U.S.-Iranian negotiations may be on the agenda again. Recently elected President Mohammad Khatami is seeking to restore Iran's damaged international relations. In the United States, the policy of "dual containment - the double embargo of Iran and Iraq - has come under serious criticism in foreign-policy circles.1
For rapprochement to succeed, though, it will have to avoid the pitfalls that derailed earlier attempts. At least three times since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iranian isolationists have managed to undermine negotiations with the United States by generating an international crisis. Afraid of losing public support, the Iranian negotiators could not afford to appear soft on the "Great Satan," and canceled further talks with the United States. Unless Khatami or the U.S. administration is able to involve the Iranian isolationists in the currently proposed negotiations, we may well witness another such international crisis.
FOREIGN POLICY AND DOMESTIC POLITICS
To understand the episodes of failed U.S.-Iranian negotiations, let us keep in mind three things about Iran in the post-shah era.
First is the existence of an active public debate in Iran over the meaning and fate of the 1979 revolution. In the West, and especially in the United States, we are accustomed to hearing of a near-totalitarian atmosphere in the Islamic Republic, with draconian punishments meted out to critics. This is only partially true. While the Islamic Republic has placed severe limits on the press and on free speech, while tens of thousands of critics have been harassed, imprisoned, tortured, and executed, this repression should not blind us to the arenas of public policy in which debate is permitted and pursued with vigor. Not all voices in Iran are permitted to join the debate, and not all positions are considered legitimate. Yet there is significant and open disagreement on such issues as population growth, urban sprawl, the role of the state in the economy, and planning for the day when the oil runs out.2
The issue of international trade is among the public concerns most heatedly debated in Iran. All sides in this debate agree that Iran's oil must be sold overseas, as this revenue provides the life-blood of the Iranian government and economy. But Iranian politicians are divided on whether and how to encourage non-oil exports, and whether and how to solicit and manage foreign inflows, both imports and investments. The positions in the debate, though they shift frequently, tend to fall into two main camps: the "negotiators" and the "isolationists."
The negotiators, supported by many of the merchants of the bazaar, believe that incorporation into the world economy is both inevitable and desirable: inevitable because no country can isolate itself economically for decades without suffering extreme hardship, desirable because the economic benefits of incorporation will boost the Islamic Republic's reputation in the Islamic world. The negotiators fear that the Islamic Republic's considerable misfortunes - exacerbated by capital flight during the revolution, by Iraq's invasion and Iran's counter-invasion, as well as by mismanagement, ongoing revolutionary turmoil, and the lack of the rule of law - pose a serious threat to the prestige of Islam, both internally and abroad. They also fear is that an economically weak Iran is vulnerable to counter revolutionary machinations. An unstated consideration is that foreign-trade links will give other countries a stake in the status quo in Iran; certainly this is true of Russia and China, both of which have sold technology and weapons to Iran in recent years, and both of which may be expected to mute criticism of Iran at the United Nations as a result.
The isolationists, drawing on populist support, hold that the costs of incorporation into the international economy outweigh the benefits. They dwell on three main costs. First are unequal terms of trade. The anti-imperialist rhetoric so common in the Third World in the l960s and 1970s lives on in an Islamic guise in Iran. Foreign investment means siphoning profits out of the country; foreign trade means exporting cheap primary materials and importing expensive manufactured goods. The short-term benefits to Iran - capital, hard currency, re-stocked store shelves - are seen as a lure to draw Iran into a subordinate position in the world economic system. The second category of drawbacks involves foreign interference in domestic affairs. Doing business with Great Powers and multinational corporations makes Iran dependent on outsiders; when they say "Jump!", isolationists fear, Iran will have to jump. The United States’ solo embargo on Iran is cited as evidence for the isolationists - the United States wishes to dictate Iran's policies as a precondition for bilateral trade.
The third category of drawbacks involves ideological positions. Foreign trade is said to encourage Western-style materialism, commodity fetishism, and loose morals. Islam has higher ideals than profits, Iranian leaders have said repeatedly, and the revolution was not made for cheaper bread. Iranians are supposed to be strong enough in faith to suffer materially, if need be, while building an autonomous economic base and forging egalitarian trade links with other Islamic countries (Turkey and Central Asia being recent candidates).
