1835 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update (Revised). It appears that Press TV does not think Ayatollah Jannati's discussion of the political tensions inside Iran (see 1336) is worth a mention. Instead, this passage is more important:
The recent US presidential election only brought disgrace on the United States due to the low voter turnout....If this scandalous and disgraceful election had been held in a country opposing US policies, they would have created a hype about low voter turnout.
“Ninety percent of eligible [American voters] did not participate in this election and after spending billions [of dollars], which has no justification, they...re-elected a person by force to continue on his deviated path."
Fars does make a veiled reference to Jannati's remarks about the internal situation noting that the cleric "called on the government to adopt proper strategies against the West's economic pressures on Iran".
1824 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed Iranian reports that it will resume disussions with the Islamic Republic next month over inspection and supervision of the Iranian nuclear programme.
The IAEA said the talks would take place in Tehran on 13 December. "The aim (of the talks) is to conclude the structured approach to resolving outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme," spokeswoman Gill Tudor said.
1817 GMT: US-Iran Confrontation Watch. Back from a break to find Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi confirming the claim of US officials that two Iranian fighter jets fired on an American drone last week off the coast of the Islamic Republic:
Due to the timely, smart and decisive action of the Iranian Armed Forces, [it] was forced to flee. This experience and previous incidents show that the Islamic Republic of Iran vigilantly and precisely monitors all movements [of its enemies] and takes decisive, necessary and timely actions.
Vahidi challenged the US story that the drone was over international waters east of Kuwait, saying the “unidentified aircraft” was over Iranian waters, less than 12 nautical miles from the coastline.
1336 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Significantly, Ayatollah Ali Jannati was concerned today with political tensions inside the regime. Just as significantly, he appeared to be carrying out a balancing act between pressure on President Ahmadinejad and the defusing of conflict.
Jannati told the auidence that, if Ahmadinejad's interrogation by Parliament proceeded, "The President asked friends to know that dthe iscussions were friendly and not a political debate."
Jannati added that this "should not be a question of malevolence".
The Ayatollah, who is also head of the Guardian Council, then asked the heads of the three branches of Government to co-operate at a time of economic challenges.
On Sunday, a petition by 77 MPs to question Ahmadinejad about the economy, imports, and the currency crisis was put before Parliament.
1328 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Continuing the promotion of renewed discussions over Iran's nuclear programme, Fars claims that Tehran will resume talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency in late December over inspection and supervision of Iranian facilities.
1324 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. As Washington puts out the story that two Iranian fighter jets fired on a US drone, deputy head of armed forces General Massoud Jazayeri has told Fars that Tehran would "give a decisive response to any aerial, ground or sea aggression".
Jazayeri said, "If any foreign aircraft seeks to enter our country’s airspace, our Armed Forces will confront it."
0800 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Hard-line media launched another assault on former President Hashemi Rafsanjani on Thursday, striking at his detained children Mehdi Hashemi and Faezeh Hashemi.
Raja News took aim at Mehdi Hashemi's move from prison to hospital this week for an angiogram, alleging that the Rafsanjani family fabricated the “atmosphere in the media claiming [his] heart trouble....[This] took place with the goal of creating an excuse to stop the process of investigation, freedom and leaving unfinished the case of Mehdi Hashemi."
According to the website, citing a "hospital employee", Mehdi Hashemi was enjoying large portions of a fatty Iranian stew, potato chips, and other snacks.
Serat News went after Fatemeh Hashemi, who is serving a six-month sentence, for giving an interview to the new London-based opposition channel Raha TV. The article also jabbed at Rafanjani by downgrading him from "Ayatollah" to "Hojetoleslam".
0745 GMT: Our attention to Tehran's signals on talks with the US --- those which have taken place and those that it hopes will soon occur --- continues, but it is rivalled this morning by the media drama of the Pentagon's relevation that two Iranian fighter jets fired on an unmanned American drone last week.
We connect the developments in an analysis this morning, "Iranian Fighters Fire on US Drone --- What is the Connection with US-Iran Nuclear Talks?"
Meanwhile, the Iranian press continues to play up possible discussion rather than confrontation. Donya-ye Eqtesad writes, "Not much time seems to be left to the beginning of another round of negotiations [with the 5+1 Powers]. In particular, Russia and China have stressed upon the importance of the time factor and have demanded negotiations as fast as possible."
Because of the vast support of the Zionist lobby to his rival Mitt Romney, Barack Obama will further distance himself from the Israeli regime in the coming four years and will pursue a more independent policy compared with the past....Obama distancing himself from the Zionist lobby will create the opportunity for the Islamic Republic to test Obama's foreign policy so that the economic sanctions are gradually removed.
Despite the fact that the international atmosphere - because of the economic pressures of the United States and the West against Iran --- is not conducive for bilateral negotiations with the new administration, Obama's positive signals to Iran over the recent years taken into consideration, the possibility of removing the sanctions is not unlikely...Should these unjust sanctions be removed, a more pleasant atmosphere for positive cooperation with Iran will automatically follow.