25 März 2007

Sicherheitsrat beschließt weitere Sanktionen

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 — The United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed Saturday to impose new, more stringent sanctions to press Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and rejoin negotiations over its nuclear program. All 15 members of the Security Council adopted the sanctions, Resolution 1747, which focus on constraining Iranian arms exports, the state-owned Bank Sepah — already under Treasury Department sanctions — and the Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military organization separate from the nation’s conventional armed forces.

No surprises were in the resolution, which modestly strengthens largely financial sanctions adopted in December in a first, limited resolution. Senior American officials hailed the new resolution as a significant international rebuke to Iran, and they predicted that the new resolution’s prohibitions on dealings with 15 individuals and 13 organizations would leave Tehran more isolated.

In order to assure a unanimous vote that would symbolize united world opinion against Iran’s nuclear ambitions, lengthy negotiations continued through Friday on a series of amendments from three of the Security Council’s nonpermanent members, South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar. Their votes were seen as particularly important, because South Africa is a leader of the nonaligned movement, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and Qatar is a Gulf neighbor of Iran. The Security Council representatives of those three nations each expressed deep concerns about the final language of the sanctions resolution, but eventually cast yes votes.

The sanctions package approved Saturday, American officials said, was devised to do more than simply punish Iran for its nuclear program, as was the more limited goal of the sanctions vote in December. The new language was written to rein in what they see as Tehran’s ambitions to become the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf and across the broader Middle East.

“We are trying to force a change in the actions and behavior of the Iranian government,” said R. Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs. “And so the sanctions are immediately focused on the nuclear weapons research program, but we also are trying to limit the ability of Iran to be a disruptive and violent factor in Middle East politics.”

The resolution calls for freezing the overseas assets of the 15 Iranian citizens and 13 organizations, some involved in the nation’s nuclear programs and missile development efforts and some associated with the Revolutionary Guard. The new resolution prohibits the sale or transfer of Iranian weapons to any nation or organization, and calls on the nations of the world to “exercise vigilance and restraint” in exporting weapons to Iran. The measure invokes Chapter 7, Article 41, of the United Nations charter, rendering most of the provisions mandatory, but excluding military action to enforce them. The sanction on Iran’s fourth-largest bank was written to halt its use as a conduit for money supporting Iran’s nuclear program.

Welche Auswirkungen das schärfere Sanktionsprogramm, welchem auch Russland und China zugestimmt haben, auf den Iran haben wird, bleibt abzuwarten. Sicherlich werden sich im Iran aber die kritischen Stimmen dem Präsidenten gegenüber mehren und die zunehmende Isolation in der Weltgemeinschaft ist dem Handel und Pflegen von Geschäftsbeziehungen nicht förderlich.

27 Februar 2007

Kritik an Ahmadinedschads Haltung wächst im Iran

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came under fire from domestic critics yesterday for his uncompromising stance on the nuclear issue as the US and Britain launched a new diplomatic effort to agree harsher UN sanctions they hope will force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment.

Mohammad Atrianfar, a respected political commentator, accused the president of using "the language of the bazaar" and said his comments had made it harder for Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise with European diplomats. The president made global headlines at the weekend by declaring that his country's quest for nuclear energy was an unstoppable train, adding to the sense of crisis as emergency talks got under way in London yesterday.

Critics from across the Iranian political spectrum took him to task for his "no brakes or reverse gear" remarks, bolstering claims in the west that his hardline position may be starting to backfire. "This rhetoric is not suitable for a president and has no place in diplomatic circles," said Mr Atrianfar, a confidant of Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential regime insider and rival of Mr Ahmadinejad. "It is the language people in the bazaar and alleyways use to address the simplest issues of life."

"The brake exists to get the train safely to its destination," Mr Zahed wrote in the newspaper Etemad-e Melli. "Perhaps on the journey, we might find the track broken and are obliged to move our passengers by using the reverse gear to get to a safer track. Iran is a nation of earthquakes, flood and national disasters! You are our head. We should be able to trust you." Even the fundamentalist newspaper Resalat, usually a supporter of Mr Ahmadinejad, was critical. "Neither weakness nor inexperience and unnecessary rhetorical aggression is acceptable in our foreign policy," it said.

