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|U.S. Defense Chief Says No Clear Evidence Ties Iran To Bomb(April 21,1997)|
Dow Jones Business News |
April 21, 1997
By Laurie Lande
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said Monday there is no clear evidence linking Iran or any other country to last year's bombing of a U.S. military housing complex in Saudi Arabia. 'The evidence concerning the Khobar Towers bombing thus far is fragmentary, incomplete and very circumstantial,' Cohen told reporters at a briefing. 'We do not have any concrete evidence of any country being directly linked to the bombing.'
His comments represent the first time a high-ranking U.S. official has publicly said that there isn't enough evidence yet to tie the Khobar Towers explosion, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen, to Iran. State Department officials told the Senate last week the U.S. will respond appropriately against any country found to be involved in the bombing, but they declined to elaborate on what the response might be.
The Washington Post has quoted U.S. and Saudi officials this month as saying a senior Iranian intelligence officer, Brigadier General Ahmad Sherifi, met two years before the bombing with Hani Abdul Rahim Sayegh, a Saudi Shiite arrested in Canada last month and later accused of participating in the bombing. 'The FBI has not completed its investigation. More evidence is to be gathered, and it would be premature and speculative to try and lay the responsibility at the feet of any country or any particular group,' Cohen said.
Kansas Senator New Proponent Of U.S. Iran Sanctions
By LAURIE LANDE
AP-Dow Jones News Service
WASHINGTON -- A new Kansas senator is emerging as the U.S. Senate's latest proponent of tough sanctions on Iran. Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee for Near East affairs, has joined the ranks of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse D'Amato in declaring it a policy priority to isolate Iran.
D'Amato is the author of a U.S. law that punishes foreign energy companies for investing in Iran, and he is widely credited with pushing President Clinton to bar U.S. trade with Iran in 1995. 'We're going to look at a number of legislative options (designed to further isolate Iran,)' Brownback told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview. Because of his position as subcommittee chairman, he holds considerable power to push legislation through the full committee and to the Senate floor for a vote. At a hearing he chaired last week, Brownback made it clear that he is particularly concerned that the administration isn't doing enough to stem Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.
'President Clinton has called the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction an extraordinary danger, but the administration hasn't invoked sanctions against China and Russia, the two main proliferators to Iran. What are we waiting for?' he asked two State Department witnesses. He noted that China has sold chemical precursors, sophisticated missile-guidance equipment and advanced C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran. He also complained that Russia has sold intermediate-range missile technology to Iran and reactors that will assist Tehran's nuclear arms program. 'I'm very dissappointed in this,' he said.
U.S. Envoy Visits Europe To Coordinate Iran Policies.
AP-Dow Jones News Service
WASHINGTON -- Peter Tarnoff, a special adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, is consulting with U.S. European allies about coordinating policies toward Iran, the State Department said Monday. Albright asked Tarnoff to lead a special delegation that will seek to influence those European countries to bring their Iran policies closer to the U.S. policy - economic isolation of Tehran.
Last week, Tarnoff resigned as undersecretary for political affairs. Tarnoff met Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo, who represents the current E.U. presidency, to discuss Iran policy, department spokesman Nicholas Burns told reporters. Tarnoff will proceed to Bonn for meetings with the German government and will travel to Paris and London before returning to Washington Wednesday evening. 'The delegation led by Peter Tarnoff will explore with our allies practical steps that the international community can take to change Iran's objectionable behavior, including its support for terrorism, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and its opposition to the Middle East peace process,' Burns said.
'The United States, through all of our ambassadors overseas, has been in close touch with our European allies since last week about this issue of how do we respond to Iran,' he said. The visiting U.S. delegation comes on the heels of a German court decision that implicated the government of Iran for the murder of four Iranian dissidents in Berlin in 1992. Most E.U. countries withdrew their ambassadors in light of the court decision, and the E.U. is scheduled to meet April 29 to review its Iran policy.
|Iranian Group Threatens Bombings (April 18,1997)|
Iranian Group Threatens Bombings Unless
Germans Apologize for Court Ruling|
By William Drozdiak
April 19 1997
The Washington Post
BERLIN, April 18 -- The leader of an extremist Shiite fundamentalist group in Iran threatened Germany today with suicide bombings if it did not apologize for a court ruling that blamed Iran's leadership for ordering the assassination of Kurdish dissidents here in 1992. It was the first explicit warning of violent retribution against Germany following last week's verdict by a Berlin court, which convicted an Iranian grocer and three Lebanese accomplices of gunning down the Kurds at a local restaurant. The court said the gunmen were acting on instructions from Iran's highest authorities.
