Summary of Iran Stories of Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiMonday, December 30, 2002
<b>Failure of Iran's Foreign Policy in the Caspian</b>
The 86 MPs who questioned foreign minister at the Majles today charged that the foreign ministry has failed to secure Iran's interests in its negotiations with the littoral states about the division of the Caspian Sea resources. Foreign minister Kamal Kharazi said reliance on Russia or improving relations with super powers could not have helped Iran's position.
* Washington-based Marine Law and Caspian Sea expert Bahman Aghai Diba tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that the Caspian Sea littoral states have begun exploiting its resources with no regard for Iran's interests, and it seems that Iran will end up with only 13 percent in the most undesirable area. Additionally, two pipelines have been planned that in effect circle Iran, leaving it with no benefit from producing and transferring oil and gas from the Caspian Sea. He blames the regime's "unproductive and wrong" policies towards its neighbors, Europe and the US for the failure in the Caspian Sea area. (Iraj Arianpour, Washington)
* MP Elaheh Kulai, spokesperson of the Majles national security and foreign relations committee, said Kharrazi's explanations did not satisfy the MPs. She said the US is not an ideological enemy of Iran. She added that the US is not so different from Britain or Russia, the countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations. (Alireza Taheri, Prague)
<b>26 Inmates Die in Goran Jail Fire</b>
* Abasali Arab, director of Gorgan prison, said 27 inmates died and more than 50 inmates were injured as a result of an electrical fire early this morning.
* Gorgan-based independent journalist Nasser Mahimani tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that more than 200 inmates were trapped in their cell when the fire broke out in the prison's ceiling. He adds that the prison's building was new and construction was going on in parts of the building. (Jamshid Chalangi, Prague)
<b>Freedom Movement Calls for Keeping Local Councils "Apolitical" </b>
* In a statement issued in Tehran, the nationalist-religious opposition party the Freedom Movement of Iran asked political parties and factions to avoid exploiting the upcoming local councils' elections for political gains.
* Washington-based anthropologist and political commentator Mohammad Borghei tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that FMI believes that the local councils are the most basic civil society institutions and need to remain free of factional disputes and political rivalries. He said FMI asked political parties to name worthy candidates from a competing party when they can't find a qualified person among their own members in an area. (Ali Sajjadi, Washington)
<b>Foreign Pressures and Improvement of Women's Rights</b>
* Violence against women and gender discrimination were among the topics of discussion two weeks ago in Tehran between EU's human rights delegation and the Iranian authorities. One result of those talks was judiciary's order yesterday to end death by stoning punishment for women adulterers. Tehran MP Elaheh Kulai said we have witnessed that improving women's rights could not be accomplished without pressure from foreign countries. Paris-based sociologist Ehsan Naraqi said social developments within Iran would follow with reforms in women's rights. Soon, he adds, nearly 70 percent of all professionals will be women, and no court would be able to say that a woman's right is half of a man's. (Mahdieh Javid, Washington)
<b>Court Charges MP Bourghani in Pollsters' Case</b>
* On the third day of interrogations, the bench 1410 of Tehran's public court indicted the Tehran MP Ahmad Bourghani, spokesman of the Majles management board in the judiciary's case against the officials of two public opinion survey agencies who are charged with spying for the US. Bourghani was charged with squandering public funds and aiding Behruz Geranpayeh, head of the padlocked national public opinion research institute. Bourghani said he approved a 200 million rial grant for the pollster four years ago when he was a deputy culture minister, but added that the polling institute had already been created at the ministry by his predecessors. Gernapayeh, along with Abbas Abdi and Hossein Ghazian, officials of Ayandeh, the other padlocked polling agency, were arrested two months ago after the publication of a poll that showed 75 percent of respondents favor resumption of US-Iran relations. (Mahmonir Rahimi, Prague)
