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Entries in Hamid Behbahani (2)


The Latest from Iran (28 September): Signals of Power

NEW Iran’s Nuclear Programme: Scott Lucas in La Stampa
Non-Proliferation and “Iran’s Nukes”: Chris Emery on Al Jazeera English
Latest Iran Video: The Universities Protest (28 September)
NEW Translating Iran: The New Site for Latest Documents

Iran: English Text of Dastgheib Letter to Assembly of Experts (22 September)
The Latest from Iran (27 September): Is There a Compromise Brewing?

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TEHRAN UNI PROTEST1940 GMT: Pedestrian offers some additional information on the events at the University of Tehran today. Contrary to our earlier report (0940 GMT), Minister of Science and Technology Kamran Daneshjoo was present. However, as Pedestrian notes from photos of the gathering, the crowd was sparse with almost no students in the audience.

1640 GMT: Getting Serious with Law-Breakers. Two stories showing the Government's firm and not-in-any-way-nervous response to protest. Drivers who honk their car horns during protests have been warned that they may be summoned to court. Fans attending the biggest match in Iranian league football, the Tehran derby between Esteglhal and Persepolis, should expect special security measures (which, of course, are in no way connected with recent Green Wave protests at football matches).

1635 GMT: Credit to the BBC. Earlier today we were less than charitable about "mainstream" media who did not seem to notice that demonstrations were occurring at Tehran University. The BBC's main site has posted a story with video.

1630 GMT: HomyLafayette has published an excellent overview of the sell-off of the Iranian state telecommunications company, in which a consortium linked to the Revolutionary Guard took a 51 percent stake.

1620 GMT: The Facebook site connected with Mir Hossein Mousavi has posted an extract from his statement today: "Ironically those who feel defeated in this year’s Qods day events were those who benefited the most from it. They found out in the most obvious way that three months of unprecedented violence not only did not have slightest effect on people’s presence, but rather made it more extensive."

Mousavi also made an indirect response to those who questioned his appearance at the rally amidst "pro-Government" demonstrators: "In the last Friday of this year’s Ramadan, I was present among those who some of them were welcoming me with their fists and were wishing my death. I was reviewing their faces as we were participating in the rally and I saw that l love them and that our victory is not something that anyone would be defeated in it."

1610 GMT: The BBC Persian report on the Assembly of Experts plan (1545 GMT) may not mention details but another account does allege that three conditions have been attached to the proposal: 1) no mention of "velvet revolution"; 2) no condemnation of street protests; and 3) no statement of support for the Ahmadinejad Government.

1555 GMT: Excuse of the Day. As long-time readers might recall, Enduring America has a special Swine Flu crisis team. So we were impressed to see the Iranian Government suddenly invoke the virus to close down universities for a week. We are certain that this is an imminent threat, even more imminent than Iran's nuclear programme, so that the closure has nothing to do with today's demonstrations. After all, Government ministers said in July that swine flu might delay the start of the academic year, a statement which was entirely unconnected with the political protests that were occurring at the time.

1545 GMT: The Rafsanjani Plan? BBC Persian reports the statement of Hashemi Rafsanjani that he brought ideas from the Expediency Council to last week's Assembly of Experts meeting for a resolution of the political crisis. Details of the plan were not given.

1525 GMT: It appears that all websites connected with Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are now down.

1405 GMT: Mehdi Karroubi has written another letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani, pressing the former President on how far he and the Assembly of Experts will seek to change the system and its handling of issues including the abuse of detainees (the subject of Karroubi's first letter to Rafsanjani in late July) but also privatisations benefitting the Revolutionary Guards, social questions, and the propaganda of State media.

1350 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi has issued a new statement on the "turning point" of the Qods Day demonstrations. He has also argued against further sanctions on Iran, for example, over its nuclear programmes, as the Iranian people have suffered enough under their "coup government".

1225 GMT: Latest news is dominated by what is coming out of Iran on the university protests. Not that anyone in the "mainstream" media is taking a bit of notice.

