Summary of Iran Stories of Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiFriday, December 27, 2002
<b> Foreign Minister to Answer Questions on Handling Caspian Negotiations</b>
* At the request of 86 MPs, foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi is due at the open session of the Majles on Sunday to answer questions about the government's handling of the negotiations with the littoral states on Iran's share of the Caspian resources. Tehran MP Elaheh Kulai said it seems that, due to its unrealistic understanding of the regional players, the government has not been able to correctly defend Iran's interests. (Ardavan Niknam, Prague)
* Mehidi Safari, Iran's special envoy in Caspian affairs, told a gathering at the Uzbekistan strategic studies center in Tashkent that Iran considers its 1921 and 1940 treaties with the Soviet Union, which divided the Caspian Sea equally among the two nations, the best basis for developing a new legal regime. He said to show its goodwill, Iran is ready to accept the division of the Caspian equally among the five littoral states.
* A five-way division of the Caspian would give Iran a 20 percent share, but the other four states have indicated that Iran should accept a 12 percent share. (Ardavan Niknam, Prague)
<b>MPs Comment on Abdi's Defense in Pollsters' Trial</b>
* Reformist MPs defended Abbas Abdi's performance yesterday in court as a defendant in the pollsters' trail. Abdi, a high ranking board member of the pro-Khatami party the Participation Front, is charged, along with other polling agency officials, with spying for the US and "fabricating" public opinion polls. He admitted in open court to "mistakes" in approving a deal with the Gallop Organization as a member of the managing board of the padlocked Ayandeh public opinion survey agency. He also retracted some of the radical tactics he has advocated as one of the leading policymakers of the reformist faction, including the mass resignation of Khatami and reformist MPs and officials. Abdi was arrested 50 days ago after the publication of a poll that showed 75 percent of respondents favored resumption of relations with the US.
* Deputy Majles speaker and secretary-general of the Participation Front Mohammad-Reza Khatami called for Abdi's acquittal. He said anyone who has been in jail knows that long-term solitary confinement is one of the harshest forms of torture. He said one of the biggest problems of Iran is the lack of an independent judiciary. Head of the Majles national security and international relations committee Mohsen Mirdamai said those who have spent time in jail understand the true meaning of Abdi's statement about the good treatment he said he received in jail. MP Ali Shakuri-Rad, a board member of the Participation Front, said the prosecutor's indictment was a political statement, but Abdi and his lawyer pub up a legal defense. Hossein Ansari-Rad, head of the Majles complaints committee, said Abdi was not treated lawfully. Jafar Kambuzia, a reformist MP, asked what happened in jail that forced Abdi to change the positions he had defended for years. (Maryam Ahmadi, Washington)
* Abdi retracted most of his radical positions, including his criticism of dual government, his mass resignation idea and his proposal to hold a referendum to solve the differences between the two factions. Some analysts believe that Abdi's trial was an end of radical reformism in Iranian politics. (Mehdi Khalaji, Prague)
<b>Four Newspapers Close, Two Newspapers Resume Publication</b>
* The judiciary closed four pro-reform newspapers and magazines, as two banned newspapers resumed publication. Ali-Reza Fuladi, publisher of "Qom-e Emruz (Qom Today)" said he closed his newspaper voluntarily after he came under pressure just before the local councils' elections. An appeals court in Tabriz banned Shams-e Tabriz newspaper and sentenced its publisher to two years in jail and 74 lashes. In Qazvin, the weekly Minudar resumed publication after the third suspension of its license by the judiciary. In Tehran, the Bahar daily started publication after a two-year ban. (Ali Sajjadi, Washington)
<b>Iran and Uzbekistan to Help Rebuild Afghanistan Roads</b>
* The transportation and roads ministers of Iran, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan met in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, to discuss three-way cooperation on reconstruction of Afghanistan roads. (Ali Sajjadi, Washington)
<b>FBI Requests Records of Foreign Students</b>
* As part of their investigation into the terrorist attacks, the FBI, INS and other governmental agencies have asked universities across the country for students' personal information. The request has met resistance from some higher education institutions.
* Cyrus Homayounfar, a director of the Washington-based University Continuing Education Association, tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that most colleges and universities have not yet formed a decision on the FBI's request, but the association of universities admission staff has told its membership that releasing personal information on students requires subpoenas. He adds that the Civil Liberties Union and other human rights organizations plan to challenge the FBI's request. (Ali Sajjadi, Washington)
<b>Siamese Twins to Separate at 30</b>
* After a month of studies, the surgery team of a hospital in Singapore said the 30-year-old Iranian Siamese twins Laleh and Ladan can be separated. (Golnaz Esfandiari, Prague)
<b>Russia Assures US on Iran's Nuclear Plans</b>
* Russia's minister of atomic energy Alexander Rumyantsev said on his return to Moscow from his first official visit to Iran that Iran's nuclear programs do not include developing atomic weapons. He said Russia and Iran would sign an accord next month on the transfer of spent nuclear fuel out of Iran. (Nazai Azima, Prague)
<b>Wife of Jailed Iranian Student in Iraq Faults Foreign Ministry</b>
* Wife of Mohammad Nassiri, a student activist who was arrested in Iraq last month, said the foreign ministry neglected to obtain the release of her husband from detention in Iraq. Iraqi police arrested Nasiri last month. Nasiri, a board member of the Shiraz (conservative) wing of the association of students Islamic councils, said he was there on religious pilgrimage. Nasiri's wife said the foreign ministry has also failed to issue a warnings to Iranians who plan to go on pilgrimage to religious shrines in Iraq. (Ardavan Niknam, Prague)
<b>Senior Conservative Cleric Defends Stoning</b>
* Senior Shiite cleric Ayatollah Rahim Mohammadi Ilami, a member of the Assembly of Experts, said there is no replacement in the Shiite jurisprudence for stoning, the Islamic punishment for adultery. After the visit to Tehran two weeks ago of the EU's human rights envoys, sources within the judiciary told the press that judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Shahrudi banned stoning in an order to judges. The ban came after the EU made it a condition for the resumption of the comprehensive trade talks. But Ayatollah Ilami said no religion would be complete without harsh punishments. (Siavsah Ardalan, Prague)
هشتادوشش نماينده مجلس شوراي اسلامي، كمال خرازي، وزيرامورخارجه جمهوري اسلامي را براي توضيح در باره اقدامات دولت در باره تامين منافع ايران در درياي خزر، به صحن علني فراخواندند. الهه كولائي، مخبر كميسيون امنيت ملي و سياست خارجي مجلس امروز گفت خرازي روز يكشنبه در مجلس حاضر خواهد شد تا در باره اقدامات دولتع در دفاع از حقوق ايران در مذاكرات برسر نحوه تقسيم منابع اين دريا توضيح بدهد.. وي گفت: با توجه به روند شكل گيري رژيم حقوقي درياي خزر و اقدامات كشورهاي ساحلي در تامين منافع خود در اين حوزه، به نظر مي رسد جمهوري اسلامي به علت درك غيرواقع بينانه از محيط منطقه و بازيگران آن، تاكنون نتوانسته است به درستي از منافع ايران دفاع كند. در ارديبهشت ماه گذشته، پس از برگزاري اجلاس ناكام سران كشورهاي ساحلي درياي خزر در عشق آباد، تركمنستان، نمايندگان مجلس همين سئوال را در كميسيون امنيت ملي مطرح كردند اما به گفته الهه كولائي، توضيحات وزيرامورخارجه نمايندگان مجلس را قانع نكرد.