Iran headgear crackdown
A woman in Tehran. (AFP)
Tehran, Aug. 7 (AFP): Nearly 200 Iranian women wearing head coverings considered insufficient under the countrys Islamic code have been arrested, newspapers reported today.
Iranian security forces launched raids in cities of central Semnan and northern Gilan provinces, arresting 183 women in recent weeks, the reports said.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, all post-pubescent females have been required to wear the veil and a long coat concealing their bodily form, or face fines or imprisonment.
Some 132 badly covered women were picked up in semnan province, the Sharq daily reported, adding that 69 of them face trial.
US asks Iran, Syria to stop 'infiltration'
DUBAI, Aug 7: US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called in remarks published on Saturday on Iran and Syria to stop alleged infiltrations into Iraq, warning Damascus against failing to learn from the "lesson" of the ousting of the Baath party government in Baghdad.
"The accusations against Syria and Iran are linked to the infiltration of combatants across the borders and the lack of control along these borders in the required manner," Mr Armitage told a Saudi newspaper, Al Hayat.
"We are aware that the borders are very long between the countries ... (but) we expect more efforts to control them," he said.
Mr Armitage said the US-led forces were mainly facing "security challenges from rebel elements which are mostly former regime loyalists".
Both Syria and Iran - which have opposed the offensive and the continued occupation of Iraq by foreign troops - have been accused by the United States of supporting guerillas inside Iraq.
US President George Bush on May 11 slapped sanctions on Syria, on grounds that its own Baath government supported terrorism and failed to close its borders to guerillas looking to fight US forces in Iraq.
The sanctions, which come on top of existing US penalties, include a near-blanket ban on US exports to Syria and the power to freeze Syrian assets in the United States.
Mr Armitage said "the Syria Accountability Act ... comes in stages. The first stage comes through pressures, making demands clear and discussing them with the Syrian government".
"In case of a lack of commitment by this government, the policy of sanctions will be implemented and today, we are in the first phase," he said.
"The Syrian government did not show compliance. It did not learn from the lesson of Iraq and the fall of the Baath party there."-AFP
Four Iranians arrested in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Aug 7: Four Iranian intelligence officials have been arrested by Iraqi authorities on suspicion of spying and carrying out acts of sabotage in the country, a spokesman for Iraq's interior ministry said on Saturday.
"The investigation is still continuing. We will announce all the developments," Sabah Kadhim said.
Earlier, the Azzaman newspaper reported that four Iranian intelligence officers had been detained on suspicion of operating spy and sabotage operations out of a Baghdad house.
Forged documents, Iranian intelligence and Iraqi ID cards were confiscated during the arrests, Azzaman quoted an anonymous source as saying.
In Cairo, an Egyptian daily reported interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as advising Iran not to interfere in his country's affairs amid a growing war of words between Baghdad and Tehran.
Defence Minister Hazem al Shaalan told the Washington Post last week that he had seen "clear interference in Iraqi issues by Iran" and accused Tehran of working "to kill democracy" in his country. -AFP
Tehran insists on right to own N-fuel; Iran eyes to improve Shahab-3
TEHRAN (AFP): Iran aims to soon test an improved version of its Shahab-3 medium-range missile, Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said Saturday, following Israel's boosting of its anti-missile missile capability. "We will improve the Shahab-3 and when we test it, in the very short future, we will let you know," what improvements have been made, said the minister, who was quoted by the student news agency ISNA. "These improvements do not only concern its range, but other specifications as well," Shamkhani said, without giving more details. Israel late last month successfully tested its Arrow II anti-missile missile in the United States. It was the seventh time the missile has worked, but the first time it destroyed a real Scud missile.
Israeli officials made it clear the improved anti-missile system was aimed squarely at fending off any attack by Iran, Israel's arch foe. Shamkhani insisted the Shahab-3 was intended for defensive purposes. Tehran fears Israel could strike its controversial nuclear program, which Washington suspects is being used to covertly develop weapons. "The Israelis are trying hard to improve the capacity of their missiles, and we are also trying to improve the Shahab-3 in a short time," he said, denying the Islamic republic was working on a more advanced Shahab-4. Tehran finalised its testing of the Shahab-3 only in June.
