Windows on Iran - Part 35
by Fatemeh Kashevarz
The Best in the World
Iranian Americans of all backgrounds and political persuasions take a lot of pride in educational achievements in Iran. The latest clip of film (one minute) circulating in the community quotes the chair of the department of electrical engineering at Stanford as describing the department of electrical engineering in Sherif University in Tehran to be the best in the world! http://youtube.com/watch?v=s957W6jomBc
Iran’s Role in Afghanistan
In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, in a feat of courage unprecedented for US-supported local leaders, contradicted the US claims that Iranian arms were helping to erode the security situation in Afghanistan. He described Iran as “a helper and a solution.”
“Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in the interview conducted Saturday. He went on to say that Afghanistan and Iran had “very, very good, very, very close relations. ... We will continue to have good relations with Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.” Here is a brief commentary: If you have wondered why President Karzai should be so ungrateful as to make such embarrassing comments about his American friends, the simple explanation is that he is the one who has to face the Taliban and the al-Qa’ideh on the ground. He knows who in the region will come to his help. Furthermore, Iran rushes to Karzai’s help in facing these extremist groups because they are its sworn enemies as well. If that is not enough, they infest the region with their narcotic trade. Iran loses about 300 soldiers annually preventing drug dealers from crossing into the country. Finally, instability in Afghanistan is not good for Iran which has ethnic populations close to the border, and which would love to see economic ties (rather than ethnic uprisings) on the two sides of the border.<>
All right, call this one the happy window! I have more good news:
Americans Wage Peace on Iran
It is unfortunate that we hear a lot more about war-mongers than those who wage peace. The truth is a large number of peace loving Americans are devoting their time and life precisely to that, chief among them CodePink. When Leslie Angeline of CodePink started her fast to get the attention of Senator Lieberman who had promoted a war with Iran, little did she know that she would be unleashing a new campaign to stop the next war now. But that's precisely what has happened. Click on the link below to read about CodePink's Cities for Peace in Iran: http://codepinkdc.blogspot.com/2007/07/codepink-launches-cities-for-peace-in.html
Also, the Virginia Anti-War (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender Newspaper organized a People’s Peace Delegation to Iran in response to a suggestion by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII). The five member delegation traveled over 1,750 kilometers during its 12 day trip in Iran and returned to the U.S. on July 31. Here it is a picture and more details: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1343.html
The Nuclear Issue—a correction and some comments
A dear friend who shared window 32 with his friends has brought a couple of queries to my attention. Since they pertain to the nuclear issue, I thought of sharing them - and my responses - with you. In that window, I contrasted the U.S. and three other countries (Pakistan, Israel and India) with Iran in that they have not become members of the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty). The critic pointed out that this is partially incorrect, the U.S. is a signatory to the treaty. S/he is right. This is a mistake on my part, and it must have occurred because of the abundance of discussions on the ways in which the U.S. is in breech of that treaty. Here is the latest example of that from N.Y. Times: http://ploughshares.org/news.php?a=4&b=0&c=0&id=438
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the U.S. is officially a signatory of the NPT. I’d like to correct the mistake.
The same reader asks if we can be certain that the Iranians do not have a weapon’s program. My answer is that our only means of gaining that certainty is to ask countries to become members of the NPT and stay open to surprise inspection. Iran has done that and no evidence has been found. If our reaction to that is going to be “You have done what is required but we still do not believe you because you are Iran,” we are proposing to dismantle international organizations and regulations and act on instinct. Others will do the same and the result will be chaos. The way out is to examine uncertain situations and to think of additional ways to get guarantees. This can be achieved by staying at the negotiation table. Iran is still offering to do this. Their only condition is “no pre-conditions.” The Iranian chief negotiator Ali Larijani has said repeatedly that even enrichment is open to negotiation.
Third, I had said that “Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian casualties.” The reader asks if this is not something that the Iranian government should worry about? The problems with this view, in my opinion, are:
. these facilites were built over the years (some of them encouraged by the U.S. government)
. they were not built by one Iranian government and not during a time of military tension. In other words, they cannot all be viewed as President Ahmadinejad’s way of shielding weapons behind people.
Even if we make that assumption, to say that it is all right to endanger millions of Iranian lives because their government has used them as shields would amount to accepting genocide (in the hope of preventing a future genocide for which we do not have any evidence besides our mistrust of the other side).
I draw the attention of this reader to the fact that in many places in the world, people have a different perception of Iran. Examples? Take another look at what the President of Iran’s troubled neighboring country, Afghanistan, has had to say yesterday.
Before we leave this subject, I would like to clarify and reiterate the points that I made in window 32 concerning Iran’s nuclear controversy:
Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out).
Iran is a signatory to the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) which means its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened. Please note that there are countries such as Pakistan, Israel, and India which have not agreed to become members of NPT.
Surprise inspections have not yielded any evidence of a nuclear weapon’s program in Iran to date.
Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything (including suspension of enrichment).
Iranian nuclear facilities - which were built over a period of time starting before the 1979 revolution - are spread out in the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.
Continued Military Threat Against Iran
The Cheney camp pushes for war with Iran. Once more, the Iranian government’s offer of its willingness to hold a higher level dialogue with the American government gets rejected: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/aug/1040.html
More on the defense authorization bill that mentions Iran: http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=834&Itemid=2
Iranian Women in Sports—American women athletes in Iran!
Believe it or not, as you read this window, the American women’s softball team is in Iran preparing for a competition with Iranian women softball players. Shirzanan, the Iranian women’s sports weekly which reported the news provided no pictures (unfortunately).
I have another sports picture for you, though. Click on the link below and, even if you don’t read Persian, scroll down for images of Iranian women volleyball players: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article375