Posts tagged with "Russia"
Note : http://uk.reuters.com/article/UK_HOTSTOCKS/idUKL3129695620080531
Putin says warned BP about Russian risks
Sat May 31, 2008 12:00pm BST
PARIS, May 31 (Reuters) - Russia's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, said he warned BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) about the risks of setting up a venture with a group of Russian billionaires when he blessed its creation as Russian president in 2003.
"They now have a problem with their Russian partners. I warned them several years ago that there will be problems," Putin said in an interview with French Le Monde daily which was attended by Reuters and released on Saturday.
(Reporting by Gleb Bryanski; editing by Christopher Johnson)
Note : http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSBLA95021520080429
Russia to examine Iran's nuclear ideas: report
Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:26am EDT
By Zahra Hosseinian
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Russia was quoted as saying on Tuesday it was ready to examine Iranian proposals to end a deadlock over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
Iranian media said Valentin Sobolev, acting secretary of Russia's National Security Council, made the comments at talks with top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.
On Monday Jalili said Iran had drawn up "serious" ideas to end the atomic row.
The United States and European states accuse the Islamic Republic of mastering technology to make nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian program. Iran says its goal is peaceful.
Iran's official IRNA news agency, citing Sobolev, said that "Russia was ready to examine Iran's proposed package and to find a way out of this existing deadlock."
"Russia supports the Islamic Republic of Iran's right in using peaceful nuclear energy," it quoted Sobolev as saying. He is expected to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki before leaving Iran on Wednesday.
Iran has not revealed details about its proposals.
"Iran's proposed package is a new chance for constructive cooperation aimed at creating regional and international peace and stability," Jalili said.
Iran's failure to convince world powers about its intentions has led to three rounds of U.N. sanctions since 2006. Russia and China have been reluctant backers of imposing penalties.
The U.N. Security Council has demanded Iran halt uranium enrichment, the part of Tehran's nuclear program that most worries the West because it can be used to make fuel for power plants or, if desired, material for bombs. Iran has refused.
Russia, which this year finished shipping nuclear fuel to Iran's first nuclear power station, has tried to use a mixture of persuasion and warnings to push Iran to be more open about its nuclear program.
A senior diplomat in Europe said Iran had earlier proposed turning its Natanz enrichment complex into a multilateral operation to counter foreign fears of diversions to bomb making there, and that this might be among Iran's proposals.
Iran's Mehr News Agency said Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, whose country has previously sought to find a compromise in the atomic row, spoke to Jalili by telephone about the proposals and "welcomed Iran's initiative".
There was no immediate comment from Swiss officials.
(Writing by Edmund Blair, edited by Richard Meares)
Note : http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav042908.shtml
AZERBAIJAN: DID WASHINGTON HAVE A HAND IN STOPPING NUCLEAR SHIPMENT HEADED FOR IRAN?
Rovshan Ismayilov 4/29/08
Azerbaijan’s refusal to release Russian nuclear power plant equipment headed to Iran has put the country at the center of a diplomatic firestorm. Analysts are divided over the source of the trouble. A former Azerbaijani presidential aide believes that the United States asked Baku to halt the shipment, while another expert contends that Russia, ambivalent about Iran’s nuclear program, is deliberately delaying handing over the necessary documentation to release the shipment.
On April 29, the Iranian ambassador in Baku, Nasir Hamidi Zare, demanded a speedy resolution to the impasse – without any meddling by international agencies. "Neither the International Atomic Energy Agency, nor the United Nations should be involved in this issue," the official Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, quoted Zare as saying. "We are awaiting further steps by Azerbaijan."
Russian diplomats, meanwhile, seemed oddly passive about the delay. "The cargo has been detained by Azerbaijan, so they have to decide what to do next," RIA Novosti quoted Moscow’s envoy in Baku, Vasily Istratov, as saying.
Araz Azimov, Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister, suggested that a decision on the cargo’s fate was not imminent. "No negotiations are being held," Azimov told RIA Novosti. He went on to blame Atomstroiexport, the Russian state-controlled company that initiated the shipment, for fomenting acrimony. "Representatives of Atomstroiexport released to the media information about the cargo being seized, which caused the media hoopla, but no concrete actions are being taken [by Russia]," Azimov said.
The incident began March 29, when the Azerbaijani border security personnel stopped a truck and two trailers that were carrying 14 tons of heat insulation equipment from Atomstroiexport. The equipment, valued at $170,000, according to the customs office, was reportedly bound for Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The cargo stoppage is the first known instance in which Azerbaijan has blocked Russian shipments bound for Iran’s nuclear power project.
The stoppage didn’t garner much outside attention until mid-April. At that time, State Customs Chairman Aydin Aliyev held a news conference during which he insisted that the cargo was stopped because it did not have clearance for export from the Azerbaijani government, as is required for such cargo. "This equipment is subject to export control," Aliyev said.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry states that it has asked Russia to "provide more information about the type of cargo" and how it pertains to United Nations sanctions against Iran, a spokesperson said.
In an April 22 statement, the Russian shipper, Atomstroiexport, maintained that the cargo does not fall under UN sanctions against Iran, and that it was "prepared according to all . . . international carriage rules." The company asserted that the equipment is for civilian purposes only, and has no military applications.
Such statements, however, have only spurred Baku’s demands for documentation for the cargo. "If such documents exist, why Russia does not provide them to Azerbaijan?" Azimov asked on April 26. He stressed that Azerbaijan’s demands were not "anything hard to fulfill, or impossible," the APA news agency reported.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly discussed the issue by phone on April 21 with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, but details of the conversation have remained under wraps.
Citing Baku’s growing ties with Washington, Vafa Guluzade, a leading foreign affairs expert in Baku, believes that the United States found out about the transfer of Russian equipment and alerted Azerbaijan to take action. "I think Baku stopped the cargo at the request of its Western allies," said Guluzade, who served as a top aide to former president Heidar Aliyev and who now works as an independent political analyst in Baku.
A US defense delegation visited Baku on April 14-17 for consultations with top members of the Azerbaijani military, but it is not known if the topic of the Iranian nuclear shipment was discussed. Guluzade suggested that Russia was refusing to disclose details about the equipment in order to block the chance of an inspection. "I think Russia is afraid of being accused of having violated the sanctions," Guluzade said.
Another Baku-based expert, Rauf Mirkadirov, a political analyst for the "Zerkalo" (Mirror) daily newspaper, differs. "Of course, it is possible that the cargo was stopped at the US’ request," Mirkadirov said. "However we have to remember that Russia itself might be interested in a delay in construction of the Bushehr plant. Moscow is indeed not interested in the emergence of a new country with a nuclear weapon to its south."
Delays in Russian shipments for the plant have already caused problems between Moscow and Tehran, he added. "It is likely that the incident is part of Russia’s larger game [of straddling the fence on the question of Iran’s nuclear program], and that Azerbaijan’s actions are part of this game," Mirkadirov said.
An April 26 commentary published by the Russian daily Gazeta heightened speculation that the incident could be Kremlin contrived. "Azerbaijan is a member of the UN, which has certain transit rules. Under the rules, when transporting goods through the territory of a certain country, a declaration of the goods’ nature and destination should be produced," the commentary stated. "If Russia wants Azerbaijan to turn a blind eye to international rules, it will not happen. If they have all the documents, why doesn’t Russia produce them?"
Iranian and Russian officials held talks in Tehran on April 28, during which the Iranians reportedly briefed their Russian counterparts on "serious proposals" that Iran hopes will assuage international concern about the nature of the country’s nuclear program, the IRNA news agency reported. Details of the proposals were not released, but the lead Russian participant in the discussions, Russian Security Council Secretary Valentin Sobolev, told RIA Novosti that the Iranian explanations served to "advance Iranian-Russian relations."
Initially, Tehran kept silent about the Azerbaijani incident. Then, when Iranian officials acknowledged the delay, they downplayed the significance. On April 23, for example, Zare, the Iranian ambassador, described the cargo stoppage as "a technical problem and we hope that it will be solved within a few days," APA news agency reported.
Within days, however, Tehran’s stance began to harden. On April 28, Tehran started demanding that Azerbaijan release the equipment. "We demanded from the Azerbaijani ambassador in Iran that this cargo should be released and given to the Iranian side shortly," the Itar-Tass news agency reported Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Ali Hosseini as saying. Tehran, like the Kremlin, insists the equipment was being transported in accordance with international norms.
Analyst Guluzade believes that Iran changed its tone when it became clear that Russia itself would not be able to resolve the problem.
Azerbaijan has bristled at the Iranian criticism. "No one has the right to speak to Azerbaijan in the language of demands," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Khazar Ibrahim affirmed at an April 28 briefing. Baku, he emphasized, is still waiting for Moscow to provide the detailed information needed for the cargo’s export. "Azerbaijan acts within its own law and international law, and we do not need someone’s recommendations," he added.
Ibrahim did not indicate how long the impasse could last, or what will happen with the cargo if Russia does not provide the requested documentation. There are "various" procedures for such situations, he said. "Only experts can make a final decision once the documents are received," he said, without further elaboration.
It is not the first time that such an incident has occurred. Over 10 years ago, Azerbaijan halted a shipment of steel pipes from Russia to Iran, noted Guluzade. The equipment was returned once "[e]xperts . . . came to the conclusion that these pipes could be used to produce ballistic missiles."
A similar scenario occurred earlier this decade with an air shipment of Russian MiG fighter jets to Serbia, he added.
For now, the standoff over the cargo will mean heightened diplomatic pressure on Baku from both Moscow and Tehran, but, in the end, contends Guluzade, the need for good ties with strategically located Azerbaijan is a necessity neither Russia nor Iran can easily overlook.
"Azerbaijan is a transit country and both Russia and Iran will need its services in the future," he said. "Therefore, of course, relations [between the three] will worsen for some time, but they will all take friendly measures towards each other soon."
Editor’s Note: Rovshan Ismayilov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku.
Posted April 29, 2008 © Eurasianet
Note : http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/mongolia-decide-rio-tintos-oyu/story.aspx?guid=%7B67FA7748-DEAD-4189-95F1-59E22E53D775%7D&dist=msr_2
Mongolia to decide on Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi gold, copper project before June
By Denny Kurien
Last update: 7:02 a.m. EDT April 9, 2008Print E-mail RSS Disable Live Quotes
SINGAPORE (MarketWatch) -- The Mongolian parliament is expected to pass amendments to its mining law within weeks, giving the state greater control over its resources sector and clearing the way for a decision on Rio Tinto Plc's (RTP) $3 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project before June elections, a senior government official said Wednesday.
A key change in the proposed amendment is a plan to give the government an option to seek a higher, 51% share in strategic projects, as opposed to 34% now, said Bold Luvsanvandan, chairman of the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia.
Strategic projects are defined as those with revenue exceeding 5% of Mongolia's gross domestic product, which currently is around $3 billion.
There could also be a possible change in the definition of strategic projects, Bold said.
When the amendment is on the statute books, investors may also have an option of offering the government a 51% stake in their projects or alternatively signing a mutually negotiated production sharing agreement with the government.
Rio's development of the Oyu Tolgoi project has been put back until 2011 from 2010 because of delays in winning over the government for an agreement.
Asked if Rio Tinto will be forced to part with 51% of Oyu Tolgoi when the law is amended, Bold said as a private project, this was a slightly different case and factors such as whether the investment has already paid off will be considered before taking a decision.
On other contentious issues such as a windfall tax in key minerals introduced by the government, Bold said while the government wants to move ahead with some changes, they are unlikely to do so until after the elections.
Mongolia has in place a 68% windfall tax on copper concentrate, on the portion of the price that is above $2,800/ton while there is a similar tax on gold when the price exceeds $500 an ounce.
On gold, for example, the country is planning to raise the base price above which the windfall tax kicks in to $800/oz, but these proposals will take time, Bold said.
