Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 17, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 10/16/2004 9:14:14 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely 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. As a result, 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. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
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.
Oct. 16, 2004 21:34
Iran said Saturday it would reject any proposal depriving it of the right to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel, part of a package Washington's European allies are proposing to avoid a showdown over Iran's nuclear program.
The European countries notified the United States on Friday that they intend to offer Iran a package of economic concessions and technological assistance next week in the hopes of persuading Tehran to permanently give up its uranium-enrichment program.
The US administration withheld its approval of the overture.
"Iran will not accept any proposal which deprives it of the legitimate right to the cycle of (nuclear) fuel," state-run television quoted Hossein Mousavian, a top nuclear official, as saying.
However, Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iran would study any proposal that would end concerns over Tehran's nuclear program as long as it respected Iran's right to enrich uranium.
The key European powers agreed with the US administration at a three-hour State Department meeting Friday that the package would be Iran's final chance to avert a showdown at the UN Security Council, which could impose economic sanctions, a US official said.
Diplomats close to the talks said the European package of incentives included fuel for Iran's civilian programs and a trade arrangement with the European Union.
The US government has lacked the necessary votes on the Security Council to impose sanctions because Britain, France and Germany were negotiating with Tehran in search of a compromise.
While the Americans didn't endorse the offer to Tehran, they also did not try to stop the Europeans from going ahead with it, said the US official, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.
Last month, the IAEA's board of governors unanimously passed a resolution demanding that Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment, including uranium reprocessing and building centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
The IAEA will meet November 25 to judge Iran's compliance.
Iran has said the agency has no authority to ban it from enriching uranium, a right granted under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. However, while not prohibited from enrichment, Iran faces growing international pressure to suspend such activities as a good-faith gesture.
Defying the IAEA call, Mousavian told the AP earlier this month that Iran has converted a few tons of raw uranium into a hexafluoride gas, a stage prior to actual uranium enrichment.
Uranium hexafluoride gas is the material that, in the next stage, is fed into centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Uranium enriched to a low level is used to produce nuclear fuel to generate electricity, and enriched further can be used to manufacture atomic bombs.
Iraqi police arrest 135 infiltrators from Iran
|www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-17 05:51:43|
BAGHDAD, Oct. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraqi police have arrested 135 Afghanis and Pakistanis who infiltrated from the Iraqi-Iranian border, the Al Sabah Al Jadid newspaper reported on Saturday.
"Border guards forces, a department of the Iraqi police, carriedout a search campaign in villages and border areas with Iran and arrested 135 infiltrators carrying Afghani and Pakistani nationalities," a police source was quoted as saying.
The interim Iraqi government has accused Iran of being behind many of sabotage and explosions in Iraq and of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.
Mohamed Al Shahwani, head of the Iraqi intelligence, has recently accused Iran of recruiting elements of the Supreme Assembly of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, headed by Abdelaziz Hakim, to carry out sabotage acts and assassinations of intelligence members.
He has also accused 27 people working in the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad of coordinating spying operations and assassinations in Iraq. Enditem
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Navys four ships and a submarine reached the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on Friday as part of a goodwill and training tour of the Persian Gulf.
The Iranian First Naval Zone commander, Pakistans Ambassador Iqbal Ahmad Khan and Naval Attache Captain Khalid Saeed welcomed Pakistani guests, said a message from Pakistans Embassy in Tehran on Saturday.
The Pakistan Navy ships, PNS Mohafiz, PNS Shujaat, PNS Larkana, PNS Kalmat and the Agosta submarine Saad reached Bandar Abbas on October 15 after visiting Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. During their three-day visit to Iran, the Pakistan naval staff will interact with the Iranian Navy besides playing sports and sight seeing.
Iran says it won't stop enriching uranium
TEHRAN - Iran said yesterday it would reject any proposal to halt uranium enrichment, a step European Union diplomats are proposing to end a row over whether Iran is reaching for atomic weapons.
EU diplomats have said they are seeking U.S. and Russian support for a deal that would ask Iran to give up uranium enrichment in return for technical and economic assistance.
