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Iranian Alert -- February 22, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 2.22.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 02/22/2004 12:00:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn

The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, “this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.” But most American’s are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.

This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.

I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.

If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.

If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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 02/22/2004 12:00:12 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 02/22/2004 12:02:43 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Elections Threaten Pact on Nuclear Inspections

February 22, 2004
Independent UK
Angus McDowall in Tehran

Hardliners in Iran could pursue a more aggressive nuclear policy and crack down on the country's reformists after taking control of parliament in an election boycotted by their opponents.

Pragmatic conservatives struck a deal with Britain, France and Germany last November to open Iran's nuclear facilities to inspection, hoping a softer international line could buy some respite on the scrutiny of domestic issues, such as human rights. But many hardliners were deeply unhappy with the deal, and Western diplomats believe they see the stifling of domestic opposition as an opportunity to pursue a weapons programme more rapidly.

The US, which was suspicious of the deal in the first place, had its concern reinforced by the discovery last week of advanced centrifugal equipment for enriching uranium to weapons grade. Iran had failed to declare the equipment, and has had its involvement in the international nuclear black market exposed by the downfall of Pakistan's nuclear "father", Abdul Qadeer Khan.

In a blow to the reformist cause, turnout in Friday's election to the Majlis was far below normal levels, but not as low as those advocating a boycott had hoped. Nor is the result decisive enough for conservatives to claim a strong popular mandate, but that is unlikely to stop the unelected religious establishment suppressing demands for change.

President Mohammad Khatami now faces a final year in office without the support of a reformist Majlis. When he cast his vote on Friday, for an election he had labelled unfair, the President wore a telling frown and was rumoured to have written down only a few names out of the 30 allowed for each voter.

With Friday's result a foregone conclusion after the disqualification of more than 2,300 reformist candidates, the election was all about turnout. Early results suggested participation of a little under 50 per cent, dropping to 30 per cent in Tehran. "Voting will not make any difference in people's lives, it is all just a game. The reformists just let people think things were improving, without making any real changes," said Khorram, a shopkeeper in Tehran.

Many going to the polls expressed cynicism about the process, and said they only wanted to get the mark in their identity cards showing they had voted. Reformists allege rumours were deliberately spread to suggest that people who failed to vote might have problems with bureaucracy. They say the level of spoiled ballots is likely to top 10 per cent, and that many votes were cast at random. That could lead to a second round of polling in some cities in a couple of months.

Although the conservatives are now in the ascendant, they are deeply divided over how to proceed, with pragmatists favouring a softer "bread and circuses" approach to rule and hardliners wanting revenge on their reformist enemies. Hojjatolislam Qavami, one of the disqualified MPs and chairman of the Majlis legal committee, told The Independent on Sunday the opponents of reform could become "Taliban-like and limit all legal freedom". Some reformists actually hope for a crackdown in the belief that this might rekindle public support for them.

So far hardliners seem to be setting the agenda. But now they will need to focus on improving the economy as a pivotal element of their strategy to retain power. Economic reform has been severely hindered by constant bickering between the Majlis and non-elected conservatives in recent years, and can now be pushed through more quickly.
3 posted on 02/22/2004 12:03:38 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Rigged Poll Puts Iran's Hardliners in Power

February 22, 2004
Telegraph UK
Damien McElroy in Teheran

In the streets, Iranians greeted the election result with indifference. Plagued by a moribund economy starved of foreign investment, Iran is failing to cope with a population explosion. Unemployment is high and incomes are stagnating. Imad Nemaatallahi, an engineering student, said: "The talking will stop, the newspapers will be closed down and we will either end up richer or there will be another revolution."

Islamic hardliners routed Iran's reformists yesterday as votes were counted in an election that had been rigged before the polls even opened, thanks to the mass ban on moderate candidates.

The new conservative majority is expected to spell an end to President Mohammad Khatami's seven-year experiment in greater freedom of speech and loosening Islamic cultural and social restrictions - a drive that hardliners have tried to obstruct at every turn.

Extended voting hours that stretched far beyond the Friday evening deadline yielded an unexpectedly strong turnout from an apathetic electorate. The interior ministry predicted that almost 50 per cent of voters cast a ballot, defying pre-election predictions that turnout could slump to 30 per cent. Nevertheless, it is still likely to be a record low.

Religious-backed parties were on course to win more than 200 of the 280 seats, dramatically reversing the reformist landslide of 2000. The outcome was widely forecast after more than 2,400 candidates, nearly all reformists, were vetoed by a clerical council, prompting a boycott by the main anti-conservative movements.

Hardline prosecutors last week also closed down two of the last surviving pro-reform newspapers, an office of the main reformist party and its news website - all for reporting a critical letter by the disbarred deputies.

The conservatives were jubilant that calls for a widespread boycott had been thwarted. The Siyasat Rouz newspaper proclaimed the result was a victory over foreign powers that supported the reformists: "Once again the Iranian people have defied the predictions of the foreigners."

The clerical Guardian Council, which vets candidates and validates the results, declared that by voting in large numbers Iranians had "foiled all the plots and plans of the enemies of religion and the nation, including the Great Satan, America".

The resurgent religious parties are dedicated to a cultural revolution that will restore the early zeal of the Islamic Republic on the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. They have been in power for a year in Teheran's city government and changes in the capital give a taste of what the rest of the nation may soon face. The new mayor, Mahmoud Ahmedi Nejad, has vowed to return the middle class to God and has appointed high-profile allies to impose his agenda across the city.

Mohammad Shajjadi, a director of films about Iranian heroics in the trenches during the war with Iraq, has been made manager of a drab community centre in the northern suburbs. "The middle class and the religious people have become divided," he said. "The opposition between these two classes must end; it is the policy of the municipal government that we must engineer this. Leisure time and free time are among the most important fronts."

In recent years, Iran has changed greatly as its youth - under-25s make up half the population - rebelled against Islamic strictures such as demands that women cover their hair and bodies to avoid inflaming male passions.

However, stricter segregation between the sexes is now on the way back. The director claims that far from stifling the people, such measures are attractive to local residents. "For the first time, our activities in different types of art are partitioned, even the guitar playing," Mr Shajjadi said. "This is so that all from this society can participate."

The mayor has even banned David Beckham's face from the city's advertising hoardings. The Real Madrid player was used to promote an engine lubricant in Iran until the mayor decided his posters were a distraction for the city's youth.

