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Entries in Japan (22)


The Latest from Iran (1 December): Politics, Oil, and Propaganda

See also Iran Analysis: How to Misread Ahmadinejad's Position
The Latest from Iran (30 November): An Economy in Confusion

1935 GMT: Health Watch. A Ministry of Health official has said that the Central Bank has agreed to the Ministry's request for an earmarked $2 billion for imports of medicine to cope with domestic shortages.

Amid international sanctions that have reportedly limited drugs and medical supplies, the Ministry has been criticised for mismanagement and failure to allocate funds to deal with the worsening situation.

1715 GMT: Oil Watch. India's private refiner Essar Oil increased imports of Iranian oil about 30% in October.

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The Latest from Iran (14 July): Sanctions Watch

Mehr shows how Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz with its missiles --- an interactive infographic has also been posted

See also The Latest from Iran (13 July): Revolutionary Enemy-Breaking Queues for Chicken

2049 GMT: Economy Watch. We started today with good-news stories from Fars about 5000 Iranians registering to buy the new automobile of the Iran Khodro Company and a "quality appreciation certificate" presented to Khodro by Renault (see 0600 GMT). We end today with this different perspective from AFP:

Iran's auto production fell by more than 36 percent over the past three months, the industry ministry was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying on Saturday, citing "lack of money".

Production fell to about 241,500 vehicles in the first quarter of the Iranian year (March 21 to June 20), according to the figures.

Iran built more than 1.5 million vehicles in 2011/2012.

The decline coincides with the halt of parts deliveries to Iran by French manufacturer Peugeot because of Western sanctions.

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The Latest from Iran (23 June): All-Is-Well Oil News

See also The Latest from Iran (22 June): Supreme Leader "More Talks, Please"

1915 GMT: Economy Watch (Zionist Edition). Looks like Iran's problems with domestic production and rising prices have opened up unexpected imports --- the head of the Tehran Association of Fruit and Vegetable Sellers says cherries from Israel sre available in Iran for $3 per kilogramme.

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The Latest from Iran (22 June): Supreme Leader "More Talks, Please"

1305 GMT: Food Watch. Fars holds up the possibility of India exporting three million tonnes of wheat to Iran as part-payment for Iranian oil.

The Islamic Republic, beset by production problems, complications from subsidy cuts, and payments difficulties, is facing wheat shortages, and the price of bread has risen sharply this spring.

Earlier this year, India and Iran struck an arrangement for Delhi to pay 45% of the cost of Iranian oil in rupees, which are not convertible but can be used to purchase Indian products.

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The Latest from Iran (20 June): Nuclear Talks Over, Sanctions on the Way

Claimed photograph of a memorial on Tuesday at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan, killed by a gunshot during the protests of 20 June 2009

See also Iran Analysis: The Nuclear Talks --- The West Looks for an Iranian Crash
Remember Iran Flashback: 20 June 2009 --- The Death of Neda...And Many Others
Middle East and Iran Audio Feature: "Oil and Politics" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
Latest from #Iran (19 June): An Opening at Nuclear Talks? (No.)

1141 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Rear Admiral Abbas Zamini has declared that Iran will soon unveil 10 new domestically-built frigates and destroyers.

The Islamic Republic's first home-constructed destroyer was launched in 2010. Another destroyer will supposedly by completed by March 2013.

0926 GMT: Oil Watch. The Japanese Parliament has approved Government guarantees on insurance for crude oil cargoes from Iran, responding to imminent European Union sanctions.

The law will take effect on June 27. It allows the Japanese government, which has succeeded in getting a waiver from U.S. financial sanctions, to provide cover of up to $7.6 billion for each tanker.

The EU sanctions, starting on 1 July, prohibit European insurance firms from covering Iran's exports.

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The Latest from Iran (30 May): Profiting from the Sanctions

See also Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- From House of Cinema to "Forbidden City"
The Latest from Iran (29 May): Putting Parliament in Place

2015 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Muhammad Sahimi has provided a translation of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's interview with Jomhouri Eslami about the nuclear talks. Like others within the regime, Rafsanjani portrays the Obama Administration --- despite its weapon of sanctions --- as dealing from weakness, in this case setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, his assessment of tactics in last week's Baghdad discussions is a shrewd assessment, rather than a promotion of Islamic Republic triumph or US perfidy:

It appears that they [the P5+1] are united for the negotiations. Even China and Russia have said that Iran must stop uranium enrichment. In the past they never applied such pressure, and this has made the situation somewhat difficult.

