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

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

1 posted on 02/26/2004 12:02:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

2 posted on 02/26/2004 12:04:33 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


February 25, 2004 -- AS the June deadline for the transfer of power to an Iraqi transition government approaches, expect a rising tempo of political posturing on all sides.
Those who have failed to find a popular constituency are likely to paint a grim picture, with emphasis on lack of security, to seek a prolongation of direct rule by the U.S.-led Coalition.

Others, however, want the Americans and their allies to leave as fast as they can. These are individuals and parties that have been able to fill part of the gap left by the collapse of the Ba'athist regime. They worry that a longer American presence may spread ideas and establish rules that would prevent them from imposing their brands of politics on the newly liberated nation.

The noisiest of these are the so-called Islamists, some of whom have just had a verbal spat with L. Paul Bremer, the Coalition's "Pasha" in Baghdad. It all started with a couple of obscure mullahs demanding that Islam be declared the "foundation" of the future constitution. The demand was echoed by one or two members of the Governing Council, presumably for want of better things to do.

Bremer, who normally thinks twice before he makes a move, was provoked into a hasty reaction, asserting that he would not sign such a constitution.

The spat looks like a scene from the theater of the absurd: The mullahs who made the initial noises represent no one except their own images in a mirror. Bremer, for his part, was unwise to brandish a veto that belongs to the people of Iraq.

Do the Iraqis want an Islamist regime?

At least five major public opinion polls conducted since the liberation show that support for such a regime hovers around 3 to 4 percent. In one poll, the question of whether an Iranian-style Islamic republic would be suitable for Iraq drew a positive response from only 1 percent of the respondents.

None of Iraq's dozen or so political parties - from the atheist leftists to religious Shi'ites - demands the creation of an Islamic state. Nor can one find a single prominent Iraqi intellectual who would wish to establish a religious regime.

Even the Shi'ite mullahs, starting with their primus inter pares, the Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani, are not making such a demand. Anyone with some knowledge of Iraqi Shi'ism would know that the last thing that Iraq's Shi'ites want is a regime like that of the Khomeinists in Iran - which, after a quarter of a century of terror and war, is now in deep, possibly terminal, crisis.

This rejection of the Khomeinist model is based on the Shi'ite belief that creating "a perfect state" is possible only under the Hidden Imam, a Messiah-like figure who is supposed to return to prepare mankind for the end of the world. In the absence of the Hidden Imam, all governments are bound to be imperfect, and open to criticism. Mixing religion with politics could sully the former and derail the latter.

In 1979, one of Sistani's foremost masters, the late Grand Ayatollah Abol-Qassem Mussawi Khoi, put it like this: "An Islamic state cannot be imposed by fiat; it can come into being only as the natural consequence of the Divine Will as expressed in the coming of the Mahdi [i.e. the Hidden Imam]."

Like the overwhelming majority of their co-religionists in Iran and elsewhere, Iraqi Shi'ites regard Khomeinism as an aberration, an innovation (bed'a) that violates the basic tenets of the duodecimal imamist faith.

Iraqi Shi'ites' opposition to a religious state, however, is not solely doctrinal. It is also dictated by practical politics.

Though Shi'ites account for some 60 percent of the Iraqis, they cannot be regarded as a monolithic bloc even on issues of faith. Like other Shi'ites, they are divided into dozens of ways (tariqats) and countless forms of allegiance (taqlid). As the Iranian experience has illustrated, it is impossible for Shi'ites to agree on a single political reading of Islam.

The Iraqi situation is more complex still, because 40 percent of the country's population are not Shi'ites and have no reason to accept any Shi'ite political reading of Islam. Any attempt at imposing an Iraqi version of Khomeinism would lead to civil war and the dismemberment of the country.

As the sole organizing principle of political life, religion is unworkable outside small communities that are ethnically and culturally uniform - which Iraq is not.

All this does not mean that Islam should be scripted out of the future Iraqi constitution. Some 95 percent of Iraqis, including those who describe themselves as "humanists," acknowledge Islam as a key element in their existential reality. Thus there is no harm in reflecting that fact in the new constitution, much like what the Afghans have done in theirs.

Even the thorny issue of the sharia (religious law) need not cause friction. No modern society can be policed with the sharia as its only legal framework. In not a single Muslim country (including Iran, Sudan and Saudi Arabia) is the sharia the only law.

Indeed, it cannot be, because all Muslim states are signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and hundreds of international treaties that are not of "Islamic" origin. (That most violate or ignore the declaration and the treaties in question is due to these governments' despotic nature, not their love of Islamic jurisprudence.)

There is no reason why the sharia should not be mentioned as one of the sources of law in Iraq. In practical terms, this means that where the sharia is in conformity with reason, modern ethics and international agreements, it will be applied. Where it is not, it will be set aside.

The only effective way to settle these matters is through free and fair elections. Nowhere has an Islamist party advocating the sharia come to power through the ballot box.

Even the most moderate Islamist parties, that (like the Justice and Development Party in Turkey) deny any religious identity, have never won a majority of votes anywhere in the Muslim world. (In Turkey's 2002 election, the Justice and Development Party collected almost 35 percent of the votes and formed the government. But let us not forget that 65 percent of the electorate voted against it.)

In Malaysia, the Islamists have polled 11 to 13 percent in local and general elections in the past four decades. In Jordan and Kuwait, the only Arab countries where elections of acceptable standards are held, the Islamists' share of the vote has varied from 15 to 22 percent.

Iraq needs free and fair elections to choose a transitional government that would write a draft constitution for submission to a referendum. It may be difficult to hold elections by the end of June, the deadline set by Washington. But there is no reason a new deadline can't be set.

Just as the light of day turns Nosferatu into dust, the most effective way of killing the Islamist "un-dead" is free elections.

Last year, the people of Iraq clamored for liberation. This year they are demanding elections, not to risk their newly won freedom but to make sure it is safe against all would-be despots, Ba'athist or Islamist.

3 posted on 02/26/2004 12:06:30 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Soft European line on Iran undermining US stance

Daily Times

VIENNA: European successes in winning Iranian cooperation on nuclear issues are making it difficult for the United States to bring Iran before the UN Security Council as a non-proliferation violator, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is to meet at its headquarters in Vienna on March 8 to consider the question of Iran, which the United States charges is hiding a program to develop atomic weapons. US undersecretary of state for non-proliferation issues John Bolton had said earlier this month: “There’s no doubt that Iran continues a nuclear program.”

“There is no doubt we think that the case of Iran should be referred in the (United Nations) Security Council,” Bolton said.

US President George W Bush has labeled Iran part of an “axis of evil” - states trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.

But the United States failed at an IAEA board of governors meeting in November to get the board’s other 34 member states to follow it in hauling Iran up before the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany, which advocate a policy of constructive engagement with Tehran, had convinced Iran just a month before, in an agreement reached in Tehran on October 21, to come clean on its nuclear program.

The IAEA board, which includes non-aligned states favorable to Iran, decided that Iran should be given a chance, even though the board condemned the Islamic Republic for nearly two decades of covert nuclear activities.

But the IAEA said in a report Tuesday ahead of the March board meeting that Iran had failed since October to report possibly weapons-related atomic activities, despite promising full disclosure.

The IAEA said Iran had not told the agency it had designs for sophisticated “P-2” centrifuges for enriching uranium nor that it had produced polonium-210, an element which could be used as a “neutron initiator (to start the chain reaction) in some designs of nuclear weapons.” But diplomats said this would not be enough for the United States to win backing for the sanctions it seeks, since European nations still want to give Iran a chance to cooperate.

The report included an important gesture by Iran. It said Iran had, only hours before the report was issued, promised to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment, including “the assembly and testing of centrifuges.”

Iran had previously suspended uranium enrichment, but was still making centrifuges. A senior official close to the IAEA said this wider suspension “only came as a result of very intensive discussions” by European countries in Brussels with Iranian representatives.

“It’s a beginning of a mainstreaming of Iran with Europe,” the official said. “This will open the door to a dialogue with the Europeans,” he said, adding that this could involve a “trade agreement” or even “relaxation of sanctions on some technology controls.”

Another diplomat said the report prepared for the March 8 meeting, unlike a report issued before the November meeting, does not accuse Iran of breaching safeguards agreements from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“It’s a progress report,” the diplomat said, noting that the IAEA seems to want to avoid the controversy that swirled in November when the United States claimed the report justified sending Iran to the Security Council.

The diplomat said IAEA member states “have finally gotten what they wanted, the 100 percent suspension of uranium enrichment and related activities.”

He said it would be unfortunate if European successes in getting the Iranians to cooperate “disturbed other plans,” a clear reference to the Americans. —AFP
5 posted on 02/26/2004 12:08:24 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

TEHRAN 25 Feb. (IPS)

Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroobi, the Speaker of the outgoing Majles announced Wednesday his resignation from the race, telling journalists that he had run for the next Parliament despite the fact that he knew he would not succeed.

Mr. Karroobi was the thirtieth first candidate out of the 30 seats allocated to Tehran and odds were that he could be defeated in the second balloting.

His saga was a dramatic remake of the position former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani faced four years ago when he run for a seat from Tehran, expecting to get the first seat and become the Speaker, but the voters dealt him a humiliating blow by placing him in a balloting situation.

The Council of the Guardians did its best to "push" him among the 30 candidates of the Capital having received enough votes to go to the House, but observers opposed it and Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani decided not to continue, his image badly tarnished and prestige seriously affected.

In a brief statement, Mr. Karroobi, who is one of the leaders of the pro-reform Association of Combatant Clergymen (ACC) to which also belongs the lamed President Mohammad Khatami said he did not want to run, but was persuaded against by both friends and foes, including Mr. Khatami.

Explaining Mr. Karroobi’s dramatic decision, Mr. Alireza Noorizadeh, an independent Iranian journalist said he (Mr. Karroobi) had "no other choice but to leave the race, being certain that even if elected in the second round, he would have to let his seat to (Mr. Qolamali) Haddad Adel", Tehran’s first candidate by the number of votes.

Like other Iranian political analysts, Mr. Noorizadeh also gave the outgoing Majles’ Speaker, dubbed by Iranians "the chameleon" as a "great Looser" of the 20 February parliamentary elections, observing that "his time as an intermediary and go-between" among the ruling conservatives and the powerless and inefficient reformists "was finished longtime ago".

"In a way, he is more a victim of Khatami than Khameneh’i", he said, adding that besides the President, the leader also had requested Mr. Karroobi to run in the race "in order to give the elections a semblance of normality".

In fact, following the mass disqualification of reformist candidates by the Council of the Guardians, including more than 100 lawmakers, among them Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the first vice-Speaker and leader of Islamic Iran Participation Front and some other pro-reform groups and organizations that controlled the sixth Majles decided to get out of the race, while, on insistence from both the President and the leader, other parties, like the ACC, forming the Second Khordad Coalition, Mr. Khatami’s power base decided to take part in the elections, thus breaking up the whole of the Coalition.

"The outcome of the elections, which was known before the voting, not only finished off the reformist movement, but also the ACC", Mr. Noorizadeh said.

However, according to the latest figures released by the Interior Ministry, of the 1.965.666 votes counted in Tehran and suburbs that has more than 6 millions eligible voters, Mr. Haddad Adel, the leader of the conservative minority at the outgoing Majles and the husband of Mr. Khameneh’i younger daughter received only 871.821 votes, followed by the former Labour Minister Ahmad Tavakkoli, getting762.888 votes.

The conservatives, among them three women in Nafiseh Fayyaz Bakhsh, Laleh Eftekhari and Fatemeh Alia took 27 out of Tehran’s 30 seats, leaving 3 places to be filled in the second round of elections, to be held in two weeks time.


6 posted on 02/26/2004 12:09:13 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Israel Seizes Millions in Raids on Arab Banks

February 26, 2004
Independent UK
Eric Silver in Jerusalem

Israeli troops and secret service agents raided four Arab banks yesterday and seized $30m (£16m) in cash that they claimed had been sent by Iran, Syria and Lebanese Hizbollah militants to fund Palestinian fighters.

