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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 02/16/2004 12:00:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
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 02/16/2004 12:02:34 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
A Mystery Uneavelled

February 13, 2004
Benador Associates
Fereydoun Hoveyda

Twenty-five years of uninterrupted Iranian autocratic theocracy confront us with a basic question: How a group of incompetent and often corrupt lower ranking clerics were able to survive the demise of their charismatic "Imam" and keep the Iranian people under their thumbs for such a long period of time?

Indeed , the IRI accumulated miseries upon miseries all over these years: Eight years of bloody war; more than 40.000 political executions in its two first years; political and economic mismanagement; quasi-isolation of the country ; millions unemployed; population doubled; annual double-digit inflation; numerous citizens forced to have more than one job in order to make ends meet; women discriminated against; extensive corruption at every level of society; gross violations of human rights; assassination of opponents both within and without; students unrest and revolt; soaring crime; wide drug use; helping terrorist organizations; and so on.

For years specialists have predicted the IRI's imminent end. Yet it is still alive (if not totally well ) and functioning . It is true that Islamic law is not anymore enforced with Khomeini's strictness . But it still is the law of the country and the thugs employed by the regime go from time to time on rampage in order to enforce it . Many travelers tell that revolt is brewing and the regime is poised on the threshold of collapse.

Then what is it that keeps it in place? Resignation of the poverty-stricken people? Formidable secret police? Special security groups such as Pasdaran (guardians of the revolution) or Bassiji ( armed volunteers)? Will of Allah? Ability of the mullahs to pit lesser satans against the great one? Etc. Etc.

To be sure, some of these elements have played in favor of the mullahs. But they cannot account for the long survival of their failed regime.

Who is the culprit in this mystery?

I think I have found the real "saviors" of the IRI.

They are a quartet of European nations, namely: England, France, Germany and Russia. The governments of these countries have invented a new diplomatic fiction dubbed "constructive dialogue" in order to isolate not the IRI but the U.S. and to conduct profitable business with the mullahs.

They have encouraged fanciful analyzes of the political situation according to which the "smiling" president Khatami is a "reformer" opposed to the "stern" conservative Khamenei. Their most recent "redeeming" intervention happened on october 21 , 2003, when the British, German and French foreign ministers flew to Tehran and convinced Khamenei to allow IAEA to inspect Iranian nuclear sites.

On February 11, 2004, the Iranian regime handed out hundreds of placards of its leaders and friends to the hired demonstrators in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Khomeini's ascent to power. I was amazed not to find among them the portraits of Blair, Chirac, Schroeder and Putin.

O, ungrateful mullahs!

Author Fereydoun Hoveyda was Iran's ambassador to the United Nations from 1971 to 1978.
3 posted on 02/16/2004 12:03:35 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Tens die in smash of rebellion in Marivan

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Feb 15, 2004

Tens have died and injured in the deadly smashing of a riot which embrazed, today, the western City of Marivan.

Confirmed reports are stating about the degree of extreme violence and the use of deadly force, by the Islamic regime's heliported forces sent to back the ground forces engaged in the repression of the local demonstrators who had started a peaceful action in order to protest against the persistent repression in Iran. These forces were sent as the repressive ground forces witnessed the demonstrators' armed support by activists of the "Komela" and even some members of the local Bassij and Military having rallied astonishingly to the people.

Tens have been reported as killed and injured among the demonstrators and the regime forces and several public buildings have been damaged.

The situation is very tense in the city and the region, especially in the cities of Baneh and Saghez. Many Iranian Kurds are planning to start again the armed struggle against the regime.

Loads of ammunitions have been transferred to the region following the deadly bombings of last week in N. Iraq and which resulted in the deaths of tens of Iraqi Kurds.

The Komala which was an independentist group, few years ago, has claimed its attachment to Iran and intends to help all Iranians to free themselves of the tyrannical rule of the Islamic republic.

