Iran creates fake blogs in smear campaign against journalists in exile
BBC Persian staff victims of online identity theft designed to discredit them, with family in Iran facing harassment as well
“As the Zionist regime [of Israel] regretted its aggression and hostility during its 33-day, 22-day and 8-day wars, it will also regret this attack [on Syria],” Jalili said during a press conference in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Monday.
He added that Syria is an important part of the Muslim world which is at the front line of confrontation with the Israeli regime, emphasizing that the Muslim world would never allow any aggression against Syria.
The SNSC secretary noted that the Syrian government and nation are serious in this regard and reaffirmed the support of the Muslim world for the Arab country.
As the rotating president of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Islamic Republic of Iran will use all its international and legal capacities to back Syria, Jalili pointed out.
He urged Muslim countries to show “necessary reaction” to Israel’s recent airstrike against Syria and prove that the Muslim world is united to defend its entirety and the resistance.The top Iranian official also warned against plots to cause internal conflicts in the Muslim world in order to reduce the pressure under which the Zionist regime is reeling as a result of unity and resistance of Muslims.
In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin took full advantage. He pulled no punches. He sharply criticized US foreign policy. He called it:
very dangerous (in its) uncontained hyper-use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts.” (US imperialism, he stressed), “overstepped its national borders in every way.
(U)nilateral illegal actions have not resolved any single problem. They have become a hotbed of further conflicts.
We are seeing increasing disregard for the fundamental principles of international law….No one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them.
Of course, such a policy stimulates an arms race. The dominance of force inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Putin also addressed a “unipolar world.” He called it one “in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day, this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.” He added that “We are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.”
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attended this year’s Conference. Itar Tass headlined “Moscow calls on West not to impose outside values on peoples of Middle East, Africa.”
We all aspire for stability and conditions for sustainable development in the Middle East and in Africa, we want the peoples of countries there to be able to move towards the democracy and wellbeing, to have guaranteed human rights, smooth supplies of hydrocarbons and other vital resources.
If those are our joint objectives, then, we may agree on transparent and clear rules, which should be used by all players in their practical actions.
Agree that we all will be supporting the democratic reforms of the changing countries, but not to impose an outside value scale, acknowledging the variety of development models.
Should agree that we shall be supporting the peaceful settlement of the inner state conflicts and stopping of violence via conditions for an inclusive dialogue with involvement of all national political groups.
Should agree that we shall refrain from outside interference, especially by force, without a clear mandate from the UN Security Council and from any unilateral sanctions. That we should continuously and firmly fight extremism and terrorism in all forms, should demand observation of rights for ethnic and confessional minorities.
Approaches of our Western counterparts cause many questions.
Does support for change of regimes justify terror methods? Is it possible to be fighting in one situation against those who you support in another one?
Lavrov said answers to key questions “should be found jointly, especially regarding final objectives for the efforts to settle crises in countries of the Euro-Atlantic region, which have more uniting aspects rather than discrepancies.”
Russia categorically opposes force. It wants Syrians alone to decide who’ll lead them. It wants no external interference. It’s got international law on its side.
Earlier Lavrov expressed concern about Israeli aggression on Syria. He called it “unacceptable.”
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also addressed Munich participants. He admitted Israel’s involvement.
He said “what happened in Syria several days ago (is) proof that when we said something we mean it….and we say that we don’t think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons into Lebanon.”
Israel committed naked aggression. It was unrelated to cross-border weapons transfers. Israel’s objectives aren’t clear. It may be to goad Syria to counterattack.
Doing so would risk greater war. It could become regional or global. History proves small conflicts at times become major ones.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani warned Israel, saying:
The world is witnessing a vengeance carried out by the West, particularly the US, and some backward elements in the region against resistance.
He urged regional countries to distance themselves from Israel. He said “the Islamic awakening movement in the region would give a proper response to the Zionist regime.”
On February 3, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said “Israeli Aggression Reveals Israel’s Role in Destabilizing Syria.”
Assad responded publicly for the first time. He said Israel acted in “collaboration with hostile external powers.” Syria’s able to confront challenges. It’ll repel aggression. Destabilizing Syria won’t work. Iran offers full support.
On February 2, Voice of Russia contributor Konstantin Garibov headlined “Israel’s air attack against Syria heralds new regional conflicts,” saying:
Doing so entails great risks. Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned Israel’s attack. It called it “an unprovoked attack against a sovereign state.”
Syria declared the right to respond. International law permits justifiable self-defense. Lebanese political scientist Imad Rizk called the attack’s timing “symptomatic.”
Netanyahu “returned to big politics.” He is forming a coalition government. He’s negotiating for strategic advantage. He’ll deal with Washington’s new Secretary of State.
“It looks like the attack became the US and Israel’s joint declaration” of war on Syria.
Vladimir Putin said “Israel will keep delivering blows on facilities or forces participating in the Syrian conflict. They would be either Islamist groups of troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad. I can foresee that as the crisis becomes worse, Israel could expand its participation in such attacks.”
Israel allegedly fears Islamic extremists. Supposedly it’s concerned about ties to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies analyst Vladimiri Sotnikov believes “It would be a nightmare for Israel.”
It’s likely what Israel prefers. It needs enemies to justify belligerence. Peace, calm and stability defeat its agenda.
As foreign minister in 1982, Yitzhak Shamir explained why Israel attacked Lebanon. A “terrible danger” existed, he said, “not so much a military one as a political one.”
On June 6, 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. Fighting lasted nearly a year.
An Israeli staged false flag was pretext. Arafat was falsely blamed for Abu Nidal militants’ attempted assassination of Israeli UK ambassador Shlomo Argov.
