Irans Judiciary Continues to Hold Iranian-American Professor Dariush Zahedi
Payvand's Iran News
It is over four months now since Dariush Zahedi was arrested in Tehran. Zahedi is an Iranian-American political science professor who teaches at University of California in Berkeley. He had traveled to Iran in June to spend time with his family, as he had done in the past few years.
As a political science professor and researcher, Dariush Zahedi has been very involved and active in Iranian affairs. This is evident from the following
- Zahedi has served as the director of West Coast operations of American Iranian Council.
- Zahedi is the author of the book The Iranian Revolution Then and Now: Indicators of Regime Instability (Westview Press, 2000) and the editor of Iran in the New Millennium: Opportunities and Challenges (AIC, 2001).
- Zahedis articles, many related to Iran, have appeared in such journals as Middle East Policy and the Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review.
So it would have been very natural for Zahedi to take advantage of his trip to Iran to gain better insight into Irans current political situation. And this is not out of line with Khatamis declared policy of people to people exchange which he has emphasized many times as the best way to create mutual thrust between the people of Iran and United States.
According to the news, the following prompted Zahedis arrest:
1- He had traveled to Iran for several years in row right before the anniversary date of the student protests
2- He had met with the nationalist-religious dissident leaders.
None of the above is a surprise! Most people take long vacations during summer holidays. This is especially true of the people in academia. Also, as it was mentioned above, its most normal for political scientist to talk to people of politics!
But as it was pointed in the previous article on this issue (Dariush Zahedi, an Iranian-American caught in the infighting of Iran's Information Ministry and Judiciary), the issue here is not guilt or innocence. The issue is the infighting between the two factions in Iran. And this infighting has time and again shown itself as disputes between Irans Information Ministry and the Judiciary. In Dariush Zahedis case, the Information Ministry has concluded that he is innocent and should be released. However, the Judiciary has claimed ownership of the case and ordered Zahedi held in solitary confinement. But perhaps solitary confinement is a blessing for Zahedi, as now the Iranian parliamentarians are warning that, should the Judiciarys interrogators be set free on Zahedi, another case of Zahra Kazemi may be in the making (Iran challenged over US professor).
The big question now is whats going to happen to Zahedi? It depends on what the Judiciary is trying to achieve. One possible scenario is the Judiciary wants to make a deal with the reformist faction over judge Mortazavi who has been accused of murdering Zahra Kazemi. That probably wont happen as Zahra Kazemis case is the best opportunity the reformist camp to settle scores with the Judiciary (Iran reformists denounce judges), and also the case is being watched very closely by Canada.
Another possible scenario is the Judiciary has been holding Zahedi hostage to press for the release of the Iranian journalists held by US forces in Iraq. In fact Rafsanjani has recently complained that Zahedis case is receiving a lot of coverage while the case of the journalists is being ignored. (This is certainly not true. There has in fact been a lot more coverage given to the case of the journalists as Zahedis case was kept quiet by the family and didnt make headlines until mid October.) But now that the news has come out that the Iranian journalists have been released by US forces (Iranian journalists freed in Iraq), if this was the game the Judiciary was playing, then there is a chance Zahedi will be released in the next few days.
And then there is another possibility that the very radical hardliners are holding Zahedi hoping to sabotage Iran-US rapprochement. Judging from the fact that most people who have ended up in solitary confinement in Evin have eventually confessed to something, it would be no surprise if Zahedi, breaks, if he already hasnt, and confesses to spying for US! As an Iranian-American who has been pampered living a comfortable life here, I myself am ready to confess to anything with the slightest pressure on my thumb! In fact even the hint of pressing my thumb will do it But Zahedis potential appearance on the TV screen and confessing to spying for US will only be another re-run of this often repeated episode, and it will certainly not attract a large audience. The hardliners need to become more creative to attract better crowds! But then again the hardliners could care less about crowds. Its been a long time the crowds have deserted them, and judging from the way the people have voted, or in the case of the last Council election, not have voted, the demands of the people have nothing in common with the hardliners views. But the hardliners continue to hold both hands tightly around the rudder and are hell-bent on leading the ship to the rocks!
