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Entries in Nuclear Proliferation (3)


Iran Video & Transcript: Ahmadinejad Interview with Britain's Channel 4 (23 December)

We have a snap analysis of the interview in Today's LiveBlog. The interview of the Basiji member to which interviewer Jon Snow refers is also on Enduring America:

The Latest from Iran (24 December): Another Day, Another Demonstration

Jon Snow: "Mr President do you accept that this country is at a cross roads? We are one week away from the end of the year and that the deadline when you have to give a response to the nuclear offer made by the P5+1.

"The P5 group that meets with Germany from the security council of the United Nations - apparently representing the security council that has made this proposal about enrichment taking the material outside the country, bringing it back. And they say by the end of this year that is the deadline for a response."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "I think part of this question must be corrected. Actually we have given the proposal for the exchange of the fuel and according to the regulations they have to provide the fuel without any conditions.

"We have offered a proposal in order to provide opportunity for them - in order to have an opportunity for cooperation instead of confrontation. And it is a very simple procedure.

"But they are insisting that to have conditions for giving us the fuel - political conditions I mean - while the exchange of fuel is a technical job. I have not yet heard anybody who has given a deadline for this because it is meaningless.

"We are in a position to produce 20 per cent grade uranium. We have given this offer in order to provide an opportunity for them. If they do not use the opportunity we are in position and we are able to produce that grade of uranium. We have no problem doing it.

"The current regulations in the IAEA[ International Atomic Energy Agency] allow us to do so and we will make it ourselves. From our standpoint there is no problem for that."

JS: "You say there is no problem Mr President but the United States is already taking about sanctions other countries, certainly France and Germany and Britain are also talking about sanctions - that would suggest they don’t see it the same way."

MA: "It is something else the question or issue of revolution or imposing sanctions. We are against the expansionist policies of the United States. We say it frankly and explicitly. We do not accept the policy of intimidation and aggression.

"It will be good for US policy makers to say that Iran is against their policies and the expansions. I think it has become an old issue to talk about the nuclear programme. The story of these claim of US and its allies have turned into a TV series. More our standpoint it has no value."

JS: "It's not just the United States, I mean, the UN inspector you had to tell: you had another facility for enriching uranium at Qom and that was something that you had not declared but you should have declared under the regulations."

MA: "According to the regulations in the IAEA, six months before the beginning of enrichment activities we should have informed them. We did it one year before the activities but unfortunately they have misinterpreted our cooperation. When we cooperate with them they show negative reactions --- what does that mean? They said themselves --- one that is not a member will remain immune from the investigations and verifications. When you cooperate the reactions are negative. What does that mean?

"Does it mean we should not cooperate at all? Or course we do not do not accept this - this is not acceptable for us. But their attitudes are wrong. They want to say that a country which is not a member is free to do everything more than the member. And those countries enjoy more rights and any government who fulfils its obligations would be under pressure. Do they think they can run the world with this logic?"

JS: "But this is the United Nations, this particular group --- and Mr [Mohammad] El Baradei [former head of the IAEA] is supported by both China and Russia on this matter --- you were keeping this particular enrichment facility secret and that has broken confidence and that's really where the new crisis has now developed. A breakdown of confidence between you and the UN inspectorate."

MA: "That's not true. That's not true. They make some claims. They say that the construction of the site started when Iran had accepted certain arrangements but we believe that after we suspended those arrangements we started the construction. And it is very normal for the relations in between countries and the agency.

"Does the US give any reports to agency itself? They have 8,000 nuclear warheads. Who is more dangerous in world and who should be concerned about these things? From what point should they start inspections? The UN has been founded on the basis of veto right can never run the world."

JS: "But Mr El Baradei has said that the friendly relationship that he has enjoyed with Iran had ended. That is a pretty strong statement and it comes from a UN body."