Israel got the war it wanted. Around 18,000 Palestinians were massacred. Southern Lebanon remained occupied until May 2000. Israel still illegally holds Sheba Farms.
It’s a 14-square mile water-rich area near Syria’s Golan. It’s been lawlessly occupied since 1967 along with Ghajar, a bordering Lebanese village.
Sabra and Shatila remain symbols of Israeli ruthlessness. At the time, Ariel Sharon was defense minister. He ordered the slaughter. He let Phalangist fascists do his dirty work.
Palestinian civilians were massacred in cold blood. Women were raped multiple times before being killed. Children were murdered like adults.
Whole families were shot, stabbed, bludgeoned to death, or buried dead or alive under homes. Some were tortured before dying. Bodies were decapitated.
Corpses were charred and violated. Eyes were gouged out. Faces were unrecognizable.
Israel maliciously planned it. Sharon led it. He called it “ridding the world of the center of international terrorism.” Orwell couldn’t have said it better. No one to this day was punished. Israel massacres with impunity.
Haaretz contributor Gideon Levy said “Israel does as it pleases.” Rogue states operate that way. Criticizing them is called “heresy and treason.”
Israel overflies Lebanon’s airspace with impunity. It’s “taken for granted.” It bombards whatever it calls dangerous. It “invade(s) any place, settle(s) anywhere. It may do (almost) anything.”
It does any damn thing it wishes. Washington offers full support. They’re imperial partners. They jointly plan aggression. They get away with it because who’ll stop them?
“(A)nything allowed (is) shaped (in) Israeli consciousness.” It’s based on largely baseless assumptions. Notions about being surrounded by hostile Arabs don’t wash.
“The Syrian people and government are serious about this, and the Muslim world supports Syria,” Jalili said. “Syria is at the forefront of the Muslim world’s confrontation with the Zionist entity,”
“After two and a half years of intense legal work to lift the [EU] sanctions on the bank, [the European] Court [of Justice] has ruled in favor of Bank Mellat,” Managing-Director of Bank Mellat Ali Divandari said on Wednesday.
“The Court has also required the [European] Union to cover the costs of [legal] procedures…and found Bank Mellat deserving of receiving all legal expenses as well as compensation from the EU for losses incurred because of these sanctions,” he added.
Divandari said vague reasons were used by the EU in July 2010 to impose sanctions against Bank Mellat.
“Given the unanimity-based laws governing the European Court of Justice, I am confident that this outcome will positively affect the legal action taken by other banks and economic institutes of the country,” he said.
In December 2012, the Luxemburg-based court had ordered the EU to lift its sanctions against Iranian private bank, Sina.
At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran. The sanctions entered into force last summer.
On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.
The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Speaking at the 49th Munich Security Conference on Monday, the Turkish minister proposed the formation of 5+3 group in the talks over Iran’s nuclear energy program with the inclusion of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday that the next round of comprehensive talks between Iran and the P5+1 — China, Russia, France, Britain, and the US plus Germany — would be held in Kazakhstan on February 25, 2013.
Iran and the P5+1 have held several rounds of talks with main focus on Iranian nuclear energy program. The last round of negotiations between the two sides was held in Moscow in June 2012.
The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran argues that as a signatory to the NPT and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Meanwhile, Israel as the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, is widely known to have between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads.
The Israeli regime rejects all the regulatory international nuclear agreements — the NPT in particular — and refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections.
A brother of Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani said he will file a legal complaint against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his “lies” after the president accused his family of corruption, state-run Fars reported.
The remarks by Fazel Larijani, a former diplomat in Canada, follow a public showdown yesterday in parliament between his brother and Ahmadinejad, marking the latest exchange between two long-time rivals before the June 14 presidential election. Ahmadinejad initially turned up before lawmakers to defend the record of one of his ministers, whom they aimed to impeach.
During the session, Ahmadinejad played a badly audible video of a conversation between Fazel Larijani and former Prosecutor-General Saeed Mortazavi that he maintained revealed the Larijani family’s misuse of power in business dealings, the Tehran-based Etemaad daily reported. Larijani responded by saying the issue was unrelated to the impeachment motion and accused Ahmadinejad of devising a “plot,” Etemaad said.
“A president who is constantly threatening others should know that the country’s problems stem from such attitudes,” Ali Larijani said. “In fact, it’s a good thing that you aired this film so people get to better know your character.”
With tightening sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program restricting the country’s crude exports and its access to oil revenue, Ahmadinejad has been made the scapegoat in recent months by fellow politicians for his management of the economy. The president has fought back, threatening to make public documents that, he says, show some officials are corrupt.
At the end of the parliamentary session, deputies voted and impeached Labor Minister Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, citing his failure to remove Mortazavi from his post as the head of the Social Security Organization, the state-run Press TV news channel said. Mortazavi was suspended in 2010 over accusations he was linked to prison inmates’ deaths.
Major General Amos Yadlin said on Monday that an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would send shockwaves across the globe, Jerusalem Post reported.
Yadlin, who is currently heading the Institute for National Security Studies, called on the Jewish entity to tone down its rhetoric vis-à-vis Iran over its nuclear energy program.
He said Israel should “return to the international community” before adopting any stand towards Iran.
“Israel does not need to object to a diplomatic solution,” he noted, adding that it was time that Tel Aviv drew up a diplomatic initiative.
On January 4, the former chief of Israeli security agency Shin Bet Yuval Diskin censured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-Iran campaign.
Back in September 2012, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said a potential Israeli military aggression against Iran’s nuclear energy facilities would be the ‘stupidest idea ever heard.’
The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Israel, the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, is widely known to have between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads.
The Israeli regime rejects all the regulatory international nuclear agreements — the NPT in particular — and refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections.
