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There are 13 messages totalling 1061 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iran accuses Iraq of helping rebels attack
2. U.S. To Make Offer to Iran
3. INTERVIEW-Iran reforms spread to justice system
4. U.S. To Ease Iran Sanctions
5. Wounded Iran Reformer Opens Eyes
6. U.S. eases sanctions in overture to Iran
7. U.S. moves to improve relations with Iran
8. Iran to execute two alleged Jewish spies - source
9. Why U.S. Is Making Overtures Toward Iran
10. Reform or Not? Iran's Milestone Election
11. Iran's student heroes have had a rough and surprising passage
12. U.S. Eases Partial Sanctions Against Iran
13. A transcript of Madeleine Albright speach

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 08:21:14 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran accuses Iraq of helping rebels attack

Iran accuses Iraq of helping rebels attack


TEHRAN, March 17 (Reuters) - Iran's state media accused neighbouring Iraq on
Friday of helping rebels to launch a mortar attack in Tehran which injured
four people earlier this week.

State television said two members of the Iraq-based Mujahideen Khalq, Iran's
main exiled opposition group, crossed into Iran ``with the cooperation and
backing of Iraq's intelligence agency'' to carry out Monday's attack.

It said Iran's security forces had identified the attackers who fired the
mortar bombs at a residential area near a military base. The pair were
apparently still at large.

The Mujahideen often launch raids from Iraq and attacks inside Iran but
incidents between the two countries have multiplied this week.

Iran said on Thursday the Mujahideen killed two of its soldiers in a clash
near the Iraqi border.

A day earlier, Iraq said it had shot down an Iranian reconnaissance drone
near the border on Monday.

Iran did not comment on the report but the Mujahideen said earlier Iran had
stepped up reconnaissance flights over its bases in Iraq in the past few
days.

Iran regularly accuses Iraq of harbouring Mujahideen rebels, while Baghdad
charges Tehran with backing its Shi'ite Moslem dissidents.

That dispute is among several thorny issues between the two neighbours who
fought a war from 1980 to 1988.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 08:21:51 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: U.S. To Make Offer to Iran

U.S. To Make Offer to Iran

By BARRY SCHWEID
.c The Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Clinton administration is set to declare it will lift a
ban on the import of luxury goods from Iran and propose a settlement of
claims in a bid to encourage reformists in Tehran.

The net effect is to begin to reverse more than two decades of estrangement.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is making the moves in a major policy
speech here today to the American-Iranian Council, a private group based in
Princeton, N.J., that seeks better relations with Tehran, a senior U.S.
official told The Associated Press.

The partial easing of sanctions and the offer to have claims against each
other adjudicated is being coupled with a renewed proposal for formal talks,
said the official, who spoke Thursday night only on condition of anonymity.

So far, Iran, a Persian Gulf country that the Clinton administration accuses
of promoting terrorism, has not responded to the U.S. proposal.

Even as President Clinton this week extended sanctions against Iran, the
administration explored ways to encourage reformists there.

One way under consideration and then approved was to lift the ban on imports
of such Iranian goods as carpets, caviar and pistachio nuts.

Trade in oil, oil equipment and other major economic areas will remain
prohibited for Americans, said the official, who has read Albright's speech.

Another official, who also declined to be identified, said the administration
was determined to make ``significant gestures'' to Iran.

U.S. hostility to the Islamic fundamentalists who run the country has its
roots in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by revolutionaries in
1979 and the holding of Americans seized there hostage in defiance of
traditional diplomatic practice.

Iran remains on the State Department's list as a sponsor of terrorism, one of
seven countries so branded. For Cuba, for instance, this has meant an
unwavering boycott and rhetorical denunciations.

And yet Syria, also on the list, is being courted by the administration to
make peace with Israel. Clinton has visited Damascus and met with President
Hafez Assad in Damascus and in Switzerland.

North Korea was advised by American diplomats last week how to get off the
list and thereby become eligible for trade and economic assistance.

Iran presumably would be barred from both as long as it is deemed a supporter
of terrorism.

Currently, a major U.S. complaint against Iran is that it provides Hezbollah
guerrillas in Lebanon with the weapons with which they have attacked and
killed Israeli soldiers based in a buffer zone inside southern Lebanon.

Delivery is facilitated by Syria, which controls much of Lebanon.

``Sanctions can be modified at any time,'' James B. Foley, a State Department
spokesman, said earlier in the week.

``We believe there are important changes in Iran, and we are considering ways
to respond to those changes,'' he said.

Conciliatory statements by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and then the
election last month to parliament of candidates considered moderate by some
American analysts have accelerated moves within the administration to open
talks with Iran.

Some analysts have questioned whether an easing of sanctions would elicit a
response or simply amount to a unilateral U.S. concession.

An easing of sanctions also may be interpreted as suggesting that U.S.
attempts to isolate Iran economically have not succeeded.

Albright and other top U.S. officials have stressed that in any formal
meeting the administration would level charges that Iran supports terrorism,
is trying to sabotage Middle East peacemaking and seeks weapons of mass
destruction.

