Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has again spoken out against the use of pressure to impose Islamic values on people, especially university candidates, media reported on Monday. "You cannot impose things by issuing decrees and directives -- a choice imposed by force has no value whatsoever," Ahmadinejad said in a speech on Sunday.
The jailed daughter of the former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been moved to solitary confinement, the BBC has learned. A spokesman for Iran's judiciary said Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani was moved as punishment for her behaviour in jail. Ms Rafsanjani began a six-month prison sentence in September after being found guilty earlier this year of "spreading anti-state propaganda".
Iranian forces have conducted a cyber-warfare drill for the first time as their naval forces conducts major exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, testing a brand new air defense missile system. The Iranian navy has staged a cyber-attack against the computer network of its defene forces in order to simulate a hack or a virus infiltration of a foreign aggressor, the English language Iran Daily reported, quoting Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari.
President Barack Obama has signed a law to counter Iran's alleged influence in Latin America, through a new diplomatic and political strategy to be designed by the State Department, the AFP news agency reported. Enacted on Friday, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, passed by lawmakers earlier this year, calls for the State Department to develop a plan within 180 days to "address Iran's growing hostile presence and activity".
In recent weeks following revelations by a number of political prisoners at Evin prison s ward 350 regarding the torture that led to the death of an innocent Iranian citizen, Sattar Beheshti, prison officials and the intelligence apparatus rather than implementing serious repercussions against the true criminals have instead opted to impose increasing restrictions and pressure on the prisoners behind bars at Evin s ward 350.
Obama's last best hope may now lie in linking the two crises in bargaining with Russia and Iran, Assad s two most important foreign backers. They risk losing everything they have invested in that country by continuing to bet that Assad - and the Syrian state - can survive this war. That gives Obama leverage to use in countering Iran's accelerating nuclear enrichment program.
As speculation rises over a possible split between the Qom Seminary Teachers Association (Jame Modaresine Hoze Elmie Qom, JMHRQ) and the Tehran Society of Combatant Clergy (Jame Rohaniate Mobarez, JRM, a right-wing conservative and influential clerical group known as Tehran s Society of Combatant Clergy) a day after the JRM held a meeting that was marked by the noticeable absence of cleric Mohammad Yazdi, a new political group has been announced in the Qom Theological Seminary which is tipped to have close ties to the government presidential candidate for the 2012 elections.
Iran has started six days of naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz aimed at showcasing its military capabilities in what is a vital oil and gas shipping route, the official IRNA news agency reported. The manoeuvres began early on Friday, involving warships, submarines jet fighters and hovercrafts.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sacked Health Minister Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi, the sole woman in his cabinet, state television reports. Ms Dastjerdi was also the first woman minister in the 30-year history of the Islamic republic. While no reason has been given, the dismissal is being linked to her call for drug price rises to fight shortages caused by international sanctions.
Four children of an influential former Iranian president are suing a radical politician for describing his family as a corrupt "octopus". The dispute has rekindled bitterness between backers of the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and moderates headed by the former leader, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, six months before the next presidential election.
Last week, the head of Iran's government Mahmoud Ahmadinejad counseled the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to sell its acquisitions and real estate assets to meet its budgetary and financial needs. This week, Guard commanders responded by saying no. A Majlis representative who used to be a senior military Guards commander attributed the issue to the disagreements between Ahmadinejad and Majlis speaker Ali Larijani and stressed that "IRGC assets have a military Dimension."
Iran reported a spree of new cyberattacks on Tuesday, saying foreign enemy hackers tried in recent months to disrupt computer systems at a power plant and other industries in a strategically important southern coastal province as well as a Culture Ministry information center.
Political prisoner sentenced to death is in imminent danger of execution after his lawyer's request for a retrial was rejected by branch 31 of the Supreme Court on December 15, 2012.
Last night, Reza Shahabi, an Iranian labor leader imprisoned since June 2010, was transferred to prison’s hospital due to low blood pressure. He went on hunger strike on 17 Dec 2012 to protest against mistreatment by jail guards as well as prevention of his medical treatment by the judicial authorities. He Also refused medical treatment.
Based on reports obtained by the Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran all telephone lines used by ordinary prisoners to contact their families have been disconnected for the past four days. Families of ordinary prisoners have had no information about their loved ones from Friday onward.
