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Tuesday
Apr172012

The Latest from Iran (17 April): Splitting Europe from the US Over Nukes and Sanctions

Protesting steel workers outside Ministry of Industry on Monday

See also Iran Special: The Inside Story of the Nuclear Talks in Istanbul
The Latest from Iran (16 April): A Common Understanding?


1805 GMT: Student Watch. Iranian student organisations have asked the public to support their protests against the imprisonment of young activists. In a campaign called “Be the Voice of Enchained Students”, they declared:

The office of Tahkim-e Vahdat and Danesh Amoukhtegan Organization of Iran, while expressing disgust over the continued imprisonment of political prisoners and the house arrest of the leaders of the Green Movement, celebrate the perseverance of the 29 enchained students and protest against their continued imprisonment, as we urge support for these detainees from universities, human rights and civic organizations and Iranians inside and outside the country

The statement called for “academic freedom” and the return of the detained students to their classes and universities.

1735 GMT: All the President's Men. Parliament, by a 74-68 vote, has given a "yellow card" warning to Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini for unsatisfactory answers to questions on topics such as the $2.6 billion bank fraud.

If Hosseini is given three "yellow cards", then he is subject to impeachment.

1545 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Physician and blogger Mehdi Khazali, bailed from prison last month after a 70-day hunger strike, has reportedly received 13 summons on 13 new charges.

Khazali was given a 14-year sentence in February after criticising the President and regime policies on his blog.

1540 GMT: Looking Tough. A clip from National Army Day:

1530 GMT: Parliament v. President. As Iranian media speculates on why President Ahmadinejad has cancelled his televised interview tonight, leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli has said that the President cannot announce the second phase of his subsidy cuts because they are illegal and the 2012/13 budget has not been ratified by the Majlis.

1500 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Hmm.... President Ahmadinejad has cancelled an interview on State TV scheduled for this evening.

Ahmadinejad was going to address questions on a range of issues, including his intention to launch the second phase of subsidy cuts.

1440 GMT: Please Invest in Our Oil Industry. First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has declared that Iran "is one of the safest and most independent countries in the world for those who are interested in investing in oil and gas industries".

Rahimi asserted, “Everybody knows that the Islamic Republic of Iran will be one of the biggest future energy suppliers and these reserves can provide the necessary feedstock and energy to various industries of Iran and other countries for many years with confidence at a competitive price."

And what of the sanctions, imposed by “arrogant” countries? "Due to efforts made by our country’s faithful specialists and scientists, these sanctions have turned into opportunities for progress," Rahimi assured.

1400 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Back from an academic break to find that the Majlis has approved a bill which provides for impeachment of President Ahmadinejad if he fails to give satisfactory answers to more than six questions.

Meanwhile, the President has been striking a pose at National Army Day: "The armed forces and the army will inflict heavy regret and shame in case of any aggression against Iranian lands and interests....[Iran] is ready to protect its existence and sovereignty."

Ahmadinejad continued, "When it comes to the Persian Gulf, security is achieved only through the collective cooperation of all nations and governments....Foreign interference which only causes destruction and division."

0735 GMT: Economy Watch. Baztab, challenging the "unreal" data of the Central Bank, claims that prices have risen 309% over the last seven years. The site reports that the cost of food this month in Iran is 37.5% higher than this time last year.

0725 GMT: All the President's Men. Back to the hot domestic story of the controversial appointment of Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi as head of the Social Security Fund....

Fatemeh Alia of Parliament's National Security Committee, has declared that the judiciary "should examine accusations of the past ten years" against Mortazavi.

Mortazavi is under fire because of his alleged role, as Tehran Prosecutor General, in the abuses and killings of protesters at Kahrizak detention centre in summer 2009. He had reportedly resigned earlier this week, but this was refused by President Ahmadinejad.

0722 GMT: Labour Front. Protesting eight months of unpaid wages, 800 workers of the metal industry rallied in front of the Ministry of Industry on Monday.

0715 GMT: Book Corner. Perhaps in a sign of concern over the 25th Tehran Book Fair on 2 May, the Ministry of Culture has invited suspended publishers to participate.

0705 GMT: All-Is-Well Alert. Ahmad Saeedi of the Ministry of Culture assures, "Nowhere in the world is it as safe and calm as in Iran."

0515 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Alongside Tehran's spin on the nuclear issue, expect a lot of declarations of the Islamic Republic's strength today:

Units of the Iranian Army are staging parades on the occasion of the National Army Day to display their defensive and military capabilities and achievements. The country's latest indigenous military hardware including surface-to-surface missiles, drones and air defense systems will be on display during the parades in Iran's capital, Tehran.

Senior Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as a host of top military commanders are attending the ceremony.

0515 GMT: We begin with a note on the ongoing Iranian strategy, set out in yesterday's analysis, as the nuclear talks move from last weekend's opening session in Istanbul to the proposed gathering on 23 May in Baghdad.

Tehran is setting out the line, as the two sides discuss an agenda for Baghdad, that an easing of sanctions must precede any Iranian commitments over its enrichment of uranium to 20%. To achieve that, it is hoping to sweet-talk the Europeans --- as well as continuing to uphold China's supposed support of the Islamic Republic's approach --- while avoiding any reference to the US.

Thus Press TV's highlights a statement by Zohreh Elahian, a member of Parliament's National Security Committee, on Monday: "The powerful presence of the Iranian negotiators in Istanbul and the recognition of Iran's right to use peaceful nuclear energy by EU [European Union] foreign policy chief [Catherine] Ashton, is considered as a positive step in the process of negotiations.”

That article is accompanied by "China Voices Satisfaction with Progress in Iran-P5+1 Talks" and "Nation's Resolve Led to Recognition of Iran Nuclear Rights".

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