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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

1 posted on 02/02/2004 12:06:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

2 posted on 02/02/2004 12:10:38 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.

Keep the reports coming, Doc.

3 posted on 02/02/2004 12:11:53 AM PST by xJones
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To: DoctorZIn
Claiming Defence Only to Proliferate

February 02, 2004
Bangkok Post News
bangkokpost.com

The world should be shocked into action by the discovery of banned nuclear facilities inside newly neighbourly Libya and suddenly cooperative Iran. A few antagonistic countries insist on the right to develop terrible weapons systems in secret. People may say that international inspections by suspicious nuclear experts violate national sovereignty. The correct reply from now on must be to ask what they have to hide.

The world has a right to an answer to this pertinent question. North Korea has recently invited groups to observe its nuclear weapons programme and seems closer to playing the extortion card than ever. The administration has told private groups it is on the verge of testing nuclear weapons. The regime could be dissuaded from these tests by large and generous amounts of aid, along with promises to leave Pyongyang alone. Diplomats hope negotiations can bring a solution. Others, undiplomatically, properly call the Pyongyang position nuclear blackmail.

The truth is international agreements on proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons have broken down because of a tiny minority of rogues. Almost all countries not only welcome inspections by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, they facilitate them. Almost all countries report honestly and properly on their stocks of terrible weapons. Almost all countries report the labs, equipment and personnel they have to build the worst weapons.

No weapons treaty, however, contains enforcement procedures. For some 30 years, Libya flaunted rules on chemical and nuclear weapons. Now, Tripoli has seen the advantages of cooperation, and will reap the rewards of membership in the international community once again. North Korea is the best known country trafficking in illegal weapons. It threatens neighbours, conducts business with the worst types of governments and groups, and greatly harms its own people.

There also are cases like Taiwan and Israel, whose governments maintain terrible weapons secretly in the questionable name of national defence. Superpowers can also contribute. Last week, nuclear power China decided to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which monitors and restricts the proliferation of weapons and the technology to build them.

In recent weeks, the United States, Japan and South Korea have said little about the Pyongyang part of the ``axis of evil''. Washington has properly treated Iraq, Iran and North Korea as separate cases. Clearly, the hope is that China can convince its long-time ally that its best hope is to cooperate with the world. It is likely the dictator Kim Jong-il can survive yet another winter by scraping up income through aid _ including from Washington _ and illegal, covert weapons sales like the recent Scud missiles smuggled to Yemen.

Mr Kim is most worried about his survival. In fact, while his fall and the collapse of his regime would be welcomed in decent circles everywhere, the fallout from a Pyongyang political implosion would be massive. A far more attractive solution would see a change of policy in Pyongyang, where the nuclear programme and illicit weapons sales halt immediately, in return for which the world would help North Korea develop into a responsible and economically improving state.

The time has come to challenge and to rein in the tiny handful of rogue nations using the pretext of national defence to proliferate. The world must face Pyongyang and a number of other uncooperative countries with more determination. North Korea has the right to develop a system of national defence. Every country has the duty to defend its borders and thus its citizens. In these dangerous days, however, no country has the right to challenge peace and stability.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/02Feb2004_news28.html
4 posted on 02/02/2004 12:23:01 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Skating on Thin Ice

February 01, 2004
The Hindustan Times
Rajesh Mishra

The unraveling mysteries from North Korea to Iran and Libya to Saudi Arabia, hint at suspected Pakistani involvement in State-sponsored foreign collaborations.

The Pakistani argument that key nuclear scientists have acted upon unauthorised ‘personal ambition and greed’ seems an attempt to divert international attention. In any case, the danger of WMD spreading out of Pakistan remain alarmingly high.

Last year, a sales brochure from the Khan Research Laboratory offering equipment and assistance in enrichment of uranium was obtained from outside Pakistan. It raised proliferation concerns and also questions on whether such offers were being clandestinely sold to other countries. The international community, including the US, seemed to show a lack of sensitivity in such matters till recently. Now, however, Islamabad’s nuclear history is under sharp western media focus.

In August 2000, The Guardian published a notice for the export of 11 radioactive substances, including depleted and enriched uranium, plutonium and tritium and 17 types of equipment, including nuclear power reactors, nuclear research reactors and reactor control systems.

A former army chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg, was quoted as saying in the news daily: “We have enough material to maintain our low-level nuclear deterrence and so much in surplus that we can sell it in the open market. It is a respectable way of earning money.” The realities now disclosed project a larger picture of unlawful deals.

Undermining international no-rms, Islamabad has received extensive technology and systems support from Beijing to create its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan-China collaboration in nuclear matters, in turn, propelled an arms race in South Asia. During the course of developing a nuclear weapons infrastructure in the country, a new corpus of nuclear experts was raised under the leadership of its ace scientist, A.Q. Khan, in Pakistan. Khan himself was dismissed as advisor to the president this past week. The scientific capabilities Pakistan received from China and other nations are now widely believed to be spreading to different parts of the world, including Iran.

The Washington Post of December 21, 2003 reported that Iran’s nuclear programme was tied to Pakistan. It revealed that a probe of Iran’s secret nuclear programme pointed to Pakistan as the source of crucial technology. Islamabad refuted the allegation.

A few weeks earlier, a story in The Times of November 13, 2003 had Iran admitting that Pakistan gave it key nuclear help. The Pakistan foreign ministry called the report ‘totally baseless’ and ‘anti-Islamic’. However, literature on defence and strategic matters suggest that nuclear cooperation between Iran and Pakistan started in 1986. Pakistan has also refuted reports that Khan made secret visits to Iran.

The two senior scientists arrested in early December last year, Yasin Chauhan, Director-General of Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), and Mohammad Farooq, laboratory director at KRL, had worked under Khan. Pakistan has critical uranium enrichment and missile development facilities at KRL. In March 2003, the Americans had imposed sanctions on KRL for missile related transfers from North Korea.

A Japanese newspaper has also reported that North Korea had sent three scientists to Pakistan in 1999 to study uranium enrichment technology. According to media and intelligence sources, Pakistan-North Korea relations for arms transfer are now some three decades old, beginning with North Korea’s supply of artillery, ammunition and military equipment to Islamabad. The initial trade relation was based on North Korea’s need for hard currency and Pakistan’s demand for army equipment. The watershed of State-level authorisation for carrying covert projects can be said to have rigorously started since Benazir Bhutto came to power for the first time in December 1988 and subsequently sent a few officials to North Korea for a feasibility study of new opportunities. It is widely believed that Bhutto herself travelled to Pyongyang in 1993.

One of the reasons speculated behind the removal of Khan from KRL was his links with North Korea. Still, as late as in July 2002, US spy satellites detected the shipment of missile parts from North Korea. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf refuses to accept the charges. “We work on solid fuel and they operate on liquid fuel. We do not need to exchange anything with them,” he said in a recent interview.

However, in early November 2003, during his visit to South Korea, Musharraf also said a reported visit to North Korea by Khan was connected with the purchase of conventional short-range missiles, not sales of nuclear technology.

The denial and then acceptance in parts stands to prove that Pakistan’s refutation of intelligence and media disclosures cannot be taken at face value. Discoveries that some members of Pakistan’s scientific community are under the influence of extreme ideologies further raise the fear of sensitive information, technology or material falling into rogue hands. Khan himself once said: “All western countries, including Israel, are not only the enemies of Pakistan but, in fact, of Islam.” Other scientists like Bashir-uddin Mahmood also have strong ideological affiliations based on religious faith.

