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Iran Report: June 16, 2003

16 June 2003, Volume 6, Number 25

VIGILANTISM FUELS TEHRAN PROTESTS... The Iranian government is dealing with mid-June protests by university students in Tehran and other cities by arresting people and creating scapegoats. This is nothing new. The significance of these protests is in the attention they draw to hard-line vigilantes there.

Some 3,000 Iranians shouted antigovernment slogans on 10 and 11 June after police surrounded a Tehran University student dormitory, Reuters reported. The protests originated against privatizing some of Iran's universities, AP reported, but eventually became directed against Iran's ruling clerics. "The clerical regime is nearing its end," AP reported some protestors as chanting, and others called on President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami to step down.

The Iranian Constitution guarantees universal education, and so far, students do not pay tuition. The term "privatization" is inaccurate, however, according to 12 June reports from "Yas-i No" and "Aftab-i Yazd." Science and Technology Minister Mustafa Moin said that his ministry opposes transferring government universities to the private sector. The ratio of young people who have access to higher education is much lower than in developed countries, he said, and he noted that many Iranians who pursue graduate studies in other countries pay a great deal of money. Under the proposed plan, students could be admitted to master's degree programs if they pay tuition, and this would lower their expenses, keep the money in Iran, and increase Iranians' access to higher education.

After student protests started on the Tehran campus on 10 June, people gathered at a square near the campus after hearing calls to do so by Los Angeles-based Iranian-exile satellite-television channels, Reuters reported. In the early hours of 11 June, riot police armed with batons, members of the Basij militia, and plainclothes security men dispersed the demonstrators, AFP reported.

The protests continued at Tehran University and Shahid Beheshti University during the night of 11-12 June, according to dpa.

Tehran University Vice Chancellor Ali Asqar Khoda-Yari told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on 12 June that hard-line vigilantes riding motorcycles gathered off-campus and provoked the students by chanting "offensive slogans." They then threw rocks at the students, who retaliated in kind and by tossing Molotov cocktails. The police and campus officials managed to stop the stone throwing, Khoda-Yari said, but some of the vigilantes continued to hang around in the street. Khoda-Yari criticized the police for not keeping the vigilantes and the students apart. According to AP, the police joined the hard-liners in stone throwing. An estimated 50 hard-line vigilantes -- members of the Ansar-i Hizbullah -- were gathered in the streets, according to dpa, while the students shouted antiregime slogans.

More clashes between students, vigilantes, and police took place at Tehran University and Shahid Beheshti University on the night of 12-13 June. Demonstrators mistook two bearded individuals for hard-line vigilantes and destroyed their motorcycles, and more stone throwing occurred, according to the Fars News Agency. Moreover, according to the Amir Kabir University website (, demonstrators chanted for the freedom of political prisoners, and they also chanted for a referendum. Students spilled into the streets surrounding the campus and raided some nearby buildings. The size of the crowd was larger than on the previous nights, but police refused to allow foreign journalists onto the campus. Order was restored by 5 a.m., according to Fars.

Arrests were made after protests across the street from Tehran University on the night of 13-14 June, according to state radio on 14 June. Around 100 people gathered near Tehran University that night, chanted antiregime slogans, blocked roads, and damaged people's cars, state television reported on 14 June. That same evening, police entered the dormitory at Shahid Beheshti University and detained two students, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported on 14 June, and there were clashes at Allameh Tabatabai University. Another demonstration took place at Allameh Tabatabai later in the day, according to ILNA, and there was a gathering at Khajeh Nasir Tusi University.

The original demonstrations, over the possibility of paying fees, appear to have been spontaneous. The involvement of outsiders appears to have thrown the situation into turmoil. Many Iranian officials are blaming the United States (see below), but the agitation appears to be homegrown and can be traced to the club-wielding vigilantes -- euphemistically called "pressure groups" -- who recently attacked reformist-leaning students at universities in Hamedan, Isfahan, and Tehran (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 19 and 26 May 2003).

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a 12 June speech at Veramin blamed the student demonstrators for attracting vigilante attackers, whom he warned not to "enter the arena when others pave the way for riots." In the remarks, reported by Iran's state radio, Khamenei apparently believes the students aim to discredit their attackers by provoking "riots and insecurity and then blame the committed [Muslim] youth as the culprit." Khamenei also warned the students that they would be crushed if they went too far: "Should the Iranian nation decide to take action against the rioters, it would do the same as 23 Tir 1378 [14 July 1999, when student demonstrations were quashed and organized counter-rallies took place]."

