Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Iran to hold presidential polls next May - Mostafa Moein Liberal Hope

Iran to hold presidential polls next May: "Iran to hold presidential polls next May

TEHRAN (dpa) - Iran is to hold presidential elections on May 13 next year, the Teheran press quoted the interior ministry as saying on Monday.
According to the constitution, the reformist President Mohammad Khatami cannot run for a third term.

Analysts say the vote is crucial for the embattled reformist movement which wants to continue the liberalisation course started when Khatami came to power in 1997.

But conservatives rule the judiciary and senate-like Guardian Council, and have a majority in parliament following the disqualification of reformist candidates by the clergy in the last elections.

Although none of the potential candidates have yet declared their intention to run for president, the local press has been speculating over possible nominees.

The most prominent is former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, 70, a moderate conservative who held the post from 1989 to 1997.

Another hopeful is Hassan Rowhani, 63, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and currently chief negotiator in the nuclear dispute with the European Union.

The reformists are pinning their hopes on Mostafa Moein, a former higher education minister who resigned after police suppressed student unrest last year."

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "Iran able to churn out medium-range missiles
Tue 9 November, 2004 08:57

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran says it is now able to manufacture large quantities of its medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which defence experts say is capable of hitting Israel or U.S. bases in the Gulf.

"We have the capability to mass-produce Shahab-3 missiles," Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani told reporters on Tuesday.

His comments, reported on several local news agencies, were confirmed by the Defence Ministry.

Iran first deployed the Shahab-3 to its Revolutionary Guards in 2003. Officials have repeatedly said in recent months they could use Shahab-3 to strike back at Israel should it try to attack its nuclear facilities.

Israel and the United States accuse Iran of developing nuclear warheads to deliver with the Shahab-3 but Iran says its atomic facilities are geared solely to generating electricity.

Iran recently announced it had improved Shahab-3's accuracy and increased its range to 1,250 miles (2,000 km).

That potentially brought parts of southern Europe within Iran's reach but Shamkhani said the increased range was merely so that Iran could launch the missile from anywhere within its own borders.

"The change in Shahab-3's range is based on this concept, not to threaten a certain country," he said.

He also denied accusations that Iran is developing a long-range missile with a range of up to 2,500 miles (4,000 km).

"This is what the Israelis say," Shamkhani said. "They want to imply that we are seeking to threaten Europe, but we don't feel any threat from Europe."

"If we had invested in this we wouldn't be worried about saying so. In the past seven years we have been very transparent about announcing our missile capability," he said."