Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (29 November): Regional Interventions

See also Iran Feature: The Regime's Food Problems
Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- Hunger Strikes, Hungry Families, and Ending Violence Against Women
The Latest from Iran (28 November): Supreme Leader Declares, "We're Winning"

2050 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The US has set a March deadline for Iran to fulfil the American vision of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, threatening referral of the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

Speaking to the IAEA board, American diplomat Robert Wood requested that IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano declare in his next quarterly report on Iran, due in late February, whether Tehran has taken "any substantive steps" to address concerns.

Wood continued, "If by March Iran has not begun substantive cooperation with the IAEA, the United States will work with other board members to pursue appropriate board action, and would urge the board to consider reporting this lack of progress to the U.N. Security Council. Iran cannot be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations....Iran must act now, in substance."

Amano told the board that there had been no progress in his agency's year-long push to clarify concerns about suspected atom bomb research in Iran, but said he would continue his efforts.

The Director-General had expressed optimism in June, just before the last meeting between Iran and the 5+1 Powers on Tehran's uranium enrichment, over a resolution of the protocol for inspection and supervision of Iran's nuclear facilities. However, the hope receded amid the stalemate in Tehran's talks with the 5+1.

Iranian officials have said discussions will resume with the IAEA on 13 December.

1510 GMT: Human Rights Watch. Trying to counter the UN Human Rights Committee's criticism of its torture, abuses, and executions, the regime initially used the "objectifying of human rights" critique. Now it tries a different line:

Secretary of Iran's Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad Larijani censured the western states for the violation of women's rights, and said they should account for making an instrumental use of women in their societies.

The western countries should account for the violation of woman's rights and widespread abuse of women in their western communities, Larijani said in an interview with Iran's state-run TV.

"The Islamic teachings have taught us to respect all human beings including women; restrictions which Islam has brought to the Iranian women have not limited their progress forward and the Iranian women are educated and active elements of the present day Iranian society," he said.

1457 GMT: Press Watch. Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran correspondent of The New York Times, reports that the newspaper's website has been blocked inside Iran today. Instead, viewers are directed to, a site marking the religious occasion of Ashura.

1450 GMT: Gold-for-Gas Watch. Turkey's Minister of Energy Taner Yıldız said today Thursday that he sees no conflict between Ankara and Washington over US sanctions against Iran, amid confirmation that Turkey has been sending gold to Iran for gas purchases.

Yıldız said: "I'm not of the view that there will be any negative situation, a clash with the USA, regarding natural gas, oil and mining. We are talking with the USA."

Couriers carrying millions of dollars worth of gold bullion in their luggage have been flying from Istanbul to Dubai, where the gold is shipped to Iran, industry sources have said.

After months of silence from Ankara, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said last week that Turkish lira was being converted into gold for purchases because sanctions meant Turkey could not transfer cash into Iran.

Official Turkish trade data suggests that nearly $2 billion in gold was sent to Dubai on behalf of Iranian buyers in August.

Turkey's gold exports jumped more than fourfold to $11.2 billion in the first eight months of 2012.

More than 90% of Iran's gas exports go to Turkey under a 25-year supply deal. Turkey imports about 10 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Iran, making it the country's second-largest supplier behind Russia.

1310 GMT: A Death in Detention. Back from media work with BBC Persian to find The Los Angeles Times summarising the case of Sattar Beheshti, the blogger who died during interrogation in prison earlier this month:

The mysterious death of a dissident blogger while in Iranian police custody this month has generated a rare torrent of criticism from officials apparently embarrassed by a case that has drawn international condemnation and again shined a spotlight on the nation's poor human rights record....

The case has sparked an unusually public and vitriolic bout of blame-dispensing among various powerful factions in the Islamic Republic.

And The National offers a useful account of the "unlimited" hunger strike, now entering its seventh week, of detained attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh.

0910 GMT: Protest Watch. German police say a group of about 30 protesters pelted the Iranian Embassy in Berlin with stones and paint and pulled down an Iranian flag.

Ten of the demonstrators were detained. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed his regret to his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi.

An EA reader explains the reason for the protest:

Since late summer, Iranian and African refugees have protested the bad treatment of asylum seekers in Germany, including their isolation and discrimination of authorities.

The suicide of a young Iranian triggered the demonstrations, culminating in a refugee march to Berlin, where dozens of refugees are currently based in two small protest camps in the city centre. Some of them have started a hunger strike because government officials have declared that they do not see any need to discuss the situation.

At the same time, the plight of imprisoned human rights and political activists in Iran, the cases of torture, the death in detention of blogger Sattar Beheshti, and the case of [imprisoned lawyer] Nasrin Sotoudeh formed the background for yesterday's direct action against the IRI embassy in Berlin. A press release was sent to press outlets and published on the Internet, criticised the absence of media coverage of IRI human rights abuses in the media and calling for the freedom of all political prisoners in Iran.

Yesterday evening, there was a spontaneous demonstration in front of Berlin's central police station. One hundred refugee activists and German anti-racism activists attended to show solidarity with the ten people in custody.

Photos of the demonstration and of last night's solidarity protest have been posted.

0810 GMT: At the Movies. Minister of Culture Mohammad Hosseini has said Iranians should not worry about the wave of closures of cinemas, struggling in the economic conditions, as "there is always television".

0605 GMT: Iranian politicians and diplomats continued campaigns on Wednesday to re-assert Tehran's prominence in the Middle East --- the top six stories in Press TV's "Iran" section are all about foreign matters.

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani continues to lead the way. Having moved through Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey earlier in the week, he is now on a high-profile trip to Iraq, meeting prominent clerics and politicians. On Wednesday, he used an address to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq to warn of "plots aimed at fueling sectarian divisions between Shia and Sunni Muslims", favouring "the Zionist enemy" as it tries to break its "isolation".

On the Syrian front, Iran condemned Wednesday's twin bombing in Damascus that killed 34 people while pressing its objection to the placement of Patriot missiles on Turkey's border with Syria. 

The Foreign Ministry was looking farther afield. complaining about "the objectifying of human rights and its use as a tool against independent states". The cause of its concern was a United Nations Human Rights Committee resolution on Tuesday that criticised the Islamic Republic for abuses such as torture, use of the death penalty against juveniles, and repression of human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists.

Amid the international declarations and manoeuvres, there was a moment for regional black comedy. Having declaring the death of Saudi King Abdullah, the Islamic Republic had to face the uncomfortable truth --- following the King's appearance on television on Wednesday --- that the monarch was very much alive. The solution to the problem? Declare a conspiracy: "the eldest son of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has been releasing images of the king to imply that he is still alive".

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