Date: Oct 1, 1998 [ 0: 0: 1]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 29 Sep 1998 to 30 Sep 1998

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There are 18 messages totalling 1006 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. =?iso-8859-1?Q?ABCNEWS:_Iran=92s_Charm_Offensive_?=
2. FWD:AI/Six Journalists/Amir Ent
3. change of email
4. Iran parliament authorizes private bank in first since revolution
5. Iran threatens violent reprisal if Israel attacks Syria
6. Iran parliament speaker to visit Italy, Spain
7. Moderate Iranian magazine banned for "insulting" Khomeini
8. Iran says Rushdie fatwa "irrevocable"
9. Israel increasingly nervous over Iranian ballistic missiles
10. Israeli army chief says preemptive strike on Iranian nukes possible
11. Former French president's remarks on Khomeini lead to ban on Iran daily
12. EU says it is satisfied with Iran's "clarifications" on Rushdie
13. Iranian automakers to merge
14. Nearly 150 candidates approved for Assembly of Experts election
15. US urges Iran to take faster action
16. Iran Split Over How to Punish Afghans
17. Albright urges "patience" in reaching out to Iran
18. Iraqi trade minister arrives in Iran

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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 11:50:10 +0200
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: =?iso-8859-1?Q?ABCNEWS:_Iran=92s_Charm_Offensive_?=

It’s Tough to Bury the Hatchet in a Minefield
Iran’s Charm Offensive

By Terence Nelan
ABCNEWS.com
Sept. 25 —For decades, Iran has been a center of anti-Western—and
especially anti-U.S.—hatred. Is that about to change?
Now, Iran has backed away from its reward for the death of author
Salman Rushdie, plans to exchange ambassadors with Britain and has the
world press glowingly referring to President Mohammad Khatami as “Iran’s
moderate leader.”
British Foreign Minister Robin Cook stood up in the United Nations on
Thursday and said London sought to support modernizing elements in Iran and
“make sure that these first signs of glasnost are rewarded and encouraged.”
British oil companies are already rubbing their hands with glee at the
thought of Iran’s underexploited petroleum reserves.

Western Vision Clouded?
Western desire to see a more friendly, open Iran may be clouding its
vision. Khatami may in fact be as moderate as advertised: a former
journalist with an admiration for de Tocqueville and a burning desire to
soften Iran’s hard-line regime.
But he has to contend with a hard-line military and religious
establishment led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei controls the
conservative clergy, the judiciary, the Parliament and the basij—Iran’s
religious police—staunch opponents of change who wield considerable
influence.
“This situation has prevailed since the beginning of the Iran-Iraq
War,” says Stephen Pelletiere, an expert on security studies at the Army
War College.
“We think we are dealing with a moderate wing of the Iranian government,
and then the hard-liners cut the ground out from under them. The pattern
has been repeating for years.”

The Knives Are Out There is some evidence that a political conflict has
already begun. Last week,Khatami’s political opponents shut down Tous, a
newspaper widely considered one of the president’s successes in his
campaign for greater freedom.
The paper, which boasted a readership of 300,000, enraged Khamenei and
his ilk with stories on political dissent, relations with the United States
and its questioning of possible Iranian intervention in Afghanistan.
In June, Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi was found guilty of
corruption and sentenced to five years in prison, 60 lashes and a fine, as
well as barred from public office for 20 years. He is expected to appeal,
but if the sentence stands, Khatami will be deprived of one of his main
political allies and the man who managed his campaign for the presidency.

Khatami to Press On “This is standard practice for the Iranians,” says
Pelletiere. “They single out someone connected to their political enemies
and go after them in the courts.”
This hasn’t stopped Iran’s plucky president, though.
“Khatami will push forward with his reforms,’ says Shireen Hunter,
director of Islamic Studies at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies. “But he has to be careful that his efforts to reform the system do
not
lead to open conflict with the hard-liners or the disintegration that
accompanied reform in the Soviet Union.”
Khatami has powerful enemies, but he also has a great deal of political
support behind him—Iranians who believe in change but don’t think moderate
means “pushover.”

Still Sniping at Uncle Sam
So, while Khatami is forging marginally closer ties with Britain, he continues
to snipe at the United States. Just days ago he criticized the United States
for its freeze on Iranian funds.
And in a CNN interview last January, he denounced the United States’
“flawed policy of domination” and claimed some U.S. foreign policy
decisions on
the Mideast were made in Israel.
But if the United States wants the rapprochement with Iran that
Britain seems intent on, it may have to be willing to go more than halfway.

