April 08, 2005

92 per cent `secular', 98 per cent pseudo

92 per cent `secular', 98 per cent pseudo

It is interesting, also instructive. It is about a chat on the Net in an Irish website ``Politics.ie'' hosted by ``The Irish Politics Forum'', a politically conscious group. The subject of the chat was: `No national day of mourning' for the Pope in Ireland. Catholics make up 92 per cent of the Irish population. For the Irish, Catholicism is not just religion; it is a cult. Yet, the Irish Prime Minister refused to declare state mourning for the Pope. This triggered the chat.

``My daughter and I are sitting here just having heard Egypt and India are having a day of national mourning for the death of Pope John Paul, but Ireland is not having one. What a country we have turned into.... We will not give in to people's wishes.'' This is how an Irish mourner started on the Net. The time then was 9.44 a.m. on April 3. Within minutes, at 9.48 a.m., another intervened. ``What makes you think `the people' want a national day of mourning?'' he asked. ``Would I get a day off? Should we have a national day of mourning when the Dalai Lama and Ayatollah die as well?'' he questioned.

A third one joined the chat at 9.52 a.m. ``I am not a Catholic,'' he said and continued: ``If we can get a day off I am all for it. If we don't, I do not see the point of declaring national days of mourning for international figures.'' For him, the Pope was like any `international figure'. Instantly, a fourth one came on the chat and said, ``We have to be mindful not to hurt anti-Catholic people's feelings.'' That is, state mourning would hurt the 4 per cent Protestants.

``Why don't the people who wish to mourn the Pope just take a day off? Isn't that freedom to worship?'' asked one chatter. Another said, ``Surely national mourning for the leader of the Church would mean the same for others - Queen Elizabeth, leader of her Church for 53 years. Ian Paisley, leader of his Church for 29 years. Also Dalai Lama. I am a Catholic who practices once a week. My way of remembering is to sign the condolence book in Pro-Cathedral. Death of Pope will not change the world as the deaths of 9/11 did.'' Thus went on the debate in a 92 per cent Catholic nation.

Imagine such a chat in India whose 98 per cent population is non-Christian. The seculars would have set upon the chatters.

Equally instructive is the story in another Catholic nation, France. Of the French, 90 per cent are Roman Catholics. Yes, Roman Catholics whose head is the Pope. Minorities are just 4 per cent - 2 per cent Protestants, 1 per cent Jewish, 1 per cent Muslims - and the unaffiliated 6 per cent. French President Jacques Chirac ordered the national flag to fly at half mast for the Pope.

Secular politicians of France tore him apart for making the national symbol fly at half mast. They also questioned Chirac and other officials who are planning to go for Pope's funeral.

Not just Ireland and France. The Christian US did not, nor did other European Christian nations declare state mourning. Not England, not Germany, not Holland, nor the Scandinavian countries. Not Russia. Not Greece. Not even the most Catholic nation, Spain. Of about a hundred Christian nations hardly a dozen, most of them insignificant, declared state mourning. Except Italy and Canada no significant ones did. Egypt was the only Muslim nation to mourn officially. China has banned Chinese Christians from recognising the Pope.

But look at home here, India, whose 98 per cent population is non-Christian. `Secular' India followed, of all nations, the unsecular, all-Christian Italy. Italy was the first to declare three-day mourning. India followed promptly, but soon got into trouble. After declaring state mourning for three days, officials quickly remembered that the Uzbek Prime Minister was to start his visit to India from April 6, the third day of mourning. But with mourning announced already, frantic messages were sent to Uzbek government to defer the visit by two days. But their schedule was too tight to oblige us. So a compromise was struck within the government. The three-day mourning was divided into two parts: first two days of mourning, then an interval of three days - so the Uzbek Prime Minister's programmes are accommodated in the interval - and the third day of mourning deferred to the funeral day! By following the Italian three-day mourning norm, our government got into a mess and barely escaped.