By Stephen Brown
BERLIN | Mon Feb 4, 2013 11:37am EST
(Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday he saw U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden’s offer this weekend of bilateral dialogue between their two countries as a sign of a change in approach to Tehran by Washington.
Iran is embroiled in a long stand-off with big powers over its nuclear program. Tehran insists its atomic activity is for peaceful energy only while the United States and other powers suspect it of seeking the capability to build a nuclear weapon.
“As I have said yesterday, I am optimistic, I feel this new administration is really this time seeking to at least divert from its previous traditional approach vis-a-vis my country,” Salehi told the German Council on Foreign Relations.
Salehi, who attended the Munich Security Conference at the weekend where Biden made the offer, said in Berlin that it was still very difficult for Tehran and Washington – more than 30 years after they severed relations – to trust each other.
“How do we trust again this new gesture?” he said.
Salehi said he hoped Barack Obama would keep what he said was a promise by the U.S. president to “walk away from wars … and approaches that bring destruction, killings, bloodshed”. He did not elaborate.
Negotiations between Iran and Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany over Tehran’s nuclear activities have been deadlocked since a meeting last June.
European Union officials have accused Iran of dragging its feet in weeks of haggling over the date and venue for new talks.
“I think it is about time both sides really get into engagement because confrontation certainly is not the way,” Salehi said in Berlin, referring to the United States.
“And another thing: this issue of the nuclear file is becoming boring,” added Salehi, a physicist by training who once headed the Iranian atomic energy agency and represented his country at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The European Union said this weekend it had proposed talks in the week of February 24 which could take place in Kazakhstan. Salehi called this “good news” – but the EU said Iran has not yet accepted.
Speaking on a visit to London, Iranian former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian said the nuclear deadlock would not be solved without a meaningful parallel dialogue between Tehran and Washington.
“I believe they should start immediately. They should put all issues on the table. They should start with issues of common interest like Afghanistan in order to create a positive momentum,” he said after a speech at the Chatham House think tank.
Mousavian seemed less upbeat on the prospect of success at the Kazakhstan round of talks, citing U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran to pressure it to curb its nuclear program. “As far as they (the West) are going to keep the main sanctions, they should not expect Iran to respond with concessions,” he said.
In Berlin, Salehi faced tough questioning about Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war in which about 60,000 people have died.
Iran and Russia, Assad’s main backers, met the Syrian opposition leader this weekend but Tehran appeared to remain convinced that Assad must not be ejected from power.
Salehi denied Iran was sending solders to help Assad, saying: “The army of Syria is big enough, they do not need fighters from outside.”
Iran was only sending economic assistance, food and fuel, said the minister, adding that the Damascus government and opposition should sit down, agree a ceasefire and call free elections in which he said Assad should be free to take part.
About 100 Iranian opposition members protested outside the Berlin venue where Salehi spoke and one managed to sneak in among the diplomats, interrupting the minister with shouts of “He’s a murderer!”
Salehi was asked by an Israeli newspaper correspondent if he would visit the Holocaust monument in Berlin to 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, and what he thought of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated denials that the Holocaust took place.
“Any holocaust is a human tragedy,” Salehi replied, refusing to be drawn deeper on the subject.
(Additional reporting by Maria Golovnina in London; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
“Just as it regretted its aggressions after the 33-day, 22-day and eight-day wars, today the Zionist entity will regret the aggression it launched against Syria,”
Published: 03 February, 2013, 23:02
Meanwhile, US Vice President Joe Biden said the two countries could talk as long as Iran was serious about negotiations.
“We’re not prepared to do it just for the exercise,” he said.
Salehi says Iran has “no red lines” when it comes to bilateral negotiations, but added that Tehran would have to be sure the US had “fair and real intentions” to improve the relationship between the two countries.
The last round of nuclear talks between Iran and the six powers ended without agreement in Moscow in June.
DEBKAfile Special Report February 3, 2013, 2:36 PM (GMT+02:00)
Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak had strong words for Iran and its allies at the Munich Security Conference Sunday, Feb. 3, while, in Damascus, Iran’s National Security Director Saeed Jalili conferred urgently with Syrian President Bashar Assad. They discussed activating the secret mutual defense pact binding Iran, Syria, Hizballlah and Hamas in reprisal for the Israeli air strike which reportedly hit a military complex near Damascus last Wednesday.
Without directly confirming the Israel attack on the Jamraya military compound, defense minister Barak said, “…what happened in Syria several days ago… that’s proof that when we said something we mean it… and we say that we don’t think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon.”
Addressing top world diplomats and defense officials, Barak when on to say: “Hizballah from Lebanon and the Iranians are the only allies that Assad has left.” Assad’s fall is “coming imminently” and that “will be a major blow to the Iranians and Hizbollah. I think that they will pay the price,” he said.
In Tehran, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani warned Israel Sunday of the consequences of its alleged strike. “The world is witnessing a vengeance carried out by the West, particularly the US, and some backward elements in the region against resistance.” Larijani called on countries in the region to distance themselves from Israel and said he believed “the Islamic awakening movement in the region would give a proper response to the Zionist regime.”
On the face of it, Tehran looks as though it is passing the buck for “a proper response to the Zionist regime” to fellow Muslims and the Arab world.
However, debkafile’s Iranian and intelligence sources believe the Iranians are simply playing for time to decide how to retaliate for Israel’s reported strike on the military complex which Syria shares with its allies. The man to watch is Jalilee who, we can report exclusively, arrived post haste in Damascus Saturday, Feb. 2, to warn Syrian leaders that Tehran is not willing to forego a military response to an attack which destroyed a whole supply of advanced Iranian weapons Tehran sent to Hizballah in the last two years and which were stored at the Jamraya compound.