Risky To Offer Investors Too Little A StakeWhile authorities are hopeful of getting the new legislation in place by the end of April, the government is aware of the risks of offering investors too little in return, Bold said.
"The main danger is if we worsen the investment climate, the only investors we are left (with) will be neighboring countries China and Russia," he said.
Bold's comments come at a time when resource-rich countries around the world are seeking greater control over their vast stores of crude oil and other minerals.
The trend - widely called resource nationalism - has seen several foreign energy firms operating in countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Kazakhstan strong-armed into agreeing to less beneficial contractual terms, like higher taxes and a lower share of oil profits.
Mongolia has large estimated reserves of minerals including copper, gold, coal and uranium that have attracted interest from mining heavyweights including BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP:BHP Billiton Ltd
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Despite the reported interest from these firms, Bold said an imbalance exists in Mongolia's resources industry. Landlocked Mongolia's only neighbors are Russia and China, and they are also its predominant investors.
"Russia is also a resource country, which means a competitor. And China is a consumer country, so if the consumer owns the resources, we will also have economic risks," he said.
"That's why our government's goal is to encourage (a diversity of) countries and larger multinational corporations to be present in Mongolia's resources industry," Bold said.
Russian, Chinese Companies Prepare GroundIn February, media reports cited Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov as saying Russian companies Basic Element and Severstal JSC (CHMF.RS:CHMF.RS
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CHMF.RS, , ) could compete to become strategic partners in developing the Tavan Tolgoi coal field in Mongolia, with more Russian operations eying other mineral deposits in the country.
China Shenhua Energy Co. (1088.HK), China's largest integrated coal producer by output, is in talks to buy mining assets in Mongolia, company chairman Chen Biting said on Mar. 17.
Bold said it would be hard to limit Russian and Chinese investment, and Mongolia would instead seek to attract additional foreign investment through a stable tax climate and by making improvements in the transport network and other infrastructure.
Note : http://www.inform.kz/showarticle.php?lang=eng&id=162874
09.04.2008 / 14:32 Mongolia to cooperate with Russia in uranium production
ULAN BATOR. April 9. KAZINFORM. Mongolia is going to cooperate with Russia in the production and processing of uranium and, in a longer perspective - in the building of nuclear power plants, Mongolian Prime Minister Sanzhiyn Bayar said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass on Wednesday on the eve of his departure for Moscow for an official visit.
"As early as in Soviet times much work was done for the prospecting of uranium deposits, and now the time has come for using that information for mutual advantage," Bayar said. He is going to meet Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy (Rosatom), in Moscow.
"The price of uranium is growing, and demand for it is high. Russia is one of the countries, whose technology of uranium production, processing and enrichment, as well as its use in energy generation, have gained worldwide recognition. There are few countries, which have such extensive experience. We do hope that the plan of joint work, which we are going to sign with Rosatom, will open up new opportunities in that sphere," Bayar said, Kazinform refers to Itar-Tass.
"I attended a meeting of the Security Council recently. It discussed not only the development of uranium deposits and the enrichment of uranium ore. We have ambitious plans and do not rule out a possibility of building nuclear power plants in the future. The development of power engineering is very important for us. This is why we should bear in mind that we shall need skilled specialists in that sphere. The issue will also be discussed
in Moscow," he continued.
After visiting Moscow, Bayar will go to Vienna, to the International Atomic Energy Agency. He admitted in the interview with Itar-Tass that Russia was not the only country, which offered its services and partnership to Mongolia. "Japan and France are also showing interest in the uranium sphere. They are already working here. We have rather large
uranium deposits," Bayar said.
Note : http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/April2008/08/c3427.html
Attention Business Editors:
Maple Leaf Reports Sale of Seedlings from Inner Mongolia
Shares Issued: 56,092,327
Last Close: 07-04-2008 $0.33
CALGARY, April 8 /CNW/ - Maple Leaf Reforestation Inc. (TSX Venture -
MPE) ("Maple Leaf" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that Mr. Xi Yong
Tu was appointed General Manager of the Company's Inner Mongolia operations on
March 20, 2008 and has already begun to generate some sales and other positive
results. All of the recent sales have been on a cash basis, involving an
upfront deposit and the balance on delivery.
The Company has recently sold and shipped 200,000 seedlings and received
$176,000 RMB (approximately $25,000 CAD) as a deposit for these seedlings. In
addition, another 2 million seedlings will be shipped before the end of
April 2008 and a further 2 million seedlings will be shipped by the end of
May 2008. About $1.4 million RMB (approximately $200,000 CAD) will be received
on delivery for shipments for the month of April 2008. Total revenue from the
shipments to be made during the month May is not certain at this time, but is
guaranteed to be at least the same as that being received for the April
shipments. The Company's shipping rate has increased from approximately
30,000 seedlings per day to 90,000 seedlings per day. The recent sales have
been done at a discount in order to clear out old inventory of seedlings,
resulting in the Chinese Pine and Scott Pine already being sold out.
Mr. Raymond Lai, Chairman, President & C.E.O. of Maple Leaf is very
excited about the huge success that has been achieved by the new management of
the Inner Mongolia operations in such a short time. With this rate of sales,
the Company is hopeful that it will be well positioned financially to proceed
with the addition of a second greenhouse in the near future.
About Maple Leaf Reforestation Inc.
Maple Leaf is a Canadian company operating a large-scale forest nursery
whose primary focus is growing value added tree seedlings in addition to
providing landscaping and nursery products in China. Reforestation has been
identified as a critical strategy to help manage China's troubling
environmental issues, namely pollution and desertification. Maple Leaf
currently has over 6 million varieties of seedlings under cultivation at its
nursery facility that includes a 110,000-square foot greenhouse located in
Liang Cheng, Inner Mongolia, China.
Maple Leaf is a wholly-owned foreign enterprise ("WOFE"), which allows
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The Nations of Georgia and Ukraine are nations that don't like Russia meddling in there affairs of their sovereignty. We believe that your constant meddling is causing your nation of Russia to lose it's power to control your on nation. You meddle in the affairs of people you should not be meddling in at all. You have no economic benefits and no greater stance behind your authority. You have no moral authority to do anything in these two countries. Your stance against them joining NATO is a fraudelent attempt to say you want more resources and contracts with Gazprom that is not right. Wanting what you can't have is hurting Russia. President Vladimir Putin and your nation is a facade of wanting world domination like China wanting Taiwan and Tibet. The nation of Russia needs more honest leaders and Dimitry Medevev is just a puppet of your hate against the Russian people and the World. Russia doesn't help the world. The people of Georgia and the people Ukraine need the power to protect there nation against meglamaniacs like Vladimir Putin and Dimitry Medevev. Gazprom can't own the world. The Oil Company must come clean also about it's domination of Russia Oil companies and split up. Cause it's not helping Russia and hurting businesses in Russia.
Timothy Wayne Thomas
Note : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/01/AR2008040101600.html
Bush and Yushchenko Remark on Ukraine and Nato
Tuesday, April 1, 2008; 2:53 PM
PRESIDENT VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO OF UKRAINE: (As translated.) Dear Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, this is a great honor for Ukraine and Ukrainian government to welcome the delegation chaired by the U.S. President. We just had one-on-one negotiations and expanded negotiations, and we can make general assessment of our talks. We are very pleased with the frankness and the atmosphere that the talks were carried out in.
And they were about the positions of our bilateral relations, the visit of His Excellency President Bush, the very recent documents that were signed. And we also touched upon the issues of the international politics and regional politics. I also want to say that one of the major issues that a lot of attention was paid by us is Ukraine's joining the NATO Membership Action Plan.
And once again I wanted to prove to Mr. President and the American delegation that when we're speaking about the MAP, we mean political and security essence. The political essence of it is that this country, when we are speaking about the 20th century, has many times announced its independence, but many times this independence failed. For the last 80 years, Ukraine has declared its independence six times, and five times it failed. It failed probably because there were no international signatures -- honor our sovereignty, and very often Ukraine looked like a diversified country, a parted country in an international community. And we are speaking here about the system of political decisions that fixed it right. And on the other hand, we are speaking about the security context.
In my opinion, there are no alternatives against the idea of collective security. And I believe that collective responsibility for security policy, or defense policy, if you may, is the best response to the challenges that currently exist in this society; that exist in the system of international coordinance.
And we received full-fledged support from the U.S.A. in Ukraine's plan to join the MAP. And in the course of the Bucharest summit, I'm sure that we will receive a positive signal in Bucharest, and that's the spirit that we're going there with. And we're sure that it will be also an advantage for those countries who are only about to determine their way there. And it was very important for us to have the road map signed. It will determine actually our applicable action plan.
This complex document determines the priorities of our cooperation in many sectors, starting from political dialogue, space exploration, nuclear policy, and ending with ecological and environmental issues.
During Mr. President's visit we signed a very important agreement, which is a trade and investment framework agreement. It lays the necessary foundation to start negotiations on the free trade area between our countries. And in my opinion it's also -- not less important is the framework agreement on research and use of space in peaceful manner. It opens new prospects for our relations. Still the relations has already had good practices.
And we also touched upon the energy issues and diversification of energy supplies. We paid attention to the energy summit that will take place in Kiev on the 22-23 of May, on the issues regarding Odessa-Brody EU pipeline project in the concept of energy security, and other issues that will be considered in the course of the summit.
We also spoke about the domestic political situation in Ukraine. And I would like to thank very much to Mr. President for this very fruitful and dynamic dialogue, and for that open and trustful atmosphere that was during our dialogue. I thank you very much indeed. I really appreciate it.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Dobrii Den. Thank you all very much. I am thrilled to be here, as is my wife. And thank you for your gracious hospitality, Mr. President.
I am proud to be sitting next to a leader who has strong convictions and a lot of courage. We come with a message for the people of Ukraine. Your sovereign nation has a friend and a solid partner in the United States.
Our nations have built our friendship on the love of liberty. Our people believe that freedom is the gift of an Almighty to every man, woman and child. And President Yushchenko and I understand that democracies are the best partners for peace and security in every part of the world. So we spent a lot of time talking about NATO.
First, I do want to remind people that Ukraine and the NATO alliance have built a strong partnership. Ukraine is the only non- NATO nation supporting every NATO mission. In Afghanistan and Iraq, Ukrainian troops are helping to support young democracies. In Kosovo, Ukrainians are -- help keep the peace.
Ukraine now seeks to deepens its cooperation with the NATO alliance through a Membership Action Plan. Your nation has made a bold decision, and the United States strongly supports your request. In Bucharest this week I will continue to make America's position clear: We support MAP for Ukraine and Georgia. Helping Ukraine move toward NATO membership is in the interest of every member in the Alliance and will help advance security and freedom in this region and around the world.
We also share more than security interests; we share democratic values. Ukraine has demonstrated its commitment to democracy and free markets. You've held three elections since the Orange Revolution. Your commitment to open markets has allowed your economy to grow and earned your nation the opportunity to join the World Trade Organization.
I know you're proud of these accomplishments, and you should be, Mr. President, and so should the people of Ukraine.
We're working together to help Ukraine -- Ukrainians build a better life. You're on the path to reform, and you can count on our continued support. We work together to fight corruption, and support civil society groups, and strengthen institutions of the free and prosperous economy. And as you mentioned, Mr. President, we're expanding our economic partnership with trade and investment cooperation agreement.
So, Mr. President, we have a deep relationship, an important relationship. And I want to thank you for your friendship. I appreciate what you've done to advance the cause of freedom, and I look forward to continuing to work with you during my time as President to make sure our relationship endures for the years to come. Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Do you think that Russia is applying undue pressure and threats to accomplish its goals at NATO on missile defense and stopping the Membership Action Plans of Ukraine and Georgia?
And President Yushchenko, what do you think of Moscow's tactics?
