Just another site

Archive for May 2011


leave a comment »

# #
# Iran, Mullahs, And Drugs #
# #

You came away with a convoluted perception, and I am not saying that because I want to make you feel bad but I can discern from the remarks, you have been occupying yourself with a cesspool of prevarication concocted by media and a few astray clips — marrying people with information and entertainment and divorcing them from reality. Try to look at the bigger picture rather than imprisoning your conscious with plethora of crafted picture frames flashing on your screen.

According to the recent statistics, 1 out of 8 women in the U.S. are sexually abused, and 1 out of 3 are physically assaulted. A Chinese guy can run with this, waving his hands, claiming America is an “archaic, savage, [and] despicable” place — it’s amazing how quickly people pick up the negative aspect of certain society. Such representation does not mirror the notion of what America has to offer. You see how easily a few numbers can lead to irrational enthusiasm with no merets.

On the other hand, I do not deny the existance of problem or underlying antecedent, but cementing the American society with such sensationalized observation is nothing short of a macabre joke. Yes, there are predicaments but what country doesn’t have to grapple with inequality, class or gender misfortune? I mean, except if you are from Netherland or Denmark 🙂 You are only looking at a small corner of a vast country under myopic vision. And wailing at religion is risible; I’ll explain why later on.

When you impulsively come right out saying, “And this is Iran,” it a clear indication that you are not cognizant of various social and cultural parameters. The reason I say that is because I’ve spent 2/5 of my life there; I know in and out of the culture, people, and complex web of structural aspects of this society.

It would be wrong of me to draw slothful deductions from a few words I read on child labor in India; I haven’t lived there, and I know for the fact, this is not an astute analysis of that country as a whole. Moreover, making conlusions to suit your side out of a thin air is not a constructive critisim, and it only results in emergance of faulty perception. Let me give you a more realistic point of view on this matter.

Corruption, just like any other country in the world, is rampant and ubiquetious in all level of society, predominately among the ruling sector: Mullahs. There is no escaping it, whether it’s democracy, communism, fascism, theocracy, or — it’s part of a political machine. And what all men with power seek? More power. Control over masses. The economical recession and bear market in Iran has had a devastading effect on the majority of people, especially younger generation.

This would clearly precipitate an uneasement and restlessness which would lead to defeasance and ultimately social upheaval. So what Mullahs to do [sic]? Besides massive PR campaign to keep people on their toes (they do a better job here in the U.S. by the way), another sanguiary way to put people in a quiscence state is well… to drug them, literally. Iran is on the crosspath, a bridge so to speak, of all narcotic trafficing from Pacific Rim all the way to central Asia to Europe and the rest of the world.

So the regime in Iran came up with a discreet but diabolical plan to open up a flow of drugs in and out of the country. The numbers speak for themselves — estimations are from 3 up to 5 (or perhaps more) million Iranians are a heavy drug user, around 15% of population. Staggering number of unemployment (30-35% in some places) and readily availabe drugs formulate a deadly potion.

And as for “Pimping for Allah,” the documentary clearly depicts how both women are operating their business independently, free of ascendancy of any “pimp” figure. As a matter of fact, a majority of prostitution activities are taken place under the discrete control of “escort” girl/boy. Of course, there are elements that need to be “lubricated,” mainly the “moral” cops but then again, show me a place where corruption is estranged from the law enforcement.

What I was hoping people to take away from this documentary is to be informed of two social calamities: pervasiveness of narcotics to gag social unrest and prostitution to ironically feed the addiction. Unfortunately, the former was implemented under CIA’s baby project. The latter is no brainer. A crack whore (excuse my dragatory slang here) would do anything to get her/his next fix and staying in an abusive relationship shouldn’t be a surprise. we have tons of reports on domestice abuse here too.

Please, do not take these statements as a sign of support for the regime, far from it. I had two of my close relatives butchered by these remorseless absolutists. Religion in Iran is just a pernicious mask designed to subjugate the masses, enshroud the corruption, and upholding the claws of dominance on the nation. Following this path, from the theological point of view, faith exuviates its philosophical gist — it becomes linguistically and semantically vacant.

Show me an Akhoond that does not engage in debauchery or indulge in binge drinking (oh ya, it happens more than you think). You see, when it comes to power, you are free to even do away from religion and still manage to bestow your authoritarian agenda upon people, i.e. Stalian-style totalitarism anyone? I’ll wrap this later on… If I was still here.

# #
# Basij & Thugs #
# #

It is important to mention that the word “thug” in Iran is not completely synonymous to what in the West refers to people with a schizoid relationship with violence. Thugs in Iran are not soccer hooligans, rednecks, skinheads or any similar western group of violent, furiously nationalistic, xenophobic and racist young men who enjoy destroying property and hurting people, finding “absolute completeness” in the havoc they wreak. Thugs in the West may even be employed in high-paying blue-collar jobs.

Bully thugs with a religious identity can be recruited in IRI’s Security Forces or are systematically used in the organised pro-regime militias called plainclothes (lebas shakhsi) to intimidate IRI’s opponents or beat anti-regime’s demonstrators up. Therefore, a number of IRI’s Security Forces, who now arrest thugs, are in fact the recruited ex-thugs. They now accuse the non-recruited thugs of violence, robbery, drugs, whereas these could be indeed applied to them too, if they were not recruited by the regime.

# #
# Economy #
# #
Article 44 [Sectors]

(1) The economy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to consist of three sectors: state, cooperative, and private, and is to be based on systematic and sound planning.
(2) The state sector is to include all large-scale and mother industries, foreign trade, major minerals, banking, insurance, power generation, dams, and large-scale irrigation networks, radio and television, post, telegraph and telephone services, aviation, shipping, roads, railroads and the like; all these will be publicly owned and adMinistered by the State.
(3) The cooperative sector is to include cooperative companies and enterprises concerned with production and distribution, in urban and rural areas, in accordance with Islamic criteria.
(4) The private sector consists of those activities concerned with agriculture, animal husbandry, industry, trade, and services that supplement the economic activities of the state and cooperative sectors.
(5) Ownership in each of these three sectors is protected by the laws of the Islamic Republic, in so far as this ownership is in conformity with the other articles of this chapter, does not go beyond the bounds of Islamic law, contributes to the economic growth and progress of the country and does not harm society.
(6) The scope of each of these sectors as well as the regulations and conditions governing their operation, will be specified by law.

IMF Executive Board Concludes 2005 Article IV Consultation with the Islamic Republic of Iran
Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 06/34
March 27, 2006

Public Information Notices (PINs) form part of the IMF’s efforts to promote transparency of the IMF’s views and analysis of economic developments and policies. With the consent of the country (or countries) concerned, PINs are issued after Executive Board discussions of Article IV consultations with member countries, of its surveillance of developments at the regional level, of post-program monitoring, and of ex post assessments of member countries with longer-term program engagements. PINs are also issued after Executive Board discussions of general policy matters, unless otherwise decided by the Executive Board in a particular case.

On March 10, 2006, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with the Islamic Republic of Iran.1


During the Third Five-Year Development Plan (TFYDP, 2000/01-2004/05), real GDP growth reached 5½ percent a year on average, unemployment declined, and macroeconomic indicators improved significantly, supported by favorable oil market conditions. By increasing the openness of the economy and removing major obstacles to trade and investment, the reforms introduced in the period 2000/01-2002/03 contributed significantly to this strong performance. Many challenges, however, lie ahead. The economy remains heavily dependent on oil and demographic dynamics will put increasing pressure on the labor market in the coming years. Expansionary fiscal and monetary policies have kept inflation relatively high at about 15 percent. Extensive administrative controls, widespread subsidies, and labor market regulations impose substantial efficiency costs.

On the back of favorable external conditions and an expansionary policy stance, growth resumed in 2005/06 after a temporary slowdown in the previous year. Activity has been strong, mostly in the non-hydrocarbon sector, and real GDP growth is expected to accelerate to about 6 percent in 2005/06. Unemployment, however, has continued to hover around 11 percent. Reflecting the impact of improved weather conditions on food prices, the price freeze on certain goods and services, and some exchange rate appreciation, inflation is expected to decline to 13 percent in 2005/06.

Government spending, particularly on subsidies, has continued to increase on the back of higher oil revenue, and the non-oil deficit is expected to remain high. As external developments became increasingly favorable and fiscal policy remained expansionary, the central bank allowed the exchange rate to appreciate in nominal effective terms in 2005/06. However, export growth continued apace and the current account surplus is projected to rise to 6½ percent of GDP, with international reserves reaching about $47 billion by year’s end, equivalent to 9½ months of next year’s imports of goods and nonfactor services. External debt remains low.

As oil-related inflows grew larger, and fiscal policy remained expansionary, the central bank increased its unsterilized purchases of foreign currency to limit the exchange rate appreciation. The monetary impact of these purchases was only partially offset by a tightening of the banks’ access to the central bank credit facility, while the use of its participation papers (central bank bonds complying with Islamic finance principles) was not sufficient to mop up excess liquidity. Overall, the desired slowdown in money growth was not achieved. After having experienced rapid growth in previous years, the stock market lost about 20 percent of its value in 2005/06, reflecting uncertainty in connection with the presidential election and the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

Progress on structural reforms has been uneven. While financial system reform has continued, no decision has been taken on the key reform of energy subsidies, despite the increasing economic and environmental costs of the current system. The amendment of article 44 of the constitution—which delineates the domains of activity of the public sector, the cooperative sector, and the private sector—opens the door to the privatization of both financial and nonfinancial enterprises. Although this change is an important legal step, the scope and modalities of actual privatization plans are yet to be determined.

The short-term outlook is relatively favorable. Economic activity will continue to be boosted by high oil prices, although inflation could start rising again, unless the policy stimulus is reigned in. Reflecting large current account surpluses, the external debt would decline. In the medium term, however, prospects look challenging. Oil price volatility and capacity constraints in the oil sector, international tensions over the nuclear issue, and the possibility of a prolonged period of “wait and see” on the part of the private sector could adversely affect the economic outlook.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors observed that real GDP growth has been robust in 2005/06 and the external position has strengthened as a result of the structural reforms implemented at the beginning of the TFYDP, favorable oil market conditions, and an expansionary policy stance. However, Directors expressed concern over the persistent high inflation that hurts the poor and fixed-income earners, the slower pace of structural reforms, and the vulnerability of the economy to a potential decline in oil prices. Directors considered that the key medium-term challenge will be to sustain high growth rates in the non-oil sector to increase employment opportunities and improve the living standard of the population. To address this challenge in an effective and sustainable way, it will be crucial to reduce inflation significantly by tightening financial policies and to accelerate the momentum for structural reforms to stimulate private sector development, lessen the dependence on the oil sector, and enhance economic efficiency, consistent with the objectives of the Fourth Five-Year Development Plan (FFYDP).

Directors noted that the substantial pro-cyclical fiscal stimulus in recent years has contributed to maintaining double-digit inflation, and underscored the need to reduce the pace of fiscal expansion and to build up precautionary savings in the Oil Stabilization Fund (OSF), consistent with the original objectives in the OSF legislation. In this context, Directors cautioned against using OSF resources to further increase government spending, as envisaged in the proposed budget for 2006/07. They recommended instead a vigorous fiscal consolidation with a reduction in government outlays in relation to GDP and implementation of revenue-enhancing measures through a broadening of the tax base and an accelerated pace of introduction of the Value Added Tax, which has been in the preparation stage for a number of years. Moreover, Directors emphasized the need for fiscal policy to be anchored within a medium-term framework to help reduce its pro-cyclicality and improve policy coordination. Directors noted with concern the size of the growing and ill-targeted subsidies, particularly on energy, which have harmful economic and environmental consequences. They welcomed the indications that the authorities plan to gradually phase out implicit energy subsidies and reduce explicit subsidies, in order to enhance economic efficiency and channel resources toward more productive uses. Accordingly, Directors urged an expeditious design and implementation of a phased program of overhauling the system, with clear time-bound reduction targets, as well as an efficient social safety net to protect the vulnerable groups.

Directors called for a tightening and a more effective use of monetary policy instruments to lower inflation to single-digit levels, consistent with the FFYDP. They welcomed the reduction in access to the central bank’s overdraft facility and increased use of central bank participation papers, and encouraged a more active use of the open deposit account. While welcoming the recent steps, as well as the measures to increase the operational independence of the central bank under the FFYDP, Directors expressed concern about the new requirement of parliamentary approval for the issuance of central bank participation papers, which limits the flexibility of central bank operations in managing domestic liquidity. They noted that administrative controls on the rates of return charged on bank loans and on central bank participation papers and the continuation of directed credit hinders financial intermediation. Directors urged the authorities to remove these administrative controls and allow the rates of return to be market-determined to strengthen financial intermediation. More generally, Directors noted that a credible and successful disinflation effort will require a clearer mandate for the central bank and more effective policy instruments at its disposal. They considered that the upcoming review of the central bank law offers a good opportunity to address these issues in a decisive manner. The authorities were commended for enacting Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism legislation, and were urged to implement it expeditiously.

Directors noted that the exchange rate had been allowed to appreciate somewhat, reflecting more favorable external conditions, but, given that the fiscal stance continues to impart an expansionary impulse to the economy, they stressed the need for greater exchange rate flexibility to help contain inflationary pressures. Looking forward, Directors emphasized that the concerns on the exchange rate policy for competitiveness should be addressed by reinvigorating implementation of structural reforms and major improvements in the business climate.

Directors welcomed the progress made in establishing a risk-based supervision framework and other reforms aimed at improving the functioning of financial markets. However, they expressed concern that the continued increase in nonperforming loans and the rapid credit growth could exacerbate potential weaknesses in the financial system. Directors encouraged the authorities to further strengthen the supervision of banks, insurance companies, and securities markets. They commended the authorities for licensing additional private banks and insurance companies and encouraged them to continue opening up the banking sector to private sector participation, including through privatization, which had been made possible by the amendment to Article 44 of the constitution.

Directors underscored the importance of fostering private sector development to sustain strong growth and employment creation. They encouraged the authorities to focus on reducing the administrative and regulatory burden on private sector activities, removing barriers to competition, streamlining labor market regulations, and removing other impediments to efficiency, and accelerating the implementation of the privatization program.

Directors urged prompt action to eliminate the residual exchange restriction on the making of payments and transfers for current transactions, and welcomed the authorities’ commitment in this regard.

Directors recognized the progress made in improving data quality and transparency. In particular, they were encouraged by the identification of subsidies in the central government budget. Directors stressed, however, that more work is needed to ensure an adequate and timely monitoring of public sector operations. Accordingly, they encouraged the authorities to develop a consolidated public sector balance sheet with possible technical assistance from the World Bank and the IMF. They urged the authorities to complete the requirements for full compliance with the Special Data Dissemination Standard.

Islamic Republic of Iran: Selected Economic Indicators
2000/2001 2001/2002 2002/2003 2003/04 2004/05

Real GDP growth (factor cost, percentage change)
5.0 3.3 7.4 6.7 4.8

CPI inflation (period average, percentage change)
12.6 11.4 15.8 15.6 15.2

Unemployment rate (percent)
14.1 14.7 12.2 11.2 10.3

Central government balance (percent of GDP)
8.7 1.8 -2.4 -0.1 -0.4

Broad money growth (percentage change)
30.5 25.8 30.1 26.2 29.8

Current account balance (percent of GDP)
13.1 5.3 3.1 0.6 2.5

Overall external balance (percent of GDP)
6.9 3.9 4.1 2.1 5.2

Gross international reserves (billions of U. S. dollars)
12,176 16,616 20,965 24,675 32,993

Public and publicly guaranteed external debt (billions of U.S. dollars)
7,953 7,215 9,250 12,100 16,831

Exchange rate (period average, rials per U.S. dollar)
8,078 1/ 7,921 1/ 7,967 8,282 8,719 t.html (translate it with google if you don’t read German)

It states that the real inflation rate is currently around 30% (much higher than when Ahmadinejad took office) and the real unemployment rate is roughly 20 %.

Iran’s unemployment rate is now 15 percent (11.20 percent in 2006). Youth makes up a large proportion of the unemployed.

Official figures say youth aged 15 to 19 account for 39 percent of the country’s active work force and the unemployment rate stands at about 34 percent among the age groups of 15 to 19 years old and at about 16 percent among the 25 to 29 years age group.

According to some statistics of 2003, about 20,000 teenagers live on the streets of Iran’s larger cities, but most of them reside in Tehran. The problem has been fuelled by poverty and aggravated by the economic crisis.

Population living below $2 a day (%), 1990-2005 7.3

Unemployment rate: 11% according to the Iranian government (June 2007)
Population below poverty line: 18% (2007 est.)

Iran’s official unemployment rate is about 13 percent. But economists estimate the real figure is more than 20 percent.

According to official estimates, unemployment is especially rife among Iran’s youth and women, where jobless rates can soar as high as 30 percent.

“[Iran] wanted to have an army of 20 million. And as a result, they encouraged pregnancy and the rate of population increased from something like 1.7 to 4, 4.5. As a result, the population of Iran has doubled during the last 25 years. So this increasing population is far from what the economy can absorb, and at the same time the policies that have been followed since the end of the war have nothing to propose in terms of absorbing this extra population,” Rashidi said.

Furthermore, he says, Iran’s investments in industry and agriculture have not been planned to produce the greatest number of jobs possible.

“In other words, the industrial policy has been concentrated in industries absorbing a lot of capital with little labor. For example, you spend a lot of money for steel production or the metallurgy industry and the rate of employment does not go as far as the capital is concerned. So the policy in industry, agriculture has not been conducive to absorb this extra population,” Rashidi said.

Rashidi says that most new jobs are being created in the private sector or on the grey market, and therefore do not contribute to reducing overall unemployment rates or raising production rates.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran has the world’s highest rate of brain drain.

An Iranian labor official said in Tehran on Monday that in Iran the unemployment rate among women is twice that of men, IRNA reported.

The country’s unemployment rate is 11.8 percent, while women unemployment stands at 21.2 percent, the labor official underlined. Youth unemployment is also a major policy challenge for officials.

Thirty-one percent of Iranian youth in the 15 to 29 years age group, are either unemployed or lack a suitable job, said an official here on Saturday.

The foreign debt has reached almost 30 percent of Iran’s GDP. Thousands of Iranians have sold their kidneys to make the ends meet. Some families have even traded their young daughters to human traffickers. Iran’s massive flux of rising oil income has only helped to finance a gigantic multi-faceted WMD program and a growing infrastructure of terror around the Middle East

“Iran treats roughly half of their population like sub-human shit”

That’s a far end of exaggeration. It’s as stereotypical and pompous remark as a Pakistani teenage boy claims half the population in the U.S. rag out in whorish attire without having a through understanding of intricate complexity of various cultural parameters. Until you haven’t spent a few years in a certain culture, don’t put on a tin foil hat and tout on your gratuitous presupposition.

“90% population below the poverty line”

Do you even comprehend the implication of such statement or you just regurgitate every piece of trash you happen to pick up on the Internet? Do you know anything about political quibbling employed by politician of various spectrums? In this day and age, there is no excuse to obviate an iota of research to minimize the introduction of disinformation.

hdrstats .undp. org/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_IRN. html

Population living below $2 a day (%), 1990-2005 7.3

w w w .cia. gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir. html#Econ

Unemployment rate: 11% according to the Iranian government (June 2007)
Population below poverty line: 18% (2007 est.)

Mindless gabber doesn’t take you far in life.

“delinquency in WMD proliferation”

Another concocted mantra by warmongers, wasn’t Iraq enough for you people? Pandering on topics that have been long abandoned by the very people who ballyhooed it in the first place is the revisionist to political schmaltz.

We already have Israel, Pakistan, India, and American submarines with nuclear warheads swimmingly find their way throughout the region. Let’s begin our clean up from the mess we are already in first.

“harboring thugs and fugitives”

Thugs as in unofficially hired low-lives to repress the voice of dissent or thugs as in unemployed class of society driven to mischievousness? The same people who were employed by British and American time after time during pre-revolution now trained to carry out the dirty work of mullahs.

“no respect for country borders”

Part of political agenda established by almost all countries, nothing new here. Can you say U.S. – Iraq? Global interventionist’s mind of fascism is quick to connive their own actions.

“hard drug use in young people”

It’s bad… It’s worse than what I had initially anticipated. Poverty and unemployment compounded by the state-run mafia regime’s injection of drug into society or blunt permission for the traffickers to flow the cargoes through country… Ya, it’s bad.

“religion mixed with politics”

And that’s why evangelical conservativism is running unchecked in this country? The similarities are uncanny, we are heading towards theocracy and most of us are drooling on our pillows of impassivity.
Weight and Value of Exportation According to Country of Destination (2006)
US embargo on Iranian Aviation
The Failed States Index 2008
Inflation Nations
Page 5 of 9

When prices soar, weak states are in for a wealth of trouble.

Surging oil prices, soaring food costs, a declining dollar—money simply doesn’t buy what it used to. Although most economists argue that a little inflation is good for greasing the wheels of economic growth, it’s easy to see how rapid increases in the cost of basic goods can cause chaos. Countries with high levels of inflation are also the world’s weakest, according to data from the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. That’s perhaps most clear in Zimbabwe, where the International Monetary Fund recently pegged inflation at an absurd 150,000 percent. At that rate, bread bought in the morning might be twice as expensive in the afternoon. Clearly, that’s no recipe for stability.

3rd worst inflation

# #
# Crying Fools #
# #
December 30, 2009
Khamenei & AN

# #
# Iran Constitution #
# #
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran
onstitution, Government & Legislation

* Iranian Constitution
* Government of Iran
* Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran
* Majlis Shura Islami

Article 177 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran lays out the possibility of revising the Constitution, but the form and content of this revision can only be determined by the Supreme Leader. “The Leader issues a decree to the President after consultation with the Nation’s Exigency Council stipulating the amendments or additions to be made by the Council for Revision of the constitution which consists of…”

Most members of this council are the members of the Council of Guardians, the heads of the three branches of government, and the permanent members of the Nation’s Exigency Council. Ten members are also selected by the Supreme Leader. This composition clearly points to the fact that the Council for Revision of the Constitution is controlled by the Supreme Leader, although any decisions after being approved by the Supreme Leader have to be endorsed in a national referendum.

In any case, the decision to introduce a change in the Constitution, the stages of realizing this change, and its final form are all subject to the whims of the Supreme Leader. The principal problem with the Constitution is the unlimited powers of the Supreme Leader who cannot be held accountable for his actions. In fact, the Constitution has legitimized the tyranny of one person in the name of Leadership. There is no way to reform or improve the Constitution because the Supreme Leader can curb, influence, and dictate all the possible changes within it.


Islamic Penal Law in Iran [Islamic Republic of Iran].
Iran Law – very comprehensive

# #
# Drug Use #
# #

A report by the United Nations has found that Iran has the highest drug addiction rate in the world. “According to the U.N. World Drug Report for 2005, Iran has the highest proportion of opiate addicts in the world — 2.8 percent of the population over age 15”, the report said. “With a population of about 70 million and some government agencies putting the number of regular users close to 4 million, Iran has no real competition as world leader in per capita addiction to opiates, including heroin.”

The report added that a government poll had shown that almost 80 percent of Iranians believed that there was a direct link between unemployment and drug addiction. According to Iranian National Centre for Addiction Studies, 20 percent of Iran’s adult population was “somehow involved in drug abuse”.

Many Iranians describe high drug availability as evidence of a plot by the regime. “If they could create enough jobs, enough entertainment, why would people turn to drugs?” It is not only the lack of policy and management, but the interests of corrupt state mafia whose sales in Iran made up a 10 billion dollar market last year, nearly three quarters of the total revenue from Iran’s oil market during the same period.
Iran: Officials Lay Out Ongoing Antidrug Measures By Vahid Sepehri
February 15, 2007

The head of Iran’s Antidrug Headquarters warned on February 11 that Iranian youngsters are increasingly using recreational drugs in the form of pills. Fada Hussein Maleki urged officials to work together and explore new avenues to fight drug use in Iran.

Iranian officials regularly lament the inflow of drugs into Iran from neighboring Afghanistan, and the obvious failure to stop drug production there.

Maleki echoed those concerns, telling the council that increasing opium cultivation in Afghanistan is “a serious threat.” He noted growing numbers of Afghan opium addicts and higher cultivation of opium poppies.

Dealing with Drug Users

Hamedan Province’s chief health-care official, Akbar Mir-Arab, also spoke of efforts in the province to reduce the addict population, which include the activities of 25 public and private rehabilitation centers. A provincial police chief, Ali Rustai, told the same meeting that nearly 15,000 people had been arrested on drug-related offenses in Hamedan in the previous 10 months, IRNA reported.

A “special police operation” recently targeted drugs and other smuggled goods in the eastern Khorasan-i Razavi Province, which is in Iran’s troublesome and dangerous eastern frontier region


Iran’s state Welfare Organization’s prevention and addiction-treatment department claims that 8 percent of the population is addicted to drugs, “Mardom-Salari” reported on June 22. An official in the same department, Mehrdad Ehterami, noted that Iran sees 90,000 new drug addicts every year, with more than 180,000 people treated for addiction in the state or private sector. He listed 51 government facilities, 457 private outpatient centers, and an additional 26 transition centers that exist to combat the problem.
March 2006
At the instigation of President Ahmadinejad, Iran’s theocratic government has adopted a surprising drugs policy. It’s radical and stands in stark contrast to many Western drugs policies.

In a squalid back alley in Tehran, addicts are shooting up. “I have no hope in my life any more”, despairs one. Iran has the highest heroin addiction rate in the world. No other country even comes close. Back in the days of Ayatollah Khomeini, addicts were executed. But faced with an HIV epidemic, the current government has adopted a more enlightened approach. “People think the current government is more conservative and fundamentalist. But it supports our programmes much more than previous governments”, states drugs counsellor, Bijan Nassirimanesh. Addicts are now treated as patients not criminals. The state subsidises free syringes, medical care and treatment programmes. “The needle exchange programme has massively brought down the number of HIV cases”, praises one addict. And it’s a policy that has the long term support of Ahmadinejad. “When Ahmadinejad was mayor of Tehran, he ordered the city authorities to build 40 drop-in centres. Now that he’s President, he’s always talking about methadone treatment.”

# #
# Pasdaran & Basij #
# #
The Revolution Will Be Mercantilized
by Ali Ansari


SOME YEARS back on a research trip to Iran, I met a young man who had been conscripted into the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Commenting on his obviously secular upbringing, I was both intrigued and sympathetic. Yet contrary to all expectations, I found him not only sanguine but also somewhat relieved. He explained that the Guards were not what he had expected. For all their very public piety, they were by far the most relaxed and laid back of the military organizations in the Islamic Republic. The Guards had even implemented a form of flexible work hours. God forbid, had he gone into the regular military he might have been expected to adhere to a strict work regimen. It was all highly unorthodox and reassuringly Iranian. The IRGC wasn’t a disciplined military organization in the Western sense of the term; it was a network, a brotherhood, in which personalities and connections mattered far more than structures. This did not make it necessarily less effective or indeed less dangerous as an instrument of coercion—the lack of transparent rules might, in fact, make it more so—but it was certainly a different type of beast.

Though the IRGC started its life as a defender of the revolution, over time the organization has become increasingly involved in commercial interests. Divisions within the Revolutionary Guard, particularly between its veterans and their heirs, have deepened. Now in bed with an increasingly radicalized elite in Iran, the IRGC seems to be less about protecting the people of the country and more about protecting its own material interests. Iran is rapidly becoming a security state.

THE IRGC was formed in the heat of the Islamic Revolution; a voluntary paramilitary force of revolutionary devotees dedicated to the defense of the ideals of this uprising against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was to be dethroned in favor of an Islamic republic. The Guards were intended to provide a popular counterweight to the regular armed forces, which were widely seen as a creation of the shah’s government and loyal to his cause. Ironically, Mohammad Reza Shah never fully trusted the senior officers within his armed forces and took measures to ensure they could not launch a coup—with the consequence that when he failed to provide leadership, the ranks of the military found themselves adrift in the turmoil of the revolution. Though they were never quite the threat that either the shah or the revolutionaries perceived them to be, for the Guard Corps, the armed forces were an alien being, organized as it was with all the accoutrements of a tightly run military structure.

The new “military” organization of the IRGC was to be something quite different: a brotherhood of the Iranian sansculottes, an organic military force that shunned all the normal paraphernalia of the regular armed forces. It was a haphazard entity, making up for its lack of organization with revolutionary zeal. And indeed, when the Iran-Iraq war started, the IRGC was largely responsible for blunting Baghdad’s attack and providing bitter resistance in the early months of the conflict. It was this image of resistance that soon translated into the mythology of the Revolutionary Guard both among the guardsmen and the public alike: defenders of a country at war, the only barrier between victory and defeat. Like their French revolutionary predecessors, this people’s army became intimately identified with battle. It is a mythology the Guards have enthusiastically preserved and extended—for good reason.

As the war fighting went on, the IRGC and the regular military had to work increasingly closely with one another. The Guards undoubtedly conducted themselves with great courage during the initial stages of that bloody conflagration, and were essential to the defense of the country at a time when the regular armed forces were in disarray following the desertion, purges and execution of many senior officers as the new Iranian state looked to free itself of the shah’s sympathizers, but it soon became clear that the war could not be conducted effectively with the Guards alone. And this was true in spite of the fact that they were supported by Basij militia (composed of additional volunteers who, being either too young or too old, were not technically eligible for service in either the Guard Corps or the army).

Eventually, even the IRGC had to resort to conscription, which continues to refill their ranks to this day. And successful military operations against Iraq ended up coming from a growing collaboration between the two military wings and their newly drafted membership. While every effort was made to emphasize the role of the Revolutionary Guard, the truth had to be increasingly acknowledged that the regular military had a skill set which was both necessary and useful. At the same time, for the duration of the war, the Guards jealously protected their independence and grew in time to become a parallel military structure complete with their own naval and air-force section.

The end of the war for the Guards, as for much of Iran, was something of an anticlimax. Iran had not been defeated, but despite the best efforts of the authorities, it proved difficult to convince people that Iran had achieved a victory. This naturally rebounded on the mythology of the fighting forces, who responded to such social ambivalence by stressing that it wasn’t the winning that mattered, but the taking part. The process of fighting itself was invigorating and purifying, highlighting, as it did, all the best qualities of the austere Muslim fighting man. Such mythologies were to become even more important in light of the changes that were to be imposed during the presidency of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989–1997).

RAFSANJANI INCORPORATED the Revolutionary Guard into the regular military structure, and ranks were introduced. The changes were bitterly resisted; many veterans felt it detracted from the whole point of the Guards, which was supposed to be a volunteer organization lacking the professionalism and ideological detachment of a uniformed military. Yet like many of Rafsanjani’s reforms, the long-term consequences were in direct opposition to his intentions. There is little doubt that Rafsanjani wanted to bring the Guard Corps within the military structure, so that the organization could no longer continue in its revolutionary mind-set, standing outside government control and scrutiny, and professing loyalty to the supreme leader rather than the president. Over the following decade, however, the Revolutionary Guard and their radicalized political ethos began to increasingly permeate (however incompletely) the regular military.

BE THAT as it may, it was Rafsanjani’s other key reform that ultimately proved more transformational to the IRGC. At the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Iran’s economy was in disarray. Accordingly, the Rafsanjani administration focused on economic reconstruction. Iran may not have been bankrupt, but neither was it awash with money. The economy had obviously contracted, and the state had to contend not only with a burgeoning population in search of employment but also with a bloated military and state sector. The government could no longer afford, and had no need, for such an extensive military and civil service. But its revolutionary ideology and the imperative to provide a home fit for heroes precluded any possibility of simple demobilization. There was no private sector to speak of, and while economic diversification had been a mantra of successive Iranian governments—even before the revolution—the truth was that the Iranian economy was growing increasingly dependent on its one great natural resource: oil. Rafsanjani’s solution to this crisis was to encourage entrepreneurship among various state organizations. Some key institutions, such as the Revolutionary Guard, were provided with a cut of oil income as seed money to catapult them into commerce and private enterprise. This should have allowed them to make enough money to provide for themselves, rather than looking to the government for funds. But such start-up costs became a regular feature of the off-kilter relationship between the state and its subsidiaries. The Revolutionary Guard was about to open for business.

FOR ALL their elite pretensions, the Guard Corps has always tended to reflect wider social developments. As commercialization and a mercantilist attitude increasingly dominated Iranian society in the aftermath of the war, so too did the IRGC reflect this sea change, acquiring a taste for business and trade. The oil income provided by Rafsanjani gave the IRGC access to hard currency (dollars) and the Guards, along with others in similarly privileged positions, were able to make a hefty profit by simply taking advantage of the subsidized exchange rates, and the cheap dollars this afforded them, to import goods and sell them to the Iranian public at the market rate for a huge profit. When this was coupled with political access and a network that spanned the entire Islamic Republic, competition proved increasingly easy to sideline and profits easier to make. Further, Rafsanjani’s plan to promote entrepreneurship placed members of the IRGC in senior management positions at major Iranian businesses. Mohsen Rafiqdoost, one of the IRGC’s former senior commanders, for example, was appointed head of the Foundation of the Oppressed. Ostensibly a charitable trust linked to the Iranian state, the foundation controls a number of private companies, making it one of the largest (and most profitable) commercial institutions in Iran.

NOW, IT took some time for this process to dominate all other activities, but the IRGC was well on the way to a corrupt and endemic profiteering habit. And there were early warning signs of the problems to come. In a disturbing bit of irony, when the Ministry of Intelligence was sent to investigate corruption, it suddenly realized how easy it was for a well-placed, unaccountable state organization to make money, and thus it promptly fell to temptation.

When Rafsanjani left office in 1997, he was indeed succeeded by a reformist, Mohammad Khatami, who briefly attempted to clean up the racket with an extensive purge. But many of those undesirables simply transferred into other emerging intelligence organizations within the judiciary and, crucially, the Guards.

In fact, to cut costs, the Basij, who were themselves incorporated into the IRGC command structure, were instructed to make their money from fines on people breaking sumptuary laws. It soon became apparent that basijis were becoming dependent on this income and, by extension, on a regular supply of misguided and “corrupted” individuals. If everyone became a “good Muslim” overnight, who on earth would they fine? The trick was to constantly change the rules, at times relaxing them until a sufficient quota of women painted their nails, for instance, before abruptly tightening them up. This cycle became as regular as the seasons in Iran, and the butt of many jokes, more so because the authorities pretended that this annual scam was prompted by religious adherence.

The Guards themselves became involved in similar schemes to do with satellite dishes, which were periodically outlawed because of the access they allowed to corrupting influences from the outside world. The Guards, however, took matters to another level entirely. It was widely suspected that they were involved in the illegal importation and even production of satellite dishes, which they would then sell, seize and resell. Similar suspicions abounded about the distribution of drugs, in particular opium, the traditional leisure drug of choice in Iran.

Such activities did little to enhance the Guards’ reputation among Iranians. Since many of the younger generation had no particular memory of the battle scars and war stories of the ’80s, they had nothing to judge the Guards by other than their corrupt and manipulative thievery. Even Revolutionary Guard veterans were increasingly critical of a corps which seemed to have become so smitten with material profit that they had forgotten the ideals for which the revolution had been fought. It is indeed a moot question whether the Guards have become a business conglomerate, more eager to defend their vast investment portfolio than the ideals of the revolution, and by extension, whether we can accurately talk of the militarization of Iranian society, rather than the mercantilization of the revolution.

IN AN odd turn of events, however, the IRGC was slowly to become re-radicalized in its politics, even as it continued to ratchet up its involvement in Iran’s commercial sector. A change was made at the top of the IRGC command structure. Though the intention was to liberalize the Corps, moving it away from the habits of old, the result was exactly the opposite. In 1997, Yahya Rahim Safavi replaced Mohsen Rezai as commander of the IRGC. Rezai had occupied the post since 1981, commanding the Guards through the war and overseeing the changes to the ethos of the group, which started with Rafsanjani’s reforms and were solidified by the will to profit. He had become a fixture on the political landscape, regarded by many as a staunch conservative and something of an anachronism. As Rezai moved sideways into the Expediency Council, his replacement was seen as a breath of fresh air. And Safavi was even described in some accounts as an “intellectual” who could oversee the reform of the IRGC. But Rezai’s replacement in actuality signified a more deleterious change to the substance of the Guards.

The new commander had neither the authority nor the political will to resist the shift to the Right, which was being imposed on the IRGC by conservative elements within the Iranian government. This development took place against the grain of the body of the Guards themselves—conscripts as they were—who had voted overwhelmingly for Khatami in 1997. Indeed, many veterans went on to become the vanguard of Khatami’s reform movement. But the conservative leadership, coalescing around Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, felt threatened by the energetic reformers and decided to consolidate its control over key institutions to prevent further reformist advances. The judiciary and the Guardian Council were already bastions of conservative power. The Revolutionary Guard and the Basij were to be purged of any reformist sympathies and become guardians, not so much of the revolution, but of a particularly hard-line interpretation of that revolution personified by the supreme leader.

The leadership of the Guards was increasingly dominated by those whose loyalty was first and foremost to the concept of the velayat-e faqih, or the guardianship of the jurist, which serves as the legal foundation of Iran’s constitution and the source of the supreme leader’s authority. Safavi, the onetime intellectual, was no exception. He jumped aboard the hard-line bandwagon to survive and perhaps even prosper, and his response to student protests at the end of the nineties gave an inkling of the menace to come. Increasingly anxious about the demonstrations and the verbal attacks on Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard commanders issued a barely veiled threat to Khatami that he ought to restore order, or otherwise they would. This was an extraordinary intervention and one that Khatami publicly dismissed, but privately took very seriously. He pointedly reminded the Guards that the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, had explicitly stated that the military should never interfere in politics, and whatever the wishes of the current supreme leader may be, this overstepped their bounds. The crisis was averted. The reformists went on to win a landslide in the parliamentary elections in 2000, but this only reinforced conservative convictions that they must do more to prevent what they regarded as the corruption of the revolution.

Biding their time, the Guards expanded their portfolio of economic enterprises in order to increase their financial independence from the government and to avoid any unnecessary scrutiny of their activities. Tiring of the old system of commissions, the Guards turned to establishing front companies through which they could actually take ownership of different sectors of the economy. By the end of the 1990s, there was a clear shift in gear. The IRGC was in business—big time—and it was protecting those interests with increased political muscle and influence on the right.

THE RIGHT provided the IRGC with the opportunity to get further into profitability, and gave the Guards political and ideological cover. The price was that the IRGC would align with the right wing in Iran. As reformism faltered, and the new conservatism, known domestically as “Principle-ism,” began to take shape, the Guards likewise benefited from dramatic changes in the international arena, most obviously the catastrophe of 9/11 and its aftermath. Khatami’s “dialogue of civilizations” now seemed dangerously incongruous with the more aggressive American posture in the Middle East. President Bush’s fateful decision to label Iran as part of the “axis of evil” effectively sealed the fate of Khatami’s attempts to build bridges and opened the way for the Guards, who consequently even attempted to impose martial law.

Further opportunities came along with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Finally, the Guards, and more specifically their external division, the Quds Brigade (which was long involved in developing Islamist networks abroad, including Hezbollah, which it was instrumental in establishing), now had something concrete to do. The problems of demobilization that had affected the Iranian state since 1988 now seemed irrelevant. Iran was feuding with America and fighting to gain influence in Iraq, and the Guards now appeared to have a function which most Iranians could appreciate. With the election of Ahmadinejad, their grip on power became firm indeed.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD was the hard-line conservative (Principle-ist) answer to Khatami; a man who would exploit the same popular tools (most obviously, the mass media) to mobilize the electorate around a radically new interpretation of the Islamic Republic. And central to the overall strategy were the Guards. While Khatami had always sought to limit their reach, whether in Iran or beyond its borders, Ahmadinejad effectively let them off the leash. Claiming to be a simple basiji who served with the Guard Corps during the Iran-Iraq conflict, Ahmadinejad championed the war mythology of the Guards while reinforcing their economic position. Most importantly, at least for the West, he gave them free rein in their foreign activities, and Iraq, far from being a civilian concern, effectively became an extension of the burgeoning IRGC military-commercial complex.

The IRGC benefited, in very simple terms, from a largesse of money and a proximity to power. Under the shelter provided by a perceived American threat, the Guards began to take increasing control not only over foreign-policy and security concerns (Iraq), but also, more damagingly, over domestic issues through a calculated and largely constructed fear of a velvet revolution. The exaggeration of perceived dangers at home and abroad ensured that domestic criticism remained muted, though a number of commentators, including the influential reformist thinker Saeed Hajjarian, warned about the dangers of an emergent “garrison state.”

The argument that Iranian politics have become militarized makes the issue far too black and white. In fact, the IRGC has come to be in bed with a hard-line establishment made up of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and his clique, and even some journalists and clerics, meaning that the Right has coopted the IRGC as much as the IRGC has coopted them. This relationship between the hard-liners and the IRGC is long in the making, though it has been made far worse by Ahmadinejad’s arrival on the scene. We must remember this was started by Rafsanjani, when the moves into the political economy of the country were not initiated by the Guards though they have undoubtedly become enthusiastic participants. But what this means is that the IRGC is not a military junta. The Iranian state does not face a military coup in the traditional sense of the term. A more accurate categorization of Iran might be to call it the securitization of the state around the needs of an increasingly bloated business conglomerate, which confuses its own interests with those of the nation. This was in effect not the garrison state Hajjarian had warned about, but instead a mafia state writ large.

EMPOWERED BY a war mythology, reinforced by a largely constructed fear of foreign subversion and given free rein by the Ahmadinejad administration, the IRGC effectively indulged itself in an extensive extortion racket. A good example is the IRGC’s intervention in and seizure of the Imam Khomeini airport project. The airport had been developed as a replacement for the old Tehran Mehrabad airport and was intended to provide the capital with an international airport worthy of its stature. Like many projects in Iran, its construction was long overdue and eagerly anticipated. However as it neared completion, the Guards suddenly decided the company overseeing its construction, and particularly the internal communications networks, was suspect and needed investigating. The company and its Turkish partners were alleged to have some connection with Israel that the Guards argued was contrary to national security. They thus proceeded to tear up the entire communication network of the airport, and consequently, to much general embarrassment, delayed the opening of the facility by some months. Few believed the security argument, suggesting instead that the reason behind the preemptory intervention was far more mundane; the Guards had been excluded from a share of the project and took umbrage.

If traditional arguments proved increasingly incredible to the public, the Guards resorted, as did their political allies, to an ideology of religious authoritarianism that brooked no scrutiny and required no justification. This shift required another change at the top. Safavi was replaced by Mohammad Ali Jafari, a field commander rather than an “intellectual,” and one who could be relied upon to act on his convictions. The consequences of all these developments were to become brutally apparent in the run-up and aftermath of the tenth presidential election on June 12, 2009.

THE HARD-LINE establishment, of course whose most controversial leader is the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei—as he is supposed to refrain from interfering in the electoral process—had made it quite clear that its preference would be a second term for Ahmadinejad. Although Khamenei found it prudent to qualify his comments, the military brass saw no reason to be so shy. There was considerable sensitivity among the Iranian electorate over the role of the military, in particular the IRGC and the Basij, and there were widespread allegations that the IRGC and the Basij had manipulated the vote that had brought Ahmadinejad to power in 2005. This time, Ahmadinejad’s challengers noted, they would be vigilant. Despite the mounting controversy, as election day approached and the prospect of an Ahmadinejad loss loomed, statements of intent became even more explicit. Jafari warned that a “velvet revolution” would not be tolerated. One suspects that the motivation for such comments came as much, if not more, from a fear of economic exposure as it did from any perceived foreign-inspired threat.

True to form, when the unprecedented demonstrations erupted after the disputed election, the IRGC and the Basij were unleashed upon an increasingly irreverent public. Yet what remains striking about this repression (to date) has been the unsystematic and eclectic manner in which it has been implemented. The aim appears to have been to inculcate a sense of fear and anarchy rather than order (as evidenced by the widespread destruction of property by security forces), the idea apparently being that a widespread fear of anarchy will itself lead to order as ordinary Iranians grow anxious about the consequences of chaos. But this is not a military strategy born of a disciplined organization. On the contrary, this is a strategy born of paranoia. It is also a tactic which seeks to maximize the real limitations on power through the use of terror. It does not reflect an organization that is either cohesive or united, but one in which pockets of ideological fanaticism exist. Moreover, where this fanaticism has wavered, it has been reinforced by large amounts of money; money which, as on previous occasions, is tied to performance and which can only be paid in times of crisis. This perverse paradox has not gone unnoticed. Such are the realities of the mafia state.

THE GUARDS are increasingly taking control of Iran and seeking to shape the direction of the revolution they were sworn to protect. No longer satisfied that its civilian masters are up to the task, the IRGC has marginalized those who it judges to be weak or infected with the materialism of the West. The irony of this position, given its own extensive business interests, is not lost on the Iranian population. Nor, more importantly, is it lost on many of the IRGC’s own veterans and members of a conservative establishment who are critical of reform, but equally aghast at what the IRGC has become.

There is a deep contradiction within the Guard Corps between those who support a conservative notion of the state and those who support such an ideology more as a means of protecting their own interests—and violently when necessary. Nobody represents this dilemma better than the former commander of the Guards, Mohsen Rezai, who ran against Ahmadinejad as a conservative candidate in the 2009 presidential election. His acute criticism of Ahmadinejad’s (former basiji that he is) foreign and economic policies, both during the campaign and the crisis that has followed the dubious election, reminds us that the contemporary Guards, for all their apparent political success, remain a fractured, divisive and controversial institution. It indeed remains unclear how many Guardsmen voted for Rezai and his conservative beliefs, Mir Hussein Moussavi and his reformist views, or Ahmadinejad the Principle-ist.

Much as with the last shah, who doubted the loyalty of his army and worried about a coup, the reliability of the Guards in a prolonged crisis is questionable. If it is not a coup that concerns the ruling elite, there are undoubtedly fears of a countercoup led by Revolutionary Guard commanders who dislike Ahmadinejad and do not buy into a confrontational foreign policy which would certainly place them on the front lines of any conflict. Because of the divisions within the Guards themselves, should they rise up against Ahmadinejad (certainly a plausible scenario), it is unclear whether he will be deposed by those within the Guard Corps who do not find him conservative enough, or by those who do not support his aggressive approach to international affairs.

And even further splits within the IRGC are clear. Will they remain a force that safeguards the people, or instead look after their own interests? The repression that has followed the election crisis, and the apparent zeal with which senior Guard Corps commanders have spoken of their willingness to exercise maximum force has only increased the divergence between this “people’s army” and the people. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri—Khomeini’s former heir and the leading dissident cleric in Qom—bluntly summed up the state of affairs thusly: the Basij (and by extension their IRGC commanders) are no longer serving God, but Satan.

But for all their threats to exercise maximum force, much of the government-sponsored violence over the last few months—although possibly directed and supported by the IRGC—has been implemented by elements within the Basij. The IRGC has yet to exercise a systematic use of force, reflecting the Guards’ awareness that this would signify the crossing of a redline, and one which could well bring about unsustainable tensions within the organization itself. Many of the old-generation Guards object to crude force used against the people.

Because of these fissures within the IRGC, which are of course clear to all those involved, the hard-line clique now removes and marginalizes anyone who is considered of dubious loyalty to the wider (theological) project. Safavi, the former head of the IRGC and current special adviser to the supreme leader, for example, recently reinsured his safety by categorically supporting the notion that Ayatollah Khamenei is the Hidden Imam’s representative and in his absence can effectively exercise absolute power. Though seen as dangerous nonsense by most senior clerics (including Montazeri), statements of this nature are intended to show loyalty and commitment to, and complicity in, a particular idea of power. Those who do not adhere to this view are being purged, and recent indications are that many of the remaining old-generation Guards are being retired and replaced with new believers. This creates a dangerous polarization of views in the wider society, with a governing establishment made up of clerics, politicians and the IRGC poised on a pyramid whose base is becoming increasingly narrow and unstable. The Guards are but one aspect of a broader hard-line seizure of power. And these hard-liners are surrounded by a newly disenfranchised and discontented “ex-elite.”

The immediate consequence for the Iranian state is the reinforcement of a self-perpetuating paranoia, enhanced and exaggerated by the development of a security apparatus dependent on informants, and fueled by the extensive distribution of money and largesse through a tightly controlled patronage network. This is a security state, not a militarized state. All the flaws and weaknesses in the political-economic structure of the Islamic Republic are being reinforced and extended. And this is coupled with a governing elite of “true believers” that is not only shrinking but also has no desire or inclination to accommodate or compromise.

Faced with an increasingly belligerent opposition, its instinct will be to turn inward, using money and repression to keep society in line—tried and tested methods that the elite will have convinced themselves will work again. Of course, this is not a long-term, or indeed a medium-term, solution to the crisis of the Islamic Republic. With economic difficulties mounting (the impeding removal of subsidies due to prove a major shock to the system), the governing elite will turn increasingly to foreign policy and a nationalist cause (e.g., the nuclear crisis) to rally the people. Unfortunately for them, Iranians are no longer so easily convinced of their credentials. Crisis within the Iranian state will only grow.

IRGC: Arrest Mousavi, Khatami, and others

jalili20090730150608828 IRGC: Arrest Mousavi, Khatami, and others

By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 10 Aug 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] Comment Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, head of the political directorate of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), the backbone of Iran’s military, has called for the arrest, trial and punishment of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, the two reformist candidates in Iran’s June 12 presidential election, Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, a leading leftist cleric and leader of the leftist Association of Combatant Clerics (ACC).

Writing in Sobh-e Sadegh (True Dawn), a weekly that is the mouthpiece of the IRGC, Javani, a leading hardline IRGC commander said,

The Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] believed that the preservation of our Islamic system is our most important duty, and, so far, a heavy price for the protection of this Godly system has been paid by the Muslim and revolutionary nation of Iran. Therefore, any group or person, regardless of their track record and position in the past, who, along with the United States, the Great Satan, wants to change this system and install a non-Islamic system in its place, must be considered to be committing treason and, therefore, must be punished.

In the indictment by the prosecutor [read in the show trials] it is explicitly stated that, based on credible documents, as well as the confessions of the accused and those arrested in the riots after the 10th [presidential] election, a faction with the support of the United States attempted to use the presidential election to state a velvet coup in Iran.

General Javani and other hardliners refer to the peaceful protests after the rigged election, which turned bloody after security forces killed several demonstrators, as “riots.” He then added,

The indictment states that,“according to the recovered documents and confessions of the accused, the recent events and riots had been planned in advance, and had been carried out according to a timetable.” The question is, who are the main people responsible for the coup, and what is their main goal in carrying out the coup?

Based on the present documents and the undeniable evidence, should we not arrest the main people [Khatami, Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khoeiniha] who were responsible for the coup, put them on trial, and punish them? Ignoring [what has happened] under the guise of the interest of the system will result in irreparable harm [to the system], and putting out the fire [that has been set by the people responsible for the coup] will require the trial of the main people responsible for it, and revealing their true identities to the Muslim and revolutionary people of Iran. It is time for the judiciary, and the intelligence and security officials to be alert.

General Javani then added,

After the arrest of some of the rioters and active agents in the headquarters and offices of the coup agents [meaning the campaigns of Mousavi and Karroubi], some people tried to get them released and prevent clarification of the problems [what had happened]. Because the Second Khordad Front was concerned that the confessions of the arrested people will be broadcast, they tried, with the help of some of the clerics and the political and legal elites, to claim that the confessions before the trials have no legal value or validity, and also tried to prevent broadcasting the confessions. Now that the first public session of the court has been held and, in addition to accepting their charges in the indictment, [Mohammad Ali] Abtahi and [Mohammad] Atrianfar have made important confessions [in the court], the main people responsible for the failed project [the “coup”] and their allies are making absurd statements in order to explain away the confessions.

Khordad 2 (May 23) is the day in 1997 that Mohammad Khatami was elected president by a landslide. The coalition of the reformist parties that support him throughout his presidency is known in Iran as the Second Khordad Front. General Javani is referring to the “confessions” that Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice president to Mr. Khatami, and Mohammad Atrianfar, a leading reformist journalist who was active in the campaign of Mir hossein Mousavi, made in court on Saturday July 25. General Javani then continued,

The initial goal of the velvet coup was to gain political power, while the final goal was the transformation of the Islamic system into a secular one, which, with God’s help, people’s alertness, wisdom of the Supreme Leader, and the efforts and sacrifices of the police and military, [the coup] was defeated.

Those who, during the Second Khordad period [1997-2005], failed to destroy the Islamic basis of the political system and secularize the country re-emerged with a new plan using Mir Hossein [Mousavi] as a person who is a follower of the Imam’s line and defender of the Islamic values. In his initial campaign Mousavi tried to introduce himself [to the public] as someone who is independent of the [reformist] extremists and the Second Khordad Coalition, but with the passage of time it became clear that Mousavi is the main candidate of the Second Khordad groups.

Together with Major General Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari, the top commander of the IRGC, General Javani has taken a tough line toward the reformists and their allies. Ever since General Jafari was appointed the top commander of the IRGC in 2006, he and General Javani have been warning about the possibility of a “velvet coup” akin to what happened in Georgia and Ukraine in 2003 and 2004. General Javani regularly writes in Sobh-e Sadegh, and his articles usually reflect the thinking of the hardline supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the IRGC.

Generals Javani and Jafari have had a regular presence in the political developments of Iran. They regularly issue warnings about supposed foreign intervention in Iran’s internal affairs. In another article in the Sobh-e Sadegh on June 10, two days before the presidential election, General Javani had warned about the possibility of a velvet revolution (which has now been renamed the velvet coup, after Khatami accused the IRGC of staging a velvet coup against the will of the people), and accused the reformers of being the operatives.

While Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami are currently recognized as the leaders of the resistance against the rigged election, and are being constantly attacked by the hardliners, General Javani has also included Ayatollah Mousavi Khoeiniha as a culprit. The ACC led by Khoeiniha has issued several extremely tough-worded statements, accusing the IRGC and their supporters of vast fraud, in order to be able to declare Ahmadinejad the winner of the election. The ACC has also harshly criticized the violent crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators, the murder of scores of those arrested, and the show trials of the reformists, and has also declared the second term of Ahmadinejad as illegitimate and illegal. It is against this background that General Javani has demanded the arrest of Khoeiniha, along with Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami.

An interesting twist to this is that, a day before General Javani’s article was published, the same accusations and demands made by him were also attributed to General Jafari. But, the IRGC issued a statement quickly, denying that General Jafari had made the same accusations and demands. Whether General Javani has published the article with it being approved by General Jafari, or whether the contradiction between General Jafari’s denial and General Javani’s article reflects some divisions among the IRGC top commanders, or whether it is simply part of an intriguing good-cop bad-cop game by the IRGC, is unclear at this point.

The threat to arrest the main leaders of the reformists appears, at least at this stage, to be simply a scare tactic, in order to force them into silence. They have been outspoken about the show trials, which has made the hardliners uncomfortable. The hardliners are well aware of the respect and prestige that Khatami enjoys at the international level, and the outcry that his arrest will generate. In addition, any attempt to arrest any one of them is sure to spark large-scale demonstrations that may well be very bloody.
Basijis: Iran’s Culture Cops (VIDEO) – The militia backing up Ahmadinejad
August 28, 2007

July 21, 2009
Islamic Guards Emerge as Key Power Bloc in Splintered Iran

CAIRO — As Iran’s political elite and clerical establishment splinter over the election crisis, the nation’s most powerful economic, social and political institution — the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — has emerged as a driving force behind efforts to crush a still-defiant opposition movement.

From its origin 30 years ago as an ideologically driven militia force serving Islamic revolutionary leaders, the corps has grown to assume an increasingly assertive role in virtually every aspect of Iranian society.

And its aggressive drive to silence dissenting views has led many political analysts to describe the events surrounding the June 12 presidential election as a military coup.

“It is not a theocracy anymore,” said Rasool Nafisi, an expert in Iranian affairs and a co-author of an exhaustive study of the corps for the RAND Corporation. “It is a regular military security government with a facade of a Shiite clerical system.”

The corps has become a vast military-based conglomerate, with control of Iran’s missile batteries, oversight of its nuclear program and a multibillion-dollar business empire that reaches into nearly every sector of the economy. It runs laser eye-surgery clinics, manufactures cars, builds roads and bridges, develops gas and oil fields and controls black-market smuggling, experts say.

Its fortune and its sense of entitlement have reportedly grown under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Since 2005, when he took office, companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards have been awarded more than 750 government contracts in construction and oil and gas projects, Iranian press reports document. And all of its finances stay off the budget, free from any state oversight or need to provide an accounting to Parliament.

The corps’s alumni hold dozens of seats in Parliament and top government posts. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a former member, as are the speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, and the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. And the influence of the Revolutionary Guards reaches deep into the education system, where it indoctrinates students in loyalty to the state, and into the state-controlled media, where it guides television and radio programming.

“They are the proponents of an authoritarian modernization, convinced that the clergy should continue supplying the legitimation for the regime as a sort of military chaplains, but definitely not run the show,” said a political scientist who worked in Iran for years, but asked not to be identified to avoid antagonizing the authorities.

They are so influential partly because they present a public front of unity in a state where power has always been fractured. By contrast, clerics have many different agendas and factions. Nonetheless, there are glimmers of fractures underneath the corps’s opaque and disciplined surface.

Political analysts said that behind the scenes there were internal disagreements about the handling of the election and the demonstrations against disputed results that gave a second term to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

“I have received reports, at least part of the top commanders in the Revolutionary Guards are not happy with what is going on,” said Muhammad Sahimi, a professor at the University of Southern California, who says he has a network of contacts around the country. “There are even reports of some who have protested.”

Even a former commander in the corps, Mohsen Rezai, who served for 16 years, decided to challenge the status quo by running for president this year, and he openly complained of the government’s failure to investigate accusations of vote-rigging.

One political analyst said that many of the rank and file were known to have voted for Mohammad Khatami, an outspoken reformer, when he was first elected president in 1997.

The corps is not large. It has as many as 130,000 members and runs five armed branches that are independent from the much bigger national military. It commands its own ground force, navy, air force and intelligence service. The United Nations Security Council has linked its officials to Iran’s nuclear program. The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons, an allegation the government has denied.

The corps’s two best-known subsidiaries are the secretive Quds Force, which has carried out operations in other countries, including the training and arming of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon; and the Basij militia. The Basiji, who experts say were incorporated under the corps’s leadership only two years ago, now include millions of volunteer vigilantes used to crack down on election protests and dissidents.

Members of the Revolutionary Guards and their families receive privileged status at every level, which benefits them in university admissions and in the distribution of subsidized commodities, experts said.

Mr. Nafisi, the RAND report co-author, said a former commander in the corps estimated that all the corps and Basiji members, together with their families, added up to a potential voting bloc of millions of people. “This new machinery of election was quite important in bringing Ahmadinejad forward,” Mr. Nafisi said.

Within this bloc is a core of military elites who have displaced — and at times clashed with — the clerical revolutionaries who worked beside Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in founding the Islamic republic. They are the second generation of revolutionaries, ideologically united and contemptuous of first-generation clerics like former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and of reformers and those eager to engage with the West. The corps has even trained its own clerics.

In an essay describing the rise of the Revolutionary Guards phenomenon, Professor Sahimi drew a portrait of the new elite: he said they were leaders in their mid-50s who as young men joined the corps and fought two wars: one against Iraq in the 1980s and another to force out the Mujahedeen Khalq, which the United States considers a terrorist organization and which is now based in Iraq.

The corps then split into two groups. One was convinced that Iran needed a chance to develop politically and socially; the other, which emerged the victor, was intent on maintaining strict control. Mr. Nafisi said the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was close to that second group.

“He went to the war front several times, more than any other commander,” Mr. Nafisi said. “He made personal contact with many commanders, got to know them and earned their loyalty. Now all the people in charge were basically assigned to him at the time of war.”

Today, the corps has expanded its role and reach. Its financial interests have, for example, been linked directly to the government’s foreign policy. Iran may well have remained silent on the attacks on Uighur Muslims in China this month in part because Beijing is one of the main trading partners with the corps.

Shortly after the Iran-Iraq war, Mr. Rafsanjani, then the president, encouraged the corps to use its engineers to bolster its own budget and to help rebuild the country. Since then, a Revolutionary Guards company, Khatam al-Anbia, has become one of Iran’s largest contractors in industrial and development projects, according to the RAND report. Its contracts with the government, including projects like the construction of a Tehran subway line, hydroelectric dams, ports and railway systems, are carried out by the company’s subsidiaries or are parceled out to private companies.

What is less quantifiable is the corps’s black-market smuggling activity, which has helped feed the nation’s appetite for products banned by sanctions, while also enriching the corps. The Rand report quoted one member of Iran’s Parliament who estimated that the Revolutionary Guards might do as much as $12 billion in black-market business annually.

In his will, Ayatollah Khomeini asked that the military stay out of politics, and senior Revolutionary Guards officials have been careful to defend themselves against accusations of political meddling after the June 12 election. But Gen. Yadollah Javani, director of the corps’s political arm, warned the public that there was no room for dissent.

“Today, no one is impartial,” he said, according to the official news agency IRNA. “There are two currents: those who defend and support the revolution and the establishment, and those who are trying to topple it.”

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Toronto, and Neil MacFarquhar from the United Nations.
Iran’s Basij Force — The Mainstay Of Domestic Security
December 07, 2008
By Hossein Aryan

The Basij is subdivided into five units: the Pupil Basij, the Student Basij, the University Basij, the Public Service Basij, and the Tribal Basij. The diverse range of these units is indicative of the various roles of the force and the fact that the aim of the Basij is to reinforce support for the current regime through, among other things, promoting its interpretation of Islamic values.

Basij members on review in Tehran on November 27
Members of the younger Pupil Basij are aged between 12-15 and those of the elder Pupil Basij between 15-18. There are special summer camps for members of the Pupil Basij. These two sub-sections of the Pupil Basij are similar to the “young pioneers” and Komsomol in the Soviet Union. In other words, they constitute a mass youth movement that helps to encourage regime support from an early age.

The backbone of the Basij comprises 2,500 Al-Zahra (for women) and Ashura battalions, numbering 300–350 personnel each. The IRGC aims to arm 30 percent of these battalions with semi-heavy and heavy weapons. However, all members of the battalions are trained to use light arms and rifles. Since Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari assumed command of the IRGC on September 1, 2007, the Basij have received extensive organizational and logistical support by the Revolutionary Guards that has enabled it to form 30,000 new combat cells, each of them 15-20 members strong, named Karbala and Zolfaqar. These units cooperate closely with the army of the IRGC.

The mission of the Basij as a whole can be broadly defined as helping to maintain law and order; enforcing ideological and Islamic values and combating the “Western cultural onslaught”; assisting the IRGC in defending the country against foreign threats; and involvement in state-run economic projects.

In terms of maintaining law and order, Basij members act as “morality police” in towns and cities by enforcing the wearing of the hijab; arresting women for violating the dress code; prohibiting male-female fraternization; monitoring citizens’ activities; confiscating satellite dishes and “obscene” material; intelligence gathering; and even harassing government critics and intellectuals. Basij volunteers also act as bailiffs for local courts.

During this year’s Basij Week, one of the commanders of the IRGC, Abdollah Eraqi, stressed that after a long lapse, the Basij will again start patrolling the streets of Tehran to help police maintain the Islamic dress code and arrest hardened criminals.

Doing The Dirty Work

It is noteworthy that the organizational structure of Basij units and the training they receive varies from one province to another, according to the nature and severity of the potential threats identified by the IRGC and Basij commanders in different regions. Basij members in the border provinces of Khuzestan and Sistan va Baluchistan perform different duties to those stationed in central Iran.

Female Basij members have led crackdowns on women’s dress.
In Sistan va Baluchistan and Khorasan, which border Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively, Basij members are deployed against drug traffickers, while in the province of Khuzestan, adjacent to Iraq, they carry out border-guard duties, and in the littoral provinces of Hormuzgan and Bushehr, they assist the IRGC’s naval forces in combating the smuggling of banned goods from the Arabian Peninsula.

The Ashura battalions of the Basij are regularly trained in riot-control tactics and how to deal with domestic uprisings. Basij members played a central role in breaking up the widespread student riots in Tehran in 1999. They were also instrumental in quelling several outbreaks of ethnic unrest in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, which is home to the majority of Iran’s ethnic-Arab population.

Since the Basij was directly subordinated to Major General Jafari last year, it has been given legal authority to engage in economic projects. Earlier this year, at the initiative of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s government, the Majlis passed a law to the effect that government construction and economic projects can be contracted to the Basij. Several members of the Majlis vehemently criticized this law, arguing that it violates Article 44 of the constitution, but to no avail.

Lacking the necessary skills to implement such projects, the Basij is likely to solicit help from the IRGC, which has extensive experience in this area. The IRGC is, after all, the third-wealthiest organization in Iran after the National Iranian Oil Company and the Imam Reza Endowment (named after the eighth Shi’ite imam).

Playing Politics

The Basij also plays a key role in preserving the political status quo. Although the constitution bans members of the IRGC and the Basij from involvement in politics, Basij support contributed to Ahmadinejad’s victory in the 2005 presidential election. The Basij under the tutelage of the IRGC was also heavily involved in the March 2008 parliamentary elections, during which Basij and IRGC commanders openly backed Ahmadinejad’s principalists (osulgarayan). In February 2008, Major General Jafari said that “the principlists are in control of the executive and legislative branches and, God willing, the judiciary will soon follow suit.” Hasan Taeb, then deputy commander of the Basij, similarly stressed that Basij members should have a “maximum presence” in the elections.

Taeb, who is now Basij commander, said during this year’s Basij Week that his organization will not interfere in next year’s presidential vote. However, history suggests that both the IRGC and the Basij will ultimately follow the orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior clerics, given that the commanders of both forces firmly believe that political interference is justified on revolutionary grounds. An IRGC commander told former Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi in early May: “We joined the [Revolutionary] Guards in order to interfere. During the [Iran-Iraq] War, we interfered in politics and we do so now because it is an act of revolution.”

Those plans to co-opt the Basij and the IRGC underline the primary concern of the Iranian leadership, which is deflecting and countering internal threats and preserving domestic political stability at a time when grave economic problems, including high inflation and growing poverty and unemployment, have undermined support for Ahmadinejad and triggered a series of domestic uprisings among reformers, students, and ethnic minorities.

Given the convoluted power structure of Iranian politics, Ayatollah Khamenei is increasing looking toward the former IRGC commanders, as well as the IRGC and the Basij, to help maintain his position as de facto the most powerful man in Iran, neutralize popular dissatisfaction over the deteriorating economic situation, stifle demands for political reform, and undercut pressure related to the nuclear issue.

There is no guarantee that Ahmadinejad will be reelected president next June. But even if he is not, domestic tensions are likely to persist, enhancing the role of the Basij as guarantor of political stability.
Niruyeh Moghavemat Basij
Mobilisation Resistance Force

The Pasdaran was given the mandate of organizing a large people’s militia, the Basij, in 1980. Islamic Revolution Guards (Vezarat-e Sepah Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Islamic) is in charge of the paramilitary national Mobilization of the Oppressed (Baseej-e Mostazafan) Organisation. It is from Basij ranks that volunteers were drawn to launch “human wave” attacks against the Iraqis, particularly around Basra.

The precise size of the Basij is an open question. Basij membership comprises mainly boys, old men, and those who recently finished their military service. Article 151 of the Constitution says the government is obligated to provide military-training facilities for everyone in the country, in accordance with the precepts of Islam under which all individuals should have the ability to take up arms in defense of their country

Iranian officials frequently cite a figure of 20 million, but this appears to be an exaggeration based on revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s November 1979 decree creating the Basij. Khomeini said at the time that “a country with 20 million youths must have 20 million riflemen or a military with 20 million soldiers; such a country will never be destroyed.” In a 1985 Iranian News Agency report, Hojjatoleslam Rahmani, head of the Basij forces of the Pasdaran, was quoted as stating that there were close to 3 million volunteers in the paramilitary force receiving training in some 11,000 centers.

General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, the commander of the IRGC, predicted that in the Third Five-Year Development Plan (2000-04) the number of Basijis will expand to 15 million (9 million men, 6 million women) to better counter potential domestic and foreign threats. While apparently falling short of the goal outlined in the plan, Basij commander Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi estimated the number of Basij personnel at 10.3 million in March 2004 and 11 million in March 2005. Basij commander General Mohammad Hejazi said on 14 September 2005 that the Basij has more than 11 million members across the country.

Other estimates place the force at 400,000. There are about 90,000 active-duty Basij members who are full-time uniformed personnel; they are joined by up to 300,000 reservists. The Basij can mobilize up to 1 million men. This includes members of the University Basij, Student Basij, and the former tribal levies incorporated into the Basij (aka Tribal Basij). Middle-school-aged members of the Student Basij are called Seekers (Puyandegan), and high-school members are called the Vanguard (Pishgaman).

The Niruyeh Moghavemat Basij – the Mobilisation Resistance Force – was the strong right arm of Ayatollah Khomeini. Its volunteers were martyred in their tens of thousands in the Iran-Iraq war, and were given the role of moral police at home. The supreme leader’s equally conservative successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been careful not to let any of Iran’s overlapping security forces fall under the control of his elected rival.

Ashura Brigades were reportedly created in 1993 after anti-government riots erupted in various Iranian cities. In 1998 they consisted of 17,000 Islamic militia men and women, and were composed of elements of the Revolutionary Guards and the Baseej volunteer militia.

The Basij, or Baseej paramilitary volunteer forces, come under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. They have been active in monitoring the activities of citizens, enforcing the hijab and arresting women for violating the dress code, and seizing ‘indecent’ material and satellite dish antennae. In May 1999 the Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance stated in public remarks that the Government might support an easing of the satellite ban. However, Supreme Leader Khamenei, who makes the ultimate determination on issues that involve radio and television broadcasting, quickly criticised any potential change as amounting to “surrender” to Western culture, effectively ending any further debate of the idea. The “Special Basijis” are not permitted to participate in political parties or groups, although other members of the Basij can belong to political associations if they are not on a Basij mission and do not use the name or resources of the Basij for the association. Basijis can participate in specialist or trade associations.

Hezbollahi “partisans of God” consist of religious zealots who consider themselves as preservers of the Revolution. They have been active in harassing government critics and intellectuals, have firebombed bookstores and disrupted meetings. They are said to gather at the invitation of the state-affiliated media and generally act without meaningful police restraint or fear of persecution.

President Mohammad Khatami told the cabinet on 22 November 2000 that “the Basij is a progressive force which seeks to play a better role in maintaining religious faith among its allies, and acquiring greater knowledge and skills.” The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Brigadier-General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, made comments in a similar vein at the annual Basij Supreme Association for Political Studies and Analysis gathering. He told the audience that the Basij pursued military activities in the first decade after the revolution because the main threat facing Iran at the time was a military one. Now, Zolqadr explained, the Basij will become “involved anywhere if the country’s security, goals, or national interests are threatened.” A statement issued by the Basij Center at the Science and Technology University on 23 November 2000 explained how this will be accomplished : “The Basij Resistance Force is equipped with the most modern and up-to-date weapons and is undergoing the most advanced training. It is making such achievements that if the enemy finds out it will tremble and have a heart attack.” The Basij demonstrated what it would do in case that faile during 23 November 2000 civil defense exercises, when armed Basijis took up positions in the streets and along strategic locations.

The Basij Resistance Force appeared to be undergoing something of a revival under the administration of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. This could be connected with the organization’s alleged role in securing votes for Ahmadinejad during the presidential campaign and on election day. Ahmadinejad appointed Hojatoleslam Heidar Moslehi, the supreme leader’s representative to the Basij, as an adviser in mid-August 2005. But the revival — along with changes in the paramilitary organization’s senior leadership — could also be connected with preparations for possible civil unrest. In late September 2005, the Basij staged a series of urban defense exercises across the country. General Mirahmadi, the first deputy commander of the Basij, announced in Tehran that the creation of 2,000 Ashura battalions within the Basij will enhance Iran’s defensive capabilities. Ashura units have riot-control responsibilities.
Militia Adds Fear To Time of Unrest

By Tara Bahrampour
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 19, 2009

One of the more dramatic video clips from Iran this week showed a man in an upper-floor window firing onto demonstrators outside a building near Tehran’s Azadi Square, killing at least one and wounding others.

The building was a base for the Basij, a semiofficial force of volunteers on whom the government has relied for years to enforce a variety of laws and religious codes. Protesters have accused them of committing much of this week’s violence, saying they have raided university dorms, beaten women and smashed their way into private homes. Many said they fear the Basij will be used to carry out even worse violence as the protests continue.

But although the Basiji loom large in the minds of their countrymen, Iranians and analysts interviewed said it is hard to pin down the number of members, their precise activities and whether they are all as loyal to hard-line government factions as many believe.

Joining the Basij can be as simple as going to a local mosque and receiving a membership card. Training and membership are often informal, said Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, adding that some who carry out activities associated with the Basij may not be official members. “If the Basiji are given a job, like to go break up a dormitory, and they call up their friends and say ‘Let’s go hit those sissy college kids,’ it wouldn’t surprise me a bit,” he said.

The term, which means “mobilization,” originally referred to people too young or too old to join the army during Iran’s eight-year war against Iraq. Then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for 20 million Iranians — half the country’s population at the time — to volunteer. Many were preteens and teenagers who, swept up in a religion-infused passion, famously walked onto minefields, unarmed, allegedly with plastic keys to heaven around their necks.

After the war, they became known for enforcing moral codes. For years, the word “Basiji” has struck fear into the hearts of more secularized Iranians, who know them as young men who stop them on the street for failing to follow the dress code or fraternizing with the opposite sex.

Like the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the religious militia with which they are affiliated, the Basiji are “people who can get their rifles and guns to come and defend the revolution” if necessary, said Mohsen Sazegara, a co-founder of the Revolutionary Guard and now president of the Washington-based Research Institute for Contemporary Iran. Sazegara said that although the Basij claims 12 million members, he thinks the number is around 500,000.

Critics of the Basiji say they are largely poor, uneducated and motivated in part by envy of their wealthier or more successful compatriots.

But that characterization is not always true, said Afshin Molavi, a Washington-based Iran analyst at the New America Foundation who spent time with Basiji while researching a book.

“The Basiji volunteer militia . . . are not monolithic,” he said, adding that while some fit the more hard-core and violent pattern, others become involved more casually. “They’re religious, that they have certain ways of dressing, like you never tuck your shirt in, or you wear Palestinian-style kaffiyeh, and it’s kind of a social identity.”

“Some of the finest people I met in Iran were members of the Basiji, and some of the worst people I met in Iran were members of the Basiji,” he said. “But among the more hard-core there is a core intolerance for Iranians who have adopted a more modern and secular lifestyle that they view as Western.”

The less hard-core members may be a wild card in upcoming days, Sazegara said.

He said many were “ordinary young people” who may feel conflicted about this week’s events. Some of them, he said, may have voted for Mir Hossein Mousavi, the defeated presidential candidate who has called on his supporters to protest the election, while still believing strongly in the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The conflict extends beyond the Basij, he said, adding that former colleagues in the Revolutionary Guard have called him expressing misgivings about the election.

Sazegara also cautioned against confusing the Basij with other, more professional and organized, militia, including those associated with the Ministry of Intelligence.

“Many of their friends and family are on the other side,” he said. “If the regime thinks they can use them to suppress the people and kill the people, they are going to have a hard time.”

· “Mr. Ja’fari has made a statement which was a source of wonder for me. He has defined the Basij as two organizations in which one part is the armed wing of the Basij which is a part of the military forces and dependent on the military and must not intervene in elections. But another part of the Basij which is mostly involved in relief operations and cultural affairs can engage in elections without problem. This is a new definition and it seems that every single day we must hear new and ever stranger things…

· We have only one general Basij and the Imam [Khomeini] said being a member of the Basij ‘is a source of pride for me.’ The Supreme Leader, Mr. Hashemi, everyone says he is member of the Basij. But the Basij which is under the command of Mr. Ja’fari, what group is that which is headed by him? Such statements within the military system is sends a signal…

· I say to the honorable brother with the greatest respect and politeness, the Basij in its general definition 60 percent of which is composed of free people and 40 percent of which is composed of members of the Armed Forces such as the Guards, the Army, soldiers and the Law Enforcement Forces who were obliged to go to the front. Thousands of people from different classes were expedited to the front and became martyrs. They too were members of the Basij. But today there is no war and the Basij is supervised by the Armed Forces and the Guards which is a source of pride to the nation among the midst of which it has developed. They belong to the armed forces and there is no meaning in their intervention in politics…

· I have been a member of the Basij for more than 48 years. Most certainly Mr. Ja’fari was a child back then. But one must say that the Basij [member] who is under the command of Mr. Ja’fari is a part of the armed forces…I have come to participate in an election without interventions of the Basij and the armed forces or rogue forces. A free election where everyone aims for victory. Don’t make such threats. You make the people more sensitive…

· If there is the slightest irregularity, I’ll stand firm and will not leave the arena. We will react. The consequences are the responsibility of the dear brothers who do not consider the circumstances to their liking, have sensed danger and chant songs for themselves. They claim the Basij is made of two parts. Gradually it will probably become four parts, and six parts after that…There is only one Basij and it is the one which is under your command. No one is so honorable that he can lose some of it. Don’t divide the Basij so they show up at the ballot and threaten the people or threaten them at rallies.”
October 27, 2008
Special Basij Units Formed
Esfandiar Saffari

In Order to Confront “Soft and Semi-Hard” Threats – 2008.10.28

The commanders of Revolutionary Guards ground forces and Basij operations announced simultaneously that they are forming special new “Imam Hussein” units composed of members of the Basij.

The Basij commander of operations, Brigadier General Ahmad Zolghadr announced during the latest military maneuver by the Revolutionary Guards that new special and expert air force, ground force and navy units would be formed from selected members of the “Ashura” and “Al-Zahra” brigades across the country.

Quoting Zolghadr, Sobh-e Sadegh weekly, the mouthpiece for the political division of the Revolutionary Guards wrote, “Basij members are selected to serve in these special units based on their physical fitness and will undergo various expert training sessions which would lead to a significant leap in Basij’s capability.”

He also added that units with expertise in aviation of small and light airplanes, special martial arts, sea navigation, parachuting from helicopters and planes, utilizing motorcycles in combat, scuba diving in ocean, and various other air, sea and land skills would be among the units formed.

According to Zolghard, special aviation schools would be set up in all of the country’s provinces in order to train the new special Basij units.

This high ranking Revolutionary Guards commander noted “preempting attacks by enemies” as the goal behind forming these special units, adding that the new structure of the Revolutionary Guars and Basij has afforded the institutions to be present in cultural, development and Jihad scenes.

According to the Revolutionary Guards commander of ground forces, more than 600 special Imam Hussein units would be formed by the end of the Iranian year 1387. Mohammad Jafar Asadi also noted regarding the role of responsibility of the Basij and the new special units formed from Basij members, “The responsibility of Basij across the country is to confront soft and semi-hard threats so long armed conflict erupts, meaning that if threats are of soft or semi-hard kind, the Basij is entrusted with the responsibility to confront them, but if armed activity is required to confront such threats, the Revolutionary Guards ground forces are responsible for confronting them.

This top Revolutionary Guards official also called on the Basij to combat what he dubbed “cultural and social threats,” noting that because enemies wish to undermine the Islamic Republic using new and various tactics in cultural, economic, political and social arenas, the Basij must utilize its high capabilities to enter the above mentioned fields and subvert the enemies’ goals.

Structural changes began in the Revolutionary Guards ever since the appointment of Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari as the head of the body by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader and continue with the incorporation of Ashura and Al-Zahra brigades of the Basij into the Revolutionary Guards.

The Ashura and Al-Zahra brigades were formed in the mid 1990s from selected members of the Basij in order to combat urban and street protests and demonstrations.

The Revolutionary Guards has also set up and trained “Zolfaghar” and “Karbala” brigades across the country. These are special, independent units of Basij and Guards members, which are described by Basij commander Hussein Taeb as being the Revolutionary Guards “claws in combating foreign enemies.” Recently Taeb placed the number of anti-riot Ashura and Al-Zahra units across the country at 2500.

The new Revolutionary Guards ground forces commander, Mohammad Jafar Asadi, noted in his latest interview that protecting the interior of the country is the responsibility of the Basij, while protecting the regime is the responsibility of the Revolutionary Guards, adding that the two forces would be incorporated in case of a foreign attack, emphasizing that “under the restructuring plan, when necessary to confront foreign aggression, the ground forces, air force, navy and Basij would be incorporated into a united force, because the Revolutionary Guards has one main responsibility which is to protect the Islamic Revolution and its achievements and principles.”

The State Security Forces had previously set up special units in Iran in order to combat internal protests and demonstrations.
Shadowy Iranian Vigilantes Vow Bolder Action
Published: June 18, 2009

“It is the special brigades of the Revolutionary Guards who right now, especially at night, trap young demonstrators and kill them,” said Mohsen Sazegara, an Iranian exile who helped write the charter for the newly formed Revolutionary Guards in 1979 when he was a young aide to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. “That is one way the regime avoids the responsibility for these murders. It can say, ‘We don’t know who they are.’ ”

The Rise of
the Pasdaran
Assessing the Domestic Roles of Iran’s
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards by: Greg Bruno, Staff Writer
Updated: October 25, 2007

The Inception, Duties and Structure

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran in Farsi, was formed by former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It was originally created as a “people’s army” similar to the U.S. National Guard; commanders report directly to the supreme leader, Iran’s top decision-maker. Iran’s president appoints military leaders of the guard but has little influence on day-to-day operations. Current forces consist of naval, air, and ground components, and total roughly 125,000 fighters.

The Revolutionary Guards’ primary role is internal security, but experts say the force assists Iran’s regular army, which has about 350,000 soldiers, with external defenses. Border skirmishes during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s helped transform the guard into a conventional fighting force organized in a command authority similar to Western armies; some analysts compare it to the “old Bolshevik Red Army.” According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which publishes an annual assessment of the world’s militaries, the guards also control Iran’s Basij Resistance Force, an all-volunteer paramilitary wing of roughly one million conscripts.

Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former CIA analyst during the Islamic uprisings, says the Revolutionary Guards were created as a “counterweight to the regular military, and to protect the revolution against a possible coup.”

Quds Special Forces

The Quds Force, a paramilitary arm of the Revolutionary Guards with less than a thousand people, emerged as the de facto external-affairs branch during the expansion. Its mandate was to conduct foreign-policy missions—beginning with Iraq’s Kurdish region—and forge relationships with Shiite and Kurdish groups. Riedel says a Quds unit was deployed to Lebanon in 1982, where it helped in the genesis of Hezbollah.

Economic Influence

The Los Angeles Times estimates the group, tasked with rebuilding the country after the war with Iraq, now has ties to over one hundred companies that control roughly $12 billion in construction and engineering capital.

Mohsen Sazegara (, a founding member of the Revolutionary Guards and U.S.-based Iranian dissident, says though the original charter of the elite force was to create a “people’s army,” years of political and military changes have transformed the unit into a massive money machine. Sazegara says the guards’ business dealings range from construction and manufacturing to illegal importation of alcohol. “
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Inc. By Mehdi Khalaji
August 17, 2007

Structure and Duties

Apart from being a military force with naval, air, and ground components organized in parallel to the conventional Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guards are the spine of the current political structure and a major player in the Iranian economy.

the Islamic Republic has evolved into a “garrison state,” to use an American political science term, in which the military dominates political, economic, and cultural life, and preserves the regime from domestic rather than external opponents.

The Revolutionary Guards also possess their own large and capable intelligence agency. The “Unit of Reservation of Information” exists in parallel with and is quite influential within the Ministry of Intelligence.

Former Pasdaran in Politics

Khamenei has appointed many former Revolutionary Guards commanders to top political positions, blurring the line between military and civil authority. Former IRGC senior officers hold significant positions throughout the Iranian government: the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad; the secretary of the Supreme Council of National Security, Ali Larijani; the head of state television and radio services, Ezzatolah Zarghami; the secretary of the Expediency Council (charged with interpreting policy when the president and Majlis disagree), Mohsen Rezai; and the head of the powerful Mostazafan Foundation, Mohammad Farouzandeh; as well as several cabinet ministers and many members of parliament (Majlis).

Economical Influence

Speaking at a ceremony announcing a $1.3 billion no-bid contract between Iran’s Oil Ministry and the Khatam al-Anbia firm in June 2006, Revolutionary Guards Brig. Abdurreza Abedzadeh, Khatam al-Anbia’s reconstruction deputy, stated that the company had completed 1,220 industrial and mining projects over the previous sixteen years, with 247 projects currently underway.

Three days later, a $2.4 billion contract was concluded with the Tehran Metro Company between the IRGC-owned National Company of Building working with the Mostazafan Foundation. The Oil Ministry also ceded the fifteenth and sixteenth phases of expansion of the South Pars oil field to Khatam al-Anbia under a $2.5 billion contract.

In July 2007, the Ministry of Energy agreed that Revolutionary Guards contractors would operate all public infrastructures projects involving water, electricity, and bridges in western Iran. All contracts were awarded on a no-bid basis in violation of Iranian law on open bidding processes.
Iranian Guards amass secret fortunes By Philip Sherwell, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 4:01am BST 20/08/2007

Life of Luxury

Behind the façade of a simple, pious existence, they live in mansions in the exclusive hills of northern Teheran with the latest model of BMW or Mercedes Benz in the garage, luxury hand-woven rugs on the floor, wardrobes full of designer clothes and a safe packed with diamond and gold jewellery.

Economical Influence

From the oil and gas industries to chicken farms and apiaries, the Guards have used their power and muscle to take control of major areas of business in Iran.

One former Guards commander to have benefited is Sadeq Mahsouli, 47, an Ahmadinejad confidant. He spent much of his career in the military and security apparatus before using his guards contacts and credentials to build a business in construction and oil trading.

They may not technically be palaces, but his six mansions and estates are estimated to be worth £10 million while his total worth could be as much as £86 million, according to Iranian media reports.

Guards had turned into a “corrupting” and “mafia-like” organisation, which was heavily involved in smuggling goods for the thriving black market. These include alcohol, which is supposedly forbidden but is widely consumed at private parties frequented by the Iranian elite. Much of the smuggling is done through Guards-controlled airports.


General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the leader of the Guards
The Evolution of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard by Renee Montagne
Morning Edition, April 5, 2007

Now associated with the Brookings Institutions Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Reidel says the ayatollah wanted protection against threats by Iran’s regular army, loyal to the previous government, and foreign intelligence agencies, like the CIA.

“Iranian’s had a vivid memory of 1953, when a coup had been launched against a much-less revolutionary government … and put the shah back in power,” Reidel said. “I think you can effectively characterize them [the Revolutionary Guard] as the hardliners within the Islamic Republic.”

In 1980, when Iran and Iraq went to war, the Revolutionary Guard acted as human waves in some of the toughest battles. Hundreds of thousands of fighters perished.
What Was Once a Revolutionary Guard Is Now Just a Mafia By Mohsen Sazegara
Fri. Mar 16, 2007


But on February 1, 1979, we stepped off a plane from France into Tehran, and 10 days later we were in power. Suddenly we had a position to protect, and the model for our people’s army changed dramatically. It seemed more appropriate to emulate such forces as the Swiss Armed Forces, United States National Guard or Israel Defense Forces.

The thought was that if the Islamic Republic had two separate armies with independent command structures, the country could insulate itself against a coup. If ordinary citizens were given military training in preparation for combat, we believed, then any military commander would think twice before contemplating overthrowing the government.


In the first phase of planning, we envisioned three separate circles on the organizational chart. The first consisted of a small but varied cadre of at most 500 people who were to be permanently employed by the Revolutionary Guard. All command and staff positions, including all the trained personnel destined for senior command in guerilla warfare, were to come from this quarter.

The second circle was to consist of another group of around 500,000 people who were to be recruited on a volunteer or part-time basis from the general public, with a designated mission to serve as commanders of “civilian guerilla groups.”

The third and final circle would encompass as many people as possible from all walks of life — students, workers, bureaucrats, farmers and the like. It was envisioned that each volunteer would receive military training and subsequently be invited to participate in at least one prearranged military exercise each year.

Basij and Quds

The Basij force, which had been created as a volunteer militia to help fight the war with Iraq, was transformed into a unit with paid elements who were tasked with confronting domestic opposition. And in order to carry out the Revolutionary Guard’s bidding in areas outside the country — Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan and, most importantly, Iraq — the Quds Force was created.


As originally planned, the Revolutionary Guard was to be, quite literally, a people’s army — not, as it has become, a force separate from the general public, let alone opposed to it. In times of war, the Revolutionary Guard was seen as a force to fight alongside the regular military in the service of the country. In times of peace, it was to tend to its own affairs. In times of need or natural disasters, it was to help out with civil defense and other emergency operations.

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Revolutionary Guard’s commander, Rezai, stated that the Revolutionary Guard must develop units specifically tasked with confronting opposition to the regime.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, served with the Ramazan Unit of the Quds Force, participating in Iraq-related operations during the during the Iran-Iraq War.


The first deviation began when Mohsen Rezai, Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr and their ilk entered the Revolutionary Guard. Their first major task was to convert the Revolutionary Guard’s information and research unit — which had originally been designed to serve as an analysis and planning unit with, at most, some residual capacity for military intelligence gathering — into an outright security organization with Rezai at its helm.

There is no doubt that responsibility and blame for the six-year extension of the Iran-Iraq War, which needlessly caused so much death and destruction for the Iranian people, rests firmly on the shoulders of the clique of Revolutionary Guard commanders around Rezai and Zolghadr.

These same elements in the Revolutionary Guard, who assumed senior military titles for themselves without having the slightest relevant qualifications, unashamedly planned a number of large-scale offensives after the victory at Khorramshahr. As a consequence of Operations Khaybar, Badr, Karbala 4, Karbala 5 and others, thousands and thousands of young Iranians needlessly suffered. Of the nearly 267,000 Iranian deaths and 500,000 casualties caused by the Iran-Iraq War, more than 90% occurred after Khorramshahr was recaptured and the invading Iraqis expelled from Iranian territory.

In 1985, the Revolutionary Guard was able to obtain Khomeini’s approval for developing air, ground and naval units, thereby acquiring all the properties of a classic military organization.

Intelligent Unit

The Revolutionary Guard also set up a new secret intelligence unit under the auspices of the Judiciary Branch’s security section. In effect a parallel security organization, it operates under the direct supervision of the supreme leader.
The most notorious part of this secret intelligence organization is Prison 325, which the unit runs independently in Evin Prison. I, like other opposition elements, was imprisoned there.

Economical Influence

Today the Revolutionary Guard controls more than 100 different economic enterprises, conducting business under the aegis of either itself or the Basij. Its commercial activities have ranged from importing household goods — at a time when other commercial enterprises were banned from importing some of those goods — to being in charge of car manufacturing companies and assembly plants.