A renew of Guerilla war in the region will increase the armed actions across Iran as especially more young Iranians are starting to believe that this will be the only way to oust the mullahs from power.
4 posted on 02/16/2004 12:05:30 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Movement's Coordinator lauds President Bush in VOA interview

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Feb 16, 2004

The SMCCDI Coordinator, Aryo Pirouznia, lauded President Bush during an interview re-broadcasted, this morning (Iran time), by "Voice of America" for Iran. This interview which was made in reference to the Movement's Public letter, to the US Executive Chief and at the occasion of the US "Presidents day", was originally broadcasted, by VOA, on Sunday evening.

In this interview made with the VOA Persian service's anchor, Behrooz Abassi, Pirouznia explained that the original copy of the letter was delivered to the White House, on Friday by FedEx, and that the copy of the letter was also posted on the Movement's website and mass e.mailed. He explained that "we judged the time has come, once again, to express our gratitude to Mr. Bush, at the occasion of the Presidents day, as he has shown at several occasions his public support of the Iranian nation and the Student Movement."

"We intended as well to let the Movement's dismay being expressed as their are few among US legislators that are pushing to establish relations with a falling regime. We reminded, in this letter to the President, that such actions are undermining his policy which is so welcomed by the majority of Iranians" He emphasized.

On the question of Mr. Abassi about the Movement's position on the Feb. 20th elections, Pirouznia added: "We haven't issued any specific statement for calling on People to boycott these sham elections as this is to give too much price to something that is doomed to fail anyhow. Of course in the last months we have requested the boycott in several of our statements issued for other purposes in reference to the Islamic regime. I remind you that from the day 1 of the so-called reforms and all along these years, the Movement's position , expressed so many times in its statements, calls and interviews , has been that SMCCDI do believe that no real reforms can ever be made within the frame of ideological regimes and that we qualified the sham reforms as a masquerade intending to buy time for the regime. That's why we have called, since July 1999, for the Civil Disobedience against this regime in our essay which became later famous under the name of the Third Force and which predicted ourdays and better days to come".

The integral version of this interview can be listened in Real Audio (from the minute 36 till 44 of the VOA program) at:

The Public letter to Mr. Bush can be read at:
5 posted on 02/16/2004 12:06:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran’s Elections
Change What to Whom?

By Alan Peters

Ten hours on Friday, February 20th, 2004, will define Iran’s new parliament members and throw Western governments into a dilemma beyond what they have faced till now with an anti-West clerical regime.

Some 5,000 survivors - from a starting field of around 8,000 candidates– will vie in 207 constituencies in Iran’s Islamic Republic for the 290 Majliss (parliament) seats voted on by 46.3 million people over the age of 15-years from the 65 million strong population.

Some constituencies elect more than one Member of Parliament. Tehran, the capital, returns 30 and approved minority religions have five representatives: Jews and Zoroastrians with one each and three for Christian denominations.

If a candidate fails to win more than 25% of votes cast in the first round, voting will have to go to a second round after a month.

Sounds democratic till you realize that about 2,300 mostly Reformist candidates have been banned from taking part by the 12-man Guardian Council of hard line clerics – the unelected and autocratic, de facto rulers of Iran - under Ayatollah Khamnei, whose veto power over everything, even legislation passed by the “democratically” elected Majliss allows him to do as he pleases.

Those banned from running for re-election, as being incompatible with required religious precepts, number 80 sitting members of parliament, among them President Khatami’s brother, leader of the largest Reformist party and Deputy Speaker of the Majliss.

At last, the gloves have come all the way off in the struggle between hardliners and reformists. Already in February of 2003, the hardliners used their approval rights to validate favorable candidates and an apathetic voter turn out to win control of most municipalities in Iran. They now reach out for the final, total power of a rubber stamp Majliss to approve all they wish in a “democratic” fashion. And here comes the rub for the Western world.

The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution expressing regret at the "severe setback in efforts towards the establishment of democratic structures in Iran". It said "the lack of respect for democratic procedures may lead to a parliament unable to legitimize itself" and warned Iran could see its position in the international community weakened.

Without the fragile and basically fictitious excuse of dealing with a country claiming a democratically elected government, Europe and the USA will have to revise attitudes, policies and procedures toward Iran, though some say that dealing with rulers, who have the power and authority to implement matters to which they have agreed, looks attractive to some pragmatists in the various governments.

