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Kevin Rudd's secret war on Iran

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Postby rath » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:13 am

This sounds familiar

February 04, 2010.

FOUR Australian shipments to Iran have been secretly blocked by Defence Minister John Faulkner amid fears the cargo was destined for use in a weapons-of-mass-destruction program.

As the international community considers tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear ambitions, the Australian government has taken extraordinary measures to prevent suspicious exports reaching the Middle East.

In a significant departure from conventional trade laws, Senator Faulkner has used powers afforded to him under the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act to demand local companies tear up their distribution contracts and abandon their foreign customers.

It is understood at least one prohibition notice related to a planned shipment of pumps that could have been used to cool nuclear power plants. The nature of the other shipments remains unclear.

The 15-year-old law had only been used once before - to secretly block another shipment to Iran in 2005 - but has now been used four times in as many months as the diplomatic and trade war with Iran escalates.

Australia has already imposed autonomous trade sanctions against Iran, and is considering a tougher stance, but they are largely enforced under different legislation.

Kevin Rudd has already taken aim at Iran over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vitriolic attacks on Israel, warning in 2008 Australia could seek to have him prosecuted for inciting genocide.

That was in response to the Iranian political leader's repeated claims that Israel should be wiped off the map. The Prime Minister denounced Mr Ahmadinejad's comments as "dangerous stuff ".

The WMD act is designed specifically to "prohibit the supply or export of goods that will or may be used in . . . the development, production, acquisition or stockpiling of weapons capable of causing mass destruction or missiles capable of delivering such weapons."

Senator Faulkner, acting on intelligence from his and other agencies, has issued prohibition orders to three companies which have sought to export such goods - one of which attempted to fulfil a second export contract only to be blocked again.

The companies were either trying to export directly to Iran or to destinations considered at risk of diversion to Iran.

The Australian understands other companies have been threatened with prohibition orders but voluntarily agreed to avoid any commercial dealings with possible associates of the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has declared Iran to be potentially the world's most pressing problem this year. The government is likely to raise the need for tougher sanctions during US President Barack Obama's visit next month.

While Mr Smith refused to comment yesterday, Senator Faulkner confirmed he had intervened to prevent Australia being used to potentially further Iran's WMD program.

"I do not make such decisions lightly," Senator Faulkner told The Australian.

"I am very conscious of commercial effects on any Australian company affected by such decisions."

Senator Faulkner said while those companies were consulted, he had an obligation to act on the available advice.

"There is nothing more that can be said publicly," he said.

Some of Iran's previous pump suppliers have been convicted and fined as part of a worldwide crackdown on the trade in WMD components.

Last month in the US, three men, including an Iranian-born chemical engineer, were charged over allegations that they attempted to ship pumps and other items to Iran, via the United Arab Emirates, and conceal the true value and nature of their shipments.

Senator Faulkner has no evidence that the WMD act has been breached and remains tight-lipped on the advice that led to the prohibition orders. In October 2008, the Rudd government imposed tougher sanctions against Iran but shied away from an election promise to take Mr Ahmadinejad to the world court for inciting genocide and threatening Israel.

More recently, Mr Smith has vowed to consider further sanctions if Iran continues to refuse to abandon its nuclear program.

Even with the trade sanctions, Australian exports to Iran increased significantly last year, surpassing $600 million for the first time in seven years.

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Postby rath » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:16 am

Axis of Deceit - BOOK ... By Andrew Wilkie - ... 10240.html

Senior intelligence officer, Andrew Wilkie, resigns in protest AM Archive - Wednesday, 12 March , 2003

Reporter: Catherine McGrath

LINDA MOTTRAM: Unable, he says, to sit and watch in silence as Australia drifts towards war with Iraq, Andrew Wilkie, a senior Australian intelligence officer is this morning jobless at his own hand, after his resignation in protest against the Howard Government's position.

He says he hopes his public comments will help open debate on the proposed war, which, on the basis of his work at the Office of National Assessments, he says could end in a military or humanitarian disaster, pushing Saddam Hussein, he says, towards the terrorist groups which the world now so fears.

Mr Wilkie also asserts that war is not about the fight against those groups, but rather about US politics.

Andrew Wilkie's credentials put him firmly in the camp of the establishment. He was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Australian Army, a Duntroon graduate who spent nearly 20 years in the infantry, before moving to the Office of National Assessments as a civilian, and that underscores the broad community base from which war opposition continues to come.

So does he expect to be vilified for his stance, a question our Chief Political Correspondent, Catherine McGrath, put to Mr Wilkie in Canberra last night.