MA: "I have not heard about it. We are keen to have friendly relations with all. But the basis of judgement and cooperation is on a legal basis. We have the official documents from the IAEA and it has endorsed all our activities. We do not regulate our relations based on rhetoric. We do it on the basis of the law and the documents. We cooperate with the agency. And the agency has no right to express political opinions under the pressures of certain governments. The agency has a commitment to inspect the nuclear facilities of the US and other nations too. And the agency should disarm them."

JS: "Mr President, this battle with the IAEA has been going on for years now why do you bother to remain a member of the non-proliferation treaty. Why not just dump it and stay like Pakistan, India and Israel outside the treaty and do what you want to do?"

MA: "We never been fighting against the agency - what should we do?"

JS: "I'm asking you - why do you stay in the treaty?"

MA: "We stay in the treaty and according to entity we have rights and obligations. We have fulfilled our obligations and we should also enjoy rights. And we will never allow political claims to enter into our works and activities."

JS: "This is very difficult for ordinary people to understand. You have the US, you have European powers, you have Russia, you have China, all these countries are very dissatisfied with the answers you have been giving. It's not just the US. You say that it's them that is pulling the strings, if you like, but it's much more than that."

MA: "There are other countries that are unaligned and they have given their votes against them. Shouldn't they adapt themselves with the votes of these 120 countries?"

JS: "Mr President, I'm being warned that our time is very short and I would like to move on. President Obama offered you when he came into power an extended hand…."

MA: "Let me say one more sentence. The number of countries or campaigns of countries do not bring any legal right. That is the law that prevails and it defies your rights. And we are doing everything according to the law. We will never be influenced by the political campaigns. We make the decisions on the basis of our national interests and on the basis of the laws and regulations. The US is against us and we are used to it."

JS: "President Obama did come in and he made this speech in Cairo to you. He offered an extended hand of you would greet it. But you haven’t greeted it. The relationship now, I mean…there is no way that the extended hand is going to stay extended."

MA: "Which hand did he extend? His right hand or left hand?"

JS: "He extended the hand of friendship, let's be honest…"

MA: "What has he done in practice?

"I sent a message to him and we participated in Geneva negotiations. We talked with them and we offered the proposals for a fuel exchange. And we have announced that we stand ready to have a debate in New York. Who has extended his hand in practice? He extended the sanctions against us. What step has he taken?"

JS: "Is the matter of extended hands finished?"

MA: "Extended where? We hope he will succeed in making changes, real changes. And we have helped him. However we are concerned about his avenues - he has failed to meet the expectations of the people in the US and the people of the world."

JS: "But it has been complicated by what has happened here in Iran. There have been disturbances there has been awful scenes of violence on the streets and that has disturbed people inside and outside Iran. That makes it difficult to extend hand doesn't it?"

MA: "We are facing same problems here. While the US has a military build up in Afghanistan and killing our brothers in that country. At same time the US is supporting killing of Palestinians, and they extend the resolutions and sanctions. Worse than that the American police beat people, they arrest people and use batons and tear gas against people… "

JS: "Well, two wrongs don't make righ,t do they Mr President? The Basij here, and we have this firsthand from a member of the Basij, he says they were given the permissions to go in and use no restraint and attack people who disagree with you. Women, men were hit with batons - and some were killed."

MA: "In my opinion you have access to some information which I don’t know."

JS: "Well we have spoken to a Basij who told us what orders they were given."

MA: "With whom did you talk to?"

JS: "We spoke with a member of the Basij who has now run from Iran."

MA: "Clearly this source of information must be very exact. I think it is not correct to judge in this way. In our country the law prevails."

JS: "But you can see videos Mr President. You've scene the pictures of what the Basij were doing and what the Revolutionary Guard were doing. And what he has seen too is the beating and the raping of men and women in detention."

MA: "Did you see all of these things on the pictures?"

JS: "We saw all of the things in the streets - of course we do not get the stories of what happened in the containers where people were being detained."

