Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Jan 1999 to 28 Jan 1999

There are 14 messages totalling 704 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iran turns away from goal of "exporting revolution"
2. Khatami ready to meet German official in charge of Hofer case
3. Iranian FM does not rule out wheat purchases from US
4. Iran announces arrest of more of its intelligence agents (2)
5. Tehran wants US compensation for stray missile hit
6. IPS- EXPLOSION AT THE OFFICE OF KHORDAD DAILY IS BAD NEWS FOR KHATAMI
7. UN drugs agency to open Tehran office
8. Iran denies pursuing biological and chemical weapons programme
9. Tehran wants US apology over errant missile landing
10. Iran condemns US raids on Iraq, protests against errant missile
11. Iranian ambassador takes up Bahrain post after three-year break
12. Iran's "disinherited" still victims of economic woes 20 years on
13. Iran lifts ban on Irish beef

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:04:17 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran turns away from goal of "exporting revolution"

TEHRAN, Jan 28 (AFP) - Twenty years after the Islamic
Revolution, Iran has toned down its harsh rhetoric and shifted its
goal from exporting its radical ideology to seeking more normal
relations with the rest of the Moslem world.
In a 20-year span, "exporting the revolution," a dream of the
late leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,
has given way to calls for a "dialogue between civilisations" as
Iran undergoes an ideological transformation under its current
moderate president Mohammad Khatami.
Iran, the only state adhering to the Shiite school of Islam, had
hoped that it could become the champion of the poor and the underdog
in the Moslem world and lead it against the "global oppression"
practiced by the West, notably the United States.
But over the years and facing periodic political, economic and
military set-backs, the Islamic Republic seems to have exhausted its
revolutionary fervor.
The bloody war against neighboring Iraq from 1980 to 1988 which
ended in a virtual stalemate, continuing internal power struggle and
deepening economic troubles are among the developments which created
doubt about the plausibility of the ambitious goal.
If anything, such rhetoric only brought Iran international
isolation, as oil-rich neighboring Arab states distanced themselves
from the Islamic Republic fearing Iranian-backed plots to unseat
their rulers.
The Islamic Republic even failed to gain solid support from
large Shiite communities in several Arab countries, except for
Lebanon -- and that at a high political and financial cost.
Iran's shift towards moderation began at the end of the war
against Iraq and accelerated with Khomeini's death a year later and
the rise to the presidency of pragmatic politician Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani, who played a leading role in bringing the conflict to an
end.
Rafsanjani, driven by economic need and aided by new political
realities, managed to balalnce his country's foreign policy towards
the center, a shift which was most evident in Iran's neutral stance
towards the 1991 Gulf War.
Over the years, he managed to ease the distrust of neighboring
Arab countries and some Western states, although not enough to
convince them to make major investments in a country wrecked by
revolutionary chaos and war.
It was not until Khatami's election in May 1997 that Iran
managed to charm the outside world with his detente policies and
desire to reintegrate the country into the world community.
The about-turn in Iranian diplomacy became all the more apparent
in December 1997 when Tehran hosted for the first time a summit of
the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which saw many
Arab and Moslem leaders visiting here for the first time since the
revolution.
Twenty years after the Islamic Republic's birth, it
revolutionary heritage has narrowed to a deep-rooted animosity
towards Israel and a half-heated hostility towards the United
States.
Iran also maintains an ambivalent attitude towards Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat, denouncing him for his "concessions" to Israel
but giving him a warm welcome when he visited here for the OIC
summit.
The Islamic Republic has indeed tried to shed its menacing image
and cultivate one as a peace-loving country keen on resolving
regional conflicts.
But robust relations with the Gulf Arab states, a foreign policy
priority for Khatami's government, are contingent on a settlement of
a dispute with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over three strategic
islands in the Gulf.
On the eve of the revolution's 20th anniversary, the Islamic
regime may be sharply divided, but all agree on one point: that past
radical slogans have all but failed to materialize.
Iran's primary aim now appears to be exploiting its strategic
position as a crossroads between the Middle East and Central Asia
and to become the chief regional trade route.
The country faces numerous obstacles in reaching such a goal,
including a worsening economic recession caused by plummeting oil
prices and US opposition to Iranian involvement in major economic
deals in the region.
Moreover, Iran is yet to shake off its image as a sponsor of
international terrorism and to convince its conservative Arab
neighbors that it poses no military threat.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:04:22 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Khatami ready to meet German official in charge of Hofer case