Still its unlikely that Zahedi will be kept for long in confinement. He only has a short-term value for the hardliners, and after he has served his purpose he will be freed. Certainly Zahedi is suffering hugely in an Evin solitary cell right now. But then again he is a political scientist with great awareness of what is going on Iran, and even if he was not prepared for the treatment he is receiving, he must have been aware that there are consequences for people who take people to people exchanges too seriously and ask too many questions or poke their noses in the wrong places.
But there is a plus side to this for Dariush Zahedi. When he returns to his academia life, hopefully very soon, he will have first-hand knowledge about the way the Iranian political factions operate, especially those in the Information Ministry and the Judiciary! And hopefully that will help further his research in his field J
As for the Iranian Judiciary, Zahedis case will only serve as another minus! Zahedis case is just further evidence that Zahra Kazemis brutal killing by her interrogators was not an isolated incident and that we should expect more of the same from the Judiciary as it stands. What the Judiciary will sow out of Zahedis treatment is nothing but more shame and disgrace!
About the author:
Ali Moayedian is an Iranian-American residing in San Francisco Bay Area. http://www.payvand.com/news/03/nov/1017.html
Curbing Nuclear Proliferation
An Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei
Arms Control Today
ACT: Obviously, it looks like theres been some good news this morning coming out of Tehran. I just wanted to get your reaction to Irans announcement that it will allow IAEA inspections and suspend its uranium-enrichment activities.
ElBaradei: Yes, its encouraging news
[but] I still need to be briefed on Irans exact commitment. However, this is in line with their commitment to me last week that they are ready to come with a full declaration of all their past nuclear activities and they are ready to conclude a protocol to regulate their future nuclear activities.
And if the news today is correct that they are also ready to suspend, or apply a moratorium on, their enrichment activities as a confidence-building measure, as called [for] by the [the IAEA Board of Governors] in their decision last month, then I think this will open the way for hopefully a comprehensive settlement of the Iranian issues through verification and through political dialogue.
ACT: If this does play out in term of the details that you are hearing, would this address the fundamental concerns that the international community has about Irans nuclear programs?
ElBaradei: Well, I think we still have to verify whatever declaration we will get and make sure that it is comprehensive and accurate. So, that would take care of the past activities. We then also need to have the protocol and make sure that all future activities in Iran would be under our verification. As you know, we never have 100 percent certainty. Thats why we would like to have in Iran and everywhere else a continuous process of inspections, and we need the authority of the protocol to enable us in a country with an extensive knowledge and program to do a comprehensive job.
So yes, if we get a comprehensive declaration and we are able to verify that it is accurate and complete, and if we get the protocol and we are able to implement the protocol in all future activities in Iran, then I think this would be a leap forward in terms of the international communitys concerns about Irans nuclear program.
ACT: Have you discussed the latest talks at all with the [European] foreign ministers?
ElBaradei: I think I am going to have that
either tonight or tomorrow.
Export Controls for Nuclear Weapons Technology
ACT: Switching to another subject, we just read your very interesting article in the [October 16] Economist. You mention that the sheer diversity of [nuclear] technology has made it harder to control both procurement and sales of that technology. What steps would you suggest to alleviate this problem?
ElBaradei: You mean in terms of export control or overall?
ACT: Export control or any other steps we can take to deal with this diversity of technology that you mention.
ElBaradei: I think export control is obviously something where we need to continue to tighten the screws. It is becoming more and more difficult; a lot of these items are dual-use, but I think that one possibility is to obviously link arms export controls to the conclusion and implementation of additional protocols. I think it would be particularly good to see an item that could be used toward a nuclear activity that could only go to a country where the [IAEA] applied a comprehensive and in-depth verification through additional protocols. But export control is just one aspect of the problem and, as you saw in the recent Economist, there are lots of things that we need to do, concurrently if you like, because they reinforce each other.
