Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiTuesday, December 23, 2003
<b>Pakistani Scientists' Role in Iran's Nuclear Program</b>
• Pakistani scientists may have acted on their own to provide Iran with blueprints and technology for enriching uranium, Pakistan's information minister Rashid Ahmed said yesterday. “Some individuals may have been doing something on their own. The Government of Pakistan has not authorized any transfers of sensitive nuclear technology to other countries. Only individuals are being investigated,” he added. Pakistan questioned top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan after Iran revealed to the IAEA inspectors its previously undisclosed nuclear program. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
<b>Khatami Submits Budget Bill</b>
• The government will continue to reform the management system of state-owned enterprises and will continue with the privatization process, President Khatami said at the Majles as he submitted his budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year beginning March 22, 2004. The bill shows a 16 percent annual increase in expenses. As usual, the bill includes real expenses matched by unrealistic income projections, said MP Omidvar-Rezai, a member of the Majles plan and budget committee. (Arash Qavidel, Tehran)
• The main points of the budget bill, including reduced borrowing from the domestic banking system, the emphasis on financial discipline in the state-owned commercial enterprises, and unification of the foreign exchange rate, continue the financial reforms that began in the previous budgets, London's Guildhall University and Ohio's Denison University economy professor <b>Parvin Alizadeh</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The government does not plan to step away from the reforms, which are aimed at growing the private sector. But the budget does little to encourage investment by the private sector, even though the private sector has had a better track record in creating jobs than the government, she says. A major weakness of the budget is its reliance on bonds to pay for the deficit, she adds. With the inflation as high as it is, it is unlikely that the public would show much interest in the government bonds. The other way of meeting the deficit, printing money, would be inflationary, she says.
• Bonds have a deflationary effect, Tehran University economy professor <b>Mehdi Taqavi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. But at the same time, since people who buy bonds would have less money to buy other things, economy may suffer from lower demand for goods and services, he adds. (Shahran Tabari, London)
<b>GCC Leaders Support UAE's Claim on the Persian Gulf Islands</b>
• The Gulf Cooperation Council firmly supports the UAE and its sovereignty over the three Persian Gulf Islands Abu Mousa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs, heads of the six Persian Gulf Arab countries who form the GCC announced in Kuwait at the end of their 24th summit meeting. (Kian Manavi)
<b>Private Sector to Operate First Class Cars in Tehran-Tabriz Rail</b>
• New first class cars operated by private contractors will be added to the Tehran-Tabriz rail service. Using private contractors to operate cars is common in the Mashhad-Tehran rail service, and customers are happy with the upgraded service, Tehran-based transportation journalist <b>Masoud Mohajer</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>/. Even though Pars Wagon produces rail cars, the new first-class passenger cars will be ordered from foreign builders by the private contractor with loans secured by the government. The project's goal is to provide a means for the private sector to somehow participate in rail travel, he adds. (Leyli Arman)
<b>Wife of Jailed Journalists Calls for His Release</b>
• In a letter to Amnesty International, lawyer and human rights activist <b>Mehrangiz Kar</b>, wife of jailed veteran journalist Siamak Pourzand, called for her 73-year-old husband's release. He is being kept in a basement, under unsanitary conditions unhealthy for any prisoner, let alone a sick old man, she tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The dividing line between forces within the regime and those outside is very thick, even though some of these forces voted for the reformists, she says. That may explain the reason why her husband's conditions are not being reported by the pro-government reformist press in Iran, she adds. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
