Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bush Allows Rare Visit to Iran Despite Nuke Crisis

International News Article | Reuters.com: "Bush Allows Rare Visit to Iran Despite Nuke Crisis

By Saul Hudson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration has allowed a rare, cultural visit to Iran, approving a trip this week by the congressional librarian in a small gesture to the Islamic republic despite a looming nuclear crisis.

The move came as newly re-elected President Bush pursues a tough line against Iran, including a push this month for the U.N. Security Council to take up the case of Tehran's nuclear ambitions for possible international sanctions.

James Billington, the congressional librarian and a presidential appointee, arrived in Iran on the weekend hoping to expand the legislature's collection of Iranian publications on a trip that ends on Friday, his office said.

He was invited by Iran's chief librarian, a post President Mohammad Khatami used to hold.

While U.S. officials played down the significance of the trip, Western diplomats and analysts said the administration appeared to want to keep up some level of contact with the country despite tense relations.

The trip is symbolic because the United States, unlike its key European allies, has generally shunned diplomatic overtures to a country Bush labeled as part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea and prewar Iraq.

"Allowing certain exchanges doesn't seem to me totally inconsistent with the prospect that some day Iran might change those areas of behavior that are so important to us," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The trip and other occasional U.S. gestures in recent years such as aid for earthquake victims and wrestling matches were unlikely to quickly improve relations, he added.

The United States cut ties with Iran in 1980 and the enmity between the two countries still runs deep. On Wednesday, thousands of Iranians burned the Stars-and-Stripes to mark the 25th anniversary of the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by radical Islamic students.

The Bush administration accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear bombs and wants the International Atomic Energy Agency to report it at a Nov. 25 meeting to the Security Council for defying the watchdog's demands to halt uranium enrichment.

Iran says its programs are peaceful and that it has the right to enrich uranium, which can be used for power or to make bombs.

The deadlock could present Bush with one of the toughest challenges of his second term because his options are limited and many in Tehran are determined to acquire a nuclear arsenal, according to political analysts.

With European powers seeking to resolve the nuclear crisis through negotiations, a Western diplomat welcomed the librarian's trip. "Anything that helps create better atmospherics is positive," he said. "

AP Wire | 11/03/2004 | Ex-Hostages See Terror Roots in 1979 Iran

AP Wire | 11/03/2004 | Ex-Hostages See Terror Roots in 1979 Iran: "Ex-Hostages See Terror Roots in 1979 Iran

MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press
McLEAN, Va. - In the minds of many, terrorists struck their first blow against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. But others look back exactly a quarter-century ago, on Nov. 4, 1979, when 66 Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.

Most remained in captivity for 444 days. Today, reflecting on their experiences through the prism of 9-11, the war in Iraq and two decades of tumultuous relations with the Middle East, many say the United States was too late to recognize that a new era had begun.

"The day they took us is the day they should have started the war on terrorism," said Rodney "Rocky" Sickmann, 47, of St. Louis County, Mo., an embassy security guard.

Many agree that terrorists were emboldened by their success in the Iran hostage crisis - none of the hostages were killed, but the U.S. government agreed to release $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets - and see the kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq as a consequence.

"Given the terrorist modus operandi nowadays, we probably wouldn't come out alive. They weren't as bold then. They had a latent fear of the United States," said Chuck Scott, 72, of Jonesboro, Ga., a former Green Beret in Vietnam who was an Army colonel when he was taken hostage.

Steven Kirtley, 47, of McLean, who was a Marine security guard at the embassy, said that while he's grateful everybody survived, he's also angry about what he sees as America's largely ineffectual response to the hostage-takers. He called the episode "a stepping stone to get that terrorist movement going. It was such a terrible loss of face ... such a show of weakness that I still don't think we've recovered."

Fifty-two of the hostages were held for the entire 444 days. Of those, 11 have since died.

Among the rest, memories of that time have resurfaced with the kidnappings and beheadings of Americans in Iraq.

"When I saw them there blindfolded with the guys with the ski masks on - I had gone through those things in Iran," said Rick Kupke, 57, of Rensselaer, Ind. "I can tell exactly what they felt and the fear that's going through them."

William Blackburn Royer Jr., 73, of Katy, Texas, remembers being jolted awake by the screams of his captors, "herded like cattle" into another room, stripped naked and forced up against a wall in front of a firing squad.

"The whole thing was a shock to the system - my legs were shaking from the insecurity of the situation," he said. "It was intended as a good psychological upheaval."

Still, he was not sure if he would be killed.

"I knew this was a political thing," he said. "Ultimately, I think I thought that we were too valuable to be disposed of completely. So I kept the faith in that respect. (But) I had my doubts at a couple points."

Paul Needham said he remembers reciting the 23rd Psalm as he was lined up for a firing squad. He said he reflects on his captivity every day.

"It definitely changed me," said Needham, 53, of Oakton, Va., a professor at the National Defense University. "I took a look at getting my priorities in life in order - God and family and country, rather than work, work and work."

