Patrick Nyoike, Permanent Secretary at the Energy Ministry, said the two governments signed the memorandum of understanding for the purchase last month.
1954 GMT: One Mistaken Story is Unfortunate, Two Is... (Egypt Edition). Last week, Fars carried a disputed headline story that it had interviewed new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The claim spiralled into an open fight with State news agency IRNA, which denounced Fars' fake conversation with Morsi.
Now Morsi's spokesman Yasser Ali has denied the report, carried in Fars and other Iranian media, that Morsi will visit Tehran in August and discuss bilateral relations with President Ahmadinejad.
The story was apparently based on a news report in Lebanese daily Al-Safir, which published Tuesday morning that Morsi planned to visit Iran to attend a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.
1924 GMT: Confidence or Concern? Press TV has more on President Ahmadinejad's speech today (see 1440 GMT), with his injunction to the Iranian people, “We should consider the embargo as an opportunity to cut this amount of the country’s budget reliance on oil and seize oil, as a sanction weapon, from the hands of the enemy forever."
Ahmadinejad pointed out that the reason for the elimination of the sanctions was not because they were effective: "The enemy’s speculation that embargoes can place Iran in a weak position is wrong and stems from mere materialistic calculations.” However, they should still be resisted; “We should persevere against the pressures and proudly pass through this juncture and respond to the enemy’s antagonistic policies by vigorously enduring the embargoes."
Meanwhile, 220 of Iran's 290 MPs have issued a statement to declare the completely ineffecive European Union ban on Iranian oil supplies as "vindictive".
1824 GMT: Oil Watch. An important note in a Reuters overview of sanctions and Iran's oil trade: "According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran needs oil at $117 a barrel to balance its budget, set at $462 billion."
Additional points: 1. That estimate was made before the recent sharp drop in Iranian exports, estimated at more than 40% of its 2011 level of 2.5 million barrels per day. 2. The present oil prices is about $98 per barrel.
1808 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Egyptian Front). The Islamic Republic is continuing to press its strategy of an alliance with the post-Mubarak Egypt to "shape the balance" of the Middle East. At a press conference today, Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor to the Supreme Leader, hailed the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi as President, calling it a development “aimed at reviving the Islamic values".
Velayati continued, “The commonalities of Iran and the emerging Egypt are more than before; therefore, this victory is considered as the dawn of a grand victory in the entire Arab and Muslim world....Throughout the contemporary history, Egypt has always been the forerunner of politico-ideological movements in the entire Arab world; therefore Egypt is of a paramount importance."
In February 2011, just after the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, the Supreme Leader claimed Egypt was following the model of Iran's 1979 revolution.
Press TV adds the gloss, "In recent years, the Republic of Azerbaijan has turned into a convenient hub for dealings, activities, and interactions for spies and terrorists linked to Israel."
The President offered no details beyond the rhetoric.
1330 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Journalist Scott Peterson updates on the technical talks in Geneva, with the status of Iran's second uranium enrichment facility at Fordoo on the table:
Iranian source close to #Iran -P5+1 mtg in Istanbul says P5+1 focused on 20% enrichment & closing Fordow, unsure yet of "tangible results"— Scott Peterson (@peterson__scott) July 3, 2012
1240 GMT: Immigrant Watch. Kalemeh reports that officials in Fars and other provinces have asked businesses to check the residency status of foreign nationals before allowing them to purchase goods and services.
Bakeries, taxis, and grocery stores are among the firms expected to verify the legal resident status of their customers. Those who are unable to provide satisfactory documents will be denied service.>
One official even called on ordinary citizens to check other people's IDs because of "health concerns".
0919 GMT: Nuclear Watch. An early sign from journalist Scott Peterson that there will be no movement at today's technical talks between Iran and the 5+1 Powers, with the latter offering no prospect of concessions to the Iranian position:
At Istanbul #Iran-P5+1 "technical mtg" finished 1st session w/P5+1 restating their prop: end 20% then all enrichment; no sanctions relief— Scott Peterson (@peterson__scott) July 3, 2012
Al-Bijari said the volume of trade between Iran and Iraq has doubled from $7 billion to $14 billion in a year. She asserted that the Iraqi economy would be affected by the inability of people to spend such a large amount on imported goods.
The Iraqi Central Bank has accused Syria and Iran of deliberately emptying the Iraqi market of foreign currencies and withdrawing large amounts of cash, through increasing trade, with the outcome of weakening the Iraqi dinar against the US dollar.
0838 GMT: Expert of the Day. Tehran-based Mohammad Ali Shahbani reinforces the regime line, in an analysis for Al-Monitor, that the Islamic Republic has the experience and capabilities to survive and even prevail in the nuclear standoff" despite sanctions:
Having concluded that its adversaries are “running out of bullets,” Iran is set to become bolder. It will certainly act reticent in upcoming technical talks (July 3) in Istanbul -- though not enough to collapse dialogue. The Islamic Republic’s basic calculation is that in this marathon, the best route to secure its interests is to continue changing facts on the ground to gain terms as favorable as possible in an expected final accord. The question is if President Obama will tolerate the escalation triggered in part by his own administration’s hard-line posture, and if he can deliver the concessions necessary to push dialogue forward, should he be re-elected.
The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear program escalates.
The deployments are part of a long-planned effort to bolster the American military presence in the gulf region, in part to reassure Israel that in dealing with Iran, as one senior administration official put it last week, “When the president says there are other options on the table beyond negotiations, he means it.”....
The most visible elements of this buildup are Navy ships designed to vastly enhance the ability to patrol the Strait of Hormuz — and to reopen the narrow waterway should Iran attempt to mine it to prevent Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters from sending their tankers through the vital passage.
The Navy has doubled the number of minesweepers assigned to the region, to eight vessels, in what military officers describe as a purely defensive move.
“The message to Iran is, ‘Don’t even think about it,’ ” one senior Defense Department official said. “Don’t even think about closing the strait. We’ll clear the mines. Don’t even think about sending your fast boats out to harass our vessels or commercial shipping. We’ll put them on the bottom of the gulf.” Like others interviewed, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the diplomatic and military situation.
Since late spring, stealthy F-22 and older F-15C warplanes have moved into two separate bases in the Persian Gulf to bolster the combat jets already in the region and the carrier strike groups that are on constant tours of the area. Those additional attack aircraft give the United States military greater capability against coastal missile batteries that could threaten shipping, as well as the reach to strike other targets deeper inside Iran.
And the Navy, after a crash development program, has moved a converted amphibious transport and docking ship, the Ponce, into the Persian Gulf to serve as the Pentagon’s first floating staging base for military operations or humanitarian assistance.
0620 GMT: Tough Talk of the Week. The Iranian military maintains the propaganda beat this morning, announcing that it has fired long- , medium- , and short-term missiles at simulated "enemy bases" in the desert during its three-day exercise.
Revolutionary Guards Commander Hossein Salami said the missiles were a response to those who, speaking to the Iranian people, talked of "all options on the table" to deal with the nuclear situation.
0520 GMT: It is easy to overlook, given the propaganda and mis-information --- from the Islamic Republic's IRNA to The Washington Post --- given missile tests and threats to close the Straits of Hormuz, but there are technical talks in Istanbul today between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China) on uranium enrichment.
At this point, the discussions offer little for optimism. They are more of a face-saver to avoid a declaration of break-down after the formal negotiations in Moscow last month than an advance towards an agreement. Still, they are taking place and --- for what it's worth --- Iran's Press TV takes a break from the propaganda to provide a straightforward announcement.