Friday September 25 – the daily story

The main headlines

The nuclear crisis reached a decisive moment when Iran was forced to admit to building a secret uranium enrichment plant inside a mountain near the city of Qom. The US, British and French leaders broke away from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh to announce their intelligence services had uncovered the plant. President Obama said it had been known about for more than two years. He insisted Iran allow UN nuclear inspectors full access to its nuclear programme while Premier Brown and President Sarkozy said the alternative would be tougher sanctions. Guardian, ABC News, Independent, Globe and Mail, complete text of announcement

— Hours before the announcement the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna revealed it had received a letter from Iran on Monday announcing that it had a second uranium enrichment plant under construction, but emphasising that this was to produce nuclear fuel only for electricity generation. Reuters

— New sanctions against Iran will be possible only after all other means of pressure have been exhausted, Russian President Medvedev said. “But if we run out of all other options, we could launch sanctions based on international law.” However, Medvedev also issued a statement declaring that the new plant violated UN Security Council decisions and should be investigated immediately. RIA Novosti, Reuters

— Chinese authorities have indicated they will not support further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. smartbrief

— Military action against Iran would only “buy time” and delay Tehran’s nuclear program by about one to three years, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates says in a CNN interview to be aired Sunday. “The reality is there is no military option that does anything more than buy time.” CNN

— President Ahmadinejad was caught out by the announcement and went on the defensive in an interview with Time, saying Obama should not have made such a statement “because it is definitively a mistake”. But later he held a defiant press conference in which he cast Iran as the wronged party, referring to the fact that Iran had alerted the nuclear watchdog to the plant’s existence. Time, FT.com

— Israeli officials and analysts said the disclosure of the new Iranian plant strengthened its claim that Tehran seeks nuclear weapons and bolstered the case for tough action. WSJ

— Iran’s UN mission dismissed the “baseless accusations” of French President Nicholas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown about Iran’s nuclear ambitions made at Thursday’s Security Council summit. Fars

— Iran is helping to detect uranium deposits in Venezuela and initial evaluations suggest reserves are significant, President Chavez’s government said. AP

President  Ahmadinejad continued to stir Holocaust controversy in an interview with NPR aired today in which he dismissed the accounts of survivors as “claims” and asked: “Why should everyone be forced to accept the opinion of just a few on a historic event?” NPR

— Ahmadinejad defended growing relations between Tehran and Latin American states, saying they were working toward the establishment of peace in the world. PressTV

Ayatollah Rafsanjani left the second day of the Experts assembly meeting for talks with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, it was claimed by Mahmoud Alavi, Tehran’s representative on the assembly. The claim was made in a report by Rooz Online that also revealed how Rafsanjani had come under bitter attack at the meeting from the Mashad representative, Alam al-Hoda. It said Fars news agency had published the entire text of his speech – even though meetings are meant to be secret – in which he blasted Rafsanjani for “his silence in the face of unprecedented insults against the leader of the revolution”. He invited Rafsanjani to “reform his behaviour before it is too late” . Rooz Online

Qorban Behzadian-Nejad, Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s campaign manager, has hit back at accusations by the hardline media that a committee was formed to communicate with foreign embassies during the election campaign. In an interview with Kaleme, he strongly denied the claims, even though communicating with foreign embassies was not a crime. Not only did such a committee never exist, but in one of the early meetings of the campaign’s foreign affairs committee in March, based on Moussavi’s views, it was decided to have no connection with foreign parties including embassies. He said the false claim was based on the “confession” of one of the reformist figures arrested after the election.

Ayatollah Janati, giving this week’s Friday prayers sermon in Tehran, said that if the judiciary and the security forces were unable to confront “rioters and agitators”, it is the duty of every Muslim to confront them. Payvand

Said Jalili, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, accused Germany of supporting the outlawed Mujahedin Khalq organisation by allowing it to have “bases” there. Fars

Mohsen Rezai, former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has revealed on Iranian state television that the corps’ intelligence service had been cooperating with the Soviet Union’s KGB as early as 1979. Homylafayette

The United States and key Arab states have expressed concern over the unrest in northern Yemen and offered “full support” to President Ali Abdullah Saleh as his army fights Shia rebels the Yemenis say are backed by Iran.  AFP

In a rare interview marking Iran’s Sacred Defence Week, commander of the Iranian navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told the Resalat daily how, in line with orders from Ayatollah Khamenei as commander-in-chief, the navy was expanding its operations from   the Persian Gulf to wider international waters. PressTV

Lord Corbett, chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, has accused Foreign Secretary David Miliband of “a shameful silence” over Iraqi attacks on Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf outside Baghdad. The Foreign Office says officials will visit the camp soon and have written to Iraq’s government on the matter. BBC

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has assured Iran it will not be left out at any decisions to be made on the status of the Caspian Sea. A letter to his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki came in response to Mottaki’s protest at Iran’s exclusion from an informal summit of the littoral states.  PressTV

Iran announced plans to increase its natural gas output by one billion cubic feet per day after inauguration of a new gas platform in the South Pars gas field in the first week of October. Fars

In more detail

A Payvand catchup on the meeting of the Experts Assembly with Ayatollah Khemanei is interesting if only because of the wealth of photographs of the men who hold Iran’s fate in their hands.

Little opportunity is being lost by people these days to show their opposition to the regime, even if it is by applauding it. This YouTube video of the funeral of the artist Parviz Meshkatian shows the audience clapping and cheering to drown out the eulogy of a government official.

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