Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiWednesday, April 14, 2004
<b>Foreign Ministry Delegation To Negotiate With Moqtada Sadr</b>
• Iran sent a five-man delegation headed by foreign ministry's director for Persian Gulf affairs Hossein Sadeghi to Iraq to help end a stand-off between the US and the insurgent forces loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. “There is no mediation. We are here to have a clear assessment of the situation to have a better understanding of what's going on in Iraq,” Sadeghi said. Foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said the US formally asked Iran for help to ease mounting violence in Iraq, a claim that a US State Department official refused to confirm. “As far as Iranian involvement in southern Iraq, it is our position that to the extent that Iraq's neighbors can help calm the situation and help achieve a stable transition, those efforts would be welcome,” the unidentified US official said, according to the AFP. Another US official said the delegation had gone to Iraq on invitation of the British government.
• Italy asked the Islamic Republic for help to obtain the release of four Italian hostages held in Iraq by the insurgents.
• Spreading Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are the central goals of the Islamic Republic's foreign policy, Washington-based human rights activist <b>Naser Rashidi</b>, member of the national coalition for democracy, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The regime promotes and sponsors terrorist acts and kidnapping, and then steps in as mediator to obtain the release of the hostages, he adds. “The biggest mistake would be sitting at a negotiating table that the regime has arranged,” he says. (Parichehr Farzam)
• Internationally acclaimed news photographer <b>Abbas Attar</b>, a founder of the Paris-based news photo syndication company Magnum, tells <b>Radio Farda</b> in an interview from Paris that he was released last Friday in Basra, within a few hours after being taken hostage along with a BBC reporter by men loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. The captors returned his negatives, but stole his camera and cell phone, he adds. Sixty Iraqi policemen watched as five men abducted Abbas after he finished taking photos from a Friday prayer ceremony in the center of the city. “It was obvious that the Sadr men, not the Iraqi police, were in charge of the city” he says. (Golnaz Esfandiari)
<b>Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Faults UNHRC on Iran</b>
• Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, who was in Geneva to attend a session of the UN Human Rights Commission, criticized the commission for its silence about violations of human rights in Iran. Ebadi and Karim Lahidji, Paris-based president of the League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran, were speaking after time ran out for Western countries to present a resolution on Iran to the annual session of the UN Human Rights Commission, according to Reuters. “There is little freedom of speech, women are treated as second-class citizens, and there is discrimination under our laws on the basis of one's religion,” Ebadi said.
<b>IAEA Chief Calls for More Information From Iran on Nuclear Program</b>
• In a speech to a seminar at the Cairo University, head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed ElBaradei urged Iran to show “more transparency and give more information” about its nuclear program. “We are working with Iran now, but our work is not done yet,” he said. ElBaradei's comments came as UN nuclear inspectors were in Iran trying to confirm whether Iran has stopped suspicious nuclear activities — including the building of centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the AP reported.
<b>Cabinet Shuffle: Key Ministers May Resign</b>
• In its final year in office, the Khatami government appears shaky. After the conservatives won the majority of the Majles seats in last February's elections, Khatami told his ministers in a recent cabinet meeting that there is no obstacle to accept their resignations. Head of management and planning organization Mohammad Sattarifar, interior minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, education minister Morteza Hajji, transportation minister Ahmad Khorram, finance and economic affairs minister Tahmasb Mazaheri plan to resign, according to the state run “labor” news agency ILNA. But cabinet spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said a possible cabinet shuffle has not been discussed, even though some ministers have already had conversations with Khatami about their resignations. Meanwhile, the transportation minister denied the rumors and said he would not resign, even if his head was chopped off. The finance minister said he would follow Khatami's decision. The interior and housing ministers, who accompanied Khatami to Bam yesterday, said they had no plans to resign. It appears that the conservatives are pressuring Khatami to purge his cabinet. Some of the ministers, who no longer see no chance of success for their reform plans, prefer to exit before the end of Khatami's term. Furthermore, Khatami has a history of not standing up for his ministers, when they became targets of conservatives' attacks.
<b> Foreign Earthquake Relief Was $6.7 Million, Not $400 Million, Khatami Says</b>
• Iran received a total of $6.7 million in earthquake relief from foreign sources, President Khatami said, during his second visit to Bam since the earthquake last December which killed 26,000 of the ancient city's residents and leveled 90 percent of its structures. “Unfortunately there has been an exaggeration of the amount of foreign aid,” he added. The $400 million allocated as Bam earthquake relief by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council member states is in the form of credit, from which Iran will surely benefit in the future, Khatami said.
