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24 Jan 2010 18:35No Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.

Javad Larijani uses racial slur in reference to Obama

Asr Iran | Peykeiran | Jan. 23, 2010

Mohammad Javad Larijani criticized the policies adopted by U.S. President Barack Obama and referred to him using a racial epithet.

"When Barack Obama was sworn into office he talked of verbally engaging Iran," the U.C. Berkeley graduate was quoted as saying. "What has changed is that today this [the equivalent of the N-word in Farsi] talks of regime change in Iran."

In a Saturday meeting at the Islamic Engineers Society, Larijani said, "I am not a racist, but I must respond to this man [Obama] in some way."

Larijani's brother, Ali, is the speaker of Majles (Parliament). Another brother, Sadegh, is head of the judiciary.

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Plane catches fire in Iran, injures 42

Reuters | Photos | Jan. 24, 2010

Some 42 Iranians were injured when a Russian-made Tupolev aircraft caught fire as it landed in northeastern Iran on Sunday, state radio said.

"About 42 passengers, out of 157 aboard, were injured when the plane was landing at Mashhad city's airport," said Gholamreza Massoumi, head of Iran's emergency medical services.

There were no fatalities, said Iran's civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh.

A senior local official said the wounded were not in a critical condition, state television said.

The official IRNA news agency said the incident occurred when the rear end of the plane, which belonged to Iran's domestic Taban Airliner, caught fire while landing. The cause of the incident was being investigated, IRNA said.

Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency said on Sunday it will investigate the reasons behind the fire and said "weather conditions and visibility problems were most likely behind the incident," state-run news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

In the worst plane crash in Iran in the past six years, a Tupolev aircraft crashed in 2009 in Iran on its way to Armenia, after catching fire mid-air and crashing into farmland killing all 168 people on board.

Iran has suffered a string of crashes in the past few decades, many involving Russian-made aircraft.

U.S. sanctions against Iran have prevented it from buying new aircraft or spare parts from the West, forcing it to add to its aging fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes with aircraft from Russia and other former Soviet Union states.

Train crash in Iran kills at least 8

LAT | Jan. 23, 2010

A train accident in northeastern Iran killed at least eight people this morning and injured dozens, underscoring problems in Iran's transportation sector. Four wagons of a five-car passenger train traveling between the capital, Tehran, and the eastern city of Mashhad derailed near the town of Joghatay, 420 miles from the capital, shortly before 10:30 a.m. local time, Iranian news outlets reported.

A medical helicopter and 12 ambulances have been dispatched to the scene, and several of those injured remain in grave condition, Iranian news sources reported. Gholam-Reza Masoumi, head of State Emergency Center, told the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency, ILNA, that the death toll from the train accident is likely to rise "in view of the critical conditions of some casualties and the type of incident." News agencies said the four cars flipped over near a train station.

A photograph posted to the website of Iran's semi-official Fars news agency showed rescue workers climbing an overturned rail car on a field. Officials cited by Iranian news agencies variously attributed the accident to a switch failure, the breaking of a pin, an obstacle on the tracks or the train traveling at too high a speed. But an official described as the deputy director of the state-owned rail company told ILNA no conclusions had yet been drawn.

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Iran budgets $60 for crude oil

AP | Reuters | Photos Jan. 24, 2010

Iran planned next year's budget based on an oil price of $60 per barrel, nearly double the price from the last year, the official news agency reported on Sunday, indicating rising optimism over energy prices.

Last year, the parliament approved a budget based on $37.5 per barrel for the fiscal year ending in March, reflecting the steep drop in prices that severely impacted the economy. About 80 percent of Iran's foreign revenue comes from oil exports.

Earlier on Sunday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted the budget to the Iranian parliament for approval, saying more money would be allocated to agriculture, education and research, as well as to the poor.

He did not give the size of the budget only saying there was "nothing complicated or nontransparent" in it. The budget requires approval of the parliament and the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog.

Mehr News Agency said the amount of the budget was about $368 billion, some $89 billion more than the current Iranian year.

Ahmadinejad said on Sunday the national budget for 2010/11 would lessen reliance on oil revenues, a move aimed at making the Islamic state less vulnerable to any Western sanctions.

