European foreign ministers protest Iran’s jamming of international satellites
When European foreign ministers meet in Brussels next Monday, three European powers will be pressing for continent-wide action to confront Iran’s jamming of international satellites. "Iran has been regularly jamming the broadcasting by satellite of a number of foreign televisions and radio stations … since December 2009, a repetition of its practice in the run ...
When European foreign ministers meet in Brussels next Monday, three European powers will be pressing for continent-wide action to confront Iran's jamming of international satellites.
When European foreign ministers meet in Brussels next Monday, three European powers will be pressing for continent-wide action to confront Iran’s jamming of international satellites.
"Iran has been regularly jamming the broadcasting by satellite of a number of foreign televisions and radio stations … since December 2009, a repetition of its practice in the run up to the disputed elections earlier that year," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle wrote to the European Union’s new foreign-policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, in a previously unreported letter obtained by The Cable.
"The objective was clearly to prevent the people of Iran from freely exercising their right to information."
The three powers want the EU not only to pen a declaration condemning the practice, but also to figure out how to un-jam the satellites and perhaps even stop the export of technologies that Iran can use for censorship purposes.
The French have been pushing particularly hard on the issue in recent weeks, in part due to the fact that much of the jamming was aimed at the French firm EutelSat, which carries more than 70 foreign radio and television services, some of which are run by the Iranian regime but many of which have nothing to do with Iran.
A European diplomat told The Cable that one option was to kick Iranian programming off of EutelSat. There is expected to be widespread support for a declaration, the diplomat added.
The Iranian actions violate the agreements of the International Union of Telecommunications, to which it is a party, but that body has no real enforcement power.
The EU has been more active than the U.S. on confronting Iranian satellite jamming, at least in public, a situation that several GOP senators complained about in a recent letter to Jeff Trimble, head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
The senators were demanding answers to questions raised by an exclusive report in The Cable that revealed the involvement of the National Security Council in the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s actions regarding Iran.
In the Feb. 18 story, which was also reprinted in the Washington Post, we reported that the NSC had been involved in negotiating the wording of a statement on Iranian media censorship that was eventually issued by the Voice of America, a subsidiary of the BBG, as well as the British Broadcasting Company and Deutsche Welle.
The NSC’s involvement was seen by some as an inappropriate violation of the "firewall" that is supposed to exist between the administration and the BBG, which should be operating independently. An NSC official denied that there was anything inappropriate about the council’s intervention.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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