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01 Feb 2010 06:18No 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.

Iran says ready to send enriched uranium abroad

WaPo | Feb. 2, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday Iran was ready to send its enriched uranium abroad in exchange for nuclear fuel under a plan the West hopes will prevent the development of material used for atomic bombs.

The U.N. nuclear agency has brokered a proposed deal requiring Iran to send its low enriched uranium abroad in exchange for more highly enriched fuel to produce medical isotopes.

Iran has denied seeking nuclear weapons. "We have no problem sending our enriched uranium abroad," Ahmadinejad told state television.

"We say: we will give you our 3.5 percent enriched uranium and we will get the fuel. It may take 4 to 5 months until we get the fuel," he said.

"If we send our enriched uranium abroad and then they do not give us the 20 percent enriched fuel for our reactor, we are capable of producing it inside Iran," he added.

Ahmadinejad's comments came after Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog reported last week that a deal on uranium enrichment was still possible, even though Western diplomats had claimed Tehran had effectively turned down the proposal.

Under the proposed deal, Tehran would transfer 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for conversion into special fuel rods to keep the nuclear medicine reactor running.

Leader of Iran opposition toughens line on government

NYT | Feb. 2, 2010

Mir Hossein Moussavi, the Iranian opposition leader, unleashed some of his harshest criticisms against Iran's rulers on Tuesday in an interview published on his Web site, calling their behavior dictatorial and terrifying.

The remarks by Mr. Moussavi, whom supporters regard as the real winner of Iran's contested presidential election last June, appeared to be part of a broader opposition effort to counter an intensified crackdown by the government ahead of the Feb. 11 anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when many expect new street protests to erupt.

Mr. Moussavi's remarks came as the government in Tehran announced that nine imprisoned anti-government protesters would soon be hanged. Two were hanged last week.

In the interview, Mr. Moussavi said the executions were aimed at "terrifying people" into submission.

"The majority of people believed in the beginning of the revolution that the roots of dictatorship and despotism were abolished," he said. "I was one of them but now I don't have the same beliefs. You can still find the elements and roots that lead to dictatorship."

Iran hints at prisoner swap for 3 U.S. hikers

USA Today | Feb. 2, 2010

Six months have passed since Iranian guards arrested three Berkeley graduates for allegedly straying across the northern border with Iraq. Today, Iran's president said a prisoner swap was being discussed, according to news reports.

Joshua Fattal, 27, Shane Bauer, 27, and Sarah Shourd, 31, were captured July 31. Their supporters claim they were hiking in the Kurdistan region in search of a waterfall; Tehran accuses them of spying. The three speak Arabic and have studied Middle Eastern culture, but they do not speak Farsi, Iran's primary language.

In a television interview today, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said negotiations were taking place to swap the three students for "Iranians serving time for years in U.S. prisons for no particular crime," as the Associated Press reports.

German companies pull out of Iran, slowly

NYT | Feb. 2, 2010

German companies, long Iran's biggest trading partners in Europe, are finding it increasingly difficult to conduct business there as the United States, Israel and others campaign for tougher U.N. sanctions in response to the country's nuclear program.

Yet even companies that claim they are pulling out -- most notably Siemens last week -- are likely to take years to wind down operations and wrap up outstanding contracts. Others are simply lowering their profile or finding third countries to do business through, fearing they will lose a lucrative market forever if they abandon it now.

"What our members want is a level playing field," said Ulrich Ackermann, who is responsible for Iran and other countries in the region at the influential German Engineering Federation, a lobby for the sector. "If our German companies pull out, will other, non-German companies replace us?"

Although no precise numbers are available -- several prominent German companies declined to discuss their business activities in Iran -- interviews with other companies, trade associations and export-guarantee agencies suggest a significant reduction of direct trade between Germany and Iran.

Iran leaders 'sowing seeds' of own destruction: Biden

AFP | Feb. 2, 2010

Iran's leaders are "sowing the seeds of their own destruction" with a brutal crackdown on protesters, US Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday.

In an interview with MSNBC television, Biden said the United States should continue to extend a hand to Iran "as we move toward serious sanctions against the Iranian government."

"But, look, when they acted as they did, when the first protests broke out and people were brutalized, they lost their moral credibility in their own country and around the region. And I think they're sowing the seeds for their own destruction," Biden remarked.