Ahmadinejad, who faces opposition protests seven months after his re-election, also said Iran "will have good news over production of 20 percent enriched fuel in February."

"This news will make the Iranian nation and other independent nations happy," he told reporters in parliament after presenting the budget to parliament.

Critics accuse Ahmadinejad of squandering the windfall oil revenue Iran earned when crude prices soared in the first half of 2008, leaving it more vulnerable now that it faces possible U.N. sanctions over its nuclear work.

Corruption, profiteering rage under Ahmadinejad

SF Chronicle | Jan. 23, 2010

Since the fraudulent elections last June that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, the government has been unstintingly harsh, even deadly, in trying to put down a national uprising. Iran is a theocracy, and the state is charging its opponents with religious crimes. So perhaps spiritual fervor is driving the government to attack its own people. If not that, then maybe it is simply the typical dictator's determination to hold onto power at any cost.

Certainly those are important motivators. But another little-discussed feature of Iranian society is at least as important to the state's overlords. They are standing astride a river of cash that flows up to them, nonstop, in one of the most corrupt states in the world. Religion is important, power is wonderful, but how marvelous must it feel to have $1 billion or more in a secret, offshore bank account?

Corruption "is very widespread, and everyone is in on the action, everyone at the top," said Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University who served on the National Security Council under three presidents. "It's a very, very ugly situation."

Basij responsible for confronting soft threats

Etemad | Jan. 10, 2010

The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps' ground force said Basij was the most elite and best trained force and effective in ensuring security.

In an interview with Fars News Agency, Sardar Abdollah Iraqi, deputy commander of the IRGC's ground forces, pointed out some recent changes to the structure of the force. "After the recent changes in the Basij force on the instruction of the supreme leader of the Revolution [Ali Khamenei], the force is now taking more responsibilities in the area of rehabilitation, tackling soft threats and showing presence in social and cultural debates, rather than focusing on military issues," he said.

In calling Basij a non-military force, he said: "In the transformations the military tasks of the Basij have been assigned to the ground forces and all the training, actions against powerful and moderate threats will be the responsibility of the ground forces, and the Basij organization will only tackle the soft threats."

Referring to the issue that using the Basij force was the only reason of decisive successes during last 30 years, especially during the sacred period [Iran-Iraq war] of defending the nation, he said "if the commander in chief of the forces [supreme leader] agrees and we are informed about it, we will fully support the involvement of the Imam Hossein Battalion in security-related debates and gatherings as we can see that local forces and the Basij are primarily involved in ensuring security in particular areas of the northwest and southeast of the country."

Referring to the intelligence reporting by the elite Guard Corps in the region, Iraqi said that major incidents could have taken place if it were not for the intelligence gathering of the elite Guard Corps. He said the recent minor incidents in some of the areas did not take place due to weakness of the intelligence system, rather it indicates that the enemy was active more extensively and the Guard Corps and security forces are neutralizing their efforts and even sometimes countering their unavoidable actions through suitable means.

IRIB host believes sexual frustration behind protests

Tabnak | Jan. 23, 2010

The Rou beh Farda (Toward Tomorrow) host Vahid Yaminpour wrote in a blog that sexual repression was the cause of violent youth protests.

According to Tehran Emrouz, Yaminpour wrote in his blog that despite Q&A sessions about the post-election incidents in Iran, which answered all outstanding questions about the election, young boys and girls continue to reject the valid explanations given to them, resort to violence and insist on disagreeing even after their defeat.

He went on to say the social interaction of students (of both sexes) in universities and their inability to meet their sexual needs causes a frustration.

Yaminpour said these youths, who are unaware of basic political concepts and driven by sexual frustration, should not be labeled as seditionists and counter revolutionaries; instead, they should be given the opportunity to marry -- even temporary marriages were appropriate -- in order to do away with protests.

Student activist remains in solitary

Gooya | Jan. 23, 2010

Milad Asadi, a student at Khaje Nasireldin Tousi and a member of the Tahkim Vahdat governing board, is still in solitary confinement, 55 days after he was detained.

