Monday, January 10, 2005

Some MeK members returned to Iran - (United Press International)

Some MeK members returned to Iran - (United Press International): "Some MeK members returned to Iran

Washington, DC, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The State Department said Monday some members of an Iranian rebel group have voluntarily repatriated to Iran from Iraq.


The Mujahedin-e-Khalq group is struggling to topple the Iranian regime but because of its involvement in bombings and other similar activities in the past the State Department considers it a foreign terrorist outfit.

An unspecified number of MeK activists, who were fighting against the Iranian regime with Saddam Hussein's support, were stranded in Iraq after U.S. troops removed the Iraqi dictator.

They were placed in a camp and were not allowed to leave despite demands by MEK supporters to allow them to participate in activities against Iran.

But Ereli said some of these MeK workers, "found not to have engaged in terrorist activity have (now) been voluntarily repatriated to Iran."

"There are others who do not want to go back to Iran, and third-country repatriation options are being looked at," he added.

The State Department official, however, said the U.S. position on the MeK has not changed. "It's a foreign terrorist organization and we're dealing with them as a foreign terrorist organization.""

The Daily Star - Halliburton wins Iran gas contract despite sanctions

The Daily Star - Business Articles - Halliburton wins Iran gas contract despite sanctions: "Halliburton wins Iran gas contract despite sanctions
U.S. firm seals deal through subsidiary company

Tender for drilling South Pars phases 9 and 10 is worth some $310 million
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
TEHRAN: Iran said Monday that U.S. oil giant Halliburton had won a major contract to drill for gas, despite U.S. sanctions against foreign investment in the country's energy industry. "Halliburton and Oriental Kish [an Iranian company] are the final winners of the tender for drilling South Pars phases 9 and 10," Pars Oil and Gas Company managing director Akbar Torkan said, according to state television. An unidentified Pars company board member said the deal for the gas fields in the Gulf off the south coast of Iran was worth about $310 million. He said Halliburton had not directly signed the contract but that it had offered its services via Oriental Kish. Under a law introduced in 1996, the United States threatens sanctions on both American and foreign companies investing more than $40 million in Iran's petroleum industry. Halliburton, once chaired by US Vice President Dick Cheney, has come under investigation in the United States for its dealings with Iran through a Cayman Islands subsidiary. The U.S. broke diplomatic ties with Tehran after Iranian university students stormed its mission in Tehran in 1980 and took diplomats hostage for 444 days. The United States also accuses Iran of covertly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran.


Iran, OPEC's second largest oil exporter, also has the world's second largest gas reserves. Phases 9 and 10 of South Pars, operated jointly by South Korean and Iranian companies, are expected to produce 50 million cubic meters of natural gas, 80,000 barrels of condensates and 400 tons of sulfur a day. In addition, the phases are expected to produce each year one million tons of ethane for petrochemical feedstock and 1.05 million tons of liquefied petroleum gas for export. Iran hopes to boost gas output from 110 billion cubic meters a year in 2000 to 292 billion cubic meters in 2010. Gas accounts for about one third of Iran's domestic energy consumption. - AFP"

Iran's membership in nuclear fuel cycle group important: MP

Iran's membership in nuclear fuel cycle group important: MP: "Iran’s membership in nuclear fuel cycle group important: MP
TEHRAN, Jan. 10 (MNA) -- Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Piruz Husseini, said here on Monday that technical experts are not the only representatives of member states at the Expert Group on Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle because legal and political figures are also representatives.
Foreign ministry diplomats from various countries, nuclear experts, and an expert on nuclear rights are attending the group’s current session in Vienna, which started on Monday, Husseini told the Mehr News Agency.

He said that so far the group, which is led by a Swiss expert, has held two meetings and is scheduled to hold a fourth meeting in February.

The third session of the Expert Group of Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle concludes on January 14.

The session is being attended by experts and diplomats from Canada, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Australia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, and Iran.

Iranian nuclear negotiator Sirus Naseri, who heads the Iran-EU joint nuclear working group, is also attending the talks after having been officially invited by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

Meanwhile, MP Kazem Jalali, the rapporteur of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, stressed that Iran’s membership in the IAEA nuclear fuel cycle group is important and can be effective.

Until recently, the IAEA director general had not invited Iran to join the nuclear fuel cycle group, despite the country’s request to become a member, Jalali told MNA on Monday.

However, the Europeans agreed in the Paris Pact (signed between Iran and the EU in November) to support Iran’s membership in the group, he said, adding, “This is one of the achievements Iran has gained from negotiations with Europe.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, the MP noted that some countries will seek to restrict the nuclear activities of countries which lack nuclear fuel at the IAEA’s next review conference, which is due to be held in spring 2005.

Referring to the remarks made by U.S. President George W. Bush in February 2004, Jalali said that the U.S. has called for dividing the world into two groups, namely countries with access to the nuclear fuel cycle and those that lack the technology, so that the former can export the fuel to the latter.

