JFP News 7/20: Hondurans Urge International Sanctions on Coup Regime
Just Foreign Policy News
July 20, 2009
The Day They Arrested President Roosevelt
How might American history have been different, if, like President Zelaya, President Roosevelt had been deported by the military during a constitutional dispute? Maybe we wouldn't have a Social Security system, or minimum wage laws, or the National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees the right of workers to organize; maybe, like Honduras, 60% of our fellow citizens would live in poverty.
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1) Aides to Honduran President Zelaya pushed for international sanctions against Honduran officials who took power in a coup and foreign nations stepped up pressure after negotiations for his return reached a deadlock, AP reports. Zelaya adviser Enrique Flores, told AP governments should take steps such as freezing the bank accounts of members of the coup government. The EU announced it is suspending $92 million in aid to Honduras after the government installed by a coup rejected a mediator's plan for Zelaya's return. Secretary of State Clinton phoned coup president Micheletti to warn of consequences if he fails to reach a negotiated settlement. OAS secretary-general Insulza chastised the coup government for its inflexibility, warning that its refusal to reinstate Zelaya could provoke violence in Honduras.
2) An airstrike that Afghan officials allege killed at least four civilians is the first test of a new U.S. directive that American troops let Taliban fighters flee if civilian lives are at risk, McClatchy reports. U.S. officials said it wasn't at all clear that the civilians had been killed in an airstrike. But the mayor of Kandahar city charged that an airstrike that U.S. forces launched killed four civilians and injured 13, including women and children.
3) Hamid Karzai has urged the West to develop a new strategy for Afghanistan, warning that more troops will not necessarily improve security, the London Sunday Times reports. Karzai called for negotiations with the Taliban. Even Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, should be encouraged to attend talks, he said. Karzai said he saw " a lot more willingness to engage in peace talks" in the Obama Administration." Karzai promised that, if re-elected as president, he would make talks with the Taliban and other militant groups, such as Hezb Islami, his priority.
4) Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected a US call to hold off on a planned Jewish housing development in East Jerusalem, saying Israel's sovereignty over the disputed city could not be challenged, the New York Times reports.
5) For some Washington allies of the coup in Honduras, it is their second attempt to overthrow an elected reformist government in Latin America, writes Hugh O'Shaughnessy in The Independent. The group includes prominent figures involved in the 2002 ousting of President Chavez of Venezuela. Since last July, the US ambassador in Honduras has been Hugo Llorens. He was the principal National Security adviser to Bush on Venezuela at the time of the failed 2002 coup.
6) A US military review calls for overhauling the Bagram prison as well as the entire Afghan jail and judicial systems, a reaction to worries that abuses are helping to strengthen the Taliban, the New York Times reports. Prisoners at Bagram have fewer privileges than at Guantánamo and virtually no access to lawyers or the judicial process. Many are still held communally in big cages.
7) Afghan militants released a video of a captured US soldier, the Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. military officials denounced the video as a violation of the laws of war. Attempts to rescue the soldier might place him in greater danger, the Times says.
8) A dossier compiled by Pakistani investigators acknowledging that a Pakistani extremist group was behind last year's Mumbai attacks could help set the stage for the beginnings of a thaw in relations with India, the Los Angeles Times reports. The dossier, which Pakistani officials handed over to their Indian counterparts, concludes that the militant Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba organized the attacks. Indian diplomats said the dossier's acknowledgment of Lashkar-e-Taiba's involvement in the Mumbai attacks played a role in India's decision to open the door toward a resumption of dialogue with Islamabad. The US denied that is was exerting pressure for India-Pakistan reconciliation.
10) Some diplomats say Iran is advancing to the stage where it could test a nuclear weapon within six months, George Jahn reports for AP. The diplomats emphasized that there were no indications of plans for such a test, saying it was highly unlikely Iran would risk heightened confrontation with the West by embarking on such a course. But they said Iran is resisting IAEA attempts to increase surveillance of its enrichment site at Natanz. For Iran to amass enough fissile material to conduct an underground test, it would likely have to kick out IAEA monitors; Iran is unlikely to do that, AP says. Iran is still considered years away from developing a reliable nuclear warhead delivery system.
