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There are 19 messages totalling 869 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. FWD: Israelis kill 3 Kurds storming Berlin mission
2. Unrest in northeast Iranian city
3. Kurds hold anti-Turkish demonstration in northern Iranian town
4. US looking at new Iranian oil deal with eye toward sanctions
5. Iran condemns Berlin killing of Kurd demonstrators
6. Consortium signs Iran oil deal
7. Iran determined to run nuclear plant
8. Khamenei accuses US of hatching economic plots against Iran
9. Barbie struts into an Islamic stronghold
10. Drug use on the rise among young Iranians: report
11. Turkey must make concessions on Kurds: Iran
12. Iranian president says nuclear plant will create 3,500 jobs
13. People's Mujahedeen reject accusations of former Guards chief
14. New Iranian intelligence chief faces vote of confidence
15. Iran announces start to municipal election campaign
16. Campaigning to start for first municipal elections in Iran
17. Slander trial opens for former Iranian minister
18. Anglo-Canadian consortium in 200 million dollar Iran oil deal
19. Iran criticizes Iraqi threats to neighbors

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 09:41:26 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: FWD: Israelis kill 3 Kurds storming Berlin mission

(I know it is off-topic to this list, but I thought it is important for the
area we live in. /Farhad)

FOCUS-Israelis kill 3 Kurds storming Berlin mission

By Deborah Cole

BERLIN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Israeli guards shot dead three Kurds and wounded
16 who stormed the Israeli consulate in Berlin on Wednesday to protest
against the capture of Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Witnesses said protesters, some carrying clubs but not guns, broke into the
consulate and briefly held a woman employee.

An 11-year-old boy was among the wounded, Kurdish witnesses said.

The deaths were the first in a wave of protests sweeping Europe since
Tuesday after the fugitive Ocalan was spirited from Kenya to Turkey. Israel
has denied media reports its Mossad intelligence service helped Turkey, one
of its few allies in the the Moslem world, with the capture.

Germany intensified security after the shooting and Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder threatened Kurds with deportation if they broke the law.

``We were in there, we wanted to have dialogue with these people but they
fired at us immediately,'' said one protester who had been inside.

``About 55 Kurds tried to enter the building, which led to a clash. Several
shots were fired,'' said Berlin police spokesman Norbert Gunckel.

Only two German police were on duty outside the consulate when the protest
began, he said.

He said two Kurds died on the spot and one in hospital.

``We can expect that more will die,'' he said of the wounded.

``The Kurds tried to break in, and the Israelis started shooting back,''
said Marc Schrader, aged 15, who witnessed the shootings in Berlin's
snow-covered southwestern suburbs.

Police said the Kurds had taken a consulate worker hostage for a few
minutes before the shooting erupted. The worker was released unharmed.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli security guards
had fired in self-defence.

``Our people have standing orders to prevent, with force if necessary
including by opening fire -- any attempt to take hostages and to defend
themselves,'' Netanyahu told a news conference in Tel Aviv.

Around 200 Kurds armed with wooden planks tried to attack police guarding
the building and break through at 2:00 p.m. (1300 GMT), witness Lukas
Billinski said.

Billinski, 14, said he heard around nine shots from inside the consulate
building at first, then a further five shortly afterwards.

Ambulance crews carried out wounded Kurds on stretchers who flashed the
V-for-victory sign. Witnesses said the dead were still inside the consulate
grounds.

After the violence in Berlin, Israel shut its diplomatic missions in Europe
for the day on Wednesday as a security precaution, an Israeli official in
Jerusalem said.

The Kurds were believed to be supporters of Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK).

Schroeder said Germany would not tolerate political violence on its streets.

``If those living here do not respect the law they will have to leave the
country,'' Schroeder told reporters.

He was speaking after Kurds in Hamburg stormed the office of his Social
Democratic party (SPD) on Wednesday and took a party worker hostage.

Kurdish protesters also attempted to storm SPD headquarters in Cologne but
were held back by police.

Germany is home to 500,000 Kurds and more than two million Turks, the
largest such populations in Europe. More than 2,000 Kurds clashed with
police and stormed diplomatic missions briefly taking hostages on Tuesday.

