Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Iran Missile Program: US-Russian Assessments

On 24 February 2010, the Russian Defense Ministry officials made a presentation to a high-level US delegation on Iran’s missile program. Russia’s narrative and the pursuing US discussions and assessments are summarized in a cable between the Secretary of State and the US Embassy in Moscow. The cable is one of the many published by WikiLeaks. The following are the document’s highlights. We invite comments from our readers.

- Iran’s leaders view acquiring a missile capability as a deterrent to external threats. They also consistently exaggerate Iran’s achievement in missile production.

- The core of the Iranian missile program has been the evolutionary development of liquid-fueled missiles based on Soviet Scud technology. With assistance from North Korea, Iran has acquired production capabilities for Scud B and the Scud C. The latter, called Shahab-2 by the Iranians, has a range of 550 km with a 700 kg payroll.

- Iran has also developed and commissioned a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) called the Shahab-3. Based on North Korean No Dong-1 and using Scud-based technologies. The Shahab-3 has a range of 1,500 km with a 700 kg payroll.

- An improved version of Shahab-3, called Shahab-3M, has a confirmed range of 1,600-1,700 km (claimed as 2,000 km by Iran). The improvement was achieved by reducing the re-entry vehicle weight to 250 kg and an improved engine.

- By developing Shahab-3M, Iran has nearly exhausted the potential to increase the range of the Shahab-3, or any further improvements to Scud-based missile technology.

- Iran has been developing solid propellant MRBMs/IRBMs since 2000, including a two-stage intermediate (2000 km) solid propellant missile. Russia believes that despite Iran’s claim of a successful 16 December 2009 test of this missile, the test was only successful for a prototype, which allowed Iran to practice the first stage operation and stage separation. Russia believes the missile could not be deployed for 5-6 years. [Uskowi on Iran: Iran has named this missile Sejil-2].

- Iran has also launched Safir-2 space launch vehicle (SLV) in 2009, putting Omid (26 kg) satellite into orbit. Russia believes due to low throw weight of the system, it is unviable to develop combat/offensive long-range missile based on SLV technology.

- Despite the successful launch of a 26-kg satellite into orbit and launching of a solid propellant MRBM, Russia believes Iran’s success in its missile program boils down to creating Shahab-3-class liquid propellant missiles with an accuracy of several kilometers that can reach targets in the Middle East and Southeastern Europe. But with their conventional warheads, these missiles cannot do substantial damage. Russia believes Iran could develop 3,000-5,000 km range missiles no sooner than 2015. However, Russia believes Iran would not develop such capability, and its missile program will continue to be based on regional targets.

After the Russian presentation, which included a review of North Korean missile program, the US delegation offered the following discussion:

- US and Russia have similar assessments of short-range Iranian missiles. On medium-range missiles, both sides agree there is the original No Dong and a modified No Dong with longer range, although US and Russia have different ideas on how Iran’s modifications achieved longer range. And both sides seem to agree that Iran is developing a two-stage solid propellant missile. Beyond that US and Russian assessments seem to diverge.

- The US believes the modified Shahab-3 has 600 kg re-entry vehicle mass at a range of 2,000 km (Russian estimation was for a 250-kg RV mass). Russia responded the 250-kg was at the low-end of Russia’s estimate. But Russia emphasized that the low weight of Shahab-3 warhead makes it pointless as a military weapon. Russia also believes that with a warhead of 600 kg, the missile range is 1,300 km (not 2,000 km as US believes).

- The US said the 2,000 km range for the Shahab-3 is achieved through the use of an aluminum airframe instead of steel, and increased engine thrust. The US assessment of the use of aluminum is related to Iran seeking various aluminum alloys. The UK and France also believe Iran is using aluminum airframe and it has continually attempted to procure aluminum for this purpose. US is seeking to add the types of aluminum sought by Iran to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Annex.

- The US noted that the first stage of the Safir SLV is the Shahab-3. Both sides agreed that a very low weight satellite (the Omid) was all that the Safir could put into orbit. But the US assessed that even orbiting such a small satellite could only be done using an aluminum airframe.

- The US assessed that Shahab-3 could be used as a long-range weapon depending on how the rocket is used. If clustered or stacked, the Shahab-3 could be used as a longer-range system. Using Shahab-3 as only a first stage is not the only option. Russia emphasized that talking about the Shahab-3 as a long-range combat missile is unrealistic. The US agreed it is not realistic for a mobile missile, but it would be realistic in a silo or underground.