11) An Egyptian cleric has been arrested with 11 other people and charged with promoting the Shiite doctrine of Islam, the Los Angeles Times reports. Egyptian media confirmed that state security prevented the defendants' Shiite lawyer from attending the ongoing investigations. Human-rights organizations have been prevented from closely monitoring the case. Members of the Shiite community in Egypt are angry over the arrests; some said they had been planning to file lawsuits demanding that the Egyptian government recognize Shiism as a religious doctrine.
1) Ousted Honduran leader pushes for more sanctions
Morgan Lee, Associated Press, Monday, July 20, 2009; 2:48 PM
Managua, Nicaragua - Aides to ousted President Manuel Zelaya pushed Monday for international sanctions against Honduran officials who took power in a coup and foreign nations stepped up pressure after negotiations for his return reached a deadlock. A top Zelaya adviser, Enrique Flores, told The Associated Press that other governments should take steps such as freezing the bank accounts of members of the interim government.
The European Union announced Monday that it is suspending some euro65 million ($92 million) in aid to Honduras after the government installed by a coup rejected a mediator's plan for Zelaya's return. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton added to the pressure, phoning interim President Roberto Micheletti over the weekend to warn of consequences if he fails to reach a negotiated settlement.
On Sunday, the ousted president accused his opponents of "making a mockery" of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias' attempts to mediate an agreement and called for stronger international pressure on Micheletti, who was sworn in as president after the military kicked Zelaya out of the country on June 28.
Singling out the United States repeatedly, Zelaya said the international community risks tacitly endorsing the coup if it does not confront the interim government that abducted and deposed him at gunpoint.
"The international community is facing a dilemma," Zelaya told reporters at the Honduran Embassy in the Nicaraguan capital. "They asked the guerrilla movements 20 years ago to put down their arms. ... And now the conservatives come back and take up arms to boot out the leftists who are attempting a process of reform."
Zelaya did not specify what actions he wants from the United States, which has already suspended more than $18 million in military assistance and development aid programs. The United States is Honduras' biggest trade partner and has long had close military and political ties with Honduras.
Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who shifted left during his presidency, charged that the current constitution protects a system of government that excludes the poor. Zelaya said he has hopes for negotiations, but said he would organize "resistance" inside Honduras to prepare for his return as early as this weekend.
On Monday, about 500 Zelaya supporters protested outside the Congress building in Tegucigalpa. School teachers returned to classes for the first time since walking off the job three weeks ago in support of the ousted president, but pro-Zelaya union leaders have called for a general strike on Thursday and Friday.
Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, chastised the interim government for its inflexibility, warning that its refusal to reinstate Zelaya could provoke violence in Honduras. "Nobody in the world supports (the coup). It's madness," Insulza said in an interview Monday with Chile's Cooperative radio station. "I don't think the best path is imposition and confrontation, but I don't think we'll be able to avoid that unless the de facto government shows more flexibility."
2) US Airstrike in Afghanistan Tests McChrystal's New Order
Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers, Friday, July 17, 2009
Kandahar, Afghanistan - An airstrike that Afghan officials allege killed at least four civilians Wednesday is the first test of a new U.S. directive that American troops let Taliban fighters flee if civilian lives are at risk.
U.S. officials said Friday that it wasn't at all clear that the civilians had been killed in an airstrike in southern Afghanistan, saying the casualties appear to have been victims of small arms fires. However, the quick denunciation of the deaths by the governor of Kandahar province, an ally of President Hamid Karzai, shows how sensitive the issue of civilian casualties has become, even as the American military vows to reduce them and to investigate the latest allegation.
Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, ordered American ground troops two weeks ago to avoid calling in airstrikes if civilian lives are at risk, in an effort to avoid casualties and to show the local population that U.S. forces are here to protect them.
In a community in which technology and literacy are scarce, however, the first version of events usually prevails, and that appeared to be the case Friday. Throughout Kandahar, residents charged that their relatives were missing or injured at the hands of an overzealous foreign force, even though the facts weren't clear.
The mayor of Kandahar city, Toryalai Weesa, joined the governor, charging that an airstrike that U.S. forces launched Wednesday night in the village of Shawalikot, about 20 miles north of Kandahar, killed four civilians and injured 13, including women and children.