Mr Shajjadi defended the move: "They want paintings, the big posters, in different parts of the city to keep youngsters in touch with the traditional values and improve their behaviour."

Reformist politicians have been discredited by a failure to force through greater changes. Even existing reformist changes, Mr Shajjadi says, now must be reversed.

"For the first time in seven years, cultural officials in Teheran are interested in citizens' behaviour," he said. "If we try to educate people in the right way, they will become more co-operative citizens."

Iran's clerical rulers tapped a deep vein of nationalism and suspicion of foreign interference among many Iranians to boost the turnout and endorse the legitimacy of the Islamic system. But the lower turnout and reversal of results also reflected apathy and disillusionment with Khatami's reformers as much as calls for a boycott.

In the streets, Iranians greeted the election result with indifference. Plagued by a moribund economy starved of foreign investment, Iran is failing to cope with a population explosion. Unemployment is high and incomes are stagnating. Imad Nemaatallahi, an engineering student, said: "The talking will stop, the newspapers will be closed down and we will either end up richer or there will be another revolution."

Reformists accused the government of mounting a campaign of intimidation on television and in official workplaces to flush out voters. Opponents of the hardliners are dismayed. "The 1990s were our 1960s, but the underground revolution was stillborn just below the surface," said one female Iranian official. "Now the hardliners are coming back to shovel soil over us."
4 posted on 02/22/2004 12:04:30 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Working as a Journalist in Iran is a Surreal Experience

February 21, 2004
Stuart Hughes

Videoblog: Iranian Election Analysis by Stuart Hughes

Listen to Stuart Hughes election day report

A staple of broadcast journalism is the “vox pop” – accosting people on the streets and asking them what they think about a particular subject.

On election day, many of the programmes I work for were asking for voxes so I went down to a nearby polling station with my translator, Negar, to listen to the vox of the populi.

Being able to interview people openly in public places is unusual enough in Iran. But the paranoia of the authorities over it would be laughable, were it not so serious for the ordinary Iranians who have to deal with the invasions of their privacy every day.

As soon as I took out my microphone and started talking to people, a plainclothes intelligence officer sidled up alongside. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t stop us, he didn’t take notes…he just stood there, as if poised to step in should anyone dare to criticise the regime. It was all extremely bizarre – but because we’d been rigorous beforehand in ensuring we had the right accreditation, everything was above board. On any normal, non-election day we’d have been hauled off to the nearest police station – or at the very worst subjected to the breathtakingly pointless questioning and permission checking that makes you want to tear your hair out. For the elections, though, we had our special papers – and no one could stop us.

As the day went on, the constant shadow of the authorities began to feel almost normal. Men in sunglasses followed us from a distance whenever we went. To be fair, I would have been very surprised if they hadn’t.

At one point, we turned up at a polling station to do some lives on our videophone, only to find it virtually deserted. As we set up the camera, the police officer on patrol herded up a gaggle of women in black chadors and made them queue outside – to make it look like the Great Iranian Public was itching to cast its collective vote.

At the polling station, I met two sisters who were a dream for me. Not only did they speak good English but they were also poles apart politically – one conservative, the other reformist.

I made them the centrepiece of my election day report, which you can hear here.

It's my analysis of the election results so far and is just over 400Kb in size: Videoblog: Iranian Election Analysis

The rollercoaster of news stories that have landed in my lap since I arrived here in the early hours of Wednesday morning has meant that it was only on election day that I was finally able to get out and about onto the pollution-choked streets of Tehran to “gauge the mood” – as journalists are fond of doing.

Until then, my picture of modern Iranian society had been a fragmentary one. For me, it was summed up by the behaviour of the bureau’s assistant, Negar.

She arrives at the office every morning dressed in long black coat and modest hejab. As soon as she’s indoors, though, she takes off her headscarf to uncover her hair. Beneath her coat, Negs wears western clothes.

It’s not every day that a foreign journalist with a microphone and a camera can walk up to an ordinary Iranian and ask them what they think about their country’s political system – and simply walk away afterwards.

On any normal day, gauging opinion on the streets of Tehran would instantly attract the attention of one of the many branches of Iran’s security forces – the Revolutionary Guard, the police, or undercover intelligence officers.

But election day for the seventh Iranian parliament, or majlis, was no ordinary day. More than 200 foreign journalists are reporting on the elections – and the authorities are eager to show their country in its best light.

At a polling station in the prosperous suburb of Niavaran, in northern Tehran, voters – and some who have simply turned up out of curiosity or to give moral support to relatives -- were eager to express their views, even if many are less willing to give their names or have their photographs taken.

Long lists of candidates hang are posted along the walls of the polling stations. But the names of many would-be candidates were absent. Prior to the election Iran’s hardline Council of Guardians, an unelected watchdog, banned around two and a half thousand reformist politicians from standing.

The reformists, already under pressure over their perceived failure to fulfil their promises to liberalise Iranian society, decided to boycott the poll.

Many voters followed suit, including translator Bahar Irani.

“The candidates standing only represent about 10% of the population,” she told me.

“If the candidates don’t represent the population then it’s not a real election.”

Bahar Irani had only turned up at the polling station to accompany her sister, Noushid Najafi.

Although blood relatives, the two share very different political views – one a reformist, the other deeply conservative, a fact highlighted by her flowing black chador covering her entire body.

“It’s not because I’ve been tortured or anything like that I’ve chosen to vote,” Noushid said.

“It’s my right to vote, I want to vote, and that’s why I’ve done it.”

For some Tehranis, though, the ideological divide between conservatives and reformists is a side issue.

“All politicians are as bad as each other,” said Zohreh Sadri.

“They only think of themselves and their own wallets – and that goes for those who vote for them as well.

“If the turnout is low it’ll show that the politicians aren’t representing the will of the people.

“The whole election is a sham.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Ali Sami’ee, a 22 year old student.

“We do have a parliament here but as long as there is an unelected body like the Council of Guardians then parliament will basically be powerless.

“Whether we like it or not, the regime will be the overall winner.”

As I left Ali Sami’ee and walked away from the Niavaran polling booth he was immediately approached by a plainclothes intelligence officer and questioned about our conversation.

Old habits die hard in Iran – even on election day.

(A version of this entry can be found here (BBC News)..)
5 posted on 02/22/2004 12:07:27 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Turning Point in Iran

Le Monde | Editorial
Friday 20 February 2004

Iranians are convened to an election in the form of a funeral this Friday, February 20. The regime is burying a democratic experiment which has not kept all its promises. For a little more than six years, a President and a Parliament elected as democratically as any in the world, have co-existed- badly- with the second part of the state apparatus. That part draws its legitimacy from the principle called "velayat-e faqih": it asserts the supremacy of the clergy over politics ever since the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran twenty-five years ago.