Biden defended the administration's cautious approach to Iran at a time when some Republicans have urged a return to a policy of promoting regime change in Tehran.
"We are moving with the world, including Russia and others, to put sanctions on them," he said. "I think we've moved in the right direction... We're going to end up much better off than we would had we gone in there and physically tried to change the regime."

Mousavi condemns Iran executions

Al Jazeera | Feb. 2, 2010

Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran's opposition leader, criticized Tehran's execution of anti-government protesters and vowed to continue to oppose the government.

His comments came in an interview published on his Web site on Tuesday, in which he said that the country's Islamic revolution had failed to sweep away "the roots of tyranny and dictatorship."

"The Green movement will not abandon its peaceful fight ... until people's rights are preserved," he said on the Kaleme.org Web site.

"Today, one can identify both the elements and foundations that produce dictatorship as well as resistance against returning to this dictatorship."

"Stifling the media, filling the prisons and brutally killing people who peacefully demand their rights in the streets indicate the roots of tyranny and dictatorship still remain from the monarchist era ... I don't believe that the revolution achieved its goals."

Iran to execute more opposition activists

FP | Feb. 2, 2010

With major opposition protests planned for Feb. 11, Iran plans to execute nine more protesters for the crime of moharebeh, or waging war against God. Activists Arash Rahmanipour and Mohammad-Reza Ali-Zamani were hanged last week. They were arrested before the disputed June 12 presidential elections, but their cases became intertwined with those of the "green" protesters arrested over the summer.

"Nine others will soon be hanged . The nine and the two who were hanged on Thursday, were surely arrested in the recent riots and had links to anti-revolutionary groups," said senior judicial official Ebrahim Raisi today.

Senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati praised the executions during last Friday's prayer sermon saying that if the state "shows weakness, we will suffer more. There is no room for Islamic mercy."

The opposition has called for mass demonstrations on the anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic on Feb. 11. In a statement on his website, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said that the Islamic Revolution had failed to achieve most of its goals.

"Stifling the media, filling the prisons and brutally killing people who peacefully demand their rights in the streets indicate the roots of tyranny and dictatorship remain from the monarchist era," he said.

Iran's judiciary chief refuses to speed executions

WaPo | Feb. 1, 2010

Iran's judiciary chief said Monday he will not give in to political pressure to speed up the execution of opposition activists.

Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani said some in Iran's ruling hard-line establishment are pushing the judiciary to step beyond the law in the crackdown on Iran's defiant opposition.

Authorities have been unable to crush the opposition movement, which began by protesting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June and has since challenged the Islamic establishment backing him.

On Thursday, Iran carried out the first executions to result from a mass trial that began in August of more than 100 opposition activists, former government leaders and others accused of playing a role in the post-election turmoil or plotting to topple Iran's system of clerical leaders.

Ali-Reza Beheshti rejects all charges

Tabnak | Feb. 1, 2010

Alireza Beheshti's wife said her husband denies all charges made against him by the press.

Parleman News quoted Mrs. Beheshti as stating, "In my contact with him last night I told him that some newspapers reported your charge is that of cooperating with Mohammad-Reza Tajik in writing a booklet, but my husband said that this charge has nothing to do with him and he will not accept it no matter what. He said that everyone is responsible for what they write."

Mrs. Beheshti said that one of the charges accused her husband of having more than one cell phone. She added, "My husband has not accepted any of the charges."

She reiterated that Alireza Beheshti had not been indicted yet.

Mehdi Hashemi cell regathers in Isfahan

Khabar Online | Feb. 1, 2010

The Iran newspaper claimed that the members of the disbanded Mehdi Hashemi group have resumed their activities in Isfahan after the passing of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri.

The report claimed that the illegal group has been planning for unauthorized gatherings and confronting pro-Islamic Republic forces in its secret meetings.

It was reported that one of the members of the illegal group, who has become an integral part of the faction, has been planning to set certain locations, including Basij centers, on fire.

Acclaimed photographer one of hundreds who have 'disappeared' into the prison system

Iran Human Rights | Feb. 2, 2010

Internationally recognized photographer Mehraneh Atashi, along with her husband Madjid Ghaffari, were arrested on Jan. 12, 2010 in their home in Tehran and detained, apparently in solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison, but authorities have released no information about charges against them, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Atashi and her husband have had no access to a lawyer. They have been allowed no visit by their family and only one brief telephone call they used to inform relatives they had been arrested.