BUSH: Just because there was a bunch of, you know, Soviet-era flags in the street yesterday doesn't -- you shouldn't read anything into that. I -- look, this is an interesting debate that's taking place, and it's -- you know, as every nation has told me, Russia will not have a veto over what happens in Bucharest, and I take their word for it. And that's the right policy to have.
I'm going to work as hard as I can to see to it that Ukraine and Georgia are accepted into MAP. I think it's in our interests as NATO members, and I think it's in Ukrainian and Georgian interests, as well.
And on missile defense, we'll see. I've made it abundantly clear to the -- President Putin that the missile defense system is not aimed at defending against Russia. After all, Russia could easily overwhelm the missile defense systems that we have in -- that we've envisioned. These systems are aimed at a nation out of the Middle East, for example, that could launch an attack against Europe and -- just like our systems out in the Far East are aimed at helping protect ourselves from single or dual-launch regimes.
So obviously we've got a lot of work to do to allay suspicions and old fears, but I believe we're making pretty good progress along those lines.
YUSHCHENKO: (As translated.) When we're speaking about Ukrainian politics of joining the MAP and NATO membership, I would like to mention a couple basic things. First, this is not a policy against somebody. We are taking care of our national interest.
Taking a look at our history, it's very rich in many tragedies for Ukrainian state that only a system of collective defense and security, international guarantees of the political sovereignty for Ukraine and territorial integrity, will give the full response to the internal question in Ukraine. And I'm sure that for any Ukrainian who takes care of the future for Ukraine, a stable future for Ukraine, the issue of joining MAP is probably the most high-quality response to all the basic and fundamental interests of Ukraine.
Secondly, I would like the debates that are now being carried out in Europe and in the world regarding Ukraine's prospects of joining the MAP and then after, NATO, form any new obstacle. I'm sure that we are doing -- we're taking the right track and we are acting within the framework of our national sovereignty. Our nation is determined and it corresponds to our political reasonability for the security of the state.
I would like basic and fundamental principle of work of the Alliance -- I mean, the Open Door policy would be replaced by the veto right by the country which is not even a member of the Alliance. I'm sure that we're witnessing a very hot and overheated emotional discussion where there are few rules, or even sometimes very little respect. But at the end of the day, the wisdom should win.
And I want to firmly state that I'm only governed by a single issue. I want to bring calmness, stability, and security stability in particular, to this state. We want to be speaking about the Ukrainian presence in the world. We want to speak about the internal country. That's why only through these motives shall we want to have that dialogue, the talks.
And what we have in our society, I mean part of the political forces do not share this opinion. I think that this is all natural, because it's quite natural that today, like some hundreds of people with red flags were in the square -- this is remarkable because the Ukrainian famine was built under the same flags as the Ukrainian oppression. These were the flags that caused totalitarianism and suffering that caused many deaths of millions of people. And I'm sure that the Ukrainian communist party may also appear one day in Ukraine that will be standing under the flags of the nation. But apparently we still need to have another Moses to bring people over the desert for 40 years, for those who lost national interest and forgot about it and continue living in the past. I don't want this personality, in person, and I just want to show my vision and the ideology.
QUESTION: The question to President Bush. Were you able to persuade France and Germany to give positive answer on the Ukrainian issue, and how your visit is remarkable to having that decision?
BUSH: Thank you. We have been working with all nations in NATO for a positive outcome because I strongly believe NATO membership is -- for Ukraine and Georgia is in the interest of our organization. And so I have personally talked to quite a few leaders. Secretary Rice has been talking to her counterparts. Mr. Hadley has been talking to his counterparts. And there's a lot of discussions going on. And I wouldn't prejudge the outcome yet. The vote will be taken in Bucharest.
And my stop here is -- should be a clear signal to everybody that I mean what I say, and that is, I mean that it's in our interest for Ukraine to join. And so, therefore, one should -- but you ought to take more than my stop -- more from my stop than just a -- trying to send a signal on NATO. I firmly -- well, first of all, I was impressed, like most Americans, by the Orange Revolution. You probably don't know this, but a lot of Americans were -- were really, really touched and pleased to see what took place here.
And I told the President that Ukraine is -- you know, has caught the imagination of a lot of our fellow citizens over the last decade or so, and that you'll have good friends. The key, of course, is to have government that's open, government that's transparent, government that's non-corrupt, government that actually listens to the voices of the people as it makes laws, which is what's happening.
But, no, this is a good trip, and I'm really thrilled to be here. As the President said, it took you too long to get here, and I admit it, but nevertheless, better late than never, as they say. And I'm thrilled to be here, and I want to thank you for your hospitality.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. How confident are you of resolving your differences over the missile shield with President Putin during your talks in Sochi? And also, sir, there was a growing impression that you are looking, perhaps, at a trade-off in which the U.S. would soften its push for Membership Action Plans in NATO for Ukraine and Georgia if Russia acquiesces on missile defense. Could you please address that as well?
BUSH: Yes, I'll be glad to address it. That is a misperception. I strongly believe that Ukraine and Georgia should be given MAP, and there's no trade-offs, period. As a matter of fact, I told that to President Putin on my phone call with him recently. I said, you just got to know, I'm headed to Bucharest with the idea in mind of getting MAP for Ukraine and Georgia, and you shouldn't fear that, Mr. President. After all, NATO is a organization that's peaceful, or NATO is an organization that helps democracies flourish. Democracies are good things to have on your border.
And on the second point, on missile defense, it's in his interests that we participate and share information. After all, a missile from the Middle East can fly north just as easily as it could fly west, and the capacity to be able to share information and share technology to be able to deal with these threats is important for a lot of countries, including Russia.
So, yes, there's all kinds of rumors about things, but thank you for asking and giving me a chance to clarify. My position is absolutely solid. My position is absolutely solid. Ukraine and Georgia should be given MAP. Thank you.
QUESTION: What are the chances, in your opinion, of achieving an agreement at Sochi on missile defense?
BUSH: On Sochi, I don't know, but the chances are -- advancing my logic is good, since I'll be there talking about it. And we'll see whether or not there's an agreement. But obviously we've got work to do to convince the President and people around him that the missile defense system is not aimed at Russia, or is viewed as a anti-Russian device. Well, it's not. and, therefore, it requires a lot of time, a lot of discussion. That's what Condi Rice and Bob Gates spent time doing when they were there in Russia, and that is to defuse any notions that this is aiming something at somebody in Europe. This is all aiming to protect people in Europe.
I mean, the truth of the matter is the Russian system could overwhelm the missile defense systems we have envisioned. I mean, these systems are designed to deal with, you know, limited launch capabilities. And they've got multiple launch capabilities. And so it's just -- it requires a lot of work. We're dealing with a lot of history and a lot of suspicion throughout governments. And so the President and I will try to work through these for our common good. And I'm hopeful we can have some breakthroughs. We'll see.
The other thing is, is that this will be my last chance to visit with him face-to-face as -- you know, I've worked with him for eight years; we've had a very interesting relationship, I like him. He's a -- you know, he's a person that has been a strong leader for Russia. And my view all along has been that it's in our interest -- our interests, Ukrainian interests, European interests -- to be able to have a working relationship with Russia. And I've had that. And this will be a chance to say I appreciate being able to work together, and to be able to try to find some common interests in the waning days of his presidency.
QUESTION: The question to President Yushchenko -- please, Mr. President, say, if the positive decision is not taken in Bucharest on Ukraine, what are the next steps of Ukraine then?
YUSHCHENKO: (As translated.) If not, I'm sure that we will win because the arguments that were just mentioned by Mr. President and the positions that Ukraine is standing with, within the framework of the international debate on this issue, we are every day approaching to the positive final result. This is a colossal international work, and I would like to thank you all -- in your presence, I would like to thank President Bush for the work that's been done and that will be done in both public and nonpublic way.
And we fully understand the value of the issue and its importance. Of course, we still have a lot of effort forward to receive a positive answer. I have very good belief that the position of our friends in the EU will play a very important role for tomorrow's decision, and I hope that we will be able to convince those states that still have an opportunity -- that will have an opportunity to get more information about it and eliminate all the doubts.
Frankly speaking, I don't see any other way for Ukraine, no other alternative maybe -- emotionally, I would like to say that for the nation, for the political forces, should be more devoted to this way and the issue of whether Ukraine joins or not the MAP is not the complete target, the final target that we have in the Ukrainian society. And I'm sure that in order to avoid speculations on an international level, when somebody refers to the fact that the Ukrainian nation has not decided yet -- I'm sorry, we have decided already. We're not speaking about joining NATO. We are only speaking about MAP.
Why Ukraine should be deprived of that sovereign right is
-- there is a principle of open doors, which is the basic principle for NATO -- why can't we join MAP? And then let's have a meeting in a year or two, when we explain to the nation what the NATO mission is and what the collective security mission is, and then how important a response for Ukraine it is, and why there is no alternative answer for us. If any politician is troubled about this nation and is worried about this future, I am sure that the Ukrainian nation is very wise and it will make positive decision, in the course of the referendum that we going to have regarding Ukraine to join NATO. I recall when, three years ago, we started this discussion, I think from 17 percent of those who are for and who supported the Alliance integration -- a year ago we were supported by 33 percent. During the last live debates, we've seen analytics that raised up to 40 percent and we haven't started our work yet -- I mean, the profound work. So this is quite a situation -- I mean, the attention to this issue in the parliament for the last two months just made that big progress, and the nation started knowing better what NATO is and what its concept is.
So I think everything will be fine. Thank you.
Note : http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSL0154771720080401
Bush wants NATO to welcome European democracies
Tue Apr 1, 2008 6:49pm EDT
BUCHAREST (Reuters) - NATO must be ready to welcome all European democracies that want to join and meet the criteria, U.S. President George W. Bush will say in a speech on Wednesday before the start of an alliance summit in Romania.
Bush wants NATO to agree to let the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine start the process of joining NATO, despite resistance from Russia and skepticism from the Western defense pact's European members.
He will also urge NATO to "maintain its resolve and finish the fight in Afghanistan", and say that the alliance's top priority must be fighting al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, according to excerpts of Bush's speech released on Tuesday.
Bush is seeking a greater commitment of troops in Afghanistan from NATO partners reluctant to deploy in areas of heavy combat against a resurgent Taliban and its al Qaeda allies.
Bush, in Kiev earlier on Tuesday on the way to his farewell NATO summit in Bucharest, vowed to press for Ukraine and Georgia to be put on the path to joining NATO.
"My country's position is clear: NATO should welcome Georgia and Ukraine into the Membership Action Plan," Bush will say on Wednesday. "And NATO membership must remain open to all of Europe's democracies that seek it, and are ready to share in the responsibilities of NATO membership."
Russia opposes Ukraine and Georgia joining the alliance, seeing it as an encroachment on the former Soviet sphere of influence. France and Germany have expressed misgivings about letting the two countries into NATO.
Bush will also keep up efforts to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin, a guest at the NATO summit, that a planned U.S. missile shield based in parts of eastern Europe is not a threat to Moscow, which strongly opposes the project.
"The need for missile defense in Europe is real and it is urgent," Bush will say. "Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to produce nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles of increasing range that could deliver them." Iran says it wants nuclear capability for strictly civilian purposes.
Bush said in Kiev that he hoped proposals to make the missile defense system more transparent would yield progress at his weekend meeting with Putin at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Editing by Timothy Heritage)
Note : http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-03/25/content_7857241.htm
Medvedev warns against NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia
www.chinaview.cn 2008-03-25 21:04:56
LONDON, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Russian President-elect Dmitry Medvedev has warned that granting NATO membership to the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia could threaten European security, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
Medvedev's comments will step up pressure on the alliance not to allow the two states to join NATO's "membership action plan" at a summit in Bucharest next week, the newspaper said.
Vladimir Putin, the outgoing Russian president, is expected to attend the summit.
In a two-hour interview with the newspaper, Medvedev said, "We are not happy about the situation around Georgia and Ukraine. We consider that it is extremely troublesome for the existing structure of European security."
