Beijing's purchases fell nearly a third in July from an 11-month high in June, while shipments by India, declined more than 40%.
The Indian cutback is probably linked to difficulties in insurance cover for Iranian tankers, following the European Union's imposition of sanctions on 1 July. This month Indian refiners have confirmed the first shipments from Iran, to begin in September, using Iranian cover.
The Chinese drop may be tied to a six-month US waiver from sanctions, issued on 28 June, for Beijing's reduced shipments in early 2012. A continued bounce-back in purchases might have jeopardised renewal of the waiver.
1934 GMT: Protest Watch. A different kind of protest in Isfahan, where those angered by the imprisonment of a feminist punk band painted "Free Pussy Riot" on the gates of the Russian Consulate.
The three members of Pussy Riot were each given three-year sentences last week over the lyrics of their songs, allegedly because they insulted religion.
1925 GMT: Elections Watch. Looks like an internal battle is imminent over the control of the 2013 Presidential election --- Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman of the Guardian Council, has said the Ministry of Interior is not the "organiser" of the vote, but only the "supporter" of an election staged by the people and enforcing organisations.
1005 GMT: Made-Up Story of Day. Con Coughlin of The Daily Telegraph, a long-time specialist in putting out propaganda as "news", is busy this morning:
According to Western intelligence officials, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to the elite Quds Force unit following a recent emergency meeting of Iran's National Security Council in Tehran held to discuss a specially-commissioned report into the implications for Iran of the Assad regime's overthrow.
Damascus is Iran's most important regional ally, and the survival of the Assad regime is regarded as vital to sustaining the Iranian-backed Hizbollah militia which controls southern Lebanon.
The report, which was personally commissioned by Mr Khamenei, concluded that Iran's national interests were being threatened by a combination of the U.N. sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear programme and the West's continuing support for Syrian opposition groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government.
Intelligence officials say the report concludes that Iran "cannot be passive" to the new threats posed to its national security, and warns that Western support for Syrian opposition groups was placing Iran's "resistance alliance" in jeopardy, and could seriously disrupt Iran's access to Hizbollah in Lebanon.
It advised that the Iranian regime should demonstrate to the West that there were "red lines" over what it would accept in Syria, and that a warning should be sent to "America, the Zionists, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others that they cannot act with impunity in Syria and elsewhere in the region."
Mr Khamenei responded by issuing a directive to Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force commander, to intensify attacks against the West and its allies around the world.
0935 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (North Korean Edition). The news site Yonhap says it has confirmation from a South Korean official that North Korea's Kim Jong Un will not be attending the 30-31 August summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran: "We verified from Iran's Foreign Ministry that the report is not true."
The site explains how the excitement of a Kim Jong Un visit arose from a mis-communication:
German news agency DPA reported...that Kim would attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran from Aug. 26 to 31, citing local news media.
"Findings through various diplomatic channels to Iran have shown so far that it is not a fact," [a South Korean] official said on condition of anonymity.
The name of Kim Jong-un is being circulated among Iranian news media, but they may have mistakenly interpreted the mention of a visit by a "North Korean leader" to mean him, he said.
Another official at the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean issues, raised the possibility that Iranian media confused Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's ceremonial head of state, and Kim Jong-il, the de facto leader.
If the Iran government said "the top North Korean leader" will attend, it could mean Kim Yong-nam, the official said, referring to the title, rather than a name, listed as an attendee for the Iran summit.
"Under the North Korean Constitution, the head of state externally representing the North is Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly," the Unification Ministry official said.
0910 GMT: The most significant news on Tuesday evening may have been the development that Iranian officials will again meet with the International Atomic Energy Agency, hoping to resolve "outstanding issues" over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme; however, the most exciting announcement was that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be coming to Tehran for the Non-Aligned Movement's summit on 30-31 August.
There is a possible complication: the story, which was the headline on Press TV before the confirmation of the meeting with the IAEA on Friday in Vienna, has now disappeared from the website. However, Fars News English is still putting out the report:
Mohammad Reza Forqani, the spokesman of the NAM summit, said on Tuesday that Kim will make his first foreign visit --- since his appointment as the leader of Democratic People's Republic of Korea --- to Tehran.
Iran and North Korea have always had close relations, and the visit by the North Korean leader shows the two countries' willingness to strengthen their interactions, Forqani told Tabnak news website.