Source: Land Destroyer - April 23, 2011
It is no secret that Syria has been marked for regime change for at least two decades. In a 2007 speech given by General Wesley Clark regarding what he called a US "policy coup," he relayed a 1991 conversation between himself and then Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz indicated that America had 5-10 years to clean up old Soviet "client regimes," namely Syria, Iran, and Iraq, before the next super power rose up to challenge western hegemony.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Clark was again passed plans drawn to implement regime change throughout the Middle East, specifically to attack and destroy the governments of 7 countries; Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Lebanon and Libya. In 2002, then US Under Secretary of State John Bolton, would add Syria to the growing "Axis of Evil."
In a recent CNN article, acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated, "We're not working to undermine that [Syrian] government. What we are trying to do in Syria, through our civil society support, is to build the kind of democratic institutions, frankly, that we're trying to do in countries around the globe. What's different, I think, in this situation is that the Syrian government perceives this kind of assistance as a threat to its control over the Syrian people."
Toner's remarks come after the Washington Post released cables indicating the US has been funding Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005 under the Bush administration and was continued under Obama. To suggest America is promoting any conceivable form of democracy in Syria, when it itself is ruled by a monopolistic corporate oligarchy within which special interest driven agendas transcend presidential administrations is tenuous if not scandalous. It is quite clear that Wolfowitz' agenda back in 1991 had long ago leaped from the drawing board and into practice, undermining the Syrian government through sanctions and seditious, foreign funded "civil society" networks.
What has ensued in Syria during the also admittedly US-funded "Arab Spring" is a puppet show of sorts, where Obama feigns surprise and confusion over what to do about Syria's unrest. As the violence escalates, the propagandists predictably argue that Obama is doing "nothing" as Syrians yearn for "true democracy and freedom." Undeniably, however, the US has fueled the unrest from the very beginning and most certainly is far from doing "nothing."
In a recent AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, stated that the "US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments." The report went on to explain that the US "organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there." Posner would add, "They went back and there's a ripple effect."
Revolutions Mystery Gunmen
Imagine you are an embattled regime fighting against a rising tide of foreign-funded protesters. The entire world is watching, one nation is already under creeping foreign invasion for "waging war against his own people," your nation has been warned that it is next and has been on a 20 year waiting list for regime change, and your opposition is gathering to bury dead protesters from a recent clash with security forces. What do you do?
Stage concealed snipers in multiple buildings and randomly shoot at mourners ensuring a very public, internationally sensationalized bloodbath that will unequivocally escalate both the protests and international pressure? Bashar al-Assad's regime hasn't ruled Syria for so long because they were careless or foolish. And while regimes could stay in power decades ago through unyielding brutality, often sanctioned by tacitly complicit western partners, regimes today realize the value of finesse and accountability in a new age of humanitarian-justified imperialism.
Source: AFP/Yahoo - April 22, 2011
US President Barack Obama condemned Syria's "outrageous" use of violence, accusing the regime of seeking Iran's aid in a brutal month-long crackdown that left over 70 people dead Friday.
Obama also dismissed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's move to scrap the emergency rule imposed by the ruling Baath Party when it seized power in 1963 and allow for peaceful demonstrations as "not serious" in light of the violence against protesters.
"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators. This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now," Obama said in a statement.
"We call on President Assad to change course now, and heed the calls of his own people."
He denounced the Assad regime's use of force and "outrageous human rights abuses," saying it had chosen to reject the rights and aspirations of the Syrian people.
[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]
"Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by his Iranian allies," Obama added.
"We strongly oppose the Syrian government's treatment of its citizens and we continue to oppose its continued destabilizing behavior more generally, including support for terrorism and terrorist groups."
Source: Reuters - April 8, 2011
Three gas pipelines have exploded in an Iranain province south of the capital Tehran, a news agency reported Friday, saying the cause was unknown and giving no details of damage or casualties.
"The National Iranian Gas Company's (NIGC) operation and rescue teams along with other governmental organizations are present at the scene and are investigating the reason for the explosion," the semi-official Mehr news agency said. The explosions happened in the province of Qom in northern-central Iran.
The report comes two months after a similar incident in the same area. on February 11, media reported simultaneous explosions on three gas pipelines near the city of Qom. An NIGC spokesman said at the time that "technical problems were not the cause" of the blasts but gave no further explanation.
Officials were not immediately available for comment.
The pipelines carry gas from refineries in southern Iran to the north and north-west, Mehr said.
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Source: AP - February 26, 2011
In a major setback to Iran's nuclear program, technicians will have to unload fuel from the country's first atomic power plant because of an unspecified safety concern, a senior government official said.
