Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Experience has taught U.S. not to enter dangerous territory: Rafsanjani

Description of Selected News: "Experience has taught U.S. not to enter dangerous territory: Rafsanjani

TEHRAN (MNA) -- Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said here Tuesday that he was confident that experience has taught the United States not to dare to attack Iran.

“We have no doubts that they (Israel and the U.S.) are our enemies and if they could, they would cause trouble in every possible way. But the understanding of the U.S. has reached such a level that it will not enter this dangerous territory (of Iran),” Rafsanjani told reporters while on a visit to the Aerospace Research Institute.

“We won’t hope for such an incident to happen, but if it does the world will undergo changes to some extent,” he asserted. Addressing the Aerospace and National Security Conference, he said Iran has the capability to launch missiles with a range of 2000 kilometers.

Rafsanjani said Iranian experts could now achieve "all subsequent stages" in the missile production process.

“Today, Iran has the capability to launch missiles with a range of 2000 kilometers and a country which has such a capacity can tread the rest of such an important path,” the former president noted.

“With the missile capability that we have today, we can also launch independent satellites and currently we are among the top eight countries which can launch independent satellites.

"When we came under missile attacks (by Iraq) we thought of building our own missiles and we started from scratch," Rafsanjani said.

"Today we have ballistic technology and if our hands had not been tied and obstacles had not been put in the way of our progress, we would have been even more advanced," he added."

International Relations and Security Network ISN - Security Watch

International Relations and Security Network ISN - Security Watch: "Iranian parliament gets involved in foreign trade
Iran's parliament has ratified a bill obliging the government of President Mohammad Khatami to seek parliamentary approval before the implementation of two major foreign contracts, both with Turkish firms: to expand and run a new international airport in Tehran and to run a national mobile-phone network.

By Vahid Sepehri for RFE/RL

Iran's parliament ratified a bill on 26 September obliging the government of President Mohammad Khatami to seek parliamentary approval before the implementation of two major foreign contracts, both with Turkish firms: to expand and run a new international airport in Tehran and to run a national mobile-phone network. Parliament says it must check the deals to ensure they do not threaten national security. The bill is a watered-down version of an initial proposal that demanded legislative ratification of all contracts with foreign firms or firms with majority foreign ownership in the security-sensitive telecommunication and aviation sectors. The bill swiftly became law after winning approval from the Guardians Council, the conservative-dominated body of jurists that verifies bills to assure conformity with the constitution and religious laws. The bill may reflect the distaste of conservative legislators for the large-scale intrusion of foreign business into the country, especially into Iran's mostly state-owned economy. Conservatives especially distrust alleged ties between the Turkish firms involved and Israel, Iran's enemy but an ally of Turkey. The bill affects two firms. One, the Turkish-Austrian consortium Tepe-Akfen-Vie, built the first terminal of the Imam Khomeini International Airport, and was to staff and operate it and build a second terminal after signing a deal with the Iranian Transport Ministry. But the airport was closed on 8 May, its first working day, by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, which said the presence of foreign staff at the airport was a security risk. The other firm, TurkCell, was to invest US$3 billion and set up Iran's first private mobile-phone network. TurkCell was awarded the contract in February to operate the network under the name IranCell. Its operating license would take effect upon payment of 300 million euros (US$369 million) to Iran's government, AFP reported on 24 September. The company now says it will make the payment if parliament approves the deal, Aftab-i Yazd reported on 30 September, citing the company website.

Frightening away investors?
Reformers say the bill will frighten away foreign investors. President Khatami called it a legislative "innovation" and parliamentary interference in executive branch prerogatives. It would "paralyze government", he said, especially when negotiating with foreign partners, IRNA reported on 26 September. But parliamentary speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said it is natural for parliament to be sensitive about foreign contracts, and the exercise of its supervisory prerogatives is not interference, IRNA added. Gholamreza Tajgardun, a deputy head of the Management and Planning Organization, the state planning and budget-allocation agency, said on 26 September that the new law will cause "many discrepancies" in the TurkCell deal, which was beginning to be implemented, "Aftab-i Yazd" reported on 27 September. Parliament, he said, "intends to make fundamental changes" to both deals, and Iran will have to pay compensation if the mobile-phone deal falls through. "Every contract has two parties, and...cannot be changed by one party or government," he said. Mohammad Mehdi Purfatemi, parliamentary representative for Dashti and Tanguestan, said in Tehran on 26 September that, during a recent trip to France on behalf of parliament's Industries and Mining Committee, "most investors and important French companies expressed concern" about the bill, Aftab-i Yazd reported on 27 September. Parliamentary speaker Haddad-Adel said in Tehran on 26 September that the bill does not automatically end the contracts, but "parliament must approve them", Aftab-i Yazd reported the next day. He said he believes it will not deter investors. He may be right. A South African mobile-phone operator, MTN, which also bid in the February tender won by TurkCell, has already expressed readiness to step in if the TurkCell deal falls through, AFP reported on 29 September. "If the rest of the conditions make sense, we are ready to work under the new regulation," AFP quoted MTN local representative Christopher Kilowan as saying.