Indeed, there is a de facto alliance between Iranian state media and its "Western" counterparts to ignore the demonstrations in favour of narrow attention to Missiles, Missiles, Missiles. Fars News' triumphalism or Press TV's headline, "IRGC: We test fired upgraded missile models", can be swapped with CNN's lead story, "Iran fires off long-range missiles in latest test" or the BBC's "Iran tests longest range missiles" or Al Jazeera English's "Iran tests Shahab 3 missile".

0940 GMT: Universities Open, Protests Begin. As one of our readers has noted in Comments, reports are coming in of protests at universities as they begin the new academic year. An account of the demonstrations at the University of Tehran with chants of "Death to the Dictator!" is on-line, and video of the protest at  has been posted. There is a claim of more than 1000 students demonstrating at Daneshkadeh-ye Khabar (News College).

No one from President Ahmadinejad's office was present at the opening ceremony at the University of Tehran, and the Minister of Science was also absent.

0720 GMT: Missile Games. Iranian state media has published the next part of its script, Iran Is Really, Really Tough:
The Islamic Republic of Iran has successfully tested long-range Shahab-3 missile in a military drill dubbed The Great Prophet IV in a bid to bolster its defense capabilities, Press TV has learned....Shahab-3 missiles are said to have a range of 1,300 to 2,000 kilometers.

"Western" media will now take the stage to say, "Iran is Going to Kill Israel" (filling in the name of the country, which is not mentioned in the Press TV newsflash). Israeli leaders will hint darkly that they may now have to pursue military action,  and everybody will be very, very flustered as the 1 October talks in Geneva turn from engagement into showdown.

0635 GMT: Academic Fact of the Day. Yesterday we noted the allegation of the French newspaper Liberation that the Iranian Minister of Transport, Hamid Behbahani, plagiarised from French, Canadian, and Chinese scholars in a 2006 article. An EA reader adds, from the same article, that Behbahani was the Ph.D. thesis director of....Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

0615 GMT: And let's also pay tribute to Pedestrian for this item about Hojatoleslam Dehnavi on Iranian state television on the threat of “prank calls”, warning “housewives not to get emotionally attached to the callers":
Married women shouldn’t start talking, because before long, a longing develops. One housewife told me how she gets flustered if the caller does not call for one day. One other told me to find a way to pull her from this sinkhole of corruption she’s gotten herself into. These are married women after all, with husbands. Save yourselves from this sinkhole of corruption. What will you do with your conscience?

So, to elevate this serious discussion readers, what's your favourite prank call that, of course, does not threaten innoncent housewives? (I favour, "Do you keep Prince Albert in a can?", but I don't think that translates into Farsi.)

0600 GMT: Pedestrian has more --- much more --- on Javad Larijani's assault on the Green movement (0445 GMT).

Larijani not only linked the opposition to the Muhajedin-e-Khalq (MKO), with its 30-year campaign to overthrow the Iranian Government, he directly equated Mir Hossein Mousavi with Masoud Rajavi, the long-time head of the MKO: “Mousavi lost a good future in politics. He could have remained a great figure, but...[his] betrayal of the revolution is at one with Rajavi’s.” Larijani also launched a furious verbal assault on Seyed Hassan Khomenei, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomenei: “It is very inappropriate for the Imam’s family to support a certain political faction that is being applauded by traitors and zionists.”

Perhaps most intriguing, however, is an apparent attempt by Larijani to split the opposition by refraining from an attack on Mehdi Karroubi: “Karoubi is a pleasant man and considering his influential role in the revolution, we shouldn’t be too hard on him.”

0445 GMT: While international attention is almost exclusively on the Iranian nuclear programme, with the construction of the second enrichment facility near Qom, the internal power politics are far more significant for the fate of the Ahmadinejad Government.

We've published the text of a letter by Ayatollah Dastgheib, which highlights the intense debate within the Assembly of Experts over the future of the Islamic Republic and the space that should be given to the Green opposition. Meanwhile, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the Judiciary's Human Rights Division (and the brother of the Speaker of the Parliament and the head of Judiciary), has tied the Green Wave not only to Israel but to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, which has challenged the Islamic Republic for 30 years with assassinations, bombings, and sabotage: "“Mousavi was guilty of a great sin after the revolution and launched the reformist faction in the direction of protesting the system....If they had kept themselves from being angry after the elections, they would have seen that many of the Hypocrites [People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran, the political wing of Mujahedin-e-Khalq] and Zionists were applauding their activities.”

