Tuesday, December 21, 2004

UN Assembly denounces Islamic Law in Iran, Turkmenistan

Khaleej Times Online: "UN Assembly denounces abuses in Iran, Turkmenistan
(Reuters)

Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew says it, "was necessary to send the message to Iran that change is necessary". Maybe he means that all of Iran should convert top the lukewarm bastardized form of Christianity common in Canada.

21 December 2004
UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. General Assembly criticised Iran on Monday for public executions, torture, arbitrary sentencing, flogging, stoning and systematic discrimination against women.

Sponsored by Canada, the human rights resolution was adopted by a vote of 71 in favor, 54 against with 55 abstentions in the 191-member assembly.

The measure also rebuked Iran, a Shi’ite Muslim country, for discrimination against minorities, including Christians, Jews, Sunnis and especially the Bahais, who are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention.

The resolution also said there was a “worsening situation with regard to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the media and noted the the “targeted disqualification” of reformists in Iran’s parliamentary elections.

But the resolution welcomed Iran’s invitation to human rights monitors and hoped it would carry out recent legislation against torture.

“We brought forward this resolution because we believe that concerted international attention was necessary to send the message to Iran that change is necessary and that it must meet its human rights obligations.” Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said in a statement from Ottawa.

Photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian citizen of Iranian descent, died in custody in Iran in June 2003, from a blow to the head, seriously damaging relations between Ottawa and Teheran.

Iran made no comment on Monday. But in November when an assembly committee passed the draft resolution, Iranian envoy Paimaneh Hasteh called the charges baseless. She accused Canada of introducing the measure in response to a domestic outcry over the death of Kazemi.

The Geneva-based U.N. Commission on Human Rights has adopted annual resolutions on Iran’s human rights record from 1984 to 2001, and the assembly followed suit.

But in 2002, the draft was narrowly defeated in Geneva and not revived by the assembly until last year when Canada insisted on a measure.

Nevertheless, the vote showed a majority of nations either abstained or opposed the resolution, a trend on rights measures targeted at individual nations.

Turkmenistan, Congo
On November 24, a General Assembly committee killed resolutions denouncing rights abuses in Zimbabwe and Sudan, with South Africa arguing that Western nations imposed double standards on poor countries.

But the assembly allowed a resolution on Turkmenistan, where opposition is banned and state power is concentrated around the president.

The former Soviet republic was called on to cooperate with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose officials it had expelled, and grant visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as lawyers and relatives, to those in detention.

With the support of China and Pakistan, Turkmenistan’s ambassador, Aksoltan Ataeva, argued against the measure, saying that her country had promised to institute the requested reforms but it was “naive to expect great results” in a short time.

But the resolution was adopted by a vote of 69 in favor, 47 against with 63 abstentions.

On the Democratic Republic of Congo, where war crimes are rampant, a resolution was adopted by 76 to 2 with a record 100 abstentions. Rwanda and Uganda, accused of intervention in the Congo, objected and the United States opposed references to the new International Criminal Court on war crimes, which it wants deleted from all resolutions."

Xinhua - English

Xinhua - English: "Iran demands evidence on US accusation of interference in Iraq

www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-21 19:58:54

TEHRAN, Dec. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran Tuesday termed the United States accusation of Tehran's interference in Iraq's internal affairs as "spread of rumors", the official IRNA news agency reported Tuesday.

"We have always kept saying that the Americans must offer their evidence for their accusation of Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs. Surprisingly, their only valid proof is that Iran and Iraq are neighbors," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi was quoted as saying.

Asefi's comments came after the US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Monday expressed concerns over "Iran's interference in internal affairs of Iraq."

Asefi said that the US officials were accustomed to "attributing baseless charges to others through their tribunes".

"Despite all US charges against Iran and its interference, Tehran's principle policy towards Baghdad is to prevent involvement in Iraq's internal affairs and to assist restoration of security and stability in that country," Asefi added.

