Wednesday September 23 – the daily story

The main headlines

While all eyes were on New York today the important stuff regarding Iran’s future appeared to be going on back home, where the Experts Assembly wrapped up its business without its Chairman, Ayatollah Rafsanjani, today by declaring its full support for the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. In a terse report on a meeting that appeared to have ended a day earlier than it was supposed to, PressTV said the assembly had declared Khamenei to be ”the sole choice that befits the robe of leadership” and than ked him for his “wise guidance” since the election.  It also congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his re-election. The only hint of condescension  to Rajsanjani’s ,mention the day before of a new plan to end the crisis was a suggestion to the president  to “take the advice given by religious leaders”.  The hardline Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami claimed that despite his absence, Rafsanjani was in agreement with every line of the assembly’s final statement. But Rafsanjani’s decision to walk out and continue discussions elsewhere was taken by many to indicate a growing sense of frustration at his inability to move the regime towards compromise, despite having gone a long way down that road himself.  Radio Zamaneh, PressTV

— According to several Twitter posts Rafsanjani held talks with assembly members in his office at the Expediency Council, where he is said to have complained that his efforts at compromise were dogged by a “secret group” – taken to mean the Hojatieh – that saw it as not in their interests.

Presidents Obama and Medvedev in New York today reached substantial agreement on how to proceed in dealing with Iran’s perceived quest for nuclear weapons, including a stament by the Russian leader that “serious additional sanctions, remain a possibility”, a significant shift in the Russian position. forextv.com, voanews

— The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany later told Iran to prepare a “serious response” for their October 1 meeting to demands to halt its nuclear programme or risk the consequences. The meeting will take place in Geneva, not Turkey as originally suggested.  Reuters ILNA

President Ahmadinejad faced increasing rows of empty chairs as he delivered his speech to the UN General Assembly, renewing his attack on Israel, which he accused of genocide, barbarism and racism.  The Canadians rose to leave before a word had left his mouth and the Americans, British and several others were not far behind.  According to AFP the walkout was joined by Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and  New Zealand. Other countries, like Israel, did not turn up in the first place.  Guardian, AFP,   Ahmadinejad’s speech

— In his address to the assembly President Obama warned that North Korea and Iran had put the world on a “dangerous slope” with their nuclear ambitions. But he avoided any specific threat of further sanctions. ABC News

—  Argentina’s President de Kirchner, in her address, called for the extradition of Iranian officials wanted over the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish centre which killed 85 people. JTA

— Thousands of demonstrators, claimed to be the biggest number in 30 years, gathered outside the UN to protest against Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime. Wall Street Journal

— Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the Iranian film director who sometimes acts as Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s mouthpiece abroad, said the Green movement shared international concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran and any agreement signed with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s “coup-empowered illegitimate government” would be subject to review. LAT

— In an interview with CBS Ahmadinejad expressed puzzlement at what he clearly regards as a  western fixation with the Holocaust when far greater numbers of other people also died in the Second World War, (although he did not actually deny the holocaust). Reformist leaders, meanwhile, were outraged by his answers to questions on the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during the protests.  CBS

— French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Ahmadinejad of  blackmail for suggesting a prisoner swap may secure the release of a French lecturer held in Tehran, adding that he refused even to consider such a suggestion. WashingtonTV

— Shirin Ebadi, the only Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize, has accused Britain of ignoring Iran’s savage suppression of the opposition in order to safeguard talks on its nuclear programme. timesonline

— The homylafayette blog has a detailed roundup of New York events.

Hojatoleslam Hossein Taeb, commander of the Basij, in a speech in Kerman marking Sacred Defence Week, said America was currently hiring agents and mercenaries to continue its plots for a soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Fars

Iran’s largest student organization, Daftar Tahkim Vahdat, has issued a statement condemning the growing trend of summoning, interrogating and barring student activists, describing it as “student apartheid”. Rooz Online

Azar Mansuri, deputy head of the reformist Mosharekat party, has been imprisoned since being arrested  by intelligence agents on September 15 as she was on her way home in the town of Varamin, southeast of Tehran, the NowRouz News website said. rferl

— The state broadcaster IRIB last night went for a refined version of courtroom confessions by broadcasting a prison “studio discussion” on the election involving two of the most high-profile prisoners, Mohammad Atrianfar and Said Hajarian (second and third left in video). Hajarian, paralysed by an assassination attempt, is unable to speak properly so his comments were shown as substitles. YouTube

Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, the spokesperson for the Association for the Defence of Press Freedom, has condemned the  unprofessionalism of conservative media in Iran in their attempts to defame journalists and political activists by accusing them of working with foreigners. Rooz Online

The MP Ahmad Tavakoli, who once served as Labour Minister under Mir-Hossein Moussavi, has written to him after the Qods Day protests accusing him of  “wanting to break the establishment along with himself”. In reply, Moussavi’s chief adviser Alireza Beheshti has questioned how this is possible when Mousavi has been silenced by the regime. pedestrian

The reformist daily Etemad says that over the last four years there has been a $27 billion shortfall between Central Bank export figures and Oil Ministry oil output figures. UPI

Iranian researchers are dismayed and angered that a 2009 paper co-authored by Kamran Daneshjou, Iran’s science minister, appears to have plagiarised a 2002 paper published by South Korean researchers. The alleged similarities between the articles were revealed yesterday by the website Nature. Iranian scientists say they intend to press for an examination of the allegations, and for the minister’s resignation should wrongdoing be established. The scientific credentials of Daneshjou have already been questioned by the Los Angeles Times in August. naturenews

In more detail

Mowjcamp carries an article in which parents of victims of the Kahrizak detention centre insist they  will go on seeking justice.

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