See also Our 1st EA Video Analysis: The Sound, Fury, and Insignificance of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad br>
Iran Opinion: Ahmadinejad 100, US Media 0 br>
Iran Audio Feature: Predicting Ahmadinejad's Speech (and Does It Really Matter?) --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24 br>
The Latest from Iran (25 September): Which is More Important --- The Ahmadinejad Show or an Economy in Crisis?
1945 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. President Ahmadinejad is using a press conference this afternoon to reiterate a line he set out to university students yesterday about Iran-US relations:
The American decision makers should accept that Iran is standing on its own feet and that the situation won’t return to what it was in the past.
There is a possibility that the ties [between Iran and the US] would improve if they (the Americans) took confidence-building measures, condemn threats against Iran, let the nuclear issue be resolved through understanding and allow the settlement of the financial issues between the two countries.
Not everyone is impressed with Ahmadinejad's implied embrace of discussions, however. Ahmad Tavakoli, Ali Motahari, and 24 other MPs have protested against the President''s line.
1915 GMT: Press Watch. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance has warned that he may ban the reformist newspaper Shargh because of an insulting cartoon during the "Week of Holy Defence", marking the 32nd anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq War.
Fars reported that 120 of Iran's 290 MPs have signed a letter condemning the cartoon.
1855 GMT: Tough Tslk Alert (Syria Edition). President Ahmadinejad might have taken a cautious line on Syria during his stay in New York this week, but others have not been so reticent. While 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi was declaring, "Syria Will Eventually Conquer Enemies", MP Hamid Rasaei asserted that the remarks of Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Reza Jafari --- confirming that members of the Quds Force were in Damascus advising the Assad regime --- were those of the Supreme Leader. Rasaei continued, "We intervened in the 33 Days War in Lebanon (with Israel in 2006)."
Rejecting rumours that Iran might press President Assad to step down, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, “Today Syria’s presence in the [anti-Israeli] resistance front is stronger than ever."
All of this provides a counter-point to the line, put out by Press TV today, that "Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has called for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, saying Tehran supports dialogue between Damascus and the Syrian opposition.
1806 GMT: All the President's Men. As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was making his grand appearance in New York, his senior aide Ali Akbar Javanfekr was being summoned to serve a six-month prison sentence for publishing material offensive to Islamic codes and public morality.
Javanfekr, the editor of the newspaper Iran, was charged over a special issue on women's fashion. The court found that it denigrated the chador --- the black, full-length covering for women --- by claiming it had been inspired by 19th-century Western evening dresses.
Javanfekr was initially sentenced to two one-year terms, the second for insulting the Supreme Leader on his personal website in April 2011.
As we predicted, Ahmadinejad made a call for "global governance" to challenge and move beyond by a capitalist system dominated by Zionists and "arrogant" world powers.
There was also an emphasis on religious guidance, with the anticipation of the return of Shia's Hidden Imam, and a jab at the US over its claim that terrorists caused the attacks of 11 September 2001.
However, The Wall Street Journal is surprised that Ahmadinejad "didn't openly call for the destruction of the state of Israel" or question the reality of the Holocaust and the rights of homosexuals.
Instead, the Iranian President played up harmony, "I don't believe that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others have any problems, or are hostile against each other. They get along together comfortably and live together in an atmosphere of peace and amity."
He continued, "The arrival of the Ultimate Savior will mark a new beginning, a rebirth and a resurrection. It will be the beginning of peace, lasting security and genuine life."
1247 GMT: Espionage Watch. According to Nasim Online, the Ministry of Intelligence has announced the discovery of a lab for sabotage in the southern US, with projects to reduce economic power and incite popular unrest.
1054 GMT: Sabotage Watch. Khabar Online posts a slideshow of items allegedly used by the US, Israel, Germany, France, China, South Korea, Ukraine, and Australia to sabotage Iran's nuclear development, including zirconium power and defective ingots:
Meanwhile, the Rial is slowly weakening in the Central Bank's "trade room", established to prop up the Iranian currency through the injection of foreign exchange. The dollar is now being sold at 23860 Rials.