‘Less financial corruption’
Haddad-Adel believes, in any case, that it is "less financial corruption" and a strict "financial supervision system" that attracts investors to Iran, IRNA reported on 26 September. The bill has affected Iran-Turkey ties. Khatami has postponed a planned 28-29 September visit to Turkey, reportedly accepting a parliamentary suggestion to wait until the fate of the contracts is clarified, Turkey's NTV reported. Reformist parliamentarians have welcomed the move as a fitting response to parliament's move, and consider a trip pointless when Khatami could not have struck a deal. "When Khatami has no power at the negotiating table, a trip to Turkey will have no results," Aftab-i Yazd quoted Qodratollah Alikhani, parliamentary representative for Buyin-Zahra and Avoj, as saying in Tehran on 26 September. Parliament has given the government three months to win approval for the two contracts. On 29 September, Haddad-Adel wrote to Khatami to say parliament is ready to begin a "technical examination" of the two deals, Mehr news agency reported. The head of parliament's research center, Ahmad Tavakkoli, a Tehran legislator and leading proponent of the bill, has also asked the Telecommunications Ministry and Management and Planning Organization for documents on the TurkCell deal, including contract details as well as "any documents clarifying" that the deal will use the maximum amount of Iranian-made equipment, transfer technology into Iran, and respect "security issues," mehrnews.com reported on 29 September. Iranian conservatives regularly assert that the economy and job creation are their priority. This bill shows that, beyond security concerns, they do not all favor free-market methods for economic growth and may be uncomfortable with initiatives that threaten the state-controlled economy and the state's preponderant role in public life. In contrast to government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, who recently said Iran needs foreign investment, they may believe that high oil prices can successfully finance the Islamic republic's other intermittent temptation - self-sufficiency. Asked by Aftab-i Yazd if it is better to sign deals with Iranian firms than with Tepe-Akfen-Vie or TurkCell, Haddad-Adel said on 26 September, "It depends on the work, but the priority is with Iranian firms...in reality the priority is that we should build Iran at the hands of Iranians.""

Carpeted With Flowers: Something Special's Afoot (washingtonpost.com)

Carpeted With Flowers: Something Special's Afoot (washingtonpost.com): "Carpeted With Flowers: Something Special's Afoot

By Paul Richard
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, October 5, 2004; Page C01

Floor gardens.

Twelve old flowered rugs are on exhibition at the Textile Museum. Meditating Buddhist monks, pious Muslims at their prayers, sportive Persian shahs and turbaned Mughal emperors once caught glints of paradise in carpets such as these.

Some are merely fragments now, but once upon a time -- when spread on desert sands, or on the floors of mosques, or in the silk pavilions of warriors on campaign -- these tattered things were luxuries, portable and precious. Given half a chance, they'll still fly your mind away to otherworldly gardens, scented and celestial.

The rugs in the exhibit -- "Floral Perspectives in Carpet Design" -- depict three flowered realms more commanding than our own.

One of these is Paradise. As it is described in the Holy Koran, it looks much like a garden "dark green in color from plentiful watering" where the blessed will repose in "shades, cool and ever deepening" and the righteous will be delivered "from the Penalty of the Scorching Wind."

To get an abstract glimpse of that promised garden, imagine yourself kneeling on this prayer rug from Bukhara in today's Uzbekistan.

Two spreading V's of blue rivulets or streams approach and stretch away from you as your head descends. Darker colors edge the blue, suggesting banks in shade. The perpetually blooming roses on the border of the rug are lined up in straight rows that form a world-excluding wall.

This is Islam's paradise. Others are evoked.

In the sacred lotus gardens of Buddhist meditation are muddy-bottomed ponds on which water lilies float. These flowers are depicted on an 18th-century chair seat from Ningxia, China.

An egret wades among them. Unprepossessing, peaceful, this is more than just a garden scene. It is also an instruction for the seeker of enlightenment. For the lotus is the Buddha's bloom. That slowly rising flower -- brilliant in its whiteness and golden at its center -- is rooted in the mud, yet grows from muck unstained. It symbolizes purity.

The third celestial garden encountered in these carpets is bloodier.

It is a game preserve for mighty potentates. No common people poach it. This garden is a magic realm where the flowers aren't mere flowers; they grin at you with devilish faces.

Here lions stalk their prey and winged angelic beings hover in the air. The finest work of art on view, a 500-year-old fragment from Safavid Iran, depicts such a hunting ground -- also proclaiming the valor and the privilege of fearless fighting kings.

Vines twist through this enchanted wood. As antelope and spotted deer dart among the tendrils, lions pounce upon them and draw blood with their claws.