According to Advar News, in a meeting with his family, Milad Asadi informed them that he had been transferred to ward 240 of Evin Prison. Asadi told his family that he was kept in a small cell after his detention and his new cell in ward 240, one even smaller than the first.

Asadi has been under pressure by his interrogators to either denounce the Tahkim Vahdat or resign from it. Asadi told his family that "he would not bow to such pressures even though they may keep him in solitary confinement for many more months."

Other members of Tahkim Vahdat who have been detained and suffering from similar pressures are Bahare Hedayat, Mehdi Arabshahi and Morteza Semyari.

Asadi was detained at his family home on Dec. 30, 2009. 30. It was reported that one of the Khaje Nasir University security staff had accompanied the security agents who arrested Asdi.

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Rafsanjani: 'Leader most competent figure to resolve Iran woes'

Press TV | Jan. 23, 2010

Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the Leader of the Islamic Revolution is the "most competent" person to resolve the problems that the country is currently faced with.

"I am confident that the ongoing problems can be settled with the help of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] in cooperation with moderate figures of both [political] parties in the country," the Iranian Labor News Agency quoted Rafsanjani as saying on Saturday.

Rafsanjani added that his "thought, words and action" have always been based on "moderation and avoidance of extremes."

"In expressing my stance [on various issues], I have always attached importance to the interests of Islam, the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian nation," the chairman of the Assembly of Experts added.

"At particular times, I stay silent due to certain inappropriate conditions," he said.

Archive photo.

Iran says Kouchner under Israeli spell

Press TV | Jan. 22, 2010

Tehran on Friday moved to reject a French accusation that it might try to fuel insecurity in southern Lebanon because of an "internal crisis."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner made the accusation that Iran might try to use Hezbollah to create a conflict with Israel. Iran's Foreign Ministry condemned the "interfering" remarks.

"Kouchner has apparently made the comments under the influence of Israelis," Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for the ministry, said.

Iran may release AIDS doctors with ties to Boston

Boston Globe | Jan. 22, 2010

Two celebrated Iranian AIDS doctors with ties to Boston who were convicted in Iran of trying to overthrow the regime could soon be released from prison on appeal, according to their lawyer, Masoud Shafie.

"Their case is very hopeful," he said in a recent telephone interview from Iran.

Kamiar Alaei, who earned a master's degree from Harvard School of Public Health, and his brother, Arash Alaei, started a string of successful AIDS clinics in Iran and participated in the first State Department-funded exchange program with Revolutionary Iran in 2006, which included tours of medical facilities in Boston and meetings with Boston-area doctors. Initially, the Iranian government appeared to support their work. But in June 2008, they were arrested and accused of "communications with an enemy government" and "seeking to overthrow the Iranian government."

Last January, after a one-day trial, Kamiar was sentenced to three years in prison and Arash was sentenced to six, according to Physicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge-based organization that has been petitioning for their release.

'You're in big trouble': A brush with the Revolutionary Guard

Globe & Mail | Jan. 23, 2010

In an exclusive excerpt from Our Man in Tehran, author Robert Wright reveals Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor's top-secret -- and highly risky -- work for the CIA during the American hostage crisis in Iran

The Canadians' mission in Tehran had three components: monitoring the activities of the U.S. embassy compound, where the Americans were being held hostage; finding a suitable "hide site" for the Delta Force commandos planning to storm in and rescue the captives; and helping to plan the logistics of the escape - dubbed Operation Eagle Claw by the Pentagon. Working closely with Mr. Taylor were Sgt. Jim Edward, head of security at the Canadian embassy, and "Bob," a Cold War spy who was called out of retirement to become the CIA's only undercover officer in Tehran.

Tsunami of US army hit Haiti in form of earthquake

Javan | Jan. 23, 2010

Many people may find remarks by the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that U.S. underground military tests had been the main reason for the earthquake and the death of thousands of people in Haiti strange and unbelievable. However, instead of humanitarian aid, sending 15,000 American military forces to that country in less than ten days after the earthquake may be the strangest part of all.