3) Hamid Karzai Says Bring Taliban To Table
Christina Lamb, The Sunday Times July 19, 2009
The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has urged the West to develop a new strategy for his country, warning that more troops will not necessarily improve security. "Military operations are no longer enough," he said as the deaths of British and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan reached their highest monthly total of the eight-year war. "We have to rethink the way we do things - without that there won't be any improvement."
Karzai called for negotiations with the Taliban. Even Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, should be encouraged to attend talks, he said.
Speaking yesterday in an office so heavily secured that journalists are no longer allowed to take in pens or lipstick, the president expressed his sorrow at the mounting toll of British troops but cast doubt on the value of sending more.
American soldiers have been pouring into Afghanistan over the past few months as the United States more than doubles its strength from 32,000 to 68,000 this year, along with 36,000 troops from other western allies. This is partly to secure the country for the elections next month, yet the situation continues to worsen.
"I don't think the increase in troops will address the problem," Karzai said. "We need to concentrate on finding other avenues of defeating terrorism and seeking peace.
"We must engage in negotiations, bring back those Taliban who are willing to return, who have been driven out by fear and coercion and the mistakes we've all made. They are part of this country and must be called back." He said he welcomed a speech last week by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, in which she held out an olive branch to Taliban militants who renounce violence.
"We've been talking about this for years but didn't have enough support or understanding from our allies," he said. "I see in the new administration a lot more willingness to engage in peace talks."
The Saudi government has already hosted some tentative negotiations. Karzai promised that, if re-elected as president, he would make talks with the Taliban and other militant groups, such as Hezb Islami, his priority. "If Mullah Omar wants to come and talk, he's welcome - it's a desire we have and we should try for it," he said. "Without a sincere peace process on all sides, matters will only get worse."
4) Israel Rejects U.S. Call to Hold Off on Development
Ethan Bronner, New York Times, July 20, 2009
Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Sunday an American call to hold off on a planned Jewish housing development in East Jerusalem, saying Israel's sovereignty over the disputed city could not be challenged.
Netanyahu issued the statement because State Department officials had raised concerns over the project with Israel's new ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, during discussions last week on a range of issues. The American officials suggested that going ahead with the development now would cause problems in negotiations toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day war. It annexed East Jerusalem, which contains sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as many Palestinian neighborhoods, and built a series of Jewish neighborhoods in and around it to solidify its claim. It has also built scores of West Bank settlements.
As Washington seeks to help create a Palestinian state, it has challenged Jewish settlements in both areas and demanded a freeze on further building. Israel has been seeking a compromise. The Obama administration's Middle East envoy, George J. Mitchell, is expected here in a week for more meetings on the issue.
The East Jerusalem property in question, to be developed into a 20-unit complex, was bought by a Miami-based businessman, Irving Moskowitz, in 1985. He has long supported Israeli and Jewish housing in East Jerusalem. From 1987 to 2002, he rented the existing building there to the paramilitary border police. Recently the municipality granted permission for the housing development to proceed.
The property is in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, a predominantly Palestinian area that also has foreign consulates and Israeli government buildings.
5) Democracy Hangs by a Thread in Honduras
The right-wing coup d'état is faltering, but its supporters have powerful friends in Washington.
Hugh O'Shaughnessy, The Independent, Sunday, 19 July 2009
For some of the plotters it is their second attempt to overthrow an elected reformist government in Latin America: the group includes prominent figures involved in the 2002 ousting of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who was kidnapped for 48 hours and sent to a Caribbean island before being restored to office after widespread popular protest.
The temporary toppling of Mr Chavez was welcomed by the Bush administration, the Blair government and the International Monetary Fund. This weekend, the US seems destined for a replay of 2002's Operation Chaotic Coup. Amid a stream of contradictory messages it is clear that last month's putsch against Mr Zelaya was brewed up in Washington by a group of extreme conservatives from Venezuela, Honduras and the US. They appear to have hidden their plans from the White House, but hoped eventually to bounce President Obama into backing them and supporting the "interim president". They are making much of Mr Zelaya's alliance with Mr Chavez, whose sense of nationalism challenges US hegemony.
Financial backing for the coup is identified by some as coming from the pharmaceutical industry, which fears Mr Zelaya's plans to produce generic drugs and distribute them cheaply to the impoverished majority in Honduras, who lack all but the most primitive health facilities. Others point to big companies in the telecommunications industry opposed to Hondutel, Honduras's state-owned provider. Parallels are being made with ITT, the US telecommunications company that offered the Nixon government funds for the successful overthrow of President Salvador Allende of Chile in 1973.
