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Ahmadinejad on TV: 'Our Banking System Is Not Controlled by Anyone'

05 Oct 2011 18:40Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

ameneh_zanganeh_61.jpg6:40 p.m., 13 Mehr/October 5 Also from our columnist Muhammad Sahimi:

Ameneh Zanganeh, a graduate student of polymer engineering at Amir Kabir University (Tehran Polytechnic), passed away two days ago in a school dormitory as a result of what university officials are calling "suffocation." Apparently, she died after breathing poisonous gas produced by acid. The school's Muslim Students Association has issued a statement condemning Dr. Hamid Reza Rahaei, the hardline chancellor of the university, and demanding his immediate resignation.

Zanganeh's death prompted a second day of protests on campus. The students shouted against Rahaei and called for him to step down. Rahaei did meet with student representatives, but rejected all of their demands, including his resignation and referral of the case to the judiciary to identify responsibility for Zanganeh's death. He said they should wait on an autopsy first.

Bultan [Bulletin] News, a website closely associated with the security forces, reported the arrest of 25 music video producers who made clips for foreign-based satellite TV stations. They have been accused of producing "trash music" for singers and "underground music groups" in the holy city of Mashhad. Without naming them, the website reports that among those arrested are two "well-known music directors and producers."

img_606X341_0510-iranian-journalists.jpgTwo journalists were arrested in their homes: Ali Akrami, a nationalist-religious journalist, and Mehdi Afshar Nik, a reporter for Mehdi Karroubi's daily mouthpiece Etemad-e Melli before it was banned, who was also active in Karroubi's 2009 presidential campaign. Akrami had been arrested in 2003 as well. A third journalist, Mohammad Heydari, a nationalist-religious activist, was also arrested.
* * *

1:40 p.m., 13 Mehr/October 5 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:
AhmjadOctTV1.jpgOn Tuesday night, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared on a national television broadcast and talked about several major issues. He claimed that one reason his visit to the United Nations in September was very important was that "over the past five to six months we have been witnessing a lot of negative propaganda against the government [his administration]. They were saying that the Iranian nation and people have become weaker, and Iran cannot be influential this year [at the U.N.]. In fact, we witnessed a soft war. [Thus] one must speak in this arena [the U.N.] at a very high level and have very convincing responses to precise questions."

Regarding relations with the United States, Ahmadinejad said, "Our position is clear. The relationship is conditional, not conditioned on our national conditions, but on fair and humane conditions, and relations must be based on respect and fairness. We have always supported relations, but our relationship with the USA is conditional." He added, regarding the proposed hotline between Washington and Tehran, "We support anything that prevents a clash, but the fundamental solution is that you [the U.S.] take your navy out of the Persian Gulf if you really are concerned about its security. The Persian Gulf did not have any problem. If there were, the countries of the region would address it by themselves. Who invited you [the U.S.] here?"

Regarding unemployment and his administration's promise that it will create 2.5 million new jobs by the end of the current Iranian year, which ends next March 20, Ahmadinejad said, "We will either achieve it or get very close to it.... We have achieved 40-45 percent of [the target] over the first half of the year."

AhmjadOctTV2.jpgWhen asked about energy consumption, Ahmadinejad responded, "Before putting in place targeted subsidies [subsidy cuts], the daily consumption of gasoline in the country was 63 million barrels [actually 63 million liters], but it is now 59 million, whereas the number of cars and motorcycles have increased significantly over the same period. Energy consumption will be reduced further by the end of the year because the travel season is over. We are currently exporting ten million barrels [actually liters] a day [of gasoline] to a neighboring country."

Regarding the embezzlement case involving nearly $3 billion, Ahmadinejad said, "I have been speaking about our banking system for six years and have been rebuked for it. We see things and believe that they should be reformed, and we will begin fundamental reforms before this administration ends [in 2013]. Right from the beginning [of my presidency], we kept saying that there are problems and I have said repeatedly that a few can profit greatly, but common people cannot. The fact is our banking system is not controlled by anyone, and the government has no control over it [either]. I am not saying nothing can be done, but sometimes certain regulations are approved without paying attention to their consequences."

