Monday, January 30, 2006

Iran: "Information Circular 665" about its nuclear activities

Below are excerpts (and a link to the full text) of a document sent by Iran to the IAEA last week. The document tries to recap the major developments and facts related to the ongoing negotiations about its nuclear activities.
One of the goals of the document is to fight the bias and the politicization that surrounds the discussions and media coverage of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Because in fact, a week later, I have yet to find any mention of it in the media, I am publishing some excerpts here. The full document was posted on the IAEA's website on January 24th, 2006.

  • Iran is committed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
    "Islamic Republic of Iran, as the main victim of chemical weapons has always been among the most active member states of international organizations such as the IAEA and OPCW entrusted in combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Iran attaches great importance to international cooperation in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation[...] specially establishment of Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Middle East[.]
    Islamic Republic of Iran is fully committed to the principles of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and the nuclear weapons option is not in Iran's Defense Doctrine".

  • Iran is cooperating with the IAEA on its nuclear program
    "During the last 27 years the Islamic Republic of Iran has spared no effort in cooperating with the Agency as far as its commitments under the NPT is concerned. Iran is the only Member State which voluntarily invited, in late 80s, the IAEA safeguard inspectors, headed by the DDG, to visit all sites and facilities at their discretion, even those locations not declarable under the Safeguards Agreement.
    Islamic Republic of Iran is the only Member State that is implementing the Additional Protocol prior to ratification by its legislative body.
    Iran has proactively cooperated with the Agency in an extraordinary manner during the last two years with almost continuous inspections, amount to over 1400 man-day inspection, which is unprecedented in the history of the IAEA."

  • Iran re-states that its decision to suspend enrichment activities in 2003 was voluntary and non-binding
    "In order to give the IAEA chance to conduct technical activities proving that the allegations [of high level uranium enrichment for weapons] are baseless and with the aim of decreasing the political tension, Iran voluntarily decided to suspend its enrichment activities.
    There has always been consensus in the IAEA, particularly in the Board of Governors, that the suspension of enrichment activities is voluntary, non-legally binding measure. This essential non-legally binding parameter has been reflected in Tehran and Paris Agreements between Iran and EU3/EU as well as all decisions, conclusions and even resolutions of the Board of Governors."
  • Iran is trying to restore evenhandedness in the coverage of the issue
    "[The document] reveals the facts confirming the exclusive nature of Iranian nuclear program and activities and full cooperation with international community. It also shows that the international has been, to a great extent misled with bias, politicized and exaggerated information on Iranian nuclear programs and activities.
    [...] While appreciating the tremendous constructive work by the IAEA,[...] Iran has however serious concerns about the misunderstandings, confusions, misperceptions and the underestimation of great progress so far made on political grounds."
Iran explains that the voluntary suspension of the uranium enrichment was offered by Iran to ease political tensions while investigating the traces of highly enriched uranium found in Natanz.
It also explains that the conclusions of this investigation have confirmed that the HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium) particles were not from Iran, but due to prior contamination of the centrifuge outside of Iran.
Therefore, Iran argues that there is no reason to maintain the suspension on enrichment activities.
"After more than two and a half years of voluntary suspension, the triggering issue of contamination being resolved, there is no reason for Iranian Government to further deprive its nation from its inalienable right in doing research. The Agency was thus informed on 3 January 2006 that it will resume R&D as 10 January 2006, and requested the Agency to conduct timely and necessary preparations. Iran reiterated that such activities will be conducted in accordance with the Safeguards agreement of Iran with the IAEA. It further informed that it R&D is in small scale and not planned for nuclear fuel production. Thus, the suspension of enrichment on commercial scale, started since 2003, will be sustained."

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Friday, January 27, 2006

If the president says it, it must be true... Déjà vu?

