There are signs that negotiations with Iran over a nuclear fuel swap have resumed despite the expiration of the end-of-year deadline for a deal set by President Barack Obama.
While the Obama administration has stepped up talk of expanding sanctions on the regime’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iranian news reports and U.S. official sources say that Iran has recently returned a formal counter offer to swap low enriched uranium, or LEU, in exchange for nuclear fuel cells produced in the West.
The proposal comes as Iranian news reports say the foreign ministry has announced the halting of uranium enrichment for two months as a good-will gesture. Outside observers have not confirmed that claim. [continued…]
U.S. shifts Iran focus to support opposition
The Obama administration is increasingly questioning the long-term stability of Tehran’s government and moving to find ways to support Iran’s opposition “Green Movement,” said senior U.S. officials.
The White House is crafting new financial sanctions specifically designed to punish the Iranian entities and individuals most directly involved in the crackdown on Iran’s dissident forces, said the U.S. officials, rather than just those involved in Iran’s nuclear program.
U.S. Treasury Department strategists already have been focusing on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has emerged as the economic and military power behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. [continued…]
The state of the opposition is strong
A couple of days after June’s stolen election in Iran, Flynt Leverett and I were both guests on “The Charlie Rose Show.” Mr. Leverett was waxing eloquent about how Ahmadinejad could have actually won the election. His supposed evidence was a May poll, conducted by phone from Turkey, before the presidential campaign had even begun. Apparently he did not read the entire report of the poll, merely a summary, published in a Washington Post editorial. Much of the full report contradicted his conclusions. Moreover, anyone who believes that Iranians today will reveal their real electoral preferences to a pollster calling from Turkey probably responds to emails from Nigerian princes. [continued…]
Steady drip of leaks corrodes the core of the Iranian regime
Beatings, arrests, show trials and even killings have failed to discourage Iranians from taking to the streets in protest. But those same tactics may be taking a toll on the government itself, eating away at its legitimacy even among its core of insiders, Iran experts are saying. The evidence? Leaks.
They began in December. Leaks about private meetings of the intelligence services and Revolutionary Guards; an embarrassing memo from state-owned television on how to cover the protests; a note about how the security services have been using petty criminals to fill out the ranks of pro-government demonstrations.
There is no way to verify the accuracy of these leaks. But the government appears to have grown so angry and frustrated with what it calls a “soft war” to overthrow the state that it recently made it a crime to be affiliated with many foreign news outlets, dozens of nongovernmental organizations and opposition Web sites deemed “antirevolutionary.” [continued…]
Iran’s parliament exposes abuse of opposition prisoners at Tehran jail
Iranian MPs lifted a blanket of official denial on the country’s post-election upheaval today by blaming a senior regime insider for abuses that led to the deaths of at least three prisoners in a detention centre.
In the first publicly documented admission that abuses occurred in the weeks after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, the majlis, Iran’s parliament, identified Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran’s former chief prosecutor, as the main culprit in the scandal over the Kahrizak facility.
A report read out to MPs said 147 prisoners had been held in a 70-square-metre room for four days without proper ventilation, heating and food on Mortazavi’s orders. The prisoners were sent to Kahrizak after being arrested at a demonstration on 9 July, less than a month after Ahmadinejad’s victory. [continued…]
Iran’s opposition spreads to heartland
Mohammad knew he had to be careful in approaching his old classmate Hamed, the one from the conservative Iranian family. They come from a small city, after all, and word gets around.
When they ran into each other last summer in their eastern Iranian hometown of Birjand, the pair hadn’t seen each other for nine years. As they caught up on old times, the conversation turned to the country’s disputed election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
“He believed Ahmadinejad’s victory was not fraudulent, and that Mousavi was angry because Iranians didn’t vote for him,” said Mohammad, a 23-year-old engineering student in Birjand, a provincial capital of 160,000 near the border with Afghanistan. “He also thought that the people who protest are some gangsters and not civilized people.” [continued…]
Rafsanjani so silent because he gets no respect, brother says
For months Iran watchers have wondered what was up with Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, as well as a pillar of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Once considered the second-most powerful man in the country and the primary backer of Iran’s burgeoning opposition movement, he has grown uncharacteristically quiet in the last couple of months.
In an interview published this weekend by the Mehr news agency (in Persian), his younger brother, Mohammad, says he’s grown so silent “because no one listens to him.” [continued…]