2225 GMT: Elections Watch. An EA correspondent makes an important addition to our earlier news (see 2015 GMT) that the Ministry of Interior had reinstated three MPs and prominent critics of President Ahmadinejad --- Ali Motahari, Hamidireza Katouzian, and Ali Abbaspour --- as candidates in March's Parliamentary election:
The Khabar Online item has been since updated --- it is now saying that it is unclear on which list those names featured. The Minister has passed on separate lists containing approved and disapproved candidate to the Guardian Council: so it could be that the Interior Ministry stood firm on its initial decision.
2045 GMT: Protest Watch. Green Voice of Freedom reports on more protests through graffiti on Iranian banknotes, such as this reference to Neda Agha Soltan and Sohrab Arabi, slain in the post-election conflict, "Respecting Neda and Sohrab's blood, we don't participate in the elections (for Parliament in March)":
2015 GMT: Elections Watch. Khabar Online reports that the Ministry of Interior has reinstated the candidacy for March's Parliamentary election of MPs Ali Motahari, Hamidreza Katouzian, and Ali Abbaspour, all prominent critics of the Ahmadinejad Government.
The website publishes the names of 858 candidates approved for the Tehran, Rey, and Eslamshahr constituencies.
Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the message was received through Iran's United Nations representative; the Swiss Ambassador, who represents US interests in Tehran; and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
Mehmanparast continued, "If we deem it is necessary to give a response to America's message, then we will reply to it. The issue is being reviewed by Iran and it will be done in an appropriate way."
1625 GMT: Currency Watch. Mehr reports that currency vendors are defying the bill outlawing the sale of currency outside banks and foreign exchanges. They are reportedly exchanging at the rate of 16900:1 between the Iranian Rial and the US dollar, far above the Central Bank commanded rate of 14000:1.
Fars insists, however, that there have been arrests.
Mehr also posts a series of photographs of exchange offices, who apparently have suspended business while waiting for the Rial to fall farther.
1539 GMT: The Tehran Bomb. Raja News posts graphic video of the body of scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, just after the car bomb that killed him and his driver on Wednesday.
The article does not indicate how the ban is to be enforced or what will happen to businesses and merchants who cannot afford to operate at current prices.
Meanwhile, Parliament has instructed the Ministry of Intelligence to punish illegal gangs trading in goods and currency.
1525 GMT: Currency Watch. Although trading in foreign exchange has effectively been suspended (see 0740 GMT), the price of gold continues to set record highs on the Tehran market. It is now 665,000 Toman (about $395) for new coin and 680,000 (just over $400) for old coin.
The move comes as China has reduced imports, ostensibly because of a dispute over "payment arrangements", and the US is pressuring Japan and South Korea to cut their supplies from Tehran.
1505 GMT: Revolutionary Guards Watch. Former Revolutionary Guards commander Saeed Qassemi has denigrated his one-time colleague Hossein Alaei, after the latter's implicit warning to the Supreme Leader about repression in an article in Etelaat newspaper (see 1030 GMT and separate feature).
Qassemi said to Alaei, "Your comment has broken my heart. no one can keep someone (like you) on the Revolution train by force and insults." He called Alaei a "shameless trash writer and haram-eater (eater of the forbidden)."
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has noticed the growing controversy, with Golnaz Esfandiari summarising this week's developments over Alaei's article.
1355 GMT: All the President's Men. Iranian media report that Ali Akbar Javenfeker, a senior advisor to President Ahmadinejad, has been sentenced to one year in prison for "insulting the Supreme Leader", with a five-year ban on political and media activities.
Javanfekr was sentenced last autumn to one year in prison, and banned for three years from media activities for a special issue of Iran newspaper, which he edits, on women's fashion. The issue was condemned as "un-Islamic" for a historical article on the chador, the full-length covering for Iranian women.
The reports do not detail if the insult to the Supreme Leader is linked to the earlier case.
1345 GMT: Economy Watch. Parliament has passed a bill barring dual nationals from important economic positions.
The measure comes in the wake of the role of Iranian-Canadian Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former head of Bank Melli, who was implicated in the $2.6 billion bank fraud. Khavari resigned and fled to Canada, where his son and daughter have large homes.
The offices re-confirm that they were ordered by the Central Bank to display an "open market" rate of 13900-14000 Rials to the US dollar, far below the level of close 18000:1 earlier this month.
Both Karroubis have been under strict house arrest since mid-February, and Mehdi Karroubi was separated from his wife this summer, moved to an apartment in another complex. Fatemeh Karroubi said, “The building adjacent to where he is being held has been demolished, and while they are raking up a few floors, there is a possibility it could collapse into his building.”
She added that since she relayed Mehdi Karroubi’s statement on the upcoming Parliamentary elections, recommending a boycott because of the "rigged" votes of the past, she has been denied further visits with her husband.
1252 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Reuters notes that President Obama's signature on 31 December of a measure tightening sanctions on Tehran will complicate Iran's efforts to recover $1.75 billion frozen in a New York branch of Citibank.
