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Heard This Week - 06/28/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- June 28, 2007) Radio Farda covered the consequences of the sudden imposition of gasoline rationing in Iran, a non-proliferation conference that addressed Iran's nuclear efforts and Tehran's most recent interactions with the IAEA. Radio Farda also broadcast an exclusive interview with Nobel Peace Prize laureate and lawyer Shirin Ebadi, where she discussed the cases of Iranian-Americans Parnaz Azima and Haleh Esfandiari.

>> On June 27, Radio Farda reported that the Iranian government's sudden imposition of a "gasoline rationing plan" caused long lines of cars to form at gas stations and resulted in clashes between drivers and antiriot police. Dozens of gas stations were set afire in Tehran as well, according to the report. Tehran-based journalist Farizburz Sorush told Radio Farda that an unspecified number of people have been arrested in connection with the disturbances. An eyewitness in Tehran told Radio Farda that people attacked the Malek gas station and broke the windows of a bank located next to it; at the Khaghani gas station, he said, antiriot police used tear gas to disperse people. The eyewitness added that people who had come to gas stations did not necessarily need gas -- some youths and women were just encouraging others to set gas stations on fire. In addition, the eyewitness reported that most of the slogans shouted during the disturbances were political -- not economic in nature. Ahvaz-based journalist Mojtaba Gahestouni told Radio Farda that some taxi drivers have gone on strike, while taxi and bus fares have increased between three- and fivefold. Journalist Peyman Pakmehr reported from Tabriz that food prices have risen in that city in the wake of the implementation of gas rationing there (

>> Radio Farda posted a comprehensive report to its website on June 27 about the June 25-26 Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference in Washington, entitled "Tomorrow's Solution." British foreign secretary Margaret Beckett, in her keynote speech titled "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons," said that Iran and North Korea are "standing in open defiance of the international community" in their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Of Iran Beckett said, "if the regime is trying to acquire nuclear weapons -- and there are very few either in that region or outside it who seriously doubt that that is the goal -- then it is raising the specter of a huge push for proliferation in what is already one of the most unstable parts of the world." During a panel discussion titled "The Security Council's Iran Challenge," British Embassy political counselor Neil Crompton noted the significance of the worldwide consensus on dealing with Iran. Another panelist, Bruno Tertrais of the Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique compared the approaches of former French President Jacques Chirac and his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that the latter is determined not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, while the former did not believe in the efficiency of sanctions (

>> On June 26, Radio Farda aired an interview with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi about the status of her clients, academic Haleh Esfandiari and Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz Azima. During the interview, Ebadi noted a recent report in Iranian newspapers about a driver who had abducted and raped a woman. After evidence was brought forward that proved the driver's guilt, Ebadi said, his bail was set at 10 million tooman (approximately $10,800). Turning to Azima's case, Ebadi said, "my client's crime was only reading news on Radio Farda and a bail at 500 million tooman (approximately $550,000) was set for her." Even though she has posted the bail, Ebadi said, Azima has not been permitted to leave the country -- "Is this not an instance of interference of politics in judgment?" Ebadi asked. Ebadi also discussed the case of Haleh Esfandiari, who has been kept in solitary confinement for 40 days. During a recent one-minute telephone conversation with her mother, Esfandiari said she now suffers from a skin disease due to the heat and a lack of ventilation, Ebadi told Radio Farda. Esfandiari has not been allowed to visit with her family or her lawyers, Ebadi said, adding: "Once again I would like to ask [Judiciary head] Mr. Shahrudi, should a driver who rapes a woman be in a better situation than a university professor?" (

>> Iran has invited the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send a team to Tehran to resolve that agency's questions about Iran's nuclear program. In this regard, Radio Farda's June 26 "Evening Magazine" broadcast an interview with the head of Chatham House's Middle East program, Claire Spencer. Spencer told Radio Farda there are two ways of evaluating the move -- Iran is trying to buy time as the UN Security Council considers extending sanctions and adopting a new resolution against Iran's nuclear efforts, or "It could be a new way of saying that we will actually open up the facilities." The question, according to Dr. Spencer, is how long this process will take. She also noted this should not be the final IAEA inspection of Iran's nuclear program and such inspections must continue in the future (

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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