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Entries in Iranian Labor News Agency (3)


The Latest from Iran (31 January): No Backing Down

2240 GMT: We close tonight by posting a video of the comments of Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, defending the regime's approach in the Presidential election and against subsequent protests, on CNN.

2155 GMT: News from Evin Prison. Another demonstration tonight by families of detainees and their supporters --- Peyke Iran reports hundreds present. The website claims 23 detainees have been released to the cheers of the crowd.

2020 GMT: All is Well! All is Well! Today's award goes to a Brigadier General Hassan Firouzabadi, who offered this assessment of the current situation:
The Islamic Republic of Iran is looking at a bright future under the aegis of the visionary leadership of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and the support of a considerable number of devotees inside and outside the country...

“Ceremonies marking the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution will kick off this year at a time when Iran has made great progress in various fields of science and technology. The global powers, along with their supporters inside the country, desperately sought to undermine the principles of the Islamic Revolution.

So, Mr Firouzabadi, we pass over to you the EA All is Well Trophy Video:


NEW Latest Iran Video: Foreign Minister Mottaki on Elections & Protests (31 January)
NEW Iran Analysis: Mousavi and Karroubi Answer the Regime — “Defiance”
NEW Iran From the Outside: Helping Through “Active Neutrality”
Latest Iran Video: Defending the Executions (30 January)
Iran Document: Mousavi-Karroubi Declaration on Rights and 22 Bahman (30 January)
Iran’s Executions: The Reformist Participation Front Questions to Sadegh Larijani
Iran Patriotism Special: Wiping the Green From The Flag

The Latest from Iran (30 January): Threat

2015 GMT: The speaker of the reformist minority group in Parliament, Mohammad Reza Tabesh, resigned to protest restricitons such as the filtering of the party's website Parleman News and the banning of its reporter from the Parliament and preventing guests of MPs from entering the Parliament. (Those guests include family members of political prisoners. One delegation was turned away today.)

The Deputy Speaker and members of the party intervened and requested Tabesh to remain in his post.

1920 GMT: Mahmoud, They Haven't Forgotten You. Just in case anyone was wondering if the "conservative" opposition to the Government had gone quiet, a refresher on a story from yesterday....

High-profile member of Parliament Ahmad Tavakoli, in a letter to Ahmadinejad through the website Alef News, has criticised the warnings handed out to newspapers by the Press Supervisory Board: "In most of the cases the reasons mentioned were very unsound and unbelievably unjustified." Tavakoli also derided the Ministry of Intelligence's list of 60 international organisations, involved in "soft war" with whom Iranians were to have no contact: "In the spheres of politics and media, it is the duty of the government to enhance freedom and to ban illegal limitations and narrow-minded restrictions."

1915 GMT: On the Economic Front (cont.): The Central Bank has issued a gloomy report about Iran's economic performance in recent months, with declining investment, output, and exports. The report has appeared in both the Green movement's Rah-e-Sabz and the pro-Rafsanjani Ayande News.

1800 GMT: On the Economic Front. The Swiss engineering group ABB AG has stopped taking new orders in Iran with a view to ending operations in the country.

1755 GMT: Iranian Labor News Agency reports that 218 members of Parliament have signed a motion calling on "prominent figures" to support the Supreme Leader:

“We must give stern warning to the enemies and bullying powers that their conspiracies will be thwarted by Iranian wise and vigilant nation as before. We advise the prominent figures who fanned the flames of dispute to make good on their mistakes and remain committed to rule of law."

1745 GMT: Detainee News (cont.). Dr. Alireza Beheshti, Mir Hossein Mousavi’s top advisor (not to be confused with Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, another Mousavi advisor) and son of the late Ayatollah Beheshti, has complained about unacceptable prison conditions in a short telephone call to his family. Beheshti's wife said that the regime is still searching for charges against her husband; one of the possibilities is that he has multiple mobile phone numbers.

Beheshti, detained in the new wave of arrests after Ashura, has suffered a heart attack while in custody. He reportedly has not been able to meet his lawyer or study his file.

1645 GMT: Larijani, Tough Guy. An English translation of the remarks of Sadegh Larijani (see 1445 GMT), head of Iran's judiciary, from Rah-e-Sabz's original report:

Larijani, while defending the execution of a number of people, particularly those accused of being a Mohareb (enemy of God), said: "These people were Moharebs and members of terrorist groups, had weapons or were found with explosives when arrested."

Sadegh Larijani once again reiterated the resolve of the judiciary in dealing with Mohareb groups and said, "Legal criminal procedures were meticulously followed during every phase of the investigation with regards to the cases of these individuals."

