|11-02-2005, 10:44 AM||#1|
Angling in the Deep
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Texas Riviera, Southern Mountains
Iran Removing 40 Ambassadors From Posts
It's apparent to me that Ahmadinejad has more power than has been let on by the Iranians.
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer 50 minutes ago
TEHRAN, Iran -
Iran's hard-line government said Wednesday it was removing 40 ambassadors and senior diplomats, including supporters of warmer ties with the West, from their posts in a shake-up that comes as the Islamic republic takes a more confrontational international stance.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced the changes to parliament, saying "the missions of more than 40 ambassadors and heads of Iranian diplomatic missions abroad will expire by the end of the year," which is March 20 under the Iranian calendar.
Iranians shout slogans, as they burn U.S. and Israeli flags during a demonstration in front of the former U.S. Embassy in a ceremony commemorating the 26th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy by militant students, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005. The demonstration came a week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel's eradication, saying the country should be 'wiped off the map.' (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Mottaki, quoted by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, did not specify which ambassadors were among those being removed.
But IRNA said they included the ambassador to London, Mohammad Hossein Adeli, one of Iran's top diplomats and a leading member of the pragmatic foreign policy wing that supports contacts with Europe.
The moves give the new government of ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the chance to purge pro-reform figures brought in by his predecessor, moderate
Mohammad Khatami, and install its own supporters.
Ahmadinejad has taken a tougher line on a number of issues, particularly negotiations with Britain, France and Germany over Iran's controversial nuclear program. Hard-liners have criticized Khatami's government for agreeing to freeze much of the country's atomic activities during the talks, and Ahmadinejad already has replaced much of the negotiating team with hard-liners.
The new president, elected in June, also generated a storm of international criticism last week when he called for
Israel's eradication, saying it should be "wiped off the map."
Tensions with Europe and the United States over the nuclear issue are high after Iran ended part of its freeze on nuclear activities earlier this year, resuming uranium conversion at a plant in Isfahan. Washington accuses Iran of secretly aiming to develop nuclear weapons, while Tehran counters that its nuclear program is for generating electricity.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, the
International Atomic Energy Agency, will review Iran's cooperation on the nuclear issue during a Nov. 24 meeting, and Washington is pressing for Tehran to be referred to the
U.N. Security Council, where it could face sanctions for violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Sanctions, however, are unlikely.
Iran is sending conflicting signals to an international community concerned about its nuclear agenda, granting U.N. inspectors access to a secret military site but also saying it would process a new batch of uranium that could be used to make atomic weapons, diplomats in Vienna, Austria, said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
The diplomats said IAEA experts were allowed to revisit a high-security military site in Parchin as they try to establish whether Tehran has a secret nuclear weapons program.
Parchin has been linked by the United States and other nations to alleged experiments linked to nuclear arms. The IAEA had for months been trying to follow up on a visit in January for further checks of buildings and areas within the sprawling military complex as it looks for traces of radioactivity.
Iran also has handed over documents and granted interviews with several senior officials believed linked to black market purchases of uranium enrichment technology, the diplomats said.
Ahmadinejad's victory in June elections sealed the decline of Iran's reform movement and solidified the control of hard-liners over the government. Some Iranians fear Ahmadinejad — a longtime member of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards — will bring back the policies of restrictions at home and confrontation abroad seen after the 1979 Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
On Wednesday, more than 10,000 demonstrators shouted "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" in front of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran in the largest such demonstration in years.
Hard-liners organize protests at the site annually to mark the anniversary of the Nov. 4, 1979 seizure of the embassy by student militants.
Demonstrators carried a large picture of Ahmadinejad emblazoned with his quote, "Israel must be wiped off the map." They burned U.S. and Israeli flags and effigies of
President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon. Some wore a traditional Palestinian kaffiyah headdress, symbolizing their readiness to fight Israel.
"We have to continue our confrontation with the United States and Israel. This could help the world get rid of the arrogant powers," the hard-line Jomhuri Eslami daily said in an editorial.