Fars News chooses, however, to avoid the internal disputes in favour of the Iranian challenge to the world on its military programmes. It upholds the Revolutionary Guard's praise for the "very high precision" of the missiles that Iran has test-fired in military exercises.

The Latest from Iran (27 September): Is There a Compromise Brewing?

NEW Iran’s Nukes: Did Gates Just Complicate the Obama Position?
NEW Transcripts: Secretary of Defense Gates on CNN, ABC
Iran's Nuclear Program: Gary Sick on the US Approach after the "Secret Plant"
Iran’s “Secret” Nuclear Plant: Israel Jumps In
Iran: The “Die Zeit” Article on Opposition and Change
Iran Video: Ahmadinejad Interview on CNN’s Larry King
The Latest from Iran (26 September): The False Flag of the Nuke Issue

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2100 GMT: Back to Compromise? After a day of tough signals, this paragraph on Press TV's website from President Ahmadinejad return-from-US press conference in Tehran jumps out: ""By his change of rhetoric, Obama has signaled a strong commitment in the presence of the General Assembly. If the American government is seriously pursuing the path of change, Obama's speech can be considered a start."

2045 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's website Kalemeh is down, and Mehdi Karroubi's Tagheer is still suspended 72 hours after announcing it was going off-line for construction.

1830 GMT: Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi Giving Up Key Position? Tabnak offers the intriguing report that Ayatollah Yazdi, a firm supporter of President Ahmadinejad, is resigning from the Secretariat of the Assembly of Experts.Yazdi will retain his membership of the Assembly and his Vice Chair post, but his withdrawal from the Executive diminishes a key challenger to Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Yazdi was absent from the recent Assembly of Experts meeting.

1545 GMT: An Economic Victory for the Republican Guard. An Iranian consortium in which the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps is reputed to be a major actor has bought a 51 percent stake in the State telecommunications firm in the biggest privatisation in Iran's history.

1445 GMT: Another Ministerial Fraud? After the criticism of the Ministers of Interior and Science for dubious doctoral degrees from British universities, now it is the Minister of Transport Hamid Behbahani who faces allegations of false credentials. An article in the French daily newspaper Libération, claims Behbahani plagiarised parts of a work of the Professor Christophe Claramunt, his Chinese colleagues, and the Canadian academic Gerry Forbes for a 2006 publication in a Lithuanian journal.

1440 GMT: Your Latest Proof of the "Velvet Revolution". A Revolutionary Guard offical has said that the television signals of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting were jammed during the election campaign. Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali claimed that "enemies of the country" had tried to jam the transmission during a Presidential campaign debate.

1200 GMT: Report that student activists Ali Rafai and Mohsen Jafari have been released from detention.

1045 GMT: The New York Times Gets the Story Wrong...Big-Time. EA's Mr Smith picks up on this morning's article by , NewDavid Sanger and William Broad, which opens:
The Obama administration plans to tell Iran this week that it must open a newly revealed nuclear enrichment site to international inspectors “within weeks”, according to senior administration officials. The administration will also tell Tehran that inspectors must have full access to the key personnel who put together the clandestine plant and to the documents surrounding its construction, the officials said Saturday.

The story asserts that, while "Iranian officials have...said the facility near Qom is for peaceful purposes, they have not explained why it was located inside a heavily guarded base of the Revolutionary Guards".

Mr Smith notes:
This is incorrect. In remarks yesterday to Iranian Television, [Iran's top nuclear offcial Ali Akhbar] Salehi said that they felt like they needed to build a plant for uranium enrichment with maximum security to avoid 'stopping the production of enriched uranium for peaceful purposes'. I think everyone agrees that Natanz [Iran's first enrichment plant] isn't that secure, built as it is in open air. Therefore you would have to think that Iran is getting pushed in going underground with its nuclear plants because of the never-ending military threats, mostly from Israel but also, incessantly, from the US.