"No state can be pleased about having representatives of a military bloc to which it does not belong coming close to its borders," said Medvedev, in his first interview since winning the presidential elections on March 2.
He also suggested that most Ukrainians are opposed to joining the military alliance, as shown by opinion polls.
This is even more difficult to explain when the vast majority of citizens of Ukraine are categorically against joining NATO, while the government follows a different policy, he said.
Medvedev also conceded that it was in Russia's interests to rebuild relations with Britain, which have been at a post-cold war low since the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the London-based Kremlin critic, the newspaper said.
"We are open to the re-establishment of cooperation to the full extent," he said, adding that "time would show" whether progress could be made when he first meets British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, probably at the G8 summit in Japan in July.
Note : http://iht.com/articles/2007/12/11/news/russia.php
First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev delivered a televised nationwide address in Moscow on Tuesday. (RIA Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service/AP)
Medvedev, Putin's chosen heir, speaks, and the plot thickens in Russia
By Clifford J. Levy
Published: December 11, 2007
MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin's choice for his successor, Dmitri Medvedev, declared Tuesday that he wanted Putin to become prime minister, offering the first glimpse of what could be Putin's strategy for controlling the Kremlin after his term ends.
The announcement, made in a speech to the nation by Medvedev, raised the prospect of a stark realignment in the structure of the Russian government, which since its creation after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 has been led by a strong president who appoints a prime minister to serve largely as an administrator.
If Putin is to take on a new role as prime minister, he could very well overshadow Medvedev, turning him into the kind of figurehead president found in parliamentary systems like those of Germany or Italy.
Still, much was left unanswered in Medvedev's speech, as is often the case when the Kremlin reveals succession moves. Beyond offering Putin the position, Medvedev, who has long been a loyal aide with no source of support in the Kremlin beyond Putin himself, did not elaborate on his vision for a Putin premiership.
Putin, who Monday issued his endorsement of Medvedev for president, also said nothing publicly Tuesday about the prime minister's post. His silence stirred some speculation that the offer was a ploy intended to cement support for Medvedev by associating him ever more closely with the current leader, and that Putin might end up spurning the proffered premiership.
Some senior Kremlin officials dismissed that theory, noting that Putin had said in October that he would remain an influential figure after his term ends, possibly by moving to the prime minister's office.
Putin, who is popular in Russia after seven years of robust economic growth and stability, is barred by the Constitution from running for a third consecutive term.
Medvedev, 42, a reserved former law professor, was appointed by Putin as a first deputy prime minister and chairman of Gazprom, the Russian state gas monopoly. Unlike Putin and many other prominent Kremlin officials, Medvedev has no known background in the state security services.
With Putin's endorsement now plain, Medvedev is regarded as the favorite in the presidential election in March.
In his speech Tuesday, Medvedev praised Putin and said Russia had to continue the course that Putin has set since he took office in 2000. For this, Medvedev said, Putin needed to remain in the government.
"In order to stay on this path, it is not enough to elect a new president who shares this ideology," Medvedev said. "It is not less important to maintain the efficiency of the team formed by the incumbent president. That is why I find it extremely important for our country to keep Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin at the most important position in the executive power, at the post of the chairman of the government."
Medvedev also echoed Putin's comments in recent months praising Russia's revival on the world stage.
"The attitude toward Russia in the world is different now," Medvedev said. "We are not being lectured like schoolchildren, we are respected and we are deferred to. Russia has reclaimed its proper place in the world community. Russia has become a different country, stronger and more prosperous."
The presidency is by far the most powerful post in Russia, holding sway over the security forces - such as the FSB, the successor to the KGB - as well as the armed forces and judiciary. The president appoints and can dismiss the prime minister.
What is more, since the end of the Soviet Union, the prime minister has at times been the scapegoat when the government has become unpopular. That would seem an unlikely outcome for Putin, who served for a short time as prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin.
And with Putin's party, United Russia, controlling the Parliament, it remained an open question whether he might seek to push through laws or amend the Constitution to confer more powers on the prime minister.
Some analysts even conjectured that Medvedev could step down before his term as president ends - clearing the way for Putin to rise from prime minister to president, which would be possible under the Constitution.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, declined to say Tuesday whether Putin was planning changes in the structure of the prime minister's job.
"We are speaking about hypothetical possibilities, but if all the 'ifs' work out, definitely, Putin will be counting on a harmonious relationship with Medvedev, because ethically, Medvedev will be his boss," Peskov said.
In a meeting with foreign journalists last month, Medvedev expressed distaste for a parliamentary system akin to those in some European countries, saying that Russia needed a forceful presidency in order to continue to its development.
"The model we are having in Russia, the socio-economic model is incompatible with the parliamentary democracy," he said. "Russia should develop the same way as a number of major countries with strong presidential power. This is the basis for preserving the state within the existing boundaries and I think this is something difficult to argue with."
Georgy Satarov, a former senior aide to Yeltsin who is president of the Indem Foundation, an independent watchdog group in Moscow, cautioned that the situation was in such flux that it was difficult to predict the structure of the government over the next year, not to mention who would be in charge.
He said Putin's most pressing need was to lessen the turmoil inside the Kremlin as different groups struggle for power with his term coming to an end. The announcement Tuesday may have helped to do that by sending a message that he was not going anywhere, at least for now.
"For him, it is very important to reestablish balance and calm the bureaucracy," Satarov said. He added that: "I am not at all sure that the plans that they have declared will be realized in the next year."
The Russians have no idea to run a country. They have no real policies. The people should be empowered to run the country not the President. Like Lech Welesea of Poland the people in Russia must be in Solidarity with there needs not the needs of the Russian President. The people must change Russia not the President change Russia. The Russians need to be empowered that changes are coming that they can't be bullied by the President of Russia. The Presidents like Putin are the ones who don't have a clue. In running a country like Russia. The people must stand for something other than bullying and be diplomatic and change itself into a peaceful giant. Not a domineering giant that is not for the people.
The people of Russia need changes. The people in Iran need domestic changes. They need new leadership. They need to take down the Ayatollahs that run the country. They need a revolution. They need to take down the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They need to change Iran where it sends shock and awe toward Syria that the Alawites in power actually crumble and then Hezbollah's power base in Lebanon would crumble after that Hamas would crumble and they would be powerless. Al-Qaida would be powerless in the Middle East. They would be seen has suicide bombers with no cause just to kill and foment violence like they do know.
If Russia would stop having the domineering foreign policy. Other nations would change course and be peaceful like Belarus if Belarus followed the same strategy. Belarus is a power grab cause it's a nation that is friendly to Iran and Syria. Russia needs to stop domineering itself into Belaruse politics. The President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko doesn't have a clue that if he would also stop supporting Iran and North Korea. This is a challenge to the old leaders of the World. That they can change and stop supporting causes that will cause them to lose power for supporting those causes like Iranians Nuclear program cause I see nothing good coming from that program.
Note 1 : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7130598.stm
Russia's rich jockey for position
By James Rodgers
BBC News, Moscow
President Vladimir Putin
Putin has no obvious successor and no convincing rival yet
Many of Russia's rich and powerful seem to be nervous.
President Vladimir Putin is due to leave office in the spring.
Just months away from the end of the final term which the Russian constitution allows him, it is far from clear who comes next.
Even when the apparent successor is known, there will be concerns over how Russia might or might not change under a new ruler.
That is causing apprehension among those who have prospered during Mr Putin's time in office.
Those who suspect they will not hang on to power seem to be trying to ensure they will not need to worry about money.
There have already been suggestions of a struggle between competing branches of the security forces, each apparently having ties to different clans of Kremlin insiders.
In October, a rare and intriguing incident shed some light on this jockeying.
Viktor Cherkesov, a former KGB officer who now heads the federal anti-narcotics agency, broke the silence which is so often the Russian secret policemen's rule.
At the time, the FSB - the main successor agency to the KGB - had detained several officers in General Cherkesov's service.
"Already experts and journalists are talking about a 'war of groups' inside the secret services," he wrote in an open letter to the business newspaper, Kommersant.
"In this war, there can be no winners. A war like this -everyone against everyone - will end in the complete collapse of the corporation."
What was so remarkable about this letter was that it was a public acknowledgement of what to outsiders was only rumour.
A member of the network of ex-secret policemen, who hold so much sway in Russia today, had admitted that battle had been joined.
Financial interests lay at the heart of the conflict which General Cherkesov described.
He had this warning for his fellow "Chekists", as the Russian secret police in their various incarnations are known.
The name comes from the Russian initials for the "Extraordinary Commission" set up by the Bolsheviks in 1917.
"Anyone who finds out that his main vocation is business should go into another area. Don't try to be a trader and a warrior at the same time," he wrote.
Mr Shvartsman says the interview in Kommersant was distorted
Now comes the story of a fund manager called Oleg Shvartsman.
Kommersant printed an interview with Mr Shvartsman.
In the reported conversation, Mr Shvartsman is quoted as saying that plans are under way for what he allegedly terms a "velvet re-privatisation" to "acquire strategic assets" which would then be held by a state corporation.
The suggestion is that the plan has the backing of senior figures in politics and business. In Russia, they are often the same people.
They would stand to benefit - thereby ensuring their continuing influence after the end of President Putin's second term.
Mr Shvartsman subsequently dismissed the published version of the interview. Kommersant stands by its story.
It was enough to set alarm bells ringing at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Following the publication of the article, the EBRD announced that it would not go ahead with plans for an investment fund "following statements by a minority shareholder in the fund's management company".
Then there is the case of the Deputy Finance Minister, Sergei Storchak. He has been charged with trying to embezzle $43m (29.5m euros).
Mr Storchak has denied any wrongdoing. The investigation is seen as having damaged the reputation of his boss, Alexei Kudrin. Its progress is being closely watched for any political consequences it might have.
No-one in Russia today comes close to President Putin in terms of political profile.
The whole system revolves around one man. The uncertainty over what happens next seems to be sending shockwaves through the political establishment.
Note 2. : http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080101faessay87106/vali-nasr-ray-takeyh/the-costs-of-containing-iran.html
The Costs of Containing Iran
Washington's Misguided New Middle East Policy
Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh
From Foreign Affairs, January/February 2008
Summary: The Bush administration wants to contain Iran by rallying the support of Sunni Arab states and now sees Iran's containment as the heart of its Middle East policy: a way to stabilize Iraq, declaw Hezbollah, and restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. But the strategy is unsound and impractical, and it will probably further destabilize an already volatile region.
Vali Nasr, Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Adjunct Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future." Ray Takeyh is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of "Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic."
Over the past year, Washington has come to see the containment of Iran as the primary objective of its Middle East policy. It holds Tehran responsible for rising violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lebanon's tribulations, and Hamas' intransigence and senses that the balance of power in the region is shifting toward Iran and its Islamist allies. Curbing Tehran's growing influence is thus necessary for regional security.
Vice President Dick Cheney announced this new direction last May on the deck of the U.S.S. John C. Stennis in the Persian Gulf. "We'll stand with our friends in opposing extremism and strategic threats," Cheney said. "We'll continue bringing relief to those who suffer, and delivering justice to the enemies of freedom. And we'll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed a similar sentiment: "Iran constitutes the single most important single-country strategic challenge to the United States and to the kind of Middle East that we want to see." Meanwhile, Iran's accelerating nuclear program continues to haunt Washington and much of the international community, adding to their sense of urgency.
