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21 Apr 2010 07:36No 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. You can follow our news feeds on Twitter.

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A group of nurses meet with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

national

Three sentenced to death in Kahrizak trial

Khabar Online | April 21, 2010

Three defendants in the Kahrizak case were found guilty and sentenced to death, according to Farda news.

The three defendants were two police officers and "a thug," the report said.

Mehdi Hashemi threatens to tell all

Tabnak | April, 21, 2010

Mehdi Hashemi threatened to go public with information about those tarnishing his reputation.

In a statement, Mehdi Hashemi responded to rumors about a warrant being issued for his arrest: "Take into consideration that such rumors are flying around at a time when no court has passed a verdict. I have not offered any explanation and this shows a certain political faction's attempts to pressure the Judiciary and use this instrument of justice to further their objectives. More interestingly, they believe that their actions are in line with strengthening the establishment and the Leadership."

"It is unfortunate to see this [political] faction make such waves at a time when it has been struggling with countless administrative, economic and political scandals."

"My rightful demand is that the Judiciary not allow such mudslinging, which tarnishes the reputation of [our] judicial system, and to consider the day when I lose patience and go public with the information I have."

"I repeat once again that I am ready to have my case heard in a just court and I expect that my complaint against those who have used every means to assassinate my character and [that of] my family's to be judged like everyone else."

Intel. Minister says Khatami free to leave

Fararu | April 21, 2010

Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi rejected reports that the former Iranian president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami had been barred from leaving the country.

"Mr. Khatami has not been barred from leaving the country," Moslehi told reporters after Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

When asked if the Intelligence Ministry had imposed a travel ban on Mehdi Hashemi, Moslehi said, "Imposing travel bans lies within the responsibility of the Judiciary and whenever this organ issues an arrest warrant this [travel ban] takes place."

"We currently have an arrest warrant for Mehdi Hashemi and when the time comes we will act on it and take him into custody.

Rahimi gets new deputy

Tabnak | April 20, 2010

Mohammad Ali Abadi, the head of the National Olympics Committee, has been appointed as the first vice-president's coordinator and executive deputy.

According to PANA, Mahmoud Ahmadinejadin accepted Ali Abadi's resignation from the National Olympics Committee at today's cabinet meeting and appointed him as Mohammad Reza Rahimi's coordinator and executive deputy.

Ahmadi-Moqaddam disappointed religious families turning to satellite TV

Khabar Online | April 21, 2010

A member of the Majlis Social Commission said police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam is alarmed about the popularity of satellite television among religious families.

"It would be better to ask your questions from him [Ahmadi-Moqaddam]," Effat Shariati told Khabar Online on the sidelines of the Majlis meeting with the police commander. "But he said in the meeting that satellite dishes were threatening religious families too and said it was a cause for concern that religious families were also turning to satellite channels."

Turning to reports about the president's opposition to the implementation of the Hijab and Chastity project last year, Shariati said, "This is not the case. We cannot task our civil forces with fighting every social problem. Raising cultural awareness plays a far more important role and the police can also play a preventative role."

She described the ministries of education and higher education as the best place to promote the culture of religion-seeking.

Shariati also criticized negligence in observing Islamic values. "When you get on a plane, the flight attendant asks the ladies to observe cultural values [hijab] when she herself is not observing it and is wearing makeup and figure-hugging attire."

Three Iran revolutionary guards killed: agency

Reuters | April 21, 2010

Three members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were killed in clashes this week with unidentified "counter-revolutionary forces," an Iranian news agency said on Wednesday.

The semi-official Mehr news agency said the three guards were killed on Tuesday in the city of Khoy in northwest Iran where a prosecutor was shot dead in January. Iran said a Kurdish guerrilla group was behind that incident.

The agency described the attackers as "counter-revolutionary agents" but gave no more details on their identity. It said a funeral for the dead would be held on Thursday.

Car blast kills 2 in SW Iran

Press TV | April 20, 2010

At least 2 people have been killed and 8 others wounded in a car explosion in Iran's southwestern province of Ilam, the country's Red Crescent officials say.

The Tuesday incident occurred at noon when a car exploded in the city of Ilam.

"The blast left two civilians dead and 8 others injured," Mohammad-Baqer Mohammadi, head of the Red Crescent Society in Ilam Province said.

Iran 'bans newly-reopened reformist daily'

AFP | April 20, 2010

Iran's press watchdog has banned reformist daily newspaper Bahar for "publishing false material," just two months after it resumed operations, Fars news agency reported on Monday.

Bahar (Spring) was ordered shut for "publishing false material, spreading doubt on key issues like the elections, questioning the decisions of regime officials and spreading lies about ministries," the watchdog said, quoted by Fars.

The newspaper had resumed operations in February, after being shut down in 2003 by the judiciary.

"Since the paper continued to break the law in its issues over the past two months, it was decided to suspend its publication and refer it to the judiciary," the watchdog said.

Police seize 220 lbs. of crystal meth as drug war drags on

LAT | April 15, 2010

Iran's has been battling the opium and heroin trade for years, but it appears now that a new homemade substance has found an market in the Islamic Republic.

Authorities confiscated 220 lbs of crystal methamphetamine and arrested one person Thursday in the southeastern town of Hirmand, state television reported.

In 2005, a study by the United Nations found that Iran had the highest drug addiction rate in the world, with 2.8% of the population addicted, mostly to opium and heroin, much of which was smuggled in from neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Iran has stepped up its war against drugs in recent years, but an upshot of less opium and heroin entering the country could be a rise in substances such as crystal meth, which pose a greater challenge to drug enforcement authorities because it can be made from common household products that bought legally.


