|FarsiNet News Archive
|Just click on the page of your interest|
July 99, Week 4
|Khatami Pledges to Continue Reform Program||July 30|
|U.S. Exempts Food, Medicine from Sanctions||July 28|
|Nationalist Opposition Leaders Arrested in Iran||July 27|
|Iran Lags on Millennium Bug Problem, Says Expert||July 26|
|US to Sell Food to Iran, Libya||July 24|
|Senator: US Should Speak Up on Iran||July 23|
|Students: Iran Crackdown Continues||July 22|
Khatami Pledges to Continue Reform Program
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Nearly three weeks after mass pro-democracy protests, Iran's president has pledged to continue his reformist agenda despite hard-line opposition, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
President Mohammed Khatami made his first public appearance since the protests, apparently to bolster his supporters' confidence after hard-line rivals' attempts to re-establish their control.
"We are under a covenant with you to defend the legitimate civil and legal freedoms of this nation," Khatami told a crowd of tens of thousands in the western province of Hamadan on Tuesday.
"I now renew my covenant with the entirety of the Iranian nation to defend principles, values and national security," Khatami said, in remarks reported by the daily Neshat, monitored in Dubai.
The weeklong student protests earlier in July, the largest since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, sharpened the power struggle between Khatami and hard-liners who oppose his program for greater political and social rights.
Khatami criticized police and hard-line vigilantes for storming a Tehran University dormitory July 9, which triggered the protests. Demonstrations spread to eight other cities and clashes broke out with police. Three people were killed in the unrest.
"Why did they attack the dorm? Why did they beat the students?" Khatami said. "Because students and educators and academics are active members of the society and are among the best supporters for the progress and advancement of our nation."
About 1,200 people were arrested during the protests. Khatami said 1,000 of them had been released.
Khatami promised to thoroughly investigate the causes of the riots, suggesting that could lead to more friction with hard-liners "and mean paying a high price."
"I have been ready to challenge crises in the past and I am ready to challenge the same in the future," he said.
At the height of the protests, commanders in the elite Revolutionary Guards warned Khatami that they had lost patience with his reform program. But afterward, another Guards general voiced support for the president.
Hard-line clergy supporting Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei control many government institutions, including security forces. Khatami, meanwhile, has relied on the massive popular support that brought him to power in a 1997 election landslide.
U.S. Exempts Food, Medicine from Sanctions
WASHINGTON - XINHUA - Starting from Tuesday, U.S. sanctions
against Iran, Libya and Sudan will be eased to allow American companies
to sell them food, medicine and medical equipment, Deputy Treasury
Secretary Stuart Eizenstat announced Monday.
"Sanctions on food, medicine and medical equipment do not generally advance our policy goals and may have adverse consequences in the humanitarian realm," Eizenstat said in his announcement.
But he said companies selling humanitarian goods would need licenses from the Treasury Department.
New policy would offer American farmers the opportunity to sell more than 13 million tons of grain, worth as much as 2 billion dollars, to Iran, Libya and Sudan, administration officials estimated.
The change of policy toward Iran, Libya and Sudan "should provide U.S. farmers and businesses with a significant measure of predictability and enhance their ability to establish markets in every corner of the globe, " the White House said in a statement.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said the new rules easing sanctions "could not have come at a better time."
On April 28, the Clinton administration announced a change in U.S. policy to exempt food, medicine and medical equipment sales from economic sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Libya. Since then, an interagency task force has been working to write new regulations.
The easing of the economic sanctions against the trio of countries was cheered by farm state lawmakers, who have pressed the administration to help find new export markets for U.S. growers facing some of the lowest grain and livestock prices in a generation.
The new policy generally allows licensed companies to sell "agricultural commodities and products that are intended for ultimate consumption as food by humans or animals," Eizenstat said.
The new regulations do not allow sale of non-food agricultural commodities such as cotton or tobacco, he said.
Nationalist Opposition Leaders Arrested in Iran
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - Iran's secret service said it had arrested the leaders of a nationalist opposition movement in connection with recent social unrest in Tehran.
The Intelligence Ministry said in a communique published in newspapers on Monday that three senior members of the small Iran Nation Party (INP) had been in custody since the outbreak of street riots in Tehran in mid-July, following pro-democracy demonstrations.
