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There are 5 messages totalling 743 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iranian police bust child prostitution ring (2)
2. Khatami Urges Major Reforms in the Judiciary
3. Iran/AP: Iranian journalists banned from speaking to `hostile' radio
4. Iran/RFE/RL IRAN REPORT Vol. 2, No. 26, 28 June 1999


Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 10:34:29 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <Farhad.Abdolian@TELLABS.COM>
Subject: Iranian police bust child prostitution ring

Iranian police bust child prostitution ring
09:36 a.m. Jun 23, 1999 Eastern
TEHRAN, June 23 (Reuters) - Iranian authorities have smashed a child
prostitution ring in Tehran, arresting two people charged with sexually
exploiting homeless children, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Neshat daily, citing the head of a children's rights group, said 10 cases of
child sexual abuse by the ring had so far been uncovered but that the real
number might far exceed that figure.

``While gathering homeless children across the city, we received information
which led to the arrest of two people recently for taking sexual advantage of
children,'' Mostafa Janqoli of Green House, which runs the first private shelter
for homeless children in Tehran, told the moderate newspaper.

``The accused had threatened the children to keep quiet during questioning about
their sexual exploitation,'' he said, adding that the investigation was

Iranian newspapers, enjoying greater freedom under moderate President Mohammad
Khatami, have been covering the once-taboo subject of child abuse.


Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 10:22:40 -0700
From: Arash Alavi <aalavi@US.ORACLE.COM>
Subject: Khatami Urges Major Reforms in the Judiciary

Sunday, June 27, 1999 Published at 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
World: Middle East

Iran's president confronts judges

Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami has called for
judges to respect individuals' human rights and urged major
reforms in the judiciary.

Mr Khatami stressed the need to safeguard the rights of
defendants and to ensure trial by jury.

He said Islamic judges must not use what he called "wrong
methods" to force people to confess - a euphemism for
forced confessions - rather they were obliged to prevent

"We cannot deprive a defendant of his human rights merely
because he is accused and it is not right to treat him in
any manner we may wish," he told a gathering of senior
judicial officials in Teheran.

The judiciary is regarded as a stronghold of right-wing

Independence and juries

President Khatami also stressed the need for independence
of the judiciary, saying judges must use the insight of
Islam to remain immune from any internal or external

The Iranian leader said political crimes and press
violations must be tried in the presence of a jury, so the
rights of individuals and society would not be trampled

Iran's moderate press, which has enjoyed considerable
freedom since President Khatami's election two years ago,
has been coming under increasing pressure from

BBC Middle East Correspondent Jim Muir says President
Khatami's remarks also come against a background of rising
factional tension with the approach of general elections
early next year.

Among those gathered to hear the president was the
ultra-conservative head of the judiciary, Ayatollah
Mohammad Yazdi, who is strongly opposed to the liberal
views of the president.

Ayatollah Yazdi is nearing the end of his term as head of
the judiciary and there is much speculation over who will
replace him.

A favoured candidate, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi, has kept a
low profile in the factional struggle between reformists
and hardliners.


Iran's Khatami demands justice for the press

By Jonathan Lyons

TEHRAN, June 27 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami, keen to protect press freedoms he has fostered as
part of his two-year reform drive, on Sunday demanded cases
involving the media be removed from hardline Revolutionary
Courts and heard before special press juries.

Khatami used a national gathering of judiciary officials,
led by arch-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, to
remind them that the constitution calls for jury trials for
press violations and political crimes. He also said
defendants had a right to legal respresentation at all

``The constitution has pointed out two instances where
there is a need for a jury, that is press violations and
with regard to political crimes, so that the rights of both
society and the individual are not violated,'' Khatami

``Even in national security matters, even then, there is a
need for a press jury.''

His remarks follow a series of high-profile cases in which
pro-reform newspaper publishers and editors have been
called before the Special Revolutionary Courts, or even the
Special Court for Clergy, for alleged press violations.

