15 November 2004, Volume 7, Number 40
TEHRAN SENDS TERRORISM ORGANIZERS TO ARAFAT'S FUNERAL. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's death will not only affect the Palestinian nationalist movement internally, but it will also have an impact on the authority's relationship with other countries, particularly Iran.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has come to be dominated by members of Arafat's ruling Fatah party, and with his passing the PA might become more open to people from other Palestinian organizations. Tehran has relations with the PA and with Fatah -- Arafat visited Iran in August 2000 -- and it materially supports more extreme Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command (PFLP-GC).
Notable in this context is the makeup and announced plans of the official delegation Tehran sent to Arafat's 12 November funeral procession in Cairo. Parliamentarians, Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, who is secretary-general of the Support for Palestinian Intifada conference series, and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi would represent Iran at the funeral procession, ILNA reported on 11 November. "Mohtashami-Pur is expected to hold talks with representatives of a number of Palestinian movements while in Cairo," ILNA added. Mohtashami-Pur made his mark as a founder of Lebanese Hizballah when he was ambassador to Damascus in the 1980s, and he has maintained his relationship with Hizballah since that time. Representatives of Hizballah, Hamas, the PIJ, the PFLP-GC, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, and Fatah Uprising met at his April 2001 and June 2002 "Support for the Palestinian Intifada" conferences.
One of the Iranian legislators who attended the funeral procession is Hussein Sheikholeslam, IRNA reported. Sheikholeslam is a former ambassador to Damascus and one of the "students" who held U.S. diplomats and military personnel hostage from 1979-81. In the 1980s, Sheikholeslam was the Foreign Ministry's director for Arab affairs and, in this position, he coordinated Islamic Revolution Guards Corps participation in Hizballah operations. He was Mohtashami-Pur's Foreign Ministry contact in connection with the April 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
The revolutionaries who took power in Iran after 1979 had good relation's with Arafat's movement, Professor Sadegh Zibakalam told Radio Farda on 11 November. Relations deteriorated badly during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, however, when the Palestinians threw their support behind Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and their Arab brethren, Zibakalam added.
After his death was announced, statements from Tehran praised Arafat, condemned Israel, and called for Palestinian unity against Israel. Arafat's name and Palestine are permanently linked, according to an Iranian government statement cited by the official Islamic Republic News Agency on 11 November. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said Iran offers its condolences to "the oppressed Palestinian people," IRNA reported, and Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani also offered his condolences.
The government statement was aggressive in tone, as it concluded by saying, "Israel, which only understands the language of force and violence, is incapable of confronting the intifada and the anger of Palestinians." It also demanded the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its headquarters, the return of Palestinian refugees, and an end to the occupation.
Unity was a common thread in the other statements. "What is important now is that the Palestinian people understand the current sensitive situation and, by maintaining unity, they defuse the plots of the Zionist regime," Assefi said, as he warned that Israel is trying to exploit the situation. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, meanwhile, urged Palestinians to set aside their differences and practice unity to consider the nature of the alleged threat facing them.
Tehran's call for unity, coming at the same time as Mohtashami-Pur's meeting with the Palestinian groups, is indicative of what the subject of conversation will be. Timing, too, is relevant here.
On the same day as Arafat's funeral, 12 November, Iran commemorated Qods Day (Jerusalem Day). The founder of Iran's Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, declared that the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan (12 November this year) would be marked annually as Qods Day. In his 5 November Friday prayers sermon, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged his compatriots to participate in the state-organized rallies, state radio reported. He praised Palestinian "resistance" against Israel and he criticized the international community's "silence." "America is an accomplice itself," he added. "The hands of American administrations are stained with the blood of Palestinians right up to their arms. If a court there was to rule in the Palestinian case, the accused would not be only [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon and the Zionists. The Americans accused in this case are also people such as Bush, his gangs, and American administrations."
Khamenei then switched to Arabic, presumably so audiences in other countries would understand the sermon when it is rebroadcast by Iran's Arabic-language media, and discussed Qods Day some more. He discussed "crimes committed by the usurping Zionist regime," the Islamic community's pride in Palestinians' courage, and the silence of regimes that claim to defend human rights.
On 12 November, according to IRNA, people gathered at Tehran University to participate in the Qods Day rally. In the Friday prayers sermon after the rally, Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said the Palestinian problem will continue until Western powers cut their support for Israel, IRNA reported. He added that the only way to solve the leadership void left by Arafat's death is to hold free elections.
