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Iran Report: July 19, 2005


19 July 2005, Volume 8, Number 28

IRANIAN KURDS RIOT AFTER ACTIVIST SLAIN. Kurds living in Mahabad in western Iran clashed with police after a local activist was reported killed by state security agents, Radio Farda reported on 12 July, citing local journalist Masud Kurdpur. Kurdpur alleged to Radio Farda that "security agents" killed activist Seyyed Kamal Seyyed Qader (known as Shavaneh), whose death provoked clashes on 11 July between police and residents in Mahabad. One person might have been killed in the unrest, Kurdpur suggested.

Shavaneh was a member of the Revolutionary Union of Kurdistan (Yeketi Shorishgerani Kurdistan), kurdishmedia.com reported on 15 July.

Kurdpur told Radio Farda that Qader was arrested for unspecified political activities and the violent police response to the subsequent protest gathering shows that the Iranian government is hardening its attitude to protests. "Unfortunately, now that the elections are over and Mr. Khatami's government is coming to an end, this is a new type of approach that has led to deaths," Kurdpur said. "Most gatherings so far were tolerated."

Kurdpur told Radio Farda on 14 July that local Kurds' angry reaction to the killing of Shavaneh is continuing. Kurdpur told Radio Farda that the authorities asked storekeepers to reopen their businesses, but they have yet to comply with this request. Kurdpur said this is a particularly sensitive time because it coincides with the anniversary of the assassination of Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Qassemlu on 13 July 1989 by Iranian agents. Kurdpur added that federalism in Iraq has had an effect on Iran's Kurdish population, particularly the election of Masud Barzani as president of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the election of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani as Iraq's president.

Kurdishmedia.com reported on 15 July that the unrest was continuing and the authorities had arrested two people, Hussein Amanullah and Kamal Perwyiziyane, in the city of Bukan. A total of about 15 arrests were made. The authorities in Marivan reportedly instructed local telephone call centers, from which people make international calls, to provide them with names of everyone who calls overseas. (Bill Samii, Vahid Sepehri)

SUNNIS CLAIM TO EXECUTE IRANIAN SECURITY AGENT. A purported armed Sunni group in Iran claims to have beheaded an Iranian security agent it captured in Iran last month, and has sent a videotape of the killing to Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah television, Radio Farda reported on 13 July. The authenticity of the tape has not been confirmed and Iranian officials have not commented, the report added. The network broadcast parts of the tape showing masked men moving a knife toward the neck of a kneeling man.

The man may be Shahab Mansuri, an Iranian agent reportedly captured by a group called God's Soldiers of the Sunni Mujahedin, Radio Farda reported. Al-Arabiyah broadcast another video two weeks earlier in which the group demanded that Iran release unspecified Sunni captives to prevent Mansuri's decapitation, Radio Farda reported. The captors then threatened to send Mansuri's head to President-elect Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Radio Farda added that the clothes the captors are seen wearing in the video footage, and the name of their purported leader Abdulmalik Baluchi, indicate that they may be from the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan Province, where Iranian troops and police have clashed with bandits and alleged separatists. (Vahid Sepehri)

WORKERS STRIKE ACROSS IRAN. Workers across Iran staged a two-hour work stoppage on 16 July, ILNA reported. In South Khorasan more than 4,000 people stopped work, 20,000 participated in a peaceful demonstration in Pakdasht and Veramin, and 10,000 Gulistan Province workers (including hospital workers, bus drivers, and factory workers) participated in the stoppage. Similar events occurred in Ardabil, Bushehr, Yazd, and elsewhere.

Ali Alizadeh, who represents workers in Shushtar, said on 15 July that the action is a protest against the Supreme Labor Council's failure to revise payment plans, ILNA reported. This refers to the Labor Ministry's failure to increase the minimum wage from approximately $130 to $200. The nationwide House of Labor, which is the only entity that represents workers' rights, called for the strike. Its secretary-general, Alireza Mahjub, was elected to the legislature in by-elections in mid-June.

