Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- June 8, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 06/07/2004 9:00:58 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. Most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
Iran: Torture Used to Suppress Dissent
June 07, 2004
Human Rights News
Human Rights Watch
"Like the Dead in Their Coffins"
Torture, Detention, and the Crushing of Dissent in Iran
June 2004 Vol. 16, No. 2(E)
The Iranian government has intensified its campaign of torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions against political critics, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Iran's outgoing reformist parliament in May passed legislation to prohibit torture, but without effective implementation, the law remains an empty gesture.
The 73-page report, "Like the Dead in Their Coffins: Torture, Detention, and the Crushing of Dissent in Iran," provides the first comprehensive account of the treatment of political detainees in Tehran's Evin Prison and in secret prisons around the capital since the government launched its current crackdown in 2000. Human Rights Watch has documented systematic abuses against political detainees, including arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, torture to extract confessions, prolonged solitary confinement, and physical and psychological abuse.
"Claims that reforms in Iran have put an end to torture are simply false," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division. "More than ever, journalists, intellectuals and activists are afraid to voice opinions critical of the government."
The Iranian government's use of these harsh techniques has largely squelched the country's political opposition and independent media. Faced with increasing political pressure for reform in the past four years, the government has intensified its campaign against dissent. As of June, the government has closed virtually all independent newspapers, several key journalists and writers have fled the country, many prominent writers and activists have been imprisoned, and scores of student activists have been intimidated into ending their involvement in peaceful political activity.
While newspaper closures in Iran have received wide media attention, the story of the abuses that journalists, intellectuals and protestors have endured in detention has never been fully told.
The report documents the systematic use of prolonged solitary confinement as a tool to break the will of dissidents, and as a means to extract forced confessions. Individuals interviewed for the report, including a number of writers and journalists, told Human Rights Watch about brutal interrogations in which they were blindfolded, physically threatened, and forced to recant their political views. Former detainees also described basement solitary cells where they were left for weeks at a time without any human contact, and threats by judges that if they did not confess, they would be held in solitary confinement indefinitely.
Student activists told Human Rights Watch about physical torture experienced at the hands of plainclothes security and intelligence agents. The report documents cases of beatings, long confinement in contorted positions, kicking detainees with military boots, hanging detainees by the arms and legs, and threats of execution if individuals refused to confess.
The report also describes in detail the plainclothes intelligence agencies that work for the judiciary and are directly responsible for detaining and torturing those who criticize the government. These agencies often operate outside of, or parallel to, the established administrative structure of government and report directly to Iran's religious leadership. The members of these "parallel forces," whom former detainees describe as foot soldiers in the campaign against dissent, have not been held accountable for their acts.
Human Rights Watch documented the participation of judges in interrogation roomsoften in secret prisonsoverseeing abusive and coercive interrogations, interceding with detainees and urging them to sign false confessions, and even issuing threats of their own. A number of judicial authorities, especially Chief Prosecutor Said Mortazavi, have blatantly abandoned their duty to fairly administer justice and instead are known for ordering the torture of political detainees.
A number of former detainees reported that they were treated more harshly after requesting the aid of defense counsel, or inquiring as to the legal status of their cases.
The report called on the European Union to increase pressure on Iran to take strong steps to end torture and ill-treatment in detention and restore freedom of expression. The ongoing EU-Iran human rights dialogue will have its next meeting in Tehran on June 14 and 15. The dialogue, entering its third year, has failed to achieve any tangible results. In fact, the human rights situation in Iran has markedly deteriorated since the inception of the dialogue.
"The European Union's weak response to continuing human rights violations in Iran is deeply disturbing," said Whitson, "It's time for the European Union to condemn Iran's record of persecution and torture and to set real benchmarks that the government must meet."
Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian government to release all political prisoners and effectively prohibit torture immediately.
The current crackdown began in April 2000 after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei gave a speech targeting the independent press for being a "stronghold for the enemy." In 2002 and 2003, the Iranian government turned the focus of its repression on political activists. It responded to a series of student protests across Iran with several thousand arrests. The government's campaign of repression fed on itself: as more and more newspapers were closed down, there were fewer and fewer avenues to publicize abuses by the government. The rapid decline in publicly available information about the government's practices gave Iranian authorities an even freer hand to engage in abuse, and the government took full advantage of the lack of scrutiny.