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2004
PARIS, 16 Oct. (IPS) Almost two months after having hanged a 16 years-old girl, the ruling Iranian ayatollahs are to commit another human crime by condemning another young girl to stoning.
According to Iranian and foreign press, Zhila Izadi, a 13 years old girl from the north-western city of Marivan had been condemned to death by stoning after being found that she had been pregnant from her 15 years-old brother.
The independent Iranian online newspaper Peyke Iran (www.peykeiran.com) that had first revealed the news last week reported on Saturday 16 October 2004 that the girl has given birth two weeks ago in prison.
While Zhila as been sentenced to stoning, her brother, jailed in Tehran, is to receive only 150 lashes, in accordance with Islamic laws.
Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian outspoken lawyer and human rights activists who became the first Iranian and Muslim female to win the prestigious Nobel Peace Award for 2003 disclosed the news about the case of Zhila Izadi during her recent tour of Scandinavian countries.
The circumstances under which Zhila became pregnant from her brother is still not known, but independent Iranian sources outside the country said it was the father, a devout Muslim, who informed the authorities about the disgrace the young girl had caused the family.
Human rights activists in Denmark said though Zhilas sentence had not been confirmed yet, but the fear is that, with the familys approval, she faces the same faith as that of Ms. Ateqeh Rajabi, the 16 years-old girl hanged in public by the judge, a cleric, who condemned her on charges of prostitution.
A court in Marivan has condemned Zhila to death by stoning and the family, which is very fundamental, has agreed, confirmed Ms. Nahid Riazi of a Copenhagen-based human rights group that fights to the rights of women, adding that the young girl had been separated from her new born baby after the birth.
Ms. Rajabi was publicly hanged on a street in the city centre of Neka in the northern province of Mazandaran, on 15 August, for "acts incompatible with chastity".
Faced with domestic and international outcry of dismay, the authorities said the young girl was mentally incompetent.
However, informed sources revealed that Ms. Ateqeh was sentenced to death after, during the "trial", she expressed outrage at the misogyny and injustice in the Islamic Republic and its Islam-based judicial system.
The lower court judge was so incensed by her protestations that he personally put the noose around her neck after his decision had been upheld by the Supreme Court, the sources reported.
The execution of Ateqeh Rajabi was the tenth execution of a child offender in Islamic Republic recorded by Amnesty International since 1990.
Amnesty International is alarmed that this execution was carried out despite reports that Ateqeh Rajabi was not believed to be mentally competent, and that she reportedly did not have access to a lawyer at any stage.
As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran is bound not to execute child offenders. Both treaties provide that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons under 18 year of age at the time of committing the offence.
Though it is possible that the Iranian authorities reject the stoning sentence, but it remains that the accused could very probably be condemned to death, human rights sources said, calling on the international community to put pressure on Iranian authorities to save Zhila from death.
The news of Zhila's possible stoning come at a time that the ruling conservatives have increased dramatically crackdown on the very limited social liberties, including more drastic measures on women accused of not respecting islamic codes of dressing and arresting more journalists and intellectuals.
ENDS IZADI 161004
Where can we donate to do the most good?
Contacting the media internationally, to make them cover this story might be the best way to help.
The Bush administration yesterday refused to back away from its demand that Iran be referred to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program next month, even as European allies said they will offer Tehran a deal next week.
The European Union will present Iran with one last chance to suspend its effort to enrich uranium, which can be used to make atomic bombs, in exchange for economic and trade benefits, diplomats said after an eight-nation meeting at the State Department.
"The EU-three indicated they will be presenting their idea to Iran next week," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in reference to Britain, Germany and France, which have taken the lead on the Iran nuclear issue.
The benefits package would include access to imported nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes, as well as lifting of some EU economic penalties and opening of trade opportunities with the Islamic republic.
"The United States listened carefully to the EU-three explanations of their approach, and the EU-three agreed to inform us of the results of their efforts," Mr. Casey said.
But he said the Bush administration continued to insist that, at its next meeting on Nov. 25, the board of governors of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should send the case to the Security Council.