The first side was regrouped around the distinguished President, Mohammad Khatami, and his reforming majority in the Majlis, the Parliament. The second, the conservatives' camp, was dominated by the personality of the Guide of the Revolution, Ali Khamenei, who controls the security and defense forces, the justice department, and certain key economic positions.

Those six years saw constant political combat between the two groups. The reformers have lost. They had secured only a certain liberalization of behavior in a country of 66 million people, over half of whom were born after the revolution. The conservatives have won the battle for power- through rigged trials, targeted assassination campaigns, the use of torture, and other repressive methods.

Friday's elections won't be democratic. The conservatives have prohibited most reform movement candidates from running. Just Thursday, they had the last two reform daily newspapers, Yas-e nou and Sharq, closed down. Everything suggests that by the end of this week, President Khatami, whose term is over in 2005, will find himself without a majority from now on. He will be the only democratically elected official in a theocracy. It's a turning point.

From a certain angle, this will clarify the situation. No more shadow theater, no more pretenses, no more "democratic" grape leaf to mask the true power, that of the mullahs. The conservatives won't be able to hide any more behind "civil" government. They'll be holding all the levers of control. They'll be responsible for everything: mass unemployment that hits a well-educated youth; the suffocation of the ambitions of a large country that, without denying its religious singularity, wants to achieve a mastered modernity that doesn't ape the West. They will be responsible for the often shameful situation of Iranian women, who represent more than half the population; for a nuclear policy that seems to retain too many gray areas to not worry Iran's neighbors, Europe, and the United States.

It is both to Mr. Khatami's credit and a sign of his weakness that he did not resort to a test of force- in the open, in the streets-with his opponents, as though he knew that Iranians, from the revolution to the long war against Iraqi aggression (1980-1988), were fed up with violence. However, the conservatives would be mistaken to wrongly interpret the apparent passivity of a young, disappointed, frustrated, and impatient population.


Translation: Truthout French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.

© Copyright 2004 by
6 posted on 02/22/2004 12:13:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Sunday Herald - 22 February 2004

Hardliners tighten grip on Iran after election ends hopes of reform

Newspapers were closed, liberal candidates were banned … was there ever any doubt over Iran’s election? From Dan De Luce in Tehran

Iran’s experiment with reform officially ended last week after the theocratic leadership orchestrated a conservative takeover of the parliament. Reformists and dissidents are bracing themselves for hard times

In a country that mixes religion and politics in equal measure, it seemed fitting that mosques were converted into polling places in Iran’s elections on Friday.

Voting began early at the turquoise-tiled mosque on Resaalat Square, where women in black chadors and old men holding prayer beads scanned a list of more than 1000 candidates posted on the wall.

Hundreds of names were missing from the list, including those of many sitting MPs. They were disqualified by one of the theocracy’s most powerful bodies, the Guardian Council, which ruled that more than 2000 reformist candidates lacked loyalty to Islam and the constitution.

Holding her blue-and-white ballot paper, Zahra, 32, said she wasn’t bothered that the conservatives were running essentially unopposed. “These elections are free and fair. Those who are criticising are those who have betrayed the revolution,” she said.

Zahra said she had chosen the main conservative group, Builders of an Islamic Iran, because it stood for Islamic principles.

The theocratic leadership relies on Zahra and other members of a small but militant minority to support the system, attending state-organised rallies and turning out to vote in an orchestrated election. Some are true believers; some are state employees or businessmen who go along to get along.

The chasm between the hardline minority, who accept a rigid interpretation of Islam, and the rest of society plays out as a perpetual culture war.

A group of young men stood waiting for a bus only a few yards away from the mosque-turned-polling-place. When one of them spoke, it seemed as though he was light years away from the people arriving to vote.

“There’s no democracy here. This has all been planned in advance,” said Darius, 21, speaking quietly to avoid trouble with the police and security agents at the polling station. “I’ve never heard of any of these people who are running. If there were some candidates that I knew who would do something for us, I would vote.

“All of us hope this regime will fall. I would do anything to help change this regime,” he said.

Ignoring appeals to vote from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Darius and his mates were escaping their noisy, working-class district for a day of walking in the mountains above Tehran.

Four years ago, young voters waited in long queues to cast their ballots for reformist candidates who promised democratic change . They believed the parliament would carry out the vision of President Mohammad Khatami, who proposed nudging the theocracy forward through what he called “religious democracy”.

His experiment was snuffed out at the outset. One of his senior advisers was shot and seriously wounded. A brief flourishing of press freedom was crushed as the hard-line judiciary shut down one paper after another. Once elected, reformists saw their initiatives vetoed by the Guardian Council, the same body that knocked them off the ballot for this election.

Khatami tried to steer a gradual course and settle for modest gains, but the conservative establishment merely exploited his conciliatory nature.

“He tried to play an intermediary role. But because of the polarisation that’s occurred between reformists and conservatives, there is no room to be an intermediary any more,” said one reformist, who asked not to be named.

“One should choose that way or this way. There is no third way.”

Reformist MPs have moved away from Khatami and are now openly accusing the supreme leader, whose wields near-absolute power, of authoritarian rule.

Looking weary on election day, Khatami offered characteristically oblique criticism of the religious establishment. “This nation has been defeated many times but continued its path and created surprises.”

The idea that democracy and theo cracy could coexist has been thoroughly discredited. Though the ref ormist experiment had effectively been defeated long before, the election was a kind of burial for Khatami’s project.

The elderly men who preside over the theocracy have made it clear there will be no democratic evolution on their watch. It is a sobering message for Iran and all those in the Middle East who had hoped Khatami might open a new era in the Islamic world.

The reformists who sparked lively debate in parliament will be replaced by obscure, obedient figures hand-picked by conservatives to serve as their proxies. In campaign literature they are presented as experts who will solve the everyday problems of Iranians.

“Employment is the most important thing and we’re going to tackle that in a serious way,” said Hassan Moqabessi, a spokesman for the Builders of Iran, which enjoys the patronage of powerful conservatives. “The reformists forgot about a lot of things. They forgot about the economy, about health care, about higher education.”