On the other hand, the likelihood of another Shia Islamic Republic in Iraq under the auspices of Ayatollah Sistani, which then forms an alliance with the Iranian Shia clerics in an anti-American and soon thereafter anti-Western partnership, may be enough to scare even the hardiest of those thinkers.

President Khatami’s inability to conclude any meaningful reforms has opened him to criticism that the only effect his reform efforts have had, has been to legitimize Supreme Ruler Khamnei, who has been able to hide behind the existence of an elected parliament to continue to rule by decree – albeit couched under the seal of the constitutional authority of the clerical Guardian Council.

And on Friday the 20th, Khatami has again fallen into the same trap. While Reformist members of parliament have tendered their resignations in advance of the impending fiasco, while several hundred more have withdrawn from the elections in protest, he has formed a movement of “reformist” clerics to take on the fight. And by fielding a “team” of any sort, prolongs the farce into which Iran has sunk, by creating the appearance of a democratically contested election.

With no emergent leader to whom to turn or follow – either charismatically or philosophically – the Iranian voter’s apathy extends to no longer being as willing to hit the streets in protest. Spiraling, sky rocketing prices of everything from food to shelter, increasingly demands a man hold down two or three jobs to pay for his family’s daily bread, so politics, nowadays, drops far down the list of priorities. And theocratic despotism becomes an ever greater threat to the Western and secular world.
6 posted on 02/16/2004 12:08:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn; freedom44; F14 Pilot
This has probably been posted before, but I just found it. Very moving site: IRAN TESTIMONY.

The purpose of "Iran Testimony" is to gather information and testimonies about victims of oppression and violation of human rights in Iran by Islamic republic of Iran since 1979."

Mass Grave in Iraq

Location of Kahvaran cemitary is marked with a red point

14 posted on 02/16/2004 4:46:02 AM PST by risk (It's better to die on your feet than on your knees.)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Russia Can't Agree on Bushehr's Completion

February 16, 2004
Middle East Newsline

MOSCOW -- Russia has acknowledged the failure to resolve a dispute that has delayed completion of the Bushehr nuclear reactor for Iran.

Russian officials said the disagreement has resulted in the cancellation of a meeting of the nuclear chiefs of Moscow and Teheran scheduled for this week. The Russian delegation, led by Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, has delayed its visit to Teheran by at least two weeks.

Rumyantsev said the dispute regards Iran's refusal to return spent nuclear fuel for the Bushehr plant to Moscow. Iran insists that Russia bear the costs of securing the spent nuclear fuel as well as its transfer from Bushehr to Moscow.

The minister said another disagreement concerns the price of the Bushehr project, reported at $1 billion. The project is said to have overrun its original price by 25 percent.
17 posted on 02/16/2004 8:48:23 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
From Nose Job to No Job, Tehran's Youth Uninspired by Elections

February 16, 2004
Agence France Presse
Stefan Smith

From leafy north Tehran and its chic coffee shops to the tea houses in the grim, grey south of the Iranian capital, the Islamic republic's youth would have been thought to be agonising over politics with just days to go before a vote of their country's political future.

But most appear to have their minds set firmly on matters wholly unrelated to Friday's parliamentary elections, be it a spot of cosmetic surgery or skiing for the wealthy few, or grappling with an uncertain economic future for the rest.

Leila is 21 and readily acknowledges to being one of the hordes of voters who in past polls turned out to back President Mohammad Khatami and his pro-reform allies - a movement now poised for defeat given that most of their candidates have been barred from standing.

"I voted twice for the reformists," she says, sipping cappuccino while being careful not to get any froth on the bandage covering her recently adjusted nose.

And will she be voting this time?

She pauses for a moment, as if in deep thought, and then replies: "I don't really know. There's not much point voting for the reformists anymore."

Finally she makes up her mind: "I'm not going to vote. It won't change anything at all," she says, before returning to her conversation with friends on the recent lack of fresh snow on the pistes north of Tehran.