Both bodies offer fewer protections for defendants than the
general courts and have no provision for jury trials,
prompting fears among the Khatami camp that the moves are
designed to win swift convictions and stiff sentences
against increasingly powerful pro-reform journalists.

The popular liberal daily Zan was closed indefinitely by
the Revolutionary Court after it published a New Year's
greeting from the wife of the former shah and a cartoon
lampooning the unequal legal status of women.

In another landmark case, a reformist cleric was sentenced
to 18 months in prison in part for a series of newspaper
essays challenging the conservatives' views on Islamic

These cases bypassed the Press Court system, where a jury
and media experts would have been involved in the final
verdict, in favour of judges directly controlled by the
hardline judiciary. Efforts by Khatami's minister of
culture to steer such matters to the Press Court have so
far fallen on deaf ears.

In the two years since Khatami's populist electoral
landslide, the domestic press has emerged as the main
battleground between the conservative establishment and the
reform coalition backing the president.

That struggle has now taken on added urgency as both sides
gear up for what many expect to be decisive parliamentary
elections next March. A clear victory for the reformers
would remove one of the biggest obstacles to Khatami's bid
for a civil society within the Islamic system.

With no real political parties and few other grassroots
democratic institutions, Iran's independent press is vital
to the reformers' attempts to publicise their programmes
and candidates. This is all the more the case, given the
conservatives' iron grip on state radio, television and the
public Friday prayers sermons.

Khatami, a mid-ranking Shi'ite Moslem cleric who is
recognised as a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad, told
the judges Islam required them to put broad questions of
justice ahead of factional issues or even the rights of the

``The difference between the judicial system in Islam and
that of other countries is that the Islamic judicial system
defends legal rights, whereas in other countries it is
defending the accused,'' he said. ``Islam is safeguarding
rights. Islam is the guarantor of justice.''

04:56 06-27-99


Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 15:33:03 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@TELLABS.COM>
Subject: Iranian police bust child prostitution ring

09:36 a.m. Jun 23, 1999 Eastern
TEHRAN, June 23 (Reuters) - Iranian authorities have smashed a child
prostitution ring in Tehran, arresting two people charged with sexually
exploiting homeless children, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Neshat daily, citing the head of a children's rights group, said 10
cases of child sexual abuse by the ring had so far been uncovered but
that the real number might far exceed that figure.

``While gathering homeless children across the city, we received
information which led to the arrest of two people recently for taking
sexual advantage of children,'' Mostafa Janqoli of Green House, which
runs the first private shelter for homeless children in Tehran, told the
moderate newspaper.

``The accused had threatened the children to keep quiet during
questioning about their sexual exploitation,'' he said, adding that the
investigation was continuing.

Iranian newspapers, enjoying greater freedom under moderate President
Mohammad Khatami, have been covering the once-taboo subject of child


Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 19:20:49 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/AP: Iranian journalists banned from speaking to `hostile' radio

Iranian journalists banned from speaking to `hostile' radio

June 27, 1999
Web posted at: 7:33 PM EDT (2333 GMT)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Senior Iranian journalists have been
banned from speaking to foreign radio stations deemed hostile to Iran, the
Tehran Times reported Sunday.

It said that a committee of the Majlis, or Parliament, last week "banned any
interview by the managing directors of the print media with radios which are
hostile to Iran."

The ban refers mainly to Radio Free Europe and Israel's state-run radio
station, the newspaper said.

Both stations often seek current-events commentary from Iranian journalists
on their Farsi-language broadcasts. Criticism of Iran's ruling clerical
establishment has grown among intellectuals amid an intensifying power
struggle between reformists and hard-liners in the government.

"The committee said that interviews of the managing directors with such
radios are not in the national interests," the English-language newspaper

Reformists in Iran's Islamic government have been trying to grant more media
freedoms, while their hard-line rivals have tried to curb what newspapers
are allowed to write.

The Majlis was expected to begin debate this week on a proposal to restrict
press freedoms.


Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 19:27:44 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/RFE/RL IRAN REPORT Vol. 2, No. 26, 28 June 1999

Vol. 2, No. 26, 28 June 1999

A Review of Developments in Iran Prepared by the Regional
Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team.

