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More Time, Please: Ahmadinejad's Legitimacy and Iran's Nuclear Talks

Iran: Text of Ahmadinejad Speech in Mashaad (29 October)
Latest from Iran (30 October): Now to the Real Contest
The Latest from Iran (29 October): Opposition Momentum?

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AHMADINEJAD7Here is what President Ahmadinejad said in a nationally-televised speech from Mashaad on Thursday.

Iran is strong. I am strong. Iran is strong because I am strong.

While the President covered a range of domestic and international issues, the passage on the talks on Iran's nuclear programme will receive the most attention today. As The Daily Telegraph of London declares, "Iran claims victory in nuclear battle with the West".

Unfortunately most coverage in the West will miss the significance of the speech. The New York Times, relying on usual on unnamed "diplomats in Europe and unnamed officials", is already proclaiming, "Iran Rejects Deal to Ship Out Uranium, Officials Report", a journalistic approach echoed by the Los Angeles Times.

That is untrue, at least according to both the Iranian Government and the International Atomic Energy Agency: Tehran's reply accepts the "framework" but raises issues over timing and amount of uranium stock to be delivered to Russia for reprocessing. More importantly, it shoves aside Ahmadinejad's presentation:
I don’t want to repeat history for you but can you remember where we were a few years ago? Back then, they shouted at us, issued resolutions against us, waged psychological warfare against us and issued sanctions against us. They told us that we should completely give up our nuclear program. Where are we today? Today, they pursue nuclear cooperation with the Iranian nation.

There were days when they said that we should not have the technology at all, but today they say: let us cooperate. Iran’s position in nuclear industry is well-established. Today, Iran’s nuclear activities are considered to be a normal and obvious procedure and an absolute right of the Iranian nation.

That is not a rejection of discussions with the "West"; it is an embrace of them. But it is an embrace based on the premise that the US and other countries have knocked at Tehran's door, gone down on bended knee, and asked forgiveness. Iran is no longer an international outsider; it is an accepted nuclear power.

Iranian state media is running quickly with this line. Press TV, for example, is featuring, "Israel worried by IAEA draft accord on Iran", noting, "Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says a draft accord presented by the IAEA would lead to recognition of Iran's nuclear enrichment program."

This is only part of the story, however. Let's get personal: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is fighting for his authority, not only against the Green opposition but against those within the establishment who object to his high-profile assertion of power. Remember how, only a few days ago, the stories were of Parliamentary leaders like Ali Larijani trashing the nuclear deal and of indications that the Supreme Leader was stepping in both to cast a veto and to put Ahmadinejad in his place?

No sign of those nay-sayers yesterday. Instead this was Iran as the President and the President as Iran.

That's not to say that, for the sake of Ahmadinejad's legitimacy and Iran's international position, Tehran will soon accept the US-led plan for third-party enrichment. To the contrary, the Iranians have serious objections to the details. The most straightforward is that the 80 percent of uranium stock to be shipped to Russia is far more than is necessary to keep Iran's medical research reactor --- the catalyst for this proposal in June --- operating for the rest of its lifespan. So, in Tehran's eyes, the current document is intended as much to keep most of its uranium "hostage" as it is to provide a stable supply for Iran's civilian needs.

And, given Ahmadinejad's position, the political advantages of spinning out the talks are there to be grasped. If there are alterations in the plan to reduce the amount shipped below 80 percent and to send it out in stages rather than in one delivery, these will be concession to Iran's and the President's strength. If the "West" walks away from the table, this will be an indication of their continuing deceptions and mistakes --- despite their apparent request for forgiveness from Tehran --- and Iran will be in the right as it maintains nuclear sovereignty.

Of course, there will be pressure in the US Congress for sanctions (the House of Representatives, despite the ongoing talks, has already passed a measure for tougher economic restrictions). Those, however, are President Obama's worry, as Russia and China are unlikely to give any support for multilateral steps.

So give Ahmadinejad credit for a political victory in Mashaad yesterday. But think of that victory as only a preliminary skirmish on an outside battlefield.

