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The Latest from Iran (23 February): Don't Panic!
The reason for the detentions is not clear.
Since the arrests, families of those arrested have gathered daily outside the Intelligence Office for news. A source said the Intelligence Office has promised the families to release the detainees on bail of about 40 million Toman (about $2000) each.
This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran's international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious valuesThe United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution-a fundamental and universal human right.
Nadarkhani, who converted Christianity as a teenager, has been sentenced by a local court. A higher court said that the punishment would be commuted if Nadarkhani repented, but he has refused to do so.
1815 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Tehran, through its envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is trying to explain that its refusal to let IAEA inspectors to visit a military site this week was because of the lack of "some sort of modality and agreement."
Ali Asghar Soltanieh continued, "“It was assumed that after we agreed on the modality then access would be given. Since the modality was not concluded due to time constraints… this was not possible.”
Soltanieh's explanation accompanied his declaration, “Our position is that we are going to continue the talks for cooperation with the agency, and we hope that this process will be successfully going on. We need a quiet environment, a calm environment to continue our professional work with the agency.”
This, however, may be overtaken by the publication of the IAEA's latest report on Iran's nuclear programme, with a sharper tone of criticism after the failure to inspect the Parchin facility. See our separate analysis.
Khatami warned candidates not to abuse Ayatollah Khomeini and the Supreme Leader because they are the "people's fortune", while insisting that "realistic polls" prove there will be a "high turnout" on 2 March. He then took a swipe at the "Iran-first" school of thought, often associated with the President's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, "Nationalism has no place in our religion, only virtue counts."
1730 GMT: Nuke Watch. As expected, the International Atomic Energy Agency has said it "continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme", in its latest quarterly report about Iran's nuclear programme.
A two-day visit by an IAEA team to Tehran ended in tension this week when Iranian authorities refused access to the Parchin military site, where the Agency suspects a large explosives containment vessel has been built.
The IAEA report claimed Iran had significantly expanded activities at its main enrichment plant near the central city of Natanz, and had increased enrichment at the recently-operational Fordoo underground facility.
1720 GMT: Soft War Watch. Mohsen Kazemeini, the Revolutionary Guards commander in Tehran, has announced, "If we win the soft war, there will be no more critical security situation." The Revolutionary Guards, he said, were resolved to proceed speedily to accomplish this.
1504 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. President Ahmadinejad is attracting much attention and criticism from the websites of rivals for his appearances. They claim that, while he says he is not supporting any candidate, he is talking about election plans are neutral (i.e. we do not support any candidate officially) but from the other side, he has spoken about his election plans in a meeting with 6000 young advisors and administration staff.
1404 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami taking charge today, and no surprise that his message --- six days before the Parliamentary elections --- is that everyone should vote to send a message to Iran's enemies. Khatami also said candidates should be nice to each other and not turn the campaign into a fight among factions.
A bit more surprising that Press TV ignores this --- instead, its report is exclusively on Khatami's mention of the burning of the Qur'an by American troops in Afghanistan: A senior Iranian cleric describes US President Barack Obama’s apology for the desecration of the Holy Qur’an at an American military base in Afghanistan as “superficial”: “Based on reports by reporters, this was an intentional move prompted by the hatred of American statement [sic] for Islam. The world should know that US government is anti-Islam. The Insulting [actions] of the Americans was not by mistake, it was deliberate."
1058 GMT: Nuke Watch. Despite increased tension this week over Iran's nuclear programme, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Tehran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, has reiterated, "Our position is that we are going to continue the talks for cooperation with the agency and we hope that this process will be successfully going on. We need a quiet environment, a calm environment to continue our professional work with the agency."
Two sources said the Saudis have already agreed to replace Iranian supplies.
Facing restrictions elsewhere on its exports, from sanctions to reduced purchases by countries like China, Tehran has offered to sell extra crude to India. However, the trade has been complicated since the end of 2010 by problems over payment arrangements. Iran has agreed to part payment in Indian rupees, but it wants the rest of the payment in another currency such as Japanese yen.