Testimonies from "Like the Dead in Their Coffins"
Hossein T., an Iranian university student and activist
Twice they took me to the courtyard in Evin, where the executions are carried out. They tied my feet. They took off my blindfold. One man was saying: "Tell me why you lied. Tell me what you did." They hung me from my feet, and they put a bag over my head. For what I think was 30 minutes, they were kicking me and hitting me. They hit my chin, and the skin broke. Blood began to fill the bag that was tied over my head. Blood began to drip on the floor, and this is when they stopped.
The second time they took me in there, they hung me from my hands. They used a baton to beat my torso. They broke my hand, and I fell unconscious. When I regained consciousness, they said, "If you say you lied, we will stop." I could not speak. It is not because I am brave that I did not confess, it is because I couldn't talk.
Massoud B., an Iranian journalist and writer
In the first few hours, it is very hard. You have never been this close to walls in your life. You don't want to sit, because it is chalk, and you are not used to sitting on chalk. You stand. You pace. You start to get dizzy. After you get dizzy, you lean on a wall. After three or four hours, your legs get tired, and you sit. And then you scream and no one hears you.
And you feel like they are holding you, like they are physically holding on to you. Your hair and nails grow faster. A lot of prisoners say that solitary is like being like "the dead in their coffins" because we had heard that the dead's nails grow in their coffins. Even if they had given me something to read, they had taken my glasses. Even if I had had my glasses, there wasn't enough light.
In Brussels, Jean-Paul Marthoz: +32-2-732-2009
In London, Urmi Shah: +44-20-7713-2788
In Washington D.C., Joe Stork: +1-202-612-4327
To the Office of the Leader
On Unlawful Arrest and Detention
On Torture and Ill-Treatment
On Administration of Justice
To the Guardian Council
To the European Union
To the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel and Inhuman Punishment
Arbitrary Arrest and Detention
Detention Centers and Ill-Treatment
Parallel Forces and Illegal Detention Centers
White Torture: The Use of Solitary
Encounters with the Judiciary
Denial of right to counsel and right to prepare a defense
Denial of the Right to Appeal
The Independent Press and the Prisoners
The Article 90 Commission
A Bleak Future
Iran's Sex Slaves Suffer Hideously Under Mullahs
Posted June 8, 2004
By Donna M. Hughes
A measure of Islamic fundamentalists' success in controlling society is the depth and totality with which they suppress the freedom and rights of women. In Iran for 25 years, the ruling mullahs have enforced humiliating and sadistic rules and punishments on women and girls, enslaving them in a gender apartheid system of segregation, forced veiling, second-class status, lashing and stoning to death.
Joining a global trend, the fundamentalists have added another way to dehumanize women and girls: buying and selling them for prostitution. Exact numbers of victims are impossible to obtain, but according to an official source in Tehran, there has been a 635 percent increase in the number of teen-age girls in prostitution. The magnitude of this statistic conveys how rapidly this form of abuse has grown. In Tehran, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in prostitution, many of them are on the streets, others are in the 250 brothels that reportedly operate in the city. The trade is also international: Thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad.
The head of Iran's Interpol bureau believes that the sex-slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today. This criminal trade is not conducted outside the knowledge and participation of the ruling fundamentalists. Government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling and sexually abusing women and girls.
Many of the girls come from impoverished rural areas. Drug addiction is epidemic throughout Iran, and some addicted parents sell their children to support their habits. High unemployment -- 28 percent for youth 15 to 29 years of age, and 43 percent for women 15 to 20 years of age -- is a serious factor in driving restless youth to accept risky offers for work. Slave traders take advantage of any opportunity in which women and children are vulnerable. For example, following the recent earthquake in Bam, orphaned girls have been kidnapped and taken to a known slave market in Tehran where Iranian and foreign traders meet.
Popular destinations for victims of the slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf. According to the head of the Tehran province judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17, although there are reports of some girls as young as 8 and 10, to send to Arab countries. One ring was discovered after an 18-year-old girl escaped from a basement where a group of girls were held before being sent to Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The number of Iranian women and girls who are deported from Persian Gulf countries indicates the magnitude of the trade. Upon their return to Iran, the Islamic fundamentalists blame the victims, and often physically punish and imprison them. The women are examined to determine if they have engaged in "immoral activity." Based on the findings, officials can ban them from leaving the country again.
Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France, Britain and Turkey as well. One network based in Turkey bought smuggled Iranian women and girls, gave them fake passports, and transported them to European and Persian Gulf countries. In one case, a 16-year-old girl was smuggled to Turkey, and then sold to a 58-year-old European national for $20,000.
In the northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan, local police report that girls are being sold to Pakistani men as sex slaves. The Pakistani men marry the girls, ranging in age from 12 to 20, and then sell them to brothels called "Kharabat" in Pakistan. One network was caught contacting poor families around Mashad and offering to marry girls. The girls were then taken through Afghanistan to Pakistan where they were sold to brothels.
In the southeastern border province of Sistan Baluchestan, thousands of Iranian girls reportedly have been sold to Afghan men. Their final destinations are unknown.
One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex-slave trade is the number of teen girls who are running away from home. The girls are rebelling against fundamentalist-imposed restrictions on their freedom, domestic abuse and parental drug addictions. Unfortunately, in their flight to freedom, the girls find more abuse and exploitation. Ninety percent of girls who run away from home will end up in prostitution. As a result of runaways, in Tehran alone there are an estimated 25,000 street children, most of them girls. Pimps prey upon street children, runaways and vulnerable high-school girls in city parks. In one case, a woman was discovered selling Iranian girls to men in Persian Gulf countries; for four years, she had hunted down runaway girls and sold them. She even sold her own daughter for $11,000.
Given the totalitarian rule in Iran, most organized activities are known to the authorities. The exposure of sex-slave networks in Iran has shown that many mullahs and officials are involved in the sexual exploitation and trade of women and girls. Women report that in order to have a judge approve a divorce they have to have sex with him. Women who are arrested for prostitution say they must have sex with the arresting officer. There are reports of police locating young women for sex for the wealthy and powerful mullahs.
In cities, shelters have been set up to provide assistance for runaways. Officials who run these shelters are often corrupt; they run prostitution rings using the girls from the shelter. For example in Karaj, the former head of a Revolutionary Tribunal and seven other senior officials were arrested in connection with a prostitution ring that used 12- to 18-year-old girls from a shelter called the Center of Islamic Orientation.
Other instances of corruption abound. There was a judge in Karaj who was involved in a network that identified young girls to be sold abroad. And in Qom, the center for religious training in Iran, when a prostitution ring was broken up, some of the people arrested were from government agencies, including the Department of Justice.
The ruling fundamentalists have differing opinions on their official position on the sex trade: deny and hide it or recognize and accommodate it. In 2002, a BBC journalist was deported for taking photographs of prostitutes. Officials told her: "We are deporting you ... because you have taken pictures of prostitutes. This is not a true reflection of life in our Islamic Republic. We don't have prostitutes." Yet, earlier the same year, officials of the Social Department of the Interior Ministry suggested legalizing prostitution as a way to manage it and control the spread of HIV. They proposed setting up brothels, called "morality houses," and using the traditional religious custom of temporary marriage, in which a couple can marry for a short period of time, even an hour, to facilitate prostitution. Islamic fundamentalists' ideology and practices are adaptable when it comes to controlling and using women.
Some may think a thriving sex trade in a theocracy with clerics acting as pimps is a contradiction in a country founded and ruled by Islamic fundamentalists. In fact, this is not a contradiction. First, exploitation and repression of women are closely associated. Both exist where women, individually or collectively, are denied freedom and rights. Second, the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran are not simply conservative Muslims. Islamic fundamentalism is a political movement with a political ideology that considers women inherently inferior in intellectual and moral capacity. Fundamentalists hate women's minds and bodies. Selling women and girls for prostitution is just the dehumanizing complement to forcing women and girls to cover their bodies and hair with the veil.
In a religious dictatorship like Iran, one cannot appeal to the rule of law for justice for women and girls. Women and girls have no guarantees of freedom and rights, and no expectation of respect or dignity from the Islamic fundamentalists. Only the end of the Iranian regime will free women and girls from all the forms of slavery they suffer.