It identified the three as Khosrow Seif, Bahram Namazi and Farzin Mokhber. Another activist of the movement, Mehran Abdolbaqi, is also in detention, the ministry said.
"Among other things, they provoked and excited rioters and raised delusional slogans against sacred (values). They also had continuous contact with foreign (sources) and transmitted news, distorting facts, and granted interviews to foreign media," it said.
Namazi had been serving as INP's leader since the death of its founder Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh in a chain of murders of dissidents and intellectuals late last year.
The murders were committed by "rogue" elements within the secret service, a development which led to the resignation of intelligence minister Qorbanali Dorri Najafabadi and calls for a structural revamp of the secret service.
The ministry, trying to keep a low profile since the exposure of its role in the murders, bounced back after the riots, leading the campaign against opposition activists with alleged foreign links.
It has been regularly issuing communiques, revealing names of some of those arrested and exposing their alleged role in the unrest.
The ministry said it was also holding a number of other activists ranging from Islamic liberals to "anti-revolutionary" communist sympathisers.
Among those arrested is Hassan Zarezadeh, a member of the Guild of Students and University Graduates, led by maverick opposition activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi.
Tabarzadi, an Islamic militant turned radical reformer, has been in jail for weeks for insulting the Islamic system in his now-banned newspaper Hoviat-e Khish.
"In Tabarzadi's absence, his group has been issuing contradictory statements in a bid to disturb public opinion and destroy the general atmosphere of the press and universities," the communique said.
"In recent days their office had been made into a safe haven for dissidents...There they received recommendations from foreigners and counter-revolutionaries."
It said Zarezadeh, who had campaigned for freedom of political prisoners, had a major role in such activities, transmitting news abroad to be "exploited" against the Islamic republic.
"For example, such reports prompted foreign media, notably American radios (in Farsi) to make investments in this regard...Their false reports were used as a tool to portray a negative image of the Islamic republic," it said.
The ministry also accused the group of seeking financial help from foreigners, notably the U.S. Radio Liberty, based in Prague.
Iran's special clerical court on Sunday found the publisher of the leading pro-reform newspaper Salam guilty of printing classified material and defamation.
Iran Lags on Millennium Bug Problem, Says Expert
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - An Iranian expert on information technology has warned that the country was ill-prepared for the millennium bug problem and urged creation of a special task force to address the issue over the remaining five months.
The official IRNA news agency, in a report over the weekend, quoted Mohammad Sepehri-Rad as saying the banking, transportation and telecommunications sectors were at special risk from the problem, widely known as Y2K.
"Latest reports reveal that many institutions have not yet taken the Y2K problem seriously. They have not understood the disastrous aftermath of this negligence," Sepehri-Rad, secretary of the Supreme Informatics Council of Iran, told a conference of heads of state-run organisations.
"We only have five months left to tackle the problem. We really have to race to prevent the possible ravages of the millennium bug."
The Y2K glitch may cause some computers to mistake 2000 for 1900 because of an old programming shortcut, and tests show some systems may crash or cause errors at the turn of the year.
Analysts say Iran's modest introduction of computer systems may offer it some protection against the Y2K problem in comparison with more developed economies, but they worry that chaotic introduction of technology and the prevalence of outdated equipment from before the 1979 Islamic revolution make it almost impossible to assess the full scope of the problem.
Foreign diplomats, however, say international aviation experts have given the Iranian air traffic control system a clean bill of health, while military attaches say they are confident there is no risk of accidental triggering of computer-based weapons systems.
Sepehri-Rad said much of the problem lay with a lack of education among government bureaucrats and the public at large.
US to Sell Food to Iran, Libya
By Jeannine Aversa|
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration is preparing to allow U.S. companies to sell food and medicine to three countries listed as terrorist states -- Iran, Libya and Sudan.
The regulations are expected to be issued soon and would allow U.S. companies to obtain a license from the Treasury Department to sell food and medicine to three countries, a department official said Friday.
The regulations would not require congressional approval and would take effect immediately unless otherwise stipulated, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said the regulations are now going through an interagency clearance process involving the Treasury, State, Commerce and Agriculture departments.
The State Department announced the intended policy change in April.
At that time, officials said humanitarian aid would be exempted from future sanctions. That change is not supposed to affect Iraq, North Korea and Cuba, all sanctioned countries to which sales of certain items are already permitted.
