NSG Set To Deny India Reprocessing Technology, Allow China To Build Pakistani Reactors

India wary of NSG double blow

Siddharth Varadarajan

Pakistan may get pass even as ENR rules tighten

New Delhi: Two years after being made to jump through a hoop to win an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s export ban, India is bracing itself for a double blow. At its plenary meeting in New Zealand beginning on Monday, the 46-nation cartel may turn a blind eye to China’s plan to supply new reactors to Pakistan, handing Islamabad a free pass. The NSG is also likely to adopt fresh restrictions on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) equipment and technology, thereby diluting New Delhi’s hard won ‘clean’ waiver.

The NSG members undertake to supply nuclear material and equipment only to countries which let the IAEA monitor all their nuclear facilities. Apart from reasons of safety, the only exception to this rule is if the supply is pursuant to pre-existing commitments.

China joined the NSG in May 2004. In a formal “declaration of existing projects” made at the time, it told the group of its 1991 cooperation agreement with Pakistan under which it had supplied a 300 MWe reactor at Chashma and had just undertaken to supply an additional 325 MWe reactor there. It did not, at the time, speak of ‘grandfathering’ any additional reactors under the 1991 agreement.

In recent months, however, the China National Nuclear Corporation has confirmed plans for building two new reactors at Chashma, a move that runs counter to those assurances. The supply would also violate commitments made to the IAEA in 2004 that “China will, once admitted into NSG, act in accordance with [its] guidelines.”

While conceding their “interest and concern” in the matter, Indian officials say it is for NSG members to object to China’s proposal and specify the conditions Islamabad must satisfy before being eligible for nuclear commerce. The Chinese side was asked about the proposed transfer during the visit to Beijing of President Pratibha Patil, but official sources denied India had told China not to go ahead with the deal.

On ENR, Hungary, currently chair of the NSG, told India in March that consensus on the new rules was still proving elusive. In the light of the September 2008 waiver, Indian officials had suggested exempting India from the applicability of draft rules banning ENR sales to non-NPT countries. But this proposal has found few takers. And now there are signs the U.S. and others are is pushing for the adoption of the ENR ban during the upcoming New Zealand plenary. The new rules will “very probably be approved,” an NSG diplomatic source told TheHindu on Sunday.

Another kind of Taliban

Another kind of Taliban

If Talibanisation stands for militancy, weapons, lawlessness and uncivilised behaviour, the Pakistan Army may as well forget the Waziristan operation and begin its charity from home — the DHA and Clifton areas of Karachi.

These areas are now in control of urban Taliban who roam around in obscene heavy duty vehicles, which are invariably official, stolen, smuggled or foreign registered.

They often travel in a convoy with dozens of prohibited bore weapon brandishing goons. They violate all traffic rules and hit, push, beat or even kidnap any decent citizen who questions this lawless behaviour.

While the illegal detention of a prominent city architect and scuffle with a PAF officer have been reported in the media, there are hundreds of similar incidents that go unreported. The citizens of Karachi may not have any immediate fears from the Taliban of Waziristan, but they are already in a state of siege by the lawless militant ministers, parliamentarians and powerful members of the state.

Many streets in DHA and Clifton have been partly barricaded to provide security to highly-guarded politicians. While the hungry citizens commit suicide, the state spends billions on protecting the ones that need the least protection.

It is time that citizens unite and ask for the removal of all ministers and parliamentarians from these areas, unless they can learn to obey the law and behave like ordinary citizens.

The DHA and Clifton authorities must be taken to task for failing to check the blocking of streets, pitching of tents, and the presence of thousands of armed militants. The police who never fail to charge-sheet a poor person in a Suzuki or motorcycle will never notice the thousands of fake Sindh Government vehicles, the foreign registered ones, the fake number plate ones, the no number plate ones and the AFR ones.

Should we not demand the sacking of the incompetent senior police officials just for this reason? The government is itself a party to this crime when it encourages these criminals and fake degree holders to behave like VIPs by creating discriminatory “Parliamentarian” counters for them at the airports.

Naeem Sadiq
Karachi

Suspicion falls on police connivance in militants’ escape

Suspicion falls on police connivance in militants’ escape

By Imran Ayub
A police officer shows the images of suspected militants, who escaped from court after a shootout, at his office in Karachi, June 19, 2010. — AP Photo

KARACHI: Police investigating the escape of four suspected militants, who got freed from police custody by their aides following an armed attack on the City Courts premises, have found a 9mm pistol, a hand grenade and two cellphones believed to be in possession of the undertrial prisoners, it emerged on Sunday.

While the investigators have not yet achieved any breakthrough in finding the whereabouts of the suspected militants, they say the objects found from the crime-scene raised questions about the possible connivance of the law-enforcers with those facing trial in the Ashura blast and other high-profile cases.

They felt certain that the evidence gathered from the crime-scene suggests collaboration of suspected militants with the law-enforcers to execute their plan or extreme carelessness on the part of the policemen, sources said, adding that three police officials, including a sub-inspector in charge of the city courts lock-up, had been already arrested for negligence.

“A 9mm pistol was found exactly at that place from where the four suspects — Murad Shah, Murtaza Inayat, Muhammad Wazeer and Shakeeb Farooqi — ran away,” said a senior official, who is part of the investigation team tasked with the arrest of the suspects.

“There is a consensus observation of the investigation team that the pistol belongs to one of the four UTPs. Similarly, two cellphones were found from Murad Shah who died after a hand-grenade that he was carrying went off. Both the cellphones having SIMs (subscriber identity module) of different companies were found on. It’s also obvious that he had a hand-grenade.”

