Entries in Reuters (9)
There is a twist, however, in the tale. Some folks in the US Government are trying to re-direct the story. Reuters, which was the first agency to run the Bomb Threat headline, now reports:
Senior Obama administration officials said on Thursday they were struck by the number of significant technical problems Iran appears to be encountering on the road to a nuclear weapon.
The U.S. officials, briefing reporters on a new International Atomic Energy Agency report, said Tehran is showing more evidence of trying to move toward a nuclear weapons capability but may be running out of uranium.
"The fact that they have increased the level of non-cooperation indicates to me that unless we can mount the international pressure to stop it, this program is heading more and more in the direction of seeking a weapons capability," one official said.
It may take Iran longer to build a weapon because of the technical problems, the official said, "but the pattern of behavior is one that I think is very disturbing."
Interpretation? The Obama Administration's drive will be to "keep the lid" on Iran by holding out for an uranium swap deal with tight international controls and supervision, by pushing directed sanctions against essential equipment for Iran's programme, and by limiting Tehran's access to uranium.
That's the real story here, not the extrapolations and mis-interpretations of an IAEA report which actually said little new. Iran is not on the verge of The Bomb:
The [Administration] official said Iran seems to be "at least several years" away from accumulating sufficient quantities of 20 percent enriched uranium that would be necessary for converting into bomb-grade material. Uranium enrichment of 90 percent or more is needed for a weapon.
2100 GMT: So all our watching on many fronts is overtaken by the "Iran Might Be Getting A Bomb" story. Little coming out of Iran tonight; in contrast, every "Western" news outlet is screaming about the draft International Atomic Energy report on Iran's nuclear programme. (Funny how each, like CNN, is implying that it "obtained" an exclusive copy.)
1830 GMT: Political Prisoner News. "Green media" pull together reports that we carried last night: 50 detainees were released, including Shahabeddin Tabatabei, member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and head of youth in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami, Parisa Kakaei of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, student activist Maziar Samiee, and Khosrow Ghashghai of the Freedom Movement of Iran.
An activist adds that Ardavan Tarakameh was released on bail this evening.
NEW Iran Document: Today’s Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (18 February)
NEW Iran Analysis: The "Now What" Moment (Farhi)
NEW Iran: Getting to the Point on Detentions & Human Rights (Sadr)
NEW Iran: Another Rethink on Green Opposition (Ansari)
Iran Analysis: Ahmadinejad Stumbles; “Karroubi Wave” Surges
Iran Nuke Shocker: Clinton/White House “Tehran Not Building Weapons”
Iran Document: Fatemeh Karroubi “My Family Will Continue to Stand for the People’s Rights”
The Latest from Iran (17 February): Psst, Want to See Something Important?
1745 GMT: Here We Go. Reuters proves our hypothesis within five minutes with "IAEA fears Iran may be working to make nuclear bomb":
The U.N. nuclear watchdog is concerned that Iran may now be working to develop a nuclear payload for a missile, the agency said in a confidential report on Thursday obtained by Reuters....
"The information available to the agency is extensive ... broadly consistent and credible in terms of the technical detail, the time frame in which the activities were conducted and the people and organizations involved," the report said.
"Altogether this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."
1. The report can't be that confidential if Enduring America got a copy of it off the Internet earlier this afternoon.
2. There is nothing new in the passage cited by Reuters. The IAEA has said repeatedly that information "raised concerns" about a possible military nuclear weapons programme. That is different from saying that the information establishes that Iran is pursuing such a programme.
(1840 GMT: We might as well whistle in the wind. BBC and National Public Radio in the US are following the leader with "UN Nuke Agency Worried Iran May Be Working On Arms".)
Meanwhile, from the other side, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has taken a swing at "Western pressure": "The Westerners say, 'You have a reactor in Tehran and its fuel should be supplied by us, and you should acquire fuel in the way we want, and give us your enriched uranium as well." And Deputy Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar has declared, "If they (Western countries) accept to swap (uranium) simultaneously in Tehran, we will stop the production of 20 percent fuel."
