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12 Feb 2010 18:32No Comments

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 Crackdown Quashes Protests

CSM | Feb. 12, 2010

Iran dealt a blow to the opposition Thursday, rallying tens of thousands of pro-regime marchers and disrupting, sometimes violently, protests long-planned to show continuing dissatisfaction with the regime on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic republic's founding.

The show of force came as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a pro-government crowd in Tehran that Iran had successfully enriched uranium to higher levels than before. Iranian officials also said Thursday they could enrich uranium further still, though Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran had no intention of producing a nuclear bomb.

Tehran's crackdown and fresh nuclear claims appeared to be a message to critics at home and abroad: Mr. Ahmadinejad's government remains unbowed, despite pressure from Washington and allied capitals to curb its nuclear ambitions, and amid persistent domestic unrest spawned by last summer's contested presidential elections.

Security services and government supporters appeared to vastly outnumber protesters on Thursday, according to online opposition accounts, Iranians reached by telephone and international media reports.

Ahmadinejad makes nuclear claims, stifles protests on revolution's anniversary

WP | Feb. 12, 2010

Hundreds of thousands of government supporters thronged central Tehran to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution on Thursday, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran had become a "nuclear state."

Ahmadinejad's remarks, along with the smothering of planned opposition rallies, appeared designed to up the ante in Iran's confrontation with the West. Despite demands for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions, the Iranian government has made clear that it has little use for President Obama's efforts to spark a dialogue.

France does not believe Iran's nuclear claim

WP | AP | Feb. 12, 2010

France does not believe Iran's claim that it is capable of enriching uranium to near weapons-grade levels, the country's foreign minister said Friday.

Bernard Kouchner told Europe 1 radio that the "Americans don't believe, not any more than us, that Iran is currently capable of enriching uranium to 80 percent."

But Iran's claim "adds to the dangerousness" of the situation, he said.

Iranian regime ships in support for anniversary celebrations

TO | Feb. 12, 2010

The Iranian regime thwarted Opposition plans to hijack the 31st anniversary celebrations of the Islamic revolution yesterday by shipping in tens of thousands of supporters and violently suppressing anti-government protests.

The Opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammed Khatami were attacked by security forces, as was Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Zahra Eshraghi, the reform-minded granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution, was arrested briefly. A protester named Leila Zareii, 27, was reportedly shot and killed.

"It's pretty clear that Greens everywhere will feel demoralized . . . The overall feeling is one of disappointment," one source in Tehran told The Times last night.

The mullahs make the green revolution invisible to the media

Frontpage | Feb. 12, 2010

On the 31st anniversary of the coming to power of the current Iranian regime, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have successfully used unprecedented measures to make some Western media outlets lose faith in the opposition's fight for freedom and democracy.

TIME Magazine asks, "Where was the opposition?" The Daily Mail has run a report quoting a protester declaring February 11 "a day of victory for the regime," and detailing the failure of the Green Movement to mobilize. The Los Angeles Times says the pro-regime rally "overshadow[ed]" the opposition that "failed to derail" the regime's agenda for the day.

From these articles, you'd think that the Green Revolution had fizzled and was on its way out. Reports from Iranians, though, paint a more hopeful picture of continued resistance in the face of security measures nearly insurmountable without active Western support.

Planet-Iran's live-blogging revealed that overnight in Tehran and in the morning in Tabriz, demonstrators disabled P.A. systems and loudspeakers set up by the regime to drown out their chants with pro-regime propaganda. A bus carrying members of the Basiji to Tehran was set ablaze, resulting in a violent battle. Despite the huge security presence, helmets and motorcycles belonging to the suppressive forces were seen on fire. Molotov cocktails were thrown in Golestan Province and Khamenei's photo was burned in Shiraz. At one time, about 10,000 Iranians in Tehran gathered and marched towards Evin Prison, the notorious torture house reserved for the worst political prisoners. Other video of the demonstrations that TIME and other outlets missed can be seen at the Wall Street Journal website and the Homylafayette blog. One video even shows the demonstrators emerging victorious from a clash with the attacking security forces.

Heavy clashes continue in west of Tehran

Radio Zamaneh | Feb. 11, 2010

According to Jaras website, "heavy clashes" between protesters and government forces continue in Aryashar area of Tehran while scattered shots can be heard in the area.

A rally call has invited protesters to join protesting demonstrations this evening on Thursday in different locations in the city such as across from Evin Prison and also in front of the National Broadcasting offices of Seda-va-Sima.