Reza Khandan: Though Nasrin is no longer on hunger strike, her physical health has not improved since last week [when she broke her hunger strike]. She has not yet received any medical care, despite the fact that she [suffers] from digestive problems.
Like all systems caught in ideological tangles, the Khomeinist regime is, once again, facing one of its fundamental contradictions: Whether it is a republic, that is to say a political order based on the will of the people as expressed in elections, or an "Imamate" in which the "Supreme Guide" claims a divine mandate.
Israel is suspected of carrying out a series of leaks implicating Iran in nuclear weapons experiments in an attempt to raise international pressure on Tehran and halt its programme. Western diplomats believe the leaks may have backfired, compromising a UN-sanctioned investigation into Iran's past nuclear activities and current aspirations.
According to Reuters, Iran's oil exports will fall to its lowest level since the EU and U.S. sanctions on Iranian petroleum sector took effect in July of 2012. The report adds that Iran's oil imports in November were 1.8 million barrels and in December they are predicted to fall to 834,000 barrels.
At least seven companies from China, India, South Korea and South Africa continued to have investments in Iran's oil and gas sectors in 2012 even as Tehran came under international scrutiny for its nuclear ambitions, a U.S. government watchdog said on Friday.
A planned visit to Tehran by Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, to seal a $1.5bn gas pipeline deal to alleviate the country s critical energy shortage was unexpectedly cancelled at the weekend amid mounting US objections to the contract.
Iranian civil society activists have been subjected to a "campaign of repression" in the last three years, with many killed, detained or forced to flee abroad, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Friday.
Zhila Bani-Yaghoub and Bahman Ahmadi Amouyi Jailed journalist couple, Shabnam and Farzad Madadzadeh, brother and sister in Evin and Rajaishahr prisons are banned from visiting each other.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards have captured a US drone flying over the country's airspace, state media have reported. The Fars news agency said on Tuesday the Boeing-made ScanEagle drone was gathering information over Gulf waters when it entered Iranian airspace and was subsequently captured by a naval unit of the Revolutionary Guards
For Iranian activists on the ground, it has been a struggle to have their voices heard. It took the shocking murder of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti for the world to pay attention to the crimes of the Islamic Republic. Beheshti was detained by the Iranian cyber police unit, and died while in custody, reportedly as a result of extensive torture. Beheshti s death shows the reality that many Iranians face when speaking out against the regime.
An imprisoned human rights lawyer serving a sentence for acting against national security ended a 49-day hunger strike on Tuesday after judicial authorities acceded to her demand to lift a travel ban imposed on her 12-year-old daughter, her husband said.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed his close ally and chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashai to head the non-aligned movement secretariat currently headed by Iran on a rotational basis. In another move, Ahmadinejad moved another member of his inner circle known by critics as the deviant current seyed Hassan Mousavi to be his new chief of staff. Until now Mousavi was a vice-president and head of the National Cultural Heritage Organization and Tourism.
Iran's top cyber police chief has been sacked over the death in custody of blogger Sattar Beheshti, according to officials in Tehran. Beheshti, 35, from the city of Robat-Karim, south-west of Tehran, was arrested on 30 October after using his blog and Facebook account to criticise the government. He was thrown into the notorious Evin prison where he died several days later, after complaining that he was tortured.
According to the reports by Free Union of Iranian Workers, the workers at Saveh Safa Steel Rolling and Rolling Profiles, companies owned by the same owner, Rostami Safa, have gone on strike over the issue of unpaid wages. The first strike took place on November 13. It quickly spread to the whole plant on November 14. The management promised to pay one month s overdue wages by the following day. That evening, the workers decided to end their strike with the understanding that they would resume it if the rest of the six month s past wages were not paid by November 17.
Flying the national flag usually signifies a display of pride or patriotism. But in Iran today, it may represent something much more sinister. Sources and blog postings from inside Iran say that what seem to be simple flagpoles popping up all over Tehran and other large Iranian cities are actually clandestine electronic antennas, which use high-frequency waves to jam communications and block ordinary citizens from Internet, TV and radio signals. Some Iranians think the electronic emissions also may be hazardous to humans' health.
The General Assembly's Third Committee called upon Iran to stop such violations, release prisoners of conscience and open its doors to international rights monitors. South Africa is one of 68 states that abstained from yesterday's vote, which was passed 83 to 31.
