Roundup of Today’s International News 13/10/11
FOILED IRANIAN TERROR PLOT
Intel chair: “Chain” of Iran plots possible
The alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States was comically amateurish, but the U.S. government believes not only that it was approved at high levels in Tehran but also that it was not the only plot, CBS News correspondent Bill Plante reports. “There may be a chain of these things,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday.
U.S. Moves to Isolate Iran, Push Stronger International Action
The U.S. launched a full-court press portraying Iran as an outlaw state that threatens global security. In doing so, the Obama administration laid the groundwork yesterday for efforts to ratchet up multilateral sanctions, isolate the regime diplomatically and perhaps take other actions.
Alleged Iran plot may have violated U.N. treaty
An alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States may have violated a U.N. treaty protecting diplomats and could escalate the crisis to an international court. […] If they were involved in a plot to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, that would likely violate the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons. The treaty, which Iran signed in 1978, would require Tehran to consider prosecuting Shakuri in its court system or extradite him to a requesting country, potentially the United States or Saudi Arabia, both longtime foes.
What U.S. should do about Iran
[…] While awaiting greater clarification from those responsible for moving forward with the prosecution against Arbabsiar and Shakuri, the United States should explore several options: 1. Bring the assassination and bombing plan to the United Nations Security Council and seek much tougher sanctions against Iran; 2. Encourage Saudi Arabia to review and revise its contractual arrangements with any country that refuses to support the imposition of tougher sanctions against Iran;…
Saudis say Iran must ‘pay the price’ for alleged plot as US resists retaliation
Saudi Arabia has issued a menacing warning to Iran that it will have to pay a price for the alleged plot to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate its ambassador in Washington. […] Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to Washington and former head of the Saudi intelligence service, told a London conference: “The burden of proof and the amount of evidence in the case is overwhelming and clearly shows official Iranian responsibility for this.”This is unacceptable. Somebody in Iran will have to pay the price.”
Saudi Arabia weighs response to alleged Iran plot
Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was weighing its response to an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate its ambassador in Washington that has increased tensions between OPEC’s two top oil producers. Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, on a visit to Austria, said the kingdom would have a “measured response” to the alleged plot. […] Prince Saud said this was not the first time Iran had been suspected of similar acts, and condemned Tehran for trying to meddle in the affairs of Arab states. Asked what actions Saudi Arabia might take, he said: “We have to wait and see.”
Iran, the US, and Saudi Arabia
The alleged recent plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States has triggered anxieties about Iran’s policies toward Arab countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, and its intentions for regional hegemony. With the advent of the Arab Spring, Iran has been attempting to affect developments in almost every nation it believes it has a claim to – Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Many Arab nations view these actions as unwelcome Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the “Arab world”, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Iran Experts Question Qods Role in Alleged Terror Plot
The charges raised questions about whether the alleged plot was approved by Iran’s regime or whether rouge elements within the Qods Force orchestrated it. “It would be political suicide for Iran’s government to do this and the Qods Force could never act independently and without approval from the higher ups,” said Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former member of Iran’s nuclear-policy team who is a fellow at Princeton University.
Ahmadinejad unveils doc on Iran’s nuclear project
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a documentary film on Iran’s nuclear program during a ceremony at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall on Tuesday. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini and a number of cultural and military officials attended the unveiling ceremony of “Uncontained”, which has been described as “an aspect of soft power of the Islamic Revolution” by its producer, the Safir Documentary Film Center.
Iran: Airline Banned on Ticket System
The International Air Transport Association said Monday it had suspended Iran Air, the Iranian national airline, from the system for processing international ticket payments as a result of strengthened American economic sanctions against Iran.
Iran Assassination Claim Could Harm Push for Atomic Deal
Prospects for a negotiated solution to the dispute over Iran’s atomic activities stand to suffer over U.S. assertions tying the Middle Eastern nation to a purported plan to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s top envoy in Washington, Reuters on Wednesday quoted experts as saying. “I wouldn’t say that [nuclear dialogue with Iran] is dead forever,” said Gala Riani, a Middle East expert with IHS Global Insight in London. “But it is difficult to see it being restarted anytime soon”.
UN Secretary General “deeply troubled” by developments in Iran
For the fourth consecutive year, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has strongly criticized Iran’s record on human rights, saying violations have “continued and intensified” over the last 12 months. Iran has stepped up its crackdown on human rights defenders, women’s rights activists and journalists, Mr. Ban said in a report released yesterday.
Report of the Secretary-General: The situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Concerns Iran film star Marzieh Vafamehr ‘to be lashed’
Australia has expressed concern over reports that an Iranian actress has been sentenced to jail and 90 lashes for being in a film critical of Iran. Marzieh Vafamehr starred in the 2009 Australian film My Tehran for Sale, about an actress whose work is banned. […] Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd urged Iran “to protect the rights of all Iranians and foreign citizens”.
UK consulting with U.S. on more Iran sanctions
Britain said on Wednesday it is consulting with the United States and other countries about imposing further sanctions on Iran following U.S. allegations of an Iranian-linked plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
Activists: Italian news service was disrupted to gag voice on Iran
Hackers who disrupted the website of Rome-based news agency Adnkronos this week were attempting to silence ‘an independent voice’ reporting on Iran, two Iranian opposition activists stated Thursday.
Jordan blasts alleged Iran-backed attempt to kill Saudi envoy
The Jordanian government on Wednesday strongly condemned the alleged Iran-backed plot on the life of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Adel al-Jubeir. ‘Jordan categorically rejects and strongly denounces the targeting of any Saudi official or national symbol,’ Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said in a statement carried by the official Petra news agency.
