Newscast Media BEIJING, China—Russia and China have set two standards: ‘No’ to bombing Iran, and another ‘No’ to regime change in Syria brought about through a Western intervention campaign.
Moscow and Beijing on Wednesday reaffirmed their strong opposition to intervention in Syria in a joint statement issued after talks between China’s leaders and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing.
“Russia and China are decisively against attempts to regulate the Syrian crisis with outside military intervention, as well as imposing a policy of regime change, including within the Security Council,” the statement said. The neighbors also came out against any use of military force or “unilateral sanctions” against Iran in the statement, released after China’s Premier Wen Jiabao met visiting Iranian President
Putin and Ahmadinejad will meet on Thursday, as Moscow prepares to host more talks later this month aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program. Moscow and Beijing have remained in lockstep over Syria, opposing foreign intervention and forced regime change in the country.
On Wednesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Beijing heeding opposition groups’ calls for the forcible removal of the Assad regime would lead to “catastrophe” in the state.
He reaffirmed China and Russia’s support for the Annan plan, and called for a new international meeting on Syria to include Turkey and Iran. “We think it is necessary to call a meeting of countries that truly have an influence on various opposition groups,” he added, citing the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League, the European Union, Turkey and Iran, after meetings with Chinese leaders.
The two countries have also agreed to build military ties, as the United States turns the focus of its huge firepower towards the Pacific—China’s backyard. “Not long ago in the Yellow Sea, we successfully carried out the first Russian-Chinese joint naval exercise,” said Putin during a meeting with China’s likely next leader, Vice President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.
China’s President Hu Jintao, speaking in an interview released by the official Xinhua news agency Wednesday, said countries should refrain from escalating the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
Hu also said China, Russia and other SCO member countries had vowed to play a bigger role in Afghanistan, as NATO forces prepare to pull out. “We will… play a greater role in the peaceful reconstruction process in Afghanistan,” Hu said in an interview published in the People’s Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling
Communist Party. http://www.newscastmedia.com/syria-iran.htm
Newscast Media TEHRAN, Iran—Iran’s Press TV is reporting that a senior Iranian lawmaker has confirmed that the downed US Sentinel reconnaissance drone has been decoded, making such an achievement a turning point in the Islamic Republic’s technological breakthrough.
“The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in a major and successful move has decoded the records on the downed US RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance drone. It is a turning point in Iran’s capabilities and technological progress,” the Chairman of Iran’s Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Tuesday.
Boroujerdi went on say that the move shows the capabilities of the skillful Iranian scientists in making an Iranian reconnaissance drone, more advanced than the American one.
On December 4, the Iranian military’s electronic warfare unit announced that the country has successfully downed the US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth reconnaissance aircraft inside Iran with minimal damage.
The aircraft, designed and developed by Lockheed Martin, had crossed into Iran’s airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.
Navy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced on April 22, 2012, that Iran had successfully decoded all the records on the downed US Sentinel reconnaissance drone.
“There were numerous codes, but we obtained all the information on its memory, including the protocols, repairs and flight sorties; for instance, the data of a flight after repairs in 2010 or the [drone's] deployment in the operation against [slain al-Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden in Pakistan,” said Rear Admiral Fadavi.
Last year, the U.S. attempted to persuade Iran to return the drone, but Iran insisted that the drone was a gift from the USA to Iran, and it is considered rude to return a gift to someone who sent it.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Just as in the past, whether the next round of talks on the Iranian nuclear issue, due to be held in Baghdad on 23 May, can be fruitful lies in the United States and Iran finding common ground.
In fact, although Saturday’s talks in Istanbul finished on a positive note, with Iranian chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, describing them as “very successful” and a White House spokesperson praising Iran’s “positive attitude”, achieving a permanent and peaceful solution will be difficult, as the US and Iran disagree over the core issue of whether Iran should develop its own uranium enrichment capacity.
Prior to Saturday’s talks, the Obama administration had emphasized that negotiations between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran had not met expectations.
It said Iran had not cooperated with the agency on key issues such as clarifying suspect nuclear items and permitting on-site inspections of nuclear facilities. If Iran does not change its attitude, even if there are further negotiations between Iran and “Five plus One” countries – the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany – it will be hard to make substantial progress.
The Obama administration wants to settle the Iranian nuclear issue before the US presidential elections in November. But at the moment it faces a challenge trying to coordinate policy goals with the Israeli government, with which it already has differences over the establishing of Jewish settlements in Israeli occupied territories.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US in March, Obama said that the US will do everything it can to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons because it doesn’t serve the US and Israeli’s security interests. But he also said there is still the possibility of solving the issue through diplomacy. This was widely interpreted as Obama trying to restrain Israel from launching military strikes against Iran.
It is generally believed that Israel will not be able to launch a successful military attack on Iran without the US’ support, but the Israeli government has declared several times that it will launch military attack on Iran before the US presidential election in November.
During his visit, Netanyahu also declared that Israel would not make a commitment to inform the Obama administration before taking military action against Iran. In fact, the “red line” that would trigger a military attack on Iran is quite different for the US and Israel. For the US it would be Iran’s decision to make nuclear weapons, while for Israel it is Iran’s capability to make nuclear weapons.
But it is generally believed that Israeli air strikes would only delay Iran’s nuclear program rather than completely destroy its capacity to develop nuclear weapons, and that they would give Iran’s leaders the pretext to publicly commit to making nuclear weapons. This is not what Obama administration wants.
Another challenge the administration faces is controlling rising oil prices.
Since late 2011, the Obama administration has urged the major countries importing oil from Iran, to stop or reduce these imports. EU countries, South Korea, and Japan soon followed the US’ bidding. This has hit Iran’s economy, as oil exports, which are regarded as its economic lifeline, have declined sharply. But it has also led to rising international oil prices.