So I wonder what would have happened if the hawks in Tel Aviv and DC had actually kept quiet rather than waving the military scarecrow all the time.

The US can say whatever it wants, but the heart of the matter is that, unless the IAEA proves that Iran has been feeding uranium into these plants, there is no violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Now, we can discuss ad libitum what the real aims of Iran are, as Sick has valiantly done, but everyone is, so far, putting intentions on trial, rather than actual, hard evidence on violations by Iran. True, Iran has been lying and is not reliable in its disclosures. But does this amount to legal violation? It doesn't appear so...

0835 GMT: This is More Like It. A day after Iran's nuclear negotiator offered Iran's willingness to consider International Atomic Energy Agency access to the second enrichment facility, its ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh, puts on a show of defiance: "I categorically reject that there have been any concealment or any deception."

As we predicted, Soltaniyeh rests Iran's legal case on the second plant on the claim that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty did not force revelation of the facility's construction, only its imminent capacity for enrichment: "It is a pity that none of these three leaders have legal advisers to inform them that according to comprehensive safeguards we are only obliged to inform six months before we put nuclear material [into the plant]."

The ambassador adds the flourish that it is Washington, Paris, and London who are the nuclear rule-breakers:
Those three countries in fact have violated for the last 40 years NPT articles. The United Kingdom has [a] secret program of [Trident] nuclear submarines...[costing more than £30 billion.... France is also working on the nuclear weapon programs continuously. Americans are working hard on the nuclear weapon posture review. These are all deceptions and concealment.

0825 GMT: Two new pieces on the Iran nuclear programme. Ali Yenidunya takes a look at Israel's intervention (rhetorical so far) while Gary Sick assesses how the "secret plant" story shapes US strategy and tactics in talks with Tehran.

0655 GMT: Acting Tough. In a move about as surprising as the Pope's endorsement of Catholicism, Iran has announced that it has test-fired two short-range missiles in a missile exercise called "Great Prophet IV". And there will be more launches as the exercise is planned to last several days.

The signal to the "West" --- We Won't Be Pushed Around --- will poke US and UK media into headlines of how this demonstrates Tehran's threat in the context of the furour over the second enrichment plant.

0615 GMT: And a Deal on the International Front? US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton moved quickly to welcome the comment of Iran's lead official on the nuclear programme, Ali Akhbar Salehi, that Iran would permit visits by the International Atomic Energy Agency, under the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to its second enrichment plant (a "defensive facility"). Clinton said:
It is always welcome when Iran makes a decision to comply with the international rules and regulations, and particularly with respect to the IAEA. We are very hopeful that, in preparing for the meeting on October 1, Iran comes and shares with all of us what they are willing to do and give us a timetable on which they are willing to proceed

Hmm.... Salehi's remark appears to have been a holding statement while the Ahmadinejad Government considers its next move, and Clinton's welcome --- unsurprisingly --- fits into a US strategy to back Tehran into a corner of acceptance. The Los Angeles Times reports this morning:
The U.S. and its allies plan to demand that Iran provide "unfettered access" to scientists and information regarding an underground uranium enrichment plant suspected of being part of a secret nuclear weapons program, an Obama administration official said Saturday. A deadline for the access has not yet been determined, but Iran probably would have to comply within weeks.

0600 GMT: Relatively little breaking in Iran this morning, as we look for further signals that there is a compromise plan, led by or involving Hashemi Rafsanjani, making its way through the Iranian system.

What little has come out points more to the continued fencing between opposing camps. Reports are circulating of more official complaints against Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign, while Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli party website has published information about the abuse and rape of another detainee.

The most interesting claim is that Sardar Khorshidi, the father of President Ahmadinejad's son-in-law and a decorated commander during the Iran-Iraq War, has said he personally witnessed vote-rigging in the June election. He also points to the fragility of the regime: ""If each protester had a stick on Qods Day, the Army wouldn't have withsood them."