The Syrian ruler clearly agrees with his Iranian guest. Sunday, he accused Israel of trying to “destabilize” his country. His first remarks on the reported Israeli air strike in Syria on Wednesday came after he met Jalilee. He added that Syria was able to confront “current threats… and aggression.”
Iran, Syria and Hizballah must now decide on the nature of their reprisal, set up the operation and assign forces for its implementation, while taking into account Israel’s options for a counter-response.
Barak’s tough comments in Munich told Tehran that Israel is ready to remove the gloves against Syria and Hizballlah. Iranian leaders heeded his words well while at the same time keeping track of the Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib’s meetings in Munich with US Vice President Joe Biden and, for the first time, with the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, Sergey Lavrov and Ali Akbar Salehi.
Salehi spent 45 minutes with the Syrian dissident on the sidelines of the conference addressed by the Israeli defense minister.
Those meetings were taken as suggesting that the Syrian opposition does not expect the Syrian ruler to fall in the short term and has therefore decided there is no option but to start talking to him about a power-sharing format for ending the Syrian conflict. Tehran is already angling for a role in a Syrian peace settlement.
However an Iranian-backed reprisal operation countered by a tough Israel response could upset this promising scenario.
February 3, 2013
The air raid over the Jamraya military complex near Damascus Wednesday, Jan. 30, attributed to Israel by Western sources was Israeli’s first assault on the Syrian-Hizballah military compact forged between Bashar Assad and Hassan Nasrallah.
That was the real strategic import of the operation, which took place with the approval of US President Barack Obama, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.
In every other respect, it was a surgical strike on a well-defined target, comparable to Israel’s attack in September 2007 on the nuclear reactor North Korea was building at El Kabir in northern Syria. The object then was to sever the Syrian-Iranian-North Korean nuclear link before it took physical shape and began turning out plutonium for Iran’s nuclear program.
After its destruction, Tehran and Pyongyang decided to cut Syria out of their nuclear plans because its proximity to Israel made any nuclear site an easy mark.
DEBKAfile February 2, 2013, 9:10 PM (GMT+02:00)
Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, visited Damascus Saturday for urgent discussions with Syrian ruler Bashar Assad and other officials, following the Israel air strike which foreign sources report took place Wednesday against the military complex near Damascus. Jalili, a close aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is also senior Iranian nuclear negotiator. Iranian TV said the trip was “important.”
by Farid Marjai and Mehrnaz Shahabi
“Iranian Mothers for Peace,” in an open letter of January 2013 to Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, and Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Heath Organization, have alerted the responsible world bodies and human rights organizations to the critical shortage of vital medication due to the US/EU-led sanctions on Iran and their deadly impact on the lives and health of the Iranian population.
“Iranian Mothers for Peace” is a non-profit forum, well known and respected in Iran’s civil society. In 2006 a number of social activists came together to form this forum. “Mothers for Peace” is not a political party and organizationally it has a flexible structure. “Mothers for Peace” takes pride that its 700 participants come from very diverse political backgrounds and different social classes. It affirmatively celebrates diversity which it considers a reflection of the tolerance the group espouses.
With the ideal of peace in mind, “Mothers for Peace” is open to all participants who take a stand against any form of violence, poverty, and oppression.
“In our campaigns to protect the environment, we encourage measures that reduce the impact of human violence against it. We take solid steps to eliminate and mitigate gender inequality. Over the years, our projects have focused on welfare of addicts and prisoners, and publicizing their rights.
The scope of our vision and work is to achieve social security and permanent peace. Hence, this non-profit institution has a wider definition of the concept of ‘peace’; it refutes the narrow perspective of ‘peace’ as mere absence of external military violence and confrontation. And it is precisely in this context that we view the Western-imposed crippling sanctions on the people of Iran as a form of structural violence — a silent, yet a predatory war.
The everyday reality we observe on the ground in Iran has convinced us that the draconian sanctions are victimizing the very fabric of the society we intend to strengthen.
Presently, a number of the core group members of ‘Mothers for Peace’ are suffering from cancer. Sadly, they are having a difficult time obtaining the medicines needed for their treatment, and like many of their compatriots they suffer from unnecessary additional anxiety that might further deteriorates their precarious health condition.”
Below is the text of the open letter (published at mothersofpeace-iran.com/?p=1049) in English.
January, 26, 20013
Dr. Margaret Chan
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Dear Dr. Margaret Chan
As you know, the illegal and inhumane actions led by the US and the EU, targeting the country and the population of Iran, with the stated intention to put pressure on the government of Iran, have intensified in the past two years and increasingly harsher sanctions are imposed almost on a monthly basis. The regulations governing these inhumane and arbitrary sanctions are executed with such strict inflexibility that Iran is now excluded from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) and the sanctions on banking transactions are preventing Iran from even purchasing its needed medical supplies and instruments. On the other hand, to avoid suspicion for dealing with Iran, the European banks are fearful not to engage in any kind of financial transactions with Iran and, therefore, in practice, refuse any transfer of payment for medical and health-related items and raw materials needed for the production of domestic pharmaceutical drugs, even payment for well-recognized drugs for the treatment of Special Diseases, which are not of dual use.
Are you aware that while American and European soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan are being saved by Iranian anti-snake venom potions and medication, Iranian hemophilic children, cancer patients, and those suffering diabetes, under the pretext of the execution of ‘smart sanctions’, are being deprived of their lifeline medication and face death or irreversible disability? We ask you: What could possibly be the intended target of the wealthy and powerful US and European statesmen’s ‘targeted’ and ‘smart’ sanctions but to destroy the physical and psychological health of the population through the increase of disease and disability?
Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing for Chuck Hagel at times assumed the tone of an inquisition, with Obama’s nominee for defense secretary pushed to recant previous positions critical of Israel and swear his support for unbridled US militarism.
Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, did his best to present himself as an unwavering proponent of the use of American armed might around the globe.
In his opening statement, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “My overall world view has never changed: that America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world, that we must lead the international community to confront threats and challenges together, and take advantage of opportunities together; that we must use all our tools of American power to protect our citizens and our interests.”
While echoing the Obama administration’s claims about ending the US war in Afghanistan, Hagel declared his backing for a continued occupation of the country by thousands of US troops past the formal 2014 withdrawal deadline. He stressed that there would be “two functions for US troops that remain in Afghanistan after 2014: counterterrorism, particularly to target Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and training and advising Afghan forces.”
He vowed that Washington would continue to conduct its global war on terrorism “in places like Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa” and argued that the Pentagon must continue “to invest in and build the tools to assist in that fight, such as special operations forces and new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technologies.”
He also declared his commitment to keeping “all options on the table”—a euphemism for war—in the bellicose campaign against Iran over its nuclear program.
Hagel went on to declare his support for maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the Middle East, modernizing the US nuclear weapons arsenal and preparing for “future threats and challenges”—meaning China—by “rebalancing [US] resources towards the Asia-Pacific region.”
While Democratic members of the Senate committee for the most part worked to bolster this image of Hagel as representing seamless continuity with the military policies of his predecessors, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, some of the nominee’s former Republican colleagues grilled him relentlessly. They cited Hagel’s previous statements and votes that they suggested exposed him as insufficiently loyal to Israel, soft on Iran and unsupportive of the war in Iraq.
In particular, they cited an interview that Hagel gave for a book by former State Department official Aaron David Miller, in which he stated: “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. I am not an Israeli senator. I am a US Senator. This pressure makes us do dumb things at times.”
These statements, and others criticized during the hearing, reflected concern within sections of the political establishment that absolute support for Israel and the most reckless actions in the Middle East could be harmful to the interests of American imperialism. Hagel has in the past advocated a more measured policy, but this is a position that is now completely marginalized.
In the course of his testimony, Hagel backed off from his statement, repeatedly reiterating his support for Israel and saying he regretted using the term “Jewish lobby” instead of “Israeli lobby” and “intimidate” instead of “influence.” Several Democrats also pushed him to provide clarity on his unconditional support for Israel.
In War Is A Lie I looked at pretended and real reasons for wars and found some of the real reasons to be quite irrational. It should not shock us then to discover that the primary goal in fighting a war is not always to win it. Some wars are fought without a desire to win, others without winning being the top priority, either for the top war makers or for the ordinary soldiers.
In Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars Is More Important Than Winning Them, David Keen looks at wars around the world and discovers many in which winning is not an object. Many of the examples are civil wars, many of them in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, some of them dragging on for decades. Wars become sources of power, wealth, and prestige. Exploiting civilians can take precedence for both sides over combatting each other. So can exploiting international “aid” that flows as long as wars are raging, not to mention the international permission to commit crimes that is bestowed upon those fighting the communists or, more recently, the terrorists. Of course a “war on terror” is itself blatantly chosen as an unwinnable goal around which to design a permanent emergency. President Obama has just waived, again, sanctions on nations using child soldiers. Those child soldiers are on our side.
“The weak (or nonexistent) criticism by aid agencies of human rights abuses in Afghanistan and Iraq in the context of a ‘war on terror’ — for example, the massacres of prisoners of war in Afghanistan in November 2001 and the torture at Abu Ghraib — was used by the government in Sri Lanka (as well as by governments in Russia, Colombia, Algeria and Pakistan) as evidence of ‘double standards’ on the part of aid agencies that tried to criticise them.”
Keen treats Western wars with the same analytical eye as any other wars, and with similar results. The wars to combat “terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq have actually increased terrorism. If the overriding goal were to reduce terrorism, we wouldn’t continue making war on Muslim nations. Killing Afghan farmers for supporting the Taliban turns more of them to the Taliban. And so, more of them are killed. Paying for safe passage for U.S. materiel funds the Taliban. Humanitarian aid is tied to the military occupation and resisted as such, fueling corruption and resentment rather than good will. It also fuels an interest in prolonging a war without end on the part of locals profiting from it.
Is winning the objective? Sometimes appearing to be winning in the short term overrides and actually impedes the work of winning in the long term. One reason this goes unnoticed, I think, is that there is no coherent concept of what winning would look like. We’re less aware, therefore, of not having reached it. Rather than winning or losing, we think of wars as merely “ending.” And if they end following a “surge” by our side, we imagine they’ve ended well, even while averting our eyes from the results.
Published: 01 February, 2013, 19:26
Edited: 02 February, 2013, 03:45
There is a high probability that US sanctions against Iran have been violated by its own army. Part of the $1.55 billion in fuel the US bought from Turkmenistan for the Afghan army in the last five years may have originated in Iran.
A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) suggested that “despite actions taken by DOD to prevent the purchase of Iranian fuel with US funds, risks remain that US economic sanctions could [have been] violated” from 2007 to 2012.
Most of the fuel for domestic Afghan consumption comes from neighboring Iran. Because of the US sanctions on Tehran restricting the trade of Iranian oil and petroleum products, the ISAF has been required to abide by the regulations and buy petrol from eight Afghan-owned companies that deliver petroleum from Turkmenistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.
The SIGAR report also acknowledged there are no plausible oversight mechanisms to make sure Iranian petroleum products are not included in future fuel purchases.
Turkmenistan is a major regional oil producer, which also trades for petroleum products made in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Iran. Petrol vendors in Turkmenistan use flexible supply schemes, meaning that fuel of various origins could potentially be blended together.
