MP: US & Israel Behind “Terrorist” Assassination of Attorney General
A Caution But Also General Support in Tehran for Rouhani Government over Nuclear Talks

LATEST: Iranian officials, who have already said they are ready to sign the deal “on the table”, are now telling media outlets that they expect no agreement on Saturday.

However, the officials say that high-level talks will re-convene in 7 to 10 days. That short time-lag could prevent opposition from an agreement, led by the French today, from building up — both in Iran and the US.

In a sign that there will be no deal on Saturday, China has not sent its Foreign Minister — in contrast to the rest of the 5+1 Powers and Iran. Instead, Beijing has despatched the Deputy Foreign Minister.

But that does not mean that Tehran has gone cold on a settlement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has used the BBC to send a message to Washington:

President Rouhani has chipped in with a reference to his September message in The Washington Post to the American people, “Why Iran Seeks Constructive Engagement“:

Rouhani adds for emphasis:

And, in an endorsement from the highest level, the Supreme Leader’s office has used Twitter and Facebook to declare:

Want to stay alive? To be honored? To soar in science and achievement? To have a proud posterity? To have a shining tomorrow?

Persevere, be active, relentless, and diligent, and pursue your own goals; such a nation will have a bright future.

Fortunately, our nation has begun and followed this path to this day, but continuity is necessary for this path.

A lighter moment in the talks today between Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the European Union’s Catherine Ashton:

AFTERNOON SUMMARY: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said, “We are working on text (of an agreement). There still differences in P5+1. Iran’s concerns need to be addressed. We keep working.”

Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the European Union’s Catherine Ashton met for two hours today, following preliminary consultations between Ashton, Kerry, Zarif, and representatives of the other 5+1 Powers.

Zarif is reportedly now meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Both French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague are advising caution, with Fabius taking a particularly tough line that the 5+1 cannot accept a “sucker’s deal”.

Fabius said to French radio, “As I speak to you, I cannot say there is any certainty that we can conclude.”

Hague told journalists there was “very good progress” but important issues remained unresolved and he did not know whether a deal could be reached on Saturday.

Unnamed “Western diplomats” appear to be frustrated with France’s position:

Fabius indicated that the major points of division are over the procedure to establish Iran’s level of uranium enrichment and the construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Iran is being asked to blend down “a great part of [its uranium] stock at 20 percent, to 5 percent”, Fabius said. He suggested that the 5+1 Powers were looking for an Iranian commitment to give up future enrichment of 20% uranium.

Tehran has suggested that it might suspend 20% enrichment and convert its existing stock to fuel plates, which cannot be developed further for military use.

Fabius said suspension of work on Arak, due to open in late 2014, is “absolutely necessary”, but Iran was resisting this.

Western critics have claimed that plutonium, a natural by-product of a heavy-water reactor, could be used in a militarised nuclear program.

OPENING SUMMARY: The most significant day of negotiations in 34 years between the US, Iran, and other powers culminated in a 5 1/2-hour meeting between American Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the European Union’s Catherine Ashton on Friday night.

The sudden decision of Kerry and European Foreign Ministers to go to Geneva, elevating the level of the discussions, pointed to the possibility of an initial deal over Iran’s level of uranium enrichment and an easing of US-led sanctions on Tehran.

However, the details remain to be established, so the talks were extended to a third day after Kerry, Zarif, and Ashton spent several hours in discussion.

The general line of confidentiality was held; however, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said before last night’s marathon session:

We are reaching a very critical important point. The negotiations have reached its critical, very sensitive situation, and it needs decisions at higher levels.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected in Geneva today, and there are reports that his Chinese counterpart will also arrive. If so, all six Foreign Ministers of the 5+1 Powers will be present for what may be the declaration of a general agreement.

MP: US & Israel Behind “Terrorist” Assassination of Attorney General

Mansour Haghighatpour, the Deputy Chairman of Parliament’s National Security Commission, has lashed out at the US and Israel over this week’s assassination of the Attorney General in Zabol in Sistan Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran.

The Sunni insurgency Jaish ul-Adl, in an escalating battle with Iranian forces, killed Mousa Nouri Ghalenou.

The assassination was in retaliation for the execution of 16 insurgents in late October. Those executions were punishment for a Jaish ul-Adl attack on 25 October that killed 14 border guards, including at least three Revolutionary Guards.

Haghighatpour said:

The assassination of Zabol’s attorney general is demonic, and America and Israel are certainly behind the scenes of it.

We know that America and Israel are certainly behind this diabolical [act].

An EA correspondent notes that Iranian officials, refusing to accept local causes for the insurgency, commonly accuse Washington and the Israelis of instigating violence.

A Caution But Also General Support in Tehran for Rouhani Government over Nuclear Talks

There was a flutter yesterday with a report that the Tehran Friday Prayer leader, Hojetoleslam Ali Mohavedi Kermani, had been less than enthusiastic about the nuclear talks:

It’s harmful to underestimate the enemy because they do nothing other than playing tricks. Our enemy would not rest even for a moment. If we underestimate the enemy we will definitely get hurt.

The US secretary of state has pledged [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that he will not do a bad deal with Iran; it means that they will not agree to an agreement that is harmful for them, which means they will not make a good deal with Iran.

I don’t think the talks will bear fruit. They are not going to stop their enmity with us.

However, most within the regime maintained their support for the Rouhani Government and its delegation in Geneva, with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Parliament’s National Security Commission, summarising the mood:

The significant results of the first round of negotiations between the P5+1 [5+1 Powers], the positive [results] of the second round, and the primary agreements are a sign that the context exists for beginning some type of agreement based on the nation’s interests and a process of decreasing sanctions….

Given the disturbed position of the Western economy and its damage before sanctions on Iran, as well as the ineffectiveness of sanctions on our nuclear activities, it seems that the conditions have been created for them to reach the conclusion that an agreement is more beneficial than confrontational policies towards Iran….

Netanyahu’s desperate efforts against Iran will not end up anywhere.

And last night the Iranian team received the highest endorsement as the Supreme Leader’s office tweeted, “Nuclear negotiators are children of the Revolution.”