Last April, the United States exempted agricultural and medical products from
sanctions on Iran and other countries.

``We are looking for ways to respond to changes in Iran, and to advance
prospects for a better relationship,'' Foley said. ``It is something that is
under internal consideration - how best to respond.''

Peter Rodman, a former White House and State Department official, said
Thursday ``it behooves us to pay attention'' to changes in Iran.

On the other hand, Rodman said in an interview, ``we shouldn't be giving up
all our leverage for free, which is why I would be very careful in lifting
sanctions.''

Rodman, now with the Nixon Center, a private research group, said most
experts agree Iran's foreign policy ``is very inimical to our interests.''

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 08:22:42 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: INTERVIEW-Iran reforms spread to justice system

INTERVIEW-Iran reforms spread to justice system

By Mehrdad Balali


TEHRAN, March 16 (Reuters) - The liberal reforms under way in Iran have
spread to the nation's justice system, long a stronghold of the hardline
clerical establishment.

Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, a moderate scholar appointed as the new judiciary
head last year, is trying to reform a stern criminal policy introduced after
the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The unyielding Islamic penal code envisages stiff sentences for a range of
social, sexual and political offences, including frequent lashing and even
executions.

Such practices have exposed Iran to persistent charges of human rights abuses
from international organisations.

But there are signs that the judiciary may be taking a new direction,
complementing moderate political and social reforms launched by President
Mohammad Khatami.

``Some of the hangings envisaged in our laws are not necessary from a
religious point of view and the system can replace them with other
sentences,'' said judiciary spokesman Hossein Sadeqi.

``We should resort to the death sentence in very exceptional and unique
cases, and not hang people for crimes that are not too heavy,'' he told
Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

NEED TO REVISE LAWS AND POLICY

Sadeqi mainly blamed existing laws for harsh sentences and the full power
they give judges to interpret them.

``If we write the laws differently and define their limits, then a judge has
no authority to go beyond that,'' he said.

Sadeqi said specialised commissions of lawyers, judges and academics were
reviewing laws to recommend necessary changes.

``The system is aiming for a cohesive criminal policy based on citizens'
rights,'' pushing for more lenient sentences, he said. ``It is normal
practice in our system to impose jail sentences for a crime. This should be
changed.

``The right policy is to try not to characterise every offence as a crime.
When it is, we should do our best to find a substitute sentence for it.''

Sadeqi said judges were repeatedly instructed and educated to be more
lenient:

``The judiciary is responsible for upholding human rights and dealing with
officers mistreating the citizens,'' he said. ``We should presume a suspect
innocent before he is proven guilty.''

The new judiciary head has removed some hardliners from key posts and secured
the release or reduction in sentences of 60,000 prisoners, partly to ease
pressure on overcrowded jails.

Sadeqi said the judiciary had reinforced regulations to prevent random police
searches of houses, requiring clear authorisation from a court.

Police and Islamic militiamen often raid homes in search of banned satellite
dishes, alcohol or to stop ``immoral'' behaviour.

Sadeqi said there are plans to set up a more specialised judicial police
force with a more educated approach to crime. The judiciary has also sought
to ban the security forces from running their own detention centres.

The new policies stop short where religious laws are concerned. But Sadeqi
said Shi'ite Islam is uniquely open to redefinition of some religious
teachings by senior clerics.

``We have some principles which are unchangeable. But many other things we
think are set principles are really not so.''

Stoning may be among them, he said, an ancient practice mainly -- though
rarely -- used against adultery.

``Stoning may not be in our country's interest in the current situation. The
judiciary head believes we should avoid acts which could insult religion and
taint our image,'' he said.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 09:12:05 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: U.S. To Ease Iran Sanctions

U.S. To Ease Iran Sanctions
In Policy Speech, Albright Set To Encourage Reformists

By BARRY SCHWEID
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (March 17) - The Clinton administration is set to declare it will
lift a ban on the import of luxury goods from Iran and propose a settlement
of claims in a bid to encourage reformists in Tehran.

The net effect is to begin to reverse more than two decades of estrangement.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is making the moves in a major policy
speech here today to the American-Iranian Council, a private group based in
Princeton, N.J., that seeks better relations with Tehran, a senior U.S.
official told The Associated Press.

The partial easing of sanctions and the offer to have claims against each
other adjudicated is being coupled with a renewed proposal for formal talks,
said the official, who spoke Thursday night only on condition of anonymity.

So far, Iran, a Persian Gulf country that the Clinton administration accuses
of promoting terrorism, has not responded to the U.S. proposal.

Even as President Clinton this week extended sanctions against Iran, the
administration explored ways to encourage reformists there.

One way under consideration and then approved was to lift the ban on imports
of such Iranian goods as carpets, caviar and pistachio nuts.

Trade in oil, oil equipment and other major economic areas will remain
prohibited for Americans, said the official, who has read Albright's speech.

Another official, who also declined to be identified, said the administration
was determined to make ''significant gestures'' to Iran.

U.S. hostility to the Islamic fundamentalists who run the country has its
roots in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by revolutionaries in
1979 and the holding of Americans seized there hostage in defiance of
traditional diplomatic practice.

