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Spotlight on Iran Update, September 30, 2010 and President Ahmadinejad’s speech to UN General Assembly

Written by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

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Spotlight on Iran (Week of September 23-29, 2010)

Highlights of the week

Broad-based support for President Ahmadinejad’s speech to UN General Assembly

This week, Iranian media and top officials commended President Ahmadinejad for the speech given to the UN General Assembly last Thursday (September 23). In his address, the president claimed that the majority of the American people as well as other nations believe that it was the US government that orchestrated the September 11 attacks to reverse the declining American economy and its grip on the Middle East and also to save “the Zionist regime”. The president proposed that the UN set up an independent international fact finding commission to investigate the events of September 11. In addition, he called for a comprehensive reform of the UN, mainly the revocation of the veto power held by the five permanent Security Council members.

Ahmadinejad once again lashed out against Israel, calling to allow Palestinian refugees the right of return and asking for a referendum among the original people of Palestine to decide on the desired type of government there. Speaking on the subject of Iran’s nuclear program, the president reiterated his claim that Iran is strongly opposed to nuclear weapons but insists on its legitimate right to peaceful nuclear technology. He called on the UN to declare the year 2011 as the year of nuclear disarmament, with the motto “Nuclear Energy for all, Nuclear Weapons for None”.

In a sermon delivered at Tehran University last weekend, Tehran’s Friday prayer leader Hojjatoleslam Kazem Sediqi offered praise for the president’s speech, saying it was “the message of the Iranian people”. Sediqi noted that the message had been delivered to the international community in a clear, transparent manner, and that the president’s remarks were a “divine gift” for the Iranian nation (Fars, September 24).

The conservative daily Resalat also praised the president for his speech. An editorial published Saturday, September 25, said that during his visit to New York, the president was able to deliver to the whole world Iran’s message on the policy needed to handle world affairs and to influence international public opinion. Despite attempts by various US elements to undermine his visit, Ahmadinejad succeeded in spreading the message of Iran and the Islamic Revolution even on US media. Courageously and fearlessly, the president proved it is possible to counter the “soft campaign” waged by Iran’s enemies and to garner public support for its stance, using the enemy’s own media for that purpose.

The daily Keyhan said that the president’s visit to New York was an all-out success. According to the daily, Ahmadinejad’s revolutionary views attracted the attention of Western public opinion, as not only did the president criticize the philosophical foundation of Western civilization as well as liberal and capitalist thought, but also offered solutions to the dead end of Western thought. Despite the propaganda against him, Western media were lining up to interview the president. The daily claimed that the walkout of numerous delegations during the president’s speech should not be considered particularly important, and that most delegations remained in the room to listen attentively to what the president had to say. Even delegations that had left the room were closely watching the speech, proof of which was the fact that the Western delegation leaders commented on Ahmadinejad’s remarks minutes after the speech had ended. No objections were voiced in the UN over the president’s address, indicating that the international organization is undergoing profound upheaval. The UN cannot continue on its current course when there are over 170 member states that support Ahmadinejad’s proposals for reforms in the organization’s structure and modus operandi. The UN has changed for good, says Keyhan, and this may lead to a change in the entire world order (Keyhan, September 25).

Even the president’s political opponents had praise for his speech. Ahmad Tavakoli, chief of the Majles Research Center and one of Ahmadinejad’s major opponents in the conservative camp, praised the president’s speech and said that the views he expressed in his address to the UN General Assembly and in an interview he granted to American TV host Larry King showed political insight and national respect, and served Iran’s interests. He noted that the president’s remarks about the way how world affairs should be handled were reasonable and intelligent (Alef, September 24).

The reformist daily Mardom Salari also reported that the speech given by the president was good. The daily wondered, however, whether it was the right thing to do to speak to the UN General Assembly in a way that prompted many world leaders to walk out early during the speech in protest of the president’s remarks (about the September 11 attacks), missing his key message (Mardom Salari, September 25). The daily also criticized the president, who granted numerous interviews to foreign (including American) media during his visit to New York, for avoiding Iranian media, with the exception of government-controlled media (Mardom Salari, September 26).

