Reaching Millionsof Television Viewers in Iran Each Week
Washington, DC – July 14, 2008… Iran test launches long and medium-range missiles, commemorating the 18th of Tir student protests, world leaders gather in Hokkaido, Japan for the G-8 summit, and ongoing diplomatic efforts between Iran and the P5+1 highlight this week’s PNN news coverage. Making headlines exclusively on PNN – live interviews with U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte, National Security Spokesman Gordon Johndroe, Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas Pickering, student activist Ahmad Batebi and Representative Howard Berman of California, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
IRAN TEST LAUNCHES MISSILES
News and ViewsJuly 9--On the day that Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice signs an initial agreement on an anti-missile system based in the Czech Republic, Iranian television broadcasts two days of short and long range missile test launches—reportedly with the capacity to reach Israel.
After the second missile launches on July 10, the White House was immediately contacted for reaction. Gordon Johndroe, National Security Council Spokesman, appeared live on News and Viewsvia telephone saying, "It's unfortunate that the Iranian regime has test-fired these missiles. We consider it as a provocative act. The development and testing of these ballistic missiles are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and Iran's international obligations. Iranian officials would be well advised to concentrate their efforts on providing affordable housing, creating jobs and food for their growing population than provoking their neighbors and raising tensions in the region. The Iranian public has a lot of pressing needs that go unmet by this regime."
News and Views’ reporting on July 9 included reaction to the missile launches from Secretary Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Secretary Rice said that the US will stand by its allies in the face of any threats from Iran. Defense Secretary Gates told reporters that missile defense in Europe is necessary because there is a real threat. “It seems that the test this morning underscores that,” Gates said. But Gates did emphasize that the missile tests have not brought the U.S. any closer to military conflict with Iran.
Gates said, "We take very, very strongly our obligation to help our allies defend themselves, and no one should be confused about that. We also are able to look to the future of a missile defense system that will make it more difficult for Iran to threaten and be bellicose and say terrible things, because their missiles won't work."
News and Viewson July 10 broadcast reaction from both US Presidential candidates. Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain said that the missile tests are alarming and part of the overall effort on the part of the Iranians to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. He said he believes in the enforcement of meaningful and powerful sanctions joined by US European allies and others who consider this threat very seriously. Democratic Presidential Candidate Barak Obama said the United States has to gather up others in the region, as well as internationally to apply pressure on Iran.
News and Viewsalso reported on July 10 that in light of Iran’s testing of long- and medium- range missiles, U.S. Representatives Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.) sent a letter to President Bush urging him to deploy a U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense early-warning radar to Israel as soon as possible.
In a pre-recorded telephone interview with PNN, Rep. Kirk said on July 11 Newstalk, “What we are asking the administration to do is to upgrade the missile defense system of Israel from the current which defends Israel out about 100 miles of its border to 1000 miles. If we do it quickly it means any Iranian missile shot from Iran is not going to make it…the best military option is just to upgrade the defense of Israel.”
July 11 Newstalkalso featured an exclusive interview with Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who said, “I think Iran wanted to tell the world that it is ready to defend itself. There have been a lot of talks on both sides about the potential of military conflict and I think this was just an Iranian effort to create a psychological concern among others.”
As part of the Washington Report on July 11 News and Views, PNN’s State Department correspondent discussed the New York Times article that compares two photos of the missile launches, calling into question whether the photo had been electronically altered. The Wednesday photo—taken off of the Iranian Sepah News Website (the website of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard)--shows four missiles being launched, whereas a Thursday photo shows only three missiles being launched on Tuesday. A comparison of the smoke, angle and exhaust of the missiles shows one missile being a duplicate of another at the same angle but at a different height from ground, and the dust billowing the same replicated missile is exactly the same as another missile's smoke. PNN also reported that the Iranian media—including the Sepah News Website--remained silent about the controversial images.