Schroeder decided against executing a long-standing German arrest warrant
for Ocalan last November when the rebel leader was in Rome to avoid tension
at home.

A spokesman for the Federation of Kurdish Associations in Germany said
Kurds would continue their protests undeterred.

12:07 02-17-99

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:01 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Unrest in northeast Iranian city

TEHRAN, Feb 18 (AFP) - Riot police have clashed with groups of
youths in Jajarm in northeastern Iran over a decision to merge the
town with another nearby locality, newspapers here reported
Thursday.
The Tehran press reports, which were confirmed by a number of
residents of Jajarm, said there had been "isolated clashes" in
neighborhoods in the town of some 15,000 people over the past two
days.
According to the papers, a number of public buildings and banks
were sacked in Jajarm, located in the Bojnurd region of Khorasan
province.
The unrest follows a decision by the interior ministry to
amalgamate Jajarm with a smaller town, Garmeh, located some nine
kilometers (five miles) to the west, said a teacher in Jajarm who
did not want to be identified.
"The town is in a state of siege," the teacher said. "The
anti-riot forces are everywhere and the bazaar and schools are
closed."
The teacher said that "all of the 33 candidates in the town for
the (February 26) municipal elections have resigned to protest the
interior ministry's decision" to form a single municipal council for
Jajarm and Garmeh.
The unrest is the first reported ahead of the February 26
municipal council elections, the first in Iran since the 1979
Islamic revolution.
Some 300,000 candidates, including 5,000 women, are running for
some 200,000 muncipal council seats across the country.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:06 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Kurds hold anti-Turkish demonstration in northern Iranian town

TEHRAN, Feb 18 (AFP) - Iranian Kurds demonstrated on Wednesday
outside the Turkish consulate in the northwestern town of Orumiyeh
to protest against the arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah
Ocalan, the daily Jomhuri-Eslami reported Thursday.
The Kurdish students chanted slogans against the United States,
Israel, Greece and Turkey, the paper said, saying they were
expressing anger against the "Israeli-Turkish plan" that led to
Ocalan's capture in Kenya on Monday.
Iranian state radio said on Wednesday that the Turkish
government should now "make some concessions" to settle the Kurdish
issue, warning that if it did not, "Europe could intervene."
In the past Ankara has accused Iran of closing its eyes to the
use of its territory by Turkish Kurd rebels to infiltrate into
Turkey, charges Iran denies.
In October Iran acted as a mediator in the crisis between Turkey
and Syria, when Ankara threatened Damascus with military action if
it did not give up its support for Ocalan and his Kurdistan Workers'
Party.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:14 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: US looking at new Iranian oil deal with eye toward sanctions

WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (AFP) - The United States is looking at a
multi-millon dollar oil exploration deal signed between Iran and an
Anglo-Canadian group with an eye toward imposing sanctions on the
companies, the State Department said Wednesday.
Spokesman James Foley said that while he was not aware of the
deal, any agreement that violated the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act
(ILSA) was subject to that law.
"We will certainly apply the law," Foley said. " We'll apply the
ILSA law in this case and any other similar case, but I have not
been made aware of the report."
Foley was responding to a question about a 200-million-dollar
oil exploration deal signed Tuesday between Iran, the Canadian firm
Bow Valley and Britain's Premier Oil.
ILSA, enacted as a punishment for Iran and Libya's alleged
sponsorship of global terrorism, threatens reprisals against any
company investing more than 20 million dollars in those countries'
oil sectors.
Andrew Shisko, senior trade commissioner at the Canadian embassy
in Tehran, told the Iranian News Agency the deal for the Balal field
in the Gulf was approved two weeks ago at an economy council meeting
chaired by President Mohammad Khatami.
Balal, situated southwest of the Iranian island of Lavan, has
reserves of 80 million barrels and is expected to produce between
35,000 and 40,000 barrels a day, the agency IRNA said.
Under the two-year "buy-back" agreement, Bow and Premier will be
reimbursed for investment costs with a share of the production, it
said.
The second largest oil producer within OPEC, Iran depends on oil
for more than 80 percent of its hard currency revenues and has been
hard hit by the plunge in crude prices.
Last year it put around 30 oil and gas projects in the Gulf and
Caspian Sea regions up for international tender on a "buy-back
basis."
French energy group Total, in partnership with Russia's Gazprom
and Petronas of Malaysia, was the first to challenge the US law when
it signed a two billion dollar deal in 1997 to develop Iran's giant
South Pars field in Gulf waters.
In the face of strong international pressure, Washington finally
granted the project an exemption.
Two years earlier Total signed a contract to develop the Sirri
oilfields, also in the Gulf.
In December, Tehran reached a 19.8 million dollar deal with
Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell and British company Lasmo to
explore for oil in the Caspian Sea.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:20 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran condemns Berlin killing of Kurd demonstrators

