After visiting the lingering traces of America’s crimes in Hiroshima, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Sa’eed Jalili declared, “At the very least, the U.S. should be punished with disarmament and the revocation of its right to veto for its crimes here.”
According to several agencies, Jalili spoke at a press conference on the last day of his trip to Japan after visiting the site of the bombing and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, describing the message of Hiroshima as the obvious need for American disarmament.
Jalili said, “Because nuclear weapons lack legitimacy, no country or party should have such weapons at its disposal.”
In response to a question on his opinion after familiarizing himself with the pain, suffering and problems of the survivors of the U.S. atomic attack on Hiroshima, he said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is familiar with the crimes by the United States in various parts of the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan and even in Iran.”
Jalili explained, “Unfortunately America, which committed the crimes of Hiroshima, still continues the proliferation of nuclear weapons and experimenting with new generations of these types of weapons. Nowadays, however, the overwhelming message from the international community is for the disarmament of that country and its nuclear capabilities.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran intends to hold a conference in Tehran soon on disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In reference to this, Jalili said, “The Islamic Republic plans to hold this conference to honor of all the victims of weapons of mass destruction in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Halabja and Sardasht, which all took place with the support of the United States and as a result of the incorrect behaviors of that country.”
The senior nuclear negotiator for the Islamic Republic of Iran warned, “Tehran intends to seriously follow up on the issue of disarmament and non-proliferation with the cooperation of the international community.”
Jalili clarified, “Those who have committed the worst crimes against the people of Hiroshima and humanity by using nuclear weapons should not be the ones to win a prize and enjoy the right of veto.”
He expressed regret that these powers still are continuing the politics of proliferation, the experimentation with new generations of nuclear weapons and the escalation of these weapons, and that they are even working towards nuclear proliferation.
Jalili added, “Who but America and some of its allies has given the Zionist regime control over nuclear weapons?”
Jalili reiterated the point that according to the core beliefs of the Islamic Republic, a lasting peace cannot be achieved without fighting against injustice and disarming America and the other nuclear powers.
While expressing his hope for the creation of a world full of peace, justice and happiness for all peoples of the world, Jalili emphasized that the events of Hiroshima must not be allowed to repeat itself.
In response to the question about why there is concern in the international community regarding Iran’s expanding nuclear program, the senior nuclear negotiator for our country said, “Visiting the nuclear power plant in Japan showed that nuclear energy, if utilized in a peaceful way, can be useful in order to serve nations, but unfortunately the United States has used them in weapons of mass destruction and today is creating more of these weapons and proliferating them. It has given the Zionist regime nuclear weapons and today intends to prevent nations from attaining peaceful nuclear energy.”
He said, “On the other hand, all nations must enjoy peaceful nuclear energy within the established framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
On Hiroshima’s decision to hold a conference for countries that desire nuclear expansion, the representative of the Supreme Leader and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council said, “It is a very good idea for those who possess nuclear weapons to come here and see what crimes America has committed against humanity.”
Jalili expressed regret that sixty years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki disasters, still no American president has come to Hiroshima to offer an apology to the people of Japan and the city.
He added, “Even Barack Obama, the American president, who has used the slogan of change, refused to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki during his trip to Japan.”
Jalili left Japan for Tehran on Thursday evening and extended an official invitation to the Japanese government for a five-day formal visit in Iran.
During his stay in Japan, Jalili met with senior Japanese officials including Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Minister of Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada, the head of the Japanese Diet and other groups of Japanese authorities, with whom he discussed and exchanged views on different issues in the interests of both countries, including ways to develop both international and regional cooperation.
In a meeting with Japanese experts and nuclear specialists in the Ferdowsi Hall of the Islamic Republic’s embassy in Japan, Jalili considered the latest developments in Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and responded to a limited number of questions from those present in the meeting.
Press TV – December 30, 2009 – 16:46:30 GMT
The announcement comes despite the fact that Turkish army’s Special Forces Unit in the capital, Ankara, holds confidential documents. This is the first time that a military facility has been searched by a non-military prosecutor.
Authorities on Monday searched the army unit following the detention of eight officers suspected of patrolling an area near the house Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc as top military and government leaders held a security meeting.
The military has denied media speculation that two of the officers caught at the scene on December 19 were plotting to assassinate Arinc, the Associated Press reported.
Turkish military on Saturday reported that eight of its officers were arrested in connection with the alleged plot.
In a note posted on its website, the General Staff said that the officers from the military’s Mobilization Regional Directorate in Ankara were detained during a search of their offices by public prosecutors.