In response to a draft of SIGAR report, the US Embassy in Kabul stated that “it is possible that if blending is taking place in Turkmenistan it could contain some Iranian fuel,” but refused to admit that fuel imported from Russia could also be blended with Iranian fuel prior to its import into Afghanistan.
“All fuel imports carry a ‘verified Fuel Passport’ from the refinery, which provides information on the origin, quantity, quality, and specifications of the fuel,” the embassy explained.
“Suppliers are unlikely to blend Iranian fuel, or any other product, with other sourced fuel because of the potential that blending could cause product deviation from specification standards and potentially cause a rejection of the entire shipment,” the embassy said.
In 2012, the Pentagon reportedly spent over $800 million on imports from Turkmenistan, most likely for fuel purchases.
January 31, 2013
Netanyahu has drawn a line in the sand, only this time, it’s for the U.S.
According to a Maariv report, when speaking to a visiting delegation from the American Jewish Committee, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was simply not strong enough to force a halt to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. In order to halt the program, Bibi said, the U.S. would have to strike, and they must do so this year.
“The sanctions are only likely to stop Iran if there is a credible (military) threat over their head … and in order for it to be a credible threat, you need to mean it, meaning that if the sanctions don’t work – and they haven’t until now – you will use it,” he said.
By By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press – 5 days ago
VIENNA (AP) — The U.N. nuclear agency is dismissing reports of a major explosion at Iran’s fortified underground nuclear facility.
International Atomic Energy Agency spokeswoman Gill Tudor told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Iran’s denial of “an incident” at the Fordo uranium enrichment plant is “consistent with our observations.”
Some news organizations have cited Israeli intelligence reports of a blast at Fordo.
A diplomat familiar with the issue told AP that the IAEA’s information came directly from IAEA inspectors at Fordo. He demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.
Iran is enriching uranium at Fordo to a level that is just a technical step away from nuclear warhead material.
Tehran says it is enriching only for reactor fuel and for scientific purposes and denies accusations it wants nuclear arms.
Stressing the need for regional nations to be vigilant against the enemies’ plots aimed at stoking conflict among them, the Iranian president said, “Solidarity, integrity and attention to people’ conventional rights constitute the best solution to countering the enemies’ conspiracy.”
Ahmadinejad stated that the regional governments should act in a way to support all people and restore their rights.
“Governments should be standard-bearer in defending rights and prosperity of all people. No discrimination should be made between different ethnicities and groups of people.”
For his part, Hakim stated that arrogant powers are intent on triggering ethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq to reach their own spiteful objectives in the war-wrecked country.
“It is clear to everyone that those committing atrocities in Syria are mercenaries who have come from outside Syria and have been armed and are fighting against the Syrian government,” Salehi said Wednesday in a joint press conference with his Omani counterpart Yousef bin Alawi.
“All power plants, silos, factories, institutes and organizations serving people have been destroyed by these terrorists,” the Iranian minister added.
Salehi noted that people are the ones suffering from the problems caused by the the Syrian crisis in the past two years.
“However, the [present] conditions are such that the people are currently standing against the mercenaries, and wherever the government retakes an area [from militants] the people support it themselves,” he said.
The Iranian state news agency claimed Monday that it had launched a monkey 120 km into space and recovered the capsule and monkey but significantly, without saying where or when. On Jan. 15, DEBKAfile reported that the forthcoming launch of a monkey into orbit would demonstrate Iran’s capacity to fire long-range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.
If the Iranians were able to protect a vehicle weighing some 2,000 kilograms from the high temperatures and pressure of re-entry, said one expert, they were good enough engineers to be able to protect a military warhead atop a surface-to-surface missile with a range of several thousand kilometers.
January 30, 2013
Iran has reached a milestone goal in its quest to send human astronauts into space, by successfully launching a monkey into orbit and returning it safely to the Earth.
Iranian state television reported Monday that a rocket named Pishgam, meaning Pioneer in Farsi, traveled straight upward into the thermosphere to reach a height of 75 miles before returning to the planet’s surface. Hamid Fazeli, the director of the Iran Space Agency, said that “because of biological similarities between humans and monkeys, the latter were selected for the space mission.” He went on to predict that Iran would possess the capabilities to send a human into space within the “next five to eight years.”
Last year Tehran announced plans to build a new space center, following the reported launch of a mouse, turtle, and worms into space in 2010 on the back of an Explorer rocket. While security officials in the United States and Europe worry that Iran’s swiftly-developing space technology could serve a dual purpose of sending nuclear warheads aboard long-range missiles, experts said the recent experiment does not appear to have military implications.
JERUSALEM — Israel strongly criticized Argentina on Tuesday, summoning its ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to explain Argentina’s agreement with Iran to establish a joint commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, an attack for which Tehran is widely blamed.
The Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for Latin America “conveyed Israel’s astonishment and disappointment at the Argentine government’s decision to collaborate with Iran,” according to a statement from the ministry.
It added that Israel had “protested the unacceptable attitude of the Argentine government toward Israel since the beginning of contacts between Buenos Aires and Tehran,” saying that Argentina had not responded to Israel’s requests to be kept informed of the diplomatic moves with Iran, nor of how Argentina envisaged bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Israel’s ambassador to Argentina was expected to request a meeting with Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, in the coming days for clarification of the motivations for the agreement that was announced by Argentina on Sunday.
For years, Israel has sought to isolate Iran internationally as part of an effort to pressure the Iranians over their disputed nuclear program and to call attention to what the Israeli government considers Iranian complicity in terrorist attacks around the world, many of them aimed at Israeli targets.
Iran, which considers Israel an illegitimate country, has denied Israel’s accusations and has in turn accused Israeli agents of terrorist attacks inside Iran.