This is not the first time critical voices have been silenced in Iran. But the reformists were by no means outsiders. They had deep roots in the revolution, the clergy and the political families that have dominated Iran since the Shah was overthrown 25 years ago. Some are war veterans, others spent time in the Shah’s prisons. By crushing these insiders, the theocracy has alienated valuable partners who were prepared to work within the system.

Khatami’s cabinet will be next on the hit-list. Reformist MPs expect the new parliament, which doesn’t take power for another three months, to pile pressure on the interior ministry and the culture ministry – two areas where the conservatives accuse the reformists of being too lax.

Although it had little power, the outgoing parliament served as an outlet for criticism and discussion. Now that outlet has been cut off, pressures from different quarters will begin mounting.

Inflation and unemployment are threa tening to spiral out of control. The younger generation is chafing at restrictions on social freedom. With the reformists ousted, blame will fall solely on the conservatives’ shoulders.

On the international front, Iran is again facing tough questions about its nuclear programme. The UN’s nuclear watchdog has found that Iran had a more sophisticated uranium enrichment technology that it had admitted. The deal that the conservative leadership brokered with Britain, France and Germany last October may yet unravel.

As for the defeated reformists, they speak of carrying on their cause through grass-roots efforts and forging ties to secular liberals. But at a press conference yesterday after the election, the leaders of the main reformist party, the Participation Front, sounded adrift, still struggling to find a footing.

Leaving nothing to chance, the judiciary shut down the two most important reformist newspapers, Sharq and Yas-e No, two days before the vote. Both papers had published excerpts from a scathing letter from MPs accusing the supreme leader of trampling on the rights of the people.

Some reformists worry that the newspaper closures represent an ominous sign of things to come. They are bracing themselves for a bleak era ahead.

Copyright © 2004 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088
7 posted on 02/22/2004 12:15:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
8 posted on 02/22/2004 12:15:45 AM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: DoctorZIn
9 posted on 02/22/2004 12:41:13 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: DoctorZIn


Gholamali Haddadadel: Head of the conservative group Abadgaran Iran-e-Islami, or Developers of Islamic Iran. First elected to parliament in 2000.

Ahmad Tavakkoli: Economics professor. Lost presidential races to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1993 and Mohammad Khatami in 2001. First time in parliament.

Mohammad Reza Faaker: Firebrand cleric who lost his parliament seat in a reformist landslide in 2000.

Ali Emami Rad: An incumbent who is considered ultraconservative. A harsh critic of President Mohammad Khatami and other reformers.

Farhad Nazari: Former head of Tehran police. Backed crackdown against student-led protests in 1999. First time in parliament.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi: A former deputy foreign minister for Asian affairs and a former ambassador to China. Considered close to conservatives. First elected to parliament in 2000.
10 posted on 02/22/2004 1:19:34 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith

Iran right sweeps to win in disputed election


TEHRAN - Islamic conservatives hostile to President Mohammad Khatami's liberal reforms swept toward a predictable victory over shackled reformists this morning (NZ time) after a disputed parliamentary election with a sharply reduced turnout.

Interior Ministry figures showed conservatives won 133 of the first 194 provincial seats declared, deputy parliament speaker Behzad Nabavi said. A total of 289 seats were at stake.

Reformists won 37, independents 17 and five were reserved for Iran's religious minorities -- Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. In 31 districts where no candidate polled more than 25 per cent, there will be a run-off later.

There was not one woman among the first 194 lawmakers elected. There were 13 in the outgoing parliament.

Reformists branded the election rigged and many boycotted it after the unelected hardline Guardian Council banned 2,500 mainly reformist candidates, including 80 sitting lawmakers, prompting Washington to say the vote was neither free nor fair.

"Unfortunately, this was not a free election," said Mostafa Tajzadeh, a leader of the main reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which boycotted the poll. "Our belief from the outset that the conservatives would win was proved right."

A conservative majority could spell an end to Khatami's seven-year experiment in allowing greater freedom of speech and loosening Islamic cultural and social restrictions, a drive that hard-liners have tried to obstruct at every turn.


State radio and television, keen to assert the reformist boycott had had no impact, announced a 60 per cent turnout.

But Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said the national turnout was about 50 per cent and in Tehran just 29 per cent, sharply down on the 67 per cent who voted nationwide in 2000, when Khatami's reformist allies won two thirds of the seats.

Reformist lawmaker Ali Shakurirad, banned from standing again, told a news conference the fact that half the nation had not voted and more than 70 per cent had stayed home in Tehran was a big defeat for the hardline clerics.

But apathy and disillusionment at the slow pace of Khatami's reforms may have had as much impact as boycott calls.

The lowest turnout for a parliamentary election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution was 53 per cent in 1980.

With a quarter of the votes in the 30-seat Tehran electoral district counted, conservatives of the Alliance for the Advancement of Islamic Iran held the top 20 places, the Iran Students News Agency said.

Conservative commentator Amir Mohebian, a policy adviser to Iran's senior clerical leaders, suggested the victors would use a velvet glove rather than an iron fist, and the new assembly would usher in a second phase of more effective reforms.

Abtahi said it was up to the conservatives now to keep their promises not to interfere with people's social freedom.

But political analyst Hossein Rassam forecast an escalation of factional conflict and a crackdown.

"The reformists are aware that the conservatives will try to make deals with the European Union and will try to prevent this by being outspoken about the state of democracy in Iran," he told Reuters. "This will antagonise the hard-liners and will lead to arrests, the closure of more newspapers and so on."


The Guardian Council said that by voting in large numbers Iranians had "foiled all the plots and plans of the enemies of religion and the nation, including the Great Satan, America."

Both the United States and the European Union voiced concern on Friday at the conduct of the poll, particularly the mass exclusion of reformist candidates.

"These actions do not represent free and fair elections and are not consistent with international norms," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

But conservative ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was quick to say Iran had a better turnout than the United States, where a president who won only 25 per cent of the popular vote had entered the White House on the ruling of a court.

Under the constitution, the government does not have to resign after parliamentary elections. But the new assembly, which features many former deputies from the 1990s, may try to impeach Khatami's more liberal ministers, as it did in 1999.
11 posted on 02/22/2004 1:21:11 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith; DoctorZIn; nuconvert; Cindy; XHogPilot; Pan_Yans Wife; freedom44; faludeh_shirazi; ...
Eight Die in Vote Result Disputes in South Iran

Sun February 22, 2004

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Eight people have died in clashes with police in two towns in southern Iran over disputed parliamentary election results, local officials said on Sunday.
Four died in the town of Firouzabad in the southern Fars province, in protests on Saturday when the governor's office declared an unexpectedly high turnout in a tight race between a reformist and an Islamic conservative candidate.