The Revolutionary Guard has also been a major contractor in the construction of oil and gas pipelines, as well as in the importing of Kazakh oil into Iran. And when Iraq was under international sanction by the United Nations Security Council, the Revolutionary Guard was the prime force behind Iranian efforts to help Saddam Hussein and his family smuggle oil out of Iraq, according to personal acquaintances of mine who were involved in the operations.

And since Ahmadinejad moved into the president’s office, contracts for oil pipelines worth more than $7 billion have reportedly been awarded to Revolutionary Guard-affiliated enterprises without any public tenders, at a time when numerous contractors with far more experience and qualifications in their respective fields are struggling with serious financial problems.

Anyone seen as a competitor — political, commercial or otherwise — runs the risk of being put out of commission by intimidation and brute force. As a direct result, a number of Revolutionary Guard commanders have risen to key positions of power in Iran, despite being clearly unqualified.

# #
# Iran-US Relation #
# #

Stephen Zunes

Chair of Mid-Eastern Studies program at the University of San Francisco
Posted: June 17, 2009 02:46 PM

Why American Neo-Cons Wanted Ahmadinejad to Win
He was rather evasive when it came to specific questions and was not terribly coherent, relying more on platitudes than analysis and would tend to get his facts wrong. In short, he reminded me in many respects of the man who was then serving as our president.

Both Ahmadinejad and George W. Bush used their fundamentalist interpretations of their respective faith traditions to place the world in a Manichean perspective of good versus evil. The certitude of their positions regardless of evidence to the contrary, their sense that they are part of a divine mission, and their largely successful manipulation of their devoutly religious constituents was what put these two nations on such a dangerous confrontational course in recent years.

Iran Secretly Helped U.S. Bomb Taliban Units, Find Al Qaeda

By Jeff Stein | May 28, 2009 9:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)
Iran supplied U.S. diplomats with the location of Taliban military units in Afghanistan after the initial bombing campaign in the fall of 2001 failed to rout them, according to former officials in the George W. Bush administration.

The Islamic regime also gave the Bush administration “really substantive cooperation” on al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, at one point providing Washington with a list of 220 suspects and their whereabouts, said one official, former White House National Security Council Iran expert Hillary Mann Leverett.

Leverett said that in December 2002, after the U.S. gave Tehran the names of five al Qaeda suspects it believed were in Iran, the regime found two, which they delivered to the U.S. air base at Baghram, in Afghanistan.

But the budding relationship died on the vine.

Hardliners in the Bush administration prohibited Mann and Ryan Crocker, two of the principal diplomats dealing with the Iranians, from building on the contacts to pursue al Qaeda.

And then a month later, President Bush labeled Iran part of an “axis of evil,” lumping it with North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

But even then, Leverett said, Tehran continued to provide Washington with intelligence on al Qaeda and expel them from Iran.

“They deported hundreds of [al Qaeda] people,” she said.

At the same time, Bush officials were accusing Iran of harboring al Qaeda terrorists – a claim they and their allies continued to make until the end of the administration.

But Leverett, backed up by other officials, tells an entirely different story.

“The foreign ministry took the evidence – passports, vital information – and gave us pages and even a chart showing the disposition or what they’d done with each person,” broken down by “those who had been turned away at the border, or been detained or deported,” she said.

At one point the Iranian foreign ministry asked the Americans to help it set up “a mechanism” to help it deport Egyptian suspects to Cairo, with which it had no diplomatic relations, Leverett said Thursday by telephone.

But White House hardliners rejected the idea of helping Iran in any way, she said.

“We said, ‘Too bad, you’re evil. You’ll be a target yourself if you don’t just get rid of them.'”

Richard N. Haass, the State Department’s chief of planning at the time, was also frustrated that Bush officials were scuttling Iranian attempts at rapprochement, which he and others believed might have led to a “grand bargain” on other thorny issues.

“We couldn’t get support from the NSC, the Pentagon, from the Vice president’s office. And in every case we ran up against this belief in regime change,” Haass said in a BBC documentary that aired in the U.K. in February.

“Iran and the West” has yet to be televised here, and a spokesperson for PBS, the usual venue for such fare, said the public broadcasting network has no plans to pick it up.

In the third segment of the three-part documentary, Leverett described the Iranians’ secret offer to help the American bombers destroy Taliban units in the fall of 2001.

“The Iranians were willing to do whatever was necessary to help ensure that the U.S. military campaign [against the Taliban] could succeed,” Leverett told the BBC.

She had previously described some of the back channel meetings with Iran in an October 2007 story by John H. Richardson in Esquire magazine.

But neither that nor the BBC’s “Iran and the West” documentary has elicited detectable news media interest here, despite its incessant descriptions of Iran as an uncompromising, implacable foe.

Iran’s hardliners, led by “Holocaust-denying, Israel-hating, America-bashing” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appear to hold the upper hand now, but things could change in elections two weeks from now.

Iran’s president in 2001, Mohammad Khatami, sought to get around the hardliners and establish better relations with Washington.

“He had sought reconciliation with America (before), but his political opponents stopped him,” the BBC reported. “With America poised to attack the Taliban, he had a chance to win the argument in the parliament.”

“The Taliban was our enemy,” Khatami explains on the program. “America thought the Taliban was their enemy too. If they toppled the Taliban, it would serve the interests of Iran.”

Iran had discreetly offered help to Washington right after the 9/11 attacks, Leverett and other officials say.

But nothing happened until November.

American heavy bombers had been pounding Taliban units for weeks, but the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance rebels were still bottled up.

One of the Iranians Leverett was meeting with lost his temper over the stalemate, she says. He began pounding the table.

“And then he took out a map, and he unfurled the map on the table, and started to point at targets that the U.S. needed to focus on, particularly in the north,” Mann said. “We took the map to CENTCOM, the US Central Command, and certainly that became the US military strategy.”

Said Colin Powell, Secretary of State at the time: “We took a fourth-world force, the Northern Alliance, riding horses, walking, living off the land, and married them up with a first world air force. And it worked.”

Leverett told Esquire that Khatami’s representatives believed that helping the U.S. defeat the Taliban – and al Qaeda – would help bridge a quarter-century long estrangement marked by hostage taking, terrorism, name calling and outrage over Iran’s clandestine nuclear program.

“They specifically told me time and again that they were doing this because they understood the impact of this attack on the U.S., and they thought that if they helped us unconditionally, that would be the way to change the dynamic for the first time in twenty-five years,” Leverett said.

Obviously, any chance was lost.

Bush officials have refused to discuss the issue. When Leverett submitted a piece she had written for the New York Times about her U.S.-Iran contacts to administration censors, swaths were blacked out. (The Times printed it that way.)

“They said it was classified,” she said by telephone Thursday. “But nothing had ever been written down.”
Iran’s 2003 Grand Bargain Offer: Secrets, Lies, and Manipulation by Hassan Daioleslam
December 20, 2007

With the fall of two unfriendly neighboring regimes, Tehran’s theocratic regime sensed the opportunity to expand its ideological, political, and military hegemony in the region. On the other hand, the US military presence surrounding Iran and the disclosure of the Iranian nuclear program and its subsequent referral to the UN, were major threats to the Iranian regime’s strategic ambitions.

Sadegh Kharazi, the Iranian ambassador to France asked Tom Guldiman, the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, to take the proposal, known as “Iran’s Grand Bargain Proposal” to US leaders. Accompanied with a short memo written by Guldiman, the one page proposal was faxed to the State Department on May 4th, 2003. A few days later, Ambassador Guldiman came to Washington to deliver the proposal personally.

Diplomacy at its Worst by Nicholas D. Kristof
New York Times April 29, 2007
The First Meeting between Iran Side and American Council

The process began with Afghanistan in 2001-2. Iran and the U.S., both opponents of the Taliban, cooperated closely in stabilizing Afghanistan and providing aid, and unofficial “track two” processes grew to explore opportunities for improved relations.

On the U.S. side, track two involved well-connected former U.S. ambassadors, including Thomas Pickering, Frank Wisner and Nicholas Platt. The Iranian ambassador to the U.N., Javad Zarif, was a central player, as was an Iranian-American professor at Rutgers, Hooshang Amirahmadi, who heads a friendship group called the American Iranian Council.

At a dinner the council sponsored for its board at Ambassador Zarif’s home in September 2002, the group met Iran’s foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi. According to the notes of Professor Amirahmadi, the foreign minister told the group, “Yes, we are ready to normalize relations,” provided the U.S. made the first move.

the track two participants discussed further steps, including joint U.S.-Iranian cooperation against Saddam Hussein. The State Department and National Security Council were fully briefed, and in 2003 Ambassador Zarif met with two U.S. officials, Ryan Crocker and Zalmay Khalilzad, in a series of meetings in Paris and Geneva.

But Iran also sent its own master text of the proposal to the State Department and, through an intermediary, to the White House. I’ve also posted that document, which Iran regards as the definitive one.

Iranian Concessions

In the master document, Iran talks about ensuring “full transparency” and other measures to assure the U.S. that it will not develop nuclear weapons. Iran offers “active Iranian support for Iraqi stabilization.” Iran also contemplates an end to “any material support to Palestinian
opposition groups” while pressuring Hamas “to stop violent actions against civilians within” Israel (though not the occupied territories). Iran would support the transition of Hezbollah to be a “mere political organization within Lebanon” and endorse the Saudi initiative calling for a twostate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iran’s Demands

Iran also demanded a lot, including “mutual respect,” abolition of sanctions, access to peaceful nuclear technology and a U.S. statement that Iran did not belong in the “axis of evil.” Many crucial issues, including verification of Iran’s nuclear program, needed to be hammered out. It’s
not clear to me that a grand bargain was reachable, but it was definitely worth pursuing — and still is today.

Iran’s Proposal for a ‘Grand Bargain’ by Nicholas D. Kristof
New York Times April 28, 2007

The Original Documents Received by the US

These documents from the Swiss ambassador are what American officials received on May 4, 2003, and which they then rejected. Indeed, the Swiss ambassador was even reprimanded for having the temerity to forward the proposal. The Swiss document was published earlier this year on the Washington Post website with an article by Glenn Kessler; the Iranians’ position is that the real proposal is the one they prepared and transmitted, not the Swiss paraphrase.

First Meeting and How Pickering, former US Ambassador isn’t Sure about the Proposal

The unofficial diplomacy got a boost at two meetings at the home of Ambassador Zarif in September 2002, for board members of the American Iranian Council. Mr. Amirahmadi’s notes show that at the first meeting, Tom Pickering – a veteran U.S. ambassador – said that he had just spoken with the State Department and was told that the Bush administration was prepared to normalize relations in some circumstances. Others at the meeting whom I spoke to don’t particularly remember that, one way or the other.

Second Meeting where Iran Expresses Willingness to Work with the US

At a follow-up meeting at Mr. Zarif’s home, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi met with many of the same people. Mr. Amirahmadi’s notes indicate that initially Mr. Kharrazi was not encouraging but finally said in response to a question: “Yes! We are ready to normalize relations” with the US and prepared to discuss problems that exist between us, but for that to happen we must be able to trust the US and this requires
some initial positive gestures in the part of Washington, particularly a change in tone.

Was the US Department Fully Informed about the Meetings? Yes

By all accounts, the State Department and National Security Council were fully briefed through this period, but different participants disagree about how much of a blessing the State Department gave the process.

Why the US Killed the Proposal: Lack of Iranian Coopration in Providing Info on Terrorists

When the Neo-cons killed the incipient peace process, they did so partly on the basis that Iran had been uncooperative on terrorism. At a meeting in Geneva on terrorism issues, Zalmay Khalilzad (Former United States Ambassador to Iraq and current United States Ambassador to UN) had told Ambassador Zarif that the U.S. had information of a forthcoming terror bombing in the Gulf area. Mr. Khalilzad reportedly asked Iran to interrogate Al Qaeda members in Iranian prisons for information about the incident. Iran apparently dropped the ball (it says it didn’t have enough information) and did not generate any useful intelligence, and the incident turned out to be a suicide truck bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 12, 2003.

The Consequences of US Rejection of Proposal

It seems diplomatic mismanagement of the highest order for the Bush administration to have rejected that process out of hand, and now to be instead beating the drums of war and considering air strikes on Iranian nuclear sites. The moderate camp in Iran was discouraged and discredited when the U.S. rejected its “grand bargain” proposal.

Personal Memo of Hooshang Amirahmadi, Ph.D.
June 2004

Initial Proposal by the US

October or November 2001: The US proposes to Iran that they should directly negotiate over Iraq within the Committee set out for Afghanistan. Bush calls Iran Axis of Evil.

Conditions in which Iran CounterProposed

February 2002: Iran makes a counterproposal for direct negotiations over Iraq within the framework of 5+6 (five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council plus Iran. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Syria). The proposal was sent to the State Department via the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Anan. The US rejected the idea because they did not want to involve Russia and China in the negotiations.

Gathering of US Diplomats for the negotiation

March 2002: AIC organized a major event in Washington that brought Senators Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, Robert Torricelli, and Zalmy Khalilzad.

First Meeting

September 2002: A select number of AIC Boards meet Ambassador Zarif at his residence (including, Tom Pickering, Frank Wisner, Hooshang Amirahmadi, and Richard Murphy). Zarif was also informed that the US is seeking to open up the channels of communication for normalizing the relation between two countries. AIC was trying to set up a meeting in which both sides can simultuously announce their mutual willingness to engage in dialoge.

Second Meeting

September 2002: A select group of AIC Board members meet Iran’s Foreign Minster, Dr. Kamal Kharrazi, at the residence of Dr. Zarif. Kharrazi announced that Iran desires to normalize relations. Pickering delivers the message to the State department.

Proposal Constructed by AIC

October 2002: We developed a proposal for US-Iran Cooperation over Iraq. I then met Zalmy Khalilzad in his NSC office in the White House to convey the normalization desire of Iran, our plan to hold a conference for simultaneous expression of intentions to normalize

Continual of Talks

September-November 2002: I met Ryan Crocker and others in State Department. Exchanged views and information about what might be done to engage the two sides. Pickering was the main contact with the Department to convince Bill Burns to engage US in the negotations.

January 2003: Ambassador Zarif meets Ambassador Ryan Crocker (of the State Department) in Paris. They discuss ways that the two governments could cooperate over Iraq.

Discussion on Iraq

March 2003, April: Ambassador Zarif meets Zalmy Khalilzad (a director of the National Security Council) and Ryan Crocker in Geneva. They discuss cooperation on Iraq. The US is now very close to invading Iraq. Dr. Zarif had tried to explain to Ambassador Khalilzad what could happen after the US invades Iraq

The Iran Side Works on the Proposal

May 1, 2003: Per Zarif, Iran’s FM receives a “proposal from the State Department. Zarif is in Tehran and uses the opportunity to modify the Iran side of the proposal.

Meeting in Geneva and Disolvement of Negotiation after Bombing Attack in SA

May 3, 2003: Ambassador Zarif meets Ambassador Zalmy Khalilzad and Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Geneva. The US delegation is headed by Dr. Khalilzad. The US has already invaded Iraq and is in control of its Government. The situation begins to deteriorate in Iraq along the line predicted by Zarif.

During this meeting, Khalilzad tells Zarif that the US has learned that a terrorist bombing incident is planned to happen in the Persian Gulf area. He asks that Iranian Government utilize members of Al-Qaeda in Iranian prisons for information on the planned incident. The incident happened on May 12 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Swiss Ambassador Delivers the Proposal to Washington

May 4, 2003: The Grand Bargain proposal is faxed to the US Government. On May 4, Tim Guldimann, the Swiss Ambassador in Tehran, authenticates the proposal.

How Ne-cons Set to Damper the Negotations by Accusations that Iran’s Lack of Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism

May 24, 2003: The planned meeting between Zarif and Khalilzad did not take place. Zarif went to Geneva for the meeting but Khalilzad did not show up. In Zarif’s view, the neocons have orchestrated the accusation against Iran so that they could derail Zarif-Khalilzad negotiations.

After the Zarif-Khalilzad meetings ended, the accusations also stopped! (Note, as per Zarif, while he was meeting Khalilzad, neo-cons were sending him message asking that he should talk to them (he named Richard Pearl in particular – who was at the time Chairman of the Defense Policy Board in the Pentagon).

Personal Memo of Hooshang Amirahmadi, Ph.D.
November 2002
Meetings with Dr. Zarif, Dr. Kharrazi, NSC and State Department Staff
Meeting with Dr. Javad Zarif, September 2002

Reasons to Open up Dialoge with Iran

Dr. Zarif is considered both more liberal and better informed about the legal problems facing Iran globally and in relation to the United States. Americans also know Dr. Zarif well as they have worked with him in many occasions including in Bonn, Germany, when the two nations discussed the formation of the post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Initial Meeting

I proposed that Dr. Zarif and a small number of AIC Board of Directors meet. That meeting took place in September 2002 at the Ambassador’s
residence. Present were Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Ambassador Frank Wisner, Ambassador Nick Platt, Ambassador Bill Miller, Ambassador Richard Murphy, Mr. Hassan Nemazee, and Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi.

Nature of Badwill from the American Camp

Washington often responds negatively to Iran’s gestures of goodwill. The Afghan case is a recent example. Iran helped the US and was expecting
rewards, but instead Tehran became evil. He gave several other examples of Iran’s goodwill gestures, including the signals Tehran has been sending regarding a possible US-Iran cooperation on ousting Saddam Hussein (e.g., sending Ayatollah Hakim’s son to Washington with Iranian diplomatic passport).

Anti-Iranian Sentiment by Israeli Lobbies

Ambassador Murphy reminded Dr. Zarif that while Israeli lobbies are powerful, part of the complain about Iran comes directly from Israel and by the leadership in Tel Aviv.

Bush Admin Willingness to Normalize Relation

Tom reported that before he comes to the meeting, he spoke to the State Department and was told that the Bush administration is prepared to normalize and discuss ways of arriving at such an eventuality.

Methods in which the US was Contemplating to Achieve Normalization

Tom then put the main proposal of the night on the table. For the US and Iran to work and normalize relations, three things need to happen: one, they must accept and decide to normalize relations (political will); two, they must find the right approach to come together; and three, they must focus on substantive issues requiring immediate attention.

Meeting with FM Dr. Kamal Kharrazi, September 2002

Members Present in the Meeting

This dinner meeting, organized by AIC, was held in the same residence and among the participants five were from the previous meeting with Dr. Zarif: Ambassadors Pickering, Platt, Wisner, Miller and I. Two US senators had their people sitting at the table as well (Senators Biden and Senator Hagel).

Iran’s Willingness to Go on with the Dialogue

I asked if the Minister had anything positive to say, and asked a pointed question: “Dr. Kharrazi, please tell us in clearest possible
language if Iran wishes to normalize relations with the US.” He stayed quite for a while and then responded: “Yes! We are ready to normalize relations” with the US and prepared to discuss problems that exist between us, but for that to happen we must be able to trust the US and this requires some initial positive gestures in the part of Washington, particularly a change in tone.

“Iran had always insisted that they were for the normalization of the CONDITIONS for a dialogue.”

Meeting with Khalilzad and Approval of “AIC’s” Proposal by the US

At the conclusion of that meeting, Dr. Khalilzad told me that “in principle, there is no problem with the proposal,” but he must consult with his superiors before a definitive answer is given. He asked for a few days. I asked him to also speak to Ambassador Pickering, which he subsequently did. Per Tom’s report to me, he was positively inclined toward our proposal.

Discussions with the State Department, September and October 2002

Public Speech to Roll the Negotiation

We expect to hold a conference where the two sides will come and talk about Iraq in the larger context of regional security. The parties will share lectures 48 hours in advance and they hope to have their official statements “proportionally positive.”

Iran:Time for a New Approach Report of an Independent Task Force
Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations


How Iran is getting around the sanctions

With respect to Tehran, the efficacy of this approach was undermined by Iran’s concurrent efforts to rebuild its relations with its neighbors and major international actors, including Europe, China, and Japan.

Clinton’s frustration and lack of outcome from lessening the containment

In the late 1990s, the appearance of political liberalization in Iran persuaded the Clinton administration to discontinue the Iranian component of “dual containment.”

the US’ disengagement and re-engagement in post 9/11, simply using Iran for strategic purposes without regard to the notion of normalization

The most dramatic development in U.S.-Iranian relations during this period was President Bush’s decision to include Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, in his construct of an “axis of evil” in his January 2002 State of the Union address. The reference came in response to the discovery of a weapons cache reportedly supplied by Iran en route to the Palestinian Authority, but it undercut several months of tacit cooperation between Washington and Tehran on the war and the post-conflict stabilization of Afghanistan.

US elements playing with Iran-US policy like a wind-up toy

Differing views in Washington generated occasionally glaring inconsistencies in U.S. positions. In the aftermath of the ouster of Saddam Hussein, for example, the Pentagon publicly flirted with utilizing an Iraq-based Iranian opposition group as a vanguard force against Tehran over the protests of the State Department, which had designated the group as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.

Regime change through eastern Eruope method of uprooting communism does not work with Iran

Persuaded that revolutionary change was imminent in Iran, the administration sought to influence Iran’s internal order, relying on the model of the east European transition from communism. However, the neat totalitarian dichotomy between the regime and the people does not exist in the Islamic Republic, and, as a result, frequent, vocal appeals to the “Iranian people” only strengthened the cause of clerical reactionaries and left regime opponents vulnerable to charges of being Washington’s “fifth column.”

Engaging with Iran with no restriction does not serve US interest

Direct dialogue approached candidly and without restrictions on issues of mutual concern would serve Iran’s interests. And establishing connections with Iranian society would directly benefit U.S. national objectives of enhancing the stability and security of this critical region.

Recommendation on the US part in how to initiate and go about dealing with Iran

For these reasons, we advocate that Washington propose a compartmentalized process of dialogue, confidence building, and incremental engagement. The United States should identify the discrete set of issues on which critical U.S. and Iranian interests converge and must be prepared to try to make progress along separate tracks, even while considerable differences remain in other areas.

Implementating a broader methods in normalization of relation like with China and Russia

Instead of aspiring to a detailed road map of rapprochement, as previous U.S. administrations have recommended, the executive branch should consider outlining a more simple mechanism for framing formal dialogue with Iran. A basic statement of principles, along the lines of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué signed by the United States and China

No regime change rhetorics

In dealing with Iran, the United States should relinquish the rhetoric of regime change. Such language inevitably evokes the problematic history of U.S. involvement with the 1953 coup that unseated Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq.
Burnt Offering

How a 2003 secret overture from Tehran might have led to a deal on Iran’s nuclear capacity — if the Bush administration hadn’t rebuffed it.
Gareth Porter | May 21, 2006

Armitage tendencies to work on Iran issues from the get-go and hiring Haass

Armitage had lived in Tehran for several months in 1975 as part of a Pentagon team trying to restrain the shah’s arms purchases, and he was “very interested” in Iran, according to Powell’s chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson. One of the reasons Armitage brought Middle East specialist Richard Haass into the department as head of the Office of Policy Planning, Wilkerson says, was to work on a new policy toward Iran.

Iran’s willingness to fight along the US against Al-Quaida

Within weeks, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Sudan all approached the United States through various channels to offer their help in the fight against al-Qaeda. “The Iranians said we don’t like al-Qaeda any better than you, and we have assets in Afghanistan that could be useful,” Flynt Leverett, a career CIA analyst who was then at the State Department as a counter-terrorism expert, recalls.

The Iranians, who had been working for years with the main anti-Taliban coalition, the Northern Alliance, also advised the Americans about how to negotiate the major ethnic and political fault lines in the country.

In early December, at a conference in Bonn to set up a post-Taliban Afghan government, Iran pressed its allies in the Northern Alliance to limit their demands for ministerial seats and even made sure antiterrorism language was included in the agreement, according to U.S. Special Envoy James Dobbins. “The Bonn Conference would not have been successful without [Iran’s] cooperation,” he says. “They had real contacts with the players on the ground in Afghanistan, and they proposed to use that influence in continuing coordination with the United States.”

The strategy advocated by Haass and Leverett, with the encouragement of Armitage and Powell, was to use the new desire of states still listed as sponsors of terrorism — especially Iran and Syria — to cooperate with the United States to press for larger changes in policy.

Initial opposition to mount a rhetorical attack on iran by the state department defeated by neocon

The inclusion of Iran in the “axis of evil” was at first opposed by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, because, as Hadley told journalist Bob Woodward, Iran, unlike Iraq or North Korea, had a “complicated political structure with a democratically elected president.”

duality in Rice’s behavior

Rice had already earned a reputation among national security officials for always staying in Bush’s good graces by taking whatever position she believed he would favor. “She would guess which way the President would go and make sure that’s where she came out,” says Wilkerson, who watched her operate for four years. “She would be an advocate up to a point, but her advocacy would cease as soon as she sniffed the President’s position.”

Players in instigating the hostile policies towards Iran especially William Luti ( and Douglas Feith

Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld led the neoconservative push for regime change. But it was Douglas Feith, the abrasive and aggressively pro-Israel undersecretary of defense for policy, who was responsible for developing the details of the policy. Feith had two staff members, Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode, who spoke Farsi, and a third, William Luti, whom one former U.S. official recalls being “downright irrational” on anything having to do with Iran. A former intelligence official who worked on the Middle East said, “I’ve had a couple of Israeli generals tell me off the record that they think Luti is insane.”

Neocons point of contacts, usually consisted of arms dealers and non-officials

In December 2001, Feith secretly dispatched Franklin and Rhode to Rome to meet with Manucher Ghorbanifar (, the shady Iranian arms dealer in the Iran-Contra affair, and other Iranians. Administration officials later told Warren P. Strobel of the Knight Ridder media chain that they had learned that among those Iranians were representatives of the Mujahadeen e Khalq (MEK), a paramilitary organization Saddam had used for acts of terror against non-Sunni Iraqis and Iran.

The meeting concerned a secret offer from reportedly dissident Iranian officials to provide information relevant to the War on Terrorism and Iran’s relationship with terrorists in Afghanistan.

Decision not to share any information regarding terrorism with Iran unless they come forward with it

In rules for dealing with Iran and Syria, referred to informally as the “Hadley Rules,” the committee further decreed that there could be no sharing of intelligence information or any other cooperation on al-Qaeda, although the states in question could be asked to provide information or other cooperation unilaterally. The new rules put U.S. policy toward Iran in a straitjacket requiring that Iran could never be treated as a sovereign equal on any issue.

How the proposal by the US was incepted and what it was changed to (regime change)

In early 2002, Leverett worked on a draft National Security Presidential Decision (NSPD) calling for diplomatic engagement. But Feith’s staff came up with their own revised version of the draft, which turned into a policy of regime change, according to Leverett.

information by the US and intentional policies of discrediting Iran

When the administration requested that the Iranian government send more guards to the Afghan border to intercept al-Qaeda cadres, Iran did so. And when Washington asked Iran to look out for specific al-Qaeda leaders who had entered Iran, Iran put a hold on their visas.

The effect of the Bush administration’s signals of hostility was to discredit the idea of cooperation with Washington as a means of obtaining U.S. concessions to Iranian interests. Reflecting the mood in Tehran, in May 2002, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the idea of negotiations with the United States as useless.

Why did Iran helped out anyway? Fear of being the next target when the US began plans to invade Iraq

Trita Parsi, a specialist on Iranian foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who has had extensive interviews with officials of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council as well as the Foreign Ministry, says, They believed if they didn’t do something, Iran would be next.

Iranian’s leverage for the negotations

In early 2003, the Iranians believed they had three new sources of bargaining leverage with Washington: the huge potential influence in a post-Saddam Iraq of the Iranian-trained and anti-American Iraqi Shiite political parties and military organizations in exile in Iran; the Bush administration’s growing concern about Iran’s nuclear program; and the U.S. desire to interrogate the al-Qaeda leaders Iran had captured in 2002.

The Iran’s proposal was approved by the highest ranking officials

Iran’s then-ambassador to France, Sadegh Kharrazi, the nephew of then-Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, drafted the document, which was approved by the highest authorities in the Iranian system, including the Supreme National Security Council and Supreme Leader Khamenei himself, according to a letter accompanying the document from the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, Tim Guldimann, who served as an intermediary.

Iran’s offer to cooperate with regards to Al-Quaida and US assistance in eradicating MEK

The proposal offered “decisive action against any terrorists (above all, al-Qaeda) in Iranian territory” and “full cooperation and exchange of all relevant information.” It also indicated, however, that Iran wanted from the United States the “pursuit of anti-Iranian terrorists, above all MKO” — the Iranian acronym for the Mujihedeen e Khalq (MEK), which had fought alongside Iraqi troops in the war against Iran and was on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations — and support for repatriation of their members in Iraq as well as actions against the organization in the United States.

According to Leverett, Zarif informed Khalilzad that Iran would hand over the names of senior al-Qaeda cadres detained in Iran in return for the names of the MEK cadres and troops who had been captured by U.S. forces in Iraq.

Iran’s guarantee in cooperating with the IAEA and requesting assistance in acquiring nuclear technology from the west

To meet the U.S. concern about an Iranian nuclear weapons program, the document offered to accept much tighter controls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange for “full access to peaceful nuclear technology.” It proposed “full transparency for security [assurance] that there are no Iranian endeavors to develop or possess WMD” and “full cooperation with IAEA based on Iranian adoption of all relevant instruments (93+2 and all further IAEA protocols).”

Support of Saudi initiative and cease supporting the militant who oppose it and asking Hizbulla to become more political rather than a miliary wing

The Iranian proposal also offered a sweeping reorientation of Iranian policy toward Israel. But the document offered “acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two-states approach).” The March 2002 declaration had embraced the land-for-peace principle and a comprehensive peace with Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal to 1967 lines.

“pressure on these organizations to stop violent actions against civilians within borders of 1967.” Finally it proposed “action on Hizbollah to become a mere political organization within Lebanon.” That package of proposals was a clear bid for removal of Iran from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Helping the US in post-Saddam era and asking for democratically elected government

It offered “coordination of Iranian influence for activity supporting political stabilization and the establishment of democratic institutions and a nonreligious government.” In return, the Iranians wanted “democratic and fully representative government in Iraq” (meaning a government chosen by popular election, which would allow its Shiite allies to gain power)

Iran also saught for an end to hostility towards the country by the US

The list of Iranian aims also included an end to U.S. “hostile behavior and rectification of status of Iran in the U.S.,” including its removal from the “axis of evil” and the “terrorism list,” and an end to all economic sanctions against Iran.

Bush administration didn’t want to get engaged in a “risky” negotiation and diminish their reputation, especially Powell’s

“The State Department knew it had no chance at the interagency level of arguing the case for it successfully,” he says. “They weren’t going to waste Powell’s rapidly diminishing capital on something that unlikely.”

The outcome of discussion among the principals — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell — was that State was instructed to ignore the proposal and to reprimand Guldimann for having passed it on. “It was literally a few days,” Leverett recalls, between the arrival of the Iranian proposal and the dispatch of the message of displeasure with the Swiss ambassador.

Disagreements in labeling MEK along side Al-Quaida

Bush is said to have responded, “But we say there is no such thing as a good terrorist,” according to Leverett. Although Bush did not approve an al-Qaeda-MEK deal, he did approve the disarming of the MEK who had surrendered to U.S. troops in Iraq, as the State Department requested, and allowed State to continue the talks in Geneva.

How the bombing in Saudi Arabia was blamed on Iran’s posession of Al-Quaida members in the country

But on May 12, 2003, a terrorist bombing in Ryadh killed eight Americans and 26 Saudis. Rumsfeld and Feith seized the occasion to regain the initiative on Iran. Three days later, Rumsfeld declared, “We know there are senior al-Qaeda in Iran & presumably not an ungoverned area.” The following day someone obviously reflecting Rumsfeld’s views gave David Martin of CBS News an exclusive story. “U.S. officials say they have evidence the bombings in Saudi Arabia and other attacks still in the works were planned and directed by senior al-Qaeda operatives who have found safe haven in Iran,” Martin reported.

Shady evidence to link Iran to the incident and it was shut down by Rumsfeld and Cheney

Contrary to Rumsfeld’s disingenuous statement, U.S. intelligence did not conclude that the government knew where the al-Qaeda members from Afghanistan were located in Iran. “The Iran experts agreed that, even if al-Qaeda had come in and out of Iran, it didn’t mean the Iranian government was complicit,” recalls Wilkerson. “There were parts of Iran where the government would not know what was going on.” within a few days, Rumsfeld and Cheney had persuaded Bush to cancel the May 21 meeting with Iranian officials.

How Feith saught to bring an end to Iran using MEK and Powell’s involvement with the issue

The neoconservatives had hopes of taking advantage of this break to advance the plan developed by Feith and his staff for regime change in Iran. It called for a covert operation in Iran using the MEK (reconstituted under a new name) for armed forays into Iran. But Bush seems to have balked at getting in bed with the MEK.

Seeing an opening, Powell became personally involved in heading off the use of the MEK against Iran. Powell pursued the MEK issue with both Rice and Rumsfeld “on a number of occasions,” according to Wilkerson. When he learned that Rumsfeld had prevailed on the military in May to leave the MEK with most of its arms and to allow it to move freely in and out of its camp north of Baghdad, Powell wrote a stiff letter to Rumsfeld reminding him that the MEK were U.S. captives, not allies.

The US using Al-Quaida as a condition to initiate the dialogue

But the U.S. stance toward Iran was still stuck in an imperial mode of making unilateral demands on Tehran for further cooperation on al-Qaeda as a condition for further talks. In October 2003, Armitage said in congressional testimony that the United States would be open to a wide-ranging dialogue, but only after Iran had agreed to “turn over or share intelligence about all al-Qaeda members and leaders.”

US lack of information on MEK to appease Iran and restrained of range of actions due to Hadley Rules

Meanwhile, the State Department cracked down on the MEK in the United States as a terrorist organization, but it could offer no information to Tehran on the MEK in return for such intelligence cooperation, as Iran had proposed. It was still constrained by the Hadley Rules from engaging in any reciprocity with Iran.
Afghanistan, Iraq: Two Wars Collide By Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer
Friday, October 22, 2004; Page A01

What hand Iran revealed with regards to Al-Quaida detainees

Diplomats from Tehran and Washington had been meeting quietly all winter in New York and Bonn. They found common interests against the Taliban, Iran’s bitter enemy. Iranian envoys notified their U.S. counterparts about the 290 arrests and proposed to cooperate against al Qaeda as well. The U.S. delegation sought instructions from Washington.

Zarif passed the papers to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who passed them in turn to Washington. Neatly arranged inside were photos of 290 men and copies of their travel documents. Iran said they were al Qaeda members, arrested as they tried to cross the rugged border from Afghanistan. Most were Saudi, a fact that two officials said Saudi Arabia’s government asked Iran to conceal. All had been expelled to their home countries.

Neocons said no and Hadley laid the ground rule: no compremise with Iran because they will look at it as reward

Representatives of Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld fought back. Any engagement, they argued, would legitimate Iran and other historic state sponsors of terrorism such as Syria. In the last weeks of 2001, the Deputies Committee adopted what came to be called “Hadley Rules,” after deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, who chaired the meeting. The document said the United States would accept tactical information about terrorists from countries on the “state sponsors” list but offer nothing in return. Bush’s State of the Union speech the next month linked Iran to Iraq and North Korea as “terrorist allies.

What Iran asked for

Iran, in turn, asked the United States, among other things, to question four Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. They were suspects in the 1998 slayings of nine Iranian diplomats in Kabul.
Bush’s World War III ‘Solution’ By Scott Ritter, Truthdig.
Posted October 23, 2007

Why was Iran’s offer declined?

Hadley is a long-established neoconservative thinker who has for the most part operated “in the shadows” when it comes to the formulation of Iran policy in the Bush administration. In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Hadley (then the deputy national security adviser) instituted what has been referred to as the “Hadley Rules,” a corollary of which is that no move will be made which alters the ideological positioning of Iran as a mortal enemy of the United States. These “rules” shut down every effort undertaken by Iran to seek a moderation of relations between it and the United States, and prohibited American policymakers from responding favorably to Iranian offers to assist with the fight against al-Qaida; they also blocked the grand offer of May 2003 in which Iran outlined a dramatic diplomatic initiative, including a normalization of relations with Israel. The Hadley Rules are at play today, in an even more nefarious manner, with the National Security Council becoming involved in the muzzling of former Bush administration officials who are speaking out on the issue of Iran. Hadley is blocking Flynt Leverett, formerly of the National Security Council, from publishing an Op-Ed piece critical of the Bush administration on the grounds that any insight into the machinations of policymaking (or lack thereof) somehow strengthens Iran’s hand. Leverett’s article would simply underscore the fact that the Bush administration has spurned every opportunity to improve relations with Iran while deliberately exaggerating the threat to U.S. interests posed by the Iranian theocracy.
Rove Said to Have Received 2003 Iranian Proposal by Gareth Porter
February 17, 2007

* Karl gets the copy of proposal via Bob Ney

Karl Rove, then White House deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, received a copy of the secret Iranian proposal for negotiations with the United States from former Republican Congressman Bob Ney in early May 2003.

* Bob Ney goes to jail for his link with Abramov

Ney, who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to prison in January for his role in the Jack Abramov lobbying scandal, was named by former aide Trita Parsi as an intermediary who took a copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House.

* Karl got the proposal around the same time when state department received it

Parsi said the proposal was delivered to Rove the same week that the State Department received it by fax, which was on or about May 4, 2003, according to the cover letter accompanying it.

* Why Ney was chosen?

Ney was chosen by Swiss Ambassador in Tehran Tim Guldimann to carry the Iranian proposal to the White House, according to Parsi, because he knew the Ohio Congressman to be the only Farsi-speaking member of Congress and particularly interested in Iran.

* Who knew about the proposal? Rice denies seeing it back in 2003

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied in Congressional testimony last week that she had seen the Iranian offer in 2003 and even chastised former State Department, National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency official Flynt Leverett for having failed to bring it to her attention at the time.

* Accusing the Swiss embassador Guldimann acting on his own discretion

The new account of the transmission of a second copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House coincided with the release Wednesday of both the actual text of the proposal as received in Washington and of the cover memo by Ambassador Guldimann which accompanied it. The two documents contradict the suggestion by Rice and by other State Department officials that Guldimann was acting on his own in forwarding the proposal, and that it did not reflect the intentions of the Iranian government.

Memos revealed that Guldimann had not altered the documents and it was confirmed by Kharrazi

The memo from Guldimann, dated May 4, confirms previous reports that the Iranian proposal was drafted by the Iranian Ambassador in Paris Sadeq Kharrazi, in consultation with Guldimann but only after extensive discussions between Kharrazi and the three top figures in Iranian foreign policy: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, then President Mohammad Khatami and his Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.

As the memo notes, Ambassador Kharrazi, a former deputy foreign minister, was extremely well connected to the very top level of Iranian leadership. Khamenei’s son is married to his sister, and the foreign minister is his uncle.

Kharrazi’s involvement in constructing the proposal

According to Kharrazi’s account, the three leaders agreed on “85%-90%” of the draft roadmap, with the president and foreign minister voicing no objection and Khamenei raising “some reservations as for some points.” Guldimann reported in his memo that Kharrazi asked him at a meeting on May 2 to make “some minor changes in the previous draft,” especially on the Middle East peace process.

How was the proposal asked to be delivered? Secrecy in case if things doesn’t go as plan

Guldimann’s memo reports that Kharrazi told him all three leaders supported the initiative. But the Iranian diplomat asked him if he could pass the proposal “very confidentially to someone very high in the DoS [Department of State] in order to get to know the U.S. reaction on it.” He also warned that, “if the initiative failed, and if anything about the new Iranian flexibility outline in it became known, they would – also for internal reasons – not be bound by it.”
2003 Memo Says Iranian Leaders Backed Talks By Glenn Kessler
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

“I got the clear impression that there is a strong will of the regime to tackle the problem with the U.S. now and to try it with this initiative,” Tim Guldimann, the ambassador, wrote in a cover letter that was faxed to the State Department on May 4, 2003. Guldimann attached a one-page Iranian document labeled “Roadmap” that listed U.S. and Iranian aims for potential negotiations, putting on the table such issues as an end to Iran’s support for anti-Israeli militants, action against terrorist groups on Iranian soil and acceptance of Israel’s right to exist.

Armitage stated Iran had placed too much on the table for effective negotiation

Former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage is quoted in this week’s issue of Newsweek saying that the administration “couldn’t determine what was the Iranians’ and what was the Swiss ambassador’s” in the proposal, adding that his impression at the time was that the Iranians “were trying to put too much on the table” for effective negotiations.
Bob Ney – Corrupt actions to aid airplane sale to Iran

Ohio Rep. Robert Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran. Who asked him to? A convicted airplane broker who had just taken the congressman and a top aide on an expense-paid trip to London, NEWSWEEK has learned. Ney’s lawyer confirmed to NEWSWEEK that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records on Ney’s February 2003 trip paid for by Nigel Winfield, a thrice-convicted felon who ran a company in Cyprus called FN Aviation. Winfield was seeking to sell U.S.-made airplane spare parts to the Iranian government—a deal that would have needed special permits because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran. (

Ney got a deal to push for removal of sanction against iranian aviation via a felon intermidary

In January 2006, Newsweek reported that Ney’s lawyer confirmed that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records on an expenses paid February 2003 trip to London that Ney and a top aide took. The trip was paid for by “Nigel Winfield, a thrice-convicted felon who ran a company in Cyprus called FN Aviation. Winfield was seeking to sell U.S.-made airplane spare parts to the Iranian government—a deal that would have needed special permits because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran,” and that “Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran.”

Al-Zayat had been trying to sell U.S.-made airplanes and airplane parts to Iran and, through FN Aviation, hired two DC-based lobbyists to seek an exemption from the Iran arms embargo to allow the sale and to gain a visa to enter the U.S.


One of the lobbyists was Roy Coffee of the O’Connor & Hannan firm, which was paid $220,000 for its services between its hire on February 20, 2003 its terminatino at the end of that year, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Senate.

The other lobbyist was David DiStefano, who was paid $20,000 from his retention at the beginning of 2003 until the end of that year.
The Factual Basis for Bob Ney’s Plea Agreement

About a week ago, Tim posted a DMN article about two lobbyists hired by the Dallas lawfirm of Locke Liddell & Sapp getting into hot water because of dealings with Iran. One of those lobbyists, Roy Coffee, gave the News a “no comment,” which hurt his image. Now, after his client has signed a release, he can comment. And does so. At length. His 2,800-word statement is after the jump.

Our efforts on behalf of FN Avaition were to pursue a humanitarian exemption to the Iran-Libyan Sanctions Act (ILSA)for spare parts for civilian commercial aircraft and possibly new civilian commercial aircraft. We were not attempting to make an end run around the sanctions act for military parts. Neither Dave nor I would ever have worked on such a proposition.

We approached Mr. Ney about FN’s request because he has a long history of interest in the Middle East – he lived in Iran before the revolution and later in Saudi Arabia. He has a passion for the Iranian people that is inspiring.

Our trip to London was at our clients request. It was a very quick 3-day trip to London and back with a series of meetings at FN Aviation’s London offices. We flew through the night on Thursday night arriving Friday morning and returned on Sunday.

Other than traveling to London to meet with our clients, we never asked Mr. Ney to do anything in his official capacity. Reports in Newsweek that we asked him to call Secretary of State Colin Powell are innacurate. The Administration’s view of Iran – “Axis of Evil” – was well known and without first securing Congressional support, we knew that there was no way to get the Administration to grant an exemption. While Mr. Ney has spoken repeatedly with Administration officials regarding Iran through the years, he has made it clear to the press that he never took any action with regards to FN Aviation.
Iran’s May 2003 Offer – Actually copies of documents
Conversations with History – Trita Parsi

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Trita Parsi,President of the National Iranian American Council, for a discussion of the struggle for
power in the Middle East. Drawing on the perspective of the Realist School of International Relations Theory, he focuses on the region’s dominant powers–Israel and Iran–and examines the evolution of their relations with each other and with the United States, the world’s only superpower.
April 28, 2007, 8:44 pm
Iran’s Proposal for a ‘Grand Bargain’
By Nicholas D. Kristof

In Sunday’s column I lay out the attempts to reach a “grand bargain” between the U.S. and Iran, before Bush administration hard-liners killed the effort in 2003. Here I’m providing more background and the full documents.

The most crucial documents are the Iranian proposals for a “grand bargain” with the U.S. Iran apparently was partly reassured by the bustle of diplomacy in 2001-2003, while also nervous at what it saw as U.S. swagger into Iraq and Afghanistan – and taken aback by President Bush’s hostility to Tehran, as reflected in Iran’s selection for the “axis of evil.”

This document is the original draft version of the “grand bargain,” but its parentage is uncertain. For political reasons, doves in both the U.S. and in Iran prefer to present the grand bargain idea as originating on the other side, for neither wants to signal any political weakness. So this document arrived in the Iranian Foreign Ministry and purported to come from the U.S.; it was described as a U.S. initiative, but I can’t find anyone in the U.S. who acknowledges having prepared it. In any case, this was the starting point.

Then Ambassador Zarif edited it – his changes are in red in this document, and this is the one I would strongly encourage you to read. It was approved as the master statement of the Iranian position. Iran faxed it to the State Department and sent it, through an intermediary, to the White House. Here’s a final, clean version, as it was trasnmitted.

I can’t verify that the Iranian versions were received, or at least reviewed by senior officials. The Bush administration instead seemed to focus on a two-page document that came from the Swiss ambassador to Iran at the time, who looked after American interests there. That was a cover letter and a paraphrase of the Iranian documents cited above. These documents from the Swiss ambassador are what American officials received on May 4, 2003, and which they then rejected. Indeed, the Swiss ambassador was even reprimanded for having the temerity to forward the proposal. The Swiss document was published earlier this year on the Washington Post website with an article by Glenn Kessler; the Iranians’ position is that the real proposal is the one they prepared and transmitted, not the Swiss paraphrase.

These proposals were an outgrowth of a burst of diplomacy, both official and unofficial, in the fall of 2001 as the U.S. and Iran cooperated against their mutual enemy, the Taliban. For background, here is a partial chronology prepared by Hooshang Amirahmadi, head of the American Iranian Council.

The unofficial diplomacy got a boost at two meetings at the home of Ambassador Zarif in September 2002, for board members of the American Iranian Council. Mr. Amirahmadi’s notes show that at the first meeting, Tom Pickering – a veteran U.S. ambassador – said that he had just spoken with the State Department and was told that the Bush administration was prepared to normalize relations in some circumstances. Others at the meeting whom I spoke to don’t particularly remember that, one way or the other. Mr. Pickering himself says he doesn’t remember it, or whom he might have spoken to in the State Department, but he says that if it is in the notes he doesn’t contest it.

At a follow-up meeting at Mr. Zarif’s home, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi met with many of the same people. Mr. Amirahmadi’s notes indicate that initially Mr. Kharrazi was not encouraging but finally said in response to a question:

“Yes! We are ready to normalize relations” with the US and prepared to discuss problems that exist between us, but for that to happen we must be able to trust the US and this requires some initial positive gestures in the part of Washington, particularly a change in tone.

In the months afterward, there were further discussions about how to proceed to nurture improved U.S.-Iranian relations. One proposal was for a conference at which each would publicly discuss normalization; another was for cooperation against Saddam Hussein. By all accounts, the State Department and National Security Council were fully briefed through this period, but different participants disagree about how much of a blessing the State Department gave the process. One participant said it had enough approval that it was in effect “track one-and-a-half,” while another participant said he didn’t see much Bush administration support at all. To add to the confusion, there were several track-two processes going on at the same time, and they were not all fully briefed on the others. Here is a memo that Mr. Amirahmadi wrote to himself in November 2002, incorporating his meeting notes and describing the events of that fall as he saw them.

When the Neo-cons killed the incipient peace process, they did so partly on the basis that Iran had been uncooperative on terrorism. At a meeting in Geneva on terrorism issues, Zalmay Khalilzad had told Ambassador Zarif that the U.S. had information of a forthcoming terror bombing in the Gulf area. Mr. Khalilzad reportedly asked Iran to interrogate Al Qaeda members in Iranian prisons for information about the incident. Iran apparently dropped the ball (it says it didn’t have enough information) and did not generate any useful intelligence, and the incident turned out to be a suicide truck bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 12, 2003.

As I wrote in my column, I’m not sure that the diplomacy would have led to a “grand bargain” — there would have been very tough negotiating ahead. But the Iranian proposal was promising and certainly should have been followed up. It seems diplomatic mismanagement of the highest order for the Bush administration to have rejected that process out of hand, and now to be instead beating the drums of war and considering air strikes on Iranian nuclear sites.

The moderate camp in Iran was discouraged and discredited when the U.S. rejected its “grand bargain” proposal. But there is still a chance that Iran’s May 2003 proposal could be revived as a basis for new talks that aim for normalizing U.S.-Iranian relations. And if there isn’t room for a “grand bargain,” there may at least be an opportunity for a mini-bargain. Condi Rice seems more willing to negotiate with Iran than other principals in the administration, so let’s hope she pursues this path.

I’d welcome your comments below on this episode in U.S.-Iranian relations.
Former Congressman Robert W. Ney Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Corruption Crimes
Such is the case with exports related to aircraft safety, or, as the Iranian Transactions Regulations put it:

§ 560.527 Rescheduling existing loans.
Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis for rescheduling loans or otherwise extending the maturities of existing loans, and for charging fees or interest at commercially reasonable rates, in connection therewith, provided that no new funds or credits are thereby transferred or extended to Iran or the Government of Iran.

§ 560.528 Aircraft safety.
Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis for the exportation and reexportation of goods, services, and technology to insure the safety of civil aviation and safe operation of U.S.-origin commercial passenger aircraft.
Iran, Iraq, China top list of U.S. enemies, poll says
BY: Associated Press, San Diego Union-Tribune
North Korea Drops Out of Top Three U.S. “Enemies”
by Lydia Saad

Iran topped the list, with 25 percent naming it when asked which country is the greatest U.S. enemy, according to the Gallup Poll. Iraq came next at 22 percent, then China with 14 percent.

Gallup first asked the question in early 2001, before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. At the time, Iraq was seen as the biggest foe, followed by China and Iran.

The United States itself was named as the United States’ fifth-worst enemy, cited by 3 percent. Tied for fifth place was Afghanistan. Pakistan and Russia were cited by 2 percent, and Venezuela by 1 percent. The poll was conducted from Feb. 11-14 and involved telephone interviews with 1,007 adults.

This video is a clear example of how devolutionary Iranian culture is. Occasional outbursts to incite chaos and avoid dialectical discussion on issues that are in exigency of vetting. The same bald guy who peevishly interrupts the conference is the same guy who if given a chance as an official would order mass genocide of half million of his own people. Anyone who has done a decent amount of research on Iran’s 2003 offer to open up channels of communication knows how neo-cons and…

… their agents pulled the plug on reformists and paved the away to hardliners. Adhering to the same old failed policy of containment is the prime reason behind a gradual deteriation of situation on both side of the fence. You don’t suffocate the regime by such tenet but rather fuel it. You rot the sanguinary elements by giving a voice to reformists, no matter how far their ideology may indeed be unsatisfactory to the ideal democaric goal we seek.
The Iranian Web of Influence in the United States
April 02, 2008
Hassan Daioleslam

The principal firm among these is Balli Group PLC based in London. Iranian brothers Vahid and Hassan Alaghband own the company. Balli owns a private bank and numerous major enterprises inside Iran with strong ties to the Iranian regime. It is well understood that no company can reach the Balli’s success and status in Iran without direct support of Mafia Dons inside the mullah’s circle of power. The ramifications of selling a few used aircrafts to Iran transcends beyond the criminal act of a few merchants circumventing international sanctions to make hundreds of millions of dollars. It is a symptom of the broadening of the Mullah’s web of influence in the US.

A year later, Ney’s Iranian advisor, Trita Parsi, became the president of an organization called the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). As I have explained in detail,8 Parsi and his Iran based partner Siamak Namazi, unmasked a roadmap in 1999 to create an Iranian lobby in the US to influence the Congress.

To this date, NIAC has not diverted a bit from the roadmap. Namizi, along with his father, brother and sister, are notorious proprietors of numerous key enterprises in Iran facilitating the mullahs’ financial and business affairs. The NIAC’s role in lobbying for relieving pressure off Tehran’s rulers, under the disguise of empowering Iranian-Americans, is now well exposed. Even the Iranian pro-government newspaper Aftab, described these activities as the “Iranian lobby” acting as the regime’s “unofficial diplomacy.”

Abbas Maleki, the Iranian deputy foreign minister under Rafsanjani, advisor to the Supreme Leader and one of the chief organizers of Iranian lobby in the US, was one of the key speakers. Hassan Alaghband from Balli group was another key speaker and one of the main supporters of the event. Namazi is certainly a known figure in the Mullah’s lobby machinery in the West. Following the trails from this meeting leads to the discovery of the broadening web of influence of mullahs in the US involving some new players and many of the familiar faces of the Mafia web. (

The Iranian lobby in the US is financially fed by sources that are conspicuously tangled with Tehran’s interests. One jaw dropping example: Vahid Alaghband (the elder brother) is a major donor (among very few) and an “ambassador and supporter extraordinaire” of US based Parsa foundation

US moves towards engaging Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
Mar 27, 2008

* Kissinger calls for unconditional talks with Iran

For the first time, Kissinger called for unconditional talks with Iran. That is a remarkable shift in his position. Kissinger used to maintain that the legacy of the hostage crisis during the Iranian revolution in 1979 and “the messianic aspect of the Iranian regime” represented huge obstacles to diplomacy, and combining with “Persian imperial tradition” and “contemporary Islamic fervor”, a collision with the US became almost unavoidable. Interestingly, Kissinger’s call was also echoed by Dennis Ross, who used to be a key negotiator in the Middle East, and carries much respect in Israel.

* Bush has backed away from previous sharply critical of regime in Tehran and mostly focused on reform that’s much needed in Iran but without mention of regime change. The only precondition mentioned was for Iranian to decided to cease the enrichment of Uranium.

Bush’s interviews with the government-supported Voice of America and Radio Farda, especially the latter, were a masterly piece in political overture. He held out none of the customary threats against Iran. This time, there was not even the trademark insistence that “all options are on the table”. There were no barbs aimed at President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Least of all, there were no calls for a regime change in Tehran. Bush simply said something that he might as well have said about Saudi Arabia or Egypt. As he put it, “So this is a regime and a society that’s got a long way to go [in reform].”

Bush spoke of the evolution of the Iranian regime’s character rather than its overthrow. The criticism, if any, of Iranian government policies approached nowhere near the diatribes of the past. There was none of the boastful claims that the US would work toward isolating Iran in its region and beyond. In fact, Bush acknowledged, “There’s a chance that the US and Iran can reconcile their differences, but the [Iranian] government is going to have to make different choices. And one [such choice] is to verifiably suspend the enrichment of uranium, at which time there is a way forward.”

* The U.S. employs divide and rule methodology — beefing up Sunni militias under shadow of rising against foreign fighters to undermine Shiit majorities/government down the road.

But after a recent visit to Iran, prominent US author and commentator Selig Harrison wrote in The Boston Globe newspaper, “Tehran is seething over what it sees as a new ‘divide and rule’ US strategy designed to make Iraq a permanent US protectorate”. He was referring to the current US strategy of building up rival Sunni militias – euphemistically called the “Sunni Awakening” – so as to fence in the Shi’ite-dominated government in Baghdad. The Sunni militias presently number some 90,000 US-equipped fighters, each paid $300 per month. But, as Harrison recounted his conversations in Iran, “The message was clear: Unless [US General David] Petraeus drastically cuts back the Sunni militias, Tehran will unleash the Shi’ite militias against US forces again.”

* Iran can surely stir up the Shiit’s unless the U.S. puts on the table an offer that would address Iran’s interests.

Sunday’s violence, conceivably, may be a harbinger of things to come unless the US accommodates Iranian interests. It may have displayed that Iran has the will and the capacity to remain the dominant influence in Iraq with or without a stable government in Baghdad and with or without US acquiescence.

Harrison sums up his impressions following talks with interlocutors in the Iranian government: “Iran and the US have a common interest in a stable Iraq … Before cooperating to stabilize Iraq, however, Iran wants assurances that the US will not use it as a base for covert action and military attacks against the Islamic Republic and will gradually phase out its combat troops. Cooperation will endure only if Washington lets the Shi’ites enforce the terms for the new ethnic equation in Iraq and, above all, if it recognizes Iran’s right by virtue of geography and history to have a bigger say in Iraq’s destiny than its other immediate neighbors, not to mention the faraway United States.”

* The Revolutionary Guard is consolidating its economic and political power and muscling reformists out of the scene. Even the Supreme leader now praises the president on nuclear issues and Rafsanjani realizing reformists are more likely to be disintegrated, has been talking to Ahmadinejad.

In effect, the “reformist’ coalition has become a spent force and is now likely to disintegrate. Already by end-February, Rafsanjani seems to have sensed this defeat of “black Shi’ism” by “red Shi’ism”. He quickly changed tack and made up with Ahmadinejad. The ultimate clincher, of course, was the extraordinary gesture of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to publicly voice support of Ahmadinejad. Addressing the powerful Assembly of Experts (headed by Rafsanjani) on February 26, Khamenei praised the role of Ahmadinejad for “great success” on the nuclear issue. Later in the evening on the same day, Rafsanjani visited Ahmadinejad.

* With hardliners solidifying their position in the country and running everyone out as a sole power house, does that mean the U.S. has no other choice to engage them or would stick to the containment strategy. At the same time,

The real issue now is whether the emboldened leadership in Tehran shares the Bush administration’s sense of urgency. It will carefully weigh its options. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced on Monday that Tehran “recently requested for membership” of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Ahmadinejad will be attending the SCO’s summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Meanwhile, Iran’s proposal to Russia to form a gas cartel is set to take off at a meeting of gas-producing countries in Moscow in June.

* Russia has interest in Iran to use the deals to expand its resource extraction from the Caspian Sea to counter U.S. hegomony in the Central Asia. In addition, the gas pipe that would rally Iran’s natural resources to Europe can be another pawn used to play against the U.S..

Tehran will surely estimate that Russia-US disputes are hard to settle; that Russia has major commercial interests in Iran; that Moscow needs Iran’s endorsement of a multinational arrangement to exploit the Caspian Sea’s energy resources.

Tehran remains on the lookout for a shift in the US stance on the Nabucco gas pipeline sourcing Iranian gas via Turkey for the European market. Last week, Switzerland’s Elektrizitaetshesellschaft Laufenburg signed a 25-year deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Company for the delivery of 5.5 billion cubic meters of Iranian gas annually. The agreement was signed during the visit of the Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey to Tehran.

The Nabucco pipeline is a planned natural gas pipeline that will transport natural gas from Turkey to Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. It will run from Erzurum in Turkey to Baumgarten an der March, a major natural gas hub in Austria. Some consider the pipeline as a diversion from the current methods of importing natural gas solely from Russia. The project is backed by the European Union. The 3,300 kilometre (2,050 mile) Nabucco pipeline will bring gas from the Caspian region, with much of its supplies coming from Azerbaijan.

Without Nabucco, the US strategy to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas supplies will remain a pipedream, and without Iranian gas, Nabucco itself makes little sense, while Nabucco will be Iran’s passport to integration with Europe.

“The Superpower Syndrome”:

In their mutual zealotry, Islamist and American leaders seem to act in concert. Each in its excess nurtures the apocalypticism of the other, resulting in a malignant synergy.”

inlukh, please. I just showed Khatami praising a notorious executioner and torturer Assadollah Lajevardi. I put the quote up for everyone to see. Khatami praised Hezbollah and called for Israel’s destruction. Khatami is just better at the duping the west game. Under Khatami, repression in Iran continued. I see you believe the Grand bargain hoax. Even Guldimann who brought the memo [it was his proposal, not Iran’s] acknowledged that Iran agreed to 85-90%, not a 100%.

Once again the evil hands of murderers martyred one [Assadollah Lajevardi, the notorious executioner] of the hard-working soldiers of
the Revolution and a servant of the people and the state. The
government of the Islamic Republic of Iran will use all its resources
to fight the wicked terrorists and calls on the intelligence and security
officials to identify vigilantly the perpetrators of this crime as soon
as possible to have them punished for their heinous deed.
-Mohammad Khatami

Inlukh, let me say more on the “grand bargain.” It’s propaganda spread by leftists and Tehran apologists, many of who believe the myth that the MEK is a terrorist cult. There was no sign that Iran was actually doing what Guldimann’s memo said they do. Iran still supported terrorism. I don’t think that Iran was going to end its support for terrorism or recognize Israel’s right to exist. The US bombed MEK bases in Iraq in exchange for Iran not to meddle in Iraq. But Iran meddled in Iraq anyway.

* Argh! You obviously shamelessly copied the excerpt from “The Myth of Moderation” article, by Mohammad Mohaddessin, a NCRI wing of MEK. I consider any publication materialized by these lunch sack puppets a tantamount to an Al Quaeda’s pamphlet aimed at recruiting in the impoverished region of Pakistan-Afghanistan border. You go skim over Rajavi’s garbage and yodel that you are somehow “informed”? *scoff* You are long away from McDonald’s homie.

Anyone who considers MEK a valid replacement for the current regime is a neophyte who is undeserved of any rational response. MEK is well known for their commingle of ultra-fundamentalism, cultism, and sadistic ideology. No wonder 99% of Iranians living in or out of the country vehemently oppose MEK’s nefarious agenda; if the choice was to come down between the current regime and MEK, unequivocally, people would go with the former. That should speak volume to their border line manic status quo.

And you somehow expect me to take a faceless blogger’s rant on face value when he apparently does not have an ensemble of rudimentary understanding of the subject? Dog, you barge in here, bare foot, start skiing on everyone’s piss while regurgitating such pabulum of sputum as an evidence to your misguided presumptions, all for what? Scoring points with your failed Muppet’s ideologue Zionists!

Then you parrot off of another blog entry of yours (“Take for MEK and NCRI off Terror List”) — posted on MEK website — where you cry foul over a preposterous accusation of American forces “bombing” MEK! Not to mention, the American forces, retroactively, have been permitting these goons to retain their compound for the last 6 years. Yet you sophomorically employ a panoply of intellectual somersault reasoning to deduce bizarre conclusions that they are somehow being prosecuted by the US!

Of course, considering the post being hosted on the MEK website, there should be no doubt over symbiotic sycophancy that is embraced by the parties involved. Lajevardi was a butcher, no question about it. However, it is apparent that your youth, inexperience, and bonafide zeal are impeding you from examining the events through the lens of objectivity.

You have to possess an in depth understanding of the inner working of the Iran’s current establishment to realize that such dialogue is simply a part of the regime’s “formality.” The very excerpt quoted was announced right after Lajevardi assassination” by the “MEK” members so Khatami was naturally to declare such assertive comeuppance for their arrest. You don’t expect a president of some country to stand by idle while his citizen, good or bad, be sprayed with bullets, do you?

In reality, Khatami was not involved in any of activities this individual was engaged in back in the 80’s nor he had, during his presidency, a significant jurisprudence authority over the deeds of the shadowy government that ran/runs the country. The role of the presidency in Iran is, in many respects, restrictive in nature compare to the overwhelming power house of compartmentalized cliques of mullahs influencing a range of decisions made for the country.

They called for his conviction over a handshake with two female foreigners for crying out loud. The only exception is when the ruling administration is directly attached to the sphere of influence (e.g. Rafsanjani), otherwise, the predominance, in actuality, is meagerly limited. You are simply purporting the usual guilt-by-association fallacy to garner sentimental support for your faulty assumptions.

In “retrospect,” Khatami’s candidacy, although it wasn’t a bed of roses nor a bastion of equity, was a “step in a right direction” — as oppose to many who came before or after him. Only a simpleton-minded cretin pipe dreams about an overnight transformation of country in which the underlying antecedent of turmoil stems from not a singular source but rather across the board garden variety of elements constantly shifting alliances to further their sphere of influence for personal aggrandizement.

And as for your declarative platter over Iran’s proposal being a “hoax,” after reading “The Myth Of A Generous Offer,” it becomes abundantly clear that the petulant kids like you are, somehow, trapped in their little myopic bubble of naivety, Googling a few inadequate articles, distorting facts while drawing absurd conclusions from the limited information gathered.

The events that led to the negotiation between Iran, intermediary parties, and the US, in 2002-2003, are fairly well documented; even many of the conservative think tanks have done analysis on the subject matter. You see, when I read through your hodgepodge of garble where you bounce around from a disjointed topic to the next, it becomes obvious that your crusade falls into such a vat of crazy, it is nearly impossible to comment on, namely…

a) this whole process was a hoax, which pretty much contradicts the successive allegations made by you or perhaps Benny boy is either a cerebral handicap or English is not his native language (my guess is the former)

b) Guldimann devised a “memo” (like the one that gets passed around in the work office) which defeats the entire established common sense that dictates a foreign minister of some odd country does not inscribe a game plan on behalf of another country (more on this later)

c) bloviating over lack of “100%” confirmation of entire “initial” negotiation terms, hence the tag “negotiation” (read: give and take)

d) requesting to expound on the topic of Grand Bargain then doing a 180 and dissenting whether MEK is or is not a cult sect (indication of incoherency in thought processing)

e) extrapolating on hypothetical arguments while ignoring the reality of the situation that since the arbitration did not take place in the first place, neither of the parties has a fiduciary obligation to adhere to the proposed terms (can you say DUHHHH!)

The entire sophistry of your mishmash suffers from the misrepresentation of a few piecemeal documents that you poorly comprehended in the first place, resorting to partial promulgation of evidence, forgoing an array of vital facts that can be easily verified while rewriting the original clauses by fabricating false assertions.

Let me bring you up to speed: the proposal was indeed whipped up by the nephew of Kharrazi, then foreign minister of Iran, “after” a few rounds of mid-level mitigation which, to your own admission, received a seal of approval by the highest authoritative figures in the foreign relation policies. The ambassador Guldimann simply attached a “cover letter” to summarize the proposal as a “roadmap” in which he explicitly mentions Khatami and Kharrazi were present to verify “every word of this paper.”

He was then asked to find a channel to remit the proposal to the high ranking official in DoS and the White House (e.g. Bob Ney) who he ultimately, after faxing the proposal, delivered it personally to the State Department. Your brouhaha over 100% inclusiveness of the proposal is brash because, first of all, it was a subsequential reaction from Tehran at the “initial” roadmap BEFORE a composition of the proposal, and second, no negotiation is achieved with the total assent of all parties.

I highly suggest examining professor Amirahmadi’s notes who was, for most part, present in all the meetings involving the conferring parties. Then spend some time reading over Parsi’s papers who has diligently documented the details of the Bush administration’s reaction and ultimate rejection of the presented opportunity to advance yet another failed neo-conservative agenda.

Your little dalliance into the complex political sphere of Iran is risible and criminally uneducated. You have clearly illustrated your lack of ability to see a bigger picture while merely pandering to one’s confirmation bias by nit picking the pednatic. There are literally 100’s of schoraly analysis on this topic and I am not going to spoon feed you. Spend a year study the subject then bother responding.

You are terribly outmatched and out of your element and it shows. In either case, it would be in everyone’s best interest if you stop pompously brand yourself as “an expert on the Middle east, radical Islam, Israel, Iran and Iran’s democratic opposition.” Pfft! You have a long way to go in life kiddo. So go, go, and keep going… bye.

P.S. Next time when you plan to response, do us a favor and stop copy/pasting the exact words out of your own “psedu-articles.” It mandates desperation.
P.P.S. Do some grammar and spell check before submitting an article. Good grief, you are bleeding all over place.
P.P.P.S. Your style of writing is trite and repititive rather than espousing a fusion of new ideas backed by concrete evidence.
P.P.P.P.S. Casual inference — stop utilizing that fallacy in your writings.

# #
# Iran and Iraq #
# #
Iran’s Contribution to the Civil War in Iraq

While the press debates whether or not there is a civil war in Iraq, there is a strong history
of Iranian-sponsored unrest in Iraq that continues to the present. Captured Iraqi
intelligence documents, now maintained by the Foreign Military Studies Office, show Iran’s deep
penetration in Iraqi society and institutions. Iran clandestinely supported the U.S. invasion of
Iraq and took measures to turn it to her advantage.

The Iranian government maintained armed formations, such as the Badr Corps, inside Iraq
prior to the U.S. invasion. While Saddam Hussein felt that he could dissuade a U.S. invasion
through world opinion and the United Nations, Iran anticipated and welcomed the U.S. invasion
since it would destroy her chief enemy in the region.

Iran has now moved covertly and overtly onto Iraq to subvert Iraqi institutions and eventually
to assume total control. Iran has now entered a wider and more dangerous game by subverting
the Iraqi police and armed forces into a “greater Shia” cause, which Iran hopes will lead to the
fragmentation of Iraq and the inoration of oil–rich Shia lands into Iran.
Iran’s Involvement in Iraq by Lionel Beehner and Greg Bruno, Staff Writer

Updated: March 3, 2008

Iran has sent more than two thousand religious students and scholars to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. One-third of them belong to Iranian intelligence (PDF) and some are operatives sent to Shiite shrines to influence voters ahead of elections, writes Mounir Elkhamri, a military analyst for the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Iran has emerged as one of Iraq’s largest trading partners, with Iranian exports to Iraq topping $1.8 billion (PDF) in 2006, according to the Iranian Custom Administration, up from $800 million in 2004.

A free-trade zone in southern Iraq has brought a surge of Iranian goods into shops in Basra, including kerosene and cooking gas. Anoushiravan Ehteshami, a professor of international relations at Britain’s University of Durham, says southern Iraq is the only place outside of Iran where Iranian currency—the rial—is used. “That demonstrates Tehran’s economic influence on its neighbor,”

Ehteshami told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Iran is constructing a highway to link Basra with Iranian commercial centers across the border. Tehran also plans to build a branch of its national bank in Baghdad and provide assistance for Iraq’s economic reconstruction, according to Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq.
Iran and Iraq The Shia Connection, Soft Power, and the Nuclear Factor

Although alleged Iranian support for some insurgent actions appears to contradict its open stance of supporting legitimate Shiite-backed political groups, such activity highlights broader Iranian intentions of covering all its bases in Iraq in the event of a serious downturn in relations with both the United States and a future Iraqi government.

Most of all, Iran does not want to see a new threat from Iraq re-emerge. The threat could be manifested in a number of ways: by a Shiite-Sunni civil war, the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, the establishment of a rival Shiite clerical government, or the establishment of a united government that is closely allied with the United States.

What Mullah’s Want

Tehran’s mullahs have shown anxiety about a strong, pro-Western government in Baghdad that could offer permanent basing rights to U.S. forces and perhaps even have relations with Israel. But the conservative mullahs are also concerned, although more ambivalent, about the emergence of a strong Shiite-dominated clerical government in Baghdad.

The complexities of the Shiite religion suggest that there would be rivalry between the clerical establishments, with Iraq’s powerful religious centers of Najaf and Karbala eventually providing alternative sources of theological discourses to Qom, the religious center of Iran; yet this could be the case even without a clerical government in Baghdad. What Iran would prefer to see ideally in Iraq is a friendly neighbor that presents no discernable threat to its clerical regime either militarily or politically.

Iran has supported the efforts of Sistani, viewing him as an integral part of maintaining stability in Iraq. As time progresses, though, and the potential for Sistani to rival Iran for leadership of the Shiite religious world grows, Iran’s stance may shift.

Iran and Fear of Talibanization of Pakistan

During this period, Iranian officials’ greatest fear was that Pakistan’s leadership would eventually become “Talibanized”—if, for example, the Musharraf government were overthrown by younger, more radical military officers sympathetic to the Taliban and its philosophy—and that they would face an extremist Sunni regime with nuclear weapons on Iran’s border.
Iran in Iraq: How Much Influence?

21 March 2005

Shiit Group Won in Election with Iranian Backing

More recently, the triumph in the January 2005 elections for Iraq’s transitional national assembly of the Shiite-based United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) and, in particular, of three parties within it with long-standing ties to the Iranian regime — the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Al-Da’wa and Al-Da’wa – Tanzim al-Iraq — appeared to vindicate the views of those who suspect an Iranian effort to install a loyal, theocratic government.

Evidence for Meddling?

In fact, there is no indication that Iranian electoral manipulation is anything more than speculation or that the Shiites’ victory was anything other than the political translation of their demographic predominance. Nor has any concrete evidence been presented to bolster the claim that Iran is either actively promoting the insurgency or seeking to maximise instability.

Iran’s Goal

Tehran’s priority is to prevent Iraq from re-emerging as a threat, whether of a military, political or ideological nature, and whether deriving from its failure (its collapse into civil war or the emergence of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan with huge implications for Iran’s disaffected Kurdish minority) or success (its consolidation as an alternative democratic or religious model appealing to Iran’s disaffected citizens).

Iran consequently is intent on preserving Iraq’s territorial integrity, avoiding all-out instability, encouraging a Shiite-dominated, friendly government, and, importantly, keeping the U.S. preoccupied and at bay. This has entailed a complex three-pronged strategy:

encouraging electoral democracy (as a means of producing Shiite rule)
promoting a degree of chaos but of a manageable kind (in order to generate protracted but controllable disorder)
investing in a wide array of diverse, often competing Iraqi actors (to minimise risks in any conceivable outcome).

# #
# Iran Nuclear Program #
# #

Iran’s Nuclear Program

6-part series by Muhammad Sahimi published in Payvand

Part I: Its History, 02 October 2003

Part II: Are Nuclear Reactors Necessary?, 03 October 2003

Part III: The Emerging Crisis, 06 October 2003

Part IV: Economic Analysis of the Program, 07 December 2004

Part V: From the United States Offering Iran Uranium Enrichment Technology to Suggestions for Creating Catastrophic Industrial Failure, 22 December 2004

Part VI: The European Union’s Proposal, Iran’s Defiance, and the Emerging Crisis, 09 September 2005
Part I: Its History

On February 9, 2003, Iran’s program and efforts for building sophisticated facilities at Natanz and and several other cities that would eventually produce enriched uranium were revealed. President Mohammad Khatami announced the existence of the Natanz (and other) facilities on Iran’s television and invited the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit them. Then, in late February, Dr. Mohammad El Baradei, the head of IAEA, accompanied by a team of inspectors, visited Iran. Since then, the IAEA’s experts and inspectors have visited Iran several more times. A preliminary report was published in July, with a follow up report on August 26. On September 12, 2003, the IAEA gave Iran an ultimatum to reveal all the details of its nuclear activities by October 31, 2003.

Iran’s nuclear program and activities, though discussed for many years, have come into sharp focus since the February announcement. The information and data that have been obtained by the IAEA, after visiting the Natanz facility and a few other locations, have surprised the United States, the European Union, Russia, and Japan. Similar to the Clinton administration, the Bush administrtation has been suspicious of Iran’s nuclear program, arguing that, having vast oil and natural gas reserves, Iran hardly needs nuclear energy. Hence, the Bush administration argues that the primary purpose of Iran’s nuclear program is developing nuclear weapons. The EU, which is negotiating with Iran extensive economic and cultural agreements; Russia, which is completing construction of nuclear reactors in Bushehr and hoping to build many more reactors in Iran, and Japan, which is hoping to sign a lucrative oil agreement with Iran for developing Iran’s huge Azaadegaan oil field (the largest oil field in the Middle East), have all pressed Iran hard, demanding that it reveal all the secret details of its nuclear program and facilities.

Note that, according to the original IAEA safeguard agreements, Iran did not have to declare the start of construction of the Natanz facility. These agreements stipulate that, only 180 days before introducing any nuclear material, does Iran have to declare the existence of the facility. Therefore, construction of the undeclared Natanz facility was NOT illegal. In addition, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) allows Iran to legally build any nuclear facility, including one for uranium enrichment, so long as it is intended for peaceful purposes. Moreover, the NPT allows the member states to withdraw from the agreement, subject to giving a 90 days notice to the IAEA, if they believe that abiding by the terms of the NPT threatens their national security (in the language of the NPT, if it is in their “Supreme Interest”).

Aside from the political confrontation that the revelations about Iran’s nuclear program have created between Iran on one hand, and the US and her allies on the other hand, the questions that I believe we Iranians must ask and debate, are: Does Iran need nuclear energy, and is acquiring it in its national interests? Before starting to debate these all-important questions, however, we must first decouple Iran’s need for nuclear energy from its alleged or real intentions for producing nuclear weapons.

This article represents the first of a three-part series in which these two important questions are discussed, and Iran’s nuclear program is described and analyzed in detail. In the present article, the history of Iran’s program for nuclear research and development is reviewed. The significance of this review is twofold. (1) History shows that the US and her allies were in fact the driving force behind the birth of Iran’s nuclear program in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (2) It is also particularly important to recognize that since the late 1980s, when Iran restarted its nuclear program, the US and her allies have been given every opportunity to participate in the development and construction of nuclear reactors in Iran, which would have provided them with significant control on the reactors and their products, but that they have always refused to do so.

Although various portions of Part I (the present article) have been published before, it may be useful to put all the pieces together in order to present a cohesive and brief review of the historty of Iran’s nuclear program, and to make it available through an easily-accesible web site. In this author’s opinion, this may be particularly useful for the young generation of Iranians who may be interested in this history, and the important role that the US played in the birth of Iran’s nuclear program.

Part II will discuss why Iran must stop relying almost exclusively on oil and gas as her sole sources of energy, and start developing alternative sources, the most advanced of which are nuclear reactors. There are compelling economical, social, and environmental reasons for seeking alternative sources of energy for Iran, which will be described in detail in Part II.

Part III will describe, in simple terms, how violations of the NPT are detected, and what the major issues are at the center of the dispute between Iran and the IAEA. The dispute – some call it a crisis – is in fact mostly between Iran on one hand, and the US and some of her allies on the other hand, with the IAEA being used as a tool in a political battle.

Before embarking on this task, we must recognize that the development of adequate energy resources is a highly important part of the national interests of every nation which, by their very definition, transcend the political system that governs a nation. Both Democratic and Replublican administrations in the US, and their allies, such as Britain, have waged wars, invaded and occupied oil-producing countries, and engineered coups to overthrow the legal, often democratically-elected, governments of oil-producing countries in order to control the world’s oil reserves. They have always justified their deed solely based on protecting their national interests and national security. We only need to recall what happened in Iran in 1953, after Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh nationalized Iran’s oil industry, and the recent invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US and Britain, to understand this. The same principles are also applicable to Iran, namely, that she has a fundamental right for securing adequate energy resources – the engine for her development and advancement.

Iran’s foray into nuclear research and development began in the mid 1960s under the auspices of the US within the framework of bilateral agreements between the two countries. The first significant nuclear facility built by the Shah was the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC), founded in 1967, housed at Tehran University, and run by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). This Center has always been one of Iran’s primary open nuclear research facilities. It has a safeguarded 5-megawatt nuclear research reactor that was supplied by the US in 1967. The reactor can produce up to 600 grams of plutonium per year in its spent fuel.

Iran signed the NPT on July 1, 1968. After the Treaty was ratified by the Majles, it went into effect on March 5, 1970. In the language of Article IV of the Treaty, the NPT recognized Iran’s “inalienable right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful proposes without discrimination, and acquire equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information.” The events of the early 1970s were, however, instrumental in shaping and accelerating the development of Iran’s nuclear program. The 1973 war between the Arab countries and Israel, and the subsequent huge increase in the price of oil, provided the Shah’s government with considerable resources for Iran’s development. At that time, a study by the influential Stanford Research Institute concluded that Iran would need, by the year 1990, an electrical capacity of about 20,000-megawatt.

According to declassified confidential US Government documents posted on the Digital National Security Archive (see the article, “The US-Iran Nuclear Dispute: Dr Mohamed El Baradei’s Mission Possible to Iran,” by Drs. A. Etemad and N. Meshkati, published on July 13, 2003, in the Iran News), in the mid-1970s, the US encouraged Iran to expand her non-oil energy base, suggested to the Shah that Iran needed not one but SEVERAL nuclear reactors to acquire the electrical capacity that the Stanford Research Institute had proposed, and expressed interest in the US companies participating in Iran’s nuclear energy projects. Building these reactors, and selling the weapons that the Shah was procuring from the US in the 1970s, were, of course, a good way for the US to recover the cost of the oil that she was buying from Iran.

Since the Shah never read or heard an American proposal that he did not like, he started an ambitious program for building many (presumably as many as TWENTY THREE) nuclear reactors. Hence, his government awarded a contract to Kraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens) of (West) Germany to construct two Siemens 1,200-megawatt nuclear reactors at Bushehr. The work for doing so began in 1974. In 1975, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology signed a contract with the AEOI for providing training for the first cadre of Iranian nuclear engineers, and the Iranian-Indian nuclear cooperation treaty was also signed (India is now a nuclear power). In addition, the Nuclear Technology Center at Esfahan (Isfahan) was founded in the mid-1970s with the French assistance in order to provide training for the personnel that would be working with the Bushehr reactors. The Esfahan Center currently operates four small nuclear research reactors, all supplied by China.

According to the same declassified document mentioned above, in an address to the symposium, “The US and Iran, An Increasing Partnership,” held in October 1977, Mr. Sydney Sober, a representative of the US State Department, declared that the Shah’s government was going to purchase EIGHT nuclear reactors from the US for generating electricity. On July 10, 1978, only seven months before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the final draft of the US-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement was signed. The agreement was supposed to facilitate cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and to govern the export and transfer of equipment and material to Iran’s nuclear energy program. Iran was also to receive American technology and help in searching for uranium deposits.

The Shah’s government had also envisioned building two nuclear reactors and a power plant in Darkhovin, on the Karoon River, south of the city of Ahvaz. Iran signed, in 1974, a contract with the French company Framatome to build two 950 megawatt pressurized reactors at that site. Framatome did survey the area and began site preparation. However, construction had not yet started when the government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan cancelled the contract after the Islamic revolution in 1979. In 1992, Iran signed an agreement with China for building the reactors in Darkhovin, but the terms of the agreement have not yet been carried out by China. Given the proximity of the site to the border with Iraq, it is probably not prudent to proceed with that project at that particular site.

The Shah’s government also obtained uranium materials from South Africa in the 1970s. According to Dr. Akbar Etemad, who was the founder and first President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran from 1974 to 1978, the TNRC carried out experiments in which plutonium was extracted from spent fuel using chemical agents (see, A. Etemad, “Iran,” in, “European Non-Proliferation Policy,” edited by H. Mueller, Oxford University Press, 1987, page 9). Note that the only use for plutonium is in a nuclear bomb. It is also believed that the Shah assembled at the TNRC a nuclear weapon design team. Asadollah Alam, the long-time Imperial Court Minister and the Shah’s close confidant, wrote in his memoires that the Shah had envisioned Iran having nuclear weapons.

In February 1979, when the Islamic Revolution toppled the Shah’s government, the Bushehr-1 (that is, reactor 1) was 90% complete and 60% of its equipment had been installed, while Bushehr-2 was 50% complete. Had the 1979 Revolution not happened, the Kraftwerk Union would have continued its work in all likelihood with the cooperation of the US corporation Bechtel Power, which was its joint-venture partner in many power plant projects around the world. The government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan then decided that Iran did not need nuclear energy, and therefore the work at Bushehr was halted after the victory of the Revolution in February 1979. The German firm had left Iran earlier, anyway.

During its war with Iran, Iraq bombed the Bushehr site six times (in March 1984, February 1985, March 1985, July 1986, and twice in November 1987), which destroyed the entire core area of both reactors. According to officials of Technischer Ueberwachungsverein, Germany’s National Reactor Inspectorate, before the bombings, Bushehr-1 could have been completed in about three years. Note, however, that, at the time of the bombings, none of the main equipments had been installed, and in fact two steam generators (that use the heat from the reactors to produce steam to be used in power generators) were stored in Italy, while the pressure vessel for Bushehr-1 was stored in Germany.

The Revolution and its aftermath, and the eight-year war with Iraq which resulted in colossal damage to Iran’s infrastructure, reduced temporarily Iran’s thirst for electricity. After the war with Iraq ended, however, Iran began to rethink her position regarding nuclear energy and technology, although it would not be unreasonable to believe that Iraq’s savage bombing of Iran’s main population and industrial centers, and the missile attacks that it carried out against Tehran during 1986-1987, also motivated Iran’s leaders to think about nuclear technology. The first reconstruction and development plan proposed and carried out by President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s government, coupled with Iran’s chronic shortage of electricity that went back to the early 1970s, and the rapid growth of her population, were three major reasons for Iran to restart her neclear program for obtaining electricity.

Rafsanjani’s government first approached Kraftwerk Union to complete the Bushehr project. However, under the US pressure, Kraftwerk Union refused. Iran then asked Germany to allow Kraftwerk to ship the reactor components and technical documentation that it had paid for, citing a 1982 International Commerce Commission (ICC) ruling under which Siemens was obligated to deliver all plant materials and components stored outside Iran, but the German government still refused to do so. In response, Iran filed a lawsuit in August 1996 with the ICC, asking for $5.4 billion in compensation for Germany’s failure to comply with the 1982 ruling. The issue is still unsettled.

In the late 1980s, a consortium of companies from Argentina, Germany and Spain submitted a proposal to Iran to complete the Bushehr-1 reactor, but huge pressure by the US stopped the deal. The US pressure also stopped in 1990 Spain’s National Institute of Industry and Nuclear Equipment to complete the Bushehr project. Iran also tried, unsuccessfully, to procure components for the Bushehr reactors, but her attempts were blunted by the US. For example, in 1993, Iran tried to acquire eight steam condensers, built by the Italian firm Ansaldo under the Kraftwerk Union contract, but they were seized by the Italian government. The Czech firm Skoda Plzen also discussed supplying reactor components to Iran, but, under the US pressure, negotiations were cancelled in 1994. Iran was also not successful in her attempt to buy nuclear power reactor components from an unfinished reactor of Polland.

After years of searching in the West for a supplier to complete her first nuclear power plant, Iran turned to the Soviet Union and then Russia. She signed, in March 1990, her first protocol on the Bushehr project with the Soviet Union. The agreement called on Moscow to complete the Bushehr project and build additional two reactors in Iran, but financial problems delayed the deal.

China, in 1991, provided Iran with uranium hexafluoride (a uranium compound, which is gaseous state, and used for enriching uranium; see Part III) which is, however, under the IAEA safeguard. In addition, Iran recently acknowleged that she also received (again in 1991) from China 1,000 kgr of natural uranium hexafluoride, 400 kgr of uranium tetrafluoride, and 400 kgr of uranium dioxide, without reporting them to the IAEA. Although the amount of the (until-recently undeclared) uranium compounds is small, what has been done with them is more indicative of the real intentions behind obtaining the materials. In 1993, the AEOI and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy signed an agreement for the construction of two Russian reactors at Bushehr, but the contract was never carried out as Iran was facing major financial problems.

Finally, Iran signed, in January 1995, a contract with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy to finish the reactors at Bushehr. These reactors will be under the IAEA safeguards, and will be capable of producing up to 180 kgr/year of plutonium in their spent fuel. The agreement called for Russia to complete the first reactor at Bushehr within four years, although it is still unfinished; to provide a 30-50 megawatt thermal light-water research reactor, 2,000 tons of natural uranium, and training for about 15 Iranian nuclear scientists per year. Iran and Russia also agreed to discuss the construction of a gas centrifuge uranium-enrichment facility in Iran. However, in May 1995, the US announced that it had convinced Russia to cancel the centrifuge agreement, although Russia later denied that the agreement with Iran ever existed! The light-water research reactor deal has also been cancelled.

After the 1995 agreement was signed by Iran and Russia, the Clinton administration tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Russia to cancel the agreement, but its entreaties were rebuffed by Russia which saw the Bushehr project as an openning for her ailing nuclear industry to get itself into the international market. Having failed in its attempts, the Clinton administration then began charging that the plutonium that the reactors would produce would be used by Iran for making nuclear weapons. However, this issue is also being addressed by Iran and Russia, since they are negotiating an agreement by which the nuclear wastes from the Bushehr reactors would be returned to Russia which has a large facility for storing the wastes in southern Siberia (although Russian environmental laws appear to forbid storing nuclear wastes of another country in Russia), but no agreement has been reached yet. It was reported recently that Iran has demanded payments for returning the spent fuel to Russia, contending that she pays to buy the fuel from Russia in the first place, and therefore she should also be paid for the spent fuel. If ture, this would be an absurd demand, because if Russia is to pay for Iran’s nuclear wastes, she should also be paid for keeping Iran’s nuclear wastes! The issue of who should pay whom appears to be the only obstacle to reaching an agreement between Iran and Russia concerning the nuclear wastes.

After it appeared that the plutonium issue would be addressed by Russia, the US, under huge pressure by Israel, began claiming that, while the Bushehr reactors cannot be directly used for making nuclear weapons, they will train a generation of Iranian scientists and engineers for operating the reactor, which in turn will prepare Iran for making nuclear weapons. Is there any merit to this charge? Having a nuclear reactor is NOT necessary for obtaining the necessary know-how for developing a nuclear bomb (although it certainly helps). The best example is provided by Iraq. Israel bombed and destroyed Iraq’s only nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, before it started operating, yet when its nuclear weapon program was discovered after the 1991 Gulf war, Iraq was only months away from making a nuclear bomb!

Most experts believe that the completion of the Bushehr project by Russia is a highly complex task: As mentioned earlier, the Kraftwerk Union has not provided any technical documents to either Iran or Russia. Since Russia plans to install a reactor, her engineers must modify what Kraftwerk Union had left behind to accomodate the Russian reactor and its support system, which differ in many significant ways from the German reactor. For example, the structure of the steam generators in the Russian reactors is significantly different from the original German reactors. The reactor is supposed to start operating in early 2004.

In addition to the what has been described so far, Iran does have a few other nuclear facilities. One is the Bonaab Atomic Energy Research Center (which is south of city of Tabriz), which is a research center for applications of nuclear technology in agriculture. In addition, Center for Agricultural Research and Nuclear Medicine at Karaj (near Tehran) was inaugurated on in May 1991, and is run by the AEOI. None of these is, however, considered to be for military applications.

This concludes the review of the history of Iran’s nuclear program. The review reveals three important facts:

(1) Nuclear research, facilities, and reactors, and even the vision for Iran having nuclear weapons, were all conceived and initiated by the Shah and his government, with the direct assistance and encouragement by the US and her allies. This is very much similar to what happened in Israel, which developed her arsenal of nuclear weapons with the direct help of the US and France. They were not conceived or initiated after the Revolution. In fact, for the first few years after the Revolution, Iran rejected nuclear reactors!

(2) It is clear that the US and her allies have had many opportunities to complete the Bushehr project, or to participate in the construction of other nuclear reactors, and, hence, to have significant control on the reactors, but they have always refused to take part.

(3) In addition, the US and her allies could have participated in the Bushehr project by helping Iran improve the safety of the reactors there and, hence, have influence on their operations. As pointed out by Drs. Etemad and Meshkati (see their article cited earlier), there is good precedence for this: The Temelin nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic, the construction of which began during the Soviet Union, when the former communist government was in power in Czechoslovakia, but was halted in 1992. In 1994, with a $317 million loan guarantee from the United States Export-Import Bank, an American company, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, participated in completing the Temelin’s reactors.