He said the violent episode that lasted for a few minutes and included at least three hand-grenade attacks coupled with frequent and random firing by the armed men could not have allowed such stuff to be transferred to the four UTPs. The facts available on the ground suggested that the four UTPs had already those things when the scene offense began, he said.

“But it has yet to be determined from where they actually got these phones and arms,” said the official. “As we questioned the policemen on duty the four suspects visited the washroom twice one by one during their stay after being produced in court. It is unusual, to say the least.”

He said the City Courts had the common washrooms facility both for the UTPs and the visitors. There were serious doubts that the four suspects were transferred these stuff through the washrooms, added the official.

Nearly half a dozen armed men lobbed hand grenades inside the City Courts building on Saturday and gunned down a police constable before getting their four aides freed, who allegedly belonged to a militant outfit Jundallah. Though one of them later died during the encounter with the police, the four suspects were facing a total of 11 cases including three consecutive bomb blasts on 8th, 9th and 10th of Muharram-ul-Haram including a deadly attack on main Ashura procession on M. A. Jinnah Road in December 2009 that killed more than 40 people.

The police registered two separate FIRs against the four suspects and their unidentified aides for escape after attacking the policemen. An FIR (82/2010) was registered by the City Courts police station under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 324 (attempted murder), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code along with a Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

Similarly, the Risala police registered an FIR (412/2010) under Sections 324, 353 and 34 of the PPC along with Sections 3 and 5 of the Explosive Act for a police encounter that killed one of the suspects Murad Shah.

The authorities confirmed overnight raids in different areas across the city to trace possible links of the suspects freed and the attackers, who planned the deadly attack. However, after fresh findings by the investigations, the probe seemed to be moving in two directions with different objectives that included trace of the suspects and their collaboration if any with the law-enforcers.

”We believe in self accountability,” said capital city police officer (CCPO) Waseem Ahmed. “We have already arrested three police officials for their negligence in making proper security arrangements. It has yet to be established from where the objects found were brought in to the four suspects and the investigation team would definitely look into this matter.”

The Weaponization of Ethnicity–Latest Trend In State Terrorism

‘We Are Experiencing a New Kind of Terror’

By Benjamin Bidder

Kyrgyzstan's interim President Roza Otunbayeva (June 11 photo):
REUTERS

Kyrgyzstan’s interim President Roza Otunbayeva (June 11 photo):

Kyrgyzstan’s interim president, Roza Otunbayeva, has been struggling to deal with ethnic violence in her country. In a SPIEGEL interview, she claims that supporters of her predecessor Kurmanbek Bakiyev are deliberately trying to stoke conflict and speaks of her efforts to make Kyrgyzstan into a parliamentary democracy.

SPIEGEL: You came to power in April, after former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled the country. Your presidency hasn’t been legitimized yet. How do you intend to change this?

Otunbayeva: The people will vote on a new constitution at the end of June. It will also be a referendum on my policies. After that, we will organize new elections, first for the parliament and then for the highest office in the country. I will not run for office. My mandate ends after a year and a half.

SPIEGEL: Kyrgyzstan threatens to split apart amid ethnic violence between Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks. You have lost control over the south. Is this the right time for a referendum?

Otunbayeva: Kyrgyzstan will not fall apart. The situation is stabilizing. Now the enemies must be eliminated, especially the snipers who are making it unsafe in the south. Our intelligence agencies are warning of further coordinated violence leading up to the referendum. We will be prepared.

SPIEGEL: Your counterparts in the neighboring Central Asian republics rule with dictatorial power, because they fear precisely the kind of instability currently being seen in Kyrgyzstan. Why do you want to introduce a parliamentary democracy?

Otunbayeva: Because it is in keeping with Kyrgyz traditions and way of life. Our nation was once formed out of 40 tribes. However, the presidential system has always led to authoritarian dominance by one clan. The people have driven their president out of the country twice for this very reason. Should this go on like this forever?

SPIEGEL: But you have no power. How do you intend to consolidate your control?

Otunbayeva: You are mistaken. In only two months, we thwarted several coup attempts by the clan of my predecessor, Bakiyev. We are experiencing a new kind of terror: the deliberate stoking of ethnic conflicts. Nevertheless, we have already achieved more in two months than Bakiyev’s corrupt regime did in five years, by reducing the costs of heating oil, electricity and water, and giving the country freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly.

SPIEGEL: Eyewitnesses report seeing regular Kyrgyz troops opening fire on Uzbek civilians in the city of Osh. Are there elements within the army that want to overthrow you?

Otunbayeva: I have no doubt that all of our troops are loyal to me. We had only nine armored vehicles in the south, and they were promptly engaged in fighting. Some were captured by the attackers and were then used against citizens. In other words, the attackers were not government employees but mercenaries — hired by supporters of my predecessor Bakiyev.

SPIEGEL: Kyrgyzstan is the only country in the world where both the United States and Russia have a military base. The major powers are competing for influence, but they have not yet come to your aid.

Otunbayeva: We must recognize that some processes take a distressingly long time. It takes time to send peacekeeping troops.

SPIEGEL: The US media has reported that you initially requested help from Washington, but without success, and only then turned to the Kremlin.

Otunbayeva: That’s incorrect. We maintain a very productive dialogue with Moscow. We had, however, asked the Americans for armored vehicles and for shock grenades and stun grenades, which our security forces would have used to stop the militant agitators.