Taking a page out of its early Cold War playbook, Washington hopes to check and possibly reduce Tehran's growing influence much as it foiled the Soviet Union's expansionist designs: by projecting its own power while putting direct pressure on its enemy and building a broad-based alliance against it. Washington has been building up the U.S. Navy's presence in the Persian Gulf and using harsh rhetoric, raising the specter of war. At the same time, it funds a $75 million democracy-promotion program supporting regime change in Tehran. In recent months, Washington has rallied support for a series of United Nations resolutions against Iran's nuclear program and successfully pushed through tough informal financial sanctions that have all but cut Iran out of international financial markets. It has officially designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and the IRG's elite al Quds Army as a supporter of terrorism, allowing the Treasury Department to target the groups' assets and the U.S. military to harass and apprehend their personnel in Iraq. Washington is also working to garner support from what it now views as moderate governments in the Middle East -- mostly authoritarian Arab regimes it once blamed for the region's myriad problems.
Washington's goal is to eliminate Iran's influence in the Arab world by rolling back Tehran's gains to date and denying it the support of allies -- in effect drawing a line from Lebanon to Oman to separate Iran from its Arab neighbors. The Bush administration has rallied support among Arab governments to oppose Iranian policies in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. It is trying to buttress the military capability of Persian Gulf states by providing a $20 billion arms package to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. According to Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, one of the arms sales' primary objectives is "to enable these countries to strengthen their defenses and therefore to provide a deterrence against Iranian expansion and Iranian aggression in the future." And through a series of regional conclaves and conferences, the Bush administration hopes to rejuvenate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process partly in the hope of refocusing the energies of the region's governments on the threat posed by Iran.
Containing Iran is not a novel idea, of course, but the benefits Washington expects from it are new. Since the inception of the Islamic Republic, successive Republican and Democratic administrations have devised various policies, doctrines, and schemes to temper the rash theocracy. For the Bush administration, however, containing Iran is the solution to the Middle East's various problems. In its narrative, Sunni Arab states will rally to assist in the reconstruction of a viable government in Iraq for fear that state collapse in Baghdad would only consolidate Iran's influence there. The specter of Shiite primacy in the region will persuade Saudi Arabia and Egypt to actively help declaw Hezbollah. And, the theory goes, now that Israel and its longtime Arab nemeses suddenly have a common interest in deflating Tehran's power and stopping the ascendance of its protégé, Hamas, they will come to terms on an Israeli-Palestinian accord. This, in turn, will (rightly) shift the Middle East's focus away from the corrosive Palestinian issue to the more pressing Persian menace. Far from worrying that the Middle East is now in flames, Bush administration officials seem to feel that in the midst of disorder and chaos lies an unprecedented opportunity for reshaping the region so that it is finally at ease with U.S. dominance and Israeli prowess.
But there is a problem: Washington's containment strategy is unsound, it cannot be implemented effectively, and it will probably make matters worse. The ingredients needed for a successful containment effort simply do not exist. Under these circumstances, Washington's insistence that Arab states array against Iran could further destabilize an already volatile region.
NEW AND DISAPPROVED
Iran does present serious problems for the United States. Its quest for a nuclear capability, its mischievous interventions in Iraq, and its strident opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process constitute a formidable list of grievances. But the bigger issue is the Bush administration's fundamental belief that Iran cannot be a constructive actor in a stable Middle East and that its unsavory behavior cannot be changed through creative diplomacy. Iran is not, in fact, seeking to create disorder in order to fulfill some scriptural promise, nor is it an expansionist power with unquenchable ambitions. Not unlike Russia and China, Iran is a growing power seeking to become a pivotal state in its region.
Another one of Washington's errors is to assume that Iran can be handled like the Soviet Union and that the Cold War model applies to the Middle East. Both Israel and Arab governments have pressed Washington to contend with Iran's nuclear ambitions and since the Lebanon war of 2006 have worried about the strengthening connections between Tehran and Hezbollah. They have responded by throwing their support behind the government of Fouad Siniora in Beirut and trying to break the collusion between the Iranian and Syrian governments. Washington has been supportive, building up its military presence in the Persian Gulf and using last year's surge in the number of U.S. forces in Iraq to roll back Iran's gains there. But the same Arab governments that complain about Tehran's influence also oppose the Shiite government in Iraq, which is pro- Iranian and pro-American, and favor its Sunni opponents -- leaving Washington having to figure out how to work with the Iraqi government while also building a regional alliance with Sunni Arab states. Washington's containment wall will therefore have to run right through Iraq and so inevitably destabilize the country as it becomes the frontline in the U.S.-Iranian confrontation.
The Bush administration's strategy also fails to appreciate the diverse views of Arab states. Arab regimes are indeed worried about Iran, but they are not uniformly so. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain decry Iranian expansionism and fear Tehran's interference in their internal affairs. But Egypt and Jordan worry mostly that Iran's newfound importance is eroding their standing in the region. The stake for them is not territory or internal stability but influence over the Palestinian issue. Even within the Persian Gulf region, there is no anti-Iranian consensus. Unlike Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, for example, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates do not suffer a Shiite minority problem and have enjoyed extensive economic relations with Tehran since the mid-1990s. Far from seeking confrontation with Iran, they fear the consequences of escalating tensions between it and the United States. Even U.S. allies in the Middle East will assess their capabilities and vulnerabilities, shape their alliances, and pursue their interests with the understanding that they, too, are susceptible to Iran's influence. A U.S. containment strategy that assumes broad Arab solidarity is unsound in theory.
Nor can it be implemented. For close to half a century, the Arab world saw Iraq's military as its bulwark in the Persian Gulf. Having dismantled that force in 2003, the United States is now the only power present in the Gulf that can contain Iran militarily. Shouldering that responsibility effectively would mean maintaining large numbers of troops in the region indefinitely. But given the anti-American sentiment pervading all of the Gulf today, none of the states in the region (except for Kuwait) could countenance the redeployment of a substantial number of U.S. forces in their territory. Thus, Washington would have to rely on weaker regional actors to contain a rising Iran, which is the largest country in the Persian Gulf in terms of size, population, and economy. Even major arms sales to the Gulf states could not change this reality.
Washington's reliance on reviving the Middle East peace process as the linchpin of its strategy to contain Iran is also problematic. Bush administration officials are assuming that resumed diplomacy between Israel and its neighbors will assuage the Arab street, rally Arab governments behind the United States, and lay the groundwork for a united Arab-Israeli front against Iran. But this hope disregards the fact that in their current state, Palestinian and Israeli politics will not support the types of compromises necessary for a credible breakthrough. Both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are too weak to press their constituencies toward the painful concessions that a viable peace compact would require. The expectations of Arab leaders far exceed those of Israel and the United States: while they have been openly demanding final-status negotiations, Secretary Rice has been talking only about creating momentum toward peace.
Even if the peace process can be successfully relaunched, the notion that Arabs see the rise of Iran as a bigger problem than the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict is misplaced. After years of enmity, the Arab masses and Arab opinion-makers continue to perceive Israel as a more acute threat. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad understands this well: he has been raising the heat on the Palestinian issue precisely because he wants to make headway among the Arab people and understands that they do not share the anti-Iranian sentiment of their governments. Along with his inflammatory denunciations of Israel and Tehran's assistance to Hamas and Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad's embrace of an Arab cause has garnered him ample support among the rank and file. In fact, Tehran enjoys significant soft power in the Middle East today. Washington assumes that its proposals regarding the Arab-Israeli peace process will redirect everyone's worries toward Iran; Tehran believes that current efforts will not satiate Arab demands. A careful reading of the region's mood reveals that Iran is on firmer ground than the United States.
Indeed, it is not the Palestinian issue that will decide the balance of power in the Middle East but the fate of the failing states of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, where Iranian influence has found ample room to expand. The Palestinian issue remains important to Israel's security, stability in the Levant, and the United States' image and prestige. It is also a catalyst for regional rivalries. But the Palestinian issue is not the original cause of those regional contests, nor will it decide their outcome. For all its worrying about Iran's growing power, Washington has failed to appreciate that the center of gravity in the Middle East has indeed shifted from the Levant to the Persian Gulf. It is now more likely that peace and stability in the Persian Gulf would bring peace and stability to the Levant than the other way around.
For a government that so often invokes the past to substantiate its policies, the Bush administration has a curiously inadequate grasp of recent Middle Eastern history. The last time the United States rallied the Arab world to contain Iran, in the 1980s, Americans ended up with a radicalized Sunni political culture that eventually yielded al Qaeda. The results may be as bad this time around: a containment policy will only help erect Sunni extremism as an ideological barrier to Shiite Iran, much as Saudi Arabia's rivalry with Iran in the 1980s played out in South Asia and much as radical Salafis mobilized to offset Hezbollah's soaring popularity after the Israeli-Lebanese war in 2006. During the Cold War, confronting communism meant promoting capitalism and democracy. Containing Iran today would mean promoting Sunni extremism -- a self-defeating proposition for Washington.
The realities of the Middle East will eventually defeat Washington's Cold War fantasies. This is not to say that Iran does not pose serious challenges to U.S., Arab, or Israeli interests. But envisioning that a grand U.S.-Arab-Israeli alliance can contain Iran will sink Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon into greater chaos; inflame Islamic radicalism; and commit the United States to a lengthy and costly presence in the Middle East.
A NEW ORDER
The Middle East is a region continuously divided against itself. In the 1960s, radical Arab regimes contested the legitimacy and power of traditional monarchical states. In the 1970s, Islamic fundamentalists rejected the prevailing secular order and sought to set the region on the path to God. In the 1980s, much of the Arab world supported the genocidal Saddam Hussein as he sought to displace Iran's theocratic regime. Today, the Middle East is fracturing once more, this time along sectarian and confessional lines, with Sunnis clamoring to curb Shiite ascendance. Again and again, in the name of preserving the balance of power, U.S. policy has taken sides in the region's conflicts, thus exacerbating tensions and widening existing cleavages. Beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict, the United States has shown limited interest in mediating conflicts, settling disputes, or bringing antagonists together. Washington sided with the conservative monarchies against Arab socialist republics, acquiesced in the brutal suppression of fundamentalist opposition by secular governments, buttressed Saudi power and the Iraqi war machine to temper Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamist rage. It is now courting Sunni regimes to align against Iran and its resurgent Shiite allies. Every time, as Washington has become mired in the Middle East's rivalries, its goal of stabilizing the region has slipped further away.
Instead of focusing on restoring a former balance of power, the United States would be wise to aim for regional integration and foster a new framework in which all the relevant powers would have a stake in a stable status quo. The Bush administration is correct to sense that a truculent Iran poses serious challenges to U.S. concerns, but containing Iran through military deployment and antagonistic alliances simply is not a tenable strategy. Iran is not, despite common depictions, a messianic power determined to overturn the regional order in the name of Islamic militancy; it is an unexceptionally opportunistic state seeking to assert predominance in its immediate neighborhood. Thus, the task at hand for Washington is to create a situation in which Iran will find benefit in limiting its ambitions and in abiding by international norms.
Dialogue, compromise, and commerce, as difficult as they may be, are convincing means. An acknowledgment by the U.S. government that Tehran does indeed have legitimate interests and concerns in Iraq could get the two governments finally to realize that they have similar objectives: both want to preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq and prevent the civil war there from engulfing the Middle East. Resuming diplomatic and economic relations between Iran and the United States, as well as collaborating on Iraq, could also be the precursor of an eventual arrangement subjecting Iran's nuclear program to its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If Iran enjoyed favorable security and commercial ties with the United States and was at ease in its region, it might restrain its nuclear ambitions.
Engaging Tehran need not come at the expense of the United States' relationships with Iran's Arab neighbors. Instead of militarizing the Persian Gulf and shoring up shaky alliances on Iran's periphery, Washington should move toward a new regional security system. The system should feature all the local actors and could rest on, among other things, a treaty pledging the inviolability of the region's borders, arms control pacts proscribing certain categories of weapons, a common market with free-trade zones, and a mechanism for adjudicating disputes. For the Gulf states, this new order would have the advantage of bringing the Shiite-dominated states of Iran and Iraq into a constructive partnership, thus diminishing the risk of sectarian conflict. A new security arrangement would be an opportunity for Iran to legitimize its power and achieve its objectives through cooperation rather than confrontation. And it would allow the Iraqi government, which is often belittled by its Sunni neighbors, to exercise its own influence and so expose the canard that it is a mere subsidiary of Tehran. Saudi Arabia and Iran, the region's two leading nations, could move beyond their zero-sum competition in Iraq and press their allies there to adopt a new national compact that would recognize the interests of the Sunni and Kurdish minorities in Iraq.