Germany has stepped up its anti-terror vigilance at international airports and around government buildings in the past few days, officials said. Italy also has moved to a high alert after its intelligence agency warned of possible attacks by Islamic extremists.
"We will confront insults to Islam and our religious leadership wherever in the world they occur. We are even ready to strap a bomb around our waists and go for martyrdom," Hossein Allah-Karam, head of the Ansar'e Hezbollah group, told a crowd of demonstrators who gathered outside the German Embassy in Tehran, the Associated Press reported. "Woe to you if you do not apologize for your actions." As he spoke, dozens of people signed up on the spot to become suicide bombers, according to the AP report from Tehran. Allah-Karam said hundreds of others had already volunteered for suicide attacks against Germany. "Right now our government won't allow such actions, but we are negotiating with it. Once our deadline passes, then Germany will be confronted with the explosion of the Hezbollah," Allah-Karam told the crowd, without specifying when the deadline would expire.
Hundreds of police in riot gear were arrayed in four human walls to shield the embassy, as protesters shouted for "Revenge, Revenge!" against Germany. Disabled war veterans also joined the demonstration after the government said it would press charges against 24 German firms accused of supplying Iraq with chemical weapons used against Iranian soldiers during the 1980-88 war.
Germany has said it did not authorize the export of goods that could be used directly for production of chemical weapons. Allah-Karam's group is not believed to be linked with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group in Lebanon that carried out kidnappings of Westerners there. It is mainly a pressure group representing poor people who seek to prevent Iran's ruling Shiite clergy from straying from the hard-line values of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Shah. Until now, the Iranian government has expressed outrage but reacted with caution to the German court ruling. Germany is Iran's leading trading partner and has long acted as a special intermediary during times of tension with other Western countries. After withdrawing their ambassadors in tit-for-tat protests, both Iran and Germany declared they did not wish to see the dispute escalate to the point of open hostility.
But with Iran heading into the final stage of campaigning for its presidential election next month, radical groups that want to purge moderate voices from government have exploited the anti-Western fervor in the wake of the German verdict. After keeping a low profile immediately after the verdict, leading Iranian politicians reacted angrily when the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament, approved a resolution this week condemning Iran for "a flagrant breach of international law" in ordering the Kurdish killings.
And tensions between Bonn and Tehran could worsen if German prosecutors decide to prolong their investigations into the role played by Iranian leaders in orchestrating the work of Iranian hit squads in Europe. Ali Khamenei, Iran's paramount religious leader who, along with President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was accused of signing the orders to assassinate the Kurds, warned then that Germany "will soon have to pay a very high price" for the court's decision. But he did not spell out what kind of vengeance he envisioned.
|Tehran orders 'stings' to entrap Westerners (4/17/97)|
PUBLICATION DATE: 17 April 1997|
BY: Michael Evans, Defence Correspondent
INTELLIGENCE officers and cultural attaches in Iranian embassies have been instructed to step up their efforts to identify suitable targets for "sting" espionage operations against foreign businessmen and delegations visiting Tehran, according to Western diplomatic sources. Intelligence services in the West are aware of the heightened risks of foreign visitors to Iran becoming involved in "entrapment" attempts after last week's jailing by a German court of four members of an Iranian-led hit squad that murdered four Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant in 1992.
The aim of sting operations is to single out targets who can be incriminated for espionage activities during their stay in Iran and placed under arrest, and then used as leverage by Tehran in its dealings with the West. Tehran was suspected of an entrapment operation after the arrest of Faraj Sarkuhi, an Iranian dissident and writer, on charges of espionage. His family lives in Germany, and Iran was accused of exploiting his arrest to put pressure on Bonn to dissociate itself from the allegation that Iran had authorised the killing of the four Kurdish dissidents.
The German Foreign Ministry said in February that a link between the arrest of Mr Sarkuhi and the trial in Germany could not be ruled out. After last week's verdict, Germany and other European governments, with the exception of Greece, recalled their senior envoys from Tehran. One diplomatic source said: "Now that the Tehran regime has lost this important bargaining card, it has directed its diplomats to expedite their search for new means of pressure on Western governments." Security sources in London said there was no indication that British businessmen were being specifically earmarked for entrapment by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. However, there was no doubt, they said, that Iranian intelligence would use this method when possible.
A Foreign Office official said Britons visiting Iran were being advised to take every precaution, although they were not given warnings about entrapment unless they sought such advice. In recent years there have been a number of cases where Tehran was suspected of producing "trumped-up" charges against foreigners. Roger Cooper, a British businessman, was released in 1991 after serving five years in an Iranian jail on a charge of industrial espionage. He was freed in a "goodwill gesture". London denied there had been a deal under which an Iranian student, Mehrdad Kokabi, accused of setting fire to a bookshop selling Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses , would be freed.