"People were calling for the votes to be recounted to stop any possibility of vote-rigging," a local official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Another four were killed in the southwestern Khuzestan province when police clashed with a group of people protesting about election results in the town of Izeh, the ISNA students news agency reported, citing an unnamed local official.

The protesters had tried to storm the governor's office and attacked government and judiciary buildings in the town, the official said.

In Firouzabad, a crowd of several hundred people grew angry after one protester was shot and wounded by police.

The protesters began damaging police cars and attacking government buildings and in subsequent clashes "unfortunately three civilians and one policeman were killed on Saturday morning," the local official said.

Islamic conservatives were on course for a big win over reformist allies of President Mohammad Khatami on Sunday in an election branded unfair by Washington due to the prior disqualification of more than 2,000 reformist candidates.
12 posted on 02/22/2004 4:57:16 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
13 posted on 02/22/2004 5:15:28 AM PST by XHogPilot
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To: DoctorZIn; nuconvert; yonif; Pan_Yans Wife; Pro-Bush; MEG33; windchime; McGavin999; seamole; ...
Low voter turnout in Iran

Maariv Int'l, Israel
22 Feb 2004

After disqualifying their liberal rivals extremists take control of parliament as nation votes with its feet in protest over rigged elections

The disqualified reformists can claim a moral victory in Iran’s rigged elections, as the voters heeded the reformists’ call to boycott what had become a farce.
The official government figures put voter turnout at 43.29 percent, a drop of 25% compared to the 67.2% turnout registered in the 2000 elections. Reformists say the turnout was even lower, about 40%.

An especially low turnout was registered in greater Teheran, a reformist stronghold. Estimates are the turnout in the capital was under 30%.

The conservative extremists will take control of the new Majlis, after 2,400 reform candidates were barred from running by the Council of Guardians, a non-elected body controlled by the conservatives.

Despite the boycott and lack of viable opposition, the conservatives are still 36 seats short of a majority, having so far won 110 seats.
With the ballot weighted with conservatives, coupled with the reformist boycott, Islamic hard-liners were likely to win from the start. Voter turnout was the real drama in Saturday's race.

Conservatives hoped people would ignore the boycott, showing the strength of the Islamic state 25 years after the revolution that ousted the secular, pro-Western shah. Reformists hoped low turnout would strengthen their drive for openness and accountability.

In the 2000 elections, hard-liners lost control of the parliament for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But when the next legislature convenes in June, they should have a comfortable majority.

A victory for conservatives also consolidates hard-line control at a sensitive time in the Middle East. In Iraq, Shiite Muslims are pressing for early elections and look to predominantly Shiite Iran for backing. The United States and its allies, meanwhile, are questioning Iran's denials about seeking nuclear arms technology.

More than 46 million people ages 15 and over were eligible to vote. Voting was extended for four hours in an attempt to get every last ballot.

State television and radio broadcast a nonstop series of reports and appeals aimed at stirring voters. Senior Islamic clerics described voting as a religious duty.
14 posted on 02/22/2004 5:54:26 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: downer911; DoctorZIn; faludeh_shirazi; nuconvert
The official government figures put voter turnout at 43.29 percent, a drop of 25% compared to the 67.2% turnout registered in the 2000 elections. Reformists say the turnout was even lower, about 40%.

This shows a true stat!

15 posted on 02/22/2004 5:59:14 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Earthquake Relief

Published: February 22, 2004

Iranian Earthquake Relief

WEDNESDAY - A screening of "And Life Goes On," an Iranian film, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music will raise money for the humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts of AmeriCares in Bam, the Iranian city that suffered a devastating earthquake in December. The screening, at 7, will be followed by a performance by Sussan Deyhim, an Iranian singer, and a reception with drinks and hors d'oeuvres about 9. Tickets, $50, from (203) 658-9557.

Silent Orchids, and Auction

16 posted on 02/22/2004 6:37:06 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: F14 Pilot
This just in from a student inside of Iran...

"4 people also died in city of Izeh in south east of Iran in riots.

The number of voters in that city was more than the whole population."
17 posted on 02/22/2004 8:21:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom Now ~ Bump!
18 posted on 02/22/2004 8:29:41 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Clashes rock Esfahan

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Feb 22, 2004

The brutal intervention of the regime's security forces and anti-riot units lead, today, to clashes in the City of Esfahan which has been scene of brutal repressive actions following several popular demos in the last two years.

Tear gas and clubs were used against hundreds of demonstrators who gathered to protest against another financial fraud linked to several regime affiliated having collected millions of dollars, in Iranian currency, and then having declared bankruptcy.

The most violent clashes happened in the "Jey" avenue and in the Chahr-Bagh area where the crowd, angered by the brutal official respond, took on several public buildings and patrol cars by smashing their windows and windshields while shouting slogans against the regime and its leaders.

The situation of the city was already extremely tense following sporadic clashes and demos which took place, yesterday, following the sham elections held on Friday.

Hundreds of special forces are patrolling the streets by mid day and trying to identify the "counter revolutionaries" and "Trouble Makers" while questioning the residents.
19 posted on 02/22/2004 8:30:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Says It Bought Nuclear Parts from Dealers

February 22, 2004
Parinoosh Arami

TEHRAN -- Iran acknowledged on Sunday that it bought nuclear components on a shady black market amid mounting concern that the Islamic Republic may still be concealing sensitive nuclear research.

Disclosures by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, have in recent weeks lifted the lid on the global trade in nuclear technology that could be used to make atomic bombs.

Khan has admitted to leaking nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Unlike the other two countries, Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

"We have bought some things from some dealers but we don't know what the source was or what country they came from," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

"It happens that some of those (dealers) were from some sub-continent countries," Asefi added, stressing that Tehran had informed the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog -- the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- about the purchases.

Malaysian police said on Friday that Khan had sold Iran $3 million in centrifuge parts to Iran in the mid-1990s.

Western diplomats in Vienna say Iran has given the IAEA the names of five European middlemen and six Pakistani scientists who helped Tehran acquire nuclear technology.

Diplomats also say the IAEA has found parts usable in advanced "P2" centrifuges to produce enriched uranium in Iran.

Iran late last year admitted to an 18-year cover-up of sensitive nuclear research and signed up to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities.


But the discovery of P2 centrifuge parts has increased concern in Washington and the European Union that Iran may still be hiding aspects of its nuclear program.