While the international media covers the case of 13 Jews
accused of espionage as an episode of religious persecution,
coverage in Iran is more varied. There are unofficial
statements of an unlikely and conspiratorial nature, there
are official statements that try to downplay the case's
significance, and there are very rare voices of caution.
Meanwhile, some Western states are trying to exert influence
to secure the Jews' release.
"Arya" reported on 20 May that one of the 13 was a
Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics employee. He
allegedly reported to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence
service, on defense industries and airports. There were also
attempts to insinuate a linkage with Ministry of Intelligence
and Security official Said Emami, who had just killed
himself. The 21 June "Tehran Times" editorialized that Emami
was "born into a family of Jewish descent. He went to the
United States and established links with the Jewish Agency."
The next day the daily said Emami was linked with Israel
because his uncle was a military official before the 1979
revolution. "You know that the military personnel during the
Shah's regime had definitely a direct or indirect link with
the United States and Israel," it added.
Official sources deal with the issue in a
straightforward manner, although the charges against the
suspects have not been specified. When the arrests were first
publicized, Iranian state radio on 7 June quoted an "informed
official" as saying that after "interrogation and documented
evidence, the detainees are being prosecuted." Fars Province
Justice Ministry official Mohammad Karami said: "The case of
the Israeli spies is being heard at the Islamic Revolution
court of Shiraz." He went on to say that "the case will be
heard in accordance with religious and legal standards and
away from any hullabaloo and scandal-mongering," according to
"Keyhan" on 22 June,
Some of the more restrained commentary has come from
Tehran University's Professor Sadeq Zibakalam, although he
sees the issue in terms of Iranian factionalism. He wrote in
"Neshat": "The conservatives do not deal with the case of the
Jewish people arrested in Shiraz in an impartial manner. At
this stage, the detained Jews are only accused and not proven
offenders. However, some conservative elements think the
Jews' offense has been proven and they are looking for ways
to punish them."
Western attempts to exert influence in the case
continue. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine described
his government's actions at a 22 June press conference. He
said: "The Iranian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign
Ministry and we told him very clearly and very firmly of our
disapproval and condemnation of these accusations and of the
way in which they were announced. We are also consulting with
our European partners in order to give as much weight as
possible to this approach."
The U.S is pressuring the World Bank to kill efforts to
renew Iranian eligibility for development loans. "Tehran
Times" said on 15 June that there was a direct connection
between this and the arrest of the 13 Jews. Anonymous sources
quoted in the "Washington Post" on 23 June were reluctant to
make a direct connection, although one conceded that the
arrest "weighs on taking such a decision." The issue was
discussed at the EU-U.S. Summit in Bonn, too. According to
the 21 June "Senior Level Group Report to the EU-U.S.
Summit": "We agreed that the arrest of 13 members of the
Jewish community in Iran is unacceptable and agreed to act
In a "New York Post" editorial on 23 June, U.S. Senator
Charles Schumer also discussed the case. Schumer wrote that
because he has a popular mandate from 70 percent of the
population, Khatami should be able to do more than mouth
platitudes. But Khatami will not act unless his inaction
engenders a response. Japan should freeze its Iranian loans,
Schumer urged, while Syria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia should
press Khatami for the Jews' release. If the Jews are
executed, Iran should know that it "means no loans, no trade,
and no international respect."
A resolution was introduced in the U.S. Senate
expressing "the sense of the Congress regarding the treatment
of the religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran,
and particularly the recent arrests of members of that
country's Jewish community." The resolution, sponsored by
Schumer and cosponsored by 20 of his Senate colleagues, calls
for the U.S. to continue working through the UN to ensure
that Iran moderates its policies on religious minorities
until those groups are "completely emancipated." It asks all
countries that have relations with Iran to condemn the
treatment of religious minorities there. And it urges the
U.S. to condemn the treatment of the Jewish minority and to
maintain its current policies until Iran "moderates its
treatment of religious minorities." Schumer's resolution was
passed by a voice vote. (Bill Samii)