Mahmood, along with a few others, was arrested for his alleged links with al-Qaeda. Two other scientists, Mohammad Ali Mukhtar and Suleiman Asad, were slipped out of Pakistan on the pretext of ‘research’ in Myanmar.

It was reported that Mahmood, who was arrested on October 23, 2001, had several meetings in August 2001 with Osama bin Laden, one of his top lieutenants, Al Zawahiri, and two other al-Qaeda officials in Kabul. Mahmood also had meetings with Mohammad Omar, head of the ousted Taliban government, during his visit to Kandahar in 2001.

‘Dirty’, or radiological dispersal bombs, may be a disastrous fallout of the association of nuclear scientists with terrorist outfits. Indications of such a possibility became stronger with the arrests of Abu Zubaydah in April 2002 and, two months later, Abdulla al Muhajir alias Jose Padilla. Western intelligence sources believe that Padilla and an associate researched the manufacture and detonation of dirty bombs in Lahore.

In January 2003, an agency news report stated through official documents from the Chashma nuclear power plant that, between 1997 and 2002, at least nine senior nuclear scientists had absconded from Pakistan; the latest defection was as recently as in July 2002. Though the reasons given were poor working conditions and low salary structures, the reality is yet to surface.

At a time when its nuclear history is under scrutiny, Pakistan has been trying to shift responsibility to the so-called ‘unauthorised ambitious’ scientists for their illicit relations with foreign actors. When a State itself is suspected of unlawful nuclear and missile collaborations with other countries, the scientists alone cannot be blamed.

Is it possible that the scientists involved in State-managed clandestine deals overreached the arrangement of cooperation? If so, was it a planned move to overlook this extended relationship? Or was the Pakistan government unable to question the illegitimate affairs within secret arrangements that involved a scientist like Khan? Is it plausible that the scientists would act independently in a situation where the military-ISI nexus works closely with them? The safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons complex is at stake. By the time Bush gets an assurance from his ‘stand-up guy’, Musharraf, the damage would already have been done.

The writer is a defence analyst based in New Delhi

http://www.iranvajahan.net/manage/article.shtml
5 posted on 02/02/2004 12:24:21 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Assefi Says Iran and Russia Discrepant on Atomic Fuel Disposal

February 01, 2004
Petroenergy Information Network
K. Soltani

TEHRAN -- Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi stated that there was disagreement between Iran and Russia as to how the spent nuclear fuel at Bushehr atomic power plant should be disposed of.

Asked whether the dispatches about the upcoming visit by Russian minister of atomic energy to Tehran were accurate, Assefi said that he was not sure about such a trip and it was not clear whether the Russian minister would make the visit or not.

He said the main reason for continued delay of Rumyantsev’s expected visit was technical differences between Tehran and Russia with regard to disposal of the spent fuel at the power plant.

“We have differences about the executive methods for returning the spent fuel to Russia,” he noted.

The spokesman, however, pointed out that the two countries were in full agreement over completion of the Bushehr plant and making it operational.

http://www.shana.ir/en/news_view.asp?group_id=1&news_id=5726&group_title=News
6 posted on 02/02/2004 12:25:49 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Assefi Says Iran and Russia Discrepant on Atomic Fuel Disposal

February 01, 2004
Petroenergy Information Network
K. Soltani

TEHRAN -- Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi stated that there was disagreement between Iran and Russia as to how the spent nuclear fuel at Bushehr atomic power plant should be disposed of.

Asked whether the dispatches about the upcoming visit by Russian minister of atomic energy to Tehran were accurate, Assefi said that he was not sure about such a trip and it was not clear whether the Russian minister would make the visit or not.

He said the main reason for continued delay of Rumyantsev’s expected visit was technical differences between Tehran and Russia with regard to disposal of the spent fuel at the power plant.

“We have differences about the executive methods for returning the spent fuel to Russia,” he noted.

The spokesman, however, pointed out that the two countries were in full agreement over completion of the Bushehr plant and making it operational.

http://www.shana.ir/en/news_view.asp?group_id=1&news_id=5726&group_title=News
7 posted on 02/02/2004 12:29:16 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
More Cheating by Tehran

February 01, 2004
The Washington Times
Editorials/Op-Ed

Tehran doesn't seem to have learned the central lesson from the demise of Saddam Hussein: The rules have changed, and it has become dangerous to lie and play games with the international community when it comes to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Just a few weeks ago, Tehran acknowledged that it is continuing to build uranium-enrichment centrifuges, which are needed to make nuclear weapons. This contradicts the announcement made last fall by Britain, France and Germany that Iran had agreed to halt such activity. In short, the European trio appears to have been hoodwinked.

In September, the U.N.-affiliated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Iran to suspend its uranium-processing and enrichment activities and sign a protocol permitting more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities. Iran agreed to sign the protocol and suspend the activities. In return, Iran gained a promise that it could have more access to high technology from Europe. Then, in December, Iran signed the protocol, much to the relief of politicians and diplomats in Europe and Washington.

Unfortunately, they were jolted back to reality when Iran announced several weeks ago that it is building the centrifuges. Tehran now brazenly claims that the deal does not require it to halt all "enrichment-related" activities and that it has the right to continue to amass centrifuges. France, Britain and Germany disagree with Tehran's very narrow interpretation of the agreement. But Germany wants to use gentle persuasion to get Iran to change its behavior, while Britain, France and IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei may be inclined to ratchet up the pressure if Iran's defiance continues.

"Iran is just the opposite of Libya," one frustrated diplomat told Reuters last month, referring to Moammar Gadhafi's renunciation of WMD and opening facilities up to international inspectors.

Of course, Tehran's cheating is nothing new. It merely continues behavior that has gone on for several decades. In November, the IAEA issued a 30-page report documenting Iranian deception about its nuclear weapons programs dating back to the mid-1980s. At the time, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton warned that if Iran "is continuing to conceal its nuclear program and has again lied to the IAEA, the international community must be prepared to declare Iran in noncompliance with its IAEA safeguards agreements."

Iran's continued cheating could have dire consequences. Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (who has been notably prescient in warning about the Iranian threat) writes in National Review Online that, if Iran fed those centrifuges with the enriched uranium that Russia plans to send it for the light-water Bushehr reactor, Tehran could produce enough material for a bomb "in a matter of weeks."

This week, a who's who of international terrorists — including Hezbollah and al Qaeda offshoots — are meeting in Tehran to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ayatollah Khomeini's seizure of power. This event, known as the "Ten Days of Dawn," serves to remind us all why it would be intolerable to permit the Iranian regime to obtain nuclear weapons and why preventing this should be a top priority for American policy-makers.

http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20040131-104829-5803r.htm
8 posted on 02/02/2004 12:31:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Pakistani Nuclear Scientist Confesses to Sharing Secrets

February 02, 2004
The Christian Science Monitor
Owais Tohid

KARACHI, PAKISTAN -- Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has confessed to sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya, and North Korea in a 12-page document presented to President Pervez Musharraf, according to a briefing given by government officials in Islamabad.

News of the confession followed a decision to dismiss Mr. Khan from his government post on Saturday by the nuclear command authority, a grouping of top military and political officials supervising the probe.