MA: "There have been clashes amongst some people - how can you find out if he was Basij or another person? Let me repeat that. In my country the law prevails."

JS: "You deny that the Basij beat up these people?"

MA: "No, we are not concerned with these things as you claim. The law prevails. Some people may violate the law in any place anywhere. And maybe they have not observed and respected the law during demonstrations or protests they may have participated in illegal demonstrations. Or they might get involved in clashes whether they are ordinary people or from among the Asians....

"The law will certainly investigate. Iran is a free country. Do you believe that Iran should be like West? We have freedom in Iran - people are free to express their views. They can also cry for their rights…you are making a mistake…."

JS: "But you have sent journalists out of the country…."

MA: "You are making a mistake. And the Western politicians think something happening in Iran and Iran has become weakened. That is a mistake. They do not know Iran. The people of Iran are united and they would certainly defend rights and interests. They would protect their independence. There are different views that exist in this country. There are differences of opinion there are rivals, competitors and they are serious. But the majority of the nation is united and they are determined to protect their independence."

JS: "But, Mr President you contrast today…."

MA: "You can see the scenes on the streets of London where people are being beaten by British police."

JS: "But you can contrast today in Iran with even two years ago: there were many foreign journalists here, there was much for freedom - people could watch what ever they wanted on the Internet or whatever. Now, for example any broadcast or Internet appearance by the BBC is jammed, there are no, or very few foreign correspondents. And it is very difficult now to report on…."

MA: "Who is the BBC owned by? Is it a state owned company or private?"

JS: "It is a state-owned, regulated company which has independence from the government --- we have to pay individually to the BBC to fund it."

MA: "Alright. How can a government institution or state-owned company be independent from the policy of the government? Do you know anywhere in the world where the BBC has acted against the policies of the government? The BBC is the instrument of British government foreign policy and the British government has shown that it is against and hostile to our nation. They have shown that for about 100 years."

JS: "But is that the same for example with Newsweek? Take Maziar Bahari who worked for Newsweek. He gets thrown into jail, he is beaten in jail, he is tortured in jail, he has told me that himself."

MA: "And you have accepted his claims?"

JS: "He is a man I have known for a long time --- I trust him…."

MA: "People say a lot of things. Do you think freedom prevails in US? And do you think the media in the US is free? Why aren't people allowed to have demonstrations against the Zionists? Do you think all the media in the US I against the Palestinians? They are clear facts. We are not going to deceive each other - they are political and media games. And that period is over. It will have not effect in the world. They offer interpretations based on some lies.

"That period is over we should focus on realities and we should talk to each other based on those realities, based on the law. And I think that is a mistake made by the political politicians in the West. They make the media themselves - they create them and they say lies. And based on those lies they take political positions. And at the same time they insist that others should believe them."

JS: "Let's take a story in The Times [of London] this morning. They say that bin Laden's wife lives here in Iran --- is that true? Is that a lie or is that true? That one of Bin Laden's wives lives here in a compound outside Tehran with some family. Is that true or false?"

MA: "Why should it be in London? How did they receive that information? Let me…"

JS: "But you haven’t answered me yes or no, Mr President. However they found out this information, the questions is: is it true or is it false?"

MA: "Let me tell you something else which is more important. Because there are many things like that --- they are producing these things everyday. Because this is the instrument to control the world, they create these things everyday and wise people would never waste time answering all these things."

JS: "How do you change that?"

MA: "Statesmen in the UK and the US must accept the realities in the world. The period of influence in the environment through the media campaigns is over. And we know everything about these tactics and policies. We would never be deceived by media campaigns. It has no value to us. We will never base our time on that.

"For example, about Neda Agha-Soltan. What has the BBC done about her? They created a false scenario based on political campaigns and it has been proven to us. That was a lie…."