Will Iran Disavow Hezbollah?
“The United States could recognize reforms in Iran, and bolster Khatami’s
position and ease sanctions,” says Hunter. “Every incremental step could
lead to a state where proper diplomatic relations would resume.”
Hunter has a warning, too: “The worse the economy gets, the more the
radicals can blame on the United States. By the same token, Khatami’s
position might weaken if things get too bad.”
But with Iran unwilling to back away from its support for Islamic
fundamentalist groups like Hezbollah, the United States probably won’t be
willing to open its arms quite that much. <Picture>


Iran's Powerful Arsenal In the last few years, the Iranians have stocked up
on weapons from Russia, China and North Korea: everything from Russian
submarines to Chinese anti-ship missiles. Those anti-ship weapons can
destroy any of the shipping—including oil tankers—passing through the
Strait of Hormuz.
Jane’s Defense Weekly reports that Iran continues to try to acquire
highly enriched uranium for its nuclear weapons program, and has bought 22
tons of Russian steel suitable for missile construction. At the end of
June, Iran tested its Shahab-3 missile, a clone of a North Korean design
with an 800-mile range—enough to hit Israel. Today, it paraded the missile
for the world to see. “We’ve also long been concerned about what we
believe is Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program,” Martin S. Indyk,
assistant secretary of
state for Near Eastern affairs, told reporters. “We see them seeking to
acquire technologies for that program that are quite disturbing.”
The Iranians, by contrast, find the arms buildup taking place on their
borders even more disturbing.
“All Iran’s neighbors are arming themselves to teeth,” says Shireen
Hunter, an expert on Iran. “Pakistan has developed Ghauri missiles, and
detonated a nuclear warhead. Iran is just strengthening its defensive
position.”

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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 07:01:28 EDT
From: KPGBT@AOL.COM
Subject: FWD:AI/Six Journalists/Amir Ent

***************************************************************************
Subject: Iran: Amnesty International concerned by arrest of journalists
andformer priso
Date: 98-09-27 18:53:45 EDT
From: hbzadeh@btinternet.com
Reply-to: ihrwg-d@Tehran.Stanford.EDU


* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International *
AI INDEX: MDE 13/16/98
News Service: 186/98

Iran: Amnesty International concerned by arrest of journalists and former
prisoner of
conscience

The arrest of six journalists and a prominent critic of the government in
the Islamic Republic of
Iran is yet another alarming sign of the increasing attacks on press
freedom in recent weeks,
Amnesty International said today.

The human rights organization is alarmed by recent reports that four
employees of the Iranian
daily newspaper Tous were arrested between the 16 and 20 September 1998.
Mashallah
Shamsolva'ezin, Hamid Reza Jalaipour, Mohammad Javadi Hessar and Ibrahim
Nabavi were
reportedly detained following the publication of an article questioning the
policies of the Iranian
government in Afghanistan and condemning the recent military build-up on
Iran's eastern
borders.

Even more alarming are reports that some of those arrested may be
charged with the offence
of moharebe ba khoda ('enmity with God') which normally carries the death
penalty.

On 22 September 1998 Amnesty International received reports that two
officials at the
official Iranian news agency IRNA had been arrested and detained in Evin
prison after a five
hour interrogation. Mohammad Reza Sadeq, the deputy director of IRNA, and
'Ali Reza
Khosravi, the editor-in-chief of the organisation's social department, were
reportedly arrested
following complaints made by Mohsen Rafiqdoost, the director of Bonyad-e
Mostazefan va
Janbazan (Foundation for the Disinherited and War Disabled).

Mohammad Reza Sadeq and 'Ali Reza Khosravi were reportedly released
on 23 September
1998, after Mohsen Rafiqdoost dropped the charges against them and
following protests by staff
at IRNA.

Amnesty International is also concerned by the rearrest of 'Abbas
Amir Entezam on 8
September 1998. A former government minister, he was arrested in 1979 on
espionage charges
and suffered torture and ill-treatment whilst imprisoned. He was
transferred from prison to secure
accommodation in 1995 due to ill health and was finally released from house
arrest in 1997.

'Abbas Amir Entezam was reportedly rearrested following a radio
interview in which he
criticised the record of Assadollah Lajevardi, the retired former Director
of Evin prison,
assassinated by the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) on 23
August 1998. 'Abbas
Amir Entezam is reportedly being held in Evin prison, although the exact
nature of the charges
brought against him, if any, remains unclear.

"We believe that all of those currently detained may be prisoners of
conscience, who have not
used or advocated violence and are held purely for political reasons. If
this is the case they should
be released immediately and unconditional," Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International calls upon the Iranian authorities to provide
full details of the charges
against those arrested, and to allow any court proceedings to be
scrutinized by independent
bodies. The authorities should also ensure that any trials meet the minimum
standards for fair
trail laid down in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, to which
Iran is a state party.

Amnesty International also reminds the government of the Islamic
Republic of Iran of its
commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particular Article
19, which states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression."