For the next time Ahmadinejad is due in Mashaad is on 13 Aban (4 November).

The Latest from Iran (29 October): Ahmadinejad Tries to Claim Legitimacy

NEW Iran: The Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting
Iran: The Supreme Leader’s Threat — Strength or Weakness?
Video: The Announcements for the 13 Aban Marches
Iran: Towards 13 Aban — The University Protests
Latest Iran Video: Families of Detainees Protest (28 October)
Iran: Are There Billions of Dollars Missing?
The Latest from Iran (28 October): The Supreme Leader Jumps In

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IRAN 40 DAY1940 GMT: Mondo Bizarro Analogy of the Day. A superficial Daily Telegraph report, "Iran accused of playing games on nuclear deal", is redeemed by this quote from "one diplomati close to the talks": "It's like playing chess with a monkey. You get them to checkmate, and then they swallow the king."

1920 GMT: Throughout yesterday and today (1210 GMT) we have been noting the significance of a meeting between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. We have posted an English translation, courtesy of Khordaad 88, of the account of the discussion from Mousavi's Kalemeh.

1645 GMT: Defiance of the Day. Mowj-e-Sabz features the story of a mathematics student at Sharif University who challenged the Supreme Leader on Wednesday with a series of points about politics, media, and the Iranian leadership.

1505 GMT: Iran has formally submitted its response to the International Atomic Energy. As expected, Tehran has accepted the "framework" of third-party enrichment but wants further discussions on details, such as the timing and amount of uranum stock to be sent to Russia for enrichment.

The IAEA press release says merely, "The Director General is engaged in consultations with the government of Iran as well as all relevant parties, with the hope that agreement on his proposal can be reached soon."

1210 GMT: Now to Make Your Head Spin. In the current context of Ahmadinejad's move, this quote from Mir Hossein Mousavi in his latest talk with Mehdi Karroubi takes on significance: "The discussions in Geneva were really surprising and if the promises given (to the West) are realised, then the hard work of thousands of scientists would be ruined. And if we cannot keep our promises then it would prepare the ground for harder sanctions against the country."

Got it? Mousavi is against the third-party enrichment deal, trying to outbid Ahmadinejad as the defender of Iran's interests and sovereignty.

1200 GMT: Spinning Ahmadinejad Out of Control. The "Western" misunderstanding of the President's manoeuvre, not seeing the internal dimension in Ahmadinejad's quest for legitimacy through the nuclear talks, is escalating. CNN reproduces some of the quotes we have highlighted but reduces them to a "rare conciliatory note" struck by Ahmadinejad.

1110 GMT: Another note on the Ahmadinejad Nuclear Play (0850 and 1040 GMT). It is also significant that the Iranian President emphasised responsibility for past contracts in his talk today, calling on other countries to "fulfill their previous obligations"
We have nuclear contracts. It has been 30 years. We have paid for them…such agreements must be fulfilled … for technical activities, for reactors and power plants. If we intend to cooperate, such contracts must be addressed and the previous commitments must be fulfilled.

As an EA reader shrewdly noted during the Vienna talks, when Iran tried to sideline France from any agreement, Tehran is determined to get either finanical or political advantage out of pre-1979 payments to Western countries for nuclear reactors that were never completed.

1105 GMT: An EA source claims that Iran's judiciary officials are refusing to allow the lawyer of Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh to file an appeal against his 15-year prison sentence.

1040 GMT: Western media are buzzing about President Ahmadinejad's statement on the nuclear talks (see 0850 GMT), to the point of mis-reading it.

The Los Angeles Times has a lengthy snap analysis which declares, "Iran's president appears to back nuclear proposal". That's not quite right. Ahmadinejad did not refer to the specific deal on third-party enrichment which Iran is still considering (its reply is supposed to be presented by its Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency today). Instead he declared:
In the past ["the West"] said that we had to halt our nuclear activities. But today they say, 'Come consult about finding solutions for world problems,' and they want to cooperate for the exchange of fuel and development of nuclear technology and establishing a nuclear plant.