ElBaradei recently proposed halting the programs of countries active in the process of accessing the nuclear fuel cycle by asking them to observe a five-year moratorium on the construction of facilities for uranium enrichment and nuclear reprocessing, he added.

“So, under the current circumstances, our membership in the IAEA nuclear fuel cycle group, which will make one of the most important decisions on the issue, is very significant and can be effective,” he stated."

Iran, Azerbaijan to construct Shah Takhti bridge: Minister Ali Sufi

Iran, Azerbaijan to construct Shah Takhti bridge: minister: "Iran, Azerbaijan to construct Shah Takhti bridge: minister

TEHRAN, Jan. 10 (MNA) – Iranian Minister of Cooperatives Ali Sufi said on Monday that the Islamic republic of Iran and the Azerbaijan Republic are making preparations for construction of Shah Takhti bridge with credits worth over Rls.10bn.
He added that the two countries have reached the agreement to construct Astara-Baku Road at credits worth over $40m financially supported by Iran.

Underlying Iran’s cooperation in setting up Ordubad hydropower plant to supply electricity for Nakhichevan, the minister said that Iran and Azerbaijan have also agreed on building Astara Bridge to Azerbaijan.



Sufi stressed that the two parts will boost their transportation cooperation through establishment of Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railroad.

Furthermore, Tehran and Baku have reached the agreement on the customs issues as well as facilitating the traveling of the Iranian and Azerbaijani citizens in the frontier regions, he noted.

In conclusion, Sufi expressed satisfaction on the recently made memoranda of understanding (MOU) by Iran and Azerbaijan as well as the increase of the bilateral cooperation."

Halliburton and Oriental Kish win Iranian Drilling Contract

MENAFN - Middle East North Africa . Financial Network: "Halliburton wins gas contract in Iran despite sanctions

NewsStand - Monday, January 10, 2005

Agence France-Presse
TEHRAN, Jan 10 (AFP)

TEHRAN, Jan 10 (AFP) - Iran said Monday that US oil giant Halliburton had won a major contract to drill for gas, despite US sanctions against foreign investment in the country's energy industry.

"Halliburton and Oriental Kish (an Iranian company) are the final winners of the tender for drilling South Pars phases 9 and 10," the head of Pars Oil Gas Company, Akbar Torkan, was quoted as saying by state television.

An unnamed company official quoted by the reformist Shargh newspaper said the deal for the gas fields in the Gulf off the south coast of Iran was worth about 310 million dollars.

He said Halliburton had not directly signed the contract but that it had offered its services via Oriential Kish.

Under a law introduced in 1996, the United States threatens sanctions on both American and foreign companies investing more than 40 million dollars in Iran's petroleum industry.

Halliburton, once chaired by US Vice President Dick Cheney, has come under investigation in the United States for its dealings with Iran through a Cayman Islands subsidiary.

Iran, which is OPEC's second largest oil exporter, also has the world's second largest gas reserves.

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Iran-US-energy-gas-company-Halliburton"

BBC NEWS | Business | Iran budget seeks state sell-offs

BBC NEWS | Business | Iran budget seeks state sell-offs: "Iran budget seeks state sell-offs

Mohammad Khatami has a fight on his hands over privatisation
Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, has unveiled a budget designed to expand public spending by 30% but loosen the Islamic republic's dependence on oil.
The budget for the fiscal year starting on 21 March calls for the sell-off of 20% of the state's corporate holdings.

Mr Khatami's second term as president ends on 1 August, making this his last budget.

But opposition from members of parliament who have attacked previous privatisations could block his plans.

Elections in May 2004 ousted many of Mr Khatami's supporters in parliament in favour of more hard-line religious conservatives.

Late last year, they backed a law which would give parliament a veto over foreign investment.

The ruling was a response to the involvement in telecoms and airport projects by Turkish companies, which hardliners accused of doing business with Israel.

It came not long after the Expediency Council - Iran's ultimate decision-maker - blessed Mr Khatami's policy of selling stakes in sectors protected by the constitution such as energy, transport, telecoms and banking.

Continued obstruction of foreign investment could get in the way not only of privatisation plans, but also of Mr Khatami's hope of modestly reducing the government's reliance on oil revenues.

More tax, less oil

In an address to the Majlis, Mr Khatami predicted economic growth of 7.1% in 2005-6, up from 6.7% in the current year.

He said he wanted to increase the 2005-6 budget to 1,546 trillion rials ($175.6bn; £93.6bn) from the previous year's 1,070 trillion.

Within that figure, taxation would rise to $14.3bn, a rise of over 40% from what is expected from the current year.

In contrast, oil revenues were expected to fall to $14.1bn from $16bn in the year to March 2005.

"Current government expenditure should come from tax revenues," Mr Khatami said.

"Oil revenues should be used for productive investment."

Mr Khatami has already been blocked by parliament from reducing the subsidies on many products including bread and petrol, reducing his room to manoeuvre."