1740 GMT: On the Nuclear Front. Oh, well, you can pretty much put every internal story in Iran into cold storage for 48 hours --- the International Atomic Energy Agency has just released its latest report on Iran's nuclear programme. There's little, if anything, new in substance, but the IAEA's worried tone is likely to feed those who are pushing for tougher action against Tehran. And it most certainly will feed a media frenzy for the rest of the week.
We've posted the conclusion of the report as well as a snap analysis.
1600 GMT: Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (see 1110 GMT). We have posted the English text of the statement from today's two-hour discussion.
1540 GMT: Confirmed. Norway has granted asylum to the Iranian diplomat, Mohammed Reza Heidari, who resigned his post in January .
1515 GMT: On the Nuclear Front. Worth watching --- the Turks are now reporting back to the US after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's talks in Iran on Tuesday. A Turkish website writes that Davutoglu chatted by phone with Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night. Davutoglu will meet US Undersecretary of State William Burns today, and he told reporters, "Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss this issue with U.S. President Barack Obama."
1420 GMT: Column of the Day. Roger Cohen of The New York Times asserts that, rather than slapping on further sanctions, US authorities should focus on assisting Iranians with access to and dissemination of information: "With the Islamic Republic weaker than at any time in its 31-year history, fractured by regime divisions and confronted by a Green movement it has tried to quash through force, U.S. sanctions are abetting the regime’s communications blackouts."
1315 GMT: What's Mahmoud Saying? Yet another installment in the tough-guy posturing between the US and Iran. From Press TV's website:
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the Zionist regime of Israel is so terrified of the Lebanese resistance and people. The Iranian president made the remark in a phone conversation with the Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, ISNA reported on Thursday.
President Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah also discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region. He further praised Nasrallah's latest stance on the Israeli threats. "The Zionists are really terrified of the resistance and people in Lebanon and the region," President Ahmadinejad emphasized. "But they (the Israelis) are looking for opportunities to make up for their past defeats in Gaza and Lebanon as they feel their credibility and existence are in jeopardy."
However, the president insisted, "They don't dare to do anything as they are afraid of the consequences."
[He] further underlined the need for maintaining readiness against any potential Israeli threats adding, "If the Zionist regime want to repeat the same mistakes they previously made, they must be gotten rid of once and for all, so that the region will be saved from their nuisance for ever."
1215 GMT: We've posted a second analysis today, this one from Farideh Farhi, of the "Now What?" moment for Iran after 22 Bahman.
1200 GMT: Purging Iran of Mousavi. Kayhan newspaper has called for the removal of Mir Hussain Mousavi’s name from a road and a College of Art in Khameneh, a city near Tabriz.
1150 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch (and Much More). Key MP Ali Motahhari has not only defended Hashemi Rafsanjani, he has used that defence to launch another attack on the President in an interview with the pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper Vatan-e-Emrooz.
Motahhari said that Ahmadinejad, during the Presidential campaign, had insulted Rafsajani and his family on television in front of an audience of 50 million. Rafsanjani, Motahhari continued, was not given even a few minutes to defend himself when he requested airtime.
Motahhari's conclusion? To gain support, Ahmadinejad is ready to destroy "revolutionary characters".
1110 GMT:The Facebook site supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi has a brief Persian-language report, "Mousavi and [Mehdi] Karroubi met with each other; soon we will talk to the people."
1035 GMT: Britain's Channel 4 is featuring a video interview with a former Basij member who claims he was jailed and abused for refusing to beat protesters.
1015 GMT: We've posted, as a response to those who dismiss "human rights" in the consideration of post-election Iran, a concise comment by lawyer and human rights activist Shadi Sadr.
0920 GMT: Economy Watch. The Islamic Republic News Agency has a budget deficit of 6 billion toman (just over $6 million).