Interview conducted by Benjamin Bidder.

Aid For Osh Not Reaching Uzbeks Up

Kyrgyzstan: Osh Uzbeks Up humanitarian aid does not reach nearly

21.06.2010 09:43 msk

Feruza Janie

According to the press service of Bishkek’s international airport “Manas” on June 18, to the south of Kyrgyzstan sent more than 1.2 million tons of humanitarian aid. However, according to “Fergany.Ru”to those most in need of this help people – lost their homes and even their relatives ethnic Uzbeks – it does not reach. To the Editor reported that the centers of the distribution of humanitarian aid requests dared refer to them by representatives of the Uzbek mahallas (neighborhoods) are mostly ignored.

According to residents of Shark aiyl okmotu (rural council Shark, formerly. Kolkhoz im. Kalinina) K, which the editors of Fergany.Ru “contacted by phone, now this village is concentrated around forty thousand representatives of the Uzbek community. Of these, thousands of 35 – local residents, the rest – the refugees left without shelter during the tragic events of recent days. Many lost their loved ones. K. House, too, was burned – literally in his eyes.

- Front of my house was a shop. I saw it as the military stood before him and shouted to his men: “Let’s load and lead!”. He was then set on fire. When we wanted to put out their homes, we are not allowed to get them, threatened to assault rifles. In my family, thank God, all survived, but several neighbors were killed – tells K.

When we caught up with him in the village just completed the distribution of humanitarian aid. But it came not from the local authorities.

- There is a small fund “Christian community”, who sent us pasta, butter, baby food, sugar, flour. Not much, but this assistance, thanks to them. We are now distributing it urgently needy people. There are about 1500 people whose homes were burned. They were distributed through the local families, the club lodged a hundred people in the tea-house. Under the open sky no one is left, – tells K.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Offers US Its Oil Slick Removal Expertise

IRGC ready to eliminate oil slick in Gulf of Mexico

A unit of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is ready to eliminate the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, the head of the unit, General Gasim Soleimani said, the website sepahnews.com. reported.

“If Great Britain and the United States send us a formal request, after review we will provide assistance in this matter,” he said.

Soleimani added that the IRGC has experience to eliminate such accidents in Kuwait.

Blockade of Gaza Inspires Blockade of Israeli Cargo In California

Protestors Block Israeli Cargo in California

Readers Number : 14

21/06/2010 Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered at the Port of Oakland before dawn Sunday in a bid to prevent an Israeli cargo ship from unloading for the day.

Richard Becker ANSWER Coalition, one of the groups which organized the protest, told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Our objective was to boycott this ship for 24 hours, and we succeeded in doing that.”

The newspaper reported that the demonstrators first gathered before dawn at Berth 58, where a ship from Israel’s Zim shipping line was scheduled to dock Sunday, first in the morning then in the afternoon. It eventually arrived around 6 pm, Becker said, but by that time the dockworkers had agreed not to show up to unload the vessel.

Becker said some workers showed up for the morning shift, but virtually none did for the second. All agreed not to unload the ship or cross the picket lines, citing concern for their personal safety. There were no reports of violence or arrests.

Clips posted on YouTube show the protestors marching to the port, chanting “free Palestine” and waving Turkish and Palestinian flags. They held signs calling for the boycott of Israeli goods and an end to the American aid to Israel.

The protest’s leader said the dockworkers should refuse to accept “Israeli apartheid goods” and that the protestors’ goal was to block the unloading for a total of 24 hours. He compared it to the struggle in South Africa in the 1980s, when many places refused to deal with the racist regime.

“We want to send a clear message that if you commit acts of piracy on the high sea, if you go and attack civilians and kill them in cold blood, execution style, if you put Gaza under siege, if you build an apartheid wall, if you have a racist nut for a foreign minister like Avigdor Lieberman, who is calling for the expulsion of the Palestinian people from 1948, that we will not honor your Israeli commerce right here in this town.”

The Oakland Port is not the first to witness an anti-Israel protest. Several days after the death of nine pro-Palestinian activists in a Navy raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Swedish dockworkers launched a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods.

Peter Annerback, a spokesman for the Swedish Port Workers Union which has around 1,500 members, said workers were urged to refuse handling of Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 boycott.

In a statement, the union said the reason for the boycott “is the unprecedented criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy In Gaza. Several peace activists were killed by Israeli commandos and other participants were detained without any reason.”

It also urged other unions and organizations to join them through similar initiatives and called for Israel to be brought to justice for the attack and that it respects international law “and that the blockade of Gaza immediately lifted.”

Lebanon Gives Green Light To Gaza-Bound Aid Ship “Julia”

Lebanon gives greenlights to Gaza-bound aid ship

Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridiconfirmed on Sunday night that the ministry had allowed a aid vessel to sail from Lebanon to Cyprus before heading to Gaza Strip, local An-Nahar daily reported on Monday.

According to Aridi, his ministry has given the aid ship “Julia” permission to sail from Lebanon’s port city of Tripoli following the request from the ship’s organizers, Xinhua reported.

Aridi’s remarks came as Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that the Jewish state had initiated diplomatic efforts designed to prevent the departure of the ship “Mariam,” another ship to be used by Lebanese and foreign activists to carry aid to the enclave.

Israel has been in touch with the UN, the United StatesFranceSpain andGermany on this issue, it has also been speaking with the Vatican because “Mariam” is expected to include several dozens of Catholic nuns, Ha’aretz said.

However, Aridi said “Mariam” was not the ship’s name, stressing that the voyage was christened “Mariam” in honor of Virgin Mary.