Caught within that sharp embrace, the little deer are open-mouthed, their heads thrown back in agony. You can almost hear them scream, though, of course, melodiously. The flowers knotted into this amazing Persian carpet are like none you've ever seen. The beasts of prey are curious, too. The dog-faced one at upper right is striped like some strange tiger. Its stripes are green.

A 17th-century Mughal fragment on display nearby is similarly gory. On it two war elephants are sticking their sharp tusks into each other's faces, and graceful flowers nod.

These aren't your usual carpet flowers. Most flowers found on antique rugs are conventionally abstracted -- the roses seen in bird's-eye view, the tulips shown in profile. The daffodils by the elephants appear derived instead from 16th-century European botanical illustrations. Several stages of growth, from buds to fully opened blooms, are also represented on this Mughal rug.

It's hard enough to draw a flower. It's a lot harder to show one in a carpet whose warp and woof and colored yarns inevitably favor rectilinear compositions.

That these daffodils and tulips, peonies and carnations bend gracefully and smoothly is one sign of the quality of the carpets in this show.

They were chosen by curators Sumru Belger Krody and Lydia Fraser. All come from the museum's permanent collection.

Floral Perspectives in Carpet Design will remain on view through Feb. 6. The Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Though $5 donations are encouraged at the door, admission is free."

:: Xinhuanet - Iran voices support to Sudan's unity

:: Xinhuanet - English ::: "Iran voices support to Sudan's unity

www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-05 16:14:59

KHARTOUM, Oct. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami announced here Monday that his country supports Sudan to restoreunity and safety, local newspaper Rayaam reported Tuesday.During his meeting with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir,Khatami affirmed his support to the efforts exerted by the Sudanese government with all Sudanese political powers for the realization of peace and national unity.

He described the peace steps taken to solve the conflict in southern Sudan as brave.

For his part, Bashir expressed belief that peace in Sudan has become in sight, stressing that the peace process occupies a distinctive position in Sudan's strategy.

He claimed that the security and humanitarian situation in the western region of Darfur is under his government's control. Bashir vowed to continue cooperation with the African Union to find a comprehensive resolution to the Darfur crisis despite recent UN Security Council's "frustrating" resolution on the issue. Bashir also expressed his satisfaction over the relations between Sudan and Iran, asserting that Sudan stands by Iran andsupports its right to use nuclear power.

Following the meeting ,the two sides signed a package of commercial and economic cooperation agreements.

The Iranian president arrived here Monday afternoon to pay a three-day visit to Sudan within the framework of a regional tour which has taken him to Algeria and will take him to Oman later. During his stay here, Khatami will hold more talks with Bashir and other senior government officials."

Azerbaijan, Iran may cancel visa endorsement

IranMania News: "Azerbaijan, Iran may cancel visa endorsement

Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Oct 5 (IranMania) - The Iranian government supports cancellation of the current visa regulations with Azerbaijan, Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported.

The proposals forwarded by the Iranian party to Azerbaijan’s relevant government agencies remain in force, said the spokesman for the Iranian embassy in Baku, AssA-Irada reported on Monday.

"Azerbaijan has its own views on the issue and we respect them", he said.

The Iranian representative added that travel of people between the two countries has increased and that the problem will therefore be positively resolved."

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran 'increases missile range'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran 'increases missile range': "Iran 'increases missile range'

Former President Rafsanjani is still a powerful man in Iran
Iran now has missiles with a range of 2,000km (1,250 miles), former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani has said.
Mr Rafsanjani's comments came in a speech to the Aerospace Research Institute in Tehran, and were reported by the Iranian news agency.

Correspondents say this is a substantial addition to the previously announced range of Iranian missiles.

It puts Israel and US bases in the Middle East in range, although Iran says it would only act in self-defence.

Mr Rafsanjani said Iranian experts could now achieve "all subsequent stages" in the missile production process.

New missile test

In August, Iran was reported to have test-fired a new version of its Shahab-3 missile. The old version was known to have a range of 1,296km (about 800 miles).

Mr Rafsanjani remains among the most influential conservative politicians in Iran, and is believed to have been the architect of Iran's nuclear programmes.

President for two terms from 1989-97, he is currently chairman of the powerful Expediency Council, as well as a deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts.

Though he was, in Iranian terms, pro-Western as a president, Mr Rafsanjani has been more closely associated with the conservative or hardline camp in recent years.

Israeli worries

Mr Rafsanjani's assertion comes at a time of increased tension regarding Iran's nuclear programme.

The Israelis say they are concerned, not simply about signs of Iran's growing military potential, but about Iran's belligerent manner.

The chief of Israeli military intelligence says Iran could be six months from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.

But Iran insists it has only peaceful nuclear intentions.

The BBC's David Bamford says its statements about missile capabilities are being seen as a response to speculation that Israel might take direct action if the Iranians get close to acquiring nuclear capabilities of any sort."