But, why should the `secular' Indian state mourn for the Roman Catholic Pope? Obviously, we cannot declare state mourning for a religious leader. If we did, that would open a Pandora's box. A religious country with hundreds of religious leaders would fly its flag at half mast most of the time should the state have a policy of declaring state mourning for all religious leaders. So, at least on record, the mourning is not for the head of the Catholics but for the head of Vatican state. But this interpretation makes things worse. If the Pope were the head of the Vatican state, how come three Cardinals from India are flying to vote at Vatican to elect the new head of the Vatican state? Who are they - citizens of India or citizens of Vatican?

Writer's email: comment@gurumurthy.net

Oil Price Should Reach $100 Per Barrel

Oil Price Should Reach $100 Per Barrel

Sharq, Daily Newspaper, Mar. 16th, 2005
Word Count : 5190

Chairman of the Energy Commission of the Majlis Kamal Daneshyar says the price of OPEC oil should reach $100 per barrel. He believes the low price of oil is due to the influence of the U.S. and Israel over the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The following is the text of his interview with Sharq daily.

produce in a non-protective manner. At present, 10 percent of our productions are non-protective.

Q. In other words, Iran's production should reach about 3.4 million barrels?
A. Yes. It should reduce its production. Of course, there is another way. We can inject gas into our oil reserves to have safeguarding production.

Q. Don't you intend to make the petroleum ministry duty-bound to reduce production? Q. As the head of the Energy Commission of the Majlis, do you approve of the policies of the Iranian government? Is Iran's OPEC stance appropriate?
A. What is the right of the Iranian nation has not been observed with respect to Iran's status in the OPEC. Iran has been one of the founders of OPEC and an OPEC conference was held in Iran more than 30 years ago. OPEC was formed with the objective to protect the rights of oil producers but the hidden hands of the
US and especially the Zionists tried to make OPEC dormant and use it to reduce oil prices. Iran, as the second (biggest producing) country in the world from the viewpoint of oil and gas reserves, should play an effective and determining role in the cartel in supporting the rights of the oil producing countries. But unfortunately, the hidden hands of the US and especially some member states of the organization do not let Iran to take over the position of OPEC secretary general.

Q. In these few sentences you mentioned once or twice effective hidden hands in the OPEC, while the components of power in the OPEC are clear. An important part of the power components inside the body are related to the oil production capacity of every country. Now when Iran does not have such a surplus production capacity, it is clear that it cannot have the necessary power in the OPEC?
A. I tell you straightforward that the case is not so at all. This is a deviation, which has been created in the objectives of OPEC. Let me bring an example for you so that the issue of capacities will be clarified. Iran produces about four million barrels of oil a day and its goal is to increase it to five million b/d that is one million barrels more than the current production. Or for instance, Saudi Arabia is producing about 5.9 million and claims it wants to increase its production capacity to 12 million b/d. The issue of capacity does not play such a role in being powerful in the OPEC.

Q. I do not understand how you reached such an analysis?
A. The world consumes about 80 million barrels of oil a day, which is swiftly rising to 85 million. Of this amount, OPEC production quota is 25 to 30 million. From your point of view, should OPEC think about maximizing its income or reducing oil prices?

Q. You were talking about the role of oil production capacity in the cartel?
A. We are talking about `wrong policy' here. If we consider the production capacity as the basis and dictate to the body that the task of the organization is to preserve the interests of consumers, in fact we have sustained damage on the interests of producers, of whom we are a part. OPEC has adopted the wrong policy of maximizing production with the objective of reducing prices, which is a wrong strategic policy. We should return the OPEC strategy to maximizing the income of oil producing countries.

Q. Now that the issue is proposing a change in OPEC strategy, what is your modus operandi?
A. I will tell you. The OPEC production quota should return to 25 million barrels, which is a `protective' production and would not inflict damage on reserves. Therefore, we object to OPEC policy because it does not put preservation of the interests of the member states atop the interests of the consumer countries.

Q. OPEC is not living in a closed world or a fancy island. This organization interacts with the consumer countries too. Anyway, if a rational interaction is not created between the producing and consumer countries...
A. The rational interaction is that the real price of each barrel of oil would be 100 dollars.

Q. Dollars?
A. Yes. And we as the oil producers should come to terms with the oil consumer countries that the price of oil would increase to $50 in the first stage, $75 in the second and $100 in the third. That is we should reach $100 in the next five years.