ANDREW WILKIE: ONA's statement to the media yesterday, I think has tried to play down my access to information on the Iraq issue, as I would have expected them to do, and I would expect that sort of management of the issue to continue from within Government.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: You believe this war is bad policy, why?

ANDREW WILKIE: In essence, Catherine, I think that invading Iraq at this time would be wrong. For a start, Iraq does not pose a security threat to any other country at this point in time. Its military is very weak, it's a fraction of the size of the military at the time of the invasion of Kuwait. Its weapons of mass destruction program is very disjointed and contained by the regime that's been in place since the last Gulf War. And there is no hard intelligence linking the Iraqi regime to al-Qaeda in any substantial or worrisome way.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: Now this gets to the key of the problem for the Government with you going public yesterday, because Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, has emphasised this week, but has emphasised for months and months, the link between terrorism and Iraq, his belief that weapons of mass destruction will pass from Iraq to terrorist groups if Saddam Hussein is not stopped. Now you're saying that is completely untrue?

ANDREW WILKIE: What I'm saying, Catherine, is that the Iraq problem is unrelated to the war on terror, it's more related to US-Iraq bilateral relations, US domestic politics, the issue of US credibility and so on. It's unrelated to the war on terror and yes, Iraq as rogue state should worry us as a potential source of weapons to terrorists, but there are other ways to manage that risk.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: So do you believe containment of Saddam Hussein is possible, rather than military action?

ANDREW WILKIE: Yes. I think there should be more time allowed for a, a better, more developed strategy of containment to see how it goes. I mean, it may well be that we have to go to war against Iraq eventually, but we should be exploring better inspections and so on, before we go to that last resort.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: In terms of weapons of mass destruction, do you believe that if war goes ahead, it's more likely those weapons will end up in the hands of terrorist groups?

ANDREW WILKIE: What worries me is that a war, an invasion, is the option that's most likely to prompt Saddam to do exactly what we're trying to prevent. A war is what is most likely to force him to act recklessly, to possibly use weapons of mass destruction himself and to possibly play a terrorism card.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: If war goes ahead, if next week Australia is at war as part of this military coalition led by the United States, how do you think at the moment things are going to play out?

ANDREW WILKIE: A war at this time is just not worth the risk. I think there is too great a risk of a military or humanitarian disaster and I think there's a real risk that a war now will further inflame popular anti-western opinion in the Middle East and push Saddam closer towards al-Qaeda, and push us all just that little bit closer to the so-called, clash of civilisations, that we've so far managed to stay well clear of.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Former Office of National Assessments intelligence analyst, Andrew Wilkie, speaking to our Chief Political Correspondent, Catherine McGrath, in Canberra.

Britain: Parliamentary probe exposes lies on Iraqi weapons ... -j04.shtml

Death, 'Lies' & WMDs ... 0236.shtml ... 23604.html

Blair to face Iraq Inquiry ... aq-Inquiry
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Postby rath » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:20 am

Broadcast: 23/7/2002

Iraq to halve Australian wheat exports

Iraqi diplomats have delivered a blunt message on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime. The Iraqi Trade Minister has announced that Australian wheat exports to Iraq will be halved.


Compere: Tony Jones
Reporter: Jonathan Harley

It is not often we hear anything from Iraqi diplomats in Canberra, but today they had a blunt message to deliver on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime. It seems the Government's tough talk about Iraq has finally ruffled feathers in Baghdad.

So the reclusive diplomats were out and about explaining a statement the Iraqi Trade Minister had made overnight to the regime's official news agency. The minister announced that Australian wheat exports to Iraq will be halved.

If carried through, the decision will cancel 500,000 tonnes in grain orders.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says we'll find other markets, but farmers are not so relaxed.

JONATHAN HARLEY, REPORTER: All smiles with Washington may come at a high cost down on the farm. Last year, $800 million worth of wheat went to Iraq, but now that may be slashed.

SAAD ALSAMARAI, IRAQI CHARGE D'AFFAIRES: Australian troops will participate in attacking Iraq. So we are asking again, why?

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN MINISTER: At the end of the day, international security can't be held hostage to trade threats where there is a very serious international security issue at stake.

JONATHAN HARLEY: What's at stake, says the Opposition, is an unnecessary risk to at least $200 million in wheat exports.

KEVIN RUDD, SHADOW FOREIGN MINISTER: Over-the-top, Rambo rhetoric by a foreign minister who seems to be on steroids.

