Iran Daily Brief February 20, 2012 – Full Report

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English: Balance of trade, Iran (2000-2007). H...

International Affairs

Ahmadinejad in Islamabad for a trilateral Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran summit – The three leaders stressed the need for economic cooperation and completion of all projects, especially gas pipelines, one to import gas from Iran and the second from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and will be extended to India.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman: Military intervention in Syria will be “very dangerous” – Ramin Mehmanparast said that a military intervention in Syria will be “very dangerous” to regional security and stability. He added that the legitimate demands of the Syrian people should be met, and reforms should be made in Syria. He added that Bashar al-Assad’s government has so far implemented considerable reforms. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, praised the Syrian government for planning a referendum on Syria’s new constitution, and urged the Arab League, Europe and the UN to support the Syrian government’s bid. He also called on the Arab League to fulfill its duty to prevent any foreign interference in Syria.

Intelligence Minister: There is an ongoing all-out war against the Islamic Republic IranHeidar Moslehi stated that “Based on accurate information, Iran is currently in a ‘heavy soft war’ situation.” He added that the enemy has hatched different plots in almost all fields and that the Ministry of Intelligence has so far countered enemies’ countless plots. Moslehi noted that the plots have caused many threats, but have also created opportunities. He stressed the importance of crafting new strategies to face the new threats that have changed in nature etched against Iran.

Strong criticism of the Iranian chargé d’affaires in Egypt and Iranian policy towards Egypt in general – An editorial in Asr Iran directed sharp criticism at the positions taken by Mojtaba Amani on the chargé d’affaires of Iran on Egypt. Under the headline, “Are you protecting the interests of Iran or Egypt?!” Asr Iran comments on an interview Amani gave to Al-Ahram in which he expressed Iran’s immediate willingness to strengthen diplomatic ties with Egypt and provide urgent economic assistance to the Egyptian people as they face pressure and threats from the US. He also noted that Iranians are eager to visit Egypt. This is not the first time that senior Iranian officials express such positions towards Egypt. He remarked that Iranians have not forgotten that President Ahmadinejad announced at a press conference in 2008, “I declare emphatically that if the Egyptian government expresses readiness, by the end of the day I will open an Iranian Embassy in Egypt.” Egyptian officials at the time received his words with apathy and disregard, in Iran with surprise and shock. After the Egyptian revolutionaries won, they received a similar message from Iran, and they continued to ignore them, claiming that now is the time for a transitional government, and these matters should wait until later.

Now representatives from Iran’s Interest Section in Egypt are making statements, saying that the Iranian people are even willing to pay for renewing diplomatic ties with Egypt. They also promised that if the US stops financial aid to Egypt, Iran is ready to immediately provide alternative assistance to Egypt. The article continues to say that US aid to Egypt comes to USD 2.2 billion annually, and has totaled more than USD 71 billion since Camp David, and questions whether or not if Iran actually intends on giving this amount of aid to Egypt:

Does this gentleman really intend to give that much money to Egypt? If only the honorable patriotic diplomat’s promises were limited to financial promises, but no. He is also willing to risk the lives of the citizens of Iran, and claims that all Iranian citizens are eager to visit Egypt as tourists, even if it is unsafe! Have we become so inferior and poor that we must beg the Egyptians to let us come and visit their unstable, insecure country? Don’t worry, in the worst case, we’ll be killed. Isn’t it amazing, when a country is dangerous, the Foreign Offices of other countries issue travel advisories and warn their citizens to avoid that country, but here in Iran, the official representative of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Egypt, rather than cautioning the people against the dangerous journey to this country, is ready to send us there at any price! Where is our dignity?

Press TV vs. BBC – Iran’s state-run English language news channel, Press TV, is conducting a campaign to undermine the BBC’s credibility. In recent report, it claimed under the headline “UK media twist Iran nuclear success” that the British media have tried to downplay Iran’s recent civilian nuclear achievements with a range of tactics, from imposing partial blackout to giving coverage only to question the reliability of Iran’s announcement. Another report headlined “BBC hikes up Zionist propaganda machine” maintained that the BBC is funded and influenced by “World Zionism.”

Military Affairs

Iran prepares new surprise ahead of nuclear talks in Turkey – inauguration of Fordo uranium enrichment facility – In a special report, Iranian news website Irannuc.ir quoted an informed source in Tehran as saying that Iran has not officially announced the inauguration of the Fordo uranium enrichment facility to keep the West in suspense before a new round of talks between Tehran and the major powers (P5+1), which is expected to be held in Istanbul in the near future. Some analysts had predicted that the inauguration of the subterranean Fordo enrichment facility would also be announced during the ceremony, but the announcement was not made. “The fact that the news of the official beginning of enrichment at Fordo was not announced along with other nuclear news… will keep the West waiting for a new surprise every moment,” the source added. The report also said that experts believe that if the news of the inauguration of the Fordo facility would be announced just ahead of the new round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group, it would have a significant effect on the talks. The Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Fereydoun Abbasi, said that the generation of indigenous fuel would affect the results of negotiation with P5+1. “There is no need to exchange our fuel. We generate fuel by ourselves.” Abbasi recommended that the P5+1 choose another way since the previous ones failed. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Istanbul should host the next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 normally. Salehi noted the venue for next round of negotiations with P5+1 should be in Istanbul, but the exact time has not been made clear yet.