Q. On the basis of which expert theory you are setting these prices? Is it not true that the market mechanism determines oil prices?
A. There is a theory which says market determines prices but when you raise the supply, prices will come down. This amount of oil production, with the assumption that it damages reserves, is wrong. We say that it is correct for the market to set the prices but why we should supply a `non-protective' production from the reserve to the world. What duty does oil have in the history of humanity?

Q. You tell me!
A. First supplying fuel and second transforming it to other products and producing thousands of needed products. This issue should also be taken into consideration that oil should not pollute the environment, which it has severely polluted at the present. Now, we should spend money we gain from selling oil to eliminate pollution.

Q. For instance Iran has sold $28 to $30 billion worth of oil. From your point of view an equal amount should be spent on environment protection. Then how the country can have income to meet its expenses? This is irrational. I do not think the case is what you say?
A. It is. The Kyoto Protocol, which the US has refused to sign it, says that the main factor that damages the earth is oil. Therefore we should economize and optimize oil consumption and funnel consumption towards the needed consumer goods and reduce oil share in fuel supply. A more important point is that we should replace oil with other energies such as nuclear, wind and solar because oil cannot be atomized. Therefore, with respect to the reasons I mentioned, I believe outlooks towards oil should change.

Q. You did not tell us, on which basis you set the oil price at $100?
A. See, 95 percent of the cell phone you have in your hand is made up of oil products. Totally it might not weigh 200 grams but they sell it at rls 500,000 in the market. That is to say, they purchase our oil at $30 and by using their technology they increase $20 of added value and sell it back to us. One of the cases I can tell is that the oil price should change with respect to the commodities produced from it. These products have primary, medium and final stages. If we make the assessment in the final stage, oil is given 20 to 30 dollars of value added. At present, the US buys oil at 30 dollars and levies $70 in tax income! What oppression is this, being imposed on the oil producing countries? Why isn't this tax given to the oil producing countries. Whatever tax is levied on oil should belong to the oil producing countries. We should understand why the US should benefit more from oil which is our national asset and is located in our land? The market is the factor determining oil prices provided that production would be protected.

Q. With the analysis you provide, do you think that most oil producing countries are providing non-protective production from their reserves?
A. Yes. They are damaging their reserves because they want to have surplus production. This policy will increase the oil production at one stage but will then make it plunge. As we see consumption has increased severely in the world. Production
cannot go up and meet the demand therefore prices are rising sharply.

Q. Don't you take into consideration the role political elements play in increasing oil prices?
A. Political issues are not effective even by five percent. The main cause is the issue of supply and demand.

Q. But the reports of organizations such as OPEC do not indicate such this. Our own petroleum minister has reiterated that the high price of oil is not due to shortage of supply. Most oil analysts are of the same opinion.
A. We challenge all the world analysts. The main reason behind increase in oil prices is that consumption has preceded demand.

Q. At present, the reports that are being presented indicate that surplus supply of oil is between one to two million b/d. Don't you take these reports into account?
A. We have two kinds of supply. In the first case world consumer countries pile up oil in their reservoirs so that they would use it at an appropriate time to cut down the oil prices. Another kind of consumption is for economic boost, such as in China, India, Central Asia and even Europe itself. Their oil consumption has increased due to economic boost. The main reason behind high oil prices is that supply has not reached consumption and that political and psychological warfare factors are effective just by five to ten percent.

Q. Let's suppose oil prices would reach $100. You do not have the technology to manufacture some products nor do you have the know-how. Therefore, you might pay $1000 or more for the product you may buy for $500 now. The oil consumer country too would double its taxes and then it will not make any difference.
A. It cannot double its taxes because there is competition from others.

Q. You only consider the United States. Well, all countries will double their taxes.
A. Let me tell you something. If oil prices go up, three positive things will happen. First, oil consumption will reduce and environment will be saved. Secondly, instead of being used as fuel, oil will be used for producing durable products. Third, the oil producing countries will gain more income and can make their economies dynamic. Moreover, I should say in response to your question that technology has a low price. We can buy technology very easily.