Iran remains on the State Department's list as a sponsor of terrorism, one of
seven countries so branded. For Cuba, for instance, this has meant an
unwavering boycott and rhetorical denunciations.

And yet Syria, also on the list, is being courted by the administration to
make peace with Israel. Clinton has visited Damascus and met with President
Hafez Assad in Damascus and in Switzerland.

North Korea was advised by American diplomats last week how to get off the
list and thereby become eligible for trade and economic assistance.

Iran presumably would be barred from both as long as it is deemed a supporter
of terrorism.

Currently, a major U.S. complaint against Iran is that it provides Hezbollah
guerrillas in Lebanon with the weapons with which they have attacked and
killed Israeli soldiers based in a buffer zone inside southern Lebanon.

Delivery is facilitated by Syria, which controls much of Lebanon.

''Sanctions can be modified at any time,'' James B. Foley, a State Department
spokesman, said earlier in the week.

''We believe there are important changes in Iran, and we are considering ways
to respond to those changes,'' he said.

Conciliatory statements by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and then the
election last month to parliament of candidates considered moderate by some
American analysts have accelerated moves within the administration to open
talks with Iran.

Some analysts have questioned whether an easing of sanctions would elicit a
response or simply amount to a unilateral U.S. concession.

An easing of sanctions also may be interpreted as suggesting that U.S.
attempts to isolate Iran economically have not succeeded.

Albright and other top U.S. officials have stressed that in any formal
meeting the administration would level charges that Iran supports terrorism,
is trying to sabotage Middle East peacemaking and seeks weapons of mass
destruction.

Last April, the United States exempted agricultural and medical products from
sanctions on Iran and other countries.

''We are looking for ways to respond to changes in Iran, and to advance
prospects for a better relationship,'' Foley said. ''It is something that is
under internal consideration - how best to respond.''

Peter Rodman, a former White House and State Department official, said
Thursday ''it behooves us to pay attention'' to changes in Iran.

On the other hand, Rodman said in an interview, ''we shouldn't be giving up
all our leverage for free, which is why I would be very careful in lifting
sanctions.''

Rodman, now with the Nixon Center, a private research group, said most
experts agree Iran's foreign policy ''is very inimical to our interests.''

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 09:14:10 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Wounded Iran Reformer Opens Eyes

Wounded Iran Reformer Opens Eyes

.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian reformist who has been in a coma since being
shot by an assailant last weekend opened his eyes and moved his toes Friday,
Iran's official news agency said.

Saeed Hajjarian's signs of consciousness ``greatly relieved'' concerns over
the disruption of the link between his brain and spinal cord, the Islamic
Republic News Agency said.

The agency quoted a statement from Hajjarian's party, the Islamic Iran
Participation Front, as saying that there are now increased hopes for the
restoration of cerebral and spinal activities.

Hajjarian, who is in his late 40s, was shot Sunday. The bullet remains lodged
in the back of his neck.

No one has claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt. Pro-reform
newspapers and Hajjarian's allies blamed hard-liners opposed to loosening
social, political and cultural restrictions that have been in place since the
1979 Islamic revolution.

On Wednesday, doctors treating Hajjarian said hope for his survival was
growing and that he may be able to breath without a respirator soon. Doctors
had said earlier that Hajjarian suffered severe brain damage.

Hajjarian, a confidant of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, is a Tehran
municipal council member and also manages a liberal newspaper. He is a
founder of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, whose members and other
reformist candidates swept most of the seats in last month's legislative
elections.

Hajjarian angered powerful hard-liners by making what they considered to be
provocative statements during the elections.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:10:25 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: U.S. eases sanctions in overture to Iran

U.S. eases sanctions in overture to Iran
9.33 a.m. ET (1440 GMT) March 17, 2000

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — In a major overture to Iran, the United States Friday
said it would ease sanctions on non-oil Iranian exports and acknowledged
"short-sightedness'' in some previous U.S. policies toward Iran.

"Today, I am announcing a step that will enable Americans to purchase and
import carpets and food products such as dried fruits, nuts and caviar from
Iran,'' Albright said in the prepared text of a speech to the
American-Iranian Council.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:11:39 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: U.S. moves to improve relations with Iran

.S. moves to improve relations with Iran
10.03 a.m. ET (1513 GMT) March 17, 2000
By Barry Schweid, Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a move to encourage moderation in Iran, the Clinton
administration today lifted a U.S. ban on imports of Iranian carpets, caviar,
fruits and nuts.

Announcing the move, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the action
was designed to show Iranians that "the United States bears them no ill
well.''

Albright said the Clinton administration will look for ways to increase
contacts between American and Iranian scholars, artists, professionals,
athletes and nongovernment groups. "We believe this will serve to deepen
bonds of mutual understanding and trust,'' she said in a speech to the 3-year
old American-Iranian Council, which is determined to end more than two
decades of estrangement between the United States and Iran.