In addition, we need to understand that the isolationist position in Iran can draw on a populist reservoir of distrust of foreign powers. The cliché that Iranians have longer and better memories than Americans is true. Iranians can cite a substantial list of grievances, most of them little known in the United States. Among the most prominent:
- the installation of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1941 by the British, who removed the previous shah for his pro-German sympathies;
- the reinstallation of the shah in 1953 by the CIA, after a populist prime minister had nationalized British oil interests in Iran and challenged the power of the throne;
- the U.S. training of SAVAK, the shah's feared secret police, in methods of torture and surveillance;
- U.S. support for the shah and his repressive policies, even as the United States mouthed pro-democracy and human rights slogans;
- the existence of a CIA office in the U.S. embassy in Tehran, using diplomatic cover;
- U.S. support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, including the provision of satellite intelligence and agricultural aid;
- U.S. willingness to break international and other countries' laws through covert operations, as exemplified by the 1986 U.S. executive order removing the requirement that U.S. agents obtain prior approval of the "host" government for such operations (the Iranian parliament apparently retaliated by passing a similar law for its agents);
- the U.S. downing of an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf in 1988, killing 290 civilians;
- resolutions by the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament in favor of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (The People's Strugglers), a cult-like military organization based in Iraq that seeks to overthrow the Islamic Republic;
- anti-Iranian sentiments such as those of House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who publicly placed $18 million in the CIA budget in late 1995 for "covert" operations to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
This history is well-known in Iran and widely resented. Isolationists in the government cultivate this resentment through schoolbooks and public commemorations, and use it to mobilize popular sentiment for political goals. As a result, negotiations with the United States run the risk of being attacked as collaboration.
Finally, we need to understand that these grievances against the United States do not necessarily translate into wholesale anti-Americanism. I gather from academics who have spent time in Iran over the past two decades that the phrase "Great Satan" is frequently considered little more than a slogan in Iran, perhaps even something of a joke, rather than a serious equation of the United States and the forces of darkness. In my own interviews with Iranian isolationists, I have been told numerous times that Iranians do not hate Americans - what they hate is the high-handedness of U.S. interventions in Iran. Perhaps this distinction is disingenuous, or a reflection of the elaborate politeness that is a hallmark of Persian culture. But it suggests that grievances against the United States have not developed into a knee-jerk hostility that would block any and all negotiations. In other words, there may be a way to sidestep accusations of "soft on Satan," if the negotiators are able to learn from the experience of past negotiations.
1979: THE EMBASSY TAKEOVER
The first accusations of "soft on Satan" came soon after the revolution that ousted the shah of Iran, during the takeover of the U.S. embassy in November 1979. This takeover was provoked in part by the entry of the shah to the United States for medical treatment - but just as importantly, it was also aimed at the Iranian "negotiators" in charge of the provisional government. The takeover succeeded both in undermining negotiations and removing the negotiators from power.
Chief among the negotiators was Mehdi Bazargan, selected as provisional prime minister by Imam Ruhollah Khomeini in early February 1979. Though Bazargan supported Khomeini's leadership of the Iranian Revolution, he had long disagreed with Khomeini and other radical Islamists on theological and political grounds. Since the 1950s, Bazargan had placed great emphasis on freedom and democracy, while Khomeini rarely spoke on these themes. In the early 1960s he favored a more decentralized religious establishment; Khomeini's famous theological innovation, the velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurisprudent), steered the religious establishment in the opposite direction by placing ultimate power in the hands of a single religious scholar. In late 1978, during the anti-shah movement, Bazargan visited Khomeini in France and attempted to persuade him to call off the revolution and participate in the elections that the shah had promised. Khomeini refused. "Khomeini also refused to take any account of the United States," according to Bazargan's account. "As he saw it, the Americans would not place any direct obstacles into the path of the revolution since its cause was right." At this point Bazargan was so baffled by Khomeini's apparent naiveté that he changed the subject.3
These differing orientations toward U.S. power became exacerbated during Bazargan's provisional presidency. Bazargan and his supporters sought to ease U.S. hostility toward the Iranian Revolution and to gain access to U.S. intelligence on internal and Soviet threats to the new Iranian regime. Beginning in the summer of 1979, intermediaries and then top Iranian governmental officials entered into contact with U.S. officials, culminating in a meeting on November 1, 1979, in Algiers, between Bazargan, two Iranian cabinet members, and U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. News of the meeting was televised in Iran the same evening.