ACT: Can you elaborate a little more on those? What sort of sequence do you envision, and what are the possibilitiespolitical possibilitiesof implementing those steps as well as the other suggestions that you made?
ElBaradei: Well, I think that the first thing, which is probably the easiest, is to make sure that countries that are parties of the NPT (nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) have safeguard agreements and additional protocols enforced. I think the second step is to make sure that the export control regime is more inclusive, more transparent. The reporting requirements, for example, are shared. For the international community to be vigilant, for efforts to import items for weapons. Again, as I suggested, we need to look into whether the sensitive parts of the fuel cycle need to be multilateralized, such as enrichment and reprocessing activities. In other words, keep national control from weapons-usable material as far [away] as we can. I think that is a very important measure in the regime. To remove HEU (highly enriched uranium) or limit very much HEU and plutonium from the fuel cycle, and if it were to be used, again, it would be under multilateral control.
That will be a major step forward. That will take time, and we need to think about how to move in that direction. Then, obviously we need to continueand that was not in my Economist piecewe need to continue to work on drivers or incentives for why countries work to acquire nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. These are your standard reasons: instability, insecurity, festering disputes, deteriorating economic and social conditions in many parts of the world.
And again, obviously continue to work to delegitimize nuclear weapons. We continue to have nuclear weapons relied on as a weapon of choice. If that policy were to continue, we continue to have countries who are in a security bind, if you like, or perceive themselves to be in security bind to look for acquisition of nuclear weapons. So, we need to delegitimize the nuclear weapon, and by de-legitimizing
meaning trying to develop a different system of security that does not depend on nuclear deterrence. But also, we need at the same time to provide some system of inclusive security where countries do not feel that their security is threatened and they need to provide themselves a deterrent like the big boys. These are issues that we need to look at; they all reinforce each other. There is a relationship between all these measures.
I firmly believe that in the long run you cannot just continue to have the privileged few relying on either nuclear weapons or the nuclear weapons umbrella and others are told, You cannot have nuclear weapons, because again we continue to have these failures. We continue to act as simply fire brigades, trying to put a fire out somewhere, and then we discover there is a fire erupting somewhere else. We need to change the whole nonproliferation security environment and with that also have a much more inclusive, comprehensive nonproliferation regime.
Changing the Nonproliferation Regime
ACT: Youre calling for some significant changes. I guess you dont think that the nonproliferation regime is doing that very well right now. Is that fair to say? Would you characterize things that way?
ElBaradei: I think it is fair to say that it is under a great deal of stress, and if I am asking for significant changes, it is because the world is going through significant changes. A few years back, the terrorist phenomenon was not the major phenomenon we had to face. Efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction were not with the intensity we see in the last few years. The security threats are changing, and with it our response needs to change.
ACT: Now, the steps you called forare these things the IAEA can implement on its own, or does this need political action by the member states?
ElBaradei: Well, I think we need
first of all, we need the realization by member states that the system we have right now is inadequate and needs to be improved. Once you have that, you know, sinking in, that feeling that you need to change the system, then I think we can move forward. Some of these measures, of course, we can do within the confines on the IAEA. Thats basically the question of more comprehensive safeguards, more intrusive verifications, possibly multilateralizing the sensitive aspects of the fuel cycle.
Other parts, of course, have to be dealt with somewhere else, primarily in the United Nations developing a better system of collective security or energizing the system of collective security, trying to intervene early in situations of threats of weapons of mass destruction or massive violation of human rights. So, its between the agency, between the United Nations, between some of the regional organizations like the European Union, NATO. Everybody has to chip in, I think, and see how we can have a functioning system of collective security where we do not continue to face the threat of countries trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction or particularly nuclear weapons. Right now what we have is countries [having nuclear weapons] because of historical incidents. They developed them in the 50s and 60s or
that again, that was not meant to be the norm in the future. It was suppose to be a temporary situation. We need to bite the bullet and see how we can move beyond nuclear weapons deterrence, and I think that we have not done that yet.
