Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Feb 2000 to 28 Feb 2000
There are 11 messages totalling 971 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
1. Women's issues at top of Iran
2. Iran gives green light to locomotive deal with France
3. The special economic free zone district on Iran's Kish Island could play
4. Iran: Qatar seeks joint energy consortium
5. SUCCESSES IN AGRI TURKEY AND IRAQI KURDISTAN
6. RADIO FREE EUROPE-IRAN WEEKLY REPORT-PART 1/2
7. RADIO FREE EUROPE-IRAN WEEKLY REPORT-PART 2/2
8. European Ministers To Visit Iran
9. Iranian minister heads trade mission to Bahrain
10. Iranian police go on trial for July student attack
11. Goodwill Toward Iran
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 10:04:39 EST
Subject: Women's issues at top of Iran
Women's issues at top of Iran
February 27, 2000
Web posted at: 1:01 PM EST (1801 GMT)
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Improving the status of women
will be at the
top of the agenda for Iran's new parliament dominated by
reformists, a woman MP said on Sunday.
Soheila Jelodarzadeh, a women's rights activist, said she
would benefit from the more liberal thinking in the
incoming assembly, which
convenes in May.
"Given the scarcity of women elected, we need help and
male deputies for enough votes to pursue women's issues,"
she told the
official IRNA news agency.
A total of nine women were elected to the 290-seat
parliament and six more
face run-off votes. The outgoing assembly has 14 women out
The new parliament will be dominated by moderate MPs,
than 100 reformers sympathetic to women's causes.
Jelodarzadeh, one of the biggest vote-winners in the
February 18 elections,
said she would push to amend laws in favor of women in the
"The present civil code is 90 years old and ineffective,"
she said. "The law
has to be revised, given the high status of women in
Women's social and professional status have generally
improved in Islamic
Iran, but many women still feel discriminated against.
The present parliament dominated by religious conservatives
voted last week
to make it easier for a women to seek divorce but the
still make it difficult for many women to do so.
Grounds for divorce by a woman include: the husband's
leaving the family
for more than six months, his addiction to drugs, refusal
to support the
family, impotence or sterility, mistreating his wife or
favoring other wives.
Jelodarzadeh said she was preparing a bill to stop parents
from forcing their
daughters to get married at an early age. Women were
entitled to greater
financial support from the state, she added.
"Women are being discriminated against and making the least
use of public
resources. They are entitled to a bigger chunk of state
budget," she said.
Jelodarzadeh also called for more women's support groups to
"victimized by their families or society."
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 12:55:23 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran gives green light to locomotive deal with France
Iran gives green light to locomotive deal with
The deal will cover 100 diesel-electric locomotives from builders Alstom
$192 mln to boost the country's railway services.
February 28, 2000, 01:05 PM
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's government has endorsed a contract with France to
diesel-electric locomotives from builders Alstom for 192 million euros
(dollars) to boost the
country's railway services, officials said Monday.
The deal, funded by a consortium of French banks, was signed for
the first time in December 1997 then scrapped for budgetary reasons. It
was revived in October
last year when Iran's President Mohammad Khatami visited France.
Once the cash is released 20 locomotives will be delivered ready to start
work immediately. The
remaining 80 will be assembled in state-owned factories in Iran.
Alstom official Hutin Khorami told AFP the new engines will boost by 20
percent the capacity of
Iran's 5,200 kilometres (3,250 miles) of railways, which urgently require
development to improve links with the former Soviet republics of central
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 12:56:39 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: The special economic free zone district on Iran's Kish Island could
The special economic free zone district on Iran's Kish Island could play
one day to an official US presence, report says.
January 24, 2000, 10:26 AM
TEHRAN (Reuters) - The head of Iran's special economic district on Kish
Island has suggested
his free zone could play host one day to an official US presence - seen as
unacceptable on the
In an interview published on Sunday, Mohammad Reza Yazdan-
Panah said he would be prepared to support any such move by the American
side. No request
has been made, he said.
"The Americans, like any other nationality, can come to Kish without
visas," Yazdan-Panah told
the daily Abrar-e Eqtesadi.