In a third step, Albright said the United States is willing to work with Iran
to settle legal claims the two nations have against each others.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:13:17 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran to execute two alleged Jewish spies - source

(16:30) Iran to execute two alleged Jewish spies - source



The Iranian government intends to execute two of the 13 Jews it accuses of
espionage, exiled Iranian opposition sources in Paris told Israel Radio
today. The 13 are accused of spying on behalf of Israel and the United
States. Their trial is due to begin at the end of the month in Shiraz.

The opposition sources said the Iranian authorities have already prepared the
groundwork for the executions of two of the accused who are charged with
particularly severe crimes. The sources said that only a great amount of
international pressure, particularly economic pressure, could prevent their
executions.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:21:38 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Why U.S. Is Making Overtures Toward Iran

Washington's apology for past wrongs may count for more than the accompanying
trade concessions in repairing relations with Iran. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright is scheduled to deliver a speech on Iran policy Friday, in
which she'll reach out for a rapprochement with Tehran by offering to end
sanctions against certain luxury imports and to negotiate the rapid
unfreezing of billions of dollars of Iranian assets impounded in the U.S.
after the Islamic revolution of 1979. More important, perhaps, she will
acknowledge previous U.S. mistakes in dealing with Iran — notably CIA
involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew an elected government and
restored the monarchy, which was finally overthrown in 1979, and the Reagan
administration's support for Iraq during that country's eight-year war with
Iran.
Albright's initiative is designed to create an opening for President Mohamed
Khatami, who is committed to normalizing Iran's relations with the West and
whose supporters won a landslide victory in recent parliamentary elections,
to begin a dialogue with Washington. Before his recent electoral victory,
Khatami, with an eye cast over his right shoulder toward his fiercely
anti-American conservative opponents, had rebuffed U.S. efforts. But
anti-American sentiment in Iran has a basis in the country's history — the
U.S. brought Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi to power and then helped keep him
there for decades before Iranians finally took to the streets to overthrow
him. Hard-liners among them immediately seized the U.S. embassy and launched
the hostage crisis in a deliberate effort to cut all ties with Washington and
prevent it from having any influence over events in Iran. By acknowledging
the error of U.S. support for the shah, Albright is offering reassurance that
Washington has mended its ways and wants a relationship on new terms, for
which it will be easier for Khatami to win acceptance. As will the
tantalizing prospect of recovering billions of dollars and doing business
with the world's most powerful economy. After all, Iran's economic decline in
the '90s had persuaded even many conservatives that it was time to start
doing business again with the West. Even, perhaps, with an apologetic "Great
Satan."



------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:29:02 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Reform or Not? Iran's Milestone Election

Reform or Not? Iran's Milestone Election
Reformists look poised to win control of the legislature, but changing Iran
requires winning the battle in the seminaries, too


There may be no debates or TV ads, much less political parties — and a
self-appointed group of conservative clergymen reserve the right to exclude
any candidate advocating a separation of church and state — but Iran's
parliamentary election Friday nonetheless represents an opportunity for the
Iranian people to make their voices heard. And that's a prospect that has the
country's conservative political clergy understandably nervous. Last time
voters were presented with such an opportunity, the conservatives allied with
the country's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, suffered a
humiliating defeat, as 70 percent of the voters chose the reformist Mohammed
Khatami over the candidate endorsed by Khameini. This time, even though the
conservatives managed to axe more than 1,000 liberal candidates before the
election, the margin of their defeat may be even higher.

Conservative control of the Majlis, Iran's 270-seat legislature, has helped
the clerics to stymie President Khatami's efforts to press through his reform
agenda of strengthening the rule of law, providing greater freedom of speech
and deepening Iran's Islamic version of democracy. "By most accounts
reformers will capture the assembly from Islamic conservatives and
hard-liners," says TIME Middle East bureau chief Scott MacLeod from Tehran.
"But this being Iran, a victory for the reformers may not be precisely what
it seems. While there's consensus on greater opening up to the West and
economic reforms, there are important differences in the reform coalition on
how far to push for loosening of political and social restrictions."

And control over the legislative and executive branches in Iran doesn't carry
quite the same weight in Iran as it might in a Western democracy. "Political
power in Iran is divided up among a number of different institutions and
power centers," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. The country's highest
political office is that of supreme spiritual leader, originally created for
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the revolution of 1979 — although
conservatives and reformers differ sharply on how much direct political
control he should exercise. Ayatollah Khameini leads the country's
conservative faction, whose control of the Council of Guardians — a
non-elected body of clerics that has the power to vet candidates and veto
legislation — as well as over the judiciary, security services and the
military, means they will still have much political power even if they lose
the Majlis. "Even though the conservative clergy dominate, they have to pay
attention to the will of the people and the positions of other power
centers," says Dowell. "Last summer's riotous protests against repression of
dissent by the conservatives served as a sharp reminder that there's a
delicate balance of power in Iran, and that Iranians when pushed too far are
capable of rebellion, as they showed in 1979 Such concerns have led the
clergy to approach the elections with caution. "The conservatives still claim
to rule in the name of the majority of Iranians, and they're feeling pressure
from the rising public reaction against their policies," says Dowell.
Ironically, the mullahs may be suffering some of the consequences of their
own success. Their 20-year revolution has seen Iran's demographic majority
shift decisively from the countryside to the cities, while an Islamic version
of women's empowerment has become a major force. The number of female
students at Tehran's university grew from 25 percent in 1979 to 55 percent
today. Whereas the primacy of the clergy had been an established principle in
Iranian village life, the urban youth who now make up a growing plurality of
the population tend to vote overwhelmingly for reformist candidates. Likewise
women voters, as Khatami proved in the 1998 presidential election.

