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Heard This Week - 09/15/2006

Heard This Week in Iran
on Radio Farda

(Prague--September 15, 2006) The main topics covered by Radio Farda this week centered on Iran�s nuclear program, providing different viewpoints on the issue, including an exclusive interview with Gregory Schulte and David Albright. On human rights issues, Radio Farda interviewed Joe Stork and Mehrangiz Kar about Valiollah Feyz-Mahdavi�s death. There were reports about the closing down of newspapers, featuring an interview with Sahmsollah Shamsolvaezin. There was extensive coverage of the September 11 anniversary, which included an interview with an Iranian human rights activist, Shahram Hashemi.

>> Radio Farda�s coverage of the nuclear issues this week included reports about the negotiations between Ali Larijani and Javier Solana on September 5 in which Ali Larijani stated that the Islamic Republic would eventually suspend enriching uranium for two months. Radio Farda interviewed Gregory Schulte, the US Ambassador to the IAEA on September 12 in which he stressed the necessity for a suspension of the uranium enrichment.

David Albright, a nuclear expert at the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, DC in an interview with Radio Farda on September 12 considered the motivations of the Islamic Republic�s most recent position. The following is a summary of his comments: �I think Iran just thinks of the IAEA as a bunch of spies,�� �while the IAEA is an international organization that defines for itself how a country is in compliance or doesn�t have undeclared activity. What you want to have is the IAEA resolve these questions about Iran�s past nuclear activities separate from the negotiations about whether Iran is going to give up enrichment or not. I think the Europeans would probably like a freeze and some negotiations, rather than moving for sanctions, and particularly when the U.S-- which claimed it had consensus-- doesn�t appear to have it. Russia is balking; China seems to be balking.�

On September 6, other viewpoints about this issue included German Chancellor Angela Merkel who once again emphasized the need for negotiation and not military alternatives as a solution for Iran�s nuclear issue. Radio Farda reported on September 6 that Stuart Levey, the U.S Undersecretary of the Treasury traveled to Europe to find ways to stop the Islamic Republic�s financial support for terrorist organizations. That same day, Radio Farda reported on the comments of Philipe Gonzales, the former Prime Minister of Spain, who considers Iran�s nuclear program to be peaceful. His position has aroused controversy in Spain's media, as reported on September 5.

>> The human-rights issues covered by Radio Farda included reports and interviews about the new period of suppression of the press in Iran. Coverage included an exclusive interview with Isa Saharkhiz on September 13 in which he explained that his criticism is directed at the Supreme Leader of Iran out of principle, and not self interest as a journalist. Saharkhiz noted Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's recent objections to the limits imposed on the press, and his statement that this repression is against the interests of the country. Sarharkhiz concluded that if a person like Rafsanjani, has to react openly against this repression, it shows that "the sound of fascism" is clearly heard now in Iran.

The Ministry of Islamic Guidance has issued a directive to press publications banning them from quoting news sources not part of an approved list. On September 6, Radio Farda interviewed Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, the spokesman of the Association for Defending Press Freedom. He called the present time "one of the darkest periods of suppression in the last hundred years in Iran." On September 4 Radio Farda reported that the newspaper, "Shargh" was closed down.

Radio Farda also continued its reports and interviews on the death of Valiollah Feyz-Mahdavi. On September 8, Radio Farda interviewed Mehrangiz Kar, the independent human-rights activist, about Valiollah Fezy-Mahdavi. She stated that it was not important if Mahdavi died of a hunger strike or committed suicide. The point is that the persons in charge of the prison are responsible for prisoners� lives, no matter if the prisoner is still a defendant or a convict. On September 7, Radio Farda interviewed Joe Stork, the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, about Valiollah Feyz-Mahdavi. He said the Iranian government was responsible for the death of the political prisoners, Valiollah Feyz-Mahdavi and Akbar Mohammadi. On September 11, Radio Farda reported Khalil Bahramian, Akbar Mohammadi�s lawyer, was summoned, charged with insulting the government. In an interview with Radio Farda later that day, he said that his comments about his clients in interviews were based on the Islamic Republic�s Constitution which bans putting prisoners under psychological pressure. He said he has been interrogated once.

For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit: -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran

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