JONATHAN HARLEY: But if anything, Alexander Downer appears very relaxed about the threatened loss of an important market.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: All of the time we're looking to diversify our markets and have recently opened up the Libyan market to Australian wheat exports. So there are always opportunities for our wheat exporters.

JONATHAN HARLEY: But farmers, especially those in Western Australia, reliant on export markets, are worried.

COLIN NICHOLL, WA FARMERS' FEDERATION: There are not many markets in the world that would be available to take up any additional grain that wasn't sold to Iraq for Australian grain.

JONATHAN HARLEY: Meanwhile, advocates of applying greater diplomatic pressure on Iraq rather than the use of force, accuse the Howard Government of trying to have it both ways.

BILL HARTLEY, AUSTRALIA-IRAQI FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATION: It's saying we like the colour of your money, but not your politics and it's deeply offensive to the whole of the Arab world.

JONATHAN HARLEY: But trade and politics get entangled even among the best of friends. The United States has accused the Government of inflating the impact of its $135 billion hike in farm subsidies.

MICHAEL DELANEY, US EMBASSY: There's no obvious relationship between US farm income support and Australian farm income.

JONATHAN HARLEY: The Government is less than impressed.

JOHN ANDERSON, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: It is absolutely the wrong way to go and it will impact. There's no doubt about that.

JONATHAN HARLEY: All that does seem to be left in doubt is when, rather than if, US troops, backed by Australia, will lead an attack on Baghdad. Perhaps the Howard Government is bargaining on it being before serious harm is done to Australian wheat exports.

The AWB was an Australian government body known as the Australian Wheat Board until 1 July 1999, when the AWB was transformed into a private company, owned by wheat growers & the Australian Government. On 22 August 2001, AWB was floated on the Australian Stock Exchange.

AWB has been the subject of controversy recently, amid revelations that the company paid kickbacks to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. These revelations and the subsequent Cole Inquiry called by the Australian Government may result in criminal charges being brought against 12 current and former executives of AWB.

AWB exports "into more than 50 countries, with Australian wheat exports worth up to $5 billion per year" (AWB 2006). AWB had veto power over any other prospective exporters of wheat, which effectively eliminated competition on the export market for Australian wheat, thereby capturing freight differentials. Exports are typically managed through commodity pools, which are managed investment schemes. The beneficial interest in the export grain is distributed to participants in the commodity pool.

AWB has three core divisions - Rural Services, Financial Services and Commodity Management (which includes the National Pool). Rural Services and Financial Services offer products and services through the Landmark network, a 430 store retail distribution business serving rural Australia. Commodity management provides grain products to global customers with offices in Australia, Singapore, Tokyo, China, India, Geneva and Brazil.

Australian Wheat Board implicated in “oil-for-food scandal”

Scandal costs AWB its monopoly

Win-win for AWB as US lawsuit thrown out of court

THE fortunes of beleaguered wheat exporter AWB took two turns for the better yesterday, with a US lawsuit dismissed and outstanding issues with Iraq resolved.
The former means AWB faces just one legal battle in the US, which may itself be dismissed in the new year. The latter means trade may soon resume with Iraq.

Prior to the oil-for-food scandal that engulfed AWB in 2006, the wheat exporter had sold about $800 million a year of wheat to Iraq. It was the largest single supplier, and Iraq was among its biggest customers.

The trade collapsed in the wake of revelations that AWB had been paying kickbacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Iraq was at first reluctant to resume trade with Australia, buying most of its wheat from the US and other sources, and then AWB became reluctant to deal with Iraq because of continuing disputes over the cost of transport, storage and demurrage.

But in a statement yesterday, AWB said outstanding issues between it, Iraq's Ministry of Trade and the Grain Board of Iraq had been resolved, "paving the way for trade to resume".

AWB said it had a self-imposed ban on doing business with Iraq until the arguments about costs were resolved.

Now they are, it is in theory free to do business with Iraq. The disputes related to the 2005-06 grain pool. AWB managing director Gordon Davis said the resolution "opens the way for AWB to export wheat to Iraq in the future".

AWB shares rose slightly to $1.25 on the announcement before falling back to $1.24, but the stock is still down 40 per cent this year, and well down on the $6.50 peak reached before the scandal.

Also yesterday, the company announced that the US Court of Appeal dismissed a class action appeal by three Iraqi provinces, which had accused AWB of financing the Saddam regime, and denying them humanitarian aid that might otherwise have been forthcoming.

