Date: Feb 2, 1999 [ 19: 37: 21]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 1 Feb 1999 to 2 Feb 1999 - Special issue

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There are 25 messages totalling 1382 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. NEWS99 - Press Freedom About to be Uprooted, says Bourqani
2. NEWS99 - 'Adineh' Closed, Publisher to be Fined, Flogged
3. Talk by ARASH FOROUHAR in NYC
4. People's Mujahedeen claim attack on intelligence ministry
5. Key dates since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution
6. Rafsanjani calls on Iranian factions to unite against regime's enemies
7. Iran's Islamic regime seeks to win back restless youth
8. Iraqi, Iranian officials meet to discuss POWs
9. Iranian rial continues to plunge
10. Iranian parliament adopts budget to fight US "plots"
11. Iranian official in Sudan for meeting of Sudanese-Iranian committee
12. Iranian FM awaited in France for rare "working visit"
13. Iranian currency continues downward slide
14. Iran, a bridge between the Middle East and Asia
15. Iran says no pardon imminent for German sentenced to death
16. Iran Marks Khomeini Anniversary
17. Iran gives cautious response to Taliban call for improved relations
18. Explosion rocks building on highway north of Tehran
19. Khomeini's house decked with flowers for revolution anniversary
20. Mass wedding for 6,000 Iranian couples to mark revolution anniversary
21. Iranian woman sentenced to hang, another to amputation
22. Iranian central bank demands rescheduling of import payment bills
23. Enthusiastic welcome for Khatami at anniversary rally
24. fwd: In Solidarity with Iranian Intellectuals and Dissidents
25. fwd: RFE/RL IRAN REPORT, Vol. 2, No. 5, 1 February 1999

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

Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 20:55:34 GMT
From: arash@MY-DEJANEWS.COM
Subject: NEWS99 - Press Freedom About to be Uprooted, says Bourqani

Former Iran Official Says Press Freedom Threatened

Reuters 02-FEB-99

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - Iran's former top press official,
a noted moderate, has compared the country's new-found
press freedom to a young tree about to be uprooted,
newspapers reported Tuesday.

"Young trees have shot up, but there are apparently people
who are determined to cut them off at the roots,"
newspapers quoted former Culture and Islamic Guidance
Deputy Minister Ahmad Bourqani as saying in a farewell
speech at the ministry.

"The only excuse for this is that someone might not like
the smell if these young trees grow and flower," said
Bourqani, who was in charge of press affairs at the
ministry before his resignation was announced earlier this
week.

Moderate newspapers, many of which started publishing after
the 1997 election of moderate President Mohammad Khatami,
have expressed concern that Bourqani's departure might
signal a more restrictive atmosphere against the press.

Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ataollah Mohajerani
has admitted having had differences with the liberal
Bourqani, but said no major policy changes were in the
works.

"They (opponents) hurled accusations at us for trying to
establish press freedom and said this would intensify the
(Western) cultural onslaught," Bourqani said.

Khatami's powerful conservative opponents have repeatedly
accused outspoken moderate newspapers of acting against
Islam and the country's national security.

Bourqani rejected the view that publications were growing
like "mushrooms" under his liberal licensing policies,
saying the press needed to reach a daily circulation of six
million in the country of 60 million people, from the
current average circulation of 2.3 million by 900
publications.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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

Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 20:58:27 GMT
From: arash@MY-DEJANEWS.COM
Subject: NEWS99 - 'Adineh' Closed, Publisher to be Fined, Flogged

Tuesday, February 2, 1999 Published at 18:50 GMT

World: Middle East


A popular Iranian magazine closed


The Iranian authorities have ordered the closure of a
popular independent magazine, Adineh, accusing it of
publishing lies and causing public concern.

Its managing director Gholam-Hussain Zakeri was fined three
thousand dollars.

Adineh is the oldest independent and secular cultural and
social magazine in Iran.

Its former editor Faraj Sarkuhi -- who spent a year in
prison on charges of spreading propaganda against the
Islamic regime -- told the BBC that Adineh's closure
indicates that the hardliners have begun a new offensive
against the free press.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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

T H E I R A N I A N T I M E S

Tuesday, February 2, 1999

NEWSFLASH


Adineh ordered closed


A judge has ordered the closure of Adineh, the
most-respected independent magazine in Iran, IRNA reported
today.

The judge also ordered the flogging of the publisher,
Gholamhossein Zakeri, and demanded that he pay nine million
rials in penalties. Zakeri has been accused of publishing
"false, misleading and morally corrupt" articles.

Zakeri has 20 days to appeal ... FULL TEXT IN PERSIAN AT:
http://www.iranian.com/News/Feb99/adineh.html

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

Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 22:40:06 GMT
From: Sassan Pejhan <sassan@SARNOFF.COM>
Subject: Talk by ARASH FOROUHAR in NYC

There will be a talk by ARASH FOROUHAR (son of Dariush Forouhar and
Parvaneh Eskandari) on the recent events in Iran.

Date: Feb. 6, 1999
Time: 2:00-5:00 PM

Place: Mathematics Building
Columbia University
Broadway & 116th St.
Manhattan

The talk is organized by Kanoon-e Iran in NYC, in support of freedom of
expression in Iran and in solidarity with the families of murdered
dissidents.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:18:47 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: People's Mujahedeen claim attack on intelligence ministry

NICOSIA, Jan 31 (AFP) - The People's Mujahedeen, the main armed
Iranian opposition group, claimed Sunday to have carried out a
mortar attack on the headquarters of the intelligence ministry in
Tehran.
"At 6:30 p.m. this evening the headquarters of the intelligence
ministry in Tehran's Pasdaran street in northeast Tehran was
attacked with mortars by a military unit of the People's
Mujahedeen," a spokesman told AFP here.
"The attack was in response to the political murders and
assassinations inside and outside Iran by ministry of intelligence
agents," he said.
"Several mortars landed on the ministry building which sustained
extensive damage," the People's Mujahedeen spokesman said, adding
that "for a long time ambulances and fire engines were rushing to
the scene."
The spokesman noted that the attack came on the eve of official
celebrations of the 20th anniversary the Iranian revolution.
Iran's official IRNA news agency reported earlier Sunday that an
explosion caused by a handgrenade or homemade bomb had shattered
windows in a residential building on a highway north of Tehran on
Sunday.
It was not immediately clear if the blast reported by IRNA and
the People's Mujahedeen claim of an attack were connected.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:18:56 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Key dates since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution

TEHRAN, Feb 1 (AFP) - The Islamic revolution that Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini launched with his return to Iran from exile 20
years ago has transformed the country beyond recognition.
Key dates:

1979
February 1: Following the forced departure of the Shah,
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini makes a triumphal return to Tehran,
flying from France after 15 years in exile.
February 11: Shah's regime collapses.
April 1: Iran is declared an Islamic republic, with supreme
authority vested in a religious leader, initially Khomeini.
November 4: Students seize hostages in the US embassy in Tehran
in support of a demand for the return of the Shah. Diplomatic
relations with the United States are broken off, but intense
diplomatic activity sees the 52 remaining hostage released on
January 20, 1981.