Q. And if they do not sell the technology?
A. We will make it ourselves. We can work and invent from the beginning. We can gain self-sufficiency in all technologies and technical know-how in the world and it will not cost much.

Q. Please, wait. Are you telling me that we can gain self-sufficiency in all fields? Is this basically something economical?
Q. At present that the oil price has risen from $25 to $50, not much inflation has been caused in the world. Of course, little inflation has surfaced for oil products but on the whole, the basket of goods has become a little expensive. The latest economic theory argues that the US and European economies can easily tolerate oil prices of $70 to $75.

Q. Where has this latest theory been presented?
A. In official US and European publications. The maximum inflation impact the oil price rise can have is not more than one or two percent. Therefore if we sell oil at high price, we will import expensive commodities, too. It is like we earn $20 billion from oil and pay $5 billion for the high prices. Therefore, price hike is to the advantage of producing and consumer countries. Consumers will go after improving quality and reducing its expenses and the producers would gain more income. Therefore, I believe OPEC should go after the interests of its members by maximizing the oil price and make it dependent on the price of oil and gas products. Thus the oil and gas taxes of the advanced countries would go into the OPEC account.

Q. OPEC cannot enact laws for other countries!
A. It can increase the price of its oil and in case it increases the oil price to $100, they will be forced to reduce their taxes.

Q. OPEC interacts with countries of the world. An organization that cannot interact with its surrounding world is ineffective.
A. What kind of interaction -- an interaction that weakens the rights of nations $70 per barrel; what kind of interaction is that? This is submission to force. What kind of interaction is that: we say $100 and they say $30?

Q. We should observe all the aspects. If the price of oil increases to 100 dollars, then producing oil from reserves at high prices outside OPEC would be economical, and even other energies might take the place of oil.
A. This is the advantage of increase in oil price. If replacing energy enters the scene, it is to the benefit of humanity. We will have less air pollution and oil can remain for the future generations. With respect to the reserves that you said might enter the market, we have studied 20,000 oilfields in the world. All the oil fields of the world are almost known. Now if a new oil field is discovered, it is another issue. Even if the production of all the fields that have been discovered so far increases, it will be a small amount. The production of most of these oil fields is gradually reducing. In other words, they are going through their second stage of their lives. OPEC should officially announce to the consumer countries that 2.5 percent would be added to the price of $40 a barrel every year. We should announce this to the consumer countries officially so that they would make their planning on the basis of these figures. At the same time, OPEC should guarantee supply of oil and take over security of supply.

Q. If OPEC intends to announce this officially, oil prices would rise to $150 at the very beginning.
A. For your information, it will rise even more than this. We have studied 20,000 oil fields and can predict the future of the oil market. Production is going down and consumption is rising. We are ready to present the result of our studies to OPEC.

Q. Do you think Isfahan would be a suitable place for this (announcement)?
A. Isfahan or anywhere else! We can forward the result of our studies to OPEC so that they would know that the statistics provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) are wrong. We prove with precise documentation that their predictions in the past decade had proved wrong. They have depicted oil consumption low and production high in order to preserve the oil prices. The statistics of the IEA are not reliable at all and we should conduct our own studies.

Q. On the basis of which information you do not consider IEA statistics reliable? Have you conducted any research of your own?
A. I announce officially at the moment that the statistics of IEA in the past decade has been wrong. We have its statistics and if you want, we can publish them. Then they can respond. For instance, they predicted oil production to be 80 million b/d this year and consumption 75 million. The truth was the otherwise; that is 85 million barrels were consumed while production remained less than 85 million. Therefore, I want to say we should not trust these statistics. Iranian oil experts should produce statistics and information of their own.

Q. An important point about OPEC is that some countries might take advantage of statements like this on the increase in oil prices up to $100 and raise the issue in a way for the big oil consumers as though they were guarantors of oil market. Don't you think such statements might damage Iran's status in OPEC?
A. We do not attach any value to the US. The oil prices below one hundred dollars are a blatant economic oppression against the producing countries. That is if oil is sold at $40, they are doing economic injustice by $60. This is from economic point of view. From political point of view, we also ask how we should interact with the world and the US. The answer is that we have two options. We say each barrel of oil should be sold at $100 and then we establish a foreign exchange reserve fund and assist the poor countries of the world through this income. That is assuming $100 per barrel Iran would help poor countries with honor.

