Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's government said it will withdraw support for Inpex Holdings Inc.'s $2.5 billion Azadegan oil project if the United Nations imposes sanctions on Iran for refusing to curtail nuclear research.

"Generally speaking, we'll comply with it if the UN takes such measures and if the sanctions are intended for Azadegan project," Vice Trade Minister Takao Kitabata told reporters today in Tokyo.

Iran has threatened to revoke the contract signed in 2004 with Inpex, Japan's largest oil and gas producer, if the company fails to start work on the project as promised. The dispute over Iran's nuclear program has increased scrutiny on Japan's involvement in Azadegan, the Middle East producer's biggest oil discovery in 30 years.

The Middle Eastern nation ignored an Aug. 31 deadline set by the UN Security Council to freeze uranium enrichment or face the possibility of sanctions, prompting the U.S. to seek support for imposing penalties. The U.S., Japan's closest ally, alleges the research is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, a claim Iran denies.

Inpex has asked Iran for a one-month extension of a Sept. 30 deadline to start development of the Middle East nation's Azadegan oil field, FARS News Agency reported yesterday. Iran's state oil company, which has rejected the request, and Inpex were continuing talks today, the Iranian news agency said on its Web site yesterday, citing unidentified people.

"The talks are underway," Kitabata said without giving details of their progress.

Shuhei Miyamoto, spokesman for Inpex, declined to confirm or deny the one-month extension or any other details of the negotiations.

Inpex Holdings, which holds a 75 percent stake in Azadegan and is leading a group of companies in the project, has said it can't develop the field until Iran removes landmines laid during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.

The production target for the Azadegan field is 260,000 barrels of oil a day, or 5 percent of Japan's current consumption, by 2012.

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16. Iran’s intelligence agents arrest daughter of murdered priest

Sat. 30 Sep 2006

Iran Focus

London, Sep. 30 – Agents of Iran’s dreaded Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have arrested the daughter of a Christian priest whose high-profile murder 12 years ago was met with international condemnation, a Christian news agency reported on Friday.

Fereshteh Dibaj, 28-year-old daughter of Reverend Mehdi Dibaj, was arrested on Tuesday with her husband Reza Montazami, 35, in their home in the north-eastern city of Mashad, the news agency Compass Direct News reported.

The report said that secret agents raided their apartment at 7 am and transferred the couple to a local intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Their six-year-old daughter was reportedly in the apartment at the time.

The couple lead an independent house church in Mashad, where the government executed a convert Christian pastor in 1990, it said.

In July 1994, Mehdi Dibaj, a minister of the Assemblies of God who had converted from Islam, was murdered in a gruesome manner along with two Christian bishops. Prior to his murder, Rev. Dibaj had spent more than nine years in prison, on the charge of "apostasy".

Tehran initially blamed the 1994 murders on the opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK) and brought several former members of the group on television to testify that they were responsible for the killings.

But in the aftermath of the 1997 “serial murders” of dissidents and intellectuals in Iran, which for the first time lifted the lid on numerous killings by the Intelligence Ministry, journalist Akbar Ganji shed light on the murders, revealing that it had been an “inside-job” sanctioned on the orders of Deputy Intelligence Minister Saeed Emami and carried out by a team under the command of Mahmoud Saeedi.

Officials in the Khatami administration later acknowledged that the murders of Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr, Bishop Tateos Michaelian, and Reverend Mehdi Dibaj were politically-motivated killings by the MOIS to tarnish the image of the Iranian opposition group.


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