1980
January 26: Abol Hassan Bani Sadr is elected first president of
the republic.
July 27: The Shah of Iran dies in Cairo.
September 23: Beginning of the Iran-Iraq war.

1981
June 22: Khomeini dismisses Bani Sadr.
June 28: A bomb attack on the headquarters of the Islamic
Republic Party kills 74, including Ayatollah Beheshti, Khomeini's
deputy.
July 24: Ali Radjai is elected president but is assassinated on
August 30.
October 2: Ali Khamenei is elected president.

1985
November 23: Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri is designated
Khomenei's heir only to be moved aside in March 1989.

1988
July 3: Iran appeals to the UN Security Council after the
shooting down by a US warship in the Gulf of an Iran Air civilian
airliner that left 290 dead.
July 18: Iran accepts UN Resolution 598 ordering a ceasefire
with Iraq, which comes into effect on August 20.

1989
February 14: Khomeini issues a fatwa condeming British writer
Salman Rushdie to death for alleged blasphemy in his novel "The
Satanic Verses."
June 3: Death of Khomeini, who is replaced by Khamenei.

1992
December 12: The European Union opens a "critical dialogue" with
Iran.

1995
April 30: US President Bill Clinton orders a total embargo
against Iran, accusing it of promoting world terrorism.
November 28: Parliament adopts a new penal code largely based on
Sharia law.

1997
April 10: Germany accuses Tehran of being behind the murder of
Iranian opposition leaders in 1992 in Berlin. The EU breaks off its
"critical dialogue."
May 23: Mohammad Khatami, a moderate left-of-centre candidate,
is elected president with 69 percent of the vote.

1998
January 7: Khatami calls for dialogue with the American people.
September 24: Tehran says it will not seek to enforce
Khomeini's fatwa against Rushdie. London and Tehran announce
normalisation of relations.
November 22: Assassination of nationalist opposition leader
Daryush Foruhar and his wife. A hitherto unknown fundamentalist
group claims these and several other murders of intellectuals and
oppositionists. Subsequent arrests reveal that a number of
government agents are implicated.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:18:38 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Rafsanjani calls on Iranian factions to unite against regime's enemies

TEHRAN, Feb 1 (AFP) - Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani called Monday on Iran's squabbling political factions to
unite to confront the regime's enemies and praised the country's
military capabilities.
Rafsanjani, a top adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, warned radical and conservative Iranian factions against
"any dissension."
"We must all be together and close ranks and gather around the
leader (Khamenei) and the clergy," Rafsanjani told a crowd of
thousands gathered at the south Tehran mausoleum of the leader of
the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The crowds were there for the opening ceremonies of official
festivities to mark the Islamic regime's 20th anniversary.
"The enemy is aiming for the country's youth," to weaken the
regime, warned Rafsanjani, the head of the powerful State Expdiency
Council, which settles constitutional wrangles.
He said factional quarrels pitting radical and reformist
supporters of Iran's moderate President Mohammad Khatami against
conservative hardliners are the main threat to the regime.
Rafsanjani further praised Iran's "military force," which he
said had prevented the country from being "swallowed up" by its
principal enemy, the United States.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:19:14 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran's Islamic regime seeks to win back restless youth

TEHRAN, Feb 2 (AFP) - Iran's Islamic regime set out to capture
the imagination of the huge teenage population born after the 1979
Islamic revolution Tuesday with a special youth day launched by its
most popular figure, moderate President Mohammed Khatami.
Khatami told a raucous crowd of Tehran schoolchildren he could
understand their difficulty in identifying with the 10 days of
celebrations the government is staging to commemorate the 20th
anniversary of the overthrow of the shah.
"You youngsters were not not in the revolution, so it is natural
that what you know is only what you have read or heard," he told a
crowd of 12,000 schoolchildren gathered in the Azadi sports stadium
in the west of the capital.
"But the revolution was a dramatic development in terms of the
speed and sheer scope of change ... and youngsters just like you
played the most important part," he told the cheering crowd.
Khatami is by far and away the most popular figure in the
Islamic regime -- in warm-up speeches at the stadium the names of
all Iran's leaders were mentioned, but only the moderate president's
met with any enthusiasm from the young crowd.
Cries of "Khatami, Khatami we're behind you, we're behind you,"
greeted him as he entered the stadium and were repeated throughout
his speech.
His shock 1997 election victory over conservative opponent Ali
Akbar Nateq-Nuri was largely due to the votes of women and the
young, who have the vote here from the age of 15.
"One of the greatest things about the last presidential election
was the presence of young people and women -- I salute you," Khatami
told the schoolchildren.
He called on the young to turn out with as much enthusiasm for
Iran 's first-ever local elections next month as well as polls for
the currently conservative-dominated parliament due next year.
Khatami's election victory prompted the authorities here to sit
up and pay more attention to young people's concerns -- nearly 50
percent of Iran's population was born after the revolution.
Calls for the authorities to pay greater heed to young people's
aspirations have become a trademark of the president and are now
routinely echoed by other leaders.
"Young people have all sort of tastes and preferences -- this is
quite natural -- we should try to make sure that their legitimate
desires are met," Khatami said to wild applause, adding that his
government's top priority was to provide young people with jobs.
Some two million young Iranians are currently unemployed and an
estimated 10 million jobs will need to be created over the next few
years just to deal with the rising number of school leavers.
Teenagers are increasingly more interested in the youth culture
of the officially hated West and the capital's growing number of
burger joints than in the ideological slogans of the revolution.
The youngsters in the Azadi stadium crowd refused repeated calls
from marshalls to behave with Islamic decorum, showing their
appreciation for the president with un-Islamic whistles and Mexican
waves, and even throwing firecrackers.
Khatami urged the students not to give up hope and assured them
he was battling with the authorities to give them a greater say.
"Hopefully, after all the tortuous meanderings of the
bureaucracy, it has been now finally been agreed that there will be
a students' union," he told the youngsters.
State television broadcast a series of frank interviews with
schoolchildren to mark the youth day in which they aired their
criticism of the authorities.
"They don't take enough notice of young people," said one child.
"They should be more friendly to us," said another.
Others voiced more mundane demands -- better facilities for
football, Iran's new-found passion.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:19:07 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iraqi, Iranian officials meet to discuss POWs

