- Head of Teachers Union Imprisoned for 5 Years
- Lawyer: Journalist Rezaian Being Charged with Espionage, Propaganda, and “Contact with Hostile Governments”
- Tehran, Despite Military Rhetoric, Offers IAEA 1-Time Access to Parchin Site
- Zarif in New York Times: Moving Beyond Nuclear Talks to Regional Cooperation
- Reports: Russia Says US Fact Sheet on Nuclear Framework “Correct”
The Supreme Leader used Iran’s Army Day on Sunday to unleash an attack on the US over nuclear talks and regional conflicts, especially in Yemen.
Ayatollah Khamenei did not speak about the details of the talks, which resume in Vienna on Wednesday, but chided Washington for statements last week about US military options:
After some time that the opposite side kept silent, one of their officials has recently spoken of “over-the-table-options” again. o
On one hand, they bluff like this, and on the other hand, they say that the Islamic Republic of Iran should stop its defensive progress, which is a silly statement….
The Iranian nation has proved that if it comes under aggression, it defends itself fully powerfully and will stand against the irrational invaders in an integrated form and like an iron fist.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in a press conference on Thursday, “[We must] make sure that we have, as the president says, other options on the table. And that’s something we take very seriously here and we do have other options on the table.”
Khamenei insisted that America had “faked a myth” about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons to claim that Iran is a menace, while “the threat is the US which commits unrestrained destabilizing interventions”.
The political deputies of Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China) gather on Wednesday to discuss development of a framework agreement, reached on April 2, for a comprehensive nuclear deal by June 30.
The Supreme Leader spent much of his address to Iranian commanders on regional tensions, denouncing Washington and its “chained dog” Israel:
Today, the most vital threat posed to the world and the region is the US and the Zionist regime which meddle (with other nations’ affairs) and kill people anywhere they deem to be necessary without any control or commitment to conscience or religious principles.
He cited the case of Yemen, where a Saudi-led aerial intervention is trying to check the advance of Ansar Allah (Houthis), the Zaidi Shia group that controls the capital Sanaa:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) April 19, 2015
Tehran has escalated its rhetoric over the Yemeni crisis since the Saudi intervention, declaring Riyadh’s conspiracy with Washington, Israel, and even the Islamic State against Ansar Allah.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) April 19, 2015
Head of Teachers Union Imprisoned for 5 Years
The secretary-general of Iran’s Teachers Organization, Alireza Hashemi, has been imprisoned to serve a five-year sentence.
Hashemi was sentenced to prison in 2010 for “pursuing union demands”, “meeting with relatives of jailed teachers”, and “acting against national security”, according to his deputy.
The detention in Evin Prison comes as thousands of teachers have been protesting for better pay and working conditions in a series of demonstrations in Tehran and other Iranian cities.
The union called on the Rouhani Government to listen to teachers calling for greater rights and to prevent the creation of a “security atmosphere”.
A number of other members of the union are in prison after calling for more rights.
Lawyer: Journalist Rezaian Being Charged with Espionage, Propaganda, and “Contact with Hostile Governments”
The Washington Post’s correspondent in Tehran, Jason Rezaian, will be charged with espionage, “collaborating with hostile governments”, and “propaganda against the establishment”, his court-appointed lawyer said on Monday.
Leila Ahsan issued a statement after she was allowed a brief meeting — the first that has been permitted — with Rezaian, detained since late July. She said an indictment alleges that Rezaian gathered classified information “about internal and foreign policy” and provided it to “individuals with hostile intent”.
Rezaian’s contact with a “hostile government” includes a letter he wrote to President Obama, according to the indictment.
Iranian authorities have not yet confirmed the charges. They have refused to allow the journalist’s family to appoint a lawyer and limited his contacts and access to information.
Tehran, Despite Military Rhetoric, Offers IAEA 1-Time Access to Parchin Site
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization says it has offered the International Atomic Energy Agency one-time access to the Parchin military site to resolve questions about the Iranian nuclear program.
Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said the inspection would allowed to meet the IAEA’s request for information about neutron transport and associated modeling.
Kamalvandi said, “Mr. Rouhani, the Iranian president, in a meeting with IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano has stressed that the IAEA will be allowed to pay an exclusively one-time visit to Parchin. Of course, this will happen provided that no new allegations, ambiguities and questions will be raised in this very regard again.”
The IAEA says Iran has failed meet two of seven areas in an agreed February 2014 guideline: neutron transport and information on high-explosive experiments.
Western powers, including the US, have long called for access to Parchin. They claim high-explosive containers were placed in the site for testing which could be related to development of a nuclear weapons.
The 5+1 Powers are reportedly not pressing the issue of Possible Military Dimensions in their nuclear talks with Iran, but Iranian officials have been using the question of access to military facilities to strike a tough pose, including in recent weeks after agreement on a nuclear framework.
The deputy head of Iran’s armed forces, General Massoud Jazayeri repeated on Monday:
Visiting Iran’s military centers is the US and the western states’ dream, but the military sites are in the realm of security for every state and nation, and no one is allowed to visit such places in Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s positions are clear in this regard and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei) has also specified the red-lines. Therefore, both the Americans and other western states should know that this will never happen.
Zarif in New York Times: Moving Beyond Nuclear Talks to Regional Cooperation
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has written an opinion piece in The New York Times to put out a message, like the Supreme Leader’s, which links the nuclear talks and regional issues — but, unlike Ayatollah Khamenei, he is emphasizing cooperation rather than conflict:
The purview of our constructive engagement extends far beyond nuclear negotiations. Good relations with Iran’s neighbors are our top priority. Our rationale is that the nuclear issue has been a symptom, not a cause, of mistrust and conflict. Considering recent advances in symptom prevention, it is time for Iran and other stakeholders to begin to address the causes of tension in the wider Persian Gulf region.
Reports: Russia Says US Fact Sheet on Nuclear Framework “Correct”
Reports are circulating that Russia has supported the version in the US “fact sheet” of the nuclear framework agreed on April 2.
Deputy Foreign Sergei Ryabkov offered the endorsement this morning.
— Arash Azizi (@arash_tehran) April 20, 2015
— Sadegh Ghorbani (@GhorbaniSadegh) April 20, 2015
Iranian officials have challenged — to the point of saying the fact sheet has “lies” — the US version of the framework which is to lead to a comprehensive nuclear deal by June 30. In particular, they have denied the American portrayal of the timing of sanctions removal, with the lifting or suspension linked to International Atomic Energy Agency verification of Iranian compliance with the deal — a process which could take months, rather than the “immediate” end to sanctions sought by Tehran.