AFP: Iran's Islamic regime remained at the centre of international concerns in 2004 by pressing on with a suspect nuclear programme, testing new ballistic missiles, ousting reformists from office and clamping down on dissent. After an often turbulent experiment with reforms, powerful hardliners marked the Islamic republic's 25th anniversary by barring allies of President Mohammad Khatami from standing in February's parliamentary elections on the grounds of their questionable loyalty to the regime.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 13 - Workers and local residents in the northern Iranian city of Amol clashed with the security forces, leaving scores injured and a number of security vehicles destroyed. Workers from Amol's Textile Factory demonstrated outside the local governor's office after the factory claimed bankruptcy whilst owing the workers back-pay ...
Reuters: Three European powers and Iran have begun talks on a long-term agreement on nuclear, economic and security cooperation with both sides seeking to build trust amid continuing suspicion over Tehran's atomic programme. The meeting between Iranian negotiator Hassan Rohani, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana followed Iran's agreement last month to suspend activities that could help make a nuclear bomb.
Amnesty International: A 19-year old girl, Leyla M, who has a mental age of eight, reportedly faces imminent execution for morality-related offences after being forced into prostitution by her mother as a child. According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak and the sentence has now been passed to the Supreme Court for confirmation.
AFP: Iran's conservative-held parliament has decided to investigate the activities of the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, one of the few institutions still run by reformers, the official news agency IRNA reported Monday. According to the report, deputies in the parliament's culture committee ...
AFP: Iran's reformist government admitted Monday that it was concerned over how the hardline judiciary managed to exact written apologies and confessions from several detained dissident journalists. "People making statements that go against their convictions cannot win the confidence of public opinion and raise questions," government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh told journalists.
AFP: The former head of Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezai, announced on Monday that he will stand in presidential elections scheduled for mid-2005. "People need candidates who are efficient as well as politically serious," Rezai told a news conference, adding that he had "clear plans for management and solving people's problems."
Sunday Times: Claims of an Iranian plot to manipulate forthcoming elections in neighbouring Iraq have complicated plans for next months polls and heightened tension between the Sunni and Shiite factions in Baghdad. Scrutiny of Tehrans role in allegedly attempting to influence the Iraqi poll has risen after a claim by King Abdullah of Jordan that more than 1m Iranians have crossed their 900-mile long border with Iraq.
Reuters:The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed Monday to begin accession talks with Iraq and Afghanistan, but the United States again blocked any such negotiations with Iran, diplomats said. The go-ahead for Iraq and Afghanistan came with no dissenting voice among the trade body's 148 member states, but Washington said it was still studying Iran's request -- the same answer it has given for the past three years.
AFP: Iran must respect the spirit as well as the letter of an agreed nuclear fuel cycle freeze, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said ahead of EU-Iran talks Monday on confidence measures to show Tehran is not making atomic weapons. But Tehran hinted it was ready to reintroduce a demand, already refused by the European Union, for some nuclear equipment to be exempted from the freeze.
Washington Post: The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials.
AFP: The European Union and Iran begin talks Monday towards giving Tehran trade, technology and security rewards for suspending crucial nuclear activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons. The process is fraught with difficulties since Iran says its suspension of uranium enrichment, a key step in making nuclear fuel, is a temporary measure designed to show its intentions are peaceful while EU negotiators ...
AFP: Iran's judiciary has arrested 18 people, most of them customs officials, for involvement in a smuggling racket that brought in millions of dollars of televisions, DVD players and hi-fi systems, the state news agency IRNA said Sunday.
AFP: Iran on Sunday accused the United States of selfishly "pursuing its own interests" by pushing for reforms in the Arab and Muslim world, saying the initiative was of no benefit to the Middle East. "America is only pursuing its own interests, and we believe plans imposed from the outside will not be of any benefit to the region," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
Reuters: Iran intends to use Monday's talks with France, Britain and Germany to ensure it has the right to go on carrying out research with equipment that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, Western diplomats said. Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, will meet foreign ministers of the EU's "big three" in Brussels on Monday for talks on details of a deal that would reward Iran for taking steps to assure the world it is not developing an atom bomb.
AFP: Iran's top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani warned Sunday that the Islamic republic would abandon key talks with the European Union on its nuclear programme if it was clear no progress was being made. The talks, set to begin in Brussels on Monday, are aimed at building on Iran's agreement to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment ...