Friday July 10 – the daily story

Obama confirms September deadline — President Obama hit out at the Iranian government’s “appalling” crackdown on post-elec tion dissent and confirmed that Iran had until September to show signs of cooperation  on the issue of its nuclear program. Speaking to the press at the end of the G8 conference in Italy, he said he had not abandoned his wish for negotiation, but the international community “will not wait indefinitely and allow the development of nuclear weapons, the violation of international treaties, and we wake up one day to find ourselves in a worse position without being able to act. My hope is that the Iranian leaders will be watching the final declaration of the G8 and that the position of the world is clear.”  In a clear threat that he would move for further sanctions on Iran if no progress was made by September he said:  “The international community said that there was a door to a dialogue that Iran can go to lowering tensions and join fully in the concert of nations. If Iran chooses not to cross the gate, then the G8 countries should worry about and I think many others would say also that we need to take additional steps.” Obama defended the G8’s earlier Wednesday statement on Iran against accusations that it was toothless. “This notion that we were trying to get sanctions, or that this was a forum in which we could get sanctions was not accurate.  I think the real story here was consensus in that statement, including Russia, which doesn’t make statements like that lightly.”

Iran says its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful means but the Christian Science Monitor quoted one expert on nuclear proliferation as saying the September deadline suggested America feared Iran’s programme was more advanced than they thought.  “What this says is, that these guys [in the Obama administration] are scratching the calculations and finding they don’t have as much time as they thought,” said Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington.  “Even being very conservative, it comes down to the Iranians having everything they need to make a bomb roughly by sometime next year.”, Christian Science Monitor

Call for election law changes — Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani took a softer than expected line on the recent disturbances when he led Friday prayers in Tehran today, with some online observers detecting implied criticism of the government. He certainly called on parliament to correct “any deficiencies it detects” in the country’s electoral law. There were few clues to precisely what changes he thought ought to be made, beyond saying: “There are certain legal and ethical points in regard to  the results of elections that can be dealt with.  The lawmakers should all look into the administration, campaigns and possible debates to spell out rules.” One suggestion he did make was setting a framework for televised debates to ensure candidates did not make negative remarks about their rivals, seen as a reference to the way Ahmadinejad openly accused Ayatollah Rafsanjani of corruption during their debate. In a tip towards Rafsanjani, Emami Kashani said: “If a person is insulted during an election  debate his supporters will naturally get angry.” Emami Kashani is no liberal, and spoke up for the concept of velayti fagih or regligious guidance in his speech. He also said people should beware creating tension in society or disturbing the peace. He accused opportunistic enemies of seeking to sow public discord. “An Islamic society can only administer justice if there is a feeling of solidarity among its citizens.” Tehran Times

—  Below is a link to a translation of Emami Kashani’s speech provided by blogger MikVerbrugge which puts a significantly different gloss on the speech than either the official Iranian press or the mainstream western media have. Since I have not been able to access an original of the speech yet I cannot verify its accuracy, although I have no reason to doubt it except a puzzlement that no one else appears to have latched on to what are clearly crucial passages. If correc t I would go further that than his interpretation to suggest that (not even between the lines of what is clearly a cleverly crafted speech) that it  is an attack on the supposed Mojataba Khamenei, Ahmedinejad, Yazdi power grab. Judge for yourself. MikVerbrugge

In other news

Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar, was arrested at his home late Thursday, his family said. Tajbakhsh, described as a social scientist and urban planner, was briefly jailed in 2007 on charges of endangering national security. Computers and papers were taken from his home by the arresting agents. Canada  summoned Iran’s top diplomat in Ottawa to demand the release of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari and said it was “gravely concerned” about the continuing detention. Meanwhile it was reported that the French ambassador had been permitted to visit arrested French academic Coltilde Reiss in Evin prison on Thursday.  AP, Time, France 24, AFP

A crowd of about 2,000 gathered outside the Iranian embassy in London in what has become a daily protest, avidly filmed by staff inside the embassy. “Any intelligent person would assume they’re sending the footage back to Iran,” said one police officer. Iranians in the US plan to stage a march in Washington  Saturday to demand action by the UN.  The Times

Brig Gen Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam, the Iranian police chief, said there was no question Britain was behind the outbreak of violence in Iran, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. “The role the British Embassy and the BBC have played is too obvious to be denied.” UPI


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