"Except for Israeli nationals, there is no limitation on anyone." Asked
how the free trade zone
authorities would react to a request by the US government for some sort of
formal presence on
the island, he said: "A decision on this comes under the authority of the
foreign ministry, but if
we receive such a thing, we will take a positive look at it and will
forward it to the foreign ministry
for a decision." Kish is in the northeastern part of the Gulf, about 17 km
(11 miles) off the Iranian
Last year a US proposal for a temporary consular mission to Tehran was
quashed by the Iranian
officials, amid warnings by conservatives of a continued threat from
Washington to the ideals of
the Islamic revolution.
Ties between the two countries were severed in the wake of the 1979
takeover of the US
embassy in Tehran by militant students. A recent thaw in cultural contacts
has done little so far
to bridge deep diplomatic and political differences.
Kish and other free-trade zones have begun attracting foreign investment
and tourists, lured by
visa-free travel and favourable economic regulations. Foreign firms also
use it as a jumping-off
point for direct investment in the mainland.
"Except for Israeli nationals, there is no limitation on anyone." Iranian
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 12:57:24 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran: Qatar seeks joint energy consortium
Iran: Qatar seeks joint energy consortium
Qatar seeks to establish consortiums to transfer Persian Gulf oil and gas
Europe, acoording to Iranian sources.
January 26, 2000, 11:06 AM
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Qatar seeks a joint consortium with Iran to carry oil
and gas from the Gulf
to Europe, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said on Wednesday.
"Qatar is interested in implementing joint ventures with Iran and to
establish consortiums to transfer Persian Gulf oil and gas to Europe,"
IRNA quoted visiting
Qatar's Minister of state for Foreign Affairs Abdullah bin Khalifa
Al-Attiyah as saying.
It said Attiyah had conveyed the message in talks on Tuesday with Iranian
The Qatari official also said Qatar's Emir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa
Al-Thani had accepted an
invitation from President Mohammad Khatami to visit Iran. He did not give
Iran and Qatar share a huge gas field in the Gulf.
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 14:51:00 EST
Subject: SUCCESSES IN AGRI TURKEY AND IRAQI KURDISTAN
International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR)
* SIT-IN OF IRANIAN REFUGEES IN IRAQI
* THE TURKISH AUTHORITIES IN AGRI ARE
FORCED TO BACK DOWN
SIT-IN OF IRANIAN REFUGEES IN IRAQI
February 28, 2000
The sit-in of 170 Iranian refugees, which began on February 6, 2000 in
protest to the policies of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) Soleymanieh office in Iraqi Kurdistan, ended
successfully on February 17, 2000.
After numerous meetings between the UNHCR and Hagir Saeedi,
the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) - Soleymanieh
Branch Representative and others, the UNHCR agreed to address
all refugee demands within 45 days, including:
* Register all refugees and provide refugee determination interviews,
* Review rejected casefiles,
* Re-commence third country resettlement interviews and transfers,
* Increase resettlement quotas, and,
* Provide financial and medical assistance.
In continuation of its campaign in defense of Iranian refugees in Northern
Iraq, Maryam Namazie, IFIR's Executive Director, met with Foad
Masoom, Political Bureau member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
and Dilshad Miran, Central Committee member of the Kurdish
Democratic Party of Iraq. Namazie discussed the status of Iranian
refugees and IFIR branches in Soleymanieh and Erbil. The
representatives of the two ruling parties agreed to follow up on
issues discussed, including formal recognition of IFIR branches
in Northern Iraq.
IFIR congratulates groups and individuals who joined the campaign
in defense of the sit-in participants and cautiously awaits the
ruling parties' and the UNHCR's implementation of their pledges.
THE TURKISH AUTHORITIES IN AGRI ARE
FORCED TO BACK DOWN
February 28, 2000
The Turkish government's assault on Iranian refugee rights, which
began on January 26, 2000, in Agri, ended successfully with the
intervention of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR),
and other groups and individuals.
Last month, the Turkish police had accused all 500 Iranian refugees
residing in the border town of Agri of entering Turkey legally and
with passports though they had registered with the authorities and
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as
having entered without official documents. With this blanket
and unsubstantiated accusation, the Turkish police demanded that
all refugees hand over their alleged passports or lose their temporary
residency in Turkey, thereby facing refoulement (forcible return) to Iran.
Subsequent local and international protests forced the Turkish authorities
to back down. According to the IFIR Representative in Agri, the situation
in the border town has returned to normalcy.
The return to normalcy and an end to the climate of fear among refugees
in Agri is the direct result of international solidarity and support. IFIR
congratulates those who intervened on the refugees' behalf.