An investigation was launched last week after a guard at Arinc’s home noticed suspicious activity near the property.
According to a Today’s Zaman report, two members of the Special Forces Command, Maj. Ibrahim G. and Col. Erkan Yilmaz B., who were detained on suspicion of plotting to kill Bulent Arinc, had plans to kill numerous high-profile politicians and ministers.
Among the many targets were President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin. Most observers said the ‘planned assassinations’ were aiming to create an atmosphere of chaos in the country.
By Jerome Starkey In Kabul | The Times | December 30, 2009
Afghan investigators today accused US-led troops of dragging ten civilians from their beds and shooting them dead during a night raid.
Officials said that eight children and teenagers were among the dead and all but one of the victims were from the same family.
The reports led to angry protests in Kabul and Jalalabad, with children as young as 10 chanting “Death to America” and demanding foreign forces leave Afghanistan.
President Karzai sent a team of investigators to Narang district, in Kunar province, after reports emerged of a massacre. “The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane on Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and 10, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” a statement on President Karzai’s website said.
Asked if the people were shot outside their homes, the President’s spokesman Waheed Omar said: “That is our understanding.”
Local elders confirmed that ten people were killed, but their accounts of raid differed.
“Three of the children were killed in their bedroom,” said a local elder Jan Mohammed. “The other five had their hands bound, then they were killed.”
According to the presidential statement, local US forces were “unaware of the incident”.
Investigators spoke to the headmaster of the local school who confirmed that all the children – aged 11 to 17 – were his students.
A spokesman for the US-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) was not immediately available for comment on the allegations.
A senior Western military official said that US Special Forces had been conducting operations in the area, separately from Isaf.
Military officials insisted the dead were all part of a cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
“This was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time,” a senior Nato source said.
Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) — PetroChina Co. won the approval of the Canadian government for its C$1.9 billion ($1.8 billion) bid to buy a stake in two Alberta oil-sands projects, its biggest North American acquisition.
The purchase by China’s largest oil company of a 60 percent share in Athabasca Oil Sands Corp.’s MacKay River and Dover oil- sands projects “is likely to be of net benefit to Canada,” Industry Minister Tony Clement said in a statement yesterday.
Chinese oil companies have spent at least $13 billion on overseas assets since December last year as they take advantage of lower valuations caused by the economic slowdown. PetroChina has said it plans to boost acquisitions after paying at least $3.6 billion this year to buy Singapore Petroleum Corp., a stake in a Nippon Oil Corp. plant and a venture in Kazakhstan.
“Upstream crude oil assets that are for sale are hard to come by now, especially the big ones, so they can try to buy oil-sands projects,” Grace Liu, an analyst with Guotai Junan Securities Co., said by telephone from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. “It’s part of their strategy to expand overseas and diversify their portfolio.”
The transaction was initially scheduled to close on Oct. 31 after PetroChina agreed on Aug. 31 to acquire control of the oil-sands projects. Canada was still reviewing the investment, the National Post reported on Dec. 19, citing Clement.
“To successfully compete in a globalized economy, we need to attract international investment, which can create jobs, raise our level of competition, and develop Canada’s long-term economic prospects,” Clement said yesterday.
As part of the approval, PetroChina committed to invest at least C$250 million in the projects and boost employment over three years, keep a head office for the projects in Alberta for five years and ensure that a majority of the executives working on the projects are Canadian. As well, PetroChina said it will remain publicly traded as long as it controls the projects.
PetroChina will provide funding for future extractions of oil sands under the deal, Athabasca, a closely held company based in Calgary, said on Aug. 31. PetroChina may deploy methods it has used in northeastern China heavy-oil projects to unlock oil trapped in Alberta sands, Athabasca said.
“Development costs for oil sands are usually high, so it’s hard to tell now the value of the projects,” Liu said.
Liu Weijiang, a Beijing-based spokesman for PetroChina’s parent, China National Petroleum Corp., couldn’t be immediately reached on his office and mobile phones for comment today.
China National Petroleum said on Oct. 19 that PetroChina will focus on expanding exploration and boosting overseas cooperation next year as China’s energy demand rises.
The company said on Sept. 9 that it will receive a $30 billion loan from state-run China Development Bank to fund overseas expansion as China steps up its hunt for oil and gas resources.
Oil consumption in China, the world’s second-biggest energy user, doubled in the last decade to 8 million barrels a day in 2008, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review.
To contact the reporter on this story: Baizhen Chua in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jeremy Salt | December 30, 2009
Is Turkey’s relationship with Israel going through a rocky patch or has it passed the point of no return?