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Iran condemned Wednesday the fatal
shooting by security guards at the Israeli consulate in Berlin
earlier, of three Kurds protesting a supposed Israeli role in the
capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid-Reza Assefi, quoted by
the official IRNA news agency, said the killings were
"unjustifiable".
According to Berlin police, three Kurdish demonstrators were
killed and 16 were injured, one critically, when the Israeli guards
opened fire on protesters outside the consulate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Wednesday
that Israeli secret agents played no part in the capture of Ocalan
who was seized Monday in Kenya in an undercover operation and taken
beck to Turkey.
On Wednesday, the Iranian official radio said the Turkish
government had to "make concessions" on the Kurdish question after
Ocalan's capture..
"Turkey must now make concessions... to settle the Kurdish
problem otherwise Europe may intervene in it," the radio said.
Ankara has in the past accused Iran of "turning a blind eye" to
infiltrations by guerrillas of Ocalana's Kurdistan Workers' Party
(PKK) from Iranian territory into eastern Turkey.
Iran offered to mediate in the crisis which blew up in October
last year between Turkey and Syria after Ankara accused the Syrian
authorities of supporting the PKK and threatened Syria with
reprisals.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:44 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Consortium signs Iran oil deal

TEHRAN, Iran, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Iran has signed a $200-million buy-back
contract with a Canadian-British consortium to develop an Iranian oil
field in the Persian Gulf.
Andrew Shisko, senior trade commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in
Tehran, said Canada's Valley Bow and the British Premier Oil signed the
two-year contract Tuesday for developing the Balal oil field, southwest
of Lavan Island.
Shisko expressed satisfaction that the Iranian government has
endorsed the deal.
The Balal oil field, which has an estimated oil reserve of 80 million
barrels, was expected to reach a production of 35,000 to 40,000 barrels
a day after its development.
Meanwhile, Canada's deputy minister of industry said Canadian oil
companies are willing to contribute to oil and gas projects in Iran and
have now delegates in Tehran to discuss deals.
The Valley Bow-Premier contract comes at the same time a Canadian
economic delegation, including representatives from 32 companies,
started an official visit to Iran to explore business opportunities.
Canada's move to cooperate with Iran comes despite the U.S. D'Amato
Law which provides for punishing oil firms that conclude oil deals
exceeding $20 million with Iran.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:50 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran determined to run nuclear plant

TEHRAN, Iran, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says
his country is determined to operate its nuclear power plant to boost
Iran's economic development.
Speaking during a rally in the city of Bushehr in southern Iran,
Khatami said, ``We are determined to transform the Bushehr nuclear plant
into a lightening spot in the Iranian economy.''
He said soon Iran will depend on nuclear power ``to achieve
development and progress in various fields.''
He said the plant is expected to create 3,500 new jobs.
Work on the nuclear plant began in 1975, but construction stopped
after the revolution in 1979. Khatami said the lack of progress at the
plant has slowed development in the region.
The Bushehr nuclear plant is still not in operation, paralyzed by
Iran's economic problems and Russia's failure to help operate it.
The United States has accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear
weapons and has imposed economic sanctions on three Russian companies
who the United States accused of exporting nuclear and missile
technology to Iran.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:01 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Khamenei accuses US of hatching economic plots against Iran