Dr. Donna M. Hughes is a professor and holds the Carlson Endowed Chair in Women's Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She wishes to acknowledge the Iranian human-rights and pro-democracy activists who contributed information for this article. If readers have information on prostitution and the sex-slave trade in Iran, contact Hughes at email@example.com. Read more at: www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/.
Defeating Global Jihad: Reagan Showed the Way
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 7, 2004
Mark Steyn reminds us that only Reagan could have stood there and declared without embarrassment: Tear down this wall! In the warm glow of this weeks encomia its easy to miss the reason why anyone might have felt embarrassed at all. With the dreaded wall long made into paperweights, its easy to forget that before (and during, largely) the age of Reagan, the idea that Communism was evil, and the Soviet Union an evil empire, was, among the intelligentsia in America and Western Europe, in the worst possible taste.
It should be remembered today that the vicious caricature of the amiable dunce that dogged Reagan throughout his political career originated in great part not from any bumbling or forgetfulness on his part, but from what the media and political establishment regarded as the sheer outrageousness of his political views. In the eyes of the elite, Reagan was primitive and limited primarily because he lacked the sophistication and intelligence necessary to see that the United States and the Soviet Union were essentially the same; talk of good and evil, or of the rights of man, was only rhetorical fodder for the lumpenproletariat, nothing more. No one, the pundits huffed, with even a rudimentary grasp of the subtleties and necessities of realpolitik would dare use such moral language to describe the Cold War. How dare he depart from the gospel of moral equivalence that the media establishment had dinned into the ears of the reluctant faithful for decades? You just couldnt say the things that Ronald Reagan said, and his success so stunned and enraged his opponents that all they could do was try to smear him as a puppet and a fool.
The same scenario is playing out today. America is once again locked in a death struggle with a relentless totalitarian foe about which most people are reluctant to tell the truth. Substitute Islamophobe for Red-baiter, and you can adapt learned political analyses from the 1970s by the ton for use today.
Except for a few small details. It is a great failing of our age that there is no Ronald Reagan on the scene. Todays stifling orthodoxy remains largely unchallenged. Not just liberal publications and spokesmen, but conservatives who claim to wear Reagans mantle temporize and dissimulate about our current despotic antagonist in a way that the man himself would have found contemptible. Leaders and pundits must cling to fond fictions about Islam being a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists. They thus pass up the opportunity to call for a worldwide reform of Islam that starts by identifying the elements of Islam that give rise to violence and extremism and finishes by repudiating those elements, so that Muslims and non-Muslims can live in peace as equals.
How do you tell a Communist? Reagan asked in 1987. Well, its someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? Its someone who understands Marx and Lenin. How do you tell a jihadist? Well, a contemporary Reagan might say, its someone who reads the Quran and Sunnah. How do you tell an anti-jihadist? Its someone who understands how these Islamic texts are used to recruit and motivate terrorists and who is willing to call upon self-proclaimed moderate Muslims to face this fact and initiate an honest, definitive and thoroughgoing reform. And if they will not? Then at least they should know that the lines have been drawn, and that the lovers of freedom are not going to stand for more mayhem wrought by those who would enclose non-Muslims and women behind a wall of oppression.
If Islam is no part of the problem, such reform cannot be part of the solution. By vilifying and attempting to marginalize those who dare tell the truth about Islamic radicalism as Reagan did about Communism, todays intelligentsia provides ample cover to radical Islamic terrorists, allowing them to operate under the radar screen of media scrutiny and even law enforcement.
Freedom is under attack by the warriors of jihad; the battle lines do indeed resemble those of the Cold War. There are very useful analogies to be drawn between communism and Islam, says Ibn Warraq. Communism has been defeated, at least for the moment; Islamism has not, and unless a reformed, tolerant, liberal kind of Islam emerges soon, perhaps the final battle will be between Islam and Western democracy.
This is the war were in now. If only we had a Reagan to fight it.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery Publishing), and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the Worlds Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books).
Reagan critics decry glowing tributes
By Steve Miller
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
June 8th 2004
Much of the world remembers Ronald Reagan as a friend and a historic president, but some writers and activists are vilifying the late president.
