1540 GMT: Tehran's Israeli Friend. Bloomberg has published a report asserting that the Israeli communications company Allot Communications Ltd has shipped cyber-surveillance equipment to Tehran through a Denmark-based distributor.
Allot's Chief Executive Officer Ramy Hadar denied the report, "Allot's equipment was sold to a Denmark-based distributor, the same way it is sold to thousands of distributors and tens of thousands of clients worldwide. We have no way of knowing where our equipment ends up. We have no ties with Iran. You can get our equipment online --- like on eBay."
Israeli officials denied any knowledge of the shipments. The Defense Ministry said it is investigating the report.
1534 GMT: Economy Watch. Alef, the site linked to MP Ahmad Tavakoli, continues its attack on the Government's economic policies. It carries an analysis tying the fall of the Iranian currency to President Ahmadinejad's subsidy cuts.
1524 GMT: Tehran Friday Prayer --- We Win, You Lose. Ayatollah Jannati takes charge today to put out the straightforward message: the US has lost in episodes from its eight-year stay in Iraq to the revelation of an Iranian-American "spy" by Tehran last week, while the Islamic Awakening --- led by Iran --- has triumphed in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.
The head of the Guardian Council also put politicians on notice, including those who questioned whether the Guardian Council should be supervising the electoral process for March's Parliamentary elections: “Parliament is a very important [body] as it links the nation and establishment and this is why those who enter the Majlis should be aware of the importance of their responsibility.”
1517 GMT: All-Is-Well Oil Watch. Deputy Minister of Oil Ahmad Qalebani has put out a series of good-news announcements, including the assurance that at least 17 contracts for upstream oil industry operations will be signed before the end of the Iranian year in March 2012.
Qalebani, who is also managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, said, “Thus far, 6-7 new oil-related contracts have been signed with domestic and foreign contractors."
The declarations come in the context of tightening sanctions on Iran's energy sector and Qalebani's own statement that the oil industry needs $36 billion in investment to implement its development projects in line with 5th Economic Development Plan (2011-2015).
The deputy minister asserted that Iran's oil production capacity will reach 5.1 million barrels per day by March 2016. Iran's output has fallen from more than 4 million barrels per day in 2010 to about 3.5 million bpd this year.
Qalebani stated that Iran's natural gas output would also rise 10% during the current year and is expected to increase by 20% per year over the next four years.
1510 GMT: The Embassy Attack. As the regime continues to back away from responsibility for the 29 November assault on the UK Embassy, here is a novel way to do it --- Abbas Nabavi, the head of the Islamic Civilization and Development Foundation, has claimed that the British carried out the destruction themselves.
1505 GMT: Trade Watch. The regime may have backed away from a trade cut-off with the United Arab Emirates, but the spat continues --- the Government has banned lines of credit for imports from the UAE.
Gholam-Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a key member of Parliament's Economics Committee, has indicated that the move is retaliation for tightened UAE regulations in the wake of international sanctions. He declared that the UAE should change its "wrong policy".
1457 GMT: Bank Fraud. MP Javad Karimi Qodousi claims that Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Commission, and his sons will appear in court soon over the $2.6 billion bank fraud.
Qodousi repeated the reports from this autumn that Boroujerdi has been arrested in the case and had been released on bail.
0850 GMT: Elections Watch. Last week we reportedly that the Supreme Leader's camp, fearing a victory of President Ahmadinejad's candidates, was approaching senior clerics, asking them to call out people to vote in March's Parliamentary elections.
Well, it seems Grand Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani has responded. Speaking in Qom, he said participation in elections is Jihad --- if Iranians do so, "the US and Europe won't attack us".
0840 GMT: Budget Watch. The manager of Iran's Social Security Organisation, quoted in ISNA, says the Government has run up 110 trillion Toman (about $75 billion) in debt to agencies, including 25 trillion Toman (about $17 billion) to Social Security.
0800 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. How serious is the latest effort for the interrogation --- and possibly the impeachment --- of President Ahmadinejad?
We have watched with scepticism for months, given that elements within the establishment --- from the Supreme Leader's office to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- have halted at bringing Ahmadinejad into the Majlis. An EA correspondent believes that this occasion may be different, however.
The correspondent points to the seriousness of the allegations put forth in the petition for interrogation, signed by 79 MPs. They include accusations of financial and economic mismanagement, illegalities over the budget and subsidy cuts, and abuse of power.
Significantly, the signatories accuse Ahmadinejad of promoting the "Iran-first" school of thought, rather than "Islam-first", a serious charge in the Islamic Republic. And then they dare to claim that the President is trying to undermine the Supreme Leader, notably through his attempt to replace Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi this spring and his 11-day "boycott" of his duties when the effort failed.
In April, when we assessed the dispute between Ayatollah Khameini and Ahmadinejad, I argued that the President's enemies would prefer to contain him rather than go the final step of dismissing him before the end of his term. I still think that is the case --- the Damocles' Sword of threatened impeachment may be more effective than going through the process --- but, if the Supreme Leader's camp is increasingly worried that the President may score a big success in March's Parlimentary elections, the situation may change.
You are trying to interpret these movements as a social awakening; but this “awakening” is “Islamic.” This notion was clear in all these movements; and the same is proven today....These movements began in mosques and ended in congregational prayers in the squares, similar to the movement in our Revolution....
No political party other than the Islamic party [Ennadha] and Rashid Ghannuouchi [the head of the party] existed in Tunis that you kicked out....But al-Ghannushi returned from exile; and, contrary to all your efforts, the Islamic party became of interest to the people and gained more than 50% of their votes.p>More than 80% of the future government and parliament of Egypt will go to Muslims.
Contrary to all these efforts [by the US to make Egypt like Iraq], the Islamic forces will be the winners of the elections in Egypt and Yemen. This is foreseeable and does not require much intelligence.
0740 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Switzerland announced on Thursday that it was freezing the assets of 180 Iranian individuals and companies. Many of those named belong to Iran's maritime transport sector.
In November, the Swiss has put 116 names on the list.Iran's nuclear programme is of extreme concern to many in the international community who accuse the country of developing nuclear weapons.
Inside these banks, little happens. Dwindling numbers of employees are mainly idling their time away.
"Sometimes staff arrive in the morning and can be on the internet for much of the day. I find that extremely frustrating," said an employee at one London-based Iranian bank, who like others in this story, asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the press.
"We have only got a few items outstanding now and that is why we are being retained," he said.
0725 GMT: Cartoon of the Day. Nikahang Kowsar illustrates the news --- carried in Thursday's LiveBlog --- that 39 political prisoners have issued a statement calling for a boycott of March's Parliamentary elections:
0715 GMT: We begin this morning with an extract from President Ahmadinejad's speech in Varamin on Wednesday. For those readers who do not understand Persian, this is the take-away line: "We have never had such a large gold and foreign currency reserve in our history."
That may come as a surprise to those who have followed the week's headline story of the sharp fall in the Iranian currency. On the same day that the President was giving his declaration, complemented by the revelation that other countries were coming to Tehran for economic advice, the Parliament was meeting in closed session to discuss the impending crisis.
But if a President trying to maintain authority --- and trying to sell a second phase in his subsidy cuts programme and trying to win votes for his candidates in March's Parliamentary elections --- I guess he does not want to dwell on such incidentals. Ahmadinejad also did not mention the gathering political storm: not only are the Supreme Leader's men moving to block the electoral ambitions of the President's camp but Ahmadinejad is facing interrogation in Parliament after 79 MPs signed the petition for questioning. The demand is now with the Board of the Majlis, which blocked an effort this summer --- given the shifting political climate, will it now accede?