That is not an endorsement of a specific agreement but of the general process, and it is an endorsement based on the political advantage for the President rather than any benefit to Iran's nuclear position.

In other words, as we predicted and then debated in early October, Ahmadinejad is trying to use the Geneva and Vienna talks to establish an internal legitimacy that has been in question since 12 June. Whether that effort, which is largely going unnoticed by "Western" media succeeds, will be highlighted by the events up to and including the 13 Aban demonstrations.

0925 GMT: Human Rights Activists in Iran has issued its latest update on the status of post-election detainees, including the hunger strikes of Fariba Pajooh and Hengameh Shahidi.

0850 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Nuclear Play. The Iranian President has asserted, in a televised speech from Mashaad, that Iran will not retreat "one iota" on its nuclear rights, but it is ready to cooperate on uranium enrichment and nuclear technology. The proposed deal for third-party enrichment for Tehran's medical research reactor is Iran's opportunity to evaluate the "honesty" of world powers and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The President's trip to Mashaad, which is to be the first in a series of visits around Iran, and Iranian press --- as opposed to colleagues in the "West" --- are noting his general references to various issues in housing, industry, agriculture, water and natural resources, and urban planning. However, I'll repeat: Ahmadinejad is clearly using the nuclear figure to strike the pose of confident leader defending Iran. However, focusing on the international front is risky, given the bubbling internal situation leading up to 13 Aban (4 November).

0830 GMT: Ayatollah Khamenei is not the only political figure making a headline statement. The reformist politician and cleric Abdollah Nouri, in an interview with Advar News (summary via Pedestrian), declared that the post-election detentions were a signs of the regime's "hopelessness":
Each of these prisoners is connected to a bigger network. And their family, their friends, the country, we all feel close to them. The establishment has kept them in prison, to keep this protest against the establishment alive? What kind of strategy is that? I am guessing that certain analysis are offered to the lord of the establishment, which predicts that if the prisoners are freed, the establishment’s problems will grow. This is an analysis made out of hopelessness and must not be the basis for decision making.

But Nouri's attack went much farther:
They consider the parts of the constitution which stresses the rights of the people to be worthless trash and other parts as a holy book. When people act on their legal rights, they consider it an act against national security and a step towards overthrowing the system. So who is not acting according to the constitution, the protesters or the establishment?

0815 GMT: The Supreme Leader also made a public statement in his meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, focusing in this case on Iran's regional position: "The Western prescription for solving problems in the [Middle East] is not justice-based and efficient and cannot solve the region's issues, including the issues of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan."

Khamenei praised Erdogan's policies, declaring, "Your stance in supporting the Palestinian people was rational and a right move in line with Islam. Adopting such stances will strengthen Turkey's position in the Muslim world."

0720 GMT: We begin today with an analysis of the Supreme Leader's threat to the opposition, handed down in a statement on Wednesday, which may surprise some readers.

Far from seeing it as a move of strength to break up the movement before 13 Aban (4 November), I am reading it as a speech coming out of regime uncertainty and worry over recent signs of protest, both from leaders and from the general public.

Meanwhile, the Government has flexed its muscles, albeit against another "foreign agent" with no connection to the Green movement. Hossein Rassam, an Iranian employee of the British employee, has been sentenced to four years in prison. Rassam was arrested soon after the 12 June election and paraded in the Tehran trials --- like Kian Tajbakhsh, the Iranian-American scholar recently given a 15-year jail term --- as a prime example of the "velvet revolution".

On the international front, a International Atomic Energy Agency team has returned from its three-day inspection of the second uranium enrichment plant at Fordoo near Qom. The head of the team called it a "good trip". Data from the plant will now be analysed and summarised in a report for the IAEA's Governing Board.

Iran: The Supreme Leader's Threat --- Strength or Weakness?