Speaking directly about his critics, Ahmadinejad said, "If the system [his administration] was not willing to confront [corruption], one could complain. But the system itself has discovered [the embezzlement], persists, and seeks to punish the offenders.... But I believe some are taking revenge against the Iranian nation, which acted very well. The targeted subsidies demonstrated that the future is bright. The Iranian nation makes great decisions, carries out great plans, [takes] great steps, whether in industry, or agriculture, or science. The nation can move forward and stand at the top. But some come forward and by insulting the government and making accusations, take revenge against the people, whereas nothing [unusual] is going on and we are doing our job. Why are you [critics] destroying yourselves? We should live in this country, and be happy and hopeful. Why are you trying to ruin everything? We have of course declared that we keep silent. We are still silent. These [accusations] all have responses, but we have kept silent for the sake of the nation."

AhmjadOctTV3.jpgRegarding developments in the Islamic Republic's nuclear energy and technology program, Ahmadinejad said, "Our nuclear program has two parts. One is producing power [energy], and the second part is [uranium] enrichment and peaceful use [of nuclear technology] in agriculture, medicine, and industry. We are getting ready for the ceremony for bringing the [Bushehr] nuclear power plant online, and will invite the heads of states of some countries, including Russia. This power plant produces 1,000 megawatts of the 20,000 megawatts that we intend to produce by nuclear plants by 2025. We are currently negotiating the construction of other [nuclear] power plants. The construction of this power plant became political and a European country [Germany] that was supposed to construct it did not. In the enrichment sector, our activities are continuing. There are 16-17 applications of [nuclear technology and low-enriched uranium] that we hope to use and benefit from. In an interview in the United States, I said that if we are supplied with 20 percent enriched uranium [for the Tehran Research Reactor], we will stop its production, and this was interpreted as us retreating, whereas we said the same at the very beginning, because producing this fuel is expensive for us."

Hardline cleric Mojtaba Zolnour -- former deputy to cleric Ali Saeedi, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- said that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and close confidant, is "not at the helm of the 'perverted group'" -- the hardliners' catchphrase for Mashaei's inner circle -- "but someone else is whom I do not wish to name at this time." He said that the upcoming Majles elections, to be held next March, are particularly important. He predicted, "Given the current efforts by the perverted group, it will have some representatives in the next Majles. Of course, if people recognize their candidates, they will not vote for them, but the group is currently working in the shadows."

As noted by Tehran Bureau, 11 Majles deputies filed a complaint with the parliament's leadership against Ahmadinejad that could, in theory, lead to his impeachment. However, Hossein Nejabet, one of the 11, said on Tuesday that the group has decided to set the complaint aside, because Khamenei has called for calmness so that the multibillion-dollar embezzlement case and other instances of financial corruption can be investigated. He did say that the Article 90 Commission, which investigates citizens' complaints against government officials, is studying the issue.

Reformist Majles deputy Dariush Ghanbari said that the true rate of unemployment is close to 30 percent. He added that the statistics that are presented by the Ahmadinejad administration differ from those reported by the Central Bank. "When we ask about the differences, the response is that the definitions [of employment and unemployment] differ," said Ghanbari. He added that the unemployment statistics presented by the administration "are low because they count soldiers and university students as employed and an active part of the population. Last year the unemployment during summer was said to be 14.5 percent. They now say it was 6.5 percent. Where do such statistics come from?"

Fourteen human rights activists who are practicing Muslims have protested the sentencing of Christian preacher Yousef Nadarkhani to death for apostasy. Referring to themselves as "believers in the religion of the pure [Prophet] Muhammad," their statement said that Article 23 of the Constitution prohibits "inquisition" and declares that "no one can be the subject of attack or interrogation due only to his beliefs." The statement asks, "Does Nadarkhani's conversion to Christianity shake and weaken the foundations of Islam, or the blind violence that is used against him in the name of Islam? Does the exit of a person from one Godly religion and his belief in another Godly religion weaken the foundations of Islam, or the track records of those who, in the name of the religion [Islam], with boots on their feet [the military] trample through the blood and tears of the oppressed so that they can climb up the power ladder?"

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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