Books on Iran
Update No: 046 - (27/09/05)
Trapped in Iran
As the debate on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program heated again
in August and September, it looked increasingly as if the Bush Administration
had set up for itself another trap in which to fall. By September with
international oil prices hovering around US$60, any prospect of serious
sanctions, or even worse military actions, against Iran appeared absurd.
Moreover, the likelihood of sanctions of any sort being approved also appeared
increasingly less likely, as serious opposition against a referral to the UN
Security Council emerged within the board of the IAEA itself. During September
both Iran and the US were very active lobbying the board members, but Iran
seemed to be gaining the upper hand. The opposition to a referral of countries
like Brazil and Pakistan was already taken for granted in early September, but
more worryingly for the Bush Administration this seemed to be the case for
Russia and China as well. As of mid-September there still seemed to be hope that
India and South Africa, also inclined to oppose the referral, might be convinced
to approve it, especially since in the case of India the Bush administration has
threatened not to renew the US-India Nuclear cooperation program. On the other
hand, after making of Iran's nuclear program one of its battle horses in the
international arena, letting Iran slip through would amount to a major loss of
face for Bush and his administration.
Friction among the conservatives
By the end of August new president elect Ahmadinejad had managed to get most
of his cabinet through the hurdle of parliamentary approval, but not without
losses. Four of the ministers he had proposed were rejected. The most noticeable
rejection was that of Oil Minister Saidloo, but the candidate ministers for
cooperation, education and welfare were also rejected. The candidate Interior
Minister was also criticised for his past in the intelligence service, but
managed to get through. During the parliamentary debate, the main reasons stated
for the rejection were the lack of professional competence of the candidates. In
the case of Saidloo, it was argued that the Oil Ministry of one of the world's
main oil producers deserved a better candidate. However, these rejections can
also be read as a sign of uneasiness among the ranks of old generation
conservatives, who feel excluded from the new cabinet.
On 21 August Ahmadinejad presented his program to the parliament, a program
which can be characterised as nationalistic in tone. He called for greater
cooperation among non-aligned countries. Five of his ministers have a background
in the revolutionary Guards and one of Ahmadinejad's first acts is likely to be
the granting of police powers to the Basij paramilitary force, which is
affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards. According to sources close to
Ahmadinejad, their role would be the enforcement of the laws against
Three, four… countless reformist parties
Between September and August former presidential candidate Mehdi Kharrubi
created his new political party, National Trust, after quitting the Militant
Clerics Association over its failure to support him in the elections. The new
party is not an exclusively clerical one like the Association, but is open to
all. Moderate reformers close to former president Rafsanjani are on the other
hand discussing the formation of a Moderation Front, while the old Executives of
Construction Party, the first pro-Rafsanjani group to be created, appears to be
in crisis and is expelling some of its members. The disarray of the reformist
groups is being exploited by Ahmadinejad, who has announced his own plan to woo
the youth away from them. A US$1.3 billion "love fund" will be created
to help low-income couples to marry.
At the end of August the National Iranian Oil Company announced that the
activities of two companies would be suspended due to allegations of bribery and
corruption. One of the two companies is Halliburton, likely punished because of
its announcement that it will withdraw from Iran in compliance with US
sanctions. Oriental Oil, the other company, might be targeted for its connection
with the Rafsanjani family, Ahmadinejad's opponent in the second round of the
presidential elections. Ahmadinejad has announced at the time of the elections
that he would clean up the oil ministry.
Despite the problems surrounding the oil ministry, in September some good news
also emerged. The long dormant plan to build a gas pipeline between Iran,
Pakistan and India seems to have new chances of being implemented, after India
and Pakistan confirmed their interest.
The Central Bank of Iran released in September its forecasts for GDP growth
in Iran, which range from 5.5% to 7%, roughly in line with the forecasts of the
World Bank. Given the high oil prices, there is little dispute that Iran's
economy should record substantial growth this year. The Central Bank also
reported that consumer price inflation is slowing. The year-on-year figure to
July 22 was indicated as 11.7%, a marked improvement on June's figure, when it
stood at 13.7%. Consumer prices in fact fell by 0.8% in July. This means that
the government's inflation target of 15.4% was beaten.
Iran, Ukraine to expand agricultural relations
On August 22nd Iran's Ambassador and the country's Minister of Agrarian Policy,
Alexander Baranovskiy, discussed various ways of expanding mutual relations in
the domain of agriculture, New Europe reported.
Baranovskiy said, "Given the variety of agricultural production in Ukraine,
in particular corn, we are interested in cooperating with Iran in the field of
export of such products." The Iranian diplomat welcomed expansion of
collaboration in the field and hoped that the Ukrainian partner would present
high-quality products at competitive prices. Expressing his approval, the
minister called for another meeting in Kiev to be attended.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Iran, Uzbekistan sign economic MoU
Iran and Uzbekistan recently signed a memorandum of understanding on expansion
of economic cooperation in various fields, reported Interfax News Agency.
The MoU was signed by head of the chamber of commerce of this central province,
Saeed Gorgbandi, and visiting Uzbekistan's deputy chairman of the chamber of
commerce and industries, Nabijon Kasymov. Kasymov was on a three day visit to
Iran. Under the terms of the MoU, both sides expressed willingness to exchange
trade and executive delegations, promote joint venture, hold specialised
exhibitions of the potentials of Markazi province in Tashkent and support
private sector to bolster trade and economic relations.
Kasymov said the province enjoys great potentials in various areas of industry,
agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and electronic equipment. During the
visit, Uzbek tradesmen and industrialists inspected factories and industries in
the cities of Arak and Saveh. Kasymov added that both sides explored avenues for
bolstering cooperation in aluminium industries, bicycle manufacturing and joint
production of industrial equipment.
Iranian businessmen discuss ties with Tajikistan
A 70-member Iranian industrial and trade delegation arrived in Tajikistan to
attend Iran's fourth exclusive exhibition in Dushanbe. The five-day fair began
on August 25th in which 45 Iranian industrial and manufacturing concerns
displayed their products. The head of the Iranian exhibition, Ali Khaksar, said
that about 90 per cent of the delegation members were Iranian private companies
management and directors. Khaksar said the delegation members discussed
expansion of industrial and trade ties as well as establishing various joint
ventures with Tajik private and government officials, New Europe reported.
During their stay in Dushanbe, the Iranian delegation also signed several
agreements. He added that all the preparatory work has been completed to hold
the exhibition. At the beginning of the meeting, the former Commerce Minister,
Mohammad Shariatmadari, described the bilateral relations as "strategic and
of great importance," adding that these relations have an old record. He
said, "The Iranian delegation, including public sector directors,
businessmen, merchants and industrial managers have held primary discussions
with their Tajik counterparts." The sixth meeting of Iran-Tajikistan joint
economic commission was held in Dushanbe in July.
Tajik Minister of Economy and Trade, Hakim Salehov, was also pleased over
economic cooperation between the two nations and the expansion of comprehensive
ties, saying that "the bilateral cooperation between our two nations in
recent years has led to very good and acceptable developments." He called
Iran's investments in a hydro-power plant.