Hence, there is no way of avoiding the conclusion that the real goal of the United States is dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, regardless of its orientation, and to despatch Iran to the era of nuclear, scientific and technological illiteracy, which is in violation of the letter and spirit of the NPT.

Part II of this series will discuss why Iran must stop relying exclusively on oil and gas, and develop alternative sources of energy, and in particular nuclear energy.

Original URL:

back to top

Part II: Are Nuclear Reactors Necessary?

In the present article, Part II of a three-part series, the need for building nuclear reactors in Iran is analyzed. As was pointed out in Part I, in the opinion of this author, the questions that we Iranians must ask and debate, are: Does Iran need nuclear energy, and is acquiring it in her national interests? It was also pointed out that one must decouple Iran’s need for nuclear energy which, as argued in this article, is completely legitimate on economical, social, and environmental grounds, from her alleged or real intentions for producing nuclear weapons.

Recall that the main argument of the United States against nuclear energy for Iran is that, Iran has vast oil and gas reserves, and hence she needs no nuclear reactor. This argument is, in general, not necessarily valid. Many countries that are rich in fossil energy resources, including Britain and Russia (both oil exporters), rely on nuclear power for a significant portion of their energy needs, while Germany, France, Japan, and many other countries, which have no oil or natural gas reserves, have not abandoned nuclear power in favor of more imported oil and gas, even though they can certainly afford this. There are currently 1118 nuclear reactors in the world of which 280 are for nuclear research, while another 400 are used in ships and submarines for producing power. The remaining 438 nuclear reactors are used for generating electricity, of which 104 are in the US, 59 in France, 53 in Japan, 29 in Russia, and 19 are in Germany. Between 1974, when Iran signed her first agreement for building nuclear reactors, and 2000, use of nuclear reactors for generating electricity has increased by a factor of 12!

In the particular case of Iran, the US argument that Iran needs no nuclear energy has no validity at all. While it is true that Iran does have vast oil and gas reserves, she also needs alternative energy sources. I argue that Iran’s needs for such alternatives are glaring and indisputable, and I base my arguments on economical, social, and environmental considerations.

We first, however, consider the case for alternative sources of energy on general grounds:

Most of the world’s major oil exporters, such as Iran, are developing nations. Thus, these countries must confront the challenge of their demographic explosion without possessing many of the necessary tools, which are strong state structures, rapidly-growing economies, large amounts of investment capitals, numerous entrepreneurs, engineers and inventors, and infrastructres that are reasonably advanced. In fact, we live in a world in which technology and capital are in the countries that are energy-hungry – those that have no major oil reserves of their own (for example, Germany, France, and Japan) or have at best indeaquate sources (for example, the US) – whereas the population growth and social and political turbulence are in the developing countries that are major oil producers (such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Iraq, etc.).

At the same time, oil is a non-renewable national wealth of Iran (and other oil exporters). Once it is produced and exported, it can never be regenerated. One cannot expect Iran (and other oil-exporting countries) to deplete her non-renewable national wealth recklessly, without receiving any lasting products or benefits in return, but this will happen if Iran’s sources for energy are not diversified, and she continues to rely almost exclusively on oil and gas for everything from the only source of energy to her annual budget. Except for Norway, every major oil exporter (including Russia) relies heavily on its revenue from oil sales, so much so that if the oil price stays too low for too long, we may have social instability and even revolution in these countries. What would happen to these countries if all of their recoverable oil and gas are rapidly depleted over a few decades, which would be the case if they rely on oil and gas for everything from their annual budget to energy sources?

In addition, a set of practical issues, which are important to the industrialized nations (notably in the Western hemisphere), must be addressed: What would happen to the West’s huge chemical industry that uses oil- and gas-derived materials for its production and is an important source of jobs, if the world’s oil and gas reserves are depleted too quickly? What would be the fate of the German plastic factories and the US polymer producers (plastics and polymers are some of the most heavily used materials in the world) that get their raw materials from the same source, and to the enormous petrochemical complexes around the world, if oil and gas resources are quickly depleted? Is it not better to develop alternative sources of energy, and use oil and gas more slowly and in more useful ways, by producing oil- and gas-derived materials and products that have much added values? If the answer to this question is yes, then why can Iran not use this argument?

Next, consider the case for alternative energy sources from an economical view point:

Iran’s 60 major oil fields are mostly old, with some being depleted altogether. From 1979 until 1997 no major investment was made in Iran’s oil industry. A study in 1998 concluded that, out of the 60 oil fields, 57 of them need major technical studies, repairs, upgrading, and repressurizing which would require, over a 15 year period, $40 billion! Although, since 1997, Iran has had considerable success in attracting foreign capital for its offshore oil and gas reserves, it is still far behind other oil exporting countries of the Middle East in terms of developing her fossil energy resources. Iran has not even been able to increase her oil production to the pre-Revolution level of 5.5 million barrels/day. If Iran cannot upgrade her oil facilities and industry on a timely manner, it will lose her market share. While there is no doubt that the solution to the urgent problem of upgrading Iran’s oil industry is partly political, lack of any solution will have deep implications for Iran’s future, which are discussed shortly.

At the same time, since early 1990s, Iran’s consumption of oil has been increasing at an alarming rate of 8% per year, and her total energy consumption has increased from 1.6 quadrillion Btu (quads) in 1980 to more than 5.5 quads at present – an increase of more than 280%. If this trend continues, Iran will become a net oil importer by 2010, a gigantic catastrophe for a country which relies on oil for 80% of her foreign currency and 45% of her total annual budget. If that happens, how will Iran be able to feed her population, estimated to reach 100 million by 2025, and also spend on her development and national security? The fact is that, despite considerable efforts over the past 30 years, Iran’s industrial output, aside from her oil industry, accounts for only 15% of her gross domestic product.

In one of the rare occasions that he said something profound, the Shah once stated that a barrel of oil is too precious (he used the word “sharif” in Persian to describe oil) to be used for generating electricity. Paraphrasing him, I would say that a million cubic feet of gas is too precious to burn; natural gas should be used for generating huge amounts of petrochemical products with much added values, which is precisely what Iran has been trying to do: Iran curently produces about $2.7 billion/year worth of petrochemical products. At the same time, in 40-50 years, when oil will no longer be the major source of energy and will be replaced by gas, Iran (the gas reserves of which will last for at least 200 years) will be in an excellent position to be the main supplier to Asia and Europe. Therefore, why should Iran use her hard-earned oil and gas for generating electricity, if she can develop alternative sources of energy?

Looking at this issue from another angle, it is estimated that Iran’s known uranium ore reserves can produce as much electricity as 45 BILLION barrels of oil. This is a huge amount by any criterion, but particularly so if we only recall that Iran’s known oil reserves are currently estimated to be about 96 billion barrels. In other words, if we can extract all of Iran’s known oil reserves (a remote possibility!) and use about half of them just for producing electricity, we will generate as much electricity as what Iran’s presently-known uranium deposits can produce! It would therefore be absolutely foolish not to do this!

Consider this problem from a third angle: Iran’s present installed electrical capacity is more than the 20,000 megawatt that had been predicted for 1990. However, Iran’s annual growth in demand for electricity is 5-8%. Hence, it is estimated that, by the year 2010, Iran will need another 7,000-megawatt of electricity which, ignoring all other factors (see above and below), and even under the best possible circumstances, namely, immediate lifting of the US sanctions against Iran and flow of vast investment capital into Iran’s oil and gas industry, cannot be produced by oil and gas alone. Therefore, the question is: What is Iran supposed to do?

One of the main arguments that some of the experts on nuclear weapons present against Iran having nuclear energy is that, it is not economical for Iran to generate electricity using nuclear reactors, because she has vast gas reserves which can be used for producing electricity. To support their arguments, these experts usually cite studies that estimate that the cost to finish the Bushehr nuclear reactors will be $1,000 per installed kilowatt, while the electricity from natural gas-fired power plants costs $600-800 per kilowatt. However, such arguments are not valid. In addition to the necessity of,

(1) using the gas for producing petrochemical products with much added values (see above);

(2) preserving much of Iran’s gas reserves for her future generations and to position Iran in 40-50 years as the main supplier of energy to Europe and Asia, and

(3) avoiding the severe adverse effect of burning gas and the resulting carbon emission which is the major culprit in global warming and the greenhouse effect (see below),

the above estimates are simply wrong, because they do not take into account the huge costs of the medical care for people who suffer from the diseases caused by pollution of the environment by oil and gas, as well as the damage to nature caused by carbon emission and the resulting global warming.

In 1990, in a seminar at Gustave E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies of the University of California in Los Angeles (the complete content of that seminar was published later; see, M. Sahimi, “How Much do We Pay for a Barrel of Oil?” in, “Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Non-Renewable Energy Sources,” Tehran, Iran, December 1993; see also, M. Sahimi, “Factors Affecting the Development of Fossil Energy Resources of Developing Countries,” in, “United States-Third World Relations in the New World Order,” edited by A.P. Grammy and C.K. Bragg, Nova Science Publishers, New York, 1996, page 361), this author stated that:

“Typical estimates for the cost of producing electricity and other forms of energy using oil and gas are only based on their market prices. However, these prices reflect only the cost of producing oil and gas (including the costs of of labor and materials used for their extraction from underground reservoirs) and of transporting them to the consumer. But some of the costs of consuming oil and gas are not directly included in our energy bill, nor are they paid for by the companies that sell us energy. These are the hidden costs of oil and gas that we pay indirectly for the health problems caused by air, water and soil pollution resulting from using oil and gas, environmental degradation caused by carbon emission and global warming, and acid rains. Since the producers and consumers do not pay directly for such costs, society as a whole must pay for them. Thus, although such costs are hidden, they are real. For example, according to the American Lung Association, health costs, including, for example, lost potential income, of air pollution alone are estimated to be about $50 billion a year, and the main culprit for air pollution is the fossil fuels, mainly oil and gas, our primary source of energy. Estimating the possible cost of the damage inflicted on Earth by global warming, caused by carbon emission that is the direct result of burning oil AND gas, is currently impossible.”

If we take into account such costs, then the cost of producing electricity from gas (and oil) will be much larger than the commercial estimates usually quoted, and very much comparable with what it costs to generate it using nuclear reactors. A recent study by Professors John Deutch and Ernest Moniz of, respectively, the chemistry and physics departments of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reached a similiar conclusion (see, the New York Times, the Op-Ed page, Thursday August 14, 2003).

Consider now the case for alternative sources of energy in terms of Iran’s population growth and her social dynamics:

Since the 1979 Revolution, Iran’s population has more than doubled, from 32 to nearly 70 million, while her oil production is only 70% of the pre-Revolution level. This then begs the following question: Why is it that the US and her allies believed, in the 1970s, that Iran needed nuclear reactors and nuclear energy, when Iran’s population was less than half of the present and her oil production was much more than now, but they now argue that Iran does not need nuclear energy? How do the US and her allies suggest Iran should feed, house and educate her population, create jobs for her army of educated people, and develop the country, all with oil and gas alone, while she has very significant uranium deposits that can be used for generating electricity?

Consider the case for alternative energy sources from an environmental view point:

Iran is beset by huge environmental problems that have been caused by oil and gas consumption, problems that are reaching catastrophic scales. Although Iran established a Department of Environment in 1971, and even though Article 50 of her current Constitution states that, “In the Islamic Republic of Iran protection of the environment, in which present and future generations should enjoy a transcendent social life, is regarded as a public duty,” 8 years of war with Iraq, economic sanctions, careless (with respect to the environment) development after the War, and the 120% increase in the population, have kept the goal of cleaning the environment and maintaining it that way on the back-burner. However, the environment and its health can no longer be neglected.

Since 1980, carbon emissions in Iran have risen by 240%, from 33.1 million metric tons emitted in 1980 to more than 85 million metric tons at present. Note that, whether we use oil (which causes severe pollution problems) or gas (which, compared with oil and coal, is considered as a relatively clean source of energy), carbon emission cannot be avoided. This emission is one of the main culprits behind air pollution in Tehran and all other major cities of Iran that has reached catastrophic levels, so much so that the elementary schools must be closed on many days. Long term effects of the polluted air are blamed for causing 17,000 deaths every year in Tehran alone, as well as causing severe problems for people with asthma, heart, and skin conditions. The cost of medical care for such illnesses is reaching astronomical levels.

Polluted air also severely damages soil and groundwater resources by contaminating the rain water. At the same time, Iran’s industrial base, using oil and gas for energy, generates wastes that contaminate a large number of rivers and coastal waters and threaten drinking water supplies. These are separate from oil spills in the Persian Gulf and pollution in the Caspian Sea that continue to contaminate the waters. These are all caused by the fact that, Iran’s renewable energy consumption, including hydropower, solar, wind, tide, and geothermal, account for only 2% of its total energy consumption, with the rest supplied by oil and gas.

What are, or can be, alternative sources of energy for Iran? Surely, given Iran’s vast central desert, solar power can potentially be very useful for generating electricity and energy. However, this technology is not yet well-developed. In certain parts of Iran, geothermal sources can also be used for generating electricity, but Iran has just started exploring this possibility, and it will take at least 15 years to develop this at any significant scale. That leaves nuclear reactors, which will not solve her chronic shortage of electricity, nor will they solve all of Iran’s pollution problems, but they do represent the first important step in diversifying Iran’s sources for energy.

Nuclear reactors do have their own problems. One is their management which has to be at a very high level so that the chances of accidents, similar to those that happened in Three-Mile Island in the US (in 1979) and in Chernobyl in Russia (in 1986), will be minimal. In addition, one must deal with protecting and storing the nuclear wastes produced by the reactors which would be radioactive for at least tens of thousands of years. But, these problems are generally believed to be manageable.

In Part III of this series, the dispute between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency will be described and analyzed.

Original URL:

back to top

Part III: The Emerging Crisis

This article is the last of a three-part series on Iran’s nuclear program. In this Part, the dispute – many consider it a crisis – between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is described.

Recall that after the February announcement of President Mohammad Khatami regarding the construction of the facilities in Natanz for uranium enrichment, and other associated plants needed for this purpose, Dr. Mohammad El Baradei, the head of IAEA, accompanied by a team of inspectors, visited Iran. Since then, the IAEA’s inspectors and experts have visited Iran several more times. A preliminary report was published in July, with a follow-up one on August 26.

Before the revelations about the Natanz facility, there had been reports for years that Iran had sought, albeit unsuccessfully, the uranium enrichment technology, both in the international market and from the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy. Although not definitively established yet, it now appears that the Natanz facility is similar to what Pakistan had built for its nuclear program in the 1980s. Various reports indicate, however, that the Natanz facility is in fact far more sophisticated than both Pakistan’s and what was discovered in Iraq after its defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

The process of converting uranium ore to enriched uranium is actually long and very complex. It has been known for many years that Iran has natural uranium reserves, in the form of uranium ore. In 1985, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) located over 5,000 metric tons of uranium ore in the desert in eastern part of Yazd province. This represents one of the largest deposits of uranium ore in the Middle East. The ore must first undergo a semiprocess to be converted to a powder, usually called the yellowcake. Iran is building a facility in Ardakan for this purpose. The yellowcake is then further processed to produce uranium hexafluoride (UF_6) which is in gaseous state. The facility for doing this is being built in Esfahan (Isfahan). Uranium has two important isotopes (that is, two slightly different versions of it with slightly different atomic masses) which are uranium-235 and uranium-238 (the numbers represent the atomic masses). It is uranium-238 that may be used in making nuclear weapons, but also in nuclear reactors. The Esfahan facility will also produce uranium oxide and uranium metal, both of which have civilian as well as military applications.

The Natanz facility is equipped with the instruments for what is currently considered to be the standard uranium-enrichment technique, namely, a large number of centrifuges that spin uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds. Under such conditions, centrifugal forces help separate the lighter uranium-235 hexafluoride from the heavier uranium-238 hexafluoride. The facility has a pilot gas centrifuge plant that, by the end of 2003, is supposed to house 1000 centrifuges (at the time of the IAEA visit in February, there were 160 centrifuges in the facility), and a large-scale production plant which will house up to 50,000 centrifuges, the installation of which (which is supposed to begin in 2005) will take up to 10 years. Such a facility would then have the capability for producing enough uranium for annual consumption of a nuclear reactor of the Bushehr-type. Note that only 10 countries have access to the centrifuge technology.

Development of a uranium-enrichment facility is an important step (but not the only one) towards making nuclear weapons. For example, the Natanz facility, when complete and in full operation, could produce 500 kgr/year of weapon-grade uranium. As it typically takes about 20 kgr of enriched uranium to make a single nuclear bomb, the produced uranium would be enough to make about 25 bombs every year. We must, however, keep in mind that a uranium-enrichment facility is also utilized for peaceful purposes it can produce low-grade enriched uranium for use in nuclear reactors.

Since, typically, one first tests whether a single centrifuge with a small quantity of uranium hexafluoride works before installing hundreds (or even thousands) of them, one might suspect that Iran does have at least a small amount of enriched uranium, not declared to the IAEA, which, if true, would imply that Iran is in serious violation of the NPT that it signed in 1968. However, such tests can also be carried out by computer simulations and modelling. Recall that even nuclear explosions are simulated completely realistically, and therefore, in principle, one does not need a physical test to check whether the centrifuges work. Whether this is the case in the present situation is not clear.

It was reported on July 18 that the IAEA inspectors had detected the trace of enriched uranium in the samples taken at Natanz, but Iran said that the source of the trace is the equipments brought to Natanz from elsewhere and bought on the international market. Subsequently, it was announced on September 25 that a trace amount of enriched uranium has also been detected at Kaalaa-ye (Kalaye is usually used in the english press) Electric Company in the northwest suburb of Tehran, a non-nuclear site (the Company produces watches, as well as certain components for the centrifuges) that the IAEA suspects Iran is using for her nuclear enrichment activities. Since Iran had declared to the IAEA that the instruments at Natanz had been stored at the Kaalaa-ye Electric site before being transported to Natanz, and given that no trace of enriched uranium has been detected anywhere else in Iran, the Kaalaa-ye Electric discovery may actually confirm Iran’s contention regarding the origin of the enriched uranium. But, once again, the situation is not clear, unless Iran provides the IAEA a list of suppliers that provided her with the instruments and equipments.

How are nuclear facilities monitored and violations of the NPT discovered? Inspections of nuclear facilities include the use of a powerful technique, called the isotopic detection, which, in essence, is a method for monitoring the environment and anything that might contaminate it. This technique is based on the facts that, (1) extremely small quantities of a material always escape a process or an industrial plant, and (2) that an equipped laboratory can readily identify the isotopic ratio of a sample that contains extremely small, albeit measureable, amounts of a material, even if it is as small as a billionth of a gram.

Nuclear physics predicts that the ratio of uranium-235 to uranium-238 is essentially the same everywhere. Therefore, when the isotopic detection technique is applied to samples containing uranium, those with ratios lower than the theoretically-predicted value would most probably indicate illegal (from the NPT stand) uranium-enrichment activity. The same technique can be used for detecting any amount of plutonium that is in excess of what is (theoretically) expected, which would then suggest the existence of a reprocessing program for nuclear wastes generated by nuclear reactors, from which plutonium is extracted. This technique is used, under the NPT, in the declared nuclear facilities of the NPT signatories.

As a reaction to the discovery of Iraq’s program for developing nuclear weapons, that was discovered by the United Nations inspectors in 1991 after Iraq’s defeat in the second Gulf war, the IAEA decided to develop and implement additional procedures for enhancing nuclear safeguards. At the time, the IAEA hoped to have these additional procedures or protocols in place two years later, hence the name “93+2” that is sometimes used to refer to this matter. The Additional Protocol was developed in 1996, and has since been signed by 78 countries (out of the 183 countries that have signed the NPT). Thirty three of these countries, mostly small nations, have also ratified the signing of the additional protocol by their national parliaments, and hence implementing it, although these countries cannot really afford to develop nuclear bomb! Most importantly, the Additional Protocol has not been adopted by the US, its most forceful advocate when it comes to OTHER countries!

The Additional Protocol also gives the IAEA the authority to inspect any facility of any nation that has signed the Protocol, even those that, seemingly, have nothing to do with a nuclear program, any time that the IAEA wishes. This is a problematic aspect of the Additional Protocol, as inspection of non-nuclear facilities may be interpreted as an infringement on the national sovereignty of a country under inspection. However, since Iran’s facilities have been under inspections for years, this should be a minor issue.

On Friday September 12, 2003, the 35-member governing board of the IAEA gave Iran an ultimatum until October 31 to prove that her nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, by providing all the deatils of her nuclear program. Iran’s reaction was mixed: On one hand, she reacted with indignation, calling the ultimatum “premature” and “unfair,” while stating, on the other hand, that she will continue working with the IAEA.

It should be pointed out that even Ms. Melissa Fleming, the spokeswoman for the IAEA, conceded that the ultimatum was “highly unusual” in that it was adopted WITHOUT A VOTE. At the same time, the IAEA itself had conceded that Iran had expanded her cooperation with the Agency, even allowing many sites that are not covered by the NPT, such as the Kaalaa-ye Electric Company, to be inspected. Therefore, the ultimatum has much to do with Iran’s poor international standing and isolation, which are, of course, justified.

At the same time, the US is once again using an important international organization to advance her agenda, damaging in the process the credibility and effectiveness of the organization, only a few months after doing the same to the United Nations during the debate over invasion of Iraq (and now going back to it asking for help!). France and Germany, at odds with the US over invasion and occupation of Iraq, but eager to mend their relations with the US, also have joined her in calling on Iran to immediately sign the Additional Protocol, and to reveal all of the details of her nuclear program.

Before analyzing the present situation between Iran and the IAEA, we must keep in mind that,

(1) according to the original IAEA safeguard agreements, Iran was not obligated to declare the start of construction of the Natanz facility. These agreements stipulate that, only 180 days before introducing any nuclear material, does Iran have to declare the existence of the facility. Therefore, construction of the undeclared Natanz facility is NOT by itself a vilation of the NPT.

(2) The NPT does allow Iran to legally build any nuclear facility, including one for uranium enrichment, so long as it is declared to, and safeguarded by, the IAEA, and is intended for peaceful purposes.

Keeping these important points in mind, the problematic aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, so far as the IAEA is concerned, are as follows.

(a) The origin of the trace amounts of highly-enriched uranium at Natanz and Kaalaa-ye Electric Company near Tehran is not yet clear. This was already described and discussed above.

(b) Iran declared to the IAEA that since approximately seven weeks ago, she has begun some uranium enrichment activities at Natanz using a single centrifuge. Since this was declared to the IAEA, and because the Natanz facility is now monitored by the IAEA, this activity does not represent a violation of the NPT (although, given the current international conditions, some may regard the timing of this as unfortunate). The important point of contention is: How can Iran be so sure that the centrifuges at Natanz work with high levels of reliability, if no prior (undeclared) tests have been carried out? Iran has countered that she has used modelling and simulation, mentioned above, which is plausible, but does not, of course, exclude the possibility of actual physical tests.

(c) The IAEA has demanded that Iran provide it with all the details of the work at Kaalaa-ye Electric Company. Iran has provided some (but presumably not all) of the details, and has allowed the facility to be visited by the IAEA inspectors, even though this inspection is not covered by the NPT, although, at first, Iran refused to grant the IAEA the permission to visit this site. If Iran does sign the Additional Protocol, then she would have to completely open the facility to the IAEA inspectors.

(d) As mentioned in Part I, in 1991, Iran received from China 1,000 kgr of natural uranium hexafluoride, 400 kgr of uranium tetrafluoride (UF_4), and 400 kgr of uranium dioxide (UO_2), without reporting them to the IAEA. The question then is: What happened to these uranium compounds? Iran has declared that some of the compounds have been converted to other uranium compounds, some of which have medical applications, while others may be of dual use. Given that Iranian medical scientists who work in Iran have published the results of their research involving such uranium compounds, Iran’s explanation is plausible, but does not provide an explanation for the fate of all the undecalred uranium compounds.

In this author’s opinion, none of these problems is intractable, and so far as their scientific and technological aspects are concerned, can be addressed to the satisfaction of the IAEA. The main problem, in this author’s opinion, is that much of the dispute with the IAEA is political, rather than scientific or technological. To see this, consider the following indisputable facts:

(1) As recognized by the NPT, peaceful use of nuclear technology, and in particular nuclear energy, is Iran’s fundamental right, so long as her nuclear program is completely transparent to the IAEA.

(2) Article 22 of the agreement between Iran and the IAEA allows for an “arbitral tribunal,” if there is still any dispute after Iran provides sufficients details of her nuclear program to the IAEA. Therefore, October 31, 2003 is not necessarily a rigid deadline.

(3) The United States has a selective non-proliferation policy. She allows Pakistan, a country that created the Taliban and her population has provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and his terrorisat group; a country whose military is still controlled to a large extent by extremist elements, to develop nuclear weapons. The US has assisted Israel to develop an impressive arsenal of nuclear weapons; has exported nuclear technology to China, and has offered a deal to North Korea regarding her nuclear reactors. The US does not pressure Pakistan, India and Israel to sign the NPT and its Additional Protocol. A little-known fact is that, in early 1995, the German government proposed a plan whereby Kraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens) would complete construction of the Bushehr reactors (see Part I of this series), subject to Iran’s agreeing to extra non-proliferation verification procedures similar to those that the United States negotiated with North Korea, and Iran agreed with the plan. But, once again, immense pressure by the United States scuttled the plan, after which Iran turned to Russia for completion of the Bushehr reactors.

A few other important points must be mentioned here:

(a) In this author’s opinion, if acquiring nuclear reactors is in Iran’s national interests (see Part II), so is signing the Additional Protocol. However, it is completely reasonable to expect that, in return for signing the Protocol and openning the nation to the IAEA inspections, Iran should obtain access to advanced nuclear technology, which should, however, be monitored and safeguarded by the IAEA. The fact remains that Russian nuclear reactors are inferior to those made in the West. Britain, France, and Germany have already promised to help Iran.

(b) However, in this author’s opinion, signing the Additional Protocol, while necessary, may not be sufficient by itself to protect Iran’s nuclear assets since this author believes that, unless the US invades and occupies Iran and installs a completely puppet regime in Tehran, she will continue pressuring Iran, using her nuclear program as a pretext, regardless of the future political developments in Iran. Thus, Iran’s aim, in this author’s opinion, must be addressing the demands of the IAEA with which the European Union also agrees, and to open up all of her facilities to inspections.

(c) The present Iranian leadership, both elected and unelected, must recognize that it has been given no mandate to deprive Iran’s furure generations of the most advanced technology, namely, nuclear technology, by acting against Iran’s national interests, including resisting stubbornly the legitimate demands by the IAEA. While giving Iran, a sovereign nation, an ultimatum is repugnant, there are many legitimate issues that must be addressed.

(d) It is highly important how Iran responds to the IAEA reasonable demands. She can react by dragging her feet, without having any active, efficient, and logical diplomacy, which will eventually result in agreeing to all the IAEA demands but under highly unfavorable circumstances, hence bringing about severe set backs to Iran’s nuclear program, if nothing else (which could include economic sanctions and military threat). Alternatively, Iran can come forward with all the details of her nuclear program, while being firm in demanding assistance for acquiring advanced nuclear technology, in which case the EU, Russia, Japan and the non-aligned countries may help Iran.

(e) Unless Iran addresses the issues that the IAEA has raised, and signs the Additional Protocol on nuclear inspections, she will not only fail in her goal of building a network of nuclear reactors, but will also be under severe international pressure. Iran has already felt this pressure: Japan has slowed down negotiations for development of the Azaadegaan oil field (the largest field in the Middle East with estimated reserves of 26-30 billion barrels of oil), and the Shell Oil Company has withdrawn from negotiations for developing the same field. Under severe international pressure, the task of building a network of nuclear reactors will be set back for many years, if not decades.

With Israel’s help, the apartheid regime of South Africa developed extensive nuclear facilities, and even made 16 nuclear bombs. The sixteen nuclear bombs could not, however, prevent the demise of the South African racist regime. While after establishment of a democratic system, the South Arfican government of President Nelson Mandela gave up volunteerly its nuclear bombs, the nuclear technology and know-how, developed during the apartheid regime, now belong to a democratic country and all South Africans.

Nothing protects Iran’s national security and interests better than acceptance of her political system and government by Iranian people, which would happen only if a truly democratic system is established in Iran. At the same time, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is part of her national asset, belonging to all Iranians, regardless of their political inclinations. It is ultimately up to Iranian people, like their South African counterparts, to decide the fate of their country’s nuclear technology, once such a democratic system is established.

Original URL:

back to top

Part IV: Economic Analysis of the Program


Over the past two years, Iran’s program for constructing the complete cycle for producing enriched uranium – the fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear power plants (NPPs) – has been the subject of intense discussions. Over this period, the experts and inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been visiting Iran on a regular basis to inspect its nuclear facilities. The information and data that have been collected by the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear energy program have revealed sustained and determined efforts by Iran since 1985 for developing an advanced program for producing enriched uranium. The Bush administrtation has been arguing that the primary purpose of Iran’s nuclear program is developing nuclear weapons. The European Union (EU), which has very extensive commercial relations with Iran; Russia, which is completing the construction of a NPP in Bushehr (on the shores of the Persian Gulf), and Japan, which has signed a lucrative oil agreement with Iran for developing Iran’s giant Azaadegaan oil field, have all pressed Iran hard, demanding that it reveal all the details of it nuclear program.

The Board of Governors (BOG) of the IAEA has had periodic special meetings to review the progress in assessing Iran’s nuclear program. In its latest special meeting on Iran, which was held on Monday November 29, 2004, the IAEA reported to the BOG its latest findings on Iran’s program, and due to the agreement that Iran recently signed with the EU troika – Britain, France, and Germany – for suspending its uranium enrichment program, no further special meeting of the BOG of the IAEA has been scheduled; that is, Iran’s case before the BOG has gone back to being a normal, un-urgent case for now.

In a series of articles that were posted on Payvand in early October 2003, the author prsented a brief history of Iran’s nuclear program (Part I); described the general outlines of the arguments that may justify Iran’s nuclear energy program as economically viable (Part II), and explained the crisis that was emerging at that time in the relationship between Iran and the IAEA (Part III). This article and Part V continue the discussions that were begun in the first three parts of the series and expand on them.

When Part II of this series was first posted in October 2003, many colleagues and readers of the article urged the author to quantify the arguments presented in that article that were supportive of Iran’s nuclear energy program as an economically viable program. The goal of the present article is just that: analyzing Iran’s program for generating nuclear energy in the context of its energy needs over the next two decades, and carrying out an economical analysis to quantify and support the arguments that were first presented in Part II, using the latest and most accurate statistics on Iran’s energy consumption and production currently available.

Another goal of the present article is to debunk – hopefully for the last time – the “argument” that the US neo-conservatives have been making, namely, that given Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves, it does not need nuclear energy. The neo-conservatives and their allies, ranging from Israel to Iran’s anti-democratic forces (from the group that makes new “discoveries” on Iran’s program on a weekly basis to the monarchists), are the last group that are still hanging onto this argument! The analysis and arguments presented in Part II (and its short version published in the International Herald Tribune on October 14, 2003), as well as those presented by numerous others, have already made their impact: Iran’s nuclear energy program has been transformed from one not needed by, or suitable for, Iran to a one for which the EU is willing to GUARANTEE the supply of nuclear fuels, provided that Iran “suspends” indefinitely its uranium enrichment program!

At the same time, it should be pointed out that when, under the US encouragement (some say pressure), Iran’s nuclear energy program was started by the Shah in 1974,

(a) Iran’s population was less than half of the present 70 million;

(b) its oil production was about 5.8 million barrels (MB) per day, compared with the present average daily production of 3.9 MB/day;

(c) it exported about 5 MB/day of oil, compared with the present average daily export of 2.6 MB/day;

(d) its energy consumption was less than one-fourth of the present;

(e) the Shah’s government was burning Iran’s natural gas for elimination, simply because it had no use for it, and,

(f) unlike now, Iran’s oil reservoirs were not in decline, needing re-pressurization (see below) by natural gas injection.

In short, Iran did not need AT THAT TIME to generate electricity using NPPs. This then begs the question: Why is it that, given its present conditions which can justify use of NPPs for producing electricity (see below), the neo-conservatives and their allies believe that Iran does not need nuclear energy, whereas the US strongly pushed the Shah in the 1970s to build NPPs when Iran had no need for them (see Part V)?

In Part V of the series, the important role that the US and its European allies played in starting Iran’s nuclear program will be discussed in considerable details. In particular, we will review the history of the US involvement with Iran’s nuclear program to show, based on the newly accessed documents, that not only the US strongly encouraged the Shah to buy NPPs from the US, but was also willing to offer Iran, as a sweetener for the deal, the complete facilities for uranium enrichment if Iran agrees to buy eight US-manufactured NPPs! This should be compared with the present state of affairs whereby the US and the EU are trying to stop Iran from utilizing its uranium enrichment facilities and offer, instead, to supply Iran the enriched uranium for its NPPs! In addition, we briefly review the positions of some of the leading neo-conservatives in the US regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program which reveal the extent to which they are willing to go, in terms of inflicting on Iran civilian casualties and economic destruction, to stop it from starting to operate the Bushehr reactor. In the opinion of the author, giving wide exposure to this position of the neo-conservatives is particularly important, since Iran’s anti-democratic forces are the neo-conservatives allies.

To begin the discussion, we must first decouple Iran’s need for nuclear energy from its perceived or real intentions for producing nuclear weapons, since constructing NPPs does not necessarily indicate any intention for making nuclear weapons. Recall that when Iraq’s program for making nuclear weapons was discovered by the IAEA after the Persian Gulf war of 1990-1991, it did not have a single nuclear reactor; its only reactor, under construction at Osirak, had been demolished by Israel’s bombing in 1981. The apartheid regime of South Africa produced 16 nuclear bombs in the 1980s, without having a single nuclear reactor!

More specifically, the goal of the present article is twofold.

(a) We describe Iran’s energy needs over the next two decades when its population may reach 100 million, and the resources that it will and must have in order to secure adequate energy supplies. It is universally recognized that energy security, which includes securing adequate and DIVERSIFIED energy resources, is a highly important part of any nation’s national interests which, by their very definition, transcend the political system that governs a nation. Iran, as a sovereign nation, has a fundamental right to diversify and develop its energy resources – the engine for its economic and social development.

(b) Why Iran must stop relying on oil and natural gas as its main sources of energy, and begin developing alternative sources, is discussed next. We show that, in addition to being in its long-term national interests, there are compelling economical, environmental and technological reasons for Iran to seek out alternative sources of energy, instead of relying so heavily on the fossil fuels. Moreover, we argue that a nuclear energy program has many other benefits for Iran in terms of the necessary technology that must be imported into the country, and the educated class of people that will run Iran’s nuclear industry.

Whether Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons is beyond the scope of this article and, therefore, will not be discussed.

Iran’s Energy Consumption and Resources

Iran’s population is currently estimated to be close to 70 million, about 70% of which is below the age of 30. This should be compared with Iran’s population of 30 million when the Shah started Iran’s program for building NPPs in 1974. Most estimates indicate that Iran’s population may reach 100 million by 2025.

According to reliable statistics (provided by not only Iran’s Ministry of Power, but also by International Energy Agency, the British Petroleum Annual Statistics, etc.), between 1977 and 2003, Iran’s rate of energy consumption has on average increased 5.5% per year, from an equivalent amount of 181 MB to about 740 MB of crude oil. Moreover, since the end of Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Iran’s oil consumption has had an annual growth rate of about 8%, while the supply of energy from all of its sources has had an annual growth rate of 6%, hence barely keeping up with energy consumption. Between 1977 and 2001, the electricity production has been experiencing an average annual growth rate of 8.5%. Iran currently produces 31,000 megawatt (MW) of electricity. Most importantly, in 1977 Iran consumed 29.6 MB of crude oil to generate electricity, whereas 265 MB of oil were used in 2003 for the same purpose, representing an average annual growth rate of 8.8%.

If the above trend continues and crude oil is not replaced by another energy source, and if Iran does not increase its oil production significantly, it may become a net IMPORTER of oil over the next decade, a huge catastrophe for a country that obtains 80% of its total export earnings, 45% of its total annual budget, and about 15% of its GDP from exporting oil. It is estimated that during 2004 the average price of Iran’s crude oil will be about $30/barrel. It is noteworthy that Iran earns about $900 million/year for every $1/barrel increase in the price of its oil. We now describe in more details Iran’s various energy sources.

Oil Reserves

Over the past decade, major discoveries by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) have increased Iran’s proven and recoverable oil reserves to about 131 billion barrels, up from 93 billion barrels in 1993. This represents about 11.4% of the world’s proven oil reserves, making Iran second only to Saudi Arabia. During the first six months of 2004, Iran produced about 4.1 MB/day, up from an average of 3.9 MB/day in 2003. Iran’s SUSTAINABLE oil production is about 4 MB/day. About 70% of Iran’s oil (2.8 MB/day) is produced by 9 giant onshore fields, with the offshore fields (in the Persian Gulf) producing another 0.675 MB/day (17% of the total production). Note that Iran was producing about 5.8 MB/day of oil during the last two years of the Shah in 1977-78, but has never exceeded, on an average basis, 3.9 MB/day since the Islamic Revolution, while its population has increased by 130%. Iran’s OPEC quota is 3.817 MB/day. Its oil exports average about 2.6 MB/day, mainly to China, Europe, Japan, and South Korea.

Iran spends $3 billion/year to subsidize the price of oil products for its domestic consumption. Another $2-3 billion/year is spent on IMPORTING some oil products (mainly gasoline). To counter the rising rate of consumption of gasoline (10.5% per year), Iran has doubled its price over the past 2 years.

Iran plans to increase its oil production to 7 MB/day by 2025. This would need about $60 billion in foreign investment. Since President Khatami was elected in 1997, Iran has succeeded in attracting about $20 billion in foreign investment for its oil and gas sectors, with its lion share going to the natural gas sector (see below). Since Iran’s Constitution prohibits granting of oil rights on a concessionary or direct equity basis, Iran’s main mechanism for granting contracts is the Buy-Back scheme, whereby the contractor pays for all the investments, receives compensation from NIOC in the form of an allocated production share, and transfers the operation of the field to NIOC after a fixed period. This arrangement has been criticized domestically (mainly for its guaranteed high rates of return, which is typically 15-18%, and was over 20% for the first 2-3 contracts), and has not made many foreign oil companies very happy either, as they may not be allowed to develop their discovery, let alone operating them. In addition, the short terms of such contracts (typically 5-7 years) are disliked by oil companies. As a result, in January 2004, Iran announced major modifications to the Buy-Back scheme by extending the length of such contracts to as many as 25 years, while allowing for continued involvement of the oil companies after a field’s operation is transferred to NIOC.

Natural Gas

Iran possesses about 942 trillion cubic feet (TCF) in proven natural gas reserves – 15.2% of the world’s proven reserves – second only to Russia. Of these, about 62% are in mostly undeveloped non-associated fields (associated gas is what one finds in oil reservoirs). Iran’s major gas fields include the giant South Pars (with reserves of 280-500 TCF) in the Persian Gulf which is the largest gas field in the world. This field also contains over 17 billion barrels of gas condensates (liquids). In addition, many of Iran’s oil fields produce large amounts of (associated) gas. Iran’s natural gas production in 2002 was about 2.7 TCF.

Natural gas has increasingly become the main source of energy in Iran. Whereas in 1977 it represented only 8.4% of Iran’s energy consumption, it now accounts for more than 53% and is rapidly increasing. This statistics alone should debunk the argument of opponents of Iran’s nuclear energy program that it has not tried to use its natural gas a source of energy.

Iran has given the highest priority to development of South Pars field, since it shares it with Qatar. The field is supposed to be developed in 28 phases; 16 phases are currently active. Developing South Pars has attracted over $15 billion in foreign investments, and has generated at least 30,000 new engineering and supporting technical jobs in Iran. In addition to natural gas, gas condensate production from the field should reach about 220,000 barrels/day by 2005, and 630,000 barrels/day by 2015. When South Pars is fully developed, Iran will earn over $11 billion/year for at least 30 years from this field ALONE.

Between 35% to 40% of all the produced natural gas is injected into many of Iran’s giant but aging oil fields for pressure maintenance and secondary oil production (see below). The rest is either exported by pipelines or as liquefied natural gas, or is consumed domestically. Iran exports natural gas to Turkey, and has signed agreements, or is negotiating, to sell gas to Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirate. It is also actively seeking to export gas to Europe through Turkey and Greece (an agreement with Greece has been signed), hoping to export 300 billion CF/year of gas by 2007.

Iran also uses its natural gas as feedstock to develop its petrochemical industry, which currently produces nearly $2.7 billion in petrochemical products for domestic consumption and exporting. This generates much added values for Iran’s natural gas, hence justifying its use for a set of projects for downstream and commodities production, rather than just burning it as a source of energy. We will come back to this point shortly.

Electric Power

Currently, Iran has a capacity of about 31,000 MW of electricity, of which more than 75% is generated by natural gas plants, 7% by hydroelectric, and 18% by oil-fired plants. The corresponding percentages worldwide are, respectively, 17%, 17% and 8% [1]. Iran currently consumes about 28,000 MW of electricity (the rest of the electrical capacity is exported). The demand for electric power is growing at an annual rate of 8%. Thus, Iran projects needing 70,000 MW of electricity by 2021, of which it plans to produce 7,000 MW by NPPs, representing 10% of its electric power. Currently, 19% of the world’s electricity is generated by NPPs, and the IAEA estimates that this will reach 27% by 2030 (see below for further discussions).

Iran does have large potential for hydroelectric power generation, estimated to be about 20,000 MW/year. It is currently building 7 hydroelectric power plants, representing over 63% of its current power generation projects, that will generate by 2007 over 8020 MW of electricity. By 2021 some 14,000 MW of electricity will be generated by hydroelectric power, projected to represent 20% of Iran’s electrical capacity. In addition, Iran has some potential for generating electricity from geothermal sources, with its first geothermal power plant going online recently near Ardabil, in northwestern Iran. Several small photovoltaic units that generate electricity are operating in rural areas of Iran.

Nuclear Energy Program

As mentioned above, by 2021 Iran wishes to generate at least 10% of its electricity by NPPs. However, constructing the NPPs is only part of the plan. Iran also wishes to possess the full nuclear fuel cycle for producing enriched uranium, as its has very significant natural uranium reserves in the form of uranium ore. The main reserves are in Saaghand, 300 miles south of Tehran in the Yazd Province (representing one of the largest deposits of uranium ore in the Middle East), and near Bandar Abbas. During 1993-1994, the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology of China aided Iran with uranium mine exploration and operation, but Iran appears now to be self-sufficient in the required expertise.

It is estimated that Iran’s known uranium ore reserves can produce as much electricity as 43 billion barrels of oil. This is a huge amount by any criterion, but particularly so if we only recall that if we extract ALL of Iran’s known recoverable oil reserves (a remote possibility!) and use fully one-third of them only for generating electricity, we will generate as much electricity as what Iran’s presently-known uranium deposits can produce!

The uranium ore is first converted to a powder, usually called the yellowcake. Iran is building plants in Ardakan and Bandar Abbas for this purpose. The yellowcake is then further processed to produce gaseous uranium tetra- and then hexafluoride. The facility for doing so is in Isfahan, which can also produce uranium oxide and uranium metal, the main components of nuclear fuel.

The Natanz facility is to be equipped with the standard uranium-enrichment instrument, namely, a large number of cascaded centrifuges that spin uranium hexafluoride gas at very high speeds and separate the lighter uranium-235 hexafluoride from the heavier uranium-238 hexafluoride. Of every 1000 uranium atoms only 7 are uranium-235. It is uranium-235 which is used in nuclear reactors and also nuclear bombs. Hence, one must have a large number of cascaded centrifuges to produce enough uranium-235. The Natanz facility has a pilot gas centrifuge plant that currently houses nearly 1300 centrifuges, and a large-scale production plant which will house up to 50,000 centrifuges, the installation of which (to begin in 2005) will take up to 10 years. Such a facility would then have the capability for producing enough uranium for annual consumption of a nuclear reactor of the Bushehr-type (producing 1000 MW of electricity). We note that about 20 countries around the globe are active in uranium enrichment.

Three companies, Kaalaa-ye Electric, Pars Taraash, and Faraayand Technique, can produce parts for the centrifuges that are to be used for enriching uranium. Iran also has nuclear waste disposal sites near Qom (Ghom), Karaj, and Anarak. There are three other nuclear facilities in Iran which represent research institutions, and are not directly related to uranium enrichment. It must be emphasized that the IAEA has been monitoring all of Iran’s known nuclear facilities.

The Case for Nuclear Energy

The main argument of the critics of Iran’s nuclear energy program is that, it has vast oil and gas reserves, hence needing no nuclear energy. The argument is mostly hot rhetoric. Canada and Russia, both major oil exporters, rely on NPPs for a significant portion of their electricity needs. Russia has vast oil and gas reserves (its gas reserves represent about a quarter of the world’s known reserves), and Canada exports 1.5 MB of oil to the US every day, yet they both continue building NPPs. Between 1974, when Iran signed its first agreement for building NPPs, and 2000, use of NPPs for generating electricity in the world has increased by a factor of 12! In particular, France is now producing most of its electricity using NPPs.

At the same time, construction of NPPs in Iran is completely consistent with the general trends in Asia. According to the IAEA [2], 23 of the last 31 NPPs connected to the world’s power grid have been built in Asia. Of the NPPs currently under construction, 18 of 27 are located in Asia, generating 78% more electricity by 2015 than 1995. In addition, according to the IAEA analysis [2], subject to certain reasonable assumptions, by 2030 27% of the world’s electricity will be generated by NPPs, compared with the current rate of 19%. Even in the US, the Bush Administration has been talking about a nuclear power renaissance, and the US nuclear industry has been calling for construction of 50 NPPs by 2020 [3].

However, aside from the above general arguments, one can completely justify Iran’s nuclear energy program based on economic, environmental, NUCLEAR EXTERNALITIES, and Iran’s long-term national interests. In what follows we discuss each of these aspects.

The Economics of Iran’s Nuclear Energy Program

If oil is to be used for generating electricity, then, for every 1000 MW of electricity, Iran must use between 20 to 25 MB of crude oil per year, depending on the oil quality. This implies that, for an average price of $25/barrel (currently the oil prce is much higher, and will presumably remain so for many years to come), Iran will lose $500-625 million/year in oil exports, which should be compared with the operating cost of about $140 million/year for a NPP generating the same amount of electricity. In 2003 alone, Iran used 265 MB of crude oil to generate 18% of its electricity. With a 2003 average price of $26/barrel, this represents $6.89 billion worth of oil exports for A SINGLE YEAR, a staggering figure that can pay for complete construction of at least two Bushehr-type (1000 MW) reactors and their operations for several years at the current prices! When we consider this over the useful life of a NPP (say, 50 years), not only Iran can replace the oil-generated electricity with that generated by NPPs, it will save tens of billions of dollars. Note that constructing NPPs in Iran should, under normal circumstances, be considerably cheaper than in the US or the EU, as the labor force is much cheaper in Iran, and many expensive legal and regulatory aspects of constructing a NPP in the US [4] do not simply exist in Iran.

Burning oil to generate electricity also creates severe environmental problems, as it has been doing in Iran, with very significant economic consequences which will be described in the next section.

Now consider natural gas power plants. As we already pointed out, Iran has already made great strides in using natural gas for its energy needs, with 75\% of its electricity, and 53% of all of its energy consumption being supplied by natural gas, hence debunking, once again, the main argument of the neo-conservatives and other opponents of Iran’s nuclear energy program that Iran has not made the necessary effort to use its natural gas for its energy needs. At the same time, there are other areas of needs for natural gas that have priorities that may even be higher than using it for generating electricity, some of which are as follows.

(a) The author has been involved in computer modelling of oil and gas reservoirs for over 25 years [5]. A study in 1998 concluded that, out of Iran’s 60 oil fields (at that time), 57 of them needed major technical studies, repairs, upgrading, and repressurizing by natural gas (the author was a member of the group that studied this issue and reached the above conclusion). A typical Iranian oil reservoir is fractured, and is of carbonate-type with a very tight rock matrix. It is well-known that injection of huge amounts of natural gas into almost all of Iran’s oil reservoirs is practically the only way of maintaining their pressure to produce oil (a process called secondary recovery). Water injection, another common method of pressure maintenance in oil reservoirs, is not suitable for most of Iran’s oil reservoirs [5]. Since, over time, the pressure will decline, the amount of injected gas must also increase to keep pace (at some point gas injection alone will not be effective anymore, and one must start what is usually called the tertiary recovery process). Currently, 35%-40% of all of Iran’s natural gas production must be injected into its giant but aging oil reservoirs, without which the production of most, if not all, of them will rapidly decline.

At the same time, consider the following: If the natural gas that one burns annually to produce 1000 MW of electricity (the amount that the Bushehr reactor will produce) is injected into a typical Iranian oil reservoir, it will increase the reservoir’s production by at least a few thousand barrels/day, depending on the reservoir’s geology and history of production. The earning from exporting the extra oil can pay for and cover part of the operating cost of a 1000 MW reactor ($140 million/year) and reduce its operating cost to a level that makes it economically competitive with the cost of a gas power plant, estimated to be $60-70 million/year, while not polluting the environment by burning oil or natural gas.

We must also remember that, (1) the natural gas that is injected into Iran’s oil reservoirs is largely recovered, hence making it even more economical to use NPPs to produce electricity and use the gas for pressurizing the oil reservoirs, and (2) NPPs have ZERO emission of carbons and other pollutants into the air, whereas fossil fuels, including natural gas, emit large amounts of carbon.

(b) As pointed out above, most of Iran’s gas fields contain also huge amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Natural gas can also be easily converted to LNG, which is sold at a price much higher than that of natural gas itself. However, the OPEC treats LNG similar to crude oil when determining quota for its members, and as a member of OPEC Iran cannot exceed its quota. Therefore, natural gas production cannot be increased arbitrarily to compensate for the gas that used domestically [6].

(c) As mentioned earlier, Iran is already exporting natural gas to several of its neighbors, and is actively seeking exporting very large amounts of gas to Europe. This is all part of a new emerging global market – natural gas – which is going to have [7] great impact on the world economy with geopolitical implications. By saving as much natural gas as possible for export, Iran will be in a very strong position in this emerging market to play a role similar to that of Saudi Arabia in the oil market, given its gas reserves.

(d) Iran is developing its petrochemical industry, for which the main feedstock is natural gas. The added value generated by producing petrochemical products (which can be up to 100%, depending on the products) – not to mention the jobs and industrial base that it creates, and the foreign currency income that it generates – is much greater than what Iran may gain by simply burning huge amounts of gas to generate electricity. In fact, the world’s $500 billion petrochemical industry has been developed precisely for this reason: The added value that one gains from converting natural gas to downstream petrochemical products which, in Iran’s case which has vast gas reserves and cheap labor force and energy resources, cannot be ignored.

(e) Unlike the popular belief, burning natural gas does contribute to degradation of the environment – by producing and releasing carbon into the atmosphere and contributing to the Greenhouse effect and global warming. This will be further discussed in the next section.

Environmental Problems Caused by Fossil Energy Usage

“The more we look to the future, the more we can expect countries to be considering the potential benefits that expanding nuclear power has to offer for the global environment and for economic growth….”

The above are what Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director General, said [2] in advance of a gathering of 500 nuclear power experts in Moscow from 27 June – 2 July, 2004, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the first NPP. Dr. ElBaradei points out an important fact: NPPs DO NOT POLLUTE THE ENVIRONMENT ON A REGULAR BASIS, but that is exactly what oil and other fossil fuels have been doing to Iran for years. If one is to obtain a true estimate of the cost of using oil, and even natural gas, as sources of energy, one must take into account the huge cost of the medical care for people who suffer from the diseases caused by pollution of the environment by oil and natural gas, as well as their damage to Nature. As early as 1990, in a seminar at Gustave E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies of the University of California in Los Angeles the author stated that [8],

“Typical estimates for the cost of producing electricity and other forms of energy using oil and gas are only based on their market prices. These prices reflect only the cost of producing oil (and gas) and of transporting them to the consumer. However, some of the costs of consuming fossil energy are not directly included in our energy bill, nor are they paid for by the producers. These are the HIDDEN, but real, costs that the society pays indirectly for the health problems caused by air, water and soil pollution r esulting from using fossil energy, environmental degradation caused by carbon emission and global warming, and acid rains. For example, according to the American Lung Association, total health costs, including lost potential income, of air pollution alone are estimated to be about $50 billion/year. The main culprit for air pollution is the fossil fuels, mainly oil, our primary source of energy. Evaluating the economics of the damage inflicted on Earth by global warming, caused by carbon emission that is the direct result of burning oil and natural gas, is currently impossible.”

Supplying energy to the world releases six billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, with Iran contributing her share. Iran is beset by huge environmental problems, caused by oil and gas consumption, that are reaching catastrophic scales. Although Article 50 of Iran’s current Constitution states that, “In the Islamic Republic of Iran protection of the environment, in which present and future generations should enjoy a transcendent social life, is regarded as a public duty,” various reasons kept in the back-burner the goal of cleaning the environment and maintaining it that way.

Since 1980, carbon emission in Iran has risen by 240%, from 33.1 million metric tons emitted in 1980 to more than 85 million metric tons at present. Note that, whether oil or natural gas is used, carbon emission cannot be avoided. This emission is one of the main culprits behind air pollution in Tehran and all other major cities of Iran that has reached catastrophic levels, so much so that the elementary schools must be closed on many days. According to Iran’s Ministry of Health, and the Organization for Protection of the Environment, long-term effects of the polluted air are responsible, directly or indirectly, for causing 17,000 deaths/year in Tehran alone, as well as causing severe problems for people with asthma, heart, and skin conditions. The cost of medical care for such illnesses is reaching, by Iran’s standards, astronomical levels. Generating electricity by NPPs does not directly address such problems, but it does reduce the pollution and environmental degradation caused by burning oil and (in the long-run) natural gas.

Polluted air also severely damages soil and groundwater resources by contaminating the rain water. At the same time, Iran’s industrial base, using fossil fuels for energy, generates wastes that contaminate a large number of rivers and coastal waters and threaten drinking water supplies. Iran is actually reaching the stage which is characterized by chronic shortage of clean water – believed by many to be the cause of many future wars in the Middle East.

A recent study by John Deutch and Ernest Moniz of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [9] argued that even in the US, if certain technological advances are made (expecting to achieve these advances is entirely reasonable), and subject to a modest tax on the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, the cost of generating electricity by NPPs will become competitive with that of gas power plants.

Finally, strict environmental regulations and public opposition have prevented development of significant oil reserves in the US (for example, in Alaska). At the same time, Western European countries have been discouraging use of oil and gas, with some moving towards NPPs. Since 1980, France has increased its production of electricity from NPP by 80% and reduced its oil consumption by 10%. But, the same countries that are reluctant to use oil and gas because they fear damage to their environment, demand Iran to burn oil and gas to generate electricity!

Nuclear Externalities

Externalities are said to arise when decisions of some economic agents affect the interests of other economic agents [10]. A good example is provided by the US space program in the 1960s. Although the program was intended for (and succeeded in) landing men on the Moon, it also resulted in tens of thousands of inventions and technological advances that we now use in our every day lives. What are the externalities of nuclear technology for Iran? One can list at least four major catagories [11]. Iran’s nuclear program will result in,

(a) development and nurturing of new and unprecedented capabilities for building technological infrastructures;

(b) cross-fertilization and diversion of nuclear-related know-how, research and development, and supply chain to Iran’s other industries, and other branches of science, such as medicine and agriculture;

(c) added-value and versatility of nuclear technology-related training, and

(d) creation of new cadre of managers of technology, technocrats, and organizational system culture.

In the author’s opinion, nuclear externalities alone justify a nuclear energy program for Iran. Our contention is perhaps best described by Perkovich who declared that [12],

“Nuclear establishments can be seen as avatars of modernity, national prowess, and power, and the leaders of these establishments are well-positioned to pursuade (political) leaders and public to give them rein and bring greatness to their nations.”

Iran’s Long-Term National Interests

Iran must confront the challenge of its demographic explosion without having access to many of the necessary tools, which are strong state structures, large amounts of investment capitals, and industrial infrastructres that are reasonably advanced. At the same time, oil and natural gas are Iran’s non-renewable national wealth. Once they are burned, they can never be recovered. One cannot expect Iran to recklessly deplete its non-renewable national wealth without receiving any lasting benefits in return, but this will happen if Iran’s energy sources are not diversified, and it continues to rely almost exclusively on oil and natural gas as almost the only sources of energy.

Since the 1979 Revolution, Iran’s population has more than doubled, from 30 to nearly 70 million, while its present oil production is only 70% of the pre-Revolution level. As pointed out in the Introduction, the question is: Why is it that the US and its allies believed in the 1970s that Iran needed NPPs, when its population was less than half of the present; its oil production was much more than now; its natural gas was being burned uselessly; its energy consumption was about a quarter of the present, and when, unlike today, its oil reservoirs were not in desperate need of natural gas injection, but that, now, Iran does not need alternative sources, including nuclear energy? How should Iran feed, house and educate its rapidly growing population, create jobs for its army of educated people, and develop its infrastructure and industrial base, mostly based on its income from exporting oil and gas, but also use the SAME resources to satisfy its ever increasing energy needs?

The Challenges of Nuclear Energy

To be fair, we must also recognize that NPPs do have their own problems:

(a) Nuclear power plants require high initial capital cost and investment. However, given nuclear externalities and other benefits of nuclear energy described above, the high cost is completely justified in Iran’s case.

(b) The second problem of NPPs is their safety which must be at a very high level so that the chances of accidents, similar to those that happened in Three-Mile Island in the US (in 1979) and in Chernobyl in Ukraine (in 1986), will be minimal. The aforementioned MIT report [9] called for maintaining the current standards of “less than one serious release of radioactivity accident for 50 years from all fuel cycle activity,” which “should be possible with the new light-water reactor plants” (that is, the reactors that use the heat from nuclear reactions in a nuclear reactor to generate steam for use in a power plant). The fact is that the safety of NPPs is a recurring problem. Even J apan, an advanced industrialized nation, has had many nuclear accidents. Therefore, the nuclear industry can no longer ignore this problem, or claim that it has addressed it in a satisfactory manner.

(c) One must also address the problem of safely storing the nuclear wastes produced by NPPs which will be radioactive for at least tens of thousands of years.

Renewable Energy Sources for Iran?

Iran does have potential for generating significant amounts of electricity using renewable sources (although, in some way, nuclear energy may also be considered as a renewable source). One is hydroelectric which, as pointed out above, should provide 20% of Iran’s electricity by 2021. Iran’s central desert has the potential to produce some energy using solar technology, but the technology is not advanced enough to act as a major supplier, at least not yet or in the near future. There is also some potential for geothermal energy, but its extent is limited. Altogether, such alternative methods cannot provide more than 25% percent of Iran’s energy needs, at least over the next two decades.


Iran’s goal of generating, by 2021, 10% of its electricity by NPPS, 20% by hydroelectric, 65% by natural gas, and 5% by other sources is rational and economically justified. The benefits of diversifying Iran’s energy sources, and in particular resorting to nuclear power plants for a fraction of Iran’s needed electricity, far outweight any possible drawback that it might have, although the author cannot conceive one.


[1] The Role of Renewables in Future Energy Directions, International Energy Agency report (October 2002).

[2] See the IAEA Press Release

[3] See, Physics Today (April 2002), p. 54.

[4] G. Rothwell, Triggering Nuclear Development: What Construction Cost Might Prompt Orders for New Nuclear Power Plants in Texas, Public Utilities Fortnightly (May 2004), p. 47.

[5] M. Sahimi, Flow and Transport in Porous Media and Fractured Rock, 1st ed. (VCH, Weinheim, Germany, 1995); 2nd ed. (to be published in 2005).

[6] See also W.O. Beeman and T.R. Stauffer, Is Iran Building Nukes? An Economic Analysis, Pacific News Services.

[7] D. Yergin and M. Stoppard, The Next Prize, Foreign Affairs, vol. 82 (No. 6), 103 (2003).

[8] For expanded content of that seminar see, M. Sahimi, How Much do We Pay for a Barrel of Oil? in, Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Non-Renewable Energy Sources, Tehran, Iran (December 1993), p. 127, and, M. Sahimi, Factors Affecting the Development of Fossil Energy Resources of Developing Countries, in, United States-Third World Relations in the New World Order, edited by A.P. Grammy and C.K. Bragg (Nova Science Publishers, New York, 1996), p. 361.

[9] J.M. Deutch and E. Moniz, The Future of Nuclear Power; see also, Physics Today (December 2003), p. 34.

[10] J. Hirshleifer, Price Theory and Applications, 2nd ed. (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffe, 1980).

[11] N. Meshkati, The Nuclear Question, paper presented at symposium on, Politics and Governance in a Changing Iran, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, California (November 31, 2003).

[12] G. Perkovich, Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons in India, Pakistan, and Iran, in, Nuclear Power and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons: Can We Have One without the Other, edited by P.L. Leventhal, S. Tanzer, and S. Dolley (Brassey’s, Washington, 2002), p. 196.

Original URL:

back to top

Part V: From the United States Offering Iran Uranium Enrichment Technology to Suggestions for Creating Catastrophic Industrial Failure


In a series of articles that were posted on Payvand in October 2003, the author provided a brief history of Iran’s nuclear program (Part I); described the general outline of the arguments that justify for Iran nuclear energy as an economically viable source of energy (Part II), and explained the crisis that was emerging at that time in the relationship between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (Part III). In Part IV, posted on Payvand on December 7, 2004, the author presented a detailed economical analysis of Iran’s nuclear energy program.

The goal of the present article is twofold:

(a) We describe in detail the key role that the US played in the 1970s in starting Iran’s nuclear program. We show that not only did the US push the Shah to buy nuclear power plants (NPPs) from the US, but was also willing to offer Iran the technology for uranium enrichment if Iran agrees to buy eight US-manufactured NPPs. This should be compared with the present state of affairs whereby the US and its European allies are pressuring Iran to refrain from utilizing its uranium enrichment facilities and, instead, import enriched uranium for its NPP.

(b) We then compare what we describe in (a) with the present positions of the US neoconservatives and their sympathizers, which reveal the extent to which they are willing to inflict CIVILIAN casualties and economic damage on Iran to stop it from starting the Bushehr reactor.

Giving wide public exposure to the neoconservatives’ and their sympathizers’ thinking is, in the author’s opinion, particularly important since, as the author has pointed out in his articles over the past three years, Iran’s main antidemocratic forces – the monarchists and cultists – have aligned themselves with these groups. Therefore, it is essential to learn more about the fantasies of the neoconservatives and their sympathizers, which in turn will help us become more informed about the true face and colour of their Iranian allies who are willing to do anything to grab power in Iran.

The United States-Iran Nuclear Relations in the 1970s

It was presumably 1955 when the first discussions on developing a nuclear program for Iran took place. The first concrete step, however, was taken in 1957 when the US signed an agreement with Iran [1] on civilian nuclear cooperation. This was promoted as part of the US Atoms for Peace Program that was supposed to provide technical assistance to the signatories, as well as leasing them enriched uranium, and carrying out joint research on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. In the same year, the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), that consisted of Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Britain, and the US moved its Institute of Nuclear Science from Baghdad to Tehran (after General Abdolkarim Ghassem’s military coup d’etat in 1958, Iraq withdrew from CENTO).

In 1959 the Shah ordered establishment of a nuclear research center at Tehran University, Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC), and began negotiating with the US to purchase a 5-megawatt (MW) reactor for the Center. To this date, the Center remains one of Iran’s main nuclear research organizations.

In the late 1950s the US Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to store nuclear bombs in Iran (presumably due to the victory of the Cuban revolution, the rise of Fiedel Castro to power, and the support that he began receiving from the Soviet Union). In February 1961, shortly after President John F. Kennedy took office, the US State Department opposed the JCOS suggestion; it was never carried out [2].

In September 1967 Iran received from the US 5.54 kgr of enriched uranium, of which 5.16 kgr contained fissile uranium isotopes (which could, in principle, be used in a nuclear bomb), to use in its research reactor at TNRC. In addition, Iran received 112 kgr of plutonium, 104 kgr of which were fissile isotopes [3]. The safeguarded 5 MW nuclear research reactor, a pool-type, water-moderated reactor that was supplied to Iran by the US firm GA Technologies started full operations at TNRC in November 1967, using 5.58 kgr of 93% enriched uranium. The fuel was provided by the US firm United Nuclear Corporation. In addition, the US supplied Iran hot cells which are [4], “heavily shielded rooms with remotely operated arms used to chemically separate material irradiated in the research reactor, possibly including plutonium laden ‘targets’.” On July 1, 1968, the first day that the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signature, Iran signed the Treaty. It was ratified by the Majles (the Iranian parliament) on February 2, 1970.

The US-Iran agreement, Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atoms, that had been signed in 1957 (see above) was extended on March 13, 1969 for another 10 years. The first announcement on Iran’s intention for obtaining NPPs was made in December 18, 1972 [5], when Iran’s Ministry of Water and Power began a feasibility study for constructing a NPP in southern Iran.

The 1973 war between the Arab countries and Israel, and the subsequent huge increase in the price of oil, provided the Shah’s government with considerable resources. In fact, 1974 proved to be a very busy year for Iran’s atomic energy program! The Shah had originally envisioned Iran to produce, by 1990, 10,000 MW of electricity by NPPs. However, a 1974 study by the Stanford Research Institute concluded that Iran would need, by 1994, to produce 20,000 MW of electricity by NPPs. Thus, in March 1974 the Shah announced [6] plans for generating 23,000 MW of electricity, “as soon as possible,” using up to 23 NPPs, with a target date of 1994. To achieve his goal, the Shah established the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), appointed Dr. Akbar Etemad, a Swiss-trained physicist, as its first chief, and announced that the AEOI, like everything else, would be run directly under his command.

The Shah had proposed to the US for many years the establishment of a Joint Economic Commission (JEC) for regulating and expanding Iran’s commercial relations between the two countries. Up until 1974, the US had always turned down the Shah’s suggestion on the ground that, having a free-market economy, the US government had no role to play in the commercial relations with Iran. Instead, the Shah had established many such JECs with the communist countries. However, after the severe increase in the price of oil during 1973-1974, the US was looking for a way to recoup billions of dollars that it was spending on importing oil and, therefore, it suddenly became very interested in establishing a JEC with Iran! In a SECRET letter, dated April 13, 1974, to Amir Assadollah Alam, the long-time Imperial Court Minister and confidante of the Shah, Mr. Richard Helms, the then US ambassador to Iran, wrote [7]:

“On March 14 and April 4, 1974 I discussed in audience with His Imperial Majesty my Government’s genuine interest in finding ways to deepen and broaden the already strong ties between the Imperial Government of Iran and the United States. I am pleased to describe to you in more comprehensive detail my Government’s views on ways in which we can mutually enrich the relationships between our Governments. I would Greatly appreciate this message being forwarded to its High Destination….. Secretary [of State Henry A.] Kissinger looks forward yo discussing these matters personally with His Imperial Majesty at a fairly early date….”

Mr. Helms then went on to suggest the establishment of a JEC, the same commission that the US had resisted for years (!):

“There is considerable scope for expanded cooperations between our countries in the economic field. In order to provide proper focus and suitable high-level official guidance, we suggest the establishment of a Joint Economic Commission at the Cabinet level. For our part, we contemplate that the United States member of the Commission would be the Secretary of Treasury….”

Mr. Helms then proposed the formation of several working groups that “could address general areas of concern or specific projects,” including technology transfer, petrochemical development, communications, and political and security matters. But the first and most important working group that he proposed was the NUCLEAR ENERGY PRODUCTION GROUP, for which he wrote,

“We have noted the priority that His Imperial Majesty gives to developing alternative means of energy production through nuclear power. This is clearly an area in which we might most usefully begin on a specific program of cooperation and collaboration. Accordingly, we suggest that this be the first working group under our Joint Economic Commission. The Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission is prepared at an early date to visit Tehran with a team of experts to discuss ways and means by which we can most actively cooperate in this field based on our own experience.”

As pointed out in detail in Part IV of this series, the fact is that constructing NPPs in Iran in the 1970s had no economic justification whatsoever. This had made the Shah very sensitive to the critics’ criticism – which had considerable validity – that nuclear contracts were being imposed on Iran by the US. Mr. Alam, the Shah’s confidante, also expressed his grave concerns to him by telling him that [8],

“It is not in the interest of Shahanshah’s Independent National Policy that such suggestions [Mr. Helm’s] be proposed and be called a contract,” to which the Shah responded [8], “We will expand our relations that we already have, and nothing more,”

just as Mr. Helms had suggested to the Shah in their private meeting and mentioned in his letter to Mr. Alam (see the next paragraph). Even from the US perspective, although the Shah was its close ally at that time, selling Iran nuclear technology was also a very sensitive subject, hence the secret nature of Mr. Helms’ letter to Mr. Alam. The sensitivity can be seen in a paragraph of his letter where, under the title PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS, he stated that,

“In the ordinary course of events, our joint initiatives in the fields mentioned above will naturally receive a certain amount of attention. Some general reference to our expanded cooperation might well take place during Secretary [of State Henry A.] Kissinger’s next visit, but it is my personal view that we should handle these joint endeavors as natural outgrowths of the already close and friendly relations between the Imperial Government of Iran and the United States…..”

At the end of his letter, Mr. Helms emphasized the US eagerness to participate in Iran’s nuclear program:

“The Secretary [of State Henry A. Kissinger] has asked me to underline emphatically the seriousness of our purpose and our desire to move forward vigorously in appropriate ways….”

In May 1974, Dr. D.L. Ray, the Chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, travelled to Iran during which he mentioned the possibility of establishing REGIONAL uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities for Iran.

The next month, the Shah declared that Iran will have nuclear weapons, “without a doubt and sooner than one would think” [9]. The Shah first backed off [10], but later on qualified his earlier statement, saying [11] that Iran has

“no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons but if small states began building them, then Iran might have to reconsider its policy”!

According to Dr. Akbar Etemad (the first Chief of the AEOI from 1974 to 1978), the TNRC carried out experiments in which plutonium was extracted from spent fuel using chemical agents [12]. Note that the most important use for plutonium is in a nuclear bomb. It is also believed that the Shah had assembled at the TNRC a nuclear weapon design team. According to Mr. Alam [13], in the mid 1970s the Shah ordered the establishment of a “University of Military Sciences and Technology.” The mission of this university, which was supposed to be in Esfahan and controlled solely by Iran’s armed forces, was to carry out research and development in the area of chemical and nuclear weapons. The Shah had even authorized stealing the necessary science and technology from other countries, if need be, in order for Iran to fully acquire the know-how of making chemical and nuclear weapons. None of these activities did, of course, provoke any reaction by the US.

On March 3, 1975, Iran and the US signed an agreement worth about $15 billion, according to which the US was, among other things, to build EIGHT NPPs in Iran with a total capacity of about 8,000 MW. The agreement was signed by the US Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and Iran’s Finance Minister Mr. Houshang Ansari. The fuel for the reactors was to be supplied by the US.

On March 14, 1975, in National Security Study Memorandum 219 signed by Mr. Henry A. Kissinger, President Gerald R. Ford directed [14]

“a study of the issues involved in reaching an acceptable agreement with the Government of Iran which would allow nuclear commerce between the countries – – specifically, the sale of the U.S. nuclear reactors and materials, Iranian investment in the U.S. enrichment facilities, and other appropriate nuclear transactions in the future.”

About a month later, President Ford instructed the US negotiators to offer Iran uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities. Specifically, National Security Decision Memorandum 292, dated April 22, 1975 and signed by Mr. Kissinger, stated [15] that the US shall

“- – Permit U.S. materials to be fabricated into fuel in Iran for use in its own reactors and for pass-through to third countries with whom we have Agreement.”

In addition, the US was willing to allow Iran to invest in the US uranium enrichment facility (Iran had proposed investing $2.75 billion in an enrichment facility in the US [16]). This is stated in the Memorandum [15]: The U.S. shall

“- – Agree to set the fuel ceiling at a level reflecting the approximate number of nuclear reactors planned for purchase from the U.S. suppliers. We would, as a fallbak, be prepared to increase the ceiling to cover Iran’s full nuclear reactor requirement under the proviso that the fuel represents Iran’s entitlement from their proposed investment in an enrichment facility in the U.S….”

The US was also willing to allow Iran to reprocess the spent fuels [15] (whic produce plutonium): The US shall

“Continue to require U.S. approval for reprocessing of U.S. supplied fuel, while indicating that the establishment of a multinational reprocessing plant would be an important factor favoring such approval….”

Around the same time, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology signed a contract with Iran for providing training for Iranian nuclear engineers. At that time, the AEOI had a staff of about 150 nuclear physicists, about half of whom were from Argentina. The Shah increased the 1976 budget of Iran’s AEOI to $1 billion from about $31 million in 1975.

In National Security Decision Memorandum 324, dated April 20, 1976 and signed by General Brent Scowcroft, President Ford authorized the following negotiation position for the US with Iran. The US side should [17]:

“Seek a strong political commitment from Iran to pursue the multinational/binational reprocessing plant concept, according the U.S. the opportunity to participate in the project…..”

Note that when President Ford was offering Iran such nuclear concessions, Dick Cheney, the present Vice President, was the White House Chief of Staff, and Mr. Donald Rumsfeld was the US Defence Secretary. Therefore, the same Donald Rumsfeld who was closely involved with pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran in the 1976, and the same Donald Rumsfeld who went to Baghdad in December 1983 to inform Saddam Hussein that the US, although officially neutral in the Iran-Iraq war, was going to tilt towards Iraq (after which the US provided strong military and intelligence support to Saddam Hussein), now has a leading role in the invasion of Iraq and threatening Iran with military strikes.

Around the same time, Mr. Jeffrey Eerkens, a US uranium enrichment expert, travelled to Iran to obtain funding for an invention of his for a special laser that could be used for uranium enrichment. In fact, Mr. Eerkens obtained in 1978 a license from the US Department of Energy to sell four lasers to Iran [18]. The lasers were shipped to Iran in October 1978 (only five months before Islamic Revolution’s victory!). The IAEA reported recently that Iran had experimented with this technique about 10 years ago. However, apparently, the Eerkens lasers proved to be unworkable as a uranium enrichment instrument [19].

On April 12, 1977, Iran and the US signed an agreement to exchange nuclear technology and cooperate in nuclear safety. In an address to the symposium [20], “The US and Iran, An Increasing Partnership,” held in October 1977, Mr. Sydney Sober, a representative of the US State Department, declared that the Shah’s government was going to purchase EIGHT nuclear reactors from the US for generating electricity.

During his now-famous trip to Tehran on January 1, 1978, President Jimmy Carter and the Shah reached a new bilateral agreement for nuclear cooperation. The US agreed to grant Iran “most favored nation” status for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuels. Iran agreed to buy 6-8 light-water nuclear reactors from the US (subject to approval by the US Congress).

On July 10, 1978 (only 7 months before the Islamic Revolution’s victory) the draft of the US-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement was signed. The agreement was supposed to facilitate cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and to govern the export and transfer of equipment and material to Iran’s nuclear energy program. Iran was also to receive American technology and help in searching for uranium deposits [21]. On October 18, 1978, James R. Schlesinger, the US Energy Secretary, sent the agreement to President Carter for his signature. By then, however, Islamic Revolution had swept Iran, and the Shah had informed the US Ambassador Richard Sullivan that his plans for NPPs were on hold. Finally, in early 1979, the US stopped its supply of highly enriched uranium to Iran. Since Iran started its nuclear energy program in the early 1980s, the US has been completely hostile towards it.

The Neoconservatives’ Fantasies for Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Program

We now move the clock forward for about 30 years to the present times to see what the neocons and their sympathizers are saying about Iran’s nuclear energy program. We begin with a quote about the neocons [22]:

“The neocons hate two things: To be wrong and to be ignored.”

It is now an indisputable fact that Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. But, that never stopped the neocons and their sympathizers from advocating invasion of Iraq, which ultimately succeeded when the invasion began in March 2003. The disaster in Iraq has not, however, discouraged the necons and their sympathizers. They now have fantasies about Iran as if Iranians are not already suffering enough in the hands of Tehran’s right wing. Too many articles are being published by the necons and their sympathizers describing their fantasies about Iran. All one has to do is taking a look at what such publications as the Weekly Standard, the National Review, the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, the Washington Times, and many other publications and websites contain about Iran, or do a Google search on Messrs Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin, Reuel Marc Gerecht, and others. The goal of this part of the article is not to review what they write about Iran – it will take books to do so – but only to provide clues to neocons’ and their sympathizers’ thinking and their “action plans” for Iran’s nuclear energy facilities, and compare them with the US policy towards Iran’s nuclear program in the 1970s.

Before doing so, however, the author would like to point out that, having been a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists for nearly two decades – an organization dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons – he is only too aware of the danger that such weapons pose against the world, if they are in the hands of extremists. Therefore, the question is NOT whether Iran, under its present political conditions, should or should not have nuclear weapons. Rather, the point of this part of the article is to give wider public exposure to the neocons’ and their sympathizers’ fantasies about Iran, particularly among Iranians. Since they know very well that Iran is not Iraq to be overrun, and because they were bitten by “allies” such as Ahmad Chalabi and are well-aware that their Iranian allies – the monarchists and cultists – have no base of support inside Iran, they have begun having fantasies!

Exposing the neocons’ and their sympathizers’ fantasies is also important from another perspective: When it comes to opposing the spread of nuclear weapons (and it is not even certain yet whether Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons), the US has a double standard. Aside from Israel’s arsenal (which includes biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons) which no US politician dares to question or even officially acknowledge, the US does not oppose Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal – an immense threat to the stability of that part of the world, because Pakistan is an essentially failed State in a chaotic state. Its nuclear-armed military, populated by Islamic extremists, created the Taliban and still shields many of its leaders. Osama bin Laden could not have hidden for so long without the support of at least some elements of Pakistan’s military. Pakistan has a sectarian war in which its majority sunni population has been murdering the shiite minority, and its schools teach Islamic radicalism. Abdul Ghadeer Khan, the founder and owner of Pakistan’s nuclear supermarket, could not have operated freely for so long without the support of at least some elements of Pakistan’s military. Even now, Pakistan does not allow any foreigners, including experts and inspectors of the IAEA, to interview Mr. Khan. However, instead of trying to alleviate this dangerous situation, the US has granted Pakistan “special friend” status.

But, the US double standards do not end with Israel and Pakistan. The US has exported nuclear technology to China; has offered a non-aggresion pact and economic incentives to North Korea, and never objected to Argentine and South Africa (which developed 16 nuclear bombs in the 1980s) acquiring nuclear technology and know-how. It was recently announced that South Korea and Taiwan both have been involved with enriching uranium, producing plutonium, and even nuclear bomb making, yet the revelation did not provoke any reaction by the US. Brazil, a signatory to the NPT, had until very recently refused to allow the IAEA full inspection of its uranium enrichment facilities that are under construction, yet, although Brazil provided nuclear materials to Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1980s, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell declared on October 5, 2004, that Brazil’s behavior “does not concern the US.”

Here, we review the positions of two pundits regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program. They are not at the American Enterprise Institute, the hotbed of neoconservatism, and may not consider themselves as neoconservative pundits. However, as we show below, their positions resonate nicely with those of the neocons.

The first pundit whose “positions” regarding Iran’s nuclear energy facilities we would like to discuss is Mr. Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute. In a recent book chapter [23] entitled, “The Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action,” Mr. Eisenstadt suggested the following covert actions, among others, against Iran’s nuclear facilities (see pages 121 and 122 of Ref. [23]) (the emphasis with capital letters is mine):

“harassment or MURDER of key Iranian SCIENTISTS or technicians;”

“introduction of FATAL DESIGN FLAWS into critical reactor, centrifuge, or weapons components during their production, to ensure CATASTROPHIC FAILURE DURING USE;”

“introduction of destructive viruses into Iranian computer systems controlling the production of components or the operation of facilities;”

“damage or destruction of critical facilities through SABOTAGE…”

There are at least three important aspects of the above covert options to consider:

(a) One wonders whether Mr. Eisenstadt’s suggestion for murdering Iranian scientists or technicians is not tantamount to state-sponsored terrorism. If so, it appears that in Mr. Eisenstadt’s view terrorism is committed only by weaker countries or groups against powerful nations!

(b) Likewise, it appears that Mr. Eisenstadt does not consider sabotage as either state-sponsored terrorism, or against international laws. It appears that in his view, international laws are good only so long as they advance the interests of powerful nations!

(c) It is completely clear that Mr. Eisenstadt has no notion of what constitutes a catastrophic failure in an industrial complex. We are talking about a system which includes nuclear reactors and nuclear materials. Any catastrophic accident or system failure in any large-scale industrial complex, let alone a nuclear complex, is one that has immense consequences in terms of loss of lives, long-term health problems, human suffering, and economic and environmental damage. We only need to recall what happened in Bhopal, India – a non-nuclear accident – and in Chernobyl, Ukraine – a nuclear accident – to see the consequences of a catastrophic industrial failure. The people of those areas are still paying with their lives the cost of those accidents, with Chernobyl’s total casualty reaching over 30,000.

To further boost his case for the type of covert actions he was proposing, Mr. Eisenstadt stated that [23],

“it might not be possible for Iranian authorities to determine, for instance, whether the death of a scientist was due to natural or un-natural causes, or whether damage to a critical facility was due to an industrial accident or sabotage.”

Consider the reasoning: Mr. Eisenstadt seems to be of the opinion that the people who run Iran’s nuclear program know nothing about anything. He appears to have forgotten that the same Iranian authorities managed to set up the complete cycle for enriching uranium over a period of 18 years and hide it from the world.

It came to the author’s attention that Mr. Eisenstadt, in an e-mail that he sent to the panelists of the panel, “Assessing the Iranian Nuclear Program: Technical Capabilities and Intent,” which was part of a workshop entitled, “Iran’s Nuclear Program” (held on Tuesday November 9, 2004, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.), tried to put a spin on what he had stated in his article quoted above. In that panel Mr. Eisenstadt’s proposal for creating a catastrophic failure was questioned and criticized by Professor Najmedin Meshkati of the University of Southern California, an internationally-recognized authority on safety of nuclear reactors. In response to Professor Meshkati’s criticism, Mr. Eisenstadt stated the following [24] in his e-mail:

“Had I been there [in the panel] I would have pointed out that the term ‘catastrophic failure’ is used in industry to describe ‘failure, often sudden and without warning, that jeopardizes the acceptable performance of an entire system or assembly.’ (This definition is from the website, which describes itself as the worldwide search engine of the chemical industry). “Catastrophic” refers to how the failure affects the operation of the system, not its impact on the people operating the facility or living in its vicinity. There are no doubt ways to sabotage a nuclear power plant (if one were inclined to do so and had appropriate access) to prevent reactor start-up or to force it to shut-down without creating a hazard to the work force or the peoples of the region.”

The author has been involved with the chemical and petroleum industry for thirty years. In addition to being a professor of chemical engineering, carrying out research (funded by leading funding agencies in the US) and publishing extensively (over 220 papers and 4 books) in these areas, the author has also been, and currently is, a consultant to many industrial coorporations. Mr. Eisenstadt’s “clarification” is, in the author’s opinion, nothing but hair spiting and distorting what is widely known, and does nothing but adding insult to the injury of his original suggestions. The suggestion that one can cause catastrophic failure in a nuclear facility “without creating a hazard to the work force or to the peoples of the region” is absolutely outrageous.

Perhaps one of the best responses to the “clarification” of Mr. Eisenstadt, and his claim that he was only discussing some possibilities, was given by Dr. Guive Mirfendereski, an international laws expert and a frequent commentator on Iran and the Middle East. In an e-mail to Mr. Eisenstadt, Dr. Mirfendereski wrote [25]:

“You are not in a scientific conference where all manner of theories are proposed, or in a sci-fi convention. Since the conditions of flawlessness of execution are never met, a catastrophic failure will produce catastrophic consequences. To even suggest such a thing in theory is reckless and without regard to the human toll that it will engender. Assume that the catastrophic failure occurs in Bushehr and before you know it the Iranians [who work there] fail to manage the failure properly – the Bhopal or Chernobyl style cloud or waterborne contamination then begins to waft over into the Persian Gulf and the neighboring countries, which include Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq, where we [the US] have troops and will have for a foreseeable future. Will you then stand up and say, oops we goofed, the intel was faulty? Instead of coming up with Agent-Orange type solution inspired by an over-exaggerated sense of Bond-esque machismo, maybe the time has come for you and your cohorts to talk about befriending a country without whose friendship in the past twenty-odd years we [the US] have managed to screw up everything we touched in the Middle East – ironically to the ultimate detriment of the welfare of the citizens of a certain country that wags our [the US’] national policy.”

The depth of Mr. Eisenstadt’s lack of understanding of what is happening in the Middle East and what his proposals might do to that region can be seen where he states in his article that [23]:

“Successful U.S. prevention would require exceptionally complete intelligence; near flawless military execution; and deft post-strike diplomacy to mitigate an anti-American nationalist backlash, deter retaliation, and, most importantly, ensure that military action does not poison pro-American sentiment or derail the movement for political change in Iran. The complex, daunting, and somewhat contradictory nature of these challenges (e.g., successful prevention could harm short-term prospects for political change and complicate long-term prospects for rapprochement with a new Iran) only underscores the importance of exhausting diplomatic options before giving serious consideration to military action.”

In other words, Mr. Eisenstadt believes that the US can cause a catastrophic failure in Iran’s nuclear energy facilities, with unforeseen human, economic, and environmental consequences, but if the US only has “deft post-strike diplomacy” it can prevent a backlash and piosoning of pro-American sentiment, or derailment of the movement for political change in Iran. What Mr. Eisenstadt is saying is, in fact, rehashing of what all the neocons have been saying: That the reason for the anti-US feelings in the Middle East is just bad public relations, and has nothing to do with what the US has actually been doing there. In other words, as a Bush Administration official recently stated, the US should “create reality” as it goes ahead with its policies in the Middle East.

The second pundit whose position regarding Iran’s nuclear energy facilities we discuss is Mr. Patrick Clawson. He is deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank. Similar to Mr. Eisenstadt, Mr. Clawson has been advocating sabotage, and creating industrial accidents in Iran’s nuclear energy facilities. In a recent article Mr. Clawson stated that [26]:

“In an ideal world, the United States could disrupt Iran’s nuclear program through covert means, such as corrupting software programs.”

In another recent article [27] Mr. Clawson was quoted as going further, stating that:

“The idea that the only contingency plan available is to use U.S. air raids is not true. Given the shoddy design of the Russian nuclear plants whose blueprints Iran is using for its facilities, one could well imagine that there could be catastrophic industrial accidents.”

However, it was in the Workshop in Washington (mentioned above) that Mr. Clawson stated his position most “eloquently.” His remarks followed up Mr. Henry Sokolski’s response to Professor Najmedin Meshkati’s inquiry about suggestion for sabotaging Iran’s nuclear system and Mr. Eisenstadt’s written statements quoted above. The following remarks were transcribed verbatim from the C-SPAN live and then re-broadcast of the Workshop on Iran’s Nuclear Program. Mr. Clawson said (the emphasis with capital letters are the author’s) [28]:

“Look, if we could find a way in which we could introduce computer viruses which caused the complete shutdown of the Bushehr system before it became operational, that would be DELIGHTFUL.”

“If we could find ways in which these very complicated centrifuges, which are spinning at such high speeds, could develop stability problems and fly apart, and the cascade [of the centrifuges] could be DESTROYED, I think that would be DELIGHTFUL.”

The readers surely note that empty centrifuges do not spin! They only spin at high speeds when they contain uranium hexafluoride which is in gaseous state. So, destroying the cascade of the centrifuges only implies rapidly spreading the uranium compound everywhere, from which Mr. Clawson would derive delight. He continued:

“And, indeed, if we could find a way to create an industrial accident of the scale of the Three Mile Island which did not cause a single fatality, which would prevent Bushehr from becoming operational, I think that would also be very HELPFUL.”

So, the contention is that a nuclear accident of the type and scale of the Three Mile Island would not cause any fatality! Clearly, Mr. Clawson has not done his homework. The author invites Mr. Clawson and the interested readers to watch the award-winning video, “Three Mile Island Revisited” [29]. To quote, the video

“directly challenges the claim of the nuclear industry and government that ‘no one died’ from the core meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in 1979, America’s worst nuclear disaster. Through the testimony of area residents and scientific experts, the documentary presents compelling evidence that cancer deaths and birth defects increased in the area surrounding the Pennsylvania plant.”

The author also suggests that Mr. Clawson and the interested readers read, “People Died at Three Mile Island,” chapter 14 of a seminal book [30] to learn about the chilling facts about this nuclear accident, from birth defects and increased rate of child mortality, to increased cancer deaths in that area.

Mr. Clawson then continued,

“So, there are a whole variety of mechanisms that could be used to stop Iran’s nuclear program, that would be much less dangerous than some of the other methods that we are talking about. We are talking about military strikes. I hate to tell you this, but military strikes kill people, and that fact we have to take into consideration.”

So, Mr. Clawson was apparently worried about loss of human lives as a result of military strikes. But he immediately revealed his true colour (if he already had not by making the statement about a Three Mile Island-type of accident):

“If we could find ways to bring about industrial accidents, that offer good prospects of not endangering human life, but may UNFORTUNATELY CAUSE SOME COLLATERAL DAMAGE, then that’s a plan that we have to consider.”

Therefore, Mr. Clawson immediately contradicted himself and conceded that industrial accidents of the type he is talking about do cause some (how much?) collateral damage.

After the 1995 agreement was signed by Iran and Russia for completing the Bushehr reactor, the Clinton administration began charging that the plutonium that one can extract from the nuclear waste that the reactor would produce could be used by Iran for making nuclear weapons. However, this issue was addressed by Iran and Russia, when they negotiated an agreement by which the nuclear wastes from the Bushehr reactor would be returned to Russia. In fact, the Bushehr reactor, at which most of Messrs Eisenstadt and Clawson fury and covert plans are aimed, is believed by many experts to be incapable of producing plutonium suitable for making a nuclear bomb. For example, according to Thomas Stauffer [31],

“The reactor at Bushehr is the wrong kind of nuclear reactor for producing weapons-grade fissile material. It will produce the wrong kind of plutonium…. It can be operated only in the wrong way with regard to yielding plutonium, and it is the wrong kind of reactor as well, in the sense that a facility such as Iran’s is easily amenable to close surveillance, not lending itself at all to any covert diversion – of even the wrong kind of plutonium.”

However, the neocons and their sympathizers would have none of these. The only thing that would satisfy this group is the complete destruction of Iran’s nuclear energy facility, regardless of its human, environmental and economic consequences. Thus, having “successfully” completed their “Project for the New Iraqi Century,” the neocons and their sympathizers have begun having fantasies about Iran. We already have neocons among Iran’s right wing in Tehran who have been trying to suppress Iran’s democratic movement. We should look forward to seeing Iranian neo-monarchists and neo-cultists as well, the US neocons’ natural allies.