A week in politics is a long time, and all the rest of it, but it does seem that Turkish foreign policy has undergone a sea change since the election of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002. Continuing difficulties in relationships with that amorphous package known as ‘the west’ is one reason. Excitement at the prospect of joining the EU has given way to cynicism. Angela Merkel is against accession, so is Sarkozy and so is the Pope (although he says different things at different times to different audiences). Criticism and often insults continue in the European Parliament and in European governments, no matter what Turkey does to try to meet European human rights standards. So it is probably fair to say that many if not most Turks are pretty fed up with the EU and as they have gained confidence in themselves and their country, many of them have concluded that, actually, we can do quite well without the EU.
As for the United States, since 1945 it had no more reliable friend in the Middle East region. For half a century Turkey gave all the US wanted, from military and electronic surveillance bases to troops for Korea and membership of NATO. The scales began to fall from Turkish eyes in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson sent a note warning Turkey not to even think of intervening at a time of high tension between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus. Israel aligned itself with the US and refused to support the Turkish position. During the 1967 war Turkey responded to the actions of both countries by refusing to allow US aircraft flying arms supplies to Israel to use Turkish air space or bases. From the 1960s it adjusted its position in the western ‘camp’ to develop a more purposeful relationship with the Soviet Union.
Its stance in the Cold War changed. Still, up to the advent of the AKP government the two countries had forged what many (incorrectly) regarded as an ‘alliance’. The same word was used to describe the developing relationship with Israel. In 1998 Daniel Pipes described the relationship between the two countries as the ‘birth of a new Middle East alliance’. This it never was but certainly the links between the two countries, especially between the military high commands and the intelligence services, were close.
The two decades between the military coup of 1980 and the electoral success of the AKP in 2002 marked the high point of the relationship between Turkey and Israel. Constitutional life in Turkey was not resumed until 1983, with some banned politicians prevented from returning to the political arena for several years after that. The continuing strength of the military in politics ensured the stability of the ‘defence’ relationship with Israel. From the late 1980s to the late 1990s all the centre-right governments in power endorsed the relationship with Israel. Between 1994 and 1997 the two countries signed 19 agreements, mostly dealing with ‘defence’ matters. Twelve of them were initialled during the Prime Ministership of the Islamist Necmettin Erbakan, who was finally squeezed out of power in 1997 at the tail end of a ‘soft’ or ‘post modern’ coup by the military. It is certain that Erbakan, a strong Islamist and critic of Israel, would never have willingly gone along with these agreements. They were more or less imposed on him. Furthermore, they were signed by the chief of staff and not the Defence Minister and never ratified by parliament, because of a confidentiality clause signed by previous Prime Minister Tansu Çiller in 1994, which prevented parliamentarians from knowing the detail of what was in them. In the view of critics within the AKP party, the agreements are therefore unconstitutional.
Between 1997 and 2002 the relationship with Israel moved ahead in strength. In 2002 the two countries signed a $1 billion agreement under which Israel would modernise Turkey’s M-60 A1 tanks by 2003. This was subsequently pushed back to 2007 but the work has still not been completed. As the cost of refurbishing a single tank has been put at $4.5 million, it has been pointed out that Turkey could have bought Leopard tanks from Germany for $1 million apiece. It has also been pointed out that Turkey’s own ASELSAN company modernised 162 Leopard tanks for a total cost of $160 million.
These military contracts have been caught up in the sea change which seems to have taken place in Turkish foreign policy. Partly this is the consequence of factors already mentioned, i.e. the foot-dragging of the EU on accession; the continuing criticism of Turkey at the highest levels of European government; the open opposition of the heads of governments whose support Turkey must have before entering the EU; and the chicanery over Cyprus, where the Greek south was given a guarantee that it would be admitted to the EU whatever the outcome of a referendum on the unification of the island. Of course the Greeks voted ‘no’ (75 per cent against) and were admitted while the Turks in the north voted ‘yes’ (65 per cent for) and were kept out.
In the context of the relationship with the US, in 2003 the Turkish parliament voted against allowing Turkish territory, ports and military bases to be used for the opening of a second front in Iraq. Colin Powell was visibly irritated. Signals were sent out that unless Turkey cooperated with the US against Iraq the Kurdish question would be activated. Indeed, the US and Britain had already created a difficult situation for Turkey by creating a ‘safe haven’ for the Iraqi Kurds without taking responsibility for policing it. In the 1990s the Turkish military had adopted a policy of the hot pursuit of PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) fighters returning to bases in northern Iraq after launching attacks inside Turkey. The US showed no signs of taking Turkish interests into consideration when creating a regional government of Kurdistan and did nothing to stop the PKK until Turkey threatened to resume the policy of hot pursuit. Up till this point both the US government and the Kurdish regional government had said there was nothing they could do. The situation remains fluid to this day with both the PKK and PEJAK, its Iranian counterpart (openly supported by the US) operating from bases in the Kandil mountains. In the meantime, Turkey has acknowledged the reality and is dealing with the regional Kurdish government.
