1739 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a leading member of Parliament's Economy Committee, has claimed that "some want the next Majlis to be obedient to Ahmadinejad". He continued that "Ahmadinejad Discourse" is a kind of senseless myth, set against the Supreme Leader's "Imam and Revolution Discourse".
1734 GMT: Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Another snippet from Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami's sermon, this one with significance as a message to President Ahmadinejead, Parliament, and the judiciary about the Supreme Leader's proclamation for Iranian New Year: "National production is a strategy not a slogan; the three powers must support it."
1634 GMT: Kiss and Make Up? In an interview, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has commented about his last Tehran Friday Prayer in July 2009: "I do not want to separate myself from the nezam (system) and will try to serve it as much as possible."
Rafsanjani's Friday Prayer in 2009 was seen by many as a signal to challenge the Government and even the system in the aftermath of the disputed Presidential election.
Exports are projected at 1.9 million barrels a day in March, after 2.2 million barrels a day in February. Iran shipped about 2.5 millions barrel a day last year.
1618 GMT: Food Watch. Another sign of Tehran trying to build up stockpiles amidst tightening sanctions....
Sources say almost half a million metric tonnes of grain has arrived at an Iranian port, with Turkish banks used by the Islamic Republic as an alternative trade financing route.
Food shipments are not targeted under western sanctions --- Iran recently imported 120,000 metric tonnes from the US --- but financial measures have frozen Iranian firms out of much of the global banking system. State-run Government Trading Corporation (GTC) has stepped in to make recent purchases as private Iranian buyers have been sidelined.
1524 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Echoing the line of the Tehran Friday Prayer (see 1459 GMT) that the US is retreating from an oil embargo, with the European Union "realising its mistake", Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar has added that the Islamic Republic will circumvent sanctions and "reply to threats with threats".
1507 GMT: Cartoon of the Day. Eghbal Khavari celebrates the New Year message of the Supreme Leader, " Bravo, Bravo! 1391, the Year of National Production!":
The massive turnout of the Iranian people in the country’s parliamentary elections brought the US and Europe such a failure that they had to ease their sanctions against Iran....This blow forced the US to soften sanctions endorsed by its allies on the country’s oil industry...The Iranian nation's move compelled them to regret their wrongdoings.
1034 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Confirming the news that EA posted on Thursday, the Council of the European Union has added 17 Iranians "responsible for serious human rights violations" to the list of individuals -- now 78 in total --- subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze, as it extended the sanctions for a year.
The decision, endorsed in this morning's meeting of Foreign Ministers, also banned exports of equipment and software intended for use in the monitoring or interception of internet and telephone communications by Iranian authorities.
The EU's foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton issued a prepared statement:
The EU remains deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. We deplore the continuing increase in executions and the widespread repression of Iranian citizens, including human rights defenders, journalists and members of the opposition. We renew our calls on the Iranian authorities to live up to their international human rights obligations and to protect all fundamental freedoms to which the Iranian people are entitled.
Bastani, arrested after the disputed Presidential election of June 2009, is serving a six-year sentence for propaganda against the government, creating unrest, and disturbing public order..
0808 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Are we seeing a shrinking base of support for the President?
After Zohreh Elahian's criticism (see 0725 GMT), former Government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham has said that principlists "never accepted Ahmadinejad as President", voting for him with reservations in 2005 and tolerating him with "a lump in the throat".
0725 GMT: All the President's Men. MP Zohreh Elahian, who has been supportive of President Ahmadiejad, has put out a warning to the Government. She said the Social Security Fund needs a "professional head", not a "problematic figure" like Saeed Mortazavi, the Presidential aide who remains under fire over his alleged involvement in the Kahrizak detention centre abuses of summer 2009.
Elahian also said impeachment proceedings against the Minister of Labor will resume on 3 April.
0705 GMT: On a morning dominated by assurances over the economy in Iranian State media, Press TV takes the award for Rosiest-Coloured Glasses:
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has defended Beijing’s decision to keep importing Iranian crude despite the US sanctions on Tehran, insisting that the move is not in breach of the UN Security Council’s resolutions.
China's oil imports from Iran were based on the country’s economic development needs and do not violate any UN resolutions or damage the interests of third parties, Hong Lei told reporters on Thursday.
“China opposes any country imposing its domestic law on another country. We oppose the practice of saddling unilateral sanctions on a third country,” he added.
So what's missing? Perhaps the revelation on Thursday that China's imports of Iranian oil had fallen 45% in February.
So what's missing? This sentence from the Foreign Minister's statement, which points to the US-led strategy to wean countries off reliance on Tehran's crude: "India is also trying to diversify its sources of crude oil imports."