Like many Iranians, more than two-thirds of whom are too young to remember the 1979 Islamic revolution, Leila's vote has in the past been instrumental in shaping Iran's political dynamic.

Since 1997, the Islamic republic has been buffeted by a wind of change - reformists with a crushing mandate to challenge the power of the ruling clerics and shifting the delicate balance between Islam and democracy.

But despite holding the executive and the parliament since 1997 and 2000 respectively, reformists have run into stiff obstacles laid down by hardliners determined to prevent what they see as an erosion of the Islamic values the 1979 revolution was designed to deliver.

With the hardliners exercising their power through the courts, legislative oversight bodies, the official media and the security forces, reformers - themselves divided between leftists and moderates - have stood little chance.

"Khatami is not a bad man, but he has been too weak," complains one of Leila's friends, also drinking coffee in the bar nestled in the wealthy north of the city that looks over the smog-clad poorer south.

"Young people are disappointed now. We want more freedoms, but we don't have them, so I think most of us will not be voting. There is no point."

But the absence of significant social or political reforms is not the only gripe among young people.

A drive to the south of Tehran, where tree-lined avenues give way to a sparse, polluted urban mess, brings other concerns - notably related to the poor state of the Islamic republic's jobs market.

"The reformists are always talking about freedom and democracy. And the conservatives talk about religion. But what good is any of that if you can't get a job?" complains Ali, 19 and unemployed.

Official figures put unemployment here at close to 13 percent, athough the real figure is believed to be much higher. Aside from the energy sector currently enjoying high oil prices, much of the rest of the economy remains in stagnation.

Although proficient in English and holding a high school diploma, Ali complains that his job options are limited.

"What can I do? You need good connections to get a good job. I do some work driving a taxi sometimes, or delivering groceries for shops. And all I see is corruption, and that applies to conservatives and reformists," he says in a south-central Tehran tea house, a world away from the swanky services on offer up north.

With that in mind, the unshaven young man says he will not be voting either, another example of what appears to be a broad assumption that whoever wins control over the Majlis, nothing will change.

"Politicians are all in it for themselves, so how can they expect us to vote for them?"
18 posted on 02/16/2004 8:49:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Welcome US Companies in Ongoing Exploration Round

February 16, 2004
Platts Commodity News

Iran would welcome the participation of US companies in an ongoing licensing round covering 16 exploration and development blocks, Mahmoud Mohaddes, the director of exploration at the National Iranian Oil Company, said Sunday.

"There is no problem from the Iranian side for the participation of US companies in these projects," the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported Mohaddes as saying. US companies are currently effectively barred from investing in Iran by the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, a 1996 US law that threatens reprisals against foreign oil companies that invest over $20-mil/year in the oil sector of either country. In late January Iran announced it was inviting international companies to bid for 16 onshore blocks covering over 253,000 sq miles in southeast, northwest, west and some northern parts of the country.

Companies have until Jul 11 to submit bids, with the proposed rate of return to be one of the main criteria for choosing between bids, Mohaddes said.

Exploration of the 16 blocks is expected to involve investment of at least $300-mil, the NIOC official said. For the first time Iran is offering contracts covering both the exploration and development phases, under similar buyback terms to other foreign oil investments in the country. Companies from Spain, Germany and Australia have shown serious interest in the new projects, Mohaddes said, adding that companies from the Netherlands, Italy, France, China, Thailand and Croatia were also expected to consider the opportunities. The contracts covering the 16 blocks are for periods of up to 25 years. A Tehran-based official from one European company studying the blocks said the new terms were a step in the right direction. "I think it is a sign that alternative contract forms now are under discussion in Iran, including PSAs (production sharing agreements), which is a contract form more familiar and well understood and accepted by the industry," the official said.
19 posted on 02/16/2004 8:50:48 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Egyptian Foreign Minister Fails to Attend Tehran Conference

February 16, 2004
BBC Monitoring
BBC Monitoring Newsfile

Tehran -- Ahmad Mahir, the Egyptian foreign minister, has failed to attend the D-8 conference.

