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The Latest from Iran (2 November): Politics in Tehran, Politics in Washington

Iran Analysis: Breathing Space for Ahmadinejad after the Impeachment Vote? (Not Quite.)
The Latest from Iran (1 November): Ministers, MPs, and the Bank Fraud

1616 GMT: Diversion Watch. Is all this internal politics in Tehran just too confusing?

Well, if so, you can always make a lofty claim about the enemy. Step up, Supreme Leader: "We have 100 irrefutable documents about the US role in guiding terror plots in Iran and the Middle East."

And take a bow, Julian Borger of The Guardian, assisted by the omnipresent "Western official":

A report by the UN's nuclear watchdog due to be circulated around the world next week will provide fresh evidence of a possible Iranian nuclear weapons programme, bringing the Middle East a step closer to a devastating new conflict, say diplomats.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the latest of a series of quarterly bulletins on Iran's activities, but this one will contain an unprecedented level of detail on research and experiments carried out in Iran in recent years, which western officials allege could only be for the design and development of a nuclear warhead. "This will be a game-changer in the Iranian nuclear dossier," a western official predicted. "It is going to be hard for even Moscow or Beijing to downplay its significance."

1615 GMT: Parliament v. President. If there was a deal to avoid impeachment of the Minister of Economy and to block interrogation of the President (see 1045 GMT), it is already under the strain of confusion....

Two hours after MP Mohammad Hossein Farhangi said the effort to question Ahmadinejad had failed, with legislators withdrawing their signatures, Khabar Online --- linked to Speaker of Parliament Larijani --- says that, rather than declining, the number of signatories on the petition is increasing.

1605 GMT: Impeachment Watch. MP Ali Motahari, who has led the challenge to the President, reacts to Tuesday's impeachment vote and to the reports that Parliament will not proceed with the interrogation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "Parliament's silence means the formation of dictatorship. We must wait for the end of the reign of someone who has a series of files."

Motahari's second sentence refers to Ahmadinejad's threat, repeated in yesterday's debate, that he will produce documents on the activities of those who are challenging his Cabinet and advisors.

The MP continued, "An adulating Majlis is a traitor to people. It is a mistake to say that we have a leader who will fix it if necessary."

1555 GMT: Threat of the Day (cont.). Back from an academic break to find the tough talk on the Israel-Iran front (see 1225 GMT) is mutual --- after reports this weekend that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking Cabinet consensus for an attack on Iran and Netanyahu's invocation of the "direct and heavy threat" from Tehran, Israel has test-fired a long-range missile from a military base on Wednesday.

Using language that could have taken from recent Iranian press releases about their military programmes, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, "This is an impressive technological achievement and an important step in Israel's advances in the realms of missiles and space, which has been a long time in the planning."

1225 GMT: Threat of the Day. The chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hassan Firouzabadi, has said today that, if Israel carried out the "mistake" of striking Iran, Tehran would retaliate with a "surprising punishment"

Firouzabadi said, "Even though the likelihood for such an attack is low, we see the threat as a serious threat and are on full alert."

1210 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The State outlet Iran is reporting that prominent economist Saeed Laylaz has been sentenced to six years in prison for "acting against national security" "insulting the authorities of the Islamic Republic", and "propaganda against the regime".

Laylaz was arrested soon after the June 2009 election and was a defendant in the Tehran mass trial of August. He was sentenced to nine years in December 2009 but has remained free pending appeals.

1200 GMT: Impeachment Watch. One outlet is not impressed with Tuesday's outcome of the interrogation of Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini ---Alef, the website linked to MP Ahmad Tavakoli, has warned that "forming a coalition to foster stability while public opinion is harmed" will lead to the "soft overthrow" of the Iranian system. The website said Tehran lost an opportunity to restore confidence in that system with the failure to impeach Hosseini.

Tavakoli, who is the brother-in-law of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, said yesterday that Hosseini had lied in his handling of the $2.6 billion bank fraud that has engulfed Iranian politics.

1150 GMT: Cartoon of the Day. Nikahang Kowsar portrays our interpretation of an Ahmadinejad-Larijani deal to avoid the impeachment of the Minister of Economy --- his President says, "Oh 'clean' Majlis, for the sake of your mother, give a vote of confidence to the minister of this 'clean' government":

1050 GMT: Reformist Watch. Reformist expatriates Fatemeh Haghighatjou, Ahmad Salamatian, Esmail Gerami-Moghaddam, Ali Mazrouei, Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeini, and Yousefi Eshkevari have issued a statement, warning that actions of current Iranian officials are responsible for any foreign intervention against Tehran.

1045 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. The President's "victory" in the Minister of Economics' impeachment debate may have been limited, but it looks --- possibly as part of a wider deal with Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- he has gotten breathing space on another front. Fars is reporting that the resurgent effort to interrogate Ahmadinejad has stalled, as there are not enough signatures on the petition.

A few days ago, it was reported --- after an earlier declaration that the drive to question the President was dead --- that 74 MPs had signed the petition, one more than the 25% of Parliament needed to command Ahmadinejad's appearance.

Further support for an Ahmadinejad-Larijani deal comes from Larijani's outlet Khabar Online, with an article in which the Speaker says the resignation of MP Ali Motahari --- who said he would leave because of the refusal to interrogate the President --- is back on the Parliamentary agenda.

0745 GMT: We begin this morning with an analysis of Tuesday's politics in Iran, "Breathing Space for Ahmadinejad after the Impeachment Vote?"

And, in a break from our normal emphasis on looking at Tehran rather than what others are saying about Tehran, we glance at the complications for the Obama Administration as members of Congress put forth the "Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011". Taking advantage of the Administration's presentation of the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US, as well as the perennial spectre of a nuclear-armed Tehran, the legislators are calling for a sharp escalation in sanctions and other measures. Included is the provision that it would be illegal for any US official to meet an Iranian counterpart.

If passed, that provision would shut down the back-channel talks that have continued between Washington and Tehran --- over Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East as well as the nuclear programme --- even at the height of public confrontation.

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