Background

The daily newspaper Tous began publication earlier this year,
following the banning of the
journal Jameah and maintained the editorial team of its predecessor. Tous
was banned and its
offices raided by members of the Revolutionary Guard on 16 September 1998,
following calls
by members of the Iranian leadership for tighter controls over the press.
The ban was reportedly
imposed by an Islamic revolutionary court for "activities against national
security and interests
and opposition to the sacred government system of the Islamic Republic".

Attacks on the freedom of the press have gathered momentum in recent
weeks, following a
relaxation of press restrictions in the aftermath of President Mohammad
Khatami's election in
May 1997. Ayatollah 'Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Republic, was
reported recently to
have called for action against publications which he said were "abusing
freedom of speech to
weaken the people's Islamic beliefs".

In addition to Tous, a number of other publications, including Iran-e
Farda, Rah-e Now
and Taban, have reportedly been banned recently.

...ENDS/


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 14:37:54 +0100
From: Asghar Abdi <asghar@BTINTERNET.COM>
Subject: change of email


change of email

Please change my email from asghar@btinternet.com to A.Abdi@btinternet.com

asghar

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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:14:58 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran parliament authorizes private bank in first since revolution

TEHRAN, Sept 27 (AFP) - The Iranian parliament passed a law on
Sunday authorizing the creation of a private bank for the first time
since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran's cooperatives ministry had requested authorization for a
"cooperative bank," which will be launched with private investment
and will not be subject to the same regulations as state banks.
The parliament is expected to work out the details of the
regulations for the private bank.
Iran already has a half a dozen banks, all of which were
nationalized after the revolution.
Speaking to the assembly, Cooperatives Minister Morteza Haji
defended the idea of setting up the cooperative bank, saying it
could better absorb private capital and activate the cooperative
sector in Iran.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:15:20 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran threatens violent reprisal if Israel attacks Syria

DUBAI, Sept 27 (AFP) - Iran's Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani on
Sunday threatened violent reprisals if Israel attacks Syria, in an
interview with the United Arab Emirates' Al-Ittihad daily.
"If there is an Israeli attack against Syria, we will reply in a
way which the Israelis cannot imagine," the minister said.
"Syria is a friend and our relations with it are strategic. We
will not accept any threats against our brother country and will
reply violently to any attacks on this country," he said.
The minister also threatened reprisals if Israel attacks Iran's
new nuclear installation in Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, "or any
other Iranian installation."
In July, Shamkhani threatened reprisals for any Israeli "attack"
on Iran's nuclear installations.
Iran officially owns five small nuclear reactors used for
scientific research in Tehran and Isfahan. But it denies having a
military nuclear programme.
Earlier this month, Israel said it believed Iran was embarked on
a programme of military nuclearisation.
But Iran has said its July test-firing of a new medium-range
missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads was purely for defence
purposes and did not threaten other countries.
According to US and Israeli experts, the Shihab-3 has a range of
1,300 kilometers (780 miles) and is capable of reaching Israel,
Turkey and Saudi Arabia with conventional or non-conventional
warheads.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that
Israel will not sit back with its "arms crossed" in the face of the
threat of ballistic missiles developed by Iran.
"We will not sit back with our arms crossed in the face of the
very serious strategic threat which Iranian missiles pose not only
to Israel, but also Europe and, in the future, the west coast of the
United States," Netanayhu told Israeli radio from New York.
Israel is currently developing with the United States the
Arrow-2 anti-missile missile, designed to shoot down incoming
missiles.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:15:42 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran parliament speaker to visit Italy, Spain

TEHRAN, Sept 27 (AFP) - Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar
Nateq-Nuri is to pay visits to Italy and Spain next week amid
improving ties between the Islamic republic and the European Union,
a newspaper reported Sunday.
Nateq-Nuri, the leader of the conservative faction in Iran, is
to start his six-day journey on October 3.
He will seek to boost bilateral parliamentary relations.
Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said Thursday that
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Foreign Minister Kamal
Kharazi were due to make separate visits to Italy in the coming
months.
Both Dini and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi have traveled
to Iran in the past months.
Italy's minister for external commerce Augusto Fantozzi is also
to visit on October 4.
Two Italian banks have extended credit lines of one billion
dollars and 1.2 billion dollars to Iran.
Kharazi paid a visit to Spain in June after the EU decided to
resume dialogue with Iran, which was suspended after the Tehran
regime was implicated by a German court in April 1997 for the 1992
murder of dissidents in Berlin.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:13:58 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Moderate Iranian magazine banned for "insulting" Khomeini

TEHRAN, Sept 29 (AFP) - An Iranian monthly magazine has been
banned for insulting the late founder of the Islamic Republic,
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the official IRNA news agency reported
Tuesday.
A Tehran court on Monday revoked the publishing license of the
magazine "Jameh Salem" (Healthy Society) and sentenced the
editor-in-chief, Siavosh Gouran, to a one-year jail term and a fine
of three million rials (1,000 USD).
However, the jail term was suspended for five years when Gouran
explained that the article was published without his knowledge due
to his "poor eyesight."
The closure of the magazine came amid a crackdown on
publications supportive of Iran's moderate president, Mohammad
Khatami. They have been accused of being un-Islamic and
pro-Western.
In mid-September, the daily Toos, which had gained popularity
among the young and intellectuals, was shut down by the security
forces and its editorial staff arrested.
IRNA reported Monday that the daily was shut down because of an
interview with former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing in
which he claimed Khomeini had sought and been granted political
asylum when he went to France before the Islamic Revolution in
1978.