0910 GMT: Habibollah Asgharowladi, a leading "conservative" member of Parliament and one of the proponents of last autumn's National Unity Plan, has declared in the pro-Larijani Khabar Online that some politicians "still have the illusion of having a majority", a likely reference to Mir Hossein Mousavi. Asgharowladi advises, "They should wake up."
Khabar, which is carrying out a two-front political campaign against both Ahmadinejad and the Mousavi/Green Movement, also features the comments of MP Esmail Kousari that "Greens are a gift from the USA". He denounces their attempt to rally and insists that the Revolutionary Guard and Basij military were not involved in security on 22 Bahman.
0900 GMT: Soroush "Hold A Referendum". In an interview with Rooz Online, leading Iranian intellectual Abdolkarim Soroush considers the Islamic Republic and "religious democracy", calling for a public referendum on the system of velayat-e-faqih (ultimate clerical authority).
0855 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Add another statement from the Karroubi family. Ali Karroubi's wife Nafiseh Panahi has told Deutsche Welle of the 22 Bahman attack on the Karroubi entourage with pepper spray: "The bodyguards remained mostly around [Mehdi Karroubi] and one of the colleagues noticed that the special guards had captured Ali and were taking him away. Had he not seen this, we would not have know that Ali had been arrested.”
Panahi said that she was told, wrongly, that Ali Karroubi had been taken to Evin Prison: "Honestly I felt better, because we know that Evin is more law-abiding than other detention centers. But when he was released and returned home last night and described his ordeal, we realized what kind of a place he had been kept in.” Panahi added:
After interrogations were over they had told him, to go and thank God that they had asked us to release you, because if you had stayed here over night we would have killed you. His eyes were closed until the last moment. Then they opened the door and throw him onto the street. A car suddenly stopped and took him home.
When Ali Karoubi arrived home, his pants were bloody, his head was cut open, and his hands were so injured that they had given him something to wrap them with. They beat him with a baton, fracturing his arm.
0845 GMT: Your Morning Mystery. In early January, Iran's armed forces loudly declared via state media that they were going to hold a large military exercise in early February to improve "defensive capabilities". Infantry, cavalry, telecommunication, and intelligence units of the Army would be carrying out drills in cooperation with some units of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
Well, it's mid-February, and I must have missed the big show. Did it ever take place? Was the Iranian military merely blowing a bit of smoke (and, if so, wouldn't some folks in Iran have noticed the false declaration)? Or were the exercises planned, presumably at a great deal of expense, and then cancelled?
Any answers, especially, from the Iranian Armed Forces, welcomed.
0830 GMT: And A Very Big Diversion. I am not sure the Obama Administration thought through the results of this week's combination of Hillary Clinton's tough talk on Iran "dictatorship" and the visit of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Israel.
Here's one Washington may want to note. The Chief of Russia's Armed Forces General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov made his own grand declaration on Wednesday, warning that the US could strike Iran if it gets out of its current commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That's an easy read: Russia reassures Iran, even as it is delaying the sale of S-300 missiles (partly in response to an appeal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), that it is watching Tehran's back. And it warns the US Government to chill out a bit on the regional posturing.
0820 GMT: Meanwhile, beware of distractions, notably those of "Nuclear Watch". Iranian state media throws up the latest diversion, quoting Turkish Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin in a meeting with Iranian Education Minister Hamid-Reza Hajibabaie in Ankara: "Turkey will continue its support for the peaceful Iranian nuclear program. All the countries have the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and Turkey has a clear policy regarding nuclear programs."
That's a cover for the more news-worthy but less convenient episode of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davugotlu's mission to Iran on Tuesday. With no break-through on a deal for uranium enrichment, it's the minor encounter (what role would an Education Minister have in Iran's nuclear programme?) that gets played up. Loudly.
0800 GMT: A busy Wednesday means that we now have several fronts to cover as the post-election conflict takes on new shapes in Iran.
