Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each WeekWashington, DC – October 23, 2006 . . . Major stories this week included major players in the Iranian nuclear story firming up their positions days before a draft resolution is expected to be submitted to the UN Security Council calling for limited sanctions against Tehran; implementation of sanctions against North Korea in the wake of its October 9 nuclear test; and the 10th anniversary of VOA Persian’s Roundtable with You.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised address October 19 that Tehran will not give in to Western pressure over the country’s nuclear program and that Iran has every right to develop nuclear technology.
The European Union decided October 17 to back limited sanctions against Iran's nuclear program following months of inconclusive negotiations.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in Moscow October 21, pressed President Vladimir Putin to help punish Iran over its nuclear program. However, Russia says it will oppose any United Nations Security Council resolution to punish Iran or promote regime change in connection with Tehran's nuclear program.
Iran says it will retaliate against any United Nations sanctions on its nuclear program. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said October 22 in Tehran any UN sanctions will have regional and international repercussions. He did not elaborate on actions Tehran might take in response to sanctions, but said the government would take what he called appropriate measures.
Political analyst Alireza Nourizadeh said no one’s position has changed much over the past few weeks, although the situation in North Korea has led Iran to moderate its rhetoric ever so slightly. He noted, however, that whenever Iranian officials sound more moderate, President Ahmadinejad responds with more extremist remarks.
Shireen Hunter, a Distinguished Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said U.S. and Iranian officials should find a diplomatic solution to the current nuclear impasse in order to find a win-win solution. She expressed some hope that diplomacy could still lead to Iran’s ending its uranium enrichment program.
Rice / North Korea
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended her five-day tour of Asia to solidify support for UN sanctions against North Korea, imposed in response to its October 9 nuclear test. She also pressed President Vladimir Putin to help punish Iran over its nuclear program. She stressed the United States does not intend to dictate what other governments should or shouldn’t do; it just seeks to coordinate the implementation of obligations under Resolution 1718.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said it will take some time to work out implementation of the resolution, and that the US goal is to make sure North Korea is not able to get the technology or financing to continue its nuclear program.
UN Ambassador John Bolton said that by agreeing to the broader sanctions, China itself now has an obligation to make sure North Korea complies with the resolutions, and has full national authority on its side of the border to conduct any inspections it wants. Mr. Bolton urged Iran to learn a lesson from the North Korean case and to abandon its nuclear program – otherwise it will face the same sanctions and isolation.
In an interview with CNN, Nicholas Burns said there are indications China is beginning to apply inspections along the border.
10th Anniversary Special
VOA Persian celebrated the 10th anniversary of Roundtable with You on October 18. Legendary Iranian actor Behrooz Vossoughi, who rarely speaks with the media, congratulated VOA for a wonderful ten years, nothing that he was one of the programs first guests back on November 22, 1996. During the show, Mr. Vossoughi talked about his family’s efforts to discourage him from becoming an actor and how difficult it was to grow up in a strict and religious culture.
An Iranian Renaissance man – Hadi Khorsandi – is a poet, satirist, newspaper editor and political activist. He also recited a special poem from London to celebrate Roundtable’s anniversary.
Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo cancelled a trip to Morocco to appear on VOA’s anniversary special. Ms. Aghdashloo, who was nominated in 2003 for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in House of Sand and Fog, discussed the challenges Iranian women are facing to be in theatre. When VOA played part of an old Roundtable interview with the late poet Nader Naderpour, and an excerpt of an interview with Anthony Shay, an American specialist on Iranian music, Ms. Aghdashloo recounted her experiences and recollections along with viewers calling in.
Soccer’s governing body has told Iran to separate sports from politics by making the Iranian Soccer Federation an independent entity authorized to make decisions without government intervention. VOA reporter Behnood Mokri said FIFA warned Iranian officials to respect international policies or they will face sanctions. Following complaints from lawmakers, Iran’s top soccer officials were fired after last summer’s World Cup in Germany, where Iran finished bottom of Group D with just one point from three games. Former Iranian National Soccer player Hossein Kalani analyzed the Iranian team’s performance in 2006, saying it didn’t make the play-offs because the team just didn’t have what it takes. An Iranian-American FIFA official referee, Esfandiar Baharmast, said calls in 2006 were substantially improved from past World Cups and that the Iranian team, although it played well, will have to improve a lot to qualify for 2010 play-offs.
Cyrus the Great, the first Emperor of Persia (580-529 BC), issued a decree on his aims and policies, later hailed as his charter of the rights of nations and known by many as the first declaration of Human Rights. VOA Persian talked with Esmail Norial, who co-founded the Save the Pasargard Society to preserve Iran’s antiquity. Mr. Norial talked about the Great Declaration of Cyrus and its establishment of freedom of religion, freedom to select one’s leader, the outlawing of discrimination based on ethnicity and race and the freeing of slaves following the fall of Babylon. Shokooh Mirzadegi, co-founder of Save the Pasargard Society in the United States, answered viewers’ questions from numerous Iranian cities with a historical perspective on human rights.
Parviz Kardan left a successful acting career in Iran immediately after the 1979 revolution. He resumed acting in California and now runs a television station in Los Angeles called Andishe. He talked about the politicization of an actor in exile with VOA, saying “If being political means you are concerned about the welfare of your country and its destiny, then I am political. But I don’t belong to any political party or group. Some Iranians living in exile think that by throwing insults at the Iranian regime, they are being political, but that is not the case. They are setting back our efforts by doing so.”
Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, spokesman for the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press, told VOA Persian the Tehran government is determined to control the flow of information in Iran and to skew that information to its advantage in a bid to silence those calling for political reform. Based on his experience – he was editor of four newspapers closed by the government – Mr. Shamsolvaezin said the media in Iran is now dysfunctional because of the regime’s policies.
Jewel of Persia
VOA talked with Darr Hashempour, president of Jewel of Persia, a non-profit organization founded in 2002 dedicated to building an Iranian community center in Southern California. Mr. Hashempour quoted the mayor of Irvine as saying the project meets the city’s building design criteria and more importantly, he said it will be a great contribution from the Persian community in starting a cultural/commercial mixed-used center for Orange County. Orange County is home to California’s largest Iranian-American population.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
News Talk, an hour-long program featuring a panel of experts discussing the day's top news stories, had its debut on October 8. News Talk opens VOA's daily four-hour Persian-language television block every day with a brief recap of the day's top headlines. It features in-depth discussions of the issues of greatest concern to Iranians and closes with a segment on worldwide media coverage of Iran. After News Talk comes News and Views, Roundtable with You, and Late Edition, all one-hour shows that constitute a four-hour daily block of Persian-language television broadcast by satellite to Iran. News and Views, which debuted in 2003, features correspondent reports, interviews, and the top news stories from Washington and around the world. Roundtable with You, which debuted on television in 1996, takes calls from viewers and features a wide variety of guests discussing issues ranging from popular culture to politics. Late Edition, a youth-oriented program which first aired in July, looks at major world events and issues of interest to young people.
VOA's Persian television shows complement VOA Persian's daily radio broadcasts and Radio Farda, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, youth-oriented radio program that is a joint project of VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. VOA's Persian language Internet site is at www.VOANews.com/persian.