed the destruction of Israel.

The meeting was followed up with another confab in Iran last weekend entitled “Islamic and National Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The summit was attended by the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria. All three again denounced Israel.

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Ex-Mossad chief: Israel can hit Iran without U.S. OK


‘A nuclear Tehran with the present regime is a threat of survival scale’

Shabtai Shavit, Ex-Mossad chief

JERUSALEM – Israel does not need American permission to strike Iran, said Shabtai Shavit, former chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, in an exclusive interview with Aaron Klein, WND’s Jerusalem bureau chief.

Asked whether Israel must coordinate with the U.S. on any future military actions against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Shavit replied, “I don’t think that Israel needs American permission when it comes to the survival of Israel.”

“But I would expect Israel to try to coordinate such a move if push comes to shove,” Shavit said.

Shavit, who traditionally shies away from news media interviews, was speaking during an interview on New York’s WABC Radio with Klein, who hosts a weekend show on station.

Shavit posited that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declaration last week that his country is a nuclear state “proves that the international strategy addressing the nuclear threat until today was completely wrong.”

Shavit said he doesn’t see a consensus materializing to push through the crippling sanctions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been lobbying for.

Shavit did suggest, however, strong sanctions may still work to dissuade Iran from forging ahead with its nuclear ambitions.

“If there is a consensus among the U.S., Europe, Russia and China, I believe it is still possible to convince the Iranians that for them the price that they will have to pay for achieving the nuclear ways is prohibitive for them,” he said.

Asked by Klein whether Israel should strike Iran if sanctions failed and Tehran pressed ahead with its uranium enrichment program, Shavit replied, “I wouldn’t like to elaborate too much about this section, but I will only say that a nuclear Iran with the present regime of the extremists’ fanaticism – this is a threat of a survival scale.”

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Iran protests intensify, prompting state of emergency in Isfahan


Iran security forces stepped up clashes with protesters in Isfahan Wednesday, the birthplace of dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, whose death has energized the opposition.

Iranian police officers, foreground, prevent mourners from approaching the house of the Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the spiritual father of Iran's reform movement, prior to his funeral ceremony, in the city of Qom, Monday.

By Scott Peterson

Istanbul, Turkey

Iran security forces and opposition protesters stepped up clashes on Wednesday in the city of Isfahan, the birthplace of Iran’s top dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Montazeri’s death this past weekend, and the rituals marking his passing, coincide with a new push by regime opponents during a 10-day religious commemoration.

The government has responded by harassing two reformist clerics who could replace Montazeri, as well as stripping the opposition’s top political figure – Mir Hossein Mousavi – of his sole official post.

In Isfahan, pro-regime basiji militiamen used batons, chains, and stones to beat mourners who gathered at the city’s main mosque to remember Montazeri, the spiritual mentor of the Iranian opposition, whose websites reported the clashes.

“While people were reciting the Quran [in the mosque], plainclothed forces attacked them and threw tear gas into the mosque yard and sprayed those inside with pepper spray after they closed the doors,” reported the reformist Parlemannews. “They severely beat the people inside,” then doused the clerical speaker with pepper spray and arrested him.

“Tens of thousands gathered outside for the memorial but were savagely attacked by security forces and the basijis,” witness Farid Salavati told the Associated Press. He said that dozens were injured as riot police and vigilantes clubbed and kicked men and women alike – some in the face – and arrested 50 people who had gathered to mourn the grand ayatollah.

Montazeri – the chosen successor of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, until a falling out in 1989 – had been unrelenting in his criticism of the officially declared reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June, as well as of Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is invalid,” protesters shouted on Wednesday, referring to violence since June, in which severe force has been used against Iranians who marched to reverse the official result. They wanted to see the “Green Movement” presidential candidate, Mr. Mousavi, elected. Scores died in June and thousands were arrested; protests have flared repeatedly around the nation since then.

Government announces state of emergency, calls in military for help

In Isfahan, the clashes on Wednesday portend more violence, as protesters and pro-government forces alike prepare for the religious peak of the Shiite calendar, Ashura, which falls on Sunday. By the end of the day on Wednesday, it was reported that the governor had announced a state of emergency and reportedly called in the military for help.

