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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

DATE=11/10/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-41815
TITLE=IRAN / AN OVERVIEW  CQ 
BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB 
DATELINE=TEHRAN 
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 
/////  ED'S: THIS IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF BACKGROUND REPORTS 
                       ABOUT IRAN.  /////
INTRO:  WINDS OF CHANGE ARE BLOWING IN IRAN.  RELIGIOUS LEADERS 
WHO HAVE CONTROLLED POLITICAL LIFE SINCE THE REVOLUTION NEARLY 
20-YEARS AGO HAVE BEGUN TO ALLOW A GREATER DEGREE OF OPENNESS IN 
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL LIFE.  BUT THERE IS CONSIDERABLE RESISTANCE 
FROM CONSERVATIVE CLERGYMEN, WHO STILL WIELD A GREAT DEAL OF 
POWER.  CORRESPONDENT SCOTT BOBB VISITED IRAN RECENTLY AND FILED 
THIS REPORT.
TEXT:  IRAN IS CHANGING, MOST PEOPLE AGREE.  BUT SOME IRANIANS 
CALL THIS CHANGE ONE STEP FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK, BECAUSE OF ITS 
HALTING NATURE.  OPINIONS VARY CONSIDERABLY ON WHETHER THE CHANGE
WILL BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE.
THE RECENT ELECTIONS FOR THE COUNCIL OF EXPERTS THAT CHOOSES 
IRAN'S SUPREME RELIGIOUS LEADER IS AN EXAMPLE.  THE VOTING ITSELF
WAS VIEWED AS DEMOCRATIC, BUT MOST OF THE REFORMIST CANDIDATES, 
INCLUDING ALL THE FEMALE CANDIDATES, HAD BEEN STRICKEN FROM THE 
LISTS BY A COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE RELIGIOUS LEADERS THAT REVIEWS
THE RELIGIOUS QUALIFICATIONS OF ALL CANDIDATES.
AS A RESULT, IT WAS NOT MUCH OF A CONTEST.  MANY CANDIDATES RAN 
UNOPPOSED.  MORE THAN ONE-HALF THE ELIGIBLE VOTERS DID NOT BOTHER
TO VOTE, INCLUDING THIS COUPLE INTERVIEWED IN A PARK IN TEHRAN.
///  ACT - WOMAN AND MAN - IN FARSI / WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION  
                               ///
         WOMAN:  I DID NOT PARTICIPATE, AND THE ONES THAT I 
         WANTED WERE NOT CANDIDATES. 
         REPORTER:  AND YOU, SIR? 
            MAN:  I DID NOT PARTICIPATE. 
                        ///  END ACT  ///
IRAN'S REFORM-MINDED PRESIDENT MOHAMED KHATAMI, URGED IRANIANS TO
VOTE, EVEN THOUGH HE SAID MANY GOOD CANDIDATES WERE UNFAIRLY 
DISQUALIFIED.  HE SAID IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR REFORMISTS TO HAVE 
SOME REPRESENTATION ON THE COUNCIL.  THEY WON ABOUT ONE-SIXTH OF 
THE SEATS.
MANY POLITICAL GROUPS BOYCOTTED THE VOTE.
/// OPT ///  THE LEADER OF A MAJOR STUDENTS ASSOCIATION, 
TABORZADI, IS AMONG THOSE WHO BOYCOTTED.  HE SAYS THIS WAS NOT AN
ELECTION, BUT RATHER A REFERENDUM ON THE DEGREE OF SUPPORT FOR 
THE CONSERVATIVES.  HE SAYS THE FACT THAT MOST VOTERS DID NOT 
PARTICIPATE, SHOWS THAT IRANIANS WANT CHANGE.
///  OPT  //  TABORZADI ACT - IN FARSI / WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION
                               ///
         THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION WAS A VERY IMPORTANT EVENT FOR 
         US.  BUT UNFORTUNATELY IN RECENT YEARS, THE ISLAMIC 
         REVOLUTION HAS NOT BEEN GOING THE ROUTE IT WAS SUPPOSED 
         TO BE.  AND THIS IS BECAUSE RECENTLY THE REPUBLIC HAS A 
         DISCREPANCY (PROBLEM) WITH A REGIME OF ONE PERSON. 
                        ///  END ACT  ///
MR. TABORZADI SAYS HIS GROUP DOES NOT OBJECT TO A RELIGIOUS 
FIGURE AT THE HELM OF THE COUNTRY, BUT HE SAYS IT WANTS IRAN'S 
TOP LEADER TO BE CHOSEN BY A DIRECT VOTE OF THE PEOPLE.  /// END 
OPT ///
SHORTLY AFTER THE ELECTIONS, THE KHATAMI GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED 
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS WILL BE HELD IN IRAN FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE
THE REVOLUTION.  THESE ELECTIONS, IN WHICH ONE-MILLION CANDIDATES
ARE EXPECTED TO VIE FOR 200-THOUSAND SEATS ON MUNICIPAL COUNCILS,
WAS ONE OF MR. KAHATAMI'S CAMPAIGN PROMISES.
