Friday, September 29, 2006

Iran mulled nuclear bomb in 1988

By Frances Harrison BBC News, Tehran:

A letter from 1988 in which Iran's top commander says Iran could need a nuclear bomb to win the war against Iraq has come to light in Tehran.

The commander is quoted in the letter, written by the father of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, to top officials in the final days of the war.

It has only now been made public - by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The letter seems at odds with Tehran's statements that Iran is not seeking a bomb because it is against Islam.

The letter from Ayatollah Khomeini lists the requirements of military commanders if they are to continue fighting against Iraq.

It mentions more aircraft, helicopters, men and weapons, and also quotes the top commander saying Iran would within five years need laser-guided and atomic weapons in order to win the war.

More...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The US media's interviews with Ahmadinejad: What a mockery!

Newsweek/Washington Post:

Are you really serious when you say that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth?

AN-We need to look at the scene in the Middle East—60 years of war...

Your suggestion is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth?

AN-Our suggestion is very clear ...

You've been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth. Is that your belief?

AN-What I have said has made my position clear...


You've made statements about the Holocaust, saying it was exaggerated. Is that your opinion?

AN-It's not the numbers that are important ...

TIME:

You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

AN-People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views

Anderson Cooper, CNN:

At the U.N., you spoke with great passion of -- of brotherhood, of peace and respect for all nations. Yet, in Tehran last year, you spoke about wiping Israel off -- off the face of the -- the map, wiping Israel off the face of the map. That doesn't sound to many people in the United States, not just in the government -- to many people here, who heard that through the media, that doesn't sound like great respect for other nations. Do you want to wipe Israel off the face of the map?

AN-I'm surprised why American politicians are so sensitive and biased with -- with regards to Israel...

Of course Ahmadinejad should be taken to the task for making such outrageous comments about Israel and the Holocaust. But for God's sake isn't there ANY OTHER QUESTION you can ask him? Why do you keep asking him the same questions over and over again, thus allowing him to preach you so arrogantly with the same nonsensical sermon? Why don't you grill him the way you do your own officials? What can he and his thugs do to you here in the land of free?

Why don't you ask him about imprisonment, torture and cold-blooded murder of Iranian students and pro-democracy activists? Why don't you ask him about his role in the assassination of Iranian dissidents in Austria in 1989? Why don't you ask him about human right's violations in Iran? Why don't you ask him about his regime closing more than 100 newspapers, jailing and torturing bloggers, filtering the internet and seizing people's satellite dish's (NBC's Brian Williams was the ONLY reporter who just touched on this subject). why don't you ask him about his involvement in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis? why don't you ask him about his regime financing terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah?

After Ahmadinejad's session with with a high-level group from the Council on Foreign Relations for ninety minutes, the President of CFR, Richard Haas is quoted as saying: “I’m not sure we learned anything new,” and CFR reporter Bernard Gwertzmen admits: "Ahmadinejad repeated what he has said in previous interviews."

Really? I'm wondering why...

By the way, Anderson, we actually have a free press in America, unlike in parts of Iran? What on earth is "in parts of Iran" supposed to mean?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Watch me this Friday on Voice of America's live Persian talk show

My dear Iranian friends and readers,

Barring any unexpected development, I'll be the guest of VOA's "A Round-table with You" (mizegerdi ba shoma) this Friday, September 22 (31 shahrivar) which will discuss "disinformation" in Iran.

If you are inside Iran, you can watch it on Hotbird satellite and if you live outside the country, you can watch it here: http://www.voanews.com/persian/roundtable.cfm.

The program is aired live every day from 1:30 to 2:30 pm here on the east coast. In case you can't watch it live, the show will be available to view online for one week after its live broadcast on September 22 . Hope you'll like it and be kind enough to let me know about your opinions.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Iranian interior minister denied US visa for UN visit

Kash Kheirkhah

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and quoted by the IRNA news agency, Mostafa Pur-Mohammadi has complained to the United Nations that U.S. authorities have blocked his participation in a UN gathering by failing to issue him a visa. Pourmohamadi said the move contravenes the United States' international obligations as the host country of the UN and violates Iran's rights. The letter was delivered to the UN on September 14. Pourmohamadi had applied for a U.S. visa to attend this week's UN meeting on migration.