“The regime has no alternative but to try to block the commemorations of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, because it has been state policy to demote him,” says Mehrdad Khonsari of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London. “But given the events of the last six months, this only aggravates the situation [and] becomes a catalyst for more protests and is counter-productive.

“Every demonstration is a dress rehearsal for the next demonstration. Once Ashura is over next week, there will be more demonstrations,” says Mr. Khonsari. “The fact is there is no likelihood that these protests are going to come to an end anytime soon.”

Mousavi stripped of title

Mousavi, a former prime minister who has vowed not to back down in his challenge, was on Tuesday stripped of his one official post – as president of Iran’s Academy of Art since 1999 – after joining mourners for Montazeri’s funeral in the Shiite holy city of Qom on Monday.

Mr. Ahmadinejad was reported to have broken off a domestic trip to take part in the meeting that removed Mousavi. Judicial officials last week made clear they had “evidence” against Mousavi, and might arrest him – an act that analysts say would surely provoke a popular outpouring on the streets.

Pro-regime forces expanded their crackdown to include the two high-ranking reformist ayatollahs who might fill Montazeri’s shoes as spiritual guide to the opposition.

Security forces on Wednesday reportedly surrounded the compound of Ayatollah Jalaledin Taheri, the former Friday prayer leader for Isfahan. Originally appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini – the founder of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution – he resigned in 2002 in protest then at the direction the regime was going.

Taheri has called the June results “illegitimate,” and was the organizer of the Wednesday commemoration in Isfahan. Until he resigned, his sermons were sometimes disrupted by pro-regime vigilantes – the same ones he lambasted in his 2002 resignation letter as “louts and fascists, who are a mixture of ignorance and madness, but whose umbilical cord is connected to the center of power, and who are completely uncontrolled and beyond the law.”

Pro-reform grand ayatollah’s offices also attacked

Those same vigilantes and their more formal basiji militia brethren on Tuesday also attacked the offices of the pro-reform Grand Ayatollah Yusuf Saanei in Qom. They broke windows, insulted and beat up his staff, and put up posters of Khamenei, according to a report on the main reformist party website. Police prevented the staff from defending the premises.

The semi-official Fars News Agency on Tuesday reported that pro-regime theology students staged a protest against “the insult against sanctities” during the Montazeri funeral, and their protest ended up outside Grand Ayatollah Saanei’s offices. They signed a statement for Saanei to be stripped of his religious authority.

Saanei told the Monitor in late 2003 that vigilantes were “criminals … and wild wolves,” and decried the regime’s tyranny, violence and prisons for rendering Iran unfit to be “presented as an Islamic example.”

Clerics distancing themselves from government to retain legitimacy

Opposition websites reported that Montazeri’s family have called off the traditional third and seventh mourning nights to prevent further disturbances, after vigilantes and basijis attacked the offices of Montazeri and his son following the funeral on Monday.

“Montazeri was the spiritual leader of the Green Movement … but the situation is really beyond the need for having a spiritual person back this movement,” says Khonsari. “You don’t need a cleric to legitimize it. But the clerics are legitimizing their own positions by distancing themselves from the ruling establishment, to indicate they are in tune with general aspirations.”

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Clinton Cautions Latin American States About Iranian Influence


U.S. secretary of state urges Latin American countries to ‘think twice’ about establishing links with Iran, which she said is the world’s leading promoter and exporter of terrorism.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday urged Latin American countries to “think twice” about establishing links with Iran, which she said is the world’s leading promoter and exporter of terrorism. Clinton also expressed concern about democratically-elected leaders in Latin America who later move to undermine democratic institutions.

Clinton’s remarks at a State Department public policy forum on Latin America were some of the strongest by an Obama administration official to date about increasing Iranian activity in the region.

Iran has been establishing close political, trade and other relationships with several left-leaning Latin American governments, underlined by recent visits by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia.

In a question and answer session with participants in the event, Clinton said the United States has “no problem” with non-Western Hemisphere countries like China having legitimate business and investment activities in Latin America.

But she said U.S. officials are concerned about what she said was Iran’s “interest in promoting itself” in countries like Venezuela and Bolivia and said allowing Iranian influence to take root is, in her words, “a very bad idea for the countries involved.”