Wenn jetzt selbst von ansonsten treuen Anhängern Kritik an Ahmadinedschads Rhetorik gegenüber dem Rest der Welt geübt wird, scheint die Luft um ihn merklich dünner zu werden.

10 Februar 2007

Weniger technische Unterstützung für den Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday that it had suspended 22 of its 55 technical aid programs with Iran, giving Washington a modest victory in its efforts to isolate Tehran internationally in the hope of curbing its nuclear ambitions. The agency, in a report to its board, said it had also suspended a number of lesser activities, including three fellowships, participation in a training course and procurement of 15 pieces of equipment. Washington objected to the programs and projects as aiding Tehran’s nuclear efforts, which like many around the world could have military as well as civilian uses.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the agency, based in Vienna, denounced the suspensions as “a very dangerous game” that would have no impact on its disputed nuclear program. Rather, he said in an interview, they will undermine the atomic energy agency’s authority and many countries’ desire to join it. “This is a negative message to developing countries,” Mr. Soltanieh said. “It will put in jeopardy their incentive to become members” of the agency and the treaty that seeks to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.

The United States lobbied hard to have the nuclear agency cut roughly in half its 55 programs of technical aid to Iran, but it faced stiff opposition. Developing countries feared that the cuts would set a bad precedent that could threaten their own aid. An American official said Washington’s position on the disputed projects was similar to that of Britain, France and Germany.

On Friday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency’s director, issued a report to its 35-nation board detailing the suspensions called for by the Security Council. It said Iran participated in 55 projects, including 15 individual and 40 regional and interregional endeavors. It further said the agency’s secretariat had determined that cooperation should continue for 33 projects but end for 22 others, including ones meant to aid Iran’s development of nuclear power, its radiation processing of metals and plastics and its improvement of atomic management and strategic planning.

Mr. Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the agency, said the suspensions would be likely to have large political repercussions and strengthen the hand of those Iranians who wanted to cut off all cooperation with the atomic agency. “This will give ammunition to those who are putting pressure on the government,” he said. “This whole thing is making a more poisonous environment.”

Ein sehr zweischneidiges Schwert, die Projekte auf Eis zu legen. Sicherlich ist es eine symbolische Botschaft an den Iran, seine Ambitionen zu überdenken, andererseits verliert die IAEO dadurch an Kontrolle über Irans nukleare Bestrebungen.

04 Februar 2007

Ahmadinedschad- ein orientalischer Prahlhans?

After decades of largely clandestine efforts, Iran is expected to declare in coming days that it has made a huge leap toward industrial-scale production of enriched uranium — a defiant act that the country’s leaders will herald as a major technical stride and its neighbors will denounce as a looming threat. But for now, many nuclear experts say, the frenetic activity at the desert enrichment plant in Natanz may be mostly about political showmanship. The many setbacks and outright failures of Tehran’s experimental program suggest that its bluster may outstrip its technical expertise. And the problems help explain American intelligence estimates that Iran is at least four years away from producing a nuclear weapon.

What the Iranians are not talking about, experts with access to the atomic agency’s information say, is that their experimental effort to make centrifuges work has struggled to achieve even limited success and appears to have been put on the back burner so the country’s leaders can declare that they are moving to the next stage.
To enrich uranium on an industrial scale, the machines must spin at very high speeds for months on end. But the latest report of the atomic agency, issued in November, said the primitive machines of the Iran’s pilot plant ran only intermittently, to enrich small amounts of uranium. And the Iranians succeeded in setting up just two of the planned six groupings of 164 centrifuges at the pilot plant. “It looks political unless they’ve made progress that we don’t know about,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a weapons analysis group in London.