Hollywood actor Danny Glover said Mr. Reagan would be remembered most for the Iran-Contra scandal, in which he approved the sales of weapons to Iran and funneled proceeds to guerrillas in Nicaragua.
"We all know Reagan's legacy, from the Iran-Contra affair to the funding of the Nicaraguan military, in which over 200,000 people died," Mr. Glover said at a Sunday rally in Los Angeles to protest U.S. involvement in Iraq. "The groundwork for the move steadily to the right happened with the Reagan administration. People want to elevate him to some mythic level. They have their own reason for doing that."
Christopher Hitchens, in a column for the online journal Slate (www.slate.com), said Mr. Reagan was "dumb as a stump" and "a cruel and stupid lizard."
Liberal author Greg Palast begins a column on his Web site (www.gregpalast.com) with, "You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to."
Mr. Palast blamed Mr. Reagan for the 1983 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon. "Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance," the column ends.
On his Web site (www.rall.com), cartoonist Ted Rall said of Mr. Reagan: "I'm sure he's turning crispy brown right about now."
"A real piece of work, Reagan ruined the federal budget, trashed education, alienated our friends and allies and made us a laughing stock around the world," wrote Mr. Rall, author of "Wake Up, You're Liberal: How We Can Take America Back From the Right."
In a column on the Web site of Black Entertainment Television (www.bet.com), Joe Davidson praised Mr. Reagan for signing the legislation for Martin Luther King Day and said "he liked horses."
But the columnist called Mr. Reagan's two terms "a long and dreary night for African Americans" and said Mr. Reagan "supported racism with remarks like those that characterized poor, black women as 'welfare queens' " and "appointed conservative judges, like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who continue to issue rulings to the detriment of African Americans."
In a column yesterday, Editor and Publisher senior editor Joe Strupp scolded newspapers for treating Mr. Reagan softly in their remembrances.
"The overwhelming praise for a president who plunged the nation into its worst deficit ever, ignored and cut public money for the poor while also ignoring the AIDS crisis, is a bit tough to take," he wrote.
Activists for homosexuals also criticized Mr. Reagan, whom they blamed for being slow to respond to the AIDS epidemic.
"Ronnie will spend eternity in hell for his treachery," wrote Robert Kunst, a Florida-based activist.
"Reagan was one of the most despicable presidents," wrote Mr. Kunst, adding that Mr. Reagan was "responsible for 500,000 American AIDS deaths and 10 million worldwide, while he catered to the right wing in this country, and then also disgraced America by going to Bitburg, Germany, in August 1985, to honor the SS. Nazis murderers buried there."
Iran, IAEA Still Far Apart on Nuclear Program
Arms Control Today
outstanding issues between them so that a final solution can be reached at the meeting.
But IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, who is preparing a final report for the board on whether Iran has followed through on its safeguards agreement with the agency, told CNN May 16 that the jury is still out on whether Irans nuclear programs are exclusively for peaceful purposes and that Iran should be more forthcoming in cooperating with the IAEAs ongoing investigation. (See ACT, May 2004.)
Under the joint action plan reached between Iran and the IAEA, Iran pledged to provide the agency with detailed information about its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program by the end of April and to deliver by mid-May a declaration required by the additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. Tehran has submitted the former but not the latter, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hamid-Reza Assefi told reporters May 16.
Safeguards agreements authorize the IAEA to verify that states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) are not diverting civilian nuclear activities to military purposes. The additional protocol requires Iran to provide significantly more information about its nuclear activities to the IAEA than its original safeguards agreement and provides the agency with more authority to verify the declaration. Iran has signed the agreement and has pledged to act as if it were in force until it is approved by the Majlis, Irans parliament. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)
The April pledge was Irans most recent promise to cooperate with the IAEA, which has been investigating allegations made public in August 2002 that Iran was pursuing clandestine nuclear activities. The IAEA board has adopted several resolutions urging Iran to cooperate, most recently in March, and is still seeking Irans full cooperation in providing information about its nuclear programs.
As part of an October agreement with the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, Iran agreed to suspend activities related to its uranium-enrichment programs. Tehran announced that it had completed the suspension in April. Tehran also agreed in October to conclude an additional protocol and cooperate with the agencys investigation.
Irans centrifuge programs have caused the most concern. Gas centrifuges have civilian uses, but can also produce highly enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons.