With regards to those who seek to create an illusion that there was negligence by the judiciary system in dealing with the defendants and who suggest that they were arrested hastily and without respect for the law, Larijani said, "The criteria by which the judiciary addresses all judicial cases is based only on Sharia (religious and divine law)."

1615 GMT: Detainee News. Seyed Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, a senior advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi senior advisors and the chief editor of his Kalemeh Sabz newspaper, is still in solitary confinement. Beheshti, detained in the Ashura demonstrations, has not been charged, has not been given a lawyer, and has not been allowed to contact his family.

Dr. Ali Arab Mazar, another imprisoned Mousavi advisor, has finally spoken to his family in a two-minute phone call.

1445 GMT: Defending the Executions. A quiet news day has been interrupted by a statement from the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, justifying Thursday's executions of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour.

1015 GMT: Colleagues at Iran Review in Tehran have notified us of a series of analyses, from their staff and from the Iranian press, offering insight into Iranian positions on Afghanistan, on the West's approach to Tehran's nuclear programme and Russia's position, and on Iraq's forthcoming elections.

0935 GMT: Fist-Shaking of the Day. Officials in the Obama Administration use their favourite reporters at The Washington Post and The New York Times, to show they are getting very tough with Iran.

With further sanctions on Tehran complicated both by the resistance of other countries and by differing views of the White House and the US Congress, "military officials" have proclaimed that anti-missile defences are being accelerated in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait.

There are other motives in the posturing. An administration official declares, “Our first goal is to deter the Iranians” if Tehran gets a bit miffed about tougher sanctions. That's a pretty weak line, since Iran is unlikely to launch an overt military attack (to my knowledge, Tehran has not done so since the 1979 Islamic Revolution). The official's second aim, "to reassure the Arab states", is more a pointer to the ongoing political battle between Iran and the US for influence in the region. The third objective, however, may be the most significant, beyond the appearance of toughness, "There is certainly an element of calming the Israelis as well.”

0850 GMT: Spinning Hashemi. Iran's state outlet, Press TV, gives the "appropriate" reading for Hashemi Rafsanjani's cautious, balanced statement on the marches of 22 Bahman (11 February). Setting aside any notion of a challenge to the regime, the website headlines, "Hashemi-Rafsanjani: February 11 rallies will foil outside ploys".

0820 GMT: The website of the Holland-based Radio Zamaneh, a key location for news and analysis in the post-election crisis, has been attacked by the "Iranian Cyber Army", the same group that diverted traffic from the Green website Mowj-e-Sabz,   Twitter, and the Chinese service Baidu.

0805 GMT: Another Show of Defiance. More than 2000 people --- detainees' families, Mothers of Mourning, and supporters --- reportedly gathered outside Evin Prison on Saturday night to call for an end to executions.

After the killing of two detainees on Thursday and rumours of more hangings, the demonstrators demanded not only an end to executions but also the unconditional release of all political prisoners. The families of prisoners were told that 23 detainees would be freed, and a few were released, including a 23 year-old woman who expressed her thanks to the crowd.

0800 GMT: The biggest news story on Saturday was the statement of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, responding to the regime's threats, trials, and executions, as they maintained their criticism of the Government and called on followers to march on the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, 22 Bahman (11 February). We have posted a separate analysis.

Amidst our continuing discussions of the relationship between the Green movement and those outside Iran, we have also posted an incisive comment from Mahmood Delkhasteh, proposing the policy of "active neutrality".

And we have posted a video of a Tehran University academic, speaking on Al Jazeera English, defending last Thursday's executions of two political prisoners.

The Latest from Iran (23 January): Looking for Clues

2155 GMT: Kalemeh reports that the wife of the late Seyed Ahmad Khomeini, the son of Ayatollah Khomeini, has been attacked by clerical students.

1905 GMT: Economic Rumour or Reality (cont. --- see 1135 GMT)? The "bank crisis" continues to spark Internet chatter, whether accurate or mischievous --- the German-based Akhbar Rooz reports on bank closures after panicked customers tried to withdraw their money because of reports of bankruptcies. And Voice of America Persian is now broadcasting on the topic.

Iran Discussion: How Would Ahmadinejad Fall? (And What Would Come Next?)
Iran: A Response to “The Plot Against Ahmadinejad”
UPDATED Iran: The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad
The Latest from Iran (22 January): Breaking News

1900 GMT: You Couldn't Make It Up (Unless You're Iranian State Media). Earlier this week Kayhan, the "hard-line" Iranian newspaper, reported that a US "HARP" energy-shifting weapon caused the earthquake in Haiti.

