Summary of Iran Stories of Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiThursday, January 02, 2003
<b>Reformist Party Threatens to Exit the Regime</b>
* The pro-Khatami party, Participation Front (Jebheh-ye Mosharekat), representing more than one-third of the Majles MPs, threatened yesterday that in the face of mounting pressures from the conservative-led judiciary, it may have no other option but to exit the regime through mass resignations. The Mosharekat said by resigning, it will take with it the people's votes and the regime's legitimacy. It defended Abbas Abdi, a party founder, board member and one of its leading theoreticians, who is on trial on charges of spying for the US and falsifying poll results as a director of the padlocked polling agency Ayandeh. The Mosharekat asked the intelligence ministry to verify the judiciary's charges. Abdi, along with Hossein Ghazian, another Ayandeh director, and Behruz Geranpayeh, head of the national center for public opinion research, were arrested two months ago after the publication of a poll that showed more than 75 percent of respondents favor the resumption of US-Iran relations. The conservative Kayhan wrote that Mosharekat officials are meeting with top religious leaders to prevent the dissolution of the party. (Bijan Farhoodi, Washington)
* Mosharekat's statement in defense of Abbas Abdi's performance at court came a week after Abdi's trial, during which he admitted to "errors" and asked for forgiveness. In the statement, which marks one of the most difficult moments in Mosharekat's short political life, the party called Abdi's confessions "confusing and questionable." It again questioned the legal jurisdiction of the court and portrayed the proceedings as yet another effort by the conservatives to strike at the Mosharekat and the reformists in general. However, the tone of the statement was noticeably milder than previous statements of the party. Chief of Tehran judiciary Abbas-Ali Alizadeh, a radical conservative, said President Khatami was astonished at the seriousness of the charges against Abdi and other defendants in the pollsters' case. He said the judiciary has proof that they passed military secrets to foreigners. The regime's reformists worry that the pollster's trials may be a beginning of more serious judicial action against other prominent politicians, such as Mohsen Mirdamadi, Behzad Nabavi and Ahmad Bourqani. (Siavash Ardalan, Prague)
<b>Registration Begins for Applicants of Candidacy in Local Councils</b>
* More than 400 in Tehran and thousands in the provinces registered today as applicants for candidacy in the elections of city and village councils, as the first sessions of local councils ends with mixed results. In Tehran, the 15-member city council, mostly reformist politicians with no experience in city administration, became mired in political fighting between the members themselves and between the council and the mayor. Political groups and factions used the councils as platforms for political activity. In the upcoming elections, the nationalist-religious coalition will also field candidates. (Mehdi Khalaji, Paris)
<b>Majles Approves Punishment for Violating Personal Freedoms</b>
* The Majles approved a bill on Wednesday that would reform an article in the civil code on punishment for civil servants who violate citizen's personal freedoms and constitutional rights. The reform consisted of adding employees of the institutions under the control of the Supreme Leader to the list of the civil servants punishable by the law.
