Sunday, March 29, 2009

Iran Early Bird

Diplomatic Affairs

1. Europe Preparing For Deepening Ties with Iran

Speaking after a meeting (March 27) in Vienna with Austrian economic and political officials and the heads of Europe's four chambers of commerce, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines (ICCIM) chief Mohammad Nahavandian told the official Iranian news agency, IRNA: "It seems that change in the international political atmosphere has affected the foresight of the European officials and this is regarded as a sign for availability of a suitable atmosphere for the purpose." He said to that end, Europeans were seemingly more serious and willing to upgrade their economic cooperation with Iran and that Europe was preparing for a boom in its economic relationship with the Islamic Republic. Nahavandian also addressed (March 27) the 4th Crans Montana Forum in Tirana, Albania, and predicted an increase in the demand for energy: "The global economy will face an increase in demand for energy once it gets out of the ongoing crisis; in the event of no swift investment in the sector, there will be another crisis.” According to IRNA, Nahavandian said that in the new energy map, the Persian Gulf states would play a more important role than in the past, and that other countries, especially the European states, would have to have a special look at the region to meet their needs. He said that Europe would also have to diversify resources to secure energy, especially gas, adding that the Nabucco pipeline could address the goal for Europe but that unfortunately the project had not witnessed appropriate progress in recent years due to various political considerations. He emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran had always had a positive approach towards cooperation with Europe, especially in the energy field.

2. Secretary of Supreme National Security Council visits India

Saeid Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council arrived (March 28) in New Delhi, stating that the major objectives of his visit were to meet and confer with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh and Indian Cabinet's National Security Advisor M. K. Narayan. "The friendly and historical relations between Iran and India necessitate regular meetings between the two countries' officials and particularly consultations over significant regional and international developments" Jalili reiterated.

3. Russia - Iran conference on Afghanistan

According to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry (March 28), Moscow and Tehran have agreed to continue talks on regional issues, including the situation in West and South Asia. The Foreign Ministry statement came in the wake of talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Borodavkin and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad-Mehdi Akhundzadeh, who led the Iranian delegation to the special conference on Afghanistan, organized in Moscow by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

4. Roadmap on future Iran-Venezuela relations
Iran Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, who is in Caracas (March 28), has been received by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

At a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Mottaki called for the preparation of a roadmap on future Iran-Venezuela relations. Other bilateral issues covered were "the establishment of a Venezuelan-Iranian [investment fund], the exchange of raw material for technology, technological projects, the setting up of a cement factory, projects in the energy field, [and] the establishment of plants for the production of tractor and auto parts."
The roadmap proposal was presented Friday evening to the Venezuelan officials by Iran Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Mohsen Tala'ie, who said: “Today we are facing a situation in which the continuation of the two countries' relations is in need of a comprehensive roadmap for the next 10 years at least.”

The Iranian deputy foreign expressed hope that Caracas would approve of the plan, keeping in mind that the upcoming state visit later this week of Venezuela President Chavez to Iran would be a good opportunity to sign the strategic documents.

Chavez: “I'm going to Iran to continue fortifying relations with Iran because among other things we're establishing the Iranian-Venezuelan bank.”
5. Iranian parliamentary delegation in Lebanon
An Iranian parliamentary delegation, headed by the chairman of the Social Affairs Commission of the Majlis, Soleyman Ja'farzadeh, arrived in Beirut on March 28, entering Lebanon through its border with Syria. The delegation was met by a group of Hezbollah officials upon arrival.
6. Rafsanjani's Friday sermon – response to Obama's New Year message
The chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, responded in his Friday sermon to U.S. President Barack Obama's New Year message, commenting: “America ... has to show its goodwill in practice. We used to tell them that one measure they could take to demonstrate their goodwill was to release our frozen assets, which they have frozen unfairly, so that we would realize that they genuinely want to enter negotiations and are good-willed… After all, the U.S. president delivered a speech through a video message that focused mostly on Iran. But it wasn't an official message. He voiced a willingness to talk to Iran, but he used some words in his comments that were more telling than the message itself. [Rafsanjani uses the Persian expression, “The tail of the rooster had inadvertently stuck out of the garment – a reference to Persian folklore about a lying thief who had hidden a rooster in his garment but the tail stuck out and revealed his lie.] If he genuinely intended to negotiate and cooperate, there was no need for him to talk about it. Such comments are made during negotiations and not as propaganda. For example, he mentioned the issue of terrorism and talked as if Iran is a supporter of terrorism and should end such support.
“He also talked about weapons, by which he meant nuclear weapons and missiles. Well, these are issues that should be discussed during negotiations. The supreme leader gave a suitable response. He said that so far Iran hasn't witnessed any change in America's behavior and action. The situation is the same as before but a different language is being used.”
[For the full version of Rafsanjani's sermon, please contact Terrogence.]
Security - Military Affairs
7. Omid satellite to end its mission in 13 days
According to the supervisor of the Omid satellite project, the Omid satellite will come to the end of its successful mission in 13 days’ time and will burn up in space. In an interview with the Fars News Agency, Fathollah Ami stressed that the Omid satellite had carried out all its tasks successfully. The tasks of the satellite were to determine its coordinates after separating from the carrier, to transmit conditions of its sectors and receive commands from the earth station.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Space Agency’s media advisor noted that the Omid was the first Iranian national satellite that had been successfully placed in orbit. He described the satellite as a small-type model that orbits the earth 12 times every 24 hours and is controlled by the earth bases, adding: “By using its eight antennas and two frequency bands, this satellite has been able to send a large volume of data back to the ground stations and also to receive. Following the successful launching of the Omid satellite, a new generation of Iranian satellites will be launched next year using the latest technology.”
Human Rights
8. Cyberspace offenders arrested by IRGC
Following the death in prison of Omidreza Mirsayafi, a well known Iranian blogger, the regime has arrested 18 more people for "cyberspace offenses." The arrests were made by Iran's Center for Addressing Organized Cyberspace Offences, a group affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Meanwhile, a London-based analyst told Radio Farda that the IRGC's increasing restrictions on the Internet signified the gradual militarization of Iran's entire political system.
Mirsayafi's problems with the authorities began when he went to trial in November to face charges of insulting the country's religious leaders and propagating against the government. He spent more than 40 days in custody before he was released after posting a heavy bond. On February 7, he was again summoned for questioning and had since been detained at Evin prison.

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