Turkey is not the country that it was two decades ago. This is not just because of the cultural revolution which has changed the way Turks see themselves, or the way they see the outside world and their place in it but because of demographics. The Islamists rose to power (first as Necmettin Erbakan’s National Salvation Party in the 1970s and then as the Refah Party in the 1980s) on the shoulders of the people of eastern Anatolia. Implicitly part of a broader ‘east’ (Ottoman, Arab and Muslim world) on which the Turkish republic turned its back in 1923, their interests and needs were largely neglected by the parties which governed Turkey until the advent of the Refah Party. It was they who were in most need of the social services the state was not delivering. Their culture was more conservative, more mosque-centred than Turks of the west and they were moving westward in large numbers – hence the shock delivered to the mainstream parties when the Refah party did well at municipal elections even in western Turkey in 1994, following this with victory at the national level. The banning of Refah and the arrest of its leading figures (including Erdogan) was an attempt to stop a tide which could not be stopped by constitutional means (an attempt was made but failed).
Since its first election the AK party has consolidated its hold as the governing party. It has brought substantial change to the country’s foreign policy profile. The close relationship with the US and the close relationship and the close if difficult relationship with the EU both continue, but Turkey is also striking out on its own. More confident of its place in the world, it seems no longer willing to play the western game in the Middle East. It has normalised its relationship with Syria to the point where it is now planning joint military exercises with Syria. As for Iran Turkey is not buying into the campaign of sanctions and exclusion orchestrated by the US for the benefit of Israel, Erdogan remarking recently that Iran was Turkey’s ‘friend’. On the question of Palestine Erdogan has spoken out forcefully and consistently. He says he has the people behind him and there is no doubt that he is right.
Turks have been disgusted by Israeli and western violence in the Middle East since the attack on Iraq in 1991 and the massive civilian toll caused by war and sanctions which followed. They were outraged by Israel’s attack on Lebanon in 2006, especially by the killing of hundreds of children, so it was no surprise that their anger boiled over again during the Israeli onslaught on Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009.
Below the citadel in old Ankara the taxi drivers plastered the front pages of Turkish newspapers showing photographs of children killed by the Israelis on the rear windows of their cars. Shop owners put posters in their windows – ‘we are all Palestinians’ – and textile manufacturers turned out scarves with Palestinian and Hamas motifs. In the tourist cities of the south shop owners said Israelis would not be welcome. Travelers talking to taxi drivers or waiters will find no support for Israel but only condemnation. Its murderous attacks on civilians in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank have stimulated interest in all aspects of the Palestine question as never before.
Erdogan was further personally angered by the fact that the attack on Gaza was launched without warning while he was trying to broker quiet negotiations between Israel and Syria. The Turkish Prime Minister has been willingly to speak out where most other world leaders hold their tongues. In Sharon’s time he described Israel as a terrorist state. He has called it a ‘persecutor’ and described its crimes as being worse than those committed by the government of Sudan in Darfur. At the Davos economic summit in January 2009, he walked out of a televised debate after being cut off while trying to respond to Shimon Peres’ justification of Israel’s actions in Gaza. ‘When it comes to killing you know well how to kill’ he remarked. Amr Moussa, the Arab League Secretary-General, also taking part in the debate, had said nothing as Peres attempted to pin all blame for Israel’s atrocities on Hamas. The contrast was very striking.
Speaking before the UN General Assembly in September 2009, Erdogan was the only head of government to refer to Gaza, remarking afterwards in discussion with reporters that war criminals should be held accountable for their crimes. His government shares his views. Ahmet Davutoglu, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, refused to visit Israel on being told that he would not be allowed to go to Gaza.
In October the Anatolian Eagle joint military exercise (Turkey, the US, Italy and Israel) was cancelled after Turkey refused to take part alongside Israel. The reason was Israel’s attack on and continuing blockade of Gaza, with Turkey making it plain that relations with Israel could not improve until it changed its attitude. Turkey recently cancelled one military contract with Israel and has sent out signals that it is ready to cancel others unless Israel complies with the terms of agreements signed long ago. Non-fulfilment by Israel and warnings by Turkey are clearly political in nature but Erdogan is showing no signs of backing off. In early December Barack Obama reportedly ‘rebuked’ him for his ‘anti-Israel’ rhetoric on the grounds that it damaged Turkey’s profile.