The U.S. Senate resoundingly approved on Friday expanded sanctions on global trade with Iran's energy and shipping sectors, its latest effort to ratchet up economic pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. The new package, which keeps in place exemptions for countries that have made significant cuts to their purchases of Iranian crude oil, would be the third round of sanctions in a year if passed into law.
A leaked diagram suggesting that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon is scientifically flawed, diplomats working with the U.N. nuclear agency conceded Friday. However they insisted that it still supports suspicions that Tehran is trying to build a bomb, especially when combined with other documents that remain secret.
The elephant in the Middle East room is Iran. Stopping the Islamic Republic of Iran from reaching a nuclear capability is the most important issue facing the international community. If we fail to do so, the implication on many issues, from energy to stability in the region to terrorism and to nuclear proliferation, will be profoundly negative and dangerous.
No sooner was Israel's bombardment of Gaza over than Israeli and US officials started to ratchet up the prospects of an Israeli air attack on Iran in the next few months. This is scarcely surprising. The threat has served Tel Aviv and Washington well in the past because it enabled them to persuade the rest of the world to impose swingeing sanctions on Iran as the only alternative to war. Even so, claims that a final confrontation with Iran is only months away are looking a bit dog-eared, given that this must be one of the most frequently postponed wars in history.
In the coming days, the UN General Assembly (GA) will vote on a resolution calling on the Iranian government to stop its massive human rights violations. Brazil has the chance and the duty to reconsider its vote on Iran this year and avoid the risk of reinforcing a message of carte blanche for years of abuses.
The head of Iran s northern tea factories union has announced that more than 65 tea production units have been shut down, and the uncalculated policies of the Ahmadinejad administration have put a heavy strain on tea production in Iran. ILNA reports that Behzad Sazandeh, the head of the union, emphasized the difficulties facing the tea production industry, concluding that the industry will be completely destroyed within two years.
Iran is supplying more oil to Asia s largest economies than at any time since the West tightened sanctions in July, threatening to undermine efforts to halt the country s nuclear program and curbing gains in crude prices. China, Iran s biggest customer for oil, last month bought the most supplies from the Islamic republic since June, customs data showed Nov. 21. Iranian cargoes to Japan rose to the highest level in six months in September, and South Korea resumed imports in October after suspending them for two months, according to government figures released through this week.
When the Iranian student activist Arash Sadeghi was temporarily released from Tehran's Evin prison in November 2010, he anticipated a little respite from a year of harsh beatings and agony in jail. Instead, within a few days, security officials had raided his home in middle of the night. As they broke their way into the house, Sadeghi's mother, who was alone with her daughter, suffered a heart attack.
Turkey on Friday acknowledged that a surge in its gold exports this year is related to payments for imports of Iranian natural gas, shedding light on Ankara's role in breaching U.S.-led sanctions against Tehran. The continuing trade deal offers the most striking example of how Iran is using creative ways to sidestep Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program, which have largely frozen it out of the global banking system.
Iran has been hauling dirt to a site that international nuclear experts want to inspect, Western diplomats said on Wednesday, saying the findings were based on satellite images and they reinforced suspicions of a clean-up. They said the pictures, presented during a closed-door briefing for member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested Iran was continuing to try to hide incriminating traces of any illicit nuclear-related activity.
Iran s supreme leader has ordered parliament not to interrogate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the nation s plummeting currency and economic crisis, according to a local news agency. The IRNA said on Wednesday that the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced concerns that interrogation would benefit Iran's enemies.
According to the reports received by the Human Rights and Democracy Advocates in Iran the prisoners in ward 2 of Bandar Abbas central prison in protest to the invasion and brutal torture by the prison guards and inhuman conditions took control of the ward. On October 26, 2012, the ward 2 prisoners of Bandar Abbas central prison took actions in controlling the ward by themselves on protest to the raiding and brutal torture, intolerable hygienic conditions, drastic reduction of food rations and medieval prison conditions in the Mullahs prisons.
Mr. Asadi's account of torture and imprisonment has offered a rare glimpse into what activists say was a decade of grave human rights violations in Iran. And at a time when international attention has shifted to the nuclear issue and sanctions, they say a campaign to bring justice and accountability through a symbolic tribunal has helped unite a once fractured opposition.