Khamenei made the same threat last autumn, when he said that popular forces would act if the demonstrations on behalf of scholar and political activist Hashem Aghajari went too far. Nor is this a hollow threat. Deputy Education Minister Ali Zarifian told a 13 June gathering of students that he was a student during the events of 1999 and he was beaten by the police and by the Ansar-i Hizbullah thugs, Fars news agency reported. He said the police now have a more gentle approach thanks to commander Morteza Talai, but that people like Talai could resign or be dismissed if the situation continues. Zarifian urged the students to discontinue their protests because of the potential losses that they could incur. (Bill Samii, Steve Fairbanks)

...WHICH SPREAD TO OTHER CITIES. Clashes took place at Shahid Chamran Boulevard in Shiraz on the night of 13-14 June, after a gathering marking a soccer match succumbed to agitation by what ISNA termed "opponents of the Iranian political system." Shiraz Governor Heidar Iskandarpur said, ISNA reported in 14 June, that there was damage to police vehicles, the municipal nursery, an art gallery, several stores, and some traffic lights. Some 100 people were arrested and those who caused damage will have to pay compensation, he said. Four members of the law-enforcement forces were injured seriously, and in what Iskandarpur described as an unrelated case, a man was killed. "Naturally foreign media played a part in these gatherings," Iskandarpur claimed. "They provoke the people."

Sporadic demonstrations occurred in Shiraz in the evening of 14-15 June, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on 15 June.

The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran reported on the same day that three Shirazis -- Farid Ghahremani, Parviz Ghahremani, and Gheysar Barani -- were arrested in the evening of 12 June after 14-year-old Reza Keshavarz falsely confessed under pressure that these individuals are "pro-American."

A rally took place in the Kianpars neighborhood of the southern city of Ahvaz at about 10 p.m. on 13 June, ISNA reported. The young participants in the rally said that they were supporting student protests elsewhere. Members of the Ansar-i Hizbullah pressure group confronted the demonstrators, the police and security forces had to intervene, and the police arrested some people.

Clashes near Isfahan's Chaharbagh Avenue and the Isfahan University began at 10 p.m. on 13 June and continued the next day. Presumed Ansar-i Hizbullah members equipped with batons and radios clashed with demonstrators and police, ISNA reported on 14 June. Demonstrators blocked streets and clashed with police the next day, IRNA reported on 15 June. (Bill Samii)

NOT ALL ARRESTS MADE BY POLICE. A number of people involved in the campus protests have been detained by the security forces -- and by unofficial groups as well.

Minister of Intelligence and Security Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi said on 11 June, according to ISNA, "The individuals concerned were chanting illegal slogans owing to provocation by foreign elements and extremists and radicals inside the country." Yunesi also said that America had provoked the incident, and "they even set up agitation headquarters made up of 19 people, who have been identified and arrested." Presumably, their "confessions" will be televised soon, which is what happened after the July 1999 student demonstrations.

Tehran University students claimed on 12 June that only four of the 16 students detained over the past two nights were arrested by the police, according to the Baztab news site ( This implies that the others were detained by Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) personnel, other security units, or vigilantes. Baztab went on to report that plainclothes MOIS personnel are moving about the campus. ILNA reported on 13 June that nonuniformed personnel entered a Tehran University dormitory and removed one of the students. Some 50 vigilantes stationed along North Kargar Avenue were arresting suspicious individuals, according to ISNA on 14 June.

Hard-line vigilantes -- the Ansar-i Hizbullah -- allegedly are responsible for much of the violence. Tehran Prosecutor-General Said Mortazavi issued a warrant for Hizbullah associate Said Asghar and several companions, Fars News Agency reported on 14 June.

The students, for their part, detained several of the hard-line vigilantes. According to the Amir Kabir University website ( on 12 June, they intend to hold them until their fellow students are released.