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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:16:02 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran says Rushdie fatwa "irrevocable"


TEHRAN, Sept 27 (AFP) - Iran's foreign ministry on Sunday
reiterated that the "fatwa" or religious decree condemning British
author Salman Rushdie to death for blasphemy was "irrevocable."
"The irrevocability of the late Imam Khomeini's fatwa is a
fact," the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted foreign ministry
spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi as saying.
The foreign ministry spokesman also said it was "surprising"
that Rushdie, condemned to death by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, still continues making what he called "offensive
remarks."
"Such offensive remarks would certainly result in further
indignation among the Moslem community," IRNA quoted the spokesman
as saying.
Khomeini declared the fatwa in 1989, alleging that the author
had blasphemed Islam in his novel "The Satanic Verses."
The decree has bedevilled Anglo-Iranian relations for nearly a
decade as Iran refused to revoke the sentence as demanded by
Britain.
But on Tursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi bluntly
stated that Iran had no intention to carry out the verdict against
the author.
Kharazi after talks with his British counterpart Robin Cook on
the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York also said the
Iranian government did not endorse a multi-million-dollar reward
placed on Rushdie's head by a religious foundation here.
The announcement immediately led to a decision by the two
countries to exchange ambassadors, for the first time since 1989.
But Mohammadi, who newspapers reported Saturday has been named
Iran's new ambassador to Britain, implicitly denied that the
improvement in relations had anything to do with Rushdie.
"The improvement in Anglo-Iranian relations should be analysed
within the framwork of international developments and the new
understanding the world community has reached on the realities in
the Islamic republic," he said.
In an further warming of relations between Iran and other
European states, the Islamic republic named its new ambassadors to
Spain and France on Sunday.
Hassan Shafti, formerly managing director at Iran Air, which
resumed its weekly flight from Tehran to Madrid last July after an
eight-year break due to economic reasons, will take up the post of
ambassador in Madrid, IRNA said.
Ali-Reza Moayeri, a close adviser to Khatami, will become
ambassador in Paris, IRNA said. Moayeri previously worked as an
adviser to both Prime Minister Hossein Moussavi and former president
Akbar Rafsanjani and was charge d'affaires in France for several
months in 1985.
Meanwhile Jomhuri Islami, a hardline newspaper, criticized
Kharazi for his comments on Rushdie, saying he had made a "political
error."
"Whatever he says, nothing will change for Rushdie. His optimism
and that of his supporters may even pave the way for an speedier
execution of the sentence against him," it warned.
The paper also insisted that the bounty on Rushdie's head "will
remain valid as long as the fatwa does."
"It is evident that any promises made to the contrary are a
personal opinion with no link with the Islamic regime," it added.

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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:16:18 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Israel increasingly nervous over Iranian ballistic missiles

