Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiMonday, March 29, 2004
<b>Iran Begins Key Nuclear Fuel Cycle Phase</b>
• “The experimental phase of the Isfahan processing installation has begun and by the end of this phase, in the next 20 days, experimental production at this facility will start,” head of Iran's nuclear energy organization Gholamreza Aghazadeh said today in an interview with official news agency IRNA. The Isfahan plant turns uranium ore into gas for use by the uranium enrichment facilities. Meanwhile, on their third day in Iran, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors headed for the Isfahan nuclear research facility, after visiting the Natanz enrichment plant.
• Iran has stopped building nuclear centrifuges, a device used for the enrichment of uranium, Aghazadeh said later today. The supreme national security council had ordered the suspension of centrifuge construction, he added.
<b>Iran Complains to Ireland Over Human Rights Criticism</b>
• Foreign ministry deputy for legal affairs Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh summoned Irish Charge d'Affairs Aidan Cronin to complain over statements made by Ireland's envoy to the UN Human Rights Commission. “Iran wishes the EU to have a realistic view of Iran's human rights activities,” Akhondzadeh said. “Unfortunately, the fourth round of our human rights dialogue with Iran has not taken place due to Iran's failure to confirm the dates agreed,” Ireland's envoy Mary Whelan had told the UNHRC session in Geneva on behalf of the EU presidency.
<b>Japan's $1.2 Billion Loan to NIOC for Azadegan Project</b>
• Japan's state-owned International Cooperation Bank approved last week to join four other Japanese banks in providing the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) a $1.2 billion loan to be repaid by crude oil from the Azadegan field. The $2 billion deal with the Japanese companies to develop the Azadegan oil field will be paid back with oil at the market price, so it is not harmful to Iran, Paris-based expert and former head of NIOC international contracts <b>Parviz Mina</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Japan is the second largest oil importer, after the US, and access to sources such as the Azadegan field, which can provide up to 400,000 bpd, is extremely important for Japan, he adds. The deal is also in the interest of Iran, because it makes available the $2 billion investment it needed to develop the field, he says. (Shahran Tabari, London)
<b>Mandela Cancels Iran Visit</b>
• Former South Africa's president Nelson Mandela, who is on tour in the Middle East, cancelled his Tehran stop. He had been invited by President Khatami to receive what government media described as highest honor. The cancellation of his trip could be linked to the protests he received from the anti-regime coalition of secular republicans E'telaf-e Jumhurikhahan-e Iran, Washington-based commentator <b>Mehrdad Mashayekhi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Probably Mandela does not want to be seen endorsing dictators, he adds. By inviting Mandela and British Crown Prince Charles to Iran, the regime's conservative faction tries to project a cosmopolitan image to the world, he says. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
<b>NYT Urges US to “Keep Intellectual Borders Open”</b>
• “The Treasury Department needs to remove this inappropriate restriction and do so promptly,” writes the <i>New York Times</i> in an editorial today about the Office of Foreign Assets Control's ruling that publishers could publish works by authors living in certain countries, including Iran, Libya, Sudan and Cuba, but they couldn't edit them. Head of the American Chemistry Association, Pace University's <b>David Rahni</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that in a gathering on February 9 with a Treasury Department representative, a group of publishers of scientific and academic journals asked for the repeal of the ruling, and decided to challenge it in courts. “There are many weapons in the war against terrorism. One of the most powerful is the enlightened, rational values that America has come to stand for. Ideas pose no risk to us until we begin to try to control them,” the <i>Times</i> writes. (Behnam Nateghi, New York)
<b>Judiciary Chief Lauds Prison Improvements</b>
• In a speech to judiciary officials, judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi said with improvements such as purging the justice department of lobbyists, eliminating single occupancy cells, providing prisoners with access to lawyers and implementing a furlough program, the Islamic government's judiciary would become unique in the world. He said UN special reporter on freedom of expression Amibei Ligabo was unfair and one-sided in his report on Iran. Ligabo said in his report that systematic repression is creating a climate of fear, and the hardliners have gained a stranglehold over government and the judiciary. Access to legal counsel and occasional release on furlough are common rights of prisoners everywhere in the world, but most political prisoners were not given furloughs, London-based human rights activist <b>Hossein Bagherzadeh tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Ligabo's report was based on widely reported facts on the closing of newspapers and jailing of writers and publishers, Bagherzadeh says. Ligabo also pointed out to some improvements in restrictions on the press since the election of Khatami, so he was not one sided, Baghezaeh adds. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
غلامرضا آقازاده، رئيس سازمان انرژي اتمي ايران اعلام کرد جمهوري اسلامي توليد ترکيبات و تجهيزات فن آوري غني سازي اورانيم را به حال تعليق در آورد. وي گفت که شوراي عالي امنيت ملي دستور تعليق را صادر کرد. يکي ديگر از مقام هاي اين سازمان گفت که دستور تنها در مورد توليد دستگاه هاي گريز از مرکز است. مقام هاي جمهوري اسلامي گفتند که علت اين کار، جلب اعتماد سازمان بين المللي انرژي اتمي است. بازرسان سازمان بين المللي انرژي اتمي هم اکنون در ايران هستند. دولت آمريکا نيز از اين سازمان خواسته است ايران را ناقض پيمان منع گسترش جنگ افزارهاي هسته اي معرفي کند.