According to the political-foreign affairs reporter of the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), whilst it was expected that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Mahir would be heading the Egyptian delegation that has come to Iran to attend the D-8 conference, he failed to attend the seventh ministerial meeting of the D-8 countries and only a representative from the Egyptian government attended the conference.

Text of report by Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) web site

Source: ISNA web site, Tehran, in Persian 0759 gmt 16 Feb 04
20 posted on 02/16/2004 8:52:40 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Reformists' Leader Fears Crackdown in Wake of Election

February 16, 2004
The Financial Times
Gareth Smyth

Mohammed Reza Khatami, general-secretary of Iran's largest reformist party and younger brother of president Mohammad Khatami, warned yesterday that a successful drive by conservatives to achieve high turnout in Friday's parliamentary elections could spark a crackdown on reformers.

Reformists are expected to lose control of the 290-seat national assembly, reflecting disenchantment among voters and the barring of 2,000 mostly reformist candidates by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog. Mohammed Reza Khatami's Mosharekate (Participation Front) is boycotting the poll.

"[With a high turnout] we can expect more pressure. For example the judiciary may ban Mosharekate," he told the Financial Times. "If the turnout is below 30-40 per cent, this would be impossible." Mr Khatami's remarks underlined the difficulties facing the conservatives to motivate a largely disillusioned electorate.

"They are using all their power to bring people to vote," he said. "Forty per cent would not be a victory for them."

Just four years ago, Mr Khatami, then aged 40, topped the poll in Tehran with 2.2m votes. This time he is one of 67 sitting deputies from Mosharekate who are barred. "People will notice if whoever tops the list this time has just 500,000 votes," he said.

Electoral fraud was a clear danger, said Mr Khatami, who said the reformist-controlled intelligence ministry had warned of 30,000 fake voting papers. "Some say there are 2m forged identity cards," he added. But Mr Khatami predicted conservatives would not achieve the parliament they expected.

Only 50 of the 290 deputies would be "hardliners" and the rest would be "a spectrum right across to some radical reformers".

"The conservatives cannot reproduce their forces - if you look at their candidates, you cannot find a famous name," he said. "The new generation of conservatives is modern, and more reformist than their parents. We have talked to many of them and know their views."

As to his own party's future, Mr Khatami said it planned to use its absence from parliament to focus on grassroots organisation.

In the meantime, there would be many opportunities for the government - which remains accountable to President Khatami until presidential elections next year - to "deepen the gap between hardliners and conservatives" and so realign Iranian politics.

"My feeling is that parliament will not be decisive. The combat between the hardliners and the institutions of civil society will become more important than the conflict in parliament."

Looking back over the four weeks since the Guardian Council announced the banning of candidates and prompted a protest parliamentary sit-in by 80 deputies, Mr Khatami was mildly critical of his brother and of Mahdi Karroubi, the parliamentary speaker.

"They were more optimistic than us," he said. "They thought only 10 deputies and 100-200 other well-known candidates would be disqualified . . . And also, because of their positions, they cannot say everything that we can."

Mr Khatami stressed the wide "improvements" in Iran after seven years of reform. "It is important not to lose all these achievements," he said.
21 posted on 02/16/2004 8:54:03 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Stop Iran's Nukes

February 15, 2004
The Jerusalem Post

The latest revelation from the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding Iran proves what Western governments know well: Iran has neither stopped developing a bomb nor lying about its nuclear program. There is no real argument about the deceptions and intentions, only what to do about them.

Last week, the IAEA announced that it discovered plans for a P2 uranium enrichment facility. Iran had admitted last fall to having a much less sophisticated enrichment capability, and had agreed to suspend enrichment in exchange for European promises of closer civilian nuclear cooperation.

According to The Guardian, "The Americans, the Europeans, and officials at the Vienna agency are convinced that the Iranians have reneged on the deal." As US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage put it, "There is no doubt in our mind that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program."

On June 25, 2003, President George W. Bush and the presidents of the European Community and European Council issued a joint statement:

"We pledge to use all means available to avert WMD proliferation and the calamities that would follow." Unlike the case of Iraq, there seems to be a real meeting of the minds between the US and Europe that the prospect of Iranian nukes is unacceptable.