TALKS SET FOR GENEVA
News and ViewsJuly 11-- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva to discuss Iran’s disputed nuclear program. PNN will send a reporter to cover the ongoing diplomatic efforts. The team is expected to discuss a new package of incentives Solana presented Iran last month to persuade Tehran to stop its nuclear activities. PNN will have live coverage from Geneva of the talks.
News and Views on July 7 featured an exclusive live interview from Vienna with US Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte who said, “There is a place to sit for Iran's leaders, and they need to make decisions to take this step, that is stopping uranium enrichment. They will then have access to state of the art technology, economic exchanges and security discussions.”
News and ViewsJuly 10--In a phone interview with PNN, Javier Solana's spokeswoman, Christina Gallach explained that one of the topics of discussion for Solana and Jalili is the content of a letter written by Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki in response to P5+1 incentive package. Ms. Gallach said that before there can be any official negotiations with Iran, there are certain matters that need to be made clear, one of which is the demand from the international community that Iran respect the UN resolutions. She added that the international community is
ready to support Iran's peaceful nuclear program but Iran needs to guarantee that it's only for peaceful purposes. "The product of the talks should be a kind of agreement between Iran and the international community on the nature of Iran's nuclear program and EU is ready to create a mechanism to do so," said Ms. Gallach.
News and ViewsJuly 11--The U.S. State Department confirmed that Iran could enter pre- negotiations--for a 6-week period--initially suspending its uranium enrichment program as per P5+1 agreement. The U.S. will join the group only when Iran suspends enrichment activities after those 6 weeks.
News and ViewsJuly 9--Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) held a hearing to assess the overall effectiveness of U.S. policy toward Iran, with a primary focus on the Iranian nuclearprogram. William J. Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the State Department, told the committee, “While Iran seeks to create the perception of advancement of its nuclear program, real progress has been more modest… I have no illusions about the grave dangers presented by the behavior of the Iranian regime, or the
difficulties of changing that behavior. I am convinced that we cannot do it alone, and that a strong international coalition is crucial.” Senator Biden said, “I believe that now is the time for aggressive diplomacy with Iran, including direct U.S. engagement. There is still a chance, but not a guarantee, that the world can change Iran’s behavior. And if we go the extra diplomatic mile, the world is much more likely to stand with us if diplomacy fails.”
News and ViewsJuly 12--Political Analyst Dr. Bahman Aghai Diba said, “This is a very important meeting, and is another given opportunity to Iran. I am not optimistic though because Iran’s goal is just buying time. But the West has already figured it out.”
News and Views July 10-- NSC Spokesman Johndroe told News and Views,"The United States is committed to a diplomatic path. We are working closely with our partners and allies in the U.N. Security Council. We have offered Iran a very generous incentive package that included economic and technological benefits for the Iranian people provided that the regime suspend its uranium enrichment activity. We hope that Iran responds positively to this offer. We remain committed to diplomacy. We hope the Iranian government makes the right choice for the sake of the Iranian people. The path the regime is on will only further its international isolation. The Iranian public sure deserves better than its current rulers and situation. The right decision for Iranian rulers is to suspend enrichment and test-firing ballistic missiles." He added, “All options are on the table in dealing with the Iranian threat.”
News and ViewsJuly 8-- Prof. Abbas Milani, Director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University, appeared live via telephone and said, “[Political Adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khameniei] Velayati’s statement supporting negotiations with the West is part of Iran’s policy of accepting and rejecting the West's offers. This is an effort to show the “soft” side of the regime, while it continues with its defiant stand through [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad. This policy has one goal: the regime’s survival.”
Former US ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering told 48 Hours on July 12, "There are two theories here. One is that Iran is moving toward further conversation, keeping the door open, possibly for the purpose sitting out the Bush presidency perhaps seeking to avoid military conflict finding a way further to delay. The other theory is that with Israeli military, maneuver widely advertised in the West and heard in Iran, Iran didn't want to be seen as vulnerable and therefore want to show the world that it could defend itself in anticipation of a military attack by Israel or the United States. I'm an optimist…. so despite all this flexing of muscle on both sides and despite all this war talk, it's important to have talks and it's important to make progress."
