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Iranian Alert -- February 19, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 2.19.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 02/19/2004 12:05:20 AM PST by DoctorZIn

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To: DoctorZIn
Iran-vote Results Unlikely to Please West

February 19, 2004
The Washington Times
David R. Sands

Iran's parliamentary elections tomorrow, heavily stacked against moderate reformers, are unlikely to produce major changes in foreign policy or please U.S. and European officials hoping to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Despite an agreement last year to open its clandestine nuclear-research network to international inspection, the next Iranian government will fiercely guard the country's right to pursue a nuclear program that could one day produce a bomb, according to Mohammed Hadi Semati, a political scientist at Tehran University.

The nuclear program "has become something like what it is in Pakistan — a source of national pride," said Mr. Semati, now a visiting fellow at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Many Iranians think everything else in the last 20 years has gone wrong, but nukes are one thing we've done well," he said.

Ahmad Tavakoli, a leader of the Coalition of Builders of Islamic Iran, a leading conservative faction, told reporters in Tehran last week that his party would "never cede Iran's right to reach the highest levels of nuclear technology."

Ali Massoud Ansari, an Iranian political analyst at the University of Exeter in England, said neither the reformists nor Iran's religious hard-liners are likely to meet Bush administration demands on the nuclear programs.

"What you're seeing in Iran today is a rise in secular nationalism that would make the old shah blush," he said, referring to the pro-U.S. monarch ousted in the 1979 Islamic revolution. "Politicians of all stripes have to respond to that, and I don't think even the moderates would be ready to give up Iran's nuclear effort."

Many see the vote for the 290-seat Majlis, Iran's parliament, as a foregone conclusion after the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, an appointed political watchdog group, blacklisted more than 2,300 reformist candidates, including 80 incumbents, from running.

Depending on the turnout, conservative and hard-line parties are expected to grab at least a small majority of the seats in the next parliament. Moderates now hold more than two-thirds of the seats.

Reformist leaders have denounced the Guardian Council's move as a "parliamentary coup," but have been unable to persuade Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's ultimate religious and political authority, to postpone the vote or allow more candidates to run.

Mr. Semati said reformist hopes of a large, popular backlash against the blacklisting have been unfulfilled, reflecting in part voter apathy over the failure of past reformist election victories to bring about major changes.

The Bush administration last week accused Iran of failing to live up to promises made in October to disclose all of its nuclear programs to international inspectors.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that the parliamentary election "is not shaping up" as a way for the Iranian people to "choose their own government."

"How [the vote] will affect our relations, we'll just have to see," he said.
21 posted on 02/19/2004 8:27:25 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Chemists to Accept Reports from Iran in Challenge to Embargo

February 19, 2004
The Star-Ledger
Kevin Coughlin

A leading scientific society has decided to resume publishing scholarly articles from Iran despite a federal trade embargo that could bring stiff criminal and civil penalties.

"We have returned to business as usual," Robert Bovenschulte, who oversees the 31 technical journals published by the American Chemical Society, said via e-mail yesterday. The society had stopped accepting Iranian papers late last year.

The society's decision comes amid growing concerns from publishers that a powerful branch of the Treasury Department is preventing scientific exchanges that they say are protected by the Constitution and recent acts of Congress -- and at a time when the West desires better communications with the Islamic world.

The controversy stems from a Sept. 30 ruling from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Treasury agency that enforces trade sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Libya and other nations suspected of sponsoring terrorism and other misdeeds.

That agency -- which has fined Playboy, Wal-Mart and the New York Yankees, among others -- advised an engineering society in Piscataway that the act of editing scholarly papers from Iran amounts to a service, and violates trade sanctions.

Wary of jail terms and hefty fines, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers halted publication of papers from Iran and angered 1,700 dues-paying members there by curbing membership privileges while it pursued a federal license to edit Iranian articles. The IEEE has taken heat in the publishing world for seeking OFAC's opinion and the license, which is still pending.

Following the IEEE's lead, the American Chemical Society stopped accepting papers from Iranian scholars.

In recent weeks, publishers and scientific organizations have raised concerns with OFAC officials, members of Congress and President Bush's science adviser, John Marburger. Publishers contend Congress exempted exchanges of "information or informational material" from trade embargoes in 1988.

Mark Seeley, a counsel for Reed Elsevier, publisher of 1,800 scientific journals, said a legal challenge to OFAC is possible.

"This is a classic First Amendment, prior-restraint issue. We can't tell beforehand what's okay unless we apply to the government for permission to publish," Seeley said.

The American Chemical Society decided to resume publishing Iranian papers after attending a Feb. 9 meeting in Washington, D.C. David Mills, OFAC's chief of licensing, addressed scientists and publishers convened by the IEEE.

"We got some signals to say it's not totally risk-free. But the risk is small enough that we're willing to take on the risk" of publishing manuscripts, explained Elsa Reichmanis, a former president of the society, who is a Bell Labs chemist.

Seeley was not reassured by the meeting, however. "I'm still plenty confused about what the ruling says and what it stands for," he said. In a briefing paper, the Association of American Publishers contends OFAC rulings pose "a serious threat to ... the basic First Amendment right of publishers to be free of government-imposed prior restraints on publication."

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who sponsored the embargo exemptions, plans to protest to Treasury officials, said spokesman Doug Campbell.

