Major Powers Have a Deal on Sanctions for Iran, U.S. Says
NYT | May 18, 2010
The Obama administration announced Tuesday a deal with other powers, including Russia and China, to impose a fourth set of sanctions on Iran in as many years, touching off a contest with Tehran to win support in the United Nations Security Council.
The announcement came just a day after Iranian leaders announced a tentative deal with Turkey and Brazil to turn over, for a year, about half of Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel, part of an effort to undermine the sanctions resolutions. But even if the new sanctions pass the Security Council it is unclear whether its provisions — including a mandate to inspect ships suspected of entering foreign ports with nuclear-related technology or weapons — will cause enough pain to force the country to halt uranium enrichment and cooperate with international inspectors.
“We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday morning. Later in the day, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, presented the resolution to the Security Council, the first step in what promises to be weeks of debate.
The agreement was reached by the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council — plus Germany. Russia and China have been the most resistant to the American-led efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran, and blocked any sanctions that would stop the flow of oil out of Iranian ports, or gasoline into the country.
Bloomberg | May 17, 2010
Obama Signs Law to Increase Monitoring of Global Press Freedom
President Barack Obama signed legislation expanding the U.S. government’s efforts to identify and single out nations where press freedom is being suppressed.
The measure “sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press,” Obama said at the White House today. The law “puts us clearly on the side of journalistic freedom.”
Mugabe Arrives in Iran
All Africa | May 17, 2010
President Mugabe arrived here early yesterday to attend the 14th G15 summit that starts today, with Zimbabwe reaffirming its support for Iran’s nuclear energy programme.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defe-nce Forces was received at the Mehrabad International Airport by senior Iranian government officials, Harare’s Ambassador to Iran Mr Nicholas Kitikiti and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
Minister Mumbengegwi arrived here earlier for pre-summit meetings with his counterparts from other member countries.
France accused of striking deal with Iran on prisoner releases
Times Online | May 17, 2010
Paris judges are expected tomorrow to release an Iranian assassin from a long prison term in what appears to be part of a politically costly deal which won the freedom of a French student who had been held for 10 months in Tehran.
Ali Vakili Rad, who is serving a 1994 life sentence for murdering Shapour Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister of the late Shah, in Paris, is to be flown home to Iran immediately after his release.
Brice Hortefeux, the Interior Minister, signed an expulsion order today clearing the way for him to leave prison after serving 18 years of a life sentence for the 1991 murder.
President Sarkozy’s government continued to deny that his expulsion had any bearing on the return yesterday of Clotilde Reiss, 24, who was convicted of spying and sent home from Iran. They also denied that her release had any link with a Paris court’s decision last week to refuse an American request for the arrest of an Iranian businessman. Majid Kakavand, 36, was wanted by Washington for exporting to Iran US-made electronics which had possible military use.
India, Iran discuss ways to enhance ties
Zee News | May 17, 2010
India and Iran today discussed ways to enhance ties, particularly in trade, as External Affairs Minister S M Krishna met his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki here.
Krishna, who is here to attend the G-15 Summit, and Mottaki held a detailed exchange of views on bilateral relations during the 25-minute meeting, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters.
“They had a very good, friendly and useful meeting,” Prakash said about the discussions.
Both leaders noted with satisfaction that regular high level exchanges were imparting momentum to bilateral relationship, he said.
The two sides, he said, were looking forward to the 16th Indo-Iran Joint Commission Meeting to be held in New Delhi shortly.
The last JCM, which discussed in details cooperation in specified areas like energy and trade, was held in Tehran in October-November 2008.
India’s bilateral trade with Iran touched USD 14 billion last year and is expected to grow in coming years. Iran is India’s third largest crude oil supplier.
Iran’s Kiarostami impresses Cannes
AFP | May 18, 2010
Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami shaped up as a possible two-time winner of the Cannes film festival’s top prize Monday with his first film shot in Europe.
“Certified Copy,” starring French actress Juliette Binoche, won a round of enthusiastic applause at a packed press screening here a day before its red carpet premiere.
Kiarostami, 69, who won the Palme d’Or in 1997 with “Taste of Cherry,” cast English opera singer William Shimell, who had never previously acted in a film, as the male lead in a bleak tale set in Italy’s Tuscany region.
Iran’s Kurdish Question
FP | May 17, 2010
Two days after the hanging of five Iranian Kurds in Tehran, protesters gathered across the Iraqi border in the Kurdish city of Suleymanieh. Thousands of them crowded into the city’s leafy Freedom Park, where Javad Alizadeh, a well-known former political prisoner in Iran who had recently left for Iraqi Kurdistan, addressed the gathering. The Iranian regime “follows neither the principles of republicanism, nor does it abide by holy laws of Islam,” Alizadeh declared. “The Islamic Republic has shown in the past 30 years that it only cares about its own survival and it will not abstain from committing the vilest of acts in achieving its goal.”
The memorial was one of the greatest outpourings of Kurdish opposition to the regime in recent memory, and one among numerous protests and hunger strikes — quiet ones in Iran, less so in Iraq’s Kurdish region, where Kurds were once persecuted but now enjoy relative autonomy — that have broken out since the execution on May 9. The victims, the Iranian authorities claimed, were activists for Kurdish autonomy; two of the five were accused of belonging to the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), a Kurdish nationalist group that Iran considers a terrorist organization. The uproar has prompted, and been worsened by, the government’s refusal to allow the families of the five victims to be buried publicly, for fear of massive protests.
The executions and other crackdowns in Iran have set up a bind for the country’s Kurds, who increasingly fear that the price of political activism within Iran is death or imprisonment — but worry that their abilities to pressure the regime will be lessened if they instead choose exile in northern Iraq, where the Kurds enjoy protection by their own defense forces. Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, religious and ethnic minorities have faced worsening discriminatory practices in Iran, the Kurds (who are also mostly Sunni Muslim in majority Shiite Iran) among them. When human rights and political activists have protested the unequal status, the Islamic Republic has prosecuted many of them.
Iran arrests Mousavi’s long-serving bodyguard: website
AFP | May 18, 2010
Iranian authorities have arrested the chief bodyguard of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, his website said Tuesday, as hardliners renewed calls for tougher action against the former premier.
“Ahmad Yazdan-Far, Mousavi’s chief bodyguard for 27 years, has been arrested by security agents,” Kaleme.com said, without specifying when the arrest took place or why.