Mehr shows how Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz with its missiles --- an interactive infographic has also been posted
2049 GMT: Economy Watch. We started today with good-news stories from Fars about 5000 Iranians registering to buy the new automobile of the Iran Khodro Company and a "quality appreciation certificate" presented to Khodro by Renault (see 0600 GMT). We end today with this different perspective from AFP:
Iran's auto production fell by more than 36 percent over the past three months, the industry ministry was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying on Saturday, citing "lack of money".
Production fell to about 241,500 vehicles in the first quarter of the Iranian year (March 21 to June 20), according to the figures.
Iran built more than 1.5 million vehicles in 2011/2012.
The decline coincides with the halt of parts deliveries to Iran by French manufacturer Peugeot because of Western sanctions.
2033 GMT: Energy Watch. Fars asks a tricky question about the National Gas Export Company, which has been dissolved (see 0706 GMT): when it was launched 10 years ago, it had a budget of billions of Toman and was supported by national assets --- what happened to them?
2027 GMT: Rallying Cry of the Day. Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, combines football and Islamic history in his call to the people: "We are in a critical situation --- the 90th minute --- but we are near victory over Moavieh (the killer of the 2nd Imam]. People must be even more patient."
2016 GMT: Reformist Watch. Mohammad Reza Aref, a deputy to former President Mohammad Khatami, has said that if conditions for participation in the 2013 Parliamentary elections are favourable, then politicians should be involved. He said the priority is "people's participation".
1537 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps naval commander Ali Fadavi has declared, "If they (the US) do not obey international laws and the IRGC's warnings, it will have very bad consequences for them. The IRGC's naval forces have had the ability since the (Iran-Iraq) war to completely control the Strait of Hormuz and not allow even a single drop of oil to pass through."
1522 GMT:. (Don't Show the) Economy Watch. This week we have been noting issues over the rising cost of chicken. Now Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the head of Iran's police, has explained, "Showing people who eat chicken in films is bad education --- it causes poor people to stab the rich."
An EA correspondent starts off our Chicken-in-Films analysis with this still from Charlie Chaplin's Gold Rush:
1510 GMT: All-Is-Well Alert. Minister of Oil Rustam Qassemi declares, “These sanctions are more economic in nature to transfer the pressure to the people and the enemy has certainly reached the conclusion that physical confrontation with the Islamic Republic will have no result....Although the enemies may cause problems for the development of the country’s oil industry with regards to cost and time, they will never succeed in keeping us from achieving our goals.”
1445 GMT: The Battle Within. Back from a break to find a bit of a scrap at the press conference of Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei --- when a reporter from the pro-Ahmadinejad IRNA asked about Article 113 of the Constitution, he was expelled.
The reason? The Guardian Council cited that article this week when it declared Ahmadinejad's Supervisory Council for the Constitution was illegal.
1155 GMT: Economy Watch. Earlier this week we reported the statement by Minister of Economy Mohammad Hosseini:
Our country is not in a position to allow the media to publish news or analysis which is not compatible with the regime's and national interests," the culture minister said in remarks reported by media that first appeared on the dolat.ir government news website (link in Persian). "The situation regarding sanctions and other pressures, especially in economy ...requires more cooperation by the media so the country is not hurt.
Now The Los Angeles Times adds first-hand details from Iranian journalists:
An editor at one Iranian economic daily, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the topic, told The Times that censors had warned the top editor to avoid publishing negative headlines about the impact of sanctions. The editor, said the source, was urged to switch to more positive headlines. As an example of a desired headline, the censor cited the following, he said: “Iran is developing oil fields, says oil minister.”
In some cases, the censors’ warning was a bit more veiled. A reporter working at an Iranian media outlet, who also requested anonymity, told The Times that the organization had been sent a letter from the government media supervisory department telling journalists to pay “special attention” to topics that show the dark side of the Iranian economy.
“Special attention,” added the source, was taken to mean stay away from publishing reports about price hikes and the effect of sanctions.
1004 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). "Cyber-Hezbollah" at a conference declaring that they are the "first line of resistance" in support of the Syria regime:
JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. and Idemitsu Kosan Co. will carry about 1.7 million barrels of Iranian crude on the Ryuho Maru about 20 July at Kharg Island, the Islamic Republic’s largest oil-export terminal, according to three officials from the refiners and Japan’s Ministry of Trade.
European Union's sanctions, imposed on 1 July, blocked insurance coverage of Iranian tankers. The Japanese Parliament passed a bill on 20 June to provide $7.6 billion of guarantees, but shipments have been suspended while details were arranged.
The programme gives ship owners sovereign guarantees to replace reinsurance that Japan’s P&I club previously obtained under a claims-sharing agreement with the London-based International Group of P&I Clubs, according to a statement from the Ministry of Transport.
Japan’s Iranian crude imports in May were 51% down, at 128,253 barrels a day, on the 2011 level.
The decision was made "due to a decrease in sales volumes of Iranian gas to the world markets".
0703 GMT: Reformist Watch. Majid Mohtashami, a spokesman for the Mardomsalari Front, has announced that its new name is the Reformist Front. He said that about 50 reformist parties exist in Iran, and each will choose 10 delegates for a conference to choose a candidate for the 2013 Presidential election.
0657 GMT: Setting a Price. It appears that Khatam al-Nabia, the engineering firm of the Revolutionary Guards, has drawn a line on its services --- Ziaeddin Hozni, head of its Kowsar Construction Headquarters has said that the company will not entertain projects below 300 billion Toman (about $245 million at official rate).
0651 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times offers an overview of the economic and political effect of long-time US sanctions on replacement parts for Iranian aircraft:
While many Iranians are quick to blame their own leaders for the country’s growing isolation, almost everyone is upset over the American measures against Iran’s airlines.
“I support the pressure on our leaders,” said Janet, a 54-year-old homemaker who did not want to give her full name, for fear of the authorities. “But I don’t understand why the U.S. wants to hurt us, normal people. Don’t we have the right to travel safely?”
0645 GMT: Economy Watch. The "hard-line" Mashregh News offers a distinctive story of inflation --- it claims difficulties for 50,000 clerical students in Qom. The site says the protests of Ayatollahs over the problem have been futile, and some students are now working part-time.
0618 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Press TV uses American media and the words of a former US Navy Commander for its tale of Iranian strength vs. the American foe, drawing from a Christian Science Monitor story on Wednesday:
The Iranian mini-submarines are “a huge problem for us,” [said] retired Navy Commander Christopher Harmer, who was the director of future operations for the US Navy Fifth Fleet, stationed in Bahrain, from 2008 to 2009....
“They are a threat to us because they can disperse them throughout the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, and it’s extremely difficult for us to track them,” he added.
0600 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Iranian State and regime-linked media continue to search for any scrap of news that sanctions are hurting the West more than Tehran. IRNA's lead story this morning is of a supposed declaration by the ambassadors of Italy, Brazil and Vietnam that the European Union's cut-off oil imports from Iran will have an adverse impact, with tension in the global market.
Fars' English-language service prefers the good-news tale of 5000 Iranians registering to buy the Runna, the second branded automobile of the Iran Khodro Company. And there is the report that Renault "dedicated [a] quality appreciation certificate to Iran-Khodro Company...for its progressive efforts to improve the quality of IKCO Tondar 90".