"The government should not be telling American citizens who they should and shouldn't talk to. It serves our interests to share information with people who live under oppressive regimes and hopefully, through that process promote democracy and rule of law and those things," Campbell said.

OFAC Director Richard Newcomb defended his September ruling.

"We think the ruling is correct, and we are standing by it," Newcomb said. He reiterated that manuscripts from Iran may be published as long as they are not edited, enhanced or altered.

Trade sanctions should not affect newspapers publishing commentaries from people in Iran, Newcomb said. He added that the IEEE's license request is under State Department review.

"It's a slow process," said Cecilia Jankowski, the IEEE's managing director for regulatory matters.
22 posted on 02/19/2004 8:28:49 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Military Involved in Nuclear Program

February 19, 2004
The Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria -- U.N. inspectors have discovered high-tech enrichment equipment on an Iranian air force base, diplomats said Thursday. The find appeared to be the first known link of Tehran's suspect nuclear program to its military.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the gas centrifuge system was found at an air base outside of the capital. Such equipment is used to process uranium which can then be used for nuclear fuel or warheads, depending on the level of enrichment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors are examining Iran's nuclear activities for signs it was trying to create weapons, declined comment.

Confronted with evidence it had hid for nearly two decades, Iran last year acknowledged running an enrichment program but says it is only to generate power. The United States and other nations, however, accuse Tehran of secretly trying to make weapons.

The revelation comes only around a week after diplomats leaked news that IAEA inspectors had found drawings of an advanced centrifuge design Iran had not owed up to having, despite pledges to be fully open about its nuclear activities.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the designs were of a P-2 centrifuge -- more advanced than the P-1 model Iran has acknowledged using to enrich uranium for what is says are peaceful purposes. They said preliminary investigations by inspectors working for the International Atomic Energy Agency indicated they matched drawings of equipment found in Libya and supplied by the Pakistani network headed by scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Despite putting into question Iran's pledge to be fully open, the finds do not advance suspicions that Tehran was trying to make nuclear weapons because of the dual use of enriched uranium.

But the location given by the diplomats of the advanced centrifuge -- at the air base -- cast doubt on Iranian claims that its military was not involved in the country's nuclear program.
23 posted on 02/19/2004 8:30:41 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Ahmad Chalabi and His Iranian Connection

February 18, 2004
The Stratfor
The Stratfor Weekly


The United States is struggling over the question of how U.S. intelligence was so deeply mistaken about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. One of the points that is consistently brought up is that much of the intelligence flowed through the Iraqi National Council, an opposition group led by Ahmad Chalabi. It is now well known that Chalabi's sources were not ideal. What is less well known is the close, long-term relationship that Chalabi, a favorite of Washington's, had with Iran. Chalabi, an Iraqi Shiite, was and remains in constant contact with Tehran. We have assumed he was a channel between Washington and Tehran. Given the erroneous intelligence he gave the United States, his relationship with Iran requires careful examination.


The United States is in the process of reviewing the intelligence that led it to conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and which formed the public justification for war. A great deal of the discussion has concerned the sources of this intelligence. Some have pointed out that the main channel for intelligence on the subject involved sources developed through the Iraqi National Congress, a group opposed to Saddam Hussein, whose leader was Ahmad Chalabi -- also a key official in the U.S.-organized Iraqi Governing Council.

Chalabi, like any anti-Hussein leader, clearly would have had a vested interest in providing the United States with information that would lead it to invade Iraq and open the door for a new regime -- particularly a regime in which Shia would play a leading role. It ought not to have been a surprise that intelligence coming from the INC and Chalabi would tend to entice the United States to war. U.S. intelligence might have been more cautious with the INC, but if that is all there is to this story, then it is fairly straightforward.

However, there would appear to us to be something more here. In particular, there is a complexity that is usually omitted: namely, the relationship between Chalabi and leading figures in Iran. Prior to the war, Chalabi, an Iraqi Shiite who lived in the West for decades, made several trips to Tehran to confer with Iranian officials on a number of issues. He has continued to travel to Iran since the end of the war. Not to put too fine a point on it, Chalabi has had and continues to have excellent relations with Iran, as well as with leading Shia in Iraq.

As our readers will recall, we have argued since early fall that the guerrilla war in Iraq could be managed only if the Iraqi Shia were prepared to collaborate with the United States. We made two additional points: first, that the strings of the Iraqi Shia trail back to Iran, and any deal with the Shia would have to include a deal with Iran; and second, that any deal ultimately would hinge on a Shiite-dominated government in Iraq and the inclusion of Iraq in an Iranian sphere of influence. It has always been our view that the unanticipated rise of the guerrilla movement in Iraq forced this alliance upon the United States.

If we step back now, a different potential explanation emerges. First, Chalabi was extremely close to the Iranians prior to the war. Second, he provided much of Washington's prewar intelligence on Iraq. Third, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Fourth, the Iranians, along with the Iraqi Shia, are the main beneficiaries of the U.S. invasion. In that case, who Chalabi was and whose interests he actually was serving become the central questions.

