Monday, September 29, 2008

From today's Iran Early Bird

Iran marked "Jerusalem Day" last Friday with mass demonstrations, calls of "Death to Israel" and "Death to the United States," and the burning of Israeli and U.S. flags. The day also saw the launch in Iran of a booklet of Holocaust caricatures, attended by Iranian Education Minister Ali-Reza Ali Ahmadi. The cover of the book displays a stereotypical anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew among bodies. 2. Jerusalem Day events: Former Majlis speaker Nateq Noori delivered an address ahead of Friday prayers in Tehran, saying: "Israel is a product that has passed its sell-by date. It failed in the Lebanon War against Hezbollah. It controls some of the Western states, and some of the Arab states too… It is interesting to know that the Israeli people on a whole serve in the army and are considered a part of it, and therefore one cannot differentiate between the people and the occupiers and criminals [criticism of Deputy President Mashaee's statements in support of friendly ties with the Israeli people]… It appears that Israel has passed its sell-by date in the eyes of the West, and the West therefore is trying to set it up for destruction."

3. The head of Iran's nuclear energy organization, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, will not attend the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual general conference. Official Iranian news agency are reporting that Aghazadeh will not attend the Vienna conference for "unknown reason," but Opposition websites claim that the Iranian nuclear chief was denied a visa to Austria. Iran will be represented at the conference by Aghazadeh's deputy, Mohammad Saeedi, and Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh, Iran's permanent representative to the IAEA. Yesterday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution (1835) against Iran, confirming the sanctions that have been imposed on Tehran in the past but failing to impose new ones. The resolution quotes the IAEA report from September 15 that determines that Iran has not suspended its uranium-enrichment program and other related activities, and calls on Tehran to adhere to the previous Security Council resolutions in full and without further delay.

4. Iran's delegation to the United Nations has issued a harsh condemnation of "the hasty and unfair resolution against Iran's nuclear program for peaceful purposes." And for his part, the head of the Majlis Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs said that the resolution did nothing to build trust between the parties, and did not fall in line with the Modality Agreement put together between Iran and the IAEA.

5. Iranian websites are reporting that the deployment of the new U.S. radar system in Israel is designed to combat any possible attack on the part of Iran. The radar, the websites say, has been deployed in the Negev region and U.S. Army technicians have arrived in Israel to initiate its operation.

6. "Bank Melli Iran recognizes the existence of the State of Israel!" reads the headline of a Conservative-affiliated website, which reveals that the bank's Internet registration form for customers includes Israel on the list of countries one can choose from – in total disregard of Iran's adamant standpoint that refuses to recognize its existence. The name of "Occupied Palestine" is not mentioned on the bank's site at all, the Conservative-affiliated website charges.

7. The Fars News website is quoting French News Agency AFP concerning a report aired on Israel Channel 10 about the sale of entry permits to the Israeli Defense Ministry compound (the Kirya) in Tel Aviv. Under the headline, "A new security oversight at the Defense Ministry of the Zionist regime," Fars News reports that an Israeli soldier, a member of the compound's security unit, had sold entry permits to all and sundry, thus compromising the security of one of Israel's most sensitive facilities.

8. Under pressure from the Iranian government, Malaysia has cancelled an address that was scheduled to be delivered by Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human and women's rights activist. Ebadi was invited to Malaysia by the International Peace Foundation.

9. In an interview with the Saudi Arabian daily, Al-Watan, Bahrain's prime minister said that Iran was Bahrain's neighbor and friend and that a relationship of mutual respect existed between the two countries.

10. The Coordination Council of Islamic Revolution Forces has named Ahmadi-Nejad as its candidate for the presidency, expressing sweeping support for the incumbent president. Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, meanwhile, says he has yet to decide whether or not to vie for the office.

11. The head of the Tehran Province administration, Kamran Daneshjoo, has been appointed director of the Interior Ministry's Political Wing. Daneshjoo confirmed the appointment following previous denials by him and his associates over the past few days.

12. In keeping with a decision by the Expediency Discernment Council that essentially overruled a decision by the president and government, the Supreme Councils on various issues will be re-established. The bodies to be re-established include the Supreme Council on Information Technology Affairs, the Supreme Council on Nuclear Energy Affairs, the Supreme Council on Monetary and Credit Affairs, and others.

13. An Iranian air force officer who was arrested in Bangkok in 2006 and charged with transferring sensitive military equipment to Iran has been acquitted by a Thai court and released from detention.