Also unlike Iraq, the Europeans have taken the diplomatic lead on the issue. With the stick of their joint statement with the US hanging in the air, France and Germany wrangled Teheran's agreement to a tighter inspection regime.

Last week's IAEA revelation shows, however, that if diplomacy is to work, it must be ratcheted up a few notches. Iran has so far reacted defiantly. "As a country that is capable of producing nuclear fuel," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi told the state news agency IRNA, "the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to sell it on the international market." So have the Russians, who continue to refuse US requests not to supply Iran with nuclear fuel.

Part of the problem here is a loophole in the non-proliferation regime that Iran is playing to the hilt. That regime does not prohibit members from enriching uranium, so Iran is, according to IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei, claiming the right to build centrifuges.

Also last week, Bush proposed closing precisely this loophole as part of a comprehensive proposal to toughen the non-proliferation regime. Bush said the nuclear exporting countries should provide "reliable access" to fuel for civilian reactors in exchange for states renouncing enrichment and reprocessing, which are "not necessary for nations seeking to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

This standard should be employed in the case of Iran immediately, outside of any timetable for renegotiating the non-proliferation regime as a whole. Moreover, the Libyan model should be adopted, both in terms of the goal and the means.

Libya has renounced its nuclear ambitions and invited the international community in to verify compliance. This startling turnabout was achieved both by the sobering example of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by years of punishing economic sanctions following Libya's downing of American and French civilian aircraft.

Sanctions against Libya took many years to bear fruit, and only after the capture of Saddam Hussein did Muammar Gaddafi decide it was time to capitulate. In Iran's case, the West cannot afford to wait so long. At the same time, however, Iran is much more susceptible to Western sanctions than was Libya.

Europe is Iran's major trading partner. Europe has tried valiantly to block Iran's nuclear program without harming its own trade relations, but this attempt has evidently run its course. There is no choice but to link specific and severe sanctions to Iran verifiably ending its nuclear enrichment and weapons programs.

Europeans realize that the non-proliferation regime, as flawed as it is, will cease to exist if Iran is allowed to exploit it and emerge with nuclear weapons.

Some respond by saying that for non-proliferation to work, the US (or Israel) should disarm as well.

Free nations, however, cannot disarm in a world in which rogue nations remain unshackled by ineffective agreements.

The test of the non-proliferation regime must always be whether it fetters rogue states, so that free and peaceful nations will be able safely to disarm.
26 posted on 02/16/2004 12:01:08 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Khatami Appeals to Iranians to Vote

February 16, 2004

TEHRAN -- President Mohammad Khatami has appealed to Iranians to vote in this week's parliamentary election to prevent a minority of hardliners seizing control of the country's future due to public apathy.

In a written address to the nation on Monday, Khatami said the disqualification of some 2,500 mainly reformist candidates by a hardline clerical council had been unjust but should not deter voters.

"Even though at one stage there was some unfairness against parliamentarians and other qualified candidates, if people don't turn out it will open the way for a minority to control the fate of the country," the president said in a statement published by the official IRNA news agency.

The unelected Guardian Council, a 12-member panel dominated by Islamic hardliners, barred nearly one in three contenders from entering Friday's poll, including some 80 sitting lawmakers, among them Khatami's younger brother, Mohammad Reza.

That prompted the biggest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, to boycott the vote.

But the president said people should not turn their backs on democracy out of disillusionment, but should use their ballots, if not to elect their favourite candidates, then at least to bar the way to those they most disliked.

"Surely there are many people who feel that in many constituencies, they don't have their favourite candidates, but they can choose the ones who have ideas which are closest to theirs," he said.

Many reformists say the mass disqualification was a blatant power grab by conservatives who lost control of parliament in 2000, when reformers won about 200 of the 290 seats.

Political scientists forecast a low turnout, especially in the big cities which were the reformers' bastions.

