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AUSTRIA IAEA IRANIAN AMBASSADOR

Associated Press in Vienna

The Guardian, Mon 3 Jan 2011 23.24 GMT

Iran has invited Russia, China, the EU and its allies in the Arab world and developing world to tour its nuclear sites, in an apparent move to gain support prior to a fresh round of talks with six world powers.
In a letter made available yesterday to Associated Press, senior Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh suggested the weekend of 15 January for the tour, and said meetings “with high-ranking officials” were envisaged.
While no reason was given for the timing of the offer, it comes weeks before Iran and the six powers follow up on recent talks that ended with agreement on little else but to meet again.

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Leading cleric defies Tehran on confessions

By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran FT.COM
Published: December 29 2010 19:16 | Last updated: December 29 2010 19:16

In a rare public challenge to the Iranian regime, the country’s highest-ranking cleric has warned that prisoners’ confessions are invalid, signalling a deepening gulf between the political establishment in Tehran and clerical establishment in the holy city of Qom.

“Confessions of prisoners have no validity and if a judge uses confessions for issuing verdicts that judge is no longer qualified,” Grand Ayatollah Hossein Vahid Khorasani told students this week, according to domestic websites including Parlemannews, which is run by reformist parliamentarians.

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By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 7:02 PM

TEHRAN – Thousands of Iranian truck drivers began a second day of strikes Tuesday after a sharp increase in the price of diesel fuel, transportation company officials said, as the Obama administration announced a further tightening of economic sanctions intended to pressureIran over its nuclear program.

The apparently spontaneous strikes in several cities were the first sign of public discontent since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government raised fuel prices Sunday as part of an elaborate plan to slash state subsidies in the coming weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

By MARK LANDLER, New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on Iran, serving notice that it will not ease the pressure on Tehran just because it has begun talking again with the West about its nuclear program.

The measures announced by the Treasury Department — aimed at three companies linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and at Iran’s national shipping line — are less important than the timing. They come two weeks after Iran held chilly talks in Geneva with the United States and other countries, which accomplished little beyond an agreement to meet again in Istanbul in late January.

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Xan Brooks theguardian.co.uk

Film-makers and actors from around the globe are expected to sign a petition calling for the release of the dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi. An Iranian court yesterday sentenced the 50-year-old to six years in prison, his lawyer said, and banned him from directing or producing films for 20 years.

Launched earlier today, the online petition claims that “Jafar is innocent and his only crime is wishing to continue to freely exercise his profession as a film-maker in Iran … Through this sentence inflicted upon Jafar Panahi, it is manifestly all of Iranian cinema which is targeted.”

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Message from Iranian students in response to UCL Occupation message of solidarity

Addressed to protesting students in England

Dear friends

We have received your statement of solidarity* and it is indeed beyond all words that how encouraging and heartening we have found it. Your message found us almost on the Students day in Iran, a day in which once again, despite the unprecedented presence of repressive forces, we uttered the voice of our protest in all universities throughout Iran and, yet again, we showed that not only a year of threats, suspensions, arrests and tortures has not brought us to a standstill, but it has only made us more determined to pursue our struggle for freedom, justice and human rights more tirelessly than ever.

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The Independent

I came to the latest uproarious US diplomatic history with the deepest cynicism. And yesterday, in the dust of post-election Cairo – the Egyptian parliamentary poll was as usual a mixture of farce and fraud, which is at least better than shock and awe – I ploughed through so many thousands of American diplomatic reports with something approaching utter hopelessness. After all, they do quote President Hosni Mubarak as saying that “you can forget about democracy,” don’t they?

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Ian Black and Simon Tisdall
guardian.co.uk

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.

The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war.

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By Farnaz Fassihi, Wall Street Journal

Iran’s parliament revealed it planned to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime.

Lawmakers also launched a new petition to bring a debate on the president’s impeachment, conservative newspapers reported Monday.

The reports of challenges to Mr. Ahmadinejad were intended as retorts to a powerful body of clerics that urged Mr. Khamenei to curb the parliament’s authority and give greater clout to the president.

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