Q. Even with the theory you provide, the Iranian nation would gain nothing?
A. We would give away part of the money not all of it; something like 10 percent. I should tell you another thing. If the US had oil, would it sell it at $30 to us? Right now, it (the US) is blocking us in the process of the fuel cycle we have discovered ourselves. How can we trust a country like the US? If other countries have policies for themselves, it is up to them. Our policy is to defend the rights of our nation with esteem and the US and Europe should know it too that the price of oil is $100 per barrel. Saudi Arabia, which is our rival in OPEC, might come to terms with the US or the consumer countries. But we should assert what is right.

Q. With the policies Iran sets forth, it should not expect to be given the position of OPEC secretary general?
A. Now that we do not utter these words, we are not secretary general. Then the case is something else. Whether we talk about $30 or $100 a barrel, they would not let Iran acquire the position of secretary general.

Q. Nobody is against maximizing the country's revenues, but the case of interaction with the world is also important. Really, don't you think such statements would damage Iran's status in OPEC?
A. OPEC countries will move with us. Only one or two countries might not. That our rival country would go and collect votes from consumer countries for its own sake is possible. But we should inform the people of that country that their oil is worth $100 but is being sold at $30!

Q. If you believe most OPEC member countries would accompany you, then why the price of oil has not reached what you want?
A. Because the oil supply in the world has increased in a non-protective manner. In fact, one of the countries that have committed this huge mistake is the US. Through unorthodox exploitation of its oil reserves, the US has faced acute shortage of oil. It does have oil underground but it cannot extract them. This country has committed a huge blunder with respect to its oil reserves and the mistake was that it has used its reserves more than its capability and has damaged them. Therefore if we say the price of each barrel of oil should rises to $100, it is to serve humanity.

Q. Have you discussed your $100 theory with officials of the petroleum ministry?
A. At first they opposed it but recently they have accepted up to $70.

Q. You mean (the Minister of Petroleum) Mr. Zanganeh agrees with the price of $70 for each barrel of oil?
A. You must ask the viewpoint of Mr. Minister from he himself. Maybe the minister takes into consideration international interests.

Q. Won't high prices endanger Iran's interactions at international scene?
A. You know what is the difference between $100 and $30. It is $60 billion a year. That is you are paying $90 billion for interaction with the world every year. What kind of interaction is this?
Q. How did the developments go on 34 years ago when the meeting was held in Iran that oil prices surged all of a sudden? Do you think that it is high time Iran entered the scene once again after 34 years and push the oil prices up?
A. Iran is not alone. OPEC countries accept the $100 p/b theory. Unfortunately, decision making in the OPEC is done through unanimity. That is why decision-making is difficult. Clandestinely, 11 countries and explicitly, at least 7 to 8 countries agree to the idea.

Q. You mean Saudi Arabia too agrees with the price of $100?
A. Do not doubt it. Everybody believes so.

Q. Have you consulted with the Saudi oil minister or their analysts in this respect?
A. In interviews published in their newspapers, experts have mentioned up to $120. We are saying $20 less.

Q. Have you considered the side effects of this theory for our country?
A. There would be no side effects. It is all to the benefit of humanity. Its political effects are to the advantage of humanity, so does its non-political. It does not have any detriments. Its harm is the same 20 percent inflation that might be created.

Q. We are not responsible for humanity; we should take into consideration our own national interests!
A. It is also to the benefit of national interests of Iran. It is to the interest of humanity and even more. Do not doubt at all that in the case of oil prices, it is the open oppression of the US against our nation. Don't doubt it. We are suffering an oppression and loss of $90 billion a year and if we establish ties with Washington, since it would lower the price of oil, it would be more detrimental to us. Now that we do not have ties with them, we are sustaining $60 billion loss due to their conspiracies.

Q. Don't you accept the limit for oil price of 32 to 35 dollars?
A. We do not accept it. But they will approve this limit. But eventually this is detrimental to countries.