While confirming that Julia’s first destination will be Cyprus and not Gaza, the minister stressed that he won’t sign on any illegal sail. He said “Julia” was registered in Paris and would have Lebanese and foreigners on board.

Aridi also stressed that Julia’s voyage to Cyprus was not in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and the vessel would undergo a technical checkup before it sails from Tripoli.

The Lebanese government is responsible for its decision, Aridi added.

However, Israeli military sources warned that it would be very easy to take control of Iranian and Lebanese ships because they are from countries which are at enmity with the Jewish state, adding Israel would deal firmly with them, according to Ha’aretz.

Two Iranian Red Crescent boats also plan to depart for the enclave.

Israel gas discoveries set off Lebanon row

TEL AVIV – Bloomberg
Israeli companies have announced two important natural gas finds in the past 18 months that may hold 24 trillion cubic feet of gas, but the offshore discoveries are a potential source of friction between Israel, Lebanon and Greek Cyprus. Lebanese officials say the gas may extend into their waters, urging their own prospecting
A coastal state is entitled to explore for oil and gas in its economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers), according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Bloomberg photo
A coastal state is entitled to explore for oil and gas in its economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers), according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Bloomberg photo

Natural gas discoveries off Israel have sparked a debate with Lebanon over potential resources in the eastern Mediterranean and prompted Greek Cyprus to seek clarification on maritime boundaries.

Noble Energy and Israeli companies controlled by billionaire Isaac Tshuva have announced two finds in the past 18 months that may hold 24 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than twice the U.K.’s gas reserves. Greek Cyprus is seeking clarification on water borders as Lebanon officials have said the gas may extend into its waters and urged its own prospecting.

“We’re engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Cyprus in order to reach an agreement based on international practice and good neighborly relations,” said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman at Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “As for Lebanon, they don’t even acknowledge that they should talk directly with us, so their claims are not based on good faith.”

The dispute adds to tension for Israel, already criticized for the raid on a ship carrying aid to the Gaza strip. Israel and Lebanon are technically at war and have no diplomatic relations. Israel, which is seeking to wean itself off oil and coal imports from as far away as Mexico and Norway and has bought gas from Egypt in the past decade, has said the finds may allow it to start exporting gas.

“We will not allow Israel or any company working for Israeli interests to take any amount of our gas that is falling in our zone,” Lebanon Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said by telephone on June 17, adding that it warned Noble not to work close to its economic zone. “It’s the responsibility on the one hand of the Israeli government and on the other hand of Noble.”

Bassil said the government and lawmakers “should move quickly on starting the exploration of offshore gas.”

No legal framework:

“We’re in touch with Israel regarding the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone,” a Greek Cyprus Foreign Ministry official, who declined to be named, said by telephone. “There has been no agreement so far as there is no appropriate legal framework in Israel.”

The finds, Leviathan and Tamar, lie about 130 kilometers (81 miles) and 90 kilometers, respectively, off Israel, according to Israel’s National Infrastructure Ministry. Delek Drilling-LP, one of the fields’ partners, said on June 15, in response to reports, that the licenses are in waters where Israel has authority.

The Leviathan prospect is owned 39.7 percent by Noble, 15 percent by Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP, 22.7 percent by Delek Drilling-LP and 22.7 percent by Avner Oil & Gas Ltd.

A coastal state is entitled to explore for oil and gas in its economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers), according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. A halfway point is used when the distance between countries is less than 400 nautical miles. Haifa, in northern Israel, is about 148 nautical miles from Cyprus, which is located north of Leviathan.

Lebanon’s claim may be complex because its border with Israel is indented, making it harder to establish where Israel’s sea boundary ends and Lebanese waters begin, said Robbie Sable, a professor of international law at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. Cyprus is “a more straightforward case” since the licenses are closer to Israel, there’s very “little to dispute” between the two countries, he said.

Legal disputes between states over the maritime zones where gas is located usually begin with negotiations, said Norman Martinez, a lecturer at the International Maritime Law Institute. When negotiations fail, the parties may agree to other means of settlement such as arbitration, he said. Most end up in the international court of justice, he said.

Israel has a signed agreement with Jordan on the border in the Gulf of Eilat, and has unwritten agreements with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. There’s no such agreement with Lebanon. In cases of dispute, it is usual practice to hand the decision to arbitrators, which are listed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. Israel is not a signatory to the convention.

Turkey, Kazakhstan mull ‘action plan’ for Kyrgyzstan

ANKARA — Agence France-Presse
Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev (L) and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA photo
Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev (L) and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA photo

Turkey and Kazakhstan discussed an “action plan” of regional support for Kyrgyzstan after a key referendum in the turbulent country, Turkey’s foreign minister told Anatolia news agency Monday.

“Holding the June 27 constitutional referendum so that the current interim administration gets legitimacy from the people is very important for us,” Ahmet Davutoğlu told Anatolia in Astana after talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev.

The talks focused on the diplomatic, economic and security aspects of the support that regional countries may lend to Kyrgyzstan, he said, adding that the issue would be discussed with “other friendly and brotherly countries,” according to Anatolia.

Davutoğlu said he and Saudabayev planned to visit Kyrgyzstan after the referendum “if the conditions permit” to “talk with the people directly to see what we can do and launch the action plan.”

Turkey and Kazakhstan discussed Kyrgyzstan’s turmoil in their capacity as the current chairs respectively of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Ethnic violence in the south of the Central Asian country left up to 2,000 dead and forced 400,000 from their homes this month following violent street protests that ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April.