Iran: Towards 13 Aban — The University Protests
The Latest from Iran (29 October): Opposition Momentum?
The Latest from Iran (28 October): The Supreme Leader Jumps In

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KHAMENEI4I had just returned from a 2 1/2-hour roundtable on "Obama: The First 300 Days" when I read of Ayatollah Khamenei's Wednesday statement, via an activist on Twitter:

"Questioning the principles of the election is the biggest crime....The very next day after election without any proof or evidence some PPL called the election a lie....The enemy exploited this & those who from the beginning were not supporters of the state joined them....Within the first hours I sent a private message telling them what they R starting will be used by enemy....I told them what they are doing will be exploited by the enemy & this is exactly what has happened."

Getting the news via 140-character bursts heightens the impact, yet as I found the articles, inside and outside Iran, narrating the Supreme Leader's message, the initial reaction did not fade even as it evolved. Evolved from surprise to concern and then hope.

Surprise because I had not expected such a direct assault on the opposition leaders. This is the most pointed warning that the Supreme Leader has put out since his Friday Prayer address a week after the election. Since then, he has spoken more generally about the "foreign threat", letting others shake the fist against internal challengers.

And Khamenei's timing is intriguing. Why raise the stakes so publicly a week before the demonstrations on 13 Aban? Why not let the protest play out, expecting that, for all the efforts of the Green wave, the regime's restrictions on movement and communications would keep mass gatherings (or at least news of those gathering) below the numbers on 15 and 20 June? Of course, a threat may be intended to back down movement leaders keep people off the streets, but it can also have the opposite effect.

The concern is that the Supreme Leader's message is not rhetoric but the portent of action. It is more than the threat that "something will be done" if the protests materialise on 13 Aban; it is a signal that in the next six days moves will be taken to break up opposition.

Some Iranian activists are going even farther, claiming that the Supreme Leader is also intervening against the compromise of the National Unity Plan. The speculation is that Khamenei has decided there will be no reforms in the system; instead, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the architects of that Plan, has gotten the message and warned the opposition that the hammer blow is imminent.

Perhaps. But that is not my reading of the situation. Indeed, after the shock of those initial Twitter flashes had eased, I found concern giving way to an optimism. The Supreme Leader's message is not one coming out of the decision for a coordinating response to knock down the opposition before it can mobilise; it is one forced by the fragmentation and uncertainty within the regime.

First, a personal belief. It is no more than a belief because I cannot verify this assertion, but the more I look at Iranian decision-making over the last month, the more I suspect that the Supreme Leader has been quite ill. The twists and turns of the Iranian tactics in the nuclear talks; the muddled responses to the Sistan-Baluchestan bombings (remember, Khamenei did not issue a statement until days later, after the over-the-top reactions of the Revolutionary Guard and the more measured deliberation of the Ahmadinejad Cabinet); the lack of any evidence that there has been a critique of and response to the National Unity Plan, supposedly sent to the Supreme Leader weeks ago.

If (and I know it's a big if) that is true, this is not just a question of Ayatollah Khamenei reasserting the authority of the regime. It is an issue of reasserting his personal authority, showing strength not only to opponents but to allies.

Yet I return to the point that this was not just a general declaration of Khamenei's firm hand and mind, it was a specific challenge. And it is a challenge issued not after a period of relative calm in the political situation, but after days of resurgent opposition --- the Karroubi statements, the Media Fair episodes, the Mousavi-Karroubi meetings, the signals from senior clerics the university protests.

This, in short, was not a statement which had long been planned by the Supreme Leader to top off the political reality: I'm Back, All is Well. This was a speech which was quickly prepared because the regime is shaken.

Shaken does not mean crumbling. But I think the greater concern this morning is not with the Green movement but with Ayatollah Khamenei. Far from shutting down the movement on 13 Aban, the Supreme Leader may have just indicated that this movement is very, very alive.

It is six days to the demonstrations of 4 November.