After the board condemned Iran for violating its safeguards agreement by secretly testing centrifuges with nuclear material, agency inspectors found additional evidence suggesting that Iran has undertaken other undisclosed enrichment activities and conducted work on a more advanced type of centrifuge. (See ACT, March 2004.)
ElBaradei said in a May 14 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations that the agency does not yet have proof that Iran has enriched uranium to the military level.
Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf told Arms Control Today May 13 that Iran is still moving in the direction of a nuclear weapons capability and that the United States has good reason to believe Iran is not complying with its additional protocol (see page 14). Wolf did not elaborate, except to say that this belief is not based on intelligence information.
Further complicating the matter, ElBaradeis report may not provide a complete picture of Irans nuclear activities because test results from samples taken from some inspected facilities may not be available in time for the report. Department of State officials have blamed the delay on Irans March decision to postpone a visit by IAEA inspectors. (See ACT, April 2004.)
Washington is still mulling over its strategy for the IAEA board meeting. A State Department official interviewed May 17 stated that the United States will probably want the board to adopt a resolution condemning Irans behavior. The U.S. position on the content of such a resolution will depend on the detail and tone of ElBaradeis report, which will be influential in shaping the views of other board members, the State Department official said.
The United States has previously said the board should declare Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreementa finding that requires the board to refer the matter to the UN Security Council. The United States has failed once to persuade the board to declare Iran in noncompliance.
Washington may instead encourage the IAEA board to say it cannot verify Irans suspension of its centrifuge program because of the countrys demonstrated ability to manufacture relevant components at various locations throughout the country, a State Department official said last month.
Wolf did not say what the United States wants the Security Council to do in the event Iran is referred for noncompliance, nor would he comment on a possible U.S. response in the event that the Security Council fails to act.
TEHRAN (AFP) - The millions of residents of the Iranian capital, all housed on top of a string of seismic faultlines, had up until recently taken their geophysical predicament with a mixture of apathy and sheer ignorance.
But since an earthquake measuring up to 6.1 on the Richter scale jolted the mountains to the north of the shoddy, sprawling city, fears of a looming catastrophe of biblical proportions have set in.
The May 28 earthquake, which measured between 5.5 and 6.1 on the Richter scale, killed 35 people and injured more than 200 in two provinces crossed by the vast Alborz mountain range.
But alarmingly, the quake also shook Tehran. For several seconds, walls vibrated as if a heavy truck was speeding past right outside the door, cracks appeared in the plaster and windows were shattered.
Residents were sent running out onto the streets, with those living in high-rise blocks realising the evacuation took quite long without using an elevator. Thousands chose to spend the night outdoors.
The following day, newspapers carried images of cars crushed by rocks on the main mountain road to the Caspian Sea coast, a popular destination for Tehranis.
With memories of the mass death and destruction of the December earthquake in Bam still fresh, it appears -- for the time being at least -- that the very real dangers of a quake in Tehran have been brought home.
But with fear has come rumour.
With aftershocks still rumbling, news that a quake would hit Tehran on Friday, May 29 at precisely 4:00 pm spread like wildfire. The source of the rumour was supposedly state media, and prompted yet more evacuations.
The truth, however, is hard to bear for many.
"It is impossible to predict the power and timing of an earthquake," insisted Mohsen Ghafori Ashtiani, president of Iran's Seismological Institute.
"These rumours are completely false," added Mahmoud Fatemi Aghda, director of the Natural Disasters Institute. "Since March, the faults under Tehran have not moved."
While last Friday's catastrophe never happened, and even though the experts have been on the air waves urging calm, the rumours keep doing the rounds.
Yet another quake was supposed to come on Wednesday, June 2, with the prediction falsely attributed to a professor, Mohammad Reza Rahimi Tabar, at Sharif university -- one of the capital's most prestigious learning institutions.
Despite yet more denials that the faultlines under Tehran had been "activated" by a tremor in a province to the east, hundreds of students there chose to spend a night under the stars rather than risk being crushed by collapsing dormitories.
The local press has also latched onto the website (http://quake.exit.com) of Zhonghao Shou, a Chinese scientist living in California, who claims he can predict earthquakes by cloud formations apparently caused by the heat given off by strained seismic faults.