JERUSALEM, Sept 27 (AFP) - Israel expressed its concern on
Sunday over Iran's development of ballistic missiles with one MP
even suggesting the launching of a preventative strike against the
Islamic Republic.
"We will not sit back with our arms crossed in the face of the
very serious strategic threat which Iranian missiles pose to
Israel," warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu.
"We will devote some important budgetary means to improving our
defence and deterrence capabilities," Netanayahu told Israeli radio
in an interview from New York, emphasising that Israel has
"exceptional technology."
Israeli television broadcast on Saturday pictures of a military
parade in Iran which displayed, for the first time, Shahab-3
missiles, whose 1,300-kilometer (780-mile) range includes Israeli
territory.
The missiles, and photographs of them, made front page news in
Israel's daily newspapers on Sunday.
Labour MP Ephraim Sneh, a member of the powerful parliamentary
military industry lobby, called for a "conventional Israeli
preventative strike against Iran before it develops atomic missiles
or bombs."
Sneh, a general in Israel's reserve forces, quoted Israeli
intelligence officials as saying Tehran will have a nuclear
capability in three to six years.
But Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai distanced himself from
the MP's remarks. "I have no intention of launching into bellicose
statements about the Iranian threat which are both unhelpful and
harmful," he said.
"It's pointless launching into a verbal escalation -- we are
capable of defending ourselves and the Iranians know perfectly well
what out deterrent capability is," he said.
Key Iranian ally, Syria, dismissed the Israeli focus on Iran as
an attempt to distract attention from its own nuclear arsenal and
its obstruction of the Middle East peace process.
"Israel is launching an anti-Iranian campaign in order to raise
tension in the Middle East and to distract attention from Israeli
policy which is defying the will of the international community and
all its resolutions," said a commentary carried by the official news
agency SANA.
"These Israeli press campaigns are aimed at further inciting
Israelis against the Arab nation and Islamic countries," the
commentary said.
"But they ignore the fact that Israel has a nuclear arsenal
which threatens the security and stability of all countries in the
region," it said.
To counter the threat of ballistic missiles, Israel is currently
developing with the United States the Arrow-2 anti-missile missile,
designed to shoot down incoming missiles.
The missile, which could be operational by 2000, was tested
successfully on September 14.
Israeli television announced on Friday that the first Israeli
F-15I fighter planes, delivered by the United States at the start of
1998 and capable of attacking Iran or Iraq, are now operational.
Each plane, with a range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles), is
able to carry 11 tonnes of bombs and missiles and is equipped with
state-of-the-art hardware.
The British weekly magazine specialising in defence matters,
Jane's, said that Israel and the United States were developing a
pilot-less reconnaisance plane capable of bombing missile launchers
or radar stations.
As for Iran, Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani confirmed on
Saturday that Iran will continue its missile programme in line with
its defence requirements.
"Of course we'll follow this programme and we'll have Shahab-4
and Shahab-5 (missiles) to respond to our defence requirements,"
Shamkhani said in Tehran.
In an interview on Sunday with a daily newspaper in the United
Arab Emirates, he threatened Israel with retaliation if it attacked
nuclear facilities or "any other vital installation in Iran."
Israel and Iran were allies during the Shah's regime but
relations between the two countries deteriorated after the 1979
Islamic revolution, and Israel now considers Iran its principal
enemy.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:16:33 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Israeli army chief says preemptive strike on Iranian nukes possible

JERUSALEM, Sept 28 (AFP) - Israel traded new threats with Iran
Monday as army chief Shaul Mofaz warned of a possible preemptive
strike to keep Tehran from developing nuclear arms.
"The Israeli army must be ready to launch a preventive strike if
this becomes necessary," General Mofaz said in a radio interview,
adding fuel to a heated debate in Israel over Iran's weapons
development programs.
"The preemptive strike has always been part of Israel's
strategic options," added Mofaz.
"The arming of an extremist country like Iran with long-range
missiles capable of carrying non-conventional weapons could in the
long-term represent an existential threat for Israel," he said.
Mofaz's statement came after Iranian Defense Minister Ali
Shamkhani warned in an interview Sunday that Iran would retaliate if
Israel struck at its nuclear reactors or other targets.
Israeli concerns over Iran's arms programs jumped this weekend
after Tehran displayed in a military parade its latest missile, the
Shahab-3, which is capable of reaching Israel.
Israeli military officials say they expect the Shahab-3 to be
operational next year and fear Iran will then quickly develop a
Shahab-4 capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
A former Israeli general and member of parliament for the
opposition Labor Party, Ephraim Sneh, set the debate off Sunday by
calling for a "conventional Israeli preventive strike against Iran
before it develops atomic missiles or bombs."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not go so far, but warned
that Israel "will not sit back with our arms crossed in the face of
the very serious strategic threat which Iranian missiles pose to
Israel."
But other officials denounced alarmist and bellicose statements,
saying they would only heighten tensions with Iran and increase the
likelihood of Israel being targetted by Iranian missiles.
"These declarations about the Iranian threat are belligerent,
unnecessary and dangerous," said Defense Minister Yitzhak
Mordechai.
Uzi Landau, the hawkish head of the parliamentary foreign
affairs and defense committee, also slammed the "unnecessary
chatter" about possible preemptive strikes like Israel carried out
against an Iraqi nuclear site in 1981.
"When prime minister Menachem Begin attacked the Iraqi nuclear
reactor in 1981, he didn't talk about it, he did it," Landau told
Israel radio.
Landau argued that Iran's military program today was designed
above all to counter perceived threats in the Gulf region and not to
target Israel.
"Talk about preemptive strikes is the best way to heighten the
likelihood of Israel being seen as a threat," he said.
Israeli television added to the debate Friday by reporting that
the first squadron of Israeli F-15I fighter planes, delivered by the
United States at the start of 1998 and capable of attacking Iran or
Iraq, are now operational.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:16:51 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Former French president's remarks on Khomeini lead to ban on Iran daily