Kyrgyzstan’s interim leader, Roza Otunbayeva, said earlier this month that a nationwide referendum planned for June 27 on constitutional reforms after Bakiyev’s ousting would “take place at the scheduled time.”

Azerbaijan Claims Armenian Forces Attack Overnight

[Neither the Armenian nor Turkish press mentions this.]

Armenian armed forces again attack positions of Azerbaijani armed forces: one soldier killed

21.06.2010 13:06
Armenian armed forces again attack positions of Azerbaijani armed forces: one soldier killed

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 21 / TrendK.Zarbaliyeva /

The Armenian armed forces attacked the Azerbaijani troops today.

The Armenian armed forces once again violated the ceasefire near the Ashaghi Abdulrahmanli village in the Fizuli region and went on the offensive June 21 at 1:45 a.m., the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

The Azerbaijani armed forces answered the attack strengthening their military positions. The Armenian military suffered losses as a result and was forced to retreat, the report said.

Nineteen-year-old Azerbaijani soldier Elgun Shukurov, who was enlisted to military service in January 2009 from the Jalilabad Military Commissariat, was killed in the crossfire.

Iran Blinks First–Flotilla to Gaza Delayed

[When the state news agency explains the delay as "lack of international coordination," this is what they really mean--

“Eleven US Battleships, One Israeli Cross Suez Canal into Red Sea” ]

Iran aid flotilla to Gaza ‘delayed’

TEHRAN – Agence France-Presse

The departure of two Iranian aid ships for Gaza has been delayed due to lack of coordination and a change of cargo, a Red Crescent official said on Monday without specifying when the flotilla would leave.

ISNA news agency quoted Mohammad Javad Jafarian, head of the youth wing of Iranian Red Crescent, as saying that the sailing had been delayed and “no definite” date had been set for the departure of the ships to Gaza.

The Iranian Red Crescent had planned to send two aid ships earlier this month and last week even said that the boats were ready and awaiting the approval of the foreign ministry. The delay has occurred as “the cargo had to be changed in accordance with the World Red Cross specifications and there has been some international lack of coordination,” Jafarian said without elaborating.

The Iranian Red Crescent has previously said it would send a total of three aid ships to Gaza, two of them carrying medicines and foodstuffs and Iranian relief workers. The fate of the third one is still unknown.

It had also said that a plane carrying 30 tones of medical equipment would also be sent to Egypt for onward delivery to Gaza. The fate of the aid plane was also unknown on Monday. “The Iranian ships will carry humanitarian aid and will have no military weapons on board… so any aggression against it will be a violation of marine law,” Jafarian said.

Iran’s decision to send the aid came after a recent Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which left nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists dead sparked outrage across the political spectrum in Tehran.

The Iranian Red Crescent had sent an aid ship to Gaza in December 2008 but it was prevented from reaching the territory by the Israeli navy. The animosity between Iran and its regional archfoe Israel has worsened under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with top Iranian commanders repeatedly boasting Tehran has missiles capable of reaching Israeli targets.

Israel, which has the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, has also refused to rule out a resort to military action against Iran to prevent it acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies any such ambition.

Latin America–Impunity in Plan Condor’s Shadows

Latin America: Impunity in Plan Condor’s Shadows

Marie Trigona

Argentine Activists Demand End of Impunity for Plan Condor (Photo: Andres Santamarina)

“The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect.” - Dan Mitrione,United States government security advisor for the CIA in Latin America, and instructor in the art of torture teaching techniques in Uruguay during the nation’s 1973-1985 military dictatorship.

US intervention continues to haunt Latin America, a region overrun with brutal military dictatorships during the 1970’s and 80’s. Dictatorships coordinated torture, assassinations and disappearances under a US-backed program in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The program, called Plan Condor, was a shared strategy in Latin America’s Southern Region during the 1970s and 80s and had Washington involvement.

Human rights groups claim that tens of thousands were killed during South America’s darkest period during the 1970’s and 1980’s under the military dictatorships. Military governments came to power via well planned coups in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. In Argentina alone, an estimated 30,000 people were forcefully disappeared.

Now nearly 30 years later, long standing impunity has overshadowed efforts for regional integration and return to democratic rule. Throughout the region, the road to justice has been slow. Argentina has taken the lead in trying former military and police after amnesty laws protecting military have been overturned in 2005. However, Uruguay and Brazil still uphold amnesty laws preventing human rights trials from taking place. While in Chile justice is possible, the nation grapples with dictator supporters in government who continue to hold up legal proceedings.

Operation Condor on trial in Argentina

A human rights trial in Argentina is looking into a crimes committed under Plan Condor and sheds light into how other countries are lagging behind in looking into crimes of the past. The current trial focuses on one Buenos Aires location that served as a detention center. Six former military and police face 65 charges of kidnapping, torture and murder while they worked at a clandestine detention center called Orletti auto-garage.  Inside the functioning repair shop, located in a residential neighborhood, hundreds were tortured and killed.

Human rights Lawyer Pablo Llanto says the events at the garage provide detailed information on the inter-workings of Plan Condor.  “People ask how did Plan Condor operate, well, this is how it operated. It was the coordinated efforts in Orletti, in this case between Uruguayan and Argentine security forces. But in Orletti, Chileans and Cuban citizens were also detained, which demonstrates that the repressive apparatus wasn’t limited to Argentines, it targeted citizens from other nationalities in Latin America.”

