Nikahang Kowsar links last night's shutdown of Google and Gmail in Iran to President Ahmadinejad's trip to the US
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Iran Analysis: Daughter in Prison, Son Back in Tehran --- What Now for Ex-President Rafsanjani?
2030 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The US Treasury has officially designated the National Iranian Oil Company as "an agent or affiliate" of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, supporting Washington's pursuit of new sanctions on foreign banks dealing with the NIOC.
The Treasury told Congress that there was not enough information at this time to conclude that the National Iranian Tanker Company is linked to the IRGC.
1334 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has said that Tehran has offered to halt the enrichment of uranium to 20% in return for easing of sanctions.
Soltanieh said in an interview that Iran lead nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, made the offer at a four-hour dinner with his counterpart for the 5+1 Powers, European Union foreign policy head Catherine Ashton, in Istanbul last Wednesday.
“We are prepared to suspend enrichment to 20%, provided we find a reciprocal step compatible with it. We said this in Istanbul," Soltanieh said.
At the same time, Soltanieh repeated that Iran would not close its second uranium enrichment at Fordoo, part of the US-European "stop, shut, and ship" plan that has been put to Iran throughout high-level talks to this year. “It’s impossible if they expect us to close Fordow,” the envoy said.
Responding to the American claim that Fordoo's operation is a barrier to any agreement, as it can only be used for enrichment to 20%, Soltainieh pointed to Iran's increasing conversion of its uranium stockpile for fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor as “the most important thing in the [IAEA] report [of 30 August]".
1248 GMT: CyberWatch. State outlet Press TV supports the regime's blocking of Google and Gmail with the claim from "analyst" Sara Marusek that Google, through the videos on YouTube, is "entrenched in Zionist ethics and politics":
Due to EU and US-backed sanctions Seoul --- one of Iran's biggest customers --- had stopped importing Iranian crude in July and August.
Mohammad Ali Pourmokhtar, the head of Parliament's Articl 90 Commission, has said that it is ready to publish a full report on the "sedition" after the 2009 Presidential election, including the role of Mehdi Hashemi.
Pourmokhtar said the preliminary report, published last year, has 38 pages, but the full report has 700.
1200 GMT: More Military Posturing. Sticking with the theme of "impregnable Iran", Fars English is reporting a rush of views from senior military officials and politicians.
Commenting on US-backed minesweeping exercises in the region, the top commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari declared, "The enemy is not aware of our war methods, specially asymmetric methods...[and] are unlikely to be able to get prepared for encountering our Armed Forces' new methods."
Meanwhile, Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi boasts of “increasing mobility and operational movement of the armed forces” thanks to new military vehicles. According to Fars, “Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran's wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor, specially at a time of heightened threats by the US.”
President Ahmadinejad has also taken the opportunity of his visit to the UN to emphasise “Iranians' Full Preparedness to Repel Enemy Attacks.”
Javad Karimi Qoddosi, a member of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, has stated that "the least foolishness by the Zionist regime will lead to their annihilation".
Earlier this month the Rial --- which stands at 12260:1 in official rates --- hit an all-time low on the open market of 25600:1.
1141 GMT: Energy Watch. Minister of Energy Majid Namjou has said 13 trillion Toman (about $10.6 billion at official rate) is needed to complete 270 semi-finished projects for dam and power plant building, water services, and wastewater treatment.
The energy ministry has put in a request to the Government for the required budget, Namjoo said.
1132 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Rafsanjani's wife, Effat Marashi, has reportedly hit out at the prosecution of her son Mehdi Hashemi, "The names of accused thieves are abbreviated but media shout out my son's name."
And, in a curious twist --- or deliberate juxtaposition? --- Saeed Tajik, the man caught on video harassing and insulting Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hashemi has been summoned to serve his sentence of eight months in prison and 50 lashes.
The summons, eight months after Tajik was sentenced, comes two days after Faezeh Hashemi's arrest to serve her six-month term for anti-regime propaganda.
1111 GMT: Snapping at the Government over the Economy. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has said the income from oil and gas resources is not being used correctly and must be invested in the industrial sector.
MP Ali Motahari has accused the Government of "illegally" funding support payments for subsidy cuts from income from the currency market.
And MP Ramezan Shojaei says 40 legislators have signed a petition to question President Ahmadinejad about the economy and currency problems.
1027 GMT: Military Posturing Watch. A reminder of yesterday's tough talk from Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Revolutionary Guards: "Iran will not start any war but it could launch a pre-emptive attack” against Israel if threatened.
Hajizadeh continued, "We can not imagine the Zionist regime starting a war without America's support. Therefore, in case of a war, we will get into a war with both of them ...In that case, unpredictable and unmanageable things would happen and it could turn into a World War Three."
The Central Bank, supporting the step with oil revenues and National Funds, hopes to ease the demand for foreign currency, thus strengthening the Rial.
The Iranian currency is now less than half its open-market value of September 2011.
0810 GMT: The Battle Within. The opposition website Rooz Online summarises the escalating criticism within the regime of the Government's handling of the economy: "Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, the head of the state Inspectorate Organization has said... that Iran was in difficult economic conditions, and Hassan Abbasi [head of the Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies] has said Ahmadinejad had already fallen."
According to Rooz, both Pourmohammadi and Abbasi suggest that the Supreme Leader has lost patience with the President and the Government.
0725 GMT: Still Not Enough Stories for You? Then let's add Sunday night's news that the regime has begun filtering of Google and Gmail, on the pretext that Google's YouTube --- already blocked in Iran --- featured the trailer for the US-produced film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad.
The more likely possibility is that authorities are preparing for the introduction of the "clean Internet", in which the network of websites and e-mail services is self-contained and can be sealed off from undesirable outside influences.
Sociologist Kevan Harris sends a message via Twitter, "In Tehran now, and I can confirm that google is down. [The search engine] Bing, however, is very fast."
0705 GMT: Take your pick of today's stories to follow....
Khabar Online, the website linked to former Speaker of Parliament Larijani, uses an analysis by Hassan Beheshtipour to intervene on the nuclear issue.
Beheshtipour offers a lengthy defence of Iran's position on inspection of the Parchin military base, the headline issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA wants to examine high-explosive containers which might be used in development of nuclear weapons, but Beheshtipour sets out Tehran's line:
The Islamic Republic of Iran expects the IAEA to guarantee that after its inspectors visit the military site at Parchin, there would be no leak of confidential information related to this non-nuclear military site and such information remain secret. This is a result of the background of the IAEA's performance in similar cases. For example, during the agency’s work in Iraq, information related to non-nuclear military sites of that country were made available to other states a few years before military invasion of Iraq by the United States.
Considering the above facts, one may claim that as long as the obligations of the two sides have not been explained clearly, nobody can expect a significant agreement to be reached through negotiations between Iran and the agency in October.
Even more significant, however, is Beheshtipour's indication of a path to a general agreement with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China): "They can recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium and then ask Iran to suspend enriching uranium to 20-percent level as a first step toward confidence building."
Beheshtipour's analysis is remarkably similar to that of Ali Larijani, offered in comments to the Financial Times last week.
Meanwhile, amid the possible substance of a way forward in the nuclear talks, President Ahmadinejad will be putting on the show in New York, making TV appearances before he addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
But for me, the immediate story --- even more significant for Iranian politics than the nuclear manoeuvres and Ahmadinejad's displays --- is the political manoeuvring within the regime after this weekend's developments. We offer an analysis, "Daughter in Prison, Son Back in Tehran --- What Now for Ex-President Rafsanjani?"