1925 GMT: The Currency Crisis and Politics. Two stories pointing to the possible rise of political tensions over the weakening Iranian currency.
The head of the Central Bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, has indicated the Bank will not release reserves to bolster the currency, saying people still have dollars at home.
That answer is unlikely to satisfy prominent conservative MP Ahmad Tavakoli, who accused the Central Bank of withholding dollars. That allegation fits the news, posted on EA yesterday, that importers have been able to get foreign currency at official rates to release their goods from ports.
An EA correspondent assesses, "I think this is a full-fledged battle tween Ahmadinejad and his opponents about control of the currency market. The Supreme Leader is afraid to enter because of collateral damage."
1449 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has said Tehran will welcome Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s proposal for a four-nation contact group --- Egypt, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia --- to lead a new initiative to resolve the Syrian conflict.
However, Abdollahian also criticized Morsi for his remarks at the Non-Aligned summit criticising the Assad regime, saying the Egyptian president should have a “realistic attitude” toward developments in Syria.
"God willing, the Meshkat (Lantern) Cruise Missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres (about 1280 miles) will be unveiled in the near future," Deputy Defense Minister Mehdi Farahi said today. "Meshkat Cruise Missile can be fired from land, air and sea."
The Rial, now at a historic low, has lost about 8% in value this weekend and is less than half its value of a year ago. It is also well below the level in the currency crisis of early 2012, before the Central Bank and Government intervened to try and set it at 15600:1.
There is now an 80% gap between the open-market value of the Rial and its official level of 12260:1.
0735 GMT: Defiance Watch. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has told MPs that the "unconventional stance" of some European countries, "drawing lines" against Iran, reveals their passivity rather than their authority.
Larijani called for a response based on the "resistance economy" of the Supreme Leader, "serving the people and improving the economy" with more jobs and a halt to inflation to "counteract this scenario".
0615 GMT: Speaking to journalists after an European Union Foreign Ministers' meeting in Cyprus on Saturday, Catherine Ashton --- the lead negotiator on the nuclear issue for the 5+1 Powers (US, British, Germany, France, China, Russia --- had a message for the Iranian regime: a review is underway “not only to consider whether more sanctions should be taken, but to make sure the enforcement of sanctions is done properly and any abilities to evade them are dealt with".
Ashton's declaration followed statements on Friday by the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain that they support new sanctions over the lack of progress in talks about Iran's nuclear programme.
The significance of those assertions probably does not lie in "new sanctions" --- it is unclear what more the Europeans and the US can do to to squeeze the Iranian economy --- but in the political message.
Ashton may have said that she has spoken with her Iranian counterpart, Saeed Jalili, but there will be no resumption of high-level negotiations in the near-future. The main line of the "Western" strategy is to force concessions from Tehran --- or to force it to its knees --- rather than to engage in talks.
Even before the statements from the European Foreign Ministers and Ashton, I had put forth this analysis in discussions with a front-line journalist covering the Iran issue. That assessment has been bolstered by the statements and by Laura Rozen's reporting for Al Monitor, from diplomatic sources that the US has prepared a new file of sanctions and that political directors from the 5+1 Powers had decided not to propose another meeting with Tehran at this time.
As diplomatic sources told TOLD AL-MONITOR the US has prepared a new file of sanctions.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry is still focusing on Friday's call by British Foreign Secretary William Hague to "intensify sanctions", calling the remarks "irresponsible".