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Iran Report: August 27, 2001

27 August 2001, Volume 4, Number 32

PARLIAMENT APPROVES KHATAMI'S CABINET. The Iranian parliament approved on 22 August all 20 of President Mohammad Khatami's cabinet nominees, despite deputies' predictions that some of the proposed ministers would not receive votes of confidence (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 20 August 2001). This unity is somewhat superficial, because although 276 deputies were in the chamber for the voting, different numbers of votes were cast for the ministers and the number of abstentions varied. Nevertheless, the cabinet members may feel optimistic that they can begin implementing the president's plans.

Speaking to the deputies before their final vote, Khatami described his nominees and said that he is "prepared to defend my choices strongly, although I do not feel they need my defense." Khatami said that the "most important and urgent" issues facing Iran concern management and the economy. He described the Third Five-Year Development Plan as being based on the Supreme Leader's macro-policies, and the direction of his general plan for the country is towards "economic growth, social justice, ensuring individual and social rights, and employment opportunities for everyone." "I believe that the team which is going to work with me is a team of individuals who have faith and conviction in these principles and will be ready to work tirelessly to achieve these objectives," Khatami told the parliament.

Khatami's ministers won the final vote, but it was not a trouble-free process. Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh was criticized harshly on 22 August by several parliamentarians. Reformist deputy Hamid Kohram told the chamber that "the top management of the Oil Ministry has accommodated certain political interests and has created a shadowy entity catering to family connections, nepotism, and political interest groups." Kohram accused Zanganeh of appointing inexperienced but politically connected people to head subsidiaries of the ministry, IRNA reported, and he wondered why oil output from southern oil fields increased 300 percent from 1990-1995 but has not increased at all in the last four years. In the end, 254 deputies voted on Namdar-Zanganeh, and there were 166 votes in his favor, 74 against him, and 14 abstentions.

Minister of Intelligence and Security Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi came in for an easier time: out of 268 deputies' votes, 219 were for him, only 39 were against him, and there were 10 abstentions. Two days earlier, Yunesi spoke to the legislature reassuringly, saying that parliamentary supervision would benefit the MOIS and that such supervision would benefit all the country's intelligence organizations. Yunesi also expressed his willingness to discuss any subject with the parliament in a closed or an open session.

Dr. Masud Pezeshkian, minister of health, treatment, and medical education, had 168 votes for, 75 against, and 15 abstentions. In an interview with the 19 August "Noruz," he described some of the areas that need attention. He said that the Health Ministry would implement a family planning and population control plan, because "unemployment, poverty, marginalization, and corruption are due to the imbalance in the population and the resources that we have at our disposal." Pezeshkian also blamed the country's poor distribution system for the black market for medicines.

Voting on the other ministers, according to state television, went accordingly.
Ministry ____________ Name _________ For __ Against __ Abstained
Agriculture Jihad ____ Mahmud Hojjati __ 173 ___ 80 ______ 8
Commerce __ Mohammad Shariatmadari __ 205 __ 47 _____ 15
Cooperatives _______ Ali Sufi _________ 148 ___ 93 _____ 21
Defense and ______ Ali Shamkhani _____ 195 __ 62 ______ 11
Armed Forces Logistics
Economic Affairs ___ Tahmasb Mazaheri __ 193 __ 59 _____ 16
and Finance
Education and Training ___ Morteza Haji __ 55 __ 90 ______ 16
Energy _________ Habibollah Bitaraf____ 190 __ 63 ______ 10
Foreign Affairs _____ Kamal Kharrazi ____ 201 __ 55 ______ 11
Housing and ______ Ali Abdol-Alizadeh __ 153 __ 86 ______ 14
Urban Development
Industries and Mines __ Eshaq Jahangiri __ 191 __ 58 _____ 11
Interior ______ Abdol Vahed Musavi-Lari __ 203 __ 51 _____ 10
Islamic Culture ___ Ahmad Masjid-Jamei __ 184 __ 62 ______ 18
and Guidance
Justice ____ Mohammad Esmail Shushtari _ 195 __ 55 ______ 13
Labor and ________ Safdar Husseini _____ 221 __ 37 ______ 5
Social Affairs
Post, Telegraph, ____ Ahmad Motamedi ___ 175 __ 71 _____ 12
and Telephone
Roads and Transport ___ Ahmad Khorram __ 186 __ 58 _____ 14
Science, Research _____ Mostafa Moin ____ 169 __ 86 _____ 11
and Technology

