Reuters: Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice articulated a firm U.S. line against Iran's ruling mullahs, whose nuclear ambitions the Bush administration considers a major threat, in testimony at her Senate confirmation hearings. In two days of Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings that ended on Wednesday, Rice repeatedly emphasized differences with Tehran's clerical leaders, saying: "It's really hard to find common ground with a government that thinks Israel should be extinguished."
Reuters: Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says there is no alternative to Europe's approach of using diplomacy to try to persuade Iran to give up any technology that could be used make nuclear weapons. In an interview with the Financial Times, Straw defended the policy of Britain, France and Germany to talk to Iran rather adopt Washington's more hardline stance.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 19 - Fourteen people were killed yesterday and eleven others left injured when a bus and a truck collided in Fars province (southern Iran), according to the state-run news agency IRNA.
New York Times: A number of Iranian officials declared Tuesday that Iran would not be intimidated by threats, a day after President Bush refused to rule out military action against Iran if it continued to pursue nuclear weapons.
Iran Focus: Paris, Jan. 18 Iranians are planning a massive rally in Paris on the twenty-sixth anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution to call for an end to theocratic rule in their country. Organisers are expecting a huge turnout in the event scheduled for February 10 at Place Trocadero in central Paris.
We are going to call every man and woman of conscience in the world to join us on February 10, said Elham Parsafar of the Paris-based Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran.
The New Yoker: George W. Bushs reëlection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state.
Xinhua: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has urged Iranian leaders not to block the talks mediated by European countries in a bid to curb Teheran's nuclear program.
"It is the hope of the world this year... that a comprehensive and lasting accord can be reached," said Schroeder, noting that progress had been made at talks led by Britain, France and Germany,the so-called "Big Three" in the European Union (EU), since last year.
The following press release has been sent to Iran Focus by Sara Safeed (Persian Mirror): Internationally renowned recording artist Andy has put his talented song-writing skills to a new project called Babak and Friends A First Norooz. The famed pop star, who has just returned from a world tour is heading into the studio to record the new Norooz song next week. Andy joins a cast of talented artists and actors, including legendary actor Parviz Sayyad and Ali Pourtash in this first-time Norooz project for children and adults alike.
The Times: Shirin Ebadi, Irans Nobel peace prizewinner who has defied a summons to appear before the feared Revolutionary Court, yesterday called on her countrys authorities to ban the use of solitary confinement. The practice amounted to torture and was a tool of unpopular governments, she told a rare conference where several former prisoners gave accounts of their experiences in solitary confinement.
New York Times: The Bush administration imposed penalties this month against some of China's largest companies for aiding Iran's efforts to improve its ballistic missiles. The move is part of an effort by the White House and American intelligence agencies to identify and slow important elements of Iran's weapons programs. The White House made no public announcement of the penalties, and the State Department placed a one-page notice on page 133 of The Federal Register early this month listing eight Chinese companies affected.
Reuters: U.S. President George W. Bush says he will not rule out military action against Iran if that country is not more forthcoming about its suspected nuclear weapons programme. "I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," Bush said in an interview with NBC News when asked if he would rule out the potential for military action against Iran "if it continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program."
Iran Focus: Baghdad, Jan. 17 At a conference in Baghdad today, some 3,230 eminent Iraqi law experts and lawyers released a statement on the legal status of the main Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran, calling it a legitimate movement. The conference in the Babylon Hotel was attended by more than 1,000 Iraqi law experts and political and social figures in support of the Iranian opposition, and by over 50 different media organisations.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 17 Young doctors in Iran are living under the poverty line with many of them forced to find alternative work to earn enough to get by, according to head of Iranian Doctors' Society.
Iran Focus: Baghdad, Jan. 17 - The Iraqi Defence Minister, Hazem al-Shaalan today accused Iran of interference, saying, "Iran has spent more than $1 billion on meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq". In a telephone interview with the Arab language Ilaf website, al-Shaalan also accused candidates on the opposition list of Shiite figures led by Abdol Aziz Hakim as a group trying to invite sectarian and religious strife among the people of Iraq.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 17 Two teenage students hanged themselves in the town of Sirjan (southern Iran) on Friday. Mohammad-Javad Maki-Abadi, a second year high school student, and Asghar Maki-Abadi, a third year high school student, were cousins. They committed suicide in Mohammad-Javad's house when all of their relatives were out. The exact motive has yet to be confirmed.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 17 The Head of Iran's Addiction Prevention Office said that the drug addiction rate had surpassed the population increase rate by three times.
"Based on statistics obtained over the last 30 years, drug addiction has increased by eight percent, which is the equivalent of three times the growth of the population", ...
Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 17 Eighty-nine percent of unemployed women in Iran are highly educated, with many in universities, according to a senior government expert. "About 88.7 percent of unemployed women in Iranian cities and 59.4 percent of unemployed women in rural areas are highly educated", Ladan Nowrouzi said, in an interview with ...
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