"The United States has long made clear its views that Iran's confirmed non-compliance with safeguard obligations must be reported by the IAEA board to the U.N. Security Council," Mr. Casey said.
At its last meeting in September, the board gave Iran until Nov. 25 to suspend the uranium-enrichment program.
European officials said at yesterday's meeting that they still hope to convince Tehran to comply before the deadline.
"The U.S. position is a bit different from ours," a senior European diplomat said after the State Department session with officials from the Group of Eight (G-8) the United States, Britain, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.
"No government changed its position today," he added.
The three-hour meeting ended without a statement or decision.
"We did not decide on a new course of action," a U.S. official said.
The administration did not endorse the EU's benefits package. Even though U.S. officials said they told the Europeans to "go ahead" with it, they did not hide their belief that Tehran will not comply.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said earlier this week that the European Union cannot force Iran to give up its right to enrich uranium. "It is wrong for them to think they can, through negotiations, force Iran to stop enrichment," he told a conference in Tehran. "Iran will never give up its right to enrichment."
But diplomats at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, were quoted by Reuters news agency yesterday as saying that Iran may be willing to comply if, along with a long list of benefits, it receives an assurance that it will not be attacked.
Diplomats said such a guarantee was not discussed at the G-8 meeting, where the United States was represented by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
PARIS - France and its G8 partners should call for a complete suspension by Iran of its advanced uranium enrichment programme, the French foreign ministry said on Saturday.
"Time is of the essence. France will continue to work with its partners and the Iranian authorities... towards the complete suspension by Iran of its enrichment and reprocessing activities," the ministry said in a press statement.
A November 25 deadline for Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands to suspend uranium enrichment work is looming, with the possibility that Iran may be referred to the UN Security Council and face sanctions if it misses the deadline.
Britain, France and Germany told the United States on Friday at a G8 meeting in Washington that they would offer Iran incentives to try to persuade it to halt uranium enrichment activities which they fear are linked to a plan to build nuclear weapons.
The Europeans are hoping the inducements will satisfy the US, which backs a tougher line against Iran.
However Iran has since said it will reject any European proposal for a complete cessation of its work on the nuclear fuel cycle. It has said, however, that it would be willing to consider further "confidence-building" measures and extending a suspension of uranium enrichment.
"As well as leading this joint effort, we recognise the right of any state to use nuclear energy in accordance with the (nuclear) Non Proliferation Treaty," the French statement said.
It added that the Washington G8 meeting had "shown the intensity of the efforts made to try to reach a solution by diplomatic means."
"These efforts will continue in the weeks ahead with the aim of reaching an agreement between now and the meeting" of the IAEA on November 25, the statement said.
Under the terms of an accord signed late last year with Germany, France and Britain, Iran pledged to suspend uranium enrichment activities and accepted unannounced inspections of its nuclear facilities.
However, it has since resumed work on centrifuges key to the enrichment process and back-tracked on its commitment to allow snap inspections, claiming the Europeans have not held up their end of the deal.
TEHRAN: An Iranian man convicted of a series of robberies has had four fingers on his right hand amputated in public, the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper reported yesterday. The man, who was only identified as Hamid H, was reportedly caught by locals in the southwestern city of Ahvaz while he was out on a burglary in September 2003. In Iran, thieves are usually only sentenced to amputations if they repeatedly offend.
TEHRAN: An Iranian soldier has been charged with killing a party-goer during a raid on an illegal mixed-sex gathering, the student news agency ISNA reported yesterday. Security forces raided the party in the town of Karaj, west of Tehran, and one soldier opened fire, shooting dead one of the guests. "The soldier has been arrested and charged with intentional murder," a judicial official said. Parties attended by both men and women are forbidden in the Islamic republic and are often raided by security forces. Offenders can be fined or sentenced to lashes.
In an interview, made today, with the well respected Anooshirvan Kangarloo of Voice of America TV (VOA), the SMCCDI's Coordinator, Aryo B. Pirouznia, slammed the Islamic republic's repressive stands and praised the Iranian teachers and nurses in their struggle based on Civil Disobedience Movement's methods.