With his cabinet winning a vote of confidence on the first round, and with such a degree of parliamentary support, President Khatami should be able to pursue the social freedoms he has promoted, as well as the economic recovery associated with his Third Five-Year Development Plan. Yet he and his supporters will continue to be confronted by the Guardians Council and the Expediency Council in the legislative phase and by the Judiciary and security forces in the implementation of his programs. (Bill Samii)

IRANIAN DEMOCRACY IMPRESSES UN. "It is very good for people coming in from all over the world to see the democracy in the Islamic Republic actively at work," UN Development Program administrator Mark Malloch Brown told the 20 August "Iran News." Iranian parliamentarians and students probably would not agree with this view, and the political prisoners who have been released lately might question this assessment of Iranian democracy, too. Even President Mohammad Khatami, in a 22 August speech, cast doubt on Iranian democracy.

Tehran parliamentarian Fatimeh Haqiqatju, for example, may not agree with Brown. She was sentenced on 21 August to 22 months in jail for misinterpreting Father of the Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's words, propagandizing against the system, insulting the Guardians Council, and insulting the head of the Tehran revolutionary court. She first was arrested in March and then released so she could travel to Cuba. She was summoned several times after that, and in a 25 July hearing in front of Judge Said Mortazavi, she denied the charges against her. After being sentenced, she said that she would appeal and would sue the judge.

The courts have summoned about 30 members of the legislature in the last year. Dargaz representative Rasul Mehrparvar was summoned because of his comments about Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, "Tehran Times" reported on 13 August, although Mehrparvar himself said he did not know of any summons. Hussein Marashi was summoned by the State Inspectorate (which is part of the Judiciary) because he supposedly made a fake phone call to the parliament during its July-August voting on members of the Guardians Council. Orumieh's Shahrbanu Amani was summoned in July. Hamedan's Hussein Loqmanian has appealed the 13-month jail sentence he received in June for libeling and slandering the Judiciary during a speech in the chamber. Some of the other parliamentarians who have put in court appearances or been summoned are Akbar Alami, Mohsen Armin, Mohammad Dad-Far, Jafar Golbaz, Mohsen Mirdamadi, Issa Musavinejad, Ali Nazari, Ali Shakuri-Rad, Davud Suleimani, and Mostafa Taheri-Najafabadi.

Constitutional article 84 gives "every representative...the right to express his views on all internal and external affairs of the country," and article 86 says that deputies are "completely free in expressing their views and casting their votes in the course of performing their duties as representatives, and they cannot be prosecuted or arrested for opinions expressed in the assembly or votes cast in the course of performing their duties as representatives." Referring to Haqiqatju's case specifically, Tehran representative Jamileh Kadivar on 22 August called on the speaker of parliament to defend the deputies' rights and to defend the parliament's independence.

Politically active Iranian students may not be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about their country's democracy, either, in light of the numerous court summons they have received recently. On 23 August, two members of the Islamic Students Association at Sharif University -- Hojatollah Sharifi and Hussein Nurian -- were summoned by the Tehran Revolutionary Court. Three members of the Office for Strengthening Unity (another name for the Islamic Students Association) at Hamedan's Avicenna University were summoned on 18 August, and another student was summoned the previous week. Two Hamedan members of the OSU received jail sentences in early August. On 19 August the court informed two students from the Khajeh Nasreddin University branch of the OSU who have been held for 45 days that they must pay 700,000,000 rials ($400,000) in bail. And on 4 August, the Revolutionary Court arrested Amir Hussein Balali, secretary of Amir Kabir University's OSU.

Professor Davar Sheikhavandi told RFE/RL's Persian Service on 23 August that the students' arrests should not be seen in isolation. Arrests and summons generally increased after President Mohammad Khatami's re-election in June, and they are intended to undermine public trust in his government. Moreover, according to Sheikhavandi, the arrests are intended to coincide with the OSU's national annual gathering which is held in the summer. Political analyst Nima Rashedan, on the other hand, told RFE/RL's Persian Service that these specific people were arrested because they signed a letter that questioned the role of the religious leadership. They are being told that they have crossed a red line.