As reported by the New York Times today:
Mr. Bush, [while speaking at a news conference on Thursday (Jan.26,2006)] said, "The Iranians have said, 'We want a weapon.' "
In fact, Iran has denied that it is pursuing a weapon, and in the afternoon, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, acknowledged that Mr. Bush had misspoken.
Does that sound like déjà vu to you?, maybe, the kind of stuff that happened in the run-up to the Iraq war?? (alternative link)

I'm not suggesting that Mr. Bush has firmly decided on starting a war with Iran, but one of two things are sure:
- either he said that sentence completely unintentionally, which then makes it a lapsus, always an interesting insight into the mind of Mr. Bush...
- or his administration is trying to pull off the same trick of misleading the general public by disseminating these kinds of little statements here and there, knowing full well that this is what sticks in people's memories and that the eventual corrective statement doesn't make it into the public consciousness.

So, misinformation or disinformation? I lean towards the latter.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Restoring some facts about Iran and the nuclear issue

I have been wanting to post about this for a long time, and I intend to devote a few posts to explaining my point of view.

I think the public debate about Iran and its nuclear ambitions is taking place on a very skewed set of facts and perceptions in most of the western world, and I feel that this does not help anybody: not the Iranians, and not "us" [the western world, or in particular, the US and the EU3 group - France, Germany and the U.K.], because it causes antagonizing and virtual realities instead of a healthy dialogue.

This debate is indeed very much a dialogue de sourds right now ("dialogue of the deaf", a situation in which neither party understands or even acknowledges the point of view of the other, all the while appearing and pretending to engage in dialogue).
And while the serious printed press has generally documented the details of the issue in a somewhat thorough manner, and on occasions provided for a public forum where the parties could directly state their opinions, it appears to me that the general public has a very poor knowledge and understanding of the facts.
And this might be so in part because of the style of reporting of the sensationalist televised media, or the just-as-sensationalist newspaper headlines. If you get your information by "skimming" the headlines in your favourite newspaper or news aggregator, chances are you know very little about what this is really about.

I will no doubt take the "out-of mainstream" line here, and I expect to receive much heated criticism and hate mail, but I feel that somebody needs to play devil's advocate sometimes, or needs to amplify the discourse of the minority (here Iran) against the all-too-powerful majority (the US and Europe).

The fact is, the general understanding with so many people here (in the West) is that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons and that the EU3 has been in negotations with them to try to get them to stop their nuclear weapons program.
Well none of this is accurate. Here is an accurate summary of the dossier:
  • Iran is contending that they have a right, under international law and as defined by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which they are a signatory, to develop a civil nuclear program and engage in civil nuclear research, including uranium enrichment to low levels, all for - do i need insist? - civilian and peaceful purposes.
  • The EU3 (and the US) are concerned about the possibilities of diversion of this nuclear technology (in particular the uranium enrichment) from civilian use into a military program and the subsequent development of nuclear weapons.
And the fact is, Iran does have this right to civilian nuclear technology. (And we would probably go a long way by first acknowledging that they indeed do, which has been one of their requests from very early on.)
Now we might have concerns, and some of them legitimate, why not? Relationships, between countries as between individuals, do require a crucial element of trust, and this trust is very much lacking in the relationship of Iran with the West.
And so we should work with the Iranians to find ways to ease these concerns. But denying them a legal right to develop civilian nuclear technology on the grounds of concern or worry does not seem like an argument that would give you victory in a court.

more on this later... your opinions are welcome.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Did spam find a way around Gmail's filters?

My Gmail account used to be virtually free of spam. Not only was I getting no spam in my Inbox, ever, but I also was pretty impressed that I received almost no spam directed to the Spam folder. In over 18 months of account activity now, I must have gotten less than 10 spam messages in my Spam folder.
The Gmail filters were just as effective as they were announced to be.

Well, those days seem to be over...
Starting about a week ago maybe, I began to receive a few messages of spam per day, sometimes only one, sometimes a few more (still <4-5 for now), steadily, every day ; this had never happened before. But what's more, most of them don't make it to the Spam folder, they just get to my Inbox, which means that they are not recognized by Gmail as spam.

I haven't seen any news or blog posts about this issue yet, but it is happening to several other people around me, and it has been happening for the past four or five days now. So I don't think I am an isolated case.
I'm wondering how many people have also noticed this trend?