JS: "Let's look at a reality. You have 15 per cent inflation. You have real economic difficulties, we have economic difficulties - many countries in the world have economic difficulties. If there is to be more tension between us, more trouble over sanctions, more trouble over who is doing what - wouldn't it be worth just trying a different path? Trying to re-extend a hand of friendship and open up maybe to people coming in and maybe to people going out?"

MA: "I agree with you. We are saying same thing to the Americans and to the British. Why have they been against our people for more than 50 years? There are governments around Iran and they are dictatorships - they are friends with those dictatorships…"

JS: "So what's your offer?"

MA: "Before the revolution we had a dictatorship in Iran. And they had friendly ties with the dictator. But since we have had democracy and freedom in our country they have risen against us."

JS: "Ayatollah Montazeri said this is an Islamic dictatorship."

MA: "One is free to express one's views in Iran. It is not like some European countries where scientists are in prison. Everybody who says anything against the Holocaust goes to prison even if he or she is a university professor."

"This is not the situation in Iran. The government is criticised and people are free to do so. I believe it will be good for the US and British officials to could change attitudes. They should experience friendship."

JS: "What about both changing attitudes - you and them changing attitudes?"

MA: "We would certainly welcome any step in that direction. We have never wanted anything beyond our rights.

"We have never sent our troops to borders of the US or UK. We have never threatened Britain or America with military threats. We have never issued any resolutions against them.

"We want our own rights and of course we are for talks. We are against confrontation. But experiences indicate that those who have chosen to confront us damage their policies."

Iran: Why the US Sanctions Game on Tehran is All Wrong

IRAN NUKESGary Sick, an official in the Ford, Carter, and Reagan Administrations and now a professor at Columbia University, was a key participant earlier this month in a Harvard University simulation of US-Iran relations. His conclusion, published in The National: "Is the United States really going to proceed with Iran on the basis of a sanctions policy that has consistently failed? One hopes that the Obama administration can demonstrate more imagination and agility than its Harvard namesakes."

(David Ignatius also has a column on the event: "The simulated world of December 2010 looks ragged and dangerous. If the real players truly mean to contain Iran and stop it from getting the bomb, they need to avoid the snares that were so evident in the Harvard game."):

Can the United States forge a mutually constructive relationship with Iran? Can a global superpower find a way to persuade a recalcitrant and paranoid regional power to enter the community of nations as a responsible participant?

Iran: US State Department Pushes for “Proper” Sanctions in 2010
The Latest on Iran (16 December): What’s Next?

For 30 years, both America and Iran have answered those questions with a resounding no. The United States has historically taken a coercive approach, which has only driven Iran further into petulant isolation.

The Obama presidency promised a different strategy.

Rather than indulging in extravagant Axis-of-Evil invective, which even the outgoing Bush administration had come to regard as counter-productive, the United States would cool the rhetoric and extend a hand. That policy was only four months old in June, when Iran descended into its most excruciating domestic crisis since the civil war in the early 1980s. The resulting loss of legitimacy by the ruling elites and their utter preoccupation with their own survival meant that foreign policy decisions – always difficult at best – were now subject to a new set of internal dynamics and uncertainties.

Despite these new complications, Iran’s national security leadership accepted and even promoted an agreement with the so-called P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) for a swap of nuclear material. Iran would relinquish a sizable proportion of its stockpile of low enriched uranium (LEU), which would be further enriched by Russia and then fashioned into fuel cells by France to supply the Tehran Research Reactor. Both sides regarded this as a win-win agreement and an important step towards further negotiations.

But the proposal met a chorus of disapproval from Iran’s parliament and even the “Green” opposition, who argued that Iran should not give up a “national asset” – the uranium – without absolute assurances that the P5+1 would fulfill their end of the bargain. Iran’s leaders were forced to propose an alternative arrangement: that the swap take place inside Iran.