Many other students remain in jail because of their alleged roles in the July 1999 unrest or because of things they wrote in campus publications. And people still wonder why the masterminds of the fatal attack on a Tehran University dormitory remain unpunished.

Positive comments about Iranian democracy may refer to the recent release from prison of a handful of nationalist-religious activists and members of the Freedom Movement (Nehzat-i Azadi). About 60 of these people were arrested in a nationwide operation in March, and the Revolutionary Court issued an arrest warrant for the Freedom Movement's Secretary-General Ebrahim Yazdi. They were accused of trying to undermine the system and cooperating with the U.S. in this effort. And the wife of one of the detainees, Habibollah Peyman, said that 10 agents from the Revolutionary Court ransacked their home on 12 August and confiscated papers, videotapes, and an address book. On 19 August, however, President Khatami told the detained dissidents' family members that they did not intend to sabotage or topple the country's Islamic system. He added that the current situation displeases him, according to IRNA.

Khatami went further on 22 August, when he asked parliament, "if we are unable to establish democracy at home and fail to develop a sense of tolerance within ourselves, then how could we demand an international democracy?" Khatami called for patience and tolerance, according to a state television, and added, "The people's sanctity should be respected, their rights should be recognized, and they should be served." (Bill Samii)

SERIAL MURDERS -- THE COVER-UP CONTINUES. Iran's Supreme Court reversed on 18 August the verdicts against 15 Ministry of Intelligence and Security employees involved in the late 1998 killings of political dissidents and writers -- the "serial murders." The Public Relations Office of the Armed Forces Judicial Organization said that the Supreme Court demanded a re-examination of the case.

In the verdict handed down on 27 January 2001, three people were sentenced to death, five people were sentenced to life imprisonment, and seven people received prison sentences ranging from 10 to 2 1/2 years. Oddly, one person who confessed to participation in two of the murders was acquitted by the court.

The victims were Mohammad Jafar Puyandeh, Mohammad Mokhtari, Dariush Foruhar, and Parvaneh Foruhar, but many observers believe that Majid Sharif was the fifth victim and others believe that these were part of 80-100 murders during the 1990s. Members of the victims' families did not attend the trial because they did not want to legitimize a flawed process. Everything relating to the case -- the exposure of alleged rogue agents in the MOIS in early 1999, the "suicide" of the so-called ringleader in mid-1999, the closed-door trial in December 2000-January 2001 -- has pointed to a cover-up. And the real question -- who gave the orders for the killings -- was never answered.

Nasser Zarafshan, the attorney handling the murders of Puyandeh and Mokhtari, told RFE/RL's Persian Service on 18 August that he and the other attorneys are convinced that the case was never dealt with thoroughly and the AFJO had not responded to the lawyers' expressions of concern about this. Zarafshan said that his presence in this second set of hearings depends on whether or not the court gives the families' attorneys complete access to all the relevant files. (Bill Samii)

MAHDAVIYAT MEMBERS APPEAL AGAINST SENTENCES. The verdicts against some 30 members of the Mahdaviyat Group, who were found guilty in mid-May of acting against national security and trying to assassinate state officials, are up for review, "Iran" reported at the end of July. The Mahdaviyat members started a hunger strike to protest the handling of the case, which is being reviewed by Revolutionary Court judges who are close to Ali Razini, the judge who was the original target of their assassination attempt.

The Revolutionary Court announced in late June that two unnamed Mahdaviyat members were given death sentences, while the Tehran press identified Qolam Reza Ameli and Hassan Milani. Milani is the grandson of Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hadi Milani, one of the founders of Qom's Haqqani School. Hojatoleslam Razini is a graduate of the Haqqani School, as are many other judicial officials. (Bill Samii)

MASHHAD CAN BE A TOUGH VENUE. A hearing for Hamid Ostad, the head of Mashhad's Ansar-i Hizbullah pressure group, has been delayed, IRNA reported on 18 August. A little more than two weeks earlier Ostad and 20-30 members of his group stormed, as they beat their chests in the Shia display of mourning, Mashhad's Shahid Beheshti Sports Stadium in order to halt a performance by comedian Hamid-Reza Mahisefat (also known as Iran's Mr. Bean) and the Pichak Troupe. The attack resulted in millions of rials in damage and scared the families in attendance.

