Iran Analysis: 7 Things We Know --- And Do Not Know --- About the Nuclear Talks br>
Iran Analysis: What Tehran's Nuclear Negotiator Actually Said About the Talks br>
Wednesday's Iran Live Coverage: No News is Good or Bad News at the Nuclear Talks?
Supplies have reportedly been limited for more than 40 days after a burst in a water main. Security forces were deployed yesterday to disperse protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Images have circulated on the Internet of a bus, carrying Government troops, which was set on fire:
1800 GMT: All the President's Men. Revising earlier charges, Presidential advisor Saeed Mortazavi, the former Tehran Prosecutor General, has been indicted for "complicity in murder" in the case of post-election detainees abused and killed in Kahrizak Prison in 2009.
Mortazavi was charged over the death of Mohammad Kamrani, one of three men whose deaths by torture were confirmed soon after the disputed Presidential election.
Indictments in the cases of Amir Javadifar and Mohsen Ruholamini have not been issued yet.
An earlier indictment issued by a Tehran court had only charged the three suspects in the Kahrizak case with "colluding in illegal arrests".
Bahmani said that “cutting the hands of the currency middlemen will be followed by the improvement of prices and also will better the conditions of people’s lives and reduce the current pressure”.
1630 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Brigadier Amir Ali Hajji Zadeh, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards' aerial forces, has said that the downing of US drones is to fulfil the “serious demand” of the Supreme Leader.
According to Hajji Zadeh, Ayatollah Khamenei “emphasised that the drones are not seen, but they collect information and thus striking and downing them was part of the serious demands of the Supreme Leader from the commanders”.
1600 GMT: Budget Watch. Back from an extended academic break to catch up with the day's news beyond the nuclear front....
The Ahmadinejad Government has presented a draft budget based on a 40% decrease in oil revenues to $30 billion.
The projection is down from $51 billion in 2012/13 and far below the $100 billion of earnings in the year ending in March 2012.
The budget seeks 7,305,000 billion Rials ($197 billion at the free-market rate; $595 billion at the official rate), a rise of 31%..
The draft did not give the exchange rate used in calculating the budget, significant because the Rial has lost 70% in value on the open market in the past year.
The bill, presented to Parliament after a delay of 84 days, does not give an estimate for oil exports in the next Iranian year starting on 21 March. An official said the budget was based on an oil price of $95 per barrel.
The decision to omit vital oil export and exchange rate figures was taken since their disclosure would have "political" repercussions and also create "problems", MP Jafar Qaderi said.
0700 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Wednesday opened with uncertainty but moved towards the "positive" in the nuclear talks between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, Germany, China, Russia, and France) in Kazakhstan.
The turning point came with the press conference of Iran's lead negotiator, Saeed Jalili. Working with a prepared statement, Jalili used that key word "positive" in his assessment of the two days of formal and bilateral discussions. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was even more upbeat.
There was no big, equivalent moment from the 5+1; however, US officials put out the message that the talks were "useful" and emphasised that they had made two significant shifts: 1) Iran did not have to ship out all its 20% uranium and could keep some of it for civilian use, such as medical isotopes: 2) the Fordoo enirchment plant would have to suspend 20% enrichment but would not have to close.
And, of course, both sides said that more talks are to come --- technical discussions on 17-18 March in Istanbul, followed by another high-level gathering on 5 April.
Still, the "positive" should come with more than a bit of caution. Western media, in their enthusiasm, missed the caveats that Jalili put on the outcome, such as ""The West should abandon its hostile behaviors against Iran" and ""We know our rights regarding enrichment".
And Iranian media, in contrast to the general consensus in its US and European counterparts, is divided in its response. State outlet Press TV is still effusive, featuring Wednesday's reaction from Foreign Minister Salehi, "I'm happy to say that the outcome of the meeting was positive, that it has been put on the right track and it is moving in the right direction, and that is important."
However, State news agency IRNA is silent, possibly because of its support for President Ahmadinejad, who has been cut out of this process. So is the Iranian Students News Agency. Fars News, linked to the Revolutonary Guards, is edgier this morning after a warm reception on Tuesday for the announcement of the next talks.
Later this morning, we will have two analyses considering What We Do and Do Not Know about the outcome in Kazakhstan and what comes next.