- Russia said its bottom line is that Iran lacks appropriate structural materials for long-range systems, such as high quality aluminum. Iran can build prototypes, but will not be able to produce them in mass quantities to be a security threat. The guidance system for Shahab-3 is also outdated and does not allow for precision steering. Russia believe the Shahab-3 precision system at a range of 2,000 km could veer as much as 6-7 km off its target. At 5,000 km, the accuracy could be off by 50-60 km.

- The US assesses the Iranian solid propellant MRBMs, having been tested four times in the past two years, will be ready to be fielded in less than the 5-6 year timeframe Russia envisions. US would not be surprised if a two-stage system with a range of up to 2,000 km were fielded within a year.

- The US said another path to long-range missile development for Iran might be the so-called BM-25 missile that the US believes was sold to Iran by North Korea. Russia questioned the basis for US assumption that BM-25 is an existing system. For Russia, the BM-25 is a mysterious system that has not been tested by North Korea. The US said that North Korea transferred 19 of these missiles to Iran.

- The US believes that is hard for Russia to imagine that Iran would buy an untested system. US said North Korea exported No dong missiles after only one flight test, and it is not unimaginable that it would build and export a system that has not been tested, especially because of its need for hard currency. For Iran, the BM-25s gives it a set it can work on for reverse engineering after recognizing that the BM-25s propulsion technology exceeds the capabilities of that used in the Shahab-3.

- US assesses that photos of the second stage of the Safir show that the steering (vernier) engines of the Safir are the same as on the R-27. The weld lines and tank volumes from the Safir second stage show that the ratio of oxidizer to propellant is not consistent with Scud propellants and more consistent UDMH and N2O4 used in the R-27. US does not have the information of why Iran has not tested the BM-25s. But it appears that they have at least done work with the steering (venier) engines. The US said it would endeavor to provide further information about the existence of the BM-25 at the next round of talks.

Russia concluded the discussions on Iran by assessing that improvement of Iran's liquid propellant missiles is nil. Iran could not put a nuclear device on its existing missiles, it has no ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. A missile threat would develop only if Iran were successful to develop an MRBM with a 3,000 km range and a warhead of one ton. Iran does not have the military-industrial capability to develop such a program. The current export controls also prevent it from gaining access to foreign technology to develop such system.

Click here to read the entire document, including some very informative technical discussions between the two sides on the Iranian program.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nuclear Scientists Killed and Wounded – Iran Accuses Israel and the West

Iran has accused Israel and the West of being behind a pair of bomb attacks that killed one nuclear scientist and wounded another on the streets of Tehran on Monday.

Assailants on motorcycles attached magnetized bombs to the cars of the two nuclear scientists as they were driving in separate parts of the Iranian capital.

Majid Shahriari, the scientist killed in the attacks, was involved in a major project with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said the AEOI director. Mr. Shahriari was a professor of physics at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

The wounded scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, was on the list of 2007 UN sanctions resolution for his work on Iranian nuclear programs. Mr. Abbasi is also a physics professor at Shahid Beheshti University.

"Undoubtedly, the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved in the assassination," the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said after the attacks.

The attackers have not been yet apprehended or identified and Ahmadinejad did not provide any details on their links to Israel and the West.

Ahmadinejad also accused the West of creating problems for the country’s uranium enrichment program.

"They managed to create problems for a limited number of our centrifuges through the software installed on electronic parts. But this (virus) was discovered and the problem was resolved," Ahmadinejad told reporters.

Photos: Shahr.ir/ Donya-e Eqtesad

WikiLeaks Cables on Iran

Please click here for the cable viewer on documents currently released on Iran.

Never before historians had access to so many diplomatic cables so early after their transmission. In the coming days, we will examine the tone and the content of some of the more important documents.

Wikileaks releases planned in advance: Iran‎

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provided his perspective on the Wikileaks docs related to Iran, as reported by PressTV:

Iran's President has questioned the recent leaked documents obtained and published by the Wikileaks website, saying the US administration "released" material intentionally.

In response to a question by Press TV on Monday over the whistleblower website's "leaks," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said "let me first correct you. The material was not leaked, but rather released in an organized way."

"The US administration released them and based on them they pass judgment …. [The documents] have no legal value and will not have the political effect they seek," the Iranian chief executive added at the press briefing in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad stressed that the Wikileaks "game" is "not worth commenting upon and that no one would waste their time reviewing them."