The goal of this unprecedented operation in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, a government spokesman said, was "to impede the terrorist organisations' activities and reduce their financial capabilities". He said there was a direct link between the channelling of funds and the number of attacks.

The raid was directed by the Shin Bet security service, which checked hundreds of accounts with the help of bank computer staff arrested the night before. Agents took the money from the vaults, corresponding to the sums they identified in the accounts. They said the deposits belonged to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and what the Israelis termed "senior terrorists and their families who received funds designated for financing terrorism". Officials said the raiders were also seeking evidence that Yasser Arafat was involved in funding attacks.

Earlier this week, Palestinian officials had confirmed that Hizbollah had helped fund two bus bombings in Jerusalem, which killed 19 Israelis. A militia affiliated to Mr Arafat's Al Fatah acknowledged responsibility for both explosions.

Israel said it will donate the confiscated money to Palestinian humanitarian relief projects.
7 posted on 02/26/2004 12:10:00 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
US State Dept Calls Oil Cos' Iran Investments 'A Mistake'

February 25, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Oil companies investing in Iran are making a mistake, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday. "We just don't think it's wise to be investing in Iran's petroleum sector at this point when Iranian behavior has still not changed in so many areas," department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Iran's National Iranian Oil Co. has signed a $2 billion deal with France's Total (TOT) and Malaysia's state oil giant Petronas (5681.KU) to form Pars LNG, a liquefied natural gas joint-venture, state-owned radio reported in Tehran Wednesday.

The deal was the second in a week following Iran's signing last week for the $3 billion development of the massive Azadegan onshore oil field with a Japanese consortium in the face of disapproval by the U.S., which says Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Boucher said the government would look at the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to see whether it can take action against companies investing in Iran.

"We do not encourage investment in Iran's petroleum sector," Boucher said. "We have laws that affect our attitudes toward these investments. And we will have to look at those laws appropriately."
8 posted on 02/26/2004 12:10:43 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Lashed to Death in Iranian Jail

February 25, 2004
CBC News

VANCOUVER -- There's been a tragic turn of events for the family of three Iranian sisters who launched a lawsuit against the federal government because of alleged bungling by Canada Immigration officials.

The women, who now live in North Vancouver, claimed they had been beaten with chains in an Iranian prison while they waited for Canadian visas that had already been granted.

Once they arrived in Canada, the three had asked the immigration minister to grant a "visa to safety" for their brother, who was sentenced to a lashing.

But Immigration Canada rejected pleas for the young man's release. And in a letter to the women's lawyer, Richard Kurland, a federal official said the brother knew the laws of his country when he broke them.

Kurland says the brother was beaten last week, with tragic consequences.

"Mr. Mofidi died at 1 a.m. Tehran time yesterday (Tuesday)," he says. "He had been released after being lashed by Tehran prison officials on Thursday."

The official cause of Mofidi's death was a heart attack.

Kurland is requesting a formal investigation by the Iranian government and by the UN for allowing Mofidi's lashing when he was already ill with a lung infection.
9 posted on 02/26/2004 12:14:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

10 posted on 02/26/2004 12:26:50 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
C.I.A. Says Iran Elections Portend New Era of Repression

NY Times ^ | 25 Feb 04 | DOUGLAS JEHL
Posted on 02/25/2004 11:45:22 PM PST by F14 Pilot
11 posted on 02/26/2004 12:39:43 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Showdown on Iran

February 26, 2004
The Washington Times

On March 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors will discuss Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The meeting will be an important test of the Bush administration's willingness to challenge efforts by Europe and the IAEA bureaucracy to delay what should be inevitable: referring the issue to the U.N. Security Council.

Since June, when the IAEA reported that Iran has been secretly working to develop nuclear weapons, Washington has worked to intensify the pressure on Tehran to come clean. In September, the IAEA announced it had set an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to disprove the mounting body of evidence that it was developing nuclear weapons. Right before the deadline, Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for European promises to provide peaceful nuclear technology. Then, on Nov. 10, IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei issued a 30-page report documenting Iran's deceptions about its nuclear program dating back to the 1980s. But Mr. ElBaradei's report concluded that "no evidence" of an Iranian nuclear weapons program had been found.

Two days later, the State Department's undersecretary for arms control, John Bolton, said that this conclusion "is simply impossible to believe ... In what can only be an attempt to build a capacity to develop nuclear materials for nuclear weapons, Iran has enriched uranium with both centrifuges and lasers, and produced and reprocessed plutonium." The United States, he added, "believes that the massive and covert Iranian capabilities make sense only as part of a nuclear weapons program." In early December, Mr. Bolton said that Iran has "deliberately and repeatedly lied to the IAEA" about its nuclear weapons programs.

Since then, evidence of Iranian cheating has mounted. Last fall, Iran reached an agreement with Britain, France and Germany to suspend its uranium-processing and enrichment activities. Unfortunately, the world was jolted back to reality last month, when Iran brazenly announced it was building centrifuges. Then, in just the latest in a long series of new revelations, IAEA inspectors announced that they found traces of polonium, a radioactive substance which can help trigger a nuclear chain reaction — another item which Iran failed to declare. The IAEA's findings are "very incriminating," said Robert Einhorn, a Clinton administration anti-proliferation specialist.

Secretary of State Colin Powell last week made a speech pointing to the sharp contrast between Libya's cooperation on dismantling its weapons of mass destruction and Iran's failure to be forthcoming with the IAEA. Yet on Monday, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher suggested that Iran had not lied and that the information it had provided was "more or less correct" but "not complete."

Mr. Boucher is wrong to suggest that Iran is simply guilty of providing incomplete information. The problem, as Mr. Bolton has pointed out, is a systematic campaign of lies by Iran. It's time for the issue to be referred to the Security Council for further action.
17 posted on 02/26/2004 9:42:08 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
No Trade Off with Iran over Human Rights, says UK

February 26, 2004
The Peninsula

MANAMA -- A senior British official voiced disappointment yesterday with Iran’s disputed elections and said the European Union would not sacrifice democracy and human rights for better trade ties with Tehran.

Islamic conservatives gained an easy victory in last Friday’s parliamentary polls, sweeping aside reformist rivals and extending their grip on power. Some 2,500 mainly reformist candidates were excluded from the vote.

“We felt great disappointment that so many candidates were excluded. This was not the sort of development we wished to see in Iran,” said Foreign Office Minister Baroness Symons.

“When there’s a move backward it is worrisome. We have said all this to Iranian diplomats in London,” she told reporters in Bahrain.

European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday, also criticised the Iranian elections as a setback after years of progress towards political freedom in Iran.
18 posted on 02/26/2004 9:43:34 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003

February 25, 2004
The U.S. Department of States
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The Islamic Republic of Iran [note 1] is a constitutional, theocratic republic in which Shi'a Muslim clergy dominate the key power structures. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, dominates a tri-cameral division of power among legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Khamene'i directly controls the armed forces and exercises indirect control over the internal security forces, the judiciary, and other key institutions. The executive branch was headed by President Mohammad Khatami, who won a second 4-year term in June 2001, with 77 percent of the popular vote in a multiparty election. The legislative branch featured a popularly elected 290-seat Islamic Consultative Assembly, Majlis, which develops and passes legislation. Reformist and moderate candidates won a landslide victory for 4-year terms in the 2000 Majlis election, gaining a clear majority of that body. However, the 12-member Guardian Council, which reviews all legislation passed by the Majlis for adherence to Islamic and constitutional principles, blocked much of the reform legislation. The 34-member Expediency Council is empowered to resolve legislative impasses between the Guardian Council and the Majlis. The Constitution provides that "the judiciary is an independent power"; however, the judicial branch is widely perceived as heavily biased against pro-Khatami reformist forces.

Several agencies share responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Ministry of Interior, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, a military force established after the revolution. Paramilitary volunteer forces known as Basijis, and various gangs of men known as the Ansar-e Hezbollah (Helpers of the Party of God), or more simply "plain clothes," acted as vigilantes aligned with extreme conservative members of the leadership. Civilian authorities did not fully maintain effective control of the security forces and there were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of government authority. The regular and the paramilitary security forces both committed numerous, serious human rights abuses.

The mixed economy depends on oil and gas for 80 percent of its export earnings. The population was approximately 68 million. All large-scale industry is publicly owned and administered by the State. Large para-statal charitable foundations called bonyads, most with strong connections to the clerical regime, controlled as much as a third of the country's economy and exercised considerable influence. The Government heavily subsidized basic foodstuffs and energy costs. Government mismanagement and corruption negatively affected economic performance. The official unemployment rate was approximately 16 percent, although other estimates were higher. Estimated inflation was 17 percent with economic growth at 6 percent during the year.

The Government's poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. The right of citizens to change their government was restricted significantly. Continuing serious abuses included: summary executions; disappearances; torture and other degrading treatment, reportedly including severe punishments such as beheading and flogging; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of habeas corpus or access to counsel and prolonged and incommunicado detention. Citizens often did not receive due process or fair trials. The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights, and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and religion.

An intense political struggle continued during the year between a broad popular movement favoring greater liberalization in government policies, particularly in the area of human rights, and certain hard-line elements in the Government and society, which viewed such reforms as a threat to the survival of the Islamic Republic. In many cases, this struggle was played out within the Government itself, with reformists and hard-liners squaring off in divisive internal debates. As in the past, reformist members of parliament were harassed, prosecuted, and threatened with jail for statements made under parliamentary immunity.

The Government restricted the work of human rights groups; however, it permitted visits during the year by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. Violence and legal and societal discrimination against women were problems. The Government restricted the work of human rights groups. The Government discriminated against minorities and severely restricted workers' rights, including freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively. Child labor persisted. Vigilante groups, with strong ties to certain members of the Government, enforced their interpretation of appropriate social behavior through intimidation and violence. There were reports of trafficking in persons.

In October, lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in advancing human rights both in the country and internationally.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

There were reports of political killings. The Government was responsible for numerous killings during the year, including executions following trials in which there was a lack of due process. Government affiliated vigilante groups also were responsible for extrajudicial killings.

The law criminalized dissent and applied the death penalty to offenses such as "attempts against the security of the State, outrage against high-ranking officials, and insults against the memory of Imam Khomeini and against the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic." Citizens continued to be tried and sentenced to death in the absence of sufficient procedural safeguards.

Exiles and human rights monitors alleged that many of those supposedly executed for criminal offenses, such as narcotics trafficking, actually were political dissidents. Supporters of outlawed political groups, or in the case of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a terrorist organization, were believed to constitute a large number of those executed each year.

In July, an Iranian-Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, died in custody after being arrested for taking photographs at Evin prison in Tehran. After initially claiming that she had died as a result of a stroke, the Government subsequently admitted that she died as a result of a blow to the head and charged individuals involved in her detention. The Government also denied Canada's request, based on her son's statement, that Kazemi's remains be sent to Canada for further autopsy and burial. The Government claimed to be following the wishes of her mother that she be buried in the country, but the mother later said that she was coerced into making the request.

Two political activists associated with the outlawed Komala party, Sassan al-Kanaan and Mohammad Golabi, were executed in February and March. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI), an opposition party, alleged that the Government executed party member Jalil Zewal in December, after 9 years in prison during which he was reportedly subjected to torture. KDPI member Ramin Sharifi was also executed in December after his arrest in July. Mohammad Golabi was reportedly tortured while in detention. Sassan al-Kanaan's execution was reportedly carried out while his mother was in Tehran meeting on his behalf with the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. KPI reports that hard-line vigilante groups killed at least seven other Kurdish civilians were killed during the year.

The 1998 murders of prominent political activists Darioush and Parvaneh Forouhar, writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Pouyandeh, and the disappearance of political activist Pirouz Davani continued to cause controversy about what is perceived to be the Government's cover-up of involvement by high-level officials. Prominent investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, who was arrested in 2000 and sentenced to 6 years in prison for his reporting on the case, remained in prison (see Sections 1.d. and 1.e.). In 2001, the Special Representative for Iran of the Commission on Human Rights (UNSR) also reported claims that there were more than 80 killings or disappearances over a 10-year period as part of a wider campaign to silence dissent. Members of religious minority groups, including the Baha'is, evangelical Christians, and Sunni clerics were killed in recent years, allegedly by government agents or directly at the hands of authorities.

b. Disappearance

Little reliable information was available regarding the number of disappearances during the year.