Rafsanjani told his congregation that the Palestinian issue affects Iranian domestic and foreign affairs. But the makeup of the Iranian delegation at Arafat's funeral suggests that Iran is trying to extend its currently limited influence over activities in the West Bank and Gaza, and over Palestinian politics in general. (Bill Samii)
WHITE HOUSE CONTINUES 'NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAN'... Because U.S. relations with Iran have not yet "returned to normal," U.S. President George W. Bush on 9 November authorized for another year the continuation of the "national emergency with respect to Iran," according to the State Department website (http://usinfo.state.gov). President Jimmy Carter originally declared this national emergency on 14 November 1979 by Executive Order 12170, "to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the situation in Iran." (Bill Samii)
...AS SECRETARY OF STATE TO MEET IRANIANS. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, at a 9 November news conference in Mexico City, that he expects to meet Iranian officials at a conference on Iraq that will take place in Egypt later in the month, voa.com reported. Powell added that an agenda for specific meetings has not been set yet. Anonymous U.S. government officials told Reuters on 12 November that the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting could provide the opportunity to discuss U.S. concerns "more directly."
Iranian legislator Alaedin Borujerdi said on 10 November that not much should be read into Powell's statement, because the two countries have met at multilateral forums in the past, the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported. This is distinct from bilateral talks, Borujerdi said, and it demonstrates U.S. concern that it is being left behind the Europeans in discussions about the nuclear issue. An Iranian international relations expert named Morad Veysi described Powell's statement as an effort to pressure Tehran and the Europeans in their nuclear negotiations. If the Americans only want to discuss Iraq and Afghanistan, Veysi added, that is of no benefit to Iran.
In what could be interpreted as a gesture to Tehran, Powell said in a 13 November interview with CNBC's "Wall Street Journal Report" that Washington is not considering regime change in Iran. (Bill Samii)
FOREIGN MINISTER RESUMES PERSIAN GULF TOUR. On the heels of his visits to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 1 November 2004), Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi made a one-day trip to Doha, Qatar, on 31 October, IRNA reported. While there, he met with the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, as well as Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabar al-Thani, who serves as first deputy prime minister and foreign minister. A major topic of conversation was events in Iraq, with Kharrazi reportedly saying that a free election there would contribute to security and could lead to the withdrawal of occupation forces. Kharrazi also reassured Sheikh Hamad about Iran's nuclear activities, telling his host that Iran is willing to work with other countries to prove that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons. According to a 1 November Foreign Ministry press release, Kharrazi also stressed that regional security can be enhanced through cooperation.
In Tehran the same day, Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Admiral Ali Shamkhani told reporters that Iran would like to enter a nonaggression pact with neighboring states, Mehr News Agency reported.
Kharrazi left for Bahrain on 8 November, IRNA reported. The news agency added that the main topics of discussion will be events in Iraq and Palestine. One day earlier, President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami congratulated the U.A.E.'s new ruler, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan, IRNA reported. He succeeds Sheikh Zayid Bin Sultan al-Nuhayyan, who died on 2 November. First Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref-Yazdi attended the funeral, which took place on 3 November. (Bill Samii)
IRAQI DEFENSE MINISTER AGAIN ACCUSES IRAN OF MEDDLING. Hazim al-Sha'lan al-Khuza'i has again accused Iran of meddling in Iraq's internal affairs, IRNA reported on 31 October, citing the Kuwaiti daily "Al-Rai al-Aam." Al-Sha'lan reportedly said that Iraq has "firm evidence" of Iranian interference, without giving further details. Iran has denied such accusations in the past.
Separately, Iraqi authorities have arrested 94 Iranians and Afghans crossing into southern Iraq, AP reported on 31 October, citing an unnamed military official who gave no date for the arrests. The infiltrators had no travel documents or had faulty papers, and an Iraqi court has ordered their expulsion, the official told AP. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Assefi said in Tehran that Iranian police and security forces are working hard to block the illegal flow of arms and individuals into Iraq, though "on rare occasions" people evade controls, ISNA reported on 31 October. (Vahid Sepehri)
IRAN REPORTEDLY TRAINING KURDS FOR COUNTERINSURGENCY. The pro-PKK/Kongra-Gel newspaper "Ozgur Politika" and "Ortadugu," an Istanbul daily that supports the right-wing Nationalist Action Party, reported on 6 November that the Iranian government intends to use Kurdish tribesmen as militiamen. Iranian officials are quoted as having told their Turkish counterparts that they will train, arm, and pay the Kurds. "Ozgur Politika" added that these forces, which are cooperating with Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, will be used against Kurdish insurgents as part of an earlier Iran-Turkey joint security operation (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 12, 19, 26 July and 9 August 2004).