Isolationists objected to Iranian-U.S. negotiations on at least three grounds. First, they shared Khomeini's optimism - inexplicable to Bazargan and his Western-educated followers-that Iran could stand up to U.S. power in the region. This power, the isolationists felt, could only operate if Iranians allowed it to. Second, the isolationists were certain that the United States would try to restore its position in the region by undermining the revolutionary government. They saw the negotiators' willingness to cooperate with the U.S. government as complicity with U.S. interests in Iran, intentional or otherwise. Third, the isolationists feared that U.S. support for the negotiators would affect the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for early 1980.
The isolationists' concerns were partially confirmed by secret documents copied from U.S. embassy files by a foreign employee code-named "Hafez." According to the journalist Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, Hafez passed along two sets of secret documents in the summer of 1979 before fleeing Iran. The documents may not have implicated particular moderates, but they suggested that such documents existed.4
One of the goals of the takeover of the U.S. embassy was to find such incriminating documents, thereby undermining the negotiators as the presidential elections approached. In the hours after taking over the embassy, a spokesman for the hostage-takers explained the act to Agence France Presse as an attempt ''to prove to the people, through documents we would find in the embassy, that the government [that is, Bazargan and his supporters] was not hostile to the United States." "[R]ecent events in our society have caused us to feel that the main direction of the revolution is being lost and the movement is being diverted to other channels," another spokesman told an Iranian news broadcast.5 An introductory essay in the first collected volume of The Spy Nest Documents - the U.S. documents published by the group that controlled the embassy- again linked the embassy takeover with domestic politics.
In this regard, the guiding center of American conspiracies in the [Middle East] region and in Iran, that is, the nest of spies [the U.S. embassy in Tehran], pursued a very active and widespread plot directed at diverting the leaders and executive organizations [of the Iranian Revolution] and gaining influence in governmental and other organs, and thereby shunting to one side and poisoning the atmosphere against revolutionaries such as the activist religious leaders, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and [others with] revolutionary temperaments.6
The isolationists holding the U.S. embassy proceeded to use their control of the documents to discredit the negotiators. Bazargan and his followers resigned within days, citing the embassy takeover as the latest and most damaging of a series of radical activities designed to undermine the provisional government's authority. In the months that followed, the radicals selectively released - or just hinted at the existence of - documents implicating other leading negotiators, including presidential candidate Ahmad Madani. Coupled with physical intimidation and repression, the smear campaign helped remove the negotiators from the political mainstream in Iran.
1986: THE IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR
The Iran-contra affair first came to light, not through the efforts of U.S. journalists or Congress, but from isolationists in Iran seeking to embarrass the Iranian speaker of parliament (later president), Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. As in 1979, the accusations of "soft on Satan" succeeded in sabotaging the negotiators' attempts to improve relations with the United States, though Rafsanjani and his supporters managed to survive politically because of Khomeini's intervention.
In May 1986, Rafsanjani's aides and allies arranged the visit of U.S. officials to Tehran, hoping to procure military hardware in exchange for assistance in arranging the release of Western hostages in Lebanon. This proposed deal, which had fallen through even before it became public, was one small-scale component of Rafsanjani's larger effort to restore Iran's links with the West, links that he considered crucial for the survival of the Islamic Republic. In the short term, he felt that Iran needed military supplies in order to battle Iraq, which had invaded the oil-rich region of southwestern Iran in 1980. In the longer term, he wished to stabilize and rebuild the Iranian economy with the help of foreign capital and markets. Rafsanjani's label as a "pragmatist'' derives from his willingness to do what it takes - within limits, of course - to win the goodwill of the West. (Interestingly, Rafsanjani may have been involved in the Hafez episode that undermined in the negotiators in 1979.)