With the Iranian economy buckling under the pressure of economic sanctions, its leadership is now facing the return of a challenge once thought to be extinguished - a nationalist insurgency in Iran's ethnic-Baloch community. Iran is also contending with internal challenges stemming from disaffected members of a number of ethnic and sectarian minority communities and questions surrounding the character of its national identify.
Anonymous, the loose coalition of hackers waging war on Israeli Web sites, is the least of Israel s cyber problems. Its campaign against Israel is a minor annoyance compared with a wave of cyber attacks that have hit the country over the last year from Iran and Gaza.
This article explains possible plans that would lead to a structural change in Iran in the short term. The first step is to increase sanctions on the Iranian government. The sanctions should be designed in such a way that within the coming year the reserves of the Iranian government are reduced as much as possible. Consequently, the Iranian government will have to choose between assuring people s costs of living and bribing its supporters in order to maintain its status quo.
The International Atomic Energy Agency released its latest report on Iran's nuclear programme on Friday and, to be honest, it does not really show much change in the situation. Honesty has not necessarily been the priority of mainstream media coverage of the IAEA reports in recent years, with exaggeration and distortion of the findings to declarations of Iran's imminent capability to build a nuclear weapon
Iran is ready to sharply expand its uranium enrichment in an underground site after installing all the centrifuges it was built for, a U.N. nuclear report showed on Friday, a development likely to fuel Western alarm over Tehran's nuclear aims.
Iran unloaded nuclear fuel from its first atomic power plant last month, a United Nations report said on Friday, a few months after the Russian builder said the long-postponed reactor was operating at full capacity. The Bushehr plant is a symbol of what the Islamic Republic says is its peaceful nuclear ambitions, disputed by the West, and any new hitch would probably be seen as an embarrassment both for Tehran and Moscow, whose experts help run it.
The militia arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Basij, has joined the ranks of those groups and institutions in Iran that have their own "news agency". As announced, the news channel aims to have "an active" presence in cyberspace with the purpose of "confronting the soft war of the enemy" and at the same time "maintain a direct communications channel with revered Basijis (militiamen) across the country and even lovers of the regime in other countries to exchange views, positions and criticism.
After a lull in the number of executions announced by the official Iranian media in the month of Ramazan and during the Non-Aligned Summit conference in Tehran earlier this year, the country s judiciary has returned to its practice of high rate executions. During last week alone, 27 individuals were officially announced to have been executed while unofficial figures say as many as 47 were executed. A significant number of these hangings were carried out in public prompting human rights activists to argue that the regime s need to create fear among the populace has increased.
Iran is believed to have increased the number of centrifuges in an underground nuclear plant by nearly a third in three months, diplomats say, underlining the tough task facing major powers pressing Tehran to curb its atomic activity.
The current internal dispute coupled by more economic hardship, growing public discontent and increasing international sanctions has made the Iranian regime more vulnerable than before. The prospect of the fall of the Assad regime in Syria and its consequences, including among others, cutting the direct physical link with Hezbollah, is a nightmare for the Iranian rulers.
As economic problems deepen in Iran, Principlists (politicians who proclaim to be adherents to the original ideals of the 1979 Islamic revolution and who are closely associated with the current rulers) have embarked on efforts to portray the supreme leader of Iran s regime to be not responsible for the current economic problems facing the country, while at the same time launching accusations against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad s government on these issues. At the same time, a Principlist website this week announced that a pamphlet about Khamenei s innocence or non-responsibility over the current national issues has been prepared and distributed in Tehran and Qom.
After several days of silence on the prison death of blogger Sattar Beheshti, the Iranian Judiciary s Human Rights Council stated in a press release today, November 11, 2012, that by special order of Sadeq Larijani, Head of the Judiciary, "all aspects of the issue have come under careful review, and the Judiciary Spokesperson and other related officials will soon inform the public of results of the investigation." The statement adds that "any person who is involved in the case, through negligence or fault, will be subjected to immediate, strong, and zero-tolerance prosecution by the country s Judicial system."
