Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (15 February): The Momentum of Protest, Part 2

1905 GMT: Oil Watch. Looks like Tehran has got itself in a muddle with today's grandstanding announcements. While the Ministry of Oil is saying exports to six European countries will be cut off, Hassan Tajik, the Foreign Ministry's deputy for Western Europe, is assuring that supplies will continue.

1850 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the National Security Council, has sent a note to Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy representative for the European Union, about renewed talks on Iran's nuclear programme.

A spokeswoman said Ashton is consulting with the "5+1" Powers --- the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany --- on a response.

Tehran's letter was revealed as President Ahmadinejad made the announcement that Iran could now produce fuel rods of 19.75% uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor, making medical isotopes. Ahmadinejad also said that new centrifuges at the Natanz facility have "a three-fold higher capacity" compared to older models, boosting Iran's capacity to produce 3.5% lower-enriched nuclear fuel by 50%.

1714 GMT:. Claim of the Day. MP Morteza Agha Tehrani, the head of the Unity Front list of candidates, has asserted that the Islamic Republic has become a model for the world, with even the biggest US philosophers respecting Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi --- the head of the Islamic Constancy Front --- and ceding their speaking time to him.

1710 GMT: The Battle Within (Cyber-Edition). Digarban claims that a new round of filtering pro-Ahmadinejad websites has started, affecting Raha Press, Meyar News, and the "Super Deviant" blog.

1705 GMT: Economy Watch. MP Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam has attacked President Ahmadinejad over subsidy cuts. The MP, prominent on the Economy Committee, said the Government had spent all of the revenues and even borrowed 8 trillion Toman (about $4.5 billion) from the Central Bank.

MP Jafar Ghaderi, a member of the Budget Committee, claimed the Government is unable to return the Iranian currency to its former exchange rate, given its "wrong" --- whether intentional or unintentional --- policies. have led to current rate of 1700 Toman.

1545 GMT: Protest Watch. Digarban assesses that all "hard-line" media kept silent about Tuesday's "security atmosphere" in Tehran to convey calm 17 days before Parliamentary elections.

Instead, Fars, Mehr, and other outlets promoted the story of the visit by opposition figures Ayatollah Mohajerani and Alireza Nourizadeh to Saudi Arabia, where they met King Abdullah. MP Esmail Kowsari said, "The presence of anti-Revolutionaries at a Saudi dinner proves that they have sold themselves."

Note: The next few updates were sent from the road by Scott Lucas. The time stamps reflect when the information was written, not when it was posted. James Miller takes over today's coverage.

0705 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Thai Front). Two Iranians have been charged over an attempted attacked in Bangkok on Tuesday. A third Iranian suspect is at large.

Grenades exploded before a would-be attacker reached his target, blowing off one of his legs and injuring four other people. Another man was arrested at Bangkok's airport, but a third escaped to Malaysia.

The incident following bombs aimed at Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia on Monday. No connection has been established to a wider group, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Iranian regime and Lebanon's Hezbollah of involvement.

An unnamed Thai official told AFP that Israeli officials were the targets on Tuesday: "These three Iranian men are an assassination team and their targets were Israeli diplomats including the ambassador. Their plan was to attach bombs to diplomats' cars."

0645 GMT: Ahmadinejad. MP Masoud Pezeshkian has accused the Government of being unable to control the currency market. He continued, "If anyone wants to give his/her opinion on this topic, he/she should be an expert or should respect what the specialists say."

Pezeshkian then jibed, "The President think he knows everything and is an expert in all fields."

0625 GMT: Elections Watch. Two contrasting views of the Government amidst the rhetoric in the Parliamentary campaigns....

MP Ali Abbaspour, a leader of the breakaway princplist faction Voice of the Nation, has accused the Ahmadinejad Government has broken laws and added that Parliament should be appreciated for "integrating" Ahmadinejad into the system.

Abbaspour hoped the "deviant current" around the President "would not win any seats in Parliament".

In contrast, Gholam Hossein Elham, a former spokesman for the. President, maintained that the Majlis had disrupted the good relationship between the Parliament and the Government in recent years, causing conflict. He added, "Reformism died in 2009, but some people are trying to bring this current back to life. People should be careful not to allow them to enter the Parliament."

0610 GMT: An Appeal to the Clerics. Zahra Rabbani Amlashi, the daughter-in-law of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s daughter-in-law, has appealed to senior clerics in a letter, "Do not allow freedom and freedom of speech to be destroyed in the name of Islam and Islamic Republic".

Referring to the 2009 Presidential election and its aftermath, she continued:

Surely you are aware of the high number of the protestors who are in jail. Some of them are being tortured and at least four of them have been killed based on official records.

Didn’t Imam Ali say that the protestors are free to express their view and should receive income unless they start a armed fight? So take some serious actions for the freedom of the opposition leaders and all the other political prisoners.

0410 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Fars reports that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stepped in over the ongoing dispute with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani over control of the Islamic Azad University.

The website says that, after the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution’s meeting with Rafsanjani ended with no agreement, the President has decided to officially appoint Farhad Daneshjoo as the head of Iran's largest chain of private campuses.

Rafsanjani had held out for weeks after the appointment of Daneshjoo, who is the brother of the Minister of Science and Higher Education.

Mehdi Hashemi, Rafsanjani's son, has written to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to condemn a report of the Article 90 Commission, which supervises Government affairs. Hashemi said that much of the information was false accusation against him and others who cannot defend themselves.

Tabnak did not give details of the report, but Hashemi has been accused since 2009 of an attempt to use finances to manipulate the Presidential election. He is in effective exile in Britain because of the threat of arrest if he returns to Iran.

0410 GMT: As we expected, 25 Bahman --- the anniversary of the last major show of defiance in Tehran --- came and went without any loud display of protest. Opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, put under strict house arrest at this time last year, remain shut away, and there was no sign of organised resistance amidst the heavy security presence in parts of the capital.

This does not mean, however, that those concerned about the reigme, 32 months after the disputed 2009 Presidential election, were entirely absent. An EA source in Tehran sent this report:

Today the city had a military atmosphere. Police cars were seen on almost every major square in Tehran especially around Tehran's universities and nearby streets and roads.

Internet connection has had serious problems for the past few days, and today for some hours there was no access. Mobile phones also had problems.

Based on eyewitnesses, near the Vali-e Asr intersection, a large number of people were just looking around in silence and looking and smiling meaningfully at each other. 

On Navab St many photographs were taken by the plainclothes security officers, and some people were interrogated randomly.

[State  broadcaster] IRIB cameras was interviewing people about shopping for the Iranian New Year. However, the true intentions behind these interviews was to film that no protesting had happened. 

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