A key figure is Robert Carmona-Borjas, a Venezuelan active against Mr Chavez in 2002, who later fled to the US. He runs the Washington-based Arcadia, which calls itself "an innovative 'next generation' anti-corruption organisation". Its website carries three video clips alleging, without evidence, that Mr Zelaya, his associates and Hondutel are deeply corrupt. Behind Arcadia are the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), the well-funded overseas arm of the Republican Party. Currently active among the Uighurs of western China, the NED has this year funnelled $1.2m (£740,000) for "political activity" in Honduras.
The focus of attention in the campaign against Mr Zelaya is now on the office of Senator John McCain, the defeated US presidential candidate, who is chairman of the IRI, takes an interest in telecoms affairs in the US Congress and has benefited handsomely from campaign contributions from US telecoms companies - which are said to have funded the abortive 2002 coup against Mr Chavez.
Mr McCain's former legislative counsel, John Timmons, arranged the visit of Micheletti supporters to Washington on 7 July where they met journalists at the National Press Club "to clarify any misunderstandings about Honduras's constitutional process and ... the preservation of the country's democratic institutions".
Meanwhile, within the US administration, difficulties in co-ordination have emerged between the State Department and the White House, with the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, issuing a low-key condemnation of the coup which was quickly superseded by stronger words from Mr Obama. The President called for Mr Zelaya's reinstatement, which Mrs Clinton had failed to demand.
The conservative-minded Mrs Clinton retains John Negroponte, an ambassador to Honduras under Ronald Reagan, as an adviser. He also represented George W Bush at the UN and in Baghdad. Democratic Senator Chris Dodd attacked Mr Negroponte in 2001 for drawing a veil over atrocities committed in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, by military forces trained by the US. Mr Dodd claimed that the forces had been "linked to death squad activities such as killings, disappearances and other human rights abuses".
During his time in Tegucigalpa, Mr Negroponte directed funds to the US-supported Contra terrorists seeking to overthrow the government of Nicaragua. He assured them of arms and supplies from the Palmerola airstrip, the main US base in Central America. As President Rafael Correa of Ecuador is in the final stages of closing the US base in his country, Mr Negroponte is conscious of what the US could lose if a Zelaya government banned its presence at Palmerola. For their part, Hondurans have noted that when Mr Zelaya tried to return on 6 July, and his plane was refused permission to land at Tegucigalpa airport, no room was found at Palmerola.
Since last July, the US ambassador in Tegucigalpa has been the Cuban-born Hugo Llorens. He was the principal National Security adviser to Mr Bush on Venezuela at the time of the failed 2002 coup, when he was working with two other well-known State Department hardliners, Otto Reich and Elliot Abrams.
Mr Reich, a former US ambassador to Venezuela, advised Mr McCain in his presidential bid and previously worked for AT&T, the US telecoms giant. As he goes into battle against Mr Zelaya, the website of his business consultancy, Otto Reich Associates, quotes Mr Reagan: "You understand the importance of fostering democracy and economic development among our closest neighbours."
6) Pentagon Seeks Prison Overhaul In Afghanistan
Eric Schmitt, New York Times, July 20, 2009
Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan - A sweeping United States military review calls for overhauling the troubled American-run prison here as well as the entire Afghan jail and judicial systems, a reaction to worries that abuses and militant recruiting within the prisons are helping to strengthen the Taliban.
In a further sign of high-level concern over detention practices, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a confidential message last week to all of the military service chiefs and senior field commanders asking them to redouble their efforts to alert troops to the importance of treating detainees properly.
The prison at this air base north of Kabul has become an ominous symbol for Afghans - a place where harsh interrogation methods and sleep deprivation were used routinely in its early years, and where two Afghan detainees died in 2002 after being beaten by American soldiers and hung by their arms from the ceiling of isolation cells.
Bagram also became a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq.
But even as treatment at Bagram improved in recent years, conditions worsened in the larger Afghan-run prison network, which houses more than 15,000 detainees at three dozen overcrowded and often violent sites. The country's deeply flawed judicial system affords prisoners virtually no legal protections, human rights advocates say. "Throughout Afghanistan, Afghans are arbitrarily detained by police, prosecutors, judges and detention center officials with alarming regularity," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report in January.
