Los Angeles Times: The Bush administration is considering a more aggressive effort to foster opposition inside Iran and seeking ways to use a new $3-million fund to support activists without exposing them to the risk of arrest. The approach would represent a change since President Bush's first term, when the administration was more wary of such potentially dangerous moves, officials said.
Reuters: Iran says it wants to break U.N. seals and test "essential" parts for machines for nuclear work, diplomats said, adding this showed Iran's freeze on activity which could produce atomic weapons would be short-lived.
Washington Post - Editorial: THE CHANCES that the West will succeed in peacefully restraining Iran from building nuclear weapons have been looking dismal at the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency this week. The agency's staff reported that Iran was still not fully cooperating with its investigation into the secret uranium enrichment program Tehran began 18 years ago.
New York Times: President Bush, working to define a common strategy with Europe to get Iran to dismantle its suspected nuclear weapons program, conferred Thursday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about what the Iranian government must do as its part of any agreement, according to American and European officials.
Washington Post: The Bush administration is now seeking guarantees from Europe that allies will back punitive measures against Iran if diplomatic talks do not result in agreement by the Islamic republic to permanently abandon any ambitions of developing a nuclear weapon, according to U.S. and European officials.
AFP: Iran has shown "no indication" it is interested in a European-brokered deal to renounce its suspected nuclear arms ambitions, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday. Speaking to reporters after talks with Danish Foreign Minister Stig Moeller, Rice backed the initiative by France, Germany and Britain to offer Tehran incentives if it will give up its suspected nuclear program.
Boston Blobe - Editorial: PRESIDENT BUSH should travel more. After recent discussions in Europe with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Bush told his foreign policy advisers to come up with incentives that the French, Germans, and British could offer to Iran if its clerical regime were to renounce, verifiably, its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
UPI: The White House accused Iran Thursday of trying to shape Iraq's transitional government and said such actions needed to stop. Spokesman Scott McClellan did not detail how that influence was being exerted. "We have had increasing concerns about Iran trying to influence the shape of the transitional government," he said. "This must be an Iraqi process free from outside interference, especially from those in the neighborhood."
AP: The White House says it's another worrying sign -- word from a U-N nuclear agency that Iran is building tunnels to shield its nuclear facilities. Diplomats in Vienna, where the agency's headquartered, report the tunnels would protect key elements of Iran's program from air attacks by America or Israel. Press Secretary Scott McClellan says the report raises fresh concerns about Iran's "behavior" and "intentions."
Reuters: Iran has started building a research reactor that could eventually produce enough plutonium for one bomb per year, ignoring calls to scrap the project, diplomats close to the United Nations said on Thursday.
AP: Fearing airstrikes, Iran is using reenforced materials and tunneling deep underground to store nuclear components - measures meant to make the facility resistant to "bunker busters" and other special weaponry, diplomats said Thursday. The diplomats spoke as a 35-nation meeting of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency ended more than three days of deliberations focusing on Iran and North Korea, which are both accused of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Reporters Without Borders: Reporters Without Borders condemned government hounding of the press after an independent journalist was given a six-month suspended sentence, a daily newspaper was suspended and nine journalists summoned. A high court in Tehran on 1st March upheld a suspended jail term imposed in March 2004 against Mohammad Hassan Alipour, editor of the daily Aban, along with a two-year ban from working.
AFP: Iran refuses to go beyond its treaty obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to prove the peaceful aims of its nuclear energy programme, a senior official said Thursday. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei "has no right to demand anything that goes beyond international rules", said Hossein Mussavian, spokesman for Iran's nuclear negotiating team.
AFP: Iran is pouring the concrete foundation for a heavy-water nuclear reactor which can make weapons-grade plutonium and which the UN atomic agency had asked it not to build, diplomats said Thursday. The work at a 40-megawatt reactor at Arak, southwest of Tehran, began in September, just after the UN atomic agency had asked Iran to refrain from building the reactor as a "confidence-building measure" that it does not ...
Reuters: The United States kept up the pressure on Iran and Syria on Wednesday as a senior White House security official urged the international community to demand that Tehran and Damascus stop supporting terrorism.
"State sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Syria are with the terrorists and therefore against all of us," said Frances Townsend, homeland security adviser to President Bush.
Washington Times - Editorial: Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency, under fire from Washington for failing to vigorously challenge Iran's nuclear-weapons program, are taking a tougher line toward Tehran. As President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepare to discuss joining the European Union's efforts to use some incentives to persuade Iran to change its behavior ...
Los Angeles Times: President Bush and his closest foreign policy advisers convene Thursday to grapple with an important shift in U.S. policy toward Iran: how best to support a European diplomatic initiative to prevent the Middle East nation from becoming a nuclear weapons state. The discussions follow a working lunch Wednesday at the White House that included Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during which the Europeans' strategy to offer economic incentives was discussed, according to administration officials.