BAGHDAD, Feb 1 (AFP) - Officials from a joint Iraqi-Iranian
committee met on the border Monday to discuss a further exchange of
prisoners from their 1980-1988 war, an Iraqi official said.
Khalad al-Saadi, chairman of a parliamentary human right
committee, told AFP that Iraq had been expecting Iran to release a
group of prisoners in January in line with a 1998 agreement, "but we
are still waiting."
He declined to give details on the meeting, but said Iraq hoped
to resolve the issue of the outstanding POWs as soon as possible.
An official with the International Committee of the Red Cross,
which often acts as an intermediary in negotiations and supervises
the return of POWs, said it was unaware of a meeting but any sign of
talks was encouraging.
The last prisoner handover was in mid-December, when 196 Iraqis
and 16 non-Iraqis, plus the body of one Iraqi who died in captivity,
were sent back across the land border.
Al-Zawra, the Iraqi journalists' union newspaper, last month
accused Tehran of reneging on a promise to release 424 POWs.
Since the end of the war, more than 90,000 prisoners have been
exchanged, but the problem remains one of the main bones of
contention between the two sides, which have yet to sign a peace
treaty.
Baghdad says it has freed all Iranian POWs but that it holds 64
"criminals" from Iran who took part in a Shiite uprising in southern
Iraq in March 1991, just after the Gulf War.
According to Tehran, at least 5,000 Iranian soldiers are still
held in Iraq. Baghdad counters that 20,000 Iraqi POWs are in Iranian
jails.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:19:26 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian rial continues to plunge

TEHRAN, Feb 1 (AFP) - The Iranian rial continued to plunge in
value against major curencies on the illegal open market here on
Sunday, according to money changers.
The rial dropped from 8,220 to the dollar late Saturday to 8,400
to the dollar in the early afternoon on Sunday.
Just a week ago the rial was still trading at 7,500 to the
dollar.
The currency's slide has continued relentlessly for several
months -- late last year the rial crashed through the 6,000 and
7,000 thresholds against the dollar in a matter of weeks.
The sharp fall in the rial's value has been linked to the
government's hard currency crunch, prompted by plummeting prices on
world markets for Iran's main export, oil.
Iran banned the open exchange market four years ago in an effort
to prevent the collapse of the rial against major foreign
currencies.
The government maintains three official exchange rates of 1,750,
3,000 and 5,700 rials to the dollar respectively for state
transactions, licensed exporters and some travellers authorised to
receive hard currency.
After two weeks of often stormy debate, parliament approved a
package of tax increases and government spending cuts for next
year's budget Sunday, in a bid to tackle the mounting economic
crisis.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:19:40 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian parliament adopts budget to fight US "plots"

TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - Iran's conservative-dominated parliament
voted a special budget Saturday to fight "American plots" against
Iran, Iranian radio said Sunday.
The reports added that the budget will be spent "to foil plots
and interference and also fight against the United States's cultural
assault against the Islamic revolution," though it gave no details
of the amount of money legislators approved.
Iran and the United States severed diplomatic relations in 1980
months after Iran's Islamic revolution, after students stormed the
American embassy in Tehran and held them hostage for over a year.
The United States has striven to contain Iran ever since, as a
"rogue" state, accusing it of supporting international terrorism and
undermining the Middle East peace process.
Recent attempts at a rapprochement following the election to the
presidency of the moderate Mohammad Khatami are fiercely opposed by
conservatives.
Iran has accused the United States of interference in its
internal affairs.
Deputies shouted "Death to America" at the end of their vote
late Saturday night. Parliament is currently debating the
government-proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.
The special budget is also designed to "inform international and
Iranian public opinion of American aggressions" in the world and its
"violations of the United Nations Charter and the Algiers
Declaration."
The 1981 Algiers Declaration followed an agreement aimed at
settling financial disputes between the two countries at the end of
the hostage crisis in Tehran. It had allowed the liberation of the
52 Americans held hostage in Iran.
Iran's parliament has already voted similar budgets in the past
three years, approving 16 million dollars last year, following the
American decision in 1995 to allocate 20 million dollars for a plan
to push Iran toward greater democracy.
The parliamentary vote comes on the eve of official celebrations
to mark the 20th anniversary of the revolution that toppled Iran's
western-backed monarchy.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:19:48 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian official in Sudan for meeting of Sudanese-Iranian committee

KHARTOUM, Jan 31 (AFP) - A senior Iranian foreign ministry
official arrived here on Sunday to take part in a meeting of a joint
Sudanese-Iranian political commitee on Monday, the official SUNA
news agency reported.
The official, Mohammed Sadr, will head the Iranian delegation
while the Sudanese side will be led by undersecretary for foreign
affairs Hassan Abdin, it added.


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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:20:07 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian FM awaited in France for rare "working visit"

PARIS, Feb 1 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi
flies in to France on Tuesday for a "working visit", the first such
visit by an Iranian foreign minister in eight years.
With bilateral ties at a new high, his visit will include talks
to prepare a ground-breaking trip to France by President Mohammad
Khatami, the first by an Iranian head of state to a European Union
country since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
During talks Tuesday and Wednesday, Kharazi will meet President
Jacques Chirac, his counterpart Hubert Vedrine, and the leader of
the Senate, Christian Poncelet, the second-highest official in the
French state hierarchy.
The last "working visit" by an Iranian foreign minister dates
back to July 1991.
"We aim during this visit to continue political dialogue with a
state that we believe, along with our European Union partners, has a
considerable role in the Middle East, and can contribute to regional
stability," a French foreign ministry spokesman said.
Bernard Valero said that both bilateral and international
questions would be raised during Kharazi's stay.
The Iranian foreign ministry said last month that Khatami's
visit to France was planned for after the Iranian new year starting
March 21, but that no date had been set.
Several ministerial meetings have taken place in the last months
between France and Iran, notably on economic issues.
On the economic front, French oil group Total in 1995 signed a
contract to develop two oilfields, Sirri A and E, in the Gulf, close
to Dubai's territorial waters, for a total investment of around 660
million dollars.
It is currently negotiating developing Sirri C and D, which
would make it the dominant player over the whole project and would
optimise the use of its facilities on Sirri Island.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:20:14 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian currency continues downward slide

TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - The Iranian rial plunged yet further
against major foreign currencies on the illegal open market Sunday
despite parliament's approval of an austerity budget to tackle a
worsening economic crisis.
In early afternoon the dollar changed hands at 8,220 rials on
the black market after the rial passed the threshold of 8,000 to the
dollar the previous evening.
Just a week ago the rial was still trading at 7,500 to the
dollar.
The currency's slide has continued relentlessly for several
months -- late last year the rial crashed through the 6,000 and
7,000 thresholds against the dollar in a matter of weeks.
The sharp fall in the rial's value has been linked to the
government's hard currency crunch, prompted by plummeting prices on
world markets for Iran's main export, oil.
Iran banned the open exchange market four years ago in an effort
to prevent the collapse of the rial against major foreign
currencies.
The government maintains three official exchange rates of 1,750,
3,000 and 5,700 rials to the dollar respectively for state
transactions, licensed exporters and some travellers authorised to
receive hard currency.
Iran, which earns more than 80 per cent of its hard currency
from oil exports, faces a six-billion-dollar budget deficit this
fiscal year, which ends on March 20.
After two weeks of often stormy debate, parliament approved a
package of tax increases and government spending cuts Sunday, but
the austerity budget still projected a deficit of five billion
dollars or more in 1999-2000.
The price of oil fell 34 percent last year over the 1997 price
of 18.68 dollars.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:20:26 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran, a bridge between the Middle East and Asia

TEHRAN, Feb 1 (AFP) - Iran is an ancient nation that forms a
bridge between the Middle East and south Asia, and has for the past
20 years been governed as an Islamic republic.
Key facts:

GEOGRAPHY: Iran comprises a high plateau surrounded by
mountains, with a few restricted lowland areas along its Gulf coast,
the Caspian Sea and the Iraqi border. In the east, lower areas of
the plateau are covered by salt deserts including the Kevir desert.
Iran is bordered by Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan,
Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has extreme climate, ranging from very
hot on the Gulf to sub-zero temperatures in winter in the northwest.
Surface area: 1,648,000 square kilometres (632,450 square miles).
POPULATION: Slightly more than 60 million inhabitants. Doubling
time: 21 years (birthrate 1.68 times world average).
CAPITAL: Tehran (pop: 6.5 million). Other urban centres: Mashhad
(1.1 million), Shiraz (1.0 million).
LANGUAGES: Farsi (Persian). 72 minority languages, mainly Azeri
(17 percent) and Kurdish (9 percent).
RELIGION: Islam (Shiite 89 percent, Sunnite 10 percent). Others
1 percent.
RECENT HISTORY: The former Persian empire was ruled from 1925 to
1979 by the Pahlavi dynasty, who changed the country's name to Iran
in 1935. Mohammed Reza, who came to power in 1941, was briefly
toppled by nationalist premier Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953, but was
restored with US assistance. Reza adopted a policy of land reform
and political repression, ordering Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini into
exile in 1964. He was overthrown in February 1979 by Khomeini who
set up a fundamentalist Islamic republic.
From 1980 to 1988 Iran fought a long war of attrition with Iraq
in which 300,000 people died.
Khomeini was succeeded on his death in June 1989 by Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei.
POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS: Iran's spiritual guide is its supreme
authority. An executive president is elected by popular vote for a
four-year term. A moderate, Mohammad Khatami, was elected in May
1997. The president appoints a cabinet, which is responsible to
parliament.
A 270-seat parliament (Majlis) is elected for a four-year term.
ECONOMY: Petroleum is Iran's main source of foreign currency (85
percent of total earnings). Iran is the second-largest oil producer
within OPEC (the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) with
3.6 million barrels a day. It also possesses 15 percent of the
world's gas reserves, second only to Russia. Iran's main industries
are petrochemicals, textiles, carpet-weaving, vehicles and cement.
Non-oil exports include carpets (its second-highest earner) and
chemicals.
Iran suffers from under-investment and high inflation and
unemployment.
Agriculture employs around 35 percent of the population.
CURRENCY: rial.
FOREIGN DEBT: 21 billion dollars.
DEFENCE FORCES: 518,000 men, together with 120,000 Pasdarans
(Revolutionary Guards).

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:20:35 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran says no pardon imminent for German sentenced to death

TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - The Iranian judiciary Sunday strongly
denied reports that a pardon was imminent for a German businessman
sentenced to death here.
"The case of (Helmut) Hofer is with the Supreme Court and the
final verdict has yet to be announced. We therefore reject reports
of a pardon for him," state radio quoted an unidentified justice
official as saying.
The German news agency DPA last week quoted an unnamed
government official as saying that Hofer might be pardoned as part
of this week's celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the
Islamic revolution.
The German businessman was sentenced to death here early last
year for allegedly having an affair with a Moslem Iranian woman.
Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi appealed to both
countries meanwhile to "act with patience and shrewdly to avoid
damage to bilateral relations."
"Iran expects statesmen (from both countries) to exercise care
in approaching superficial incidents between the two countries to
avoid damage to bilateral ties," he said in talks with Germany's new
ambassador here, Klaus Zeller.
"Despite the ups and downs, Iran has no problems in its
relations with Germany," said the ayatollah, a renowned conservative
politician.
Referring to Hofer's case, he warned that "Iran's judicial
system is based on Islamic law and judicial independence and no
authority can interfere" from outside.
"Mixing legal issues with political ones will only damage the
rights of people," Yazdi added.
Iran has repeatedly stressed that Hofer's case is a criminal one
to be dealt with by the courts, and must not be politicised.
But the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that Iranian
President Mohammad Khatami is ready to meet a senior German official
handling the case.
"Talks are continuing to find a date for a meeting" between
Khatami and German Chancellory Minister Bodo Hombach when he visits
Iran this week, ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told reporters.
Bonn announced on 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," in an
international theatre festival here.
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: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:20:45 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran Marks Khomeini Anniversary