A workers' representative, Davud Qaderi, said on 16 July that if the government does not respond to workers' demands there will be a full-day strike "within the next two months," ILNA reported. (Bill Samii)

TEHRAN CLAIMS EXILED OPPOSITION MEMBERS ARE RETURNING. Iranian state television reported on 14 July that in the last 17 months 700 members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) have returned to Iran from exile. The MKO is an armed opposition group that has been based in Iraq since the 1980s; its members were granted "protected status" under the Geneva Convention in July 2004. The U.S. State Department, Canada, and the EU describe the MKO as a terrorist entity. Tehran has offered an amnesty to lower-ranking MKO personnel, but its claim of 700 returnees cannot be independently confirmed. (Bill Samii)

HOSPITALIZED AND JAILED LAWYER WILL NOT SEEK PARDON. Nobel Peace Prize-winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi said on 9 July in Tehran that her client, attorney Nasser Zarafshan, has received prison leave so he can receive treatment for kidney stones, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. Ebadi predicted that his recuperation will take some time. Judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad said Zarafshan's leave could be extended on the basis of a physician's advice.

Homa Zarafshan, the wife of lawyer Nasser Zarafshan, told Radio Farda on 14 July that if her husband and journalist Akbar Ganji acknowledge their errors and request pardons they will be released permanently. Nasser Zarafshan represents the families of dissident intellectuals who were assassinated by Intelligence and Security Ministry personnel in 1998-99, his wife told Radio Farda, and he is defending their rights. Homa Zarafshan said she has seen her husband because he is in the hospital, and that he is still bothered by kidney stones. (Bill Samii)

PRESS DEFENDER CRITICIZES IRANIAN JUDICIARY. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noted in a 9 July statement that Zahra Kazemi died two years ago and her family is still waiting for her remains to be exhumed and returned to Canada (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 14, 21, and 28 July 2003). The press-freedom defender called on the international community to support Canadian efforts that could make Iran fully accountable. Shirin Ebadi, who represents Kazemi's family, accused the Iranian government of organizing "explanation sessions" rather than justice, which would include the conviction of the responsible individuals in a real court. Among the "unanswered questions" described by RSF are the names of Kazemi's interrogators. RSF said the interrogation records were tampered with.

The president of RSF Canada, Tanya Churchmuch, told Radio Farda on 13 July that the Kazemi's death is prompting concerns for the possible fates of hunger-striking journalist Akbar Ganji and Nasser Zarafshan, a detainee who is currently hospitalized. Churchmuch said her group wants Iran's judiciary to release Ganji and other imprisoned dissidents. She said Western diplomats must pressure Iran to release Ganji, but admitted that the country is indifferent to international pressures. Iran, she said, has its own priorities and motives in restricting free speech, and violates human rights to impose such restrictions.

Meanwhile, New York-based Human Rights Watch stated on 13 July that it is "extremely concerned for Ganji's health" and termed the judiciary's refusal to release Ganji for medical treatment "cruel and inhumane." (Bill Samii, Vahid Sepehri)

HUNGER STRIKE FOR 'FREEDOM' AND 'POLITICAL JUSTICE.' "I will continue my hunger strike until death," imprisoned journalist Akbar Ganji says in a letter smuggled out of prison and published in "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" on 11 July. Ganji implied that this extreme action was forced upon him, saying, "I want the world to know that I am not sick, have not started a hunger strike, and that my weight dropped from 77 to 58 kilograms as a result of the torture I underwent last month." Ganji wrote that even if he dies, "the love for freedom and thirst for political justice will not die."

As the imprisoned Ganji's hunger strike entered its 33rd day, Radio Farda reported on 14 July, former legislator Ali-Akbar Musavi-Khoeni said this issue has national ramifications. Radio Farda added that a delegation of legislators was scheduled to visit Ganji, but there have been no subsequent reports about this development.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner and lawyer Shirin Ebadi told Radio Farda on 7 July that Ganji, who is one of her clients, is in great danger. Ganji resumed his hunger strike after returning to prison in early June and he is not taking his medication, Ebadi said. Ebadi thanked expatriate Iranians who have expressed concern over Ganji's condition. She added that international organizations have complained about this situation to the Iranian government, Radio Farda reported, but the government ignores them. She noted that winning the Nobel Peace Prize has given her greater visibility, but she wishes she had won a golden key that could unlock the doors of all the prisons.

Ebadi and Ganji's wife, Masumeh Shafii, have written a letter to the European Union's high representative for common foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, Radio Farda reported on 11 July. In the letter they ask that Solana prevent a repetition of the tragic death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who was beaten to death at Evin prison after being detained for photographing protesters outside the penitentiary. The two women note in their letter that Ganji is suffering from asthma and other ailments. They say he needs specialized medical attention.