<b>Rise of Divorce Petitions by Women</b>
• More than eighty percent of divorces are petitioned by women, head of the judiciary's family courts Reza Hamidian said in an interview with state-run “students” news agency. Since men have to pay alimony, child support and other fees to their wives if they divorce them, they force their wives to petition for divorce, because in divorces petitioned by women and granted by the courts, men are not required to cover those expenses, he added. Women can only apply for divorce under certain conditions, Qum-based cleric <b>Hojatoleslam Ahadpour</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Women's rights as recognized in the first phrase of the principle 16 of the UN Human Rights Declaration are not being implemented in Iran, even though Iran is a signatory to that declaration, he adds. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
• Since, according to the law, dowry is due on demand, many women, who want to force their husbands to agree to divorce, use the nonpayment of dowry to throw their husbands in jail, Tehran-based lawyer <b>Nemat Ahmadi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Such a legal lever in the hands of women, which is the result of the laws passed by the Islamic government, has had a devastating impact on families, he adds. The divorce petitions, from either men or women, do not receive the attention they deserve from our courts. (Leyli Sadr)
<b>Aghajari's Lawyer Comments on Hamedan Court's Rejection of the Majles Report</b>
• The reaction to the Majles complaints committee's report on the Hamedan judiciary's handling of the Hashem Aghajari's case was predictable, Aghajari's lawyer <b>Saleh Nikbakht</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The Hamedan judiciary chief is one of the people criticized in the Majles report, he adds. In the report read last week at a Majles open session, the complaints committee finds several legal and procedural errors in the death sentence that Hamedan court issued for Aghajari for his June 2002 speech on Islamic Protestantism at a mosque in Hamedan. It also said Aghajari's detention was unnecessary after his death sentence was struck down by the Islamic judiciary's supreme court. Aghajari has complied with the court's bail requirements, but the Hamedan judiciary has not released him, Nikbakht adds. (Leyli Sadr)
• The reason the Majles complaints committee's report on Aghajari was read at the open session of the Majles was that the Hamedan judiciary did not agree to the Majles demand for ransom, the Hamedan judiciary chief said. (Amir Armin)
<b>Iraq Will Send MKO Members to Iran, Says Hakim</b>
• Those members of the Iraq-based anti-regime group Mohahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) who have committed crimes in Iraq will be tried in Iraqi courts, and the others will be sent to Iran, head of the Iraqi governing council Abdolaziz Hakim said in an interview with Radio Free Iraq. However, Iraq's civilian administrator Ambassador Paul Bremer said last week the US would send MKO members to a third country, without naming that country. (Leyli Arman)
• The Iraqi governing council gave MKO members until the end of December to leave Iraq. According to the Geneva convention, the US and Britain, as occupying forces, are responsible for transferring MKO members out of Iraq, spokesman of the MKO-run National Resistance Council <b>Karim Qasim</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The statements of the Iraqi governing council and Mr. Bremer are very different, and that is due to the campaign that MKO lawyers and supporters launched in Europe to prevent the extradition of MKO members to Iran, he adds. Key MKO operatives have already settled in Europe, former MKO central council member <b>Masoud Tayebi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. As someone who worked in this organization for twenty years, I know that the decision makers were never more than eight or ten people, and key members, who transmitted orders to the rank and file, did not exceed 200, he adds. The rank and file, who have been left behind in Iraq, should now have the right to decide individually about their destinations, he adds. The problem of the MKO members in Iraq should be resolved by the UN High Commissioner for the Refugees; the UN must find a safe place for them to go to, former MKO member <b>Shams Haeri</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. However, the regime's promise that MKO rank and file can safely return to Iran cannot be trusted, he adds. President Khatami promised to MKO head Masoud Rajavi's pilot that he can safely return to Iran. He returned to Iran three months ago and is still in the Evin prison, he says. (Bahman Bastani)
