Iran Focus: Tehran, Mar. 15 Tehran was left in a standstill this evening as the population poured into the streets to mark the national 'fire' festival of Chahar-shanbeh Souri despite intense pressures by the Iranian regime to prevent a possible uprising. Eye-witnesses reported that full-size puppets of high-ranking officials, such as the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the regime's president Mohammad Khatami, were set on fire by youths at numerous locations throughout the Iranian capital.
Toronto Star - Editorial: Ayatollah Ali Khameini and Iran's ruling clerics seem perversely bent on plunging their nation of 68 million into an international black hole. The murder of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi in a Tehran jail in 2003 was symptomatic of what Human Rights Watch calls a general deterioration in respect for rights.
Bloomberg: The lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran, while building confidence, won't make the country give up nuclear fuel enrichment, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said today. Kharrazi also rejected a U.S. offer to support Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization and to consider sales of commercial aircraft parts to Iran if the country abandons its nuclear ambitions.
AFP: A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator said Monday that the European Union must accept Iran's controversial uranium enrichment programme, Iranian student news agency Isna reported. "The Europeans have continuously demanded a halt to enrichment but this demand was not included in the agreement... The Europeans must accept Iran's uranium enrichment," said Sirus Nasseri, referring to an initial deal reached with the EU last year.
AFP: The United States has given Europe what it expected by making trade concessions to Iran to help resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Monday. "These gestures made recently by the United States give us what we expected and show that the United States, like Russia and China . . . wants to give negatiations a chance," Barnier told reporters in Geneva.
Reuters: Iran, complaining of the slow pace of negotiations with the European Union over its nuclear program, said on Monday it may soon present the EU with a take-it-or-leave-it proposal to finalize the talks. Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed at peaceful power generation, but the EU and United States fear the country may be seeking to develop atomic weapons.
Toronto Star: Canada's foreign affairs minister will today demand that Iran take action to improve its record on human rights. "The human rights violations in Iran are serious and they must stop," Pierre Pettigrew will say in a speech to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The country has failed to implement many of its international obligations with respect to human rights, the foreign minister will say, according to a text of his speech obtained by the Toronto Star.
AP: President Bush's national security adviser insisted Sunday the United States is not making concessions to Iran, even though Washington has softened its stance against the nation that Bush recently labeled "the world's primary state sponsor of terror."
Stephen Hadley, in his first television appearances since becoming national security adviser last month, said the United States is supporting European allies as they try to negotiate an end to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons ambitions.
AFP: When behind the wheel, Iranian women have to put up with all sorts of verbal abuse from the testosterone-charged types that dominate the Islamic republic's highways -- such as being told to tend to a washing machine rather than a car. But Iran's women drivers, most of whom are clearly ill at ease navigating the anarchic road network, now have a national idol: a young woman nicknamed "Little Schumacher".
AFP: US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Sunday said Washington has not backed a military strike by Israel against suspected Iranian nuclear sites, contrary to press reports. When asked by ABC television's "This Week" program to respond to a report in the London Sunday Times that Israel may launch a unilateral attack on Iran if diplomacy fails, Rice insisted that Washington is committed to following a diplomatic course.
AFP: Iran's Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi said Sunday that US President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should be put on trial in an international court for "crimes against the people". "Rice is a terrorist and a number of crimes were committed in Palestine and in Iraq with her support. Rice, Bush and their companions should be hauled before an international tribunal for their crimes against the people," he told the student news agency ISNA.
Reuters: Iran has put on display three British naval boats it captured last year, shrugging off protests by London which has demanded their return, the official IRNA news agency reports. The boats, seized along with their crews by Iranian Revolutionary Guards last June in the Shatt al-Arab waterway which divides southwestern Iran from Iraq, were included in an exhibition of memorabilia from Iran's 1980-1988 war with Iraq.
Reuters: Washington is "hallucinating" if it thinks Iran will scrap its nuclear fuel production plans in return for economic incentives, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Sunday. The United States offered the encouragements in a bid to boost the European Union which is negotiating with Tehran to try to persuade it to give up sensitive nuclear activities.
AFP: The United States will pursue "stronger action" if Iran does not abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview Friday. The statement comes as Washington announced it would drop objections to Iran joining the World Trade Organization to support efforts by Britain, France and Germany aimed at persuading Tehran to end its suspect nuclear program.
New York Times: Europe's leading nations, yielding to American demands for a tougher stance on Iran, warned Friday that any failure by the Iranian government to give up its suspected nuclear arms program would leave them "no choice" but to seek punishments at the United Nations Security Council.
CNN: The United States has dropped its opposition to Iran's application for membership in the World Trade Organization in an effort to bolster European negotiations with the Tehran regime over its nuclear program. The three European countries negotiating with Iran -- Britain, Germany and France -- had been pressing the Bush administration to drop American opposition to Iran trying to enter the WTO, which facilitates ...
Daily Telegraph: Washington announced a major shift in its policy on Iran yesterday when it agreed to back Europe in offering economic incentives for Teheran to abandon its nuclear programme. The decision is the fruit of months of transatlantic diplomatic wrangling over the best way to stop the ruling clerics from acquiring nuclear weapons.