LATEST: South Pars Gas Field “Needs $17 Billion” To Start Production

PHOTO: Journalist Fariba Pajouh, detained on Wednesday

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Despite President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s call for a relaxation of censorship of media, there is no sign of a let-up in pressure on Iranian journalists.

In the latest case, Fariba Pajouh, a correspondent for reformist newspapers, was detained on Wednesday morning.

A family member told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “One female and three male agents went to Fariba’s home. They searched her home for about an hour, and then took her laptop computer and other personal items, including the satellite TV receiver, with them. They didn’t say what the reason for the arrest was. They only said that they would return her soon.”

Pajouh was first arrested following the disputed 2009 Presidential election and released on bail of $50,000 after 124 days in detention. She was sentenced to one year in prison, later suspended for five years by an appeals court.

The journalist has not been working with any media outlet recently.

The relative said, “When the forces took her, they didn’t say anything. During her telephone calls to her family, she said that she does not know the reason for her arrest. I really don’t know what she did. I only know that she has not committed any wrongdoing against the law. She is very conservative and we really don’t know why she was arrested.”

Pajouh has been allowed to call her family twice: “She said she spent the night in solitary confinement, but that her conditions are good. She sounded good, too. She told her family not to worry.”

Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

South Pars Gas Field “Needs $17 Billion” To Start Production

Mehr News Agency reports that, after expenditure of $46 billion in last three years, projects in the South Pars gas field have stopped because of the reduction in injected capital and “turtle-like progress”.

The website said $17 billion is needed so the field can start production.

Friday Prayer Update: “Enemies” and Egypt

Ayatollah Emami Kashani took the podium today at Tehran Friday Prayers. He went through the ritual of praising the Supreme Leader’s approval of last month’s Presidential vote, then turned to Egypt:

With complete regret, today Egypt, which is a country with a rich civilization and wealth that has grown under Islam, is [facing a bleak situation] and this is the result of the enemies’ work. Egypt’s present situation returns to the Egyptian nation and [the reason for the bleak situation] is that there is no leadership of justice, jurisprudence and velayat [guardianship of the jurist] in that country, but the Egyptian nation itself must pay attention to what is happening around them.

Ahmadinejad Proposes Law on Working Hours for Women

A new law on working hours for women proposed by outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has caused some controversy.

The bill would allow certain women — those who head a household, care for a disabled child or spouse, or have children under the age of seven — to work 36 hours but still be paid 44 hours of full-time employment. Alternatively, these women — whether working in government or the private sector — would be permitted to take two days of paid leave each month.

The proposed law has been criticised by women’s rights activists as a further attempt by Ahmadinejad to reduce the role of women in the workforce and society more broadly.

Iran Asks India To Settle $1.5 Billion in Oil Debt

Effectively recognising the constraints of sanctions, Iran has asked India to settle $1.53 billion owed to Tehran for oil imports, using partly-convertible rupees.

India has been paying for 45% of its Iranian oil imports in rupees. Its settlement of the remainder in Euros through Turkey’s Halkbank, but transactions were halted in February under pressure from US-led sanctions.

Since then, Indian refiners have held 55% percent of payments.

The two countries had been trying to reduce New Delhi’s debts by promoting exports. India recently said it would allow goods to be imported for re-export to Iran as long as they added value of at least 15%.

India imported 262,800 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran in 2012/13, a reduction of 27.4% from the previous year.

MP Mohammad Saleh: “Rouhani is Not Someone Who Would Use ‘Seditionists'”

Discussing the formation of the president-elect’s cabinet, Mohammad Saleh, a member of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Commission, declared “If we want to move down the path of moderation espoused by the President-elect, the essence of the cabinet, which is made up of managers, must be moderates. Those who were involved in the [2009] sedition and challenged the system will certainly not have a place in Rouhani’s cabinet. [H]e is not someone who would use such individuals.”

Saleh added “[W]e have not forgotten the [1999 student uprising]. This event was costly for the system, but we want to prepare the nation’s path of growth and progress in a calm environment and an environment that the people feel secure in regarding the fulfillment of their goals in the political, economic and cultural arenas.”

Hat tip: AEI

Combatant Clergy Association: “Rouhani Faces Problem of Rising Expectations”

Commenting on the recent presidential election Abdolwahab Mousavi Lari, a member of the Combatant Clergy Association Central Council, said yesterday “Rouhani’s election was the result of a Reformist outlook that does not accept the [country’] current condition…”

He added that “Today, one of the problems that Rouhani is facing is raising the level of the people’s maximum expectation [of the government], and the two camps [Principlists and Reformists] exacerbate this problem. Those close to Rouhani must help him understand why people are seeking transformation.” Lari also declared that “We do not seek to have conflict with the world, the Iranian nation is a peace-seeking nation and it is natural that it must confront the world well and with goodness.”

While discussing the motives of those who voted for Rouhani Lari also felt compelled, for some reason, to raise the issue of the Holocaust. He stated, “The people who came and voted for Rouhani did not [vote on the basis of whether] the Holocaust was the truth or a lie [rather their mindset was]: ‘I say that I do not care that some say it is a truth and that some say it is a lie. Hitler and members of his race must answer, and if it is a lie [then] the Zionists must answer.” He added, “I do not say [we] should question historical truths, but we must know how much that matter is related to us, and if it is not related to us, we should not enter the discussion so our interests face issues on the international level.”

Hat tip: AEI