ACT: Many critics argue that one weakness currently in the nonproliferation regime is that it allows states-parties to withdraw after acquiring the equipment necessary to develop fissile material. Do you have any recommendations for overcoming this problem?
ElBaradei: Well I think, again, the whole system needs to be linked to security. I mean, it is not
we should not and I see undue reliance on saying that countries are in the system and they need to comply. Thats correct. But we also need two things. The system needs to continue to serve their security needs. You cannot expect them to continue to participate as a part of the system if their security is not being served. And the fact that they can withdraw from the treaty
I mean, thats true, but that doesnt mean thats the end of the road.
If you look, I think, in 1992, there was a Security Council meeting at the summit where they had heads of states and government. At that meeting, I think they issued a declaration saying that the proliferation of nuclear weaponsI think weapons of mass destructionis a threat to international peace and security. What does that mean? That even if a country were to move out of the regime, and there are indications that they are developing weapons, the Security Council is going to come back after them. So yes, countries have a right to opt out of the regime if their supreme national interest, or what have you, is threatened, but that does not mean that the Security Council cannot come back after themnot because they walked out of the regime but because their situation is a threat to international peace and security.
If you want a treaty whereby there is no withdrawal whatsoever, you then have to have a universal treaty. Thats what I am really arguing at the end of the daythat you have a regime which prohibits nuclear weapons, which is universally applied and which is regarded as a peremptory norm of international law, which means that whether you are in or out, you are bound by that regime. But we are still a long way from that because the regime that we have now is not universal: you have countries outside the regime, and even inside the regime are countries, that continue to have nuclear weapons. So under the present regime, countries need to keep this opting-out clause because they might be in a position or their security, as they say, might be threatened by a state, and they need to opt out.
It is clearly a weakness. But we need to deal with [that] short term by saying to those who want to walk out that walking out is not clearly justified or that the Security Council can in fact examine the situation and might come to a different conclusion. And in the long term, lets work for a universal regime where it is applied and there is no opting out.
Limiting Access to Nuclear Technology
ACT: I had a question about Article IV of the NPT, which was a chief incentive for countries to join the NPT and which provided for the sharing of peaceful nuclear technology. Given the concerns raised about the spread of dual-use nuclear technology, do you think that there is anything that can be done to provide countries with other incentives to belong to the nonproliferation regime? And if so, what would they be?
ElBaradei: To provide other incentives, you mean
ACT: Yes, because Article IV is suppose to be an incentive, but its caused a lot of concern about dual use [for both civilian and military applications] of technologies.
ElBaradei: Well, first of all, we now have everybody with the exception of India, Pakistan, and Israel, and I dont think these three countries are going to join by simply providing them an incentive, in terms of technology. They already themselves have the technology, in many ways, indigenously developed.
But on Article IV, I dont think Article IV is a problem. I think the problem under the NPT is that you can have the full gamut of fuel-cycle technologies, and that really is the problem. The concern is not that a country has a power reactor or a research reactor. The concern is that the country might have a reprocessing capability or an enrichment capability, which would enable it to develop nuclear weapon-usable material. And I think in the future one can think of having, in my view, possibly an additional protocol to the NPT, whereby you limit the right ofthe individual right ofcountries to have certain parts of the fuel cycle.
Again, I come back to the multilateralization of the fuel cycle. So, you can say Article IV is applicable, we will give you the technology to use it for health, agriculture, medicine, radiotherapy, cancer treatment, water, you can have it for research reactors, you can have a power reactor. But if you need enriched uranium or you need to reprocess plutonium, that should not be under national control, it should be under international control or the very least some sort of multilateral process. You would continue to provide the technology, you would continue to give countries access to the technology, but you would restrict the parts of the fuel cycle that create the most concern, and these are, in my view, the reprocessing and enrichment and also, possibly, a final repository where you have spent fuel with plutonium in it.
