Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 17 June 1 - 7, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
White House Keeps Pressure on Iran
The Associated Press and Reuters
WASHINGTON — The
Bush administration on Tuesday rejected Iran’s claims that it was not
harboring senior al-Qaida leaders. A senior-level meeting on Iran policy set for
Tuesday was put on hold, but White House spokesman Ari Fleischer kept the heat
on, saying Iran had responded to U.S. concerns “insufficiently.”
Fleischer also said
the arrests of several suspected al-Qaida members announced by Iran on Monday
did not quell concerns.
Al-Qaida, led by
Osama bin Laden, has been blamed by the United States for the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks in New York and Washington.
U.S. officials said
they had intelligence suggesting senior al-Qaida members were hiding in Iran and
had advance knowledge of the suicide bombings May 12 in Saudi Arabia in which 34
people, including eight Americans, were killed.
scoffed at Tehran's assertions that its nuclear program was exclusively designed
for peaceful power-generating purposes. "We continue to have concerns that
a nation that is awash in gas and oil would seek to produce peaceful nuclear
energy," he said.
that Iran "flares off" -- that is, burns as a waste product -- more
natural gas than the electrical energy it would produce from nuclear reactors.
Fleischer said a
meeting of senior officials to consider new ways to pressure Iran, which had
reportedly been scheduled for Tuesday, would not happen.
A source familiar
with the policy debate said there would be a higher-level "principles"
meeting on the issue Thursday at which top administration officials would
consider ways to step up pressure on Iran. Another source confirmed there was a
meeting Thursday but was not sure at what level.
"What we will
be doing is looking at what our options are to try to get the Iranians to
cooperate on al-Qaida in ways that they have in the past. If there's an
indication that we can't expect that kind of cooperation again, then we'll be
looking at other options," a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
The Washington Post
reported Sundaythat the United States had broken off contact with Iran after
intelligence reports suggesting that al-Qaida operatives in Iran had a role in
the May 12 bombings.
The Post reported
that Pentagon officials were pushing for the Bush administration to adopt a more
aggressive policy to destabilize the Iranian government.
Iran Denies Al-Qaeda
The United States
has specifically accused Iran of harboring al-Qaida's security chief, Saif al-Adil;
bin Laden's son, Saad; and Abu Musab Zarqawi, the operational commander whom
Washington accuses of ties to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Iran, for its part,
has said that it has arrested and deported 500 al-Qaida members over the last
year as they fled Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq but that none are senior
leaders, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has charged.
serious about confronting al-Qaida," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza
Asefi said Monday, calling on Washington to "follow logic and wisdom in
international relations and avoid making interfering remarks."
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi called al-Qaida "a very dangerous
organization" and said his country was serious about combating it.
"There is no
way that Iranians would support al-Qaida because we have been fighting with al-Qaida
since before even the Americans were engaged with them," he said.
Iran, which is on
President Bush's "axis of evil" list, has come under increasing
pressure from Washington since the end of the war in Iraq.
In recent weeks U.S.
officials have accused Iran of meddling in postwar Iraq, developing nuclear
weapons, sheltering al-Qaida members and sponsoring terrorism. Iran denies all
the U.S. allegations.
secretary general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran
"would like to reduce the existing tensions," between Tehran and
shows goodwill, one could expect better prospects in the future relations of the
two countries," Rohani said Sunday in the newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami.
Rohani added that Iran was "ready to open its nuclear program to full
not see any reason now to review its stance and its role regarding construction
of the first nuclear reactor," Alexander Rumyantsev, Russia's atomic energy
minister, said after talks with visiting Iranian nuclear officials Monday.
on Iran is likely to intensify on June 16 if, as Washington hopes, the
International Atomic Energy Agency declares Iran in violation of the Nuclear
Iran insists that
its network of nuclear facilities, which includes a uranium enrichment plant,
are solely geared to electric generation. But U.S. officials and independent
analysts say Iran's atomic program could allow it to "break out" of
the NPT when it is ready to build nuclear weapons.
ties with Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Officials from the
two countries have met several times recently in Geneva to discuss issues
related to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The notion of how to
deal with Iran has also become a hot topic in Congress.
Sen. Joseph Biden,
the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told NBC's
"Today" show Tuesday that the White House should first finish its
military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan before it even considers regime change
On Sunday, Senate
Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., suggested on NBC's
"Meet the Press" that Americans might expect "better cooperation
from Iran once the strong signal has gone out" that the United States will
not accept weapons of mass destruction there.
And Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., a Democratic presidential hopeful who strongly backed the Iraq war, said that while "regime change" is the answer in Iran, he was not suggesting U.S. military action.
May 27, 2003