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Tuesday
Nov292011

The Latest from Iran (29 November): Nothing To See Here, Move Along

A photograph from Fars of smoke rising above the British Embassy and the Iranian flag flying instead of Britain's Union Jack


See also Iran Latest: Students Storm British Embassy
Iran Snap Analysis: Assessing The Isfahan Explosion
The Latest from Iran (28 November): The Bank Fraud Expands


2025 GMT: Tough Talk Alert. In case anyone needed more tough talk on the day the British Embassy was attacked....

The head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, has explained in a television interview tells TV that the US cannot fight back if it is attacked by by the Islamic Republic.

1915 GMT: On the Air. Zanan (Women's) TV has been launched on the Internet.

1905 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Hossein Fadayi of Parliament's Article 90 Commission, supervising Government activities, has said it will start the second part of its investigations on bank fraud in relation to government benefits, customs, and tax.

Fadayi said the Commission asked the Ministry of Economy and the Central Bank to report on biggest users of credit five years ago, but it never got an answer.

1525 GMT: While we will still make updates here on other topics, all updates concerning the latest news on the Basij capturing of the British Embassy in Tehran can be found on our separate feature, Iran Latest: Students Storm British Embassy

1505 GMT: UPDATE: Some of the details of this update may no longer be accurate. For the most up to date news on the UK Embassy situation, follow developments our separate feature, Iran Latest: Students Storm British Embassy

James Miller takes the liveblog, while Scott Lucas tackles the media and the academics.

Scott Lucas has posted a separate analysis, Iran Latest: Students Storm British Embassy, but here is a summary, via Josh Shahryar, of the current situation:

At around 2 PM today, about a thousand Basij students attacked the British Embassy in Tehran.

They quickly managed to enter the building and then some of them took down the Union Jack (the British flag) and burnt it outside. Others also managed to enter the embassy's secondary building in Baghe Qalhak.

Raja News is saying that students have held six British citizen hostage inside the second building, while ISNA is saying that some of the employees have been evacuated.

At present, security forces have parked a bus outside the embassy building and are telling students outside the embassy gates to disperse or they won't let the students holed up inside out. Raja News also states that police used tear gas to force the students that are inside the Baghe Qalhak building out.

The Iranian media is scrambling to cover this story. It appears that Fars News has pulled a picture of the Basij inside the university. ISNA is also making interesting choices for their coverage. Scott Lucas notes, "ISNA says 200 protesters went in --- Limits itself to saying students demanded Brits leave country?"

An EA correspondent shares this video, apparently a Basij rally at the university:

0949 GMT: Bolstering the Basij. Parliament has voted to give 0.5% of additional yearly oil income, 10% of youth budget, and 10% of the relief organistions budget to the Basij militia.

0945 GMT: The Battle Within. Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, the former Speaker of Parliament and 1997 Presidential candidate, has refused to participate in any meeting of the Combatant Clergy, apparently because of disagreement with the "hard-line" approach to policy and the Parliamentary elections in March.

0940 GMT: Sanctions Watch. MP Fazel Mousavi has called for a closed-door Parliamentary meeting on sanctions with senior officials and the Ministers of Economy, Interior, and Defense. Mousavi claims dozens of legislators have already signed the demand.

0935 GMT: Worried? Iran Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, while claiming there are no civil rights in the "West", has said that insubordination to a commander is insubordination to the Prophet.

An EA correspondent ponders, "Mutiny in the ranks of the police?"

0830 GMT: Poster of the Day. Remembering Iran's imprisoned students....

0820 GMT: Threatening Britain. Two days before a mass gathering of Basij students, Fars has declared that there is no difference between the British Embassy and the "Nest of Spies", the US Embassy that was taken over by young activists in 1979.

The "Avengers of Scientific Martyrs" have vowed to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of scientist Majid Shahriari with a demonstration in front of the British Embassy today.

0815 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Mohammad Jahromi, the former head of Bank Saderat, has reacted to the claim of Iran's Prosecutor General that he has been convicted in the $2.6 billion bank fraud: "I have not received a warrant yet."

0805 GMT: Strike Watch. Peyke Iran reports that the Bandar Genaveh Bazaar, one of the biggest in southern Iran, has joined sailors on strike in protest at the restriction on imports by boats.

Authorities said the restriction was needed to reduce smuggling.

0755 GMT: Sanctions Watch. A US-European Union statement on Monday pointed to further co-ordinated pressure on Iran, citing "deep concern" over Tehran's nuclear programme.

In the wake of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report, Washington failed to get United Nations action but has succeeded in move with North American and European partners. In the last week, Britain, France, and Canada have announced additional measures, and Italy and Germany have announced ready for actions, unilaterally and through the European Union, including limits on Iranian oil imports.

On Monday, a senior industry official in Italy said the government would give diplomatic help to oil companies to find alternative sources of crude if sanctions are imposed on imports from Iran.

0555 GMT: After the dramatic confusion around yesterday's explosion in Isfahan (see separate analysis), the regime is scrambling this morning to say Nothing Happened. The line of defence finally constructed last night still holds --- State outlets like IRNA and Press TV offer no more about the blast other than the declaration of the Deputy Governor of Isfahan of a "completely baseless and fabricated" story. There is not even a whisper on the homepage of Fars, which initially broke the story then withdrew it, and the news has also evaporated in other Iranian publications that repeated the Fars announcement. 

The silence is filled with loud self-assertion. The Supreme Leader's Twitter account was working overtime last night to publicise an English account of his Sunday address to Basij militia: "Western Efforts to Suppress MidEast Movements Are Futile...Our permanence, resistance and sincerity are enough to inspire & guide other nations....The slogans of the people of Egypt & Tunisia are being repeated in New York and California." Other outlets were declaring, even as uncertainty surrounded what had been hit in Isfahan, that the Islamic Republic had a new nuclear facilty, "Shahid Shahriari". The plant is named after Majid Shahriari, a scientist who was arrested a year ago today.

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