It is clear that the Frankstein that the US now calls Iran’s nuclear program was conceived by the Shah and his government, with the direct assistance and strong encouragement (many believe pressure) by the US. Not only did the US want the Shah to develop nuclear infrastructure and build nuclear reactors (hence inspiring him to start the work for building nuclear bombs), but also offered him uranium enrichment technology, the main point of contention between the US and its European allies, and Iran. That was, of course, because the Shah was the US’ dictator, having put him in power after he had been run out of Iran in 1953. The present reactionary right wing in Tehran is home grown. That appears to be the main difference between the Shah and his regime and Tehran’s present right wingers.

Nearly 27 years ago, when the author moved to the US for his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, the neocons and pundits such as Messrs Clawson and Eisenstadt were considered as belonging to fringe groups on the far right. Today, such groups are gradually becoming the “mainstream” of the American politics. With the neocons being in power for the next four years, we may have to develop new meanings for “fringe groups,” “far right,” etc. In that case, the author shudders at the thought of what the new “fringe groups” or the “far right” may constitute, if the lunatic neocons represent the “mainstream.”


[1] US Department of State, “Atoms for Peace Agreement with Iran,” Department of State Bulletin 36 (April 15, 1957).

[2] G.A. Morgan, “The Current Internal Political Situation in Iran,” in Digital National Security Archive, secret internal paper dated February 11, 1961.

[3] Digital National Security Archive, January 29, 1980, “US Supplied Nuclear Material to Iran.”

[4] D. Albright, “An Iranian Bomb?,” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 51, No. 1 (January 1995).

[5] “Nuclear Plant Study Started,” Kayhan International (December 19, 1972).

[6] Tehran Magazine (March 18, 1974), page 2.

[7] A.A. Alam, “Alam’s Diaries”, Volume 4, edited by A. Alikhani (Maziar Press, Tehran, 2001), pp. 54-58. Mr. Alam had left a copy of the letter with his diaries, which is reprinted in the book. These documents may also be found in, “Issues and Talking Points: Intensified Bilateral Cooperation,” Department of State Briefing in Digital National Security Archive;

[8] A.A. Alam, “Alam’s Diaries”, Volume 4, edited by A. Alikhani (Maziar Press, Tehran, 2001), page 7.

[9] “More Fingers on Nuclear Trigger?” Christian Science Monitor (June 25, 1974).

[10] According to Ref. [9], Iran’s embassy in France issued a statement, denying that the Shah made that statement.

[11] Der Spiegel, February 8, 1975.

[12] A. Etemad, “Iran,” in, “European Non-Proliferation Policy,” edited by H. Mueller (Oxford University Press, London, 1987), page 9.

[13] A.A. Alam, “Alam’s Diaries”, Volume 1, edited by A. Alikhani (Maziar Press, Tehran, 2001), page 107.

[14] See President Gerald R. Ford’s Presidential Documents at

[15] See President Gerald R. Ford’s Presidential Documents at

[16] Department of State Secret Report, “Current Foreign Relations: US-Iran Commission cements bilateral ties; Iran and Iraq agree to settle differences.” See,

[17] See President Gerald R. Ford’s Presidential Documents at

[18] L.S. Spector, “Going Nuclear: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons 1986-1987” (Ballinger Publishing, Cambridge, 1987), page 46.

[19] L.S. Spector and J.R. Smith, “Nuclear Ambitions: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons, 1989-1990” (Westview Press, Boulder, 1990), page 205.

[20] A. Etemad and N. Meshkati, “The US-Iran Nuclear Dispute: Dr Mohamed ElBaradei’s Mission Possible to Iran,” Iran News (July 13, 2003).

[21] Department of State Memorandum, “Iran: The US-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement,” October 20, 1978.

[22] This beautiful and insightful quote is not the author’s. He read it in an article but, unfortunately, could not locate its original source. The author would be grateful to any reader who can provide him with the original source of the quote.

[23] “Checking Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions,” edited by H. Sokolski and P. Clawson (Carlisle, PA, U.S. Army War College, 2004). The document can be accessed on-line at: Those readers who may feel depressed after reading Mr. Eisenstadt’s chapter in this book, may consider reading the chapter by Mr. Rob Sobhani for some relief and entertainment. (That chapter is, however, the subject of a forthcoming article by the author.)

[24] The author is grateful to Professor Najm Meshkati for sharing with him the e-mail on December 6, 2004.

[25] The author is grateful to Dr. Guive Mirfendereski for granting him permission, on December 6, 2004, to quote him here.

[26] P. Clawson, “How to Rein in Iran Without Bombing It,” the Los Angeles Times (Friday October 15, 2004).

[27] S. Efron, “U.S. Options Few in Feud With Iran,” the Los Angeles Times (Monday December 13, 2004).

[28] The author is grateful to Professor Najm Meshkati for his invaluable help with transcribing what Mr. Clawson stated.

[29] The video was produced by Steve Jambeck and Karl Grossman, and is about 30 minutes long.

[30] H. Wasserman and N. Solomon (with R. Alvarez and E. Walters), “Killing Our Own, the Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation” (Dell Publishing Co., New York, 1982).

[31] T.R. Stauffer, “Unlike Dimona, Iran’s Bushehr Reactor Not Useful for Weapons-Grade Plutonium,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (September 2003), p. 28; see,

Original URL:

back to top

Part VI: The European Union’s Proposal, Iran’s Defiance, and the Emerging Crisis


Since February 2003 Iran’s program for constructing the complete cycle for producing enriched uranium – the fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear power plants (NPPs) – has been the subject of intense international debates. Over this period, the experts and inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been visiting Iran on a regular basis to inspect its nuclear facilities. The information and data that have been collected by the IAEA have revealed sustained and determined efforts by Iran since 1985 for constructing the complete cycle for producing enriched uranium. The Bush administrtation has been arguing that the primary purpose of Iran’s nuclear program is developing nuclear weapons. The European Union (EU), which has very extensive commercial relations with Iran; Russia, which is completing the construction of a NPP in Bushehr (on the shores of the Persian Gulf), and Japan, which has signed a lucrative oil agreement with Iran for developing Iran’s giant Azaadegaan oil field, have all pressed Iran hard, demanding that it reveal all the details of its nuclear program.

In a series of articles that were posted on in October 2003, the author provided a brief history of Iran’s nuclear program (Part I); described in broad terms the reasons that justify Iran’s nuclear energy program as economically, politically, and environmentally viable (Part II), and explained the crisis that was emerging at that time (October 2003) in the relationship between Iran and the IAEA (Part III). In Part IV, posted on on December 7, 2004, the author presented a detailed economical, political, and environmental analysis of Iran’s nuclear energy program, using the most reliable statistics on Iran’s current energy consumption and resources. Part V, posted on December 22, 2004, described in detail the key role that the United States (US) played from the 1950s to the 1970s in starting Iran’s nuclear program. We showed that not only did the US push the Shah to buy its NPPs, but also offered Iran the technology for uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent nuclear reactor fuel if Iran agreed to buy eight US-manufactured NPPs, assertions that were repeated later on in an article published in the Washington Post [1]. We also compared the history of the US involvement with Iran’s nuclear program with the current thinking of the neo-conservatives and their sympathizers on how to prevent the Bushehr reactor from operating, a reactor that, under no conceivable circumstances, can be used for making a nuclear bomb [2].

A major goal of the series has been to debunk the “argument” that the US neo-conservatives and their allies have been making, namely, that given Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves, it does not need nuclear energy. The neo-conservatives and their allies, ranging from Israel to Iran’s anti-democratic groups (from the terrorist cultist group to the monarchists) and quasi-democratic groups (those whose words wish seemingly nothing for Iran but a secular democratic republic, but whose deeds indicate otherwise [3]) are the only groups that are still hanging onto this absurd argument [4]. The analysis presented in Parts II and IV of this series (and their short versions published elsewhere [5,6]) have made their impact: Iran’s nuclear energy program has been transformed from one perceived not to be needed by, or suitable for, Iran to one for which the EU is willing to GUARANTEE the supply of nuclear fuels and advanced nuclear technology (see below), provided that Iran gives up its right for having the complete cycle for producing enriched uranium.

Another goal of this series has been to inform the public, especially the Iranians who live outside Iran, about the benefits and perils of the nuclear energy program that the present Iranian government is pursuing. At the same time, giving wide public exposure to the neoconservatives’ thinking about Iran is particularly important.

The Board of Governors (BOG) of the IAEA has had periodic special meetings to review the progress in assessing Iran’s nuclear program. In its special meeting held on Monday November 29, 2004, the IAEA reported to the BOG its latest findings on Iran’s program, and due to the Paris agreement that Iran had signed with the EU troika – Britain, France, and Germany – for suspending its uranium enrichment program, no further special meeting of the BOG of the IAEA was supposed to be scheduled; that is, Iran’s case before the BOG was supposed to have gone back to being a normal, un-urgent case.

However, as usual, recent developments have taken unexpected turns, as a result of which Iran’s case before the BOG of the IAEA has, once again, become special. The reason for the latest twist in this saga is that, in mid August, after Iran rejected the long-awaited proposal by the EU troika for curtailment of its uranium enrichment activity in return for economic and political concessions (see below), it restarted the Esfahan facility for converting uranium yellow cake to uranium tetra- and hexafluoride – gaseous compounds (at elevated temperatures) that are used to produce enriched uranium. However, Iran relaunched the process after informing the IAEA which is now monitoring the Esfahan facility. The relaunch of the Esfahan facility was against the Paris agreement according to which Iran was obligated not to start any part of the complete cycle for producing enriched uranium, so long as it was negotiating with the EU troika.

It must be emphasized that producing uranium tetra- and hexafluoride is NOT considered by the IAEA as part of the uranium enrichment process. But, in the highly politicized and polarized environment that exists between Iran, the EU troika, and the US (which has worsened since the election of Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s new President), even a process as harmless, by itself, as producing uranium compounds causes much tension. We must also realize that the production of tetra- and hexafluoride in Esfahan is apparently still beset by technical problems. Various reports indicate that the uranium compounds produced there are not suitable for enrichment (see below).

In response to Iran’s action, the EU troika has angrily suspended its negotiations with Iran, taking the case back before the BOG of the IAEA, and threatening Iran with a referral to the United Nations Security Council. We must, however, realize that the only valid basis for referring Iran to the Security Council is its breach of the nuclear non-proliferation regime as described in the NPT. However, the IAEA has yet to find any evidence that Iran was or is engaged in a nuclear weapons program. In fact, the IAEA just announced that its tests vindicated Iran’s claims that traces of highly enriched uranium found two years ago at Iran’s nuclear facilities are from the equipment imported from Pakistani (see below).

The goal of the present part of the series is twofold:

(1) We describe the developments that have led to the present state of affairs between Iran and the EU troika. In the author’s opinion, much has been made of the proposal that the EU troika has submitted to Iran, whereas a careful reading of the proposal reveals that while Iran is being asked to give up some of its fundamental rights under the NPT agreement, when it comes to the most important part of an overall agreement between the EU troika and Iran, namely, the security aspects, the EU proposal falls severely short; it does not offer Iran any concrete security guarantees. At the same time, there has been little discussion of what the author considers a reasonable proposal that Iran made last March to its EU counterparts regarding its nuclear fuel cycle, which was, however, ignored completely by the EU troika and the US.

(2) We then discuss whether it is in Iran’s national interest to start its full nuclear fuel cycle without reaching a formal agreement with the EU troika and, through them, the US.

Fall 2003: Iran’s Weak Position and the Sa’d Abaad Agreement

On October 21, 2003, Iran signed the Sa’d Abaad agreement with the European troika. According to this agreement,

“The Iranian authorities reaffirmed that nuclear weapons have no place in Iran’s defence doctrine and that its nuclear programme and activities have been exclusively in the peaceful domain. They reiterated Iran’s commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and informed the ministers that:

a. The Iranian Government has decided to engage in full co-operation with the IAEA to address and resolve through full transparency all requirements and outstanding issues of the Agency and clarify and correct any possible failures and deficiencies within the IAEA.

b. To promote confidence with a view to removing existing barriers for co-operation in the nuclear field:

i. having received the necessary clarifications, the Iranian Government has decided to sign the IAEA Additional Protocol and commence ratification procedures. As a confirmation of its good intentions the Iranian Government will continue to co-operate with the Agency in accordance with the Protocol in advance of its ratification.

ii. while Iran has a right within the nuclear non-proliferation regime to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes it has decided voluntarily to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities as defined by the IAEA…”

These were important PRACTICAL concessions made by Iran. What did Iran gain in return? According to the agreement,

“The Foreign Ministers of Britain, France and Germany welcomed the decisions of the Iranian Government and informed the Iranian authorities that:

Their governments recognise the right of Iran to enjoy peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

a. In their view the Additional Protocol is in no way intended to undermine the sovereignty, national dignity or national security of its State Parties….”

which are nothing but stating the rights that Iran already enjoyed under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Therefore, in essence, Iran gained nothing practical by signing the Sa’d Abaad Agreement, except postponing a serious confrontation with the West. The question then is, why was Iran willing to sign such an agreement which was clearly indicative of its weak position (at that time)? Several factors contributed to Iran’s decision to sign the Sa’d Abaad Agreement, some of which are as follows.

(1) Iran had not told the world about its nuclear energy program for 18 years. Although in terms of Iran’s legal obligations towards the NPT, hidding the nuclear facilities was NOT illegal [7], the fact is that the world was suspicious of Iran. At the same time, even if Iran was, or still is, trying to make a nuclear bomb (and this is still unclear), most experts agree that it is still years away from achieving this goal [8], simply because Iran does not appear to have solved all the technical problems regarding the enrichment process (see below). Therefore, temporary transparency and openness could help Iran learn more about the process.

(2) In October 2003 the US and Britain had appeared to be the absolute victors in Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime had been overthrown swiftly, and there was not yet any strong indication that the Sunnies, together with foreign terrorists, would fight back and create the mess that Iraq is today. President Bush had already declared “the end of major combat operations,” and had boasted about “mission accomplished.” His approval rating was high, and there was still strong support by a majority of Americans for invasion of Iraq. In short, Mr. Bush’s “faith-based propaganda” [9] was still working, and had not broken down yet.

(3) The claim that Iraq had a “robust nuclear program” [10] was still believable. The search for the program had only begun recently, and many believed that it would be discovered sooner or later. Therefore, why would the world not believe the same claim about Iran?

(4) The energy market, and in particular the oil market, was not nearly as hot as what it is today. The oil price was in the $30 range (compared with the $60 range today), and there was still considerable oil excess capacity, implying that if Iran’s oil exports were eliminated, other oil exporters could increase their production and compensate for the loss, just as they had done for Iraq’s production. Moreover, there was “serious” talk of increasing Iraq’s oil production to 4 million barrel/day, which has, of course, never materialized.

(5) Internally, the Majles, Iran’s parliament, was still controlled by vocal reformists some of whom did not want any nuclear energy program (for example, some members of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization, and the Islamic Iran Participation Front), while the rest, although supporting the program, were advocating complete transparency in dealing with the IAEA (with which the author agrees completely). Moreover, Mr. Mohammad Khatami was still Iran’s President, a man who wanted to make detente with the West not confront it.

In summary, Iran was in an extremely weak situation, and HAD TO sign the Sa’d Abaad Agreement.

Summer 2005: Iran’s Strong and Defiant Position

What has changed in little less two years that has made Iran confident (or, perhaps, overconfident) that it can confront the West and come out ahead? Consider the following:

(1) Unlike Fall 2003, the world now knows much about Iran’s nuclear program. Yes, there are still serious issues to be resolved (see below), but the fact is that the IAEA has not been able to find any credible evidence – a smoking gun so to speak – that would indicate that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb.

(2) Unlike Fall 2003, the insurgency in Iraq is in full swing with no end in sight, which has resulted in high US casualties, as well as huge civilian casualties among the Iraqi population. Even the Taliban are making a come back in Afghanistan. President Bush’s approval rating has tumbled to high thirties or low forties, some of the lowest by any president. Nearly two-third of Americans now believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and that it has made the US LESS secure.

(3) No nuclear weapon, or any “robust program” for making them, was ever discovered in Iraq. Given that right before the invasion the IAEA had declared that there was no such program in Iraq, and that it has also failed to find the same in Iran, it would be difficult to believe that Iran is making a nuclear bomb unless, of course, new dramatic evidence is uncovered.

(4) The oil market is in turmoil. The oil price is in the neighbourhood of $70/barrel, and there is almost no excess capacity in other oil exporting nations left to compensate for Iran’s exports – currently about 2.7 million barrel/day – if they are lost due to a confrontation between Iran and the US. At the same time, Iran will make about $60-70 billion in exports, and its foreign debts and obligations are minimal, only about $10 billion. In short, Iran’s vulnerability to a worldwide economic sanction (as unlikely as it is) could not be any less.

(5) Through relatively democratic elections, a Shiite-dominated government is now ruling Iraq, led by men who spent years in Iran in exile. When Iraq’s Prime Minister, Dr. Ebrahim Al-Jafari, who speaks Persian fluently, visited Iran recently, he put a wreath on Ayatollah Khomeini’s grave. He admitted Iraq’s responsibility and fault for starting the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, and asked Iran to help it train its armed forces. When Mr. Kamal Kharrazi, Iran’s (former) Foreign Minister, visited Iraq recently, he visited Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most powerful man in Iraq, if not in the entire Shiite world. Ayatollah Sistani has never granted an audience to any Western official. At the same time, radical Iranian elements and factions can create immense problems in Iraq, way beyond what is currently happening there.

(6) China and India, the two most populous nations, have signed huge contracts with Iran, worth well over $100 billion, to import oil and gas from Iran, hence making them dependent on Iran. India is the largest democracy in the world, while China is the up-and-coming superpower. Hence, these countries provide Iran with political support. In particular, it is plausible (but not certain) that China may veto any resolution against Iran, if its nuclear energy program is referred to the UN Security Council. Russia might do the same, since it has great stake in its nuclear copperation with Iran. But, their veto is not by any means guaranteed.

(7) The emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO goes back to 1996 when China initiated the Shanghai Five, which included all the current SCO members except for Uzbekistan. The purpose of SCO is to form a network of cooperation among the member States, including military security, economic development, trade and cultural exchange. In its most recent meeting on July 5, 2005, the SCO invited Iran to participate as an observer, which Iran did. Iran is likely to join the SCO sometime in the near future, which will provide it with further political support. The SCO has started asserting itself and flexing its political muscles, with Uzbekistan recently asking the US to evacuate its military forces out of the country, which the US will do soon. Clearly, if the US troops leave Central Asia, it will be an important positive development for Iran.

(8) Iran has started receiving the proceeds from its oil exports in Euro rather than dollar. Over a period time, it will stop receiving dollar altogether, and will completely switch to Euro. This will not only provide more financial stability and security for Iran’s foreign exchange reserves, but also will have a negative impact on the oil market in New York.

(9) Internally, the Majles, the presidency, the armed forces, and the judiciary are all controlled by Iran’s right wing. Although Iran’s right itself is factionalized, but history indicates that when it comes to a common enemy, it becomes completely united.

Thus, Iran is in a strong position which explains its belligerence and defiance. At the same time, unlike what is claimed in the Western Press, Iran’s defiance is NOT due to the election of Mr. Ahmadinejad as its new president, rather, as the above discussion should make it clear, is due mostly to the international developments.

Iran’s Proposal to the EU Troika

In addition to the above, what contributes to Iran’s position strong is the following. For sometime Iran was focused on providing the EU troika with the “objective guarantees” of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. In fact, on March 23, 2005, Iran submitted to the EU troika a plan of objetive guarantees with the following elements [11]:

(1) Spent reactor fuels will not be reprocessed by Iran, so that no plutonium can be extracted to be used for bomb making.

(2) Iran will forego plutonium production through a heavy water reactor.

(3) Only low-enriched uranium will be produced.

(4) A limit will be imposed on the enrichment level, to be used solely as fuel for reactors.

(5) A limit will be imposed on the amount of enrichment, restricting it to what is needed for Iran’s reactors.

(6) All the low-enriched uranium will be converted immediately to fuel rods for use in reactors (fuel rods cannot be further enriched).

(7) The number of centrifuges in Natanz can be limited, at least at the beginning. The full operation of the fuel cycle will be incremental, beginning with the least sensitive part, such as uranium conversion.

(8) The IAEA will have permanent on-site presence at all the facilities for uranium conversion and enrichment.

Items (1)-(7) that Iran has offered to limit, or to give up altogether, are actually allowed by Article IV of the NPT. Therefore, any objective person who is even remotely familiar with producing fuels for nuclear reactors would agree that what Iran proposed in March 2005 was a substantial, if not complete, step towards providing the EU troika and the US with the “objective guarantees” that they are supposedly looking for. In fact, item (8) goes even beyond the provisions of the Additional Protocol on the NPT that Iran signed in December 2003, and has been implementing ever since. At the minimum, Iran’s proposal could have been the basis for further negotiations. But, the EU negotiators never responded to Iran’s offer; they simply ignored it, hence demonstrating their nations’ utter arrogance [12].

The Proposal of the EU Troika to Iran

The long-awaited proposal by the EU troika, “The Framework for a Long-Term Agreement,” was submitted to Iran in early August. In the author’s opinion, the proposal does contain several important elements. For example,

(1) it tries to force Iran to commit to combating terrorism (article 9), hence stopping many adventuresome aspects of Iran’s foreign policy over the past twenty five years, such as supporting radical groups in the Middle East, which have done nothing but grossly damaging Iran’s national interests;

(2) it recognizes Iran’s right to developing the infrastructure for peaceful use of nuclear energy and research (articles 14 and 15) (these rights have, however, been recognized by the NPT);

(3) it recognizes Iran’s right to have access to “international nuclear technology market” (article 18);

(4) it offers to provide expert help for safety aspects of Iran’s program (article 20b);

(5) it offers to facilitate Iran’s access to the international market for nuclear reactors fuels (article 23);

(6) it offers to help Iran develop a “buffer store” of 5 years of fuel supplies for the reactors in case either the supplies dry up, or the suppliers refuse to provide Iran more fuels for the reactors (article 30), and

(7) it proposes a mechanism for addressing the situation that arises in (6) (articles 27-29), although the mechanism is tedious.

However, certain aspects of the EU proposal are either against the existing international agreements, or their language is vague and leaves a lot to be desired. For example, the proposal demands that Iran (emphasis with capital letters added)

“make a legally binding commitment not to withdraw from the NPT and to keep all Iranian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguarded UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES” (article 36a).

The commitment not to withdraw from the NPT is even against the NPT itself, which allows the member States to withdraw from the agreement, subject to giving a 90 days notice to the IAEA, if the States believe that abiding by the terms of the NPT threatens their national security, and withdrawing from the NPT is in their “Supreme Interest.”

At the same time, why is Iran’s case so different that requires new skewed interpretation of the NPT’s provisions, or creating new obligations for Iran that do not even exist in the international agreements regarding nuclear weapons? If Iran has violated certain aspects of the Safeguards Agreement by not reporting to the IAEA what it has been doing (which is still a matter of debate), it has not been the LONE violator. Over the past year alone, the IAEA has reported that South Korea, Taiwan, and Egypt have, at various times, violated the provisions of the NPT by secretly engaging in experiments on uranium enrichment and even bomb making. Brazil, a country that provided nuclear assistance to Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1980, refused, for a long time, granting permission to the IAEA to visit and inspect its uranium enrichment facilities under construction. Where is the international outcry over these violations?

Therefore, if Iran is to make a commitment not to withdraw from the NPT, the logical first step is to revise the terms of the NPT agreement, so that the commitment would become binding for ALL the member States, not just Iran. In addition, the revisions must address the all important issue of what to do about nuclear powers that are NOT signatories to the NPT, namely, India, Israel, and Pakistan, all in Iran’s vicinity, with the latter two posing great threats to Iran’s national security.

In addition, the “Political and Security Co-Operation” section of the EU proposal leaves a lot to be desired. Let us review a portion of it (article 4):

“Within the context of an overall agreement and Iran’s fulfilment of its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the United Kingdom and France would be prepared to reaffirm to Iran the unilateral security assurances given on 6 April 1995, and referred to in United Nations Security-Council Resolution 984 (1995). Specifically:

the United Kingdom and the French Republic would reaffirm to Iran that they will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in the case of an invasion or ANY attack on them, their dependent territories, their armed forces, or other troops, their allies or on a State towards which they have a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State….”

Such guarantees actually leave open the possibility of a nuclear or even non-nuclear attack on Iran because, as is clear in the above paragraph, immediately after promising not to attack Iran, a long list of “exceptional” cases which can provoke an attack is mentioned. Moreover, Iraq was invaded and occupied not through a nuclear attack, but by conventional forces. So, the question is, where is the guarantee that Britain and France (and, for that matter, Germany) will not participate in a war similar to the invasion of Iraq using conventional forces?

Even if full guarantees, with no ifs, buts, and exceptions, are provided, where is the guarantee that the US will not attack Iran? Where is the guarantee that its proxies, such as Israel, will not attack Iran? The proposal is silent about these aspects, except where it states that (article 4b):

“the United Kingdom and the French Republic would recall and reaffirm, as Permanent Members of the Security Council, to seek immediate Security Council action to provide assistance, in accordance with the Charter [of the UN], to any non-nuclear State, party to Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, that is a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.”

In other words, the proposal guarantees nothing when it comes to the use of conventional forces, and even in the case of an aggression in which nuclear weapons are used, all the EU troika will do will be seeking “immediate Security Council action,” presumably after tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of innocent people have already perished during the aggression.

The New IAEA Report and its Absurd Demands

As mentioned above, two years ago the EU troika insisted through the Sa’d Abaad Agreement that Iran must “voluntarily” sign the Additional Protocol to the NPT, which Iran did and began implementing. But, in his September 3, 2005 report to the BOG of the IAEA [13] entitled, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the IAEA, has reported on the following item:

(1) Iran has submitted to the IAEA comprehensive declarations with respect to its nuclear facilities, including design information (article 5).

(2) In view of Iran’s steady cooperation and increasing transparency, resolving the outstanding concerns (see below), the IAEA believes that Iran’s nuclear issue “would be followed up as matters of routine safeguards” (article 6).

(3) Other than some delays and slowness in providing information on the design aspects, “no additional failures have been identified” by the IAEA (article 8).

(4) Certain aspects of Iran’s previous declarations, especially the “outstanding issue” of the sources of contamination of Iran’s equipment with high-enriched uranium which has turned out to be Pakistan (as had been widely believed), have been verified (article 12).

(5) Several Iranian “transparency measures,” well beyond the Additional Protocol, are reported, including allowing inspection access to Iran’s military bases (article 37).

(6) The report cites “good progress” in Iran’s “corrective measures” since October 2003 (article 43).

(7) The report declares that, “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material has not been diverted to prohibited activities” (article 51).

(8) The report confirms again again that Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz have remained suspended; that the converted uranium had been relocated to safe storages, and that the uranium hexafluoride “remained under agency seals” (article 59).

(9) It admits that, “the agency’s legal authority to pursue the verification of possible nuclear weapons-related activity is limited” (article 49).

This is, of course, a basic problem of the non-proliferation regime which transcends Iran, but is being selectively applied to Iran. After admitting this general shortcoming, the report states that Iran’s transparency (emphasis with capital letters added)

(10) “should extend beyond the formal requirements of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol and include ACCESS TO INDIVIDUALS, documentation related to procurement, dual-use equipment, certain MILITARY-OWNED WORKSHOPS and research and development locations” (article 50).

Such demands are clearly pure political pressure far beyond any requirements demanded by the NPT and its Additional Protocol. In fact, Iran is being asked to comply with demands that are reminiscent of what Iraq was being asked to do in the months leading to its illegal invasion by the US and Britain. In essence, what the report is demanding is that Iran should reveal its sensitive military information. If Iran were to go along, where would the demand list end?

In addition, it is not even clear why, with so many positive aspects of Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA reported by the IAEA, Iran should accede to such additional demands. This is particularly baffling in view of the IAEA’s own discovery about Iran’s deals with Pakistan’s Abdul Ghadeer Khan, indicating that Iran turned down his offers of nuclear-weapons designs in the 1980s, which should reinforce Iran’s position that it is not interested in acquiring nuclear weapons. What happened to President Bush’s declaration at the National Defense University on February 11, 2004 that, “I propose that by next year, only States that have signed the Additional Protocol be allowed to import equipment for their civil nuclear programs”?

Lack of Mutual Trust and the Emerging Crisis

Given the above, the question is: What is REALLY at issue in the confrontation between Iran, the EU troika, and the US? The issue, as Dillip Hiro [14] put it, is:

“Do Third World countries have the right to develop and use all nuclear technology, including enrichment, as authorized by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, or not?”

Iran believes that the answer is an unequivocal “Yes,” and is not alone in its stance: The Non-Aligned Movement, which has a membership of 116 nations (and includes such important nations with nuclear technology as Brazil, India, and South Africa), agrees. So, whether intended or not, Iran has become the champion of the developing nations, willing to stand up to the Western world. Moreover, whether we like it or not, Iran’s stance has won it quiet admiration by Non-Aligned nations, as they fear that the limitations that the EU and the US are trying to impose on Iran could be extended to them eventually.

The EU troika does not deny the right. But it (and the US) wants Iran to give up its rights under the NPT FOREVER (article 34 of the EU proposal) in return for the commitments described above.

Why do the EU and the US want Iran to give up its right for having the complete cycle for producing enriched uranium? Their main argument is that, since Iran hid its nuclear energy program for 18 years, it has, in essence, given up that right. In essence, it is, more than anything else, an issue of trust between two hostile sides. As President Bush stated in a news conference on April 28, 2005, at the White House,

“America recognises that we cannot trust the Iranians when it comes to enriching uranium . . . they should not be allowed to enrich uranium.”

In the author’s opinion, there is not much merit to the argument that, “we do not trust Iran because it hid its nuclear program.” To see why consider the following:

(1) As explained in Part II of this series, beginning in 1982, Iran started pursuing Germany to complete the reactors in Bushehr. It tried any and all the reasonable (and some not so reasonable) approaches in order to get Germany live up to its obligations; it never succeeded. If anything, Iran’s efforts were indicating clearly to the West that it WAS pursuing a nuclear program. At the same time, the (West) German intelligence agency was the first to declare in 1984 that, “Iran was only TWO YEARS away from a nuclear bomb” [15].

(2) As noted in Ref. [6], under the provisions of the Safeguard Agreement of IAEA, building the Natanz facility and not declaring it were NOT illegal (though they were clandestine), so long as 180 days before introducing any nuclear materials into the facility Iran notified the IAEA, which Iran did long before the 180 days period. As has been emphasized in this series of articles, the difference between being clandestine and illegal has not been understood in the Western press; constructing the Natanz facility is constantly referred to as Iran’s “breach of its obligations.”

(3) The truth is that the EU troika and the US do not wish Iran to have the uranium enrichment facilities, REGARDLESS of what Iran does or does not. To see this one only needs to consider Iran’s proposal of March 2005. At the same time, does anyone really believe that if, in 1985, Iran had declared its intention for constructing its present enrichment facilities, the US and the EU troika would have rushed in to help it, or even allowed Iran to proceed? It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine any scenario under which this would have happened. So, the issue is not one of hiding something, rather not wanting Iran to possess the enrichment facilities and technology under any circumstances.

However, Iran’s reactionary right has done too many things to make the world suspicious or distrustful of Iran, some of which, in the author’s opinion, are as follows.

(1) The hardliners have suppressed Iran’s democratic movement and violated, on a steady and consistent basis, the personal, social, political, and economical rights of Iranians. In fact, in the author’s opinion, lost in the international fury over Iran’s nuclear energy program has been the fact that, respect for human rights and a democratic political system are the most effective deterrent against the threat that any aspiring nuclear power run by an undemocratic government may pose to the world. When the US strongly pushed the Shah to start Iran’s nuclear energy program at a time that it had no economic justification (see Parts II and IV of this series), instead of pushing him to undertake meaningful political reforms, it helped creating the Frankstein now called Iran’s nuclear program.

A democratic political system in Iran greatly reduces and even eliminates the threat that its nuclear program may pose to the world because, in the author’s opinion, the danger per se is not that Iran may have nuclear weapons (which it does not), but that some of its most important power centers and decision-making process are shrouded with secrecy. A free press in Iran – a pillar of human rights – will reveal nuclear adventures that Iran’s hidden power centers may pursue against Iran’s national interests [16].

Since 1970s, when the Shah started Iran’s nuclear program, India, South Africa, North Korea, Pakistan, and Israel have joined the nuclear club. In the 1980s South Africa’s apartheid regime produced nuclear bombs, but the democratic government of Nelson Mandella dismantled them. India, has developed a nuclear arsenal, but not many perceive world’s largest democracy as a threat to the world. The same is true about Israel.

But, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is a threat because its regime is highly secretive and its leader a recluse. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is extremely dangerous (even if the US does not acknowledge it) because Pakistan is an essentially failed State. Its nuclear-armed military, populated by Islamic extremists, created the Taliban which supported Osama bin Laden. Pakistan has a sectarian war in which the majority Sunni population has been murdering the Shiite minority, and many of its schools teach Islamic radicalism. Could Abdul Ghadeer Khan, the founder and owner of Pakistan’s nuclear supermarket, have operated freely for so long without the support of some elements of its military? Could he have operated in a democratic Pakistan with a free press to reveal the depth of his dangerous enterprise?

Aside from the nature of Iran’s hardliners which cannot be conducive to building trust between Iran and the international community, several questions about Iran’s nuclear energy program remain unresolved:

(2) When did Iran obtain the design for the advanced P-2 centrifuges? Why did it not pursue its construction? or, has it?

(3) Why did Iran experiment for sometime uranium enrichment using lasers? Surely, laser enrichment is not economical, and can be justified only in the framework of a military program for which there is no limit to the budget that can be spent.

(4) Why was the Bandar Abbas uranium mine not declared to the IAEA for quite some time? How much uranium deposits does Iran possess, any way [17]?

(5) At least three companies – Kaalaa-ye Electric, Pars Taraash, and Faraayand Technic – supposedly having nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program – have turned out to be providing support for it. Iran must be prepared to address the issue of such companies in a systematic way, because it is likely that the IAEA will press Iran on this issue in the future.

But, this is not the complete story, but only half of it. The lack of trust between Iran, the EU, and the US is also due to the other half of the story, which is about the “guarantees” given by France, Germany, and the US to Iran that later on turned out to be “non-binding.” Consider the following (which represents just the tip of the iceberg) [18]:

(1) As described in Part I and mentioned above, Germany was supposed to build two nuclear reactors in Bushehr. The construction of the reactors was begun and made considerable progress. But Germany stopped the work after the Iranian Revolution. It neither paid Iran back what it owed, nor did it finish building the reactors, nor delivered the parts that had already been purchased and paid for.

(2) Iran paid in 1975 $1 billion to buy 10% of Eurodif, a French company that produces enriched uranium. In return Iran was supposed to receive enriched uranium for its reactors, but has never received any. France was also supposed to construct nuclear reactors in Khuzestan province, but it never did.

(3) The Shah spent billions of dollars in the 1970s to purchase US made weapons. The US was obligated to provide Iran with the spare parts for the weapons. But, when the Iran-Iraq war began, the US refused to supply Iran with the spare parts which had already been paid for. But the US did not stop there. Donald Rumsfeld travelled to Baghdad in December 1983, had a friendly meeting with Saddam Hussein, and informed him that the US, although officially neutral, was going to “tilt” towards Iraq. The US then started supplying Iraq with detailed information on troops movement in Iran, and other valuable information.

(4) Historical factors also play important roles in the distrust of the Europeans by Iran. The Golestan and Turkmenchaay Treaties, signed in 1811 and 1827 between Iran and Russia, forced Iran to give up, under force, a large portion of its historical territories. Later on in 1867, the British empire did the same to Iran when it used force to separate Afghanistan from Iran. The 1953 coup d’etat overthrew the government of Iran’s national hero, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh. These historial events, with gigantic implications, have left deep scars on Iran’s historial memory.

Therefore, the lack of trust between Iran, the EU, and the US is mutual. While the EU nations have many good reasons to distrust Iran, they also have a track record of promises that they had made to, and obligations that they had towards, Iran, which were broken and violated later on.

Iran’s Technical Problems: A Reason for Caution

While the Western Press has been trying to create a menacing image of Iran’s nuclear energy program, now that the Esfahan facility has started operating again, the reality, which should prevent the EU from panicking, is quite different. The fact is that Iran faces many difficulties in operating both the Esfahan and Natanz facilities [19,20], with the latter facility being currently sealed, anyway. Iran had major problems with the Esfahan facility in 2004 when it produced uranium hexafluoride, which was unsuitable for enrichment because it contained impurities that prevent its enrichment. Another problem is obtaining suitable materials for handling and storing uranium hexafluoride, which is in a solid state at room temperature, but makes a transition to the gaseous state at about 135 F. Whether Iran has overcome such difficulties is not known yet. A third problem Iran is facing is about its centrifuge facility at Natanz. Apparently, Iran has been unable to keep the centrifuges running for a sufficient length of time at the required speeds.

At the same time, most experts believe that the IAEA inspections and safeguards will prevent Iran from directly using facilities declared to the IAEA for its weapons program (if one exists), so long as Iran does not withdraw from the NPT. A November 2004 report by the CIA supported these assertions. However, if Iran’s program is referred to the Security Council, and the Council imposes tough sanctions against Iran (the possibility of which AT PRESENT is remote), Iran may withdraw from the NPT and expel its inspectors. Then, what Iran’s hardliners do next is anybody’s guess. It is not in the interest of the world to arrive at such a frightening moment.

Summary: Is Defiance in Iran’s National Interest?

In the author’s opinion, although Iran’s current position is very strong, it is not in its national interest to be referred to the UN Security Council. The reason is threefold:

(1) Although Russia and China are both opposed to referring Iran’s nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council, their veto of a resolution against Iran is NOT guaranteed. An approved resolution, even if it is mild, will be used by the War Party in the US as an exuse for staging military attack against Iran.

(2) If the Security Council does pass some resolution against Iran, it will have the legitimacy of the UN and, therefore, Iran will be isolated. In short, Iran must realize that, (i) it cannot afford to lose in the court of public opinion, and (2) while it might win the current battles with the EU troika, it may lose the ultimate war at the Security Council.

(3) Although Iran is entitled to having the complete cycle for producing enriched uranium, it does not have any urgent need for it. The fuel for the Bushehr reactor has been guaranteed by Russia, and any new reactor to be constructed in Iran is years away. Thus, once again, there is no need to put Iran in a position where the War Party in the US may become tempted to attack it, which would inflict immeasurable damage on Iran’s industrial and population centers. Protecting Iran against such attacks is far more important than having the cycle for enriching uranium: Without a prosperous and safe Iran it makes no sense to speak of uranium enrichment.

At the same time, the EU and the US must also realize the following:

(1) Referring Iran to the Security Council is not in the interest of the international community, because in that case Iran may carry out its threat of withdrawing from the NPT. That would destroy the already troubled non-proliferation regime and, instead of full transparency, the IAEA will find Iran back in the pre-2003 era.

(2) In addition to being economically viable and necessary, Iran’s nuclear energy program also has to do with nationalism and pride. If the EU and the US ignore this aspect, it will cause lasting repercussions, setting back the relations between Iran, the US, and the EU for a long time.

(3) In the author’s opinion, the way to address the problem of Iran’s nuclear program is not by threatening it with military strikes, but by providing Iran with incentives to move towards a democratic and transparent political system which would make its nuclear program benign. The Achiles’ heel of Iran’s hardliners is not their possible violation of Iran’s international nuclear obligations that may drag them before the Security Council to bring about their eventual fall, but their violation of human rights of Iranians, including suffocating Iran’s independent press.

(4) It is no accident that Iran’s nuclear program began accelerating in 1997 when Mohammad Khatami was elected president, and began implementing a program of reform and more transparency. Since then, instead of helping Iran’s fledgling democratic movement, which would have inevitably led to transparency in its nuclear program, the US has been hurting it. Whereas Mr. Khatami proposed people-to-people dialogue between the US and Iran, the US has prevented Iranian scholars and authors from publishing their work in the US. Whereas Iran greatly helped the US in the war in Afghanistan, the US bestowed upon it the “honour” of being a member of “Axis of Evil!” In return for the overwhelming victory of Iran’s democratic forces in the 2000 elections for the Majles, the US lifted sanctions against importing Iranian pistachios! The US repeats the claim that Iran does not need nuclear energy because it has plenty of oil and natural gas, yet it has blocked the US oil companies to invest in Iran’s oil industry. It is because of such contradictions in the US policy towards Iran that it is difficult for ANY Iranian leader to trust the US.

The proposals by Iran and the EU both have many positive elements. The Natanz facility remains suspended and sealed, and Iran faces many technical difficulties to operate a complete uranium enrichment cycle. Hence, there is no reason for the EU to panic just because the conversion of the yellow cake to uranium tetra- and hexafluoride, which the IAEA does not even consider as part of an enrichment process, has started. Through patience, flexibility, and mutual understanding, the two proposals can be combined into one coherent proposal that satisfies Iran’s aspirations and the EU’s and the US’ concerns.

References and notes

[1] See, Dafna Linzer, “Past Arguments Don’t Square with Current Iran Policy,” the Washington Post, March 27, 2005.

[2] See Parts IV and V of this series for detailed discussions of this point. See also, T.R. Stauffer, “Unlike Dimona, Iran’s Bushehr Reactor Not Useful for Weapons-Grade Plutonium,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (September 2003), p. 28, as well as,

[3] A good example of such quasi-democratic groups is an Iranian political journalist based in Europe and his cohorts in Los Angeles. They repeat, VERBATIM, whatever non-sense the neo-conservatives claim about Iraq and Iran. The same people had a “joyous” (sickening to the author though) scream on an Iranian satellite TV channel on March 19, 2003 – the day the US and Britain began their illegal invasion of Iraq – stating their hope and dream that, “Iran will soon have such a day.” What has been happening in Iraq since then has not, of course, made them reconsider their “wish,” simply because they do not understand a simple fact: Without defending Iran’s national interests, it is meaningless to speak of democracy and human rights.

[4] On July 5, 2005, at a joint news conference with France’s Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “the United States does not see the need for a civilian nuclear program in oil-rich Iran,” despite the fact that in the same news conference she said that the US strongly supports the EU-Iran neogotiations, and that the EU has recognized Iran’s right and need for NPPs. To read about the news conference see,

[5] M. Sahimi, P. Mojtahedzadeh, and K.L. Afrasiabi, “Iran Needs Nuclear Reactors,” International Herald Tribune, October 14, 2003.

[6] M. Sahimi, “Forced to Fuel: Iran’s Nuclear Energy Program,” Harvard International Review, Volume XXVI (No. 4), Winter 2005, p. 42.

[7] According to the original IAEA Safeguard agreements, Iran was not obligated to declare the start of construction of the Natanz facility for uranium enrichment. These agreements stipulate that, only 180 days before introducing any nuclear material, must Iran declare the existence of the facility. Therefore, construction of the undeclared Natanz facility is NOT by itself a violation of the NPT. In addition, the NPT does allow Iran to legally build any nuclear facility, including one for uranium enrichment, so long as it is declared to, and safeguarded by, the IAEA, and is intended for peaceful purposes.

[8] The latest US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program states that Iran is about 10 years away from making a nuclear bomb. See, Dafna Linzer, “Iran Is Judged 10 Years From Nuclear Bomb,” The Washington Post, August 1, 2005. To view the article, see, See also Refs. [19] and [20] below.

[9] This phrase was taken from F. Rich’s column, “Falluja Floods the Superdome,” The New York Times, September 4, 2005.

[10] This is the phrase that Vice President Dick Cheney used frequently prior to invasion of Iraq.

[11] Excellent discussions of Iran’s proposal are given by G. Prather (a physicist who has worked in the Departments of Energy and Defence). See, for example, “What the Neo-Crazies Knew,” August 13, 2005, in See also Prather’s August 8, 2005 article, “EU vs. Iran: Who’s Right?” at

[12] See also, T. Parsi, “Europe’s Mendacity Doomed Iran Talks to Failure,” the Financial Times of London, August 30, 2005. To view the article, see

[13] For a thorough analysis of the IAEA report see, K.L. Afrasiabi, “ElBaradei’s Report Deconstructed,” September 7, 2005, at

[14] Dillip Hiro, “Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions,” the Nation Magazine, September 12, 2005. To view the article see,

[15] D. Leglu, Liberation (Paris), April 29, 1984.

[16] See also, Shirin Ebadi and M. Sahimi, “In the Mullahs’ Shadow,” the Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2005.

[17] Estimates on Iran’s natural uranium deposits vary widely. They range anywhere from enough deposits to produce fuel for only one 1000 MW reactor for 6-7 years, which is what the US claims (hence pointing out that such small deposits do not justify an enrichment program, unless it is for military purposes), to much larger amounts cited in Part II of this series. The true amount is likely to be something in between.

[18] See also, F. Mokhtari, “Coping with Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions,” the Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2005. To view the article see,,1, 1689359.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california

[19] P. Kerr, “Back to Normal, Iran Nuclear Abilities Limited,” Arms Control Association, September 6, 2005. To view the article see,

[20] See also, A. Cowell, “Nuclear Weapon is Years off for Iran, Research Panel Says,” the New York Times, Wednesday September 8, 2005, p. A11.

Original URL:

back to top

About the author: Muhammad Sahimi is Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and NIOC Professor of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Since 1986 he has been a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists – an organization dedicated to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons – and a contributor to its Partners for Earth Program. He has also been a visiting professor in Australia, Europe, and the Middle East, and a consultant to many energy firms around the world. In addition to his scientific work, his political articles have appeared as book chapters, on various websites, and in such publications as the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Fair Use: This use of this copyrighted material has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of public issues. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

1957 Iran and the United States sign a nuclear cooperation agreement.

1967 United States supplies Iran with a five-megawatt (MW) light-water reactor and related laboratories at the Tehran Nuclear Research Center.

1968 Iran signs the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which it ratifies in 1970.

1970s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi signs a series of deals for nuclear technology with the United States (1974), Germany (1976), and France (1977).

1974 Establishment of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran under Dr. Akbar Etemad, who announces plans to generate 23,000 MW of nuclear energy within twenty years and acquire a full nuclear fuel cycle.

1976 Iran signs contracts with the German company Kraftwerk Union AG (KWU) for twin 1,300 MW light-water reactors to be built near the city of Bushehr, and with the French company Framatome for twin 900 MW light-water reactors to be built on the Karun River.

1979 Islamic Revolution. Nuclear plans are stalled; Ayatollah Khomeini disavows nuclear weapons for the Islamic Republic. Tehran gets into financial disputes with Germany’s KWU, which suspended work on the two Bushehr nuclear reactors; at the time, construction on one reactor was complete and the core nuclear components were ready for shipment.

1980–88 Iran-Iraq War slows progress on nuclear program.

1984 Iraqi warplanes attack Bushehr nuclear complex; the bombing reportedly did not damage the reactor.

1991 China ships just over a ton of natural uranium in various compounds, allowing Iran to carry out undeclared conversion and enrichment experiments throughout the 1990s.

1995 Iran signs a deal with Russia to complete the nuclear reactors at Bushehr.

1995 President Clinton imposes oil and trade sanctions on Iran for seeking to acquire nuclear arms and for undermining the Middle East peace process.

Mid-1990s Pakistan sells Tehran designs, technical drawings, and components for high-speed gas centrifuges used in uranium enrichment.

1996 Congress passes the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.

February 2002 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report declares existing and planned nuclear facilities are dedicated to civilian purposes.

August 2002 Iranian political exiles claim that Tehran has constructed a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy-water plant at Arak, both of which are suspected of contributing to a weapons development program; Tehran again announces plans to develop a nuclear fuel cycle.

December 2002 Washington analyzes satellite-reconnaissance photos of Natanz and Arak facilities and declares that they are integral to Iran’s “across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.” Iran accedes to IAEA request to inspect nuclear facilities.

February 2003 Iranian president Mohammad Khatami announces that Iran is pursuing nuclear fuel cycle. IAEA director-general Mohammed ElBaradei travels to Tehran to inquire about future nuclear plans.

June 2003 ElBaradei reports that Iran fails to meet obligations under Safeguards Agreement by not fully disclosing nuclear activities and imposes October 31 deadline for full disclosure, urges Tehran to agree to more intrusive inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities.

August 2003 IAEA discovers traces of highly enriched weapons- grade uranium at Natanz facility; Tehran later argues that the traces were residual material from Pakistani-supplied equipment.

September 2003 Iran agrees to voluntary NPT Additional Protocol for more intrusive IAEA inspections regime after the agency discovers more traces of enriched uranium at various facilities.

October 21, 2003 EU-3 (Britain, France, and Germany) brokers deal with Iran to cease production of enriched uranium and to formally sign Additional Protocol.

November 2003 IAEA’s ElBaradei claims there is no evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons program; Washington disagrees. Tehran acknowledges producing plutonium, and IAEA invokes censure of the country but makes no sanctions recommendations.

December 18, 2003 Iran signs the Additional Protocol at IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

February 2004 Iran is reported to have purchased nuclear weapons technology from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “godfather of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.” IAEA report claims that Iran conducted experiments with fissile material that can be used to trigger nuclear bomb chain reaction. Tehran does not respond to charges but says again that it will cease uranium enrichment program; subsequent inspections fail to show that Tehran has halted uranium enrichment.

March 2004 IAEA urges Tehran to disclose its entire nuclear program by June 1.

June 2004 IAEA criticizes Tehran for attempting to purchase uranium-enrichment equipment and for not cooperating with the agency’s inspectors.

September 2004 Tehran announces it has resumed “large-scale” enrichment program; IAEA orders Iran to stop and to reveal all of its nuclear activities by November 25. U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell asks the UN Security Council to impose sanctions.

November 2004 EU-3 discusses deal with Iran offering trade and nuclear energy incentives in return for Iran’s abandonment of its alleged weapons program. IAEA issues a resolution to Iran to implement the NPT Safeguards Agreement and to abandon all nuclear activities until further inspection. Iran again agrees to cease uranium-enrichment activities for an indefinite period.

January 2005 Tehran allows IAEA inspectors to visit the clandestine nuclear site at Parchin.

February 2005 President Khatami says Iran will never give up nuclear technology but stresses it is for peaceful purposes only. Russia backs Tehran and signs a deal to supply fuel to Bushehr reactor. Defense Intelligence Agency director Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby testifies before Congress that Iran is within five years of having the capability of producing a nuclear weapon—the same estimate U.S. officials have provided since 1995.

March 2005 Iran denies IAEA inspection access at Parchin nuclear facility.

April 2005 Tehran says it plans to resume uranium conversion at Isfahan facility. United States sells Israel special “bunker buster” bombs; some observers suggest that Israel might use the weapons on Iranian underground nuclear-research facilities.

May 2005 European Union says that Tehran’s resumption of uranium enrichment program would cancel trade and energy package being negotiated by EU-3. Tehran waits to see package’s details.

August 2, 2005 In a lead story, The Washington Post says that a recent classified U.S. National Intelligence Estimate determined that Iran is now ten years away from a nuclear weapon–production capability.

August 5, 2005 The EU-3 presents Tehran with a thirty-one-page document offering Tehran economic incentives and security guarantees in exchange for Iran’s abandoning plans to pursue a full nuclear fuel cycle.

August 8, 2005 Tehran rejects EU-3 deal as “absurd, demeaning, and self-congratulatory,” and vows that Tehran will resume an “irreversible” enrichment program, as is its right under the NPT’s Article IV.

August 10, 2005 Iranian technicians break UN seals on equipment at Isfahan plant under the supervision of IAEA inspectors; Tehran notifies the agency that it is resuming uranium conversion at the site. IAEA installs surveillance cameras at site to verify that no uranium is diverted.

August 11, 2005 IAEA adopts resolution drafted by the EU-3 calling on Iran to halt nuclear reprocessing activity at Isfahan.

September 2, 2005 An IAEA report says that Iran has produced seven tons of uranium hexafluoride—the gaseous compound that is spun in special centrifuges to produce enriched uranium—since activity resumed at the Isfahan plant. The report highlights Iran’s eighteen years of clandestine nuclear activity and says that the agency is still unable “to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran”; the report calls for “access to individuals, documentation related to procurement . . . certain military-owned workshops, and research and development locations.”

September 17, 2005 In a defiant speech before the UN General Assembly, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces that his country will not relinquish its “right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy”; U.S. officials consider asking for IAEA vote to refer the Iranian matter to the UN Security Council for imposition of sanctions against Iran.

September 24, 2005 IAEA Board of Governors passes a resolution stating that Iran’s transparency on its nuclear program is “indispensable and overdue.” Stopping short of referring Iran to the United Nations, the resolution notes that outstanding issues are “within the competence of the [UN] Security Council.”
The ‘laptop of mass destruction’
By Gareth Porter
Iran’s plans to enrich uranium involved no subterfuge until the US prevented it. In fact IAEA inspectors visited Iran’s uranium mines in 1992, and the discovery of uranium was openly announced in 1982, and in 1983 the US prevented the IAEA from entering into technical cooperations with Iran to develop the fuel cycle. That’s when Iran started going underground. So, if anyone has violated the NPT, it is the US. And while Iran was forced to resort to subterfuge to obtain centrifuge parts which resulted in breaches of their safeguards agreements (not the same as NPT violations) the IAEA determined that none of the undeclared activity was related to a weapons program. Finally, note that several other countries have been caught conducting secret nuclear experiments—S. Korea, Egypt among them—and yet no one is claiming that they magically lost their rights under the NPT. The IAEA and the NPT have remedying mechanisms, and Iran has abided by them according to the IAEA. Iran has even exceeded its NPT obligations in many instances. However, nothing in the NPT or the IAEA Charter or Statutes permit the US/EU to deprive other NPT signatories of their rights. And in fact the Iranians have specifically offered to allow more stringent inspections of their enrichment plants despite your statement. And as for the economics, the Stanford Research Institute advised the Shah that Iran had to diversify its energy resources in the 1970s, and nothing has changed since then except that Iran’s oil has been depleted even more whilst Iran’s population has tripled, making diversification even more necessary.
21 April 2006
Researchers Find Iranian Nuclear Program Economically Wasteful

Study suggests program inconsistent with Iran’s resources, energy needs

By David Shelby

A. We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons
program1; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is
keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence
that the halt, and Tehran’s announcement of its decision to suspend its declared uranium
enrichment program and sign an Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty Safeguards Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing
international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran’s previously
undeclared nuclear work.
• We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were
working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.
• We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years. (Because of
intelligence gaps discussed elsewhere in this Estimate, however, DOE and the NIC
assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt
to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program.)
• We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons
program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop
nuclear weapons.
• We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently
have a nuclear weapon.
• Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined
to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment
that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure
suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged
B. We continue to assess with low confidence that Iran probably has imported at least
some weapons-usable fissile material, but still judge with moderate-to-high confidence it
has not obtained enough for a nuclear weapon. We cannot rule out that Iran has acquired
from abroad—or will acquire in the future—a nuclear weapon or enough fissile material
for a weapon. Barring such acquisitions, if Iran wants to have nuclear weapons it would
need to produce sufficient amounts of fissile material indigenously—which we judge
with high confidence it has not yet done.
Nuclear Security Spending: Assessing Costs, Examining Priorities
Stephen I. Schwartz, Deepti Choubey Carnegie Endowment Report, January 2009

The United States spent over $52 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs in fiscal year 2008, but only 10 percent of that went toward preventing a nuclear attack through slowing and reversing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. That is the main finding of Nuclear Security Spending: Assessing Costs, Examining Priorities, a new study that uses publicly available documents and extensive interviews with government officials and experts to calculate the U.S. nuclear security “budget.” The United States has never tracked nuclear weapons-related spending comprehensively, hindering effective oversight and weighing of priorities in nuclear security policy.

The lack of comprehensive accounting impairs balancing of priorities and fosters the impression that the United States is more interested in preserving and upgrading its nuclear arsenal than in reducing and eliminating the growing threats of nuclear proliferation and limited nuclear or radiological attack. Because classified expenditures and some other relevant costs are omitted from the analysis, total actual spending is significantly higher.

Key Conclusions

* Only 1.3 percent ($700 million) of the nuclear security budget was devoted to preparing for the consequences of a nuclear or radiological attack.

* Another 56 percent of the total went toward operating, sustaining, and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

* Nuclear security consumes $13 billion more than international diplomacy and foreign assistance; nearly double what the United States allots for general science, space, and technology; and 14 times what the Department of Energy (DOE) budgets for all energy-related research and development.

* Nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs account for at least 67 percent of DOE’s budget, 8.5 percent of the FBI’s budget, 7.1 percent of the Department of Defense budget, and 1.7 percent of the Department of Homeland Security’s budget.

Policy Recommendations

* Require the executive branch to submit both an unclassified and a classified annual accounting of all nuclear weapons-related spending. Without an accurate understanding of the costs of nuclear spending, Congress and the executive branch cannot conduct essential oversight or devise the most effective policy.

* Place greater emphasis on programs that secure and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, weapons material, technology, and expertise.

* Develop better measures to explain and quantify nuclear weapons-related intelligence expenditures. Greater transparency and insight could lead to a more effective allocation of intelligence assets.

* Release an accurate accounting of the number of veterans who have received or been denied compensation and care for radiation exposure during atmospheric nuclear tests between 1946 and 1962, along with the total cost of such compensation and care.

The authors conclude:

“Implementing these recommendations will increase understanding and accountability, which in turn will lead to greater public support for critical nuclear security programs and a more effective allocation of public resources. When combined with a new focus on nuclear issues, including the Obama administration’s forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review, these efforts will help ensure that political and financial priorities are properly aligned.”

About the Authors
Stephen I. Schwartz is the editor of The Nonproliferation Review, published by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the largest nongovernmental organization in the United States devoted exclusively to research and training on nonproliferation issues. He is also the editor and coauthor of Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons since 1940 (Brookings Institution Press, 1998), the authoritative chronicle of historical expenditures associated with the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Schwartz has previously served as publisher and executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and as a guest scholar with the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution.

Deepti Choubey is deputy director of the Nonproliferation Program at the Carnegie Endowment. Her research interests include the calculations of non–nuclear-weapon states, how much the U.S. spends on nuclear security, and the role of nonproliferation for long-term U.S. foreign policy. Prior to joining the Carnegie Endowment in 2006, Choubey was director of the Peace and Security Initiative (PSI) for the Ploughshares Fund.

# #
# Wipe Out Israel Misquote #
# #

“the imam said this regime occupying jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

Bravo, I was sincerely losing my hopes in you. So first of all, he didn’t say those words, he was “quoting” some other douche bag — in a context of time. Second, he is calling for a regime [Zionist] change, not a “fatwa” to end the Israel. It’s as if I say, drive Talibans out of such and such region; I am not certainly implying to “wipe” out Afghanistan, the country, DO I? Same goes the other way around: If I claim that I wish for a regime change in Iran, that does not constitute of annihilation of Iranian people, DOES IT? HINT: NO. Where the fuck did someone get the word “map” mixed in there anyway? It’s obvious, your precious corporate media is spinning everything to cook up distorted misinformation and spoon feed it to a cretinous sucker like you. So you can finally have something to bitch about this weekend. Even the NY Times backed away from this translation. You just made fool of yourself, take your ignominious sorry ass back to where you come from.

“are you sure you meant to call mr. ahmadinejad another douchebag?”

Go back and get your GED moron. Do I have to elaborate word by word of my every utterance? He [Ahmadinejad] quoting another douchebag [Khomeini] — do I have to spoon feed you everything?

“vanish from the page of time…” AND… you swallowed the rest of context. Your half-ass attempt for taking words out of context is risible. “Vanich from the page of time ____” fill-in the blank: “my kitty?” “wallaby’s grotesque deformed third nipple?” You are so fucking out of it that even took the subject out of the sentence, holding it up and saying this guy is about to “vanish” _SOMETHING_. What does he want to vanish? No, not your grade school diploma, the Zionist regime.

“what could be a bigger problem than mr. ahmadinejad’s al-taqiyya in everything he says for release in america but not in iran?”

There is not title Mr. and there is no al-fuckyou. Do you watch Spanish soap opera all day long? Quit doing that, then come here maybe I can make you understand how to deal with your childhood issues.

“as a good muslim and true servant of allah”

HAHA! You called a mullah-boy a “good Muslim.” Oh man, that’s actually hilarious. “Servant of Allah…” haha. That’s as if you claim a televangelist is a “true” Christian. Quit sucking on your pacifier…

“the remark was never taken out of context”

Oh, so misquoting is more valid than taking out of context? You lose. I suggest you brush up on your religious hermeneutics before you try to interpret a prophetic statement.

“would you be concerned if someone said, the regime of iran ‘must vanish from the page of time?'”

*sigh* Didn’t I just give you that EXACT analogy? Repitition is a clear indication that one is losing the argument, and he knows it.

“what does ‘risible’ mean?”

risible \RIZ-uh-buhl\, adjective:
1. Capable of laughing; disposed to laugh.
2. Exciting or provoking laughter; worthy of laughter; laughable; amusing.

Remember what I said about spoon feeding you? Stop embarrassing yourself. Oh ya, I forgot, in the U.S., parents get one of those “honor student” stickers when a kid is graduated from the grade school. I bet yours robbed you from that epsecial moment, didn’t they?

“i have no idea who mr. ahmadinejad quoted. regardless, we have the same estimation of the ayatollah.”

Then why don’t you just shut your mouth sealed with a venereal wartz. You don’t even know what the title ayatollah designated for or else you wouldn’t have slapped it on a dead mullah.

“validity is immaterial. “misquoting” is the truth. “taking our of context” is not.”

Your statement is linguistically and semantically vacant — talking about infinitly absolute negativity. You admitted to such grotesque misquotation, now you are desperately trying to play a run-around game to save your pathetic intigrity — you lost, get over it.

“why is almost every muslim afraid to discuss al-taqiyyah with an infidel”

You shooting yourself in the nuts. Mr. anarchist here wants to indulge himself in a mullah’s pants. Why is it almost every inbreed low-life wallows in his failed assumption that the opposition voice must come from an Islamic source? I am not, and I can care less about your fasination with Islamic word games. Quit farting around and rejoin the communal of humanity.

“i used to eat iranian pistachios.”

No wonder you suffer from mild form of retardation. It’s “masturbation” you grammar Nazi. Why is it that your responses are 20 mintues apart from the first one? Occupied with Mrs. Palmer and her five slut daughters? Stick to your underage Japanese hentia masturbatory sessions. Second, there are no Iranian produced pistachios in the U.S. unless you are back stabbing your own country by dealing directly with Iranian suppliers. Your sorry ass probably meant to say Californian pistachio.

“as with mr. ahmadinejad at columbia”

Why is that You keep schmoozing to your “buddy” with titles like “Mr.?” You know what they say, Ahmadinejad’s ex-boyfriend was an American. I wonder who could have been?

“i’m not wealthy or deceitful enough to be a mullah.”

Ya, but you are qualified for euthanasia.
Does Iran’s President Want Israel Wiped Off The Map – Does He Deny The Holocaust?

An analysis of media rhetoric on its way to war against Iran – Commenting on the alleged statements of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad .

By Anneliese Fikentscher and Andreas Neumann
Translation to English: Erik Appleby

Interview With Vicente Fox; Interview With Hoshyar Zebari

Aired April 2, 2006 – 11:00 ET

BLITZER: I have to wrap this up, but I want to get your response to this issue of Israel because it’s become such a prominent issue in this whole discussion over nuclear plans that Iran may or may not have. This is what the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said on October 26 at that World Without Zionism conference.

He said, “Israel must be wiped off the map of the world, and god willing, with the force of god behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionists.”

You understand why people in the West, especially here in the United States, are so concerned about your program, your nuclear program, given those kinds of direct threats against Israel, which happens to be a strong ally of the United States.

SOLTANIEH: I want to very briefly remind you that the policy of Islamic Republic of Iran and according to spirit and letter of our constitution is against any sort of school of thought or regime such as apartheid, Zionism, racism, and this is a matter of principle.

Therefore, what you are talking about as apartheid was disappeared and it could not be accepted by civilized world, this Zionism and aggression of racism is also condemned.

BLITZER: Does your support for the removal of Zionism mean you want to see Israel destroyed?

SOLTANIEH: I have already explained to you and reflected to you the policy echoed by our supreme leader.

It means that if in that region, the divine religion followers of the Jews, Christians and Muslims, that all three are very respectful — and we have Jews in Iran, which are peacefully living and they are represented in our parliament, they are fully respected — if they come with the Palestinians, homeless Palestinians, to come and through following the democratic process will decide on a government and live in peace as they were living a thousand years of coexistence of these divine religions, Iran will support because we are looking for and we support peaceful settlement of the whole issue and peaceful coexistence of these divine religions in the Middle East. Let’s hope for the peace.

BLITZER: But should there be a state of Israel?

SOLTANIEH: I think I’ve already answered to you. If Israel is a synonym and will give the indication of Zionism mentality, no.

But if you are going to conclude that we have said the people there have to be removed or we they have to be massacred or so, this is fabricated, unfortunate selective approach to what the mentality and policy of Islamic Republic of Iran is. I have to correct, and I did so.
Leader’s Speech to Government Officials on the Eid-al-Fitr

We hold a fair and logical stance on the issue of Palestine. Several decades ago, Egyptian statesman Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was the most popular Arab personality, stated in his slogans that the Egyptians would throw the Jewish usurpers of Palestine into the sea. Some years later, Saddam Hussein, the most hated Arab figure, said that he would put half of the Palestinian land on fire. But we would not approve of either of these two remarks.

We believe, according to our Islamic principles, that neither throwing the Jews into the sea nor putting the Palestinian land on fire is logical and reasonable. Our position is that the Palestinian people should regain their rights. Palestine belongs to Palestinians, and the fate of Palestine should also be determined by the Palestinian people.

The issue of Palestine is a criterion for judging how truthful those claiming to support democracy and human rights are in their claims. The Islamic Republic of Iran has presented a fair and logical solution to this issue. We have suggested that all native Palestinians, whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews, should be allowed to take part in a general referendum before the eyes of the world and decide on a Palestinian government. Any government that is the result of this referendum will be a legitimate government.
Peres says that Iran ‘can also be wiped off the map’
World – 8 May 2006, 2:41 PM

Jerusalem.– Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Monday in an interview to Reuters that “the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map,” Army Radio reported.,9171,1535777-2,00.html
“We Do Not Need Attacks”

Sunday, Sep. 17, 2006

TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

Ahmadinejad: People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views. Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: we say that a nation has been displaced from its own land. Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes. Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?

TIME: Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to their own state?

Ahmadinejad: We do not oppose it. In any country in which the people are ready to vote for the Jews to come to power, it is up to them. In our country, the Jews are living and they are represented in our Parliament. But Zionists are different from Jews.

TIME: Have you considered that Iranian Jews are hurt by your comments denying that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust?

Ahmadinejad: As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn’t receive any answers to my questions. I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only 6 million? And if it had happened, then it is a historical event. Then why do they not allow independent research?
Iran’s Ahmadinejad says Israel “dying”
Wed May 14, 2008 11:35am EDT

“The Zionist regime is dying,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern city of Gorgan, referring to Israel. “The criminals imagine that by holding celebrations … they can save the Zionist regime from death.”

“They should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy (it),” said Ahmadinejad, who often rails against Israel and the United States.

# #
# Iran Military #
# #
Iran Military Guide
There is no compulsary in Hijab
Bluffer’s Guide: Fortress Iran
Planeman 02/2008

# #
# Iran & Transgender #
# Homosexuals #
# #
September 26, 2008

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Iran-Iraq Relations, Iran’s Persecution of Gays and the Future of Israel-Palestine
AMY GOODMAN: July 19th is a day that is honored around the world, where two gay teenagers, Iranian teens, were hung. This is a picture of them hanging. They were two young men, named Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Do you think gay men and lesbians should die in Iran?

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] No, there is no law for their execution in Iran. Either they were drug traffickers or they had killed someone else. Those who kill someone else or engage in acts of rape could be punished by execution. Otherwise, homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hung, in the second place. So, we don’t have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment. It’s basically an immoral act. There are a lot of acts that can be immoral, but there’s no capital punishment for them.

I don’t know where you obtained these pictures from. Either they’re a network of drug traffickers or some other—or people who generally might have killed someone else. You know that we take our sort of social security seriously, because it’s important. What would you do in the United States if someone picked up a gun and killed a bunch of people? If there is a person to complain, then there’s capital punishment awaiting the person. Or drug traffickers, if they carry above a certain amount, volume, of drugs with them, they can be executed in Iran.
Gays and transsexuals party
As Repression Eases, More Iranians Change Their Sex By NAZILA FATHI
Published: August 2, 2004
Wednesday July 27 2005

A fatwa for freedomMaryam Molkara was a woman trapped in a man’s body. She was also living under Islamic law in the Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini. Yet, as Robert Tait reports, her determination to confront the hallowed leader has made Tehran the unlikely sex-change capital of the world
United Nations: U.S. Aligned With Iran in Anti-Gay Vote
Rice Must Explain Repressive UN Ban on LGBT Rights Groups

This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard. It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic,2933,301043,00.html
Ahmadinejad Says Comments About Gays Were Misunderstood
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kalhor told Reuters that Ahmadinejad did not intend to imply that there are no homosexuals in Iran. Rather, he said, the president wanted to say that homosexuality is not as common as it is in the West because of cultural and religious differences.

A sharp contrast exists between the treatment of homosexuality in Islamic law, on the one hand (see ii. above), and its reflection in Persian literature, particularly poetry (the chief vehicle of Persian literary expression), on the other. From the dawn of Persian poetry in the ninth century all through to the twentieth century, not only was homosexuality condoned in Persian poetry, but in fact homoeroticism formed almost the only amatory subject of Persian ghazals (short sonnet-like lyrics) and the main topic of much of Persian love poetry.
Iranian Official Confirms Gay Executions by Newscenter Staff
Posted: November 13, 2007

In 2005 two young men hanged in a public square in northern Iran after were alleged to have been found guilty of homosexuality. (story) The government claimed they had been convicted of kidnapping and raping a male teen.
Iranian hanged after verdict stay
Thursday, 6 December 2007

Amnesty says five minors have been executed in Iran in 2007 An Iranian man has been hanged for rape despite his alleged victims withdrawing their accusations and a judicial review being ordered into the sentence. Makwan Mouloudzadeh, 20, had been found guilty of raping three teenage boys when he was 13 years old
Iran: Makwan Moloudzadeh Was Executed in Kermanshah Central Prison at 5 a.m., This Morning, December 5, 2007

Mr. Mouloodzadeh was a 21-year-old Iranian citizen who was accused of committing anal rape (ighab) with other young boys when he was 13 years old. However, at Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s trial, all the witnesses retracted their pre-trial testimonies, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress. Makvan also told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty. On June 7, 2007, the Seventh District Criminal Court of Kermanshah in Western Iran found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Despite his lawyer’s appeal, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence on August 1, 2007. The case caused an international uproar, and prompted a letter writing campaign by IGLHRC and similar actions by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Outrage! and Everyone Group.
Transsexuality in Iran
May 31, 2006
UNHCR/ACCORD: 7th European Country of Origin Information Seminar
Berlin, 11-12 June 2001 – Final report

There have been reported instances of stoning in the past few years. However, the last report of the UN Special Representative for Iran (dated 8 September 2000) indicates that stoning appears finally to be declining in Iran. In March 2000, the press quoted the Ministry of Justice spokesperson as stating that stoning may not be in the country’s interest, and that the Head of the Judiciary believes that it should avoid acts which could insult and taint the country’s image. (for recent cases of stoning please see p. 24-25 of this report)

Although homosexuality is never spoken about and thus a hidden issue, in practice it is not difficult to encounter homosexuals in Iran. There are special parks in Tehran, known as homosexual meeting places. There are also a large number of transvestites walking around in North Tehran. Furthermore, sex changes are permitted in Iran and operations are frequently and openly carried out. A different sexual orientation may, however,
create problems. Still, homosexuality is practised every day, and as long as this happens behind closed doors within your own four walls, and as long as people do not intend to proselytize ‘transvestitism’ or homosexuality, they will most likely remain unharmed.

From a legal point of view it is important to take a look at Iranian law (the Islamic Punishment Act), which carries the following provisions for homosexual acts:

Art. 110: The prescribed punishment for homosexual relations in case of intercourse is execution and the mode of the execution is at the discretion of the religious judge.

Art. 111: Homosexual intercourse leads to execution provided that both the active and the passive party are of age, sane and consenting.

Art. 112: Where a person of age commits homosexual intercourse with an adolescent, the active party shall be executed and the passive party, if he has not been reluctant, shall receive a flogging of up to 74 lashes.

Art. 113: Where an adolescent commits homosexual intercourse with another adolescent, they shall receive a flogging of up to 74 strokes of the whip unless one of them has been reluctant.

Art. 114 to 126 establish how to prove homosexual intercourse.

Art. 127 to 134 relate to lesbian sexual relations. Punishment for sexual intercourse among lesbians is 100 lashes and in case of recidivity (3 times) execution.

So far, UNHCR has not been able to trace any cases of execution only on the grounds of homosexual relations. In fact, the burden of proof is quite high and it would be difficult to prove homosexual liaisons or intercourse. According to some reports in local papers there have been instances of execution of homosexuals. It is not confirmed whether the homosexual act alone led to execution or whether the person was accused on other charges too.

Art. 121-122: Tafhiz (the rubbing of the thighs or buttocks) and the like committed by two men is punished by 100 lashes. On the fourth occasion, the punishment is death.

Female sexual relations7

Art. 127: Mosaheqeh (lesbianism) is the homosexuality of women by genitals.

Art 128: The ways of proving lesbianism are the same by which the homosexuality (of men) is proved

Art 129: Punishment for lesbianism is one hundred (100) lashes for each party

Art 130: Punishment for lesbianism will be established vis-à-vis someone who is mature, of sound mind, has free will and intention. Note: In the punishment for lesbianism there will be no distinction between the doer and the subject as well as a Muslim or non-Muslim.

Art 131: If the act of lesbianism is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, (a) death sentence will be issues the fourth time.

Art 132: If a lesbian repents before the giving of testimony by the witnesses, the punishment will be quashed; if she does so after the giving of testimony, the punishment will not be quashed.

Art 133: If the act of lesbianism is proved by the confession of the doer and she repents accordingly, the shari’ah judge may request the leader (valie amr) to pardon her.

Art 134: If two women not related by consanguinity stand naked under one cover without necessity, they will be punished to less then (one) hundred (100) lashes (taazir). In case of it?s repetition as well as the repetition of punishment, (one) hundred (100) lashes will be hit the third time.

Evidence & Repentance
Articles 114 to 126 establish how to prove homosexual intercourse. In summary, the required evidence can be any of the following:

– four confessions from the accused, or
– the testimony of four righteous men who witnessed the act, or
– through the knowledge of a Shari’ah judge derived through customary methods?

Articles 125 and 126 further specify that if sodomy, or the lesser crimes referred to above, are proved by confession, and the person concerned repents, the Shari’ah judge may request that he be pardoned. If a person who has committed the lesser crimes, i.e. homosexual activities other than sodomy, repents before the giving of testimony by the witnesses, the punishment is quashed.

Regarding the quashing of penalties as a result of repentance, the UK Home Office?s CIPU report quotes a Canadian IRB report of May 1997, allegedly stating that ?if the accused repents before the witnesses testify, the penalty will be quashed”

lol,I don’t know where you hear that but it is a big fat lie,Iran is the #1 country to hang gays just look it up at the internet,sometime ago an Iranian cleric visited an American university and he said that there were no gays in Iran and that homosexuality was a western disease.

Wow, as an inspiring journalism major, you sure know jack shit about anything unless working at Faux News is what you are aiming for. Shirley honey, I hate to break this to you, but it is not too late to seek another more less ethically challenged career where plausible deniability can be creamed as the tenet of your unfounded credence. I lived 2/5 of my life in Iran and sure hell know far more than someone who passively accepts every piece of trash he happens to read on the Internet.

For crying out loud, even adhering to your failed journalistic approach, a quick look on the Internet should leave no doubts in veracity of my statement. There is no denying that transsexuality, not only isn’t illegal, but actually encouraged by the government. What other country would even come close to that?

current. com/items/76312142_transsexuality_in_iran

guardian .co. uk/world/2005/jul/27/gayrights.iran

Your pointless gabber was debunked.

Now as far as homosexuality, I can attest to the fact that there are many such cliques who congregate at designated parks and homes. In my neighborhood, there was a house famous for gay hangout and a pizza parlor no farther than 15 mins walking distance always packed with gays and lesbians. What you do not cognizant of is that as long as ANY establishment keeps a “low profile” and most importantly is not a critique of the regime, it would not be harassed.

So, it does not matter whether you are running an art center or even a religious establishment, if you go up against the regime, you get sacked. Finally, if your entire preception is shaped around one or two reports, which you have miserably misconstrued, then I suggest you go back and re-read them. The latest execution incident reported was NOT due to homosexual activity but rather an alleged “rape of a MINOR.”

Ya, the perpetrator was a male so was the victime which makes him “gay.” But that doesn’t change the fact that he was hung due to sodomizing a 13-year-old. Iran is not a safe haven for gays but also nothing like what it has been portraited either. As a matter of fact, according to UNHCR, “So far, UNHCR has not been able to trace any cases of execution only on the grounds of homosexual relations.”

ecoi. net/file_upload/mv100_cois2001-irn. pdf

“Iranian cleric visited an American…”

Stop embarrassing yourself with your misinformed, self-congratulatory remarks. He was a president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, and he is NOT a cleric. Second, he did not stay “there are NO homosexuals;” as someone who is verse in Farsi language and knowledge of intentional distortion of information purported by regularly media, I can tell you this, what he said was mistranslated. He claims that homosexualy “is not as common as” it is in the West, which is true.

His notion of homosexuality being a “problem” was clearly stated in his utterance that, “We do not have such ‘problem’.” Just like “wipe out Israel off the map” quote which was taken out of context, this one surely followed the same pattern. Go edcuate yourself and stop schmoozing to the mainstream media.

Oh ya, by the way, if you are inviting gays to this country where Hagee and Robertson are armed to teeth with their anti-gay mentality, go no further than our one and only Westboro Baptist Church:

godhatesfags. com/visual/photos/fagseatpoop. jpg
godhatesfags. com/visual/photos/pedophilerapeenablers. jpg

Or perhaps president Bush who stated he wouldn’t mind homosexuals but he would not allow them to work in his office — talking about blatant discrimination. Since when the US cared about “people” let alone gays. Get off of your high horses man.

By this time many people I am writing to will have
received the calls for July 19 demonstrations to
commemorate what are widely identified as the hangings
of two “gay†teenagers in Mashhad, Iran last year.

Human Rights Watch has spent the last seven months
researching a report on human rights abuses based on
sexual orientation and gender identity in Iran. We
have amassed a great deal of information about the
situation there. We have campaigned against a range
of human rights abuses in Iran for decades (for a
rundown of some of the other issues we’ve addressed,
see Because some
of that information may be useful to you in deciding
whether or how to participate in these demonstrations;
because HRW has already been cited, not always
accurately, in some of the controversies around the
demonstrations; and because those controversies are
already becoming angry and vituperative, I want to
share some of our perspectives on the claims that are
now being made about Iran: as well as an explanation
of why HRW isn’t endorsing these events.

*FIRST:* The demonstrations revolve around the central
claim that the two young men who were hanged in 2005
were “gay,†were lovers, and were hanged for
consensual homosexual conduct. This claim is largely
based on speculation. Initial accounts in the
Farsi-language press inside and outside Iran—most
notably a detailed story in the local Mashhad
newspaper on the morning before the boys’ execution
in 2005—described how they were convicted of the
rape, at knifepoint, of a 13-year-old boy. The only
reason the claim that the boys were hanged for
consensual homosexual relations gained currency in the
first place was a mistranslation of the initial press
report dealing with the alleged rape. (See below for

The mistranslation was circulated round the world,
then refuted. I am afraid that while various parties
have let their reputations hang on “proving†the
consequent story of consensual relations, no direct
evidence has been introduced which substantively
supports it. (The best single account of how the story
of “gay hangings†story achieved currency remains
Richard Kim’s, at

From the beginning, HRW has said that:

– It is impossible to reach a final conclusion
about the criminal trial in Mashhad, given the opacity
of the Iranian justice system and the authoritarian
system in general, media censorship included.

– The preponderance of evidence suggested that
the youth were tried on allegations of rape, with the
suggestion that they were tried for consensual
homosexual conduct seemingly based almost entirely on
mistranslations and on cursory news reporting
magnified by the Western press.

– There is no basis for imputing a Westernized
“gay” identity to these youths. We have no idea what
their behavior was or how they would have identified
themselves, given the complexities around identity and
sexuality in Iran.

We have also stressed that:

– The sentence passed on the youths violated human
rights in multiple ways. It deserved the strongest
condemnation. (See our letter to the head of
Iran’s judiciary about the case,

– One case should not be used as a barometer to judge
the level of legal repression of homosexual conduct.

– In Iran, it can be documented that such conduct
incurs both torture and the death penalty. Meaning,
among other things, that no LGBT-identified Iranian
asylum seeker should be sent back there.

(More information about all these issues can be found
immediately following this message.)

A period of several months followed, after the
publicity given Mashhad, during which Iranian
(non-LGBT!) diasporic organizations were desperately
trying to identify virtually every single execution
that happened in Iran as gay-related. The reason was
simple: they suddenly had a naïve but attentive
audience which would pay attention to information
about human rights abuses in Iran.

Some reporters—particular Doug Ireland—seized
uncritically on these stories and painted a picture of
a “intensifying reign of terror†or “pogromâ€
against gay men going on in Iran. None of these cases
were ever proven to involve consensual sex; most
clearly did not. Some of them clearly involved
*heterosexual* rape! While Doug Ireland and others are
claiming that the Ahmedinejad regime is carrying out a
massive crackdown on gays, there is no evidence for
this. The evidence suggests a steady pattern of
police repression over at least a decade, but
assertions that a “pogrom†is now going on are
unfounded in fact.

Why do these details matter, if repression in Iran is

Because crying wolf is a bad strategy for achieving
change. Because if human rights advocates don’t
deal in facts instead of speculation, they lose all
credibility in future crises. Because (as explained
below) these misrepresentations actually work against
the interests of Iranian asylum-seekers abroad who
need real support for their cases, not unproveable
claims. Because a whole campaign of demonstrations
predicated on a single murky case could actually play
into the hands of the Iranian government if these
claims are proven wrong.

Finally, I am deeply disturbed by the apparent
indifference of many people to the alleged rape of a
13-year old. Nothing justifies torture and the death
penalty. They are utterly unacceptable punishments
for any crime. Still, many advocates around the
Mashhad case disagree with this–or feel they cannot
condemn the treatment of the two executed youths
unless they were “gay†in a Western sense, and
demonstrably “innocent.†Some campaigners as a
result simply dismiss the possibility of violent
sexual assault against another child. This is not a
matter to be passed over lightly.

*SECOND*: The tactics and rhetoric of the organizers
behind the demonstrations have often been, from my
perspective, problematic or even misleading. I have,
I should say, great respect for Doug Ireland’s
reporting in the past. Over the last year, he has
conducted individual interviews with Iranian survivors
of torture and abuse which are authentic and
compelling. However, he has also constructed charges
of an ongoing “pogrom†in Iran out of virtually no
evidence. He has misidentified multiple cases as
“gay killings†on little or no basis whatever. His
rhetoric has gotten wide coverage, but it is not
responsible reporting.

Recipients of this e-mail in the US will probably know
Michael Petrelis, another key organizer of the
campaign; those outside the US may not. To call him a
controversial figure in the gay movement would be an
understatement. Over the past few years—for
example—he has repeatedly allied with right-wing
conservative members of Congress in urging them to
defund HIV/AIDS organizations that engage in
programming for gay people which he regards as
“obscene.†I am not sure how he got involved with
the issue of sexual orientation in Iran, but one could
hardly say that his central role inspires confidence
in the agenda.

Over the weekend, judging by the listserve and e-mail
traffic I’ve seen, attacks on people who raise any
questions about the demonstrations have taken on an
increasingly personal, bullying, and vituperative
tone. Organizers have called dissidents
“childish,†“jejune,†and “liars†; it’s
been suggested that they are “sectarian apologists
for the Islamic Republic of Iran.†(I hope I
don’t need to comment on the level of menace
contained in throwing that language at a person of
color in the US in 2006.) While the organizers have
claimed they are open to different agendas for the
demonstrations, organizers have also suggested that
“There is something seriously wrong with someoneâ€
who voices opposition to the death penalty while
questioning the various versions surrounding the
Mashhad case. Human Rights Watch doesn’t propose
to associate itself with these verbal assaults.

In fact, it’s entirely legitimate to ask of these
demonstrations—as of any demonstration—whom they
are targeting and what they are meant to achieve.
Publicity is not, in itself, a strategy. Anybody who
watches the news knows this is a particularly
sensitive moment in US and European relations with
Iran. US pressure on the Ahmedinejad regime has
mainly succeeded in making it enormously popular
internally (popularity which anecdotal accounts
suggest it may actually be reluctant to endanger at
the moment by expanding intrusive morals policing).
Questions about the facts aside, I would feel more
confident about the call for demonstrations if I saw
signs that the principal organizers in the US and UK
acknowledged this context, or had a clearer sense of
how to change, not just challenge, Iranian policy and

HRW has been working closely for months now with the
Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (PGLO), a group
of largely diasporic LGBT-identified Iranians
providing support for asylum-seekers and increasingly
trying to advocate for change. Our organizations
don’t agree on everything—nor would Human Rights
Watch, unlike some others, claim to speak for
them–but they are incredible and invaluable and have
helped us document other serious and ongoing abuses. I
urge everyone to support them, and I look forward to
their speaking out with a completely independent voice
on these issues. We are considering convening a
meeting of activists and groups involved with the
Iranian situation, possibly in Toronto after our
report is launched, to plan an intelligible course of
action and advocacy for the future. What is
desperately needed now, it seems clear to me, is
coherent thinking about strategy.

*THIRD*: For the organizers of the July 19
demonstrations, changing Western countries’ asylum
policies with regard to LGBT Iranian refugees is a key
demand. We agree. Those policies are brutal. All the
worst features of refugee policies with regard to
sexuality—-an inability to understand the
complexities of identity, an incomprehension of the
closet, a colluding complicity with the social
imposition of secrecy—come to the fore, coupled with
the post 9/11 mistrust of any and all immigrants from
the Muslim world.

Jessica Stern and I have written over 50 affidavits
for Iranian asylum-seekers persecuted on the basis of
sexual orientation and/or gender identity, in over a
dozen countries, since last November. We’ve
listened to terrifying and moving stories. And we
want to make clear that the single-minded focus of
many advocates on the Mashhad case does not help
asylum-seekers. It pins their fates and lives on a
single undetermined case, rather than on an analysis
of the overall situation in Iran. An unfortunate
side-effect of the whole media firestorm has been
that, in the eyes of governments, “proving” what
happened in Mashhad has become the linchpin for
determining states’ obligations to
asylum-seekers–instead of examining Iran’s overall
and provable record on sexual orientation as well as
other issues, and instead of looking at host
countries’ absolute obligation not to return people to

Most people need no reminder of the photographs that
were circulated showing last year’s execution in
Mashhad. The pictures show with heartrending intensity
the enormity of executing those youths. Yet in such a
murky case the reasons for mourning will differ
according to people’s interpretations of the
facts–whether they think the youths were “gay,”
whether they see them as victims of torture, whether
they condemn the execution of minors or the death
penalty in general. I do wonder somewhat at the sense
I get from some that their sympathies will be shut off
if the youths can’t be identified, in a way that they
can mirror or share, as “gay.” I also wonder at the
apparent reluctance to listen seriously to women’s
rights campaigners (in Iran and elsewhere) who might
have something to say about the very real prevalence
of rape in a highly patriarchal and often-violent
country; or to listen to children’s rights
campaigners, who might have something to say about
taking lightly charges of sexual abuse against

I’m not a position to make a final statement about
that case, or to offer any conclusive recommendation
about what people should do. HRW is going to
concentrate on releasing its report on abuses based on
sexual orientation and gender identity in Iran, and on
advocating around it. We will not be participating in
these demonstrations: they’re predicated on
speculations too broad and representations too
inpugnable for us to join. However, on HRW’s behalf
I simply urge that people think carefully about the
expressed agendas of the proposed demonstrations,
evaluate the facts–and try to consider what an
effective strategy for changing the ongoing violence
in Iran might actually entail.

Finally, I would ask this note not be posted to
listserves. Precisely for the sake of
asylum-seekers’ cases, we are trying to keep the
questions about this from exploding into the public
eye, where it could do further damage to refugees’

I am happy to answer questions at any time. Following
are some further details about the Mashhad case, for
those who are interested.


Scott Long

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program
Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY USA 10118
Tel. +01 (212) 216-1297
Fax +01 (212) 216-1876
E-mail: lo…

* * * * * * * * * * *

“Un pajaro de papel en el pecho
Dice que el tiempo de los besos no ha llegado.”
–Vicente Aleixandre


The one fact we—and the world– knows for certain is
that two youths in their late teens were executed in
the Iranian city of Mashhad on July 19,2005. The
*initial* reports that the youth were being executed
for “being gay” came down to the translation of a
report on the Farsi-language ISNA website. This
article was dated July 19–thus presumably posted
immediately after the executions– and referred in the
3rd paragraph to their crime only as “lavat”
(“sodomy,” from the Quranic story of Lot). This was
the part that was translated and rapidly circulated in
the Western media.

However: both the headline and the lead to the article
actually described the crime as “lavat beh
onf”–sodomy by coercion. “Onf” is an archaic term
and the article doesn’t use the colloquial term for
rape, but Iranian legal sources, and even the people
in the West who were orginally circulating an account
of the crime as solely “lavat,” agree that this is a
term of art for rape (of a male by a male).

