A poster recognising Iran's women political prisoners, including Zahra Rahnavard, Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and members of the Baha'i community
The Rial stands at around 15900:1 today vs. the US dollar, about 15% stronger than a month ago. The Iranian currency had lost about half its value between September and January, despite repeated attempts at intervention by the Government and Central Bank.
The bounce-back follows the declaration of Central Bank head Mahmoud Bahmani that the advance sale of gold coins has nearly stabilised the foreign exchange market.
The Rial is still much weaker than the official exchange rate of 12260:1.
1749 GMT: Foreign Affairs (French Front). Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has used a visit by former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard to make a far-from-subtle move towards Paris before the next round of nuclear talks on 23 May in Baghdad.
Salehi expressed hope that Sunday's election of Francois Hollande, a Socialist like Rocard, as President will lead to better French-Iranian relations.
Under outgoing President Nicolas Sarzoky, France has taken an increasingly harder line on Iran's nuclear programme. EA sources say that the French had become even tougher than the US, although their line eased during the resumption of discussions in Istanbul in mid-April.
Salehi, via the meeting with Rocard, stood on Iran's protection of "inalienable nuclear rights" in line with international law and under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, while calling "for cooperation...based on good will and mutual trust to help come up with a solution that will be accepted by both sides".
have banned advertisement of all foreign goods and services which have a domestic counterpart.
"According to the approval of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, advertising foreign goods and services with domestic rivals is banned," the Secretary of the Council of Public Culture, Mansour Vaezi, said. He added that the ban extends to those Iranian "goods and services with a foreign name", and it covers all domestic goods and products manufactured through joint ventures between Iranian and foreign companies.
Vaezi confirmed, "Advertisement of such foreign goods and services is allowed only in Persian and they should not be advertised on city and intercity highway billboards, pedestrian bridges and electronic boards."
The decision follows the Supreme Leader's declaration in March that this is the "Year of Domestic Production".
1508 GMT: Nuclear Watch, Then and Now. This week we have been posting the provocative claims of Hassan Rohani, Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator. These include a 2004 offer from the Bush Administration to Tehran to discuss not only the nuclear programme but also wider issues, an approach rejected by the Supreme Leader, and Washington's refusal in 2006 to join a possible deal between European powers and Iran because it was not involved in the process leading to the agreement.
Rohani also offered lessons for today's talks from his experience, notably the advice that discussions should with the "Mercedes Benz" of the US rather than the "unreliable" vehicle of the Europeans. That line complements that of Rohani's ally, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Tehran Bureau now publishes an English translation of one of the interviews with Rohani.
1500 GMT: Rumour of the Day. Etedaal posts the "untold stories" of Mohammad Jahromi, the head of Bank Saderat who was fired amid the $2.6 billion bank fraud. It claims these include the President's fears that his allies are involved in the embezzlement. Specifically, it is asserted that the nephew of Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai received money and is named in the indictment.
1206 GMT: Ahamadinejad Watch. A clip of the President's speech today in Khorasan Province has been posted. In it, Ahmadinejad says it is "enemies" and seditionists who are claiming that sanctions are affecting the Iranian economy. At the same time, he asked people to buy less in the next two months.
1200 GMT: Mystery of the Day. Iranian media is carrying a statement from the Ministry of Intelligence that four security forces and one member of the intelligence services were killed as they thwarted an assassination attempt, by Baluch separatists, on the President. Four "terrorists" were also killed.
Here's the mystery. The incident is from 2007, so why is it being promoted by the Ministry of Intelligence now?
Shahmorad Najafi and Shahqoli Ghalavand were handed over to Turkey’s gendarmerie in the southeastern province of Hatay on Friday.
Eighteen other Iranians, most of them pilgrims, who have been kidnapped in Syria were freed earlier this. However, five Iranian electrical engineers abducted in December --- and the two men sent to ascertain their situation --- are still captive.
0645 GMT: "Iran is Taking Over!" Story of the Day. Oh, dear, The New York Times is agitated, "Iran Presses for Official to Be Next Leader of Shiites":
Iran’s candidate, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, 63, [to succeed Iraq's leading Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sistani] is an Iraqi-born cleric who led the Iranian judiciary for a decade and remains a top official in the government there. With Iranian financing, his representatives have for months been building a patronage network across Iraq, underwriting scholarships for students at the many seminaries here and distributing information....
The move has raised fears that Iran is trying to extend its already extensive influence in the political and economic life of Iraq.
This story has been spiralling for weeks, less because it is an accurate assessment of the situation and more because it fits the dramatic narrative of Iran v. US rivalry in the Middle East, especially in Iraq.
Once more: the desire of Shahroudi, with his Iraqi background, to expand his influence in the Iraqi religious community is not the same as an Iran "takeover" of Shia Islam in Iraq. And even if Tehran has this sinister design, Iraqis are not just puppets on the religious and political stage.
Deep in the story is a nugget of useful analysis from former State Department official and analyst Vali Nasr, “The Iranian government cannot control who pious Shias will look to. It’s a very democratic process.”
This, however, is buried in the story. Expect more of the same in forthcoming weeks, unless a deal in the nuclear talks breaks the narrative of tension over a scheming Tehran.
0620 GMT: A slow period in Iranian politics is offering President Ahmadinejad an opportunity to loosen the binds placed on him by others within the regime.
State news agency IRNA headlines with another day in Ahmadinejad's visit to Khorasan Province in the northeast. This morning's set-piece speech --- given that the President is limited in what he can say about the nuclear talks, taken over by the Supreme Leader's office --- is about the crimes of the "occupying Zionist regime" and the silence of "the region's rulers".