This development once again puctuates the significant difference that exists between the way US sees human rights violations in Iran and the way the appeasing Europeans do. While the US blocked Pur-Mohammadi's visa, Saeed Mortazavi, Iran's notorious prosecutor who has been involved in the torture and murder of Iranian dissidents, was recently allowed to participate in a human rights conference in Geneva. This is why Europe can NEVER be trusted and this why the only true ally the Iranian people have is the United States.

But who is Mustafa pur-mohammadi?

Human Rights Watch-- Minister of Murder:

During Pour-Mohammadi’s tenure as top deputy of the Ministry of Information from 1987 to 1999, agents of the ministry systematically engaged in extrajudicial killings of opposition figures, political activists, and intellectuals. In 1988, the Iranian government executed thousands of political prisoners held inside Iranian jails. The deliberate and systematic manner in which these extrajudicial executions took place may constitute a crime against humanity under international law, Human Rights Watch said. Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi was a member of the three-person committee that ordered prisoners held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison to their summary executions. From 1990 to 1999, Pour-Mohammadi was director of foreign intelligence operations in the Ministry of Information. During this period, dozens of opposition figures were assassinated abroad. In some of these cases the hand of the Iranian government has been well established, while in others there are credible allegations of government involvement. Pour-Mohammadi is at the center of strong allegations of direct involvement in orchestrating these assassinations. In 1998, agents of the Ministry of Information killed five prominent activist intellectuals in Tehran. An Iranian source with first-hand knowledge of the investigation told Human Rights Watch that Pour-Mohammadi was implicated by investigators in those killings and even that an arrest warrant was about to be issued for him. “But instead it was arranged that he leave his post in the Ministry of Information,” this source said.

Pour-Mohammadi and the 1988 Prison Massacres

Pour-Mohammadi and the 1998 Serial Murders of Dissident Intellectuals

Bush's message to Iran

David Ignatius asks President Bush to talk directly to the Iranian people. Yet, I am sure that under a regime that shuts down free papers, invades people's homes to remove satellite dishes and proudly boasts of success in filtering more than 10 million websites, the majority of the Iranians won't ever find out about the President's words-Kash:

David Ignatius-Washinton Post: What would President Bush say to the Iranian people if he had a chance to communicate directly with them? I was able to put that question to Bush in a one-on-one interview in the Oval Office on Wednesday. His answer made clear that the administration wants a diplomatic solution to the confrontation over Iran's nuclear program -- one that is premised on an American recognition of Iran's role as an important nation in the Middle East.

"I would say to the Iranian people: We respect your history. We respect your culture. We admire the entrepreneurial skills of your people. I would say to the Iranian people that I recognize the importance of your sovereignty -- that you're a proud nation, and you want to have a positive future for your citizens," Bush said, answering quickly and without notes. "In terms of the nuclear issue," he continued, "I understand that you believe it is in your interest -- your sovereign interest, and your sovereign right -- to have nuclear power. I understand that. But I would also say to the Iranian people, there are deep concerns about the intentions of some in your government who would use knowledge gained from a civilian nuclear power industry to develop a weapon that can then fulfill the stated objectives of some of the leadership [to attack Israel and threaten the United States]. And I would say to the Iranian people that I would want to work for a solution to meeting your rightful desires to have civilian nuclear power."

"I would tell the Iranian people that we have no desire for conflict," Bush added.

The Khatami visit "said that the United States is willing to listen to voices," Bush explained. "And I hope that sends a message to the Iranian people that we're an open society, and that we respect the people of Iran." Clearly, the White House wants to reach out to segments of Iranian opinion beyond the hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I asked Bush what next steps he would favor in opening dialogue with Iran. "I would like to see more cultural exchanges," he said. "I would like to see university exchanges. I would like to see more people-to-people exchanges." "I know that the more we can show the Iranian people the true intention of the American government," Bush concluded, "the more likely it is that we will be able to reach a diplomatic solution to a difficult problem."

More...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Kissinger warns of possible "war of civilizations"

  • AFP-Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned that Europe and the United States must unite to head off a "war of civilizations" arising from a nuclear-armed Middle East. In an opinion column in the Washington Post, the renowned foreign policy expert said the potential for a "global catastrophe" dwarfed lingering transatlantic mistrust left over from the Iraq war. Kissinger wrote that the big threat lay in the erosion of nation states and the emergence of transnational groups. Iran was at the centre of the challenge, he said, with its support for Hezbollah, radical Shiite groups in Iraq and its nuclear program.Washington must accept that many European nations were more optimistic about talks designed to convince Iran to halt uranium enrichment -- a process Tehran denies is aimed at making weapons, he wrote. But in return, he said, Europe should accept the process must include a "bottom line" beyond which diplomatic flexibility must not go and a time limit to ensure talks did not become a shield for "developing new assaults."

