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Heard This Week - 10/05/2006

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- October 5, 2006) Radio Farda continued its coverage of Iran's nuclear program with an examination of a recently-released 1988 letter from Ayatollah Khomeini about the need for nuclear weapons, an interview with U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Tom Casey and coverage of President Bush's signing of sanctions legislation. Radio Farda also kept listeners informed about the fate of jailed 1999 student activist Ahmad Batebi.

>> Radio Farda reported on September 29 that a letter -- written by the father of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1988 and recently disclosed by Iran's Expediency Council -- says that Iran would need nuclear weapons to win its (then ongoing) war with Iraq. Former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani released the letter, as part of a feud with a military commander over responsibility for the 1988 cease-fire. In the letter, Ayatollah Khomeini, who died in 1989, quotes the country's leading military commander at the time on the weapons systems Iran would need to continue fighting (

>> For further background on the newly-disclosed Khomeini letter on nuclear weapons, Radio Farda interviewed political activist Mohsen Sazgara on September 29. According to Sazegara, this is the first time a document containing the statements of an Iranian official about the necessity of achieving nuclear weapons has been published (
On September 30, Radio Farda interviewed Isa Saharkhiz, a member of the Iranian branch of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Saharkhiz told Radio Farda listeners that "the publication of this letter is directly related to the change of power in Iran," adding that Rafsanjani is trying to show that the persons in power now are those who could not handle the war at that time, and thus are not trustworthy. Saharkhiz also said that the publication of the letter is sending a second message as well -- that concerns exist that Iran could potentially find itself in another war (

>> Radio Farda listeners were told, on October 1, that U.S. President George W. Bush has signed the " Iran Freedom Support Act," that would impose sanctions upon entities that aid the Iranian regime's development of nuclear weapons (

>> U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey, during an October 3 interview with Radio Farda, said that the only way to negotiate with Iran on its nuclear program is through European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Casey also told Radio Farda listeners that Iran's proposal to France to create a consortium to enrich uranium for Tehran's nuclear program is not a new alternative; Russia had made a similar proposal before, but Iran rejected it. If Iran refuses to end its uranium enrichment program, Casey said, it will face sanctions based on UN Security Council Resolution 1696 (

>> On October 4, Radio Farda reported that Iran's Foreign Ministry had announced that no decision has been made concerning an agreement between about Iran and France on uranium enrichment in Iran (

>> On October 2, Radio Farda reported on talks between Iran's Oil Ministry and the Japanese company Inpex over the development of Iran's Azadegan oil field. Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said that Inpex had only another few days to express its commitment to developing the oil field, or Iran would turn to other companies. Were Inpex -- in which the Japanese government is a major stakeholder -- to sign a contract to develop the oil field in southwestern Iran, the company could find itself in conflict with the U.S., which is threatening to impose sanctions on companies investing in Iran's energy sector (

>> On October 2, Radio Farda listeners heard an interview with Somayyeh Bayenat, the wife of Iranian student activist Ahmad Batebi, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 1999 for displaying the bloody shirt of a friend wounded in clashes with Iranian security forces, in a photo that appeared on the cover of "The Economist" newspaper. Bayenat said that her husband, who was returned to Section 209 of Evin Prison in late July, is in poor physical and mental condition. Bayenat added that Evin Prison is where Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi was killed in 2003 (
Radio Farda also aired an interview with Batebi's lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, who said that he had not seen his client yet. Bahramian added that he does not want to see Batebi in the presence of security agents (
On October 3, Radio Farda reported that security forces arrested Batebi's doctor, Hessam Firuzi, who had earlier expressed his concerns about Batebi's health ( Firuzi was released one day later.

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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