Radio Farda also reported that there are calls for a pro-Ganji demonstration in front of Tehran University on 12 July. Signatories of the letter announcing the demonstration, which is available at http://releaseganji.net/CfD.php, include members of the Office for Strengthening Unity and another student organization, former legislators, university lecturers, and journalists.

An estimated 200 people gathered near Tehran University on 12 July to urge the release of Ganji, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported the same day. Police later beat dozens with batons to disperse the crowd, Reuters and ISNA reported. Authorities also arrested some participants who were distributing unspecified leaflets, ILNA reported. The protest was attended by family members and activists including Hashem Aghajari, who has previously criticized Iran's senior clergy, and Abdullah Momeni of the Office for Strengthening Unity. (Bill Samii, Vahid Sepehri)

MUTED OFFICIAL REACTION TO GANJI SITUATION. The official reaction to Ganji's situation has been muted. Judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad on 9 July denied that Ganji is in danger and added that orders have been given for his treatment, IRNA reported. Karimirad said Ganji refuses to let physicians examine him.

The deputy chief of Tehran's Justice Department, Mohammad Salarkia, said on 14 July that physicians visit Ganji two or three times a day and he has received an MRI for a back problem, IRNA reported. Salarkia expressed regret over Ganji's condition but noted that it is of Ganji's making, and he added that prisoners must serve out their sentences. Ganji has almost completed his six-year term, and Salarkia seemed bewildered by this turn of events.

President Mohammad Khatami suggested that Ganji ask the judiciary chief to order his conditional release for having served most of his present sentence, ISNA reported on 13 July. "I hereby ask...[judiciary chief Mahmud Hashemi-]Shahrudi that...Ganji be allowed to use this conditional release," he told reporters.

Tehran reacted more defiantly to a 12 July White House statement that expressed concern over Ganji's health, and stated that he is "only one victim of a wave of repression" and "rights violations" in Iran. It urged the UN and rights activists to pursue his case.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi rejected "meddling" by the White House, adding that the world already "deplores the extensive violation of human rights by America," IRNA reported on 13 July. Assefi described Washington's statement as a reaction to the Iranians' rejection of "[U.S. President George W.] Bush's helpless calls" for them to boycott the June presidential elections, IRNA reported. U.S. officials, he added, "have many times and bitterly experienced the firm and negative response" of Iranians to "interference in Iran's internal affairs."

Assefi separately rejected statements by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld associating Iran with a 12 July bombing in Netanya, Israel, ISNA reported. Continuing "foolish measures" by the United States "have made the world unsafe," Assefi said, adding that U.S. officials should "look for the source of assassinations and terrorism" in Israel and its "savage actions," ISNA reported. (Bill Samii, Vahid Sepehri)

DETAINEES' MOTHER VOICES FEARS. The mother of another detainee, Manuchehr Mohammadi, told ISNA on 12 July that she is worried about her son's well-being, as he might have launched a hunger strike. Mohammadi is in prison for alleged involvement in 1999 riots in Tehran (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 12 July 2004). Mohammadi's mother suggested he begun a hunger strike after prison officials told him he would "absolutely" not be given prison leave. But the head of Evin prison, identified only as Khamizadeh, countered that Mohammadi is neither on hunger strike nor has been denied leave, ISNA reported. (Vahid Sepehri)

NEW POLICE CHIEF ADVOCATES PRIVACY, TRANSPARENCY. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on 10 July appointed Brigadier General Ismail Ahmadi-Moghaddam the country's new police chief, IRNA reported. He succeeds Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who resigned so he could compete in the presidential election. Ahmadi-Moghaddam was the deputy commander of the Basij Resistance Force and commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in greater Tehran, Fars News Agency reported. The new police chief has a Ph.D. in strategic defense and security management.

Ahmadi-Moghaddam is close to President-elect Mahmud Ahmadinejad, "Siyasat-i Ruz" reported on 11 July. According to the daily, Ahmadi-Moghaddam was criticized for his involvement in the presidential campaign.