SOME IRANIANS SEE THIS AS A MAJOR STEP FORWARD.  A LEADING LAWYER
AND ADVOCATE FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN IRAN, MEHRANGUIZ KAR, SAYS THE
LOCAL ELECTIONS WILL PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN AND 
NON-RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO OBTAIN A VOICE IN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM.
                        /// KAR ACT /// 
         THIS ELECTION IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR PARTICIPATION AND 
         FOR GETTING DEMOCRACY IN IRAN, BECAUSE THERE IS NO 
         OBSTACLE FOR BEING A MEMBER OF THESE LOCAL COUNCILS.  
         AND MEN AND WOMEN AND EVEN MINORITY PEOPLE CAN BE ACTIVE
         IN THIS ELECTION. 
                        ///  END ACT  ///
OTHER IRANIANS ARE MORE CYNICAL. THEY SAY THE USUAL VESTED 
INTERESTS, FEARFUL OF LOSING POWER, WILL SEEK TO CONTROL THE 
PROCESS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
/// OPT ///  THE STRUGGLE IS ALSO ENJOINED AT THE CULTURAL LEVEL,
WHICH IN IRAN IS AT LEAST AS IMPORTANT AS POLITICS.
IRAN'S VIBRANT FILM INDUSTRY, WHICH SINCE THE REVOLUTION HAS BEEN
STRICTLY CENSORED FOR SEX, VIOLENCE, AND PERCEIVED STATEMENTS 
AGAINST ISLAM AND THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT, HAS BEGUN TO DEAL WITH 
TOPICS THAT PREVIOUSLY WERE TABOO.
ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR FILMS IN RECENT MONTHS ("GLASS AGENCY"), 
DEALS WITH THE DESPAIR OF A VETERAN OF IRAN'S COSTLY WAR WITH 
IRAQ.  FOR THE FIRST TIME IT SHOWS SOME OF THE NEGATIVE 
AFTER-EFFECTS OF THE WAR.
BUT A LEADING IRANIAN FILMMAKER, DARIUSH MERJUI, WHOSE LATEST 
FILM APPEARED ONLY RECENTLY AFTER BEING BANNED FOR SEVEN-YEARS, 
SAYS THE OUTCOME IS STILL IN DOUBT BECAUSE THE FILMS APPROVED 
UNDER THE KHATAMI GOVERNMENT HAVE YET TO APPEAR.
                    /// OPT // MERJUI ACT ///
         IT HAS NOT CHANGED THAT MUCH AND ACTUALLY IT HAS NOT 
         SHOWN ITSELF YET IN REGARD TO THE FILMS BECAUSE ALL 
         THESE FILMS THAT WE SEE THIS YEAR, THEY WERE MADE LAST 
         YEAR, OR TWO-YEARS AGO.  MAYBE IN TWO-YEARS, WE WILL SEE
         THE ACTUAL REFLECTION OF THIS CHANGE.  BUT SO FAR, ONLY 
         IN THE GENERAL ATMOSPHERE YOU SEE THAT CERTAIN THINGS 
         ARE HAPPENING. 
                 ///  END ACT  //  END OPT  ///
ONE AREA WHERE VIRTUALLY EVERYONE NOTES CHANGE IN IRAN IS IN THE 
NEWS MEDIA, WHERE A WIDE-RANGING DEBATE HAS BEEN LAUNCHED ON 
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CHANGE.  DURING THE RECENT ELECTION 
CAMPAIGN, SEVERAL NEWSPAPERS QUESTIONED THE MANNER IN WHICH THE 
SUPREME LEADER IS CHOSEN.  THEY ALSO QUESTIONED WHETHER HE SHOULD
BE ALL-POWERFUL.
FOR THIS AND OTHER POSITIONS, A NUMBER OF THE NEWSPAPERS WERE 
CLOSED AND SEVERAL OF THEIR EDITORS WERE DETAINED FOR WEEKS.
FINALLY, THE DUALITY IS REFLECTED IN STATEMENTS ABOUT RELATIONS 
WITH THE U-S GOVERNMENT, WHICH THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT CALLS -- 
THE GREAT SATAN.  ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE TAKING OF THE U-S 
EMBASSY IN TEHRAN 19-YEARS AGO, PRESIDENT KHATAMI DELIVERED A 
SPEECH CALLING FOR RECONCILIATION WITH THE U-S GOVERNMENT AND 
URGING IT TO MAKE GREATER EFFORTS TO REBUILD TIES.
THE DAY BEFORE, IN A SPEECH MARKING THE SAME OCCASION, SUPREME 
RELIGIOUS LEADER ALI KHOMENEI DELIVERED A DIFFERENT MESSAGE.  HE 
SAID NORMALIZING RELATIONS WITH THE U-S GOVERNMENT WAS NOT A TOP 
PRIORITY AND THE LACK OF TIES ACTUALLY BENEFITS THE IRANIAN 
PEOPLE 100-PERCENT.
THESE CONFLICTING MESSAGES MEAN CHANGE WILL COME SLOWLY TO IRAN 
AND WILL BE STRONGLY MARKED BY THE COUNTRY'S DEEP NATIONALISM.   
(SIGNED)
NEB/SB/DW/RAE
10-Nov-98 9:47 AM EST (1447 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
.





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