1005 GMT: Discrimination Watch. Dozens of Sunni Muslim leaders have written an open letter to the Supreme Leader calling for an end to discrimination, with freedom of practice of their religion and political representation in Parliament and the Guardian Council.
Hekmati's family appealed in a press conference on Tuesday for President Ahmadinejad, in New York for the the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, to intervene.
Hekmati was detained in August 2011 while visiting Iran and accused of working for the CIA. He was initially convicted and sentenced to death. The punishment was overturned in January, but no new trial has been scheduled.
Hekmati's family has not heard from him since the end of June.
CAIR Executive Director Dawud Walid said, "If the Iranian officials will turn Amir over to us, then I am willing, and we at CAIR are willing to fly to Iran to bring Amir back home. We hope that the Iranian government will take this offer from us."
0825 GMT: Honouring the Political Prisoners. Imprisoned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi, under threat of detention for a six-year sentence and barred from working, have been nominated for the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.
Sotoudeh, prominent for her handling of human rights cases, is serving an 11-year sentence.
0550 GMT: Tough Talk Watch. Normally US officials let Iranian claims about military strength pass without response, so it is notable that the Americans, through NBC News and Reuters, are denying Tehran's latest declaration of prowess in the Strait of Hormuz.
On Tuesday, a Revolutionary Guards commander said Iran had test-fired four anti-ship missiles that hit a warship-sized target and sank it in 50 seconds in the Strait, a vital waterway for the shipping of oil. Press TV wrote, "The mid-range system...is capable of intercepting targets at a range of 50 km (30 miles) and can fly at an altitude of 75,000 feet."
The US officials said the claim was "pure fabrication", with no missile firing in or around the Strait or the Persian Gulf.
Citing 10 oil trading, industry and shipping sources, Reuters asserts that Vitol bought 2 million barrels of fuel oil, used for power generation, from Iran and offered it to Chinese traders last month.
Based in Switzerland, Vitol does not have to comply with the European Union's ban on oil trade with Tehran, as the Swiss are not in the EU.
The company stopped trading Iranian crude oil from its main European offices before the EU's embargo took effect on 1 July. However, trading sources said Vitol has continued to deal in Iranian fuel oil from the Middle East. To do so, tanker tracking systems have been switched off, with two ship-to-ship transfers and blending of the oil with fuel from another source to alter the cargo's physical specification.
0515 GMT: This morning in New York, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the United Nations General Assembly for the 8th and final time as Iranian President. However, even as he tries to whip up support with media interviews, Ahmadinejad's appearance has been overtaken by a series of confusing political stories.
Consider, for example, the head-scratching development around Iran's nuclear programme, specifically its enrichment of 20% uranium. The 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia) have insisted that Tehran give up enrichment to that level as part of any agreement. On Monday, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was quoted as saying that the Islamic Republic had offered to do so, in return for an easing of sanctions, in a dinner with the 5+1's chief negotiator on 19 September.
Breakthrough? Not so fast. Yesterday Soltanieh loudly denied he had even spoken with InterPress Service, “Let me tell you! I’ve taken part in no interviews about [the country’s uranium] enrichment and relevant issues with anyone in the past one month. I’ve not said such a thing."
So with whom was IPS talking, if it was not Soltanieh? Or did the envoy go too far in his remarks --- possibly thinking he was "off the record" --- and then have to pull them back?
A more traditional story was the State media's response to President Obama's appearance at the UN, "US Repeats Fake Allegations about Iran". And then there was the bluster of 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, in contrast to Ahmadinejad's cautious line on the subject in New York, "Syria Will Eventually Conquer Enemies".
But still the Iranian PR could not outrun the denials. As he did the rounds of American media, Ahmadinejad's staff had to deal with video of Iranian journalists "greeting" the President's arrival in New York with complaints that he spoke to Western reporters rather than them, followed by the question of Parliament's criticism of Ahmadinejad's 160-person entourage.
No, the staff assured, the video did not show Ahmadinejad replying that Parliament has "messed up" by raising the issue --- literally, "They shall eat shit instead of talking like this."