Chalabi had a long, public and logical relationship with the Iranians. The Iranians were enemies of Saddam Hussein; so was Chalabi. It made perfect sense that they would collaborate. Let's begin with the failure of Petra Bank, which Chalabi opened in Amman, Jordan, in 1978 and which collapsed in 1989, when the Jordanian government seized it for bank fraud. That story is well known. Somewhat less known is an alternative explanation for the Petra Bank collapse. Sources in Jordan and Israel long have argued that the bank collapsed because Chalabi was collaborating with the Iranians in financing the Iranian war effort and trying to undermine Iraq's war financing. When the Iran-Iraq war ended in defeat for Tehran, Iraq placed enormous pressure on Jordan to shut down the bank, which was managing the flow of money through Chalabi-controlled banks in Lebanon. It is interesting to note that Chalabi escaped from Jordan in a car driven by Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan -- hardly the kind of treatment your average wanted criminal would receive -- and that King Hussein met with Chalabi several times for years after the bank collapsed and the Iraqi Shiite leader was convicted on fraud charges and sentenced to prison, although he served no time.

The claim that Chalabi was working for the Iranians in the Petra Bank scandal is plausible, but hardly provable. What is certain is that Chalabi spent a great deal of time in Iran before and after Sept. 11, and before and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. For example, in March 2001, Chalabi traveled to Tehran to meet with senior leaders. He set up an office for the INC in the capital that was to be paid for with U.S. aid -- and that required a special waiver from Washington because of U.S. sanctions. At a press briefing on March 19, 2001, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was specifically asked whether Chalabi's trip to Iran bothered the United States. Boucher did not answer the question, but it is clear that Washington knew about Chalabi's contacts with Iran and was not bothered by them.

Chalabi's relationship with Iran proved useful to the United States in the run-up to the war. For example, Chalabi arranged for a U.S.-financed transmitter to be installed on Iranian territory, broadcasting into Iraq. In August 2002, Chalabi met with senior Iranian officials in Tehran, then flew to Washington for separate consultations. According to the INC, Chalabi spoke to U.S. officials in Washington from Tehran while he was meeting not only with Iranian officials, but also with Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the country's main Shiite opposition group. Again in December 2002, as the war heated up, Chalabi flew to Tehran and, according to IRNA (quoting Radio Free Iraq, which was based in Prague and run by the United States) said, "The secretary of Iraq's National Congress, Ahmad Chalabi, is mediating between Iran and America." During that meeting, Chalabi was quoted as saying, "Our alliance with Iran is not temporary." Again in January 2003, before a planned meeting of Iraqi opposition leaders in London, Chalabi visited Tehran to meet with al-Hakim.

As the invasion of Iraq moved to its conclusion, U.S. aircraft flew Chalabi from northern Iraq to the city of An Nasiriyah on April 6. It was a symbolic gesture, intended to demonstrate that the INC was part of the fighting coalition. The problem was that Chalabi had trouble rounding up enough troops. The troops he used were drawn from the Badr Brigade, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia. Most recently, after attacks in Al Fallujah on Feb. 14, claims circulated that the attack was carried out by speakers of Farsi, and that they were members of the still-functional Badr Brigade. This might not be true, but the fact is that the Badr Brigade continues to operate, constituting an important and shadowy Shiite militia, and Chalabi was close enough to them in April 2003 that they fleshed out his fighting force.

The relationship with Iran continued after the end of the conventional war. On the evening of Dec. 1, 2003, Chalabi met with the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rohani. At that meeting, Rohani laid out the argument for Iraqi national elections that Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani had begun pressing the previous summer. Chalabi responded, "The role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in supporting and guiding the opposition in their struggles against Saddam's regime in the past, and its assistance toward the establishment of security and stability in Iraq at present, are regarded highly by the people of Iraq." In a later interview with the Iranian Student News Agency, Chalabi said, "Our cooperation with Iran is very good. One can argue that Iran has cooperated with us more than any other neighbor."

Many people in the Bush administration championed Chalabi -- people well beyond the neoconservatives in the Defense Department normally cited as his bedrock of support. One of his strongest backers had been Vice President Dick Cheney. U.S. intelligence became increasingly aware of the relationship between Chalabi and the Iranians -- and discovered that he had equally good relations with hard-liners and moderates. U.S. intelligence also was tracking his relationship to the Badr Brigade. According to Newsweek and other press reports, Cheney became extremely uneasy about Chalabi's relationships, particularly after the CIA briefed him on Chalabi's relations in Iran. There was a sense that those relationships might be more substantial than mere opportunism and mediation.

During the meetings in December with Rohani, Chalabi said Iraq was ready to import Iranian oil, pipelines, construction material, food and pharmaceuticals. Rumors in both countries indicate that this trade is already under way outside normal channels, which, of course, have not yet been established. Which companies will be used to manage these transactions is not clear to us.

That Chalabi had close relations with Iran is not in itself startling. He is a Shiite who was deeply opposed to Saddam Hussein; he took friends where he could get them. It is somewhat more surprising that his extensive dealings with Iran were not regarded as a hindrance to a U.S. relationship with him prior to the war. He was in rather deep with the Iranians. After the war ended and the guerrilla campaign began, Chalabi was clearly useful in negotiating Iraqi Shiite cooperation with Tehran. The postwar relationship was visible and reasonable.