Although focused on prisoners, Iranian print media's
main concern is not the case of the arrested Jews. The
primary point of interest has been the alleged suicide of
Said Emami (whose "nom de renseignements" was Islami), one of
the Ministry of Intelligence and Security employees arrested
in connection with the murder of dissident politicians and
writers last autumn and winter.
On 20 May, Hojatoleslam Mohammad Niazi, head of the
Armed Forces Judicial Organization, announced that Mostafa
Kazemi, Mehrdad Alikhani, Khosrow Barati, and Said Emami were
the main culprits in the murder cases. Unfortunately, Niazi
said, Emami had just died from swallowing a hair-removal
concoction, but not before giving all the information at his
disposal. As a result, the authorities knew that "one of the
aims and motives of the main agents was to cause problems and
generate crises." Niazi said that 23 suspects had been
prosecuted and another three arrested, adding that the case
"definitely had an extra-territorial dimension." Islamic
Guidance and Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani also
stressed foreign involvement, according to "Iran News" on 23
When asked why Emami killed himself, Niazi said he did
so to avoid a certain death sentence. He also said the MOIS
had formed a task force to investigate the suicide further.
But in an article in "Sobh-i Imruz" on 21 June, a former
prisoner said he was held in solitary confinement and knew
suicide was impossible. Those subject to such confinement can
bathe only five minutes a week under observation, and a guard
visits the cell every half hour.
Niazi corroborated the former convict's comments. He
said a guard was watching Emami, even in the bathroom. But
when the guard turned away to give Emami some privacy, Emami
"took advantage of the guard's decency and drank the stuff."
The "stuff," according to Dr. Pezhumand, who attended to
Emami, was a cleansing agent containing arsenic and lime. Dr.
Tofiqi, the head coroner, confirmed that death was due to
arsenic poisoning.
Subsequently, newspapers described Emami's background
and connections, believing this would explain his actions. As
noted above, the 21 June "Tehran Times" editorialized that
Emami was of Jewish descent and had a relationship with the
Jewish Agency in the U.S. On 22 June it said Emami was linked
with Israel because his uncle was a military official before
the 1979 revolution. Knowing this family background, then
MOIS official Said Hajjarian (now a Tehran City Council
member) tried to block Emami's employment. "Salam" reported
that after returning to Iran, Emami sought intelligence-
related work, and despite advice to the contrary,
Intelligence Minister Ali Akbar Fallahian-Khuzestani gave him
a sensitive job. President Mohammad Khatami wanted to fire
Emami but could not, according to "Salam."
Commentary on the death ranged from regretful to
hopeful. The death "deprived Iran of invaluable information,"
"Tehran Times" said on 21 June, and it asked "Who is
responsible for this great loss?" "Salam" said that Emami
killed himself to protect those who have not been arrested
yet. "Khordad" regretted that the identity of key figures may
never be revealed. "Emami's death was a step forward in a
case which was being forgotten," "Neshat" suggested on 21
June, and the revelations about all the other suspects will
cause a shock. "Jomhuri-yi Islami" urged the authorities to
"provide timely and clear explanations" to end all the
speculation. "Keyhan" went further on 24 June, explaining
that Emami's gang, which was affiliated with foreigners,
intended to sow discord and that "psychological and
propaganda warfare" will now follow. This was Emami's
intention, it argued, so expressions of mistrust from the
press should be investigated by the security authorities.
A 22 June article in the Kuwaiti daily "al-Watan" offers
an alternative explanation for Emami's suspicious death. It
said Emami was killed because he knew too much. Quoting
anonymous sources close to Khatami, the article claimed that
Emami masterminded the killings of dissidents on the basis of
religious edicts issued by a cabal that included Fallahian
and three religious scholars. Agents of Fallahian and the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps went to the prison and
forced Emami to drink the poison that killed him. Journalist
and former hostage-taker Abbas Abdi said Fallahian should be
questioned about the whole affair, "Khordad" reported in 23
That Emami would have had an opportunity to "reveal all"
is doubtful. But now that he is dead, he has provided the
authorities with a convenient scapegoat for a number of
events. It is increasingly likely, furthermore, that the
complete story on the series of murders will never be known.
(Bill Samii)

