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DRAFT EXEMPTIONS FOR A PRICE

Iran said Tuesday it would sell permanent military exemption cards to some draft dodgers at $16,600 each.

The money - about 30 years' earnings at the minimum wage - will be kept as a deposit and returned to those who change their mind and complete the two-year term of service, police chief Gen. Mohammad Sohrabi said.Sohrabi, quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA, said the offer only covered men of draft age who legally left the country before March 8, 1989. They can pay either dollars or the equivalent in Iranian rials.

Military service is compulsory for Iranian men over 18. Fear of conscription has kept thousands abroad from visiting home, especially during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Sohrabi said men who took advantage of a previous offer of a three-year exemption at $10,000 need pay just the $6,600 difference to make it permanent.

Tehran Radio said in January the parliament had authorized the government to sell exemption cards at $5,000. There was no explanation for the monetary difference mentioned in the IRNA report Tuesday.