11/08/2007, 00.00
IRAN
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Alarm bells going off around Tehran

by Paul Dakiki
Iran’s political, economic or legal woes are mounting. They range from statements by Bush and Sarkozy as well as Gulf states defence ministers to World Bank’s suspension of four projects and Interpol’s decision to uphold a decision taken to issue arrest warrants against top Iranian officials.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iran’s woes are not stopping any time soon. Interpol has now joined those who seem to be ganging up on the Islamic Republic. Alarm bells are going off all over the place. US President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agree that a nuclear capable Iran is a danger; the World Bank has suspended 5.4 million dollars' worth of aid; Interpol has rejected Tehran’s request to drop arrest warrants against five Iranian secret services officials and revolutionary guards who allegedly masterminded the 1994 Buenos Aires bombing that killed 85 people injuring many more, a crime that was apparently executed by the Lebanese group Hizbullah.

Yesterday French President Sarkozy publicly agreed with George Bush’s views on Iran’s nuclear programme, a development that must be politically worrisome for Tehran. By renewing Franco-American friendship, the two leaders sent a signal that they intend to keep the pressure on Iran, which just a day before had declared its intention not to stop its nuclear enrichment programme.

“The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous,” said President Bush at a press conference. Israel agrees. For this reason, it called for the removal of the current Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei who recently said that Iran’s nuclear programme was not dangerous.

A similar concern about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions was voiced by Saudi Deputy Defence Minister Prince Abdul Rahman Bin Abdul Aziz.

“All GCC (Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) states are preparing themselves on a continual basis regardless of anything that happens,” Prince Abdul Rahman said at the end of a summit of Gulf States foreign and defence ministers. The prince did give details about what he meant, but for many he was referring to a possible attack from Iran.

Elsewhere the World Bank suspended 5.4 million dollars' worth of aid scheduled for projects in Iran because of US financial sanctions against the Islamic republic. The sanctions targeted Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank, and Bank Mellat.

And at the Interpol’s last meeting in Marrakech (Morocco) two thirds of the 118 member states (out of 146) attending the gathering voted to reject an Iranian request to have charges in the Buenos Aires bombing dropped.

The July 1994 bombing levelled the seven-floor Argentine Israeli Mutual Association building in Buenos Aires.

Among those subject to an arrest warrant is Iran's former intelligence chief Ali Fallahian and the former head of the country's Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaei.

In November 2006 Argentina also issued arrest warrants against other Iranians, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati. But in March Interpol's executive committee withdrew its warrants against three of them.

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