Iran's revolution financed its first decade through oil revenues, but
collapsing crude prices combined with massive unemployment among a burgeoning
youth population have made kick-starting the economy — with a large dose of
Western investment — a critical priority, a fact that has moved even such
stalwarts of the revolution as former president Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
into the pro-Khatami coalition. That, of course, is a mixed blessing. "While
Rafsanjani's influence could be a major factor in preventing a dangerous
backlash by hard-liners after the election," says MacLeod, "he'd be likely to
slow down the pace of political and social reform."

Keeping young Iranians on board for a patient chiseling away at the grip of
the mullahs has proved a major challenge for the reformists, particularly
after last summer's protests showed their mounting impatience. But the
complex distributions of power and repressive instincts of the conservatives
prescribe a gradualist approach among reformists. "If Iran is to complete the
dizzying road from theocracy to democracy," says MacLeod, "reformers must
find a way to speak to the Internet generation as well as to older Iranians
who feel more comfortable with Islamic traditions and like to be assured that
the reform movement remains loyal to the ideas of Ayatollah Khomeini's
revolution." And this is no mere subterfuge: Khatami himself is a veteran of
1979, while the reform movement's most important ideological figure may be
Ayatollah Ali Montezeir, the imprisoned liberal theologian who had once been
Khomeini's handpicked successor. "Although the elections are likely to give
Khatami a stronger hand to push his reform agenda," says Dowell, "the real
struggle for a new Iran may be going on behind the walls of the seminaries
where more and more clerics are challenging the conservatives' view of the
extent of the clergy's political authority." That's a tortuous process to
which ordinary Iranians can't directly contribute. But Friday's poll gives
them an opportunity to send the mullahs a message.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:30:25 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran's student heroes have had a rough and surprising passage

WORLD
NOVEMBER 15, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 20
Radicals Reborn
Iran's student heroes have had a rough and surprising passage
BY SCOTT MACLEOD/TEHRAN

It was, Ibrahim Asgharzadeh now insists, all his idea. On Nov. 4, 1979,
Asgharzadeh, then a radical 24-year-old engineering student, led a furious
mob down Taleghani Street in Tehran, crashed through the U.S. embassy's gates
and began a 444-day siege that not only humiliated America but also cemented
a new Iranian political order. But these days, Asgharzadeh is a changed man.
At 44, he is a yuppie-ish politician with a seat on Tehran's municipal
council, and he is frequently denounced by hard-liners. He has shaved his
beard and clearly prefers cracking jokes to raising a clenched fist. Puffing
as he escorts an American visitor up a few flights at city hall, down the
street from the desolate embassy compound, he says, laughing, "I guess I'm
better at climbing over walls than walking up staircases."

Asgharzadeh, who read out the first incendiary communique on the siege that
sickened the world, has come a long way in 20 years, and he is not the only
one. Many of his fellow militants have also mellowed and are slipping out of
the shadows of revolutionary Iran to acknowledge their roles, admit to a few
regrets and argue that their cause is finally maturing. All three of the
original planners of the siege, it turns out, are now key figures in moderate
President Mohammed Khatami's government. Asgharzadeh smiles at the thought of
a hostage taker becoming a democrat, but he insists that is exactly what he
is. "There is no need to change the world anymore."

In separate interviews, conducted in Tehran over cups of tea, plates of
sugary cookies and in one case a late-night pizza to go, Asgharzadeh and top
planners Mohsen Mirdammadi, today a political-science professor, and Abbas
Abdi, an outspoken newspaper editor, revealed fresh insights into their
moment of history. They denied, to start with, that Ayatullah Ruhollah
Khomeini had put them up to it. "The idea came to me while I was studying,"
Asgharzadeh recalled, joking. "I didn't mind getting away from the books."

For several days before the takeover, Asgharzadeh dispatched confederates to
rooftops overlooking the embassy to monitor the security procedures of the
U.S. Marine guards. Around 6:30 a.m. on the cataclysmic day, the ringleaders
gathered 300 selected students, thereafter known as Student Followers of the
Imam's Line, and briefed them on the battle plan. To break the chains locking
the embassy's gates, a female student was given a pair of metal cutters that
she could hide beneath her chador.

Asgharzadeh said the plan was to hold the embassy for three days. "I didn't
think that it would lead to the deep-rooted conflict with America that still
exists," he says. But the students were carried away by public opinion when
thousands thronged to what was denounced as the "Nest of Spies." "Things got
complicated," he says. "We couldn't make decisions on our own anymore." One
problem, he says, was keeping discipline in the ranks. The planners insist
that the students were under orders not to harm the hostages, and were
dressed down when they did. Asgharzadeh says the planners were angry when a
student staged a shocking media parade of blindfolded hostages.

