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Entries in Ali Akbar Velayati (75)


Iran Special: 5 Steps for a Breakthrough in the Nuclear Talks


Some key Iranian officials have not been that far removed from the "Stop" and "Ship" demands of Washington. President Ahmadinejad, for example, has repeatedly suggested that Iran suspend its enrichment of 20% uranium in exchange for a guaranteed supply from outside powers.

The US and the European 3, however, have maintained the insistence on the closure of the recently-opened Fordoo enrichment plant, located in a mountainside in central Iran. Their argument appears to be that Iran could accept a deal now but, at any point, could re-start 20% enrichment with the installed centrifuges at Fordoo.

That argument has always seemed curious to me. Resuming the enrichment process is not a simple process like turning on a tap. More importantly, an agreement can include provisions for inspection and oversight of Fordoo's development. So why not let the plant operate for enrichment of up to 5%?

If the resumption of talks is announced, watch for any indication from Washington, London, Paris, or Berlin --- possibly done discreetly --- that "Shut" is no longer a requirement.

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The Latest from Iran (17 December): Seeking Influence on Syria

Iran Special Analysis: Breaking the Deadlock in the Nuclear Negotiations
The Latest from Iran (16 December): Is Tehran Ready for Concessions on Nuclear Programme?

1551 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Turkish Front). NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has rejected the declaration by the head of Iran's armed forces, Hassan Firouzabadi, that the placement of NATO's Patriot anti-missiles sysems on Turkey's border with Syria risks a world war.

"I completely denounce these (Iranian) allegations. We have made clear right from the outset that the deployment of Patriots is a purely defensive measure," Rasmussen told a news conference after talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. "We are there to defend and protect our ally Turkey. We have no offensive intentions whatsoever."

On Saturday, Firouzabadi said, "Each one of these Patriots is a black mark on the world map, and is meant to cause a world war. They are making plans for a world war, and this is very dangerous for the future of humanity and for the future of Europe itself."

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The Latest from Iran (10 December): Worries over Opposition Leaders Under House Arrest

See also Iran Photo Feature: Faces in Tehran
The Latest from Iran (9 December): Talking Tough on Sanctions

Mir Hossein Mousavi & Zahra Rahnavard2000 GMT: The House Arrests. Back to the opening story of the 22-month house arrests of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi....

Karroubi's wife Fatemeh, who was also detained but released after several months, has given an interview about her husband's condition and current situation. She said that the uncertainty of being held under perpetual house arrest is worse than a defined prison sentence.

She said, "I repeat and emphasise that I am proud of my husband."

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The Latest from Iran (13 November): Admitting a Blogger's Death in Detention

See also EA Video Analysis: Iran Sanctions, Human Rights, and the Nuclear Issue
Iran Opinion: The Crisis in Medical Care --- It's Not Just About Sanctions
The Latest from Iran (12 November): The Economic Squeeze Tightens

Sattar Beheshti1856 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Hong Kong will remove permission for 19 ships linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) to operate under its flag, according to a letter from the Hong Kong Government's Marine Department.

"As it is of paramount importance to HKMD in safeguarding the quality of Hong Kong ships, HKMD has therefore taken action already in notifying the owners of these 19 ships for the closure of the registration in Hong Kong within 90 days beginning from the date of the notice being served," S.F. Wong, Hong Kong Shipping Register's general manager, said in the letter.

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EA Video Analysis: The Secret US-Iran Nuclear Talks

Over the last two weeks we have reported on a series of secret talks between the US and Iran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme. Contacts in Turkey between Washington's and Tehran's representatives were taken a step farther in early October when the Supreme Leader's top aide on foreign policy, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, met unnamed US envoys.

So how significant are these "back-channel" talks in a possible path to diplomatic settlement, rather than war? We explain in five minutes:


Iran Analysis: The Regime Tells the US, "You Are Plotting Against Us --- Let's Talk"

Ali Akbar Velayati & Hashemi RafsanjaniThe focus on "plots" means that State outlet Press TV does not address the developing story --- arguably far more important --- of Iran's back-channel talks with the US, looking toward a resumption of formal negotiations over Tehran's nuclear programme.

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Iran Exclusive: Did Supreme Leader's Top Advisor Meet US Officials in Qatar?

Ali Akbar Velayati & Supreme LeaderAccording to well-placed EA sources, the Supreme Leader's top advisor for foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, has met US officials in Doha in Qatar earlier this month. Velayati and the Americans discussed the renewal of high-level talks over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The account from our sources follows more than a week of reports and rumours about "back-channel" US-Iran discussions.

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The Latest from Iran (30 September): "The West Is In Economic Crisis"

See also Iran Follow-Up: Fars News Apologises for Running Story from The Onion
The Latest from Iran (29 September): The Economy and the Divisions Within the Regime

1422 GMT: Press Watch. One of the cameramen with President Ahmadinejad's entourage in New York has defected and has been granted asylum, according to Baztab.

1347 GMT: Press Watch. ISNA reports that a court has convicted Reuters and its Tehran Bureau Chief, Parisa Hafezi, of "publishing lies against the regime" and "disturbing public opinion".

Reuters was charged after a story in March briefly carried a headline characterising women training in ninjutsu as "assassins". The bureau was closed, as the press cards of staff were confiscated. Some observers saw a pretext for the authorities to shut down one of the few international agencies reporting from inside Iran.

Sentencing is expected within a week.

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The Latest from Iran (29 September): The Economy and the Divisions Within the Regime

See also EA Video Analysis: Iran --- Ahmadinejad in New York "He Came, He Spoke, He Slipped Away"
Iran Feature: Fars News and The Onion Agree --- "Rural American Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama"
The Latest from Iran (28 September): The Next Fall in the Currency

1544 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah has been summoned to Evin Prison to begin his nine-year sentence.

Dadkhah, one of the founders of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, was arrested less than a month after the disputed 2009 Presidential election. He was sentenced in July 2011 on charges including membership of the CDHR and "spreading propaganda against the system through interviews with foreign media".

1531 GMT: Press Watch. Families of 25 martyrs and veterans of the 1980s Iran-Iraq War have expressed support for Hadi Heydari, cartoonist for the reform newspaper Shargh, in an open letter.

Shargh was banned and its managing editor imprisoned this week over a Heydari cartoon which showed men blindfolding each other in bright light. Authorities argued that the image was an insult to veterans on the 32nd anniversary of the start of the war.

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The Latest from Iran (27 September): A Newspaper is Banned, An Editor is Imprisoned

Protesters chase, heckle, and harass Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, iin New York

See also Iran Analysis: Ahmadinejad Exits Stage Left
The Latest from Iran (26 September): Denials, "Fake Allegations", and Ahmadinejad's Speech

1545 GMT: Food Watch. State grains agency GTC has bought 1 million metric tonnes (1.1 tons) of milling wheat in the past two weeks, mostly from the European Union, according to traders.

The news is a further marker of Iran's shift from exporter to importer of wheat. "They are buying bigger volumes than what was expected, they have big needs," one trader said.

Iranian wheat imports are usually handled by the private sector but the State has had to step in amid disruptions to trade financing.

"In the most recent buys in the last two weeks they have been taking almost anything that is available," another trader said. "They have been buying EU, Black Sea including Russian, Australian and other origins."

One trade source suggested desperation to feed livestock was one of the reasons for the huge import volume. "They don't have enough feed for animals, which means they are using milling wheat instead."

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