"The Boston Globe" on 7 November quoted PUK officials who charged that Iran is aiding members of the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam group and Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's group in Iraq.
A firefight erupted between Iranian soldiers and eight men with the Kurdish-nationalist PKK/Kongra Gel, the Baztab website (http://www.baztab.com) reported on 9 November, and one soldier was wounded. The incident occurred in the Dalman region near the West Azerbaijan Province city of Urumiyeh. According to Baztab, PKK splinter groups sometimes infiltrate Iran to extort food or money from villagers.
There are several possible explanations for these reported events. Tehran's imputed actions could be linked to a report in the 28 June issue of "The New Yorker," that asserts that Israeli military and intelligence specialists are training Kurdish commandos and have penetrated Iranian territory to install devices that target suspected Iranian nuclear facilities. The Iranian military's arming of villagers in the northwest and forming them into civil defense units, furthermore, is very similar to what took place along the eastern borders several years ago (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 18 September and 30 October 2000). The creation of such units is a common counterinsurgency tool that has precedents in Turkey, Vietnam, and elsewhere. (Bill Samii)
TEHRAN PREPARED TO RETALIATE IF ATTACKED. Deputy Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr told high-school students attending a conference called "The World Without America" that the United States is guilty of many crimes, Reuters reported. "The world without America is a world without oppression, without terror, without invasion, without massacre," Zolqadr said. He went on to describe actions such as the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Zolqadr also said that if anyone attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, the country will strike back anywhere, Fars News Agency reported. Zolqadr said Iran has developed a new military doctrine based on experience in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War as well as observation of the more recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Zolqadr said Iran opposes the use of unconventional weapons and prefers to rely on 10 million (his figure) trained Basijis and 1 million military personnel. "In view of Iran's powerful force, the enemy will never dare to fight against Iran," he concluded. (Bill Samii)
IRAN CLAIMS IT CAN MASS PRODUCE MISSILES. In response to a question about a possible pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Admiral Ali Shamkhani said on 9 November that Iran is not worried because it can mass produce the Shihab-3 missile, ISNA reported. "We have no problem in maintaining the defense capabilities of the country, we have passed that [stage] and scientific steps have been taken in this respect," Shamkhani said. "With regard to the production of Shihab-3 missiles, we have reached the point that we can now mass produce Shihab-3 missiles like Peykan [cars]." A reporter asked Shamkhani about the alleged production of a missile with a 4,000 kilometer range, but Shamkhani responded, "The Zionists say this and they mean we want to threaten Europe. But, neither do we feel any threat from Europe, nor do we feel the need to invest in this respect." (Bill Samii)
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION DATE DEBATED. Interior Minister Hojatoleslam Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari announced, in a letter to the Guardians Council, that Iran's ninth presidential election will take place on 13 May 2005, ISNA reported on 7 November, citing Interior Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani. An anonymous "informed source" said in mid-October that the Guardians Council is likely to approve a proposal that the election take place on 9 June (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 25 October 2004).
Guardians Council spokesman Gholam Hussein Elham said on 13 November that the Interior Ministry's desired date is too early, IRNA reported. Elham said the council prefers the date of 2 May, rather than 5 April, for the registration of candidates. In 2001, prospective candidates registered from 2-6 May, the Guardians Council announced eligible candidates on 18 May, campaigning took place from 19 May-6 June, and the election took place on 8 June. Elham explained the council's objection: "The election law has not been observed in setting the date for the presidential election. According to articles one and three of the Electoral Law, the Interior Ministry is required to do executive preliminaries for the presidential election three months ahead of the expiry of the president's term on 2 August 2005." (Bill Samii)
PROVINCIAL UNREST OCCURS THROUGHOUT COUNTRY. The daily "Jomhuri-yi Islami" reported on 31 October that a group of Wahhabi extremists with official Pakistani backing is planning to assassinate local officials in Iran's Sistan va Baluchistan Province. The group intends to spark unrest in the eastern part of the country, the daily added. The majority of the province's population practices Sunni Islam, and provincial Baluchis have stronger ties with co-ethnics in Pakistan that with the Persian-dominated and Shi'a-centric central government in Tehran. Moreover, Minister of Intelligence and Security Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi has complained about efforts to encourage sectarian strife in the country (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 3 and 10 March 2003, 6 September and 11 October 2004).
Hamid Shokri, governor of the West Azerbaijan Province town of Miyandoab, said on 3 November that all the people involved in the late-September unrest there have been arrested, ISNA reported. A police chief and several other officers were killed at that time (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 4 October 2004). Shokri said the main culprits will be found after the detainees are interrogated. He added that there will not be a recurrence of the unrest due to recently implemented security measures.