Q. Then, why do you insist on saying things that nobody would buy int OPEC?
A. It is not important! You should state what is right then the result would be clarified later. I have four specific proposals for OPEC:
1. To take into consideration maximizing the revenue of producing countries and not to maintain its production quota
2. To change the voting system for appointing the secretary general from `unanimity' to `rotating'
3. OPEC member states develop themselves from technical point of view either by setting up universities or by supporting domestic industries of their countries or by strengthening native companies
4. To sell oil products instead of oil.

Q. From your point of view, what percentage of the OPEC countries has the technology and know-how of extracting from their reserves in a protective manner?
A. Oil was discovered 150 years ago in the world and 100 years ago in Iran. Isn't this period enough for promoting (the technical know-how)? Suppose we could not do it in 100 years. If we start now, cannot we achieve the result in ten years? Iran is a country, which claims to have technical knowledge.

Q. If you sell your oil at $100, then the countries owning technology might sell their technical know-how proportionately at a higher rate? Does it bear any benefits for you then?
A. The share of technical know-how in a $100 project is one dollar. Therefore, the share of technical know-how would be five percent at most. If you even double this, it would be acceptable to us.

Q. This small percentage might affect the entire project. They might even do not provide you with it?
A. Who says they will not give us the technical know-how? Does the US say so? Washington has not given us technology for the past 25 years.

Q. It is not the issue of the US. When you mention the price of $100 then, European countries such as Germany, France, etc. might have some considerations.
A. We will convince France that the price of $100 would be to their advantage.

Q. How?
A. We will convince them that with the trend we are following at present the generations in 25 years later will not have any oil at all. We should preserve oil for future generations.

Q. You did not say how you would convince France?
A. We will convince France easily! We will tell them that if they do not reduce oil consumption -- that is not renewable, pollutes the air and damages the Ozone layer, we would sustain huge damages. Then they would be convinced that oil prices should rise and they should find replacements.

Q. The substitute energies require huge expenses. Would you also convince (them) in this respect?
A. Oil is cruelly cheap. Oil should reach its real price. Nine months ago we said oil price will reach $50 and this happened. Five years later, oil price would be $100. Make sure to write this that the world should get ready for an oil price of $100 per barrel. Don't be worried about substitute energies. Even if they are used it is to the interest of humanity. We do not feel any harm.

Q. If new energies enter the scene then oil will lose its current status and OPEC would exist no more?
A. What is OPEC? OPEC only has a mission and it is the interests of member states. Then IEA was formed and neutralized the OPEC.

Q. You mean even at the cost of dismantling of OPEC, the oil price should rise to $100?
A. Not at the price of OPEC's dissolution. Even if OPEC does not exist, price of each barrel of oil would be $100. If OPEC exists it will happen sooner.

Q. Let me ask you a frank question. Do you think OPEC safeguards most of the interests of the consumers?
A. Yes.

Q. Then if your assumption is correct, what factors are effective in this issue?
A. The influence of the US and the Zionist regime over OPEC.

Q. Do you believe the Zionist regime has influence in OPEC?
A. Unfortunately, yes.

Q. Do you have any evidence backing this claim?
A. You look at the oil price; that the price of $100 becomes $30. Can't you see such a bright light?

Q. Then you consider the low oil price a result of the influence of Israel?
A. The US and Israel. In fact, the US means Zionists. The US has nothing. We do not have any problems with the American nation. We favor prosperity for all the humanity, our nation in particular, for the European nation, the American nation and even the Jews. We do not have any problems with the Jews, either. We are only against Zionism. We are assured that Islam guarantees prosperity of everybody. Islam favors international peace, freedom and security. Islam has authorized only war against tyrants. War is only for a time when someone like the US comes in.

Q. Like now that from your point of view, the US is committing tyranny through oil prices?
A. Yes. That is through its administration and not its nation. We do not have war with nations.

Q. What is understood from your statements is that with respect to the tyranny you believe the US is imposing through oil prices the $100 price for oil is sort of campaign against the US?
A. Yes. It is oil and economic campaign against the US oppression.

