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WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- Predicting a rash of ``indiscriminate sanctioning worldwide,'' President Clinton has vetoed legislation that would levy sanctions against foreign individuals and companies aiding Iran's missile program. In a statement delivered as he sent the ``Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1998'' back to Capitol Hill last night, Clinton said while he fully supports fighting terrorism and halting the transfer of missile technology, the legislation ``is indiscriminate, inflexible and prejudicial to these efforts.'' ``Taken together, the flaws in H.R. 2709 risk a proliferation of indiscriminate sanctioning worldwide,'' he said. The legislation would have required sanctions to be imposed on foreign individuals and companies if there were ``credible information indicating that'' they transferred certain items or assistance that contributed to Iran's missile program, or tried to do so more than once. Clinton said it was ``an unworkably low standard of evidence.'' The sanctions also would last at least two years and would prohibit defense sales, exports of certain dual-use items and U.S. government assistance. Clinton, who has complained of similar foreign policy initiatives forced upon him by Capitol Hill, said such a ``sweeping application of sanctions likely would cause serious friction with many governments.'' He cited Russia, in particular, stating the bill would not have allowed the ``flexibility sufficient to reflect the progress made by the Russian government'' in trying to sever links between that country and Iran's ballistic missile program. Clinton said, ``If enacted, it would damage the U.S. national interest, making it harder to achieve the goals it is intended to serve. Therefore, I am vetoing this bill.'' Two-thirds of the House and Senate would have to vote to override his veto.
TEHRAN, June 24 (AFP) - The leader of Iran's conservatives, parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, Wednesday dubbed Washington's offer of a roadmap for normalization "psychological warfare."
The recent declarations of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on relations with Iran are aimed at launching psychological warfare against our country," Nateq-Nuri told Iranian newspapers.
The United States has a grudge against the Islamic Revolution and wants to use psycholgical warfare to sow discord in society," he said. The conservative leader insisted that "all officials" of the Iranian government "resist and reject normalization" with the United States. Iranian leaders have expressed mounting scepticism in recent days about Albright's ground-breaking address last week in which she offered to discuss a "roadmap leading to normal relations." Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said Monday he did not believe the United States was sincere in its offer to work towards restoring ties after 18 years of hostility.
We doubt Washington's sincerity," Rafsanjani, who remains a powerful figure in the Islamic republic, told members of the elite Revolutionary Guards. But US officials have continued to make public statements pressing for a thawing of ties. Following their unprecedented World Cup football clash in France on Sunday, Washington congratulated Iran on its 2-1 victory saying the match was an example of how the two nations could build bridges to promote understanding.
Building bridges, tearing down the walls of mistrust, and creating better understanding is the beginning," said State Department spokesman James Rubin.
Clinton's veto Tuesday was not designed to go easy on Iran or to encourage Iran to accept Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's offer last week to establish a new and friendly relationship, James P. Rubin, her spokesman, said.
``It has nothing to do with the desire that Secretary Albright and the president stated, to over time improve relations with Iran,'' Rubin said.
The veto was based on objections to restrictions it placed on the president, compelling him to slap sanctions on governments and companies ``without knowing really what was going on,'' Rubin said. ``That is not a serious way to do business,'' he said. ``That's the reason for the veto.''
Both the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to place sanctions on Russian companies that sell ballistic missile equipment to Iran, beginning last Jan. 22. Congress may not have the votes to override the veto.
Albright, in offering to reverse nearly two decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran, ``also made clear how critical it is that we stop the transfer of ballistic missile or other weapons of mass destruction technology to Iran, and that has not changed,'' Rubin said.
Under the 1996 Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, the president has the option of imposing sanctions on foreign companies that invest at least $20 million annually in Iran's oil and gas sectors. The bill he vetoed would have required ``sweeping application of sanctions according to inflexible and indiscriminate criteria,'' Clinton said in a statement. Sanctions could be wrongly triggered against individuals and businesses worldwide and would be disproportionate, penalizing minor violations the same as major ones, he said.
But Clinton said he was particularly concerned about the bill's impact on the U.S. effort to work with Russia to stem the flow of technology from Russia to Iran's missile program.