The confession will bolster the government's hand should it decide in the coming days to prosecute Khan - a popular figure who combines the brilliance of Albert Einstein with the nationalist fervor of John Wayne.

"During investigations, Khan said we wanted some other Muslim countries to develop nuclear technology, so pressure on Pakistan could be lessened," says an official close to the investigation. When it was pointed out that North Korea is not a Muslim country, Khan "could not give a specific answer," says the source.

The fate of Khan and other suspects in the probe lies with the nuclear command authority. The options are said to include a military court, a special tribunal, or administrative action. Putting a national hero on trial would be a risky move for Mr. Musharraf, and one that could have far-reaching political implications in a nation that is already sensitive about protecting its sovereignty.

Official sources say the bank accounts of Khan and other suspected individuals have been closely monitored; all suspects are barred from traveling abroad.

Pakistan's covert nuclear program generated controversy last November when the International Atomic Energy Agency probing Iran's nuclear program found evidence that some Pakistani scientists might have aided the neighboring country in its developing nuclear program.

Western intelligence sources say Pakistani scientists also traded uranium enrichment with North Korea and Libya in separate deals.

Sources say the international nuclear body provided the list of at least five scientists and officials associated with the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), a uranium enrichment plant headed by Khan from 1976 to 2001, located just outside the capital city of Islamabad.

Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman says the investigation is concluding as "the bulk of the investigation is completed."

Officials say six suspects remain in custody. Among them are three scientists: former director general of the KRL, Mohammad Farooq, and two other close aides of Khan. Others are administrators and security personnel of the KRL, including two former military brigadiers and Khan's Personal Staff Officer. Khan has not been detained but his movement has been restricted and his Islamabad residence is under 24-hour watch.

"If some of those who were called national heroes have done this, the nation has the right to see the true faces of those who have compromised Pakistan's national interest and used its assets for personal gains," says Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hyat.

Khan is witnessing the end of his golden era spanning almost three decades, during which he was projected as a national asset and his posters adorned the streets. People named their children after him. Cricket clubs and social welfare associations wished to be honored by his participation in generating funds.

Two years ago, Musharraf removed Khan from the active management of the KRL. Khan was given a ceremonial government position - the post stripped from him Saturday.

Opposition parties and a religious alliance of extremist groups coordinated small-scale rallies across the country condemning Musharraf. Ghafoor Ahmed, a senior religious leader, says that religious and political parties should forge an alliance to "protect the country's nuclear program."

The decision to remove Khan, while leaving alone many of his military and government backers, provoked harsh criticism from observers.

"While we say a few scientists were involved, the world will say it couldn't have happened without the knowledge or connivance of the top army brass," the country's leading columnist, Ayaz Amir, wrote in the Dawn newspaper.

It remains to be seen whether the government and military's probe will be widened to include top military officials. Musharraf is expected to discuss the investigation and the dismissal of Khan in a televised address to the nation on Thursday.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0202/p07s02-wosc.html
9 posted on 02/02/2004 12:32:42 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
IRAN HOSTS LEADING INSURGENCY GROUPS

Feruary 2, 2004

NICOSIA [MENL] -- Iran plans to host leading Islamic groups regarded by the United States as terrorist in a 10-day conference next week.

Iranian officials said the conference to discuss strategy against the United States and its allies will begin on Sunday and last 10 days. They said Iran, in wake of an intense debate that pitted reformers against conservatives, has invited such organizations as Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Al Qaida allies such as Ansar Al Islam.

The conference, termed "Ten Days of Dawn," is meant to mark the 25th anniversary of the return to Iran from exile of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the revolution that ousted the Shah of Iran in 1979. Officials said the conference, ordered by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, marks Iran's investment in fostering Islamic insurgency groups in the Middle East, Asia and South America.

Hizbullah, sponsored by Iran in 1983, will have the largest presence in the Teheran conference. Hizbullah will be represented by 17 branches around the world.

11 posted on 02/02/2004 3:25:34 AM PST by Arkie2
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Reformists Push for Election Delay

February 02, 2004
Reuters
Amir Paivar and Paul Hughes

TEHRAN -- Iran's reformists are pushing for a postponement of this month's parliamentary elections in a showdown with hardliners which has plunged the Islamic Republic into its worst political crisis in years.

After a day of high drama in parliament, where more than 120 reformist lawmakers handed in their resignations on Sunday over the vote row, there was a sense of tense anticipation on Monday.

Reformists are objecting to the decision by the Guardian Council -- an unelected constitutional oversight body run by religious hardliners -- to declare more than 2,000 would-be lawmakers unfit to stand in the February 20 election.

The council's move has led to international concern about the vote's legitimacy and overshadowed celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's return from exile to create an Islamic state.

More than 80 current deputies in the reformist-dominated 290-seat parliament are among those barred from the election.

In a statement issued late on Sunday, reformist lawmakers, dozens of whom have held a sit-in protest at parliament for the last three weeks, said that even if the Guardian Council now relented, the vote must be postponed.

"Even if all disqualified candidates are reinstated in the coming days, the election must be postponed so that all candidates have the time and opportunity to take part in a sound and fair competition," they said.

President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government has in recent days twice asked the Guardian Council -- a 12 member body of clerics and Islamic jurists -- to postpone the election.

Should the council reject the delay request, Khatami's government could refuse to organise the vote. Khatami could also allow provincial governors, who play a key role in administering elections, to carry out their threat to resign over the vote row.

Concerned about such tactics, hardliners have threatened to prosecute any official who hampers the vote by resigning.

A first request for a vote delay by the interior ministry was immediately rejected by the Guardian Council last week. But a second, lodged on Saturday, has not yet been answered.

SUSPECT PACKAGE

Despite the heightened political tension, public interest in the dispute has so far been muted. Disillusioned by years of broken promises of reform, most Iranians have grown apathetic to the ongoing reformist-hardline power struggle.

An official at the Tehran governor's office told the ISNA students news agency a package containing some wiring, but no explosive, was found at parliament's entrance on Sunday after the assembly received an anonymous bomb threat by telephone.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, ministers endorsed a pledge made by Khatami on Saturday that his government would "hold only free and competitive elections," the IRNA news agency said.

With talks between appointed hardliners and elected reformers deadlocked, hopes for a solution are pinned on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini in 1989.

Analysts say Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, may order many of the candidate bans overturned to avert a legitimacy crisis and heightened international criticism.

"It's the leader's time to step in now. Although he often leaves things until the very last moment," said one political analyst who declined to be identified.

Given the proximity of the election and the lengthy case-by-case process needed to confirm the resignations, analysts said the lawmakers' walkout was largely a tactical ploy.

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/WireFeed/WireFeed&c=WireFeed&cid=1074160638583
16 posted on 02/02/2004 8:38:12 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian FM Pursues Prison Exchange with Israel

February 02, 2004
The Media Line
themedialine.org

Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi traveled to Lebanon on Sunday in search of information on four Iranian diplomats who went missing during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, according to news reports.

While Israel is believed to be involved in their disappearance, it maintains that the four were in the custody of Christian militia.

Kharazi said that a committee would be established to research the matter.

The second phase of the Israel-Hizbullah prisoner exchange stipulates that Israel must provide information on the Iranians in exchange for concrete information on missing Israeli pilot Ron Arad. [More details on prisoner exchange.]