This might be true of Washington but it is not true across the Middle East and around most of the world. Turkey’s strong stand against Israel’s disgraceful behavior have won it kudos across the Arab world. Erdogan has made it plain that Turkey is not interested in joining the campaign against Iran. He told an Egyptian reporter there would be an ‘earthquake’ if Israel violated Turkish air space to spy on Iran. This would seem to preclude any possibility of Turkey allowing itself to be used for a military attack, and again there is no doubt at all that the great majority of the Turkish people support the Prime Minister’s views.
Turkey has now turned into a conundrum for Israel and the US. They are critical of its apparent change but their reaction indicates that they are unsure of how to react. Barak Obama’s criticism and Avigdor Lieberman’s crude and contemptuous rejection of Turkey as a possible broker in talks with Syria can be taken with a grain of salt. Too much is involved for either the US or Israel to take actions they might later regret. Temporarily or permanently Israel may /have lost a strategic ally in the Middle East but it needs Turkish water and the oil being pumped into Turkey’s southeastern ‘energy hub’. The Medstream pipeline project – currently the subject of feasibility studies – would bring water, oil, natural gas and fibre optics to Israel from Turkey’s southeastern Mediterranean coast. In other words, while Israel has cards in its hand that it can play, it has a lot to lose by offending Turkey.
For the Palestinians, Turkey, its people and its outspoken Prime Minister have emerged as strong champions of their cause on the world stage at a time when the rest of the ‘international community’ seems to be shutting its eyes.
– Jeremy Salt is associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Previously, he taught at Bosporus University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne in the Departments of Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science. Professor Salt has written many articles on Middle East issues, particularly Palestine, and was a journalist for The Age newspaper when he lived in Melbourne. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers assaulted four Palestinian workers on Tuesday night in the West Bank village of Al-Walajah, near Bethlehem, witnesses told Ma’an.
Residents of the village described how the soldiers broke the legs of three men, and arrested a fourth, taking him to an unknown detention center. Three of the men were dragged to a field in Al-Walajah, the witnesses added.
The reason for the reported assault was unclear.
Residents of Al-Walajah said three of the men were taken to the hospital in the neighboring town of Beit Jala.
One of the men was identified as Anees Kabha, a resident of the northern West Bank.
A military spokesman said he was not aware of any reported incident, and that the area was under the jurisdiction of the border police.
30/12/2009 – 14:15
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The organizers of the Gaza Freedom March rejected an Egyptian offer on Wednesday to allow 100 out of 1,300 supporters into the Gaza Strip.
“We flatly reject Egypt’s offer of a token gesture. We refuse to whitewash the siege of Gaza,” said Ziyaad Lunat a member of the march’s Coordinating Committee in a statement.
“Our group will continue working to get all 1,362 marchers into Gaza as one step towards the ultimate goal for the complete end of the siege and the liberation of Palestine,” he added.
The Freedom March will walk the 41 kilometers from the southern end of Gaza at the Rafah crossing to the northern end at Israel’s Erez crossing; the march was scheduled to take place on Thursday.
Some organizers reportedly welcomed the Egyptian offer.
“It’s a partial victory,” said Medea Benjamin, American activist one of the March’s organizers, as quoted by AFP. “It shows that mass pressure has an effect.”
According to AFP, the Egyptian government offered to allow the organizers to choose who would enter Gaza. The group of 100 was due to travel to the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday morning.
Others denounced the move as divisive and vowed to continue protests.
On Monday, organizers said around 40 American demonstrators were detained by Egyptian forces at the US Embassy in Cairo where they went to seek assistance in their bid to enter Gaza.
The group staged other protests outside the French Embassy and the local UN headquarters. Some members of the group have been on a hunger strike.
The march was organized to call attention to the Israeli-led blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has prevented reconstruction of the territory from last winter’s military offensive which left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.
Press TV – December 30, 2009 01:46:05 GMT
The Japanese ambassador to Iran has said Tokyo is ready to cooperate with Iran in the field of nuclear energy.
During a meeting with MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi in Tehran on Tuesday, Ambassador Akio Shirota also called for the expansion of ties between Iran and Japan in various spheres, the Fars news agency reported.
Boroujerdi, who is the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that the Iranian nation has no negative sentiments about Japan and this could help efforts to expand ties between the two countries.
“Iran and Japan have many opportunities for strengthening their friendly ties, and these opportunities should help them attain their common goals,” Boroujerdi added.