Bush on warpath over UN's shock report on Iran A-bomb
7 September 2003
America will tomorrow demand that the United Nations takes urgent action to prevent Iran acquiring the atom bomb as fears mount that Teheran is on course to develop a nuclear weapons capability within two years.
United States officials will make the demand at a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that has been arranged to consider a 10-page report by Mohammed al-Baradei, the agency's director-general, into the state of Iran's nuclear programme.
Washington has already expressed deep concern about the discovery of traces of weapons grade uranium found in soil samples taken from one of Iran's top secret nuclear facilities last July.
In his report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Telegraph, Mr al-Baradei lists serious concerns raised by UN weapons inspectors about the scope of Iran's nuclear programme, which Teheran continues to insist is aimed at developing a nuclear power industry.
Inspectors are particularly concerned about activity at a nuclear complex at Natanz, in central Iran, which has sophisticated equipment for enriching uranium to weapons grade standard.
Even though the complex was built five years ago, the Iranian authorities only confirmed its existence to the IAEA earlier this year after its location was revealed by Iranian exiles.
The report also details the inspectors' concerns about the development of a heavy water facility at Arak, which they believe could help Iran to manufacture weapons grade uranium.
Mr al-Baradei writes in the report's conclusion that "there remain a number of important outstanding issues, particularly with regard to Iran's enrichment programme, that require urgent resolution".
US officials, however, are concerned that Mr al-Baradei, who this year argued in favour of UN inspectors being given more time to locate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, will try to play down the significance of the recent discoveries made in Iran.
One American closely involved in monitoring Iran's nuclear programme said: "The big difference between Iraq and Iran is that the Iranians now have the ability to develop an atom bomb within two years. The time has come to force the Iranians to come clean about their real intentions."
Although Mr al-Baradei admits that the Iranians have deployed a variety of delaying tactics to prevent UN inspectors gaining access to secret nuclear facilities, he believes that they should be given more time to comply with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
American officials fear that many Europeans on the IAEA's 35-member board of governors, some of whose countries have lucrative trade ties with Teheran, will back Mr al-Baradei's position
Israel failed to assassinate Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
Sheikh Ahmad Yassin
Amman- Fact International
From Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheikh
6 September 2003
In a move described to be one of the most dangerous assassination attempts by Israeli occupying forces, Sheikh Ahmed Yassen the founder of the popular Jihadic Palestinian Islamic movement (Hamas) survived an assassination attempt by an apachee American made gun ship in a heavily populated area in Gaza strip, news agencies reported.
Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, who is totally paralysed suffered minor injuries on his hands, while Sheikh Ismael Abu Hania, a top ranking official of Hamas who was on the scene of the targeted building did not suffer any injury, according to Abu Hania who was interviewed by Arab satellite channels.
Ariel Sharon, the prime minister of the Israeli occupying forces, the master mind of Dair Yassin and Sabra and Shatela massacres, adopted the strategy of assassination of the political leaders of Hamas and all Islamic and national Palestinian resistance movements since he gained power, such policy led to the circle of violence and revenge which resulted to the collapse of all efforts exerted by the international community to implement the Road Map peace plan.
It is believed by political analysis that Sharon is trying to take advantage of the internal political Palestinian crisis taking place at this time, due to the resignation of the prime Minster of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas today, by hunting down important Palestinian leaders such as Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, to send a message to the world opinion that Hamas is behind the collapse of the peace process.
Arafat Accepts PM's Resignation
6 September 2003
By LARA SUKHTIAN, Associated Press Writer
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, increasingly unpopular and worn out by a power struggle with Yasser Arafat , resigned Saturday — dealing a serious blow to a U.S.-backed peace plan.
Arafat accepted the resignation, and now has two weeks to name a new prime minister, said a senior Palestinian official who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the meantime, Abbas' Cabinet will remain in place as a caretaker government.
Abbas' departure after only four months in office meant even greater uncertainty for the "road map" peace plan, already in serious trouble because of a major spike in violence in recent weeks and the collapse of a unilateral truce by militants.
With Abbas gone, Israel and the United States don't have a negotiating partner, at least temporarily. The two nations shun Arafat, saying he is an obstacle to peace-making.
Israel said Saturday it will not accept a government controlled by Yasser Arafat or one of his loyalists.
"Israel is monitoring the developments, and says it will not accept a state of affairs in which control over the Palestinian Authority reverts back to Yasser Arafat or one of his loyalists," said a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon .
Abbas' departure was expected to further hurt Arafat's international standing if he is seen as having engineered the prime minister's departure.
It could also lower the threshold for possible Israeli action against Arafat; Israel's defense minister has raised the possibility of sending Arafat into exile.
Israeli Cabinet Minister Danny Naveh on Saturday called for Arafat's ouster, Israel Army Radio said. Other government officials withheld comment Saturday, and Israel's position on the matter remained unclear.
Abbas, who might have been ousted anyhow in a confidence vote in parliament next week, had his resignation letter delivered to Arafat by two senior officials Saturday before addressing the legislature in a closed-door session to explain his decision.
Palestinian officials said they feared the resignation would lead the region into further chaos.
"We are entering a new crisis and the price of this crisis will be the shedding of a lot of blood," said Kadoura Fares, a legislator from the ruling Fatah movement.
Abbas had been frustrated by the constant wrangling with Arafat, his aides said. He was also hurt by the near-collapse of the road map and his inability to improve the daily lives of Palestinians.
On Thursday, when Abbas addressed legislators, he was heckled and shoved by an angry crowd of Arafat supporters, including several armed and masked men.
Even if he hadn't resigned, Abbas might have been forced out. He faced a vote of confidence in parliament in the coming days, and there was growing dissatisfaction in parliament with his performance and his difficulties with Arafat.
Abbas' resignation could also end up being a blow to Arafat, even if at first it appeared the veteran leader had outmaneuvered his politically inexperienced prime minister.
Israel's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, said earlier this week that Israel might have to expel Arafat before the end of the year, if Arafat keeps getting into the way of peace efforts. Israeli analysts have said Abbas' departure was one scenario in which Israel might decide to act.
Until now, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has held back on expulsion, both because of U.S. opposition and because of warnings from his security advisers that sending Arafat abroad would do more harm than keeping him relatively isolated at his West Bank headquarters.
Abbas and Arafat have been at odds ever since Arafat appointed the prime minister under intense international pressure in April. The latest standoff was over control of the security forces. Abbas, backed by the United States, demanded command over all men under arms, but Arafat refused to relinquish control over four of the eight security branches.
Abbas had said he would not clamp down on militants as required by the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan. However, being in control of all the security forces would have given him greater authority in renewed negotiations with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and renegades from his own Fatah movement.
Earlier this week, Abbas told parliament it must either back him or strip him of his post, saying he was not clinging to the job and would just as soon step down.
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