Israeli sources believe Arad is in Iranian custody, although he was captured in Lebanon. Iran denies the claim.

http://themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=4685
17 posted on 02/02/2004 8:42:57 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
MP's Office Attacked in Northwest Iran

February 02, 2004
BBC Monitoring
BBC Monitoring Newsfile

Text of report by Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) web site

Tehran -- The former secretary of the Islamic Students Union of the Azad Islamic University of Tabriz was beaten by unidentified people last night at the office of the city's [Majlis] deputy.

Speaking on the telephone to the reporter of the Iranian Labour News Agency, ILNA, Babak Mohammadzadeh, secretary of the Islamic Students Union of the Azad Islamic University of Tabriz, added: At 2300 [local time] last night, two unidentified people, with their faces covered, furtively entered the office of Mr [Akbar] A'lami, deputy for Tabriz, and severely beat Aydin Mowlazadeh, the former secretary of the Islamic Students Union of the Azad Islamic University of Tabriz.

He made the claim that they even intended to strangle Mowlazadeh with a handkerchief and said: They wrote some threatening messages against the Tabriz deputy on the office walls, including "A'lami, either resignation or death".

Mohammadzadeh said: The Law Enforcement Force is now at the office and is investigating the matter.

Mohammadzadeh said these actions marked the start of a new project against the student movement and reformist deputies, and expressed the opinion: The only aim behind these actions is to threaten people, to intimidate them and to sow fear.

Source: Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), Tehran, in Persian 1050 gmt 2 Feb

http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2004&m=02&d=02&a=4
18 posted on 02/02/2004 8:44:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Conservative Says MPs and Governors Who Quit May be Prosecuted

February 02, 2004
AFP
Agence France Presse

An Iranian conservative official involved in rejecting more than 3,000 would-be candidates for elections due this month warned in remarks reported Monday that poll officials and MPs who had resigned in protest could be prosecuted.

"Election officials within the executive, particularly provincial governors, prefects, sub-prefects, must know that, in the present situation, any resignation is viewed as a hindrance to the electoral process and may bring about prosecution," said Hojatoleslam Ahmad Azimizadeh, quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA.

Azizimizadeh is head of the electoral control commission for greater Tehran.

The electoral commissions are responsible to the hardline conservative Guardians Council, which on their advice barred 3,605 of 8,000 would-be candidates for the February 20 elections, most of them reformists.

The move sparked probably the worst political crisis in the history of the Islamic republic, which is marking its 25th anniversary this week.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the Guardians Council to review the files on the barred candidates but it reinstated only 1,160, leaving some 2,500 out of the running, including around 80 sitting MPs.

The provincial governors, charged by the interior ministry with organising the election, resigned afterwards. They were followed on Sunday by around 120 MPs, a move that could paralyse parliament.

"This sort of action against a legal procedure can be viewed as a lack of loyalty towards the Islamic Republic," said Azimizadeh, adding that this was open to prosecution.

He added: "These (MPs') resignations, the tone of the statement which accompanied their action, and the statements of some of the barred candidates, show the Guardians Council carried out its work well, within respect of the law."

His commission was determined to work with the executive so that the elections take place as scheduled, he said, amid reformist demands for the polls to be postponed.

http://www.afp.com/english/home/
19 posted on 02/02/2004 8:45:03 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Rafsanjani Says People will "Blind the Mesmerized Enemy" in Elections

February 02, 2004
BBC Monitoring
BBC Monitoring Newsfile

Excerpt from report by Iranian TV on 2 February

[Announcer] Speaking at the Id al-Adha sermons in Tehran, Hojjat ol-Eslam val Moslemin [Akbar] Hashemi-Rafsanjani pointed out that the anniversary of the victory of Islamic revolution was approaching and stressed: On that day, the world will be jealous of scenes of Iranian people showing their love for the revolution.

The head of the Expediency Council said that the people's presence in various arenas was an indication of their vigilance, adding; This year, the enemy has escalated its attacks on the revolution and we should maintain a powerful presence in the ceremony to mark the anniversary of the victory of the revolution. In this way, we should blind the mesmerized enemy, which is trying to create a rift between the people and officials.

The head of the Expediency Council also expressed the hope that the people's participation in the elections for the seventh Islamic Consultative Assembly will dash the enemies' hopes even more than before.

[Rafsanjani - recording] The first issue we have to deal with are the elections and we are rapidly approaching the date of the elections. Unfortunately, political altercations have occurred between various political groups and factions. This has, to some extent, caused alarm internally. They have also led to attacks abroad. We hope that the adroitness of our officials and wise men and the vigilance of our people will foil this sedition. After the elections, we will, once again, see that our enemies will become despondent and miserable. However, our people will be happy and they will rejoice and they will have a good Majlis. [People say amen]

This can only happen through the vigilance of you people. Allow those who have a different mentality to do whatever they like. However, you people constitute the very fabric of our society. The country belongs to you. The revolution belongs to you. Your massive participation led to the victory of the revolution. Every year, your effective and constant presence in various arenas led to the survival of the revolution. Your support will contribute to the evolution of the revolution as well. Today, you are facing another test. You can rest assured that, at this point in time, Almighty God will support Iran's Islamic revolution.

[Announcer] In another part of the sermons, the Id al-Adha prayer leader referred to the current situation in Iraq, adding that dozens of people had been killed or wounded in the attacks over the last few days in that country. He said: America and Britain have unfairly intervened in Iraq and they are the ones who are responsible for the events in that country.

[Passage omitted: On religious issues]

Source: Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, Tehran, in Persian 1030 gmt 2 Feb 04

http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2004&m=02&d=02&a=6
20 posted on 02/02/2004 8:46:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Reformers to Boycott Elections

February 02, 2004
The Associated Press
FOX News

TEHRAN, Iran -- The leader of Iran's largest pro-reform party said Monday it will boycott Feb. 20 parliamentary elections, saying they would not be free and fair and raising the stakes in the country's growing political crisis.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and brother of Iran's president, said the party would not field any candidates because thousands of liberal candidates have been disqualified from the polls by hard-line clerics of the Guardian Council.

Many of the disqualified candidates are sitting lawmakers, including Khatami, who also is deputy parliament speaker.

"We have no hope for the possibility of free and fair elections. All legal opportunities have been killed," Khatami said.

Earlier, the government spokesman said Iranian Cabinet ministers backed calls to postpone the vote and vowed during an emergency meeting not to hold a sham election. The decision came after Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari presented a report saying conditions for free elections did not exist.

"The Cabinet also agreed not to hold elections that are not competitive, fair and free," spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said.

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami did not attend the Cabinet meeting because he is resting at home with severe back pain.

The five ministers assigned last week to reach a compromise with the council said their efforts had failed "despite showing flexibility," Ramezanzadeh said.

The powerful council ultimately decides when an election is held, but the government's position strengthens the hand of reformists demanding a boycott.

Without the participation of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, enough hard-line candidates will run uncontested to retake control of parliament from the reformists. Reformists won the parliament in 2000 for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and used it as a platform to press for social and political reforms.

The controversy began last month when the Guardian Council, whose 12 members are appointed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, disqualified more than 3,600 of the 8,200 people filing papers to run in the polls.

After protests and an opinion from Khamenei, the council Friday restored 1,160 low-profile candidates to the list — still keeping more than 2,400 candidates out.

Reformists say the council disqualified liberal candidates to fix the election in favor of conservatives. The hard-liners repeatedly have thwarted President Khatami's efforts toward greater democracy and a relaxation of the Islamic social code.