The vague explanation raised questions about whether the mysterious computer worm known as Stuxnet might have caused more damage at the Bushehr plant than previously acknowledged. Other explanations are possible for unloading the fuel rods from the reactor core of the newly completed plant, including routine technical difficulties.
While the exact reason behind the fuel's removal is unclear, the admission is seen as a major embarrassment for Tehran because it has touted Bushehr — Iran's first atomic power plant — as its showcase nuclear facility and sees it as a source of national pride. When the Islamic Republic began loading the fuel just four months ago, Iranian officials celebrated the achievement.
Iran's envoy to the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency in Vienna said that Russia, which provided the fuel and helped construct the Bushehr plant, had demanded the fuel be taken out.
"Upon a demand from Russia, which is responsible for completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant, fuel assemblies from the core of the reactor will be unloaded for a period of time to carry out tests and take technical measurements," the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Ali Asghar Soltanieh as saying. "After the tests are conducted, (the fuel) will be placed in the core of the reactor once again."
Foreign intelligence reports have said the control systems at Bushehr were penetrated by the malware — malicious software designed to infiltrate computer systems — but Iran has all along maintained that Stuxnet was only found on several laptops belonging to plant employees and didn't affect the facility's control systems.
Some computer experts believe Stuxnet was the work of Israel or the United States, two nations convinced that Iran wants to turn nuclear fuel into weapons-grade uranium.
The Islamic Republic is reluctant to acknowledge setbacks to its nuclear activities, which it says are aimed at generating energy but are under U.N. sanctions because of concerns they could be channeled toward making weapons. Only after outside revelations that its enrichment program was temporarily disrupted late last year by Stuxnet did Iranian officials acknowledge the incident.
Source: World Bulletin - December 19, 2010
The price of gasoline in Iran rose four-fold on Sunday while a heavy police presence ensured there was no repeat of rioting seen the last time the government restricted access to heavily subsidised fuel.
Motorists had been expecting the rise for the last three months as part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policy to phase out subsidies on essentials like energy, food and water, so the midnight price hike was accepted with grim resignation.
"Are people happy? Sure, the Iranian people always welcome high prices," said one employee at a Tehran petrol station, raising an eyebrow to emphasise the sarcasm.
Reuters witnesses saw a heavy police presence at several gas stations on Saturday night as Ahmadinejad announced the start of the subsidy reform plan on a television programme.
But, unlike in 2007, when riots erupted when cheap fuel rationing was introduced, there were no reports of trouble and things were calm on Sunday, a busy business day in Iran.
Ahmadinejad told the nation that the subsidy cuts would reduce wasteful consumption, save the state money and reduce the unfairness whereby richer people, who spend more, benefit more from subsidised prices than the poor.
"Fears over inflation"
But some politicians warned that any leap in overall inflation due to the subsidy reform could be disastrous and some motorists said they would no longer be able to afford to drive.
"I won't be able to use my car from now on with these high prices," said a 56-year-old Tehrani, filling his Pride, a compact made by Iran's Saipa, based on the South Korean Kia model, which is the car of choice for middle-income Iranians.
"As we don't have a good public transportation system it won't be easy for people. It will be better for me to stay at home," he said.
Up until Sunday, subsidies had allowed Iranians -- who see cheap fuel in the oil-rich country as a birthright -- to pay just 1,000 rials (about 10 U.S. cents) per litre for the first 60 litres they buy per month. Beyond that they paid 4,000 rials per litre.
The price hike pushed the 60-litre ration price up to 4,000 rials and the higher price to 7,000 rials.
At a Tehran gas station, a hired driver was filling up his boss's BMW, which, as a high-powered imported luxury brand, did not qualify for the subsidised fuel even before the cuts.
"I am just a driver, the new prices will change nothing for the owner of this car, but what should a person like me do?" said the 48-year-old who, like many Iranians, preferred not to be identified by name in the foreign media.
The government has denied that the current inflation rate of around 10 percent will soar due to the subsidy cuts which will also increase prices of utility bills and food items including wheat flour, the key ingredient of Iranians' staple, bread.
The subsidy cut has been discussed by politicians for years and is finally being implemented.
Source: The Telegraph - November 30, 2010
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, confirmed on Monday night that a computer worm affected centrifuges in the country's uranium enrichment programme.
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, confirm last night that a computer worm affected centrifuges in the country's uranium enrichment programme.
Iran has previously denied the Stuxnet worm, which experts say is calibrated to destroy centrifuges, had caused any damage, saying they uncovered it before it could have any effect.