Meanwhile, Quds daily, a local Mashhad newspaper, on
the morning of July 19–even before the
executions–contained a detailed account, apparently
based largely on court papers, of their alleged crime,
which was the rape at knifepoint of a 13- year-old

Because this information was circulated only later,
after the initial account of executions for “sodomy”
had gone round the globe, the appearance was created
that the Iranian government was in some way trying to
replace an “original” report of an execution for
consensual “sodomy” with a smokescreen story of a
rape. In fact, the chronology was the opposite,
though–the rape story came first, then became,
particularly in the West, a story of execution for

This said, and this is important to stress, *even if*
the charge was rape–and even if the proceedings,
which were held in camera and about which we hence
know nothing substantive, could be considered to have
“proven” it–nothing can justify the execution of
people for offenses committed while minors (or, in our
view, the death penalty itself), the torture they
underwent (228 lashes) or the ferocious public
character of the executions. Professor Anna Enayat of
St Antony’s College, Oxford has documented a number
of the peculiarities of the case in comparison to
other alleged rape cases in Iran–the masked
executioners, the unusual interview on the way to the
gallows–which suggest that the youth were executed in
part as a symbolic gesture. As professor Enayat has
communicated to us, though, this doesn’t necessarily
mean the symbolic gesture was directed at homosexual
conduct per se. More likely, it was meant to show how
severely the regime planned to treat moral offenses in

However, one reason for our persistent skepticism
about the subsequent attempts to prove a) that the
youths were “gay,” b) that they were executed for it,
has to do with this chronology. Several committed
themselves to this version at the start; found that
essentially all the reasons they had endorsed it
disappeared when one looked closely at the media
reports; and then, it would appear, started to search,
retrospectively, for other evidence to support the
claims they’d already made. Neither HRW nor anyone
else can say authoritatively that they are wrong or
right in continuing to make those claims. We can only
say that we are still skeptical.

The main evidence subsequently introduced for the
claim that the youth were gay comes from Afdhere Jama,
the editor of Huriyah. According to Afdhere, three
sources inside Mashhad have told him that they saw the
two youths, in the summer of 2003, together at a gay
party in Mashhad.

I have the greatest respect for Afdhere and absolutely
no reason to doubt anything he says. However, his
sources have refused to speak to anyone else,
including human rights investigators. From a
professional standpoint HRW simply can’t adduce a
second- or third-hand account as evidence. Moreover,
even if we did, it would not prove that (as one writer
says) they were “lovers, not rapists.” It wouldn’t
bear on the rape “charge” at all; it wouldn’t even
necessarily prove that they were lovers. It would
prove that they were at a party.

The other key argument is the claim that Iranian
authorities, in cases of lavat or consensual “sodomy,”
routinely add on additional charges of rape or other
crimes, extracting “confessions” to these offenses by
torture if necessary.

This claim has largely arisen since the Mashhad
executions. Given what we have already described as
the opacity of the Iranian justice system–and its
many documented irregularities and persistent
corruption–it is entirely possible. I want, though,
to run through some of the reasons that have been
offered for why the Iranian authorities might do this.

a) It’s claimed that the Iranian authorities have
learned that executing or torturing people for
homosexual conduct will incur criticism from the West
(in particular)and so they want to conceal the fact.
This doesn’t make sense to me. The regime has shown
itself fairly shameless and insusceptible to pressure
in persecuting political dissidents and ethnic and
religious minorities, all of whom have considerable
constituencies of supporters both inside and outside
the country. I don’t see why they should be
particularly embarassed about executing people
“guilty” of same-sex relations–who don’t enjoy such
strong or wide support.

b) It’s claimed that Iranian authorities want to
discredit “gays” (and presumably lesbians, though they
tend to be left out of these arguments altogether) by
smearing them with additional offenses. This also
does not make a lot of sense to me. In the regime’s
intensely moralistic view, as well as in a society
which everyone agrees is intensely patriarchal and
overtly homophobic, the accusation of homosexual
conduct should be smear enough–it is probably worse
than rape in many (not just religious) eyes. (Nor is
it evident why they should single out homosexual
conduct as requiring added opprobrium. But so far as
I know, no one has claimed the regime is at pains to
burden e.g. adulterers with additional charges to
secure their complete discredit.) To the contrary:
the Quranic and social contempt for homosexuality
seems sufficiently great that I’m somewhat surprised
the government doesn’t use lavat (as Ceausescu used
sodomy charges in old Romania) as a smear to discredit
political opponents.

c) It’s claimed that the authorities need to throw on
additional charges because charges of lavat are hard
to prove. This also doesn’t make a tremendous amount
of sense to me.

-First, the claim is predicated on the fact that most
sexual offenses in Iranian shari’a require evidence
from four witnesses to prove: but for sodomy, as for
many other such offenses, the “knowledge of the judge”
(in practice, circumstantial evidence) can substitute,
giving extremely easy scope for convictions.

-Second, this might explain why prosecutors would add
on non-sexual offenses which have a lower standard of
proof; not why they would add charges of rape which
also require, *in principle*, four witnesses.

-Finally, if you can torture people into confessing to
something else such as rape (as you undoubtedly can),
you can torture them into confessing to lavat.

d) It’s claimed that the legal system itself
encourages rape charges in cases of lavat. This could
take several forms: for instance, a participant in
consensual homosexual sex may be encouraged to claim
rape in order, as a “victim,” to escape punishment
which otherwise would strike both partners. Or
prosecutors or judges may simply refuse to believe
that (in particular) a passive partner would
voluntarily incur the “shame,” and may simply assume
one would only submit to it by force. This argument
seems to me entirely believable. I say this based also
my experience elsewhere in the region (e.g. Egypt) and
in other countries where sodomy laws give rise to
extortion and dire misrepresentation.

The problem is that, while as we say this adding-on of
charges seems plausible (particularly for reason d),
it is being presented as a proven fact–and so far as
we know no one has yet shown a single case where it
can be demonstrated as such. We haven’t even seen
instances where family members or other people close
to the case come forward to make the assertion
publicly. The plausibility of argument d) should
certainly give rise to questions about cases where
lavat is coupled with a rape charge—-though hardly
enough to say anyone should throw out an alleged rape
victim’s testimony. But we cannot say without
further evidence that it is a fact of Iranian

Unfortunately, in the months after the publicity
around Mashhad, a few *non-LGBT* diasporic Iranian
organizations started repeatedly reporting executions
as having been for consensual lavat. Most of these,
so far as we can make out, weren’t. Iran has one of
the highest rates of execution in the world. (Many of
these are for drug-related offenses.) There was a
spike in executions in 2005 even before Ahmedinejad
took office. The sudden attention to one particular
death-penalty case seemed to give exile groups an
opportunity and an audience for talking about the
crisis of the death penalty in Iran, which few people
had paid much attention to before. But in the process
almost any execution for any sexual (or other) offense
seemed to be capable of being called a “gay
killing.†In some of these cases there was
absolutely no reason to suppose they had anything to
do with homosexual conduct. For instance, Iran Focus
reported in September that “Four young men between
the ages of 17 and 23 were hanged in public in the
port city of Bandar Abbas.†Without researching the
cases further, Doug Ireland immediately added these to
his roster of likely gay cases. In fact two of the men
were convicted of breaking into a house for robbery
and of raping a woman; and the other two allegedly
raped three young girls, 10, 7, and 8 years old. Both
HRW and IGLHRC did a statement on one case in Gorgan,
in late 2005, where the first Iranian press reports
indeed suggested that the executed men had a history
of rape and violence, but seemed to distinguish this
from the offense that led to their execution.
However, the Persian Lesbian and Gay Organization
subsequently indicated to us that in their view this
was probably a case of rape.

I should add that most of the gay-identified men (in
particular) whom we asked about the Mashhad case
during HRW’s research said they believed the men had
been hanged for consensual homosexual conduct. This
is not to be taken lightly. However, none of them had
direct knowledge of the case and I don’t discount
the possibility that they reached this conclusion
largely based on the emotional response in the Western
media. I should also note that Iran is extremely rich
in rumor and conspiracy theory. Ervand Abrahamian has
an excellent chapter on this in his collection of
essays “Khomeinism,†and more and more I feel this
should be required reading for anyone trying to
negotiate a way through what Dilip Hiro calls the
Iranian labyrinth.

What we can say is that, regardless of these recent
cases, our research shows clearly that executions for
consensual “sodomy”, tried as such, do take place and
are a serious human rights issue. Surveillance and
detentions by regular police, basiji (religious
police), and other religious parapolice, are common.
People are detained regularly, in raids on private
homes and on cruising areas and as a result of other
forms of surveillance, including internet entrapment
and phone wiretaps. When they are arrested they are
tortured–flat-out, without exception. Sometimes the
torture is the result of a criminal sentence (usually
floggings); sometimes they are beaten severely or
sexually abused in pre-trial detention. Women whose
sexualities do not conform to heterosexual norms face
domestic violence, forced marriage, forced psychiatric
and medical treatment, and other abuses.

I must also stress yet again that the existence of the
death penalty for homosexual conduct, and the
widespread practice of torture, mean that governments
have an *absolute* obligation under international law
not to refoul people back to Iran where they might
face those penalties.

# #
# Iran & Stoning #
# #
Iran ‘adulterer’ stoned to death
Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The Iranian judiciary says a man has been stoned to death for adultery – the first time it has confirmed such an execution in five years.
Jafar Kiani was executed last week in a village in north-west Qazvin province.
UNHCR/ACCORD: 7th European Country of Origin Information Seminar
Berlin, 11-12 June 2001 – Final report

There have been reported instances of stoning in the past few years. However, the last report of the UN Special Representative for Iran (dated 8 September 2000) indicates that stoning appears finally to be declining in Iran. In March 2000, the press quoted the Ministry of Justice spokesperson as stating that stoning may not be in the country’s interest, and that the Head of the Judiciary believes that it should avoid acts which could insult and taint the country’s image. (for recent cases of stoning please see p. 24-25 of this report)

There have been 26 reported cases of stoning to death, 17 of them women. The actual number is much higher.

According to a secret report obtained by an Iranian opposition group from within the regime, there have been 10 cases of stoning in the first six months of 2002. There have been at least three established cases of stoning and four stoning to death verdicts in 2002.

A woman and a man were stoned to death in September in the city of Naghadeh (northwest Iran) after 15 years of imprisonment.

In his last report to the UN General Assembly in August 2001, Prof. Maurice Danby Copithorne, the UN special Representative on Iran reported: “Since January 2001, the Special Representative has received information concerning the stoning of two women and the sentencing to death by stoning of at least one other. According to reports in the press, an unnamed woman was stoned to death at Evin prison, Tehran, on 20 May 2001. The woman, aged 35, was arrested eight years ago on charges of acting in pornographic films. In January 2001, the Supreme Court reportedly upheld the death sentence by public stoning of Maryam Ayoubi, 38, convicted for the murder of her husband. Iranian press reported her stoning to death in Evin prison, Tehran, on 11 July 2001. A third woman, named Robabeh, was also reportedly sentenced to death by stoning in June 2001 for the murder of her husband. The Special Representative has raised these reports with the Government. He urges the Government to remove article 82 (b), concerning stoning, from the Islamic Criminal Code and to undertake a policy of actively suppressing recourse to stoning throughout the country.”

Laws sanctioning stoning to death

Article 83 of Islamic Punishment Act stipulates stoning for adultery for a married man and a married woman.

Article 102 of Islamic Punishment Act stipulates that “for stoning, men should be buried up to their waist and women must be buried up to their chest.”

Article 104 of the Islamic Punishment Act states that when carrying out stoning, “the stone should not be so big as to kill the offender with one or two stones. Nor should it be as small as peddles.”

Article 89 of Islamic Punishment Act stipulates: “If the individual is sentenced to flogging and stoning, flogging is carried out first and stoning is carried out consequently.”

Article 93 of Islamic Punishment Act stipulates stoning women to death for even an ailing women and states: “Whenever a woman who is sick or is even on her period, is sentenced to death or stoning to death, the sentence has to be carried out.”

Article 99 of Islamic Punishment Act stipulates: “Whenever the act of adultery by one individual is confirmed based on his or her own testimony, during the stoning process, the religious judge should throw the first stone and others would follow. But if adultery is confirmed based on the testimony of witnesses, first the witnesses throw stones and then the religious judge and subsequently the others.” In an amendment to this Article, it is stated: “the lack of presence of the religious judge or not throwing the first stones by the religious leader or the witnesses would not prevent the sentence from being carried out; it should be carried out under any circumstances.”

Article 101 of the Act stipulates: “It is adequate that the religious leader should notify people about the time of carrying out stoning and it is required that a number of believers, no less than three, be present at the time of carrying out the sentence.”

Article 107 stipulates: “The presence of witnesses is necessary at the time of carrying out the stoning but their absence would not make it null and void. But if the victim manages to pull him/her out of the ditch, the stoning would be called off.”

# #
# Prostitution #
# #
Iranian child victim of prostitution By Julia Rooke
Thursday, 29 November 2007

Sold into prostitution aged nine, condemned by an Iranian judge to hang at 18, Leila was saved by a group of human rights activists.

# #
# Iran & Divorce #
# #
UNHCR/ACCORD: 7th European Country of Origin Information Seminar
Berlin, 11-12 June 2001 – Final report

Despite the provisions in the Civil Code, whereby a man can divorce his wife whenever he wishes, in practice a man cannot divorce his wife without referring to the Special Family Court in order to register the divorce with divorce registry offices that would require the certificate of irreconcilable differences, issued by the Court or a Court order, denoting that the registry is allowed to carry out the registration (immoral onduct, etc.). It would appear that the divorce rate has increased in the last few years and that the Family Courts are confronted with an increasing number of women seeking divorces.

# #
# Power in Iran #
# #
This is the most influential body in Iran and is currently controlled by conservatives. It consists of six theologians appointed by the Supreme Leader and six jurists nominated by the judiciary and approved by parliament.

Members are elected for six years on a phased basis, so that half the membership changes every three years.

The council has to approve all bills passed by parliament and has the power to veto them if it considers them inconsistent with the constitution and Islamic law. The council can also bar candidates from standing in elections to parliament, the presidency and the Assembly of Experts.

Reformist attempts to reduce the council’s vetting powers have proved unsuccessful and the council banned all but six of more than 1,000 hopefuls in the 2005 elections.

Two more, both reformists, were permitted to stand after the Supreme Leader intervened. All the female candidates were blocked from standing.
Millionaire Mullahs
Paul Klebnikov, 07.21.03

A looming nuclear threat to the rest of the world, Iran is robbing its own people of prosperity. But the men at the top are getting extremely rich.

Who controls today’s Iran? Certainly not Mohammad Khatami, the twice-elected moderate president, or the reformist parliament. Not even the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei–a stridently anti-American but unremarkable cleric plucked from the religious ranks 14 years ago to fill the shoes of his giant predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini–is fully in control. The real power is a handful of clerics and their associates who call the shots behind the curtain and have gotten very rich in the process.

The economy bears more than a little resemblance to the crony capitalism that sprouted from the wreck of the Soviet Union. The 1979 revolution expropriated the assets of foreign investors and the nation’s wealthiest families; oil had long been nationalized, but the mullahs seized virtually everything else of value–banks, hotels, car and chemical companies, makers of drugs and consumer goods. What distinguishes Iran is that many of these assets were given to Islamic charitable foundations, controlled by the clerics. According to businessmen and former foundation executives, the charities now serve as slush funds for the mullahs and their supporters.

He played it smart, aligning himself in the 1960s with factions led by Ayatollah Khomeini, then becoming the go-to guy after the revolution. A hard-liner ideologically, Rafsanjani nonetheless has a pragmatic streak. He convinced Khomeini to end the Iran-Iraq war and broke Iran’s international isolation by establishing trade relations with the Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the 1990s he restarted Iran’s nuclear program.

He is also the father of Iran’s “privatization” program. During his presidency the stock market was revived, some government companies were sold to insiders, foreign trade was liberalized and the oil sector was opened up to private companies. Most of the good properties and contracts, say dissident members of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, ended up in the hands of mullahs, their associates and, not least, Rafsanjani’s family, who rose from modest origins as pistachio farmers. “They were not rich people, so they worked hard and always tried to help their relatives get ahead,” remembers Reza, a historian who declines to use his last name and who studied with one of Rafsanjani’s brothers at Tehran University in the early 1970s. “When they were in university, two brothers earned money on the side tutoring theological students and preparing their exam papers.”

The 1979 revolution transformed the Rafsanjani clan into commercial pashas. One brother headed the country’s largest copper mine; another took control of the state-owned TV network; a brother-in-law became governor of Kerman province, while a cousin runs an outfit that dominates Iran’s $400 million pistachio export business; a nephew and one of Rafsanjani’s sons took key positions in the Ministry of Oil; another son heads the Tehran Metro construction project (an estimated $700 million spent so far). Today, operating through various foundations and front companies, the family is also believed to control one of Iran’s biggest oil engineering companies, a plant assembling Daewoo automobiles, and Iran’s best private airline (though the Rafsanjanis insist they do not own these assets).

The gossip on the street, going well beyond the observable facts, has the Rafsanjanis stashing billions of dollars in bank accounts in Switzerland and Luxembourg; controlling huge swaths of waterfront in Iran’s free economic zones on the Persian Gulf; and owning whole vacation resorts on the idyllic beaches of Dubai, Goa and Thailand.

Until a few years ago the simplest way to get rich quick was through foreign-currency trades. Easy, if you could get greenbacks at the subsidized import rate of 1,750 rials to the dollar and resell them at the market rate of 8,000 to the dollar. You needed only the right connections for an import license. “I estimate that, over a period of ten years, Iran lost $3 billion to $5 billion annually from this kind of exchange-rate fraud,” says Saeed Laylaz, an economist, now with Iran’s biggest carmaker. “And the lion’s share of that went to about 50 families.”

One of the families benefiting from the foreign trade system was the Asgaroladis, an old Jewish clan of bazaar traders, who converted to Islam several generations ago. Asadollah Asgaroladi exports pistachios, cumin, dried fruit, shrimp and caviar, and imports sugar and home appliances; his fortune is estimated by Iranian bankers to be some $400 million. Asgaroladi had a little help from his older brother, Habibollah, who, as minister of commerce in the 1980s, was in charge of distributing lucrative foreign-trade licenses. (He was also a counterparty to commodities trader and then-fugitive Marc Rich, who helped Iran bypass U.S.-backed sanctions.)

The other side of Iran’s economy belongs to the Islamic foundations, which account for 10% to 20% of the nation’s GDP–$115 billion last year. Known as bonyads, the best-known of these outfits were established from seized property and enterprises by order of Ayatollah Khomeini in the first weeks of his regime. Their mission was to redistribute to the impoverished masses the “illegitimate” wealth accumulated before the revolution by “apostates” and “blood-sucking capitalists.” And, for a decade or so, the foundations shelled out money to build low-income housing and health clinics. But since Khomeini’s death in 1989 they have increasingly forsaken their social welfare functions for straightforward commercial activities.

Until recently they were exempt from taxes, import duties and most government regulation. They had access to subsidized foreign currency and low-interest loans from state-owned banks. And they were not accountable to the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance or any other government institution. Formally, they are under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Leader; effectively, they operate without any oversight, answerable only to Allah.

According to Shiite Muslim tradition, devout businessmen are expected to donate 20% of profits to their local mosques, which use the money to help the poor. By contrast, many bonyads seem like rackets, extorting money from entrepreneurs. Besides the biggest national outfits, almost every Iranian town has its own bonyad, affiliated with local mullahs. “Many small businessmen complain that as soon as you start to make some money, the leading mullah will come to you and ask for a contribution to his local charity,” says an opposition economist, who declines to give his name. “If you refuse, you will be accused of not being a good Muslim. Some witnesses will turn up to testify that they heard you insult the Prophet Mohammad, and you will be thrown in jail.”

Other charities resemble multinational conglomerates. The Mostazafan & Jambazan Foundation (Foundation for the Oppressed and War Invalids) is the second-largest commercial enterprise in the country, behind the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. Until recently it was run by a man named Mohsen Rafiqdoost. The son of a vegetable-and-fruit merchant at the Tehran bazaar, Rafiqdoost got his big break in 1979, when he was chosen to drive Ayatollah Khomeini from the airport after his triumphal return from exile in Paris.

Khomeini made him Minister of the Revolutionary Guards to quash internal dissent and smuggle in weapons for the Iran-Iraq war. In 1989, when Rafsanjani became president, Rafiqdoost gained control of the Mostazafan Foundation, which employs up to 400,000 workers and has assets that in all probability exceed $10 billion.

Theoretically the Mostazafan Foundation is a social welfare organization. By 1996 it began taking government funds to cover welfare disbursements; soon it plans to spin off its social responsibilities altogether, leaving behind a purely commercial conglomerate owned by–whom? That is not clear. Why does this foundation exist? “I don’t know–ask Mr. Rafiqdoost,” says Abbas Maleki, a foreign policy adviser to Ayatollah Rafsanjani.

A picture emerges from one Iranian businessman who used to handle the foreign trade deals for one of the big foundations. Organizations like the Mostazafan serve as giant cash boxes, he says, to pay off supporters of the mullahs, whether they’re thousands of peasants bused in to attend religious demonstrations in Tehran or Hezbollah thugs who beat up students. And, not least, the foundations serve as cash cows for their managers.

“It usually works like this,” explains this businessman. “Some foreigner comes in, proposes a deal to the foundation head. The big boss says: ‘Fine. I agree. Work out the details with my administrator.’ So the foreigner goes to see the administrator, who tells him: ‘You know that we have two economies here–official and unofficial. You have to be part of the unofficial economy if you want to be successful. So, you have to deposit the following amount into the following bank account abroad and then the deal will go forward.'”

Today Rafiqdoost heads up the Noor Foundation, which owns apartment blocks and makes an estimated $200 million importing pharmaceuticals, sugar and construction materials

Iran’s foundations are a law unto themselves. The largest “charity” (at least in terms of real estate holdings) is the centuries-old Razavi Foundation, charged with caring for Iran’s most revered shrine–the tomb of Reza, the Eighth Shiite Imam, in the northern city of Mashhad. It is run by one of Iran’s leading hard-line mullahs, Ayatollah Vaez-Tabasi, who prefers to stay out of the public eye but emerges occasionally to urge death to apostates and other opponents of the clerical regime.

The Razavi Foundation owns vast tracts of urban real estate all across Iran, as well as hotels, factories, farms and quarries. Its assets are impossible to value with any precision, since the foundation has never released an inventory of its holdings, but Iranian economists speak of a net asset value of $15 billion or more. The foundation also receives generous contributions from the millions of pilgrims who visit the Mashhad shrine each year.

What happens to annual revenues estimated in the hundreds of millions–perhaps billions–of dollars? Not all of it goes to cover the maintenance costs of mosques, cemeteries, religious schools and libraries. Over the past decade the foundation has bought new businesses and properties, established investment banks (together with investors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and financed big foreign trade deals.

The driving force behind the commercialization of the Razavi Foundation is Ayatollah Tabasi’s son, Naser, who was put in charge of the Sarakhs Free Trade Zone, on the border with the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan. In the 1990s the foundation poured hundreds of millions of dollars into this project, funding a rail link between Iran and Turkmenistan, new highways, an international airport, a hotel and office buildings.

Then it all went wrong. In July 2001 Naser Tabasi was dismissed as director of the Free Trade Zone. Two months later he was arrested and charged with fraud in connection with a Dubai-based company called Al-Makasib. The details remain murky, but four months ago the General Court of Tehran acquitted him.

Iran’s most distinguished senior clerics are disgusted by the mullahcrats. Ayatollah Taheri, Friday prayer leader of the city of Isfahan, resigned in protest earlier this year. “When I hear that some of the privileged progeny and special people, some of whom even don cloaks and turbans, are competing amongst themselves to amass the most wealth,” he said, “I am drenched with the sweat of shame.”

Meanwhile the clerical elite has mismanaged the nation into senseless poverty. With 9% of the world’s oil and 15% of its natural gas, Iran should be a very rich country. It has a young, educated population and a long tradition of international commerce. But per capita income today is 7% below what it was before the revolution. Iranian economists estimate capital flight (to Dubai and other safe havens) at up to $3 billion a year.

# #
# British/US and Revolution #
# #
Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

# #
# Jews in Iran #
# #

The Jews Of Iran

From the Australian SBS current affairs show “Dateline” hosted by George Negus. Shows the Jews of Iran living freely in Iran…despite what many in the West think. The President of Iran called for an end to the criminal Zionist State of Israel and not the LITERAL wiping off the map of the Jews of Palestine.

Britian has ALWAYS had good relations with Iran no matter who is in power. The U.S also, while on the surface appearing hostile, has been a good supplier of weapons and technology to Iran both directly and through third parties.

# #
# Mojahedin-E Khalq #
# #

Bravura performance, but bovine feces from start to finish.

“1- the channel was erased due to the uneducated people posting against mojahedin.”

Oh, just as you thought a bastion of “democracy” couldn’t hold its ground. Funny how democracy only applies to the proponents of one’s ideology but when it comes to someone exposing their sanguinary agenda, they buckle under the pressure and spew the same tyrannical reasoning any dictator employs to silence the voice of dissent. Do you understand the gist of the freedom of speech and expression? I guess not.

“2- Are they as vicious as the regime? How can you say this? What evidence do you have that mojahedin even killed 1 civilian or committed any act of terrorism all together? Surely the European courts would have heard it. If some of the top lawyers in the world were unable to provide this evidence I’m afraid your chance of finding it is slim to none.”

Oh, brother. I am bearing witness to one’s intellectual bankruptcy. Ya, keep telling yourself that the Mujahedin never used “terrorism” to achieve its objective. It must have been someone else — even though the same organization has openly claimed responsibility — who carried out bombings in the 80’s. What are you smoking man, can I have a puff? Are you a cerebral handicap or simply forgot that the Mujahedin is on the “US terrorist list” and rightfully so? They just happened to be a useful puppet for the moment to provide misery intelligent for certain agencies or else their existence would have been vanquished long ago. Never underestimate the power of denial.

“3- They are not as fanatical as any islamic fundamentalist. Would any islamic fundamentalist allow a woman to lead in any position?”

Fundamentalism does not discriminate against genders. These goons are as religious as the mullahs in Iran except their whole tenet stems from cultist mentality with Marxist twist.

“Would they allow women and men to even stand next to eachother”

Your contrite laden apology for these people has no boundaries. What does that have to do with anything anyway? Haven’t you seen the Pasdaran’s female brigades standing next in line with their male counter part? Under what rock did you crawl out lately? At every theatrical charade that the Mujahedin formulates, there is always a gender line drawn in the audience — there is no mingling. Pakistan also had a female president; look where they are now.

“Look at the leader of the PMOI – Maryam Rajavi, a woman. Look at the leading posts within the mojahedin organization, all ran by women.”

Once again, how does that pertain to the initial premise that they are a fundamentalist organization? Your lame brain red herring was noted.

“Their ideology consists of a democratic basis with strong roots of feminism.”

HAHA! That’s what the Khomenie touted prior to the revolution. He consistently denied any desire to take on a political role in the society but look where it got us all. Ya, I’ve seen how their “democratic” process in Mujahedin is truly realized — a throne passed from the husband to the wife, like a modern day feudalism.

“Yes they are muslim, but to say they are fundamentalist muslims is out of the question.”

They are not just Muslim; they are radical Muslim. Their views are skewed and Iran doesn’t need another group of animals rule over them through theocracy. Their ideologies is borrowed from the radical Marxism which is a receipt for disaster when it mixed with radical Islam. Fundamentalism doesn’t just come in one color.

“4- Compulsory donation? I know first hand that donations are voluntary. Don’t even try to fool me on this one.”

Oh, I am sorry, when you are in a cult and systematically incapable of making any critical decision on your own, you aught to do as the master demands: handing your hard earned money to these people so they can construct massive stage shows for their personal self-aggrandizement. It’s a great platform to snake-charm the impressionable minds while funneling the funds into their propaganda wing of the organization — the media. I wasn’t born yesterday sonny boy.

“5- Family is in fact allowed to enter. Yes there are certain restrictions but understandably so. Mojahedin are a milita, there is strict order, rules, and discipline that must be adhered to.”

I am sure they do, like the ones who had traveled from Iran to see their love ones but had them delivered to them in pair of escorts while watchfully examining their conversations. Indeed, conducting a family visitation like a true “free” society. As you said it, they are “militant” who want to rule Iran. Isn’t it the same dilemma Iran is facing right now, Sepah is gradually marginalizing the clerics and paving the road for “military dictatorship?” Now you offer these militant, Marxist, Islamist radicals as the proper replacement? The hell is a matter with you?

“I know this first hand as my cousin is currently in Ashraf and a mojahed.”

I knew you had some affiliation with these radicals or else no one in the right mind would ever defend them with such lengthy response. Tell the idiot cousin of yours to grow more than two brain cells and get the hell out of that circus. I suppose when the family tree has an extensive breadth, gullibility and stupidity are bound to take its hold.

“6- People are allowed to leave whenever they want. This also happened to some people I know and they still support mojahedin. They left for either personal reasons, or because they thought life as a militaman was not for them.”

I am sure they did. It’s just that they were relegated to other serfdom duties. Docile and meek to the wishes of the Mrs. Rajavi. Quick, she is visiting her servile minions, go call all the supporters and dress them up in a monotonous fashion and have them weep conniption when she waves. Worship your false idol for all I care but don’t except the Iran to make another colossal mistake again. I bet you’ve watched her delivers a poignant and emotionally charge speeches and have them memorized by heart. I know every participant is required to do so.

“7- Mojahedin is the largest opposition group to the mullahs. They are the only group capable of grappling with this regime and bringing it to its knees.”

Stalin’s Communist Russia was also the largest opposition against the Nazis, what’s your point? You are trying to promote one wrong over another. Nice try. Mujahedin couldn’t hold their act together for more than a few days in the 80’s. The regime in Iran ever since, and regretfully, has developed militaristic potency that dwarfs the hyped up piffle you muster here.

The system in Iran has been devised in such that not only it can respond to the external threats, but the most dominant force (Revolutionary Guard) is shaped to handle any internal opposition with swift action. That alone pretty much makes the role of the Mujahedin’s militia, who has been reduced to nothing since the invasion of Iraq by the US forces, futile. Iran is not going to be freed militaristically. I don’t even trust these people to guard my deodorant let alone “bringing [the regime] to its knees.” What the hell are you blabbering about? A terrorist act doesn’t bring a well established regime who has rooted into communities through Sepah and Basij to its knees. Get real.

“8- They didn’t join with Saddam. Yes they established a base in Iraq under saddam but they did not engage in joint military maneuvres against the Iranian regime. Mojahedin attacked Iran in 1986 after Khomeini rejected a ceasefire with Iraq. ”

Now you are splitting hair here. Have at least an ensemble of honestly so you can look yourself in the mirror tomorrow morning with the straight face. Of course they didn’t conduct a joint venture operation; they were out there encroaching into Kurdish territories “with” the total financial and logistic aid by Saddam — same difference. Ya, and guess what happened after that? The regime butchered all the prisoners in the span of several months once the war was over. They were just looking for some excuse to purge the country from the opposition groups. Bottom line is Mujahedin helped Saddam and no one will ever forgive them for that treacherous act, period. It’s like expecting Russians to embrace the Red Army soldiers who collaborated with Nazis while 25 million of their countrymen died defeating the invaders. That very fact alone illustrates how far you’ve divorced yourself from reality.

“9- Mojahedin are a large, extremely organized, and potent force. They are playing a strong role in the destabilization of the government.”

Whack, whack, whack! The head of the organization has enslaved these people by brainwashing them with sweet music of radical Marxism and Islamic philosophies. Their effort is simply a euphemistic rationalization to bait for more “feeders” so they can suck their wallet and brain clean.

“Along with the iranian people, Mojahedin are fighting for the same cause – democracy, freedom, and human rights.”

Such pabulum of spiel might fly high in the land of make belief but has no foundation in the chain of reality. There is no freedom when you join a cult let alone adherence to human rights. Mujahedins have engaged in similar tactics as the regime does to extract information from the opposition and there is no doubt in my mind that they would contract the same procedures if they get a chance to take over. But luckily, their biggest demise would come due to their ultra-Marxist view as no sane Western country would want a Communist-oriented government to rule over Iran.

“There is a very strong moral correlation between mojahedin and the people of iran. Mojahedin are in iran.”

Stop the broken tape. You are really disgracing the Iranian people with your prattle. Your arrogance is unimpressive, unconvincing, lack luster, and a complete personification of your abundant ignorance. The next thing that probably is going to come out your mouth is the recent events have been orchestrated by MEK.

“If no one wanted mojahedin in iran, if they had no support, or if they were as cultist and fanatic as you say they are, why is the regime so scared from them?”

You just answered your own run-around question in the panoply of assumptions. They appear to exude the same characteristic as the ruling regime; evil fears evil.

“The reason is because they have support and are the anti-thesis to the ruling mullahs.”

Indeed, the branch Davidian also had some support. Look where they end up: in a burning inferno of cultist hell.

“I am not a mojahedin supporter. I am not a muslim. I don’t believe in some of the things they say. What I do believe in however is that Mojahedin are the only ones that can bring democracy and freedom to Iran. ”

Don’t patronize me with your pronounced credulous simpleton tosh and drivel. There is no democracy in Marxist/Communist/cultist/ultra-Islamic group of intellectually challenged group of peasants who take order from an emotionally disturbed individual. Take your sermon of idioticy some place where people only respond to binary formats.

“If you don’t want to listen to a thing i said about mojahedin that’s fine, but at least listen to me when I say this… You don’t come off as intelligent when you do this.”

Classic cretin mooing while taking a shit the size of a dinner plate! So which is it, not listen to you when you “talk” or listen to you when you “say” it? I’ve noticed incoherency is the instinct you generously exhibit in your fine writing.
P. 6
Dubious Exile Allies
The regime-change thesis might seem more plausible if we had not heard similar arguments in the years leading up to the Iraq war.32 Indeed, the argument for regime change and the strategy embodied in the Iran Freedom Support Act33 are eerily reminiscent of the approach adopted with respect to Iraq between 1998 and 2003. Congress also passed and funded an Iraq Liberation Act during that period. American policymakers swallowed the self-serving propaganda of Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress, which said that with just modest U.S. financial and logistical support Iraqi factions
opposed to Saddam Hussein would be able to overthrow his regime. It has since become apparent that the INC never had more than a meager domestic following.

(Chalabi’s party garnered less than 0.5 percent in the December 2005 parliamentary elections in Iraq.) There are manipulative (and in some cases utterly unsavory) Iranian exiles waiting in the wings to pull the same con game on Washington. 34 They include notorious arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, a shadowy figure in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. 35 Perhaps the most unsavory opposition group is the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), which even the U.S. State Department considers a terrorist organization.36 The MEK , an organization founded on a combination of Islamism and Marxism, has a long history of terrorism and cult-like behavior.

The MEK is the military wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), regarded by many neoconservatives as a key ally in the effort to overthrow the Iranian clerical regime. After moving its base of operations from France to Iraq in 1986, the MEK was reportedly funded by Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime and sent into combat against Iran. It has also been implicated in the killing of American citizens.37 Currently led by a married couple, Masoud and Maryam Rajavi, the organization has increasingly become a cult of personality.38 That reputation does not discourage some neoconservative proponents of regime change from making common cause with MEK activists.39 In May 2003, scholars Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy recommended that “when the secretary of state next decides whether or not to re-certify the MEK as a terrorist organization,” that official “should come to the sensible conclusion that it poses
no threat to the security of the United States or its citizens.” Pipes and Clawson went on to praise the MEK as a potential U.S. ally, citing the organization’s “key information” about Iran’s nuclear program and other activities of the Iranian regime.40 In November 2005, Raymond Tanter, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stated that an effective U.S. policy requires working with Iranian opposition groups in general and with the main opposition in particular. The National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) are not only the best source for intelligence on Iran’s potential violations of the nonproliferation regime

The NCRI and MEK are also a possible ally of the West in bringing about regime change in Tehran.41 He declared, with little evidence, that the MEK and the NCRI were the only opposition groups the clerical leaders feared. In addition to the dubious wisdom of supporting groups like the NCRI and the MEK, the assurances that significant U.S. military assistance would be unnecessary to effect regime change in Iran should be greeted with skepticism. In the case of Iraq, such assurances were quietly buried when regimechange advocates became impatient with Saddam Hussein’s continuing ability to cling to power. Saddam’s overthrow was carried out by a massive application of U.S. military power, with the much-touted exiles playing the role of embarrassing hangers-on. If the United States adopts a strategy of regime change in Iran, it is likely that an even greater military effort will be required
What about mojAhedin-e Khalgh?

And after the Revolution and particularly after the 30th of Khordad of 1360, I have written extensive critics of mojAhedin’s move to Iraq, state ownership in their program, the “Islamic” tag of the ideal republic in their program, the cult-like practices of their organization, and all other aspects of the program they have been advocating for future of Iran in the last 20 years.

The PMOI’s original ideology was based on an interpretation of Islam, influenced by Ali Shariati. According to Shariati, Islam promoted and required revolution “against despotic rulers, foreign exploiters, greedy capitalists and false clerics.”[19] According to the U.S. Department of State’ presentation of the PMOI, the philosophy of the PMOI is a combination of Marxism, Nationalism and Islam.[,M1
Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements By James DeFronzo

P. 291

The religious opposition enjoyed the support of many bazaaris, who not only tended to be strongly religious but also experience considerable damage from certain of the shah’s policies. These included the promotion of modern western-style shopping centers to the detriment of the bazaars, urban development projects that destroyed some bazaar districts, and government price inspection teams that, in carrying out their function of combating inflation by suppressing excessive profiteering by bazaar merchants, precipitated many arrests.

Many bazaaris shifted from their 1953 position of seeing the shah as bulwark against communism to viewing him as an un-Islamic agent of corrupting foreign cultural and economic interests.

p. 292

By the early 1970’s two groups developed the capacity to launch limited armed attacks against the shah’s regime: the Fedayeen-e Khalq (Martyrs of the People), a secular, Marxist-oriented group, and the Mujahideen-e Khalq (Islamic Soldiers of the People), an Islamic leftist movement. The Fedayeen developed out of a union in 1970 of three Marxist groups initially organized by university sutdents and writers in Tehran, Mashad, and Tabriz. Man of the Fedayeen were the children of modern middle-class parents who had been involved in either the Tudeh or the left wing of the National Front. Ideologically, the founders appeared to draw on the Debray-Guevara theory of the guerrilla foco.

The Mujahideen-e Khalq, like the Fedayeen, had its origins in the early 1960’s. But many of its members were the children of parents in the highly religious traditional middle class. The Mujahideen were a manifestation of modernists Shiism and were influenced by a number of prominent Iranian Islamic figures who themselves never directly participated in the group and may not have approved of its voilent actions.

The central themes of modernists Shiism were that Islam, if properly interpreted, could provide Iranians with a progressive ideology capable of modernizing Iran, achieving a more equitable distribution of wealth, and protecting the nation from foreign cultural domination and economic exploitation. Among its major proponents was Mehdi Bazargan, who attempted to demonstrate a compatibility between scientific knowledge and Shiism. He called for a future Islamic government run not by clergy but by highly educated lay administrations and technically trained individuals who were dedicated to Shiism.

p. 293

Another insiprational modernist figure for the Mujahideen was Ali Shariati, a famous Iranian sociologist and political activist who is regarded as one of the “two most important pesons whose writings exercised an all-pervading influence on the Iranian people” in the years leading up to the revolution. Shariati, unlike several past revolutionary theorists who held that religious beliefs generally inhibited social revolution, argued that Islamic doctrine, property interpreted, promoted and required revolution. Sharitati believed that the Prophet Muhammad had intended to create a classless society but that his mission had been subverted. He asserted that “true Muslims had the duty to fight against despotic rulers, foreign exploiters, greedy capitalists, and false clergymen who use Islam as an opiate to lull masses into subservience.”

After the 1963 repression, nine young members of Bazargan’s and Taleqani’s Islamic Liberation movement split off to form the Mujahideen. As one founder put it, “it was the duty of all Muslims to continue the struggle begun by the Shia Imams to create a classless society and destroy all forms of despotism and imperialism”. The Mujahideen launched its first military actions in August 1971.

After 1972 the Mujahideen developed an ideology more closely aligned with Marxist concepts. Many in the Tehran branch abandoned Islam as the basis of revolutionary thought in favor of secular Marxist thinking, but most Mujahideen outside of the capital continued to adhere to Islam. This division led to a split and two separate organizations after May 1975, with the secular Marxist offshoot eventually adopting the name “paykar.”
Democracy for Iran
National Council of Resistance of Iran

United States, European Union, Canada, Iraq and Iran have designated the PMOI a terrorist organization.
of 29 November 2005
updating Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism and repealing Common Position 2005/725/CFSP

25. Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MEK or MKO) (minus the ‘National Council of Resistance of Iran’ (NCRI)) (a.k.a. The National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA, the militant wing of the MEK), the People’s Mujahidin of Iran (PMOI), MuslimIranian Student’s Society)
Country Reports on Terrorism
Released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
April 30, 2007

Chapter 6 — Terrorist Organizations

Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK)
a.k.a. MKO; Mujahedin-e Khalq; Muslim Iranian Students’ Society; National Council of Resistance; National Council of Resistance (NCR); Organization of the People’s Holy Warriors of Iran; The National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA); The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI); National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI); Sazeman-e Mujahedin-e Khalq-e Iran

Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) aliases cited are consistent with and drawn from the Specially Designated Nationals list maintained by the Department of Treasury.
National Council of Resistance of Iran – Foreign Affairs Committee
The Mujahedin el-Khalq (MKO or MEK) main base is at Camp Ashraf, Iraq, about 100 kilometers west of the Iranian border and 60 kilometers north of Baghdad. The People’s Mujahadeen, also known by its Persian name Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), has been classified by Washington as a terrorist organization. Washington announced on 22 April 2003 that it had reached a ceasefire with the MEK. The next day MEK officials said the agreement allowed the MEK to keep its weapons and carry on its activities in Iran from Camp Ashraf. But June 2003 the US Military Police took control of Camp Ashraf and the MEK was consolidated and all weapons secured by MPs. As of September 2003 the 4,000 MEK members in the former Mujahedeen base were consolidated, detained, disarmed and were being screened for any past terrorist acts.,+Iraq&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=51.04407,81.738281&ie=UTF8&ll=34.056997,44.602175&spn=0.052621,0.079823&t=h&z=14

Camp Ashraf or Ashraf City is situated northeast of the Iraqi town of Khalis, about 20 kilometers west of the Iranian border and 60 kilometers north of Baghdad. The city of Ashraf was named in commemoration of Ashraf Rajavi, a famous political prisoner at the time of the Shah. Camp Ashraf is currently an Iranian refugee camp in Iraq guarded by they United States military
Pearl Memorial is a small cemetery built in 1991 inside Ashraf City. Pearl only houses the graves of a small number of combatants of liberty who lost their lives in their struggle against the regime.
Camp Ashraf – Iraq

June 2004
Under Saddam Hussein, Iranian rebels received help and funding to wage war on the mullahs. But the new government has pledged to repatriate them, where they face execution.

Camp Ashraf, Iraq, is home to 4,000 Iranian exiles. With Saddam’s support, they formed a militia, the People’s Mujaheddin, to overthrow the mullahs in Iran. But with Saddam now gone, they face an uncertain future. The new Iraqi government has pledged to repatriate them as soon as they gain sovereignty. But that’s a prospect that’s worrying many. “If they return to Iran, they’re going to be executed straight away,” fears Iranian exile Mohammed Sadeghpour. Lawyer Bruce Henry is adamant that deporting the camp’s residents would violate international law. But even he knows their safety is not guaranteed admits he “would be very nervous if I was sitting in Camp Ashraf today.”
Parents of MKO members in Camp Ashraf – Baghdad 2003

Parents and siblings of members of Mojahedin organization trying to visit their children/brothers/sisters in Camp Ashraf in late 2003. Most of people have travelled a long way and they have not spoken or seen their children/brothers/sisters for years. All they hope to do is to be allowed to see their loved ones, for even a few minutes. The reaction from the Mojahedin is harsh and hostile. They allow some family members to go inside Camp Ashraf, but with constent supervision and no time alone with their loved one.
Bombs threaten to sway Iranian agenda
By Gareth Smyth in Tehran

Published: June 12 2005 19:47 | Last updated: June 12 2005 19:47

At least eight people were killed and more than 70 injured by explosions at the Ahvaz governor’s office, the city’s housing department and the residence of the head of provincial broadcasting.

There was no immediate evidence of links between the bombings in Tehran and Ahvaz, but such attacks have been rare in Iran since the end of the 1980-88 war with Iraq.

It is three years since the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an armed Iranian opposition group, fired mortars at regime targets in Tehran, although earlier MEK attacks coincided with parliamentary elections in 2000.,0,4974258.story
Iranian president arrives in Iraq – By Tina Susman and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

March 3, 2008

Ahmadinejad and his Iraqi counterpart condemn an Iranian opposition group under U.S. guard northeast of Baghdad.

he presidents of Iran and Iraq today harshly condemned an Iranian opposition group here which has ties to U.S. neoconservatives and remains under the shelter of American forces.

The armed opposition group, which sometimes goes by the abbreviations MKO, MEK or PMOI, fought the Iranian government during the 1980s, when it received shelter from Saddam Hussein. Both Europe and the U.S. State Dept. list the group as a terrorist organization.

But as tensions between the U.S. and Iran have mounted, some in Washington have cultivated ties with the group and advocated using them to destabilize the Tehran government. Numbering up to 3,000, they remain under U.S. guard at their former base northeast of Baghdad.
Saddam’s Private Army
How Rajavi changed Iran’s Mojahedin from armed revolutionaries
to an armed cult
Anne Singleton, Iran-Interlink, 2003

The in-fighting between the Islamic Mojahedin and the Marxist Mojahedin, continued until after the revolution, when the Marxist Mojahedin changed their name to Paykar and operated from Kurdistan where they still exist as a small group.

PART II. From World War I To The Present

by Lewis Lipkin

The socialist and radical forces continued to cooperate with the clerics for only a short time. As early as mid 1979, many on the left perceived that their dream of a “true” revolution was rapidly receding in the face of the growing consolidation of power of the IRP. Not only had the new constitution conferred almost limitless power on the government that confronted the would-be left revolutionaries, but Khomeini had already established the system of his personnal representative in each of the 60-odd administrative districts, representatives who reported directly to him and to him only. Also at the government’s disposal, in fact a part of it, was the Pasdaran, the para-military force, that was rapidly being furnished heavy equipment including armor.

The spearhead of any counter-government revolt would have to be the Mojahedin. Some of the leadership had gone underground in 1979, but by 1981 the party could count on more than 100,000 supporters. Of the other pre-revolutionary parties, fragments of the Fadayan and the Paykar could be counted on, but the Soviet sponsored Tudeh and a minor part of the Fadayan declared support for the clerical government.
“… executions were facilitated by a September 1981, Supreme Judicial Council circular to the revolutionary courts permitting death sentences for “active members” of guerrilla groups. Fifty executions a day became routine; there were days when more than 100 persons were executed. Amnesty International documented 2,946 executions in the 12 months following Bani Sadr’s impeachment, a conservative figure because the authorities did not report all executions. The pace of executions slackened considerably at the end of 1982, partly as a result of a deliberate government decision but primarily because, by then, the back of the armed resistance movement had largely been broken. The radical opposition had, however, eliminated several key clerical leaders, exposed vulnerabilities in the state’s security apparatus, and posed the threat, never realized, of sparking a wider opposition movement.”[LOC]

The leftist threat was not the only one faced by the government. The Kurds in the westen provinces begun a revolt in 1979 and stubornly persisted during the leftist revolt and the Iran-Iraq war. The left, partially because of Marxist theory, could not bring itself to cooperate with the Kurdish nationalist movement. The Kurds finally were forced out of Iran into northern Iraq by Army and Pasdaran forces.

President Bani Sadr’s long power struggle with the IRP ended in his dismissal in June 1981. He was impeached, went into hiding and later escaped to France. At this point the Mojahedin rebellion flared, marked by a series of terrorist attacks. Assassination of key officials was topped by the bombing of IRP headquarters. At least 70 were killed, including the secretary-general of the party, Ayatollah Behesti, and the head of the Supreme Court. Other bombings killed the new president, Rajai, and former Khomeini student, Ayatollah Bahonar. The government’s response was direct, merciless and effective.
“The government responded to the Mojahedin challenge by carrying out mass arrests and executions. At the height of the confrontation, an average of 50 persons per day were executed; on several days during September 1981, the total number executed throughout the country exceeded 100. Although the government dramatized its resolve to crush the uprising by conducting many of these mass executions in public, officials showed little interest in recording the names and numbers of the condemned. Thus, no statistics exist for the total number executed. Nevertheless, by the end of 1982 an estimated 7,500 persons had been executed or killed in street battles with the Pasdaran. Approximately 90 percent of the deaths had been associated with the Mojahedin, and the rest with smaller political groups that had joined the Mojahedin in the attempt to overthrow the government by armed force. The efforts to root out the Mojahedin were accompanied by a general assault on procedural rights. The Pasdaran and specially recruited gangs of hezbollahis [coveys of street-fighters controlled by a single cleric] patrolled urban neighborhoods, ostensibly looking for the safe houses in which supporters of the Mojahedin and other opposition groups were suspected of hiding. They invaded such homes and arrested occupants without warrants. Persons suspected of insufficient loyalty to the regime were harassed and often subjected to arbitrary arrest and expropriation of their property. Extensive purges were initiated within all government ministries, and thousands of employees who failed loyalty tests were dismissed. Complaints were voiced that government agents eavesdropped on telephone conversations and opened private mail to collect information to use against citizens. The courts generally failed to protect individuals against violations of due process during this period.” [LOC]

# #
# 1979 Revolution #
# #
Carter’s Comments Rekindle Long Standing Hatred Among Iranians
by Karmel Melamed
Contributing editor
August 2007

Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian Jewish activist and director for the L.A. based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran, said Iranian Americans are particularly angered at Carter and his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski who encouraged the revolution in Iran and its former leaders including the Ayatollah Khomeini, Mehdi Bazargan, and Ibrahim Yazdi. Nikbakht said both Carter and Brzezinski believed at the time that an Islamic government in Iran would help encircle the former Soviet Union and would totally decimate Iran’s leftists.

“In a frontline country like Iran just south of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, with a sea of oil beneath it and sitting on the northern shores of the Persian Gulf– who O.K.ed the soft handover of an entire regime to a new revolutionary power even before the radical left sparked the violent uprising in February 1979, which was opposed by the Islamic leadership?” said Nikbakht. “During and following a regime such as the Shah’s which was so dependent on the U.S. and Britain nothing like this– the participation of the army and the Iranian secret police (SAVAK) in the handover- could have happened without their approval”.

Further proof of Carter’s activities in ousting the Shah was revealed in a 2004 interview with Ibrahim Yazdi, a close confidant and former representative of Khomeini to Western nations, in the now defunct “Nameh” Persian language magazine based in Iran. In the interview, Yazdi discussed the many correspondences he received directly from Carter and then personally relayed to Khomeini in 1978 prior to the revolution.

“These correspondences were going on long before the Shah left Iran and Khomeini had promised Carter in a letter that he would not disturb the follow of oil from Iran if he came to power,” said Yazdi in his interview. “Then Carter in his last correspondence to Khomeini said the Shah will be leaving soon and asked Khomeini to return to Iran and accept Shapour Bakhitar as the new prime minister in order to avoid a conflict between the mullahs and the military in Iran”.

# #
# Ibrahim Yazdi #
# #
The Odyssey of Ibrahim Yazdi
Monday, May. 07, 1979

An aide to Khomeini during the Ayatullah’s exile in France, Yazdi returned to Tehran on the 747 that brought Khomeini home in triumph, and became Deputy Prime Minister for Revolutionary Affairs in the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan.

State Department officials recall that during the attack on the American embassy last February Yazdi’s timely arrival on the scene settled the situation and possibly saved American lives. On the other hand, some American reporters in Iran worry about the stridency of Yazdi’s public statements. In an address last week to the police academy he denounced “Zionist newspapers like the New York Times and TIME” for denigrating Khomeini, adding that Zionism was “one of the greatest enemies of our revolutionary movement.”
Mideast & N. Africa Encyclopedia: Ibrahim Yazdi

In 1978 he frequented Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s headquarters in France. When he returned to Iran in 1979, he was appointed deputy prime minister, and in 1980 he became foreign minister in the cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan’s provisional government. He was among the group of Bazargan’s friends who constituted the nonclerical, moderate figures in the Islamic movement and who cooperated closely with the Revolutionary Guards. He also headed the nationalized Kayhan Publishing Group, which produced a daily newspaper whose circulation rate exceeded that of all the other Tehran dailies. He was elected to the Islamic parliament as a deputy from Tehran (1980 – 1984). In the falling-out between the moderates and the more radical Islamic Republican Party affiliates (1979 – 1981), the latter won. After falling from political favor, Yazdi devoted his energies to revitalizing the Liberation Movement of Iran, which now functioned as the only tolerated – albeit eventually officially banned – opposition party in the political landscape of Iran.
My Century
Broadcast on Friday 24th December 1999

* Chartered French airplan with loads of reporters as a human shield

the civil airline in Iran arranged independently a flight from Tehran to Paris to bring Khomeini back. They called it the Revolutionary Flight. But we didn’t trust them, because we knew that there was a possibility that the army might attack, or the army might force the aeroplane to land in some remote area So we didn’t accept that. Instead, we chartered an Air France plane. In addition to that, we took with us more a hundred and twenty journalists – reporters from all over the world. I have to confess that we took them as a human shield, so to speak. We knew that nobody would dare to shoot at such a plane, with so many reporters, from so many nationalities.

* Bullet proof jackets

Before we left Paris, a friend of mine sent three bullet-proof jackets for us, from America, one for me, one for Mr Ahmad, Khomeini’s son, and one for Khomeini himself.
Why Iran Can’t Become the New China

September 14, 2005
Asia Times Online
Pepe Escobar

Yazdi deconstructs the idea exposed by many “rightists” of Iran rising to become the new, Muslim China. “There are three components – economic development, social freedom and political expression. The Iranian authorities are only equipped for suppression. Social freedoms in China – like freedom for boys and girls to get together – are no problem in China, as long as they don’t involve anything political. The dress code was never an issue. The Iranian government, on the other hand, keeps hammering an Islamization of social behavior. Even novels are censored – there is no kissing in novels published in this country.”

Yazdi appreciates how “the Chinese divorced themselves from the Cultural Revolution. They put Mao’s [Zedong’s] widow and her cohorts in prison. They released liberals, and invited them to government. The Communist Party decided to remove any ideology. Only nationalism remained. Can Iranian authorities divorce themselves from Islam? No. They do have a problem.” He adds, “The Chinese understand the world superbly, how to explore all international opportunities in favor of implementing their goals. They have extended their economic relationship with the US.” He compares it with Iran’s Kish Island, a free zone in the Persian Gulf shores that is “a separate entity, and was not supported enough to set an example”.

* Montazeri and how he got shafted by Khamenei

It all comes back to the holy of holies, the problem of Khamenei’s legitimacy. Yazdi is extremely attentive when he learns about the official list of eight marja’as – sources of imitation – according to the clerical establishment in Qom. “So Montazeri is not on the list? But he’s the most influential of them all.” Yazdi remembers how, five years ago, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri literally opposed the Supreme Leader, saying, “You are not qualified to issue a religious verdict.” On top of it, Montazeri always insisted that the Supreme Leader must be a spiritual guide, and that control of the police, state security, armed forces and state media is certainly not part of his attributes.

Montazeri – who was Khomeini’s most prized colleague and political confidante – remains a giant thorn in the side of the regime. He was to be Khomeini’s successor – as designated by the imam himself, and confirmed in 1984 by the Council of Experts. But three years later he was already enmeshed in a web of revolutionary intrigue branding him a “liberal”, ie, counter-revolutionary, just like Bazargan and Yazdi.

Montazeri happens to be one of the world’s leading authorities on velayat-e-faqih – a doctrine that is the Shi’ite theological version of Plato’s philosopher-king. He was the president of the assembly of experts that drafted the constitution of the Islamic republic. And the constitution was explicit: the faqih must be a marja’a.
Tribunal of General Mehdi Rahimi – who shortly after this kangaroo trial was executed by the savage Islamic Republic.

# #
# Mossadegh #
# #
50 years later, Iranians remember US-UK coup By Dan De Luce
from the August 22, 2003 edition

Organized by the CIA and the British SIS to secure Iran’s oil resources from a possible Soviet takeover and secure Iran’s oil resources, the coup marked America’s first intervention in the Middle East. Its aftershocks are still being felt.

After considering military action, Britain opted for a coup d’état. President Harry Truman rejected the idea, but when Dwight Eisenhower took over the White House, he ordered the CIA to embark on one of its first covert operations against a foreign government.

# #
# Old Persian Language #
# #
The Names and the Order of the Old Persian and Elamite Months During the Achaemenian Period
By Arno Poebel

# #
# Khomeini #
# #

# #
# Official Contact #
# #
Iranian President, His Excellency Dr. Mahmood Ahmadinejad:
A Guideline for Islamic Governance 2007/12/01
In the Name of Almighty God, the All-Knowing, the Most Lovingly Compassionate

One’s perspective regarding government and governance determines the way one ?should cooperate with the people. If one recognizes government as a privilege and prey ?of the governors, then the period of governance can be counted as an opportunity to fulfill ?the expectations of certain individuals and groups or the ostentation and hedonism of the ?governors.?

But if in our view, “government” would be a responsibility before God for ?establishing justice and a duty to ensure the rights of common people, serving the ?servants of God and helping the oppressed- then the most important issue will be the ?people’s concerns. If this is the case, governors would not view themselves as better than ?other people and they wouldn’t put themselves in any other position except serving the ?people. ?

Based upon this view point, the ultimate goal is to achieve God’s approval and ?satisfaction in the way of serving His servants, implementing justice and expanding ?spirituality. This goal cannot be achieved unless fully devoting yourself to Almighty God, ?and thus even sacrificing your life and reputation for its achievement becomes sweet. ?With this type of reasoning, the happiness of an orphan who has achieved his right is ?preferable to the satisfaction of oppressive and voracious politicians. And the ?appreciation of an oppressed woman- who is emancipated from the oppression- is much ?more valuable than hundreds of official and international medals and awards. ?

The political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on this viewpoint. ?The governmental framework and the job description of the rulers is derived from the ?Islamic holy sources and texts, which are which are the best guidelines for good ?governance and honest service. ?
Fingerprinting the passengers, an image of power or an insult to human dignity 2006/11/28
? In the Name of Almighty God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

The behavior of U.S. government concerning the people of other nations is very ?supercilious and slighting. Part of the increasing hatred toward the U.S. government ?that we witness across the world, is due to the U.S. statesmen disdainful and ?oppressive position and behavior. The Iranian people as other nations of the world, ?believe that U.S. statesmen –although they do not truly represent the votes of the ?American people – but their performance as the representatives of the Americans, is ?ruining the cultural and humane image of the big nation of America. ?

Actions such as – fingerprinting the foreign nationals – deterring the other nations ?cultural, political and scientific elites and sport figures from going to U.S.- destruction ?of the environment – evasion, prolongation, renege and infringement of different ?treaties and accords – aggression of other countries territory and depredation of their ?wealth and recourses – initiation and creation of secret and medieval prisons and death ?camps with Dark Ages type of tortures – invasion of other countries and slaughtering ?women and children – not only illustrates the bad records of the U.S. rulers, but also ?have defaced and ruined the cultural and humane image of the big nation of America ?more than ever.?

Creating a destructive defaced image of the Americans reputation and respectability ?in the world public mind, and also being insulted and suppressed by U.S. ?administration concerning different matters such as wiretapping, crack down on the ?critics and opponents of the U.S. government, racial and ethnic discrimination and ?strict censorship, has now turned the American people into one of the most suppressed ?nations of the world. So the American people are today among the main victims of the ?tyrannical behavior of their own rulers.?

I personally view the decision of the U.S. government concerning fingerprinting the ?passengers as an insult to human dignity and benevolence which is very similar to ?medieval practices that belongs to a bygone era.?

Even though the Iranian people’s honest feelings – as most of the other nations of ?the world – have been hurt from these insults, but their expectation from us – as the ?authorities of the country – is that, we behave and act based upon the dignified culture ?of this land. Albeit, retaliation is our proper right, but the Iranian people are not agree ?that the human dignity of the legitimate American passengers – who indeed are ?counted as the guest of the Iranian nation- be insulted. My request from the respected ?Islamic parliament – regarding the American passengers fingerprinting act- is based ?on the aforementioned reason.?

Basically, the intelligent system of the government that controls our territories and ?borders would not let the spies or the wicked individuals get into the country. And ?they have a different view regarding them. They separate them from ordinary citizens ?of the other countries. But, in regard to reception of other passengers and regular ?people, they have an absolute friendly and humane behavior.?

All of those who travel to Iran admit the greatness of the Iranians impressive and ?highly regarded culture and outstanding hospitality. The culture that would even ?dissolves unethical groups into itself and leaves a good ethical and educational ?impression on them.?

?Our nation would welcome the cultural exchange with all other countries, and ?would like to expose their ancient culture in a scientific conduct. Accordingly, they ?would like to remove all the present obstacles which are blocking the way of a sincere ?and easy relation – between those who are interested in Iranian culture and ?civilization. For instance, in that regard, we decided to have a straight and direct ?flight from Iran to U.S. But, U.S. officials – since they were petrified and did not want ?their fabricated lies be exposed to the American nation – rejected that proposal. ?Because the American citizens – who have lived there for years, are aware of its status ?quo – are the best choice to judge the difference between the true Iranian culture and ?also the present culture which is propagated by U.S. government. They can compare ?and measure the difference and identify the lies and baseless propagation regarding ?freedom, democracy and human rights issues that certain American statesmen claim.?

?U.S. government – itself – knows the terrorists that they have raised, trained ?and nourished, very well and is aware of their status and where about. At anytime that ?U.S. government makes a decision to confront those terrorist groups and ?organizations, it can. But the white house officials – with an excuse of confrontation ?with terrorism- literally, not only they have humiliated their own people, but they ?have also contempted the people of other countries as well. By way of security barrier ?which they have created around their own people- they control their relation with ?outside world and intercept the exchange of cultural and humane enlightenment.?

I am certain that before long, all the barricades would facture and shatter and ?the doors would be opened on the suppressed people of the U.S. and these gentry ?would touch the events of the world directly – without any interference and mediator.
Freedom & Liberty 2006/12/13

In the Name of Almighty God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

In Amir Kabir University gathering – when a small number of individuals in the presence of the absolute majority of the university students and associates and the president of the country – with an absolute total freedom – without being worried – insulted the elected president of the people, I had a feeling of joy. Unintentionally, it reminded me the circumstances of those days and years that I was a university student; the days before revolution such as Dec 7, 1953 *. The black years of 1977 and 1978 that one could not breathe politically and criticize the secular government which was supported and protected by the west. The cost of criticizing the government was a death penalty or prison and torture. And now – in contrast – the situation is somehow that a small limited minority would disturb the peace of a meeting of a majority by insulting and even burning. But the majority – the university students and revolutionary professors – would tolerate it with dignity and benevolence – without engaging in a reprisal.

As a 1975 university student that I repeatedly experienced clashing and escaping from shah’s hostile police forces and also remembered that the cost of a small critic in regard to the ruling government was so heavy – in contrast – yesterday, when I witnessed such an impressive effect of the freedom and liberty – not only as Mahmood Ahmadi Nejad – I did not have a bad feeling in my heart concerning any one, but as a person who serves the nation, a president and a political chief executive of the country, I proudly admired our great liberator revolution and praised Almighty God.

This pride is plenty good enough for us that in a contrast with almost all other governments of the world that would implement dictatorship against their adversaries, in our country, a small limited individuals with a full confident and comfort, would apply authoritarianism against the government – which has come to the office by the overwhelming votes of the people – and also against the majority of the people in that gathering – altogether simultaneously. Instead of talking and listening with a calm manner and a logical reasoning in peaceful atmosphere – the estate and stature of the university students and associates – they try to disturb the peace of the meeting.

This freedom and liberty is the outgrowth of the blood of our martyr brothers and sisters. Our Reputation and all of our entities be immolated for this freedom and liberty
A Reply to an American Mother`s Message 2007/03/16
Mr. President

I am writing you this letter as a mother who her son was sent to Iraq forcibly and has been taken away from her for ever.

You may know it or not that most of the Americans do not like Bush. He is (….). We do not recognize him as our president. He entered the white house by cheating. He is not a legitimate president. Even a great number of American mothers who their sons were not sent to Iraq, are agree with me. They know Bush as (….).

Mr. President! As much as we hate war, we hate Bush and his gangs! I want you know that if you intend to attack U.S., most of the people are like me here. We can’t stop his stupid acts for now, but I am writing this letter, because I know you as a pious and logical man.

I am not scared of Bush and his gangs or his security forces, but since I do not want them to interrupt my battle and my fellow Americans’ struggle against this administration, please keep my name and identification anonymous.

With best wishes

In the Name of Almighty God, the All-knowing, the Most Lovingly Compassionate

Venerable mother


First of all, I apologize for the delay of answering your question. This is due to my heavy schedules. So far, I have received many letters – with the same type of messages – such as yours.

If your son opposed to go to Iraq and impose pressure on the people of that region, and then was forcibly taken there, certainly Almighty God would help him. And those who have forced your beloved son to go to the war are responsible for his blood and the bloodshed that they have caused. They should answer Almighty God in the Day of Judgment.

In regard to statement you have made, since I did not want my reply lead to any problem for you, did not send it through e-mail, because if some agents are getting into private life of the American citizens and eligitimatley control them, may create problem for you. Instead, I decided to post the reply on the web log that those who may have the same views such as yours, get the answer.

U.S. Nicolas tra…
Youre one of the most stupid president ever ! Im sure about half of the comments posted of this blog are just totally fake and used as propaganda.

Karil Loubas kar…
I see that you choose only what you like; this is very curios to see how much you love yourself and how much you think that people are stupid to believe that you never receive any critics.

manrix bianchi juz…
Dear and honorable president my lasts comments not was pubblied and i admire you why this? Are messages too much for show all? Long life to you and Iran and all country that no like death but life.

Jack Meyhoffer kin…
I hope someone puts a bullet in your head very soon.

Dani California
People like you take the world back to darkness instead of bringing it forward to PEACE

You are the type of man that would start WW3. You say some pretty stupid things sometimes.

ken mcfly die…
die slow …

D DuBois dal…
Cool… are these all real comments from real people? Or planted? Anyway, your blogs are somewhat formal sounding. Why not loosen up the language a little for the American readers? And could you tell us a little about your home life and your family and what your daily routine is like. Also what kind of music do you like? What is your favorite color and what is your favorite sport? and and

The Honorable Chief Justice, His Eminence Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi: and

Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Council (Parliament), His Excellency Dr. Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel:

Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki:

# #
# 300 #
# #
Dr. Kaveh Farrokh-The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction

# #
# Individuals #
# #
By: Sherri L. Shaulis

Posted: 04/16/2008
Neda Ghazanfarpour has been hired as the operations manager for Channel 1 Releasing.

# #
# Voice of Opposition #
# in Iran #
# #
March 2006
Ayatollah Montezeri was Khomeini’s heir apparent until he turned his back on the revolution he helped found. Despite the threats, he’s continued to rail against Iran’s government.

“Until the government rethinks what it is doing to this country the situation is really dangerous”, Ayatollah Montezeri states. He was stripped of his political inheritance, branded a traitor and heretic and placed under house arrest after he questioned his old friend Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Montezeri believes all violence is Unislamic. “There were no political prisoners during the reign of our prophet”. He calls for diplomatic relations with America and has spoken out fearlessly against the government’s crushing of dissidents. “It makes me laugh when I hear the press say we respect human rights in Iran. It’s a joke”.

# #
# Regime’s Crime #
# #
A Partial List of 4525 Political Prisoners Who Were Massacred by the Islamic Regime of Iran in the Summer of 1988

pejman- mohamad ali(ali kakoo) shiraz Sharivar 67 peykar
The list of 4483 political prisoners who were executed during the massacre of 1988 by the regime of Islamic republic in IRAN

# #
# Paykar #
# #
Rebels with a Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran By Maziar Behrooz

P. 121

The Marxist Mojahedin was in a rather odd position as revolution overturned the old regime. It had shifted from Islam to Marxism in 1975, had voilently purged its Moslem members, and lost some of its most important members in setbacks in 1976. Furthermore, it had purged Taqi Shahram, the mastermind of the ideological shift, rejected arm struggle a year prior to the revolution, and shifted its attention to agitation among the working class. Therefore it was in a weak position, both theoretically and organisationally, as the revolution shook the old regime. Now, it was faced with a popular Islamic movement, an emerging Moslem Mojahedin and Marxist movement whose major popular groups were at odds with it. In Februrary 1979, it officially changed its name to the Organisation of Paykar (Combat) for the Liberation of Working CLass (sazman-e-paykar dar rah azadi-ye tabaqeh-ye kargar). The Paykar was relatively small, and unprepared for the revolution, and its activities during the final days of the imperial regime were limited to some political agitation. However, after the revolution it began to reorganise.

The actual membership of the Paykar was small, and it did not attempt to bring in new members. Members who played a role in directing policies probably numbered between 30 and 50, although there were thousands of supporters who were mostly former Moslem Mojahedin members who had turned Marxist either in prison or outside. The Paykar had a five-man central committee dominated by Hosein Ruhani and Ali Reza Sepaso-ashtiani. The names of the other three central committee members never became public, but other well-known members were Torrab Haq-shenas, Puran Bazragan, Mohsen Fazel, Qasem Abedini, Ebrahim Nazari, Morteza Aladpush and Afkham Ahmadi.

From 1979 until its disintegraiton in early 1982, the Paykar was the main standard-bearer of Maoism and Stalinism in Iran. Having rejected post-Mao reforms in China, it was extermely hostile to both the Soviet Union and China. Although it considered the United States the main enemy of the revolutionary movement in Iran, it called the Soviet Union a socialist-imperialist power, the Tudeh a Soviet fifth column, and considered the Soviet threat imminent. Having rejected both the Soviet and the Chinese models, the Paykar looked at the Albania for inspiration and as a role model. Indeed its view of Soviet Union as socialist-imperialist was based solely on translations from Albanian sources, indicating a lack of doctrinal weight.

P. 122

The Paykar showed some sympathy for the Islamic liberal faction of the IRI during the early days, but soon changed its policy to one of the opposition to the state as a whole. It boycotted the referendum legitimising the IRI, but did participate in elections for the council of experts which drafted the Islamic constitution. One of the main confrontations between it and the IRI during the first two years of the revolution was over the arrest, in July 1979, and execution, in July 1980, of Taqi Shahram. The Paykar had expelled Shahram a year before the revolution, but his arrest and trail for the murder of Sharif-Vaqefi inevitably placed the organisation centre stage. The Paykar’s position, which differed from that of other Marxist organisations, must be seen in the context of the period, and was that he must be tired by a court composed of his former comrades. This meant that the IRI had to reliquish judicial authority to Marxist organisations. In the end, the case was used by the IRI to put the Paykar and Marxism on trial, and the Paykar and other groups were unable to prevent his execution.

As the standard-bearer of Maoism in Iran, the Paykar and a number of other Maoist organisations and cells arranged for a conference of unity in Tehran in My 1979. The goal was to unite Maoist groups in a united front against both the IRI and other Marxist groups. Among the participants were the Kurdish organisation, the Kumoleh, and the newly-reorganised Communist League, which was made up mostly activists from abroad. The Paykar’s position on unity was based on a belief that the communist movement was weak, and did not have a firm base among the working class, its main natural base. Its policy was that unity between Maoist groups should take place under Paykar leadership. Because of this, union was not achieved, although the Paykar managed to co-opt two small cells without offering its members full membership.

The Paykar’s relations with other non-Maoist organisations was tense for the most part. In Kurdestan, the organisation maintained a tactical alliance with the Kumoleh, the region’s Maoist organisation and second-largest rebel group. The Paykar, itself ideologically weak, acted as the Kumoleh’s ideological mentor until 1981. As the war intensified, the Paykar, like other non-Kuridish Marxist organisations opposed to the IRI, directly supported the Kurds. The Kurdish movement, however, although fighting the IRI, was divided between two main groups, the Kumoleh and the Kurdestan Democratic Party (KDP), fiercely, sometime voilently, competitive. This meant that the Paykar clashed both with IRI armed forces
The Iranian Mojahedin By Ervand Abrahamian

P. 145-148

The Manifesto (1975)

By mid-1975 the Mojahedin had won a nation-wide reputation for organizational efficiency, revolutionary fervour, and religious martyrdom. Together with the Feda’iyan, it had become the idol of the opposition and the scourge of the regime. It was in the midst of this apparent success that the Mojahedin, suddenly and without visible warning, shook the whole opposition, secular as well as religious, by publishing a vehemently anti-Islamic tract entitled Bayanieh-e e’lam-e mavaze’-e idelozhik-e Sazeman-e Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran (Manifestor explaining the ideological position of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran). Without mincing words, the Manifesto declared that the organization was henceforce discarding Islam in favour of Marxism-Leninism because Islam was a ‘mass opiate’ and at best a ‘petit bourgeois, utopian ideology’, whereas Marxism-Leninism was the real ‘scientific philosophy’ of the working class and the tru road for the liberation of mankind.

From then on there were two rival Mojahedin organizations. One was the Muslim Mojahedin which refused to relinquish the original name and accused its opponents of gaining control through a bloody coup d’etat; after the Islamic Revolution it managed to regain fully the original title. The other was the Marxist Mojahedin which initially took the full name of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran; then in 1978 assumed the label Bakhsh-e Marksisti-Leninisti-ya Sazeman-e Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran (The Marxist-Leninist Branch of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran); and finally during the revolution merged with some Maoist groups to form the Sazeman-e Paykar dar Rah-e Azadi-ye Tabaqeh-ye Kargar (The Combat Organization on the Road for the Emancipation of the Working Class). This became known as the Paykar Organization. Another group of former mojaheds who had converted to marxism while in prison but were less favourable to Maoism and had never contested the Mojahedin title, on their release from goal during the revolution formed the Sazeman-e Kargaran-e Enqelabi-ye Iran (The Organization of the Revolutionary Workers of Iran). They later became better known as Rah-e Kargar (Workers’ Road), which was the title of the their newspaper.

The Marxist and the Muslim Mojahedin have produced their explanations for the 1975 schism. According to the Marxist Mojahedin, their ‘political consciousness’ had been raised once they began to study systematically ‘dialectical materialism’, especially the works of the Marx, Lenin and Mao Tse-tung. Hence, they claimed, Marxism had revealed to them the fallacies of Islam. The Muslim Mojahedin argued that ‘pseudo-left oppotunists’ masquerading as Muslims had carefully infiltrated the organization; had gradually taken over the top positions (this had been facilitated by the 1971 mass arrests); and then, having led astray ‘young, ideologically unsophisticated recruits’, had murdered their opponents and thus is true machiavellian fashion engineered an internal coup d’etat. In this way, they had ‘stolen the organization’s heoric name’.

The real explanation of the schism, however, is far more complicated. Moreover, the conversion was not as sudden and unexpected as it at first appeared to the outside world. As early as mid-1974, one of the three branches – led by Taqi Shahram – drafted what later became the core of the Manifesto. The branch ceased holding group prayers; replaced the term baradar (brother) with the more radical appellation rafiq (comrade); and sent organizers into some of the large industrial plants in Tehran. In later 1974, the second branch – led by Aram – followed suit after an intense internal debate on the pros and cons of Islam. And in early 1975, the third branch – led by Sharif-Vaqefi – split with a significant minority voting against its own leader and with the Marxists in the rest of the organization.

The Marxist Mojahedin were neither raw recruits nor ideological simpletons. On the contrary, they contained many of the surviving intellectuals of the early Mojahedin. For example Ruhani and Haqshenas, both of whom were to play crucial roles in Paykar, had served on the origial Ideological Team. In fact Haqshenas, who was one of the few Mojahedin with a seminary education, had helped write some of the early pamphlets and also assisted the famou Ayatollah Motahhari, his theology teacher, to publish a well-known anti-Marxist tract. Taqi Shahram, who escaped from prison, had been deemed important enough in 1971 to receive one of the stiffer sentences meted out at the mass trials. Aram, who avoided arrest in 1971, had joined the Mojahedin in 1968 and had been Ahmad Rezai’s right-hand man since 1970. He had been active in religious groups since the mid-1960’s.

Jalil Ahmadian, who later became important in Paykar, had an even longer history of involvement in religious organizations. He was born into a highly religious and pro-Mosaddeq bazaari family in Tabriz. A childhood friend of Hanifnezhad, Ahmadian and Hanifnezhad attended the same high school, and went together to Tehran University where they both joined the Islamic Student Association and the Liberation Movement. Because of his important role in the Mojahedin and his arrest in Dubai in 1970, Ahmadian received a life sentence at the 1972 trials. Becoming a Marxist in goal, he led the Marxist Mojahedin Commune in Shiraz prison and joined Paykar as soon as he was released in January 1979. Two years later he met his death at the hands of the Islamic Republic.

Ali-Reza (Sepasi) Ashtiyani, another Paykar leader, had been imprisoned as early as 1964 for belonging to a religious group named the Muslim Nation’s Party (Hezb-e Mellal-e Islami). He joined the Mojahedin in 1971 while studying architecture at Tehran University, and had managed to go underground just before the mass arrest of 1971-2. His father was a small shopkeeper in Ashtiyan.

Puran Bazargan, yet another Paykar activist, was Hanifnezhad’s widow. From a devout middle-class family in Mashhad, she was the first woman member of the Mojahedin, and the principal of the Refah Girls School. Although she became a Marxist, her brother Mansur Bazargan, who had been in prison since the 1972 trials, remained a staunch Muslim. Her sister-in-law Fatemeh Amini-Bazargan, died under police torture refusing to betray her colleagues from the Muslim Mojahedin, Puran’s own sister, however, died fighting for the Marxist Mojahedin.

Mohammad Shafiiha, another Paykar leader, had been close to the Mojahedin since his years at the Alavi school. One brother had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1972 mass trials; another brother had died in 1972 when the bomb he was making had blown up. Sadiqeh Rezi, who became one of the first women martyrs of the Marxist Mojahedin, was the younger sister of the famous Rezai brothers. Imprisoned in 1972 for her Mojahedin activites, she escaped from gaol in 1974 with the help of the Feda’iyan and joined the Marxist Mojahedin. In later years, the Rezai family was to gloss over her Marxist attachments.

Lila Zomorradian, another woman martyr from the Marxist Mojahedin, was the younger sister of one of the activits sentenced in 1972 to fifteen years imprisonment. From a wealthy and highly religious family in the Tehran bazaar, she studied at the Refah School, at the Hosaynieh-e Ershad, and at the Social Work College in Tehran University where she joined the Mojahedin. She was married to Sharif-Vaqefi — the same Sharif-Vaqefi who led the Muslim opposition to the Marxists within the Mojahedin.

Morteza Aladpush, who survived to became a founding member of Paykar, had been one of the Mojahedin tried in 1972. From a wealthy and highly religious family in Tehran, Aladpush joined the strongly anti-Baha’i group named the Jojjatieh Society while at the Lavi School, and was introduced to the Mojahedin while studying architecture at Tehran University. Becoming a Marxist while serving his sentence, he led the Marxist Mojahedin Commune in Qasr prison.

P. 149

The real explanation for why so many of the Mojahedin went over to Marxism can be traced to the following three developments:

1. Their disillusionment with the anti-regime clergy, notably with Ayatollah Khomeini.

2. Their inability to make further headway among the modern educated intelligentsia — a class in Iran that had traditionally been anti-religious as well as militantly secular.

3. Their ongoing dialogue with left-wing intellectuals; with the Feda’iyan and other radical fellow prisoners; with student organizations in exile and revolutionary groups in the Arab world; and, finally, with veterans from the early Mojahedin who had already discarded Islam in favour of Marxism.

Each of these three developments warrants detailed explanation, especially at a time when Islam is constantly proclaiming its total victory over Marxism.

P. 186-187

The Mojahedin could not risk drifting too close to either side. Aligning with the ‘liberal bourgeoisie’ of the Provisional Government would have tarnished its left-wing credentials, especially at a time when other revolutionary organizations, notabley the Feda’iyan and Paykar, were threatening to outflank the Mojahedin. Most members of the Mojahedin, as well as of other leftist organizations, saw close parallels between the Russian Revolution and the Islamic Revolution, and jumped to the conclusion that Iran now faced a historical crossroad — either the ‘liberal democratic’ path towards bourgeois rule; or the ‘revolutionary democratic’ path towards working-class liberation. Few realized that th ereal choice was not between bourgeois and socialist societies, but between liberal democracy as epitomized by Bazargan, and populist imagery was costly; for by the time the Left realized its mistake the country had already been swept headlong towards Khomeini’s theocracy.

P. 190

The first skirmish between the Mojahedin and the clerical shadow government came on 13 April 1979. On that day, one of the neighbourhood komitehs in Tehran seized two of Ayatollah Taleqani’s sons on the grounds they were carrying arms; one was a Mojahedin sympathizer; and the other, Mojtaba Taleqani, belonged to the Paykar Organization. Ayatollah Taleqani, who had been complaining about the arbitrary behavior of the komitehs ever since the revolution, reacted by closing down his office and accusing the pasdars of trampling over people’s basic rights. The following day, the Mojahedin, joined by the Fade’iyan and other secular groups, poured into the streets to show their full solidarity with Taleqani. Their main slogan was, ‘Victory for Taleqani; defeat for the reactionaries’. The Mojahedin proclaimation announceing the demonstration criticized the secrecy surrounding the Revolutionary Council, and declared that ‘irresponsible elements’ had taken the law into their own hands; that ‘sinister forces’ were plotting to ‘monpolize power’, and that ‘reactionary invididuals’ were scheming to set up a ‘new dictatorship’. The Mojehding offered to place their entire organization under the personal command of Ayatollah Taleqani. In the following days, clubwielders attacked Mojahedin offices in a number of provincial cities, notably Yazd, Kashan and Abadan. This was the first time Khomeini had faced a serious challenge from the Left. It would not be the last time.
Khomeini’s grandson, Ali Eshraghi
Khomeini’s granddaughter, Zahra Eshraghi
After a series of mysterious telephone calls, a group of Armani-suited “Siths” escorted Sean Penn and his friends into the foothills near Tehran to meet with Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the late Ayatollah. Their conversation, conducted through an interpreter, centered on religion, human rights and the strained relations between the U.S. and Iran.
Khomeini’s grandson, Kassan Khomeini
Admit it
Interrogation of former agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence on video

National Union of Journalists, UK
January 22, 2002
The Iranian

The National Union of Journalists in the UK has released details of videotapes that throw light on a desperate conspiracy to conceal the truth about the serial killings of journalists and writers in Iran. Five were killed between November 1998 and February 1999.

# #
# Iran Expatriots #
# #

Three Days in Rome Redux: The Cocktail Napkin Plan for an Iran Coup
June 7, 2008

More on the covert meetings between Pentagon officials and shady Iranian expats, plus other intel details from a new Senate report

# #
# Tehran #
# #
Tehran the hottest city
Picture of Tehran
Pictures from Tehran
A compilation of pictures of Tehran, mega capital of Iran
Government Mayor – Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf

– City 1,500 km² (579 sq mi)
– Urban 686 km² (265 sq mi)
– Metro 18,814 km² (7,264 sq mi)
Elevation 1,200 m (3,900 ft)

Population (2006)
– City 7,797,520
– Density 10,000/km² (25,899/sq mi)
– Metro 14,000,000

More than half of Iran’s industry is based in Tehran. Industries include the manufacturing of automobiles, electronics and electrical equipment, military weaponry, textiles, sugar, cement, and chemical products. It is also a leading center for the sale of carpets and furniture. There is an oil refinery south of the city.

The city has numerous large museums, art centers, palace complexes and cultural centers.

In the 20th century, Tehran faced a large migration of people from all around Iran. Today, the city contains a mix of various ethnic and religious minorities, and is filled with many historic mosques, churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples.

Tehran is the biggest and most important educational center of Iran. Today There are nearly 50 major colleges and universities in total in Greater Tehran.

Since the establishment of Darolfonoon in the mid 1800s, Tehran has amassed a large number of institutions of higher education.
tehran my love2
iran tehran my love

Images from Tehran

# #
# Iranian Student #
# #

# #
# Women in Iran & #
# Their Social Life #
# #
Censored interview with a girl in Tehran, capital of Iran. She defends open relations with opposite sex And looking for American style of life.
Typical Misguided Iranian Girl and their aimless strive to pursue superficial aspects of life without clear assessment of what life is

# #
# Iran Air Flight 655 #
# #
How U.S shot down Iran Air Flight 655?

# #
# Iran & US Sanction #
# & Other Foriegn Deals #
# #
Halliburton Doing Business With the ‘Axis of Evil’

By Jefferson Morley staff writer
Thursday, February 3, 2005; 8:00 AM
Iran’s cola war
Sanctions? Coke and Pepsi found a way around them and are battling for market share in Tehran with local Zamzam Cola. Fortune’s Eric Ellis reports.
By Eric Ellis, Fortune
February 6 2007: 6:06 AM EST

Coca-Cola? Isn’t corporate America prohibited by Washington’s sanctions from doing business in Iran? Yes, for the most part, says U.S. Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise. But Treasury has bent the rules for foodstuffs, a loophole through which American drinks giants Coca-Cola (Charts) and PepsiCo (Charts) have been able to pour thousands of gallons of concentrate into Iran via Irish subsidiaries.

And that has allowed these brands, so much a symbol of America – and so much an affront to Iran’s conservative clerics – to open another front in their global cola war. After just a few years back in Iran, Coke and Pepsi have grabbed about half the national soft drink sales in what is one of the Middle East’s biggest drinks market.

That may be good news in Atlanta and Purchase, N.Y., respectively, where the companies are based, but it’s a hard fact for some of Iran’s theocrats to swallow. They want Iranians to shun “Great Satan” brands like Coke and Pepsi, which they claim send profits from Iranian sales to Israel. Hardliners like Mehdi Minai, a senior official of the Public Demands Council, frequently appear on state TV to denounce Coke and Pepsi, which he says stands for “Pay each penny to save Israel.”

Zamzam’s 17 plants bottled Pepsi before the 1979 Islamist revolution. Now the company is controlled by the Foundation of the Dispossessed, a powerful bonyad, one of many religious charities Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini used to quasi-nationalize Iran’s economy.

Conceived as a way of helping Iran’s needy, the bonyads have become gold mines for the powerful. In the case of Zamzam, it answers to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Minai is lobbying him hard for a ban on the U.S. brands.

Coke and Pepsi shrug off the hardliner rhetoric and insist they are aren’t breaking any laws – American or Iranian – by licensing products in Iran through their concentrate subsidiaries in Ireland.

Coke spokesman Charles Sutlive echoes Pepsi’s line, adding that Coke, which also licenses Fanta, Sprite and Dasani water through Khoshgovar, has “no tangible assets in Iran.”
War Profiteering: How do Economic Sanctions affect Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.?

by Anthony Newkirk

Global Research, March 29, 2007

Economic sanctions have been applied on Iran pursuant to a US sponsored United Nations Security Council resolution. Recent reports in the New York Times and the Washington Post focus on U.S. pressures on foreign companies and governments which are known to either support or have business ties with Iran. Curiously, these reports do not mention Halliburton Energy Services Inc, a company with direct links to the Vice President’s Office, which has, despite the US sponsored sanctions, important investments in Iran’s energy sector.1

Late last month, Halliburton’s public relations department announced that the oilfield services firm will sell its KBR unit that is mired in the Nigerian bribery scandal. Then on March 11 came truly bizarre news: Halliburton’s corporate headquarters will move from Houston to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Even with last year’s furor over Dubai Ports World, the public response so far has been crashing silence. But I suppose that only makes sense as U.S.-UAE relations aren’t newsworthy either (Lockheed Martin’s sale of 80 F-16 fighters, on-going free trade talks, and the Navy’s contract with Dubai-owned Inchcape Shipping Services).2

Reducing corporate tax liability seems to be a motive for Halliburton management who want to relocate company headquarters to Dubai. Nor do the United States and the UAE have an extradition treaty, which Halliburton executives may find useful someday.3 But this is nothing next to the fact that Halliburton already has an institutional presence in Dubai and is violating U.S. embargoes against “rogue states” if not directly, then at least in spirit.

Incorporated in the Cayman Islands, Halliburton Products and Services Limited (HPSL) works out of an office in Dubai. Halliburton claims that HPSL is an “independent” foreign subsidiary that is not directly managed by U.S. citizens. Halliburton argues that it therefore does not have to pay taxes on HPSL’s revenues. The argument continues that, not being managed by U.S. citizens, Halliburton’s foreign subsidiaries are not subject to U.S. legal restrictions. But the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains that “U.S. persons may not approve, finance, facilitate or guarantee any transaction by a foreign person where that transaction by a foreign person would be prohibited if performed by a U.S. person or from the United States.”4 No matter. Besides, perhaps I miss the point but how can HPSL be both a “subsidiary” and “independent” at the same time?

Ever since the start of the Bush administration, anyone who cared to know could learn that Halliburton was under Federal investigation for violating sanctions against Iran. It is also common knowledge – that is, among those who care to know – that some of the deeds in question may have begun when Vice-President Dick Cheney was Halliburton’s CEO in the 1990s nor has there been a criminal prosecution in relation to any of them.5

U.S. Cautions Foreign Companies on Iran Deals
Published: March 21, 2007

That may be about to change. The Bush administration has quietly been warning energy companies, including Shell, Repsol and SKS, the Malaysian oil company, as well as the governments of China, India, Pakistan and Malaysia, that penalties are possible if they pursue energy deals with Iran.

As a result, several huge projects planned for Iran could be vulnerable. These include one possible $10 billion project by Royal Dutch Shell and the Spanish oil company, Repsol YPF, to develop a natural gas field offshore in Iran, and a $20 billion venture by SKS Ventures of Malaysia to produce natural gas in Iran’s Golshan and Ferdows fields.

Last month, the United States ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre Jr., met with Repsol executives in Madrid to advise them against going forward with a deal to develop Iran’s South Pars field, which contains one of the world’s biggest natural gas deposits. The ambassador was told that the deal was not yet final, according to American and Repsol officials.

At the time, President Bill Clinton, acting to avoid a confrontation with Europe and in part to send a conciliatory message to Iran when moderates seemed to be vying for power, waived the sanctions on several European companies, including Total, the leading French oil concern.

Germany had $6.2 billion in outstanding export credits to Iran as of 2005, according to figures circulating at the United Nations. But Germany reported recently that after cutting back credits by 60 percent in the last two years, it planned further cutbacks this year.

Japan, which had $1.9 billion in credits as of 2005, has also informed the United States that it has granted no medium- or long-term credit insurance since last June and has cut short-term credits. American officials say they have received similar pledges from Italy and France to cut back their export credits.
U.S. Cautions Europeans to Avoid Oil, Gas Deals With Iran

By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 1, 2007;

The Bush administration is warning European oil and gas companies against investing in Iran, trying to head off a push by Tehran to attract new investment by international petroleum giants.

Despite the administration’s pressure, however, many of the world’s biggest oil companies were expected to attend a meeting in Vienna today and tomorrow held by National Iranian Oil Co. to drum up interest in 12 onshore and five offshore blocks. Executives from Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Russia’s Lukoil, China’s Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corp. and Austria’s OMV will give presentations.