In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry applauded Clinton's decision as reflecting an agreement reached at his meeting with President Boris Yeltsin in England last month.
``The Russian leadership is pursuing a firm policy aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including supply of any illegal rocket technologies to Iran,'' the statement said.
Some members of Congress said they would push to override the veto, citing concern over moves by Russia and China to supply Iran with missile technology.
``This proliferation cannot and must not be ignored. It is a direct threat to peace in the Middle East,'' said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. ``This carefully crafted legislation will strengthen the president's hand in dealing with proliferators.'' House International Relations Chairman Ben Gilman, R-N.Y., asked GOP leaders to immediately schedule an override vote, saying the veto is ``deeply distressing'' in light of the assistance Iran has gotten from Russia on missile production.
White House press secretary Mike McCurry said earlier that Clinton felt Congress was trying to ``micromanage'' U.S. foreign policy and put ``hopeless shackles on the presidency'' with the legislation.
Iran's Kharrazi visits Saudi before OPEC meeting 07:43 a.m. Jun 23, 1998 Eastern
DUBAI, June 23 (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for talks with King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah, an Iranian diplomat said.
The visit to the Red Sea port city of Jeddah comes just ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna on Wednesday which both Saudi Arabia and Iran will attend.
The Vienna talks will seek to approve an estimated 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil cuts from member states in a bid to shore up weak crude prices.
OPEC promised in March to chop 1.245 million bpd of oil from the international markets.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Saudi Arabia's crown prince held a telephone discussion on OPEC policies on Sunday, Iran's official news agency IRNA said.
Kharrazi's visit also comes on the heels of a call by Khatami for a meeting of the 55-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to discuss Israel's decision to extend the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.
Khatami, current chairman of the Jeddah-based OIC, issued a statement on Tuesday calling for OIC foreign ministers to hold an extraordinary meeting ``to adopt proper stands'' toward the Israeli decision.
Iran-Saudi relations -- strained since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution -- have warmed since Khatami's election last year. Both are powerful members of the OIC.
Democrats urge Clinton to sign Iran sanctions 02:29 p.m Jun 23, 1998 Eastern
By Jackie Frank
WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) - Democrats warned President Bill Clinton on Tuesday that they would support an override of his veto of legislation imposing sanctions on companies that sell missile technology to Iran.
Clinton is expected to veto the Iran Missile Sanctions Act even though it passed the House of Representatives and Senate by veto-proof margins. Democratic lawmakers predicted solid support for the legislation when they are presented with the choice of upholding or rejecting the president's position.
``The president hopefully understands that the vast majority of his own party in the House of Representatives supported this legislation,'' Representative Martin Frost, Democrat of Texas, said at a news conference with several other senior members of Clinton's own party.
The sanctions legislation passed the House 392-22 and the Senate 90-4, well above the two-thirds vote needed to enact the bill into law over the president's objections.
While the Democrats said they agreed that U.S. policy toward Tehran should evolve, they did not believe President Khatami, the new Iranian leader, had sufficient control.
``He is not the man in control of his country or its efforts to acquire missile technology,'' Representative Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey said.
Representative Howard Berman, Democrat of California, opposed Clinton's earlier waiver of sanctions against European and Malaysian companies for investing in Iran, but noted that the new, more limited sanctions measure seemed to meet Clinton's objections to the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.
``This bill does exactly what the administration said it wanted ... It sanctions companies, not countries, that sell weapons technologies,'' he said, adding that the threatened sanctions would help slow the technology transfers. ``Buying time, to me, is a very important asset,'' he said.
The legislation was originally a response to Russian cooperation with Iran's missile program
But the administration had told Congress before the Senate voted in May that Russia's new government had made progress in controlling exports of missile technology and needed more time to put a tough nuclear non-proliferation policy in place.
In addition, it said that the legislation cast such a wide net that some companies or countries would be unfairly sanctioned, possibly backfiring on U.S. goals of halting missile technology transfers.
``Imposition of erroneous sanctions could not only harm U.S.
political and economic relationships with other nations but could dissuade foreign governments or persons from cooperating,'' White House advisers have said in a statement of administration policy.