• Sending MKO members to Iran, as requested by the Islamic regime, does not agree with the provisions of the Geneva accord, Paris-based human rights advocate <b>Abdolkarim Lahiji</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The US and Britain, as occupying forces, are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of all persons on the Iraqi soil, including the MKO members. (Ali Sajjadi)
• Foreign ministry summoned Swiss Ambassador to hear Iran's displeasure with Ambassador Bremer's statement on MKO members. The relocation of MKO members to a safe third country, as Ambassador Bremer has suggested, would expand terrorism, foreign ministry official Mohammad-Hasan Fadai-far said. (Amir Armin)
• Relatives of MKO members petitioned the UN to intervene in order to prevent their deportation from Iraq. (Maryam Ahmadi)
<b>Reformists Warn of Low Voter Turnout, But Offer No New Plans</b>
• The conservatives have remained relatively quiet about the February 20 Majles elections, but the reformist politicians strongly urge the public to vote. One round of elections cannot solve all our problems, but staying away from the elections does not help either, President Khatami said today. However, after their failure to implement the promised reforms, Khatami and his followers appear submissive, and have begun to sound like their conservative rivals, their critics charge. In his speech today Khatami hoped that the Guardians Council would not be too stringent in reviewing the qualifications of election candidacy applicants. Khatami's bill to end the Guardians Council veto power over the election candidates was rejected by the Guardians Council after the Majles passed it. (Nima Tamadon)
<b>Khatami on Political Prisoners</b>
• Some jail sentences for political prisoners have been too unfair, and the country has paid a great price for its treatment of political prisoners, President Khatami said today in an impromptu press conference at the Majles after submitting his budget bill. He expressed hope that someday Iran would have no political prisoners. He said with the approval of the judiciary chief, a committee has been appointed to review the cases of political prisoners. Khatami said writer Akbar Ganji and student activist Ahmad Batebi were released from jail as a result of his talks with judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi. (Maryam Ahmadi)
<b>Yazd Judiciary Arrests Plainclothes Forces' Accuser</b>
• Yazd judiciary arrested Behruz Khaleqi, head of provincial association of trade unions, who had filed a complaint against the plainclothes forces for assaulting reformist MP Mohsen Mirdamadi. Meanwhile, the cleric who ordered the attack on Mirdamadi has not been arrested, because the special court for the clergy does not have a branch in Yazd. (Amir Armin)
نيما تمدن (راديوفردا): وزير امور خارجه پاکستان امروز اعلام کرد: تحقيقات رسمي، حاکي از امکان انتقال تکنولوژي هسته اي پاکستان به ايران است.
امير مصدق کاتوزيان (راديوفردا): محمود خان، وزير امور خارجه پاکستان، در گفتگو با خبرنگاران در اسلام آباد گفت: تحقيقات نشان دهنده شواهدي است که برخي افراد که، به گفته او، حرص و آز و انگيزه هاي شخصي محرک آنان بوده، ممکن است در انتقال تکنولوژي هسته اي پاکستان به ايران نقش داشتند.
روز گذشته مقامات امنيتي پاکستان اعلام کردند: عبدالقدير خان، سرشناس ترين دانشمند و کارشناس هسته اي اين کشور را در پيوند با امکان وجود ارتباط ميان برنامه هاي هسته اي پاکستان و ايران، مورد پرس و جو قرار داده اند. به گفته سخنگوي وزارت امور خارجه پاکستان در روز گذشته، از عبدالله خان که در توليد سلاح هاي اتمي پاکستان نقشي عمده داشت، همراه با گروهي ديگر از دانشمندان و کارشناسان بازجويي شده است.
اين اقدام پاکستان در پي انتشار اطلاعاتي صورت گرفت که حاکي از آن بود که ايران در برنامه غني سازي سانتريفيوژهاي خود، از همان طرحي استفاده کرده است که در آزمايشگاه هاي هسته اي پاکستان به کار برده شده است. محمود خان، وزير امور خارجه پاکستان، امروز اعلام کرد براساس تحقيقات رسمي، احتمال اين وجود دارد كه تکنولوژي هسته اي پاکستان به ايران انتقال يافته باشد. روز گذشته مقامات امنيتي پاکستان اعلام کردند که عبدالقدير خان، سرشناس ترين دانشمند و کارشناس هسته اي اين کشور را در پيوند با امکان وجود ارتباط ميان برنامه هاي هسته اي پاکستان و ايران، مورد پرس و جو قرار داده اند. اين اقدام پاکستان در پي انتشار اطلاعاتي صورت گرفت که حاکي از آن بود که ايران در سيستم گريزاز مركز در برنامه غني سازي اورانيوم خود، از همان طرحي استفاده کرده است که پاكستان در آزمايشگاه هاي هسته اي خود به كار برده است.