However, a senior Western diplomat in Tehran told Reuters on Sunday he did not expect further major revelations about Iran.

"I don't think there will be more nasty surprises on the nuclear file," he said.

He said Iran appeared to have taken a fundamental decision, endorsed by all factions in the ruling establishment, that developing nuclear weapons was not worth the trouble.

However, he said Iran wants to retain a capacity to enrich uranium to keep the know-how, while the West was united in seeking to persuade them to give up the program completely.

"We are still haggling, thinking of prices," the envoy said.

Asefi said Iran had told the IAEA about its P2 centrifuge project, which Tehran says is still at the research stage.

"Weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons have had no place in Iran's defense doctrine and will not have," Asefi said.

The IAEA is expected to release a report on its inspections in Iran in the coming week. Diplomats in Vienna have said it will detail Tehran's continued failure to declare potentially weapons-related atomic equipment to the U.N. agency.

(Additional reporting by Paul Taylor in Tehran, Louis Charbonneau in Vienna)
20 posted on 02/22/2004 8:31:27 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
"However, a senior Western diplomat in Tehran told Reuters on Sunday he did not expect further major revelations about Iran.

"I don't think there will be more nasty surprises on the nuclear file," he said."

He said Iran appeared to have taken a fundamental decision, endorsed by all factions in the ruling establishment, that developing nuclear weapons was not worth the trouble. "

Who Is This clown??
21 posted on 02/22/2004 8:39:22 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
"The number of voters in that city was more than the whole population."

Hmmm.....sounds familiar. Didn't we see that strange phenomenon in a few places when counting the votes for Gore?
22 posted on 02/22/2004 8:43:03 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: All
Q&A: Iran's elections

CS Monitor
22 Feb 2004

The Monitor's Scott Peterson provides cultural context for the Feb. 20 political contest.

What's the most positive development from Friday's elections in Iran?

As with most political events in Iran, the question of what is positive and negative is in the eye of the beholder. Very little happens here that is not seen through the prism of the political battle between the hard-line/conservative camp, and the once-popular reform camp.

On the face of it, for the conservatives, this election - now that around 2,500 reform-minded candidates have been disqualified - will almost certainly yield victory. That will return control of parliament to the right wing, but will also cause new problems for that faction. The turnout is likely to be very low - in keeping with boycott calls from the main reformist party, and just plain apathy on the part of disenchanted voters - which creates legitimacy problems. The conservatives also must create a new model of rule accepted by more Iranians, who have seen their hopes of more democracy and freedoms - codified by three crucial pro-reform votes since 1997 - dashed by conservatives over the years.

What's the most negative development?

The reformists are crying foul, because the unelected Council of Guardians that barred so many candidates has ensured that reformists can't keep their parliament seats. But there is a much broader issue at stake: Most Iranians these days have as little time for reformists as they do for the hard-liners. They have been completely turned off by politics, and in this vacuum, the divisions between extremists on both sides have deepened.

No one is predicting a new revolution, and there is little chance that the fundamental pillar of Iran's Islamic system - divine clerical rule, in the hands of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - will change anytime soon. There are more calls for that kind of change, especially from the increasingly secular reform camp, but most Iranians will tell you that they don't mind who rules, as long as their regime lets them live their own lives, and make their own political and social decisions.

Were these elections a mere show, with the outcome already determined? How likely is it for a civil war to break out in Iran? If one did, would the conservative clerics or the reformers win?

Civil war on the streets is not likely, though there have been sporadic clashes for the past five years. Instead, expect to see new divisions appearing in the conservative camp, between the hard-liners and the so-called moderate, or "rational" conservatives.

These moderates say they are the ones who, after this vote, will be able to carry out key elements of the reform agenda, and have learned the lesson of the reform experience, that reforms are the key demand of the majority. While there have been a few signs that this faction can have an influence - witness Iran's decision last December to sign the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - there are also many signs that the hard-liners still control everything. For example: 4,000 candidates were at first banned by the Guardian Council, then the Council essentially ignored the Supreme Leader's call that those rejections should be reconsidered.

If the conservatives gain control of the parliament, is the reform movement dead?

Checkmated at almost every turn, the reform movement has been dead for some time. But as reformists often say, its ideals and agenda has now become a bedrock part of Iranian politics and popular demands, even if those who first championed that cause have been unsuccessful in achieving the kind of change they were expecting, after so many landslide electoral victories.

Why has the democratic reform movement run out of gas in Iran?

Critics charge that the movement and reform-minded President Mohamed Khatami misjudged the willingness of conservative, unelected bodies - the judiciary, Guardian Council, etc. - to use extralegal means to force the collapse of the reformists. More than 100 reform newspapers have been shut down. Legislation was never approved. Dozens of political prisoners languish in jail. President Khatami is now accused of proving too weak in the face of that onslaught, and of failing to force accountability on the part of most conservative tools of power.

How would you characterize Iran's relations with its neighbors and the United States since Sept. 11? Does it feel threatened by having US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan or does it prefer the US to Hussein and the Taliban?

Iran's relations with its neighbors have changed dramatically since Sept. 11, primarily because of changes in the region wrought by the US - Iran's official arch-foe, which is still known as the "Great Satan" in some quarters here. Two of Iran's key enemies have been removed - the Taliban, and Hussein - with Tehran barely having to lift a finger. These moves are in addition to a long-standing effort by Iran to improve ties to the Gulf states and other neighbors, as it seeks to bring itself out of the isolation that has prevailed since the 1979 Islamic revolution, and cement its role as a regional superpower.

Which western country has the best relations with the current government of Iran? In what ways is it possible for this country to influence, or modify, the hard-line clerical positions?

France probably has the best relations with Tehran at the moment, but the British and Germans are close behind, and relations do vary considerably. Prince Charles just visited last week, to see the destruction of the Bam earthquake. At the same time, the British Embassy in Tehran has been subject to shootings and other attacks in the past year. And France has come under rhetorical fire for its recent decision to ban headscarves and any religious symbols in state classrooms.

Often, those states have little influence on regime decisions. But the foreign ministers of all three governments visited here last October and persuaded the Iranians to open up its nuclear program to the UN's atomic energy watchdog.

Can you give us a sense of how the "man in the street" in Iran views developments in post-Hussein Iraqi? Are there expectations that a Shiite majority government will form closer ties with Iran? Has the image of the US improved at all in the general population? Or just among the young?

