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SUMMARY: International attention to President Rouhani’s speech on State TV on Tuesday night is likely to focus on the issues of Syria and Iran’s nuclear program; however, the most significant messages may have been on the economy.

Rouhani gave a gloomy overview of Iran’s economic situation at the close of the Ahmadinejad Government, highlighting “negative growth” with both “recession” and “inflation”. He criticized the outgoing Government’s budget for spending far beyond revenue, heavily dependent on Iran’s falling oil exports, and he spoke about the problem of excessive liquidity in the committee.

Rouhani did not promise immediate solutions. Instead, he said his Government would move quickly with committees to evaluate problems, including in Iran’s oil and gas industry and in the agricultural sector, and asked for the public’s support.

Speaking about Syria, President Rouhani welcomed the Russian proposal for the Assad to give up its chemical weapons stocks in return for a suspension of US airstrikes.

Rouhani also wanted to ensure that the Syrian crisis does not derail discussions on Iran’s nuclear program, with a view to confirming Tehran’s sovereignty over uranium enrichment.

The President said Iran is ready for “serious talks” with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) on the basis of mutual respect and trust within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The last set of talks were in April, with no movement towards a resolution on the Islamic Republic’s enrichment on 20% uranium in return for a lifting of US-led sanctions. The two sides were expected to resume negotiations this autumn, but the escalation of the Syrian conflict has raised a question mark over this.

Rouhani said that an agreement on the nuclear issue must be “win-win”, and he cautioned that the time for a settlement is not unlimited.

Tehran has scheduled another round of discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency on September 27, trying to reach agreement on inspection and supervision of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

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American Detainee Smuggles Letter to US Secretary of State Kerry

Amir Hekmati, an Iranian-American dual national detained on espionage charges in Iran, has written to US Secretary of State John Kerry to declare that his televised confession was forced.

In a letter smuggled out of jail and obtained by the Guardian, Hekmati asserted, “This is part of a propaganda and hostage-taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad being held on security-related charges.”

The 29-year-old former US Marine was arrested in 2August 011 for alleged links to the CIA, after arriving in Tehran from Dubai on a family visit.

“For over two years I have been held on false charges based solely on confessions obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions and prolonged periods of solitary confinement,” he wrote.

Supreme Leader Gives Anti-Imperialist Message On 9/11 Anniversary

While President Rouhani is still putting out a message of engagement, the office of the Supreme Leader has used Khamenei’s English-language Twitter account to express an anti-imperialist and anti-US rant on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York.

In tweets using the hashtag #September11, Khamenei’s office writes:

Khamenei’s office now express distrust of the US:

Supreme Leader “Hopeful That US New Attitude on Syria is “Serious”

The Supreme Leader has welcomed US acceptance in principle of a Russian proposal for Syria to give up chemical weapons stocks in exchange for a suspension of American airstrikes.

“I am hopeful that the United States new attitude to Syria is serious and not a game with the media. For weeks they have threatened war against the people of this region for the benefit of the Zionists,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a speech to organizers of the Hajj pilgrimage on Wednesday.

However, the Supreme Leader continued his strong condemnation of foreign support of the Syrian insurgency:

Russia “Not Negotiating Delivery” Of S-300VM To Tehran

Russia’s Interfax news agency on Wednesday cited a “diplomatic-military source familiar with the situation” as saying that Russia is not negotiating the delivery to Iran of a new S-300VM “Antey-2500” anti-ballistic missile system.

“Delivery of the Antey-2500 systems to Iran cannot be excluded in the long term, but at the moment, Russian special exporters are not conducting any pre-contract work on this issue,” the source said.

The source was commenting on recent media reports that the Russian authorities allegedly took a decision to supply five S-300VM “Antey-2500 systems to Iran in exchange for Tehran withdrawing a $4 bln lawsuit against the Rosoboronexport company for failure to supply five five battalions of S-300PMU1, at a value of $800 million, under a previous contract.

Central Bank: Economy Shrank 5.4% in 2012-2013, Inflation at 44%

The Central Bank has confirmed that the Iranian economy contracted by 5.4% from March 2012 to March 2013, according to Minister of Economy Ali Tayyebnia.

President Rouhani’s deputy for planning, Mohammad-Baqer Nobakht, added that the Bank put the inflation rate at 44%.