The Government announced that approximately 4,000 persons--both protesters and vigilantes--were arrested in connection with pro-reform protests in June and stated that roughly 2,000 remained in jail in mid-July. There were no reliable statistics to indicate how many protestors were still being held at year's end.

According to Baha'i sources, since 1979 15 Baha'i have disappeared and are presumed dead. The KDPI noted the continued detention of six Iranian Kurds arrested in 1996 with no subsequent word on their whereabouts. The Families of Iranian Jewish Prisoners (FIJP) have heard anecdotal stories that some of 12 Jewish citizens, who disappeared while attempting to escape from the country in the 1990s, were being held in prison (see Section 2.c.).

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution forbids the use of torture; however, there were numerous credible reports that security forces and prison personnel continued to torture detainees and prisoners. Some prison facilities, including Tehran's Evin prison, were notorious for the cruel and prolonged acts of torture inflicted upon political opponents of the Government. Common methods included suspension for long periods in contorted positions, burning with cigarettes, sleep deprivation, and most frequently, severe and repeated beatings with cables or other instruments on the back and on the soles of the feet. Prisoners also reported beatings about the ears, inducing partial or complete deafness, and punching in the eyes, leading to partial or complete blindness.

In August, the Council of Guardians rejected a bill on accession to the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Majlis amended the bill in late December, reportedly addressing Council of Guardians concerns over the monetary costs of joining the convention. The Council of Guardians also rejected in mid-2002 a bill passed by the Majlis to end torture and forced confessions.

In July 2002, in an effort to combat "un-Islamic behavior" and social corruption among the young, the Government announced the formation of a new "morality force." The force was meant to enforce the Islamic Republic's strict rules of moral behavior. Press reports indicated that members of this force chased and beat persons in the streets for offenses such as listening to music, or in the case of women, wearing makeup or clothing that was not modest enough (see Section 1.f.). While not uniformly enforced, in November, 7 women in Shiraz were reportedly sentenced to 50 lashes for disrespectful behavior during the month of Ramadan.

In March, activist Siamak Pourzand was re-imprisoned after his provisional release in November 2002. After his arrest in 2001, Siamak Pourzand was tried in March 2002 behind closed doors and sentenced to 11 years in prison for "undermining state security through his links with monarchists and counter-revolutionaries." Press reports said that he had confessed to his crimes at his trial, but his wife claimed that the confession was extracted under duress. Pourzand suffered severe health problems while held incommunicado, reportedly including a heart attack, and was allegedly denied proper medical treatment. At year's end, he remained in jail.

In April, Former Deputy Prime Minister and longtime political dissident, Abbas Amir-Entezam was re-imprisoned, after his release in 2002 for medical reasons. Amir-Entezam was reportedly incarcerated for calling for a referendum on whether the country should remain under clerical rule during a speech at Tehran University. He was reportedly a frequent victim of torture in prison and has had numerous medical problems as a result, including a ruptured eardrum due to repeated beatings, kidney failure resulting from denial of access to toilet facilities, and an untreated prostate condition. He reported having been taken on numerous occasions before a firing squad (see Section 1.e.).

In July, an Iranian-Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, died in custody as a result of a blow to the head (see Section 1.a.).

In November, four men were reportedly sentenced to death by stoning for involvement in kidnapping and rape. In December 2002, the Government officially suspended the practices of amputation and lapidation or stoning--a form of capital punishment for adultery and other crimes, although the law has not been rescinded.

During the year, Amnesty International (AI) reported at least six cases of amputation.

Prison conditions in the country were poor. Some prisoners were held in solitary confinement or denied adequate food or medical care to force confessions. After its February visit, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions reported that "for the first time since its establishment, [the Working Group] has been confronted with a strategy of widespread use of solitary confinement for its own sake and not for traditional disciplinary purposes." The Working Group described Sector 209 of Evin Prison as a "prison within a prison," designed for the "systematic, large-scale use of absolute solitary confinement, frequently for long periods."

The 2001 report by the UNSR noted a significant increase in the prison population and reports of overcrowding and unrest. In March, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Penal Reform International (PRI) reported that 180,000 prisoners occupied facilities constructed to hold a maximum of 65,000 persons. In July, the head of the National Prisons Organization (NPO) assessed the number of prisoners at 156,000.

The UNSR reported that much of the prisoner abuse occurred in unofficial detention centers run by the secret service and military. The UNSR further reported that the unofficial detention centers were to be brought under the control of the NNPO during 2001; however, November press reports indicated that a number of unofficial detention centers continued to operate outside NPO control. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention raised this issue with the country's Article 90 Parliamentary Commission, generating a Commission inquiry that reportedly confirmed the existence of numerous unofficial prisons.

In March, PRI announced a cooperative initiative with authorities to improve prison conditions through workshops and training of judges and prison administrators. The report of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that the judicial authorities expressed the need for prison reform, but observed that implementation had been limited.

The Government generally has not granted access to human rights monitors other than the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); however, it permitted visits to imprisoned dissidents by U.N. human rights officials during the year (see Section 4). U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention officials visited Evin prison in Tehran--including sector 209, in which many political prisoners were believed held--as well as Esfahan and Shiraz prisons, the Shiraz military prison, and police stations in each city. The Working Group interviewed approximately 140 "ordinary" prisoners plus 14 out of a requested 45 inmates described as political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. The Working Group described the authorities' cooperation as "on the whole positive," although it noted problems with fulfillment of follow-up requests generated by the visit and disappointment over arrests carried out after the Group's departure. Following his November visit to the country, the UNSR for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression noted that his delegation met with almost 40 dissidents, both in and out of prison.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, these practices remained common. There is reportedly no legal time limit for incommunicado detention, nor any judicial means to determine the legality of detention. In the period immediately following arrest, many detainees were held incommunicado and denied access to lawyers and family members. Suspects may be held for questioning in jails or in local Revolutionary Guard offices.

The security forces often did not inform family members of a prisoner's welfare and location. Authorities often denied visits by family members and legal counsel. In addition, families of executed prisoners did not always receive notification of the prisoners' deaths. Those who did receive such information reportedly were forced on occasion to pay the Government to retrieve the body of their relative.

In January, the Government released Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, amid reports of health problems after 5 years of house arrest. Montazeri was formerly the designated successor of the late Spiritual Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, who became an outspoken critic of the Supreme Leader (see Section 2.a.). In recent years, the Government has used the practice of house arrest to restrict the movements and ability to communicate of senior Shi'a religious leaders whose views regarding political and governance issues were at variance with the ruling orthodoxy.

In July, the press reported that Iranian-American academic Dariush Zahedi was detained during a private visit to the country and reportedly held in solitary confinement in Evin prison. Parliament officials noted that Zahedi was held on suspicion of espionage but, after a 40-day investigation, was cleared by the Ministry of Intelligence. However, Zahedi remained in detention after the case was transferred to the judiciary, reportedly at the intervention of Tehran's chief prosecutor. Zahedi was released on $250,000 (approximately 2 million rials) bail in November and, though technically free to leave the country, is still subject to criminal prosecution.

In November, security agents briefly arrested two sons of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the dissident cleric released from house arrest in January (see Section 1.d.). The arrests were reportedly in response to the sons' attempts to refurbish a building purchased by the family for use as a teaching facility. The Qom mosque and Koranic school at which Montazeri formerly taught has remained closed since 1997, when comments by the cleric questioning the authority of the Supreme Leader sparked attacks on the school and his home by Ansar-e Hezbollah mobs.

In November, student activist Ahmed Batebi met with the UNSR for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, while on medical leave from prison where he is serving a 15-year sentence for participating in the 1999 student demonstrations. He was re-arrested shortly afterward and at year's end, he was reportedly being held in Evin prison.

In July 2002, the Government permanently dissolved the Freedom Movement, the country's oldest opposition party, and sentenced over 30 of its members to jail terms ranging from 4 months to 10 years on charges of trying to overthrow the Islamic system. Other members were barred from political activity for up to 10 years, and ordered to pay fines up to more than $6,000 (approximately 48,000 rials).

Numerous publishers, editors, and journalists were either detained, jailed, and fined, or were prohibited from publishing their writings during the year (see Section 2.a.).

Adherents of the Baha'i faith continued to face arbitrary arrest and detention. According to Baha'i sources, four Baha'is remained in prison for practicing their faith at year's end, one facing a life sentence, two facing sentences of 15 years, and the fourth a 4-year sentence. A small number of Baha'is were and have been in detention at any given time. Sources claimed that such arrests were carried out to "terrorize" the community and to disrupt the lives of its members. Others were arrested, charged, and then quickly released. However, the charges against them often were not dropped, generating continued apprehension (see section 2.c.).

During the year, the Government continued to exchange with Iraq prisoners of war (POWs) and the remains of deceased fighters from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. In March, the Government agreed to release over 900 remaining Iraqi POWs in exchange for 349 Iranian POWs.

The Government did not use forced exile, and no information was available regarding whether the law prohibits forced exile; however, the Government used internal exile as a punishment. Many dissidents and ethnic and religious minorities left and continue to leave the country due to a perception of threat from the Government.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides that the judiciary is "an independent power"; however, in practice the court system was subject to government and religious influence. It served as the principal vehicle of the Government to restrict freedom and reform in the society. U.N. representatives, including the UNSR, and the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and independent human rights organizations noted the absence of procedural safeguards in criminal trials.

There are several different court systems. The two most active are the traditional courts, which adjudicate civil and criminal offenses, and the Islamic Revolutionary Courts. The latter try offenses viewed as potentially threatening to the Islamic Republic, including threats to internal or external security, narcotics and economic crimes, and official corruption. A special clerical court examines alleged transgressions within the clerical establishment, and a military court investigates crimes committed in connection with military or security duties by members of the army, police, and the Revolutionary Guards. A press court hears complaints against publishers, editors, and writers in the media. The Supreme Court has limited review authority.

After the revolution, the judicial system was revised to conform to an Islamic canon based on the Koran, Sunna, and other Islamic sources. Article 157 provides that the Head of the Judiciary, currently Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, shall be a cleric chosen by the Supreme Leader. The head of the Supreme Court and Prosecutor General also must be clerics. Women were barred from serving as judges.

Many aspects of the pre-revolutionary judicial system survived in the civil and criminal courts. For example, defendants have the right to a public trial, may choose their own lawyer, and have the right of appeal. Panels of judges adjudicate trials. There is no jury system in the civil and criminal courts. If post-revolutionary statutes did not address a situation, the Government advised judges to give precedence to their own knowledge and interpretation of Islamic law.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted in its report failures of due process in the court system, caused by the absence of a "culture of counsel" and the concentration of authority in the hands of a judge who prosecutes, investigates, and decides cases. The Working Group called for active involvement of counsel in cases, from the custody and investigation phase through the trial and appeals phases. The Working Group welcomed the 2002 reinstatement of prosecution services, after a 7-year suspension, but noted that the reforms have thus far only been applied in three jurisdictions.

Trials in the Revolutionary Courts, in which crimes against national security and other principal offenses are heard, were notorious for their disregard of international standards of fairness. Revolutionary Court judges acted as both prosecutor and judge in the same case, and judges were chosen in part based on their ideological commitment to the system. Pretrial detention often was prolonged and defendants lacked access to attorneys. Indictments often lacked clarity and included undefined offenses such as "anti-revolutionary behavior," "moral corruption," and "siding with global arrogance." Defendants did not have the right to confront their accusers. Secret or summary trials of 5 minutes duration occurred. Others were show trials that were intended merely to highlight a coerced public confession.

