Election debate intensifies struggle for power between Iran's reformist and hardliners
15 February 2004
Channel News Asia
TEHRAN, Iran: Iran's reformist government has said it's nearing a compromise with the country's conservatives over the contested upcoming parliamentary election.
Reformists have been accusing conservatives of trying to rig the election to retake control of Parliament by disqualifying hundreds of liberal candidates.
The election debate is intensifying the struggle for power between the country's reformists and hardliners.
For Iran's reformists, today is unprecedented and tomorrow is far from certain.
These yellow folders hold the resignation letters of around 120 reformist Members of Parliament.
Said reformist MP from Tehran, Mohsen Mirdamadi: "You should understand that we may be ready to ignore many things, but we are not ready to compromise or negotiate the most inalienable right of the people, their right to vote."
They're protesting a move by the country's conservatives to bar hundreds of reformist candidates including around 80 current lawmakers from running in February's election.
A move, they say, designed to rob reformists of their dominant position in Parliament.
Mohammad Rashidian, a reformist MP from Abadan, said: "People have taken part in elections because they have had numerous and various candidates, so we should not discourage them from participating by not giving them this right."
The hardline Guardian Council has disqualified nearly 30 percent of the roughly 8,000 people who had signed up to run for the election, stating many were opposed to Islam or the constitution of the Islamic Republic.
The council has said the election will still offer plenty of opportunity for competition.
Spokesman for the Council, Ebrahim Azizi, said: "In all the countries of the world, or at least in some countries, there are some conditions and obstacles that are more difficult than ours."
But Iran's largest pro-reform party has said it will boycott the election.
Calls to postpone the election have been turned down by the Guardian Council itself.
Some reformists here say they hope people show their support for them by not turning out at the polls.
Reformist lawmaker, Meisam Saidi, said: "Since their votes are not translated into real power, I predict that voter participation will decrease in protest to this state of affairs."
But despite a 3-week sit-in held by reformists, public interest has remained largely muted.
"Any of these representatives that enter the Parliament, the first thing they do is to ratify certain laws they need to benefit themselves," said an Iranian youth.
But there are some who disagreed.
"In order for them to be able to do something for our country, we must vote for them so that they can get something accomplished," said an Iranian man.
What happens next is uncertain. The Parliament's Speaker has called on the country's political and spiritual leader to intervene.
And pressure is falling on the country's reformist President, Mohammad Khatami, who has consistently pushed for both the rule of law and stability.
A true balancing act when it comes to deciding who will fill these seats next. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/middleeast/view/71207/1/.html
posted on 02/15/2004 4:41:47 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
(Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
Hey, Want to Buy an Atomic Bomb?
by James Dunnigan
February 14, 2004
The details of how Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear weapons scientist and "father of the Islamic atomic bomb" ran a "nuclear bomb plans for sale" operation, have come out. In a situation so typical of Pakistan, corruption and willingness to use a government position for personal gain led Kahn to go into business for himself, selling nuclear weapons technology to anyone who could pay (North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and possibly others).
The CIA picked up hints of this business in the 1990s, some ten years ago. Bit by bit, the evidence piled up. Finally, Pakistan's president was forced to confront Kahn, and Kahn was forced, by the weight of the evidence, to admit his guilt. But Kahn is so popular in Pakistan (as "the father of the Moslem bomb") that is was considered political suicide to try and prosecute him for his crimes. So Khan agreed to admit his guilt (phrased as "errors in judgment"), in return for a pardon.
Actually, Khan's crimes were quite extensive. He had begun by stealing plans for uranium processing equipment (centrifuges and such) while working for a European nuclear power engineering company three decades ago. He was later convicted for this crime, but he was by then safely back in Pakistan and working his way towards the leadership of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program. Khan was energetic and opportunistic. Although his technical contributions to the bomb design effort were mainly contained in the technology he had stolen, he managed to take credit for much of the efforts other Pakistani scientists and engineers contributed. Khan also abused his position as head of the nuclear weapons program by giving sweetheart contracts to friends and family, skimming money for himself and taking bribes. But this is so common in Pakistan, that no one really noticed. Even the sale of nuclear weapons technology (but not a complete bomb) to foreign nations was not considered all that unusual. There were dozens of others, both in the nuclear weapons program, and outside it, who worked with Kahn to move the goods, and collect and hide (and share in) the money. Khan's pardon allows him to keep the money. But the CIA, and European intelligence agencies, believe that Khan's group are still in business. So the investigation continues, and Pakistan has been told that members of Khan's group (including Khan) are fair game if caught outside Pakistan.
American nuclear security experts are working with Pakistan to equip Pakistani nukes with electronic locks that prevent the weapons from being used by anyone who does not have the proper codes. This means that if any Pakistanis try and sell an actual a-bomb, they will have to get the codes as well. This won't make it impossible for a Pakistani bomb to be sold, just more difficult. And Khan has shown that you can sell nuclear secrets and get away with it. It's a bad precedent.
North Korea has denied being a Khan customer, but Iran and Libya were caught red handed with material from Pakistan (Libya admits it, Iran is stonewalling). Evidence collected in Iraq indicates that Saddam was approached by Khan's salesmen, but had not yet put down the five million dollars required to get the weapons information coming. http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/2004214.asp
posted on 02/15/2004 4:47:06 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
(Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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