"The arrest and detention of Mehraneh Atashi and her husband are, unfortunately, typical of hundreds of other arrests where Iranian citizens have been snatched by authorities and held without information or explanation, which are tactics of a terror state," said Aaron Rhodes, a spokesman for the Campaign.

Mehraneh Atashi, 30, is a prominent and internationally acclaimed photo artist whose work has appeared in major exhibitions around the world. She has worked for numerous newspapers, magazines, and TV programs. However, in the past few years, she discontinued her job as a photojournalist and concentrated on her artistic photography.

As reported by the Campaign previously, a standing, blanket arrest warrant is being used by Iranian security agents to massively detain Iranian citizens in the absence of evidence of criminal activity and analysis of specific cases by independent judicial authorities.

"Mehraneth Atashi and all who have been arbitrarily arrested are being denied their basic right to liberty, as protected by Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party," Rhodes said.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a Resolution in December 2009, which called for engagement by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions with regard to detained persons in the Islamic Republic.

Mesbah Yazdi threatens with jihad

Khabar Online | Feb. 1, 2010

Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi told a gathering at the Imam Khomeini education and research center that jihad was a viable way to respond to recent developments.

According to Fars News Agency, Mesbah-Yazdi described Islam as "the religion of compassion, forgiveness, amnesty and peace." "But along with these [attributes]," he went on, "there are penalties in Islam too. Next to peace, we have jihad, which involves weapons."

"Presently we must see how to react to recent developments. Are we to withdraw swords or show Islamic compassion? These are issues that have not been mentioned in Qoranic verses or in hadith."

Rafsanjani speech axe

Tabnak | Khabar Online | Jan. 31, 2010

The head of the 'Ten-Day Dawn' ceremonies committee said Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel would replace former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in delivering a Feb. 1, speech.

Feb. 1 marked the first day of the ten-day ceremony commemorating the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Mohsen Sabagh said that Haddad-Adel would deliver a speech at the Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery of Tehran at 9:33 a.m., where Imam Khomeini addressed the nation after returning to Iran 31 years ago.

"As a member of the Expediency Council, Majlis Cultural Commission and a top adviser to the Leader, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel was chosen by a majority of vote by the Islamic Coordination Propagation Council to deliver the speech this year."

When asked why Ayatollah Rafsanjani was not delivering the speech as in previous years, Sabagh said, "None of the designated speakers throughout these years were fixed and no speaker has been the fixed speaker throughout these years."

Hadi Ghaffari rejects reports of his arrest

Tabnak | Feb. 1, 2010

The Imam of the Alhadi mosque, Hadi Ghaffari, rejected reports of his arrest, saying the arms found in the basement of the mosque belonged to the Basij.

"The weapons found in the basement storage belonged to a Basij group which had disbanded a few years ago. The arms are from that time," he said.

"I was not aware of these weapons being stored here, not even subconsciously."

In a phone conversation with BORNA, Ghaffari rejected the news of his arrest. "How can you allow honorable members of society [referring to himself] to be slandered like this?" he said. "Aside from the legal issue, there is the issue of judgment day which is more important than the law."

"How will you be able to answer to God on judgment day when you have made false accusations against me," he went on. "The rice sacks found in the mosque's basement belonged to a rice merchant from the north." Ghaffari said that the merchant had rented the storage space for his rice but due to the fall in the price of rice, he had not been able to pay his rent for a few months.

"This man [the rice merchant] is a very pious person, so much so that you can even follow him in prayer," he said.

Sistani bans reading, watching news for his Iran followers

Khabar Online | Jan. 31, 2010

Iranian-born Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Sistani said giving information to and obtaining information from foreign news outlets was forbidden.

When asked his religious opinion about visiting Web sites and viewing satellite television channels for the purpose of gaining knowledge, the Grand Ayatollah's representative in Iran, Hojjatoleslam Javad Mohammadi, told state radio "Obtaining information from foreign Web sites, even if that information is legitimate, is not permitted by his Excellency, as it is in violation of public morals and the law; therefore his Excellency does not permit visiting foreign Web sites and using satellite [TV]."