Q. How important is for Iran to gain the position of OPEC secretary general?
A. It is very important for Iran's prestige. Of course, if Iran does not acquire the position, it would not sustain any loss. It is our right to gain the position of the secretary general. Iran has nine votes in the OPEC. Only two countries are against it.

Q. Which countries?
A. Kuwait claims the position and we believe it is guided by the US. There is another country that I do not want to mention by name now.

Q. Then, you believe except for these two countries, the rest of the OPEC members agree with Iran?
A. Yes. They agree with Iran. But we have two kinds of agreement. One is overt and the other covert. We have the covert agreement of everybody.

Q. Does the Energy Commission of the Majlis have any plan for reducing Iran's oil production?
A. We say that Iran should not
A. We have held several meetings with the ministry officials. Of course, at present I mainly believe in gas injection rather than reducing production.

Q. Do you have any specific short-term plan to cut production?
A. I believe in increasing production capacity but no oil production increase. We should maintain capacity in our hand as a yardstick. I do accept the theory that we should increase our capacity in order to increase our bargaining power, but to what extent and at what rate? We have signed contracts worth $10 billion in the recent years. We have not increased our production and have reduced output by 200,000 barrels a year. These contracts merely make up for the drop in production. I do agree with having the capacity of producing five million barrels a day as an objective but if we do not inject gas, we will not reach this capacity and our production will be two million barrels in the next ten years. We should ask officials firmly to take care of the reserves.

Q. You talked about holding meetings with the petroleum ministry (officials) to reduce production. WOn't these meetings lead to lowering of Iran's quota in the OPEC?
A. If the ministry accepts injection of gas, our production of four million is guaranteed. If not, the condition of reserves will not permit higher production.

Q. Then, you do not agree with a rise in Iran's OPEC quota?
A. No. It is against our national interests. Basically, I believe the OPEC quota should be reduced in the world.

Q. How do you assess the Isfahan meeting?
A. It is a valuable action that members of OPEC will further get acquainted with Iran's objectives. Most members of the OPEC like Venezuela are revolutionary forces and believe in the interests of their country, except for one or two countries that implement US objectives. Holding the OPEC conference in Iran will cause political and international success for our nation.

Q. Have you proposed to the petroleum minister to raise the issue of increase in oil prices at the Isfahan meeting?
A. I have told him. The point that Mr. Zanganeh makes is that of unanimity in OPEC decision-making. He says we should hold consultations in advance. We (MPs) are the representatives of the nation and the ministers represent the government.

Q. You mean on oil prices, your statements contradict those of the government?
A. Yes. We say firmly that the price of each barrel of oil is $100 and they say $40.


From April 4 to 6 Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov visited New Delhi to conduct negotiations with the Indian government and to sign 12 agreements with India. These accords ranged over such diverse fields as defense, education, trade, industry, tourism, and the struggle against terrorism. But undoubtedly the defense, anti-terrorism, and economic agreements were the most important results of this trip, Karimov's third visit to India. However, this latest trip probably signifies something new, namely Karimov's recognition of India's growing interest in, and capabilities toward, Central Asia.

India openly calls Central Asia part of its extended strategic neighborhood where it will seek to use all potential instruments of power to expand its influence and presence and as a major -- and potentially more secure -- source of its energy needs, not to mention other raw materials. Therefore since 2000 India's governments have steadily expanded contacts with Central Asian regimes and vigorously pursued New Delhi's interests in access to trade, energy, and even military bases, as in Tajikistan's case. Like India, Uzbekistan suffers from actual and/or potential terrorist threats and these converging interests clearly were on view during the trip. For example, India won Karimov's assent to participate in the exploration of oil and gas reserves in Uzbekistan. Both sides also agreed on the importance of quickly realizing an international transport corridor through Afghanistan so that goods could move more quickly between their states.