TEHRAN, Sept 28 (AFP) - Publication of remarks by a former
French president about Iran's late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini has prompted the banning of a liberal newspaper here, the
official Iranian news agency IRNA reported Monday.
In an interview with Toos daily, Valery Giscard d'Estaing
reportedly said that Khomeini had sought and been granted political
asylum in France in 1978, a year before his triumphant return to
Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
But a supervisory committee for the press issued a statement on
Monday denying the allegations.
"These are baseless claims because in his memoirs, Mr. Giscard
d'Estaing has given a completely different version of the story,"
said the statement, quoted by IRNA. "Imam Khomeini never sought
political asylum in France."
The committee also said it had revoked Toos's licence for
"insulting the leader of the Islamic Revolution," calling for the
paper's editorial staff to stand trial.
Khomeini arrived in France from Iraq in October 1978 to continue
his life in exile in Neauphle-le-Chateau, a village near Paris. He
returned to Iran on February 1, 1979 to lead the revolution to
victory 10 days later.
The judiciary closed the popular newspaper in mid-September and
arrested several senior members of its staff, "accused of acting
against the country's national interests and security."
The raid came a day after Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei issued a warning over "pro-Western press targetting Islam,
revolution and the religious faith of the youth."
The paper's closure is part of a fierce campaign against the
moderate press which supports President Mohammad Khatami.
Last week, 180 members of the 270-seat parliament signed a
petition urging the authorities to "act against the press that
jeopardizes the national security."
Facing growing pressure, Iranian Culture Minister Ataollah
Mohajerani criticised the banned newspaper, accusing its editors of
"exceeding limits of freedom."
"No one can pretend that freedom, anywhere in the world, is
guaranteed, unlimited and without problems," he said in an interview
with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir.
But his comments have failed to placate critics, and he is due
to appear in a closed-door session of the conservative-dominated
parliament on Tuesday to answer questions on the press situation.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:17:16 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: EU says it is satisfied with Iran's "clarifications" on Rushdie

VIENNA, Sept 28 (AFP) - The European Union (EU) said Monday it
was "satisfied" with "clarifications" by Iranian Foreign Minister
Kamal Kharazi on the religious edict threatening British writer
Samlan Rushdie with death.
A statement by the EU presidency in Austria said it welcomed the
assurances given by Tehran "that it has no intention of doing
anything to threaten the life of Salman Rushdie and those associated
with his work."
It added that Iran had also promised not to "encourage or aid
anyone trying to do so and that it disassociated itself from any
kind of bounty" on the writer's life.
The Austrian presidency said: "These assurances constitute a
very positive gesture on the part of the Iranian government which
removes an obstacle to improving its relations with the EU."
Kharazi said in New York Thursday that Iran would distance
itself from the fatwa pronounced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
against Rushdie in 1989 for his book "The Satanic Verses," which the
late Iranian leader said blasphemed Islam.
Britain announced that it would resume diplomatic relations with
Iran as a result of the conciliatory move.
But an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman pointed out the
"irrevocability" of the religious edict condemning Rushdie to death
and said the author's "insulting remarks will bring more hatred and
dismay of Moslems upon him."
The fundamentalist Iranian paper Jomhouri Eslami criticised the
Iranian ministry for committing "a political error."
It said "nothing has changed regarding Rushdie. On the contrary,
his optimism and that of his protectors may prepare the ground for
the speedy execution of the fatwa."


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:17:40 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian automakers to merge

TEHRAN, Sept 29 (AFP) - The Iranian government has decided to
merge the country's automakers into two large state firms, Deputy
Industry Minister Akbar Torkan said in remarks published Tuesday.
"The preparatory work is nearly complete and the automobile
manufacturers are to be merged into two large firms, Iran Khodro and
Iran Saipa," newspapers here quoted Torkan as saying.
He said the plan would be to combine the operations of some 10
automakers.
Pars Khodro, which makes the Japanese utility vehicle the Nissan
Patrol, would not be affected by the merger.
Iran Khodro, which is in partnership with France's Peugeot, is
the country's largest vehicle manufacturer with a 65 percent share
of the market.
It makes the Peugeot 405 and the Peykan, the former British car
Hilman, and is to start production of the Peugeot 205.
Iran Saipa was initially set up to produce the Renault 5 and is
currently making the Pride of South Korea's Kia Motors. Saipa has
also gone into partnership with France's Citroen to produce the
Xantia.
Other automakers such as Iran Khavar and Iran Chahab, which make
trucks and other vehicles, notably Mercedes, are among the firms
which will be merged with Iran Khodro and Iran Saipa.
In February, the Iranian government said it planned to invest
nearly one billion dollars in the auto industry.
Iran's automakers produced 145,000 vehicles of different types
between March and June of this year and total output is expected to
rise 37.5 percent over the previous year in the March 1998 to March
1999 period to 220,000 units.
Torkan said Iran expects to production to rise to some 500,000
vehicles a year within three years.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:17:58 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Nearly 150 candidates approved for Assembly of Experts election