“Obviously Iran is very interesting oil territory for everybody,” said Patricia Marie, spokeswoman for the French oil company Total S.A., which invested about $4 billion in Iran between 1995 and 2002 and is sending a representative to the meeting. As for U.S. admonitions, Marie said, “We are listening. . . . But we respect the French law, the European laws; we are not obliged to respect American law.”

Last week, Royal Dutch Shell and the Spanish company Repsol YPF S.A. signed a preliminary agreement with Iran to explore the possible development of another multibillion-dollar LNG project.

Oil company executives and consultants said any reluctance to invest in Iran ultimately has more to do with the stingy terms Iran offers than with arm-twisting by the U.S. government. Generally, Iranian contracts let foreign companies recoup costs and give them enough oil for them to make a small profit before control of the fields is turned over to National Iranian Oil.

“In effect, the Iranians have made our sanctions work better than we have,” said Gary G. Sick, an expert on Iran at Columbia University.
U.S. cautions China over reported multibillion dollar gas deal with Iran

The Associated Press
Published: January 9, 2007

China’s No. 3 oil company, China National Offshore Oil Corp., was reported last month to be in talks to develop Iran’s Northern Pars gas field. Around the same time, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend a uranium enrichment program that is suspected of being part of a nuclear weapons project.

Stevenson said U.S. Embassy officials broached the issue in late December with the oil company, known as CNOOC, and with Chinese authorities she would not specify.

The U.S. officials were told that “no final agreement between CNOOC and Iran has been reached,” she said.

China has tread a careful line on Iran. Though worried about nuclear proliferation and wary of crossing swords with the U.S. superpower, Beijing is obsessed with securing energy supplies for its resource-scarce economy, and Iran is a willing supplier.

The Iranian Mehr news agency reported last month that CNOOC signed a US$16 billion (€12 billion) agreement to develop the Northern Pars gas field and build a liquefied natural gas facilities. Dow Jones Newswires, however, quoted CNOOC spokesman, Liu Junshan, last month as saying that the company was still in talks with Iran on the project.

The sanctions apply to China National Electronic Import-Export Company (CEIEC), China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Company (CATIC), and Zibo Chemet Equipment Company.
By Vivienne Walt in Tehran
February 7, 2005

“HALLIBURTON!” CHIRPED THE employee who answered the telephone in Tehran. Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran, part of the “axis of evil”? Yes, the company was a tenant, confirmed the guard in the lobby of a building on Bucharest Street when we dropped in one recent afternoon. The staff rarely invited guests up to their tenth-floor offices, said the guard, and the company’s name was not among those displayed on the lobby wall. Halliburton finally dispatched two Iranian staff members to ask this reporter to leave. Said the guard softly: “We’re not too sure what the company is up to.”

Actually it’s no big mystery. In January Halliburton and the local Oriental Kish Oil won a $308 million contract to drill for gas in Iran’s giant South Pars field. “Halliburton and Oriental Kish are the final winners,” Akbar Torkan, managing director of Pars Oil & Gas, said on national TV. The statement sparked fury among Iran’s hardliners. One newspaper warned, “Footsteps of the Yankees heard moving in on Iran’s oil sector.”

o are U.S. companies tiptoeing back into Iran, ten years after Bill Clinton imposed sanctions? Iran’s deputy petroleum minister for international affairs, Hadi Nejad Hosseinian, certainly thinks so: “The U.S. oil companies are in touch with us,” he told FORTUNE in his office in Tehran. “American companies are very interested in investing in Iran,” he said, adding that a top U.S. oil executive, unnamed, visited him in Tehran last summer. “They want to show their objection to the U.S. administration.” In Halliburton’s case, it says Oriental Kish contracted out the work to Halliburton Products & Services Ltd., or HPSL, a Dubai-based subsidiary registered in the Cayman Islands, which works solely in Iran. “These entities and activities are staffed and managed by non-U.S. personnel,” says company spokesman Wendy Hall. “Halliburton’s business is clearly permissible.” A second Houston oil services company, Baker Hughes, is weighing doing part of the work with Oriental Kish, according to sources close to the talks.

Under U.S. law, a foreign subsidiary can legally operate in Iran if it acts independently of its parent and has no American executives. In addition, there’s a $40 million limit on how much a non-U.S. company can invest in Iran. Halliburton spokeswoman Beverly Scippa told FORTUNE that HPSL’s new contract is worth “between $30 million and $35 million over the next three years.”
Confessions of a Sanction-Buster

April 3, 2007
by Anthony Newkirk

Nuclear warheads aimed at the Middle East, war in Afghanistan and Iraq, huge naval demonstrations in the Persian Gulf, reports of terrorist incidents inside Iran – the long-standing claims by President Bush and others that Tehran “exports terror” is not exactly of the same magnitude as these. But you won’t think so if you rely on the domestic mainstream media for information. For instance, recent reports in the New York Times and Washington Post about U.S. government pressure on foreign companies and governments who help Iran’s energy sector curiously do not mention Halliburton Energy Services Inc.

Late February, Halliburton’s public relations department announced that the oilfield services firm will sell its KBR unit that is mired in the Nigerian bribery scandal. Then on March 11 came truly bizarre news: Halliburton’s corporate headquarters will move from Houston to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Even with last year’s furor over Dubai Ports World, the public response so far has been crashing silence. But I suppose that only makes sense as U.S.-UAE relations aren’t newsworthy either (Lockheed Martin’s sale of 80 F-16 fighters, on-going free trade talks, and the Navy’s contract with Dubai-owned Inchcape Shipping Services).

Reducing corporate tax liability seems to be a motive for Halliburton management who want to relocate company headquarters to Dubai. Nor do the United States and the UAE have an extradition treaty, which Halliburton executives may find useful someday. But this is nothing next to the fact that Halliburton already has an institutional presence in Dubai and is violating U.S. embargoes against “rogue states” if not directly, then at least in spirit.

Incorporated in the Cayman Islands, Halliburton Products and Services Limited (HPSL) works out of an office in Dubai. Halliburton claims that HPSL is an “independent” foreign subsidiary that is not directly managed by U.S. citizens. Halliburton argues that it therefore does not have to pay taxes on HPSL’s revenues. The argument continues that, not being managed by U.S. citizens, Halliburton’s foreign subsidiaries are not subject to U.S. legal restrictions. But the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains that “U.S. persons may not approve, finance, facilitate or guarantee any transaction by a foreign person where that transaction by a foreign person would be prohibited if performed by a U.S. person or from the United States.” No matter. Besides, perhaps I miss the point but how can HPSL be both a “subsidiary” and “independent” at the same time?
India finds a $40bn friend in Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
Jan 11, 2005

India’s oil diplomacy took a giant leap forward on Friday when New Delhi unveiled a multibillion-dollar deal with Iran and Russia that will be crucial to India’s long-term energy security, and took the initiative the same week to host the first-ever conference on regional cooperation among Asian oil-producing and consuming countries.

In its US$40 billion deal with the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), India committed to import natural gas from Iran over a 25-year period and to develop two Iranian oil fields and a gas field. Iran will sell the liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India at a price linked to Brent crude oil. According to the agreement, India will pay $1.2 plus 0.065 of Brent crude average, with an upper ceiling of $31 per barrel. Iran will ship 5 million tonnes of LNG to India annually, with a provision to increase the quantity to 7.5 million tonnes.

As part of the deal, India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) gets a 20% share in the development of Iran’s biggest onshore oilfield, Yadavaran. The Indian company will also get 100% rights in the 300,000-barrel-per-day Jufeir oilfield. The stake in Yadavaran translates into 60,000 barrels per day of oil for India. Significantly, Chinese state oil company Sinopec (China National Petroleum and Chemical Corp) operates the Yadavaran field. With the deal signed in Delhi, India will now hold a 20% stake in Yadavaran, Iran 30%, while China retains its existing 50% share.

In March, Beijing and Tehran signed a deal worth $100 billion. Billed as the “deal of century”, this agreement is likely to increase by another $50 billion to $100 billion, bringing the total close to $200 billion, when a similar oil agreement, currently being negotiated, is inked. The gas deal entails the annual export of some 10 million tonnes of Iranian LNG for a 25-year period, as well as the participation, by China’s state oil company, in such projects as exploration and drilling, petrochemical and gas industries, pipelines, services and the like.

India also confirmed that it is talking to Russia for investing in crumbling oil major Yukos. Officials in New Delhi said ONGC was considering investing $2 billion for a stake in Yuganskneftegaz, the main production unit of Yukos, which was auctioned last month in Moscow in a cloak of mystery. Incidentally, Russia recently offered a 20% stake in Yuganskneftegaz to Sinopec. In the event of both India and China taking shares in Yuganskneftegaz, it would become a triangular Russian-Chinese-Indian collaboration – alongside the envisaged Chinese-Indian-Iranian cooperation in Yadavran.
What You Need To Know About U.S. Economic Sanctions
An overview of O.F.A.C. Regulations involving Sanctions against Iran

As a result of Iran’s support for international terrorism and its aggressive actions against non-belligerent shipping in the Persian Gulf, President
Reagan, on October 29, 1987, issued Executive Order 12613 imposing a new import embargo on Iranian-origin goods and services. Section 505 of the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985 (“ISDCA”) was utilized as the statutory authority for the embargo which gave rise to the Iranian Transactions Regulations, Title 31 Part 560 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (the “ITR”).

Effective March 16, 1995, as a result of Iranian sponsorship of international terrorism and Iran’s active pursuit of weapons of mass destruction,
President Clinton issued Executive Order 12957 prohibiting U.S. involvement with petroleum development in Iran. On May 6, 1995, he signed Executive Order 12959, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) as well as the ISDCA, substantially tightening sanctions against Iran.

On August 19, 1997, the President signed Executive Order 13059 clarifying Executive Orders 12957 and 12959 and confirming that virtually all trade and investment activities with Iran by U.S. persons, wherever located, are prohibited. On March 17, 2000, the Secretary of State announced that sanctions
against Iran would be eased to allow U.S. persons to purchase and import carpets and food products such as dried fruits, nuts, and caviar from Iran. This change was implemented through amendments to the ITR at the end of April 2000.

Corporate criminal penalties for violations of the Iranian Transactions Regulations can range up to $500,000, with individual penalties of up to $250,000 and 20 years in jail. Civil penalties of up to $50,000 may also be imposed administratively.

IMPORTS FROM IRAN – Goods or services of Iranian origin may not be imported into the United States, either directly or through third countries, with the following exceptions:

(a) Gifts valued at $100 or less;
(b) Information or informational materials;
(c) Foodstuffs intended for human consumption that are classified under chapters 2-23 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States; and
(d) Carpets and other textile floor coverings and carpets used as wall hangings that are classified under chapter 57 or heading 9706.00.0060 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.

EXPORTS TO IRAN – In general, unless licensed by OFAC, goods, technology (including technical data or other information subject to Export Administration Regulations), or services may not be exported, reexported, sold or supplied, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by a U.S. person, wherever located, to Iran or the Government of Iran. The ban on providing services includes any brokering function from the United States or by U.S. persons, wherever located. For example, a U.S. person, wherever located, or any person acting within the United States, may not broker offshore transactions that benefit Iran or the Government of Iran, including sales of foreign goods or arranging for thirdcountry financing or guarantees.

In general, a person may not export from the U.S. any goods, technology or services, if that person knows or has reason to know such items are intended specifically for supply, transshipment or reexportation to Iran. Further, such exportation is prohibited if the exporter knows or has reason to know the U.S. items are intended specifically for use in the production of, for commingling with, or for incorporation into goods, technology or services to be directly or indirectly supplied, transshipped or reexported exclusively or predominately to Iran or the Government of Iran. A narrow exception is created for the exportation from the United States or by U.S. persons wherever located of low-level goods or technology to third countries for incorporation or substantial transformation into foreign-made end products, provided the U.S. content is insubstantial, as defined in the regulations, and certain other conditions are met.

Donations of articles intended to relieve human suffering (such as food, clothing, and medicine), gifts valued at $100 or less, licensed exports of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices, and trade in “informational materials” are permitted. “Informational materials” are defined to include publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, microfilms, microfiche, tapes, compact disks, CD ROMs, artworks, and news wire feeds, although certain Commerce Department restrictions still apply to some of those materials.

FINANCIAL DEALINGS WITH IRAN – New investments by U.S. persons, including commitments of funds or other assets, loans or any other extensions of credit, in Iran or in property (including entities) owned or controlled by the Government of Iran are prohibited.

AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE BANK OF IRAN (a.k.a. BANK TAAVON KESHAVARZI IRAN), No. 129 Patrice Lumumba Street, Jalal-Al-Ahmad Expressway, P.O. Box 14155/6395, Tehran, Iran



BANK MARKAZI JOMHOURI ISLAMI IRAN (a.k.a. THE CENTRAL BANK OF IRAN), Ferdowsi Avenue, P.O. Box 11365-8551, Tehran, Iran

BANK MASKAN (a.k.a. HOUSING BANK (of Iran)), Ferdowsi St., Tehran, Iran

BANK MELLAT, Park Shahr, Varzesh Avenue, P.O. Box 11365/5964, Tehran, Iran, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:
BANK MELLAT (Branch), Ziya Gokalp Bulvari No. 12, Kizilay, Ankara, Turkey
BANK MELLAT (Branch), Binbir Cicek Sokak, Buyukdere Caddesi, P.O. Box 67, Levant, Istanbul, Turkey
BANK MELLAT (Branch), 48 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7AX, England

BANK MELLI, P.O. Box 11365-171, Ferdowsi Avenue, Tehran, Iran, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:

BANK MELLI (Branch), 4 Moorgate, London EC2R 6AL, England
BANK MELLI (Branch), Schadowplatz 12, 4000 Dusseldorf 1, Germany
BANK MELLI (Branch), Friedenstrasse 4, P.O. Box 160 154, 6000 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 112129, Holzbruecke 2, 2000 Hamburg 11, Germany
BANK MELLI (Branch), Odeonsplatz 18, 8000 Munich 22, Germany
BANK MELLI (Branch), 43 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France
BANK MELLI (Branch), 601 Gloucester Tower, The Landmark, 11 Pedder Street, P.O. Box 720, Hong Kong
BANK MELLI (Representative Office), 333 New Tokyo Building, 3-1 Marunouchi, 3-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
BANK MELLI (Representative Office), 818 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90017, U.S.A
BANK MELLI (Representative Office), 767 Fifth Avenue, 44th Floor, New York, New York 10153, U.S.A
BANK MELLI (Representative Office), Smolensky Boulevard 22/14, Kv. S., Moscow, Russia
BANK MELLI (Branch), Flat No. 1, First Floor, 8 Al Sad El-Aaly, Dokki, P.O. Box 2654, Cairo, Egypt
BANK MELLI (Branch), Ben Yas Street, P.O. Box No. 1894, Riga Deira, Dubai, U.A.E
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 2656, Shaikha Maryam Building, Liwa Street, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
BANK MELLI (Branch), B.P.O. Box 1888, Clock Tower, Industrial Road, Al-Ain Club Building in from Emertel Al Ain, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 1894, Riqa, Ban Yas Street, Deira, Dubai, U.A.E
BANK MELLI (Branch), Mohd-Habib Building, Al-Fahidi Street, P.O. Box 3093, Bur Dubai, Dubai, U.A.E.
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 248, Fujairah, U.A.E
BANK MELLI (Branch), Sami Sagar Building Oman Street Al-Nakheel, P.O. Box 5270, Ras-Al Khaimah, U.A.E
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 459, Al Bory Street, Sharjah, U.A.E.
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 785, Government Road, Shaikh Mubarak Building, Manama, Bahrain
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 23309, Shaikh Salman Street, Road No. 1129, Muharraq 211, Bahrain
BANK MELLI (Branch), P.O. Box 5643, Mossa Abdul Rehman Hassan Building, 238 Al Burj St., Ruwi, Muscat, Oman

BANK OF INDUSTRY AND MINE (of Iran) (a.k.a. BANK SANAT VA MADAN), Hafez Avenue, P.O. Box 11365/ 4978, Tehran, Iran

BANK REFAH KARGARAN (a.k.a. WORKERS WELFARE BANK (of Iran)), Moffettah No. 125, P.O. Box 15815 1866, Tehran, Iran

BANK SADERAT IRAN, Bank Saderat Tower, P.O. Box 15745-631, Somayeh Street, Tehran, Iran, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:

BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Hamdam Street, Airport Road Intersection, P.O. Box 700, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Al-Am Road, P.O. Box 1140, Al Ein, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Liwara Street, P.O. Box 16, Ajman, U.A.E
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), 3rd Floor Dom Dasaf Building, Mejloka Street 7A, Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), 25-29 Panepistimiou Street, P.O. Box 4308, GR-10210, Athens 10672, Greece
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Imam Ali Street, Sahat Yaghi, Ras Elain-Alektisad Building 2nd Floor, Baalbeck, Lebanon
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch and Offshore Banking Unit), 106 Government Road, P.O. Box 825, Manama Town 316, Bahrain
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Hamra Pavillion Street, Savvagh and Daaboul Building 1st Floor, P.O. Box 113-6717, Beirut, Lebanon
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Alghobairi Boulevard, Beirut, Lebanon
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), 28 Sherif Street, P.O. Box 462, Cairo, Egypt
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Old Ben-Ghanem Street (next to God Market), P.O. Box 2256, Doha, Qatar
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Almaktoum Road, P.O. Box 4182, Deira, Dubai, U.A.E
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Bazar Murshid, P.O. Box 4182, Deira, Dubai, U.A.E
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Alfahid Road, P.O. Box 4182, Bur Dubai, Dubai, U.A.E
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Sherea Shekikh Zayad Street, P.O. Box 55, Fujairah, U.A.E
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Wilhelm Leuschner Strasse 41, P.O. Box 160151, W-6000 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), P.O. Box 112227, Hopfenhof Passage, Kleiner Bustah 6-10, W- 2000 Hamburg 11, Germany
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Lothbury, London EC2R 7HD, England
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Representative Office), 707 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 4880, Los Angeles, California 90017, U.S.A
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Representative Office), 55 East 59th Street, 16th Floor, New York, New York 10022, U.S.A
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), P.O. Box 4269, Mutrah, Muscat, Oman
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), 16 rue de la Paix, Paris 2eme, 75002 Paris, France
BANK SADERAT IRAN (Branch), Alaroba Road, P.O. Box 316, Sharjah, U.A.E
BANK SANAT VA MADAN (a.k.a. BANK OF INDUSTRY AND MINE (of Iran)), Hafez Avenue, P.O. Box 11365/ 4978, Tehran, Iran

BANK SEPAH, Emam Khomeini Square, P.O. Box 11364, Tehran, Iran, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:

BANK SEPAH (Branch), Muenchener Strasse 49, P.O. Box 10 03 47, W-6000 Frankfurt am Main 1, Germany
BANK SEPAH (Branch), 5/7 Eastcheap, EC3M 1JT London, England
BANK SEPAH (Representative Office), 650 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10019, U.S.A
BANK SEPAH (Branch), 17 Place Vendome, 75001 Paris, France.
BANK SEPAH (Branch), Via Barberini 50, 00187 Rome, Italy
BANK SEPAH (Representative Office), Ufficio di Rappresentan Za, Via Ugo Foscolo 1, 20121 Milan, Italy

BANK TAAVON KESHAVARZI IRAN (a.k.a. AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE BANK OF IRAN) No. 129 Patrice Lumumba Street, Jalal-Al-Ahmad Expressway, P.O. Box 14155/6395, Tehran, Iran

BANK TEJARAT, 130 Taleghani Avenue, Nejatoullahie, P.O. Box 11365-5416, Tehran, Iran, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:

BANK TEJARAT (Branch), 6/8 Clements Lane, London EC4N 7AP, England

Depenau 2, W-2000 Hamburg 1, Germany, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:

DEUTSCH-IRANISCHE HANDELSBANK AG (n.k.a. EUROPAEISCH-IRANISCHE HANDELSBANK AG) (Representative Office), 23 Argentine Square, Beihaghi Bulvard, P.O. Box
15815/1787, Tehran 15148, Iran

EUROPAEISCH-IRANISCHE HANDELSBANK AG (f.k.a. DEUTSCH-IRANISCHE HANDELSBANK AG) Depenau 2, W-2000 Hamburg 1, Germany, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:
EUROPAEISCH-IRANISCHE HANDELSBANK AG (f.k.a. DEUTSCH-IRANISCHE HANDELSBANK AG) (Representative Office), 23 Argentine Square, Beihaghi Bulvard, P.O. Box
15815/1787, Tehran 15148, Iran

HOUSING BANK (of Iran) (a.k.a. BANK MASKAN), Ferdowsi St., Tehran, Iran

IRAN OVERSEAS INVESTMENT BANK LIMITED (f.k.a. IRAN OVERSEAS INVESTMENT CORPORATION LIMITED), 120 Moorgate, London EC2M 6TS, England, and all offices worldwide, including, but not limited to:

IRAN OVERSEAS INVESTMENT BANK LIMITED (Representative Office), 1137 Avenue Vali Asr off Park-e-SAll, P.O. Box 15115/531, Tehran, Iran
IRAN OVERSEAS INVESTMENT BANK LIMITED (Agency), Suite 3c Olympia House, 61/63 Dame Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
IRAN OVERSEAS INVESTMENT BANK LIMITED (Agency), Improgetti, Via Germanico 24, 00192 Rome, Italy
IRAN OVERSEAS TRADING COMPANY LIMITED (Subsidiary), 120 Moorgate, London EC2M 6TS, England

THE CENTRAL BANK OF IRAN (a.k.a. BANK MARKAZI JOMHOURI ISLAMI IRAN), Ferdowsi Avenue, P.O. Box 11365-8551, Tehran, Iran

WORKERS WELFARE BANK (of Iran) (a.k.a. BANK REFAH KARGARAN), Moffettah No. 125, P.O. Box 15815 1866, Tehran, Iran

# #
# American Hostages #
# #

Former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr and Former Reagan-Bush Campaign and White House Staffer Barbara Honegger, attest to the October Surprise. Gary Sick wrote both an editorial for The New York Times in April of 1990 and a book on the subject. Sick a retired Naval Captain, served on Ford’s, Carter’s, and Reagan’s National Security Council, held high positions with many prominent organizations, and wrote a recent book on US-Iran relations (All Fall Down). Sick wrote that in October 1980 officials in Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign made a secret deal with Iran to delay the release of the American hostages until after the election and in return for this, the United States purportedly arranged for Israel to ship weapons to Iran. Sick had interviewed a witness who saw members of the Reagan election team in Paris in negotiations with the Iranian government. According to Sick, Oliver North was the administration’s scapegoat, taking responsibility to conceal the “treason” of Reagan and Bush.

1991 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

Statement of Gary G. Sick, November 22, 1991

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to be invited to testify before the committee on the question of possible unauthorized contacts by private Americans with Iran during the presidential elections of 1980. I realize that this is an extremely contentious issue, with implications that go to the heart of the U.S. political system. I hope that my testimony can be helpful to you in deciding whether or not to proceed with a full investigation of this matter.

It may be useful at the start to give you a few words of background about myself and how I became involved with this issue. I spent a full career of 24 years as an officer in Naval Intelligence, retiring in 1981 as a Captain. During the last ten years of my naval service, I completed a PhD in Political Science at Columbia University and then came to Washington where I was the desk officer for the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

In 1976, I was seconded to the National Security Council staff, to work on Persian Gulf and Middle East affairs in the administration of President Gerald Ford. The National Security Adviser at that time was General Brent Scowcroft. After the 1976 elections, I was asked to remain in the same position under the administration of President Carter, where I worked for Zbigniew Brzezinski. After the 1980 elections, I was retained in the same position for several months by the administration of President Reagan and his National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen. After my retirement from the Navy in April 1981, I was retained as an unpaid consultant with the National Security Council until I went to New York in August of that year.

I was the principal White House aide for Iranian affairs during the Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis. After I left government service, I spent a year at Columbia University researching and writing a book about those events [`All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encounter With Iran’]. The book was published in 1985, when I was deputy director of the International Affairs Program and the Ford Foundation. I retired from the Ford Foundation at the end of 1987. Since that time, I have been an independent author and analyst, specializing in the politics of Iran and the Persian Gulf. I also teach a graduate seminar in U.S. foreign policy at Columbia University, where I am an adjunct professor.

My decision to write about the events of the 1980 election was taken slowly and reluctantly. I had, of course, heard suspicions about a secret deal between the Reagan-Bush campaign and Iran almost from the moment when the hostages were released only a few minutes after President Reagan’s inaugural. I did not believe them. I simply refused to believe that a party out of power would intervene with a hostile foreign power to undercut the negotiating efforts of their own government and affect the lives and welfare of 52 American prisoners. Four years later, I wrote a book about the hostage crisis which was not flattering to the Carter administration. I made no reference to a possible secret deal. In the election of 1988, when accusations of a secret deal first received widespread attention in the national media, I acknowledged the new information that had come to light, but I refused to endorse the allegations despite repeated queries from journalists and the Democratic campaign. After the 1988 election, I submitted a proposal to The Twentieth Century Fund to write a book about the Reagan administration’s relations with Iran. The proposal made no reference to the so-called October Surprise, and as I began work on that project in early 1989 I had no intention whatsoever to deal with that subject.

As I began collecting research material for the book, however, I began to discover anomalies in the historical record. For example, I found that some Iranian officials in 1980 had referred openly to efforts by the Reagan-Bush campaign to delay the release of the hostages for political reasons. These contemporaneous statements, and the timing of certain Iranian decisions during the hostage crisis, seemed to be consistent with allegations of a secret deal that had emerged in 1987 and 1988, leading me to dig deeper. During this same time, I began to talk regularly to a small group of journalists who were continuing to pursue this story even after it had been abandoned by the mainstream media. Their investigative findings often matched the timing of the new material I was finding in the historical record. By the end of 1989, I began to conduct a few interviews with prospective sources.

It was not until mid 1990 that I felt I had accumulated enough evidence to consider writing on this subject. At that point I faced an unpleasant decision. I had never considered myself a political partisan. I had always been a registered Democrat, but I had never participated in political campaigns and I attempted to maintain a balanced, non-partisan perspective in my work. I realized that if I decided to write on an issue of such great political volatility, which cut so close to the bone of political sensitivities, I would subject myself to accusations of partisanship and, potentially, to smear tactics as part of a campaign to discredit my work. I consulted with my family, warning them of the possibly unpleasant consequences. They encouraged me to proceed.

I also realized that I might lose the grant on which I relied to carry out the research. In mid-1990 I met with the president of The Twentieth Century Fund to inform him that the book I intended to write was quite different–and far more controversial–than the proposal I had submitted 18 months earlier. I said that I could still write the book I had promised
to the Fund, but it would have to be delayed until I completed my research on the 1980 elections. In the meantime, I would understand if the Fund wished to suspend the grant. After careful consideration, the Twentieth Century Fund agreed to continue its support, a decision that I regarded–and continue to regard–as both generous and courageous.

I provide this brief background to set the record straight. My decision to write about this subject was taken because I had uncovered a body of evidence that I believed was important and deserved to be brought to public attention. I came to the subject late, and I realized that it was potentially hazardous–personally and professionally. My present position, in which I am identified as the advocate for a politically controversial point of view, is both unfamiliar and uncomfortable to me. I firmly believe, however, that the research I have done, with the invaluable assistance of many other researchers and journalists, is too important to be ignored. It is also far from complete. I fully intend to persevere in exploring the circumstances of the 1980 election, though I recognize the limitations of any private citizen in attempting to get to the bottom of such a complex and sensitive matter. For that reason, I respectfully urge the Congress to undertake a quiet, balanced, thorough, and politically fair investigation of these matters.

I would like to raise two substantive points with the members of the subcommittee. Both involve sources.

Within the past several weeks, two magazine articles have appeared that were sharply critical of allegations that the Reagan-Bush campaign of 1980 met secretly with Iranians to affect the timing of the release of the American hostages in Iran. 1

These two articles, which were quite similar in form, tone and substance, were published simultaneously on November 4 (although the publication dates of the magazines are given as November 11 in one case and November 18 in the other). I was contacted by reporters for both articles shortly in advance of publication. In both cases, I informed them that many of the points they intended to raise in their articles would be covered in great detail in my book, which was scheduled to appear one week later on November 11. In both cases, the authors of these articles showed little interest in what I might have to say, and both rushed into print without waiting to see the book.

1 Steven Emerson and Jesse Furman, The New Republic, November 18, 1991; John Barry et al., Newsweek, November 11, 1991.

As a result, there has been a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding that could easily have been avoided. Because of the proximity of the dates, many observers perhaps understandably assumed that these articles were a critique of my research, when in fact they deliberately chose to ignore it. What they did was to set up a series of straw men, crude caricatures of both the evidence and those who have treated that evidence seriously, and then proceed to knock them down. I do not recognize myself in these gross generalizations, although I am clearly intended to be included as one of their generic conspiracy theorists. I also do not recognize the sources they describe, although I have in many cases spent many hours with these men while the authors of these articles have for the most part contented themselves with a search for press clips. Most of all, I do not find in these articles any reflection of the care and attention that has been devoted to authenticating the evidence that I and others have presented. In their selective use of evidence, their unwillingness to consider alternative explanations, their quickness to demean anyone who has done serious research work on this subject, and their cavalier and wholesale dismissal of the testimony of numerous sources, they did nothing to further the cause of truth. They did, however, whether intentionally or inadvertently, poison the atmosphere in such a way that a reasoned discussion of these issues has become infinitely more difficult.

That is regrettable, for a dispassionate discussion of these issues is precisely what is needed at this time.

Last week, Random House/Times Books published `October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan.’ In that book, I attempt to provide the first truly comprehensive analysis of all the available evidence on this subject. The book contains a great deal of new information, not of the `smoking gun’ variety but rather the crucial details that link the major events together in a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. The array of evidence presented in the book is the same evidence that persuaded me to change from disbelief to a growing conviction that a secret deal took place in 1980. That evidence may not persuade everyone, but it does provide a baseline for reasoned discussion. In the past, this story has consisted mostly of isolated bits of evidence presented in a wide array of news sources. This book at least assembles those diverse bits and pieces and places them in a larger political and historical context.

What this evidence shows is a consistent pattern of secret contacts between the Reagan-Bush campaign and Iran. The contacts began early in 1980, from about the moment that William Casey became the campaign manager for Mr. Reagan. They continued through the summer of that year in Madrid, where the first outline of a deal was reportedly proposed and accepted and where Israeli participation was first introduced. The terms of the bargain were reportedly made final in the second half of October in Paris. The hostages were released minutes after President Reagan had taken the oath of office, and arms began to flow to Iran from Israel, with U.S. government acquiescence, almost immediately thereafter.

The historical spine of this account is simply a reconstruction of the chronological record, based on a wide
variety of news accounts, letters, and other data from the period. Some of this information has only recently come to light, such as the report of the Iranian foreign minister to the parliament on August 16, 1980, in which he said: `We have information that the American Republican Party, in order to win in the upcoming election, is trying very hard to delay the resolution of the hostage question until after the American election.’ [p. 89] That statement was made only a few days after Casey was reported to have met with an Iranian representative in Madrid for the very purpose described in the statement.

Some of the new information is based on a review of information that was available to the Carter administration in 1980. For example, it is now known that the Hashemi brothers, who were working both with the Carter administration and, covertly, with the Reagan campaign, did seek out two senior Iranians who were prepared to come out of Iran to meet with Americans on the hostage question. One of those was a relative of Khomeini, who in fact had such a meeting in Madrid with a private U.S. representative on July 2. The other was Mehdi Karrubi, who is later said to have met with William Casey at the same site and under almost identical circumstances just three weeks later.

In reconstruction this sequence of events, I conducted hundreds of interviews over a period of several years. I also shared information with a number of fine journalists and scholars, and I benefited immensely from their work. In the book, I cite more than fifty sources, most of whom were former government officials in Iran, the United States, Israel, as well as officials of the Republican campaign, former hostages, and academics. There is no `super source’ who claims to know the whole story. Quite the contrary, I was told repeatedly that this was a professionally managed covert operation which respected the rules of compartmentalization and `need to know.’

The sources are named. Unlike the Watergate investigation that was launched on the basis of a unidentified Deep Throat, this research relies primarily on the testimony of individuals who have been prepared, often at some personal risk, to speak on the record. That means that these individuals have exposed themselves to attack and ridicule, but it also means that in the best academic tradition, the facts can be checked by other investigators. Anonymous sources are used very sparingly in this book, primarily to corroborate information from other sources.

Key elements of the story, particularly the accounts of covert meetings, rely on individuals who have operated on the shadowy side of international politics. Convert arms deals and political operations, regrettably, do not employ boy scout leaders and church deacons. There are two good reasons for that. First `respectable’ people do not have the special skills that are required for such operations. Second, it is convenient to be able to discredit a disgruntled operative who may decide to start talking about what he knows. That does, however, create a serious problem for the researcher.

There are two possible choices. One can dismiss any source who does not have an impeccable record of integrity and honesty. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that anyone who has been investigated or indicted by a federal agency should automatically be rejected as a source, and everything he says should be regarded as false. In Washington, and elsewhere, that sharply reduces the available supply of interlocutors.

A second possibility is to listen carefully to what such individuals say, especially if there is reason to believe that they have access to important information, and then to check those statements as carefully as possible. That is the path I chose. To paraphrase President Reagan’s maxim, the rule is `Listen but verify.’ To those who would repudiate any specific source, I would ask only that you take the effort to find out what information is based on his testimony and whether there is any corroborating evidence. What you will soon discover is that many of the sources who have become popular targets for attack either do not appear at all in this study or else have been used only when the information they provided was independently corroborated.

Mr. Chairman, based on my research, I believe there is substantial evidence that a secret deal was carried out during the election of 1980. Most of that evidence has never been examined by a duly constituted body of the U.S. government. It is certainly incomplete, and reasonable people may differ on the interpretation of the data, but in my view there is ample evidence to justify a low-key and responsible examination by a panel equipped with subpoena power.

In closing, let me suggest to you several areas of inquiry that have been closed to me and to other private researchers but which might be fruitful avenues of investigation for a congressional committee.

First, and most obvious, where was William Casey during this period? Over the past summer, President Reagan directed the archivists of his new library to search the 1980 campaign records to see if there was any evidence that William Casey was involved with Iran during the campaign. According to their report, they found no information whatsoever about his schedule. Mr. Casey simply seemed to be absent from the campaign he directed. His secretary has been similarly uninformed. When reporters contacted her about Mr. Casey’s movements during the period of the alleged meetings in Madrid, she had no information about his movements. Later research discovered that he had attended an international conference in London during part of that time. Can it be that Mr. Casey went off to a long-scheduled conference without telling his secretary or leaving behind some instructions about how he could be reached? This was, after all, only the
second week after the Republican National Convention, and he was the national campaign manager. Mr. Casey was a very busy man. It seems impossible that he would keep no day books, phone logs, calendars, or appointment books, that he accumulated no bills or receipts or even memos that would locate him on key dates. Is there no one who saw him or spoke to him on those dates? We have here the case of the phantom campaign manager. I think a duly empowered investigative team could resolve this mystery. It may find that he was merely attending to campaign business on those dates. If so, then perhaps these questions can be laid to rest. But all attempts to do so have thus far failed.

Second, we know from court documents that the New York office of Cyrus Hashemi was under intensive surveillance by the FBI and Customs from at least October 14, 1980, until the surveillance was abruptly terminated shortly after the Reagan administration took office. Cyrus Hashemi, according to his brother, was acting as a double agent, cooperating with both the Carter administration and Mr. Casey on the hostage issue. His telephone calls, conversations and movements during this crucial period should provide a wealth of information that would either confirm or deny his brother’s accounts. Those records are presently sealed and unavailable to private investigators, as are his files in other government agencies that had contact with him. They should be available to an investigative committee of the Congress.

Third, there is a considerable body of evidence that military equipment began to flow in substantial quantities from Israel to Iran almost immediately after the Reagan inauguration and that these shipments were known to, and approved, by the new administration. There are also repeated charges that some of that equipment came from U.S. stockpiles in Europe and possibly in the United States. That can be checked. A proper investigation should be able to determine whether or not these shipments occurred, and if they did, who authorized them.

Finally, a congressional committee should be able to take depositions from many of the sources who have provided information on this subject, as well as those who have steadfastly refused to talk to me or others who have attempted to investigate this story.

In short, it is my view that the evidence developed to date is sufficient to justify an investigation, and there is reason to believe that such an investigation could resolve the issue.

The charges that have been raised are not about refighting an election that is long past. They are about the proper functioning of a democratic system. If this did not happen, we owe it to Mr. Casey and others to clear any suspicion from their names. If it did happen, it was a perversion of the democratic process and those responsible should be held

To the bigoted goon, Zahra Namdar:

Zahra: “Most Iranians, holding American passport, also hold the Fascist Republic of Iran’s passport . […] A huge number of these Iranians go back and forth at least twice a year to Iran.The only way to enter the soil of Iran today ,one must enter with the Islamic Iranian passport. They make a stop in the middle of their journey to Dubai, England, and France,and exchange passport from their safety box.”

The majority of foreign born Americans have dual citizenship as a means to travel to their country of origin more facilely. This especially holds true for countries in which an entry requires a lengthly and sometimes unattainable acquisition of visa from the country of destination due to intercountry foreign relations.

First of all, there is no copious influx of Iranians visiting their home country; this statement is not only egregiously untrue but is based on mere and gratuitous assumptions. The majority might travel once every five years as it is, not only costly but predicamental. Traveling to a destination country such as Iran through visa is practically impossible for those who holds US citizenship; moreover, the majority of Iranian people here in the US or abroad, still have relatives in Iran and one should not and must not expect a common individual to severe these family ties over political quibbles existed among two countries.

Having a desire to visit the country in which you were born does not make you a “fascist” as you perniciously put it. I have a sick grandmother and an aunt who my father visits once every few years. You cannot expect him to act nonchalantly and ignore his ill mother. People should not suffer just because two governments are at odds. Cutting off a simple visitation of loved ones is inhumane. I had to revoke my Iranian passport due to work as a defense contractor on projects which require secret clearance. However, for other Iranians who still wish to travel abroad, you cannot expect them to be a prisoner of your revisionist mentality — you are nothing but a complete reactionary nation-crusher.

Zahra: “That is why , at the American airport immigration there is no trace of their visits to Iran.This must be stopped!!”

That statement is patently false. Every time a family member, including my father, cousins, aunts, uncles, acquaintances or friends, travels to Iran, he/she is most certainly asked to divulge his/her itinerary and reasons for his/her itinerant. There is no reason what so ever for anyone to abstain from sharing such information with authorities and as a matter of fact almost every individual that has traveled to Iran and back has disclosed such information. Perhaps, if Miss Zahra would have actually done a quick research on this matter, she wouldn’t have made a folly of herself.

Zahra: “USA today is invaded by rich Iranian’s specially in LA,CA [Beverly Hills] and a big number of these Iranians are Savama Agents [secret sevice of the crazy Ahmadinejad] .”

“Invaded!!!” Is Zahra expressing her contempt for likes of “royal” family and their posse, such as herself, who ran away from Iran with people’s money and refuged to affluent neighborhoods of Hollywood? The latest consensus report estimates the Iranian descendants comprises no more than 0.1% of entire US population while Zahra insidiously labels such tiny minority as “invaders.” I can clearly see a calculated pattern of bigotry from Zahra which pars with the same tactics employed by antisemites.

“Savama!!!” Zahra is still being delusional and uninformed with regard to the history of intelligence services in Iran. Savama is a succession organization to Savak — Shah’s brutal secret service, and although it was pampered by CIA and MI6 “after” the Iranian revolution, nonetheless, it was mainly transmogrified to a resolute agency more aligned with the current regime’s agenda. As a matter of fact, there is NO Savama but rather VEVAK (Vezarat-e Ettela’at va Amniat-e Keshvar OR Ministry of Intelligence and Security) which you miserably failed to distinguish. Although the agency has number of proxy and diversionary surrogates and procurers, the nature of their operation is almost non-existence in the US and a very few who operates, are tightly monitored. And for you to come here throwing baseless accusations and lynch mobbing Iranians in the US is deviously malicious. It seems to me that the only agent of “hate,” flagrantly operating in the US is you.

Zahra: “with huge wealth they come to Usa and settle powerful buisnesses [sic] and hold powerful jobs specially in the Banks.This must be stopped!!.”

A paragon of antisemitic lure employed by miss Zahra. The majority of Iranian who come to the US are people who either run away from the oppression of the regime or to seize more economical opportunities. And from my observance of Iranian communities, the big portion of them have created wealth on their own — either through achieving higher eduction (1/4 hold masters and doctorate degrees) or entrepreneurship.

Just like antisemite attack dogs who content the social and monetary statue of Jews for their “hold [on] powerful jobs,” it is abundantly clear that your anti-Iranian mantra pars with anti-capitalism and anti-democracy. Zahra, ungracefully, copies her tactics from the same crowd who reprimand a few Jews for their talent and determination to succeed in this country and merely replace the ethnicity of Jews with Iranians. The irony is that she considers herself a “Zionist” — what a hypocrite.

Zahra: “Iranian devout Muslems are continuesly [sic] invading the USA and in every little corner of the universe!!!”

Preposterous, Iranians are the least religious “Muslim” ethnicity and as a matter of fact, their depreciation of “Arab invaders” are well known. Besides, being intolerance of Muslims clearly goes against the very belief system of a supposed “artist” such as yourself. Again, miss Zahra cunningly chose to juggle provocative words such as “invading” to insinuate an alarmist tone in her fallacious equivocation. “Devout Muslims invading the world…” whack whack whack… As a “non-believer” like myself, I can see the divisiveness and formulated hatred to promote a culture of antagonism in her every misguided and emotionally charged slate.

Zahra: “[…] look arround you , do you see any poor Iranians? they already own half of Los Angeles and San Diego! the Savama Agents buy peoeple accross [2x sic] the globe to do their dirty terrorist job, and unlike the Arabs they look highly western and to the max fashionable,and cruze arround [2x sic] in their BENZ or BMW and sitt in beyound immagination manssions in Beverly Hills. [Get a dictionary]”

“Poor Iranians!!!” If Zari, once in a while, would have come out of her mansion in La Jolla, she would surely find a number of middle-class or even struggling Iranians all around the US — I’ve met many. Instead of latently sitting around your studio and conjuring snide comments about other Iranians, do us a favor and have your mouth shut sealed with venearal warts. Once again, Zahra is actuating the same measures employed by antisemites who point out the economical status of Jewish community to convene a “demonic” picture of such group, she too is guilty of hasty generalization and reproaching Iranian people solely base on their ethnicity.

Zari is another example of self-hating Iranian who associates every persecuted and oppressed countryman by the government of Iran and place a placard of “treason” around their neck. According to her, anyone who has worked hard to upgrade his/her economical status is to be suspicion of cooperation with the Iranian regime. Just unbelievable.

Zahra: “Just take a good look, how many Persian restaurants do you see in LA?”

Yes, it’s because there is a condensed Iranian population in LA, duh!!! It’s as if someone goes to “Chinatown” and not expect to find ample number of Chinese restaurants. Apparently, multi-culturalism is an affront to miss Zari and her sense of “artistic” racism. Her theater of cruelty is fully operational and ready to service a gullible and impressionable mind of people around the world.

Zahra: “How many Iranian Vice Presidents do you see in LA Banks?How many Iranian tellers do you see in your bank?how many Iranian Doctors do you see? How many Iranian or Muslim cab drivers do you see accross [sic] the globe?”

Indeed, how many “vice” presidents of banks are Iranian? So what if there are a few who hold such positions? Are the aforementioned banks are the ones operating under the Iranian regime? Then why are you berating other Iranian immigrants for regime’s installment of banks around the world?

Is it a crime, for instance, a Jew to be active and successful in certain industries? Is this somehow a crime to accelerate in life; in land of opportunities; in land of free? So why are Iranians being singled out here? Iranian tellers, cab drivers!!! Where are you going with that? Doctors? My god [sic], so being a doctor somehow brands you a “terrorist” these days, huh pumpkin? Do you realize, it takes decades of arduous study and practice to become one? Your racist rant clearly brands you an ethno-centrist who is undeserved any rational response.

Zahra: “The iranian yellow pages is thicker than American yellow pages!! You can pickup the Iranian yellow pages at any Persian stores.”

No kidding sherlock!!! If I walk to an Indian or Brazilian store, I do expect to find resources advertising native-oriented products or services.

Zahra: “Our country is full of Mosques! Dont you think they already have invaded the USA and England?”

What country, the US? I see a church for every 5 houses where I live. So what if there are some Mosques erected here in the US? Are you anti-Muslim? Then I must say your juvenile attempt to demonized Muslims is noted. If you can’t tolerate freedom of religion, I suggest pack and move to North Korea.

You are a shame to Iranian community. If you want act as a sole agent of bigotry and intolerance, do it in the seclusion of your studio. Don’t come here spread false rumors just to get your jollies off. Your accusations are merely a loose collection of intellectual conceits, stemming from sheer ignorance. Lumping all Iranians under flag of regime cohorts is nothing short of a psychologically disturbed middle-aged woman who can’t hack her way in real life.

Zahra: “Get It through your proud Iranian head,I am An American!”

Good for you. I too was born in Iran and currently hold an American passport. If you’re juggling parochial factoids, at least try to make them relevant, bubble-head. I consider myself a global citizen and do not have an affinity for Iranian culture — that’s just a matter of preference. From a legal stand point, a passport merely signifies your nationality, not the whole cultural idiosyncrasies that goes with it.

That being said, being raised in a particular culture would congenitally and psychologically bind you to its core attributes. You can accept other cultures base on manifestation of preferential acquiescence but can never divorce yourself from your roots (i.e. Your ethnicity will always remain Iranian). An Indian guy, a Chinese woman, or a French teenager, they all will retain those cultural subtleties of their country of origin even though if they spend the rest of their lives somewhere else.

Zahra: “I do not Have Any desire to see any mosques around my neiyborhood [sp].”

If you have an issue with a construction of monument of certain spiritual importance around your neighborhood, then the matter should be resolved at the municipal level. Nevertheless, if your issue stems from the racist stand point, aiming to discriminate, then, as I have said before, you only brand yourself as a bigot. Your intolerance is a contumely to the most quintessential characteristic of being American: freedom of expression and religion. So I guess you have a long way to go to call yourself an American as you have shown no redeemable quality so far. If any of these fundamental dictum are too much for you to handle, please do everyone a favor and leave America.

Zahra: “My own former Iranian cousine [sp] and friends ,go to Iran just to have fun!.They hold the US passport in their left pocket and […] Iran’s passport… in their right pocket!”

Ya, and your point is? Many people have dual citizenship and as you have mentioned, it’s for “fun” or family related accounts, and the reason is to bypass the the hardship of visa acquisition. If you wish to never visit Iran or some other country, that’s your prerogative but don’t ever reprehend others who hope to visit their family and friends. I have reiterated this point many times but it appears that you are just another overweeningly flatulent piece of braggadocio who does not have a rudimentary understanding of the contemporary circumstances.

Zahra: “Not only that ,Most Are born and raised in the USA,……So, your estimate on % of Iranians are wrong!”

Estimation for what? Are you suggesting those who hold dual citizenship were “most[ly]” born outside of Iran? Haha, are you delusional or just decided to divorce yourself from reality? You can’t just call up a foreign embassy and request a passport, that’s preposterous. Your congenital idiocy is impeding you from making a coherent averment.

Zahra: “Where are The good Iranian Americans?”

You are talking to one. “Good” is a subjective term and with all honestly, do we have to sit here listen to your Finger-Wagging aunt Sally’s gratuitous assumptions? Are you implying that having a particular ethnicity automatically renders you (as you have maliciously inferred) a “bad” person? Your moral steam engine is fizzling out for being overly judgmental.

Zahra: “Where are the good moslims? My foot!!!”

Everywhere, only if you open your heart and eyes. There are decent and shoddy person of almost every background, ethnicity, faith, and nationality but prejudicing base on those attributes alone is frown upon in the civil world, if you haven’t noticed. Your very name, “Zahra,” is a Muslim name, haha. Perhaps you may want to retract your racist rant.

“My foot!!!” What does even mean? Are you trying to mix a bit of “Iranian” idiom into the dialogs? Haha, may I remind you how hypocritical you sound when you dis your own ethnicity, yet pepper the verbality of your statements with Iranian colloquy? Unless you are suggesting you are blessed with giant feet or perhaps own “Haines Shoe House”. I suggest utilizing plausible deniability more often in your discourse…

Zahra: “They are scared? … Islamic people are not scared of anything.”

That’s called a non-sequitur butter troll. Your mantel has gone from thoughtless reductionism to childish desperation.

Zahra: “Do you know how many Iranians I met ,with 3 different names+how many international passports they hold.”

*yawn* I thought you hate Iranians; how come, now, you are admitting to “meeting” with them? Many Indian and Chinese immigrants embrace a more Western surname as it would facilitate their assimilation in to the society. So once again, what is your point? Technically there is no “international” passport, where did you come up with that scheme?

Zahra: “I have A strong hint ,Most Iranians are phony political refugees!”

You have a “hint?” What are you a psychic now? As you have confessed, your premise revolves around concocted postulation which has no place in the realm of honest discourse. “Political refugee…” such as yourself, right? Or perhaps you are referring to Mehdi Kazemi, an Iranin gay young man who is being deported back to Iran so the authorities can have him hang — that kind of “phony” refugee? Oh, my bad, your very religion — Christianity — considers homosexuality a “sin” so I suppose his death means nothing to you.

I asked you not once, but twice to present a concrete and “verifiable” research that points evidence to your premise. Thus far, you have failed miserably to provide any so we can securely contend your remark is merely a speculation, period. Indeed, myths were soon punctured…

Zahra: “It is against the International law to go back to your native country, once you were granted a refuge!”

Not necessarily. There are many Iraqi “refugees” all around the world at this point but that does not mean they can’t move back to their country of origin. Perhaps you meant to say “political asylum” in which case that statement holds true. However, once again, you implied that “Iranian” political refugees are impostors but you failed to provide any evidence for that matter.

Zahra: “Most phony pollitical prisonners [2x sp] In Europe are either in jail or beeing [sp] deported!”

You said it yourself, “phony political prisoners” which means their status of fraud has been determined by the governing authority or else you wouldn’t be calling them “phony.” In that respect, the assumption that “Iranian” political refugees are impostors would be patently false. If one does not have an evidence to prove his refugee status, then he/she must be deported to the country of origin — nobody is disputing that matter. However, the gist of your sputum of garbage condemns “ALL” foreigners who seek political asylum as fake. Disseminating deceptive and misleading evidence are all you got at your disposal and it shows.

Zahra: “Switzerland is recognizing how these poeple [sp] are taking a global advantage of their system.”

Again, where is your proof? Just because your daddy was an ambassador to Austria 30 years ago, it doesn’t make you an arbitrator of bogus claims.

Zahra: “Do you know how many Iranians are Globally In jail for fraud?”

No, what don’t you indulge us with your infinitely “peculiar” wisdom. You ask me a question to sensationalize your quack, yet you conveniently dodge the answer, bravo cup cake.

Zahra: “What is your real name? Are you scared too? ”

Why? So you can pass my name to Iranian regime? I’ve already made some effort to spread the plight and struggle of Iranian students to achieve more social and political freedom so perhaps Mullahs are not too fond of me by now. What are your credentials? What have you done to combat the regime? Ya, that’s what I thought, only a coward hiding in her mansion somewhere in California writes such drivel with a smug sense of righteousness.

Zahra: “my respect for Tibet and It’s nation under pressure is strong… globe witnessed their small but powerfull [sp] voice wich [sp]…”

Bahahaha! Where did Tibet come into play? What does Tibet have to do with any of this? You lame brain red herring would only serve as robotic motions of delusional praise.

Zahra: “Now tell me Iranians are more cyvilized and have more guts,or the nation of Tibet?”

“cyvilized!” You can’t even spell worth snot after all the blow hard ballyhooing that “I am an American.” Please come back when you got your license first and finish grade school. You can’t even locate Tibet on the map let alone champion their cause.

Zahra: “Yes ,under the Great Statue Of liberty ,I can freely say I am Anti-Islam.”

Oh ya, the good old freedom of speech pap… when convenient, you smear the First Amendment as a broad shield to hide behind your racism. Perhaps for someone who never been properly educated, you cannot possibly comprehend the distinction between right to free speech and hate mongering.

Zahra: “We must take millitary [sp] action as soon as possible against Iran…”

We? Who are we? You would strap yourself with a machine gun and fight the mullahs? Or would it be a son of a widow who sends him overseas to fight another poor man’s son at the expense of your self-aggrandizement? War, war, war… That’s all you can muster when you have nothing better than fiddling with your intellectual bankruptcy. You are a lost cause Zahra and I petty you.

Zahra: “John Mc Cain [sp] is the answer, Bibi is the solution and Sarkozy has guts!”

You neither have a mind for psychoanalysis nor political punditry. Stick to your strong suits. Your entire failed Muppet appearance is a testimony to your political virgin mind.

Your entire premise derived from spewing more of immaterial palaver and your pronounced hatred. You are not even capable of putting together a coherent set of thoughts let alone waltz in here to your own echo chamber of prevarication. Engaging in racially hyperbolic inflammatory rhetorics by someone your age is just baffling. You are officially a certifiable nutjob who does not deserve another response from me. Go ahead and conjure up some self-congratulatory comments so you feel good about yourself. Have a nice life.

accountable for their actions, if only to insure that it never happen again.

That’s a phont of Khatami taken in the “wax museum” established to depict various torture chambers of “SHAH’S political prisons.” You credulous morons passively accept any garbage they feed you:

# #
# People who are #
# pro Execution in the US #
# #
By Ben Armbruster on Mar 17th, 2009 at 9:45 am

Conservatives Suggest Torture Tactics For AIG Execs: ‘Exemplary Hanging,’ Guillotine Party, ‘Boiling In Oil’

Politicians and pundits from both sides of the aisle have expressed outrage at the recent news that bailed-out insurance giant AIG will be paying $165 million in bonuses to the same executives who “brought the company to the brink of collapse.” President Obama and members of Congress are trying to figure out a way to revoke the bonuses while others have called for top executives to be fired.

While conservatives have joined in the mass discontent with AIG, some are taking their anger a bit too far. Yesterday on a local Iowa radio show, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) suggested that AIG executives consider committing suicide. And last night on Fox News, far right pundit Charles Krauthammer and his milder counterpart Mort Kondracke argued that some should be put to death:

KRAUTHAMMER: I’m all in favor of keeping this heaping opprobrium. I would deny them the bonuses if possible. I would be for an exemplary hanging or two. Have it in Times Square, invite Madame DuFarge. You borrow a guillotine from the French and we could have a party. If that’s what it takes to maintain popular support, let’s do it. But it’s not going to change anything economically. […]

KONDRACKE: I was going to recommend boiling in oil in Times Square, but look, because these are the people who invented these crazy credit default swaps that are leading to the whole disaster.

# #
# Arrested Bloggers #
# #
26 January 2006
Jailed blogger taken to sit university exams in handcuffs
Mojtaba Saminejad

(RSF/IFEX) – Blogger Mojtaba Saminejad, who has been in prison since February 2005, was taken in handcuffs to sit his exams at Tehran’s Azad University on 21 January 2006. Reporters Without Borders welcomed the fact that the Iranian courts have allowed him to continue his university course but repeated its call for his release.

“We have never stopped our condemnation of the unfair conviction of this young student who has been imprisoned for nearly a year for posting a few messages on the Internet. We urge the authorities to show leniency. Bloggers like Mojtaba represent no threat to Iranian society. On the contrary, they support the emergence of a citizen’s debate,” said the organisation.

The weblogger was photographed inside the Tehran university as he was going to take his exam and the photo was then posted on his former blog:
He was first arrested in November 2004 for speaking out against the arrest of three colleagues. While he was in prison, his website was hacked into by people linked to the Iranian Islamist Hezbollah movement. On leaving jail, he relaunched his blog at a new address,which led to his re-imprisonment, on 12 February 2005.

Mojtaba was sentenced in June 2005 to two years in prison for “insulting the Supreme Guide”. One month later he was given an extra ten months in prison for incitement of “immorality”.

# #
# Iran & Long Range Missile #
# #

Posted by: GizUSN on Fri 8.22 5:34am
“ABMs in Cuba wouldn’t bother me.”

I am sure the State Department would be enthralled to hear your poorly constructed opinion.

“They would be useless.”

The same argument can be made against the Poland’s. It does not serve any tenable peril because Iran has no intention to wage an IBM hurling competition, hence the vanity of the proposed treaty. And I am sure your shortsightedness betrays you by retorting, “prove they are not.” Remember, the burden of proof rests on you side of the fence, not mine.

“Did I miss a question in your first post? It seemed like statements to me, or do you like to ask a question…”

Yes, you conveniently did.

Posted by: elion on Thu 8.21 9:20pm
“Can any of you scholars on the subject matter indulge me as to why on God’s green earth Iran has any intention to ‘hit’ Europe?”

Iran has numerous channels of commerce between several European countries; Mullahs have no intention to thwart these relations by showering half the Europe with inadequately designed rockets. Why would they go down that path when the country is sandwiched between two American states, namely, Iraq and Afghanistan? It’s tantamount to a vitiated 90lb white man, sitting between two 350lb offensive linebackers, suggesting out loud to go lynch some N***a. They probably cannot believe their luck as to how the US is extending their reign of terror for another decade by providing an incentive to fuel the enmity as a means to energize disenchanted population and rally them behind their ever faltering subjugation.

Posted by: GizUSN on Fri 8.22 5:12pm
“Prove that a missile attack from Iran is impossible.”

Proof of impossibility is a rudimental logical fallacy. You already assumed the proposition is true in the absence of evidence. You are attempting to nit pick the pedantic when the intendment of the original poster is patently overt. Perhaps a use of “improbability” would have been more appropriate in this case. However, marinating your premise around unsubstantiated assumption pars with me stating: You have a penis, therefore, it is impossible for you to be a pedophile. You could, as well, be that guy but I don’t have any evidence to charge you with that crime — hence, my assertion is nothing short of a loaded question aimed to stir up a hyped up contention for self-sought objection.

“Missiles deployed by them last year had the range to reach Europe, and they have more programs still in work. You contend that they have no interest in striking Europe, so please offer an alternative target.”

The question does not rest on the target offensively but rather defensively. The same reason conjured up for creation of long-range missiles by the US can also be applied to any other nation seeking to build a military system to protect itself against a foreign intrusion. It’s a sure way of keeping everyone in check. It’s disheartening watching you people buy into this whole schmaltz of irrationality. Obviously, a factual contemporary construct has fallen once again on a broad brush of “paranoia.”

“Israel was within reach of their missiles a couple models back. Yet they are still working to increase range. Some might wonder why, since such effort isn’t cheap.”

Building F-22, F-35, or Aurora [?] isn’t cheap either. Following your logic, the entire planet should dive into a convulsion of hysteria every time someone rolls out a new military equipment. Your concocted frenzy is unwarranted, period.

Posted by: GizUSN on Fri 8.22 5:54pm
“FYI, 1500km provides a capability to reach Southern Europe. 2500km reaches into Poland. They are investing in getting more range. Effort and money aren’t spent without a goal.”

Again, not every rocket manufactured is an indication of imminent “offensive” obtrusion. It reminds me of a saying that goes: You are like a “blind man in a pitch black room, looking for a black cat that is not even there.” Perhaps your next line of defense would be something in an effect of arguing to hypothetical and appealing to emotions: “I hope you could sleep soundly at night knowing Iran will eventually slug out ‘nuclear’ warheads across the ocean into Americans’ living room.”

I asked you a simple question yet you failed miserably to provide a cogent reasoning for your gratuitous presumption and all you do ever since is to dance around your false premise. Maybe espousing plausible deniability is how you wrangle with issues but I wasn’t keeping my hopes high for a trigger-happy military man.

Posted by: Robrob on Fri 8.22 10:18pm
“Is there a reason you are turning this rude?”

Yes, I don’t deal so well with pronounced stupidity. First off, calling someone a trigger-happy does not constitute impudence, perhaps a discourtesy but not the former. If such disquisition offended anyone, I apologize to the forum however not to whom it was directed at. Second, I found it hard to sit back and witness the tenet of Neo-Con mentality being readily promoted like a Mocha Chip Frappuccino at the local Starbucks store — sorry, I am not too forgiving when it comes to that. And some people just simply choose to insulate their sense of complacency by goading at the insignificant poignancies and imaginative follies.

Posted by: elion on Sat 8.23 4:35pm
Posted by: GizUSN on Fri 8.22 10:53pm
“Why is that? Because you chose to say so?”

No, pumpkin, it’s because you haven’t provided any evidence to your assertion. You are simply abandoning the evocation by hiding behind the broad shield of willful perverseness.

GizUSN: “We need interceptors in Poland because Iran is a threat [oddly to Europe].”
Me: “And why is that?”
GizUSN: “Because they make long-range missiles.”

Wow! How did I miss that? Slippery slope anyone? You forgot to mention that they hate our freedom ™ — in your face realm of rationality. Once again, having a schlong doesn’t necessarily make you a pedophile, does it? Where is the clarion of causation? Your polemic suffers from a causal inference of Biblical proportion.

Me: “You need to back up your claim with more concrete evidence.”
Me: “Yes, I am sure you do. But how about a more thorough explanation as to how you reached that conclusion?”
GizUSN: “They have a really really really long-range missile.”
Me: “You’ve already said that. Give us a set of verifiable ratiocentive that proves Iran is on the verge of deploying a shower flash of ICBM’s over Europe.”
GizUSN: “I restrain myself from answering your question because I’ve already rejected your challenge.”

You are so adorable. All the fallacies you invoke stem from the same source: Fallacy of diversion. I asked you about the intent not the probability of an “assumed” offensive position by the Iranian regime. Once again, contending that possession of long-range missile automatically constitutes a military threat is no poetry of serious nature.

Posted by: GizUSN on Fri 8.22 10:55pm
“Waldorf chose the word. I didn’t. Proof exists that he is wrong.”

We already covered that ground but did you read the rest of my response? Oh, I forgot, you “choose” to “quit reading after the first sentence.”

“At least that’s my view through Rambo’s eyes.”

Which one? A B-rated, nauseating action-hero you’re desperately trying to emulate or the one who gorges on a pound of highly concentrated anabolic steroid for breakfast every morning?

Posted by: GizUSN on Fri 8.22 11:00pm
“Yeah, I did miss the question.”
And you still managed to flap your wings like a wounded duck and dodge the question. Keep it up… You’re gonna go far in life.

There is a rule in a game of debating which stipulates you must forgo of absurdity, irrelevance, and persistent ignorance — I am simply going to apply that rule.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: elion on Sat 8.23 4:42pm


Contributing Author:
Print This
Email this Article
Write For IranDokht
Davood N. Rahni

The Norooz Festival is immortalized in the Decree of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, granting national, cultural and religious freedoms to the peoples of Babylon and beyond in 542 B.C.E.:

“When I entered Babylon (on Norooz) and other lands I conquered, I did not allow anyone to terrorize the land or its people… I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being. The citizens of Babylon… I lifted their unbecoming yoke (slavery). Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.” …Thus said the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden (Isaiah, XLV-1-3).

Norooz, the new day or the New Year in Persian is the cyclical celebration of the Spring Equinox. Instituted by the Zoroastrians, it is the most cherished and celebrated of all Iranian festivals; it has been observed by all peoples of the broad Iranian plateau for millennia. Commemorating the periodic rebirth and rejuvenation of nature, Norooz has been observed, in one form or another, since 3,000 BCE by all the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, and southwest and south central Asia, namely, the Akaddians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, the Elamites, the Medes, the Sumerians, and the Persians.

Today, Norooz is still celebrated annually in a wide arc of territory extending from the Aral Lake and Indus River to the east, the Caspian Sea to the north, the Black and Mediterranean Seas to the west, and the Persian Gulf to the south. Iranian peoples (Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Lurs, Tajiks, Baluchis, Bakhtiaris and Gilanis) as well as other peoples in the proximity (e.g., Armenians, Assyrians, Afghanis, Kazakhs and Kashmiris) all participate in the Norooz celebration. It is interesting that the first day of spring was also observed by Europeans throughout the Middle Ages, and also the American pilgrims during the early 18th century as the “common” New Year.

The roots of Norooz can be traced to Zoroastrianism, which is believed to be the world’s first monotheistic religion. Zoroastrianism considers Nowooz as the last day of the seven day creation epoch; thus the ritual of the Haft Sin, or the seven life-related, mostly plant based, symbolic heralds, all beginning with the letter “S” in the Persian language. During the Norooz holidays, families and friends visit each other, pay their respect to the elderly, reach out and reconcile with adversaries, visit the resting places of the deceased, and make donations to the impoverished and the sick. They give and receive presents during the thirteen day period that ends on April 1st (April fool’s day) when everyone spends the whole day in the country dancing, singing and playing. The commemoration of Norooz recalls the seventh day of creation, when homage is paid to the Creator or Mother Nature, with rest, play and party activities.

Norooz celebrates the Lord of Wisdom and the holy “halo” fire in anticipation of the Spring Equinox. The oldest archaeological record for Norooz celebrations comes from the recordings of over 2500 years ago. An inscription on Persepolis Palace, the Achaemenid dynasty summer capital depicts the Persian Monarch, Darius, accepting gifts from diverse peoples who lived in a federation of territories, stretching from Asia to Europe and North Africa. His father Cyrus the Great is cited as the world’s first true supreme emperor who ruled his vast realm with compassion and justice, a legacy acknowledged by the Greek historian Herodotus. His declaration of Human Rights on a clay tablet is kept at the UN.

Historically speaking, back in 1821 a young Englishman, following his passion for unearthing the lost world of the ancient east, came upon a peculiar monument in the heart of the Iranian plateau. He wrote in his diary:
The very venerable appearance of this historical ruin instantly awed me. I found I had no right conception of it. I sat for near an hour on the steps contemplating it until the moon rose on it, and I began to think that this, in reality, must be the tomb of the best, the most illustrious, and the most interesting of Oriental sovereigns.

The resting place of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire in 550 BC had been identified. This was followed by the identification of ancient Passargädae, the capital of the Empire, in the nearby plain. The few sources on Cyrus portrayed him not just as an empire builder, but a man possessing rare qualities, deeply rooted in his ancestral sportsmanship of horseback riding, with an appreciation of earth’s bounties, the cultural diversity of humanity and the celestial objects in the sky. In the Bible (Old Testament) for instance, the Book of Ezra tells of Cyrus’s liberating the scattered Jews of Babylon, restoring their temple which had been destroyed by Assyrian king Nabopolassar. Cyrus invited the scattered Jews back to Jerusalem to freely practice their cultural and religious rituals without fear of persecution.

Iranian (from the Satem branch of the Indo-European), Medean and Persian tribes had settled in the Iranian plateau as late as the eleventh century BCE. This plateau has always been regarded as a crossroad between East and West for cultural, scientific, and technological discourse. The name Iran is derived from the ancient Iranian genitive plural aryanam, meaning [land] of the Aryans. It is interesting to note the appearance of the same terminology in Europe such as Ireland, again meaning the land of the Aryans.

Cyrus’s ultimate dream of unifying nations from south Asia to Asia Minor and North Africa was finally realized during the reign of his successor, Darius. In Choga Zanbil, a “ziggurat” or sacred city multi-level high rise urban structure, built by the Elamite king Untash-Gal around 1250 BC, substantiates the vast contributions of these inhabitants. Going further back, one can discern the existence of organized tribes of hunters/gatherers in northwestern Iran dating as back as 12,000 years ago. There have been a plethora of discoveries of early successive settlements built atop one another. These have been excavated in northwestern Iran’s Godin Tepe, a region dating back to at least 8,000 years ago. Iran has been a unified cultural and historical entity for at least 2500 years.

In recent times, although there have been sporadic numbers of Iranians who have immigrated to Europe and North America starting in the 19th century, a mass exodus has occurred since the 70’s due to political changes in Iran. There are an estimated three million Iranians living abroad today. According to the US census and other independent think tanks, the Americans of Iranian ancestry are among the most educated and the most affluent communities in the US, and have substantially contributed to the US economy in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and thus immeasurably to the US quality of life. For instance, one can hardly find an American university or college, medical, business or civil sector, and artistic area where Iranian- Americans are not well represented. The Iranian-American Community of one million strong is found in every corner of the US and Canada. There are large communities in the New York metropolitan area, Boston, Washington D.C., Los Angles, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The total number of peoples of Iranian ancestry worldwide, including 70 million in today’s Iran, is estimated at 150 million.

According to a research in Tehran, 5.23 % of people who use intoxicating substances, 53% of alcohol users, and 5.43% of those who smoke have tension within their families.

The Head of the Identification Registration Department in the Foreign Ministry says: “97% of Iranians residing abroad choose Iranian and Islamic names for their children. He adds that choosing foreign names for Iranian children residing abroad, which promotes foreign cultures, is not allowed.”

Azarakhsh Mokri, Head of the Center for Addiction Studies of Iran says that: “close to 20% of the adult population of Iran use drugs in some way.” According to her assessments about half a million people deal drugs, and each sell to about 3- 4 people. The annual cost of these drugs is somewhere between 3 to 5 billion dollars. Close to 200 thousand youths are addicted to heroin in Iran since it’s a popular drug amongst youth. A young boy who used to do body building says that the cost of buying heroin is cheaper that buying a sandwich.

Exclusive Reader’s Digest/Zogby International Poll: “Despite tensions between the United States and Iran, most Iranians – nearly two thirds – said they don’t believe that the two countries will go to war in the next decade. Younger and older Iranians would favor a more conservative, religious society, while those aged 30–49 said they would favor a more liberal, secular culture. What is striking is that just 15% said Iranian culture should stay just the way it is right now.”

The United Nations announced; in terms of the relationship between direct foreign investment and gross domestic production, amongst 177 countries Iran has a standing of 10 which is the worst possible standing.

According to the latest estimates, the assets of Government Corporations in Iran are about 500 thousand billion Tomans ($ 500 billion) of which the share of Corporations handed to the private sector is less than 3 thousand billion Tomans ($ 3 billion).

Exclusive Reader’s Digest/Zogby International Poll revealed that Iran divided on many issues, although united on the role that Iran should play in the region. Iranians said they believe their country should lead the region “diplomatically and militarily” – 56% supported this view, and only 12% said their country should not be the dominant regional power. Nearly equal percentages of respondents want Iran to become more secular and liberal (31%) as want the country to become more religious and conservative (36%).

In no historical occasion were we unanimous. Instead of confronting the aggressor right behind the gates of our land, we sacrificed the time of rescue for unworthy and pointless discussions. We never came to terms with each other and as a result were always conquered. We never come to terms with each other which leads to missing any chance and possibility. At the end of the day we always pick the worst choice. The time passes by and maybe there will be a better era for us.

Iranian men feel less prosperous due to the changes within their society. As a result they may get depressed. According to psychological definitions we can conclude that 54% of Iranian men and 46% of women are either depressed or on the verge of becoming depressed. This is why the happy men of yesterday are less satisfied with their lives than women today. Dr. Abdollahian believes that the change in social values to women’s benefit is the main reason.
The Tears of Iran By: Jamie Glazov | Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Frontpage Interview’s guests today are Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi and her husband Elio Bonazzi. Both are writers, activists and Middle East pundits.

Preview Image

FP: Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi and Elio Bonazzi, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted by email and in some answers, both husband and wife answer a question in unison].

Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi (BZB) and Elio Bonazzi (EB): Thank you Jamie for providing us and other Iranians whose work you post the forum to enlighten your readers to the nature and purpose of radical Islamism that has ravaged Iran and Iranians over the last 26 years.

FP: Tell us a bit about your background and your family’s background.

BZB: My father is a celebrated journalist and writer whose two main passions in life were Cinema and geo-politics. He was one of the pre-eminent champions of world cinema in Iran and Iranian cinema abroad; as a young Iranian man he advanced (without any help from anyone) in the ’60’s Hollywood, Cinecittà and French New Wave cinema as a film historian, critic and eye for talent… he is an almost larger-than-life kind of a character. When the revolution began, though he had plenty of job opportunities outside Iran and could have fled, he chose to stay behind along with quite a few friends and relatives in order to protect the integrity of social evolution that was occurring in light of the revolution. Now, in retrospect we all see that sadly, that was the wrong choice!

My mother who was a journalist in her youth (and met my father through the journalist circles in Tehran in the ’50’s) got her bachelors degree in Economics from U.S.C. in the ’60’s and then her MBA from NYU; She was one of the managing directors of the Iranian National Handicraft Center in the ‘70’s. This was a wonderful organization that through sales in various specifically designed cooperative stores set up by the ministry of commerce, around Iran, artisans and crafts people were able to sell their and did not have to go through the bazaars where they may have been cheated. It was a win/win situation for all. This organization did so well, that my mother was asked to open the N.Y. based headquarters in ’72. My mom turned it into a successful enterprise there too and returned to Iran in ’74 where after a serious of promotions she was advanced to managing directorship of the Iranian Customs administration. Since the revolution when she left Iran and came back to the U.S., she has been an activist. In fact we occasionally collaborate and strategize on some projects.

I’m 43, born in Tehran in May of ’61…raised between Iran, the U.S. and Europe with Farsi, English and French as my mother tongues. Growing up around and in the world of cinema, I myself studied film/theater/art history and linguistics at the American University in Paris as well as L’IDHEC (the institute of advanced cinematic studies in Paris, now knows as FEMIS) as well as University of Maryland, Baltimore.

I never studied political science and whatever I know is purely auto-didactic. Having been raised by a family of politicos, I myself have been a politico all my life but the active side of me was evoked when I met Elio in Tehran in 1978. He was my junior prom’s blind date! He was living in Iran with his mother who was working for the Italian Embassy in Tehran and attending the Italian school there (Elio’s father is the renowned Italian Sociologist, Giuseppe Bonazzi).

Back in those days Elio was one of the youngest and most active member of the Italian Communist group Lotta Continua. He hated Americans and spoke only French and refused to learn English (because it was the language of Imperialism!) Anyhow, being the hardcore Communist that he was and being that right around then, the whole Bader Meinhoff stuff was going on, the Red Brigade had just kidnapped Aldo Moro, etc. I took him to task at our prom date. After that, we were in love! Though he’d been in Iran for 4 years at that point and it turned out that we had many mutual friends, we only got to meet toward the end of his sojourn in Iran; he was just graduating high school and had to go back to Turin (which is where he’s originally from) to start University, so we only got to spend 3 months together with the proviso that he come back to Tehran on his holidays (his mom was staying in Tehran as her mission wasn’t over). So the Christmas holidays of ’78-’79 when Elio was meant to come back to Tehran, the revolution broke out and the Tehran airport was closed and all non-Iranians were evacuated. We continued writing and phoning each other from Turin to Tehran, with the raging revolution going on all around me and when in the June of ’79 I finally left Iran, I called him from Greece. No matter how hard we tried, we weren’t able to get together that summer and then gradually, due to life’s fickle ways, we lost touch. In July of 2001, just as I was about to marry someone else, in Amsterdam, Elio after years of searching for me, found me again through my high school’s website…after 22 years! The rest as they say is history.

FP: In what ways do you think that the West fails to understand Iran?

BZB & EB: We usually refer to the concept of “cultural imperialism” to explain the failure of most Westerners to understand not only Iran, but also the East in general. Cultural imperialism is the approach for which there is only one way of doing things; that is the Western way, which considers it to be the most advanced, the most civilized, and the most efficient. In the mind of Westerners there is only one way to engage other nations and this way usually implies some sort of economic benefit, in the best case for both participants, in the worst case only for the Western entity, be it a nation, a company or even a cultural institution. The western mentality is fundamentally based on rationality and economic utility, summarized in the notion of “homo economicus”. That notion prevented the nuclear holocaust during the Cold War, because the Russians belong to the same culture, and as the pop singer Sting so eloquently expressed it, “They also love their children.” So even when it became evident that the USSR had lost the cold war, the Russians resisted the biblical temptation of having Samson die with all the Philistines, and decided not to engage in the final conflict, which would have meant the destruction of the planet.

In many occasions, Westerners assume that everybody in the world shares their standard behavior; basically they project their mentality onto all counterparts. And here is where, in the case of Iran, they dramatically fail. The Islamist establishment that unfortunately today governs that country is not interested in making the best possible deal with the West. Its only interest is the destruction of the infidels and their corrupt world.

While in the West the act of engagement is absolutely neutral, and doesn’t imply giving in, but simply to sit down and negotiate, in the mentality of the mullahs to engage basically means that the counterpart proposing engagement feels weak, and tries to beg for a deal from an inferior position.

That was evident during a function organized in July 2004 by the Council of Foreign Relations, where Mr. Brzezinski was proposing engagement with the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Haa’eri (not the Ha’eri that is part and parcel of the coterie of the Mullahs and is sitting in Qom, but the one who has been defrocked and lives between the U.S. and Germany), a Shia scholar forced to exile because favors a secularized version of Shi’itism, and miraculously still alive after several attempts on his life in Germany, was among the public, and was given the opportunity to speak. Ayatollah Haa’eri strongly instructed Brzezinski and his fellow panelists that engaging the mullahs would simply embolden their aspirations to destroy the West, because in their mind they would smell a weak adversary prepared to make concessions. Among the people present to the CFR function, the Iranians understood perfectly what Haa’eri was saying, while most Westerners were smiling with an air of superiority, not believing a word of what they were hearing, convinced that Haa’eri was a bitter character, unable to extricate himself from his grudges as a defrocked Mullah. This is the origin of the deep sense of frustration that we feel when confronting cultural imperialism: no matter how loud we scream, no matter how eloquent and based on facts is our arguing that the mullahs must be confronted, not courted, Islam absolutely secularized, separating religion from state, the same way westerners aspire to live, our plea falls on deaf ears. Westerners deem to know better, even if the subject matter is our land, our culture and, ultimately, us.

Another sad example is the recent book by Ken Pollack titled “The Persian Puzzle.” Mr. Pollack shows an encyclopedic knowledge of Iran and its history, definitely he knows more than even many of the well-educated Iranians. Yet, in spite of all his knowledge, he fails to grasp the basic concept that the only way to deal with the Islamist threat is to actively pursue regime change in Tehran; anything short of that is simply postponing the inevitable showdown, which will occur sooner or later. The sooner the better for the West, which would confront a regime that doesn’t have yet a nuclear arsenal at his disposal.

Mr. Pollack, (like the journalist, Arnaud de Borchgrave) naively and unfortunately propose instead dialogue and a diplomatic solution, once again projecting their western mentality onto interlocutors that behave according to different systems of belief and standards.

FP: It is interesting that many leftists have supported Islamist terror and tyranny. The French philosopher, Michel Foucault, came out and championed Khomeini’s Revolution in 1979 – with all of its horror. What do you think attracted Foucault to such despotism and its genocide? Why do you think leftists become so intoxicated with violent revolutions that engage in mass murder and terror?

EB: As a former left wing militant, I think I can respond to this question exhaustively. I lived in Iran from 1975 until the beginning of the revolution, and having learned farsi, once I was back in my country of origin (fall of 1978), I participated actively with my Iranian friends living in Italy to the frantic revolutionary activity of support to the movement in Iran.

While Foucault was probably the most renowned intellectual to be involved in the support of Khomeini, major sectors of the European left were enthusiastic about the historical changes taking place in Iran. To understand why, a little historical background is necessary. The left had reached its apogee between 1974 and 1975, between the “Revolution of the Carnations” occurred in Portugal in April 1974 and the fall of Saigon in April 1975. The US was in that phase weak, leaking its Watergate scandal wounds, and unable to lead the Western world through a sufficiently strong leadership. The Soviet block was gaining a considerable advantage over the free world. But the first symptoms of decline for the left were appearing, first the Soviet gerontocracy that was fossilizing the once vibrant and progressive ideas of the October revolution, and then the recurring problems with the satellite states of the Warsaw pact, like Poland, where consensus towards the communist ruling was constantly diminishing.

The Iranian uprising was perceived by the left first and foremost as a defeat for American imperialism, which had brought the Shah to power through a coup in 1953, and considered Iran as the a puppet regime in the Middle East. That sentiment was coupled with a generic love for the idea of a revolution, no matter what the outcome, typical of the left-wing rhetoric. This romanticized revolutionary myth was entrenched in the DNA of the left, and embodied by the character of Che Guevara, whose glorified image was present in every rally and every function held worldwide, immortalized in banners and t-shirts. A commonly used metaphor of that period was the one that compared the revolution to giving birth. One should not focus on the loss of blood and the excruciating physical pain experienced by the mother to dismiss the value of the new creature coming to this world. The left was generally very forgiving of the excesses committed by revolutionary forces, as the supposed good coming from new the world brought about by the abrupt change would have justified the sacrifice of the elements of the old guard, indiscriminately killed and executed during the overthrowing of the old regime. Mao Zedong summarized this concept in the famous sentence “The Revolution is not a gala dinner!” The uprising led by Khomeini occurred concurrently with the revolution in Nicaragua. In those frantic months at the beginning of 1979, the most politically savvy left-wing intellectuals tried to conceal the deep crisis that started affecting the left by driving the attention of the left-wing public on the two revolutions, hoping that the galvanizing forces unleashed in Managua and Tehran would have postponed and possibly avoided altogether the painful realization of the several failures of the Soviet Union, which became even more evident a few months later, when the USSR invaded Afghanistan.

In addition, the initial phase of the Iranian revolution saw the participation of all leftist political forces, from the Feddayns to the Communist Party (Tudeh), from the more centrist followers of Mossadeq to even strata of society that were previously supportive of the monarchy. After Khomeini managed to centralize all power firmly in his hands, and started executing left-wing militants, the left was still prepared to defend the more anti-American aspect of the revolution, symbolized by the humiliation the US suffered in the occasion of the hostage crisis. The common analysis at that time was that, yes, there was a clerical involution occurring in Iran, but in the grand scheme of worldwide geo-politics the fact remained that Iran was no more in the sphere of influence of American imperialism. The left was always completely oblivious to the “collateral damage” provoked by the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran). European governments even turned a blind eye on the killers sent by Tehran to execute activist expatriates living in Europe, sometimes even escorting the killers to the airport where a plane was ready to bring them back to Iran in first class seats.

FP: It was Iran that inspired the great wave of Islamist terror with which the world now has to deal. If Iran helped fuel the fire of Islamic fanaticism, do you think there is hope that it can also help dampen those flames?

BZB & EB: There is nothing but disenchantment and acrimony toward the Islamic Republic’s version of Islam today in Iran (however difficult it is for Westerners to hear and accept that), especially among 70% of Iranians who are in fact under the age 30. First of all the popular rage is directed against the “Velayateh Faqeeh”, the theocratic framework imposed by Khomeini after the revolution, which interrupted the long-time tradition of separation between church and State that was typical of Shi’itism. The age range of the worshippers at the Friday prayers shows how uninterested Iranian youth is in religion, at least the official religion of the mullahs. It is furthermore important to consider that Persians are not Arabs, and that in spite of having being conquered by the Arabs and having accepted Islam, Persians still have a strong sense of identity and fiercely resist being “Arabized”, which is exactly what happened after the advent of the Islamic Republic. As a form of civil disobedience against the theocrats, Iranians today choose to name their newborns after Persian heroes of the resistance against the Arab invaders, rather than after Islamic prophets. So names like Hussein and Mohammad are not fashionable any more, while name like Kourosh (Cyrus), Darioush (Darius), Arash, et al, which are pure male Persian names, are very popular today.

Before the revolution of 1979 Iran was a nation characterized by religious plurality. The shi’ites were a relative majority, but there were also Bahais, Christians, Sunnis, Jews and Zoroastrians (Zoroastrianism was one of the first monotheistic religions of the world and the official religion of Persia before Arabs attacked, massacred and forced Persians to accept Islam). A recent phenomenon in Iran is the rediscovery of Zoroastrianism, as a way, once again, to reaffirm the Persian heritage and specificity, and to defy the Islamist zealots. Such interest is manifested in reading books about Zoroastrianism, practicing its rituals, and ultimately converting to it. When books are not readily available, in a way that is reminiscent of the Samizdat phenomenon in the Soviet Union, photocopies are circulated among Iranians interested in their historical heritage.

The net result of having been forced to accept a State-imposed religion for more than 25 years is a complete backlash against it, which will become even more evident after the mullahs are overthrown. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to achieve regime change in Iran. The message to other nations tempted to follow in Khomeini’s footsteps will be clear; after 26 years of Islamic theocracy Islam has been weakened and left with considerably less followers, while secularism and alternative religions are on the rise.

FP: André Glucksmann, one of France’s most renowned philosophers, has stated that the terror war today is one between the forces of civilization and nihilism and that, in many respects, this conflict manifests itself most clearly in Iran. Could you talk about this?

BZB & EB: Mr. Glucksman has summarized it very perceptively. The direction taken by the Islamist ruling of Iran is clearly towards nihilism. After the Islamic Revolution the country experienced a demographic expansion that almost doubled the population, from 37 million to 70 million people in 26 years. Iran is therefore a young country with an ancient culture and millennia of history; this is something in which people take pride! The consensus towards the Mullahocracy among the youth is effectively nil. The unemployment ratio is also extremely high, especially youth unemployment, which favors phenomena like drug addiction. And that is exactly what the government has done to control the alienated youth; it has induced massive drug abuse, especially opium and heroin, which have a debilitating effect on the mental health of the young addicts, who lose any will to rebel and be active against the establishment. Drug addiction now affects millions of young Iranians, and is a well-known problem between UN and DEA officials. The ability to control hostile masses through drug addiction is reminiscent of the policies devised by the British Empire in the 19th century, which kept subjugated Indians and Chinese nationals inducing opium addiction and even going to war twice against China to force the Chinese emperor to allow the import of opium.

A by-product of massive drug addiction is the increased number of HIV/AIDS cases, mainly due to needle sharing, which occurs regularly in Iranian prisons.

Public executions and stoning, which are on the rise, complete the nihilist picture internal to Iran, which is also very active in exporting nihilism overseas. The Islamist theocracy is the main sponsor of suicide bombers, who are financed through Hizbollah and Hamas, and take place in Israel and, more recently, in Iraq. And of course, they vehemently spin their viciousness through shameless media outlets like the laughable Al Manar TV, which is there to brainwash and recruit impressionable people to do their dirty work for them.

Stoning, public executions, massive drug addiction, a growing number of HIV/AIDS cases, together with suicide bombers and terrorist activity have all in common self-destruction and death, the essence of nihilism. Also holding sex slave auctions of Iranian children (between ages 4 and 24 to Arab and even European buyers, believe it or not) has become another form of demoralization and devastation of our people. Islamism is a culture of death, which clashes with civilization, as we know it. That is why André Glucksmann is absolutely right in pointing his finger to Iran as the main engine of nihilism; the Islamic Republic is the main threat to the values of civilization today.

FP: You have discussed how one of the weaknesses of the movement for liberty in Iran is that the fragmentation within the intelligentsia. Could you illuminate this phenomenon for us?

BZB: Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it fragmentation because every group in exile has its differences if you will; however, the fact is that we are making headway in bringing people from various ideological groups together for discussions and conflict resolution. There has to be a national reconciliation across the board and that is in fact happening, however slowly.

The thing that concerns me is that some American scholars and policy makers are falling for the spin that the MEK (Mojahedeen Khalq) who are also known as MKO or National Council of Resistance of Iran should be taken off the State Department’s terrorist list (and we all fear) as possibly the replacement the Mullahs. The MEK/MKO/NCR is a group driven by an ideology that merges Islam with Leninism. The Mojahedeen supported Khomeini, and just before the revolution they organized guerrilla warfare aimed at fighting American presence in Iran, killing four Americans. They participated in the summary executions perpetrated in the first 2 years after the revolution and enthusiastically supported the hostage taking at the US embassy; furthermore, let’s not forget that until the fall of Saddam they were backed by the Baathist regime. Khomeini as a tool to achieve absolute power used the Mojahedeen, but they were later marginalized, which is why they turned on Khomeini and his version of an Islamic Republic. In the summer of 1981 they were banned and started a fierce fight against the regime. Part of their leadership went into exile in France from where, capitalizing on the support of the leftist intelligentsia, organized a coalition and a war against Khomeini’s regime. Their tactic was to have as many victims as possible among their followers in order to claim popular legitimacy. This use of their own people as sacrificial arsenal illustrates their contempt for human life and rights.

I don’t deny that they too have paid a very heavy price in the fight against the Mullahs (thousands were massacred at Khomeini’s command in 1988), but they’re Islamic Socialists and Iranians, as we’ve reiterated time and time again, want nothing to do with Islam as a rule of law anymore. This group is indeed well organized and has been known to often (not always) provide accurate information about the nuclear development in Iran. The fact is that many westerners think that because this group is “organized” that somehow they are the answer to 26 years of havoc wreaked by the Islamic Republic. They’ve learned to talk the western talk and walk the western walk and they have been known to take advantage of western “credulousness” to blur the fact that other major opposition exists! But it’s not the answer to our 26 year long misery and we expect that anyone who wants to see democracy in Iran would not go to bat for this or any other group per se by prescribing a replacement regime for us. That is up to the Iranian people. Up until now the State Department has resisted the pressure to remove the Mojahedeen Khalq from the list of terrorist organizations. Iranian seculars expect that the State Department put conditions on them should they consider releasing them from that list. The MEK must come up with an open self-criticism of their advocating the killing of foreign advisers during the Shah, their support of summary executions and violation of due process during the first years of the Islamic Republic, as well as the U.S. embassy hostage taking. They also must clarify their plans for the future of Iran and submit to the democratic mode of transition. They must renounce the titles of President (Maryam Rajavi, their leader) or any other political title and consider themselves as a political party. They must accept that in Iran there are constitutional monarchists, republicans and many other different political choices, all legitimate and of which they are only one and finally they must clearly profess their belief in International human rights instruments, with no reservation or exceptions.

You see a part of how the Mullahs operate is waiting for the U.S. to make one false move and then the psywar with the people of Iran begins. They will do anything to make the U.S. look incompetent and dictatorial and as a result, they’ll tell the Iranian people that the U.S. has once again turned on them by backing the one force that in fact will not be bringing the democracy Iranians are hoping for.

Also, any movement that has been started by our opposition both inside and outside Iran has been violently squelched by either the Revolutionary Guards (inside Iran) or their assassins (outside). So, if you look at the people who have been killed in Iran (like the murders of Iranian students, intellectuals, free-thinkers and artists inside the country), you’ll see that nothing in that sense has been allowed to succeed because the Revolutionary Guards simply find the activists and either assassinate them or take them to their dreadful prisons (like my father) where dissidents are regularly tortured, in some cases to death.

Then the opposition outside the country…Since 1980 the Mullahs have had their agents assassinate almost 150 of our finest activists; people like the great Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar, Mr. Abdorahman Boroumand, Mr. Fereydoun Farrokhzad, Reza Mazlouman and the list goes on (to know more please refer to Though only one Iranian ex-pat was assassinated in the U.S., dozens more have been killed in Europe and though in almost every case the European secret services (French DST, Italian SISMI, MI6, Swiss police and Turkish secret service) caught the assassins, they turned around and put them on first class flights back to Iran in order to keep their relationship on the up and up with their Mullah oil baron buddies! By the way, Iranian activists living in Europe still fear for their lives because it is a known fact that the Europeans will safeguard none of us, fighting the Mullahs as long as the Mullahs’ assassins roam the continent freely.