The recommendations come as American officials express fears that the notoriously overcrowded Afghan-run prisons will be overwhelmed by waves of new prisoners captured in the American-led offensive in southern Afghanistan, where thousands of Marines are battling Taliban fighters.
The problems at the existing American-run prison, the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, have been well documented.
Military personnel who know Bagram and the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, describe the Afghan site as tougher and more spartan. The prisoners have fewer privileges and virtually no access to lawyers or the judicial process. Many are still held communally in big cages.
In the past two weeks, prisoners have refused to leave their cells to protest their indefinite imprisonment.
In 2005, the Bush administration began trying to scale back American involvement in detention operations in Afghanistan, mainly by transferring Bagram prisoners to an American-financed high-security prison outside of Kabul guarded by American-trained Afghan soldiers.
But United States officials conceded that the new Afghan block, at Pul-i-Charkhi prison, could not absorb all the Bagram prisoners. It now holds about 4,300 detainees, including some 360 from Bagram or Guantánamo Bay, Afghan prison officials said.
7) Captors Release Video of US Soldier Who Went Missing in Afghanistan
Greg Miller and Laura King, Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2009
The Army private disappeared from his base June 30. Military officials denounce the Taliban for using the captive as a propaganda weapon and said the incident would not alter U.S. strategy.
Kabul and Washington - Posing an emotional new complication for the expanding U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, Islamic militants released a video of a captured American soldier whom U.S. military officials identified for the first time Sunday as Pvt. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho.
The video marked the first time that militants have sought to take advantage of Bergdahl's June 30 capture to mount a propaganda attack on President Obama's decision to escalate U.S. involvement in the war. The video also underscores the stakes for U.S. forces that have spent more than two weeks scouring eastern Afghanistan for clues to Bergdahl's whereabouts.
The footage shows Bergdahl in apparent good condition, dressed in a traditional Afghan loose shirt and tunic, known as a shalwar khameez. His hair is short and he has a slight stubble of beard.
Responding to prompts from his captors, Bergdahl calls for U.S. forces to be returned home and voices worry that he may never again see his family. "I'm scared I won't be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner," he says at one point in the 28-minute recording. "I have my girlfriend who is hoping to marry. . . . I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America."
U.S. military officials denounced the video as a violation of the laws of war. "The Taliban are using the soldier for propaganda purposes," said Navy Lt. Robert Carr, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "We are continuing to do everything possible to recover the soldier and are using all available assets to get him back safely and unharmed."
Even if U.S. military officials can determine where Bergdahl is being held, they face the dilemma of whether a rescue attempt might only place him in greater danger.
Within 48 hours of Bergdahl's disappearance, the Taliban announced his capture. Mullah Sangin, a senior Taliban commander in Afghanistan's southeast, said the soldier would be killed if the place where he is being held is attacked by Western forces.
8) Pakistan Admits Extremists' Involvement In Mumbai Attacks
In a dossier shared with Indian officials, Pakistani investigators acknowledge that militant Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba organized the November attacks that killed 166 people.
Alex Rodriguez and Anshul Rana, Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2009
New Delhi and Islamabad - A dossier compiled by Pakistani investigators acknowledging that a Pakistani extremist group was behind last year's Mumbai attacks could help set the stage for the beginnings of a thaw in relations with India.
The dossier, which Pakistani officials handed over to their Indian counterparts during talks in Egypt last week, concludes that the militant Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba organized the attacks on luxury hotels, a railway station and other targets in Mumbai in November that killed 166 people.
India had blamed the attacks on Lashkar-e-Taiba and urged Pakistan to clamp down on the group. But until now, Pakistan had not directly tied the group to the Mumbai violence.
Meeting in Sharm el Sheik last week on the sidelines of a summit, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani met with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, and pledged to resume dialogue between the two countries, a significant step toward reconciliation.
At a news conference in Islamabad on Saturday evening, Gillani said his talks with Singh were a good first step, but added that it would take time to chip away at the deep mistrust built up between the two nations for decades. "Dialogue is not the problem. A trust deficit, that's the problem," Gillani said. "But with more interaction, that will be taken care of."
