1355 GMT: Justice Watch. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi, speaking to the “Human Rights and National Security” summit, has claimed that the "architect" of the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists has been identified and arrested.
Moslehi said earlier this week that 20 people were arrested in connection with the cases, and the Ministry had claimed that “the key perpetrators" of the assassinations of Majid Shahriari and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan had been detained.
Moslehi also claimed that Iran had blocked the US, Israel, and the British intelligence service MI6 from carrying out a "massive cyber attack against Iran's facilities" after the Moscow nuclear talks. He added, "They still seek to carry out the plan, but we have taken necessary measures."
1345 GMT: Rumour Watch (Syrian Edition). The sensational story that Russia, China, and Iran were planning joint military exercises with Syrian forces, involving hundreds of tanks and aircraft, appeared to have faded, having been denied by the Russian and Syrian Governments.
So how did the claim emerge? It was carried by Iranian news agency Fars as "fact", but they appear to have picked it up from elsewhere.
Their source? A Syrian website Sham Life, registered in Damascus, appears to have started the tall tale.
1330 GMT: Nuclear Watch. State media is still muted about the nuclear talks (see 0505 GMT), but former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has said the "West" were "not sincere" in negotiations: "The talks proved that the Western side...are not honest. They have based their policy on bullying alone,”
President Ahmadinejad, in Brazil, was quoted by State TV as saying, "Arrogant and domination-seeking parties should avoid enmity toward the Iranian nation,” claiming Tehran had offered “legal, constructive, fair and friendly proposals".
Not to be cynical, but it really doesn’t matter that the latest talks with Iran came up empty.
Outnumbered six to one, Iranian negotiators did a classic job in Moscow earlier this week of defending past positions, raising old grievances and demanding concessions that they knew they would not get. US officials offered little and got nothing in return — but cannot be accused of “appeasement” in a presidential election year.
Even though US officials maintain that they are not talking for talks’ sake, they surely know that talking is better than many alternatives and that the exercise is not without merit. The Barack Obama administration has made enormous progress in consolidating an international coalition against the Iranian nuclear program. Holding these talks helps keep that coalition together.
0915 GMT: Meeting the Iranian People Watch. The third installment in Nicholas Kristof's record of his journey across Iran is superficial, with the awful headline, "In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun". However, this moment provides an insight far beyond Kristof's emphasis on Iranians sharing the "American values [of] seeking fun rather than fanaticism:
This man had joined the 2009 democracy protests, but then, he said, he was detained and beaten for several days, losing a tooth in the process. That soured him on political activism, and, like many others, he now just wants to go abroad.
Then there is Kristof's conclusion:
My road trip across Iran leaves me convinced that change will come here, too, if we just have the patience not to disrupt the subterranean forces at work: rising education, an expanding middle class, growing economic frustration, erosion of the government monopoly on information. My hunch is that if there is no war between Iran and the West — which would probably strengthen the regime — hard-liners will go the way of Mao, and Iran will end up looking something like Turkey.
EA correspondent Sam Razi notes an earlier column by Kristof and responds:
He seems to miss the irony of this statement given that, in his previous piece, he indicated that he was for the sanctions. The sanctions are harming these "subterranean forces" as we speak.
0730 GMT: Nuclear Watch. A couple of telling snapshots in summaries of the Moscow talks --- Reuters offers an insight both into the Western spin (it's all Tehran's fault) and the decision to go through technical talks on 3 July:
"It really does seem like the Iranians just haven't made the decision to accept limits on their nuclear program," a Western diplomat said.
"If they haven't made that decision then all the talking in the world really isn't going to get us anywhere."
"Iran really pressed for this experts meeting and Russia wanted it so we agreed to do it. It doesn't feel to us like there is a lot of progress that is going to be made even there.
"(But) nobody is going to shut the door entirely."
Babak Ravid's article in the Israeli daily Haaretz is more propaganda than substance, fed by another Western diplomat, but it offers this bit of diplomatic comedy:
One odd moment occurred on the second day of the discussions, when the Iranians announced that they were willing to discuss an initiative broached by Russia's President Vladimir Putin regarding the nuclear dispute.
Delegates from the six powers began passing notes among themselves in an effort to ascertain what Putin's initiative actually said. Some of the diplomats in the conference room sent text messages to colleagues outside, asking that they conduct Google searches to see whether Putin had sponsored an initiative they didn't know about.
After a few minutes of searches, it became clear that the initiative in question was actually an article published by Putin four months ago, during his presidential campaign. Putin stated in the article that Iran should be allowed to enrich uranium under certain restrictions, to be monitored and enforced by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agitated Russian delegation hastily explained that this article was not a formal diplomatic initiative and bore no relevance to the diplomatic negotiations then underway.
0505 GMT: We began yesterday by noting the lack of reaction in Iranian State media to the Moscow nuclear talks.
That is still true on one level today: there is an absence of comment from the Islamic Republic's leaders to the lack of progress, with the impending threat of further sanctions. The Supreme Leader's office has offered no line, President Ahmadinejad is giving no response during his visit to South America, and others like Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- in contrast to his strident declarations just before Moscow --- are silent.
It is left to Fars and a member of Parliament's National Security Committee, Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, to put out a statement:
The goal of Russia's negotiations was that the two groups reach a common point, but it seems that the negotiating team [of the 5+1 Powers --- US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia] is not so interested in reaching a common point. The negotiations between Iran and the G5+1 in Russia showed that the group uses the tactic of double-standard practice against Iran's nuclear policies," he said, and reiterated "This tactic is evidently on their agenda.
Apparently the regime --- which faces the pressure from the "West" but has also committed itself to technical talks on 3 July with the 5+1 Powers, thus avoiding a complete breakdown of the negotiations --- is deciding whether to show a sign of remaining hope or to turn its face against the "enemy".
Meanwhile, State media brings in others to show Iran's concern. This morning Press TV highlights a French call for tougher sanctions and the comment of a Chinese analyst, "US Seeks to Turn N-case Into Crisis", while IRNA leads with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon asking both Iran and the 5+1 to "show flexibiity".