I’d just like to expound on the story the only Iranian assassinated in the U.S. in the early years of the revolution. Mr. Akbar Tabatabai (Iranian Press attaché to the embassy in DC during the Shah) was murdered in his home in Bethesda, Maryland in 1980 by the American David Bellfield, who posed as a mailman and shot him point blank at his door. Bellfield who had become an eager “Moslem” was naïve enough to have allowed himself to be “recruited” by an Iranian fellow, agent of the Mullahs, who incidentally still lives in the DC area and runs an Islamic school. After the assassination, Bellfield, a native of Long Island, New York (who now calls himself Dawud Salahuddin) got in his car and drove directly to Canada. By the time the news hit the airwaves, he was in Canada and then immediately on a flight to Switzerland, where he would be prepped for travel to Iran to sit at Khomeini’s feet. Now Bellfield, who is stuck in Iran for the last 25 years and has an Iranian wife and kids, (because here he still has a warrant out for his arrest) condemns the Mullahocracy in Iran as saying that there are two forms of justice in Iran; one for the Mullahs and their hierarchy and the rest for the rest of Iran (read Ira Silverman’s article about him in the New Yorker Magazine. Issue of Aug. 5th , 2002)

FP: Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi and Elio Bonazzi it was an honor to have you here. All of us here at Frontpage have tremendous respect for you. You are truly noble and courageous people and you are fighting a priceless and heroic battle. Thank you.

BZB & EB: We’re glad to have allies like you and are grateful for every opportunity you give us to impart the facts to you and your readers. The Iranian issue and it’s cancer-like spread is paralyzing the Middle-East and people here must realize that there are viable and lasting solutions that will not be prescribed by so-called pundits who have the pulpit given to them by traditional media. Those media outlets erected ideological barriers which prevented us to convey the voice of the people of Iran. The two of us have tried to link the “voice” of the people inside Iran and the “ears” of the truly unbiased and humanitarian westerners; Frontpage Magazine has provided us with a forum to finally get the facts out into the open.

The absolute ruler in fake democratic wrapping.
Power structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The supreme leader has absolute power. This is how:

The institutions of power in order of supremacy:

1 – Supreme Leader
2 – Guardian Council
3 – Assembly of Experts
4 – Expediency Council
5 – President
6 – Parliament

1- Supreme Leader

Not elected but appointed by the Council of Experts.

The duties of Supreme Leader according to Article 109 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic as amended on 28 July 1989:

1) Setting out and outlining of all the policies of the Islamic Republic.
2) Overlooking the proper execution of the policies.
3) Ordering Referendum.
4) Head of all armed forces.
5) Deceleration of war, peace and deployment of forces.
6) Appointments, dismissals and acceptance of resignations of:
a) Guardian Council. [He already appoints directly 6 of them and the other six are recommended by the head of the Judiciary – who is appointed by the Supreme leader – to the Parliament who will approve them. However according to this Article he can dismiss any of them and reappoint them. When you read the duties of the Guardian Council, you will discover the absolute power of the Supreme Leader.]
b) the head of the judiciary.
c) the head of the Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
d) The head of the Intelligence.
e) the head of the revolutionary Guards.
f) the heads of the Armed Forces and Police.
7 – Resolutions of any dispute between Judiciary, Parliament and Executive.
8 – Resolutions of any disputes that is not possible in ordinary way via the Expediency Council.
9 – Signing of the President after the election, the presidential candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council according to this constitution and must be approved by the Supreme Leader before the elections in the first round.
10 – Dismissal of the President in the interests of the country after the supreme court’s ruling on the breach of his legal duties or the vote of the Parliament in accordance to Article 89 of the Constitution.
11 – Pardoning or reduction of sentences within the Islamic laws and after the recommendations of the head of the judiciary.

The Supreme Leader can transfer some of his duties and authorities to another person.


The Selection and appointment of the entire Expediency Council, under Art 112.

So Far you can see that the Expediency Council and the Guardian Council are all directly and indirectly appointees of the Supreme Leader.

How is the Supreme Leader Appointed? He is appointed by the Council of Experts.
How is the Council of Experts appointed/elected? This council is elected by the people. But the council is vetted by the Guardian Council [appointees of the Supreme Leader]. The regime does not make too much noise about the elections of this Council and keeps it low key.

Now let’s look at the rest of the Institutions.

2 – Guardian Council
The 12 members of this Council are not elected by the people but are appointed directly and indirectly by the Supreme Leader.

Duties: the duties of the Guardian Council are not defined in one but many Articles. According to Art 91, to guard against any legislation that are in breach of the Islamic laws and the constitution by the legislative bodies. According to Art 99, to overlook the elections of the President, Parliament and referendums. According to Art 96, the acknowledgment of whether a law passed by the legislative is against the Islamic laws is done by the majority of the Council and whether against the constitution by all of the members of the council. According to Art 97, to expedite parliamentary dispute over any proposals they can participate and listen. But if in emergencies they can express their opinions. According to Art 99, the Guardian Council overlooks the elections of the Council of Experts, Presidet, Parliamnet and Referendum.

The overlooking duties of the Guardian Council includes the vetting of the candidates.

As you can see three of the most powerful institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran are appointed by the Supreme Leader.

There is no need to continue with the rest of the institutions as they are all vetted and selected for elections by THE GUARDIAN COUNCIL and put in for elections by the people. The people only vote for a president that is loyal to the Supreme Leader as vetted by the Guardian Council. The people can only vote for a selected number of candidates for the Parliament that are selected and vetted by the Guardian Council. The people can only vote for a seleceted and hand picked number of candidates for the Council of Experts who are vetted by the Guardian Council.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
What is a Just Reaction to an Unjust Action?

In the supposed linear world presented by politicians — for every unjust action there must be a reaction. Not only to stop future similar actions, but for revenge purposes as well. Most likely a frame of thinking taken from the Old Testament: An eye for an eye.

However what such thinking doesn’t take into consideration is that in most cases the relationship between action & reaction in the world of politics tends to operate on a parabolic cycle rather than a linear path with a certain ending. Which then begs the question at what point does the reaction(s) of a nation against unjust and inhumane action of others justifiable? Justifiable not only from the usual moral & ethical perspectives but also from points pertaining to economic, political and even societal.To better explain let me go over two events, first the 9/11 attacks and then the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

As a result of the attacks on 9/11/01 by those men who were influenced by Al Qaeda ideologies approximately 2,973 people which by the way not all were Americans lost their lives. This event led citizens of the countries that were effected by this attack mainly U.S. and NATO countries to allow their governments to first invade Afghanistan, and then Iraq in a war that was meant to fight terrorism, but one that I presume meant to avenge the loss of those who lost their life on 9/11.

However the irony is that as this seemingly never ending war against terrorism is continuing more people (both innocent civilians & military service men & women) are dying in an effort to avenge the lives of those killed by those 19 men who already had died. In the first war in Afghanistan so far 330 US soldiers have died while 560 injured, and in the second war in Iraq another 2,662 US soldiers have given their life, while another 9,062 injured (Source: US Dept. of Defense). To these we need to add another ~70 death for the troops from NATO serving in Afghanistan, and another ~227 death by coalition forces in Iraq.

Now here I haven’t even touched on the other victims of the war which are the Afghan and Iraqi civilians! Some studies put Iraqi civilian death toll to be around 100,000 to (655,000 updated)while others that only use reported deaths in the media put the estimate at ~40,000. President Bush himself conceded on the ~30,000 figure. As far as Afghan’s well the casualty on their side is estimated to be ~15,000. So all in all as a whole somewhere around 48,000 to maybe 118,000 (I know pretty wide range) have died in the past 5 years as a result of 9/11. Moreover these figures don’t even include the sudden spike in terrorism and casualties post 9/11 — e.g. attacks in Bali, Madrid, London that caused the death of even more people.

Of course this is just looking at it from purely the perspective of those who lost their lives and not from all of the other consequences of such actions such as economic cost and economic trade-offs ($ on weapons vs. $ on education) of waging such a war, America’s reputation in the world, social impacts of those that somehow have been touched by this war and etc …

In the other example of challenges and dilemmas in reacting against inhumane actions I can’t help but to think of the 1979 revolution in Iran. Recently I had an exchange of thoughts with a friend after I shared a 2003 revelation by an Iranian political activist Emad Baghi. In his book “A Survey Of Iran’s Revolution” he devoted a brief section to a review of actual death toll pre 1979 revolution. His findings which were as a result of having access to Martyrs Foundation (Bonyad Shahid) data showed that during the year of 1963-1977 where opposition groups were accusing the Shah’s regime of horrible atrocities a total of 383 people were killed by the regime. After the revolution started in 1977 and ended in 1979 an additional 2,781 people were killed for a total sum of 3,164. This is while many opposition leaders including Khomeini frequently throw around figures of ~60,000 for the same time period! In fact while in exile in an interview in 1972 Khomeini cleverly suggested that it had been told that in the 1963 uprising 15,000 were killed by the regime, whereas the actual figure was 32! Such exaggerations continued on and in fact were elevated during the period of 1977-79 after each account of friction between the regime and revolutionaries. For example in one of the supposed bloodiest days of revolution (17th Shahrivar) in 1977 actual data showed 64 people were killed, whereas many in the opposition, and foreign media sources put the numbers to be around 4,000 and some even 10,000!

In both the 9/11 attacks and 1979 Iranian Revolution the citizens in these countries had to make a choice in how to address such atrocities. Although the situations have hugely different circumstances and history behind them, but in as far as the over reaction of the citizens they do share some commonality. At what “end” does both the mean and the outcome justify the cause? Does killing 15,000 Afghan and another 40,000 Iraqi justify having 3000 killed by mainly Saudi men? Does killing 1000 Lebanese for having 2 soldiers taken prisoner, and 3 killed justify both the mean and outcome? Does having a revolution that was mainly inspired on the death of supposed 60,000 people (actually 383), and then having another 2,781 die during the revolution and an additional ~4,000 more executed afterward — all justify the cause of having democracy? In fact in Iran’s case one can also take it one hyothetical step further by wondering had it not been for the revolution and Iran’s relation with U.S., Iraq probably would not have had attacked Iran, or at least the war would not have been as long as it was. Thus raising the possibility that had it not been for Iranians over reaction to the horrible atrocities done by the Shah’s regime to the 383 people , just maybe — maybe another approximate 450,000 – 1,000,000 Iranians wouldn’t have died during the war with Iraq!

Now here I must explain that my comments are not meant to suggest that no fights are worth fighting for — no that is not my position. I’m all for holding guilty people accountable, and punished, and I can see the rational for some nations to wage wars or even have revolutions. At what levels and what reactions it makes them justifiable — well that has to be answered on an individual bases, as I don’t have a formula for say the threshold of death on both the side of aggressor and victim in making it a just or an unjust reaction. Having said that I do think that if the reaction will cause the death of multiple more people, then maybe as much as killing one innocent person idealistically is equivalent to killing all innocent people, but since realistically it doesn’t then it may be best to just accept what happened — however tough it may be, and find an alternative approach.

Lastly my main point is that I think all responsible citizens must make sure that their political leaders have exhausted all peaceful means in trying to stop future unjust actions before allowing them to resort to war or say revolution — which could lead to killing of many others. This of course requires accepting the responsibility of making sure we are informed enough so we are not manipulated into allowing those with their own agendas, and not so well thought out plans to change the course of our destiny.

That’s a reprinted press release from David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag. The text reads, “The photo accompanying this article, which shows a teenage girl buried before being stoned to death for alleged sexual offenses, will serve as the poster for the protest Week. The stoning took place in Iran.”

This photo turns up all over the right-wing media, but the ’stoning’ actually takes place in a 1994 Dutch indie film called De Steen, directed by Mahnaz Tamizi. The ‘teenage girl’ is actress Smadar Monsinos.
The Man in the Shadow: Mojtaba Khamenei

There is much talk about Mojtaba in Iran. Is the young Khamanei being groomed to take over his father’s position?

By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 16 July 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] Despite the transparency of your positions [regarding various issues], there have been reports that your respected son — Mr. Sayyed Mojtaba — has supported one of the candidates [in the presidential elections]. Then, I heard that a high official has told you that, “Your son has supported one of the candidates” [implying that he had carried out his father’s order], to which you have reportedly responded, “He is his own man, not just my son,” which made it clear that [his] support was his own personal view [and preference, and not yours].

At the same time there were reports about his [Mojtaba’s] support for another candidate — whose star suddenly dimmed three days before the elections and [the] kindness and support moved toward the other candidate — and that he [Mojtaba] had even had an active role in the campaign of that candidate [before switching to the other candidate]. You are well aware that the unwise intervention of the relatives and aids of some religious and political officials in the past [elections] has had very negative consequences for the political establishment and the nation. Therefore, due to my respect for you and my concern [for the country], I ask you with utmost sincerity not to allow another bitter experience to be added to those of the past. You are the successor to the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] who, when some people claimed that [his oldest son] the late Ayatollah Mostafa Khomeini [who passed away in 1977] had prevented them from contacting him, ordered, despite his [Mostafa’s] intellectual and religious significance, that, “he [Mostafa] must not intervene in my affairs.”

This is an excerpt from a letter that Mahdi Karroubi wrote to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in reference to the first round of the Iranian presidential election on June 17, 2005. Karroubi, who is a former Speaker of the Majles (parliament) and ran as a reformist candidate in June’s presidential election, also ran back in 2005.

For several hours after the polls had closed, Karroubi had been trailing only one other candidate, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and an all-around powerful politician. So, in the early hours of Saturday June 18, Karroubi lay himself down to take a nap and continue to follow the vote count once he was a bit freshened up. But when he woke up a few hours later, everything had changed. Suddenly, a relatively unknown candidate, who had not been supported by any major group, had moved into second place. That candidate was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran’s mayor at the time. Neither Ahmadinejad nor Rafsanjani got more than 50 percent of the vote, so the presidential election had gone to a second round between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad — and the latter won.

In that letter, Karroubi was protesting the intervention of Ayatollah Khamenei’s second son, Mojtaba, a mid-rank cleric, who had supported Ahmadinejad in the elections. The “other candidate” that Karroubi was referring to was Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf (Ghalibaf), a Major General, a pilot, and a former commander of the air force division of the IRGC, or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Qalibaf, who is currently mayor of Tehran, was also a candidate in the 2005 presidential elections. It was widely believed at the time that Qalibaf was the preferred candidate of the IRGC’s top command and also Ayatollah Khamenei. But, as Karroubi alludes to in his letter, as a result of behind-the-scene maneuvers, the IRGC’s top commanders and Ayatollah Khamenei switched their support from Qalibaf to Ahmadinejad. It is believed that Mojtaba Khamenei played a leading role in convincing his father that Ahmadinejad was a more reliable candidate than Qalibaf, especially since Qalibaf had sometimes demonstrated his independence from senior figures in the leadership.

Ayatollah Khamenei responded with a terse letter, rejecting the accusations and even implicitly threatening Karroubi. In that letter, the Supreme Leader said that Karroubi’s actions may trigger a national crisis and that, “Feeling the full wrath of God and his power, I for one will not allow any individual to create a crisis in this country.”

Karroubi responded by sending a second letter, calling the elections “the blackest page in the history of ideological struggle in Iran.” He resigned from his post as a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader, and from membership in the Expediency Council, a constitutional body that arbitrates over differences between the Guardian Council and the Majles. He was even put under house arrest for several days. Soon afterward, he also resigned from the leftist Association of Combatant Clerics, known in Iran as the Rouhanioon, an organization in whose formation he had played a leading role in 1988. Karroubi then founded his own National Trust Party.

Karroubi was certainly not the first senior figure to protest Mojtaba Khamenei’s intervention on behalf of the extreme right. Before him, Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, another former Speaker of the Majles and a close aid to Ayatollah Khamenei, had quietly protested the younger Khamenei’s meddling in the political process. (Nategh Nouri, a mid-rank cleric, heads the Supreme Leader’s Office of Inspection)

But, it was Karroubi’s letter that caused a sensation in the country. For the first time, a son of the Supreme Leader was being accused of intervening in the affairs of the state, not even as a neutral figure, but as a supporter of a candidate. Such accusations never came up when Ayatollah Khomeini was the Supreme Leader. Ayatollah Khamenei had carefully cultivated an image of himself and his family that presented them as pious and uninterested in personal power or wealth. The accusations, particularly by Karroubi, a man who had always been among the top leadership in the political establishment, shattered that carefully cultivated image.

In the June 12, 2009 presidential election, Mojtaba Khamenei was again accused of intervening — of leading the election coup that declared Ahmadinejad the winner for a second term. Mojtaba has also been accused of ordering the Basij militia, a paramilitary group controlled by the IRGC, to crackdown hard on the massive demonstrations that broke out after the election. The crackdown has resulted in hundreds of injuries, thousands of arrests and several dozen deaths (all those killed have reportedly been under 32 years of age).

Who is Mojtaba Khamenei? Why does he command such loyalty among the right-wing reactionaries? And how is it that he can use the power of the state to advance what appears to be his own political agenda, and continue to do so with such impunity?

His full name is Sayyed Mojtaba Hosseini Khamenei. One of six children of Ayatollah Khamenei, Mojtaba was born in 1969 in the holy city of Mashhad, in northeastern Iran. His father is a cleric and so was his paternal grandfather, Sayyed Javad Hosseini Khamenei. His father, the current Supreme Leader, was active in politics and in the opposition against the Shah, both in Tehran and Mashhad, and had spent years in jail, as well as in internal exile, ordered by the Shah’s government. In the last year before the 1979 Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei and two other clerics, Abbas Vaez Tabasi and Sayyed Abdolkarim Hasheminejad, formed a sort of leadership ring that led most of the demonstrations and political activities against the Shah in Mashhad and the Khorasan province, which was Iran’s largest province at that time.

Vaez Tabasi is now a powerful cleric who runs the shrine of Imam Reza (the Shiites’ 8th Imam), in Mashhad. He is believed to be a Rafsanjani ally.

Hasheminejad was assassinated in Mashhad on September 29, 1981, by the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization, an armed group in exile and listed by the U.S. State Department as terrorists. A nephew of Hasheminejad is Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a progressive cleric who served as a vice president to former president Mohammad Khatami. Abtahi was among the reformists arrested and jailed after the rigged election of June 12, 2009.

After the 1979 Revolution, Mojtaba and his family lived in Tehran, as his father was part of the new revolutionary elite. His father Ali Khamenei’s first job in the revolutionary government was deputy defense minister. His son, Mojtaba, attended Alavi High School, a private religious school with a rigorous course load. (The school is located on Iran Street in central Tehran, where the author grew up.) Many of Iran’s present leaders are graduates of this high school. Mojtaba graduated in 1987. During the last year or two of the war with Iraq, Mojtaba and his oldest brother, Sayyed Mostafa, also served in the armed forces.

The end of the Iran-Iraq war and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 were also the beginning of the transformation of Ayatollah Khamenei, who went from being a relatively progressive cleric to a right-wing one. After he was appointed by the Assembly of Experts as the Supreme Leader in June 1989, he began distancing himself from his past positions [including his initial opposition to the doctrine of Velaayat-e Faghih (the guardianship of the jurist), which is the backbone of Iran’s political system]. At first he moved toward the center, and eventually to the extreme right of the political spectrum.

The same Ayatollah Khamenei who used to defend the thinking of Dr. Ali Shariati (1933-1977), the distinguished sociologist and Islamic scholar who was opposed to a special role for clerics in society, began promoting Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, the hard-line reactionary cleric. Mesbah Yazdi was vehemently opposed to Dr. Shariati and had even called him an infidel a few years before the 1979 Revolution. The accusations leveled by Mesbah Yazdi at Dr. Shariati even prompted Mahdi Bazargan, the first prime minister after the Revolution, and Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, an important Islamic scholar and a disciple of Ayatollah Khomeini, to sign a letter stating that while Dr. Shariati may have made some mistakes in his writings on Islam, he was not an infidel. (Motahhari was assassinated in 1979 shortly after the Revolution.) But Ayatollah Khamenei, Shariati’s defender and supporter, has declared that Mesbah Yazdi is “the Motahhari of our era,” a great compliment from the Supreme Leader, given how much Motahhari is revered in Iran.

It was in such an environment that the young Mojtaba began his theological studies after finishing high school. His first teachers were his own father and Ayatollah Sayyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the current judiciary chief. Mojtaba was not a cleric yet. In 1999, he moved to Qom to study to join the ranks of clerics. He was taught there by conservative and ultraconservative clerics such as Mesbah Yazdi; Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani, the first Secretary-General of the Guardian Council in the 1980s; and Ayatollah Sayyed Mohsen Kharrazi, the father of former foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi. (Kharrazi’s real name is Sayyed Mohsen Agha Mir Mohammad Ali and his daughter is married to Mojtaba’s younger brother, Mohsen, a junior cleric.)

Mojtaba Khamenei is also very close to Ayatollah Abolghasem Khazali, an ultra-conservative cleric and former member of the Guardian Council. Both Khazali and Mesbah Yazdi belong to the Hojjatiyeh Society, a right-wing religious organization that was founded in the 1950s, an organization that was banned by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1983 after it fiercely opposed Mir Hossein Mousavi, then the prime minister and the main reformist candidate in the recent presidential election.

Mesbah Yazdi and his followers do not believe in anything resembling democracy. They have no compunction about using coercion if people refuse to embrace their point of view. Mesbah Yazdi once said, “The prophets of God did not believe in pluralism. They believed that only one idea was right.” Mesbah Yazdi apparently believes that he espouses Prophet Muhammad’s ideas and is therefore on the right side of history. He has also said that common people “are like sheep.”

Much has been said about the control that Mojtaba Khamanei exerts on the Basij militia and other paramilitary groups that are used to crackdown on street protests. What are the links between Mojtaba Khamenei and such forces?

One link is a mysterious figure not known to most Iranians. His name is Ayatollah Aziz Khoshvaght, who is a great supporter of Mojtaba Khamenei. Ayatollah Khamenei’s third child, Mostafa (Mojtaba’s older brother), is married to Khoshvaght’s daughter. He is a member of the Assembly of Experts, a constitutional body that appoints the Supreme Leader. Khoshvaght ran for the presidency of the Assembly in July 2007. He had been put up as a candidate by the extreme right faction in the Assembly, led by Mesbah Yazdi, in order to oppose Rafsanjani. But Rafsanjani defeated him.

Khoshvaght is the prayer leader of a large mosque in northern Tehran, and a radical hardliner. Saeed Emami, the notorious figure who was responsible for the infamous Chain Murders in the fall of 1998, which resulted in the murder of six Iranian dissidents (and the murder of close to 70 other dissidents from 1988-1998), was a follower of Khoshvaght. Mojtaba Khamenei was apparently a friend of Emami. He traveled with him to Britain in 1988. Khoshvaght is also close to and influential in the affairs of Ansar-e Hezbollah, a radical right-wing group often used to quell demonstrations. But this is a group that remains shrouded in secrecy as well.

Another link between Mojtaba Khamenei and the paramilitary groups is Brigadier General Sayyed Mohammad Hejazi, a former commander of the Basij militia, and widely considered to be an ultra-hardliner. He now works in the office of the Supreme Leader, and is believed to be the mastermind behind many violent crackdowns on university students and protesters. Hejazi has been a close aid and supporter of Mojtaba Khamanei.

The third link between Mojtaba Khamenei and the paramilitary groups is Hassan Taeb, the current commander of the Basij. A hardliner and cleric, he is also linked with Mesbah Yazdi and his followers.

So through these three links — Ayatollah Aziz Khoshvaght, Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi and Hassan Taeb — Mojtaba Khamenei is connected with the forces that crack down on protesters and demonstrators. Though little is officially known about the political views of Mojtaba Khamenei, it would not be a stretch to put him in the radical right-wing camp hellbent on advancing the agenda of extremists such as Mesbah Yazdi and Khazali to establish the so-called Islamic government, as opposed to an Islamic Republic, where the views and votes of the people matter.

Mojtaba has always been around the ultraconservatives. He has been educated by them, and has been close to radical right-wing groups. He has had close friendships with notorious figures such as Saeed Emami, and reactionaries such as Mesbah Yazdi, Khazali and Kharrazi. He is known to be fiercely opposed to the reform movement and its leaders. In particular, he has expressed his disgust at Dr. Saeed Hajjarian, a top strategist for the reformists who was left paralyzed after an assassination attempt in 2000.

Though it is widely believed that Ayatollah Khamenei is grooming Mojtaba to succeed him, it is mere speculation at this point. What, however, are the reasons to believe there is some truth behind it?

Attempts by Ayatollah Khamenei’s allies among the radical right, led by Mesbah Yazdi, to fill the ranks of the Assembly of Experts by younger clerics who are loyal to him and Ayatollah Khamenei, is one indication. These young hardliners are Mesbah Yazdi’s former students in the Haghani Seminary, which is still run by him, and also those who work in the Imam Khomeini Educational Institute in Qom, also controlled by Mesbah Yazdi.

One of these young clerics is Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (no relation to former president Mohammad Khatami), who sometimes acts as the Friday prayer leader of Tehran, and is a member of the Assembly of Experts. It was Ahmad Khatami who threatened the reformist leaders and their supporters with execution during the Friday prayer sermon of June 26, 2009. According to him,

The Supreme Leader is the deputy of the hidden Imam [Mahdi, the Shiites’ 12th Imam who is believed by them to be hiding and will reappear some day] and, therefore, disobeying his [Ayatollah Khamenei’s] orders [that the demonstrations and protests against the rigged election must end] is disobeying the hidden Imam, and that would be tantamount to waging war against God, which is punishable by death. Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction.

Other relatively young radicals and disciples of Mesbah Yazdi include Mohsen Gharavian and Ghassem Ravanbakhsh. The former always attempts to present a moderate and reasonable image of Mesbah Yazdi and his thinking, whereas the latter who is the editor-in-chief of Partow Sokhan, the weekly published by Mesbah Yazdi, is virulently opposed to the reformist-democratic movement.

Mesbah Yazdi is 75 years old. Therefore, there is not much prospect of him becoming the next Supreme Leader. However, he and his followers hope that by filling the ranks of the Assembly of Experts, eliminating Rafsanjani from the political scene, and promoting Mojtaba Khamenei, they can exert great influence on the selection of the next Supreme Leader, when the opportunity presents itself.

It is probably due to such considerations that Mesbah Yazdi has certified that Mojtaba Khamenei is a mojtahed (a learned Islamic scholar), which is the necessary credential for being eventually recognized as an ayatollah and marja’ taghlid (source of emulation). However, many clerics in Qom dispute Mojataba Khamenei’s religious credentials.

There are also other obstacles to Mojtaba Khamenei’s rise to the position of Supreme Leader. The democratic movement in Iran appears to be gaining strength by the day and has not shown signs of dissipating; this itself a major obstacle to the continuation of the political structure in its present form. Aside from that, the following elements present other important obstacles:

One is that many important clerics in Qom have never accepted Ayatollah Khamenei as a true ayatollah, a marja’ taghlid, and an Islamic scholar of note. He was not even the first choice for Supreme Leader after Ayatollah Khomeini passed away. The first choice was the late Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Reza Golpayegani (1895-1993), but he did not receive the required two-thirds of the vote. The most, and perhpas the only, important reason that Ayatollah Khamenei was appointed as the Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts was a quote attributed to Ayatollah Khomeini raised by Rafsanjani in a meeting of the Assembly of Experts: “Ishaan liyaaghat-e rahbari daarand [He (Ayatollah Khamenei) is competent enough to be the (Supreme) Leader].” So, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Ayatollah Khamenei to impose his son as his successor because, like his father, he lacks stellar religious credentials.

Another obstacle is renewed debate among many senior clerics that there should not be just one Faghih (Supreme Leader), but a council of Foghahaa (many Faghihs). This idea has always been supported by some important clerics. The most important proponents of this idea have been Rafsanjani and Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi Amoli, a conservative but respected cleric (and a maternal uncle of Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Majles). When Ayatollah Khomeini passed away in June 1989, the idea of forming the Council was brought up by Rafsanjani, but shot down during internal debates of the Assembly of Experts.

The third obstacle is that while important lay conservatives are seemingly loyal to Ayatollah Khamenei, they are strongly opposed to Mojtaba Khamenei, particularly the idea of him ascending to the position of Supreme Leader.

It has been widely reported that Mojtaba Khamenei is close to the top commanders of the IRGC. Not much evidence has emerged yet to support this. But even if is true, it is not clear at all whether they would actually want the younger Khamenei to be their commander-in-chief. (According to Iran’s Constitution, the Supreme Leader is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces). There have been persistent rumors that Brigadier General Ali Fazli, who lost his left eye in the Iran-Iraq war, the commander of the IRGC forces in the Tehran province, has been opposed to the harsh crackdown on the protesters and demonstrators (reportedly ordered by Mojtaba Khamenei). Both he and Major General Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari, the top commender of the IRGC, are said to be opposed to Mojtaba Khamenei’s meddling and power plays.

Although Ayatollah Khamenei has tried to create the impression that he and his family are not interested in enriching themselves, it appears that at least Mojtaba Khamenei has been using the resources of the state for his political agenda. Immediately after the June 12 election, the British government, at the behest of the European Union, froze a bank account in a British bank worth approximately $1.6 billion. The account was said to belong to the Iranian government, but it was widely reported to be under the control of Mojtaba Khamenei. The account has apparently been used for purchasing equipment for the Basij militia. (That Mojtaba Khamenei was the true controller of the account has not been confirmed with 100 percent certainty, though.)

Another way that Ayatollah Khamenei and most clerics try to spread their influence and assure loyalty is by marrying members of their families to other influential people. The practice is very widespread among the clerics and the senior leadership in Iran. In the case of the Khamenei family, Mojtaba Khamenei is married to a daughter of Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, a university professor and former conservative Speaker of the Majles. After he was elected the Speaker of the 8th Majles in 2004, Haddad Adel once said, “We were told [by Ayatollah Khamenei] to be here [in the Majles to control it for the Ayatollah],” for which he was widely mocked by the reformists. But this statement indicated how the Ayatollah was putting his loyalists everywhere. Ayatollah Khamenei’s oldest daughter is married to Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, his chief of staff.

So while is it clear that Mojtaba Khamenei is playing a leading role in driving the agenda of the extreme right in Iran, whether he will eventually rise to hold a powerful official position is a matter of debate. The jury is still out on that issue.

Grand Ayatollah Youssef Saanei
who normally comments little on political affairs – warned on Friday that “due to the lack of public support, the government may face legal and civil problems and a lack of competency.”

Ayatollah Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi
“The least we can say is that this government’s legitimacy is in doubt. A majority of the people don’t believe that Ahmadinejad was their vote,” said Ayatollah Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi, a leader of the Association of Teachers and Researchers, an influential clerical group at Qom Seminary that issued a statement last week against the election crackdown.
“People were peacefully protesting election results and the response to that should not be the bullet,” Tabrizi told The Associated Press this week. “The harsh crackdown was illogical. They could have handled it without any blood being shed.”

Ayatollah Morteza Moqtadaei
a conservative Ahmadinejad supporter, has called on the opposition to “choose silence to preserve the system.”

Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi
issued a message directed implicitly at the opposition, reminding them that the supreme leader alone has the right to govern.
“The administration of power has been transferred from the imams to the supreme jurisconsult,” he told students in Qom in a speech carried by the semiofficial Fars news agency. “The jurisconsult has guardianship to administer the Islamic system according to Islamic rulings and not on the basis of his personal opinions.”

is a hard-line Iranian cleric who served as the head of Judiciary System of Iran between 1989 and 1999, following Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili and succeeded by Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.

Yazdi is now a member of Guardian Council. He has served as the interim Friday prayer leader of Tehran. During Iranian elections December 15, 2006 Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi was a candidate from Jame Modarresin and Jame Rohaniyat (the conservative list, rival to Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi)

Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi
believed to be Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor – addressed a gathering of Guards commanders on June 22, only days after security forces broke up one of the biggest protests.
“Do not be worried about the events and earthquakes that have occurred. Know that God created this world as a test,” he told them. “The supreme leader holds a great many of the blessings God has given us and at a time of such uncertainties our eyes must turn to him.”

mentor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and of large portions of the Revolutionary Guards, the intelligence apparatuses, and the conservative fundamentalist faction

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati Massah
is an Iranian ayatollah and political figure. He is the conservative chairman of the Guardian Council[1],the body in charge of checking legislation approved by Majlis with the Constitution and sharia, and approving the candidates in various elections. He is also a temporary Friday prayer imam of Tehran.

# #
# Academics & Regime #
# #

Abbas-Ali Amid Zanjani
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Abbasali Amid Zanjani)
Jump to: navigation, search
Ayatollah Abbasali Amid Zanjani

Former President of University of Tehran
Born 1937
Zanjan, Iran
Political party Combatant Clergy Association
Religious beliefs Shia Islam

Ayatollah Abbasali Amid Zanjani (born 1937) in Zanjan is a hardline Iranian politician and cleric.

Zanjani, an ethnic Iranian Azeri, is known for being the only cleric president of University of Tehran. Zanjani holds no secular academic degree[1] and was appointed by Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, the minister of Science, Research, and Technology in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet in 27 December 2005. Before his selection, the president of the University of Tehran was elected by the faculty members. After his establishment as the president of University of Tehran, many students protested in front of the Central Library, where the establishment ceremony was held.

At the time of his appointment as the chancellor of Tehran University, Zanjani was a lecturer with a ranking equivalent to “associate professor”.[2] However after his appointment, He and his allies tried to make a fake academic degree and university ranking for him. As an example Tehran University launched a webpage about his background education, claiming that “he holds a PhD degree from University Elites, Iran”. [3][4]

Zanjani is a member of the Board of Directors of Imam Khomeini International University. He has published more than 40 books and 70 articles in local newspapers and journals. He is also the founder of the Research Center for Studies and Researches on Islamic Sciences.

During his post as the president of the university, Zanjani was repeatedly criticized for his mismanagements by students and academics. On 5 February 2008, Zanjani was replaced by economist academic Farhad Rahbar after three-days demonstration organized by Tehran University students. [1]

[edit] Political life

Zanjani has strong political ties with Iranian conservatives and a member of Combatant Clergy Association. Amid Zanjani has had an active presence in reconsideration of the Constitution in 1989 as the delegate of the Parliament in the Revising Council. He has served as a member of Islamic Parliament from Tehran for two terms.

[edit] Expulsion of university scientists

In 2006, the Ahmadinejad government systematicly forced numerous Iranian scientists and University professors to resign or to retire. It has been referred to as “second cultural revolution”.[5] The policy has been said to replace current professors with younger ones.[6][7] Many University professors received letters indicating their early retirement unexpectedly.[8]

Zanjani expelled more than 40 of staff scientists of Tehran University. He reasoned that whoever is older than 65 years must get retired. However he himself was 68 years old at that time.

Another factor may have been the cultural revolution, a part of the Islamic revolution. On 12 June 1980 the Cultural Revolution shut down Iran’s Higher Education system for over a year to completely overhaul and Islamicize it, purging many students and faculty. Nonetheless, the flight abroad of educated Iranians was commented on as early as Oct 31 of 1979, when its importance was disparaging by the founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini:

“They say there is a brain drain. Let these decayed brains flee. Do not mourn them, let them pursue their own definitions of being. Is every brain with – what you call – science in it honorable? Shall we sit and mourn the brains that escaped? Shall we worry about these brains fleeing to the US and the UK? Let these brains flee and be replaced by more appropriate brains. Now that they (the Islamic Republic) are filtering, you are sitting worried why they are executing [people]? Why are you discussing these rotten brains of [these] lost people? Why are you questioning Islam? Are they fleeing? To hell with them. Let them flee. They were not scientific brains. All the better. Don’t be concerned. They should escape. [Iran] is not a place for them to live any more. These fleeing brains are of no use to us. Let them flee. If you know that this is no place for you, you should flee too.”
O Fatemeh Zahra!
Iran President Ahmadinejad and some Iranian polititians in Islamic Hard Rock Club. For those who don’t know anything about such ceremonies, I have to say this is a mourning ceremony for some Islamic leaders(Imam Hossein) who have been killed almost 1400 years ago. In Iran such ceremonies will run every day for more than a month. In Iran there is no dancing club but there is something like this. Sounds like Hard Rock Music!

Why are the grand ayatollahs silent?

The grand ayatollahs have not remained silent. You see, in Qom, there are approximately 13 people who are considered marja taqlid [literally translates to: source to imitate or follow, grand ayatollahs with the authority to make decisions for their followers.] Of these 13, seven are the highest ranking, meaning that they have the greatest influence. Of these seven, not a single one has congratulated Ahmadinejad. None have congratulated the leader.

Of that 13, 2 have sent their congratulations but they are are not part of the top 7. Of these seven who have the greatest number of students and funding, who have greater influence within the public, who have more followers, none have been willing to lend their support. This silence was so painful that Ayatollah Khamenei, in his speech on the day of Mabas, stated: “why are the elites silent?” By “elites” he meant these grand ayatollahs. Because they are the ones who give legitimacy to the system. And they have remained silent. Not only are they silent, they have raised their voice in protest. [the leader did say that, and also said that with regards to the “elites”, silence makes them as complicit in crime as those who speak out in support of it.]

Of these seven, three have been outspoken in defending the rights of the people. Of the remaining four, one has taken the middle ground, meaning that he’s addressed both sides. Of the remaining three, one has been completely silent, and the other two have spoken of their strong disapproval with recent events.

Meaning that of these seven, five have supported the green movement in some way. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, Grand Ayatollah Sanei, Grand Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili, Safi Golpayghani and Bayat Zanjani. The last two have supported the movement, the first three have written official statements and letters.

On the 10th of July, Ayatollah Montazeri has issued a fatwa calling for the illegitimacy of this government. In the past one hundred years, this fatwa has only been given three times:

* once during the constitutional revolution by Akhond Khorasani against Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar
* once at the beginning of the Islamic revolution by Ayatollah Khomeini against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
* And now by Ayatollah Montazeri against the head of the Iranian ruling system

ran’s Next Minister of Intelligence?

Hoseinian001 Iran’s Next Minister of Intelligence?

Photo: There is talk of Ruhollah Hosseinian taking over at the Intelligence Ministry.


[TEHRAN BUREAU] As first reported by the author, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired his Minister of Intelligence, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehei, after he and his deputies had prepared a report for Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which they had stated that contrary to what Ahmadinejad and his supporters in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) high command have been claiming, there was no link between foreign powers and the protests and demonstrations that erupted after the rigged presidential election of June 12.

Ejehei had also been angry at the fact that Ahmadinejad had not immediately carried out Ayatollah Khamenei’s order to sack Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei as his First Vice President, and he is said to have been opposed to the broadcasting of the “confessions” of the jailed reformist leaders.

Ahmadinejad also fired several other key figures in the Ministry, including Haaj Abdollah, deputy in charge of internal security, and Khazaei, the deputy for counter-intelligence, both of whom had been working with the Ministry from its inception in 1984. Also fired was the deputy for parliamentary affairs, as was as another high-ranking official in charge of technology; all four had reportedly been involved in the preparation of the report.

Several credible reports from Tehran indicate that at least a dozen other senior officials in the Ministry have either resigned to protest the purge, were fired, or forced into retirement. Some had protested the fact that many members of the intelligence unit of the IRGC (referred in Iran by the reformists as the “parallel intelligence organization”) had been brought by Ahmadinejad into the Ministry, and had taken effective control of it, in an effort to purge from the Ministry those who are deemed disloyal to Ahmadinejad. There was so much discussion about the Ministry that it was forced to issue a statement, asking the press not to report on its internal developments.

After firing Ejehei, Ahmadinejad asked one of Ejehei’s remaining deputies to be the caretaker Minister until a permanent Minister was selected; Ahmadinejad was turned down. Ahmadinejad then announced that he himself would be the caretaker Minister, and appointed an ally, Majid Alavi, as his deputy.

The question is now who is going to be the next Minister of Intelligence? According to the law passed in 1983 when the Ministry was being set up, the Minister must be a Mojtahed, or a learned Islamic person. This has meant that all of Iran’s Ministers of Intelligence have come from the ranks of the clerics. So, by appointing himself as the caretaker Minister, Ahmadinejad is already violating the law regarding the Ministry.

A leading candidate for the post is Ruhollah Hosseinian, a hard-line clerical ally of Ahmadinejad. Born in 1955 in Shiraz, he began his theological studies at Valiasr School, but then joined the Haghani School in Qom, which is run by the reactionary cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who also serves as Ahmadinejad’s spiritual leader. [All five of Iran’s Intelligence Ministers have been graduates of the Haghani School.] Hosseinian has held various positions, including a prosecutor in the revolutionary court of Mashhad, a city in northeast Iran, and in the province of Sistan and Baluchestan, in southeastern Iran on the border with Pakistan; and deputy prosecutor in the same court in Tehran. He was also a prosecutor for the special court for the clerics, an extra-judicial organization meant to control dissident clerics.

Hosseinian was also a deputy to Ali Fallahian, the notorious former Minister of Intelligence who has been implicated in many crimes. While there, he became a close friend of Saeed Emami, the notorious ring leader of a group of intelligence agents who murdered six intellectuals and dissidents in the fall of 1998 (they were involved in many lesser known murders from 1988-1998), referred to in Iran as “the Chain Murders.” When Emami was arrested, Hosseinian strongly defended him and accused the Khatami administration, in a nationally broadcast TV program, of being behind the murders. He once said, “We have been a murderer ourselves. This [murder of the dissident] is not the way things were done.” But, he also contradicted himself when he said,

I do not deny that Saeed Emami might have been involved in the murders. He actually believed that the enemies of the Islamic Republic must be wiped off the face of the earth. He had a lot of experience in this matter.

When the government announced in the spring of 1999 that Emami had committed suicide in jail (a claim that most did not believe), Hosseinian openly mourned his death. He said that, “Hajj Saeed [Emami] sacrificied himself for Iran’s Islamic path. Emami was killed in order to prevent identification of higher authorities who had ordered the murders.”

For a short time, Hosseinian was an advisor to Ahmadinejad for security matters. He is now a deputy in the 8th Majles (parliament), and heads the Center for Islamic Revolution Documents. He is an ardent supporter of Ahmadinejad, and is said to have been involved in a fist fight with Ejehei after Ahmadinejad became aware of the report about the link between the reformists and foreign powers.

Another leading candidate is Heidar Moslehi, a mid-rank cleric. He is currently the head of the Organization for Islamic Endowments (vaghf) and Charities, which runs a vast network of mosques and other Islamic centers. When Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005, Moslehi, who at that time was the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in the Basij militia, was appointed by Ahmadinejad as his advisor for clerical affairs. But, the appointment was protested by many, and he resigned after three months and was appointed to his present post. If appointed to the post, given his history with the Basij, Moslehi will enhance the influence of the military in the security and intelligence apparatus.

Other candidates include Ahmad Salek, a cleric and representative of Ayatollah Khamenei to the Qod force, an elite and secretive unit within the IRGC. He is also a hardliner who has been accused of many crimes and wrongdoings.

The fourth possible candidate is Hossein Taeb, a cleric who is the commander of the Basij and has a reputation for advocating use of violence against the protestors. In a recent open letter about the aftermath of the presidential election and the violent crackdown, Ali Motahhari, a Majles deputy (son of the late Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, a leading figure in the 1979 Revolution who was assassinated in April 1979, and a brother-in-law of Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Majles), criticized Taeb and his use of violence, saying, “He is friendlier to batons and sticks than to wisdom and thinking.” Taeb has also been implicated in the crimes that have occurred in the Kahrizak detention center on the southern edge of Tehran, where at least three protestors jailed there were murdered. Many more tortured and held under the most inhumane conditions there.

# #
# Arousi | Persian Wedding #
# #
ARUSI, the secular wedding celebration which follows the wedding contract ceremony (?aqd, q.v.). The two ceremonies may occur on the same day or be separated by larger amounts of time-days, months, or even years. Only after the ?arusi do the new husband and wife begin married life. Most ?arusi observances are the responsibility of the groom’s family and constitute the culmination of involved processes of proposal and negotiation between the bride’s and groom’s families. This article is chiefly concerned with wedding ceremonies in traditional Persia and where the traditions are preserved.

Proposal (??ast(a)gari). When a young man reaches marriageable age, his family undertakes the task of finding a suitable wife for him. Sir John Chardin reported that in the late seventeenth century marriages were contracted before children were twenty years of age (Chardin, p. 238). Among the Kalhor tribe in Kurdistan, girls marry between ten and twenty years; the men are somewhat older—fifteen to twenty-five years (Ma??umi, p. 58).

If an appropriate young lady is known or related to the family, the procedure is straightforward. If not, the process is more complicated and a young woman may be found through matchmaking (dallalagi). The women of the would-be groom’s family often take it upon themselves to locate a young woman and pay a visit to her family. If the young man’s relatives are served only tea, it is understood that the girl’s family is opposed to the match. The girl’s relatives express interest by serving sweets and perhaps a cooling drink (šarbat) along with the tea (Faqiri, p. 76; Francklin, p. 110).

The girl being considered is scrutinized carefully by her prospective in-laws. Her speech and sweetness of breath are examined, and in Shiraz a young woman was customarily asked to clean a trayful of vegetables. Correct completion of the task indicated that a girl was patient and ready for marriage (Faqiri, p. 76). A young man’s reputation and standing in the community are carefully investigated by the girl’s family before an agreement can be reached. Family background, wealth, temperament, religiosity, health, looks, and education are all taken into account in reaching a decision.

If all appears well, women of the man’s family escort him on a visit to the girl’s home so that he can see his proposed bride. To accomplish this end, the girl’s relatives may urge her to serve tea to him. Al-e A?mad describes one such awkward visit in his story, “The Unwanted Woman” (pp. 72-74). Alternatively, a more surreptitious glance at the intended bride may be arranged (Savage-Landor, p. 194; Sykes, p. 69).

Betrothal (namzadi). When all parties are satisfied, a party to mark the agreement and arrange details of the match can be held. Friends and relatives are invited to the bride’s home for an official celebration of the betrothal and gifts are sent to the girl’s home by her fiancée’s family. The guests enjoy tea, sherbet drinks, and sweets, and the betrothal is announced publicly. If the parents of the bride can afford it, professional musicians and dancers may entertain the guests (Savage-Landor, pp. 194-95).

The party is known variously as širini-??oran “sweeteating” (Colliver Rice, p. 140), bala-boran “yes-completing” (Faqiri, p.77), or by a name which reflects the gifts given to the bride, such as kafš pa koni “putting shoes on” in Khorasan (Šokurzada, p. 144). Gifts are sent to the girl’s home by the man’s family and may include large trays of candied sugar, expensive shawls, a ring, and perhaps other jewelry. The elaboration of gifts depends upon the groom’s family’s status and means. In 1307/1889 the betrothal of Na?er-al-din Shah’s eight-year-old daughter A?tar-al-dawla, to his favorite page ?olam-?Ali Khan ?Aziz-al-sol?an (Malijak) was observed by the sending of 400 trays of sugar (qand) and bowls of rock candy (nabat), four shawls, and seven pieces of jewelry (E?temad-al-sal?ana, Ruz-nama, pp. 672-73, 676).

In simpler versions of the širini-??oran, the mother of the groom may bring a gold ring, some sweets, and sugar-coated almond slivers (noql) to the gathering. At a Kalhor tribe betrothal party in Kurdistan, the mother of the groom gives a gold ring to the bride; women celebrate and congratulate the girl, tossing noql over her (Ma??umi, p. 61 ).

The betrothal ceremony traditionally involves a meeting of elder representatives of both families: the exact provisions of the marriage contract, including the amount of the mahriya (marriage portion settled on the bride), clothes, and other gifts for the bride are determined. In the late eighteenth century Francklin found the gifts to be as follows: “These, if the person be in middling circumstances, generally consist of two complete suits of apparel of the best sort, a ring, a looking-glass, and a small sum in ready money of about ten or twelve tomans, which sum is denominated Mehr u Kawéén [kabin], or the marriage-portion, it being given for the express purpose of providing for the wife in case of divorce. There is also a quantity of household stuff of all sorts, such as carpets, mats, bedding, utensils for dressing victuals, &c” (Francklin, pp. 110-11).

Among tribal groups the amount of šir-baha “milk price“—a sum of money, cattle, horses, or sheep that the groom or his father pays to the bride’s mother for having nursed her—is also agreed upon at this meeting (Ma??umi, p. 61). The šir-baha remains important in some rural areas and is a measure of the groom’s esteem for the bride’s family (Sa?edi, p. 144).

At the betrothal meeting a day might also be set for a trip to the bazaar so that cloth and other items promised to the bride could be purchased (Faqiri, p. 77; Ma??umi, p. 61 ).

In Shiraz the visit to the bazaar was traditionally followed by a cloth cutting party (ra?t-boran). Women of the bride and groom’s families gathered to take the bride’s measurements and cut cloth for her wedding garments. Women thoroughly enjoyed themselves at these gatherings, played tambourines, danced, and sang special wedding songs (vasunak) (Faqiri, p. 77).

Observances prior to the wedding party (?arusi). Once the marriage contract ceremony has been held and the contract (?aqd-nama, q.v.) signed, the couple are legally united. The actual union of the bride and groom is left to the ?arusi celebration, which includes consummation of the marriage. Faqiri comments that if a bride is married at an ?aqd ceremony, but does not complete the marriage with an ?arusi celebration within a reasonable period of time (a year at the most), it is thought in Shiraz that one of the bride or groom’s relatives will die, and a death in the family during that period is often referred to by the phrase šekar karda ast (she has hunted) (Faqiri, p. 80). Some time may pass between the contract ceremony and the ?arusi, either to allow a young bride to mature—perhaps a matter of years—or to leave time to make preparations for the wedding—a week to a month after the ?aqd. An auspicious time is chosen for the wedding party.

The time which elapses between the ?aqd and the ?arusi is dealt with in various ways. Savage-Landor noted visits between the bride and groom, with the groom bringing fine gifts for his fiancée on each occasion (p. 198). Family members too have a chance to get acquainted during the interval. Often the groom is obliged to give a gift to the bride’s family on each important holiday—especially ?Id-e Fe?r and the new Year, Nowruz. The bride’s family may provide him with a sumptuous holiday dinner in return (Faqiri, p. 80; Ria?i, p. 48). In Shiraz the favor is returned by the groom’s mother-in-law after the wedding, especially at ?Id-e Fe?r. She must also provide her son-in-law with an elaborate meal (ef?ari) to break the fast during Ramazan (Faqiri, p. 80). In contrast, the Kurdish Kalhor do not allow the bride and groom to see one another between the two ceremonies (Ma??umi, p. 61 ).

The day and evening before the wedding are spent in preparation for the celebration. Faqiri reports that in Shiraz the bridal chamber (?ajla) is readied and rice cleaned for the wedding dinner by women who celebrate and sing wedding songs as they work (p. 78). The bride and groom each visit the public bath (?ammam); once bathed, henna is applied to their hands and feet or hair and fingernails. Francklin describes the ceremony of the evening on which henna is applied—šab-e (?ana)-bandi. The groom sent henna to the bride’s house. After her hands and feet were stained, the remainder of the henna was returned to the groom and he was decorated as well (pp. 113-14).
On the day of the wedding the bride is elaborately made up and dressed in her finery; the groom also wears new clothes bought for the occasion.

Each locale has its own ways in which the participants are prepared. Al-e A?mad mentions that in the village Owrazan the groom visits the ?ammam on the night before his wedding, puts on his wedding clothes and pays a visit to the local shrine (emamzada). The groom then spends the evening on the roof of his house (in summer time) with other men, and his guests pledge wedding gifts, with promises to deliver the presents before the bride arrives at the groom’s house. Older men leave the groom and his friends to a bachelor party which lasts throughout the night. In the morning the tired groom is taken on a round of visits in the neighborhood and returns home at noon (Al-e A?mad, Owrazan, pp. 35-36).

The bride’s dowry (jahaz, jahiz, jahiziya) is packed in trunks, often covered with brightly colored velvet and sent to the groom’s house before the wedding celebration. Ma??umi lists the Kalhor girl’s dowry as her hope chest, several jajims (flat-woven, woollen blankets), a mattress, a quilt, a few skins filled with water and one with a yogurt drink (du?), and a skin filled with cooking oil (ibid., p. 63). In poorer areas, the dowry is less elaborate. Owrazan girls seldom have more than one trunk of belongings as their dowry, which includes clothes for the bride and groom, a long tobacco pouch (kisa-ye tutun), a pant’s drawstring (band-e tonban) and a luncheon cloth belt (sofra-ye kamari) (ibid., p. 36).

By contrast, dowries of wealthy urban brides might include fine household furniture, an ample supply of cooking utensils, numerous carpets and boxes of clothes all mounted on gaily decorated mules. Transfer of the dowry to the groom’s house is a festive event and may attract a large and interested audience (Sykes, pp. 77-78). Items included in Shiraz dowries are put on display, along with the wedding presents (Faqiri, p. 79).

A well-to-do groom’s family may sponsor several days of wedding celebrations before the bride is brought to the house. Shirazi families of means customarily chose to include theatrical performance (te?atr-e ta?t-e ?awzi) in the wedding entertainment (Faqiri, p. 79). Savage-Landor remarks that, “Usually for ten days or less before the wedding procession takes place a festival is held in the bridegroom’s house, when the mullahs, the friends, acquaintances, relations and neighbours are invited—fresh guests being entertained each night. Music, dancing, and lavish refreshments are again provided for the guests” (p. 198). By holding these parties on separate evenings, guests of different sorts, classes, and inclinations may be regaled with entertainment and refreshments suited to their tastes and station. The number of nights on which celebrations are held corresponds to the family’s wealth and social obligations. When Chardin was in Isfahan, two weeks were devoted to the wedding of the eldest son of the “Nazir” to the daughter of Divanbigi. “The Wedding lasted Fourteen Days. The Three first, the Parents only, were treated; Several Lords of the Court were treated on the Fourth; the King’s Favourites on the Fifth; and the Generals of the Army on the Sixth: The Pontiffs, and the most considerable of the Clergy on the Seventh. The first Minister was treated on the Eighth, and the King, the next Day after. The Tenth, was for the Chancellor, and the Secretaries of State. The Eleventh for the principal Men of Letters. And on the three last Days, other Persons of Note were invited; so that there was not any Person of Consideration, either at Court or in the City, who was not at the Wedding. It is said to have cost the Nazir Four hundred thousand Livres, the greatest part in Presents to the Guests” (op. cit., I, p. 73).

The wedding procession. Persian weddings have long been noted for the grand processions in which the bride is escorted to her new husband’s home (A?ani, cited in Heffening, p. 1038). On the day of the wedding, the bride is outfitted for her trip to the grooms house. A young boy may tie a bit of bread and cheese wrapped in a cloth to the bride’s waist (Hedayat, p. 23) or hand it to her (Sykes, p. 79), or an older woman may tie a bit of bread wrapped in a scarf around the bride’s waist (Ma??umi, p. 63). The bread later figures in the bride’s meeting with her husband in the bridal chamber (?ajla). A pink or red veil traditionally is placed over the bride’s head and face (Ma??umi, p. 63). At the time Francklin was in Iran in the late eighteenth century the bride was “covered from head to foot in a veil of red silk or painted muslin” (op. cit., p. 115). Women accompanying the bride also wore red silk veils and the presents from the bridegroom to the bride were placed on trays covered with red silk (pp. 114-16).

Relatives and friends of the groom go on foot or on horseback to fetch the bride. If the distance is long, they may entertain themselves with races along the way. Nowadays the trip is often made by car, with beeping of horns and singing by the passengers.

The groom’s representatives may be served some refreshment at the bride’s house before they return to the groom. In Shiraz they steal something from the bride’s house—perhaps a spoon or a glass—in the belief that the theft assures the groom’s success on the wedding night. The father of the bride allows the group to take his daughter only after he has received the official written marriage contract (qabala-ye ?arusi) from them (Faqiri, p. 78). In most places, the parents of the bride remain at home and do not attend the ?arusi celebration at the groom’s house. Attendance at the celebration during the consummation is said to be particularly upsetting to the bride’s mother.

At various stages of the bride’s departure, procession and arrival at the groom’s house, those escorting the bride may refuse to allow her to proceed until a gift is presented to them by a representative of the groom’s family (Ma??umi, p. 64; Ria?i, p. 50; Sykes, p. 80).

The veiled bride is seated astride a gaily caparisoned mule or horse, or—for aristocratic urban families in the past—in a coach, and is conducted through the streets. Traditionally, a large mirror is held in front of the bride as she traverses the way to her husband’s home. She gazes into the mirror, told, says Francklin, “that it is the last time she will look into the glass a virgin” (op. cit., p. 115). Great care must be taken with the mirror; if it breaks, the bride is sure to have bad luck (Faqiri, p. 79).

An elaborate wedding procession would be arranged in the following order: “first, the musicians and dancing girls; after which the presents in trays borne on men’s shoulders; next come the relations and friends of the bridegroom, all shouting and making a great noise; who are followed by the bride herself, surrounded by all her female friends and relations, one of whom leads the horse by the bridle; and several others on horseback close the procession” (Francklin, pp. 115-16). In some places the horse is led by one of the bride’s male relatives (Ma??umi, p. 64). If the groom had an official position, soldiers, bands, and servants would complete the bride’s retinue (Savage-Landor, p. 199). Wild rue (esfand) is burned as the procession goes forward and when the bride arrives at the groom’s house. The pungent smoke of the burning herb protects the bride from the evil eye.

As the bride and her entourage proceed through the streets people along the route may sprinkle her with rose water and perhaps noql candy or raisins. The bride’s approach may be announced by gunshots and, for the wealthy, fireworks (Savage-Landor, p. 199; Sykes, p. 80).

In some areas the groom awaits the bride s arrival on the roof of his house and three times throws sugar (qand), a pomegranate, or an apple at her as she draws near. If he hits her or the object passes over her head, it portends his success on the wedding night (Al-e A?mad, Owrazan, p. 50). Hedayat writes that the groom tosses a sour orange (naranj) at his bride. Should she catch it, she will be the stronger partner in the marriage (op. cit., p. 23).

When the bride approaches the house, the procession stops and one or more sheep are sacrificed as thanks to God and to assure a good future for the marriage. The meat is distributed to those who accompany the procession—musicians, soldiers, etc.—and to the poor (Savage-Landor, p. 199; Sykes, p. 80).

Numerous customs reflect the desire that the groom dominate his wife, or may show that she will rule over him. For example, the groom may remain on the roof over the door of the house as the bride enters, so that she must pass under his feet (Hedayat, p. 23).

The groom’s father or his guardian greets the bride at the door. All men leave at this point and the bride is escorted to a chamber, where she stands on a couch holding a candle while others dance around her for an hour or so with rhythmic clapping of their hands (Al-e A?mad, op. cit., p. 50; Colliver Rice, pp. 145-46; Savage-Landor, p. 201 ).

The bridal chamber (?ajla). A room at the groom’s house is set aside and decorated as the bridal chamber. The walls may be hung with colored cloth and the bed spread with a satin coverlet. In simpler circumstances, bedding may be spread with a white cloth (Ma??umi, p. 64). The bedclothes should be arranged by a woman who has been yekba?t, i.e., she has not shared her husband with a co-wife (havu) (Hedayat, op. cit., p. 24).

At length the groom joins his bride and they seated next to one another. Some advise that the husband perform two units of prayer (do rak?at namaz) in the ?ajla. A family elder gives the bride’s and groom’s hands to one another. The groom’s hand should stay on top of the bride’s so he will always prevail over her. In Shiraz the little fingers of the bride’s and groom’s hands are rinsed with rose water over a basin, into which the couple throw coins. The rose water is later poured at the foot of a green tree (Faqiri, p. 79). Elsewhere, the bride and groom may wash each other’s feet with rose water. First the bride’s right big toe is placed under the groom’s right big toe and rinsed, then her left big toe is placed under his and they are washed. The couple then toss gold coins into the basin at their feet. Hedayat comments that the rose water caught in the basin is sprinkled on the wall to bring blessing (barakat) to the house. This done, the husband may remove his wife’s veil, but only after he has given her a gift of jewelry. The gift is called rugoša or runama, literally “displaying the face.”

The bride and groom now eat some of the sweet bread or bread and cheese which the bride has brought in a handkerchief from her home. The couple is then left alone for the consummation (zefaf) of the marriage. A woman of the bride’s family or, in rarer instances, a female relative of the groom (Ma??umi, p. 66) remains outside the door of the bridal chamber.

Successful consummation of the marriage is announced to the guests by gunshots (Ma??umi, p. 66), drumming (Al-e A?mad, op. cit., p. 50), or ululation (kel zadan) by the female guests (Faqiri, p. 79).

Traditionally, the woman who remained outside the ?ajla displays the bloodied cloth demonstrating the bride’s virginity on her wedding night to the female guests. Among the Kurdish Kalhor, the cloth is given to the mother of the bride, who keeps it for a year (Ma??umi, p. 66).

Observances following the ?arusi. The time immediately following the wedding is punctuated by special observances which mark the bride’s new womanhood and introduce the new husband and wife to the community as a married couple. For three days following the consummation of the marriage, an Owrazan bride neither speaks nor touches anything. A more lenient attitude is mentioned by Aqa Jamal ??ansari in his treatise on the customs prevalent among Persian women. According to the work, the young wife may give up praying for forty days and, if married in Ramazan, need not fast (?Aqa?ed al-nesa?, tr. Atkinson, p. 46).

After the consummation, the bride and groom must both perform ritual ablutions (?osl-e jenabat). When the groom goes to the public bath, an unmarried male relative accompanies him; it is thought that the single man will marry soon thereafter. A like custom prevails with the bride and her unmarried companion will be fortunate (safidba?t) in the same way (Hedayat, p. 24).

On the morning following the wedding night, in Shiraz, the groom visits his mother-in-law, kisses her hand, and escorts her to his house (Faqiri, p. 79).

The husband and wife often make their first public appearances at dinners sponsored by relatives. The custom of sponsoring such formal introductions to society for the newly married couple is known as pagoša, a sort of “stepping out.” A Shirazi father of the bride, traditionally invites his new son-in-law and his friends for dinner or lunch a week after the ?arusi. From that time on, others may extend invitations to them (Faqiri, p. 80). In Kurdistan some three days to a week after the wedding night, the father of the bride sends meat and other foodstuffs for a celebration at the groom’s house. Only women attend this version of pagoša. The women enjoy the meal sponsored by the father of the bride, sing and dance. Afterwards the mother of the bride takes her daughter home for a weeklong visit, at the end of which the groom arrives and takes his wife back to his house (Ma??umi, p. 66). In urban areas, family dinner parties held for a newly married couple suffice as a contemporary form of pagoša.

Baluchi practice stands out as an exception. The wedding night is celebrated at the bride’s home and the consummation takes place there. The couple then spends a month with the bride’s family, after which they begin their life together at the groom’s house (Ria?i, p. 50).

Despite differences in wealth and details of ?arusi observances all wedding traditions express certain relationships and hopes. The union of two families through marriage, and the transfer of the bride to her husband’s group are celebrated in the wedding ceremonies. Each group attempts to fulfill its wedding obligations in a manner which reflects well on the family’s social position. Every effort—practical and ritual—is made to get the couple off to a good start, assuring smooth relations with in-laws, fertility of the bride, and a felicitous relationship between the husband and wife.

For legal aspects of marriage and wedding ceremonies in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and among the Iranian minorities, see Marriage.

Bibliography : M. R. Afaridun, “Marasem-e ?arusi dar dehat-e Ardabil,” Talas 13, 1347 Š./1968, p. 32. J. Al-e A?mad, Owrazan, 4th ed., Tehran, 1333 Š./1954, pp. 51-55. Idem, The Unwanted Woman in Iranian Society: An Anthology of Writings by Jalal Al-e A?mad, ed. M. C. Hillman, Lexington, Kentucky, 1982, pp. 70-79. M. H. K. E?temad-al-sal?ana, Ruz-nama-ye ?a?erat, ed. I. Afšar, Tehran, 2536 = 1356 Š./1977. Sir J. Chardin, Sir John Chardin’s Travels in Persia, introd. by Sir Percy Sykes, ed. N. M. Penzer, London, 1927. C. Colliver Rice, Persian Women and their Ways, Philadelphia, 1923, pp. 145-48. A. Faqiri, “Marasem-e ?arusi dar Širaz,” Honar o Mardom 162, 2535 = 1355 Š./1976, pp. 76-80 (this article contains the text of Shirazi wedding song [vasunak] verses). Wm. Francklin, Observations Made on a Tour From Bengal to Persia in the Years 1786-7, repr. Tehran, 1976, pp. 109-20. M. ?afuri, “Marasem-e ?arusi dar qaria-ye “Gah”,” Talaš 7, 1346 Š./1967, p. 43. S. Hedayat, Neyrangestan, Tehran, n.d., pp. 23-24. Heffening, “?Urs,” in EI IV, pp. 1038-47 (with a useful bibliography of sources on Persian weddings). H. Karimi, “Marasem-e ?arusi dar Abravan,” Talaš 5, 1346 Š./1967, p. 15. M. Katira?i, Az ?ešt ta ?ešt, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969, pp. 89-131, 163-215. Aqa Jamal K?ansari, ?Aqa?ed al-nesa?, ed. M. Katira?i, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970; tr. J. Atkinson, Ketab-e Kol?um-Nana, Customs and Manners of the Women of Persia, repr. New York, 1971, pp. 42-46, 70-73. Y. Majidzada, “Zanašu?i dar il-e Zarza,” Honar o Mardom 11, 1351 Š./1972, pp. 11-15. H. Masse, Croyances et coutumes persanes I, Paris, 1938, pp. 61-94 (the chapter on marriage includes references to numerous travelers’ accounts in European languages). ?. R. Ma??umi, “?Arusi dar il-e Kalhor,” Honar o Mardon 159-60, 1354 Š./1975, pp. 58-67. ?A. Ria?i, Zar wa bad wa Baluc, Tehran, 1356 Š./1977, pp. 45-50. D. ?. S., “Marasem-e ?arusi dar Astarabad,” Nowbahar, 5th series, 1301 Š./1922-23, pp. 473-75. ?. Sa?edi, ?iav wa Meškinšahr, Tehran, 1354 Š./ 1975, p. 144. A. H. Savage-Landor, Across Coveted Lands I, New York, 1903, pp. 193-203. M. Sotuda, “Nemayeš-e ?arusi dar jangal (Mazanderan),” Yad(e)gar 1/8, 1323 Š./1944, pp. 41-43. Major P. M. Sykes with Khan Bahadur Ahmad din Khan, The Glory of the Shi?a World: The Tale of a Pilgrimage, London, 1910, pp. 65-82 (a fictional account which nonetheless supplies detailed descriptions of marriage customs). M. Šahipasand, “Marasem-e namzadi dar qaria-ye Deh-e Now-e Tal?i-e Torbat-e ?aydariya,” Talaš 11, 1347 Š./1968, p. 41. ?A. Šawqi, “Rosum wa ?adat-e mardom-e Gorgan (marasem-e ?arusi),” Jahan-e Now 1, 1325 Š./1946, p. 298. E. Šokurzada, ?Aqayed wa rosum-e ?amma-ye mardom-e ?orasan, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 142-76. C. J. Wills, Persia As It Is, London, 1886, pp. 57ff. S. G. Wilson, Persian Life and Customs, New York, 1895, pp. 237-39 (see pp. 172-73 for a description of the opulent celebrations of the wedding of ?Ezzat-al-sal?ana, oldest son of the Wali-?ahd to Maleka-ye Jahan, daughter of Nayeb-al-sal?ana, Minister of War and son of Na?er al-din Shah; an ?Ali-Allahi wedding is described on pp. 237-39).

The traditional knife dance done in weddings before the cutting of the cake.

Persian Knife Dance

Raghseh Chagoo In Order to Get the Knife

Like other traditions in Persian weddings, such as Sofreh Aghd, the bride saying ‘No’ three times and the relatives showering the couple with money, this tradition has to do with showing off, money and ‘eshveh’.

The purpose of the Persian Knife dance (Raghseh Chagoo) is for the couple to retrieve a knife from the dancers so they can cut the wedding cake. The dance starts with one person dancing a typical Persian dance, with the knife and basically asking the couple for money. Once the dancer gets the money, the knife is passed on to the next dancer. The bride and groom continue to offer money to try and get the cake knife. A little back and forth, and a few dance moves later, the couple finally are given the knife and are able to cut the cake.

It would be advisable to get dancers who are skilled with the knife (ouch!) and know how to keep the crowds interested. Suffice it to say that you need to be careful while performing this little number but in all it is meant in good fun and should be enjoyed!

Persian Wedding – Index

Introduction to a Persian Wedding

The Basics of a Persian Wedding

Persian Weddings are usually beautiful and elaborate functions that consists of many different traditions and parts. Before the Wedding ceremonies and parties begin, the couple needs to get engaged. In modern times, couples decide to get married and usually the groom-to-be will ask the father of the bride-to-be for her hand in marriage. This is a tradition that many culture keep in showing respect for the elderly.

The typical Iranian Wedding these days consists of two parts:

1. The Aghd. The Aghd is the legal ceremony that takes place where the officiant declares the couple husband and wife and a legal contract is signed.

2. The Aroosi. The second part of a Persian wedding is the Aroosi, which is the wedding party that follows the Aghd, either immediately or some time later. Here families and friends gather to celebrate the couple’s union.

History of PErsian WEddings

The history of Persian weddings goes back to times of Zoroaster and traditions that have been celebrated for centuries. The union of man and woman is considered sacred and exemplifies the ultimate joy and the greatest form of partnership. Man and woman are told to respect, love, and protect each other as described in this exerpt from an ancient Zoroastrian text:

“I say (these) words to you, marrying brides and bridegrooms! Impress them upon your mind: May you two enjoy the life of good mind by following the laws of religion. Let each one of you clothe the other with righteousness. Then assuredly there will be a happy life for you”.

[Yasna 53.5, ancient Zoroastrian textbook”]

Persian weddings have also been duely influenced by the legal protection that is provided in Islam to the woman in the form of a “Mehr” which is the financial protection provided. Iranian weddings are celebrated with glory, distinction, and a large assembly of family and friends. Iranians consider this to be one of the most important of all occasions. In the past marriages were mostly arranged by the parents and older members of the family. This tradition is very dated and has not been practiced for over 2 generations, although family consent, as in any culture, is still valued. In ancient times, musicians announced the wedding to the town by playing the drums. The group that gathered for the marriage was called the assembly for the queenly bride. Traditionally, both the bride and the bridegroom dressed in white with garlands of flower on their necks. The color white is a symbol of purity, innocence and faithfulness. There are variations and differences in smaller villages and older towns, where some tribes hold on to older traditions and rituals, which may vary from the modern wedding.

Sofreh Aghd
SOFREh aghd – The Wedding Spread

The Persian Aghd, which is the legal ceremony of the Iranian wedding, is a beautiful and joyful event celebrated with lots of music, laughter, food and love. For Moslem weddings, the Aghd is a legal contract between the man and the woman and extends many rights to the woman that are not common in other legal marriage contracts. Because of the diverse background of the people of Iran, not all Persian weddings are Moslem, and therefore depend on the chosen faith of the couple. Regardless of the faith, the Sofreh Aghd is usually present during a Persian wedding ceremony. These days, with lots of bicultural weddings, this cultural ritual is a beautiful and elegant way to celebrate a union. During this ceremony, a spread or sofreh is prepared for the bride and groom.

Like other ancient Persian traditions such as the Haft Sin sofreh during Noruz, this event has roots in the Zoroastrian faith and does not relate to the Moslem religion. The Zoroastrian faith is based on the four elements of nature: earth, fire, water, and wind, and still has a strong influence on Persian celebrations. Traditionally the sofreh preparation is taken very seriously because what it contains is believed and hoped to be in the couple’s life and marriage. The word sofreh means “spread” like a table or food spread and appears in many Persian celebrations. The spread is typically set on the floor facing the east so that the couple facing the sofreh will face the light. It is best to use a traditional cloth for the sofreh, although in modern days sofrehs tend to be made of silk or white material often times decorated with lace. This of course depends on your taste and can vary from very elaborate to as modern and sleek as desired. It is recommended to have adequate padding or carpet under the sofreh so that the spread is supported properly. Sofrehs are designed on the floor in the room where the couple chooses to get married. These days, weddings are held any where from the family home to hotels, beaches, museums, national parks or the picturesque outdoors.

The Music & The Entrance

Perhaps one of the most important things during the ceremony is the music you choose to play. There are many Persian songs that are beautiful and there are also many classical songs that will suit the occasion, especially if the marriage is a mixed one. Traditional music played when the couple walks to the sofreh is called Mobarak Bad (“Bada Bada Mobarak”). This song is a familiar, happy, upbeat tune that is recognized by most Iranians. It congratulates the couple on this joyful event and is played as the couple walks into the room and takes their seats. Some brides choose to walk out with their fathers following the more Western tradition. In this way you can have a full processional with the wedding party and have your father bring you to the groom at the head of the sofreh.

In addition to this, it is also common to burn some “Esfand” while the couple is making an entrance. Esfand is made from wild rue and is burned in many Zoroastrian ceremonies, rituals and purification rites in Iranian homes. When burned, the Esfand bits give off a pleasant odor and smoke similar to incense. The person carrying the Esfand may walk around the couple and carry the smoke near them to make sure all evil is kept away. To burn Esfand, you can place it on hot coals in a metal container called Manghal or brazier. This will burn and set off the desired effect.

The Wedding Guests

It used to be that a very small select group of people would be allowed to witness the Aghd ceremony, since it was believed that younger, unmarried women should hear the wedding readings for the first time at their own wedding. In today’s weddings, your guests will find this cultural ceremony very interesting, especially those who may not have seen it before or may not know what the signifiance of the Sofreh Aghd is. Typically seats are not provided for the ceremony as in Western weddings. In most ceremony, guests are free to walk around and mingle quietly in the party while the ceremony is taking place. You may want to provide seating and a description of the Persian events so that your guests understand the meaning behind the traditions.

The Couple & the Officiant

After the couple or the wedding party walks in, the couple is seated on a bench or wide chair at the head of the sofreh. They should face the sofreh and be able to see themselves in the mirror. At this point, the officiant arrives and typically sits on the right side of the sofreh, facing the couple. He proceeds to read the agreed upon vows and begins the ceremony. In this section, in a typical Moslem Iranian wedding, the officiant may be a Mullah or Moslem male priest, authorized to perform the legal part of the ceremony. If you are having a bi-cultural wedding, you may choose to have who you wish to perform this section. Some couples choose poetry readings, wedding vow exchanges or a simplified Persian reading in multiple languages to suit the occasion.

The Ceremony & the Language

Both bride and groom provide a witness, typically an older married male such as the fathers, older brother or similar. In traditional Persian weddings, the ceremony consists of preliminary blessings and questions to the witnesses, guardians and the couple. After the preliminary blessings and a few words about the importance of the institution of marriage, the officiant typically confirms with both parents that he can proceed with no objections. Then he asks the mutual consent of the couple. First the groom is asked if he wishes to enter into the marriage contract. Then the bride is asked the same question. Here, the bride traditionally plays shy and makes the groom wait for her hand in marriage by not answering the question right away. The guests scream in the background, “she is not here” or “the bride has gone to pick some flowers” or “the bride is thinking”. She has to wait and not answer the question until it is asked a third time. She then says yes on the third try and they are pronounced husband and wife.

During the service and the readings, married female relatives of the couple hold over the couple’s head a white silky Ghand cloth. Two pieces of crystallized sugar called Kalleh Ghand shaped like cones are rubbed together, showering the couple with white powder. This symbolic act is meant to sweeten the couple’s life. In addition, a small part of the the Ghand cloth, maybe on the left side of the couple is sewn together with needle and thread to symbolize sewing the mother-in-law’s lips together. In today’s weddings, you may choose to skip this part. Others prefer to say that is symblizes sewing the lips of “nay-sayers”, which may be a better explanation for the tradition. You may also have your bridesmaids hold the ends of the cloth but be sure to have married friends or relatives rubbing the sugar on the Ghand cloth. Also, you may modify the traditional readings from the Koran to shorten them, or replace them with beautiful poems to your liking.

Husband & Wife

Once the couple is pronounced husband and wife, the officiant asks for God’s blessing to be with the couple in their lives together. The bride and groom exchange rings and kiss. At this point, the honey is also presented to the happy couple. Here, the groom dips his finger into the honey and gives some to the bride. She does the same in turn and they are ensured a sweet and happy life together. The legal documents are signed by the couple and the witnesses and the wedding party hands out sweets, and pastries from the sofreh to the guests. Items from the sofreh are always thought to be blessed and bring good luck and great fortune. Bride and groom give each other more sweets such as sweet almonds and nuts. They may then proceed to light the candles on either side of the mirror, one for the bride and one for the groom to symbolize light in their new life.

The Items on the Sofreh

Perhaps the best part of the Persian wedding is the sofreh and its significance. The spread contains many items, all to symbolize different qualities that the couple would hope to bring into their new life together. The illustation above is just a simple sample sofreh that you can use to determine where to place your items. You can make the design as elaborate or as clean as you desire. There are many other items you can place on the sofreh and they include:
Item Persian Name Description & Symbolism Position

One Large Mirror Ayne-Ye Bakht To bring light & brightness into the future Head of the Sofreh

Two Candelabras Sha’am Symbolized fire & energy. On either side of the mirror

Spice Tray Sini-Ye Aatel-O-Baatel Tray of seven herbs and spices to guard against
the evil eye. These include: Poppy Seeds In the middle of the spread, usually decorated
“Khash-Khaash”, Wild Rice “Berenj”, Angelica in an elaborate or designed manner.
“Sabzi Khoshk”, Salt “Namak” (to blind the
evil eye), Nigella Seeds “Raziyaneh”, Black
Tea “Chaay”, Frankincense “Kondor”

Flatbread Naan-e Sangak
(Noon-e Sangak) Prosperity for the feasts and couple’s life. It
can be decorated and sometimes has the word “Mobarak On the Sofreh. It can be accompanied by Naan-o Panir,
Baad” to congratulate the couple. which is Iranian feta cheese and fresh herbs to be eaten at the feast.

Decorated Eggs,
Walnuts, Almonds,
and hazelnuts

Tokhm-e Morgh (egg) Ajil (assorted nuts)
Symbolizes fertility On the Sofreh. Can be as elaborate as desired.
Pomegranates and Apples Anar-o-Sib For a joyous future, pomegranates are fruits of the heaven and apples symbolize the divine creation of mankind On the Sofreh.
Rose Water Gol-Ab Usually extracted from specific Persian roses called Gol-e Mohammadi to perfume the air. On the Sofreh
Crystallized sugar Kaas-e Nabaat or Shaakh-e Nabaat To sweeten life for the newly wed. On the Sofreh
Gold Coins Sekeh Wealth and Prosperity On the Sofreh
Honey Asal Consumed right after the ceremony to ensure sweetness in life On the Sofreh
Koran or other Holy Scriptures depending on the faith Ghoraan-e Majid Symbolizes God’s blessing for the couple. Traditionally “Avesta” the ancient Zoroastrian holy book was present during the ceremony and readings were made from it. Opened in the middle and placed on the spread.
Sweets & Pastries Shirini To be shared with the guests after the ceremony. Usually includes: Sugar coated almond strips “Noghl”, Baklava (a sweet flaky Persian pastry “Baaghlavaa”), Mulberry-almond paste “Toot”, Rice-flour cookies “Noon-Berenji”, Chickpea-flour cookies “Noon-Nokhodchi”, Almond-flour cookies “Noon-Baadoomi”, and Honey roasted almonds “Sohan Asali”. On the Sofreh
Termeh Termeh Traditional Perisan silk or gold embroidered cloth, handed down from generations to symbolize family and tradition In the middle of the Sofreh
2 Large Sugar Cones Kalleh Ghand To shower the couple with sugar symbolizing sweetness and happiness Performed during the ceremony over the couple’s head.
The Spread Sofreh The cloth used under the spread should be a fine cloth made of silk or other fine material to your liking
Wild Rue Esfand or Esphand A brazier “Manghal” holding burning coals sprinkled with “Esphand” a popular incense. Wild rue is used in many Zoroastrian ceremonies, rituals and purification rites. It keeps the evil eye away and brings on health. When the couple enters.
Ghand Cloth A scarf or shawl made out of silk or any other fine fabric to be held over the bride and groom’s head throughout the ceremony by various happily married female relatives.

Optional Items:

A needle and seven strands of colored thread to figuratively sew up the mother-in-law’s lips from speaking unpleasant words or meddling in the marriage. For those who wish to keep this portion and make it less offensive, the tradition could means sewing the lips of “nay-sayers”. The Ghand cloth that is held above the couple’s head throughout the ceremony is sewed in one corner by the needle and threads.
A prayer carpet/kit “Jaa-Namaaz” spread open in the center of Sofreh-ye Aghd to remind the couple of their faith. This prayer kit includes a small rug “Sajjaadeh” to be spread on the floor at the time of prayer, a small cube of molded clay with prayers written on it “Mohr” and a strand of prayer beads “Tasbih”.

Aroosi – The Persian Reception

The aroosi is the big celebration following the Aghd ceremony, which is the official and contractual marriage ceremony. The aroosi, similar to a reception, can be celebrated right after the aghd or up to a year after it. In modern times, couples opt to have minimal to lavish receptions with buffets, dinners and lots of dancing. This is very similar to a western style wedding party. Entertainment, and DJ’s can provide a festive mood and atmosphere for the big celebration. Iranians are great lovers of dance so be sure to include lots of Persian music, even if your event is mixed or bicultural. The location is also very important and can be a home, a hotel reception hall, a museum or the great outdoors. Traditionally, the wedding party is paid for by the groom’s family but this no longer applies to modern couples. A wedding cake is very traditional and sweetens the union at the end of the night. Pick a cake that is personal and significant to your unique taste. Iranians tend to party into the wee hours of the night, so be sure you have a good DJ, lots of food and drink and your dancing shoes on.

The wedding Dinner & reception

Traditional dinner in Persian weddings is served buffet style and is not as formal as its Western counterpart. A very traditional and delicious dish to serve is Javaher Polo, which is considered to be the King of Persian dishes. Javaher means jewelry and Polo is rice. The dish is made of orange peel, almonds, sugar, barberries, and pistachios. Not only is this dish tasty, but it is also aesthetically beautiful with different colors representing jewels such as diamonds, rubies and emeralds for the marriage. For more recipes and dinner ideas be sure to consult the cuisine section of our guide.

the First Dance

More and more weddings have a first dance where the couple officially opens the dance floor. We highly recommend dance classes that will prepare you for this event so that you can dazzle your friends and family on this special occasion. Our guide features exclusive information on where you can get dance lessons. Be sure to make the dance personal and memorable based on your own uniqueness and favorite songs. We also features a cultural section on Persian dance in case you are interested in performing a traditional Persian dance.

wedding Entertainment

Perhaps one of the most important elements of Persian life and culture, which can be celebrated during the wedding, is Persian music. Not only should you make sure that you play the right tunes during the Aghd, but you can also infuse the party with Iranian elements if you use great songs from Iran’s great dance repertoire. Iranians love to dance and you better be sure that your band or DJ knows this. These days there are many local DJ’s who have great Iranian dance tunes. Some of the classic tunes we recommend looking into include:

1. Baba Karam
2. Mobarak Baad (this is to be played right before the ceremony)
3. Aroosi Bandari
4. Aroos O Damad
5. Khastergari
6. Aroose Naaz
7. Shaadoomad
8. Ghaasem Abaadi

Be sure to bring a few cousins who know the songs or some people who love to dance and have fun. In addition, you may consider hiring a live band. There are many that will perform or play a variety of Persian and Pop songs. Use our guide to find your ideal entertainment. Consider tunes that are great to dance to, no matter the origin or time. We prefer DJ’s to bands because that way you can also include other songs from other culture if your wedding is bicultural or if you want to feature dance tunes from all over the world.

wedding Photography & Video

It’s true when they say that the day goes by very fast and the next thing you know you are looking at the pictures or the video of your wedding. If this is going to be your memory of it, then do your research in finding the perfect photographer. Look for someone who can take charge and lead groups of people. Weddings are incredibly hectic and the last thing you want is a soft-spoken photographer. Also, make sure that you look at plenty of his/her sample work and have the same artistic vision and dream of your big day. The same applies for your Video crew. We have provided a comprehensive list of resources for your to choose from. Be sure to explain any important cultural aspects of the wedding such as the Aghd so that their crew is ready and can take shots from the right angles. Explain your day and your ceremony in plenty of detail before hand and be sure they know to capture the details of your day.

The wedding Cake

The cake is a great addition to a wedding, sweetening the life of the couple even more than honey and shirini. For this reason, you may want to pick a cake that suits your taste and has some meaning to your partner. These days, bakers create the most beautiful and modern cakes that defy convention. For a full list of bakers, including Iranian cake makers, go to our resource guide.

Pa Takhty – the day after the wedding

This phrase has a literal translation of “by the bed”. It is the ceremony that takes place the day after the wedding when friends and relatives of the couple are invited to pay a visit to the newly weds to offer blessings and more gifts. At the Pa Takhty, the couple is officially considered married.

some Wedding Favor ideas

Traditional wedding favors in Iran are sweets such as Jordan Almonds or Noghl & Ajil from the sofreh wrapped in pink or white tulle. Occasionally they throw small gold coins in the wraps to represent happy fortunes. These favors are very old fashioned and are recommended only if you are trying to evoke that old-Iran feeling. There are so many beautiful modern, customized favors to choose from these days, that it becomes quite a challenge. We like to mix the old with the new, and suggest having the Jordan Almonds or better yet, real Persian pistachios in a modern package. You can use color paper bags decorated with customized ribbons, elegant tin cans, or even an updated tulle wrap.
If you are still not convinced that the old way is the good way, you can see if any of these favor ideas sound fabulous for you

1. Deck of Cards with personal pictures
2. Elegant Bookmarks are a cost-effective alternative and useful. Use a Rumi poem and a nice picture of the two of you to personalize it.
3. Gourmet Tea Packs – Buy some good old Iranian Tea and place it in a special favor bag complete with personal message and ribbon
4. Other ideas: Fortune Cookies, Coffee packs, Spa sets, Tree Seedlings
The Persian Wedding
Bijan Moridani
Islamic History Sourcebook:
Charles James Wills:
A Persian Wedding, 1885

LOVE at first sight is unusual in a country where the women are habitually veiled, and a glimpse even of a lady’s face is seldom to be got, save by stratagem or by what is considered immodest—the raising of the corner of her veil by the lady herself. Shrouded as she is from head to foot in an immense sheet of blue, two yards square, a yet further precaution must be taken. Over all this is placed a ruh-band or veil—no transparent or flimsy device, as in our own lace “fall,” or the thin and gauzy yashmak of the Turkish belle, serviceable alike to triumphant and to fading beauty. The ruh-band is a piece of white calico or cambric, a yard long, which hangs down like a long mask in front of the Persian woman’s face, when clad in her hideous and purposely unbecoming outdoor costume: which costume, sad to say, is also an impenetrable disguise. In it all women are alike. An aperture four inches long, running transversely across the eyes, enables the Persian lady to see her way, and little more; for even this aperture is covered by elaborate and curious embroidery, between the threads of which she can only peep. But the Persian belle will yet find a way of rewarding an admirer with a glance, and thus the marriages so carefully brought about by parents and relatives are not infrequently the result of predilections slyly manifested. The outdoor dress, being a disguise, cuts both ways; and the intrigante amuses herself with impunity.

Certain marriages take place because in the eyes of the Orientals they are natural ones, such as the union of first cousins. The children have been like brother and sister from the cradle, and they are married as a matter of course; it is their fate, and they submit to it. But outside these marriages of custom, and far more numerous than the marriages of predilection to which we have referred are the marriages usually arranged by “brokers.” These brokers are old women, who always keep themselves in a position to quote the state of the marriage-market, which fluctuates. In hard times, even girls of good appearance are comparatively a drug. In time of plenty, they ” rule firm.” The marriage-broker is ever a welcome guest where there are daughters to marry, and also in houses where the sons wish to find a suitable bride. The young people are not consulted by the broker. She deals with the parents, and generally with the mothers. Crafty as a horse-dealer, she runs glibly over the various advantages, mental, physical, and pecuniary, of her clientele of both sexes. So-and-so is a steady, quiet man. Such-an-one has brilliant prospects—has (important consideration!) no other wife. As for Yusuf, how good-looking he is! And Hassan, no man was ever so good-tempered. Of the other sex she sings the praises no less. The skill of Bebe as a housekeeper, the wealth of the ugly daughter of the banker, the dangerous charms of the portionless Zuleika, she can never say too much about. Her main business is to bargain for the sum to be paid to the father for his daughters hand; a sum which is usually expended by that father in pots and pans (all of copper) and other utensils, which he presents to his child as her separate property. The details being settled after much haggling, the young people are engaged, and the marriage-broker gets her commission from both the parents of the bride-groom and those of the bride-elect. Among the poor and laboring classes the bargain is arranged on other grounds. The peasant takes a wife for her thews and sinews, or her skill at weaving carpets or making cheese; while the bridegroom is or is not eligible according as he may be capable of hard work, or may hold some small office, or have a bit of land or a shop. Here the marriage-broker is generally an amateur, who conducts the negotiations purely from that love of match-making which is such a blessing to the world.

The akd, or marriage contract, is simply a legal form; but it is marriage and not betrothal. A few friends are invited; the bride—perhaps a child of ten—is seated in a room with her parents and relations; over the door hangs the usual curtain. Or, if the ceremony takes place in one room or in the open air, the women are all veiled. At the other side of the curtain, in an outer room or in the open air, are the male guests; and here squats the mullah or priest of the quarter, who now drones out in a monotonous voice the marriage contract, which has been previously drawn up by him. “It is agreed between Hassan the draper, who is vakeel [agent] for Houssein the son of the baker, that he, Houssein, hereby acknowledges the receipt of the portion of Nissa the daughter of Ahkmet the grocer.” Here follows a list of the property of the bride in lands, money, houses, cattle, dresses, furniture, carpets, pots, pans, and so on. Always a copy of the Qur’an and a certain weight of sewing-silk are mentioned. This detailed account of her property, constituting the woman’s separate estate, her husband merely holds in trust during their life together. At death or divorce it goes back again to herself or her heirs. And it is this mehr, or separate estate, that renders secure the otherwise precarious position of the Eastern wife in a polygamous country; for the various things enumerated, though acknowledged by the husband as received, may only exist on paper. Still, he has acknowledged them; and if he wish to put away his wife, or if they separate by consent, he is bound to refund the mehr of which he has legally acknowledged the receipt, or to obtain her legal discharge for the same. “And,” continues the mullah, “he acknowledges the receipt of the aforesaid mehr.” Then follows a hum of delight at the extent of the lady’s property. “You, Hassan, how do you say as vakeel for Houssein—is this so?” — “Yes, yes, I agree,” mumbles Hassan. “And you, Ahkmet, do you give your daughter, Lady Nissa, to be the wife of Lord Houssein?” ” Yes, yes, I agree,” replies Akhmet the grocer. “And you, Lady Nissa, are you there?” “Yes, yes, she is here, mullah,” replies a chorus of women from behind the curtain. “And you agree, Lady Nissa?” Here there is a giggle from the child-bride. “Yes, yes, she agrees,” comes in a triumphant chorus from the women. ” Then,” says the mullah solemnly, “in the name of God the compassionate, the merciful, and of Mohammed the prophet of God, I declare you, Lord Houssein, and you, Lady Nissa, to be man and wife.” Here the mullah puts his stamp of seal to the document: the various parties seal it too, it is carefully witnessed, and formally completed. The mullah receives his fee of a few shillings; and then, and not till then, he hands over the document—her settlement and “marriage-lines” in one—to the agent of the bride or to her father.