Relatives and survivors waited for more than 30 years for military members to face trial, due to amnesty laws that protected the officers. The impunity laws were overturned in 2005. More than 10 high-profile trials are underway to prosecute dozens of military, police, and civilians accused of participating in the systematic plan to disappear so-called “dissidents.”

Regionally, Argentina has taken the lead in revisiting these human rights abuses and bringing those responsible to justice through trials. But Giselle Temper, a human rights activist from the group HIJOS says that countries such as Chile and Uruguay have blocked all possibilities for justice for crimes committed during the nations’ dictatorships.

“Plan Condor included Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and other countries. But Argentina is the only country putting the people who carried out genocide on trial. In Chile, Pinochet died without being tried, in impunity. Uruguay didn’t win the vote to annul the amnesty for military officers. Argentina has expressed their social condemnation for what happened during the dictatorship, without that these trials wouldn’t be occurring.”

Uruguay’s ‘State of Siege

The Orletti trial will investigate why and how Uruguayan prisoners were brought to Argentina and held at the Orletti auto-garage. However, Uruguay will not try military officers who participated in the torture and forced disappearance of dissidents during the 1973-1985 military dictatorship. Uruguay’s military junta came to power three years before Argentina’s junta. Many Uruguayan activists were exiled to Argentina before the 1976 military junta. After Argentina’s dictatorship led a coup in 1976, both regimes secretly cooperated in the torture and disappearance of each others’ citizens with CIA assistance.

This assistance came in the form of training from U.S. Department of State officials. The scene depicted in Constantin Costa-Gavra’s 1972 film State of Siege, set in Uruguay in the early 1970s reflects the role the US had. In an unforgettable scene, a US official from the Office of Public Safety teaches a room full of cadets the technique of the picana or “electric prod.”

Declassified U.S. Department of State documents have provided evidence of Plan Condor’s broad scope and Washington’s involvement. Stella Calloni is a leading expert on Plan Condor – she has written two books detailing Plan Condor’s scope and US participation. “The US, under the Washington consensus used criteria to unify the dictatorship in South America to prosecute important leaders. Under Plan Condor, the military could prosecute and murder dissidents. Another crime was to kidnap an activist from one country and bring them to another country to disappear them after torturing them.”

Even though documents have shed light into the extent of the crimes, Uruguayan military continue to be exempt from justice.  In 2009 the country revisited the controversial Ley de Caducidad, or impunity law that protected many Uruguayan officials from prosecution for human rights abuses. Human rights groups, unions and representatives from the Frente Amplio government coalition worked to overturn the law in 2009 via a plebiscite. Nearly 46 percent of the adult population voted to overturn the law, however in order to end impunity more than 50 percent was needed. However, human rights groups continue to work to undo the amnesty law.

More than 10,000 marched in silence in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo to demand truth and justice for the crimes committed during the nation’s dictatorship. “We are looking for truth, because reconciliation is only possible when the truth is known. We’ve said it in other marches and we’ll say it again: the truth continues to be abducted while we don’t know what happened and while our relatives continue disappeared,” said Marta Passelle, leader of the Association of Mothers and Relatives of Disappeared speaking at the march.

Part of the nation’s silence is reflected in the fact that the Uruguayan state only recognizes 37 disappeared, while human rights organizations report more than 200 disappeared – all of which will never be investigated due to Uruguay’s impunity law.

Human Rights in Chile and Brazil

Human rights groups in Chile and Brazil have criticized their respective governments for obstacles and disregard of international human rights laws to carry out investigations. During Chile’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship, 3,000 disappearances took place. Augusto Pinochet, the nation’s US-backed dictator, died without standing trail and continues to cast a shadow over Chile.

As of October 2009, 559 former military personnel and civilian collaborators were facing charges for enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture, according to Human Rights Watch. Nearly 277 had been convicted, and 56 were serving prison sentences. Pinochet was under house arrest and faced prosecution at the time of his death in 2006, but judicial proceedings came too late and he was left unpunished.

Proceedings progressed in 2009, when a judge indicted 129 former members of the DINA, the dictator’s secret police for disappearances. In 2009, for the first time, a court declared torture a systematic practice to be a crime against humanity. This led the Supreme Court to rule that an amnesty decreed by the military government is inapplicable to war crimes or crimes against humanity. However, judges may use discretion about whether the amnesty is applicable.

“Chile hasn’t seriously progressed in the trials because there is no political compliance to do so. There haven’t been more than mere symbolic gestures,” says Leonardo Ortega, a Chilean graduate student in sociology at FLACSO. Many of the military up for trial were low-rank officers, while higher ranking officials who gave orders have been protected by the criminal code. Currently, Congress has evaluated a bill to amend the code so that crimes against humanity are not subject to amnesties or statutes of limitation, but it has been deadlocked since 2005.

Brazil’s government has faced serious criticism from international human rights organizations for its failure to convict military officials for crimes committed during the dictatorship. The 1979 amnesty law remains unchanged, blocking prosecution against former officials for human rights violations committed under the 1964-1985 dictatorship. Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court upheld the amnesty law in a decision in 2010.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded in 2009 that the amnesties and statutes of limitations cannot be applied to crimes against humanity that were committed during the dictatorship. “Brazil has had neither trials nor even a truth commission to address the very serious crimes that took place, and is lagging behind the region in accountability for past abuses,” said José Miguel Vivanco, America’s director for Human Rights Watch. “It’s been nearly a quarter century since the transition to democracy. The victims and their families have waited too long for justice.”

