1819 GMT: From Hero to Forced Retirement. Pilot Houshang Shahbazi, who became a national hero last October with the emergency landing of a plane with more than 100 passengers and crew, says he has been forced into early retirement because he voiced concerns over safety.
“Authorities in charge have [prevented] me from flying and have confined me at home under the excuse that I have portrayed flights by Iranian airlines as unsafe,” Shahbazi said.
The 56-year-old Shahbazi says he had nine years left before the end of his career as a pilot, but he upset authorities who repeatedly asked him to stop his public efforts against the U.S. sanctions that ban Iran from buying spare parts for its aging civilian airline fleet:
[Officials] told me, ‘You can return to work under certain conditions.’ They said, ‘You have to commit yourself not to engage in social work anymore.’ I refused.
Footage of Shahbazi's landing of a Boeing-727, flying from Moscow to Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, after its front landing gear jammed:
Amano said that Iranian allegations of the IAEA by saboteurs were unfounded: ""Sometimes it is not useful to dignify these claims by providing an official answer. This is baseless....We are not involved in these activities." He added that he continued to have concerns about "intensive activities" at the Parchin military installation, where the IAEA wants to inspect a high-explosives container that may be used in testing for the nuclear programme.
1758 GMT: Assurance of the Day. The head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, has told United Nations Special Rapporteurs, “In the Islamic Republic of Iran we absolutely do not have political executions and individuals executed were either illegal drug smugglers or protesters of the people’s life, livelihood and honour”.
1549 GMT: The House Arrests. Family and friends visited opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, held under strict house arrest since February 2011, on Tuesday.
Mousavi had a simple message, "Send my regards to the Iranian nation. We put our faith in God."
1528 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. MP Ahmad Salek has said five legislators have met with the President --- "good solutions were found and will be implemented", so there is no need for Ahmadinejad's interrogation in Parliament.
1135 GMT: Currency Watch. The opposition site Kalemeh says the US dollar, when it is being sold, is trading at 37000 to 39000 Rials at exchange offices, and at more than 40000 Rials on the "unofficial" market.
Baztab also claims a Rial-to-Dollar rate of 40000:1, and both sites have old gold coin at a price of 14.4 million to 15.4 million Rials.
The regime continues to maintain an imposed "open market" rate of 28500 Rials to the US dollar.
1125 GMT: Economy Watch. Mohammad Ali Pourmokhtar, the head of Parliament's Article 90 Committee, which supervises Government affairs, has said that companies which face bankruptcy or get no Government support should complain to the Majlis.
At the same time, Jalali indicated there were further problems beyond the US restrictions, saying that mismanagement was not related to the sanctions.
0913 GMT: Tough Talk Alert. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of the Basij militia, has denied this week's scare story that the Revolutionary Guards are planning an oil spill in the Strait of Hormuz; however, he declared that the Guards, if they decide to do so, can hit US interests and carriers throughout the world.
0907 GMT: Economy Watch. Reporting that the Ministry of Industry has been summoned to Parliament, Baztab claims five big dairy companies face bankruptcy. The site says the crisis has arisen because of the Government's failure to provide support payments to cover the higher costs from subsidy cuts.
0850 GMT: Pilgrim Watch. Iranian pilgramages to Karbala in Iraq, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, are becoming more difficult --- Fars reports that costs have doubled for pilgrims because of the currency crisis.
0840 GMT: Press Watch. Nasim Online claims a quick response by MPs to European satellite provider Eutelsat's suspension of 19 Iranian State television channels --- the legislators are reportedly considering the status of the licence of the Tehran bureau of the French news agency AFP.
0740 GMT: Loyalty Watch. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has clarified that the title "Imam" for the Supreme Leader does not mean that he is innocent --- only Shia Islam's 12 Imams are --- but describes him as a Prayer Leader.
0725 GMT: Economy Watch. In its latest manoeuvre over currency and imports, the Government has prohibited the export of goods produced with material that has been imported at the official exchange rate.
Under the official exchange of 12260 Rials to the US dollar, producers can import material at 1/3 of the cost of the open market.
0515 GMT: We pick up where we left off on Tuesday, with Iranian State media's presentation of a comment by President Ahmadinejad to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a summit in Azerbaijan: "The only solution to Syria's problems is that influential states in the region, including Iran and Turkey, insist on the holding of free elections in this country."
The Supreme Leader, speaking to Basij militia during his tour of northeastern Iran this week, was also talking about elections, but his initial focus was a warning to those who supposedly threatened the process:
There are those who consider their electoral rival Sheitan-e Akbar [the Greater Satan], but it is the United States and Zionism which are the Great Satans, and not the electoral rival....When election activists claim Islam, serve Islam and the revolution, why do some of their supporters consider the opposition party the Devil...? Of course, sometimes someone may wear friendly uniform but repeat the words of the enemy. One must advise such an individual....
You, who oppose the Islamic Republic with the same viewpoint and sentiments as those of the Zionist regime but with a different language, and you who deal with the Islamic regime based on the same logic as that of the United States, what is the difference between you and the Zionist regime and the United States?
Then Ayatollah Khamenei set some guidelines for the June 2013 Presidential vote:
First of all, great popular participation....
Everyone must pray to God, but must also open their eyes so that the result of the election is a good choice in the interest of the revolution and the country.../Of course this does not mean that if someone does not like someone, he should be harsh with him or ill treat him....Those who consider themselves qualified….should enter the arena when appropriate, and the people should measure them....
Election is a source of pride and dignity of the country, everyone must take care that this issue does not become a source of losing pride....There were some who tried to present that election [2009 Presidential election] as the symbol of conflict, and tried to make a natural political mayhem into sedition. Of course, the Iranian nation opposed it, and whenever something similar happens, the nation will oppose it.