The 40th day memorial for blogger Sattar Beheshti, allegedly killed during interrogation in prison on 3 November
1914 GMT: Assurance of the Day. Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, has assured that "there is no possibility of another election intrigue" in the 2013 Presidential campaign, and those responsible in the 2009 disputed Presidential election "do not even have the illusion" that they can puruse this.
Jannati said those "guilty of sedition" will not be able to participate in the election.
1602 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami took the podium today, and he had a bone to pick with the US about Syria: “Recognising the opponents of the Syrian government as the opposition coalition [the National Coalition] is a complete violation of human rights....These savages commit atrocities in Syria and kill innocent people and commit these crimes."
Khatami assured, “The people of this country (Syria) will continue their resistance [against the opposition and its foreign backers] because they know that the age of hegemony is over."
The cleric also replayed the tune of the Islamic Republic's ascendancy over Washington with its claimed retrieval of a US drone on 5 December from the Persian Gulf, "Capturing this spy drone and decoding all its secrets indicates our country’s might and shows that the Iranian nation never speaks idly and when necessary reveals its power to its enemies."
1359 GMT: All-Is-Well Oil Alert. According to Press TV, the Secretary General of OPEC, Abdullah al-Badri, has noted that figures provided by Iran show that its level of oil production has not been reduced since the imposition of sanctions, holding steady at 3.7 million barrels per day.
The International Energy Agency has said that Iran's production was 2.7 million bpd in October.
This is not the first instance of Tehran putting out inflated figures --- last month, Minister of Oil Rustam Qassemi said Iran was producing 4.1 million bpd.
1335 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Mohsen Rezae, Secretary of the Expediency Council, has expressed regret at the impact the United States-led sanctions are having on the Iranian people and that the economic situation is “bad.”
Adhering to the regime’s familiar line, Khatami went on to lambast America’s human rights record, including its role in the continued suppression of dissent in Bahrain, and boasted about Iran’s strength as shown by the recent capture of a unmanned aerial vehicle.
1129 GMT: Nuclear Negotiations Watch. Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Herman Nackaerts, told reporters that he had “had good meetings” with Iranian officials to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme earlier this week in Tehran.
In a press release the IAEA stated that “we were able to make progress on the text of the structured approach to resolving the outstanding issues on possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme. We have agreed to meet again on the 16th of January of next year where we expect to finalize the structured approach and start implementing the plan shortly after that."
Although access to the military base Parchin has not yet been agreed to, Nackaerts commented that it “is part of the structured approach and we hope...that we will implement that shortly after agreeing on the approach.”
1019 GMT: Human Rights Watch. Six imprisoned Iranian human rights activists have issued a statement calling for greater resistance to rights abuse by their colleagues and a “greater effort to spread an understanding of human rights and the protection of human dignity in society.”
The statement also condemns Iran’s “widespread” use of the death penalty and lists numerous violations of other violations of human rights, and argues “the promotion of fundamentals stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can guarantee growth, development, peace, stability and a healthy society and requires active social participation and an informed approach to issues of collective living in the modern world.”
Elsewhere, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report today noting that increasing numbers of Iranian activists have fled the country in the three years since the disputed 2009 presidential election.
The 62-page report, entitled “Why they Left: Stories of Iranian Activists in Exile,” details the experiences of dozens of bloggers, journalists and lawyers who have been targeted by the Iranian authorities.
The HRW report concludes that due to the crackdown against popular dissent by security and intelligence forces the “space in Iran for civil society has been shrinking” since 2009.
It also notes that the number of Iranians seeking asylum elsewhere has dramatically increased, with “11,537 new asylum applications to 44 countries in 2009; 15,185 in 2010; and 18,128 in 2011.”
0948 GMT: Oil Watch. Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi has rejected reports that Iran has withdrawn its candidacy for the position of secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in favour of the Iraqi candidate.
Three candidates --- an Iraqi, a Saudi, and an Iranian --- were put forward at this week's OPEC meeting. Amid ongoing Iranian-Saudi tension and reported conflict between Iraq and Saudi Arabia over production levels, no decision was reached.
Ahmadinejad added, "Our enemies have thought we have reached our limit, but Iran is rich in resources."
0713 GMT: Battle Within (Ahmadinejad's Men Edition). Cleric and MP Hojatoleslam Mehdi Mousavi Nezhad has openly challenged any attempt by President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, to claim the Presidency in 2013:
Ahmadinejad must know that if he continues his stubbornness in defending Mashai, it will not have a good ending. It is better that Ahmadinejad doesn’t aid the enemy....
In my opinion, efforts for Mashai’s candidacy are futile and unbecoming. In this respect I hope that Ahmadinejad, at least until the end of the 10th Government (2009-2013), returns to the period of the 9th Government (2005-2009), and be the same Ahmadinejad that he [once] was....
If Mashai becomes a candidate and is confirmed by the Guardian Council, I will never give him a vote because I believe he has caused the country to be faced with many difficulties.
0709 GMT: Battle Within (Nuclear Edition). Did President Ahmadinejad just lash out at others in the regime --- including the Supreme Leader --- for backing away from direct talks with the US on the nuclear issue? He told reporters, "Unfortunately in Iran a group are not pursuing the solution of the [nuclear] issue. There are some who think that things are better as they are. Ultimately the view of the government is that this problem must be solved and with cooperation it will be solved."
0705 GMT: A Death in Detention. Yesterday we reported on the 40th day memorial for blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died --- and may have been killed --- during interrogation in detention on 3 November. We noted claims that security forces had disrupted the memorial as it prepared to move from a mosque, harassing, beating, and arresting mourners.
Now a short clip has emerged (see top of entry) of the mourning, including Beheshti's mother shouting, "I am proud of my son."
The headline name is that of Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, the head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization. The seven companies listed are FaraTech, the Neda Industrial Group, Aria Nikan Marine Industry, Towled Abzar Boreshi, Iran Pouya, Terjerat Gostar, and Tarh O Palayesh.
0625 GMT: We opened Thursday with expectation, as talks began in Tehran between a high-level delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iranian officials. For most of the day, however, there was an absence of news, with not a word on developments over the discussions about inspection and supervision of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme and facilities.
Then late last night Iranian State media finally put out a signal, at least from Tehran's vantage point: Iran's IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, hailed an agreement --- to meet again.
Soltanieh said, “At the end of this meeting, both sides agreed to have the next meeting on 16th of January. This round of talks was constructive and good progress was made."
There were no details about the “intensive" talks, however, except for this not-so-positive note: Soltanieh said the two sides had failed to reach agreement over the IAEA's demand to visit the Parchin military site.
Parchin has become the headline symbolic issue in the Iran-IAEA relationship, with US and European officials insisting that the Agency must establish if the facility houses a high-explosive container which could be used for the testing of atomic matierials for military use.
The IAEA has yet to put out a statement about the talks.