The detainees were identified as police Sergeants Ahmad Saidi and Sadeq Zahedifar, driver Reza Ruzbehani, cobbler Siavash Kazemzadeh, and fruit seller Ali Noruzi, according to ISNA on 13 June. Three more Ansar-i Hizbullah members who were detained by the students were identified as Majid Bijanlu, Mehdi Farshbaf, and Abdullah Osareh, according to the "Toseh" newspaper on 14 June. ILNA reported that students were holding 14 Hizbullah members, the "Financial Times" reported on 14 June. (Bill Samii)

REFORMISTS CRITICIZE HARD-LINE 'PRESSURE GROUPS.' The conservative faction's "pressure groups" have their defenders. Hard-line Islamic Coalition Association representative Hamid Reza Taraqi said in a 9 June interview with the Fars News Agency (, "There are certain factions that believe that the course of their existence, and presence, depends on their embroilment in conflict with the pressure groups." He continued, "They see themselves, and their renewed presence, as dependent on the provocation of the pressure groups."

Several reformist politicians and journalists did not sugarcoat their condemnation of the "pressure groups." Tehran parliamentarian and former Labor Minister Abolqasem Sarhadi-Zadeh, in an interview with ILNA published on 11 June by the reformist Tehran daily "Aftab-i Yazd," explained that "in mental terms the pressure groups are extremely feeble-minded." He warned that these are individuals whose "mouths are like the gates of hell and have learned nothing except violence, hatred, and curse." He called on the country's clerics to control the pressure groups and "shut those mouths."

Though the "pressure groups" are mostly affiliated with the anti-U.S. conservative faction, some pro-reformists try to discredit them as benefiting America. University lecturer Dr. Jafar Habibzadeh, for example, in an interview published by the reformist daily "Mardom Salari" on 11 June, said that whatever their affiliation, the pressure groups are "pleasing America, which says that there is no right to speak or to hold lawful gatherings in the Islamic Republic of Iran and that the people's representative does not have the right to express an opinion. Does America want anything else but unrest under such conditions? These are people who secure America's objectives. They are either foolish or American elements." (Steve Fairbanks)

KHATAMI SPEECH IN NORTHEAST CANCELED DUE TO RIOT FEARS. The supreme leader's representative in Khorasan Province, Ayatollah Abbas Vaez-Tabasi, and provincial officials greeted President Khatami, Minister of Roads and Transport Ahmad Khoram, Minister of Industry and Mines Ishaq Jahangiri, and Minister of Energy Habibullah Bitaraf when they arrived at Mashhad's Shahid Hashemi-Nejad Airport on 8 June. The president told reporters that he intended to inaugurate several development projects that would help the province's progress, IRNA reported. The president's trip did not go as smoothly as he may have wished, however.

Khatami opened an aluminum-oxide complex in Jajarm on 9 June, IRNA reported. But his subsequent speech was canceled, due to fears that ethnic tension could erupt among locals, the Baztab website reported.

It is notable that during a speech in Bojnurd, another Khorasan Province town, Khatami called on the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the judiciary, the law-enforcement forces, and the provincial security council to stop agitators and rioters. Khatami said, according to ISNA, that this is a particularly sensitive time for Iran because "a foreign enemy covets our resources and we are facing countless problems." Khatami called for unity, and he expressed the need for freedom of expression. Khatami returned to Tehran in the evening of 9 June. (Bill Samii)

KHORASAN PROVINCE STUDENTS STAGE PROTEST. Students at the Islamic Azad University in the northeastern city of Kashmar staged a sit-in on 10 June to protest a ban on holding a meeting to discuss a play entitled "The Tumult of Justice," ISNA reported. The students objected to the ban and demanded to speak to the university chancellor. They waited for three hours and then spoke to the vice chancellor. It was decided to hold an open meeting at which university administrators would explain their actions. (Bill Samii)

MASHHAD HARD-LINER ARRESTED -- AGAIN. Iranian government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh said at an 11 June press conference that police in Mashhad arrested eight people and would turn them over to the judiciary, IRNA reported.

Security and law enforcement forces on 10 June arrested Hamid Ostad, leader of the hard-line vigilante group Ansar-i Hizbullah, and three other members of the group in Mashhad, ISNA reported. They were arrested for giving "verbal warnings" to protesters at Khorasan Province's Governorate-General Building.

ISNA did not indicate what the original protests were about, but Ansar-i Hizbullah issued a statement saying the offending protestors were "seeking to question Islam, the law, and revolution, by way of chanting insulting slogans."