For more information, contact Maryam Namazie, GPO, PO Box 7051,
New York, NY 10116. Tel; 212-747-1046. Fax: 212-425-7260.
E-mail: email@example.com. Website: www.hambastegi.org
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 00:05:50 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: RADIO FREE EUROPE-IRAN WEEKLY REPORT-PART 1/2
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
RFE/RL IRAN REPORT
Vol. 3, No. 9, 28 Febuary 2000
A Review of Developments in Iran Prepared by the Regional
Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team.
* PUBLIC EXPECTATIONS HIGH FOR REFORMIST VICTORS
* ELECTION RESULTS AND VIOLATIONS
* FOREIGN REACTIONS GENERALLY POSITIVE
* WASHINGTON AND THE ELECTION
* A PAT ON THE HEAD?
* DEVELOPMENT PLAN TO ADDRESS AGRICULTURAL SHORTCOMINGS
* CZECH PARTICIPATION IN BUSHEHR BLOCKED...BUT NOT IN
PUBLIC EXPECTATIONS HIGH FOR REFORMIST VICTORS.
Many Iranian publications greeted the reformist gains in
the parliamentary election with pleasure, but already,
questions are being asked what the new parliament's plans for
the future will be. So far, all indications are that there is
no plan. But as many incumbents learned on 18 February,
failure to meet public expectations could have serious
"Kar va Kargar," linked with the reformist Labor House,
said on 20 February that this was the second lesson, the
first being Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami's election in May
1997. Its 22 February issue reported that by their
participation, people had shown that they want changes within
a legal and constitutional framework. Parliamentarian Hashem
Aghajari told the 22 February "Ham-Mihan"-- Executives of
Construction Party General-Secretary Gholamhussein
Karbaschi's new daily--that the 29th of Bahman (18 February)
showed that society is thirsty for reform.
The hardline "Jebheh" appears to have been writing about
an entirely different election, because on 19 February it
described the "Heavy Defeat of the 2nd of Khordad Front."
There were some cautionary comments. Iranian political
commentators told the 23 February "Ham-Mihan" that the new
parliament will be able to work better with the executive
branch, but the headline warned that "People should not have
wonderful expectations of the reformists." The 23 February
"Payam-i Azadi" also sounded a cautionary note: "Let's be
careful! Let's study this golden age."
"Arya" wondered on 19 February, "The elections are over,
what will happen tomorrow?" Prognostications have been
varied. The 19 February "Siyasat" said the next step for the
2nd of Khordad front was leadership of the parliament.
"Aftab-i Imruz" director Karim Arqandpur predicted on 23
February that the next speaker of parliament will be either
Mohammad Reza Khatami or Mohsen Mirdamadi.
Said Hajjarian of the Islamic Iran Participation Party
told the 19 February "Aftab-i Imruz" that the new reformist
parliamentarians will be confronted with many of the same
issues the last parliament faced. They must, therefore, study
them thoroughly before taking any actions. He added that
their strategy would not be based on factional divisions,
because all the factions have worked together in the past,
and it will therefore be a four-year (the length of a term)
national strategy. Reformist candidate Behzad Nabavi warned
that "We should not be after outlandish programs and must not
create expectations among people," Reuters reported on 21
In the run-up to the election, however, reformists has
promised increased personal and press freedom, and
strengthened political parties. Newly-elected Isfahan
representative Rajabali Mazrui, for example, said a first
step would be to change the law banning satellite dishes, AFP
reported on 22 February.
People also want but apparently do not expect, economic
improvements. A 29-year old businessman told AFP on 21
February that "I would do anything to get out of the country.
Things just aren't working here." A 25-year old student told
AFP that "The economy is still horrible. I don't think
anything will change."
And consequently, the nature of public expectations is
likely to play a critical role. The people who elected the
reformists are presumably the same ones who elected President
Khatami. Until now, his supporters have been able to argue
that a conservative parliament has blocked Khatami's plans.
But a reformist majority eliminates this excuse. Now, if
social reforms are not forthcoming and if new jobs do not
materialize, Khatami may lose much of his public support.
Unless, of course, the new parliament seeks to blame its
predecessor for the problems of today. (Bill Samii)
ELECTION RESULTS AND VIOLATIONS.
