LATEST: Leading Clerics and Politicians Call for Rouhani to Free Mousavi and Karroubi

Amid continuing nuclear talks, President Rouhani has put out conciliatory words over Iran’s relations with Washington.

Rouhani told China’s CCTV, “If the US, in practice, abandons its hostile policy toward the Iranian nation and compensates for its past, a new situation can be envisaged for the future of both nations.”

The President’s statement is in sharp contrast to the harsh rhetoric of the Supreme Leader, who used a speech on Wednesday to deride the “bullying” of the US.

Saying that the Iranian people bear no ill will towards America, Rouhani called on the US to “take steps in the direction of respecting the rights of the Iranian nation and at the same time undertake to compensate for the losses inflicted on Iran”.

Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia) are in the midst of talks seeking a comprehensive nuclear agreement. The next round is scheduled for June 16 in Vienna.

Courts Orders Instagram Blocked

An Iranian court has ordered a ban on photo-sharing service Instagram allegedly over privacy concerns.

Semi-official news agency, Mehr News, reported that the court ordered Iran’s Ministry of Communications to carry out the ban due to a lawsuit.
The order comes not long after an order to block messaging service WhatsApp. Attempts to censor social media have intensified debate between hardliners and moderates over cultural openness, with the government resisting the ban on WhatsApp.

Leading Clerics and Politicians Call for Rouhani to Free Mousavi and Karroubi

Prominent Iranian figures have put out a message for President Rouhani as the anniversary of his election nears: free detained opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

Mousavi and Karroubi — candidates in the disputed 2009 Presidential election — and Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard have been under strict house arrest since February 2011.

Ayatollah Dastgheib wrote Rouhani, “Don’t forget your promises. Know that the real key to your victory is in hands of Mir Hussain Mousavi and know that the salvation of the people is achieved by lifting the house arrests.”

Dastgheib indirectly criticised the Supreme Leader for continuing the detentions.

Hojetoleslam Montajebnia, the deputy leader of Karroubi’s National Trust Party, said, “In our view, Karroubi is still the head of the party and everyone should do their parts for ending the house arrests. Maybe the best option is to hold a public trial for Mousavi and Karroubi and let them defend themselves.”

Mohammad Ali Najafi, the head of the Cultural, Heritage, and Tourism Organization from last August to January, offered the assurance that Rouhani has not forgotten people’s main demand — the removal of the house arrests — and that “Rouhani is doing everything to achieve this, as this is a win-win situation for everyone”.

Hardliners have warned Rouhani not to release Mousavi and Karroubi, saying they are leaders of “sedition”.

See Leading Conservative: Opposition Leaders Mousavi & Karroubi Should Remain in Detention

2 Political Prisoners Released After Completing 5-Year Sentences

Political activists Behzad Nabavi and Abdullah Ramezanzadeh were freed on Thursday after completing 5-year sentences in solitary confinement.

Nabavi is one of the founders of the reformist Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization. One of his “crimes” was disruption of Tehran traffic.

At his trial, Nabavi declared, “I will never betray (Mir Hossein) Mousavi”, the 2009 Presidential candidate who has been detained for 39 months.

Ramezanzadeh was the spokesman for the Government of President Mohammad Khatami.

Supreme Leader Pardons 72 Military Prisoners

The Supreme Leader has pardoned or reduced the sentences of seventy-two prison inmates who were convicted by military courts.

Ayatollah Khamenei allowed the amnesty in response to a clemency request by Iran’s Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani. As is custom, the amnesty comes on a significant day in the Iranian calendar: the anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr, which took place in 1982 during the Iran-Iraq war.

Due to the traditional nature of the move, it is unlikely to be mirrored by a similar pardoning of political prisoners by the Supreme Leader.

Russia to Build Eight Nuclear Reactors?

Plans are in place for Russia to sign an agreement with Iran, allowing for the construction of up to eight nuclear reactors in the Islamic Republic, according to reports by Reuters and Russian news agency, RIA.

An unidentified source told journalists on Thursday that Russia and Iran were in the final stages of reaching an intergovernmental agreement.

The source added that the construction of the first two reactors could be added to the Bushehr Power Plant, and a further six built at alternative sites throughout Iran.

The timing of the claim, which has been reported by Iranian state media, coincides with the conclusion of the most recent talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations.

Although Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, have not yet commented on these plans, earlier this week Russian President, Vladimir Putin, praised Iran as a “long-standing partner.” Putin also welcomed the developing cooperation between the Islamic Republic and Moscow.

The Bushehr plant, which Iran took over from Russia in September 2013 and the country’s only operating nuclear reactor, now produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

Kuwait Emir to Visit Tehran

Kuwaiti monarch Sheikh Sabah is planning to visit Tehran on June 1st at the invitation of President Rouhani. According to Kuwait’s foreign minister undersecretary, Khaled al-Jarallah, the visit is to help “strengthen security and stability in the region.”

The move is part of Rouhani’s efforts to improve relations with other Gulf states.

Speaking to German television, Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah is said to have commented positively on Rouhani’s foreign policy and regards the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers as important to the timing of the visit.

According to Press TV, Kuwait’s ruling emir will meet senior Iranian officials and discuss cooperation between the two countries. The visit will be his first since 2006.

Leading Conservative: Opposition Leaders Mousavi & Karroubi Should Remain in Detention

The leader of the key conservative party Motalefeh, Mohammad Nabi Habibi, has countered calls for the release of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi from a 39-month house arrest.

Nabi Habibi said, “These extremist individuals aren’t accepted by any political factions, and if they have completely changed their views, I agree that they should receive a trial, but the decision (of house arrest) has been made by the state and I agree with that decision.”

MP Ali Motahari has led a campaign for the relaxation of the detentions for Mousavi and Karroubi, both candidates in the disputed Presidential election. In his latest challenge, he declared, ““The Supreme National Security Council does not have the authority to make such arrests except in cases of emergencies, but these people can only be placed on 3 1/2-year house arrest by a court with the proper authority.”

Government Reassures Revolutionary Guards Over Privatization

The Government has reassured the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that its privatization effort will not threaten major economic interests of the IRGC.

The Guards are one of the leading forces in the Iranian economy, with extensive projects in infrastructure, logistics, and engineering as well as part-ownership of many companies.

Senior Presidential advisor Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said, “We do not want the IRGC to compete with the private sector, but the IRGC must do the big works that are outside the private sector’s ability. We will give these projects to the armed forces, especially (the IRGC’s engineering branch) Khatam ol-Anbia Construction Base.”

President Rouhani said last autumn that, while the IRGC should stay out of the political sphere, its economic position was not in danger under the new Government.