Solaimani was detained just after the 2009 Presidential election and charged with spreading lies, disturbing public opinion, and propaganda against the regime.
2015 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Muhammad Sahimi has provided a translation of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's interview with Jomhouri Eslami about the nuclear talks. Like others within the regime, Rafsanjani portrays the Obama Administration --- despite its weapon of sanctions --- as dealing from weakness, in this case setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, his assessment of tactics in last week's Baghdad discussions is a shrewd assessment, rather than a promotion of Islamic Republic triumph or US perfidy:
It appears that they [the P5+1] are united for the negotiations. Even China and Russia have said that Iran must stop uranium enrichment. In the past they never applied such pressure, and this has made the situation somewhat difficult.
After the Istanbul meeting [on 14 April], both Iran and the West made statements that created false optimism. We wanted to create some hope in the country, and the Westerners, due to the economic problems that they have, needed the negotiations. But it became clear in Baghdad that things are not that way. We still do not have complete information, and it is not easy to evaluate and analyze. What is clear is that they have come forward with the weapon of sanctions and say that, using them, we have forced Iran to come to the negotiation table.
1813 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Unsurprisingly, President Ahmadinejad was downbeat on Wednesday when asked by France 24 television about discussions with the West, "We are not expecting miracles at the next nuclear meeting in Moscow."
Ahmadinejad has been at the forefront in pursuing a deal on uranium enrichment in the past, but he was sidelined by the Supreme Leader's office in this negotiation, and his allies had been sniping at the process when it opened in Istanbul in mid-April.
Ahmadinejad said that Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent “is our right” and “is not a step towards a bomb". At the same time, he kept the door open --- if he had any influence --- for a deal in which Iran would be assured of a supply of fuel in exchange for giving up the 20% process: “[The 5+1 Powers] should provide us with uranium at 20 percent enrichment level, but so far they have not done so.”
1734 GMT: Executions Watch. The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has said she is ""deeply concerned" about an "alarming increase" in the use of the death penalty this year in Iran, calling on the Islamic Republic to introduce a moratorium on executions.
In a statement issued by her spokesman, Ashton said, "According to the latest data, compiled from a number of sources, the rate of executions in Iran during the first 5 months of 2012 confirmed the country as one of the world's leading users of the death penalty."
In May, Iranian media said 15 people were hanged --- 14 who faced charges of drug trafficking and Majid Jamali Fashi, a former kickboxer, accused of working for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and assassinating a nuclear scientist in January 2010.
1700 GMT: Justice Watch. Ali Kamrani, the father of a post-election protester who died in Kahrizak detention centre, has said that a complaint against Saeed Mortazavi --- Tehran Prosecutor General in 2009, now a Presidential advisor --- will be filed in late June.
1700 GMT: Currency Watch. Back from an extended academic break to find that the Iranian Rial has slipped further today. Khabar Online puts the currency at 17880:1 vs. the US dollar a 1.7% fall; Mesghal has the Rial at 17680:1.
Tokyo will load about 123,000 barrels per day in May from Iran, after 119,000 bpd in April. In the first three months of 2012 Japan took 305,114 bpd.
The decline from Japan has been offset by sharp increases from China, which bought 50% more oil in April after resolution of problems over payments, and from South Korea, which imported 60% more.
However, analysts believe the reprieve for Iran is temporary. South Korea is thought to be stockpiling oil ahead of European Union sanctions on 1 July which will seriously affect insurance for tankers carrying Iranian crude.
0810 GMT: Un-Diplomacy Watch. The US Government is using the Syrian crisis, and a mis-timed declaration by a Revolutionary Guards commander, to pile pressure on Tehran.
Earlier this week, Esmail Ghani, the deputy head of the Quds Forces of the Guards, told the Iranian Students News Agency that Iranian forces had a "physical and non-physical" presence in Syria, and that if this had not occurred, "the killing of citizens would be greater".
The interview was soon withdrawn by ISNA, but not before other Iranian sites had published the declaration. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland seized on the revelation on Tuesday: "We find it interesting that it was on this very weekend that the deputy head of the Quds force decided to take credit for the advice they're giving to Syria."
Then Nuland linked the Iranian and Syrian situations through comparison of Iran's Basij militia and Syria's "shabiha", plainclothes enforcers for the regime:
The Iranians have clearly supplied support and training and advice to the Syrian army, but this Shabiha thug force mirrors the same force that the Iranians use. The Basij and the Shabiha are the same type of thing and clearly reflects the tactics and the techniques that the Iranians use for their own suppression of civil rights.
It was Assad and his regime that created this Shabiha force to begin with. It very much models the Iranian Basij model where they hire young guys to indiscriminately wreak vengeance and do this kind of hand-to-hand violence.
0755 GMT: Justice Watch. It appears that one of the senior officials implicated in the abuses and killings at the Kahrizak detention centre in summer 2009 is finally going to pay a price, albeit over other matters.
Ali Akbar Heydarifar, a judge who worked with Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi, was arrested last month for waving a gun at a gasoline station after customers complained that he jumped the queue for service. Now the allegations are more serious --- drugs were supposedly found in his car and antiquities and large amounts of gold coins in his home.
Mortazavi, despite criticism from some MPs, has escaped prosecution so far for his role in Kahrizak. Now an advisor to President Ahmadinejad, he was recently named head of the Social Security Fund.
Sanctions aimed at crippling Iran have been “very good for business,” at least on the shady side of informal banking, says a grey-market currency trader in Tehran.
“A few thousand dollars is easy, even a few million dollars is no problem,” Sattar, the trader, smilingly confirms....
Iranians seeking a few thousand dollars for a shopping spree in Dubai, or a few million to backstop an import deal, find their way to traders like Sattar. Wise to the risks of flouting Iran’s laws and fixed exchange rates, he laughingly gives the Persian name for “the concealer” to a visiting journalist.
“I’ve friends in the Philippines, in Dubai, even in Europe,” he says of an ad hoc network in international-currency traders operating on the margins of the law. “We can move a lot of money and it isn’t just coming and going in suitcases,” he said.
An interesting story, but what matters is perception. And Koring's generalisation --- "An array of sanctions, some stretching back decades, have distorted, but hardly crippled Iran’s economy" --- is not shared by other observers and officials from Washington to London to Paris. That is why, despite the Sattars, the US and its allies are taking the hard line in the nuclear talks, believing they have the Islamic Republic in an economic squeeze.