In 1994 Helmut Schimkus, a German engineer, was arrested in Iran and sentenced to death on espionage charges. There were reportedly secret negotiations between Iran and Germany during which his release was offered in exchange for the dropping of charges against the Iranian agents accused of murdering the Kurds in Berlin.The death sentence on the German engineer was eventually annulled and he was released.
|Two Germany Banks Searched For Illegal Ties To Iran (4/17/97)|
Dow Jones Business News|
April 18, 1997
DUESSELDORF (AP)--A bank in Duesseldorf and one in the northern port city of Hamburg were searched for suspected illegal ties to Iran, a newspaper reported Friday. The investigation was in connection with the Duesseldorf-based Defense Industries Organization (DIO), a company that is suspected of illegal arms deals with Iran, the Cologne/Bonn Rundschau newspaper reported. In a report to appear in its Saturday editions, the paper said the money for the alleged deals was believed to have been handled by the two banks.
The paper quoted Duesseldorf prosecutor Peter Lichtenberg as confirming that the searches took place on Thursday.
No one answered the phones at the prosecutor's offices or the banks late Friday. Prosecutors ordered a search of DIO late last year and said they had confiscated files and other material.
|Iran Invites Bids For Khuzestan Power Plant Expansion (4/17/97)|
Dow Jones Business News|
April 18, 1997
LONDON -- The Iranian energy ministry Friday invited foreign companies to submit bids for expansion of a 1,000 megawatt hydroelectric power plant at Masjed-e-Soleiman in the oil-rich southern Iranian province of Khuzestan.
In advertisements placed in several Western newspapers, including the Financial Times of London, the energy ministry and Iran Water & Power Resources Development Co. said the tender would involve construction work on the four 250 megawatt units that make up the facility. The deadline for expressions of interest is May 5, 1997, according to the offer statement.
-By Keyvan Hedvat +44-171-832-9664
|Ex-CIA Chief: U.S. Should Hit Iran If Tied To Saudi Bombing (4/17/97)|
April 17, 1997,
By LAURIE LANDE|
WASHINGTON -- A former Central Intelligence Agency director who served during President Clinton's first term told a Senate panel Thursday that the U.S. should cripple Iran's economy - if it finds proof linking Tehran to last year's fatal bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia.
R. James Woolsey, who left the CIA two years ago, suggested that the U.S. should consider 'decisive military action' in retaliation, if Washington determines that the government of Iran sponsored or helped carry out the attack on al-Khobar Towers. The June 1996 attack killed 19 U.S. servicemen. 'We should do something that would seriously hurt the Iranian economy,' he told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee On Near East Affairs, adding that there are several non-military options that could accomplish such a goal.
'The idea of mining the Iranian ports and harbors strikes me as a very interesting and potentially appropriate response to the murder of a number of American servicemen,' he said. Mining the ports would completely disrupt Iran's oil exports and general commerce, he noted. A naval blockade of Iran's harbors is another idea, Woolsey said. 'But that requires constant maintenance and constant patrol' and 'confrontations with ships of other countries. It might be worth it,' he said, although he noted that the mining option would be easier.
Woolsey also suggested that the U.S. consider introducing United Nations Security Council measures that could hurt Iran's economy. 'Security Council action to, for example, ban flights to and from Iran, cut its diplomatic representation abroad, or ban exports to it of petroleum-based technology should be considered,' he said. 'But realistically, the almost-certain opposition of Russia and China in the Security Council would probably doom such efforts - not to speak of the even more ambitious but potentially more effective notion of a comprehensive embargo on Iranian oil exports,' Woolsey added.
But another witness warned the Senate panel that Iran almost certainly would strike back. 'There are so many weapons in Iran and in neighboring countries that you could expect a response,' said Leonard Spector, director of nuclear non-proliferation projects at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A State Department official, David Welch, refused to comment on what the U.S. might do if it finds Iran was behind the al-Khobar Towers attack, noting 'the investigation is ongoing.' Welch is acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.
|U.S. Sen. D'Amato Against Waiving Iran Sanctions For Turkey (4/17/97)|
Dow Jones Business News,
April 17, 1997|
WASHINGTON -- Senate Banking Chairman Senator Alfonse D'Amato said Thursday that he would oppose any national security waiver of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, or ILSA, for Turkey, in case the U.S. determines that the NATO ally violated ILSA in signing a $22 billion contract to purchase natural gas from Iran. The New York Republican authored the sanctions law. The State Department said last week that it doesn't have enough information yet to determine if the contract violates the sanctions law. If it finds the contract does violate the law, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright could recommend sanctions or she could suggest a national security waiver of sanctions.
