LATEST: Editor of Leading Reformist Paper Arrested


SUMMARY: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged the West not to pass up the opportunity for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Speaking at the Pugwash disarmament conference in Turkey, Zarif said Tehran will “do everything in our negotiations with the P5+1 [5+1 Powers] to ensure that even the perception that Iran has anything but peaceful intentions for its nuclear program will be removed, because we believe that even the perception that Iran pursues a nuclear weapons program is not only wrong, but dangerous”.

The Foreign Minister continued, “The result is [that] 10 years ago Iran had less than 160 centrifuges spinning, now we have over 18,000. Ten years ago Iran’s economy was prospering; now we have sanctions hurting the Iranian people. So I hope we have come to understand that the approach was wrong.”

Zarif’s statement came amid further signs of progress in the negotiations, renewed in mid-October in Geneva. International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said there was “significant change” in Tehran’s position on inspections and supervision, following this week’s talks with the IAEA in Vienna: “There is some substance in the new proposal by Iran.”

And in Washington, leading Senator Carl Levin said Congress should not pass new sanctions against Iran while the Barack Obama administration “tests” the chances for a nuclear agreement.

Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “Whether it is a 10%, 40% or 60% chance [for agreement], it should be tested and probed. We should not at this time impose additional sanctions.”

Some Senators announced this week they would press for measures to limit Iran’s oil exports to 500,000 barrels per day — the lowest figure in the Islamic Republic’s history — despite Administration calls to refrain from further economic measures while talks were ongoing.

Editor of Leading Reformist Paper Arrested

Iranian authorities have detained the head of the reformist daily newspaper Bahar, Saeed Pourazizi, for publication of an article that critics said undermined the beliefs of Shia Islam in the Islamic Republic.

Pourazazi was summoned to the prosecutor’s office, arrested, and transferred to Evin Prison,” according to his wife. She had not been told of the amount of his bail.

Bahar’s “crime” was an article which asserted that Ali, the first Shia Imam, was a religious examplar rather than a political icon. Critics said the piece undermined the principle of velayat-e faqih, in which a cleric leads Iran.

See Iran Spotlight: Regime Bans Newspaper & Warns Rouhani — “Beliefs Are Our Red Line”

The editorial board removed the article and apologized, saying it was an “unintentional mistake”. However, the Press Supervisory Board suspended the paper for two weeks and referred the case to other officials.

President Rouhani, had criticized censorship in his campaign, has not commented. However, Culture Minister Ali Janati said the article “foments religious conflicts” and that the daily had received earlier warnings.

The head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, warned Wednesday that he would “act with determination against those who falsify the history and try to undermine the fundamentals of the regime”.