"The countries in the region are like friends and brothers and these acts of mischief will not affect their relations," he added.

It is a curious thing that out of some 251,000 docs, Wikileaks so far has only uploaded 226, with a highly selective and disproportionate dump of those relating to US narratives on Iran.

For their part, the Iranians seem to be taking this cooly. They've agreed to further talks in Geneva, despite the Wiki-releases and a recent attack on a pair of their nuclear scientists. And they haven't so much as intimated any knee-jerk diplomatic repercussions in the region.

Video (Persian):

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Iran Has Purchased Advanced Missiles from N. Korea – WikiLeaks

North Korean advanced BM-25 missiles on display in October. Iran has reportedly bought 19 of these missiles.

The New York Times reports today that the leaked secret US intelligence assessments dated 24 February of this year concluded that Iran has obtained 19 advanced missiles from North Korea capable of hitting targets in Western Europe. The missiles, based on a Russian design, are much more powerful than anything Iran was thought to have in its inventory. The US officials said that the missiles’ advanced propulsion could speed Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The North Korean missiles are based on a Russian design called R-27, once deployed aboard Soviet submarines carrying nuclear warheads. The North Korean version of the missile is known as BM-25, and could also carry nuclear warheads. The 24 February secret document obtained by WikiLeakes indicated US intelligence belief that 19 of these missiles have already been shipped to Iran, and that Iran is working to master the technology in order to build a new generation of missiles.

Previously Iran was thought to have missiles capable of 1,200 miles range. The range of Russian R-27 launched from a submarine was thought to be 1,500 miles. The BM-25 is longer and heavier, giving it a range of up to 2,000 miles.

By obtaining BM-25s, Iran not only has dramatically improved its missile capabilities, but it now has the know-how to design and build a new class of more powerful missile engines, the cable said as reported by The New York Times.

“Iran wanted engines capable of using more-energetic fuels,” the 24 February able said, “and buying a batch of BM-25 missiles gives Iran a set it can work on for reverse engineering.”

At the request of the Obama administration, The New York Times has agreed not to publish the text of the 24 February cable.

Click here to read The New York Times article.

Photo: The New York Times

Saudi King Abdullah urged US to attack Iran

According to US documents made public by the website Wikileaks King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urged the United States to attack Iran and put an end to its nuclear program.

A cable to Washington from the US embassy in Riyadh recorded the king's "frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program".

He is quoted as telling the Americans to "cut off the head of the snake"

He also stated that limiting Iranian influence in Iraq was "a strategic priority for the king and his government".

Hariri at Iran’s Ministry of Defense

The Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (center) and Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi (2nd R) visiting Iran's defense capabilities exhibition inside Iran's defense ministry headquarters in Tehran on Sunday. During the visit, Gen. Vahidi announced Tehran’s readiness to help the Lebanese army [IRIB, 28 November].

Photo: AFP

Iran, Turkmenistan inaugurate second phase of gas pipeline

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov have inaugurated the second phase of a 1.2-billion dollar pipeline transferring Turkmenistan's natural gas into Iran at the northeastern Iranian city of Sarakhs, on the border with Turkmenistan.

The new 48-inch pipeline more than doubles Turkmenistan's annual gas exports to Iran, expected to reach 20 billion cubic meters.

Sarakhs, Sunday 28 November 2010.

Photo: IRNA (replacing an earlier file photo from Press TV)

Hariri in Tehran

The Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Tehran on Saturday for a historic visit by a head of the Lebanese government to the Islamic Republic. The rising political tensions between pro-Western Hariri and pro-Iranian Hezbollah, especially in relations to the international tribunal on the assassination of Hariri's father, the late premier Rafigh Hariri, is the main topic of discussion between Hariri and the Iranian leaders.

The photos show the Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi (left) greeting the Lebanese premier. Tehran. 27 November 2010.

Photos: ISNA and Fars New Agency

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Iran Arrests Hijacker

Iranian air marshals aboard a Syria-bound Iran Air flight arrested a man for attempting to hijack the plane, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting reported today. An unspecified number of Iranian lawmakers were on the plane en route to a parliamentary conference in Damascus [IRIB, 27 November].

Iran’s semi-official Fars New Agency reported that the incident and the arrest happened minutes before the Iran Air flight landed in the Syrian capital. Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Nushabadi said the suspect admitted he was intending to hijack the Airbus plane. The suspect was unarmed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Earthquake Jolts Firouzabad

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake jolted southern Iranian city of Firouzabad on Friday at 4 p.m. local time. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damages.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Iran at 2010 Asian Games

Ahmadreza Talebian wins gold in men's kayak 1000m sprint at the 2010 Asian Games. Team Iran won 20 gold medals and finished fourth behind China, South Korea and Japan.