The money was uncovered in 2008 an audit, having been deposited by a Luxembourg-based bank.
In practice, the new sanctions probably make little measure --- Iran, which faces a series of American court judgements awarding its funds as damages to families of those killed in international attacks since 1983, was unlikely to see any of its cash.
1250 GMT: Revolutionary Guards Watch. Rah-e Sabz publishes an open letter from families of those killed in the political conflict to Revolutionary Guards commanders: "Don't sell the honour of our martyred children for your minor positions."
1050 GMT: Oil Watch. Amidst the manoeuvres for further sanctions on Iran's oil industry, Premier Wen Jiabao has pressed Saudi Arabia to open its energy resources to expanded Chinese investment. "China and Saudi Arabia are both in important stages of development, and there are broad prospects for enhancing cooperation," Wen told Crown Prince Nayef, according to the Chinese agency Xinhua. "Both sides must strive together to expand trade and cooperation, upstream and downstream, in crude oil and natural gas."
The Xinhua report made no mention of any discussion of Iran, whose biggest oil customer is Beijing.
CNN posts a helpful chart on Tehran's exports:
1035 GMT: Nuclear Watch --- The Battle Within. Even as Western media are highlighting the story that Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has called for a resumption of nuclear discussions with the "West", Larijani is issuing a denial.
Larijani, who has been in Turkey for talks, said that Iran did not send a message via Ankara to Washington: "The US Government hallucinates."
1030 GMT: Challenging the Supreme Leader. Dissident filmmaker Mohammad Reza Nourizad, known for his series of letters to the Supreme Leader, has called on Iranians to write to Ayatollah Khamenei "to cause a fissure in the concrete wall of officials".
Nourizad also commented on the harsh attacks against former Revolutionary Guards commanders Hossein Alaei (see separate feature), after his implicit warning to the Supreme Leader not to repeat the repressive mistakes of the Shah. The filmmaker says the attacks showed the regime's fear that more commanders will break away.
1025 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. I am not sure that, in the current atmosphere, this is the wisest metaphor by the head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi: "Naghdi: With the splendid participation of the people, we will fire a nuclear bomb against the US and our enemies on 12 Esfand (2 March, the day of Parliamentary elections)."
0805 GMT: Oil Watch. In an interview in Shargh, Iran's representative in OPEC, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, has warned Arab producers not to raise their crude output to replace Iranian oil, amidst US-led efforts at embargoes or cutbacks by European and Asian countries: "The consequences of this issue are unpredictable. Therefore, our Arab neighbour countries should not cooperate with these adventurers and should adopt wise policies."
Government officials said in recent weeks that the second phase would begin "soon", but it has been put in doubt by Iran's economic problems and Parliamentary pressure.
0755 GMT: He Doth Protest Too Much. President Ahmadinejad has declared that with excellent relations with many Latin American states, he had been invited to seven but he only visited four --- Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador --- because of the pressure of time.
Some commentators wondered why Ahmadinejad did not go to Brazil, which had been a prominent broker between Tehran and the "West" on the nuclear issue in 2010.
0750 GMT: Making Intelligence Fun. Well, if we are going to have sound and fury over covert operations and the US-Israel-Iran triangle, we might as well have some enjoyment --- an Iranian company proudly displays its toy models of the US RQ-170 drone that was downed in eastern Iran last month:
0740 GMT: Currency Watch. We opened Saturday with the report that anyone selling currency in the street could now be arrested in Iran.
In fact, the enforcement amidst the currency crisis goes farther. Ebrahim Darvishi, the supervising deputy of the Central Bank, said anyone holding foreign currency without a bank receipt could be arrested from today.
The posted open-market for the Iranian Rial vs. the US dollar has not changed in two days, standing at 16950:1.
0720 GMT: It looks like the public sound and fury on the "covert war" against Iran, including the assassinations of scientists, will run for some time. The Iranian regime talked tough on Saturday, with the deputy head of the armed forces, Masoud Jazayeri pronouncing, “The opponents of Revolution and the nation's progress should have no doubt that the punitive response to the US, the Zionist regime, and their criminal accomplices will be delivered in an opportune time."
The Supreme Leader's senior advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, added that the latest "terror act", the killing of scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan on Wednesday, showed "the weakness of Iran's enemies".
The whipping-up of the story was not just coming from Tehran, however. After an exposé in Foreign Policy of Israeli operatives posing as CIA officers to recruit the anti-regime insurgents of Jundullah (see separate EA feature), Israel's Ha'aretz headlined that "Western officials" had told Time magazine that Israel's Mossad was responsible for the bombing of Ahmadi-Roshan's car as well as three previous assassinations of scientists.
If you check the Time story, the story opens with this sentence --- "Like three previous Iranian scientists ambushed on their morning commute, the latest nuclear expert to die on his way to work was a victim of Israel's Mossad, Western intelligence sources tell TIME" --- but, in the following 11 paragraphs, offers no further support for the claim.