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- School bells rang and helicopters showered
flowers on the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini today as Iran
marked the 20th anniversary of his return from exile.
The bells -- along with whistles from trains and ships at port --
were sounded at 9:33 a.m., the moment Khomeini's jet touched down
at Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Feb. 1, 1979.
Helicopters also dropped flowers on Khomeini's golden-domed tomb
inside the sprawling Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery south of Tehran.
After returning from 15 years of exile, Khomeini overthrew the
U.S.-supported shah and proclaimed the Islamic Republic.
His actions shocked the United States and raised fears across
the Arab world that Khomeini would follow through on his pledge to
export his strict vision of Islam. Fifty-two Americans were held
hostage in the Iranian capital for more than a year.
Thousands gathered today inside the shrine -- aglow with lights
from giant chandeliers and adorned with precious Persian carpets --
to pay tribute to Khomeini, who died on June 3, 1989.
State-run television broadcast live from the shrine, where
Khomeini's grandson, Hassan, said his grandfather had ``come as a
hero and left as a hero.''
Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's former president who now heads a
powerful policy-making body, told the crowds that the United States
was still the enemy and claimed that only Iran's military might
prevented the United States and Britain from carrying out attacks
on Iran similar to those against Iraq.
Earlier, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor as Iran's
supreme leader, and President Mohammad Khatami paid their respects
at the shrine.
Every Iranian newspaper ran front-page pictures of Khomeini
along with articles glorifying the father of the revolution.
``It is a full 20 years now since that memorable day in history
which cleansed Iran of the cobwebs of corruption and ushered in the
dawn of Islamic rule,'' said the English-language Kayhan
International.
Television interspersed live coverage from the tomb with old
footage of Khomeini's return. It showed the dour cleric in his
beard, black turban and flowing robe as he stepped down the stairs
of the Air France jet with a French steward holding his hand.
One goal was to keep Khomeini's memory alive, especially for the
generation born since 1979.
The festivities are to climax on Feb. 11, the day the shah's
government collapsed.
A bomb explosion Sunday in northeastern Tehran failed to mar the
festivities.
Iran acknowledged claims by the Iraq-based Mujahedeen Khalq
opposition group that it had launched the attack, but differed on
details.
The Mujahedeen claimed that a mortar attack on the Intelligence
Ministry headquarters in Tehran caused considerable damage.
But the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted an
unidentified official as saying the bomb had shattered glass in
homes and cars.
The Islamic republic that Khomeini left behind is now in the
midst of a power struggle. Hard-liners want to continue to rule in
his uncompromising style, while moderates are following the lead of
the reformist president, Khatami.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:20:50 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran gives cautious response to Taliban call for improved relations

TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - Iran gave a guarded welcome Sunday to a
call by the Taliban militia ruling most of Afghanistan for an
improvement in their troubled relations, repeating earlier
preconditions for a dialogue.
Foreign ministry ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said "there
are no obstacles" to a dialogue if the Taliban meet Iran's condition
of arresting and punishing militiamen responsible for the murder of
Iranian diplomats and a journalist in Afghanistan last August.
"We have insisted our legitimate demand that the identification,
arrest and punishment of those responsible for the murder of Iranian
diplomats and a journalist are the precondition to any further
developments" in relations, state radio quoted him as saying.
He added the Taliban should inform Iranian authorities of their
intentions in this regard and expect an official response in return.
The Taliban foreign ministry on Wednesday called for improved
relations with Iran, which has supported opposition forces fighting
the Taliban in the Afghan civil war.
A spokesman said the Taliban are ready "to negotiate with the
Iranian authorities toward solving all problems" between the two
countries, notably the murder of Iranian diplomats and a journalist
by Taliban militiamen which led Iran to mass troops on the Afghan
border last August and September.
The spokesman said the Taliban was responding to Iran's Deputy
Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, who has raised the issue of
improving relations between the two countries.
On Tuesday the Taliban returned 21 Iranian trucks they had
seized when they captured Mazar-i-Sharif from Iranian-backed
opposition forces. Iran says the trucks were used to carry consumer
products to Mazar-i-Sharif but the militia charged that they were
carrying weapons.
Like most of the international community, Iran does not
recognize the Taliban administration and supports the government of
ousted president Burhanuddin Rabbani.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:20:55 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Explosion rocks building on highway north of Tehran

TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - An explosion caused by a handgrenade or
homemade bomb broke windows in a residential building on a highway
north of Tehran on Sunday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The blast occurred in a building or a parking lot on the Shahid
Hemmat highway, the news agency said.
Windows in a residential building were shattered, it added.
IRNA quoted the fire department as saying the explosion was
"possibly due to a handmade bomb or a handgrenade."


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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:21:15 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Khomeini's house decked with flowers for revolution anniversary

TEHRAN, Feb 1 (AFP) - The house of Iran's late revolutionary
leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was decked with flowers on Monday
to mark the 20th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
People in the central Iranian village of Khomein, the
ayatollah's birthplace, covered his house with flowers while
hundreds of cars and vans lit their headlamps and hooted their horns
to mark the exact moment on February 1, 1979 when Khomeini returned
in triumph from 15 years of exile.
Local people and "pilgrims" from around the country celebrated
the event by waving flags and pictures of Khomeini in the town, the
official news agency IRNA added.
Monday's celebrations launched 10 days of festivities marking
the 20th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, which toppled the
Western-backed monarchy, replacing it with an Islamic republic.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:22:42 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Mass wedding for 6,000 Iranian couples to mark revolution anniversary

TEHRAN, Feb 2 (AFP) - The Iranian government is to fund group
weddings for 6,000 poor couples in the coming days as part of
official festivities to mark the 20th anniversary of the Islamic
revolution.
The ceremonies will be performed by the Imam Khomeini Aid
Committee, founded after the 1979 revolution to help deprived
families, the official news agency IRNA reported Tuesday.
The conservative-dominated charity has already arranged a total
of 130,000 mass weddings in what has become a popular and cheaper
alternative to traditional wedding ceremonies.
Young couples will be given gifts and assistance to help kick
off their married life in a country facing high unemployment and a
sharp recession prompted by a fall in oil prices, the country's main
source of hard currency.
Marriage has become a nationwide headache here for one of the
world's youngest populations, about half of which are aged 20 or
under.
Authorities here are keen to marry youngsters off to keep them
away from drugs or aimlessness.
The roughly 10 million Iranians of marriageable age must
overcome a series of hurdles before they can marry -- traditional
taboos often prevent them from getting to know their future spouses
and men are expected to secure their wives' material welfare.
Middle-class families often expect prospective husbands to have
a job with "prospects" before agreeing to let them marry their
daughters.
A standard practice is to demand a considerable number of gold
coins from the groom as a security in case of divorce.
Then there are the wedding expenses and presents for the bride
-- a must for any self-respecting bridegroom -- that can exceed 20
or 30 million rials (6,000 to 10,000 dollars at the official
exchange rate).
The media and clerics often criticize such extravagant customs,
asking that families be less "demanding."