Iran’s nuclear boasts come in the midst of an increasingly rancorous chess game between Tehran’s mullahs and the Bush administration over the aims of Iran’s nuclear programs, its role in Iraq and its ambitions to become the dominant power in the Middle East. The speculation about imminent conflict has grown so strong that President Bush’s new secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, who is intimately familiar with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions from his days as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, declared on Friday, “We are not planning for a war with Iran.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has become the face of Iranian defiance, is under growing pressure at home because of unemployment and the squeeze of economic sanctions — and President Bush’s advisers have said he may view a nuclear standoff with the United States as a way to help his standing. That, combined with evidence of problems at the pilot plant, suggest that the industrial push may be aimed as much at enriching Iran’s political leverage as enriching uranium. The Iranians insist their effort is solely to fuel nuclear reactors, a statement that in the recent words of R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, “no country that has seriously looked at the evidence believes.”

Nicht nur, daß Ahmadinedschad innnenpolitisch unter Druck steht, auch sein offensichtliches Streben, aus dem Iran eine atomar bewaffnete Großmacht zu machen, scheint technologisch gesehen auf tönernen Füßen zu stehen. Daher bestehen seine Drohungen, insbesondere gegenüber Israel, auch viel aus Kraftmeierei und Großmannssucht, also aus heißer Luft.

02 Februar 2007

Iran spielt weiter mit verdeckten Karten

Iran has refused to let U.N. inspectors set up cameras at an underground plant where it is set to begin installing 3,000 centrifuges for full-scale enrichment of nuclear fuel, diplomats said on Friday. Tehran is expected to announce the major escalation in its uranium enrichment drive during Islamic Revolution anniversary celebrations running until February 11, jacking up tensions with Western powers which pushed through U.N. sanctions against it.

Iran's reported refusal to allow the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to hook up cameras in the subterranean centrifuge hall at Natanz is not illegal as long as nuclear activity has not yet begun. But Tehran's move, following a ban on 38 of 200 inspectors designated to work in Iran, would up the ante in a showdown with Western powers and underline resentment over their bid to halt a nuclear program Iranian officials insist is entirely peaceful.

Vienna-based diplomats familiar with IAEA operations said Iran blocked inspectors earlier this week from installing surveillance cameras in the Natanz underground complex. ``Iran is not breaking its (non-proliferation) Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA here because nuclear activity has not begun in the plant,'' a diplomat told Reuters. ``But their behavior reflects the rising tensions. They have no incentive to be transparent since they feel the U.N. (sanctions) resolution is illegal, and they seem to want to approve these cameras as part of a negotiated settlement.''

The 3,000 centrifuges, if run nonstop for long periods in interlinked cascades that conduct the fuel production cycle, could yield enough fuel for one atom bomb within a year. The 3,000 are envisaged as the first stage of a planned 54,000. But analysts say Iran has yet to prove it can smoothly operate two cascades of 164 centrifuges each in Natanz's pilot wing, let along the many more cascades it would need to run in tandem underground to enrich more than token amounts of uranium.

Still, the United States and Israel have voiced concern that 3,000 centrifuges will bring Iran to the nuclear ``point of no return,'' and have prompted talk about pre-emptive military strikes on Tehran if sanctions do not halt its activity.

Wieder einmal läßt sich der Iran nicht in die Karten gucken und gibt zu Spekulationen Anlaß. Ob es Nationalstolz ist, der dieses Verhalten begründet, oder tatsächlich die Absicht waffenfähiges Uran zu produzieren, bleibt bisjetzt unklar.

23 Januar 2007

Druck auf Ahmadinedschad im Iran nimmt zu

Iranische Parlamentarier haben Präsident Ahmadinedschad Abenteurertum und Marktschreierei vorgeworfen. Auch die Medien erhöhen den Druck auf den Präsidenten. Der iranische Präsident Mahmud Ahmadinedschad ist wegen seiner Außenpolitik und seiner scharfen Rhetorik im Parlament offen kritisiert worden. Der Abgeordnete Achbar Alami, der nach Medienberichten im Namen der Parlamentarier sprach, warf Ahmadinedschad am Dienstag «Abenteurertum und Marktschreierei» vor. Dies führe nur zu «negativen und harten Reaktionen verschiedener Länder und internationaler Organisationen», sagte Alami nach Angaben der Nachrichtenagentur ISNA.