Two days after the earthquake that measured 7.2 on the Richter Scale, 11,000 American forces were sent to Haiti on the basis of a pre-planned operation so that in addition to occupying the presidential palace they could also seize control of that country and put it in their hands. An interesting point is that in order to send military forces to other countries such as Afghanistan, America has had to try for many months to get the approval of the Congress. However, in this case, apparently in less than one day, it was able to send 11,000 forces to Haiti, and in the near future that number is going to rise to 20,000.

The Russians were aware of American tests

On Wednesday, Chavez spoke about a secret Russian document on "earthquake-inducing [larze saz] weapons," which had been prepared by the Russian Navy. He has stressed that the testing of that weapon by the U.S. Navy had resulted in the earthquake in Haiti. "Since 2008, Russia's North Sea navy has been carefully tracking the activities of American forces in the Caribbean, because the announcement of the resumption of the activities of the American Fourth Fleet in that region had aroused the sensitivity of the Russians," Chavez said in an interview with the Spanish ABC newspaper. It is important to point out that that naval unit had been disbanded in 1950.

In that report [presumably by the Russian Navy] it has been pointed out that earlier on the testing of that earthquake-inducing weapon had produced an earthquake in Eureka City in California with the force of 6.5 on the Richter Scale, but it had not resulted in any casualties.

In the secret Russian report it has also been pointed out: "Washington had some comprehensive information about the possible damage caused by that weapon before the earthquake had occurred. As a result, before the earthquake took place, General Keane [phon.], the commander of the American military's Southern Command had been sent to Haiti, so that he could announce the need for help if necessary."

The Arabs faced with the possibility of an American tsunami

The Arabic-language newspaper The Latest News published in the United States of America, quoting some informed sources, has written that the tsunami that took place a few years ago in South Asia was due to American nuclear tests in the depth of the oceans. That newspaper added: "At the moment, Washington is trying to persuade the world that what happened in Haiti had been a natural disaster. However, geologists believe that the earthquake in Haiti could not be due to the movement of the earth's crust. It is clear that it has been due to the tests that have affected in an unnatural way both the earth and the sea."

That newspaper has added: "Haiti's earthquake has been the result of a successful American test in the depth of the sea." That newspaper has warned that Arab countries, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Palestine will be the next targets for those tests.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, has also warned that his country and Russia believe that in future such tests could also be used in order to weaken the Islamic system in Iran.

Iran nuclear dispute 'fabricated by the West'

Mehr | Jan. 22, 2010

The director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi says that there are two lines of thought in the West on the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

"One of these camps is acting with a little more wisdom and has understood that they should pursue an interactive policy towards Iran, and the other camp is influenced by international Zionism and (they) are trying to implement a confrontational policy and to make problems for everyone," Salehi told the ISNA news agency on Thursday.

His remarks came in response to the recent meeting of the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) on Iran's nuclear issue.

Diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany held a meeting last Saturday, January 16 over Iran's nuclear program but could not reach an agreement.

"We had a very sober assessment," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters. "It is inconclusive in the sense that we did not make any decisions right away," he added, AFP reported.

Salehi predicted that the wise group will prevail in the end, and the nuclear dispute, which has been fabricated by the West, will be resolved over time.

"Our policy is a policy of interaction," he stated.

He went on to say that Iran has asked foreign countries to provide the nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor, although the country is capable of producing the fuel itself.

Iran has offered to swap its low enriched nuclear fuel for 20 per cent enriched nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor in stages on the southern Iranian island of Kish.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Salehi said that bringing the Bushehr nuclear plant on stream is a priority for Iran and expressed hope that it would become operational in late March.

Meanwhile, the director of Russia's state nuclear corporation announced on Thursday that Moscow would start up Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant this year.

"2010 is the year of Bushehr," Rosatom director Sergei Kiriyenko told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Moscow.

Salehi also announced that over the past month, Irans nuclear research institution has manufactured two important machines, namely the CAT scanner and the body scanner.

He also said that there is some other news that he will announce at the proper time.

Iran ready to share nuclear know-how with regional nations

IRIB | Jan. 20, 2010

The interior minister has said, "Iran is a country that keeps its doors open for entering security pacts. So, how can such a country be a source of intimidation among the regional countries?" Brig-General Ahmad Vahidi was speaking at a continuing session of the international gathering on the Persian Gulf.