Pirouznia criticized, as well, Senator Kerry for his rejectable stands on the Islamic regime and his statements intending to legitimize a corrupt and falling regime.
The program (VOA's "News & Views" of 10/16/04) will be re-aired tomorrow morning, Iran local time, and can be seen on at the following link till 12:00 PM US EST by visiting: http://www.voanews.com/real/voa/nenaf/fars/pers1700v.ram. The audio-video interview can be seen from the minute 12':40'' of the program. It will be transferred after 12:00 PM to the VOA website's archives section.
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But i thought one of the grand bargains, actually the only grand bargain and so-called victory for the europeans was the END of stoning in Iran?!?
More lies and deceptions from the EU and the Islamic Republic.
Since Kerry (not Bush) has apparently become "The Arabian Candidate", I guess that label has flip-flopped and become a 'good thing'?
What do you say Sen. Kennedy? How about you, McAuliffe?
THANKS for the list
"France will continue to work with its *partners and the Iranian authorities*..."
Isn't that the same thing?
Vahid Salemi / AP
Oct. 25 issue - The Bush administration has repeatedly fingered Abu Mussab al-Zarqawiself-confessed beheader of U.S. hostage Nicholas Berg and other Western captivesas a critical link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. In the vice presidential debate, Dick Cheney said that after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan seeking to roust Osama bin Laden, al-Zarqawi "migrated to Baghdad." But other U.S. officials say the Jordanian terrorist's contacts in neighboring Iran are probably more extensive than any dealings he had with Saddam.
Sources close to Jordanian intelligence say al-Zarqawi has gone back and forth across the Iran-Iraq border since Saddam's regime fell. According to a Jordanian intelligence briefing made available to NEWSWEEK, al-Zarqawi crossed the Iranian border after being wounded in Afghanistan in late 2001, was treated, then stayed in an Iranian safe house in the same town as fugitive Qaeda leaders. Later al-Zarqawi traveled to northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey. But he supposedly returned to Iran around March 2002, at which point he was "arrested" by Iranian authorities. Some Jordanian investigators believe that a high-ranking Iranian intel official then established a relationship with him to provide aid.
| (IsraelNN.com) Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated today that the White House may soon impose sanctions on Iran in response to threats from Teheran. Mofaz added the sanctions may even precede the upcoming American presidential elections to be held in November.
He said Iran should ratify a protocol signed last year with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and end its uranium enrichment programme.
Iran says it will reject any proposal for a complete halt to such activities.
The UK, France and Germany are to present a package aimed at convincing Tehran to give up nuclear ambitions.
The IAEA has set a deadline of the end of November for Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities.
The US accuses Iran of aiming to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran says its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes.
Correspondents say Washington still favours UN sanctions against Iran but is prepared to give the Europeans a final opportunity to negotiate a settlement before next month's deadline.
Russia is opposed to sanctions, which could threaten its $800m deal to build Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station.
Mr Lavrov said there were specific steps Tehran could take to calm IAEA fears about its nuclear programme.
"The IAEA would like to see more steps promoting greater trust in the Iranian nuclear programme and Iran must take such steps," the Russian Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
He specified that Iran should ratify a protocol it signed last year allowing for additional IAEA inspections, and impose a moratorium on its enrichment programme.
But the Russian minister said Russia would continue to co-operate with Iran on construction at Bushehr.
Efforts to get Iran to abandon enrichment have been a failure so far, yet prospects of imposing effective sanctions on Iran through the UN Security Council are uncertain to say the least, says BBC News Online's world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds.
National security official Hossein Mousavian said on Saturday that Tehran would not be deprived of its legitimate right to a nuclear fuel cycle.
Mr Mousavian's words appeared to confirm the lack of optimism that an offer to Iran would work.
However, he said Iran was ready to consider continuing its suspension of uranium enrichment and discuss new initiatives to provide guarantees that the process would never be diverted to military purposes.
Our correspondent says Britain, France and Germany feel there is a window of opportunity ahead of a meeting of the IAEA on 25 November.