In a veiled reference to fears of fraud to inflate the turnout, Khatami urged election officials to "be very vigilant and careful to ensure a healthy election and safeguard people's votes".

DoctorZin Note: The Iranian people can now see with absolute clarity whose side Khatami is on. It is not the peoples side he supports but the ruling Mullahs.

He has even betrayed his own brother (a member of the Parliament and head of the "reformist" party).

Europe now has a serious problem. How do the leaders of Europe convince their people that they need to support the terror masters instead of the people of Iran?
27 posted on 02/16/2004 12:07:41 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Vanstone Breaks with Iran Policy [Australia policy shift]

February 16, 2004
The Age
Russell Skelton

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone yesterday broke with the policy stand of her predecessor Philip Ruddock, declaring she was not prepared to deport failed Iranian asylum seekers.

Asked if she would continue to implement Mr Ruddock's policy of forcing Iranians with no further refugee claims back to Tehran, Senator Vanstone said: "We are not at that point yet."

Senator Vanstone said she had been too busy to go back to see what Mr Ruddock had done as immigration minister, but said she intended being "very, very careful with returns".

"We have had a number of voluntary returns to a number of countries recently, but no involuntary returns," she said.

Refugee Council of Australia president Margaret Piper welcomed Senator Vanstone's decision.

"Iran is a country with a poor human rights record and it is not appropriate to send asylum seekers back there," she said.

Ms Piper said the struggle between Iran's reform movement and the ruling clerics in the lead up to national elections had serious implications for the stability of the country and the safety of returnees.

"Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan are all countries that we have serious concerns about," she added.

Senator Vanstone's comments confirm a significant change of approach in the implementation of immigration policy since she took over the portfolio in October. Her decision not to deport Iranians effectively ends Mr Ruddock's controversial campaign to return failed Iranian asylum seekers - by force if necessary.

There are 160 Iraniansin immigration detention across Australia - 126 men, 18 women and 16 children.

The numbers include 40 followers of the Sabian Mandaean faith whose claims of persecution at the hands of Iran's ruling clerics have been acknowledged by the Refugee Review Tribunal and the Federal Court.

In the past year, only 26 detainees have returned to Iran voluntarily and two have been deported under a Memorandum of Understanding reached between Mr Ruddock and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

At Mr Ruddock's direction, immigration officials ran a campaign to pressure Iranian detainees to either return voluntarily with a repatriation package or be deported.

The campaign included constant reminding of their situation and visits to detention centres by Iranian embassy officials.

Speaking at a breakfast forum in Melbourne yesterday, Senator Vanstone defended the Government's tough stand on asylum seekers, saying it had curbed the activities of people smugglers and resulted in many more genuine refugees entering Australia.

But she said: "It is the Government's intention not to return anybody who needs continuing protection, not to return them to situations where their life was at risk."

The Age reported yesterday that Senator Vanstone had presided over a significant softening in the Government's tough approach to Iranian asylum seekers by granting discretionary visas to 43 Iranians. In contrast, Mr Ruddock issued just 10 visas to Iranians in his last 10 months as minister.
31 posted on 02/16/2004 1:33:15 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran, Syria Open Talks On Economic Cooperation

February 16, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press

DAMASCUS -- Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref said Monday that he hoped two days of joint Syrian-Iranian Higher Committee meetings would improve economic ties between the countries.

Aref, who arrived in Damascus earlier in the day, co-chaired the committee's first meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otari.

"We came to Damascus to discuss ways of raising the level of (economic) relations to the level of the political ones over the next two years," Aref told reporters on his arrival.

He said he would also discuss with Syrian officials the situation in the Palestinian territories and other regional issues. He did not elaborate.

Otari said the meetings were aimed at developing Syrian-Iranian relations in the economic, cultural and social fields.

The two sides are expected to discuss the signing of a memo of understanding for cooperation in building roads and bridges, as well as cooperation agreements in construction and science and technology fields.
38 posted on 02/16/2004 4:43:02 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Ideas to Open Iraqi Borders Not Based on Good Intentions

February 16, 2004
BBC Monitoring
BBC Monitoring Middle East

A high-ranking Iranian official urged cancelling the use of passports for travel between Iraq and Iran in order to show the improvement of relations between the two countries.