Nader Sadeqi, the West Azerbaijan Province director-general for political and security affairs, said on 3 November that Sahand Ali Mohammadi, Bakhsh Ali Mohammadi, and Abdullah Qasemzadeh surrendered to the authorities, ISNA reported. Sadeqi did not explain if this development is related to the late September violence in Miyandoab.
The Baztab website reported on 9 November that three people, including a police officer, were killed and three others were wounded during a dispute in Rafsanjan, Kerman Province, over the digging of a water well. Two hundred people from Ismailabad village had gathered to protest the digging of a well, in territory they claimed as their own, by people from Dolatabad village. Armed villagers turned on the security personnel sent to calm the situation and there was an exchange of gunfire. (Bill Samii)
NORTH KOREA EXPORTS NUCLEAR GOODS TO IRAN. An anonymous military source has said that in May, Iran imported fluorine gas from North Korea, "Sankei Shimbun" reported on 7 November. Uranium hexafluoride, which is used in uranium enrichment, can be generated by compounding uranium tetrafluoride with fluorine gas, according to the Japanese newspaper. (Bill Samii)
IAEA CHIEF CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC OVER IRAN-EU DEAL. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed el-Baradei said on 8 November that he still has to confirm details of a tentative deal reached between the European Union's "Big Three" - the U.K., France, and Germany -- and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program. "I am told it is still a very tentative agreement; it has not yet been confirmed," he said. "I have been talking to both parties, and I would hope, however, that in the next few days, when they are going to regroup, that they would put the final seal of approval on that agreement. I think that it would absolutely be a step in the right direction."
Under the deal -- outlined on 6 November -- Iran would freeze all nuclear fuel enrichment and reprocessing activities until it has reached a final agreement with the EU over a package of economic, technological, and security incentives. The goal would be for Iran to abandon activities that could potentially be used to make nuclear weapons. The terms are said to be similar to an agreement reached last year, but the language is reportedly more detailed about what Iran must do and what the EU states will provide.
El-Baradei said he hopes the deal will include the suspension of uranium-enrichment activities in Iran as a sign of good faith by Tehran. In his words: "What the international community is asking Iran, that at least for now, is to suspend all [nuclear enrichment] activities as a confidence-building measure. And I have been subscribing to that. I have been telling my Iranian colleagues: 'Do your utmost to create confidence, adopt a policy of full transparency, because that is a way you can then initiate a process of dialogue, which is very much needed between Iran and the rest of the world.'"
Mohammad-Reza Djalili, a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, says news of the agreement is at a minimum a sign the two sides are still serious about negotiations. "The only thing we can deduce is that negotiations are not interrupted and that both sides are trying to find a 'modus vivendi,'" Djalili said. "Iranians are doing everything to avoid [referral to] the [UN] Security Council without definitively renouncing uranium enrichment. They want to reach an agreement on a [temporary] interruption of enrichment. Neither Europeans nor Iranians want to stop talks. There will be some more steps before 25 November."
Washington accuses Tehran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian atomic energy program and wants the IAEA to refer Tehran to the Security Council when the agency meets in Vienna on 25 November. Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is only for energy. (Antoine Blua)
CHICKEN INDUSTRY ALL AFLUTTER. Mohammad-Ali Kamali, who heads the Karaj-based Institute of Research on Livestock Sciences, said on 7 November that the level of chicken consumption in Iran is approaching that of Europe, ThePoultrySite.com reported. The site describes itself as "a free information resource for the global poultry industry, supported by some of the key industry players." Kamali explained that each Iranian eats 15.2 kilograms of chicken annually, compared to 17.8 kilograms in Europe and 11.2 kilograms globally. Kamali also said that Iranian chicken production stands at 1.1 million tons this year, and it will reach 2.063 million tons in 10 years.