Here is where the problem begins. Most reports say U.S. intelligence on Iraqi WMD came through the INC, which means that it came from Chalabi. Chalabi simply might have been trying to get the Americans to invade Iraq, feeding them whatever it took to get them there. The problem with that theory, from our point of view, is that the administration intended to invade Iraq, regardless. Choosing WMD was a persuasive, public justification - - and a good one, given the proof Washington had at hand. Or more precisely, it was a good justification based on the proof that Chalabi provided.

U.S. intelligence about Iraq was terrible. It was wrong about WMD; it underestimated the extent to which the Shia in the south had been organized by Iranian intelligence prior to the war; it was wrong about how the war would end -- predicting unrest, but not predicting a systematic guerrilla war. An enormous amount of this intelligence -- and certainly critical parts of it -- came to the United States by way of the INC or by channels the INC or its members were involved in cultivating. All of it was wrong.

It was not only wrong, it created an irresistible process. The WMD issue has delegitimized the war in the eyes of a substantial number of Americans. The failure to understand the dynamic of the Shiite community led to miscalculations about the nature of postwar Iraqi politics. The miscalculation about the guerrilla war created a U.S. dependence upon the Shia that is still unfolding. It is al-Sistani, in consultation with U.N. negotiators, who is setting the terms of the transfer of power. The U.S. position in Iraq is securely on Shiite terms, and that means it is on Iranian terms.

This is not an argument against the invasion from a strategic point of view, nor an argument that it was a failure. In the real world, things are rarely so clear-cut. But it does raise a vital question: Who exactly is Ahmad Chalabi? He has been caricatured as an American stooge and used as a tool by the Defense Department. As we consider the intelligence failures in Iraq, Chalabi's role in those failures and his relationship with senior Iranian officials of all factions, a question needs to be raised: Who was whose stooge?

The review of U.S. intelligence on Iraq will have to study many things. Many of those things will have nothing to do with Chalabi. But some of the most important things will pivot around intelligence directly or indirectly provided by Chalabi and his network of sources inside and outside Iraq. Given the events that have transpired, it is not unreasonable to expect the intelligence review to undertake an intense analysis of Chalabi's role, beginning with this question: What exactly was Chalabi's relationship with Iran from the 1980s onward?
24 posted on 02/19/2004 8:32:21 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Death Train was Carrying Explosives to Afghanistan

February 19, 2004
DEBKAfile's Exclusive Sources in Tehran

Little credence is given in Tehran to the official claim that the colossal train explosion which killed at least 300 people and razed five villages in the northeastern Khorassan province Wednesday was caused by colliding wagons carrying industrial chemicals and fertilizers, as well as diesel fuel and cotton. Such flammable freights are usually shipped separately in Iran.

DEBKAfile’s sources note that Iranian officials, two days before a highly controversial parliamentary election, are doing their best to play down the disaster outside Neyshabur which rocked houses 50 miles away in Mashad. The Islamic Republican News Agency tried to blame an earth tremor of 3.6 magnitude, but the US Geological Institute in Colorado said no seismic activity was recorded in the area.

Most of the dead were fire and rescue workers, but also the city’s governor Mojtaba Farahmand-Nekou, its mayor and fire chief.

DEBKA’s sources in Tehran have heard unconfirmed reports that the disaster was no accident, but possibly sabotage carried out by anti-government forces in Khorassan province, which borders on Afghanistan. This report ties in with another that claims the train was not carrying innocent industrial cargoes but hundreds of tons of explosive materials Iran was smuggling into Afghanistan via the Shiite city of Herat to be used by Iranian saboteurs and agents for guerrilla attacks on US troops and the forces of President Hamid Karzai, as well for supplying the Taleban in their Kandahar stronghold.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that there were a series of blasts; the first inside the Neyshabur train station was powerful enough to trigger a second explosion in the remote station of Khayyam. There, it set ablaze another train carrying fuel and other flammable material.

Iran has long used Khorassan province as a conduit for smuggling thousands of its agents into Afghanistan. But the province is also home to nearly two million Afghan refugees, some of whom hire out as agents to the Kabul government or the US military. The suggestion is that a group of these agents were ordered to blow up the train when it pulled into Neyshabur. Their mission: to deter the Iranians from further meddling in Afghanistan.

It would not have been hard to persuade Afghan refugees to undertake the mission. As Sunni Muslims, they harbor strong feelings of resentment against their discrimination at the hands of Iran’s Shiite majority. Three years ago, Afghans were responsible for a large explosion in Mashad, an attack launched after Iran ordered the destruction of a makeshift mosque the refugees had built. Several weeks later, a similar blast occurred in Zahedan, capital of Iran’s Baluchestan province, where Iranian authorities had pulled down another mosque constructed by the refugees.

It just so happens that in the historic town of Neyshabur, site of Wednesday’s horror, the 11th century poet Omar Khayam was born and buried.
25 posted on 02/19/2004 8:34:28 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom now ~ bump!
26 posted on 02/19/2004 9:51:27 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Prepares First Satellite

19.02.2004 12:01
According to a government-released press report, the Iranian government plans to launch its first satellite by 2007.

The satellite aims to do research work from space by collecting information about the ecological situation on the planet which will contribute to prevent natural disasters.
27 posted on 02/19/2004 10:58:52 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Investigation Opens After Iran Train Blast

February 19, 2004

NEYSHABOUR, Iran -- Iran officials were investigating how scores of railway wagons loaded with chemicals, fuel and fertiliser managed to roll out of control, derail and explode causing the deaths of 300 people and injuring 450 others.

