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Iran Warns Public About Possible Y2K Disruptions

TEHRAN, Iran, December 3, 1999 (Reuters) - A senior official warned Iranians on Thursday about possible disruptions in oil, power, telecommunications and other public services due to the millennium computer bug, state television reported.

``People should be ready...for certain disruptions in public services and mass media should draw the public's attention to this world crisis,'' the television quoted Mohammad Sepehri-Rad, secretary of the state High Council of Informatics, as saying.

``Sensitive sectors such as oil, power, communications, water, medicine and transport are exposed to disruptions and steps have been taken to deal with this,'' said Sepehri-Rad, who heads Iran's Y2K compliance program.

Sepehri-Rad said Tehran had spent $400,000 on its compliance program in Kharg Island in the Gulf, site of some of Iran's main oil loading terminals, $1 million on Arak refinery and several million on its telecommunications installations.

But he said the chance of disruptions in Iran's computer networks was ``far from zero'', although officials had prepared contingency plans to deal with the situation.

Sepehri-Rad told Reuters last month that only the Arak and Bandar Abbas refineries, Iran's newest, could be affected by the bug. Arak has a production capacity of 150,000 barrels per day, while the capacity of Bandar Abbas is about 230,000 bpd.

He blamed trade sanctions imposed by the United States for delays in Iran's Y2K compliance program.

Industry experts say Iran might be less vulnerable to the bug because of the low-tech nature of its banking, services and most industry.

The head of Iran Air said last month all flight-related systems at the state airline were Y2K compliant.