TEHRAN, Sept 29 (AFP) - Nearly 150 candidates have been cleared
to take part in next month's elections for a new Assembly of
Experts, a cleric-controlled body which chooses Iran's supreme
leader, the interior ministry announced.
A total of 396 people had submitted candidacies for the October
23 vote for the 86-seat Assembly of Experts, which has the authority
to appoint or dismiss the spiritual leader of the Islamic regime.
The Council of Guardians, a conservative clergy-dominated body
which screens electoral hopefuls in the Islamic Republic, rejected
247 candidates, most of them close to moderate President Mohammad
Khatami.
Supporters of Khatami had demanded that women and non-clerics be
allowed to take part in the elections for the Assembly of Experts,
dominated by members of the conservative Shiite Moslem clergy.
The interior ministry did not reveal in Monday's announcement,
however, if the candidacies of any women or non-clerics had been
given the green light.
For the first time since the foundation of the Islamic regime in
1979, 46 non-clerics and nine women had signed up to take part in
the election.
During the past few weeks, the election has aroused hot debate
in political circles among conservative who believe in the
unconditional leadership of the supreme leader and moderates and
left-wingers who support the president.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:18:14 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: US urges Iran to take faster action

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
expressed a degree of impatience with Iran's refusal to move from
diplomatic foreplay in the Clinton administration's efforts to re-
establish relations with Tehran.
Before a meeting today with the Chinese foreign minister, Albright
told reporters she agreed with areas of a speech Monday by Iranian
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi that dealt with Tehran's attempts to
stop international narcotics smuggling and peacefully settle a dispute
with the ruling Taliban militia in neighboring Afghanistan.
But she bristled at Kharrazi's criticism of U.S. policy and called on
Iran to begin a dialogue where the concerns of both sides could be
addressed. Albright said the Clinton administration wants to discuss
Iran's alleged sponsorship of international terrorism, its program to
secretly develop nuclear arms and its ``violent'' opposition to the
Middle East peace process.
``We would like to go beyond the exchange of rhetoric to address our
concerns,'' she said. ``This will take time and require patience.''
During a speech Monday in New York -- which U.S. officials billed as
the definitive response to Albright's address a few months ago calling
for an official dialogue after two decades of bitter estrangement --
Kharrazi rebuffed the Clinton administration's diplomatic initiative.
While noting a positive change in tone from Washington, Kharazzi
accused the Clinton administration of hypocrisy. He said the Clinton
administration calls for a government-to-government dialogue while
refusing to remove economic sanctions and to stop broadcasting anti-
government propaganda into Iran, and while continuing to undermine its
role in regional affairs.


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:18:26 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran Split Over How to Punish Afghans