In response to a question about sending information concerning the country's current affairs via email and messages to foreign Web sites or satellite channels, Mohammadi said, "His Excellency does not permit giving information to foreigners... as it is contrary to the interests of Islam and Muslims."

Kayhan: Executed dissidents Killed Ali Mohammadi, Mousavi

Khabar Online | Jan. 31, 2010

Kayhan claimed that the two dissidents who were executed were members of the terrorist cell responsible for assassinating Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew and Dr. Ali Mohammadi.

The hard-line daily alleged that the Tondar cell was guided by the CIA and British Intelligence and was responsible for bombings in Shiraz and Tehran prior to the election. The daily further claimed that Tondar contributed to the post-vote street violence and protests and played a role in the Ashura unrest.

MP says Mughniyah, Mohammadi assassinations similar

Tabnak | Feb. 1, 2010

Head of the Majlis national Security and Foreign Policy Commission Parviz Sarvari claimed that the same type of explosives and methods applied to assassinate Imad Mughniyah were used in the killing of Dr. Ali Mohammadi.

"The type of explosives and tactics used in assassinating Dr. Ali Mohammadi are identical to that used by Zionists to assassinate Imad Mughniyah. We have good information in this case," he said.

Sarvari expressed hope that Ali Mohammadi's assassins would soon be arrested by intelligence officers and added, "Authorities are investigating the possibility of Mohammadi's assassins having fled the country."

Iran Speaker says Iraq inquiry 'political show'

IRIB | Feb. 2, 2010

Majlis Speaker has said that 22 Bahman [February 11, anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution] is the day of the late Imam Khomeini and the day to protect the blood of martyrs.

[Ali Larijani: Imam [Ruhollah Khomeini] taught his children that independence can be achieved through the slogan of 'Neither the East nor the West.' If some people wrongly chant slogans against Russia, they are not paying due attention to one of the principles of the revolution. That principle is that the revolution started its path by independence from the East and the West. It has never bribed any power. Being against colonialism and against hegemony is a feature of our revolution.

[Reporter] Mr. Larijani said that the strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region was based on the deep viewpoint of the late Imam and aimed at unity among all Muslim states and all Sunni and Shia groups. Referring to certain reports on the Americans' installing defense shields in four countries of the region, he said:

[Larijani]: It is interesting that in order to justify this action, they [Americans] have cited the concerns of the countries of the region regarding Iran. It is very surprising that the new officials of the United States are not aware that they are the problem of the region." The more equipment you bring [to the region], the more you will worry the officials of the host countries and the more trouble you will create for your soldiers...

[Reporter] Stating that the Afghanistan Conference in London showed the dual policies of Britain, America and NATO, he said "after years of adventurism and chanting slogans against drugs and terrorism, they are now celebrating their cooperation with the Taliban."

[Larijani] The conference on its own demonstrated NATO's military policies. However, why should the people of the region pay for the inconsistent policies of America and Britain as we can see the inquiry into the mistakes of Mr. [Tony] Blair in Britain these days? Although the way the investigations are being handled and the [Blair's] media comments are a kind of political show by the [Labour] party ahead of the general elections, why do they not make it clear who should be accountable for the mistake that took the lives of 800,000 Iraqi martyrs.

Mr. Blair has said "although it has become clear that the information regarding Iraq's nuclear program was not correct, we should have attacked that country in order to demonstrate our power to Iran and the regional countries." Can this sentence justify the shedding of the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis? Can it be accountable for the destruction of the whole of Iraq's infrastructure?

Iran: US missile system meant to sow Gulf division

WaPo | Feb. 2, 2010

Iran said Tuesday that the strengthening of U.S. missile defense systems in Arab countries of the Persian Gulf is aimed at sowing regional divisions and that Tehran's neighbors should not be drawn into believing the country poses a threat.

U.S. military officials said over the weekend that the systems -- involving upgraded Patriot missiles on land and more U.S. Navy ships capable of destroying missiles in flight -- is intended to counter a potential Iranian missile strike.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met Tuesday with the crown prince of Qatar, one of four Arab nations were the U.S. has based Patriot missile systems, and told him the West was seeking to divide them.