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is
ready to meet the German official in charge of talks on the case of
a German businessman who faces the death penalty here, officials
said Wednesday.
"Talks are continuing to find a date for a meeting" between
Khatami and German Chancellory Minister Bodo Hombach when he visits
Iran early next month, foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi
told reporters.
Bonn announced Monday that Hombach will travel to Iran "in the
first days of February," for a visit linked to the participation of
a German theatre group, "Theatre on the Ruhr", at a Tehran theatre
festival.
Iran expects Hombach to bring a message for Khatami from
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Asefi said.
In November, Schroeder charged Hombach with pursuing contacts
with Iran over the case of businessman Helmut Hofer, who was
sentenced to death early last year for having an affair with a
Moslem woman.
The Iranian judiciary Wednesday strongly denied reports that
Hofer might be pardoned as part of next month's celebrations to mark
the 20th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
"The procedures will be followed in accordance with Iranian
law," said a statement from the judiciary, a bastion of Iran's
conservatives.
Asefi also stressed that "the case is not political but a matter
for the courts."
But he said that Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi would
meet his German counterpart, Joschka Fischer, in the next few days
on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Hofer, who was arrested in autumn 1997, is awaiting a final
verdict from Iran's supreme court on his appeal against the death
sentence.
Under the laws of Iran's Islamic republic, sexual relations
between non-Moslems and Moslems are not permitted.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:04:30 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian FM does not rule out wheat purchases from US

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi
did not exclude on Wednesday wheat purchases from the United States,
arguing that the deal was being pushed through by US farmers and
Congress.
"We do not rely on any country for the purchase of essential
goods. Because of US sanctions we have found other markets," Kharazi
told a press conference.
He said US farmers and congressmen were pushing to sell US wheat
to Iran despite an economic embargo imposed by Washington on Iran in
June 1995.
"This is a vivid illustration that US sanctions have not been
successful. They have caused more damage to US farmers than to
Iran," the minister said. "Of course the sanctions are not
desirable."
The US State Department said last week that Iran had placed an
order to buy more than 500 million dollars' worth of US grain and
sugar, but said Washington had not yet decided whether to approve
it.
According to the Washington Post, Iran placed the order in
December, following an improvement in US-Iranian relations after the
1997 election of President Mohammed Khatami.
But there has been strong opposition from Khatami's conservative
opponents to a purchase of wheat from arch-enemy the United States.
"We should not rely for strategic goods on a country which turns
more hostile towards Islam and Iran every day," said parliamentary
speaker Ali-Akbar Nateq Nuri on Wednesday.
He urged the parliament to help the government to secure
strategic agricultural products so that it does not have to turn to
the United States.
According to the Post, the request, submitted to the Treasury
Department on December 14, is for two million tonnes of wheat,
400,000 tonnes of corn, 300,000 tonnes of rice, 400,000 tonnes of
sugar and 200,000 tonnes of soy meal.
It was placed by Niki Trading Co., specially created last June
for the proposed grain deal by Richard Bliss, a veteran Washington
lobbyist, and Yahya Fiuzi, an Iranian American, Bliss told the
daily.
The order has been approved "at the highest level of the Iranian
government," and has the backing of 10 US agricultural trade
associations and a bipartisan group of US lawmakers, Bliss said.
The Treasury Department, which must issue a licence before the
deal can go through, has sent a preliminary, staff-level
recommendation to National Security Adviser Sandy Berger to reject
the proposal, unidentified administration officials said.
The US-British BP Amoco group has also submitted a proposal for
a major onshore oil field in southern Iran, the specialist
Nicosia-based oil weekly Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reported
Monday.
"There is overwhelming interest among US oil companies in
participating in Iranian oil projects," Kharazi said.
Iran has put up some 20 oil and gas projects for international
tender and several US companies have voiced frustration at not being
able to bid.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:04:44 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran announces arrest of more of its intelligence agents