As Asgharzadeh made clear at the time in his frequent harangues to Western
reporters, the students were outraged by the entry of the deposed Shah of
Iran into the U.S. for cancer treatment. Mindful of the CIA-engineered coup
that restored the Shah to his throne in 1953, the students saw conspiracies
everywhere, hence their painstaking effort to reconstruct embassy documents
retrieved from the shredder. The students had another aim: they hoped
anti-Americanism would end the factional feuds undermining the revolution.

The student militants did well by their exploits, later winning election or
appointments to high posts. But their luck ran out after Khomeini died in
1989. In 1991, Asgharzadeh found himself not only removed from his seat in
Parliament but also heading for prison for criticizing the despotic
tendencies of the ruling clergy. The student militants were again excluded
from politics. "The embassy takeover was in defense of Iran's independence,"
explains Mirdammadi, 44. "But after Iman Khomeini died, the danger was to
democracy. Iran moved away from the freedom of choice and expression that had
been promised to the people."

Abdi, 43, has had the most difficult time. In 1993, he spent eight months in
solitary confinement for criticizing the clerics' failure to abide by
democratic practices set down by the nation's 1979 constitution. Yet he has
remained a leading strategist in Khatami's new Participation Party and is one
of the architects of Iranian detente with the West. In 1998, ignoring the
howls of the hard-liners, Abdi traveled to Paris and met with former hostage
Barry Rosen, achieving a reconciliation of sorts. A sign of Abdi's influence:
last summer's student riots began with a protest against the closing of his
newspaper, Salam, by conservative-controlled courts.

Abdi and the others can still scarcely help themselves when it comes to
blaming America for Iran's ills. Asgharzadeh says he is willing to say he's
sorry if the repentance is mutual, but Mirdammadi disagrees: "I am sure that
we will never apologize to America." Abdi is not looking for a lovefest but
wants mutual respect and diplomatic relations for the sake of Iran's national
interest. As he puts it, "The Americans were a nuisance to us, and we were a
nuisance to them. Perhaps now we can talk to each other on an equal footing
and establish a healthy relationship." Americans may not follow the logic.
Yet Abdi's words are more encouraging than the all-too-familiar ones scrawled
across the wall of the former U.S. embassy. The pine-shaded, 27-acre compound
has been occupied since the early '80s by Revolutionary Guards, who use part
of it as a high school. Next to a mural of the Statue of Liberty, styled as a
ghoulish skeleton, is the freshly painted warning: WE WILL MAKE AMERICA FACE
A SEVERE DEFEAT

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:36:33 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: U.S. Eases Partial Sanctions Against Iran

U.S. Eases Partial Sanctions Against Iran
Updated 11:00 a.m. ET (1600 GMT) March 17, 2000 By Barry Schweid
WASHINGTON — With the movement toward democratic reform in Iran "plainly
gathering steam," the Clinton administration Friday lifted a ban on U.S.
imports of Iranian luxury goods and pledged to try to settle outstanding
legal claims between the two countries.

The moves, announced by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, are designed
to encourage further moderation in Iran and to show its citizens that "the
United States bears them no ill will."

Albright said the Clinton administration will look for ways to increase
contacts between American and Iranian scholars, artists, professionals,
athletes and nongovernment groups. "We believe this will serve to deepen
bonds of mutual understanding and trust," she said in a speech to the 3-year
old American-Iranian Council, which is determined to end more than two
decades of estrangement between the United States and Iran.

Despite the moves, Albright made clear that the administration has "no
illusions" that the United States and Iran will be able to overcome their
hostility overnight. "We can't build a true relationship on carpets and grain
alone," she said.

In fact, in her speech, Albright reiterated U.S. allegations that Iran
sponsors terrorism, seeks weapons of mass destruction and persecutes
religious minorities.

She said the projected trial next month of 12 Jews in Shiriz accused of
espionage would be a barometer of how policy in Iran is taking shape.

"It's too early to know precisely where the democratic trends will lead,"
Albright said of a recent parliamentary election in which moderates scored
heavily and other moves in Tehran.

But, she said: "We have concluded the time is ripe to broaden our
perspective."

She wished the Iranian people a happy new year and added: "Surely, the time
has come for America and Iran to enter a new season in which mutual trust may
grow and the quality of warmth supplant the long cold winter of our mutual
discontent."

Copies of the speech were sent electronically to Iran to alert the leadership
there before Albright delivered the speech.

The text of her remarks was carried by the official Islamic Republic News
Agency but there was no immediate response from the government.

Even as President Clinton this week extended sanctions against Iran — barring
U.S. companies from participating in Iran's oil industry — the administration
explored ways to encourage reformists there.

"Today I am announcing a step that will enable Americans to purchase and
import carpets and food products such as dried fruits, nuts and caviar from
Iran," she said.

But trade in oil, oil equipment and other major economic areas remain
prohibited for Americans.