The missile, whose name means "meteor" or "shooting star" in Farsi, is thought to be capable of carrying a 1,000 kilogramme (one-ton) warhead at least 1,300 kilometers (800 miles), well within range of Israel. A senior Iranian official again insisted in remarks published Saturday that Tehran would not give up its right to produce its own nuclear fuel, which other countries fear will be diverted to military purposes. "That is something that Iran will not accept and Iran strongly resisted it in negotiations in Paris" with European states last month, Hossein Moussavian, was quoted as saying by the Tehran Times. Moussavian said the talks on July 29 and 30 "had reached a very complicated and difficult stage" but added that "the negotiators are determined to continue their talks." The Europeans had told Iran "we recognise your right to possess peaceful (nuclear technology) and we give an international guarantee to provide you with nuclear fuel and facilitate your efforts to gain access to nuclear technology," he said.
But they had added that "since the fuel cycle in Iran may be diverted toward a nuclear weapons program in the future, we want you to relinquish it as a confidence building measure." This was unacceptable to Tehran, Moussavian said. On Wednesday Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi asserted the Islamic republic had a "legitimate right" to enrich uranium, the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle that the country is under pressure to abandon. "We will lobby for our rights in the international community to deal with the negative atmosphere our enemies have created against Iran," Kharazi was quoted as saying by the state news agency Irna.
"We will never allow the enemy to trample upon our legitimate rights enshrined in the international conventions," he added. The European Union's "big three" Ð Britain, France and Germany Ð have been pressing Iran to cease working on the nuclear fuel cycle in exchange for increased trade and cooperation and the guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel from abroad.
Iranian President: Press freedom depends on national power structure
Tehran, Aug 7, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami said on Saturday that freedom of expression and journalists depends on the national power structure.
He said in his message to a ceremony held at Vahdat Hall to mark 'Journalists Day` that modern life needs healthy media system and press freedom.
"Press freedom will be available if the press community enjoys political immunity and the journalists are provided with job security," President Khatami said.
Minister of Culture and the Islamic Guidance Ahmad Masjed Jamei read out the president's message to the ceremony.
The president regretted that he was on a visit abroad (Baku) and he could not attend the ceremony.
"I have been deprived of taking part in the ceremony marking the 'Journalists Day`. I regard myself as a member of the press community and I am grateful to see that the Journalists Day being honored with high esteem," he said.
The president said that freedom of expression and the journalists are the complementary to the cultural development.
He said that there are weaknesses in terms of legal support for press freedom and hence the cultural development.
"The status of the press in a community indicates the strength and weakness of political system and to what extent the community enjoys cultural development," President Khatami said.
"I hope that in light of the insight of the distinguished journalists and the patience to be observed by the statesmen, freedom of expression will be respected by enforcing legal provisions to a level that the great Iranian nation deserve," President Khatami said.
Official report: Two-third of Iranian youth unsatisfied with administration
Aug. 5 Two-third of the Iranian youth is unsatisfied with the Islamic administration of Iran, the Tehran press on Thursday quoted an official report as saying.
The report, carried by the students' news agency ISNA, referred to the lack of transparency in the executive powers authorities as one of the main reasons for the dissatisfaction of the youth.
According to Irans constitution, the government is the main executive power but the final say is with the supreme religious leadership, currently in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989.
Also in the parliament, all approved bills must be reconfirmed by the Guardian Council which mainly consists of conservative clerics.
Efforts by President Khatami and his reformists in the last eight years to approve the authorities of the democratically-elected bodies like government and parliament and diminish the power of bodies whose officials are just appointed, failed.
The report, which was presented to the presidential office, further referred to rapid growth of the young population in Iran and said the growth will stand at 3.7 per cent in the year 2006.
Out of Irans total population of about 67 million, more than 70 per cent are under the age of 30 facing not only educational and employment problems but also social restrictions due to strict Islamic regulations.
According to the report, only eight per cent of the young population has found its way to higher education facilities with girls forming 51 per cent of the total students.
While most of the youth are unemployed, even those 54 per cent having a job are unhappy with it, the report said.
Due to economic problems, the average age for marriage has increased from 25 to 27 for men and from 18 to almost 24 for women.
Iranian officials from both reformist and conservative wings have several times warned that the problems of the youth might be a potential political powder keg which might one day explode and seriously endanger the Islamic system./-