18th OF TIR ANNIVERSARY
Roundtable with You July 8—Headlining PNN coverage of the ninth anniversary of the 18th of Tir, Mr. Ahmad Batebi, former student leader who became the face of the 1999 student revolt, appeared live on Roundtable with You. Known for his picture on the cover of The Economist magazine where he was seen holding up a fellow student’s bloodied t-shirt, he told viewers that during his nine years in prison he was aware of VOA broadcasts into Iran. “The more outside pressure by VOA and others is asserted for human rights advocacy, the lesser the pressure on the prisoners become within jails, and I have witnessed it myself," said Mr. Batebi. Mr. Batebi played down his role as the poster child for freedom amongst Iranian youth. “A photojournalistic snapshot of me became the persona of a movement, not of a person, and it ought not make a hero out of the subject of that photo, it must represent the suffrage and the struggle for freedom,” said Mr. Batebi. He went on to mention that the real reason for the student uprising was the closure of a popular newspaper, and the fact that students wanted to seek the reason behind the closure. Mr. Batebi further emphasized that reformists in Iran were trying to move towards greater freedom for public discourse, and public engagement in questioning and criticizing the government. The so- called ‘reform’-minded government at the time, spoke of greater freedom, yet it was still loyal to the framework of a theocracy, and the rule of a ‘supreme religious leader’. As a result, students believed that they would get greater support from the reformist government at the time of the uprising; however, the students never received that support. On Today’s Woman July 7, Mr. Batebi said the women’s movement in Iran has a very significant impact. At protests, women are at the frontlines and have a strong presence. During the 18 of Tir protest, he points out that women rescued him from the tear gas.
News and Views on July 8 featured a live interview with former student and current PNN contributor Kourosh Sehati, who said that since that protest in July, students are now aware that there will be no change within this system. “Students are not unified, but their goal now is democracy and freedom of expression,” said Mr. Sehati. PNN Rome stringer Ahmad Rafat reported that the City Council in Rome was planning on naming a street after the 18th of Tir protestors to show solidarity with the students.
Also on News and Views on July 8, Farrokh Negahadr, a political scientist in London, said live via telephone, “In order for the student movement to succeed there should be fundamental changes. There is no solidarity between various students groups right now, but in order to make changes, the foundation and development of a civil society are necessary.”
Appearing on Late Edition on July 8, well-known Iranian student activist and former political prisoner Kianoush Sanjari said the 18th of Tir protests is the most important public protest against the regime since the early years of the Iranian revolution. “The Islamic Republic cannot stop the student movement by increasing the pressure on them, Iranian students are more united today, secular and religious are together to fight for human rights and liberty in Iran.”
Today’s Woman on July 9 featured an interview with Mr. Morteza Samyari, a student activist currently in Iran. He noted that 16 student activists had been arrested over the past two weeks.
On July 10 Roundtable with You featured Mr. Heshmat Tabarzadi, Chairman of the Democratic Front of Iran, who also spent almost nine years in and out of prison in Iran, said “The student movement of 1999 emphasized that the reformist government was a wolf, in the clothing of a sheep, and had never wavered from theocracy, it just wanted to divert attentions from its evil face.”
News and Views July 7-- PNN had an exclusive interview with NSC Spokesman Johndroe after President Bush held a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Mr. Johndroe said that the two leaders had a positive exchange and they both have agreed that Iran should not be permitted to enrich uranium for nuclear weaponry. He did say that it is Iran’s right to have access to nuclear energy and Russia has agreed to provide fuel for that.
Late Edition July 7-- PNN covered the J-8 Summit, which is a group of eight youngsters from each of the industrialized nations attending the G-8 Summit. The purpose of the J-8 is to allow youth to be involved in world issues and gives them the opportunity to express their opinions and provide their perspectives to the world leaders.