The legitimacy of the Special Clerical Court (SCC) system continued to be a subject of debate. The clerical courts, which investigate offenses and crimes committed by clerics, and which are overseen directly by the Supreme Leader, were not provided for in the Constitution, and operated outside the domain of the judiciary. In particular, critics alleged that the clerical courts were used to prosecute clerics for expressing controversial ideas and for participating in activities outside the sphere of religion, such as journalism. The recommendations of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention included a call to abolish both the Special Clerical Courts and the Revolutionary Courts, which were described as "responsible for many of the cases of arbitrary detention for crimes of opinion."

No accurate estimates were available regarding the number of citizens imprisoned for their political beliefs. In November, the UNSR for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Expression and Opinion estimated the number to be in the hundreds. The Government has arrested, convicted, and sentenced persons on questionable criminal charges, including drug trafficking, when their actual "offenses" were political. The Government has charged members of religious minorities with crimes such as "confronting the regime" and apostasy, and conducted trials in these cases in the same manner as threats to national security.

In March 2002, after a trial behind closed doors but with his lawyer present, Nasser Zarafshan, the attorney representing the families of the victims of the 1998 extrajudicial killings of dissidents by intelligence ministry officials, was sentenced to 5 years in prison and 70 lashes. He was charged with leaking confidential information pertaining to the trial. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that he was also charged with "having weapons and alcohol at his law firm." Zarafshan was originally arrested in 2000 but released after a month pending trial. An appeals court upheld his conviction in July 2002. In November, the Supreme Court reportedly dismissed his appeal (see Section 1.a.).

Several other human rights lawyers were also reportedly abused, among them Mohammad Dadkhah, who participated in the defense of members of the Iran Freedom Movement and is a founding member of the Iranian Center for Protection of Human Rights, and Abdol Fattah Soltani, who was reportedly charged for raising accusations of torture during the 2002 defense of a number of political prisoners. In 2002, Dadkhah was sentenced to 5 months in jail and banned from practicing law for 10 years; Soltani was sentenced to 4 months in prison and barred from practicing law for 5 years. Both men reportedly began their jail terms in January. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention included among its recommendations the need for guaranteeing the immunity of counsel in pleading cases as an essential element of the right to due process.

In November 2002, academic Hashem Aghajari was sentenced to death at a closed trial for the crime of blaspheming against Islam during a speech in Hamedan. In addition to the death sentence, he was sentenced to 74 lashes, exile to a remote desert location, 8 years in jail, and a ban on teaching for 10 years. The death sentence was widely denounced both domestically and abroad. President Khatami and hundreds of Majlis members questioned the verdict. In February, the Supreme Court revoked his death sentence, but the case was sent back to the lower court for retrial. No verdict was issued by year's end (see Section 2.b.).

Former Deputy Prime Minister and longtime political dissident, Abbas Amir-Entezam was re-imprisoned in April, after his release in 2002 for medical reasons. Amir-Entezam, who has spent much of the past 24 years in prison, was reportedly incarcerated for calling for a referendum on whether the country should remain under clerical rule during a speech at Tehran University (see Section 1.c.).

The trials in 2000 and 2001 of 13 Jewish citizens on charges related to espionage for Israel were marked by a lack of due process. Ten of the original 13 were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 4 to 13 years. The last five in prison were reportedly released in April (see Section 2.c.).

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Constitution states that "reputation, life, property, (and) dwelling(s)" are protected from trespass except as "provided by law;" however, the Government infringed on these rights. Security forces monitored the social activities of citizens, entered homes and offices, monitored telephone conversations, and opened mail without court authorization.

Vigilante violence included attacking young persons considered too "un-Islamic" in their dress or activities, invading private homes, abusing unmarried couples, and disrupting concerts or other forms of popular entertainment. Attacks targeted women whose clothing did not cover their hair and all parts of their body except the hands and face, or those who wore makeup or nail polish.

Authorities entered homes to remove television satellite dishes, or to disrupt private gatherings in which unmarried men and women socialized, or where alcohol, mixed dancing, or other forbidden activities were offered or took place. The Government campaign against satellite dishes continued, although enforcement appeared to be arbitrary and sporadic, varying widely with the political climate and the individuals involved. Press reports from November noted that, after a roughly 4-month hiatus, security authorities resumed efforts to remove satellite dishes from Tehran homes, confiscating 450 dishes in 1 neighborhood during a single day. A Revolutionary Court order reportedly mandated the security forces to dismantle all satellite dishes in Tehran and confiscate any satellite-related equipment found during house searches.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of the press, except when published ideas are "contrary to Islamic principles, or are detrimental to public rights;" however, the Government restricted freedom of speech and of the press in practice. Since the election of President Khatami, the independent press, especially newspapers and magazines, played an increasingly important role in providing a forum for an intense debate regarding reform in the society. However, basic legal safeguards for freedom of expression did not exist, and the independent press was subjected to arbitrary enforcement measures by elements of the Government, notably the judiciary, which treated such debates as a threat.

The Government continued to harass senior Shi'a religious and political leaders and their followers who dissent from the ruling conservative establishment. In July 2002, the Friday prayer leader of Isfahan, Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, resigned and, in a written statement, said he could no longer tolerate the corruption and repression of the country's clerical leadership. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic appoints Friday prayer leaders, who are the senior religious authorities in their districts. According to HRW, the conservative establishment attempted to limit the damage by restricting coverage of Taheri's statement.

In October, reformist parliamentarian and outspoken critic Mohsen Armin was sentenced to 6 months in prison for insulting a conservative parliament member, according to press reports. The judge reportedly also stripped Armin of his "social rights" for 1 year for not appearing in court. Armin ascribed his absence from court to his assumption that he held parliamentary immunity. At year's end, Armin had not been imprisoned.

In January 2002, reformist members of Parliament staged a walkout to protest pro-reform Parliamentarian Hossein Loqmanian's imprisonment, which led the Supreme Leader to pardon him after he had spent several weeks in prison. In late 2001, Loqmanian began serving a 13-month sentence for insulting the judiciary. He became the first Majlis member to serve a jail sentence.

In spring 2001, security forces arrested parliament member Fatima Haghighatjoo for inciting public opinion and insulting the judiciary for criticizing the arrest of a female journalist and claiming that the Government tortured prisoners. She was the first sitting Majlis member to face prosecution for statements made under cover of immunity. Haghighatjoo was sentenced to 17 months in prison, though she has not yet served time.

Newspapers and magazines represented a wide variety of political and social perspectives, many allied with members of the Government. Many subjects were tolerated, including criticism of certain government policies. However, the Press Law prohibits the publishing of a broad and ill-defined category of subjects, including material "insulting Islam and its sanctities" or "promoting subjects that might damage the foundation of the Islamic Republic." Prohibited topics include fault-finding comments regarding the personality and achievements of the late Leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini; direct criticism of the Supreme Leader; assailing the principle of velayat-e faqih, or rule by a supreme religious leader; questioning the tenets of certain Islamic legal principles; publishing sensitive or classified material affecting national security; promotion of the views of certain dissident clerics, including Ayatollah Montazeri; and advocating rights or autonomy for ethnic minorities.

The Press Law established the Press Supervisory Board, which is composed of the Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance, a Supreme Court judge, a Member of Parliament, and a university professor appointed by the Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance. The Board is responsible for issuing press licenses and for examining complaints filed against publications or individual journalists, editors, or publishers. In certain cases, the Press Supervisory Board may refer complaints to the Press Court for further action, including closure. Its hearings were conducted in public with a jury composed of clerics, government officials, and editors of government-controlled newspapers. The jury was empowered to recommend to the presiding judge the guilt or innocence of defendants and the severity of any penalty to be imposed, although these recommendations were not legally binding.

Since 2000, approximately 100 newspapers and magazines have been closed for varying lengths of time. In the last few years, some human rights groups asserted that the increasingly conservative Press Court assumed responsibility for cases before Press Supervisory Board consideration, often resulting in harsher judgments. Recent efforts to amend the press laws have not met with success, although in October, parliament passed a law limiting the duration of temporary press closures to a maximum of 10 days for newspapers, 4 weeks for weeklies or bi-weeklies, 2 months for monthlies, and 3 months for other publications. The importance of the legislation was to stop the practice of extending "temporary" bans indefinitely.

Public officials frequently lodged complaints against journalists, editors, and publishers. Offending writers were subject to lawsuits and fines. Suspension from journalistic activities and imprisonment were common punishments for guilty verdicts for offenses ranging from "fabrication" to "propaganda against the State" to "insulting the leadership of the Islamic Republic."

Freedom of the press continued to deteriorate during the year. Many newspapers and magazines were closed, and many of their managers were sentenced to jail and, sometimes, lashings. Several dozen pro-reform newspapers continued to publish, most with heavy self-censorship. When shut down, others often opened to take their place. A number of Internet news sites continued to operate from outside the country. There is little information on the extent of readership inside the country.

Dozens of individual editors and journalists have been charged and tried by the Press Court in recent years, and several prominent journalists were jailed for long periods without trial. Others have been sentenced to prison terms or exorbitant fines. At year's end, at least 10 journalists, editors, and publishers remained in prison, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Journalists imprisoned during the year include: Ali-Reza Jabari, arrested in March and sentenced to 3 years in prison and 253 lashes; Iraj Jamshidi, imprisoned without trial and held mostly in isolation since July; Taghi Rahmani, held in solitary confinement since June and reportedly sentenced in a separate case to 13 years in jail; and Reza Alijani and Hoda Saber, both held since June, and reportedly sentenced in separate cases to 6 and 10 years, respectively. In October, journalist Mohsen Sazgara was released from jail amid rumors of ill health, after 4 months in prison on charges of inciting protest.

In January, the judiciary halted efforts by deputy speaker of the Majlis, Mohammad-Reza Khatami, to re-open the banned newspaper Norouz under the new name Rouz-e No, by extending the 6-month ban on the original publication. Khatami was slated to replace former Norouz editor and parliament member Mohsen Mirdamadi, who was sentenced despite parliamentary immunity in May 2002 to 6 months in jail and banned from practicing journalism for 4 years for "insulting the state, publishing lies, and insulting Islamic institutions." At year's end, there were no reports that Mirdamadi had been imprisoned.

In January, the newspaper Hayat-e No was banned and editor Alireza Eshraghi arrested after the paper reprinted a 1937 U.S. cartoon about President Franklin Roosevelt's battle with the Supreme Court. The authorities deemed that the judge portrayed too closely resembled the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The daily Hamshahri was also temporarily suspended in January after refusing to print an article from the chief of a state-run trade union.

In January, the Press Court also closed the reformist daily Bahar after the newspaper ran an article about a company whose shareholders include former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, former judiciary head Ayatollah Yazdi, and Ahmad Janati, head of the Council of the Guardians of the Revolution. Bahar was first closed in 2000 and had only re-opened in December 2002.

In February, according to AI, Abbas Abdi and Hussein Qazian, were sentenced to 8 and 9 years, respectively, in the National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls case. In April, an appeals court reduced the sentences to 4 years and 6 months for each. The third defendant in the case, Behrouz Geranpayeh, was reportedly released on bail in January, pending a final ruling. The case originated in October 2002, when the judicial authorities closed the Institute which had found in a poll commissioned by the Majlis that a majority of citizens supported dialogue with the United States. The defendants were charged with spying for the United States, illegal contacts with foreign embassies, working with anti-regime groups, and carrying out research on the order of a foreign polling organization. Government intelligence officials had publicly stated that the accused were not spies. According to press reports, President Khatami also rejected the charges, stating that the Intelligence and Foreign Ministries had cleared the pollsters' work. Reformist parliamentarians were reportedly barred from the court and the defendants were not allowed to see their families or their attorneys.

In October, RSF reported that the Government closed the newspaper Avay-e Kordestan, marking the first time a Kurdish language newspaper was banned in the country.

The Government directly controlled and maintained a monopoly over all television and radio broadcasting facilities; programming reflected the Government's political and socio-religious ideology. Because newspapers and other print media had a limited circulation outside large cities, radio and television served as the principal news source for many citizens. Satellite dishes that received foreign television broadcasts were forbidden; however, many citizens, particularly the wealthy, owned them. In December 2002, the Majlis passed a bill legalizing private ownership of satellite receiving equipment. However, the Guardians Council rejected the legislation in January on constitutional and religious grounds. The Government reportedly acted to block foreign satellite transmissions during the year using powerful jamming signals (see Section 1.f.).

The Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance was in charge of screening books prior to publication to ensure that they did not contain offensive material. However, some books and pamphlets critical of the Government were published without reprisal. The Ministry inspected foreign printed materials prior to their release on the market. In August, author of "Iran's women Musicians," Toka Maleki, its publisher Jaafar Homai, and cultural critic Banafsheh Samgis received prison terms for publishing and publicly commenting on the book, which was deemed to contain "lies" about Islamic history. Translator of the book, "Women behind Veil and Well-Dressed Men," Maliheh Moghazei and Ministry of Culture and the Islamic Guidance Director General Majid Sayyad also received prison terms in connection with the book's publication.

The Government effectively censored domestic films, since it remained the main source of production funding. Producers must submit scripts and film proposals to government officials in advance of funding approval. However, such government restrictions appeared to have eased in recent years.

The Government censored Internet sites. In May, a government spokesman acknowledged state attempts to block access to "immoral" websites. The judiciary also announced the creation of a special unit to handle Internet-related issues. According to press reporting, the judiciary highlighted over twenty subject areas to be blocked, including: insulting Islam, opposing the Constitution, insulting the Supreme Leader or making false accusations about officials, undermining national unity and solidarity, creating pessimism among the people regarding the Islamic system, and propagating prostitution and drugs.

The Government restricted academic freedom. Government informers were common on university campuses. Admission to universities was politicized; all applicants had to pass "character tests" in which officials screened out applicants critical of the Government's ideology. To obtain tenure, professors had to refrain from criticism of the authorities.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution permits assemblies and marches "provided they do not violate the principles of Islam;" however, in practice the Government restricted freedom of assembly and closely monitored gatherings to prevent anti-government protest. Such gatherings included public entertainment and lectures, student gatherings, labor protests, funeral processions, and Friday prayer gatherings.

During a wave of student protests in June, vigilantes beat many protestors, and police arrested approximately 4,000 persons (both protestors and vigilantes), according to government figures shortly after the protests. The Government banned demonstrations planned for July 9 to commemorate the killing of several students by security forces in demonstrations held in 1999 and arrested more student activists at that time (see Sections 1.b. and 1.f.).

Paramilitary organizations such as the Ansar-e Hezbollah, a group of vigilantes who seek to enforce their vision of appropriate revolutionary comportment upon the society, harassed, beat, and intimidated those who demonstrated publicly for reform. Ansar-e Hezbollah gangs were used to harass journalists, intimidate dissident clerics, and disrupt peaceful gatherings (see Section 2.b.). Ansar-e Hezbollah cells were organized throughout the country and some were reportedly linked to individual members of the country's leadership.

In June, during a wave of pro-reform protests, members of vigilante groups, such as Ansar-e Hezbollah, attacked protestors, according to press reports. Ansar-e Hezbollah members reportedly stormed a university dormitory in Tehran, destroyed student property, and injured more than 50 students. Some vigilantes were reportedly included among those arrested by authorities during the clashes. Vigilantes who attacked a demonstration in Shiraz reportedly killed one protestor. Before being transferred to Government custody, vigilantes reportedly seized and beat, journalist Ensafali Hedayat. Vigilante groups were also reported to have attacked protestors during pro-reform demonstrations near Tehran University in December.

In December, vigilantes beat reformist parliamentarian, Mohsen Mirdamadi, as he began a speech in Yazd. President Khatami ordered a crackdown on vigilantes after the attack; five individuals were subsequently arrested. At year's end, there was no further information on the status of their detention.

In November 2002, the Aghajari verdict sparked large and ongoing protests at universities throughout the country (see Section 1.e.). Students boycotted classes for almost 2 weeks and staged the largest pro-reform demonstrations in 3 years, with crowds of up to 5,000 at any given location. In late December 2002, two students were given jail terms for their protests against the Aghajari sentence. Hojatollah Rahimi was sentenced to 2 years in prison and 70 lashes for "insulting religious sanctities and issuing an insulting declaration." Co-defendant Parviz Torkashvand was sentenced to 4 months in jail and 40 lashes.

A government clampdown using Basiji and other forces restored quiet for 2 weeks, until a large demonstration occurred at the University of Tehran, attended by over 2,000 within the walls of the campus, and with a larger crowd outside. Law enforcement officials and "plainclothes" forces wielding batons, whips, and belts suppressed the protest. Basiji violently dispersed subsequent demonstrations.

The Constitution provides for the establishment of political parties, professional associations, Islamic religious groups, and organizations for recognized religious minorities, provided that such groups do not violate the principles of "freedom, sovereignty, and national unity," or question Islam as the basis of the Islamic Republic; however, the Government limited freedom of association, in practice.

In 2001, the Government provisionally closed the 50-year-old Iran Freedom Movement political party for "attempting to overthrow the Islamic regime," and the Government permanently banned it in 2002. In response to the permanent dissolution of the movement, President Khatami warned against the banning of political groups, saying that suppression did not eliminate ideas; they were simply forced underground and continue to grow (see Sections 1.d. and 1.e.).

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution declares that the "official religion of Iran is Islam and the doctrine followed is that of Ja'fari (Twelver) Shi'ism." the Constitution also states that "other Islamic denominations are to be accorded full respect," and recognizes Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews, the country's pre-Islamic religions, as "protected" religious minorities; however, in practice The Government restricted freedom of religion. Religions not specifically protected under the Constitution did not enjoy freedom of religion. This situation most directly affected the approximately 300,000 followers of the Baha'i faith, who were not recognized by the Government as a community and were considered to belong to an outlawed political organization. The central feature of the country's Islamic republican system is rule by a "religious jurisconsult." Its senior leadership, including the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, the President, the Head of the Judiciary, and the Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament) was composed principally of Shi'a clergymen.

The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) monitored closely religious activity. Adherents of recognized religious minorities were not required to register individually with the Government. However, their community, religious, and cultural organizations, as well as schools and public events, were monitored closely. The population was approximately 99 percent Muslim, of which 89 percent were Shi'a and 10 percent Sunni (mostly Turkomans, Arabs, Baluchis, and Kurds). Baha'i, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Jewish communities constituted less than 1 percent of the population.

Members of the country's religious minorities, particularly Bahai's, reported imprisonment, harassment, and intimidation based on their religious beliefs. All religious minorities suffered varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education, and housing. The Government generally allowed recognized religious minorities to conduct religious education of their adherents, although it restricted this right considerably in some cases. Religious minorities, by law and practice, are barred from election to a representative body, except to the five Majlis seats reserved for minorities, and from holding senior government or military positions. Members of religious minorities were allowed to vote, but they could not run for President. Although the Constitution mandates an Islamic Army, members of religious minority communities sometimes served in the military.

The Government allowed recognized religious minorities to establish community centers and certain privately-financed cultural, social, sports, or charitable associations. However, since 1983 the Government has denied the Baha'i community the right to assemble officially or to maintain administrative institutions.

The legal system discriminated against religious minorities, awarding lower monetary compensation in injury and death lawsuits for non-Muslims than for Muslims and imposing heavier punishments on non-Muslims than on Muslims. In April, the Council of Guardians rejected a bill passed by the Majlis in late 2002 equalizing the "blood money" paid to the families of male crime victims except for Bahai's. Proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims is illegal and the Government was harsh in its response, in particular against Baha'is and evangelical Christians. The Government did not ensure the right of citizens to change or recant their religion. Apostasy, specifically conversion from Islam, is punishable by death.

Although Sunni Muslims are accorded full respect under the terms of the Constitution, some Sunni groups claimed to be discriminated against by the Government.

Baha'is were considered apostates because of their claim to a religious revelation subsequent to that of the Prophet Mohammed. The Government defined the Baha'i faith as a political "sect" linked to the Pahlavi monarchy and therefore, as counterrevolutionary. Historically at risk, Baha'is often have suffered increased levels of mistreatment during times of political unrest. Baha'is may not teach or practice their faith or maintain links with co-religionists abroad. The Government continued to imprison and detain Baha'is based on their religious beliefs. A 2001 Ministry of Justice report indicated that government policy aimed at the eventual elimination of the Baha'is as a community.

In 2001, the UNSR estimated the Christian community at approximately 300,000. Of these, the majority were ethnic Armenians and Assyro-Chaldeans. Protestant denominations and evangelical churches also were active, but reported restrictions on their activities. The authorities became particularly vigilant in recent years in curbing proselytizing activities by evangelical Christians.

Estimates of the size of the ewish community varied from 25,000 to 30,000, a substantial reduction from the estimated 75,000 to 80,000 Jews in the country prior to the 1979 revolution. While Jews were a recognized religious minority, allegations of official discrimination were frequent. The Government's anti-Israel stance, and the perception among many citizens that Jewish citizens supported Zionism and the State of Israel, created a threatening atmosphere for the small community. Jews limited their contact with and did not openly express support for Israel out of fear of reprisal. Jewish leaders reportedly were reluctant to draw attention to official mistreatment of their community due to fear of government reprisal.

The Government carefully monitored the statements and views of the country's senior Muslim religious leaders. It has restricted the movement of several who have been under house arrest for years.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2003 International Religious Freedom Report.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government placed some restrictions on these rights. Citizens may travel within the country and change their place of residence without obtaining official permission. The Government required exit permits (a validation stamp in the passport) for foreign travel for draft-age men and citizens who were politically suspect. Some citizens, particularly those whose skills were in short supply and who were educated at government expense, must post bonds to obtain exit permits. The Government restricted the movement of certain religious minorities and several religious leaders (see Sections 1.d. and 2.c.).

Citizens returning from abroad sometimes were subjected to searches and extensive questioning by government authorities for evidence of anti-government activities abroad. Recorded and printed material, personal correspondence, and photographs were subject to confiscation.

The Government permitted Jews to travel abroad, but often denied them multiple-exit permits issued to other citizens. Baha'is often experienced difficulty in obtaining passports.

Women must obtain the permission of their husband, father, or other male relative to obtain a passport. Married women must receive written permission from their husbands before being allowed to leave the country.

The law contains provisions for granting refugee status to persons who meet the definition in the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. There were no reports of the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution; however, there were reports that the Government deported refugees deemed "illegal" entrants into the country. In times of economic uncertainty, the Government increased pressure on refugees to return to their home countries. The Government generally cooperated with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.

The country hosted a large refugee population, mostly Afghans, as well as a significant number of Iraqis. At year's end, UNHCR estimated that approximately 1 million refugees from Afghanistan remained in the country. Up to 500,000 Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan since early 2002, including approximately 100,000 during the first half of the year, according to UNHCR. The Government denied UNHCR concerns that the Government was pressing them to leave. Most refugees subsisted on itinerant labor. The Government accused many Afghans of involvement in drug trafficking. After the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the Government sealed its border in anticipation of a war in Afghanistan and a resulting wave of refugees. The Government set up several refugee camps just inside Afghanistan to deal with the crisis.

The UNHCR estimated that there were approximately 200,000 Iraqi refugees in the country, the majority of whom were Iraqi Kurds, but also including Shi'a Arabs. Iraq expelled many of the Iraqi refugees at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war because of their suspected Iranian origin. In numerous instances, both the Iraqi and Iranian Governments disputed their citizenship, rendering many of them stateless. Other Iraqi refugees arrived following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. During the year, the Government took substantial steps to prepare for the possibility of new Iraqi refugees, but significant outflows never appeared. In November, UNHCR initiated a pilot repatriation of refugees from the country and had repatriated a few hundred to Iraq by early December. According to press reports, refugee officials speculated that up to three-quarters of the 200,000 refugees in the country may have crossed back into Iraq without formal assistance since April.