As a result, the clouds above the capital are beginning to interest people.
One local press agency then reassured people by claiming there would not be another earthquake within three days. And the pundits are now expecting the worst to come on Tuesday, June 8.
Some people are latching onto the rather alarming statistic that a quake can be expected in Tehran every 150 years.
The last one, residents have noted with trepidation, occurred 170 years ago. This makes it all a question of "when", and not "if".
For when the big one does come, Tehran's residents can be assured of a total catastrophe. According to various studies, notably by Japanese experts, a quake measuring over 6 degrees on the Richter scale could kill more than one million of greater Tehran's 12 million people.
"Since one week, our car is full of water, blankets, biscuits and canned food," explained Ahmad, a young resident here.
But aside from making the obvious preparations, the fear also appears to have sparked some deeper soul-searching, and a new look at a capital marred by anarchic building practices where developers have placed scores of high-rise apartment blocks -- mostly cobbled together by cheap Afghan labour -- on top of seismic faults.
"People are afraid," admitted one local property agent. "They are not buying apartments. The market was stagnating a bit before, but now it's worse."
TEHRAN (AFP) - European fans of the Iranian pistachio will be able to continue savouring their nibbles for several more months, during which the Islamic republic must ease EU fears over health risks.
Iran's pistachio industry had been in turmoil, with its product close to being slapped with a ban in the the European Union.
The head of Tehran's Chamber of Commerce (news - web sites), Mohammad Reza Behzadian, said that in April Brussels gave Iran 40 days to cut aflatoxin levels in the greenish-red split shell nuts.
Aflatoxin is a substance found in mold and has been linked to cancer in the liver and kidneys. Along with nuclear proliferation, human rights abuses and terrorism, the topic has ranked among the top issues being discussed with the European bloc.
The fear of a ban prompted fresh talks in late May, where Iran reportedly earned a reprieve.
"Iran has committed itself to reduce contamination," explained Behrouz Qaybi, the head of the pistachio unit at the Iranian agriculture ministry.
Iranian sources said the EU has now given Iran six more months to reduce from 16 to 10 percent the quantity of consignments rejected by the EU, which currently tests all imports.
In return, the EU has promised technical expertise in the production chain, especially in the handling process where mold can develop. The ultimate aim is to end the present checks on all shipments and replace them with random testing.
"The EU is closely watching Iran's performance and will let us know later how they see the situation," said one official from Iran's Nut Exporters Union.
The EU applies the some of the strictest regulations in the world on acceptable aflatoxin levels -- four parts per billion as opposed to 10-15 ppb in most other importers -- which Iran complains is unfair.
In 1997, the EU suspended imports for three months after detecting contamination 200 times above the norm.
Iran is the world's number one pistachio producer, claiming to hold 50 percent of the market. Pistachios, along with carpets, caviar and saffron, are a source of national pride and a top non-oil export.
An EU ban would not be a fatal blow, given that only around 16 percent of Iranian production goes to the EU.
However, the fact that a small but sizable percentage of these exports are being rejected means that shipping costs are increased and the nuts are being sold on to third countries at half price, Nut Exporters Union head Mohammad Hassan Shamsfard said.
An export increase last year saw the salty nuts overtake the carpet industry -- a sector that has hit the doldrums amid tougher competition -- as the number-one non-oil export.
With competition from the United States also increasing, the label of cancer risk could deal a major image blow, placing at risk the current 803 million dollars in annual revenue.
"When a consignment is rejected, we have to pay the client back, and the client will then look for another supplier," said Hossein Niku, director of the Amin Padidar pistachio company.
And exporters are also complaining that political concerns are beginning to hit the pistachio trade.
"One diplomat told me that Iran would be better off to start looking at the nuclear problem," one exporter said.
That is scary!
I am sorry for the people of Tehran and mad at their government which doesn't care about the people.
Is this delicious?
Free Iran bump
LoL...I like your tag line.
The sky is falling......
There's a lot of bad people in pistachios, so I can't say I'd be sorry to see them lose their shirts. But I know it would affect the economy there, so I have mixed feelings.
Have you by any chance heard of the book "Strange birds from Zoroaster's nest"?
Another reason why I love FR - the Recipes!
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