Iranian manufacturers and builders face serious shortages of steel and other metals as a new European Union export ban adds to troubles for an economy already reeling from sanctions on its finances and oil exports. Reliant on imports to make up a shortfall in its own steel production, data shows Iran's purchases of foreign steel already falling as buyers are being hit by EU and U.S. measures which hinder banks, insurers and others supporting trade with Tehran until Iran agrees to alter its nuclear programme.
Two Iranian fighter jets fired on an unarmed US drone in the Gulf last week and missed, the Pentagon has said, warning that the US stood ready to protect its forces in the region. The incident occurred on November 1, less than a week before the US presidential election, the Department of Defence said.
The Obama administration signaled Thursday that it had no intention of letting up on sanctions pressure against Iran following the reelection of US President Barack Obama. The United States announced it had sanctioned four individuals and five entities for censorship, including jamming satellite broadcasts and blocking Internet access, in the first foreign policy move since Tuesday s vote.
Iran has been accused of torturing to death a blogger who was arrested last week for criticising the Islamic republic on Facebook. Iran's cyber-police, known as Fata, picked up Sattar Beheshti from his home in Robat-Karim last week on suspicion of "acting against the national security" because of his online activities on social networking sites. He was then taken to Tehran's notorious Evin prison
The latest official reports point to the presence of more than 2.5 million unemployed in urban areas and 500,000 unemployed in rural areas. Those in the 15 to 29 age group comprise the largest number of the unemployed, with over 2 million. In addition, the number of unemployed women is twice that of men.
Israel's prime minister and defence minister ordered the country's military to prepare for a strike against Iran's nuclear installations two years ago, according to a television documentary.
Based on reports received by the Melli-Mazhabi (Religious-Nationalist) website, security agents from the Iranian Judiciary transferred the bodies of four women who had been stoned to death to the Tehran forensic medicine department. The bodies are currently in freezers at this department.
Iran's supreme leader warned government officials and politicians Wednesday against turning their disputes into a public discussion, calling it "treason" against the state. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments were a direct jab at embattled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who publicly lambasted Iran's judiciary chief last week for rejecting his request to visit Evin prison
Iran s judiciary and prison authorities should end mistreatment of the prominent rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and six human rights organizations said today. Ebadi and the rights groups also called on Iran s authorities to allow all prisoners access to necessary medical care and family visits to which they are entitled under international human rights law.
Historic success for Iran's justice movement. After hearing the testimonies of over a hundred survivors and relatives of the victims of the mass executions of political prisoners in Iran in the 1980s, on October 27th the Iran Tribunal found the Islamic Republic guilty of crimes against humanity.
Tehran on Tuesday asked Iraq not to stop and search its Syria-bound aircraft despite US pressure to do so, after Baghdad inspected Iranian planes twice this month. "The Iraqi government should resist such pressures and do not allow such acts to take place in the future," said Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.
An Iranian naval task force has docked in Sudan, carrying with it a "message of peace and security to neighbouring countries", Iranian state media report. The vessels, which include a corvette and freighter, set sail from Iran last month, the Irna news agency said. Their arrival comes six days after explosions destroyed an arms factory in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Sudan has complained to the UN that Israel bombed the factory, which is believed to have been operated by Iran. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the incident
In Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti's last post before his arrest, he describes security services' threats against him for his dissident writings. He declares his determination to continue speaking out against the regime's repression
Siavash Hatam, an imprisoned student who was banned from continuing his education, is in dire psychological state at Evin Prison s Ward 350, a local source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Siavash has lost a lot of weight and does not have a good psychological state. He is 24. He was a graduate student when he was abruptly banned from continuing his education, and then he was imprisoned.
The malfunction of the heating system has added to the vast number of other problems in the prison facility. The overpopulation and lack of proper health care had made life behind these bars grueling. This is when Tehran s mayor entered the picture and gave his word to the prisoners at Evin that parts of the prison would be reconstructed and renovated.
Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, has called on Iran to reconsider the "outrageous" and "deplorable" detention of the prominent lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is on the eighth day of a hunger strike. Sotoudeh is serving a six-year jail term in Tehran's notorious Evin prison after being found guilty of "acting against the national security" and "propaganda against the regime" - charges that human rights activists say were trumped-up.