Saudi Arabia, GCC condemn ‘abhorrent’ plot to kill Saudi envoy
Saudi Arabia strongly condemned on Wednesday the “sinful and abhorrent” attempt to assassinate its ambassador to Washington, a day after the United States claimed Iran was behind the plot. “The Saudi government appreciates the efforts exerted by the American authorities … in uncovering the plot,” The Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source as saying.
Syrian cleric warns U.S., Europe against attack
Syria’s most senior Sunni Muslim cleric has warned the United States and Europe that his country would unleash suicide bomb attacks in their countries if they launched military strikes against Syria. Mufti Ahmad Hassoun, whose son was shot dead by gunmen in the northern province of Idlib a week ago, made the comments to a visiting Lebanese delegation late Sunday.
Iran can step in after Turkey break with Gazprom
Iran said on Wednesday that it was ready to boost its gas exports to neighbouring Turkey, after Turkish Botas ended its deal with Russia’s Gazprom , a senior official told the semi-official Mehr news agency. […] Oji said : “Iran’s gas export to Turkey has increased by 12 percent from March and NIGC has averagely delivered more than 24 million cubic metres of natural gas to Turkish Botas per day.”
Popular Candidate Worries Secular Tunisians
Free elections are set to take place for the first time next week in Tunisia, the country that set the Arab Spring in motion. The strongest party could turn out to be that of Rashid al-Ghannushi, an Islamist who returned to his country from exile in London, in a developement that worries many secular Tunisians.
U.S. Imposes Terrorism Sanctions on Iran’s Mahan Air
The U.S. imposed sanctions on Mahan Air, an Iranian commercial airline accused of “secretly ferrying operatives, weapons and funds” on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mahan Air is “yet another facet of the IRGC’s extensive infiltration of Iran’s commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, in an e-mailed statement.
U.S. eyes Iran’s central bank as sanctions target
The U.S. Treasury’s top official fighting the financing of terrorism said on Thursday that Washington was considering additional sanctions on Iran’s central bank to further isolate the country financially. In testimony prepared for delivery to the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen said the Obama administration’s efforts to tighten the financial and commercial screws on Iran were paying off, but other approaches were also being considered.
INTERVIEW: US-Iran enter ‘new cold war’
Ali Alfoneh: “I personally don’t believe that Iran’s supreme spiritual guide is behind the conspiracy. Ayatollah Khamenei is far too prudent for that. It seems that the Army of the Guardians of the Revolution, and especially Sepah Qods, the external branch, are behind it. Their goal is to stoke up tensions between the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
‘Iran-Zetas Plot’ Reveals Sketchy Knowledge of Mexican Underworld
The alleged Iranian plot to pay the Zetas drug gang to murder a Washington ambassador sounds like the idea of someone who has little knowledge and even less contact with criminal groups in Mexico.
Iran Terror Plot and Mexico’s Drug War: Who are the Zetas?
[…] Iran’s choice of cartels was an appropriate one. Not only have Los Zetas “clearly become the biggest, most serious threat to the nation’s security,” according Mexican scholar Raul Benitez, the D.E.A. considers them the “most technologically advanced, sophisticated and violent of these paramilitary enforcement groups” in Mexico.
Shmatko Hopes for Talks on Iranian Oil Field
Russia hopes for further talks about the development of an Iranian oil field after Iran ousted Gazprom Neft from the project, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Thursday. “We count on discussing this with our Iranian colleagues in the near future,” he told reporters after a Presidium meeting, Interfax reported. The National Iranian Oil Company said earlier this week that it abandoned the plan to develop the Azar field jointly with Gazprom Neft, saying the Russian company showed a lack of interest.
Russia ‘concerned’ over new EU sanctions against Iran, Belarus
Russia has said it is concerned over new EU sanctions against Iran and Belarus. Earlier this week, the foreign ministers of the 27 EU nations voted to impose visa bans and asset freezes on 16 Belarusian officials and 29 Iranian individuals, extending previous measures in response to crackdowns on dissent.
Iran, Korea Trade Surges to $10 Billion in First Half, IRNA Says
Trade between Iran and South Korea surged to $10 billion in the first six months of 2011, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing South Korea’s ambassador in Tehran, Park Jae-Hyun. The Iran-South Korea trade was worth $12 billion in 2010, the South Korean diplomat said, according to IRNA.
Iran to open accounts with Indian banks for oil payment
Iran’s central bank will open accounts with two Indian banks to receive part payment for New Delhi’s oil imports and use that money to pay for Indian exports, according to an industry source and newspaper report. Indian oil firms will pay 20 percent of their dues to Iran through rupee accounts in India’s state-run IDBI Bank Ltd. and UCO Bank, the source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Iran takes one gas field from China to push it on another
Iran has suspended a $16 billion gas field contract with China in the Gulf to push it to meet its obligations in another nearby field that is already being tapped by Qatar, the Mehr news agency reported Tuesday. It quoted the managing director of the Pars Oil and Gas Co, Moussa Souri, as saying “the development contract for North Pars (field) with the Chinese is temporarily suspended.” […] He added that Iran’s decision to let the Chinese develop the North Pars field “hinges on their activities in the development of South Pars’ Phase 11.”
Iran Threatens Global Maritime Stability
This past week, Iran announced the deployment of a ship-based missile designed to destroy warships and coastal targets, with a range of about 125 miles. This would give Iran the ability to target shorelines from international waters. Additionally, Iran’s naval commander said that Islamic Republic warships could someday reach America’s Atlantic seaboard. While many defense analysts believe that reaching the US coast is well beyond Iran’s naval capabilities, this new rhetoric reflects Iran’s determination to upgrade, develop and expand its marine fleet.