“We hope that there will be a recognition that this is the major supporter, promoter and exporter of terrorism in the world today,” she said.

“The Revolutionary Guard of Iran is increasing its control over the country because of the elections, which were a stark example of the abuse of human rights in action, is deeply involved in the economy as well as the security issues of Iran. And I think that if people want to flirt with Iran, they should take a look at what the consequences might well be for them. And we hope that they will think twice and we’re going to support them if they do.”

There have been similar expressions of concern from Pentagon officials including Defense Secretary Robert Gates who in Senate testimony earlier this year said he was concerned about Iranian “meddling” in Latin America.

U.S. officials have accused Iran of supporting activities in Latin America of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and Tehran is accused of involvement in 1990’s bomb attacks on a Jewish center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.

In the policy forum, Clinton also reiterated U.S. “worry” about countries in Latin America where leaders who, after being democratically elected, move to undermine constitutional rule, citing in particular Venezuela and Nicaragua.

“We need to make it absolutely an article of faith that any leader elected must not just further his own position, and his power base, but respect the right of the people who elected him and build up the democracy so that democratic development and economic development can go hand in had,” she said.

Clinton said she hoped to see, “in the not-too-distant future,” a democratic Cuba, which she said would be extraordinarily positive for the Hemisphere.

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed to have Jewish past

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vitriolic attacks on the Jewish world hide an astonishing secret, evidence uncovered by The Daily Telegraph shows.


By Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat

Ahmadinejad showing papers during election. It shows that his family's previous name was Jewish

A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots. A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.

The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to embrace Islam after his birth.

The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad’s birthplace, and the name derives from “weaver of the Sabour”, the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran‘s Ministry of the Interior.

Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad’s track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.

Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said: “This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad’s background explains a lot about him.

“Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith.

“By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society.”

A London-based expert on Iranian Jewry said that “jian” ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews.

“He has changed his name for religious reasons, or at least his parents had,” said the Iranian-born Jew living in London. “Sabourjian is well known Jewish name in Iran.”

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London said it would not be drawn on Mr Ahmadinejad’s background. “It’s not something we’d talk about,” said Ron Gidor, a spokesman.

The Iranian leader has not denied his name was changed when his family moved to Tehran in the 1950s. But he has never revealed what it was change from or directly addressed the reason for the switch.

Relatives have previously said a mixture of religious reasons and economic pressures forced his blacksmith father Ahmad to change when Mr Ahmadinejad was aged four.

The Iranian president grew up to be a qualified engineer with a doctorate in traffic management. He served in the Revolutionary Guards militia before going on to make his name in hardline politics in the capital.

During this year’s presidential debate on television he was goaded to admit that his name had changed but he ignored the jibe.

However Mehdi Khazali, an internet blogger, who called for an investigation of Mr Ahmadinejad’s roots was arrested this summer.

Mr Ahmadinejad has regularly levelled bitter criticism at Israel, questioned its right to exist and denied the Holocaust. British diplomats walked out of a UN meeting last month after the Iranian president denounced Israel’s ‘genocide, barbarism and racism.’

Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned denunciation of the Iranian leader at the same UN summit. “Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium,” he said. “A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of six million Jews while promising to wipe out the State of Israel, the State of the Jews. What a disgrace. What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations.”

Mr Ahmadinejad has been consistently outspoken about the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish race. “They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets,” he declared at a conference on the holocaust staged in Tehran in 2006.

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Exiles Accuse Iran of Working On Detonators

Washington Post

By Edward Cody

Iranian Nuclear Program

PARIS, Sept. 24 — An Iranian exile group said Thursday that it has identified two previously unknown sites in and near Tehran where it says Iranian scientists are researching and trying to manufacture detonators for nuclear weapons.

The allegation, from the Paris-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, was designed to reinforce the exiles’ long-standing contention that the Iranian government, despite repeated denials, has an active program to develop a nuclear arsenal under the aegis of the Defense Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The announcement was timed to coincide with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s appearance at the U.N. General Assembly and with intensified pressure from the United States and other major powers for Iran to allow full inspection of its nuclear-related facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

There was no way to confirm the authenticity of Thursday’s allegation. But previous MEK information has given Western intelligence agencies tips about some Iranian nuclear activities or provided details about research sites.

