1755 GMT: Currency Watch. Central Bank head Mahmoud Bahmani has announced a Bank portal to retrace moves in the official rate for foreign exchange, indicating there will be a halt to sales on the open market.
1750 GMT: All the President's Men (cont.). MP Mohammad Bayatiani has contested the claim that 164 MPs --- more than half the Majlis --- have supported controversial Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi in his position as head of the re-formed Social Security Organization (see 1515 GMT) is "an obvious lie". He said the legislators had given thanks to the Organization, not Mortazavi.
1532 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Detained activist Mohammad Tavasoli has protested against his charges by refusing to defend himself in an "illegal court".
Tavasoli, a member of Iran’s Freedom Movement Party and Tehran’s first mayor after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, challenged the legitimacy of the proceedings on Monday: "With my years of service and experience in guarding the fundamentals and ideals of the revolution as well as national interests, I do not feel I should mount a defense in a case that has no legal justification and whose outcome has already been determined."
Tavasoli was arrested in November 2011 over a letter written by 143 political activists to former president Mohammad Khatami about the disputed 2009 Presidential election.
1515 GMT: All the President's Men. OK, so you're facing a long-standing court order to resign as head of an important Government agency, over the small matter of possible charges for your role in the abuse and killing of detainees --- what do you do?
The appointment of Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi as head of the Social Security Fund was challenged soon after it was announced early this year. Politicians and the Administrative Court claimed Mortazavi was implicated, as then Tehran Prosecutor General, in the abuses and deaths at the Kahrizak detention centre in summer 2009. Only this week the head of the Court said Mortazavi would step down.
So the Government has changed the Social Security Fund to the Social Security Organization. Mortazavi’s lawyer claims that, with the new charter, the order against Mortazavi’s appointment at the "old" agency has been executed and his client can remain in his position as director of the "new" body.
Will the ruse work? Well, 164 of the 290 members of Parliament have signed a letter thanking the Government.
1425 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syrian Watch). Looks like Tehran is going to quickly skip past the anti-climax of the contact group meeting in Cairo (see 1332 GMT) --- Press TV posts "Breaking News" that Foreign Minister Salehi is going to Damascus on Wednesday.
1341 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syrian Watch). Khabar Online has an interesting shift in attention to Syria, featuring an analysis from Mohammad Ali Mohtadi which asserts, "Assad is Not Falling", but takes a long look at the opposition.
1332 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syrian Watch). Khabar Online is far from upbeat about the first Foreign Ministers' meeting of the new contact group --- Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia --- noting that the Saudis were absent and "there was no clear result".
Egypt's State news agency MENA put out the holding line that the group agreed to more consultations in New York, on the sidelines of leaders' addresses to the United Nations General Assembly later this month.
However, Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr hinted at the lack of progress, "It is too early to say we have come up with any specifics. He said the Saudi Foreign Minister "had previous commitments".
1315 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Yet more confirmation of the Islamic Republic's push to resume talks over its nuclear programme, this time through renewal of its discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency over inspection and supervision.
Press TV highlights the brief statement of IAEA head Yukiya Amano after a meeting with Fereydoun Abbasi Davani on the sidelines of the IAEA annual meeting: "I confirmed to Dr. Abbasi that the Agency is committed to continued dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran and expressed the readiness of Agency negotiators to meet with Iran in the near future."
Talks between the IAEA and Iranian officials earlier this month failed to reach agreement on both general arrangements and specific terms for inspection of the Parchin military site. The Agency wants to verify if there are high-explosive containers which could be used in development of a nuclear weapons programme.
The Rial has slipped on Monday at 24950:1, close to its all-time low reached earlier this month.
0805 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has proposed that the four members of a new "contact group" --- Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey --- send observers to "monitor the process of stopping the violence in Syria" "to help the process of fundamental reforms and finding a democratic approach".
Salehi put forth the initiative at the first meeting of the group's Foreign Ministers in Cairo in Monday.
Salehi appealed for "a simultanous halt in clashes and violence by the sides in Syria [and] insisted on a peaceful solution without foreign intevervention and a halt to financial, military and training support for the Syrian opposition," according to Iranian State news agency.
0745 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Press TV backs up our analysis of Tehran's push to resume talks on its nuclear progammme (see 0515 GMT)....
International media highlighted the statement of the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Fereydoun Abbasi Davani to the International Atomic Energy Agency alleging "terrorist and saboteur" infiltration of the IAEA and claiming power lines were cut to Iran's uranium enrichment. In contrast, Press TV headlines, "Iran Has No Intention of Enriching Uranium Above 20% Level":
Abbasi told reporters on Monday that Iran started producing 20 percent enriched uranium when it could not obtain fuel for Tehran Research Reactor from the international market due to the sanctions imposed against the country....
The head of AEOI said most of Iran's enrichment activities are conducted at the 3.5 percent level but added that in the future, Tehran will determine its enrich level according to its needs.
Press TV also summarises a statement by Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, "Unilateral Sanctions Hinder Iran Talks".
0645 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). It looks like Sunday's remarks by Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari have not confirmed Iran's military presence in Damascus but have exposed a serious division within the regime over its approach to the Syrian crisis.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Monday, "Reports by some Arabic and Western media, citing...Jafari were selective, false, and with political aims. Iran has no military presence in the region, especially in Syria."
The Foreign Ministry's statement reinforces our view that Jafari's intervention challenged and undermined a diplomatic approach --- favoured not only by the Ministry but by President Ahmadinejad --- in which Iran would be involved in negotiations for a resolution to the conflict.
0515 GMT: Monday was a day of statements and manoevures over Iran's nuclear programme.The head of the Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, used a presentation to the International Atomic Energy Agency to respond to the IAEA's resolution last week of "serious concern" over Tehran's activity, with demands for the inspection of nuclear facilities. He said the IAEA had been infiltrated by "terrorists and saboteurs", with power lines to both of Iran's uranium enrichment plants cut last month.
Abbasi Davani's statement follows a challenge on Sunday by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. Addressing the Majlis, Larijani said the IAEA resolution --- which initially had been chided as "weak" and lacking consensus by Iranian officials --- raised doubts about Iran's accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Larijani pondered, "The recent resolution by the Board of Governors raises this question for the public: What is the benefit of the NPT and membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency for countries? If Iran had not been committed to the NPT, would Western countries have taken other measures?".
The Speaker alleged, "The main text of the resolution was definitely drafted by a few Western countries. It seems that certain tyrannical countries made their intention to make excessive demands at the 5+1 talks [between Iran and the US-Britain-France-Germany-China-Russia] more public with insistence on the adoption of the resolution."
Yet, for all the public denunciation of the "West" and the IAEA, Iran also signalled on Monday that it was looking for a resumption of high-level talks, last held in June. The Islamic Republic's lead negotiator, Saeed Jalili, met Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Monday, apparently sounding out possibilities before Jalili has dinner with his 5+1 counterpart, the European Union's Catherine Ashton, on Tuesday night.