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - Iran's intelligence ministry said
Wednesday it had arrested several of its agents, accusing them of
clandestinely distributing political leaflets.
"Several agents who were involved in distributing underground
letters and counterfeit documents have been arrested and handed over
to the judiciary," an unnamed intelligence official said, quoted by
the official IRNA news agency.
The official said the head of the gang "claiming to have access
to classified foreign documents has accused some government
officials of committing treason."
"He sent his communiques to various organisations," he said,
adding that the authorities had seized weapons, documents and
statements which the gang had prepared for distribution.
"Initial investigation found that the man in charge of the gang
suffers from a superiority complex," the official said, without
elaborating.
The news of the latest arrests comes just weeks after the
intelligence ministry admitted that rogue secret agents were
involved in a string of recent murders of political dissidents and
intellectuals.
Iranian authorities have been searching for a shadowy group,
calling itself the Fedayeen (Devotees) of Pure Islam, which has been
anonymously faxing letters to newspapers and intellectuals
threatening them with death.
The group had claimed responsibility for the murders of
nationalist opposition leader Daryush Foruhar and his wife as well
as those of two writers in November and December.
It also claimed an attack on a group of visiting Americans as
they were travelling in a bus in Tehran in mid-November.
But IRNA did not say if the agents arrested were linked to the
Fedayeen, or disclose the themes of their secret leaflets.
The Fedayeen, who emerged several months ago, have vowed to
undermine President Mohammad Khatami's reform programme and have
accused moderate officials of betraying the fundamental principles
of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The authorities said early this month they had arrested 10
people for complicity in the recent murders and that many more were
under surveillance.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:04:55 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Tehran wants US compensation for stray missile hit

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - Iran Wednesday demanded compensation from
the United States for damage to an Iranian border town caused by a
stray US missile fired at Iraq and vowed to raise the issue at the
United Nations.
"The United States should pay compensation, not just for the
material damage, but also for the non-material, psychological
damage, caused by this violation of Iranian air space," Foreign
Minister Kamal Kharazi said.
"This is not tolerable to the Islamic Republic of Iran ... the
United States should be held responsible for this violation of
Iranian airspace," he told a joint news conference with visiting
Irish Foreign Minister David Andrews.
Kharazi vowed that Iran would step up its protests. "Today this
matter will be raised at the United Nations," he said.
Earlier Kharazi told state radio that "the United States should
present its apologies and repair the damage incurred" by the stray
missile.
Iran's armed forces "will respond to any aggression and defend
the country," he added without elaborating.
No casualties were reported from the missile which slammed into
the outskirts of Abadan on Monday.
Parliamentary speaker Ali-Akbar Nateq-Nuri accused the United
States of threatening Iran's national security.
"Repeated aggressions by American and British forces against
Iraq are most dangerous for the region and our national security,"
the speaker said during a parliamentary session.
He slammed the United Nations and regional states for being
"passive" in the face of American attacks on Iran's neighbour and
urged Iranian diplomacy "to act with greater forcefulness."
Nateq-Nuri held the United States responsible for the missile
which landed at Abadan.
"It's very suspicious and cannot have been accidental," he said
urging the army and border guards to be on the alert. "The Americans
must know that there is a limit to Iran's patience with such
incidents," he said.
The charge d'affaires of the Swiss embassy here, which looks
after US interests in Iran, was summoned to the foreign ministry on
Tuesday to hear a "strong protest"
In December, another stray cruise missile landed in Iran, in the
southern city of Khorramshahr.
US warplanes struck Iraqi air defences at six sites in northern
and southern Iraq on Tuesday, while Iraq claimed 11 civilians were
killed by missiles which struck a densely populated area in the
southern province of Basra on Monday.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:05:01 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran announces arrest of more of its intelligence agents

