Saturday, December 19, 2009

Iraq asks Iran to withdraw troops from oil field

Report from BBC News online at 00:19 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009:
Iraq asks Iran to withdraw troops from oil field
Iraq has demanded the immediate withdrawal of Iranian troops who it says have crossed into Iraqi territory and taken control of an oil well.

An Iraqi government spokesman condemned the alleged incursion but said Baghdad was committed to resolving the issue by diplomatic means.

The Iraqis say 11 Iranian soldiers were involved and that they had raised the Iranian flag over the Fakkah oil field.

The National Iranian Oil Company denied that there had been an incursion.

But Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister, Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji, said the Iranians were in control of the well.

"[At 1530] 11 Iranian soldiers infiltrated the Iran-Iraq border and took control of the oil well," he told Reuters news agency.

"They raised the Iranian flag and they are still there until this moment."

He said there had been no military response from Iraqi forces.

"We are awaiting orders from our leader," he added.

Similar incidents have happened before along the border, which has never been properly defined since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s - although relations between the two neighbours are now cordial.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Iran's nuclear deceptions (The Times)

From The Times' Oliver Kamm
December 13, 2009
Iran's nuclear deceptions:

Let me direct you to an alarming story that's appearing on the wires as I write. The Times has acquired documents directly from Iran's nuclear programme. This is how our leading article describes their implications:

'Winston Churchill described the actions of Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The nuclear diplomacy of Iran is constructed more simply: it is one lie after another. Western diplomacy has proved susceptible to the tactic. A US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in December 2007 concluded that Iran was “less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005”. Documents obtained by The Times reveal that this assessment was worthless.

'The information comes from Iran’s most sensitive nuclear project. It concerns a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator. This is the component of a nuclear weapon that triggers the explosion. The plan was initiated in the very year that the NIE delivered its reassuring message.... In the view of experts contacted by The Times, Iran’s work in this field has no possible civilian application. It makes sense only for a programme to develop a nuclear weapon.'

Our correspondents set out what's in the documents, along with the view from Tehran and from Israel.

UPDATE: Our main story, now online, contains this sobering judgement:

'Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: “The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution.”'

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Note:  casus belli = 
an event used to justify starting a war
An act or event that provokes or is used to justify war. ...

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