We noted the item in amazement and good humour --- as a reader noted, shrewd Iranians think of Kayhan as Iran's version of The Onion, the satirical US "newspaper" --- and thought that would be that. However, Press TV, linking up with Venezuelan partners, keeps the joke going today:

An unconfirmed report by the Russian Northern Fleets says the Haiti earthquake was caused by a flawed US Navy 'earthquake weapons' test before the weapons could be utilized against Iran.

United States Navy test of one of its 'earthquake weapons' which was to be used against Iran, went 'horribly wrong' and caused the catastrophic quake in the Caribbean, the website of Venezuela's ViVe TV recently reported, citing the Russian report.

1845 GMT: Arrest at Beheshti Ceremony. Norooz reports that the son-in-law of Ali Reza Beheshti, the detained Mousavi chief of staff, was taken away by Iranian authorities today. The arrest occurred at the protest/ceremony (see 1500 GMT) at the grave of Ayatollah Beheshti, Ali Reza's father.

1635 GMT: Rafsanjani Chooses A Side or Issues a Warning? The Los Angeles Times, via Iranian Labor News Agency, reports on remarks by Hashemi Rafsanjani today: "At the present juncture, I consider the Supreme Leader to be the most competent individual to resolve the problems the Islamic Republic is currently faced with."

Rafsanjani's remarks follows Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech this week calling on "elites" to stop being ambiguous in the current conflict and to choose sides. Beyond his apparent declaration of allegiance --- note the "at the present juncture" --- Rafsanjani maintained a customary general call for unity, "I'm quite sure that moderate individual from both political camps in the country can help the Supreme Leader find solutions to the existing problems."

Then, however, Rafsanjani offered some intriguing remarks on "extremism":
I've always based my action on moderation and refrained from any extremism. Since the victory of the revolution, we have not witnessed proper conditions any time extremists were given room to maneuver....

Extremists have always cleared the way for counterrevolutionaries to damage Islam, the regime and its leadership. As far as I know (emphasis added) the Supreme Leader, he never favors illegal acts and extremisms from any political factions.

Rafsanjani followed this with an invocation which could be read either as a defense of velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy) or a veiled put-down that Ayatollah Khamenei has not maintained the high standards required of his position:
The Islamic Republic has managed to reach stability thanks to popular support and the leadership of Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini who won people's hearts. Today, all forces loyal to the system and the revolution should feel obliged to safeguard this valuable legacy. The world will open to us if we effectively create a free and developed country free of any superstition.

1630 GMT: Fars News has posted an article on today's trial of three detainees arrested during the Ashura protests. The three are among five defendants who are on trial; all today were accused of links to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO).

1623 GMT: Neda's Birthday Ceremony. Setareh Sabety translates the account, provided by an Iranian activist (see 1500 GMT), of today's ceremony on the birthday of Neda Agha Soltan:
Near 2 p.m. we reached plot 257, Neda’s grave was adorned with candles, rose petals and pictures of her childhood. From the first moments...plainclothesmen in cars and on motorcycles started surrounding the plot.

Neda’s mother claimed (Iranian authorities) had not allowed her to hold a 40th day memorial for her daughter so she had to commemorate her birthday instead. The previous day authorities had told Neda’s brother that holding a birthday (celebration) for her was allowed as long as no slogans were chanted.

Slowly the number of people attending the ceremony increased. Present were mourning mothers and their supporters and tens of (other) individuals who had made it to the cemetery. When Neda’s mother saw the people appearing one by one, as she was crying loudly, she addressed her martyred daughter, "Neda darling, wake up and see how many guests are here for you. Last year you were alone. Wake Up!” The distraught mother would sometimes sit by her daughter’s grave and stare at it, remembering her.... It seemed like the people surrounding this mother and her daughter’s tomb were remembering Neda’s last open-eyed look. The look that seemed to scream freedom!

Neda’s birthday cake was placed on her tomb with a ‘27’ on it, while her mother cried, “My darling Neda is twenty-seven, People’s Neda is 27 years old." As the crowd increased around 2:45 p.m., two cars from security forces stood facing plot 257. The security forces stepped out with three plainclothes men --- Neda’s aunt was taking pictures of the tomb when the forces spoke to Neda’s father and asked to see the pictures in Neda’s aunt’s mobile phone.

Ashkan Sohrabi’s mother called and (said) that on Navab St. officers stopped cars and kept them from going to Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. For as long as 15 minutes they had prevented Ashkan’s family from moving. Finally they managed to get to Behesht-e Zahra from another route.