Albright said the United States had returned to Iran the "vast majority" of
assets frozen during the hostage crisis and that nearly all private claims
had been resolved. "our goal now is to settle the relatively few, but very
substantial, claims that are still outstanding," she said.

U.S. hostility to the Islamic fundamentalists who run the country has its
roots in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by revolutionaries in
1979 and the holding of Americans seized there hostage in defiance of
traditional diplomatic practice.

Iran remains on the State Department's list as a sponsor of terrorism, one of
seven countries so branded. For Cuba, for instance, this has meant an
unwavering boycott and rhetorical denunciations.

And yet Syria, also on the list, is being courted by the administration to
make peace with Israel. Clinton has visited Damascus and met with President
Hafez Assad in Damascus and in Switzerland.

North Korea was advised by American diplomats last week how to get off the
list and thereby become eligible for trade and economic assistance.

A major U.S. complaint against Iran is that it provides Hezbollah guerrillas
in Lebanon with the weapons with which they have attacked and killed Israeli
soldiers based in a buffer zone inside southern Lebanon.

Delivery is facilitated by Syria, which controls much of Lebanon.

Conciliatory statements by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and then the
election last month to parliament of candidates considered moderate by some
American analysts have accelerated moves within the administration to open
talks with Iran.

Some analysts have questioned whether an easing of sanctions would elicit a
response or simply amount to a unilateral U.S. concession.

An easing of sanctions also may be interpreted as suggesting that U.S.
attempts to isolate Iran economically have not succeeded.

Albright and other top U.S. officials have stressed that in any formal
meeting the administration would level charges that Iran supports terrorism,
is trying to sabotage Middle East peacemaking and seeks weapons of mass
destruction.

Last April, the United States exempted agricultural and medical products from
sanctions on Iran and other countries

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 00:54:32 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: A transcript of Madeleine Albright speach

A transcript of Madeleine Albright's address Friday to the
American-Iranian Council, as provided by Federal Document Clearing
House:

Today's conference reflects a coming together of a real pantheon
of organizations, not just the American-Iranian Council, but also
the Asia Society, the Middle East Institute and the Georgetown
School of Foreign Service. The wealth of expertise in this room is
enormous and it is testimony to Iran's importance.

As this audience well knows, Iran is one of the world's oldest
continuing civilizations. It has one of the globe's richest and
most diverse cultures. Its territory covers half the coastline of
the on one side of the Straits of Hormuz through which much of the
world's petroleum commerce moves. It borders the Caspian Sea, the
Caucasus and Central and South Asia, where a great deal of the
world's illegal narcotics are produced, several major terrorist
groups are based and huge reserves of oil and gas are just
beginning to be tapped. And it is currently chairing the
Organization of the Islamic Conference.

There is no question that Iran's future direction will play a
pivotal role in the economic and security affairs of what much of
the world reasonably considers the center of the world. And so I
welcome this opportunity to come to discuss relations between the
United States and Iran.

It is appropriate, I hope, to do so in anticipation both of the
Iranian new year and the start of spring. And I want to begin by
wishing all Iranian-Americans a happy new year.

Eid-e shuma mubarak.

I extend the same wishes to the Iranian people overseas.

Spring is the season of hope and renewal, of planting the seeds
for new crops, and my hope is that both in Iran and the United
States we can plant the seeds now for a new and better relationship
in years to come.

And that is precisely the prospect that I would like to discuss
with you today. President Clinton, especially, asked me to come to
this group to have this discussion with you.

It is no secret that for two decades most Americans have viewed
Iran primarily through the prism of the U.S. Embassy takeover in
1979, accompanied, as it was, by the taking of hostages, hateful
rhetoric and the burning of the U.S. flag. Through the years, this
grim view was reinforced by the Iranian government's repression at
home and its support for terrorism aboard, by its assistance to
groups violently opposed to the Middle East peace process and by
its effort to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

America's response has been a policy of isolation and
containment. We took Iranian leaders at their word that they viewed
America as an enemy, and in response we had to treat Iran as a
threat.

However, after the election of President Khatami in 1997, we
began to adjust the lens through which we viewed Iran. Although
Iran's objectionable external policies remained fairly constant,
the political and social dynamics inside Iran were quite clearly
beginning to change.

In response, President Clinton and I welcomed the new Iranian
president's call for a dialogue between our peoples. We encouraged
academic, cultural and athletic contacts. We updated our advisory
to Americans wishing to travel to Iran. We reiterated our
willingness to engage in officially authorized discussions with
Iran regarding each other's principal concerns and said we would
monitor future developments in that country closely, which is what
we have done.

Now we have concluded the time is right to broaden our
perspective even further, because the trends that were becoming
evident inside Iran are plainly gathering steam. The country's
young are spearheading a movement aimed at a more open society and
a more flexible approach to the world. Iran's women have made
themselves among the most politically active and empowered in the
region. Budding entrepreneurs are eager to establish winning
connections overseas.

Respected clerics speak increasingly about the compatibility of
reverence and freedom, modernity and Islam.

