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The Latest from Iran (11 December): Being Tough...To a Point

See also Iran Video: Authentic Footage of The Capture of the US Drone?
Iran Sunday Special: It's Another Caption Contest....
Iran Analysis: Will The European Union Ban Imports of Tehran's Oil?
The Latest from Iran (10 December): After the Drone Show

1950 GMT: Drone Watch. Tonight's rhetoric comes from Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior official at the judiciary, who says the violation of Iran's airspace by the US RQ-170 drone will bring legal action. Claiming US intervention in the affairs of other countries is usually accompanied by terrorist measures, Larijani said, "We believe respecting the rights of other nations is a necessity. Today's world will no longer accept US and Western leadership. Interfering in [internal] affairs of other countries is a dark habit of the US and [other] Western countries, and we (Iran) oppose all forms of intervention in the affairs of Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Syria and other countries."

Larijani took time to praise the Islamic Republic: “What has been done is important, but our abilities are higher than this and even if we had not captured the aircraft, our abilities in this area would have been still stunning.”

1730 GMT: Balancing the Books. Mardomak reports that the Governmentowes $10 billion to the health sector.

The head of the Supreme Audit Court, Abdol Reza Rahmani Fazli, has said that the Ahmadinejad Government's financial violations are continuing, including issues over subsidies, support payments, and withdrawals from currency accounts.

1510 GMT: Foreign Affairs (British Front). The Foreign Ministry, benefitting from the silence of others within Iran's establishment, continues to pull back from any conflict over the attack on the British Embassy on 29 November. The Ministry said it "regretted" the assault, which was to blame on angered protesters.

1500 GMT: Economy Watch. The head of the Central Bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, has said sanctions against Iran have created a situation far more difficult than a physical war.

Meeting members of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Bahmani chided those who "yet to believe the country is under sanctions".

1020 GMT: Oil Watch. Minister of Oil Rustam Qassemi has insisted that the European Union "definitely" will not impose sanctions on imports from Iran: "Our policy is sustainable supply of oil to Europe....Iran is a major oil producer and any sanctions on our oil export will definitely harm the global market."

1015 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, has said there will be no "red lines" in the investigation of corruption and the $2.6 billion bank fraud.

Bahonar's comment follows the claim that several leading MPs --- including the head of the National Security Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi --- have been linked to the embezzlement. It may also be a response to President Ahmadinejad's declaration this summer that "red lines" should not be crossed with prosecution of his Ministers and advisors.

1005 GMT: Drone Watch. We have posted claimed footage, from State news agency IRNA, of the landing of the US RQ-170 drone in eastern Iran last Sunday. Meanwhile, more of the tough talk from the Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami (see 0655 GMT): "No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country."

0825 GMT: Drone Watch. Michael Theodoulou of The National posts an overview, "Capture of US Drone Provides Respite for Iran", with a contribution from EA: "It is far better to use the prospect of a western threat, which is always hanging there, to get the population to mobilise behind the regime than actually taking action."

0705 GMT: Where's the Supreme Leader? No politics, and certainly no reference to the drone affair, from Ayatollah Khamenei on Saturday --- instead State media put out the photographs of his visit to Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who has been suffering from a long-term illness.

0645 GMT: More tough talk, as General Hossen Salami, the Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, followed up the claim that a US drone had been taken down by Iran. He downing of asserted that Tehran has its own stealth aircraft, as it is among the few countries with the technological know-how to produce unmanned aerial vehicles fitted with scanning and reconnaissance systems.

Salami said Iran could decode the drone's data and reverse-engineer its technology, adding that the Islamic Republic's enemies do not have a true understanding of Iran's capabilities. 

There were other signs, however, that Tehran is balancing the aggressive rhetoric. While the head of the Board of Parliament, Mohammad Dehghan, said, “There are no special diplomatic relations between [Iran] and Europe," he also established that there are a "minimum level" of economic ties which will not be severed. And the Foreign Ministry carefully maintained that the recent downgrade in the diplomatic presence in Britain would not affect possible talks with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China) on Iran's nuclear programme.

Perhaps the biggest clue to the calibration of Iran's language came from its representative to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Mohammad-Ali Khatibi, who said the global crude market is "well-balanced", but the economic woes of the European Union's countries may have an impact on international demand.

That should probably be read as an indirect response to the prospect of an EU cut-off of oil imports from Iran. The 27 countries held off on a suspension 10 days later, but are considering alternative suppliers and may impose the ban in January --- see EA's analysis for more details.

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