In conversations with the secret U.S. delegation in Tehran in May 1986, Rafsanjani's representative spoke openly about the political risks that the Iranian negotiators were running. In paraphrase, he said, "The Iranians are bitter. Many Iranians call America the Great Satan. The first revolutionary government [Bazargan's provisional government] fell because of one meeting with Brzezinski. As a government, we don't want to be crushed tomorrow. We want to stay in power and solve these problems between us [the United States and Iran].7
The negotiators' concerns were well founded. A week after the U.S. delegation had left Tehran, anonymous flyers were posted at Tehran University announcing and denouncing the U.S. visit. The flyers argued that negotiations would undermine the revolution. It was unconscionable, the isolationist authors reasoned, to safeguard the revolution by gutting some of its most honored principles, anti-imperialism and the export of the revolution. One such opponent of Rafsanjani's desire to court the West was Akbar Hamidiadeh, who was expelled from parliament for leaking news of the U.S. officials' visit. The man he allegedly told - the man who allegedly arranged the posting of the flyers - was Mehdi Hashemi, head of the Islamic Liberation Movement based in Qum, Iran. No press picked up the story of the flyers in June. However, in early October, 1986, when Hashemi was arrested on charges of kidnapping a Syrian diplomat in Tehran - part of the effort to export the revolution Hashemi's supporters leaked the story of Rafsanjani's secret negotiations to the Beirut weekly. Al-Shiraa (The Sail). International news services picked up the story from there.
Rafsanjani moved rapidly to limit the damage. The day after the story appeared, Rafsanjani publicly confirmed the visit of
U.S. officials but denied that he had had anything to do with them. Rafsanjani had taken care not to meet with the U.S. delegation in person. but the involvement of his foreign-policy adviser was potentially compromising enough to put Rafsanjani’s career in jeopardy. Rafsanjani's version of the episode, subsequently contradicted by U.S. investigations, was that he had been opposed to the visit of the U.S. officials. He had known of their visit, Rafsanjani said, but decided at the suggestion of Khomeini not to have the Americans arrested.
Khomeini stepped in quickly to back Rafsanjani, protecting him from isolationists in parliament who were threatening an investigation. Whatever Khomeini's views on Rafsanjani's conduct during this episode, he clearly did riot want major shifts in government personnel at this juncture. So Rafsanjani remained in power, his career- intact; Hashemi was executed. But Rafsanjani's efforts to restore links with the West had to be put on hold. In the months that followed, isolationists ran Iranian foreign policy. Diplomatic contretemps ensued with Germany, Italy, and Austria over television programs, and with Britain and France over criminal court cases. Rafsanjani's project of negotiating Iran's way back into the good graces of the West was postponed for two years, until 1988.
1989: THE RUSHDIE AFFAIR
Again in early 1989, an international crisis generated by isolationists scuttled Iranian-U.S. negotiations and deterred Rafsanjani from attempting any further overtures to the United States. In the summer of 1988, however, the end of the Iran-Iraq War opened new opportunities for the negotiators. Certain foreign experts and investment were allowed into Iran. Diplomatic relations with France, Canada, and Britain resumed after earlier breaches. In late 1988 and early 1989, the German and French foreign ministers visited Tehran. Iran began to seek significant European loans for post-war reconstruction.
The most startling development, not yet fully substantiated, was a secret agreement in principle to normalize relations with the United States. Published reports have noted that Iran had begun to hold negotiations with the United States through Swiss intermediaries, and rumors of imminent rapprochement were thick enough to warrant a denial by Rafsanjani in December 1988: "Public opinion is not ready to accept this issue, and his holiness the Imam [Khomeini] is the decision-maker on this issue. That is, this is not an issue on which anybody other than the Imam can make a decision."8 Khomeini's decision has never been publicized. My source for the agreement-in-principle, a scholar with access to the top levels of Iranian government, suggests that the incoming Bush administration sought an early and dramatic foreign-policy success, while Khomeini, sensing his mortality, sought to follow up on his cease-fire with Iraq and bequeath to the Islamic Republic a firmer international footing.