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - Iran's intelligence ministry said
Wednesday it had arrested several of its agents, accusing them of
clandestinely distributing political leaflets.
"Several agents who were involved in distributing underground
letters and counterfeit documents have been arrested and handed over
to the judiciary," an unnamed intelligence official said, quoted by
the official IRNA news agency.
The official said the head of the gang "claiming to have access
to classified foreign documents has accused government officials of
committing treason."
"He sent his communiques to various organisations," he said,
adding that the authorities had seized weapons, documents and
statements which the gang had prepared for distribution.
"Initial investigation found that the man in charge of the gang
suffers from a superiority complex," the official said, without
elaborating.
The news of the latest arrests comes just weeks after the
intelligence ministry admitted that rogue secret agents were
involved in a string of recent murders of political dissidents and
intellectuals.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 17:03:37 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: IPS- EXPLOSION AT THE OFFICE OF KHORDAD DAILY IS BAD NEWS FOR KHATAMI

PARIS 25 JAN. (IPS)
The offices of the independent daily "Khordad" that is owned by the
vice-president hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri was fire-bombed Monday night and
two journalist of the newspaper that supports the president ayatollah
Mohammad Khatami injured, according to the Persian services of the Radio
France Internationale (RFI, the French equivalent of the BBC).

Quoting the official Iranian news agency IRNA, the radio said the passenger
of a motorcycle that was not identified threw a "percussion bomb" into the
offices of the paper.

The incident occurred at 18:55 local times (15:25 GMT) in the Africa Avenue,
northern Tehran, IRNA said. The bomb shattered the windows of the office and
nearby buildings.

One staff member of the paper told IRNA by telephone that an unknown caller
had threatened to bomb the daily again in the future.

Analysts in Tehran contacted by the IPS observed that Mr. Nouri, an outspoken
supporter of the President, had been threatened several times by the
Feda'iyan Eslam (FE), a notorious islamist terrorist organisation that he
would be "given appropriate lesson" if he continues with his policy of
promoting political, social and cultural reforms that are considered by the
ruling conservatives as undermining the position of the ayatollah Ali
Khameneh'i, the lamed leader of the Islamic Republic who enjoys almost
unlimited, extra-constitutional powers.

Mr. Khameneh'i is widely believed by the Iranian public as the cleric who,
most probably, would have issued the fatwas, or religious orders for the
murder of Mr. Dariush Foruhar, the leader of the secular, nationalist
Iranian People's Party (IPP) and his wife Parvaneh as well as Mohammad
Mokhtari and Mohamad Ja'far Pouyandeh, both of them intellectual dissidents.

Staunch opponents of the present clerical regime, both husband and wife were
openly and defiantly calling for a radical change of the system, its
replacement by a secular, parliamentary democracy.

Another leftist political activist, Mr. Piruz Davani, disappeared 4 months
ago is still missing. The FE has claimed that it had "executed" him.

As the ayatollah Khameneh'i would insist and persist in saying that the
murders were the work of foreigners, an Investigation Committee that was
set up by the President to investigate the murders concluded that agents of
the

Information Ministry, the Islamic KGB, had perpetrated the crimes.

The findings was latter confirmed by the Ministry. In a statement that
shocked and astonished the public opinion, the Information Ministry said
several of its members had killed the 4 dissidents.

The Ministry's unprecedented admission prompted the public and the moderate
press that in its large majority is sympathetic to the President to push the
authorities to identify and present all those who ordered, organised and
carried out the murders, regardless of their positions.