Meanwhile, Iran's OPEC governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi has insisted, "The production for this month will be the same as the previous one, around 3.5 (million barrels per day). We still have customers, everything is normal."
Jalali sealed his lips and chained himself to the metal railing outside of his university last weekend.
Jalali was sentenced to one year in prison in 2011 after participating in an opposition protest. He was released after three months, but university officials banned him from classes.
Before his reported arrest, Jalali wrote:
Why am I protesting in this fashion? Why with lips closed? Why with chained feet? I sewed my lips because no one heard my cry against injustice. I chained my feet because my running didn't take me anywhere.
No matter how much I shouted, no one heard me. I said maybe my silence will be heard. I ran and ran but no one saw it. I said maybe I will be noticed by being in chains.
0900 GMT: Chest-Thumping. From Press TV, "Iran’s air defense units have shot down a hypothetical enemy’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on the final day of the Iranian Army’s latest military exercises in southern Iran."
0715 GMT: Soft War Watch. At the "Cultural Elites Seminar" of the Revolutionary Guards, Ali Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader's advisor on foreign policy, thanks Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari for his efforts in confronting the "soft war" waged by Iran's enemies.
0710 GMT: The House Arrests. Sara Karroubi, the granddaughter of detained opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, has written to him on her birthday: “Two birthdays has passed since you were imprisoned, I wished that I could talk to you without the presence of the intelligence service officers. I wish I could at least talk to you on the phone, but still I wasn’t able to. Daddy told me these dark days would be over, but birthday is here and they’re not over.”
Karroubi and his wife Fatemeh, along with fellow opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, have been held under strict house arrest for more than a year.
0700 GMT: Clerical Intervention. Grand Ayatollah Sane'i, at the end of a lecture in Qom, said, “Oppression shows defeat and failure" and the “dignity and glory of the oppressed”. He emphasised that "they" should know that "we are not afraid of death”.
0650 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has criticised the President and his management of the Government: "You cannot be successful by just chattering. If management was done properly, the country’s economic situation would not be like this."
Larijani also emphasised the independence of Iran's seminaries from the Government.
Khabar Online, linked to Larijani, hit out at the pro-Ahmadinejad Resistance Front, claiming it had criticised the statement of Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani and Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi supporting the Unity Front with the jibe, “People don’t need guardians”.
And Khabar features criticism of the President on another front --- Hojateslam Navab of the Society of Militant Clergy (JRM): "Unfortunately during the Ahmadinejad Presidency, many experts have been repelled from the country’s management, especially in foreign policy, economic affairs, and even in intelligence, to an extent that the Supreme Leader himself had to take actions and to stand against Ahmadinejad."
The Center has declared that the Islamic Republic is 6th amongst 22 European, Asian, and Middle East/North African countries with a 6.5% growth rate.
0605 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Meeting the "Reformist Front", former Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that those who support the Revolution are right to worry about the current situation of Iran: "We should never forget that the Revolution was victorious because of people, and to resolve issues and problems, we should cooperate with people."
In a week of elevated tension between the US, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Tehran, Rafsanjani also had this interesting comment, "We should work on our interactions and cooperation with other countries rather than making enemies."l
0555 GMT: It is not easy sorting out the more than 3000 candidates for Parliamentary seats on 2 March. The "Unity Front" of principlists has given way to several factions, the pro-Ahmadinejad candidates have tried to rally as a "Resistance Front". There are reformists boycotting the elections, reformists who are now principlists, and reformists who have tried to justify participation on other lists. The Supreme Leader and the President publicly stay above the fray, but their representatives send out signals about what should really happen next Friday.
There is one constant, however. Everyone hates the "deviant current", whatever that might be.
Once upon a time --- two years ago --- the deviant current was a label slapped on controversial advisors of President Ahmadinejad and allies of his even more controversial Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. However, as the President's men then seized the term to criticise their foes, the "deviant current" was a tag to be applied to anyone.
Davoud Ahmadinejad, who has complicated matters further by saying some not-very-nice things about his brother's Government, is the latest to point at a deviant current. It is led by the US, Israel, and Britain, wants to send inept MPs who are against the Supreme Leader to Parliament, and has looted money for the elections.