At that point, the United States and its partners could have responded with a counter-offer that would, for example, sequester the Iranian LEU under strict safeguards until the replacement fuel cells were available, thus accomplishing most, if not all, of their original objectives. Instead, they ended all negotiations and introduced a sharply critical resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency board.

Iran predictably responded by declaring it would reduce its cooperation with the IAEA and, in a fit of blustery indignation, announcing a new plan to build 10 additional enrichment sites – a hollow threat since Iran lacked both the centrifuges and the necessary raw uranium fuel to carry it out.

Iran withdrew into its cocoon of haughty and pained victimization. The United States and its allies made a similar retreat to a posture of righteous indignation, the better to fashion “crippling” sanctions designed to force Iran to change its policies.

This sequence of events suggested that the future of interactions between the United States and Iran under Barack Obama might not look so different from his predecessors. A recent experience convinces me that such a conclusion may not be entirely fanciful.

Last week I participated in a simulation game at Harvard University’s Belfer Center focused on US-Iran relations. About half a dozen countries or entities (including the EU and the GCC) were represented by teams of participants, many of whom had long years of experience in regional politics. For my sins, I was made the head of the Iran team.

The goal of the American team was to assemble a consensus for new sanctions against Iran. The Iran team, on the other hand, felt confident that the US and its allies could not put together a package that would hurt us in any serious way, and that was indeed the case. By the end of the game, the Americans had driven away all their ostensible allies, and wasted immense time and effort, while Iran was better off than it had been at the beginning.

This was only a simulation, of course. But the moves of the US team were quite similar to the strategy actually employed by the United States over the course of the past three administrations. The pursuit of sanctions in this game, as in the real world, became an end in itself, with little impact on Iran or its ability to continue enrichment. The United States can (and in fact already has) put together a reasonable set of sanctions. These efforts may please the Israelis, the GCC states and other allies as a show of determination. But will they stop Iran?

Those of us on the Iran team scarcely paid any attention to all this massive US policy exertion. Admittedly, we felt lonely at times. But we never believed that our core objectives (freedom to proceed with our nuclear plans and our growing appetite for domestic political repression) were at risk – nor was the survival of our rather peculiar regime, which was of course our most immediate concern.

The offers made by the Iran team were modest in the extreme, yet they formed the basis of the final outcome. No other country had the courage or imagination to remind us of the earlier proposals and suggestions we had made, which were still on the table, nor did they try to sit us down and push us on our plans, or give us a juicy incentive that might have forced us to make real decisions. Also, no one attempted to broaden the discussion to other areas where the United States and Iran share some common interests and might have found common ground.

It was probably realistic that no one challenged Iran’s right to enrich. That has reluctantly been accepted as a fait accompli. But there was no effort to test Iran on safeguards, inspections or other arrangements that might provide reliable intelligence on Iranian activities; neither did any player propose restrictions on specific key elements of the Iranian nuclear program, which would lengthen the time required to break out into production of a nuclear device.

By the end of the game, Russia and China had initiated their own secret accommodation with Iran. That was an interesting development, but one that was by no means inevitable. It happened because of the single-minded pressure of the US team, who demanded support for a sanctions regime that was fundamentally contrary to Russian and Chinese interests.

Relations between the United States and Iran have always been more about domestic politics than foreign policy. That has never been truer than it is today.

For years, the United States attempted to isolate and contain Iran, without much success. Now Iran is isolating itself. A self-imposed “iron curtain” is descending around the country. Communications are subject to surveillance and punishment. Travel increasingly tends to be one way, as individuals decide to leave the country to “cool off” in the face of constant repression or simply to find decent jobs. “Commissars” are being placed in schools and universities to insure that teaching is in accordance with approved dogma according to the Revolutionary Guard. The basij, a popular paramilitary force, is increasingly being used for street enforcement, in place of the less-ideological police.

