LATEST: Tehran Friday Prayer Backs Supreme Leader & Rouhani Government

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SUMMARY: Speaking on State TV, President Rouhani’s Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian has declared progress in checking economic decline while emphasizing that the budget inherited from the Ahmadinejad administration is damaging and must be reformed.

Nahavandian both denounced sanctions — “there are people who profit from these conditions, and they have made lifting sanctions difficult” — and said the Government was dealing with them, for example, by releasing basic good and medicines from customs.

He then turned to the last Ahmadinejad budget, passed this spring but carrying a large deficit:

The Government knows that its duty is to implement the budget that Parliament approves, but the budget this year is unrealistic. More than a seventh of its revenues will not be achieved….

Presently, we do not have sufficient resources from fuel carriers to issue subsidies to families, whether in production or the health sector.

Nahavandian also said that the sharp rise in money supply in the economy, fuelling inflation, must be reversed.

The advisor concluded by linking economic success to the success of Rouhani’s engagement of the West, citing the President’s speech and meetings at the United Nations last month:

The first achievement of the trip to New York was that the sanctions were broken and we witnessed that the content of meetings with the Iranian delegation was expression of interest for economic cooperation with Iran and confessing to the irrationality of sanctions.

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Tehran Friday Prayer Backs Supreme Leader & Rouhani Government

An interesting message from the hard-line Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami in the Tehran Friday Prayer….

Khatami told the audience, “Internal strength is the most powerful weapon against the enemy.”

That in itself is a routine statement. What is significant is that Khatami tied it to support rather than criticism of the Rouhani Government, invoking the Supreme Leader, on both economic policy and engagement of the West.

With the declaration that these policies are based on the “commands of the Leader”, Khatami said, “we have to trust the authorities.”

Only Supreme Leader Can Stop “Death to America” Chants

Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards has said that only the Supreme Leader can put an end to the use of the chant “Death to America.”

Hojatoleslam Ali Saidi said that

putting an end to the ‘Death to America’ slogan is one of the variable principles and changing the tactic and methods for dealing with it can only be determined by the Supreme Jurisconsult in power…In the Supreme Leader’s opinion, negotiations with America must be only about the nuclear issue and based on the tactic of heroic flexibility. Heroic flexibility means being flexible, while relying on your power and honor.

The issue of the use of this slogan has made headlines recently as some prominent Iranians, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, questioned its continued use in light of the thaw in US-Iranian relations during the Rouhani administration.

Russian FM: “Good Prospects” For Progress on Nuclear Negotiations

Russian Foreign Minister has expressed optimism about the chances for a significant breakthrough in the negotiations between Tehran and Western countries over Iran’s nuclear programme.

At the 8th East Asia Summit in Brunei, Sergei Lavrov said “I agree with my colleagues that we have good prospects to step up work on the Iranian nuclear program…We’ll actively participate in these efforts.”

“Clear-Cut” and “Win-Win” Solution to Nuclear Negotiations Possible

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani declared yesterday that Tehran and the P5+1 powers can reach a “clear-cut solution.” He added, “there is no reason to be pessimistic about this round of negotiations” in Geneva.

Larijani’s deputy, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, suggested that a “win-win” solution is possible, although it depends on the approach taken by Washington.

“If America is after a win-win policy it can work with us, but if it pursued a win-lose (game) it should realize that we will not bow down,” Bahonar said.

Meanwhile, Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, a member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, cautioned that Tehran considers the “right to peaceful nuclear technology and uranium enrichment up to whatever level required by the country’s nuclear industry are regarded as our redlines.”

FM Zarif: New York Visit “A Great Victory”

Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on Wednesday that President Rouhani’s visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly meeting was a “great victory” for Tehran.

The Foreign Minister said “My position is quite clear and I consider the New York visit a great victory for the system and I will not allow the successes of the visit of the Iranian delegation to be undermined.”

IRGC Celebrate Technological Advances

IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh has claimed that Iran has advanced as much as 35 years in its drone technology by reverse engineering an American drone captured in late 2011.

Hajizadeh also said on Wednesday that Tehran now has the technology to build intercontinental missiles.

He declared “Today we have the technology to manufacture such missiles… but since enemies are near to us there is no need for such high costs.”

Sistan-Baluchestan Sunni Insurgent Group Claims New Attack

Sistan-Baluchestan Sunni insurgent group Harakat Ansar Iran has claimed to have carried out a new attack against Iranian security forces in the predominantly-Sunni province. The group claims its fighters ambushed Iranian security forces and that it has captured the attack on video.

Zarif: “No Speculations Please” About Iran Proposals for Nuclear Talks

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has asked for patience over Iran’s proposals for next week’s nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers:

MP Boroujerdi: “Fordow Nuclear Facility Will Never Close”

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, rejected claims about the possibility of Iran suspending activities at the Fordow nuclear facility.

Boroujerdi declared “Fordow will be never closed. It continues to operate, and we in the Majlis will not let such a thing happen.”

Political Prisoner, Imprisoned in May 2008, Returns to Canada

Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, who was arrested five and a half years ago, finally returned to his home in Canada yesterday.

Ghassemi-Shall was arrested and charged with espionage by security forces when he visited Iran in May 2008. He was released from Evin Prison on 23 September, having been kept on death row for much of his incarceration.

Canada’s Consular Affairs Minister Lynne Yelich welcomed his return, stating Ottawa had “worked tirelessly with partners and allies for his release” but pointed out that “untold numbers of political prisoners” are still in Iran.

MP Bahonar: Inflation Could Hit 48%

Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, first deputy speaker of the majlis and secretary general of the conservative Islamic Society of Engineers party, has suggested that inflation will rise to 48%.

At the beginning of October, Iran’s Central Bank announced that the annual inflation rate had fallen for the first time in months to 36% for August-September, although it admitted that the inflation rate for many essential items — including food and drink, water, fuel, utilities, health care and transportation — was above 40%.

Bahonar also claimed that the government has a monthly deficit of 600k Toman to pay subsidy refunds.

Dozens of “Homosexuals and Satanists” Arrested in Kermanshah

The Kermanshah public relations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps reported yesterday that “Tens of homosexuals and Satanist worshipers” were arrested by IRGC security forces in the province.

Among those arrested were people from other countries in the region, including Iraq, according to the IRGC. The report makes the disturbingly homophobic claim that enemies of Tehran send homosexual and Satanist groups to Iran to spread such behaviour, presumably to subvert the regime’s preferred heteronormative Islamic culture.

(Hat tip: IranTracker)