Although the Government claimed to host more than 30,000 refugees of other nationalities, including Tajiks, Bosnians, Azeris, Eritreans, Somalis, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis, it did not provide information about them or allow the UNHCR or other organizations access to them.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The right of citizens to change their government is restricted significantly. The Supreme Leader, the recognized Head of State, is elected by the Assembly of Experts, and can only be removed by a vote of this same Assembly. The Assembly itself is restricted to clerics, who serve an 8-year term and are chosen by popular vote from a list approved by the Government. There is no separation of state and religion, and clerical influence pervades the Government, especially in appointed, rather than elected, positions. The Government effectively controlled the selection of candidates for elections. The Council of Guardians, which reviews all laws for consistency with Islamic law and the Constitution, also screens candidates for election for ideological, political, and religious suitability. It accepts only candidates who support a theocratic state; clerics who disagree with government policies or with a conservative view of the Islamic state also have been disqualified. Two bills approved by the Majlis in late 2002 to expand presidential power and limit the Council of Guardian's ability to disqualify candidates were rejected by the Council of Guardians at mid-year.

Regularly scheduled elections are held for the Presidency, the Majlis, and the Assembly of Experts. Mohammad Khatami, a former Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance who was impeached in 1992 by the Majlis for "liberalism" and "negligence," was elected President in 1997 and reelected in 2001 with 77 percent of the vote. The UNSR reported that the Guardian Council significantly limited the number of candidates permitted to run in elections and noted that the Interior Minister denounced the "unprincipled disqualification" of candidates.

Elections were held in the fall of 1998 for the 86-member Assembly of Experts. The Council of Guardians disqualified numerous candidates, which led to criticism from many observers that the Government improperly predetermined the election results.

Elections were last held for the 290-seat Majlis in 2000 and were scheduled to be held again in February 2004. Of more than 6,000 candidates, the Council of Guardians disqualified 576 before the 2000 elections, a substantial decrease from the 44 percent of candidates disqualified before the 1996 elections. Most of those disqualified were outspoken advocates of political reform, including some of the most prominent supporters of President Khatami. In 2001, by-elections were held for vacant Majlis seats. The Council of Guardians reportedly disqualified 100 potential candidates, more than one-quarter of those wishing to run. Furthermore, the Supreme Leader and other conservatives within the Government used constitutional provisions to block much of the early reform legislation passed by the Majlis.

In 1999, elections for nationwide local councils were held for the first time since the 1979 revolution. Government figures indicated that roughly 280,000 candidates competed for 130,000 council seats across the nation. Women were elected to seats in numerous districts. However, the Councils did not appear to wield significant autonomy or authority. A second series of municipal council elections took place in February. A combination of low voter turnout (below 50 percent) and popular dissatisfaction with both the performance of the councils and the record of reformists swept many reformists from office.

Women held 9 out of 290 Majlis seats. There were no female cabinet members, although several held high-level positions, such as Vice-President, and a woman served as Presidential Adviser for Women's Affairs, and another as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Majlis seats were reserved for elected Christian (three), Jewish (one) and Zoroastrian (one) deputies. Religious minorities were barred from being elected to any other seats on a representative body and from holding senior government or military positions.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

The Government continued to restrict the work of local human rights groups. The Government denies the universality of human rights and has stated that human rights issues should be viewed in the context of a country's "culture and beliefs."

Various professional groups representing writers, journalists, photographers, and others attempted to monitor government restrictions in their fields, as well as harassment and intimidation against individual members of their professions. However, their ability to meet, organize, and effect change was curtailed severely by the Government. There were domestic NGOs working in areas such as health and population, women and development, youth, environmental protection, human rights, and sustainable development. Some reports estimate a few thousand local NGOs currently in operation.

International human rights NGOs such as HRW and AI were not permitted to establish offices in or conduct regular investigative visits to the country. Authorities barred HRW and AI representatives from attending the European Union's late 2002 human rights talks in Tehran, despite the EU's invitation. An October EU-Iran human rights dialogue was held in Brussels to facilitate the participation of NGO representatives. The Government also opened a human rights dialogue with Australia in 2002 and with Switzerland in October.

The ICRC and the UNHCR both operated in the country. However, the Government did not allow the UNSR to visit the country from 1997 to 2001, the last year his mandate to monitor human rights in the country was in effect. The Government allowed two visits by U.N. human rights representatives during the year, one by the UNSR for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and one by a U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In December, the Plenary of the U.N. 58th General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the country for human rights abuses, include public executions, amputation, torture, suppression of free speech, and discrimination against women and minorities.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) was established in 1995 under the authority of the head of the judiciary, who sits on its board as an observer. In 1996 the Government established a human rights committee in the Majlis, the Article 90 Commission, which receives and considers complaints regarding violations of constitutional rights. However, many observers believed that these committees lacked independence.

In October, the Article 90 Commission issued a report on the death in custody of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. The report identified Tehran's Chief Prosecutor and other members of the judiciary as being directly involved in subjecting Kazemi to violent interrogations in Evin Prison, and later attempting to cover up the cause of her death. The report noted that Kazemi had applied for and received official government permission to act as a journalist and photographer while in the country. The Article 90 Commission findings reportedly dismissed allegations of MOIS involvement in Kazemi's death, though an MOIS officer was charged with her murder.

In October, lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in advancing human rights both in the country and internationally. Ms. Ebadi, who served as one of the first female judges in the country before being forced to resign after the revolution, has campaigned on behalf of women, children, and victims of government repression. She represented the family of Darius and Parvaneh Forouhar, killed in 1998, and of a student killed during the 1999 student protests, which exposed links between vigilante groups and government officials and led to her arrest in 2000. Ms. Ebadi is a founder of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, which represents defendants in political cases. She has also agreed to represent the family of Ms. Kazemi.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or Social Status

In general the Government did not discriminate on the basis of race, disability, language, or social status; however, it discriminated on the basis of religion, sex, and ethnicity. Kurds, Azeris, and Ahwazi Arabs were not allowed to study their languages.


Although spousal abuse and violence against women occurred, statistics were not available. Abuse in the family was considered a private matter and seldom was discussed publicly. Rape is illegal, and subject to strict penalties, but remained a widespread problem. The UNSR published statistics provided by the IHRC indicating that, at the end of 2001, an estimated 1,000 of approximately 3,000 active files were related to women's issues.

Prostitution was illegal. Accurate information regarding the extent of the problem was not widely available, although the issue received greater attention as a result of the public's growing interest in social problems. Press reports described prostitution as a widespread problem.

Provisions in the Islamic Civil and Penal Codes, in particular those sections dealing with family and property law, discriminate against women. Shortly after the 1979 revolution, the Government repealed the Family Protection Law, a hallmark bill adopted in 1967 that had given women increased rights in the home and workplace, and replaced it with a legal system based largely on Shari'a practices. In 1998, the Majlis passed legislation that mandated segregation of the sexes in the provision of medical care. In August, the Guardian Council rejected a bill that would require the country to adopt U.N. conventions on eliminating torture and ending discrimination against women.

Even though the law permits it, marriage at the minimum age of 9 was rare. In mid-2002, authorities approved a law that requires court approval for the marriage of girls below the age of 13 and boys younger than 15. All women must have the permission of their father or a male relative to marry. The law allowed for the practice of temporary marriages based on a Shi'a custom in which a woman or a girl may become the wife of a married or single Muslim male after a simple and brief religious ceremony. The temporary marriage may last any length of time. According to Shi'a Islamic law, men may have as many temporary wives as they wish. Such wives are not granted rights associated with traditional marriage.

The Penal Code includes provisions for the stoning of women and men convicted of adultery, although judges were instructed at the end of 2002 to cease imposing such sentences (see Section 1.c.). Women have the right to divorce if their husband has signed a contract granting that right or if the husband cannot provide for his family, is a drug addict, insane, or impotent. However, a husband is not required to cite a reason for divorcing his wife. In December 2002, a new law made the adjudication of cases in which women demand divorces less arbitrary and less costly.

A widely used model marriage contract limits privileges accorded to men by custom, and traditional interpretations of Islamic law recognize a divorced woman's right to a share in the property that couples acquire during their marriage and to increased alimony. Women who remarry are forced to give the child's father custody of children from earlier marriages. However, the law granted custody of minor children to the mother in certain divorce cases in which the father is proven unfit to care for the child. In November, women were granted the right to custody of both male and female children up to 7 years of age; previously divorced women were allowed to retain custody over boys only until 2two years of age.

The testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man in court. The "blood money" paid to the family of a female crime victim is half the sum paid for a man. A married woman must obtain the written consent of her husband before traveling outside the country (see Section 2.d.).

Women had access to primary and advanced education; however, social and legal constraints limited their professional opportunities. Women were represented in many fields of the work force, and the Government has not prevented women from entering many traditionally male-dominated fields. However, women are barred from seeking the presidency and from appointment to the judiciary. The law provides maternity, child care, and pension benefits.

The Government enforced gender segregation in most public spaces, and prohibited women from mixing openly with unmarried men or men not related to them. Women must ride in a reserved section on public buses and enter public buildings, universities, and airports through separate entrances. Women were prohibited from attending male sporting events, although this restriction did not appear to be enforced universally. While the enforcement of conservative Islamic dress codes varied, what women wore in public was not entirely a matter of personal choice. The authorities sometimes harassed women if their dress or behavior was considered inappropriate, and women may be sentenced to flogging or imprisonment for such violations (see Section 1.c.). The law prohibits the publication of pictures of uncovered women in the print media, including pictures of foreign women. There are penalties for failure to observe Islamic dress codes at work.


There is little current information available to assess Government efforts toward assuring the welfare of children. Except in isolated areas of the country, children had access to free education through the 12th grade (compulsory to age 11), and to some form of health care.

There was not enough information available to reflect how the Government dealt with child abuse (see Sections 6.c. and 6.d.).

Persons with Disabilities

There is no current information available regarding whether the Government has legislated or otherwise mandated accessibility for persons with disabilities, or whether discrimination against persons with disabilities is prohibited.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Kurds sought greater autonomy from the central Government and continued to suffer from government discrimination. Sunni Kurdish tensions with the Shi'a dominated government predate the 1979 revolution. Kurds often were suspected of harboring separatist or foreign sympathies. These suspicions have led to sporadic outbreaks of fighting between government forces and Kurdish groups. In recent years, greater Kurdish cultural expression has been allowed and Kurdish publications and broadcasting have expanded. However, there was still no public school education in the Kurdish language.

The KDPI claimed that the Government executed at least four Kurdish party members and activists during the year. According to KDPI, plainclothes vigilantes in five separate attacks killed seven more Kurds during the year (see Section 1.a.). Other activists were reported imprisoned.

Azeris comprise roughly one-quarter of the country's population and are well integrated into the Government and society. The Supreme Leader is of Azeri descent, but complained of ethnic and linguistic discrimination, including banning the Azeri language in schools, harassing Azeri activists or organizers, and changing Azeri geographic names. The Government traditionally viewed Azeri nationalism as threatening, particularly since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the creation of an independent Azerbaijan. Azeri groups also claimed that there were a number of Azeri political prisoners jailed for advocating cultural and language rights for Iranian Azerbaijanis. The Government has charged several of them with "revolting against the Islamic state."

Foreign representatives of the Ahwazi Arabs of Khuzistan, whose numbers could range as high as 4 million or more, claimed that their community in the southwest of the country suffered from discrimination, including the right to study and speak Arabic. In July, authorities reportedly closed two bilingual Arabic/Farsi newspapers, and imprisoned scores of political activists. They asserted that the Government has ignored their appeals to de-mine the vast stretches of Khuzistan, mined during the Iran-Iraq War. They further stated that many Arabs, both Shi'a and Sunni, have been imprisoned and tortured for criticizing government policies. According to Ahwazi sources, political activist with the Islamic Wafagh Party, Kazem Mojaddam, was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in November after his initial arrest in June on charges of secession and endangering internal security.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The Labor Code provides workers the right to establish unions; however, the Government did not allow independent unions to exist. A national organization known as the Workers' House was the sole authorized national labor organization. It served primarily as a conduit for the Government to exert control over workers. The leadership of the Workers' House coordinated activities with Islamic labor councils, which were made up of representatives of the workers and one representative of management in industrial, agricultural, and service organizations of more than 35 employees. These councils also functioned as instruments of government control, although they frequently were able to block layoffs and dismissals.

