1630 GMT: Straits of Hormuz Watch. Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi has said the Islamic Republic has no plan to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key lane for oil shipments in the Persian Gulf, in response to international sanctions: “These two issues are not related and are totally independent of each other."
The head of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority, Nassir Bandar, said the Saturday inspection occurred because officials were concerned that the plane might be carrying arms: "Our experts found that the plane was carrying only medical supplies and foodstuffs. So the flight was allowed to proceed."
Bandar said Iraqi authorities would continue searching planes suspecting of hauling arms to Syria.
Iraq ordered another Iranian cargo plane to land for inspection on 2 October. No weapons were found in that search.
The claim is significant because 60% of the raw material for Iran's drugs is imported from China and India.
1318 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (European Front). While five members of the European Parliament have cancelled their trip to Iran, after they were denied visits with political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi (see 0555 GMT), Iranian media report that four German legislators have arrived to visit Tehran, Isfahan, and Qom. Bagher Hosseini of Parliament's National Security Committee said the delegation may visit nuclear sites.
Reports soon after the disputed 2009 Presidential election indicated that Larijani had offered congratulations to candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, now in his 21st month of house, on the night of the election --- before the "official" declaration that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had claimed 63% of the vote.
Larijani also denounced "insults against the social movement" and chided the Government for its "bad handling of this crisis".
The report is based solely on the Central Bank's posted Rial-to-Dollar rate in its "trade room" for importers. IRNA has no news on the situation in official exchanges or "open market" trading, and rates are still suspended on currency websites.
0730 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi has declared that Hezbollah's Iranian-made drone, downed earlier this month over Israel, is only the start of Tehran's capability: “The Islamic Republic of Iran currently has unmanned aerial vehicles with a technology by far more advanced than the drone recently flown by the resistance movement of Hezbollah in the Zionist regime’s airspace."
Vahidi said the "success" of the flight had "shattered the delusional power of the Israeli regime and dealt a heavy blow to it".
0715 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. President Ahmadinejad, using the Eid al-Adha holiday for a break from the economic and political tensions that have engulfed him this month, addressed a ceremony honouring Navy forces in Hormuzgan Province in southern Iran on Saturday: “The Islamic Republic of Iran, using regional potentials and forces, has the power to establish and stabilize security in the [Persian Gulf] region.”
Ahmadinejad ruled out the presence of foreign military troops, “Aliens, proclaiming [efforts] to establish security in the Persian Gulf, with any motivation and under any pretext whatsoever, can never achieve success.”
0555 GMT: Five members of the European Parliament were supposed to arrive in Tehran today for talks with Iranian officials. On Saturday, however, the trip was cancelled, in a telling display of the regime's sensitivity --- and silence --- over human rights and its political prisoners.
The MPs asked to meet prominent lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned since September 2010 and serving a six-year sentence, and film director Jafar Panahi, under threat of a summons to prison for his six-year term. On Friday, the two had been awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for their expression and defence of human rights, despite the threats and punishment of the regime.
Iranian authorities refused. The MPs announced they would not make the journey to Tehran.
That is not the end of the story, however. The Islamic Republic had proclaimed the visit as a sign that, despite sanctions, Europeans still recognised and wanted to work with the regime, so now it had to explain why this would not occur. At the same time, officials did not want to draw attention to political prisoners such as Sotoudeh, noted for her defence of other activists, and Panahi, internationally acclaimed and now barred from filmmaking for 20 years.
So MPs who spoke for the regime found another excuse. Kazem Jalali of the National Security Committee said:
The European parliament is under the influence of the Zionist regime when making some important decisions, and...since the very first day, the Zionist lobby voiced opposition to the EU delegation's visit to Iran and made the EU parliament call off the trip, and this shows the EU's lack of independence.
Fars carried Jalali's words without mentioning the political prisoners at all; Press TV said, "The [European Parliament] officials requested on Friday to meet two Iranian nationals, who have been sentenced to prison on charges of breaching Iran's national security."
The regime game continues this morning. Press TV has refused to post a comment noting that the "two Iranian nationals" are Sotoudeh and Panahi. Instead, it features Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the National Security Committee, to repeat the line, “This decision by the European Parliament’s delegation proved that they lack the power to take serious decisions [independently] of the Zionists’ pressure and elements outside this parliament."