Military flexes along border. Power struggle back in Tehran may
determine next move
Iran continues to amass its military forces along this tense border
with Afghanistan. Whether its troops cross over may ultimately depend
on who wins a power struggle back in the capital, Tehran.
Iranian options range from armed attack to diplomatic persuasion,
but few offer the solace or revenge that many Iranians expect,
diplomats and analysts say. And Iran's internal battles between
reformist and conservative clerics may dictate events.
The Islamic republic is at odds with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban,
whose extreme brand of Sunni Islam is viewed as a threat by largely
Shiite Iran, which seeks to retain a strategic role in Afghanistan and
protect ethnic minorities it backs.
The Taliban has taken control of most of the country, pushing out
minority opposition militias. In recent weeks Taliban forces overran
two opposition strongholds, leaving thousands dead in Mazer-i-Sharif,
including eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist. The Taliban still
holds dozens of captured Iranian citizens.
The Iranian buildup along the border underscores how seriously the
threat of force is being considered. Officially, some 270,000 troops -
half the estimated armed forces of Iran - are conducting exercises.
Western sources suggest the actual total may be a fraction of that
number.
But in Mashhad, in one of several military parades to mark ``Sacred
Defense Week'' across Iran Sept. 25, thousands of soldiers and
Revolutionary Guards marched in long columns, some with turbans or gas
masks and assault rifles. Women, too, draped in black chadors with red
revolutionary headbands, formed an armed river of black.
``Diplomacy is now being pursued, but it appears that we must also
show our teeth to the Taliban,'' says Sadiq Zibakalam, a political
scientist at Tehran University whose critical writing about Iran's
``blunder'' in Afghanistan has raised the ire of the Foreign Ministry.
``Afghanistan is like a swamp, and once we get in we will never get
out,'' he says. ``Either we must destroy the Taliban, which we cannot
do, or we must tame the Taliban'' by creating a dialogue that will
influence them.
Iran's military establishment disagrees, at least in public, and
says that only the threat of force will keep the Taliban, which is
mostly ethnic Pashtun, from harming the Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek, and
other minorities.
``Some people say that Afghanistan is a quagmire, but that is not
true,'' says Minister of Defense Ali Shamkhani. ``Today international
opinion is for us and against the Taliban, and if this continues they
will support anything we do.''
But any Iranian decision to act may not be based on hard-nosed
strategic calculations. Reformist President Mohamad Khatami is under
fire from conservative clerics who challenge his moves to open Iran to
the rest of the world, and to loosen tough social restrictions that
have dominated since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
``If Iran can get a strong enough condemnation of the Taliban from
abroad to justify not attacking, that would suit the reformers,'' says
a Western diplomat. The United Nations last week agreed to seek a
non-military solution and dispatch a UN envoy.
``But the hard-liners may see a little war to their advantage, to
turn the focus away from domestic criticism,'' he says. ``Another
problem is that Iran has a lot of 'face' involved in the military
buildup, and can't wind down without doing something.''
One option is to arm some of the 1.4 million Afghan refugees now in
Iran and send them back across the border as recruits.
Deposed Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani - who was forced from
Kabul in 1996, but whose ``government'' still holds the Afghanistan
seat at the UN - has openly called for arming the refugees, and his
request was echoed by some clerics in Iran.
Pakistan backs the Taliban with materiel, cash, and ``volunteers''
- with funding from Saudi Arabian sources. Those two countries, along
with the United Arab Emirates, are the only three that recognize the
Taliban government. Iran has backed the opponents, but infighting has
led to the recent defeats.
For Afghans in Mashhad, however, there is a brave face of optimism.
``The Taliban alone is nothing, it can be removed in a day. But their
band of foreign supporters is what keeps [it] going,'' says Tourayalai
Ghiyasi, the Iran representative of Ahmed Shah Masoud, the Afghan
warlord fighting the Taliban in the northeast.
The Taliban has brought a sense of security to areas under its
control, where militias once battled over fiefdoms. But in accordance
with the Taliban's interpretation of Islam, which has drawn fire from
international human rights groups, women must follow extreme
restrictions. Men whose beards are not sufficiently long have been
beaten.
``There is a new culture ruling us, and the Taliban have a very bad
attitude,'' says an Afghan refugee teacher. ``It means there is no
life in Afghanistan, in reality. There is peace, but no life.''


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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:18:37 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Albright urges "patience" in reaching out to Iran

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (AFP) - Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright acknowledged Tuesday that the United States must be patient
in its bid to reach out to Iran after Tehran rejected her latest
overture.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said in an address in New
York Monday that there was "no ground for a political negotiation"
until the United States changed its policies.
The statement was in response to Albright's call three months
ago for talks with Iran on a "road map" that would lead to restoring
diplomatic relations severed nearly two decades ago.
"I proposed a process of parallel steps to build a new
relationship and we know that this will require patience," Albright
said.
US officials have acknowledged privately that Iran may not be
ready to open up to the United States, which it has vilified as the
"Great Satan" for nearly two decades.
But they insist that the State Department must stay the course
and convince Tehran that it has nothing to lose by entering into a
dialogue with Washington.
Albright said Kharazi's speech was interesting and that she
agreed with some of the points raised on curbing drug-trafficking
and dealing with Afghanistan.
But she disagreed with the foreign minister's criticism of US
foreign policy.
The United States has put forward three demands for a thaw in
US-Iranian relations, saying Iran must stop pursuing weapons of mass
destruction, support of terrorism, and attempts to undermine the
Israeli-Arab peace process.
Kharazi complained about the US trade embargo against his
country, US opposition to Caspian oil and gas pipelines through
Iran, and the freezing of Iranian assets.
The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in
1980 shortly after Islamic revolutionaries seized the US embassy in
Tehran, taking 52 hostages. The Americans were released in January
1981.
-=-=-
C O P Y R I G H T * R E M I N D E R

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

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:18:52 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iraqi trade minister arrives in Iran

TEHRAN, Sept 30 (AFP) - Iraq's Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi
Saleh arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to attend an international
trade fair, the latest sign of warming ties between the two former
enemies.
Saleh, heading a delegation of seven businessmen, entered Iran
by car through the Khosravi border post in western Iran, the
official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
The fair will be opened on Thursday with a speech by President
Mohammad Khatami.
Saleh spoke to reporters here of a "new horizon" for economic
cooperation between the two countries which fought a a bloody war
that killed hundreds of thousands from 1980 to 1988.
Relations have gradually improved since January, when the two
countries decided to set up two joint commissions to settle
outstanding problems, but they have still not restored diplomatic
ties.
Several exchanges of prisoners and soldiers' remains have been
carried out and Iranian Shiite Moslems are now allowed to visit holy
sites in Iraq.


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

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 29 Sep 1998 to 30 Sep 1998
***************************************************