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Heard This Week - 01/18/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- January 18, 2006) Radio Farda covered U.S. President George W. Bush's January 12 announcement of a new U.S. strategy for Iraq and its potential impact on Iran; Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz; the U.S. raid on an Iranian consular facility in Arbil, Iraq; as well as continuing its coverage of Iran's nuclear efforts.

>> On Radio Farda's January 12 "Viewpoints" program, 3 experts discussed the newly-announced US strategy in Iraq and its consequences for Iran. One of the participants, American University in Paris professor Shahin Fatemi, told Radio Farda listeners that Iran faces its gravest challenge since the Iranian revolution 27 years ago. The UN-imposed sanctions will lead to a deterioration of the domestic economic situation and inflation, Fatemi said. University of Amsterdam history professor Touraj Atabaki noted the U.S. military raid on an Iranian government office in Arbil, Iraq (which Iran claims is a consulate) and said that Iranian officials are of the opinion that the difficulties the U.S. is facing in Iraq would prevent them from attacking Iran. According to Atabaki, the Iranians "are just underestimating the power of U.S." A third participant, Alireza Haghighi called on the Iranian government to suspend all enrichment-related activities before time expires on the UN Security Council's ultimatum to comply (

>> On January 17, Radio Farda interviewed Dr. Shahram Chubin, director of research at the Geneva Center for Security Policy who discussed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's comments about a potential military attack on Iran. Dr. Chubin told listeners that Secretary General Ban believes opening the door to a military strike can occur only with the agreement of the Security Council -- and there is no such agreement. On the question of whether Arab countries were lining up against Iran, Dr. Chubin said the Persian Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, are showing their opposition to the idea that Iran might become a dominant country in the region, in light of the changes that have occurred in the region, especially in Iraq (

>> The Strait of Hormuz, which is of major strategic and economic importance for the Middle East, was the topic of Radio Farda�s January 15 interview with Henry Sokolski, the Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. Sokolski told listeners that Iran had made a mistake by publicly threatening to close the Strait as this had made the world more alert. Moreover, Sokolski said he hoped Iran would also consider its own situation, as 70 percent of the government's income comes from the 2.5 million barrels of oil it exports every day (

>> On January 12, Radio Farda interviewed Iraq Kurdish Democratic Party spokesman Sahru Ghader about the January 11 U.S. raid on an Iranian office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. Ghader told listeners that security, not political concerns were the reason for the arrest of five Iranians in Arbil. Ghader also said the regional government of Iraqi Kurdestan had no role in these arrests ( RFE/RL Radio Free Iraq Arbil correspondent Shomal Ramvan told Radio Farda that observers believe this is the first step in developing a new U.S. strategy in Iraq (

>> On January 17, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesperson Melissa Fleming told Radio Farda listeners that Iran has not set up any obstacles yet to IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities, since it announced it would no longer comply with the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. However, Fleming said, she could not predict how the situation will develop in the future, especially as the UN Security Council sanctions take hold. Fleming noted that all IAEA technical assistance to Iran has been suspended in line with the UN sanctions, but that the suspension would be reviewed at the IAEA Board of Governor's meeting in March (

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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