Friday October 2 – the daily story

The main headlines

The head of the UN atomic watchdog, Mohammad El Baradei, will go to Tehran Saturday to discuss inspection of the new nuclear enrichment plant a near Qom. Khaleej Times

— Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki  dismissed media reports that he held talks with two US congressmen  during his visit to Washington last week. “These discussions will take place in the future if need be. But there were no such meetings on this particular trip.” PressTV

— An American official at the Geneva talks confirmed a “significant conversation” between the chief US and Iranian delegates on the sidelines of six-party talks. This is  believed to be the highest level of direct contact between Iranian and US officials since the American hostage crisis. Payvand

— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed cautious optimism about the results of the Geneva talks.  “Now the most important thing is to make sure these agreements are fully and timely implemented.” Xinhua

— The US House of Representatives late yesterday approved legislation that would impose sanctions on foreign companies that sell petrol to Iran, preventing them from holding contracts with the US Energy Department to supply the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve. AFP

The hardline onslaught on the “National Unity Plan” gathered pace today with the Chief Commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Ali Jafari, vowing to have nothing to do with any such plan. “It is not possible to create a unity plan with those who have broken the law and opposed the majority vote of the nation. They must first apologise to the people and submit to their choice.” Radio Zamaneh

— MPs of the powerful Clerics Faction will examine the Expediency Council plan announced by Ayatollah Rafsanjani to resolve the current problems once they are presented with it, their head Mohammad Taqi Rahbar said. He said they also planned to meet Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, secretary-general of the Combatant Clergy Association and the top religious leaders at the Qom seminary. In fact the top religious leaders are continuing their numerous private meetings on the crisis, according to Mehr news. Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei met Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, Grand Ayatollah Ali Safi Golpaygani, and Grand Ayatollah Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardebili to report on the current situation in the country. Makarem Shirazi and Golpaygani also held talks on Wednesday. The mayor of Tehran Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf – mentioned as a possible interim president – and members of the National Coalition Party have also met top clerics. also held meetings with the prominent clerics. Mehr

Security forces arrested 15 members of the central council of the Unity Consolidation Bureau student organisation in an early morning raid on their Tehran office, Radio Zamaneh reported. The students were taken to an unknown location. Tehran Bureau, quoting the Amir Kabir university newsletter, said they had been taken to the Information Ministry. The UCB issued a statement “strongly condemning this illegal act” and warning that the failure to  release them all immediately  would have “irrecoverable and unimaginable consequences.” Such blind acts, the statement said, were like “putting a flame to a  gunpowder barrel”. Radio Zamaneh, Tehran Bureau, Reuters

— Jelveh Javaheri, a women’s rights  activist, has been sentenced to six months jail for  “gathering material and collaborating against national security”. Javaheri, who was arrested June 17 with eight other activists,  is a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign demanding a change to discriminatory laws, a fact that is said to have been grounds for the conviction. Payvand

— CNN has broadcast interviews with two Iranians in Turkey who fled after allegedly being raped in prison. One is Ibrahim Sharifi – whose case was highlighted by Mehdi Karoubi – and the other is a woman, Maryam Sabri. CNN

The greens managed the odd shout during the 1-1 Esteghlal-Pirouzi football derby at the Azadi stadium according to various reports, but there were equally enthusiastic chants of ‘Fix, fix” after the seventh draw in a row between the two clubs (many think the result is deliberate to avoid an all out football riot!) and others of ‘We want football, not politics’. There was a huge security presence by all accounts, in and around the stadium and on buses taking fans there, and there was no local mobile phone service. No one was allowed in wearing anything green. Troublemakers inside the ground were quickly being taken away and some minor clashes were reported. Still, at the end the Greens did get a good bit of chanting going which the state broadcaster could not erase from the live coverage. Homylafayette, plenty of videos, Pedestrian

Abdolfattah Soltani, a member of Iran’s Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, was prevented from leaving the country as he prepared to board a plan in Tehran for Germany to receive the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. His passport was confiscated and he was order to report to the prosecutor’s office next week. Soltani was arrested after the June election but later freed on bail and given his passport back. Amnesty International

Hamid Sourian, the 2009 World Greco-Roman wrestling champion, has given his gold medal to  President Ahmadinejad, declaring that the president “is the real champion due to his strong presence at the United Nations General Assembly. He has gained pride and dignity for Iranians and all Muslims.” PressTV

Friday prayers just aint what it used to be. Today’s was held by Hojatoleslam Kazem Sediqi  who majored on the success of the recent war games and Iran’s absolute right to nuclear technology. Fars

Iran continues to provide significant amounts of support to insurgents in Iraq but to a smaller number of groups than before, the commander of US forces in Iraq General Ray Odierno has said. gulfnews.com

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has denied reports of the appointment of minor actor Hushang Tavakkoli as Deputy Culture Minister for Artistic Affairs. Tehran Times

Pakistan’s  former federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney, has contacted Iran about returning the bodies of  17 Pakistanis who died in an accident on September 11 as they were being illegally transported to Turkey. Reports say a total of 43 Pakistanis in the vehicle had paid 600,000 rupees each to be taken to Europe. International News

The America’s cup challenger BMW Oracle Racing will ask a New York court to reject Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates as the latest venue for the race and replace it with Valencia, Spain, citing “grave safety concerns” for their US-based crew because of the proximity to Iran. Independent

Iran’s Now Rouz new year holiday has been officially recognised on the United Nations calendar. NIAC

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