Unusual criticism of Ahmadinejad’s speech was made by Prof. Sadegh Zibakalam, one of Iran’s major reformist intellectuals. In an interview to news website Khabar Online, Zibakalam said that the speech did not serve Iran’s interests because it had been met with overwhelming opposition from the leaders of the various countries who represent the world nations. Zibakalam noted that the speech could be divided into two parts. The first part was dedicated to criticizing capitalism and the unfair distribution of the world’s wealth, and offered nothing new compared to issues brought up in the past by Marxist philosophers and radical revolutionary leaders. The fundamental question is whether Ahmadinejad has a solution to the problem, the answer to which is no, since even the government of Iran is unable to guarantee a fair distribution of its country’s wealth, while Iranian economy is rife with corruption and injustice. The second part of the speech dealt with the September 11 events and completely ignored the indictment of the main suspects in the terrorist attacks and the obvious involvement of Al-Qaeda (Khabar Online, September 25).

Iranian press resumes attacks on Russia for dropping S-300 deal

Russia’s announcement last week that it does not intend to supply S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran and the decree signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, banning the sale of tanks, missile and cannon systems, fighter aircraft, military helicopters, and vessels to Iran, have triggered an outcry of criticism of Russia in Iranian press.

An editorial published by the conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami said that Russia’s policy towards Iran demonstrated once again that it could not be trusted. The Russian announcement, the editorial says, is yet another example of its conduct, reflected in delaying the completion of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, supporting Security Council resolutions for sanctions against Iran, and supporting Iraq in its war against Iran in the ‘80s.

Russia’s latest decision indicates that the Russians are coordinating their policy with the US in order to exert pressure on Iran and playing with Iran to gain more concessions from the US. Iranian law, morals, and interests have fallen victim to the shady deals struck between Russia and the US. According to the daily, Russia’s decision gives the Iranian people the right not to trust it anymore and demand that the government of Iran reconsider its relations with Russia (Jomhuri-ye Eslami, September 25).

Asr-e Iran, a website affiliated with the pragmatic conservative bloc, also strongly criticized Russia for its decision not to supply the anti-aircraft system to Iran. A commentary article published on the website says that the decision came as no surprise to those who have been following Russia’s behavior towards Iran throughout history, since Russia has repeatedly violated its obligations to Iran. It is now clear that the Russians are playing both sides of the fence, and the whole world understands that the former great power is not interested in world peace and security or welfare and safety for its citizens. Instead, it is interested in pursuing the interests of the defense officials and oil tycoons who rule it. History has proven that the Russians are even worse than the Americans and the Britons who, unlike Iran’s northern neighbor, have on several occasions acted for the good of the Iranian people (Asr-e Iran, September 23).

The Iranian English-language daily Tehran Times accused Russia of yielding to pressure exerted by the “Zionist regime”, claiming that the Russians are willing to sacrifice their long-term interests, which lie in continuing their cooperation with Iran, for short-term profits (Tehran Times, September 24).

Meanwhile, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, has issued a warning this week that if Russia goes back on the S-300 deal, Iran will take legal action against it. Speaking to journalists, Boroujerdi said Iran is hoping that Russia will act in accordance with its obligations to avoid risking its reputation in the Middle East and in the world, but if it does violate the agreement it made with Iran, it will have to pay damages (ISNA, September 26).

Iran on special alert as worm virus hits industry computer systems

Mehr News Agency reported this week that the Telecommunications and Industry ministries are on high alert for a worm virus discovered in control and monitoring systems of Iran’s industrial complexes. In recent days, Western media have reported that the worm, nicknamed “Stuxnet”, targets control and monitoring systems made by Siemens. The systems, called SCADA (short for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), are used to control industrial processes, including electricity, water, gas, and oil facilities. A Belarusian security company that discovered the worm on the servers of an Iranian company which uses Siemens’ SCADA system reported that about 60 percent of virus infection cases were on Iranian facilities.

