Majlis Speaker sends condolence message to North Korean government, nation over “the tragic news” – Ali Larijani, in a message to his North Korean counterpart, expressed condolences over the death of Comerade Kim Jong Il. The message reads: “I have received with great sorrow the tragic news of the demise of His Excellency Kim Jon Il, the supreme Leader of the brotherly Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
Minister of Defense: “We must spread the values of Islam and pure Islamic culture around the world” – Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi stated that the leaders’ most important role today is maintaining “pure Islam” and added that if Islam is weakened, there will be no need for leaders and heads of state. Therefore, everyone is obliged to be careful and remain alert. He contended that cultural activity is the main underpinning of Iran’s activity and added, “If we want to establish Islamic culture and distinguish ourselves from the West, we must spread Islam around the world, together with the pure Islamic culture.” He further noted that there have been attempts to resolve the tension with the US and establish ties, but relations with the US would contradict pure Islam.
Basij Commander: Days of capitalism are numbered, and a new world order relying on Islam as its foundation is now emerging – Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi said while referring to the popular uprisings in the Islamic Middle East, North Africa, parts of Europe and the US against their tyrant leaders that capitalism is on the verge of collapse. Recent developments in the world prove that tyrannical systems have no room in the hearts of people. Islam and its lofty teachings would be a good option in the absence of capitalism.
Iran remains unequivocally on the side of Syria, but stresses the need for reform; Secretary of the Expediency Council: “Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas are a red line for Iran” – In a live interview with Hezbollah’s Al Manar network, Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, said that Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas are a red line for Iran. Furthermore, “No problem could possibly be created for them. They are the frontline of the Islamic world against Israel.” He related to US accusations that Iran intended to assassinate the Saudi ambassador and said that the US and Zionist regime are currently facing dead-ends created by both the Islamic Awakening and internal events, and they will do anything to escape. Therefore, they contrived a new plot against Iran, in order to save themselves and create tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia. He advised the Saudi government not to fall into the trap, which might have unforeseen results. “The best thing would be for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to join forces to find solutions for issues facing the Islamic world.” In response to a question about possible US or Zionist military action against Iran, Rezaei answered that any action taken against the national security of Iran would be met with a serious, decisive response. Our response to the US and Zionists will be severe, and they know very well what we will do to them.
Ambassador to Lebanon: 4 missing Iranian diplomats, alive “and might be in Israeli prison” – Ghazanfar Roknabadi said special investigations indicate that the four Iranian diplomats kidnapped in Lebanon are alive. He said the four diplomats who were kidnapped in Lebanon by the armed men “under the command of the Zionist regime” in 1982 might be in Israeli prisons. According to the ambassador, special investigations carried out simultaneously with international political measures to follow up the destiny of the kidnapped diplomats indicate that the diplomats might be still alive. Noting that Iran has many times urged international bodies to determine the fate of the four Iranian diplomats, he stressed that there is a probability that they are in “Zionist regime jails.” The ambassador further pointed out that though Lebanon’s letter on the kidnapped Iranian diplomats has been registered as a United Nations document, both in the Security Council and the General Assembly, there is still no precise information on their fate.
Canada opposes a new Iranian consulate on its soil – The government of Canada announced its opposition to the establishment of a new Iranian consulate on its soil. Ottawa is downgrading its diplomatic and political ties with Iran under a “Controlled Engagement” policy, and prohibits Iran from opening consulates outside Ottawa. Furthermore, it does not allow direct flights from Iran at Canadian airports.
Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA: European people have the right to know reality of Iran’s nuclear activities – Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh said in a speech in the European Parliament that the European peoples have been deceived with politically motivated, incomplete, select information which is given to them. “Iran has predominance over the enrichment technology and has worked under the IAEA inspectors from the beginning to date; there has been no report on Iran’s deviation from civilian activities towards military purposes.” Soltaniyeh underlined that sanctions, resolutions, assassination of nuclear scientists and nothing else can deprive Iran from its nuclear right, and therefore, the West, in its approach toward Iran should replace confrontation with interaction. “Iran has been always ready for talks based on mutual respect, but using expressions such as ‘stick and carrot’ in dealing with the Iranians who have such an ancient civilization is not acceptable.” Soltanyieh stressed that the Western countries were not true to their previous agreements with Tehran on several occasions, including delivering fuel required for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), completing construction of Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) as well as the Darkhovein Nuclear Power plant after Iran’s 1979′s revolution. “Since the West does not have a positive record in Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran prefers to ensure the needs of its nuclear program by enriching the fuel required for its peaceful nuclear activities.”
Iranian state run TV aired a documentary about Stuxnet virus and cyber war – Last week Iranian TV aired a program on malware and cyber war. The program showed a number of Iranian and international experts in cyber security explaining computer viruses and worms. The narrator said that that the Stuxnet virus was designed to affect Iranian nuclear sites. One expert said that a large investment was made to create Stuxnet, adding that the design of the Stuxnet had been supported by a government, “probably been designed by the US or Israel” due to its complexity and “that probably Siemens had also contributed to the design of the program by providing information to its designers.” The announcer indicated that Iran identified the virus before it could cause serious harm to its nuclear facilities. One expert said that cyber war would allow countries to achieve certain goals without having to engage in direct military intervention. An Iranian expert said that cyber security was constantly improving, and those trying to infiltrate systems were also working on more advanced methods. Another expert said that the threat of Stuxnet made Iranians more alert to cyber dangers.
Chief of Staff of Supreme Leaders’ Intelligence Office: the army has “excellent information technology” and is well-disciplined – Chief of Staff of Supreme Leaders’ Intelligence Office, General Seyed Hessam Hashemi, pointed to the U.S. announcement that it would continue surveillance operations over Iran, “If so, we will do the same thing to their other planes we did to their (RQ-170 Sentinel) drone […] The IRGC and the army enjoy good intelligence power on land and in the air.” Hashemi spoke at a conference to honor top researchers of the Command and General Staff College and said, “Iran’s armed forces have excellent information technology, and one of the privileges of our army is discipline and obedience to orders […] We will not have previous regular wars like the imposed (Iran-Iraq) war, we will face completely different kind of wars.”
More threats to close Strait of Hormuz –
Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee: “Closing the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf is only one of the possible ways through which Iran can demonstrate its power to the enemies in case of a foreign invasion and defending the country’s territory.” Gholamreza Karami further said, “If the hostility of Iran’s enemies is put into action, we will certainly use any kind of defense.”
Majlis Member stresses Iran’s legal right to resort to proper defensive measures against foreign threats, including the closure of the strategic Strait of Hormuz – Mohammad Taqi Rahbar said, “The closure of the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran’s agenda (at present), but if threats against Iran come to trample upon the rights of our nation, while others use the Strait to exporting their oil, then Iran will be entitled to the right to close the Strait of Hormuz […] The international conventions reserve such rights for Iran as well.” However, Rahbar said, that “For the time being, Iran has not decided to close the strait, but this (closing the strait) depends on the conditions of the region.”
Director of Iran Oil Kish Tatneft Co.: Iran oil deal not directly signed with Russian Tatneft – Sadeq Ali Naseri, Managing Director of Iran Oil Kish Tatneft Co., said that the contract signed (please refer to IDB December 19) on the development of the Zagheh heavy oil field was between National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the Iran Oil Kish Tatneft Co. He added, Russian Tatneft is also a shareholder in Iran Oil Kish Tatneft Co. Tatneft published the following clarification on its website: “With respect to with certain reports in the media about Tatneft signing a contract with respect to certain oil fields in Iran, the press-service of JSC Tatneft would like to state that Tatneft Group has not entered into any agreements, contracts and has not not accepted any other undertakings relating to oil and gas projects in Iran.” Read on
Iran drops Polish company from gas development project – The Iranian National Oil Company (INOC) dropped the Polish Company PGNIG from the project for developing the Lavan gas field, because the Polish company has repeatedly delayed performance of its commitments under the terms of the contract signed approximately four years ago. There are reports that INOC will soon sign a contract worth USD 1.9 billion with a consortium of Iranian companies for development of the field.