The Ansar members were outraged that "the innocent seminarian, Hamid Ostad, and several other propagators of virtue and prohibitors of vice, who were merely carrying out their religious duty" were arrested, "while those who engage in unlawful and offensive acts run free." The group demanded the release of their "brothers" and the arrest of "those who perpetrated the vice -- and not only the perpetrators but also their leaders."

This is not the first time that Ostad and his band of merry men have been arrested for their hijinks. Ostad was arrested and tried in summer 2001 because he and his associates disrupted a performance by comedian Hamid-Reza Mahisefat, who is known as "Iran's Mr. Bean," and he was arrested again in December 2002 for disrupting a speech at Mashhad's Medical College (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 27 August and 3 September 2001, 23 December 2002). (Bill Samii, Steve Fairbanks)

TEHRAN BLAMES EVERYTHING ON U.S. Rather than looking inward and trying to address the issues that concern the student protestors, Tehran is blaming outside sources. Hojatoleslam Mohammad Hassan Abuturabi, the supreme leader's representative at Tehran University, said that outsiders tried to exploit the incident, ISNA reported on 11 June. And state television reported on 11 June, "the Western media have magnified the whole thing." Intelligence and Security Minister Yunesi said on 11 June that the U.S. had provoked the incidents (see above), and commander Talai of the police said on 13 June that "foreign agents are trying to cause agitation and start a popular movement," ISNA reported.

During his 12 June speech in Veramin, Supreme Leader Khamenei said that the enemy is using propaganda in an effort to cause despair among the Iranian people, because it recognizes that conventional warfare would fail. He added: "You hear the American officials saying that their policy towards Iran is not war. Yes, they are telling the truth...war in Iran is not the same as war in Iraq. Here a whole nation is standing against them -- a nation as brave and as great as this will give the aggressor a hell of a time."

In another speech in Veramin the same day, according to state radio, Khamenei said that the U.S. is inciting unrest in the universities in order to hinder research activities. He claimed that America resents losing its monopoly over the knowledge required for nuclear know-how, according to state radio.

The view that the U.S. is responsible for the unrest in Iran is not confined to officialdom. State television interviewed a number of students on 14 June, and they claimed that what started out as a dispute over the possibility of paying tuition succumbed to the agitation of outside forces. According to a student named Dehqan, "some people who favor and are affiliated to America came to take advantage of the just demands of the students." The student interviewees made other claims: "America has been exaggerating [such events] for years; they did the same thing on previous occasions;" and "The aim of the Western media is to create discord between students and to undermine our nation and country."

Washington has taken note of the past week's events in Iran, if not perhaps for the absurd reasons cited by Supreme Leader Khamenei. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on 12 June, according to RFE/RL: "It's our hope that the voice of the Iranian people and their call for democracy and the rule of law will be heard and transform Iran into a force for stability in the region. We view with concern the arrests of protesters taken into detention simply for voicing their political views and we expect the regime to protect their human rights and release them."

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi referred to Boucher's comments as interference in Iranian affairs, IRNA reported on 14 June. He added that the U.S. is selective: "They regard massive demonstrations in Western countries and America itself as the result of democracy but they cite limited demonstrations in Tehran as being for democracy."

U.S. comments about Iran earlier in the week also agitated Tehran. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Fox News on 8 June said that "a lot of churning" is taking place inside Iran, where there is "a very young population that realizes that its political and religious leaders are not pointing it in the right direction toward a better future." Powell urged Iran's youth to "put pressure on your political leaders and your religious leaders to allow more innovation within the Iranian society, within the Iranian economy, to start changing the policies of the past."

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on 10 June responded, "If the United States desires friendship with Iran, it would naturally be expected not to interfere in Iranian domestic affairs," IRNA reported. Kharrazi said that Washington should be aware that Iranian history has shown that the people become united whenever exposed to foreign interference. (Steve Fairbanks, Bill Samii)

GUARDIANS, PARLIAMENT BEGIN NEGOTIATIONS ON BILLS. The Iranian parliament and the Guardians Council, which vets all legislation on Islamic and constitutional grounds, have begun negotiations to resolve a dispute over two controversial bills submitted by the executive branch, IRNA reported on 9 June. One of these bills calls for a reduction in the Guardians Council's ability to "supervise" elections, a power that it uses to reject candidates. The other bill would increase presidential powers over other governmental institutions.

