Iran’s top diplomat accused the United States and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday of kidnapping one of its nuclear scientists.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters that Shahram Amiri, who worked for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a summer religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. He said Tehran had evidence that the U.S. was involved in the disappearance.
“The U.S. should give back our compatriots based on the call of their family and people,” Mottaki told reporters during an appearance with his United Arab Emirates counterpart, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. [continued…]
Back in the spring, and several times since then, President Obama suggested that if progress hasn’t been made in the talks with Iran, he’d move toward harsher measures, including what Secretary of State Clinton has called “crippling sanctions.” That time is drawing near, and assorted hawks are clamoring now for Obama to put up or shut up. “You said you’d get tough with Iran,” they’re saying. “The time is now.”
Of course, the time isn’t now. After the October 1 session in Geneva, where some limited success was achieved, the talks have stalled, exactly as I (and many others) predicted. Iran’s internal politics is muddled, and neither the Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, nor President Ahmadinejad, are in a position to strike a deal with the Great Satan just now. They’re under attack from conservatives and reformists opposed to the Oct. 1 deal, which would have sent the bulk of Iran’s enriched uranium to Russia and France for processing, and the anti-Ahmadinejad opposition is showing renewed signs of strength, as evidenced by this week’s round of demonstrations by students and others.
But, in spite of the apparent consensus among the big powers – which produced a tough new resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency last month – there’s zero chance that either Russia or China will support anything like the embargo on refined oil and gasoline that Obama, in the past, has said he supports. And other key countries, such as India, which has good relations with Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, through which much of Iran’s gasoline imports are transshipped, aren’t likely to back sanctions either. The very best Obama could get, if he goes to the UN Security Council for yet another round of sanctions, is another symbolic set of sanctions that have no force at all. [continued…]
Iran’s broadest and most violent protest in months spilled over into a second day on Tuesday, as bloody clashes broke out on university campuses between students chanting antigovernment slogans and the police and Basij militia members.
As the scale of Monday’s demonstrations became clearer, Tehran’s police chief announced that 204 people had been arrested in the capital, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported. The clashes took place on campuses in cities across the country, as students and opposition members took advantage of National Student Day to vent their rage despite a lengthy and wide-ranging government effort to forestall them.
The violence continued Tuesday on the campus of Tehran University, where security forces were using tear gas and arresting students, according to reports and video clips relayed through Twitter and Internet postings. There were protests at large squares near the university as well, witnesses said. Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported that the clashes began after groups of pro-government students carrying pictures of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, clashed with protesters on campus. [continued…]