The isolationists in Iran again resorted to scandal to derail negotiations with the West. Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses, published in the fall of 1988, was a convenient expedient. The book, which despite the author's protestations contains extended and clearly intentional mockery of Islamic beliefs, had already been criticized and banned in a number of Islamic countries. However, the Iranian legal system had limited grounds for punishing the author, since no Persian translation was planned, no sales were intended in Iran, and the author was not Iranian. Moreover, there were no public demonstrations against the book in Iran in the months following its publication, so far as I have been able to determine. In Britain, India and Pakistan, by contrast, many Muslims were vociferous in their protest. On February 12, 1989, a crowd of Pakistanis objecting to a proposed U.S. edition of the book stormed the U.S. cultural center in Islamabad and were fired upon by U.S. guards and Pakistani security forces, leaving a half-dozen dead and dozens wounded.
Two days later, on February 14, Khomeini issued an edict sentencing Rushdie to death. I have found few indications of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that may have preceded this step, or whether these preparations pre-dated the Pakistani tragedy. According to one report, Khomeini's son Ahmad, a leading isolationist, had read passages of the book in translation to his father. It is clear, in any case, that the edict took many top officials by surprise. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, for example, returned the same day, February 14, from a diplomatic visit to the United Nations, Britain, Spain, and Oman; speaking upon his arrival in Isfahan, he said Iranian-British relations "will gradually be elevated" from the charge level to the ambassadorial level depending "on how the two countries' relations develop,,. President Ali Khamenei, speaking in the northern city of Sari on the same day, called U.S.-Iranian ties "out of the question ... as long as Washington does not change its hostile policy towards Iran."9 Neither man gave any indication that Rushdie's novel, published months earlier, was a factor in Iran's foreign relations. In the following days, by contrast, both men would call for renewed vigilance against anti-Islamic plots, citing Rushdie's book as Exhibit A.
Isolationists pressed their advantage, using the Khomeini edict to bolster their critique of negotiations with the United States and the West. An open letter signed by 115 members of parliament, for instance, urged "continuation of the policy of keeping aloof from the Great Satan, rejection of any thought of friendship with the arch enemy, the cutting off of relations with colonialist Britain, and reciprocal action toward the stances and plots of European countries who have adopted a hostile policy toward us....”10 Isolationists controlling the parastatal 15th Khordad Foundation also announced a multimillion-dollar bounty for Rushdie's execution, surely aware of the international uproar that would follow, which successfully derailed all negotiations.
Britain broke off diplomatic relations again after only three months, and other European countries recalled their ambassadors in protest. Whatever progress had been made in negotiations with the Bush Administration was wasted. As in the Iran-contra scandal, Rafsanjani survived the turmoil, winning election to the presidency later in 1989; as before, however, overtures to the West had to be abandoned.
Just as U.S. presidents cannot afford to look soft on Iran, Iranian negotiators cannot afford to look soft on the Great Satan. In 1979, 1986, and 1989, Iranian-U.S. negotiations had to be abandoned when Iranian isolationists engineered scandals. For renewed negotiations in the late 1990s to escape the same fate, the United States and the new Iranian leaders must learn from the previous episodes.
Iranian negotiators have learned this lesson well, and appear to be extremely careful about pursuing negotiations or other policies that would expose them to accusations of being soft on Satan. During last spring's presidential campaign, for example, Khatami distanced himself carefully from "liberals": "My stances and outlooks, whether in the past or now, expressed in my speeches, interview and articles, show that there are important and basic differences between my perspectives and those of the liberal current."11 Indeed, he cast the same stone at others that he was attempting to dodge himself, suggesting that some members of the liberal opposition National Front party “have fallen into the lap of foreigners.”12
Even with his convincing electoral victory in May 1997, a 20-million-vote mandate, Khatami has moved cautiously with regard to improving relations with the United States. While Khatami has called for renewed foreign investment in Iran, he has also struck anti-imperialist themes, for example in opposing the deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. In his famous interview on Cable News Network in January 1998, Khatami adopted the language of the isolationists in rejecting direct government-government negotiations with the United States, citing many of the U.S. interventions in Iran listed above. "When I speak of dialogue, I intend dialogue between civilizations and cultures," he explained. "But the dialogue between civilizations and nations is different from political relations."13
Even the limited appeal for cultural dialogue generated a vehement response from the isolationists. "No Negotiations, No Relations," one isolationist newspaper editorialized.14 Khamenei, who as Supreme Leader occupies a constitutional role above the president, called academic exchanges as nefarious as political negotiations: "Science is a means of power and domination," he argued. "Therefore the correct way of avoiding the domination on Iran of a power like America is what the honorable Imam [Khomeini] did, and that was to raise a solid and high wall in America's way.... Negotiating with a domineering power like America is worse than having ties."15 Faced with this opposition, Khatami and his spokesmen have stressed, as of this writing in mid-March 1998, that Iran's policies towards the United States have not changed, for example hurriedly denying a report in the Los Angeles Times in February that Khatami had sent a message to President Clinton offering to negotiate. It is uncertain whether Khatami's caution will provide him with political cover when and if negotiations resume, especially as domestic political battles between the negotiators and isolationists have heated up recently on several fronts.