News and Views July 8-9-- From the G-8 summit, PNN reported that U.S. President Bush met with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, about Iran and called Merkel a constructive force with positive effects. PNN also reported that leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its lack of regard for international package of incentives, as well as attempts for halting nuclear enrichment.
News and Views July 9--Dr. Hassan Mansour, an economics professor at London’s Schiller International University, told News and Views that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic plans are breaking the country's economic structure and its currency. He said, “Iran is walking a fine line in this dangerous situation.” He added that Iran cannot close down the Strait of Hormuz because it will damage Iran more than any other country.
News and Views July 9--Economist Dr. Fariborz Raees Dana told News and Views that the government of Iran is trying to control the unleashed inflation rate by condensation policies. The polices are leading to less economic growth and that the 4.5 million jobless in Iran right now would suffer from the change in policy more than others. He also emphasized that the central bank’s promises to curb inflation by controlling the expenditures of the government is more of a joke, since these policies are being dictated from above.
Roundtable with You July 7--Dr. Amir Ganjbakhsh, Senior Researcher at the National Institute of Health (NIH), and a political analyst, said that corruption, lack of education, and governmental inadequacies are preventing Iran from transforming its isolated economy into a global one. In response to a caller from Iran, who asked, “Why is it that in Iran there is a constant ‘worry’ about other nations attacking it”, Dr. Ganjbakhsh responded by saying that the government of Iran has no respect for global standards, beliefs, and perspectives, and also has been using its propaganda machinery to sabotage advancement in the world, including joining global communities. Iran has also blamed all of the society’s ills, such as poverty, prostitution, and corruption, on globalization.
News and Views July 10--Dr. Sazegara, co-founder of the Revolutionary Guard and currently a political analyst, told News and Views that there are a number of examples of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard mismanaging the Islamic Republic’s economy. He said that the Sepah (Revolutionary Guard) was responsible for the incompletion of the Mashhad-Sarakhs railroad. Mr. Hassan Daee, a political analyst based in the U.S. said that the Sepah was using its
military intelligence power as leverage in getting more lucrative contracts, and is doing so by interfering in economic issues by flexing its military muscle.
MEDIA IN IRAN
News and Views July 7--Mashallah Shams-ol-vaezin, deputy secretary of the journalistic syndicate in Iran told PNN that he has learned of a confidential letter sent by Mr. Parviz Davoodi, domestic media desk chief in the ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, ordering the syndicate not to report on their ongoing legal conflicts with the government. Shams-ol-vaezin said that while has not such a letter, he insists that if this is indeed the ministry’s decision, it must announce this publicly. "The media will remember Ahmadinejad's period as the darkest period in journalism history in Iran," said Mr. Shams-ol-vaezin.
Newstalk July 8-- Legislation that attempts to crackdown on bloggers inside Iran was discussed. The legislation calls for bloggers to either support the government’s perspective in their writings or be held in contempt of “anti-Islamic” behavior and subjected to the death penalty. PNN Contributor Elahe Hicks said on Newstalk, “Imposition of the death penalty on bloggers is nothing but a public display of disregard for freedom of press, and freedom of expression. The notion that a blogger’s punishment is equal to that of a murderer is unimaginable."
Roundtable with You July 11--Mr. Ahmad Ahrar, journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Kayhan, a London weekly, commented on the anti-blogger legislation, saying that freedom and the ability to express an opinion, is not considered a “gift” that any particular government can bestow upon its people. It is one of the basic human rights that is even described in the United Nations human rights proclamation. “If the Islamic Republic of Iran declares the internet ‘anti-human’ then what is the response to torture, abuse and crackdown on public expression of thought ?” he asked.
News and Views July 7--Dr. Ali Akbar Mahdi, a sociologist at Ohio Wesleyan University said currently the US has been able to control the violence in Iraq and has the upper hand, so Iran has a less significant role in that country. He went on to say that Iranians are trying very hard to diffuse the situation so that it would not lead to a war. He added that the U.S., under pressure from Israel to attack, is trying to start negotiations and resolve this matter peacefully and that neither party wants war.