Surprisingly, all these issues are tied together. While some Iranian critics of the regime at first welcomed the American presence so close to their border - and some not-so-subtly hoped that the US would continue its "regime change" mission in Iran, too - the chaos that has ensued during the American occupation of Iraq has turned many of them off the idea.

A Shiite government will certainly look more kindly on Iran that Saddam's regime, but the real influence may be the reverse: Analysts say that Iraq's powerful Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is proving that clerics can be powerful, without holding an actual political position. That is a salutary lesson for Iran's leaders, who have insisted on running the show here for a quarter century, but have turned many Iranians off religion in the process, and set themselves up for blame for every problem in Iran.

Are Iranians looking forward to visiting the Shia holy sites in Iraqi, now that Iraqi is not run by the Baathist party?

According to some estimates, there are as many as 50,000 Iranian pilgrims in Iraq at any one time. The ones I have met in Karbala and Najaf have been enthusiastic, and pleased to be able to return so easily to the Iraqi shrines.

How would you characterize relations between expatriate Iranians and those living in Iran under clerical rule? Does the government allow for immigration as a kind of safety valve to minimize dissent?

More and more expatriate Iranians are making the trip back to Iran - some against the wishes of their families in the US; others with their blessing. Often they find that nothing here fits the image they had of the place in their minds, which is often colored by stories of the brutally violent first years of the revolution, and the strict enforcement of social rules for a decade and a half after that. Difficult as life in Iran continues for many, Iranians and their expat brethren are adept at getting around every type of rule, and often revel in the challenge of doing so, as a simple form of protest.
23 posted on 02/22/2004 10:08:03 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
Libya and Iran - A Great Nuclear Intelligence Failure?

February 22, 2004
Louis Charbonneau

VIENNA -- While Western intelligence policed the globe to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, a Pakistani company that specialised in enriching uranium offered its expertise to interested buyers in glossy brochures.

One pamphlet from Khan Research Laboratories (KLR) featured a picture of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, against a background of missiles, rocket launchers and the mountains where the Islamabad government conducted its 1998 nuclear tests.

"The main focus of our expertise/service is on the promotion of joint ventures for the manufacturing of advanced defence weapons/equipment," said a brochure, seen by Reuters.

Libya, Iran and North Korea knew where to shop for sensitive nuclear technology in a marketplace that stretched across Europe into Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but the U.N. nuclear watchdog and some Western intelligence agencies have said they were in the dark until recently.

"This was a massive intelligence failure," a non-aligned diplomat told Reuters. "Where was the intelligence?"

One source said Khan was not a figure on the arms trade-fair circuit and that his company's advertising "was circulated but not through legitimate channels".

But a Western diplomat recently told Reuters the United States "had its eyes on Khan for a long time" and also knew about a Malaysian facility that was building centrifuge parts based on Khan's blueprints for Libya's nuclear programme.

In early February, Khan admitted in a televised confession that he and other KRL scientists had leaked nuclear secrets. The International Atomic Energy Agency and Western diplomats said his top nuclear customers were Iran, Libya and North Korea.


Several diplomats and analysts said the Libyan and Iranian nuclear programmes highlighted the failure of governments either to gather proper intelligence, or if they did have intelligence, to give it to the IAEA.

"Remember that it wasn't the CIA or MI6 that uncovered the Iranian enrichment programme, it was the NCRI," said a diplomat close to the IAEA, referring to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of exiled opposition groups that Washington considers a terrorist organisation.

In August 2002, the NCRI said Iran was hiding a massive underground enrichment facility at Natanz, a facility Tehran eventually declared to the IAEA.

Khan and several nuclear "middlemen" arranged for the illicit sale of sensitive atomic technologies that slipped past supposedly strict national export controls to countries under embargo. Thanks to this, Libya was able to pursue an aggressive, covert nuclear weapons programme under the nose of the IAEA.

Diplomats said it was Khan who provided Libya with the centrifuge technology and weapons designs. They say he appears to have sold many of the same things to both Tripoli and Tehran.

Intelligence sources say Khan sold Pyongyang the same enrichment technology for North Korean missile technology, which prompted Washington to slap sanctions on the KRL.

While Tripoli never managed to build a weapon or even enrich uranium, an IAEA report released on Friday said Libya developed the know-how to make a small amount of plutonium, the ingredient used in the atom bomb the United States dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945.

The IAEA only learned about Libya's arms effort in December, when Tripoli said it was scrapping its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes and invited U.S., British and international experts to help it disarm.

The IAEA report said prior to Libya's disclosure "it had no actionable intelligence" to go on, despite suspicions raised by numerous analysts over the years.

"It is a disturbing sign that Libya was able to accumulate materials and technology without the IAEA or apparently U.S. intelligence being aware of these developments," Jon Wolfsthal, deputy director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Reuters.

"The United States and other countries should share more intelligence with the IAEA," said David Albright, former U.N. weapons inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).


Iran has admitted to concealing the full extent of its nuclear programme for decades, but it rejects U.S. charges it is secretly developing nuclear weapons and has promised full transparency in the future.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran the country purchased nuclear components from black-market suppliers. "It happens that some of those (dealers) were from some sub-continent countries," he said.

The IAEA is expected to release a report on its inspections in Iran in the coming week. Diplomats said it would detail Iran's continued failure to declare potentially weapons-related atomic equipment to the U.N. agency.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Khan was a key player but was "the tip of an iceberg" in the atomic "supermarket" for states wanting the bomb, a network he said spanned the globe.

Questions also remain about the possible involvement in governments in the black-market network.

The KRL logo sports the words: "The Government of Pakistan".

Khan has said he leaked weapons secrets without the knowledge of the Pakistani government. But diplomats who follow the IAEA find this hard to believe.

"Signing contracts with governments and international agencies? It's hard to believe Pakistan's government didn't know what he was up to," said one Western diplomat.;jsessionid=0T4YGCLAOXPECCRBAEOCFFA?type=reutersEdge&storyID=4409308
24 posted on 02/22/2004 10:15:43 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Reformist Look to Regroup for Presidential Poll

February 22, 2004
Agence France Presse
Peter Mackler

Divided, discredited and bracing for a hardline crackdown after their rout from parliament, beleaguered Iranian reformers are vowing to press on and regroup for next year's presidential election.

Pro-reform movements could take little comfort in Friday's legislative polls that looked set to produce a solid conservative majority and a voter turnout large enough to thwart hopes for an effective boycott.