Within the framework of the sanctions, Iran encourages foreign investment –
Support for foreign investors in cooperative ventures – CEO of the Cooperative Development Bank announced the allocation of USD 500 million in credit for 50 cooperative ventures of various types and stressed that foreign investors in these initiatives will be welcomed warmly. He added that the bank will give preferential treatment to investors participating in these projects.
National Development Fund allocates 20% of its resources to foreign investors – Chairman of the Board of the National Development Fund, Rahim Ghorbani, spoke about the preferential treatment offered to foreign investors and said that 20% of the fund’s resources are allocated for foreign investors, in accordance with a resolution passed by its Board of Directors. The fund’s assets are currently USD 27 billion.
Subsidiary of Iran Khodro closes and thousands lose their jobs – The Acting President of Iran Khodro Automobile Company announced that the company is closing its plants in Tabriz and laying off 16,500 workers there. Despite all efforts and the instruction of the Vice President, the Iranian Highway Police has not recanted its decision to halt the assembly of commercial vehicles, which the company did in Tabriz. He also stressed that the extreme conditions imposed by the sanctions and the current situation in which Iran finds itself, it is unlikely that a replacement for the company’s vehicles will be found in the near future. He noted that the company in Tabriz was founded with the cooperation of the private sector, and despite the government’s slogans about cooperation and recruiting private investment for manufacturing and development, closure of the plant is likely to weaken the position of private investors.
Office of Ayatollah Sanei’s representative in Gorgan sealed – On Monday, Internal Security Forces sealed the office of Hojjatolislam Seyed Rezi Ghods Alavi, who represents Ayatollah Sanei, a supporter of the reformist camp, in the northern provinces of Iran. The order to seal the office was issued by the Special Court for Clergy. Recently, Alavi was suspended from teaching, although he is one of the most senior lecturers at the religious college in Qom.
Political activist arrested – Amir Hossein Hajbian, a member of the youth division of the Combined Front was arrest last Sunday. There is no information about the reason for his arrest or his condition. Among other activities, he worked for a reformist newspaper. Hajbian married not long ago.
Political prisoner transferred to solitary confinement – Ramezan Saeidi, a political prisoner being held in Rajaï Shahr Prison, was placed in solitary confinement at the order of prison officials. The reason for the transfer is not known. Saeidi was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of cooperation with Kurdish opposition parties, and is now serving the sixth year of his term.
Student activists sentenced – Farzad Eslami, a law student from the Open University in Teheran and former secretary of the University’s Muslim Student Fund, has been sentenced to the three years in prison. He was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence during the post-election events and accused of propaganda against the regime and insulting the Supreme Leader. Esmaeil Salmanpour, a former member of the Student Association at Amir Kabir University was sentenced to the one year in prison.
Another execution – A condemned prisoner was executed at the central prison in Ilam.
Religious and moral law must be followed on domestic and foreign tours – The Director of the Tehran Province Tourism Administration announced that instructions have been sent to all travel agencies in Tehran province, emphasizing the duty to maintain religious law and morality on all tours, both in Iran and abroad. Western music is not to be played during group tours, and movies are forbidden. All travelers must comply with the Islamic dress code and tourist buses must stop in order to permit prayers. The operations of travel agencies that do not comply with the regulations will be suspended.
Main census results – Head of the Statistical Center of Iran announced the final results of the recent census conducted in Iran. The country’s population is 74,951,702, an increase of 1.3%. 51% of the population are men and 49% women, with 71% living in cities, up by 3% in the last five years. The average number of people in an Iranian family is 3.6, as opposed to 4.4 in the previous census.