Defense Minister: Presence of Iranian warships in international waters shows Iran’s naval might – Ahmad Vahidi said that IRIN’s (Islamic Republic of Iran Navy) missions abroad were based on policies aimed at enhancing Iran’s naval capabilities and readiness. IRIN’s Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that Iran’s 18th fleet had sailed through Egypt’s Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, adding that this was the second time that an Iranian naval fleet had passed through the waterway since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. He noted that the mission showed that the sanctions the enemies imposed on the country had not been able to adversely affect Iran’s scientific progress and military capabilities.

IRGC Ground Forces begin a series of exercises – On Sunday morning, the IRGC Ground Forces began war games code-named, Val Fajr in Yazd Province. IRGC Ground Forces Commander, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, said the drill is the last phase of the IRGC ground forces’ series of war games attended by infantry units and some Basij members of the Imam Hossein brigade. Pakpour noted the exercise seeks to enhance defense and deterrence power, strengthen capabilities, exercise new defense tactics and apply locally made advanced equipment. Pakpour stated that integration, coordination and might for combat operations, and new joint defensive methods and tactics between infantry forces and operation brigades composed of Basij forces are among the specifications of the drills. He stressed major and the last stage of the drill would be held February 20.

First national cyber defense conference

Director of Passive Defense Organization: Iran needs to develop its own network infrastructure in order to build up defense against cyber-attacks –Gholam Reza Jalali said in an expert panel discussion about passive defense held on the sidelines of the First National Conference on Cyber Defense that “Security cannot be protected in cyberspace using the enemies’ tools. Hardware, software, and protocols that have been developed by the enemies in cyberspace cannot be used against them, so indigenous knowledge of defense should be acquired in the country …In line with this, there is good scientific potential in the country that should be utilized.” He added that there is a need to draw up a major cyber defense model which would include four components: contents and social network, defense network against threats, offence, and cyber defense industry.

Head of Ministry of Intelligence’s Technical Division: “The internet is not a tool for threats or espionage, it itself is a threat and a spy”; Iran developing its own anti-virus software Ahangaran – Addressing the First National Cyber Defense Conference, the head of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence’s Technical Division spoke about the Stuxnet computer worm, “The virus penetrated some industrial centers due to a lack of attention. According our data, it contaminated approximately 16,000 computers.” He said one of the difficulties in using the latest anti-virus software is that anti-virus software often cannot be updated because of the sanctions. Therefore, Iran has no choice but to rely on domestically produced anti-virus software. He stressed that this should be one of the goals of Passive Defense Organization.

Police Chief: Goal behind Iran’s cyber defense is deterrence. Brigadier General Esma’il Ahmadi-Moqaddam said during the closing ceremonies of the conference that the goal behind Iran’s cyber defense is deterrence. Ahmadi-Moqaddam added, “Iran should equip itself in the cyber sphere so that enemies would not dare to attack Iran. Iran has formed a cyber army and recruited forces to enhance its deterrence power rather than to wage war.” On the other hand, Ahmadi-Moqaddam warned “getting sunk in a defensive move will leave the initiative to enemies. Therefore, the defensive measures in the cyber field need to be completed by enhancing offensive (online) capabilities.” He added that “The police force with 120 national systems and subsystems is one of the most secure cyber networks in the world… Since the Iranian police force is not connected to the Internet; it has minimized its cyberspace vulnerability.”

Deputy Defense Minister named – The Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi has appointed Sardar Bokaie, Deputy Defense Minister, in place of Wahid, who has been appointed to be the Senior Advisor to the Minister of Defense.

Economic Affairs

Deputy Head of the Majlis Energy Committee: Hostile approach of EU governments will result in the halt of oil exports to their countries – Naser Sudani praised the government decision to stop the export of oil to British and French companies, saying, “This move was predictable because the UK and France have recently adopted a hostile stance towards Iran. By stopping the export of oil to the UK and France, Iran demonstrated that it will not retreat from its position… This move is in defense of the rights of the nation, the government and the Majlis.” When asked about the possibility of stopping oil exports to Spain, Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, Sudani replied, “At the moment all options are on the table.” He added that if some European countries did not abandon their hostile approach towards Iran, they would meet the same fate as the UK and France. “We have written to some European countries and asked them to reassess their hostile approach. The people of Europe should know that the ongoing hostile approach of their governments will result in the halt of oil exports to their countries.”

Leader’s International Affairs Advisor: Sanctions imposed against Iran’s oil sector by the West are of little workable value – Ali Akbar Velayati said, “More than being workable, the sanctions are sheer psychological warfare and propaganda.” He added that, since most of the Western countries are facing “bankruptcy,” they have no choice regarding the purchase of oil; as demand for oil exceeds supply, Iran’s oil will not remain without customers nor will the crude of other countries.

Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Vice-Chairman: Cutting exports of crude supplies is the best response to oil sanctions – Hossein Ebrahimi described Iran’s decision to cut oil exports to some European countries as a punitive measure that will create problems for the countries’ refineries. “When Iranian oil exports to the West are cut, they will definitely face difficulties, and we hope they will open their eyes to the move and stop taking illogical measures.” Ebrahimi added that about 80 European refineries are supplied by Iranian crude oil and that restrictions on Iran’s oil exports to Europe would serve as the best response to the bloc’s energy and banking sanctions against Tehran.

Sanctions have no impact on Iran’s export of petroleum products – In an interview with Fars News, Pedram Soltani, a Director of the Iranian Petrochemical Products Export Development Fund, said that the sanctions have no impact on Iran’s export of petroleum products, since most of its oil, gas and petrochemical exports are to China, India, Japan and Korea. He even claimed that the quantity of products exported this year has increased.

In recent months, Iran has purchased 1.1 million tons of wheat from Germany, Canada, Australia and Brazil – Citing Bloomberg, Fars News reports that despite Western sanctions, Iran has purchased 1.1 million tons of wheat from Germany, Canada, Australia and Brazil over the past several months. Furthermore, it claimed that two US companies were also involved in the implementation of these agreements.

Agreement signed for joint Iranian, Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian electrical grid – Mohammad Behzad, Deputy Minister of Energy for Electricity and Energy announced the signing of the first document establishing cooperation in operating the largest electrical network in the Islamic world, in the presence of officials from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. The signing took place in Tehran. The establishment of a joint electrical network by the four countries will eventually mean an income of approximately USD 1 billion annually from the sale of electricity for Iran.

Energy Minister Majid Namjou: Iran is planning to export electricity to Syria and Lebanon through Iraq’s power grid – Namjou said Iran is capable of exporting 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power to Iraq. “Iran is also able to export 50-100 MW of electricity to Lebanon through Syria.”

Human Rights

Death sentence for software designer – The death sentence for Saeed Malekpour has been forwarded to the enforcement branch of the Iranian judiciary. Malekpour, charged with creating indecent and pornographic websites, is now in imminent danger of being hanged. In June 2011, Malekpour’s death sentence was annulled after his lawyer disputed the charges against him and criticized the unjust sentencing. The Supreme Court acknowledged the discrepancies in the case and called for further investigation.
According to RAHANA, “In an illegal proceeding Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, with no warning and without adhering to the Supreme Court’s recommendations, reinstated the death sentence.” Malekpour, 35, is a resident of Canada and was arrested in Iran three years ago during a visit to Iran. After his arrest, state television aired his alleged confessions to the crimes; however, Malekpour has since recanted, saying the confessions were extracted during torture and physical abuse. More

English language journalist tortured and interrogated under harsh conditions before being transferred to the general wing of Evin Prison – Mehrdad Mehrdad Sarjoui, a reporter for the English-language Iran News, who was sentenced to ten years in prison, has finally been transferred to the general division of Evin Prison. Sarjoui was arrested in June 2011, held in isolation for 44 days, tortured severely and interogated for an extended period. Last August, he was accused of spying and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. During the first seven months he was detained, Sarjoui was not allowed to meet with his family in person.

Worker rights activist returned to prison against doctors’ advice – Reza Shahabi, a workers’ rights activist and board member of the Teheran Bus Company Employees Union was returned to Evin Prison from the hospital, before the medical treatment he was receiving could be completed. The doctors recommended complete rest in the hospital for three months, in order to prepare him for an urgent spinal operation in his neck. Otherwise, they claim, he is liable to suffer a permanent disability. Despite this, the regime ignored the doctors’ warning and returned him to his cell.

Harassment of Baha‘i minority continues

On Friday, eight arrests in Mashhad – On Friday, eight members of the Baha‘i community were arrested in Mashhad, on charges that they were holding a crafts exhibition in one of their homes. Security forces arrived on the scene, conducted a search, took photographs, confiscated equipment and arrested eight of the participants.

Baha‘i student expelled from university – Shima Movafaghi, a member of the Baha’i minority and a student at AMOL university was expelled from the university. University security forces prevented him from entering the campus. All of his attempts to clarify the reason for his expulsion with the Ministry of Science and other official sources were unsuccessful.

Baha‘i sentenced to six years – Adel Fanaeian, a member of the Baha‘i minority from Semnan has been sentenced to six years in prison on charges of engaging in propaganda against the regime.

Domestic Affairs

Nurses demonstrate over wages at Tehran Heart Hospital – On Sunday morning, 200 nurses demonstrated at the gates of the Hospital for Heart Diseases in Tehran to protest they way their salaries have been calculated since last spring, when the Iranian government ordered an end to the employment of contract workers, and required that nurses be employed directly by the companies and ministries. The nurses claim that although they are now employed directly by the hospital, this is only a formal act that has no meaning in terms of their conditions, rights and wages. Although the nurses are now considered state employees, they do not enjoy the same salaries and rights as other state employees.

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