2019 GMT: Nuclear Watch. State outlet Press TV, without giving details, proclaims that Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agnecy "have reached basic agreement to work out a structured framework to resolve the outstanding issues" on inspection and supervision of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said that the "remaining differences" would be discussed in the next Iran-IAEA meeting.
2011 GMT: Sanctions Watch. After a week of combat with President Ahmadinejad, head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani turned today to support of the regime's All-Is-Well line on the economy and sanctions, telling judiciary officials:
The revolutionary message of the people to the hegemonic states was that your pressures are useless and they will even have reverse effects. The vigilant Iranian nation turned these threats into an opportunity for demonstrating the strength and magnificence of the Islamic establishment.
The confession comes two months after the former Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi was dismissed, following her criticism of the Central Bank for not releasing $2 billion for essential medicines and medical supplies.
1424 GMT: All the President's Men. In a show of defiance versus Parliament, President Ahmadinejad has appointed Abdolreza Sheikoleslami, dismissed as Minister of Labor by the Majlis on 3 February, as an advisor on social affairs.
Parliament removed Sheikoleslami for his support of controversial Presidential advisor Saeed Mortazavi. The session was also notable for the confrontation between Ahmadinejad, with his accusations of corruption, and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.
Two days later, Ahmadinejad took the dismissed Sheikoleslami on his historic trip to Egypt.
Appointing the ex-Minister today, Ahmadinejad cited his "sincere efforts”, “excellent leadership”, and “unique service".
We noted earlier that the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, had confirmed the installation of a new generation of centrifuges --- about which Iran had written to the International Atomic Energy Agency last month --- at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.
We also noted Abbasi Davani's assurance that the centrifuges will only enrich uranium to 5%, well below the 20% level about which the US and Europe is concerned.
The BBC does not mention that assurance. Instead, it puts out the general --- and arguably misleading --- warning, "Monitors say the new machines could significantly reduce the time needed to make a nuclear bomb."
While 20% uranium can be enriched to the level above 90% needed for a nuclear weapons, 5% uranium has to go through the process of being elevated to 20% before there is any possibility of further enrichment for military use.
1348 GMT: Love in an Elevator. Forget the nuclear talks, this is likely to be the story that races through Western media by this time tomorrow....
Minister of Science and Higher Education Kamran Daneshjoo has allegedly been filmed in an elevator kissing the Director of the National Museum, Azadeh Ardakani.
Legally the "immoral" offense, if proven in a court, can be punished by stoning.
1221 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, has confirmed that has Iran started installing a new generation of uranium enrichment machines at its Natanz plant.
Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency last month that it was introducing the IR2-m centrifuges to replace 40-year-old machines.
Abbasi Davani said the new generation of centrifuges is for lower-grade enrichment of uranium up to 5%, rather than the higher-grade enrichment of 20% percent that is at the centre of US and European concerns over Tehran's nuclear programme.
The IEA said Iranian output fell to 2.65 million barrels per day in January, down from the 3.7 million bpd in late 2011.
Iranian oil exports --- 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011 --- hit a low point of 860,000 bpd in summer 2012 before recovering to 1.56 million bpd in December. However, the IEA said preliminary data suggests exports could have fallen below 1 million bpd in January, as China and South Korean cut their recent increases in purchases.
1148 GMT: At the Movies. Jafar Panahi has defied the imposition of a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban on filmmaking to secretly co-direct "Closed Curtain".
The film, a portrayal of how restrictions on Panahi's work and movement have brought on depression and even thoughts of suicide, premiered on Tuesday at the Berlin Film Festival.
Pananhi was sentenced in December 2010 for "propaganda against the system". He is effectively under house arrest, although he was able to make 2011's "This is Not a Film", smuggled out of Iran on a USB stick hidden inside a cake.
More than a 100 men, reportedly supporters of President Ahmadinejad, shouted Larijani down and threw prayer tablets and shoes in a mosque in Qom.
Another clip of the incident:
0825 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Ismail Salami, the Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, puts out a warning against any Israeli attack on Iranian facilities: "We will respond with the same level of threat."
The most disturbing question is whether the Iranians are using North Korea as a backdoor plan for their own nuclear program. The Iranians didn’t carry out a nuclear test in Iran, but they may have done so in North Korea. There is no official information on this...but Iran may have bypassed inspections via North Korea. If true, this is a very worrying development.
Levkowitz produces no evidence for his "analysis".
On Monday, the homes of Zahra and Narges Mousavi, the daughters of Mousavi and Rahnavard, were raided, and the women were taken to Evin Prison for hours of interrogation.
On Tuesday, the head of the force overseeing Mousavi and Rahnavard's two-year house arrest phones their son-in-law and allegedly warned him that all his activities are under surveillance. The official said that another Mouasvi-Rahnavard daughter, Kokab, would be summoned to the court in Evin Prison.
That afternoon, both Kokab and Narges were contacted by "unidentified individuals who refused to introduce themselves" and said Kokab Mousavi must report to Evin on Thursday and Narges Mousavi on Saturday.
0659 GMT: Nuclear Watch (US Front). As the International Atomic Energy Agency delegation arrives for talks, Iranian officials keep up their drumbeat against direct talks with a malevolent and devious US. MP Majid Mansouri-Bidakani gets top billing today, with his repetition of last Thursday's lines from the Supreme Leader:
The United States must prove its good faith in practice, and Tehran will not participate in direct talks with Washington on an unequal footing.....Such negotiations would not be helpful and would seriously undermine Iran’s national interests. Iran will never be open to negotiations with the United States under such circumstances....
The United States says it is ready to hold direct talks with Iran but at the same time points a gun at the Islamic Republic, imposes more sanctions, and cuts exports of pharmaceuticals to Iran in blatant violation of international law.
0622 GMT: Nuclear Watch. A high-level delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency resumes talks in Tehran today about "modalities" for inspection and supervision of Iran's nuclear facilities.
Western media are likely to focus on the issue of access to the Parchin military base, where US and European officials claim there is a high-explosive container which could be in a militarised programme for uranium; however, that is more a symbolic issue for Western pressure on Tehran.
Instead, the IAEA's primary concern for months has been access to all facilities in the Iranian programme. The Agency has repeatedly said that it has no evidence of diversion of uranium for military use, but it has also said that it cannot be conclusive without full verification. Tehran has maintained that an agreement must ensure that the IAEA's information is not used by Western intelligence agencies in operations against Iran.
The IAEA delegation was last in Iran on 16-17 January, where no progress was made.
Before this meeting, Iranian officials have taken a carrot-and-stick approach. Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has said that he expects positive developments, and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani declared on Tuesday:
We have repeatedly said that [nuclear] weapons have no place in Iran’s nuclear doctrine. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has also issued a fatwa, forbidding the creation and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction.
However, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani put out a series of cautions to the IAEA:
It is necessary to speak more wisely during negotiations and avoid contentious topics in order to reach mutual confidence and clarify misunderstandings. Agency executives have to notice that, unfortunately, their system does not possess sufficient security, and that the Islamic Republic has emphasized this point many times. It is necessary [for them] to pay more attention in how they interact with Iran.