In the words of Charles Issawi, “Revolutions revolve – 360 degrees.” The leaders of the Iranian revolution are seemingly not content with merely imitating the tyrant that they so proudly overthrew 30 years ago. Instead they have gone even further, and now emulate the crude dictatorship of Saddam Hussein that is an insult to sophisticated Iranian culture. Iran is taking its place among those governments that are incompetent in all things except the repression of their own people.

The slow motion coup that is underway in Iran, with the Revolutionary Guard inserting itself into the very fabric of the state and economy, greatly complicates but does not prevent negotiation of important issues, including nuclear enrichment and human rights. Such an effort, however, requires patience and perseverance – qualities that come hard to American policy makers. Yet the United States negotiated a nuclear arms pact with the Soviet Union while also negotiating the Helsinki Accords, which gave birth to the modern human rights movement and empowered opponents of Soviet rule.

Is the United States really going to proceed with Iran on the basis of a sanctions policy that has consistently failed? One hopes that the Obama administration can demonstrate more imagination and agility than its Harvard namesakes.


The Latest from Iran (14 December): Taking Stock

IRAN GREEN1745 GMT: Swinging Wildly. A couple of punches from regime supporters this afternoon. The Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guard, told Presidential staff that the Khomeini Archive, run by the late Imam's family, is "a base for monafeghin (hypocrites)". The term "monafeghin" is commonly used to refer to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the group which has tried to overthrow the Islamic Republic since 1979, often through violence.

And Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi took aim at Hashemi Rafsanjani. Yazdi claimed that, when he was head of Iran's judiciary, Rafsanjani asked him to cover up a criminal case against the former President's daughter, Faezeh Hashemi. Yazdi also questioned the intellectual credentials of Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1604 GMT: Confirming the Sentence. We had learned days ago that economist and journalist Saeed Laylaz had been sentenced to nine years in prison. The break-down of the sentence has been released: five years for acts against national security by holding meetings with foreign embassy officials, one year for participating in the protest march of 15 June; two years (and 74 lashes) for insulting officials, one year for propagandizing against the Establishment in his economic analyses over the last eight years.

1558 GMT: Pushing the Issue. For the first time in months, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have requested a permit for a march from the Ministry of Interior.

NEW Latest Iran Video: And Your University Protests Today…. (14 December)
NEW Latest Iran Video: Challenging the Regime’s Forces on 16 Azar (7 December)
NEW Iran: Scott Lucas in La Stampa on “Khamenei’s Final Warning”

NEW Iran: “Arrests” and the Regime’s Sword of Damocles
Iran Analysis: Sifting the Propaganda – Government About to Arrest Opposition Leaders?
Latest Videos from Iran’s Universities (13 December)

The Latest from Iran (13 December): Bubbling Over?

1555 GMT: Sanctions? Oops! "A senior official says that a meeting by five world powers on Iran's nuclear program has been canceled due to China's opposition.

The U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany had planned to meet Friday. The official from one of the five world powers demanded anonymity Monday because his information was confidential.

The meeting was to be in Brussels or on the sidelines of the Copenhagen summit." (hat-tip to EA reader)

1510 GMT: Josh Shahryar's latest Green Brief, covering Sunday's events, is now out, covering protests at up to nine Iranian universities, the threat of arrests, and the Supreme Leader's speech, amongst other events.

1500 GMT: There's Mahmoud! The President has met our concerns about his absence (0905 and 0725 GMT) from the domestic crisis with this comment, "The enemies of the Iranian nation are now frustrated and want to take revenge through insulting the country's sanctities....The enemies should fear the typhoon of the Iranian people's anger." Ahmadinejad accused the opposition of being "against the nation" and "agents of foreigners".

1215 GMT: Your New Top Story (if You're Not in Iran). Looks like the "Western" media will surge this morning with a single sentence from Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at a news conference, passed on by the Associated Press via The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times: the three US hikers detained this summer in Iran had "suspicious aims" and will go on trial. CBS News is now headlining, and CNN now "confirms" (cracking journalism since the press conference was hours ago).

