|Cuba blows the whistle on Iranian
By Safa Haeri
Republic of Iran might lose one of its very few friends
in the world, Cuba, which, according to American
officials, has officially informed them that the Iranian
embassy in Havana was the source of jamming programs
send out by US-based Iranian radio and television
stations aimed at mainland Iran.
related to Telestar-12, a commercial communications
satellite orbiting at 15 degrees west, 22,000 miles
above the Atlantic, which carries programs by the
American government as well as by Iranian radio and
television stations based in the US aimed at mainland
Iran. The interference began on July 16, coinciding with
the start of a new wave of pro-democracy protests led by
Iranian students in Tehran against the country's
At first, it was believed that
the Cuban government, acting on demands from Iran's
ayatollahs, was jamming the US government and private
Persian-language radio and TV broadcasts into Iran, as
the stations, based mostly in Los Angeles, had attracted
an impressive popularity within Iran.
Satellite-broadcasting experts said at the time
that since Tehran could not jam the Telstar-12, due to
its stationary position, it made the request for
friendly Cuba to do it instead.
But on Wednesday
a spokeswoman for the US State Department said that
Havana had informed them that the jamming was made by
the Iranians in Cuba, using a compound in a suburb of
the capital belonging to the Iranian embassy.
According to a source, the Cubans have now shut
down the facility and presented a protest note to the
Iranian government in Tehran, and the jamming stopped
earlier this month. "Cuba informed us on August 3 that
they had located the source of the interference and had
taken action to stop it," Jo-Anne Prokopowicz of the
State Department said.
"The government of Cuba
informed us that the interference was coming from an
Iranian diplomatic facility," she said, adding, "We will
be following this up with Iran."
that it was responsible for the jamming but pledging to
investigate the US complaints in mid-July, Cuba told the
US that it had found the source and that it had acted to
stop it, she said.
The news surprised many
Iranian observers, doubting Cuban leader Fidel Castro's
"innocence" in the affair. "Being a fully police state,
it is difficult to believe that the Iranians had
introduced the sophisticated jamming equipment into Cuba
without the knowledge of the Cuban authorities," Dr
Shahin Fatemi, a veteran Iranian political analyst, told
The Asia Times Online.
Noting that both Iran and
the Marxist regime of Cuba shared the "same mutual hate"
towards Washington, Fatemi, who teaches international
economics at the American University of Paris, added,
however, that if the information is correct, then it
must be welcomed by all Iranians opposed to the present
In his view, the Cuban decision could
also be viewed as a signal from Castro to the Bush
administration, which has labelled Iran as a part of an
"axis of evil" along with North Korea and Iraq under
According to Alireza Meybodi, a
popular radio broadcaster at Radio Yaran in Los Angeles,
Iranian authorities gave in the past jammed foreign
broadcasts locally (in Iran) with mobile equipment
bought from Russia, while using more sophisticated means
installed in Cuba as well.
"This is quite
obvious when we announce some of our programs
beforehand, like one very recently concerning an
interview with Hojjatoleslam Hoseyn Khomeini, the
grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, which was filled with
locally-produced parasite [interference]," he indicated,
adding that most of the foreign-based radio and
television stations could be seen normally outside the
About a dozen of
Persian-language television and radio stations, run by
Iranians opposed to the present Iranian regime, are
beamed towards Iran, where a majority of the 70 million
inhabitants is made of men and women under the age of
30, thirsty for modern entertainment programs - and
Though the regime has banned satellite
dishes, it is estimated that more than 2 million
households, using small and easily concealed equipment,
receive the programs.
At the time of last
month's student protests, Iran said that the US
broadcasts into the country were interference in its
internal affairs, and accused the US-based Iranian
opposition of inflaming the unrest.
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