Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eye on Iran: Ericsson Helps Iran Telecoms, Letter Reveals Long-Term Deal

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"The Swedish firm Ericsson is working with Iran's largest mobile telecom operator to expand its network and has promised to support another Iranian mobile carrier until 2021, according to interviews and an internal company document. The involvement of Ericsson, the world's largest mobile network equipment maker, comes at a time when many Western companies have stopped doing business in Iran because of international sanctions or concerns about damage to their reputations. While Ericsson argues in the internal document that telecommunications are a 'basic humanitarian service,' Iranian human rights groups say Iran's regime has used the country's mobile-phone networks to track and monitor dissidents... Hallstan said Ericsson's promise to continue supporting a second Iranian mobile operator, MTN Irancell, for many years falls under a 2006 contract. MTN Irancell is Iran's second largest mobile carrier. The sensitivity of Ericsson's work in Iran is made clear in a letter written by an executive of the company. On January 19, an Ericsson vice president wrote to MTN Group, a South African company that holds a 49 percent stake in MTN Irancell. In a letter marked confidential, the executive stated that Ericsson undertakes 'to not take actions that could unnecessarily bring any extra press scrutiny and that could potentially destabilize the working arrangements in Iran,' according to a copy reviewed by Reuters. The letter confirmed that Ericsson intends to 'continue supporting the MTN Irancell operation and future network expansions ... based on Ericsson's existing supply contracts ... as long as it is feasibly possible to do business in Iran.'" http://t.uani.com/SNmsWY

Reuters: "Iran is enriching uranium at a constant pace and international sanctions aimed at making Tehran suspend the activity are having no visible impact, the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief said in unusually blunt remarks on Tuesday. The point made by Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reinforced the view of many analysts that increased Western economic pressure on Iran has failed to make it change its nuclear course. He spoke a day before senior officials from six world powers were to meet in Brussels to weigh strategy towards Iran amid signs of a renewed push to resolve the dispute diplomatically after U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election... Asked whether sanctions had produced any deterrent effect, Amano told reporters in Paris: 'We are verifying the activities at the nuclear sites in Iran and we do not see any effect. They are, for example, producing enriched uranium up to 5 percent and 20 percent with a quite constant pace.' Amano, whose inspectors regularly visit Iran's nuclear facilities, added: 'It has not changed. We have observed that the progression of enrichment has been constant. There has been a steady, gradual increase in the amount.'" http://t.uani.com/T9o2mV

Reuters: "Israel's assault on Gaza's rocket arsenals is aimed at countering what it sees as a growing strategic threat posed by Iranian-supplied missiles smuggled in through Egypt... The most powerful of these were Iranian-designed Fajr-5s, with 75 km (46 miles) ranges and 175 kg (385 lb) warheads capable of reaching Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. At 6 meters (18 feet) in length, the Fajr-5s are hard to transport and conceal. The Israelis say Iran has been manufacturing them for Hamas, which brings them in through Sudan and the Egyptian Sinai, under whose desert frontier with Gaza there is a network of smuggling tunnels." http://t.uani.com/UR3tLu
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Nuclear Program   

AFP: "The standoff on Iran's nuclear programme is worrying, the head of the UN atomic watchdog said Monday, but stressed that work for a diplomatic solution should continue. Yakio Amano's comments came as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that Tehran was on the cusp of being able to triple output of nuclear material that, if further treated, could be used in the core of a bomb. 'The situation is worrying but it is important to continue to seek a diplomatic solution,' Amano told reporters after talks with French President Francois Hollande... Amano said the 'current situation is worrying but the declared material and installation facilities are under the IAEA safeguard and we can verify that they stay in a peaceful purpose. We are going to have a high-level dialogue with Iran on the 13th of December in Tehran. The way to solve this issue is by diplomatic means and we will continue our efforts,' he said." http://t.uani.com/UeidWm