The bill would require Clinton to submit a report to Congress identifying the companies, research institutes or other entities where there was ``credible evidence'' that technology was transferred to Iran to aid it developing ballistic missiles. Three types of sanctions would be required -- denial of munitions licenses, prohibitions of dual-use licenses or denial of U.S. foreign aid.
Clinton could waive sanctions to protect U.S. national security.
In one concession to the White House, the Congress agreed that the sanctions would be applied only on cases of aid to Iran's missile programme after January 22, 1998, when Russia imposed new rules to control its exports of technology.
Soccer-World Cup-Vogts expects Germany's old men to do duty 04:34 a.m. Jun 24, 1998 Eastern
By Adrian Warner
NICE, France, June 24 (Reuters) - Berti Vogts has turned to the seasoned campaigners of his German squad to secure a place in the last 16 of the World Cup against an exultant Iran on Thursday.
After his side struggled for long periods in their 2-2 draw with Yugoslavia on Sunday, the German trainer has called 37-year-old Lothar Matthaeus into his team to start the Iran match in Montpellier.
Dietmar Hamann and Jens Jeremies are expected to be dropped in favour of the old heads of Olaf Thon and Thomas Helmer in midfield for a group F game which the Germans cannot afford to lose if they want to stay in the tournament.
Iran secured their first finals win in the emotional 2-1 defeat of the United States on Sunday and have just one point less than the Germans in the group. An upset win would put them through at the expense of Germany, presuming Yugoslavia beat the United States.
The Germans, winners in 1954, 1974 and 1990, have only once failed to get past the first round -- in 1938 when the tournament was last held in France.
Iran striker Khodadad Azizi, who played in the Bundesliga with Cologne last season, said: ``If we want to go through to the second round we have to beat Germany. Nothing is impossible in this world.''
Iran looked a more than accomplished side against the Americans and in Mehdi Mahdavikia, who scored the second goal, have one of the great talents of the tournament.
Germany will be facing a confident side, with nothing to lose and more history beckoning.
The Iranians are expected to field three players who earn their living in the Bundesliga. In addition to Azizi, striker Ali Daei and midfielder Karim Bagheri also played for Arminia Bielefeld last season.
Vogts, struggling to find young talent coming through at home, has brought a squad of veterans to France with an average age of nearly 30. It has already looked fragile at times.
Against Iran, Vogts is expected to field a team with only three players under 30 in Michael Tarnat, Joerg Heinrich and Christian Woerns who are both 28. The average age could even be as high as 31.
But Vogts felt some of his younger players let him down for long periods during the game against Yugoslavia when the Germans fought back from 2-0 down.
``I was forced to change things around against Yugoslavia because the performances from some of the players were not good,'' Vogts said. ``I know certain players have a mental problem. I know who I can rely on.
``It is important that we have the right attitude against Iran.''
After their opening 2-0 victory against the United States, the Germans have had a difficult time in the build-up to the Montpellier game.
Vogts was angered by the way his team played against Yugoslavia and was also annoyed by thoughts in the German camp that the squad should pull out of the World Cup after an attack by German hooligans on a French policeman after the Lens game.
The idea of a withdrawal has been dropped but Vogts has told his team quite clearly at a meeting that he expects a better performance.
``He hit the nail right on the head at the meeting,'' midfielder Andy Moeller said. ``It was a pretty awful performance. But we can't turn the clock back.''
Matthaeus, who came on as a substitute against Yugoslavia and helped turn the match around, will extend his record of World Cup games to 23. He is expected to take on the libero role with Thon moving into midfield.
Germany - 1-Andy Koepke, 8-Lothar Matthaeus, 4-Juergen Kohler, 2-Christian Woerns, 3-Joerg Heinrich, 6-Olaf Thon, 7- Andy Moeller, 5-Thomas Helmer, 21-Michael Tarnat, 18-Juergen Klinsmann, 20-Oliver Bierhoff
Iran - 1-Ahmad Abedzadeh, 4-Mohammad Khakpour, 20-Mehdi Pashazadeh, 17-Javad Zarincheh, 2-Mehdi Mahdavikia, 6-Karim Bagheri, 9-Hamid Estili, 14-Nader Mohammadkhani, 21-Mehrdad Minavand, 10-Ali Daei, 11-Khodadad Azizi.