The council denies political motives and argues that the disqualified candidates lacked the criteria to stand for election, even though more than 80 of them were elected in 2000.

Some 124 lawmakers in the 290-seat Majlis, or parliament, resigned Sunday in a dramatic gesture intended to force the clerical hierarchy to reinstate the candidates.

Hard-liners may have to resort to extraordinary measures — perhaps even relying on the elite revolutionary guards and other armed forces — simply to hold the elections in two weeks as scheduled.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,110129,00.html
21 posted on 02/02/2004 8:46:40 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
The Road Not Taken

February 02, 2004
Iran va Jahan
Cyrus Kadivar

Four years before the fall of the Iranian monarchy, Paul E. Erdman published a novel entitled, The Crash of '79. Those who have read it will recall that the villain of the piece was Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, described as a "megalomaniac" who dreams of controlling the Middle East by exploding six nuclear bombs over Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Of course, like all bestsellers the book caused a sensation.

Certainly, the Shah's Iran was awash with the most sophisticated weapons purchased with billions of dollars from the United States and Europe. The Nixon Doctrine had turned Iran into the Policeman of the Persian Gulf and one of the West's most reliable allies in the oil-rich region. It was no secret then that Iranian scientists were engaged in developing their country's atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

In another long forgotten book published in 1977 and entitled The Mind of A Monarch, the Shah revealed his vision for his country with a sense of responsibility for the future that the current Islamic leaders of Iran have squandered. "I have proposed a military nuclear-free zone in the Middle East," the Shah told the author, R.K. Karanjia, an internationally famous Indian journalist.

Far from being the madman in Erdman's thriller, the Iranian monarch stressed that while he had no intention in building atomic weapons his country would pursue atomic energy or nuclear technology for industrial and developmental purposes.

"According to my thinking," he said, "the whole world should collaborate, on the one hand, against nuclear weapons and, on the other, in promoting nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

Fast forward. The Shah's Iran is now part of history. An irresponsible gang of pseudo-clerical despots have ruled the country since the 1979 revolution that brought them to power. In 2003 the international community woke up to the possibility that Iran would possess an atomic bomb in three or five years' time, if not sooner. Worse yet, the Russians have reached the warm waters of the Persian Gulf by building Iran's first nuclear reactor in Bushehr and planning a few more in the near future.

The passage of almost a quarter of a century has given historians enough time to draw comparisons between Iran yesterday and that of today. The Shah's vision before his unforeseen and tragic downfall may have seemed exaggerated at the time it was expressed. Yet, revisiting it again one finds that it contains the key elements of a progressive and rational mindset that has eluded the heirs to Khomeini.

What was the golden road Iran would have taken had there been no Islamic revolution? While still on the Peacock Throne the Shah had envisaged a "Great Civilization" often mocked by his leftist critics as "unattainable."

Perhaps the rapid modernisation was to blame for the rising gap between what was being promised and what was achievable. The sudden liberalisation of the political system had unleashed uncontrollable expectations that the government was unable to influence.

But this vision given what followed in Iran after Khomeini's followers "hijacked" the revolution was a logical aspiration articulated by a leader obsessed by Persia's grandeur. Even in exile, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi went to his grave convinced that Iran's future lay in the next 25 years when it would rank among the globe's five great non-atomic powers in a single generation. That generation was destroyed in 1979.

The current Iranian generation aged between 16-30 appear to be demanding from their masters a volatile mixture of political, economic, social and cultural reforms that would allow it to compete in the highly technological world facing them. The Shah and his technocratic advisors had spoken of developing all Iran's resources to cope with the rising population that was estimated to reach 65 million people.

"Every citizen will have an equal opportunity to show his ability, his skills, his attainments," the Shah had said in 1977. "Within the next two decades, our standard of living will be such that nobody will go hungry and all will be able to eat as much as they can ... We shall have big steel, aluminium and copper industries, and go for atomic and solar energy in a big way…We shall be building more roads, harbours and airports ... We have no aggressive intentions or ambitions."

The revolution changed all that overnight. Iran, once called an "Island of Stability" by US President Carter is now viewed as part of the "Axis of Evil" by President Bush.

Iran's diplomatic successes under the Shah's regime had meant that the country enjoyed international support from the USA, Europe, Japan, Russia, China and many Arab and African states. The revolution overturned any goodwill that existed. A radical regime committed to spreading its violent message unleashed a wave of trouble.

The capture of American embassy staff in Tehran for 444 days, a bloody 8 year war with Iraq that left millions dead, the state sponsorship of terrorism, the development of long-range missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv and London and an ambitious nuclear bomb programme (despite continued denials) has justly raised many diplomatic eyebrows. The "Punch and Judy show" played in Iran by the hardliners and the so-called reformists within the clerical regime is not very comforting.

All this can hardly be conducive to attracting foreign investment, halting the brain drain or reassuring the West that the Iranian regime can become a trusted partner contributing to peace and stability in the Middle East.

Despite recent attempts by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain to quell a mounting crisis over Iran's nuclear program, the US is determined to prove that Iran has "lied" for the past 18 years by, among other things, producing plutonium and enriched uranium in ways that would be useful only for the manufacturing of an "Islamic bomb."

In the late 1970s a seminar was held in Tehran on the Third World in the 21st Century. In a speech given at the time the late Shah warned the participants that the duty of the developed world was "to speed up the development of backward countries" in order to "ensure a new policy of peace and co-operation, as against the old one of the Cold War and co-destruction." Only in this civil manner, he predicted, would mankind be united in an international, harmonious, working partnership.

Such lofty ideals were replaced with several symposiums in recent years inviting the leading heads of various terrorist organisations to unite in combating US influence. The most disturbing allegations that senior members of the notorious Al-Qaeda were hiding in Iran has strengthened the hawkish advocates of a military strike.

The most reassuring development has come from an unexpected quarter: the Iranian society. The struggle between the people and the Islamic state has come at a time when the country is witnessing an erosion in moral values (Iran has one of the Islamic world's largest drug, suicide and prostitution statistics), a widening gap between rich and poor, high unemployment, corruption and greater repression.

In 2004 apathy, bitterness and despair has reached epidemic proportions in a nation that once enjoyed the thrill and excitement of a swiftly developing society which invested young people with a patriotic commitment to nation-building over 25 years ago.

It is time for the Iranian people to build a new road to lead them to freedom and progress or continue on a senseless path to nowhere.


http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2004&m=02&d=02&a=8
22 posted on 02/02/2004 8:47:50 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Showdown or Backdown?

February 02, 2004
The Economist
The Economist Global Agenda

The battle between reformists and religious hardliners in Iran has intensified, with the main reformist group announcing a boycott of this month’s elections. But have the pro-democracy campaigners the will to defeat the conservatives?

TWENTY-FIVE years ago this week, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile to lead the Islamic revolution that threw out the country’s pro-American monarchy and created the modern world’s first theocratic state. Iran’s celebrations of the anniversary have been overshadowed by a power struggle between religious conservatives and pro-democracy reformers. This struggle could lead to Iran’s elected but largely impotent president and parliament finally wresting themselves from the clerics’ iron grip. Or it could end in the religious conservatives sweeping aside Iran’s pretence at democracy and reasserting full control over the state.

