Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Washington, DC -- November 16, 2006) Radio Farda continued its coverage of Iran's nuclear ambitions and the potential impact on U.S. policy towards Iran as a result of the U.S. midterm elections, while keeping listeners fully informed on Iran's increased blocking of access to independent news and women's rights websites as well as the decision of a federal court in Argentina to issue arrest warrants against prominent Iranian statesmen and former officials over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Iran's Nuclear Ambitions; The Impact of the U.S. Midterm Elections
>> Radio Farda aired an interview on November 11 with U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack about sanctions on Iran. McCormack asserted that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons under the cover of a peaceful energy program, adding that, "In order to get the regime to change its mind, we're going to pass the sanctions resolution; we do not want to penalize the Iranian people" (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/11/20061111-193000-FRD-program.rm?start=05:20&end=10:24).
>> As part of its continuing coverage of the aftermath of the U.S. midterm elections, Radio Farda reported that Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, consider the elections to be a result of a "failure of the aggressive policy of the U.S." On November 10, Radio Farda interviewed former U.S. Representative Vic Fazio (D-CA from 1979-1999) about the potential for changes in U.S. foreign policy following the elections. Fazio told listeners that the U.S. position toward Iran will not change before the next presidential election. Radio Farda also interviewed former U.S. Representative Robert Walker (R- PA from 1977-1997), who told listeners that he agreed with Fazio on the likelihood of a change in U.S. policy toward Iran (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/10/20061110-153000-FRD-program.rm?start=06:03&end=10:41).
>> A Radio Farda correspondent in Paris also interviewed former French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine about the likelihood of a change in U.S. policy towards Iran in the wake of the U.S. midterm elections. During the interview, broadcast on November 9, Vedrine told Radio Farda listeners that he felt both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. consider Iran to be a threat. Vedrine suggested that the best way for the U.S. to deal with Iran is to use the strategy that Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon adopted concerning China in 1972, as this may create discord among Iranian officials -- especially given the fact that not all Iranians believe that the country's problems will be solved by making Iran a nuclear power (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/09/20061109-063000-FRD-program.rm?start=03:45&end=06:49).
More Internet Filtering by Iran
>> Radio Farda informed listeners on November 9 about the increase in the number of filtered websites in Iran, including the independent websites advarnews.com, entekhab.ir and meydaan.com. Isa Saharkhiz, a member of the Iranian branch of the Committee to Protect Journalists stated that the Iranian government generally imposes more restrictions on access to news at times of political change. Radio Farda also told listeners that, on November 7, the media freedom group "Reporters Without Borders" has again designated Iran as an "enemy of the Internet"; the Iranian government prevents access in Iran to about 10 million websites it deems "immoral", including those dealing with political, religious and women's rights issues (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/10/20061110-153000-FRD-program.rm?start=18:22&end=20:10).
>> Also on November 9, Radio Farda interviewed Tehran-based women's rights activist Nasrin Afzali about the government-imposed filtering of the Maydaan Zanan (Women's Field, www.maydaan.com) website. Afzali told listeners that the reason for the government restriction is the website's campaign to end executions by stoning in Iran. According to Afzali, "Websites on women's issues have been filtered before... but Judiciary officials never directly say that such websites are filtered because they deal with women's issues." (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/09/20061109-153000-FRD-program.rm?start=18:36&end=22:25).
Argentina Issues Arrest Warrants for Iranian Officials
>> Radio Farda reported on November 9 that a judge in Argentina had issued international arrest warrants for nine former Iranian government officials, including ex-President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, former ministers of intelligence and security Ali-Akbar Fallahian-Khuzestani and of foreign affairs Ali-Akbar Velayati, as well as onetime commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Mohsen Rezai over the deadly bombing of the AMIA community center building in Buenos Aires in 1994. Prosecutors allege that Argentina's decision not to provide Iran with nuclear technology was the motive of the 1994 bombing (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/09/20061109-203000-FRD-program.rm?start=14:01&end=15:53; an English report by RFE/RL's Central Newsroom on the arrest warrants can be read at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/11/8FEDC969-A5B6-4CF8-BA8F-7AD878AE04A5.html).
>> Dr. Abdolkarim Lahidji, vice president of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues told Radio Farda listeners on November 10 that the Argentine "arrest order demonstrates that, despite what Iranian officials have said, the dossier is not empty." He also said: "Since the issuing of the court order in the case known as 'Mykonos,' senior Iranian officials have not traveled to European countries... so merely the fact that the traveling [options] for the officials of a country are limited is like sanctions -- like the measures against senior Iranian officials that could be put in place regarding Iran's nuclear case" (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/10/20061110-133000-FRD-program.rm?start=02:57&end=06:44).
>> Radio Farda told listeners on November 12 that the White House had issued a statement one day earlier "applaud[ing] Argentina's justice system for its tenacious pursuit of justice against the perpetrators" of the 1994 Buenos Aires bombing, and "stand[s] ready to support the Argentine prosecution in any way we can." Radio Farda also reported the reaction of Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini, who said that said that the arrest warrants issued by Argentina have no legal basis (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/2006/11/12/20061112-033000-FRD-program.rm?start=11:16&end=14:22).
For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit:
http://www.radiofarda.com -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website
http://www.rferl.org/reviews/farda.aspx -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review
http://www.rferl.org/reports/iran-report/default.asp -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/iran.html -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran
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