While nearly all the hostages said they feared for their lives at some point, many said their memories center on the tedium. Most hostages were largely isolated, and many said they were allowed outside for exercise less than once a month.

During a six-week stint in solitary confinement, Gary Earl Lee said he "made friends" with ants and a salamander that inhabited his room. He would tease the ants with a pistachio nut, letting them almost reach it before nudging it farther away.

"At least they were something better than the guards," said Lee, a retiree living in south Texas.

L. Bruce Laingen, of Bethesda, the embassy's charge d'affaires, was the highest ranking American taken hostage. He said it doesn't make sense that 25 years later the United States has little dialogue with Iran, considering the large American stake in the Middle East.

He mainly faulted Iranian leaders for pursuing hostile policies such as developing nuclear technology and continuing to threaten Israel. He has lingering bitterness for the men and women who took him hostage.

But he doesn't blame the Iranian people, who he said were welcoming.

"We need to understand Iran, and Iran needs to seek to understand us," he said.

Scott said he's still frustrated that the U.S. government has never held Iran accountable for taking the hostages.

"I agree with the war on terrorism, but the war on terror by the current administration has been a very selective war. So far we've gone after the really easy targets," said Scott, who opposed going into Iraq but says America must now remain committed to finishing the job there.

Kirtley, on the other hand, believes America is on the right track with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's the right approach," he said. "That culture responds more to strength than to a negotiated response."

As for the anniversary, many said they prefer to remember another day.

"We celebrate Jan. 20, the anniversary of our release," Laingen said. "That's a good day. Nov. 4 is the day the roof fell in."

---

Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Richmond, Va.; Steve Manning in College Park, Md.; Russ Bynum in Savannah, Ga.; Carol Druga in Indianapolis and Betsy Taylor in St. Louis contributed to this report."

Demonstrators issue resolution on struggle against global arrogance

Description of Selected News: "Demonstrators issue resolution on struggle against global arrogance

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) -- Iranians on Wednesday went to the streets and staged rallies to commemorate the 13th of Aban, the national day of struggle against global arrogance and the anniversary of university students’ 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy, which was called the Den of Spies.

At the end of the demonstration, referring to the sayings of the founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Imam Khomeini, who called the seizure of the U.S. Den of Spies the “second revolution”, demonstrators issued a resolution in which they underlined the Islamic Republic of Iran’s right to access to civilian nuclear technology and announced that the voice of the Majlis is the voice of the alert and aware Iranians who are prepared to defend Iran. They also stated that as long as the United States continues hegemonic policies such as interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries, there would be no room for any kind of negotiations or relations between Iran and the U.S. The statement said, “The United States should recognize the legal rights of Iran to develop nuclear technology and should stop interfering in the domestic affairs of Iran and other Islamic countries, and we announce from now on that the era of U.S. domination is over.”

Another part of the resolution read, “We announce again that the United States is the greatest supporter of terrorism, i.e. the Zionist regime, and the main obstacle in the way of recognizing the legitimate right of the Palestinians to rule their own territories,” adding that the world should not pay the price for U.S. unilateralism because the world, the Islamic world, and particularly the crisis-stricken Middle East needs peace, security, and stability more than anything else.

In conclusion, the students’ statement underlined the fact that the Islamic Republic and the late Imam can never be separated, and said that the Islamic system, velayat-e faqih (rule by the supreme jurisprudent), and religious democracy are the eternal heritage of the late Imam Khomeini and Iranians were hereby renewing their commitment to the great causes of the late Imam Khomeini."

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Commerce Ministry seeking relaxed tariffs

Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Nov 3 (IranMania) - Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari said on Tuesday that his Ministry is not responsible for 'illegal trade', stressing that the Commerce Ministry is seeking to make import tariffs more logical.

"Smuggling must be dealt with through legal and security mechanisms," he said, adding that the law enforcement forces have been successful in checking smuggling of goods via certain entry points.

He expressed unawareness about whether state organizations are involved in smuggling, stressing that his Ministry is not involved in intelligence affairs, Iran Daily reported.

Shariatmadari further said that there is no free trade zone without a branch of the Customs Administration in Iran.

"Despite the presence of customs offices, there are no restrictions on import of goods into free trade zones but customs regulations applicable for the mainland may discourage investments," he said, adding that the mainland's trade rules do not apply to FTZs.

A senior Iran's Customs Administration official said earlier that the huge difference between the prices of goods in Iran and in other parts of the world has made smuggling a lucrative business.

Deputy head of Iran's Customs Administration, Mahmoud Beheshtian, told Fars news agency that smuggling of goods to and from Iran is so profitable that smugglers continue their illegal business despite the heavy penalties.

He further said that the same problem is to blame for the upsurge in the illegal trade in gasoline, bread, flour and medicine as well as of shoes and garments.

The official noted that poverty and unemployment in border areas also play a major role in the rise in smuggling of goods to and from the country, adding that many people in border areas earn their livelihood in this way."