Iran's second largest city, Mashhad is home to the shrine of Imam Reza and a popular destination for pilgrims. The Hizbullah attack might have been tolerated, therefore, but the deputy head of the Khorasan Province Judiciary was attending the show with his family and he ordered the immediate arrest of Ostad and the other thugs. Nevertheless, Ostad was released on 70 million rials bail (about $40,000 at the official rate or $8,750 at the open market rate) after a "reputable Mashhad merchant" guaranteed that he would appear in court. Ostad also wrote a letter to the judge in which he described his "family problems." (Bill Samii)

QOM GETS SERIOUS. "Regarding the spread of decadent Western culture in the society, police have seriously risen up against the propagators of corruption," according to a 16 August statement from the Qom police department. Qom is home to many seminaries and other theological institutions, and because the students and their instructors might be led astray, the Law Enforcement Forces are taking serious measures.

The sale of pet dogs or monkeys has been banned. Among the other "manifestations of corruption" that concern the police, according to IRNA, are production and sales of clothes or carpets with images of male or female foreign actors, unveiled people, or individuals playing musical instruments. Playing audible music in shops or public places; playing "illegal songs"; displaying neckties, lingerie, or women's clothing in shop windows; wearing neckties in offices; or employing unveiled waitresses? All banned. Western-style haircuts for males or loud music on car stereos are banned too.

Eight people in Qom received 70-100 lashes each, IRNA reported on 19 August, for causing panic and disturbing internal security. The eight also got jail terms or internal exile.

The Law Enforcement Forces are nominally under the control of the Interior Ministry, but it appears that the Qom LEF is acting on its own. Interior Minister Abdol-Vahed Musavi-Lari said on 19 August that he has demanded a written explanation from police chief Brigadier General Qalibaf.

Musavi-Lari's expression of concern has come rather belatedly, because in early July the provincial justice administration faxed a statement to IRNA in which it warned that it would act in such a manner. According to that statement: "Such indecent acts are causing worries among senior clerics and pious residents of Qom. We have ordered the police to take tough action against these crimes," and the provincial justice department called on police "to repress the flagrant signs of depravity among the young," stop cars from playing "depraved and prohibited music," and prevent the drivers from harassing women on the streets.

Some residents of Qom may think that such measures are timely. Authorities arrested a "paid" gang of women who were not wearing headscarves and who were heading to Qom to spread corruption, "Jomhuri-yi Islami" reported on 6 August. The police also arrested members of a gang that was smuggling young girls from Qom.

Others may think that this most recent moral crusade is the epitome of hypocrisy. Qom has had a reputation as a place where prostitution, under the guise of temporary marriage, is common. In light of Iran's current economic difficulties or because they have run away from home, many women in Qom are involved in the sex trade and the city's theological students are among their best customers. (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 4 June 2001). (Bill Samii)

OFFICIALS, MEDIA DEFEND BASIJ. "I still think that the Basij has not received the recognition it deserves," President Mohammad Khatami said in a 26 July speech. Noted for human-wave tactics during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and more recently for vigilantism against people whose personal behavior is deemed unacceptable, the Basij was in the news recently because of comments made by a reformist lawmaker.

Parliamentarian Ali-Shakuri-Rad in late June said that just because somebody calls himself a Basiji does not mean he is a good person, and he went on to say that the Basij of today is not the same as the Basij that fought on the front against Iraqi forces. Shakuri-Rad also refused to condemn anti-Basij chanting at one of his previous speeches. Shakuri-Rad's comments, which came during a question-and-answer session after a speech to students at Imam Sadeq University, were not well received by the hard-line press.

The "new rich" were chanting against the Basij, a 20 June commentary in "Kayhan" complained, and it emphasized the sacrifices made by the Basij during the Iran-Iraq War. "Yes! Basij means defeat of the Baath army and Basijis are the conquerors of Khorramshahr." As for saying that current and past Basijis are different, the daily asked rhetorically, "in other words, the Basiji is only good for being killed, being affected by chemical bombs...?"

The 25 June "Siyasat-i Ruz" asked what the difference between today's Basijis and those of the war era is. Seeking to capitalize on the economic difference between the bulk of the Basij and the perceived bulk of the reform movement, the conservative daily went on to say that "the Basij will not abandon the arena on account of such slogans, chanted by people who have led a luxurious life."