There's "Economy Watch", which is an umbrella term to cover the renewed "conservative" challenge to President Ahmadinejad. For the moment, it appears that those who have been unsettled for months and who have been planning for weeks to push aside Ahmadinejad will focus on the President's budget and alleged economic mismanagement for their attacks. (There will be a significant exception in MP Ali Motahhari, who is now the point man to put wider demands, all the way to release of political prisoners.)
There's "Rafsanjani Watch". With the Government and its supporters still fearing that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani will "choose a side" and come out in direct opposition to Ahmadinejad, attacks on Rafsanjani have been stepped up in the last 48 hours. This front, for the moment, is likely to be more of a skirmish than an all-out battle: Rafsanjani will take cover in declared loyalty to the Supreme Leader. (Watch out, however, for the activities of Rafsanjani's children, notably his daughter Faezeh Hashemi. Yesterday they expressed open sympathy with the Karroubi family after the attack on Mehdi Karroubi's son Ali on 22 Bahman.)
And there's "Karroubi Watch". Count up the statements and letters to Ayatollah Khamenei in the last five days: Mehdi Karroubi, his wife Fatemeh, his son Hossein, even the mother-in-law of Ali Karroubi. No coincidence for me that a group, the "Sun Army", would try and silence the Karroubis by hacking the website Saham News, which is still rebuilding this morning.
None of this is to ignore the Green Movement as it considers its next moves. We have an analysis by Nazenin Ansari this morning.
1945 GMT: Keeping Rafsanjani in His Box. An EA correspondent puts together an important story: with the 7th general assembly of the Assembly of Experts due next week, probably on Tuesday and Wednesday, new attacks have been launched upon Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Assembly.
A statement from a number of clerics at Qom declares that, due to the performance of Hashemi Rafsanjani in the past few months, he is not suitable to continue in his post. And Fars News, criticising Rafsanjani's son Mehdi Hashemi for not returning to Iran after five months abroad, asserts that his settling in London is "strange and suspicious".
NEW Iran Special: Live-Blogging Ahmadinejad Press Conference (16 February)
NEW Iran: Why The Beating of Mehdi Karroubi’s Son Matters
NEW Iran Document: The 10-Demand Declaration of 4 Labour Unions
NEW Iran Document: Shadi Sadr at the UN on Abuse, Justice, and Rights (12 February)
Latest Iran Video: US Analysis (Gary Sick) v. Overreaction (Stephens, Haass)
Iran: The IHRDC Report on Violence and Suppression of Dissent
Iran: Human Rights Watch Report on Post-Election Abuses (11 February)
The Latest from Iran (15 February): Withstanding Abuse
1715 GMT: The Karroubi Wave. It appears that the Karroubi family --- not just Mehdi Karroubi, but the family --- are ready to propel the next wave of opposition to the Government and regime. In addition to Fatemeh Karroubi's interview (1600 GMT), Mehdi Karroubi's son Hossein has spoken out to Radio Zamaneh.
Hossein Karroubi says that his brother Ali was detained, while in the Karroubi entourage on 22 Bahman, by police and then handed to plainsclothesmen, who took him to the Amir-ol-momenin Mosque, mentioned in the letter written by his mother Fatemeh to the Supreme Leader. (The reason why Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi could make his statement that he did not issue an arrest warrant for Ali Karroubi, implying the entire story has been fabricated, is because there was none; Ali Karroubi was simply taken away.)
After his beating, Ali Karroubi was asked by police to sign a declaration that he was not abused in detention. He replied, "How can I sign such a declaration when my skull in fractured and my body is bruised?" So he wask asked to sign that he was not beaten by the police.
Hossein Karroubi says there will be no complaint lodged with the Judiciary as it no longer has power to deal with these matter; not does the Tehran Prosecutor General have any authority, or the courage, to deal with the “lebas shakhsis" (plainclothes operatives) who are operating with complete impunity.
