05 May 2010 20:36
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.
Photo James Longley via LGOIT.com.
Iran invites North Korea's Kim to visit - official
Reuters | May 4, 2010
Iran has invited North Korean's leader Kim Jong-il to visit the Islamic republic to further economic ties, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
"The invitation was made during a trip by the deputy foreign minister in charge of Asian and Oceanic affairs (Mohammad Ali Fatollahi)," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters at a weekly press briefing in response to a question.
"We are hopeful the visit will take place to serve as a leap forward in cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the economic field," he added. He gave no more details.
Foreign firms stepping away from Iran
Reuters | May 4, 2010
U.S. pressure has prompted a growing number of oil firms, trading houses and other international companies to halt business with Iran this year.
While the United States pushes for tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, the U.S. Congress is trying to hammer out a final bill which would punish foreign companies that export gasoline and other petroleum products to Iran.
Here are some details:
* Italy's oil and gas major Eni is handing over operatorship of Darkhovin oilfield in Iran to local partners to avoid U.S. sanctions, Eni told U.S. authorities on April 29.
* Russian oil major LUKOIL will cease gasoline sales to Iran, industry sources said on April 7, following a similar decision by Royal Dutch Shell in March. LUKOIL had supplied some 250,000 to 500,000 barrels of gasoline to Iran every other month.
* Malaysia's Petronas has stopped supplying gasoline to Iran, a company spokesman said on April 15.
* India's largest private refiner Reliance Industries will not renew a contract to import crude oil from Iran for financial year 2010, two sources familiar with the supply deal said on April 1.
* Oil trading firms Trafigura and Vitol are stopping gasoline sales to Iran, industry sources said on March 8.
* Ingersoll-Rand Plc , a maker of air compressors and cooling systems for buildings and transport, said it will no longer allow subsidiaries to sell parts or products to Tehran.
* Oilfield services company Smith International said on March 1 it was actively pursuing the termination of all its activities in Iran.
* German engineering conglomerate Siemens said in January it would not accept further orders from Iran.
* Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, said on March 1 it had tightened its policy on not doing business with Iran to prevent foreign subsidiaries from selling equipment to independent dealers who resell it to Tehran.
Iran spy cells operate in Gulf states: Kuwaiti MP
AFP | May 5, 2010
A spy network Kuwait busted for allegedly working for Iran's Revolutionary Guards is operating in other Gulf Arab states, a hardline Islamist lawmaker said on Tuesday.
"Investigations have indicated that the network is active and present in most other Gulf states," MP Mohammad Hayef told reporters outside the parliament.
"High-level (security) meetings are taking place between Gulf Arab states to follow up on the latest developments of the spy cell. Gulf states must take a united decisive position toward Iran," Hayef said.
The lawmaker, who did not elaborate on the source of the information, called on Gulf states to review their relations with Iran to force it to halt such practices.
Hayef urged the Kuwaiti government to reveal the identity of the spy cell members and those backing it inside and outside Kuwait. He also reiterated calls for Kuwait to expel the Iranian ambassador.
Hayef, who is from the ultra-conservative Salafi sect of Islam, is well known for his anti-Iranian stance.
France rejects U.S. request to extradite Iranian
Reuters | May 5, 2010
A French court rejected on Wednesday a U.S. request to extradite an Iranian engineer, who Washington said had illegally bought electronic equipment for military use in violation of a trade embargo on Iran.
The U.S. Justice Department said it was "deeply disappointed" by the decision and promised to pursue the case.
Majid Kakavand was arrested in March 2009 at a Paris airport after the United States had issued a warrant accusing him of buying goods worth about $1.2 million from U.S. companies and routing the purchases via Malaysia to avoid the embargo.
The United States said the equipment, which was bought off the Internet, might have been adapted for military projects in Iran and accused Kakavand of lying about his intentions.
"We're disappointed by the French court ruling, but will continue to seek justice in this matter," Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said in Washington. "Efforts to apprehend Kakavand are ongoing and should he come into U.S. custody, he will stand trial for his alleged crimes."
The United States said one of the Iranian companies that finally received the goods had been linked by both the European Union and Washington to nuclear and missile production in Iran.
However, an investigation by the French economy and defense ministries concluded that Kakavand had not broken French law which meant he could not be extradited.
