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Entries in Ahmad Tavakoli (102)


The Latest from Iran (8 May): The Political Fight Over Subsidy Cuts

See also Iran Feature: The Battle to Become Speaker of Parliament
The Latest from Iran (7 May): The Muddle of the New Parliament

Ali Larijani & Mahmoud Ahmadinejad1920 GMT: Oil Watch. Reinhard Baumgarten reports on Iran falling behind Iraq as oil exporter and interviews Sadegh Zibakalam about the disadvantages for Tehran in its deal to export to India.

1542 GMT: Oil Watch. More on the private manoevures behind US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's public encouragement, in her three-day visit, of India to cut oil imports from Iran....

Four Indian officials have told Bloomberg that supplies will be slashed by 20%, given the prospect of alternative supplies from Saudi Arabia.

The officials said India will lower its purchases to 14 million tons from the 17.5 million metric tons in the year ending 31 March.

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The Latest from Iran (25 April): The Economic Challenge Returns

See also The Latest from Iran (24 April): Oil and the Cyber-Attacks

2240 GMT: A (Temporary) Break in Service. Apologies for the limited updates today, as I have been at a mini-conference on Israel and Iran this afternoon and evening. Full service will resume tomorrow at 0600 GMT on Thursday.

2235 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The buzz on the Internet tonight is over this report of a shift in Iran's position on its nuclear programme:

Iran is considering a Russian proposal to halt the expansion of its nuclear program in order to avert new sanctions, the country’s envoy in Moscow said.

“We need to study this proposal and to establish on what basis it has been made,” Ambassador Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi said in an interview at the Iranian embassy in Moscow today. The Russian plan, announced by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week, would let Iran avoid a European Union ban on its crude that is scheduled to come into force in July....

Iran might also be willing to ratify the so-called Additional Protocol, a step urged by the United Nations Security Council that includes more thorough inspections of Iranian facilities, as part of a wider settlement, Sajjadi said.

Under the Russian proposal, Iran would stop building centrifuges, machines used to enrich uranium, and mothball ones that haven’t been put into use yet.

We will have more tomorrow, but this appears to be an Iranian move towards the Russian "step-by-step" approach for the negotiations, with a freeze and then an easing of sanctions with each Iranian pull-back from an expanded enrichment programme and towards tighter international oversight.

Two points which are unclear: 1) Is Sajjadi speaking with full backing of the highest levels of the regime; 2) Will Iran pull back from its recently-acquired ability to enrich uranium to 20%, accepting a level such as 3.5% or 5%?

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The Latest from Iran (20 April): A Golden Sign of Trouble?

See also Iran Snap Analysis: The New Battle Within Tehran Over the Nuclear Talks
Iran Feature: Challenging the Plans for the "National Internet"
The Latest from Iran (19 April): Supreme Leader Seeing "Positive" Nuclear Talks?

1745 GMT: Nuclear Watch. It's not every day that EA and Press TV ally in analysis....

Earlier today we posted an evaluation from an Iranian correspondent that last weekend's nuclear talks were "the combination of efforts of the 'Everyone but Ahmadinejad camp', including those close to the Supreme Leader: "The Ahmadinejad camp feels shunted out of the evolving nuclear deal, while it senses that the two sides are closer than before to an agreement."

Now Press TV posts:/p>

An analyst says the fatwa by Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei against nuclear weapons is a “political milestone” which should put an end to Western allegations against Iran.

“The fatwa of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution can well serve as a beacon of light for Washington in order to find its way out of darkness and ignorance,” author and Middle East expert Ismail Salami wrote.

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The Latest from Iran (17 April): Splitting Europe from the US Over Nukes and Sanctions

Protesting steel workers outside Ministry of Industry on Monday

See also Iran Special: The Inside Story of the Nuclear Talks in Istanbul
The Latest from Iran (16 April): A Common Understanding?

1805 GMT: Student Watch. Iranian student organisations have asked the public to support their protests against the imprisonment of young activists. In a campaign called “Be the Voice of Enchained Students”, they declared:

The office of Tahkim-e Vahdat and Danesh Amoukhtegan Organization of Iran, while expressing disgust over the continued imprisonment of political prisoners and the house arrest of the leaders of the Green Movement, celebrate the perseverance of the 29 enchained students and protest against their continued imprisonment, as we urge support for these detainees from universities, human rights and civic organizations and Iranians inside and outside the country

The statement called for “academic freedom” and the return of the detained students to their classes and universities.