None of this, however, will come about without active U.S. participation and encouragement. The Persian Gulf states will require reassurance if they are to entrust their defense to a new regional order. For Iran, whose chief competitor for regional preeminence remains the United States, there would be no reason to participate unless Washington were involved. The United States, for its part, would have to show that it is seeking not to impose a new balance of power but to uphold a regional arrangement that all the relevant regimes can endorse. Ultimately, the paradoxical but beneficial result would be a new situation in which all the Persian Gulf states would not just cooperate with one another but also endorse the United States' continued presence in the region. The strategy would serve the interests of the United States' European allies as well as those of China and Russia, all of which require stability in the Middle East and reliable access to its energy supplies.
Engaging Iran while regulating its rising power within an inclusive regional security arrangement is the best way of stabilizing Iraq, placating the United States' Arab allies, helping along the Arab-Israeli peace process, and even giving a new direction to negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. Because this approach includes all the relevant players, it is also the most sustainable and the least taxing strategy for the United States in the Middle East.
Note 3. : http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/931216.html
Nuclear fallout / Who's right here?
By Amos Harel
The publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iranian Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities by the Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a report that minimizes the value of the Iranian nuclear program, is one of those developments that intelligence professionals tend to call a "formative event."
Over the last year, a certain hope has developed in Israel that the U.S. would do our dirty work for us; because what is possibly going on, quietly and secretly, between President Bush and his spiritual advisers will lead Bush to the conclusion that his supreme moral obligation is to remove the Iranian nuclear danger threatening Israel before he passes his job on to his successor.
Yesterday, from talking to a number of senior officials in the defense establishment, you could sense this hope had been buried in the wake of the report.
The top brass and senior intelligence and defense officials spent most of their day in heated meetings. At the complex intersection of two policies, intelligence and propaganda, the dilemma is now two-fold: Is Israel capable of presenting the Americans with any information that can prove to the Americans their new evaluation is wrong? And what new policy will Jerusalem need to formulate on the Iranian issue, based on the reasonable assumption the U.S. will not change its mind?
Israel has known about the report for more than a month. The first information on it was passed on to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and to Shaul Mofaz, who is the minister responsible for the strategic dialog with the Americans. The issue was also discussed at the Annapolis summit by Barak and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and it seems also between Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
What surprised Israel is the sharp turn from the previous line presented by the DNI, and the fact the report was made public. Based on his short comments yesterday, it seems Barak, like Olmert, is trying to avoid open disagreement with the U.S. government.
But the issue of the NIE is expected to create tension on two levels. It will cloud the tight cooperation between the two countries intelligence agencies, since now it will no longer look as if it is only a disagreement over timing, but a fundamental disagreement over Iran's intentions. It will also cause a feeling of distress on the Israeli side, as now it will seem that the U.S. is abandoning Israel to fight alone.
The report will most likely also have an indirect effect on the Israeli-Palestinian process. If Israel no longer enjoys the full support of the Americans on nuclear matters, then Israel is likely to feel less committed to make concessions and move forward in talks with the Palestinians.
Since the military part of the Iranian nuclear project was exposed in 2003, Iran has made a huge effort to hide its tracks. In one case, the Iranians allowed the inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the site of a nuclear facility near Tehran, but when they arrived, the inspectors discovered it had simply disappeared.
The Israelis interpret the evidence to mean the Iranians have almost certainly continued to conduct their military nuclear program in secret. The Americans think that it has been frozen. This is a worrying gap; it is possible it is actually Israel that has made the mistake in such a critical matter.
The convoluted and hazy phrasings of the American report also raise the fear that someone in Washington is using the report for the ancient practice of covering his ass. On the other hand, Israel has much better reasons than the U.S. for feeling threatened by Iranian nukes, and therefore Israel needs adopt a much more strict line about the information.
So who is right? It just might possibly be the Americans. In practical terms, Israel will now have a harder time convincing the international community of its right to a military option against Tehran. The main avenue still open is increasing sanctions.
Notes 4 : http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-12-07-voa71.cfm
Analysts: New Intelligence May Spark Change in US, Iran Policies
By Gary Thomas
07 December 2007
For months, Bush administration officials have said Iran was actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program and called on collective international action, including sanctions, to force Tehran to stop. But a new U.S. intelligence report says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and that as of mid-2007, at least, had not restarted it. As VOA correspondent Gary Thomas reports, the public release of the estimate may alter perceptions and policies in both Washington and Tehran.
At some points, the rhetoric coming from Washington and Tehran was so harsh that it fueled speculation that the United States was planning to attack Iran.
But a new U.S. intelligence estimate on Iran's nuclear program stands in sharp contrast to earlier pronouncements by Bush administration officials that Iran is in active pursuit of nuclear weapons. The National Intelligence Estimate, which represents the collective judgment of the 16 U.S. agencies that deal in intelligence, says that Iran may not be as determined to develop nuclear weapons as the U.S. previously believed.
President Bush gestures during his news conference at the White House in Washington, 4 Dec. 2007
President Bush gestures during his news conference at the White House in Washington, 4 Dec. 2007
President Bush insists that the new intelligence report represents no change in U.S. policy or attitude towards Iran. If anything, he says, it should reinvigorate joint international efforts to keep nuclear arms knowledge out of Iran's hands.
"Our policy remains the same," said President Bush. "I see a danger. And many in the world see the same danger. This report is not an 'OK, everybody needs to relax and quit' report. This is a report that says what has happened in the past could be repeated and that the policies used to cause the regime to halt are effective policies, and let's keep them up. Let's continue to work together."
Vali Nasr, a senior fellow on Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the new National Intelligence Estimate undercuts U.S. efforts to get support for more sanctions against Iran.
"The mistake of the Bush administration was that it overreached," said Nasr. "In overstating Iran's capability, in overstating Iran's threat, it created a house of cards that has all of a sudden fallen down."
But Larry Wilkerson, who was former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, says that Washington may be sending a signal to Tehran by the release of the report.
"We're releasing this National Intelligence Estimate which more or less reverses our previous appraisal of you as a monolithic entity that is absolutely impossible to talk to," he said. "We're actually saying it might be somewhat to our advantage to talk to you. We're actually saying you might be persuadable if we talk to you in the right way. If my optimistic side is interpreting it correctly, it's an incredibly sophisticated effort to lay down a carpet, so to speak, to eventual diplomacy and negotiations with Iran."
The report has upset some conservative American politicians and commentators who favor keeping up a hard line against Iran, including possible military action. Some Republican lawmakers have called for a commission to examine the estimate's findings.
The publicly released version is a carefully worded document that rates key points as having a high, moderate, or low degree of confidence. John McLaughlin, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, says that, having been burned by its mistakes about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the intelligence community is being very careful, especially on an issue as sensitive as Iran.
"One of the things to which intelligence agencies pay particular attention these days is making clear their levels of uncertainty," said McLaughlin. "This is one of the lessons of the Iraq WMD experience. And so for the agencies to say they believe this with high confidence is very noteworthy. It tells me that they have sources who have a demonstrated track record of producing accurate information, or they would not be saying that."
Not surprisingly, the report was welcomed in Iran, where it was termed a "victory" by officials, who have consistently denied that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. But some analysts believe there could be some domestic political fallout in Iran for the hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Vali Nasr says President Ahmadinejad has used the nuclear issue to rally political support and divert attention away from the country's continuing economic woes of high unemployment and inflation.
"Now, if war is off the table, it doesn't matter what Ahmadinejad says and how much bluster he puts out," he said. "If war is off the table, the Iranian electorate may pay a lot more attention to issues that don't favor Ahmadinejad in the elections. I think it might have a positive effect within Iran, ironically, of refocusing everybody on domestic issues at a time when elections are around the corner."
Iran's parliamentary elections are due in March, and the presidential election in 2009.
Note 5 :http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-bolton9dec09,1,233789.story?coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=2&cset=true
Bolton calls report on Iran quasi-putsch
John Bolton, Associated Press
'POLITICS': "This is politics disguised as intelligence," said John Bolton, the former U.S. mbassador to the United Nations, in an article appearing in this week's Der Spiegel magazine.
The former ambassador to the U.N. says the the latest intelligence estimate is meant not to inform but to influence policy.
December 9, 2007
BERLIN — U.S. intelligence services attempted to influence political policy by releasing their assessment that concludes Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, said John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Der Spiegel magazine quoted Bolton on Saturday as alleging that the aim of the National Intelligence Estimate, which contradicts his and President Bush's position, was not to provide the latest intelligence on Iran.
"This is politics disguised as intelligence," Bolton was quoted as saying in an article appearing in this week's edition.
Bolton described the report, released Monday, as a "quasi-putsch" by the intelligence agencies, Der Spiegel said.
The intelligence estimate said Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago but was continuing to develop the technical means that could be used to produce a bomb. This contradicted Bush's assertion that Iran was actively trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
The hawkish Bolton has long criticized Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, who has said that there was no hard evidence that Tehran was pursuing nuclear weapons.
ElBaradei said the report "somewhat vindicated" Iran, which has denied allegations that it was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons. It says its nuclear program is to generate electricity.
Russia must change Iran and continue to help the United States of America on the North Korean Six Way Talks. If they don't then Russia can't afford it's future bought by Vladimir Putin and spent by Vladimir Putin. The Russians need to change its leadership and help countries to move away from violence and bribery to peace and prosperity.
Russia must change it's law on protests cause it's shows how illegal that people in Russia need a voice and the people need a platform and the Russian Law takes away that platform. The Russian people need to take to streets and tell the Russians to change it's laws so it can be freer. The Elections need to be freer. The people need to be able to use there voice and fight the government with protesting against it. The government who uses the propaganda and tries to control parliament is the one who will be the loser. Vladimir Putin loses this round even if he cheats and wins the Election.
Kasparov resists Putin again.
by Michael Weiss
11/29/2007 12:00:00 AM
"NO MATTER WHAT happens, get Kasparov." So shouted one riot officer Saturday during the violently disrupted Dissenters' March in Moscow, according to David Nowak of the Moscow Times, one of the few newspapers left in Russia that doesn't have its reporting redacted by the Kremlin. When Nowak asked another officer why "seemingly peaceful bystanders" were being hauled off the streets at random and arrested, he was told, "Do you want me to [expletive] beat you with a baton?"
Welcome to life under Vladimir Putin, in which political opposition is met with swift and arbitrary punishment, and not even a tendentiously arrived at 70 percent approval rating is enough to satisfy executive confidence.
You would never know, judging by most of the U.S. media coverage of Garry Kasparov's arrest and subsequent jail sentence of five days, that the Dissenters' March was actually part of a multi-city spate of protests undertaken by Russians fed up with bullying dictatorship. It speaks well of Putin's propaganda, which brands all of his opponents as part of a monolithic sodality of crackpots and "jackals," that the Other Russia Coalition only organized two of the rallies held over the weekend--those in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Several others were independently staged in Nizny Novgorod, Tomsk, Orel, Pskov, Ryazan, Tula, and Kaluga.
As was the case under the Soviet Union, state suppression of public square-style democratic activity in today's Russia occurs well before the announced khappening. On November 21, Putin addressed 5,000 of his claque, speaking of his political antagonists thus: "They aren't going to do anything to anyone. Even now, they're going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in neighboring republics. And now they are going to attempt provocations here." And as if to send a signal that such "provocations" would not be tolerated, on November 23, the day before Dissenters' March, counterterrorism agents raided the offices of Kasparov's organization, the United Civil Front. According to the Other Russia's website, the agents said they were looking for "materials dedicated to disrupting civil order." What they instead found and confiscated were 5,000 stickers reading, "Vote for the coalition list."