But President Ahmadinejad said it "managed to create problems for a limited number of our centrifuges".
Earlier in November, U.N. inspectors found Iran's enrichment program temporarily shut down, according to a recent report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The extent and cause of the shutdown were not known, but speculation fell on Stuxnet.
John Bolton: Russia's Loading of Nuke Fuel Into Iran Plant Means Aug. 21 Deadline for Israeli Attack
Source: News Max
News that Russia will load nuclear fuel rods into an Iranian reactor has touched off a countdown to a point of no return, a deadline by which Israel would have to launch an attack on Iran's Bushehr reactor before it becomes effectively "immune" to any assault, says former Bush administration U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton.
Once the fuel rods are loaded, Bolton told Fox News on Friday afternoon, "it makes it essentially immune from attack by Israel. Because once the rods are in the reactor an attack on the reactor risks spreading radiation in the air, and perhaps into the water of the Persian Gulf."
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared in March that Russia would start the Bushehr reactor this summer. But the announcement from a spokesman for Russia's state atomic agency to Reuters Friday sent international diplomats scrambling to head off a crisis.
The story immediately became front-page news in Israel, which has laid precise plans to carry out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities while going along with President Obama's plans to use international sanctions and diplomatic persuasion to convince Iran's clerics not to go nuclear.
Bolton made it clear that it is widely assumed that any Israeli attack on the Bushehr reactor must take place before the reactor is loaded with fuel rods.
"If they're going to do it that's the window that they have," Bolton declared. "Otherwise as I said before, once the rods are in the reactor, if you attack the reactor you're going to open it up and radiation will escape at least into the atmosphere and possibly into the waters of the Persian Gulf.
"So most people think that neither Israel nor the United States, come to that, would attack the reactor after it's been fueled."
Bolton cited the 1981 Israeli attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor outside Baghdad and the September 2007 Israeli attack on a North Korean reactor being built in Syria. Both of those strikes came before fuel rods were loaded into those reactors.
"So if it's going to happen in Bushehr it has to happen before the fuel rods go in," Bolton said.
The conversation that touched off the de facto deadline for Israeli military action was a telephone conversation with wire services involving Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Rosatom, the Russian Energy State Nuclear Corp.
Novikov said: "The fuel will be loaded on Aug 21. This is the start of the physical launch” of the reactor.
"From that moment the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear-energy installation," Novikov said, adding that the head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, will visit Bushehr Aug. 21 to conduct a ceremony for the event.
According to Bolton, once the reactor is operational, it is only a matter of time before it begins producing plutonium that could be used in a nuclear weapon.
"And in the normal operation of this reactor, in just a fairly short period of time, you could get substantial amounts of plutonium to use as nuclear weapons," Bolton told Fox.
Russia, which is operating under a $1 billion contract with Iran, has spent more than a decade building the reactor. If Russia moves forward with its plan to fuel the reactor, it could be seen as a major setback to the Obama administration's strategy of engaging Russian leaders in order to win their cooperation.
"The U.S. urged them not to send the Iranian's fuel rods," Bolton said. "They did that. The Obama administration has urged them not to insert the fuel rods in the reactors, but as they've just announced that will begin next week. What that does over time is help Iran get another route to nuclear weapons through the plutonium they could reprocess out of the spent fuel rods."
The developments mean Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon may face a stark choice: Attack the Bushehr reactor in the next 8 days, or allow it to become operational despite the certainty it would greatly enhance Iran's ability to create nuclear weapons.
Russian leaders have said the Bushehr reactor project is being closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog group. According to Iran's ISNA news agency, IAEA inspectors will be on hand to observe the fuel-rod loading process that is now scheduled to begin Aug. 21.
According to Russian officials, Iran has promised in writing to send all spent fuel rods from Bushehr back to Russia for reprocessing, to ensure they cannot be used for nuclear weapons.
Bolton said the reactor has been "a hole" in American foreign policy for over a decade.
The failure to demand it be shut down began in the Bush years, he said, and continues with the Obama administration "under what I believe is the mistaken theory that Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of nuclear energy."
"I don't think Iran is entitled to that, or I don't think we ought to allow it to happen, because they're manifestly violating any number of obligations under the non-proliferation treaty not to seek nuclear weapons. But this has been a hole in American policy for some number of years, and Iran and Russia are obviously exploiting it," Bolton said.
Russia’s move would put Iran "in a much better position overall," he said, adding, "I think this is a very delicate point, as I say, it closes off to the Israelis one possible target for pre-emptive military action.
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