Monday, November 08, 2004

Bloomberg.com: Europe Iran Reaches Preliminary Nuclear Accord With Europe, IRNA Says

Bloomberg.com: Europe: "Iran Reaches Preliminary Nuclear Accord With Europe, IRNA Says
Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian and European officials reached a preliminary agreement on the Islamic nation's nuclear program after two days of talks in Paris, the state- owned Iranian news agency said, citing an Iranian official.

``All four delegations are supposed to go to their capitals and if the capitals agree with the agreement, it will be officially announced in the next few days,'' Hossein Mousavian, the head of the Iran's delegation in the French capital told state television, IRNA reported.

Representatives from Germany, France, and Britain are leading European Union efforts to find a solution to Iran's uranium enrichment program before the next IAEA meeting. Failure to negotiate a settlement may lead the U.S. to seek UN sanctions against Iran. The U.S. suspects Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful uses.

There are conflicting reports about whether an accord has been settled as the two sides are expected to hold another meeting before the International Atomic Energy Agency meets on Nov. 25, IRNA said, citing an unidentified diplomat close the IAEA. IRNA earlier citied an unidentified official in Paris as saying the two sides failed to reach an agreement."

Iran's Interior Ministry has fixed Friday May 13 Presidential Election

IranMania News: "Iran's presidential election set for May 13

Monday, November 08, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 8 (IranMania) - Iran's Interior Ministry has fixed Friday May 13 as the date for the next presidential election, an official spokesman was quoted as saying Sunday.

The student news agency ISNA quoted Jahanbakhsh Khanjani as saying the Ministry had announced the date in a letter to top regime officials also involved in preparing for the polls.

Iran's current president, the mild-mannered moderate cleric Mohammad Khatami, is nearing the end of his second consecutive and therefore final term and speculation is mounting over who will run for the job.

All would-be candidates need to be vetted by the Guardians Council, an unelected conservative-controlled body that vets all legislation and those seeking public office.

Last month the body stood by its interpretation of a single but ambiguous word in the constitution that it says excludes women for standing for the presdidency.

The embattled reformist movement had been trying to persuade former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Moussavi to be their candidate, but he has refused.

On the conservative side, potential candidates include former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, now an advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Other names cited include top national security official Hassan Rowhani and former state media chief Ali Larijani.

Powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has also been openly mulling whether or not to stand again for the presidency.

Rafsanjani served two terms as president from 1989 to 1997, and is allowed to stand for a third because the law only bars presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms. The charismatic cleric currently heads Iran's top political arbitration body, the Expediency Council."

Aljazeera.Net - Experts: Politics ruin Iran's economy

Aljazeera.Net - Experts: Politics ruin Iran's economy: "Experts: Politics ruin Iran's economy

Eleven prominent Iranian economists have issued a dire warning to the Islamic Republic's leadership, complaining that political squabbling had left fundamental weaknesses in the economy ignored.

In an open letter carried in several national newspapers on Monday, the group of top university academics lashed out at what they said was a "society infected by politics" and policies dictated by "emotions and idealism regardless of their economic consequences".

The professors also cautioned over continued "isolation in the international arena and blanket state administration in the manufacturing, industrial and service sectors".

Iran was also over-dependent on oil revenues and suffering budget shortfalls, financial and administrative corruption, stubbornly high unemployment, lofty state subsidies, technological underdevelopment, smuggling and making uncompetitive products, they said.

"For a country like ours, whose administration has been always in the hands of a certain domain of limited figures, there can be no room for the justification of absurd trials and errors" or "spontaneous initiatives without scientific basis," the letter said.

Political feuds have left economic woes ignored, say experts

The 11 signatories of the letter, timed to figure in the debate ahead of the presidential election scheduled for May 2005, are from several top universities across the country. A number of them have served in state economic organisations.

The warning is a direct challenge to Iran's conservative-held parliament, elected in February after most pro-reform candidates were barred from contesting the polls.

Conservatives pledged to focus their attention on bread-and-butter issues, accusing reformists loyal to President Muhammad Khatami of having spent too much time on social and cultural reforms.

But the parliament, or Majlis, has yet to focus much of its attention on issues such as the burden of energy subsidies, high inflation - 15% officially, around 30% unofficially - or downsizing or privatising state bodies.

Deputies have also openly opposed several major contracts signed with foreign firms, giving parliament a veto right over multi-million dollar deals inked with Turkish companies and covering the airport and telecommunications sectors.

Reformists have accused hardliners in parliament of being hostile to what they see as badly-needed foreign investment."