The European offer is said to include a pledge to resume EU-Iran trade talks.
It is also thought to include guarantees that Iran will have access to nuclear fuel from Russia.
Contributing Reporter Downtown New Haven will soon play host to a new effort to preserve the memories and experiences of the Iranian people.
The U.S. State Department's Human Rights and Democracy Fund recently allotted a $1 million, two-year grant to establish the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center, which will be dedicated to recording human rights abuses by the Iranian government from 1979 to the present. The IHRDC was co-founded by former Yale Law School lecturer and senior fellow Payam Ahkhavan, professor of internal medicine Ramin Ahmadi and journalist and writer Roya Hakakain.
The current Islamic Republic of Iran was formed in 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini deposed the former Shah. Hundreds of the Shah's supporters were executed, and the regime Khomeini established has since been accused of numerous human rights violations including torture, arbitrary execution and wrongful arrests.
Based on his experience as a U.N. prosecutor in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Akhavan said that honesty and justice are essential to effective democratic transformation in societies such as Iran that have suffered from systematic human rights violations.
"Eradicating a culture of impunity is an indispensable component of building civil society in Iran and providing non-violent alternatives for democratic change," Akhavan said. "The rule of law must become a political habit, and this can only be achieved if public officials are held accountable for serious human rights abuses such as arbitrary executions and torture."
As a former associate producer for 60 Minutes and author of the book "Journey from the Land of No," a memoir of her experiences growing up as a Jewish teenager in Khomeini's Iran, Hakakain said she feels it is her responsibility to ensure that the true story of Iran is remembered.
"I felt that a certain history I had witnessed had been misinterpreted or, in some ways, obliterated," she said. "The project, IHRDC, is in some ways an extension of the same desire -- to want to tell the story of history in our own voice, the way that we experienced it, not the way that it's been written about so far."
Ahmadi and Akhavan said they expect that the center will be closely involved with the Yale community.
"We plan to develop a close working relationship with the Law School, and also with other departments who are interested in having their students, whether graduates or undergrads, do research on human rights," said Ahmadi.
Hakakain said she hopes that, in addition to increasing accountability for human rights violations, the center will also provide Iranians with what she terms "a body of history and memory."
"So much of what happens in dictatorships, you know, [is] that all records get deleted and everything gets constantly erased," she said. "No matter how courageous individual Iranians tend to be and no matter how hard they work, the memory of their heroism and their courage is constantly erased. I hope that the center can become an indelible body where things can stay, and in the future they can look to it and be heartened."
Oct. 17, 2004 18:44 | Updated Oct. 17, 2004 20:19
The IDF's three-week operation in northern Gaza has not ended, but rather the army is just redeploying after its military goals were met, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet at its weekly meeting Sunday.
"I directed the army to continue it's immediate readiness to combat the further firing of rockets on Sderot, including a continued preparedness to reenter the area when necessary" Mofaz said.
Mofaz said that the IDF did not end the fighting, and will continue to employ "special measures" in the area.
Mofaz told the ministers that the operation "succeeded" in significantly reducing the number of rocket attacks on Sderot, in damaging Hamas's ability to fire rockets, and in improving the IDF's ability to control the area.
Operation Days of Repentance ended Friday night with the IDF pulling out of the densely populated refugee camps in northern Gaza, but leaving some troops on the hilltops in the area. Mofaz said that some 120 Palestinians were killed during the operation, of which about 70 were involved in terrorist activities.
Palestinian officials have put the number of Palestinians killed at 140.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also briefed the cabinet, and related to recent overtures from Syria.
"We have recently witnessed a number of positive statements coming from Syria, which are being carefully analyzed. However, like we have said in the past, Israel will be ready to return to the negotiating table without any preconditions only when Syria abandons the way of terror," Shalom said.
Shalom said there are currently discussions taking place in the UN Security Council to draft another resolution, in addition to Security Council resolution 1559 that called for Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon. Despite these moves, Shalom said, Syria is continue to work to put together a new government in Lebanon, something he said demonstrates Syria's determination to continue to exert absolute control in Lebanon.