The Treasury official would not discuss details of the regulations.
It was not clear whether the policy change also would mean approval for a pending Iranian request to buy more than $500 million worth of American grain and sugar.
U.S. lawmakers from agricultural states as well as trade groups representing rice, soybean, wheat, sugar beet, barley and other producers would like to see Iran's request granted.
Some government experts have predicted that the policy change could increase wheat and corn exports by 1 million tons.
The new policy is part of a broader attempt to overhaul the way the United States imposes sanctions. The goal is to resort to unilateral sanctions only after all other options, including diplomacy and multilateral sanctions, have been exhausted.
When the State Department announced the policy change, officials said that barring sales of food and medicine usually fails to hurt targeted regimes while depriving American companies of export opportunities.
Senator: US Should Speak Up on Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration's policy of silence regarding widespread student protests in Iran was assailed by a key senator today as counterproductive. |
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Near East and South Asia, said the administration's decision to remain silent and avoid the issue ``can only achieve the very opposite of its weak intent.''
Speaking at a subcommittee hearing on Iran, Brownback said, ``I cannot think of a policy that is more likely to cause the Iranian public to believe that the U.S. is a guilty partner in the recent uprisings.''
Mass student demonstrations erupted in Iran this month -- with some protesters demanding the ouster of Iran's hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a figure traditionally held above criticism.
The administration has been trying to nurture a dialogue with the regime but has been rebuffed. The Islamic government in Tehran is one of the world's most anti-American.
Richard Murphy, a former assistant secretary of state, defended the administration's cautious approach. ``With the situation as tense as it is, whatever you said would be manipulated by the hard-liners,'' Murphy said in a telephone interview.
``To feel you have to tell an Iranian student that we believe in free speech is simply not true.''
The administration's caution was exemplified on Wednesday by President Clinton, who was asked about Iran during a news conference.
``On Iran, frankly, I'm reluctant to say anything for fear that it will be used in a way that's not helpful to the forces of openness and reform,'' he said.
``I think that people everywhere, particularly younger people, hope that they will be able to pursue their religious convictions and their personal dreams in an atmosphere of greater freedom that still allows them to be deeply loyal to their nation.''
At Thursday's hearing, Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., said the administration cannot realistically pursue an opening with Iran, given the events of the past two weeks.
``Any attempt at dialogue now would be greatly misinterpreted and misunderstood,'' Torricelli said.
About 1,200 people were arrested during the protests, of whom about 750 have been released. Authorities have alleged that the unrest was directed by outside forces.
Also testifying was Bruce Laingen, a former diplomat who was in charge of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when militants seized it and held 52 Americans hostage in 1979 for 444 days.
He said he deeply regrets the absence of a dialogue with Iran for two decades. Advocating a change in U.S. policy, Laingen said, ``I can't see that a sanctions-driven containment policy has worked.''
Students: Iran Crackdown Continues
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- An Iranian pro-democracy student group accused authorities today of continuing arrests, beatings and forced confessions, despite official statements that political detentions had stopped. |
The Council of Student Protesters, which speaks for pro-democracy demonstrators who earlier this month staged six days of protests, said in a statement that ``a wave of arrests'' had begun after a crackdown on the demonstrations.
``Some people have been arrested merely for being students. After being interrogated for hours, they were beaten and forced to sign confessions blindfolded,'' the group said in the statement published in the Hamshahri daily, seen on the Internet in Dubai.
The group added that seven of its own members and students belonging to other university organizations were missing and believed held by security forces.
Iran's Intelligence Ministry said earlier this week that students arrested in the unrest who were not identified as members of subversive groups had all been released. Authorities said 750 of the 1,200 people arrested have been released.
Also today, Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari accused what he described as Iran's enemies of trying to undermine the government of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.
``We should not put pressure on the people and limit their legal freedoms under the pretext of maintaining security in the country,'' said Lari, a moderate cleric aligned with Khatami.
``The government is determined to strongly proceed with its social plans,'' Lari was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency.
At least three people were killed in the weeklong violence that began July 9 with police and hard-line vigilantes storming a Tehran University dormitory after a peaceful rally against hard-liners in the Islamic government. It led to demonstrations and clashes with the police as the protests spread to eight other major cities.