<b>Cabinet Ministers Clash Over Spending Surplus Fund</b>
• In an open letter, head of management and planning organization Mohammad Sattarifar asked finance minister Tahmasb Mazaheri to allocate $1 billion from the oil revenue surplus fund for loans to the private sector to create jobs. In response, Mazaheri reminded his fellow cabinet member that according to the law, the surplus fund can only be used when oil revenue drops below budgeted levels. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
<b>Recession Despite Higher Oil Revenues</b>
• In spite of higher oil revenues, the Iranian economy appears to be in a slump, as stock prices fall, gold and dollar rise, and trade volume in the Tehran bazaar falls. The economic slowdown can be credited to regional crises, foreign policies and Iran's domestic conflicts. Furthermore, international suspicions over Iran's nuclear program and the worsening relations with the EU countries have contributed to the atmosphere of uncertainty. (Fereydoun Khavand, Paris)
<b>Structural and Service Problems Keep New $500 Million Khomeini Airport Closed</b>
• The new $500 million Khomeini International Airport just south of Tehran, which was inaugurated with fanfare two months ago, has remained unusable, due to substandard construction and planning. The engineers who had worked on the project since its inception four years before the revolution, abandoned it after the project was given to the foundation for the dispossessed (Bonyad Mostaz'afin)'s construction companies. The Bonyad changed many of the original plan's specifications, and the result is an airport that its runways need repaving and does have the right equipment to for fueling jets. (Arash Qavidel, Tehran)
<b>Tabriz Court Arraigns Jailed Journalist Hedayat</b>
• The Tabriz Islamic revolutionary court today arraigned independent journalist Ensafali Hedayat for distributing anti-regime propaganda and insulting the Supreme Leader, lawyer <b>Abbas Jalali</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Charges of instigating public to rebellion, attacking the police and participating in the Berlin conference of secular republican coalition were dropped, he adds. The Tabriz security police arrested Hedayat three months ago, a day after he returned from Berlin where he had attended the first convention of the Etehad-e Jumhurikhahan-e Iran. Hedayat told the court today that he attended the convention as a reporter, not as a anti-regime activist, lawyer <b>Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>, adding that Hedayat's other lawyer Nemat Ahmadi argued against the charges. The court will issue a verdict tomorrow, Jalali says. (Jamshid Zand)
فاطمه امان (راديو فردا): يك مقام بلندپايه وزارت امورخارجه آمريكا گفت که واشنگتن اقدام سازنده ايران در آرام كردن اوضاع ناآرام عراق را خوشامد مي گويد و از آن استقبال مي كند. خبرگزاري فرانسه به نقل از اين مقام بلندپايه كه حاضر به افشاي نامش نشده است، گزارش مي دهد تا آنجا كه ايران، كشور همسايه عراق در جنوب اين كشور به آرامتر كردن اوضاع كمك كند، اقدام تهران با استقبال واشنگتن روبرو خواهد بود.
مسعود ملك (راديو فردا): يك مقام وزارت امور خارجه آمريكا با اشاره به نقش ايران در جنوب عراق گفت: كشورهاي همسايه عراق مي توانند در برقراري امنيت و هموار كردن راه براي انتقال حاكميت به عراقيها مفيد واقع شوند و اضافه كرد: تلاش سازنده اين كشورها مورد استقبال قرار خواهد گرفت.
اين مقام حاضر نشد درباره ورود هيات ايراني به عراق در روز چهارشنبه به منظور كمك به دستيابي به توافقي بين نيروهاي ائتلاف و مقتدي صدر، رهبر تندروي شيعيان عراق، جزئياتي ارائه دهد. وي همچنين درباره ادعاي كمال خرازي، وزير خارجه ايران، داير بر تقاضاي رسمي آمريكا از جمهوري اسلامي براي آرام كردن اوضاع در جنوب عراق اظهار نظر نكرد، اما تاييد كرد: ايالات متحده از طريق كانالهاي ديپلماتيك احتمالا سفارت سوئيس در تهران با جمهوري اسلامي در تماس بوده است.
اين درحالي است كه برخي از مقامها و سناتورهاي آمريكايي، نگراني خود را از احتمال تحريك شيعيان جنوب عراق به قيام توسط جمهوري اسلامي ابراز كرده اند. ايرنا، خبرگزاري دولتي ايران گزارش داد: هيات نمايندگي جمهوري اسلامي به سرپرستي حسين صادقي، مدير كل امور خليج فارس در وزارت امور خارجه عازم بغداد شده تا با مقامهاي مذهبي و حكومتي عراق گفتگو كند.
حسين صادقي به خبرگزاري فرانسه در بغداد گفت: او براي ميانجيگري به عراق نرفته، اما ممكن است او و هيات همراهش در نجف با مقتدي صدر ديدار كنند. آقاي صادقي گفت: هيچ نوع ماموريت ميانجيگري در كار نيست. ما آمده ايم از وضعيت عراق يك ارزيابي دسته اول داشته باشيم و بدين وسيله درك بهتري از اوضاع كشور همسايه كسب كنيم. اين مقام ايراني گفت: عراق همسايه ايران است و ايران هميشه از تحولات منفي عراق نگران بوده است. او گفت: آتش سوزي در خانه همسايه نمي تواند موجب نگراني نباشد. يك مقام بلندپايه وزارت امورخارجه آمريكا گفت که واشنگتن اقدام سازنده جمهوري اسلامي در آرام كردن اوضاع ناآرام عراق را خوشامد مي گويد. وي درباره ادعاي كمال خرازي، وزير امور خارجه جمهوري اسلامي، داير بر تقاضاي رسمي آمريكا از ايران اظهار نظر نكرد، اما تاييد كرد که آمريکا با جمهوري اسلامي در تماس بوده است. در همين حال، هيات نمايندگي جمهوري اسلامي به سرپرستي حسين صادقي، مدير كل امور خليج فارس در وزارت امور خارجه، عازم بغداد شد تا با مقامهاي مذهبي و حكومتي عراق گفتگو كند. حسين صادقي گفت که براي ميانجيگري به عراق نرفته است ولي افزود با مقتدي صدر ديدار خواهد كرد و گفت ايران نمي تواند از ناآرامي در عراق نگران نباشد.