1740 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. The head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has said Iran will increase its naval presence in the Persian Gulf, near three islands claimed by the United Arab Emirates.
"The security of the Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf is part of the various strategies of the naval force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," Jafari said at a ceremony inaugurating a fifth "naval defense zone" at the port of Bandar Lengeh.
1520 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Reza Khandan, the husband of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh --- now on the 18th day of her hunger strike --- has posted on Facebook about continued restrictions imposed by authorities:
It was reported that Nasrin Sotoudeh has been banned from seeing her family for a period of three weeks. Given that I had no idea about the validity of the news, I went to the visitation area at Evin prison today without the children to ask if it were indeed true.
I was told that Nasrin has indeed been banned from all visitations and will not be allowed to see anyone today. I inquired [if that] applies to the rest of her family members. who have been denied visitation rights for over a year. They confirmed that they too are banned from any visitation with Nasrin. According to the letter received by the visitation salon at Evin, even Nasrin’s father --- who passed away two years ago --- continues to be on the list of individuals banned from visiting with her.
1450 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. More on the proposed Parliamentary interrogation of the President over economic issues (see 0650 GMT)....
If Parliament accepts the petition of 77 MPs, Ahmadinejad has one month to answer the questions. If he ignores the summons or fails to provide satisfactory answers, there could be moves towards his impeachment.
An effort to question Ahmadinejad last month, endorsed by 102 MPs, was blocked last month. Signatories of the renewed petition said they acted after Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani refused to appear in Parliament to answer their questions about the currency crisis.
The MPs also queried why the Government had supported the import of more than 15,700 cars under the system for subsidised foreign currency, which is supposed to be for basic goods like foods and medicine, and they alleged that the Government did not buy domestic wheat even as it imported about $2.5 billion from abroad.
1420 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Back from Holland to find Mehr News trying to turn the false news about Iran's suspension of enrichment of 20% uranium against the "Western & Zionist media" who propagated the story.
The Guardian has now acknowledged its error in highlighting the claim, relying on the Saudi outlet Al Arabiya:
The 20-percent [uranium] enrichment has not been and will not be halted in Iran.
Yet, as announced previously, Tehran is ready to temporarily supply its need for 20%-enriched uranium for its 5-megawatt Tehran [Research] Reactor from abroad if the sanctions are lifted.
The development is surprising, as a similar move --- signed by 102 MPs --- was blocked last month after the Supreme Leader's office signalled that it did not support the questioning. The MPs are hoping to query Ahmadinejad about the economic situation, rising imports, and the currency crisis.
A minimum of 74 MPs, or 1/4th of the legislature, is needed to bring the motion before the Majlis.
Meanwhile, in an apparent move of conciliation after this week's warning by the Supreme Leader to stop political bickering, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has said the Majlis should avoid controversy and devote itself to solving the country's problems.
However, the Speaker was not going to leave Ahmadinejad untouched: he said that "all officials must be accountable to Parliament".
Newly released data indicate that Iran’s oil exports to India have increased 53 percent in September despite West’s unilateral embargoes against Iranian oil and financial sectors.
According to the tanker discharge data, Iran’s crude exports to India rose to 294,400 barrels per day in September, Reuters reported on Thursday.
A straightforward success story --- that is, until you go to the original Reuters story, "India's Iran Oil Imports Fall in Apr-Sept":
India's oil imports from Iran fell about 19 percent in the first half of 2012/13 to about 257,000 barrels per day (bpd), even lower than planned....
Volumes imported from Iran [in September] were up from a month ago and over last September, however, as one-off factors came into play....
The monthly jump came as MRPL, a key Indian client of Iran, picked up imports again in September after a gap of two months because of shipping issues, and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd, part owned by steel tycoon L N Mittal, bought for the first time.
Iran has suspended the enrichment of uranium stockpiles to the 20% purity needed to bring it a short step from building a nuclear device, news services in the region have reported.
Mohammad Hossein Asfari, a member of parliament responsible for foreign policy and national security, was quoted as saying that the move was a "goodwill" gesture, aimed at softening Iran's position before a new round of scheduled talks with the United States after this week's presidential elections.
Asfari said he hoped sanctions would be lifted in return for Iran's actions, otherwise it would resume the programme, according to a website belonging to the Al Arabiya news channel.
Al Arabiya is not Iranian but Saudi, and its report was based on the exaggerations of opposition Iranian outlets (see 0520 GMT).
United Press International is a bit better, noting the denial of the exaggerated report by Fars. However, its headline, "Messages Mixed on Iran's Nuclear Enrichment", gives the false impression that Asfari had declared unilateral suspension --- rather than the distortion of a much different statement by the Iranian MP.
0520 GMT: With an apparent temporary truce in the political in-fighting between President Ahmadinejad and the heads of judiciary and Parliament, and with the continued blackout on news about the economy, Saturday was taken over by a false story about a "breakthrough" on the nuclear issue.
The flutter started with a statement by MP Mohammad-Hassan Asfari, a member of Parliament's National Security Committee, to the Iranian Students News Agency --- he said Tehran could suspend enrichment of 20% uranium "in certain conditions", notably the lifting of sanctions.
That in itself was worth no more than a quick note, as the description fits the nine-step plan put forward since this summer by Iran's negotiators, both in public and in talks with Catherine Ashton, the lead official for the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China). Afshari did not mention whether the proposal had been put directly to American officials in secret talks this autumn --- the significant development in the story over the past two weeks.
However, the MP's statement was soon exaggerated by the outlet Digarban. The website, almost always critical of the regime, converted Afshari's words into a declaration that the Islamic Republic had unilaterally suspended 20% enrichment. The opposition website Rah-e Sabz picked up the claim, which then made it into Al-Arabiya.
Although there were no substance to support the supposed breakthrough, only the distortion of the original statement, it was enough to prod the regime into a rebuttal. An "informed source" told Fars that the Islamic Republic is continuing the enrichment with "no changes".