Voice of America: The general who commands all U.S. military operations in the Middle East has accused Iran and Syria of continuing to contribute to the problems in Iraq by facilitating the insurgency and meddling in Iraqi politics. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid said Iran and Syria have both been "unhelpful" in Iraq, contributing to the country's instability.
AFP: Iran is refusing to cooperate in key areas with UN experts investigating possible atomic weapons work, including blocking a follow-up visit to a military facility where Washington charges Tehran is simulating testing of nuclear weapons, the UN's nuclear watchdog agency said Tuesday. Iran refused to let UN nuclear inspectors follow up on a first visit to the Parchin military camp, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
Iran Focus: London, Mar. 01 The International Committee of the Red Cross dismissed claims by Iran that it supervised the repatriation of a group of 100 Iranians formerly associated with the opposition Peoples Mojahedin in Iraq.
Los Angeles Times: In what would mark a key shift in U.S. strategy, President Bush is considering joining European allies in offering Iran incentives to halt its nuclear programs that could be used to make weapons, U.S. officials said Monday.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Mar. 01 Workers' demands for overdue wages and actions over poor working conditions have gained momentum over the past few days in Iran, with protests and strikes erupting in a number of towns and cities. Coal miners from Sangroud are set to march today all the way to Tehran to demand that their wages be paid and safety measures be properly implemented.
Reuters: Iran rejected a request by U.N. nuclear inspectors to return to its Parchin military base, where Washington suspects Iran might have conducted tests linked to nuclear bomb-making, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Tuesday. Several months after their initial requests, Iran permitted U.N. inspectors to visit Parchin in January. During this visit, inspectors told Iranian officials they would like to visit an area not covered in that inspection, the agency said.
AFP: An Iranian journalist has been banned from working for two years and given a six months suspended jail term over a magazine article, the student news agency ISNA reported on Tuesday. Mohammad Hassan Alipour, chief editor of Aban weekly magazine, was sentenced in response to the article and a cartoon that appeared in the magazine.
The Wall Street Journal - Editorial: The governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency is in session this week in Vienna, and today it will review the latest batch of evidence concerning Iran's violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. These violations include:
AP: Iran has begun production of a heavy machine-gun with armour-piercing bullets, state television reported Tuesday. Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said the 12.7-millimetre gun has a range of 2.5 kilometres and is suitable for snipers. "The United States had protested to a European country about selling the gun (to Iran), while we have already produced it," Shamkhani said. "Today the first consignment of the weapon was delivered."
Reuters: President George W. Bush is close to deciding whether to join Europe in offering incentives to Iran, including membership of the World Trade Organization, in exchange for Tehran's agreement to give up nuclear weapons, U.S. officials said on Monday. It would mark a significant shift in strategy for Bush, who has been reluctant to consider economic incentives for Iran to avoid being seen as rewarding bad behavior. He had been talking about taking Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran Focus: Washington, Feb. 28 The United States issued a damning report today on Iran's human rights violations as part of its 2004 annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The report said that the human rights situation in Iran had once again deteriorated over the past year.
"The right of citizens to change their government was restricted significantly".
Reuters: Outraged by scenes of young boys and girls using Shi'ite Islam's most sacred mourning day as an opportunity to flirt in public, Iran's religious hard-liners are calling on authorities to stamp out such "vulgar displays." Failure to do so, some newspaper commentators said, would force pious citizens to take matters into their own hands.
Iran Focus: Paris, Feb. 28 Emboldened by signs that the United States may be about to join the European Union's nuclear negotiations with Iran by offering incentives to Tehran, Iran is hardening its position and making a serious bid to dictate its terms during the nuclear talks with the European "big three", Britain, France, and Germany, an Iran expert said today.
Reuters: The head of the U.N.'s atomic watchdog says Iran must be more open with inspectors probing its nuclear programme, which the United States says is aimed at making an atomic bomb. Mohamed ElBaradei was speaking on Monday as the board of governors of his International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met one day after Iran's nuclear planners scored a major victory with a key uranium fuel supply deal with Russia.
AP: Many consider Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the prominent cleric who leads the United Iraqi Alliance, to have emerged as the country's top Shiite power broker after the Jan. 30 elections.
A leader of a key Shiite political organization, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, al-Hakim opposed Saddam Hussein from exile in Iran before returning after the U.S.-led invasion.
Iran Focus: London, Feb. 28 The Iranian regime has at least 40,000 agents in Iraq on its payroll, according to a report broadcast by an Iranian opposition television. Simaye Azadi, a Persian-language satellite television network close to the opposition National Council of Resistance, said it had obtained documents from Fajr Garrison of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which showed that the Islamic republic was running a vast underground network in Iraq with 40,000 agents on its payroll.
Reuters: The United States should seek to bar Russia from this year's major-nation summit to protest actions by Moscow including its deal on Sunday to provide Iran nuclear fuel, a leading Republican senator said. Lawmakers from both major parties joined in calling for Russia to be punished for the nuclear deal and what they said were anti-democratic actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the French, German and British ambassadors to the United States opposed barring Russia from the summit.