According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the role of the Worker's House changed in recent years, and there was more tolerance of workers' organizations, which included four nurses organizations, a health workers' union, and a textile workers' union. The report also notes that a 2000 law exempted companies with up to five employees from the need to comply with labor legislation for 6 years. This law affected approximately 3 million workers, making them easier to hire and fire. The Labor Code allows employers and employees to establish guilds. The guilds issued vocational licenses and helped members find jobs. Instances of late or partial pay for government workers reportedly were common.

There were no known affiliations with international labor organizations.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Workers did not have the right to organize independently and negotiate collective bargaining agreements. The ICFTU noted that the presence of security/intelligence forces in the workplace, as well as increasing use of temporary contracts, acted as obstacles to organizing.

The law prohibits public sector strikes and the Government did not tolerate any strike deemed to be at odds with its economic and labor policies; however, strikes occurred. In addition to strikes, there were also work stoppages and protests by oil, textile, electrical manufacturing, and metal workers, as well as by the unemployed. Many of these protests were due to non-payment of wage arrears, according to the ICFTU. In May, textile workers in Behshar staged a hunger strike to protest non-payment of overdue wages. Teachers staged demonstrations and sit-ins in several cities during the year for improved working conditions and wage benefits.

It is not known whether labor legislation and practice in the export processing zones (EPZs) differ from the law and practice in the rest of the country. According to the ICFTU, labor legislation did not apply in the EPZs.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Bonded Labor

The Penal Code provides that the Government may require any person who does not have work to take suitable employment; however, this did not appear to be enforced regularly. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has criticized this provision frequently as contravening ILO Convention 29 on forced labor. The law prohibits forced and bonded labor by children; however, this was not enforced adequately, and such labor by children was a serious problem.

d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment

The law prohibits forced and bonded labor by children; however, there appears to be a serious problem with child labor. The Labor Law prohibits employment of minors less than 15 years of age and places restrictions on the employment of minors under age 18; however, laws pertaining to child labor were not enforced adequately. The law permits children to work in agriculture, domestic service, and some small businesses. The law prohibits the employment of women and minors in hard labor or night work. Information regarding the extent to which these regulations were enforced was not available.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Code empowers the Supreme Labor Council to establish annual minimum wage levels for each industrial sector and region; however, no information was available regarding mechanisms used to set wages. It was not known if the minimum wages were adjusted annually or enforced. The Labor Code stipulates that the minimum wage should be sufficient to meet the living expenses of a family and should take inflation into account. However, under poor economic conditions, many middle-class citizens must work at two or three jobs to support their families.

The Labor Code establishes a maximum 6-day, 48-hour workweek, with 1 weekly rest day, normally Fridays, and at least 12 days of paid annual leave and several paid public holidays.

According to the Labor Code, a Supreme Safety Council, chaired by the Labor Minister or his representative, is responsible for promoting workplace safety and health. Labor organizations outside the country have alleged that hazardous work environments were common in the country and have resulted in thousands of worker deaths per year. It was not known how well the Ministry's inspectors enforced regulations. It was not known whether workers could remove themselves from hazardous situations without risking the loss of employment.

f. Trafficking in Persons

The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, and persons reportedly were trafficked to, through, and from the country during the year. It was difficult to measure the extent of the Government's efforts to curb human trafficking, but national and international press reporting indicated that Tehran has taken action against bandits involved in abducting women and children and pursued agreements with neighboring states to curb human trafficking. The Government has also reportedly arrested, convicted, and executed numerous human trafficking offenders. During the year, police reportedly arrested numerous members of prostitution rings and closed down brothels.

In April, a court in Mashhad reportedly sentenced 53 individuals to 281 years in prison and 222 lashes on charges of abduction and slavery for trafficking scores of young girls to Pakistan.

1. The United States does not have an embassy in Iran. This report draws heavily on non-U.S. Government sources.
19 posted on 02/26/2004 9:46:24 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Blair Says Engagement With Iran To Continue Despite Vote

February 26, 2004
The Associated Press
Dow Jones International News

LONDON -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that the U.K. will continue to engage with Iran, despite disappointment that many candidates were disqualified from recent elections there.

"We engage for a reason: to make the world more secure, and to try and encourage a process of change in Iran," Blair said at his monthly news conference.

"In respect to the first, I want to make it very clear to the Iranian authorities that there must be complete and total compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency. There can't be any partial compliance with that. The demands that they have made have to be met, and met in full, and I don't want there to be any doubt about that.

"In respect to the second, obviously I would like to see all countries give their people the right to participate in full and free elections. And it's sad that so many of the candidates were disqualified from the recent elections in Iran.

"But in the end I think, you know, what countries around the world realize is that if they embrace democracy, the rule of law, human rights, they don't merely become better places to live, they also become more prosperous places. So our engagement is there for a purpose, and the purpose of change," Blair said.

Conservatives won a majority in Iran's 290-seat legislature. More than 2,400 reformist candidates were banned from running by the ruling Islamic establishment.

The European Union has called the elections a "setback for the democratic process in Iran," and the U.S. expressed disappointment.
20 posted on 02/26/2004 9:47:58 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Says Full Co-operation with IAEA Not Necessary

February 26, 2004
World Markets Research Centre
Trude Strand

Following criticism over its apparent failure to declare all activities associated with the country's atomic energy programme, Hassan Rowhani, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, has stated that Iran is not obliged to declare all activities to UN watchdog IAEA.

Earlier this week, the IAEA warned Iran over its failure to report nuclear activities that may be weapons-related (see Iran: 25 February 2004: IAEA Says Iran Failed to Declare Nuclear Activities). Rowhani noted that an unspecified number of nuclear installations remain undeclared and that the Iranian authorities plan to declare them in due course, AFP reports. Iran has been subjected to growing pressure over its nuclear activities and has been warned by the IAEA that all activities must be made transparent and fully disclosed.

Significance: Rowhani's statements run contrary to Iran's stated aim to fully co-operate with the IAEA and follow IAEA head Mohammed El-Baradei's comments that despite seeing 'some good co-operation' from Iran since last October, 'more prompt, detailed information' is necessary. The latest claim that Iranian co-operation with the IAEA will take place according to Iran's schedule is likely to increase pressure from the US for the IAEA to forward the country's case to the UN Security Council.
21 posted on 02/26/2004 9:49:13 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Defence Minister Says Syria a Part of Iran's Security

February 26, 2004
BBC Monitoring
BBC Monitoring Middle East

Damascus -- Iranian Minister of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani who is here at the head of a high ranking delegation, conferred here Thursday with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on expansion of mutual cooperation.

Iran's Ambassador to Damascus Mohammad-Reza Baqeri and Syrian Defence Minister Mustafa Abd-al-Qadir Talas were also present in the meeting.

Issues of mutual interests as well as current cooperation between the two countries in fields of defence, science, education and industry featured prominently in the meeting.

The Syrian president underlined the political will of the two sides' high ranking officials to further expand mutual relations in various areas and said that besides bolstering mutual cooperation, Tehran and Damascus should deal with the threats posed by big powers.

Syria is ready to broaden and expand military, defence and security cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, he said adding that presence of high ranking Iranian military and industrial officials in Syria indicates the firm determination of two sides to enhance mutual cooperation.

The recent parliamentary election in Iran demonstrates the fact that the country enjoys unity and the people's massive participation in the election disappointed the enemies of the Islamic Republic and Revolution.

The Iranian defence minister, for his part, underlined that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to help bolster and broaden defence cooperation with Syria.

Highlighting the two sides' common interests, he called for continued negotiations and cooperation in order to foil plots being hatched against the two countries under the current sensitive situation of the region.

Syria is considered as part of Iran's national security in the region, he said adding that Tehran has always paid due attention to security and territorial integrity of Syria.

Pointing to geopolitical and geostrategic developments in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, he said these developments have direct impacts on Iran's national security which requires further unity, solidarity and cooperation among regional countries to

Shamkhani Arrived in Damascus on Wednesday at the official invitation of his Syrian counterpart Mustafa Abd-al-Qadir Talas on a two-day official visit.

During the visit, the Iranian minister along with his entourage will inspect various defence and industrial centres in Syria and is to ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation.

Shamkhani will leave Damascus for Beirut on Friday.

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 1335 gmt 26 Feb 04
22 posted on 02/26/2004 9:52:13 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Reformers Demand Khatami Explain Sham Poll

February 26, 2004
Jon Hemming

TEHRAN -- Dozens of angry Iranian reformist parliamentarians have demanded President Mohammad Khatami appear before them to explain why he let last week's elections go ahead even though 2,500 of his supporters were barred from standing.

Many reformers and ordinary Iranians feel let down by Khatami, who promised freedom of speech and the rule of law, but failed to stand up to powerful hardliners once they blocked him.

Conservatives won control of parliament in Friday's polls, leaving Khatami increasingly isolated, heading a cabinet that achieved little even when it had a majority in the assembly.

"We are preparing to summon Khatami to parliament to explain his efforts for a fair election, what he did to ensure there was a free and fair election and why his government held an election which they believed was neither free nor fair," outgoing reformist deputy Reza Yousefian told Reuters on Thursday.

Pro-reform candidates only won 40 seats in the 290-seat assembly, compared to conservatives' 154, according to Interior Ministry official results released on Thursday. There are currently around 190 reformists in parliament.

Independents won 30 seats, five seats are reserved for religious minorities and 60 seats are to be recontested as candidates did not get the minimum 25 percent of votes. Polls in Bam were postponed due to December's earthquake.

The biggest reformist party, led by Khatami's brother, boycotted the elections saying they were rigged.

The soft-spoken president first criticised the barring of candidates, then, after talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the polls should go ahead.

With some 100 pro-reform publications banned and state broadcasting firmly in the hardliners' grip, outgoing reformist MPs now cling to parliament as one of the last platforms they have to vent their frustration before they step down at the end of May.

Some 75 reformists deputies had so far signed the demand to summon Khatami to parliament, Yousefian said. But parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi said he did not think the deputies would get the 105 signatures necessary to force Khatami to appear.

Ministers, appointed by the president, are not obliged to give regular reports to parliament. MPs have summoned other ministers for questioning in the past, but not Khatami himself.

A ban on the reformist newspaper Sharq, shut on the eve of polls, was lifted on Thursday after its publishers apologised for publishing a letter by some 100 MPs accusing Khamenei of presiding over a system which trampled on people's rights.

Khamenei controls almost all the key levers of power in Iran.
23 posted on 02/26/2004 9:53:30 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
EU 3 Haggled Hard for Iran Nuclear Deal

February 26, 2004
Louis Charbonneau and Paul Taylor

VIENNA/BRUSSELS -- Intense backroom negotiations among France, Britain, Germany, Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog persuaded Tehran to agree this week to suspend all activities linked to uranium enrichment, diplomats said.

Under this deal, clinched on Monday and announced on Tuesday in the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) latest report on Iran, Tehran pledged to temporarily halt all major activities connected with the enrichment of uranium -- including the manufacture, testing and assembly of centrifuges.

It was the second time in six months the European powers had persuaded Iran to make crucial concessions on its nuclear programme before an IAEA deadline that could trigger U.N. sanctions, with the U.S. breathing fire in the background.

Diplomats close to the negotiations told Reuters this could open the door to an exchange of peaceful technology, which the EU's "Big Three" in October promised Iran if it accepted snap IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities and suspended enrichment.

"It's the beginning of mainstreaming Iran with Europe, which I think is very important," said a senior Vienna-based official familiar with the IAEA report on Iran.

The report said Tehran would issue instructions for the implementation of the suspension by the first week of March.

In October, Iran agreed to suspend enrichment. But a dispute erupted when Tehran interpreted the suspension in the narrowest possible sense. While it stopped enriching uranium -- a process of purifying it for use as nuclear fuel or in weapons -- it continued manufacturing and assembling enrichment centrifuges.

At stake was the latest IAEA report, which diplomats said was held up for several days at the request of the Big Three to give them time to convince Iran to agree to a full suspension.

An EU diplomatic source said Britain, France and Germany had indicated to Iran that it would get a positive report and the IAEA board might not even adopt any fresh resolution on Iranian compliance issues next month if it agreed to a complete halt.

