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Iran Live Coverage: Tehran Continues to Push "Positive" Nuclear Talks

See also Tuesday's Iran Live Coverage: Ahmadinejad Anoints His Right-Hand Man for President

2021 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has strongly criticised those who have backed President Ahmadinejad and his Government.

Rafsanjani said the Government has destroyed three decades of achievements: "I am surprised that why some people, especially clerics, have supported them. Even more strange is they will not stop supporting this disaster now that they have realised the true identity of this current."

1945 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The US has renewed the waiver from financial penalties for Japan, "based on additional significant reductions in the volume of its crude oil purchases from Iran".

Waivers were also extended for 10 European Union countries. The EU implemented a ban on imports of Iranian oil from 1 July 2012.

1335 GMT: Election Watch. Hassan Rohani, an ally of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani on the Expediency Council and former lead nuclear negotiator, has declared his candidacy for President.

Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei has condemned Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who were candidates alongside him in the 2009 contest and who have been under strict house arrest for 25 months.

Rezaei said, "I see them as US agents and I said on February 15, 2011 [the day after the house arrests] that if these two do not apologize before the nation, people could arrest them:

Some may say that such a comment came late, but no one took position against the intrigue leaders as I did. I do believe that I must have expressed myself on this matter in the right time for more effectiveness, and the right time was when it lead to their detention.

0729 GMT: Oil Watch. In a move which would confirm sharp reductions in Indian purchases of Iranian oil, OPEC’s biggest producers are in talks to supply extra crude to New Delhi, according to industry sources.

Indian imports of Iranian crude, already down 20% last year, have been further hindered by new US sanctions on financial transactions. The measures have effectively blocked Indian payment to Tehran in Euros, with New Delhi only able to offer rupees or barter.

Indian refiners, reportedly waiting or an order from the Ministry of Oil to stop buying from Tehran, are discussing annual term contracts with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait for the year starting 1 April.

The sources said that, while the volume has not been set, the Indian companies have been told there is enough supply to cover the loss of Iranian crude.

0718 GMT: Insults of the Day. More on First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi's attack on US-led sanctions on Tuesday, including his jibe at America as a "bunch of English malfeasants"....

At the presentation of two new domestically-produced drugs on Tuesday, Rahimi declared that the US was founded by 13 exiled Britons and is a bunch of "laat" (uncivilised jerks).


Rahimi then scoffed at the sanctions, "Without [selling[ oil we have scientists, but in the same situation, our neighbours would have to ride a camel."

0712 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Humanr rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari and Hossein Naeimipour have been granted temporary furloughs from prison.

Nazar Ahari is serving a four-year sentence. Naeimipour has been detained since January 2012.

0708 GMT: Elections Watch. Some Iranian outlets are posting a warning from the Guardian Council, "We cannot supervise elections under the new Government budget."

Reports indicate that the proposed budget for 2013/2014 increases the funding of the President's office by 82% while reducing --- sharply in some cases --- allocations to the Guardian Council, Parliament, and other Government agencies.

0655 GMT: Economy Watch. Iranian media are reporting that support payments to cover higher prices from subsidy cuts will not be increased between March and June.

If true, the news indicates that the Ahmadinejad Government is unlikely to implement the long-delayed second phase of its subsidy cuts plan, held up by Parliament, before it leaves office.

0645 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Four days before follow-up technical talks, Iranian officials continue to emphasise the "positive" dimension of last month's nuclear discussions with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, Germany, France, China, and Russia).

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Tuesday that the approach of the 5+1 Powers in Almaty in Kazakhstan was "more positive".

The two sides agreed to meet again in Almaty on 5-6 April.

At the same time, Iran is making clear that it expects to see more moves by the West, such as the recognition of the Islamic Republic's right to enrich uranium. Araqchi emphasised a "step-by-step" approach, put forward by Tehran since last April, while officials and media have set out the line that they must see "honesty" and "sincerity", particularly from the US.

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