"Westerners do not want friendly relations between countries in the region. Their life is dependent on rifts and insecurity," the president told the visiting crown prince, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

"The enemies intend to extend the fire of war in the entire region to solve their own political and economic problems," state TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in their meeting. Ahmadinejad said Iran and Qatar should build closer links and develop a common understanding of what he called plots by enemies.

MP: Mousavi, Karroubi must repent, apologize to people

Khabar Online | Jan. 31, 2010

Tehran representative in Majlis Hojjatoleslam Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moqqadam said by condemning the execution of two dissidents, opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi showed their defiance to the law.

"This act [of condemning the execution] shows these two [Mousavi and Karroubi] defy the law because the trial [of the two dissidents] was held in an impartial court, in the presence of a lawyer and within the frame work of the law," IRNA quoted him as saying in Majlis on Sunday.

Mesbahi-Moqqadam added that the recent stance adopted by the opposition leaders was "an attempt to declare their existence." "These gentlemen [Mousavi and Karroubi] started by protesting the vote result and ended up supporting rioters," he said.

He went on to claim that reports indicating Mousavi and Karroubi's recognition of the government in power only shows "they have been forced to retreat in the face of reality."

"When a president is elected with 24.5 million votes and the election is approved by the Guardian Council and no complaint backed with evidence has been submitted to the Guardian Council, and the Leader gives the president his mandate, it means that it's over and the president has been legally instated."

"Under such circumstances, opposing the truth will only make wise men in the country laugh," he said.

He went on to add that the opposition leaders' recognition of the government does not mean they have retreated from their position. "One might be able to consider this stance a change from that of the rioters," he stated.

Mesbahi-Moqqadam described Mousavi and Karroubi's behavior as dubious. "These two must first repent in the presence of God for the grave mistake they have committed and the high price the establishment has been forced to pay [for their mistake] and perhaps God will accept their repentance," he said, and went on to urge the opposition leaders to apologize to the nation.

Aftab Yazd editor challenges Kayhan over Karroubi

Khabar Online | Feb. 1, 2010

Former Aftab Yazd editor-in-chief Mojtaba Vahedi replied to a recent Kayhan report about him.

In his personal Weblog, Vahedi wrote, "Kayhan alleges that I had wanted to send Mr. [Mehdi] Karroubi my writing but had mistakenly sent it to Kayhan. First of all, there is no problem with great politicians seeking the help of others."

"Second, if the Kayhan staff are telling the truth they should run my complete article in the paper."

Iran says no travel ban imposed on Facebook users

Tabnak | Feb. 2, 2010

Iran's passport police have rejected reports on the banning of members of social networking Web sites, such as Facebook, from leaving the country.

Rejecting rumors of passengers' Facebook pages being checked upon arrival and departure, Colonel Sadeqi said: This is not in the remit of the police and we do not control it.

Speaking to Farhikhtegan newspaper, the head of Iran's passport police said that banning someone from leaving the country was in the remit of judicial officials. He added, "Such bans are only reported to us through judicial sources and we do not have anything to do with such issues."

He said, "Other organizations such as the Ministry of Intelligence and security bodies cannot ban someone from leaving the country and should have a permit from judicial sources in order to do so."

Iran reports technical defects in Tupolev-154 engine

Press TV | Feb. 2, 2010

Iran says it has reported to Russia technical defects it discovered in the motor engine of a Tupolev-154 plane that crashed in central Iran in July, killing all 168 passengers.

Reza Nakhjavani, head of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on Monday that Iran has yet to receive the Russian manufacturer's report on the issue.

Based on the latest information concerning the plane crash, the official said, "Technical defects have been discovered in the engine of the plane and the matter has been reported to the Russian manufacturer, but we are yet to receive the results of the manufacturer's study."

The official said the defects came to light during the study of the Qazvin plane crash, adding that the defects had not been detected in Tupolevs before.

Nakhjavani said the decision to abolish or keep the planes hinges upon the Russian manufacturer's confirmation of the report.

"If the Russian manufacturer approves our experts' views [on the issue], we will then decide to either continue or stop Tupolev flights in the country accordingly."

All the 168 people aboard the Tupolev Tu-154 en route to Armenia were killed about 16 minutes after the airliner took off from the Imam Khomeini International Airport near Tehran in July 2009.

Iran's Minister of Roads and Transportation said in January that Iranian airlines will no longer be allowed to buy cheap or old airplanes.

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