2130 GMT: Elections Watch. Leading reformist Ali Shakourirad has said it is too late for the regime to meet former President Khatami's conditions --- freeing of political prisoners, freedom for political parties and a free and fair electoral process, and adherence to the Constitution --- for reformists to participate in next March's Parliamentary elections. They should instead inform people of their demands and objections to the current system.
Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said the motion to interrogate Ahmadinejad now bears 74 signatures, one more than the minimum needed for consideration.
Last week, Iranian media reported that a number of MPs had withdrawn their support for the motion, but some have now reconsidered their withdrawal and one new MP joined the petition.
The motion will be sent to a Parliamentary commission for examination. It cites 10 irregularities on which the president needs to be questioned, such as his alleged refusal to carry out legislation for funding of the Tehran subway and his disputes with the Supreme Leader over the reinstatement of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi.
2025 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Detained reformist leader Mostafa Tajzadeh, serving a six-year sentence, has declared in a written interview that the repression of post-election protests is a sign of the "tyranny" of the current Iranian government.
2020 GMT: The US Initiative. Avaz Heidarpur, a member of Parliament's National Security Commission, has outlined a response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's interviews this week with BBC Persian and Voice of America: the Commission will consider the remarks and, if necessary, "the Parliament will task the government with lodging a complaint against Hillary Clinton".
2008 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Radio Zamaneh offers English text of a story we carried yesterday, with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Commission, denying any involvement in the $2.6 billion bank fraud.
The website adds an important detail, however. It says Boroujerdi was arrested and held for 24 hours last week. Supporters of President Ahmadinejad claim the MP was only released through the intervention of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.
Boroujerdi did not mention an arrest, although he said four MPs were implicated in the scandal. He accused the “deviant current” of trying to harm forces loyal to the Supreme Leader.
Kazem Jalali, another member of the National Security Commission, said that Boroujerdi is involved in a fraud case over the creation of jobs in Boroujerd in western Iran but will not be fired. However, Commission member Javad Karimi Qodousi said if Boroujerdi did not resign, he would be dismissed.
2005 GMT: Picture of the Day. Journalist Ali Akrami, released from prison yesterday, with his wife and child:
1945 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Parliament's Article 90 Commission report on the $2.6 billion bank fraud, sent to the judiciary today, lists major defects in Bank Saderat, Bank Melli, and Bank Markazi and accuses the Ministry of Trade and Chief Executive Officers of contributions to the scandal.
1930 GMT: The Qatar Dimension. Back from a weekend break to find more on the story that the Gulf Sheikhdom of Qatar, after meetings with Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, has been granted permission for domestic flights within Iran.
There may be a further dimension: journalist Blake Hounshell claims sources that Qatar is pressing Tehran to distance itself from Syria's President Assad.
Iran's Tehran Times said only that Salehi had declared the issue of Syria will be resolved by Damascus without foreign intervention. The website's coverage of the Qatari Foreign Minister focused on his call for Iran and Saudi Arabia to clear up "misunderstandings that have surfaced recently", a reference to the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US, through a direct dialogue.
The rate broke the level for this first time this summer before the Central Bank intervened by putting dollars into the market. The official rate is below 10800:1.
Shargh also claims that prices for water supply are likely to rise 20% in the near-future.
0910 GMT: CyberWatch. In an overview of Iranian efforts to control the Internet, Thomas Erdbrink of The Washington Post offers this information, "This week, cyber police officers visited Facebook members in the central Iranian city of Natanz, urging them to avoid the site."
0900 GMT: The Non-Visit by European MPs. A footnote to our exclusive in the previous entry --- Kazem Jalili, of Parliament's National Security Commission has said the trip by European MPs has not been cancelled and hopefully can be held at another time.
0840 GMT: The Non-Visit by European MPs. Earlier this week we noted the cancellation of a visit to Iran by members of the European Parliament. Now we have the full story....
The preparations for the trip started in late September. Although Iranian officials were far from enthusiastic but agreed to the visit. There was strong opposition inside the European Parliament --- one can speculate why --- and at one point the initiative was scrapped, only to be reinstated because of the persistence of the delegation.
Last Thursday, less than 48 hours before the group's departure, the Iranian Embassy in Brussels gave back the delegation’s passports without visas or any explanation. The Iranian officials said they were acting on instructions, sent by fax, from Tehran.
Now here's the even more interesting part. Even as the trip was being cancelled, Iran's Foreign Minister were talking to European embassies about preparations, and as late as Friday, officials from the Iranian Parliament were discussing details.
So why were the European MPs blocked at the last minute? Contrary to some reports, they did not insist on seeing opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi --- both under strict house arrest --- as a pre-condition for their visit, although they did submit a request for a meeting.
And who was behind the fax to the Iranian Embassy in Brussels? It certainly was not Iran's Parliament or the Foreign Ministry.
0700 GMT: We open this morning with some more chest-thumping from Tehran's military: "A senior Iranian naval commander says the Americans are not in the position to comment on Iran's presence in international waters and the country's naval fleets will continue to sail the high seas."
Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari put out the line that Iran will maintain its presence in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb, the Mediterranean Sea, and the north of the Indian Ocean. He did not go as far as his colleagues, in their recent press statements, to put Iran's ships in the Atlantic Ocean; instead, he left this curious declaration --- US opposition to Iran's international presence is because “Americans are worried about themselves".
Sayyari's timing and emphasis are a bit off, however. If there was any tough news on Saturday, it was the revelation in Tabnak that Pakistan, apparently pressed by the US, has decided not to join the “Peace Pipeline” project linking Iran’s southern gas fields to the Pakistani national system. Pakistan instead will rely on the proposed TAPI pipeline importing gas from Turkmenistan via Afghan territory.
The proposed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline was originally called the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) pipeline, but Delhi withdrew from the project late last year and the name was changed to the Peace Pipeline. Iran had already constructed the Asalouyeh-Iranshahr portion within its borders, and the extension of the pipeline to the Pakistani border was to be completed later this year.
Fars tries to repair the damage, claiming that the Pakistani Ambassador to Tehran, Khalid Aziz Babar, and Pakistan's Minister of Petroleum, Asim Hussain, had given assurances that the pipeline will start operation in 2014.