Nunca Mas – Never Again

The slogan “Never Again” was adopted with the hope that Argentina and other countries in the region, including Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, ruled by violent military dictatorships would never repeat that dark chapter in history.  Decades have passed since the end to the dictatorships in the region and much heralded “return to democracy.” But many of the old systems of repression remain. In Argentina a key human rights witness, Julio Lopez remains missing after his 2006 disappearance. Survivors in the region continue to face threats and security issues on the brink of their testimonies in trials.  Much of the files and top-secret information has yet to be released about the crimes the military coups committed.

Plan Condor united the nations in a plan to wipe out dissidents regionally through state imposed terror. Now, governments in the Southern Cone have the opportunity to work together to revisit the past and investigate the crimes which continue to be a social stigma scarring the respective countries. Without justice and with outstanding impunity, history is likely to repeat itself.

Marie Trigona is a writer and radio producer based in Argentina. She can be reached through her blogwww.mujereslibres.blogspot.com

Whitewashing the Pollard Spy Ring

J.J. Green, wtop.com
pollard.jpg

Jonathan Pollard, once thought to have been an Israeli spy, may have been part of a rogue operation. (AP)

WASHINGTON – Twenty-five years after his arrest, the truth about for whom Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard was working is still in doubt.

The former civilian intelligence analyst, sentenced to life in prison on charges of spying on the U.S. in 1987, was allegedly not working for official Israeli intelligence, as previously thought.

Responding to concerns that Israel is spying on the U.S., Israel’s ambassador Michael Oren told WTOP, “Israel does not, does not, I stress, collect information on the United States.”

When pushed during an interview about Pollard’s case, Oren responded, “Jonathan Pollard occurred in the mid-1980s. Now, we’re talking about an event that was run by a rogue organization in the Israeli intelligence community. That was, what, 25 years ago?”

His remarks, a departure from an official Israeli statement in the late 1990s, have stunned many in the Washington intelligence community.

“It does surprise me,” says Paul Pillar, former Central Intelligence Agency National Intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia.

“It never crossed my mind and never heard any suggestion that it was anything other than an official operation,” Pillar says.

“It is, however, in Israel’s interests, as defined by them, to obtain as much information as possible of the kind Pollard was collecting.”

Pollard‘s own stinging rebukes of the Israeli government in a number of April 1998 letters seemed to confirm his official status.

“I did not spend 13 years in prison in order to endorse a lie,” Pollard wrote. “The truth must come out, so that I may be freed. The truth is simple and clear: I was an Israeli agent employed by the LAKAM branch of intelligence in an operation that was fully sanctioned by the government of Israel. Anything less than that is a distortion of the truth that is counterproductive to the goal of securing my release.”

A little more than a month later, on May 11, 1998, the Israeli government released a statement confirming Pollard’s claims. The government’s statement said, “Jonathan Pollard was an Israeli agent handled by high ranking Israeli officials in an authorized Israeli bureau, LAKAM.”

Worry that Pollard’s theft of U.S. Navy secrets may have been part of a rogue operation has generated concern among some in the U.S. intelligence community, that there may be other “rogue” operations underway to collect U.S. intelligence.

Israel admittedly runs robust intelligence operations throughout the Middle East because of concerns about hostile governments and organizations that have targeted the small Mediterranean country which 7.5 million people call home. Hamas and Hezbollah are among the key targets.

“We’ve been hampered by the fact our forces left Lebanon in 2000 and left Gaza in 2005, so we actually don’t have forces on ground, so we rely on human intelligence and electronic intelligence and surveillance from the skies, but it’s not perfect,” says Oren.

Their operations may not be perfect, but according to a Web site run by the political wing of Hamas, Israel is running a very refined network of spies.

The site, Al-Majd, claims some of the “veteran and experienced collaborators” were equipped with sophisticated beacon devices during the 2008 war that transmitted their positions to Israeli intelligence. According to the site, the beacons protected them from missile strikes.

While the Israeli government will not comment on the depth of its intelligence capabilities, Fred Burton, a former U.S. State Department Counterterrorism agent, says Israel has extremely capable intelligence services laser-focused on the Iranian nuclear threat.

“(Israeli intelligence is) the best in the world on Hezbollah and Iranian targets, but lacking the money and resources intelligence organizations like the CIA have.” Burton says. “They seem to do more with less than many others. They are extremely good on HUMINT (Human Intelligence) collection.”

Israel’s enemies extend into the U.S. According to U.S. Department of Justice documents, numerous individuals have been arrested and prosecuted on charges of providing material support to Hezbollah and Hamas, sworn enemies of Israel.  Some U.S. intelligence officials are quietly skeptical of Israel’s declaration that it doesn’t spy on the U.S.

“We share information on Islamic extremists groups with American intelligence,” Oren says. “We’re not collecting on them in the United States, but we rely on information given to us by American intelligence agencies and we are again in very close communication and cooperation with them.”

A U.S. official responded saying, “The Israelis are very good at intelligence work — they always have been. They’re not afraid to tell you what they think and why. And their strategic interests tend to dovetail with ours. They’re valuable partners. We deal with them as they deal with us: With sharp minds and open eyes. Intelligence is no place for the naïve or gullible.”

According to a former Shin Bet officer, the Pollard case planted a seed that has sprouted and continues to grow despite efforts to allegedly eradicate it.

“These guys had some kind of impression that the U.S. was hiding intelligence from the Israeli government in this particular subject (the Palestinian Liberation Organization), so they decided to run the operation, never stopping to think about the damage they were causing the Jewish Community inside the United States,” says the former officer.

