At UN, Screening of
Countdown to Zero Triggers Live Review, Bender Predicts Bootlegging in
China, Syria Dodge
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 5, updated below -- As the NPT review conference lurches
into turmoil by the appearance of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
Wednesday afternoon sees the U.S. premeire of the documentary
"Countdown to Zero." On a podium in an antiseptic
conference room sat producer Lawrence Bender, Michael Douglas and UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
man" Jeff Skoll described the movie as a rallying cry to support
the UN's efforts leading to disarmament, and said its opening will be
on July 9. So Inner City Press will review the film, in the form of a
live blog, herebelow.
the first on-camera speakers in the film is Valerie Plame Wilson --
yes, that Valerie Plame, wife of Joe Wilson, outed by the
Republicans. Is she the main expert, or is this a political choice?
Russian thief of uranium, who tried to sell it to a fence who bought
car batteries. Now released from jail? He's smoking on a balcony,
looking at the horizon.
of plane crashes and other screw ups -- combined with story of a bomb
falling on Goldsboro, North Carolina in the 1960s, detonation stopped
by only one switch.
interviewed in front of Yankee Stadium -- "we have the bomb, of
course, that goes without saying." But North Korea?
-- the voice over says if Iran gets the bomb, its "rivals"
will want one, listing Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Turkey-- and Syria. But
Syria is an ALLY of Iran...
of 5:02 p.m.-- Ban Ki-moon has left the screening, Vijay Nambiar with
him. Apparently Kim Won-soo left earlier. Countdown to Zero, indeed.
January 25, 1995 the US tested a missile from Norway, which Russia
interpreted as an attack. Yeltsin was given five mintues to "launch
on warning" but didn't. Film's voice over says "he wasn't
of Ahmadinejad and centrifuges... Of F.W. de Klerk, who upon taking
power found the country had six Hiroshima like nukes. He said, let's
stop. Inspiring music. But what's the plan?
missiles off high alert status... don't lose any highly enriched
uranium, just like not an ounce of gold has been lost from Fort
ends with Obama and Medvedev, "a new generation," hope. One
viewer noted, the word Israel was not said once during the film. This
is the UN -- will it come up as a question?
first question, from Iraq's Ambassador Bayati - is about Israel.
in the Q&A session, Inner City Press asked the panel if they
would translate the movie into Farsi and Chinese, referring the focus
on Iran's nuclear program, and China's skepticism of sanctions.
Lawrence Bender answered, snugly, that he expected the movie to
quickly be available in China as a bootleg. It would be more
difficult, he said, to get it into Iran.
what is your proposal, Inner City Press asked, on Iran? Bender
shifted to name dropping, saying that he had asked this very
question, "at the Council on Foreign Relations... to Brent
Scowcroft" who answered, "If I knew, I wouldn't be here."
Inner City Press asked about the film listing Syria as a "rival"
of Iran, the panel shrugged. They meant that if Iran gets a bomb, so
too will the others lists: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Eqypty and Syria. We
assume smaller Syria was included due to reports of a nuclear reactor
with North Korean help. But would that be Syria preparing for what
the movie calls its "rival" Iran, or for Israel? Why was
that country not mentioned in the movie? Watch this site.
UN's Ban and Douglas
At UN, Ahmadinejad
Defends Iran's Treatment of Women, Mocks Obama & Ban Ki-moon
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 4 -- When Iran dropped its candidacy for a seat on the
UN Human Rights Council last month, some described it as restoring at
least some credibility to the UN, as when Bosnia stepped in and beat
out Belarus for a seat two years ago.
City Press asked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Iran's
successful replacement candidacy, for a seat on the UN Commission on
the Status of Women, despite gender discrimination and repression,
Ahmadinejad had a different and lengthy answer.
said the switch
was procedural, that Iran had always wanted the CSW seat more than
the Human Rights Council, which within the Asia Group Pakistan was
supposed to run for. Due to a misunderstanding, Ahmadinejad said,
Iran temporarily made a grab for the HRC, before returning to the
seat promised to it, on the Commission on the Status of Women.
how does Iran
intend to use the seat, Inner City Press asked, since it has refused
to sign the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against
Women? We will never sign that, Ahmadinejad vowed. He went to on
paint of picture of "love and complementariness" in Iran.
menial jobs in Iran, he said, nothing "like you and me, cleaning
the street or driving a truck." He said he had read that 70% of
married women in Europe suffer physical abuse, but refuse to complain
for fear of losing their families. Women are better off, he
concluded, in Iran than in Europe.
UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, human rights not shown
answers came during a more than one hour long press conference held
Tuesday across the street from the UN. The room in the Millennium
Hotel was full, with journalists from the Daily News, Washington Post
and wires, and even Christiane Amanpour (who was not called on).
taken a list of reporters who wanted to ask question, which Inner
City Press arrive too late to sign. But having covered Iran's Nowruz
receptions -- "be more positive next time," the Iranian
mission admonished, leading Inner City Press to ask "or what?"
-- the moderator nodded and allowed the question.
journalists remarked that Ahmadinejad's press conference was more
open and democratic than those of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
or the pre-screened
stakeout by Hillary Clinton the previous day.
There, the US State Department decided in advance which questions to
take. At Iran's event, alongside some very pro Tehran question,
questions were taken about for example the reports of North Korean
weapons intercepted on their way to Iran.
weapons from them, Ahmadinejad answered. If America finds and seizes
such weapons they can keep them. Regarding Ban Ki-moon, Ahmadinejad
said that if the UN were in Tehran and Iran had a Security Council
veto, Ban would never have spoken as he did on Monday. Asked
repeatedly about sanctions, he said that if they go through, it will
mean that US President Obama has "submitted" and been taken
control of by a gang. This order, he said, will soon collapse.
what of those
arrested and disappeared after the contested elections? Ahmadinejad
did not answer that question, fastening instead on the women's rights
part of the question. Whether the Iranian mission will in the future
allow such questions to be asked, and even answered, remains to be
* * *
UN, Hardly Mentioning N.Korea, Did Hillary Meet the Wrong Nigerian Foreign Minister or Just
Not Know His Name?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 3, updated May 4
-- When Hillary Clinton came to speak to or at the UN
press corps on Monday afternoon, the questions were pre-selected and
North Korea was not mentioned. The first two questions were given to
CBS and the Wall Street Journal, and both were on Iran.
third and it
seemed last concerned the US decision to disclose the number of its
weapons. By sheet persistence a UN correspondent from South Asia got
a question in about India, Pakistan and Israel. But no mention of
North Korea. (In full disclosure, Inner City Press said "North
Korea" during each lull, each time louder.)
seeming blindspot? Why focus so much on Iran, calling it a threat to
cross the "red line" to nuclear weapons status, when North
Korea is already over the line? On the first day of
the NPT Review
Conference, Kim Jong-Il was visiting China.
Clinton not addressing North Korea, Inner City Press asked Gareth
Evans about it. He said the DPRK has somewhere around 10 weapons, and
it is a major concern. A reporter for Iranian media shouted two
questions to him about Israel's weapons. Evans scoffed at the second
question and turned away. He told a persistent reporter - not this
one -- that he had no business cards.
spoke, her counterpart from Indonesia walked by, with an entourage of
merely three. Hillary's posse was much larger, similar to that of
Ahmadinejad or later in the day, the EU's Lady Ashton. Snarks pegged
her outfit as something for last week's Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issues, and even suggested she could be replaced by David Miliband
when Gordon Brown's Labor loses. Miliband keeps Tweeting as if
Gordo's gonna win.
Hillary Clinton on May 3, wrong Nigerian foreign
minister not shown
Department's tweets, meanwhile, contained a blatant error on
It was announced that Hillary met with Nigeria's foreign minister,
but the former ousted one was named.
#SecClinton just held a bilat with Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo
Maduekwe in New York. #Nigeria
this began in Hillary's
p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a Bilateral Meeting with Nigerian
Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe, at the TIAA CREFF Building.
melt down at the UN Inner City Press covered,
is no longer the
foreign minister of Nigeria. Nor, last
week, did the US Mission to
the UN answer a single one of the questions Inner City Press
submitted, about Congo and the Sudan -- a topic on which Hillary says
she's "disappointed." Well, we're disappointed too.
Note to Foggy
Bottom: there's a
new foreign minister of Nigeria, Odein Ajumogobia, and he'll be
appearing at Nigeria
House on Second Avenue on Wednesday. Watch this site.
Update of May 3, 6:50 p.m. - Zimbabwe's
Ambassador, at a Russian reception Monday evening celebrating the end
of World War II, told Inner City Press that the event for Nigeria's new
foreign minister has been canceled. The plot thickens...