On Monday February 2nd, Iran’s largest pro-reform party, the Participation Front, said it would boycott parliamentary elections, due on February 20th. This is in protest at the disbarring of thousands of reformist candidates by the Council of Guardians—a hardline group of clerics and Islamic jurists which has the power to overrule the parliament. The boycott was announced a day after around a third of the reformist-dominated parliament resigned. In a stormy session, parliamentarians—many of whom have been staging a sit-in for the past three weeks—denounced the theocracy’s attempt to nobble the elections. “They want to cover the ugly body of dictatorship with the beautiful dress of democracy,” said one.

Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had asked the Guardians to reconsider the bans, but on Friday they announced that only a third of the disqualified candidates would have their bans lifted. This leaves more than 2,000 reformist candidates still disallowed, including 87 serving parliamentarians—among them the brother of Iran’s pro-reform president, Mohammad Khatami. On Saturday, the president’s officials called again for the elections to be postponed, despite the Guardians’ rejection of an earlier request for a delay. President Khatami and his ministers have threatened to resign over the bans, though it is not clear whether they are prepared to carry this out: around 18 months ago, the president threatened to resign in a dispute with the Guardians but failed to do so when they refused to back down.

The power struggle has raged on since President Khatami was first elected in 1997. Though virtually all his efforts at liberalisation were thwarted, he was re-elected in 2001. Fellow reformers swept to victory in other polls, but they suffered similar rebuffs at the hands of the clerics. The parliament has passed some remarkably enlightened laws in recent years: to liberalise the press; to sign United Nations conventions outlawing torture and sex discrimination; to expand trial by jury; and to stop the police from storming the universities, which are a main base for pro-reform movements. But the Council of Guardians has spiked every one.

Nevertheless, it would be unfair to say that the liberalisers have achieved nothing. Since Mr Khatami’s election, Tehran has become a more humane, even permissive, place. Seven years ago, anyone taking a drive with a member of the opposite sex, or wearing make-up, was punished by jail or a lashing. These activities are still crimes, but the authorities turn a blind eye. On Mr Khatami's watch, Iran's human-rights record has become a bit less appalling.

The last time Iranians had a chance to vote, in local-council elections a year ago, they expressed their frustration at the continuing impasse by largely staying at home. But the low turnouts (only 10-15% in some cities) favoured the religious conservatives. Voter apathy would probably have handed them victory again in this month’s parliamentary elections, but it seems that the Guardians did not want to risk failure. Next year, when President Khatami’s mandate ends, the conservatives hope to replace him with one of their own. The Council of Guardians is expected to try to ensure this by, once again, banning reformist candidates.

In the meantime, having hitherto stymied the Khatami government’s attempts at a reconciliation with America, the conservatives now seem interested in striking a deal with the “Great Satan”. It was Hassan Rohani—a leading hardliner close to Ayatollah Khamenei—who led Iran’s recent negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency over confessing to its nuclear dabblings and accepting tougher inspections by the agency. Since concluding a deal last October, Mr Rohani has been respectfully received in Brussels and Moscow. His globetrotting at the supreme leader’s behest is making Mr Khatami’s government look ever more irrelevant. Indeed, Mr Rohani is beginning to look like the foreign minister-in-waiting of a future government of pragmatic conservatives.

How will the conflict end? Ordinary Iranians are exasperated at both the theocracy, for failing to increase prosperity and personal freedom, and at the reformists, for failing to deliver on their grand promises of change. Much will depend on the mood among students—a powerful force in a country where two-thirds of the population is under 30 and the minimum voting age is 15. So far, campus protests have been muted. But students at Tehran University are reported to be planning a protest on Wednesday.

Several outcomes are possible in the short term: the reformists’ quiet capitulation to the conservatives’ relentless pressure; or a student-led counter-revolution, which is either repressed harshly by the hardliners, or which succeeds in overthrowing the theocracy; or, indeed, Ayatollah Khamenei may, at the last minute, defuse the crisis by ordering the Council of Guardians to overturn the bans on reformist candidates. But whatever happens now, it will not banish altogether the prospect of Iran’s next revolution. The pressure for change should, sooner or later, prove irresistible.

http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2402750
26 posted on 02/02/2004 3:53:56 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Arrested in Baghdad

February 02, 2004
RIA Novosti
Focus News

Two Foreigners were arrested in Baghdad in attempt to plant explosive near an oil refinery close to the Iraqi capital, RIA Novosti said.

The US general Martin Dempsey reported the arrest and explained that the two men arrested were Iranian and Afghan.

http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?catid=138&ch=0&newsid=30454&PHPSESSID=
27 posted on 02/02/2004 3:54:50 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Nigeria Holds Iran Diplomat as Spy

February 02, 2004
Reuters
ABC News

JERUSALEM -- An Iranian diplomat is in Nigerian police custody on suspicion of spying on the Israeli embassy and other sensitive compounds in the capital Abuja, Israeli security sources said Monday.

They said the Iranian was arrested on Jan. 23 when staff reported him "staking out" the embassy. Although he carried no credentials, police discovered he was a diplomat, they said.

"A digital camera was found in his possession, with surveillance pictures of the embassy and several other international and local official buildings in the capital," a senior Israeli security source said.

A Nigerian police spokesman said last Thursday an Iranian was being questioned after taking photographs of strategic buildings, but did not say the man was a diplomat.

Officials at the Iranian embassy said then that they were not aware of the arrest.

Monday, officials in Nigeria, where it was a public holiday, and in Iran could not immediately be reached for comment.

The independent Nigerian Guardian newspaper said the buildings the suspect had photographed included the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp towers, the British Council, the Defense Ministry and army headquarters. It did not mention the Israeli embassy.

Israeli diplomatic missions are heavily guarded for fear of terrorist attacks. Israel accused Iran of backing bombers who killed 29 people at its embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Iran, which does not recognize the Jewish state, denied involvement.

http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20040202_319.html
28 posted on 02/02/2004 3:55:29 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Nightline Iran: "Inside Iran," 25 Years After the Revolution
[A Transcript of last week's broadcast.]

January 29, 2004
ABC News
Nightline English

TED KOPPEL, ABC NEWS

Twenty-five years after this.

IRANIAN CITIZEN, MALE

Deep down inside, not a lot has changed.

TED KOPPEL

Most Americans tend to think of this.

IRANIAN CITIZEN, FEMALE

If you speak you go to jail.

TED KOPPEL

But not this.

IRANIAN CITIZEN

We have rave parties. We have ecstasy parties, coke parties.

TED KOPPEL

But as Iran moves toward elections, are all the changes merely cosmetic?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

The younger generation wants more than the older ones can give them.