Mehdi Abrishamchi, an MEK activist, said that as far as he knew, no Western governments were aware of the existence of the two sites.

As did Ahmadinejad in interviews Wednesday, Iran repeatedly has denied a desire to acquire nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy use. According to statements from Iranian officials, activities connected to making nuclear weapons were halted several years ago.

But Abrishamchi said the two sites house programs designed to research and produce high-explosive detonators for atomic bombs.

The information came from “dozens of sources at different levels of the Iranian regime’s various organs” and was cross-checked with dozens more, he said in a statement.

Abrishamchi, a senior member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an MEK-run umbrella group, said the two sites were part of a complex known as METFAZ — the Farsi acronym for Research Center for Explosion and Impact — that apparently has been in operation for several years under the command of the Defense Ministry.

The first site, a research and administrative facility in eastern Tehran, was bought by the Defense Ministry under the name of Massoud Sadighi Divani, a senior ministry official, Abrishamchi said. Inside, scientists carry out computer simulations and other experiments to reach an effective design for high-explosive impact and penetration devices that could serve to detonate a nuclear weapon, he said.

The second site, about 20 miles to the east, is used to manufacture parts needed to construct the detonators, he said. Lying within a military zone with restricted access, it is surrounded by high concrete walls and includes tunnels dug into a nearby hill, he added.

Abrishamchi said the two sites basically continue work that was being done at Shian, a facility that was razed by Iranian authorities after being denounced by the MEK in 2003. He called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to try to inspect the sites as quickly as possible.

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Brzezinski suggests Obama shoot down Israeli jets


‘They have the choice of turning back or not’

Zbigniew Brzezinski

The national security adviser during the administration of President Jimmy Carter says the United States should shoot down Israeli jets if that nation chooses to take military action against a nuclear project in Iran.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, in an interview with the Daily Beast website,declared, “We are not exactly impotent little babies.”

Israel long has been thought to be considering a military strike against operations in Iran that could result in a nuclear weapon for the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Israel has stated that it is unwilling to have its future threatened by a leader who believes it should be wiped off the map, as Ahmadinejad has stated, with access to nuclear weapons.

But such an Israeli attack on Iran probably would have to fly over coalition airspace in Iraq.

“Are we just going to sit there and watch?” Brzezinski demanded.

Get your dictionary to the Middle East: “Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

He said the U.S. has to be “serious” about denying Israel the right to attack.

“That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not,” he said.

“No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse,” he said.

The Liberty was a U.S. ship in international waters in the Middle East during the Six-Day War in 1967 that was hit by Israeli gunfire.

Brzezinski advised Carter on confrontations in Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East during Carter’s White House tenure.

He said the Obama administration also already should have developed “a clearer position on what we are prepared to do to promote a Palestinian-Israeli peace.”

“Simply giving a frequent-traveler ticket to George Mitchell is not the same thing as policy. It took a long time to get going on Iran, but there is an excuse there, the Iranian domestic mess. And we are now eight months into the administration, and I would have thought by now we could have formulated a strategy that we would have considered ‘our’ strategy for dealing with Iran and Pakistan,” he said.

“For example, the Carter administration, which is sometimes mocked, by now had in motion a policy of disarmament with the Russians, which the Russians didn’t like, but eventually bought; it had started a policy of normalization with the Chinese; it rammed through the Panama Canal treaty; and it was moving very, very openly toward an Israeli-Arab political peace initiative,” he said.

WND columnist and New York Times best-selling author Mike Evans wrote about Brzezinski just before the 2008 election, explaining how Obama added Brzezinski to his list of “advisers.”

“One of Brzezinski’s first jobs as adviser was to defend Obama’s plan, if elected, to meet with Iran and Syria: ‘What’s the hand-up about negotiating with the Syrians or Iranians?’ asked Brzezinski. ‘What it in effect means is that you only talk to people who agree with you.’

“People who agree with you?” wrote Evans. “I, for one, would like to know just why Obama would want to talk with Iran’s president who denies the Holocaust, has called Israel a ‘stinking corpse’ and vowed to wipe it off the map.”