Despite the safe return on 20 June of three Italian
engineers kidnapped a week earlier near Bam in southeastern
Iran, few people, other than the Italians themselves, seem
truly satisfied.
Although the Law Enforcement Forces are claiming credit
for resolving the kidnapping, the incident demonstrates their
inefficiency. It also highlights, or at least exaggerates,
the sense of insecurity some Iranians might feel. Other
incidents, such as the murders of dissident politicians and
writers last winter, violent incidents in February as the
country celebrated the Islamic Revolution's twentieth
anniversary, the February murder of a German businessman, and
the April murder of Lieutenant-General Sayyed Shirazi,
further undermine people's sense of security.
According to the Italian Embassy in Tehran on 16 June,
five Italians were stopped at gunpoint near Bam, but only
three of them were abducted. At that point, little else was
known, although the Iranian authorities said they assumed the
gunmen were bandits or smugglers, for which Sistan va
Baluchistan Province is infamous. The next day, "Iran" quoted
Kerman's deputy governor-general as saying the kidnappings
were meant to undo the good relations created by President
Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami when he visited Italy in March.
The provincial official speculated that the kidnappers may
have been associated with the Forqan or Taliban groups, but
he forgot to mention other possible scapegoats, like the
Mehdi Hashemi gang or Mahdaviyat group.
Suddenly, on 20 June, the Italians' release was
announced. Interior Ministry spokesman Bahaodin
Sheikholeslami told the Islamic Republic News Agency that the
release followed negotiations with the kidnappers. Minister
of Intelligence and Security Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi told
state television on 21 June that Sistan va Baluchistan MOIS
personnel freed the hostages by using "important intelligence
instruments and they did so without paying any ransom or
causing any damage." An unnamed MOIS official told IRNA the
incident was a "plot hatched by enemies of the Islamic
Revolution to misportray [sic] the Islamic Republic as an
unstable country."
There was little satisfaction with the official
explanations. The conservative dailies "Qods" and "Jahan-i
Islam" said the Italians were kidnapped by local bandit
Shahbakhsh. One of the victims, Lorenzo Termite, asked the
captors why they had been kidnapped and was told "it was
simply for an exchange and that one of the members of their
group, Reza, had an uncle and a brother in the southern
Iranian prison of Shiraz," AFP reported. Different government
agencies explained the incident differently, causing further
press dissatisfaction concerning such details as how the
captors were armed, did they shoot any warning shots, where
were the Italians and what were they actually doing, and so
In any case, "Qods" wrote, the "capture and release of
the three Italians demonstrated well that the governmental
information agency in our country operates very weakly and it
loses the populace in the back alleys of information, leading
to their distrust." (Bill Samii)