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei accused the United States on Wednesday of hatching economic
plots against the Islamic republic.
"Pressures on our economy and obstacles in the way of government
efforts to solve the population's daily problems are among the
economic conspiracies of the United States, the Great Satan, and
other enemies of Islam," Khamenei said, according to state radio.
"On the one hand they do all they can to hurt the Iranian
economy and on the other, through propaganda and by employing their
domestic agents, they intend to weaken people's beliefs and their
faith in the revolution," he said in a speech to organisers of the
Hajj or pilgrimage to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.
The United States broke off ties with Iran in 1980 after Islamic
students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and held staff hostage for
over a year, but it has recently made overtures towards improving
relations.
Nevertheless it maintains a unilateral economic embargo first
imposed on Iran in 1995, accusing the Islamic republic of sponsoring
international terrorism.
The following year it introduced the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act
which threatens reprisals against any company investing more than 20
million dollars in those countries' oil sectors.
Iran's economy, which relies on oil for more than 80 percent of
its hard currency, has been hard hit by the slump in crude prices
and the government is attempting to open up the energy industry to
foreign investment.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:27 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Barbie struts into an Islamic stronghold

To many hard-line clerics in Iran, the most insidious cultural
threat to the values of the Islamic revolution comes in a hot pink box
and sits on toyshop shelves.
Barbie, with her curvaceous body, miniskirts, and platinum-blond
hair, hardly represents the Islamic image of women fostered in Iran.
Here, women must cover their hair in public. Lipstick is a sign of
defiance.
But the American icon - which is one of the most sought-after toys
worldwide - is a big hit with Iranian girls. Despite Iran officially
being a closed society, Barbie is sold on the open market. It's led
some to say that Barbie is heading up an unwanted ``cultural
invasion'' from the West that has also brought hamburgers and
Hollywood.
Iranian officials raced to turn out an acceptable, Islamic answer
to Barbie in time for the 20th anniversary of the revolution, which
was Feb. 11. But the production date for Sara and her brother Dara has
been set back to spring for lack of ``suitable hair.''
``About Barbie, we not only think it is not good for our children
here, we think it is not suitable for American children,'' says Majid
Qaderi, a director at the Institute of Children and Young Adults
Development Center in Tehran, which has designed the new dolls.
But Barbie nevertheless is being groomed for abroad. Jill Barad,
the chief executive of Mattel Inc., which is based in El Segundo,
Calif., and makes Barbie, has made a major push to expand into global
markets.
In Mr. Qaderi's view, Barbie dolls ``only teach consumerism'' and
cause children to grow up too fast. ``Bad influences'' include
profligate dress, makeup, and an example of ``unlimited freedom of
relationships ... between boys and girls.''
``Barbie is a symbol of American culture,'' says Qaderi. ``The
first thing we can do is teach our children about who they are [as
Iranians], about their own culture.... We have to act in a way that
the kids themselves reject the bad part [of Western culture] and
absorb the good part.''
'Westernization' of Iran
Barbie dolls are not the only American influence on the lives of
Iranians, who had a long experience with Western culture prior to the
1979 revolution. That watershed event was in part a violent reaction
to the extensive ``Westernization'' of Iranian society by Shah
Muhammad Reza Pahlavi.
The result was a theocratic Islamic regime that sought to restrict
outside influence on Iranians. Now, Western movies and music are
prohibited.
But many Iranians had seen the blockbuster film ``Titanic'' within
a week of its release in the United States last year - often watching
bootleg videotapes that had been shot with a hand-held camcorder in a
movie theater. Western music is another hot commodity: Sometimes
smugglers hide as many as 30 CDs under their clothing. And the
popularity of hamburgers, pizza, and imitation Nike shoes means that
countering this ``invasion'' has been difficult.
For children, the American influence is quite apparent: Barbie
dolls, which cost $25 to $30 each, share shelf space with videos and
toys that range from Batman and Power Rangers to Snow White and
Pocahontas.
``So much of the discussion of a 'cultural invasion' is useless,
with the expansion of global communications, satellite TV, the
Internet, and so much information,'' says Bobak, a toyshop owner in
downtown Tehran.
``If we really care about this 'cultural invasion,' we should be
strong enough to influence our own culture, instead of being afraid of
[Western] influence on us,'' he says.
The Iranian Sara and Dara dolls are meant to do just that, Qaderi
says. They have an ``eastern look'' with brown hair and brown eyes,
and Sara wears a removable head covering called a ``hijab'' that shows
only the face.
Though in Iran these are almost always worn in dark colors, Sara
will have several bright choices. She will have a handful of costumes
of different ethnic groups in Iran, and - in a compromise that mirrors
her American counterpart - she will come with a comb.
There will also be Sara-Dara computer games, musical tapes, and a
storybook. ``Children really don't care much [whether they play with
an Islamic doll],'' says Qaderi. ``They don't make as big an issue out
of it as we adults are making.''
But at an international trade fair in Tehran last fall, children
lined up to learn about the new dolls.
Interest was high, officials and toyshop owners say, because any
new toy on the market is met with excitement, and because children are
more familiar with the hijab-clad Sara in their daily lives than with
the partygoing Western Barbie.
Still, ``The walls are crumbling down. It's been a gradual
erosion,'' says a Western diplomat in Tehran. Some three years ago,
Iranian girls wore pictures of Mickey Mouse on their dark gowns during
an official march. ``You have a more educated population here than
neighboring countries, which increases the appetite for world
culture.''
Finding good in Western culture
Despite warnings from Iranian extremists about the myriad plots
hatched by the ``Great Satan'' - as some here still call the US - the
moderate President Mohamad Khatami has made clear that Iran can learn
from and find good in Western civilization, in concert with the depth
of its own 2,500-year history.
Differentiating between good and bad aspects of Western culture may
be the key to harnessing the taste for it, instead of a total
rejection of anything Western, some Iranians say.
``A 'cultural invasion' may come, but it comes divided into both
good and bad,'' says a young office worker in Tehran. ``Technical
expertise and research are an invasion? If so, why not have that? Bad
things might come, but in your culture movies are not [necessarily] a
bad thing. They are used to inform your people.''
Qaderi recognizes that no amount of effort can shut off Western
cultural influence in Iran. The key is to provide young Iranians with
the foundation to judge for themselves.
``The children of the world all belong to one nation, but the
authorities in each country are responsible for those in their own
society,'' he says. ``Indeed, we were scared about [the 'cultural
invasion'],'' but now he concludes that ``we don't need to be that
fearful because we have the capability of confronting it.''