WND columnist Ben Shapiro noted about that time Brzezinski “believes that the Jewish lobby forces America into pro-Israel policy, and he defends Carter’s anti-Semitic book, “Peace, Not Apartheid.”

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Iran building backup nuke plant in Americas?


Venezuelan site could give Hezbollah door to atomic mischief

Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad

Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

Iran may consider a proposal from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to build a backup “nuclear village” in his nation to produce nuclear energy and also to have a safe fall-back production capability in case there is an attack by Israel or the United States on nuclear facilities in Iran, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Chavez, in a visit last week to Iran, proposed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the idea of building a project in Venezuela.

Security sources have confirmed such a “nuclear village” could become the Iranian nuclear production alternative, or a location to hide especially critical nuclear components from attack.

With the United Nations about ready to take up the issue of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear enrichment efforts, such a prospect of attack, particularly from Israel, is increasingly likely. Israeli officials have stated on numerous occasions that a nuclear Iran would threaten Israel’s existence.

While the U.N. is expected to consider proposals for sanctions on Iran, there is an expectation that Russia and China will reject further sanctions. If that happens, security experts believe that Israel then could declare diplomacy a failure, opening the way for its long-intimated attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The issue of nuclear cooperation between Iran and Venezuela arose in the context of military and security cooperation agreements reached between their two leaders.

Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

France was quick to object to any nuclear cooperation, saying that it would violate various United Nations resolutions, including U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737. That resolution calls for all U.N. members to refrain from the direct or indirect purchase of nuclear-related technology from Iran.

Iran and Venezuela are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, and their legislatures have ratified it, compelling their compliance. At the same time, it allows them to undertake a peaceful nuclear development program.

The purpose of the NPT is to allow for the promotion of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy while trying to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. The NPT is the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to disarmament by nuclear countries.

To date, some 187 countries are signatories to the NPT. It offers a safeguard system under the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, to verify treaty compliance through inspections. At the same time, it promotes equal access to nuclear technology.

Security experts believe, however, that efforts to insure effective Iranian compliance with the NPT or the U.N. resolutions would be difficult given the need for policing and investigation, something which most countries are not equipped to undertake and may not have the political will to do.

Iranian interest in nuclear cooperation with Venezuela has come up in the past. In 2006, Ahmadinejad and Chavez voiced the need for similar cooperation. At the time, Iranian parliament speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said that Iran would study the possibility.

For the complete report and full immediate access to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, subscribe now.

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Ahmadinejad says he won’t rule out an Iran nuclear bomb


By Arthur Bright

Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s comments coincide with report that IAEA withheld evidence about Iran‘s nuclear weapon capabilities

Ahmadinejad at Quds Day rally

In a rare interview with Western media, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran has no need for nuclear weapons, but he did not rule out the possibility that Iran might develop them in the future. The broadcasting of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks coincided with a new report, based on previously undisclosed information, that the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has withheld evidence about how close Iran is to making a nuclear bomb.

In excerpts of an interview aired Thursday night on NBC News, Ahmadinejad said that “the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes… will never be closed down here in Iran.” When interviewer Ann Curry asked whether Iran would ever develop a nuclear weapon, Ahmadinejad said Iran had no need for such weapons.

“If nuclear weapons were influential, they would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union — for that matter, the downfall of the Zionist regime,” he said, referring to Israel, long believed to possess 200 nuclear weapons. “Our people have never had a need for nuclear weapons.”

“So, may I assume, then, your answer to that question is ‘no’?” Curry asked.

Again, Ahmadinejad said: “We don’t need such — we don’t have a such a need, nuclear weapons. We don’t need nuclear weapons. Without such weapons, we are very much able to defend ourselves.”

Curry pressed Ahmadinejad again on the question, noting that “people will remark that you did not say no.”  He replied, “You can take from this whatever you want, madam.” Further excerpts of the interview, which was taped a week previously in Tehran, ran Friday morning. The full interview is to be aired Sunday afternoon.

Ahmadinejad’s refusal to rule out Iran building a nuclear weapon comes just a day after President Barack Obama announced plans to scrap the Bush administration’s missile shield plan in favor of a new system which would better deal with short- and medium-ranged missiles launched from Iran. President Bush‘s plan would have placed interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic to defend against long-range Iranian missiles targeting Europe.