Legislator Mohsen Tarkashvand said the Guardians Council is behaving in a cooperative manner. Tarkashvand said the Guardians Council has agreed to relinquish the extra powers granted by the fifth parliament for vetting candidates, and it will concentrate on supervising elections. Discussions on the presidential-powers bill, which would empower the executive branch to ignore judicial verdicts it finds unconstitutional, are scheduled for 10 June, according to Tarkashvand. (Bill Samii)

EMBATTLED PROFESSOR TO FINISH SENTENCE IN TEHRAN. Political activist and university professor Hashem Aghajari, who was imprisoned in the summer of 2002 after being convicted of giving a blasphemous speech, is to be transferred from Hamedan to Tehran to serve out the rest of his sentence. The scholar's wife announced this news on 7 June, according to ISNA, as Aghajari returned to Hamedan after finishing a two-week prison leave. "Aghajari will definitely be transferred to Tehran and the only reason that he returned to Hamedan was to call in and resolve administrative issues regarding his transfer to Tehran," she said. (Bill Samii)

CONSERVATIVES SET UP 'BRAINSTORMING' CLUB, REACH OUT TO YOUTH. The hard-line conservative Islamic Coalition Association has established a political club for "talks," the conservative Tehran daily "Resalat" reported on 9 June. The director-general of the new club, Hamid Reza Taraqi, said it would be a "venue for debate and brainstorming" that would attract the younger generation to the country's political scene. This expanded political development would "create peace in the arena of political rivalry," "Resalat" reported. The club's first session was to be held on 10 June, during which two "political personalities" were scheduled to debate whether there is a need for political talks. (Steve Fairbanks)

TEHRAN COURT SUSPENDS SUPREME LEADER'S DAILY. A Tehran court on 9 June suspended the "Kayhan" daily newspaper for one day -- 10 June -- IRNA reported. Tehran Prosecutor Hojatoleslam Said Mortazavi complained that "Kayhan" -- which is affiliated with the office of the Supreme Leader -- insulted the Iranian legislature when it recently reported that a raging bovine stampeded through the Yemeni legislature, injuring several people. "Kayhan" editorialized that "this is not so strange, because in a country where candidates are not checked in any way, any cow can get into parliament," in an apparent jibe about draft legislation that would modify the Guardians Council's power to vet candidates for elected office (see item above).

"Kayhan" Managing Editor Hussein Shariatmadari told ILNA that he is rejecting the verdict, because a newspaper should be allowed to continue publishing until the charges are explained to the accused and the investigation is concluded. "Moreover, we believe that we have not committed any offenses," Shariatmadari said.

A total of 85 publications, including 41 dailies, have been closed since April 2000. Nevertheless, Shariatmadari should consider himself lucky. Iran is referred to as "the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East" in the annual Reporters Without Borders "Freedom of the Press Throughout the World" report ( (Bill Samii)

AZERI-IRANIAN JOURNALIST SENTENCED TO PRISON. A court in Iran's northwestern Ardabil Province has sentenced ethnic Azeri journalist Ali Suleimani to five years in prison or a 10-year internal exile in Rasht, Baku's "Ekspress" newspaper reported on 10 June. In addition, after serving his sentence, Suleimani will not be allowed to visit Azerbaijan for 10 years. Suleimani worked for the "Shams-i Tabriz" newspaper. "Shams-i Tabriz" was closed in late December for stirring up "ethnic divisions," and its owner, Ali Hamed Iman, was sentenced to 74 lashes and a suspended two-year prison sentence (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 13 January 2003). (Bill Samii)

JUDICIARY SPOKESMAN EXPLAINS WEBSITE FILTERING. Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hussein Elham explained that a lack of adequate, government-imposed filtering would "pollute the climate" of Internet sites, so that those seeking information would be put off from using the sites and as a result be deprived of their natural rights to gain knowledge, according to an interview with the Fars News Agency published by the Tehran daily "Aftab-i Yazd" on 10 June. Elham explained that an advisory committee of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council would take charge of filtering.