The political dance around Jonathan Pollard’s case continues. The U.S. has refused to release Pollard despite the close relationship with Israel and despite that Pollard is said to be part of a “rogue operation.”

“We would certainly welcome his release,” Oren says.

Include peace corridor in Indo-Pak talks: Sikhs

Include peace corridor in Indo-Pak talks: Sikhs

TNN

CHANDIGARH: Ahead of secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, the global Sikh community has now raised the long pending issue of Kartarpur Sahib corridor, with the hope that this religious and emotional issue would act as a balm to soothe sore relations between the two nations.

While the demand for a corridor to the historical Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib — which is located barely 1.5km inside the Pakistan territory from the Indian border near Dera Baba Nanak — has been a long pending one with various Sikh organizations appealing to the two countries from time to time, the United Sikh Mission (USM), a California based NGO, recently approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi to raise the issue with the neighbouring country in the coming days.

“We have received a very encouraging response from both Rahul Gandhi and the Prime Minister, and it seems that the Sikh community’s ardent wish may finally come true now,” Rashpal Singh Dhindsa, USM chairman, told TOI from California. Naming the project as a ‘peace corridor’, thereby giving an emotional hue to the issue, he added, “The one (corridor) which would bring lasting peace between the two countries.”

“It would be great if the issue is taken up during the upcoming secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan as it would bring remarkable results, especially since the solution to the problem is at hand and very doable,” said Punjab MLA Jassi Khangura, who was an NRI from UK till recently — before he shifted to India and contested elections successfully. “All it requires is a reasonable amount of will power on both the sides,” added Jassi, who receives similar requests from Sikhs in UK and elsewhere during his frequent visits abroad.

The gurdwara holds a special place in the heart of Sikhs as it was here that the first Sikh master, Guru Nanak Dev, spent his last years. While Hindus and Muslims then had built their respective shrines at the place, a gurdwara was constructed later by the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh.

However, after the partition of the country, the gurdwara was out of bounds for those who chose to stay back in India. The distance of the gurdwara from this side of the border is so small that the shrine is visible to the naked eye. On special religious occasions, a ‘sangat’ (congregation) on this side of the border can listen to hymns emanating from the gurdwara on the other side of the border. The community has been seeking a corridor to the gurdwara which could facilitate their visit to pay obeisance without obtaining visa or passport.

Pakistan Admits That Iran Sanctions Will Kill Iran-Pakistan “Peace Pipeline”

MD of National Iranian Gas Export Company, Reza Kasaeizadeh(right), and MD of Inter State Gas Limited of Pakistan, Mohammad Naim Sharafat, during a press conference in Tehran. File Photo: AP
MD of National Iranian Gas Export Company, Reza Kasaeizadeh(right), and MD of Inter State Gas Limited of Pakistan, Mohammad Naim Sharafat, during a press conference in Tehran. File Photo: AP

Following a warning by the U.S. on its gas pipeline project with Iran, Pakistan has said it will not violate international law but hoped the multi-million dollar deal, crucial to its energy needs, would not come under the ambit of fresh sanctions on Tehran.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said it would be premature to give a final opinion on whether the US sanctions targeting Iran could affect the ambitious project, hours after U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said he had asked the Pakistanis not to “over-commit themselves until we know the legislation“.

Mr. Qureshi said the $7.5 billion gas pipeline project should remain intact as it is in the best interests of the country at a time when it is grappling with an energy crisis.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Holbrooke on Sunday said he had warned Islamabad against signing a deal with Tehran on the gas pipeline as the US is preparing sanctions that could affect the project.

Mr. Holbrooke told a group of American reporters that Pakistan should not “over-commit” itself to the project till the “comprehensive” sanctions are finalised.

Hours later, Mr. Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan that Pakistan needs energy and the pipeline agreement with Iran should remain intact as it is in the best interest of the country.

Pakistani experts hoped that the pipeline project would not be affected by US sanctions imposed on Iran and even US officials did not know for sure whether the pipeline would be affected by the restrictions, Qureshi said.

However, if the pipeline falls under the restrictions, then Pakistan will not violate international laws, he said.

Mr. Qureshi said Pakistan will protect its interests with regard to energy, which is an essential requirement of the country.

“All the different phases of the gas pipeline agreement have been finalised and we wish that it should proceed forward,” Mr. Qureshi said.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told the media that the Iran-Pakistan pipeline was not raised during meetings between Pakistani officials and Holbrooke.

UN resolutions too do not prevent Pakistan from carrying on with the project because China and Russia had ensured that Iran’s energy sector is not targeted when UN Resolution 1929 was passed by the Security Council, he said.

The comments made by Holbrooke yesterday marked an about-turn from the stand taken by him in an earlier media interaction.

On Saturday, Holbrooke avoided a direct response to a question about the US stand on the Iran-Pakistan pipeline during a news conference at the Foreign Office.

“You’re going to go on and this is your country,” he had said.

Observers had interpreted these remarks by Holbrooke as an indication that the US would not oppose the Iran-Pakistan pipeline.

The US has, till now, been muted in its criticism of the pipeline as it has had to balance its need to support Pakistan in the war against terror while building pressure on Iran.

Iran and Pakistan recently signed an export deal that commits Tehran to selling natural gas to Islamabad from 2014.

Iran has already built 907 km of the pipeline that will carry natural gas from it’s South Pars field.

The pipeline was originally planned to connect Iran, Pakistan and India, though the latter is yet to commit to the project.