The following afternoon, between the hours of 1 and 2 p.m., 2,000 people turned out onto Andrei Sakharov Square in Moscow with the proper permit to be there. The official slogans for the day were: "For Russia, Against Putin," "No Elections Without Choice" (Kasparov has been denied the right to run for president), and "Your Time Has Expired." The crowd dispersed calmly at around 2:15, with roughly 200 Other Russia activists planning to continue on to the building of the Central Election Committee, located near the Lubyanka metro station. Their goal was to deliver a petition condemning the abrogation of election rights in Russia and demanding that the committee--famously under the sway of Putin's United Russia--do its job and uphold the country's constitution. The banned Bolshevik National Party, part of the Other Russia's big-tent policy of anti-Putin inclusion, led this breakaway group, which was obstructed and redirected at every point along the streets by Moscow's OMON, or Special Purposes Police Squad. OMON's Soviet-era motto is: "We know no mercy and do not ask for any."
Kasparov, who had not accompanied the petition delegation, eventually wandered over to witness their confrontation with OMON, whereupon three officers, acting under specific orders by their commander, Major-General Vyacheslav Kozlov, broke past his phalanx of bodyguards and apprehended him. Marina Litvinovich, the chess champion's spokeswoman, and Denis Bilunov, a rally organizer, managed to get beyond the cordon to deliver the petition to CEC officials, who told them to expect a reply "within three days." Also arrested were Eduard Limonov, head of the BNP and a colorful anarcho-fascist who never met a chauvinism he didn't like, and Maria Gaidar, a member of the pro-market Union of Right Forces Party (SPS), who was soon released due to her immunity as a candidate for parliament.
Kasparov was right away taken to the Basmanny Rayon police station where he waited over an hour before his lawyers were allowed to see him. One, Olga Makhailova, never made it past the OMON cordon erected outside, and she says she had to wait again before being granted access to her client when he was removed to the Meshchansky District Court. Here's how she describes what happened next:
The trial--not an arraignment, but an actual trial--began all of 15 minutes after I'd arrived. That's all the time Garry and I were given to prepare beforehand. We immediately filed a variety of motions, asking for everything from a dismissal of the case to additional time to prepare for the trial, but the judge denied them all. Well, actually, she did partially satisfy one motion: We had asked for a delay at least until Monday so the defense could have the time to prepare documents and photographs to present as evidence. The judge decided to allow us a 30 minute recess in order to familiarize ourselves with the case materials presented by the prosecution. This was regarded as a "partial satisfaction" of our motion.
The other part of the motion asked for a public trial, which obviously was denied, although a few reporters were admitted inside the courtroom. As if to heighten the farce of what promised, ab initio, to be a completely biased and doctored legal proceeding, the bulk of the prosecutor's evidence relied on supposed individual statements made by the three officers who arrested Kasparov. Here's the thing: two of those statement were identical, while the third came in two forms--handwritten and typed--the contents of which were totally different from each other. The judge also denied testimony of defense witnesses, all of whom were inconveniently stationed outside the courthouse, and Makhailova says that the documents proving the rally had been sanctioned by the city were not allowed to pass through the OMON cordon. Kasparov was charged with organizing an "unsanctioned demonstration against President Putin" and resisting arrest. The judge took 15 minutes to render a verdict and sentence of five days imprisonment in Petrovka 38, Moscow's police headquarters. Immediately following his sentencing, Kasparov's defense filed the expected appeal, which, by law, has to be adjudicated within 24 hours. The court waited until late Monday to deny it.
Kasparov says he hasn't been mistreated in jail and, at least by the looks of most of the photos and video footage of his arrest and "trial," he retains both his dignity and sense of irony about true justice in the era of "managed democracy." According to one of his other lawyers, Karinna Moskalenko, Kasparov has wisely shunned all food and water provided to him by the authorities, going on what may be history's first self-preserving hunger strike, and he has been given no phone call or visitation rights. Ominously, members of the pro-Kremlin youth movements, who have decamped outside the prison, have been proffering a "Parcel for Garry," said to consist of bread and black tea. I wouldn't eat or drink that, either, and such a seeming gesture of magnanimity on the part of paid stooges of the president has been punctuated by their constant harassment of United Civil Front supporters, to which the Moscow police turn, as ever, a blind eye.
The events in St. Petersburg on Sunday were uncannily similar. The rally there, too, was attended by about 2,000 people, of which the Other Russia claims 300 were detained. (The city puts the estimate at 100). Organizers were denied access by City Hall, however--despite such access routinely being granted to pro-government rallies--to march along Nevsky Prospect and terminate in front of the Winter Palace. Traffic was cited as the main concern. Nevertheless, brave marchers acted according to their script at 11 a.m., and this time, police swooped down within minutes to start rounding everybody up. Here is what Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, probably meant when he referred to the authorities' "heavy-handed" methods in dealing with peaceful protesters. The St. Petersburg Times reports:
The police vigorously seized both activists and peaceful pedestrians who were neither holding signs, shouting slogans or trying to break through police cordons.
Those detained were pushed into police vehicles. Among those detained were frail-looking pensioners staring in shock at the chaotic events around them.
Officers also stopped people for what initially looked like routine document checks. But their documents were perfunctorily scrutinized and a number were thrown into vans.
Among those bigwigs arrested were Maxim Reznik, leader of the pro-democracy Yabloko Party, which has suggested that police planted their own agents, masquerading as unruly, flag-wielding National Bolsheviks, to give cause for a more severe crackdown. (Lending credence to this accusation is the fact that these men were promptly released by the police.) Boris Nemtsov, the outspoken former deputy prime minister and SPS leader, was also taken in shortly after trying to talk with journalists outside the Hermitage Museum.
Comes the question: Why is Putin doing this, and incurring international censure, with an almost guaranteed landslide victory awaiting his party next month? He's both arrogant and surfeited on what he believes--largely because of his self-contrived personality cult--to be political invincibility. As he's more or less phrased it, the forthcoming election is a referendum on his rule and the future direction of Russia. Further, he realizes that George Bush, Gordon Brown, and Bernard Kouchner, all of whom spoke in almost obscenely cautious tones about last weekend's annihilation of free assembly, are powerless to challenge him. This is why Putin's encore performance was the paranoid and deranged charge that the U.S. State Department pressured the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to withdraw their election monitors for the Duma vote in order to cast doubt on its legitimacy. (It would have been easier for Foggy Bottom to await the reports of widespread rigging and corruption, but never mind that.)
"We will not allow anyone to poke their snotty nose into our affairs," said the man who has actively undermined the franchise in Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus. In fact, those monitors were recalled because Russian election officials--the very same flunkies to whom the Other Russia delivered its reform petition--purposefully delayed issuing them visas, thereby making it impossible for them to invigilate the campaigns and media coverage leading up to the election. How convenient, particularly when the director of the Leningrad oblast regional electoral commission has cited eight violations of electoral law in his purview, including various attempts to purchase absentee ballots. Even Vladimir Churov, the Putin-backed head of Russia's Central Electoral Commission, who helped peddled the sham monitor recall story, confirmed that in many regions, voters were being offered between 300 and 400 rubles ($41) for their absentee ballots, and in Krasnogvardeisk, government employees were being encouraged to use them to vote.
Forget Florida in 2000: The mere registration of an absentee ballot in Russia in 2007 counts as an actual vote. The objective is to boost turnout since, as the political analyst Alexei Makarkin told the Associated Press, "The plebiscite will become a mockery if only slightly more than half of the people vote and if only 60 percent of those vote for United Russia." And it seems the Kremlin, via its newly appointed proxies, the regional governors, have taken a special interest in seeing that public sector employees--doctors, lawyers and schoolteachers--are asked which of their relatives and friends plan to pull the lever for United Russia. Bosses have been breathing down their workers' necks to ensure an outcome favorable not only to the motherland but to continued employment. A characteristic example of such middle managerial intimidation is this one:
A teacher in St. Petersburg said the school administration told staff members to get absentee ballots from their neighborhood polling stations ahead of the election. They are to vote together Sunday at a polling station at the school.
"They didn't tell us necessarily to vote for United Russia, but you can read between the lines," said the teacher, who was willing to give only her first name, Yelena, out of fear of being fired.
That's what the new loyalty oath in Russia looks like. It's also a fair barometer of how opinions are solicited and tracked on behalf of the nation's "most popular politician." Catherine the Great, a repressive czar beloved by Western liberals such as Voltaire and Diderot, once remarked of her people, "National pride created, among a nation ruled autocratically, a sensation of liberty that is no less conducive to great deeds and to the welfare of the subjects, than to liberty itself." The KGB czar seems intent on killing the mere sensation.
Michael Weiss is associate editor at Jewcy magazine.
Reason I writing this : http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2007/11/27/citibanks-take-on-annapolis-peace-conference/
Citibank's take on Annapolis Peace Conference
Posted Nov 27th 2007 9:33AM by Zack Miller
Filed under: Analyst reports, Middle East, Citigroup Inc. (C), Politics, Israel
Israeli business site, Globes, ran an article today that summarized a recent Citibank research note. What caught my eye is that instead of publishing analysis on a severely undervalued (IMHO) Israel tech firm, Comverse Technology (OTC: CMVT.PK) or an unheard of diamond-in-the-rough (IMH0), Elbit Medical (Nasdaq: EMITF), this piece was on the take-aways of what's going on in Middle Eastern history in Annapolis, Maryland today.
If you haven't heard the harbingers of peace chirping away, you haven't see the fanfare going on in Annapolis. Everyone who is everyone is there (well, almost). Check out my piece over the weekend about two interesting stock picks as a play on the conference.
Beyond the tongue and cheek surrounding the love fest, Citibank wrote the following about the Israeli economy:
"In the past couple of years, strong domestic economic performance has allowed Israeli markets to shrug off several regional geo-political developments, including the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian Authority (PA) elections and last year's war in the north versus Hezbollah."In spite of these challenges, Israel has continued to prove its resiliency, according to the Globes article. Citibank cites only two scenarios that could significantly rattle investor confidence in the tiny country:
1. A renewed intifada, similar to what Israel experienced in the early 2000s
2. An escalation in tensions between the West and Iran, related to the latter's nuclear ambitions.
So, what's the upshot on the macro-economic effects of the post-Annapolis era?
Leave it to Citi to say it succinctly: Strong steps towards [such] normalization appear unlikely in our view.
Zack Miller is the lead equity analyst for America Israel Investment Associates, LLC., the managing editor of IsraelNewsletter.com and a former equity analyst for a leading multinational hedge fund. Author's fund holds positions in CMVT.PK and EMITF as of 11/26/2007.
Note : http://globes-online.com/serveen/globes/DocView.asp?did=1000279170&fid=980
Citi: No Annapolis factor
Renewed tension could undermine the economy.
Globes' correspondent 26 Nov 07 16:25
Citi asks," They’ll come to Annapolis- but afterwards?" It concludes that whatever the political fallout of the conference, 'the near term implications for the Israeli economy and financial markets are likely to be limited, at best."
Citi notes, "In the past couple of years, strong domestic economic performance has allowed Israeli markets to shrug off several regional geo-political developments, including the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian Authority (PA) elections and last year’s war in the north versus Hezbollah." In the long term, however, "regional political issues remain a constant in long-term Israeli risk, and any reduction in such risk - coupled with normalization in relations with its Arab neighbors - could improve the outlook for long-term growth in Israel. But strong steps towards such normalization appear unlikely, in our view."
Citi believes that regardless of the Bush administration's desire for a diplomatic success at Annapolis, and some gestures of goodwill from both the Palestinians and Israelis, and even though both sides have an interest in making progress, "major obstacles to an eventual peace deal remain - in particular the continued disagreements between Israel and the PA on West Bank settlements, the status of Jerusalem, and the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees."