Among the equipment Kakavand bought were sensors, antenna, GPS systems and capacitors.
Iran 'accepts Brazil mediation on nuclear fuel deal'
BBC | May 5, 2010
Iran's president has agreed in principle to accept Brazil as mediator on a deal for providing it with nuclear fuel, Fars news agency reports.
The proposed UN-backed international deal to swap Iran's low enriched uranium for high-enriched nuclear fuel broke down earlier this year.
The idea was to ensure Iran had nuclear fuel for medical purposes, while reducing its bomb-building potential.
Iran denies international claims it is trying to develop atomic weapons.
"In a telephone conversation with his Venezuelan counterpart, [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad agreed in principle to Brazil's mediation over the nuclear fuel deal," the semi-official news agency Fars reported.
The deal was proposed by the US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany.
Under it Iran would be required to ship 1,200 kg (2,646 lb) of low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be converted into fuel to be used to make isotopes for cancer treatment.
Firuzabadi: We have less than a thousand corrupt people
Rooz Online | May 5, 2010
Following the revelations by Majlis deputies that certain government officials, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first deputy, were part of an economic corruption ring, a number of associates of ayatollah Khamenei and members of the ruling elite have not only confirmed the existence of economic corruption in the government and state institutions, but have even come up with a number that they believe comprise those who engage in corrupt practices. That number stands at "less than a thousand individuals."
Hossein Firuzabadi, the chairman of Iran's joint chief of staff claimed that in all there were less than a thousand individuals in the government who engaged in corrupt practices by stealing public assets and for having illegal and corrupt relations in business and economic spheres. "The impact of their crimes is that problems have been created for the public in genera, the deprived and the Mostazafin (the term used in Iran to describe the underdogs).
Firuzabadi who has held this position through a decree from ayatollah Khamenei for some 20 years, and is viewed as a key supporters of Ahmadinejad, made these remarks months after Sadegh Larijani, the head of the country's judiciary announced the existence of an economic corruption ring inside the government involving some senior administration officials. After that, Elias Naderan, a Majlis representative also named Mohammad-Reza Rahim, Ahmadinejad's first deputy as the gang leader of this very corruption ring.
Mahdavi Kani says government bad merchant
Khabar Online | May 5, 2010
The Secretary-General of the Combatant Clerics Society, Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani said the government should stay away from becoming a merchant administration.
"The government must be a good supervisor and programmer and not turn into a merchant and import sugar, cigarettes and etc." I said these things 28 years ago and it was printed in the press. I warned at that time against interpreting Article 44 in a manner that everything would be in the hands of the government. The government is not a good merchant, so everything should not fall into their hands."
"At that time they accused me of repeating the words of capitalists and of supporting capitalists and Americanized Islam. This was while my Islam was neither Americanized nor was I a proponent of capitalism. These were things I thought of, and therefore I advised them to act that way."
Motive determined in Moatamedi stabbing
Tabnak | May 4, 2010
A second operation has been performed on telecommunications minister Seyyed Ahmad Moatamedi. He has since been transferred to ICU.
Moatamedi, who is a professor at Amir Kabir University, was stabbed on campus on Monday, and his assailant was detained by campus security.
An ILNA report said that the assailant, who was a former ATU student, had established a telecommunications company for himself in the city of Karaj in 2004. Following a disagreement with the CEO of Karaj Telco, the suspect attacked the CEO with a screwdriver.
In his initial court hearing the suspect vowed to kill the telecommunications minister.
In 2009, the appeals court sentenced the suspect to prisonm and he attacked Moatamedi during his first temporary leave from prison. Evidence shows that the suspect was able to enter ATU as he was a holder of a student ID.
The report, however, fails to mention how a former student was still in possession of a student ID, as such ID cards are taken back by the university upon the student's graduation.
100 MPs want Nakhjavani gone for slapping pilot
Tabnak | May 4, 2010
Deputy head of the Majlis Article 90 Commission, Hossein Eslami said lawmakers have demanded the removal of the head of the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran for assaulting a wartime pilot.
"A few months back an incident occurred that violated the sanctity of parliament, and that was seeing head of the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran [Reza Nakhjavani] slap wartime pilot."
Eslami said that lawmakers asked the president to remove Nakhjavani from his post due to his inappropriate behavior.