Update of May 4, 11:01 a.m - Inner City Press
asked Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN Joy Ogwu about the
meeting and snafu, and she was seemingly mortified. Ojo is long gone.
So why would the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton, reaching out
to the world, not even take the time to keep up with a months-old
change in foreign ministers of a major African country that's on the UN
Security Council? And what will they say about thiat? Watch this site.
* * *
UN, NPT Opens Amid Monks' Drums, Dissonant Expectations, Ahmadinejad
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 3, updated below
-- With Japanese monks beating mournful drums outside
the NPT Review Conference opening Monday morning, the dissonance
between the aspirations of those outside and inside the UN building
could not have been more clear.
Station amid singing of "learn war no more," a man held a
sign of who has the most nuclear weapons: Russia, the US, the other
Permanent Five members of the Security Council (China, the UK and
France), India, Israel, Pakistan and, the sign said, North Korea with
the UN, the
talk was nearly all about Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has
flown in from Tehran -- former U.S. diplomat Mark Wallace wrote to
the Millennium Hotel urging they tell him there was no room at the
inn -- and is slated to speak late this morning in the General
the new UN press
floor, a maze of cubicles in which no whistleblower dares speak, the
Iranian press was in a frenzy. Inner City Press was interviewed by a
woman with a scarf covering her head. "What do you think of my
President, Doctor Ahmadinejad?" she asked.
for Iranian media came to make the argument that every time a small
country joins NATO, it is an example of proliferation: more countries
under the nuclear umbrella and, according to him, more countries
paying for nuclear weapons.
the conference is the Philippines Ambassador. Some wonder why him;
the Manila press expresses hope his role will lead to the passage of
an entirely different treaty, about the rights of migrant workers.
UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad before, May 3 scene not yet seen
gallery above the General Assembly Hall, Inner City Press called out
to a few ambassadors, including Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso. He
was on the Council until replaced by Nigeria. Where does nuclear
proliferation fit in the scheme of Burkina's concerns? Watch this
space, this will be updated.
Update of 10:38 p.m.
-- from the spaceship-like it begins, with greetings to Ban Ki-moon
and... Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Ambassador of Zimbabwe missed his
chance to chair the meeting. Zim for Iran! There was a recent visit by
A-Jod, to Harare and Uganda. It has begun...
Update of 10:55 a.m.
Cabactulan quotes as a Chinese proverb that that leader is best who
is not known. At seems he may be referring to Ban Ki-moon, who is now
speaking about his visit to Russia's test site. Here in press section
in upper deck, there are no headphones. How will be hear Ahmadinejad?
of 11:21 a.m. -- New
IEAE chief bemoans DPRK, Syria and Iran. BKM
praised Indonesia for saying it will ratify
of 11:29 a.m. -- while waiting for Ahmadinejad, UN email comes in:
Hillary Clinton will speak to Press at 5:20. But when's the
of 11:39 a.m. -- the General Debate begins, with Marty of Indonesia
speaking for NAM. Groups get 8 minutes, nations only five.
of 11:59 a.m. -- after Marty of Indonesia went over his time,
Ahmadinejad starts up. He takes on Ban Ki-moon's statement about the
uranium deal. We accepted that, A-jod says. Puts on glasses.
of 12:21 p.m. -- after Inner City Press ran down to press conferene
auditorium, having not yet received any response to its 12:11 email to
Spokesperson and Deputy asking when the briefing would begin, the
room was already locked. Briefing held 12:05 to 12:10, no questions.
They have delayed noon briefing in deference to stakeouts by the U.S.
Permanent Representative. Not for the President of Iran?
back up to
the GA Hall, Inner City Press is barred from 4th floor, but shunted
to the press booths on the third floor. Three stories directly above
Ahmadinejad, who is still speaking, now on the "Zionist regime."
of 12:32 p.m. -- Ahmadinejad has been going for half an hour, now
reciting the names of famous Iranians. "there will be no room in
the future for bullying."
of 12:43 p.m. -- as Luxembourg drones on, Ahmadinejad comes back into
GA Hall, takes Iran's seat and sits grinning.. Apparently he wants to
see if the Luxembourg's of the world will attack him to his face.
These are prepared texts, so it seems that they will.
of 12:51 p.m. -- with Ireland speaking, Ahmaninejad leaves with
entourage. Already the hall is half empty, the press area in the
upper deck entirely empty.