"We currently have a death toll of 295. If we find more bodies, I don't think it will be more than 10 or 15," Vahid Barakchi, the head of Khorassan province's disasters unit, told AFP Thursday as investigators arrived at the scene of the carnage.

In the freak incident, the string of some 50 wagons ran away in the early hours of Wednesday and derailed at Khayyam station near Neyshabour, some 75 kilometres (50 miles) from the northeastern city of Mashhad.

The cargo of sulphur, fertiliser, petrol and cotton exploded in a massive blast as firefighters, watched by curious villagers also apparently unaware of the deadly cargo, were attempting to douse smaller fires.

The government declared Thursday a day of mourning in Khorassan province, as grieving relatives searched through lines of charred corpses so they could bury their dead.

IRNA said that President Mohammad Khatami had offered his condolences to the victims and ordered that the causes of the disaster be fully uncovered.

"I hope that with more attention and responsibility we will no longer witness such sad and unacceptable accidents," he added.

Barakchi told reporters "an investigation is underway", and although the alert level had been lowered, the station remained sealed off by members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Mechanical diggers were seen moving in to the site to begin clearing the wreckage.

"There have been no further explosions," Barakchi said, but added that offials were wearing face masks at the scene to avoid inhaling potentially toxic fumes.

The deadly mix of cargoes is likely to raise serious questions over rail transport safety, and officials said a team from the province and the capital Tehran were already probing the causes of the accident.

At the Behesht Fazl cemetery in Neyshabour, an AFP correspondent counted about 190 corpses and body parts lined up on the ground and covered in plastic, and at the 22 Bahman hospital, AFP correspondents saw about 100 mutilated bodies.

"The magnitude of the explosion means that identifying the bodies will be a very slow process," said Mehran Bakili, chief coroner in Neyshabour.

The huge blast occurred in a fertile and mainly agricultural area. It devastated nearby villages with a force measured by seismologists as that of a small earthquake and was heard as far away as Mashhad, one report said.

Surrounding villages suffered serious damage. With local hospitals unable to cope with large numbers of people suffering horrific burns, officials made an appeal for blood donors and brought in helicopters to evacuate the wounded.

Sabotage appears to have been ruled out, and Barakchi said "vibrations" -- possibly a light earth tremor -- could have caused the wagons to have begun rolling out of a station further along the line where they had been parked.

The area had also been buffeted by high winds.

Hossein Zaresefat, the deputy governor general of Khorassan province in charge of security, told AFP that at least two local officials were among the dead.

They were the governor of Neyshabour city, Mojtaba Farahmand, and the local electricity chief Morteza Fahrian. IRNA said the head of the fire department had been killed, while its own correspondent from Neyshabour, 26-year-old Kazem Akbari, had also died.

Transport Minister Ahmad Khoram went to the scene in the area of the station, which gets its name from the nearby grave of Persia's famed poet Omar Khayyam (1048-1122).

The accident occurred as the Islamic republic was gearing up for parliamentary elections on Friday, and while it was still recovering from the shock of the earthquake in the southeastern city of Bam in late December, where up to 45,000 people were killed.
28 posted on 02/19/2004 11:55:25 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: F14 Pilot; nuconvert
No mouse pad, no pencil, no paper, nothing on the floor. Strange.

What is the text on the lap top: XXX import?

The FR homepage seems to be glued into the screen.

Are you sure this is genuine?
29 posted on 02/19/2004 11:55:50 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Shuts Down Reformist Papers

February 19, 2004
BBC News

Iran's hardline judiciary has shut two leading newspapers for publishing a letter criticising the Islamic republic's supreme leader. The letter criticised Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's decision to exclude thousands of reformist candidates from Friday's elections.

It was written by disgruntled reformist deputies who've been barred from standing in the general election.

Criticising the supreme leader is regarded as a serious offence.

The two newspapers ordered to close down with immediate effect were Yas-e-no, the daily of the biggest reform party, and Shargh, another reformist paper which publishes the writings of many liberal thinkers.

They were the only publications that dared to defy an order from Iran's Supreme National Security Council not to publish the text of the letter.

However, they did leave out some of the most sensitive parts, says BBC Tehran correspondent Jim Muir.

Freedom of speech?

The MPs and the two newspapers may have been emboldened by remarks made by the Ayatollah himself in a sermon at Friday prayers last week.

He said that today there is total freedom of speech in Iran.

There were people who did not believe in the system in the government or in the leader himself but they were allowed to speak, he said.

Coming on the eve of the general elections, the closures will inevitably strengthen fears that if the conservatives win the poll, the judiciary will feel it has a freer hand to continue its campaign against reformist publications.

It is not clear how long the ban will last, but around 100 newspapers have been closed down in the past four years.

Many journalists and publishers have also been jailed.

Paris-based rights group Reporters Without Borders said last year that Iran had more journalists behind bars than any other country in the Middle East.
30 posted on 02/19/2004 11:56:10 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Charles Sends Khatami Condolences

February 19, 2004

The Prince of Wales has sent a message of condolence to the Iranian president following the horrific train explosion which killed nearly 300 people yesterday, Clarence House said today.

