March 01, 2012

Iran Daily Brief March 1, 2012 – Full Report

International Affairs

Iran-Azerbaijan tension growing
Azeri Ambassador summoned over arms deal with Israel – Following reports on the arms deal with Israel, Azerbaijan's envoy was invited by Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Pacific and Asian Affairs, to provide an official explanation. The Azeri envoy said that these weapons are to be used against a third country, particularly Iran. Araqchi said that Israel's declared policy is to extend its influence in countries neighboring Iran and to use them against it. He warned against using Azerbaijan to carry out terrorist activities against Iran.
Leading newspapers warn of Israeli penetration of Caucasus regionJomhuri-e Islami editorial titled, "Danger of Zionist penetration in Caucasus region" also mentioned the recent arms deal and warned of the "threats" of Israeli presence in the region. It urged the Foreign Ministry to initiate strong diplomacy and take a clear stance on the issue. Siyasat-e Ruz referred in its editorial titled, "Baku's miscalculations" to the deterioration of Iran-Azerbaijan relations, maintaining that Azerbaijan, through its cooperation with NATO, the US and Israel has been "transformed into security threat for the region" and that by opting for the "dangerous West-Zionist game," the country will face growing "regional and international isolation."
Ambassador to Yerevan warns of Israel's creeping infiltration of the South Caucasus through its movements in Azerbaijan – Seyed Ali Saqqaeeyan has warned that "The enemy's movements in Azerbaijan demonstrate Israel's creeping infiltration of the South Caucasus region." Earlier, the Vice Chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Esmayeel Kosari, warned that "Azerbaijan's cooperation with the US and Israeli spy agencies will harm the Azeri people. Iran possesses a number of documents that show that Azeri officials helped the Mossad and CIA agents in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists."

Military Affairs

Nuclear Dossier
AEOI Head: No reason to respond to any IAEA requests to visit military sites – The Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Fereydoun Abbasi, said there is no reason to respond to any IAEA requests. Abbasi referred to the IAEA request to visiting Iran's military sites, saying decisions in this regard would be made by Iran's military officials. "We are ready to receive the IAEA inspectors two hours before the IAEA proclamation for visiting AEOI's sites every day it happens.
They can visit whenever they want, but there is no reason to let them visit any geographical part they demand." Fereydun Abbasi said, "No nuclear activity is performed at the Parchin nuclear site, and discussion of all foreign nationals' applications to visit the site is a matter for Iranian officials." He noted sites under the monitoring of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran would be shown, and other places would be decided by other relevant officials.
Ambassador to the IAEA: Iran has not prevented the IAEA inspectors from visiting military sites – Ali Asqar Soltaniyeh said that the IAEA delegation that recently visited Iran was comprised of experts on legal, political and technical issues and not inspectors. Soltaniyeh said that Iran does not categorically rule out IAEA access to its military sites such as Parchi, but access depends on preconditions which the IAEA must meet. Soltaniyeh met with IAEA Deputy director and the Head of the IAEA Department of Safeguards and described IAEA's latest report on "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of  Security Council resolutions in the  Islamic Republic of Iran" released on February 24 as unbalanced. "In the meeting, I emphasized that the Director General's report is not balanced and certain points, including the agreements made during the two recent rounds of negotiations between Iran and the agency have not been stated properly…I also warned certain members of the Board of Governors to stop undermining the spirit of Iran's cooperation with the agency." Soltaniyeh reiterated that Iran would continue to enrich under IAEA's supervision.
FM: Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's defense doctrine – Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran believes that "nuclear arms have no place in an international environment based on sustainable security." He added that "Iran also believes that it is the time that nuclear disarmament holds a special committee for negotiations on nuclear arms conventions." Salehi said that Israel's nuclear weapons are a permanent threat to the Middle East. "Considering the regime's black record in aggression, occupation and creating terror, a Middle East free of nuclear weapons is an important issue."
New missile boats delivered to the IRGC Navy will "increase deterrence" – Newly renovated and optimized Tondar missle boats were delivered to the IRGC Navy in Bushehr on Wednesday. The handover ceremony was attended by the Commander of the IRGC Navy, Brigadier General Ali Fadavi, and the CEO of Martyr Mahalati Institute, which was responsible for the renovation and upgrade operation. Addressing the ceremony, Executive Director of Missile-Launching Frigates Renovation and Optimization Project, Abul-Qassem Valagohar, said that over USD 1 million had been spent on the project. He added that the vessels' bodies, engines, fire-extinguishing systems, control systems, radar and defensive systems were all optimized in the project. Commander of the IRGC's Second Naval Zone, Ali Razmjou, said that by delivering Tondar missile-launching frigates to the IRGC Navy, "We are displaying Iran's naval power to the world." He underlined that Tondar frigates will be deployed in the central parts of the Persian Gulf (Assalouyeh) as well as the northern parts (IRGC's third naval zone) to reinvigorate Iran's deterrence power.