'Right now I would be opposed to granting that waiver,' D'Amato said in response to a question from reporters. 'It would send the wrong signal and lead people to believe we are not committed to a policy of containing those countries that are engaged in the exporting of terrorism,' he said.
D'Amato also said he doesn't want the European Union to receive any 'blanket waivers' as a result of an agreement worked out last week whereby the U.S. will work with the E.U. towards meeting the terms spelled out in ILSA for receiving a waiver of the law. The E.U. and the U.S. agreed to work towards this goal during both parties' talks on resolving an unrelated dispute over the anti-Cuba Helms Burton law. 'Any suggestion that the European Union should be granted a blanket waiver without following the stipulations of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act is a mistake,'' D'Amato told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East Affairs.
'It should be clear that the terms in the ILSA law for granting a waiver with regard to Iran are very simple,' D'Amato said, quoting from Section 4.C of the law. 'If the country where the company to be sanctioned is situated imposes substantial measures, including the imposition of economic santions, than a waiver can be granted,' he said. The senator told the subcommittee that his bill is working because there is 'little or no new foreign investment' in Iran.
-By Laurie Lande
|Iran Extremist Threatens Suicide Bombings Against Germany (4/17/97)|
Dow Jones Business News,
April 18, 1997
TEHRAN -- The leader of a hardline pressure group warned Friday he would
unleash a string of suicide bombings against Germany if it did not
apologize for a German court's ruling that blamed Iran's top leaders for
1992 political assassinations in Berlin.
'We will confront insults to Islam and our religious leadership wherever
in the world they occur. We are even ready to strap a bomb around our
waists and go for martyrdom,' said Hossein Allah-Karam, head of the
extremist Ansar'e Hezbollah group.
Ansar'e Hezbollah is not believed to have the power or means to carry out
such threats. Nevertheless, while Allah-Karam was addressing a
demonstration outside the German Embassy, several people signed up on the
spot to become suicide bombers.
Allah-Karam claimed that hundreds of others had already volunteered for
suicide attacks against Germany.
'Right now our government won't allow such actions, but we are
negotiating with it. Once our deadline passes, then Germany will be
confronted with the explosion of the Hezbollah,' said Allah Karam. He did
not say when that deadline would expire.|
Allah-Karam's group is not associated with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group in Lebanon. Tehran and the European Union have been locked in a diplomatic row ever since the court ruled that Iran's top leaders had ordered the 1992 assassinations of Kurdish-Iranian dissidents in Berlin. All 15 E.U. nations have recalled their ambassadors from Tehran, as have Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Finland. It is Iran's worst diplomatic crisis since 1989, when Tehran called on Muslims to kill British writer Salman Rushdie for allegedly insulting Islam in his novel, 'The Satanic Verses.'
|Germany Parliament Accuses Iran Of Violating Intl Law (4/17/97)|
Dow Jones Business News
April 17, 1997|
BONN (AP)--Germany's parliament passed a resolution Thursday blaming the Iranian government for a 'flagrant violation of international law' in the 1992 assassination of four Kurds in Berlin. Relations between Western Europe and Iran have soured since a Berlin court ruled last week that Iranian leaders had ordered the killing of the Iranian Kurds at a Berlin restaurant.The Iranian government must 'observe the rules of international law,' swear off 'carrying out ... or supporting terrorist activities,' respect human rights and 'refrain from hunting down opponents living abroad,' said the resolution of the Bundestag, parliament's lower house. It denounced 'official Iranian involvement' in the attack 'as a flagrant violation of international law.' Ruprecht Polenz, a parliamentarian with Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats, suggested that governments of the European Union consider 'sending home' Iranian intelligence officials posted to Iranian embassies in E.U. nations. Polenz said the E.U.'s 'critical dialogue' policy toward Iran, which was suspended in the wake of the Berlin court ruling, should remain suspended until Tehran shows it intends to turn over a new leaf. The Bundestag resolution, which was drafted by Kohl's coalition, expressed 'concern over demonstrations that have taken place outside the German Embassy in Iran' and called on Tehran to 'guarantee the safety of Germans' living there. The resolution was passed on the strength of Kohl's majority. Opposition parties voted against it because they had wanted it to include specific punitive measures, such as reducing relations with Tehran to a minimum. Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told the Bundestag, 'We do not want to totally cut off the lines of communication with Iran.' The resolution said Germany and its E.U. partners must 'draw up a new concept' for relations with Iran, while at the same time 'continuing level-headed behavior.'
|Iran: Murder By Proxy(4/17/97)|
Proteus as president: That is the story thus far of William Jefferson Clinton in the White House. Like the minor Greek god of change, the president has resisted efforts to cast him and his presidency in a specific, unmalleable form that cannot be redefined when need be.|
That may soon change. The continuing search for a clear definition of Clinton as leader is moving toward resolution because of a struggle over emerging indications that the Islamic Republic of Iran was behind the bombing deaths of 19 U.S. airmen last June in Saudi Arabia.