Elham listed more than 20 matters that would likely be filtered, including "the dissemination of blasphemous items; ...insulting Islam and Islamic sanctities; opposing the constitution and publishing any item that might undermine the independence and the territorial integrity of the country; insulting the leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] and the sources of emulation [leading clerics]; ...[distorting] the values of the Islamic revolution and the principles of the political thought of Imam Khomeini; undermining national unity and solidarity; creating pessimism and hopelessness among the people regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of the [Islamic] system; providing publicity for illegal groups and political parties; ...propagating prostitution and forbidden acts; publishing pictures and photographs that are contrary to public morality; ... providing publicity for smoking cigarettes and the taking of narcotics; ...making false accusations against any of the officials or ordinary members of the society; insulting individuals or organizations; and creating any unidentified radio or television network and program without the supervision of the Voice and Vision Organization [radio and television]." (Steve Fairbanks)

JAPANESE INDUSTRIALISTS ARRESTED FOR EXPORTING MILITARY GOODS TO IRAN. Tokyo police arrested Haruhiko Ueda, president of the engineering machinery firm Seishin Enterprise Company, and four other individuals on 12 June for illegally exporting missile-related equipment to Iran, "Yomiuri Shimbun" and NHK television reported. Two jet mills, which are used for developing missile fuel, and related equipment allegedly were exported to an Iranian military-goods firm and the military research institute of an Iranian engineering college in May 1995 and November 2000, without authorization from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Seishin Enterprise Company employees admitted during police interrogation that they knew the jet mills would be used to grind a missile propellant called ammonium perchlorate, Tokyo's Jiji Press news agency reported on 14 June. (Bill Samii)

TEHRAN DENIES UN INSPECTORS ACCESS TO NUCLEAR SITE. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi expressed the hope, according to state television on 9 June, that Iran's "readiness to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]" and its transparency would resolve concerns about its nuclear activities. Yet IAEA inspectors who arrived in Iran on 7 June left the country abruptly on 11 June, according to "The Wall Street Journal" on 12 June. The IAEA team reportedly left because Iranian officials would not give it access to the Kalaye Electric Company's nuclear-power plant in Tehran.

Khalil Musavi, a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told Reuters on 12 June that Tehran did not block the inspectors' access to nuclear sites. "Based on the IAEA's letter which was sent to us, they visited all the places that were mentioned in the letter and they left the country based on the schedule which was mentioned in the letter," he said. An anonymous source told Reuters that the inspectors did not leave Iran "abruptly," as "The Wall Street Journal" had reported, but the source acknowledged that they were not allowed to collect environmental samples at the Kalaye facility in Tehran.

Citing a confidential report, Reuters asserted that the IAEA had requested permission to get samples at Kalaye, where Iran has admitted building components for centrifuges to enrich uranium (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 9 June 2003). That report noted that the IAEA has questions about the accuracy and completeness of Iranian declarations, and one of the ways it is pursuing these questions is by pursuing "further follow-up on information regarding allegations about undeclared enrichment of nuclear material, including, in particular, at the Kalaye Electric Company. This will require permission for the agency to carry out environmental sampling at the workshop located there."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher described U.S. concerns about these issues at a 12 June briefing. According to an RFE/RL report, Boucher said that "overall [the U.S. has] made clear that we find Iran's nuclear activities very troubling. Its nuclear ambitions represent a serious challenge to the entire international community, specifically to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

The international community and the IAEA should not be alarmed about Iran's nuclear pursuits, if statements by Iranian officials are to be believed. After all, judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi noted U.S. concerns about Iran's nuclear program during a meeting of the country's judiciary officials on 9 June. ISNA reported that Hashemi-Shahrudi said, "Our school of thought leads us to oppose weapons of mass destruction." And, according to IRNA, Foreign Minister Kharrazi said on 8 June, "nuclear weapons have no place in Iranian security doctrine." (Bill Samii)

IRAQI JEWS MAKE REVERSE ALIYAH? The Voice of Mujahedin, the Iranian radio station that serves as the mouthpiece of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), reported on 11 June that "large numbers" of Iraqi Jews, who left the country for Israel in the late 1940s, are rumored to be returning to Iraq. Having come back from what the radio station refers to as "the occupied Palestinian territories," the Iraqi Jews allegedly are trying to regain property that they abandoned in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. According to Voice of the Mujahedin, Iraq's borders are open and "any Jew is able to enter the country without difficulty." The return of many Iraqi Jews to Israel, referred to as aliyah, via Iran is discussed in Uri Bialer, "The Iranian Connection in Israel�s Foreign Policy � 1948-1951," "Middle East Journal," vol. 39, no. 2 (Spring 1985). (Bill Samii)