And here's the stinger in Hossein Karroubi's tale: he argues that the plainclothes forces are supported from "very high up" (presumably meaning Ayatollah Khamenei or his office). This is why his mother wrote to the Supreme Leader, because --- as with the Kahrizak Prison scandal --- it is only he who could order a proper investigation into such matters.
More on this in an analysis on Wednesday....
1645 GMT: Releases for the Martyrs? Rahe-Sabz writes that the children of martyrs, such as Ali Motahhari (the son of Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari), have demanded release of political activists at a meeting with Iran's head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani. The report claims that Larijani declared there will be several releases, on low bail, to come.
1640 GMT: The Detention Centres of 22 Bahman. Peyke Iran reports that a former textile company near Azadi Square was used as a holding area for detainees last Thursday, keeping 20 women and 50 men before they were transported to Evin Prison. Amir-ol-momenin Mosque -- significantly the claimed location of the beating of Ali Karroubi --- was also used on 22 Bahman.
1635 GMT: The Economic Challenge. Another piece of evidence to support the pressing questions that Ahmadinejad weakly fielded at today's press conference (see 1455 GMT). The Iranian Labor News Agency says that the denial of industry minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian --- difficulties in the economy will be overcome --- will make no difference to the hardships of companies who are dying faster than they can be created: "Officials should take care today, tomorrow it will be much too late."
1625 GMT: Author and film critic Ardavan Tarakameh has been released on $30,000 bail after 50 days in detention. Mohammad Moin, the son of former Presidential candidate Mostafa Moin, has also been released on bail.
In contrast, economics professor and Mir Hossein Mousavi advisor Ali Arabmazar has not been charged after 50 days in prison.
1620 GMT: Sequel to "A Strange Shooting" (see 1235 GMT). Tabnak reports that the shooting around the car of Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the former Speaker of Parliament, happened when security forces mistook the vehicle for one used by drug smugglers. When it failed to stop they fired warning shots in the air.
1615 GMT: Diversions. Follow-up on the Ahmadinejad press conference --- Reuters has now decided that the story is the President's hope that the case of the three arrested US citizens, detained while walking in northern Iran, may soon be resolved.
1600 GMT: The Karroubi Challenge. Following up on Mr Verde's analysis of the significance of the beating of Mehdi Karroubi's son Ali....
Fatemeh Karroubi, wife of Mehdi and mother of Ali, has told Rooz Online has spoken about the incident while declaring, “[We] will not under any circumstances back down on the rights of the Iranian people....The letter that I published a few days ago was not only for my own child, but for the children who are in prison. I wrote it with the hope that these things wouldn’t occur again.”
She recalled, “On the night that my [detained] son returned home, I was in shock and could not believe that they could say to Ali: ‘You were lucky, if you had stayed here for a couple more hours, instead of you we would be handing your corpse over [to your family].” Ali Karroubi had been forced to sign a statement saying that he would not give any interviews following his release.
Asked about the possibility of negotiating a settlement with the Government, Fatemeh Karroubi replied:
In my opinion, the interests of the country and demands and rights of the people are very important. This is not at all personal. Such a thing [a settlement] is not in any way possible....
I am stressed. But my concern and stress is neither for my husband nor for my children, but for the country, the revolution and the people of my country. Let me say this clearly, the more pressure there is, the more determined my family and I will be.
1455 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Two-Hour Stumble. The "Western" media is already reducing the President's press conference to the line-item of Tehran's defiance of the West: "Iran says it would respond to any new sanctions" (Reuters); "Iran says the world "will regret" sanctions" (BBC); "Iranian president warns against tougher sanctions" (CNN).
That's a shame, because the nuclear issue was about the only one on which Ahmadinejad was secure during his lengthy appearance. Indeed, the Government's strategy continues to be to use the negotiations with the West to show both strength and legitimacy; thus Press TV walks hand-in-hand with their Western counterparts, "Iran warns powers will 'regret' sanctions response".