Those indications pose a sharp dilemma for the president: What does Clinton do if clear evidence surfaces that Iranian officials -- in a wanton act of murder by proxy -- helped Saudi extremists carry out the deadly bombing attack on the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Dhahran?
Recent published accounts put Saudi suspects in touch with Iranian officials shortly before the bombing. These disclosures follow a flurry of unpublicized visits by senior foreign officials to Washington to gather information on a U.S. military retaliation they sense is coming and its consequences for their nations. And in Germany earlier this month, a trial judge unveiled the Iranian government's role in the murder of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin.
Figuring out how far Clinton will go on Iran is suddenly the number-one global diplomatic guessing game.
Clinton himself cannot know at this point. But the looming conflict over how the evidence will be presented to and assessed by the president is a struggle over conflicting values and concepts of justice rather than over the techniques of policymaking and diplomacy.
The professional mandate of diplomacy is to postpone conflict as long as possible or minimize it to encourage a quick return to the prevailing situation. Diplomats are paid to pursue general principles.
But the case of responding to Iran's depredations is rapidly slipping out of the hands of the diplomats into the grasp of law enforcement officials, who are paid to pursue and punish specific criminals. Usually they want action against malefactors by yesterday if not sooner.
Clinton and the military leadership that would have to carry out any punishment he decrees hold the balance between these contending schools. Clinton's first-term record on the use of force abroad in pursuit of justice must be a cause of concern for those who believe Iran should receive decisive punishment.
Under the policy label of "dual containment" Clinton has achieved an uneasy tactical stalemate with Iran and Iraq. But Iraq is making progress in its campaign to erode economic and travel sanctions, and military strikes against Iran would cause the status quo to unravel there as well.
Clinton authorized a cruise missile strike against Iraq in 1994 to retaliate for an unsuccessful plot against George Bush. But he carefully tailored it to minimize enemy casualties as well as avoiding risk to Americans.
The unmanned missiles hit Iraq's intelligence headquarters late at night, killing janitors rather than the officials who plotted against Bush. Subsequent military responses to Iraqi misdeeds and a pathetic failed covert attempt by the CIA to overthrow Saddam Hussein were similarly hedged.
This raises fears among Saudi officials and others that Clinton may launch "pinprick raids" against Iran as retaliation. These would infuriate the Iranians and tempt them to lash out locally, without bringing about a change of behavior or regime in Tehran.
These fears help explain the Saudi ambivalence in cooperating with the FBI investigation into the Dhahran bombing. The Saudis do not want to wind up bearing most of the costs of limited U.S. strikes that may relieve pressure on Clinton at home but do not remove the ayatollahs from power.
The Pentagon began reviewing potential target lists inside Iran immediately after the Dhahran attack. Last July, then-Defense Secretary William J. Perry told a group of Dole campaign advisers that such lists already had been presented to the White House for possible action.
The target lists reportedly center on identified terrorist training centers, which would be easy targets for cruise strikes. Terror camps however are also easy to evacuate at a moment's notice. They can be repaired or replaced far more easily than major pieces of Iran's oil industry, which Clinton is no more likely to attack than was Ronald Reagan in 1986, when he ordered an air attack on terrorist camps in Libya.
Moammar Gadhafi still rules Libya, and the United Nations has determined his agents carried out the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. "Clinton has to think about what happened when Reagan tried retaliation on the cheap," says Henry Schuler, an international oil expert who was consulted by the Air Force on targets in Libya in 1986.
Schuler advocates extending the naval blockade now in force against Iraq to cover Iran as well if Iranian sponsorship of the Khobar Towers massacre is established. He does not underestimate the turmoil this would create in oil markets or the difficulties with America's allies. But he prefers those problems to managing the downside of new pinprick raids in the gulf. He makes a good case.
If Iran did commit murder by proxy, the one option that Clinton does not have is to do nothing. The ayatollahs, and Saddam, have handily survived four years of dual containment. Justice and retribution, rather than policy and diplomacy, must be the driving force in the decisions Clinton will soon have to make.