According to an announcement from Sardar Hamedani, deputy commander of the Basij resistance forces, pilots and naval units from the Basij forces have been incorporated into Iran's combat system. Hamedani said that Basij brigades were currently being supplied with modern weapons and shoulder-launched missiles.

1. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' Khatam Alanbia Command has been awarded a tender worth 320 million euros that was issued by the Iranian National Gas Company. The project involves the laying of a 283-kilometer-long gas pipeline, and will be implemented over an 18-month period by the Sadid Corporation in conjunction with the Khatam Alanbia Command.

2. The Bolivian president has declared that in light of the strained relations between Bolivia and the United States, he wishes to encourage Iran, Russia and Venezuela to invest in his country's gas fields.

3. The Tabnak website claims that U.S. pressure on India is essentially the main obstacle that is blocking the export of Iranian gas to India and Pakistan through the so-called "Peace Pipeline." According to the website, Indian officials are trying to create the impression that Iran is the problematic element and is preventing the implementation of the agreement. The real problem, Tabnak says, is the pressure on India that is designed to restrict the export of energy from Iran.

4. Iran's accountant general has sent an official letter of warning to President Ahmadi-Nejad's first deputy, Parviz Davoudi, threatening legal action against what he termed "the violation of the law in the government's approval of the budget for 2008," and "illegitimate government expenditure."

5. The Iranian Transport and Transportation Ministry and the heads of the Iran Air airline have come under fire from Iranian Deputy President Davoudi for foot-dragging with respect to handing over the required details on the company for the purpose of its privatization and flotation. Davoudi commented on the heavy losses the airline has suffered over the past three years, noting that various options for solving the company’s problems were currently under review. The airline's large workforce was one of the causes of the problems, the deputy president added.

6. According to rumors, on hearing of the appointment of Hoseyn Smami as deputy director-general of Iran's Central Bank, a group of senior managers at the institution decided to resign their posts. The ILNA website (the Iranian workers' site) claims that in a conversation with Deputy President Davoudi, newly appointed Central Bank Director-General Behmani initially refused to accept Smami's appointment but had his refusal rejected. Smami served in the past as head of the Economics Ministry and the Treasury.

7. Akbar Torkan, Iran's deputy oil minister in charge of planning, says that Iran wishes to build a $4 billion natural-gas pipeline to the European Union that could rival projects backed by the EU and Russia. According to Torkan, Iran is in talks with a "renowned European company" that may be selected as the project's contractor. Torkan believes that the economic sanctions on Iran will not scare off potential European partners in the pipeline.

1. The Shia-Sunni hacker wars continue: This time, an Iranian hacker going by the name of "dnjournal 2005" attacked 100 Wahhabist websites, posting on their homepages pictures of the Iranian flag and the country's nuclear facilities, the slogan, "The Persian Gulf," and the broken flag of Israel.

2. An unknown group yesterday morning assassinated a Sunni religious figure in Mahabad. The group shot and killed the man who served as the community Imam at one of the Sunni mosques in the city. Mahabad, with a population of some 200,000 residents, is located in the south of the Western Azerbaijan Province.

3. The secretary of the Iranian Cancer Society has said that the increase in the age of the Iranian population over the coming decades is expected to also bring a rise in the number of breast cancer patients in the country. According to the Society's secretary, breast cancer is currently the most common form of cancer among Iranian women, affecting one-quarter of the overall number of female cancer patients throughout the country.

4. Amir Hoseyn Fatoohi, a medical student at Hormozgan University, has been suspended from his studies for two semesters for participating in the student demonstrations and giving an interview to the Voice of America television channel.

5. The Iranian academic year has begun, and students at Tehran University are reporting that new security gates and security measures are in place at the entrances to the campus, with students having to swipe an electronic identification card at the gates in order to gain access. The Tehran University president says the new measures are part of an extensive project to set up an electronic city within the university, and are also designed to ensure the safety and security of the students. Official Iranian websites are claiming that the issue of the new security measures will soon become "propaganda fodder" in the hands of the foreign and anti-revolutionary media, which will liken the situation and mood to that of a police state.

6. A CNN report on underground fashion shows in Tehran.

7. The top-selling cellular telephones in Iran include the Nokia 5310 and 3500, the Sony Ericsson K810, the Samsung F480 and the HTC Touch Diamond

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