The main headlines
Deliberate provocation? Iran said it successfully test-fired short-range missiles during military drills by the Revolutionary Guard today. General Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, said a multiple missile launcher was also tested for the first time. Later a second stage of the war games exercise, which is code-named The Great Prophet IV, tested new warheads for its Shahab class missiles capable of destroying multiple targets simultaneously. AP, Gulf Times, PressTV, PressTV, Fars, Fars, Fars, photos
President Ahmadinejad returned to Iran from New York last night saying that during his US visit the American media conducted a coordinated campaign to damage Iran’s image. “It was obvious that they all followed a certain line.” He added that the West would soon regret its stance on the newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant. “This issue was turned around in a way that we believe they regret bringing it up. They may pursue this issue through the media but it has turned into a firm blow to the (western) arrogance.” PressTV
— Rouydadnews reported that while official media said a number of “students” had spontaneously gone to welcome the president home, many of them were 50 or 60 years old, taken to the airport in Revolutionary Guard buses, and presented the President with flowers bought at the airport.
— Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said the hue and cry staged by western leaders about Tehran’s nuclear activities were merely aimed at gaining an upper-hand in the upcoming Geneva talks with Iran. Fars
— China may vote in favour of UN sanctions against Iran in response to Tehran’s growing nuclear threat, Chinese experts predicted. Telegraph
— Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, who plans to visit Tehran next month to help resolve the nuclear dispute, warned that any military attack against Iran would be “insanity”. He also suggested the nuclear debate should be widened to include Israel. “Why aren’t we talking about this?… It’s always Iran… We have to be more fair and honest if we want global peace.” he said. AFP, Today’s Zaman
— US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she doesn’t believe Iran can convince the US and other world powers that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. abcnews
— The Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers urged Iran to take positive steps regarding its nuclear programme after meeting Clinton on the sidelines of the General Assembly. gulfnews
— Israel has been holding secret meetings with Arab leaders over the past several months with the aim of establishing a miniaturised Palestinian state and in hopes of gaining Arab acquiescence to a first strike on Iran. maannews
— US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, has announced that missiles from the shield defence system scrapped by President Obama would be moved to the seaborne Aegis ship system and deployed from the Baltic Sea. icenews
— The Pentagon has brought forward to December the target-date for producing the first 15-ton super bunker-buster bomb, according to the Debka website. The rush job was triggered in May by the discovery of Iran’s second uranium enrichment plant. Debka
— Calling “immediate comprehensive sanctions” against Iran, the exiled National Council of resistance of Iran claimed the “Iranian resistance!” had forst revealed the exiostence of the underground nuclear facilities near Qom at a press conference in Paris on December 20, 2005. NCR-Iran
— Hans Blix, the former chief UN weapons inspector, warned Western leaders they risked strengthening the hand of hardliners in Iran if they “corner” President Ahmadinejad on Iran’s nuclear programme. Independent
Ayatollah Rafsanjani, in a meeting with the Austrian ambassador to Tehran, expressed his hope for the removal of obstacles to Iran-Europe ties. “The European Union should put aside nit-picking over Iran’s use of peaceful nuclear technology.” PressTV
Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai has put forward a plan to create a national committee for election affairs that would eliminate the interference of government and the ruling factions. “A national committee for elections should be established so that the government is barred from involvement in election affairs,” he told a gathering of students in Masjed Soleyman, Khuzestan Province. Payvand, Radio Zamaneh
Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary of the Human Rights Headquarters of Iran’s judiciary and brother of both the Majlis Speaker and Head of the Judiciary, has launched an unprecedented attack on Mir-Hossein Moussavi. He likened the reformist leader’s “betrayal of the revolution” to that of Massoud Rajavi, leader of the outlawed Mujahedin Khalq organisation. Larijani also condemned Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, for his support of the opposition. “It is inappropriate for the House of Imam Khomeini to support a political movement that is aligned with the Mujahedin Khalq and Zionists, and is after secularising the country.” Radio Zamaneh, Pedestrian
Mohammad Reza Khatami, the former MP and a senior member of the Participation Front, issued a thinly veiled warning against Mir-Hossein Moussavi retracting his objections to the election result, something that is being suggested as part of a deal to end the political crisis. He told Etemad newspaper the front does not recognise the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad administration. He said he didn’t have a slightest doubt that, even if Moussavi said he had made a mistake and there were no fraud in the election, the people would denounce him and not accept his claim. Khatami added that, despite all the pressure, intolerance and arrests of party members, not one member had quit the party.
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the hardline former Head of the Judiaciary, has resigned as secretary of the Experts Assembly for health reasons, according to his son. His status as vice chairman remains unclear. Yazdi was not present at last week’s big assembly meeting. The resignation has not yet been official accepted by Ayatollah Rafsanjani, the assembly Chairman. Neo-Resistance
A consortium affiliated to the elite Revolutionary Guards bought a controlling stake in Iran’s state telecommunications company for the equivalent of around $7.8 billion, a further sign of the Guards’ growing influence in Iran. Although the winning consortium, Etemad Mobin Development, was described as an association of two private companies and one firm partly owned by the government, reports from Tehran indicated it was closely linked to the Guards. The losing bidder was a more clear-cut Guards vehicle led by the Iranians’ Economy Investment Company of Mehr – formerly called the Basij Loan Institution. Gulf Times, Bloomberg, AFP
A Tehran-based company specialising in reproducing classic cars is marketing replica vehicles based on the original design of the earliest Rolls-Royce models. The cars are hand-built from scratch to recreate the bodywork and hallmarks of models produced in Britain about 100 years ago. Guardian
In more detail
The armscontrolwonk publishes the two ariel shots of what is believed to be Iran’s secret nuclear enrichment plant near Qom together with a an analysis of its proportions.