AP: Iran has begun production of a heavy machine-gun with armour-piercing bullets, state television reported Tuesday. Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said the 12.7-millimetre gun has a range of 2.5 kilometres and is suitable for snipers. "The United States had protested to a European country about selling the gun (to Iran), while we have already produced it," Shamkhani said. "Today the first consignment of the weapon was delivered."
Reuters: President George W. Bush is close to deciding whether to join Europe in offering incentives to Iran, including membership of the World Trade Organization, in exchange for Tehran's agreement to give up nuclear weapons, U.S. officials said on Monday. It would mark a significant shift in strategy for Bush, who has been reluctant to consider economic incentives for Iran to avoid being seen as rewarding bad behavior. He had been talking about taking Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran Focus: Washington, Feb. 28 The United States issued a damning report today on Iran's human rights violations as part of its 2004 annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The report said that the human rights situation in Iran had once again deteriorated over the past year.
"The right of citizens to change their government was restricted significantly".
Reuters: Outraged by scenes of young boys and girls using Shi'ite Islam's most sacred mourning day as an opportunity to flirt in public, Iran's religious hard-liners are calling on authorities to stamp out such "vulgar displays." Failure to do so, some newspaper commentators said, would force pious citizens to take matters into their own hands.
Iran Focus: Paris, Feb. 28 Emboldened by signs that the United States may be about to join the European Union's nuclear negotiations with Iran by offering incentives to Tehran, Iran is hardening its position and making a serious bid to dictate its terms during the nuclear talks with the European "big three", Britain, France, and Germany, an Iran expert said today.
Reuters: The head of the U.N.'s atomic watchdog says Iran must be more open with inspectors probing its nuclear programme, which the United States says is aimed at making an atomic bomb. Mohamed ElBaradei was speaking on Monday as the board of governors of his International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met one day after Iran's nuclear planners scored a major victory with a key uranium fuel supply deal with Russia.
AP: Many consider Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the prominent cleric who leads the United Iraqi Alliance, to have emerged as the country's top Shiite power broker after the Jan. 30 elections.
A leader of a key Shiite political organization, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, al-Hakim opposed Saddam Hussein from exile in Iran before returning after the U.S.-led invasion.
Iran Focus: London, Feb. 28 The Iranian regime has at least 40,000 agents in Iraq on its payroll, according to a report broadcast by an Iranian opposition television. Simaye Azadi, a Persian-language satellite television network close to the opposition National Council of Resistance, said it had obtained documents from Fajr Garrison of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which showed that the Islamic republic was running a vast underground network in Iraq with 40,000 agents on its payroll.
Reuters: The United States should seek to bar Russia from this year's major-nation summit to protest actions by Moscow including its deal on Sunday to provide Iran nuclear fuel, a leading Republican senator said. Lawmakers from both major parties joined in calling for Russia to be punished for the nuclear deal and what they said were anti-democratic actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the French, German and British ambassadors to the United States opposed barring Russia from the summit.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Feb. 27 A middle-aged man and his teenage son are facing imminent execution after Iran's Supreme Court upheld the death sentences handed down to them. Moussa Ali, 45 years old, and his son Rasoul, 16 years old, were accused of robbery, rape, and kidnapping, according to the state-run daily Hamshahri.
The Washington Times: A federal grand jury in the District on Friday returned a five-count indictment against a British man, charging him with attempting to send restricted electrical parts and other equipment, including an experimental airplane, to Iran. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, who heads U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said the indictment accuses Ali Asghar Manzarpour, 43, of violating federal export laws.
Washington Post: International investigators have uncovered evidence of a secret meeting 18 years ago between Iranian officials and associates of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan that resulted in a written offer to supply Tehran with the makings of a nuclear weapons program, foreign diplomats and U.S. officials familiar with the new findings said.
Reuters: Russia and Iran have signed a key deal for Russia to supply Iran with nuclear fuel to the Bushehr nuclear plant, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency has reported. The deal, which also provides for Iran to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia, had been expected to be signed on Saturday but was delayed by 24 hours as talks continued.
AFP: Iran's capacity to enrich uranium is "not negotiable", a top national security official said Sunday in a fresh rejection of European efforts to persuade Tehran to give up its sensitive nuclear technology. "There is a belief among the European negotiators that if they give Iran political, security and economic incentives, Iran will give up enrichment," nuclear negotiator and top cleric Hassan Rowhani told state media.
AFP: The UN atomic agency begins a meeting Monday with just about everybody from Washington to Tehran wanting to reach a decision about whether Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons but no one expecting it to come this week.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Feb. 26 Workers from Iran's Pars Textiles yesterday protested outside the governor's office in Gilan (Iran's Caspian coastal province) after having gone more than 10 months without pay. At least 180 workers took part in the protest demanding that the government take action against their employer.
AP: Iran, through the black market network, had accumulated all the knowledge it needed by the late 1980s to set up technology that can be used to make atomic weapons, diplomats familiar with the work of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Saturday.