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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  The recent parliamentary elections in Iran 
focused attention primarily on domestic issues such as 
individual freedoms, political reform and economic 
revitalization.  Foreign policy, however, also was a 
subject of debate.  Probably the hottest (most 
contentious) topic in this area was relations with the 
United States, which have been severed for more than 
two decades.  Correspondent Scott Bobb talked with 
politicians and voters during the elections and has 
this report.
TEXT:  In Iran, a generation has been well educated on 
the wrongs of the United States government -- as the 
Iranian government sees them.  As a result, a 
conversation between an American visitor and almost 
any Iranian will eventually include a long list of 
Iranian complaints against the United States.
/// Opt ///  Many Iranians express resentment over 
perceived interference by the U-S government that goes 
back half-a-century to the coup that aborted the 
country's democratic government and installed a 
repressive monarchy.  The American visitor will 
explain that there is continuing American resentment 
over the humiliation suffered from the U-S embassy 
hostage incident and other anti-American acts 
following the Iranian revolution.  /// End Opt ///
Nevertheless, Iranians are friendly and interested in 
exchanging views.  Most say there is no problem 
between the people of Iran and the United States, only 
between their governments.
For example, the editor of one of the most anti-
American newspapers, Tehran's Jebheh weekly, says he 
does not give interviews to U-S reporters.  But he 
does agree to a meeting to talk.
/// OPT ///  Inside his offices, on the ground floor 
of a modest building in central Tehran, sandbags are 
piled in one corner.  Camouflage netting hangs from 
the ceiling along with military gear and banners with 
revolutionary and Islamic slogans.  Paintings on the 
walls show young Iranian soldiers dying in the 
trenches during the Iran-Iraq war.  /// END OPT ///
The editor accuses the U-S government of 
responsibility for the war and most other ills 
afflicting Iranian society.  Asked if there are any 
prospects for improving relations, he answers: not as 
long as America remains America.
Other political leaders are less bitter.  Most foresee 
better relations, although they differ on how they 
will come about.
The leader of the reformist alliance that has swept 
(won) a majority of the seats in parliament, 
Mohammedreza Khatami, is optimistic about future 
relations, but still cautious.
            /// KHATAMI ACT ///
      I think in the future we will have normal 
      relations with the United States, but the time 
      that we can get this relation, I cannot guess.
            /// END ACT ///
Mohammedreza Bayona, a spokesman for the conservative 
alliance that is now in the opposition, does not 
dismiss an improvement of relations, but underscores 
the sensitivities over what many Iranians see as U-S 
interference in their affairs.
            /// BAYONA ACT. IN FARSI FADE UNDER ///
Mr. Bayona says recent comments by U-S officials 
hoping that the reformist victory will improve 
relations demonstrates what he calls the same 
characteristic of dominance.
He says if the U-S government wants to improve 
relations, it should free Iranian assets in the United 
States and lift U-S sanctions against Iran.  /// Opt 
///  He says the U-S government should also stop what 
he calls its dual approach, whereby it condemns Iran 
for activities, like pursuing a nuclear weapons 
program, but says nothing about similar activities by 
the government of Israel.  /// End Opt ///
In recent months, U-S officials have said they want to 
begin talks with Iran aimed at normalizing relations.  
However, they say Iran must improve its human rights 
record, stop undermining the Middle East peace process 
and halt its support for international terrorism.
The next generation of Iranian leaders, for the most 
part, wants improved relations, like mechanical 
engineering student, Reza Talebari.
      Talks between the U-S and Iran should take place 
      and eventually it will, and it's to the benefit 
      of both sides.  But there's a double standard 
      going on.
            /// END ACT ///
            /// BEGIN OPT ///
A graduate student in civil engineering, Jamal 
Zaherpour, says Iran's main complaint against the U-S 
government is what he calls its domineering approach 
toward other nations.
      There are some incidents where Iran itself may 
      be, in some cases, extremist.  But the main 
      problem is the authoritative attitude of 
      America.  America wants to pay the least cost 
      for a relationship and they want the highest 
      margin of profit.
            /// END ACT ///
            /// END OPT ///
The students say they want Iran to be part of the 
modern world, although its Islamic character must be 
preserved.  They foresee a rapid improvement of 
relations with Western Europe and former rivals in the 
Arab world.  They say if Iran and the United States 
respect each other's opinions and approach dialogue on 
an equal basis, their relations, too, should improve 
quickly. (Signed)
02-Mar-2000 13:15 PM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1815 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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