They were also fearing renewed pressure from an unforgiving judiciary which already closed down two of their newspapers last week for publishing remarks critical of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But pro-democracy leaders were not ready to throw in the towel on their largely frustrated efforts to open up Iranian society since taking over the government with the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997.

"We think we will be quick to come back," said Mostafa Tajzadeh, a leading member of the main reformist group in the outgoing parliament, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF).

"We are going to restructure our party. We will have more exposure with the people," Tajzadeh told a news conference Saturday. "It is a good opportunity for us."

The reformers say they had no hope of holding onto the 290-seat parliament after their clerical regime's Guardians Council disqualified most of their candidates in Friday's contests.

But they see a more level playing field in the race for a successor to Khatami, who chalked up 77 percent of the vote in winning a second and final term that expires in June 2005.

"If the Guardians Council does not reject our candidate, we have a chance to win the presidential election," Tajzadeh said.

The dissident camp sees the poll as putting the conservatives in a bind. A free vote would put the presidency up for grabs; any move to disqualify reform candidates could produce an embarrassingly low turnout.

But if the reformers still feel they have some tactical cards to play while licking their wounds from the stinging parliamentary defeat, they have some hurdles to surmount before returning as a credible political force.

For one, they are badly split: the IIPF and its ally the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organisation boycotted the legislative polls while Khatami and his Association of Combattant Clerics chose to take part.

They are also expecting more heat from a conservative regime emboldened by Friday's voter turnout of about 50 percent, lower than the 67 percent who cast ballots in 2000 but higher than the forecast of boycott proponents.

"The higher the turnout the more the conservatives will be able to limit (the reformers') political margin of maneuver," said Rajab Ali Mazrouie, a member of the IIPF and outgoing legislator.

More fundamentally, the reformers will have to overcome growing apathy among a young electorate that has become disillusioned with the amiable but largely ineffectual Khatami and his government.

The 66-year-old president has been criticised for failing to push a range of initiatives, from reining in the power of the judiciary to abolishing torture, through the conservative clergy.

Iranians also reproach his administration for failing to devote enough attention to economic problems in the country plagued by high unemployment and inflation.

The political stalemate has produced declining voter turnout rates, with less than half the eligible 46.3 million voters taking part in local elections last year - 12 percent in Tehran.

But analysts said low turnouts favor the conservatives since it is usually younger, reform-minded Iranians who tend to stay away from the polls while the hardliners can usually count on their core support.

25 posted on 02/22/2004 10:16:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This just in from a student inside of Iran...

"There are rumors that the government has not yet counted Tehran's polls because the amount of turnout is so low.
That is what all people keep sayin to each other today."
26 posted on 02/22/2004 12:04:31 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Analysis: Why Iran's reformists lost
Sunday, February 22, 2004 Posted: 12:00 PM EST (1700 GMT)

Manage alerts | What is this?

TEHRAN, Iran -- Hardline conservatives opposed to reform are heading for a landslide victory in Iran's controversial parliamentary elections. CNN Correspondent Kasra Naji explains the background and suggests what may happen next.

Why did the reformists lose after two big victories in the last parliamentary elections?

They lost a good deal of credibility with the Iranian public because they failed to initiate many of the reforms they had promised. One could argue that in parliament their efforts to legislate reformist bills were blocked at every turn by the hardline Guardian Council. And there is plenty of evidence to back that argument.

But at the end of the day, they failed to deliver on important issues. And in some cases when many people expected them to stand up to the hardliners' excesses outside parliament, they proved feeble. I met a lot of people in the past few days who said to me that even if thousands of reformists had not been barred from standing in the elections, they still would not have voted for them.

With the conservatives now set to dominate parliament, where does it leave Iran's reform program?

The reformist camp here obviously has to do much soul searching. The inspiration for the reform movement is President Khatami. But his term of office runs out in about a year from now. The hardliners are already planning to replace him with their own man. If and when that happens, then the reform movement will be completely out in the cold in many ways.

What the reform movement might do then is anybody's guess at the moment. There is a lot of talk about organizing a civil disobedience campaign to force the hands of the hardliners. But for a civil disobedience movement led by the reformists to take shape they need the extensive support of the people which they do not have.

Is Mohammad Khatami now a lame-duck president?

The hardliners who will be in control of parliament after June onwards, when the new parliament is inaugurated, have said they will try their best to work smoothly with President Khatami's government . Their decision stems from the fact that by the time they find their feet in parliament, President Khatami's term of office will be near its end anyway. But I believe so long as he is at the helm, President Khatami's presence will continue to have a moderating effect on the hardliners. And he will continue to be a source of support to the reformists.

Will this mean Iran becomes more isolated from the rest of the world?

That is the concern of many both inside and outside Iran now that the hardliners have made a huge comeback. Many here fear the return to the days some 10 years ago and before, when Iranian regime was picking fights with many countries on a range of issues ... when Iran's human rights record was far worse that it is now ... and when there were political murders abroad that were alleged to have been carried out by the agents of the Iranian government.

But there are many observers here who now point out that the hardliners of today are more experienced in international relations, in diplomacy and in politics. These observers say that the hardliners have been showing signs that they want to be part of the international community of nations. Already there have been feelers sent out by the hardliners to the U.S. for resuming dialogue once they have the total control. These observers argue that the hardliners will now have no opposition to speak of, which will help them make decisions that the reformists were unable to make because of their precarious political position vis a vis the hardliners.

How will the victory affect Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West?

That is the question I have been trying to find an answer to -- so far unsuccessfully. For Iranians, their nuclear program is a source of pride. They say they have a nuclear program which is peaceful and not a nuclear weapons program. They say they reserve the right to pursue their program of peaceful use of nuclear energy. And also, they say they are willing to cooperate fully with the IAEA inspectors.

Now, the problem is the international community, particularly the U.S. and the Europeans, do not entirely trust Iranian pronouncements that they do not have a weapons program. And frankly, Iranian behavior over the past year or so, since the international attention has turned to Iran's nuclear ambitions, has fueled these suspicions.

Every now and then the IAEA finds a piece of equipment that the Iranians had not declared before. With the hardliners back in power, I do not suppose anything will change. But one thing is clear: the international community will almost certainly exert maximum pressure on Iran on this issue as it deals with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a regime which is not entirely friendly to the West.
27 posted on 02/22/2004 2:47:42 PM PST by freedom44
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To: freedom44
28 posted on 02/22/2004 11:02:22 PM PST by F14 Pilot
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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”

29 posted on 02/23/2004 12:02:33 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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