The Iranian chicken sector has encountered difficulties in the last few years. Kamali said on 7 January that the country's livestock exports have problems with packaging and quality, as well as meeting international standards, IRNA reported. In late January, the Iran Veterinary Organization urged the country's chicken farmers not to import any poultry from countries affected by a lethal strain of avian flu (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 2 February 2004). And on 7 May 2002 state television reported that an outbreak of chicken influenza was threatening producers and breeders with even greater damage than a similar outbreak the previous year. (Bill Samii)
JOB CREATION FALLS SHORT OF TARGET... Management and Planning Organization official Mahmud Ketabchi said on 6 November that job creation fell short of its target in the first four years of the Third Five-Year Development Plan, IRNA reported on 7 November. He explained that 2.28 million jobs were created in 2000-2004, while the target was 2.57 million jobs. Over the next 17 years, he added, the country will need 32 million jobs. (Bill Samii)
...AS CURRENCY RESERVES INCREASE. An anonymous official with Iran's Currency Reserve Fund announced on 6 November that the fund will receive an additional $10 billion this year as a result of oil price increases, state television reported. Oil and oil products account for 90 percent of Iran's exports and export revenues, according to the Energy Information Administration (http://www.eia.doe.gov), and for every $1 increase in the price of a barrel of oil, Iran's revenues reportedly increase by around $900 million. (Bill Samii)
IRAN TO EXTEND CREDIT-RISK INSURANCE FOR EXPORTS TO NEIGHBORS. Noruz Kohzadi, governor of the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran, said on 8 November that the cabinet has approved the provision of insurance coverage for exports to Afghanistan and Iran, IRNA reported. This means that the guarantee fund will cover possible nonpayment of loans to any Iranian bank that provides credit for exports to the two countries. The credit ceiling is $300 million for Iraq and from $50 million-$100 million for Afghanistan. (Bill Samii)
CHINA LOOKING TO IRAN TO FUEL ITS ECONOMY. China's economy is booming, as witnessed by its skyrocketing energy needs. Oil imports have doubled over the past five years and surged nearly 40 percent during the first eight months of 2004 alone. In an effort to secure future energy reserves, state oil trader Zhuhai Zhenrong agreed earlier this year to buy $20 billion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iran over the next 25 years. More recently, Beijing signed a much bigger accord with Tehran, under which China will buy Iranian oil and gas and help develop the country's giant Yadavaran oil field.
Jean-Philippe Beja, a specialist on contemporary Chinese policy at the Center for International Studies and Research (CERI) in Paris, says the new agreements will help China meet its soaring demand for fuel. "China, which is experiencing extremely fast [economic] growth, increasingly needs energy. So, it needs to import more and more oil and gas for at least half its consumption. It currently imports massively from the Middle East. In order to ease its dependence on relatively pro-American governments, China is seeking to sign agreements with Iran," he said.
Reports differ on the scale of the energy deal signed during a visit to Beijing last month by Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.
According to a 30 October report by China's Xinhua news agency, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding committing China's large oil firm Sinopec to buy 250 million tons of LNG from Iran over the next 30 years. Tehran would also export 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to China after Sinopec helps to develop Iran's Yadavaran oil field. Xinhua valued the deal at $70,000 million.
The memorandum provides for LNG sales of 10 million tons a year for 25 years, IRNA reported. IRNA also reported that a second accord was signed, envisaging the construction of a gas condensates refinery in the southern Iranian city of Bandar Abbas within the next three years.
Ben Faulks, a Middle East analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, points out the agreements come at a time when Tehran "badly needs" foreign investment. "The pace of Western investment in the Iranian oil industries has been pretty slow recently, for two main reasons. There are concerns over contractual arrangements that Iran imposes on any kind of agreement. And secondly, for political reasons. Iran badly needs foreign investment in its oil industry. And therefore, there's a practical reason for it to turn to Asian consumers. China is one of them and, in fact, the most significant."
No timeframe has been set for finalizing the investments. LNG deliveries will not begin for at least five years, while the Yadavaran oil field will take at least four years to develop.
Hooman Peimani, a senior research fellow at the Center for International Cooperation and Security at the University of Bradford in Britain, says that, beyond the economic aspects, the arrangements have political significance. "Iran and China are getting closer and they do not see each other as potential enemies. The message is clear. China is not going to follow the American foreign policy all the way," Peimani said.
Following the signing of the deal, China backed Iran in its standoff with the IAEA over its suspected nuclear program. Beijing said it opposes U.S. efforts to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. China -- as one of the five permanent members -- holds a veto on the Security Council.
However, Beja notes that the Chinese leadership is facing the enormous task of developing the country to Western levels. Until this objective is reached -- perhaps in one or two decades -- he says Beijing will continue to see the United States as the world's only superpower, with which it is preferable to avoid conflicts and provocations. "Once in a while, China can provide some support to Iran at the United Nations Security Council," Beja said. "But it is definitively not ready to put into question its relations with the United States to defend Iran. So it will not go as far as opposing the United States if [Washington] is really eager to take a decision on Iran."
Washington accuses Tehran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program. The Bush administration wants the IAEA to refer Tehran to the Security Council when the UN's nuclear watchdog meets on 25 November. Iran denies the allegations. (Antoine Blua)