IRANíS RULERS STRONGLY CRITICISED BY AHMAD SHIRZAD

By Safa Haeri

PARIS 24 Nov. (IPS) As the United States and Britain, Germany and France reached agreement on a compromise draft resolution warning Iran to stop violating nuclear non-proliferation safety, a prominent lawmaker questioned the rulers on their choices and methods for acceding to nuclear technologies, triggering a bitter row in the Majles, or Iranian parliament.

The conservative minority and reformist majority clashed verbally on Monday after Mr. Ahmad Shirzad, a deputy from the central city of Esfahan strongly criticized the ruling hard liners for plunging the nation in isolation by having transformed the visage of the Islamic Republic from a "popular, peace-seeking, equalitarian and a society based on Justice into a hub for totalitarism, disdain of human rights, violence, supporter of international terrorism in quest of mass destruction weapons and cut from its people".

Members of the conservative minority interrupted loudly the outspoken Shirzad by shouting "monafeq (hypocrite) and "traitor" but the reformists defended him, criticising Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroobi, the Speaker of the House for accusing Mr. Shirzad to have been "more violent" in his criticism of the regime than the "Zionist (Israel) Radio.

"Those who, accused everyone of plotting against the regime, jailed students, intellectuals and journalists, killed) the Iranian-Canadian photographer) Zahra Kazemi in prison, put political prisoners in isolation for weeks and months, shut down newspapers one after another, issued dead verdicts at will must have been waiting for this day", said Mr Shirzad at the Majles open session.

"They (ruling conservatives) offered the imperialist and Zionistís media the arguments for presenting Iran as an oppressive regime, that violates human rights, opposes freedom of speech and is anti-democratic", Mr. Shirzad continued, adding, among protests some of them plain curses, from the minority seats:

"The day when, naively though, they plunged their heads into the snow, drawing ambitious but aimless projects, chose the least convenient and the most illogical methods to reach nuclear technology, building a huge site fifty metres down underground to place in one of its corners a few centrifuge machines, they did not think that in case this well produce no technology, but would provide food to arrogant (western powers) media, claiming in their front pages that the Islamic Republic lied to the whole world for 19 years, causing an irreplaceable damage to our nation?" he added unabated by the noises.

To those among the deputies who objected to Mr. Shirzadís remarks of the regimeís nuclear projects, Dr Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the lamed President who is also the leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the countryís bigger political organisation reminded that Mr. Shirzad is probably one of the few Iranians specialising in atomic questions.

"If there are three persons in Iran able to address atomic problem from a specialist point of view, Mr. Shirzad is undoubtedly one of them. However, I have to admit that his (Mr. Shirzadís) speech was a little bit too biting", Mr. Khatami told the official news agency IRNA.

"The basic question is whether we need nuclear energy? The world is talking about this and inside the country; some have also their point of view. This is a serous issue. We must know how much progress we have made, how much we have paid and whether these two match. Surely one day we would have the answers, but for the time being, the question is out of order", he added, describing the atomic energy as a "most complex, economic and technical issue".

For her part, Mrs. Elaaheh Koolaíi, a member of the Majles Foreign Affairs and Security Committee took aim at Mr. Karroobi, asking why should peopleís representative be prevented from addressing national issues or criticising the regimeís decision-makers when they endanger the nation by possible faulty and questionable decisions?

"May be the literature I used was strong, but I firmly stand by every word I said", Mr. Shirzad told reporters at the Majles, as some political observers told Iran Press Service that they expect Mr. Shirzad be arrested on charges of "offending the regimeís senior leaders, activities against national security and raising issues banned by the authorities on public places".

In fact, Mr. Shirzadís questions about Iranian nuclear projects touched a sensitive nerve as the subject is the centre of a bitter row at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between Iran in the one hand and the United States on the other, with the European Union trying to be the in-between.

Washington and Israel -- both nuclear powers -- claims that Iranís nuclear projects are "fronts" for reaching the atomic bomb, but Tehran insists that all its programmes are for civilian and peaceful purposes, mostly producing electricity, like the one that is under construction in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr with assistance from Russia.

But Iranian and international experts say if this is the case, why not using the countryís huge natural gas reserves, the second largest in the world after Russia, a source of energy which is cheaper, easier to install and less dangerous than the ageing and risk-trodden technology imported from Russia?

In a report for the Vienna-based IAEA, international nuclear inspectors and experts said though Tehran was in breach of the Non Proliferation Treaty for having concealed from inspections uranium enriching installations and activities, yet they have found no evidence proving that it was using its ongoing nuclear programmes for military aims.

The report angered American delegates at the United Nations nuclear watchdog, questioning the credibility of the report in the one hand and found that a resolution worked out by Britain, France and Germany concerning Iranís pledges to the IAEA was not "strong enough".

Though Iran had warned that it might reconsider signing the Additional Protocol if such a resolution is issued, but, and in order to prevent the row reaching the UNís Security Council with the possibility of imposing harsh economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iran backed off on the last minute, when Mr. Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranís ambassador to the IAEA re-assured on Saturday that his country would sign and respect all the clauses in the Additional Protocols, which authorises UN nuclear inspectors to go to Iran at will and inspect any suspected site or project without slightest restrictions from the Iranian authorities.

The United States and Britain, Germany and France reached agreement on a compromise UN draft resolution warning Iran to stop violating nuclear non-proliferation safeguards, diplomats told the French news Agency AFP.

This is a resolution we can live with," a Western diplomat said of the text that balances the US call to condemn Iran for almost two decades of covert nuclear activities with the Europeís big three demand that Iran be rewarded for cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog since October.

After five days of intense discussions with US diplomats, the three main EU countries filed the draft late Monday evening with IAEA, which will discuss it on Wednesday, the diplomats said.

Mr Salehi told AFP his country was pleased with the draft resolution. "Iran is looking for a peaceful resolution of the issue and I think we are on the right track", he said. ENDS SHIRZAD MAJLES SPEECH 241103