News and Views July 8--News and Views reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his government is considering a deal that could include a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Maliki's statement is consistent with his view about how a withdrawal should proceed and how a status-of-force agreement should not be structured without congressional input and should not be rushed. The White House said it did not believe al-Maliki was proposing a rigid timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals. "Any agreement would not have any hard timetables for withdrawal, but could include the desire by the U.S. and Iraq to withdraw troops based on conditions on the ground," said NSC spokesman Johndroe said.
News and Views July 9--PNN covered a news conference with former Secretaries of State James Baker and Warren Christopher who released their findings and recommendations as part of the National War Powers Commission. The panel concluded that the United States should change the way it goes to war and that the current law fails to promote cooperation between the executive and legislative branches. Both Baker and Christopher emphasized the need for the President to consult with Congress before going to war and called for the repeal of the 1973 War Powers Resolution enacted at the end of the Vietnam War. It was the second time an administration took the nation into intense conflict without asking Congress to formally declare war. Baker said the plan is not directed toward the Iraq War or any particular conflict in which the U.S. has been involved.
ALSO ON PNN THIS WEEK…..
News and Views July 13-- Farzad Kamangar, a Kurdish teacher and healthcare activist, who was arrested and detained for being a member of the Kurdish organization P.K.K., is being sentenced to death now that the Iranian Supreme Court has approved the sentence. In an interview with PNN, Kamangar’s lawyer Khalil Bahramian said he will ask the supreme court to review its verdict. Also Saleh, a Kurdish journalist and humanitarian activist in Sweden, told PNN that the humanitarian organizations should keep the pressure on the Islamic regime in order to drop the death penalty.
Today’s Woman July 10-- Discussion focused on the strength and weaknesses of the One Million Signature Campaign in Iran with guests, Ms. Fariba Davoudi Mohajer, journalist and human rights activist and Ms. Soheila Vahdatipanah, human rights activist. In a pre-recorded interview, Ms. Mitra Shojai, an activist who spoke at the Iranian Women's Studies Foundation conference stated that the two main critiques of the campaign are the issue of Islamic dress and how to deal with the religious people of Iran and breaking cultural and traditional barriers. Ms.
Mohaher was asked why she chooses to wear a headscarf. She said, “Choosing to wear the veil is a personal choice. I choose to wear the veil because for me it is a personal decision and I decide where and when to wear it.”
Today’s Woman July 11--Sex Education in America was the topic of discussion in a live interview with noted psychologist Dr. Azita Sayan from Los Angeles, who tackled the questions: should sex ed focus on abstinence only or a comprehensive approach that puts an emphasis on contraception. Dr. Sayan was also asked about sex education in Iran. She offered that the issue of sex is often regarded as a taboo subject but this is one of the biggest mistakes society makes because this ideology gets transferred from generation to generation. It is very important to provide children with age appropriate accurate information about sex. In school children are taught subjects that they may never use in their lives, however something like sexual education that will eventually come up in their lives is not extensively taught, according to Dr. Sayan.
Today’s Woman July 8 featured an interview with BBC Anchor Gavin Esler who recently wrote a book called, “A Scandalous Man” which traces the story of a couple living in Iran while documenting historical events, mainly the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Late Edition July 9 featured an exclusive taped interview with Rahman Ahadi, captain of the Iranian national ping-pong team from the sidelines of the US Open in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Ahadi talked about his early life as a young player in Iran and he elaborated on his long list of accomplishments. PNN also interviewed Afshin Noroozi, a top-ranked ping-pong player who will compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He said that Iranian players are talented but need more international experience to build up their confidence.