After the Istanbul meeting [on 14 April], both Iran and the West made statements that created false optimism. We wanted to create some hope in the country, and the Westerners, due to the economic problems that they have, needed the negotiations. But it became clear in Baghdad that things are not that way. We still do not have complete information, and it is not easy to evaluate and analyze. What is clear is that they have come forward with the weapon of sanctions and say that, using them, we have forced Iran to come to the negotiation table.

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Iran Snap Analysis: Propaganda, Negotiations, and the Economic Ties That Bind

Iran's media outlets and spokesmen are putting out the message that it is the US and Europe, not the Islamic Republic, who are economically weak --- this, rather than a genuine desire for agreement, is why Washington and allies are pursuing the nuclear talks. However, the argument is propaganda, not assessment, leaving the important question whether Tehran's officials actually believe the illusions of their rhetoric.

If they do, then they may be in for an awakening as they go to Moscow on 18-19 June. Given the economic difficulties within Iran, which cannot be masked by rose-coloured proclamations, and the European Union's cut-off of Iranian oil imports from 1 July, US and European governments believe they have the upper hand. Having planned for alternative supplies to cover the drop in oil taken from Tehran, they can afford to play the game long. It is far from certain that the Islamic Republic can do so.

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The Latest from Iran (17 May): Arms to Syria?

See also Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- Attacks on Journalists, A Death Bounty for A Rapper, A Woman Dragged from the Book Fair
The Latest from Iran (16 May): Remembering Political Prisoners from Science to Religion

Syria's Assad & Supreme Leader1955 GMT: All-Is-Well Alert. Saeed Jalili, Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, has told a university audience six days before talks resume with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China):

Those who feel they can pressure the Iranian nation through sanctions are playing our game. This move leads to new formations within the Islamic Republic and its efficacy in different fields, which will gain momentum. Our progress is the result of the very thought of sanctions.

Minister of Industry Mehdi Ghazanfari chips in, "Iran enters the 5+1 Group negotiations as the 17th largest economy of the world."

Jalili also offers an interesting claim of a missed opportunity for the US and European Powers when talks broke down in October 2009: "Had the Geneva II [negotiations] given us 20% fuel, we may not have managed to achieve our fuel."

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The Latest from Iran (25 February): A Far-from-Simple Election

A man sweeps up discarded flyers for the Parliamentary campaign

See also Iran Snapshot: Expecting an Unhappy New Year in Tehran
Iran Analysis: Elections and Power --- This is More Than The Supreme Leader's Show
Iran Document & Snap Analysis: The IAEA Report on Tehran's Nuclear Programme
The Latest from Iran (24 February): Here a Deviant Current, There a Deviant Current

1735 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Voice of America has posted video of Amir Mansour Khosravi, the man at the centre of the $2.6 billion bank fraud, detailing bribes of 600 billion Toman (then about $500 million) to officials from Transport, Industry, & other Ministries, as well as banks.

1725 GMT: Elections Watch. Digarban notes conservative and principlist bloggers who are calling for an election boycott next Friday, including Ahmad Najmi from Qom, Mohammad Saleh Meftah of "Tribune of the Disenfranchised", and Hesameddin Motahari of "Ketab-e Esha".

The pro- Ahmadinejad "Armanshahr" (Utopia) and "Khat-khati" (Criss-cross Lines) blogs also doubt that the Parliamentary vote will have any value for people.

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Iran Snap Analysis: Are the Oil Sanctions Tightening on Tehran?

We already knew about the US effort to persuade Japan and South Korea to reduce their supply of oil from Iran. What is striking now is the inclusion of China. Officially, Beijing is taking the firm stance that it will not agree to any stiffened sanctions. We have suspected that, behind the scenes, the Chinese might be more accommodating to a reduction of their imports from the Islamic Republic.  The New York Times observes, "This weekend [China's] prime minister, Wen Jiabao, will begin a five-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, perhaps to explore the prospect of increased energy imports."

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