On 20 March, the Israeli daily "Ha'aretz" reported that
President Mohammad Khatami is pursuing a dialogue with
Israel. Iranian newspapers promptly rejected the report as an
outright lie. Several theories have emerged to explain the
According to "Ha'aretz", Khatami asked the British
government to serve as an intermediary in opening a "secret
dialogue" with Israel. Khatami allegedly proposed several
arms control treaties as initial confidence-building
measures. Those accords would include a regional no-first-
strike agreement and a bilateral agreement not to arm long-
range missiles with non-conventional warheads. This was of
major interest to Iran because it suffered both chemical and
biological attacks in its war with Iraq. The Iranians went on
to tell the British that their arms build-up was directed
against Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, rather than Israel.
There are three possible explanations behind the
"Ha'aretz" report: it is meant to discredit Khatami; it is
timed to secure the arrested Jews' release; or it is good
journalism. On 21 March, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Hamid Reza Assefi dismissed the "'baseless' disinformation
campaign by the Zionist propaganda machine." Assefi said it
was part of an attempt to "mar the image of the Islamic
Republic" and to discredit Khatami's efforts in regional and
international forums. An anonymous Iranian diplomat told
London's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" that the Israeli report is
"merely idle talk," and he backed up his argument by saying
that Iranian maps "do not carry the name Israel, but rather
Palestine." The hard-line "Keyhan" newspaper said: "This
baseless claim is made while the president has, time and
again, laid emphasis on the illegitimate and terrorist nature
of the Zionist regime." "Kayhan International" on 23 June
editorialized: "Laced with poison, the Zionist article has
wantonly dragged in 'anonymous' British officials so as to
sow discord between Tehran and London over their newly
established ties at the highest diplomatic levels."
Coming at a time when Israel is trying to secure the
release of 13 Jews arrested on espionage charges, the
revelations in "Ha'aretz" seem strangely timed. Stratfor, a
U.S.-based think-tank, speculates that the revelation was a
hint that, if the arrested Jews are not released, Israel will
reveal information about the Iranians it has dealt with for
the last 20 years. This might include revelations about which
members of the ruling elite were actually paid SAVAK agents
before the revolution. Or it could be that the "Ha'aretz"
report is genuine, and the Iranian opening resulted from the
belief that recently elected Israeli Premier Ehud Barak might
be friendlier toward Iran than his predecessor, Binyamin
Netanyahu. Khatami, however, does not have the authority to
make proposals in the defense arena without Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's approval, which seems very unlikely
in this case. (Bill Samii)

A mid-June meeting in Ashgabat to discuss the Trans-
Caspian Pipeline (TCP) has received condemnation from the
Iranian state media, which is actively promoting a pipeline
across its own territory as the most economically feasible
and environmentally safe route. This may, however, clash with
Russian promotion of a Black Sea route. Meanwhile, Iran has
other interests in Turkmenistan's petrochemical sector.
Turkmenistan's February announcement that it had signed
a deal with U.S. companies General Electric and Bechtel Group
to lay a 1,250 mile gas pipeline across the Caspian seabed
was denounced by Iran as a violation of previous agreements
and a threat to the environment (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 1
March 1999). These charges were renewed in mid-June, when
Edward Smith, president of PSG, which includes Bechtel and
General Electric, was in Ashgabat to meet with President
Saparmurat Niyazov. Smith said PSG is seeking partners for
the 50 percent of the project which it does not own. He is
confident that funding from U.S. financial institutions, such
as the Export-Import Bank, will be forthcoming. Smith said:
"We expect that actual construction will start early in 2000
and be completed in 2002," Reuters reported on 17 June.
Iran is trying to discredit the TCP. Iranian state
radio, broadcasting in Turkmen from Gorgan on 16 June,
claimed: "According to official Turkmen sources, this $4.2
billion project may be dangerous for the environment. ...That
is why the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia oppose such
projects." The broadcast then claimed that a feasibility
study by Royal Dutch Shell shows that a pipeline from
Turkmenistan to Turkey through Iran would not pose a threat
to the environment and would be cheaper. Furthermore, gas
going through the TCP will earn less money for Turkmenistan.
"The only operating route," concluded the broadcast, "is for
a pipeline carrying Turkmen gas to go through the Islamic
Republic of Iran."
But Russia may not agree with this conclusion. Russia's
condemnation of TCP is connected with its promotion of
Gazprom's Blue Stream pipeline, which will pass under the
Black Sea. According to the "Petroleum Economist" on 21
April, Blue Stream is at the top of Gazprom's investment
agenda. Blue Stream will be the deepest pipeline ever, being
laid at depths of up to 3,000 meters in places. And Russia is
shedding the proverbial "crocodile tears" over the potential
environmental danger of TCP. Just as earthquakes may threaten
TCP, "Petroleum Economist" reports, "hydrogen sulfide
seepages in the Black Sea will pose a risk to Blue Stream."
Some of Iran's other interests in Turkmenistan look
doubtful. According to 15 June reports in the "Financial
Times" and Islamic Republic News Agency, Dragon Oil, which
transports Turkmen oil to the Caspian port of Neka and picks
up Iranian oil at a Persian Gulf port, announced losses
equivalent to about half its market capitalization. The
Dublin-based firm wrote off $46.1 million on its Asian assets
because of uncertainty over finding a market for Turkmen gas.
And last April, an Iranian drilling rig operating in Petronas
Carigali's Caspian concession broke two of its three
foundation anchors, leading to a suspension of operations
pending repairs.
On the other hand, Turkmenistan President Niyazov said
on 22 June, that "compared to last year, Iranian technology
prevails in all branches of economy of Turkmenistan,"
according to Azer-Press. He went on to describe his country's
need for Iranian assistance and technology in the oil, gas,
and machine-building sectors. Underlining this is the
construction by Iran's Ramshir company of a gas purification
plant in the Korepje field of western Turkmenistan. (Bill