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:22:47 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian woman sentenced to hang, another to amputation

TEHRAN, Feb 2 (AFP) - An Iranian woman has been sentenced to
hang after having a hand amputated for the robbery and murder of an
elderly woman in Tehran, newspapers reported Tuesday.
The woman, indentified as Jamileh, 38, is to have a hand
amputated, in accordance with Islamic Sharia law, and then go to the
gallows, the papers said.
Her 30-year-old accomplice, Zahra, also a woman, has been
sentenced to serve 15 years in prison after having a hand amputated,
the papers said.
The two women, described as drug addicts, strangled a woman in
her 70s before stealing her jewelery, the papers said.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:22:55 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian central bank demands rescheduling of import payment bills

SEOUL, Feb 2 (AFP) - Iran, hit by currency shortages and falling
oil prices, has asked South Korea to reschedule some 100 million
dollars worth of import payments, officials said Tuesday.
Iran's central bank called for advance payment for oil imports
from the South Korean government if debt rescheduling is impossible,
Daewoo Corp. said.
The requests were contained in a letter from Aziz Farrashi, a
senior Iranian central bank official, to two foreign banks and 14
South Korean firms including the trading arms of Daewoo, Hyundai and
other conglomerates.
"Iran has asked us for an additional 18 months after it failed
to remit overdue payments," a Daewoo Corp. spokesman told AFP.
For 430 million dollars worth of goods, imported from 14 South
Korean firms in 1993, Iran promised to meet delayed payments in 18
quarterly instalments between 1995 and 1999, he said.
So far, Iran has paid 14 instalments. But it said it could not
meet the last four payments, citing a lack of foreign exchange
reserves, he said.
"We have yet to answer Iran because the deal must be approved by
our government," the spokesman said, adding the 14 Korean firms and
two foreign banks met Monday to discuss the issue.
He declined to name the foreign banks, but other sources said a
Hong Kong institution took part in Monday's session.
"In view of Iran's difficult situation, we hope the government
will advance payment," the Daewoo official said.
Commerce ministry officials said Iran was asking for
pre-financing from the Seoul government, the central Bank of Korea
and Korean firms concerned.
"We are trying to verify Iran's requests through diplomatic
channels. We will take action if Iran's requests are considered
unfair," the ministry said in a statement.
"If neeed (be), government agencies will map out concerted
measures," it said.
Some 85 percent Iranian exports come from oil. South Korea, a
major importer of Iranian oil, exported more than 700 million
dollars worth of goods to Iran last year.
Some newspapers in Seoul expressed concern over Iran's worsening
financial status. But Daewoo officials ruled out the possibility of
Iran defaulting on debts or declaring a moratorium.
Yonhap news agency said South Korean traders were being asked to
open credit accounts in other Middle East countries that are faring
better for future exports to Iran.
Many Korean firms have been engaged in massive construction
projects in Libya, Iran, Iraq and other Middle East nations.
On Monday, Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co. said that it
had clinched a 49 million dollar contract to build a steel rolling
mill in the United Arab Emirates.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 03:23:01 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Enthusiastic welcome for Khatami at anniversary rally

TEHRAN, Feb 2 (AFP) - Iran's moderate President Mohammad Khatami
received an enthusiastic welcome from some 12,000 young Iranians at
a ceremony here Tuesday marking the 20th anniversary of the Islamic
revolution.
Khatami, elected in a landslide in May 1997, was greeted with
cries of "Khatami, Khatami we're behind you, we're behind you," when
he arrived at the vast Azadi sports stadium in western Tehran,
witnesses said.
The crowd, made up mostly of schoolchildren from Tehran
neighborhoods, gave the reformist president a warm ovation before
singing the national anthem of the Islamic republic and a hymn in
homage to the late leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomenei.
Iran began a 10-day celebration dubbed the 10 Days of Dawn on
Monday, the 20th anniversary of Khomenei's February 1, 1979 return
to Iran after 15 years in exile.
The second day of celebrations of the Islamic revolution was
devoted to the country's youth, who make up more than half of Iran's
60-million population.
Iran has one of the world's youngest populations and Iranians
can vote at the age of 15. Young Iranians voted massively for
Khatami in the May 1997 presidential election.
Some two million young Iranians are currently unemployed and an
estimated 10 million jobs will need to be created over the next few
years.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 04:29:20 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: fwd: In Solidarity with Iranian Intellectuals and Dissidents

The Committee for Freedom of Thought and Expression in Iran presents:

In Solidarity with Iranian Intellectuals and Dissidents and

in Memory of:

Parvaneh & Dariush Forouhar, Majid Sharif, Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad
Pouyandeh


Speakers:

Arash Forouhar (Dariush and Parvaneh Forouharís Son)

Shahrnoush Parsipour

Nasser Rahmaninejad

Majid Nafisi


Time: Sunday February 7, at 6:30pm

Place: University of California at Berkeley
155 Dwinelle Hall
Berkeley, California


You are invited to attend this important event to express your support for
Iranian writers and intellectuals, and to condemn the crimes of the Islamic
Republic against the Iranian people.

Your efforts in informing others regarding this protest would be greatly
helpful.

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

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 04:38:03 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: fwd: RFE/RL IRAN REPORT, Vol. 2, No. 5, 1 February 1999

RFE/RL IRAN REPORT, Vol. 2, No. 5, 1 February 1999
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 10:32:51 -0500

RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
_____________________________________________________________
RFE/RL IRAN REPORT
Vol. 2, No. 5, 1 February 1999

A Review of Developments in Iran Prepared by the Staff of
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

COMPENSATION FOR U.S. MISSILE STRIKE DEMANDED. When a cruise
missile accidentally hit the Iranian city of Khorramshahr
during the U.S.-U.K. missile strikes against Iraq in
December, Iran's initial official reaction consisted of
little more than a Foreign Ministry summons of the Swiss
ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, and of the
charge d'affaires of the British Embassy to convey a "strong
protest." But when another missile landed in the outskirts of
Abadan on 25 January, the official reaction was stronger.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said: "America must
apologize to compensate for the violation of the airspace of
the Islamic Republic of Iran." He also said "America's
government is required to compensate Iran for damage
resulting from the violation of Iranian borders." The Swiss
charge d'affaires was summoned to receive Iran's "strong
protest," reported the "Tehran Times."
On 27 January, Kharrazi sent a letter to U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan, in which he protested against the missile
strike. Annan was urged "to take proper measures" to prevent
similar events in the future. The letter questioned the
coincidence of two missile strikes occurring in such a short
period of time. The U.S. government was held "directly
responsible" for any damage the missiles caused.
Conservative parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri
blamed the Foreign Ministry, saying that if they had "acted
seriously" when Khorramshahr was hit Abadan would not have
been hit this time. He told the parliament: "The Americans
should know that they bear responsibility for such rash acts
and that Iran's patience has limits."
On 27 January, 220 parliamentarians urged the Supreme
National Security Council and the Iranian government to take
"'necessary deterrent measures in the face of plots by the
enemies of the Islamic Revolution, the U.S.-U.K. strike on
Iraq and the landing of several missiles in Abadan and
Khorramshahr."
The conservative "Resalat" newspaper said on 27 January
that such missile strikes did not bode well for national
security. It also wondered why American missiles always land
accidentally in Iran. "Jomhouri Islami" commented that the
U.S. must apologize and Iranian officials must react more
strongly now than they did in December if recurrences are to
be avoided. The daily's editor told the "Tehran Times" that
he thought the missile attack was "just a test to see the
Iranian reaction." (Bill Samii)