The Iranian deputy minister of interior, Ali Asghar Ahmadi, said: "We want to create conditions in future that allow Iranians and Iraqis to visit both countries without a passport."

About 10,000 Iranians visit the holy sites in Najaf and Karbala, every day [as published]. The Iranian official hoped that the people of the two countries would have the opportunity to travel freely, with only an ID card, between the two countries.

This Iranian demand does, certainly, not seem to be motivated by good intentions; but it has a political aim, hoping that their borders will always be open to be able to enter Iraqi and, particularly, Kurdistan territories.

Source: Hawlati, Al-Sulaymaniyah, in Sorani Kurdish 14 Feb 04

Text of report entitled "Tehran proposes travel without passports between Iraq and Iran" published by independent Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Hawlati on 14 February
39 posted on 02/16/2004 4:44:11 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

By Safa Haeri
PARIS, 16 Feb. (IPS)

With only two more days left to the end of electoral campaigning, thousands of candidates, most of them unknown to the public, are in full gear to attract voters in the Majles elections due on 20 February.

The campaign started amidst one of Iran’s most dramatic electoral crisis triggered by the decision of the Council of the Guardians to disqualify the majority of candidates belonging to the reformist wing of the leadership, including a hundred of reformist Members of the present Majles in the one hand and a widespread apathy of the public.

Though Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic and all senior clerics have called on the voters to come to the polls, presenting the elections as a "religious duty", but latest survey carried by the Interior Ministry shows that the majority of the voters would abstain, as some of the 18 different parties, groups and organizations that make the coalition that support President Mohammad Khatami.

The disqualifications resulted in the split of the Second Khordad Coalition, with some formations saying they would take part in the polls, like the Association of Combatant Clergymen to which belong Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami.

According to the latest figures, some 5,000 candidates are competing for the 290 seats in the Majles, or parliament. Despite officials urging candidates to avoid American-type campaign, but eyewitnesses reported that walls in major cities as well as in small towns and villages are filled with large posters of hopefuls, most of them independent figures closer to the conservatives than the reformists.

There are 46.3 million eligible voters.

"The campaign is largely being waged through posters, in the form of advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet rather than in public meetings or on the conservative-controlled radio and televisions", one analyst pointed out.

The Interior Ministry in charge of running the vote had put the initial candidate list at 5,600, but announced Saturday that a further 550 approved candidates had decided not to stand. No reason for their decision was given.

Eight reformist parties announced they had set up a "Coalition for Iran" to contest the poll.

But Missing from the campaign are the hundreds of reformist candidates, among them some of Iran's best-known politicians, including Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the embattled President who is the leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran’s largest political formation.

Mr. Mohsen Mirdamadi, the Chairman of the Security and Foreign Affairs Committee of the present Majles, himself among the barred candidates, had described the massif disqualification as "a political coup".

Reformists lawyers and the Interior Minister, Hojjatoleslam Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari had called for the elections to be postponed, but Mr. Khatami opposed the idea immediately, causing the crushing defeat of the reformist deputies who had hoped and counted on the firm support of the President.

In total, more than 1,200 candidates will be seeking election in the sprawling capital and its environs -- a list that may prove bemusing to many voters. In addition, some candidates belong to more than one group.

Despite an order from the authorities to the press not to report possible unrests in connection to the elections, but some Iranian websites reported Sunday heavy fighting in the Kurdish city of Marivan, in northwestern Iran near the Iraqi border.

According to the information, mobs attacked campaign locations belonging to the conservative candidates, clashed with Law and Order Forces and set fire on public buildings.

According to widespread rumours in the Iranian capital, in order to claim that the majority of voters had fulfilled their political and religious duty, the conservatives are hoarding and fabricating identity cards. "Right now, more than 3 million falsified ID or belonging to dead people are in the hands of conservatives", one source insisted.

40 posted on 02/16/2004 5:51:25 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

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”

47 posted on 02/17/2004 12:02:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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