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The Latest from Iran (13 April): Before the Nuclear Show

President Ahmadinejad greeting an unseen crowd in Hormozgan Province in southern Iran

1644 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani has the podium today, and he is in a nuclear mood: “As the [Leader of the Islamic Revolution] Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said and other Iranian officials have reiterated, the work done in the field of nuclear energy [in Iran] is not meant for making nuclear weapons."

Just to make sure the US, European powers, China, and Russia got the message before tomorrow's talks, Emami Kashani emphasised, “These activities are for scientific purposes; you must realize and believe this."

However, while the West ponders this reassurance, this passage from Emami Kashani is more interesting to me --- cheerleading for the Supreme Leader's "Year of National Production", worry about the economy, or both?:

Everyone must enjoy their lives. There should be jobs in society, [and] the youth should be able to marry and have good living and housing conditions; therefore, production is important....Honest investors must invest in order to serve the country and benefit from its profits. Jobs must be promoted qualitatively and quantitatively and everyone at any level should [be able to] lead a clean life.

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The Latest from Iran (4 April): Admitting the Economic Tensions

See also Iran Snap Analysis: Is Tehran Pulling Back from the Nuclear Talks?
The Latest from Iran (3 April): Protesting Discrimination

1952 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. The back-and-forth over former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's call for better relations with Saudi Arabia and the US continues. Responding to criticism from conservative politicians (see 1420 GMT), Rafsanjani has insisted, "If Ayatollah Khomeini had problems with relations with US, he addressed them with me."

1942 GMT: Sanctions Watch. King Juan Carlos of Spain has travelled to Kuwait to seek oil exports to cover the shortfall from a Spanish reduction or ban of crude from Iran.

Spain, which takes about 15% of its oil from Tehran, is facing the European Union's edict to cut off Iranian imports from 1 July.

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The Latest from Iran (3 April): Protesting Discrimination

Young Iranian men criticise racism against Afghans, with one of the signs declaring, "I am also an Afghan" (see 0610 GMT)

See also The Latest from Iran (2 April): Talking About Oil

1840 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Student activist Peyman Aref has been released from prison.

Aref, held on six occasions since the disputed 2009 Presidential election, was released in October 2011 after serving a year and receiving 74 lashes, but he was seized again in mid-March.

1805 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Masoud Jayazeri, the deputy head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has declared, "In the face of any attack, we will have a crushing response. In that case, we will not only act in the boundaries of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, no place in America will be safe from our attacks."

Jayazeri added that Iran would not strike any country first.

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The Latest from Iran (31 March): All Quiet on the Tehran Front...Almost

See also Iran Feature: Muffling the Drumbeats of War? Israel, Azerbaijan, and the US
The Latest from Iran (30 March): After Turkey's Prime Minister Went Home....

1530 GMT: Nuclear Watch. During her visit to Saudi Arabia, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed that Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China) will begin talks on Tehran's nuclear programme on 13 April in Istanbul.

1430 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Press TV, which has reported for weeks that sanctions were not forcing Ankara to curb trade with Tehran has been forced to headline, "Turkey to Decrease Iranian Oil Imports".

The admission follows Friday's announcement by Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz and Turkey's largest refiner that purchases of Iranian oil will be cut by 20%, with supplies coming instead from Libya.

Taner Yildiz also said Turkey is in talks with Saudi Arabia on spot oil purchases and longer term contacts: “We plan to increase the number of countries we buy oil from and the routes we use.”

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Iran Analysis: Who Won Ahmadinejad's Non-Interrogation? The Supreme Leader.

In the end, the "interrogation" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was no more than a one-act show.

Some in the audience of the Western press put out critical reviews --- "His Jokes Fell Flat" --- but those missed the significance of the production. This was a play designed not to run and run, but to open and close in the same morning.

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The Latest from Iran (12 March): Ahmadinejad Escapes Interrogation?

See also Iran 1st-Hand: "People Here Are Boiling, But Don't Make A Sound"
Iran Snap Analysis: Walking Back from War?
The Latest from Iran (11 March): Changing the Drumbeats of War

1904 GMT: Oil Watch. I am sorry but --- amidst uncertainties over Iran's oil exports --- I have no clue what the Supreme Leader means in his statement today: “Based on the development plan, oil must stop being used as source of income and for funding the country’s budget and instead become a source for the progress and economic might of the country and authorities must pursue this policy ...with determination....It is necessary that we act in a manner that any decision making about our oil production and sales is up to us and based on our interests and of course we have taken good steps in this regard.”

Meanwhile, an Iranian oil official has denied a report by Reuters that 350,000 tonnes of gasoline had recently been shipped from China to Iran's southern port city of Bandar Abbas: “Iran is currently a major exporter of [various kinds of] oil products and does not need to import gasoline from any country."

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