AFP: Reconstruction of Bam a year after the Iranian city was hit by a devastating earthquake is progressing slowly, with the historic citadel looking like it's been hit by heavy artillery and thousands of people still living in makeshift housing.
Amnesty International: An Iranian woman facing execution by stoning for adultery is believed to still be alive, even though the sentence was reportedly due to have been carried out on Tuesday 21 December. Hajieh Esmailvands death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co-defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging.
UPI: Iran closed its border with Iraq Wednesday and banned its citizens from traveling to the war-torn country where the Shiites' holiest shrines are.
The Iranian News Agency, IRNA, quoted an official statement as saying the border closure and the travel ban were dictated by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
AFP: The Iranian military led by the air force has been ordered to stand ready to defend the country's nuclear sites in case of attack, army chief General Mohammad Salimi said Wednesday. "The air force has been ordered to protect the nuclear sites, using all its power," Salimi said, quoted by the government daily Iran.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 22 Two antique smugglers had their death sentences upheld yesterday by an Islamic revolutionary court in the southern town of Jiroft.
The religious judge, Dadkhoda Sallari, also ordered the confiscation and sale of their personal property to cover the cost of trial.
Reuters: Iran has arrested more than 10 people this year for spying on its atomic programme for Washington and Israel, three of them working within the state nuclear programme, the intelligence minister says.
Iran said in August it had arrested dozens of spies, several of them for nuclear espionage, but Ali Yunesi gave further details about their alleged paymasters.
Boston Globe - Editorial: It may be a positive sign that when campaigning began for elections scheduled for Jan. 30 in Iraq, the first hot-button issue raised by Iraqi politicians was the specter of Iranian influence. US officials as well as Arab leaders are breaking no new ground when they warn in public about Iranian meddling in Iraq. They are fearful of Tehran for geopolitical reasons. They don't want Iranian-style theocracy to spread beyond Iran's borders.
AP: Iran is continuing with a key process used to enrich uranium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons, but it is not violating an agreement to stop such activities because of a loophole in the deal, diplomats said Tuesday. The diplomats told The Associated Press that Tehran is still turning tons of raw uranium into uranium metal. The metal is a precursor of uranium hexafluoride - a substance that can then be used to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Reuters: Iran's decision to keep preparing raw uranium for enrichment, a step on the way to making nuclear weapons, breaks the spirit though not the letter of its pledge to freeze all such activity, diplomats say. Under a deal Iran reached with three EU nations to freeze all enrichment activity as of November 22, preparing "yellowcake" uranium for enrichment is strictly prohibited.
RFE/RL: Along with China and the United States, Iran has one of the highest execution rates in the world. In the last two decades, thousands of political prisoners, drug traffickers, and drug addicts have been executed in the Islamic Republic. In 2003, more than 100 executions were recorded in Iran. Human rights groups, however, say the real number of people put to death is much higher. "Unfortunately, every year there are some 300 to 400 executions in Iran ," said Abdolkarim Lahiji ...
BBC: The UN General Assembly has censured Iran for human rights violations, in a relatively close vote. By 71 votes to 54, with 55 abstentions, the assembly on Monday said Tehran restricted free speech, used torture, and persecuted dissenters. The resolution is not legally binding but is an expression of world opinion. Meanwhile, Amnesty International says it fears an Iranian woman convicted of adultery may be buried up to her chest and stoned to death on Tuesday.
Reuters: Iran will continue preparing raw "yellowcake" uranium for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, until the end of February, despite a recent pledge to freeze all such activity, diplomats said. "The Iranians have decided to continue UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) production until the end of February," a diplomat told Reuters. Two other diplomats in Vienna, where the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is based, confirmed the report.
AFP: A year after an earthquake killed 31,000 people in the southern Iranian city of Bam, thousands still need psychological help, the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies said Monday. The impact of the quake continues to manifest itself through "sleeping disorders, the inability to complete routine tasks, explosive behavior, domestic violence and a dramatic increase in drug dependence," said the IFRC.
The Norway Post: Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen has condemned the planned execution of the mentally retarded 19 year-old Leila M in Iran. Among other things, the girl has been accused of prostitution. Norway has sent a formal protest to Iran about the matter. A representative from the Iranian embassy in Oslo was on Monday summoned to the Foreign Office to receive the Norwegian protest.
United Press International: The U.N. General Assembly Monday expressed concern at continuing human rights violations in Iran on the reported eve of an execution by stoning. Non-governmental organizations said it was the 52nd time a body of the world organization condemned Tehran's human rights record.
Daily Telegraph: Iraqi officials fear that the big winner from next month's historic election will be its powerful neighbour and former enemy, Iran. The countries share a 1,000-mile border, stretching from the flat desert wastes and marshes of the south to the stark mountains of the north.
Reuters: The U.N. General Assembly has criticised Iran for public executions, torture, arbitrary sentencing, flogging, stoning and systematic discrimination against women. Sponsored by Canada, the human rights resolution was adopted on Monday by a vote of 71 in favour, 54 against with 55 abstentions in the 191-member assembly.