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:43:56 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Drug use on the rise among young Iranians: report

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Drug use in Iran is on the rise,
particularly among students despite government crackdowns, a
newspaper here reported Wednesday.
"There are currently more than three million drug users in Iran,
including 260,000 young students," conservative newspaper Resalat
said, citing a government official.
Around half of Iran's 60 million population is under the age of
25.
Resalat noted that drug seizures had also risen over the past
few years, without giving any further details.
Iran is a transit country for drugs shipped from Afghanistan and
Pakistan to Europe and the Middle East and about 200 tonnes were
seized by Iranian authorities last year.
Tehran adopted a tough anti-drug law in 1989 providing for the
death penalty for anyone found with more than 30 grams (just over
one ounce) of heroin or more than five kilos (11 pounds) of opium.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:07 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Turkey must make concessions on Kurds: Iran

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Iranian state radio said Wednesday that
Turkey must make some concessions to solve the Kurdish problem
following the capture of rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.
"Turkey must make some concessions in its constitution to
resolve the Kurdish situation. If it fails to, Europe could become
involved" to settle the matter, it said.
The report said armed confrontations between the Turkish army
and rebels from Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were on the
wane.
"From now on the question of Turkey's Kurds will be a political
matter and less of a military one," it said.
Ankara has frequently accused Iran of "closing its eyes" to PKK
infiltrations into Turkey launched from Iranian territory -- a
charge Tehran has vehemently denied.
Tehran acted as a mediator last October when Turkey threatened
military action against Syria -- Iran's closest Middle East ally --
charging Damascus with harbouring the then fugitive Ocalan and
providing PKK figthers with military bases.
Turkey captured Ocalan, 49, in Kenya. He now faces trial in
connection with the PKK's 15-year-old armed rebellion for Kurdish
autonomy in southeast Anatolia. Ankara says the conflict has claimed
more than 30,000 lives.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:14 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian president says nuclear plant will create 3,500 jobs