Charles, who met Mohammad Khatami when he visited the country last week, said he was thinking of and praying for those affected.

"He said he was utterly horrified to learn of the disaster and that all affected were in his thoughts and prayers," a spokeswoman for the Prince said.

The explosion of the runaway train wagons loaded with fuel and chemicals devastated five villages and left a crater about 50ft deep.

At least 295 people were killed and 450 injured in the blast in north-east Iran yesterday.

The disaster comes less than two months after the catastrophic earthquake which claimed the lives of thousands in the city of Bam.
31 posted on 02/19/2004 11:56:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Khomeini's Iran - Darkness at Noon

February 19, 2004
John Metzler

A quarter century ago a dark shadow eclipsed the light of Persia as the shroud of the Ayatollahs fell over Iran. This vibrant and economically virile land, was smothered by the heavy coarse cloak of fundamentalism. In a bizarre sense the Ayatollah Khomeini was able to turn the back the hands of time — not in a remotely romantic way--but to a dour and dismal past through which the medievalist mullahs would impose a regime of political and social sterility and religious intolerance on the remarkably talented Persian people. Darkness had fallen at noon.

The politically inspired Islam which seized Iran, soon spread like a virus throughout many parts of the Middle East and indeed Southeast Asia. The Islamic Revolution in Teheran served as a grim and heady inspiration for fundamentalists the world over.

When the Shah of Iran’s modernizing state was toppled by the mob in 1979, few realized — least of all President Jimmy Carter – the deep geopolitical impact this would create on American interests. In the short run, a key U.S. ally and oil exporter in the Persian Gulf was now spouting a toxic form of anti-American hatred. Later the hostage crisis — triggered when radical Iranian students seized the American Embassy and took 53 diplomats hostage for over a year — was merely the tip of an iceberg, elements of which still lurk in the deep recess of the Islamic psyche.

The fall of Iran into the hands of fundamentalists caused a major shakeup of the players on the Middle East geopolitical chessboard — the original if ill-placed Western support of Saddam’s Iraq as a counterbalance to Islamic Iran was one such outcome. Iran’s support to the Hizbullah militias in Lebanon, or inspiration to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, was also rooted in the Iranian Revolution.

Now more troubling to the West are continuing reports of Iranian nuclear research which has come to the attention of UN inspectors. Despite Teheran’s claims to have declared these programs, evidence that Islamic Iran is still pursuing the nuclear genie persist.

But the enduring curse of fundamentalism in places as diverse as the Casbah of Algeria, the mountains of Afghanistan, to the rugged heartland of Yemen was in the Western view, the worst case scenario. What many had overlooked was that this toxic brew of fundamentalism led the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida to export the threat beyond the Middle East--to London, to Paris and New York.

The heinous horrors of September 11th in many ways had their philosophical roots in the high-octane hatred concocted by Iran’s Islamic regime.

In recent years the Islamic Republic has tried to show a moderate face and indeed allow a parliamentary opposition—elections are slated for late February. "The elections are meaningless," Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah of Iran, told a Paris press conference. "It is critical not to mistake so-called reforms and elections as a cure for the Islamic Republic. Even perfect elections are meaningless for a parliament that does not have the right to make laws. This is a theocracy, remember,” Reza implored.

Interestingly young Iranians—those who have only lived under the Islamic Republic, have grown increasingly restless and openly opposed to the regime. Knowing only privation and socio/political sterility, people are disenchanted with the ruling mullahs.

Reza Pahlavi, during an address to correspondents at the Paris-based French/American Press Club added, “A quarter century ago, a disease from the middle ages took over my country. Its symptoms were fear of freedom and a fanatical zeal to reverse the march of civilization. With strange mutations, the disease spread as far as North Africa and the Far East, creating a brotherhood of terror which is the greatest threat to international security today.”

As a vital force in the large Iranian exile community pressing for peaceful democratic change, Reza Pahlavi warned, “Iran itself became a convention center for the terrorist industry, a meeting place for those who fund, organize, lend logistic and scientific support, plan events and coordinate strategies against the free world. Add up all of that cost – This is a problem that must be solved!”

May the darkness of this dismal regime soon pass and the light be restored to a Free Iran!

John J. Metzler is a U.N. correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He writes weekly for World
32 posted on 02/19/2004 11:58:27 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Movement slams the regime, via Satellite TV, for its last tries

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Feb 19, 2004

The Movement's Coordinator, Aryo Pirouznia, slammed the Islamic republic regime for its tries to take over of the popular boycott of the tomorrow's sham elections.

In parts of an interview, made today, by the Voice of America (VOA) Satellite TV, in duplex from in Los Angeles, the SMCCDI Coordinator stated: "... It's too late for the regime as everybody, especially, Americans have understood the true popular aspirations which are Freedom, Secularity a Democracy..."

...Iranians and the Student Movement had already turned their back to the so-called hardliners back in 1997 and understood, since then, that there no better solution with the so-called reformists...

...We're sure that Iranians will massively boycott the tomorrow's sham elections despite all frauds planned by the regime but this boycott, decided since a long long time, should not in any shape to be attributed as a credit to those so-called reformists..." He emphasized.