Some 69.25 percent, or 26.8 million, of Iran's 38.7
million voters cast ballots in the parliamentary election,
the Interior Ministry announced on 26 February. The final
tally will not be known until May, when run-offs are held in
52 constituencies for 65 seats, but as of 26 February, 148
parliamentary seats were won by reformists, 37 by
conservatives, 35 by independents, and 5 by religious
minorities. The number of women deputies fell from 13 in the
fifth parliament to eight in the sixth, "Iran" reported on 24
February. Results for Tehran's 30 seats were delayed amidst
allegations of irregularities and ballot-box stuffing.
There were complaints that the Tehran vote-count had
been delayed so an unnamed well-known candidate (presumably
Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who was faring badly, near the
bottom of the top 30) would benefit, "Payam-i Azadi" and
"Bayan" reported on 23 February. Meanwhile, "Resalat"
reported that the counting was delayed to favor the
reformists. It noted that Interior Ministry Deputy Mustafa
Tajzadeh, who heads Iran's election headquarters, is a member
of the Islamic Iran Participation Party.
Seminarians in Orumieh staged a rally to protest
electoral violations, "Sobh-i Imruz" and "Jomhuri-yi Islami"
reported. A losing candidate in Kurdistan Province claimed
that state broadcasting favored one of his opponents, "Ham-
Mihan" reported on 23 February. A candidate in Semnan asked
that release of the results be delayed because of vote-
rigging, "Sobh-i Imruz" reported on 21 February. (Bill Samii)
FOREIGN REACTIONS GENERALLY POSITIVE.
Many foreign governments have reacted positively to the
18 February parliamentary election, claiming that the results
justified their close relations with Iran. British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook said on 21 February that "The high
turnout for the parliamentary elections is strong evidence of
an open and vigorous contest." And he added that "This is a
clear signal of the Iranian people's interest in
modernization and welcome confirmation that our policy of
dialogue with Iran is correct. I very much look forward to
continuing to work with the Iranian government to take
forward the process of engagement, including during my
forthcoming visit to Tehran."
The Austrian Foreign Ministry claimed prescience. Its
general-secretary, Albert Rohan, said "Of course, to
strengthen the reform faction around President Mohammad
Khatami turned out be right," Vienna's "Die Presse" reported
on 22 February. Rohan expects Austria to be at the forefront
of European contacts with Iran, but he expects some
resistance from Scandinavian countries because of their
"rigorous standpoint on human rights issues."
Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, in an official
communiquÈ on 21 February, said that "the election results
will contribute to a further improvement in the dialogue
between Iran and the international community." He also took
credit for being one of the first countries to put in place
"a program of high-level contacts" with Iran.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama welcomed the
election results. He told Lisbon's RTP Antena 1 on 21
February: "It appears to us to be a positive step towards
reform. Naturally there is a long way to go in Iran, but the
signs given by the population in these elections are
extremely important to justify a path to reform. We will have
the opportunity to discuss extensively this new situation in
Iran when soon --within the Portuguese EU presidency -- the
Iranian foreign minister visits Lisbon."
Spanish Foreign Minister Abel Matutes said "these
elections will constitute one more step in the consolidation
of the moderate reform process initiated by President
Mohammad Khatami, who enjoys the undoubted popular backing
which Spain follows with solidarity and interest," Madrid's
EFE reported on 21 February.
Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ryuichiro Yamazaki
said "We welcome the fact that the elections in Iran took
place in a democratic atmosphere and that participation was
extremely high," Kyodo news agency reported on 22 February.
Japan also claimed foresight, when Yamazaki said "Japan has
been promoting high-level dialogue with Iran in welcoming and
supporting President Mohammad Khatami's policy of promoting
domestic reform and easing tensions with the international
community." He added that Tokyo has invited Khatami for a
Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile said Canberra is
"looking forward to strengthening the relationship with the
new government," the "Australian Financial Review" reported
on 23 February. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu
Bangzao said Peking had followed the election with interest,
Zhongguo Xinwen She news service reported on 22 February. Zhu
Bangzao expressed the hope that the election will promote
Iran's stability and prosperity. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Amir Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz as-Saud telephoned his
congratulations on the massive turnout to President Mohammad
Khatami, IRNA reported on 24 February.
Sources in the Israeli government said that the election
is a positive development, but they do not think Tehran's
attitude towards Israel will change in the near future, Tel
Aviv's "Yediot Aharanot" reported on 20 February. One source,
however, suggested that Iran's relationship with the U.S.
will change and that this will eventually bring about a
change in its relationship with Israel, and "Also a reduction
in its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons."