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammed Khatami vowed
Wednesday to press ahead with the controversial Bushehr nuclear
power plant, saying it would provide thousands of jobs and show the
world Iran's technical capabilities.
"We have decided to make the Bushehr plant a brilliant star in
our economy and if God wills it the plant will create 3,500 jobs,"
Khatami said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.
He said that when the facility begins operation, "the people of
Iran will show they are capable of making progress in all domains."
The Bushehr plant -- which will provide some 1,000 megawatts of
electricity after completion of the first phase -- is being built by
Russian engineers and both Tehran and Moscow insist it is solely for
civil purposes and conforms to international laws and nuclear
non-proliferation accords.
Under a cooperation accord it signed with Iran in 1995, Russia
agreed to build two pressurised water reactors at Bushehr. Under a
new accord signed last November, Moscow agreed to speed up
completion of the plants.
The project was originally started in the 1970s by the KWU
nuclear subsidiary of giant German combine Siemens but they withdrew
under pressure from Bonn following the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Washington is strongly opposed to Moscow's technologicial
collaboration with Tehran, charging that it has resulted in the
transfer of nuclear and missile technology.
But Tehran has pressed ahead with the project and advertisements
in the Tehran press last month from the Iranian Atomic Energy
Organization said a total of 225 engineers were needed with
expertise in the fields of nuclear physics, physics, mechanical
engineering and computer science.
The adverts said that the applicants must be Iranian nationals
and that the successful candidates will be sent to Russia for
training after a short period of preparation in Iran.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:27 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: People's Mujahedeen reject accusations of former Guards chief

NICOSIA, Feb 17 (AFP) - The People's Mujahedeen, the main armed
Iranian opposition group, rejected on Wednesday claims by a former
commander of the Revolutionary Guards that the rebels were involved
in the recent murders of dissidents in the Islamic republic.
The People's Mujahedeen, in a statement received here, described
the charges by General Mohsen Rezai as "utterly false" and
"transparent lies designed to put a lid on the political scandals
plaguing the regime one after the other..."
Rezai, at a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday, accused
Israel and the People's Mujahedeen of involvement in the murders of
dissidents and writers and an attack on a bus carrying American
tourists in Tehran in November.
"Mossad and the People's Mujahedeen are collaborating in a bid
to torpedo the political opening" of the Islamic Republic, Rezai
said.
"They were behind all of the assassinations and murders as well
as the attack against a bus carrying American tourists in Tehran,"
he said.
The People's Mujahedeen noted, however, that the intelligence
ministry had already accepted responsiblity for the murders of
dissidents and said those who attacked the bus had already been
tried and sentenced.
"Obviously, in the last phase of their rule, the mullahs have
resorted to such contradictory remarks to cover up the extent of
their atrocities, new aspects of which surface everyday," the
People's Mujahedeen added.
Nationalist dissident Daryush Foruhar and his wife, Parvaneh,
were murdered at their Tehran home in November.
Writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Pouyandeh were also
assassinated late last year in a series of murders which Iranian
authorities have acknowledged were carried out by "rogue"
intelligence ministry agents.
Conservative Iranian leaders have charged that the killings were
instigated from abroad while reformers have said they were carried
out by hardline Islamic militants backed by the conservatives.
Intelligence minister Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi resigned
because of the affair this month and his successor, Ali Yunesi, was
presented to parliament on Wednesday for a vote of confidence.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:33 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: New Iranian intelligence chief faces vote of confidence