Kalameh website reports that opposition leader, MirHosein Mousavi was impeded from joining protesters and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard was heavily attacked by pro-government forces. Kalameh reports that "Forces in plain clothes attacked Dr. Rahnavard with fists and batons, hitting her on the head and waist." The report adds that a spontaneous circle of supporters helped her escape the attackers.

Security forces also impeded Mir Hosein Mousavi from joining protesters.

Nuclear chief: Iran enriched uranium to 20%

PressTV | Feb. 12, 2010

Iran's nuclear chief confirms that the country has produced its first batch of higher-enriched uranium for use in a medical-research reactor in Tehran.

This comes after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had announced on Thursday that the country has successfully managed to complete production of its first stock of uranium enriched to 20 percent.

"We have produced the first batch of 20 percent enriched uranium at the Natanz enrichment facility," Ahmadinejad said at a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran.

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed the announcement later in the day, adding that the process has the capacity to produce an estimated amount of three to five kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium per month.

Iran has requested the International Atomic Energy Agency to arrange for supplying of the fuel to the country. The West has been pressuring Iran to accept a UN-backed draft deal which requires Iran to send most of its domestically-produced low enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for conversion into the more refined fuel that the Tehran reactor requires to produce medical isotopes.

Iran says its concerns over the proposal, which was first floated by the US, should be heeded. The development comes as Tehran says is still ready to negotiate over the issue and has been trying to find a middle ground with the West over the nuclear swap.

Iran needs 120 kg (264 lb) of 20 percent-enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran research reactor, which produces medical isotopes for cancer patients and is soon to run out of fuel.

If the reactor's fuel completely dries up, there will be heavy consequences for thousands of Iranian patients, who desperately need post-surgery drug treatment with nuclear medicine.

On Tuesday, Iran began enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent at its Natanz enrichment facility under the surveillance of the UN nuclear watchdog.

The news has been greeted with skepticism, and somewhat fury, by Western powers -- particularly the United States, which has for years been under the impression that Iran seeks to develop nuclear weapons in the long run.

In response to the growing Western pressure, Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh has asserted that the Tehran government reserves the right to produce higher-enriched uranium.

"Iran has the right to enrich uranium to 20 percent to provide fuel for the Tehran research reactor," Soltanieh said in an interview with the Al-Alam News Network on Wednesday.

Lieberman Discusses New Iran Sanctions Bill, Says Regime 'Has Sealed Its Fate'

RFE/RL | Feb. 11, 2010

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (Independent, Connecticut) talked to RFE/RL today about the bill that he and Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) are introducing in Congress that targets Iranian officials who have committed human right abuses. Lieberman told RFE/RL correspondent Heather Maher that the United States has a "principled responsibility" to help the people of Iran fight back against what he called the "fanatical and repressive" regime that is denying them their basic human rights.

RFE/RL: Senator Lieberman, you and Senator McCain are the chief authors of a new bill being introduced today in the Senate that would require President Obama to draw up a list of Iranian officials who have committed human rights abuses since the June election, and then impose punishments on them. What sort of penalties does the bill lay out and what do you hope the measure will accomplish?

Senator Joseph Lieberman: Today Senator McCain and I, joined by a broad group of colleagues in the Senate -- bipartisan, across the ideological spectrum -- are going to introduce targeted sanctions legislation, and this is different, this is not about Iran's nuclear weapons program. This is targeted at the individuals in the Iranian government who have perpetrated human rights abuses against the Iranian people.

And specifically, the bill will require President [Barack] Obama to draw up and then periodically update a list of individuals who have committed human rights abuses and then [it] imposes targeted sanctions on them. For instance, putting in place a visa ban on them or restricting their ability to conduct financial transactions. And also making the list of human rights abusers publicly available so that other governments, and just ordinary people around the world, including in Iran, can know exactly who these freedom-suppressing people are.

Threatened sanctions against Iran are proving to be another wedge between US and China

BI | Feb. 12, 2010

Beijing's reaction might be expected to be a dismissive and a resigned shrug: a symbolic vote, another toothless round of sanctions, more political kabuki, and eventually business as usual.

However, China's expected non-vote will be accompanied by new feelings of unease and anger, reflecting Beijing's growing suspicion that an important motivation for the Iran sanctions, and the escalation of Iran tensions in general, is Washington's desire to employ the issue as a wedge against China.