Iran has been closely watching the developments in its western neighbor since the downfall of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

However, the US and Iraq's interim government have repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in internal affairs of the war-torn country with its influence upon the Iraqi Shiite Muslims. Enditem"

Reuters AlertNet - U.S. seeking talks with Iran - Iran official

Reuters AlertNet - U.S. seeking talks with Iran - Iran official: "

U.S. seeking talks with Iran - Iran official
21 Dec 2004 11:27:28 GMT

Source: Reuters

TEHRAN, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Washington wants to hold direct talks with Tehran, with which it broke ties 24 years ago, to discuss a number of issues including the Islamic state's nuclear programme, a senior Iranian security official said on Tuesday.

Hossein Mousavian, one of Iran's chief negotiators on the nuclear issue, also said Iran had no objections to European Union efforts to involve Washington in negotiations aimed at dispelling international concerns about Iran's atomic ambitions.

EU officials privately acknowledge that their efforts to persuade Tehran to give up sensitive nuclear activities, such as uranium enrichment, have little chance of success without full U.S. support and involvement in the talks.

"The United States wants negotiations with Iran and definitely doesn't like having a mediator in between, even if the Europeans want to mediate," the official IRNA news agency quoted Mousavian as saying.

"But they are after comprehensive and conclusive talks which cover all disputed issues," he said.

U.S. and Iranian officials have held occasional talks in the past on specific issues such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

But such talks broke down last year when Washington accused Iran of providing shelter for al Qaeda operatives behind bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia.

"The Europeans have launched massive efforts to bring the United States into the nuclear negotiations," said Mousavian, who is secretary of the foreign policy committee on Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

"We have no objection to the Americans joining the Europeans in this process," he added.

Washington accuses Iran of trying to make nuclear weapons under the cover of a civil nuclear energy programme. Iran denies this.

"If the Americans want to hamper the Iran-EU cooperation, they can be effective and no one can deny it ... US interaction with Europe in this process is important from our point of view, nevertheless our partner is Europe not America," he added.

"I don't reject the possibility of nuclear talks between Iran and the United States, but I cannot predict the future," Mousavian said.

URANIUM FOR ENRICHMENT

In Vienna, diplomats said Iran would continue preparing raw "yellowcake" uranium for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, until the end of February, despite a recent pledge to freeze all such activity.

"The Iranians have decided to continue UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) production until the end of February," a diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Two other diplomats in Vienna, where the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is based, confirmed this.

UF4 is the precursor to uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the gas that is fed into centrifuges which spin at supersonic speeds to purify it for use as fuel in civilian nuclear power plants or in atomic weapons. Iran recently pledged to freeze all activities linked to uranium enrichment as a confidence-building gesture."

Iran's top WTO negotiator disappointed

IranMania News: "Iran's top WTO negotiator disappointed

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Dec 21 (IranMania) - Iran's top WTO negotiator said that the Islamic state had expected the organization to vote for the start of its membership talks following the groundbreaking nuclear agreement it reached with the EU3 last month.

The US vetoed Iran's 20th bid for talks on its WTO membership earlier this month.

Esfandiar Ommidbakhsh, Iran's plenipotentiary representative to the World Trade Organization, further told the Seminar on Iran's WTO Accession that the country's economic and security conditions are not comparable to those of Iraq and Afghanistan, stressing that the two war-torn countries have managed to get their accession talks started while Iran's request remains on hold for purely political reasons.

He said Iran has embarked on various key research projects in agriculture, services, communications, banking, automotive, chemical and textile sectors, stressing that the Khatami administration has set up several committees in which 15 ministers share their views on ways to improve the national economy.

Also speaking at the seminar was former World Trade Organization (WTO) director general, Mike Moore, who advised Iran not to wait until its membership request is approved.

"Countries which have managed to join WTO today began the process long ago," he said, adding that South Korea has turned from an impoverished East Asian nation to a wealthy country in the past 40 years.

He said Japan, which was devastated during World War II, also managed to get its economy back on its feet to become the world's second biggest economy after the US.

Moore had said last week that economic reforms could help improve Iran's economy far more than the country's accession to WTO.

He also said although WTO entry is essential, it would be more beneficial for Asian economies to embark, first and foremost, on economic reforms.

He said countries which could join the WTO rapidly were those whose political leaders are resolved to traverse the path of membership.

Moore did not respond to Iran Daily's question about the possible impact of Iran's WTO accession on US economic sanctions against the Islamic state."