While condemning insults against the Basij, the Armed Forces headquarters and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander Yahya Rahim-Safavi suggested that the Basij is needed as protection against a current threat. The Armed Forces headquarters said that such insults were part of the "calculated scenario of the enemy," "Aftab-i Yazd" reported on 1 July. The Armed Forces headquarters' statement added that "certain people with colorful ideas of dissidence and reaction and a helpless admiration for Western culture, have launched a cowardly attack on the sincerity, modesty, and the actions of Basijis. They sneer at their religious beliefs, and ridiculing the lofty ideals of martyrs, they inflict an even greater injustice on the unjustly treated Basijis." Rahim-Safavi said that "our belief is that the Basij and Basijis would be the remedy to many of society's ills." He went on to say, "Entekhab" reported on 1 July, that Iran and the revolution is being confronted by an internal threat, and people should be mobilized.

Rahim-Safavi built on the theme of a threat in a 17 July speech to Basij members in Tehran. He warned of a complicated plot in which "the enemy is trying to topple the system through using the idea of separation of state and religion as a weapon. He also warned against those who are trying to weaken people's beliefs by encouraging ties between Iran and the U.S. "I ask the youth to seek refuge in clerics and mosques in order to fight this onslaught."

"Even if there had not been a war," President Khatami said in his late July speech that was broadcast by state television, "we would still have needed the Basij." He said that the "Basij is against violence," and it resisted violence during the July 1999 riots in Tehran. Khatami expressed his hope that the Basij would "flow like a spirit within all elements of our society." And like others, Khatami had a warning: "many of those who accuse the Basij of violence and irrational behavior are observant enemies who at times, unfortunately, impress those who are not aware. This is one side of the coin. Another side of the coin concerns those who somehow, whether out of malice or good will, ascribe their violent, law-breaking and irrational behavior to the Basij."

Regardless of commentary about the Basij or public sentiments about its morals enforcement, the organization continues its military activities. The Nasr-9 exercises, which involved 1,900 Basij personnel in Kurdistan Province, were concluded on 23 August. The last stage of the exercises were held near Bijar, and Kurdistan Province Basij commander Allahnur Nurollahi called on the Basijis to be prepared and warned against "plots hatched by the hegemonic powers and the Zionists," IRNA reported. Basij forces in Boanate township of Fars Province held military exercises on 18 August, according to IRNA, and five battalions of tribal Basij from Fars, Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari, and Kohkiluyeh va Boirahmad staged maneuvers one week earlier, according to "Iran Daily." (Bill Samii)

RUSSIAN, DOMESTIC FIRMS MEET AIRCRAFT REQUIREMENTS. Tehran continues to be a good customer of the Russian arms industry, which according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) as cited by Interfax on 20 August, exported $7.7 billion worth of arms in 2000 and is second only to the U.S. in foreign sales. Russian First Deputy Transport Minister and state Civil Aviation Service chief Alexander Neradko told reporters at the MAKS-2001 air show near Moscow on 17 August that Russia is negotiating deliveries of TU-204 medium-range and IL-96 long-range airliners with Iran, China, and other countries, Interfax reported.

Moreover, Iran has decided to open a line of credit for aircraft manufacturers from the Russian republic of Buryat, Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Safari announced during a 15 August discussion about Tehran's desire to purchase MI-8 HIPs helicopters, according to IRNA. The HIP is normally used as a transport helicopter, but it can provide close air support with its rockets and guns. Safari also visited the Ulan-Ude aircraft factory that produces the SU-29 attack aircraft (see also "RFE/RL Iran Report," 18 June 2001).

The same day, Iranian Army Aviation Corps helicopters completed long-range night navigation exercises. Nocturnal training took place near townships in the past, but long-range inter-city flights are possible now. An unidentified officer told state television that Iranian technicians overcame international sanctions to produce the necessary equipment for such training activities. An appropriate training regime has been designed, too, he said. Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Ali Shamkhani described the successful testing of Iran's first homemade cargo helicopter on 11 August, and he said that all the parts were built in Iran. According to state television, the helicopter is for transporting relief workers and for supporting military operations.

Addressing parliament on 21 August, Shamkhani explained that the MODAFL seeks to "acquire arms with effective deterrent capabilities," upgrade aeronautics hardware, and produce precise, powerful, and long-range military equipment, according to IRNA. "A further push for development and restructuring of the defensive capabilities of the country to the point where we can effectively establish a deterrent force and achieve defense preparedness against regional and international threats to the country's national security is among the fundamental plans of the Defense Ministry," he added.