Photo: Press TV

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pollution: Tehran Shut Down

The Iranian authorities today shut down the country's capital, closing down all offices, schools and shops due to extreme levels of air pollution. The visibility in Tehran is reportedly near zero. The authorities also said that the closing of the offices and schools might be extended beyond today and into next week.

Photos: Amir Kholoosi, ISNA

Bruce O. Riedel at The Iran Primer doesn't comprehend Iran's view of military status

by Mark Pyruz

Over at The Iran Primer Bruce O. Riedel provides a perspective titled Iran's Worsening Military Status. In it, Mr. Riedel maintains a belief that "Iran's military leaders, both in the regular military and the Revolutionary Guards, cannot be pleased with trends in the regional military balance." His assumption is based on a balance sheet of forces favoring numbers of the latest and most expensive conventional weapons systems. Recently, how many times has this proven illusory? Rest assured, the Iranians have taken notice of such.

Riedel asserts that America "mishandled" the military occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, opening the door for Iranian "interference". Here we have something of a contradiction. For the US possessed perhaps the most lopsided advantage in sophisticated and immensely powerful military forces, yet full-time insurgent forces never more than a few thousand strong and fielding only the bare essentials of small arms, rockets and explosives have managed--to date--to inflict over 30,000 casualties on this American fighting force. Don't think for a second this hasn't been lost on the Iranians.

Riedel believes that the developing militaries of Iraq and Afghanistan are reducing Iran's "room for maneuver". Left unsaid is Iran's intervention by elements of its military leadership (IRGC/Quds) that brokered the deal between the Iraqi Army and the Shia militias in 2008, which factually contradicts the supposedly triumphant American surge narrative. Perhaps this is the sort of "interference" Riedel is referring to? And to be sure, Iraq's present leadership leans heavily toward the resistance camp confronting Israel, so such a buildup of Iraqi military force can potentially be looked upon opportunistically by the Iranians.

Then there is the issue of the recent arms purchases by Gulf nations and Israel, with Riedel believing the Iranians look towards with dire envy. He couldn't be more wrong. In terms of the Gulf region, for the most part Iran's leadership looks upon these acquisitions as superfluous to already existing advantages. That is to say, they change very little the certain advantages already prevalent in the region, advantages representative of which that did not--in the final analysis--realize the stated goals of the 2006 Lebanon War and the two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Riedel seems to have the mistaken impression that Iran is arms hungry. He doesn't seem to be aware of the fact that Iran has on a number of occasions actually turned down Russian sales pitches for sophisticated weapon types. For example, in the 1990's Russia made a number of unsuccessful sales pitches for sophisticated combat aircraft types such as the MiG-31. Also, there is evidence that the initial Iranian acceptance of the Tor-M1 SAM system involved a level of diplomatic arm twisting. Looked upon from the Iranian perspective, the logic of Iran's defense policy based upon the deterrent value of its indigenously produced weapon types, such as its SSM forces, provide it with its best solution possible based upon its own unique needs.

"Na doost daram." A failed Russian MiG sales pitch in Tehran

Left unsaid in the Riedel piece is Iran's successful military influences in the 2006 Lebanon War (successful strike on the INS Hanit, signal intercepts of the IDF, light infantry tactics, etc.), its top level successes in relations with various Iraqi military forces, the strides made in SSM capability, the application of the Mosaic doctrine and more. On balance, it can be claimed that Iran's military has achieved much as a result of its own hard work and more sensible policies. But for someone like Riedel, the dollars and cents of high-end arms purchases provide the blinkers with which to narrowly focus upon the overall military situation in the region.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Iran Temporarily Halted Uranium Enrichment - IAEA

IAEA reported today that Iran had temporarily halted its uranium enrichment work earlier this month. The agency’s inspectors visiting the country’s enrichment unit at Natanz on 16 November observed that none of the cascades, normally comprising 164 centrifuges, were being fed with UF6 (uranium hexaflouride) to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU).

It was not immediately clear when the outage had started, but the Iranian authorities informed IAEA on Monday that 28 cascades were enriching uranium again [AFP & Reuters, 23 November].

Iran’s director of Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi today denied media reports that the outage might have been linked to the Stuxnet worm [ISNA, 23 November]. Some experts believe a technical problem could have been the cause.