Realizing Article VI Disarmament Commitments
ACT: Getting back to the question of nuclear weapons states and delegitimizing nuclear weapons, what do you think would be some of the most important near-term steps that nuclear weapons states could take toward meeting their Article VI disarmament obligations?
ElBaradei: I think, to start, they need to have a major reduction in their existing arsenals. I read we still have something near 30,000 warheads in existence. Thats absolutely unjustifiable by any scenario of nuclear deterrence. We can still have, I think, the nuclear weapon states can have major, major cuts in their nuclear arsenals to show their commitment towardto show that they are serious in implementing their commitment under Article VI. We still have the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty), which has always been regarded as a key to the implementation of Article VI, unratified. We still have the FMCT (Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty), which would put a cap on fissile materials for weapons. We are not even able to agree on a method to negotiate for the last 10 years.
So, these are to me three clear indicators of the seriousness of the weapon states on moving forward implementing Article VI. Even the CTBT is not really the panacea because, as we know now, we can do a lot of testing through computer simulation and subcritical testing.
So, at the very minimum, at least we have a ban on nuclear testing, we have a ban on producing yet again additional material for weapons, and [we] try to move energetically on getting rid of many of the stockpiles that are still in existence; even if they are not operational, we still need to dispose of all the warheads. When we come to a situation where we have hundreds instead of the thousands we have, then we need obviously to take the second step, and thats what sort of alternative security regime we will have if we are to dispose completely of nuclear weapons.
But we are not even there yet because we are still far away from reaching this low threshold, which would force us at that time to think of the alternative system, although in my view we need to start thinking today of what kind of world we can have if we do not have nuclear weapons and how we can assure our security. We definitely need a reliable system of security, but a system that does not rely on nuclear weapons, and possibly more of an inclusive system that does not rely on unilateral or preemptive use of force but rooted primarily in the collective security system which we have under the UN Charter. If you have a collective system of security, then you need to develop. Again, the system you have now is almost dormant. You need to deal with the new threats. How do you deal with the possible cheats, even if you ban nuclear weapons? How do you deal with imminent threats of massive abuse of human rights, genocide? You need to have a collective system but also a collective system that is not paralyzed by veto or by [lack of] consensusa collective system that is dynamic, that even in certain situations has to be preemptive. Given some of the risks right now, we cannot just wait until things happen. You need to take the initiative, and you need to be preemptive. But you need to be preemptive within a collective system and based on an international legitimacy.
ACT: Do you think the nuclear weapons states stance on their Article VI commitments has influenced other countries decisions maybe to lag in concluding additional protocols to their safeguards agreements?
ElBaradei: Yeah, I think some of the countries have been, frankly, grumbling that no progress on nuclear disarmament has made them rethink their obligations, the urgency of them concluding additional protocols. I heard that argument made here in the [IAEA] by a number of large and small non-nuclear weapons states: Why should we rush into an additional protocol if the weapon states are not energetically pursuing [the] Article VI process?
India, Israel, Pakistan
ACT: Turning to the outliers of the NPTIndia, Israel, and Pakistantheyve obviously been a persistent concern for nonproliferation advocates. Do you think the NPT can survive without these countries membership, and if they choose to stay outside the treaty, is there any progress that can be made short of getting them to sign up?
ElBaradei: I think the NPT can survivehas survivedwithout them. But I think, ultimately, that the nonproliferation regime will not survive without them. The NPT is a part of the regime, and if we talk about the regimeglobal, universal, enduringthen it will not survive without the three. Until we manage to bring them into the regime, I think we need to continue to start a dialogue with them. I for one believe that, rather than just trying to continue treating them as pariahs, we need to try and see how we can engage them as partners in an arms control process, maybe not necessarily under or within the framework of the NPT but within the framework of a larger arms control process.