The hackers picked the one day of the year they knew they could inflict the most damage on the world's most valuable company, Saudi Aramco. On Islam's holliest day, at 11:08, a person with privileged access to the Saudi state-owned oil company's computers, unleashed a computer virus to initiate what is regarded as among the most destructive acts of computer sabotage on a company to date. The virus erased data on three-quarters of Aramco s corporate PCs - documents, spreadsheets, e-mails, files - replacing all of it with an image of a burning American flag.
Iran's judiciary has blocked a request by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Tehran's Evin prison, where a top presidential aide is being held, in a further sign of his waning influence. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, the president's press adviser and head of the state news agency IRNA, was sent to Evin in September to serve a six-month sentence for publishing an article deemed offensive to public decency. He was also convicted of insulting Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on his personal website, though it is unclear how or when this happened.
Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemns today s executions. IHR calls these executions 'unlawful' because reports indicate that the prisoners had confessed under torture and were sentenced to death in sham trials each one lasting less than 30 minutes.
Every fortnight six-year-old Sahar Mohammadi left home in the southern Iranian city of Kermanshah with her grandmother and made a 600-mile round trip to Evin prison in north Tehran. There, her mother, Sussan Amiri, was being held with fellow activists, mainly leftwingers, who later became victims of an unpublicised massacre of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s. "We were going to Evin in the hope they would let us in," said Mohammadi, now 33. "But she was not allowed visitors and I didn't get to see my mother at the end."
The United States and Israel are set to launch a major military exercise in a show of unity aimed at Iran, despite friction between American and Israeli leaders over how to counter Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The air defence drills, dubbed "Austere Challenge 2012," will unfold later this month and last about three weeks, with 3,500 US troops and 1,000 Israeli forces taking part, officers said on Wednesday.
Millions of lives are at risk in Iran because western economic sanctions are hitting the importing of medicines and hospital equipment, the country's top medical charity has warned. Fatemeh Hashemi, head of the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a non-government organisation supporting six million patients in Iran, has complained about a serious shortage of medicines for a number of diseases such as haemophilia, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Russia criticized the European Union on Wednesday for imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and called for a fresh round of talks between world powers and Tehran as soon as possible. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing "deep concern" over EU sanctions imposed on Tuesday against major Iranian state companies in the oil and gas industry and the central bank.
Daily oil production in Iran, the most important component of its economy, fell in September to the weakest level in nearly a quarter-century, according to monthly data released on Friday by the International Energy Agency. The agency forecast declines in Iran s ability to produce oil for years to come if Western sanctions were not lifted.
Iran could be planning to create a vast oil spill in the Strait of Hormuz, according to a top secret report obtained by Western intelligence officials. The aim of the operation is to both temporarily block the vital shipping channel and to force a suspension of Western sanctions.
The latest weapon in this country s ideological war with Iran arrived late last month in an armada of jets from California, accompanied by a private security force, dazzling pyrotechnics and a wardrobe that consisted of sequins and not much else. A crowd of nearly 30,000 gathered to watch as the leader of this mini-invasion pranced onto a stage built on the edge of the Caspian Sea. With a shout of "Hello, lovers!" Jennifer Lopez wiggled out of her skirt and launched into a throbbing disco anthem, delighting her Azerbaijani fans and - it was hoped - infuriating the turbaned ayatollahs who live just across the water.
US exports to Iran have jumped by nearly a third this year, despite the tightening of financial sanctions. According to the US Census Bureau, exports to Iran rose by 32 per cent to $199.5m in the first eight months of 2012, from $150.8m during the same period last year. The largest category of US exports through August was $89.2m in sales of wheat and other grains. In 2011, the US sold $21m worth of corn to Iran.
Police agents on Thursday attacked a government organized exhibition on "Digital Media" and in addition to beating an advisor to the minister of Islamic Guidance and using tear gas inside the exhibition hall, brawled with member of the special force protecting Tehran s Mosala fairgrounds.
The Islamic Republic's economy is suffering from the tightened noose of sanctions, with the rial currency losing nearly two-thirds of its value to the dollar over the past year. "If a guarantee is provided to supply the 20 percent (enriched) fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, our officials are ready to enter talks about 20 percent enrichment," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at a Eurasian media forum in Kazakhstan on Friday, according to Iran's Press TV. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel earlier in the week: "If our right to enrichment is recognised, we are prepared to offer an exchange. We would voluntarily limit the extent of our enrichment program, but in return we would need a guaranteed supply of the relevant fuels from abroad."