Iran: Good News. Bad News

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December 5, 2007: A new U.S. intelligence analysis claims that Iran halted its nuclear weapons research program in 2003. This is odd, since the report was created by an agency that answers to the president of the United States. But the people creating the Iran weapons section have a reputation for pro-Iran opinions. Moreover, the "halt" angle has very little to back it up. This new analysis seems to be more for political than intelligence effect, as it throws cold water on U.S. politicians who are calling for an attack on Iran (which would mainly help the unpopular religious dictatorship there, as it would rally the people behind them).

December 2, 2007: The United Arab Emirates has demanded the return of three islands in the Persian Gulf, which Iran seized by force in 1971, and refuses to give back.

November 29, 2007: The government condemned a peace conference, with Israel and most Arab nations in attendance, in the United States. While the official purpose of the conference was to get peace talks going between Israel and the Palestinians, the unspoken reason was fear of Iran. The Arab world is very concerned with Iran's growing military strength, and aggressiveness in the Persian Gulf (Arab attempts to get the world to think of it as the "Arabian Gulf" have largely failed.)

November 28, 2007: The government announced several new weapons, including a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers. That means it could reach Israel, which is a big deal for Iran (whose official goal is the destruction of Israel). Iran does not have any nuclear warheads for these missiles, and chemical warheads are particularly tricky to develop for ballistic missiles (since chemical and biological weapons are easily neutralized by the kind of high temperatures generated by a ballistic missile warhead diving towards its target). Like many of its locally developed weapons, these are believed more for propaganda, than actual combat utility.

November 27, 2007: Some Iranian government organizations are still moving weapons and people into Iraq, to help pro-Iranian Shia groups attack their enemies (including government and U.S. troops). The Iranian government won't admit that it doesn't control all if its "dirty tricks" operators, but here is another example of it.

November 26, 2007: Operations against Kurdish separatists (the PKK) in the northwest have intensified as the Turkish army continuing to mass on the Iraqi border, and the Iraqi Kurds agreeing to crack down on the PKK. As a result, more PKK are moving into Iran. There, the police recently arrested eleven PKK members, and found documents indicating increased attacks inside Iran.

November 24, 2007: The thousands of Iranians crossing the Iraqi border each day to visit Shia religious shrines, are becoming a political problem. These pilgrims return with stories of how prosperous the Iraqis are in a democracy. In Iran, the Sunni Arab terrorism is played up, but the pilgrims rarely see any evidence of that. They do see freedom and prosperity, especially in contrast to what they have back home. Iran cannot stop these visits, which were allowed even under Saddam Hussein (who encouraged them during the 1990s, as a source of revenue for his embargoed rule).

November 23, 2007: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come under increasing criticism from the religious leadership, which actually outranks him and controls more actual government power. Ahmadinejad's stature has taken a beating in opinion polls, as many Iranians wonder when they are going to see some benefit from all that oil revenue.

 

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