Shalom also said that 10 days ago Iranian President Mohammad Khatami visited Syria to talk about further cooperation between the two countries.
World pressure on these two "terrorist states" is critical right now, Shalom said. The foreign minister said it is a "pity" that the European Union intends to initial an association agreement with Syria in two days.
"I call on Europe to strengthen the international front against terror and not allow Syrian to engage in a policy of divide and rule, and by so doing avoid having to answer to [the world] for its support for terrorism. A continuation of the international pressure on Syria, that will cause it to abandon terrorism, will bring them more swiftly to the negotiating table with Israel," he said.
Regarding Iran's nuclear program, Shalom said that Europe plans to offer Iran a package this week that includes "sticks and carrots." According to this plan, if Iran will abandon its uranium enrichment program, the EU will grant them a number of benefits.
"We, of course, are opposed to giving any incentives to a country that publicly tries to attain nuclear arms, which will threaten the entire world. Iran is trying to buy time, and the international community needs to act in a suitable manner to stop this. We call for the [Iranian] issue to be brought to the UN Security Council [for possible sanctions] in November."
In another cabinet development, the ministers approved the appointment of Science and Technology Minister Ilan Shalgi as Environment Minister, to replace Yehudit Naot, who formally quite the cabinet on Sunday because of health reasons. Naot, who announced her intention to resign in September, is battling cancer.
"Yehudit Naot informed me, to my great sadness, that she is quitting her position because of illness," Sharon said. "Minister Naot excelled in her job and raised environmental issues to the highest level." Sharon said Naot has displayed great courage in fighting her illness.
Shinui is slated to hold a meeting Thursday to name a replacement for Shalgi, who has served as Minister of Science and Technology since the cabinet mini-reshuffle in July.
Iran ready to discuss nuclear issue "without conditions": official
|www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-18 00:07:31|
TEHRAN, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Iran on Sunday said it was ready tohold negotiations on its nuclear program "without any conditions",but Tehran could not be forced to do anything, the official IRNAnews agency reported.
"Iran is ready to hold talks about its nuclear issues withoutany conditions, but the outcome depends on the approach of bothsides," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi was quoted assaying.
"We held fruitful talks with the Europeans in the past days andexpect to continue the negotiations in the near future," Asefisaid.
He added that "Europe should take note that mutual respect andconfidence is required to reach a satisfactory result. TheEuropeans will soon realize that the trend should be followed upand there is no way to get away with it."
"They should actually accept that they cannot force Iran intoanything," Asefi underlined.
He also defended Iran's insistence on the resumption ofactivities related to uranium enrichment and linked Tehran'sfurther decisions to result of the negotiations with the Europe. "It is not a question to continue the enrichment process, butrather to restore our undeniable right," he said. "The continued voluntary suspension of enrichment processdepends upon the outcome of the negotiations," Asefi said. The International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution lastmonth, which urges Iran to suspend all of the activities related touranium enrichment and fully cooperate with the inspectors to clearup all related issues.
The resolution has been criticized and rejected by Iran, whichtermed it as "illegal".
Tehran has denied US accusation of developing nuclear weapons,asserting that it is politically motivated and Iran's nuclearresearch is fully peaceful.
Iran's strongman plots comeback
As radical-conservative elements in Iranian parliament seek to preserve the state's dominant role in the economy, Iranian politician Aliakbar Hashemi Rafsanjani opposes them in a move analysts say is designed to catapult him to the presidency next year.
By Kamal Nazer Yasin for EurasiaNet (15/10/04)
A pitched political battle is raging in Iran over control of economic policy. Radical-conservative elements in the Iranian parliament are seeking to preserve the state's dominant role in the economy. They are opposed by prominent Iranian politician, Aliakbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Political analysts in Tehran say Rafsanjani wants to use the political dispute as a stepping stone to the presidency in 2005. Rafsanjani is a pragmatist among Iranian conservatives and is one of giants of the Islamic republican era, having served as parliament speaker from 1980-1989 and president from 1989-1997. He has maintained a low political profile in recent years. However, Rafsanjani has continued to wield immense influence, operating in the shadows as the head of the Expediency Council, one of the country's unelected political oversight bodies.
