February 13, 2012
More news on Iran’s Nuclear Works, and their Proxy Forces as Hamas and Hezbollah.
YEDIDIM OF ISRAEL
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, Sunday voiced his country's full support for Hamas in its fight against Israel and said that Tehran considers the Palestinian issue as an "Islamic cause."
Khamenei's remarks came during a meeting with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is currently on an official visit to Iran.
The meeting between Khamenei and Haniyeh was the first of its kind since the Hamas prime minister assumed office after his movement won the January 2006 parliamentary election.
"Iran will always be supportive of the Palestinian cause and the Islamic resistance in Palestine," the Tehran-based Mehr News Agency quoted Khamenei as saying.
Khamenei added that the "recent victories in Palestine were partially responsible for the Islamic awakening in the region" - a reference to the rise of Islamists to power in a number of Arab countries, including Tunisia and Egypt.
"Undoubtedly, the accumulating sentiments of the region's peoples toward the cause of the Gaza Strip led to the sudden eruption of the volcano in the region," The Iranian leader told Haniyeh.
He also warned against attempts by unnamed parties to "undermine" Hamas, but did not elaborate.
"We have no doubt about your resistance and that of many of your brothers, and the people only have this expectation of you," Khamenei added.
Haniyeh, for his part, thanked the Iranian leadership for its "ongoing" support for Hamas and the Palestinian cause.
Haniyeh, who was invited to Iran to participate in celebrations marking the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, underlined the three strategies of his government: "liberating Palestine from the sea to the river, abiding by the resistance and affirming the Islamic character of the Palestinian cause."
Haniyeh's visit to Iran came amid deepening divisions within Hamas over last week's Qatari-sponsored reconciliation agreement between the movement and Fatah.
Some Hamas officials also expressed dissatisfaction with Haniyeh's visit to Tehran, noting that it came at a time when other Hamas leaders were trying to distance themselves from Iran and Syria.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has come under sharp criticism for signing the Qatari-sponsored reconciliation deal that calls for naming Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister of a new Palestinian unity government.
Over the weekend, Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, came out publicly against Mashaal and said the reconciliation pact was a "mistake."
But while Zahar and most of the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip have expressed opposition to the deal under the pretext that it includes far-reaching concessions to Abbas and Fatah, representatives of the movement in the West Bank praised the agreement.
A Hamas official in the Ramallah said that Zahar's criticism of Mashaal "reflected only his personal opinion."
The official, who asked not to be identified, lashed out at Haniyeh for visiting Iran "at this very sensitive period."
The official expressed concern that the Iranians, in return for financial and military aid, would ask Hamas to support Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"Mashaal left Syria because he refused to come out in support of Assad, who is butchering dozens of his people very day," the Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post. "But now here is Haniyeh visiting Iran, which is helping Assad and supplying him with weapons and security experts to suppress the popular uprising in his country. The timing of the visit is very bad and could harm Hamas's interests in the region."
WASHINGTON - Iran has agreed to resume talks on its nuclear program, Turkey's foreign minister said on Friday, but a diplomat from one of the countries seeking a diplomatic solution saw no sign of fresh talks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters he had recently been to Tehran and sought to encourage Iran to revive talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
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"They agreed," he said, stressing Turkey's preference for a diplomatic solution to address questions about Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is a cover to develop an atomic bomb. Iran says it is for purely peaceful power generation.
However, the diplomat from a country within the group of major powers said it has yet to receive an Iranian response to a letter from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, a key demand by the major powers for resuming talks.
"What we are asking of them is relatively straightforward. We need them to make absolutely clear that among the agenda items we are going to talk about ... is their nuclear program and they need to convey that in an official and clear way," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We need a demonstration of seriousness," the diplomat said, adding that there was no sign yet that the Iranians were prepared to resume talks. Analysts consider that a remote possibility before Iran's parliamentary elections on March 2.
Davutoglu also repeated Turkey's opposition to any military strike against Iran.
There has been speculation for months that Israel might launch such an attack and Israeli officials have openly said that time may be running out for air strikes to destroy the Iranian nuclear program.
"[A] military strike is a disaster. It should not be an option, especially at this historic turning point in our region," Davutoglu said at a Washington think tank. "We will never, never endorse any military strike."
He suggested that a negotiated outcome could be based on previous ideas under which Iran would give up some of its enriched uranium and would, in return, receive fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes.
"The same framework could be used for [a] fuel exchange," Davutoglu said. "Or there could be a new deal saying to Iran, 'OK, we will provide you fuel -- 20 percent enriched uranium -- but you will stop'" enriching to 20 percent.
Uranium enrichment is a process that can provide fuel for power plans or, if carried out to a much higher degree, can yield fissile material for nuclear weapons.
The group of major powers is worried that by producing nearly 20 percent enriched uranium, Iran has come closer to mastering the technology to obtain fissile material for bombs
Americans are more likely than Europeans or Middle Easterners to support a strike against Iran, according to aYouGov.com poll released this week.
In the United States, 44 percent of those polled supported bombing Iran's nuclear facilities, whereas only 23% of British, 20% of Middle Easterners, and 18% of Germans supported such a move.
Talk of a possible strike by American or Israeli forces raised tension with the Islamic Republic in recent weeks, as the US and EU imposed fresh sanctions on Iranian oil exports and its central bank.
Iran has also been working furiously to transfer its nuclear facilities to underground sites, which even the most advanced US bunker busters reportedly cannot penetrate.
Iranian television quoted senior Revolutionary Guard official Brig.-Gen. Masoud Jazayeri this week as saying that threats of a strike lacked credibility, as the US and Israel were aware of Tehran's counterattack abilities.
TEHRAN - Iranian authorities will crack down this week on any public protest against the year-long house arrest of opposition leaders, Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, an official was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Iran, at odds with the West over its disputed nuclear program, holds a parliamentary election on March 2, its first national poll since Mousavi and Karoubi were beaten by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a 2009 vote they said was rigged.
The government denied any fraud in the election, which ignited eight months of street protests, prompting a violent state response and deep splits in the ruling establishment.
The two leaders were placed under house arrest on Feb. 14 last year after they urged their supporters to join a rally in support of popular uprisings across the Arab world.
Tehran provincial governor Morteza Tamaddon said a call by reformists for a rally on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the curbs imposed on Mousavi and Karoubi was a "publicity stunt" by opponents of Iran's Islamic revolution.
"We will confront such moves with full preparation and all kinds of security apparatus," the reformist Kaleme website quoted Tamaddon as saying.
Tens of thousands of Iranians joined state-organized rallies on Saturday to mark the 33rd anniversary of Iran's revolution.
The parliamentary election, now less than three weeks away, will test the popularity of Ahmadinejad's supporters and those who back the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a power struggle between conservative factions.
Reformists have said they are boycotting the election as their demands for a "free and just" vote have not been met.
A low turnout would hurt the leadership's efforts to contain the damage to its legitimacy caused by the 2009 election and the forcible suppression of the opposition "Green" movement.
Dozens of people were killed and thousands arrested during the post-election unrest that engulfed major towns and cities in the worst political upheaval in the Islamic Republic's history