Iran: Dig We Must, With North Korean Help

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July 9, 2007: In central Iran, satellite photos revealed several tunnels being dug into a mountain near a nuclear weapons research facility. Several other nuclear research facilities have had some of their operations moved underground, but this tunneling operation is one of the most ambitious "protective" efforts yet undertaken. Iranian officials have been to North Korea, and seen the extensive underground facilities there. It's possible, even likely, that North Korean engineers are lending their expertise (for a fee) to assist the Iranians in their tunnel construction. Tunnels for industrial facilities are not quite the same as highway, aqueduct or mining tunnels, which Iran has many of.

July 8, 2007: Officials openly speak of a "plot" among reformers to encourage opposition to the government by trying to publish stories about government incompetence and inefficiency. In response, more restrictions are being placed on "anti-government" media.

July 7, 2007:Iranian officials were allowed to meet with five Iranians captured in Iraq last January. Iran insists the five are diplomats, while the U.S. says they are officers in the Al Quds Force, an organization that assists terrorist activities outside of Iran. The U.S. has gotten some information about Iranian terrorist operations from the five captives, but isn't giving out many details, and is not responding much to Iranian demands that the five be freed.

July 6, 2007: The senior religious leader (and thus supreme leader of the country), Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has promised to ease up on the treatment of women. In the last year, the government has demanded, often with physical force, that Iranian women conform more to Islamic conservative rules of behavior. This has been very unpopular, and now the supreme leader of the religious dictatorship, has seen fit to respond. No details were provided, so this may just be a PR stunt.

July 5, 2007: Four North Korean mini-subs are on their way to Iran, and it's unclear if any efforts will be made to stop them. The most common North Korean mini-subs displace nearly a hundred tons, and thus cannot be flown in.There are, however, submersible speedboats, that are 40 feet long and displace only ten tons. These could be flown in.

July 4, 2007: The government has arrested nearly a hundred people in the wake of anti-gasoline rationing riots. The new restrictions on gasoline sales are meant to save about $4 billion a year in gasoline subsidies (the fuel sells for much less than in neighboring countries, so much of it is smuggled out for profit). After the recent 25 percent price hike, gasoline costs about 40 cents a gallon. Venezuela has agreed to sell Iran gasoline, in an attempt to avoid shortages, and more unrest.

July 3, 2007: One of the hundred or so reformist or moderate newspapers and magazines closed in the last seven years, was allowed to resume publication 42 days ago. But now it is closed again, with no specific reason given. Closing down these publications has been very unpopular, and the information they contained was often available anyway, via the Internet. But print on paper appears to make the government nervous.

July 2, 2007: The U.S. is releasing more evidence of Iranian support for terrorism in Iraq. The latest data shows how Hizbollah personnel from Lebanon are organizing and leading terrorist groups in Iraq. Some of these Hizbollah men have been captured, along with documents. Iran and Hizbollah deny everything.

 

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