The Latest from Iran (28 October): The Supreme Leader Jumps In

NEW Latest Iran Video: Families of Detainees Protest (28 October)
NEW Iran: Towards 13 Aban --- The University Protests
NEW Iran: Are There Billions of Dollars Missing?
NEW Iran: Mehdi Karroubi Speaks with Journalists (27 October)
Latest Iran Video: University Protests (27 October)
The Latest from Iran (27 October): Domestic and Foreign Collide

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IRAN 3 NOV DEMOS 32100 GMT: And for those looking for yet another account of the Karroubi-Mousavi meeting (see 1220 and 1350 GMT), here is the version from Mousavi's website Kalemeh.

1930 GMT: We've posted video of today's demonstration by families of detainees in front of the Tehran Prosecutor General's offices (see 1150 GMT).

1835 GMT: And Then There's the Nice Supreme Leader. Mehr News ignores the Khamenei challenge to the opposition, preferring the Supreme Leader's exhortation to students, “The political insight and religious principles and concepts in the depth of the thoughts of the youth show that today’s younger generation cannot be stopped, and this pure reality is the guarantor of the continuation of the country’s progress.”

Only later in the article does Mehr sneak in the criticism of the Green movement, “The day after the election, some called that great election a lie without any reason or justification. Is it a minor offence?”

Press TV finally gets around to the harsh Khamenei attack on "certain people", but they prefer to avoid the issue for several paragraphs, focusing instead on "foreign attacks".

1810 GMT: Khamenei Intervenes. And the Supreme Leader's message, after the Media Fair episodes, the Mousavi-Karroubi meeting, and the University demonstrations is: Enough is Enough.

Speaking to university staff and students today, according to state television, Khamenei made his sharpest direct attack on opposition leaders since early in the post-election crisis, saying "questioning [of] the basis of the election [was] the biggest crime". He added, "Of course some people inside (Iran) may not be aware that they are moving in line with the enemies' threats, but this issue will not change the truth."

Khamenei claimed that he had sent a private message to opposition leaders, saying that they were starting would be used by enemy". He then issued a not-so-veiled challenge over further moves, claiming, "A politician has to be like a chess player & predict their moves & their results in advance."

1350 GMT: Emrooz has also posted a brief report of the Mousavi-Karroubi meeting. Rooz Online has a longer piece, focusing on the Mousavi-Karroubi discussion of Iran's relations with the "West".

1220 GMT: Did Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi meet? Mizan News says so: the four-hour discussion included consideration of the enrichment agreement with the "5+1" powers, the continuity of the Green movement, and issues related to political reform. They stated the intention to form a joint committee for these concerns, emphasising the need of further regular meetings.

1210 GMT: Thanks to new information from an EA correspondent, we've moved our initial item this morning, on the significance of university protests, to a separate entry.

1154 GMT: Amnesty International has issued a call for the release of 76-year-old Mohammad Maleki on health grounds. Maleki, former Chancellor of Tehran University, has not been seen by friends or family since 14 September. He has been suffering from prostate cancer.

1150 GMT: Families of detainees protested today in front of the office of the Tehran Prosecutor General. They were surrounded by security forces, who prevented others from joining them. (English summary from Reuters, who do not the presence of security forces)

1145 GMT:The reformist Association of Combatant Clerics have held a meeting, chaired by former President Mohammad Khatami. They called on people to demonstrate on 13 Aban (4 November) but to show restraint in the face of the regime's violent provocations.

1135 GMT: Reuters is reporting from Mehr News that Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, will present Tehran's response on Thursday to the proposal for third-party enrichment.

0945 GMT: We've posted an entry posing the question, "Why is $66 Billion Missing from Iran Government Accounts?"

0725 GMT: Karroubi Speaks Again. We've posted an English translation of his latest comments, made to journalists who visited him in his house.

0643 GMT: Human Rights Activists in Iran have a summary of the latest developments in the cases of post-election detainees.

