COMMENTS: Eyes on Iran

All three networks covered Iran, with three radically different angles. ABC assigned Brian Ross to its lead item about the guerrilla raids Iran suffers along its southeast border with the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. He showed us video via al-Arabiyah TV of members of Jundallah, a small band led by a "youthful" militant named abdul-Malik Regi. According to ABC's in-house consultant Alexis Debat, Regi is a former comrade of the Taliban. Jundallah's cross-border raids have succeeded in killing a few members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Ross reported that the CIA was "secretly advising and encouraging" them. Can such a small group have any impact on the government in Teheran? Ross' spook sources believe "destabilization" can occur.

From the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin anticipated the end to that standoff between Teheran and London over the 15 arrested sailors and marines. Diplomats have arrived at wording that will not address the facts about whether they were in Iraqi or Iranian waters when they were captured south of the Shaat al-Arab: "You can be sure that neither side will admit to giving in." Martin noted that this looming agreement coincided with the "sudden and unexplained release" of an Iranian diplomat who had "gone missing" in Iraq.

NBC's Iran story was an In Depth profile of HIV-AIDS physician Minoo Mohraz. "There can be few people who have challenged taboos in Iran as successfully," said Ian Williams. His cameras attended her clinic alongside a "groundbreaking" visit by Iranian state television, whose medical correspondent Atefeh Mirseyedi was prohibited from even mentioning AIDS as little as three years ago. The virus in Iran used to be confined to 70,000-or-so male intravenous drug users but has now started to spread to women by sexual transmission. Condoms are legal in Iran, Williams told us, but "prostitution as well as pre-marital and gay sex are mostly underground to avoid heavy punishment."


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