"We expected the president to react to the inappropriate behavior of the head of the Civil Aviation Organization because Nakhjavani slapped someone old enough to be his father."
"Since no action was taken, lawmakers have demanded in a letter signed by 100 representatives, that the president remove Nakhjavani from his position."
Eslami went on to claim that transportation minister Hamid Behbahani is also in favor of dismissing Nakhjavani.
"Lawmakers have sent a copy of their letter of complaint to the Article 90 Commission. We will be summoning him to the commission to explain his actions."
In response to a question about Seyyed Mohammad Khatami lodging a complaint with the Article 90 Commission over being barred from leaving the country, Esmaili said, " We have not received any complaints in this regard.
He added that Khatami had not been barred from leaving the country and would not be barred in the future.
Families of Mousavi aides travel to Qom
Tabnak | May 4, 2010
The families of Mir-Hossein Mousavi's detained aides traveled to Qom once again to meet with Shia Sources of Emulation.
According to Kalameh, the Beheshti-Shirazi, BehzadianNejad and Arabmazar families met with Ayatollah's Vahid Khorasani and Sanei.
Iran begins new military maneuvers in Persian Gulf
AFP | May 5, 2010
Iran on Wednesday kicked off new war games and military maneuvers in the strategic Persian Gulf waters, the country's second military show of force in less than a month.
The exercises reflect Iran's desire to flex its military muscle at a time of a deepening standoff with the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear program. The war games, held annually since 2006, also act as a warning, should U.S. or Israel consider a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
The new maneuvers, dubbed "Velayat 89," are to last eight days in the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman and cover about 97,000 square miles (250,000 square kilometers) of Iranian territorial waters, reported state TV.
In late April, Iran's Revolutionary Guard held five-day maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Iran's leaders have in the past said that if attacked, the country would respond by shutting off the Strait of Hormuz, the mouth of the Gulf through which around 40 percent of the world's oil and gas supplies passes, as well as by attacking American bases in the Gulf.
Navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari was quoted by the TV as saying Wednesday that Iran's Navy, backed by the air force, will "show its might" in the latest exercise.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps expands role in sanctions-hit oil sector
WaPo | May 5, 2010
Taking advantage of the very sanctions directed against it, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps is assuming a leading role in developing the country's lucrative petroleum sector, Western oil executives and Iranian analysts say.
The Guard's engineering companies, replacing European oil firms that have largely abandoned Iran, have been rewarded with huge no-bid contracts. Experts warn that U.S. efforts to prevent international investment in Iran's oil industry are giving the Guard more clout. Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"The Revolutionary Guards are smiling at the idea of new sanctions against Iran," said a Western executive who represents one of the world's largest oil companies. "Sanctions against the industry or preventing foreign companies from selling gasoline to Iran will mean more money, power and influence for the Guards," he said.
In the past, the Guard's role in Iran's petrochemical sector was restricted to related infrastructure projects, including building roads and canals. But now Guard-affiliated companies oversee the development of most oil projects, and they have taken the lead in key parts of the gigantic South Pars liquefied natural gas project in the Persian Gulf town of Asalouyeh, with Chinese companies increasingly acting as subcontractors.
"It will take them longer, and they will be less efficient, but the Iranian oil and gas sector will continue to grow despite the international obstacles," said the oil executive, who has spent years in Tehran.
Iran to import 2.5 bcm net gas in 2010 to meet shortfall: official
Platts | May 5, 2010
The National Iranian Gas Company, or NIGC, expects to export 7.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas and import 10 Bcm in its current calendar year that started March 20, oil ministry news agency Shana reported Wednesday quoting NIGC managing director Javad Owji.
Owji previously said that exports in the 2009 Iranian year stood at over 6.8 Bcm, a 44% increase over the previous year. Iran imported around 5.9 Bcm that year, down 17% over the previous year, he said.
Iran, despite holding the world's second largest natural gas reserves after Russia, imports gas from Turkmenistan and exports to Turkey.
Earlier this week, Iran said its gas exports had doubled in the 40-day period starting late March compared with the same period in the preceding year.
Shana Tuesday quoted Owji as saying the country's gas processing capacity would reach 497.5 million cu m/d in the current year.
In November, the company said it produced 506 million cu m/d of natural gas and consumed 467 million cu m/d.