2216 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani is still upset that five members of the European Parliament cancelled a trip to Tehran last weekend because authorities refused to let them see imprisoned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi, free on bail but facing a six-year sentence.
Last week, the European Parliament honoured Sotoudeh, detained since September 2010, and Panahi with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Larijani said, “How would the European Parliament allow itself to set precondition for visiting our country and announce that it intends to grant awards to people, who have been sentenced by Iran’s independent Judiciary? Isn’t this an unjustified and clear intervention against a sovereign state?”
Addressing students, Ayatollah Khamenei complained that disputes between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the legislative and judicial branches are providing ammunition to “foreign media and enemies": “I warn the heads of the three branches to mind their own business.”
The Supreme Leader declared that “from now on”, until Presidential elections in June 2013, those “exploiting emotions of the people” would be guilty of “committing treason against the country".
Somehow, State outlet Press TV missed these comments. Instead, it presents Ayatollah Khamenei's speech as "Challenges Posed by Global Hegemons Make Iran Stronger", offering this quote:
The reason for these continuous plots, is that the US failure in 1979 [following the Islamic Revolution] was not only its defeat at the hands of the Iranian nation, but also its failure in the region, and what is now going on in North Africa and the Arab World, and also nations’ increasing hatred towards the US are the results of the same failure.
1408 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The State Department has denied last week's report in Le Monde that its Special Advisor on Non-Proliferation Robert Einhorn has had back-channel meetings with Ali Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader's top advisor on foreign policy.
“A meeting between Amb. Einhorn and Velayati did not happen,” State Department press officer Ariel Vaagen told Al-Monitor by e-mail.
1314 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Laura Rozen of Al Monitor, from US and European sources, writes that Tehran --- in another sign of interest in furthering talks over its nuclear programme --- has appointed the head of a think tank as its central point of contact for unofficial "Track 2" talks with Americans.
In the past, Track 2 talks have substituted for the lack of official discussions between Tehran and Washington. The intriguing possibility now, given recent revelations of secret meetings between US and Iranian officials --- including the Supreme Leader's top advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, according to EA sources --- is that the unofficial channels may be supporting a new initiative between the regime and the US Government.
Rozen writes that Mostafa Dolatyar, a career Iranian diplomat who heads the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), which has close ties to Iran’s Foreign Ministry, has been named the regime's liaison for contacts with "unofficial" American experts, including former senior US officials.
The IPIS think tank also served as a liaison between Iran’s Foreign Ministry and US policymakers and analysts in the 1990s, but the channel fell into disuse soon after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President in 2005.
Dolatyar served as Iran’s envoy to the UN General Assembly in New York from 2002-2006. In 2008, Dolatyar, then director general of the Foreign Ministry's West Europe bureau, was among a group of Iranian diplomats who participated in talks with US think tank nuclear experts held in Europe. Among the American experts who attended the ”Track 1 ½” talks held in Vienna and the Hague, was Gary Samore, who was appointed in 2009 as the White House advisor on nonproliferation advisor.
Samore has been a key member of the US team in this year's 5+1 talks with Iran and co-led the US delegation to expert-level talks in Istanbul on 3 July.
A spokesman at the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York said it was unaware of Dolatyar's appointment.
0555 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Sudanese Front). Maggie Fick of the Associated Press reviews the recent tension over alleged links between Sudan and Iran, with last week's explosion at a Sudanese arms factory --- allegedly the result of an Israeli airstrike --- and two Iranian warships docked at the country's main port.
0510 GMT: With a lull in the political attacks on him on Tuesday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried to display his authority through a series of Presidential setpieces.
The pro-Ahmadinejad State news agency IRNA highlights the President's phone call to his Lebanese counterpart Michel Sleiman, following the car bomb in Beirut earlier this month that killed senior intelligence officer Wissam al-Hassan and raised fears of open fighting throughout . According to IRNA, Ahmadinejad said "enemies" had targeted the security and integrity of Lebanon.
In another statement, Ahmadinejad heralded the expansion of economic ties with Armenia, while Al-Hayat claimed that the President will visit Baghdad in November to participate in the International Conference on Combating Terrorism, meet Iraqi officials, sign security and economic agreements, and discuss the Syrian crisis.