He further said, "Another subject that the Westerners have propounded are our nuclear issues. This is even in the situation when we have announced that we are willing to place our nuclear know-how at the disposal of the countries in the region, and are even prepared to collaborate in setting up of a nuclear power plant in the region.

"The enemies of people of this region are the ones who are seeking to project Iran's nuclear capabilities as a threat to the area. Another element that they are trying to create is a massive uproar that Iran is seeking to gain access to nuclear weapons, even though we have reiterated that we do not believe in doing so as it is contrary not only to our beliefs but also to our ethics."

Vahidi continued, "The 'Iran phobia' and the fact the Zionist regime has declared that in order to combat Iran's threat, 'it would side with the Arabs', are the most hilarious occurrences of our time. With such efforts, at certain junctures -- even though temporary -- they achieve some relative success; however, nothing concrete will happen, due to the vigilance of the regional countries. These efforts are most certainly aimed at strengthening their own security and presence in the region, as well as taking over the security of the region."

Iran official warns against migration of oil industry employees

Iran Tejarat | Jan. 20, 2010

Deputy Oil Minister Seyfollah Jashnsaz has said that at present the oil industry employees receive lower salaries than their counterparts in other countries and issued a warning saying, "If these employees are not financially provided for, some of them may migrate to other countries."

According to a Mehr journalist, at the concluding ceremony of the Institution for Energy Studies' 14th International Conference, Seyfollah Jashnsaz said that Iran has 100 years' of economy that relies on oil interests.

He added, "According to analysts' views, this self-reliance on oil income is considered a weak point. However, by experiencing many ups and downs, the oil industry employees prevented Iran's oil exports every moment following the Revolution."

Iran smart subsidy bill faces obstacle as statistics website fails

Fars News | Jan. 23, 2010

The Iran statistics website has been inaccessible. The website which is said to store the statistical information about families in Iran, and is part of the plans for the implementation of the targeted subsidies bill has experienced high volume of traffic, disbarring access to the public.

Fars News wrote:

"Although this morning [Jan. 23] the correction of the economic data pertaining to families is due to begin and applicants must use this site to correct their information, the website is not accessible.

"As the Iran National Statistics Organization had announced previous to this, the period for correction of the data submitted by families was due to begin today lasting until Feb. 11. The people ought to visit this site www.amar.org.ir in order to amend the information they have already submitted.

Iran FM sets attendance conditions for London Afghan Conference

Mehr | Jan. 23, 2010

Iran has set conditions for participating in a conference on Afghanistan in London on January 28.

In an interview with the Islamic Republic of Broadcasting on Wednesday night, Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said if Iran's views are considered at the conference, Tehran will study the invitation to attend the conference with a positive view; otherwise there will be no reason to attend the conference.

"After eight years of occupation, Britain's record in Afghanistan is indefensible," the foreign minister said.

"The British government has no convincing answer to the world for its actions in Afghanistan, and its policies have been totally wrong," he noted.

He said even schoolchildren know that the occupiers have not been successful in Afghanistan.

He stated that the occupiers have not been sincere in their approach to resolving the crisis.

"Either these countries did not have the capability to resolve the crisis in the first place, or they have lost the ability to lead the world," he added.

"Despite eight years of occupation, extremism and insecurity have increased, opium production has skyrocketed, and even parts of Pakistan are also being dragged into the conflict," Mottaki said.

Iran dispatches fifth naval group to Gulf of Aden

IRNA | Jan. 23, 2010

The fifth operational naval group of Iran's naval army has departed from the port of Bandar Abbas for the Gulf of Aden sea port, Iran's state news network IRINN has reported.

Some four naval groups of Iran have had secured safe passage of more than 1000 trade ships and oil tankers from the Gulf of Aden before that, IRINN reported.

Other headlines

Hamshahri: "Fuel prices may have a 100 percent rise in next year after implementation of the subsidy reform plan," said Hassan Vanani, a member of parliament's Budget and Planning committee. (more)

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