Despite the temporary halt in uranium enrichment, IAEA report indicates that Iran's total output of LEU has reached 3,183 kilograms (7003 pounds), suggesting steady production in recent months. The country’s inventory of 20-percent enriched uranium has reached 33 kilos.

Meantime, the US today criticized Iran for its "continued failure" to cooperate with IAEA, after the report by the agency said Iran was still refusing to halt uranium enrichment.

IRIAF Introductory Flight Training: Video

H/T FulcrumPilot

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Defenders of Velayat Skies III (4)

click photos to enlarge
Upgraded S-200 SAM on rail-mounted launcher

Upgraded S-200 launch

Samavat 35 mm autocannon in action

Rapier SAM launcher unit


Photos: AliReza Farhadifar
Videos: PressTV and IRINN

Friday, November 19, 2010

Defenders of Velayat Skies III (3)

click photos to enlarge
Shahab Tagheb/FM-80 (HQ-7) short-range
air defense missile system

Shahab Tagheb/FM-80 (HQ-7) launch

Samavat 35 mm autocannons in action

K66 Back Trap based 3D radar

TPS-43 based 3D radar

Pulse Acquisition Radar (PAR) of a Mersad system


AliReza Farhadifar at FARS News Agency
Mehr News Agency
Iskamic Republic News Agency

Video: PressTV

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Defenders of Velayat Skies III (2)

click photos to enlarge
MIM-23 HAWK tracked carrier

MIM-23 HAWK (Shahin) SAM battery (1)

MIM-23 HAWK (Shahin) SAM battery (2)

MIM-23 HAWK (Shahin) SAM launch

Tall King 2-Dimensional VHF Band Surveillance Radar

Rapier SAM launcher


Alireza Farhadifar at FARS News Agency
Islamic Republic News Agency
Iranian Students' News Agency

Videos: PressTV and IRIB1

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Defenders of Velayat Skies III (1)

Photos from the ongoing air defense drill codenamed ''Defenders of Velayat Skies III'', reportedly the largest such exercise ever conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran:

click photos to enlarge
IRIAF F-14A Tomcat interceptors

IRIAF F-4E strike fighters

S-200 surface-to-air missile

S-200 SAM launch

MIM-23 HAWK (Shahin) battery

Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon emplacement

Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon Skyguard (Samavat)

Skyguard fire control radar

High Power Illuminator Radar (HPIR)
of a Mersad air defense system

Misagh MANPADS (QW Vanguard series)


Photos: Iranian Students' News Agency and Islamic Republic News Agency

Video: PressTV

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Subsidy Removals to Begin Next Week

Informed sources in Tehran are indicating that the first phase of the removal of the government subsidies will begin on Monday 22 November (1 Azar 1389). The official government announcement is expected on that day.

Meanwhile, in preparation for subsidy removals, the government announced today that it will deposit the second monthly payouts of $40 in the accounts of 60 million eligible Iranians (80% of the population) on 22 November. The government is estimating that the cash handouts will cost the country's treasury $12 billion during the last five months of the current Iranian calendar year (ending 20 March 2011).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

5th International Kish-Iran Air Show (photos)

Photos from the 5th International Kish-Iran Air Show, taken by Reza Rahmani and Alireza Rastad at MyAviation.ir. For more photos, click here. The official site for the Kish Air Show can be found here.

click photos to enlarge
IRGC Shahed 285 (1)

IRGC Shahed 285 (2)

HESA Iran 140 (1)

HESA Iran 140 (2)

HESA Iran 140 (3)

IRGCAF Antonev An-74TK-200

Antonev Design Bureau An-225 (1)

Antonev Design Bureau An-225 (2)

IRGCN Bell 206 JetRanger

Iran To Conduct Aerial War Games

The Commander of Iran's Air Defense Forces, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Miqani, told reporters in Tehran that his forces will conduct massive aerial war games starting on Tuesday 16 November, and lasting for five days, to test and analyze their air defense preparedness in case of massive air attacks on the country's nuclear sites and other sensitive military targets involving fighter jets, bombers, cruise missiles and UAVs [Fars News Agency, 14 November]. The war games are code named "Defenders of the Sky of Velayat III" and will cover the entire airspace of the country.