Regional publications also commented on the election. An
editorial in Jordan's "Al-Rai" said "Iran is leaving the
revolutionary phase to set up a democratic nation." "Al-Arab
al-Yawm" and the "Jordan Times" also praised the election,
with the latter saying "When the people decide for change,
they can bring it about no matter how strong the regime they
confront, nor how undemocratic an elections law is."
The election showed, Bahrain's "Akhbar al-Khaleej" said
on 21 February, that "the Iranian people are determined to go
all the way in their drive for reform." The Saudi "Asharq al-
Awsat" said Iranians sent a message: "Reform in all fields."
"Al-Hayat" warned that reformists may have gained control of
the parliament, but now they face a sterner test -- using
this power to bring about real reforms.
Some Middle Eastern publications saw the Iranian
election as a positive example. A 21 February editorial in
Beirut's "An-Nahar" pointed out that however flawed Iran's
democratic process is, it is way ahead of anything in the
Arab world. The Arab states can learn from Iran, because over
20 years it has built institutions that are "based on the
mechanisms of democratic competition." The Pan Arab "Al-Qods
al-Arabi" said: "To put it very simply, Iran is moving
forward. We [Arabs] are moving too--backward." (Bill Samii)
WASHINGTON AND THE ELECTION.
The U.S. government has expressed pleasure with the
outcome of the Iranian election and hinted that the results
might lead to some sort of reciprocal reward. But at the same
time, Washington reiterated that its position on Iranian
activities which cause concern has not changed. Reactions
from Iran, whether from the government or from the leading
reformist parliamentarian-elect, however, indicate absolutely
no change in Iran's stance towards the U.S. or the issues
that concern it.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright praised the
large public participation, saying on 19 February that "[The
Iranian people's] enthusiasm is testimony to the growing
strength of democracy in Iran, which we do welcome."
State Department spokesman James Rubin's 21 February
comments were even more enthusiastic. He gushed: "All
indications are that this election is an event of historic
proportions. The Iranian people have demonstrated
unmistakably that they want policies of openness and
engagement with the rest of the world. They have also made
clear their preference for internal policies that allow them
greater freedom within Iran. ... We welcome that."
The next day, a more restrained Rubin described the kind
of changes the State Department hopes to see in Iran. "For
our part, we would like to see a change in specific policies
of concern. They relate to Iran's attitude towards the Middle
East peace process, they relate to the seeking of weapons of
mass destruction and the support for terrorism."
The newly-elected reformists appear unlikely to have a
significant impact on such fsignificant impact on such foreign policy
issues. As before,
the final say rests with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei. Moreover, President Mohammad Khatami has repeatedly
voiced his support for Lebanon's Islamic resistance and has
met with officials from terrorist organizations like Hamas
and the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine--
General Command. Reformist parliamentarian-elect Mohammad
Reza Khatami is no different. Speaking about Lebanon, he said
that "We are defending the right of people whose land is
occupied, and America is defending the people who occupied
this land," "The Inis land," "The Independent" reported on 23 February.
Mohammad Reza Khatami's views on relations with the U.S.
do not appear to have changed. He said that "We are
interested in detente and in the birth of relations based on
equality and on mutual respect. But we want concrete acts,
like for example the lifting of the embargo, not mere
diplomatic bowing and curtsying," Turin's "La Stampa"
reported on 22 February. (Bill Samii)
A PAT ON THE HEAD?
In the wake of the Iranian elections, Washington
reportedly is considering rewarding Tehran for operating like
the democracy it purports to be. An unnamed U.S. official
told the 22 February "USA Today" that potential "rewards"
could be a message from President Bill Clinton during the
Iranian New Year in March, granting a high-level media
interview, or easing sanctions against the import of Iranian
goods like pistachios and carpets.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi hinted at the kind of
small-scale rewards that Iran would welcome. "The export of
Iranian goods which American markets need, particularly
carpets, pistachios and caviar, are banned, but Washington
wishes to be able to export its grain to Iran," state
television reported on 23 February.