0630 GMT: Pedestrian offers a fascinating account of the protest at Chamran University in Ahwaz (see video page).

The catalyst was the appearance of member of Parliament Hamid Rasaee, who has signed a letter asking the judiciary to prosecute Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi. In his speech, Rasaee compared former President Mohammad Khatami to former US President George W. Bush, claiming, "The followers of Bush in Iran hide behind Khatami’s aba [clerical robe].”

The speech, which was supposed to open a conference on “soft warfare”, was greeted by screaming students wearing green and throwing empty water bottles and --- apparently --- green peppers at him. Unable to continue the speech, he responded, "We believe in the exchange of ideas and respect other people’s viewpoints but here, I am greeted with shouts of liar. We are allowing you to express your view and thus we are not dictators.”

To students' shouts of “Clumsy fool, go back to Tehran!”, he answered, “If Rasaee was a clumsy fool, 40 million people [who voted for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] would not have have given you a slap in the face”. This only brought the chant, "Liar, where is your 63% [the claimed share of the vote for Ahmadinejad on 12 June]?"

The exchange continued for some time, with students finally shouting, "Torture and confessions will no longer silence us.” The conference on soft warfare was reportedly canceled.

0600 GMT: The Government still seems to be occupied --- I would argue distracted --- with the haggling over the uranium enrichment deal. An EA reader offered the essential comment last night that Iran's call for re-negotiation of terms appears to be over a vast over-supply of its holdings for enrichment in Russia: the life of the medical research reactor is only 15 years, but the processing of 80% of Iran's stock provides 110 years of uranium.

That still leaves a curiosity: why did this apparently obvious objection not arise before the Vienna technical talks and indeed during them? Beyond that, however, there is the political impact at home. The regime seems to be scrambling and sometimes arguing amongst itself.

It is exactly one week to 13 Aban (4 November).

The Latest from Iran (27 October): Domestic and Foreign Collide

NEW Latest Iran Video: University Protests (27 October)
NEW Iran: More on Kian Tajbakhsh and Tehran’s “Velvet Revolution”
Latest Iran Video/Translation: Karroubi on Events in the Iran Media Fair
Iran’s Political Confusion: Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the Nuclear Agreement
Latest from Iran (26 October): After the Fair

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IRAN FLAG2015 GMT: 13 Aban Does Not Exist. Homy Lafayette offers more detail on the Government's order to state media to "refrain from disseminating any news, photo, or topic which can lead to tension in the society or breach public order" during the demonstrations on 13 Aban (4 November).

The article includes an English translation of the document, issued by Deputy Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Alireza Malekian.

1810 GMT: Iran's Nuclear Manoeuvre. If this story from Press TV is accurate, then Tehran is haggling over the details of third-party enrichment, rather than walking away from the deal.

The article re-quotes the source who spoke to Al Alam TV (see 1015 GMT), "Iran will announce its response to the proposal put forward by [International Atomic Energy Agency] Director-General [Mohamed] ElBaradei on Friday, October 30." The official added that Iran did not want to send 80 percent of its uranium stock in a single shipment to Russia, as set out in the deal from the Vienna talks: "Iran as a uranium buyer knows best how much uranium, enriched to a level of 19.75 percent, it needs [for its medical research reactor]; based on this argument, it will raise certain issues with this proposal."

In other words, Tehran will insist on a lower amount of uranium --- currently, the deal is for 1.2 million out of 1.5 million tonnes --- being sent to Russia in the first shipment. More would be delivered for enrichment as the medical reactor required new supplies.

The report is seconded by the head of Parliament's Foreign Policy and National Security Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, "Iran can send the scheduled amount in separate shipments so that its fuel supply [provided by foreigners] is guaranteed....Iran can send only a part of its stockpile … and then as it receives its 20 percent enriched fuel it will send the next portion."

A word of caution on this interpretation: Boroujerdi is close to President Ahmadinejad and is putting the pro-deal view. It is unclear whether the dissenting voices such as Ali Larijani (and possibly, behind Larijani, the Supreme Leader) have come around to this position.

1750 GMT: Back from a teaching break to find that Rooz Online, following up a story prominent on the Internet this morning, has published details of an alleged Government order to censor and possibly shut out any news of mass demonstrations on 13 Aban (4 November).