"It took intensive contacts on Saturday, Sunday and Monday in particular until we got full agreement of the Iranians to a total suspension including the centrifuges," the source said. "Monday was tight."

Diplomats said the suspension was the main topic discussed at a secret meeting in Vienna on Saturday between IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and head of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rohani.


Since last June, the United States has been pushing the IAEA Board of Governors to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions, for hiding its uranium enrichment programme from the IAEA for nearly two decades.

"If there had not been an agreement on total suspension, it could have moved forward to open the (U.N.) sanctions process. But this agreement will allow Iran not to go to the Security Council and maybe not even to have a Board of Governors resolution at all," the EU source said.

Once the report came out, several Western diplomats said Washington was left with little support for a resolution of "non-compliance" with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and for a Council report.

Not surprisingly, the United States has focused on the negative aspects of the report -- that Iran continued to hide technology and research that could be linked to a weapons programme -- saying it only strengthened the U.S. view that Tehran's nuclear power programme is a front for building a bomb.

Iran says it has never pursued a nuclear weapons programme and said it was not obliged to report such research to the U.N.

EU diplomats said the Big Three's strategy was to look to the future and stop Iran from closing the nuclear fuel enrichment cycle rather than focusing on the past. Washington, on the other hand, is unwilling to overlook any defunct weapons-related activities that might have gone on in the past.

But there are nuances of difference among Europe's Big Three, with Germany more inclined to take Iran's word that it has taken a strategic decision not to develop nuclear weapons and no more nasty surprises will be forthcoming, diplomats said.

Britain, on the other hand, was more cautious. British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Tehran on Thursday that he expected full compliance with IAEA rules and an end to its pattern of keeping atomic secrets.

"I want to make it very clear to the Iranian authorities that there must be complete and total compliance with the IAEA," he said.
37 posted on 02/26/2004 4:02:59 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Tony Blair: Britain Wants to Encourage a Process of Change in Iran

February 26, 2004
Nazenin Ansari
Kayhan (London)

Tony Blair expressed "serious concern" about the recent elections in Iran at his monthly news conference in Downing Street today.

In response to the question posed by Kayhan (London) as to whether the British policy of engagement with the regime of the ayatollahs will change in view of the recent unfair and closed elections and the continued breach of trust of the European Union and especially Britain regarding the continuation of the secret nuclear development programme, Mr Blair said: Obviously I would like to see all countries give their people the right to participate in full and free elections. It is sad that so many of the candidates were disqualified from the recent elections in Iraq.

"In the end I think that what countries around the world realise is that if they embrace democracy, the rule of law and human rights, they don't merely become better places to live, they also become more prosperous places."

"We engage for a reason: to make the world more secure, and to try and encourage a process of change in Iran."

Commenting on Iran's nuclear development programme Mr. Blair demanded that the Islamic regime in Iran disclose fully the details of its nuclear programmes to the United Nations atomic watchdog.

"I want to make it very clear to the Iranian authorities that there must be complete and total compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency. There can't be any partial compliance with that. The demands that they have made have to be met, and met in full, and I don't want there to be any doubt about that."

Although Iran appeared to have made a full declaration last October to the Vienna-based IAEA of its nuclear programme, Dr ElBaradei has said that new discoveries of nuclear material, including polonium, a radioactive element that can trigger an atomic chain reaction in a bomb; uranium, enriched to a far greater degree than previously admitted by Tehran; and a design for an advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuge system, called P2, believed to have come from Pakistan.

Tehran has insisted that all its nuclear research has been solely for civilian purposes. That line has been rejected by the US administration, which has always believed that Iran has been engaged in a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

The discovery of polonium, previously undisclosed by Iran, adds to the growing suspicion that Tehran is intent on developing a nuclear bomb. Traces of polonium were discovered at a Tehran research reactor.
38 posted on 02/26/2004 4:04:12 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's nuclear program - The U.S. and EU have to come together

International Herald Tribune - By Ivo Daalder and Michael Levi
Feb 26, 2004

WASHINGTON Early next month, the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of directors will once again meet to consider how to respond to new evidence that Iran has continued to hide significant elements of its nuclear program. Although the board may agree to refer the issue to the UN Security Council, the United States and Europe still differ on how best to respond to Tehran's continuing violation of its nonproliferation obligations.

The trans-Atlantic partners urgently need to coalesce around a long-term strategy for confronting Iran. Such agreement is needed to effectively deter Iranian violations and to keep the prospect of a diplomatic resolution open.

It is needed for a second reason too: This dispute has all the makings of repeating the disastrous fissures that developed over Iraq, except this time Britain appears to be siding with its European partners against the United States. That would be tragic for many reasons, not least because in this particular case there is absolutely no difference between the two sides on the ultimate objective.

Everyone - Europe and the United States as well as Australia, Canada, Japan and even Russia - knows that the consequences of Iran becoming a nuclear power are exceedingly grave.

Tehran's long-range missiles would put much of Europe within reach of a possible nuclear strike. Neighboring states might respond by acquiring deterrent capabilities of their own. And Israel, which has long seen Iran as a serious threat, might decide to strike preemptively, as it did against Iraq in 1981.

To prevent such a dangerous spiral, Iran's nuclear weapons development must be halted. It is not enough that Tehran sign on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty , as it has done. Nor is it sufficient only to allow additional inspections by the IAEA.

As long as Iran has the inherent capability to produce nuclear weapons materials, be it by enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium, it will have the option of following in the footsteps of North Korea - withdrawing from the nonproliferation treaty, ousting the inspectors and finishing a bomb.

Only when the key weapons-material-production parts of the nuclear fuel cycle have been dismantled and destroyed can there be any confidence that Tehran will not become a nuclear power.

Europeans and Americans agree on this goal. Now they need to agree on a common strategy to get there.

The first step must be an agreement to refer the issue to the Security Council, which should warn Iran that its continued failure to fulfill all its nonproliferation obligations constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

Next, the United States and Europe should agree on a common strategy that combines Europe's preference for carrots with America's preference for sticks. They have to agree on a clear set of benchmarks and deadlines for Iran to give up its enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. Tehran's compliance would lead to the economic and technology cooperation that European leaders promised last fall.

At the same time, the United States and Europe would have to draw red lines that Tehran could not cross. And they would have to reach a clear understanding on the kinds of coercive actions they would take in the event of further noncompliance - from economic sanctions through, ultimately, the destruction by force of Iranian nuclear facilities.

The high costs of U.S.-European disagreement over how to deal with Iran are all too obvious. It should not be beyond the capability of U.S. and European diplomats to forge a common strategy.

Ivo Daalder is senior fellow, and Michael Levi is science and technology fellow, in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
39 posted on 02/26/2004 4:05:09 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


As controversy over Iranian nuclear activities grows, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accusing again the Islamic Republic of having failed to inform the United Nations about its ongoing programs, Pakistan said it would not hand over its scientists to the International nuclear watchdog.

"Not being a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Pakistan is not bound to tell the IAEA about all its nuclear activities, Islamabad’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Mas’ood Khan told reporters concerning the alleged transfer of nuclear-related technology to Iran, including parts for enriching uranium by professor Abdol Qadeer Khan, the "father" of Pakistan’s atomic bomb.

On Tuesday, the Vienna-based IAEA said that Iran had not told the Agency that it had designs for sophisticated "P-2" centrifuges for enriching uranium or that it had produced polonium-210, an element that could be used as a "neutron initiator (to start the chain reaction) in some designs of nuclear weapons.

Late last October, Iran agreed with Britain, France and Germany that it would open all its nuclear installations to unrestricted inspections by international experts and suspend uranium-enriching activities.

Masood Khan’s Iranian counterpart, Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran had done research in the past on polonium but stopped 13 years ago. "The report by the IAEA was nothing new", he was quoted by journalists in Tehran.

IAEA Egyptian Chief Mohamed ElBarade’i told reporters Tuesday on a flight from Tripoli to Vienna: "I hope this will be the last time that any aspect of the program has not been declared to us".

The report is to be reviewed when the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors meets March 8 to rule on Iran's cooperation.

Kenneth Brill, U.S. envoy to the IAEA, said the report showed that Iran failed to fully disclose its nuclear activities, as required to, in its October declaration to IAEA.

"The continuing pattern of Iranian deception and delayed admissions about its nuclear activities, as well as specific information in the IAEA report, strengthens our assessment that Iran's nuclear program is not consistent with its stated purpose, but is clearly geared toward the development of nuclear weapons", he said.

But Iran’s main negotiator with the IAEA, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani said the Islamic Republic replied was only working on the design of a P-2 centrifuge, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

"We have other research projects that we haven't declared to the IAEA and we don't consider it necessary to announce it to the agency, either", added Mr. Rohani, who is also the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security, hinting also that Iran might resume uranium enrichment if the world fails to respond to Tehran's suspension of the process.

"Uranium enrichment suspension by Iran was voluntary, and only for the purpose of building confidence", he said, adding: "We have set no timing for the end of suspension ... One day uranium enrichment will be resumed".

In another development, Mr. Khan described as "wild speculation" earlier reports by Pakistani newspapers that Mr. Khalid, the son of Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama Ben Laden’s right hand man had been arrested in the ongoing military operations in Wana, Waziristan, near the Afghan borders.

According to the Jang daily, Khalid al-Zawahiri was arrested in an operation against al-Qa’eda suspects in South Waziristan and was handed over to US custody soon after the arrest and flown out of Pakistan.

But Islamabad refused to confirm the information, stating that it was not possible to give any information about the foreigners arrested during the operation because suspected terrorists might still be hiding in the area.

"The operation to flush out Al Qa’eda militants from Pakistan's territory has not yet ended, although the crackdown in the western border town is over for the time being", Mr. Mas’ood Khan, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry senior spokesman said, adding that investigations were still going on to determine nationality and antecedents of the arrested people.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Khan said the objective of the operation was to "locate and neutralize" any terrorists in the tribal areas and would continue till they were "flushed out and eliminated".

The large-scale operation, involving specially trained men and helicopters are aimed priority at capturing Mr. Ben Laden and several of his men, believed to be hiding in the region, dominated by tribes supporting both the Taleban and al-Qa’eda, the organisation that carried out the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

But experts and specialists said given the publicity about the operations, it would be "surprising" if any of top commanders of the Taleban that ruled over Afghanistan before the military invasion of the country by American forces on November 2001 or the al-Qa’eda are captured.

On Tuesday, General Shaukat Sultan, the Army’s official spokesman announced the capture of some twenty "suspects including foreigners" in the village of Azam Warzak, near Wana, the capital city of Southern Waziristan, where four fomer jihadi commanders who fought the Soviet Union, namely Naik Mohammad, Mohammad Sharif, Maulavi Abbas and Noor al-Islam are supposed to live.

According to the Army, Mr. Naik Mohammad is suspected to be behind the escape of most of the al-Qa’eda men during American massive bombardment of Tora Bora Mountains in Afghanistan, where Ben Laden and his close aides, including Dr. al-Zavahiri were supposed to have taken refuge.

Pakistani and Western sources in Islamabad say President Perviz Musharraf decided the operations under new pressures from Washington, ahead of planned "spring offensive" by American forces in southern Afghanistan to "eradicate" the last bastions of the Taleban, mostly fighters of Mr. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former CIA informant and Afghan Prime Minister who joined hands with Mollah Mohammad Omar, the Taleban’s Chief and Ben Laden.

At the same time, the President General is also under immense pressures from Pakistan’s influential and powerful Muslim parties and senior religious leaders who have tremendous followers among soldiers, officers and even high-ranking commanders, the sources pointed out.

Confirming that a few foreign women were among those arrested during the operation, an ISPR spokesman said that apprehended women were dealt through women police and the jirga (city council of the elders) and they were accorded due respect and had been kept in safe custody.

Commenting on reports regarding demolition of houses of those providing refuge to the "foreigners", the spokesman said it was a local custom that houses of people who provided shelter to foreign elements or involved in anti-state activities, were demolished.

40 posted on 02/26/2004 4:06:50 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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