NEITHER EAST NOR WEST -- BUT WEST IS WORSE. The Iranian
government and media have been silent on Russia's use of the
Kabala radar station in Azerbaijan. Nor have they commented
on the presence of Russian military units throughout the
Caucasus. But the Iranian response to rumors that a U.S.
military base might be established in Azerbaijan was swift
and vocal.
At the beginning of January "Azernews-Azerkhabar"
reported that Russian air defense artillery forces situated
in Azerbaijan have established a special unit to "monitor
U.S. and other military movements." The Kabala radar station
lets the Russians "identify all flying objects over an area
stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Middle East." The new
equipment at Kabala, say Azerbaijani ecologists, poses an
environmental hazard due to high radiation levels and there
is an "alarming" increase in related illnesses nearby.
Despite the information the facility provides, Russia is
behind on its payments. Iran reacted to this news with
silence.
A few weeks later, Azerbaijani State Foreign Policy
Adviser Vafa Guluzade announced that his country might
bolster "military cooperation with the West" in reaction to
the delivery of Russian anti-aircraft missiles to Armenia,
reported Baku's "Zerkalo" newspaper on 23 January. Guluzade
proposed the establishment of an American base in Azerbaijan.
He said: "The U.S. military bases could guarantee security
for Azerbaijan. If this depended on me, I would deploy a U.S.
Air Force squadron on the Apsheron peninsula within 15
minutes." The chief of the Azerbaijani presidential cabinet,
Eldar Namazov, confirmed his country's readiness to host a
U.S. military base, reported "Turan" press agency on 25
January. A U.S. official said, "We have no such plans. It's
not something we are considering at this time," reported the
"Journal of Commerce" on 28 January.
This news elicited a more vocal Iranian reaction. Joint
staff chief Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said at a 24
January flag-raising ceremony that "the Israelis and the
Americans are approaching us from the north," reported
"Jomhouri Eslami." He went on to make a veiled warning about
"Shiite Azeris with Iranian blood in their veins" inhabiting
the region where the base might be established. "Resalat"
wrote on 25 January that U.S. bases in Azerbaijan were meant
to isolate Iran and Russia and undermine the relationship
between the two countries. On 26 January, "Iran" newspaper
editorialized: "the political geography of the region will
not admit countries such as the U.S. and Israel." "Quds," on
28 January, commented that suggestions of permitting a U.S.
base indicate Baku's failure to protect its sovereignty.
Iran's Russian allies also entered the fray. Roman
Popkovich, chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, said there
is "no need" for NATO or American bases on Azerbaijani
territory, reported "TASS" on 26 January. He saw the whole
affair as "an attempt to influence decision-making in
Russia." Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer, writing
in "Segodnya" on 26 January, explained that the pro-Iranian
lobby in Moscow shares interests with the defense industry.
Iran has purchased fighters, bombers, submarines, missile
systems, and other weapons "at an aggregate cost of $4
billion," although just a little over $1 billion of that was
paid in cash and the rest was in oil swaps and mutual debt
offsets. It is even rumored that Russian President Boris
Yeltsin signed a directive that loopholes should be found in
agreements with U.S. so military-technical cooperation with
Iran can continue, Felgengauer wrote. (Bill Samii)

BP AMOCO ACTS QUICKLY, BUT CAUTIOUSLY. On 18 January BP Amoco
announced that it will not join a $19 million Iranian oil
exploration project with Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Lasmo
PLC. A BP Amoco spokesman said his company is interested in
future Iranian projects, but because the two firms merged on
31 December, more time is needed to reassess their regional
strategies. According to Bloomberg News, another reason BP
Amoco is taking a more cautious approach towards Iranian
projects is concern about U.S. economic sanctions which bar
investment in Iran.
Apparently, BP Amoco did not need much more time to
complete the assessment of its regional strategy. On 25
January the company confirmed its submission of a "technical
proposal for the long-term development of the Bangestan
reservoir" to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), a
company spokesman told Reuters. This would encompass
production enhancement and secondary recovery at the onshore
Ahvaz, Abu Teimour, and Mansuri fields. The "Middle East
Economic Survey" reports that there are seven bidders for the
Ahvaz project.
BP Amoco also said it wanted to steer clear of
exploration in Caspian waters over which there is a dispute
between Azerbaijan and Iran. On 10 December, Azerbaijan's
Foreign Ministry condemned the Royal Dutch/Shell and Lasmo
proposal to explore in disputed waters as "illegal,"
"unilateral," and "inadmissible," reported "RFE/RL Newsline."
Azerbaijani State Foreign Policy Adviser Vafa Guluzade said
on 18 December, according to Turan, that exploration of these
waters by Iran or companies signing with Iran violates the
boundaries of the Azerbaijani sector.
"Oil and Gas Journal" reported that the State Oil
Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) then announced a
tender for exploration of the D-43, D-44, and D-74 offshore
oil fields, which may be in the disputed area. Azerbaijani
President Heidar Aliev admitted it is not clear whether or
not these fields fall within the area Iran plans to explore.
"Hart's Daily Petroleum Monitor" said the counter-tender went
to SOCAR, Turkey's TPAO, and BP/Statoil. Petrofina and Exxon
may get the shares originally intended for Shell and LASMO.
Aliev was more explicit when he made the threat which
may have dissuaded BP Amoco from participating in the Caspian
exploration project with Iran, Royal Dutch/Shell, and Lasmo.
According to "Oil and Gas Journal," Aliev "reportedly warned
that the signing of the agreement might make it more
difficult for Shell and Lasmo to win contracts in
Azerbaijan." He warned the companies "officially" before they
signed the accord with NIOC, Aliev said, but they ignored
him.
In a related matter, Iranian Vice President Hassan
Habibi, during a meeting with Turkmen Transportation Affairs
Deputy Premier Khudaykuly Khalykov in Tehran, urged a prompt
settlement of Caspian Sea boundary issues, reported IRNA on
24 January. "The longer it takes for the issue to be
settled," warned Habibi, "the higher the chance for
foreigners to intervene in the region." (Bill Samii)