1050 GMT: The Regime's Scramble. A reader reminds us that the Peyke Iran "exclusive" (0915 GMT), on the Armed Forces self-confessed failing to contain the opposition, is from a memorandum from September after the Qods Days protests. The question that prompts is whether, again in light of our analysis this morning, the Armed Forces would revise that assessment three months later.

1040 GMT: The Regime Persists. I guess the Government can't just step away from its "burning Khomeini" game, despite all the complications it has caused. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has claimed that several people have been arrested over the incident.

1030 GMT: Don't Give Them an Excuse. Mir Hossein Mousavi has moved to pre-empt any regime pretext for a crackdown, such as the alleging burning of Khomeini's image, as well as to contain any notion of a "radical" opposition: "From now on all protests and demands should be pursued peacefully and lawfully. Nobody among us should make a pretext for those who are against people."

Mousavi then renewed the "peaceful" challenge:

People have a right to question, they should not be confronted violently....If people's questions were answered and they were not confronted violently we would not see some controversial moves today. People want an end of the security-obsessed atmosphere as in such an atmosphere radicalism grows.

0915 GMT: Analysis Confirmed, Regime Scrambling To Contain Opposition? An EA reader, commenting on our morning analysis about the weekend's threat of arrests, points out a Peyke Iran story: the article claims to have an admission from Iran's Armed Forces that it has failed to contain the Green Movement.

The report from the General Staff allegedly evaluates that the Green Movement has not been fostered by foreign intervention and that it is not following a specific political agenda but is a social and cultural movement. The officers say that, despite isolating the movement's leaders (Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami), the opposition has persisted. Efforts to out-number and overwhelm the demonstrators through counter-protests of Government workers have been hindered by the apathy of the workers or, in some cases, their refusal to heed the call.

An interesting note: the General Staff evaluates that women have been the chief instigators of the protests.

0905 GMT: The Regime Keeps On Spinning. Press TV puts out a boiler-plate story under a dramatic headline, "Figures slam sacrilege of Imam Khomeini portrait". We reported almost all of the comments in yesterday's updates but there is one interesting addition today, in light of our question (0725 GMT), "Where's Mahmoud?".  "Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Tuesday described the incident as an 'objectionable' move 'that he wished he had never witnessed'."

Hmm, that's six days ago, which is about six years on the calendar of Iranian political developments --- what's Mahmoud been doing since then?

0725 GMT: After a weekend of tension which did not culminate in 1) high-profile arrests or 2) a resolution of the mysterious letter/audio purportedly from Iranian army units ready to "stand with the people" if violence continues but did point to the persistence of protest on university campuses, it is a morning to pause and assess. We have a special analysis on the meaning of the regime's threat, capped by the Supreme Leader's speech yesterday, to vanquish the opposition once and for all.

There's also an important related issue for us to consider before an analysis tomorrow: Where's Mahmoud? It's notable that, in all the public manoeuvres of the last few days, President Ahmadinejad has been off to the side, meeting foreign delegations and waving his fist on the nuclear issue but saying little about the internal situation. Is he being politically sensible in standing back from the front line or has he been put to the side by others, i.e., the Supreme Leader, returning to the shadows that he occupied in the early weeks of this crisis?

Much of this is beyond the "Western" media. The New York Times, for example, has a good article by Michael Slackman this morning on the "burning" of the image of Imam Khomenei. Unfortunately, it's a piece already overtaken by events --- Slackman never notes the threat of arrests of opposition leaders and thus the wider significance of Ayatollah Khamenei's Sunday address.

CNN is just catching up with the "We Are All Majids/All in Hejab" protest over the detention of Majid Tavakoli.  The Times of London, meanwhile, is going off on one of its regular sensational strolls in the nuclear woods, claiming from mysterious (and unnamed) sources and buttressing the claim with Israeli comment, "Secret document exposes Iran’s nuclear trigger".