Iran is seeking foreign firms
that will help it build two more nuclear power plants, in addition to the one
Russia was helping it with (but has halted because of a payments dispute, and
Russian efforts to force Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program.)
April 15, 2007: The government has let it be
known that candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections will be
carefully screened. In other words, no reformers need apply. Only Islamic
conservatives and radicals allowed. The lifestyle police have also increased
activity, going after women who show off bits of their hairdos, legs or body
shape. Many reformers are just hanging back for now, hoping that the various
radical factions in the government will go after each other.
April 14, 2007: The government has taken
another hostage, by refusing to allow a reporter for Radio Free Europe leave.
The woman in question has dual Iranian/U.S. citizenship and had come to visit a
sick relative. The U.S. also believes a former FBI agent was snatched while
visiting an Iranian resort area in the Persian Gulf. The Iranians are very
angry at the U.S. crackdown on Iranian operations in Iraq, especially the
arrest of over a dozen Iranian officials (who were operating not-so-secretly to
support pro-Iranian factions and militias). Iran can't admit these guys were
even in Iraq, since Iran denies it is interfering with Iraqs internal affairs.
But Iran wants to get its people back, and kidnapping Americans, secretly at
first, may do the trick.
April 13, 2007: It was believed that Iran
grabbed the 15 British sailors and marines in order to obtain the release of
Iranian officials captured in Iraq over the last few months. One Iranian
diplomat, earlier arrested by Iraqi police, was released. But the U.S.
announced that it wasn't releasing any of the Iranians it held. This did not go
down well in Iran, and was a humiliation as well. Iran was trying to show the
local Arabs how tough Iran was, but the Americans just said, "so
what?" Arabs in the region are now openly mocking Iran for the failure to
accomplish anything by kidnapping the British sailors and marines.
April 12, 2007: The U.S. has put more
restrictions on the sale of military surplus aircraft parts, in the belief that
Iranian agents are getting these parts for Irans aging fleet of U.S. made
aircraft. Iran has had a secret parts smuggling operation in place for over
twenty years, in order to keep those aircraft, and other American military
April 9, 2007: The government announced that
it had put 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges to work. This set-up could
produce enough enriched uranium in a year, for a nuclear bomb. Iran insists it
is only enriching the uranium sufficiently to run its Russian built nuclear
power plant. The Russians have refused to supply the enriched for this plant,
because of a dispute over Iranian payments for Russian work on the plant so
far. Previously, Iran had only 328 centrifuges operating in a research
April 7, 2007: The U.S. has been releasing
more data on Iranian operations inside Iraq, including the testimony of
captured Iraqi terrorists who were trained in Iran, and Iranian supplied
components for armor piercing roadside bombs that have accounted for about five
percent of coalition dead so far. Lots of Iranian made weapons have been
captured as well.
April 6, 2007: The government has told Europe
and the UN that uranium enrichment will proceed, and that threats of sanctions
will be ignored.
April 5, 2007: Iran is feeling the effects of
a quiet U.S. campaign to cripple their access to the international financial
system. The U.S. Treasury Department has been tracking down Iranian use of this
system, and telling the non-Iranian banks to back off, or suffer American
sanctions. The Iranians are helpless, and furious, in the face of this
campaign. Most frustrating is that they cannot attack it with a media campaign,
as there's nothing more boring, to a propagandist, than the international
banking system. No way to get traction with something like that.
April 4, 2007: Iran suddenly released the
fifteen British sailors and marines it had help for 13 days. This was the
result of a conflict between radical, and less-radical elements in the
government. The less-radical elements hold the top positions, but the radicals,
especially president Ahmadinejad, have more media exposure, and control of
special military units that can get involved in all manner of mischief (like
supporting terrorism in Iraq, and elsewhere.) Both factions want to avoid a
civil war within the government, but this is getting more difficult as time
goes by. To that end, when it was obvious that neither Britain, nor the U.S.
was going to attack (which the radicals wanted, to make their faction more
popular), the kidnapping became an embarrassment. At that point, the best
thing to do was to let the captives go and squeeze as much propaganda benefit
from the incident as possible.
April 3, 2007: While most Iranian media are
behind the government and the capture of the 15 British troops, some newspapers
are pointing out that this sort of thing is uncivilized and makes Iranians look
like a bunch of barbarians.