Sentence reduced for Tajbakhsh

Columbia Spectator | Feb. 12, 2010

On Wednesday, an Iranian news agency announced that an Iranian appellate court reduced Kian Tajbakhsh's prison sentence from 15 years to five years.

Tajbakhsh, a U.S.-Iranian scholar who earned his Ph.D. from Columbia, was arrested over the summer, during the aftermath of the controversial presidential election. He was given a 15-year jail sentence in October on charges of spying and being a threat to the national government. He was accused of working with George Soros' Open Society Institute and being on the email list of Columbia researcher Gary Sick, both of which Iran connects to the CIA. Sick has denied this charge.

International broadcasters condemn Iran over 'jamming'

BBC | Feb. 12, 2010

Three major international broadcasters have strongly condemned Iran for its "deliberate electronic interference" in their broadcasts.

The BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America said the jamming began on Thursday as Iran marked the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

They said Iran was broadcasting freely around the world while denying its own people programs coming from outside.

Earlier, the US accused Iran of using a "near-total information blockade."

Q + A-How can Iran block Google?

Reuters | Feb. 11, 2010

Iran's government has stepped up efforts to censor the Internet, blocking access to popular sites, according to the U.S. State Department.

Google Inc (GOOG.O) has identified itself as one of the companies whose site has been blocked. The company has also faced off with China recently over Web censorship.

Q. How could Iran block access to specific websites?

A. All Internet traffic in Iran, and many other countries including China, is inspected by government-controlled computers programmed that filter content.

Officials can easily program those filters so that computers in those countries cannot access certain Web pages, such as Google.com, or use specific programs, such as eBay Inc's (EBAY.O) Skype, Twitter, or Activision Blizzard Inc's (ATVI.O) World of Warcraft online video game.

Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi decries human rights abuses in her homeland

GulfNews | Feb. 12, 2010

Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi says the worsening human rights situation in her home country is "deteriorating rapidly."

She says the international community should continue to put pressure on the government in Tehran to stop abuses against opposition groups.

Ebadi has stayed outside of Iran since a day before the June elections after which hundreds of dissidents were arrested for protesting the results.

The 2003 Peace Prize winner spoke on Friday at the United Nations in Geneva ahead of Iran's appearance next week before the global body's Human Rights Council.

The review of Iran's record on Monday is expected to pit western countries and human rights groups against Tehran's allies on the 47-nation council.

The barricades to freedom in Iran

Daily Beast | Feb. 12, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad overshadowed opposition protests by declaring Iran a nuclear state Thursday. But Azadeh Moaveni says reformers should also beware of strong global foes--from exiled Iranians to Western pundits, Arab states to Al Jazeera.

To the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who aspire to democracy and now regularly pour into the streets to prove it, there is no higher sabotage than their government's nuclear brinkmanship. At virtually every important juncture when the country's opposition movement has commanded the world's attention, the regime has cleverly diverted the news cycle with some terrifying-sounding claim about its nuclear program. That now familiar dynamic is shaping the world's reaction to the news emerging Thursday from Iran. With anti-government protesters skirmishing with police in neighborhoods throughout the city, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had become a nuclear state. Better to remind the world just what sort of scary, uranium-enriching country stands the risk of being destabilized by its would-be democrats.

Security forces opened fire on the crowd /several injured in Aryashahr

Rahana | Feb. 11, 2010

Security forces attacked the crowd of protesters in Arya-Shahr, opening fire on them. Several people have reportedly been injured during the shooting. However, the crowd has not dispersed and kept chanting slogans. Security forces fired directly on the masses of protesters.

There is a heavy presence of military and intelligence forces in Tehran streets.

Iran's inflation rate falls to 12.2 percent

PressTV | Feb. 11, 2010

Iran's inflation rate has fallen over the last 10 months, reaching 12.2 percent in the Iranian month of Dey, which ended January 22, Iran's Finance Minister says.

"A plan to lessen the inflation rate had been put on the government's agenda at the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 21, 2009)," Shamseddin Hosseini told reporters after a cabinet session Wednesday.

He added that this success has been achieved partially due to financial discipline and partially because of monetary policies.

Iran photo wins world press award

npr | Feb. 12, 2010

A truly compelling photo of women shouting in protest from a rooftop in Tehran has won the World Press Photo of the Year award for 2009.

Italian photographer Pietro Masturzo took this shot while covering the turmoil in Iran following its disputed June presidential election.

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