"Iran's vehicle manufacturers are faced with both rising production costs and lacking some details as to how to manufacture cars after the giant international auto companies left Iran because of sanctions aimed to curb the country's disputed nuclear programme. These include Italian Fiat, German General Motors and its French partner PSA Peugeot Citroen, South Korean Hyundai and the Japanese Toyota Motor Corporation, etc... Mohammad Reza Najafi Manesh a board member of the Iranian Auto Parts Manufacturers Association announced on Nov.18 that Peugeot is keen to return to Iran, in which case it could receive revenue from its exported production to Iran. Mohammad Bayatian a member of Iranian Parliament's Industry Committee told ISNA on Nov.19 that if Peugeot returns to the Iranian market, the country's car output would be increased once again. Peugeot has not confirmed its alleged proposal to Iran officially, but regarding its increasingly financial problems, this seems believable, because Iran was Peugeot's second major market. PSA Peugeot Citroen Group, Europe's second biggest auto company, left Iran in February 2012, because of problems in financial transactions due to imposed sanctions on Iran's banking system. The financial situation for Peugeot is also not favourable." http://t.uani.com/UcLGll


AFP: "Israel's President Shimon Peres accused Iran of encouraging the Palestinians to continue rocket attacks on Israel rather than negotiating a ceasefire, saying 'they are out of their mind.' ... 'The unpleasant one is the Iranians. They are trying again to encourage the Hamas to continue the shooting, the bombing, they trying to send them arms,' Peres said in interview on CNN. 'They are out of their mind,' he said... In singling out Iran, Peres said, 'We are not going to make a war with Iran. But we are trying to prevent the shipping of long range missiles which Iran is sending to Hamas. But Iran is a problem, world problem, not only from the point of view of building a nuclear danger, but also from the point of being a center of world terror. They finance, they train, they send arms, they urge, no responsibility, no moral consideration,' Peres said." http://t.uani.com/Tdz8ua

AP: "Iran says Palestinians in the Gaza Strip should be 'equipped' to defend themselves against Israel. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast refused to comment on Israeli allegations that Iran is already sending arms to Gaza, which has been under Israel's attack since last week in retaliation for rockets fired by Hamas into Israel... Iran is a major supporter of the militant groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which controls Gaza." http://t.uani.com/SbPGjV

JPost: "The deputy leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad Nakhleh, has said that rockets fired by Hamas and the 'Palestinian resistance' at Israeli towns and cities are of Iranian origin, Lebanon's el-Nashra newspaper reported on Monday. Some of the weapons were manufactured locally in an Iranian factory, Nakhleh said, adding that the rockets Hamas has fired at Tel Aviv have a range of 'up to 80 kilometers.' ... On Monday... Iran's Persian-language Fars News, which is closely affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, published a lengthy article examining the role of the Fajr family of artillery rockets in Tehran's asymmetric warfare doctrine." http://t.uani.com/UeliG5

Long War Journal: "The Treasury Department added a Hezbollah leader who was in the US military's custody until late last year to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Mussa Ali Daqduq, the Hezbollah leader who was responsible for molding the Iranian-backed Shia terror groups into potent fighting forces and who also was involved in the murder of US soldiers, was released to Iraqi custody in December 2011 and freed late last week... In 2005, Hezbollah's leadership sent Daqduq to Iran to partner with Qods Force, Iran's elite special operations group tasked with spreading the Iranian theocracy to neighboring countries, on the training of Iraqi Shia terror groups, the US military said in a briefing in July 2007 after Daqduq's capture." http://t.uani.com/UcLXVF

Human Rights

Times of London: Iran has increased the number of public executions and amputations it carries out, taking advantage of the international focus on Gaza to reduce prison overcrowding and to issue a warning before elections in June.  At least 81 people have been hanged in the past ten days. There had been a lull during the summer for Ramadan and the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. Iran often uses periods of unrest elsewhere to accelerate the rate of executions, and the crisis in Gaza has provided such a distraction. 'We have seen in the past that every time the international community's attention is elsewhere we see a spike in executions across Iran,' Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, from Iran Human Rights, said. Human rights groups have verified almost 500 executions across Iran this year, but they believe the true figure to be much higher." http://t.uani.com/TO2MkY