The U.S. side, by contrast, appears to have learned little from the failed negotiations of the past. It may be too much to hope for consistency or principles in U.S. foreign policy, but even on the grounds of effectiveness the U.S. policy towards Iran is undermining future negotiations. Three elements of this policy stand out:
1) Hostile rhetoric. The U.S. government continues to provide fodder for the Iranian isolationists by making interventionist statements. There may be a political cost domestically to playing the peacemaker, but the United States cannot simultaneously make peace and talk tough with Iran. Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Bush all tried this tack and failed.
2) Setting maximal goals for negotiations. U.S. policy experts continue to frame negotiations as a means of altering the policies of the Islamic Republic, or overthrowing it. Yet any hint of political pressure on Iran will play into the hands of the Iranian isolationists, who will trumpet the pressure to discredit the negotiators. Negotiations have a better chance of succeeding if the United States seeks only the benefits of trade and investment, rather than pursuing economic relations as a means to political ends.
3) Refusing to negotiate with "hard-liners." The isolationists in Iran must be given a good reason to refrain from undermining the negotiations, and the most practical method for achieving this would be to include them in the talks. Why would isolationists agree to participate? The answer to this riddle may lie in the worldview of the isolationists. As noted above, they are not opposed to international relations in the abstract. Nor are they "fanatics" seeking to drag Iran back to the seventh century, as the Western stereotype would have it. Rather, they are opposed to a specific international system: one in which a single superpower, whom they perceive as the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, is able to throw its weight around with smaller, less powerful countries. The isolationists will demand safeguards so that U.S.-Iranian rapprochement does not let the gorilla in the door, as it were. If the United States renounces political objectives in Iran, however, these safeguards may not present an insurmountable barrier to negotiations.
1 See Stephen C. Fairbanks, "A New Era for Iran?" Middle East Policy 5:3, October 1997.
2 Ahmad Ghoreishi and Dariush Zahedi, "Prospects for Regime Change in Iran," Middle East Policy 5: 1, January 1997, p. 98.
3 H.E. Chehabi, Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The liberation Movement of Iran under the Shah and Khomeini (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), p. 243.
4 Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, Iran: The Untold Story (New York: Pantheon, 1982), pp. 16-20.
5 Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Middle East and Africa. November 5, 1979; pp. R2, R11.
6 Asnad-e Laneh-ye Jasusi (The Spy Nest Documents), Vols. 1-6 (Tehran: Daneshjuyan-e Musalman-e Payrow-e Khatt-e Emam, 1980), p.ii.
7 President's Special Review Board, The Tower Commission Report (New York: Bantam Books and Times Books, 1987), p.314.
8 Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Near East and South Asia, December 19, 1989, p. 56.
9 Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Middle East and Africa, February 14, 1989, p. 46 and February 15, 1989, p. 79.
10 Translated in Bahman Baktiari, Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1996), p. 168.
11 Jomhurt-e Eslami (Islamic Republic), May 5, 1997.
12 Salaam (Peace), May 6, 1997.
13 Cable News Network, January 7, 1998.
14 Jomhuri-e Eslami, January 15, 1998.
15 Reuters, February 4, 1998.