The novelty is a result of the West hating the country like poison since its priesthood convicted Salman Rushdie to death. The promises are results of large finds of oil and gas.
It is a paradox that borders on the embarrassing that all it took to open for Norwegian business in Iran, was the abolition of the death penalty of Rushdie and his publishers - his Norwegian publisher William Nygaard included - plus some nice words from the authorities in Teheran. There cannot be many dictatorships left in the world that the Bondevik government has not had time to visit.
The student riots in the country last summer showed that the situation for the common Iranian remains unchanged. 18 people killed, four convicted to death, and many with long jail sentences, were the results of the students' attempt to participate in the public debate in the country. Perhaps Secretary of state Harriet Berg in the Ministry of Trade and Industry should try to open some cell doors as well, when she happens to be visiting?
Norwatch Newsletter 16/99