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To: F14 Pilot
Western tourists kidnapped in Iran
Mon 8 December, 2003 12:58

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Armed drug runners have kidnapped one Irish and two German tourists on a cycling trip in southeast Iran and demanded five million euros (3.5 million pounds) for their release, Iranian government sources have told Reuters.

The sources, who declined to be named, said the kidnapping took place last week in Sistan-Baluchestan province close to Iran's borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"They were travelling on bicycles on the road between (the cities of) Bam and Zahedan when the smugglers kidnapped them," one of the sources said on Monday.

The sources declined to say what efforts were being made for the hostages' release.

Irish embassy officials in Tehran could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry said it was possible an unspecified number of Germans had been kidnapped but declined to give further details.

"There are indications that Germans are possibly involved. I cannot add anything else," she said. "The foreign ministry has set up a crisis team."

Sistan-Baluchestan province is a major smuggling route used by well-armed drug runners moving opium from Afghanistan to western Europe.

Kidnapping of Westerners is rare in Iran, which has been trying to promote itself as a tourist destination in recent years.

There was a spate of kidnappings in southern Iran in 1999 when drug traffickers seized 10 Europeans in three separate incidents.

All the hostages were eventually freed unharmed and three of the convicted kidnappers were executed at public hangings in 2001.
13 posted on 12/08/2003 6:32:29 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
Stern words for Iran

President Bush scored a diplomatic success when the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency presented Iran with a forceful ultimatum to end its quest for nuclear weapons. The board recently adopted a resolution that condemns Iran's past failure to comply with the requirements of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and warns against "further serious Iranian failures."
The resolution represents, in effect, one last chance for Iran to demonstrate that it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons in violation of its international treaty obligations. In its final form, it was far tougher than the version originally proposed by Britain, France and Germany. That draft reflected promises made by foreign ministers from the three European governments to Tehran in October when they obtained an Iranian promise to acknowledge past breaches of the treaty and to cooperate with international inspectors. In exchange, the three promised they would block any effort by the United States to hale Iran before the United Nations Security Council to face possible economic sanctions.

But Washington -- playing bad cop to Europe's good cop -- continued to demand that Iran be held accountable for its past breaches of international law. The compromise makes it clear that any future evidence of cheating by Iran will most likely be referred to the Security Council. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, said the board had sent "a serious and ominous message that failures in the future will not be tolerated."

Matters could come to a head as early as March, when the IAEA board next meets. A senior U.S. official told the Financial Times of London that Iran continues to conceal nuclear weapons activity. "The Europeans will be embarrassed because disclosures will come out that Iran has not admitted to everything," he said.

The key issue for the future of the Iranian nuclear program is whether Iran will carry out its promise to renew its suspended program for enrichment of uranium. Washington and the European governments agree that the enrichment program would enable Iran to easily manufacture fuel for nuclear weapons, and want Iran to give it up. Iran appears to be undecided between giving away the enrichment option in exchange for some benefit and running the risk that it can restart the program and escape sanctions. Iran has now been clearly warned about the risks of the latter strategy.
14 posted on 12/08/2003 6:34:17 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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