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The Latest from Iran (15 November): Tehran's Open Call for Nuclear Talks

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Iran's Secretary of the National Security Council, Saeed Jalili

1759 GMT: A Death in Detention. Head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani has declared that he will deal "firmly" with anyone found guilty of abuse, torture, and/or wrongful behaviour in the case of blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died during interrogation in prison last week.

See Iran Feature: The Last Blog of Sattar Beheshti, Murdered by Security Forces in Prison

1753 GMT: Health Watch. Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, trying to stave off criticism and calls for her impeachment (see 0945 GMT), has declared that Iran has risen from 56th to 20th in the world in medical care in the last 10 years, and that the Islamic Republic is 14th in the world for pharmaceuticals.

1711 GMT: All-Is-Well Alert. The commander of Iran's navy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari has declared, “Building of modern destroyers by national specialists shows that sanctions have been turned into opportunities."

Sayyari asserted that Iranian experts build advanced destroyers and submarines using the latest technologies that only a few countries in the world possess.

1705 GMT: All the President's Men. Asr Iran reports that, after a period of relative quiet, President Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashai has resurfaced to say he will run for President in 2013.

Mashai reportedly said, "We have been working hard for seven years and cannot easily allow others to rule the country after the presidential elections."

1019 GMT: Nuclear Watch. State outlet Press TV maintains the effort for nuclear talks, "US President Obama Says Seeks Diplomacy on Iran Nuclear Issue":

"With respect to Iran, I very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem," Obama told a White House news conference on Wednesday.

"I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between Iran and not just us, but the international community, to see if we can get this thing resolved," he added.

He cited diplomacy as his preferred option regarding Iran’s nuclear energy issue and stated, “There is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically."...

1004 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Rafsanjani has made another political move, using an interview with Entekhab to put forth his call for a "unity government" to deal with issues at home and abroad.

Significantly, Rafsanjani dared to invoke his July 2009 Tehran Friday Prayer --- the last he was permitted to deliver --- in which he called for the restoration of calm amid protests of the disputed Presidential election. Under the banner of "reconcilation", he asked for the release of political prisoners and the recognition of protesters’ concerns over the vote and the ensuing regime crackdown.

Rafsanjani used the 1980s Iran-Iraq War as an analogy for his contemporary concerns. He effectively called for renewed discussions over issues such as Iran's nuclear programme --- "In those negotiations [in the 1980s] the opposing side...understood that it is faced with a rational movement in Iran. Of course they also cooperated well with us".

Then Rafsanjani pointed out the "real" problem and the way to deal with it: "In that period on the internal scene differences were intensified. My solution was that we form a government that is a combination of the influential wings of the revolution (the conservatives, independents, and the radicals).”

0953 GMT: Campus Watch. Najmeh Bozorgmehr summarises the recent restrictions on women pursuing university degrees, "Iranian Female Students Face Setback".

0945 GMT: Health Watch. Amid allegations that the Government has contributed to the crisis over drugs and medical supplies because of mismanagement and mishandling of imports, the deputy head of Parliament's Health Committee has said a decision on a motion for the impeachment of Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi will be made next week.

The MP said, “Unfortunately at the moment medicine and medical equipment in the country are in great crisis, [and] it can be observed in the shortage of special drugs and the disarray of hospitals.”

0920 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Khodnevis reports that an attempt to set up a pro-Ahmadinejad television network, broadcasting from Tajikistan, has failed.

0720 GMT: With the Israeli attacks on Gaza and other developments in the Middle East likely to claim headlines, a significant move by Tehran over the nuclear issue is likely to be missed today.

On Wednesday, the Islamic Republic hosted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, a visit preceded by days of statements from Moscow calling for a resumption of high-level negotiations. Ryabkov added on his arrival that he wanted “an earliest possible resumption of talks” between Iran and the P5+1 “preferably before the end of the year". 

Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, then took the baton: as "The representative of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei", he asked the 5+1 Powers to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible and emphasised Iran's readiness to talk.


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