Economic Affairs

(ILNA) Former Oil Minister: Sanctions against CBI more dangerous than oil embargo – Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh has called for "prudence and wisdom" in decision-making regarding sanctions against Iran. He said that the sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) are more dangerous than the oil embargo. "Sanctions against Central Bank of Iran makes it difficult to transfer money abroad," while oil embargo will cause oil to be sold in currencies other than dollar and euro at a discount to buyers.
Deputy Oil Minister: Number of customers for Iranian oil exports growing – Deputy Oil Minister, Ahmad Ghalebani, reported on the current state of Iran's crude oil exports, as the sanctions intensify. He said, "At the moment, the number of foreign customers asking to purchase Iranian oil is growing." He claimed the number of requests to purchase Iranian crude is increasing and said, "With a larger number of overseas customers, the supply of crude oil stored on Iran's oil platforms in the Persian Gulf has decreased to almost nothing." Currently, Iran is exporting over two million barrels of crude every day.  "Our major customers are in Asia; about 70% to 80% of our oil exports are supplied to Asia. Major customers have kept their relations with us and do not follow the US unilateral sanctions. Our customers do not want to replace our oil."

Human Rights

Mehdi Khazali: "I am ready to die" – Jailed blogger Mehdi Khazali has been transferred to Evin Prison's security ward 209, he has been on hunger strike for 52 days. Khazali wrote in a letter to his wife: "Today, this former basiji (referring to him) is captured by those who have never been to the battlefield. I am fighting in trench 350 (referring to section 350 in Evin prison where he was held)… These people are determined to kill me and I am ready to die. Tell our kids about those who selflessly fought to create a free and safe future." In another letter addressed to a judge, Khazali wrote, "I will continue to end the puppetry called a court." Mehdi Khazali is a critic of Ahmadinejad and son of Abu al Qasim Khazali, a member of the Assembly of Experts. On February 5, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison, 10 years in exile and 90 lashes.
Iranian security forces break into a church and arrest worshippers – Security forces in Kermanshah broke into a home church in the city on Tuesday and arrested 13 Christians. The plainclothes forces subjected the detainees to verbal and physical violence. It is not known where they are being held. The religious books found in the church were confiscated.
Political prisoner receives 74 lashes The sentence of 74 lashes imposed on Shahram Karimi, a political activist detained in Evin Prison, was administered yesterday. He was convicted of disrupting the public order.
Reformist arrested – Meysam Mashayekh, a reformist activist from Noshahar, was arrested on Monday by security forces.
Several students who attended a reception for a released lecturer arrested – Dr. Sadegh Akhundi of the Scientific Committee of the Teheran Medical Faculty was released on bail on Monday. He was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence approximately two weeks ago. According to reports, his colleagues and students held a party in honor of his release from jail. The Ministry of Intelligence did not let the event go unnoticed and questioned several of the people who participated in the reception. They also telephoned two colleagues to summon them for questioning.
Political editor of the weekly, Ninth Dey, released – Mohammad Sa'id Zakeri, the political editor of the Ninth Dey weekly, was released from prison. He was arrested by the Special Clergy Court after publishing an article titled, "What is Ali Larijani (Majlis Speaker) afraid of?"