  • Yahoo News-Reza Pahlavi Offers Senators Three-Pronged Approach on Iran; Confront and Pressure the Regime, Support the People: Hosted by US Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) Reza Pahlavi of Iran affirmed the world needed to focus on the big picture regarding the crisis facing his homeland, proposing an integrated three- pronged policy approach to the clerical regime of Iran. Offering his views to US law makers, he said "the best way to deal with the Iranian regime is by confronting it, pressuring it, at the same time supporting the Iranian people." Rejecting war as a policy option, the former jet fighter pilot said, "the option of war must be taken off the table." Pronouncing "endless diplomacy" as equally ineffective, he said "it has been fruitlessly pursued, with the full weight, backing and prestige of the European Union, Russia, the UN and the United States for several years now, only resulting in the clerical regime's inching closer to its objectives of acquiring WMDs." Pahlavi reminded his audience that the Iranian regime had been dangerously emboldened by "the lack of resolve it has seen amongst practitioners of international diplomacy on Iran."

Amadi...what?

If you'd like to know what a mouthful "Ahmadinejad" is to Americans, see this funny CNN report.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bush: I signed off on Khatami's visit

Wall Street Journal--Intriguingly, the president broke a little news on the subject of Iran, acknowledging that he personally signed off on the U.S. visit this week by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. The trip has angered many conservatives because Mr. Khatami presided over the nuclear weapons development and cheating that Mr. Bush has pledged to stop. Why let him visit?"

I was interested to hear what he had to say," Mr. Bush responds without hesitation. "I'm interested in learning more about the Iranian government, how they think, what people think within the government. My hope is that diplomacy will work in convincing the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions. And in order for diplomacy to work, it's important to hear voices other than [current President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's."

One thing Mr. Khatami has said this week is that because the U.S. is bogged down in Iraq it will never have the will to stop Iran's nuclear program. Is he right? "Well, he also said it's very important for the [coalition] troops to stay in Iraq so that there is a stable government on the Iranian border," Mr. Bush replies, rather forgivingly.

On other hand, Mr. Bush remains as blunt as ever about the nature of the Iranian regime when I ask if one lesson of North Korea is that Iran must be stopped before it acquires a bomb. "North Korea doesn't teach us that lesson. The current government [in Iran] teaches that lesson," Mr. Bush says. "Their declared policies of destruction and their support for terror makes it clear they should not have a nuclear weapon."

The impression Mr. Bush leaves is of a man deeply engaged on the Iran problem and, like several presidents before him, trying to understand what kind of diplomatic or economic pressure short of military means will change the regime's behavior. One way or another, Iran will be the major dilemma of the rest of his presidency, and Mr. Bush knows it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Reza Pahlavi blasts Khatami visit

Reza Pahlavi of Iran’s
Opening Statement
The National Press Club


September 7, 2006 --...Let it be clear that, regardless of Mr. Khatami’s propaganda tour and smiling rhetoric, the true nature of the regime he represents is far different than what he wants you to believe.

There are many first hand stories that will be told here today. In the interest of equal time, I ask that you hear and retell these stories as they belong to real victims of atrocities committed under the administration of Mr. Khatami, currently on tour of the United States.

Let it be clear that, regardless of Mr. Khatami’s propaganda tour and smiling rhetoric, the true nature of the regime he represents is far different than what he wants you to believe.

Today, Iranians of all walks of life and political persuasion are committed to put and end to militancy, chaos and obscurantism; replacing it with civility, the rule of law and modernity. We seek to liberate our homeland; gain freedom and sovereignty for our compatriots; and herald an era of peace, progress and prosperity, under a secular, democratic government...

Also: Kenneth R. Timmerman-Torture Victims Blast Khatami Visit

Netanyahu: Bush preparing to ditch the UN to take on Iran alone

The New York Sun -- Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of an American tour repositioning himself for a return to the Israeli premiership, told an audience in New York yesterday that President Bush is preparing to ditch the United Nations to take on Iran alone and that American politicians of all parties would do well to stop squabbling about Iraq and join the president in focusing on threat from Tehran.