Washington is unlikely to offer loan guarantees for Iran
<< Continued to next message >>>
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 00:06:40 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: RADIO FREE EUROPE-IRAN WEEKLY REPORT-PART 2/2
<< This message is part 2 of a previous message >>>
to buy American wheat. "I think it's a little too early to go
that far," Richard Fritz, general sales manager in the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service,
told Reuters on 22 February. And State Department spokesman
James Rubin said on 23 February that "the United States does
not believe that conditions favor restarting World Bank
lending to Iran at this time. Iran has yet to make progress
in a number of fronts that should precede such action,
including pursuing meaningful economic reform and abandoning
support for terrorism." (Bill Samii)
DEVELOPMENT PLAN TO ADDRESS AGRICULTURAL SHORTCOMINGS.
Terrance Vorachek, director of the U.S. Grain Council's
Middle East division, urged the provision of export credit
guarantees because he expects Iranian grain demands to
increase. "It's obvious that they cannot produce domestically
to meet their needs," he said, according to Reuters on 15
February. Although there have not been any wheat sales, Iran
has imported 500,000-- 603,700 tons of American corn in the
1999/2000 marketing year so far. It is expected to import a
total of 1-1.2 million tons of corn this year, according to
Reuters. The Third Development Plan, which the fifth
parliament was considering and will be in the hands of the
new parliament, seeks to address agriculture problems.
Some of the reasons for Iran's failure to produce enough
food for its people were discussed during Agriculture Week in
January. Agricultural Commission head Abdol Qafar Shoja
asked, according to "Arya," "Since during the two previous
development plans the agriculture industry was not provided
adequate banking facilities nor needed credits to implement
necessary infrastructural projects, how could we expect
suitable performance by this ministry?" President
Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami answered this question a few
days earlier at a gathering of farmers. He said that the
Third Development Plan being considered by parliament is
"aimed to help the sector to reach an economic balance," IRNA
reported on 11 January. Agriculture Minister Issa Kalantari
said the government is determined to provide farmers with
scientific assistance to increase their earnings and reduce
costs, IRNA reported on 10 January. If structural reforms are
made, Kalantari added, the currently unemployed 30,000
agricultural engineers can resume working.
But it will be an uphill battle. Kalantari told the 9
January "Iran" newspaper that the biggest problem is a lack
of foreign and domestic investment, combined with cheap
imports, subsidized foodstuffs, and consumer protection
measures. Kalantari pointed out that tariffs must be imposed
on agricultural imports to make domestic products more
competitive. Another problem Kalantari described is the
export of Iranian goods at high foreign exchange rates, while
imports are brought in at low foreign exchange rates.
Government agencies and semi-governmental foundations are
eligible for the preferential exchange rates.
In addition to these problems, Abdor-Reza Baqeri,
Chancellor of Mashhad's Ferdowsi University and an
agriculture specialist, said that because "A significant
portion of the agro-sector is run by small landowners and
scientific research (in the sector) has not yet gained
momentum ... [there is] disorganization, the absence of
efficient promotion, high illiteracy rate among farmers,
inappropriate use of agriculture institutions and sometimes a
lack of trust among farmers vis-a-vis the results of
scientific research." Baqeri told the 23 January "Iran Daily"
that scientific research must be planned and conducted in
tandem with the country's macro-plans. At the moment, Baqeri
said, there is no overall supervisory body, so unrelated
policies and plans are implemented. Baqeri expressed
happiness that the Third Development Plan pays closer
attention to the agricultural sector.
There were several developments in Iran's international
agricultural ties in January, according to IRNA reports.
Ambassador to Paris Alireza Moayeri met with French Minister
of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Jean Galvany and
expressed Iran's readiness to "boost cooperation...in
fisheries, animal husbandry, dairy industries, and
agriculture sectors." Iran and Azerbaijan agreed to set up a
customs point at Qare Diz-Aslandouz border crossing to
facilitate transfer of Azeri sugar beets to Iran's Parsabad
factory. And after the visit of a Pakistani trade delegation,
Iran agreed to import 15,000 tons of rice, although the
Iranian side complained about the poor quality of exported
Pakistani rice. (Bill Samii)
CZECH PARTICIPATION IN BUSHEHR BLOCKED...
The Czech government approved a bill on 23 February
banning the provision of supplies for Iran's nuclear reactor
project in Bushehr. The specific target of this legislation
is a contract signed by Czech firm ZVVZ Milesvsko to provide
air-conditioning equipment. The next step is for the bill to
be approved by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
Finally, President Vaclav Havel must sign the bill. This can
be a slow process, but under the state of legislative
emergency related to the bill, this case is likely to be
given priority over other legislative matters.