Italy's Prodi, invited by Khatami, to visit Iran 09:53 a.m. Jun 25, 1998 Eastern
ROME, June 25 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will travel to Iran next week, his office said on Thursday, in what will be the first official visit to Tehran by a European head of government for years.
Prodi will arrive in Tehran on June 30 and stay until Thursday, July 2, his office added.
In March, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini was the first senior EU minister to hold talks with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and other government officials in Tehran for nearly two years.
On his return to Rome, Dini said Italy wanted the West to support Khatami, the moderate who won a landslide election victory last year, and back his cautious approach to shaking up Iranian society while keeping conservatives at bay.
While urging Western powers to step up official contacts with the Iranian government, Dini also counselled patience to allow Khatami time to initiate reform in the face of state bodies dominated by conservatives.
``What we can expect is a step forward, then a pause or even half a step back. That is how he will proceed,'' Dini told Reuters in an interview.
Dini also brought back with him the invitation for Prodi from Khatami.
Khatami called on Tuesday for a kinder, gentler Islamic system with room for a range of political and social views, Iran's state radio reported.
Relations between Europe and Iran have entered a thaw after the freeze following a ruling by a Berlin court last year concluding that Iranian leaders were responsible for the 1992 killing of Kurdish dissidents in Germany.
After the verdict, the EU suspended its policy of ``critical dialogue'' towards the Islamic republic and EU members and Iran withdrew their top envoys.
The envoys have since returned and in January the EU lifted a ban on high-level contacts with Iran.
Washington has also been tentatively exploring a rapprochement with Tehran and last month President Bill Clinton decided to waive sanctions that would have kept French, Russian and Malaysian firms from carrying out a $2 billion gas deal in Iran.
Iran, the half-winner of Group F
Congratulation to the eleven-plus dowes of peace and friendship of Iran for their magnificant games against Yugoslavians, Americans and Germans.
MONTPELLIER, June 25 (Reuters) - Second half goals from strikers Oliver Bierhoff and Juergen Klinsmann gave Germany a 2-0 win over Iran on Thursday to take the European champions safely into the last 16 of the World Cup. The victory was enough to ensure the Germans top spot in group F ahead of Yugoslavia. They will play Mexico in the second round in Montpellier on Monday. The Germans struggled in the first 45 minutes but looked sharper right from the start of the second half. Bierhoff put them ahead in he 50th minute with a typical downhard header. Captain Klinsmann made it two eight minutes later, reacting quickly to head home a loose ball after a Bierhoff shot came back off the post. Outsiders Iran threatened the German goal on several occasions in a spirited first half performance but ran out of steam in the second.
MONTPELLIER, June 25 (Reuters) - German goalscorer Oliver Bierhoff said on
Thursday he was pleased with the team's performance in their 2-0 defeat of
Iran, a marked improvement on their display in the 2-2 draw with Yugoslavia.
"We wanted to show that we were better than the team that played against Yugoslavia," said Bierhoff, scorer of the opening goal in the 50th minute.
"We saw in the other games that as long as it was 0-0 there was always a danger that the Iranians might score.
"Particularly in the first half they quite often looked a threat and so we were relieved to get the two goals. We tried to play down the wings a lot and it worked as we saw with the first goal.
"It would have been nice to score one or two goals more but we're happy with the result," he said.
Iranian coach Jalal Talebi said: "We've had a wonderful experience in the World Cup and we did our best against one of the best teams in the world.
"I'm very happy with the Iranian team's performance. This is good for the future of football in Iran. We were playing against a much stronger, more experienced, and physically and technically stronger team.
"We came to do our best, it's never easy to play against a world champion. We'll gain a lot of experience from this." "I want to thank FIFA for giving this wonderful opportunity for countries to play together," Talebi said. German coach Berti Vogts said the victory had achieved Germany's aim of topping the group. They will now play Mexico in the second round. "We know this team (Mexico) well, it's a very strong team. We are happy to come back here to play Mexico," Vogts said.
He praised Iran for their performance. "I knew from the outset that this was a good team and I think we had the proof today. At halftime I had to speak to the team and calm them down."