As you probably know, they were supposed to be a part of the FMCT, they were supposed to be a part of the CTBT, [but] they havent yet joined either of these. None of them have ratified the CTBT, and we dont yet have serious negotiations regarding the FMCT. I think we need to engage. I think the policy, right now in my view, the wise policy would be to engage these three countries and not just to continue to treat them as an outsider because, in the long run, we need to get everybody on board. And if we havent succeeded to get them through the NPT, we need to think of other ways to get them on board.
ACT: Turning to the question of North Korea, in the event that a settlement to this crisis is reached, what do you think needs to be done to verify a freeze or a dismantlement of the nuclear facilities, in terms of technical tools or a political agreement?
ElBaradei: Well, again we do not know what exactly they have right now. We need to go back in the country and do a proper verification. And I think we need at a minimum an additional protocol with the safeguards agreement and possibly some additional rights to ensure that we have a powerful system to detect every aspect of the nuclear program. I think we clearly need all the intelligence information that we can get. We need satellite imagery, which we now use almost as a routine. We need environmental sampling.
I think, with the new technology, the verification system is becoming much more powerful than, say, a decade ago. But we need the authority to apply that system, which means right of access, right of no-notice of inspection, right of getting all the information we need. So, I would say, at the minimum, I think we would need the additional protocol and possibly again, if we go back and discover that we need some additional authority, then we need to make North Korea understand that they should be as transparent as possible.
Again, if I can revert back to Iran for a second, I made the statement in the last couple of months that, you know, sometimes if you have a complex nuclear program that has not been subject to verification and you need to create credible assurance, you cannot just stick to the legal requirements of a safeguard agreement or protocol, but what you are really looking for is absolute comprehensive transparency by the country. If the country is cooperating, if they are claiming they have nothing to hide, they have every interest to work closely with us.
So, the short answer is yes, we need as much authority that we haveat the minimum, additional protocolsbut expect that we might ask for an additional measures of transparency by North Korea if we are not able to resolve certain issues through simply [an] additional protocol or safeguard agreement.
ACT: Is there anything you can say about North Koreas uranium-enrichment program?
ElBaradei: Not really. You hear that they confess to having an enrichment program, you hear again that they have denied that they have an enrichment program. So, the only way to really get the facts is to go back and do verification. At this stage, I am not able to say with any degree of confidence whether they do or do not have a uranium-enrichment
ACT: Technically, as you know, it is much more difficult to verify a uranium-enrichment program. How confident are you that, if you did have access there, you would be able to verify whether or not they had a uranium-enrichment program?
ElBaradei: Its not easy because, as you said, uranium enrichment could be a very small facility and you cannot detect it through environmental sampling. But we will have to continue to rely on information, intelligence information, satellite monitoring, environmental sampling. But also I think the key to any verification process is to continue doing that. We will never, even after a year or two, be able to say, We have 100 percent certainty. We dont have 100 percent certainty anywhere, and therefore the solution is to be there all the time, and I think North Korea will not be an exception. We will reach a point when we say, Yes, we believe that we have no indication they have anything undeclared. But thats not sufficient. We need to continue to be there all the time, and as I said, if they are cooperative, cooperating with us, if they are showing transparency, then we have a higher degree of certainty, but in all situations, we need to be there all the time. Can I give 100 percent assurance? No, I cant, in Korea or anywhere else. The answer is that I am there all the time to be able to catch anything which we have not detected previously, and if a country were to be detected in noncompliance, then obviously
then the international community has to react and they have to react strongly to any breach or any
I don't feel sorry for him.
He's a ranking member of the AIC which is funded by oil companies and those extremely close with the Islamic Republic.
He probably broke ranks and is now paying the price.
Some background info. on American Iranian Council
"Zahedi has served as the director of West Coast operations of American Iranian Council."
(No, this doesn't (IMO) justify his being tortured - if he is)
Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran
AIC, Exposed and Withdrawn!
