Nikahang Kowsar looks at President Ahmadinejad's visit next week to New York for the United Nations General Assembly --- Statue of Liberty: "Mamouti, take your halo and go away!"
See also Iran Analysis: Assessing A Nuclear Warning from Tehran br>
Iran Feature: How Mitt Romney Got It Wrong on Tehran's "Dirty Bomb" br>
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Iran's Political Diversion br>
The Latest from Iran (19 September): Another Regime Move on Syria
2020 GMT: Economy Watch. Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has stated that "rising prices are putting people under pressure". He criticised the Goverment's management of the economy: "the President mustn’t make decisions alone".
1240 GMT: Tough Talk Alert. Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi steps up for the ritual warning, “The defense capability of the Islamic Iran [Republic] against threats by the Zionist regime has been developed to an extent that it will be able to wipe the regime off the scene"
Researchers, working under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Global Communications Studies, say in a report to be released this week that they have found functional versions of the sites of government ministries, universities and businesses on the network. They also found evidence of an already operational filtering capability.
At the core of the network was high-end equipment manufactured by the Chinese firm Huawei that is capable of sophisticated online surveillance of traffic. The network is already “internally consistent and widely reachable,” concluded the report.
0730 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The Financial Times publishes another extract from Najmeh Bozorgmehr's interview with Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.
The first extract offered Larijani's assertion that Syrian opposition groups had been in Tehran for talks, but most of this article has little beyond rhetoric --- dismissal of US Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, criticism of US policy in the Middle East.
Deeper in the article, however, is the reinforcement of our analysis of Iran's desire for resumption of high-level nuclear talks, put forth in carrot-and-stick language to the West:
I assure you that these talks can be successful and help create more security in the region. But if they try to dissuade Iran from its rights to have peaceful nuclear technology, then they will not go anywhere – before or after the US elections.
Many times the US president or secretary of state have said they recognise Iran’s right to nuclear energy. So, if [they] accept this, write it down and then we use it as a basis to push forward the talks .... What they say during the talks is different from what they say outside the talks. This is a problem.
Larijani then implied, in line with statements from President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials, that the Islamic Republic would consider a nuclear deal: Tehran would give up enrichment of uranium to 20% in exchange for recognition that it could enrich to a lower level and for a guaranteed supply of the 20% fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor:
We do not need [20 per cent enriched uranium] now. But if we need [it], we may [produce it]. Or if we can buy it from other places, then we will not produce it.
0710 GMT: Mousavi Watch. Iran Green Voice reports, from "reliable sources", that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi --- under strict house arrest since February 2011 --- was at the Tehran Heart Center for follow-up treatment on Wednesday for a few hours.
Mousavi was hospitalised three weeks ago with heart problems. He had an angioplasty and was returned the next day to his house arrest.
The website reports security measures were less stringent on this occasion, with witnesses claiming that Mousavi was greeted by patients and their relatives and that one patient bypassed security personnel to kiss Mousavi's cheeks after inquiring about his health.
0630 GMT: Amid mounting criticism of its handling of the currency situation --- with the Rial less than half its value of a year ago and a 100% gap between official and open-market rates --- the Government has finally tried to show initiative.
Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini had tried to stave off the criticism, in a closed-door session in Parliament, with the curious line that foreign exchange was not his responsibility so he could not answer questions. This did not work very well, as MPs threatened an istizah (interrogation) which could lead to Hosseini's impeachment.
So this morning State news agency IRNA headlines a declaration by Minister of Industry Mehdi Ghazanfari that the Government has decided to take control of the currency market. He specifically indicated that the Government would provide foreign exchange at official rates to importers of basic goods and raw materials, effectively halving the cost.
The Central Bank suspended the provision of the exchange a month ago, leading to goods being held up at Iranian ports and feeding the criticism of the Government. Over the last week, there had been conflicting signals over whether the Bank would resume the foreign exchange to importers of first- and second-grade items.
So far there has been on effect on the Iranian currency. Indeed, public information on the Rial is effectively suspended --- Mesghal has not updated its rate of 24260 Rials to the US dollar since Tuesday.