Ahmadinejad, Black Panthers & Farrakhan Hold ‘Secret’ NY Rendezvous

The Blaze

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s trip to New York City reportedly expanded beyond meeting with foreign dignitaries at the United Nations.  According to the New York Post, the Iranian president’s six-night stay also included a “secret sit-down” with militant Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan and members of the New Black Panther Party:

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The President Must Stop Voting “Present” on Iran

The Heritage Foundation

Yesterday in Tehran’s Azadi Square, hundreds of thousands of Iranians turned out to listen to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Ahmadinejad did not disappoint the adoring crowd, defiantly announcing that Iran had become a “nuclear state,” adding: “The Iranian nation is brave enough that if one day we wanted to create an atomic bomb, we would announce it publicly and would create it.”

But the Iranian nation is not nearly as unified behind the current regime as yesterday’s production was meant to show. The supporters in Azadi Square had actually been bussed in by the regime from around the country. For weeks before the anniversary, the government had arrested students, photographers and journalists in an effort to disrupt the Green Movement which had successfully organized mass opposition demonstrations last year following Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent reelection. The government also slowed Internet service and shut down some social networking services to disrupt opposition communications. But even that wasn’t enough. When the Green Movement did manage to stage smaller counter-demonstrations, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia fired tear gas and beat them with clubs until the crowds dispersed.

And Ahmadinejad’s nuclear claims also might not be all they are cracked up to be. Former U.S. officials and independent nuclear experts tell The Washington Post that Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz has experienced declining output levels due to possible technical problems and possibly sabotage. Ahmadinejad’s “nuclear state” shows that the regime is determined to push ahead with its nuclear program despite international opposition. And it is clear that Iran continues to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium, which it could use to build a nuclear weapon.

That is a nuclear weapon which, coupled with Iran’s growing ballistic missile capability, could annihilate Israel. And Ahmadinejad did not ignore Israel on Tehran’s 31st anniversary. In a call to Syrian leader Bashar Assad, he warned Israel against attacking Syria, Lebanon or elsewhere in the region. Ahmadinejad’s phone call is a pointed signal to Israel that if it launches a preventive strike at Iran’s nuclear program, then Tehran will order Hezbollah to launch terrorist and rocket attacks against Israel. As Heritage scholar James Phillips has detailed, an Israeli strike on Iran would have serious implications for U.S. national security.

It is far past time for the Obama administration to admit its “don’t rock the boat” approach to the Iranian regime has failed. The Obama administration’s efforts to seek sanctions through the United Nations are a nice thought, but considering guaranteed opposition from China and Russia, any realistic strategy must also look outside the United Nations. Washington therefore must think outside the U.N. box and press its allies and other countries to impose stronger sanctions outside the U.N. framework. Iran would be hard hit by bans on foreign investment, gasoline exports, trade with firms affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and other measures undertaken by the European Union, Japan, India, the Gulf Cooperation Council or other countries.

The Obama administration should also take a lesson from Ronald Reagan and step-up its public diplomacy efforts to support the Green Movement. The U.S. government should announce that regime change is official U.S. policy, step-up support for Radio Free Iran, and continue to work with Iranians abroad setting up pro-democracy Web sites. The administration’s current course is heading to a dangerous place. The President cannot keep doing the bare minimum and hope the Iranian regime plays nice.

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Ahmadinejad Says Iran Is Now a ‘Nuclear State’

Fox News

TEHRAN, Iran —  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed Thursday that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program a day after the U.S. imposed new sanctions.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated to hundreds of thousands of cheering Iranians on the anniversary of the 1979 foundation of the Islamic republic that the country was now a “nuclear state,” an announcement he’s made before. He insisted that Iran had no intention of building nuclear weapons.

It was not clear how much enriched material had actually been produced just two days after the process was announced to have started.

The United States and some of its allies accuse Tehran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear weapons but Tehran denies the charge, saying the program is just geared toward generating electricity.

“I want to announce with a loud voice here that the first package of 20 percent fuel was produced and provided to the scientists,” he said.

Enriching uranium produces fuel for a nuclear power plants but can also be used to create material for atomic weapons if enriched further to 90 percent or more.

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“We have the capability to enrich uranium more than 20 percent or 80 percent but we don’t enrich (to this level) because we don’t need it,” he said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Iran announced Tuesday it was beginning the process of enriching its uranium stockpile to a higher level. The international community reacted by starting the process to impose new sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. Treasury Department went ahead on Wednesday and froze the assets in U.S. jurisdictions of a Revolutionary Guard general and four subsidiaries of a construction firm he runs for their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.

Tehran has said it wants to further enrich the uranium — which is still substantially below the 90 percent plus level used in the fissile core of nuclear warheads — as a part of a plan to fuel its research reactor that provides medical isotopes to hundreds of thousands of Iranians undergoing cancer treatment.

But the West says Tehran is not capable of turning the material into the fuel rods needed by the reactor. Instead it fears that Iran wants to enrich the uranium to make nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran’s position that it was not seeking to build nuclear weapons.

“When we say we do not manufacture the bomb, we mean it, and we do not believe in manufacturing a bomb,” he told the crowd. “If we wanted to manufacture a bomb, we would announce it.”

“We told them the Iranian nation will never give in to bullying and illogical remarks,” he said.

Western powers blame Iran for rejecting an internationally endorsed plan to export its low enriched uranium to have it further enriched abroad and returned to the country in the form of fuel rods for the Tehran reactor.

Iran, in turn, asserts it had no choice but to start enriching to higher levels because its suggested changes to the international plan were rejected.

The president said Iran will triple the production of its low-enriched uranium in the future but didn’t elaborate.

“God willing, daily production (of low enriched uranium) will be tripled,” he said.

A confidential document from the U.N. nuclear agency shared Wednesday with The Associated Press said Iran’s initial effort at higher enrichment is modest, using only a small amount of feedstock and a fraction of its capacities.

The document, relying on onsite reports from International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, also cited Iranian experts at the country’s enrichment plant at Natanz as saying that only about 10 kilograms — 22 pounds — of low enriched uranium had been fed into the cascade for further enrichment.

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