The big story should be Ahmadinejad's internal difficulties. He came out fighting over the challenge to his right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, but he floundered badly on the economic issues. It is significant that the majority of questions from Iran's journalists, as opposed to foreign correspondents, were on the economy, and Ahmadinejad was close to incapable of handling challenges over Iran's economic growth, investment plans, unemployment and inflation figures, and even his budget. He was caught out at times by a lack of basic information, and at one point he simply made up a statistic for Iran's Gross Domestic Product.
Nor did Ahmadinejad, perhaps surprisingly, get away on post-election problems, despite his attempt to parade "tens of millions" of Iranians who supported him on 11 February. He evaded, weakly, a couple of questions about detentions before lamenting, "Of course we are sorry" that anyone has been arrested. Time and time again, he fell back on denunciations of the "ugly face" of the US, the regional intrigues of Western powers, and proclamations of their weakness vs. Iran's strength.
We'll watch for reactions but, for all Ahmadinejad's bluster and stamina, this does not look like the post-22 Bahman stamp of authority he was seeking.
1450 GMT: We have moved the live-blog of the Ahmadinejad press conference to a separate entry. A snap analysis follows in a few minutes.
1300 GMT: Journalist Sam Mahmoudi Sarabi has been released on $300,000 bail after 44 days in detention, 30 of which were in solitary confinement.
1235 GMT: A Strange "Shooting". We break from Mahmoud and the Prophets for an unusual story. Iranian media is reporting that shots were fired at a car carrying Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, former Speaker of Parliament, as it was travelling to Shiraz. Some official accounts say the shots were fired by mistake by the police, but the "conservative" Jahan News thinks there might have been foul play.
1210 GMT: On the Economic Front. Yesterday we noted the extensive comments of Mohammad Parsa of Iran's electricity syndicate on the difficulties in the industry, with 900,000 workers on the verge of dismissal and a Government debt of 5 billion toman ($5.06 million) to the electricity providers. Aftab News now also carries the interview.
1200 GMT: No White Smoke Update. At his press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki limited his remarks on uranium enrichment talks to the general statement, "We have informed our Turkish friends about the latest developments on Iran's peaceful nuclear case. While we are continuing our (nuclear) activities we will consider any new idea or proposal, either given directly or indirectly via the agency (International Atomic Energy Agency)." Mottaki also downplayed Turkey's role, saying Ankara was "not a mediator but a major part in constant consultations for restoring peace and calm in the region".
So, while we cannot know if there were advances in the private Mottaki-Davutoglu talks, Tehran's public position is to stretch out the negotiations. Another sign of the low-key Iran approach is that Press TV's website still has no reference to the nuclear issue from this morning's conference.
1030 GMT: No White Smoke. Press TV's broadcast summary of the press conference of Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, makes no reference to uranium enrichment. There are only general platitudes about the two countries being "keys to regional stability" and the encouragement of bilateral trade relations.
0855 GMT: Mr Verde checks in with an analysis of the significance of the alleged beating of Mehdi Karroubi's son Ali.
0845 GMT: No, You're the Dictatorship. If we must continue with this story....
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has responded to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's claim that Iran is moving towards "military dictatorship" (see 0710 GMT): "They themselves are involved in a sort of military dictatorship and have practically ignored the realities and the truths in the region. America has a wrong attitude toward the issues in the Middle East and it is the continuation of their past wrong policies."
0755 GMT: A Moving Campaign. Iranian-American Youth (IAY) and Justice Through Music (JTM) will be carrying out a mobile billboard advertising campaign in Washington, D.C. today. Messages on the billboards will try to raise awareness of the internal situation and foster support for the opposition movement.
0740 GMT: Wayward Analysis. Yesterday's un-diplomatic declarations are accompanied by the superficial analysis of The New York Times this morning, "US Encounters Limits of Iran Engagement Policy". This piece builds from this episode:
Gen. James L. Jones, President Obama’s national security adviser, and Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, were in the same place at the same time, attending a high-level security conference in Munich with a number of high-ranking officials from around the world. And yet the two made no plans to meet with each other.