Both sides obviously wish to strengthen the Afghan government against remnants of the Taliban, and Tashkent also supports India's proposed convention against terrorism and has agreed to coordinate efforts through the joint working groups on fighting international terrorism. Uzbekistan supports India's campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council, and both sides will cooperate in defense and defense-related technology, i.e. arms sales, either by Uzbekistan using old Soviet equipment, or from India to the Uzbek military. This last item reflects India's determination to become a major player in the export of conventional arms abroad, not least to Central Asian governments and militaries. Both sides also wish to expand bilateral trade, now currently estimated at $150 million, and India is keen to expand its investments in Uzbekistan's social sector while setting up an information technology institute in Tashkent.

On the face of it, this visit and the agreements ensuing from it appear to be an example of the routine activities of high-level governmental leaders. But one can easily find deeper motivations for it. Clearly Karimov feels comfortable with India and values its increasing ability to provide another alternative for the large-scale economic and military assistance that Uzbekistan needs. Karimov has made a career of veering from patron to patron, moving from Washington to Moscow, Beijing, and now New Delhi whenever a patron pressures him to do something that he is reluctant to do. Thus in 2004, when U.S. agitation for reforms and liberalization grew too vocal, he signed major defense and economic agreements with Russia and China. But clearly Karimov does not wish to be aligned only with those capitals, especially as the Ukrainian and Kyrgyz crises show that he cannot rely on them to provide him with the support he and his family might need in a pinch. Washington, too, is now not nearly as amenable to his refusal to reform as was earlier the case. Thus, he needs a new patron.

India, a rising power with growing economic and military capability, converging security interests, an unwillingness to sermonize about human rights in public, and a rising hunger for reliable energy sources, makes a perfect foil for him. At the same time Uzbekistan, the most central and strongest military state in Central Asia, is a key target of India's efforts to carve out an enduring niche as a major provider of assistance and security to Central Asian states. The greater influence India can bring to bear in Central Asia or is perceived to be able to harness, the stronger it becomes regionally, as well as toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. It also adds another potential source to its need for energy so that India will not be trapped into an excessive dependence on potentially unreliable supplies of energy from the Gulf. Thus, this visit reflects the underlying dynamics of the rapidly shifting Central Asian geopolitical and economic competition or new great game as well as the opportunities available to Central Asian rulers to exploit the great power competition for influence, access, and energy in Central Asia. Therefore it is unlikely that we have seen the last of these visits, either by Karimov or by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, let alone their ministers. The wheel of this new great game will most assuredly keep turning for these two players as well as their other partners and rivals.

(Planetguru.com, April 5; Financial Express.com, April 6; Press Trust of India, April 5; Asia Pulse Limited, April 7)

--Stephen Blank

April 07, 2005

Rahul Gandhi is an Italian citizen: Subramanian Swamy

Rahul Gandhi , son of Sonia Gandhi is an Italian Citizen , as per statement released by Dr.Subramanyam Swami . IntelliBriefs is producing the statement below :

April 2, 2005

I welcome KPCC President Mr.Janardan Poojary's challenge, published
in today's media, to prove my charges against Ms.Sonia Gandhi and her
Italian family. I suggest that if I can establish the prima facie
validity of my charges before a panel, then Mr.Poojary should support
a full fledged inquiry by the CBI.

Hence let Mr.Poojary debate me before a panel of three journalists,
one selected by him, one by me and the third by the Bangalore Press
Club who can be chairperson of the panel.

Before this panel I will establish that there is sufficient prima
facie evidence to show that Ms. Sonia Gandhi has lied to the nation
about her real name, place of birth, her educational qualification,
and has assets disproportionate to her known sources of income, been
an agent of the KGB, and has links to the LTTE. I will also show that
her son Rahul Gandhi is still a citizen of Italy and was arrested by
the FBI at Boston airport on September 27, 2001 but let off on the
intervention of the Prime Minister. Hence Ms. Sonia Gandhi is corrupt
and anti-national. Moreover she is disloyal to the memory of Rajiv
Gandhi by aligning in Tamil Nadu with those who hold his
assassination as justified and proclaim LTTE leader Prabhakaran as
the leader of 'world Tamils'. There cannot be a bigger betrayal than

I am also prepared to question Mr.Poojary on the corrupt loan melas
he authorised as MoS in the Finance Ministry in the 1980s, and the
loss of Rs.10,000 crores to the banks. He should be ready with an