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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  The United States is about to announce a major 
change in its policy towards Iran.  As V-O-A's Leta 
Hong Fincher reports, Secretary of State Madeleine 
Albright will spell out the changes on Friday in an 
attempt to encourage reformists in Iran.
TEXT:  The speech by Secretary Albright will be the 
first major U-S response to the victory of reformists 
in Iran's elections last month.  State Department 
spokesman James Rubin said the success of reform 
candidates led by President Mohammad Khatami is a 
tribute to a thriving democracy in Iran.
            /// RUBIN ACT ///
      There has clearly been a major stride forward in 
      terms of free press, leading to a free election, 
      leading to an overwhelming victory for reformers 
      in this most recent parliamentary election.  As 
      a result, Secretary Albright believes it's 
      appropriate for the United States to respond to 
      that election through a major policy address.
            /// END ACT ///
Mr. Rubin did not give details of Friday's policy 
speech.  But other U-S officials have suggested that 
Washington will loosen its sanctions on the import of 
three key non-oil products: Iranian rugs, caviar and 
pistachio nuts.  The United States has imposed a ban 
on these imports for the past 13 years.
On Monday, President Clinton extended a U-S ban on 
investment in Iran's oil and gas industry, saying that 
Iran still supports international terrorism and is 
trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.  But 
despite these sanctions, the United States has been 
trying to open a dialogue with Iran for years.  Iran 
has repeatedly turned down offers of direct talks.  
But now that the reformist victory in Iran has shifted 
power away from the hard-liners, U-S officials are 
hoping to make progress toward reconciliation.
/// Opt ///  Secretary Albright will deliver her 
speech to the American-Iranian Council, a private 
group that seeks better relations with Iran.  /// End 
Opt ///
16-Mar-2000 16:00 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 2100 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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