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati heads the headquarters for
relief aid to Kosovar Muslims. During the Friday Prayers
sermon of 18 June, Jannati discussed the subject. He said:
"God knows what has happened in Kosova. In fact, I neither
want to talk about it, nor would I be able to explain them
[sic], nor would I like to talk about some of the issues
concerning Kosova. All that can be just mentioned here are
issues regarding the mass graves, the refugees, the killings,
and setting on fire [of buildings]. While the Muslims are
faced with difficulties some people have peace of mind and
can sleep well. I do not know how God will deal with them and
what sort of sufferings are awaiting them."
But in previous sermons, Jannati seemed to have figured
it all out. On 14 May, he said "NATO is bombing Serbia for
private reasons," according to the Islamic Republic News
Agency. In the 16 April sermon, Jannati said: "In the name of
defending these people, the wicked Americans are making the
situation even worse. Some of the refugees are killed in the
bombardments and missile attacks. The Americans are working
toward their own objectives. They want to strengthen their
position in the Balkans." He explained further: "America is
seriously following a policy of carrot and stick. It is
planning to devour the world. It is moving toward that
objective step by step." (Bill Samii)

Flights between Tehran and Oslo, which were announced in
May (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 7 June 1999), commenced on 20
June, the Islamic Republic News Agency announced. According
to Iran Air's Information Dissemination Department, the
opening of this route can be explained by the reduction of
passenger loads on the flights to Gothenburg, Stockholm, and
Copenhagen, IRNA reported on 15 June. Also, the regular
weekly flight to Germany has been suspended because of
financial problems, "Tehran Times" reported on 10 June.
Iran Air's deputy commercial director Ahmad Sanei said
flights to Jiddah were canceled "after Saudi authorities
refused to grant the airline permission to fly to the
country," IRNA reported on 9 June. Regular commercial flights
had resumed last September after many years. Possibly in a
related development, IRNA reported that flights to Beirut
will start soon.
In spite of these occasional problems, Deputy Road and
Transport Minister Behzad Mazaheri, who heads Iran's Civil
Aviation Organization, signed a protocol for cooperation with
a French airports company for personnel training and
equipment overhaul and maintenance, IRNA reported on 16 June.
Also, a factory in Isfahan began assembling civilian and
military versions of Antonov-140 transport aircraft with
components from Ukraine. Ukraine and Iran recently concluded
negotiations on construction of an aviation plant in Iran,
Kiev's Intelnews announced in March. The contract was signed
in May, according to "Inzhenernaya Gazeta." (Bill Samii)

CLARIFICATION: Some "RFE/RL Iran Report" readers in Iran
report that the English-language daily "Tehran Times" is not
published by a body affiliated with the Islamic Guidance and
Culture Ministry, as asserted by us previously. They say the
daily is published by the Islamic Propagation Office, a
conservative body headed by Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi-
Araqi. (Bill Samii)

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

The RFE/RL Iran Report is a weekly prepared by A. William
Samii on the basis of materials from RFE/RL broadcast
services, RFE/RL Newsline, and other news services. Direct
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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 26 Jun 1999 to 28 Jun 1999