Gen. Miqani, whose forces have their headquarters at Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, added that in preparation of the upcoming exercise, his forces had recently conducted tactical drills at five of the most sensitive nuclear installations at the country. The sites included Natanz, Fordo, Esfahan, Tehran and Bushehr.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ahmadinejad Facing Fateful Decision Over the Caspian Sea

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will represent Iran in the Caspian Sea littoral states submit to be held in Baku on 18 November. The Submit is to approve a new convention of the seas legal regime for the Caspian. The five heads of state of Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, all bordering the Caspian Sea, will be in attendance.

Ahmadinejad will face a united front of Russia and the three former Soviet republics in pushing for a new “legal regime” that divides the sea equally among the five member states. But the issue for Iran is the existence of binding treaties that divides the sea equally between Iran and revolutionary Russia, and later between Iran and the Soviet Union. The birth of the three new republics bordering the Caspian after the collapse of the Soviet Union should not have changed Iran’s share of the sea. But this is not what Russia and its allies have on their minds. They do not want to divide the Soviet’s share into four, but the whole sea into five equal parts, reducing Iran’s share from half to one-fifth.

In 1921, the first of the two Caspian treaties was signed between Reza Shah's government and Lenin, then the new head of the revolutionary Russia. In 1940, Iran and the Soviet Union signed a second treaty reaffirming the equal division of the Caspian between the two nations. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of four Caspian republics in its place should not have changed Iran’s shares.

That’s the dilemma Ahmadinejad will face in Baku: if he goes along with Russia and signs the new “legal regime,” he runs the risk of being labeled a traitor by many Iranians. Still to this date, the memories of Qajar-era treaties with Tsarist Russia, when the Persian monarch relinquished vast territories of the country to Russia, are fresh on the minds of almost all Iranians. Ahmadinejad’s signing off on the new Caspian legal regime would be the déjà-vu of a disastrous period in the Iranian history.

Icon of Democracy Freed

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, global icon of democracy and resistance against tyranny, freed from detention. Saturday 13 November 2010.

Photo: Yahoo.com

CBI Report on Iran’s State of Economy – Growth Rate Not Reported

The Central bank of Iran (CBI) in its latest annual state-of-economy report, published today in Tehran, did not reveal the country’s rate of economic growth for the Iranian calendar year 1388 (ending 20 March 2010). This is the second consecutive year that the CBI is refusing to publish the country’s most vital economic statistics. It is believed that the CBI is under government pressure not to publish the sharp decline in the rate of economic growth in the past two years. The IMF estimates the rate to be under 1% for the period.

The CBI report shows Iran’s oil exports averaging at 2.24 million barrels a day for the period, the lowest figure in many years. The oil production for the year (ending 20 March 2010) shows a steep decline to 3.56 million barrels a day, a 10% decline from the previous year.

The country’s non-oil exports rose sharply to $21.3 billion in the period. Although the CBI report did not provide details, but this figure is thought to include the export of refined oil products.

The country’s foreign debts remained almost unchanged at $21.6 billion, which includes $8.8 billion in short-term debts.

For a detailed report on CBI’s statistics, please see Donya-e Eghtesad (in Farsi).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Iran/P5+1 Nuclear Talks Set for Early December

Iran and the major world powers have agreed to resume talks on Iran’s nuclear program on 5 December in Vienna. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili would represent Iran in the talks.

Earlier this week, Iran had proposed Istanbul as the venue for the talks and President Ahmadinejad had announced in a public rally in Qazvin that Iran would not discuss its nuclear program with P5+1 and would only attend the meeting to discuss “global issues.” But Iran is now sending its nuclear negotiator to Vienna to resume the nuclear talks.

Where Are Iran’s Top Students?

A friend of our blog has send us the photo of an Iranian newspaper cutout of June 2001, showing the pictures of the top 12 high school students in the country on that year, who had achieved top rankings in the difficult nationwide college entrance exams in the fields of mathematics and engineering, natural sciences, humanities, and arts.

The sender was able to identify some of the pictures and where they ended up after college. I thought to share the info with you.

Top row, right: Ms. Neda Nateq, ranked number one in math and engineering; Stanford University.

Top row, second from right: Ashkan Borna, ranked second in math and engineering, University of California, Berkley.

Top row, third from right: Ehsan Shafieie Pourafard, ranked third in math and engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Top row, fourth from right: Mohammad Fallahi, ranked number one in natural sciences, University of Michigan.

Top row, sixth from right: Payman Habibollahi, ranked third in natural sciences, Harvard.

Bottom row, right: Mohammad Reza Jalalipour, ranked number one in humanities, Evin prison, Tehran.