The Czech Republic has been under international pressure
to back out of the project. U.S. Secretary of State Madeline
Albright discussed the subject with Czech Prime Minister
Milos Zeman at a reception during the World Economic Forum in
Davos, "Hospodarske Noviny" reported on 1 February. Israeli
Foreign Minister David Levy, when he visited Prague, also
discussed the subject with Zeman.
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs
Thomas Pickering, who had held meetings with Czech Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan,
and parliament chairman Vaclav Klaus, suggested to
reporters that sanctions would be imposed on the Czech
Republic if ZVVZ Milevsko participated in the Bushehr
project. When asked if the U.S. monitors Israeli nuclear
policy so closely, Pickering answered: "As far as I am
aware, Israel has not abandoned its point of view that it
will not be the first one to introduce nuclear weapons into
the Middle East," "Pravo" reported on 8 October.
Tehran reacted to these developments by promising the
Czechs that if they completed the initial contract, more
orders would be forthcoming. And they would not just be for
ZVVZ Milevsko, Prague's "Lidove Noviny" reported on 14
February. The Iranian side claimed that $200 million worth
of business would go to Modranska Podrubni, Kralovopolska,
Skoda Praha, and Skoda Nuclear Engineering.
According to some parts of the Czech media, Prague
intends to stop ZVVZ Milevsko's completion of the contract
by nationalizing the company. The government has started an
appraisal of the firm in order to determine what would
constitute a fair offer, "Lidove Noviny" reported on 29
January. The entire situation is problematic, because the
company currently is profitable, but if the sale for the
Bushehr project does not occur, its annual receipts will be
halved, according to the 31 January "Lidove Noviny." That
could mean thhe 31 January "Lidove Noviny." That
could mean that the owner -- the government -- would have
to lay off many of the company's 1,310 employees.
Such reports stem from statements by ZVVZ Milevsko
management and shareholders, and it is likely that they are
based on attempts to overstate the firm's value and thereby
increase the compensation they receive in case of a buy-
out. Another reflection of the management's focus was ZVVZ
Milevsko chief Stanislav Kazecky's statement that the U.S.
pressure was commercially-related. He said that with Czech
firms out of the way, U.S. firms would fill the gap,
"Hospodarske Noviny" reported on 23 February.
Czech minister without portfolio Jaroslav Basta said
that Iran has sufficient oil for its energy needs,
"Hospodarske Noviny" reported on 15 February. "Therefore it
is more than likely that the nuclear powerplant in Bushehr
is backing for the Iranian project to manufacture weapons
of mass destruction. In this respect, this country is no
different than its neighbor Iraq." (Bill Samii)
...BUT NOT IN SUGAR SECTOR. Czech firm ZVU Potez, a
subsidiary of ZVU Hradec Kralov engineering company, sent
equipment for two sugar cane refineries to Iran, CTK news
agency reported on 14 February. This contract is worth
Kc600 million (about $16.5 million), and the overall value
of the projects is Kc1 billion (about $27.5 million). (Bill
CORRECTION. Nour and Mahmoudabad constituencies are in
Mazandaran Province, not Gilan Province as reported in the 21
February "RFE/RL Iran Report."
Copyright (c) 2000. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 18:12:33 EST
Subject: European Ministers To Visit Iran
European Ministers To Visit Iran
.c The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The German and Italian foreign ministers are to visit
Iran next month, as the European Union tries to reach out to the reformists
who recently swept the country's legislative elections.
Italy's Lamberto Dini is to arrive Saturday for a three-day official visit,
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamidreza Asefi, said Monday. Germany's
Joschka Fischer is due March 6 for a two-day visit, the official Islamic
Republic News Agency quoted Asefi as saying.
In Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Michaelis said Fisher
would use the trip to discuss a possible visit by Iran's President Mohammad
Khatami to Germany, and raise the issues of human rights and Iran's arms
Iranian-German relations were strained over the two-year ordeal of German
businessman Helmut Hofer. The 56-year-old Hofer was twice sentenced to death
in Iran for an illicit relationship with a 26-year-old Iranian medical
student, but finally acquitted and released from prison last month.
Iranian reformists who want greater social and political freedoms and closer
ties with the West routed their conservative rivals in Feb. 18 elections for
the Majlis, or parliament.
Shortly after, the EU said it was interested in better relations with Iran.
