President Ahmadinejad and former President Rafsanjani enter the first session of the new Parliament todaySee also The Latest from Iran (26 May): Propaganda Watch
1825 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Earlier today (see 0635 GMT) we had noted the defiant stance of the head of the atomic energy organisation, Fereydoun Abbasi, that the International Atomic Energy Agency would not be allowed to inspect the Parchin military site. This, we suggested, was a major step back from possible accomodation over Iran's nuclear programme, given that IAEA head Yukiya Amano had said only a week ago that an agreement over inspections was imminent.
Western media, however, are focusing on another section of Abbasi's comments on State TV, namely that Iran is standing on its right to enrich uranium to 20% on its soil: "“We have no reason to retreat from producing the 20 percent because we need 20 percent uranium just as much to meet our needs."
We are not so struck by the remark. Abbasi has been a "hard-liner" in the past --- in contrast to, for example, President Ahmadinejad --- on the level to which Iran can enrich.
Today's comment should be seen more as a re-assertion by the regime of a tough negotiating position after the failure to get any advance, and indeed signs of a retreat, on a deal at last week's Baghdad talks. Iranian officials blame the situation on the initial proposal put by the 5+1 Powers, which did not explictly recognise Iran's right to enrich and which offered no significant gesture on sanctions.