"Every citizen should feel secure in his private environment," Ahmadi-Moghaddam said at the 13 July ceremony marking his new job as chief of the national police force, ILNA reported. "People's privacy should not be violated under any circumstances." He called for transparency and accountability, as well as professionalism, dynamism, and courtesy.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Nuri, deputy national police commander for criminal investigation, said the police will investigate any reports of torture by investigative agencies, "Mardom Salari" reported on 13 July. Nuri said torture is against the regulations, and then added, "The fact that torture exists in the criminal investigation departments cannot be denied." Forensic and scientific advances make torture unnecessary, Nuri said. The overall crime rate has dropped in the first three months of the year starting in March 2005 compared to one year earlier, he said, but kidnappings, car thefts, and motorcycle thefts have increased. Most of the kidnappings, he said, are connected with efforts to settle drug-related debts. (Bill Samii)

PRESIDENT KHATAMI ACCUSED OF ELECTION COVER-UP. Former parliamentary speaker Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karrubi called in a 10 July letter to outgoing President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami for a recount of the 17 June votes in Tehran and Isfahan, ISNA reported. Karrubi referred to the interference of military and paramilitary personnel, and he said, "any effort to organize a cover-up is doomed to failure."

Karrubi advised Khatami: "You must inform the people that what happened was wrong and was contrary to the most basic democratic principles and violated the people's right to define their own destiny.... The president believes that, for certain reasons, the case should not be publicized." Karrubi noted inexplicable movements in the overall vote count over time.

Khatami said on 10 July that he has received a partial report on election violations and the investigation is continuing, ISNA reported. "I will announce the conclusion later," he said. Presidential adviser Ali Rabii added, "On the basis of the documentary evidence that I have seen so far, I can say that certain institutions were guilty of taking irreligious, illegal, and immoral actions."

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari said on 10 July that the presidential committee investigating election offenses has identified the responsible individuals and submitted the relevant information to the judiciary, ISNA reported. Musavi-Lari referred to the production of offensive election-related materials in Karaj, Tehran, Semnan, and Hamedan. (Bill Samii)

AHMADINEJAD NOTES ELECTION'S IMPACT. President-elect Mahmud Ahmadinejad said on state television on 11 July that the recent presidential election is sufficiently significant that it will have an impact on domestic and foreign affairs. "We want fair relations with the whole world," Ahmadinejad added. "We want justice to prevail inside as well."

The next day, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in Tehran that Iran's recent presidential voting was "the height of democracy" and entailed a "referendum" on its political system, adding that "those who engage in negative publicity about Iran's elections must change, and respect the will of the nation," iribnews.ir and ISNA reported the same day. Kharrazi told a gathering of foreign ambassadors that the "ambivalent" response of "certain states that followed America" to the "process of democracy" in Iran is "an injustice" to Iranians, ISNA reported.

Kharrazi said that "detente and cooperation" with foreign countries remain "Iran's official, firm, and certain policy," which will "continue in the new government." But, he warned, "We shall certainly not have relations with countries that seek to change Iran's system, [and show] hostility and ill will toward" Iranians, and "that is our permanent policy." (Bill Samii, Vahid Sepehri)

IRANIAN CLERICS' RESPONSES TO LONDON BOMBINGS MIXED. Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri on 11 July condemned the terrorist attacks in London four days earlier, ILNA reported. He expressed regret that the attacks occurred in the name of Islam, and added: "Islam is 100 percent against such violence and killings and most of the Muslims in the world hate such crimes. Islam condemns terrorism." Montazeri also expressed concern that these incidents would be used as a pretext for revenge against Muslims.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati discussed the London attacks in his 15 July sermon at the Tehran Friday prayers, state radio reported. "If you want to know who is responsible, you should see who gains the most benefits from it. In 11 September, the Americans gained the most benefit and here again they and the British are trying to benefit the most," he said. He accused the British and the Americans of creating Al-Qaeda.

Jannati dismissed what he described as U.S. and U.K. justifications for being in Iraq and Afghanistan. "What are you doing there? You are either yourself making that place unsafe, or others are making the place unsafe and you are just thinking of looting the Iraqi oil and shedding people's blood." Jannati added: "Oh God, For the sake of Mohammad and his progeny, rid the mankind of these evils. Oh God, save the people from these evils." (Bill Samii)

IRAQI DEFENSE MINISTER'S IRANIAN VISIT PRECEDES PREMIER'S. Iraqi Defense Minister Sa'dun al-Dulaymi briefed reporters in Baghdad on 11 July on the memorandum of understanding signed between Iraq and Iran on security coordination, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported the same day. Al-Dulaymi said that Iran will not train Iraqi troops under the agreement, contradicting Iranian media reports citing Defense Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani.

