Sunday October 4 – the daily story

The main headlines

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad El Baradei, announced that IAEA inspectors would visit Iran’s new Fordo uranium enrichment plant near Qom on October 25. He also confirmed that US, French, Russian and Iranian officials would meet on October 19 to discuss possible enrichment of Iran’s uranium to a higher grade abroad. PressTV, Fars, PressTV

— Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was upbeat about future negotiations with the UN nuclear watchdog, saying: “As far as safeguards are concerned, Iran’s nuclear issue has been fully resolved.”  PressTV

— Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has handed the Kremlin a list of Russian scientists believed by the Israelis to be helping Iran to develop a nuclear warhead.  timesonline

— In a meeting with El Baradei, President Ahmadinejad said President Obama was running out of time to put policies in place that showed he really meant to pursue change.  “There is not much time for the materialisation of this motto, and lack of action means losing opportunities.” Fars

— Deputy Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Bagheri, acknowledged in an interview on state television that  informal talks took place between American and Iranian officials in the sidelines of last week’s Geneva meeting, which he said was at the request of the Americans. But he insisted that only issues related to the main talks were raised, not other matters like American prisoners in Iran and bilateral relations. The opposition, of course, often complains that while it gets into trouble for so much as looking at a foreign diplomat, the Ahmadinejad regime seems perfectly at liberty to hold cosy tete-a-tetes with the “Great Satan”. Payvand

— Iran’s  Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Ali Shirzadian insisted El Baradei’s visit was not the result of last week’s Geneva talks and had been arranged a week previously. Fars

— Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari increasingly has the air of a man getting carried away with himself. Today he declared that the timing of Iran’s recent missile war games was a  determining factor in the outcome of the Geneva talks. Fars

— Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said the International Atomic Energy Agency had failed to monitor all the nuclear activities of countries. “Its record shows that it has not been successful in this regard because of political issues.” ISNA

The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei today announced a number of changes at the top of the Revolutionary Guard, the significance of which were not immediately apparent. A key change was the replacement of Hojatoleslam Hossein  Taeb as commander of the Basij by Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi. It is not clear how this fits with reports at the weekend that the Basij is to be merged with the ground forces of the Guards. Taeb is a controversial figure held responsible by the opposition for some of the worst excesses in the post-election crackdown. Naqdi is a hardliner and former  Commander of the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Counter-intelligence section who was, according to various internet references, a thorn in the side of the Khatami administration.  Brigadier General Hossein Salami has been promoted to deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, possibly as a reward for the recent missile war games display he put on as commander of the Guards’ air force. He too has a controversial background: as a former guards’ Director of Operations he  was reportedly responsibly for recruiting suicide bombers to attack Western and Israeli targets. According to the Iran Focus website in 2004 he called for the destruction of the United States during a ceremony to recruit suicide bombers. PressTV, ILNA,  Iran Focus, AFP

Ayatollah Ali Safi Golpaygani has said all political parties and groups must learn to be open to criticism and give up trying to establish absolute rights if Iran is to achieve unity, security and peace. Meeting members of the Islamic Coalition Party, he said the atmosphere of sycophancy and animosity must be broken, and he emphasised the danger of weakening ties with the clergy. Mehr

The Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani,  today lamented  the influence of Western human rights thinking on Islamic jurisprudence and urged Muslim scholars to counter the tendency. “We should try to explain the principles of Islamic laws, which are based on respect for man’s high status and exalted position and a monotheistic look, to those who are ignorant of the grandeur and richness of the Islamic law.” Islam’s harsh sentences, attacked by the West, actually protected human rights, he argued. Fars

— Iran will soon release about 20 prominent opposition figures detained after the disputed June presidential election, including Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, the IRNA news agency reported. Reuters

— In an interview with Rooz Online, Rashid Esmaili, a  policy committee member of the Unity Consolidation Bureau whose members were briefly arrested at the weekend, said Iran’s largest alumni organisation would never retreat in the face of such acts. He also expressed concern about the mental and physical condition of secretary general Ahmad Zeidabadi, who appeared in one of the mass trials. and said the group held the Revolutionary Guards commander Jaffari  “directly responsible for Zeidabadi’s fate” .  Rooz Online

Javad Larijani, the third Larijani brother whose comments about Mir-Hossein Moussavi sparked a student protest last week, appears to have modified his position, possibly at the behest of his two brothers running the judiciary and Majlis, according to the Pedestrian blog.  Although he still condemned Moussavi’s post-election behaviour, he halted students who started chanting against Moussavi and the reformists by saying: “We must free our hearts of hate towards Mousavi, Karoubi …”  He referred to Moussavi’s latest statement in which “he said that he plans to move inside the system and right the wrongs. I think this is a step in the right direction.” Pedestrian

— What is a bit puzzling, though, as is also suggested in the above report, is how Larijani got to the stage where he was able to deliver any words at all, let alone halt pro-Ahmadinejad students from chanting. A collection of videos indicate that before he spoke pro-Moussavi student protesters had taken over the hall. OnlyMehdi

A new wave of purges and changes has been launched at Alameh Tabatabai university in the wake of Ayatollah Khamenei’s call  for a review of the “social sciences” at the universities, Rooz Online reports. Quoting an informed source,it says  five prominent university professors from the law school of this university, particularly those in the fields of human rights, have been deprived of their teaching practices. Rooz Online

Fatemeh Ajorlou, the Karaj MP rejected by parliament as Welfare and Social Security Minister, is favourite to become Iran’s first female governor since the revolution, for Tehran province. The post is chosen by President Ahmadinejad. Mehr

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint US chiefs of staff, French chief of staff General Jean-Louis Georgelin and Israel’s armed forces chief, Lieutenant General Gaby Ashkenazi met in Normandy, northern France today, military sources report, to review the “new military conditions emerging in the Middle East”. Debka

US Treasury  Secretary Timothy Geithner  urged global action against “money laundering and terror financing risks” from Iran and said sanctions against Iranian banks should be implemented by all nations. He was speaking at a meeting of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee in Istanbul. msn news

A team of archaeology students from Marvdasht Azad University have confirmed the destruction of the Achaemenid era Gondashlu stone quarry following in a study carried out after the Fars Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts department denied claims of extensive devastation in early August caused by recent mining operations. Mehr

— The construction of 64 shops near the Soltanieh Dome has almost come to a complete stop after the discovery of historical architectural structures. Unesco has raised objections to the construction projects near the monument, which was put on its World Heritage List in 2005. Mehr

Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Reza Taqipour, has said Iranian scientists are working on preliminary plans to launch a manned space mission. “We have a clear outline of the plans, but at the same time we are aware that implementing our plans depend on a broad national participation.” PressTV

Proven oil reserves have been raised by one billion barrels after a correction to estimates of the reserves of the Abuzar oilfield in the Persian gulf.  PressTV

— Iran has resumed importing natural gas from Azerbaijan after a three-month suspension caused mainly by technical problem and seasonal repairs. Haber 27

The management of Iran’s ports is to be privatised during the current Persian year, Deputy Roads and Transportation Minister has said. PressTV

In more detail

Neo-Resistance has more thoughts on the claim that Ahmadinejad is of Jewish stock, including the suggestion that one of his closest allies, Habibollah Asgharoladi Mussalman is a jewish convert.

Payvand carries some terrific photographs of the rug-washing ceremony at Mashad Ardehal, a village near Kashan that houses the mausoleum of Soltan Ali  – son of  the fifth Shiite Imam – whose death the ceremony marks.

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