Iranian Officials Say Food For Oil Programs Have Expanded

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Gholamhossein Ashraghi, head of public relations for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said yesterday that “in the continuation of making sanctions ineffective, bartering oil sales for goods and equipment is one of the methods being used to collect payments for oil.” Ashraghi, who is also an adviser to the director of NIOC, said that as far as neutralizing the effects of sanctions, “bartering oil for goods has been one of the most effective methods in this direction. Meanwhile, the NIOC, in cooperating with Iran’s Central Bank, also has other approaches to collect payments.”

In regard to the expansion of the bartering programs, Ashraghi said that “with consideration of the numerous advantages, today, part of our international contracts will be designed and implemented through bartering.” He added that “under present conditions, one of the positive aspects of bartering is that it secures the collection of payments from crude oil. Using this method can diversify foreign trade in the field of the oil industry and based on the plans that were conducted, a significant part of the oil revenues can be acquired through various means.”

Ashraghi’s latest statements appear to be a follow up to the comments by Ahmad Ghalebani, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, on Sunday. Ghalebani said, “Under present conditions, the possibility to barter crude oil for medicine, food and goods has been provided.”

Due to Western sanctions, Iran has had difficulty in recent years in selling its oil. Iran has been able to acquire wheat, flour and meat from countries such as Pakistan, India and Australia.

Head of Judiciary Denies Political Executions in Iran

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The head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, in response to the latest US State Department Human Rights report, said that “the absolute punishment for actions taken against national security is not execution, and if you claim that we executed someone merely for this, announce their names.” Iran has one of the highest execution rates in the world, and has been accused by human rights organizations of sentencing various political activists to the death penalty.

Larijani added that “most executions in Iran are related to cases involving drug smuggling,” a phenomenon which he blamed America for increasing. He continued “under the excuse of fighting terrorism, America attacked Afghanistan and killed a large number of innocent people, and now we are facing a country that has significantly increased its drug production. The Islamic Republic has confronted drug smuggling and it is accused of actions against human rights.” Afghanistan is one of the world’s largest opium producers. After the US invasion, opium production in Afghanistan increased, much of it passing through Iran. As Iran combats drug smuggling on its borders, individuals who are apprehended are often executed.

The head of the judiciary also responded to the accusation that Iran executes those convicted of moharebeh. He said that “moharebeh literally means ‘to have enmity with God,’ but how it’s used legally is against those who take armed actions against the people and citizens.”

Iran’s judiciary has historically loosely interpreted “armed” actions.