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - The new head of Iran's scandal-tainted
intelligence ministry was presented to parliament Wednesday for a
vote of confidence, the official news agency IRNA reported.
Ali Yunesi was tapped to take over as head of the powerful
ministry from Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, who resigned this month
following the revelation that "rogue" intelligence agents had been
involved in the murders of several dissidents and writers last
year.
President Mohammed Khatami presented the politically
conservative cleric to parliament Wednesday and a vote is scheduled
to take place next week, IRNA said.
Yunesi, 43, had been at the helm of a special committee of
inquiry into the dissidents' murders and has wide experience in the
Islamic regime. He has served as a public prosecutor in Tehran and
as head of the military's judicial division.
In 1978, Yunesi was arrested and tortured by agents of the
former shah, IRNA said, after having worked earlier with Palestinian
and Lebanese guerrillas.
The intelligence ministry has been the focus of a political
crisis here after it announced last month that a number of its
agents had been arrested for involvement in the murders of several
prominent dissidents and writers.
Conservatives in the regime have insisted that the killings were
the work of foreign agitators, while reformists have accused Islamic
fundamentalists -- backed by conservatives -- of being behind the
murders.
On Tuesday a former commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards
accused Israel of involvement.
"The Israeli secret services were behind the recent murders and
political assassinations in Iran as well as an attack in November
against a group of American tourists," General Mohsen Rezai said.
"They want to tarnish the image of the regime and show that our
reformist president Mohammad Khatami is incapable of controlling the
situation," he told reporters.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:40 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran announces start to municipal election campaign

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - The campaign for next week's municipal
elections, the first in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is
to begin on Thursday, the interior ministry announced on Wednesday.
Candidates across the country will be authorized to begin
campaigning for the February 26 vote as of Thursday, the ministry
said.
More than 300,000 candidates, including more than 5,000 women,
are to take part in the race for 200,000 municipal council seats,
although the final list of candidates approved by a selection
committee has yet to be released.
The list, which has been anticipated for a week, is to be
finalized and displayed in the precincts on Thursday.
Its release has been delayed by controversy over the elimination
of some candidates close to reformist President Mohammad Khatami,
who won a landslide victory in May 1997 presidential polls.
The interior ministry plans to open some 60,000 polling stations
and voting cards will be distributed for the first time ever.
The landmark vote is considered the Islamic regime's first great
test in local democracy.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:20 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Campaigning to start for first municipal elections in Iran

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Candidates can begin campaigning Thursday
for next week's municipal elections, the first in Iran since the
1979 Islamic revolution and a vital test for democratic reforms, the
interior ministry said Wednesday.
Some 300,000 candidates, including more than 5,000 women, will
vie for 200,000 municipal council seats in the February 26 polls
which have been the focus of bitter factional rivalry between
reformers and hardline conservatives.
The final list of candidates approved by the government's
selection committee, anticipated for a week, is due to be displayed
in precints Thursday following controversy over the banning of some
candidates close to reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
The disqualification of moderate and left-wing candidates has
sparked a war of words between Khatami supporters and his
conservative opponents.
"It's a kind of inquisition and we condemn it. President Khatami
should intervene," Ibrahim Yazdi, head of the banned but tolerated
opposition Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI), said Saturday.
Khatami should "respect his electoral commitments and support a
true people's participation in power," said the FMI chief, whose
candidates have been barred from next week's polls.
Vice President Hassan Habibi, who sits on the candidate
selection committee, said earlier this month that "members of
illegal organisations and parties cannot run for election."
The showdown between reformers and conservatives will play
itself out most fiercely in the big cities, particularly Tehran,
where the two factions are battling over 15 seats on the municipal
council.
On Wednesday conservatives put up posters across the capital
saying that "the city's development can be guaranteed by specialists
working for the people."
Nationwide, conservative candidates have been culled from those
deemed most faithful to the Islamic regime and the principle --
written into the constitution -- that Iran is led ultimately by its
spiritual leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Reformers are meanwhile pledging "real participation in power"
as the election promises to be a crucial test of the new political
openness at the top of Khatami's agenda since his 1997 election with
a landslide majority.
One sign of that openness is the vote itself. Municipal
elections are also written into the constitution, adopted in 1980,
but next week's vote will be the first of its kind since the 1979
overthrow of the shah.
The interior ministry plans to open some 60,000 polling stations
-- supervision of most of which will be in conservative hands -- and
voting cards will be distributed for the first time ever.
Khatami supporters recently announced the formation of two
leading parties for the polling, the Islamic Iran Participation
Front and the Islamic Labour Party.
Others close to former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani have
grouped themselves as the Reconstruction Party.
The backbone of the conservative movement meanwhile is the
Association of Combattant Clergy, the oldest religious and politcal
organisation in the nation and one with close links to the
influential theological schools in the holy city of Qom.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:54 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Slander trial opens for former Iranian minister