Yesterday also, Pirouznia who was interviewed by the LA based "Pars Satellite TV Network" called on all Iranians to cut the regime of any possibility of claiming legitimacy.

According to SMCCDI members, inside Iran, while the Pars TV broadcast faced some problems at certain moments, due to the heavy jamming by the Islamic regime, the today’s VOA broadcast was seen perfectly.

The today's VOA Video Interview can be seen (from the minute 12:45) at:
33 posted on 02/19/2004 12:00:12 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: AdmSmith
No. It's a joke.
A freeper pasted the FR page on the monitor.
34 posted on 02/19/2004 12:14:37 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: nuconvert
But for sure the mullahs are reding this thread.
35 posted on 02/19/2004 12:48:53 PM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
I think you can assume that.
36 posted on 02/19/2004 12:54:52 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
"He said that today there is total freedom of speech in Iran."

"Paris-based rights group Reporters Without Borders said last year that Iran had more journalists behind bars than any other country in the Middle East."

Yes, there's "total freedom of speech", as long as you don't say anything that Khamenei disagrees with. LOL

37 posted on 02/19/2004 1:04:09 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
Exiled Iranians Hatch a Plan of Their Own

February 20, 2004
Asia Times
Safa Haeri

PARIS - With elections going ahead as scheduled on Friday, many eyes are on Iran, watching to see what will become of a nation embroiled in chaos following the Guardians Council's (GC) disqualification of more than 2,000 candidates, most of them reformists. But while many in Iran are still crying "foul" over the elections, another idea is emerging among dissidents - a national referendum - which has become the leitmotiv of the majority of Iranians opposed to the Islamic Republic.

According to Prince Reza Pahlavi - the son of the late Mohammad Reza Shah, the last monarch to rule over Iran before being toppled by the Islamic Revolution led by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 - under the rule of the ayatollahs, Iran has created a "brotherhood of terror which is the greatest threat to international peace and security".

"The strategic vacuum created by the Islamic Revolution in Iran drew the Soviets into Afghanistan the following year. To counter them, the West organized and trained the killers we now know as the Taliban. Similarly, the Iran-Iraq war brought the West to Saddam's support, fueling ambitions responsible for the current predicament. Iran itself became a convention center for the terrorist industry, a meeting place for those who fund, organize, lend logistics and scientific support, plan events and coordinate strategies against the free world. Add up all of the cost. This is a problem that must be solved," the 44-year-old exiled opposition leader told Asia Times Online during his recent visit to Paris.

Pahlavi, who lives in Washington DC where he leads his campaign, suggests "mass civil disobedience" as a solution to this problem, a method initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in India and copied by others in South Africa, former Soviet Union satellite states like Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and in some Latin America countries. But he stated that he had "no other mission" than to help Iranians organize a national and free referendum on the future regime of Iran and called on all the personalities and organizations, groups and formations with any ideology to join the movement, assuring that he is not fighting to restore monarchy in Iran unless, after the referendum, Iranians chose this form of system.

"A constitutional monarchy where the king, or queen, reign, but not rule," he insists. "We are all in the same boat and we have to row in unison. In the past 25 years, we never had such a golden chance. It is up to all of us to take it and the international community will also help."

Other Iranian dissidents, such as Mohammad Mohsen Sazegara, a former Islamist revolutionary fighting the monarchy under the umbrella of Khomeini, and Bizhan Hekmat, a nationalist republican who also participated in the revolution as a leftist student - both "confessing" that they have been "wrong" in supporting the Islamic Revolution - also support the idea of civil disobedience, aimed at forcing the ruling ayatollahs to accept a national referendum on the constitution that, in their view, would allow Iran a peaceful change from the present theocracy to a parliamentary democracy where the state is separate from religion.

But Iran's Nationalist Republicans are more cautious, preferring changes in the present constitution, like limiting the unlimited powers of the Supreme Leader - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - and his mandate to a complete change into full Western-type democracy, changes that are defended by the monarchists and the Iranians for Democracy, a party Sazegara and Dr Qasem Sholeh Sa'di, a former member of the majlis (parliament), are trying to launch officially.

"Iranian republicans are against the present system of Velayat-e Faqih [supreme religious jurisprudence] and instead, promote a secular, democratic regime based on the power of parliament. But at the same time, they rule out any covert or violent methods to achieve their aims," said Hekmat, who organized a recent meeting of the Iranian republicans in the German capital Berlin and brought up the suggestion of a referendum more than two years ago.

For 49-year-old Sazegara, the regime has been badly weakened, losing all its pillars in popular vote and support, religious legitimacy and revolutionary ideology, "exposing itself to a dangerous vacuum created and exacerbated by the absence of acceptable alternatives". It is this vacuum that Sazegara proposes to fill with colleagues supported by the bulk of students and teachers - the main opponents to the Islamic Republic - as well as some of the personalities belonging to the reformist movement of current lamed President Mohammad Khatami.

Looking back, it was Dr Sho'leh Sa'di, a comrade-in-arms with Sazegara who, more than a year ago, predicted the collapse of the "clan of official reformists" and a "sad end" for Khatami, now compared by some Iranians to sellout Judas, after he failed to support reformist lawmakers, including his younger brother Dr Mohammad Reza Khatami, disqualified by the GC, in their calls for postponement of the election, instead insisting that the polling must take place on February 20, thus weakening the ranks of the reformists.