* Ramezan Hajj-Mashhadi, one of the lawyers of the defendants in the pollsters' case tells <Radio Farda> that Bourghani is charged with helping one of the polling agencies, but he adds that Bourghani explained to the court that the national public opinion research institute existed long before he became deputy culture minister. (Mahmonir Rahimi, Prague)
<b>Iran to Build Seven Refugee Camps near Iraqi Border</b>
* The governor of Khuzestan province announced that in anticipation of a possible US attack on Iraq, seven refugee camps will be built in two areas near the border with Iraq to meet the needs of an expected influx of Iraqi refugees. He added that the Esfahan and Fars provinces are charged with providing services to the refugees. (Bahman Bastani, Prague)
<b>Students' Sit-In Protests in Esfahan and Tehran</b>
* As the students' sit-in in the Tehran's Elm va San'at (Science and Industry) University to protest the expulsion of 300 students enters its second week, the students of the Esfahan Honar (Arts) University began a sit-in to protest management corruption. (Shireen Famili, Prague)
<b>Majles Approves Fines for Illegal Use of Satellite TV Receivers</b>
* According to the three articles of the bill to reform the ban on the use of satellite receivers which was approved yesterday by the Majles, "illegal" use of satellite receivers would be fined. Despite the legal ban, viewing TV broadcasts via satellite receivers have been rising. (Mahmonir Rahimi, Prague)
<b>Esfahan MP Says Police and Guards Disturbed his Lecture</b>
* In a letter to defense minister Ali Shamkhai, Esfahan's reformist MP Rajab-Ali Mazrui said members of the police and the revolutionary guards, using government vehicles and equipment, disrupted his lecture in the northern city of Sari. (Mahmonir Rahimi, Prague)
<b>Impact of Rising Oil Price on Iran's Economy</b>
* Tehran-based economist Ali Rashidi tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that the rising price of crude oil in the world markets would increase Iran's foreign exchange reserve fund. He says that the budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year requires $16 billion in oil revenues at $19 per barrel, but Iran may earn much more if the current price of $28.50 per barrel holds. (Fereydoun Zarnegar, Prague)
* Despite high oil prices in the past three years, Iran's foreign exchange reserve fund is empty, according to Hamid-Reza Baradaran-Shoraka, deputy director of the management and planning organization, who said the budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year projects borrowing $2 billion from foreign sources in order to pay for development projects. This was the first time that a high-ranking official revealed the balance of Iran's foreign exchange reserve fund. Only 14 months ago, an official under Baradaran-Shoraka put the balance at $10 billion. The foreign exchange reserve fund was created by the third Five-Year Economic Development Plan for depositing oil revenue above the budgeted amount as an insurance against the possible fall of oil prices below budgeted amounts. (Fereydoun Khavand, Paris)
<b>Ahwaz MP Calls for Removal of Police Chiefs</b>
* After widespread disturbances in the Arab neighborhoods of Ahwaz, which were reportedly caused by police raids on homes with satellite antennas and shops selling music CDs and DVDs, Jasem Shadidzadeh called for the removal of the city's and the province's police chiefs. (Shahran Tabari, Prague)
<b>Ministry Bans Refusing AIDS Patients</b>
* The healthcare ministry ordered doctors, clinics and hospitals not to turn away patients infected with AIDS virus, the HIV. (Mahmonir Rahimi, Prague)
عباسعلي عرب، رئيس زندان گرگان، مركز استان گلستان، اعلام كرد در حادثه آتش سوزي ناشي از اتصال برق، 27 زنداني كشته و 50 تن مجروح شدند. زندانيان قرباني بين 20 تا 69 سال سن داشتند. ناصر مهيمني، روزنامه نگار مستقل ساكن گرگان در مصاحبه با راديوفردا مي گويد: حادثه ساعت سه صبح اتفاق افتاد. وي مي گويد زنداني كه طعمه حريق شد، واقع در سه كيلومتري شهر گرگان نوساز است و همه قسمت هاي آن هنوز تكميل نشده است. وي مي افزايد هنگام آتش سوزي كه از سقف زندان شروع شد، 200 نفر آنجا بودند و چون زندان بسته بود، 27 نفر آنجا كشته شدند و ده نفر هم حالشان وخيم است.