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August 9, 2008

Iran News Summary: August 8, 2008

The following daily news summary is provided courtesty of our coaltion partners at the Open Society Institute . . .

Study Cautions Against Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities, Washington Post, August 8, 2008

A military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would probably only delay the country’s progress toward nuclear-weapons capability, according to a study that concludes that such an attack could backfire by strengthening Tehran’s resolve to acquire the bomb. The analysis by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security found that Iran’s uranium facilities are too widely dispersed and protected — and, in some cases, concealed too well — to be effectively destroyed by warplanes. And any damage to the country’s nuclear program could be quickly repaired. “Iran would likely launch a ‘crash’ program to quickly obtain nuclear weapons,” Albright said in an interview. “An attack would likely leave Iran angry, more nationalistic, fed up with international inspectors and nonproliferation treaties, and more determined than ever to obtain nuclear weapons.” LINK

We’ll neutralize S-300 if sold to Iran, Jerusalem Post, August 8, 2008

If Russia goes through with the sale of its most advanced anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, Israel will use an electronic warfare device now under development to neutralize it and as a result present Russia as vulnerable to air infiltrations, a top defense official has told The Jerusalem Post. The Russian system, called the S-300, is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world today and has a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 27,000 meters. Mixed media reports have emerged recently regarding the possible delivery of the system to Iran. Two weeks ago Reuters quoted a senior Israeli official who said the system would be delivered to Iran by the end of the year. In response, the Pentagon released a statement rejecting the assessment and saying that the US did not believe Iran would get it in 2008. LINK

Drive for new Iran sanctions seen long and hard, Reuters, August 8, 2008

The United States and its Western allies are pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran but negotiations will drag on for months as Russia and China work hard to delay and water down any new measures. U.S. and British officials said Wednesday that six major powers had agreed to consider new sanctions against Iran after Tehran refused once again to freeze its nuclear activities, but Russia contradicted this, saying there was no firm agreement. With a U.S. election in November, if a new resolution goes through, there may be a new U.S. president in office when the council votes on it. Analysts also expect that it will most likely be a moderate toughening of previous penalties. Iran’s oil and gas industries remain off limits. LINK

EU Sets Sanctions on Iran, Inching Past UN Resolution, Bloomberg, August 8, 2008

European governments imposed new financial sanctions on Iran, inching beyond measures laid down in a United Nations resolution that punishes the country for pursuing a nuclear capability. Spurred by President George W. Bush, the European Union agreed to exercise “restraint” on new government backing for trade with Iran, going beyond the call for “vigilance” made by the UN Security Council in a resolution in March. EU governments “shall exercise restraint in entering into new commitments for public-provided financial support for trade with Iran, including the granting of export credits, guarantees or insurance,” the 27-nation bloc said in a statement on its Web site in Brussels early today. The European step is a prelude to a new UN showdown in which the U.S. and its European allies try to overcome Russian and Chinese resistance to a further ratcheting up of sanctions against Iran. The EU said it yesterday began enforcing the third set of UN sanctions, passed in March, that restrict public loans to support trade with Iran and mandate tougher inspection of cargo. LINK

Why Iran Won’t Budge on Nukes, Time, August 6, 2008

When U.S. officials appeal to the Iranian people over the heads of its regime, they like to assume that Tehran’s defiance on the nuclear issue reflects only the extremist position of an unrepresentative revolutionary leadership. Plainly, they haven’t met Dr. Akbar Etemad, who ran the nuclear program of the Shah’s regime, which was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The scientist who first launched Iran’s nuclear technology program under a U.S.-backed regime in 1974 today urges the regime that stripped him of his job to reject any international demand that it halt uranium enrichment. LINK

The Iranian Chess Game Continues,, August 8, 2008

Diplomacy between Iran and the United States has entered the opening gambit stage, and Iran appears to be winning at this point. The game began on July 19, when Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili met with European negotiators with an American diplomat, Undersecretary of State William J. Burns, present for the first time at such a meeting since the Iranian hostage crisis. So the Bush administration started with a big lie. At the time of the July meeting the press and the State Department announced that Iran had a two-week deadline to respond to the European proposals (the exact details of which remain secret, but which are presumed to include an extensive basket of technology, economic, and trade incentives). There was no such deadline. It appears to have been a fiction. However, this falsehood gave Washington and the press the opportunity on Aug. 2 to announce that Iran had “rejected” the deadline. The New York Times went so far as to call it an “informal deadline,” a head-scratching concept. LINK

Israel slams Turkey over Ahmadinejad plan to visit, Haaretz, August 8, 2008

Israel has officially protested against the planned visit of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Turkey next week. “Israel is disappointed that Turkey has invited for an official visit a leader who denies publicly the Holocaust, and thus grants him legitimacy,” was the message given to the Turkish ambassador to relay to his government. Iran’s president has sought an official invitation to Turkey for four years, but every time such a visit was scheduled, it was postponed. LINK

Iranian army deals heavy blow to PKK, Today’s Zaman, August 8, 2008

Eleven members of the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), the PKK’s Iranian offshoot, have been killed in recent operations by the Iranian military, sources told the Anatolia news agency. The 11 include two senior leaders of the group, according to the agency. Seventeen other PJAK members were captured in the operations. An unspecified number of PJAK members were also killed in Iranian shelling of PKK targets in the Kandil Mountains near the Iran-Iraq border on Tuesday evening. The Iranian operations came as the Turkish military stepped up its fight against the PKK in southeastern Anatolia. The Turkish army killed eight PKK terrorists in clashes over the weekend that followed a PKK attack that killed five state-backed village guards. LINK

Wall St rallies as oil’s slide spurs optimism, Reuters, August 8, 2008

U.S. stocks jumped on Friday as the U.S. dollar’s rally helped push oil prices down to nearly $116 a barrel, reducing inflation fears and improving prospects for stronger business and consumer spending. A slide of nearly $4 in U.S. crude oil prices overshadowed earlier news that Fannie Mae, the biggest buyer of U.S. home mortgages, had posted a steeper-than-expected quarterly loss, fueled by rising defaults. “We think that the general market is being moved along by the surprising strength of the dollar, which is exacerbating the slide in oil prices — so all positive for stocks,” said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist with Delta Global Advisors in Boston. LINK

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