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Castro brags of trade while blocking US satellite feeds to Iran

Castro (apparently using Chinese base south of Havana) is blocking U.S. Satellite feeds to Iran (footnote 1). At the same time he is trumpeting new trade relationship with US (footnote 2).

Footnote 1.

U.S. satellite feeds to Iran jammed

Jamming signals are coming from Cuba, sources say

By Robert Windrem

NEW YORK, July 11 - U.S. government officials as well as Iranian Americans and communications satellite operators confirm that all U.S.-based satellite broadcasts to Iran are being jammed out of Cuba, one of Iran's major allies and a nation increasingly dependent on Iranian oil.

"WE ARE well aware of the jamming," said one senior U.S. official familiar with intelligence on the matter. He said that it was almost certainly done as part of an effort by the Iranian government to eliminate dissent during a week of renewed student protests and the inauguration of Voice of America's Farsi-language television programming to Iran. 

Asked if the jamming were being done out of Cuba, the official would only say that it was "within the realm of possibility."

Late Friday, however, three sources associated with the broadcast services confirmed that Loral Skynet, the operator of the Telstar-12 satellite used by the broadcasters, had determined the jamming was probably emanating from "the vicinity of Havana, Cuba." One of the sources said that Loral, working with transmitter location expert TLS Inc. of Chantilly, Va., had further fixed the location as "20 miles outside of Havana."

Cuba's main electronic eavesdropping base, at Bejucal, is about 20 miles outside of the Cuban capital. The base, built for Cuba by the Russians in the early 1990's, monitors and intercepts satellite communications.

Iran and Cuba have had increasingly close relations over the past several years with Iran supplying Cuba with oil. Cuba has extensive jamming experience, regularly interfering with the signal of the U.S. government-financed TV Marti.

Over the past several months, private Iranian-American groups have begun increasing their broadcasts into Iran using Telstar-12, a communications satellite over the eastern Atlantic. All are trying to encourage protests against the regime in Tehran.

Iranians, using small satellite dishes, have been able to receive the broadcast, whose mix of news, entertainment and exhortations to protest have gained a large audience, particularly in Tehran. Then on Sunday, the Voice of America began its Farsi-language broadcasts.

Not long afterward, the jamming began.  

Over the past few days - as the fourth anniversary of the country's most widespread protests approached - the broadcasts have been jammed, not in Iran but in the Americas, according to officials and investigators.

Footnote 2

From Miami Herald web site
Posted on Sat, Jul. 12, 2003
Historic arrival in Havana harbor
Associated Press

HAVANA - As the tugboat El Jaguar towed the squat, green barge Helen III into Havana harbor on Friday, the U.S. flag waved in greeting from the fort at the bay's entrance for the first time in 42 years.

The 323-foot-long barge -- resembling a floating, tarp-wrapped warehouse -- was the first U.S.-flagged commercial vessel to enter the harbor since the United States broke relations with Cuba in 1961. Raising a country's flag over the Moro castle at the harbor entrance is the traditional greeting for foreign vessels.

''When I saw the Cuban flag pass, I felt like it was the first day of class, I was so nervous in my stomach,'' said Charles Turner Fabian II, vice president for operations of Maybank Shipping of Charleston, S.C., onboard the Helen III.

The United States ended relations with Cuba and imposed an embargo on shipping to Cuba in 1961 as Fidel Castro's government turned steadily toward socialism. One memory of those decades of hostility was the name of the dock complex where the ship docked: Haiphong, in honor of a North Vietnamese harbor bombed by the United States during the Vietnam War.

Since the collapse of the Soviet block in 1991, however, Cuba has eagerly sought trade with the capitalist world while trying to maintain a communist system.

Numerous ships have carried U.S. goods to Cuba since December 2001, when the U.S. government permitted cash-paid shipments of food and some other goods.

Seventy-one percent of those were U.S.-owned, said Pedro Alvarez, leader of the Cuban government import company Alimport, which has signed contracts for about $480 million since the rules were eased.

But the Helen III was the first to carry cargo under a U.S. flag and with a U.S. crew. It was also the first vessel from Mobile, Ala., to carry cargo under the recent rules.

Fabian said the barge carried 1,614 metric tons of newsprint and about six tons of timber.

As tugboats maneuvered the barge to the docks, Fabian stepped aside to make a phone call to check the company bank account. ''By law, the money has to be in our bank account before we can unload,'' Fabian said, referring to the U.S. regulations that set conditions on trade with Cuba. Fabian said the shipment, worth about $1.5 million, was part of a contract to ship a total of 10,000 tons, with another 5,000-ton deal in the works.




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