A bitter privatization dispute
Over the past two weeks, the Expediency Council has become embroiled in a bitter dispute with parliament over the privatization of state-owned assets. A hard-line faction that has seized control of parliament's agenda has been pushing legislation that would drastically curtail executive power and effectively retain state control over the economy. On 2 October, Rafsanjani engineered an Expediency Council decision that trumps the parliamentary effort to preserve much of Iran's current economic structure.
The Council's decision provided for changes to Article 44 of the Iranian constitution, which at present mandates that the state play a dominant role in key economic sectors. The move paves the way for privatization of inefficient enterprises, which consume a large portion of the state budget. "All major industries, manufacturing and service sectors will be ceded to the private sector in a bid to prevent the state sector from being a big employer," said a statement issued by the Expediency Council. One of the few sectors not covered by the privatization decision is broadcast and print media.
Tinkering with the constitution
Tinkering with the constitution is highly unusual, but within the Expediency Council's prerogatives, political observers said. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the authority to overturn the council's decision, but he is unlikely to do so, analysts added. Prior to the council's decision, radical-conservative legislators, who seek to rekindle the revolutionary fervor that created the Islamic republic in 1979, appeared poised to seize the political high ground in Tehran.
Rafsanjani's action via the Expediency Council is widely seen as having stopped the radical-conservatives' momentum. It is also being hailed by centrists and reformists as a move that could salvage Iran's economy. "The intervention by the Expediency Council is an unprecedented decision, for revitalizing the economy," a reformist government spokesman, Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, said at a 4 October news conference.
Undermining Islamic republican ideals
Iranian centrists and reformists, as well as influential members of the conservative establishment, hope that large-scale privatization will help the country attract billions in foreign investment, and lead to the modernization of Iran's energy infrastructure. A retooled infrastructure could stimulate job creation, thus easing the country's crushing unemployment problem. According to some estimates, Iran will need to create at least 700,000 jobs per year in coming years just to keep pace with the growth rate of young people coming of working age.
The radical-conservatives in parliament are actively trying to discourage foreign investment, mainly by seeking to place restrictions on the government's ability to negotiate international trade deals. Outside investment, the radical-conservatives apparently believe, could undermine the Islamic republican ideals that they seem intent on restoring. Accordingly, media outlets controlled by Iranian hardliners condemned the Expediency Council's decision. "The Expediency Council's decision on Article 44 of the Constitution is a grave mistake," said a 10 October editorial published by the ultra-conservative Jomhoori Islami newspaper. "Any modification of the Constitution by the council lacks legal legitimacy."
Casting himself as Iran's 'savior'
Meanwhile, hardliners have launched a whisper campaign designed to discourage Rafsanjani from running for president, playing up reports that the former speaker and his family members have engaged in improper business dealings. Political analysts in Tehran say that Rafsanjani's recent maneuverings are designed to aid a bid for the presidency in 2005. In mounting his quiet campaign, Rafsanjani is attempting to cast his himself as Iran's "savior" from retrograde radical-conservatives. In keeping with his cagey political style, however, Rafsanjani is publicly adopting the stance of reluctant politician. "I am disinclined to run for office [the presidency]," he said in comments published on 9 October by the Hambastegi daily. "However, if Islam and the country come under threat, I will not hesitate to rise to the occasion."
Rafsanjani's candidacy stands to gain support from Iran's managerial class, moderate conservatives and elements of the clergy and armed forces. Ironically, the realization of his presidential ambitions in 2005 may depend on reformists, who during the 1997 presidential election campaign, won by incumbent Mohammad Khatami, heaped scorn on Rafsanjani's political legacy.
Reformists in a state of disarray
Reformists now find themselves in a state of disarray, having been routed in a political battle with hardliners, culminating in the parliamentary elections last February, in which conservative elements won a dominating majority of seats. A consensus reformist candidate for president has failed to materialize. Thus, many reformists may at least consider throwing their support behind Rafsanjani.