RFI obtained a copy of the five-point memorandum, signed by al-Dulaymi and Shamkhani and dated 7 July, from the Defense Ministry. The memorandum calls for the establishment of a joint commission to guarantee border security through joint coordination to prevent terrorist infiltration across the Iraq-Iran border; cooperation in locating the remains of victims of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war; and the establishment of a joint commission that will exchange maps and information on minefields existing on both sides of the border. Iran also expressed its readiness to follow through with previous donor commitments for the reconstruction of Iraq, and both sides agreed to support a conference for defense ministers of Iraq's neighboring states to address regional coordination.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari arrived in Iran on 16 July.

Speaking to RFE/RL before the visit, University of Durham professor Anoushiravan Ehteshami, who directs the university's Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies of the Middle East and Central Asia, said that Iran and Iraq could enjoy good relations in the future if the two countries manage to resolve outstanding issues. "If the two countries manage [to demonstrate] that the reemergence of Shi'ites is not a threat -- especially to other Persian Gulf countries and also in Lebanon -- then they can make a big investment in their current relations and they can increase their influence in the Persian Gulf region," he said. "The two countries can also help each other regarding economic issues. Currently, Iraq has a big need for Iran's industry, for example in the energy sector."

Ehteshami went on to say that Iran's relations with the United States will affect future developments. "If the U.S. has military bases and a long-term military presence in Iraq, it would naturally be an issue for Iran. Especially because Iran is pessimistic regarding the U.S. presence in Iraq, because Tehran is worried that Iraq could in the future become a base for a possible attack against Iran, or a base for influencing Iran. Tehran and Baghdad have many common [interests], but if the issues between Iran and the U.S. are not resolved soon, naturally it would prevent further rapprochement between Iran and Iraq." (Kathleen Ridolfo, Golnaz Esfandiari)

UKRAINIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL VISITS IRAN. Petro Poroshenko, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, arrived in Tehran on 11 July, Interfax-Ukraine and the UNIAN reported. He met with Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh and discussed cooperation on energy issues. Poroshenko added that bilateral trade in 2005 is 50 percent higher than it was in 2004. Poroshenko met with Foreign Minister Kharrazi, IRNA reported, and volunteered his country as a gateway for the transit of Iranian gas to Europe.

Poroshenko met with President-elect Ahmadinejad, President Khatami, and Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rohani in Tehran on 12 July, Iranian news agencies reported the same day.

Iran is ready to cooperate with Ukraine in the energy and aerospace sectors, ISNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

Outgoing President Khatami told Poroshenko separately that the joint construction of Antonov-140 passenger planes demonstrates the two countries' ability to cooperate on "new technology" projects, adding that the experience can be successfully applied to shipbuilding or the oil industry, ISNA reported. Khatami expressed hope that his government will reach an "effective and executive" agreement on energy transfers through Ukraine, to be pursued "by the next government."

Rohani told Poroshenko that Iran and Ukraine can cooperate on Middle East security affairs, including in Iraq, ISNA reported. Poroshenko told him Ukraine would welcome joint investment projects to pipe Iranian gas to the European Union. (Bill Samii, Vahid Sepehri)

TAJIK-IRANIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION COMMISSION OPENS IN DUSHANBE. An Iranian delegation led by Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari participated in the opening session of the intergovernmental Tajik-Iranian commission for economic cooperation in Dushanbe on 13 July, Asia-Plus and Avesta reported. An unnamed official from the Tajik Economy and Trade Ministry said on 12 July that the summit would focus on cooperation in the energy, education, transport, agriculture, and finance sectors, according to Asia-Plus. The Iranian delegation is also expected to sign a new agreement on economic cooperation with Tajikistan. Iran has pledged to invest in the construction of a tunnel under the Anzob Pass, north of the capital Dushanbe, and has invested a further $180 million to construct the Sangtuda-2 hydroelectric power station. (Richard Giragosian)