TEHRAN, Feb 16 (AFP) - The trial for defamation of a minister in
Iran's first post-revolutionary government opened in Tehran on
Tuesday, but neither he nor his defence team were present, his wife
told AFP.
Abbas Amir-Entezam, regarded as a liberal, was detained in
September after making critical statements about the former head of
the Evin prison near Tehran, Assadollah Ladjevardi, who was
assassinated in August.
Amir-Entezam has already served a 17-year sentence for spying, a
charge he always denied, and is considered the country's
longest-serving political prisoner. He had enjoyed only a brief
spell of freedom before his re-arrest.
"We don't know when the verdict will be delivered, or even if
there will be one," his wife Elaheh said.
A number of human rights organisations have expressed their
support for Amir-Entezam, and last year he was awarded the Austrian
Bruno Kreisky prize for human rights.
Amir-Entezam was a deputy prime minister and government
spokesman in the provisional government headed by Mehdi Bazargan
after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:45:00 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Anglo-Canadian consortium in 200 million dollar Iran oil deal

TEHRAN, Feb 16 (AFP) - An Anglo-Canadian group signed a
200-million-dollar deal with Iran on Tuesday to develop a Gulf
oilfield, despite a US law aimed at blocking investment in the
Islamic republic's energy industry.
The two-year deal with Canadian firm Bow Valley and Britain's
Premier Oil announced by the official IRNA news agency is valued
well above the threshold set by the so-called D'Amato law that came
into force in 1996.
The United States, which accuses Iran of sponsoring global
terrorism, imposed a unilateral economic embargo in 1995 and its
Iran-Libya Sanctions Act threatens reprisals against any company
investing more than 20 million dollars in those countries' oil
sectors.
Andrew Shisko, senior trade commissioner at the Canadian embassy
in Tehran, told IRNA the deal for the Balal field in the Gulf was
approved two weeks ago at an economy council meeting chaired by
President Mohammad Khatami.
Under the two-year "buy-back" agreement, Bow and Premier will be
reimbursed for investment costs with a share of the production, IRNA
said.
Balal, situated southwest of the Iranian island of Lavan, has
reserves of 80 million barrels and is expected to produce between
35,000 and 40,000 barrels a day, the agency said.
A large economic delegation from Canada, with representatives
from about 30 mostly energy companies, is currently in Tehran.
Iran embarked on a programme three years ago to open its
nationalised energy sector to foreign companies and last year
Khatami called for greater efforts to modernize the industry and
discover new fields.
The second largest oil producer within OPEC, Iran depends on oil
for more than 80 percent of its hard currency revenues and has been
hard hit by the plunge in crude prices.
Last year it put around 30 oil and gas projects in the Gulf and
Caspian Sea regions up for international tender on a "buy-back
basis."
French energy group Total, in partnership with Russia's Gazprom
and Petronas of Malaysia, was the first to challenge the US law when
it signed a two billion dollar deal in 1997 to develop Iran's giant
South Pars field in Gulf waters.
But in the face of strong international pressure, Washington
finally granted the project an exemption.
Two years earlier Total signed a contract to develop the Sirri
oilfields, also in the Gulf.
In December, Tehran reached a 19.8 million dollar deal with
Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell and British company Lasmo to
explore for oil in the Caspian Sea -- in the face of US efforts to
block Iranian involvement in the inland sea's vast energy
resources.
Shell also said on Tuesday it was "exploring and developing
mutual interests and a solid ground for cooperation in the (Iranian)
petrochemicals sector."
"The petrochemical industry has top priority in the Iranian
government's five-year economic development plan," said George
Lefroy, vice president for Asia, Pacific and the Middle East.

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

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:46 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran criticizes Iraqi threats to neighbors

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Iran on Wednesday criticized Iraqi
threats to its neighbors and said it opposed any moves which create
"tension and crisis" in the region.
"Iran is against creation of tension and crisis in the region
and has always opposed any threat against its neighboring states,"
the official IRNA news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman
Hamid Reza Asefi as saying.
IRNA said Asefi made the statement in response to a question
about Iraqi threats against Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for
allowing US and British warplanes to use air bases on their
territory to patrol "no-fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq.

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

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Feb 1999 to 18 Feb 1999
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