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To: DoctorZIn
US Bans Iranian Opposition Group

August 15, 2003
Middle East Online

WASHINGTON - The United States on Friday banned the political wing of the Iranian opposition group People's Mujahedeen, froze its assets and moved to close down its offices here, the State Department said.

The move, announced in a notice signed by Secretary of State Colin Powell that was published in the Federal Register, outlaws the National Council of Resistance, declaring it to be a terrorist organization.

The designation also applies to the group's alias "the National Council of Resistance of Iran" and includes "its US representative office and all other offices worldwide," Powell said in the notice.

The People's Mujahadeen -- also known as the Mujahedeen e Khalq (MEK) -- has been on Washington's terrorism blacklist for some time, but its political wing has fought the designation in US courts.

Amid the uncertainty over its status, the National Council of Resistance maintained offices in Washington and other US cities and has frequently held news conferences to denounce the Iranian government.

Friday's announcement appears to be aimed at closing that legal loophole, paving the way for US authorities to shut down the group's offices, according to a State Department official.

The US move against the People's Mujahadeen follows a similar crackdown on the group in France, where police raided its headquarters in a Paris suburb in June, arresting scores of people.

The group's leader, Maryam Rajavi, was one of more than 160 people initially detained in the raids and her arrest outraged her followers, with a spate of self-immolation protests across Europe that left two women dead.

Rajavi and 16 others who were then placed under investigation were granted conditional release in early July after two weeks in detention, although that does not preclude charges being brought against them.

The group - which is also designated a terrorist organization by the European Union and Iran - has denied all wrongdoing.

With a program that blends left-wing and Islamic ideology, the People's Mujahedeen took part in the 1979 revolution in Iran, but the movement was suppressed in the years that followed and its members fled abroad.

Under the leadership of Rajavi's husband, Massoud, the military wing of the group took refuge in Iraq in 1986, from where it organized attacks inside Iran.
5 posted on 08/16/2003 12:17:04 AM PDT by DoctorZIn
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To: DoctorZIn; Texas_Dawg; McGavin999; Eala; happygrl; risk; ewing; norton; piasa; Valin; pcx99; ...
Europe pressed to shun Iranian oilfield

By Carola Hoyos in London

Published: August 15 2003 18:52 | Last Updated: August 15 2003 18:52

Spencer Abraham, US energy secretary, has warned the Netherlands and Italy not to allow its companies to invest in Iran's giant Azadegan oilfield.

Mr Abraham's move, made on a trip to Europe this week, heralds a new US campaign to increase pressure on a reluctant Europe to isolate Iran over its nuclear weapons programme.

In 2000 Iran agreed with the Japanese government to give priority rights to Japex and Indonesia Petroleum, both Japanese companies, to develop the field in return for Japanese loans.

The US State Department in the past months has put pressure on Tokyo to forgo developing the field, which is said to hold up to 45bn barrels of oil.

Mr Abraham, who on Friday cut short his trip to Europe because of the massive power outages in North America, was asked to "secure commitments from other governments and companies" not to step in and snatch up the field if the US was successful in dissuading Japan from making an investment, a senior administration official told the FT.

He said that Japan was "open to the idea of forgoing the field" and that discussions were "moving in the direction we want".

The Iran-Libya Act of 1996 imposed sanctions on non-US companies that invested more than $20m (?17.7m, £12.4m) in Iran's oil or natural gas sector. But neither Bill Clinton, the former president, nor President George W. Bush enforced the measure.

Antonio Marzano, Italy's industry minister, told Mr Abraham that Eni, Italy's biggest energy company - which has interests in both Iran's on and offshore oil and natural gas fields - would provide written assurance that it would not take over the Azadegan field.

However, the Dutch government gave the US no commitment that Royal Dutch/Shell would not widen its investment in Iran. Shell in 1999 signed an $800m deal to develop two oilfields, one of which began production in late 2001.

Shell, together with Total of France and British Petroleum, has also shown interest in another oilfield in south-western Iran.

The US is still looking for a promise by France that Total, which rarely has qualms about investing in countries deemed unacceptable by the US, would not expand its oil and gas activity in Iran.

Iran, which holds 90bn barrels of oil reserves, is counting on foreign investment of up to $5bn a year to increase its daily oil production. This was as high as 6m b/d in 1974 but has remained less than 4m b/d since the revolution in 1979. Despite the threat of US sanctions, more than 90 companies are active or have shown interest in Iran's oil sector.
6 posted on 08/16/2003 12:23:56 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
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