The Obama administration believes that with Iran’s domestic commodity prices already rising and its currency devaluing, the Iranian people will become more and more dissatisfied with the government, forcing its leaders to abandon the country’s nuclear program.
Moreover, the US is still trying to disentangle itself from Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and whether the Obama administration is willing to commit the US to a new conflict in the Middle East is a big decision.
It is thought that if the US did launch a military attack on Iran together with Israel, it would win wide political support and boost Obama’s re-election chances. But this support would be temporary, and if Obama was elected for a second term his administration would be left with the consequences.
So there may still be hopes of peace in the Persian Gulf, as Obama has repeatedly held out olive branches to Iran since he took office, and Iran’s top leader has praised Obama for restraining Israel.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
Newscast Media TEHRAN, Iran — In a series of upcoming ground war games scheduled to take place in Eastern Iran, the Iranian Army Ground Force will be testing its equipment, a senior military official announced. Commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told Fars News Agency that his forces will stage the dills in Eastern parts of Iran in February.
In regard to the details of the drills, Pourdastan said, “In the wargames, the latest equipment and combat systems of the Ground Force together with modern combat tactics will be tested and evaluated.”
The announcement came a day after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force ended a series of military exercises in Iran’s Eastern regions. The drills, codenamed as Shohaday-e Vahdat (Martyrs of Unity), were carried out in Khaf general zone, East of Iran.
Exercising tactical strategies and asymmetric tactics of the IRGC combat units was among the main objectives of the drills.
The IRGC’s new drills came less than a week after Iranian Navy wrapped up its 10-day naval drills in the international waters in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean.
This psychological warfare has been going on for the last few months, between the West and Iran. The Islamic Republic has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if attacked.
Source: Fars News Agency
Newscast Media TEHRAN — Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said at a press conference on Thursday that the naval maneuvers dubbed Velay at 90 will start on Saturday and will cover an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden. According to Sayyari, this is the first time that Iran’s Navy carries out naval drills in such a vast area.
He added the exercises will manifest Iran’s military prowess and defense capabilities in the international waters, convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries, and test the newest military equipment among other objectives of the drills.
Rear Admiral Sayyari said that the newest missile systems and torpedoes will be employed in the maneuvers, adding that the most recent tactics used in subsurface battles will also be demonstrated in the maneuvers.
He also said that Iranian destroyers, missile-launching vessels, logistic vessels, drones and coastal missiles will also be tested. Iran stages several air, land and sea war games each year to test its newly produced weapons and equipments.
In the last naval drills staged by the Iranian Army, in May 2010 a six-staged naval maneuver was held, codenamed Vellay at 89, in the Strait of Hormuz and Northern Indian Ocean.
Source: FARS News Agency
Newscast Media JERUSALEM (Xinhua) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday refuted recent media reports that Israel is gearing to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“At the moment, we have no intention to act (against Iran). However, the State of Israel is far from being ‘frozen in fear,’ or unable to take steps against the threat of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons,” Barak told Israeli public radio.
He said that while Israel and the United States were in an agreement on how to deal with the threat, “We don’t see eye to eye on everything.”
Barak’s comments came after U.S. military chief General Martin Dempsey said Wednesday that it was unclear whether Israel would alert his country prior to an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.
Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, also acknowledged that the U.S. and its ally were at odds over the best way to approach Iran’s nuclear program, with the former being convinced that sanctions and diplomatic pressure are the right path to follow.
The release of a report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month confirmed long-voiced concerns by Israel’s leadership that Iran was clandestinely pursuing a nuclear program with military goals.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have since called on the international community to make an all-out effort to stop Iran’s drive to acquire nuclear weaponry by sanctioning the Islamic Republic’s oil and gas sector and central bank.
The U.S. partially heeded the call, announcing a new round of sanctions against Iran on Nov. 21 that target its petrochemicals industry. Britain, France, Canada and some other countries said they would join U.S. efforts to intensify punitive financial measures against Iran.
Despite the latest statements by Barak and Dempsey, both Israel and the U.S. have not ruled out the option of a military strike to thwart Tehran’s nuclear drive. Following the publication of the IAEA report, Barak said that Israel was not relying exclusively on “lethal” international sanctions to keep atomic weapons out of Iranian reach.
“As long as no such sanctions have been imposed and proven effective, we continue to recommend to our friends in the world and to ourselves, not to take any option off the table,” Barak said.
According to Israeli media, Barak and Netanyahu have already sought a cabinet majority for a military strike.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful — mainly geared to produce electricity. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned that a harsh response would follow an attack on his country’s nuclear facilities.
Newscast Media TEHRAN — Iran dares Israel to attack, because the retaliation would send the Jewish state to “the dustbin of history,” a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said, according to the Fars news agency Monday.
“Our greatest wish is that they commit such a mistake,” the chief of the Guards’ Aerospatiale division, Amir-Ali Hadjizadeh, was quoted as saying. “For some time there has been a hidden energy we hope to expend to consign the enemies of Islam forever to the dustbin of history,” he said. “Our ballistic (missile) capacity never ceases to grow,” he added.
These comments came as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to rule out speculations about a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, again insisting that the “time has come” to deal with Iran.
“I don’t think that that is a subject for public discussion. But I can tell you that the (International Atomic Energy Agency) IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world, leaders as well as the public, and people understand that the time has come,” Barak claimed in an interview with CNN on Sunday without being questioned about Tel Aviv’s reported possession of nuclear warheads.
Barak’s remarks were described by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi as futile attempts to wage a psychological warfare against the Islamic Republic.
The US and Israeli threats stem from their weakness and incapability and they sound more like psychological operations, Vahidi said on Sunday.
Source: Al-Manar TV Lebanon