Domestic Affairs

Majlis election – Friday:
a) Khamenei:  High turnout in upcoming elections another blow in the face of global arrogance – The Supreme Leader said that the Iranian nation would display their firm determination to Iran's enemies and, in Friday's elections, would inflict  another blow to the face of hegemonic powers harder than the one delivered on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Khamenei said that Friday's vote is much more important than previous elections, as enemies had invested all their remaining energy in the March 2 elections. (Video)
b) Khamenei issues fatwa regarding use of public funds in election campaigns – In response to a request for a ruling, the Supreme Leader stated that, "The use of public funds for election or non-election campaigning, even for religious propaganda, must be done in accordance with the laws – regulations that have been set for the expenditure of public and government funds. Violations are religiously forbidden and they also cause guaranteed outcomes." One of the requests for a ruling to the Supreme Leader was answered by his representative Hojjatolislam Falahzadeh, who said, "Since elections play an important role in our lives, is participation in elections obligatory? Answer: In the view of His Holiness the Aqa (Khamenei), this is obligatory for people who are qualified and who have the possibility of participating in the elections.
Another ruling: Is talking about election candidates considered slander and gossip or not? Answer:  Talking in the sense of consulting and using the thinking of others or advising others who want to vote to the extent that it affects that person's vote, is not considered slander or gossip.
c) Green Movement Coordination Council urges civil disobedience on March 1 and boycott of elections on March 2 – The Coordination Council of Rah-e Sabz-e Omid (the Green Path of Hope) has called on the people to gather enthusiastically and in large numbers on March 1 in public places, especially between four to six in the afternoon to inform their friends about the so-called election, and on election day to  stay at home with their families in the form of a house arrest as a sign of solidarity with the jailed leaders of the Green Movement and to protest their detention.
d) Freedom Movement: Current situation parallel with the situation after the 1953 coup d'état – Following the above statement, members and supporters of the Freedom Movement have also issued a statement in which they have called upon all their compatriots not to take part in the election. According to Jaras (mouthpiece of the Green Movement outside Iran) the statement reads:
"The rulers fail to understand the simple truth that in order to confront and protest incorrect policies, the frustrated people (opposition) have only two options left: either turning to "reforms" or "toppling" [the regime]. If in any system the election is rendered meaningless, and if people are deprived the possibility of true political participation, the direction of the protests would move toward alternative methods. It is clear that if people lose hope in pursuing peaceful and reformist methods, they will resort to other methods. In some ways, the current situation can be compared with the situation after the 1953 coup d'etat (against Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq's government that reinstated Mohammad Reza Shah to power), and with the activities of the National Front (the party that supported Mosaddeq's government). Non-participation in the forthcoming election should be combined with exposure of totalitarianism and awakening the consciences of the members of the public in Iran and the world about the consequences of the present situation and constant and comprehensive violation of human rights."
e) Head of election campaign HQ: President, cabinet will not back any specific group or candidate in the upcoming elections – Seyyed Solat Mortazavi underlined that "The firm stance of the President and his cabinet is in support of justice, trust, law and maximum participation." They have repeatedly said that the governors or other executive bodies responsible for organizing the elections do not have the right to support specific candidate in the elections."
f) Minister of Communications and IT: An independent Internet was opened for the Majlis election – Reza Taqipur said, "An independent Internet, which has no security problems, was opened to serve the election and all 5,000 polling stations that are prepared for the election are connected to the central branch." Of the 207 constituencies in the coming Majlis elections, 14 will be computerized. The pilot project to computerize voting will be launched at 1,395 polling stations.
g) Mehr news opinion poll: Over 57% to participate in elections across Iran; 37% in Tehran – A Mehr poll estimated that over 57% of Iranians will take part in the elections across Iran. "Taking into account the 15% who are undecided and that part of this 15% will change their minds, we expect to see a rise in the level of participation compared to the last Majlis election." According to the same poll, the level of participation in Tehran has risen by 7% compared to last week. Considering this rate of growth, it is estimated that the level of participation in Tehran will be over 40%."
h) "Youngest candidate" withdraws – Ali Mirza'i, who is considered to be the "youngest candidate" running in the parliamentary election, has withdrawn from the race. Mirza'i, who is also a student activist, was a candidate from Amol (Mazandaran Province).
i) LEF Commander: Police reserve forces will be patrolling areas where there is a possibility of tension on election day – General Ahmadi-Moqaddam, Commander of the Iranian Law Enforcement Force (LEF) said, "This year, reserve units comprising forces from the police and other apparatuses will be positioned in places where there is a possibility or track record of unrest to prevent any possible tension during the elections." He said two groups of police forces will be deployed: one to guard ballot boxes and voting stations, and the other to provide support.
j) Intelligence Minister: Security situation in Iran sound – Following the cabinet meeting, Heydar Moslehi highlighted the significance of the upcoming Majlis elections, saying that all nations of the world will be watching the polls with strong interest. Moslehi expected that high turnout would be considered a "big slap in the face of arrogant powers" and thwart their plots.
k) Basij: "Massive voter turn out will strike a blow to the enemy" – The Basij published a statement prior to the Majlis elections. It emphasized that broad, massive participation of the people in the elections will harm the enemy's heart, by launching missiles via the ballot box.
More election turnout cartoons 1 2 3 4 5

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