Largely ignored in the coverage of Mr. Bush's speech Tuesday on the war on terror, Mr. Netanyahu told his audience more than once, was Mr. Bush's statement that "the world's free nations will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon." Not that the "United Nations won't allow," said Mr. Netanyahu, but that the "free nations" of the world won't allow. Mr. Netanyahu called it a sign that on the Iranian problem the president was preparing to stop working through the United Nations and instead work with whoever would join him.

More...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New death of political prisoner in Iran

Human Rights Watch, New York -- The death of a second prisoner held for political beliefs in five weeks shows that political prisoners’ health and safety is in grave danger, Human Rights Watch said today. The death of Valiollah Feyz Mahdavi, which was announced by the Iranian government yesterday, followed the death of Akbar Mohammadi on July 30. Both had been on hunger strike protesting prison conditions and their detention on dubious allegations.

“Iranian prison officials have a track record of giving false information about the fate of political prisoners,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “After two deaths in just a few weeks, there must be accountability for what is going on inside Iran’s prisons.”

Mohammadi, 38, a student activist, died on July 30. His family, who saw his body at the time of burial, told Human Rights Watch that they saw numerous markings on the body consistent with torture. The authorities forced Mohammadi’s parents to bury him immediately, ignoring their demand for an independent autopsy. Justice Minister Jamal Karimirad said on July 31 that the cause of his death was unknown and that results of an autopsy would be announced in a month. More than a month later, Iranian officials have yet to provide any further information on the cause of death.

On September 6, Iranian Labor News Agency reported Mahdavi’s death, citing claims by government officials that “he committed suicide.” Mahdavi was a 28-year-old sympathizer of the outlawed opposition group Mojahedin Khalq Organization. He had been admitted to Tehran’s Shariati Hospital on Saturday, September 2, following a nine-day hunger strike.

More...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ahmadinejad plans trip to New York; speech at UN

The Financial Times : The scene is set for a clash of the "Great Satan" and the "axis of evil" at the United Nations this month when presidents George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad address the general assembly on the same day, with the US pressing the world body to impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. The White House confirmed yesterday that the Iranian president would be granted a US visa to go to New York. "This will be the debate," a US official said, referring to Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's challenge to Mr Bush to hold a televised debate. According to the UN agenda, Mr Bush is due to speak ahead of the Iranian president on September 19, the official noted.

Related:

Islamic Republic News Agency: Referring to his upcoming US visit to take part at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, The IRI President considered that occasion as a good opportunity for holding a debate, with his US counterpart, so that "the entire world nations, particularly the Americans would, directly and without any censorship watch it."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bush: Ahmadinejad a 'Tyrant'

President Bush is most definitely making a case against Iran much the same way he did against Iraq. This speech marks the first time he (as the first US president ever) officially goes so far as to mention Iran's 1979 revolution as"Shia Islamic radicalism taking over a major power" and then, in the fashion of a prosecutor, quotes Ahmadinejad's own words to build his case against him and remind his audience of the terrorist nature of the current regime in Iran:

Capital Hilton Hotel, Washington, D.C.:

This Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East. And the Shia extremists have achieved something that al Qaeda has so far failed to do: In 1979, they took control of a major power, the nation of Iran, subjugating its proud people to a regime of tyranny, and using that nation's resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue their radical agenda.

Like al Qaeda and the Sunni extremists, the Iranian regime has clear aims: They want to drive America out of the region, to destroy Israel, and to dominate the broader Middle East. To achieve these aims, they are funding and arming terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which allow them to attack Israel and America by proxy. Hezbollah, the source of the current instability in Lebanon, has killed more Americans than any terrorist organization except al Qaeda. Unlike al Qaeda, they've not yet attacked the American homeland. Yet they're directly responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans abroad. It was Hezbollah that was behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. And Saudi Hezbollah was behind the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans, an attack conducted by terrorists who we believe were working with Iranian officials.

Just as we must take the words of the Sunni extremists seriously, we must take the words of the Shia extremists seriously. Listen to the words of Hezbollah's leader, the terrorist Nasrallah, who has declared his hatred of America. He says, "Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute. Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, 'Death to America' will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America."

Iran's leaders, who back Hezbollah, have also declared their absolute hostility to America. Last October, Iran's President declared in a speech that some people ask -- in his words -- "whether a world without the United States and Zionism can be achieved. I say that this goal is achievable." Less than three months ago, Iran's President declared to America and other Western powers: "open your eyes and see the fate of pharaoh. If you do not abandon the path of falsehood, your doomed destiny will be annihilation." Less than two months ago, he warned: "The anger of Muslims may reach an explosion point soon. If such a day comes, America and the West should know that the waves of the blast will not remain within the boundaries of our region."