This is a very large herring because US-Iranian discussions would not take place between these senior advisors. (Mottaki's visit to Munich was made at the last minute and primarily so he could indicate that Iran might be open to a "swap" of uranium outside the country.) Instead, as in Geneva last autumn, talks would be held formally between the officials handling the nuclear brief or, behind the scales, between lower-level members of the diplomatic staff. The article has no recognition, for example, that quiet chats probably continue over areas of common interest such as Iraq and Afghanistan. And it never considers third-party brokers such as Turkey.
Put bluntly, The Times complements posturing such as Hillary Clinton's declaration by operating under the erroneous assumption that contacts between the US and Iran have been suspended.
0730 GMT: Top Journalism Award for Neda's Filmers. A George Polk Award, one of the top prizes in US journalism, has been given to the unnamed people who filmed the death of Neda Agha Soltan, the 26-year-old woman who died from a Basij gunshot during the 20 June demonstrations. The panel declared, "This award celebrates the fact that, in today's world, a brave bystander with a cell phone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news."
0725 GMT: Pressing for Rights. We have posted the text of human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr's address to the United Nations last Friday: "In addition to the numerous examples of human rights that are systematically violated...during the post-election events, basic and fundamental human rights remain in serious peril, such as equality of persons before the law, the right to peaceful assembly, the rights of political prisoners, and the rights of human rights defenders and civil society activists."
0710 GMT: With few public moves in Iran over the post-election conflict on Monday, most attention was on diplomatic diversions outside the country. Foremost amongst these was Hillary Clinton's apparently impromptu remark, at a Town Hall meeting in Qatar, that Iran was becoming a "military dictatorship".
Clinton's remark is less significant as an analysis of developments in Tehran than as a possible pointer of a shift in Washington's policy. However, if you go below the surface, there are only questions. With Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Iran today in an attempt to broker a deal on uranium enrichment (and he is unlikely to be there without the endorsement of Washington), Clinton's comment appears to be either a dissonant line or a rather clumsy attempt to warn the Iranians into accepting the bargain as well as justifying sanctions against the Republican Guard if the uranium deal is not agreed.
And there was more muddle in Tel Aviv, where the top US military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, was discussing regional matters with Israeli counterparts and ministers. His refusal to rule out any option, while at the same time warning clearly of adverse consequences if there was an airstrike on Iran, meant that his statement could be seized by both proponents and opponents of military action. (Behind the public posture, I am almost certain that Washington has again warned Israel off any operations, but there is the possibility that the US is offering the clause, "In the future, however....")
If there was a notable setpiece on the international front on Monday, it came in Geneva, where the US, Britain, and France led the effort at the UN Human Rights Council to castigate Iran's post-election abuses. Of course, Tehran responded --- through Iranian High Council for Human Rights SecretaryGeneral Mohammad Javad Larijani --- that all was well and Iran was advancing social rights for groups like women and children. The episode indicated, however, that Washington and its allies will match any "engagement" with public pressure, and not only on the nuclear issue.
Inside Iran, the more important tension was over President Ahmadinejad's economic plans. The high-profile political challenge of the "conservatives" was complemented by a series of statements from members of Parliament criticising part or all of the Ahmadinejad budget. No signs yet that the conservatives will return to their more dramatic confrontation over the post-elections abuses, calling for the head of Ahmadinejad aide Saeed Mortazavi, but it is evident that the President's 22 Bahman performance has not quelled opposition.
Outside the establishment, Monday was notable for signs of labour activism. While a report of planned civil disobedience by the Tehran Bus Workers Union turned out to be untrue, the union joined three others in putting forth a public statement of ten demands (see separate entry).
CNN's Jim Clancy talks with an Iran anti-government demonstrator who says he's not afraid to die for the cause ....
Amateur video of CNN coverage
Reuters' round-up of video clips