What today's vote in Iran may mean for US hostages

According to sources privy to Iranian President Bani-Sadr's thinking, the solution to the stalemate over the American hostages is within sight. There are three scenarios:

* Mr. Bani-Sadr will receive an overwhelming majority in today's parliamen tary elections and decide to move ahead on that basis alone, without waiting for the new parliament to be formally convened.

* He may want to wait for the runoff elections in two weeks, before acting.

* He may, if worse comes to worst, wait until early May and allow the parlia ment to set the hostages free.

But according to one high-ranking official:

"Mr. Bani-Sadr is sure to emerge as the leader of Iran. He has given personal assurances to the members of the commission that he remains committed to the Waldheim package and intends to act on its as soon as he possibly can."

Given the volatile nature of the situation in Iran and in view of previous disappointments, Mr. Bani-Sadr's optimism has to be received with caution.

The members of the commission returned to their countries (with the exception of Algeria's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Muhammand Bedjaoui, who will remain in New York) after consultations March 12 with US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.

But the commision itself is not being dismantled. It is being parked on a siding, waiting to be reactivated and sent back to Tehran. This will happen as soon as Mr. Waldheim receives assurances from Tehran that the commission will be able to fulfill its twofold mandate: publicize Iran's grievances and obtain the release of the hostages.

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