But so far, nothing has been disclosed as to the names, the number or the
rank of the agents involved. Nor anything is known about the men who issued
the orders.

A secretive but influential group well known for its terrorist operations and
assassination of prominent personalities, including 4 Prime Ministers it
killed under the former Monarchist regime, the FE, of which all the present
rulers of the Islamic Republic are members, is believed to be controlling the
conservative religious-political-military establishment and be behind the
latest murders of dissidents.

Iranian Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ahmad Bourqani
condemned the bomb attack.

"This (explosion) is in the direct line of the recent wave of the murder of
political and intellectual dissidents", commented the Organisation of the
Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen (OIRM), a leftist islamist movement that
supports the reforms promised by the President.

A former Interior Minister who was impeached last year by the Majles
(parliament) that is controlled by conservatives, Mr. Nouri is considered as
one of the strongest and most influential supporters of Mr. Khatami.

He created his newspaper shortly after the Judiciary, acting on orders from
the leader, shut down the outspoken, mass circulation, pro-Khatami daily
"Toos", throwing in jail the owner, the manager, the director, the editor
and a senior staff journalist known for his satirical cartoons and
commentaries.

Coming amid intensive negotiations that are being held behind tightly closed
doors between representatives of the president with those of the leader, the
fire-bombing of "Khordad" is interpreted by Iranian analysts as a deliberate
provocation to stop the talks.

The admission by the Information Ministry that its men killed the dissidents
has badly damaged the position, the prestige and the influence of the leader
and weakened the conservatives that until then would enjoy the monopoly of
powers in the one hand while enhancing the position and the popularity of the
President.

The recent blunders by the conservatives in the form of accusations made by a
certain hojatoleslam Hosseinian that the killers were Khatami's men in the
one hand and a press conference by the Military Prosecutor that the assassins
worked in closed-circuit without any senior ranking official having ordered
them backfired against the conservatives and further strengthened the hands
of Mr. Khatami in his bargaining for more powers, including the appointment
of his own man at the head of the Information Ministry, a more control over
the Radio and Television that is directly controlled by the leader and
probably the taming of the Judiciary that is supervised directly by Mr.
Khameneh'i.

Meanwhile, Ali Hekmat, editor-in-chief of the daily said Monday evening that
the daily would be come out on Tuesday despite of the terrorist bomb attack
against its office.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:05:15 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: UN drugs agency to open Tehran office

VIENNA, Jan 27 (AFP) - The UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) is
to open a new office in Tehran to strengthen cooperation with Iran
in fighting drug producers and dealers, a statement said Wednesday.
"The decision to establish a country office in Tehran was taken
in recognition of the crucial role played by the Islamic Republic of
Iran in the common fight against illict drugs," said UN drugs chief
Pino Arlacchi.
Iran, which has lost more than 2,000 people over the past 20
years in the fight against illicit drug production and trafficking,
reported a considerable increase in seizures of illicit substances
in 1998, the statement said.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:05:23 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran denies pursuing biological and chemical weapons programme

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - The Iranian foreign ministry strongly
denied Wednesday allegations made by an opposition group that it is
pursuing a biological and chemical weapons programme.
"We categorically deny these accusations, because we have no
intention of possessing such satanic weapons," foreign ministry
spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told foreign journalists here.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran issued a statement in
the United States Tuesday accusing Tehran of pursuing a massive
biological and chemical warfare program employing thousands of
people including foreign experts.
The group said the program, spread over various governmental
offices, universities and laboratories, had succeeded in producing
three types of biological weapons and would soon be able to make
them in mass quantities.
Soona Samsami, the group's US representative, and two scientists
affiliated with the resistance council said information they
obtained from dissident sources in Iran showed that Tehran is now
making several deadly agents, including anthrax and VX nerve gas.
They said that Iranian scientists, working with at least 18
Russian chemical weapons experts, lacked only the computerized
controls that regulate the amount of various ingredients to the
agents to begin mass production.
Iran has denied similar reports in the past, but the US and
other governments are known to be concerned about Tehran's attempts
to hire foreign experts, particularly those from the former Soviet
Union, with experience in the chemical and biological weapons
field.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:05:35 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Tehran wants US apology over errant missile landing