US-Iran

Unpacking the Gates' Iran memo leak

Politico | April 20, 2010

The weekend New York Times report on a three-page classified January memo by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on U.S. Iran policy has kicked up considerable debate and outcry for a memo that presumably very few people, not even the Times, have actually seen.

Gates himself charged that the paper's sources "mischaracterized [the memo's] purpose and intent," including in describing it to the Times as a "wake-up call" to the Obama administration.

"With the Administration's pivot to a pressure track on Iran earlier this year, the memo identified next steps in our defense planning process where further interagency discussion and policy decisions would be needed in the months and weeks ahead," Gates said in a statement Sunday.

"The memo was not intended as a 'wake up call' or received as such by the President's national security team," he continued. "Rather, it presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision making process."

Ranking Senate Armed Services Committee Republican John McCain responded to the Times report by saying he didn't need a secret memo to tell him the U.S. didn't have a coherent Iran policy. "That's obvious," he told Fox News Sunday.

Iran Gives Weapons to Re-Arm Hezbollah, Pentagon Says

Bloomberg | April 20, 2010

Iran has provided weapons and as much as $200 million a year to help the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah re-arm itself to levels beyond those in 2006, when the group waged a war with Israel, the Pentagon said.

The unclassified review of Iran's military power, the first submitted under legislation passed last year, cites the Persian Gulf nation's "longstanding relationship" with Hezbollah, which the U.S. and Israel consider a terrorist group.

Iran views Hezbollah "as an essential partner for advancing its regional policy objectives," the Pentagon said in the 12-page account, submitted yesterday to congressional committees. The report also examines Iran's build-up of its navy and air forces, and its ties with China, Russia and Venezuela.

Iran Denounces U.S. 'Nuclear Threats'

Reuters | April 21, 2010

Iran's supreme leader denounced Wednesday U.S. "nuclear threats" against the Islamic Republic, and its elite military force said it would stage war games in a waterway crucial for global oil supplies.

The Revolutionary Guards' exercises in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz this week take place at a time of rising tension between Iran and the West, which fears Tehran's nuclear program is aimed at developing bombs. Iran denies the charge.

Iran has also reacted angrily to what is sees as U.S. President Barack Obama's threat to attack it with nuclear arms.

Obama made clear this month that Iran and North Korea were excluded from new limits on the use of U.S. atomic weapons -- something Tehran interpreted as a threat from a long-standing adversary.

"The international community should not let Obama get away with nuclear threats," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday.

"We will not allow America to renew its hellish dominance over Iran by using such threats," he told a gathering of Iranian nurses, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported. Iran was a close U.S. ally before its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, also quoted by Fars, said three days of manoeuvres would start Thursday and would show the Guards' naval strength.

"Maintaining security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the world's key economic and energy routes, is the main goal of the war games," he said. "This war game is not a threat for any friendly countries."

US weighs Iran military option

BBC | April 21, 2010

If Iran decides to go for nuclear weapons, the US may not be able to permanently stop this from happening unless it is willing to occupy the country.

This is the candid conclusion of one army general testifying in front of the Senate but one that seems to have gone mostly unnoticed amid a flurry of statements on Iran over the past few days in Washington.

Gen James Cartwright, one of America's top uniformed officers, slowly edged towards that conclusion during a Senate testimony last week, underscoring the difficult choices facing the Obama administration as it weighs what do about Iran.

Since the US would probably be extremely apprehensive about even considering putting boots on the ground in Iran, the statement raises a key question - while the Obama administration publicly maintains that it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, is it privately discussing how to live with a nuclear Iran?

The military is averse to any action against Iran and Adm Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a military strike would be 'his last option" and has warned of the unintended consequences of such a strike.

But during the Senate testimony, which also featured the state department's No 3 official, William Burns, the senators questioning the panel also established that UN sanctions would probably not be tough enough to really have an impact on Tehran.

economy

Iran Adds Four More Supertankers to Crude Oil Storage

Bloomberg | April 20, 2010

Iran, OPEC's second-biggest oil producer, added four supertankers to its fleet of vessels storing crude, taking the total to 11 after two others set sail, ship tracking data show.

At least 11 such vessels are idling in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, according to data from the ships collected by AISLive Ltd. Combined, the tankers can store about 22 million barrels of oil, more than Europe consumes in a day.

"Aside from the Iranian charters, the fundamentals don't suggest it should be this firm," Jeff McGee, an analyst at Simpson, Spence & Young Ltd. in London, the world's second- largest shipbroker, said by phone.

Two years ago, Iran used as many as 15 tankers for storage, constricting vessel supply and helping to more than triple freight rates in less than three months.

Iran is likely storing oil because of weakening demand as refineries across Asia, accounting for almost two-thirds of global demand for supertankers, carry out maintenance. National Iranian Tanker Co., which operates the supertankers, also has a laden suezmax tanker idling off Iran, ship-tracking data show. A suezmax can hold about 1 million barrels of oil.

The discount on Iran Heavy crude compared with Oman and Dubai petroleum is at its widest in more than a year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The discounts on Iran's Forozan, Soroosh and Norooz crudes have also widened.

Uganda, Iran to Discuss Oil in Ahmadinejad Visit, Monitor Says

Bloomberg | April 20, 2010

Uganda and Iran will discuss how the Middle East nation will help Uganda build an oil refinery during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's two-day visit to the African nation starting on April 23, the Daily Monitor reported.

Iran will also lobby Uganda to use its position as a non- permanent member the United Nations Security Council to condemn a U.S. proposal calling for a fourth set of sanctions on Iran for its nuclear enrichment program, the Kampala-based newspaper reported.

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