An increasingly competent press is emerging despite attempts to
muscle it. And Iran has experienced not one, but three,
increasingly democratic rounds of elections in as many years. Not
surprisingly, these developments have been stubbornly opposed in
some quarters and the process they have set in motion is far from
complete. Harsh punishments are still meted for various kinds of
dissent. Religious prosecution continues against the Baha'i and
also against some Iranians who have converted to Christianity.

And governments around the world, including our own, have
expressed concern about the need to ensure the process for 13
Iranian Jews who were detained for more then a year without
official charge and are now scheduled for trial next month. We look
to the procedures and the results of this trial as one of the
barometers of U.S.-Iran relations.

Moreover, in the fall of 1998, several prominent writers and
publishers were murdered, apparently, by rogue elements in Iran's
security forces. And just the past weekend a prominent editor and
adviser to President Khatami was gravely wounded in an
assassination attempt.

As in any diverse society, there are many currents whirling
about in Iran. Some are driving the country forward, others are
holding it back. Despite the trend toward democracy, control over
the military, judiciary, courts and police remains in unelected
hands and the elements of its foreign policy about which we are
most concerned have not improved.

But the momentum in the direction of internal reform, freedom
and openness is growing stronger. More and more Iranians are
unafraid to agree with President's Khatami's assessment of 15
months ago, and I quote, ``Freedom and diversity of thought do not
threaten the society's security,'' he said. ``Rather, limiting
freedom does so. Criticizing the government and state organizations
at any level is not detrimental to the system; on the contrary, it
is necessary,'' unquote.

The democratic winds in Iran are so refreshing, and many of the
ideas espoused by its leaders so encouraging, there is a risk we
will assume too much. In truth, it is too early to know precisely
where the democratic trends will lead.

Certainly, the primary impetus for change is not ideology, but
pragmatism. Iranians want a better life -- they want broader social
freedom, greater government accountability and wider prosperity.
Despite reviving oil prices, Iran's economy remains hobbled by
inefficiency, corruption and excessive state control. Due in part
to demographic factors, unemployment is higher and per capita
income lower than 20 years ago.

The bottom line is that Iran is evolving on its own terms and
will continue to do so. Iranian democracy, if it blossoms further,
is sure to have its own distinctive features consistent with the
country's traditions and culture. And like any dramatic political
and social evolution, it will go forward at its own speed on a
timetable Iranians set for themselves.

The question we face is how to respond to all this. On the
people-to-people level, the answer is not hard to discern.
Americans should continue to reach out. We have much to learn from
Iranians, and Iranians from us. We should work to expand and
broaden our exchanges. We should engage Iranian academics and
leaders of civil society on issues of mutual interest, and, of
course, we should strive even more energetically to develop our
soccer skills.

The challenge of how to respond to Iran on the official level is
more complex, and it requires a discussion not only of our present
perceptions and future hopes, but also of the somewhat tumultuous
past. At their best, our relations with Iran have been marked by
warm bonds of personal friendship. Over the years, thousands of
American teachers, health care workers, Peace Corps volunteers, and
others have contributed their energy and good will to improving the
lives and well-being of the Iranian people. As is evident in this
room, Iranians have enriched the United States as well. Nearly a
million Iranian-Americans have made our country their home. Many
other Iranians have studied here before returning to apply their
knowledge in their native lands.

In fact, some were among my best students when I taught at
Georgetown School of Foreign Service. It's not surprising, then,
that there is much common ground between our two peoples. Both are
idealistic, proud, family-oriented, spiritually aware and fiercely
opposed to foreign domination.

But that common ground has sometimes been shaken by other
factors. In 1953, the United States played a significant role in
orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular prime minister,
Mohammed Mossadegh. The Eisenhower administration believed its
actions were justified for strategic reasons, but the coup was
clearly a setback for Iran's political development and it is easy
to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention
by America in their internal affairs.

Moreover, during the next quarter century, the United States and
the West gave sustained backing to the shah's regime. Although it
did much to develop the country economically, the shah's government
also brutally repressed political dissent.

As President Clinton has said, the United States must bear its
fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in
U.S.-Iranian relations. Even in more recent years, aspects of U.S.
policy toward Iraq during its conflict with Iran appear now to have
been regrettably shortsighted, especially in light of our
subsequent experiences with Saddam Hussein.

However, we have our own list of grievances, and they are
serious. The embassy takeover was a disgraceful breach of Iran's
international responsibility and a trauma for the hostages and
their families and for all of us. And innocent Americans and
friends of America have been murdered (by) groups that are
supported by the Iranian government. In fact, Congress is now
considering legislation that would mandate the attachment of
Iranian diplomatic and other assets as compensation for acts of
terrorism committed against American citizens.

We are working with Congress to find a solution that will
satisfy the demands of justice, without setting a precedent that
could endanger vital U.S. interest in the treatment of diplomatic
or other property or that would destroy prospects for a successful
dialogue with Iran.

Indeed, we believe that the best hope for avoiding similar

------------------------------

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 16 Mar 2000 to 17 Mar 2000
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