REYSHAHRI: MEHDI HASHEMI GANG BEHIND ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
One of the reasons Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri
urged creation of the Special Court for the Clergy in 1986
was so that Hojatoleslam Mehdi Hashemi could be prosecuted
and eventually executed for fomenting rebellion against the
state (see RFE/RL Iran Report, 11 January 1999). Reyshahri
has just retired from his position as the Special Court's
prosecutor and still has many other professional
responsibilities, but he has not lost his interest in the
long-dead Hashemi.
At the 25 January ceremony introducing Hojatoleslam
Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei as the new prosecutor for the
Special Court for the Clergy, reported "Tehran Times" and
"Iran News," Reyshahri said Mehdi Hashemi's gang was behind
the January attack on Hojatoleslam Ali Razini, head of Tehran
province's Justice Department. The best thing his successor
could do, Reyshahri said, was to prove this, according to
"Kar va Kargar." He admitted, however, that there was no
actual proof yet.
Mohseni-Ejei has the appropriately conservative
background to follow in Reyshahri's footsteps. In September,
Mohseni-Ejei said jailed journalists from the banned "Tous"
newspaper could face the death sentence because they would be
deemed "mohareb," or "at war with God." In July, he sentenced
Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi.
Razini himself is no angel, if an August article in
"Tous" newspaper is to be believed. According to this
article, Central Bank Governor Mohsen Nourbakhsh sent a
letter to President Mohammad Khatami in which he reported
that bank inspectors traced the transfer of approximately
$11.7 million from a Justice Ministry account to Razini's
personal account. The inspectors learned that interest from
those deposits was put into another of Razini's personal
accounts. (Bill Samii)

OIL SMUGGLING UNNECESSARY. Official Iranian organizations,
such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, have long
been active participants in smuggling Iraqi oil through
Iranian waters for off-loading at the United Arab Emirates
for transshipment. (see RFE/RL Iran Report, 21 December
1998). But the managing director of the port and shipping
authority Mokhtar Kalantari, in a 20 January interview with
IRNA, indicated that the smuggling operation will soon be
streamlined physically and bureaucratically. Kalantari said
Iraqi oil can be shipped out via the Iranian port of Bandar
Imam Khomeini. In exchange, Iraq-bound goods had to be
shipped through the Iranian port and then over land. In this
way, Iraq can import 3-5 million tons of goods annually.
(Bill Samii)

RAFSANJANI STILL LOOKING OUT FOR KARBASCHI. Expediency
Council Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has met several
times with Attorney General Ayatollah Morteza Moqtadai to
plead the case of Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi, the
"Tehran Times" reports. Karbaschi was found guilty of,
essentially, corruption, and was sentenced accordingly in
July. He appealed and received a reduced sentence in
December. This sentence is being appealed, too. Hashemi-
Rafsanjani has intervened consistently on Karbaschi's behalf
(see RFE/RL Iran Report, 4 January 1999). (Bill Samii)

THE BASIJ IS POLITICAL. A Basij commander told "Jahan-i
Islam" on 23 January: "Who said the Basij should not
interfere in politics? Mister, we are political. To the same
amount that we are military, we are political, too. The
Basiji has the right to interfere in politics ..." But
Interior Minister Hojatoleslam Musavi-Lari believes
otherwise. "Hamshahri" on 28 January quoted him as saying:
"Statements that some commanders make are bitter for me. ...
if military and security commanders want to interfere in
political and factional matters, they should resign from
their positions." (Bill Samii)

FALSE REPORTS ON MONTAZERI'S FREEDOM. The "Tehran Times" on
28 January said that the restrictions on Ayatollah Hussein
Ali Montazeri have been lifted, as "Asr-i Azadigan" had
reported earlier (see RFE/RL Iran Report, 25 January 1999).
Montazeri's house has been under police guard and
surveillance for a year, and access is limited to only close
cohorts and relatives. In an interview the same day with the
RFE/RL Persian Service, Hojatoleslam Ahmad Montazeri, the
ayatollah's oldest son, said: "The National Security Council
ratified [the decision] two months ago, but it has not been
applied yet." Asked when the ruling would be implemented, he
said: "I don't think they plan on carrying out the decision
very soon."
And the family is particularly angry about several
"Kayhan" articles which accuse Montazeri of having blood on
his hands, say he is gullible, and make allegations about
Mehdi Hashemi's gang being active in the Ayatollah's office.
Ahmad Montazeri said: "This is a groundless slur. Mr. Mehdi
Hashemi himself did not work in the Ayatollah's office even
for one day. So how can the remnants of his group be there?"
(Bill Samii)

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS DETERIORATE INTO FACTIONALISM. The 26
February municipal elections, on which the moderate camp had
pinned a great deal of hope after its poor showing in the
October Assembly of Experts election, may prove to be another
exercise in factional politics.
But government officials are trying to put a positive
face on the course of events. Interior Minister Abdolvahed
Musavi-Lari reported on 20 January that committees approving
candidates for the elections have rejected only 3 percent of
the applicants. And the main reason he gave for the rejection
of candidates was that they held government positions already
and were therefore ineligible. He failed to mention that
Intelligence Ministry officials are exempt from this rule. He
also failed to mention that interest in the election has been
substantially lower than the government had envisioned: far
less than the hoped-for one million have registered, and in
some places no one has registered. Musavi-Lari "expressed
delight" with how well the process is going.
But in three towns near Isfahan, the head of the Central
Election Supervisory Board, Ali Movahedi Savoji, announced ,
there will be no elections due to problems with the selection
bodies, reported the official daily "Iran." In a 26 January
interview with "Abrar," Savoji complained: "The qualification
of 11,000 candidates has been rejected ... without any legal
basis."
Some of the rejected candidates in Tehran are prominent
moderates (by Iranian standards), reported "Salam." These
include former interior minister and "Khordad" publisher
Abdullah Nouri; managing director of "Sobh-i Imruz" and
Khatami adviser Saeed Hajjarian; former hostage-taker and
member of the Office to Foster Unity Ebrahim Asgharzadeh; and
presidential adviser Jamileh Kadivar. "Salam" reported that
women's rights advocate Azam Taleqani and Liberation Movement
of Iran member Abolfazl Bazargan, the son of the late LMI
founder and former Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, were
rejected, too.
According to "Tehran Times" on 28 January, the
candidacies of the presidential advisers were rejected
because they did not resign from their positions early
enough: it must be "at least two months before the
registration date." The boards which determine candidates'
eligibility are believed to be packed with conservative
officials, while the prominent rejected candidates are seen
as moderates, liberals, or Khatami allies.
People in Gilan Province have already decided that the
election will be a factionalized affair. The provincial
deputy governor-general for political affairs, Mohsen
Mohammadi-Moin, said 150 people have withdrawn their
candidacy out of concern about factionalism, reported "Kar va
Kargar" on 28 January. (Bill Samii)

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Copyright (c) 1999. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 1 Feb 1999 to 2 Feb 1999 - Special issue
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