Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (7 April): Nuclear Confusion

See also The Latest from Iran (6 April): Is Tehran Pulling Out of Nuclear Talks?

1915 GMT: Labour Front. Dismissed workers of the Shahab Khodro autobus manufacturer have protested in front of the Ministry of Labour over the dismissal of hundreds of workers.

1435 GMT: The Battle Within. Mehr reports that President Ahmadinejad has again refused to attend a meeting of the Expediency Council, chaired by his political rival Hashemi Rafsanjani.

1400 GMT: All-is-Well Alert. Iranian officials assert that Tehran's non-oil exports rose 29% to nearly $44 billion in the year to mid-March, with a further $4.2 billion for technological services.

Almost all of the increase came from petrochemical products and gas condensates, according to the customs offices. The two products have risen in value because of higher oil oil prices.

(An energy analyst notes, "Calling petrochem and gas-condensates 'non-oil' is rather a matter of semantics.")

The export of petrochemicals rose 55% to $15 billion, and that of gas condensates by 36 percent to $10 billion.

China, the United Arab Emirates --- which is the hub for the re-export of goods to Iran --- Iraq, and India were the main customers for non-oil goods.

1200 GMT: Cyber Watch. Opposition website Rah-e Sabz reports that it was under sustained cyber-attack from Wednesday to Friday but that normal service has been resumed.

1100 GMT: Economy Watch. The price of aviation fuel has suddenly risen by 185%, from 400 Toman to 1143 Toman (about $0.93 at official rate; about $0.60 at open-market rate).

Khabar Online raises questions about a rise in gasoline prices if Government subsidies are fully withdrawn.

And in the food market, the cost of bananas has hit a record high after the end of the price fixed by Government.

1020 GMT: Nuclear Watch. In the fuss over the location for nuclear talks, are Iranian State media resorting to made-up quotes? From Press TV, "Proposing Iraq as Venue for P5+1 Talks, Wise Iran Decision: Turkey":

The Turkish foreign minister has lauded Iran's proposal for Iraq to hold the upcoming talks between Tehran and the six major world powers as “wise”, while reiterating Turkey’s readiness to host the negotiations.

In a phone conversation with Iran's Secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili on Friday, Ahmet Davutoglu described the relations between Tehran and Ankara as strategic and friendly.

"Wise"? That seems curious from Davutoğlu, given that an angered Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday: "Because of the lack of honesty they (the Iranians) are continually losing their international prestige. This is not the language of diplomacy. The name of this is something else, but I won't say it here."

According to State news agency IRNA, Davutoğlu made the comments to Jalili on Thursday evening (not Friday, as Press TV "reports"). IRNA continues:

Following the conversation, the Turkish Ambassador to Tehran, Umit Yardim, met with Assistant Secretary of SNSC for foreign policy and international affairs, Ali Baqeri, and presented some explanation concerning published news by certain western media about recent statements of Turkey’s officials.

The ambassador said that Turkish president and prime minister have special respect for Iran’s supreme leader and president and support Iran’s wise policies.

He also stated that Turkey supports Iran’s nuclear stance and in spite of US pressure cast a negative vote to the UN Security Council resolution.

Referring to the statement of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his return from Iran, the ambassador said that the premier has praised Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei's stances.

The Turkish press, however, has a different version of the conversation: "Turkish diplomatic sources said Davutoğlu reiterated Turkey's position on negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, underlining the importance Turkey attached to the continuation of the talks." The leading newspaper Hurriyet writes:

The Turkish minister’s call brought up Tehran’s proposal for the negotiations to be held in Baghdad or Beijing, instead of Istanbul, a venue Iran had suggested previously. Iran said Turkey’s stance on the Syrian crisis caused it to change its position.

As for the Turkish Ambassador, he was summoned so "Iranian officials [could express] unease...about Turkey’s premier criticizing its neighbor as being dishonest".

The word "wise", in reference to the Islamic Republic or anyone else, does not appear in the Turkish accounts.

0930 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Unsurprisingly, US media --- including the Associated Press and MSNBC --- have picked up the statement of MP Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, "Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce (a) nuclear weapon", although he immediately added, "(It) will never choose this path."

0730 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Press TV only adds to the confusion in its latest article. It highlights the statement of "hard-line" Parviz Sorouri, a member of Parliament's National Security Committee:

Unfortunately, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, US, Germany) and the UN have tainted Iran's nuclear case with political issues and we are witnessing a completely political approach towards our country.

We hope for the P5+1 to have realized that their political measures have had no effect and that their actions have strengthened the resolve of the Iranian people.

That is a far-from-enthusiastic welcome for discussions, but somehow Press TV finds optimism with the headline, "Iran Supports Win-Win, Positive Results in Talks with P5+1: Lawmaker".

0530 GMT: Six days to go before the US, European powers, China, and Russia are supposed to sit down with a high-level Iranian delegation to discuss Tehran's nuclear programme, but no one seems to know where and even if the talks will take place.

The State Department insists that the proceedings will open as scheduled on 13 April but have no idea where its representatives are heading. The Europeans are offering no comment. And I am not even sure that many in the Iranian regime know what is happening.

The Islamic Republic has pulled back from its apparent agreement to Istanbul as the venue, angering the Turkish Government, and appears to be promoting Baghdad as the host. That idea is a non-starter for the US and the Europeans, given their perception that Iraqi leaders are too close to Tehran to provide neutrality and that, in any case, the Iranians are stalling.

Press TV is still proclaiming, "Iran, P5+1 Urged to Make Use of N-talks" but State news agency IRNA decides to walk away this morning: its lead story is on President Ahmadinejad opening a complex of 17,500 housing units in Khorasan

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