Regime Bans News and Photographs of Former President Khatami

Positive signals from Iran’s politicians, diplomats, and clerics have fed speculation that a nuclear deal with US and other powers is imminent.

Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi praised President Rouhani, whom he said “expressed and stated a bright and promising position” over the negotiations, which continue next week.

Seddiqi’s statement follows an optimistic report on Wednesday by Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, about the latest talks in Geneva last weekend.

“A considerable progress was made…and we hope that we could take more positive steps in the next week’s negotiations,” Ravanchi said during an official visit to Denmark.

However, the favorable estimates are tempered by the Iranian demand that US-led sanctions must be lifted within months of a comprehensive deal. President Rouhani said on Wednesday about the issue, “It is the Americans that should try to rectify the wrong steps that they have taken.”

He repeated on Thursday night in the holy city of Qom, “It is now the US that needs to take the required steps to get the nuclear negotiations back to their right path after their previous deviation.”

Both Seddiqi and Ravanchi followed the lead. The cleric assured, “Iran will not accept humiliation, shutdown, and the continuation of sanctions.” He added that Westerners “have no right to interfere in our internal affairs” and “cannot decide” Iran’s rate of oil production.

Ravanchi cautioned that “certain members of the P5+1 group [US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia] have resorted to unfair sanctions to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic”.

Journalists covering the nuclear issue are speculating that, despite declarations of “big gaps” remaining, Iran and the US have closed their differences over Tehran’s centrifuges for uranium enrichment and the duration of an agreement. However, there has been no sign of compromise over the sanctions relief: Iran wants removal of restrictions on oil and banking sectors within six months, but US officials have spoken of years for the process.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had indicated that he and US Secretary of State might resume talks on Monday. EU spokeswoman Catherine Ray said yesterday that discussions between teams from Iran and the 5+1 Powers will resume on Thursday in Montreux, Switzerland, preceded by bilateral meetings.

Zarif said on Saturday, after meeting Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, that “scaremongering” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not stop Iran and the 5+1 from reaching a final nuclear deal.

Netanyahu will address the US Congress on Tuesday.

Websites Blocked for Reporting on Former President Khatami

This entry has been moved to a separate Feature, Iran Feature: Regime Bans News and Photographs of Former President Khatami.

Lawyer Haeri Released on Bail After 9-Month Detention

Lawyer Negar Haeri has been released on bail of about $580,000 after nine months in prison.

Haeri was seized in May 2014 for a “temporary detention” on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “publishing falsehoods through interviews with foreign media”.

The lawyer has given interviews to the website Rooz Online and the Voice of America’s Persian service about the health conditions of her imprisoned father, and his need for medical attention.

Haeri was arrested on two previous occasions on allegations that she supported the armed insurgency of the Mujahedin-e Khalq.