Also on Thursday, the Associated Press released a report that experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, believe that Iran is currently capable of building a nuclear weapon. The AP based their report on a confidential document titled “Possible Military Dimension of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was written by senior IAEA officials.

The information in the document that is either new, more detailed or represents a more forthright conclusion than found in published IAEA reports includes:

– The IAEA’s assessment that Iran worked on developing a chamber inside a ballistic missile capable of housing a warhead payload “that is quite likely to be nuclear.”

– That Iran engaged in “probable testing” of explosives commonly used to detonate a nuclear warhead — a method known as a “full-scale hemispherical explosively driven shock system.”

– An assessment that Iran worked on developing a system “for initiating a hemispherical high explosive charge” of the kind used to help spark a nuclear blast.

In another key finding, an excerpt notes: “The agency … assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device (an atomic bomb) based on HEU (highly enriched uranium) as the fission fuel.”

These details add significantly to previous reports on Iran’s nuclear capability, as summarized this summer in a Monitor briefing, ‘How close is Iran to a bomb?’

The AP writes that two international officials confirmed the authenticity of the document, though they insisted on anonymity because the document was meant only to be seen by top IAEA officials.

The IAEA denied that it was hiding evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, calling such an idea “politically motivated and baseless,” Reuters reports. In a statement commenting on the AP story, the IAEA said that it “has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapons programme in Iran.”

Reuters also writes that Israel, which has typically been highly vocal about the threat of a nuclear Iran, may be changing its message. Ehud Barak, Israel’s minister of defense, said that even if Iran had nuclear weapons, it would not be able to defeat Israel.

“Right now, Iran does not have a bomb. Even if it did, this would not make it a threat to Israel’s existence. Israel can lay waste to Iran,” Barak said in a transcript of a newspaper interview obtained by Reuters before publication Friday.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly sounded alarms over Iran’s atomic ambitions, pointing at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s calls for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map” and support for Islamist guerrilla groups arrayed along Israel’s borders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-winger who brought the centre-left Barak into his coalition government, said he saw “eye to eye” with the Defence minister – signalling a possible change in Israel’s official rhetoric as world powers prepare to revive diplomatic engagement with Iran next month.

Reuters adds that Mr. Netanyahu issued a supportive response to Mr. Barak’s comments, saying “I think that what the Defence minister wanted to say, something that I believe, is that the State of Israel will be able to defend itself in any situation.”

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Iran preparing for Israeli strike


Forces being prepared, attitude hardened

Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
There are ominous signs suggesting Iran may be preparing for sanctions from the United Nations and possibly even an attack from Isreal over its developing nuclear program, according to a report fromJoseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Just as the U.N. General Assembly is due to meet later this month to consider what to do about Iran’s insistence on enriching uranium as part of its nuclear development program, Tehran has announced that it is open to further discussions on the issue, but it will not be pressured to meet any September deadline.

“No one can impose sanctions on Iran anymore,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a recent press conference.

“The Iranian nation favors interaction and dialogue but will not surrender to pressure,” according to Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi.

No one in authority in the West believes Iran is open to dialogue, since Iranian officials have continuously made such pronouncements in the past when backed into a corner, with the effect of causing some kind of delay in the UN sanctions process.

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That may be about to change and Tehran knows it. It appears to be preparing not only for increased sanctions but the prospect that Israel may wait a few months, declare that the diplomatic course isn’t working and carry out what it has been threatening for months – attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Israelis, however, realize that it probably could not undertake such an attack without U.S. help to gain access across other countries to carry out such a strike. It does have the option – through its recently dispatched submarines – of launching ballistic missiles which could obviate the need for country clearances for aircraft bombing runs.

While the Obama administration has requested no surprises from the Israelis, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden in July gave what amounted to tacit approval to such an attack.

He said that the U.S. would not stand in the way of Israel’s efforts to defend itself.

Seeing these prospects, Iran may be gearing up to any Israeli attack.

Tehran has just appointed a known terrorist as its next defense minister. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi is a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, and has been in charge of defense procurement and Iran’s missile program. He also is very much involved in Iran’s nuclear bomb project that western intelligence services say Iran is pursuing.

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