September 9, 2007


Iran Denies Plans to Build Atomic Bomb (NASSER KARIMI, 9/09/07, Associated Press)

Iran's supreme leader on Sunday denied his country had any plans to build atomic weapons, but the president insisted the nuclear program itself was not negotiable.

Speaking to an audience of Revolutionary Guards, the elite military unit that answers directly to him, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a rare direct statement that Iran is not interested in nuclear weapons.

"While the Iranian nation has no atomic bomb and has no plans to create this deadly weapon, it is still a respected nation" for its spiritual and revolutionary values, he told the Guards whose leader he had just replaced.

Iranian Public Ready to Deal on Nuclear Weapons, But Not Uranium Enrichment (World Public Opinion)
A new poll by sponsored by Terror Free Tomorrow and conducted by D3 Systems shows that a slight majority of Iranians (52%) believe their country should develop nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, overwhelming majorities support a deal under which Iran would provide “full inspections and a guarantee not to develop or possess nuclear weapons” in exchange for incentives, including:

• trade and capital investment overall to create more jobs (favored by 80%)
• trade and capital investment in energy refineries to lower the price of gasoline (79%)
• medical, education and humanitarian assistance to Iranian people in need (80%)
• technological assistance for developing peaceful nuclear energy (80%)

A slight majority (51%) would also be willing to offer “full transparency by Iran to assure there are no Iranian endeavors to develop or possess nuclear weapons” as part of a process of normalizing relations with the United States.

Iranians are not ready to negotiate away their nuclear energy program, however. In the Terror Free Tomorrow (TFT) poll an extraordinarily high 92 percent approves (78% strongly) of Iran’s effort to develop nuclear energy.

Iran says Russia committed to finishing nuclear plant (AFP, 9/07/07)
Iran said on Thursday that Russia remains committed to completing construction of its first nuclear power plant, despite strings of delays and setbacks, state media reported.

"During our latest discussion, Russian officials assured us that they are committed to completing this power plant," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster's website.

"We will emphasise this in next month's visit by (President Vladimir) Putin to Tehran," he added without elaborating.

Alleged Israeli flyover of Syria raising questions (Laurie Copans, 9/08/07, Associated Press)
Israel's air force may have been testing an air path to Iran, in case it decides to carry out an attack against that country's nuclear facilities, analysts said.

The corridor of northern Syria where the aircraft allegedly flew over is the closest straight line from the Mediterranean Sea, where Israel has easy access, to Iran. The area is separated from Iran only by Iraqi Kurdistan, a region whose rulers would almost surely allow either Israel or the United States to fly over.

Such a route is far from the safest, as Israel could also reach Iran through the friendly airspace of Turkey or Jordan, if they agreed. Even so, analysts said Israel would want to consider all options.

Israel says it prefers to let the international community confront Iran's nuclear ambitions, but a lone Israeli attack is not out of the question. The country sees Iran, whose president has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, as an existential threat. Iran insists its nuclear program is for energy, not weapons.

"Of course Israel wants to let the Americans do that," said Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. "But if we are left alone, the Israeli army is preparing to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat - if the political level allows it to - and this could have been a part of that."

The shape of the deal is obvious enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2007 9:12 AM
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