TED KOPPEL

Or a move toward real reform?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

We will have a gap between the society and government if this election is not fair.

graphics: inside Iran

TED KOPPEL

Tonight, "Inside Iran," 25 years after the revolution.

graphics: ABC NEWS: Nightline

ANNOUNCER

>From ABC News, this is "Nightline." Reporting from Washington, Ted Koppel.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) If you'd like to catch a glimpse of the image of Iraq that's keeping US foreign policy makers awake at night, you have only to look next door at Iran. That's not entirely easy to do these days. American journalists, especially television journalists, haven't had a great deal of access to Iran lately. But, ABC News correspondent Jim Sciutto and producer Nick Watt just emerged after several days of traveling through Iran. What they found is an often confusing picture. Iran is a country where with a demographic that would make an American television network executive drool. Millions upon millions of very young people, thirsting for Western music, movies and a hip lifestyle. To a very limited but still surprising extent, they're living that lifestyle. But that, reports Jim Sciutto, conceals a political system that is still under rigid Islamic control. You can forget the parliament, real power in Iran rests in the hands of 12 appointed clerics and jurists, conservatives all, known as the Guardian Council. There's supposed to be a parliamentary election in Iran next month. 8200 candidates were running for office. The Guardian Council simply disqualified most of the reformers among them, almost 4,000 strong. Among those, 80 members of the Iranian parliament who are simply being refused the right to run again. This is what scares American policy makers in Iraq, where there is also a Shiite majority. If there were to be a direct election in Iraq, one man/one vote, would it lead to the sort of political structure that now rules in Iran? Whatever the answer to that question may be, here's Jim Sciutto with a rare look inside Iran.

JIM SCIUTTO, ABC NEWS

(VO) There is Iran outsiders expect to see. Women covered from head to toe. Men crowding vast public mosques. The genders separated in many public spaces. Those images are easy to find here but do not tell the full story. Since pro-reform politicians won the presidency here in 1997, and a parliamentary majority in 2000, Iran has changed in ways that until recently were considered unacceptable and un- Islamic. Today, some girls wear make-up and tighter clothes. They push their veils farther and farther back on their heads, showing their hair, which conservative Muslims consider risqu.. Young unmarried couples hold hands in public. Teenagers listen openly to Western pop music. For Had, whose English nickname is Freddy, is lead singer of the Tehran heavy rock band Moha, "the priests." Bands like this were forbidden into the late 1990s. Now they can practice and sometimes play concerts. Some bands even sell CDs, though only with the approval with an official Islamic committee.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) "Nobody bothers us," he said, "even though right across from us there's a guy from the revolutionary guards. They're used to it by now." Behind closed doors young Iranians constantly told us, they are pushing the limits of Iran's conservative Muslim society even further.

IRANIAN CITIZEN

The nightlife is really amazing.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) Is it? The nightlife in Tehran is amazing?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

Yes.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) What's it like?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

In the suburbs, in the suburbs around Tehran, you can see everything. You can never imagine to see it in Las Vegas, I think. Wild parties.

IRANIAN CITIZEN

And we have rave parties, we have ecstasy parties, which is -I mean, the fashion recently, cocaine parties, coke parties. I don't know.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) Do people have sex before marriage?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

Yes, they do.

IRANIAN CITIZEN

Yes, mostly.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) Mostly? Most people, really?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

Yes.

IRANIAN CITIZEN

Nowadays, it is changing. I mean, the newer generations even -I mean, I'm 30 years old. When I see behind myself and see the -new generation after me, how they behave and what they do and what they believe and attitude, I'm like just, oh God.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) For changes like this to happen, there must have been some official approval, but there were no public pronouncements. Iran's pro-reform politicians criticized by many here for delivering change too slowly, claim credit for helping at least to create a more permissive environment. Small steps towards their vision of a more open, more equitable Iran. This doctor is the Iranian President's spokesman and a Reform Party activist. What greater freedoms do women have?

ABDOLLAH ZADEH, IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN

So many things, you know. Now just 64 percent of our students are the girls.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) Seven years ago, what would it have been?

ABDOLLAH ZADEH

It was less than 40 percent.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) But young Iranians, 70 percent of the population is under 35, say the government's small concessions have come with no new political freedoms. For them, the changes are purely cosmetic.

IRANIAN CITIZEN

You see more women coming up with, let's say, better designed clothes and more fashionable. But deep down inside, not a lot has changed. Politically, socially, not a lot has changed.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) How about political freedom here?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

I think you know, there's no freedom of -no political. If you speak, you go to jail.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) Many here believe Iran's conservatives are using token gestures, looser veils, tighter clothes, more Western music, to draw attention away from efforts to stifle even reverse political reform. But signs of a continuing crackdown, they say, are distressing. Since 1999, 200 pro-reform newspapers have been shut down. Nearly 4,000 mostly reformist candidates were barred from next month's parliamentary elections. Thousands of political prisoners are in Iranian jails. 30-year-old student leader Ali Afshari finished a three-year prison sentence just last month. An outspoken critic of Iran's religious leaders, he was charged with threatening security.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) "I spent 350 straight days in solitary confinement," he said. "They didn't let me sleep and sometimes they beat me. Only my hopes for the future kept me alive." While Ali was being held in Tehran's notorious prison, an Iranian-Canadian journalist named Zahra, investigating suspected torture of detainees, was arrested outside while attempting to take photographs. She later died in police custody, allegedly beaten to death. Inside and outside Iran, her case sparked outrage. "For now the Reform movement has been defeated. It is like what has happened in China," he said. "Politically the government puts people under limitations but gives them a bit more social freedom. What we really want are political rights."

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) Such views are not confined to Iran's university campuses. It is a measure of the internal tensions here that some of the religious leaders who helped lead Iran's Islamic revolution believe the current government has lost its way. Even in Kohm, Iran's most conservative Muslim city, there is public dissent.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) It is full of landmarks to Iran's 1979 revolution. This is the seminary where Ayatollah Khamenei studied. But the city's more moderate clerics say Iran's current religious rulers are violating many of the principles the revolution was intended to achieve.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) This is a professor at one of this city's most prestigious and conservative religious seminars. "The first slogans of the revolution was independence, freedom and the Islamic republic. But all those slogans are now forgotten and wasted," he said. "We should give the right of choice to people. We should allow people to think about any religion, to follow any school of thought. We are not guardians of the people. People should be free." Those are dangerous opinions, even for a respected mullah. He has been barred from appearing on Iranian television. For many Iranians, the December earthquake in the southwestern City of Bam put the government's failures in the sharpest light. Ancient buildings collapsed into dust, domestic relief efforts were slow. More than 40,000 people were killed.

SADJAD, IRANIAN STUDENT LEADER

As you see in Bam, it shows the real face of Islam Republic of Iran, the regime. They cannot do everything. It's a real crisis. It can cut the process. It can control everything and limits your freedom, but they cannot help you.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) Increasingly, Iranians, especially young people, place equal blame for such failures on the conservatives and the reformers they once had such high hopes in.

ABDOLLAH ZADEH

The expectations of the younger generation are very high. They have the right to say that they haven't reached what they wanted. But we have the right to say, as reformers, to say to them that we did not promise them to solve everything.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) Still, for many here, the few solutions that have come have been purely superficial. A veil hiding deep divisions over Iran's future.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) Next month's parliamentary elections give the appearance of democracy in Iran. But reality is far more complicated. That part of the story when we come back.

graphics: Nightline

ANNOUNCER

This is ABC News "Nightline." Brought to you by ...

commercial break

TED KOPPEL

(OC) It's actually damning with faint praise, but Iran has one of the more democratic governments in the Middle East. Nevertheless, it is still a fledgling one where real political freedom often remains elusive. Once again, here's Jim Sciutto.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) For nearly three weeks, Iran's pro-reform lawmakers have staged a 24-hour vigil inside parliament. At least 40 members remain here all day and all night, striking in shifts so they can occasionally see their families. We were the only American reporters allowed inside. One of the strikers is the brother of pro-reform President Said Mohammed Khatami.