According to Mehr News Agency, foreign experts believe that the worm was developed and distributed as part of a “cyber terrorism” campaign aimed against Iran’s vital infrastructures. Mahmoud Liaii, director of the Industry Ministry’s Information Technology Council, said in an interview to Mehr that so far there were about 30,000 affected IP addresses in Iran. He noted that a special antivirus program was set up on the control and monitoring systems targeted by the destructive worm, and advised companies that use SCADA systems against using the Siemens antivirus because it may also be used for spreading the worm.

The IT Council director also noted that the worm had been developed and spread by some government agency for purposes of espionage. According to Liaii, Iran established a headquarters with representatives from the Telecommunications and Industry ministries as well as other relevant bodies, including the Iranian Society of Cryptology, to combat the worm and its effects. He added that Iran has the expertise and capability to deal with the virus.

Sa’id Mehdiyoun, director of the IT Company, addressed the issue as well, saying that Maher Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center, which operates under the Telecommunications Ministry, formed a special team of professionals from all relevant organizations to combat the worm. Mehdiyoun noted that the center is supposed to provide information and an adequate response to the worm virus, and that a number of teams already operate on behalf of the center to remove the worm from the infected systems.

The homepage of the Maher Center website (http://82.99.218.78/index.php?&newlang=far)

In an interview granted to Mehr News Agency, Telecommunications Minister Reza Taqipour announced that his ministry’s teams are ready and capable of taking the necessary actions to remove the worm from the infected systems and computers. He also noted that no significant losses were reported so far as a result of the infection. According to Taqipour, the chance of the virus hitting government computer systems is small thanks to the defense systems installed on them. The bulk of the damage will likely be sustained by systems belonging to institutions and organizations that do not use the protection used by the government (Mehr, September 25).

Following Western media reports claiming that the worm was designed to hit, among other things, the Bushehr nuclear reactor, Asghar Zarean, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in charge of safety and security, said in an interview granted to IRNA that the worm had caused no damage to computers used by Iran’s nuclear program. He further added that the Atomic Energy Organization’s computers use special software based on in-house versions developed by the organization’s computer experts, and that they therefore had not been affected by the worm (IRNA, September 26).

Dollar gains on Iranian currency; economic sanctions cited as possible cause

While the US dollar continues to devaluate against many of the world’s currencies, in the past several days it has gained over 10 percent on the currency of Iran. On Sunday, the US currency was trading on the Tehran foreign exchange market at 1,092 tomans; it posted further gains the next day, selling for 1,110 tomans. The official exchange rate in the beginning of the week was 1,026 tomans to the dollar. Mehr News Agency reported that Iran’s Central Bank was looking into the possibility of intervening in the foreign exchange market to curb the rise of the US currency (Mehr, September 27).

According to the economic daily Donya-ye Eqtesad (Economy World), the dollar’s gains may have to do with the decrease in the amount of dollars flowing to Iran through the United Arab Emirates. The daily reported that the escalating international sanctions against Iran and increasing Western pressure on the UAE government and banks to avoid trading with Iran made it increasingly difficult for Iranian businessmen to conduct transactions with economic elements in the UAE (Donya-ye Eqtesad, September 26).

An Iranian blogger affiliated with the reformist opposition claimed this week that the strengthening of the dollar against the Iranian currency stemmed from a significant decrease in Iran’s foreign currency reserves, itself a result of the international sanctions. 

The blog even reported that during an emergency meeting organized last week by Iran’s Central Bank and attended by Economy Minister Shams al-Din Hosseini and Supreme Leader’s advisor Ali-Akbar Velayati, the Central Bank Governor claimed that Iran’s foreign currency reserves had reached a critical low. During the meeting, the report says, a decision was made to considerably reduce the government’s foreign currency expenditures in the next six months. According to the blog, it was that decision that resulted in a shortage of dollars on the Tehran foreign exchange market and led to an increase in the dollar’s value (www.greencorrespondents.com, September 26).  

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Pictures of the week: school year begins for Iranian students

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center opened in 2001. It is part of the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC) , an NGO dedicated to the memory of the fallen of the Israeli Intelligence Community and it is located near Gelilot , north of Tel Aviv. It is headed by (Col. Ret.) Dr. Reuven Erlich .

 

 

 

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