05 Feb 2010 13:03
Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.
Iran suggests 'impossible' deal over nuclear fuel in surprise move
Times Online | Feb. 6, 2010
Iran has drawn up tough conditions on its proposed deal to ship out stocks of nuclear fuel, condemning the agreement to failure, The Times has learned.
Iran's conditions, contained in a written proposal given to British parliamentarians, include handing over its fuel in two batches on Iranian soil -- both deal breakers in previous negotiations.
News of the conditions came as signs grew of the uphill battle Washington faces in persuading Russia and China to back punishing new sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council.
Russia had appeared to be leaning closer towards sanctions after Iran's refusal to back the deal which Moscow helped broker. Yesterday Russia's foreign minister held surprise talks with his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference while China insisted Tehran was still open to the deal.
UK firm pleads guilty to selling U.S. 747 to Iran
Politico | Feb. 5, 2010
Balli Aviation Ltd., a subsidiary of the UK-based Balli Group PLC, pleaded guilty today in D.C. district court to a two-count criminal indictment that it illegally exported a commercial Boeing 747 plane from the U.S. to Iran, the Justice Department said.
Under the plea agreement, Balli Aviation Ltd. agreed to pay a $2 million criminal fine, a $15 million civil settlement, and to be placed on corporate probation for five years.
According to information filed with the court, Balli Aviation Ltd. from 2005 to 2008 conspired to export three Boeing 747 aircraft from the United States to Iran, without first having obtained the required export license. Using its subsidiaries, the Blue Sky Companies, Balli Aviation purchased U.S.-origin aircraft with financing obtained from an Iranian airline and caused these aircraft to be exported to Iran, via what appears to be a cut-out entity, Blue Airways, registered in Armenia. Balli then entered into lease arrangements that permitted the Iranian airline, Mahan Airways, to use the Boeing 747s to fly in and out of Iran, department documents said.
Interestingly, the Iranian company, Mahan Airways, is alleged in some reports to be owned by the Rafsanjani family.
"As this case demonstrates, corporations that conduct business with Iran in violation of U.S. export laws and sanctions face serious consequences," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General said.
Iranian opposition websites under cyber attack
Radio Zamaneh | Feb. 5, 2010
Amir Kabir Newsletter and Advar News, two independent student websites in Iran, were attacked by internet hackers, the Iranian Cyber Army.
The two sites are amongst the few remaining sites that report from within Iran, independent from the government. The organizers of the two sites have been amongst the many targets of government crackdown on post-election protesters.
Internet social networking and news sites have been the most vital tool for election protesters to remain informed and engaged in the past eight months since all Iranian media and broadcasting are heavily controlled by the government.
U.S. will not wreck gas plans, Iran says
UPI | Feb. 5, 2010
Tehran will not let U.S. pressure and regional military activity get in the way of plans to build a natural gas pipeline to Pakistan, the foreign minister said.
Iran wants to ship some of the gas from the offshore South Pars complex, the largest in the world, east through the long-delayed pipeline to eastern markets.
Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, complained U.S. military activity was destabilizing the region, which he said "could create a new crisis" for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan's The News International reports.
Iranian authorities brace themselves to face a new Intifada
Elaph | Feb. 5, 2010
An opposition Iranian source revealed that Iranian authorities are making preparations to confront the opposition expected to occur in the capital, Tehran, in addition to other cities, on the occasion of the commemoration of the Islamic Revolution.
He pointed out that the authorities are currently holding sessions for their security forces' on how to confront the demonstrators under the label of "crisis management," in addition to re-organizing the Basij militia, carrying out military exercises, and preparing female members to participate in the confrontations with the female demonstrators.
Western powers voice skepticism over Iran uranium offer
Guardian | Feb. 3, 2010
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he has 'no problem' giving uranium to west for further enrichment, but wants it back within five months.
US and European officials today reacted sceptically to Iran's offer to send uranium abroad for enrichment as a way of ending its standoff with the west.
Ahmadinejad, said yesterday that Iran was ready to send uranium overseas as requested by the UN.
"If we allow them to take it, there is no problem. We sign a contract to give 3.5% enriched uranium and receive 20% enriched after four or five months," the president said.
He dismissed concerns voiced by what he described as "colleagues" that the west would not return the uranium, saying Iran would respond to that by continuing to produce its own enriched uranium.
Tehran risks more protests with cuts to energy and food subsidies
Financial Times | Feb. 5, 2010
Iran's regime is risking further unpopularity by preparing to cut the official subsidies holding down the prices of energy and basic commodities.
The prices of petrol, water, electricity, gas and other essential commodities such as wheat, sugar and rice, will all rise to international levels over the next five years. Many Iranians consider cheap energy and food their birthrights because their country sits on the world's second-largest oil and gas reserves. Dropping subsidies might deepen the regime's unpopularity at a time when the opposition Green Movement has momentum.
The unrest has largely been led by the middle classes. But analysts believe the plan to cut subsidies could widen the Green Movement's support to include the working classes.
The industrial sector is already working at only half capacity: the additional costs imposed by the removal of subsidies might prove crippling.
Ahmadinejad's economic plans under attack
IWPR | Feb. 2, 2010
A new five-year plan and annual budget are poorly conceived, say deputies.
While Iranian politics have been mostly consumed with the aftermath of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June 2009, unease about his ability to steer the economy has been brewing amid high unemployment and runaway inflation.
The parliament will have a hard time giving Ahmadinejad much latitude given the skepticism that exists towards a budget proposal that takes up only a few pages and gives very general and vague numbers.
Ahmadinejad's departure from the tradition of detailed five-year economic plans with clearly stated objectives in terms of indicators such economic growth and investment rates - even if hardly ever fulfilled - has elicited disdain at best and sneers at worst.
Mottaki: Pakistan and Iran are part of a single body
Tehran Times | Feb. 4, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will soon visit Pakistan to develop a joint action plan for further boosting bilateral ties and strengthening tripartite contracts with Afghanistan on security issues, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has told a visiting Pakistani media delegation.
"We are in consultation through diplomatic channels to finalize dates of the visit," Mottaki said. This will be the first-ever visit of President Ahmadinejad, since he assumed the office.
During the last two years, their bilateral relationship received tremendous boost in all sectors of bilateral interest, he said hoping the forthcoming visit of President Ahmadinejad will further consolidate their deep-rooted historical and cultural relationship.
Mottaki said that Pakistan and Iran are part of a single body. Condemning Zionist anti-Islamic policies world over, he said inimical forces, particularly Israel are bent upon to divide and harm us. But, he said they will never succeed.
Iranian American 2010 Census Project Coalition Gains Momentum
Payvand | Feb. 5, 2010
Unprecedented cooperation among 19 Iranian American organizations
The Iranian-American 2010 Census Project proudly announces the addition of Andisheh Center, Association of Iranian American Professionals of San Diego, Bay Area Iranian-American Democrats, Empowered Women United, Iranican, Iranian Studies Group at MIT, Persian Center and Persian Cultural Club to its list of coalition partners.
Now at 19 partners and counting, the coalition was formed to ensure maximum and consistent participation by Iranian Americans in the 2010 U.S. Census.