Due to the widespread protest by the Iranians residing in the US, the California State University, Northridge withdrew the American Iranian Council (AIC) as the CIRA conference co-sponsor. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the protest and numerous phone calls and e-mails, a university representative met with the political and human rights activists in LA. The arguments made and the documents presented regarding the AIC lobbying activities for a terrorist regime were instrumental in removal of the AIC.
The following letter and documents regarding AIC were forwarded by MEHR to the University President .
Honorable Jolene Koester, President
Northridge, CA 91330-8230
Dear President Koester,
We are writing to you to express our concerns about the disturbing news that California State University, Northridge is hosting a conference sponsored by the Iranian American Council (AIC) on 3/28/03.
The AIC is a known lobby group for the Islamic Republic of Iran and has been an advocate of unconditional relations with that regime, a terrorist regime that has tormented the Iranian people and the whole world since its inception. The IRI has been recognized as the most active terrorist regime in the world and is on the top of the terrorist list of the US State Department. Although the US Anti terrorism Act prohibits any aid to and
association with terrorists, the AIC has made use of every possible outlet to promote its agenda.
The AIC has the full support and backing of many financial institutions who will profit from such ventures. The AIC's goals go beyond academic, social, or cultural interests. As a group of scholars and human rights activists, we at MEHR encourage and promote cultural, academic, political, and social exchange with scholars from diverse backgrounds and ideologies. However, we strongly believe that we should not allow such forum to be manipulated by a lobby group for advancing its' political and economical goals.
AICs agenda regarding the unconditional re-establishment of relation with Islamic Regime of Iran, is well known and documented. The 3/29/02 Editorial of Washington Times states partly that:
Mounting evidence that Tehran is shielding hundreds of fleeing al Qaeda terrorists and is working to destroy what's left of the Arab-Israeli peace process have made it increasingly difficult to push for "closer" U.S.-Iranian ties with a straight face. Nevertheless, a number of high-powered folks in Washington seem determined to try.
The designated vehicle for their campaign is an organization calling itself the American Iranian Council (AIC). The AIC's board of corporate "sponsors and collaborators" includes prominent oil and gas companies that have been effectively shut out of exploration in Iran as a result of U.S. economic sanctions.
In another article published by Daily Insight on 4/01/02, Kenneth Timmerman writes:
The American-Iranian Council is financed by major U.S. corporations seeking to remove U.S. trade sanctions on Iran. The group regularly calls for a "dialogue" between the U.S. and clerical regime in Tehran, with the clear suggestion that the roadblocks to dialogue are in Washington.
. Biden was strongly criticized by Iranian-Americans for attending a fund-raiser held by members of the AIC and another pro-Tehran lobbying group in California last month, as Insight recently reported.
AIC itself is not shy in demonstrating its delight to appease the Islamic Regime. AICs brochure titled Identity, Track Record & Growth Plan 2001-2005 contains eight photos of AICs members and directors that are happily socializing with the representatives of the Islamic Regime. Some of these photos may be viewed at: http://mehr.org/photos.htm
Economical interests drive the AIC and as such, these are the organization's motives in pursuing the re-establishment of US relations with a terrorist regime. Majorities of the people in charge of the coordination of this conference are known to be in favor of friendly relations with IRI. Many renowned scholars will take part in this conference as a result of their academic pursuits, not realizing how the forum will be manipulated by the
AIC; many others have deliberately stayed away as they did not wish to promote AIC's non-academic goals.
We believe that the academic community should be at the forefront of promoting the human rights values and exposing the human rights violation whenever possible. Unfortunately, the role of the AIC so far, has been to conceal such violations and to rationalize the clerics' actions by falsely portraying a possible change in the behavior of terrorists through making deals with them.
Please do not help them to reach this inhumane goal by misusing the prestige of the California State University and do not allow this conference to be held under AICs sponsorship. We would welcome the possibility of any other organization, independent of the Islamic Regime, to sponsor this conference. Several thousands of freedoms loving Iranians/Americans expect you to kindly address their concerns regarding this sensitive issue.