AWB said it had been advised that the US Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. The plaintiffs had appealed against the original verdict of the US District Court for the southern district of New York. The court had found in favour of AWB Ltd, AWB (USA) Ltd, BNP Paribas and Commodity Specialists.

The plaintiffs filed their appeal soon after the original case was dismissed in October last year.

An Australian class action, brought on behalf of shareholders, is still pending, and due to begin next month.

The Rudd government stripped AWB of its wheat marketing monopoly in 2006 for paying $300m in bribes to Saddam's regime.
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Postby rath » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:44 pm

Wheat Industry Supports U.S. Action Against AWB

U.S.A calls for dissolution of AWB in wake of Iraq scandal ... /mor22.pdf

U.S. wheat trade sees more sales to Iraq





(CNN) --- grisly photographs and videos have emerged From Australia that appear to show U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, some of whom were apparently forced to engage in sex acts.

The Australian television network SBS program "Dateline" broadcast the pictures and videos Wednesday night. One of the more graphic videos shows five men wearing hoods and masturbating for the camera, presumably under orders from their guards.

The photos and videos reportedly date from 2003 -- the same time that previously released photographs of prisoner abuse were taken.

Olivia Rousset, the SBS reporter on the story, said she came across the photographs while researching a story on guards at Abu Ghraib.

"We hope that the release of these photographs will bring about further pressure to hold high-ranking officials accountable for what we now know to have been systemic and widespread abuse occurring throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay," said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Amrit Singh on "Dateline," adding that she had not seen the images. (Watch why the hoods, nudity and poses suggest abuse -- 2:02)

Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, said he thought the timing of the new report was "unnecessarily provocative" and "irresponsible." He said any photos from that time period "do not reflect what is happening at Abu Ghraib now."

Interviewed before the photos and videos aired, Johnson said he hadn't seen the newly released images.

Publication of the original set of pictures sparked widespread international condemnation of the United States. (Gallery: Abu Ghraib pictures)

The newly released photographs appear to show more abuse, including cases of torture and sexual humiliation. They do not appear to show any new perpetrators.

In September, after the ACLU won access to those set of pictures via a Freedom of Information Act request, the U.S. government appealed the decision, tying up their release.

Mike Carey, executive producer of "Dateline," said on the SBS network's Web site that his program "obtained a file of hundreds of pictures, some that have been seen before and others that show new abuses."

Some images too graphic to air
The program did not show all of the pictures. It deemed some of them too graphic for air, Carey said.

Among the images broadcast were pictures of naked men who appeared to have suffered physical trauma, one of whom the report said had 11 nonlethal bullet wounds in his buttocks.

Other pictures show corpses, one of which the program said a U.S. Army report identified as one of three men killed during a riot over living conditions at the prison.

According to the TV report, two Abu Ghraib soldiers said that guards were ordered to use lethal rounds on prisoners after they ran out of rubber bullets trying to halt the riot.

One image depicts two women described by a guard to "Dateline" as prostitutes held at the prison for two days. In one picture, the breasts of one of the women are exposed.

Another grisly image shows a corpse that appears to have had a section torn from its head, while another one features a man whose arms are covered in purple bruises.

Also broadcast was video that appears to show a prisoner -- handcuffed to a metal door -- repeatedly slamming his head full force against the door. Though the guards appear to have videotaped the incident from several vantage points, no one is seen intervening to stop the prisoner.

The network said the man allegedly had mental problems and frequently covered himself in feces, but he was not given any psychiatric care.

The TV program obscured most of the prisoners' faces so they could not be identified.

The release of the photographs follows the release of a 2004 videotape apparently showing British soldiers beating Iraqis. Three people have been arrested in that case, which was condemned by Prime Minister Tony Blair. (Full story)

ACLU alleges orders came from brass
When the original set of Abu Ghraib photographs was released nearly two years ago, members of Congress said they had received a private viewing of other, unreleased pictures.

Seven low-ranking guards and two military intelligence soldiers -- described by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "bad apples" -- have been disciplined for offenses documented in the original pictures.

Last May, President Bush demoted Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib during the prison abuse scandal, to colonel. She had been formally relieved of command of the 800th military police brigade a month earlier.

Another officer, Col. Thomas Pappas, was reprimanded and fined.

The longest prison sentence -- 10 years -- was given to Army Cpl. Charles Graner, seen in many of the pictures. Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, a U.S. Army reservist from Virginia, received an eight-year sentence.

"Looking at the documents we've received under FOIA, it is very clear to us that the actions of these soldiers were part of a larger program to abuse detainees that was put in place by high-ranking officials," the ACLU's Singh told "Dateline."
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