At the end of the commemoration the Mourning Mothers stood in front of Neda’s tomb and quietly sang this poem from Parvin:

You left my heart is heavy
From the night you did not return
Blissful world turned sad
From the night you failed to return

At 3:25 p.m. an unmarked white van stopped in front of plot 257 and a few plainclothes men came out as though to make the crowd disperse.

1610 GMT: Radio Farda reports that, during today's meeting with the family of Ali Reza Beheshti after the ceremony protesting his detention (see 1500 GMT), Mehdi Karroubi declared that the road to resolve the issue of detainee abuse "had been closed".

It is unclear whether Karroubi's statement was in response to the overtures from Ali Larijani (see yesterday's updates) for opposition leaders to join a process of reconciliation.

1505 GMT: Amidst his further allegations of Government abuses and crimes over the Kahrizak Prison scandal (noted as part of the coverage of "The Plot Against Ahmadinejad"), Abdolhossein Rumolamini claimed that a fourth detainee, Ramin Aghazadeh Ghahremani, was killed at the facility last year. The incident was covered up to “avoid hurting the public's conscience”.

1500 GMT: Two Ceremonies. Family, mourning mothers, and supporters gathered at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan this afternoon. Activists report that security forces stopped some people from attending.

A ceremony was also held at the grave of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti to protest the detention of his son Ali Reza, chief advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi. Those attending were family members of the martyrs of 7-Tir, killed in an attack soon after the 1979 Revolution which took 72 lives, including Ayatollah Beheshti. The family members also Hashemi Rafsanjani, in his role as the head of the Expidency Council and the Assembly of Experts, to protest Ali Reza Behesti's imprisonment.

1300 GMT: We have posted an urgent update in "The Plot Against Ahmadinejad": a new interview with Abdolhossein Ruholamini with claims on the Kahrizak Prison deaths, printed in the newspapers linked to both Mohsen Rezaei and Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

1235 GMT: Alef News has continued its pressure on the Government, opening a discussion on the problems of the Presidential election.

1225 GMT: Mohammad Hassan Haeri Shirazi, the son of Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi, has continued his challenge to the Supreme Leader. Having criticised Khamenei for overseeing a deterioration of democracy and the moves to an oppressive regime, Haeri Shirazi has declared that the Supreme Leader must be accountable for the actions of his headquarters and associated institutions (IRIB, Revolutionary Guards and Basiji, Islamic Propaganda Organization, deputies in universities, Kayhan newspaper, and the Guardian Council).

1150 GMT: Health Concerns. In addition to the heart attack of Mousavi advisor Ali Reza Beheshti, Rooz Online notes the transfer to hospital of Hassan Ahmadian, head of the Mousavi campaign's public committee, because of a worsening kidney condition.

1145 GMT: The 31 Manifesto (cont. --- see 0845 GMT). Rooz Online has an English translation of an interview with Dariush Ashouri, one of the expatriate intellectuals who signed this week's declaration: "The Green movement’s strategy of nonviolence is a reflection of a new political philosophy in Iranian society. The foundations of this philosophy are the principles of tolerance and pluralism."

1135 GMT: Economic Rumour or Reality? After chatter this week that Iran's major banks are on the verge of insolvency, Peyke Iran reports that the Bank-e Mellat branch in Tehran's Bazaar was closed by security forces. And Rah-e-Sabz writes that the Government has asked Parliament for 15 billion Toman ($15.2 million) to ease the cash problems of the banks.

1125 GMT: Mediawatch (2). Britain's Channel 4 goes for human interest rather than political recommendation, featuring an interview with Caspian Makan, the fiancé of Neda Agha Soltan. Neda, who died from a Basiji gunshot on 20 June, would have been 27 today.

1010 GMT: Mediawatch. A big symbol of the changing line in the US Government and associated networks towards the Green movement comes in Richard Haass' "Enough Is Enough" for Newsweek, as he explains, "Why we can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for regime change in Iran".

Haass, who was a high-level official in the State Department in the Bush Administration and now heads the Council on Foreign Relations, marks himself out as a "realist" in the artificial divide from "neo-conservative".
However, given the stalemate in the talks on Iran's nuclear programme, Haass now believes, "The United States, European governments, and others should shift their Iran policy toward increasing the prospects for political change. Leaders should speak out for the Iranian people and their rights."

Given Haass' place in the Washington-New York corridor of power and his image as a "moderate", the column is being quickly picked up as a sanction for the US Government's backing of the Iranian opposition. Barbara Slavin of The Washington Times and Laura Rozen of Politico, both channels for and gatekeepers of the acceptable in US foreign policy, are already circulating the article.

