The Supreme Leader's senior aide Ali Akbar Velayati announces plans for the Presidential election at a Sunday press conference
The nuts, a staple of the Nowruz celebrations, have soared in cost at home as farmers --- able to make three times as much as a year ago in foreign currency because of the falling Iranian Rial --- send their pistachios abroad.
One kilogrammes of pistachios cost 200,000 Rials last year. This March, the price is between IR540,000 and IR780,000.
In recent days, the Government has forced shops to sell pistachios at 300,000 Rial per kilo, but the intervention has had little effect so far.
Mohammad Javad Haghshenas, the deputy head of the Reformists Front, reportedly said, "In this letter, we have discussed the issues surrounding the 2013 election and the possibility of party participation."
Haghshenas asserted that the heads of two other reformists groups joined him in the request to the Supreme Leader.
1611 GMT: The Battle Within. A nasty fight has broken out between the camps of President Ahmadinejad and of the powerful Asgarouladi brothers, businessman Asadollah and politician Habibollah.
The pro-Ahmadinejad Iran News Network has declared that it has documents about the connection of Asadollah Asgarouladi with the British Embassy in Tehran and his political activities in London.
Habibollah Asgar-Ouladi, a senior figure in the conservative Motalefeh Party --- whose press outlet just accused Ahmadinejad of "instigating social uprisings" (see 0910 GMT) --- jabbed that a TV documentary on President Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who was impeached and forced to flee the country in 1980, is "a translation of [events of] today".
1537 GMT: Satellite TV Watch. Press TV, which has been running a barrage of stories about European restrictions on the satellite broadcasting of the Iranian outlet, declares good news ahead: "Iran to Launch First Professional Telecom Satellite: Official".
The article, however, reveeals that we may have to wait some time:
The head of Iran Space Agency (ISA) says the country plans to launch its first professional telecom satellite named Qa’em into space in the coming years to cover Iranian TV channels and radio programs.
Rahmani expressed his concern that President Ahmadinejad's office has not answered his phone calls.
The exact level of the reserves is unknown. They were estimated at $80 billion at the end of 2011, and some observers, including leading MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said in autumn 2012 that they had dropped sharply.
It is unclear how much the Central Bank has spent from the reserves to prop up Iran's currency, which fell 70% in 2012.
1425 GMT: Trade Watch. Trade between Iran and China dropped by 18% in 2012, falling from $45 billion to $37 billion, according to Assadollah Asgaroladi, director of the Sino-Iranian Chamber of Commerce.
Asgaroladi, referring to sanctions, said, "Iranian exporters and importers who are seeking increase in trade volume are facing banking problems."
Asgaroladi has said previously that Iran-China trade could reach $50 billion in both 2014 and 2015.
China was Iran's top trading partner in 2012 and is the largest buyer of Iranian oil.
1237 GMT: Election Watch. Mohsen Rezaei --- former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, current Secretary of the Expediency Council, and Presidential candidate in 2009 --- has declared that he will seek the Guardian Council's approval to stand for the Presidency in June.
1152 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, has said that Tehran is not cooperating, making it difficult for the Agency to provide "credible assurance" that the country does not possess undeclared nuclear material.
Speaking to the IAEA's Board of Governors, Amano said Iran should grant access "without further delay" to the Parchin military complex, which Western officials claim is the site of a high-explosives container which can be used in a militarised nuclear programme.
Amano said, "The Agency therefore cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."
Talks in Tehran in January and February between the IAEA and Iranian officials failed to get a resolution both over a general framework for inspections and supervision and over a specific agreement on Parchin.
1150 GMT: Currency Watch. Analyst Holly Dagres reports a surge in value of the Iranian Rial since last week's "positive" nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers:
The rise of more than 15% is the biggest surge for the Iranian currency since intervention by the Central Bank and Government intervened last October.
1030 GMT: The House Arrests. More than 250 Iranian women have condemned the "illegal" house arrest of activist and academic Zahra Rahnavard and the "insulting" treatment of her daughters by the security services.
Rahnavard has been held under strict house arrests for more than two years, as have her husband, 2009 Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, and fellow opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi.
The three daughters of Rahnavard and Mousavi were subjected to house raids and interrogations last month.
I don’t wish to discuss the ambiance outside prison. I will only note this verse that repeats in my head:
“Again, we are left with a city that has lost its beat. All that is left are foxes, hyenas, and wolves.”
While Ahmadinejad is not directly named, the allusions are clear as the article says he has tried to destroy domestic rivals with slander and has slammed the US --- as well as the European Union and Israel --- even as he wants to re-establish contact with Washington.
Meanwhile, in another apparent slap at the President, the Audit Office has warned provincial governors about "illegal employment" of new staff.
Critics of Ahmadinejad have alleged that he is packed the governor's office, and his own, with workers in preparation for June's Presidential election.
0905 GMT: Budget Watch. The hard-line Mashregh News is not happy with the Government's proposed 2013/14 budget. The site claims that, amid decreased funds for Parliament (down 55%), Guardian Council (47%), and National Security Council (38%), the budget for the President's office has risen 82%.
0900 GMT: Spreading the Revolution Watch. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of the Basij militia, has said that Basiji of Khuzestan Province should establish "permanent contacts with revolutionaries of Bahrain, Hijaz (Saudi Arabia), and other neighbouring countries".
0855 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (US Front). Speaking to CNN, the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, has said that Tehran is willing to enter direct talks with Washington: "I can confirm it here with you, and also for your distinguished audience, that Iran will come negotiation and direct talks with the United States provided that we make sure that U.S. is serious and do not act differently."
Khazaee said Iranians felt that, after last week's nuclear negotiations with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, Germany, France, China, and Russia), "both sides are getting closer to each other"..
Last July, the Ministry said the Central Bank had opened a $10 billion for projects. Plans for energy development also have access to 18% of the assets of the National Development Fund.
0615 GMT: Economy Watch. A tantalising if brief note in the Tehran Times this morning:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday chaired a meeting of a working group tasked with controlling the market.
Industry, Mines, and Trade Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari, Agriculture Minister Sadeq Khalilian, Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Shamseddin Hosseini, and Intelligence Minister Heydar Moselehi attended the meeting.
Issues related to controlling the market before the new Iranian year that begins on March 21, the prices of staples, and car prices were discussed at the meeting.
The Central Bank has put the official inflation rate at almost 33%. Other Iranian analysts, economists, and politicians say the figure --- especially for basic goods and commodities --- is far higher.
0555 GMT: Election Watch. The three-man committee, tasked by the Supreme Leader to find a "unity" candidate for June's Presidential election, tried to claim the initiative on Sunday with a press conference outlining three "working groups" covering domestic and international matters.
The Supreme Leader's senior aide, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, said, “If the coalition achieves victory in the upcoming election by the vote of the people, the working groups, whose responsibility has been taken over by the members of the coalition, will determine the main members of the next government."
Velayati invited those who have the "necessary expertise and experience" to join the working groups "and announce their plans".
In recent weeks, other conservative groups and individuals have announced intentions to contest the election, raising speculation whether the committee was losing control of the quest for "unity". Former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has announced he will stand as a candidate, while former Minister of Interior Mostafa Pourmohammadi is expected to do so.
Neither man is likely to win, but their declarations have raised prospects that other high-profile politicians will not follow the committee's line, at least at this point. The Supreme Leader's group also faces the escalating political tension with President Ahmadinejad, who is expected to back his own candidate in June.