1230 GMT: As reports continue to come in, with claims of 1500 students protesting at Azad University in Tehran, we've posted the first video footage.

1020 GMT: Reports that students gathered to demonstrate at Tehran University but are being forced to move by security forces.

1015 GMT: Reuters is reporting, from Iran's Al-Alam television, that Iran will accept the uranium enrichment agreement but will demand changes. The source is an "unnamed official" who indicates Iran's reply will be made within 48 hours.

0810 GMT: Detentions, Concerns, and Hunger Strikes. Human Rights Activists in Iran has posted a summary of latest developments regarding post-election detainees. Included is the information that journalist Henganeh Shahidi and student Payman Aref have started hunger strikes.

0800 GMT: Myth, Imprisonment, and "Velvet Revolution". We've just posted more on the jailed Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and the regime's accusations and tactics with the claim of foreign-directed regime change in

0715 GMT: A reader has pointed us to a report posted by CNN on a prison riot in Karaj, west of Tehran, on Sunday. Interestingly, the story comes from the National Council of Resistance in Iran, the opposition movement headed by Maryam Rajavi and linked to Mujahedin-e-Khalq.

0635 GMT: Meanwhile CNN International (broadcast, not website) is focusing on a peripheral story. Pakistan detained and has now released 11 Iranians who crossed the border yesterday. The original line was that the detainees were Revolutionary Guard members, possibly pursuing or looking for leads on those linked to last week's bombings. Pakistan, probably after discreet talks with Tehran, is now calling the wanderers "security guards"; Press TV portrays them as "border police" pursuing smugglers.

0630 GMT: Now The Washington Post has picked up on the effect of the internal debate on the enrichment agreement (and vice-versa) with an overview by Thomas Erdbrink, "Iran officials appear split on nuclear plan".

0600 GMT: One of the standing rules for analysis, when students and I consider US foreign policy, is that what happens overseas cannot be separated from what happens at home.

So it is proving --- and may prove in a significant way in the next 72 hours --- in Iran.

Tensions over the decision on the uranium enrichment deal are now beyond simmering and openly bubbling. Even this weekend, all the signals from the Iranian Government were that it would work out any issues and sign the proposal, with a significant portion of Iran's uranium stock going to Russia for enrichment, by Wednesday or Thursday. Now, all bets are off.

Readers took yesterday's analysis of the possible conflict between the Supreme Leader and President Ahmadinejad to a new level with their comments, but this morning I still find myself with questions rather than answers. The straightforward explanation would be that the Supreme Leader, working through the statements of Parliamentary leaders like Ali Larijani and Mohammad Reza Bahonar, is now blocking agreement. But, if so, why did he apparently endorse "engagement" to the point where the deal was almost struck? What could be the calculation in approaching the International Atomic Energy Agency, and thus Washington, in the summer and now walking out on the deal at the 11th hour?

Other theories from our readers include an Iranian "good cop, bad cop" act which would allow Ahmadinejad to portray himself as the guy who wanted to work with Obama but had to give way to Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranians walking out of the arrangement because their ploy --- getting uranium for the medical reactor enriched for free while retaining enough of their stock to pursue other programmes --- hasn't yielded enough of a result.

Fortunately for my confusion, if not the general situation, there should be some clarification by Friday. Iran can't spin out the post-Vienna deliberations beyond the weekend, given that the US has already let last Friday's deadline slide in expectation of a Tehran decision within a few days. So it's accept, reject, or try to bring the "5+1" powers back to the table for talks.

And that declaration from Iran will in turn give the US Government, as well as the European powers, Russia, and China, a somewhat paradoxical choice. If Tehran does not sign the enrichment agreement, does the Obama Administration continue engagement, possibly strengthening the Iranian President against his own Supreme Leader? Or does it walk away (or is forced away by Congressional and public hostility to any more talks), now watching an internal Iranian situation in which Washington is no more than a bystander?