0955 GMT: The Moving Image of Protest. More directors, including Britain's Ken Loach, have announced that they will not attend Iran's Fajr Film Festival.

0950 GMT: Launch of the "Greenlist". Sabzlist, a listing service for the Green movement, has been launched. Initial posts include requests for volunteers, offers of assistance, and a call for an MC for a fundraiser.

0940 GMT: Non-Story of the Week. Press TV's website announces, "An Iranian lawmaker says the Parliament (Majlis) has settled on limiting relations with Britain, rather than a full severance of ties as advocated in a bill last week."

The bill, if passed, would still have consequences, reducing the level of diplomatic representation between Iran and Britain from Ambassador to Chargé d'Affaires. However, it is primarily a vehicle for bluster about "foreign intervention", as in lawmaker Hossein Sobhani-Nia's declaration, "Considering the gross interference of the British government in the post-election developments, the Parliament (Majlis) has opted for lowering the level of ties between Tehran and London."

0830 GMT: Claims of the Week. Peyke Iran has two stories which raises eyebrows. The first asserts that the relatives of high-ranking officials are fleeing Iran and seeking asylum abroad.

The website also alleges that children are now being detained when their activist parents are arrested by Iranian authorities.

0825 GMT: The 31 Manifesto. This week's statement by 31 Iranian intellectuals and artists, calling for a new system in which government is separated from religion, continues to attract attention. Deutsche Welle Persian features an interview with signatory Hossein Bagherzadeh, who declares that the Green movement differs from the 1979 Revolution.

0820 GMT: Movin' On Up. President Ahmadinejad's advisor on press affairs, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, is reportedly going to become the head of the Islamic Republic News Agency.

0815 GMT: A new Green website, Neda-ye Sabz-e Azadi, has been launched and has immediately been filtered by Iranian authorities.

0800 GMT: We begin this morning by reviewing yesterday's feature on "The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad". There is an update evaluating how the story stands up 24 hours later, and Chris Emery and an EA Iran specialist consider the complications of removing the President and what comes next.

Iran Exclusive: The Latest Nuclear Riddle --- Renewed Talks with "West"?

It all started with a story this morning in Israel's Haaretz: "Iran has suspended its uranium enrichment program for two months, Iranian media sources reported on Monday, saying the move was meant as a gesture of good will toward Western powers."

The only problem with the report is that "the Iranian media sources" were not cited, and analysts, including EA contacts, could not recall seeing any news of a suspension.

Iran Special Analysis: A US Move to “Sanctions for Rights”?
The Latest from Iran (11 January): Reading the Regime

Finally, another Israeli website clarified the source:

....statements made by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast to quasi-official news agency ILNA [Iranian Labor News Agency] last week. The report was first published in Tehran Times, which is considered the mouthpiece of the Iranian regime.

"A number of neutral countries asked Iran not to enrich uranium for two months in order to give the West time to respond to Iran's proposals. We agreed to this request in order to show our good will to the international community," said Mehmanparast.

According to him, of the two months granted to the West, one month has already passed: "If the other side responds to Iran's requests (to carry out the agreement according to its requests) in the remaining time, we will start working. Otherwise, we will make the necessary decision."

Officials in the West told Ynet that they "are unaware if this kind of suspension was indeed carried out."

That, however, is not the entire story. According to Laura Rozen of Politico, US officials are very much aware of an Iranian attempt to find an agreement: "A U.S. nonproliferation hand confirmed Sunday that Iran had offered a formal response [on third-party enrichment of Iran's uranium] in late December or early January."

The issue is that Iran's preference for an uranium "swap" inside the country is unacceptable to Washington:
While the Iranian fuel-swap response was said to have been conveyed by the highest levels of the Iranian government, U.S. officials contacted Sunday gave no public indication that they have any interest in the counter-offer.

“The Iranians have been saying different things for weeks, but what matters is whether they will accept the IAEA's proposed TRR deal, which they agreed to in principle on October 1 but then walked away from,” an administration official said. “They know what they need to do to satisfy the international communities concerns and to date they have not done so.”

The Tehran Research Reactor proposal, or TRR, calls on Iran to immediately send 1,200 kg of its LEU to Russia, and France would in return supply Iran with nuclear fuel cells for medical use.

Put it all together, and the Ahmadinejad Government has far from closed the doors on discussion. Indeed, needing "legitimacy" in the face of internal troubles, it is Tehran now pressing for a deal.

The Obama Administration, however, does not appear to need to make any concessions to Iran. With the US Congress playing "bad cop" and proposing sweeping sanctions, the White House can be "good cop" and say "the third-party enrichment deal is the best you will get".