IRAN WANTS NUCLEAR FUEL SELF-SUFFICIENCY. Iranian parliamentarian Kazem Jalali said during an 8 July meeting in Moscow with Russian Atomic Energy Agency Director Aleksandr Rumyantsev that Iran intends to build 20 nuclear power stations in the coming years, Interfax reported, citing a press release from the Iranian Embassy. In light of these plans, Jalali said, it makes sense for Iran to produce its own nuclear fuel. Rumyantsev told his guest that deliveries of nuclear fuel will take place per previously agreed schedules. (Bill Samii)

RADIO FARDA AT IAEA RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS CONFERENCE. Radio Farda provided its listeners special coverage of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) International Conference on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, in Bordeaux, France, from 27 June to 1 July. Radio Farda correspondent Fatemeh Aman attended the conference and reported live on the proceedings every day, with interviews of scientists and government official attending the conference (http://www.radiofarda.com/author/286.html).

The radioactive sources referred to in the title of the conference are very different from nuclear fissile material -- they cannot be converted for use in weapons of mass destruction. They can, however, be employed in the manufacture of "dirty bombs," or bombs made with conventional explosives that are designed to disperse radioactive materials over a wide area. Although "dirty bombs" can cause significant social and economic disruption, it was stressed at the conference; their effect cannot be compared to that of a true nuclear explosion.

While the consequences of a nuclear explosion would be devastating and should therefore be taken very seriously, the probability of terrorists acquiring enough materials for constructing an improvised nuclear bomb is very low. The opposite is true of radioactive sources that could be used in a "dirty bomb": while the consequences, mainly panic rather than high fatalities, are far less serious, radioactive sources are ubiquitous and easily accessible.

There are only a few countries that really possess significant amounts of fissile material, while radioactive sources are used in virtually all countries for medical, research, industrial, and agricultural purposes. Trafficking and handling of radioactive material is far less strictly regulated than that of nuclear materials. As Vilmos Friedrich, conference scientific secretary of IAEA, pointed out to Radio Farda, organizers of the Bordeaux conference hoped it would serve to raise awareness of the need for better control of radioactive materials.

A code of conduct for the safety and security of radioactive sources was approved by the IAEA's board of governors and general conference in 2003. Member states were asked to make unilateral declarations to the director-general. According to the IAEA's Friedrich, this code is not a legally binding document at the moment, but convincing members to make a political commitment to follow the code's guidance would be a big step. Friedrich, who previously helped run the IAEA's program to clean up radioactive materials in the former Soviet Union, told Aman that there is debate about the possibility of moving towards a more legally binding international undertaking.

When asked if an international convention on radioactive sources might be agreed, IAEA Deputy Director-General Tomihiro Taniguchi, who also heads up the agency's Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, told Radio Farda's Aman that this is a matter of policy on the part of IAEA member states. According to Taniguchi, what is very important is that those countries participating in the conference are now ready to share their information, experiences, and knowledge and provide peer review of ideas for controlling radioactive sources. Taniguchi said that he is optimistic and that the issue of how to institutionalize the code of conduct in a legal framework is a matter of the political will and commitment of member states.

Ann MacLachlan, European bureau chief for "Nucleonics Week," described to Radio Farda the new generation of nuclear reactors and explained that the new safety features built into these new reactors are among their most important features.

Iranian scientists and officials also presented papers at the conference. Aman told Radio Farda listeners about a paper presented by scientists with Iran's atomic energy agency that deals with the increase in trafficking of radiological materials into Iran. According to the paper's author, Said Momenzadeh, the rise in trafficking is related to the increased political instability of neighboring countries.

Radio Farda also interviewed Europol official Laszlo Salgo, who explained the various ways Europol works to interrupt the smuggling of radioactive materials, noting cases where radioactive material smuggled from the territory of the former Soviet Union has been seized. According to Joel Grim of the U.S. Department of Energy, some of the funds being used to consolidate and secure high-risk sources of nuclear material in the former Soviet Union are also being used to collect unwanted surplus supplies of lower-level radioactive materials and store them in new, secure facilities.

But solving the problem posed by radioactive material found throughout the former Soviet Union is not an easy task. The head of Ukraine's department regulating the safety of radiation technologies, Volodymyr Holubiev, told Radio Farda's Aman that his country's radon-storage facilities are unable to store more potent radioactive materials. One solution, according to Holubiev, would be to upgrade the storage facilities; another would be to ship the material back to Russia, from where it originally came.

(This article first appeared in RFE/RL's weekly "Focus on Farda." To subscribe, send an e-mail to focusfarda-sub@list.rferl.org)

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