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Iranian Freedom Fighters UNITE

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Iranian Official Slams Ahmadinejad
TEHRAN, Iran, Feb. 27, 2008
(AP) Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator rebuked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a sharp attack on Wednesday, saying the hardline president's "bombastic slogans" are hampering Iran's development and harming national interests. Hasan Rowhani's remarks were some of the harshest criticism yet of Ahmadinejad by a prominent member of Iran's ruling Islamic establishment. Rowhani was replaced as top nuclear negotiator when Ahmadinejad came to office in 2005, but remains a member of the Supreme National Security Council, which handles nuclear issues. He also sits on two powerful cleric-run bodies, the Experts Assembly and the Expediency Council. "Does foreign policy mean bombastic slogans? Harsh speech? Remarks that end in loud slogans? These things won't build foreign policy," Rowhani told the opening session of a conference in Tehran. "Foreign policy doesn't mean fiery slogans. Foreign policy means a way of dealing with the world that reduces threats." Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, praised Ahmadinejad Tuesday for standing up to the West and refusing to halt the country's uranium enrichment. Ahmadinejad said a report released by the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Friday had vindicated Iran's nuclear program and left no justification for any U.N. Security Council sanctions. The 11-page report by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said all major past issues surrounding Iran's nuclear activities had been resolved or are "no longer outstanding at this stage." The IAEA investigation's findings were consistent with explanations provided by Iran, the report also said. The U.S., however, said the report actually strengthened the case for additional sanctions because it said Iran refused to heed Security Council demands to halt enrichment. The IAEA also said Tehran had dismissed as "baseless" information provided by Western intelligence agencies that Iran's alleged missile and explosives experiments are part of a nuclear weapons program. The U.S. is now pushing for a third round of sanctions against Iran and is hoping for a Security Council vote later this week. Rowhani's criticism is partly shared by conservative supporters of Ahmadinejad, who contend his rhetoric needlessly antagonizes the West and increases divisions at home. The hardline president often harshly denounced the U.S. in his speeches, has angered the West with vows that Israel will one day be eliminated and has sharply criticized domestic rivals, branding some as "traitors." The president is also under fire for failing to reform Iran's failing economy. Rowhani said Ahmadinejad's policies were undermining Iran's plans to become a regional superpower and a base for high technology and scientific know-how by 2025. The plan, Rowhani said, won't materialize as long as the government excludes moderates and experts who disagree with Ahmadinejad's politics and as long as inflation and unemployment are not controlled. "My fear is that the plan is being turned into a slogan. This is the main danger ... If we want to achieve the goals defined in the document, we need a national resolve ... one group and faction alone, can't bring development," he said. Rowhani called for a "competent government ... a government that is competent and responsible" in order to turn Iran into the industrial powerhouse of western Asia. "We are not yet disappointed, but the experience in the past two or three years has not been a good experience," the official said. "If a nation gets into the field of slogans, it will suffer. We need to be realistic," he said, in clear reference to Ahmadinejad. He pressed the government to be "ready for flexibility and bargaining."

Dangerous fungus on the move from East Africa to the Middle East
5 March 2008,

Rome - A new and virulent wheat fungus, previously found in East Africa and Yemen, has moved to major wheat growing areas in Iran, FAO reported today. The fungus is capable of wreaking havoc to wheat production by destroying entire fields.Countries east of Iran, like Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, all major wheat producers, are most threatened by the fungus and should be on high alert, FAO said.It is estimated that as much as 80 percent of all wheat varieties planted in Asia and Africa are susceptible to the wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis). The spores of wheat rust are mostly carried by wind over long distances and across continents.“The detection of the wheat rust fungus in Iran is very worrisome,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division. “The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk. Affected countries and the international community have to ensure that the spread of the disease gets under control in order to reduce the risk to countries that are already hit by high food prices.”
The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has informed FAO that the fungus has been detected in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in western Iran. Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the fungus. Iran said it will enhance its research capacity to face the new infection and develop new wheat varieties resistant to the disease.
The wheat fungus first emerged in Uganda in 1999 and is therefore called Ug99. The wind-borne transboundary pest subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia. In 2007, an FAO mission confirmed for the first time that Ug99 has affected wheat fields in Yemen. The Ug99 strain found in Yemen was already more virulent than the one found in East Africa. Ethiopia and Kenya had serious wheat rust epidemics in 2007 with considerable yield losses. The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), established to combat wheat rusts around the world, will support countries in developing resistant varieties, producing their clean quality seeds, upgrading national plant protection and plant breeding services and developing contingency plans. The BGRI was founded by Norman Borlaug (known as "the father of the Green Revolution"), Cornell University, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry areas (ICARDA), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and FAO.Disease surveillance and wheat breeding is already underway to monitor the fungus and to develop Ug99 resistant varieties. However, more efforts are required to develop long term durable resistant varieties that can be made available to farmers in affected countries and countries at risk. FAO urged countries to increase disease surveillance and intensify efforts to control the disease.

Contact:Erwin Northoff - Media Relations, FAO -
(+39) 06 570 53105 - (+39) 348 252 3616

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