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 18:13:24 EST
Subject: Iranian minister heads trade mission to Bahrain
Iranian minister heads trade mission to Bahrain
MANAMA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Two Iranian trade missions, one headed by Commerce
Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari, arrived in Bahrain on Monday in a further
sign of warming relations between the two Gulf states.
An Iranian embassy spokesman said the official team led by Shariatmadari
would take part in the first meeting of a joint Bahraini-Iranian economic
committee in Manama on Tuesday.
The other delegation would hold talks with Bahraini businessmen to bolster
trade links and open an exhibition in the island state, the spokesman said.
Bahrain and non-Arab Iran agreed to set up the joint economic body during a
visit to Tehran by Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Mubarak
al-Khalifa in May.
Bilateral ties soured in 1996 after Bahrain accused Iran of training
``terrorists'' to overthrow its government, a charge denied by Tehran. But
relations improved after Iran's moderate President Mohammad Khatami came to
office in 1997.
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 18:14:15 EST
Subject: Iranian police go on trial for July student attack
Iranian police go on trial for July student attack
TEHRAN, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Tehran's former police chief and 19 others face a
military court on Tuesday in connection with last July's attack on a student
hostel that provoked the worst unrest since the aftermath of the Islamic
Former police chief Brigadier General Farhad Nazari will join 11 other
officers and eight conscripts in the dock on charges they illegally entered
the Tehran University dormitory complex, beat students and destroyed their
More than 200 students were hurt and at least one person was killed after
police and hardline vigilantes moved in to crush a peaceful pro-democracy
demonstration on the night of July 8-9.
That attack touched off six days of protest that shook the Islamic republic,
culminating in riots in central Tehran.
Students and their supporters have criticised the courts for failing to
indict any of the vigilantes or their political supporters, instead focusing
on a few officers and conscripts.
``The investigation into the dormitory incident has not been satisfactory.
With regard to those in plain clothes who attacked the students, absolutely
nothing has been done to apprehend them,'' Mohsen Rohami, lawyer for the
students, told the daily Arya.
Rohami said he would present evidence to the court of high- level
coordination between senior police officers and members of the so-called
pressure groups -- hardline vigilantes who often break up rival
demonstrations by force.
Lawyers say the defendants face a maximum criminal sentence of 10 years in
prison, but a religious verdict under Iran's sharia law could mean the death
Trouble began when students demanding freedom of the press and reopening of
Iran's leading pro-reform newspaper were attacked in the streets near their
The attackers chased the students into their dormitories, then ran amok,
beating the protesters, setting fire to some of the rooms and ransacking
Pro-democracy demonstrations later erupted on the main campus of Tehran
University, spreading to the nearby downtown streets before the security
forces and the Basij militia restored control. Protests also broke out in
other Iranian cities.
More than 1,500 students were detained for their part in the unrest, with
several alleged ringleaders sentenced to death. So far, none of the death
sentences has been carried out.
Tehran military prosecutor Abbasali Forati said earlier that some 400
students had filed claims against the police.
Iran's reform movement has been keen to see a quick resolution to the case,
demanding the pressure groups be disbanded and all the culprits prosecuted.
The main pro-reform coalition, victorious in parliamentary polls earlier this
month, has vowed to get to the bottom of the case.
``The main violence-mongers in the pressure groups are known, but the
authorities have not made up their minds to take action,'' said Ali Akbar
Mousavi-Koeini, newly elected MP from Tehran. ``This is because of the unseen
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 18:26:57 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Goodwill Toward Iran
Goodwill Toward Iran
Monday, February 28, 2000; Page A14
With the reformists' landslide victory in Iranian
parliamentary elections and
their willingness to "consider a policy of detente" with
the United States
[front page, Feb. 23], it is time for the United States to
send a clear signal if
it wants to improve ties with Iran.
The best way to do so is to improve the people-to-people
exchange first by
easing visa restrictions for family members to visit the
more than one million
Iranian Americans living in the United States; abandoning
practice of fingerprinting all Iranians at U.S. ports of
entry; eliminating the
"Jim Crow" practice of barring Iranian students from taking
the TOEFL (test
of English as a foreign language) exam.
What better gesture of goodwill is there than for the
United States to stop
policies that punish Iranian Americans in its efforts to
isolate the Iranian
Mountain View, Calif.
End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Feb 2000 to 28 Feb 2000