He also delivered this message to the American people: "If you would like to have good relations with the Iranian nation in the future, bow down before the greatness of the Iranian nation and surrender. If you don't accept to do this, the Iranian nation will force you to surrender and bow down."

America will not bow down to tyrants.

The Iranian regime and its terrorist proxies have demonstrated their willingness to kill Americans -- and now the Iranian regime is pursuing nuclear weapons. The world is working together to prevent Iran's regime from acquiring the tools of mass murder. The international community has made a reasonable proposal to Iran's leaders, and given them the opportunity to set their nation on a better course. So far, Iran's leaders have rejected this offer. Their choice is increasingly isolating the great Iranian nation from the international community, and denying the Iranian people an opportunity for greater economic prosperity. It's time for Iran's leader to make a different choice. And we've made our choice. We'll continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution. The world's free nations will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Ahmadinejad urges a return to 1980s-style radicalism

It really pains me as a secular, freedom-loving Iranian and to witness how the next generation of Iranian students will now be exposed in every aspect to mullahs' ideology of hatred, death and destruction. This definitely amounts to a crime:

Ahmadinejad wants liberal university professors ousted:

(AP) -- Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities, urging students to return to 1980s-style radicalism.

"Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with a group of students.

Ahmadinejad complained that reforms in the country's universities were difficult to accomplish and that the educational system had been affected by secularism for the last 150 years. But, he added: "Such a change has begun."

Iran retired dozens of liberal university professors and teachers earlier this year. And last November, Ahmadinejad's administration for the first time named a cleric to head the country's oldest institution of higher education, Tehran University, despite protests by students.

But Tuesday's comments seemed to follow a campaign promise by Ahmadinejad to develop a more Islamic-oriented country. Since taking office last August, he has also replaced pragmatic veterans in the government with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners.

Ahmadinejad's aim appears to be installing a new generation of rulers who will revive the fundamentalist goals pursued in the 1980s under the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Shortly after the revolution, Iran fired hundreds of liberal and leftist university teachers and expelled numerous students.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Why is Iran given so much leeway?

Die Welt--United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has just been to Tehran, with its Holocaust cartoon exhibition and proposed Holocaust denial conference. Regarding the uranium enrichment programme, he told Iran they now have two more weeks tacked on to the deadline.

Like Russia and China during the Cold War, Iran is being allowed to develop its nuclear capacity because war is not an option. No country is ready to challenge Iran effectively. Take a look at the published letters from President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad: the letters to President George Bush and to Chancellor Angela Merkel. At best, these are embarrassing, even humorous. But actually they're rather worrying. Their combination of sycophantic flattery, tendentious argument and idiosyncratic construction shows the work of a cunning yet unbalanced mind, an autodictat lost in a fantasy world of unconstrained ambition and hatred.

Yet the credible threat of war is the stick that must accompany the carrot of peace if diplomacy is to work. The way Solana and Kofi Annan openly recoil from the use of force makes it impossible to present Iran with a robust response to their defiance on nuclear enrichment. Ahmadinijad knows he can continue with impunity. The European Union and the United Nations are natural havens for appeasers. Anything but war. Today's European ethos is to maintain peace through employment and economic opportunity. The Iranians understand this.

  • The Times--Iran Impasses: Mr Ahmadinejad is a shameless showman. If he can turn this saga into a circus for his own benefit, then that is what he will do. This circus strategy will work if the EU and the United States can be divided. Their responses to Tehran’s latest stance will have been well received by Iranian hardliners.

  • The Times--Israel Plans for War with Iran and Syria: Threatened by a potentially nuclear-armed Tehran, Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources. The conflict with Hezbollah has led to a strategic rethink in Israel. A key conclusion is that too much attention has been paid to Palestinian militants in Gaza and the West Bank instead of the two biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the region, who pose a far greater danger to Israel’s existence, defence insiders say...In Washington, the military hawks believe that an airstrike against Iranian nuclear bunkers remains a more straightforward, if risky, operation than chasing Hezbollah fighters and their mobile rocket launchers in Lebanon. “Fixed targets are hopelessly vulnerable to precision bombing, and with stealth bombers even a robust air defence system doesn’t make much difference,” said Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative. The option of an eventual attack remains on the table after President George Bush warned on Friday that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