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi
called on the United States on Wednesday to apologize over the
landing of an Iraq-bound missile in an Iranian border town.
"The United States should present its apologies and repair the
damage incurred," state radio quoted Kharazi as saying. "The US
government must repair the moral damage it has inflicted on Iran for
the violation of its air space."
The minister warned that Iran's armed forces "will respond to
any aggression and defend the country," but did not elaborate.
Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali-Akbar Nateq Nuri accused the
United States on Wednesday of threatening his country's national
security after the landing of the stray missile on the outskirts of
Abadan on Monday.
No casualties were reported from the missile.
"Repeated aggressions by American and British forces against
Iraq are most dangerous for the region and our national security,"
the speaker said during a parliamentary session.
He slammed the United Nations and regional states for being
"passive" in the face of American attacks on Iran's neighbor and
urged Iranian diplomacy "to act with greater forcefulness."
Nateq-Nuri held the United States responsible for the missile
which landed at Abadan.
"It's very suspicious and cannot have been accidental," he said
urging the army and border guards to be on the alert. "The Americans
must know that there is a limit to Iran's patience with such
incidents."
The charge d'affaires of the Swiss embassy here, which looks
after US interests in Iran, was summoned to the foreign ministry on
Tuesday to hear a "strong protest"
In December, another stray cruise missile landed in Iran, in the
southern city of Khorramshahr.
US warplanes struck Iraqi air defenses Tuesday at six sites in
northern and southern Iraq on Monday, while Iraq claimed 11
civilians were killed by missiles which struck a densely populated
area in the southern province of Basra on Monday.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:05:41 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran condemns US raids on Iraq, protests against errant missile

TEHRAN, Jan 26 (AFP) - Iran expressed concern on Tuesday over
regional tension resulting from US attacks on Iraq and filed a
protest with the United States over the landing of an errant missile
on Iranian territory.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted foreign ministry
spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying Iran "is concerned over a rise
in tension in the region resulting from America's military maneuvers
in Iraq."
Asefi condemned the most recent American strikes against Iraq,
which have caused a number of civilian casualties.
His comments were echoed by Vice President Hassan Habibi, who
told Iraqi charge d'affaires Abdel Sattar Mahmud al-Rawi that Tehran
opposed the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf.
Habibi called for cooperation between all countries of the
region to defend their interests, IRNA said.
Rawi praised Iran's stance towards the US-British air strikes as
"courageous and principled," the news agency said.
IRNA reported meanwhile that the charge d'affaires of the Swiss
embassy here, which looks after US interests in Iran, was summoned
to the foreign ministry on Tuesday to hear a "strong protest" over
the landing of a stray US missile on the outskirts of the southern
city of Abadan.
The foreign ministry director-general for American affairs,
Mohammad Reza, Bakhtiari told Stefano Lazzarotto that Iran holds the
United States responsible for the "unacceptable" incident.
Lazzarotto expressed regret and promised to convey Iran's
protest to the US government to seek a response, IRNA said.
A US missile landed in a suburb of Abadan during a US attack
against Iraq on Monday. No casualties were reported. In December, a
stray cruise missile landed in the southern Iranian city of
Khorramshahr.
US officials said US warplanes struck Iraqi air defenses at six
sites in northern and southern Iraq on Monday, while Iraq claimed 11
civilians were killed by missiles which struck a densely populated
area in the southern province of Basra.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:05:51 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian ambassador takes up Bahrain post after three-year break