Israel has said the Tehran government was behind attacks on Israeli Embassy personnel in India and Georgia last February. Israeli and American officials then accused Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group with ties to Iran, of responsibility for an attack on a bus of Israeli vacationers in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas in July.
The Buenos Aires bombing nearly two decades ago, which devastated the Argentina Israelite Mutual Association headquarters, is considered the worst terrorist attack in Argentina. It was carried out by a suicide bomber who drove a van full of explosives into the building, killing 85 people and wounding about 300. Two years earlier, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 29.
Neither case has been solved, but after years of delays and botched investigations, a special prosecutor in Argentina who took over the investigation in 2005 accused Hezbollah of carrying out the community center bombing and accused senior Iranian officials of planning and financing it.
Iran has refused to carry out international arrest warrants for nine people Argentine investigators suspect in the attacks. But under the agreement with Argentina, Iran will now permit prosecutors to interrogate suspects in Tehran. The suspects include a former Iranian president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Iran’s current defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi.
The agreement also establishes a joint committee of inquiry in which members cannot be Argentine or Iranian. Israel denounced the new deal, saying that the recommendations of the joint committee would not be mandatory and that it would provide Iran with the ability to delay the committee’s work indefinitely. The Foreign Ministry said, “It is doubtful whether this is how justice will be rendered.”
Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, was quoted by the newspaper Haaretz as saying that holding a joint investigation with Iran was “like inviting the murderer to participate in the murder investigation.”
While Israel is not directly involved in the case — the bombing took place on Argentine soil and was aimed at Argentine citizens — it says that there was a clear resemblance between that attack and the earlier bombing of the Israeli Embassy, and that Israel therefore expected to be able to follow the investigations.
Published: 28 January, 2013, 18:51
Edited: 30 January, 2013, 04:39
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which denounced the supposedly military nature of the Iranian nuclear program, must regularly be confronted with a hefty contention: how is it possible that the Revolutionary Guards could be developing such a program in secret when the manufacture, stockpiling, threat and use of weapons of mass destruction were forbidden by a fatwa of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution? 
After its long-standing denial of the fatwa’s existence, the WINEP responds to this argument in a new report. Yes, the prohibition exists, but the Islamic Revolution has always been flexible in interpreting Islam according to its needs. What is forbidden today could be allowed tomorrow. In addition, WINEP maintains that, with the Iranian Shiites’ gift of dissimulation, it can not be excluded that they have already changed their doctrine and are currently conducting under cover military nuclear research. In this case, the fatwa issued by the Supreme Leader would serve as a lure to dupe the West. Moreover, the danger is all the greater considering the rise of new Iranian leaders imbued with an apocalyptic ideology which could lead them to use the atomic bomb.
The reader will not fail to be amazed at the bad faith oozing from this report. Thus, after having long denied the existence of the fatwa, the WINEP now explains that, on the contrary, it is proof that the Iranians must be hiding something because they are intrinsically perverse. The most preposterous part is certainly the end of the reasoning: WINEP interprets the Shiite representation of the end of the world through the prism of its own postulations. President Ahmadinejad repeated in many of his speeches that, according to Islamic revolutionaries, the purpose of politics is to raise human consciousness until reaching the era of the Mahdi on earth  In contrast to Jewish or Germanic apocalyptic thinking, it does not envisage any final destruction, but a development of human consciousness.
Nuclear Fatwa. Religion and Politics in Iran’s Proliferation Strategy, by Michael Eisenstadt and Mehdi Khalaji, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), September 2011 (46 pp., 570 Ko).
The president stated that the incorrect interpretation of the Qur’an would cause problems.
“The Zionist regime [of Israel] has established its dominance over a group of Muslims through deceit and lies, and Muslims are not united enough to confront this occupying regime because of different and incomplete interpretations of Qur’an.”
Ahmadinejad noted that many individuals and governments have claimed that they seek to promote freedom across the world, protect human rights, establish democracy and eradicate cruelty and discrimination “but they have turned into main elements of destruction of freedom and justice.”
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, January 24, 2013 21:53 EST
In a wide-ranging talk on foreign affairs, Kissinger said he expected the Iranian nuclear issue to soon come to a head.
“For 15 years, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have declared that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but it has been approaching,” he said.
“People who have advanced their view will have to come to a determination about how to react or about the consequences of non-reaction,” he said.
“I believe this point will be reached within a very forseeable future.”
Kissinger said negotiations with Iran needed to be given “a real chance” and that “unilateral action by Israel would be a desperate last resort.”
He said he expected “Iran to be high on the agenda” of US President Barack Obama’s new administration, and said failure to deal with the question could lead to a spread of nuclear weapons in the region.
“That would be a turning point in human history,” Kissinger warned.
“If Iran acts as a nation and not as a revolutionary cause, there is no reason for America or other permanent members of the UNSC to be in conflict with it, nor any countries in the region. On that basis I would hope that a negotiated solution would be found in a measurable time.”
Meanwhile, Mr Kissinger advocated a US-Russia understanding over the conflict in Syria, while opposing military intervention.
“The Syrian problem would best be dealt internationally by Russia and America not making it a contest of national interests,” he said.
“I would hope that the undertaking of the US foreign policy will not be be characterised by the divisions that we see in [its] domestic policy.”
Israel has at times threatened to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities based on the unfounded allegation. The US has also on different occasions said that ‘all options are on the table’ regarding Iran, implicitly referring to a military strike.
Iran has vehemently rejected the allegations against its nuclear energy program, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful objectives.
Elsewhere in his press conference, the Russian top diplomat praised Iran’s significant role in solving problems facing the region.
“Iran is part of the region. It is one of the most important countries for the region. Without Iran one could hardly hope to address various issues existing there,” Lavrov said.