"The bracket of reformism functioning as a buffer between the ruling despots and the people is closed and the president is doomed. Time for a referendum under international supervision is fast approaching and the most efficient, cheapest and democratic way to bring radical changes is peaceful civil disobedience, starting by boycotting the elections," Sazegara told Asia Times Online.

Calls for a boycott may not even be necessary, as the latest survey conducted by the Interior Ministry shows that at least 90 percent of the 46 million eligible voters, most of them aged between 16 and 25, would abstain from going to the polling stations.

"If the elections are held without vote rigging and frauds, it would become a referendum," said Hoseyn Loqmanian, an outspoken reformist deputy from the western city of Hamadan disqualified by the GC and the only lawmaker arrested briefly on charges of insulting the leader, an act that under the laws of the Islamic Republic is considered as a criminal offence.

Pahlavi's sentiments are similar, who said that "even perfect elections are meaningless for a parliament that does not have the right to make laws. This is a theocracy where daring to think free and decide your future is seen as the arrogance of the infidel. The obligation of the faithful is full obedience to those who reveal the law of god, those around the Faqih, or the Supreme Leader. This is not election, but a masquerade of selection." (Khatami, on the other hand, is urging Iranians to participate in the elections, warning a low voter turnout will only benefit the hardliners.)

Another common theme agreed on by the political opponents interviewed by Asia Times Online is that international pressures on the conservatives could bring closer the materialization of a referendum process, conceding, however, that the "approach" of the European Union, mostly Germany, France and Britain to the Iranian situation, only strengthens the position of the "monopolists".

"You have to choose between the 90 percent of the Iranians that reject this regime and the 10 percent that cling to power for their own personal interests. But don't forget that the day the Iranians free themselves from this regime, they will remember the governments that turned their back to them during the hard years they suffered," Pahlavi said. "If you are really for democracy, human rights and freedom in Iran, meeting and talking with the powerless President Khatami about the so-called dialogue of civilizations is not the best way," he observed, referring to the trip to Iran by Prince Charles of England and his meeting with Khatami.

Expressing his "confidence" that the Islamic Republic will "crumble" as did the Soviet Union, Pahlavi tells his fellow Iranians: "We also would be free. Later if the free world lends this regime credibility, sooner if it supports the people in establishing a new order based on the sovereignty of the people and fundamental human rights."

Meanwhile, Sazegara says that it is a fear of losing its power that motivates the GC: "Even the mild criticism voiced by some reformist lawmakers or reports and surveys carried by different commissions of the sixth majlis were too much [for the GC] to take, hence the disqualification of all the 'big mouths' of the incumbent parliament. While democracy, freedom and human rights have become a must for the Iranians, the ruling monopolists can not cope with these internationalized concepts."
38 posted on 02/19/2004 3:05:01 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Bipartisan US Senate Support for the People of Iran

February 12, 2004
108th Congress
Mr. Brownback , Mr. Leahy , Mr. Biden, and Mr. Daschle

2d Session
S. RES. 304

Expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should not support the February 20, 2004, elections in Iran and that the United States should advocate a democratic government in Iran that will restore freedom to the Iranian people and will abandon terrorism.


February 12, 2004

Mr. BROWNBACK (for himself, Mr. LEAHY, Mr. BIDEN, and Mr. DASCHLE) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to


Expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should not support the February 20, 2004, elections in Iran and that the United States should advocate a democratic government in Iran that will restore freedom to the Iranian people and will abandon terrorism.

Whereas there is a long history of mutual affection, appreciation, and respect between the people of the United States and the people of Iran, including the incalculable efforts by the United States in providing humanitarian, financial, and technological assistance to help the people of Iran;

Whereas the people of Iran have shown support for decency and freedom, and solidarity with the United States, including the demonstration of such support through candlelight vigils attended by the youth of Iran in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks upon the United States;

Whereas the Council of Guardians is a 12-member unelected body that has arbitrarily disqualified thousands of candidates, including sitting Members of the Parliament of Iran and members of the reformist movement;

Whereas the elections scheduled to be held on February 20, 2004, in Iran are fatally flawed;

Whereas the brave efforts of the people of Iran to promote greater democracy and respect for human rights are being thwarted by the actions of the Council of Guardians;

Whereas the blatant interference of the Council of Guardians in the electoral process ensures that the elections scheduled for February 20, 2004, will be neither free nor fair; and

Whereas the circumstances in Iran clearly call into serious question whether pro-democratic reform within the regime of Iran is possible: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--

(1) the United States should not support the elections in Iran scheduled to take place on February 20, 2004, as such elections stifle the growth of the democratic forces in Iran and do not serve the national security interest of the United States;

(2) the support provided by the United States to Iran should be provided to the people of Iran; and

(3) the policy of the United States should be to advocate a democratic government in Iran that will restore freedom to the people of Iran, will abandon terrorism, will protect human rights, and will live in peace and security with the international community.
39 posted on 02/19/2004 3:06:38 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Bipartisan US Senate Support for the People of Iran

February 12, 2004
108th Congress
Mr. Brownback , Mr. Leahy , Mr. Biden, and Mr. Daschle
40 posted on 02/19/2004 3:08:22 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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