Domestic Politics

Reuters: "Leading Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karoubi, under house arrest since 2011, was hospitalized briefly after showing symptoms including weight loss, dizziness and nausea, his website said on Tuesday. Karoubi, 75, and fellow reformist Mirhossein Mousavi ran for election in June 2009 and became figureheads for Iranians who protested against the vote they believed was rigged to bring back President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... Hardliners have asked the judiciary to execute the two opposition leaders, calling them 'seditionists' who aimed to topple the clerical establishment. But authorities have chosen so far to isolate rather than officially arrest them. 'Mr. Karoubi was hospitalized for some hours in one of the hospitals belonging to the security institutions,' his website Sahamnews said. 'This action by the security institutions followed warning signs relating to Mr. Karoubi's physical condition.'" http://t.uani.com/UR2Amd

Opinion & Analysis

Gerald Seib in WSJ: "The crisis in Gaza is a direct confrontation between Israel and Hamas' Palestinian leadership, with a few other players-Egypt, Turkey and the U.S.-hovering around the edges, trying to arrange a cease-fire. But looming over the proceedings is another significant power: Iran The Iranian factor rears its head in multiple ways. Iran, most analysts believe, provided the longer-range rockets that have set this round of hostilities apart from others. Those rockets-likely versions of Iran's Fajr-5-have given Hamas, for the first time, the ability to reach at least the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That has raised the stakes, to say nothing of the tensions inside Israel. Hamas probably had relatively few of those longer-range rockets at the outset-a small fraction of an overall stockpile that one intelligence official estimates still includes about 8,000 rockets-and that limited supply of longer-range rockets already may have been either used up or destroyed by Israel. What's left behind are cruder and shorter-range rockets, some of the homemade variety, analysts believe. Still, the Hamas-Israel standoff has taken on a new character as a result. But the Iranian relationship to the crisis doesn't stop there. Israeli officials don't rule out the possibility that Iran's leaders may have helped prompt Hamas to step up its firing of rockets into Israel in recent weeks as a way to distract and tie down Israeli forces on the country's western border. That, Iran might calculate, could reduce the chances Israel would direct its military attention eastward, toward Iran and an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The flip side of that possibility is intriguing as well. By opening the way to a harsh Israeli reprisal in coming days, Hamas might simply be giving Israel an excuse to take down much of the Hamas military capability, at least for now. And that would weaken Hamas' ability to launch any reprisal attacks on behalf of its Iranian allies later on, should Israel choose to go after that Iranian nuclear sites. If that's the case, Hamas might in the long run, and quite unintentionally, be allowing Israel to reduce one worry as it contemplates action against Iran." http://t.uani.com/TVPdT0