He said that the US did not hesitate to establish contact with Tehran to solve the security issues Washington faced in Iraq and did the same in Afghanistan but opposed Iran’s participation in resolving the Syrian crisis although the Islamic Republic had welcomed the Geneva agreement on Syria, which was reached on June 30, 2012.
“What Israeli war people have always done is try to get a war… and I think Netanyahu may see his political survival in future based totally on trying to get a war started with Iran,” Jim W. Dean said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.
He further noted that Netanyahu aims to focus on Iran in order to keep lid on several domestic issues which he has failed to tackle and to compete against rival opposition parties. …“So it is really, they are in no-man’s-land here. I do not think anybody really knows where it could go but all we have now is Netanyahu has definitely cast his fate here. He said…Iran is going to be the big issue and that means he is going to be pushing to get a war started,” Dean concluded.
Published: 23 January, 2013, 08:00
The report had been produced by a Pentagon office and posted to a US government intranet site before leaking to the public in early January.
And a massive Iranian intel staff wasn’t the only dubious claim brought to light by ProPobulica: the report also alleged, without much evidence, that Vienna was the European hub for the Iranian foreign spy network and that Tehran was gathering information by way of “signals intelligence stations” throughout the Middle East, with many of them in Syria.
“The report was pulled for revisions after the Division staff identified a passage that should have been caveated but was missed in the initial reviews,” Federal Research Division chief David Osborne told ProPublica in an email.
Though the document was taken offline “for revisions,” it has not gone back up in a modified form.
It was also the source of public humiliation in the UK after claiming explicitly that Briton Anne Khodabandeh (nee Singleton) and her Iranian-born husband Massoud were Iranian foreign intelligence operatives, even showing their pictures. Khodabandeh, a former member of the MEK, the exiled group fighting the Iranian government, has in recent years become a critic of the group, which was recently taken off the US government’s list of terrorist organizations.
To back up its claim that Khodabandeh was spying for Tehran, the report cited a 2007 essay written by Rabbi Daniel Zucker, who chairs a group called Americans for Democracy in the Middle East and is known to write often in support of the MEK. The website where his essay was published is no longer operational, but had linked to the also now-defunct iranterror.com as its source.
After seeing the report, even the MEK claimed that the Pentagon’s report showed that “Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh are agents of the mullahs’ Ministry of Intelligence and Security.”
“Everything they’ve said is just made up,” Anne Khodabandeh told ProPublica.
Despite such sketchy sources, the report was for all intents and purposes the official word of the United States government.
The Khodabandehs are refraining from legal action due to the costs of such a lawsuit and the fact that report does not credit an author.
BBC Persian staff victims of online identity theft designed to discredit them, with family in Iran facing harassment as well
In recent weeks, the pro-regime activists have set up a number of fake Facebook accounts and blogs, purporting to belong to BBC journalists or their Iranian colleagues. Web users who want to access the real BBCPersian.com, might accidentally visit its counterfeit at persianbbc.ir. The fake site mirrors the BBC’s site in design and fonts but has completely different content. “Death of Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein: fabricated stories by Washington,” reads the headline of a recent article posted on persianbbc.ir.
Nafiseh Kouhnavard, a presenter on BBC Persian’s talkshow Your Turn, is one of the victims. In a fake Facebook account that carries her name and picture, she supposedly confesses to a culture of extramarital relationships among journalists working for the BBC’s Persian service. The fake comments attributed to Kouhnavard were reproduced extensively in Iran.
“You wrote about my relationships with my colleagues,” she is falsely quoted by a national newspaper in Iran as saying. “Swinging … is not only limited to me, in fact it is common and normal here.”
First carried in Vatan-e-Emrooz daily, the fake material has since been republished by state-affiliated news organisations. The fabricated contents are usually chosen carefully to target the most sensitive issues in Iran, especially among conservatives wary of western lifestyles.
In a separate article with a revelatory tone, Vatan-e-Emrooz dedicated a full page to Kouhnavard’s life and her work at the BBC, relying on information from the fake accounts.
In the article, titled “network of corruption”, the newspaper introduces her as a spy for the British secret service who fled Iran illegally through the mountains with the help of an agent named Ghazanfar. In fact, Ghazanfar is the name of the journalist’s rooster doll, often referred to on her real Facebook page. The fake account has now been reported and closed down.
Googling Kouhnavard’s name still brings up fabricated news about her, leading to confusion among friends, relatives and genuine fans of her journalism.
Relatives of BBC staff in London detained and threatened by intelligence agents and one employee interrogated online
Iran has repeatedly jammed BBC Persian TV since it was founded in 2009. The latest bout of harassment comes against a background of sharply deteriorating relations between the UK and Iranian governments. Last November Britain shut its Tehran embassy after it was stormed by demonstrators in apparent retaliation for sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran’s London embassy was then ordered closed.
Tensions worsened in recent weeks after the closure of Press TV, the English-language Iranian state broadcaster, in London. The UK regulator, Ofcom, revoked its licence for breaching the Communications Act. BBC Persian staff say they believe Tehran wants to stop the channel covering the elections on 2 March.
Following weeks of angry internal debate about how to handle the issue, Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, on Friday issued a strongly worded complaint about “disturbing new tactics” and called on the Iranian government “to repudiate the actions of its officials”.
Anonymous callers or others using names such as the Cyber Army of Allah have accused BBC Persian staff of being drug dealers, converting to Bahaism or Chrstianity – potentially a capital offence in Iran as it is considered to be apostasy – or taking bribes. “We are well trained to cut these people off when they say rude or libellous things,” said Ghoddoosi, whose image has been used in pornographic montages posted on the internet. “They use F-words and C-words non-stop.”
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