Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiSunday, April 18, 2004
<b>Iran Blames US For Failure of Mediation Mission in Iraq</b>
• A lack of security prevented a foreign ministry delegation to Iraq from meeting with radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr or senior Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani, foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said, blaming the US for the failure of the foreign ministry's delegation in its mission to end a standoff between al-Sadr's militia and the US forces in Najaf. Asefi said Iran will no longer cooperate with the US over Iraq until Washington hands over power to the UN or an interim Iraqi government, AFP reports.
<b>Majles Approves Deputy Speaker Behzad Nabavi's Resignation</b>
• The Majles approved the resignation of deputy speaker Behzad Nabavi. His was the fifth resignation to go to vote and the third to be approved. Isfahan MP Rajabali Mazroui's resignation did not receive enough votes yesterday. More than 130 reformist MPs turned in their resignations last February in protest against the Guardians Council's ban on their reelection. The voting on their resignation was postponed until after passing the government's budget bill, which followed by a two-week New Year vacation.
• Citing the Supreme Leader's New Year message about accountability, the reformist Majles sent a letter to the Guardians Council demanding explanation for disqualifying more than 2,400 reformist candidacy applicants from running in last February's Majles elections.
<b>Khatami Shuffles Cabinet, As Finance Minster Resigns</b>
• President Khatami named labor minister Safdar Hosseini to replace resigning finance and economic affairs minister Tahmasb Mazaheri; Khatami named deputy director of the management and planning organization Hamid-Reza Baradaran Shoraka to replace the organization's resigning director Mohammad Sattarifar, vice president Mohammad-Ali Abtahi announced today in the Majles.
• Outgoing finance minister Mazaheri, 50, son of an army officer under the Shah, joined Ayatollah Khomeini's welcome committee in 1978. He has held several high level positions in the post revolutionary governments, including deputy prime minister and head of the Bonyad Mostazefan foundation. As finance minister in the Khatami cabinet, he clashed openly with central bank governor Mohsen Nourbakhsh. The reformists and conservatives criticized him for his policies, including taxing the powerful economic-religious foundations and campaigning to gain Iran's a membership in the WTO. (Alireza Taheri)
• The reason for Mazaheri's resignation is not clear to me or to anyone to whom I have talked in the past week, Tehran University economic professor <b>Mousa Ghaninezhad</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Mazaheri was a successful cabinet minister, one of the few who actually delivered on his promises of economic reforms. He had differences with the management and planning organization, but the finance ministry was overall more successful than the management and planning organization. Mazaheri's departure is not in our national interests, and is surprising, considering that only a year has remained from Khatami's term in office, Ghaninezhad says. (Mina Baharmast)
<b>Ebadi Blasts The US On Iraq and Afghanistan</b>
• Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi criticized the US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan during a speech in Amsterdam today. She asked western countries to avoid linking the actions of terrorists to an entire religion. Ebadi is due in the US early next May and will accept an honorary degree from Toronto University on May 7. (Sina Motalebi, Amsterdam)
<b>Jailed Student Activist Complains of Torture</b>
• In a letter from his cell in the Evin prison, student activist Mehrdad Lohrasbi complained about his treatment in jail and physical and psychological torture. Lohrasbi was arrested after the July 1998 student uprising, and is serving the fifth of a 15-year sentence. He suffers from kidney pain and other illnesses, spokesman of the “independent” student opposition group United Student Front (Jebheh-ye Motahed-e Daneshjui) <b>Kianoush Sanjari</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Lohrasbi is in poor health, after repeated hunger strikes and long-term solitary confinement, and is being refused medical furlough, he adds. (Farin Asemi)
• In Kermanshah eight students were barred from higher education for their participation in last July's pro-democracy demonstrations. The Arak court fined Mohammad-Reza Nasababdollahi, secretary of the Rafsanjan university's Islamic student council, for one million rials, and sentenced him to six months in jail for insulting the authorities. Two students received 30 lashes each in Tabriz after refusing to appeal the court order, and six Tabriz students were called to jail, five of them have already been sentenced to one term ban from school by the Tabriz university's disciplinary committee. (Farin Asemi)
<b>Ecologist Warns Against Dumping Garbage in the Caspian Forests</b>
• The forests in the Caspian Sea area have decreased by 17 percent during the past twenty years, Tehran University ecology professor <b>Esmail Kahrom</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Illegal and irregular dumping of municipal garbage not only further erodes the national forests, but is a source of contamination of the environment, he adds. (Leyli Arman)
<b>Majles Votes to Split Khorasan In Three</b>
• To allow for “more equitable budget allocation</b> the Majles voted to divide the Khorasan province, Iran's largest, into three separate provinces. Dozens were injured and scores arrested in street clashes in 2001 and 2002 when the government first proposed dividing the province, which borders Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Mashhad-based commentator <b>Mohammad-Sadeq Javadi-Hesar</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that studies conducted by the government shows that the Khorasan province has three distinct cultural and ethnic groups in north, center and south. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
حميد رضا آصفي، سخنگوي وزارت امورخارجه جمهوري اسلامي گفت که آمريکا مسئول شکست تلاش هاي تهران در حل اختلاف ميان نيروهاي وفادار مقتدي صدر با نيروهاي ائتلاف است. هيات اعزامي وزارت امورخارجه جمهوري اسلامي که براي آرام کردن اوضاع در مناطق شيعه نشين به عراق سفر کرده بود، پس از آنکه آمريکا اعلام کرد به ميانجيگري تهران نيازي ندارد، و دبير اول سفارتخانه ايران در بغداد هم ترور شد، بي نتيجه عراق را ترک کرد. آصفي گفت مشكلات امنيتي باعث شد سفر هيات مذكور به نجف براي ديدار با مقتي صدر يا آيت الله علي سيستاني لغو شود.