MANAMA, Jan 26 (AFP) - An Iranian ambassador took up his post in
the Bahraini capital on Tuesday for the first time since the two
countries recalled their ambassadors in 1996, the official news
agency GNA said.
It said the new ambassador, Mohammad Jalal Firouznia, met
Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad ibn Issa al-Khalifa for talks on
"current developments in the Gulf and the Arab world."
The two Gulf states recalled their ambassadors in June 1996
following accusations that Shiite Moslem Iran sought to overthrow
Bahrain's Sunni Moslem government.
Manama accused the Islamic republic of stirring unrest in this
Gulf Arab archipelago that has killed at least 38 people since
December 1994, charges denied by Tehran.
Iran's new ambassador, previously director of the Iranian
foreign ministry's Gulf department and ambassador to Yemen, was
appointed in October after concerted efforts in Tehran to improve
ties with Gulf Arab neighbours.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:06:02 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran's "disinherited" still victims of economic woes 20 years on

TEHRAN, Jan 26 (AFP) - Millions of "disinherited" Iranians, in
whose name the 1979 Islamic Revolution took place, are the hardest
hit by the country's economic crisis on the eve of the 20th
anniversary of the upheaval.
Iran's have-nots, supposedly the regime's main support base, are
today facing a growing decline in their purchasing power as the
country's economic recession deepens, mainly due to plummeting oil
prices.
The government seems to be looking on helplessly as the prices
of essential consumer goods soar out of control, unable to do much
except grant subsidies.
Parliament approved last week a 75-percent increase in the
prices of domestic fuel, in a move which is likely to further push
up the rate of inflation.
In view of the difficulties faced by the poor, the assembly
turned down a proposal from the government for a 275 percent
increase in petrol prices as part of its cost-cutting campaign to
cope with dwindling revenues.
Most here agree that low-income earners, who makes up the bulk
of the country's 60 million population, are bearing the brunt of the
economic woes gripping the country.
Economic indicators are all in the red this year following a
dramatic fall in crude prices, the country's main source of hard
currency.
The reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami is hoping
to collect more taxes to fill the gap left by falling oil revenues,
which make up about half the government's total income.
According to Western experts, the Iranian economy is expected to
grow by a negligible 0.5 percent next fiscal year, which begins on
March 21, although the inflation rate, officially put at 18 percent,
hovers around 40 percent.
Facing a budget deficit of 6.3 billion dollars this year, the
government is hard pressed to pay back foreign creditors as its
external debt is set to climb from 21 billion dollars presently to
22.3 billion dollars at the end of the year 2000.
Iran, the second largest oil producer in the Middle East, is
counting on only 12 billion dollars from oil exports next year.
The forecast income is based on the crude price of 11.8 dollars
a barrel, though Iranian crude is currently selling at around nine
dollars a barrel.
The country produces an annual 3.6 million barrel per day, of
which 2.5 million bpd are exported.
To revive the economy, the government hopes to attract around
10.5 billion dollars in foreign investment, mainly in its oil and
gas sector.
Such investment, if it arrives, will be on a buy-back basis, a
mechanism which allows foreign investors to be paid back through a
share of production.
The steady drop in the rate of rial against major foreign
currencies is another ominous sign of the present state of the
economy.
But despite the economic hardship, the country is gearing up to
spend lavishly on February 1-11 celebrations of the 20th anniversary
of the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian new year a month later.

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 21:05:13 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran lifts ban on Irish beef

TEHRAN, Jan 27 (AFP) - Iran has agreed to resume imports of
Irish beef, visiting Irish Foreign Minister David Andrews announced
here Wednesday at the end of a three-day visit.
"There has been the successful conclusion of a beef agreement
between our two countries," he said.
Ireland has for some time been pressing Iran to lift a ban on
imports of Irish beef imposed because of concerns about "mad cow
disease" -- bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The resumed imports will be subject to veterinary controls
agreed during a visit by Iranian officials to Dublin last month, a
member of the Irish delegation said.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Jan 1999 to 28 Jan 1999