As for the Israeli economy, Citi says that while it has "largely proved its resilience to strife in the Palestinian territories or on its northern Lebanese border, there are two risks that probably would have significant consequences for the local economy and markets: renewed terrorist attacks on Israeli soil, similar to the second intifada in the early 2000s; and an escalation in tensions between the West and Iran, related to the latter’s nuclear ambitions. In either of these two scenarios, private sector confidence could suffer, potentially undermining the mix of strong economic growth and inward foreign direct investment that have been key to shekel strength and low interest rates over the past year. But next week’s conference is unlikely to bring any significant progress in reducing these risks. Iran and Hamas, two major parties involved, are not coming to Annapolis."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 26, 2007
learn when it's right and has the intelligence of when a terrorist is going to strike the United Kingdom.
UK children 'groomed by al Qaida'
Monday November 5, 2007 4:43 PM
Al Qaida has begun methodically "grooming" children and young people to carry out terror attacks in Britain, the head of MI5 has warned.
In his first public speech since becoming director general in April, Jonathan Evans said the Security Service now knew of at least 2,000 individuals who posed a "direct threat to national security and public safety" because of their support for terrorism.
However, he said that MI5's efforts to counter the terrorist threat were being hampered by the continuing need to divert resources to tackle "unreconstructed" spying by old Cold War adversaries such as Russia and China.
Addressing the Society of Editors Conference in Manchester, Mr Evans said that the number of individuals identified as having links with terrorism had risen by 400 since the last assessment by his predecessor, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, a year ago. And MI5 suspected that there could be another 2,000 whom they knew nothing about, he said.
Mr Evans warned that the terrorist problem had not yet reached its peak and he endorsed Prime Minister Gordon Brown's assessment that Britain was facing a "generation-long challenge" to defeat it.
"Terrorist attacks we have seen against the UK are not simply random plots by disparate and fragmented groups," he said.
"The majority of these attacks, successful or otherwise, have taken place because al Qaida has a clear determination to mount terrorist attacks against the United Kingdom. This remains the case today, and there is no sign of it reducing."
Mr Evans highlighted the way that al Qaida was targeting vulnerable young people as terrorist recruits, with teenagers as young as 15 and 16 years old having been implicated in terrorist plots. "As I speak, terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country," he said. "They are radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism."
Mr Evans said that the terror plots were being directed from a widening range of countries beyond the tribal areas of Pakistan where al Qaida's "core leadership" was based. There were now signs that al Qaida in Iraq was seeking to promote attacks outside that country while terrorist training and planning against the UK was being carried out in war-torn Somalia.
Mr Evans said it was a matter of "some disappointment" that MI5 was still having to deal with "unreconstructed attempts" at spying by countries like China and Russia - which still had the same number of undeclared intelligence officers in the UK as it did during the Cold War. "They are resources which I would far rather devote to countering the threat from international terrorism - a threat to the whole international community, not just the UK," he said.
How I feel about this
Russia needs to stay out of the UK cause the country of Russia and the UK need to mend fences. If Russia rachets the tensions against the United Kingdom then Russia will look like the Enemy and this will not look good for Russia and it's continuation of this situation. The people need to try to
bring this situation as a time of diplomacy. I'm on the United Kingdom side of this situation. I think China should not pursue a heavy weapons program. I think China needs to pursue lite weaponry. China and the United States of America. I think have come to agreement about spying. I think Russia and the United Kingdom should come back to the table and listen to the United Kingdom demands over it's spying on the United Kingdom citizens.
Russian spying distracts from Qaeda threat: MI5
Mon Nov 5, 2007 8:51am EST
By Mark Trevelyan, Security Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) - Russian spying against Britain remains at Cold War levels, diverting intelligence resources that would be better devoted to fighting al Qaeda, the head of the MI5 intelligence agency said on Monday.
Jonathan Evans said espionage by a number of countries, also including China, was a distraction from countering militant Islamists who were growing in number and now targeting children as young as 15 in Britain.
"Since the end of the Cold War we have seen no decrease in the numbers of undeclared Russian intelligence officers in the UK -- at the Russian embassy and associated organizations conducting covert activity in this country," Evans said.
"So despite the Cold War ending nearly two decades ago, my service is still expending resources to defend the UK against unreconstructed attempts by Russia, China and others to spy on us," he added in his first public speech since taking over as head of MI5, the domestic spy agency, in April.
Evans said a number of countries were still actively seeking to steal sensitive civilian and military technology, political and economic intelligence, including via sophisticated electronic attacks on computer networks.
"It is a matter of some disappointment to me that I still have to devote significant amounts of equipment, money and staff to countering this threat," Evans said.
"They are resources which I would far rather devote to countering the threat from international terrorism -- a threat to the whole international community, not just the UK."
His singling-out of Russia underlined the poor state of relations between the two countries' governments and between their security agencies.
Each expelled four of the other's diplomats in July in a row over Moscow's refusal to extradite the chief suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic who was poisoned with radioactive polonium in London a year ago. The two sides have also suspended cooperation on counter-terrorism.
In his speech, Evans said MI5 knew of at least 2,000 British-based individuals who posed a direct threat to national security because of their support for terrorism, "and we suspect that there are as many again that we don't yet know of".
A year ago, his predecessor put the figure at about 1,600.
"As I speak, terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country," Evans said.
"They are radicalizing, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism. This year, we have seen individuals as young as 15 and 16 implicated in terrorist-related activity."
Several British militant conspiracies have featured links to al Qaeda in Pakistan, including suicide bombings that killed 52 people in London in 2005.
But Evans said plots were now being driven from an increasing range of overseas countries, including Somalia. He noted the emergence of a new al Qaeda arm in North Africa, and said the network's Iraqi branch was also intent on promoting attacks outside Iraq.
"This sort of extension of the al Qaeda brand to new parts of the Middle East and beyond poses a further threat to us in this country," Evans said.
He said Britain could expect more attacks. "I do not think that this problem has yet reached its peak."
The President of Russia doesn't like polls. He doesn't like hearing what people are thinking. He hates the debate. He hates debate and he hates the people.
If I was him I would turn this around. Vladimir Putin is a pyschotic leader. He isn't well. The reasons why are well known. He doesn't like the people and the people agree with me. He hates other organizations. He hates organizations that doesn't agree with him. If you agree with Putin then he agrees with you. Putin doesn't like people who disagree with him on the issues. He is a politically weak man. This President of Russia needs to concede that he can't get the job done in Russia.
NOTE showing the reason why I am this : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7071153.stm
Russia 'curbing poll observers
Russia is seeking "unprecedented" curbs on monitors observing its parliamentary polls, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) says.
It wants limits on the size of the OSCE delegation at the 2 December poll, and consultation on its make-up.
"This is not business as usual," an OSCE spokeswoman said, adding that such conditions could seriously limit the chance for "meaningful observation".
The OSCE international security body often sends monitors to elections.
Its 56 member states come from Europe, Central Asia and the Americas.
The body typically sends a delegation of election observers to a country after receiving an official invitation.
The OSCE says it does not enter into discussions on the size and composition of the delegation.
'Ready for dialogue'
Urdur Gunnarsdottir, spokeswoman for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said the terms suggested in the Russian letter were unprecedented.
"We have to consider its implications," she told the BBC News website.
Ms Gunnarsdottir quoted the letter as saying Moscow was "ready for a dialogue on the composition of the mission".
She said the letter from the Central Election Commission in Moscow also suggested that the OSCE delegation "could comprise up to 70 persons" - far short of the 465 sent to Russia's last parliamentary elections four years ago.
December's elections are expected to deliver victory to parties loyal to President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Putin, who steps down as president next year, is popular among many Russians for his economic and foreign policies.
However, opposition groups and human rights activists have accused him of resurrecting Soviet-era authoritarianism.
1. All Countries who are deeply invested into Iran to divest in all Iranian investments.
2. All Countries who have oil pipeline projects that are about to be promulgated and memorandums of understanding sign should turn rescind those memorandums of understanding.
3. Go to Venezuela and other Iranian allies and make deals with them to not share intelligence with Iran. And buy all weapons from those allies that Iran has sold them to those Allies to for more money.
4. If they Allies of Iran don't do that then put sanctions on those allies of Iran.
China says new US sanctions hurt talks with Iran
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Saturday, October 27, 2007
China's Foreign Ministry criticized new US sanctions against Iran on Friday, warning the measure could increase tensions over Tehran's nuclear program and calling for renewed dialogue. "China has always held that sanctions should not be lightly imposed in international relations. Dialogue and negotiations are the best approach to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue," the ministry said in a brief statement in response to a question from The Associated Press.
"To impose new sanctions on Iran at a time when international society and the Iranian authorities are working hard to find a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue can only complicate the issue," the statement said.
The new US sanctions are the most sweeping since 1979, cutting off more than 20 Iranian entities from the American financial system.
Washington has already won two UN Security Council sanctions resolutions, but Russia and China, both veto-wielding permanent council members, have said they will not support further sanctions from the body.
China's stance reflects its disdain for any measure it considers as interference in another country's internal affairs. However, China's need for export markets and energy have prompted it to draw close to Iran and Sudan, undermining attempts by the West to isolate those regimes over human rights and other issues.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is due to visit China over the weekend to lobby for intensified United Nations sanctions against Tehran.
"In the past, the need to get everybody on board, including Russia and China, has led to some compromises on the nature of sanctions. I hope this will not be the case this time," Livni told reporters earlier this month. - Agencies
Isolation policy backfires
By our staff writer
After the United States failed to convince other countries to follow its policy of attempting to isolate Iran, it adopted unilateral sanctions, targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and some financial institutions.
Washington made the move after divisions arose in the 5+1 group (five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) as Iran had succeeded in brokering a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency to clear up the remaining questions about its nuclear activities and Iranian diplomats held constructive talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the Italian prime minister, and the German foreign minister.
Making the announcement at a press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the recurrent measures were intended “to confront the threatening behavior of the Iranians,” and again claimed that Tehran supports terrorism.
The measures were adopted despite the fact that many Western countries have refused to follow Washington’s line.
Anyway, Iranian governmental and financial organizations’ relations with the U.S. have been cut since 1979.
An analysis by the Wall Street Journal states that the fact that many Western companies have chosen to continue their relations with Iran shows that the U.S. sanctions imposed on the country have come against a wall.
The United States’ hostile policy toward the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic’s lawfully established organizations runs contrary to international law, is worthless, and, as in the past, is doomed to failure.
Washington took these steps after its attempt to blame other countries for the Iraq debacle fell flat.
Ironically, the U.S. has become isolated in its endeavor to isolate Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently visited Russia and various other countries to enlist allies for the anti-Iran plot, but that was also a flop.
Speaking to a Jewish group in London a few days ago, Olmert said that at his meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin he learned that “Russia has decided not to supply nuclear fuel to Iran.”
However, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has confirmed that the fuel for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant will be supplied six months before it begins operating under the inspection of the IAEA.
Moreover, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz has revealed that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is considered a critic of Olmert’s policies, said a few months ago in a series of closed discussions that in her opinion, Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel. She also criticized Olmert for making outlandish claims about an Iranian bomb, saying that he is attempting to rally people around him by playing on their most basic fears.
In his historic visit to Tehran earlier this month, Putin emphasized the necessity of peacefully resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
His remarks after the recent EU-Russia summit in Lisbon clearly display the differences between Moscow and those countries that favor sanctions on Iran. He told a news conference that imposing sanctions would exacerbate tension over Iran’s nuclear program, and “running around like a mad man with a blade in one’s hand is not the best way to solve such problems.
Timothy Wayne Thomas
Thank you All.
Timothy Wayne Thomas
Nice to meet you too
Hi ^^ Thanks ... nice to meet you
Timothy Wayne Thomas
Timothy Wayne Thomas
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