Alami kritisierte auch die von Ahmadinedschad initiierte Holocaust-Konferenz. Die Konferenz habe keinen Sinn gehabt und dem Westen nur einen neuen Grund gegeben, den Iran zu verurteilen, erklärte der Abgeordnete.

Ahmadinedschad war wegen seiner Atompolitik in den vergangenen Tagen bereits in Medien kritisiert worden. So hieß es in der Zeitung «Hamschahri», eine diplomatische Lösung im Atomstreit habe sich angebahnt. Ahmadinedschad habe dies jedoch mit seiner schroffen Rhetorik wieder zunichte gemacht.

Der Iran kritisierte unterdessen die Einigung der Europäischen Union auf Sanktionen gegen das Land wegen des Atomstreits als «unlogisch» und rief die EU am Dienstag zu einer Fortsetzung von Verhandlungen über das nationale Atomprogramm auf.

Ahmadinedschad scheint sich mehr und mehr zu einer "lame duck" zu entwickeln. Eine ähnliche Regression durchläuft zur Zeit der amerikanische Präsident.

22 Januar 2007

Ahmadinedschad innenpolitisch unter Druck

TEHRAN, Jan. 18 — Iran’s outspoken president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appears to be under pressure from the highest authorities in Iran to end his involvement in its nuclear program, a sign that his political capital is declining as his country comes under increasing international pressure. Just one month after the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran to curb its nuclear program, two hard-line newspapers, including one owned by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on the president to stay out of all matters nuclear. In the hazy world of Iranian politics, such a public rebuke was seen as a sign that the supreme leader — who has final say on all matters of state — might no longer support the president as the public face of defiance to the West.

In another sign of pressure on the president to distance himself from the nuclear issue, a second newspaper, run by an aide to the country’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, also pressed Mr. Ahmadinejad to end his involvement in the nuclear program. Mr. Larijani also ran for president and was selected for his post by the supreme leader.

“They want to minimize the consequences of sanctions now that they have been imposed,” said Mohammad Atrianfar, an executive at the daily Shargh, which was closed last fall, and a reformist politician. “But they don’t have clear strategy, and they are taking one step at a time.”

That pressure has continued, and the criticism now seems to have gained more credibility in the face of the sanctions and Iran’s troubled economic standing. The United States increased pressure on Iran over its role in Iraq has also raised concerns in Tehran and may be behind efforts to restrain the president, political analysts in Tehran said. “The resolution has decreased Iran’s political credibility in the international community, and so other countries cannot defend Iran,” said Ahmad Shirzad, a reformist politician and a former legislator.

About 50 legislators signed a letter this week calling on the president to appear before Parliament to answer questions about the nuclear program. They need at least 22 more signatures. In another letter, 150 lawmakers criticized the president for his economic policies, which have led to a surge in inflation, and for his failure to submit his annual budget on time. The Iranian stock market, which was already in a slump, continued to decline — falling more rapidly in the past month — as buyers stayed away from the market. The daily Kargozaran reported last week that the number of traders had decreased by 46 percent since the Security Council resolution was passed.

Kargozaran reported that a group of powerful businessmen, the Islamic Coalition Party, met with Mohammad Nahavandian, a senior official at the Supreme National Security Council, and called for moderation in the country’s nuclear policies to prevent further damage to the economy. In the past year, several major European banks have severed their business ties with Iran. Economists say the banks’ actions will also lead to an increase in inflation because importers must turn to complicated ways to finance purchases.

Einmal mehr macht dies deutlich, daß Ahmadinedschads Macht im Westen allzu oft über- und die Vernunft des iranischen Volkes unterschätzt wird.