The same day, army commander Major General Mohammad Salimi told the graduation ceremony of the Ground Forces Aviation Service Academy that the army is "monitoring movements of the enemies," according to IRNA. He added that the army is working on deterrence and "neutraliz[ing] the foreign conspiracies." And on 22 August, there was a ceremony to introduce the acting Islamic Revolution Guards Corps air force commander, Brigadier General Amir Hayat-Moqaddam. (Bill Samii)

STEEL: EXPORTS, IMPORTS, AND UNDER-INVESTMENT. Iran's iron and steel industry is among the world's top 40, according to Iranian officials, and it is trying to increase its share of the international market. Under-investment and unchecked imports at home and protectionist measures by other countries, however, are undermining these efforts.

Mostafa Momenzadeh, managing director of the National Iranian Steel Company, said on 18 August that 530,000 tons of Iranian steel worth $90 million was exported to 28 countries during the March-July 2001 period. 250,000 tons of this steel was produced by the Khuzestan Steel Factory, 248,000 tons by the Mobarakeh Steel Complex, and 32,000 tons by the Isfahan Steel Mill. Momenzadeh predicted that the total amount of Iranian steel production would reach 7 million tons by 21 March 2002, IRNA reported. That same day, Mobarakeh Steel Complex's deputy chief for marketing and export affairs, Mehdi Tajruz, announced that a 12,000 ton consignment of steel, worth $2 million, was exported to Italy, and Mobarakeh's exports since March were worth $60 million.

Figures cited by Tajruz on 9 July do not correspond with those cited by Momenzadeh the next month. Tajruz claimed that Mobarakeh Steel Complex exported 280,000 tons of steel worth $50 million since March 2001. He also said that steel from the complex is imported to 30 countries. Another official at the Mobarakeh plant said on 9 June that the direct reclamation unit of the complex is the biggest sponge iron producer in the world in terms of facilities and capacity. That capacity now stands at 3.2 million tons.

The Isfahan Steel Mill produced about 496,000 tons of iron beam, 303,000 tons of iron bar, 735,000 tons of cast iron, and 740,000 tons of steel ingot in the March-July 2001 period. The plant's products are exported to Italy, Greece, and Spain, IRNA reported on 24 July. A cast iron project at the Meibod Steel Company is due to go on-stream in a few months, IRNA reported on 9 June, putting the plant's capacity at 300,000 tons per year.

Mahmud Faraqdani, managing director of the Isfahan foundry, expects to export 240,000 tons of products by March 2002, IRNA reported on 4 July. He said this should earn about $50 million. Faraqdani added that in the previous year the Isfahan complex achieved a 30-year production record, producing 2,220,000 tons of products, including steel ingots and melted cast iron, and exporting 132,000 tons of its products to Germany, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Spain.

President Mohammad Khatami noted during the 21 June inauguration of the Khorasan Steel Complex in Nishabur that "steel constitutes the basis of industrial production," according to Iran. Despite this emphasis, and in spite of the exports, Iranian steel manufacturers are faced with domestic and foreign difficulties. Khatami said that investment must increase in order to reduce the gap between Iranian and world production rates.

Another problem is excessive steel imports from overseas, which is generating complaints from the domestic industry. An official from the Isfahan Steel Mill said in July that "remarkable amounts" of inferior-quality steel are imported from Central Asia. Mahmud Islamian, managing director of the Mobarakeh Steel Complex, warned that unfettered steel imports threatened 450,000 jobs and have cost the country about $1 billion in capital flight, IRNA reported on 11 August. Islamian said that 4 million tons of steel products were imported and this is 2.4 million tons above the national target.

Moreover, managing director of the National Iranian Steel Company Momenzadeh said that some 30 countries have imposed protectionist measures, such as special tariffs, restrictions, and anti-dumping policies, against 47 steel-producing countries. This has prevented importing steel products from these countries. (Bill Samii)

UN AND TEHRAN DIFFER ON POPULATION STATISTICS. According to figures released by the UN Information Center on 19 August, the Iranian population surpassed 70 million in 2000, IRNA reported. Iran's Statistics Center reported that the Iranian population was 64.5 million in 2000, IRNA reported on 9 June. There was no explanation for the discrepancy. (Bill Samii)