Voice of America: Experts and other witnesses appearing before a congressional committee say Iran continues to support terrorist groups and is encouraging instability in Iraq. A hearing also included emotional testimony by individuals affected by Iranian-backed terrorism. From Israel and the Palestinian territories to Iraq and elsewhere, witnesses at Wednesday's hearing said Iran's ongoing sponsorship of terrorism is indisputable, and poses a direct and continuing threat to U.S. interests.
AFP: When US President George W. Bush comes to town next week, Washington's European allies will be hoping to extinguish the heat of transatlantic rancour over Iraq. But just as one issue gets switched to the backburner for Bush's participation next Tuesday in EU and NATO summits, another in the form of Iran's nuclear ambitions threatens a fresh flare-up.
The Guardian: Iran and Syria heightened tension across the Middle East and directly confronted the Bush administration yesterday by declaring they had formed a mutual self-defence pact to confront the "threats" now facing them. The move, which took the Foreign Office by surprise, was announced after a meeting in Tehran between the Iranian vice-president, ...
The Independent: An explosion which turned out to be a dam blast in southern Iran sent jitters through financial markets amid speculation that the country's only nuclear reactor had come under attack. The incident came as Iran and Syria announced yesterday that they would "form a common front" against external threats, and a day after the Islamic state confirmed that unmanned American spy planes were flying surveillance missions over nuclear facilities.
Voice Of America: Iran's leadership has been sharply criticized in congressional hearings on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers assess what steps the United States, Europe and others can take to avert a nuclear-armed Iran. The criticism, and testimony by experts, came amid Iranian warnings regarding what it calls U.S. aerial intelligence-gathering efforts, as well as European calls for stepped up diplomatic efforts.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Feb. 17 A fire set ablaze stalls in the Goldsmiths Bazaar in Tehran this morning after a spontaneous gas explosion. Eye-witnesses reported that a gas capsule exploded in one of the side roads of the bazaar.
AFP: Iran is stepping up efforts to build long range missiles and remains a "state sponsor" of terrorism, Central Intelligence Agency director Porter Goss told Congress on Wednesday.
"Iran continues its pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles," Goss said in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the main security threats to the United States.
AP: An explosion was reported Wednesday in southern Iran near a nuclear power plant, with state-run media offering conflicting explanations for what happened, from blasting for dam construction, a fuel tank dropping from an Iranian plane, and friendly fire. The explosion came as Iran's intelligence chief accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the aircraft.
Bloomberg: German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer urged Iran to give guarantees that its nuclear program will be used for peaceful means, to allay concerns it may be developing nuclear weapons. The European Union, with Germany, the U.K. and France leading the negotiations, has been holding talks with Iran to persuade it to scrap its nuclear research program, while U.S. President George W. Bush has refused to rule out ...
AP: Iranian state television said Wednesday that an explosion near Deilam may have been caused by a fuel tank accidentally dropping from an Iranian airplane in the region. The state-run television provided few details, but said local officials had told it that may have been the cause of the unidentified explosion.
Reuters: Iran and Syria, both locked in rows with the United States, said on Wednesday they will form a common front to face challenges and threats. "We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said in Tehran after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari.
Bloomberg: U.S. lawmakers are beginning a new push to compel enforcement of a 1996 law imposing sanctions on foreign companies that do business in Iran, a move that might trigger a European Union protest to the World Trade Organization. Among the companies that would be vulnerable to the sanctions are Siemens AG, Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Total SA of Europe and Inpex Corp. of Japan.
Reuters: Iran will re-tender operatorship of its second private mobile phone network, if Turkcell quits the deal because lawmakers changed the Turkish firm's terms, an official said on Wednesday. Masoum Fardis, running the tender for Iran's telecommunications ministry, said his ministry had returned the bid-bond of South Africa's MTN which came second in the tender after Turkcell paid its licence fee.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Feb. 16 Women and teenage girls comprise the majority of people in Iran's Ilam province (western Iran) who committed suicide throughout this year, according to the province's Councillor for Women's Affairs. At least 220 cases of women committing suicide in Ilam have been recorded out of an estimated 400 suicides, Heyran Pournajaf said to a state-run news agency.
Reuters: Washington is using satellites to spy on Iran's nuclear sites, Iran's Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
"We believe the United States has been spying against Iran for some time using satellites and other tools," he was quoted as saying on the official IRNA news agency, when asked about U.S. denials that it was using drones over Iran.
AFP: The World Trade Organisation accepted Tuesday the separate membership applications of Serbia and Montenegro, but again rejected that of Iran because of US opposition. A General Council session of the 148 member-states unanimously accepted the separate applications by Serbia and Montenegro, which previously had made one single application.