* Paris-based lawyer and human rights advocate Abdolkarim Lahiji tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that such laws are already on the books, but we have never seen a government employee punished for violating people's rights. He adds that without an independent judiciary one cannot expect such laws to be implemented. (Maryam Ahmadi, Washington)
<b>Congressman Robert Ney on US-Iran Relations</b>
* Congressman Robert Ney, R-Ohio, tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that it is time for US and Iran to resume government to government talks. He says sins have been committed by both sides -- Iranian authorities calling the US "the Great Satan" and the US President calling Iran an Axis of Evil member, the US embassy takeover in Tehran, the US help to Iraq during Iran-Iraq war - things that should not have happened. He says in Persian: "I hope the relation between the two nations improves in the future." Congressman Ney adds in Persian: "I have to say that we respect the Iranian people's demands." (Mahtab Farid, Washington)
<b>Washington Post Links New York's Alavi Foundation to Iran</b>
* In a report on the Potomac Islamic center and its link to the Alavi Foundation in New York, the Washington Post quotes law enforcement and security officials who say the Alavi Foundation operates as an arm of the Iranian regime to gather intelligence on US technology and anti-regime Iranians living in the US. The Alavi Foundation, says the Post, establishes and funds pro-Khomeini Islamic centers across the US. (Behnam Nateghi, New York)
<b>Iran's Economy and Possible US Attack on Iraq</b>
* Minister of finance and economic affairs Tahmasb Mazaheri said the economic impact on Iran of the possible US attack on Iraq is impossible to predict. (Kian Manavi, Prague)
<b>Iran Arrests Prostitute Smuggling Ring</b>
* Police arrested a group that transported young Iranian women for work as prostitutes in Dubai. (Nazi Azima, Prague)
<b>Tehran Stock Index Rose 42 Percent in 2002</b>
* The index of stock prices the Tehran stock exchange rose by 42 percent in 2002, as higher oil prices pumped more dollars into the Iranian economy. (Fereydoun Khavand, Paris)
<b>Increasing Imports Shrink Trade Surplus</b>
* The numbers issued by the central bank indicates that imports increased by 20 percent to $10.7 billion in the first six months of the current fiscal year, as compared to the same period last year. At the current rate of growth, the imports would wipe out the country's foreign trade surplus in the next fiscal year. (Fereydoun Khavand, Paris)
<b>Different Reports on Majles-Guardians Meeting</b>
* In a meeting last night, the Majles management board and the Guardians Council agreed to set up a special committee to review their differences. The Majles complains that the conservative Guardians block all its legislative effort. In a statement after last night's meeting, the Guardians Council secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said the Council would do its duty. But Majles deputy speaker Behzad Nabavi said the Guardians' statement did not reflect the concerns of the Majles board. He added that he will disclose an unedited version of the meeting on Saturday. (Siavash Ardalan, Prague)
<b>Writers' Association Protests Alireza Jabbari's Arrest</b>
* The wife of writer and Tolstoy translator Alireza Jabbari said today she was told by the police that her husband was detained by the Tehran police's Unit 110. She said the plainclothes agents who came home with her husband to take away his files and computer did not seem like the officers of the Unit 110.
* Tehran-based contemporary poet Simin Behbahahni, a board member of the Writers Association of Iran tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that the association does know anything more about Jabbari's arrest than what it hears from his wife. She said many members of the association are either in jail or have been interrogated several times. (Mehdi Khalaji, Prague)
<b>Cabinet Reviews Green Government Plan</b>
* Cabinet spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said the cabinet reviewed Green Government, a plan by the environmental protection organization that would reduce government spending and coordinate government projects with regards to the environment.
* Tehran University professor and ecologist Esmail Kahrom tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that using the Green Government plan, all government agencies become responsible for the environmental impact of their projects He adds that air pollution in the cities and the deforestation of the Caspian forests are Iran's two major ecological disasters. (Golnaz Esfandiari, Prague)
در تهران بيش از 400 نفر متقاضي نامزدي براي احراز 30 كرسي شوراي شهر ثبت نام كردند. همزمان، ثبت نام از داوطلبان نامزدي انتخابات شوراهاي محلي در شهرستانها نيز شروع شد. كارشناسان مسائل شهري باور دارند كه تجربه نخستين دوره تشكيل شوراهاي محلي موفق نبود و مثلا در تهران هزينه بسياري صرف مجادلات اعضاي شوراي شهر با يكديگر و با شهردار شد. چهره هاي سياسي مانند عبدالله نوري و سعيد حجاريان كه كرسي هاي شوراي شهر تهران را اشغال كردند، نه دانش و تخصص مديريت شهري را داشتند و نه انگيزه آن. احزاب و گروه هاي سياسي تلاش كردند از انتخابات شوراي هاي محلي به عنوان بستري براي فعاليت سياسي و جايگزين كردن مهره هاي خود در سراسر كشور استفاده كنند و معلوم نيست اين عامل ناكاميابي شوراهاي محلي در دور دوم برطرف شود.اعلام شد كه اعضاي ائتلاف ملي - مذهبي نيز متقاضي نامزدي انتخابات شوراي شهر خواهند شد.