Relations between India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed countries that historically have regarded each other as archenemies, froze in the wake of the attacks, as New Delhi accused Islamabad of dragging its feet in tracking down Lashkar-e-Taiba members involved in the rampage.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was formed about 20 years ago to fight Indian rule in the Himalayan region of Kashmir. It was founded by firebrand Islamic cleric Hafiz Saeed with what many say was support from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. A Pakistani court freed Saeed from house arrest last month, angering Indian leaders.
Indian diplomats quoted anonymously in an Indian newspaper and on television said the dossier's acknowledgment of Lashkar-e-Taiba's involvement in the Mumbai attacks played a role in India's decision to open the door toward a resumption of dialogue with Islamabad.
Former Indian Foreign Secretary Salman Haider said Gillani and Singh wanted to "convey that some progress was being made, and in Pakistan's case, this progress could be seen in admitting to Lashkar-e-Taiba involvement."
Opposition parties in India have been critical of Singh's efforts to warm relations with Pakistan, saying he was giving in to pressure from Washington to resume dialogue with Islamabad.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in India on a three-day visit, told reporters in Mumbai that Washington had not put any pressure on Singh's government to strike a more conciliatory tone with Pakistan.
9) Diplomats: Iran has means to test bomb in 6 months
George Jahn, Associated Press, Friday, July 17, 2009 5:35 PM
Vienna - Iran is blocking U.N. nuclear agency attempts to upgrade monitoring of its atomic program while advancing those activities to the stage that the country would have the means to test a weapon within six months, diplomats told The Associated Press Friday.
The diplomats emphasized that there were no indications of plans for such a nuclear test, saying it was highly unlikely Iran would risk heightened confrontation with the West - and chances of Israeli attack - by embarking on such a course.
But they said that even as Iran expands uranium enrichment, which can create fissile nuclear material, it is resisting International Atomic Energy Agency attempts to increase surveillance of its enrichment site meant to keep pace with the plant's increased size and complexity.
For Iran to amass enough fissile material to conduct an underground test similar to North Korea's 2006 nuclear explosion, it would likely have to kick out monitors of the IAEA - the U.N. nuclear agency - from its one known uranium enrichment site at Natanz. Technicians then could reconfigure the centrifuges now churning out nuclear-fuel grade enriched uranium to highly enriched, weapons-grade material.
Iran is unlikely, however, to want to do that. Such a move would immediately set off international alarm bells and could bridge rifts on how strongly to react - Russia and China, which have resisted Western calls to increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear defiance, would likely endorse more sweeping U.N sanctions and other penalties.
Iran is still considered years away from developing a reliable nuclear warhead delivery system. So tipping its hand with a nuclear test, should it want to own such weapons, would make little sense.
"We are talking here not of intent but capability," said one of two western diplomats accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Like his colleague from another country, this diplomat - who has access to intelligence on Iran's nuclear program - demanded anonymity in exchange for discussions of the highly confidential issue.
10) Cleric backed by Iran charged in Egypt
Amro Hassan, Los Angeles Times, Jul 19 2009
An Egyptian cleric backed by Iran has been arrested with 11 other people and charged with promoting the Shiite doctrine of Islam in this overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim nation.
Police have indicted Hassan Shehata Moussa, a mosque preacher who hosted a religious show on Egyptian public television in the 1990s, accusing him of leading the illegal group. According to authorities, the "Shiite organization" includes more than 300 people, mostly Arab students living in the country.
The general prosecutor formally accused Moussa of using Friday sermons in promoting his Shiite ideals, recruiting foreign elements, leading a banned group, receiving financial support from foreign governments, as well as possessing books defaming Sunnism.
Egyptian media confirmed that state security prevented the defendants' Shiite lawyer from attending the ongoing investigations. Human-rights organizations have been prevented from closely monitoring the case. Members of the Shiite community in Egypt are angry over the arrests; some said they had been planning to file lawsuits demanding that the Egyptian government recognize Shiism as a religious doctrine.
"Egyptian Shiites have always been oppressed and abused by the Egyptian regime. We were always looked upon as outsiders until further notice," said Ahmed El Nafis, a professor of medicine at Mansoura University and one of the most prominent Shiite figures in Egypt. "The regime has always been in the hunt for Shiites. While other religious doctrines like the Wahabis are allowed to spread their ideas through satellite channels."
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