DOCTOR MOHAMMAD REZA KHATAMI,

BROTHER OF PRESIDENT

The last election was much more free than this election. And we do not want to go back, we must go forward, to proceed.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) The lawmakers are protesting the disqualification of thousands of candidates from next month's parliamentary elections. Nearly all of them reformists. Iran's ruling council of religious clerics claim they were insufficiently loyal to Islam, but few here doubt their motives were purely political. "For the time being, people are just watchers, not participants," said this disqualified candidate, a newspaper editor. "If they get the impression that their representatives are serious in what they're doing, they will join us."

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) But the reformers' fight has not energized the Iranian public. The overwhelming verdict of people we talked to is that the strike is more about political drama than substance. "I think the decisions are already made and the scene has already been set," this young businessman told us. "I just try to mind my own business, study, play sports and things." The lack of support from young Iranians, more than 2-3rds of the population is under 35, is a politically ominous sign for the reformers. It was young voters who swept President Khatami to a surprise victory in 1997. Today, political polls show that fewer than a third of Iranians even plan to vote in next month's elections. Voter apathy is strongest among young people.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) Will you be voting in the election next month?

IRANIAN CITIZEN

No, never?

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) Why not? "Because it's not going to make any difference. It will be the way it is and it will continue to be so whether we vote or not."

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) This is a neighborhood of Tehran University, site of many public demonstrations in the past, including large pro-democracy protests last summer. But here it has been quiet. The reform candidates' disqualification has not mobilized the students.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) The students' restraint is in stark contrast to last June. When they took to the streets by the thousands, calling for the resignation of ruling cleric Ayatollah Khamenei and freedom for all political prisoners. Thousands of students were arrested and many remain in jail. Today, some of Iran's most well known student leaders say they have given up on the Reform legislators. "The development of democracy and our country are not possible within the framework of laws we have now," he said. "Reform from the inside, let's call it parliamentary reform, was not able to give the people what they wanted and solve our problems." Ali is now hoping for a spontaneous popular rebellion like the ones that toppled governments in Georgia last fall and Yugoslavia in 2000. But student leaders admit they're not sure how to bring that about or even what they plan to do next.

SADJAD

As students, we must concentrate on the problem inside the universities.

JIM SCIUTTO

(OC) It sounds like your ambitions have gotten smaller?

SADJAD

Yes. It got smaller because we are not the ability of being the leadership of the big social movement.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) A loss for reform lawmakers next month would have repercussions inside and outside Iran. Reformers say that if they keep their majority, they will work for closer ties with the US.

IRANIAN CITIZEN

I think it will be time next year to solve many problems that we have in our foreign policy, including in the region and in the world, with the United States and other countries.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) For now, the government of President Khatami, elected seven years ago with so much hope, is cautiously managing expectations. They say the candidates' disqualification is just one step on the path to democracy.

DOCTOR MOHAMMAD REZA KHATAMI

Going toward democracy needs time and needs error and a trial, in fact. So, we try to come out from it as the people want.

JIM SCIUTTO

(VO) But Iranians consistently told us what they want is real political freedom, something many here do not believe the lawmakers sit-in can deliver. This is Jim Sciutto for "Nightline" in Tehran.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) So what should we in the US make of Iran's struggles? That conversation when we come back.

commercial break

TED KOPPEL

(OC) My guest tonight, Jonathan Lyons, was the Reuters bureau chief in Iran from 1998 to 2001. For much of that time he was the only American journalist living in Iran. He and his wife, also a journalist, co-authored "Answering Only to God, Faith and Freedom in the 21st Century Iran." Jonathan, which Iran should we focus on to intelligently understand what's going on over there, the Guardian Council or the tight jeans and the underground parties?

JONATHAN LYONS, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY

Well, actually the tight jeans and the underground parties are more fun, perhaps. But I think we really need to look at the Guardian Council. Because, ultimately this really is a religious question that Iran and Iranian society have to try to resolve.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) And when you say we have to focus on that, have they determined, have they deliberately permitted the sort of social reform to take place without at the same time having any kind of legal reform?

JONATHAN LYONS

Well, I think these are safety valves, as we see in some other societies. But, interestingly, when I lived there, I used to notice that the liberalization of dress and of special behavior often accompanied a period of time when the conservatives or the clerical establishment felt that they were more in control. So, sometimes these things are -actually mirror images of each other.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) In terms of where Iran stands with regard to the United States and US interests, can you place it for us? I mean, should we regard them as essentially hostile to US interests, waiting for the chance for an opening, something in between?

JONATHAN LYONS

Well, I think when you talk about Iran, it's -almost always something in between. And as you know, Ted, it's very complicated. But in essence, all sides of the major political fault lines in Iran would like to have a better relationship and ultimately diplomatic relations and certainly economic relations with the United States. But they need to do this in a way that doesn't disadvantage their own group and give extra advantage to the other side. And so, I think we will eventually see that, but only when both the so-called reformers and the conservatives are ready to move together. And the United States needs to help create some of those conditions, if it can, for that sort of joint movement.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) There are clearly people in the Bush Administration who believe that given the right kind of encouragement -I don't want to use the word revolution or counterrevolution, but that there could be some sort of an uprising. How realistic do you think that is?

JONATHAN LYONS

Well, I think history shows, and I mean very recent history going back to my own experience covering the student riots -a couple years ago, that the police powers and the powers of repression are really very, very strong. And so, I'm not sure that -you didn't use the word revolution, but some sort of rebellion is really in the cards. But I think we're gonna see a slow and steady march with setbacks, with victories. It could take several generations to see the sort of fundamental change that many people inside and outside Iran are wishing for that country.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) Conventional wisdom has it that the Shiites in Iraq and the Shiites in Iran really were not all that close to one another. But as we look at the Ayatollah Sistani in neighboring Iraq, now calling for a direct vote. Being able more or less at the drop of a hat to be able to put 100,000 people on the streets in demonstrations. Should the United States be concerned about the relationship between the Shiites in Iran and Iraq?

JONATHAN LYONS

I don't think they need to be overly concerned. I think we have to go back a step and look at what underlies some of those assumptions. Many people in Iran, including many, many clerics, are looking for an alternative or a reform or a way out of this dead end that they feel that they're in. And so, one has to ask, what exactly would they be exporting? I mean, Iran has a lot of economic and political problems. And I don't think too many people in Iraq are looking wistfully over the border to say, well, we wish we could sort of work things out in that way. I think, and you eluded to earlier of course, the differences between Iraqi Shi'a and the Iranian Shi'a. And there really are quite distinct differences. So, I think recent history, experience, ethnic divisions, linguistic divisions. I think that these are all really significant. And we have to put some face value on demands for a more democratic Iraq coming from some of the Shi'a leaders.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) All right. Jonathan Lyons, thanks very much, good to have you with us.

JONATHAN LYONS

You're welcome, Ted.

TED KOPPEL

(OC) Ill be back in a moment.

graphics: Nightline: Abcnews.com

ANNOUNCER

To receive a daily e-mail announcement about each evening's "Nightline" and a preview of special broadcasts, log on to the "Nightline" page at abcnews.com.

commercial break

TED KOPPEL

(OC) And that's our report for tonight. I'm Ted Koppel in Washington. For all of us here at ABC News, good night.

http://abcnews.go.com/Sections/Nightline/?sptype=IS&ipsrc=media&reftype=pi
30 posted on 02/02/2004 3:57:24 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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