Late Edition July 9--The New York production of the German contemporary opera Die Soldaten, by Brend Alois Zimmermann was the subject of an original report. The opera was performed at the 55,000 square foot Park Avenue Armory. The opera, which opened the Lincoln Center Festival, laments the ravages of war through the story of the degradation of a provincial girl who falls in love with an army officer. “The idea of doing it in an alternative space, which actually was Zimmerman’s dream, was a very daunting task and a challenge for all of us, but I think because of the history of the Armory it was suited for the production of Die Soldaten, given its military history,” said Bochom Symphony conductor Steven Sloane.
Late Edition July 10--Cultural activist Shokooh Mirzadegi appeared live from Denver to announce that UNESCO has named Ghareh-Kelisa (black church) as a world heritage site. Ms. Mirzadegi said Ghareh-Kelisa is a historical church in Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic was not interested in saving it because of religious reasons. She said that now that it is a world heritage site, the international community will ensure its protection.
Late Edition July 11--Iraj Adibzadeh, radio journalist and sport analyst, appeared live via satellite from Paris, France to discuss the news that the Islamic Republic has banned sports and movie stars from appearing in commercial advertisements. Mr. Adibzadeh said the Islamic Republic has abused sports and movie stars by forcing them to appear at campaign rallies and political marches to promote their ideology but has banned them from appearing in commercial advertisements.
Late Edition July 12--In the latest installment of the Late Edition Book Club “Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie was reviewed. Though the novel was written in 1981, on July 10, 2008 it was voted the best of the Booker Prize winners. Rushdie's narrator is Saleem, a boy who was born on the stroke of midnight on the day of India's independence in 1947. The book describes the first 31 years of Indian after its independence from Britain.
Late Edition July 11 featured a report on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For two weeks on the National Mall, thousands of visitors had access to free presentations on science, art and local traditions, including a special NASA exhibit and one featuring the Himalayan country of Bhutan.
Late Edition July 12—Bijan Khalily, Founder and President of Ketab Corp. talked about the history of the audiobook in the U.S. and explained why audiobook production has been hindered in Iran because of copyright issues.
This week’s On the Record – Persian News Network’s program featuring executive editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman was devoted to the topic of student movements and their historical perspective. Dr. Mahmoudi pointed out that unlike other movements such as labor and trade, students’ movements, which typically began with demands for tuition breaks or better dormitories, were characterized by calls for social justice, human rights, freedom of speech and democracy. The students then became the soldiers on the front lines fighting for these rights for the whole nation.
PNN’s Question of the Week was “At this time, could the students and the youth in Iran play a significant role in the future of their country?” Out of 8,262 respondents, 57% said yes; 41% said no; while 2% did not have an opinion.
This week’s History Channel included the two part series on Alaska, entitled “Dangerous Territory” which features the dramatic stories of four challenging and almost deadly jobs from the last 150 years of Alaska history—truckers who drive on the treacherous Haul Road, the job of a mountain pilot, the Alaskan Combat Intelligence Platoon and the US Coast Guard helicopter pilot. Also on the History Channel--the life of Hollywood screen legend Bette Davis, who was nominated for an Oscar 10 times, and starred in such acclaimed films as, “Of Human Bondage”. The History Channel also featured the life and times of fashion icon Calvin Klein who humbly
began as an art student at the Fashion Institute of Technology to a name on every billboard in the world. On July 13 History Channel featured “Mega Movers--Moving History” which chronicles the amazing feats of men, methods and machines which have moved mega structures over the past 5,000 years.
The Persian News Network’s television programming complements its radio broadcasts. VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four Iranian households tuning into a VOA show at least once a week. Programs also are streamed on www.voapnn.com.
PNN’s 7-hour program block opens with Today in Washington, a brief look at the latest news developments in Washington, as well as the content of PNN’s upcoming programs. Then we present cultural programming translated into Farsi from A&E Television Network’s The History Channel. We intersperse 30-minutes of news breaks throughout our original programming, which includes the following shows: Today’s Woman, PNN’s newest program, had its debut September 27, 2007. The one-hour program features influential women from around the world discussing a full spectrum of topics, including social, medical, human rights, legal, sports and business. News and V