Alastair Jamieson in NBC News: "It was an unguarded comment that may have strayed close to the truth: Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said he believes tensions over Iran were behind the Israel-Gaza violence. That remark - made in a radio studio when he thought he was off the air - echoes a theory that Tehran's fingerprints are all over the current escalation of violence.   Realizing that he was actually live on air, Sacks did not elaborate on his theory but Western intelligence agencies and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) do agree that longer-range rockets being fired toward Tel Aviv are Iranian-manufactured Fajr-5 missiles. The Fajr-5s are assembled locally after being shipped from Iran via Egypt's Sinai region from where they are smuggled into Gaza through tunnels, the IDF says on its own public information site. Israel believes weapons travel via Sudan - a theory underlined when it launched airstrikes on an apparent arms factory there last month, killing two people. Two Palestinian militant groups - Islamic Jihad and Hamas - have claimed to have fired Fajr-5s. Hamas calls its rockets "Palestinian made" and does not acknowledge receiving weapons from Iran, although it does refer to Iran as a 'supporter of the resistance.' A senior Iranian lawmaker has denied supplying Hamas with weapons. 'We deny having delivered the Fajr-5 to the Palestinian resistance,' Allaeddine Boroujerdi, head of the Tehran parliament's foreign affairs committee said on Saturday, according to the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon.  He added that Hamas was 'perfectly capable of producing the arms it needs.' So who is telling the truth? On Monday, the Wikileaks site reposted on Twitter a link to a 2009 diplomatic cable, first leaked last year, detailing Israeli intelligence on how Iran was supplying Hamas with long-range weapons and how such artillery was being brought into Gaza. That viewpoint is shared by retired General Barry McCaffrey, a security consultant and NBC News analyst, who told MSNBC's Alex Witt:  'I think the Iranians have manipulated particularly [Lebanon-based] Hezbollah but also Hamas. They've equipped them with significant amounts of rocketry. One of the unclassified figures was 120,000 rockets in either southern Lebanon or Gaza in the range of Israel, so the Iranians are actively promoting trouble in Syria and Lebanon and Gaza.' Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow at the British think tank Chatham House, told NBC News' U.K. partner Channel 4 News there were some indications that shifting allegiances might point to Iran's motives. 'In the background, for more than a year, Qatar, Jordan and other Gulf states have been trying to prise Hamas away from its recent alliance with Iran in return for stronger support from the Arab world,' she said. 'Iran may be trying to wreck this by dragging Hamas back into a military conflict where it needs its Iranian rockets.' Supporting that theory, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday accused Qatar of helping in the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari by planting spy devices in Gaza. It alleged that the emir of Qatar, King Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, distributed watches and ballpoint pens among Hamas leaders when he visited the area in October, and that those items contained transmitters that emit signals to Israeli satellites." http://t.uani.com/SbREka

Barry Rosen in Fox News: "Ben Affleck's recent film 'Argo,' which is about the escape of six Americans who were serving in our embassy in Teheran when radical supporters of Iran's emergent Islamic Republic seized it in November 1979, is an engaging escape from reality. Of course, that's fine for entertainment, which 'Argo' provides very ably and generously. Daring CIA personnel smuggle the six understandably fearful embassy staffers from Iran despite great odds. What a thrilling victory for the good guys! But America lost in the real event, which marked the beginning of modern terrorism. The biggest losers certainly were and remain those who were kept prisoners until late January of 1981: 52 of us, together with our families. Not surprisingly, the former hostages, who are alive these 33 years later, still suffer symptoms of the physical, psychological and emotional pain of the 444 days... I will live the rest of my life as a permanent victim of terrorism. The recent tragedy in Benghazi, where American ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were murdered adds to the sad evidence that more terrorism against American embassies and consulates is to be expected. What to do about it? One of the steps taken after the 444 days spent in abject terror by us kidnapped and tortured diplomats was the signing the 'Algiers Accords,' so called because they were brokered by the Algerian Government, that resulted in our release from our long nightmare. The Accords reinstated American banking and construction interests by arbitrating their claims against Iran through the United States Claims Tribunal. The industries were thus protected, but not the hostages, who were banned from the systems of justice by the terms of this agreement. But Congress has now acted and asked our government to fulfill some of the 33-year-old promises made before we were released. A bipartisan House Resolution (H.R.) 5796, the Justice the American Diplomats Held Hostages in Tehran Act, is now under consideration. With 69 co-sponsors, it proposes establishment of a 'common fund to pay claims to the Americans held hostage in Iran, and to members of their families.' One of its attractive features is not asking the American public to pay a penny of the compensation, which will come entirely from the sanctions currently imposed on those criminal commercial ventures that illegally do business with Iran. We hope its passage will send a message to those who serve our country as diplomats that their rights are worth protecting." http://t.uani.com/UR5Ldw

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email Press@UnitedAgainstNuclearIran.com

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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