See also Iran Snap Analysis: The New Battle Within Tehran Over the Nuclear Talks
Iran Feature: Challenging the Plans for the "National Internet" br>
The Latest from Iran (19 April): Supreme Leader Seeing "Positive" Nuclear Talks?
1745 GMT: Nuclear Watch. It's not every day that EA and Press TV ally in analysis....
Earlier today we posted an evaluation from an Iranian correspondent that last weekend's nuclear talks were "the combination of efforts of the 'Everyone but Ahmadinejad camp', including those close to the Supreme Leader: "The Ahmadinejad camp feels shunted out of the evolving nuclear deal, while it senses that the two sides are closer than before to an agreement."
Now Press TV posts:/p>
An analyst says the fatwa by Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei against nuclear weapons is a “political milestone” which should put an end to Western allegations against Iran.
“The fatwa of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution can well serve as a beacon of light for Washington in order to find its way out of darkness and ignorance,” author and Middle East expert Ismail Salami wrote.
1332 GMT: Economy Watch. Leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli has renewed his attack on the Government for mismanagement of the economy, claiming Iran is suffering from the "Dutch disease" of exploitation of natural resources alongside a decline in manufacturing.
1232 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, takes the podium today to put out the regime line on the "good achievements" of the nuclear talks last weekend in Istanbul --- "[The West] accepted that uranium enrichment is Iran’s right" --- while declaring, “The West must lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran so that the Iranian nation believes they do not seek to continue their enmity....If they insist on sanctions and then say they will negotiate with Iran, it is clear that such negotiations will be called off."
Iran appears to have recently published a Persian-language "Request for Information" for a filtered and monitored version of the Internet, seeking "proper conditions for domestic experts in order to build a healthy Web and organize the current filtering situation" by 19 April.
The document to the website of a research institute which describes itslef as the "mother consultant" to the Ministry of Communications.
0925 GMT: Economy Watch. Speaking before Friday Prayers in Tehran, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has used the Supreme Leader's "Year of National Production" to put pressure on the Government, "The nation's independence cannot be achieved without a healthy economy."
Iran says it is ready to resume talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog two months after their last meeting ended in failure, but still appears to be stonewalling a request for access to a key military site, Western diplomats said on Thursday.
Just days after Iran and six world powers restarted negotiations in Istanbul, the Islamic Republic delivered a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on holding new discussions with the U.N. body as well.
But Vienna-based diplomats said it did not mention the IAEA's most pressing demand --- that its inspectors be allowed to visit the Parchin military site southeast of Tehran, where the agency believes nuclear-relevant research may have taken place.
0725 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Ahwaz Edition). The European Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation has posted the names of 26 people whom it claims have been detained by Iranian authorities in and around the city of Ahwaz in Khuzestan Province in the weeks leading to the 15 April anniversary of a 2005 protest.
0620 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Labour activist Ebrahim Madadi, with flowers around neck, with fellow members of the Bus Drivers Union after his release from prison this week --- Madadi served almost all of a 3 1/2-year sentence:
0610 GMT: Things That Make You Go Ummm.... (cont.). We reported on Thursday that, according to a website of the Qazvin Basij militia, 11 Revolutionary Guards commanders had been replaced.
Digarban reports that the Basij site, as well as Fars, have now deleted the news.
0605 GMT: Press TV and the Abuses. Yesterday we noted the compilation of a dossier on Press TV, by Justice for Iran. The findings detailed how the State outlet broadcast "confessions of Iranian Arab detainees from Khuzestan, after they had been abused and kept from lawyers and families, and how Press TV --- working with the Revolutionary Guards --- had used material from the seized computers of journalists for a "documentary" on the supposed espionage and conspiracy of BBC Persian.
Justice for Iran has now published its first summary in English, setting out the Khuzestan allegations.
0530 GMT: We begin with a curious story on the economy and currency. The Central Bank announced yesterday that it wants to pull back the advance sales of gold coins. As incentives to buyers, it is offering three options: 1) a buy-back at the current price for the gold; 2) credit to the would-be buyers with a 24% rate of interest; 3) two-year shares in exchange for the gold.
So why the sudden rush to retrieve the gold? There is no clue in the story in State outlet IRNA, but one possibility --- or even probability --- is that the Central Bank expects the price of gold to rise significantly in the near-future.
Why would that occur? Well, in a curious episode last weekend, the reported price suddenly dropped and the Iranian currency, after months of decline and even crisis, suddenly strengthened by 7 to 10%. International media that noticed blithely said that the surge was due to confidence after promising talks in Istanbul on Iran's nuclear programme, but we thought that was easy speculation. Instead, our suspicion --- although we have no specifics --- was that some domestic manoeuvring had brought the supposed rise in the Iranian Rial.
If that rise is artificial, and if Iran's economic situation does not suddenly improve, then we expect the Rial will quickly slide. Indeed, after being reported last weekend as strong as 16400:1 vs. the US dollar, the Rial is quoted at 18200:1 this morning.
And then there is the parallel story that the Central Bank, in a series of overnight operations, recently withdrew several billion dollars from Iranian financial institutions. The episode has brought questions from MPs, and even the rumour of the resignation of the head of the Bank, but no answer.
Why would the Bank need several billion dollars? Perhaps to buy back gold?