The legal ceremony is over; the young people are married fast, fast as the Mohammedan law can bind. And, theoretically, as yet they have never seen each other’s face. But really Houssein has had many a glimpse of the fair Nissa: her mother has often allowed him to see her child from behind a curtain or a cupboard door. All this is understood. And the young people are now legally married. The wedding, as distinct from the espousals, may take place the same evening, in a week, a month, or not for years, according to the age, rank, or circumstances of the bride and bridegroom. Men and women feast separately; and after many water-pipes have been smoked, many pounds of sweetmeats consumed, and a plentiful banquet has been disposed of, the guests separate. All promise to be present at the actual wedding. No music, no rejoicings—nothing but what we have described is seen at the ceremony we have detailed.

From an early hour in the morning of an arusee or wedding—I speak of a wedding in the middle ranks of life—there has been considerable bustle in the house of the bride’s father. The house has been literally swept and garnished. Carpets have been borrowed, and rooms that at other times are unused and empty are now furnished and decorated with flowers. The poor are standing in a crowd at the outer door, sure of being plentifully regaled. The outer court has been got ready for the men. Vases of flowers are placed in rows at all the open windows, and in every recess thirty or forty pounds of tobacco have been prepared by pounding and moistening for smoking; the courtyard is freshly watered. If it be a calm day—and spring and summer days in Persia are always free from wind—rose-leaves are sprinkled on the surface of the water of the raised tank in the center of the courtyard, so as to form the word “Bismillah” [in the name of God], the pious welcome of the Mussulman. Similar preparations, but on a larger scale, have been made in the anderun, that hand somer and larger courtyard which contains the women’s quarters. In this courtyard the Negresses may be seen busily engaged in the kitchen preparing the breakfast for perhaps a hundred guests; and the visitors will stop all day, only leaving to escort the bride to the home of her new husband, whither she will go after dark. Large samovars, or Russian urns, which are in use in every Persian house, are hissing like small steam-engines, ready to furnish tea for the guests on their arrival: not our idea of tea, but a pale infusion sweetened to the consistency of syrup, from the center of each cup of which will project a little island of superfluous sugar. The sherbet-dar, too, is preparing in his own especial den immense quantities of ices and sherbets; and these ices will be served from china bowls, and each ice will be the size and shape of a fair-sized sugar-loaf. As for the sherbets (delicately scented and sweetened fruit-syrups dissolved in water, and with lumps of ice floating in the clear and various colored fluids), they will be supplied in gallons. Orange sherbet, lemon, pomegranate, rosewater, cherry, quince, and an endless further variety of these refreshing drinks will be offered to the thirsty guests. And now come the musicians in two bands, the Mussulmans’, and the Jews’; the latter a ragged and motley crew, but more skillful than their better-clad rivals. They carry with them their strange Old-World instruments, and soon establish themselves in a corner of either courtyard. They, too, partake of tea, and then they prepare to strike up. Noticeable among the Mussulman musicians is the dohol player and his instrument. It is a species of big drum, only used at weddings; and, once heard, the awful resonant roar it makes can never be forgotten.

All is ready; the master of the house, dressed in his best, gives a last anxious glance at the preparations, and has an excited discussion with his wife or wives. He waves his hand to the musicians, and hurries to a seat near the door, to be ready to welcome his guests; the music strikes up a merry tune (it is really an air—barbaric, but inspiriting); the tremendous din of the dohol is heard at intervals. Then in a loud scream rises the voice of the principal solo singer, who commences one of the sad love-songs of Persia in a high falsetto voice. His face reddens with his exertions, which last through a dozen verses. His eyes nearly start from his head, the muscles of his neck stand out like ropes; but he keeps correct time on the big tambourine, which he plays with consummate skill. The rest of the musicians watch his every movement, and all join in the chorus of “Ah! Leila, Leila, you have made roast meat of my heart!” The music is the signal to the invited guests; they now commence to arrive in crowds. The music and singing proceed, and go on unceasingly till the bride leaves for her husband’s home some ten hours after the artists begin. As the guests pour in, the host receives them with transports of pleasure—all the extravagant compliments of Eastern politeness pass between them. “May your wedding be fortunate!” “You are, indeed, welcome; this is a never-to-be-forgotten honor to me, your slave!” In they pour, the men in their best; the women, closely veiled, pass on unnoticed by the men into the anderun, where they unveil and appear to their delighted hostesses in their finest clothes and all their jewelry; and, we are sorry to add, in most cases with their faces carefully painted. As the dresses worn among Persian ladies for indoor use only reach to the knee and are very much bouffé, their wearers look like opera dancers. The ladies’ feet and legs are bare, as a rule; a gauze shirt of gay color and a tiny zouave jacket daintily embroidered with gold lace on velvet or on satin are worn, while the head is decorated with a large kerchief of silk or gauze, elaborately embroidered with gold thread. From beneath this kerchief the hair falls in innumerable plaits behind, sometimes reaching almost to the ground. The colors of their clothes are of the brightest—pinks, greens, yellows, starlets, crimsons, blues. The quantity of solid jewelry worn in honor of the bride is prodigious.

Every one takes tea, every one crunches the sweets of various kinds which are piled on china dishes in huge trays in the center of the rooms. Several hundredweight of confectionery—not food, but “sweets”—-are thus consumed. Conversation goes on, pipes are smoked by both men and women. Messages pass between the two courtyards. But the men remain in their quarters, and the women in theirs. The musicians and buffoons are allowed, however, in the women’s court on these occasions: they are supposed to be mere professional persons, and on this account are tolerated. At noon a heavy breakfast is served. If there be two hundred guests, there is meat for them and for, say, four hundred servants and.hangers-on, while what remains, a still larger portion, is given to the poor.

Lutis or buffoons now bring their performing monkeys or bears—often a miserable and half-starved lion cowed by much beating. They dance, they sing songs, indecent enough in themselves, but tolerated in the East on such occasions. More tea, more ices, more sherbet, more sweets. Pipes without number pass from hand to hand, but no strong drink; that is never seen or tasted, save by the musicians and buffoons, who as the day wanes are freely supplied. The bride meanwhile goes to the bath, whither she is accompanied by many of the ladies, the friends and near relatives of the family.

Dinner is served on the same lavish scale as the breakfast. Fowls by the hundred, boiled to rags, under piles of various-colored rice; lambs roasted whole, or boiled in fragments; mutton in savory stews; game and venison hot on the spit; kababs and pilaws of endless variety; soups, sweets, fruit in profusion: all this is served with the lavishness of true Oriental hospitality.

And now there is a hum of suspense. It is night; and the whole place is lighted up by lamps, candles in shades, and lanterns. A noise of a distant crowd is heard; alms in money are freely distributed among the crowd of beggars and poor at the door; horses are brought for the bride and her friends. The procession of the bride groom is approaching: and it must be understood that another grand party has been going on at his father’s house. The musicians play and sing their loudest: the roofs (the flat roofs of the East) are thronged by all the women and children of the quarter. The bridegroom and his friends arrive, and are welcomed by the women with a peculiar echoing cry of “Kel lel lel,” produced by tapping the cheeks. Then the bride appears, carefully veiled in a huge sheet of pink and spangled muslin. She goes to the door and mounts a gayly-caparisoned horse. All the male guests join the procession. Lighted cressets full of blazing embers are carried on high poles to lead and light the way. The lanterns of all the guests are lighted and borne in this procession, which joyfully wends its way through a cheering crowd. At the moment the bride leaves her father’s house a shout of “Kel lel lel” announces the fact. Fireworks blaze, the music is deafening, above all is heard the monotonous banging of the wedding drum. And so, the buffoons and musicians leading the way, the procession slowly moves on. As it approaches the house of the bridegroom several sheep are sacrificed in honor of the bride; they are slain at her feet as she steps over her husband’s threshold for the first time, accompanied by a female friend or two. Then, invoking blessings on the pair, all wend their way home, and the festival is over.


From: Eva March Tappan, ed., The World’s Story: A History of the World in Story, Song and Art, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914), Vol. II: India, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Palestine, pp. 411-420.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg

Note: Many Western sources about Islamic countries exhibit what has come to be known as orientalism. The terms used (“Mohammedan” for instance rather than “Muslim”), and the attitudes exhibited by the writers need to be questioned by modern readers.
Iranian Marriage Ceremony, Its History & Symbolism
By: Massoume Price, December 2001

“I say (these) words to you, marrying brides and bridegrooms! Impress then upon your mind: May you two enjoy the life of good mind by following the laws of religion. Let each one of you clothe the other with righteousness. Then assuredly there will be a happy life for you”.
[Yasna 53.5, ancient Zoroastrian textbook”]

the Iranian wedding ceremony despite its local and regional variations, like many other rituals in the country goes back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Though the concepts and theory of the marriage have changed drastically by Quran and Islamic traditions, the actual ceremonies have remained more or less the same.

For Iranians marriage is an event, which must be celebrated not quietly but with glory and distinction. It is the most conspicuous of all the occasions and is celebrated in the presence of a fairly large assembly. In the past the parents and older members of the family arranged almost all marriages. This is still the case in rural areas and with traditional families. Modern couples however, choose their own mate but their parents’ consent is still very important and is considered by both sides. Even with modern Iranians, after the couple have decided themselves, it is normally the grooms’ parents or other relatives who take the initiative and formally ask for the bride and her family’s consent. Once this is done then the marriage will be announced. In the ancient times, the musicians playing at marriage gatherings used drums to announce the marriage to the people of the town or village. The group that gathered for the marriage was called the assembly for the queenly bride. Traditionally, both the bride and the bridegroom dressed in white with garlands of flower on their necks. The color white is a symbol of purity, innocence and faithfulness. Today most modern Iranians follow the European dress code and style.

Once the groom and his family express their desire for the union, they go to the brides’ home with flowers, sweets and sometimes-gold coins or jewelry and ask for her hand. If accepted more presents will follow. The couple becomes engaged in a reasonably lavish party. Rings are exchanged; the engagement rings are simple, mainly gold with no stones. While the wedding ring presented to the bride will be lavish expensive with precious stones. The engagement ring is sent to the bride’s house with female relatives of the groom. A few days before the actual ceremony again more presents are taken to the bride’s house. Men dressed up in festive costumes would carry the presents in elaborately decorated large flat containers on their heads. The container is called tabagh and the whole thing with the presents is called khoncheh. Many of these customs are still followed by the more traditional families and in the provinces. The modern Iranians normally by pass some stages like sending the ring through relatives and outside Iran tabagh and khoncheh are hardly used. However ceremonial objects are still present.

Mirror and candelabras are amongst the most important ceremonial objects that are taken to the brides’ home and they are reminiscence of the Zoroastrian religious believes. Grooms’ family is expected to pay for all expenses and if they can not, they will be looked down at. The higher the status and social standing of the bride, the more lavish will be the banquets and the presents, especially the jewelry. An elaborate wedding in Iran presently costs around a hundred thousand dollars. There are efforts by the government to encourage people to simplify the weddings and lower the cost. Mass communal weddings sponsored and paid by the government have become increasingly popular. In February 2001, fourteen thousand couples married all across Iran in this manner.

All financial details are sorted out before marriage and the couple’s parents, mainly fathers, will carry out negotiations. With prosperous families the issue is settled rather quickly. However families with not enough means may drag the negotiations for a while bargaining about how much should be paid and what should be included in the marriage contract. Bride in Persian is called arous, which means white. The word was used in Sassanian period and exists in Avestan literature as well. The oldest historical record describing marriage ceremonies is by the Greek historians following Alexander’s invasion of Persia. Alexander and his men married a number of Iranian women, mainly from the royalty and aristocracy. In one account it is mentioned that the marriage ceremonies were in Persian fashion; chairs were set for the bridegrooms in order of precedence. Wine was served and they all drank to health. Then the brides entered and sat by their grooms, including Alexander. The men took their brides hands and kissed them. The king was the first to perform the ceremony. After the ceremony both the bride and groom ate from a loaf of bread, halved by sword and drank more wine. Then they took their wives into their private quarters and retired. It is also mentioned that dowries were paid for the brides. Alexander provided the money from his treasury.

In 19th century Iran pre marriage arrangements were very extensive. The couples were not allowed to see each other at all before the wedding night. Therefore a number of unofficial arrangements were made for the groom to see the future bride accidentally or watching from behind doors or curtains. Pre-nuptial agreements could take a long time. During negotiations the family of groom was served with tea, sekanjebin (sweet/soar drink made from vinegar and sugar) and they smoked water pipes. Once an agreement was reached then the guests would be served with sweets but not beforehand. This was called ‘sheerne khoran’ (eating sweets) and is still practiced and varies according to the locality. In a few days the bride would receive an engagement ring and a shawl. These were placed in a relatively expensive carrying bag (boghcheh) with nabat (concentrated sugar extract), sugar cones and sweets and other presents. Then the female relatives on both sides would visit the bride, and one of groom’s relatives other than his mother placed the ring in bride’s hand and the shawl on her back. There would be dancing, merrymaking and with the rich female musicians. Segregation of sexes due to religious codes of behavior was observed.

“Sofreh Aghd”
Guests were invited by sending written invitations to the men or simply by calling on them and letting them know. For the women a female servant or relative would personally visit the households and present the ladies with noghl (small sugary sweets), nabat, and cardamom seeds in a silk or satin handkerchief with lace placed on a small glass plate. She would offer them the sweets, would tell them the time and place. The ladies would eat a couple of sweets and would express their joy. If a servant had come they would receive tips and sweets.

Modern Iranians place sweets and candies like noghl and nabat in small satin kerchiefs or lace for the guests to take home. The tradition of giving gifts to guests is very old and existed before and after Islam. One such account is mentioned at the marriage of the daughter of the famous Barmakid Minister Jafar at the court of Abasid Caliphs. In this account special little wax balls were filled with coins or names of slaves or even title to properties. The couple was showered with these and people who got the balls would claim their presents later on.

Three days before the actual wedding the bride would be taken to female beauticians or was visited by them at home for the ritual of removing body hair. A significant rite of passage this marked the passage from girlhood to womanhood. Unmarried women would not remove their body hair or pluck their eyebrows, the most visible sign that a woman was married.

This was done three days before to make sure any allergic reaction and redness of face and body parts would be healed by wedding day. Facial hair, all hair from under arms, legs even stomach and back hair were removed by using special threads that once moved in certain fashion would remove the hair right from the root. This is called band andazi and is still practiced by traditional families and in the rural areas. In recent times with the more restrict and traditional parents moving to the western countries shaving legs and plucking eyebrows has become a source of conflict with their teenage girls. For the teenagers these are part of beautifying process common in modern societies, while for their parents this is an obvious indication of becoming a woman without being married.

Mirrors and candelabra with Espand (a popular incense), large decorated sugar cones, cardamom seeds, rosewater, henna, dress fabrics, prayer mat (janamaz) and candles were sent at this time to the brides house. Included was specially decorated bread called khoncheh still placed on the wedding spread. These were carried on tabagh with singing and clapping and accompanied by male musicians if they could be afforded. All the males stopped by the entrance to the bride’s house and women took over from this point on. The day before the wedding was the bathing day. The bride and other female relatives went to the bathhouses. She would be thoroughly cleaned, massaged and all dead skin on her body would be removed by scrubbing (kisseh keshi). The hair was washed and her entire body would be rubbed with oils and perfumes. On the morning of the wedding the beauticians arrived again to apply the makeup. The groom to be also had his pre-marital bath, however his was a lot simpler. What mattered was the bride being accepted by the groom not the other way around.

Today still many of these traditions are kept and carried out even though they might be ceremonial. The wedding is almost identical to the past and all brides will have the mirror and candelabra if not the other items. The mirrors were always full size and a pair of candelabra was placed on either side of the mirror with lit candles one for each, the bride and the groom. However the cost of living has forced many to settle with smaller mirrors and candelabras.

A very important part of the pre wedding activities is dowry preparation by the bride’s family. Till very recently the girls were expected to prepare many of the items themselves. They were required to weave fabrics, prepare cloths and many in the poor families would weave carpets and rugs long before there was any talk of marriage. The tradition is very ancient. Herodotus mentions that Achaemenian Queen, Amestris, Xerxes’s future wife made a magnificent outfit for the king with fabrics that she had woven and prepared before her marriage. Today dowry preparation is still practiced by almost all families. The bride’s family will buy household items for the dowry. The higher the social status the more elaborate will be the dowry and it could include properties as well. The very modern professional couples with means do not follow this tradition. On the whole this is still very important and is practiced by the majority and at times it becomes a source of major conflict between the two families.

There were and are two stages to a marriage. Most often both take place on the same day, but occasionally there could be some time between the two. In the past when marriage age was very low, there might have been a few years between the two to allow the girl to grow up. The first is called ‘Aghed’ meaning knot. This is when the legal process takes place, both the parties and their guardian’s sign a marriage contract and a bride price or ‘mahr’ is set to guarantee the financial well being of the bride. The mahr is agreed on beforehand and at this time previously prepared documents will be signed. The second stage is the actual feasts and the celebrations, which traditionally lasts from 3 to 7 days.

“Aghd Ceremony at present times”
The ceremony takes place in a specially decorated room with flowers and a beautiful and elaborately decorated spread on the floor i.e. ‘Sofreh Aghed’ and traditionally it faced the direction of sunrise. By custom the aghed would normally take place at the bride’s home or her close relatives and always during the day. This is from the Zoroastrian period when darkness was associated with the hostile spirits. The bridegroom is the first to take his seat in the room and the bride comes afterwards. The groom always sits on the right hand side of the bride. With Zoroastrians, the right side designates a place of respect.

The bride and the bridegroom have each at least one marriage witness. Usually older and married males are chosen amongst close relations to stand as witnesses. The priest (Mula) or other males with recognized authority i.e. a notary public perform the legal part of the ceremony. With very religious families where segregation of sexes is practiced these males will stay in the adjacent room and will only talk to the bride without actually seeing her, or the bride’s face will be totally covered when these procedures take place.

This part of the ceremony consists of preliminary blessings, questions to the witnesses, guardians, the marrying couple and finally the ceremony is solemnized by reciting verses from Quran or other holy books and signing of a legal marriage contract. The contract can contain clauses to protect the bride against polygamy, unconditional divorce rights by the husband, property rights etc. Normally all these details are worked out beforehand.

After the blessings and a few words about the importance of the institution of marriage the priest confirms with both the parents or guardians that they indeed wish to proceed with the ceremony and there are no objections. Then the priest asks the mutual consent of the couple.

First the bridegroom is asked if he wishes to enter into the marriage contract, then the bride is asked the same question. Once the bride is asked if she agrees to the marriage, she pauses and remains silent. The question is repeated three times and it is only at the last time that she will say yes. To make the bridegroom wait for the bride’s answer is to signify that it is the husband who seeks the wife and is anxious to have her and not the other way around. With the very rich each time the bride is asked the question the groom’s mother or sister would place a gold coin or a piece of Jewelry in her hand symbolically encouraging her to say yes. During the service female relatives of the couple (mainly the bride) hold over the couple’s head a fine scarf or other delicate fabrics like silk. Till 19th century this was green, Zoroastrians favorite color, now other colors particularly white are used as well.

Two different actions take place at the same time. Two pieces of crystallized sugar (shaped like cones) are rubbed together, a symbolic act to sweeten the couple’s life together. In the second act two parts of the same fabric are symbolically sewn together with needle and thread. The ceremony is suggestive of the ancient traditions when the bride and groom’s ceremonial belts (koshti) were tied and sewn together. Zoroastrians today hold over the grooms head a tray on which two pieces of cloth are united together, with needle, thread, scissors, a raw egg, a pomegranate or apple, dried marjoram, and white sweetmeats, all covered by a green kerchief. Koshti are ceremonial belts that are given to all Zoroastrians to mark the passage from childhood to adulthood. This is a rite of passage and is a very significant ritual in their lives. The symbolic act of sewing the bride and groom’s koshti together is uniting the couple for the rest of their lives, a knot is tied that should not be broken or separated.

Once the bride has said yes to the proposal, verses from holy books are read. Documents are signed, the amount of mahr (bride price) is entered in the legal document, which is signed by the couple and the witnesses, and the two are announced man and wife. The practice of setting up a bride price is becoming a ceremonial one for most modern couples. Most will settle for a holy book, a gold coin and some flowers mainly roses. However mahr should be included in the marriage document be it symbolic or not. Etymologically meaning “price” or “ransom”, mahr is the money or other valuables, paid or promised to be paid to the bride by the groom or his family for the financial protection of the bride in case of a divorce and it is must in Islamic marriage. Once this is over, the couple hold their right hands together, drink a sweet liquid or taste some honey for a better and sweeter life.

At this time the bride and groom exchange wedding rings. Then the bride is showered by gifts, usually expensive jewelry and all she receives is hers and the husband has no right over the presents. The groom also receives gifts from the bride’s family, normally an expensive watch and other male items like gold chain etc. Songs, jokes and merry-making gestures and clapping of the hands, accompany the whole ceremony. When the two leave the room, they are showered with coins, flowers, rice and the sweet candy noghl. This item is present in all Iranian festivities and it is believed to bring sweetness into life and is regarded as blessed (barakat). Showering the couple with the above items is called shabash and varies from one place to the other. The guests would eat the noghl and take the coins home for good luck. With rich families real gold coins will be used but most will use specially minted fake coins with the word shabash or mobarak bad (congratulation) engraved on the coins.

The elaborately decorated spread in front of the bride and groom contains several items each symbolizing a different aspect of the ancient religion. Mirror and candelabras represent light and fire, two very important elements in the Zoroastrian religion. The large flat bread is specially baked and decorated to bring prosperous feasts (specially baked bread was and is still used by Zoroastrians as holy bread in many of their rituals and ceremonies). Gold represents prosperity. Honey and crystallized sugar is to sweeten life. Espand a popular incense is burnt. This item is used in many Zoroastrian religious ceremonies, rituals and purification rites. It is believed to keep the evil eye away and purify. In the past grain seeds were sacttered on the spread symbolizing abundance and fertility. A glass bowl with gold fish and a green leaf from a local variety of orange called Narenj was also placed in the bowl. Such traditions are disappearing quickly. The spread or the cloth used is called ‘Sofreh’ and is normally very elaborate itself and with the rich ‘Termeh’ a very expensive hand made material from India is used. Sometimes very small pearls are embroidered on termeh to depict beautiful designs. Termeh are still prized and are always included in the dowry if people can afford them and the old ones are becoming collectors’ items.

A large porcelain bowl containing a number of sweet drinks (sherbets) depending on the location was and is still part of the spread in most places. A bunch of herbs called sabzi (green herbs are called sabzi) like parsley and mint with bread and cheese was also placed on the spread and it still is in many places.

After the ceremony, there are lavish feasts, dancing, music and entertainers. There will be more parties given by close relatives and friends for the next few weeks. These parties are called paghosah, meaning clearing the path. They are to introduce the two newly related families to each other. With very traditional families and the poor the groom is supposed to provide fabrics or new cloths as part of the bride price for these occasions. Traditionally at the end of the wedding ceremony the bride would be taken to her new residence, either their own home if they can afford it, or her parent in laws. In the past horsemen and carriages were used with songs, clapping and other merry making gestures. Today several cars will follow the couples’ decorated vehicle while honking.

Honeymoon is a new concept and still most couples in rural areas and smaller cities are not familiar with this occasion. The newly wed would simply spend a night or two together and till recently a stained handkerchief was used as evidence to ascertain bride’s virginity in remoter areas and villages. Where segregation of sexes is observed males and females gather at different rooms or outdoor gardens totally separated from each other. Alcohol is not served with restrict Muslims while with the more modern Iranians whisky beer and vodka are a must amongst other beverages. Guests would be served tea, fruits, non-alcoholic drinks, nuts, raisins and other dried fruits with all kinds of pastry and baked goods. In the past it was considered good luck to take back some of these but most modern Iranians do not practice this any more.

The marriage ceremony marks the most significant ritual for all Iranians specially the women. The wedding feast is the most elaborate in the couples’ life. A few dishes are always present and the rest varies with the locality and the budget. Sheereen Polo or sweet rice is always prepared. All modern Iranians use wedding cakes this tradition is borrowed from the Europeans. The rest of the evening will be spent dancing, feasting and having a good time.

Paghosha parties will be happening for the next few weeks. There are no special foods for these parties at the present. In the 19th century a number of foods including special soup called ash was prepared by the groom’s mother and with the rich they put a few gold coins in the ash and it was sent to the bride the day after the wedding. Afterwards the dishes would be send back cleaned and filled with flowers, sweets, nuts and cardamom seeds for its’ perfume.

It is customary for the newly wed to be the first to visit their parents on No Ruz and to be visited by other relatives because it is their first New Year as a couple. The couple would normally receive special gifts such as flowers, sweets, fruits and expensive fabrics. Iranian Muslims do not marry at certain Islamic months like Muharram and Safar. The first one is a month of mourning for Imam Husayn and his Cheleh or fortieth day of death happens in Safar. No celebrations normally take place in Muharram. Till recently if the wedding happened to be on the same day or close to the festival of sacrifice the groom’s family would send a live sheep decorated with gold silver and expensive shawls for the newly wed. The sheep would be slaughtered and the presents remained with the couple.
December 31, 2009
Regime brought people from Oustide of Terhan for protesting against Iranian nation – listen to their idiocy
Makhmalbaf: Secrets of Khamenei’s life – part 1 – His interests
Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Mohsen Makhmalbaf, internationally renowned filmmaker and the Iranian opposition’s main spokesman abroad since the disputed presidential election, posted an article, entitled ‘The secrets of Khamenei’s life,’ on his web site on Monday, December 28, 2009. Makhmalbaf has been living in exile in Paris. The original article in Farsi can be read here.

The following is a translation of the first part of the article. My notes are in italics. The rest of the piece will be posted on this blog on Wednesday, December 30.

Note: The term ‘beyteh rahbari’ has been translated as the Leader’s Household in the broadest sense, which includes Ali Khamenei’s personal office and inner circle.

The Secrets of Khamenei’s Life

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

I compiled this text which is based on information relayed to me by former staff members of the Leader’s Household and the Intelligence Ministry who have escaped abroad.

After the Shah and Khomeini, Khamenei is the individual who has most affected the public and private lives of Iranians in the past several decades. He is the person who more than any other knows about the lives of this or that individual through his intelligence apparatus. But very few people know the details about his home, family, connections, interests, or work habits. This excessive secretiveness has been a deliberate choice made by him and his system. By being shrouded in secrecy, he has derived a religious charisma among his followers and a sinister quality among the people.

This article aims to reveal the truth about Khamenei through first-hand sources. This disclosure is free of the constant expressions of hatred of these past days or the infatuation of his fanatical supporters.

His daily schedule
4:00 AM rises from sleep and engages in prayer
6:00 to 6:30 AM meeting with Hejazi (his chief of staff) (NB Asghar Hejazi)
6:30 to 7:00 AM meeting with Vahid (executive deputy of the Leader’s Household)
7:00 to 8:00 AM meeting with Mojtaba (his second son), three times a week. (Mojtaba teaches at the Ghom seminaries about 150 days a year, but on all other days meets with his father every morning.)
8:00 to 10:30 AM reviews intelligence, political, and economic reports.
10:30 to 12:00 PM midday nap and rest
12:00 to 1:00 PM communal prayer and lunch
1:00 to 3:00 PM indispensable meetings (which vary and mostly concern the resolution of unexpected crises)
3:00 to 5:00 PM personal matters
5:00 to 8:00 PM special meetings (these encounters are described in the weekly and monthly schedules)
8:00 to 8:30 PM dinner
8:30 to 9:00 PM listens to the latest recordings
9:00 PM prepares for bed

Khamenei’s weekly schedule
(NB The Iranian workweek is Saturday to Wednesday, and the weekend is Thursday to Friday)
1. Sunday afternoons, meetings with military commanders (NB This could be a typo and may refer to Saturday afternoons)
2. Sunday afternoons, meetings with Sepah (NB Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) commanders
3. Monday dinners, meetings with the president
4. Tuesday morning, meetings with officials about his own financial matters (Hassan Khamenei (his brother), Mir Mohammadi, Mojtaba Khamenei, and Commerce Minister Shariatmadar (NB Possibly referring to Mohammad Shariatmadar, former commerce minister of reformist President Mohammad Khatami. Shariatmadar was a member of Khamenei’s representative office for Hajj pilgrimage affairs from 1991.)
5. Tuesday dinners, meetings with [Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council chief] Hashemi Rafsanjani.
6. Wednesday afternoons, meetings with members of the Guardian Council.
7. Wednesday nights, dinner with Jannati (NB Head of the Guardian Council Ahmad Jannati)

Monthly schedule
1. Meeting with the head of the Majlis (NB Ali Larijani)
2. Meeting with the head of the judiciary (NB Sadegh Larijani)
3. Meetings with religious advisers (individuals who come from Ghom, like Moghtadeie and Yazdi (NB Possibly referring to Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadeie, head of the conservative Teachers’ Association of Ghom Seminaries, and Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, ultra-conservative head of the Imam Khomeini Research Center in Ghom and a spiritual mentor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad))
4. Meetings with other advisers

Khamenei’s personal interests

Doctors advised him to eat caviar and trout from the Lar river. In time, these two foods became personal favorites. Caviar is sent from Rasht by the city’s Friday Prayer leader (NB Ayatollah Zeinolabedine Ghorbani, also Khamenei’s representative in Gilan province). Pheasant meat is sent from Shiraz by Mr. Haeri (NB Possibly referring to Shiraz Friday Prayer leader Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi). He also consumes quail and ostrich meat (to avoid cholesterol).

A $500,000 device has been bought from the United States to check Khamenei’s food and make sure it is not poisoned. The food is tested after a certain substance is added to it. The cook must taste the food before anyone else, in the presence of bodyguards.

Hiking in the mountains and horse riding. In 1999, Khamenei fell from a horse because he rides with only one hand and broke his hand. (NB Khamenei’s right hand has been disabled since an assassination attempt in 1981. A bomb hidden inside a tape recorder blew up as he gave a Friday Prayer sermon.) On long trips within Iran, for example to Mashhad, Khamenei and Mojtaba’s personal horses are taken to the destination inside an A330 airplane. Three specially-equipped trucks are used for transporting horses on shorter hauls.

There are about 100 horses, whose estimated total value is $40 million. The most expensive horse is worth $7 million and is called Zuljanah (NB The white stallion of Imam Hossein. Imam Hossein’s martyrdom in 680 AD is commemorated on Ashura.) Mojtaba’s horse is called Sahand. The horses are kept in two stables, one in the Malek Abad estate in Mashhad which measures 10,000 square meters and houses 70 horses, and another in Lavasanat (NB North of Tehran), measuring 3,000 square meters and housing 30 horses.

View Malek Abad – Mashhad in a larger map

Rashed Yazdi
Gadeh (NB A corresponding English word does not exist. Gadehs are rowdy gatherings of clerics where everything but religion is discussed.)
Karim Shireyi, left, circa 1890
He sometimes engages in gadeh with Rashed Yazdi (A mullah who tells vulgar jokes) (NB Possibly Hojjatoleslam Rashed Yazdi, affiliated with the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad). Khamenei gets a good laugh out of these gatherings. (something that Karim Shireyi did for Nassereddine Shah (NB Karim Shireyi was the favorite court jester of Nassereddine Shah, a 19th-century king of the Ghajar dynasty. He was allowed to say anything about anyone, including the shah, in a particularly closed climate.)). Also by listening to the vulgar jokes which are a form of mental release, he takes the pulse of the country. Mohammadi Golpayegani and Vahid Haghanian also take part in these gadehs. (NB Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, head of the Leader’s office). Sometimes [Guardian Council chief] Jannati is also invited and on those occasions he is usually mocked by Rashed. Mojtaba hates Khamenei’s gadehs because he has no influence there and, in his absence, Rashed Yazdi can give economic and political advice and gain favors for this or that person.

Beyond reports and the press, Khamenei has very little time to read books. From the time he was president (NB 1981 – 1989), he has told people on numerous occasions that the disadvantage of the presidency is that it takes away the possibility to read. However, he does study some books on presidents and world leaders. More than anything, he is interested in the Ghajar period, especially during Nassereddine Shah’s reign. He has read all books written about himself as well as those on the Shah (NB Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was deposed in the Islamic Revolution) and his family.

Pipe collection
Mashhad 1978, courtesy Abbas
Khamenei was initially a cigarette smoker. He quit cigarettes at the beginning of his presidency because it did not conform to the office’s prestige. He did not want any photos of him with a cigarette to be published. During that time when he was still close to Prime Minister Mousavi (NB the current opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi), they both decided to quit smoking cigarettes at the same time and have not touched cigarettes since. But he still smokes a pipe. A photo of him with a pipe in his mouth was once published. A special pipe tobacco is prepared for him. He has about 200 pipes in his collection. All rumors about him smoking opium are lies. But he has ordered that poets close to him, such as Ali Moallem (NB Mohammad Ali Moallem Damghani, who was recently designated as Mir Hossein Mousavi’s successor at the head of the Academy of Arts), Shahriar, and Sabzevari, to be allowed to indulge in their opium habits. He even ordered that opium be delivered to Shahriar’s home as a gift from the Agha (NB Term which means sir and refers to Ali Khamenei). His pipes are estimated to be worth $2 million. Most of the pipes were given to him as presents. The most expensive pipe is worth $300,000 and is 300 years old. The stem of this pipe is gold-plated and encrusted with jewels. Some of the pipes were given to him as gifts by presidents and world leaders. The pipe-holders bear the names of the people who offered them.

Ring collection
There are about 300 rings in Khamenei’s collection. Three were given to him by the Imam Reza Shrine authorities. The most expensive ring is worth $500,000 and boasts the oldest agate in the world. The collection is kept in the Leader’s Household.

Cane collection
A few years ago, there were 170 antique canes in Khamenei’s collection which was estimated at $1.2 million. The most expensive cane is worth $200,000. It is 170 years old and jewel-encrusted. On special occasions, he will give a cane, ring, or clerical cloak to someone as a present. Before the last presidential election in which Mir Hossein Mousavi was a candidate, he visited Mousavi’s father and gave him a cane. Some people thought this was a sign that he agreed with [Mousavi’s] candidacy. After [Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah] Khomeini’s death, and at the beginning of his leadership, he sent a clerical cloak to Mr. Taheri, then Friday Prayer leader of Isfahan, because Taheri had been quoted as saying that when Khomeini had seen Khamenei on television during Khamenei’s visit to India, he had said that Khamenei would make a good Leader. This same quote convinced the [Assembly of] Experts to vote for Khamenei. The footage of the Experts and the recital of this quote are available on YouTube.

He ususally gives gold coins as gifts to artists and poets who support him. He sometimes sends a check from the Leader’s office. On occasion, some literary figures who flatter the regime are invited to the Household and are given prizes after reading their poems. (This tradition was common in the Ghajar courts, particularly that of Nassereddine Shah.)

Clerical cloak collection
There are about 120 cloaks worth about $400,000 in Khamenei’s collection. The most expensive is worth $30,000. His favorite is a white cloak that he wears from time to time. The cloaks are made of camel hair.

Other interests
Rumors that he played the tar or sitar in his youth are false. But he was interested in music as a young man and listened to classical Iranian music. He used to like Shajarian’s voice, but he dislikes him now because of Shajarian’s political positions (NB Master Mohammad Reza Shajarian is one of the most acclaimed traditional Iranian singers. He has clearly sided with the opposition and openly demanded that the state media stop playing his songs). After becoming leader, and in particular in recent years, he has become increasingly opposed to music. He has spoken against music numerous times on television. This year, he ordered state radio-television to decrease its musical content in order to please his more religious followers.

In his youth, and perhaps simply because of his young age, he bought a red Volkswagen. He probably could not believe that years later during his own rule, some people would be held accountable simply because of the color of their automobiles.

In the report on Khamenei’s past that Reyshahri prepared for Khomeini, references are made to two women who were temporarily wed to Khamenei (NB The term sigheh or temporary marriage refers to a form of prostitution allowed by Islam). These two women live in Mashhad.

Khamenei’s interest in poetry began at a young age and has been maintained till today. He spent long hours at the poetry association of Mashhad. He has written some poems. He is delighted when poets write poetry about him and expresses his satisfaction through gifts to the poets. Sabzevari and Ali Moallem, who are among the fawning Muslim poets, are constantly corresponding with him. It is through them that he is informed of the problems of artists affiliated with the regime. At the start of his Leadership, he received the poet Mir Shakak, who was a manic depressive, several times. Khamenei became very proud of himself when Mir Shakak upon saying goodbye would say, ‘Seyed zat ziad’ (Meaning ‘the honor is great’, which is a colloquial prayer). Khamenei invites poets to his Household several times a year so that they may recite poems in his presence.

At the beginning of his presidency, he asked Akhavan Saless, whom he knew very well, to write a flattering poem for the revolution. Akhavan Saless (NB Mehdi Akhavan Saless, also known as M. Omid) responded, ‘We artists are above the government, not with it.’ Khamenei was so incensed by this answer that he ordered that he stop being paid. (NB Akhavan Saless worked at the Academy of Artists and Writers). Akhavan Saless became unemployed after that. Gheysar Aminpour has referred to this event in his article on Akhavan.

Khamenei intensely disliked Shamlou (NB Ahmad Shamlou, one of the most prominent Iranian poets of the last century) and referred to him with hatred. But he never dared arrest and punish him, because he feared tainting his own name in history. He has read much about kings who mistreated poets. In his speeches, he has often cited Lenin’s phrase that if an ideology is not supported by art it will die. He loves poetry so much that if he had not become active in religion and politics, he would probably have turned to poetry and literature. However, because of his busy schedule, he sometimes makes glaring mistakes [in this regard]. Despite claiming to be knowledgeable about verse, when a young poet recited a poem in his presence, he asked him, ‘Is this poem by you?’ To which the poet responded, ‘No, it is by Sohrab Sepehri.’ (Any schoolchild knows Sepehri’s work).
Makhmalbaf: Secrets of Khamenei’s life – part 2 – His entourage and Household operations
This is part 2 of a series. For part 1, please click here.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Mohsen Makhmalbaf, internationally renowned filmmaker and the Iranian opposition’s main spokesman abroad since the disputed presidential election, posted an article, entitled ‘The secrets of Khamenei’s life,’ on his web site on Monday, December 28, 2009. Makhmalbaf has been living in exile in Paris. The original article in Farsi can be read here.

The following is a translation of the second part of the article. My notes are in italics.

Note: The term ‘beyteh rahbari’ has been translated as the Leader’s Household in the broadest sense, which includes Ali Khamenei’s personal office and inner circle.

The Secrets of Khamenei’s Life – Part 2

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

I compiled this text which is based on information relayed to me by former staff members of the Leader’s Household and the Intelligence Ministry who have escaped abroad.

Khamenei’s relationship with his wife and children
L to R, Mojtaba, Meysam, Khamenei, Massoud, Mostafa
Khamenei’s wife is called Khojasteh. She is very much under Khamenei’s thumb, but she is also dominated by her brothers. The oil company’s hospital was once closed off so Khojasteh could have liposuction performed on her stomach. She was twice operated in London for an inflammation of the large intestine. Mojtaba, Khamenei’s second son, has great influence on his father, but he can count on his mother’s support if there are any shortcomings in that regard.

L to R, Massoud, Mojtaba, unknown, Mostafa, Meysam
Khojasta is about 67 years old. One of her brothers was linked to the Mojahedin Khalgh (NB Also known as the MKO, an armed resistance group which is broadly disliked by Iranians because of its collaboration with the Saddam government during the Iran-Iraq War) and has escaped to Sweden. Apart from the exiled brother, she has three other brothers who are involved in very large business operations. Khojasteh’s brother Hassan has the run of the Islamic Republic’s television broadcaster. He has a monopoly on commissions from the sale of Sony cameras and monitors. Iranian television’s total purchases of Sony equipmenet, from cameras to editing systems, do not represent a large figure: about $50 to $60 million per year. But the people buy about $500 to $600 million of Sony equipment a year, of which 7% goes to Hassan, Khojasteh’s brother. An Iranian in Dubai initially had the exclusive license to sell Sony equipment in Iran, but he was threatened and he gave up his license out of fear. Despite a prosperous lifestyle, Khojasteh is constantly worried that their life may appear too simple to outside observers. She has three ladies-in-waiting. She never goes to beauty salons outside of the house and has hairdressers brought to their home. She likes massages and a Korean woman is her masseuse.

Batool, [Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah] Khomeini’s wife, really disliked [Khojasteh] and believed that she was arrogant like her husband and that [Khojasteh] considered herself to be Leader of Iranian women ever since Khamenei had become Leader.

Khojasteh used to cook, but it has been seven or eight years since she has been able to carry out that task. An old man called Seyed is in charge of cooking now.

Khojasteh is in charge of choosing husbands and wives in Khamenei’s home. She first selects families close to the Leader’s Household or top clerics and gets to know them by socializing. Her investigations are completed by the Intelligence Ministry, special division. Then the Khamenei daughters and sons make their choice among the candidates selected by their mother and approved by the Leader. These marriages sometimes encounter serious problems. The fact that Mojtaba’s wife (Haddad Adel’s daughter (NB Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a regime apologist in academic circles and a former Speaker of the Majlis)) had difficulty getting pregnant almost led to divorce. In Massoud’s case (married to Ayatollah Kharrazi’s daughter), political differences have split the couple and Soussan Kharrazi has returned to her father’s home in order to obtain a divorce.

Appearances within the family are strictly maintained in the presence of outsiders. For example, the children refer to their father as Agha (NB Sir, mister, or gentleman), Leader, or His Excellency the Ayatollah. Khamenei also employs honorifics when calling his children. He usually says, Agha Mostafa, Agha Mojtaba, Agha Massoud, or Agha Meysam. His daughters’ names rarely come up in such encounters, except in family reunions. On such occasions, he refers to them as Boshra Khanoum or Boshra Sadat, Hoda Khanoum or Hoda Sadat.

If the topic of conversation turns to Mr. Khamanei’s election [as Leader] by the [Assembly of] Experts, the children, especially Mojtaba say, ‘The Experts did not elect Mr. Khamanei, but rather discovered him. He is the surrogate of the Imam Zaman (NB The Messiah figure in Shiism, the Hidden Imam who will return at an undisclosed time) and God endowed the Muslim scholars and Experts with the ability to discover him.’

This form of respect is maintained by the executives and employees of the Leader’s Household. Whenever an individual comes out of an audience with Mr. Khamenei, these executives and employees tell the person, ‘May your pilgrimage be accepted [by God]’ (NB Ziarat ghaboul, in Farsi. Pilgrimage is used in the sense of visiting a sacred place). No one in Mr. Khamenei’s office is allowed to say he is going to meet Mr. Khamenei or has a meeting with him. Rather, he must say, ‘I am going to be honored’ or ‘I am going on a pilgrimage.’ More than anyone, Hejazi (his chief of staff (NB Asghar Hejazi)) insists on this form of respect.

Communal prayer at the Leader’s Household
(NB Communal prayer or namazeh jamaat takes place when an imam stands in front of a group of worshippers and leads them in any one of the five daily prayers.)
Communal prayers are performed at the Household three to four times a week. About 15 people have the honor of being led in these prayers. Ten of them, executives in the Leader’s Household, are regulars and five to four people are guests. The guest slots have a price. The bazaar merchants who have problems to resolve participate in the Agha’s (NB Khamenei’s) prayers and seek his advice, and their business picks up. They are willing to pay the ‘lease’ on the guest slots, about 500 million toumans (NB About $500,000), to Hejazi or Mohammadi Golpayegani (NB Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani). These prayer followers make back their payment of 500 million toumans severalfold through the Agha’s advice. Therefore customers of the Agha’s communal prayer are usually bazaar merchants. Those within the security apparatus who seek promotion are also frequent worshippers at the communal prayer.

Khamanei’s relation with his devotees
When Mr. Khamanei visits Mashhad and takes a sugar cube out of a sugar bowl, that bowl becomes sacred for his devotees. When he walks past a place on his way to a pilgrimage, his followers kiss the ground he has walked on. Videos of devotees kissing Khamanei’s footprints are available on YouTube. It is unclear how shocked these dovotees would be if they found out about Khamenei’s gadehs (NB Explained in part 1 of this article) and how Mullah Rashed’s vulgar jokes have him in stitches. Would they consider the leftover sugar cubes from his tea to be as sacred?

Khamenei’s catchphrase for the past twenty years has been, ‘Do this, but don’t let the people find out’ or ‘Do that, but make sure no one finds out.’ And those who hear this phrase know that all the power of the Leader’s Household depends on keeping the people ignorant of the secrets of Mr. Khamenei’s life and the behind-the-curtains activities of the Leader’s office.

Until the Friday Prayer that took place a week after the election (NB June 19, when Khamenei led Tehran’s Friday Prayer and cast his lot with Ahmadinejad in a fiery speech against the opposition), Khamenei never took responsibility for anything and people believed that he played the role of an arbiter who maintained a balance of power between the various factions. But that Friday Prayer suddenly revealed everything and showed Khamenei’s biased role in politics and his guilt in the oppression.

Those in charge of Khamenei’s protection
[Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah] Khomeini’s protection team consisted of 200 people, but 10,000 individuals guard Khamenei (reminiscent of the Shah’s Javidan Guard (NB The Immortals) whose numbers never diminished). The two key players are Din Shoari and Hossein Jabari, who stand guard outside his door at night and are the only individuals allowed to be armed around Khamenei. They have been Khamenei’s main bodyguards for thirty years. But the individuals in charge of Khamenei’s protection team over the years have been the following:
1. Khosro Vafa (head of the Janbazan unit)
2. Asgharzadeh (Majlis representative)
3. Motevalian (Sepah (NB Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps))
4. Ramezani (Sepah intelligence)
5. Nejat (Security Council (NB Supreme National Security Council))
6. Cheyzari (He is the current head of the protection team)

The close guards, who consist of 200 individuals and who witness the trips and the life in the palaces, each possess a home which is worth at least one billion toumans (NB about $1 million). Those who consider Khamenei to be pious and who lead austere lives themselves are not permitted to enter the first ring of guards, lest they become conflicted. These selfless guards are not allowed to marry the daughters of senior bodyguards, even if they fall in love. Marriages are organized within the senior political families or clergy. But those who kiss the ground Khamenei has walked on, steal sugar cubes from sugar bowls rendered sacred by Khamenei, and are prepared to sacrifice themselves for him have never been considered worthy enough to marry the daughter of a senior figure.

500 individuals guard the family members. (The extended family of 40 is guarded: The daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters, sons, brothers, brothers-in-law, and even some of the children of the brothers and brothers-in-law.)

Entering the bodyguard team requires passing three security clearances and takes a very long time. The monthly salary of bodyguards is at least $1,000 and at most $12,000. When someone enters the bodyguard team, he is helped to purchase a residence. The individuals also have access to an official residence in the place where they are stationed.

About 1,000 of the 10,000 bodyguards are women and usually no one knows that they are bodyguards.

Khamenei’s medical care
Alireza Marandi
Former health minister Dr. Marandi is Khamenei’s medical coordinator (NB Professor Alireza Marandi. Alireza Marandi’s son is Seyed Mohammad Marandi, professor of North American Studies at Tehran University, a vocal supporter of the regime and one of the few people in Tehran who has no problem obtaining a satellite feed to be interviewed by foreign news outlets. In July, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria asked Seyed Mohammad Marandi if he had any problem appearing like ‘a mouthpiece for a dying repressive regime:’)

Marandi chooses the team of doctors and brings them to him when necessary. The Leader’s Household has an underground hospital with four doctors on duty 24 hours a day. A mobile hospital follows Khamenei during his land trips. A bus-hospital with an operating room also follows Khamanei on his land journeys. An airplane hospital with two operating rooms is available for long-haul trips. Khamenei has been operated three times in the past thirty years: on his hand after the explosion in the early days of the revolution (NB A failed assassination attempt in 1981 paralyzed his right hand), on his small intestine, and on his prostate.

Whenever Khamenei is ill, differences boil to the surface at the Leader’s Household. People who have committed crimes and fear that the people will take revenge on them when Khamenei dies become worried about their future. But as soon as Khamenei’s health improves, everything is quickly forgotten.

A lady who is the sister of Deputy Defense Minister Ahmad Vahid Dastjerdi and is a gynecologist is the personal physician of Khamenei’s wife, daughters, and daughters-in-law. (NB This sentence appears to indicate that Makhmalbaf prepared at least this section of the report in the summer. The ‘lady’ in question is Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi who was confirmed by the Majlis as the new Health Minister on September 3, 2009.)

Khamenei has suffered from depression for years. Some doctors believe it is caused by his habit of listening to recordings before bed. Given that only recordings of people speaking against Khamanei are considered noteworthy, Khamenei is constantly listening to recordings of remarks against himself. In order to preserve his system, Khamenei usually listens to 20 minutes of recorded conversations against himself, between opponents or even officials, every night before sleeping. This contributes to his depression. Every night before sleeping, he reaches the conclusion that no one loves him and the next morning he opens his eyes onto people who plead their loyalty in order to attain power and wealth or in order to avoid his rage.

[His wife] Khojasteh, who has sometimes listened to these recordings, has little patience for the daily groveling of many people. More than anyone, she says that the Iranian people are fawning liars and traitors.

Khamenei sometimes gets a massage from an Iranian physiotherapist. The massages initially focused on the hand that was disabled in the explosion, but later and on the recommendation of physicians, it became a part of the weekly schedule.

The system of recordings
Once Khamenei became Leader, Ahmad Ghadirian was responsible for the recordings for a period of two years. But Taeb has been in charge of this task for 15 years now (NB Possibly referring to Hojjatoleslam Hossein Taeb, former head of the Basij and currently in charge of the intelligence unit of the Revolutionary Guards). The recordings are divided into three parts: recordings of senior officials, recordings of security officials, and recordings of the people. Even the bedrooms of security officials are tapped in order to keep an eye on any possible treachery. The conversations of ordinary people are recorded to understand the climate in the country and allow Khamenei to confront it. This third type of recording is a form of poll.

Two main centers are tasked with the recordings, one in Tochal and the other at the telecommunications center. A team which is based behind Khamenei’s residence on Pasteur Street compiles the recordings related to Khamenei into a 20-minute segment and prepares a two-page report. Five minutes of the recordings concern the society’s morality. All of Khamenei’s meetings are openly recorded and he even tells the attendees that they are being recorded. For example, he records all of his meetings with [Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council chief] Hashemi Rafsanjani, [former President Mohammad] Khatami, [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, and other officials. The main people in chargeof the recordings are Taeb and Engineer Hamid, Vahid Haghanian’s brother.

In this way, Khamenei possesses secret files on all officials and knows their strengths and weaknesses. But very few people know about Khamenei, except Reyshahri (who in Khomeini’s time was responsible for investigating all officials, including Khamenei), and in recent years Hejazi (NB Asghar Hejazi, chief of staff) and Mohammadi Golpayegani, who know all the secrets. (NB Ayatollah Mohammadi Reyshahri, aka Mohammad Mohammadi Nik, former Intelligence Minister).

Reyshahri wanted to become the trustee of the town of Rey (NB His birthplace and the reason he has the alias Reyshahri, which means from the town of Rey), and even though he opposed this, Khamenei gave him the town as a bribe. In Khomeini’s time, Reyshahri would investigate the sexual, financial, and political background of all officials, including Khamenei.

In the political field: When [current opposition leader Mir Hossein] Mousavi was the prime minister (NB 1981 to 1989) and Khomeini supported his economic policies, Khamenei was president but did not legally have the same power as Mousavi within the goverment. Khamenei would criticize Khomeini’s support for Mousavi in private.

In the financial field: Khamenei’s interference in commisions from oil sales was under question.

In the sexual field: Khamenei’s two temporary wives in Mashhad had been discovered (NB Sigheh. Explained in greater detail in part 1).

Of course, none of these issues dispelled Khomeini’s trust in Khamenei. But if the story of his two sigheh women in Mashhad, which took place when he was young, had been divulged, his reputation may have suffered. There have been no reported cases of his womanizing after the revolution.

Khamenei’s travels
Khamenei travels about 100 days out of the year. He resides in the palace he has built in Mashhad (NB His birthplace) for one month in the summer, one week for the Nowrouz holiday (NB Iranian new year’s day, first day of spring), and one week in the winter. Also around Nowrouz, he spends a week in the Dezfoul air force base in Khuzestan province, which enjoys a good climate in that time of the year. He also spends a month along the Caspian Sea, usually in Ziba Kenar, Sari, Ramsar, or Bisheh Kenar. He spends every Thursday and Friday (NB The Iranian weekend) in Niavaran Palace, Jamshidiyeh Palace, or Lavasanat Palace. When Khamenei is traveling, a plane carries officials back and forth once a day. Three protective rings are set up around his place of residence. All of his close guard and the second circle of bodyguards, 1,200 individuals in all, must travel with him. Consequently, every day of his travels costs a minimum of 50 million toumans (NB About $50,000).

When he is in Mashhad, an A330 airplane usually transports his and Mojtaba’s favorite horses and various articles of furniture.

Khamenei sometimes wants to travel like ordinary people. To this end, a special bullet-proof bus was built at a cost of 500 million toumans ($500,000). The bus is equipped with two bedrooms, a lavatory, and a bathroom. It also has a small kitchen, in which Seyed, the Agha’s trusted cook, prepares meals. The Agha’s escort secretly precedes and follows the bus.
Rental Women used in spying and by Information Ministry

Walter R. Mebane, Jr.
University of Michigan
June 29, 2009

Evidently, Mr. Mebane’s updated statistical study illustrates that according to the examined body of models, the surge in Ahmadinejad’s numbers cannot be clearly explained. Apparently, this very fact escaped the regime cohorts who flood their propaganda media machine to spew nonsense.
Daily poll and fluctuation of numbers

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a Washington-based neo-conservative think-tank founded in 1997 to “rally support for American global leadership.” PNAC’s agenda runs far deeper than regime change in Iraq. Its statement of principles begins with the assertion that “American foreign and defense policy is adrift” and calls for “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.”

While their tone is high-minded, their proposal is unilateral military intervention to protect against threats to America’s status as the lone global superpower.

The validity of the unreleased Iranian surveys cannot be assessed in detail, but a closer look at the one sponsored by Terror Free Tomorrow and the New America Foundation reveals ample reason to be skeptical of the conclusions drawn from it.
More evidence for fraud has been presented in this new report that identifies 38 districts in which Ahmadi supposedly won 100% of the votes. If you are arithmetically challenged, that would mean not a single vote went for another candidate.

* the validity of the phone interview in Iran

Using a telephone poll in a country that jails dissenters: If you lived in Iran, to what extent would you trust an anonymous person who called you on the phone to ask who you plan for vote for, for president?

But the poll was conducted from May 11 to 20, well before the spike in support for Mousavi his supporters claim.

That leaves 52 percent unaccounted for. In all, 27 percent expressed no opinion in the election, and another 15 percent refused to answer the question at all.

* funding

Funding for the survey was provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and umberalla funding for almost every major neo-conservative think tank institution.

A close examination of our survey results reveals that the race may actually be
closer than a first look at the numbers would indicate. More than 60 percent of
those who state they don’t know who they will vote for in the Presidential
elections reflect individuals who favor political reform and change in the current

.6 * .5 = 30% for Mosavi + 14% = 44%
.4 * .5 = 20% for Ahmadinejad + 34% = 54%

.6 * .3 = 18% + 14% = 32%
.4 * .3 = 12% + 34% = 46%

* Skepticism expressed by even the survey itself

The current mood indicates that none of the candidates will likely pass the 50
percent threshold needed to automatically win; meaning that a second round
runoff between the two highest finishers, as things stand, Mr. Ahmadinejad and
Mr. Moussavi, is likely.

* Azeri vote goes to Ahmadinejad 2 to 1

The results of our survey indicate that only 16 percent of Azeri Iranians indicate
they will vote for Mr. Moussavi. By contrast, 31 percent of the Azeris claim they
will vote for Mr. Ahmadinejad.

* Ahmadinejad is not not a culprit for economy decline!!!

Yet, in potentially good news for President Ahmadinejad, Iranians do not
seem to hold him responsible for the weakening economy. While a plurality sees
the Iranian economy as declining, Iranian are evenly split on whether President
Ahmadinejad’s policies have succeeded in reducing unemployment and inflation.

* What the voters demand

The number one priority Iranians have for their government is improving the
Iranian economy, very closely followed by ensuring free elections, a free press
and better trade and relations with the West. By contrast, developing nuclear
weapons was not seen as an important long-term priority by most.

* Almost 80% yearn for more freedom, democracy and better relation with the US

In another indication of the Iranian public’s strong support for a more open and
fully democratic system of government, 77 percent said that they support a
political system for governing Iran where the Supreme Leader, along with all
leaders, can be chosen and replaced by a free and direct vote of the people.

In another consistent trend over the past two years, 77 percent of Iranians back
normal relations and trade with the United States. 68 percent also favor Iran
working with the United States to help resolve the Iraq war, while 60 percent
back unconditional negotiations with the U.S.

Significantly, among the possible ways that the US can improve Iranians’ opinion
of America, the most important for Iranians is a free trade treaty between Iran
and the United States, chosen by 69 percent.

Overall, however, the poll revealed that Iranians gave Ahmadinejad tepid reviews on the performance of the economy, and favored a much less bellicose foreign policy than he has pursued. One would think that under those circumstances, the incumbent would be in a fight for his political future.

p. 3

“By contrast, our poll—the third in a series over the past two years—was conducted by telephone inside Iran over May 11th to 20th, 2009, with 1,001 interviews”

p. 25

Interviews were conducted by phone from a CATI facility in the region but outside Iran, in Farsi. They were conducted among a random national sample of 1,001 Iranians aged 18 and older from May 11th to 20th, 2009. The exact location of the CATI facility is not identified in order to maintain confidentiality for the
interviewing team. The questionnaire consisted of 31 substantive questions, 17 demographic questions, and 24 quality control questions.

* ambiguity of the fieldword

Of the 1,731 successful contacts, there were 730 refusals giving the
study a 57.8% response rate. The last poll conducted by KA/TFT had 54.5%
response rate. This poll has a +/- 3.1% margin of error at the 95% confidence

Urban interviewers comprised 70% of the responses while only 30% of callers reside in rural regions

Let”s say I”m an average Iranian sitting down for breakfast with a bowl of the Persian equivalent of Cheerios and the phone rings “Honey, there is someone on the phone from some group calling themselves the Terror Free Tomorrow and New America Foundation and they want to ask you a few questions”. I”m either going to have milk shooting through my nose from laughing too hard or I am going to get beat red angry. I”d get angry because I was sick of Americans/Westerners branding my people as terrorists. It may have well been said “Honey there is an American on the phone and he wants to know if you”ll be terror free tomorrow.”

You guys also forgot to notice that in Iran everything has happened in the last month ending in the election. Before that, nobody knew the final candidates.

this poll was not screened for likelihood of voting, as most American-based polls are.

* How mousavi’s campaign progressed

Throughout the presidential campaign, Moussavi labored hard to portray his proposals on social policy and foreign affairs as an extension of the Islamic system in order to disarm conservative critics, even denying that he is a mainstream reformist candidate in the hope of winning the support of reformers and moderate conservatives.

Indeed, as the presidential campaign progressed, Moussavi won the backing not only of an important conservative segment of the electorate but also the formidable youth constituency. His charismatic wife, Zahra Rahnavard, electrified the female vote and won the hearts and minds of women voters who flooded their campaign rallies.

In the past two weeks, Moussavi’s campaign gained momentum. There was increasing evidence that the tide was turning and that women and young voters would tip the balance of power his way, if they turned out to vote in large numbers.

For the Iranian government to experienced unexpected voting and yet announce results ahead of their normal schedule, places the burden on them to prove the legitimacy of their vote tally.
Mousavi 44% to 50%
Ahmadinejad 39% to 32%

Mousavi’s support steadily went up from 1388/02/30 to 1388/03/13 (in a span of two weeks)

Internet result for Mousavi pretty much trumps Ahmadinejad’s — 1215 as opposed to 299 by 1388/03/17
“Nationa Journal ‘Expert’ Blogs”

in the last three elections, sixty-five per cent of voters have come from traditional, rural villages, which house just thirty-five per cent of the populace. If the current figures are to be believed, urban Iranians who voted for the reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami in 1997 and 2001 have defected to Ahmadinejad in droves.

You gotta admit, the Islamic Republic sure knows how to formulate a strategy to get people to vote. Inflict on people the worst possible person – i.e. AN – as the country’s president so that even the most fervent anti-IR/anti-vote Iranians will persuade themselves to vote just to get rid of this nightmare, thereby giving the IRI the excuse to claim popular mandate for its tyrannical and repressive rule.

I refrain from calling Hillary an ex-State Department thug as there have been some sense of pragmatism and realism to her approach and ideology when it comes to dealing with Iran which dismisses the oft-amplified misconception that Iran is a suicidal nation.

The style of prose in this article is terse and circles around the purielish name calling of certain sources that have labeled the recent Iran’s election as fraud and resorting to use of pejoratives such as “Iran experts” to undermine the legimicy of the argument against the one-time unsubsantiated foreign poll taken literally at the beginning of the campaign election.
Ahmadinejad: Condensention of populis and government’s advances throughout history has been prominent. Self-deprecation of people and insult to me personally have been unforgivable especially when it comes to people’s right. I have tell people the deception that is going on in the country. Mousavi has been backing and supporting Rafsanjani et al and vis versa and mutual attack on me in the last 4 years. They have been striving to depict the government as weak and unsustanable. People have been improving through technological and scientific advances which are being ignored and insulted. I inherited the problems you and your friend have been mentioning. Do you think I turned this heaven to hell? It’s 3 against 1 (me). [complain and moaning]
Mousavi: I am proud of Iran. [too cultural and elitist]. [Direct to the point]. “case by case”? The British sailors must have been prosecuted. Pride of our country was undermined. Gave them suit and let them go like a foreign dignatiry. Ahmadinejad went to Iraq, took pictures with American soldiers. Saudi Arabia travels were futile and didn’t resulted in anything [very terse style of prose]. [no direct mention of AN but rather a reference to “us” and “we”]. In foreign policies we have been disgraced. The Holocaust issue: insult to our country [too much accent, unintelligible at some points and sometimes mumbling].
Ahmadinejad: Blair sent us a letter and apologized to us. They looked at us as hostage takers, some period that Mousavi was in the government, and what we did was separating “people” of UK from the British government. Saudi Arabia and OPEC [idiotic attack basically]. In the case of Palestinians, Mousavi has said it himself that we have to send troops to Palestinie to liberate them and wipe off Israel. If we wanted to stay on the same course of Mr. Hashemi and Khatami, we wouldn’t have had the revolution — Imam wouldn’t approve. In the case of nuclear technology, on their terms two protocols were installed on us. and the purpose was to do spy work and inform the foreign regime and because of their agreement, the process was shut down. The protocols are unfair and counter productive for our country. UN resolutions are political but IEAE agency is not and they even have said that we are good. After all the help we provided to Bush in Afghanestan, they backstabbed us. Under your reformist and centerist governments, the US and the West walked all over us and constantly strived to take the revolution out. And on the issue of Holocaust, I only proposed two questions and all of sudden you are implying that the Iran’s dignity is undermined [in the eyes of the West]? We are supposed to wait for the enemy to come to our door and deal with it. Because of our couragous and leadership, see what’ll happen if you go outside of the country and how well they’ll be treated with good will wishes. If Mousavi’s idea is to satisfy a number of foreign forces. Many countries have supported us. In the time of Hashemi, the inflation went up to 40% and sanctions imposed on Iran by Clinton, you didn’t get upset and worried? [Bunch of other incidents to undermine his tenure in the government]? Now you are talking about the Holocaust? The world is behind Iran. Somebody said that Imam’s time and era is done and you supported that article. The insults that hurled at Iran must be responded.
Ahmadinejad Has Harmed Iran’s Dignity, Mousavi Says

June 4 (Bloomberg) — Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hurt the nation by creating tensions with other countries, his main challenger in the June 12 presidential election said in a televised debate.

“In your foreign policy, you have damaged the nation’s dignity,” former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi said during yesterday’s evening debate in Tehran broadcast live by state television. “Shame has been brought on Iran. You have created tension with other countries. Heavy costs have been brought on the nation in these four years.”

Ahmadinejad’s management style has been “based on adventurism, instability, unlawfulness and radicalism,” Mousavi said, adding that he entered the race because he is “worried about the country’s future.” The president defended his record, saying past U.S. administrations had wanted to “topple” Iran.

“Now the U.S. has officially announced that it doesn’t seek to do so,” said Ahmadinejad, 52. “Which foreign policy has reinforced the country’s independence? Should we seek to satisfy world powers? Is it possible to be soft in the face of oppression?”

The debate, the second of six between the candidates, comes as Mousavi, 67, emerges as the main rival to Ahmadinejad. Mousavi has the backing of many young people, the more educated middle classes and the cultural elite, while Ahmadinejad attracts the vote of the more traditional parts of Iranian society and rural areas.


Mousavi, who was prime minister from 1981 to 1989, accused Ahmadinejad of driving the country toward a “dictatorship.” The president criticized his opponent for siding with former president Mohammad Khatami and ex-president Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to attack him.

“From the day this government was formed everyone has been attacking and the most serious condemnations have been made,” Ahmadinejad said. “I’m not standing against one candidate. I’m standing against an alliance led by Rafsanjani and with the cooperation of Mousavi and Khatami.”

The clash on foreign policy and domestic issues degenerated into personal criticism. The president made accusations about Rafsanjani’s family as well as about Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard.

Rafsanjani, chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, in a letter addressed to state television’s head, asked for airtime to be provided so he can reply to Ahmadinejad’s “lies.”

Call for Disqualification

Nemat Ahmadi, a prominent Iranian lawyer and civil rights activist, said Ahmadinejad’s accusations against former presidents in the debate were “criminal.” He added that the president is in charge of protecting the constitution, but now that he breached it, the Guardian Council should disqualify him, the Iranian Labor News Agency said. Candidates can’t run without the council’s approval.

The debate “reinforced supporters’ determination in backing their preferred candidate,” said Karim Arghandehpour, 40, editor-in-chief of the Yase-No daily newspaper, in a phone interview after the debate.

“I don’t believe either of the candidates managed to peel votes away from the other,” said Arghandehpour, a member of the Association of Iranian Journalists’ board of directors, referring to the “wide gap” between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad’s supporters.

The first debate between two other hopefuls — Mehdi Karrubi, ex-parliamentary speaker, and Mohsen Rezai, former commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guards — was broadcast two days ago.

First for Republic

This year’s presidential campaign is the first in the Islamic Republic’s 30-year history in which a series of live televised debates has been organized.

Ahmadinejad, the first to speak in yesterday’s debate, was both confrontational and defensive and sought twice to interrupt his opponent outside the allotted time. Mousavi was taken off- guard though he remained calm. At one point, he held his hand in a firm gesture, telling the president: “I did not interrupt you. You have no right to speak during my time.”

The format of the debate, which took place from 10:30 p.m. to midnight local time, appealed to many viewers who welcomed the chance to see the two main candidates engage in public.

Reza Haeri, a documentary filmmaker in Tehran, said the president had the “upper hand” in the heated exchange.

“Mousavi is a good man, but when you are faced with an opponent who claims hens are one-legged you cannot argue. You have to attack,” said Haeri, 35. “Mousavi seemed unable to parry Ahmadinejad’s blows.”

Television Criticized

Iran’s state television has been criticized by challengers in recent weeks for favoring the president in its election coverage. Private broadcasters aren’t allowed in Iran.

Last night’s debate was “a step forward” in democracy and will warm up the election’s atmosphere, Arghandehpour said.

Some 58.6 percent of voters say they will cast their ballots in favor of Ahmadinejad while 21.9 percent will back Mousavi, according to a poll conducted for the government on May 3 and 4, state media reported. In a separate poll conducted mid May by Iran’s state-owned broadcaster, Mousavi led in Tehran, with 47 percent of the capital’s vote, while Ahmadinejad had 43 percent.

The polling methods and margin of error in each poll weren’t given.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Tehran at
Last Updated: June 4, 2009 10:38 EDT

Ahmadinejad-Mousavi Debate
From: American Footprints By: Brian Ulrich

Last night, Iran started a series of six televised debates, each featuring two of the candidates in the country’s presidential election. The first, featuring Mehdi Karrubi and Mohsen Rezai, was apparently dull, with theories circulating that the two candidates agreed not to go after each other and instead simply present their positions.

Tonight, however, featured what analysts believe to be the top two candidates, incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former prime minister Mir Hussein Mousavi. Ahmadinejad took the chance to highlight how he is different from his predecessors:

“Ahmadinejad said he had rescued Iran from the denigrations caused by the corruption and foolhardy policies of his predecessors. He asked about the wealth of two-term president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his sons, and the numbers of billionaires created during that time – and noted that his ministers were humble and pious.

“He charged that reformist Mohamad Khatami’s two terms had been ones of capitulation to the West on the nuclear file, during which Iran had agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities and permit intrusive inspections.

“Mr. Khatami had helped Washington during the war and making peace in Afghanistan in 2001, but was nevertheless branded by Mr. Bush part of the ‘axis of evil.’ By contrast, Ahmadinejad claimed, his own uncompromising stance meant that even Bush eventually gave up thoughts of regime change – and that now Mr. Obama was willing to talk.”

Khatami serves as a target because of the nationalist foreign policy base Ahmadinejad is targetting, while Rafsanjani, whom Ahmadinejad defeated in the 2005 election, epitomizes for many the corruption of Iran’s elite. By linking Mousavi to a revolutionary old guard now seen as largely corrupt, Ahmadinejad hopes to dampen his populist credentials.

However, even though Ahmadinejad had promised to include criticism of the government Mousavi led as prime minister, so far I haven’t seen that he actually did so, limiting himself to accusations that Mousavi’s wife may have entered graduate school without taking the entrance exam. Why? The most likely reason is that Mousavi’s premiership, from 1981-1989, coincided with the presidency of current Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i. Because of this, Ahmadinejad apparently thinks it best to work by linkage to his two immediate predecessors.

Mousavi, however, feels free to deliver his punches:

“Former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of causing instability in Iran with ‘adventurism, heroics, and extremism.’ The hard-line president had ‘undermined the dignity of our nation’ with his caustic anti-West, anti-Israel and Holocaust-denying remarks, he added…

“In Wednesday’s nationally televised debate – the second of six, but the first one featuring Ahmadinejad – the president belittled the credentials of Mousavi’s wife, who is dean of a university. Mousavi charged that hundreds of books could no longer be republished; Ahmadinejad countered that he censored less than his predecessors. Mousavi said Ahmadinejad’s ‘method is leading to dictatorship.’

Mousavi also said:

“For the past four years you kept saying that the United States is collapsing. You have said Israel is collapsing. France is collapsing. Your foreign policies have been based on such illusional perceptions.”

Even with key parts of the government supporting him, Ahmadinejad has a tough road to re-election. He has to hope that the reformists stay cynical, or since that doesn’t seem to be working out, divided, and that his populist message from 2005 will resonate against someone other than the widely scorned Rafsanjani. All of that said, however, Iranian politics are notoriously difficult to predict.

“I left my home in Tajrish along with my family at 3 p.m. We went down Valiast Street which is the main northern-southern avenue in Tehran and entered the Evin Exp’way which leads to Enghelab Street. We knew that people are supposed to gather in Enghelab Sq. (Revolution Sq.) at 4 and march toward Azadi Sq. (Freedom Sq.). From Gisha Bridge onwards, we saw people walking down. Cars were blowing their horns and people were showing victory sign. We went to Navvab Street and parked our car at the end of the street. Then we took a taxi to bring us back to the Enghelab Street. On our way, near Jomhouri Sq. (Republic Sq.), I saw a group of about 20 militia with long beards and batons on motorbikes. My hand was out of the car window with a little green ribbon (the sign of reformists) around my finger. One of the militia told me to throw that ribbon away. I showed him a finger. All of a sudden, about 15 people attacked me inside the car. They beat me with their batons and wanted to pull me out. My wife and my daughter who were sitting in the back seat cried and hold me tight. I also hold myself tight on the chair. They wanted to shatter the car windows. The driver went out and explained that he is a taxi and we are his passengers and he has no fault. After about 5 minutes,they left. My elbow hurts severely. Then, a young man from their group came and kissed my elbow! I told him: You know, I don’t hate you. I am like you with the only difference that I know more and you are ignorant. He apologized and left. We joined the crowd in Enghelab Street.

“Read carefully: What I saw today was the most elegant scene I had ever witnessed in my life. The huge number of people were marching hand in hand in full peace. Silence. Silence was everywhere. There was no slogan. No violence. Hands were up in victory sign with green ribbons. People carried placards which read: Silence. Old and young, man and woman of all social groups were marching cheerfully. This was a magnificent show of solidarity. Enghelab Street which is the widest avenue in Tehran was full of people. I was told that the march has begun in Ferdowsi Sq. and the end of the march was now in Imam Hossein Sq. to the further east of Tehran while on the other end people had already gathered in Azadi Sq. The length of this street is about 6 kilometers. The estimate is about 2 million people. On the way, we passed a police department and a militia (Baseej) base. In both places, the doors were closed and we could see fully-armed riot police and militia watching the people from behind the fences. Near Sharif University of Technology where the students had chased away Ahmadinejad a few days ago, Mirhossein Mousavi (the reformist elect president) and Karrubi (the other reformist candidate spoke to people for a few minutes which was received by cries of praise and applause. I felt proud to find myself among such a huge number of passionate people who were showing the most reasonable act of protest. Frankly, I didn’t expect such a political maturity from emotional Iranians who easily get excited. My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression. Placards that people carried were different; from poems by the national poet Ahmad Shamlu to light-hearted slogans against Ahmadinejad. Examples include: ‘To slaughter us/ why did you need to invite us / to such an elegant party” (Poem by Shamlu).’ ‘Hello! Hello! 999? / Our votes were stolen’ or ‘The Miracle of the Third Millenium: 2 x 2 = 24 millions’ (alluding to the claim by Government that Ahmadinejad obtained 24 million votes) , ‘Where is my vote?’, ‘Give me back my vote’ and many other. We arrived in Azadi Square where the entire square was full of population. It is said that around 500,000 people can be accommodated in this huge square and it was full. Suddenly we saw smoke from Jenah Freeway and heard the gunshot. People were scared at first but then went forward. I just heard the gunshots but my sister who had been on the scene at that part told me later that she saw 4 militia came out from a house and shot a girl. Then they shot a young boy in his eye and the bullet came out of his ear. She said that 4 people were shot. At least one person dead has been confirmed. People arrested one of the Baseeji militia but the three others ran away when they ran out of bullet. At around 8 we went back on foot. On the way back people were still in the street and were chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great). I was coming home at around 2 a.m. In parkway, I saw about ten buses full of armed riot police parked on the side of the street. Then I saw scattered militia in civil clothes with clubs in hand patroling the empty streets. In Tajrish Square, I saw a very young boy (around 16) with a club who was looking at the cars to see if he can find something to attack. I don’t know how and under what teachings can young boys change into militia. I came home. Tomorrow, people will gather again in Valiasr Square for another peaceful march toward the IRIB building which controls all the media and which spreads filthy lies. The day before Yesterday, Ahmadinejad had hold his victory ceremony. Government buses had transported all his supporters from nearby cities. There was full coverage of that ceremony where fruit juice and cake was plenty. A maximum of 100,000 had gathered to hear his speech. These included all the militia and the soldiers and all supporters he could gather by the use of free TV publicity. Today, at least 2 million came only relying on word of mouth while reformists have no newspaper, no radio, no TV. All their internet sites are filtered as well as social networks such as facebook. Text messaging and mobile communication was also cut off during the demonstration. Since yesterday, the Iranian TV was announcing that there is no license for any gathering and riot police will severely punish anybody who may demonstrates. Ahmadinejad called the opposition as a bunch of insignificant dirt who try to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. He also called the western leaders as a bunch of ‘filthy homosexuals’. All these disgusting remarks was today answered by that largest demonstration ever. Older people compared the demonstration of today with the Ashura Demonstration of 1979 which marks the downfall of the Shah regime and even said that it outnumbered that event. The militia burnt a house themselves to find the excuse to commit violence. People neutralized their tactic to a large degree by their solidarity, their wisdom and their denial to enage in any violent act. I feel sad for the loss of those young girls and boys. It is said that they also killed 3 students last night in their attack at Tehran University residence halls. I heard that a number of professors of Sharif University and AmirKabir University (Tehran Polytechnic) have resigned. Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tear in these early hours of Tuesday 16th June 2009, I glorify the courage and bravery of those martyrs and I hope that their blood will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights. Viva Freedom, Viva Democracy, Viva Iran.”
Ahmadinejad-Mousavi Debate
From: American Footprints By: Brian Ulrich

Last night, Iran started a series of six televised debates, each featuring two of the candidates in the country’s presidential election. The first, featuring Mehdi Karrubi and Mohsen Rezai, was apparently dull, with theories circulating that the two candidates agreed not to go after each other and instead simply present their positions.

Tonight, however, featured what analysts believe to be the top two candidates, incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former prime minister Mir Hussein Mousavi. Ahmadinejad took the chance to highlight how he is different from his predecessors:

“Ahmadinejad said he had rescued Iran from the denigrations caused by the corruption and foolhardy policies of his predecessors. He asked about the wealth of two-term president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his sons, and the numbers of billionaires created during that time – and noted that his ministers were humble and pious.

“He charged that reformist Mohamad Khatami’s two terms had been ones of capitulation to the West on the nuclear file, during which Iran had agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities and permit intrusive inspections.

“Mr. Khatami had helped Washington during the war and making peace in Afghanistan in 2001, but was nevertheless branded by Mr. Bush part of the ‘axis of evil.’ By contrast, Ahmadinejad claimed, his own uncompromising stance meant that even Bush eventually gave up thoughts of regime change – and that now Mr. Obama was willing to talk.”

Khatami serves as a target because of the nationalist foreign policy base Ahmadinejad is targetting, while Rafsanjani, whom Ahmadinejad defeated in the 2005 election, epitomizes for many the corruption of Iran’s elite. By linking Mousavi to a revolutionary old guard now seen as largely corrupt, Ahmadinejad hopes to dampen his populist credentials.

However, even though Ahmadinejad had promised to include criticism of the government Mousavi led as prime minister, so far I haven’t seen that he actually did so, limiting himself to accusations that Mousavi’s wife may have entered graduate school without taking the entrance exam. Why? The most likely reason is that Mousavi’s premiership, from 1981-1989, coincided with the presidency of current Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i. Because of this, Ahmadinejad apparently thinks it best to work by linkage to his two immediate predecessors.

Mousavi, however, feels free to deliver his punches:

“Former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of causing instability in Iran with ‘adventurism, heroics, and extremism.’ The hard-line president had ‘undermined the dignity of our nation’ with his caustic anti-West, anti-Israel and Holocaust-denying remarks, he added…

“In Wednesday’s nationally televised debate – the second of six, but the first one featuring Ahmadinejad – the president belittled the credentials of Mousavi’s wife, who is dean of a university. Mousavi charged that hundreds of books could no longer be republished; Ahmadinejad countered that he censored less than his predecessors. Mousavi said Ahmadinejad’s ‘method is leading to dictatorship.’

Mousavi also said:

“For the past four years you kept saying that the United States is collapsing. You have said Israel is collapsing. France is collapsing. Your foreign policies have been based on such illusional perceptions.”

Even with key parts of the government supporting him, Ahmadinejad has a tough road to re-election. He has to hope that the reformists stay cynical, or since that doesn’t seem to be working out, divided, and that his populist message from 2005 will resonate against someone other than the widely scorned Rafsanjani. All of that said, however, Iranian politics are notoriously difficult to predict.

For 26 years election has been hold in a different way. Votes have been counted at each voting center separately, and total number of votes along with the actual papers would have been sent to the center (My grandfather has been the head of one the centers in the last 30 years, and I was involved in counting in some of the elections too). Ahmadinejad changed that rule, VOTES ARE NOT COUNTED IN CENTERS ANYMORE, THEY ARE BEING SENT TO “STATE DEPARTMENT CENTER” AND BEING COUNTED BY AHMADINEJAD PEOPLE, AND NO ONE CAN SUPERVISE THAT. This is just simple fact and if you want evidence just ask anyone who has a very preliminary knowledge of vote counting in Iran. I was in Iran in almost every election in the last 30 years and you could predict the winner by 10-20% error margin. The votes of each center was available (at least to the people who know someone there) and the total trend would have made sense.
Now there are tons and tons of evidences that the numbers they reported only 1 hour after election (remember they to count 40 million vote in one center!) are totally fake, but Mr Kallen is going to give the benefit of the doubt to one of the worst dictator we’ve seen and make us believe the numbers are right and we should not ask any question! If the numbers are right why they do not report the exact detail or why they do not accept moosavis people supervise the counting?

Providence result

Who is the observer in the election
Rafsanjani & Ahmadinejad

Iran election turnouts exceeded 100% in 30 towns, website reports

At least 200 polling stations across Iran had participation rates of 95% or above, say sources of centrist Auyandeh site

Turnouts of more than 100% were recorded in at least 30 Iranian towns in last week’s disputed presidential election, opposition sources have claimed.

In the most specific allegations of rigging yet to emerge, the centrist Ayandeh website – which stayed neutral during the campaign – reported that 26 provinces across the country showed participation figures so high they were either hitherto unheard of in democratic elections or in excess of the number of registered electors.

Taft, a town in the central province of Yazd, had a turnout of 141%, the site said, quoting an unnamed “political expert”. Kouhrang, in Chahar Mahaal Bakhtiari province, recorded a 132% turnout while Chadegan, in Isfahan province, had 120%.

Ayandeh’s source said at least 200 polling stations across Iran recorded participation rates of 95% or above. “This is generally considered scientifically impossible because out of every given cohort of 20 voters, there will be at least one who is either ill, out of the country, has recently died or is unable to participate for some other reasons,” the source said. “It is also unprecedented in the history of Iran and all other democratic countries.”

The claims are impossible to verify, but they are consistent with comments made by a former Iranian interior minister, Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, who said on Tuesday that 70 polling stations returned more completed ballot papers than the number of locally eligible voters.

Supporters of the defeated reformist candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, have complained that their campaigns’ inspectors were refused access to or ejected from polling centres on election day.

Abbas Abdi, a Karoubi supporter who was among the radical students who took over the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, said some polling stations had run out of ballot papers as early as 10.30am – even though it is standard procedure to issue each voting centre with more ballots than the number of voters.

After polling times were extended beyond the original 6pm closing time, other stations refused to provide ballot papers for fear that participation would exceed the number of voters on the register, Abdi told Radio Zamaaneh, a Farsi-language station based in the Netherlands.

Iran expects ‘record’ turnout for presidential vote

Iran expects ‘record’ turnout for presidential vote AFP – Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi attend a campaign rally in Karaj on …

by Farhad Pouladi Farhad Pouladi – Mon Jun 8, 6:39 am ET

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran expects a record number of voters to cast their ballots in this week’s presidential election, the head of the country’s electoral committee said on Monday.

“Definitely, the election… will witness a record-breaking turnout,” Kamran Daneshjoo told reporters ahead of Friday’s vote.

Daneshjoo said the interior ministry, which is in charge of organising the election, is putting in place a strategy to ensure “maximum participation” from the 46.2 million eligible voters.

“Iranian people have shown their support of the revolution in different rallies, but on election day we will see the actual number of people who back their revolution,” he said.

He predicted turnout would be high “despite the propaganda of the arrogant nations (Western powers) who are undermining the election.”

Four candidates are in the race for the presidency, including incumbent hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second four-year term.

He faces a stiff challenge from moderate ex-premier Mir Hossein Mousavi who has emerged as his main rival.

The other two candidates are reformist former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and the conservative former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezai.

Daneshjoo gave no figure for the number of polling stations but said a total of 45,713 ballot boxes would be used for the vote, of which 14,258 would be in mobile polling stations to facilitate voting in places like hospitals and remote villages.

Polls will open at 8:00 am (0330 GMT) and close 10 hours later, unless turnout is exceptionally high and provincial governors secure ministry approval for an extension of voting hours.

“But the voting has to end at midnight as it is a one-day election,” Daneshjoo said.

If a clear winner does not emerge on June 12, the election will go to a second-round runoff on June 19.

To win outright in the first round, a candidate must secure 50 percent of the votes cast plus one vote.

In his upset victory in 2005, Ahmadinejad defeated heavyweight former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the runoff after trailing him in the first round.
Basiji who shot at demostrator exposed
Exposing Basij
The Identity of one of the Plain-cloths agents who used gun during Nov 4 protest in Tehran!!
The man at the end of this clip is his father, one of the highest ranked Revolutionary guard members… (Iranian regimes SS )
Iran electoral process facts
Mon, 08 Jun 2009 14:29:11 GMT

Head of Iran’s Electoral Office Kamran Daneshjou says that the results of the presidential vote will be announced within 24 hours of the election.

“I think that the final results will be announced within 24 hours, and we will announce the results while votes are being counted,” said Daneshjou.

He added that 45,713 ballot boxes had been prepared nationwide to receive the votes of the 46,200,000 eligible voters on Friday and that ballot boxes had been made available for Iranian expatriates in some 130 countries.

Daneshjou said that 32 polling stations would be ready to receive the votes of Iranians residing in the US and that the largest number of polling stations abroad will be in Iraq, where the mostly pilgrim Iranians will be catered for by 304 stations.

“The polls will open at 8 am on Friday, for ten hours,” Daneshjou said, but this could be extended at the request of local governors and with the approval of the Interior Minister.

According to Daneshjou, if one of the candidates receives 50 percent of the votes plus one vote in the first round and achieves absolute majority, then the election will be completed otherwise the two contenders with the most votes will face off in a second round the following Friday, June 19.

He described the campaign atmosphere as “passionate” and called on candidates to not exceed the bounds of probity.

Daneshjou said that participation in all previous presidential elections in Iran had been over 50 percent, which he described as “remarkable” compared with European and American countries. “This shows that the people like the system.”

“According to the existing forecasts, the turnout in this election will be very high,” he concluded.

The police officers in this frame appear to be doing nothing to stop the militia members.

Men hurl rocks at Mousavi supporters at Tehran University on June 14.

Two students hold a shirt that they say belonged to a student beaten by the militias.

Gun wailing Plaincloth Basij Tehran,friday pray 17 july

Basij in front of the Tehran University, July 17

“‘Republican leadership calls for Obama to condemn Iran’s election results and speak out for the demonstrators shows no knowledge of Iran whatsoever. If he did so, America would become the issue in Iran, not Ahmadinejad, and we would become the excuse and justification for spilling Iranian blood. These sniping remarks by Republican leaders also shows? they put pandering to their right wing above American national security. – Les Gelb.”

Ahmadinejad Heckled outside a Mosque

Basiji exposed

Basij on motocycle wearing mask

Basij on motocycle mixed with police

Basij attacks

Bajis hooded thug with baton

People in Fight with Plaing-cloths agents – August 24, 2009
27 Dec, 2009
Brave people of Tehran, fight back against the brutal anti-riot forces… 27 Dec 2009
The cowards on red bikes are basiji milits… who are scaping from the “Sea” of protesters

******* acts of vandilism
December 09, 2009
Attack of Isalmic Regime at protesters of Yazd, Iran. A truck full of Basijis on the back rams a motorcycle clipping it between the vehicle and the curb, sending the riders off the road. They both get away.

A Basij thug jumps on top of the car (0:51 – 1:02)

Eyewitnesses report this building close to Mir Hossein Moussavi’s Tehran headquarters was attacked by militia forces.

Riot police breakig car window at random
iranian police attacking houses

Breaking car windows

Basij throws a stone at the university student who is capturing their thugary – Polytechnic dept Tehran Univ

Paramilitary and plainclothes agent brutally attacked Isfahan University dormitory – June 2009

Iran-Destruction of public property by police

Invasion of private homes by Basij militia, throwing stones and congregating in the alley

Iranian Anti riot guards are intruding a private house and beating a person to death in tehran

Tehran THUG POLICE kicking doors

Eyewitnesses report this building close to Mir Hossein Moussavi’s Tehran headquarters was attacked by militia forces.

Government’s special soldiers attacked people’s houses in Saadat

Riot police breaking a car window

Iran after riot police attack in Tehran, the guy says they had an Arabic accent, when they got to the rooftop, they dismantled airconditioning units and threw them down. The guy shows a foot print of a the Basij’s boot on the door and the hing and locks that they damanged in order to get into the buildings. He gives a tour of broken residential doors despite being guarded by the metal cage. The guy is asked why they came on the rooftop in which he replies, since people shout anti-government slogans at night on their rooftops, perhaps that was an incentive for them to scare people not to do the same thing again. They had damanged and demolished all the AC units (summer time in Iran) and threw the satellite dishes to the backyard.
The man in the video explains that a group of “Arabic accented” riot police entered the building the night before, breaking glasses and doors and destroying the air-conditioning units on the roof top. They were probably after the people who chant slogans on the roof tops at night or wanted to destroy the satellite dishes (which are illegal). At his last sentence, he says that “we might need to get armed if this problem goes on like this…”

And this He says that the doors were locked in the building, as it is a purely residential buidling, and were kicked in. He then states that they would have tried to break in the doors, and you see the baton marks on one of the doors later, but people stood infront of them. He says that one of the women was pregnant and very scared, and lastly, he states that they threw one of the AC units from the roof and it crashed on top of a car. He states that there was a woman and a child inside the car and they got out and started running.

A young man who was shot dead when shouting Alaho Akbar, someone shouts they are using the live ammunation

Some news:

Dr Hejazi said he first thought the gunshot had come from a rooftop.

But later he saw protesters grab an armed man on a motorcycle.

“People shouted ‘we got him, we got him’. They disarmed him and took out his identity card which showed he was a Basij member. People were furious and he was shouting, ‘I didn’t want to kill her’.

“People didn’t know what do to do with