  • The Times--Russia Faces Humiliation at the Hands of Tehran: Moscow is kidding itself if it thinks it has much leverage with Tehran. The Russians offered to carry out uranium enrichment sufficient for the Iranians’ peaceable needs. President Ahmadinejad strung them along, just as he did negotiators representing the European Union. Reinvigorated by the success of his proxy in Lebanon, there is no reason why Ahmadinejad should engage with Moscow any more seriously now. Putin may be enjoying his present opportunity to thwart the Americans. But before too long he too may face humiliation at the hands of the Iranians.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Thank you Andre


One of the regrets I have for coming to North America only three and half years ago--although that was the earliest time I could leave Iran--is that I missed out a lot on life as a teenager and later young adult and that includes watching some true legends in the prime of their athletic or entertainment careers.

Tonight the world bid an emotional farewell to another one of these living legends. At the age of 36 and with a back hurting so badly that made each simple move a painful effort for him, Andre Agassi played some of the most magnificent tennis I remember in recent years, even getting better of players of top-ten seed status.

Andre lost tonight but hey, who cares really? That five-minute standing ovation in Arthur Ashe says it all:

Andre Agassi is a legend and legends live forever.

Thank you Andre.

What a shambles over Iran

The Times--...The most that the permanent members of the Security Council were poised to agree on at this stage was a travel ban on senior Iranian leaders and a partial freeze on selected assets held abroad. Unless Mr Ahmadinejad ached to visit Disneyland Paris, he was hardly likely to be troubled by this possibility.

And, in truth, he has no reason to fear that such a trip may be cancelled. For after a brief period of relative solidarity, international policy towards Iran has returned to a shambles. Erkki Tuomioja, Foreign Minister of Finland, reacted to Iran’s latest nuclear defiance on behalf of the EU by insisting that it was way “too early” to consider anything other than diplomatic activity. The Russians are more interested in selling Iran nuclear technology and arms than in preventing it acquiring such resources. The Chinese, whose enormous oil needs are serviced by Iran, are mumbling in the corner. Britain and France, which once took a comparatively tough line, have begun retreating. When President Bush speaks of the need for something to be done, he is portrayed as the reincarnation of Dr Strangelove. Our collective stance today is all holes and no carpet.

Iran is a special case because, first, it is already an established menace. It has spent the past two decades consistently seeking to sabotage any prospect of a permanent peace settlement between Israel and its neighbours and it remains dedicated to that mission...Iran is also distinct because this project is not merely about national symbolism, but also religious aspirations. It would not be an “Islamic” bomb but a “Shia Islamic” bomb,...Sunni nations, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, would, rightly, be aghast at, and uncomfortable with, the notion that they have to rely on Israel as their de facto nuclear deterrent. The incentives for them, too, to pursue nuclear status would be overwhelming...An Iranian nuclear capacity would, finally, make a mockery of the United Nations. It would be seen as confirmation that the phrase “Security Council ultimatum” is close to a contradiction in terms...

The awkward reality is that Iran will only reconsider its plans if it decides that there is a plausible chance of a military strike against it. The equally inconvenient situation is that it has absolutely no reason at the moment to assume this. Señor Solana declared that a willingness to talk did not mean that Tehran had “infinite time” at its disposal. But Iran does not need infinite time, merely long enough to obtain nuclear weapons and thus close this debate in a manner of its choosing. It is time that it is being awarded. One last Persian proverb is appropriate. It runs: “A blind person who sees is better than a seeing person who is blind.” On Iran, the world is, alas, led by the seeing blind.

Khatami's double standard

AP--ROSEMONT, Illinois : Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Saturday that U.S. foreign policy triggers terrorism and violence in the world.

Question: Mr Khatami, The United States--knowing full well what you'll have to say against them--not only granted you the US visa but is now respecting your right to free speech by allowing you to criticize it in its own territory. For your information, this is called "DEMOCRACY."

Would the leadeship of your country let a former American president do the same? Would your Islamic state let an Iranian reporter interview president Bush--no holds barred and then show it in its entirety on national television? Let's put the US aside, wouldn't the same establishment you represented for eight years and did all you could to safeguard shut you up in no time if you wanted to make a similar speech in your own country, criticizing "extremism and one-sidedness" among muslims?

Public opinion can be rescued from the grips of ignorance and blunder as you said in your speech only if you and your regime could practice what you are preaching here in the land of freedom. What a pipe dream...