Reformists continue to view Rafsanjani as an unscrupulous politician, ready to sacrifice any policy position for the sake of personal political aggrandizement. Yet, at the same time, some reformists admit that he may be the "lesser evil" candidate - someone more likely to steer a centrist political course. Others see him as one of Iran's few politicians with the skills needed to address not only the country's domestic political and economic turmoil, but also the mounting international crisis over Iran's nuclear program. Rafsanjani at present appears the odds-on favorite to capture the election. Whether he can be effective as chief executive, however, remains uncertain. His relatively narrow political support base, combined with reformists' skepticism and the bitter radical-conservative opposition, means that he would likely face draining policy fights in the future. But as one analyst said: "Those who underestimate Heshemi's [Rafsanjani's] prodigious skills do so at their own peril."
Kamal Nazer Yasin is a pseudonym for a freelance journalist specializing in Iranian affairs.
Iran's upcoming presidential elections
Saturday, October 16, 2004
LONDON, Oct 16 (IranMania) Since last week when former Iranian premiere, Engineer Mir Hussein Mousavi firmly and officially rejected the calls for standing in the upcoming presidential elections a new wave of political developments emerged in Iran leading to a new round of consultations concerning the probable right and left candidates.
Many are talking about the candidacy of former parliament speaker, Mehdi Karroubi besides the repeated calls on ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The other probable aspirants are secretary of Iran's Islamic Participation Front, Mohammad Reza Khatami, Vice President, Mohammad Reza Aref, Tehran's conservative MP, Ahmad Tavakkoli, former head of Iran's state broadcasting organization, Ali Larijani, former Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati and Tehran's mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad.
Iranian MPs move to stop Rafsanjani presidency bid
Hardline MPs collecting signatures to propose a bill to prevent anyone more than 65 years of age from standing
TEHRAN: Iran's conservative MPs are drumming up support for a bill that would bar influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from standing for the post again next year, newspapers reported on Saturday.
Mid-ranking cleric Rafsanjani, 70, is styled as a pragmatic conservative, whose 1989-1997 presidency was characterised by modest economic and cultural liberalisation. Rafsanjani has said he would stand for the presidency in summer 2005 if there were no other suitable candidates. Radical conservatives in parliament, who came to power in late May after thousands of reformist candidates were banned, have stubbornly resisted privatisations, foreign investment and greater social freedoms
Newspapers reported hardline MPs Ali Ahmadi and Reza Talainik were collecting signatures to propose a bill to stop anyone more than 65 years old from standing, a further sign of rifts opening within the conservative camp of oil-rich Iran.
"The suggestion is that those who initiated the draft plan did so to stop people like Rafsanjani who is 70...and pave the way for the candidacy of the so-called right-wingers," wrote the Jomhuri-ye Eslami daily. Rafsanjani heads the Expediency Council, Iran's top legislative arbitration body, that earlier this month overturned a key plank of Iran's constitution to allow large-scale sales of state assets.
This rebuffed parliamentarians who had spent their first few months in power unravelling a slew of planned privatisations and foreign investment deals.
Liberal President Mohammad Khatami steps down in 2005. His attempts to push through sweeping economic and social reforms having been largely frustrated by hardliners. The reformist candidate of choice had been Mirhossein Mousavi, a prime minister during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, but he renounced his candidacy earlier this month.
"After Mirhossein Mousavi, the only candidate who can challenge the conservatives is Abkar Hashemi Rafsanjani," said Ali Akbar Mousavi-Khoeini, a member of the League of Combatant Clerics, a reformist party. Prominent hardliners tipped for the presidency are Ali Akbar Velayati, an ex-foreign minister, and Ali Larijani, former head of the state broadcast media. They are now both advisers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani is keeping his cards close to his chest. reuters
Russia wants Iran to come clean on nukes
[ MONDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2004 12:42:42 AM ]
It also called on Tehran to accelerate co-operation with agency inspectors probing past and present nuclear activities and suggested defiance could lead to penalties, including possible referral to the UN Security Council at the next board meeting in November.
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